15th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate the following questions: -
– The honorable senator was good enough to inform me that he proposed to ask these questions, and, consequently, I am in a position to supply him with the following answers forthwith : -
£5 15s. tax is equivalent to approximately1d. a 2-lb. loaf. With regard to questions 3 and 4. I have had the following information compiled inrelation to bread costs: -
New South Wales Royal Commission on Bread considered that . 288d. a loaf covered 8 per cent. on capital invested and includes rent or interest on value of land and buildings, rates and taxes, income taxes, interest on borrowed money and a return on proprietor’s invested capital. The total included in the following table includes this figure and excludes figures shown in (b) above: -
– In view of the fact that, as the result of the recent wheat legislation, the price of broad has increased, will the Government take action to ensure that consumers get bread at the same price as they paid for it prior to the enactment of that legislation? Will the Government ascertain to what extent the price of bread by the single loaf has increased in each State?
– I think that an answer to the honorable senator’s question was contained in my reply to the previous questions. I said that the responsibility for fixing the prices of bread and flour rested upon the State authorities.
– I am not satisfied with that answer. I claim that it is not a complete reply to my question.
– The honorable senator is entitled to place the question on the notice-paper.
– by leave - I rise to make a personal explanation. In the Canberra Times this morning, the following statement appeared : -
When criticism was first raised against the Commonwealth wheat ‘legislation, the Prime Minister replied with an assurance that the legislation would not affect the price of bread. That assurance has been repeated since by speakers in Parliament who supported the measures which will inflict hardship on the poorer classes of the Australian people.
I am not particularly concerned about what the Prime Minister said on the matter, but, being one of those who spoke in this Parliament, I claim - and I think that other honorable senators will support me - that we did not say that the legislation would not result in an increase of the price of bread. What was said was that it should not do so.
– The. honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) distinctly said that it would not result in an increase.
– I expressed the opinion that it should not do so, and 1 claim that I submitted sound argument in support of that statement. 1 am sure that the public of Australia does not regard members of this Parliament as so unsophisticated as not to suppose that some sections of the community would take advantage of the wheat legislation to enhance their profits.
SenatorCollings. - Is an honorable senator in order, Mr. President, under cover ofa personal explanation, in making a second speech, after having exhausted his rights in connexion with the debate on the wheat legislation? Ifso, there will be no termination of this discussion, because all members of the Senate could express after-thoughts.
– The honorable senator did go slightly beyond a personal explanation, but his statement was very brief.
– Is the Leader of the Senate aware of the fact that the imposition of an excise duty on flour has caused an increase of the price of bread in most capital cities? Does he also know that only 10 per cent. of the bread consumed is purchased over the counter, and that no limit has been placed on the price which may be charged for bread delivered? What does the Government intend to do to protect the 90 per cent. of the people whose bread is delivered to them against exploitation by the imposition of high prices?
– I suggest that the honorable senator approach the Government of Tasmania; the matter is within that Government’s jurisdiction.
– As the action of the Government has resulted in the price ofbread being increased-
– Order ! The honorable senator may not make a statement in asking a question.
– If I were to ask whether the price of bread has risen, I should probably be referred to the statementjust made by the Minister. As legislation introduced by this Government for the purpose of granting assistance to farmers has resulted in the price of bread being raised, will the Government reconsider its decision not to do anything this Christmas for the unemployed, who will have to pay more for their bread than formerly?
– During the absence of the honorable senatorfrom the chamber last week, I made a statement setting out the policy of the Government in relation to unemployment. For his benefit, I nowrepeat that it is the policy of the Government to provide work to the fullest extent possible. The Government is convinced that its extensive defence programme will provide work for all who are anxious to obtain it.
– In viewof the fact that my question did not refer to Tasmania or Hobart, will the Leader of the Senate reply to it insofar as it relates to the other capital cities?
– Can the Leader of the Senate give an assurancethat work will be found for all the unemployed at Christmas?
– I have already stated the Government’s policy on this subject.
– On the 2nd December, Senator Keane (through Senator Collings) asked the Leader of the Senate the following question, upon notice: -
Willhe supply a statement showing the unemployment figures for each of the past four months ending the 15th November.1938?
The Treasurer has now supplied the following answer: -
It is not practicable to answer the question in the form desired, as unemployment statis tics are compiled quarterly, but the following details are supplied for the honorable member’s information: -
The percentage of recorded unemployment amongst members of reporting trade unions during the month of August, 1038, as compiled by the Commonwealth Statistician, were -
-Has the attention of the Leader of the Senate been drawn to the following newspaper report: -
Isadore Edelstein, a life convict, who was paroled last week on his agreement to go to Australia to start life anew, and the pilot were the only survivors of an unusual aeroplane drama thisweek….. . Edelstein, the paroled convict, was on his way to Sydney when the crash occurred. He was given the life sentence as an habitual criminal.
Can he say whether there is any agreement with the United States of America that the Commonwealth Government will accept, as permanent residents of Australia, American criminals on parole?
– The policy of the Government in this connexion has been stated on many occasions. No permit is granted until exhaustive inquiries regarding the applicant have been made by both Commonwealth and State officers. If the circumstances mentioned by the honorable senator be correct, the man referred to would not have been permitted to enter Australia.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Defence consider the desirability of pressing on with the work of erecting annexes to railway workshops in order to obviate the dismissal of railway employees in Victoria ?
– I shall bring the honorable senator’s question under the notice of the Minister concerned.
– On the 1st December,
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence the following questions, upon notice: -
The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : - 1 and 2. Statistics are not available.
Debate resumed from the 2nd December (vide page 2575), on motion by Senator Foll -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition intends to support this bill, whichwe are told is a step in the direction of producing complete motor cars in Australia. Although we on this side regret that it is only a small step, we are grateful that a start has been made in the direction indicated. It has been estimated that if 35,000 complete motor-car- engines were manufactured in Australia each year, employment would be given directly to about 10,000 persons, and indirectly to 40,000. In view of the regrettable increase of unemployment, that would be most desirable. Some honorable senators opposite may be disinclined to believe that unemployment is on the increase, but, unfortunately, it is a fact. A second depression is now definitely making its appearance, and one of the first results is an increase of the number of persons out of work. Two years ago the Government announced its policy of encouraging the manufacture in Australia of complete motor cars. Speaking at a function in Sydney in 1936, the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) said -
There is good reason to believe that the Australian market for cars is as satisfactory for engine production as for body production.
Honorable senators do not need to be told of the wonderful success that has attended the manufacture of motor-car bodies in Australia. Although a sum of about £1,000,000 has been raised by means of a special duty of . 7d. per lb. on motor chassis in order that this industry may be developed, practically nothing has been done. It is true that the matter has been referred to the Tariff Board for report, but, with all respect, I say that that was merely sham fighting in order to delay something about which the Government is not at all enthusiastic.
Instead of giving effect to its policy, the Government introduces this pettifogging, piece-meal legislation for the manufacture of radiators. 1 wonder whether the fact that the representatives in Australia of The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Limited, England, are opposed to the manufacture in this country of complete motor cars, has anything to do with the delay? I should not blame them if that were their attitude. That is their job. It is in keeping with what I have known ever since I was a young man. “Whenever any one suggested that Australia should manufacture certain articles, the reply was that it could not be done and should not be attempted. I can understand that the Ford Motor Company, of Geelong, should be opposed to the manufacture of complete motor cars in Australia. That company, which has a fine establishment and is noted for not doing things by halves, wants the Australian market to be available for its engines manufactured outside Australia. If that be the reason behind the delay, I can only say that it is unworthy of the Government, and is antiAustralian. I hope that it will not long be persisted in. In every case in which the Australian nation gives support, through the tariff or otherwise, to the establishment of industries in this country, care should he taken to ensure that employees in the industry are adequately protected as to wages and general conditions of labour. This matter was raised in the House of Representatives and an amendment was moved in connexion with it. I do not propose to move any amendment, because the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies), on behalf of the Government, gave a very definite assurance that the interests of the employees would be protected. I point out that the Iron and Steel Products Bounty Act 1922, the Wine Export Bounty Act 1934, and the Raw Cotton Bounty Act 1934, provides that the bounty may be withheld if the interests of the employees are not protected as laid down in each of those acts. The Attorney-General expressed doubt as to the constitutionality of such a provision, but he gave a very definite assurance on behalf of the Government that what the amendment moved in the House of Representatives was designed to achieve would be duly secured. I ask the Minister in charge of the bill if, on behalf of the Government, he will give the Senate a similar assurance.
The Opposition supports the bill because it is a step, however small, in the right direction. “We regret that it is not a bigger step, but we are powerless to increase the momentum. “We hope that before very long a further step forward will be made, so that in the near future we shall have complete motor cars manufactured in the Commonwealth.
.- The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) has said quite correctly that this measure represents a small step towards the ultimate manufacture of complete motor cars in Australia. However small this step may be, it is being taken on very authoritative advice, because it was the only action recommended by the Tariff Board in connexion with the’ decisions made by this Government two years ago as part of its blundering trade diversion policy, which has since caused great injury to the primary industries of this country by robbing them of some of their best markets, including countries which were buying from three to four times as much from u3 as we were selling to them. It was part of that policy that Australia should manufacture complete motor cars. In considering this proposal, which the Leader of the Opposition has recommended, and which honorable senators should certainly accept, seeing that it has been recommended by two of the four members of the Tariff Board, it is interesting to review the Government’s blundering trade diversion policy and recall the terms under which the possibility of manufacturing motor cars in Australia was referred to the Tariff Board. In 99 cases out of 100 the hoard is asked to report as to whether a proposal is wise or ‘unwise, but in this instance, its terms of reference were very unusual. This fact is made clear in the board’s report -
On tho 1st December, 19315, the Minister for Trade and Customs referred to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report, in accordance with the Tariff Board Act 1921-1934, the following matter: - “ The best means of giving effect to the Government’s policy of establishing in Australia the manufacture of engines and chassis of motor vehicles with considerationgiven to the general national and economic aspect.”
The board was not asked to advise in general terms as to the desirability of establishing this industry; it was asked to report as to “ the best means of giving effect to the Government’s policy to that end “. It is also interesting to note that the board was unanimous in respect of only four conclusions to which I shall refer later. Its report includes reports by individual members, and also a very significant letter from Mr. White, the then Minister for Trade and Customs, in which, in referring the whole matter back to the board, he set out a great many points on which he desired full information. The board’s reply to that request for information also is contained in the report. The board did wonderful work in this investigation, and its report shows that it has studied the need to protect the interests of the 50,000 people who are already engaged in the motor car industry in Australia. Although it has always shown itself desirous of seeing new industries established and existing industries expanded in this country, it could come to no conclusion other than that the blundering trade diversion policy of this Government was premature and uneconomic. Its conclusions were -
It would be interesting to know what action, if any, the Government has taken as the result of this observation by the board that the prices of cars in Australia are too high.
– What action would the honorable senator suggest that the Government should take?
– I suggest that it should not encourage the manufacture of motor ears, if, as the
Tariff Board suggests, such action were going to increase the price of cars, trucks and tractors and so increase the cost of transport and production throughout Australia.
– The industry would give employment to some of our people.
– The board’s report points out that 50,000 people are already employed in the motor car industry in this country, and it observes that we should be very careful to do nothing to dislocate the employment of those people. The cars already on the market have proved records behind them. Senator A. J. Mclachlan has asked what the Government should do in this matter. As the honorable senator is an authority on the Constitution, and had the privilege of sitting in the high councils of the Government when this report was received, and prior to its receipt, he might be good enough to answer that question for the benefit of myself and other honorable senators. At any rate, the Minister in charge of the measure might be good enough to answer that question. I suggest that the Government might for a start, waive the special duty of £25 on chassis.
– But apart from that, the board says that the present prices of motor cars are too high.
– It says that the present prices are “far too high,” and. surely that is a matter which should be dealt with by some governmental authority; otherwise, what is the use of the Tariff Board going to such pains in making a report? The Government has made the prices higher still by a special duty ranging from £20 to £30 on motor chassis. Surely it is not unreasonable to suggest that since September, 1937, the date on which this report was furnished, some action should have been taken by the Government to reduce the prices of motor cars. The fourth conclusion reached by the board was -
In each of the reports submitted by individual members of the board, honorable senators will find very little to support the Government’s policy for the manufacture of complete motor cars in this country, because the Tariff Board found that such a project would be uneconomical. Consequently the board has recommended that the most that can be undertaken in this direction for the time being is the manufacture of radiators. Is is very interesting to note what Mr. Guy and Mr. Kelly said in t heir report -
We consider that encouragement for extension should take either or both of the following forms: -
Relief from restrictions and duties now operating upon imported chassis in consideration for extension of the proportion manufactured in Australia;
Those two gentlemen suggest that the duty on imported chassis should be reduced.
– Do you support that suggestion?
– Yes, wholeheartedly. Just now Senator A. J. McLachlan asked mc what the Government should have done. It should have implemented this recommendation of Mr. Guy and Mr. Kelly for a reduction of duties. That is a partial answer to the question asked by Senator A. J. McLachlan a few moments ago, and had that recommendation been adopted the prices of motor cars would be cheaper than they are to-day. I. do not wish the Leader of the Opposition or any of his vigilant and valiant supporters to say that I aru opposed to the establishment of the motor car industry in Australia, because I am as anxious as is any honorable senator opposite that industries should be established here if they can bc launched on an economic basis. But this cannot he done at the present time. The Government is right in adopting only the policy embodied in this bill, because in doing so it is refraining from placing an unnecessarily heavy burden on the cost of motor vehicles used in transport. Those engaged in primary production depend largely upon rapid motor transport to enable them to carry on their industry profitably. It would bo interesting to know what tho cost of motor trucks used on practically every farm and in rural industries generally would be had we to rely upon motor vehicles made solely in Australia. Tractors also would be at a prohibitive price if they were made locally under existing conditions. This is an instance in which the Government has wisely abandoned its blundering trade diversion policy and has adopted the recommendation of the Tariff Board to confine its efforts to radiators. Tlie second recommendation made by Mr. Guy and Mr. Kelly read -
Encouragement by payment of bounty where necessary to any organization prepared to extend manufacture of chassis parts.
That is the action which the Government proposes to take under this measure, , and that also is an answer in part to the question asked by Senator A. J. McLachlan. I support the payment of a bounty rather than the imposition of high protective duties, because under thu bounty system a charge is imposed on the whole of the Australian people, largely in proportion to their ability to bear the burden.
– The honorable senator was not in favour of the payment of a wheat bounty.
– The honorable senator is wrong. I supported the payment of the wheat bounty and would favour a continuous and increased bounty on wheat production. Under the bounty system the people know exactly what they are paying, but under a system of high protective duties they do not know what direct or indirect contribution they have to make. They know what they have to pay for an imported article, but they do not know the indirect additional cost occasioned by high protective duties on the products of local factories. I commend the Government upon the action it has taken to pay a bounty on radiators. The report of Mr. Guy and Mr. Kelly continued -
The parties contemplating manufacture should be made aware that the Government, before granting relief or encouragement, would submit proposals or requests to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report.
In conclusion, we desire toemphasize two points made in the main report -
That the big investment of capital and the employment of 50,000 people in the motor industry in Australia demand that care be taken not further to restrict business lest unemployment and loss should result;’
That the price of cars is already too high, being twice that charged in the United States of America (both expressed in the same currency). This tends to retard business and imposes heavy costs on transport.
In connexion with (2) above, we consider relief should be given where possible, and nothing should be done to make the present position worse.
Notwithstanding that recommendation the Government did something which was infinitely worse by imposing a charge of £25 on each chassis. The Board went very carefully into the manufacture in Australia of motor car parts, and it is amazing to find the long list of parts referred back by the Minister for further information. The board’s report gives a good deal of detail on these points. Mr. Guy and Mr. McConachy, in their report of the 8th September, 1938, submitted the following summary of what they recommended : -
with provision, as a safeguard against possible loss of protection if exchange should move towards parity with sterling, for automatic adjustment on a scale that would result in the duties at par exchange being: -
5.That a further review of the duties on radiator assemblies for original equipment be made two years after the protective rates recommended above come into operation.
For the purposes of the above recommendations the term “ radiator assembly “ is intended to include the core, upper and lower tanks, side members, anchorages, inlet and outlet castings, overflow pipe,baffle and filler neck, but not the shell, grid, filler cap or drain cock.
Attention is also invited to the following: - (a) The board’s suggestion under the heading “ Radiators in Small Demand “ for the admission of heavy tubular or specialtype assemblies for commercial vehicles at no higher rates than those now applying.
– They said a lot more than that.
– Yes, I commend the whole of these two reports to the careful consideration of honorable senators.
– The honorable senator has not given the reasons for those recommendations.
– I have not sufficient time to go further, but the reasons are well known to honorable senators. Mr. Rose concluded by saying -
I therefore recommend that the Government consider -
Formulating measures to regulate internal competition in the manufacture of radiator assemblies and other goods.
Initiating negotiations to form a company, constituted as set out in this report, for the manufacture of radiator assemblies.
I support the measure because I believe in the principle of bounties. I am aware that the operations of the measure are limited to two years, and I would prefer a permanent bounty to a duty at the expiration of that period. I am pleased that no further burden is to be placed upon primary producers and others who use motor equipment in transport and production. Present disabilities would have been very much more apparent had full effect been given to the Government’s trade diversion policy.
– A few days ago I supported the payment of a bounty on wheat, and I propose to support this measure in which provision is made for the payment of a bounty on certain motorcar parts, because the payment of such a bounty will tend to increase production and help to raise the Australian standard of living. We are living largely in a mechanical age, and a few years “ago it would have been almost impossible to have foreseen the wonderful mechanical development which has taken place in recent years. In moving the second reading of the bill the Minister said that the bounty is to be paid on only a very small portion of the finished article, but, as an honorable senator interjected, the finished article is of paramount importance to industry and to the Australian people generally. I do not suppose that any mechanical equipment has been of greater assistance to industry and to primary producers than have motor vehicles. The internal combustion engine to-day is the principal supplier of power in all classes of industry. In my opinion, it takes precedence over all other forms of machinery, and is the principal factor in keeping the wheels of industry turning. As we have good reason to know, the artisan and the labourer naturally resent the introduction of machinery into industry.
– Not necessarily.
– Let me state the position in this way: Even if the use of machinery reduces the cost of an article, that is poor consolation to the worker if he has not the wherewithal to buy it. Machinery has not, for the farmers, the sentimental value attaching to his teams of horses when they supplied the power for the working of his farm. Many of us can recall the days when, next to his wife and family, the farmer’s most important possession was his stable team. Nowadays, in nine cases out of ten, machinery has taken the place of animal power in both seeding and harvesting. Its effect on the rural worker is as importantas it is on the factory employee. But the problem is capable of solution. If machinery, applied to secondary and primary production,is to put men out of work, the proper course is to devise the means to put these men back into work on, say, the manufacture of that machinery.
– Or to establish a shorter working week in industry.
SenatorFraser. - Does the honorable senator think that the work of manufacturing a particular machine could absorb all those thrown out of work by its introduction?
– No, but I do think that we could give employment to a large number of Australian workers by manufacturing, in this country, machinery which at present is brought from other parts of the world, and the use of which displaces men from employment. I am positive that not only motor-car radiators, but also every part of an internal-combustion engine,can be manufactured in Australia. It is a gross reflection upon the ability of our engineers that internal-combustion engines have to be imported.
– The honorable senator had better talk to the Government about that.
– I am talking to the Government now. There are, in various parts of Australia, well established motor-body building industries, which are turning out a highly satisfactory article and giving employment to a large number of people. Although I am not interested in any of those companies, I believe that the shareholders are getting a fair return for their money. More than 12,000 men are employed in the Australian motor-body building industry, which produces annually 70,000 car bodies for the 70,000 chassis that are imported. There is no valid reason why these 70,000 motor chassis should not be produced in this country. I believe that the production of a first-class internal-combustion engine is well within the capacity of Australian engineers and workmen. I draw attention to the fact that twelve or fifteen years ago a twin-cylinder engine was built in Adelaide by a man named Weige. After being demonstrated in several cities in Australia, the enginewas taken to
Britain by the promoters and there installed in another car, the purpose being to obtain financial backing to manufacture the engine in large numbers and to place it on the market. It was run all over Britain, and later the promoters took it to the Continent, but, although it stood up to every test, the promoters were unsuccessful. It was claimed that as it was a two-cylinder job, the engine would not be durable, and also that it would not develop sufficient speed or power. That engine is now back in Adelaide, and only four months ago members of the South Australian Parliament were invited to inspect it. It has driven a car hundreds of thousands of miles and has proved its efficiency under all conditions. It has now been reconditioned, and when I saw it recently it was in perfect working order, fit to be again installed in a car and undertake more heavy work.
I cite the case of the Weige engine because it has been claimed that a motorcar engine cannot be successfully manufactured in Australia and also because of the fact that there is on the Australian market to-day a German car known as the D.K.W. I recently had the pleasure of being given a demonstration of this car. I do not claim to be a mechanic, but I have held a driving licence for 30 years, and in all my experience I have never sat in a motor car which had better acceleration, or more speed and power, than the twin-cylinder, German D.K.W. That car is now being successfully marketed in Australia, whereas a pioneer twin-cylinder engine built in Australia fifteen years ago has been neglected.
– At what price is the D.K.W. car being sold?
– At approximately the same figure as English and American cars of the same class. I cite the case of the D.K.W. as an example of what can be done with a two-cylinder engine such as the one manufactured in this country fifteen years ago.
I agree with the previous speaker that the captains of industry arc largely to blame for the lack of progress in the establishment of the manufacture of motorcars in Australia. It cannot be denied that Australia has the men and the material. Let us get on with the job. I do not care whether the industry is established in the south of Tasmania, or the north-west of Western Australia. The main thing is that the industry should be established. I believe that wo can do it. I heartily support the bill.
