2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 11.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I should like to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence whether, in view of the extraordinary occurrences which have taken place, a military escort from Bendigo to the State Parliament House, Melbourne, will be furnished to the Rev. Mr. Worrall on Tuesday next ?
.- On behalf of thePrinting Committee, I desire to make a personal explanation in reference to a resolution passed yesterday by the Senate. On 28th June, 1906, I, as Chairman of the Committee, sent the following letter to the Prime Minister: -
I have the honour to inform you that at a meeting of thePrinting Committee of the House of Representatives, held on the 15th inst.,I was requested to call your attention to the unnecessary printing and extra expense incurred by the Senate in printing regulations under thePost and Telegraph Act 1901, as set out in the journals- forwarded herewith. As I pointed out in my letter of 14th July, 1904, regulations of this character are published under the Rules Publication Act 1903, and presented to Parliament in the usual printed form of such rules.
The resolution passed by the Printing Committee was as follows : -
That the attention of the honorable the Prime Minister be again called to the fact that these regulations (sec page11 of Journals of the Senate) are published underthe Rules Publication Act, and that there is no necessity for their being printed as parliamentary papers.
The Printing Committee, in forwarding that letter, had no desire to question the right of the Senate to order the printing of ‘ any document, nor to assail the discretion of thePrinting Committee of that Chamber. We, in no way, criticise or’ challenge the exercise of its prerogatives by the Senate. But, in the performance of the duties for which we were appointed by this House, we think that we have a perfect right to draw, the attention of the Government to what we consider -extravagance in the matter of printing. The letter was merely a continuation’ of correspondence which has been conducted by me on behalf of the Printing Committee during a period of some years. The first letter on the subject was sent to the Right Honorable Sir Edmund Barton, then Prime Minister, and he concurred in its recommendations. We sent a second letter to the honorable member for Bland, when he was at the head of affairs, and he, too, thoroughly agreed with the Committee’s suggestions. This is the third letter on the subject. Our object is to draw the attention of the Government to the facts, so that the. Prime Minister may place himself in communication with his colleague, the leader of the Senate, and inform him that certain documents are printed, published, and circulated by authority of an
Act of Parliament, so that he may not inadvertently move for their printing a second time, and thus cause unnecessary expense.
– I do not think that either Chamber would dispute the need for economy in the printing of documents. Had I been aware that the letter was intended merely as an expression of opinion by the Printing Committee in reference to the ordering of certain printing, I should have asked the Chairman - as I do now - to place himself in direct communication with the Printing Committee of the Senate.
– Has the Prime Minister the right to speak at this stage?
– I understand that he is making a personal explanation as to the reasons why the letter of the Printing Committee was sent on to the Senate.
– There has been some misunderstanding. Yesterday my honorable colleague put before the Senate the very case which has just been stated by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo.
– The Printing Committee of this House has communicated with the Printing Committee of the Senate time and again, but can get no satisfaction. That body seems to be purely honorary, and does nothing.
– It never meets.
– I suggest a personal conference.
– We have had that.
– I understand from the leader of the Senate that such a conference might lead to the settlement of this and any other differences.
– In my opinion, the proper course in matters such as this, is for the Printing Committee to report to the House, and should its report be adopted, it can be forwarded by message to the Senate. . That procedure would meet the constitutional requirements of the case. I do not think it desirable that any Committee should communicate by letter, or in any other fashion, with a Committee of another House, unless expressly authorized so to do by this House.
While speaking last night on the amendment of the honorable member for Kooyong. I said, feeling strongly that Queensland will not obtain the advantages to which she is entitled under the mail contract, because
Brisbane has not been made a port of call for the steamers, that I condemned the Government for ignoring the interests of the State, and that it seems useless to appeal to them for justice. Apparently I was understood to say, or may unwittingly have said, that it seems useless to appeal to this House. I had no intention of using those words, because, of course, many honorable members are favorably disposed to the State of which I am a representative, and, if I have accidentally hurt their feelings, I am sorry, and apologize for my mistake.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable and learned member’s questions I desire to say -
Exporters can either -
The accuracy of the exporter’s certificate may be tested by the officers, as may also any other statement the description may include.
The exporters must supply all assistance for opening packages, handling goods, &c.
– I promised, on the 18th July, to furnish the honorable member for Grey with replies to four questions which he asked on that date relating to the closing on Saturdays of telegraph offices in the State of South Australia. The replies are as follow : -
– Yesterday the honorable member for Echuca gave notice of his intention to ask the following questions : -
I was not able then to give the information desired, but am now furnished with the following replies : -
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This is a measure of importance, especially to those who are making their living upon the land, and I hope that very few honorable members will object to the course which the Government propose to take. Our proposals are by no means new. Prior to Federation, Victoria had inaugurated a very ‘extensive system of bounties.
– The Bounties Commission has told us all about their results.
– I ask honorable members not to interrupt, because I have a great deal of interesting matter to put before the House, and do not wish to unduly prolong my remarks. One of the objects of this measure is to offer inducements to a large number of our people to leave the cities and go upon the land. There is a tendency on the part of the population in Australia, as in other parts of the world, to gravitate to the large centres, and we hope that we shall be able to encourage the owners of land, either to make use of it themselves, or to afford others an opportunity of doing so. The present population of the Commonwealth is 4,052.000, the number resident in the capital cities being 1,435.000, whilst our urban population is 1,944,000. Therefore, in our capitals there are nearly as many people as are resident in the country districts. If we can do anything to bring about a change in this respect we shall confer great benefit upon the whole community.
– Are we ever going to get rid of this practice of State coddling?
– It will always be necessary for the State to help its people. The honorable member, and those who are associated with him, would allow everything to drift. They would allow blackfellows to come here, and would do nothing to help our people. If the honorable member will look at past legislation in other countries as well as in the Commonwealth, he will see that it is necessary for us to encourage primary production. I regret very much that we have not been able to apply the principle of bounties to the development of our iron industry. If the majority of the people had been of the same way of thinking as myself, we should now be producing our own iron, instead of importing it. All over the world the system of assisting industry by the payment of bounties is adopted. In the Argentine Republic exporters of sterilized milk are allowed a refund of duty on cases, packing paper, and tins. For cotton weaving an exemption from duty is allowed oh machinery, accessories, and materials necessary for the installation and working of the factory for a period of ten years. This is to be suspended if, within three years of installation, native-grown cotton is not wholly employed in the factory. The factory, its capital, and its products are exempted from national taxation for ten years. In Hungary the bounty system is confined to preferential railway rates on certain agricultural products. In Brazil the same procedure obtains. In Bulgaria the manufacture of yarn, and certain other articles, is encouraged by the factories being exempted for fifteen years from licensing, land, and stamp taxation, by reduced railway rates, and by a proviso that -
The produce of these factories is to be preferred to foreign goods in all Stales and municipal contracts, even though it be 15 per cent, dearer than the latter, including the Customs duties paid by them.
In Chili bounties are allowed on the exportation of wines and spirits, and the manufacture of beet sugar and sulphuric acid. In France, in order to encourage the cultivation of hemp and flax, a law, dated the 8th April, 1898, provides that for a period of six years an annual expenditure of £100,000 shall be allowed for bounties to growers of hemp and flax. No bounty is paid unless the surface cultivated is more than 956 square yards in extent, and the rate of bounty is fixed by Ministerial decree. For 1902 it was fixed at about £1 3s. per acre. The expenditure for bounties since 1808 has been -
Bounties to encourage cod fishing are granted to the crews of French vessels engaged in the industry. These bounties range from 12s. to £2 per head, according to the location of the fishery. A bounty on dried cod from French fisheries is also allowed, ranging from 4s.10d. to 8s.1d. per cwt., according to port of shipment and country of destination. From 1899 to 1903 £1,037,000 has been expended in this manner. A system of preferential railway rates is also in force in connexion with French products. In Germany no bounties are given for agricultural products, but in the case of goods manufactured from imported or excisable material, and afterwards exported, a drawback is allowed of the duty involved. In Italy there are no bounties, but preferential railway rates are allowed in a few unimportant cases. In Japan the Government granted a subsidy of £7,000 per annum in 1893, for a period of ten years, to advertise and promote the com merce in Japanese tea. The Ministry of Finance are reported to be satisfied with the results obtained. In Portugal an effort was made by the Government in 1892 to encourage the consumption of native wines by the grant of a bounty to a company called the “ Companhia Vinicola de Norte.” This association, in return for a bounty of , £3,330 annually, bound itself to display exhibits and establish depots at various foreign cities, one of which was Berlin. The term fixed for the continuance of the subsidy was fifteen years, with the proviso that should the company’s profits attain to a certain magnitude at the close of tenyears, a corresponding reduction in the grant should be made for the ensuing five. In Russia, in addition to the drawback of excise duty paid on the exportation of spirits, corn-brandy, and preparations of the same (infusions), the exporter receives a bounty. This bounty is fixed at the rate of 31/2 per cent, for spirits of every strength, both rectified and unrectified ; for rectified spirit not lower than 951/2 per cent, proof, and satisfying the standard fixed for purity ;11/2 per cent, is additionally payable to the exporter. The latter is, moreover, allowed a bounty for leakage or loss during the carriage of the spirit from the distillery to the Custom House - 31/2 per cent, for the first month of transit, 2 per cent, for the second, and 1 per cent, for the third. On rectified corn-brandy, and preparations of the same the bounty is fixed at51/2 per cent. Payment of the drawback and bounty is effected in “ instalment notes,” calculated at the rate of 2d. per degree - the actual excise rate being21/2d. The allowance, however, on spirits extracted from fruit and grapes is reckoned at15/8d. ; the actual excise being13/4d., with a like addition to the rate according to the increase of the excise duty. If the excise duty has been actual ly paid, the drawback is payable in full at13/4d. per degree. On hemp and flax goods exported from Russia the following bounties are given : -
Onyarn and thread, unbleached, 71/2d. per 36 lbs.
On yarn and thread, bleached,1s. 51/2d. per 36 lbs.
On tissues, unbleached,1s. 63/4d. per 36 lbs. On tissues, bleached, 2s. 43/4d. per 36 lbs. On tissues, dyed, &c, 3s.01/4d. per 36 lbs.
– The fact that other countries have acted unwisely affords no reason why we should follow their bad example.
– There is every reason why we should follow a good example when we have one set for us, and I think we shall do well to adopt methods similar to those I have indicated. It would not foe wise to follow in the footsteps of Russia in every respect, but we should take a note of what is being done in that country in order to increase production.
– The examples quoted by the Minister are shocking ones.
