3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m and readprayers.
Report (No. 3) presented by Sir John Quick, and read by the Clerk, as follows: -
The Printing Committee have the honour to report that they have met in conference with ‘the Printing Committee of the Senate. The Joint Committee recommend that the following be printed : -
Petition from the President of theSoftgoods Warehousemen’s Association of Queensland, in reference to the proposed conditions of tender for mail service.
Public Service Act - Return showing number of persons in the Service exempt from provisions of Act. (Presentedto Senate.)
Proposed railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta. Information as to character of the adjacent country.
John Quick, Chairman.
Committee-room;25th July, 1907.
– I wish to know from the
Minister of Defence if his attention has been drawn to the following paragraph which appears in this morning’s Age -
Though finality has not yet been reached in connexion with the selection of an officer to fill the vacant post of Military Commandant of Victoria, everything still points to the post being offered to Colonel Stanley, at present Chief of Ordnance on the Military Board. Were the Government to increase the salaries of the members of the Military Board so as to place them financially in a better position than the District Commandants, Colonel Stanley would probably not accept the offer; but as matters stand it is likely that he will do so. A decision cannot be delayed more than a few days longer.
In the event of this change taking place, other changes must follow. Among the probabilities are the following : -
Colonel Wallace, now of New South Wales, to take Colonel Stanley’s place on the Military Board.
Major Clarke, now officer commanding R.A.A., Victoria, to be O.C.R.A.A., New South Wales.
Major Morris, now of Queensland, to be officer commanding R.A.A., Victoria.
Major Kyngdon to be officer commanding R.A.A., Queensland.
Major Hawker, now in New South Wales, to be officer commanding at Thursday Island.
God help the men at Thursday Island if Major Hawker is sent there. I ask the Minister if the statement which I have read is correct? As the Government has declared itself to be in favour of defending the country by means of citizen soldiery, is it not intended to give our militia officers an opportunity to show what they can do in some of these positions? At least one of them must be fit for promotion of this kind, as he is now acting in a very important position. Will the Minister give the militia officers a chance to secure promotion to these posts, in order to prove to the people of the Commonwealth that we desire to encourage service in the militia? Apparently the expert officers belonging to the Military Board do not wish to leave their present positions, so that they would not be injured by the promotion of a militia officer.
– The paragraph conveys a considerable amount of information to me. No such programme has yet been decided on by the Military Board or myself.
– Then it is another fabrication of the daily Ananias.
– I do not say that; but I was not previously informed of the facts here stated.
– Why not give our citizen soldiers a chance?
– Before passing over the permanent military officers, the Military Board, the Inspector-General, and the Minister would have to be satisfied that not one of them could properly perform the duties attaching to the Victorian Commandantship.
– Then alter the Act.
– No doubt our military officers, . like ourselves, resemble the curate’s egg, in that they are “ good inparts.” We should, of course, appoint to vacant positions the best men obtainable for the service of the country, wherever we may find them.
– The Minister must not discuss the subject.
– I wish to avoid doing so.. In our Defence Force there is a large number of able, industrious and competent professional soldiers who cannot be passed over when opportunities for promotion occur. As to the encouragement of the militia, if Parliament in its wisdom keeps me in office for a few months longer, I hope that not only will it be for the good of the country, but also that our civilian forces will be placed in a position satisfactory to every one.
-I wish to know from the Acting Prime Minister if sufficient progress has been made with the consideration of the Tariff to enable him to inform the House approximately when we shall be called upon to discuss it.
– I cannot fix the date when the Tariff will be introduced, and, if I could do so, I would not, because such a statement would place the Government in a very difficult position.
– Will it be introduced this session?
– I hope so. It will be introduced as soon as possible, but it would be imprudent for me to say when it is likely to be introduced, because an improper advantage might be taken of the information.
– Has the Postmaster–
General yet obtained the information for which I asked some days ago as to the rates charged by private companies for long-distance telephoning, and the wages paid bv such companies ?
– Yes. I have been furnished with the following information : -
The only countries in which the telephone trunk lines (long distance lines) are controlled by companies, the charges for the use of which are known to this Department, are America and Canada, where the charge for the use of long distance lines is, generally speaking, 0.6 cent per mile for each conversation of three minutes. Thus the charge for the use of a trunk line 600 miles in length would be 3.60 dol., equal to, say, 15s.
So far as is known by the Department, the various companies operating throughout America and Canada do not allow differential rates in favour of newspaper messages, but the charges are reduced for conversations during the night, the charge from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. being, as a rule, 50 per cent, of the day charge.
The rates of wages paid by such companies to their servants are approximately as follows -
Telephone attendants, from £36 to , £108 per annum.
Monitors and service managers, from £100 to £168 per annum.
Linemen, from 8s. 4d. to 12s. , 6d. per day of eight hours.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and Customs authorized any newspaper to publish the statement that the Government intend to propose the imposition of duties upon articles not reported upon by the Tariff Commission? If so, does not the honorable gentleman consider that the publication of such information is likely to prejudice the public interests by affecting the revenue?
– I do not think that I have given any information on the subject to the press, though I have stated in this Chamber that the Government is not bound to adhere to the recommendations of the Tariff Commission.
– Is it right to give information to the press in regard to specific items?
– I have not done so.
– The statement that the honorable gentleman has done so appeared in yesterday’s newspapers.
– I am not responsible for everything that appears in the press. Many statements which are not true are published by the newspapers.
– In the Watchman of Thursday, 18th July in a report of a great demonstration in Melbourne in celebration of the 217th anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne, it is stated that the Government Whip and the honorable members for Laanecoorie and Batman, both Ministerial supporters, accepted the invitation to attend. The honorable member for Kooyong was also present, and after acknowledging the honour of being allowed to address the meeting, said that -
I have now the privilege of giving you the final results of the Echuca election. (Applause.) The Protestant Electors Committee was there. (Applause.) Palmer, 11,618; Kennedy, 10,420. (Loud applause.)
How can the Prime Minister expect to receive support from another party in the House when the members of his own party are so disloyal that they applaud the defeat of a Government candidate?
– The matter has not been brought under my notice before, but I am assured by the Government Whip that he was not present at the meeting.
– I had an invitation, but did not attend.
– I feel sure that Government supporters would not cheer the announcement of the defeat of a Government candidate.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs cause to be laid on the table of the House the papers connected with the establishment in Melbourne of the Commonwealth Meteorological Department ?
– I will make inquiries. At present I see no objection to the papers being laid upon the table.
– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether it is the intention of the Government that the House shall sit to-morrow, and whether, when an arrangement is made between the leaders of the various parties that an adjournment shall take place over Friday, he will in future make an announcement to that effect as early as possible, so that honorable members may understand the exact position ?
– The Government have no desire to adjourn over tomorrow. No honorable member has approached me with a request for an adjournment, and I certainly do not intend to propose one myself.
– Is the Acting Prime Minister willing to agree to a proposal to adjourn over to-morrow ?
– That depends upon whether the proposal is made under conditions that I can accept. The Government will not move that the House adjourn over to-morrow unless certain conditions are complied with. I quite agree with the honorable member for Riverina that when an understanding is arrived at between the leaders of parties, that the House shall not sit on Friday, the earliest possible intimation of the fact should be made to honorable members. As far as I am concerned, that intimation will be given.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer whether he can give the House the date upon which we may expect him to deliver his Budget speech?
– I regret to say that I cannot yet fix the exact day, but I will do so as soon as possible. I think it will be about the middle of next month.
– I should like to ask whether the Treasurer is aware that some of the States Treasurers are unable to make their financial arrangements pending the delivery of his Budget statement, and also whether he can inform the House why his Budget is to be delayed this year? According to his present forecast, it will be made more than a fortnight later than it was made last year.
– I can’ assure the honorable member that it would be very gratifying to me if I could lay the Budget papers and the Estimates upon the table of . the House at an earlier period than I have indicated. But a variety of circumstances will (prevent my doing so. The illness of the Prime Minister is amongst them. Many matters of policy have to be dealt with, and his unfortunate illness is responsible for some delay.
– Cannot the Acting Prime Minister settle those matters?
– They are too important to be dealt with, save by the head of the Government. I can’ assure the honorable member for Paramatta that I will do my best to assist the States Treasurers in any way that I can. Indeed, I have promised to do that already.
– Then the delay is not owing to the Tariff proposals?
– There has been no delay, save that which has been occasioned in the manner I have indicated.
– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether the Government intend to pay the expenses of candidates at recent elections which have been declared void by the Court of Disputed Returns, and if so, why? I know that there is a precedent for such action, but in my judgment the cases are not upon all fours. I do not think that the Commonwealth should be called upon to pay the expenses incurred by these candidates.
– I must ask the honorable member not to discuss the question.
– To what expenses does the honorable member refer?
– I am aware that the Government will have to pay the ordinary expenses incurred by the Electoral Department, but I understand from a newspaper paragraph that they -also intend to defray the expenses of the candidates.
– So they ought.
– I think that they ought not.
– I am very glad that the honorable member has attempted to answer his own question, because up to the present moment no decision in the matter to which he refers has-been arrived at. My experience is that it entirely depends upon the circumstances attending the voiding of an election as to whether or not the Government interfere. I know that that was the course adopted upon several occasions in New South Wales, and I take it that when the Prime Minister considers this matter he will probably act in the same way. Of course, there may be circumstances under which the Government may be called upon to defray the expenses of the candidates.
– I shall take an opportunity of discussing the question upon a future occasion.
– I wish to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether, when deciding the question to which the honorable member for Indi has directed attention, he will take into consideration the claim of the widow of the late Mr. Crosby, with a view to seeing that she is at least paid the allowance to which her late husband would have been entitled, had it not been for the bungling of our electoral officers?
– I do not know whether any legal claim exists in thac particular case. If there be no such claim, the matter will have to be decided by the Cabinet. Consequently I am unable to give the honorable member an answer to his question immediately.
– I am merely asking that the case may be considered when the other cases are under review.
– It will be considered by the Cabinet, though it is not exactly in the same category as the other cases to which reference has been made.
– I am afraid that the Acting Prime Minister has not understood the full import of my question. I wish, briefly, to put the actual position before him, and to conclude by asking a question. It is a well-known’ fact that had it not been for the mistakes committed by electoral officers in South Australia, the late Mr. Crosby would have been declared elected as a senator. Had that declaration been made, he would have been entitled to a certain parliamentary allowance up to the time of his death. I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether he will consider the claim of his widow to that allowance, as well as her claim to his election expenses. To my mind, she has an infinitely stronger claim to consideration than h ad those candidates who were reimbursed their expenses, because their elections were voided by reason of errors on the part of our electoral officers. Will the Acting Prime Minister inquire into the case with a view to seeing whether Mrs. Crosby is not entitled to the consideration which I. suggest ?
– In answer to the honorable member’s question, I may say that I am not aware that any claim hasbeen made by thewidow of the late Mr. Crosby Perhaps the honorable member is. In the absence of any claim, what can the Government do?
– Make provision on the Estimates for the payment of the amount. No claim was made in the other case.
– I do not know what course was adopted in that case, but if a claim is made, and the amount claimed is brought under the notice of the Government, the matter will be considered. It is utterly impossible for me to say that it will be allowed, when I am not aware of the whole of the circumstances. Honorable members, however, may trust me to be sympathetic so far as the claim of this lady is concerned, although I must first of all ascertain what is the amount at issue.
– Upon the 5th July, the honorable member for Perth asked the following question -
Can the Postmaster-General say when the undergrounding of telegraph and telephone wires in the metropolitan centres will be undertaken?
I have now obtained the following reply
It will be seen from the reports that the delay is due to the desire of the Department to use conduits made in Western Australian Pottery Works. The experience in Western Australia is not isolated ; it has been found in other States that the first efforts to make conduits suitable for use in underground telephone construction have not been very successful, but after a few preliminary trials, the initial difficulties have generally been overcome ; it is hoped that this will be the case in Western Australia.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether he is yet in possession of the information which he promised to obtain yesterday regarding anomalies in the telephone charges in South Australia?