.- As the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) said, the Opposition will support this bill. In my opinion, however, the proposal will merely prolong the agony of dying private enterprise. There is a limit tothe degree to which the Government can go with measures such as this. Apparently, the Government would rather pay a bounty to prolong the life of dying private enterprise, than utilize available finance for the establishment of national workshops to build internal combustion engines, or subsidize existing State workshops. In Victoria, as in other States, there are State engineering workshops capable of doing this work. As Senator James McLachlan said, the work that is being done in these workshops to-day is equal, if not superior, to similar work in any other part of the world. Apparently, the Government is reluctant to encourage further expansion of these workshops, and the development of engineering generally in Australia under government control. The reason is perfectly obvious. The Government considers that it owes a greater obligation to private enterprise, or those who control it, than to the people generally, and more particularly to the large and everincreasing section of the community whichis denied employment by private enterprise. Private enterprise cannot supply continuous employment. In this respect it is failing every day ofthe week. Senator James McLachlan said that workers were opposed to labour-saving machinery. I do not admit that. But the workers are opposed to labour-saving machinery being used to their detriment. The introduction of machinery in many industries causes the workers to lose their skill as craftsmen; it reduces them to the level of the semi-skilled, and ultimately they pass into the ranks of the permanently unemployed. I repeat that it is not machinery in industry that is causing trouble, so much as the system under which industry is managed. If the machinery were used - as it could and ultimately must be used - for the purpose of enabling workers to live under more congenial conditions, to reduce working hours, and ensure the payment of higher wages, there -would be no objection to its introduction. In fact, it would be welcome, because it would be of great benefit to the working community of this and ,.,verY other country. But while industry is controlled by private enterprise, which will not employ workers unless at a .profit, the introduction of machinery will be to the detriment of the workers. There is no limit to the degree to which Australian industries could be developed. As Senator James McLachlan said - if I understood him correctly - there is no scarcity of materials or man-power in Australia, but there appears to bc a scarcity of brains. I agree with him.
If the people thoroughly understood the position, the bounty would be regarded as paltry for the purpose in view, and, in order to extend Australian industries in every possible direction and to make full use of the available man-power and resources, they would place in charge of the affairs of the nation men of greater imagination and capacity than those now in office. Senator James McLachlan contrasted the neglect of an. Australian-made two-cylinder motor engine of proved merit with the success of a similar engine imported from Germany. “Why can we not make better use of the resources and manpower at our disposal? I submit that the reason why the Australian engine was rejected is that engines can be manufactured overseas at a lower cost and that the cheaper article was preferred, thus effectively hindering the development of an Australian industry. It has been said repeatedly that certain articles cannot be made satisfactorily in Australia because the costs of production are too great in comparison with the costs overseas. The implication is that Australian workers mutt be prepared to accept rates of wages and living conditions similar to those of overseas workers before secondary industries can be widely established in this country In order to make it practically self-contained. Some people say that production costs must be reduced at least to the level of costs in .America, Germany or Janan before Australia can make satisfactory industrial progress. My reply is that, provided the necessary brain-power is available in Australia and is used a3 it should bc, industries could be established in many directions without reducing the living standards of the workers. I submit that we could go further than that. “We could establish many new industries, and at the same time raise the living standards of the workers. Our surplus man-power is increasing. “We have at our disposal all the material resources needed, and we have a country second to none. All that the Government is prepared to do, however, under this measure, is ‘to provide a paltry £30,000 to assist a private enterprise. This state of affairs will continue until the people make up their minds that they will not tolerate it any longer, and decide to elect a government that will take action in the direction that I have indicated.
When new methods are advocated, it is necessary to repeat the arguments used in support of them, because it is difficult to convince men who arc graduates of a certain school of thought that any new idea is not a good one; sooner than believe or give effect to it, they would allow the community to continue under the .present disadvantages. I repeat that tho cost of establishing new industries is a diminishing quantity and should be measured only in terms of labour time and of gold. The cost of almost any commodity 0nc cares to name is not an increasing one. but, in terms of inflated currency - inflated for the purpose mainly of bolstering up dying private enterprise - it would appear to be increasing all along the line. Personally, I do not accept the view of those who say that Australia cannot manufacture motor-car engines or anything else it needs, because of the cost of production. We should think in terms of the material resources at our disposal rather than in terms of manipulated currencies. If that could be done by the majority of governments, I believe that a wonderful improvement would be effected. I suggest that, in providing for a bounty on radiators, this Parliament is asked to take the roundabout road instead of the direct one. No doubt, after this bounty has been granted, further bounties will be asked for. Then it may dawn upon those charged with the responsibility of the government of this country that it has been responsible for enormous economic waste, and that, instead of giving to private enterprise bounties which are not always used for the purpose for which they are intended, the people, through the medium of its governmental and subordinate institutions, should undertake the responsibility of developing industries in Australia from the point where private enterprise has failed.
.- It would be very easy to be led astray from the subject-matter of the debate, and to reply to some of the remarks by Senator Cameron. 1 do not propose to follow him in either his philosophic fallacies or his economic contortions, except to say that he is hammering away at his old theory that the mechanization of industry has been responsible for depriving men of work. As I have previously stated, despite the mechanization of industries, the number of employees in factories in Australia is greater than ever before. Although some workmen may be temporarily dispossessed of certain jobs, other employment is found in making and repairing machinery and keeping - it in order. With new machines turning out three or four times the quantity of goods that was previously produced by hand, or by older kinds of plant, persons in receipt of ordinary wages can now afford luxuries which 50 or 60 years ago they had no hope of ever enjoying. I shall resist the temptation to follow Senator Cameron into all the by-ways of his argument. One of his suggestions was that industry should be under government control, and that then it would be under more capable men than those who now control it. What does he mean by that ? The men now in charge of industrial organizations have spent the greater part of their lives in that work. Does the honorable senator suggest that more highly-trained factory managers, engineers and others, could be found to conduct these industries in a way superior to that in which they are now managed? Whom does he suggest should be employed for this work? I can only imagine that he would either go overseas for these superior persons who are needed to displace the Australians now in charge, or he is thinking of under taking the task himself. My soul revolts at the idea of Senator Cameron being in charge of the works of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited at Port Kembla, and conducting them successfully.
I am ashamed of this bill, and I arn ashamed to be put in the position of having to vote for it. My only reason for supporting it is that if I voted against it I should appear to be opposed to the encouragement of an Australian industry. What does this little bill amount to? If I were asked to give advice to the Government I should say, “ Take the measure away, recast it and make it something worth while “. We are told that a step is being taken in the rightdirection, but it is a step so small and slow that any self-respecting tortoise would be ashamed of it. The bill is intended to encourage the manufacture of radiator cores by means of a bounty of 10s. each. I suppose that the average motor car costs about £300. Is a bounty of 10s. on a radiator likely to make much difference to the manufacturers and dealers of motor cars? Is it likely to result in the purchase of an Australian-made radiator core instead of obtaining one from overseas? The whole thing is absurd. Out of the accumulated profits of the last few years the motor car firms could afford to import the radiator, adding 10s. to the cost of putting the com:plete article on the market, or they could add that amount to the selling cost of the car, and no complaint would be heard. On what ground has the Tariff Board recommended this futile proposal? For some years the Government has been collecting a duty on motor chassis of 7d. a lb., and has collected about £1,000,000. It has that huge sum practically to play with, but it is frightened to trust itself. Is it so bankrupt of ideas that with £1,000,000 at its disposal it cannot put the money to good use in an attempt to establish the manufacturing of motor cars in Australia? It is claimed that this bill will encourage the making of motor engines, but if so, it will only be by a monopoly. I claim to have some knowledge of factory management. The first thing that a factory manager will want to know is what conditions he has to comply with in order to qualify for the bounty. On examining this legislation, he will find that the bounty is to last for only two years. Before he can commence manufacturing he must supply himself with jigs, dies and tools. That would take twelve months, after which he would have only a further twelve months in which to develop the local market by persuading the assemblers of motor cars that they should install his radiators in their vehicles. A further examination of the legislation will show him that if he happens to make in any year or any part ofa year a profit of more than 10 per cent on his capital, he will not he entitled to the bounty. It may be that some firms in Australia already have the dies for the manufacture of radiators. If that be so, this bill is merely an attempt to give to them a monopoly of this business. There is no encouragement to the proprietor of an ordinary engineering shop to start in this new branch of manufacture. A further examination of the legislation would reveal that the manufacturer will have to register his factory. Clause 11(2) provides - (2.) The Minister may require any person applying for the appointment of his premises as a factory under this section to furnish information as to the nature of the business or proposed business, . the marketing possibilities for the goods, and such other matters as the Minister thinks fit.
When asked to state his opinion as to the marketing possibilities for the goods, the intending manufacturer can only say that if anybody will buy his goods, he will be willing to make them.
SenatorCollings. - He cannot get the bounty unless he conforms to those conditions. Surely that is not unreasonable.
– My point is that he will never commence manufacture. When he realizes all the restrictions that will be placed upon him, he will be afraid to start.
SenatorCollings. - Then he will not get the bounty.
SenatorLECKIE. - No manufacturer will get the bounty except, perhaps, the firm or company which the Tariff Board had in mind. Other provisions of the bill which have to be complied with are - (12.) For the purposes of this section, the Minister may -
determine what amount of capital is from time to time employed by any manufacturer in the manufacture and sale of goods and what amount of net profit is derived by that manufacturer from the manufacture and sale of those goods:
When he has read all those requirements the manufacturer is likely to say, “ This is not my job. There is no encouragement here for me to make radiator parts.” In his establishment he may have several big presses which will be used for all kinds of work. He will be required to keep accurate accounts of the time occupied by each machine on this and that job. The accounting work required would cost him more than 10s. for each radiator manufactured by him. I am ashamed of the bill. The Government should withdraw it and seek the advice of men who know something about manufacturing before it is reintroduced. From time to time, the producers of butter, wheat, wool, meat and other products are consulted about proposed legislation, but when legislation dealing with manufactures is contemplated, manufacturers are, to a great extent, ignored.
SenatorFoll. - The representatives of the manufacturers give evidence at every Tariff Board inquiry.
– Unless they are immediately concerned, they do not give evidence. As a matter of fact, they are not invited to give evidence. Naturally, if they see that an inquiry is being made into something that affects them, or the organization to which they belong, they appear before the Tariff Board.
– There have been no complaints from manufacturers in that regard.
– I am making a complaint now. I tell the Minister that Australian manufacturers are thoroughly dissatisfied with the way in which they are ignored in matters that concern them and their employees. It is time that the Government took notice of men who know their job. This bill has been drafted by men who know nothing about manufacture.
– Like Senator Leckie, I support the principle underlying this ‘bill, but I strongly oppose the terms in which it has been drafted. We all desire to see secondary industries established in Australia, and are prepared to lend our support to every bona fide effort to achieve that objective. What we want to-day is a greater number of men in industry who are prepared to take risks. The payment of a bounty for the establishment and assistance of secondary industry has much to commend it, but when a bounty is surrounded with so many restrictions as are imposed in this bill, the benefit is virtually placed outside the reach of any honest manufacturer. What man, in order to obtain a bounty of 10s. for each radiator manufactured by him during a period of two years, will, in effect, allow a policeman into his factory, and fill in forms and comply with the conditions that are set out in this bill? Under this legislation, a man will not be entitled to the bounty if his profit on the capital employed in the manufacture of the particular article exceeds 10 per cent. Obviously, no manufacturer is likely to confine his operations to the making of radiators; he will make other things as well. How will it be possible for him so to dissect the capital invested in the business as to allocate a certain percentage of it to the manufacture of radiators and the remainder to other portions of. his business?
– It is a simple ma’tter of accountancy.
– Recently, a number of honorable senators visited the small arms factory at Lithgow, where they saw a machine making screws, various others manufacturing parts of rifles, and so on. Does any honorable senator think that it is possible to assess the capital employed in the making of those screws?
– It can be done easily. Every factory keeps such accounts.
– In saying that, the honorable senator shows his complete ignorance of manufacture.
– For 22 years I was a factory accountant, and I know what I am talking about.
– Honorable senators should ask themselves the meaning of “ capital “. Is it nominal capital, or paid-up capital, or capital plus reserves ?
– Often it is mostly watered stock.
– That is so in many instances. '’Senator Collings will agree that it would be possible for any manufacturer who wanted to come within the scope of this legislation to water Ma capital, in order to reduce his profits thereon.
– That would be easily detected by a competent, government accountant*.
– In its present form, the bill contains so many restrictions that no manufacture^ other than an existing monopoly, as Senator Leckie has suggested, is likely to avail himself of its provisions. We are inducing in Australia an entirely wrong outlook. Instead of encouraging men to manufacture successfully, we penalize the man who is successful. The successful manufacturer will not, be permitted to participate in this bounty. We are always throwing out sops to inefficiency. We should give every inducement to men who are prepared to risk their capital, and not blackguard them when they make u success of their venture. I ask the Government to consider the omission of all the provisions from clause 11 onwards. The Government should say to the people of Australia that it wants the manufacture of motor-car engines to be commenced in this country, and that the provision of a bounty on radiators is a. step in that direction. It. is not sufficient to say merely that it is willing that a start be made with the manufacture of radiators for a period of two years under certain conditions, which involve practically the authority for a policeman to enter the factory and examine everything that takes place there, including, in some instances, secret manufacturing processes. If I were a manufacturer I should view this measure in the same light as Senator Leckie. Rather than subject myself to the formalities and restrictions contained in clauses 11 to 22, I should prefer to go without the miserable 10s. The Government should consider tho deletion of all of those clauses. After all, this scheme is to operate for only two years, and if we can get the industry established without imposing all these restrictions and conditions, then two year3 hence, if an application be made for a renewal of this arrangement, reasonable conditions can be imposed if Parliament thinks fit. Those clauses embody provisions which offer no encouragement to the establishment of the industry. On the one hand, we say to the manufacturers that we want them to start, and to that end we are prepared to pay a bounty, but, on the other hand, we impose restrictions which, I believe, no manufacturer will accept.
Dealing with the bigger issue raised by honorable senators opposite, and also by Senator James M’cLachlan, concerning the complete manufacture of car engines in this country, I believe that we have the men and the material for that work. I believe also that the Australian market of 6,500,000 people is sufficient for one, or possibly two, manufacturers who will have to be given a monopoly of the industry. Honorable senators and the public generally should realize what that means. I venture to say that the complete manu.facture of motor engines in Australia cannot be undertaken unless the manufacturer, or manufacturers, be given a virtual monopoly of the Australian market, and unless the public of Australia be willing to accept motor engines of possibly not more than two types. The manufacture of tlie complete car engine iti Australia involves the acceptance by the Australian people of a standard engine, and the elimination of the wide range, of choice which the Australian now enjoys and seems so much to like. Before we rush into this project, we should ask the Australian people whether they are prepared to pay the price. This project can succeed at a price, and it is for the Australian people to say whether they will limit their choice so that, for the purpose of establishing this industry in Australia, car engines of one or two kinds only will be manufactured. At present hundreds of different kinds of car engines are sold on the Australian market. We shall have to be prepared individually to limit our choice to one or two kinds of engine.
– That would not be too much to ask.
– I am not saying that it would; but it is a matter which the Australian people should be given an opportunity to decide, before a limitation is forced upon them, as honorable senators opposite suggest.
– Could we not make more than one kind of car engine?
– When this industry is established our manufacturers will be confined to the Australian market. If that market to-day represents a sale of 80,000 cars a year, it would mean that each of two manufacturers would have to bc satisfied with a sale of 40,000 engines, and it is doubtful whether that would be a payable proposition. Senator Leckie will agree, I believe, that if the market for, each manufacturer were reduced to 20,000 engines a year, it would not be profitable. However, I am not competent to say whether one, two, three or four manufacturers should share the monopoly. At present the Australian people like variety, and within the next few years they should be consulted - not by means of a referendum, but through public utterance - as to whether they are prepared to make the sacrifice -by limiting their choice in the way I suggest, for the purpose of enabling complete car engines to he manufactured in this country.
– They have no choice with regard to defence; why give them a choice in this instance?
– At the moment, I am not expressing an opinion either for or against the proposal; I wish to give the matter very serious consideration. I am merely making clear my belief that we can manufacture the complete motorcar engine in Australia,but, at the same time, I am convinced that it will mean a sacrifice of the right of choice and variety which the Australian people enjoy to-day.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that a monopoly should be given to one or two manufacturers?
SenatorWILSON. - If we are going to start the manufacture of motor car engines in Australia, we must give the manufacturer, or manufacturers - preferably manufacturers - a sufficient market to enable them to produce economically. If the people of Australia are prepared to limit their choice even to the extent of a possible monopoly, a sufficient market will be available to enable the industry to be established on an economic basis, but whether the people are prepared to make that sacrifice, I am not prepared to say at the moment.
– I support this measure as a first instalment of a complete motor manufacturing industry in this country. I agree with Senator Leckie that, when an inquiry of such importance as this is made,the manufacturers and industrialists of this country should be consulted. I do not concede to the Tariff Board the right to appraise and practically dictate the policy of this country on matters which, I suggest, the business and industrial community of this country attended to efficiently before this Government made the Tariff Board supreme on all these matters. I recall that, when I was a member of the House of Representatives, the Tariff Board killed quite a number of good things. I commend the Government on this relatively small instalment. I remember that the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), as long ago as 1936, said that there was good reason to believe that the Australian market for motor cars “was as satisfactory for engine production as for the production of motor car bodies. All of us agree that the Australian manufactured motor body is not a bad job, and thousands of bodies are being turned out monthly in this country. I suggest that the chassis and mechanism of a car arc not beyond the Australian workman. To illustrate that point, I. refer to the class of locomotive which is being made for the Australian railways, particularly in Victoria and New South Wales. These engines compare more than favorably with those made in any other country. I instance also the production of tractors, reapers and binders, which are triumphs of engineering ingenuity. These implements are being turned out quite satisfactorily by Australian workmen. The Government has already accumulated a fund of £1,000,000 from the special duty of . 7d. per lb. on motor chassis, and it could use that money for the purpose of carrying out its experimental work in connexion with the production of complete motor cars in this country on a commercial basis. I suggest to Senator Wilson that it will be useless to undertake this industry unless we can turn out cars at a price which the average Australian is prepared to pay. The suggestion of manufacturing a standard engine appeals to me. I hope, also, that when the industry, is established the government of the day will bear in mind the interests of the aged, the sick, and the women and children of this country, by ensuring that, whatever engine is adopted, it shall have a limited maximum speed in order to prevent the horrors which occur daily on our roadways. To-day, motor accidents take tremendous toll of life. My main reason for supporting this measure is that the new industry will provide more employment. As to whether private enterprise will seriously take up the proposition I cannot say, but I am inclined to think that Senator Leckie is correct when he suggests that only one or two of the existing organizations will be interested in it. That is a possibility; nevertheless, the new industrywill provide more jobs. Despite what Senator Leckiehas said in respect of factory employment in this country, he forgets that there are tens of thousands of men who have been displaced from industry for all time and have no hope of ever getting a job again in this country. Therefore, the establishment of an industry such as this will be supported by every honorable senator on this side. I believe that it will eventually develop into a huge undertaking. When he was abroad recently, Mr. White, the then Minister for Trade and Customs, acted on the right lines in interviewing the representatives of big motor organizations in Great Britain with a view to inducing them to manufacture their cars completely in this country. I agree that the present price of cars in Australia is outrageous, but the import duties account for more than one-third of the price of the average car. I can visualize the day when we shall be manufacturing complete motor cars in this country. After all, the men who would be making them would know as well as any overseas manufacturer what is suitable for our conditions. I repeat that any proposal advanced by this Government for the creation of a new industry should have the support of every honorable senator, and I believe that as Avas the case with the notorious wheat legislation passed last week, this measure will be supported by every honorable senator. According to remarks made in this chamber to-day, it would appear that even the manufacture of radiators in Australia is being opposed by certain overseas interests. I regret that a provision has not been made in the bill to ensure that all employees in the industry shall be paid award rates and shall work under award conditions. Although the Attorney-General stated that there is some constitutional difficulty in the matter, the Wine Bounty Bill, Iron and Steel Bounty Bill and Raw Cotton Bounty Bill, passed by the Scullin Government, contained such a provision. The responsibility rests largely upon the Government, which can withhold the bounty if award conditions are not observed. I intend to support the bill, because *I believe that a commencement should be made to manufacture motor cars in Australia, but I regret that an amount of approximately £1,000,000, which has accumulated as a result of a tax on imported chassis, is not being used to encourage the manufacture of complete units in Australia. The establishment of the motor-car manufacturing industry here would relieve unemployment, which is causing so much distress in Australia at present.
.. The only regret I have in connexion with this measure is that the Government has not provided for the payment of a bounty on all motor cars manufactured in Aus tralia. I am beginning to wonder how many attempts will be made by the Government before we shall have an opportunity to support the payment of a bounty on complete units. If this piecemeal policy be continued and bounties be paid in respect of each part, the total amount involved eventually will be enormous. A good deal has been said concerning the manufacture of complete units in Australia, and in this connexion I direct attention to the following paragraph which appeared in the Age of the 21st November last: -
The preliminary work already undertaken by the Pengana Motor Industries Proprietary Limited, which has a capital of £50,000, has included the complete manufacture of an engine and chassis, and the engine is stated to have shown high efficiency in the thirteen weeks’ continuous bench test at the works of the Mephan Ferguson Proprietary Limited, at Footscray,. Victoria … .
Most of tlie initial difficulties had been overcome, and mass production and most modern equipment obtainable would probably allow a six-cylinder saloon car to bo sold for less than £200. This car would be capable of a speed of up to 00 miles an hour. Financial details would be disclosed when the proprietary company was registered this week.
In view of the work which has been undertaken successfully in Victoria, investigations should at once be made by the Tariff Board to ascertain the conditions under which the car was produced, and whether it is not practicable to pay a bounty on complete cars. The cost of radiators represents only a small proportion of the total, cost of a car, and if bounties were paid on all parts in the same ratio, the total amount involved would he ‘excessive. I do not know whether the Victorian company has yet been registered, but as it has conducted considerable research and produced a complete car the Tariff Board should make immediate investigations. The establishment of the industry in Australia would provide employment for thousands of persons. The payment of a bounty on radiators can be regarded only as a stop gap, and an attempt by the Government to stave off the manufacture of complete units in Australia.
– I intend to support this bill because I believe that we should do everything to encourage the establishment of industries in Australia. The most serious feature of our national life to-day is that our young men cannot be placed in industry. I remind honorable senators that primary production is, in many instances, uneconomic, and other measures such as this will have to be passed if our national life is to be strengthened. I am inclined to agree with Senator Leckie that the measure does not go far enough and that the Government should have provided for the payment of a bounty on complete cars. I hope that the day is not far distant when a more determined step will be made in that direction in order to benefit not only the users of commercial vehicles, but also the Australian people generally. I arn afraid that the Government does not realize the significance of our small population; it is leaning too much on primary production. In the matter of marketing, many primary products have reached saturation point, and our only hope is in increasing secondary production. A good deal of the time of Parliament is occupied in discussing minor matters, whilst major problems, such as the establishment of additional secondary industries, are neglected. I congratulate the Government upon the introduction of this measure, and I trust that Parliament will soon be asked to support the payment of a bounty on complete units.
