3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Acting Prime Minister yet in a position to answer the question which I asked yesterday ? Will he introduce a Bill to give the Government power to compel the importers of patent medicines to attach to them labels stating their component parts?
– In accordancewith my promise to the honorable member, I consulted with the law officers of the Crown to-day on the subject, and was advised that there is little doubt but that we have the power to do by regulation - I think under section 16 of the Commerce Act - what the honorable member desires; but such a regulation could not come into force within less than three months after it war proclaimed. If that is so, it will be unnecessary to introduce amending legislation. I gave a similar answer on a previous occasion, although I was afterwards told that we have not the necessary power.
– Is the Minister prepared, lo proclaim a regulation forthwith - to come into force three months hence - requiring that the ingredients of imported patent medicines shall be set forth on the labels attached to them?
– I am not going to answer a stand-and-deliver question like that. I shall not promise to do. anything forthwith at the direction of any honorable member. As I said on a previous occasion - arid my view is confirmed by. the opinion expressed to me today by the law officers of the Crown - what honorable members desire can be done without the introduction of art amending Bill, and it is my intention that it shall be done. If I find that I can carry out my promise to the honorable member for Barrier I shall do so.
– A resolution affirming: that it should be done was carried unanimously by the House.
– Do I understand from the Acting Prime Minister that he cannot, put into force the provisions of section 7. of the Commerce Act ? .
– I thought that the matter came under the provisions pf section 16 of the Act.
– Section .16 deals with such matters only incidentally. Sub-section 4 of section 7 enacts that -
No regulation under this section shall take effect until after the expiration of not less than three months from notification in the Gazette.
That provision refers to regulations prescribing the use of trade descriptions onsuch imports as have been referred to. If it is thought to be’ inapplicable to this case, is it the opinion of the law officers of the. Crown that action cannot be taken under section 52 of the Customs Act, which. provides that among the goods to be deemed “ prohibited “ are - all goods, the importation of which may be prohibited by proclamation?
Are there not also other provisions under which action can be taken ? If the matter is urgent, what is there to prevent the Minister from putting into force the provisions of the Customs Act, as has been done in other instances?
– I cannot be expected to give an immediate answer to a legal question like that. As to my powers under the Customs Act, I shall, if necessary, again take the advice of the law officers of the Crown.
– If the Acting Prime Minister finds that he has not the power either under the Commerce Act or the Customs Act to do what is required, will he introduce a Bill to give him that power ?
– I have said that I think that the introduction of an amending Bill is unnecessary.
– But if it is necessary?
– That is a supposititious case. The honorable member might go a long way in asking whether, if certain things cannot be done, certain other things will be done. It will be time enough to considerthe introduction of an amending Bill when I find that what is desired cannot be done under the present law. If I find that we have not now the necessary power, I shall make a statement to the House on the subject, and be prepared to answer any question put to me as regardsthe probability of the Government introducing an amending Bill. I can hardly be expected to answer such a question as the honorable member has just put, until the case to which he refers has arisen.
– On the10th inst., in reply to a question asked by the honorable member for Hunter, the PostmasterGeneral said -
I hope to make,within the next ten days, in accordance with a promise given to the honorable member for Maranoa, an announcement concerning reductions in telephone charges. When will he be prepared to take the House into his confidence in regard to this matter?
-In the course of a few days, when I have received information for which I have had to send to the various States.
– I wish to know from the Postmaster-General why the cost of telephone connexion in Norwood, a suburb of Adelaide, within 3 miles of the city, and containing a population of 30,000, is greater than in Glenelg, a suburb 6 miles from the city, and containing a population of about 3,000.
– There are scores of anomalies like that in New South Wales.
– Yes, and I believe some of them were brought about during the administration of the honorable member for Parramatta as PostmasterGeneral for the State.
– That is an absolutely untrue statement, and the honorable member knows it to be untrue.
– I must ask the honorable member for Parramatta to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it, and say that the statement is absolutely incorrect, and that the Postmaster-General knows it to be so.
– I shall obtain information on the subject, and give it to the House to-morrow. But I have doubts as to the incorrectness of ray statement. There is an anomaly in South Australia, and I am under the impression that it was created when the honorable member for Boothby was PostmasterGeneral of that State.
– Does not the Postmaster-General consider it more desirable to have uniformity in regard to old-age pensions than in regard to postage?
– I desire uniformity in regard to old-age pensions, and I have done as much as those who question me to bring it about.
– The honorable member has done nothing in that direction.
– Has the attention of the Acting Prime Minister been drawn to the newspaper report of the twentieth annual meeting of the shareholders of the Denton Hat Mills Company? The chairman in presenting his account of the com-‘ pany’s operations is reported to have said that -
The year had been more successful than he had anticipated. The last alteration in the Tariff, as regarded hats, was a reduction, but the effect of this was more in shifting trade from one source to another than towards any diminution. Trade had really been better.
– The honorable member should read the whole of his remarks.
– Will the Government, if it is not too late, consider these facts in connexion with their proposals for resuscitating the strangled industries of Australia, which, I take it, include* the hat industry ?
– I have not read the report, and am glad to find that the company is not losing money, although it may not be making the heavy profit which some people would like to see it make. I do not think that the honorable member expects an answer to his question now.
– Has the guarantee for £25,000 given in connexion with the cancelled mail contract yet been met ?
– I have no further information on the subject. When the honorable member last asked the question I told him that instructions ha!d been given to demand the payment of the ‘money in London, and, if it were not complied with, to take steps to enforce it.
– I desire to ask the PostmasterGeneral whether he has given instructions for a writ to be served in London upon the contractors for the European mail service, whose contract was recently cancelled, so that the amount of the guarantee which they provided may be recovered forthwith ?
– If the honorable member will be good enough to give notice of his question, I shall be only too pleased to furnish him with an answer.
– Has the attention of the Acting Prime Minister been drawn to a paragraph in to-day’s Age, which says that he received official intimation last night, from a responsible member of the Opposition corner, that it is the intention qf a member of the group sitting in that part of the House, to move an amendment of the Bounties Bill ? Did he receive such an intimation, and, if so, will he give the name of the honorable member who communicated it to him?
– Is the honorable member the leader of the corner party ?
– I am speaking on behalf of those sitting in the Opposition corner of the Chamber.
– The honorable member seems to be very touchy about the paragraph which I have seen. No member of the Opposition made a proposal or a statement to me on the subject; but the matter was freely discussed last night among members of the House.
– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the following letter, dated 10th April last, from Dr. Arthur, President of the New South Wales Immigration League -
Marshall Lyle, Esq., 159 Queen-street, Melbourne, Vic.
Dear Mr. Lyle. - We are putting boxes on the Himalaya and Medic, both leaving to-day. Can you do the same, or get your Government to do so? This is a splendid work, which requiries to be organized. All these hundreds of passengers are potential immigration agents. Don’t mix up immigration and land settlement in your pamphlet. In fact, rather issue two. In the immigration book everything must be couleur de rose. No hint of difficulty about getting land. You need not be afraid you will be rushed. Even when Queensland offered cheap farms in London, there was only one applicant. As regards land settlement for home (Victorian) consumption, you can he as pessimistic and as indignant as you please. The blacker the better, though don’t get too much on the line, “ What is the use of having the immigrants here, when we have nothing to offer them.” That would choke off subscriptions. Anyhow, don’t do anything to. frighten off immigrants, because competition for them is so keen in Europe, and even if conditions change for the better in Victoria you might find that it was of no avail, as you had given the place a bad reputation.
I also wish, to know whether the Government subsidize the League of which Dr. Arthur is President ; if so, what is the amount of the subsidy, and whether, in view of the tactics advocated in the above letter by Dr. Arthur, they will discontinue the subsidv?
– My attention has not been called to the letter, but I could not avoid seeing it - although I did not read it very carefully - in connexion with some unpleasantness that had occurred at a meeting in Sydney which was reported in the press. I do not know that the Government can take any action in regard to that letter, because Dr. Arthur is at liberty 4o write as he wishes.
– Will the Government subsidize a League which adopts tactics of that kind?
– Upon the businesspaper for to-day the honorable member for Newcastle has already placed a question relating to this very subject.
– His question has no reference to the payment of a subsidy.
– It has, and as an answer has been prepared, I think it would be better for honorable members to await that reply.
– I wish to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether there is any truth in the statement that great delay occurs in getting trade marks put through the Patent Office, and, if so, whether he wiLl see that the public are not subjected to inconvenience in that respect?
– An inquiry 5* proceeding at the present time regarding the Patent Office, and I think that the question referred to by the honorable member is being investigated. Only this morning a report reached me which I have not had time to carefully read, but its general effect is that the statements which have been made as to delays occurring in the Patent Office are not correct.
– Is it the intention of the Postmaster- General, as reported, if he cannot bring about penny postage throughout Australia, to increase the Victorian inland rate to twopence?
– I have every hope of carrying penny postage.
– “ Hope springs eternal in the human breast.”
– The honorable member does not rule the country as regards penny postage. It must be apparent to all that we must have uniform postage throughout Australia. We cannot continue to have a penny inland rate in one State and a twopenny inland rate in the others without serious injustice being done to those who pay the heaviest postage.
– I wish to ask the PostmasterGeneral if there is any reason why he cannot reply to the question which I have put . to him ? I desire to know whether, in’ the event of failure on the part of the Government to pass the Bill relating to penny postage, so as to secure uniform postal charges throughout Australia, he proposes to increase the postal rate in Victoria from one penny to twopence?
– As the honorable member is aware, the present rate of postage in Victoria is one penny, whereas the rate in South Australia - even if a letter has only to be carried from one side of the street to the other - is twopence. It seems to me that we must make the rate of postage throughout Australia uniform.
– I wish to ask the Postmaster-General whether he has yet received from any representative body in South Australia a request for a reduction in the postal rates levied there?
– I shall bc very glad to ascertain what bodies have made representations to me in regard to penny postage. I know that representations have been made from bodies all over Australia, and I have certainly read leading articles in the South Australian daily newspapers in favour of the adoption of penny postage.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral been informed by the South Australian Government that they are desirous of securing the advantages conferred by penny postage, and, if so, has he replied that they can have the benefit of that system so long as the State is prepared to pay for it?
– I should be very glad if the honorable member would give notice of his question. I should then be able to supply him with the information which he seeks.
– I again wish to ask the Postmaster-General - in the hope that I may obtain a definite answer - whether, in the event of failure on the part of the Government to secure the passing of the Bill relating to penny postage, he will propose an increase in the Victorian rate from one penny to twopence?
– The answer is “ No.” The policy of the Department as administered at present is “ progress tempered with prudence.” My idea of the proper thing to do is not to increase postal rates anywhere, but to reduce them to a uniform rate of one penny.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether the Government propose to proceed with the measure which was before the last Parliament, and which sought to amend the Postal Act in the direction of extending the facilities granted by the Department to post and telegraphic messengers, and particularly in the direction of extending the retiring age limit in certain cases?
– The honorable member refers to a Bill which was passed by this House during the last Parliament, but which failed to pass the Senate. I shall be glad to ask the Acting Prime Minister what are the intentions of the Government in this respect, and to give the honorable member an answer tomorrow. Personally, I should be very pleased to see the Bill passed.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence the following questions -
– The honorable member was good enough to inform the Acting Prime Minister of his intention to ask these questions, to which I have obtained the following replies -
Patent and Proprietary Medicines.
.-I desire to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, viz. : - “ The importation of patent and proprietary medicines without a full description of their component parts being stated on the labels or boxes.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
– I do not think that I can be charged with unnecessarily interfering with the conduct of business, because this is the first occasion since the inception of the Commonwealth Parliament upon which I have moved the adjournment of the House. I feel that the subject to which I desire to direct attention is one of very great importance, and if the Acting Prime Minister had been prepared to vouchsafe a more satisfactory reply to the question which I put to him this afternoon, I would not have adopted this course. But I think that I am justified in demanding a definite answer upon such a very important subject. In August of last year, I submitted a motion affirming that all patent and proprietary medicines imported into Australia should have clearly stated upon the labels or bottles the component parts of those medicines. After I had spoken to the question, the Minister of Trade and Customs replied. In the course of his remarks he stated -
I think that the Government already have power under the Commerce Act and its regulations to do all that the honorable member for Barrier wishes us to do, and if there is any weak point the deficiency can bemade good by the exercise of the powers conferred by section 52 of the Customs Act.
In the course of the speech which he delivered upon that occasion he said -
I am merely directing attention to the powers which the Government possesses under the Commerce Act.
– If they are not sufficient the Government should ask to have them increased.
– They are ample.
– I think that they are ample.
– I would” point out thai there are so many conversations proceeding in a loud tone in different parts of the Chamber that it is extremely difficult to follow the remarks of the honorable member for Barrier. I must ask honorable members either to cease their conversations or to conduct them in a much lower tone of voice.
– Immediately the Minister of Trade and Customs had concluded his remarks, Mr. McColl, who at that time represented Echuca, moved the adjournment of the debate. The House, however, with the exception of Mr. McColl, unanimously objected to its adjournment. Honorable members were clearly of opinion that the motion then under consideration was of more importance than was the business which was to follow. The debate was carried on for a considerable time, and in the end the motion was unanimously agreed to. Notwithstanding that fact, however, and despite the Minister’s statement in the concluding portion of his remarks that I had acted in the public interest in directing attention to the matter, and that the passing of the motion would strengthen his hands in giving effect to the wishes of Parliament, nothing has been done in the matter so far as I can ascertain. On the 25th of September last I again asked what steps had been taken by the Department to give effect to the resolution of the House. From Hansard I learn that a long replywas given to my question. A large number of Latin names were hurled at my inoffensive head - names that I am prepared to admit I can neither spell nor pronounce. But the_ latter portion of the answer stated that as regards infantile and artificial foods the Commerce regulations required a trade description to be applied stating the true description of the goods and their country or place of origin. It added that these regulations would come into operation on the 1st of January, 1907. When the Estimates were under consideration I again brought this question under the notice of the Minister, who, in the course of a somewhat vague and indefinite reply, said : -
I intend, as far as possible, to meet his request, and I am quite sure that the action I shall take will prove satisfactory to him.
Nothing short of the actual carrying out of the terms of the resolution passed by this House will be satisfactory to me. We were told that regulations relating to the introduction of patent and proprietary medicines would come into force on 1st January last, but although practically seven months have elapsed since that date nothing has been done. The resolution was adopted nearly twelve months ago, and the only assurance that we have from the Government is that something may be done, within the next three months, to give effect to it. The Minister, however, is not quite sure on the point. In view of the opinion expressed by honorable members during the debate on the motion which I submitted last year, and the statement then made by the Minister, I consider that we have been most unfairly treated. The question affecting, as it does, the lives and well-being of hundreds of people, is of much importance.
– It affects the well-being of many thousands.
– Quite so. The Government have invited the House to vote a bounty on the production of peanuts, and although that may be a matter of some importance, the safeguarding of the health of the people is of infinitely greater concern. If the Minister as the result of inquiry has ascertained that neither the Commerce Act nor the Customs Act enables him to take the action promised by him, he should make a plain statement of the facts to the House, and seek the power that he lacks. If he took that course, I am sure the Parliament would agree without any waste of time to vest him with the power to enable him to take decisive action. It is unnecessary for me this afternoon to dwell upon the necessity for giving effect to the resolution. I have no desire to take up a hostile attitude towards the Ministry, and, as I am sure honorable members are agreed as to the ill effect which many proprietary medicines have upon those who use them, I shall not attempt at this .stage to go into details. The suggested’ regulations would not prevent the local manufacture of patent medicines, and infantile foods, that being beyond the scope of the powers of the Federal Parliament, but the least we can do is to prevent the importation of such preparations unless their component parts are clearly shown on the labels which they bear.
– The formulae should appear on the labels.
– Exactly. I am not asking for the prohibition of these preparations. I simply say that the people who use them should be able to ascertain for themselves what they are actually buying. Knowing of what these preparations consisted, they might safely be left to take whatever action they thought fit. Some time ago, a resolution bearing on this subject was passed by the Legislature of New Zealand, and although the Government of that colony took action, they ultimately backed down. It would be interesting to learn the reason for this. I remember reading some time ago in one of Mr. Stead’s annuals, an article dealing with the action of a mythical Empress in Central Africa, who sent an ambassador to London, with a direction that he should write by every mail giving her his impressions of England. Among other statements made to her by the ambassador, was one to the effect that public opinion in England was formed not by Members of Parliament or Governments, but by the press, and that the opinions of the press were manufactured to suit the advertisers of quack medicines, so that the vendors of nostrums really formed English public opinion. Some time after the passing of the resolution which I submitted to the House, I saw in the daily newspapers a cablegram, in this connexion whichis worth reading. It was as follows : -
unpalatableto commercers. - a boycott Proposed.
The proprietary articles sub-section of the London Chamber of Commerce has resolved that deputations should wait on Mr. Taverner (AgentGeneral for Victoria), and Mr. Reeves (High Commissioner for New Zealand), to protest Against the Victorian Pure Food Bill, and the proposed similar legislation in New Zealand. It was decided to recommend members of the Chamber to cease advertising in colonial newspapers where the Bill is in force requiring a declaration of the formula; of preparations.
Having regard to the publication of such a statement, together with the fact that the Minister promised twelve months ago that he would do something in the direction sought by me, and that he was glad that his hands had been strengthened by the action of the House, it would be interesting to know why nothing has yet been done. Are those who advertise quack medicines in our newspapers more powerful than the Government? Are they the power behind the throne? It is about time that we had an authoritative statement on the point. I hope that the Government, if they find that they have not the power necessary to enable them to require the formulae of these preparations to appear on the labels, will lose no time in asking Parliament to confer it upon them. If, on the other hand, they have the power, they should at once take action. The delay which has occurred is certainly a justification for my action in moving the adjournment of the House to allow this subject to be discussed. I shall not attempt to outline the ‘ill effects which many patent medicines have on those who use them, for I know that other honorable members, belonging to the medical profession, are far more competent than I am to deal with that phase of the question. I have repeatedly asked the Minister of Trade and Customs whether any action was being taken, and it is because of my failure to obtain anything like a satisfactory statement on the point that I was driven to submit this motion.
.- There can be no doubt that the Minister of Trade and Customs is sympathetic, but the public would like to have from him a definite statement as to the position which the Government intend to take up. If the law as it stands does not permit him to insist upon the formulae being placed on these preparations, he should ask the Parliament to pass a Bill to remedy this defect. I am sure that the motion has not been submitted because of any desire on the part of the honorable member for Barrier to delay the consideration of Government business, and if the Minister . needs stimulus to action on his part, he can quickly obtain it from any one knowing anything of these preparations. No medical man in this Chamber would object to the course proposed by the honorable member for Barrier, and I doubt if there is one in Australia who would not welcome the adoption of the suggestion that all patent and proprietary medicines and foods should be so labelled as to enable the purchaser to ascertain their formulae. Truth quite recently gave, as nearly as possible, the formula of a patent medicine, known as “ Peruna,” which is largely advertised in the Australian press.
– A London newspaper published the formulae of about twenty or thirty patent medicines.
– Some of the American newspapers have also done so. It: was shown by Truth that “ Peruna “ consisted largely of alcohol. Many teetotallers in Australia have taken that preparation, knowing nothing of its component parts. Had they known that it consisted largely of alcohol, they would not have touched it. As a matter of fact, glycerine, and other substances, can be used as substitutes for spirits in tinctures. Opium, and the derivatives of opium, are often used in patent medicines.
– And children of twelve months or two years of age are given such preparations.
– Often the directions are that a large teaspoonful should be taken as a dose.
– A gentleman well known to honorable members takes large quantities of patent medicines, and his advice is that those who use them should take only half the prescribed dose. I hope that the Minister will give a definite answer to the question raised by the honorable member for Barrier. If he takes up a firm stand, the House will support him. We are not going to back down. If the Minister cannot induce the heads of his Department to deal speedily with this matter, he should give them a holiday, and invite the next in command to take action. If this course were adopted, we should not have to wait long for a decisive step to be taken. If there is a scintilla of doubt on the part of the Minister, let him introduce a small measure, and judge by the vote of honorable members, who, I am sure, would cause no delay with long speeches. As to the urgency of the matter, honorable members may not know that Queen Victoria would never have come to the throne if it had not been, shall I say, the malign influences by which Princess Charlotte was treated? In those days the highest medical authorities made their mistakes; and it is not to be wondered that medicine in the past has killed more than it has saved. But in these days of science, we, who make laws for the community, are entitled to say that the formulae of all patent medicines shall be made known, so that the public may be protected. If medicines are found to be deleterious to the health of the community, the Public Health Officers of the various States could, on that ground, recommend Parliament to prohibit their importation or sale.
