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 Minister for Commerce what are the intentions of the Government with regard to proposals for a stabilized price for wheat, and the requests received from numerous mass meetings of wheat growers for a home-consumption price of is. a bushel for’ the whole of -next season’s harvest?
– The Prime Minister has announced his intention’ to arrange for a special meeting of Premiers of the various States to deal with the important matter mentioned by the honorable senator. Prior, to the Premiers’ conference arrangements will be made for technical experts to consider the problem and advise the Premiers. I’ hope later to be able to furnish the honorable gentleman with more information.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Senate been directed to a report in to-day’s newspapers that the Government has been approached with a request to encourage the establishment in Australia of the rayon industry? In view of the possibility of injury being done to the wool industry, which is of great national value, will the Government take every precaution to protect it?
– I have read the report. The Government will take every precaution to protect the interests of the wool industry.
– I ask the
Minister for the Interior: (1) “What progress has been made in connexion with, the survey of the ironpredeposits at Yampi Sound and the area adjacent to Iron Knob in South Australia? (2) What amount of compensation will be paid to the company that was developing Yampi Sound when the embargo was imposed on the export of iron ore?
SenatorFOLL. - Every known deposit of iron ore believed by the officers of the geological surveys of the various States to be- of economic importance under existing conditions has been examined by the Commonwealth Geological Adviser in company with the Government Geologist of the State concerned. The deposits in New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria cannot be regarded as potential sources of supply for large-scale industry and in most cases are negligible. The investigations in Tasmania are not encouraging, but in view of the scarcity of deposits in the Eastern States, it has been considered advisable to proceed with further preliminary surveys which are now in progress.’ In South Australia the high grade and large extent of the ore deposits of the Iron Knob group has been established. The geological survey of this- State is conducting a detailed investigation which should be completed in the near future.- In Western Australia, the deposit at Koolan Island, Yampi Sound, is being exhaustively investigated by means of tunnelling operations, as a result of which it is expected that an estimate of the reserve available will be prepared at an early date. The Commonwealth Geological Adviser is at present proceeding to Yampi Sound for the purpose of inspecting and reporting upon the works in progress. Another deposit in Western Australia has been investigated by the State geological survey and consideration is being given to the survey of other deposits.
– In view of the fact that the lamb export industry has reached- the export quota fixed by the United Kingdom, will the Minister for Commerce state what action the Government proposes to take to ensure an outlet for the coming season’s lambs?
– This matter is receiving the serious consideration of the Government. If the honorable senator will place his question on the notice-paper I shall furnish him with a full reply to it.
– Is it the intention of the Minister representing the Minister- for External Affairs to make a statement to the Senate upon international affairs identical with, or similar to, that made recently in the House of Representatives by Sir Henry Gullett?
– The Prime Minister has announced the policy of the Government in this connexion, but if any honorable senators are anxious that- a debate on foreign affairs should take place in this chamber, I shall be pleased to give consideration to their request.
– Does the Minister’s answer imply that the Senate is merely a collection of “ Yes “ men to the Government of the day?
– No. If honorable senators are anxious to have a debate on foreign affairs, I shall provide an opportunity to do so.
– It is a ease not of our being anxious to engage in a debate, but of what the Senate is entitled to.
– The policy of the Government as announced by the Prime Minister is known throughout Australia. However, honorable senators will be given the opportunity to discuss international affairs, if they so desire.
– Seeing that public and private employing authorities are unable to provide full time employment at award rates for thousands of able-bodied workers throughout the Commonwealth, will the Government take appropriate action to deal with this state of affairs and, if so, when?
– I can assure the honorable senator that this Government, in conjunction with the State governments, will do all in its power to’ assist the unemployed.
– Has the attention of the Minister for the Interior been directed to a book regarding Australia by Busoni which has recently been published? If so, is it proposed to correct any of the inaccuracies contained in it?
– I have seen a. report on the book referred to. I do not think that it would be possible to correct the inaccuracies in it other than by rewriting the book.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
In the event of the National Insurance Scheme being postponed indefinitely, will the
Government reimburse the Approved Societies for expenditure incurred in furtherance of the scheme?
– A statement in relation to this matter will be made on behalf of the Government at a very early date.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
What is the total cost of the conversion loans arranged by the High Commissioner, Mr. Bruce ?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following information in reply to the honorable senator’s question -
The expenses in connexion with the seriesof conversion loans arranged through the High Commissioner between October, 1932, and June, 1036, amounted to £2,738,000 sterling. The loans converted aggregated £108,000,000 and the annual saving of interest was approximately £3,300,000 sterling.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
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 object of the bill is to apply to visiting forces of the United Kingdom and its colonies and of Canada and South Africa, when in Australian territory with the consent of the Commonwealth Government, their own disciplinary code. The Army Act contains certain provisions which, in effect, apply to the forces of a particular dominion, whenever located within the King’s dominions, its own disciplinary code. It was by virtue of that provision that the Australian Imperial Force was governed by its own laws when in the United Kingdom during the Great War. The legal position under the Statute of “Westminster has, however, been altered with the result that the Army and Air Force (Annual) Act - the act which keeps in force from year to year the main Army Act - does not apply to the dominions to which the statute applies, namely, to-Canada, South Africa ana Eire. Special provisions have been inserted in the Army Act with respect to dominions to which the Statute of Westminster does not apply, and the disciplinary code of such dominions continues to have effect in respect of their forces when abroad. These provisions do not, however, complete the legal machinery for the government of dominion forces when acting in co-operation. It is considered desirable, therefore, that legislation should be enacted to place all the armed forces of the United Kingdom, as well as those of the several dominions, on precisely the same footing. The United Kingdom, Canada . and South Africa have already passed appropriate acta relating to visiting forces, and similar action by the -Commonwealth is now awaited in order that a satisfactory basis may be established for disciplining forces visiting Australia. In the absence of this legislation Australian forces visiting the United Kingdom, Canada and South Africa would, by virtue of the acts passed by those countries relating to visiting forces, continue to be governed by the military law of the Commonwealth in the matter of discipline and internal administration. On the other hand, visiting forces from those countries would not, when in the Commonwealth, come under their own law, or be able to use Commonwealth machinery respecting their relations with the civil power and civilians. Legal difficulties would also arise when forces of the dominions were acting together in such matters as the attachment of personnel, power of command and the like. Appreciating the necessity for this complementary legislation, the Conference on the Operation of Dominion Legislation, which was held in London in 1929, made the following recommendation in paragraph 44 of its report: -
In connexion with the exercise of the extraterritorial legislative powers, we consider that provision should be made for the customary extra-territorial immunities with regard to internal discipline enjoyed by the armed Forces of one government when present in the territory of another government with the consent of the latter. Such an arrangement would be of mutual advantage and common convenience to all parts nf the Commonwealth, and we recommend that provision should be made by each member of the Commonwealth to give effect to such customary extra-territorial immunities within its territory as regards other members of the Commonwealth.