– in reply - I thank honorable senators for the manner in which they have received this bill. Although they have complained because the measure is not sufficiently comprehensive, I repeat that it is not supposed to’ embody a complete bounty system for the manufacture of motor cars in Australia. The Government is inviting, up to the 31st March next, large overseas motor car manufac.turers to state what they desire by way of bounty on complete units. Ever since Parliament imposed a tax of .7d. on imported chassis, the Government has been asking overseas motor car manufacturers to submit propositions for its consideration, and it has expressed its willingness to consider any reasonable proposal. Owing to economic difficulties, due largely to the comparatively small number of motor cars that would be manufactured in Australia, no definite proposals have yet been submitted. Pour months remain in which that can be done, and although I am not at liberty to give names, I may say that the Government has received inquiries from overseas manufacturers asking what assistance is likely to be afforded. The Government recognizes that the payment of a bounty on radiators manufactured in Australia is only a commencement. I remind Senator Wilson and Senator Leckie that, although this bill relates only to radiators, it provides the necessary machinery for the payment of bounties on other motor car parts, which can be added from time to time. It may be necessary to make some minor amendments, but the general machinery of the bill is sufficiently comprehensive to protect the Consolidated Revenue. Any company in receipt of financial assistance in this form should not be allowed to make excessive profits and the Government has prescribed a maximum profit of 10 per cent, on the capital employed. I am at a loss to understand why Senator Leckie should have referred to inefficiency in our secondary industries, because I have always been under the impression that he regarded them as most efficient. I was astounded to hear the honorable senator say that a manufacturer engaged in the production of radiators would not know whether he was making a profit or a loss. Secondary production in Australia is so well organized that detailed costs are always available, and manufacturers know whether they are making a profit or loss. Senator Leckie suggested that it was possible for a firm, engaged in the manufacture of other articles as well as radiators, not to know whether or not it was actually making a profit on the radiator section of its activities.
– That is a misrepresentation of my argument.
– That was the effect of the honorable senator’s statement. Ho said that a company engaged in the manufacture of numerous articles would have presses and dies, and for a portion of the time in a working day these presses might be used for the manufacture of radiators. I am confident that the management of any well-run manufacturing business would know for what proportions of the operating time its presses wor© used for the manufacture of various articles, and would know the exact cost of each commodity turned out by the factory.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) referred to the assurance given by the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) with reference to the protection of employees. That assurance was given on behalf of the Government, and it stands. Senator Cameron suggested that the Commonwealth Government should set up government workshops for the manufacture of motor cars. There is not the slightest hope that this Government will do that. The muddle which the State governments got into in connexion with various State enterprises should deter any honorable senator from suggesting that the Commonwealth Government should enter this field of industrial activity.
– What about tho manufacture of railway engines?
– I am not referring to .the manufacturing activities of State governments in connexion with their own public utilities. My remarks are directed more to the carrying on of business under- takings in competition with private enterprise.
– What has the Minister to say about the Commonwealth Woollen Mills?
– I should have thought that honorable senators opposite have had so much evidence -in their own States of the inefficiency of State enterprises that they would not wish the Commonwealth Government to engage in such costly adventures. I assure the Senate that in connexion with the payment of a bounty on the manufacture of radiators, there will be no departure from the Government’s policy with regard to the payment of bounties to industry. Wc regard tho manufacture of radiators as a. step towards the ultimate manufacture of complete units. I. regret that t.hn step is not larger, but I point out. that the manufacture of other motor-car parts such as springs, batteries and bodies, was started in a small way. These industries have now grown to large dimensions and to-day a considerable proportion of a motor-car unit is manufactured in this country. We hope that a practical proposition for the manu facture of complete motor-car units in this country will be submitted to the Government in the not distant future.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In committee :
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Limit of annual bounty).
– This clause states that the maximum amount to be paid by way of bounty in any one year shall be £35,000. Can the Minister inform me what will happen if the manufacture of radiators exceeds 70,000 in a year.
– Only 70,000 radiators are required each year.
– If the production is 100,000 in any one year, will the bounty on each radiator be reduced or will the amount of the bounty be increased ?
– It is unlikely that the number of radiators manufactured during any year will exceed the number specified in this -bill, but if that should happen rio further payments of bounty would be made after the amount appropriated had been expended.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 6 to 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 (Restriction on payment of bounty).
– Can the Minister state what precaution will be taken in order to ensure that accurate figures in relation to materials used in the manufacture of radiators aro supplied by the manufacturers ? It would appear, from remarks made by Senator Leckie on the second reading, that it would be possible and, in fact, easy for a manufacturer to fake the figures. Some manufacturers I know would have no scruples about returning “doctored” figures, in order to get the bounty.
– This legislation will be policed very carefully. An experienced officer of the Trade and Customs Department will examine the books of companies claiming the bounty in order to ascertain where the purchases of materials were made. Sub stantial penalties are provided iu Clause 21.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 10 (Goods to be of good and merchantable quality).
Senator BROWN (Queensland) [5.25 J. - Can the Minister say if the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs is to be the judge of whether goods in respect of which bounty will be paid, are “ of good and merchantable quality “ ? Could there be an appeal from the decision of the Comptroller-General ?
– There will be no appeal from the decision of the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs. I assume that if a company which purchased Australian radiators objected to the quality of the goods, an expert officer of the Trade and Customs Department, who deals with this matter and has a thorough knowledge of the manufacturing industry, would examine them and report to the Comptroller-General. I point out, however, that manufacturers who engage in the production of radiators will know that, in order to get the bounty, the radiators must be of a certain standard.
– Radiators arc being manufactured at present.
– That is so.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 11 (Factories to be appointed by Minister).
– I oppose this clause for reasons which I gave in my second-reading speech. The inclusion of this and subsequent clauses will mean that manufacturers will be obliged to carry on their work virtually with policemen in their offices. The cost of supplying all the information to be called for would be excessive.
– No manufacturer will be compelled to come under this scheme. The bill provides for payments out of Consolidated Revenue and the Government is taking precautions ta ensure some measure of control over manufacturers claiming the bounty. If they do not like the terms and conditions set out, they need not engage in the business.
.- I was interested to hear the Minister, in his speech closing the second-reading debate, attempt to teach his grandmother to suck eggs. The honorable gentleman tried to explain to me, a manufacturer with twenty-five years’ experience, how the accounts of manufacturing enterprises are kept. I assure him that he need not bother. I know more about that subject than he or his advisers do. It has been said that no manufacturer need come into this scheme unless he desires to do so. My answer to that is, manufacturers will not come in. This legislation seems to me to be designed specially for the benefit of that firm which has stated that it has the necessary dies, and is prepared to engage in the manufacture of radiators.
– What firm is the honorable senator referring to ? -
– It is mentioned in the report of the Tariff Board on radiator assemblies. Two firms, which formerly operated independently, are now combined in one enterprise. It seems to me that these restrictions are designed to frighten off other manufacturers for the benefit of a combination of firms that have the necessary dies and are about to commence this work.
– I see no justification for protracting the debate. After, having announced that the Opposition supports the bill, I cannot allow Senators Leckie and Wilson to bandy charges about the chamber that it would be wicked to have anything to do with it. Senator Leckie says that it is not possible for manufacturers to keep their accounts in such a way that they would be able to satisfy the Minister that they had not made a profit of more than 10 per cent., and Senator Wilson states that the bill is of such a character that nobody would be induced to take up the business of radiator manufacture. In the latter case, radiators would be obtained from the same source as in the past, and no bounty would be payable. I do not care who makes the radiators so long as the complete unit is eventually made in Australia. If it be true that this bill is intended to benefit one firm, these protective provisions should be incorporated in the measure. The Opposition claims that before bounty is paid all the conditions prescribed in the schedule should be observed in their entirety, including that which provides that 95 per cent, of the material used should be of Australian origin. We say that the factory should be subject to endorsement by the Minister, and that a back-yard hovel should not be regarded as a factory for the purposes of this legislation. The Opposition will support all these restrictive clauses, because it realizes that private enterprise is often of such a character that its should have its wings clipped at every stage. As Senators Wilson and Leckie are among the champions of private enterprise, I can understand their complaints; the burglar is always afraid of the policeman. .
.- Two firms are prepared to manufacture radiators, but as they did not desire to duplicate the work they formed a new company known as National Radiators Proprietary Limited which has been registered with a nominal capital of £50,000. This company is to undertake the manufacture of radiators of the cellular type for equipment in Melbourne, whilst its associated company - National Radiators (New South Wales) Proprietary Limited - is to manufacture in Sydney, for equipment purposes, the tubular kind, and also the cellular radiators, the demand for which is relatively small. This company has been formed for the purpose of manufacturing radiator parts only, so that the whole of its plant and machinery will be employed in the making of these goods. This is all very simple, but any other firm wishing to start on this work would find it a very different proposition. If this measure is designed to place a monopoly in the hands of those undertaking this enterprise the Government should say so.
– The honorable senator does not seriously suggest that this bill is deliberately intended to give a monopoly to one firm.
– Of course’ I do.
– I deny that.
– No other conclusion is possible. Under the conditions proposed in this bill, no other firm would undertake the work; therefore, the measure must be for the benefit of this company.
– I resent the statement that this bill is designed merely for the purpose of giving a monopoly to National Radiators Proprietary Limited, and that no other firm would be able to undertake the work of radiator manufacture. The measure provides for the payment of a bounty for the purpose of encouraging the manufacture of radiators in Australia, and any firm or company that complies with- the requirements of this measure will be entitled to the bounty. Has this company committed any crime against Australian society because it has shown sufficient enterprise to branch out in the work of manufacturing radiators?
– Is it making a profit to-day?
– It cannot carry on the manufacture of these goods without the assistance of the proposed bounty. That is quite definite, as the report of the Tariff Board shows, because of the low deletion values which would be allowed for the non-supply of radiators. This company has provided the plant necessary for the manufacture of radiators, and, if it fulfils the requirements of this bill it will be entitled to the bounty. No slur should be cast upon it because it has established this new industry. I hope that other companies will follow its example in regard to not only radiators but also other motor-car parts. It is possible for any manufacturer, whether in Melbourne or in any other part of Australia, to set up plant suitable for the manufacture of radiators, and to draw the bounty as this company proposes to do. I am surprised at Senator Leckie, who has invariably advocated the establishment of new industries, being perturbed because of the formation of this company. As a matter of fact, the firms concerned have been manufacturing radiators for years, but they intend to extend their business in order to provide radiators for the new chassis as they arrive from overseas. I should have expected Senator Leckie to be the first member of this committee to applaud the Government for its efforts to encourage this new industry.
– I do not impute any motives in regard to this matter, as I believe that the Government desires to assist in the establishment of the motor-car industry, but I wish to make it clear that the proposed restrictions would defeat the very purpose that the Government has in mind. It seems to me that these provisions have probably been taken from some other legislation relating to entirely different circumstances, and have been placed in this bill which provides for a bounty for a period of only two years. It was rather amusing to hear honorable senators criticize Senator Leckie’s knowledge of industry, in view of his 23 years’ experience as a manufacturer. I have had about five years’ experience of secondary industries which have the most up-to-date costing systems in Australia, and costing systems do not show profit on capital. Every efficient industry knows exactly what its costs are in regard to every article manufactured, and knows what its profit on cost is, but that profit is on the cost of manufacture; it is not profit on capital. There is a vital difference between those two things. Take the manufacture of articles such as those which a parliamentary party recently saw being made at the government factory at Lithgow. Hundreds of different articles were being produced. The costing sheets took into account the hours involved in labour and the quantity of material used in regard to every order executed. The cost of making 1,000 bolts is known. In a private factory the price would provide for a profit on that cost. This has no relation whatever to the capital outlay. If the Government had said that no industry should make a profit of more than ten per cent. on the cost of production, Senator Leckie and I would have understood what was meant; but, as capital is a nebulous sort of thing, which, as the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) has remarked, can be watered and may or may not provide for reserves - it may be paid-up capital or it may be only nominal capital - cost has nothing whatever to do with capital. Some companies with a few thousands of pounds of capital have a turnover of £30,000 a year, whilst another company with a similar turnover may have capital to the amount of £30,000. The provisions under consideration are not appropriate, and I feel sure that Senator Leckie, with his vast knowledge of costing and methods of manufacture, will bear me out in saying that, if the Government desires to limit the profits, it should limit the profit on costs, because the profit on capital is meaningless.
– Irrespective of the amount of capital.
– The amount of capital can be altered by watering it. The honorable senator who interjects has probably had considerable experience of government undertakings in which there is no capital corresponding to that invested in a private industry. In government undertakings, in which all costs are charged up to capital, it is possible to relate profit to capital; but in a private industry some of the capital may have been borrowed and there may be interest to pay on it.
– And some capital may not exist at all.
– That is so. The watering of capital has occurred in a great number of industries. I claim that these provisions are totally inappropriate to achieve the object that the Government has in view. All that the Government needs to do is to provide that, owing to the bounty, a manufacturer shall not sell at an excessive price. If it is said that the profit on costs should be limited, I could understand it, but it is ridiculous to provide for a limitation of the profit on capital.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 12 to 23 agreed to.
Radiator assembly, comprising the radiator core . . , overflow pipe, and baffle or fillerneck . . .
SenatorFOLL (Queensland - Minister for Repatriation) [5.48]. - I move -
That the words “ and baffle or” firstcolumn be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “baffle and”.
The amendment does not extendthe operation of the bill or in any wayaffect the principles on which it is based. It merely defines the radiator assembly more accurately.
Amendment agreed to.
Schedule, as amended, agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate in this bill.
The following bills were received from the House of Representatives, and Standing and Sessional Orders having been suspended, were read a first time: -
Trade Agreement (Switzerland) Bill 1938.
War Pensions Appropriation Bill 1938.
Apple and Pear Export Charges Bill 1938.
Primary Produce Export Charges Bill 1938.
Finance Belief Bill 1938.
Debate resumed from the 2nd December (vide page2583), on motion by SenatorAllanMacDonald -
That the bill he now read asecond time.
– There is undoubtedly need for this bill, and, therefore, the Opposition will not oppose it, although it will watch’ carefully its progress through committee. For a long time the need for some better system of registration of aliens than now exists has been obvious. Indeed, it may be said that there is practically no system at all in operation at the present time. Many years ago, before I entered this Parliament, the Registrar-General of
Queensland suggested that Australia’s registration system, in respect of British subjects as well as aliens, left a great deal to be desired. He then suggested that there should be a measureof reciprocity between the Commonwealth and the States, so that all registrations in any State would be made available to the Registrar in each of the other States, a final record being kept by the Commonwealth. That idea has much to commend it. There is no doubt that a better system of registration of aliens is desirable, and I hope that this bill will provide it. For a long time the people of Queensland have felt that there should be more control over the entry of aliens into Australia, and also more control after such entry. This is a matter in respect of which the Constitution gives full powers to the Commonwealth. Large numbers of the aliens who enter Australia eventually find their way to Queensland, but the State Governmentknows nothing whatever about them as individuals. Practically the only time that the State authorities hear anything about them is when the Commonwealth requests the State police to trace a certain individual because either he or his sponsors have not honoured the bond entered into. Then, when we get on with the job, we find that an alien, about whom we knew nothing previously, has for a long while been a charge on the State. Naturally, therefore, we advocate a system of registration, which will give some idea of the movements of these people. A good deal more needs to be accomplished than is embodied in this measure. For instance, we should insist that within a stated period, perhaps a couple of years, these aliens should become naturalized. If they are not entitled to citizenship, which naturalization confers upon them, they should not have been allowed into the country in the first place.
– That cuts both ways.
– Probably, and there is no reason why it should not. If it is undesirable that we should admit these people to citizenship, itis undesirable that they should be here at all.
– What about English nationals abroad?
– I am not so much, concerned about them as some honorable senators probably think that I should be ; I am interested in Australia, and in building up our nation. For this reason, I want to keep out aliens who are undesirable, but, at the same time, if they are not undesirable, I wish to let them in. In passing, I may mention that in my view they are undesirable if, by coming here, they take bread out of mouths of good Australians. Once they are here, however, we have the right to insist that, within a given time, they should become naturalized. . I also suggest that we should prevent, in all circumstances, the use of any other than the English language in this country. In Queensland, and, I presume, in New South “Wales and Western Australia, government proclamations are printed in two or three different languages. I object very strongly, indeed, to that practice. These people have a right, within a given time, to make themselves acquainted with the laws and customs of the country which they have adopted. In election campaigns in Queensland, for instance, candidates are obliged to publish their views in three or four different languages. We have to do that because the other fellow does it; but it is a disgrace that we are encouraging that kind of thing. I believe in an international language, and if Senator Abbott were here he would testify to my support of that means of fostering greater understanding between nations, hut until such a language is universally adopted, I am not prepared to hear any language other than the King’s English in common use in this country. As part of our regulations governing the admission of aliens, we should insist that within a given time they should learn to speak English. To-day. in different parts of Australia, large bodies of aliens fail to acquire Australian sentiments and customs, because they are allowed to congregate in separate communities, where they speak their native tongue. Furthermore, newspapers are printed in their own tongue. In tolerating things of this kind, we are only making difficulties for ourselves in the future. This measure is a step in the right direction, because it will strengthen the principle of a White Australia, which all political parties in this country have accepted- We are aware of the aliens position which has developed in the United States of America; in the light of that country’s experience, it is fair to say that the melting pot does not melt. In the United States of America, the melting pot has been developed to a greater extent than elsewhere, yet that country is now finding that the establishment of separate communities of various nationals is a serious menace to the life, habits and customs of citizens of that great republic. There is no matter on which we should take a firmer stand than on this one. It is time that Australia had a foreign policy ; we should clearly indicate where we stand in relation to other nations ; we should tell them that we’ are not antagonistic to them, but that we place Australia first, and insist that people who come to our land must have the physical, moral and spiritual qualities which will convince us that they are material out of which good Australians can ultimately be made. I do not wish for one moment to be hypercritical, but I point out that a- measure of this kind can be applied tyrannically in certain circumstances. 1 do not know how we can guarantee ourselves against such a danger; we are obliged, more or less, to rely upon the good sense and political wisdom of the Government of the day. In the past, however, there have been occasions when visitors to this country have been treated in an anti-Australian manner. In these instances, the Government may have had special reasons, in its opinion sufficient for tho action it took. Honorable senators on this side will never countenance the application of these regulations in any tyrannical way. I have said enough to indicate, however, that we should use them for the purpose of insisting that aliens who come here, and intend to stay, must, as early as possible, become citizens of Australia. Much still remains to be accomplished in regard to our general systems of registration. I feel sure that the expert advising the Government on these matters will agree that we shall never be able to get things done satisfactorily so long as in this country we have seven governments, thirteen houses of parliament, six State Governors as well as a Governor-General, one set of rolls for Commonwealth elections and another set for State elections, which are compiled and maintained by competing authorities. It is time that we simplified our systems of public registration. After all, every Australian is obliged to live under the same set of laws, and he should not have to be a perfect genius to understand what is required of him, so far as registration matters are concerned. “We shall closely study the bill in committee, and, if we discover anything objectionable in it, we shall not hesitate to attempt to rectify the fault. This measure is a step in the right direction, and Ave shall accept it as a beginning of the work of establishing a better system for the registration of aliens.
– in reply - I thank honorable senators for supporting this measure. Senator Collings suggested that the presentsystem of registration of aliens is inadequate. To some extent, I agree with him, but. -I remind him that before any alien is permitted to land in this country, lie is obliged to produce documentary evidence as to who and what he is, and from whence he comes, and that evidence is retained by the department. A certain amount of difficulty is experienced, of course, in keeping trace of aliens who move from place to place and from State to State.
– That is the difficulty.
– I have had some little experience of the Investigation Branch of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, and I know that as a rule we can usually get information with regard to an alien anywhere in Australia if such information is urgently required. In this work, as honorable senators are aware, we can rely on the co-operation of the State police forces. The statement that no system of registration exists is incorrect. With Senator Collings, I deplore the fact that languages other than English are spoken in this country. The fact remains, however, that there are aliens resident in Australia who may bc rather slow to acquire a full knowledge of the English language and, for the sake of convenience, these people use their native tongue in intercourse with their compatriots.
– Has the honorable senator ever been on the irrigation settlements in New South Wales?
– It is all very well to mention isolated cases, but the evil of which Senator Collings speaks is not common.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) said that a Labour government would not administer the act tyrannically. My reply is that neither will this Government do so, either. The honorable senator also referred to the number of aliens who become naturalized British subjects, and in the short time available to me I have obtained some figures which are the result of . only a cursory examination. An alien migrant must have resided in Australia for five years before he is eligible to become naturalized, and therefore the number of migrants arriving in any year is not an indication of the number who become naturalized during that year. The net immigration of Italians during 1936 was 1,036, approximately 50 per cent. of whom represented the wives and minor children of Italians already resident in Australia. The number naturalized during that year was 610, that being the actual number of naturalization certificates issued; but in the case of married men the certificates cover also the wives and children resident in Australia. It may therefore be assumed that each certificate confers naturalization on an average of three persons. The net immigration of Italians in 1937 was 1,982, and for the nine months ended the 30th September last, 2,323. The number of certificates of naturalization issued during those periods was 338 and 390 respectively, representing approximately 1,014 and 1,170 persons.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 6 agreed to.
. - I move -
That after clause6 the following newclause be inserted: - “6a. A register of aliens or au index of aliens shall not be open for inspection except for official purposes “.
Since I moved the second reading of the bill, Senator Wilson said that under the present method the inspection of the register of aliens might be abused. This clause has therefore been drafted to obviate that possibility.
– After a number of years of strenuous effort to secure the naturalization of a certain alien, I have been notified by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. McEwen) that he has been granted the right to become naturalized. While making efforts on his behalf I was frequently told that no reasons could be given for refusing naturalization. The proposed new clause provides that a register of aliens or an index of aliens shall not be open for inspection except for official purposes. Does that mean that a member of Parliament will be denied the right to inspect the register? Aliens have certain rights. We allow them to enter this country, and although they are not naturalized they are subject to the law of the country. There should be certain safeguards against this provision being used for political purposes. I am informed by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) that if the register is open to inspection by the public the privilege could be easily abused, but at the same time the right could be abused by officials. There is a certain amount of abuse by Ministers and officials who think that they are acting conscientiously, and, in the case which I have cited, they no doubt acted conscientiously, but a grave injustice was done to one man.