– I hope that the honorable member will be quiet, and not continue to exhibit ‘his mad antagonism to even,thing that is good for the country. The Bill does not deal with as many, industries as some honorable member might desire.
– Or as the Minister would like.
– If I had thought it desirable to deal with other industries, my colleagues would doubtless have agreed with me. I wish to quote a statement made by the honorable member for Gippsland at the Hobart Conference. In reference to bounties, he said -
These are matters which would naturally fall under the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture. Another is, of course, the Federal Government have sole power to encourage production and export by means of bounties or bonuses; then, naturally, the Federal Agricultural Department should do what it could to encourage the establishment of new and valuable industries. There are many industries which are being successfully carried on in other parts of the world, and which to all appearances might be very successfully established here; but the transplanting of a new industry to a new country always involves new conditions of production. For instance, we would have to find the best seasons for planting, and the best seasons for harvesting, and many other things which involve a certain amount of risk ; and therefore people are very slow to undertake that risk unless the State as a whole will give some encouragement during the first few years. I think we should be very careful about encourag ing the establishment of any industry, unless we are tolerably sure that it could be successfully and profitably carried on, after it had 1 fair start, without any State advantage whatever in the future, and become a profitable industry to the whole Commonwealth.
I quite agree with the statement of the honorable member, but at present we have not a Federal Department of Agriculture. My colleagues agree with me that the time is not very far distant when we shall have to establish a department of that kind. At present, however, the Slates have organised such departments, and perhaps it would-be better for us for some years to come to work in co-operation with them, instead of duplicating expense. If the Bill be passed, we shall probably enter into negotiations with the States Governments with a view to securing their co-operation in giving effect to our intentions. In the same way I am applying to the States to practically work the Commerce Act with the machinery at their disposal, reserving tothe Commonwealth merely the supreme power of control. In Victoria, I may mention that many years ago a bounty was offered in connexion with the planting of vines. The payment, I think, was based upon ihe acreage put under vines, and I am told that in a great many instances that bounty was practically wasted because sufficient inducement was not offered to the planters to obtain the best possible stock with a view to making substantial profit’s at a later period.
– Surely, there was the ordinary business incentive?
– I do not know why that incentive was lacking, but I am informed that after the planters had received the bounty, they did not proceed with the cultivation of their vines.
– The bounty must have been too high.
– Probably. Under this Bill we do not propose to pay any bounty for the cultivation of the soil, or for planting operations. We intend to pay upon results only.
– Who will get the bounty - the grower or the manufacturer?
– The grower.
– The Bill does noi’ say so.
– If the measure be faulty in that direction, I am quite prepared to amend it. Its object is that the grower shall obtain the bounty. In connexion with the payment of the sugar bounty, I am aware that in some instances ihe growers do not get it.
– It must be handed to the grower in the first instance.
– That is so. But I have, seen some of the agreements with the growers - agreements under which the bounty is not secured to them in the way that it should be. Whenever we discover a weak spot in that respect, we should endeavour to provide against it. The’ Bill is so framed that no bounty will be payable in respect of the articles enumerated in the schedule unless they have been produced by white labour. That provision is in accord with the declared policy of this
Parliament and of the country. It is further proposed that the bounty shall become operative only when the plants are sufficiently matured to produce the particular commodity required. Just now I heard an interjection in reference to chicory. That leads me ito say that I have received information from one or two persons in Sydney who have been dealing in that article. From them I gather that the granting of a bounty upon the production of chicory is not a very important’ matter. I learn that a great deal of chicory - almost sufficient to supply the requirements of Australia - is grown in the neighbourhood of Western Port. Consequently, when we come to deal with that item, I shall move that it be omitted. I was not aware until a few weeks ago that so much chicory was produced in the locality indicated. I hold in my hand a list of articles which is interesting from the standpoint of showing how much employment might’ be afforded to our own people if we produced them in sufficient quantities to provide for our own requirements. Take the article cocoa as an instance in point. I find that the value of the raw cocoa imported into the Commonwealth in 1904 was .£17)037 ; in 1905 it was £19,441, whereas the value of the manufactured cocoa imported in those years was £157,527 and ,£185,686 respectively.
– We ought to produce the whole of that ourselves.
-Exactly. Last year the importations of flax and hemp were valued at £128,383; of preserved milk, at £194,658; of concentrated preserved milk, at ,£1,813; °f °ils> a* £174,501 ; of rice, uncleaned, at £1:I3>554; of rubber, crude, which is not dutiable, at £1.02,983, and of rubber manufactures, n.e.i., at ,£1 29,482.
– Pounds sterling?
– Yes. At the present stage I do not intend to deal in detail with the various articles in respect of which I have information. I propose to have that information printed, and copies of it distributed amongst honorable members. In this connexion, I may say that a great deal of very valuable data has been placed in my hands by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who has gone to considerable trouble to supply it. I mayinform honorable members that the Government have had under consideration the advisableness of granting- a bounty upon the production of a number of other articles, but, after discussing the matter very carefully, it was not deemed desirable to go further than we have gone in this Bill.
– There is no provision made in the measure for the grower.
– If the honorable member is of opinion that the Bill is weak in that respect we are quite prepared to amend it. It is intended to benefit the grower. If honorable members will defer raising objections to it until the measure reaches Committee, they will enable me to get along much faster than I can do if I am called upon to reply to a running fire of interjections
– But the Bill should make it perfectly clear whether the bounty is to be paid upon the finished article or to the grower.
– At the end of the Bill the honorable member will see that certain powers are vested in the Minister to make regulations. I can assure him that the bulk of the money is intended to go to the grower. The Bill is designed .to prevent the manufacturer from fleecing him.
– The Bill says that the “owner of the land shall be deemed to have been employed in the production of the goods,” although, as a matter of fact, he may have nothing to do with it.
– The principle is that the bounty shall be paid to the grower. In some cases in which it must be paid upon the finished article, I wish so to frame the measure that it shall provide that the producer shall get the larger share of it.
– Then this is a very ill-considered Bill.
– If that be so, the honorable member must blame the draftsman. Under the Bill a bounty of id. per lb. will be paid upon manufactured cocoa. I have already mentioned the importations of raw and manufactured cocoa. I think tha’t the quantity of cocoa imported into the Commonwealth is sufficiently large to warrant us straining every nerve to produce that article for ourselves. I quite admit that it cannot be grown in the south of Australia. I recognise that it can only be successfully cultivated in the northern parts of the Commonwealth. In dealing with that question we might well consider the prospects of the successful cultivation of cocoa in the Northern Territory. That Territory - if transferred to the Commonwealth - would be very much benefited if a stimulus were imparted to the production of cocoa by the granting of a bounty.
– Then send Dr. Holtze up to the Territory. He will grow it successfully.
– Does the Minister think that a bounty of id. per lb. will be sufficient ?
– - Before the honorable member entered the Chamber I referred to an experiment which was undertaken in Victoria some years ago, and which provided for the payment of a bounty upon the acreage put under vines. I stated that that experiment was a failure, and the honorable member for Wide Bay at once interjected that probably that result was due to the fact that the bounty was too large.
– That was not the cause of the failure.
– I am not sufficiently acquainted with all that took place upon that occasion to say definitely what was the direct cause of the failure. No doubt we shall hear what it was from the honorable member for Moira.
– What is the maximum amount of bounties to be paid each year?
– The maximum s j£5°>0°°- Under the heading of “ Fish - canned or tinned,” I notice a typographical error. The amount payable in respect of that item should be £t 1,000 - not £l,°°°> as it appears in the Bill. I do not wish to enter into details, but I may inform honorable members that I have a mass of information in mv possession which I regard as of sufficient importance to warrant its printing and distribution amongst them. Consequently, I content myself at the present stage with dealing merely with summaries. Instead of having the details published in Hansard I intend to get them printed and circulated in a handy form.
– Why not hand them to Hansard for publication?
– The Prime Minister reminds me that twelve months have been absorbed in securing this information.
– Put it in Hansard.
– I do not propose to read the whole of it, but I intend to have it printed. The quantity of information T have would probably be found to occupy too much space in Hansard, and can be conveniently published in’ the form of a paper. It is proposed to give a bounty -of id. per lb. on dried beans. I do not know whether the honorable member for Boothby was referring to this item when he said the grower, and not the manufacturer, would receive the bounty.
– Under the Bill the owner of the land mav secure it.
– If the Bill is defective in any respect we can amend it.
– It is . a case of “just say what your war.t.”
– I say that the principle of the Bill is sound, and that, although some honorable members occasionally accuse rae of obstinacy, I am quite prepared to vary the wording should it appear to be wrong. This bounty is to extend over a period of nine years. The cocoa plant takes from four to five years to mature. It is said that in some cases it does not reach maturity for a period of nine years, but that is the exception to the rule. Under our proposal, therefore, assuming that the plants reach .maturity in four years, the producers of the dried beans would participate in the bonus for five years. The life of the cocoa plant I am informed is about thirty years. I come now to our proposal in regard to the production of coffee. A duty of 3d. per lb. is imposed on raw coffee, and of 5d. per lb. on roasted or ground coffee. In 1904 the imports of raw coffee comprised - 1,291,114 lbs. valued at .£37.668, whilst the imports of coffee ground, &c, consisted of 403,529 lbs. valued at ,-£20,523. In 1905, 1,754,866 lbs. of raw coffee valued at £54,482 were imported, whilst 324,558 lbs. weight of ground, &c, were imported, the value being ,£16.028. So far as I have been able to ascertain, the production in Australia totals 83,632 lbs. per annum.
– Has the honorable gentleman made any inquiry as to whether the producers prepare the article?
– We have had Queensland coffee in this House.
– I know that a number of gentlemen established coffee plantations on Norfolk Island, and that the soil and climate there are most suitable for the purpose. Whether or not an arrangement can be made to allow coffee produced there to enter Australia free of duty, I cannot say, but at present it is being grown on Norfolk Island under very great difficulties. I believe that, as a rule, the growers there send the berry somewhere else to be ground, but we all know that any one can grind coffee beans.
– In those circumstances, the growers would not secure the bounty ?
– The grower will receive the bounty. It is proposed to give a bounty of id. per lb. on dried coffee beans, and that that bounty shall extend over a period of eight years. In no case is more than .£2,500 to be paid away in any one year irc respect of the production of coffee beans. I do not know how long the coffee plant takes to reach maturity, but I am advised that it is about three years. If that statement be correct the bounty will be payable during a period of five years.
– It takes from three to four years.
– My information is that it takes three years, but probably the honorable member’s statement is correct. There are very large areas, not only in Norfolk Island, but in certain parts of New South Wales and Queensland, and the northern parts of South Australia and Western Australia, where coffee can be produced, and the industry is one that certainly ought to be well advanced. It should not be necessary for us to import as much as we do at the present time. There is ample room for a rapid increase in its production here.