The Imperial Conference of 1930 also considered the matter, and the following is an extract from the summary of proceedings : -
It is assumed that all governments (that is to say, all the governments of the dominions forming the British Commonwealth) will desire to take such action as may be necessary to secure (1) that the military discipline of any of the armed forces of the Commonwealth when present, by consent, within territory of another, rests upon a. statutory basis, and (2) that there shall be no period of time during which the legal basis of military discipline could on any ground be impeached.
It will be appreciated, therefore, that the matter to which these conferences have directed attention is one of extreme importance, and the Commonwealth should not delay further in passing the legislation necessary to carry out the proposals for the Government of armed forces of the Crown which may happen to be in the Commonwealth. Briefly, the bill will bring Australia into line with the United Kingdom, Canada and South Africa in the matter of the control of any of their forces which may, with the consent of the Commonwealth Government, be within Australian territory. It will also enable the Governor-General to authorize any department of the Commonwealth or of a State to perform its normal functions in relation to such visiting forces. The Australian Naval Board, the Military Board and the Air Board, are deemed to he departments of the Commonwealth for the purposes of this act. The measure will also give legal authority for the detention and custody of prisoners sentenced by a service court of a visiting, force, and power to deal with offences against visiting forces. The bill limits the penalty for any such offence to the penalty which may be imposed under Commonwealth law in respect of a similar offence. The bill will also enable action to be taken against deserters from forces raised in other parts of the British dominions. As honorable senators are no doubt aware, co-operation between the various defence forces of His Majesty involving the interchange of officers and men has existed for many years. It is highly desirable that such officers and men should be able to carry on their duties as if they -were members of the forces to which they are actually attached. If this measure be agreed to, officers on exchange from Great Britain to Australia, or on exchange from Australia to Great Britain, will retain their status and rights.
With the increase of personnel, not only in Australia, but also in Great Britain, and the fact that the Government believes in an interchange of officers between these two countries, India and the dominions, it is essential that we should have a measure such as this to enable us to deal with those on exchange duty. The bill will legalize and make possible a single command, subject to the consent of the “ Government of the dominion whose forces are concerned. Another important matter ‘ dealt with in the bill is the application of the provisions of the act to forces raised in mandated territories, and in colonies and dependencies of the British Empire.
Honorable senators will see that the bill relates principally to visiting forces when within Australia. The necessity for the measure is to overcome certain legal difficulties which have already arisen, and might arise in the future, in connexion with visiting officers and men, when in the Commonwealth, attached to other branches of the Imperial Forces. While here they will be under the laws of their own country, and subject to the discipline of their own officers; but any sentence imposed for breach of discipline will be carried out under the jurisdiction of the appropriate arm of the Australian Defence Forces.
Debate (on motion by Senator Collings) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and . Sessional Orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator Foll.) proposed -
That the bill be now read a first time.
– I am not sure whether in speaking as I shall do on this motion at this stage I am doing an act of kindness to the Govern ment or not. If it be interpreted as an act of kindness, I apologize. It is not so intended. It would suit the Government if this motion were passed without discussion, because on the motion for the first reading of a measure of this kind, honorable senators are entitled to express themselves on any subject as they feel inclined. In one sense it would also suit honorable senators on this side of the chamber if there were no discussion, because one of the things that I propose to enlarge upon is the utter incapacity of the Government, as at present constituted, to carry on the orderly Government of this nation, and the Government would probably be exposed more effectively if we maintained an eloquent silence until it brought forward business worthy of our discussion. The Government is entirely to blame for the fact that this is not being done. The Senate is kept in recess, in season . and out of season, so that when honorable senators return to Canberra they are invariably filled with proper indignation because they are not given- an opportunity to do their work efficiently and earn the salaries paid to them by the taxpayers of this country. ‘
An elaborate statement was made recently by the new Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in the House of Representatives regarding the allocation of portfolios in the new Ministry and the departments to be represented by members of the Government in this chamber. An opportunity to discuss the composition of the new Government and the qualifications of its members was not given to the members of the other House because, as everybody well remembers, a sad and solemn ceremonial” had to be observed in connexion with the death of the previous Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and of other valued members and exmembers of the national Parliament. But the Government cannot get away with what it is trying to do without members of the Opposition voicing their disapproval and criticism. An example of the result of the Government’s incapacity was provided by the flood of questions of which notice was given this afternoon by honorable senators’ on this side of the chamber. Those questions would not have been submitted had honorable senators been informed of what the national Government is doing and proposes to do by. disclosures made in the Senate by responsible Ministers. As things are, their information is practically limited to statements published in irresponsible organs of the public press, most of which are in the pay of the Government through the big interests supporting it. The fact that it is possible to carry on the work of the Senate by orderly processes reflects a great deal of credit on honorable senators on this side of the chamber. If it were not for their tolerance and their belief that they owe something to the British institution of a free parliament, to which representatives are sent upon the votes of a free people, this place would become a bear garden. We wish to avoid that kind of thing. This Government is not new, and the Prime Minister is not a new minister. A few hours ago, he was apologizing to the people of Queensland for the sins of omission of the Government and was pleading with them, with all the eloquence of which he is such a supreme master - he has the capacity to say a lot and convey nothing - for their cooperation and tolerance because he alleged that he was a new leader. He has been a responsible member of the government of this Commonwealth for years past; he is certainly new to the office of Prime. Minister, but his policy is the same old policy; the Government is the same old Government; he is the same old Menzies; and the treatment that his’ Government is meting out is the same old treatment that the people represented by honorable senators comprising the opposition in this chamber have always been accustomed to expect from an ti-Labour governments.
– “There are just a few more rich men in the Cabinet.
– I do not know that it even amounts to that. The Government cannot even arrange its work and allocate the duties of honorable senators representing ministers in the House of Representatives without getting into a hopeless mess. I take as an example the case of our esteemed friend, the’ honorable the Leader of the Govern1 ment in the Senate (Senator McLeay). I am sorry he is not present at the moment, because I propose to say something nice about him. He represents the Prime Minister - that in itself will be a full time job unless that right honorable gentleman is very careful - the Attorney-General and Minister for Industry, the Treasurer, the Minister for Supply and Development, and the Minister for External Affairs.
– “ Poobah “.
– It a most amounts to that. These duties constitute a full-time job, and as the honorable gentleman has not yet had extensive Parliamentary experience, I suggest, to put it charitably, that the Government has overloaded him. However, honorable senators of the Opposition will assist to make his job as active as possible by asking pertinent questions regarding the departments that he represents. Some other ministers in this chamber have been let down much more lightly. Senator Foll, for instance, represents only the departments of Trade and Commerce and Defence. If he does these jobs thoroughly - and I am sure he will try to do them thoroughly - he will earn every penny of his salary. I find that our recently acquired Minister, if not new friend, in this chamber, Senator McBride, has been entrusted with the representation of the Postmaster-General here. What a good time he will have with me! The honorable senator is also to represent the Minister for Social .Services and the Minister for Civil Aviation. His job in connexion with Social Services will ‘be an easy one, because the Government is not interested in that subject ; but with regard to Civil Aviation, all I can say is that I regret that he has to carry the sins of Mr. Thorby, who was so “ loved “ because of his incapable administration of his department. And then, we come to Senator Collett, who is to deal with Repatriation and matters appertaining to External Territories in this chamber. Just now I looked across the chamber and saw our genial friend Senator MacDonald from Western Australia over in the cold shades of -inactivity. I suppose that is because he was more complacent than the rest, and more gentlemanly in pushing his claims. To (five an example of the hotchpotch in’ which this ‘announcement has re1 suited, I find that the Minister of State for Commerce (Senator McLeay) is in this chamber, as is also the Assistant Minister for Commerce (Senator McBride). Having both the Minister and his assistant in this chamber, Sir Frederick Stewart had to be dragged in in another place so that he could be interrogated about the activities of two gentlemen who are functioning in this chamber.