SenatorKeane. - Would a member of Parliament be regarded as an official?
– I do not know, but I would like to know. There is a tendency on the part of some Ministers to be too secretive and to adopt Fascist methods. I am not making an accusation against any one, but I can conceive of an injustice being done. Those who represent the people should have the right to inspect the register. The official mind is dominant, and the representatives of the people are not allowed to know why certain persons cannot become naturalized. Under this clause, a similar position might arise if a member of this Parliament wanted to examine the register.
SenatorCollings. - Is not the proposed new clause sufficiently wide to enable a member of Parliament to inspect the register?
– If that be so, I shall have nothing further to say on the subject.
– Public servants are bound by the ‘Commonwealth Public Service Act and the Crimes Act not to divulge information which they acquire in the course of their duties, but no such limitation is imposed upon a member of Parliament. In these circumstances, an official cannot be regarded as being in the same category as an elected representative of the people. The Minister in charge of the department, who is a representative of the people, will be the person to decide who shall and who shall not inspect the register, and if any member of Parliament can show good reasons why he should inspect the register, it will be within the power of the Minister to allow him to do so.
– At first I accepted the assurance of the Minister that the register would be available for perusal by members of Parliament, but after listening to Senator Brown, I agreed that the Minister may, in some circumstances, withhold permistion to examine the document. I realize, of course, the position of public servants, but I consider that members of Parliament should have access to a departmental document of this kind ; though I agree that in some circumstances it may not be desirable to take notes from similar documents. The amendment places too much power in the hands of the Minister. As responsible and commonsense people, members would not use improperly any information obtained from the register of aliens.
, - I direct Senator Fraser’s attention to the wording of the amendment. It provides that a register of aliens or an index of aliens shall not be available for inspection except for official purposes. That would deny the right of inspection to any persons but those acting in an official capacity, and it should satisfy all honorable senators.
– I am indebted to the Minister for agreeing to insert the proposed new clause. Honorable senators on both sides will agree that aliens entering this country should assimilate with the Australian people as quickly as possible. One of the worst things that could happen to this country would be an extension of the various newspapers printed in a foreign language and issued by foreign nationals or secret societies of the kind existing in other countries, for the sole purpose of disseminating their national spirit in Australia. I believe that if the register containing the names of all foreign nationals resident in Australia were made available to the general public, persons would seek to examine it in order to spread propaganda among foreign nationals with the object of inducing tb em to retain their foreign nationality. The Opposition will, I think, see the possible danger in that respect. I am quite sure that members of Parliament would always receive a reasonable answer to questions asked for a bona fide purpose.
– A member of Parliament would be entitled to that information.
– That is so, provided that the information was required for public purposes. I appreciate the readiness of the Minister to accept the amendment which will prevent the act from being abused by organizations which may desire to prevent foreigners from becoming good Australian citizens.
– I am not quite clear about the effect of the amendment. Senator A. J. McLachlan has suggested that the register would be open for inspection by members of Parliament, but the Minister took the view that such a privilege might be abused, and intimated that certain re strictions might be imposed. If the amendment be adopted, a request by any member of this Senate for permission to inspect the register might be refused by the Minister because in his opinion an examination of the document might not, be in the public interest. I am not prepared to accept such a position, and therefore I shall vote against the amendment.
.- The arguments advanced by Senator Brown are sound. The amendment should be rejected. The Minister should not have authority to deny an elected representative of the people the right to inspect the register of aliens. The problem of alien immigration is a growing one in Australia, and the compilation of a register, as proposed in this bill, is imperative. Many aliens will arrive in Australia during the next three or four years, and unless a close watch be kept upon them trouble may arise. But there is the danger that if inspection of the register is to be at the discretion of the Minister, he may be in a position to make strong political use of his power. Members of Parliament have the right, although it is not always admitted, to inspect departmental files. Speaking as one who has had some experience in these matters over a number of years, I say that officers of the Public Service generally discharge their duties conscientiously, and the Minister should not be empowered to prevent any member of Parliament from exercising his right to inspect a departmental file. This would be an unwarranted assumption of power. If the Minister would include in the amendment a provision which would make the register open to inspection by members of Parliament, many honorable senators on this side would be satisfied. Whilst I commend the principle of the amendment suggested by Senator Wilson, in its present form the’ proposed new clause is incomplete and should be altered as I have indicated.
Senator WILSON (South Australia) T8.23]. - Senator Keane’s suggestion is impossible. If a member of Parliament approached the Minister and said that he bad been asked by, say, a Fascist organization to supply it with the names of all Germans on the list of registered aliens, the Minister would have only one answer. lie would say that he could not make the register available for that purpose. If, on the other hand, a member of Parliament stated that a certain alien wished to be naturalized, and asked whether or not the man’s name was on the register, I am sure that a straightforward and honest answer would be given. The final decision in this matter must rest with the Minister. The statement made by the Minister set out the position quite clearly. The alternative suggested by Senator Keane would probably give rise to an extremely dangerous position, because members of Parliament receive requests for information from all kinds of organizations.
– Members of Parliament need some protection in this regard.
SenatorWILSON. - That is so. If a member asks for information, which would be used for improper purposes, the Minister should have power to refuse it.
– Whilst I agree that there are times when, in the interest of the Commonwealth, access to an official document should not be permitted, I submit that every member of Parliament should have an opportunity to inspect this register.
– Cases might arise in which the information would be desired in the interests of an individual.
– Under the proposed new clause access to the register could be denied to a member who desired information in the course of his duty as an elected representative of the people. The carrying of this amendment would mean that inspection of the register would be at the discretion of the Minister. Some protection should be given to members of Parliament who, in the interests of their constituents, may find it necessary to obtain information from the index of aliens.
– Can the honorable senator suggest for what purpose, other than the discharge of his duty, a member of Parliament might desire ‘. access to the register?
– The honorable gentleman stated a few minutes ago that members of Parliament were entitled to get all the information they desire. We agree, but often when we have asked questions we have received evasive replies. I cannot support the amendment. I see a lot of wisdom in it, but I object to arbitrary powers being placed in the hands of the Minister.
– At first I was inclined to support the amendment; now I have come to the conclusion that it would not be entirely in the public interest. Apparently Senator Wilson is afraid that some member of Parliament may obtain access to the register and use the information thus obtained for a purpose not in conformity with his parliamentary duty. Does the honorable gentleman suggest that the elected representatives of the people are untrustworthy? Whilst I agree that no member of organizations such as the Camorra or Black Hand gang should be permitted access to the list of registered aliens, members of Parliament should have the right to examine it. I do not believe for a moment that any honorable member of this Parliament would seek information contained in the register unless he desired it for a legitimate purpose. He “would be as much entitled as a police officer or the Minister himself to inspect the register.
– The object of the proposed new clause is not to give privileges to honorable members of Parliament, but to protect aliens. I would not suggest that any Minister would ignore a proper request by an honorable member of this Parliament, but no honorable member has the right to peruse official files. He may obtain official information by means of parliamentary procedure or by direct application to the Minister, and the information is disclosed, if it is sought for a proper purpose. I submit that the proposal is framed in such a way as to give the protection intended, and I cannot accept any alteration of it.
– Under clause 6, as it stands, would an electoral registrar be required to comply with any demand for the right to inspect the register? I have pointed out that in some cases aliens are not permitted to become naturalized. I have citedas an illustration one case in which, after many years, 1 was successful in obtaining the naturalization of an alien. The possibility of the persecution- of an alien for political or other reasons should not be overlooked.
– Certainly for political reasons.
– Yes. A person from a foreign country, and closely associated with the Labour movement, might apply for naturalization, but his presence in Australia might displease the government of the day. The purpose of the proposal before the committee is to ensure that an honorable member of Parliament shall not have access to the register except with the consent of the Minister, but a high departmental official might decide in a certain case that no information should be supplied. In dozens of instances, because of political prejudice, naturalization has been refused. The government of the day has power to say that, no matter how respectable an applicant for naturalization might be, or how desirable a citizen he might be, he must remain an alien under this amendment and no member of Parliament would be able to help him. In the case cited by me, I should have been satisfied years ago if the Minister had been able to furnish good reasons why the applicant should not be naturalized. I donot know how many aliens will be refused naturalization when this measure becomes law.
– This bill does not amend the Naturalization Act.
– I understand that, but I am drawing attention to the danger of ministerial or departmental decisions which might deprive members of Parliament of their rights. Under sub-clause 2 of clause 6, the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for a State will be required to enter, or cause to be entered, in the index of aliens, such particulars relating to registered ‘ aliens in that State “ as are prescribed.” Turning to clause 21, one finds that the Governor-General may make regulations not inconsistent with this measure regarding all matters prescribed or permitted to be prescribed. Under those wide provisions, an inquiry could be held into a man’s whole life. All kinds of regulations could be passed.
– Even falsehoods could be circulated regarding an alien.
– That is so. The man whose case I cited had been the victim of officialdom. I agree that the registration of aliens is desirable, and 1 admit that certain aliens who have come to Australia should not have been permitted to enter the country; but persons who abide by the laws, and are respectable citizens, should not be penalized.
– Such persons have nothing to fear.
– -I have drawn attention to the case of a man who, although anxious for naturalization, was denied it for many years. I appreciate the need to keep secret certain information with regard to defence matters, but an honorable member of Parliament should not be denied the night to make an investigation as to the reason why naturalization is ‘refused.
– I draw the attention of the committee to clause 15, which reads -
Subject to the regulations, the person witnessing any application or other document made under this act or the regulations by an alien shall, before he affixes his signature thereto, satisfy himself, by inquiry from the alien or otherwise, that all the statements contained in the application or other document are true unless lie knows that the statements contained in the application or other doon-“ ments are true.
Unless the person witnessing the document has access to all the information available, how can he satisfy himself as to the truth of the statements contained therein ?
– The name of a person making an application would not be on the register.
– He may make application for a number of things. The person called as a witness may be a member of .the Commonwealth Parliament. What better guide could he have than an inspection of the register in order to ascertain the facts about which he is supposed to satisfy himself ?
– He would be permitted to inspect the register for official purposes.
– The Minister is to be given the right either to allow or to refuse a member of Parliament access tothe register. That is wrong, for it deprives the elected representatives of the people of their rights. We know that mistakes have been made in the past, for instance, the case quoted by Senator Brown, and it is equally certain that mistakes will be made in the future. I am not willing to give to the Minister the right to refuse a member of Parliament access to the register.
– Senator Brown asked what an official would do under clause 6 if this amendment wore carried. The answer is that the official would not’ give the information asked for by a member of Parliament, as every public official is bound by the provisions of the Public Service Act and the Crimes Act not to divulge information.
– Suppose the inquiry were made of the Minister, instead of an official ?
-I cannot say what the Minister would do, but I suppose that as a reasonable man, he would act reasonably. If information of a proper character, and for a proper purpose were sought, he would, I assume, have no hesitation in giving it.
– But the Assistant Minister said that if any man came to the registrar and asked to be allowed to look at the index he would be refused.
– Of course.
– Then, what is the purpose of the amendment?
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD.It is to make the position clear.
– The Assistant Minister has said that certain acts of Parliament,’ including the Crimes Act, forbid officials to give information to members of Parliament. In my opinion, theelected representatives of the people are entitled to examine any list of aliens if they so desire. There are ample safeguards against an individual who wishes to see the list for some ulterior purpose. A foreign consul may wish to see the list.
– He may bethe very person to whom permission should be refused.
– I am not arguing that every citizen, or even a consul, should be entitled to examine the list, but I do submit that a member ofParliament who represents the people should have that right.
– Either House of the Parliament would have the right to call for the list, but not necessarily an individual member of the Parliament.
– It is all very well for the honorable senator to say that Parliament would have the right to call for the list, but almost invariably honorable senators opposite support the Minister. What would be the position of a member of the Opposition who wished to see the list?
– If he gave a good reason, his application would not be refused.
SenatorBROWN. - Does the honorable senator wish me to citePikunoff’s case again? As the clause stands, would it be possible for me to gain access to the list?
– That is a hypothetical question.
– It would appear that, whether or not the amendment be accepted, the elected representatives of the people are to have no rights in (he matter.
– The amendment is not in keeping with the spirit of the measure. The fact that this legislation is administered by the Electoral Department shows that its framers desired to keep it as far away from officialdom as possible. Otherwise, it would be administered by that branch of the Public Service which deals with the admission of aliens into Australia. In my opinion, this amendment will hand over to officials something which the framers of the act desired to keep from them. If the Minister is to be empowered to refuse a member of Parliament the right of access to the list, there is no saying what may be alleged against an. individual, or what action may be taken against him. As has already been pointed out, there is more in this proposal than the mere fact of being able or unable to study the index. Only by a perusal of the index could particulars concerning certain individuals be obtained. All honorable senators who have had any ilea lings with public servants know that their names are indexed, and that the list contains a complete record of their industrial lives. The rights of the elected representatives of the people are involved in the amendment. Under our form of government, certain functions may be exercised by the executive, but the executive must act in accordance with the wishes of the Parliament. The executive holds office at the will of the other branch of the legislature. The amendment seeks to make a servant of the Parliament - the Minister - superior to Parliament itself. Although in recent years there has grown up the party system of government in this country, in theory Ministers are amenable to Parliament.
– .But not to one individual member of the Parliament.
– There is a growing tendency on the part of Minis ters to hedge themselves round with all sorts of regulations in order to protect ‘them from their masters. The present proposal is an illustration of that tendency. The Opposition is not opposed to the registration of aliens, or to the safeguarding of the persons whose names are in the index against others who would pry into their private affairs, but it does ask that members of this Parliament, who are representative of the people, shall not be subject to the whim of any person who happens to be a Minister. Nor should thu final decision rest with the head of i branch of a department. My experiencein dealing with public service matters over a long period of years, has been that some officers feel that because they are permanent officials they are the persons to determine policy.
– That has not been our experience.
– I am pleased to hear the Assistant Minister say that; nevertheless, there is tie possibility which I have indicated. The opposition to this amendment is justified, and I hope that the Assistant Minister will accept the suggestion made by honorable senators on this side, which I believe is quite in conformity with the spirit of the measure. The Assistant Minister declared that the measure was designed to afford greater protection to the alien, but he told us nothing in substantiation of that bald statement. I trust that he will agree to alter the wording of the amendment in order to meet the wishes of honorable members of the Opposition.
– I cannot see any reason why members of Parliament should be given greater privileges than members of the public in regard to the inspection of departmental files of this nature. Should the Senate decide at any time that these registers be laid on the table, they will be open to inspection by not only honorable senators but also members of the general public. If honorable senators are given the right to inspect official documents of this kind, chaos will result in some departments. We have never claimed, and I know that no honorable senator would claim, that we should have the right to inspect income-tax returns. Why should we have the right to enter a departmental office and demand to be allowed to peruse documents of the kind with which this amendment deals? Furthermore, I point out that no Minister, apart from the Minister administering this department, will have any greater right than will a private member of Parliament to inspect these files. I support the amendment.
Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) [9.4 1 . - It seems to me that unnecessary earnestness is being evinced in this matter, due, more or less, to failure to understand exactly what the amendment proposes to do. A register and an index of aliens will bo established, and all that the amendment seeks to do is to ensure that that index and that register shall not be open for inspection except for official purposes. If the amendment be not agreed to, these records will be open for inspection for other than official purposes, and to that I object very much indeed. No one is prepared to guard more jealously than I the rights and privileges of honorable senators, but it has never been one of our rights or privileges to go into a Minister’s office and demand to see a confidential deparmental file and get it. whether our motives be pure or otherwise. If that liberty is now suggested, I strongly oppose the suggestion. Personally, I should not go to any Minister and ask to see something for any purpose other than a righteous one, but
I know of members of Parliament whom, in times of turmoil, I should not trust to see records of this kind, because I should suspect that they were acting as agents of people who, at such a time of emergency, were probably trying to put me in gaol. Some of us have had that experience. I am not going to suggest that members of Parliament should have any right to do something which may he inimical to the interests of this community, although, in the past, I have seen too many instances of such opportunities having been given to members of Parliament. There is nothing suspect in this amendment. We are now taking a step, and a very wise step, to regiment the aliens resident in this country. I can recall a time when the system of registering aliens was used for cruel and nefarious purposes against aliens of German nationality, who included some of the best citizens this country ever had. Most honorable senators can remember, and I, personally, can graphically recall, a period when if your name was’ not Brown, Smith, or Jones, you were suspect and denied a vote. I know that in South Australia, where I was at the time, German residents were afraid to speak to me - they told me so when they got an opportunity - because they were afraid of spies who were seeking to get information about them.
– And’ now they are anti-Labour.
– In the last analysis, it has nothing to do with us whether they be Labour or anti-Labour; they have as much right to be. antiLabour as I have to be pro-Labour, and members of the Labour party should never support regulations that are capable of being used to penalize people because they are not of our political faith. If we agreed to that practice, we should he no better than those who seek to penalize us because we are not of their political faith.
This amendment seems to be quite simple. A register and an index of aliens are to he compiled. We agree that that is necessary, .because we should know who, and where, our aliens are, and all that this amendment says is that these records shall not be open for inspection except for official purposes. The case mentioned by Senator Brown is not analogous to the situation which this amendment seeks to cover. I believe that Senator Brown was badly treated by the Minister in respect of the particular case he instanced. The Minister should have taken the honorable senator into his confidence - he need not have shown him the file, which is different from producing this index - but he might have said, “Brown, the reason why we refuse thi3 man naturalization is so and so “. I point out, however, that Senator Brown would be in no better, or no worse, position if this amendment is carried, to get information of the kind which he sought in respect of the individual he mentioned. On that occasion, he did not want to see an index or register; there was none in existence. He wanted to know a particular thing regarding a particular individual. The Minister, in his wisdom, did not- think it safe to supply that information ; I think that the Minister was wrong, but if this amendment should be passed, and a similar case should come under Senator Brown’s notice, he would be in no -worse, or better position to get the information he wanted. We have agreed that a register should be compiled, showing the names and nationality of certain individuals. It is entirely wrong to say that that record should be open to inspection for other than official purposes. It is particularly wrong from the stand-point of the Labour party, because this party has more reason than any other political organization to welcome the provision of such a safeguard. I do not want such a record to be open to all and sundry.
This amendment should be allowed to pass. We have misunderstood the whole position; we begin to suspect, and on that suspicion one can build up a mountain of talk, which has not the shadow of justification when we consider the simple phraseology of the amendment. All governments tend to become tyrannical in certain circumstances, and whilst I do not overlook its Crimes Act and another act foreshadowed recently, but, fortunately, not yet brought down, I am not suggesting that this Government is more suspect than any other government, but I suggest that this particular amendment has nothing in it except the safeguarding of these aliens. We have already approved that this register and index should be compiled, and we should provide safeguards against the adoption of any inquisitorial practice in connexion with such records. I believe that the Assistant Minister was telling the truth and was correctly interpreting the amendment when he said that it was definitely designed for the protection of the aliens. I wish to protect them ; otherwise I would not wish that they be brought into this country.
.- I suggest that when any amendment is foreshadowed either by a Minister or by a private senator, a copy of it should be circulated as soon as possible in order to give to honorable senators an opportunity to study it. If that course had been followed on this occasion the present confusion would not have arisen. So far only a few copies of the amendment have been distributed, and I suggest that some at least of those honorable senators who have opposed it have clone so because they did not have an opportunity to study it closely. I am not yet able to discuss its merits or demerits, because I have not seen it.
.- The reply given by the Assistant Minister (Senator Allan MacDonald) to Senator Brown that in the absence of this amendment it would still be impossible for any official to disclose this information, shows that the amendment is unnecessary, because, apparently, no one will have access to these records whether the amendment be carried or not.
– I said that at present no official could give the information, but that the Minister could give it and the object of the amendment was to stop the Minister from doing so.
– I am not prepared to concede to any government a monopoly of a list of the aliens in this country. To-day this matter may appear to be of minor importance, but we must bear in mind that in the course of time there will be a tremendous number of aliens in this country. I can see no harm in providing in the bill that if members of Parliament want to peruse this list they shall have the right to do so. For what improper purpose would an honorable senator require this information? The proposed new clause is innocuous, but I am not prepared to give any Minister more power than he now possesses. If this proposal be carried we shall be giving away rights which we as representatives of the people should possess. Senator Brown has mentioned the difficulty which he experienced, and every honorable senator knows what i3 likely to happen if this provision becomes law. The migrants who settle in this country may be honest and goodliving people, but for political purposes they may be penalized by Ministers. I assume that a register will be compiled in each State, and that it will be in the custody of officials who may be excellent officers, but they should not be the only ones who should have a knowledge of what the register contains. It will possibly be said by Senator A. J. McLachlan that any honorable senator can obtain the information he desires by asking a “ question, but experience in this chamber has shown the tactics which Ministers adopt in an endeavour to withhold information. Only this morning, when I sought information regarding unemployment, I received what I as an industrialist regard as a ridiculous reply, that the information is not available. In these circumstances it is only reasonable to assume that when information contained in the register is desired it will not be supplied. Electoral rolls and other lists of persons are available to member* of Parliament and to the public, and not withstanding the statement of the Minister that even if the proposed new clause be inserted the position will be the same, I intend’ to oppose it.
– If the proposed new clause be inserted members of this Parliament will be denied the right to inspect the register of aliens, and to obtain information.they require from the Minister or from any official. If honorable senators will refer to clause 15 they will find that certain documents have to be witnessed before they are accepted by the department. On one occasion, I inadvertently witnessed a document which was inaccurate; the necessary information was not available to me, but proceedings were taken against me and I had to wait in a cell while the jury had lunch before it decided to acquit me. If members of Parliament are unable to obtain from the register of aliens information to enable them to ascertain whether documents which they have to witness are accurate, from what source can they obtain it?
– The proposed new clause uses the words “ except for official purposes “.
– The Minister could say that it was not official, and he could, if he so desired, decline to disclose it. In the case in which I was involved the word “ otherwise “ was used, and had I been found guilty of the offence with which I was charged I would have been liable to a penalty of £50. If a person who is not naturalized tells me that he is naturalized, how can I prove it unless I have access to the official register?
– In 1916, when I was a member of the lumpers’ union in Fremantle, a French vessel arrived in the roadstead, on which there were a number of Maltese. The Minister and the officials, for reasons best known to themselves, were anxious to suppress the fact that the Maltese were on the vessel. I ascertained the actual position, andsent circulars to interested parties. When the Minister and the officials realized that the information had leaked out, they admitted it. We are asked to believe that Ministers are above suspicion, and that members of Parliament are more or less suspect. I know that some members of Parliament are not loyal to the oath which they take, and that may also bo true of Ministers. It was in the case which I cited, when a Minister deliberately attempted to mislead the people. I intend to oppose the proposed new clause.