– I am in receipt of the information which the honorable member seeks. The answer to his statement that the cost of telephonic connexion in Norwood is greater than that charged in Glenelg is -
Glenelg is a suburb in which a telephone exchange has been established. The charges for telephone lines connected with the Glenelg Exchange, through which communication is obtained with the remainder of the Adelaide network, are calculated on the distance of the subscribers’ premises from the Glenelg Exchange. Norwood is a suburb in which a telephone exchange has not yet been established, residents in this suburb requiring connexion to the telephone system are connected to the Adelaide Exchange, and are charged the regulation rates for the necessary extra mileage of wire.
I should like to add that yesterday I made a statement in answer to a question put by the honorable member, and also in reply to an interjection by the deputy leader of the Opposition. As regards my allegation against the honorable member for Boothby, I find that the only anomaly existing in South Australia, so far as telephone rates are concerned, was created in 1899, and I understand that the honorable member acted as Postmaster-General only during the last month of that year. Consequently my statement that he was responsible for that anomaly was probably not correct. Concerning the interjection of the honorable member for Parramatta, I may say that the anomaly which exists in the telephone rates in New South Wales was created during his tenure of office as Postmaster-General. That anomaly was brought about by the creation in different parts of the State of fictitious centres. That is to say, where there was no telephone exchange the charges were based upon the distance of a subscriber from the local post office.
– Purely for departmental reasons.
– The honorable member, I find, was responsible for creating these fictitious centres in New South Wales.
– Who was responsible for abolishing them? That is the point. No blunder was committed in establishing them, because the system worked satisfactorily.
– I am informed that the system of creating fictitious centres was instituted in New South Wales at the time the deputy leader of the Opposition was Postmaster-General.
– Will the Minister give the date, please?
– I have not the date.It was only this morning that I sent for the information. By way of personal explanation, I should like to reply to the statement which the honorable member yesterday gave to the press representatives, and which was published in the newspapers this morning. When the toll system was instituted, we decided that these fictitious centres should be abolished. We thought it was a fair thing for a man who had 5 miles of wire-
– The Postmaster-General is debating the question.
– If the honorable member will permit me to proceed, I desire to say that when the toll system was introduced the system of fictitious centres was abolished, but no right which had previously accrued to subscribers was taken from them. All that we havedone is to give subscribers who are 5 milesdistant from an exchange the same opportunities as are enjoyed by the subscriber who is only 1 mile distant.
– The trouble is that the Minister will not put an exchange near to some subscribers.
– The honorable member imagined a centre, and did not charge a subscriberfor perhaps 3 milesof wire. Under our system, he is charged upon 1 mile, or several miles - according tothe distance he is situated from the exchange. The statement which I made yesterday was made in good faith. We have taken away none of the privileges which old subscribers enjoyed, but we charge them in proportion to the length of wire that has to be put on to their telephonesfrom the nearest exchange.
– I should liketo move the adjournment of the House tocall attention to this matter.
– It is grievance day.
– The statement which has been made by the PostmasterGeneral was made as a personal explanation. But when all the questions have been answered it will be competent for the honorable member to move the adjournment of the House if he so desires, or he will have an opportunity to make a personal explanation.
– I desire to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter ofurgent public importance, viz. : - “Telephone anomalies.”
Five honorable members having risen intheir places,
– The PostmasterGeneraltoday has made to the House a statement which, so far as it goes, is correct. That which he made yesterday, however, conveyed an absolutely misleading impression. The honorable gentleman yesterday sought to lead the House to believe that a regulation which?
I brought into force when PostmasterGeneral in New South Wales, ten years ago, was responsible for the anomalies existing to-day in connexion with the telephone service. I am not going to belabour this question. I shall put before the House what I have to say in a very few minutes. I find, to begin with, that a similar regulation to the one in question prevails in all the States. That being so, it could not have originated in New South Wales. A like regulation which is, and has been for some time, in force in Victoria, provides that fifteen or, in the case of an all-night service, twenty-five intending subscribers, may request the installation of an exchange, the Postmaster-General reserving to himself the right to grant or refuse that request. It was found inconvenient to instal an exchange wherever a group of fifteeen persons were prepared to become subscribers, and purely for departmental reasons it was decided to adopt measuring centres. As the Postmaster-General has already explained, subscribers in this way were called upon to pay for the service according to their distance from the local post-office, and the Department was saved considerable trouble and expense in installing exchanges at short intervals. What the PostmasterGeneral has done, however, has been to abolish these measuring centres, and has thus created an anomaly. The position may be briefly explained. A small group of twenty or thirty persons is connected with an exchange, and subsequently there grows up at a point 2 or 3 miles distant a community of two or three hundred prospective subscribers, who, on asking for an exchange to be installed for their service are told that they must pay rates according to the distance at which they reside from the original exchange. The result is that whilst some subscribers to a small exchange pay only ^5 per an- mim, other groups, in some cases five or >six times larger, have to pay ^7, and even £8 per annum, notwithstanding that the wire serving the small exchange goes past their door. The Minister is not quite right when ihe says that this system has not been applied to old’ subscribers. His statement is true only in part. If an old subscriber changes his place of residence - if he removes only one door lower down the street - the Department increases his rate unless he happens to be within the charmed circle of a mile from the local exchange. There are cases in which two men living in adjoining houses have to pay ^5 per annum in the one case and £fi per annum in the other, for a telephone service. That is an anomaly that ought not to exist. It is unconstitutional in its very essence, and if tested, would have to be abolished in the interest of equal treatment of the people throughout the Commonwealth. This is the trouble of which I complain. I complain, not of the making of a new regulation, but rather of the abolition of a practice which was inaugurated for the advantage, not of the individual using the telephone, but of the Department. An anomaly corresponding with that mentioned by the honorable member for Boothby, exists in my own electorate, and particularly on the North Shore line. There we have an exchange practically at each end of the line, but the great bulk of subscribers living between the two points have to pay ^7 or £8 per annum for their telephone service, whilst those residing within a’ mile of either end pay only £5 per annum. Thus a man who may be four or five miles nearer the exchange than the subscriber who is paying only £5 per annum is called upon in some cases to pay £8 per annum.
– That is unfair.
– That is the trouble of which I complain. These cases have been brought under the notice of the Postmaster-General, and many of the aggrieved subscribers are having their instruments removed. Whilst they are willing to pay £5 or £6 per annum for the convenience of a private telephone for the use of their family, many of them will not pay ^7 or ,£8 per annum, particularly” when they feel that they are suffering so great a relative injustice. That is the whole point. It is not the matter of the inauguration of a new regulation. Business proceeded smoothly under the old regulation until the Minister a few months ago abolished the practice that had grown up under it. The honorable gentleman misled the House when he led us to believe that a regulation, which had been in existence for ten years had anything to do “with the anomaly recently created. The abolition of the custom so long in existence has led to the trouble. The Minister may continue this system if he pleases, but I venture to say that the good sense of the House and its sense of fair play will require, sooner or later, that something shall be done to remedy this intolerable anomaly.
– We must put every one on the same footing.
– But do not let us take a step back in doing so. The honorable member is carrying out sham reforms. His only idea of effecting reforms in the Post Office is to cut down rates. If he will take my advice, instead of confining himself purely and simply to an effort to reduce rates, he will pay a little more attention than he is doing to the efficiency of the service. These reductions are all very well if side by side with them we can insure the efficiency of the service, but in the Postal Department generally there is a decrease in efficiency corresponding with the reduction in the rates charged the public. I hope that the Postmaster-General will rectify these anomalies. No one knows better than he does that they are not right, and I fail to understand why he should allow them to continue. I cannot bring myself to believe that as a big service increases, so the facilities within that’ service should be proportionately decreased. The Department, on the contrary, should endeavour to increase and amplify them. I hope, therefore, that instead of trying to score a political point when answering a question put to him either by an opponent or one of his own party in this House, the honorable gentleman will endeavour to rectify the anomalies which he has allowed to grow up in the Department, and which threaten very serious consequences.
– The honorable member for Parramatta asserts that I attempted to mislead the House.
– I do.
– He takes me to task for supplying information which was called for owing to a statement that be made to the press. What are the facts ? The honorable member for Boothby asked rae a question., and, as usual, the honorable member for Parramatta sought to score a point by interjecting whilst I was speaking.
– No more bluffing.
– The honorable member interjected when I was replying to the honorable member for Boothby, and I replied that the anomaly arose in New South Wales, I believed, during his tenure of office as Postmaster-General in the State Administration. This morning I ascertained that the practice of creating fictitious centres, which ought to be and has been stopped-
– They are not fictitious centres.
– I repeat that they are. When we introduced the toll system we put a stop to the practice. What is a fictitious centre? The honorable member has instanced two cases that have occurred in his own electorate. We are told by him that there are there two exchanges 5 miles apart, and that he wishes subscribers living within i miles of either to be treated as if they lived within a mile of one of them. His claim is that because they are within a mile from a local postoffice that post-office should be treated as a centre, and that they should be charged accordingly, although it is necessary to put up z miles of wire to give them the communication they desire.
– It would not involve the erecting of an additi’onal half.inch of wire.
– As one who has held office as Postmaster-General in New South Wales, the honorable member ought to know that every telephone subscriber is not on the same wire. He spoke of wires passing the door of certain subscribers in his electorate, but surely he knows that in each case a wire has to be carried to the subscriber’s house. Then, again, he has said that the system exists in all the States. I caused inquiries to be made because of a statement made to the press by the honorable member and published in the Sydney Morning Herald, of 13th June last. In that statement he referred to the PostmasterGeneral as shouting about all the great reductions in rates he had secured, whilst at the same time he had given away the rights of the people.
– I said that the honorable member was putting up rates.
– In the one breath the honorable member complains that I am cutting down rates, and in the next he blames me for not making reductions.
– I say that the alleged reductions are a sham.
– The honorable member wishes those living in large centres, where there are from 4,000 to 10,000 subscribers, to be placed on the lowest possible rate, although he knows that in providing services for small country centres we have to charge interest on the increased outlay. Subscribers who require 5 miles of wire to connect them with the exchange are called upon to pay interest on the difference in cost between a1-mile and a 4-mile service. There should be no fictitious centres.
– The honorable member is trying to mislead the House.
– Order ! The honorable member for Parramatta has already spoken.
– Everybody who does not agree with the honorable member is said to be trying to mislead the House. Every one is wrong who does not agree with him. Everything is topsy-turvy unless the honorable member thinks otherwise. But I do not mind what the honorable member says.
– I say that the honorable member is deliberately misleading the House.
– I have heard the honorable member in this House and the State Parliament of New South Wales on many occasions during the last fifteen or sixteen years, and know that he always sings the same song. I am simply giving the facts of the case.
-.They are not facts ; I deny it.
– They are supplied to me by the officers of the Department as facts.
– It is the use which the honorable member makes of the information that I complain of.
– The honorable member states that these centres are in all the States; and in consequence of that statement, which was made last month, I have obtained some information. I find that in Tasmania and Western Australia the system is not followed. In Adelaide there is one case, though it is not that of a fictitious centre, but simply an arrangement made under the authority of Sir Charles Todd in 1899, in connexion with the Semaphore. In Brisbane I find that there was one fictitious centre before Federation ; in Melbourne there were two before Federation, and in Sydney there were ten before Federation. It is idle, when Sydney has more cases than all the other States, put together, for the honorable member to try to make us believe that the practice was common throughout the Commonwealth. I admit that there are anomalies in the telephone system. I remember the scream which the honorable member made when I introduced the toll system, and how he prophesied disaster; but he does not say anything about that system now.
– Who screamed?
– The honorable member.
– Again the Minister is making an entirely misleading statement.
– Every honorable member (knows the obloquy that was thrown upon me when I introduced the toll system. No doubt the system has introduced some anomalies ; and I agree that all subscribers should be on the one footing. If we were in the position to give the people a good service, aswe hope soon to be, we would endeavour to make all the rates uniform. The toll system would bring about the result we aim at ; it would make everybody pay for the service they receive, which these fictitious centres do not.
– Will the Minister say when and where I screamed about the toll system ?
– I do not mind these interruptions if you do not, Mr. Speaker.