– The honorable member for Barrier has good grounds for moving the adjournment of the House, and thus giving us an opportunity to deal with this question. There is not, in my opinion, a matter which should be of greater concern to honorable members than the purity of the foods and drugs which the community consume. Some time ago, when Mr. McLean was
Minister of Trade and Customs, a deputation, representing the Chambers of Commerce, told him that there were being imported into the Commonwealth patent medicines that were responsible for the wholesale and continuous destruction of human life. That was a very strong statement made on behalf of a powerful and representative body; and it ought to have received greater attention than it did. This House has already declared that the time has arrived when patent medicines should be dealt with in a way different from that adopted in the past; and when the House passes such a resolution unanimously, there ought to be some reason more substantial than that given by the Minister for its not being carried into effect. We desire to encourage immigration, and yet we find’ that, not only infant life, but apparently adult life, is being destroyed wholesale. I know, from my own knowledge, that infants have been killed in hundreds with deleterious patent medicines; and it might be a good thing to absolutely prohibit their importation. Only the other day, I noticed that Sir Frederick Treves, whom honorable members will recognise as a great medical authority, said he could not understand why people take medicines when they are sick. Apparently Sir Frederick Treves is under the impression .that there is another and a better way of treating most complaints than by swallowing enormous doses of medicine.
– Is it suggested by medical men that the people should not take any medicines ?
– I am only quoting what Sir Frederick Treves has said. I disagree with the honorable member for Barrier in his opinion that if we compel the formulae to be placed on the jars or bottles which contain patent medicines, the public, if they wish to buy them, may do so. What I say is that, if patent medicines are proved to be injurious, the Minister ought to use the power which he undoubtedly possesses, and prohibit their importation ;. and in such a step he would always have the support of Parliament. I shall not be satisfied unless the Minister informs us that he is prepared to carry out the decision of the House arrived at some twelve months ago.
– I cannot see the difficulty which Ministers have to overcome before framing and putting in force regulations dealing with this matter. Section 7 of the Commerce Act provides that the Governor in Council may prescribe by regulation a trade description for import’s of a certain class, which, according to section 15, includes medicines or medicinal preparations for internal or external use. Then, according, to section 16, the regulations are not to prescribe a trade description which discloses the trade secrets of the manufacture or preparation unless in the opinion of the Governor-General the disclosure is necessary for the protection of the health or welfare of the public. What is there to prevent such regulations being drawn up? It astounds me to think that that step has not been taken already. Why were regulations not proclaimed immediately the Act came into force ? It would have been competent for the Minister to prepare a proclamation for the Governor-General, commencing, “ That, whereas, in my opinion, it is necessary for the protection of the health and welfare of the public that trade secrets relating to the composition of patent medicines should be disclosed, &c.” Had such a proclamation been issued, it would have been perfectly valid, and the stopping of the importation, after a lapse of three months from the proclamation, could not possibly have been challenged. If the Ministry desired to doublebank their security - though I do not think it is necessary - they could have issued a proclamation, not only under the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act of 1905, but also under the general provisions of the Customs Act relating to prohibited imports. There are several prohibited imports, which according to section 52 of that Act include idi goods the importation of which may be prohibited by proclamation. There are subsidiary provisions to the same effect. A section of the Commerce Act declares that the proclamation prohibiting importation shall authorize the prohibition subject to any specified condition or restriction ; so that even in the general proclamation under the Customs Act there could be provision, similar to that contained in section 7 of the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act of 1905, to the effect that if the goods are being imported without knowledge of the regulation, or not wilfully in violation of the principle of the proclamation, the imports may be detained until the necessarytrade description is attached, instead of being forfeited as under the Customs Act.
– The Customs Act applies only to goods passing through the Customs.
– But that Act could be put in force in the way I have suggested. My point is that a vigilant Minister, who did not fall asleep, but properly administered his Department, could have had regulations drawn up eight or ten months ago; and that if he had any doubt as to their validity - which, I say, I cannot understand - -he could by issuing a proclamation under the general provisions of the Customs Act, have placed them beyond all challenge. In my opinion, the matter has not been dealt with because some question was raised at Home as to the expediency and policy of making manufacturers disclose the constituents of the medicines. Some dissent by commercial bodies to that effect at Home was telegraphed to Australia some ten. or twelve months ago, and, possibly, the Minister, modifying the view which led him to introduce the Bill, left the matter over with a view to seeing what could be done. That may be the true explanation or not; do doubt the Minister will . acquaint us with, the facts when he replies.
.- The honorable member for Barrier is justified in his motion, in view of the replies given by the Minister, who, twelve months ago, was at one with the House on this matter. It seems that no very special reason has been given by the Government for not carrying out the unanimous wish of the House and the Government. It is rather an uncommon experience when the Government themselves are in agreement with the House, that twelve months should elapse without anything being done. The Minister and the Cabinet have, I think, failed to grasp the seriousness of what had been going on for some years prior to Federation, and is going on to-day. I am satisfied that if investigations were made, a number of preparations, which are now sold, could be classed under either the head of poison or of absolute frauds. While there may be some patent medicines which can be regarded as fairly good compounds, it is well known to those who have had analyses made, that poison is commonly in most of them, and that those which do not contain poison are based on spirits. In the United States, the lady President of the! Women’s Christian Temperance Union - a very fine lady, who, so far as she knew, had never tasted any form of alcohol in her life - was taken seriously ill. and when the medical men were called in, they discovered that she had contracted the drug habit, and was suffering from alcoholism. Honorable members further will remember that not very long ago a saleswoman in a shop was summoned for selling liquor without a licence, she having sold Ayer’s sarsaparilla, which is said to be half the strength of ordinary whisky.
– It is considerably over the strength of ordinary whisky
– And it is” worse than whisky, because it is based on bad spirit. We are able to safeguard the public interests in regard to imports ; and there should not have been a moment’s hesitation not only in stopping the importation, but in having an exposure made. There is a phase of the question I should like the Minister to bear in mind when he is replying : A gentleman of standing, who was paying a visit to Europe, was, I understand, commissioned by the Government to obtain information regarding the laws and regulations relating to medicine and drugs in other countries. That gentleman is an enthusiast in the work, and is possessed of a vast amount of information, and I should like to know whether or not his report has been presented. Australia, the United Kingdom, and America, are the only countries where these patent medicines are permitted free sale ; and these countries are the world’s market for the drug packer - the man who packs stuff which does not cost a farthing, and charges halfacrown a bottle for it. Great influence has been brought to bear in other places against the exposure of what these packers call their trade secrets ; and we had a little example of the activity of a vast ring when the Commerce Bill was before this House. Interested parties were then moving heaven and earth to prevent the law being applied in the way we deemed advisable, because if the trade secrets are disclosed the business is done. A gentleman I know had analyzed some stuff which is used for the beautifying of ladies’ hair, and which costs 3s. 6d. a small bottle ; and the analysis disclosed that it consists of 99 per cent, of water and 1 per cent, of perfume. We can realize the tremendous profit on selling water at 3s. 6d. a small bottle, and what a* large margin there is for advertising. This particular commodity is the most advertised in Australia; it is advertised in every magazine and newspaper, and particularly the periodicals devoted to the interests of the ladies. In fact, in one publication, which is read by women principally, there are thirty advertisements of patent preparations, and all but two or three may be classed as either poisons or frauds. This information was given to me by a gentleman who has had the preparations analyzed. I cannot understand how it is that the Government have been so slow to deal with a matter of such serious importance. No wonder we are told that one gentleman in America has cleared £8,000,000 by drug packing, and, as I have said, his market is largely found in Great Britain, Australia, and the United States. It is time we set an example that the States can follow, as they did in regard to the Commerce Act. We ought to see that we do our share in regard to importations, while the States keep their eyes on the local productions. If the trade secret were exposed, I ‘ fancy that people would go to the tap for hair wash; and this is a fact the proprietors of these preparations well know. At a great meeting of those interested in this class of trade, it was urged that it was wrong to force them to disclose their trade secrets ; and doubtless it is regarded as a wrong, justas the promoters of a wild cat mine do not approve of it being known that it has been salted. It is our duty to protect those whose knowledge does not enable them to protect themselves. The ordinary buyers! of patent medicines cannot be expected to go to the expense of having them analyzed, so that they may know what their ingredients are, and when medical men attempt to expose the frauds which are practised upon the public by the vendors of many such medicines they are apt to be suspected of selfinterest. Years of experience on hospital committees and general observation convince me that our communities are too much addicted to the drug habit, which is as bad as the drink habit, and I am sorry that the Government has made no attempt to deal with this evil. I am sorry, too, that we have not yet had the report to which I have referred, because it would be very interesting and of great assistance to us in dealing with subjects of this kind.
– The honorable member for Barrier moved the adjournment in no spirit of hostility to the Government. That is evident from, the fact that he took so little time in discussing the motion, and I shall follow his example and that of other honorable members in that respect. Section 15 of the
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act, No. 16 of 1905, provides that -
Sections 7 and 11 of this Act shall not apply to any goods other than -
Articles used for food or drink by man.
Medicines or medicinal preparations for internal or external use.
Section 7 prohibits the importation of specified goods which do not bear the “ prescribed trade description,” which, according to section 3, means -
Any description, statement, indication, or suggestion, direct or indirect -
as to the nature, number, quantity, quality, purity, class …. of the goods; . . .
as to the material or ingredients of which the goods are composed, or from which they are derived.
It will therefore be seen that the Minister has full power to do what the honorable member for Barrier desires to have done, and what the honorable gentleman has expressed his intention of doing. I vividly recollect that when, twelve months ago, a motion was moved dealing with this subject, the Minister said that the carrying of it would strengthen his hands, and I am surprised that the unanimous resolution of the House has not been followed by action on his part. The honorable member for Darling has deplored the fact that Mr. Beale’s report is not yet in the hands of members. Mr. Beale was commissioned by the Government to make certain inquiries, and has furnished a sort of progress report ; but it would be well if we could obtain, as early as possible, a full account of his investigations and recommendations. When the subject was last under discussion, I read reports from various sources regarding the constituents of some of the best-known patent medicines then being sold within the Commonwealth, and have since been told that I made a serious mistake about one of them. I am not yet convinced that I did make amistake ; but if aproper trade description had been applied to that medicine, every one would have known what it contains, and I could not therefore have made an error, and, of course, would not have made a misstatement about it. The honorable member for Barrier desires that a proper trade description shall be affixed to imported infants’ foods as well as to patent medicines.
– That is a particularly important matter.
– We hear a great deal about the need for population in Australia, but nothing tends more to reduce our natural increase than does the use of artificial infants’ foods. Unfortunately, the natural method of rearing children has largely fallen into disuse ; but if a baby must be fed on artificial food, only the best should be given to it. Many of the preparations imported into the Commonwealth are of no more use for the feeding of babies than so much saw-dust would be. They contain none of the elements necessary to secure the proper development and growth of children, and many contain deleterious compounds which tend to increase infant mortality. I do not mean that they contain poisons; but the preparations are so indigestible that they cause irritation, and thus we often read of children being found by the coroner to have died from gastro-enteritis, an affection caused entirely by improper feeding.
– Are there statistics to support the honorable member’s statement?
– I believe that such statistics are available, and, had I known that this matter would come up for discussion this afternoon, I should have furnished myself with them.
– Such information will be extremely useful when we are considering Tariff changes.
– No matter is of greater importance to us in Australia than the proper nourishment of our infant population, and I hope that the Minister will not allow another day to pass without taking steps to frame and proclaim a regulation which will secure the total prohibition of unsuitable foods and medicines, and give to buyers a guarantee that the preparations which they buy are designed to carry out the objects which they have in view.
.- I cannot understand why the Government, which not very long ago was straining every nerve to protect a few manufacturers who did not need protection, has refrained so long from acting upon the mandate of Parliament to protect the community from being plundered and poisoned by the vendors of imported patent medicines. Australia is a happy hunting ground for the quack patent medicine proprietor, and it is well known that most of the remedies which are extensively advertised have nothing to recommend them but their price and the mystery which surrounds their preparation.
– Is their price a recommendation ?
– Many of these preparations are sold at prices which, while returning the manufacturer handsome profits, put them within the reach of the poorer classes, who think that by buying them they are able to doctor themselves. Those who have made inquiries on the subject will agree with me that the effects of many patent medicines have only to be known, when the preparations will be at once denounced. A large number of them contain alcohol, frequently in greater proportions than undiluted whisky, and the alcohol thus imbibed is of the vilest quality, being produced by the common commercial still from ingredients treated in the first place with sulphuric acid. Such alcohol is, in the opinion of experts, unfit for human consumption. As to the way in which these socalled patent medicines are foisted on the community, I know a case in which a lady who had bought a bottle of a certain preparation was asked by a canvasser of winning personality to subscribe to a testimonial to its value. She explained that she had not taken enough of it to be sure of its effects, and was told that a£5 note would be forthcoming if she would only put her name to a form which would be handed to her. I believe that many persons have publicly protested against the advertisement of their names as testifying to the merits of these preparations, and I think there has been a law case on the subject. Many of the published testimonials are pure fabrications. I do not wish to handicap those who have honest preparations to put before the public ; but any one who wishes to retain his rights in a genuine proprietary medicine can protect himself by legal process. All we ask should be done, and all the Government has been instructed to do is to insure that the component parts of these hitherto mysterious preparations which are described as medicines shall be made known, and I hope that the expression of members’ opinions will force Ministers to take action at an early date.
.- The honorable member for Perth has almost persuaded me, though a staunch free-trader, to become a protectionist. Indeed, I am a protectionist, so far as the protection of human life is concerned. The honorable member for Barrier deserves great praise for his action in this matter. I know that he does not approve of motions for adjournment; but he has felt that this subject ought to be. thoroughly ventilated. We have a grievance against the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– The honorable member always has that.
– So long as I have grievances, I shall not hesitate to voice them. That is my duty to my constituents. The honorable gentleman’s reply showed the House in what an unsatisfactory manner public business is conducted by this Government. I think that his replies upon this question are distinctly evasive and unsatisfactory. They constitute an, argument in favour of the creation of a Federal Department of Public Health. Personally, I should like to see a Minister of Public Health occupying a seat upon the Treasury benches whose duty it would be to safeguard the health interests of the whole of Australia.
An Honorable Member. - There are too many doctors in this place.
– That is the sort of jeer to which medical men are constantly being subjected. It is one of those cheap and nasty jeers to which they are accustomed. I have no longer any interest in the sale of drugs, and I think that of all men, I am in a position to champion the rights of the medical profession. It is a sad thing to. realize that the need for legislation of the character that we are now discussing is apparently recognised only by the few men in this Parliament, who belong to the. medical profession. Our chief consideration, I maintain, should be the interests of the people of the: Commonwealth. Mention has already been made of the deleterious effects resulting from the sale of patent medicines throughout the country. I may perhaps be permitted to explain that there are two different kinds of patent medicines. What is commonly known as a patent medicine is that which is advertised andsold to the public without any formula, accompanying it, so that the purchaser is in absolute ignorance of what ingredients form its component parts.
– What would the honorable member call chlorodyne?
– I think that nowadays chlorodyne is practically a pharmacopoeia preparation, because; its constituents are known and approved by the medical profession. There are also what are known as proprietary medicines. These medicines are put upon the market by proprietary companies. Their constituent parts are advertised broadcast, so that everybody is in a position to ‘know exactly what they contain. Their excellence is chiefly due to the process adopted in their manufacture. They are superior to other medicines ‘because they are produced in very large quantities, with the aid of high-class machinery, and as a result are better mixed than they would be if they were produced by hand labour.
– The formula of one medicine is known and that of the other is not?
– Exactly. I hold in my hand a paper known as the Australasian Medical Gazette. ‘ It contains an advertisement of a preparation for infants. This preparation I read, consists of -
Soluble food for infants, invalids, and the aged. . . . Soluble food represents modified cows’ milk evaporated to dryness and pulverized, with the addition of dextrin and soluble starch prepared from the best quality of wheat. “ Soluble food “ requires no milk, is very nutritious, .palatable, and assimilable, and in composition closely resembles mother’s milk.
That is an example of the practice adopted by the honest manufacturer who knows precisely what he is giving the public. To such preparations medical men entertain no objection whatever, and we constantly recommend them to our patients, because we know that they are good. But when we turn to such advertisements as frequently appear in the daily press, we find that they relate to a very different class of article. Take, for instance, somebody’s “ 41b pills.” What information does that advertisement convey to the public of the constituent parts of those pills ? They are warranted to cure -
Pains in the back and kindred complaints, and they aTe free from mercury.
The last statement evidences that the manufacturer appreciates the value of allowing persons to know that these pills are free from mercury because it is generally recognised that mercury, when taken as a medicine, is likely to cause the teeth to become loose, and that its use in other respects is attended with some danger. I now wish to call attention to the advertising of a certain book which has recently been placed upon the Australian market. The following is the notice by a weekly newspaper of the -publication in question -
The publication is of special interest to the medical profession in that it aims at the exposure of quackery in all : forms, and absolutely debars from its pages medical and patent or proprietary medicine advertisements. In this respect it sets an example worthy to be followed by the press generally. The present number is full of interesting material, all essentially Australian. It contains a report and clinical analyses of various “headache powders” which were purchased at different retail chemists’ establishments in Sydnev. These analyses confirm the statement so often made that the general public are largely addicted to self drugging with powerful drugs, especially the coal-tar derivatives.
That is an example of what the public and the medical profession think of these medicines. As regards the question of headache powders, I may point out that there are numbers of drugs upon the market the use of which is decidedly injurious to health. We know that people at the extremes .of life are very susceptible to trouble arising from the use of opium. That drug exercises a greater effect upon them than it does upon other persons. Yet we constantly see advertisements of soothing powders containing this drug - powders whose use by children of tender years is recommended. In the great majority of instances, mothers have no desire to injure their progeny, but I will undertake to say that the lives of many infants have been sacrificed by reason of the mistaken kindness of mothers in using these drugs, which are so extensively advertised. Still another drug which is freely advertised is known as “syrup of figs.” As a matter of fact, it is not made up in any way of figs, and under the impression that they are imbibing nothing but the purest fruit essences, people are taking a drug of which they know nothing whatever.
– It is a very good medi cine, nevertheless.
– Then why does it bear a lie upon its face? I come now to the question of hair dyes. These are frequently composed of injurious ingredients such as lead, and as a result of their use, it is quite possible for people to contract lead poisoning, or to become paralyzed for life. It is, therefore, extremely necessary that these patent medicines which are sold broadcast should bear upon their cover a proper description of their component parts. Many persons imagine that simply because these medicines bear the Customs stamp upon the bottle, the Government are actually recommending their use. This is a point to which I. would draw the special attention of the Minister. I’ ,am very sorry that this .question has been brought forward rather hurriedly, and that consequently I had not an opportunity to prepare myself to discuss it at length. I regret exceedingly that under the law as it exists such plenary powers should be vested in the hands of one Minister. Happily, the present Minister is above reproach, but the time may arrive when a Minister who is possessed of no scruples may abuse these powers. That is a contingency we ought to guard against.
– It is astonishing to notice how prone honorable members are to blame somebody if they can only find somebody to blame. But I do not think that they will blame me, in connexion with this matter, when I. resume my seat. More than once I have told the honorable member for Barrier that I have not forgotten the promise which I made when a motion relating to patent and proprietary medicines was under consideration in this House, that as far as I could, I would see that his desire, and the intended conditions of the Commerce Act, were carried out.
– The Minister has told me that several times.
– Yes. I wish the honorable member and the House to understand that I lost no -time in endeavouring to deal with the matter.
– Nearly twelve months have elapsed since the motion which I submitted was agreed to.
– If the honorable member will refrain from interjecting, he will learn that a report was made to me on the 26th November last year concerning the regulations which I had previously given instructions to frame.
– That was four months after the motion was agreed to by the House.
– I do not expect the honorable member to relieve me of any blame if he has half a chance to censure me.
– He is a reasonable man.
– If he becomes as reasonable as is the. deputy leader of the Opposition, I shall be quite satisfied. Upon the 2nd August last, I made a statement corresponding with the statement that I had previously made. The Commerce Act did not come into force until 1st January last, but in November, 1906, I gave instructions for the amendment of a regulation which it had been found went beyond our powers. The regulation was different from that which I had instructed should be prepared, and on 26th November last I minuted it, “ Amend as required.” I was certainly under the impression that the amendment had been made : but on making inquiries I found that during my absence in London my honorable colleague the Postmaster-General, who was acting Minister of Trade and Customs, had presented to him a report from” which it appeared that some objection was raised to the regulation. That report was minuted by my honorable colleague “ Seen.”
– Who raised the objection?
– I think the objection was raised in consequence of certain letters and statements that were received.
– There was also the cablegram which I read this afternoon.
– Letters on the subject were also written. I have here .a list of them, and also the opinion given by the Attorney-General in regard to the objection.
– Let us have it.
– It is a very lengthy opinion.
– What is the effect of it?
– A case was submitted to the Attorney-General, who gave the opinion that there was no power to make a regulation in the form that had been adopted.
– The difficulty could have been removed in two minutes.