.- The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) has not convinced me of the necessity for the proposed new clause. As was mentioned by Senator Amour, there may be occasions when it is necessary for members of Parliament to obtain information concerning aliens, and I do not wish the Minister to have the power to say who shall and who shall not inspect the register.
SenatorMcLeay. - Does the honorable senator wish to obtain information so that he can pass it on to the unions?
– I resent the question of the Leader of the Senate (Senator McLeay), who, if he were not biased, would not make such a suggestion. I am never embarrassed when confronted by a political opponent, and I shall always express my opinions, regardless of the views of others, whether he be the Leader of the Government or the Leader of the Opposition. I shall not place the destiny of the people in the hands of Ministers, because I know from experience that the information which they supply, particularly in reply to questions, is. sometimes inaccurate. All that I desire is an assurance from the Minister that, if I wish to obtain information from the register of aliens, it will be made available.
– Does the honorable senator wish such information to be limited to individual cases ?
– That will depend upon the circumstances, but the principle is the same. If this proposed new clause be adopted, the Minister will be able to prevent members of this Parliament from examining the register. Neither the Leader of the Government nor the Leader of the Opposition has a monopoly of the sympathy for aliens. I am as anxious as any one else to protect the rights of foreigners who are permitted to live in this country. 1 ask the Minister to give some assurance that members of Parliament will have the right to inspect the register.
– This discussion has been very interesting. There is before the committee an amendment which, we are assured, will make no difference to this legislation.
SenatorAllanMacDonald. - That is quite wrong.
– That is what the Minister said, at all events, and he misled me, as well as other honorable senators on this side of the chamber. I asked whether, if the amendment were carried, clause 6 would give toany one the right to inspect the register. The Minister replied that no one, not even a member of Parliament, could demand to be allowed to inspect it.
I.f this amendment will not affect the position, why has it been submitted? There must be a reason. The Opposition suspects that the object is to maintain or extend the power of the Minister under this legislation. What is the precise meaning of “official purposes”. If a member of -Parliament wished to make certain inquiries in order to secure justice for aliens, information should not be withheld from him. If the Minister can give an assurance that the amendment, if carried, will safeguard the interests of aliens and that inquiries made by members of Parliament will come within the definition of “official purposes”, I shall be satisfied. We desire only to protect aliens who are not receiving just treatment. As regards some aliens, I say without .hesitation that I would like to see thom deported. I have already cited the case of one highly reputable alien who had been seeking naturalization for seven years, and until recently was denied that privilege. Surely members of Parliament - the elected and trusted representatives of democracy - should have access to the list of aliens. The fact that this right is to be denied to us suggest the existence of some ulterior motive. It would seem that the amendment is not so innocuous as the Minister would have us believe it to be. In other words, the bill is loaded. Under it all kinds of regulations may be made. The bill provides for the compilation of an index containing particulars of registered aliens. I am not concerned with those aliens who are enemies of the British Commonwealth of Nations. These people should be ferreted out and told to leave Australia. If aliens are opposed to the principles for which we stand, and will not make good Australians, they should not be permitted to remain here. I do not want to be misunderstood. For years I endeavoured to secure the naturalization of an alien who is an estimable citizen of Brisbane. I understand that naturalization was denied to him because at one time he had been n member of that fearsome organization, the Friends of Soviet Russia! His only crime was that he was anxious that the truth about Russia should be made known in Australia ! Surely any citizen of this country has the right to disseminate the truth as ho sees it, whether it be with regard to Italy, Germany, Russia, or any other country. However, because this man was a member of the organization mentioned, his naturalization was refused till quite recently. I want an assurance that in future, if similar cases are brought before the Government by members of Parliament, justice will be done.
– I am afraid that there is some confusion in Senator Brown’s mind. I ha ve some official knowledge of the case to which he has alluded, and I assure him that it comes under a different class of legislation altogether, namely, the Naturalization Act. I understand that an application for naturalization was made some years ago on behalf of the alien in question, but it did not come under my notice until recently. When the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) returned from abroad and again assumed control of his department, I informed him of the representations made in this chamber, and I understand that action was taken. The case mentioned by Senator Brown has nothing to do with the legislation now before the committee.
– I understand that; I merely used that case to illustrate my argument.
– That case would arise apart from any provision made in this bill for the official or unofficial use of the register of aliens. I point out to honorable senators that wo are embarking on legislation which is being closely watched internationally. I think it would be unwise to go further than make available the name of any individual in connexion with whom a member of Parliament may make inquiries. Honorable senators will realize that in order to deal with the alien problem - it may, in certain eventualities, become a serious problem in the near future - particulars of a highly confidential nature will have to be recorded. This measure provides for the recording of those particulars, and as the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) suggested, if the particulars recorded in the index were to be made available to the general public tbe rights of an alien might be prejudiced. My view is, that if the clause bc left as it stands, then, on the grounds of public interest, nothing contained in the register could be disclosed, and any official who attempted to make information available could be severely reprimanded. The carrying of the amendment would not prevent any member of Parliament from asking the Minister whether or not some person was a registered alien. That, I consider, would be a question for official purposes, by reason of the fact that it emanated from a member of Parliament. If the amendment be not carried a heavy responsibility, from an international stand-point, will be thrown upon the Electoral Officer and the Minister concerned with the administration of this act, and aspersions may be cast upon aliens who are reputable citizens. All the amendment means is that the register may not be inspected except for official purposes. It would be unwise to extend that power. The Commissioner of Taxation is required under the law not to disclose certain information even to the ministerial head of his department, and I am not sure that even a higher duty than that of the Commissioner of Taxation will not devolve upon the officers who will administer this act, because difficulties may arise leading to repercussions which no member of this chamber desires. Any member of Parliament would be entitled, under the proposed new clause, to information required for official purposes, and I do not think that the committee should go further than that.
– Does the Minister say that inquiries by a member of Parliament would be regarded as being made for official purposes?
– The Minister could make some of the contents of the index available for official purposes. In my view, a question submitted by an honorable senator would be an official one, and this would enable an officer charged with the administration of the measure to supply the information required.
SenatorFraser. - That is not in accordance with the statement by the Minister in charge of the bill.
– Surely if the index could be used for any official purpose, it could be made available for the highest official purpose in the land ; but the opening of the register would be quite another matter. The proposed new clause should afford protection to a public man. I point out to Senator Amour that, if a person asking an electoral officer to sign a paper, wanted to know whether a man named Jones lived at a certain place, and whether he went by another name when he lived elsewhere
– There is nothing in the bill to ensure that that information would be supplied.
– Under the proposed new clause, the electoral officer would be justified in furnishing the information sought in a case of that kind. I urge the Opposition to accept this proposal. Legislation of this kind is difficult to draft, and its administration will prove a delicate matter.
. - What justification can be offered for the proposed new clause? Once we have that information, we shall know whether the proposal should be accepted. The only attempt to justify it has been made by Senator Wilson. He said that some person might demand a list of aliens for a Fascist organization. Surely that would not be sufficient justification for preventing an honorable senator from obtaining information desired by him in regard to the registration of aliens. One objection that I have to this proposal is that it is designed to clothe a Minister with wider powers than are now given. It is not long since a debate occurred in this chamber in which the complaint was made by Government supporters of the administration of certain regulations; but under this proposal the Minister would be able to deny to an elected representative of the people information to which he was entitled. I am not prepared to support this proposal, despite the favorable attitude of the Leader of the Opposition to it.
– This proposal has been submitted as an afterthought, but the attempt made to justify it is far from convincing. It seems to me that thebill goes far enough as it stands. It sets out the duties of electoral officers, and, in the ordinary course of events, a member of Parliament would have the right to ask for information, irrespective of whether the proposed new clause be accepted or rejected. This proposal is loosely worded and raises doubts in one’s mind. How would the Minister define “ official purposes “ ? It seems that clearer and more precise words could be employed.
– There is a further reason why this proposal should be rejected. Clause 6 is not the main provision of the bill. Although it provides for an index of aliens under the proposed new clause, nobody could ascertain whether Fascist friends of the Minister were registered as aliens. The bill provides that the Minister may exempt aliens from registration. Possibly Ministers would wish to exempt some of their Fascist or Nazi friends in this country, and would desire to prevent people from obtaining knowledge of the whereabouts of such persons. It would be wrong to insert a clause denying members of this Parliament the right to peruse the index of aliens. It is not the function of either the Minister or an official to exempt certain persons from registration and refuse to disclose the identity of those so exempted. If there is to be a. register of aliens, we should know whose names appear on it. If it be right for the Minister to grant exemption from registration, we should know to whom has been given the privilege of exemption. I have no objection to the exemption of consuls and their wives, or even of officials engaged in consular duties, but I am totally opposed to this drag-net provision.
– Does that argument apply to immigration?
SenatorSHEEHAN. - There are certain provisions which govern the admission or rejection of immigrants who seek to enter Australia. Some honorable senators who are anxious to have this measure passed do not realize its exact nature. I hope that later they will not squeal when advantage is taken of its provisions. This matter may very well be discussed without the intrusion of party political considerations. The interjection of the Leader of the Senate did neither himself nor the Government credit.
– “Why describe every one on this side as a Fascist or a Nazi? The honorable senator should speak for himself.
– When ulterior motives are imputed, I am entitled to retort in like manner. This clause should not be passed, because it will give to the Minister the right to exempt certain aliens from registration, and then to deny to honorable senators the right to peruse the register in order to ascertain whose names appear on it.
SenatorCOLLINGS (Queensland) [10.3]. - I appeal to the Minister to remove the difficulty with which we are faced by saying that inquiries made by members of Parliament will be regarded as “ official purposes “.
– I cannot commit any Minister in the slightest degree. What would be the use of my giving an unqualified assurance that the Minister will do this or that? He will do the right thing whenever the purpose of any inquiry is a proper one. I do not know by which individual Minister the act will be administered.
Question put -
That the proposed new clause be inserted.
The committee divided. ( Chairman - Senator James McLachlan.)
Majority . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clause 7 (Aliens to register).
– I am not a lawyer, but there are several lawyers on the Government benches, one of whom may be able to tell me the truth regarding paragraph e of sub-clause 2, which reads -
Any alien exempted from registration by the Minister or by any officer authorized in that hel,alf by the Minister.
Read in conjunction with sub-clause 1, does that mean that the Minister will be able to exempt any person whom he desires to exempt? Is he to be given allembracing power to say whether or not an alien shall or shall not be registered? I am opposed to any Minister having that power.
– There are times when distinguished foreigners who have no intention to remain in this country, wish to stay for more than 60 days. In such eases it is necessary that the Minister should have the power to exempt them from the provisions of the act, which is for the registration of aliens who propose to remain permanently in Australia.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses S to 14 agreed to.
Clause 15 -
Subject to the regulations, the person witnessing any application or other document made under this act or tlie regulations by an alien shall, before he affixes his signature thereto, satisfy himself, by inquiry from’ the alien or otherwise, that all the statements contained in tlie application or other document are true unless he knows that the statements contained in the application or other document are true.
Penalty: Fifty pounds or imprisonment for three months.
Senator AMOUR (New South Wales) [10.13 J. - I should like the Minister to explain what is meant by the words “ or otherwise “. Will a person who witnesses a document for an alien have to say where he obtained his information? Will the form show that he will have to seek from the Minister, or from the electoral office or through his representative in this Parliament, the information he requires? I have already mentioned the difficulties in which I was involved through witnessing a document containing inaccuracies. I should strongly advise any justice of the peace not to have anything to do with these documents. Every witness should know what is meant by the word “ otherwise “ in order to avoid having a charge laid against him later.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the words “or otherwise” be struck out?
– Yes, and that the words “ the Minister, or electoral officer, or member of the Commonwealth Parliament “ be inserted. The directions should be clearly set out on the document in the same way as is done on an electoral card.
– Very likely that will be done.
– I do not like this clause, although I know that it is almost a copy of a section of the Electoral Act. It does not seem to relate to anything in particular.
– No one could be convicted under it.
– The intention is to guard against fraud and conspiracy. 1 move -
That all the words after the figures “ 15 “ lie left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “A person shall not affix his signature us witness to any application or other document signed by an alien in pursuance of this act or tlie regulations unless lie has reasonable cause to believe that the statements contained in the application are true.
Penalty: Fifty pounds or imprisonment for three months.”
Under this clause a man may be sent to gaol. It is an inherent principle of British justice that in all criminal cases there must be a mens rea - a mind to do the wrong thing - before a person is convicted of a crime. We must satisfy ourselves that the witness took reasonable precautions to ensure that he was acting fairly, and was not entering into any conspiracy with the applicant. I think that my amendment will meet the difficulty mentioned by Senator Amour.
– The point raised by Senator Amour with regard to the words “ or otherwise “ is, to my mind, perfectly simple. A per-, son asked to sign a document may choose to make inquiries other than from the alien himself. If those words were not included, he would be restricted in his choice of sources from which to seek the information. I see no analogy between this clause and the case cited by Senator Amour. .Before witnessing a document under this act, I might want to corroborate what the alien had already told mc, and. in order to do so, I could go to many sources of information, including the Electoral Department., the Police Department, or previous employers of the alien. I, therefore, see no substantial objection to retaining the words in the clause. As regards Senator Abbott’s amendment, it will still include in the clause the words “ reasonable cause “, which one honorable senator described as the main source of the income of the legal profession. If the honorable senator succeeds in his amendment, he will not help the department in the administration of the bill. I suggest that he should, if possible, surmount the legal hurdle that those two words constitute.
– I have not had the opportunity to examine the effect of Senator Abbott’s amendment, but I suggest to the Minister that clause 15 as it now stands is impossible to administer. It begins “ subject to the regulations “. I have never heard of a clause that creates an offence starting off in that way. Wo are asked to make a substantial law, of a. semicriminal character, with a penalty of £50 or imprisonment for three months, “ subject to the regulations “ The clause goes on. “ The person witnessing any application or other document made under this act or the regulations bv an alien shall, before he affixes his signature thereto, satisfy himself . .”. As Senator Abbott pointed nut, the bill does not hitch on to any thing. It may so happen that if, under the regulations, I sign something, I shall have to have it witnessed, but, before J affix my signature to it, according to this clause I must - and this is the delightful word - “satisfy” myself by inquiry from the alien or otherwise that all. the statements contained in the application or other document are true. No judge, magistrate, or jury could ever hold that a man had not satisfied himself. Prima facie, if he signs a document, he has satisfied! himself, and it will be impossible for thu Crown to get a conviction. It is very important, I suggest, with all respect to Senator Amour, that the Registrar should not be misled.
– But those words are not put in just to get. a conviction. They are inserted as a protection, for the proper working of the bill.
– But the Crown would never secure a conviction under that wording. No one could prove that the man who had signed the document had not satisfied himself. It would be a case of trying to prove a negative. I do not think Senator Amour, on reflection, ought: to object to the words “ or otherwise “, but the whole clause as drafted is useless. I suggest that it be recast by the draftsman. I can never vote for a clause that creates an offence “subject to the regulations “. If the person witnessing the application, upon asking the alien whether all the statements contained in it are true, is told a first-class untruth, there is an end to it. and the Australian public are not protected at all. Senator Abbott’s amendment may do what is necessary, and, if so, I suggest that the. Minister should accept it. I am certain that, under the clause as drawn, no prosecution will succeed.
.- What is the purpose of this amendment? The signature of an alien to any application or document made under this measure must be witnessed, but it is a different, matter entirely if the person who signs as witness is thereby obliged to vouch for the truth of the statements contained in the document. In order to be able to do this he would need to verify every statement - there might be as many as 50 statements in any document - and should it be found later that he has not taken reasonable precautions to verify every one of those representations, he will be subject to a penalty of £50, or imprisonment for three months. Any person may sign a document as a witness, thinking that his signature testifies solely to the fact that he has witnessed the signature of the applicant. Surely, if it be found later that a statement contained in the document is incorrect the person to be imprisoned, or fined, should be, not the witness, but the applicant himself. I do not like this amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 16 to 21 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
.- I move -
That thebill bo now read a second time. 1 do not propose to deal in detail with the Government’s policy with regard to trade relations between Australia and foreign countries. This policy has been consistently followed for several years and every opportunity has been taken to expand the demand overseas for Australian goods. The agreement which is now presented for the approval of this chamber is the fourth of its kind entered into by Australia with a foreign country.
Switzerland is a country which has highly developed specialized industries, the products of which it disposes of abroad in order to enable it to purchase the supplies of raw materials and foodstuffs on which it is so dependent for the maintenance of its population. In 1937, raw materials and foodstuffs represented, in value, 64 per cent. of Switzerland’s imports, whilst manufactured products represented 86 per cent. of the value of all exports for that year. In the beginning of 193.2, the Swiss Government found it necessary, as the result of contraction of international trade, to inaugurate a quota system limiting imports of a large number of commodities, the objects being to protect national production against foreign competition, and to adjust the trade balance. As Switzerland has only a single-column tariff, and one of the lowest tariffs in the world, this quota system is used as a bargaining medium, and as the result of treaty negotiations a much larger quota than would ordinarily be allotted on the basis of trade statistics, may be granted to any negotiating country. Australia and Switzerland accord each other mostfavourednation treatment, although there is no treaty obligation on either country in this respect.
Tables showing the trading position between Australia and Switzerland are annexed to the explanatory memorandum which has been made available to honorable senators. It is the accepted practice in trade treaty negotiations to adopt the import figures of the negotiating countries as the measure of trade between them. Indirect purchases by Switzerland of Australian goods make the Australian export statistics unreliable for the purpose of arriving at a trade balance, but a comparison of the import statistics of both countries for the last three years seems to indicate that the balance has been in favour of Switzerland since 1936.
Switzerland’s main import from Australia is wool, of which Australia is its principal supplier. Wool represented 89 per cent. of the value of all imports from Australia during 1937. Imports for 1937 were the lowest for many years, but the indications are that the imports for 1938 will be considerably greater. This agreement, provides for a substantial reduction of the Swiss duty on wool from 50 centimes,7¼d. Australian, per metric quintal of 220½ lb. to 15 centimes,2¼d. Australian. No quota restriction is provided in respect of the importation of wool into Switzerland, and the reduction of duty should result in our wool being placed in Switzerland in a more advantageous competitive position as compared with other fibres.
The quota of fresh apples and pears from Australia for 1938 was fixed at 15,000 bushel cases. The agreement provides for an increase of the annual quota of Australian apples and pears to approximately S2,000 bushel cases, with a provision in letters annexed to the agreement for favorable consideration of supplementary quotas if the Australian exporters are able to sell a greater quantity. The concessions on apples and. pears are only effective on apples imported between the 1st April and the loth “ July, and on pears imported between the 1st February and the 15tb July of each year. Thus our apples enter Switzerland at a time when there is an absence of local fresh supplies.
The principal items of Australian imports from Switzerland are set out in a table annexed to the explanatory memorandum.” The increase of imports from Switzerland - from £A751,500 in 1936-37 to £Al,092,000 in 1937-38- was principally due to imports of piece goods not competitive with Australian products, and of watches and watch movements, the movements ‘being for fitting into cases made in Australia.
Briefly, the agreement provides, first, for reciprocal most-favoured-nation treatment; secondly, an intermediate tariff rate and primage duty concessions are granted in respect of a limited number of Swiss products, as set out in schedules A and B to the agreement. The reduction and consolidation of Swiss duties on certain Australian products is provided as set out in schedule 0 to the agreement. Reductions are as follows: - Wool, 50 centimes to 15 centimes per metric quintal ; and sandalwood oil, 80 francs per metric quintal to 10 francs per metric quintal. Consolidations are on apples and pears, raisins and currants, canned fruits, lead, eucalyptus oil and starch. Minimum annual quotas are fixed for Australian barley, apples and pears, and tim’ber. These are set out in schedule D to the agreement. The quota on barley remains unaltered at 84,000 centals. The timber quota is increased from 560 metric quintals to 10,000 metric quintals. Mutual undertakings are given that quantitative restrictions on imports shall not be discriminatory. There is a mutual right to withdraw concessions if other countries obtain the major benefits. Liberty is granted to either party to take any action it thinks proper in- order to re-establish the equilibrium of the agreement, should either party adopt any measures which are considered to nullify or impair the advantages of the agreement.
The proposed changes of customs duty are indicated in the explanatory memorandum, but they will not become operative until the agreement comes into force on a date to be fixed subsequent, to its approval by Parliament.
The intermediate tariff rates will be extended to all countries which are receiving most-favoured-nation treatment. The total loss of revenue which will result from the agreement will not be appreciable, and will be more than compensated for by the undoubted advantages conferred on the Australian primary producer under the agreement.
This agreement represents a further step towards the betterment of Australia’s trade relations with foreign countries, and is a contribution to the efforts being made to foster markets abroad for Australian primary products. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
.- Even at the risk of being accused of “ trotting out “ a hardy annual, I must say that we are again faced ‘ with the necessity to try to criticize intelligently a bill that has just been submitted to us. This is not eaSY. A good deal in this bill requires detailed attention before an intelligent decision upon it is possible. However, as trade agreements of this description must be accepted or rejected in toto, my position is somewhat simplified. I have given the schedules as much consideration as was possible in the few minutes for which they have been in my hands, and they make it clear to me that, once again this Government is attempting to lift the country out of its economic difficulties by futile trade agreements. The Senate knows my view on this subject. No agreement can be made under the conditions governing the negotiations of arrangements such as that now before us unless Australia is prepared to make some sacrifice. I know it will be argued that one-way trade is impossible, and that we must have two-ways trade. That is all right; but it means that Australia must give something away to Switzerland in this case, and to any other country with which a trade agreement may be made. In my opinion, Australia, with a population of a little less than seven millions; including men, women and children, and Avith a very short history of development compared with the histories of overseas countries, cannot afford to give anything away. Yet I find that concessions are to be made in respect of wristlet watches and other articles. My colleague, Senator Keane, may have something in particular to say on this item. Concessions are also to he made in respect of timber. I assert, as I have done on other occasions in the Senate, that Australia is able to supply its own requirements in timbers of every kind, including veneers. Australian timbers can be provided, equal in quality and durability to those obtained from overseas, for every purpose for which timber may be needed. I wish to refer briefly to a letter which has been sent to me, and, I presume, to other honorable members of this Parliament. It is relevant to certain provisions of this agreement, and reads as follows : -
On behalf of the Pioneer Softgoods Industries Proprietary Limited, manufacturers of all classes of ladies’ and men’s handkerchiefs, including ladies’ lace corner, lace edge and embroidered handkerchiefs, we wish to protest against the further lowering of tariffs on importations of handkerchiefs from Switzerland.