But that is all by way of a pipe opener regarding the impossible position into which this national Parliament has got because of the fact that now, as during the last eight years, we have a makeshift Government which cannot function adequately in the interests of the people of this country. I see my friends opposite smiling with incredulity. They are obviously thinking that the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber does not know what he is talking about, but they willdiscover otherwise as I proceed. As evidence of the utter incapacity of the Government, we have no business now to go on with in this chamber. It is true that the second-reading speech on the Defence (Visiting Forces) Bill has ‘been delivered this afternoon, but that bill does not contain anything at all worth talking about. Now we have the first reading of the Customs Tariff. We know what that bill contains even if we have not seen it. We know the policy of this Government, which is the heir, successor and assign of all the sins of omission and commission of the Government which preceded it, which has been re-formed but not reformed. If honorable senators on this side of the chamber did not discuss the first reading of this bill, the Senate would have to adjourn now and expose to Australia the fact that honorable senators are drawing their money under false pretences, because the present Government is so inept that it cannot put business before the people’s representatives to keep them occupied.
– It is a joke !
– It has gone beyond a joke; it is a tragedy. I rose in my place and asked this afternoon whether honorable senators would be givenan opportunity to debate the position of international affairs. Although that subject was debated in another place, apparently we are not supposed to be interested in it. The Government appears to believe that our job is merely to sit here and say “Yes” to what the fellows in another place say. The Government may have been able to get away with that sort of thing at other times, but now there are sixteen members of the Labour party in this chamber and it will not get away with it; we will not permit it to do so.
I come back to Mr. Menzies for a moment. I am specially interested in the right honorable gentleman because he recently held forth during a by-election campaign in the State which I represent. I do not deny him the right to do so. I did so also, as I had a perfect right to do. But Mr. Menzies’ election speech was broadcast over the national network, while the Leader of the great Australian Labour party, who also made an election speech in the same town last night, was denied that facility. Had he desired his speech to be broadcast he would have had to pay for it out of his own pocket. Is it a fair proposition that at the behest of Mr. Menzies and his Government a Government instrumentality should give special privileges to the leader of one party and deny them to another?
– British fair play!
– -Unfortunately if we attack the Government’s conception of British fair play we shall bring down on our heads the wrath of Mr. Menzies who will say that we are not loyal. Although the right honorable gentleman has been Prime Minister of this country for some time he has as yet done nothing but talk. Doubtless I shall be told that that is all I ever do. It may be true in my case, but although it is unavoidably and excusably true of myself, it is neither unavoidably nor excusably true of one who controls the Government of this country. Mr. Menzies’s job is not to go around merely talking, but rather to set to and give the people some reasonable reason for accepting him as leader.
– He is doing a good job ; that is what is upsetting the honorable senator.
– The interjection does more credit to the Minister’s loyalty than to his commonsense. I do not misjudge the honorable senator, who undoubtedly feels impelled to stick to his leader, knowing how easily he might be told to join his colleague Senator MacDonald if he does not behave himself and be sent out on ‘planes and motor cars in northern Queensland to 3ee what the waterside workers are doing. I feel sure that Senator Foll ‘would not like that.
I desire now to comment on one or two things that Mr. Menzies has said recently. Speaking to a little select coterie of leaders of industry the right honorable gentleman said -
Half-a-dozen eminent men sitting close together and exchanging ideas would show that the difficulties were not so great after all, and it would not matter then who was Prime Minister. He would merely be a conductor.
If there is one thing I am proud of as Leader of the Opposition it is that all members of the Opposition stand together as one in their admiration for British parliamentary methods. Not many days ago I was talking to a young doctor, a refugee recently admitted into the Commonwealth, a scholarly and cultured gentleman of a very fine type. Among other things he said was this : “ Senator, you do not know what it means to be in a land where the people can laugh. In the country which I have just come from the people do not laugh any more.” I 3ay to the Prime Minister that the only reason why people in this country laugh and people in some other countries are incapable of laughing is because in this country w.e are living under free institutions inspired by British constitutional ideals. However much they may occasionally be departed from, the fact remains that, in a world of tumbling dynasties, our British methods stand out like a rock in a sea of hopeless misery and confusion. But Mr. Menzies is a Fascist at heart. He is a born and natural dictator, and he knows it, and those who sit with him in the Government, and who sit under him in the House of Representatives, know it also. He admits it in this statement. He says that if we could get six men together of the right kind, they would be able to do this job - this job that takes a national parliament of more than 100 members to do efficiently, this job to which we are commissioned by the people when they exercise the franchise at the poll. This man, Mr. Menzies, who for years has had a seat on the inner cabinet which has decided the policy of the Government, says that the whole business of government could, with advantage, be handed over to half a dozen men whom he would select. There would be no need for a prime minister he says ; it would be only necessary to have a conductor. The Opposition will have none of it. Six men can constitute a dictatorship, just as well as one can. It is only a matter of degree. If six are acceptable to-day, five will be enough to-morrow, and four next week, until eventually there remains only one. The Prime Minister went on to say that he did not believe that he was the leader of a party; he believed that he was for better or worse the leader of the Australian people.
– Hear, hear!
– Let me say with respect that I do not think that Mr. Menzies does believe that. If he does believe it, however, he is less competent than I have ever given him credit for being. He is not the leader of the people of Australia; he is the leader of a party, and he never can be anything else, until we have a dictatorship, and that the people of this country will fight to the last ditch politically, and physically if necessary. Mr. Menzies is the leader of a party, and he is kept in power by the lavish distribution of money made available to party funds by the great financial institutions of this country. Half a dozen men in the city of Melbourne make and unmake governments. They make and unmake parties, and they make and unmake leaders. Yet this mau seems to think that the Australian people are such imbeciles as to believe him when he says that he is not the leader of a party, but the leader of the nation. He is not even the leader of the Opposition yet. He knows, as I know, that he must throw dust in the eyes of the electors, because the writing is on the wall and his party must avoid a general election. He knows what would happen if there were an appeal to the people to-morrow. He knows that, after that appeal, he would not even be in the Government. He would be the leader of a party, and that party would be in a minority, and in opposition.
– The honorable senator has been saying that for seven years.