– No; it could not. I merely wish to show honorable members what action I have taken in this matter. The Attorney-General’s opinion was submitted, as I have stated to the Postmaster-General, who was acting Minister of Trade and Customs during my absence, and, until the honorable member for Barrier questioned me on the subject on the 1 1. thi inst., I was under the impression that the regulation was in force.
– As Parliament was in recess, I did not have an opportunity of Questioning the Minister on the subject many days earlier.
– I did not know what had taken place during my absence, and was under the impression that my instruction had been carried out.
– In reply to the question which I put to the Minister, I was given. not a straight-out answer of “yes” or “no,” but a long list of unpronounceable names.
– The official papers show that after the honorable member for Barrier had put a question to me on the11th inst, I immediately directed that-
In all cases the goods mentioned should bear such statement unless there is good reason why the secret of composition should not be disclosed.
That is in accordance with the Act. When the section in the Commerce Act which deals with this subject was under consideration, the question was debated at some length, and it was decided that the formulae of these preparations should be given unless injury would be done to the maker by such a disclosure.
– That was merely to prevent a rival manufacturer securing an advantage. It did not apply to cases’ where the disclosure might be beneficial to the general public.
– That is so. The last instruction which I have just read was given by me immediately after dealing with the question put to me by the honorable member for Barrier on the11th inst., and the necessary regulation is now being framed.
– Why did not the honorable gentleman tell us of this at the outset ?
– Because the honorable member suddenly put a question to me, and I had not then the time at my disposal to look through the official papers. As the House is aware, I have lately been very busy, and it was not until I received the papers, after the motion for the adjournment of the House had been moved this afternoon, that I ascertained the history of the proceedings. Instructions have been given that a regulation in the terms suggested by the Attorney-General shall be prepared.
– When were those instructions given?
– I originally gave instructions in November last, and the direction that the new regulation should be framed was given after the11th inst.
– The original regulation had no effect?
– The fact that it was invalid was discovered after I had left for England, and I was not aware until a few days ago that it was of no effect. I wish to put before the House the full history of the case.
– We are to understand that the action we desire is to be taken?
– That is so; I have only to repeat that the necessary instruction has already been given.
– If we had received this information a day or two ago this debate would not have taken place.
.- The Minister has now informed the House that the object which honorable members had in view in voting for the resolution moved last year by the honorable member for Barrier is to be carried out, and the statement he has just made practically settles the matter. I should like, however, to remind the Minister that when the resolution was submitted in August last he promised that action would immediately be taken.
– I gave the necessary instructions. I endeavoured to give effect to the resolution in August, but finding that there was a flaw in the proposed regulation I gave instructions in November that the necessary amendment should be made.
– The Minister has clearly shown the House that he has been endeavouring from time to time to give effect to the decision at which we arrived last year. We seek nothing more, but I should like to point out that the honorable gentleman in the first instance was rather slow in moving off the mark. The object which the honorable member for Barrier had in view in submitting the resolution relating to patent medicines was to preserve the health of the poorer classes of the community.
– That was one of the principal objects of the Commerce Act.
– Quite so, and the Minister was supported by all parties in the House in his effort to so frame the Bill as to enable effect to be given to that desire. One of the highest functions that can be exercised by us as legislators is that of taking steps to preserve the health of the people generally, and particularly of the poorer classes of the community. The rich in many cases are able to look after their own well-being, but the poor from time to time are gulled by vendors of quack medicines. There can be no doubt that Australia, as the honorable member for Perth has pointed out, has been made from time to time the happy hunting ground of such men, and of. all who seek to live on the poorest classes of the community by gulling them to purchase medicines which, if they have any effect at all, operate deleteriously on those who use them. Many of these nostrums have led people into habits which otherwise they would not have contracted. It seems to me that our control of these matters is confined to oversea products. We cannot exercise any control over preparations made within our own borders, but it should be the desire of every State Parliament to protect the people in this direction, and particularly in relation to the use of patent and proprietary medicines. In the motion as originally submitted by the honorable member for Barrier it was provided that all medical and surgical appliances which purport to cure or alleviate disease should likewise be critically examined on entering the Commonwealth. That was a sound proposition, because some of the greatest swindles that are perpetrated relate to worthless surgical appliances that are foisted on the people. Such instruments in many cases cost a mere fraction to manufacture, and are absolutely valueless ; but the vendors succeed in making enormous profits by their distribution. When the resolution was under consideration last year, the honorable member for Laanecoorie described it as another socialistic proposal on the part of the honorable member for Barrier. To control the sale of these goods and preparations is one of the highest duties of the State, and is not Socialism. No honorable member could do better than support legislation with this object in view. I sincerely hope that the Minister will not relax his efforts to secure the protection of the people - that, in season and out of season, he will take steps to enable the public to secure full information as to the component parts of all these oversea productions. The honorable gentleman has disclosed the fact that, whilst the negotiations with regard to the framing of the regulations were in progress, letters and telegrams dealing with this very question passed between London and Australia. Those who had the control of the question during his absence have actually allowed the vendors of proprietary medicines to dictate to the Department what the regulations should provide. That discloses a very serious position. Thevendors of these nostrums are naturally interested in the non-disclosure of the ingredients.
– I did not say that we had allowed them to dictate what the regulations should provide.
– The official papers, as well as the cablegram read by the honorable member for Barrier, disclose the fact that attempts have been made in that direction by the very men whose operations we desire to control. The honest manufacturer takes no objection to the regulations proposed by us, because he has nothing to fear. It is only the. dishonest manufacturer who fears the passing of such regulations, and he is the man that we wish to get at. Our desire is to save the people from such individuals. In order to refresh the minds of honorable members as to the terms of the resolution submitted last year by the honorable member for Barrier, I intend to read it. I have been in sympathy from the first with the honorable member, so far as this question is concerned, and I feel that the resolution is one of which we ought not to lose sight. It reads as follows -
That, in the opinion of this House, in the interest of the health of the community of Australia, it is desirable that all patent or proprietary medicines, all infantile and artificial foods, all medical and surgical appliances which purport to cure or alleviate any disease to which the human frame is subject, should be critically examined on entry into the Commonwealth - .
We come now to the second paragraph of the resolution, to which effect has not yet been given -
The proposal is a very comprehensive one, and it remains only for the Government to do its duty. As an illustration of the wayin which people are often gulled by vendors of various nostrums, I propose to tell the House of a little scene which I witnessed at Bird Fair, London. When visiting that locality on one occasion, I saw a man vending what he described as a sarsaparilla. guaranteed to effect wonderful cures. He had at his side two glasses, which apparently contained only clear water. Turning to a boy who was standing close at hand, he inquired if he felt quite well. The lad replied that he had a pain in his back. “Ah,” said the man, “that is just the very ailment that my sarsaparilla will cure. “ Taking up one of the glasses, he handed it to the boy, saying, “ Before you swallow my medicine, blow into this glass of water.” The boy did so, and the fluid immediately assumed a cloudy white colour. “ There,” he said, “ look at the nature of his breath. It is terrible ! See how he has clouded the glass.” Then he turned to the boy and said, “ Now take the sarsaparilla.” When the boy had taken it the vendor asked him how he liked it, and the boy answered that it was very nice. Then the vendor said, “ Now blow into this other glass,” which, apparently, like the other, contained only pure water. The boy blew, but the water remained perfectly clear ; and the man could not sell his sarsaparilla quickly enough at 2s. 6d. a bottle; I watched him going as hard as he could until he had cleared out all his stock. The fact is that his audience were not aware of a chemical fact. The first glass contained lime water, and when the boy blew into it the carbonic acid of his breath created carbonate of lime, which caused the water to turn cloudy. Needless to say, the second glass was filled with pure water - the man was juggling. On another occasion a vendor who was selling a worthless preparation warranted to cure corns, warts, bunions, and all the ills of life, at1s. a bottle, was interrupted by a drunken man, who asked, “ Will it cure me?” The vendor replied, “ No ; look here, my friend, let me inform you that my name is not Balaam, and I do not want an ass to talk to me.” The man thereupon went away discomfited, and the vendor turned round to his audience, and said, “ See the wonderful effect of a text of Scripture ! I quoted only one, and the man was converted at once ! Who will buy any more of my medicine for corns, warts, bunions, and all the ills of life?” That is the way these men ply their trade; they are thus able tojuggle, and to gull the people, who are carried away by a little bit of wit and, sometimes, by a smattering of science. The intention of the House - and we could not do anything better - is to preserve the health of the people, and I hope, therefore, that effect will immediately be given to its resolution.
.- It is quite evident that if the honorable member for Corangamite ever loses his professional position, there is another avocation to which he can turn. I regard this debate as a triumph for the honorable member for Barrier. It shows the necessity of a person, who takes up a subject, being persistent in its advocacy . I suppose it was owing to the absence of the Minister from the Commonwealth that this matter has been allowed to remain in abeyance. However, the honorable member for Barrier has stirred up the Minister, who, apparently, has not had time to look into the papers on the subject until to-day, when it became absolutely necessary. I am sure we are all pleased that the Minister has been compelled to turn his attention to the question, and that it is his intention to see the desire of Parliament carried into effect. It is a compliment to the House, and to the representatives of the medical profession amongst us, that we were unanimously in favour of the resolution at which we arrived on a former occasion. There is a strong and frequently expressed feeling amongst the public generally that members of the medical profession do not desire that the people should remain in health. That, however, I regard as a superstition, though it is a superstition which has caught hold of very many people.
– It is a libel on the profession.
– I am only expressing my opinion. Personally, I do not desire quacks either medical or political. I believe in professional politicians and professional medical men - men who understand their business. At the same time, can we wonder at poor people, who are in bad health, and who respond to the advertisements which are published in the most respectable journals, and in the most prominent places in those journals, being led away sometimes by announcements and by little paragraphs at the end of which there is a star denoting an advertisement.
– The religious publications are the worst offenders.
– I agree with the honorable member, because I have looked into those publications again and again. It is a scandal to any religious body that their newspapers should be used to abuse the public confidence, and cause innocent people to buy useless nostrums.
– I do not think that the statement is quite correct.
– I am afraid the honorable member has been “ off “ religious reading for some time.
– I know some religious publications to which the remark does not apply.
– I am glad to hear that, though I did not suppose my remarks apapplied to all religious newspapers. The honorable member for Corangamite laid his finger on the weak spot when he pointed out that the Federal Parliament has power to deal only with importations. ‘ The honorable member was quite right, however, in urging that unless we, as a Federal Parliament, exercise the full powers we possess in this connexion we could not claim to be the leaders of the people of the Commonwealth. If we do exercise our powers we may be sure that the States will follow our example. Personally, if ever I need medical assistance, I put my whole trust in a mar who has been trained in the best schools available. But at the same time, people who are not too well off often find it a difficult problem in a case of illness to determine whether they should or should not call in a medical man. I take this opportunity to respectfully suggest to the medical members of this House, and the medical profession outside, that there ought to be adopted some reasonable method to enable the poorer class of people to obtain medical attendance at a more reasonable cost than at present with consequent financial embarrassment.
– The honorable member need have no fear ; there is no medical man who will not attend poor people for nothing.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay does not ‘know what he is talking about if he sa.vs that poor people have any difficulty in obtaining medical attention. Instances may occur now and then, but we must have regard to the majority of the profession.
– The honorable member for Hunter does not quite understand the purport of what I have been saying. These poor people fly to quacks and patent medicines because of their inability to pay the fees of a properly qualified medical man. And when I speak’ of poor people, I mean people who are relatively poor - people who are as independent in their feelings as are the members of the medical profession, and who would not ask a favour, preferring to pay their last sixpence for what they require in the way of medical advice than to place themselves under an obligation. I am not impugning the goodness of heart of the medical profession. I shall not labour the point ; but again express my gratitude to the honorable member for the Barrier for his persistence on this question. We all agree that the Minister of Trade and Customs does not lack goodness of heart, and that it is only through pressure of business that action In regard to the importation of patent medicines has not been taken before now.
– There is one point which honorable members have failed to lay before the House. The Government ought to have power to make it a penal offence for patent medicine vendors to secure for a few shillings fraudulent testimonials as to the virtue of their alleged cures.
– I do not think dispensers of patent medicines cause half as much trouble as do the dispensers of patent politics.
– The honorable member’s own experience has no doubt taught him that. In my opinion, the persons who supply the fraudulent testimonials ought also to be punished ; and I think the Government have power to take action in this direction under the laws relating’ to Inter-State commerce. I agree with the honorable, member for Wide Bay that there are thousands of honest and sincere people who require medical attendance and medicine, but who are not in a financial position to pay the fees. Under these circumstances, this great and powerful Commonwealth ought to set apart a certain amount annually in order to pay medical men for looking after the poor of the country. I go further, and would have the State pay all doctors ; and I would have them put on the same plane as doctors are in China - they should cure the patient, or have their heads cut off. Under the present systern, if a doctor acts on the broad lines of commerce, like a sensible business man, it is his duty to keep a rich man sick as long as possible ; because, as soon as his patient recovers, the fees are gone. If, however, the doctor were paid by the State, he would hurry to get his patient cured and turned out to earn money. I am thankful to say that, as disclosed by the debate, this House can be unanimous on some questions. I wonder if those who talk about “ professional “ medical men believe in amateur politicians. Politics is the science of government, and government is controlled by politics ; and there must be professionals in politics, as in other “callings, to make it a success. We do not pay the same .price to hear an ordinary singer that we pay to hear Madame Melba, simply because the latter is a professional. In the British House of Commons, the business is really carried on by about twenty-five members, who, out of the 600 odd members, may be regarded as professional politicians.
.- Do I understand the Minister of Trade and Customs to say that if he finds he has no power under the present law to deal as we desire with these importations, he will ask Parliament to give him the necessary power ?
– Certainly; I think I have shown my determination by what I have said to-day.
– I am pleased to hear that reply, and I think the remarks of the Minister prove that I have not wasted the time of the House this afternoon. It would seem, however, that the matter had practically been forgotten until I asked my questions. It is rather a pity that, instead of the long replies to those questions, I did not receive a simple “Yes” or “No,” when probably there would have been no need to move the adjournment of the House.
Question resolved in the negative.
.- On behalf of the free-trade members of the Tariff Commission, of whom I am one, I wish to make a personal explanation regarding the following paragraph in this morning’s Age -
The free-trade members of the Tariff Commission still have their work uncompleted, though the end is only a few days off. They were understood to have forwarded yesterday to the Governor-General a new series of reports, but down to 9 o’clock last night they had not reached the Acting Prime Minister.
The facts are these : On Monday afternoon last, the Minister of Trade and Customs was rung up on behalf of the free-trade members of the Tariff Commission, and we were informed by his messenger that he had gone out to keep an appointment. We were, therefore, unable to send our reports to him. We then sent a telephone message to .the Secretary to the Prime Minister, but he was absent on official business. Finally, we telegraphed to the Secretary for External Affairs, and asked if he would receive our reports on behalf of the Government. He said that he would, and shortly after 4 p.m. they were handed to him by the Assistant Secretary to the Tariff Commission. If the reports have been delayed in transmission to the Acting Prime Minister, the delay is not the fault of the free-trade members of the Tariff Commission.
– About 4 p.m. on Monday, as I was leaving my office to keep an appointment, I received a telephone message from members of the Tariff Commission, and told one of my officers to reply that I should be at my office in the morning, and would be glad to receive their reports then, but I have since heard no more about them.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Judgment of the Lords of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the appeal of Webb v. Outtrim.
Ordered to be printed.
Information as to the character of the country adjacent to the route of the proposed railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta between latitude 30 deg. S. and 32 deg. S. and between longitude 125 deg. E. and 131 deg. E.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Groom) read a first time.
Debate resumed from 23rd July (vide page 827), on motion by Mr. Groom -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- I have listened with much interest and profit to the debate on the second reading of this Bill. Like many other honorable members, I think that it would have been better if the introduction of the measure had been deferred until after the settlement of the Tariff question. I think- that we should first have exhausted our powers of protecting and stimulating local production and manufacture by the imposition of duties, and then have proceeded, by the offering of bounties, to aid such industries as could not be assisted by the Tariff. I agree, too, with the honorable and learned member for Flinders that, before putting these proposals before the House, the Government should have made a statement of rue financial position, though I take it that the honorable and learned member does not regard the fact that no such statement has been made as a vital objection to the measure. No doubt, the future expenditure of the Commonwealth is likely to be very large. There are great public works to be carried out, there may be a loss by the adoption of uniform postage, and huge liabilities will be incurred by the transfer of the Northern Territory. Probably the latter project will further involve the raising and spending of loan money. I hope that in the near future ,£2,000,000 or £3,000,000 will be expended in locking the rivers of the interior.
– I hope that we are not going to borrow money for purposes of administration.
– Administration should be paid for out of revenue. I shall not allow the considerations which I have stated to prevent me from giving a cordial support to the measure. I believe that, by passing it, we shall lay the foundations of several important industries which will be entirely new to Australia. The details of the ‘Bill will have to be threshed out in Committee, and therefore it is unnecessary to discuss them now. The opinion is generally held that most of the things mentioned in the schedule will grow prolifically in Australia, the only doubt being as to the possibility of their profitable production. I think that the genius of the British race will enable our people to display sufficient skill to bring this about. The cry that the competition of cheap labour elsewhere will make our efforts abortive has been heard throughout the debate. It has been raised, probably, by those who object to the principle of bounties, just as it was used prior to Federation by those who objected to the imposition of protective duties. To my knowledge, it has been made to do good service in Victoria for the last twenty-five or thirty years. When large areas in the northern parts of the State were about to be thrown open to agricultural settlement, it was stated bv newspaper , writers and public men that it would be impossible to grow wheat profitably there, in competition with the cheap labour of the rvots of India. Those statements were, in all probability, made bv persons who were interested in keeping the land as a sheep walk. Similarly it has been objected to the present proposals; that we cannot, in competition with the coloured labour of other countries, profitably produce the articles mentioned in the schedule. I think that this prediction will prove as melancholy a failure as that of which I have just spoken. When it. v.as proposed to legislate for the assistance- 0!.” the great sugar industry of Queensland,, the arguments used in opposition were similar to those now being used in opposition tothe proposed attempt to develop the cotton industry of that State. I see no reason why the cotton industry should not beas. great as the sugar industry isthere, and when recently travelling in> Queensland, I, as an Australian, felt proud that we have such an asset as the cane plantations which I saw. T hope that we shall not be content with se cramped policy, but will pass wise legislation to stimulate production, and bring intoexistence profitable primary industries; which are not now being followed in Australia. We have reached a critical stage; in our history. We possess a continent capable of producing almost everythingthat can be produced in any other part of the world, but our lands are, comparatively speaking, without population. We require more people, and our natural resources should enable us to feed an enormous population. It is only bv increasing our population that we can lessen the risk of invasion.
– Will the Bill do that?
– It will help to do it. The policy which has made the United States of America what they are has aimed1 at making that country, so far as possible, self-sufficient and self-contained, so that it may be independent in times of stress anc? emergency. The policy of preserving the home market has also made Germany one’ of the leading competitors for the trade supremacy of the world. I am prepared1 to admit that there will be difficulties in the way of finding an export market for cotton and several other of the productions named in the schedule, which are grown with cheap labour in countries like the Straits Settlements, Egypt, and elsewhere; but we can, at least, preserve our home market for out people, and that market, if preserved, will consume our productions for a great many years to come. According to figures furnished by the Commonwealth Statistician. I find that we import annually over £6, 000,000 worth of the products covered by the schedule.
– Including the manufactures from raw material.
– Speaking in round numbers, our annual importation of cotton is valued at £64,000; of cordage and twine, at £522,000; of rice, at £248,000 ; of indiarubber goods, at £344,000 ; of cotton raw, waste, and wick, , £67,000; of socks and stockings, £150,000; of towels and handkerchiefs, £199,000 ; and of piece goods, cotton and linen, £3,309,000. Our importations of cotton goods alone are valued at £3,726,527. In jute goods we import bags and sacks consisting of bran, chaff, and fodder bags, to the value of £188,198 annually; corn and flour bags to the value of £617,866 ; gunny, potato, onion and coal bags to the value of £12, 038; ore bags to the value of £17,154; woolpacks to the value of £259,396 ; second-hand bags and sacks to the value of £2,487 ; and other bags to the value of £28,983, making a total expenditure in this direction of £1,126,126. Here is a fine field for exploiting the growth of the particular articles enumerated in the schedule of this Bill. I wish now to make a brief reference to the cotton industry, with a view to show that, from the standpoint of its volume, it might be made quite as valuable as is the sugar industry. I think that in Australia we produce over £3,000,000 worth of sugar annually. Certainly we manufacture all that we require for home consumption. We also import over £3,000,000 worth of cotton goods, either in a raw or in a manufactured state.
– What are the proportions ?