– I rise to order. Has the Minister any right to continue imputing untrue statements to another member - to continue making statements which have not a tittle of truth in them ?
– The honorable member for Parramatta has had an opportunity, which he used, to say all he thought fit, and while he was speaking I am not aware that the Postmaster-General interjected once. But since the Postmaster-General has been speaking, the honorable member for. Parramatta has interjected frequently. The honorable member should listen to the Postmaster-General without interruption, because the Minister has only a quarter of an hour in which to speak, while the honorable member for Parramatta will have another quarter of an hour in which to reply. I do not think that the PostmasterGeneral is transgressing the rules.
– It is not desired to make money out of the telephone service, but if the service is topay, as Parliament holds it must pay, then the golden, commercial rule must apply, that the public shall pay for the services rendered to them. If it costs only a shilling a week to give a man telephone service under the toll system, he ought to have it for that sum ; but if the cost is, as in many cases. twice as much as two or three of the big subscribers, who are making all the noise, pay at present, the system ought to be altered. The toll system is the only fair and legitimate system, and I welcome the honorable member for ‘Parramatta to the ranks of its supporters. The honorable member now says that he was not against the toll system, and that all subscribers should be placed on the one footing. I am glad to know that he is with the Government in that view.
– Of course, I never said any such thing !
– The honorable member said he wanted equal treatment for all. If a man is 2 miles out of town, and the exchange rate is £5 per annum, and we take a line out to him, he has to pay interest on the cost of the mileage covered. But when it comes to the honorable member’s own case - when, as he plaintively puts it, his own constituents are involved - he wants a fictitious centre to be permitted. He desires us to imagine they are within 1 mile of an exchange, and should not be charged any more. In my opinion we ought not to continue the system, and we have stopped all privileges as far as we can. I look forward to the day, and, apparently, so does the honorable member for Parramatta, when every subscriber will be placed on the one footing, and when we shall be able to establish telephones everywhere. Numbers of people, who desire a telephone service, cannot afford the big prices which have been brought about in the past, owing to the man with three or four calls having to pay for the man who has 500 calls. We ought to try to sweep anomalies away, but I do not feel justified in sweeping them away and altering the rates until we are in a position to give a better service. At present the service is notoriously bad throughout Australia. Why ? Because we have not modern switchboards, the wire or the machines. The demand for telephones is enormous; and I undertake to say that there are twice as many applications to-day as there were this day last year. Until we are in a position to cope with these applications we are taking the line of least resistance; and when people have a bad service we do our best to meet them as far as possible with improvements.
– When is it expected that the Department will have the wire and the machines?
– I hope Parliament will vote sufficient money this year to enable me to carry out the great scheme of reform which has been initiated. No one will say that reducing the rates is not a step in the right direction. The honorable member for Parramatta charges me with reducing the rates.
– Not at all.
– The honorable member says that reducing the rates is the only idea I have in my mind. Since the honorable member was in office - I do not know whether there were public telephones then - the charge at the bureaux has been reduced from 3d. to1d. a call, and the bureaux pay much better at the lower rate. I had occasion the other day to make inquiries as to a telephone on a wharf, and found there were sixty calls a day at1d. ; and so it is now proposed to place another telephone there. So long as we do not go too far, the greater the convenience we can give the public at the lowest possible paying rate, the more they will avail themselves of that convenience. I plead guilty to the charge that I have reduced the rates, and, if I am allowed to remain in office, I intend to reduce them still more, although I desire to proceed very cautiously. I have had the honorable member for Maranoa and the honorable member for Newcastle urging me to make a reduction in the charge on the trunk lines, and I should like to comply with their request; but we have to keep an eye on the general taxpayer and consider whether the lines would then pay ; otherwise we should have the Treasurer keeping us up to the mark. We ought to proceed cautiously ; but it is a step in the right direction to sweep away privileges for which people do not pay. I have no hesitation in saying that in a short time the Department will be able to put a telephone in any home in settled centres for a shilling a week, and farmers’ telephones will be stretched into the country. It is not a pleasure to me to refuse requests for telephone facilities; I am only too glad to grant them if I can. It is easier to say “ yes” than “ no,” but I have a duty to perform ; and if the Department is to be managed on a commercial basis, I must first see whether any proposed reductions will pay. I do not mean that reduced rates should pay in every individual case, but on the average ; there must be some reasonable prospect of success before we embark on any of the proposals which have been made. I have no desire to misrepresent the honorable member for Parramatta; but the honorable member always “performs” in this way, and I do not think he does himself justice. I do not wish to mislead the House ; and I think 1 am justified in putting these facts before honorable members, and allowing them to judge for themselves.
.- The gist of the argument seems to be that all subscribers should be placed on the same footing, and, so far as I can gather, both the honorable member for Parramatta and the Minister have justified themselves fairly well, each from his own point of view. The Minister referred to the toll system; but I hope that, before he introduces that system throughout the service, he will give honorable members an opportunity to thoroughly discuss the question. The primary objection to the toll system is that double work is imposed on the operators in the exchange.
– The honorable member is quite wrong.
– Then I’ am quite incompetent to understand a plain fact. The operator has, first of all, to receive and answer the ring, and then he has to record the call in a book or on a piece of paper.
– Under the toll system the calls are so considerably reduced, that the work is not nearly so great as under the flat system.
– That is where I differ from the honorable member, who is presuming that a great many people use the telephones unnecessarily.
– There is no doubt they “ do.
– I cannot conceive of anybody going through the nerve-racking experience of telephoning, even to a beloved friend, unless compelled to do so.
– A record was taken of one telephone on a Sunday, and there were 120 messages, not half of which were bond fide.
– I cannot appreciate that statement. In the country districts of the United States of America that great drawback of a farmer’s life, isolation, is ameliorated to a great extent by the telephone. The farmers are able to talk to one another, and, even if they do indulge in a little nonsense, we all know that nonsense, now and then, is relished by the wisest men. I do not believe that tele phones are misused to the extent stated ; and I am afraid that the extra- work, which the toll system involves on the operators, would mean doubling their number with the result of adding to the public expense. Butchers, bakers, and other tradesmen use the telephone most of all to ring up their customers in the early morning and late in the evening, when very few other subscribers are using the wires.
– Is there the slightest objection to those tradesmen paying according to the service rendered?
– There is not the slightest objection, but I say that they are now paying for the service rendered. There has not been a case put before us which shows any anomalies, so far as I can make out. All I can say is that the flat system suits me.
– The average number of calls in Sydney under the toll system is four per day, while the average for the flat subscribers is sixteen per day.
– That is perfectly natural. The argument of the Department is that the flat rate subscribers use the telephone illegally or for frivolous purposes.
– We say that if a subscriber uses a telephone a great deal, he ought to pay for the service rendered.
– That is not an argument, because anybody who requires only a few calls will, of course, go under the toll system, but if the whole lot of subscribers are put under that system, there will not, in my opinion, be a very great reduction of calls.
– Then the Department will be paid for the service rendered.
– I do not think so, because a great many people would cease using the telephone.
– Subscribers pay three times as much in America as is paid in. Australia.
– The great Bell trust is run on the toll .system, but all the other private telephone companies of America - there are about 10,000 of them - charge flat rates.
– And in every case the charges are higher than our charges.
– I do not know what they are, but private companies must make their services pay. We. have never had a statement of what our telephone system costs to the taxpayer.
– The service pays remarkably well, so that it does not cost the taxpayer anything.
– I object to being forced to change from the flat rate to the toll system. Every Britisher dislikes being forced. But the Postmaster-General could lead us a long way. The other day, however, when I applied for an extension of my line from the wall to my table, I was told that I could not have it without changing from the flat rate to the toll system. Before the Minister extends the toll system, I hope that he will give the House an opportunity to discuss his proposals, and will lay before us exact figures showing the cost of administering the telephone service, and the returns obtained, so that we may know what changes are desirable from the taxpayers’ point of view.
.- The toll system is a fair one, and the flat rate system is infamous, so that I hope the Postmaster-General will do what he can to bring every subscriber under the toll system. Under the flat rate system, the service given to the Grand Hotel, Melbourne, used to cost twice as much as the subscription, and the continual use of the telephone was a nuisance to the Department. No one can say that that was a right state of things. Those who have used the telephone systems of London or America know that our telephone system can hold its own with them both for the service and attention given, and the politeness of the operators. I have only once lost my temper when at the telephone, because a visit to the central exchange has shown me what cause we have for being patient with the operators.
– I wish to save them unnecessary work.
– That is too thin an excuse. Medical experts such as Dr. Springthorpe, the honorable member for Laanecoorie, and myself, who have given a great deal of attention to this matter, are agreed that the hours worked by the telephone attendants should be shorter, and that there should be more frequent periods of rest. I was one of the first to apply for a telephone under the toll system.
– The honorable member is No. 1.
– I hope to retain that privilege so long as I am above ground. I made the change to the toll system after much consideration. Formerly I was pay ing the maximum flat rate, although the calls from my house did not average two a day. Under the toll system, I find that I am on the right side of the ledger, and many of my acquaintances are changing to that system, because they find the expense of their telephone service is thereby lessened. Every one who puts a penny into a slot in a public bureau is a subscriber to the telephone system, and interested in its proper working, and the unanimous verdict of the public is that the changes which have been made have given excellent results, and that there is general satisfaction with the service.
.- I wish to impress upon the Postmaster-General the necessity of not acting too rapidly in regard to the fictitious centres to which reference has been made. At the present time there are some startling anomalies in the telephone charges within my electorate. We have a telephone exchange at Hawthorn, but the people living in the populous suburb of Kew have to pay additional rates because of their distance from it.
– It is the same with the people of Richmond, who are four times as numerous as the inhabitants of Kew.
– Then the honorable membershould try to bring about a change. I think that in a case like that of Kew, the Minister should provide a local exchange, and charge the subscribers the usual rates. I hope that he will give great attention to the need of effecting improvements in our telephone service. T recently visited some of the suburban exchanges, and, if other honorable members do the same, and see for themselves what a racking work that of the operators there is, they will sympathize more with their difficulties. A sufficient sum shouldbe voted for the proper equipment of all our telephone exchanges. At Hawthorn, the girl operators have to strain their ears to catch the questions that are asked of them, the din caused by the stamping of letters close by making it extremely difficult for them to hear the subscribers.
– Steps are being taken to remedy that evil.
– Very properly so, too. Other exchanges also need attention. When the Postmaster-General was at the Postal Conference at Rome, the Minister of Defence, who was acting in his absence, undertook that an inquiry should be made to ascertain the cost of the telephone service, and to furnish a statement of its receipts and expenditure. I think that if such a statement is prepared and laid before us, it will- be found that this service is a very profitable one. If it is a profitable one, charges should be reduced, and facilities increased. I ask the Minister to, as soon as possible, lay on the table the information which has been promised. 1 hope that this discussion will not be prolonged now that each of the honorable members aggrieved - and no two members in the Chamber are better able to take care of themselves - has placed his position clearly before the House.
– I do not know which I admire more, the Minister’s audacity iri endeavouring to shift on to other shoulders blame which attaches to himself, or his consummate skill in drawing a red herring across the trail.. The honorable member for Parramatta complained that the honorable gentleman is increasing the rates of certain telephone subscribers by abolishing what the Minister called the system, of fictitious centres, but the reply he received was a mere mass of irrelevant “verbiage, dealing largely with generalities, but especially with the toll system of charging, which has nothing to do with the case. The whole discussion was originated by a statement by the Postmaster-General, which I believe to be without foundation. He endeavoured to make the deputy leader of the Opposition responsible for a number of the telephone anomalies which exist in New South Wales. Now he tells us that he is abolishing “ fictitious “ centres, but the honorable member for Parramatta charges him with refusing to place exchanges in centres of population, thereby increasing rates to the users of telephones. .An example of this occurs at a place called Epping, some miles from Sydney. There i’s a telephone exchange there, although the population in the im mediate neighbourhood is very small, whereas within two or three miles the populous suburbs of Gordon, Wahroonga, Turramurra, and Hornsby are without exchanges, and their residents have consequently to pay extra rates for their telephone service.
– It has been the object of the Minister throughout his political life to belittle Sydney.