– What about the bounty on chicory ?
– I stated before the honorable member entered the Chamber that I did not intend to proceed with that proposal .
– I should think not.
– As the honorable member is in agreement with me in regard to that matter, we ought not to quarrel about it. The next item in the list relates to cotton, to the production of which the northern parts of Australia are peculiarly adapted. When I was in Queensland about 1864. I saw, on the Logan River, a cotton plantation where the plants were growing very well indeed. Several attempts have since been made to establish the industry there, but they have not been altogether successful. For the information of the House I shall quote the statistics as to our imports of cotton, which is free. In 1904 we imported 537,793 lbs., valued at £11,844, and in 1905, 1,049,306 lbs., valued at ,£20,962.
– Raw cotton.
– The statement from which I am quoting does not indicate whether it was or was not raw cotton. The word “ cotton “ is used. The quantity of cotton produced in Australia is very small. In 1904, 30 acres were grown in Queensland, and cotton in seed netted 1 4-5ths of a penny per lb. f.o.b. Brisbane, whilst ginned cotton realized 6Jd. to 4fd. f.o.b. there. It is proposed that the bounty shall extend over a period of five years, and. that it shall be 10 per cent, on the market value, payable in respect of quantities of not less than one bale of 300 lbs. The reason we have decided that this bounty shall be payable for only five years is that the time occupied by this plant in reaching maturity is not as long as in the case of other plants to which I have referred. The producers of this cotton will enjoy the bounty for, at all events, four years. I need hardly remind honorable members that whilst we have refrained from proposing to grant the bounty for an extended period, it is always open to the Parliament to readjust the bounty, and, if necessary, to extend the period during which it shall be payable. We should be able to grow in Queensland and the northern parts of South Australia and Western Australia, a great deal, ‘if not all, the cotton we require.
– Who would pick it?
– I have before me a statement that it has been discovered that cotton can be grown in other parts of the world by means of white labour. If that be so, why could not white labour be employed in its production here? The idea so firmly entertained by Australian producers a few years ago that white labour could not be substituted for black labour-in certain industries is rapidly dying away. It was said, for instance, to be impossible to grow sugar by white labour, but that objection is vanishing into thin air. I feel that that will be our experience in regard to other industries.
– Do the Government provide a bounty for the manufacture of cotton piece-goods?
– Not under this Bill. We must first obtain our raw material.
– r come now to a very important proposal in relation to the production of fibres. Our proposition is that for ten years a bounty of 10 per cent. on the fair value shall be payable on the production of fibres, but that the total sum so paid away shall not exceed £6,000 in any one year. Under the heading of fibres we have flax, ramie, sisal hemp, hemp, New Zealand flax, pandanus, and other approved fibres. Flax, hemp fibre, and coir, and other fibre are allowed to come in free of duty ; on manufactured articles there is a duty of 20 per cent-, whilst reaper and binder twine is subject to a duty of 5s. per cwt. In 1904 our imports of flax and hemp were of the value of ,£145,925, and comprised 85,049 cwts. Of this amount, £73,993 represents the value of importations of New Zealand flax. During the same year, 7,459 cwts. of coir, valued at ;£3>535> a110* 4,462 cwts. of jute, valued at £4,354, were imported; whilst in 1905 the imports were as follows: - Coir, 9,885 cwts., valued at £3,303; flax and hemp, 74,186 cwts., valued at .£128,383; and jute, 3,622 cwts., valued at ,£2,671. The import value of cordage and twines in 1904 was ,£91,436, and of twine and yarn ;£54>578. I have no record of the imports of other fibres in 1904; but in 1905 they comprised 3,500 cwts., of the value of £5,146. It was at first proposed that a bounty of £3 per ton should be granted, but since the values of the different species vary so materially, it was considered that it would be better to give a bounty of 10 per cent, on fair value for a period of ten years. On such fibres as New Zealand flax, ramie, and sisal hemp, the first crop of which is not available until three or four years after planting, the bounty would be payable for only six or seven years. These were very large importations. It is remarkable that a country possessing every description of soil and climate should not grow all these kinds of fibre, and thus give employment to a large number of its own people, instead of obtaining its requirements from abroad to such an extent as at present.
– How long does it take to produce coir ?
– My information is that it takes from three to four years to produce the raw material. That will leave six or seven years in which to take advantage of the bounties.
– The cocoa tree takes seven years to bear.
– I do not wish to make the bounty period too long; but we can easily extend it in amy case in which that is seen to be desirable. Nothing will be paid in the first few years. We havefixed the period at ten years, and propose to pay 10 per cent, on the market value of the article produced, or about £3 per ton. We also propose to offer a bounty for the production of tinned and canned fish.
– We cannot get enough: fresh fish, because of the monopolies which, prevail. I know that that is so in Adelaide.
– We should beable to put an end to these monopolies. It has happened in Melbourne, and I believein Sydney, too, that, when there has been a surplus of fish caught, a large quantity has been destroyed, in order that the prices, may not be reduced. Such action is disgraceful, and should be dealt with very stringently. Notwithstanding the largequantity of fish in the waters which surround our coasts, honorable members may be surprised to learn that Australia imported! last year 13,463,838 lbs. of tinned fish, valued at ,£288,371, and 1,275,175 lbs.. of .fish, smoked or preserved by cold process, valued at ,£16,505.
– How much oi that was salmon?
– I do not know. Fish suitable for canning is to be found inAustralian seas. Even’ year myriads of pilchards, for example, come towards our coast from the south-east, and proceed northward as far as Queensland, when they turn off to the north-east.
– Do they comeevery year ?
– I think so-/ though in some years they are more numerous than in other years. I think that the honorable member will find, if he reads a> report made to the Government of New South Wales by the Fisheries Commissionof that State, that these fish travel along our coast every year, and practically none of them are caught. Thev could, if sufficient inducements were offered to attract the necessary energy and capital, be used’ to establish an industry almost equalling the herring industry. It is proposed to give a bounty of Jd. per lb. on all canned’ and tinned’ fish produced within a period of five years, the payments mot to exceed1 £1,000 a year.
– We need a bounty for the production of fresh fish.
– If the task is. not undertaken by private persons, the Go- vernment should endeavour to discover trawling grounds, and to find out what fish can be obtained by trawling. An attempt to obtain such information was made some years ago by the Government of New South Wales, but it was practically a failure, because neither the proper, appliances nor the right kind of steamer were used. I think that honorable members will find that the Treasurer, when delivering his Budget speech, will have something to say about the fishing industry, and I do not wish to forestall him. The Government will not shut their eves to the importance of the industry, but it cannot be dealt with in a Bill of this character.
– Will the Minister ascertain, and inform the House, what quantity of salmon is annually imported?
– I shall try to get the information. . But why should we not use our own fish in preference to imported fish?
– We have no salmon.
– We have fish just as good, if we care to use it. “We propose to give a bounty of Jd. per lb. for ;the production of condensed milk. That bounty is to be paid during a period of five years, but the payments made in any one year are not to exceed £5,000.
– Condensed milk is now being made in Australia.
– The honorable and learned member for Illawarra can inform honorable members as to what happened in connexion with the industry in the electoral division which he represents.
– Condensed milk is being made in Victoria.
– Not to any extent
– All that is made is sold.
– Condensed milk is being_ made in Sydney also ; but, notwithstanding, the quantity imported, is very large. The duty on sweetened condensed milk is id. per lb., but in 1904 11,196,882 lbs., or £197.253 worth were imported; the importation in 1905 being 10,895,469 lbs., valued at ,£194,658. The exports for 1904 were only £4,0.18. The local production is valued at between £20,000 and £30,000 per annum, while the importations are worth about ,£200,000 per annum.
– Our producers cannot compete against the rubbish which comes in.
– We are trying to assist them to do so.
– To assist them we must shut out the rubbish, so that they may manufacture a good article.
– Our proposals will give a fillip to the industry, and, perhaps, we may do something else in another way later on. We propose to treat powdered milk in the same way as condensed milk, but the rate of bounty will be fd. per lb. One hundred pounds of milk yield about 36 lbs. of sweetened condensed milk, or about 13 lbs. of powdered milk.
– There is a big importation of eggs into New South Wales. Is a bounty to be paid for the production of eggs?
– There is a big importation of Chinese eggs. We cannot give a bounty to hens to induce them to lay more eggs.
– We could give a bounty to those who keep fowls. I know that at present I cannot make fowl-keeping pay.
– When at Mildura I was very much struck with the statement that it is intended to dig up all the olive -trees there, because they are not profitable.. I think that that is a great pity, in view of the proportions which the olive oil. industry might reach in this country if it were properly fostered. The duty on olive oil is is. 4d. per gallon. In 1904 28,420 gallons were imported, valued at £6,518. In addition, .£38,857 worth of castor oil, and £17, 597 worth of China oil which comes in duty free, were imported. On linseed there is a duty of 6d. per gallon, and its importation was valued at .£108, 147 while £2,160 worth of colza oil was imported. We propose to give a bounty on the production of “oils extending over a period of ten years, and amounting to 10 per cent, on the market value, the payments not to exceed £6,500 in anyone year. It has been objected that these bounties may not go to the producers; but I hope that they will go partly to the producers and partly to the manufacturers. No doubt, if the industry flourishes, and production is increased, growers will be able to supply the manufacturers at more reasonable rates than are now charged. That, however, is a detail to be dealt with afterwards. In 1905 1 6, 330 gallons, or £3,512 worth of olive oil, £21,784 worth of China oil, £80,235 worth of linseed oil, £9,453 worth of cotton seed oil, and .£25,969 worth of essential oils were imported. As the olive tree flourishes in Australia, we might reasonably be expected to supply our own requirements in the matter of olive oil. Very little rice is grown in the Commonwealth.
– Some is grown in Queensland.
– The Prime Minister has reminded me that in other parts of the world it is being produced by white labour, and there must be large areas suitable for its cultivation on the Gulf of Carpentaria, and elsewhere in Northern Queensland, and, perhaps, Western Australia.
– An experiment in growing rice has just been commenced on the Murray.
– An article which appeared in the American Review of Reviews, written by Robert S. Lanier, shows what is being done in this matter in America. The article is headed “ The Revolution in Rice Farming,” and is as follows : -
Now, the settlers have seen labour saving implements make wheat fortunes in the Dakotas and California. Why could not they themselves make these Gulf prairies blossom- with rice at a profit? Accordingly, they brought on the wheat machinery they were used to, they adapted it to the new crop, they worked out irrigation methods, and with Government help found the best seed varieties. Here is one result of their labours : before the Civil War, South Carolina produced about three-fourths of our home rice ; North Carolina and Georgia most of the rest. To-day, it is Louisiana and Texas that produce three-fourths of the whole.