Some handkerchiefs of a type finer than those produced in Australia may possibly be imported from Switzerland, but surely it is not the policy of this Government to injure an established Australian industry because of that fact. Such handkerchiefs are not essential. No one will suggest that the handkerchiefs produced in this country are not equal in most respects to those which are manufactured in other countries? If honorable senators opposite say that the workmanship in Swiss handkerchiefs is superior to that of the Australian product, I can only repeat that by reducing the duty to enable additional supplies to enter the Commonwealth we are injuring an industry firmly established here. The statistics in support of the claim are -
Statistics show that in twelve months ending June, 1937, imports from Switzerland were 227,403 dozen handkerchiefs valued at £24,204 sterling. In the twelve months ending June, 1938, imports had risen to 204,673 dozen, value £28,629 sterling, an increase of 67,000 dozen, increased value, £4,000. These figures alone prove that the present tariff rates are not too high.
They prove conclusively that the present duties are not too high because at present these goods are being imported into Australia in increased quantities. Yet under this trade agreement the duty is still further reduced. The letter continues -
In 1932 our managing director was in Great Britain, and encouraged by the protection afforded by the Government at that time, he bought machinery in Belfast and founded the embroidered handkerchief industry in Aus-, tralia. The first two machines were soon in production and cost over £.1,000. Direct employment was immediately given to two senior males and fifteen females. Shortly afterwards a further three machines were purchased from Belfast. . At the same time, further hemstitching machines were bought to feed these embroiderers; the amount of capital now expended in this special work would amount to £0,000. Extra staff was immediately employed and there are now 80 Australians directly employed by these machines. As 85 per cent, of our production from these machines is put into quarter-dozen boxes and half-dozen boxes substantial increases in staff were recorded by our boxmakers and printers. Even at the present rate of tariff it is impossible for us to compete against Swiss imputations and we have had to transfer the bulk of our production to initial handkerchiefs. If there is any lowering of tariff as suggested in the trade agreement, our machines will definitely be stopped, causing immediate heavy losses and substantial reductions of our staff, the majority of whom have been specially trained for this class of work, and would now find it difficult to obtain other employment.
We are an Australian firm built on Australian capital - our executive staff and all our employees are Australians, working under award rates and conditions, and we extend a hearty invitation to members to visit and inspect our factory at any time.
We have been manufacturing handkerchiefs in Australia since 1008, and at present we have over 300 employees on our staff. A large percentage of this staff is threatened by the proposed lower duties. We therefore beg of members that they give this matter their serious consideration and treat same with urgency.
I know that we have not the power to alter this agreement, but the Senate has no right to approve of an agreement which injures even one Australian indus try. With what are we faced when such subjects as this arise? If an industry becomes established by means of bounties or special tariff protection and is successful the Government whittles away the tariff protection merely because it is successful, and if it is unsuccessful it is termed a backyard industry and no protection is afforded. Those engaged in the manufacture of handkerchiefs in Australia have been afforded sufficient protection to enable them to engage in the industry for some years. They sent i heir representatives to Great Britain and obtained in Belfast the latest machinery for this delicate class of work. Those machines are installed in their Australian factories. Protective duties have been imposed, but the rates are not too high because importations are increasing annually. The manufacturers claim that they are able and willing to carry on, but they appeal to the Government no£ to assent to any further reduction of duty. But the Government has already assented to a reduction under the agreement which has been signed by the representatives of the Commonwealth and of the Swiss Government. All that we want the Australian public to know is that we have not been given an opportunity to study the proposal. Even if we understand it, intelligent discussion is futile as the agreement has been signed and we must either approve of it or reject it. The Government has a majority and the agreement will not be rejected, but when a Labour government is next in power it will not enter into these onesided trade arrangements which interfere with the established Australian industries. It is easy for the Minister to say that under the agreement larger quantities of apples and pears will be admitted into Switzerland than at present, and that the additional exports will be of benefit to the Australian growers, but Australian manufacturers should not because of that bc injured as they will be under this proposal.
Senator KEANE (Victoria) ri0.59’J.I join with the Loader of the Opposition (“Senator Collings) in protesting against this agreement having been signed before Parliament has had an opportunity to discuss it. Commonwealth Ministers who go abroad on trade missions receive secret instructions. Their intentions are not made known to the electors, nor do any of the secondary industries whose welfare is placed in their hands have any chance to ensure that their interests will be safeguarded. In practically every trade agreement, this country has made surrenders. 1 instance the decision under this document to increase Switzerland’s opportunity to send wristlet watch cases to Australia. The Minister must know that in Bendigo there is a thriving industry engaged in the manufacture of wristlet watch cases, and employing in skilled work a good many young Australians. The industry must be adversely affected by this agreement. Every aspect of the schedule to this agreement justifies criticism. Imagine a country like Australia importing from Switzerland £10,000 worth of boots and shoes per annum ! Yet that is what this agreement envisages. Imagine it importing £3.400 worth of cheese a year, or handkerchiefs, with which my leader, Senator Collings, has already dealt! All of the items which Switzerland will bc able to export to Australia in increasing quantities are either made or can be made in Australia. I agree that, markets have to he found for primary products, but no new market should bc established at the expense of secondary industry. Since I have been a member of this Senate, I have heard a great deal about primary producers. Last week, for the benefit of the wheat-growers this Parliament passed a most drastic piece of legislation which will have fearful repercussions on the general community. This agreement is another imposition on the people of Australia in the interests of the men on the land. The Country party, a shrewd party, which in the House of Representatives has eight of its fifteen members drawing additional emoluments either as Ministers or as officers of the. House, is dominating the Government of this country. It. has all of the say in this Parliament. It behoves honorable gentlemen who have the interests of secondary industries at heart to see that measures such n.« thi.” are not allowed to slide through. I protest against the travesty of government, that is represented iu the way in which legislation such as this bill is placed before Parliament. In the short space of time which honorable senators are .afforded, it is impossible for them to assimilate what it contains. There are not many honorable senators, no matter huw experienced they may be, who know what this agreement with Switzerland means. I do know, however, that Australia is making sacrifices with little gain.
– I agree with all that was said by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings). I, too, have received, as probably every honorable senator has, a letter protesting against the reduction of the duty on handkerchiefs. 1 believe that the reason for handkerchiefs being the only subject of protest is the fact that the manufacturers of handkerchiefs have been more observant than manufacturers of other articles which are affected by this agreement. If this bill were allowed to stand over for a week, honorable senators would be inundated with protests from other manufacturers. In justification for the bill, the Minister (Senator Foll) said that it was a contribution to the establishment of more markets abroad. New markets should not be established at the cost of secondary industries, and benefit from trade agreements should be evenly spread over all industries, primary and secondary. I appeal to the Minister to postpone this bill in order to enable honorable senators to examine it mere thoroughly.
.. - A few weeks ago the Leader of the Senate (Senator McLeay) took exception to the statement made by Senator Arthur that the Senate was a joke. I put it to you, Mr. President, in all seriousness, what greater joke is there than placing a trade agreement before honorable senators, and expecting them to assimilate all that is in it, so that they can discuss it intelligently and upon its merits? It cannot be denied ‘that the Government is treating the Senate as a joke, and that the Senate is prepared to put up with it. With the possible exception of Ministers, there is not one honorable senator who has the slightest knowledge of what is contained in this bill. Yet w-e, the representatives of the people, sent here to conduct business on their behalf in a deliberative assembly, a house of review in which everything should be carefully scrutinized and discussed on its merits, are expected to pass legislation immediately after it is placed before us.
– We cannot even review this agreement.
– No, but we could reject it.
– No. the agreement has been made, it is binding.
– The Senate, if it so desired, could reject the agreement.
– At any rate, it has the power to put the Government in such a position of embarrassment that it would not be likely to repeat what it has done on this occasion. That is what should be done. This is a catchascatchcan method of legislating. No one has any conception of what is in the bill, because there has not been time in which to s’tudy it. All that the Opposition can do from the casual glance that it has had to make at the bill, is offer a few objections to certain aspects. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) has said that we are whittling away protection. I agree. What is more important, however, is that we are whittling away the power of Parliament. For all practical purposes, the Parliament in Australia, is being controlled by a concealed dictatorship. A few Ministers rely on the weight of numbers to bludgeon measures through. It is a system of political dictatorship which is akin to the state of society known as fascism. In these circumstances, Senator Arthur did not exaggerate in any way. For all practical purposes, honorable senators arc to-day nothing more than animated rubber stamps. There are some honorable senators who justify that sort of thing. When they appear at meetings of their supporters, they assure them that theyknow what is being done, whereas, of course, they do not. I should not attempt to argue the merits of the agreement; it is practically impossible for me to do so. I simply wish to record my protest as vigorously as I can against the procedure adopted, and in recording that protest to say emphatically that not one senator can justify it. An honorable senator may treat the people with contempt; he may do all sorts of things to suit himself in that respect, but he cannot justify the procedure that has been followed with reference to this bill. I suppose a precedent for this action has already been established, but if this practice is allowed to continue, honorable senators will have only themselves to blame for allowing themselves to be treated with such contempt. If honorable senators are content simply to place their imprimatur on anything the Government likes to bring forward in this chamber, the time will come when they will regret it.
.-I have but a few observations to offer in connexion with this trade agreement with Switzerland, which is subject to the ratification of this Parliament. In addressing myself to this bill, I would particularly like to refer to some matters brought under the notice of the Government by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings). The honorable gentleman read a long extract from a letter written by Pioneer Softgoods Proprietary Limited, a firm whose factory is situated within the boundaries of a ward I represent in the Municipal Council of Sydney. I had an opportunity to inspect its operations when it first erected its new building on Broadway. It will be remembered that when the Sydney City Council incurred an expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds to widen Broadway, this firm was one of the first to build on the new alignment. As a matter of fact, it was for a long while one of the few firms prepared to build on the new alignment. A progressive undertaking, which has demonstrated its willingness to move with the times in this way, should be given every encouragement. I cannot see the slightest excuse for tho Government, in the present circumstances, allowing itself to be coerced to alter the tariff in the direction proposed in this bill. The Leader of the Opposition cited figures to prove that the tariff does not operate harshly against importations from Switzerland; in fact, he showed that imports from Switzerland have increased in the last twelve months. In my opinion, any industry which provides congenial employment for our Australian people should he fostered. When I visited the factory, I found the girls at morning tea. They had no complaints to make regarding the conditions of their employment. The manager himself was animated by a desire to develop a big Australian industry, and his represen tations should be entitled to consideration. I cannot allow this bill to go through without voicing my wholehearted protest against the Government’s attitude towards this industry. It is very difficult to say exactly what effect the agreement will have upon the Australian industry. Although I am not prepared to say that it will be wrecked - nobody can say what will happen until the agreement has been in operation for some time - it cannot be denied that it will suffer severely as the result of the competition resulting from the reduced duties. The history of trade treaties made by this Government over a period of years unfortunately reveals the inability of its negotiators to secure anything of advantage to Australia. The making of every trade treaty in the past has been heraldedwith great cries of more trade for Australia, but when the treaty is in actual operation it is found that Australia is the only nation to suffer.
– That is not correct.
– If the honorable senator can point to one trade treaty that has benefited Australia, I ask him to do so. Take, for instance, the Ottawa Agreement which, it was said, would confer great benefits on this country. The other night I cited figures to show that since the Ottawa Agreement was signed 49 vessels have been imported into Australia, and that not one vessel of over 500 tons has been built in Australia. Some years ago we sent a goodwill mission to Japan in order to boost the trade between the two countries. Some supporters of the Government, realizing that there was a good deal to hope for from an extension of the trade between Australia and the East, originated the idea of sending a peace ship on a goodwill mission to the East. The trade delegation to Japan was led by a gentleman who is now a member of the High Court Bench, Sir John Latham. When he returned he told the people of Australia of the wonderful reception he had received and how keen were the people of the East to secure improved trade relations with Australia : but within a short time we found that the policy in relation to trade with the East was altered at the behest of the Manchester Trade Delegation, and that trade with Japan, instead of being fostered, was discouraged. Unfortunately that has been the story right through in connexion with our trade negotiations. Instead of being imbued with the fixed ideal of Australia’s advancement, it seems to me that our politicians have been unable to stand up for the rights of this country in opposition to the demands of foreign negotiators.
– That is only the honable senator’s opinion.
– It is also the opinion of the masses of the people. 1 contend that irrespective of whether the Government happens to be constituted as at present or whether it be a Labour government, the Australian government of the day should send the best men available to conduct trade negotiations with foreign countries.
– That is why the people will not have the Labour party in office.
– Does the honorable senator think that Australia would secure a better deal if the “A groupers” were sent overseas?
– At least the “A groupers” could do no worse than the representatives of this Government have done. Personally, I would have enjoyed seeing the five Test matches just as much as did the Attorney-General. I am sure that the average member of the Opposition in this Senate would be better fitted to secure a better deal for Australia than would honorable senators opposite. How many members of the Government have seen the factory of Pioneer Softgoods Proprietary Limited, situated in the heart of Sydney, and witnessed the wonderful progress made there? How many of them have seen the 300 odd happy and contented employees engaged in it? There does not seem to be in the mind of the Government any knowledge of what is required by the people of this country. Members of the Government go overseas insufficiently mentally endowed to be pitted against the more astute politicians of other countries. I have no doubt that they do their best, but after they have been entertained at Buckingham Palace, have followed the hounds in Herts, have indulged in a little grouse shooting which appeals so much to members of the Government, have had a week-end or two in the Riviera, have paid a passing visit to the League of Nations headquarters at Geneva, and have done a little ski-ing in the Arlberg Mountains, when finally they get down to the round table, they are merely “ knock-overs “ for the astute politicians from overseas.
SenatorCooper. - Apparently the honorable senator thinks that Australians are not good enough to go overseas.
– I say that instead of the best representatives apparently the worst representatives are sent abroad. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. I believe that the Government should be taken seriously to task over this item. Had we had more opportunity to study the schedule we might have discovered many items to which exception could be taken. I have a personal knowledge of this matter, and I should not be doing my duty to those engaged in the industry if I did not enter an emphatic protest.
– in reply - Honorable senators seem to he under a misapprehension regarding the powers of the Government under this agreement. They should know that any agreement entered into by the Government with other governments is subject to approval by Parliament, which is above the Government. Certainly an agreement signed by the two parties cannot be altered; it must be either accepted or rejected, but Parliament always has power to reject it. If members of the Opposition were in charge of the government they would take the responsibility for agreements made with other governments. They would not bring down half-baked proposals, and ask Parliament to suggest improvements.
SenatorCollings. - The only worthwhile trade agreement ever made by Australia with another country was that negotiated with Canada by Mr. Parker Moloney.
SenatorFOLL. - I give every credit to Mr. Parker Moloney for the Canadian Trade Agreement, but I emphatically refute the statement that it was the only agreement of the. kind which ever conferred any benefit upon Australia. Senator Armstrong referred to the Ottawa Agreement as if it had been a disastrous instrument to Australia. The fact is that it has been of the greatest benefit to Australian exporters, and the primary producers of this country know that those who assert the contrary are talking sheer nonsense. I also cross swords with Senator Armstrong for his statements regarding delegations which have gone from this country to negotiate trade agreements with Great Britain and other countries. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) knows very well what tremendous advantages were obtained for Australia by the delegation which negotiated with the Government of Great Britain regarding meat quotas, and how valuable that agreement was to the cattle producers of Queensland. Ho also knows what valuable work was done by the Treasurer (Mr. Casey), who, with the Premier of Queensland, Mr. Forgan Smith, attended the sugar conference in Great Britain and brought back an agreement that was of great advantage to the sugar producers of Queensland. I take full responsibility for my statement when I say that the only Australian delegation which failed to bring back anything of advantage was the Scullin-Moloney-Brennan delegation which visited Great Britain. Even Mr. Scullin himself agreed that nothing had been achieved, and that he came back empty-handed.
– Because he refused to give away Australian interests.
– One of the reasons why Mr. Scullin came back emptyhanded is that while he and two of his responsible Ministers were in England his party in Australia ruined Australian credit by talking of repudiation.
Honorable senators have had much to say regarding the proposed tariff concessions to Switzerland, but most of the concessions have been granted to Switzerland to make possible an increased volume of exports from this country. Senator Keane suggested that concessions were being granted on boots and shoes imported from Switzerland, but I remind him that there is no reference in the schedule to boots and shoes. The schedule contains many items, but members of the Opposition have been able to produce a protest from only one company, which has protested against the item covering handkerchiefs. The handkerchiefs covered by this item are specially fine lace handkerchiefs of a kind made only in Switzerland. The reduction of duty will affect only a very small range of the better class lace handkerchiefs, and will not apply to those of the type imported from China, on which the fixed rates of duty were originally imposed. Before the duties were altered thewhole matter was considered very carefully by the officers of the Trade and Customs Department. No one would suggest that the Comptroller-General of Customs, who was in England at the same time as the Minister, is unsympathetic to Australian industry, nor will any one suggest that Mr. White, who recently resigned from the position of Minister for Trade and Customs, waa not an ardent supporter of Australian industry. Even Mr. White’s most bitter political opponents have always had to admit that he was one of the best Ministers we ever had from the point of view of supporting Australian industry, and he was the man who negotiated this agreement with Switzerland. Far from being detrimental to Australia, this agreement will be of real benefit. It will assist the primary producers to market their surplus products overseas. As the duty on Australian wool entering Switzerland will be reduced, the agreement will enable our wool men to obtain an increased market. Over a specified period apples and pears will be admitted into Switzerland at concession rates. On the briefest analysis it will be seen that this agreement affords great advantages to Australia, and it is; therefore, unfair that, merely for political purposes, honorable senators opposite should accuse the Government of injuring Australian industries. I can assure honorable senators that the interests of local industries have been watched very closely, and that Australia will gain by reason of the agreement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted: - “1a. This Act shall come into operation on a date to be fixed by proclamation.”
Tlie reason for this clause is obvious. Certain negotiations have to be completed by the governments concerned, and a proclamation will be issued when it is desired that the act shall become law.
New clause agreed to.
Clause 2 agreed to.
– Will the Minister explain the proposed alteration of the tariff in regard to handkerchiefs?
– The proposed amendment affects only those handkerchiefs covered ‘by. proposed item 120 (n)(l) (a) (2). The goods involved are a specialty line of handkerchiefs produced in Switzerland, and, when .of a value for duty exceeding ls. id. a dozen, the specific rate component of the duty under the intermediate tariff will be reduced by 3d. a dozen. No other alteration in* the rates of duty is proposed. The duties on the remaining classes of handkerchiefs covered by proposed items 120 (b) (1) (a) (1) and’ 120 (tj) (1) (fi) remain unchanged, those items being included solely for drafting purposes. The reduction of duties now proposed applies to a very limited range of handkerchiefs. The goods involved must be wholly or partly of machine-made lace or embroidered by multiple needle machines and finished with machine-made edges or hems. If the handkerchiefs contain hand-made lace or any embroidery done by hand, they are excluded from the proposed duty reduction under the inter mediate tariff. In addition, the reduced specific duty will apply only to the special types of handkerchiefs described, when of a value for duty between ls. 4d. and ls. 9£d. a dozen. When exceeding a value for duty of ls. 9-kl. a dozen, the ad valorem component - ±21 per cent. - of the intermediate tariff duty, which is that provided under the existing tariff, will apply. The range of handkerchiefs on which it is proposed to grant a duty concession comprises a Swiss specialty line manufactured on. machines peculiar to Switzerland. A heavy Swiss export duty on these machines prevents their exportation -to other countries.
Whilst many types of handkerchiefs are produced in Australia, the Australian production does not include the type on which it is now proposed to grant a duty concession to Switzerland. In view of the special type and the limited range of handkerchiefs covered, the proposed reduction cannot have any appreciable effect on Australian industry. The wording of the proposed item, combined with the provision requiring the production of certificates issued by a competent authority in the country of origin, will effectively limit the scope of the duty concession to this particular range and type of handkerchiefs of Swiss origin. It will be noted that the proposed duty concession does not apply to any of the cheaper lines of handkerchiefs, which are valued for duty at ls. 4d. a dozen or less, even if they are of the specialty type produced in Switzerland. It is the considered opinion of the department, after making the fullest possible investigation as to the effect of the proposed reduction of duties, that the alterations will not have the effect which some honorable senators opposite fear.
– Bow does tho Minister reconcile that statement with the protests that have been made?
– I claim that the Pioneer Softgoods Company is under a misapprehension.
– What about all the other items in regard to which the rates of duty are to be reduced?
– I am prepared to go into details in regard to all these duties; but, as I suggested earlier in the debate, I propose to do that later, when the Customs Tariff is under consideration. I give an assurance that any information desired regarding any item will then be furnished.
– The explanation given by the Minister, and any questions which honorable senators may ask. will be futile and cause a waste of time, because no alteration of the agreement will be made. The Minister suggests that the complaints of the Opposition relate particularly to handkerchiefs, but the agreement has also to do with timber, watches, cotton piece goods, and numerous other items. As the Government is determined that no alteration of tho proposed duties shall be made, it is foolish for the Minister to waste time in voluminous explanations.
– I have no desire to curtail the debate, or to keep from honorable senators any information that they desire.
– Every one of these proposed reductions of duty directly hits some Australian industry.
– That statement is quite inaccurate. I have been supplying information for which Senator Leckie has asked, and have shown . that the proposed duty concessions do not apply to any of the cheaper lines of handkerchiefs which have a value for duty of ls. 4d. a dozen or less, even though they may be of a specialty type produced in Switzerland. The Government has made every investigation to ensure that this agreement will be of benefit, and not harmful, to Australia. That is the reason for its having been made.
– I am concerned at the futility of any discussion of this schedule. 1 have asked, for certain information to be supplied in connexion with a complaint that I have received from pioneer Softgoods Industries. The Minister has stated definitely and emphatically that the reduction of the tariff will not injure that industry. How doe3 he reconcile such an assertion with a statement of the manager of the industry? In a letter to me, he has said -
Statistics show that in the twelve months ending June, 1937, imports from Switzerland were 227,493 dozen handkerchiefs, valued at ?24,204 sterling. In the twelve months ending June, 1938, imports had risen to 294,073 dozen, valued at ?28,052 sterling, an increase of 07,000 dozen, valued at ?4,000 sterling.