– As I have already said, the raw waste and wick imported is valued at £67,187, socks and stockings at £150,676, towels and handkerchiefs at £199,044, a total of piece goods, cotton and linen at £3,309,618. A good deal has been said during this debate about the cheap labour of the United States. Of the 7,000,000 persons who are engaged in the cotton industry there, a very large proportion of the growers are Europeans. We have it upon the authority of some who have written upon the subject that in the cotton fields of America, as in the sugar plantations of Queensland, one European can invariably do two or three times as much skilled work as can a coloured man. Thepicking of cotton in America is estimated to cost about½d. per lb. , which is the amount mentioned in the comprehensive report prepared by the Attorney-Gene ral, to whom great credit is due for the valuable compendium of information which he has given to us concerning this Bill. But the so-called cheap labour employed in the cotton fields of the United States is not as cheap as most persons imagine. A similar remark is applicable to the employment of kanakas in the sugar plantations of Queensland. When 1 passed through that State a few weeks ago, I made inquiries upon this point, and I learnt from several responsible employers that kanaka labour was not cheap. The truth is that when the kanaka had settled down to his work and realized the wages which had to be paid to white men engaged in the industry, he regulated his “ stroke “ so as to make it harmonize with the wage which he himself received. The chief advantage derived from the employment of kanakas in the plantations was that, because they were so thoroughly reliable, when the busy season came round ample labour was available to cut the cane. The policy of deporting these Pacific Islanders was, in my opinion, a wise one, but a mistake was made in repatriating 10,000 of them without supplying the requisite labour to take their places. I believe that if we wish to develop the cotton industry in Australia we shall have to introduce the principle that has been adopted upon the sugar plantations of Queensland. In other words, we shall have to establish the system of small holdings. There is no doubt that that system does not offer a complete cure for the labour difficulty, but it does offer something in that direction. My remarks upon this Bill have not been prompted by parochial considerations, although, as my electorate embraces about one-fifth of the State, of Victoria, and is wholly an agricultural district, I am naturally very much interested in it. In various spots along the Murray, we have splendid examples of intense culture. The same remark is applicable to places along the opposite bank in New South Wales. The Mildura. settlement is probably unique’ in Australia. There we have a system of intense culture, chiefly for dried fruits, which will bear comparison with, the best equipped and most skilfully managed settlement in any part of the world. Many honorable members have taken the trouble to visit that settlement, and I should be very pleased to hear of any others who may be able to spare the necessary time to inspect it. Such a visit is in itself an education.
Mildura is a settlement which has practically been dug out of the wilderness, and it has been developed to such an extent that it presents an object lesson in intense’ culture which cannot be surpassed. This settlement is well worthy of preservation, and ought to be jealously guarded by the State if only on account of its intrinsic value. It is, however, invaluable as an object lesson of what can be done along the banks of our rivers, and as illustrating the almost illimitable possibilities of the fruit-growing industry and the practicability of establishing great irrigation colonies where intense culture can be carried on.
– It is successful now in every way ?
– It is successful mainly because it enjoys the benefit of a protective duty upon raisins. In this connexion I may mention that it has been wholly dependent upon that duty. It also enjoys -the protection which is afforded by an import duty upon currants. If these imposts were remitted the settlement would cease to be a success. Mildura, in short, affords a unique example of a community of British settlers - plucky, enterprising colonists - settling upon land in the centre of an Australian wilderness, imbued with free-trade ideas, and becoming converted to protection by the force of hard contact with the actual conditions of life. I am glad that this settlement is likely to receive some benefit from the proposed bounty upon dried fruit, &c. Other industries which we might attempt to establish are those of jute and hemp. At the present time, we are importing no less than £1,126,126 worth of .cornsacks, woolpacks, chaff bags, potato bags, &c. Here, then, is an industry of such dimensions that it might well engage the serious attention of this Chamber. As my own electorate is one of the largest, if not the largest of the wheat-growing districts in Victoria, I am naturally very much interested in this question just as representatives of other great wheat-growing centres are interested in it. For many years past the cornsack industry has been controlled by India.- The Indian market regulates the prices for the world. Now we have every reason to believe from information received through reliable commercial channels, that the wheat-growers of Australia are absolutely at the mercy of this cornsack combine in India.
– We have had small combines’ here.
– Of course we do not like combines, no matter where they exist. If a combine exists in our own midst, we can deal with it, whereas we cannot deal with combines abroad. With regard to sisal hemp, and the manufacture of cordage and twine, I may point out that we are, importing £500,000 worth of .these commodities per annum. I have no doubt from what I saw during my recent trip to the Northern Territory that we can produce these articles in abundance. In the northern portions of Australia jute’ and hemp are growing almost wild. I hold in my hand samples of Mauritius hemp and sisal hemp. The larger parcel consists of sisal hemp, the fibre of which is about six feet long. This was grown on the experimental plot connected with the Botanical Gardens in the Northern Territory. If honorable members will only take the trouble to inspect these beautiful samples, I am sure that the latter will speak very much more eloquently than any words of mine.
– Why have not these commodities been previously grown ?
– We know very well that it is a very difficult matter for a man to start a new industry in a country where the conveniences of civilization are not great, and where access to market is not easy. If a -man be favorably situated, he can sometimes establish a business successfully without the aid of capital. But to do so requires a combination of extremely favorable circumstances. I have no doubt that this continent - if permitted to go along in its own way - would in course of time produce every product known to the world. But two or three centuries may elapse before that condition is realised. If we can expedite the establishment of these natural industries, it is our duty to do so. If we are possessed of the British pluck with which we ought to be endowed, one or two failures ought not to discourage us. If we look, at the number of persons who engage in business pursuits, we find that only a small percentage are successful. That fact, however, does not induce us to believethat business methods should be discontinued.
– The only question- is - “ What are the best means to encourage the establishment of these industries?’?
– It is the duty of the Commonwealth to use its legislative functions legitimately and wisely for the purpose of encouraging, in any desirable form, the productions of Australia.
– Even in a socialistic form ?
– Socialism is a term which nobody can define. The great Edmund Burke described the position very many years ago when he said it was beyond the judgment of any man to say where a line of demarcation could be drawn between State function and private enterprise. This is a question to be settled by the application, not of nebulous theoretical considerations, but by the common sense and good judgment of experienced legislators. I am quite prepared to favour State support to any industry that requires a stimulus, so long as I am satisfied that it is in the interests of the people as a whole that such encouragement should be given. But the question is one that must not be considered from a mere theoretical stand-point; it must be dealt with on a purely practical basis. Reference has been made to the establishment of a Federal Department of Agriculture. I am wholly in accord with that proposal. It was one of the planks of my election platform, and I have pleasure in indorsing the principle in the House to-day. The establishment of such a Department, before this Bill is passed, however, does not appear tome to be essentially necessary. More than one honorable member has referred to the work done by the Bureau of Agriculture in the United States of America, but we know that at the present time agricultural education in the United States is being disseminated both by the Federal power and the States Governments. The probability is that the operations of the States in their educational influences are just as far-reaching and as effective as are the more national operations of the Federal Department.
– Because they are co-ordinated.
– They are in some respects, but in America, State control is not altogether divorced even from the most important experimental land functions conducted in the various States.
– There they educate the people instead of paying bonuses on the production of certain products.
– But protective duties, which have, to a large extent, the same effect, are imposed. The growth of many of the products to which this Bill relates is stimulated in America by the operation of border Customs duties. To my mind, the chief utility of a Federal Department of Agriculture is that it would regulate our export trade. At the present time there are being exported from the different States goods bearing brands relating to those States. What we need to do is to secure uniform brands, and to raise the products of Australia to a certain standard to be recognised by a Commonwealth brand. In this way our products, when placed on the British market, would enjoy a much greater prestige than they secure as the products of individual States.
– Their prestige might be brought down.
– It might be, but that is a matter of efficiency of administration. The Quarantine Bill, which was under consideration a few- days ago, provides also for stock inspection. I think that we should have Federal control and uniform laws in that respect. The technical education of the people throughout the various States, however, might very well be left for some considerable time to the Govern-* ments of the States. The Victorian Department of Agriculture has been most successful in the experimental work of the laboratory, and also in the dissemination of technical knowledge throughout the agricultural districts of the State. It has likewise done valuable and lasting work by means of experimental plots, and I hold that technical education, and the dissemination of scientific agricultural knowledge generally, might very well be left to the various States- I should like to conclude with a brief reference to the question of afforestation, which was dealt with by the Attorney-General in the course of the admirable speech which he made in moving the second reading of the Bill. The work is one that must be left for some time to the States, since they own the land, their position in that regard being very different from the States of America. But if a reference in this House to such a work will tend to stimulate the States into action, much good will be done. The Forestry Department is one of the most important and lucrative in Germany, France, Norway, Switzerland, and Russia, and the probability is that of all the leading nations of the world, the Anglo-Saxon race has been the most backward in the work of forest conservation. I understand that when the Bill is under consideration in Committee we shall have an opportunity to freely exercise our rights to vote for or against any item in the schedule, but with its general principle - the principle of granting bounties - I am i’.i hearty accord.
– To my mind this Bill is good in its intentions, but very awkward in its incidence, and that which it is sought to accomplish by it could be best secured by what is known as “ the new protection.” The bounty system seems to cast on the Government the onus of determining what new products shall be selected for cultivation here, and it virtually amounts to a speculation with the people’s money, a speculation from which the people obtain no return, the individual securing the exclusive benefit. The honorable member for Wimmera has referred to the necessity for encouraging by monetary aid the growth of new industries, but to my mind the object which we have in view could best be obtained by the establishment of a State Bank, which would be in a position to furnish assistance to the .pioneers in these ventures when they were most in need of it. Under the Bill, as it stands, the struggle and the stress of the work associated with these experiments is to be endured by those who engage in them before the Government comes to their aid. A State bank, however, would provide a solution of the difficulty. The system has been successfully tried in New Zealand, and I feel confident that the pioneers who were assisted by means of a State Bank would readily recognise their obligations to it. The knowledge of what they owed to it would be to them an incentive to success. Under the aegis of the Government there would be no fear of such an institution bringing undue pressure to bear upon those who were engaged in these industries. The means of encouragement provided for in this Bill are to my mind intricate if not unconstitutional. As a’ condition precedent to the founding of a State Bank with the object of assisting those who embarked upon new enterprises, I should like the policy of the new protection to be adopted by the Commonwealth, and in that way a recognised means of encouraging such industries as it is desirable to foster here would be employed. No more effective means of stimulating such industries could be found than is supplied by the raising of the Tariff to an effective level of protection, and by opening up our natural opportunities. We hear a great deal about the necessity for advertising Australia, and various fanciful schemes of publishing abroad what can be done here are from time to time put forward. It seems to me, however, that if natural opportunities to settle here are offered the white citizens of other lands, nothing more will be necessary. When a new gold-field is discovered in Australia a rush immediately takes place,, and we do not find it necessary to advertise the new find in the London Times. And so if it were known that we had in other than the tropical parts of Australia thousands of acres of arable land, ready for settlement, possessed of good railway service, and in proximity to a market, that land would be immediately rushed. If, instead of compelling people, as we do nowadays, to gamble for a piece of land, we were able to offer a block to any decent white citizen who chose to apply for it the necessity to encourage our industries would largely disappear. I favour the policy of protection, because I believe that, without it, an attempt to start an industry in a new country is immediately met by an effort to swamp it on the part of those who have established it in other lands. We have heard to-day of the cheap labour of other lands, but we have no fear of cheap labour in protected countries. The cry that has been raised that it would be impossible for us to cope with the cheap labour employed in many primary industries in eastern countries is more or less a fiction. Cheap labour does not necessarily mean cheap goods. Although in those countries cheap labour is employed in the production of such goods as rubber, jute, and cotton, the goods themselves are not allowed to become cheap. The trade in them is regulated and cornered. But if, in the absence of protective duties, we attempted to produce these goods in Australia, the manufacturers there who are able to command a full supply of cheap coloured labour would materially reduce their prices, with the result that it would be almost impossible to found the industry here. I do not wish it to be understood for one moment that I am weakening in my adhesion- to the principle of a White Australia. My object is merely to show that the cheap labour of eastern countries has not, in itself, resulted in cheap products, and that, if we could obtain a fair price for tobacco, rubber, cotton, and other products mentioned in the schedule, it would pay us to raise them in Australia. I recognise the necessity for protection, because of the inevitable competition that would otherwise ensue as soon as we attempted to cultivate these products here. I subscribe entirely to the policy of protection as being the more constitutional means of aiding Australian progression, whilst I think that our efforts in this direction would be materially assisted by the establishment of a State bank, and the opening up of the natural opportunities offering in even the tropical areas of Australia. It is all very well to talk of granting bounties now ; but the time is not opportune for the application of the system to the enterprises covered by the Bill. We have made no provision for the growth of many of these products, and some time must elapse before this Bill can operate to materially assist those who enter upon these undertakings. If we had a State bank there would be no need for the proposed bounties. The establishment of a State bank, together with the adoption of the policy of the new protection and the giving of natural opportunities to the people to enter upon these enterprises, is all that we require.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [5.14]. - I have no desire to prolong this debate, but, since I fmd myself in somewhat of a difficulty ^ I am unwilling to give a silent vote on the motion for the second reading of this Bill. I desire at the outset to make reference to the point raised by the honorable member Tor Parramatta and others that the time is inopportune for the introduction of this Bill, since the Tariff proposals of the Government have not yet been, submitted. I shall not repeat the reasons which were given by those honorable members, who placed their arguments before the House far more lucidly than I should probably do. I should like to say, however, that I was deeply impressed by the cogency of the reasons which they advanced ; and, if there were a motion for the postponement of the further consideration of this Bill, until after the Tariff has been debated, I should undoubtedly vote for it. But there is another reason, which, though I do not think it was specially mentioned by those honorable members, presents itself to me as one for postponing the Bill. A number of the products which are set forth in the schedule may be made the subject of protective duties under the
Tariff ; and it is’ desirable that we should know exactly what the Government intentions are in regard to those products before we attempt to legislate as to bounties. 1 shall take only the one instance of raw coffee. Under the old Queensland Tariff, which was strongly protective of this product, the production’ of coffee was advancing in the most gratifying way. A number of plantations were started, and there was every indication that they would be eminently successful. But the duty was reduced ; and I believe I am correct in saying that there is now only one plantation, namely, that at Kuranda, which, probably, some honorable members have visited.
– Is coffee not being grown in the Maroochy district - some coffee of the best quality.
Colonel FOXTON.- I am not aware of the fact ; at all events, a number of plantations have gone out of cultivation. I am not in a position to give figures, but the production of coffee has necessarily been materially reduced, and a thriving and valuable industry practically obliterated. It is now proposed to give a bounty on the production of raw coffee to the extent of a id. per lb., up to £i5°o* a year for eight years.
– Did the plantations fail on account of the reduction of the duty ?
Colonel FOXTON.- So it was alleged by the growers. But, curiously enough, not only the reduction of the Tariff, but the abolition of the duty on tea materially affected the production of raw coffee. The tea became cheaper, and it was alleged by the coffee-growers that that resulted in a less demand for coffee. I do not know how far the coffee-growers were correct, but that was the statement made to me by some of those who went out of the industry, and particularly by one man at Kuranda who is still growing coffee. I hold that, as a general principle, in a country where there are protective duties, it is fair and reasonable, in regard to products which are, or are likely to be, in the bulk produced for export only, to give a bonus to compensate those engaged for the high prices which the incidence of protection in other directions imposes on them. Coffee, however, we can never hope to export; there is a larger demand within the limits of Australia than can possibly be met for, probably generations by’ any system we can adopt for the encouragement of its production. It is doubtful whether the proposed bounty would be as beneficial in the encouragement of the industry as a protective duty would be, bearing in mind the fact that the bounty is for the limited period of eight years. For this reason, I hold that, in the case of coffee, for instance, we ought to know what are the intentions of the Government in regard to the imposition of a protective duty. If this Bill were passed with the schedule in its present form, I can quite understand that, when the Tariff came up for consideration, strong objection might be made to granting that protection which I hold is essential to make the coffee-growing industry profitable in Australia on the ground that it had been already provided for by way of bounty. That is an additional reason why it is particularly desirable that we should have the whole of the Tariff proposals of the Government before us when we are considering this Bill. I have referred to a difficulty in which I find myself in connexion with the support I propose to give to the measure. The difficulty arises from the fact that in Queensland there have been granted, at various times, bonuses or bounties for the production of articles of commerce, and, with one exception, they have been complete failures ; that is to say, they have failed in permanently establishing the industries they were designed to encourage. And yet I do not feel justified in opposing this Bill, which is designated to encourage industries nearly all of which are peculiarly suited to the State of which I am a representative.
– Would the honorable member apply that to the sugar industry ?
Colonel FOXTON.- There is no bonus on the production of sugar.
– I refer to the whitelabour bonus.
Colonel FOXTON.- That is a totally different matter. I am speaking of unfettered production, and the bonus to which the honorable member refers is for a particular class of labour. I may deal with the point later on, but it is outside the scope of my argument at the present time. I am speaking of the bounties proposed by this Bill ; and here I should like to say that there appears to me a distinction which may be drawn between bonuses and bounties. I do not know that there is any real difference; but, especially in Queensland legislation, a distinction has been made. It has been urged that the success of the bounty system in connexion with the best-sugar industry in Europe is a complete answer to those who have doubts as to the efficacy of granting bounties such as are proposed in the Bill. But there is an inherent and essential difference between the two systems. The bonuses proposed in the Bill are to last over periods varying from five years, as a minimum, to fifteen years, as the maximum, olives being fixed at the maximum period; because, as I understand, it takes ten years for the trees to bear.
– That is not correct.
Colonel FOXTON.- It was so stated by an honorable member who appeared to know all about the matter.
– I have seen olive trees bear in less than half that time.
– Under irrigation?
Colonel FOXTON. - I have had no experience myself, but if the honorable member for Riverina is correct, there would remain ten years for the operation of the bounty. In any case, the period is limited, and it is hoped that by the granting of the bounties the industries, whatever they may be, will be able to stand on their own feet without assistance after that period. The bounty system which has been adopted in connexion with the beet-sugar industry in Europe is of a totally different character. It is, apparently, admitted on all hands that it is necessary to there have that bounty permanently ; and the success of a temporary measure cannot be gauged by the success which has attended the permanent system on the Continent of Europe. One honorable member asked what was the good of granting bounties since there is no land to be had. That is news to me, coming, as I do, from Queensland, with its huge areas of agricultural land in districts which have a splendid rainfall. There is land in Queensland to be had at 2s. 6d. an acre, with ten years to pay, in instalments of 3d. per acre.
– Is that land covered with prickly pear?
Colonel FOXTON.- Certainly not; it is as fine land as can be found in the world. The one condition which is imposed on the granting of the land at such a low rate is that the holder shall permanently reside on it for five years; personal residence is the one test, and if it be complied with a man can get 160 acres of magnificent land for the price I have mentioned. What is wanted is population. The honorable member for South Sydney said he knew of numbers of people who were leaving the southern parts of Australia to take up land in the northern parts. That, of course, is desirable from our northern point of view, but it is not desirable from the point of view from which we, representing Australia as a whole, should regard the circumstance. I should prefer to see Queensland peopled, not at the expense of our southern neighbours, but by immigrants from over the seas. I have noticed from the reports of deputations upon Ministers that there is unfortunately a strong objection on the part of a large section of the community to the immigration of any but person’s who will immediately settle upon our lands.
– Population is leaving Victoria to go north, so that immigrants are not wanted here. There is no room for more people here ; at least, the State is not making room.
Colonel FOXTON. - Of course, there is more room in the north, but there is plenty of room for population everywhere in Australia. Now that the advantages offered bv
Queensland are becoming better known in the south, more people are going there, and as they become better known in the mother country and in other parts of the world, we shall, no doubt, obtain a large number of suitable immigrants. Immigration will rapidly (increase if the present restrictions are removed, and means taken to encourage it. During the debate a good deal has been said about the cotton industry ; but many of those who have spoken were unfortunately supplied only with the report of the Conference of experts, and had not in their possession the supplementary reports of the Queensland Agricultural Department. Consequently they expressed serious doubts as to the advisability of granting a bounty for the production of cotton. Had they read the reports of the Queensland experts, and known, as I do, that any one of these experts has more practical knowledge of cotton growing than all the others put together, they would have arrived at a different conclusion. I should like to read the following table supplied by the Queensland Department, which shows the cost of production, average yield, market price, and net profit per acre of cotton when grown in that State under ordinary favorable conditions of soil, rainfall, and good cultivation -
If those figures do not show the cotton industry to be one worthy of encouragement, I do not know what would do so.
– They make it appear that the industry hardly needs encouragement.