However, the greatest result is that, for the first time in history, a labour-saving method of rice-production has been demonstrated. The American farmer, although he pays a higher price for labour than any rice grower in the world, may eventually find himself in control of the world’s markets. The patient Chinaman with his mud-rake and his twenty-five dollars a year profit, the Punjab ryot’s women wielding their slow hand-sickles, the toiling fellah of the Nile delta, the Japanese mattocking his plot, too tiny for a flow to turn - all will be undersold by the progressive American driving his four mule twine binder to his power cultivated fields, past the steam plant where a battery of clanking pumps, impelled by eight hundred horse-power, has sucked up to his growing crop its seventy-day bath of vital, fresh river water.
Down on the Gulf coast, one farmer, one helper, and good teams can prepare and plant to rice two hundred or three hundred acres.
In general, rice can be profitably grown by the new methods wherever there is land so level that large single fields can be uniformly flooded by fresh water, and possessing enough clay, either in soil or subsoil, to hold water and quickly to drain the fields dry enough for the support of heavy terms.
This shows what can be done by the employment of machinery, and indicates to us how we might carry on the cultivation of rice in Australia. At present we levy a duty of 3s. 46. per cental upon uncleaned rice. Starch rice is free, But rice n.e.i. is subject to a duty of 6s. per cental. In 1904 we imported 232,611 centals of uncleaned rice, valued at £107,070, and 267,574 centals df rice n.e.i., valued at ,£129,465. In j 905 we imported 259,004 centals of uncleaned rice, valued1 at £113,554, whilst of rice n.e.i. we imported 253,319 centals, valued at £112,939. Rice is worth 2 1/2 d per lb. The local production is very small indeed; in fact, we cannot ascertain that any is produced.
– All rice is not worth 2jd. per lb.
– That is the information given to me. We pro.pose to grant a bounty of ,£1 per ton of unhusked rice for five years. Now we come to the last item in the schedule, namely, rubber. Last night, I had an interview with the manager of the Dunlop Tyre Company, who told me that if we could produce rubber in the northern parts of Australia - and there is, no doubt that it could be produced, because we have a native rubber tree which is capable of being cultivated with advantage - ‘his company would purchase £10,000 worth of rubber per month. In view of this large local demand, every encouragement should be offered to planters to engage in the enterprise. It is proposed to give a bounty which will not exceed £7,000 per annum for a period of ten years, under conditions to be prescribed by regulation. We have not been able to fix the rate at which the bounty shall be payable, because the matter is a difficult one to deal with. At present, crude rubber is admitted free of duty, but we levy 15 per cent, upon rubber manufactured n.e.i. In 1904 our importations of rubber manufactures, including crude rubber, which were admitted free, were valued at £100,389, whilst the imports of rubber manufactures n.e.i. were valued at £100,275. In 1905 the imports free of dutv were valued at £102.983, whilst the rubber manufactures n.e.i. introduced were valued at £129,482. At present the rubber used bv the Dunlop Company comes from Ja.va, or South America, and their consumption is very large. Thev offer to take rubber to the value of ;£ 10,000 per month, or in all, £120,000 worth per annum. I have referred seriatim to the matters dealt with in the Bill, and I hope I have sufficiently explained them to honorable members. I trust that they will have no hesitation in passing the Bill, because if we can merely meet our own requirements, to say nothing of exporting the commodities mentioned, we shall confer a great benefit on the community generally. We should have preferred to bring forward this measure at an earlier stage, but it was impracticable to do so. We should! also have liked to embrace a much larger number of items, but we did’ not think it wise to submit any more comprehensive programme at the present time. We have endeavoured to make’ provision for the encouragement of those industries which can most readily be developed, and which will conduce in the greatest degree to the settlement of our territory.
.- I think it is unfortunate that a larger number of members have not been present to listen to the verv interesting speech delivered by the Minister upon a subject of vital interest to the people of Australia.
– I think that we might have a quorum. [Quorum formed.”]
Sitting suspended from 1.0 to 2.0 p.m.
– I think it is a grave reflection on this Parliament that, although nearly six years have elapsed since its inception, this Bill represents the first attempt that has yet been made towards developing our primary productions. However, it is refreshing to find that the Government are awakening to a recognition of the fact that something requires to be done in that direction. Hitherto the only stimulus which has been imparted to agriculture has been by way of the bounty which has been so generously granted for the purpose of fostering the sugar industry. I am glad to know that the Government are now turning their attention to the development of other products. I need not surmise why they are taking this step. I can only express my gratification that attention is being devoted to this particular matter. It is unfortunate that the Bill is so badly drawn, and it was scarcely fair of the Minister to saddle the draftsman with the blame in this connexion, because we all know that the Parliamentary Draftsman merely frames a measure in accordance with the instructions which he has received from the Minister. The statement that the Bill can be altered in Committee shows that the Min ister of Trade and Customs has an open mind upon it, and is prepared to accept amendments. To my mind there is no Bill which ought to be considered less of a party measure than ought this. It is a Bill upon which honorable members can express themselves freely without being open to the taunt that their criticisms are prompted byparty motives. Another reason why we should express out opinions freely, is that the step which we are now asked to take is a very grave one. We should endeavour to pay the greatest attention to it, in order that we may start upon sound lines, and not be subsequently called upon to retrace our steps. Whilst fully agreeing with the” system of bounties, I doubt whether the proposals which have been submitted to-day are best suited to the requirements of Australia at the present time. The Bill proposes that we should spend a very large sum of money, namely, £500,000. The expenditure of that amount, if directed into proper channels, would prove of incalculable benefit to this country. If, on the contrary, it is ‘frittered away, we may continue the system of granting bounties for six or eight years, and at the end of that time find ourselves asking, “ What benefit have we derived from this expenditure?”
– We shall derive no benefit.
– I do not agree with my honorable friend. In some respects, I like the proposals which are embodied in the Bill, though they are scarcely upon the lines that I should have chosen myself If we look at the circumstances of Australia to-day, we find that a large extent of our territory is arid. I suppose that, after we utilize to the fullest extent all our water resources, 90 per cent, of our territory will be absolutely dependent upon the rainfall. In other words, we shall have a territory as large as that of Europe, which will be dependent upon the natural rainfall. Consequently, we should ask ourselves, “ Can this great tract of country be made wealth-producing, or must it always - by reason of the intermittent character of the seasons - remain a place where all the operations of the producer are a mere gamble - where there is no certainty that he will secure a return from one year to another. Our first attempt should be to solve this great problem. In making that attempt we should endeavour to co-ordinate our work with that of- the States. We should co-operate with them in what they, are doing. The Minister has expressed a similar opinion, but I would point out that the Bill contains nothing in the shape of proposals to that end. We know that some States are doing a very great deal towards developing their territory, whilst others are doing very little. At Perth, in Western Australia, there is a station which is accomplishing a little. In Queensland there is the Gatton College, which takes students, and which, within its circumscribed area, is performing good work. In New South Wales there is the Hawkesbury College, and several’ other institutions which are rendering excellent service ; and in Victoria, we have the Dookie College and the Longerenong institution, although as a Victorian I am ‘bound to confess that thev have not proved the success which they should have been. The Dookie College ‘has cot sent out one man who has left the imprint of his individuality upon farming operations in this country.
– How long has that institution been in existence?
– For about twenty years. The fact which I have just mentioned evidences that there is something wrong in connexion with the Dookie College. South Australia possesses a college at Roseworthy, but in Tasmania there is no such institution.
– Is not the Dookie College merely a preliminary school ? Do not the boys leave it when they are about seventeen years of age?
– Some of the pupils are twenty-five years “of age, according to the evidence.
– We must deal with the problems presented by our arid country. Until we do .so we can have no permanent settlement. In the first place, the soil requires to be so treated that all the moisture precipitated shall enter it, and be stored there for plant use. In order to ‘ accomplish this, it needs to be worked by special cultural methods. Then we require to plant crops which are adapted to our soil and1 climate. We must further develop the seed that we get. in order to obtain that which is most suitable to the conditions of our country. Then we must learn the right time and manner of planting that seed. It is well known that crops grown under arid conditions are better than those which are produced under more humid conditions. If we can accomplish something in that direction we shall be moving upon right lines. In regard to thecultivation of tropical products we must always recollect that they will have to compete with the cheap labour of the world. For a very long time the market for thoseproducts will be outside our own country, and consequently I do not think it is eithernecessary or desirable to introduce into thisBill restrictions as to the class of Labour that shall be employed in their cultivation. It seems to me that our present restrictivelaws are sufficient to enable us to deal with that aspect of the question without imposing upon the growers of these productsany more restrictions than are absolutely necessary. As far as- is possible, consistently with the declared policy of” this: country, we should allow them as much freedom in carrying out their experiments. as we can. Then the Minister has given, us absolutely no information whatever regarding the organization under which effect is to be given to the provisions of the Bill. When proposals involving such an enormousexpenditure are submitted to the House, it is only reasonable that details as to how they are to be carried out should also besupplied. It seems to me that we ought to have adopted the advice which was given to us some years ago, and to have had’ in existence to-day a Federal Department of Agriculture. Honorable members will recollect that in June, 1901, the honorable and learned member for Bendigo brought that matter under the notice of the House. It was then dropped for a period of threeyears, but in July, 1904, the honorable and learned member again pressed the subject upon the attention of Parliament. Hisproposal was supported in most eloquent speeches by the Attorney-General, the Minister of Home Affairs, the honorable member for Macquarie, and others, but up to the present time nothing whatever has been done to give .effect to it. I . contend that we need not start upon elaborate lines. If we commenced operations upon a small scale, and allowed the Department to grow gradually, we should be acting wisely. If we did” that, and co-operated with the States, we should be confident that the undertaking would he efficiently supervised, and that our operations would tend to ultimate success. In moving the second reading of the Bill, the Minister of Trade and Customs referred to the experiment which was made in Victoria, in granting a bounty upon the planting of vines. I was a . member of the-
State Parliament when those proposals were submitted, in 1886 or 1887. They were very much better thought out than are the proposals contained in the Bill under consideration. They were submitted by the Hon. J. L.. Dow, who has always been a strong supporter and sincere friend of the agriculturist. Their objects were as follow : -
First, to induce the farmers throughout the Colony to enter upon the growth of additional products by means of acreage bonuses, in order that they may not confine their attention to the production of one or two cereal crops; second, ito promote an improvement in the quality and packing of dairy produce, fresh fruits, and wines exported to the London market; third, to induce the establishment of factories for fruit canning, fruit drying, dairying, wine-making, raisin and currant making, vegetable oil making, and preparing for the manufacture of flax, hemp, silk, and other products to be named in regulations ; fourth, for the introduction of new varieties of seeds and plants; fifth, for the establishment of a system of agricultural technical education ; sixth, for the publication of agricultural reports ; and, seventh, for the invtroduction of new kinds of agricultural machinery and appliances.