It will thus be seen that the tariff protection designed to assist this industry has not had the desired effect, because Switzerland can export handkerchiefs to Australia to the detriment of the firm to which I have referred. Yet the Minister claims that the reduction of the tariff will not interfere with that industry! This is only one protest which has so far reached us since the introduction of the bill. We may receive protests from dozens of other industries that will be affected by the operation of the agreement.
– I point out to the honorable senator that the proposed reduction of duty does not apply to handkerchiefs of every type. The total importations of handkerchiefs and serviettes of cotton or linen from Switzerland in 1937-3S had a value of ?2S,629. The duty is to be reduced only on lace handkerchiefs of a specially high quality, and not on all handkerchiefs and serviettes imported from Switzerland.
– I realize that.
– The probable effect on the local industry was carefully gauged before this concession was granted. No protest has been sent to me.
– The Governmenthas been whittling away the protection enjoyed by Australian industries ever since it came into office.
– That is one of those “ Clever Alec “ statements which the honorable senator delights in making, and which cannot be substantiated. He thinks he can get away with it, although he knows perfectly well that an analysis of the position would disclose that secondary as well as primary industries have far more friends on this side of the chamber than are to be found in the ranks of his colleagues. Honorable senators supporting the Government have nothing of which to be ashamed in their record of assistance to the industries of this country. Probably, man for man, their actions compare more than favorably with anything done by the honorable senator and his friends.
– I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) that it would be simply a waste of time to discuss the various items of this schedule, because the agreement has already been entered into. Honorable senators supporting the Government will agree to whatever the schedule contains, irrespective of the force of any opposing argument adduced by honorable senators on this side of the chamber.
- (Senator James McLachlan). - To which item is the honorable senator alluding?
– I am referring to the whole of the items. To debate the merits or the demerits of the schedule would merely be a waste of time.
– The honorable senator may discuss only a particular item.
– I am discussing all of them.
– The honorable senator is not permitted to do so.
– Whatever item may be chosen, I am convinced that no argument-
– Will the honorable senator indicate the item to which he is alluding?
– I protest against the form in which it has been presented to Parliament.
– When the members of the trade delegation were on the other side of the world, the Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page), who is a freetrader, and the then Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White), who is a protectionist, were so busy wrangling that it was necessary for the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) to act as referee.
– Order ! The honorable senator is not in order in discussing the trade delegation.
– The two Ministers were so busy wrangling that they neglected to watch the interests of Pioneer Softgoods Industries Proprietary Limited. Arising out of their neglect, the value of the handkerchiefs imported from Switzerland is likely to increase by about £4,000 a year. There was no necessity to reduce the duty on handkerchiefs from ls. to 9d. a dozen. I must accept the statement of the Minister that the agreement will not affect Pioneer Softgoods Industries Proprietary Limited, but if it is not borne out by the facts, I shall not in future so readily accept his word. I trust that he is correct in saying that this Australian company and its employees will not be affected.
– The committee having passed clause 2. it does not appear to me that it can alter the schedule.
– The committee may discuss the schedule, but may not amend it.
– Had clause 2 been postponed, the schedule could have been discussed and, if thought desirable, amended.
– If it is desired to discuss clause 2, the bill will have to be re-committed.
– The Minister has told us that the business of Pioneer Softgoods Industries Proprietary Limited, will not be interfered with, but I draw attention to the following paragraph in a communication received from that firm: -
If there is any lowering of tariff as suggested in the trade agreement, our machines will definitely be stopped, causing immediate heavy losses and substantial reductions of our staff, the majority of whom have been specially trained for this class of work, and would now find it difficult to obtain other employment.
– I did not say that, no matter what the circumstances were, the Pioneer Handkerchief Company would not be affected. I said that the information given to me was that the duty was being reduced on a specialty type of handkerchief. The belief of the department, and the information I have, is that the reduction that has been made on that type of handkerchief, which is peculiar to Switzerland and not made elsewhere, will not seriously affect the handkerchief -making industry in Australia.
SenatorCollings. - In other words, this firm does not know its own business. It says the reduction will affect it, and the honorable senator says it will not.
– I remind the honorable senator that very few of the scares which are raised, particularly in relation to the raising or lowering of duties of customs, have any real foundation. I have seen numerous instances of the truth of that statement during the many years that I have been watching tariffs in this chamber.
First schedule agreed to.
Wednesday, 7 December. 1938.
– This schedule consists, mostly of letters from the previous Minister for
Trade and Customs (Mr. White) to Dr. A. Koch, Department of Public Economy in Switzerland, and replies. I draw the attention of the committee to Dr. Koch’s letter of the 22nd November, 1938, stating that “ The tariff concession on cotton or linen handkerchiefs … on importation into Australia is granted subject to the condition that a certificate be furnished by a Swiss chamber of commerce with respect to each consignment that the handkerchiefs comply with the description in, or have been manufactured by the processes described in, the relevant item of the Australian Customs tariff.” That bears out the Minister’s statement that these are handkerchiefs produced by a special process in Switzerland’. It is a definite undertaking by the Swiss Government that the goods must be certified to comply with the necessary conditions before they can be admitted. I should like the Minister to tell mc the meaning of the names “Bellergal,” “ Calciumbronat,” and “Gynergen,” mentioned by Dr. Koch in a further letter of the 22nd November, 1938.
SenatorFoll. - They are three proprietary medicines not made in Australia.
Second schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Foll) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The intention of the measure is to establish the newsprinting paper industry in Australia. It is the culmination of several attempts made within the last fourteen years to manufacture newsprint in this country. Australian Newsprint Mills Proprietary Limited, the company which proposes to manufacture newsprint, is sponsored by a group of news papers which uses two-thirds of the Australian requirements of newsprint. The company was formed with a capital of £1,300,000 in £1 shares, consisting of 250,000 cumulative preference shares issued to the Tasmanian Government, and 1,050,000 ordinary shares. Of the ordinary shares S00,000 have been taken up by the newspapers concerned, while 250,000 are to be issued for the assets of the two companies which carried out the early experiments and acquired the freehold properties and concessional rights now taken over by Australian Newsprint Mills Proprietary Limited. Softwoods arc principally used in other parts of the world for the manufacture of newsprint. However, the manufacturers of newsprint in Australia will use mainly hardwoods, and are satisfied, after considerable experimentation, that good quality newsprint can bc successfully produced f rom them.
Hardwoods will be used also by manufacturers of certain classes of paper other than newsprint. Early this year a mill was erected in northern Tasmania for the manufacture of writing paper and fine printing paper, and a pulp mill is in course of erection in Gippsland,- Victoria, for the production of hardwood pulp suitable for the manufacture of kraft paper and paper boards. The Newsprint Company proposes to erect a factory on the Derwent River in southern Tasmania, and to utilize mainly swamp gum in conjunction with a certain proportion of imported chemical pulp in the first stage of manufacture. The manufacture of newsprint will proceed in three stages. The first stage will involve the erection of a mill, with one machine capable of producing 27,000 tons of newsprint annually, and with a mechanical pulp mill capable ultimately of supplying 75 per cent. of the pulp required. The remainder of the pulp used in the first stage will be imported chemical pulp. In the second stage, a second paper-making machine capable of an additional annual output of 45.000 tons will bc installed, together with a chemical pulp mill, whilst, additions will be made to the mechanical pulp mill. In the third stage, another 45,000 tons paper-making machine will he added, with suitable additions to the pulp mills and auxiliary services. Employment, principally in the bush and at the mill, is expected to be given to 266 hands in the first stage of production, and it is estimated that at the final stage 850 hands will be employed. The bill now before the Senate covers only the first stage of production, during which approximately 27,000 tons of newsprint will be manufactured annually. The Tariff Board recommended that the industry be assisted in the first stage by a bounty, the funds for which, the board suggested, should be provided by a duty, both bounty and duty to vary with the variation in the imported cost of newsprint, on condition that the bounty should not exceed £4 a ton. The Government proposes to grant to the new industry the measure of assistance recommended by the Board, but has decided to give this assistance by means of bounty without duty, unless the price of newsprint falls substantially below present-day levels. The obvious result of that will be that the cost of establishing this new industry, which will be of tremendous value to Australia in providing additional employment, and also in making this country largely independent of overseas newsprint, will be borne by the taxpayers generally and not by a small section of independent newsprint importers who would be obliged to carry this burden were a duty imposed as was originally recommended by the Tariff Board. The present duty will not be increased unless the c.i.f.e. price, plus primage, of imported newsprint is less than £15 a ton. The bulk of the newsprint being supplied to Australia under 1939 contracts cannot be landed at less than £16 6s. a ton, inclusive of primage duty. Therefore, under the Government’s plan, the cost of imported newsprint will not be increased by reason of this assistance. The amount of bounty which will be paid when the imported cost is £16 6s. a ton will be approximately £1 14s. a ton. The bill provides that the bounty shall be applied on a sliding scale. No bounty will be paid when the imported cost is £18 l1s. 3d. a ton or greater. It will increase as the imported cost falls, and a bounty of £4 a ton will be paid when the imported cost of newsprint falls to £12 l1s: 3d. The bounty will in no circumstances exceed £4 a ton. In the event of a material fall of the cost of imported newsprinting paper to a level below £15 a ton, the Government proposes to apply a duty at rates substantially lower than those recommended by the Tariff Board. The rates of duty will be - 5s. a ton when imported cost is below £15 a ton, 7s. 6d. a ton when imported cost is below £14 a ton, and 10s. a ton when imported cost is below £13 a ton. Whenever the duty is applied the rate of bounty will be reduced by an amount corresponding to the amount of the duty.
The bill will not operate until production of newsprint commences and will continue for a period of four years. So far as can be seen at the moment, production will not commence until the end of 1939, or early in 1940. The question of what assistance, if any, is to be granted after the expiration of the fouryear period, will be determined only after further investigation by the Tariff Board.
In bringing forward this bill, the Government feels that the newsprint venture will form an important unit in the industry of the Commonwealth for the following reasons : - First, it will be established in one of the less industrialized States ; secondly, it should ultimately help to control the price of imported newsprint, particularly in times of emergency when overseas prices are inclined to reach very high levels and supplies are difficult to obtain; and, thirdly, when fully established, it will provide considerable employment and result in the investment of a large amount of capital. In asking honorable senators to support the measure, I point out that it has been the hope of members of all parties for very many years that this industry would be established. The bill, I believe, meets the wishes of all sections of the community, including those who have had the courage to invest their money in this venture.
Sitting suspended from12. 15 to 1 a.m.
– The Opposition supports this bill wholeheartedly. We are always pleased to encourage the establishment in this country of useful industries which will provide’ employment for a considerable number of people. I shall discuss only two aspects of the bill. When this proposal was first mooted, it was suggested that the industry should be encouraged by means of a levy. The newspapers not included in the combine were fearful that that procedure would affect them most adversely, and I think their fears were well founded. They believed that they would not be able to stand the strain, being more or less independent units, whereas the syndicated newspapers would be in a much more favorable position. However, as the industry is to be encouraged by means of a bounty, that fear has been dispelled. Representatives of the independent newspapers were present in Canberra while this bill was before the other House, and they expressed their satisfaction with its provisions.
The other point to which I shall refer relates to an amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) while the bill was before the House of Representatives, the purpose of which was. to protect the interests of the workers. I referred to a similar amendment to the Motor Industry Bounty Bill earlier to-day. The Opposition believes that the interests of the workers should be fully protected in measures of this kind. The company which will be engaged in the production of newsprinting paper will employ a considerable number of men in a great diversity of occupations, and we wish to ensure that these workers shall, in every case, receive award rates of wages and enjoy award conditions of work. The Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) expressed grave doubts in the other House as to whether the amendment to which I have referred was constitutional, but an assurance was given that the Government would see that award conditions were observed in the industry. I ask the Minister in charge of this bill to give us a similar assurance. When public funds are provided to assist in the establishment of new industries, it is imperative that the workers shall be assured of proper working conditions. It is anticipated that, when the final stage of production is reached in this industry, the need for the bounty will disappear. In fact, that is provided for in the bill.
The Opposition is pleased also that this industry will be established in one of the smaller States. Tasmania is well equipped to become the centre of the newsprinting paper industry. I suppose no State of the Commonwealth is more favorably situated than it is in respect of facilities for cheap power and abundance of suitable raw material for this purpose. The new project offers every prospect of success, also, in that the principal consumers of the newsprinting paper will be the persons financially interested in the company. The Tasmanian Government has given financial support to the enterprise, and that is another reason for anticipating success.
Senator HERBERT HAYS (Tasmania) fi. 6 a.m..]. - I join with the Leader of the Opposition’ (Senator Collings) in commending the Government for having brought in this bill to assist the production of newsprinting paper in Australia. Even before the seat ©f government was transferred from Melbourne to Canberra, this subject had been debated in Parliament, and, of course,, it has been frequently mentioned in debates in the Senate. Since the proposal was first made more than twelve years ago, a great deal of experimental work has been done, and the fact has now been proved beyond dispute that newsprinting paper may be manufactured successfully from Australian hardwoods. This will be an industry of national importance to the Commonwealth. As the Leader of the Opposition observed, Tasmania is more favorably situated than any of the other States for providing the facilities required for this industry, in that it has available an abundance of cheap electric power and its forest areas are admirably located for providing the necessary raw material. The Tasmanian Government showed great enterprise in establishing its hydro-electric power undertaking on an ambitious scale; I sippose the capital expenditure has been about £6,000,000. The whole business has, however, been most profitable to the State. In this way Tasmania can enjoy some of the prosperity which is experienced in the other States where important industries are established. Another Tasmanian industry is already producing writing paper and finer types of paper from the raw materials obtained in the
Tasmanian forests. I congratulate the Government upon the introduction of the bill, which will result in the establishment of an industry which will not only benefit Tasmania, but will also be of definite advantage to the whole Commonwealth.
– I am pleased to find that the Government has introduced this measure in which provision is made for the payment of a bounty on the production of newsprint. As the industry will he of benefit to Tasmania, it will compensate to some degree for the injustice which that State has suffered as a result of the apple and pear legislation recently passed by this Parliament. If orchardists are compelled to tear up their trees they may be able to sell them for the production of paper pulp. As the population of Tasmania has been diminishing for some time the establishment of this industry may result in it remaining stationary or actually increasing. Moreover, the industry will assist decentralization, which is so essential in these days when the Government appears to assist only those secondary industries which can be established in the more populous States. T understand that at the outset about 300 persons will be employed, and that when the industry is firmly established work will be available for no fewer than 800. That will be of considerable benefit to Tasmania. As £1,300,000 is to be invested, £250,000 of which is to be contributed by the Tasmanian Government, the success of the industry should be assured. The measure possesses many good features, and I do not think that there is any way in which the company can avoid its obligations even in respect of paying award rates to, and providing award conditions for, its workmen. Should it decline to do so, the Government will have the power to withhold the bounty. During the war period imported newsprint was costing up to £80 a ton. but the present price is about £16 6s. a tmi, and production within Australia will ensure supplies at a reasonable price in future. The Government and people of Tasmania are looking forward eagerly to the establishment of the industry, which we all hope will be a pronounced success.
– I direct the attention of honorable senators opposite, who say that the members of the Opposition oppose every bill that comes before this chamber, to the fact that we are supporting this measure. 1 remind honorable senators that this bill is to benefit, not only Tasmania, because the bounty will be payable on newsprint in whatever part of the Commonwealth it may be produced. The proposed bounty will, of course, be of considerable advantage to the industry which is to be started in Tasmania. When the factory is producing 100,000 tons a year an expenditure of approximately £3,000,000 will be involved, which will necessitate “the employment of a. good deal of labour. This industry will also require further development of the hydro-electric scheme, which will provide employment for additional men. I regret that provision has not been made in the bill to compel employers to observe arbitration award rates and conditions.
– They will have to comply with the awards of the Arbitration Court.
– That is so; but awards require extensive policing by union organizers and officials. The position would be strengthened if the bill specifically stated that such rates had to be paid. Employees’ representatives will have to spend a good deal of time to keep in touch with the men who will be working in different parts of the State. The Australian Paper Pulp Company, which is already operating in the northern portion of Tasmania, has nien working 150 miles from the factory, some of them at a considerable distance from the railway. The rates of pay vary according to the point from which the timber is drawn. The company contends that when the timber has to bo hauled 100 miles, it cannot pay the men the same wages as when timber has to be hauled only 25 miles.
– Are the men not under the State award ?
– They work under contract.
– Yes. It is just as difficult to cut timber in one part of the >State as in another part. The union organizers will incur heavy expenditure of money and time in travelling through these districts in order to ascertain whether the award is being observed, whereas, if this measure contained a provision under which the bounty would cease to be paid if it were proved that the award was being flouted, not half of the policing would be necessary.
– Who would police the act?
– It would not be hard to police it. The moment that the union organizers found that men were being paid less than the award rate, they would report it to the Commonwealth Government which, if the charges were found to be true, would suspend payment of the bounty.
I regret the omission from the bill of a specific provision to protect the workers in the industry, but at the same time I compliment the Government on introducing the legislation. The sooner it is passed the better for all concerned, because the company will be able to go ahead with the construction of its factory, which has been held in abeyance pending this legislation. I point out to the Senate that it may be that there will be no need for the bounty, because the price of newsprint is approaching the level at which the bounty will not be payable. The existence of a newsprint industry in Australia would be of benefit in the event of a recurrence of the crisis of 1914-18 when the price of newsprint rose to about £80 a ton.
– I emphasize the claim made by the last speaker, that legislation of this kind cannot be complete and satisfactory until it contains provision for the protection of the employees. The bill guarantees the manufacturer of newsprint in Australia a fair price for his product, and it is a reasonable request that the employees should be guaranteed a fair price for their power. Iri the House of Representatives, the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Menzies) said that it would be unconstitutional to include in the measure a provision of the kind sought.
– That is only the opinion of one man.
– Exactly, and we know that legal men reason in two ways, objectively and subjectively. There is the thesis and the anti-thesis, and subsequently, the synthesis, the judgment. A great many unskilled persons will be employed in this industry. We know perfectly well that there is a good deal of competition among unskilled labourers, and that the employers, ever ready to make money at 1he expense of others, are not averse from making the be3t use of any opportunity offered them to make a good deal more than that to which they are entitled. 1 protest that provision of the kind sought is not included in the bill. The Attorney-General may be sincere in his assurance, but he cannot guarantee that he will always be the AttorneyGeneral or that the Lyons Government will always be in power. We know from experience that Attorneys-General have the habit of pointing out that they are not ready to accept assurances given by their predecessors, who, they say, had no authority to bind their successors.
– The fears expressed by certain honorable senators opposite seem to have no foundation. The men will be protected by wages boards.
– But there is no provision for a cessation pf the bounty if the company does not observe award conditions. If there were, the company would not be prepared to take the risk.
– The courts fine companies which do not observe the awards. It will be just as easy to police the award as it would be to police the proposed act. I do not altogether approve of this legislation, but at the same time I agree that the Government has undertaken a big job, which, if successful, will be of great benefit to Australia. According to the statistics, we import annually £5,000,000 of paper and stationery, of which £2,500,000 worth is newsprint. If we could produce half, or even a quarter of the quantity of newsprint that we import we should be doing a great thing for Australian industry, and the favorable reaction on national life and welfare would be great. I hope that the Government’s efforts will meet with the success that they deserve. A few years ago it was ‘thought to be utterly impossible to make newsprint from hardwood, but the new venture will be an experiment in that direction, and I hope that the results will justify the investment of capital in the enterprise. Scientific opinion seems to favour the project, so I give it my blessing.
– When this project became a live issue there was in the early stages a great deal of dissatisfaction. That has now been removed, and accordingly it is the intention of the Opposition to support the bill. We appreciate that a new industry will be established in Australia.
– In Tasmania.
– I count Tasmania as part of the Commonwealth. In Victoria there are forests .to which the new industry may eventually be extended. It is a matter of regret that some of the finest forests in Victoria have in the past been destroyed. A company has been formed which will conduct the newsprint industry in Tasmania as a monopoly, but the interests of those users of newsprint who are not associated with the producer company have been safeguarded. As has been suggested, it is a grave anomaly that from a measure of this kind there should be missing the desired protection ‘of the workers engaged in this industry. There seems to be the mistaken idea in the minds of honorable senators opposite that all workers are protected as the result of the operation of Arbitration Court awards. Unfortunately, some years ago the High Court of Australia decided that what was known as the common rule regarding arbitration awards was unconstitutional. Consequently, the organizations which obtained awards have been put to a great deal of trouble in order to make their awards effective. There are numerous ways in which unscrupulous employers can evade awards.
– Has not the Arbitration Court lately held that an award can be made to apply to non-unionists?
– Yes ; the Arbitration Court in a recent judgment made an award covering all employees within an industry. That award covers nonunionists, but there is still the obligation that employers shall be parties to the award and, as I have said, there are ways in which employers can evade awards. The union, in presenting the case to the
Arbitration Court, goes to a great deal of trouble to cite the persons who arc known employers. These persons become parties to the award. The position is somewhat analogous to the position that exists in connexion with litigation in which only the parties to the case come within the jurisdiction of the court. So it is in the arbitration field. The union carefully prepares a list of known employers and serves the summons upon them; they come to the court and are bound by the award; but once the award is made, if there should be other employers in the same industry who are not parties to the award, it is not binding upon them. That is quite possible in an industry of this description. I should say that the felling of timber and other phases of this work may possibly be performed, under contract arrangements. Unless the union cites a particular contractor, he is not responsible for the observance of the award. If a contractor goes out of business and some one else takes on the contract, the same employees may be engaged, but because the new employer is not a party to the award, these employees cease to be covered by it. Honorable senators will therefore see that all the assurances of the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) and of the Government and, for that matter, of any one else, are of no avail when these changed conditions operate. Honorable senators are aware of the conditions that are operating in some of the States with reference to the payment’ of award rates in those industries in which unemployed relief moneys are being expended. For instance, the Municipal Employees Union has secured an award covering practically every shire, borough, town or city council throughout Australia. In regard to the Victorian position - naturally, I am more conversant with the industrial -laws of Victoria - it has been held by the courts that’ the real employers of relief workers are not the shire councils, but the State Employment Council set up by the Government. Hence the State Employment Council, not being a party to the award, is not obliged to pay award rates. Honorable senators will see the reason for the insistence of honorable senators on this side of the chamber, that a clause should be inserted in the measure to make sure that conditions laid down by the Arbitration Court shall be observed. I enter my protest against statements made from time to time that this or the other ‘thing isunconstitutional. Who says that such a provision as I am suggesting would be unconstitutional ?