– Yes, and the number of our supporters in this chamber has been increasing steadily over those seven years. When I caine into this chamber in 1932, there were ten men in Opposition. In 1934 the number was reduced to three. Ten did not look so bad, but when there were only three it was something awful. Now, however, there are sixteen of us. An increase from ten to sixteen is fairly good, and it will not be difficult for us to increase the number to 22 the next time we ask. Then we shall see these gentlemen, who lead the Australian nation, and are not merely leaders of a party, sitting over on this side of the chamber where they will be doing their job just as inefficiently no doubt as they are now doing it over there.
This is a serious matter. Mr. Menzies, or at any rate the party which he now leads, has had absolute control of this country for the last seven years. As a matter of fact, it has had absolute control of the country ever since 1914 except for a brief interval and even then they had their majority in the Senate. Mr, Menzies said in a speech in Sydney last night that his Government was in constant communication with the British Government, that it had its envoys and representatives in every important country in the world, and that it was kept posted on everything that happened almost as soon as it happened. Yet, notwithstanding all this, he and his Government have left Australia naked and unprotected to the world. He told the people of Brisbane that defence was the main consideration, and that it was necessary to have a stable government, a government that was sound on the matter of defence. All that meant by implication that unless we had the Menzies Government we should have neither a stable government nor one that is sound on defence. It also meant pf course that the people should not trust the Labour party. The fact is that every phase of defence has been neglected, notwithstanding all the warnings the Government received, and all the facilities at its disposal for informing its mind. We had a militia of 35,000. Then the Go vernment decided to increase the number to 70,000. It got the men; as a matter of fact, it got over 100,000, so that the Department of Defence was overjoyed. It was able to pick and choose. There are 3,000 men now encamped at Enoggera, in Queensland, which is one of the coldest spots in that State, and those men have no uniforms. They lack sufficient clothing. They, must go cold to-night , because the Government is not ready. The Government has got the men, but it has neither the equipment nor the instructors with which to train them, despite the fact that for years the Government has been “watching the position very closely”. In September last, the Government had us afraid to breathe. We were terrified. We believed that the stroke was about to fall resulting in another world war. What did the then Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) do? He said to the House of Representatives: “It is no good trying to do anything in Parliament just now. I ask you to ad1 j ou 1’11 now and meet again at 11 o’clock’ to-night, when I shall tell you what is going on.” He met the House of Repre-‘ sentatives at 11 o’clock and, although wo expected an important disclosure, all we heard was a rehash of all the news, hysterical, unreliable and irresponsible, that had been dished out by the press of this country in previous weeks. We heard it in this chamber the following day and practically it is al] we are getting at the present time. But when Mr. Menzies went to Queensland he found that he had a different psychology to deal with. On Friday, the 12th May last, a leading Tory’ newspaper published in the afternoon, the Telegraph, in order that Mr. Menzies could not say that he had not been fore-, warned before he addressed a public meet-‘ ing, had this ready for him to read : - ~So doubt Air. Menzies will be astonished to, find that the question of defence has become’ am important issue in the Griffith by-election.
It became important because I and others have been telling the truth about the defence of this country. The Minister representing the - Minister for- Defenceknows even better than I do, because he. is more in the confidence of the Government, that no matter whether it- be on the ground, in the air, or on the sea, there is no effective, protection anywhere despite the fact that the Government has. had all of these years to provide it. It Ls useless to try to bolster the belief any longer tb at we are prepared. The Labour party says definitely and in detail that we shall defend this part of the Empire. That is not only our maximum responsibility, but also is as much as the Government of the United Kingdom has ever asked for or wants. This man goes around the country saying : “ This is a new Government. Please give the new leader a chance.” The Telegraph went on -
Incredible though it may seem, it is nevertheless true that some people really believe that the result of that election will affect the defence policy. It will, of course, do. nothing of tlie kind. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister may well take some warning from this strange manifestation.
That is exactly what Mr. Menzies said the by-election would do. Mr. Menzies claimed, “Return an opponent of the Government and it means that you are not in sympathy with the defence of this country; return a, supporter of this Government and you are: It will be a mandate’ to carry on the good work.” Does he want any more mandate than the need of this country? Does he not know that we have only three months’ supply of petrol inside the borders of the Commonwealth? Does he not know that for years and years we have been getting our fuel requirements from overseas? Does he not also know that the Government of the United Kingdom has told him and the Government that it will no longer be able to guarantee protection to our trade routes ? What has he done? Ever since 1932 I with others in this chamber have been pleading with the Government to get to work on the production of fuel from our coal, shale and agricultural products. We are doing a reasonably decent job in northern Queensland in the production of motor spirit from sugar waste, but we get not the slightest encouragement from the Commonwealth Government. Has anything been ‘done to develop our wonderful reserves of shale?
– Yes, but not with the honorable senator’s assistance.
– I shall tell the honorable senator all about his assistance later.
– The Labour party in both chambers fought every stage of the bill which was designed to assist in the development of the Newnes shale field.
– I advise the honorable senator to keep calm and to remember that he is easy meat. Let him not imagine that he is tough. I know the history of what was done in this chamber and I shall give it to him. We have in this Commonwealth richer shale deposits than anywhere else in the world, coal deposits equal to .the best on God’s earth. Beyond a mere barrel or two at Newnes, the Government has not produced one gallon of fuel that could be used in a state of national emergency. If a state of national emergency arises and continues for six months- I leave the picture to the Senate. You cannot move’ a mechanised army without oil. The Telegraph proceeded -
If he could be induced to look at the defence problem as it affects Queensland, or better still, as it affects Australia, rather than merely through the eyes of Melbourne and Sydney, he must surely see that a grievous wrong needs to be righted.
But he does not see it. About £136,000 has already been allocated for expenditure in Queensland on defence works, but that has not been expended yet. I suppose that more will be allocated as days go on. Mr. Menzies said this the other night, “Who is it that says that Japan is our enemy? Who is it that says that it is from the north that we have to expect disaster?” Well, who is it? In this chamber for the last six years I have been told, “We must get ready. Our potential enemy will come from the East “ - that is from our north. The north, a great part of which is in Queensland, is the most vulnerable part of the Australian continent. But nothing has been done to protect it. I am sorry that Senator Poll is not listening, because he knows as well as I that there is not one aerodrome in Australia from which, after a week’s rain, a bombing plane with a full load could take off. The Government has known about the trouble, but has done nothing. Why? Because this Government, this legacy from 1914, is incapable of getting down to work around the cabinet table and evolving a planned economy. Shortly,
I believe, we are to Lave an all-in register. Mr. Menzies bad something to say about thai. If it were an all-in register, Mr. President, I might just slip over this part and make no allusion to it, but it is nothing of the kind. Notice of questions about finance was given here to day. This Government has never said a word as to how it proposes to finance defence. On Sunday night in Sydney, Mr. Menzies said, “ You may expect higher taxation because it looks as though that will be inevitable “. That comes from the head of a government which has made millions of pounds available annually to its wealthy friends by the reduction of the land tax and the abolition of the super tax.
– How many millions?