I should very much like to have seen a comprehensive proposition submitted to this Parliament, instead of the proposals which are embodied in the measure before ais, great and useful as many of them are.
– The proposals contained in this Bill are merely am earnest of what we intend to do.
– But they involve such a large expenditure- that I fear other matters with which it is essential we should deal immediately will be relegated to the background for many years. The bonuses arranged to be given by the Victorian Government totalled ^250,000, and were to extend over five years.
– Did they do any good?
– So far as I am aware, the butter bonus was the only one that had a beneficial effect. Whilst a large proportion of that bonus went into the hands of merchants and middlemen, the whole of it did not do so, because in many cases the prices which they paid to the producers for their cream were increased owing to the fact that they were to receive the bonus on the export of the butter.
– The agents collected the bonus, but the producers secured a great deal of it.
– That is so. The agents have been blamed for having secured the whole of the butter bonus, but, as I have already pointed out, a great part of ii went to the producers in the shape of increased prices for their cream or butter. The Victorian proposals, to which I have referred, were much wiser, more comprehensive, and far more suited to our circumstances than are those now submitted to us. When we examine the Bill, we find that the bounties are to be paid on goods, and not on crops. It is specified that they are to assist agricultural development, and they have been heralded with the cry of “ Protection for ihe farmers.” They will certainly give assistance to the farmers, but they will not constitute protection for the farmer in the sense that we understand the term. They will probably help some but not many farmers. I believe that the Government proposals will play into the hands of the manufacturers, and help them to a much greater extent than the farmers. I understand, however, that that is not the intention of the’ Minister. The honorable gentleman emphasized the point that his desire was to assist the primaryproducer. I would remind the House, however, that under this Bill, the bounties are to be payable only on the finished product placed on the market. We shall find that the great bulk of them will be paid to those who turn the raw material into various manufactures, and not to those who actually produce it.
– The definition of “ manufactured” will cover a good deal.
– That is so. The Minister has expressed his disapproval of the system of paying on acreage. If we are to help the farmers, however, that is the system we should adopt. We should divide these bounties into two parts, and pay the farmer separately for the work that he honestly performs - for the cultivation of his land and for the production of the raw material which the manufacturer can work up into the finished product. We ought’ to pay the farmer according to the quality and quantity of the raw article that he produces. With one or two exceptions, the bounties are to be paid on the manufactured product, arid, therefore, the manufacturer will reap the benefit.
– To what items does the honorable member refer? 0
– Rice and cocoa are the only raw materials in respect of which bounties are tb be paid.
– The first three bounties in the- schedule to the Bill will all go to the farmers. And so with fibrous products.
– The Government do not intend to proceed with the proposal in regard to chicory. If a proposal like this had been made with respect to the payment of the sugar bounty the House would not have accepted it. We insisted that the bounty on sugar grown by white labour should be paid direct to the farmer. If that is the correct policy to pursue with regard to the production of sugar by white labour, why should we not follow it in dealing with other primary industries?
– It is the right policy to apply all round.
– Why should the Minister condemn the system of paying according to acreage - on the raw material, instead of on the manufactured products? The honorable gentleman said that four or five years would elapse before a return would be obtained in respect of some of these manufactured products. What farmer would be prepared to till his soil and waste his time for the sake of a prospective return so far ahead ? We should pay the former on his own work. He will grow the raw material, but in very few cases will he treat it. The treatment will bein the hands of other parries, upon whom he shall have to depend. The farmer may put his best work into the cultivation of one of these products, whilst the reward for his industry will depend on the treatment of what he produces by some one else. What guarantee will the farmer have that the raw material that he produces will be treated in such a way as to secure a return to him in the shape of a bounty ? Cocoa and rice are the only two raw products in respect of which bounties are to be paid, and we find that the bounties payable in respect of them are very small. In all other cases the bounties will be payable in respect of manufactured articles.
– Do not forget fibres?
– All the fibres will also require considerable treatment before the bonus on them can be paid. The farmer should be paid for what he grows and puts on his waggon for delivery to the person who is to treat It. To the farmers in the Minister’s electorate, as well as in that which I represent, and also in. South Australia and Western Australia, these bounties will be practically valueless. Very few will be able to take advantage of them. Whilst in themselves these bounties are good to a certain extent, do not let us delude the farmer into the belief that they are going to participate in their distribution, when the great bulk of them are not likely to do so. I believe, however, that these proposals will do good. The Government proposal, although not altogether on the lines that I favour, is in the right direction. In making this, our first attempt to encourage primary industries, we should take care that we start on sound lines. Another point is that the Bill itself is a mere skeleton. The whole body of the proposals wilt lie in the regulations.
– It is like all Bills introduced by the Government.
– And good regulations, too.
– This is another illustration of the character of the legislation we are passing. Skeleton Bills are passed, and everything that is to be done under them is defined in regulations drawn up by officials. There is no proposal that the regulations under this Bill shall be placed! before Parliament. We do notknow what shape they will take, or whether they will carry out the object we have in view. They will be framed at the will of the Minister. The honorable gentleman says that he will invite the co-operation of the experimental farms, but he is to have supreme power under this Bill. He is to prescribe who may be employed, what wages shall be paid, what acreage is to be cultivated, and what bounties shall be paid, and he is also to fix the time that must elapse between the growth of the product and its manufacture in a form to warrant payment of” the bounty. He is to halve a still greater power - the power, at his own sweet will, to divert a bounty from one product to another. These powers are too great. I hold that the regulations under this Bill should be submitted to the House and that the whole scheme should be subject to proper supervision. We have no indication, however, that that course is to be followed. In the face of these drawbacks to what are otherwise good proposals, what farmer is going to risk his time and money in seeking to earn the bounty? If bounties are to be given, let them be allocated between the various parties instrumental in placing these new products on the market. If that be not done, the whole scheme will fail. The farmers will not take it up, but we shall have a combination of farmers audi manufacturers making arrangements to secure the bounties. Wealthy people who can afford to buy the necessary land, employ the requisite labour, and wait until the result of their work appears in the shape of the manufactured article, when they can claim the bounty, will take up these proposals. The ordinary working farmer, whom this Bill is intended to help, will not participate in the bounties except to the verysmallest extent. The provisions in regard to the employment of coloured labour are somewhat ludicrous. It is interesting to learn that a man who has one white parent may be employed in producing any of these articles, but I do not know why ethnological problems should be submitted to us in a Bill of this character. A man with one white parent will have a chance, but who is to prescribe the degree of whiteness necessary to enable a man to participate in these bounties? Perhaps, it will be necessary to produce a certificate of marriage.
– I presume that the honorable member does not desire that Hindoos shall be engaged in producing rice on which the bounty ‘is paid.
– No; but under this Bill a coloured man, even if he employs white labour in producing one of the articles on which a bounty is to be paid, will not be allowed to participate in it. A coloured man from a country where some of these products are grown might be disposed to come here, purchase an area of land, and produce some of these articles by white labour ; but he would be unable to secure the bounty. . If we hamper these proposals in such an. arbitrary way, we shall probably deter people from embarking on these new industries. Our ordinary immigration restriction laws should deal with these matters, instead of their being dealt with in a measure for the advancement of the industrial welfare of Australia. It- has yet to be shown whether white labour earn successfully grow these products in the north, where many of them can be raised. Throughout the rest of the world many of these products are grown bv coloured men, and it is with the products of these men, living under the lowest conditions, that we shall have to compete. The Minister has obtained some information with regard to the production of rice, which is undergoing great changes in the United States of America. In the Carolinas and other parts of the United States, where rice is grown on swamps near the seashore, the sea has encroached on lands previously used for rice cultivation, and rendered it totally unfit for that purpose. As the result of this encroachment the rice-growers have been obliged to go to the uplands of Louisiana and Texas - not California, as the Minister said - and to form artificial swamps there for their crops. Rice must be grown in swamps. It has to be planted in water, and after that water has been allowed to remain for a certain time it must be drained off. lini America they have made great levees, and have placed on the rivers immense pumping plants, because the water has to be flooded over the land very quickly, and got rid of again at the proper time with equal rapidity. In this way rice is being grown which is equal to that grown in any other part of the world. The labour employed does not consist entirely of white men, much of it being Chinese and Japanese, while, in some cases, European aliens are engaged. There is nothing to prevent us from growing rice in Australia in a similar manner; but what stimulus will the offering of a bounty of £1,500 a year be to the industry ? I believe that in the electoral division of the Hume, and in other parts of Riverina, the growing of rice could well be carried on under conditions such as I have described ; but the offer of a bounty of £1,500 per annum will not stimulate the industry, .’because those embarking in it will require a large amount of capital in order to obtain land, to make it ready for their operations, and to erect the machinery necessary for pumping water upon it. Formerly, the granting of bounties was the free-trade method of encouraging production, which the protectionists used to condemn. When the giving of bounties was first proposed in the Victorian Parliament, it was condemned by many sincere protectionists, being looked upon as a freetrade device, preventing the imposition of duties. I am therefore surprised tha-t the free-traders are resisting these proposals - especially since John Stuart Mill, the great apostle of free-trade, recommended the bounty system. .
– Is there a split in the camp ?
– I do not know. I am not in the councils of the free-traders. It may be said that it is easy to criticise ; but what would you propose? I desire to put forward my proposals with all modesty and diffidence. I think there is a more excellent way in which money could be spent to assist the agricultural development of this country. The Minister sought to recommend the Bill by referring to a number of countries which give bounties. He named. Hungary, Brazil, Chili, France, Portugal, and Russia. I do not think we should follow on the lines pursued by those countries, where labour receives the very lowest payment. They are not countries whose example we should follow in trying to develop Australia. We should rather look to those parts of the world where agriculture has greatly progressed, and whose peoples are now in the front rank of the world’s producers. We shall find that they do not give bonuses. I do not recommend that we should slavishly copy the example of any country; but we should carefully examine all successful attempts to assist agriculture, in order to see if we cannot profit thereby. The countries which have made the greatest agricultural progress are Germany and America.
– Not France ?