Colonel FOXTON.- The only point upon which I express any doubt is as to the cost of picking, which is set down at d. per lb. In my youth I have picked cotton more or less as a pastime, and know that, thirty-five or forty years ago, the price invariably paid for picking was id. per lb. Still, the table I have read was prepared by men of considerable experience. A special report has been furnished by Mr. Daniel Jones, who to-day is. probably one of the best authorities on cotton growing in Australia. His father, whom I knew many years ago, was a farmer at
Redbank Plains, where he grew a considerable quantity of cotton, and the son himself has been engaged in the industry, so that he is a thoroughly practical man. As the history .of cotton growing in Queensland has been referred to by several speakers, I may be pardoned for giving it at some length, especially as at least one honorable member has expressed the desire that I should do so. In the early sixties a bonus for the production of cotton was given by the Government of Queensland - 1 think in the shape of a money order which would be accepted in payment for Crown lands under certain conditions of alienation. The export of cotton from the State began in 1861, and in 1862 14,000 lbs. were exported. Six years later the exportation had risen to 2,000,000 lbs., and three years later still - in 1871 - to over 2,500,000 lbs., valued at £80,000.
– The industry flourished during the American war.
Colonel FOXTON. - The price of cotton rose considerably during the war. By 1888 the exportation of cotton from Queensland had dwindled to 43,000 lbs., showing that the industry could not keep going without the assistance of a bonus, and during times of low prices.
– ‘Other causes contributed to the decline. A disease attacked the plants, and it was not known how to utilize by-products.
Colonel FOXTON.- I was about to refer to that. During the time of which I am speaking great heaps of cotton seed, probably amounting to thousands of tons, went to waste, as sawdust goes to waste to-day. It was almost impossible for the cotton ginners to get rid of it. The popular idea was that it made good manure; but I did not find that to be so. At any rate, any one who would cart it away was welcome to do so. To-day, however, there is almost as much money to be made from cotton seed as from cotton, because of its value for the production of oil. We have been informed that Messrs. Kitchen and Sons have an establishment for the manufacture of oil, and that other firms are making inquiries into the advisability of doing so, so that there is every prospect that the stimulation given by a bounty and the value of bv-products will cause the industry, when taken up again, to prove a success. In 1905, there were 1.71 acres under cotton in Queensland, while in the previous year the area was only thirty acres. This year, however, 500 acres have been cultivated, and the giving of a bounty should stimulate growers to still further exertions. Notwithstanding the previous failure of the industry, there isnow a fair prospect of its being, established on a satisfactory basis. The later developments in the cotton industry in Queensland were due to the fact that some few years ago a bonus of £5,000- was offered for the first five thousand yardsof cotton goods manufactured there. A company was (formed, and a mill was. started at Limestone, just outside the town of Ipswich. Operations were carried on for some time, until the bonus had been earned,, and then the mill closed down, owing to a variety of reasons. One of these was that the farmers could not be induced to grow cotton to the extent necessary to keep the mill employed. Other reasons were also advanced. It was alleged that the drought had something to do with the discontinuance of operations, and alsothe fact that other crops could be grown, at greater profit. Further, it was stated that the mill was started with insufficient capital. Be that as it may, there is the mill waiting to convert the cotton which we are able to produce into calico and other goods. My own experience leads me to believe that cotton cannot be grown in Australia in large areas under present labour conditions. It is an article which can heproduced only as subsidiary to other farm products, because the picking of cotton - as is mentioned in the report of the Queensland expert - is employment which is most suited to women and children. They make really better pickers than domen, because their fingers can get further into the cotton bolls. It will be only the small grower with a family in a position to pick the few acres of cotton which he is able to cultivate, who will be able to make a success of this product. I am glad to see that in the Bill provision is made that the employment of aboriginesshall not prevent the payment of bounties: upon the production of any of the articles specified in the schedule, f am particularly pleased that this is so, because there are nobetter cotton pickers than are the aborigines. There is one provision in the Bil! which I think is likely to prove somewhat of a trap to growers of many of these products. I allude to the provision which invests the Minister with power to withhold’ the bounty in respect of any goods which have been produced if he considers that » fair rate of wages has not been paid.
– That provision is exactly similar to the clause which is contained in the Sugar Bounty Act.
Colonel FOXTON. - I was not aware of that, because I had not compared the two. If the provision be administered in the same way that the regulation regarding labour in- the cane-fields has been administered, no great exception can be taken to it. But I would point out that in the latter case the rate of wage is laid down before the cane is cut, whereas in this Bill no mention is made that the rate of wage shall be specified in advance. On the contrary, the Minister may step in at any time and say to a grower, “ I do not consider that the rate of wage paid by you was fair, and therefore I shall not grant you the bounty.” If, however, the provision is administered upon similar lines to the Sugar Bounty Act very little exception can be taken to it. Whilst speaking of the way in which the regulation regarding the employment of labour upon tlie sugar plantations has been administered, I wish to point to one pit-fall which should be very carefully avoided by the Minister. In a huge territory such as Queensland - to say nothing of the whole of Australia - care should be taken not to lay down one standard wage for the whole area. It seems to me that to do so would be to ignore patent facts. What is a fair wage in the south of Queensland is by no means a fair wage in the far north.
– The provision in question relates to the wage ruling in any particular district:
Colonel FOXTON.- But why should the whole of a State or probably the whole of Australia be regarded as one district and a minimum wage, say of 22s. 6d. be fixed for it?
– Does not the honorable member think that 22s. 6d. per week is little enough?
Colonel FOXTON. - I am not discussing the amount, but rather the principle that is involved. The honorable member has not been following my remarks. I was hoping that I had made myself intelligible to everybody. I merely instanced the regulation framed in connexion with the Sugar Bounty Bill, which provides that 2’2s. 6d. shall be the rate of wage for the whole of Queensland and the northern portion of New South Wales. I say that the method adopted in dealing with this ques tion is not a practicable one. It may happen that £1 per week is a fair wage in one district, whilst 25s. is only a fair wage in another district. These facts should be borne in mind. I hold in my hand a copy of a letter which was’ written by a farmer on the Darling Downs, where, of course, sugar cannot be grown. In it he states that the effect of offering 22s. 6d. per week with rations for labourers in the canefields has been to deplete the Downs of agricultural labourers, who have gone into the neighbouring district of Bundaberg, where they are able to command more wages.
– :Does the honorable member consider that 22s. 6d.” per week for labourers in the cane-fields is too much ?
Colonel FOXTON.- I am not expressing the slightest opinion as to whether or not it is sufficient. Probably it is not sufficient in the northern portions of Queensland, while it may be too much in the southern portions of that State. I repeat that farm labourers axe being attracted from the wheat-growers on the Darling Downs into the adjacent district of Bundaberg, with the result that the farmers are not able to get as much labour for harvesting purposes as they have hitherto done.
– Does the honorable member know of any sugar plantation in which a wage of 22 s. 6d. per week with rations is too high?
Colonel FOXTON.- I wish the honorable member clearly to understand that I am not expressing an opinion as to whether that wage is sufficient or otherwise. I am merely pointing out the undesirableness of fixing a standard wage for all the districts in which any one of these commodities may be produced.
– Where is there a proposal to establish a uniform wage throughout the States ?
Colonel FOXTON.- There is no such proposal. I am merely warning the Government against adopting the unbusinesslike method which has been adopted in connexion with the sugar industry. I repeat that 22s. 6d. per week, with rations, has been laid down as a proper wage to be paid throughout the whole of Queensland. In Brisbane, at this time of the year, the nights are as cold as they are in Melbourne
– Brisbane enjoys the best climate to be found in Australia.
Colonel FOXTON. - I quite agree with the Attorney-General.
– Except during a few months of the summer.
Colonel FOXTON.- I am sure the honorable member for Cook will admit that it would be worth more to work in the canefields or coffee-plantations of Port Darwin than it is to work in Brisbane.
– Sugar is not grown in Brisbane.
Colonel FOXTON.- The honorable member does not know what he is talking about. As a matter of fact, a very considerable quantity of sugar is grown nearly too miles south of Brisbane. I hope that the honorable member will now be satisfied. If he questions my statement he is at liberty to do so.
– Nevertheless, I do not think that Queensland regards the sugar plantations south of Brisbane as her principal cane-fields. 1
Colonel FOXTON.- Sugar is grown south of Brisbane. Cane is being grown upon my own land. I hope that I have said sufficient to indicate to the Minister that it is extremely undesirable to fix a standard wage which shall operate uniformly throughout the States or throughout any huge district in which any one of these products may be grown. It almost necessarily follows from varying conditions as to population, climate, and the cost of living, that what is a fair wage in one district may not be a fair wage in another.
.- I have listened very attentively during this debate to the arguments which have been adduced, both in favour of, and in opposition to, the introduction of this Bill, and I fail to see any particular necessity for its introduction at the present stage. In moving the second reading of the measure, the Attorney-General declared that his desire was to encourage agriculture in the Commonwealth. We all wish to do that. When, however, the honorable and learned gentleman was asked to show how this Bill would encourage agriculture, he studiously refrained from answering. To my mind, it is extremely doubtful whether this or anyother Bounty Bill will encourage agricultural pursuits to any appreciable’ extent.
– Nor any other industry - the establishment of ironworks, for example ?
– There is one way in which the Government - if they are in earnest in their desire to encourage the establishment of industries - might do so. They might encourage an enterprise which stands head and shoulders above any of the industries which it is proposed to foster under this Bill.
– I think that my statement is not open to question. Everybody will admit that the industry to which 1 refer - the iron industry - is entitled to special treatment upon these lines. If the honorable and learned gentleman had submitted such a proposal he might have found me on a side different from that on which I stand to-day.
– Who killed the Bill when it was last before us?
– I was not then a member of this Legislature. The effect of this Bill will not be what is desired, and I also think that the time is inopportune for its introduction. It may be that it is thrown out as a sort of sop to some agriculturists in anticipation of the imposition of yet heavier duties under the new Tariff that we are to have some day. The Government so far has not shown itself very anxious to assist the agriculturist unless the piling up of increased duties on almost every implement that he uses can be deemed encouragement. The consideration that appeals most to my mind, however, is that advanced by the honorable and learned member for Flinders, and which may be described as the financial argument. The only answer given on behalf of the Government is that made by their loyal and faithful supporter the honorable member for Gippsland, who declared that they were perfectly justified in asking us to vote these bounties regardless of what funds might remain for any other purpose. Such an argument is, to my mind, that of the prodigal and the spendthrift rather than of a man of business. The argument as to where the money is to come from appeals to some of us very strongly because of our personal experiences. Various things which seemed very desirable have come before us from time to time, but when we have been met with the financial argument we have been forced to put them aside for a more convenient season. We must recognise that we have to face a decreasing revenue. If the statements made during the last general election campaign mean anything we are going to have effective protection. The further we go in that direction the less revenue we shall obtain from our Customs duties. We have to face not only a decreased revenue but a largely increased expenditure. On almost every hand we are told that our expenditure is to be increased. We have already agreed to a considerable expenditure in connexion with the transcontinental railway survey, and if that work be carried out, it will probably lead to the expenditure of a very much larger sum. Then again, if we take over the Northern Territory, we shall have at the outset to face a deficit of between £180,000 and £200,000 a year on the cost of its administration. We are told also that we need an increased expenditure - and I think we dc- - on our defences. The Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the administration of Papua has likewise reported that if that Territory is to be administered effectually, we must be prepared to make a largely increased grant in that direction. Then we have the proposal of the Postmaster-General to introduce penny postage, and that, if adopted, will make a difference in our revenue. Without repeating the arguments which the honorable and learned member for Flinders so well put forward, I mav say that I think we might well wait until the Treasurer submits his financial statement before dealing with this Bill. I am at one with the honorable member for Parramatta in the belief that if the Government have money to expend in this way, they might employ it far more effectively in establishing a Federal Department of Agriculture. The honorable member for Laanecoorie said that the Bill was to encourage agriculture more particularly in the temperate regions. Most of the products mentioned in the schedule, however, are tropical productions, and- in regard to all of them we should have to compete successfully with the productions of Asia and its islands. I believe with the honorable member who has charge of “this Bill that in the northern parts Of Australia we have many acres suitable for the production of rice. But should we ever be able to produce rice so cheaply as to compete successfully with the cheap labour employed in the rice fields of China, Korea, Japan, and other nations? I think it very doubtful. Notwithstanding the remark made by the honorable member who has just resumed his seat, I am. very doubtful whether we can establish the cotton industry in Australia. An attempt in that direction, however, appeals strongly to me. In common with all manufacturing countries, we are anxious that the monopoly at present held by the southern States of America should be broken down. But here again we are confronted with the labour problem. Hand labour is still very largely used in the production of cotton. Burkett and Poe, who were quoted by the Attorney-General last night, say in their work, Cotton -
It has been said that within fifty years the time of human labour required to produce a bushel of corn has decreased from four hours to thirty-four minutes, and for a bushel of wheat from three hours ten minutes to ten minutes, while it is doubtful if the time of human labour required to produce a lb. of cotton has diminished even one-third.
The diminution in time that has taken place has been almost entirely in connexion with the early cultivation of the cotton, and not in the picking and harvesting of the crop. Proposals have been, and are still being, made to apply mechanical devices to the picking of cotton, but so far as -I know no such device has yet proved successful. Black labour is still a most important factor in the cultivation of cotton in America, and the black labour problem is that which we have to solve before we can hope to introduce these tropical cultivations into Australia. The Attorney-General quoted from Cotton a passage showing that white farmers and their families have been successful in the production of cotton on small farms in America. I think that is true ; but still white farmers having no families almost universally employ the black man, or the black man’s children, to pick the cotton. When we find that white children are being employed, even by their own parents, in doing this kind of work, we are reminded of what has been a very vital problem in the history of the United States - the problem of child labour. During the depression in the cotton trade in America - a depression that extended over ten years, but has fortunately passed away - many of these smaller white farmers, and their families, forsaking their holdings, took up their residence in towns where the children, who were formerly employed in the picking of cotton, were to a large extent drafted into cotton factories, thus rendering more acute the problem of child labour in that branch of the industry. I do not wish to see anything of the kind happening in connexion with our Australian children. There is a good deal in the song of the old darkie -
Bout de world a turnin’ roun’,
Till my head gets sorter dizzy
As Istan’ upon the groun’ ;
But let her keep a turnin’
If ‘twill bring a better day,
When a man can mek a livin’,
While his chillun learn an’ play.
I was reading to-day Cotton, the work to which I have already referred, and for which I am under a debt of gratitude to the Attorney-General, as I am, in these times of many books and much weariness of the flesh, to any one who puts me in touch with a book that is really worth reading. In that work there is a chapter dealing with the possibilities of the competition of other countries in the growth of cotton, and a quotation from it may be welcome to the House. The writer shows, in the first place, that the competition comes principally from India and the East Indies, from Egypt and Brazil, but that the southern States still supply more than threefourths of the world’s demand for cotton, and that they have practically a monopoly in that respect. Referring to India he says -
And yet in spite of the enormous subsidies (virtually) which were paid, and the energy with which the experiment was prosecuted, it was found impossible, even with artificial inflation, to carry the Indian crop beyond 3,000,000 bales.
The West African correspondent of the Times is quoted to show that -
The much vaunted colonies of West Africa under the most favorable circumstances, will not be capable of producing more than 350,000 bales, and these figures will not be attained for years - if ever.
And the Report of the National Department of Agriculture of America for December, 1905, contains these words -
The organized efforts of the powerful associations of cotton manufacturers of Great Britain, Germany, and France to establish and stimulate cotton production in the Colonies of those countries, which began early in 1903, with a large capital subscribed for promotion, have, so far, resulted in no perceptible addition to the world’s cotton crop, and there are no present indications of a competition of new fields of production which will materially affect the upland cotton of this country for many years.
What appears to me to be the “most unkindest cut of all “ is a quotation from the report of the Royal Commission sent out by the British Government to investigate the cotton-growing possibilities of East Africa. It is as follows -
All efforts to raise cotton successfully elsewhere than in the southern part of the United States have failed. This is the home of the cotton plant, and if it will grow elsewhere to the extent that the staple have a substantial commercial value, the fact is yet to be demonstrated. It was experimented with under different suns during and after the American Civil war, and all the experiments failed. Providence has given to the southern farmer a monopoly of the indispensable cotton crop, and he need not take fright when the price soars, and there are heard threats of turning Africa, Egypt, and other countries into cotton fields, and making them furnish the world’s supply.
These quotations, to my mind, justify the conclusion of the Royal Commission that -
At the same time the members agree that the prospects of the industry in Australia are not specially promising.
There is only one other aspect of the question which I should like to bring before honorable members. When we deal with the encouragement of these tropical productions, we are faced with the question of what is to be our policy in regard to the development of Papua. I think every honorable member realizes the great necessity there is for the proper administration of that country. The attitude of the Imperial Government towards the Commonwealth and this Parliament in regard to the other British Possessions in the seas around us, may, to a great extent, depend on the success with which we administer this, our first, external territory. Before we can effectually deal with the Bounties Bill we must ascertain what the policy of the Commonwealth Government is, not only in regard to the Tariff concessions, but in regard to the whole administration of that territory.. Most of those tropical productions - rubber, cocoa-nuts, copra, coffee and jute - have been urged by the Royal Commission as suitable for cultivation in Papua. In regard to coffee, the Royal Commission, on page 19 of their report, say -
Being convinced that much of the country is peculiarly adapted to the growth of coffee, your Commissioners consider that every effort should be made to foster this industry, and they think that the Commonwealth Government should give this industry the advantage of a certain Tariff preference as against the outside world, and that, when the production warrants it, the local administration should see to the hulling, grading, and branding of the product for the grower.
Tobacco and sisal hemp are other products which are recommended by the British Royal Commission for cultivation in
Papua; and we seem to have in that territory, better than in any other part of the Commonwealth, an opportunity to encourage their production. The report of the Royal Commission goes on -
In view of the cheap labour supply available, cotton growing should prove a remunerative industry if the climate conditions are sufficiently favorable. . -. . There are tracts with sufficiently defined dry seasons to permit of its successful cultivation and gathering.
Speaking later on of Mr. English’s plantation at Kapa Kapa, the report says that cotton has done remarkably well, and its cultivation is flourishing.. All these points are, I think, worthy of consideration. We ought to know what the policy of the Government is with regard to Papua before we can give a decisive vote on the proposal to grant the bounties mentioned in the Bill ; and if any proposal is made with the object of postponing the discussion of the measure, I shall support it.
Sitting suspended from 6.25 to 7.4.5 -p.m.
.- It is not my intention to unduly prolong’ the debate; but as I have always favoured any means of increasing primary production, I feel constrained to offer a few remarks on the motion for the second reading of the Bill. As on former occasions, the House seems to be divided into three parties in regard to the measure. There is, first, the party which is opposed to the giving of encouragement to Australian industries. It objects to the Bill, not because of its details, but because of its aim. The second party, while speaking in favour of the development of our industries, makes the excuse that the time is not opportune for the granting of bounties. When will it be opportune, if it is not so now ? In two previous Parliaments attempts have been made to encourage primary production in this way, but without success, because of the opposition offered to them. Now, however, the people have spoken in favour of legislation of this kind, and Members of Parliament have had six years in which to consider what action they shall take. The third party is composed of the supporters of the Bill. In former days the members of the Opposition, when members of State Parliaments, used to say that they were opposed to the imposition of Customs duties, believing that the proper way in which to encourage the establishment of new -industries was to offer bounties or subsidies ; but now that it is proposed to offer bounties, they say, “ The time is not opportune. We must first know what Customs duties are to be imposed.” Therefore, we cannot look to them for assistance in regard to the Bill. But it will ill-become those who have pledged themselves to assist in the establishment of new industries tr> say that the time is not opportune for doing so. There is no time like the present, and I hope that Ministers will go on. with the. Bill until it is passed into law. I was surprised to hear the honorable member for Nepean, who claims to be a free-trader, say that, had the Government proposed a bounty for the production and manufactureof iron, he would have supported it. Surely we have not come to this, that if the industries which would benefit a member’sown constituents are not to be assisted, he will not support recommendations for theassistance of industries in other constituencies. A great deal has been said uponthe labour question. Thirty or forty yearsago it was declared by interested personsthat only a madman would attempt to grow wheat in Riverina; that it would not payto grow wheat there. Similar statementshave been made during this debate. Indeed, so much has been said about cheaplabour that one might be excused for believing that certain honorable members areof the opinion that if we cannot produce certain things in Australia without the aid’ of imported cheap labour, we should not attempt to produce them at all. I am oneof those who think that Australia should’ produce all that it requires for its ownneeds. I believe that there is sufficient white labour available for that purpose, and that if it is paid a fair wage the wholecommunity will benefit. An argument whichis often used against Customs duties is that they increase the burdens of the taxpayers. No doubt, if duties are placed upon the importation of articles which cannot be manufactured or produced locally the importers increase their prices to the disadvantage of” the consumers ; but numberless instances in Victoria and New South Wales make it plain that, if internal production or manu-. facture is increased by the stimulus of protective duties, importers are compelled toreduce their prices in order to keep their goods in the market. Members of the Opposition have spoken of the attempts of” the Victorian Parliament to assist the people - of’ the State as failures. It is true that much of the money expended in carrvingOUt irrigation works has been lost, but, ‘ nevertheless, the educational value of the- enterprise to the agriculturists of the State and the community at large has been very great. . It is true, too, that bounties were not given for the encouragement of settlement in Mildura, but had not the Victorian Government come to the aid of the settlers there, not one would be found at Mildura to-day.