– His Department is certainly doing great, injustice under the present system. Some time ago I represented to it the needs of Watson’s Bay, and a report was furnished by a responsible officer, in which it was- recommended that. my requests be not acceded to. On reading that report, I found that the officer responsible for it did not understand even the topography of the suburb.
– The local Departmental Inspector should have understood that.
– Although the Department is presided over by a gentleman possessing the virtues and genius of the Postmaster-General, it was unable to appoint an officer to inquire into my application who understood the topography of Watson’s Bay, and could furnish a correct statement of the Department’s affairs there. This discussion has originated in the Minister’s discourteous treatment of the deputy leader of the Opposition. For some time past, the Postmaster-General has exhibited a disposition to treat with very scant courtesy honorable members upon the Opposition side of the House.
– I do not think that any other honorable member will support that statement.
– I think that the deputy leader of the Opposition will make it.
– Is there a single honorable member upon the Opposition side of the House who will say that I draw any distinction between the various political sections here?
– If the PostmasterGeneral wishes me to believe that he treats all sections alike, then I must say that he treats them all with scant courtesy.
– I will say “ No “ to any honorable member if I’ think that he is entitled to that reply.
– It is not a question of saying “ No.” In replying to a question put to him yesterday by the deputy leader of the Opposition, the Postmaster-General proceeded - from a mistaken sense of humour- - to make statements which were incorrect. It is true that he uttered them with a smile upon his face, but, unfortunately, that smile -cannot be transferred to the pages of Hansard.
– When the honorable member charges me with differentiating between honorable members, he ought to prove his statement. It is a most unfair charge to make.
– I -charged the PostmasterGeneral with treating members of the Opposition with scant courtesy. I did not say that he treated other members of the House in any different fashion. Perhaps he is incapable of doing so. I hope that the present is the last occasion upon which we shall have cause to complain of his conduct.
– That statement reminds me of the honorable member’s action in connexion with the Hoad telegram.
– I think that the PostmasterGeneral should be the very last person in the world to take exception to statements made by honorable members upon this side of the House, especially in view of what has occurred during the past two days. I complain of< the statements which the honorable gentleman has made to-day. How he can endeavour to put into the mouths of honorable members statements which are absolutely unwarranted passes my comprehension. To-day, he declared that I had been “screaming against the toll system.” I do not recollect that I have ever criticised that system. I have always been in favour of a reasonable toll system. His statement in that connexion is one for which there is not a tittle of foundation. He also affirmed that I am opposed to a reduction in the telephone rates. I have made no such statement. The whole gravamen of my complaint is that the Postmaster-General is raising those rates, and is doing it in an underhand and foolish way.
– My telephone does not cost me half what it used to.
– My honorable friend must not think that his case is a typical one. I am pointing out anomalies which exist. So far from desiring to increase rates, the Postmaster-General knows very well that I was the first Minister in Australia to reduce them.
– From what?
– I reduced the charge in New South Wales from £12 to £5 mer annum, and the rest of the States copied my example. I was the first to attack the old rates. The PostmasterGeneral is well aware of that, because it is a matter of common knowledge. What I did say to-day was that, side by side with a decrease of the rates, there should be a strict maintenance of the efficiency of the service. I declared that the cutting down of the rates should form no excuse for an inefficient service, otherwise we should be taking away with one hand what we gave with the other. I repeat that there has not been an increase in the efficiency of the sendee side by side with the cutting down of the rates. The
Postmaster- General has said that I wish subscribers who are 5 miles from a centre to pay only the same fee as those who reside close to that centre. That is not the case. -Centres containing 250 subscribers, who are resident 4 miles from the central exchange, are to-day paying ^3 per annum more than is paid by small groups who are 4 miles further from that exchange. That is the effect which has been produced bv the abolition of the fictitious centres of which the honorable gentleman has spoken. These fictitious centres represent a reasonable solution of a very troublesome difficulty. The arrangement in respect of them had worked smoothly for years. By abolishing those centres, the Postmaster- General has created anomalies which cannot continue. It is intolerable that two neighbours should be called upon to pay £5 and £8 per annum respectively for their telephones. I object to the Postmaster-General .attempting to mislead the House by declaring that I have done things which I have never contemplated. The honorable gentleman laughs. It is something to laugh at, I suppose. Personally, I should be ashamed to attempt to deliberately mislead the House. I object to his action in making statements concerning me which he knows to be absolutely incorrect. That is my complaint. I shall be very much obliged if he will say, in a truthful manner, what he knows about my record in the Postal Department.
– I am not here to praise the honorable member.
– I do not want the Postmaster-General to praise me. I merely wish him to cease making untruthful statements, and I have a right to require that at his hands, in the interests of decency and fair play.
Question resolved in the negative.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the increments and back pay due to the 5th class officers being in arrears some twelve months, he will pay them out of the Treasurer’s Advance ? ‘
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is -
I am of opinion that the Treasurer’s Advance is not intended to be used to pay increments to salaries. Section 78 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1902 provides that “ Nothing in this Act shall authorize the expenditure of any greater sum out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund by way of payment of any salary t.’.an is from time to time appropriated by the Parliament for the purpose.” Exception to this has be’en made in regard to the minimum wage and salaries less than £110 a year, as being, a fundamental principle of the Act.
Section 37 of the Audit Act (sub-section 3) also provides that while in order to meet the exigencies of the Public Service the proportions assigned to the particular items comprised under any subdivision in the annual supplies may be varied, no such variation shall be applied, to augment or add to any salary or wages.
It is not possible, therefore, for me to pay these increments until the amounts are appropriated by the Parliament for the purpose.
I have made this statement very definite because J have been asked the same question a dozen times in this House, and a hundred times by public servants throughout Australia, and, although I have given replies in exactly similar terms, still a number of persons evidently think that the Treasurer can pay increments upon salaries without those salaries having first been appropriated by an Act of Parliament.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I must ask the honorable member to postpone the first portion of his question till Thursday next. In reply to the second part of it, I may say that I have already done what he suggests.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
It was thought desirable at the initiation of the Cadet movement to, as far as possible, obtain instructors who had been accustomed to deal with boys.
Later on this matter will be taken into consideration.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether he will lay on the table of the House two reports submitted last year by Mr. Arnold, Acting Deputy Postmaster-General, New South Wales, also a report submitted this year by Mr. E. J. Young, Deputy Postmaster-General, on the subject of Postal Administration in Sydney?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Copies of the reports referred to will be laid upon the Library table for the information of honorable members.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
.- I move -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act relating to fire insurance.
For the information of honorable members I desire to say that this Bill is somewhat similar to the measure which I introduced during the last Parliament. It is designed to give absolute security to the insurer, whilst at the same time preventing him from contracting himself out of his liability to the insured. I think it will be found that its proposals are reasonable, and if the leave which I ask be granted, I shall take an earlyopportunity to move the second reading of the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Question - That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair, and that the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply - resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from 24th July (vide page 928), on motion by Mr. Groom -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- I have been called upon somewhat unexpectedly to continue the debate which I had not anticipated would be resumed until after the adjournment for dinner. I may say, however, that I have been very much amused by the attitude of the Reid section of the Opposition. The honorable member for Dalley, who was the last to speak on this question, gave what the honorable and learned member for Parkes would describe as the truly anti-socialistic answer to the Bounties proposal, whilst the honorable member for Lang, who precededhim, put before the House’ what he said was a definition of Socialism, and sought to excuse the favorable attitude of members of his party towards this Bill on the ground that it was not a socialistic proposal. I did not hear the name of the author of the definition which he gave us, but understood him to say that Socialism was State enterprise for the equal benefit of all. That is a definition to which I do not subscribe. A gentleman associated with this House, in the course of a conversation, put the position very aptly. He said that if a cow suffering from tuberculosis, or a horse with girth-galls, were seen in one of our streets, the State authorities would interpose for the benefit of the animal - that could be called paternalism ; but that if the State did something for the benefit of man, it would be defined with an opposition-face as Socialism. In looking through the Bill, I find that it is of a distinctly socialistic character. In the first place, it is proposed to subsidize certain industries to the extent of £530,000. Then under paragraph b of clause 4, bounties are to be payable in respect of goods which - have been grown or produced in not less than the prescribed quantity and subject to the prescribed conditions.
Further, in paragraph a of the same clause, it is provided that they shall be payable in respect of goods which -
Are in the opinion of the Minister of a merchantable quality. . . .
In paragraph d of clause 9, power is given to the Governor-General to make regulations for prescribing the manner in which the market value is to be determined, whilst inparagraph e, the Governor-General is given power to make regulations -
For prescribing the time within which, after the production of the raw material, the production of the goods in respect of which bounty is claimed shall be completed.
In paragraph c of clause 4 we have another provision, which compels those claiming the bounty to show that the goods in respect of which the claim is made “have been grown or produced by white labour only.” Then, in clause 6, it is provided that the grower or producer who claims a bounty shall specify the rate of wages and conditions under which the employes in the industry are engaged. We find in the schedule no provision for a sliding scale which would show that the Government contemplated that at some time or other the industry to be encouraged would be able to carry on without State assistance. It would appear, therefore, that the intention of the measure is that State support shall be continued indefinitely. I therefore agree with the honorable member for Dalley that the Bill is of a distinctly socialistic character. We were told by the leader of the Opposition and his deputy that the great issue before the people at the last general election was the question of “ Socialism versus antiSocialism.” That being so, if they were playing the part of sincere politicians, one would expect therm to put up a great fight in opposition to this Bill. Their attitude, however, shows that they were simply humbugging the electors, because they have not attempted to oppose it on the ground that it is a socialistic proposition. Two or three of their most prominent supporters are among its most ardent advocates. The honorable member for Dalley has good cause for complaint in respect of the attitude of his leaders. He told us last night that at the last general election he tootled in the great anti-socialistic band, whilst his leader beat the drum, but that in the House he finds other members of the band deserting him.
– The honorable member belongs to a brass band, and he seems to have forgotten the tune - that of the nationalization of monopolies - which he played at the last general election.
– Not at all. I alluded to the question during the debate onthe Address-in-Reply, and whenever I have an opportunity to give effect to my views in that regard, I shall avail myself of it. I sympathize with the honorable member in the position in which he finds himself. Every speech that he has delivered in the House this session has been one of complaint against the members of his party. He has spoken more than once of the humiliating position in which his leader has placed him.
– No one places me in a humiliating position. I can take care of myself.
– I admit that the honorable member is looking out for himself and taking steps to adopt an independent course at the next election. He is making ready to shape a course different from that which the leader of his party followed at the last election. Most of those who on that occasion described themselves as extreme anti-Socialists, did not know what they were talking about. The honorable member for Nepean, who was among the number, has told us that although he is opposed to this Bill, if provision were made for a bounty for the establishment of the iron industry, he would reconsider his position. The honorable member for Capricornia, another member of the Opposition, as well as the honorable member for Kooyong, who is regarded as the leader of the fourth party in the House, are supporters of it.
– There is no leader of our party.
– If we are to believe the statements attributed to the honorable member for Kooyong by the press he is strongly opposed to Socialism; and yet we find him prepared to support the principle of this Bill. The honorable member for Wimmera, who is also a member of the fourth party, occupies a seat in the. Opposition corner, because he is scared by the cry raised in a section of the press that this is the socialistic side of the House; but he has announced himself as a supporter of the Bill. There are others whom I might also mention. Where are the leaders of the anti-socialistic movement to-day? Where, for instance, is the honorable and learned member for Parkes, who is one of the most extreme individualists in the Parliament ? I suppose that he is practising his profession in the Law Courts of New South Wales to-day, and is doing well for himself. So far as he is concerned, if, as some of his party allege, this Bill is going to do harm to the country, the Commonwealth may “ go hang.” And where is the right honorable member for East Sydney? At the last general election he likened the position of the Commonwealth under the policy of the Labour Party and that of the Government to that of a house on fire, where everything is in danger, and he described himself as the leader of the fire brigade intent on subduing the flames. To-day, however, we find that he is not here to lead on his brigade, and that, as a matter of fact, some of the firemen are deserting.
– They have struck their colours.