– Not to the same extent as the other two. France is a country of very small holdings, where assistance has been given to the small man ; but the assistance proposed to be given by the Government -would not, I think, go to small men. One word alone will explain’ the progress and development of the countries I have named, and that word is “ education.” They have educated their people by means of experimental investigations, having thus built up a sound and scientific method of agriculture. If we consider the work of Liebig, in Germany, in regard to the chemistry of the soils, and the discovery of the fertilizers necessary to make them useful, and to restore the waste that is continually going on, we must recognise the great utility of his labours, not only to Germany, but also to the rest of the world. The first experimental station in Germany was started at Moeckern in 1851, and since that time practical experiments, coupled with chemical investigations, have enabled the country to progress by leaps and bounds.. There are now seventy experimental stations in Germany, designed to assist the farmers of that country. Germany was the first country where an attempt was made to discover the true relations between chemistry and agriculture. America has, followed suit, and is battering the instruction it has received. Washington himself saw clearly what the development of agriculture would mean to that country, and in 1796, in his address to Congress, said -
It will not be doubted, with reference either to industrial or national welfare, that agriculture is of primary importance. In proportion as nations advance in population, and other circumstances of maturity, this truth becomes apparent, and renders the cultivation of the soil more and more an object of public patronage.’
Although America was slow to adopt these views, when it took the matter in hand it went ahead very fast. The first experimental station there was established in 1875. By 1886 twelve stations had been established, and now there are in the United States over sixty stations, with a staff of about 700 persons, nearLy all of whom are scientific teachers. At these stations every branch of agriculture receives attention, from the first operations in connexion with’ the treatment of the soil, to all details connected with plant and animal life and their diseases. Whereas in this country agriculture is. an industry conducted at random, the sport of season and circumstance, in America the work of the farmer is carried on in accordance with well-defined” scientific principles. The investigations of the experimenting stations cover, amongst other things, the perfecting of machinery and implements, the fertilizing of the soil, the suitability of soils to crop, drainage, seepage, irrigation, methods of cultivation, rotation of crops, feeding and digestion experiments, and the value of different kinds of food for various kinds of stock, laboratory investigations of diseases of plants, the introduction of drought-resisting seeds and plants into arid areas, and the crossing of plants to secure stock which will suit special conditions. The effect of these wide investigations has been to put America in the front rank as an agricultural country, and it has been brought about by the efforts of far-seeing men, among whom is Justin S. Morrill, who, in 1862, had 11,000,000 acres set aside for experimental purposes. He was followed by W. H. Hatch, who brought in a Bill instituting experimental stations. Later on Morrill obtained a further grant, sp that now each experimental station receives 25,000 dollars a year from Congress, while they are also assisted by the- States. I visited one or two of them, and saw the work which they are doing. They have sent trained men all over America, who assist the agriculturists when in- difficulty or trouble, by putting them on the right road, and keeping them there. At the Department of Agriculture, in Washington, scores of letters are received every day from farmers from all parts of the Continent. The officials deal with the matters referred to in these letters, or remit them to experimental stations, from which experts are Sent to ascertain the cause of the trouble, and to put matters right again. The work of the experimental stations was crowned by the establishment of a Federal Department of Agriculture, which is what we require in Australia. That Department was established in 1862 ; but it did not attain its full measure of usefulness until, in 1897, it was reorganized by Secretary Wilson, who had been Senator Wilson, of Ohio. I had the pleasure of meeting him a short time ago. He brought the Department to such a pitch of perfection that now there is no institution of the kind elsewhere which equals it, or whose work will compare with that done by it. There is no matter affecting agriculture with which it does not deal. . There has recently been added a Bureau of Rural Engineering, which will be a most valuable branch of the Department. Experiments have been made as to the best implements for dealing with various classes of soils, and especially for the cultivation of arid soils. The circumstances of Australia are similar to those of the United States. Although the area of the United States is so large, they are as hard pushed there to find land for the people as we are in Victoria. The good country lying to the eastward of the 96th meridian, which divides the humid from the arid area, is all taken up, while to the westward there is a tract over 500 miles wide by 1,100 miles long, with a rainfall declining from twenty inches to nothing. The problem of America, during the last seven or eight years”; has been how to get this arid country settled. Every effort has been made by the Central Department of Agriculture, and by the experimental stations, to obtain a solution of this problem, by discovering means whereby the land can be farmed with some certainty of a profitable return. The farmers there have been taught how to store the moisture in the soil by proper cultivation, how to use the winter floods, how to bore for wells, and what are the best implements for deep cultivation. Professor Campbell has been fourteen years at the Nebraska University, doing nothing else but investigate the problems raised by the dry area, with a view to ascertaining how best to keep moisture in the soil, what are the best means of cultivation, and how it can be used to most advantage. In 1899, they sent men all over the world to obtain drought-resisting seeds. These agents brought back with them from the plains of the Volga, from Siberia, Algiers, and other places, wheat, oats, maize, grass, sorghum, and various other seeds, which have been distributed throughout the droughty areas. As one consequence the wheat-producing area has, since the beginning of the century, been extended 200 miles further west, I saw beautiful crops being grown in country which enjoyed only a 12-inch rainfall.
– We are growing good crops in South Australia on country that has only that rainfall.
– Yes, under the example df America.
– It all depends upon when the rain falls.
– That is where the honorable member makes a mistake. Under the system of cultivation adopted in the United States, the ground is kept open and the moisture is able to find its way well below the surface, and remain stored there for the use of the plants till they come to perfection. I am quoting these cases to show that it is desirable that we should educate our people as to the best method’s of cultivation, and the proper crops to grow, rather than bring in proposals intended to encourage the cultivation of only a few products. I dc not say that the Government proposals are wrong. They will probably be productive of much good, but I contend that under present circumstances, we should consider first measures that would be calculated to help the country further ahead. It is our first duty to assist those who are occupying our dry areas, who are fighting against drought, and dust, and hot winds, and all the discomforts that attach to life in the interior. We shouldshow them - as other countries are doing - how they can increase production, and make life bearable. In the State of Utah, which has about the same area as Victoria, namely, about 83.000 square miles, :not 1 per cent, of the land is under irrigation. It was thought that the rest of the territory was practically useless except for the rearing of rough stock, but by means of diligent cultivation and deep soiling, much of the area that was held in such low estimation is being rendered productive. In 1903, Dr. Widstoe, the chemist at the Experimental Farm, at Logan, Utah, joined with Professor Morrill, the agronomist, in recommending to Governor Heber that experimental stations should be established in various parts of the State. This suggestion was brought before the State Legislature, and was forthwith adopted. Senator Whitmore joined with the experts mentioned in selecting six sites in country that had ‘been deemed almost valueless, and in each case forty acres were tenced in at the cost of the country, which also found the land. The experimental stations were located in places where the soil contained 40 or 50 per cent, of gravel, or 60 per cent, of sand, or clay and other unpromising elements. In the lol lowing season, crops averaging from twenty down to four bushels of wheat were obtained, and the results were quite a revelation to the people of the Stare.
– What rainfall had they?
– Seventeen or 18 inches in some places, and only 8 or 9 inches in others. 0
– We are growing wheat under a 9-inch rainfall in some parte of South Australia.
– That is not being done in many cases. It has been established beyond doubt that nearly the whole of the area in Utah that was regarded as practically worthless can be cultivated with profit, and large tracts of country are being settled by persons who know that under a proper system of tillage they can feel assured of obtaining a return for their money. This matter is of greater importance than my remarks up to the present might indicate. This is not merely a matter of consequence to us, but is an Imperial question also. When I was in the old country I was a strong advocate of preferential trade, but I found veryfew people who agreed with me, because nearly a.11 those I met were free-traders, who thought that a duty on foodstuffs would ruin the country. I was asked if we could guarantee to supply Great Britain with all the food-stuffs she required, and I was told, “ If you will guarantee to. supply all our needs in the way of foodstuffs, and thus render us independent of foreign countries, we are prepared to adopt a preferential Tariff, and place you in a position of advantage as compared < with other countries.” It seems to me that the solution of the question lies in the utiliza tion of our enormous areas of country, which, under improved methods of cultivation, could be made productive. I am not opposed to the granting of bonuses, but I think that we should- devote our attention to the larger question. We should cooperate with the States Governments in conducting experimental stations, and should place the work of such stations to a very great extent under “State supervision. We should endeavour to show our agriculturists how to successfully grow different products. If we once did this, and demonstrated that certain products could .be grown with profit, we should -not need to grant bonuses. The enterprise of our settlers would be sufficient to bring about the production of all that we require, and a great deal more. I would ask honorable members which would be the best plan to adopt : to educate our people up to the point necessary to enable them to profitably utilize our large waste areas, or to grant bounties and largesse to a comparatively few?
– The, first matter is largely one for the States.
– No doubt; but we must work with the States, which are now struggling along in the best way they can. New South Wales and Victoria are doing fairly well, but the other States are doing but “little.
– South Australia is also doing very good work.
– Perhaps so; but we should approach the States, as has been done in America, and offer to contribute towards the expense of conducting experimental stations designed to promote the development of the country. The States would have to find the land and the buildings, but the Commonwealth should grant them a certain sum extending over a term of years. Thev would then be stimulated to make use of their resources to a much greater extent.
– Would’ the honorable member make grants out of the surplus revenue of the Commonwealth ?
– It is now proposed to spend £500,000 during the next ten years in the .encouragement of a very few industries. I do not object to that. But I contend that there is a larger work before us, which, if it received adequate consideration, would be attended with very much more important results.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Fisher) adjourned.
– I move -
That so much of standing order No. 241 as provides for the question being put on every third Thursday, “ That the Speaker do now leave the Chair,” on the Order of the Day for Committee of Supply or Ways and Means, be suspended for the remainder of the session.
I submit this motion, because within the next few days the “Budget speech will be delivered, and the Estimates laid on the table. The discussions that will take place in, Committee of Supply will afford honorable members the fullest opportunity for ventilating any grievances they may have, or of. debating any and every question relating to the affairs of the Commonwealth. We have, owing to the lapse of motions during the last few weeks, been enabled to avail ourselves of a small portion of the time usually devoted to private business, and do not yet propose to ask honorable members to forego the privilege now enjoyed by them on one afternoon each week. I hope, however, that the provision, on the notice-paper for the so-called “ grievance day “ will be allowed to disappear for the remainder of the session. We have a great amount of work to do, and I am sure that it is desired in all quarters that “we should close the session at the “earliest possible moment, consistent with the transaction of the business now remaining. I should have been loth to submit this motion if I had thought honorable members would be denied an opportunity to consider various details arising from time to time in connexion with the administration of the Departments; but I think that the discussion upon the Estimates will afford every facility for the ventilation of grievances. I trust, therefore, that honorable members will make the sacrifice - if any sacrifice is involved - with a good grace, and assist the Government to make this, the last session of the present Parliament, as fruitful as possible.