– So many that the land tax produces only half the amount it produced when the Labour party introduced it. Senator Dein’s interjections deprive me of time, but I am reminded that I promised to tell him what we did in this chamber about the Newnes oil bill. I tell, not only him, but also the nation, that the Government never made a move in that matter until we had flogged it for years. Then what did it do? It joined with the Government of New South Wales in putting £500,000 into the hands of a company promoted by a gelatine manufacturer named Davis.
– What is wrong with Davis?
– We said it was the Government’s responsibility to do the job and that we objected to private industry being given the rake-off. Senator Dein and the honorable member for Macquarie (John Lawson), who is now a Minister, said, “ We must stick to fellow worker Davis and tell the electors of Macquarie what a lot of wasters the Labour people are “. The honorable member for Macquarie, in whose electorate the Newnes shale field is, went on to do that and won the seat. He will have a hard job to hold it and a far harder job to hold his ministerial appointment. He will go down with the ship when the Menzies Government founders, as it will founder. I desire these matters to be taken seriously. Australia has no oil supplies of its own, and we are not taking adequate steps to develop them. We have no motor cars that are produced entirely in this country. Although the Government has in hand over £1,000,000 which it has extracted from the pockets of the people to encourage the building of complete motor cars in Australia, not one such vehicle has yet been produced wholly in this country.
– A Bren gun may be made in Australia by 1941.
– I am doubtful even of that. I have said that this hotchpotch Government is incapable of producing a sound plan with regard to any subject, particularly defence. For years the Opposition party has been urging the Government to proceed with the standardization of railways gauges. The late Prime Minister promised this but nothing has. been done. This is not a new Government; it is the same old muddling ministry that has never completed a task well.
What an inglorious job this Government made of national insurance! What a striking testimony the circumstances in that regard bear to the capacity of the Opposition ! I shall remind honorable senators of what happened in the House of Representatives. The bill Providing for national insurance was introduced by the former Treasurer (Mr. Casey), who has received a rap on the knuckles. Although he is one of the hardest working and most capable Ministers this Government has ever had, he is no longer Treasurer. The bill was a complicated one, but a better second-reading speech than that of Mr. Casey has probably never been made in that chamber. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) moved that “the bill be withdrawn and redrafted with a view to the removal of some of the defects to which I have referred, and the inclusion of certain features which had been omitted.” At that proposal Mr. Casey laughed, and the Government scoffed. The bill was not withdrawn, nor was it redrafted. Sir Walter Kinnear went back to the Old Country satisfied that his job had been done, and the other expert from Great Britain, whom we did not need, also returned. The act is now where it need not have been, had the advice of the Opposition been taken.
We hear a great, deal these days about refugees. Although I have the greatest sympathy with men and women Who have been persecuted through detestable forms of government in other countries, my parliamentary salary is paid by Australians to enable me to do a job in this chamber for Australians. Therefore, I must not allow my sympathy with foreign refugees to make me overlook the fact that my first duty is to Australians. I hope that I shall not be accused of unkindness or cruelty, but,, if I had my way, not one foreign refugee, man or woman, would be admitted until every good Australian had been taken off the dole or relief work, and given a job under award conditions, thus helping to create a national asset, so that poverty would be removed. I was impressed by a letter which I read to-day in the Sydney Morning Herald. The letter bore the signature of the writer, who said he had met a Scottish lad, aged about nineteen years,, who had been in Australia for about twelve months. The letter proceeded -
That boy - a migrant who came here under promise of better things - said that lie would not be able to draw any “ traveller’s rations on tire road.
He was tramping and “ jumping the rattler” in order to reach the cane country of Queensland where he hoped to get work.
He would ask for work in exchange for “ tucker “, and if there was no work he would have to beg. When that lad had gone, the thought came to me, “ is that lad not a refugee?” Of course he ie.
He is a good Britisher in our own country, and if he reached the cane-fields of Northern Queensland he would have tramped about 2,000 miles. If ever there was a refugee he is one; but a refugee from bad government. There is no need for poverty in this country. There would be no unemployment if Australia had a wise government capable of devising a planned economy. Then we should blazon forth to the world that Australia was in reality a land of opportunity, where no able-bodied man willing and able to work need go without a job. I am aware of the plight of the refugees, for I have met dozens of them. The helping of them could be made easy. We need millions more people in this country, and we could bring them here if we had a government capable of planning a sound policy and carrying it out stage by stage, without having to retrace any steps, until the whole scheme was complete. Then Australia would be a country worth defending, and one in which it would not be necessary to apologize for the paucity of the population, lt would be possible to bring in the best of our own kith and kin from overseas, and also people from other countries, from which some of the best settlers we have ever had came.
I was very interested and pleased this afternoon to hear the questions addressed to Ministers with regard to the wheat and wool industries. I give a guarantee to the party in power that any equitable measure that does not infringe the basic principles of the party to which I belong, and which benefits. either the wheat or the wool industry, will be supported by the Opposition up to the hilt. It pleases me to see that the great captains of primary production who sit behind the Government, who represent the great woolbroking houses and the wheat-juggling concerns, and who also admittedly, represent the producers of wheat and wool, have at last abandoned the policy of laisser-faire- - of every man for himself, and the devil take, the hindmost. It did my heart good to know that they had jettisoned the policy reflecting the sentiment, “ This business is ours, and we shall run. it as we like.” They have given up the policy which they have enunciated here year after year since I became a member of the Senate. In effect, they said “ We do not want government assistance; keep your hands off our industries. We do not require your aid; we can look after ourselves.” To-day they admit that the Labour party was right all the time. They now admit that we must have more government in business; that we cannot trust private enterprise to run a wheat farm any more than we can trust the captains of industry to run a departmental store and do justice to the producer and the consumer. It gladdens my heart, and the hearts of my colleagues, to see the citadel of private enterprise falling, to see these wonderful men who despised Labour’s policy, now joining the line for a government hand-out. They are now crying in effect “. We must have assistance, or we cannot last.” But when some one talks of establishing the rayon industry, and asks what is going to be clone about that proposition, some one else says “ Be careful how you tread that path, because the rayon industry would be a menace to the wool industry.” These critics have been silent or sarcastic; their, withers have been unwrung during the years when we on this side have been pleading on behalf of victims of evil social conditions. But at last they are obliged to come within the charmed circle and say, “ Brothers, you have been right all the time. The pincers are closing on us; will you help us to get the Government to give us a hand?”