– They have, and are actually helping to feed the conflagra- tion. I do not desire to speak at length, but I could not resist the opportunity to point out the ridiculous position in which these honorable members have placed themselves. Every time they speak in the House the political chickens which they hatched during the election campaign come home to roost. I have experienced no trouble in regard to the way in which this Bill may be described. The name of a proposal is immaterial to me, and I shall deal on its merits with every proposition submitted by the Government. Although many honorable members of the Opposition loudly voiced their anti-socialistic humbug when on the hustings, we find that in this House, when they are faced with the invincible arguments of common sense, their fancies vanish into thin air. The collective wisdom of the representatives of the people proves true to the well-established principle that the collective power and the collective purse should minister to the needs of the weaker divisions of labour and industry.
.- I should like to add my congratulations to those which the Attorney-General has received upon the way in which he introduced this Bill, for I chink that he made a very clear and satisfactory statement to the House. We are told that the Bill is designed to encourage new industries - to induce people to quit our too populous cities and make our waste places smiling oases. The object is a worthy one, but it is for us, as business men, to view the proposal from a practical stand-point. The real question that we have to solve is whether the Bill is likely to achieve so desirable an end. I have very grave doubts -upon the point, and when I look at the history of the bounty system, I feel that I am justified in the position I take up. Very few of the objects sought to be served by the granting of bounties either in France, Germany, or Australia, have been effected. The Victorian Government some years ago endeavoured to encourage new industries by means of bonuses, but, with the exception of the butter bonus, their efforts in this direction met with no success. Unfortunately, it is only too usual in the case of bounties, for a lot of the money, which ought to go to the producers, to find its way into other channels. I think, however, that butter is an article, the manufacture of which was really promoted by means of a bounty or bonus; but that is the only successful application of the system to which Victoria can point. Another unfortunate circumstance is that very frequently bounties encourage people to engage in industries, which are abandoned as soon as the money has been paid over. On page 5 of the report of the experts, dealing with the prospects of the cotton industry in Queensland, it is stated -
The second period’ was in the late eighties, when a bonus was also given, but not on the growth of the plant. The bonus offered was £5,000 for the first 5,000 yards of cotton goods, but the manufacturing company ceased business very soon after the bonus had been paid over.
In the same State, a similar case occurred in connexion with the bounty on silk. Some£800 was voted for the encouragement of the production of this commodity ; and some people actually engaged in the industry ; but as soon as the £800 had been paid over, the manufacture of silk languished and died. As to the Bill itself, if I may presume to criticise, I think it attempts too much. Here we have a long list of items, the production of which is to be encouraged, each by means of a small sum; and I am afraid that if the Bill be passed as presented to us, we shall find that we have spent all these small sums, aggregating a large amount, without actually benefiting any industry whatever. In my opinion, the Government ought to have picked out three or four items, the production of which is really fitted to the conditions which prevail in Australia, and which, with assistance, might have formed the basis of permanent industries ; that would have been acting in a more business-like way, with some hope of ultimate success. When I say that the Bill attempt too much, I mean that it deals with too many items, and that the sums allotted are too small, in many instances, to attain the end desired. In Queensland, I understand, the State Government there spent no less than , £750,000 before the sugar industry was established on anything like a satisfactory basis. How, therefore, can we hope to establish industries, such as are represented by the items on the schedule, on the slender pittances allotted? Personally, I believe it is possible to establish industries by means of bounties, but the history of the system inclines me to the conclusion that very few industries can be helped in this way ; and therefore we should be extremely cautious in our legislation. Cotton, jute, rubber, combed wool or tops, and fish, might very well be made the subjects of a Bill of this kind. The fishing industry, especially, would be a good one to establish, if a bounty can ‘ bring about that result, because it is a national industry in which people in all parts of the Commonwealth could participate. But the other items I have mentioned, with the exception of combed wool or tops, would be confined to Queensland and the Northern Territory.
– That remark does not apply to flax.
– Flax, I believe, can be grown almost anywhere in the Commonwealth.
– And jute?
– Yes, and jute, too. In regard to cotton, neither the report of the experts nor of the authorities in Queensland is very encouraging. But, on the other hand, there is the report of Mr. Jones, whose opinion, I should say, is worth more than that of the experts, bearing in mind his greater knowledge.
– He is a practical cottongrower himself.
– In my opinion, the cotton industry could be established in Australia, but I doubt whether the bounty mentioned in the Bill would prove anything like sufficient. As I have already indicated, I think the Government would have been better advised to select only a few items, like those I mentioned, so that it could be fairly tested whether the commodities could be successfully produced in Australia. There are certain items in the schedule which I think the Government would do well to eliminate in the first instance. In the case of olives, for example, the industry has already been well established in South Australia, and the bounty for many years would be absorbed by the growers in that State; in short, the bounty would go to people who have established themselves without it, and do not require the assistance. The chances of peanuts and palm oil have, I think, already been demolished; and they may be easily removed from the schedule. If the Government can see their way clear to amend their proposals in what I consider a business-like way, and confine their attention to cotton, flax, jute, wool, and fish, I shall be glad to support the Bill. There is another consideration which makes us chary of the bounty system, especially in Australia. Most of the commodities mentioned in the schedule are produced in other parts of the world by the lowest paid labour, and the question is whether we in Australia, who have to employ white labour, and pay adequate wages, can produce them at a profit. This, to my mind, is a very serious consideration, because, unless we can produce in sufficient quantities to export, and compete in the world’s markets, we cannot employ many people profitably, or do much in the way of settling our empty spaces and improving the prospects of Australia generally. I should like to see the Government introduce a proposal for an iron bounty, instead of the bounties now submitted, because the chances of success for the iron industry in Australia are much better than the chances of any of the industries contemplated by the Bill. If the iron industry were established here, far more men would be employed than would be the case in the production of many of the items in the schedule.
– The iron industry is established. ‘
– But, unfortunately, it is not likely to continue without some State assistance.
– Impose a Tariff.
– Yes, I am not afraid to proceed in that direction, so long as the duty is not made too high. Many previous speakers have urged that this Bounty Bill should not be dealt with until after the Tariff has been introduced; and I think that that view is the right one. It’ would be better for us to know our financial position before we vote the large sum of money involved in this Bill. Although, as I have said, the bounty on each item is not, in my opinion, sufficient to establish an industry, yet the small sums, added together, form the very respectable total of ^530,000, which is rather a large amount of money to fritter away when there is a danger that we may be unable to point to any successfully established industry. - If the bounties be given. a good many people will probably be encouraged to engage in the new industries, and if the sums prove insufficient, either a renewal of the bounties or high protective duties will be asked for. I am sure that is not what is contemplated by those who have expressed their good intentions in the Bill before us. The honorable and learned member for Flinders was quite right when he said that we should have had the Budget proposals before we were called upon to consider this measure. The honorable and learned member told us how the State Parliament of Vic- toria had been placed in a serious position owing to the slipshod manner in which large financial propositions had been introduced at any time, and especially before the members of that Parliament knew the contents of the Budget. I hope that the good advice given by the honorable and learned member will be taken to heart by the Government; because, although this Bill in itself may not be regarded as a very serious step in a wrong direction, still it may be the first towards doing business in a slipshod manner. I hope that on future occasions when proposals of ‘this kind are brought before the House, a statement of our financial position will be given, and the means to be taken to provide the money asked for indicated. I do not intend to deal with the schedule in detail, because such a discussion is better reserved for the Committee stage ; but I ask the Ministry - although T have no hope that they will adopt my suggestion - to- limit their proposals to a few of the. items in the schedule. I feel so strongly that that is the wise course to pursue, that if the Government insists on pushing through the Bill, the whole Bill and nothing but the Bill, it will be my duty to oppose it, because I cannot see any reasonable chance of success in attempts to deal .at ‘one time with a large number of new industries. If Ministers, in the first place, limit their energies to the encouragement of a few industries only, I shall be prepared to support them.
– I listened to the address of the Minister in charge of the Bill with considerable pleasure, and gathered from what he said that the Government intend to take precautions to insure the success of the action which they propose in regard to the encouragement of certain industries. Our object, as business men, should be to do all that is possible to attract population to our shores, and thus provide for the cultivation of what are to-day practically waste lands. If we do this we shall increase the public revenue, and make Australia a more prosperous country. Personally, I am in favour of giving bounties for the establishment of industries, and in a country which possesses tens of millions of acres of practically unused land it is the duty of the Government to take all means for the development of its capabilities and resources. But before anything definite is done for the encouragement of particular industries, a close inquiry should be made into climatic conditions and soils, because without due precautions the best-meant efforts will fail. Possibly the Government intend to arrange through the States Departments of Agriculture for the oversight of their experiments. If advantage is not taken of the teachings of science, and the proper consideration of local conditions is neglected, the chances of success are very small. Most of the States have at times given bounties for the encouragement of industries, but as they did not supply expert advisers to instruct growers how to plant, where to plant, what to plant, and how to garner, most of their attempts to encourage primary production have merely resulted in the waste of money. The failure of such experiments not only damps the ardour of those who have been induced to try new methods, but deters others from entering upon industries which, under proper conditions, might prove very remunerative. I agree with the honorable member for Wilmot that it will be best for the Government to reduce its proposals to five or six items. Parliament has decided that Australia shall be a white man’s country, and therefore, I do rot approve of the offering of bounties for the encouragement of what are black men’s industries. The growing of rubber is such an industry.
– How long is it before a rubber tree comes into bearing?
– Ten or twelve years, I believe.
– Six or seven.
– I am informed that very often there is no yield until after ten or twelve years. It is well known that some apple trees which in one situation will bear four years after they are planted, will in another situation not bear for seven years. With regard to the proposal of the Government for the encouragement of the cotton industry;, two experts who saw the samples of cotton exhibited in the Queensland Court at the recent Australian Natives Association Exhibition said that they had not met with cotton of ai better texture or stronger staple except in Egypt, and they spoke of Australia as an ideal country for its production. From what I have heard, I conclude that the Queensland cotton industry failed because the growers did not take the precautions necessary to insure success. Had they better understood what wa!s required, the industry would probably not have failed. Last year I was informed that two Japanese gentlemen, who have resided in Australia for some years, spent practically twelve months in taking the temperature of the soil along the Murray and Mumimbidgee Rivers and on the Darling. The results proved that the temperature in those places is perhaps more even than in any other part of the world - and an even temperature is essential to the success of rice-growing. They seem to think that we could produce the very best rice and get as large a yield ner acre as is obtained anywhere. Therefore, I favour the giving of bounties for the encouragement of cotton and rice growing. I also think we should encourage the production of fibre. Australia, because of her demand for wool bales, wheat sacks, and other kinds of bags, uses, per head of population, more jute and fibre manuf actures than any other country in the world, and if our farmers were encouraged to grow jute, hemp, flax, and similar plants, and were given the best expert advice, we should probably before long be able to supply our own market with these goods. We know how valuable flax is in New Zealand. No flax in the world surpasses that which is indigenous to that country. Here we have similar soil and climate, and ought to be able to grow it equally well. But Ave do not want to fritter our money- away upon industries which are not likely to be successful, and therefore I hope that the Government will in Committee strike out many of the items in the schedule. The production of cotton, fibres, combed wool, rice, dried fruits, and one or two other things, might well, be encouraged, but as business men we should not attempt too much at the start. No manufacturer commences in al very large way until he has established a demand for his goods, and has won the confidence of the public. Similarly, the Government should at first encourage those industries which are most likely to prove successful. The increasein our primary production thus brought about will attract more people to our shores. This will lessen the burden of taxation per head of the population, and give opportunities for the establishment of still more industries. But it is not sound business to enter upon any project without considering the exact financial position. The transfer of the Northern Territory is likely to increase the liabilities of the Commonwealth very much, especially if there is a condition attached requiring the construction of railway lines. Then we may be called upon to vote an immense sum for the construction of a line from Kalgoorlie, to Port Augusta, for which we have already authorized a survey. Therefore, it is wise to go slowly. We must walk before wecan run. If we, try to establish fifteen, or twenty industries at the one time, we are almost sure to make mistakes in regard to some of them, and failure in thesematters is disastrous. Let us commence with six or seven industries, and when our efforts in regard to them have been crowned” with success, let us turn our attention te* others. I am sorry that it is not proposed to give a bounty for the production, of iron and steel.