– Mildura had to Le carefully nursed for a period of about ten years
– Yes ; but the present condition of that settlement is a proof of the advantages to be obtained by a community from wise legislation for the encouragement of primary productions. The agriculturists of Australia are admirable men, for whom I have the greatest respect, but they belong to a most conservative class. It is very difficult to make them move out of their groove; in fact, they will not do so unless it is demonstrated to them beyond the possibility of doubt that they .can engage in more profitable work than they are doing. If the Commonwealth Parliament can by its legislation, induce them to move out of their groove, they will eventually admit that they were under a misapprehension as to our intentions, and that they have profited’ immensely as the result of our action. It is proposed to give encouragement to the growing of flax. If the agriculturists of Victoria were asked whether flax will grow in the northern parts of this State, they would say “No”; yet in the electorate of Indi a farmer, who is a little ahead of his class, has demonstrated to his own satisfaction and that of others, that twice as much can be made by growing flax as by growing wheat. It is our duty to make the farmers understand that there is no difficulty about growing flax, neither a special soil, a specia.1 climate, nor special labour being required. Any farmer who can grow wheat can grow flax. The seed is sown in the same way, reaped, harvested, and stacked like hay, and the fibre now prepared by machinery instead of by the old method of retting, or steeping in water. I saw it stated about the end of last year, in a Melbourne newspaper, that flax was being grown at Barnawartha, and thereupon put myself into communication with the grower. I ascertained from him how the crop is sown, cultivated, and harvested. He is cultivating in a light soil, and informed me that any land which will grow wheat will grow flax. His experience shows that the cost of sowing, harvesting with reaper and binder, and stacking is not more than the cost of growing, reaping, and stacking hay, while the value of the flax is £4 a ton, and the crop averages 30 cwt. to the acre, so that the return is j£6 to the acre. Surely we shall do good if, by offering bounties, we stimulate a large number of farmers to grow flax, and thus enable the) Commonwealth to pro- duce fibre instead of sending immense sums of money abroad to purchase it. With regard to the growing of cotton, members have spoken as if Queensland is the only State where cotton can be grown; but, as a matter of fact, it will grow as well in New South Wales and in Victoria. I have here a small sample, part of which I exhibited when the last Bounty Bill was before us, which has been submitted to experts in Melbourne and in London. The cotton produced was grown without artificial aid such as irrigation, the seed being sown in October, and the crop harvested in February. It was grown at Coolnong between Narrandera and Jerilderie, in New South Wales, ,and there are millions of acres in Riverina and on the Victorian side of the Murray consisting of the same soil and possessing the same climate. Some honorable members have asked why these commodities are not extensively cultivated in Australia. My reply is that until we offer some encouragement to persons to engage in these industries we cannot expect them to do so. If we can induce them to undertake the production of these commodities, they will benefit, themselves primarily, but the people of Australia as a whole will also be advantaged to a very great extent. What I have said in regard to cotton and flax might with equal appropriateness be said of jute. I .should also like to see silk included in the items enumerated in the schedule to this Bill. I maintain that silk can be produced in Australia of equal quality to that produced in any part of the world. Its culture is simplicity itself. An innocent-looking worm has merely to be fed upon mulberry leaves, and we are all aware that the mulberry tree will grow in almost any portion of Australia. Seeing that these industries have not been established up to the present time, I think that the Government are acting wisely in endeavouring to foster them. When they have been firmly established, the bounties which it is proposed to grant may be withdrawn, and protective duties substituted for them. I am also in thorough accord with the Government upon the question of the class of labour to be employed in these industries. No syndicate should be permitted to employ cheap labour. As I understand the Government intend defraying the expenses of honorable members who wish to inspect eligible sites for the Federal Capital at Canberra and other places, I should be most pleased to conduct a parliamentary party to the River Murray, with a view to showing honorable members places upon that waterway which has been so long neglected, where tea and rice are being grown to-day.
– I know the Murray well.
– Yet the honorable member has not seen those commodities growing there. In considering this Bill, it seems to me that we have merely to ask ourselves whether we favour encouraging Australian industries in order that the people of the Commonwealth may be supplied with their own productions, or whether we prefer to continue sending millions sterling out of Australia every year to provide labour elsewhere, whilst our own workmen are being neglected. It is only . by the imposition of Customs duties, or by the payment of bounties, that new industries can be established. Some honorable members are in doubt as to which of the two alternatives they ought to support. Personally, I am prepared to support either or both, and I am satisfied that whatever sacrifice we may make to encourage local production will be amply repaid by way of increased prosperity to our own people.
.- Last evening some Ministerial supporters took it upon themselves to lecture honorable members upon this side of the House because of the attitude which they have adopted towards this Bill. They twitted them with inconsistency because some members of the corner upon this side of the Chamber who favour the granting of bounties under certain conditions are of opinion that the present is not an opportune time to bring forward this measure, and that it would be more business-like to consider it in the light of the new Tariff.
– Would the honorable member vote for it at any time?
– I shall state the attitude which I intend to adopt towards the Bill in no uncertain terms. Amongst those who particularly censured members’ of the Opposition was the honorable member for Gippsland, who seems to have arrogated to himself the position of lecturer-general to members of this House. That is a trivial circumstance that we can afford to smile at as a not unfamiliar form of arrogance which is occasionally displayed by new members. But seeing the particular time at which, these objections were urged, it occurred to me that some honorable members desired to give the cue to a certain section of the press to raise a storm, of protest against the action of members of the Opposition. At any rate, I have observed that the hint was acted upon. The honorable member for Riverina has charged certain honorable members with being opposed to the encouragement of Australian industries under any circumstances. That accusation certainly cannot apply to myself, or to any of those with whom I am associated. 1 am perfectly satisfied that members of the Opposition are just as anxious as is the honorable member himself to see Australian industries encouraged. What we object to is the encouragement of some industries at the expense and to the discouragement of others. We do not object to industries being encouraged, but we do object to the means by which it is proposed to encourage them.
– How would the honorable member encourage them?
– There is a way to encourage them by inducing people to become more self-reliant, and not so prone to lean upon the Government for support. That is the way to encourage healthy development. It is notorious that the industries which thrive best in all countries are those which have been established without any assistance from the State. The proper way to encourage industries is to see that land is made available for the people to settle upon, that fair conditions are granted, and that there is as little State interference with them as possible. Upon the question of bounties I have always made my position perfectly clear. I object to the payment of bounties save under exceptional conditions when it can be shown that by granting them some great national undertaking will be benefited, from which the whole people will reap a. proportionate advantage.
– Give us an illustration of that.
– Without committing myself to any particular industry or scheme, I might instance work connected with national defence, in which an immense amount of capital might have to be risked for the public benefit. In some exceptional circumstances to grant bounties may be defensible. But there is no justification for granting them simply to encourage private enterprise in ordinary commercial ventures. My objections to the bounty system are cf a three- fold character. In the first place I object to it upon the ground of principle I fail to see how bounties which are granted to private individuals at the expense of the general taxpayer can be defended upon the ground of ethics or logic or from the stand-point of national advantage. My second objection is . that bounties which are granted: to industries that can be profitably established in our midst are a waste of public money. There is no justification whatever for paying bounties to thriving industries. My third objection is that bounties which are granted to industries which it is alleged cannot thrive without them also involve a waste of public money. It is obvious that there could be no advantage to the State, seeing that the Government would have to pay the piper in both cases without deriving any benefit’. Money so expended would result in an absolute loss. The honorable member for Riverina told us just now that cotton, flax, and silk could be successfully produced here, and stated that flax could be cultivated more profitably than wheat in districts where the farmers were devoting their attention to the production of the last-named commodity. If that be so, why do not the farmers forsake the cultivation of wheat for that of flax?
– Because they do not know the true position.
– Then, obviously he has only to be told about it. If we can show the wheat farmer that it is better for him to devote his land to flax culture - and- that the: areas: now being devoted by him to the growth of wheat can be turned to more profitable account by the production of flax - he will quickly take the hint. The farmers on the northern rivers of New South Wales, who at one time devoted almost the whole of their attention .to- the growth of sugar-cane, did not hesitate to take up dairy farming when it was pointed out that it would be more profitable for them to do so. Nowadays, sugar growing in those districts has Deen almost entirely deserted’ in favour of. dairy farming.
– Is it not a fact that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company reduced the price of the cane to such an extent as to almost compel them to resort to dairying?
– I cannot say; but I do know that it was found that dairy farming was more profitable than sugar growing there. I take it that bounties are generally, offered only to encourage the investment of capital in new industries. Under this Bill, however, they are to be offered for the growth of produce that has already been raised, and raised profitably, in Australia. I fail to see why we should be asked to grant a bounty in respect of an industry that is already being profitably carried on in Australia. The production of cotton comes within this category. In the report of the Conference of experts, we find statements inconsistent with those appearing in the reports received from Queensland. For example, in the first paragraph of their report on cotton we have the statement -
After considerable discussion the Conference recognised that the cotton industry is deserving of encouragement. At the same time the members agree that the prospects of the industry in Australia are not specially promising.
If the prospects of the industry are not specially promising, there can be no ground for recommending the payment of a bounty for its encouragement. On the face of it, the report is so discouraging that to recommend the payment of a bounty in such circumstances seems to be little short of madness. In the third paragraph of the report on cotton we have the statement -
Except for the fact that cotton seed has recently become valuable because of the oil that can be extracted from it, and the cake which can be manufactured from the residues, the cotton industry would be utterly without hope in Australia.
In these circumstances, it is most remarkable that the conference should have recommended the payment of a bounty for the encouragement of the industry. When we turn to the reports received from Queensland, we have disclosed a different state of affairs and an absolute reversal of the- conclusions arrived at by the alleged experts who met in conference. According to those reports) cotton has been produced in Queensland since- i860. It was grown in the first instance as the result of a bonus offered by the State Government, and the industry was carried on during’ the continuance of the American Civil war, and the payment of this bonus. With the close of the war, and the cessation of the bonus, however, it failed.’ In 1885 the State Government offered a bonus, not to the growers, but to the manufacturers of cotton goods. A bonus of £5,000 for the production of the first 5,000 yards of cotton goods was offered, with the result that the. requisite quantity was produced, the bonus was drawn, and the industry at once ceased to exist. Later on, as the outcome of experiments by the Queensland Agricultural College, it was demonstrated that cotton could be profitably grown i’n that State, and Messrs. Kitchen and Sons entered, with considerable success, upon the work of cotton raising. On page 5 of the Memorandum which has been circulated, we find in the Queensland report the statement -
Messrs. Kitchen and Sons, of Eagle-street, Brisbane, have established a ginning plant of the latest make, and other oil firms are making inquiries into the matter. The Department in 1905 handled the crop for the farmers in a similar manner as that described for coffee, and the success of the experiment was the reason for the venture of Messrs. Kitchen and Sons. The manufacture of cotton see,d oil being part of the industry accounts for the interest of the firm mentioned. Australia will consume the output for many years to come.
This statement is utterly at variance with that of the experts who met in conference. The contradiction is emphasized in the succeeding paragraph, which reads as follows -
Experiments have proved that cotton can be successfully cultivated in any part of the settled districts of Queensland. The area in 1905 was 171 acres, as against 30 acres in 1904, and about 500 acres are now being grown. The districts in which it. is grown are Moreton, Rockhampton, Port Curtis, the Burnett, .Darling Downs, and Roma, the first-named holding by far the greater area.
The figures I have just quoted show what marvellous strides the industry has been making in Queensland without the application of the bounty system to it. Messrs. Kitchen and Sons started in .1894 with 30 acres, and to-day they are putting 500 acres under cotton cultivation. It has already been stated that other parts of the continent are suitable for the production of this commodity, and if the industry can be successfully carried on in Queensland, we have only to point out to those desirous of entering it the district suitable for cotton culture, in order to secure its establishment without the assistance of a bounty, especially with a rising market as an extra incentive. At page 6 of the
Memorandum we have the statement in the Queensland report -
The demand for cotton in the world’s markets is practically unlimited, but it is unlikely that, for many years to come, the production in Australia will be so great that the necessity of seeking foreign markets will arise.
Dealing with the prospects of the industry, the report gives a quotation from an interview with Mr. Donaldson, the Queensland manager for Kitchen and Sons Limited, which was published in a Melbourne journal. The quotation is as follows -
Last year about 42 tons of unginned cotton was grown in Queensland and handled by the Government. This year Messrs. Kitchen and Sons have entered into the business of ginning, and will probably deal with the entire crop. The firm is offering the farmers 13d. per lb. for their unginned material, and is giving the farmers seed free and paying the railage to Bris-‘ bane, where we have erected ginning machinery, which one day we hope to be able to always keep going. Our offer, including railage, really amounts to 1 3/8d. per lb., and not ijd., and is an improvement on that made by the British Cotton Growers’ Association. This year’s crop will be about the same as last year’s, viz., 42 tons. Next year, however, the firm intends developing the entire business by leasing 100 acres itself and planting cotton seed. This means that the 1907 crop will be at least twice that of 1906. I have already telegraphed to an agent to select suitable land, so that we may go ahead. The acquisition of the 100 acres doubles the acreage under cultivation, and will demonstrate the possibilities of the revived industry. Mr. Daniel Jones, of the Queensland Agricultural Department, who is rendering us every assistance, believes that on the experience of the last two experimental seasons there will be no difficulty about the labour for picking. The average yield to the farmers last year was a clear £g per acre. Mr. Jones thinks the crop will pay better than maize and wheat in many districts. I think, of course, that to develop] the industry and to encourage those who have ventured into it to greater efforts a small Federal bonus is necessary. Once the cotton is produced there is no difficulty in disposing of it in Australia. We don’t need to send it to England. At present we are sending the seed to Melbourne to be pressed and used in the making of soap. The cotton seed cake is used for cattle. The fibre is rapidly sold in connexion with the flannelette and other industries in Australia and New .Zealand. When we have supplied - as we shall not for many years - our own market there is the great Japanese market at our doors. Japan imported 151,000,000 lbs. of cotton in one very recent half year.
It will be seen that there is absolutely no need for a bounty in connexion with the cotton industry. The market of Australiais waiting to absorb all that Australia can produce, and when that market has been> fully supplied, there are the Japanese and other Eastern markets right at our doors. to take all the surplus, if we are to1 believe the statements of those who are expertsand financially interested in the industry. This report has proved very useful and acceptable to honorable members, and that it should be placed at our disposal is in accordance with the usual practice of the Attorney-General - to supply us with every possible information relating to measures of which he is in charge. But, unfortunately for the Minister and for the Government, the report contains information which entirely disposes of the idea that there is any necessity for a bounty in this connexion. I do not propose to quote from the report of Mr. Jones more than one passage, and I quote that only becauseit bears on what was said by the honorable member for Riverina. On page 8, Mr. Jones says -
During the whole of my trip I found farmers interested in cotton, particularly the wheatgrowers, who are disheartened by the many failures in the wheat crop. The evidence to hand of the very luxuriant manner of growth of both the Sea Island and Upland sorts should determine the question as to the profit of cottongrowing. The soils of the Maranoa region are particularly adapted for cotton by virtue of their light, deep nature. In them the cotton shrub roots deeply, and thus gets fertility and moisture inaccessible to most other plants. The quality of fibre showing is in every respect equal to the high standard of quality characteristic of Queensland cotton. A feature of the cotton crop is its hardihood under drought conditions, thus the inland districts here referred to will suit this crop extremely well.
The report goes on to say that there is a very strong probability that cotton may displace wheat in some of those areas to which Mr. Jones refers. If that be the case, it shows that the farmers are already becoming alive to the advantages of cotton growing ; and when they find it to be a more dependable crop, and, according to Mr. Jones, the more profitable crop, ordinary commercial reasons will at once suggest the idea of its substitution for wheat, especially as it grows in the same soil. The question of a bounty for the production of olives was debated very fully when a similar Bill was before the previous Parliament. It was then shown that Sir Samuel Davenport, the pioneer of the olive industry in Australia, or, at any rate, in South Australia, had, without a bounty, successfully established its cultivation in that State, where, I believe, he carries on a very successful plantation to-day. Reference has already been made to the fact that olives were also grown without a bounty at the Mildura settlement; but I understand that the olive trees there were torn up, for what reason I have not been able to exactly ascertain. I presume, however, that the cultivation of the olives was abandoned because it was found more profitable to cultivate raisins, figs, and other fruits. Here, again, the commercial instinct asserted itself, and the Mildura settlers, like sensible people, turned their attention to the more remunerative productions. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo, I believe, also engaged to some extent in the cultivation of the olive ; and, if my memory serves me rightly, I think that when the honorable and learned member spoke on the previous Bill, he related that he had obtained from Mildura or elsewhere some trees which thrived wonderfully well. But he uprooted the trees after a while simply because he found there was no market for his product.
– That is so.
– If there is a market for these products, there is not the slightest doubt they will be produced without the aid of a bounty. I believe that the price of the olive is about 6s. per cwt., and that the picking costs about 2s. per cwt.
– Nonsense !
– Olive berries 6s. per cwt !
– I do not know much about the technical terms, and I donot give that as an authoritative statement; but during the previous debate it was stated that the olive yields about 2 gallons of oil per cwt., and that the price is something like10s. per gallon. If there is a market, that price seems very fair, and should return a handsome profit, providing the cost of production is not too great. However, the complaint seems to be that there is no market, and if that be so, it is absolute folly to offer a bounty for the production of the olive. And if, on the other hand, it is demonstrably a paying industry already in existence, the payment of a bounty to encourage it is equally illogical and indefensible. Nevertheless, we have the peculiar spectacle of a Minister introducing a Bill proposing to give a bounty for the production of something for which it is alleged there is no market. The item of palm oil is, I am afraid, rather a delicate subject to deal with. The term “ palm oil “ is capable of a variety of interpretations, and is associated with practices which I trust will never find encouragement in this House. On referring to the report, I find that that aspect of the matter is accentuated by the description of the palm as a “fleshy” fruit; and it is evidently a subject with which we should deal very tenderly, or, better still, pass over altogether. Tobacco has for some time been produced in Australia under the influence of an extremely high protective duty ; and if, under the circumstances high-grade tobacco is not already produced here, we should not obtain ^better quality by means of a system of bounties. The duty on tobacco is sufficiently high already to offer every inducement for its successful cultivation in its highest possible grade; and if Australian smokers will not use Australian tobacco it is absurd to offer a bounty in view of the failure of the duty.
– Large quantities of Australian tobacco are smoked every day.
– The quantity of Australian tobacco smoked is infinitesimal in comparison with the quantity of imported tobacco consumed. As a matter of fact, I am told by those who should know something of the subject, that the inherent properties of the soil necessary for the cultivation of high-grade tobacco, are not to be found in Australia, and that that is the reason why it cannot be produced.
– Oh, yes it can.
– Well, those who are engaged in the manufacture of tobacco, and would use Australian leaf in preference to imported leaf if they could get the proper quality-
– Did not the Tumut tobacco take a prize?
– That might be for the best Australian tobacco, but not in competition with the world’s tobacco.
– Tumut tobacco took a prize at the Chicago Exhibition.
– A bonus is also offered for the production of coffee. Whether we are in favour of bounties or not, as a principle, if bounties are given they should be for the production of commodities which may possibly form the basis of permanently established industries in Australia. But how can coffee comply with such a condition? Brazil at the present time produces all the coffee that the world can consume. The total consumption of coffee throughout the world is something like 915,000 tons, and there are over 1,000,000 tons produced in Brazil alone.
– What becomes of the surplus?
– As a matter of fact, some of the plantations in Brazil are being destroyed because the surplus goes to waste. The world’s markets are already supplied by Brazil, where coffee has been produced for many years, and yet I suppose the idea underlying these bounty proposals is that in time the Australian producers of the commodity may be able to export. It is desired, not only that this country should be self-contained, meeting its own needs, but that it should have an export as well as a home market. We are, however, asked to give a bounty for the encouragement of a product of which there is already an over supply both in the home market and abroad. Such a ridiculous proposal should be omitted from- the schedule. The report says -
The records available of Australian experience in coffee-growing are by no means encouraging. In the year 1903 there were 31S acres under coffee in Queensland, the total yield being 83,632 lbs. Valuing this at gd. per lb. - which is allowed to be a fair average price - the return would not be more than £10 per acre. Considering the labour involved in clearing and preparing the land, in picking and cleaning for market, and bearing in mind the fact that the plantation does not become productive until it is four years old, this return appears totally inadequate. With all these disadvantages, the fact remains that coffee of a good type can be produced over large portions of Northern Australia, and accordingly a bonus of id. per lb. for eight years is recommended.