– I shall offer no objection to the motion. I recognise- that it is desirable that we should conclude our labours as soon as possible. At the same time there is much important work to be done - perhaps the most important that has yet engaged our attention. I trust, therefore, that the Government will afford us an opportunity at the earliest possible moment to fully and freely discuss the matters which must engage our attention before the session is closed.
– To what business does the honorable member refer?
– To the reports of the Tariff Commission, of course. We already have some reports upon the Tariff which I think should be disposed of without further delay. I recognise that the Government are responsible for the conduct of business, but I venture to say that they are adopting a wrong course in this matter, and that they will inevitably be led into a difficulty at a later stage. I agree with the Prime Minister that the Budget debate will furnish honorable members with every opportunity for the ventilation of grievances. At the same time, I consider that we are making a sacrifice in surrendering “ grievance day,” and I am glad that it is proposed merely to suspend the Standing Orders, and not to abolish that’ institution. I knew nothing of “ grievance day “ before I came to Victoria, but in my judgment it is a very useful institution, and but for its existence numerous adjournment motions would be moved and much time would be wasted. If time were not consumed in this way grievances would be ventilated as they arise, and .more time would thus be occupied. At any rate, that is my experience, extending over a good many years. However, I hope that the surrender of private members’ day will afford the Government a further opportunity of disposing of the remaining business of the session. My advice to them is that they should make up their minds speedily as to the particular business which is to be transacted, take the House into their confidence by letting honorable members know the task which they have to perform before they separate, and then, no doubt, the Prime Minister will be able to command the co-operation of everybody concerned in an endeavour to deal with it in some shape or form.
– Is the honorable member anxious to get on to the Tariff?
– I dare say that I am quite as anxious. as is the honorable member. I am sure that he will be with us when the Tariff is under consideration, and that he will be prepared to give it that attention which it undoubtedly deserves. I again urge upon the Government the desirableness- of taking the House into their confidence, and of making an earnest effort to wind up the session as early as it is possible to do so. The best way to accomplish that is to let honorable members know exactly what they are expected to do, so that 1,Ve may address ourselves to the task of disposing of the business at an early date. I do not think that the Government can complain of the attitude which the Opposition have adopted this session. We forfeited our privileges entirely in connexion with the debate upon the AddressinReply. We did so in the interests of public business.
– It was due entirely to an accident that that debate was not prolonged.
– I hope that the honorable member will get that idea out of his mind at once. No charge can lie at the door of the Opposition this session on account of the attitude which they have assumed towards Government business. Take the present week as an example. Very little of the discussion has emanated from members upon this side of the House. The bulk of the debate upon the mail contract to Europe has come from- the Labour corner. It was quite a refreshing change to see the members of that party taking a keen interest in the debates of the Chamber. However, the mail contract has now been disposed of, and therefore we may expect to see them once more assume their attitude of wonted calm and philosophic consideration. I sincerely hope that the action which the Government are taking will result in a speedy close of the session, so that we may all betake ourselves to the crossing of that swelling political Jordan into which we must soon plunge. I concur in the proposal of the Prime Minister.
– I do not agree with the view which has been expressed by the deputy leader of the Opposition in regard to the value of grievance day. In my opinion, it is the weakest link in our parliamentary procedure. In saying that, I am not merely expressing my own opinion,, but that of some very shrewd judges. They avow that they do not exaggerate when they say that, in connexion with grievance day, they have heard more drivel talked than they have ever listened to in any other deliberative assembly. I should have been much better pleased if the Prime Minister had proposed to abolish grievance day altogether. It is quite true that the adoption of that course might give rise to the discussion of an occasional motion of adjournment. But that is the way in which an important matter should be dealt with. It ought not to be sandwiched between a proposal, probably for the mending of the village pump, and another, perhaps, for sticking a postage stamp upon a sign board of the Commonwealth. I trust that when we obtain our new standing orders grievance day will entirely disappear from our procedure.
.- I would point out that by the adoption of this motion the Prime Minister will gain only one evening in a month - in other words, a few hours. I think, therefore, that he would be acting wisely if he extended his proposal so as to make it cover the whole of private members’ day. There are twoclasses of private members’ business, namely, that which is important, and that which is unimportant. The unimportant motions need not be considered:, and sufficient time will not be available to enablethe important questions to be dealt with. In a few weeks - perhaps in a month - the Prime Minister will be required to submit another proposal in favour of dispensing entirely with private members’ business during the remainder of the session. Instead of making two bites at a cherry, he might just as well extend his motion so as to make it embrace the whole of private members’ business.
.- Regarding the suggestion of the honorable” member for Echuca, that the Prime Minister should move in favour of the abolition of private members’ business for the remainder of the session, I should like to ask what course the Government intend to adopt in reference to the motion of the honorable member for Moreton relating tothe appointment of a Lieutenant-Governor for Papua. That motion is a very important one, and I desire to know if the Prime Minister will afford the House an opportunity of further considering it, and of coming to a division upon it.
– I entertain much the same view of grievanceday as does the honorable member for Wide Bay. I regard it as practically a waste of time, because any legitimate grievance can be ventilated upon the motionfor the adjournment of the House, or - if it were necessary to do so - by submitting a motion for a special adjournment. T should1 like the Prime Minister to ask private members to entirely forego the consideration of their business. I presume that we shall soon have very important business to deal with. 1 Free-traders and protectionists alike must recognise the urgency which exists for dealing with the reports of the Tariff Commission. For the sake of accomplishing that object, I think that honorable members would be prepared to forego the consideration of their own private business for the remainder of the session. I wish to embrace this opportunity to again urge upon the Prime Minister the necessity for dealing with, the reports of the Tariff Commission as soon as possible. It seems to me a great anomaly that honorable members sitting behind the Government should daily devote hours outside of this House to emphasizing the necessity which exists for Tariff reform, and still be content to take no action in this Chamber, where some practical result might accrue from their efforts.
– What can be done at present ?
– Cannot we proceed with the consideration of the reports which are already to hand? There are three reports to which the members of the Tariff Commission have unanimously agreed.
– They will provide only half-an-hour’s work for the House.
– What reports are they - the reports dealing with spirits?
– What were the illustrations which the honorable member for Bourke himself used last session, when he declared that men were being thrown out of employment as the result of the closing down of works? No other factories in the Commonwealth had been closed except those to which reference is made in the reports already presented by the Tariff Commission.
– Oh, yes.
– The matter should be settled without delay. I think that the honorable member for Bourke would be making much better use of his own time if, instead, of going round the suburbs of Melbourne preaching the necessity for Tariff reform, he attempted to accomplish something in this House. I do not wish to apply mv remarks to the Prime Minister, because he was not so persistent out of season as were some of my honorable friends opposite in urging the necessity for Tariff revision. I believe that he is sincere in the matter, and I hope that he will show his sincerity by asking honorable mem bers to forego their private business for the rest of the session, so that the question of Tariff reform may be dealt with at the earliest possible moment.
.- Whilst I am prepared to support the motion of the Prime Minister, I am opposed to the idea that private members’ day should be entirely dispensed with. I was very much surprised at the attitude taken up by’ the honorable member for Echuca, especially in view oj the fact that a few weeks ago he objected to postpone a motion which he had upon the business-paper to enable honorable members to witness a very important experiment in connexion with the transmission of the first Marconi message to Tasmania. Upon that occasion he urged that his proposal was of such serious public import that it did not admit of any delay. I note that it is now set down for consideration upon 2nd August. If it were important previously it is equally important now, so that the honorable member, by making it appear that private members’ business is of no consequence, has practically condemned his own proposal. I agree with the remarks which have been made regarding the wisdom of abolishing grievance day, because I hold that any important matter can and should be ventilated upon a motion for adjournment.
.- I think it goes without saying, that the motion will have the unanimous support of the House, since we shall have ample opportunity to discuss any grievances under which we labour. I desire to pay my tribute of respect to the new-bom zeal displayed by the honorable member for Gippsland for an early discussion of the Tariff.
– Why new-born? I was a protectionist, I believe, before the honorable member was.
– I have still ringing in my ears the sound of the honorable member’s voice when in emphatic terms he announced, on an historical occasion, that he was pledged1 above all things not to reopen the Tariff question during the life of this Parliament.
– I have not made such a pledge.
– The honorable member cried for fiscal peace.
– I had no occasion to give a pledge to my constituents ; I was accorded a walk-over.
– The words to which I refer are reported! in Hansard. They were used in this House bv the honorable member.
– In relation to the agreement which ti” s Prime Minister made with the party with which I was acting,. At
– I am referring, not to agreements, but to statements made in this House. I have no quarrel with the honorable member; I have nothing but admiration and respect for him, and I wish to pay my tribute to his new-born enthusiasm in the cause of Tariff reform.
– It is not new-born enthusiasm. I favored the appointment of the Tariff Commission in order that grievances might be investigated and settled.
– That was the position of affairs about eighteen months ago. As to the claim that the Government should immediately bring before the House the recommendations of the Tariff Commission, it is scarcely necessary to remind the honorable member that he announced to the Commonwealth or.lv twelve months ago that, in his opinion, this Parliament should be forthwith buried.
– It would have been a great deal better for it had it been buried.
– We should have had a glorious resurrection.
– The honorable member for Parramatta must admit that since then we have passed very useful legislation.
– Does the honorable member think that his remarks relate to the motion ?
– I do, sir. The Prime Minister has asked us to forego the right of dealing with grievances on the formal motion, “ That the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply,” so that I shall not have another opportunity to refer to this matter. I have been asked point blank what attitude I shall take up when certain proposals are submitted to the House. The honorable member for. Gippsland ‘knows very well what my attitude will be. I merely desire to say, as has been stated bv the. honorable member’s leader - the leader of the Opposition-
– The honorable member has 110 authority for asserting that the right honorable member for East Sydney is my leader. I agree with him on one important question.
– I am only seeking; information. I was under the impression that the honorable member for Gippsland had as one of his colleagues in the late Government the present leader of the Opposition.
– And a. straight colleague he was.
– I am still under the impression that the honorable member is sitting in Opposition, and supporting the right honorable member for East Sydney in his desire to defeat the present Government at the first opportunity.
– I am very reluctant to interrupt the speech qf an honorable member, but I fail to see what relation the remarks now being made by the honorable member for Moira have to the motion under consideration. If he can connect them I shall be pleased, but otherwise I cannot allow him to proceed on these lines.