I now wish to address an urgent appeal to the Minister representing the Treasurer in his capacity as administrator- of our pensions legislation. I ask him to listen with a ready ear and a soft heart to my representations. All of our social services, .whilst admittedly very essential under present conditions, are merely social ambulance services; they never touch the root cause of any trouble, but only alleviate - very worthily, I admit - the unfortunate victims of a bad social order. A case in Brisbane has been brought under my notice which I have endeavoured unsuccessfully to have remedied, and I mention it now on the floor of the Senate in the hope that some attention will be paid to it. It concerns the treatment of a young married man with no children, who is certified by his private doctor and the departmental doctors to be eligible for an invalid pension on account of heart trouble. The man’s private doctor says that he has only a short time to live, and that he may expire at any time because of the condition of his heart; the departmental doctors agree on tl at point. The department consequently paid him an invalid pension. As he and his wife could not live on the pension, a very kind father and mother took them in. The father is just a common toiler who receives no more than the basic wage, which in Queensland amounts to £4 12s. a week. Immediately that fact was reported to the department, the pension was 3topped because the amount coming into that particular home was in excess of the amount allowed under the regulations. On having these facts placed before me, my first impression was that I needed only to approach the Deputy Commissioner m Brisbane and explain the position to him. On taking that action, however, I found that the Deputy Commissioner was compelled under- the regulations to discontinue the payment of the pension for the reason I have stated. I then informed the Deputy Commissioner that I intended to advise the father and mother to turn the couple out on to the street, and asked him what would happen then. He replied, “ Then we shall have to pay the pension “. “ But,” I said, “ they will not turn them out; they cannot do such a thing “. I emphasize the injustice of denying a man a pension in those circumstances. -Analogous injustices could be cited in respect of every one of our social services showing that the’ most worthy in the community cannot get the assistance provided for under our legislation. I approached the parents and suggested that they might temporarily turn out this’ man and his wife on to the street in the hope that a kind neighbour might take them in. To this the old lady replied, “ Senator, we could not do that. Could you do it?” I replied that I could not. This is not an isolated case. This Government is responsible for happenings of this kind. No conditions of this character were imposed by Labour governments in providing social services. Labour never intended that a means test should be applied in connexion with old-age and invalid pensions and maternity allowances. But under the specious plea that governmental expenditure upon pensions is too heavy, this Government has failed to handle this phase of our social services as generously as it should. On this point it is appropriate to return for a moment to the matter of defence. I have no doubt that this Government will confiscate everything to secure money for that purpose. It will get its national register, and it will tick off the workers. It will know where to put its hands on every worker, and it will have all that information complete. But so far it has not. said one word to indicate that riches will be impounded, nor will one word appear on its questionnaire as to what wealth is available or bow it can be collected. This Government will conscript everything but wealth. If that were all the story the crime would not be so abominable; but under the specious plea that it does not believe in inflation, or in interfering with the orthodox method of finance, it proposes to raise loans in the ordinary way for defence purposes, so that, whilst 70,000 young volunteers in our militia forces - 3,000 of whom are shivering in camp at Enoggera to-night in danger of contracting influenza and pneumonia - are making personal sacrifices and are prepared to face great risks in defence of their country, the financial interests and the wealthy section of the community will be drawing interest on Commonwealth loans and war bonds. They will be the one section of the community that will wax fat, and prosper in the nation’s emergency, whilst those who are young enough to be brought within the folds of the Government’s net will be asked to make all the sacrifice.
I shall conclude my speech on the note which I sounded in my opening remarks. This Government is the same old Government; it is not new. It does not represent the people of Australia, but -only a section of the people, and it cannot claim to be leading this country. It is incapable of evolving a planned proposition regarding anything, whether it be war, defence, protection, social services or unemployment. It has no plan in respect of any of those problems. It merely bungles on from step to step, so that no section of the community, except the wealthy privileged few, can possibly get a square deal under it.
– I am glad that my Leader has referred to the financial aspect of the Government’s activities. Honorable senators will recall that last September I asked two straightforward questions on this point. One was as to whether, as the result of the recommendation made in paragraph 509, page 169, of the report of the Royal Commission on Banking and Monetary Systems, the Government woud ask the Commonwealth Bank to issue interestfree money to be utilized for the adequ’ate defence of Australia. Honorable senators will recollect the evasive reply which I received. The Commonwealth Bank has authority to make available money free. of interest for the adequate defence of Australia, and in the event of a difference of opinion arising between the Bank and the Government on questions of financial policy, it has ample safeguards. Paragraph 530 of the report of the Royal Commission, presided over by Mr. Justice Napier, a judge of the Supreme Court of South Australia,states, inter alia - ‘ . . The Federal Parliament is ultimately responsible for monetary policy and the government of the day is the executive of Parlia-ment. The Commonwealth Bank has certain powers delegated to it by statute, and the Board’s duty to the community is to exercise those powers to the best of its ability. Where there is a conflict between the Government’s view of what is best in the national interest and the Board’s view, the first essential is full and frank discussion between the two authorities with a view to exploring the whole problem. In most cases this should ensure agreement on a policy to be carried out by the bank which it can reconcile with its duty to the community and which has the approval of the Government. In cases in which it is clear beyond doubt that the differences are irreconcilable, the Government should give the bank an assurance that it accepts full responsibility for the proposed policy, and is in a position to take, and will take, any necessary action to implement it. lt is then the duty of the bank to accept this assurance and to carry out the policy of the Government.
That, we are entitled to assume, was the considered opinion of a judge of the Supreme Court of South Australia after an investigation covering a period of twelve months. It states beyond all doubt that all that the Prime Minister has to do, assuming that the Government is courageous enough to accept responsibility for financial policy, is to instruct the Commonwealth Bank Board to issue money as and when it is required for the service of the nation. But hitherto the Prime Minister has always declined to do so, the reason given being that the Government did not believe in political control of the Commonwealth Bank. I have shown that, in the opinion of the royal commission, the Bank has power to issue sufficient interest-free money to provide for the adequate defence of Australia. Instead of adopting this sound policy, the Government has elected to borrow money for defence purposes in the orthodox way at 3& per cent., thus placing a tremendously heavy burden in perpetuity on Commonwealth taxpayers. It is a generally accepted axiom that finance is government and government is finance. I have on other occasions emphasized the importance of realizing this fact. Why should not the findings of the royal commission be given effect?
Recently in a discussion which I had with the ex-Treasurer (Mr. Casey) with regard to legislation to amend the Commonwealth Bank Act, I represented that the bill would take the control of the bank away from the people. The proposal is to establish a mortgage branch from which advances would be obtained at a fixed rate and for a definite term. If this scheme be adopted in its present form, it will be the biggest setback the private banks have ever had in respect of a portion of their business. At present farmers, among other classes in the community, may get accommodation from trading banks on terms which may vary from day to day, and in the event of unfavorable circumstances arising, the banks often call up the advances or seize the securities. Not infrequently the rate of interest is altered to the detriment of the borrower. Therefore the service to be rendered by a mortgage branch of the Commonwealth Bank will be availed of readily enough. The only method by which private ‘banks could secure themselves against the loss which they would suffer should a mortgage branch of the Commonwealth Bank be established would be by becoming shareholders in the new branch.
– How could they become shareholders?
– By purchasing inscribed stock.
– Holders of inscribed stock are, in effect, shareholders and, as such, draw dividends. Debenture holders also enjoy valuable preferences. Under company law, if debenture holders are not satisfied with the way in which a company is being conducted, they can assume control of its affairs.
For 30 years the Commonwealth Bank has shown an annual profit of more than £1,000,000. That money rightly belongs to the people. At the end of June, 1938, the ‘bank had assets worth £19,000,000.