In spite of the fact that the industry has proved an absolute failure, it is recommended as a subject for a bounty. To spend the taxpayers’ money in this way is to waste it. If honorable members were asked to advance their own money to help such enterprises, their business instincts would lead them to condemn the proposals as unworthy of a moment’s consideration. No doubt some .of the items in the schedule are being suggested with a view to the development of the Northern Territory.
– Rubber is indigenous there.
– Yes ; and as the price of rubber in the world’s markets is increasing, it will, no doubt, be largely produced in the Northern Territory without Government assistance, assuming that it can be profitably produced there. The possibility of making an immense profit is always a sufficient inducement to investors to spend money on new industries, but where industries are unprofitable, it is useless to attempt to stimulate them, or to bolster them up by artificial means. I have seen fibres grown in the Northern Territory.
– Sisal hemp?
– That, and others, are being grown in the Palmerston Botanic Gardens. It must be remembered, however, that these gardens have been under cultivation for something like twenty-five years, in accordance with the most scientific methods, and that constant care and attention has been given to the plants there, and the fact that certain things have thriven in those gardens on a small scale is not a guarantee that they will do equally well if grown on a large scale outside, and under less favorable auspices as to supervision and preparation of soil. The true test of the advisability of entering upon any line of production is the demand for the thing produced. Whenever there is a demand, there will be a supply to meet it, if the necessary production is likely to prove profitable. But it is useless to oppose proposals for the encouragement of new industries if we cannot offer an alternative scheme. The question is, how can we best promote primary production ?
– The honorable member says that the best tiling to do is to leave the subject alone.
– No; I said nothing of the kind. I said : “ Let the people alone.” What we must do is, first, to make land available for settlement under the freest conditions, and, next, to attract population here.
– Would the honorable member vote for a land tax?
– At the proper time I shall give my views on land taxation ; I cannot do so now without infringing the Standing Orders. To encourage primary production, we must try to bring about closer settlement, by putting an end to the monopolization of huge tracts of country which are not now being used to the best advantage. As the States have control of the public lands of Australia, it is difficult for the Federal Parliament to deal with the abuse of land monopoly, although that has for many years past been the one real obstacle to the increase of population, and the settlement of our rural districts. No bounty system will ever do half as much for tie country as a system of land reform. I do not know of any instance in which an industry has been established and persons permanently settled on the land by the bounty system.
– The butter industry of Victoria was so established. The Victorian butter bonus saved thousands of farmers from ruin.
– It was a disgraceful business.
– The honorable member for Riverina could not have given a worse illustration. The money paid by the Victorian Government for the encouragement of the butter industry went, not into the pockets of the farmers, but into the hands of persons for whom it was never intended. I agree with the suggestions which have been made for the establishment of a National Bureau of Agriculture, and, as last year I spoke on the subject at length, I shall to-night only summarize the main points of my previous speech. If the Commonwealth worked in conjunction with the States authorities in supplying settlers with the best expert information as to the nature, character, and possibilities of soils, their chemistry, the best crops to grow, the conditions most favorable to success, and dealt with all the other points of interest to agriculturists, a great deal would be done for the assistance of primary industries. In New South Wales the State has established institutions like the Hawkesbury Agricultural College and a number of experimental farms, while in Victoria we have the Dookie College, in South Australia the Roseworthy College, and in Queensland the Gatton College, all of them doing useful work. If the Commonwealth spent money in assisting this work, its efforts would be more advantageous to the farmers than would the payment” of haphazard bounties. The experiment of establishing agricultural colleges originated in Germany about 1851, at a place called Moeckern, and gradually extended, until now there are in the country seventy agritural colleges or bureaux for the purpose of giving technical instruction in agricultural processes.
– Bonuses are given, too.
– That must be a very recent development. I have never heard of it, and cannot understand why bonuses should be needed after over half-a-century, of effort such as I describe. Similar experimental colleges and stations were instituted in America in 1875. In 1886 there were twelve of these institutions, and now there are over sixty, with a staff of upwards of 700 expert teachers. The result of the dissemination of agricultural knowledge which has taken place is that dry districts, formerly regarded as worthless, some of them having not more than twelve inches of rain in . a year, are now producing splendid crops. Among the matters covered by these experimental stations are the perfecting of machinery and implements, the composition of soils, the most suitable fertilisers to use in connexion with various soils, tlie best methods of cultivation to adopt, irrigation, drainage, the feeding of stock, with special reference to digestion, and the introduction of drought-resisting seeds and plants. Generally, all questions pertaining to the advancement of agriculture and stockraising are dealt with by these, colleges. In the Washington bureau, I believe hundreds of applications for information are daily received from settlers, and in some cases it is found expedient to send experts to assist the farmers in the practical work of production. These are the lines generally upon which I would prefer to see public money expended if it is thought, necessary to assist rural production. But. I have always been opposed to the granting of bounties. History teaches me that although their payment in the first instance is usually limited to a certain period, that period is almost invariably extended. The plea is set up that if the bounty be withdrawn the industry which it is intended to foster will be ruined. Thus a demand is made for an extension of the term, and usually a sympathetic Legislature accedes to it. Then, when the period of extension has expired and the bounty is ultimately, after further extensions, withdrawn, a protective duty is usually substituted for it, so that as a matter of fact the ill-effect of the bounty does not actually cease with its withdrawal. I think I have made it perfectly clear that I am opposed to the principle of bounties generally, and to the bounties proposed by this Bill in particular. Consequently, the Government cannot expect me to afford the measure any support. Some honorable members opposite have twitted members sitting upon this side of the House, who have expressed themselves in favour of the payment of bounties under certain conditions, with advocating Socialism.
– Hear, hear !
– I wish to point out that some of the. highest socialistic authorities in the world absolutely deny that any State assistance of that, sort can be associated with Socialism. They describe as bogus Socialists people who claim State aid to foster private enterprise. I propose to read, one short extract in support of my statement. The leader of the Labour Party says the Socialism of the party is of the Fabian type. I will, therefore, quote from a Fabian authority. Mr. Hubert Bland says -
State control does not imply Socialism - at least in any modern meaning of the term. It is not so much to the thing the State does, as to the end for which it does it that we must look before we can decide whether it is a Socialist State or not. Socialism is the common holding of the means of production and exchange, and the holding of them for the equal benefit of all. In view of the tone now being adopted bysome of us, I cannot too strongly insist upon the importance of this distinction ; for the losing sight of it by friends, and its intentional obscuration by enemies, constitute a big and immediate danger. . . . Yet this is the sort of sham Socialism which it is as certain as death will be doled out by the popular party in the hope that mere State action will be mistaken for really Socialistic legislation.
Here, then, is one of the! high priests of Socialism who absolutely repudiates the suspicion that anything in the nature of the granting of bounties can be even remotely associated with Socialism. This taunt having been made by several honorable members opposite during the course of the debate, I thought it advisable before resuming my seat to quote one of their own authorities, with a view to showing how absurd is the contention which has been set up. I intend to vote against the second reading of the Bill.
.- The honorable member for Lang speaks very frequently in this House, and often at considerable length. The cardinal principle upon which his remarks are based is the principle of “do nothing.” The great burden of his song is that every form of State enterprise is wrong, and that every industry can best be encouraged by being left severely alone. He has affirmed that those industries which are suitable to Australia will, in the very nature of things, become established here, and that there is not a single instance on record of an industry having, been successfully established in this Continent by means of a bounty.
– I said that I had not heard of one.
– I do not know whether the honorable member limited his remark even to Australia - I am not quite sure that he did. But as soon as the honorable member for Riverina interjected that the butter industry in Victoria had been established as -the result of the payment of the butter’ bonus, the honorable member for Lang shifted his ground, and declared that the butter bonus had found its way, not into the pockets of the producers, but into those of the middlemen. That statement, I would point out, was no answer to the interjection of the honorable member for Riverina.
– Does the honorable member think that the payment of the butter bonus was really responsible’ for the establishment of the butter industry?
– If the honorable member asks me whether the payment of the bonus actually caused the industry to be established, I say “no.” I recollect that the first speech which I delivered in any Legislature was made upon the Butter Bonus Bill in the South Australian Parliament. I supported that measure upon the ground that it would give a fillip to an industry which had received very little attention, that the effect of offering that industry a little encouragement would be a great increase in the production of butter and the maintenance of steady prices all the year round, which would be a decided benefit to the producers. Certainly the bonus had that effect, though I admit that in South Australia it did not reach the persons whom it was intended to benefit - indeed, it has been alleged that the bonus was actually paid upon cream which was sent from Victoria. But the fact remains that up to the period when the bonus was granted, that State had exported no butter. From that time onward, however, it has exported that commodity, and the industry has become very successful.
– Was the bonus a large one ?
– No. I believe that it amounted to £25,000 annually for three years.
– In this Bill the Government propose to establish the rice-growing industry for an annual expenditure of £1,000.
– When I am discussing the general principle of bonuses I wish that the honorable member would refrain from interjecting. It is very easy for him to overcome the difficulty which he has suggested by voting to increase the amount.
– Will the honorable member agree to confine the schedule to one or two items?
– It has been urged by one honorable member that the Renmark and Mildura settlements afford instances of the successful establishment of industries by means of State aid. Although no bounty was distributed in connexion with the establishment of those settlements, valuable consideration was certainly given to the settlers. In the first instance the land at Renmark, and probably at Mildura, was given to Chaffey Brothers, and subsequently considerable advances on remarkably easy terms were made in respect of the settlements. Although we are told by croakers of the type of the honorable member for Lang, that it is useless to attempt to “bolster” up an industry in this way, the result of the State aid given to both the Renmark and the Mildura settlements has been in the highest degree satisfactory. The objections taken by the honorable member for Lang to the granting of bounties were raised in the States Parliaments with reference to the granting of State aid to the Mildura and Renmark settlements, but fortunately the Government of the day, for the most part, continued to assist the settlers, with the result that we have -there to-day a remarkably successful industry, affording an object-lesson o’f what can be done with land which, without such assistance, would probably remain untouched for many years. Another instance of the satisfactory results attending what the honorable member has described as “ State coddling “ is afforded by the position which the Export Department of South Australia occupies to-day. The work of that Department has been so frequently described .in this House, that it is unnecessary for me to enter into detail. I might explain, however, that its establishment was due to the fact that private enterprise refused to enter the field, which lay open to it. The Government offered to guarantee two loans of £10,000 each-
– Was it not a loan of £20,000?
– The honorable member may have a more accurate recollection of the facts than I possess. I know, however, that the State Government pro- . posed to guarantee two loans to enable private enterprise to establish meat works, one near Mount Gambier, and the other in the Northern Territory. Notwithstanding this offer, however, no one was found prepared to undertake the work. The Government had, therefore, to step in, with the result that we have in South Australia to-day probably the most successful State Export Department in the world. Having embarked upon this undertaking, the Government did not subsequently hand it over to private enterprise; and it has now no competitors in the State. The outcome of the establishment of the Department has been the creation of a number of minor industries, and a satisfactory supervision of our export trade. All this has been the result of that “ State coddling” which the honorable member for Lang so strongly deprecates. It has been suggested, as an alternative proposal to the Bill now under consideration, that it would be much better to establish a Federal Department of. Agriculture. I fail to see how that can be regarded as an alternative scheme.
– It was proposed that the one should precede the other.
– No; that the one should delay, not precede, the other.
– Both statements may be said to be correct. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo, the honorable member for Capricornia, and the honorable member for Lang have all said that it would be better to establish a Federal Department of Agriculture than to agree to the granting of these bounties. Whilst such a Department would serve a useful purpose,, since it would carry out certain work which the States Departments do not undertake, and might also avoid overlapping, it could do nothing for many years hence in the way of establishing any of these industries. In the first place, many years would be occupied in its organization. Reference has been made to the great work accomplished by the Agricultural Bureau of the United States of America. That, however, is the growth of half a century, and we could not hope within a short period to secure anything like the degree of success that has been attained by it. The honorable member for Wimmera said that he was in favour of such a department, but that we should still leave to the States the experimental work and the dissemination of technical knowledge. If we excluded from the scope of a Federal Department of Agriculture the conducting of experiments and the dissemination of information of value to agriculturists, we should leave practically nothing for its attention, but the collection of agricultural statistics.
– Which it could not dis- ribute
– I think the suggestion made by the honorable member for Wimmera was that the statistical information collected by the Federal Department could best be distributed by the States. If that course were adopted, the Federal Department would simply collect statistics nf interest to the pastoral and agricultural community, and hand them over, to the States Departments in order that the information so obtained might be disseminated. But how many new industries would be esstablished in Australia as the result of the collection of information by such a Department ?
– What about a weather bureau ?
– Such a bureau would be very useful, but would it lead to the establishment of new rural industries?
– It would be of assistance.
– Certainly ; but ‘ I object to the_ establishment of a Federal Department of Agriculture being suggested as an alternative to the payment of bounties for the fostering of new industries.
– Could not a Federal Agricultural Department regulate the export trade ?
– That would be a> very difficult work to undertake. If I were a Federal officer, I should not care to interfere, except in a very tentative way, withthe export trade of the States. We could: regulate the trade successfully only by acting in conjunction with the States. If the honorable member, as the agricultural expert of the Commonwealth, were to attempt to interfere with the export trade of South Australia, which is controlled by the Government, we should have the State in arms.
– Could not the Federal Department grade and classify our exports ?
– The South Australian Agricultural Department is now attending to that work without any assistance from the Federal Government, and the desire of the people there is that the other States Governments shall take similar action. The cry that it is necessary to secure uniformity in connexion with our export trade - that a uniform system should be adopted by all the States - is somewhat overdone.
– The honorable member should join the Opposition. He is not a Socialist.
– I have never pretended to be one.
– I am afraid that if the honorable member crossed over to this side of the House he would find himself among some Socialists.
– That is a possibility of which I had not thought, and the honorable member’s interjection reminds me that hidden dangers constantly beset us. It is to be regretted that honorable members should advocate the establishment of a Federal Bureau of Agriculture as an alternative to the passing of this Bill. The principle of the Bill may be wrong, but the mere fact that a Federal Department of Agriculture might be of some service does not make it so. A very excellent report from the Queensland Department of Agriculture appears as an addendum to the report of the Conference, and forms most interesting reading. The gentlemen who attended the Conference summarize in their report the information at their dis* posal, but do not give us any details. The Queensland report, on the other hand, supplies much useful information, and I should be glad if we had similar data from the other ‘States. On turning to the schedule, one is surprised to find that not only in Queensland, but in South Australia, a great many attempts have been made to conduct on a commercial scale some of the industries covered by this Bill. We find, for instance, that flax was successfully grown many years ago in the neighbourhood of Mount Gambier, and that its production was dropped only because of the difficulties associated with the retting. The unpleasant odour caused by the process spoilt the whole business, but now that chemicals are employed I should say there is no reason why flax should not be successfully grown, at any rate, in the districts where the industry was profitably carried on previously, and where, with improved conditions and appliances, it might expand greatly. The bounty proposed is only some £40,000 in the aggregate, and that would not prove any great burden on the people of the Commonwealth, while the effect might be to encourage a large number to add another to the industries of Australia. When the butter bonus was withdrawn in Victoria there was no stoppage of the industry.
– The butter industry was developed in New South Wales without a bonus.
– That was years after the industry had been established in Victoria and South Australia.
– The New South Wales producers came to Victoria for their machinery as the result of the bonus.
– Probably the establishment of the industry by means of a bonus in Victoria led to- its establishment without a bonus in New South Wales. Had any one State in Australia established the industry successfully before South Australia or Victoria did, I do not think that there would have been any suggestion of a bonus, because the market would have been exploited, and the organization of the trade perfected. It is easy to follow where others have trodden ; the difficulty is to strike out a new track. There was a more or less paying mohair industry in South Australia a great many 3’ears ago. One of the first flocks of Angora goats was brought to Australia by Mr. Price Maurice, a pastoralist, and placed on the Mount Lofty hills. From that station, a large number of goats were distributed, and some of them were sent by Mr. Kempe to his Peake Station, not very far from Oodnadatta. Owing to the death of one of his partners, who took a great interest in the industry, that magnificent flock was dispersed, some of the goats being sent to South Africa and some to New South Wales. It is possibly worth while to try the effect of a small bonus in order to induce pastoralists to once more take up this industry. A very large portion of the arid districts of Australia are better suited for the production of mohair than any other commodity - better suited for goats than any other stock. The advantage to Australia of settling our unoccupied country is so patent that, if the expenditure of £3,000 in the form of a bonus would have any such effect as I have indicated, it would be worth while providing the money many times over; and I think we should all be pleased to take part in the establishment of such an industry. As to olives, everybody knows that the olive oil industry is an Australian industry.
– South Australia produces the best olive oil in the world, and without a bonus.
– The difficulty of those engaged in this industry is that they have to compete against adulterated oils, and oils produced much more cheaply. Pure olive oil is said to be difficult to obtain in the old country ; and the Export Department of South Australia had constant reports from Europe to the effect that the people there preferred, from long use, the adulterated article- that the pure olive oil from South Australia had not so good a market as adulterated oil, owing to the capricious taste of the people. It is true that this industry has been established in South Australia without a bounty, and I hope it will continue to expand whether a bounty be granted or not. But it is an industry that is specially suited to a great part of the Commonwealth ; and if the effect of the very small bounty proposed were to encourage a great deal more planting, production would expand, and the wealth and the prosperity of the people would be increased. Quite lately, the Adelaide Advertiser made a proposal to Messrs. Cleland and Company, who manufacture for Sir Samuel Davenport, and are the principal manufacturers of olive oil in South Australia, that they should distribute truncheons, from which the olive plant is (propagated, free. That has been done; and I saw. only last week that when the new trees are in full bearing, the present production in South Australia will be almost doubled. It will be seen, therefore, that something is being done without a bounty in that State. Then I think something should be done to make an attempt to encourage the production of rice. In the Northern Territory there is an immense area of valuable river flats, which seems to be specially designed for growing this commodity. There are no lands in the Commonwealth which could be more cheaply irrigated than the flats along the Adelaide River, which is one of the finest streams of the Commonwealth ; and a bounty would be the means of proving whether or not those lands could be utilized for the production of rice. The next item I desire to refer to is dates, which I mention because this fruit is referred to in the report as being produced in Queensland. I have’ spoken to one or two honorable members, who inform me that they had no notion that dates were produced anywhere else but in the northern State. As a matter of fact, the first date plantation in Australia was started by the South Australian Government at Hergott; and only a few weeks ago I had some very good fruit from there. Dates are also most successfully grown by the South Australian Government at Lake Harry, and there are several other plantations in that State. This shows that there are industries whereby great wealth may be won from the arid northern districts. At the present time most of the dates consumed in the Commonwealth are imported, but if we could meet our own demands, we should be so much the better off, and the probability is that a bounty such as that proposed will induce private individuals to commence growing dates for the market. So far they have been profitably grown under Government control. A date crop increases as the palm .gets on in years, and the palms are very long lived.
– How long is it before they bear?
– Within five years, if grown from suckers, and within ten years if grown from seed. ‘
– With regard to the proposed bounty for the encouragement of the drying and canning of fruit, I would point out that currants and raisins have already been produced successfully at Renmark, Mildura, and elsewhere. At Renmark there is a co-operative canning and drying establishment.
– Does not South Australia do a large export trade with the East in dried and canned fruits?
– In canned fruits, but I think not in dried fruits. We are all anxious, no matter where we sit, to establish new industries, and thus increase our population, particularly in our northern districts. Most of the bounties are for the encouragement of tropical industries, and our tropical districts are the most difficult to develop, chiefly for climatic reasons. But if by the giving of bounties we can increase settlement there, even to a small extent, it will be worth, doing. I hope, therefore, that honorable members will not throw the Bill aside if they see any possibility of encouraging settlement by its means. The development of our tropical areas is essential to our future well-being, and I am prepared to go a great way to endeavour to induce settlement there. It is mainly with that object in view that I shall vote for the second reading, though I do not pledge myself to support the measure in all its details. ‘
.- The honorable member for Boothby, speaking in his usual temperate manner, made the assertion that members in all parts of the Chamber are anxious to establish industries. While I am anxious to see industries established, I am not anxious to establish them’ at the public expense. The honorable member dealt with the items in the schedule one by one ; but in every case in which he emphasized the need for a bounty it was with regard to an industry which he said has already been successfully established. Thus he approved the giving of bounties for the production of olives, dates, and dried fruits.
– He emphasized the need for bounties for the encouragement of industries which are already established in South Australia.