– Such a bounty has always been dealt with in a separate measure.
-I do not see why it should not have been proposed in. this Bill. The supply of iron is the lifeblood of manufacture. So long, as we arenot making our own iron and steel we must be dependent upon the ironmasters of the world, but that dependence should not continue longer than is absolutely necessary. I hope that the Government will either bring that proposal forward in a. separate Bill or incorporate it in this measure. I think honorable members who have taken an interest in this debate will agree that if I were to trespass upon their time at any further length I should merely be repeating arguments which have already been advanced by others. I am one of those who advocate a protective policy, but I distinctly wish honorable members tounderstand that I do not mean that sort of protection which borders upon prohibitive taxation. I have seen the evil resultsof prohibitive taxation both upon the Con,tinent and in America. When people talk about rearing a prohibitive barrier against the outside world they forget that we are a very puny nation, and that we must walk before we can run. At the commencement of our national history, we must, in the very nature of things, depend to a very large extent upon our Customs revenue. When we become a self-contained nation, we shall be in a position to build a prohibitive wall round us if we so desire. I have no desire to adversely criticise the Bill, but I do say that we ought to spend the’ money which it proposes to appropriate upon sound business principles. It is fatuous for us to embark upon twenty industries, when, by concentrating our attention upon four or five, we may be able to make a success of them. Let us proceed cautiously, and endeavour to make a success of a few industries, and then we shall inspire confidence in persons upon the other side of the world to come and settle in our midst. Some honorable members have declared that there is no land available for settlement in Australia, and that land taxation is necessary. I say that in the different States there are millions of acres available for settlement, and that these lands can be purchased cheaply. I wish to see the iron industry established, because I believe it to be of national importance. Later on we may have to build our own Navy. Consequently, we must work for the benefit of the nation as a whole. We must not spend the taxpayers’ money foolishly in attempting to foster the production of many of the articles enumerated in the schedule of this Bill. As one who has some knowledge of the products of the soil, I say that many of the Government proposals do not commend themselves to my judgment, and I would not invest a single sixpence in some of these industries, the establishment of which they seek to encourage. When the measure reaches Committee, I intend to support the items to which I have already referred, and I hope the Government will agree to the exclusion of the remainder.
.- I intend to vote for the second reading of the Bill, reserving to myself the right in Committee to criticise adversely any clauses of which I do not approve. I have been rather amused, during the course of the debate, in listening to the numerous references which have been made to the iron industry. In my opinion that industry occupies a very different position from that occupied by the industries to which reference is made in the schedule of the Bill. Whilst watching the iron ore being treated in the great blast furnace at Lithgow the other day, I was informed by the expert that it averaged 50 per cent. of metal. Nature has endowed Australia with millions of tons of ore of that description. But the articles mentioned in the Bill have not vet been produced in Australia. What is required to establish the iron industry is not the payment of a bounty, but the adoption of a reasonable Tariff. We need to impose a reasonable protective duty upon iron, and when the Tariff is under review I shall be prepared to fight for what is considered reasonable by those who are interested in its production. Some honorable members have urged that this Bill ought not to be proceeded with until after the Tariff has been disposed of. That is the old story. Those who do not approve of a measure invariably advocate its delayed consideration. In my opinion, it would be far better for them to openly oppose it. We hear too much talk about delay, and it is time that we pressed forward with legislation, especially in view of the fact that the Senate is waiting for measures from this Chamber. Several honorable members have advocated expenditure upon the establishment of an Agricultural Department for the diffusion of knowledge. I am satisfied that all of us wish to see production increased. But what I desire to point out is that the proposals which are embodied in this Bill would encourage diversity of production, and that must inevitably lead to the creation of an Agricultural Department under Commonwealth control. This diversity of production is the reason why the Statistical Department in America is such a grand institution. I was considerably amused when I heard honorable members object to the Bill upon the ground that bounties were proposed in respect of too many items. The position presents itself to me in this way : A man will not suddenly abandon wool growing to undertake the cultivation of coffee, and the productions which this measure seeks to foster must necessarily be of a subsidiary character. Many a man, who to-day owns a lot of idle land of a comparatively worthless character, will probably be induced by the bounties which we are offering to attempt to produce certain commodities. In passing, I may mention that for a couple ofyears I lived in New Zealand, which, as honorable members are aware, is known as “ God’s own country.” In travelling through some of the back portions of that dominion, I noticed that the flax mills were very busily engaged, and, upon making inquiries, I ascertained that the flax was grown upon the waste lands and swamps of New Zealand. In my own electorate, there are thousands of acres of this swampy land. It is quite possible that under the Bill persons, whose chief income is now derived from wood growing, may plant flax in this swampy ground, and obtain a very good return from it. I understand that it can be cut about every four years. Themachinery necessary to deal with it is of a fairly complicated character, but, as a subsidiary product, flax would prove a very valuable one in Australia. I am very pleased that the Government have decided to offer a bounty of 20 per cent, upon jute. One of the heaviest charges upon the wool and wheat producers of the Commonwealth is that levied upon jute fabrics. I am also glad that it is proposed to pay a bounty upon the production of combed wool and tops. I remember reading an article not long ago upon the trusts of America. It was written by a free-trader. This gentleman had very little knowledge of the subject upon which he was writing, because he expressed astonishment at the action of America in imposing a heavy duty upon clean wool and a light impost upon greasy wool. He was too short-sighted to see that the object was to encourage the scouring of the wool to be undertaken locally. I am satisfied that the proposed bonus for the production of combed wool and tops will induce the preparation of that article to be undertaken in Australia. I welcome’ every increase in the labour market. To-day, we are all anxious to secure population. We want to see Australia filled with white people. Instead of one or two great industries, such as wool and wheat growing, we desire to see a thousand-and-one industries established - industries which will enable a very large agricultural population to exist here. Unless we have diversity of production, unless we can establish industries which will permit men to make a good living out of 10 acres, as well as out of 10,000 acres, we shall never attract a large population. That is ona of the reasons why honorable members should encourage every effort made by the Government to establish industries based upon proper lines. For nearly twenty years before entering this House, I have carefully studied all social movements and conditions throughout the world. I have taken into consideration what other countries are doing in the direction of developing their industries with a view to assisting similar development in Australia. In Germany, where population is much denser than it is here, it is a singular circumstance that almost every man desires to follow agricultural pursuits. There nearly every man who can secure a small area of land is an agriculturist. I hope the day will soon come when we shall see thousands of men cultivating small areas even in the neighbourhood of our cities and large towns, and I welcome this measure as one that will assist in that direction. We must consider not merely the individual who wishes to launch out upon a big undertaking, but the man who desires to make a small beginning in raw production. I have listened with amusement to the ridiculous badinage on the question of Socialism. On a previous occasion, I referred to mining - a great industry of raw production - and made it clear that I considered the day will not come in our time when it will be necessary to socialize or nationalize speculative mining. I believe also that we shall not see the necessity to nationalize general farming pursuits. Time after time we shall be forced in the days to come to nationalize manufactures in many directions, and also to nationalize our banking system, but there will be no need to nationalize raw production, since the best wheat, the best wool, or the best olive oil, as the case may be, must be produced in order that the best prices may be secured. The farmer cannot adulterate his produce; unlike many manufacturers he cannot palm. off shoddy. F Furthermore, in the readjustment of the methods of industry, which I feel must take place all over the world, we shall have to leave openings for those who donot care to work for a wage. I am one of those who would sooner resort to a primary industry, and take all the risks attendant upon such a calling, than offer my services to another for what I considered an inadequate wage. I look upon the encouragement of a diversity of industries such as is proposed by this Bill as something for which we all can fight. Some honorable members, in dealing with the Bill, take up the selfish attitude that by passing it we shall benefit only a few. If we succeed in building up these industries we shall benefit the whole of the people. Anything that is calculated to assist an important body of men such as those who are struggling to make a living on the soil, must necessarily benefit the rest of the community. In supporting such a measure as this we should refuse to discuss the question of whether it is socialistic, anarchistic, or any other “istic.” We should set aside such considerations, and determine to give an undivided support to measures which, whether socialistic or otherwise, will be for the general welfare of the people.
– I do not wish to occupy the time of the House by making a lengthy speech, but I think it necessary to say that, having regard to the financial position of the State of which I am a representative, I do not feel much like voting for this Bill. I am, nevertheless, a staunch supporter of the Government, which, in the circumstances, I believe is a good one. A bounty, to my mind, is either the father or the child of bribery. If the Government were to expend £530,000 within the next fifteen years in settling people in the Northern Territory, they would do far more to develop the Commonwealth than we should by granting bounties on the products of industries which may flourish, like the green bay tree, while these grants are forthcoming, and die away as soon as they cease. The Government would do well to expend the amount to be appropriated under this Bill in planting white citizens from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, or Germany in the Northern Territory, and I would suggest that it should be allowed to stand over until they have had a further opportunity to determine whether it is expedient to devote so large a sum to the purposes enumerated in the schedule. I should like also to know whether the funds necessary to meet this expenditure are to come out of the general revenue, or to be provided bv loan. I should strongly oppose the floating of a loan.
– This money will come out of revenue.
– Notwithstanding the assurance, I am not prepared to say that I shall , vote for the Bill. I shall wait to see what position the House generally takes up. It would be better for the Government to exercise its governmental powers in placing immigrants on the land, and an expenditure of £530,000 would be sufficient to settle 5,000 families in the Northern Territory. If a man has any brains he does not require much capital to give him a start, and as long as he can hang on to his holding until he gets a bit of a monopoly, he cannot help, ultimately, reaching a position of affluence.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee -
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
There sha.ll be payable out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, the sum of Five hundred and thirty thousand pounds during the period of fifteen years commencing on the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and seven, for the payment of bounties in accordance with this Act.
– This clause provides for an appropriation of revenue, and I very much regret that under the Standing Orders it is impossible for us to propose to eliminate certain items in the schedule, and to substitute others. I do not know if it is possible to overcome the difficulty.
– I know of no means of doing so.
– I am afraid that we have been caught napping. The course I have outlined could have been taken when we were in Committee to consider the message from the GovernorGeneral. Since we have allowed that stage to pass we are in the same position that we should occupy if we were considering the Estimates. In other words, whilst we may delete an item in the schedule, we cannot add to it. It seems to me that such a rule should not apply to a Bill of this description. I can quite understand its application to an express provision relating to the distribution of moneys, but I do not think it should apply when, as under this Bill, an appropriation is incidental to the carrying out of a national policy. I would suggest to the Minister that the clause might very well be postponed until we have dealt with the schedule. It would be idle to agree to the appropriation of £”530,000 under this clause unless we were prepared to agree to the items in the schedule in respect of which that amount is made up. I take it that the Standing Orders would permit us to vary the amounts in the schedule, provided we did not increase the total of the proposed expenditure ; but I think this clause should be postponed until we have had submitted to us the financial proposals of the Government, or at any rate until the Tariff resolutions have been brought down, and we know exactly what is going to be done. I am quite certain that’ the schedule will be materially altered. I protest against this proceeding in the dark, without knowing the whole mind of the Government in regard to the stimulation of industries. However, I can do no more than utter that protest. Every honorable member seems to have a different viewpoint from which he approaches the consideration of this question. AH of us are agreed that we should do our best in various ways to bring new industries into existence, but the question of how that shall be done gives rise to the most diversified opinions. “Under the circumstances, we ought to know exactly what are the proposals of the Government, covering the whole field of industrial enterprise in Australia, before we are asked to appropriate money. Nearly all the various suggestions made come back to the point, which was emphasized at the outset of the debate, as to the need of securing the requisite skill and guidance in the dispensation of the bounties, and in the control of the enterprises to which the bounties are to be applied; but from the Government we hear nothing; I believe “sitting tight” is the phrase ; at any rate, I am bound to say that the Acting Prime Minister is a past master in the art of “ sitting tight “ in his chair, and, to use his own expression, “bullocking” a Bill through. I suppose that it is of no use making any. further appeal to that honorable gentleman to postpone the consideration of this measure until we know what the Tariff proposals are, and we are made acquainted with the financial adjustments foi the year.