These assets have accrued from the bank’s normal banking activities, despite the fact that in 1924 the bank was partially strangled by legislation passed by the Bruce-Page Government. It is a common experience for people seeking financial accommodation from the Commonwealth Bank to be sent to private banks. If the Commonwealth Bank were truly run in the interests of the people, that would not occur. An attempt has been made in recent years to make the Commonwealth Bank a central bank. That, in my opinion, was never intended . by those responsible for its establishment. It was, in fact, created for the opposite purpose. It is the only ‘bank in the history of the world which was established by the people to be conducted in the interests of the people. It has served a very good purpose, despite the setback it received at the hands of the Bruce-Page Government in 1924.
– It has been expanded greatly since then.
– That is so. A statement supplied by a leading Sydney actuary discloses that a profit of 24 per cent, was shown on last year’s activities. Now it is proposed, in effect, to hand it over to the private banks. If the proposed legislation be passed this will be unavoidable. The Commonwealth Government has the power to instruct the Commonwealth Bank Board to make available as much money as is required in the interests of the nation. Compared to our national credit, the assets of private banks amount only to a. money-box full. Why does not the Government use commonsense in its financial policy? Why pay 37/8 per cent, for money and leave the vast resources of the Commonwealth Bank untouched? The only reason is that the Government is in office but not in power. The so-called sound financial policy adopted by various nations has brought the world to a state of poverty and chaos. We are heading rapidly for a war which will destroy civilization; yet the Government refuses to abandon the orthodox financial methods which have proved so futile.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
. –I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The schedule to the bill now before the Senate embraces the Customs Tariff Proposals introduced in the House of Representatives on the 7th December, 1938, and gives effect to recommendations submitted by the Tariff Board during 1938. In addition, a few items have been included for the purpose of correcting anomalies in the tariff.
In almost every case the British preferential and intermediate tariff rates are those recommended by the Tariff Board, whilst the general tariff rate is somewhat higher than the intermediate tariff. The margin between the intermediate and general tariff rates is maintained in the interests of those countries with which Australia has concluded trade agreements, and also for use in connexion with trade negotiations with other overseas countries.
A memorandum has been circulated to honorable senators in which a comparison is made between the proposed duties and the rates embodied in the 1933-1938 tariff. From this memorandum it will be seen that in some instances increases of duty are proposed, whilst in others the rates are somewhat lower than those now operating.
Generally speaking, where increased duties are proposed, they relate to goods the manufacture of which has recently been undertaken, or in relation to which local industry has expanded. In these cases the government’s policy of encouraging the extension of Australian industry is reflected. Goods coming within this category include: -
Electric clothes washing’ machines.
Weatherproof braided aerial cable.
Motion picture posters.
Many of the decreases are merely nominal, the proposed rates closely approximating the existing duties after allowance has been made for exchange adjustment.
I may say that secondary industry in Australia, is now in a very flourishing condition. The output from Australian factories during the last financial year approximated £502,000,000 - a record. The prospects for further expansion arc particularly bright, and plana for the establishment of many new and important branches of industry are now taking concrete shape.
Whilst our secondary industries were established mainly with a view to catering for the domestic market, nevertheless a valuable export trade has been built up in some Australian products. It is pleasing to know that out steel mills are now engaged in completing orders received from the United Kingdom.
The Government is anxious to see’ the export trade in manufactured goods developed, and believes that there is scope for further expansion in this direction. Many of the older established industries are now in a position to operate successfully under a tariff shelter lower than that previously found necessary. This is an encouraging feature in our secondary activities and reveals that every attention is being paid to efficient production methods.
I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Items 10 and 11 agreed to.
Division IV. - Agricultural Products and Groceries.
Items 54 and 91 agreed to.
Di vision V. - Textiles, Felts and Furs, and Manufactures Thereof, and Attire.
Items 105, 106, 107, 108, 110, 114, 122 and 129 agreed to.
Division VI. - Metals and Machinery.
By omitting the whole of sub-item (c) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item.: - “(c) Discs for agricultural implements,ad val., British 10 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent. ; general. 28) per cent.
– I regret that this tariff heavily increases the duties on discs for ploughs, and I move -
That thu House of ‘Representatives bc requested to make the duties, British, free; intermediate, 15 per cent.
If this request be agreed to, the rates will revert to those that operated up to the time when the increases were imposed. I do not think that a worse period could have been chosen for the imposition of an additional burden of this nature on a necessary farm utility. Imports were fairly large under the old rates, but there is no necessity for the increased duties. When the agricultural industry generally, and ‘particularly Wheat and cereal production, are suffering severely, this Parliament should decline to ratify increased duties on farm implements. We have been informed lately that certain great Australian enterprises associated with the production of iron and steel, especially the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited - of whose works we are all proud - are producing iron and steel at a cost lower than the costs in Europe and the United States of America, and are exporting a portion of their output. We know how favorably situated are the Broken Hill works at Newcastle in respect of the coal needed for smelting operations. The Sunshine Harvester works also are well established. The production costs of these enterprises should be such as to make unnecessary a higher duty than has been imposed in the past, and I strongly object to this new burden being imposed on our wheat farmers. These increases ha.ve been operating without parliamentary sanction for over a year, because of an evasion of the law which prescribes that duties must be ratified by Parliament within six months of their imposition. The Government cleverly evaded that provision by tabling fresh schedules, which also have a currency of six months. I contend that no proper case can be made out for increasing the duties on important agricultural implements and parts, particularly as the Tariff Board has recommended substantial reductions of the intermediate duties on many of the more expensive lines. These recommendations have not been given effect by successive governments. A new government has now assumed office, but a very important page is missing from its book. I urge the committee to agree to my request.
– I hope that the committee will reject the request of the honorable senator. This is not a very big item; the increase of duty amounts to approximately sixpence on a 20-in. disc. The present is hardly an appropriate time for the honorable senator to make such a request. I am’ in complete sympathy with those who are engaged in primary production, particularly the wheat-growers, in whom the honorable senator is so keenly interested. The Government has quite rightly rendered assistance to the wheat industry by means of a tax on flour. Only yesterday I received in my office in Sydney a deputation from iron workers, moulders, and members of kindred trades, which complained that unemployment has become more extensive in their industry because much of the work which ordinarily would go to them is now being given to those engaged in preparations for defence. There is only one Australian manufacturer of discs for agricultural implements. Australian, steel sheets are used in their manufacture, and the quality of the local product has never been questioned. The Tariff Board estimated the Australiandemand at 165,000 discs, valued at £A45,000 per annum. Imports in 1937-38 represented in quantity about 57 per cent, of the total requirements. Steel prices are an important factor in disc production, representing about 50 per cent of the selling price of the more important sizes of discs. A comparison of selling prices obtained at the time of the board’s inquiry revealed that, in respect of some of the sizes of discs, the landed duty-paid cost of the product of the United Kingdom is slightly lower than Australian prices. In distant States the position is less favorable to the local manufacturer. A small reduction of overseas prices might cause a big swingover from the Australian to the imported discs. The Tariff Board has examined carefully the local production costs and the company’s balance sheets, and is satisfied that Australian-made discs are being sold to-day at a price which permits little, if any, reduction, except through a decrease of raw material or labour costs. The fact that approximately one-half of the Australian demand has been supplied by the local manufacturer without tariff protection against the principal overseas suppliers, indicates that every care has been taken to reduce production costs. The board considers that the imposition of a protective duty is justified, and consequently has recommended the moderate increase of 10 per cent, in respect of the British preferential tariff. Protection on this scale should be sufficient to ensure to the local manufacturer a bigger proportion of the Australian market than he has formerly enjoyed. The manufactured disc is produced wholly in Australia. Three processes are ‘involved, each of which is within the province of a separate industry. The steel used is the product of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, and’ is converted into disc steel by Lysaght’s. The complete article is produced from Australian disc steel by the disc manufacturer, who has operated for a number of years without tariff protection against the competition of manufacturers in the United Kingdom. That competition has been keen, and about one-half of the demand’ has . been supplied by the Australian factory. The moderate protection now proposed should enable the local industry to expand. The Government is satisfied, after full investigation by the Tariff Board, that it is justified in asking that this small increase be made.