– He also dwelt on the need for doing all that we can to induce settlement in the northern parts of Australia. I do not see any necessity for paying bounties for the encouragement of already established industries. This is the third Bounty Bill that has been before the Commonwealth Parliament. The original proposal was to give a bounty for the encouragement of the iron industry, but last Parliament a Bill similar to this was introduced. The Government propose that £530,000 shall be expended in trying to establish certain exotic industries, and in this connexion I have a very pertinent question to put to the Attorney-General. Would he, as a capitalist, invest money in the rice industry, which is one of those which the Government propose to encourage? The conclusion I draw from his silence is that he would not. The honorable member for_ Laanecoorie has told the House that those who are opposed to the granting of bounties must be rank Conservatives. If carefulness of the public funds is to be the mark of a Conservative, I hope that I shall always be one, whereas, if the squandering of revenue is to be the mark of the Radical, I hope that I shall never be a Radical. Some honorable members have objected to the Bill on the ground that its proposals should be linked with proposals for Tariff reform, and others on the ground that its introduction should have been preceded by a statement of the financial position. Neither ground of objection has much weight with me, because I think that it is entirely a matter for the Government to say whether they will or will not link their bounty proposals with their Tariff proposals, while the fact that the Treasurer had an overflowing Treasury would be no good reason for the payment of bounties. Moreover, Ministers cannot hope to remain in office during the fifteen years for which the proposed bounties are to continue, and, therefore, I have no real interest in the financial aspect of the matter. No one can dream that they will be in power fifteen years hence, that, to use the language of the Attorney-General, their two years’ occu pancy of office is the little rivulet which will swell to the mighty stream of a fifteen years’ tenure. Election reminiscences are seldom palatable, but it is occasionally well to listen to the election echoes.
– They are not palatable to anti-Socialists.
– At the last elections the Opposition candidates made a good deal of noise about anti-Socialism, but the Labour candidates made more noise about Socialism. In my opinion, protection and the bounty system are twin sisters, and I cannot understand the action of free-traders in supporting the granting of bounties by expressing socialistic views. To-night a member of the Opposition quoted what he called a socialistic work to prove that the bounty system is not socialistic. The writer of the work, however, was a Fabian Socialist, and it is well known that to-day the real Socialists do not recognise a Fabian.
– The honorable member for South Sydney has declared himself to be a Fabian.
– Then he is not a real Socialist. The social democrats of Great Britain look askance at a Fabian, much as a protectionist looks at a freetrader. The honorable member for Lang says that the granting of bounties is not a socialistic step, but, in my opinion, it is. If bounties are to be given for the encouragement of fifteen or sixteen industries, why should they not be given for the encouragement of forty, or of an indefinite number? Moreover, if the State is to encourage industries by a grant of £530,000, will it not be justified in controlling the expenditure of its money? If the State tries to build up an industry by the expenditure of money, why should it not take full control of that industry? Yet certain honorable members who are declared anti-Socialists say that they are prepared to vote for State aid to industries - though I may have a wrong idea as to what constitutes an anti-Socialist. I consider that protection is the twin sister of Socialism, and that this bounty system is its handmaiden. It is proposed that these bounties shall be granted for various periods covering from five to fifteen years. In the first few years an expenditure of £75,000 annually is contemplated. It will be recollected that for two years in this House, with the assistance of the Labour Party, I fought strenuously against the proposal of a Government to grant a substantial bonus to the iron industry. That proposal was defeated, notwithstanding that if any justification exists for the payment of a bonus it is unquestionably in connexion with the iron and ship-building industries.
– Hear, hear.
– I may inform the honorable member who interjects that 1 am not advocating the claims of the iron industry from any parochial motive. At the last election the employe’s in that industry allied themselves with the Labour Party, and endeavoured to secure my defeat. But 1 fought them, and triumphed. I ask the members of that party whether they are prepared to vote against the second reading of this Bill, and to request the Government to bring forward a fresh’ measure embodving a proposal for the payment of a bonus to the iron industry. Not a single industry connected with the production of the articles enumerated in the schedule to this Bill can be successfully established without the employment of black labour. Take the cultivation of rice as an example. In Victoria the ^product from rice is starch. Only recently the fact was disclosed that those employed in the starch industry in Victoria were working for starvation wages.
– That statement is contradicted in the Argus of to-day.
– I have not read the contradiction, but I know the’ nature of the evidence which was given before the Judge who acted as arbitrator in the recent dispute - evidence the truth of which the employers did not deny. Under this Bill the Government propose to offer a bounty °f £*>°°° per annum to encourage the cultivation of rice. Am I to understand that a flourishing industry can be reared upon such slender encouragement ? Then I ask : “What guarantee have we that, at the expiration of fifteen years the bounty system will cease ?” I venture to say that at the end of that period these hot-house plants will require further fuel from the Commonwealth Treasury. Are we to commit ourselves to the policy of granting bounties for an indefinite period, or are we merely to waste £530,000 during fifteen years, and then allow these industries to perish?
– Why bother about the fifteen years’ period?
– Because experience teaches us that if once industries are started under the bounty system we shall have to continue them.
– The butter bonus has not been continued in Victoria.
– It has been conclusively proved that the only person in Victoria who got any credit from the bank as the result of the operation of the butter bonus was a party by the name of Croker.
– Is the honorable member referring to the Australian agent of the contractors for the European mail contract which was recently cancelled?
– I am. Some honorable members have urged that in the tenders for the new mail contract provision should be made for cold storage accommodation. Others are prepared to foster the producing interests by means of the payment of a bounty upon agricultural productions. Why, then, should I not stand up for the artisans in my own electorate? The honorable member for Boothby has admitted that the middleman derived the chief benefit from the operation of the bounty system. The only thing which he could say in support of it was that in South Australia an industry remained. This is a case of oiling the olive - an industry in which large fortunes have been made. Having opposed the application of the bounty system to a substantial industry like that of iron, I do not feel disposed to support this Bill. If bounties are a good thing, why not extend them to the iron and ship-building industries? The ship-building trade, by reason of our protective Tariff, is to-day suffering more than is any other branch of industry. In Committee, I shall move that the more substantial sums specified in this Bill shall be appropriated for these particular industries. The echoes of the last election have not yet died away, and I am decidedly of opinion that the bounty system constitutes one step in the direction of Socialism. If we are to introduce that system, why not go a step further and establish State control of industries ? To my mind, there is only a difference of complexion between certain honorable members in this House. Some have been a little longer in the sun, and these call themselves Socialists, whilst others who have been sitting under the olive trees, and who are not quite so brown, call themselves anti-Socialists. I think that the public have a right to be considered in this matter. There are one or two industries in Australia, such as the fisheries industry, the establishment of which those who believe in the bounty system might advocate with some degree of reason. The big capitalists of the world are very keen in discovering good investments, and if any of the enterprises which the Government propose to encourage by this Bill were likely: to prove remunerative, they would have invested in them long ago.
– They are afraid of Socialism.
– It has been said that the honorable member is a Socialist, but I do not think that he is a great sinner in that respect. The only difference between him and some other honorable members is that they wear differently cut coats and different classes of boots. One may wear boots made of patent leather, and another boots which are made of a different material. But, to my mind, many honorable members who are not suspected of such a tendency are all treading the socialistic path. I maintain that there is nobody in Australia who is dying to become a rice-planter. There is not a member of the Labour Party who would “ burst his boiler “ to become even a cotton-grower. Nor is anybody consumed with a desire co deal with flax or fibres. Yet we are told that these industries must be established. The honorable member for Echuca, who is’ a new member of this House, boldly criticised many of the proposals in this Bill, and dealt with the history of the application of the bonus system to Victorian industries. During the Gillies boom a sum of £230,000 was paid by way of bonuses to establish’ various industries in Victoria, and to-day there is nothing to show for that expenditure. The honorable member for Indi pointed out that a large sum was expended bv the Victorian Government in an effort to promote vine culture, but that to-day the industry was practically at a stand-still. The Gillies boom was a silly boom, and if this Bill be carried, we shall probably have the same tale to tell when we have completed the expenditure of the £500,000 proposed to be distributed under it. I find myself in a somewhat awkward position. Some of the members of the Opposition are opposed to the whole principle of the Bill, while others - for the most part representatives of Victoria - declare that no objection would be taken if the Tariff resolutions1 were first submitted. How can one who has always opposed the bounty system: - who. has fought against its application to the iron industry, the ship-building trade, and deep sea fisheries, in connexion with, which it might meet with some success - vote for a Bill such as this ? I do not know whether some honorable members on this side of the House have suddenly become protectionists. At the last election, I and other members of my party played on “ Reed “’ instruments. In the musical world it iswell known that such instruments produce the most pleasing sounds. That on which I played was not the big clarionet of the prominent politician, but the smaller instrument of a more humble member of the band. I have not forgotten the tune which I played; I am repeating it to-night. The only ground on which I fought the Labour Party was its advocacy of Socialism. So far as other political questions were concerned, I found’ myself very much iti sympathy with them; but I was opposed to them on the ground*, that they were seeking to nationalize certain industries. To-day, however, I finethat some of those who played with me in the “ Reed “ band are going to take the very step against which they protested sostrongly at the last general election. Some of the Victorian members of the party are among this number.
– It is a case of “ ‘E dunno where ‘e are.”
– I certainly do know where I am, and am frank enough to explain my position. Whilst I remain 3 member of .the Opposition party I enjoy a. freedom which honorable members of the Labour Party do not possess.
– The freedom to commit political suicide.
– The honorable member is so well satisfied with himself that one could never expect him to commit political suicide, or do anything that was worth remembering. I do not wish, however, to be too severe on him, because we have a good deal in common, and there is no more popular man in the House this week than is the honorable member. When an- honorable member remembers his pledges to his constituents he has nothing to fear. I cannot see my way clear to vote for the granting of bounties in respect of industries, some of which, as the honorable member for Boothby has pointed out, are already successfully established. Otherindustries covered by this Bill are such that white labour could not profitably be employed in them. Why should I vote for. the building up of an industry in which alien labour must be employed, while there are more substantial industriesto which the system might be more satisfactorily applied? Australia to-day is enjoying a season of prosperity. The revenue of the Commonwealth is buoyant ; but a prudent politician will always have regard to the possibility of lean as well as fat years. We do not know what may happen in the course of the next few years. There are other measures to be dealt with which will involve very considerable expenditure, and in connexion with which the sum of £500,000, proposed to be expended under this Bill might be more profitably employed. I believe in a Federal system of old-ase pensions, and have a right to ask myself in considering these proposals whether the Government or its successors will have the funds necessary to carry out that system. Politicians and others who took part in the Federal Convention declare that the great rock which the ship of Federation has to fear is the rock of finance, and I cannot understand why the Government should propose, in this unnecessary way, to plunge into an expenditure of £500,000. The Minister of Trade and Customs and the Postmaster-General had something sub.stantial to fight for when they invited the House to agree to the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, which provided for the payment of bounties for the establishment of the iron industry. I and my leader, however, bitterly opposed that measure. But for the action of the Opposition those honorable gentlemen would have had the honour - and I dare say that they would have regarded it as an honour - of placing on the statute-book of the Commonwealth a Bill providing for the payment of bounties to establish an industry which, according to the statements they placed before us, would give employment to thousands.
– The establishment of that industry would be one of the -finest things that could happen to this country.
– According to the honorable gentleman’s statements it would. Since I thought it necessary to vote against that measure, why should I vote for that now under consideration? If it were a question of bounty or no bounty I should cry “ both hands up for the iron industry, and that of shipbuilding, which is so nearly associated with it.” The honorable member for Lang quoted the views of a Fabian Socialist in support of the argument that this is not a socialistic proposal. My slight reading has taught me, however, that a Fabian Socialist is hardly a Socialist in the true sense of the word. I certainly think that protection is half way on the road to Socialism. I can understand a protectionist, who has declared from time to time that he is in favour of more and more protection, being regarded as a Socialist, but I cannot understand a freetrader favouring the bounty system, which is merely an attempt to bring in Socialism by a side wind.
– I do not think that the honorable member for Lang said that he was in favour of this Bill.
– I accept the honorable member’s correction. Those who support this measure are perilously near the door of Socialism. If one honorable member is prepared to favour a Bounties Bill because of its application to industries in his electorate, why should I not vote for a bounty that would affect industries in my constituency? The honorable member for Boothby said that a Federal Bureau of Agriculture would be useless.
– No; I said that it was not an alternative to the scheme now before us.
– I should support the creation of a Federal Department of Agriculture as being calculated to disseminate much valuable information ; but I am stoutly opposed to the bounty system, and particularly to its application to such industries as are named in the Bill. There is no possibility of their being successfully established here. If they could be, would not the far North have been invaded long ago by capitalists? We have had before us a report showing that enormous profits can be secured from the production of rubber.
– A profit of 250 per cent, we are told.
– Quite so. Notwithstanding this the Government have the splendid audacity to propose to give a bounty to assist the establishment of the rubber industry.
– Although the profit would be so large, the honorable member for Kooyong is not prepared to take up the industry.
– The prospective profits are almost sufficient to induce bloated capitalists like the honorable member for Barrier and myself to embark on the enterprise. If the industry were established, however, the public would receive no part of the profits derived from it. I do not think any further facts or arguments will alter the views of honorable members. A political Ishmaelite is one who fights for his own hand, and if I find honorable members advocating the claims of producers in their electorates, it may he taken for granted that the member for Dalley, who does not, as the members of the Labour Party insinuated, fight in his own personal interests, will, on every occasion, see that the industries in which his constituents are engaged are not neglected. That, of course, is a most miserable position to have to take up, but I find honorable member after honorable member on both sides of the House showing, by their speeches that, when any proposed legislation suits their own constituents, they say good-bye to principles, and I should be a traitor to my trust if I did not look after the interests of those who sent me here. If this Bill be passed there will not be a stronger advocate for a bonus on the production of iron than the member who is now addressing the House.
– It is time the electors had a new House if the honorable member’s interpretation is correct.
– The honorable member seems awfully anxious to go to the country. I do not think I am very “ wide of the mark” in what I say, and my statements require no interpretation, in view of remarks from other honorable members. I am bitterly opposed to bounties, because I see no reason why special industries should be assisted at the expense of the Government.
Debate (on motion by Mr. J. H. Catts) adjourned.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
For farm hands and domestic servants to Queensland.
Assisted passages, very low rates, to Western Australia, the land of sunshine. 2,000 miners and general labourers wanted for New South Wales, for which a limited number of assisted passages is now available.
Write or call for full information to John Craigs, authorized emigration agent for all the lines, 13 Station-road, Ashington.
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Acting Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
In view of the shipping information being posted up on boards in the Central Telegraph Department, Melbourne, will he instruct such Department to inform members of the public, who ask by telephone, as to the position of coastal steamers as shown on such boards?
– The matter has been provided for by a regulation which reads as follows : -
Telephone subscribers may be supplied from the Telegraph Office through the Telephone Exchange, with shipping intelligence on payment of a fee of 6d. for every three minutes or portion of three minutes for which the services of the officer concerned are occupied in giving the information.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I desire to make a statement in reference to an advertisement which appeared in both this morning’s Melbourne newspapers, containing statements which are declared by the advertiser to be indisputable facts. The advertisement is inserted by Messrs.
Robert Harper and Co., and the statement to which I refer is as follows : -
The opportunity - to attack the honorable member for Mernda is being taken advantage’ of by free-trade members of Parliament, some of whom, we are informed, have gone so far as to visit our factory during the luncheon hour with a view to extracting from our men material for an attack upon Mr. Harper and upon us as a firm. We think that this method of obtaining information will hardly commend itself to fair-minded men and women.
I desire to say that, so far as the freetrade members of the direct Opposition are concerned, there is not the slightest shadow of truth in that statement.
– Who are the direct Opposition ?
– I am speaking for the free-traders of the Opposition. I cannot speak for the free-traders of the Labour Party, but I am sure they too, will be able to refute the slander.
.- On behalf of the free-traders of the Labour Party I give the statement just read by the honorable member for Wentworth a direct denial.’ If we desire any information we have only to go to the Court records in order to get enough to convict and condemn forty Robert Harpers. Only a few days ago a circular of great length was presented to the employes of the firm in question, and they were requested to say that the statements in a monthly magazine, and in the Melbourne Age and Melbourne Argus, we’re absolutely untrue; but nobody would sign that circular, with the exception of three or four of the foremen. If that is the information which it is said Members of Parliament were after, I do not know but that the information is about correct.
.- Earlier in the day I asked the Acting Prime Minister whether his attention had been called to a letter written by the president of the Immigration League of New South Wales to the secretary of a similar association in Victoria, in which the former advised the latter to misrepresent . the position in Australia in reference to land settlement. I desire to know whether inquiries will be made, and if it be true that such a letter was sent, whether the Government will stop the subsidy of ,£150 which is paid to those associations ?
– The associations have had the subsidy.
– Then no further sum ought to be paid to them. If money is given by the Commonwealth Government for the purpose of advertising Australia in the old country, and that money is spent by the Immigration League, which misrepresents the position and brings immigrants out under a misapprehension of the conditions which prevail here, the Government are partially responsible for that misrepresentation. Under the circumstances the Government ought to investigate the matter, and if what I have said proves to be correct, any further subsidy ought to be withheld, if the subsidy already paid cannot be recalled. If we are going to pay money for the advertising of Australia to societies like these Immigration Leagues the Government must take the responsibility for what is published by them. It must be responsible for allowing public funds to go into the hands of men who are not careful about their statements, and who, for the sake of gaining notoriety and promoting personal ambitions, are prepared to adopt unscrupulous methods. I trust the Acting Prime Minister will invite the Cabinet to consider the advisableness of repudiating the statements which have been quoted.
– I have no recollection of authority being given by this House for the expenditure of ^150 for the purposes of the Immigration League to which reference has been made. The House has a right to know under what authority the money was. spent.
– Could not the Treasurer grant a small sum like that out of his advance without the authority of Parliament ?
– I should say that when money is to be applied for such a purpose Parliament should be informed. We want fro see immigration to this country so long as the immigrants can be absorbed. I believe we can absorb many at the present time, at any rate in South Australia. But before they come out I want them to be informed about the conditions prevailing in this country, and shall strongly object to money being spent on immigrants who are brought out under false pretences. That has been done in the past. I know of numbers of families in South Australia who suffered severely through being brought out under misrepresentations, and who, when an appeal was made to the Court, were informed that there was nothing for them to do but to stand by the agreements made. It appears to me that the Immigration League, to which reference has been made, is doing anything but the satisfactory work that is desired.
.- I asked my question with regard to this matter in consequence of advertisements which have been circulated in the United Kingdom with reference to immigration to Australia. I contend that inasmuch as the Government has subsidized the league, it is responsible for these advertisements. When Parliament voted money for immigration purposes it had no idea that anything of that kind would be done. When money is voted by Parliament for such a purpose it ought not to be handed over to irresponsible people to be spent, but the expenditure should be under the control of the Commonwealth Government. Whether it is a wise thing to spend money in bringing out immigrants is a matter for the Parliament to decide, but I strongly object to the way in which this money has been applied.
. -In reply to the question of the honorable member for Cook, I desire to say that, as far as I am concerned, I knew nothing at all about the methods adopted by the Immigration League, and no one was more surprised than I was, or than my colleagues in the Government were, when we saw the letter that has been the subject of dispute. That letter was written by Dr. Arthur, of Sydney. I know him very well, and am still more surprised to find that such a letter was written by him. All this has happened since the money was granted by the Government to the league.
– Why did the Government grant money to the league?
– If there is a means of advertising Australia through the instrumentality of any respectable section of the community, such as the Immigration League would seem to be, the Government is justified in making use of if. It was never anticipated that any bad use would be made of the money.
– But the Government had no control over the league.
– Why does not the Government do its own advertising?
– The Government never anticipated that such advertisements as have been mentioned would have been circulated.
– There is no evidence that theywere circulated at the instance of Dr. Arthur.
– They appear to have been circulated through the Agents-General of some of the States.
– If that be so, they were circulated through a responsible person.
– We hope it will not occur again.
– I do not know that. The Government in granting the money to the League acted bona fide.
– But they had no stipulation as to how the money would be spent.
– I think there was a stipulation. It is not a wise thing to hand over public money to such societies to do as they like with. But, of course, it was never anticipated that anything like what has been complained about would be done. No one advocates the advertising of Australia more strongly than I do. but I think it ought to be done by the Commonwealth Government.
– We do not want to be advertised by misrepresentations such as these.
– The letter which has been quoted is unaccountable. I cannot understand how Dr. Arthur wrote such a thing. He has acknowledged it, because I saw a report in one of the Sydney newspapers in which he stated that a private letter had been used. The money was granted by the Government bona fide.
– Out of what fund?
– Out of a fund of£5,000 that was placed on last year’s Estimates for the purpose of advertising Australia. However, as such disclosures have taken place in regard to the matter, I do not think that the Government are likely to give any more money to a body that would use it in such a way.
– What is the business to be to-morrow?
– We shall first deal with the Bounties Bill, and if there is time after disposing of it we shall proceed with a small Bill relating to Papua. If there is any time to spare after that we shall probably go on with the Quarantine Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 July 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19070724_reps_3_36/>.