– One man.
– That is so. The proper attitude for this Parliament to adopt is to insert a clause in bounty legislation providing that industries assisted by bounty shall observe award rates and conditions. I venture to suggest that those in charge of assisted industries would not be game to test the constitutionality of such a provision. They would not dare to fly in the face of public opinion. Yet we find this Government too often anxious to assert that certain things are unconstitutional. I suggest that in air industry of this description which the Government is subsidizing, an excellent opportunity exists for the application of the shorter working week. The excuse offered by this Government for its failure to introduce the shorter working week is that some one fears that such action may be unconstitutional. No concrete evidence has been brought forward to show that it would be unconstitutional. For its failure in this direction the Government relies on the assertion of one man, as has been suggested by interjection by the Leader of the Opposition. That is only playing with tha matter. If it is sincerely desirous of bringing into operation working conditions to benefit the workers, here is the opportunity for it to do so.
– Who said that the Government wanted to introduce the 40- hour week?
– The Government was represented at the International Labour Conference at Geneva when the convention relating to the 40-hour week was adopted. Its representative, acting under its express instructions, supported that proposal.
– To cover only three industries.
– It accepted the principle that the shorter working week should be introduced into industry.
– But only into three industries.
– The Government does not object to the introduction of the 40-hour week in any industry; it does not object that the time is not opportune for the application of the principle of the 40-hour week; but it suggests that possibly its introduction mightbe unconstitutional. Here is a golden opportunity to test its sincerity in this regard. Reference has been made to the displacement of workers by the introduction of machinery. Surely honorable senators must see that if improvements of this kind are to continue, those engaged in industry should receive some of the benefits. It has been suggested that the workers are opposed to the introduction of machinery, but that is not so. All they ask is that when machinery is introduced to increase the output of the individual worker, they should receive some of the benefits by way of shorter hours and increased wages.
– The community is also entitled to share by wav of reduced prices.
– That is so, but the trouble is that most of the industries are in the hands of monopolies which, instead of passing on the benefits in the form of reduced prices and higher wages, distribute the additional earnings among their shareholders. The people of Australia will never obtain the benefit of legislation of this kind until this Parliament has power to prescribe rates of pay, and the price at which the finished article shall be sold.
– Until Parliament has the courage.
– I cannot see any evidence among supporters of the Government of the courage necessary to go forward with a programme of that kind. Perhaps we are unfair constantly to upbraid the Ministers; after all, they keep their positions only by the support of their followers.
– I support the bill, and I congratulate the Government upon having taken this step to establish an industry of such importance in Tasmania, where, because power and timber supplies are readily available, it can be conducted more economically than in any other
State. As a senator representing one of the smaller States, I am glad to know that the industry will be established in Tasmania, the smallest of the States. It, is better that we should assist the smaller States by promoting the establishment of industries of this kind than that we should dole out money grants as has been done in the past. The Government should do what it can to establish industries in the other smaller States, such as South Australia and Western Australia.
. -I am a representative of one of the larger States, but I am glad that it is proposed to establish a newsprint manufacturing industry in Tasmania, becauseI believe that industry should be decentralized as much as possible. I fear, however, that although the industry is commencing in Tasmania, it may, like many others, eventually be transferred to New South Wales. It is my hope that this industry will provide employment for many of the people in Tasmania, thus making it unnecessary for them to leave their own State for the mainland. I do not agree with those who maintain that Tasmania is badly treated. It has excellent representation in the Commonwealth Parliament,, and has received many benefits. I trust that the Government, when framing legislation providing for the payment of bounties, will insert a provision compelling those: engaged in the industry to pay award wages. I have in mind the fact that some firms which hold government contracts for the supply of goods, refuse to pay award wages, and will not allow any of their employees to become trade unionists.
– in reply - I am grateful to honorable senators for the way in which they have received this bill. When the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) gave notice in the House of Representatives of a new clause, the insertion of which he intended to move in connexion with the Motor Industry Bounty Bill, and which was similar to that which honorable senators opposite suggested should be inserted in this measure, the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) questioned the validity of such an amendment. As the Attorney-General is one of the highest constitutional lawyers in Australia, his opinion must be highly respected. Speaking in the House of Representatives on the 1st December last, he said -
I entirely agree with the principle underlying the amendment, and I am prepared to examine the problem as it relates to the payment of bounties of all sorts by the Commonwealth, to see whether some general provision cannot be devised which will have the desired effect. If I cannot find a means to do what is desired, 1 shall explain why.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) added-
That assurance by the Attorney-General, for which 1 thank him, is perfectly satisfactory to me. Such a provision may never be necessary, but it is desirable in order that the workers in industry may be protected.
It may perhaps be of interest to honorable senators if I explain briefly the position in regard to clauses relating to the conditions of employment under bounty legislation. This bill does not contain provisions relating to the conditions of employment and rates of wages for labour in the manufacture of goods which are eligible for bounty. Several existing bounty acts have given the Minister power to withhold the whole or any part of the bounty payable if he finds that the rates of wages or conditions of employment, or any of them, paid or observed in respect of the labour employed in the production of the goods on which the bounty is payable -
These provisions have never been attacked on the ground that they are unconstitutional. lt appears, however, that their validity may be questioned on either of the following grounds: -
With regard to both these grounds, some support is obtained from the judgments of the High Court in 1908 in Barger’scase, reported in C.L.R. at p. 41. In that case the principal question was whether the Excise Tariff 1906, which imposed an excise duty on agricultural machinery, but allowed an exemption on machinery produced by manufacturers who observed certain industrial conditions, was a valid exercise of the taxation power of the Commonwealth. The majority of the High Court held that the act was invalid as being in substance a law “ to regulate the conditions of labour employed in the manufacture of agricultural implements - a matter within the exclusive competence of the legislatures of the States “. In addition, the majority held that the conditions which could bc prescribed by the industrial authorities specified in the act and which were similar to those specified for like purposes in existing bounty acts, might, and almost certainly would, vary in different localities. In these circumstances the majority of the court held that, as the result of this variation,the conditions in one State would probably be different from those in another. The way was open for discrimination between States, and as the measure was a taxing measure it was therefore invalid.
In the case of a bounty the question of discrimination. also arises, but in relation to individuals and not States. Section 51 (iii.) of the Constitution gives the Parliament power to legislate with respect to bounties on the production or export of goods, but so that such bounties shall be uniform throughout the Commonwealth, In order that bounties may be uniform, it appears that where they arc payable on the production of goods they should be payable to all persons who can produce those goods on such conditions as are prescribed. If the conditions prescribed vary according ro the locality in which the goods are manufactured or produced, then the conditions are not uniform, and the payment of the bounty is, therefore, not uniform. It may be that by reason of the variation of the conditions in different localities the various manufacturers would be operating on equal terms, hut, as the majority of the Court stated in Barger’s case, at page 70, “ the Parliament is precluded from attempting to equalize the conditions which nature has made unequal “. The provision in question being at best of doubtful validity, and probably, therefore, unenforceable, it is considered desirable that it should be omitted from the bill.
The Attorney-General has expressed the views of the Government in saying that he is in entire sympathy with the principles underlying the suggested amendment. Every member of the Government and its supporters, equally with members of the Opposition, is desirous that in all cases where men and women work under award rates and conditions employers shall faithfully observe them; but, rather than incorporate in the bill a provision the validity of which is doubtful, it would be better for the AttorneyGeneral to carry out his promise to investigatethe position and report to the Parliament as to the best way to deal with this difficult problem.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 11 agreed to.
Clause 12 (Conditions as to sale of paper).
– I should like the Minister (Senator Foll) to give the assurance that under the provisions of this clause newspapers which are outside the combine behind this organization will be assured of supplies of newsprinting paper for all time. I have in mind the fact that when this industry is in operation and the largest proportion of our requirements of newsprinting paper is being produced in Tasmania, necessarily there will be no desire to import small quantities, and it may bc found that the less important newspapers may be confronted with the necessity of being dealt with arbitrarily by this big organization.
– I give to the honorable senator the assurance that he seeks. In the event of outside newspapers requiring supplies, the company will open up the full four-years’ supply and provide them with the opportunity to enter into contracts for the purchase of their requirements.
. It seems to me that on this clause depends tho successful working of the act. So far as I am able to judge, it seems to cover the whole of the ground. The particularization of the matter by Senator Keane will perhaps do good service to the outside public, who are not aware of all that is happening. Paragraph I> stipulates that the Minister must be satisfied that the offer of the manufacturer to sell the paper manufactured or to be manufactured by him, provides that each grade and class of paper shall be sold at a uniform price, inclusive of freight and insurance, for the ports of all the capital cities, and subject to uniform conditions as to delivery, discount, payment, and other matters relating to the sale. Under paragraph c. the Minister must be satisfied that, in- the event of the quantity of paper covered by all the acceptances of the offer exceeding the manufacturers’ anticipated production, the manufacturer has apportioned the anticipated production equitably and without discrimination. It seems to me that the Government has provided for every contingency. I hope that tho Minister will see that these conditions are accepted at their face value, and that there will be no discrimination as between the members of the company and outsiders. If there is any gap in the measure, and it is filled, both the public and those newspapers which are not in the company will be satisfied.
– Before the bill was finally drafted, the Government endeavoured to close every gap. Provision was made for paper to be sold at a unif orm price in the capital cities, irrespective of additional freight charges. Companies in the other States will not be penalized by reason of distance from the main source of supply. Every aspect of the matter was carefully investigated by the Government, and I assure the honorable senator that if any anomalies causing injustice to any individual or section of the people are disclosed, immediate attention will be given to the matter.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 13 to 23 agreed to.
Clause 24 (Regulations).
– This clause provides that regulations may be made prescribing the conditions of manufacture. I should like the Minister to inform me as to whether that embraces hours of labour and conditions of employment in the industry.
– Regulations may be made not inconsistent with the act.
– Would it be inconsistent with the act to prescribe conditions relating to hours of labour, wages, &c. ? I do not think so. I am not quite sure as to the reason for the inclusion of this clause in the bill, and I should like to have an explanation of it from the Minister. If it means that the Minister shall have power to make regulations governing wages and hours, I do not think that it should be enacted.
– The bounty may be payable to factories in different parts of Australia, and it may happen that a factory is manufacturing paper of various types, some of it subject to bounty and some of it not. In order to safeguard the position, it might be necessary for the Government to make regulations providing that that portion of the factory manufacturing paper on which bounty was payable should keep separate accounts, or even have installed separate machinery. The object is to fulfil the requirements of clauses 7 and 11. Clause 7 provides that the bounty shall be payable in respect of paper manufactured in a factory in accordance with the prescribed conditions, from pulp produced from timber, while clause 11 lays it down that where, in the opinion of the Minister, paper is, or is proposed to be, manufactured at premises under such conditions as are from time to time prescribed, he shall appoint those premises as a factory for the purposes of the act. The terms and conditions can be prescribed only by regulation. It is a drag-net clause which gives power to make regulations to meet any special set of conditions.
Clause agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
SenatorFOLL (Queensland - Minister for Repatriation) [2.12 a.m.]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to provide £10,000,000 out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the payment of war pensions. This is the usual measure submitted to Parliament for the purpose of appropriating an amount from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for payment into a trust fund to enable pensions to be paid at rates already approved by Parliament. The total amount appropriated by Parliament to date for this purpose is £145,000,000, and the balance of this appropriation now remaining is sufficient only to meet pension payments to the 31st December, 1938. Although Parliament is being asked to approve of £10,000,000, which is the usual amount appropriated, this amount will not be withdrawn from revenue immediately. Revenue is drawn upon only as required to enable pension payments to be made as they become due. As previously stated, the basis of payments has already been established by Parliament, and this measure merely approves the provision of funds for the purpose.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Appropriation of £10,000,000 for war pensions).
– I direct attention to the practice of Dr. King at the Randwick Military Hospital in advising widows and near relatives of deceased soldiers that it may be to their advantage to have a post-mortem examination of their deceased soldier relatives. As the result of such examinations, certificates have been issued in some instances that the soldier has not died as the result of a complaint or injury in respect of which a war pension is payable. I suggest that the practice be reviewed. I am prepared to supply to the Minister particulars of cases which have come under mynotice in which pensions have been reduced because of certificates by Dr. King that the soldiers have not died as the result of war service.
SenatorFOLL (Queensland - Minister for Repatriation) [2.17 a.m.]. - I do not propose to recommend the abolition of post-mortem examinations. If I did, the returned soldiers themselves would object. Senator Amour has said that, in some instances, pensions have been reduced following post-mortem examinations, but I know of many instances in which the examinations have had the opposite result. I point out, moreover, that before a post-mortem examination is conducted, the next-of-kin is consulted. Some time ago I issued instructions that in all cases in which a postmortem examination has been suggested by the doctor, the next-of-kin of the deceased soldier should be advised that the result of the examination may be a reduction of the pension. It is not my intention to abolish this practice.
– I remind the Minister (SenatorFoll) of the attitude of every returned soldiers’ organization in the Dubois case.
SenatorFoll. - The soldiers themselves would object to the abolition of post-mortem examinations.
– I do not think so, but I am prepared to ascertain the views of the returned soldiers’ organizations on the subject. They are greatly concerned about the Dubois case, and they ask that the widow be granted a pension. AllI ask is that the Minister shall examine these cases, and see that justice is meted out to the widow of a returned soldier who for years received a pension as an accepted war service case. She is justly entitled to a pension in her turn. If the Minister does not agree, the Government must come in for some criticism.
– I am prepared to investigate any case the honorable senator brings to me at any time, and he knows it.
– But the Minister stated that he would not instruct his officers to discontinue the method used in the case I have mentioned, a method which I regard as equivalent to the third degree. It is not palatable to me, and I do not think it appeals to any “ digger “ in the chamber.
Clause agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; re port adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives, with a message intimating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate in this bill.
– I move -
That thebill be now read a second time.
Under the Apple and Pear Organization Act, which has been passed by both Houses of this Parliament, provision is made for the establishment of an apple and pear export fund, into which shall be paid all moneys collected under the Apple and Pear Export Charges Act 1938. The Apple and Pear Organization Act indicates the purposes for which the fund is to be used. The bill now before the House provides for the levying of charges on all apples and pears exported from Australia in order to provide the necessary fund. This follows the usual procedure in regard to all statutory boards established for the purpose of controlling the exports of primary products and looking after the welfare ofthe respective industries. The maximum rate of levy is fixed in the bill at¾d. a case. This rate was agreed to at a conference of apple and pear growers’ organizations held at Canberra, and sets the limit of the charge which may he made. The actual rate of charge, which must not exceed¾d. a case, will be determined by the board and recommended to the Minister, who will then arrange for the necessary rate to be prescribed. With regard to the provision in clause 5 of the bill, for exemption of apples and pears from charges imposed by the act, it is notintended that any wide or general exemptions shall be granted. It may happen, however, from time to time that a small experimental shipment of fruit is being forwarded overseas, or that some other special circumstance may arise in regard to a small shipment, in which case it is desirable that the power to exempt such shipment from the charges should be available. This is the only reason for the inclusion of this clause, which appears in all other Export Charges Acts for the purposes mentioned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Charges on the export of apples and pears).
– I take it that there is no limit to the quantity of apples and pears that can be exported. I say that because I fear lest, owing to the increased price of bread, there will be greater quantities of apples and pears available for export. The members of the working class, and all those on pensions and fixed allowances, will be unable to buy as many as they could prior to the introduction of the tax on food, known as the flour tax, which has increased the price of bread.
– Thereis no limit to the quantity to be exported, except the quantity grown.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 5 and 6 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD (Western
Australia - Assistant Minister) [2.31 a.m.]. - I move -
Thatthe bill be now read a second time.
This bill, which is an amendment of the Primary Produce Export Charges Act 1935, merely provides for the abolition of the existing charge on the export of apples and pears from Australia to take effect from the date on which the charge under the Apple and Pear Export Charges Bill comes into operation. The present charge is collected to provide the funds of the Australian Apple and Pear Council, but as the Apple and
Pear Board will take the place of the council there is no necessity for further collection of the charge under the Primary Produce Export Charges Act.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Allan MacDonald) read a first time.
– I move -
That (lie hill he now read a second time.
During the last two years, the Commonwealth Government has made grants to the apple and pear industry for the purpose of a publicity campaign in Australia, amounts of £5,000 and £2,000 being granted in 1937 and 1938 respectively. Experience gained in the administration of these grants has clearly indicated that there is room for a substantial expansion of the sales of apples and pears in Australia if continuous propaganda is conducted to encourage the consumption of these fruits. In Victoria in 1938, for example, it is estimated that the publicity campaign has resulted in sales being increased by approximately 300,000 cases. For several years the Apple and Pear Council, which is a body representative of all growers’ and merchants’ organizations in the industry, has urged the Commonwealth Government to impose a levy either by way of excise or by way of sales tax in order to create a fund, for publicity in Australia. It was found that the imposition of an excise’ duty was not practicable but that a sales tax could bc effectively imposed and administered by the Taxation Department. The industry prefers to provide its own publicity fund by this means rather than be obliged to come to the Government each year seeking a grant out of general revenue, lt has been pointed out by representatives of the industry that a publicity campaign must be continuous if satisfactory results are to be obtained, and that a proper programme cannot be laid down while there is uncertainty each year as to the amount of money, if any, which the Commonwealth Government is willing and able to grant. Dependence on export markets alone is not enough. First, there is a definite limit to the export markets available and, secondly, many countries which might otherwise bo good customers, limit the possibility of expansion by restrictive tariffs or by exclusive trade agreements. It is far better to expand the consumption of apples and pears in Australia, and to that end it is necessary to introduce and continue an advertising campaign in Australia. Losses on export markets affect adversely the total returns for fruit, whereas expansion of sales in the home market is of benefit to the industry as a whole. This bill provides for the establishment of an Apple and Pear Publicity and Research Fund. The fund will bo derived from collections of sales tax on sales of apples and pears in Australia. Bills to provide for the imposition of this tax and its collection in Australia will be introduced later. The fund will be under the control of the Apple and Pear Board, which was constituted under the Apple and Pear Organization Act recently passed by Parliament. It can be used only for the purposes set out in clause 5, namely, for publicity and research in Australia. The consumer will not be affected by this tax, which will be at fd. a bushel case, or such lower rate as may be prescribed. It, is anticipated that the rate will be -Jd. a bushel case, or ‘perhaps less. I am sure that honorable senators will commend this industry for its offer to provide its own publicity fund by a levy which will not affect the consumer and which will obviate any further requests to the Government for grants out of Commonwealth revenue. Honorable senators should bear in mind that this is not an export levy, that it is to be collected on sales of apples and pears in Australia, that it will all be expended for the benefit of the industry, and that it has been asked for by the industry itself.
. -I am beginning to feel illtempered. It would be possible for me to raise an argument on even this bill at this hour of the morning. The Leader of the Government (Senator McLeay) should recognize, that honorable senators have been very patient to-day. Nearly all of us began the day’s sittings after a long train journey, and it is now almost 3 a.m.
– We shall be only another five minutes.
– We were told that three-quarters of an hour ago. I think the Leader of the Government should treat honorable senators with more consideration.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Under the Financial Relief Acts 1936 provision was made for payment of a subsidy on artificial fertilizers used during the year ended the 30th June, 1937. Claims for payment of the subsidy had to be lodged by the prescribed date, which was subsequently made the 30th April, 1938. It was thought at the time that if any applications for subsidy were received after the prescribed date, and they were accompanied by satisfactory explanations for the delays, a further date could be prescribed to permit of such applications being accepted, but advice has been received to the effect that, once a date is prescribed, no later date could be subsequently prescribed.
A small number of applications has been received, and satisfactory explanations have been submitted’ for the delay beyond the prescribed date. The amount involved will not exceed £722. In order to permit of payment being made to these applicants, it is necessary for a small amendment to be made in the act to permit of the Minister determining a later closing date where any exceptional circumstances are brought under notice as having caused delay in the submission of applications.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Payments to primary producers in territories).
– This clause has relation to the payment of the fertilizer subsidy to primary producers in Commonwealth territories who were late in making their applications. I ask for an assurance that similar consideration will be shown to primary producers in the various States who were also late in making their applications.
– Clause 2 of the bill relates to primary producers in the States. I assure the honorable senator that primary producers in the States and also those in the territories will receive equal consideration.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Mr. President-
Motion (by Senator Foll) put -
That the question be now put.
The Senate divided. (President - Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes.)
Majority . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question put -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
The Senate divided. (President - Senator the Hon. j. B. Hayes.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
New Guinea Act - Ordinances of 1938 -
No. 10 - Public Service (No. 2).
No. 1 1- Appropriation (No. 3) 1937-1938.
No. 12 - District Courts.
No. 13 - Explosives.
No. 14 - Education.
No. 15 - Electric Light and Power.
No. 16 - Companies.
No. 17 - Gold Buyers.
No, 18 - Immigration.
No. 19 - Commerce (Trade Descriptions).
No. 20 - Medical.
No. 21 - Legal Practitioners.
No. 22. - Maintenance Orders (Facilities for Enforcement).
No. 23 - Administrator’s Powers.
No. 24 - Succession Duties.
No. 25 - Native Administration.
No.26- Motor Traffic.
No. 27- Sheriff.
No. 28 - Supreme Court Assessors.
No. 29 - Quarantine.
No. 30 - Petroleum Storage.
No. 31- -Public Health.
No. 32 - Prisons.
No. 33 - Natives Taxes.
No. 34 - Superannuation (No. 2).
No. 35 - Currency Coinage and Tokens.
No.36 - Customs.
No. 37 - Liquor.
No. 38 - Police Offences.
No. 39- Wills.
No. 40 - Roads Maintenance.
No. 41 - Stamp Duties.
No. 42- Appropriation 1938-1939.
No. 44 - Salamaua to Wau Road Loan.
No. 45 - Customs Tariff.
No.46 - Aerial Tramways.
No. 47 - Native Labour (No. 2).
No. 48 - Fisheries.
No. 49 - Lands Registration.
No. 50 - Miners’ Homestead Leases.
No. 51 - Uncontrolled Areas.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determination by the Arbitrator, &c. - No. 29 of 1938 -Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
Papua Act - Ordinance No. 14 of 1938 - Quarantine.
Senate adjourned at 2.59 a.m. (Wednesday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 December 1938, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1938/19381206_senate_15_158/>.