– -Will the honorable gentleman give me a reason instead of sitting there and snapping out “ No”? When the Tariff has been dealt with, we may find that some of the items in the schedule are unnecessary. The honorable member for Wimmera spoke last night most eloquently of. the way in which export can be encouraged by means of- duties, and, as I say, it may be that the bounties may be found quite unnecessary in regard to some of the items when the Tariff shall have been revised in the near future - though goodness knows when we may expect to have the Tariff submitted. 1 suppose the Tariff would never come before us if Ministers had their way.
– The honorable member is quite mistaken.
– The cry about “ strangled industries “ seems now to be a mere matter of history. During the election all industries were supposed to be more or less in a state of collapse, but since the election all have been thriving, and now, to use a vulgarism, “ everything in the garden is lovely.” It could not hurt the Government to tell us whether the proposals in the schedule represent the whole of the treatment to be meted out to some of these items ; they would be revealing no secrets, and doing nothing wrong. If the items in the schedule are to receive further treat- - ment under the Tariff, that furnishes a reason for the postponement of the consideration of this Bill until the Tariff shall have been considered. At the least, I hope the Minister will consent to the postponement of this clause until the schedule has been dealt with.
.- As the deputy leader of the Opposition has pointed out, this clause is the kernel of the Bill, and if we pass it we shall certainly have appropriated this large sum of money. The debate on the second reading showed that there is great diversity of opinion as to the manner in which this appropriation should be expended; but the Government must be perfectly well satisfied that there is a majority of honorable members who are prepared to support a reasonable measure having for its object the establishment of successful industries. But it is not right that, at this stage, we should be asked to appropriate this large sum without having first considered the schedule, especially in view of the strong feeling expressed by a large number of honorable members that the allocation of the money should be amended. A number of honorable members are of opinion that the money could be better applied by limiting it to one or two distinct items ; and, under the circumstances, to pass this clause would interfere with the proper ventilation of the question. As I said during the second-reading debate, I am favorable to the general principle of the Bill, and desire to see proper appropriations made in furtherance of the desired object. I suggest to the Minister that he might, without any nf the malicious and highly erroneous suggestions which are attached to any effort that mav be made to secure the postponement of this measure, consent to delay its consideration until we have before us sufficient knowledge of our financial position. I do not, however, attach so much importance to that point as does the honorable member for Parramatta, because the annual appropriation can be readily and easily made up. At any rate, it is not right- that we should be asked to appropriate this large sum of money when, as I hope may be the case, several of the items in the schedule mav be eliminated. I concur with the honorable member for Parramatta in the protest he has made. Honorable members on this side desire to help the Minister to put the Bill into a reasonable and proper shape. If the honorable member for Parramatta is not prepared to take the responsibility of moving the postponement of this clause I shall do so. I move -
That clause 2 be postponed until after the consideration of the schedule.
– I am justified, 1 think, in asking the Committee to proceed with the consideration of the clause, though several reasons have been advanced why there should be a postponement. First, it is said that the further consideration of the Bill should be postponed until after the consideration of the Tariff ; next, that it should be postponed until we have the Government’s entire financial proposals before us; next, that it should be postponed until we have a Department of Agriculture ; and fourthly, certain honorablemembers - one or two of whom, I believe, are strong protectionists, and have so announced themselves - are of opinion that many of the items in the schedule should be eliminated and the total amount reduced. In the first place, I say that the measure is distinct and complete in itself. With the full responsibility that rests on them, the Government ask the Committee, as was done last year, to appropriate a sum of money, tovery nearly the same amount as then, for the purpose of establishing certain industries. With their knowledge of the financial position of the Commonwealth, the Government submit this clause and ask the Committee to accept it. Last year a similar Bill was before us, and although very considerable appropriations were proposed to be passed, it was not then urged that it was necessary to first consider the financial position of the Commonwealth as a whole.
– When was the Bill introduced last session ?
– It was after the Budget debate had commenced.
– Of course it was.
– And that makes all the difference.
– It makes no difference whatever. It may make a great deal of difference to those who are against the Bill.
– I am not againstthe Bill.
– Does the Minister consider that a fair argument?
– Do not misunderstand me. I believe in giving credit to every man for independence of judgment, and I know that there are honorable members in the Opposition corner who are not against the granting of bounties.
– There are other members of the Opposition, besides those in the corner, who are not against bounties.
– That is so; but there are honorable members who are against bonuses and bounties of any description.
– Not in the Ministerial corner.
– I am glad to understand that a majority of honorable members are in favour of bounties. At the same time, I can quite understand honorable members who are absolutely against bounties asking for a postponement, because they do not desire the Bill to be proceeded with.
– The position of such honorable members is logical.
– How many are there absolutely against bounties ?
– Does the honorable member say that the Committee are unanimous in support of bounties ? If so, I am satisfied.
– Honorable members are not unanimous as to bounties.
– There is the answer from the Opposition. Other honorable members are against proceeding with the Bill until the Tariff has been submitted; but some who take up that attitude desire to deal with the Tariff in order to give relief to industries at the earliest possible date. Those who are protectionists know that the granting of bounties for the encouragement of industries is as important as is the imposition of protective duties.
– We do not believe in wasting public money.
– The Government is as eager as any honorable member can be to conserve the public funds. It is necessary that this measure should come into operation as quickly as possible, yet some honorable members desire to postpone its consideration. It is true that the honorable member for Kooyong asks only for the postponement of the consideration of the clause; but the deputy leader of the Opposition has asked for the postponement of the Bill for a considerable time. Those who are desirous of encouraging land settlement wish to bring the Bill into operation as soon as possible, because, if it is passed into law, many persons will be prepared to take advantage of it immediately.
For instance, the season for planting cotton in Queensland commences in September and October, and, if the Bill became law within a few weeks, many persons would be induced by its provisions to undertake the cultivation of cotton in that State. The same remarks apply to other industries. Therefore to postpone the consideration of the Bill altogether would be to do a wrong to those who are ready to take advantage of its provisions. The honorable member contended that ‘we should not take action for the granting of bounties until after the establishment of a Commonwealth Department of Agriculture. I agree with him that such a Department is necessary, and in 1901, when first elected to the House, advocated its establishment. I have never wavered in the view that a Commonwealth institution of that kind is required.
– The honorable and learned member has had the opportunity to carry his view into effect, but has not done so.
– It will probably be carried into effect before the deputy leader of the Opposition relinquishes his present position. Most of the measures which I have advocated on the public platform have found their way into the statute-book. But have honorable members considered how long it would take to establish a Commonwealth Department of Agriculture? We must first pass a Bill providing for its establishment, and them appropriate money for the purpose. At the same time a scheme of administration must be careful ly thought out and formulated. The establishment of a Commonwealth Meteorological Department, which was pressed forward with the utmost expedition, occupied eighteen months, and it would take at least as long to bring into existence a Commonwealth Department of Agriculture. After its establishment we are to have - so members of the Opposition suggest - conferences of experts from the State Agricultural Departments, to which our proposals must be suhmitted. If this course were taken, our bounty system would probably not come into operation before 1910 or1911. Are those who are desirous of increasing land settlement and promoting immigration willing to wait three or four years before taking steps for the encouragement of primary production ?
– How long will it be before the provisions of the Bill can come into operation?
– They will come into operation immediately. Even if we waited for the establishment of a Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, the steps to be taken subsequently would be those which we have already taken. Our proposals have already received the fullest consideration of State experts. Therefore, to urge the postponement of the Bill is futile. The motion of the honorable member for Kooyong is for the postponement of the clause, and I am ready to meet him in this way. Let the Committee pass the clause as it stands, and, if necessary, after the schedule has been dealt with, I will recommit it to bring the two into harmony.
– The honorable and learned member ought to have said that at the beginning.
.- After the promise which the Minister has given, I ask leave to withdraw my motion. Most of what he had to say had no relevancy to it. What we who asked for the postponement of the clause desire, is that the large sum of money mentioned in it shall not be appropriated until the views of the Committee have been expressed in regard to the schedule.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
– Do I understand that the Minister has promised to recommit the clause in the event of the schedule being altered?
– To recommit it at the request of any honorable member?
– I shall be compelled to recommit the clause if the schedule is altered ; but if the schedule is not altered, it will be unnecessary to recommit the clause.
.- The Minister has cutely given away nothing, and the honorable member for Kooyong has expressed his satisfaction at receiving it. If the schedule is altered, the Government will be compelled to recommit the clause so that the two may harmonize.
– I should like to know from the Minister how the £530,000 asked for will be obtained, if the alteration of the Tariff results in decreasing our Customs revenue? At the present time, there is a considerable surplus which is divided among the States, perhaps as a kind of sop to make them satisfied with the Union.
– It is a just, constitutional payment to them.
– I understand that the Commonwealth Government is entitled to retain one-fourth of the Customs revenue. How will the money necessary for the payment of the proposed bounties be obtained if the revision of the Tariff reduces our Customs returns very largely ?
– - I cannot tell the honorable member how the Tariff will affect the revenue; but Ministers are satisfied that we shall have enough to pay the proposed bounties.
– What was the estimate of revenue for the current year?
– It was much below the actual receipts, and we have handed back to the States a much larger sum than was anticipated.
– Nearly £1,000,000 more.
– Under the Constitution the surplus balances must be returned to the States monthly. Of course the Commonwealth possesses the power to appropriate” for its own purposes one-fourth of the Customs and Excise revenue which is collected. But the point I wish to make is that we have handed back to the States far more than was anticipated. Even if we had appropriated for our own use more money than we have appropriated, there would still have been a surplus balance returnable to the States. If this Bill had been passed last year, we should have had ample money with which to pay the proposed bounties, in addition to which there would have been a surplus payable to the States.
.- I am rather pleased with the assurance that has just been given us bv the AttorneyGeneral. Having listened to the conflicting views that have been expressed during this debate, I entertain considerable doubt as to the attitude which I ought to adopt on the present occasion. Of course I am very desirous of rendering the Government assistance wherever I can conscientiously do so. But it seems to me that there are certain articles which might with advantage be substituted for some of those specified in the schedule to this Bill. I should be very pleased to support a proposal to grant a bonus to place the iron industry upon a sound foundation. But in view of our probable expenditure in the near future, we ought to proceed cautiously in the matter of granting bounties for the production of so many commodities. I believe that in the immediate future we shall find it necessary to sanction the payment of a bounty to foster the establishment of the iron industry.
– It is already established.
– lt is established upon such a basis that the gentleman who is most interested in it is firmly of opinion that it cannot continue to exist unless some assistance be rendered to it by the State, either in the form of a bounty or of a protective duty. I aim! prepared, as an extreme measure, to vote for either alternative, but for choice I prefer to offer the industry a bounty. Having regard to the fact that there will be a considerable expenditure under this heading, we ought to “go slow.” We must recollect that the proposal to establish penny postage throughout Australia, if adopted, will result in a considerable loss of revenue. The administration of the Quarantine Bill will still further deplete our financial resources.
– The Attorney-General says that under it the Quarantine Department will not cost the people of Australia any more than it does now.
– It may not cost the people of Australia any more. I do not know whether it will or not. I believe that the Commonwealth should exercise a certain amount of control over quarantine matters, and I am convinced that the passing of the Quarantine Bill will have the effect of increasing Federal expenditure.
– Do not forget that the Government favour the establishment of a Federal system of old-age pensions.
– Whilst we are entertaining these proposals, we have a Government in power which still informs the people that it intends to initiate a system of old-age pensions.
– Do not forget the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway.
– The Bill relating to the survey of that line involves an expenditure which is infinitesimal as compared with other proposals which only excite about one-tenth of the anxiety occasioned by that’ measure. I must be furnished with more information regarding some of the proposals contained in this Bill before I shall be prepared to vote for them. The Attorney-General has indicated that that information will be forthcoming.