– I shall connect them with the motion. The honorable member for Gippsland announced that he supported the motion because he thought that the time devoted to the consideration of grievances might well be devoted to the discussion of other business, which, he. suggested, should be submitted by the Prime Minister. I feel sure that the Prime Minister will take advantage of the opportunity, and that, if reliance can be placed in the preaching of the Opposition during this session, the recommendations of the Tariff Commission can be dealt with in one day. We have the statement of the leader of the Opposition that he would have no hesitation in accepting any unanimous proposals made by the Commission. So far, the only reports submitted relate to distillation of spirits, wines, and industrial alcohol, and the recommendations with regard to those items are unanimous. That being so, when thev are submitted to the House we should be able to deal with them in a few hours.
– Would it take longer now than at any other time to deal with them?
– Speaking generally, so far as I can judge at present, I have no fault to find with the recommendations of the Commission.
– Is the honorable member in favour of postponing the consideration of the Tariff?
– That question does not arise at present.
– The honorable member will try to pump life into it when the general election comes round.
– That is not the question. I am not attempting to forestall the reports of the Commission. We ought to be able to deal with those already submitted without much discussion, since they have been unanimously arrived at. Consequently, until further reports are presented, there should be no insane desire for the question to be submitted at this stage, more especially as we are engaged on other useful work.
– In surrendering grievance day, honorable members are not depriving themselves of a chance of extemporizing grievances on matters not altogether of public interest.
– All grievances are extemporized.
– I say that they are, because I think the evil lies in allowing grievance day to recur at regular intervals. In my opinion, much exception can be taken to that practice. Here, as in many other Parliaments, grievances can be ventilated when the Estimates are under consideration ; that gives honorable members an opportunity to improvize them.
– On grievance day we have largely a waste of time.
– I do not wish to say what is the effect of the present practice, because I seldom take part in the debates on grievance day. I hope, however, that the Prime Minister will consider the suggestion of some of his protectionist friends that advantage should be taken of the opportunity afforded by the surrender of grievance day to deal with the reports of the Tariff Commission. Being a teetotaller, I spent last Sunday in reading its reports, with respect to alcohol and the distillation of spirits anticipating that the whole question might be raised by a deputation that I had arranged to receive on the following day. The deputation consisted of five representatives of the vignerons of South Australia, who showed that there were certain serious defects in the unanimous report of the Commission in relation to the Question of allowing brandy to be made of anything but pure grape spirit. The recommendation, if it is a recommendation will receive very serious opposition from the representatives of South Australia. I rose merely to point out that the; House must not imagine that because a report has been unanimously arrived at, it must necessarily be perfect. The bulk of the report in question may be accepted, but I have pointed out one matter to which objection can certainly be taken.
– The effect of the proposal on the revenue will also have to be considered.
– That is so. As the general election is now close at hand’, it is almost a pity that the honorable member for Gippsland and the honorable member for Moira should begin to have differences of opinion as to the urgency of considering the Tariff reports at this stage.
– I have listened with great interest, to the remarks made by the honorable member for Gippsland in supporting the Prime Minister’s proposal, and he will pardon me if I say that his zeal appears to arise from party considerations.
– If the honorable member thinks so, I will admit it, because he must be a past master of the art.
– The honorable member made a great deal of the reports before the Government. As a matter of fact, only one report has been presented, but it is divided into three parts. I am just as anxious as the honorable member can be that that report shall be dealt with. His talk about working up feeling outside comes with an ill-grace from him since he is doing his best to work upparty feeling and strife.
– And against the Protectionist party.
– Continually against the party for whose interests he professes so much anxiety.
– He does not go round the factories jamming protection down the throats of the workers instead of allowing them to have their lunch.
– They take the jam all right. My honorable friend said the other day, he desiredto get the Tariff question out of the way so that he might have a fair fight. Against whom? Against the very people whose interests he professes to have at heart.
– Is the honorable member discussing the motion?
– I am going to connect my remarks with it by saying that the honorable member’s zeal in regard to the carrying of this motion is largely a pretence and a sham.
– I withdraw the remark.
– Last session the honorable member was continually moving the adjournment of the House to urge that the Tariff should be dealt with.
– I moved the adjournment of the House on one memorable occasion two years ago, and since then, the necessity for my action has been amply demonstrated.
– Since then the honorable member’s zeal has cooled.
– I can assure my honorable friend that I am just as anxious as he is that the fiscal question shall be settled, and settled, not on free-trade lines, but properly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Austin Chapman) tenth concurrence, agreed to -
That the resolution of the House approving, with modifications, the agreement made and entered into on the 7th day. of July, 1906, between the Postmaster-General, in and for the Commonwealth, and Sir James Laing and Sons, Limited, for the carriage of mails between Adelaide and Brindisi, be communicated by Message to the Senate, and their concurrence desired therein.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I may assure the honorable member for Gippsland that the Government will take care that the order of business shall not prevent the effective consideration of the recommendations of the Tariff Commission to which he referred, and of any others that can be dealt with in a reasonable time. The arrangements adopted so far have been due to the need for keeping the Senate fully employed, and, in order to concentrate attention on questions which may be related. For thatand no other reason the excise proposals were not proceeded with immediately. After the delivery of the Budget, they may, possibly, be dealt with in the light of the information conveyed by the Treasurer to better advantage than would have been the case had they been brought forward earlier.
– What is the business for Tuesday ?
– The Budget, and then the continuation of the debate on the second reading of the Bounties Bill. I have found a copy of the condition to which I referred last night as included in a British contract. I should have said that it was included in a draft contract, submitted to us by the British Government, which arrived just before the publication of our advertisement for tenders for the present mail service. I will read the condition, so that honorable members may see how closely it has been followed in article 36 of the proposed contract -
The Admiralty may at any time during the continuance of the contract, if they shall consider it necessary for the public interest, purchase any of the mail ships at a valuation, or charter the same exclusively for His Majesty’s service, at a rate of hire to be agreed with the contractors or, failing agreement, to be settled by arbitration, and the contractors shall not sell any mail ship to any body or person other than the Admiralty without first giving the Admiralty a reasonable opportunity of purchasing the same.
The alterations which we have made are these. For “Admiralty” we substitute “ Postmaster-General.”
– A fundamental difference.
– The change shows the difference between the objects aimed at in the two contracts.
– Both are postal contracts, but, while the Admiralty is to act for the British Government, the PostmasterGeneral is to act for this Government, as we have no Admiralty Department. The words “ if they should consider it necessary for the public interest “ were omitted, as, in our opinion, surplusage. We have also omitted the words “ exclusively for His Majesty’s Service “ as unnecessary, and the words “ body or,” because under our Act the word “ person “ includes a body of persons.
– The condition is the same as that in the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company’s contract, which I read last night.
– There are some differences, and this provision comes closer to our article 36 than any other, because we have adopted, ‘as far as possible, its very words. The matter is of importance only as showing that we were correct in claiming to have followed a British precedent. This is the latest British precedent obtainable. It arrived towards the close of last year, and the only important change made by us in adopting its wording has been the substitu- tion of the Postmaster-General for the Admiralty as the authority who shall make any purchase. We have no Admiralty here, and had, therefore, to substitute some other authority. We chose the PostmasterGeneral as most appropriate.
– My reply to the Prime Minister, in the first place, is that the condition which he has. read is only an extract from a contract.
– I have read the whole of the condition.
– The setting of the condition may entirely alter its effect.
– There are no limitations and no setting.
-The wording of the condition is the same as that of the condition in the Cunard contract, which was read last night; but there were other provisions in the contract relating to the schedule.
– There are no others in this.
– The schedule set out made it plain that the Admiralty was to take this action solely for war purposes.
– There is no schedule in this case.
– I make the honorable and learned gentleman a present of that contention. The important distinction between the condition which he has read and that in the proposed contract is that, in the British condition, only the Admiralty may purchase ships.
– We have no Admiralty.
– The English Postmaster-General could not purchase, or even charter, a vessel under this provision. The contract is wholly opposed to the purchase, so far as the Postmaster-General is concerned ; but the Admiralty may step in and acquire any of the mail-ships if it is thought to be in the public interest to do so. Need anything more be said on the matter. I challenge the honorable and learned gentleman to put a similar provision into his contract.
– The provision in out contract was adopted from’ the one which I have read. We could not arrange for action by the Admiralty.
– We can substitute the Minister of Defence for the Admiralty.
– That would make no differecce. The Minister of Defence, like the Postmaster-General, would do what the Government told him to do.
– Surely the purposes for which any purchase may be made can be declared.
– I challenge the Prime Minister to let us see the full setting; of this provision.
– I will show the honorable member the other conditions, though they do not affect that which I have read.
– There is a similar provision in the Cunard contract; but it is affected by anotherprovision.
– There is no other provision in this case relating either to a subvention or a schedule.
-The material point is that under the British contract, the Imperial Postmaster-General cannot purchase or charter any mail steamers’.
– That is only because they have a Admiralty to make their pur-
Mr.JOSEPH COOK.-The reason why the power of purchase is given to the Admiralty, and not to the Postmaster-General, is obvious.
– I consider that the leaders of the House are fighting shadows in this matter.
– The honorable member’s colleagues did not say so last night.
Mr. FISHER.We are not founding our legislation on British precedents. The question between the Prime Minister and’ the honorable member for Parramatta seems: to be whether the mail-ships shall be purchased for the performance of any public service other than fighting.
– Whether the power to purchase should be given to provide for our defence, or to meet general socialistic purposes.
– We are a nation of peace, not a fighting people.
– And, therefore, do not need any provision of the kind.
– We have no need to announce to the world that we desire to have the right of purchase in order to obtain vessels for use in time of war, because we are not anxious to fight any one. The object of the contract, according to the statements which were made from all sides of the Chamber, is to obtain a mail service which will be as useful as possible in transporting Australian goods to markets at the lowest possible rates.
– To socialize the service.
– The honorable member can use any terms he likes to employ. The sooner we recognise principles which are sound, and follow them regardless of the bandying of words, the more likely are we to do good work for the people whom we represent.
.- According to the explanation of the Prime Minister, it would seem that the power of purchase is being given to the PostmasterGeneral as a mere accident, because we have no Admiralty to which to give that power. He would makeit appear that the object is, in both cases, the same. If this is so, it would surely be within the ability of the draftsman to declare that the mail steamers are to be purchased only for belligerent purposes. That could have been provided for without using the name of any Minister. In my opinion, the alteration has been made deliberately, with a view to giving the Commonwealth power to purchase the mail steamers forgeneral commercial purposes, as well as for defence. The Prime Minister’s explanation would make it appear that the Government did not intend to take that power, but were forced to do so because there is no Admiralty here.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 3.42 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 July 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1906/19060727_reps_2_32/>.