– I am sorry that Senator Johnston has moved this request. If agreed to, disservice will be done to those whom he desires to help. To the degree that the market available to Australian manufacturers is destroyed, or those who supply it are not encouraged to develop, the local market available tothe primary producers - which is easily the “best market - is restricted. I hope that the honorable senator’s request will not be agreed to.
Request negatived. >
Item agreed to.
Items 172 and 174 agreed to.
Item 377 (Tractors and tractor parts).
-. - I should like an explanation of Item 177 relating to tractors and tractor parts. Previously, the duties were British, free; intermediate, 10 per cent. ; and general tariff, 10 per cent. There is a note which reads -
The amendment affects tractor winches only when imported with the tractor. Under the 1933-1938 Tariff, tractor winches were subjected to the following treatment: -
If imported with tractors -
Item 177 (b)(1) (a.) ad val., British free; intermediate. 10 per cent; and general tariff, 10 per cent.
Item 177 (b) (1)(b)., ad val., British, free; intermediate, 12½ per cent.; and general tariff, 12½ per cent, according to the type of tractor.
The meaning of the amendment is notclear, but it would appear that winches for tractors, whether forming part of the complete tractor or imported separately, will in future pay the heavy duty of British 33¾ per cent.; and general tariff, 65 per cent. It is clear that this alteration will increase the cost of tractors considerably, thereby adding to the cost of farming and road-making. In view of the conditions under which primary producers are operating to-day, I object to anything being done to increase their costs. Whenever the interests, of secondary and primary industries conflict, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) always stands for the secondary industries.’
– Primary and secondary industries are inter-related. There is no conflict.
– Wherever their interests conflict, I stand for the primary producers because they are always liable to be exploited under -the tariff by manufacturers. Any additional duty on tractors and parts of tractors is a direct burden on producers, particularly those in the marginal areas where, because of the shortage of water, tractors are the main source of power on the farms. I object strongly to the proposed duties ; but in view of the decision of the committee in respect of the previous request, in which I received no support whatever, it seems futile for me to move that they be reduced. However, I should like the Minister to explain the reason for imposing this additional burden, which I very strongly oppose, on primary industries.
SenatorFOLL (Queensland - Minister for the Interior) [5.12]. - There has been no Tariff Board inquiry in respect of the proposed tariff alteration, and the United Kingdom Government advised that it had no objection to the action now being taken. Some imported tractors are equipped at the rear with a winch, or winding drum, which is operated from the power unit of the tractor. These winches are used for heavy hauling purposes, such as logging. Prior to 1937, such winches were dutiable, but in that year a number * of importers challenged the right of the department to impose duty on them. These winches were originally classified under Tariff Item 176 (f) (1), the duties being British, 33¾ per cent.; and general tariff, 65 per cent. As the result of the challenge by the importers, the department had to admit the winches free of duty, thereby destroying any chance of their manufacture in Australia. There are several Australian engineering establishments which manufacture winches for tractors, and it is only reasonable to restore to them the measure of protection which they enjoyed prior to the 1st June, 1937. That is all that is now being done. I therefore ask the committee to agree to the item.
Item agreed to.
Items 179, 180,181 and 206 agreed to.
Division VII. - Oils, Paints and Varnishes.
Items 225, 229a and 232 agreed to.
Division VIII. - Earthenware, Cement, China, Glass and Stone.
Items 234, 242, 250 and 255 agreed to.
Division IX. - Drugs and Chemicals.
Items 268, 271, 281 and 290 agreed to.
Item 305 agreed to.
Division XII. - Hides, Leather and Rubber.
Item 331 agreed to.
Division XIII. - Paper and Stationery.
Items 334, 338, 340 and 346 agreed to.
Division XIV. - Vehicles.
Item 352 agreed to.
Division XVI. - Miscellaneous.
Items 368, 380, 390, 397 and 441 agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; 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 amendments proposed by this bill are consequential upon the alterations made to the Customs Tariff by the Customs Tariff Bill 1939, with which the Senate has just dealt. The Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Act 1933-1938 provides for a general reduction of the duties on protected goods to offset to some extent the protective effect of exchange. Since that act was brought into operation, it has been the practice, when amending protective items, to make provision in the particular item for an exchange corrective which is suitable for the particular goods covered by the item. This practice has been carried out in respect of the items covered by the Customs Tariff Bill 1939, and it is necessary, therefore, to exclude the items in question from the general terms of the
Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Act; otherwise, two reductions on account of exchange would apply.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through . its remaining stages without requests or debate.
The following papers were presented : -
Munitions Supply Board - Report for the year ended 30th June, 1938, together with Report of the Commonwealth Government Clothing Factory for the Financial Year 1987-38.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act -
Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 7 of 1939 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 8 of 1939- Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 9 of 1939 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 10 of 1939 - Commonwealth Telephone Officers’ Association.
Regulations amended- Statutory Rules 1939. No. 33.
Citrus Fruits Bounty Act - Report on the working of the Act, dated 6th March, 1939, together with Statement showing payments under the Act during the finan- cial year 1937-38.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1939, No. 23.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Fifteenth Report on the Commonwealth Public Service by the Public Service Board, dated 7th December, 1938.
Customs Act and Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1938, No. 115.
Prune Bounty Acts - Report on the working of the Acts, dated 16th February, 1939, together with return snowing amount of bounty paid for the year ended 31st December, 1930, and supplementary return for the year ended 31st December, 1935.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at Georgetown, Tasmania - For Defence purposes.
Motor Industry Bounty Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1938, No. 119.
Postmaster-General’s Department - Twentyeighth Annual Report, 1937-1938.
Norfolk Island - Report for year ended 30th June, 1938.
Papua - Annual Report for 1937-1938.
New Guinea Act - Ordinances of 1939 -
No. 1 - Stamp Duties.
No. 2 - Public Service. .
No. 3- Wills.
Norfolk Island Act- Ordinances -
No. 4 of 1938 - Pasturage and Enclosure.
No. 1 of 1939 - Lunacy Agreement.
Senate adjourned at 5.26 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 May 1939, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1939/19390516_senate_15_159/>.