.- I think that we have arrived at an extraordinary position in this Chamber. The AttorneyGeneral is apparently anxious to assume all the responsibility connected with the gassing of this Bill, and wishes the House to assume none. He has told us that he has his back to the wall and is ready to accept all responsibility. At the moment when he made that amazing statement, I noticed that he was the only Minister present, and that he was backed up by the Government whip and one Ministerial supporter.
– The honorable member did not dare to go to a division?
– The Minister, while valiantly expressing his readiness to assume full responsibility for the measure, and looking anxiously into the corner for support, appeared to think that this House has no responsibility whatever. When the honorable member for Kalgoorlie asked where the funds were to come from with which to pay these bounties, the Attorney-General replied that that was the concern of the Treasurer. Honorable members will observe that the Treasurer is conspicuous by his absence. Of course I do not blame him if honorable members choose to permit him to act in that way. But I submit that this Chamber is the guardian of the public purse, and not the Ministry, which commands a following of about eight members. Surely honorable members are acting falsely to themselves if they allow the Attorney-General to rise in his place and bluff them. Before this clause is passed, we ought to know what will be the Commonwealth’s financial position under the new Tariff. It also seems to me that the expenditure which we are asked to authorize may not be necessary, if the schedule of the Bill is amended.
– The great probability is that we shall require to sanction the expenditure of more money.
– And on the contrary, we may require less. If we adopt the course which has been suggested, I think that we shall obviate any trouble arising at this stage, and shall expedite the course of public business.
– I think that the suggestion of the AttorneyGeneral to recommit this clause when the Committee have had an opportunity of dealing with the items specified in the schedule of the Bill, is one which will meet all the difficulties of the case. The honor able and learned gentleman made a speech in which the vehemence of his manner indicated that he was conscious of the weakness of his position in regard to many points.
– Is that what the lawyers do?
– The AttorneyGeneral was left in the Chamber to defend the Ministerial post, and he has done so very gallantly. But now that the Acting Prime Minister has returned, I desireto put to him a very simple question - “ Does he intend to insist upon these large financial proposals being taken out of thecontrol of the House before honorable members are afforded an opportunity of dealing with the general financial question ?
– Yes, we intend to go right through with the Bill.
– Then the Government are entering upon a course which, if followed in other cases, must inevitably lead to financial disaster. This House has a right to exercise its power of controlling the finances of the Commonwealth, and the Acting Prime Minister is not treating honorable members fairly. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has referred’ to several proposals which will involve an expenditure as to which we are entirely in the dark. One honorable member, who occupies a seat in the other corner of the Chamber, challenged the Attorney-General to state what the financial position really was. Of course we have no right to expect from the Attorney-General anythinglike a statement of the finances of the Commonwealth. He is not charged with that duty. But the statement which he has made shows upon what an absolute farce we are engaged when we attempt to deal with a huge financial transaction in the absence of necessary information.
– I am sorry to say that I think the honorable and learned member is right.
– I am always glad to find myself in agreement with the honorable member.
– I begin to doubt thesoundness of my position when I am in accord with the views expressed by the honorable and learned member.
– Let us be united when we can. I have seen quite enough of the practical effect of forcing financial proposals on the attention of a House without giving honorable members an opportunity to consider them, as they are entitled to do, in the light of the general finances. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has referred to two or three items of expenditure which must inevitably fall upon the Commonwealth. Reference has been made by him to the very large expenditure proposed to be incurred in respect of a Federal system of old-age pensions, and, when speaking the other evening, I alluded to several other items of expenditure which we have to face. Honorable members of the Labour Party, who support the Ministry, are much less concerned than we are with regard to the financial proposals of the Government, since they are prepared to accept direct taxation as an aid to the revenue already derived.
– The honorable member is quite right as to that.
– I think that I am expressing the view of most honorable members on this side of the House, as well as of some of the supporters of the Government, when I say we are not prepared to accept direct taxation in aid of the revenue of the Commonwealth. Is it conceivable that, if we proceed with the various proposals suggested from all sides of the House and also reduce our Customs and Excise revenue by granting an increase of effective protection - an increase to which this House will probably agree - we shall be able, without direct taxation, to keep the finances of the Commonwealth in a satisfactory position? Even assuming that it is, we are entitled at this stage to have a statement from the Treasurer. If the Government have not arrived at any conclusion as to the balance of the finances with which we are about to deal, are they not adopting, not merely a haphazard, but an utterly reckless and dangerous procedure in asking the Committee to agree to this large expenditure? I have asked the Acting Prime Minister whether he is going to force this House, which exercises financial control, to allow this financial measure to pass out of its hands before it has an opportunity to arrive at some estimate of the general finances of the Commonwealth. I understand the honorable gentleman to say that he does intend to do so, and therefore I join in the protests that have been made. I protest in language as forcible as I can employ against what is an utterly irresponsible method of conducting the finances of the Commonwealth.
– One would imagine, after listening to the mischievous statements of the honorable and learned member for Flinders-
– Mischievous ?
– Certainly. One would imagine from his statement that the Commonwealth was not prepared to incur an expenditure of £70,000 or £80,000 per annum-
– What is £70,000 or £80,000 ?
– I wish the honorable member would allow me to proceed. The honorable and learned member for Flinders doubtless desires to prevent the passing of any legislation of this character until the Tariff Has been submitted. If that be so, his object is to prevent our doing any work of an important character until the Tariff has been dealt with. Some time will probably be occupied in the consideration of the Tariff resolutions.
– I have not said anything about the Tariff. I spoke about the financial proposals of the Government.
– The honorable and learned member said that if we made the Tariff more effective from the standpoint of protection we should suffer a loss of revenue.
– The honorable gentleman knows perfectly well that the Tariff proposals will be - or at all events ought to be - submitted as part of the general scheme of the finances of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable and learned member is not yet at the head of the Government of the Commonwealth.
– Unluckily the honorable member for Hume is.
– That is only the opinion of the honorable member. Surely the Government may be allowed to take the responsibility of a measure of this kind, which is the first that has been submitted to assist the producers of Australia. It is remarkable that honorable members sitting in the Opposition corner who were returned to support a protective policy, should be seeking at the first opportunity to raise this bogy. They show a woeful lack of consistency in taking up such an attitude. Nohonorable member has had the temerity to say straight out that he has turned his coat and “ jumped Jim Crow.”
– No honorable member in the Opposition corner has done so.
– It seems to me that one or two honorable members turned their coats in order to secure their return.
– The honorable gentleman may think what he pleases.
– If the cap fits, the honorable and learned member may wear it. I have here reports of speeches which he made before he sought election to this House, and I find that they are not consistent with speeches made by him since then. Judging by his attitude in dealing with a measure designed to benefit the producers of Australia, one is inclined to believe that he intends to adhere to some of the principles expressed in his earlier speeches, and not to those to which he has more recently given utterance.
– Cannot the Minister deal with the honorable and learned member’s argument ?
– There has been no argument. A Government that is not prepared to accept the responsibility for a measure of this kind, which involves a comparatively small annual expenditure for a great Commonwealth, is not fit to hold office. If it is not prepared to accept the responsibility for submitting such a proposal before the Budget statement is delivered, and when it knows practically, although not absolutely, what the nature of that statement will be, it certainlv is not fit to remain in possession of the Treasury benches. It will be time enough for the Opposition to complain when theFinancial Statement is submitted and it shows that we have acted improperly. It is idle to attempt to delay the passing of this Bill on the ground that the House should have a statement of the financial position of the Commonwealth before it sends it on to another place. I cannot say exactly when the Treasurer will be able to . submit his Financial Statement. The honorable and learned member for Flinders, therefore, is simply playing with this question, and injuring those whom his party were returned to assist.
– Can the honorable gentleman give us an outline of the financial position?
– If I were able to do so-
– The honorable member would not.
– That is so. No one knows better than does the honorable and learned member himself that he is talking nonsense when he suggests that I should usurp the position of the Treasurer by giving the Committee an outline of the financial situation. It is simply absurd that such a request should have been made, either to me or to the Attorney-General, and it was for that reason that I referred just now to the honorable and learned member’s speech as being a mischievous one. I understand that the leader of the party in the Opposition corner has not said anything.
– We have had quite enough nonsensical talk on the part of the Minister, and I hold that he has no right to make such a stupid, senseless remark.
– I am sorry if I have made a mistake, but I remember that, as the result of an interjection made by the honorable member for Maranoa, the honorable member for Kooyong made a speech in which he assumed the position of leader of the Opposition corner party.
– The honorable gentleman is making an absolutely incorrect statement. 1 said on the occasion in question that I spoke on behalf of members in the Opposition corner.
– I am glad that the honorable member has announced that he is not the leader of the Opposition corner party. This, however, is only by the way. The Minister in charge of the Bill has asked the Committee to proceed with its consideration, and some of the items in the schedule may be amended. The question of whether they should be altered is a matter which the Committee in its wisdom must determine. In the event of the amount set apart for any of the items in the schedule being reduced, this clause, which provides for an appropriation, will be recommitted, so that it can be made to harmonize with the schedule.
– Will the honorable gentleman say whether the Government are satisfied that the financial position will be sound in the event of our passing this Bill as well as the Postal Rates Bill, and the other measures on the business paper?
-I have not made an estimate, but I can assure the honorable member - and I think he will accept my word - that the Government will not give its adherence to any appropriation unless thev know that the Commonwealth will be able to meet its engagements.
– Will the honorable gentleman give us an estimate ?
– I am not going to do anything of the kind. The Government will not make any proposal unless they can provide the funds necessary to give effect to it. It is unfair and unreasonable that honorable members should imagine that we are likely to do otherwise. I can well understand the insinuation made by the honorable and learned member for Flinders that certain honorable members are in favour of direct land taxation.
– Insinuation? I said straight out that some honorable members were in favour of direct taxation.
– I am in favour of land taxation. That was one of the planks in the platform upon which I was elected.
– Perhaps that is why the honorable member is so reckless in regard to the amount of money that we spend ?
– I am not so reckless as the honorable member is in the statements that he makes. Although I am in favour of direct taxation, I am not attempting to force the position - I shall not take any step in that direction until the House knows what is going to be done. The object of the Government in asking honorable members to agree to this Bill is certainly not to force direct taxation upon the people, and the amount of the appropriation is comparatively small having regard to the total revenue of the Commonwealth.
.I am not an enemy of the Bill, or of the bounty system, but I am amazed that an honorable member charged with the administration of the affairs of the Commonwealth should be prepared to deliver such a speech as that which we have just had from the Acting Prime Minister. In answer to an interjection by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, he admitted that, although he had brought down a measure providing for an appropriation of £530,000, he had not made an estimate of the expenditure and revenue of the Commonwealth. When we are dealing with money which belongs to the people of Australia, we ought to adopt ordinary business methods. Every man in business, when entering into an enterprise of the magnitude of that submitted to us, sits down and calculates every shilling that it may be necessary to expend ; and, if that be the course adopted in private affairs, how much more careful should we be when dealing with the public finances? The Minister has shown himself utterly incapable, and, if he is representing the Government at this moment, he has shown that the Government are utterly incapable of administering the affairs of the country. The attempt of the Government to assist the producing interest is a commendable one, which ought to be encouraged in every way, but, at the same time, we must, in the interests of the people, first ascertain that we have the money to spend.
– This is blocking business.
– It is not; in any case, the Government do not care one jot how long this Bill remains before the House, in order that it may block business. We were promised that the Tariff proposals would be submitted immediately on the return of the Minister of Trade and Customs from Great Britain; but they were not ready, and the Bounties Bill and other measures are introduced simply in order that we may mark time. We have been marking time ever since the session opened, and the order has gone forth that we shall continue to do so until the Tariff proposals are ready.
– Is that why the honorable member supports this proposal for postponement ?
– On this side of the House there is no desire to delay public business for one moment, or to interfere in any way with the submission of the Tariff proposals. I am certain that honorable members in this corner, and on all sides of the House, will give every assistance to the Government to dispose of the Tariff. In reply to the honorable member for Bourke, I point out that the honorable member for Kooyong, in asking for a postponement, was simply acting on those ordinary business principles which in private life have led to his success and that of other men in the community. I hope that the Acting Prime Minister, the Treasurer, and the AttorneyGeneral will regard this Bill as a serious business proposal, and allow us, who are responsible for the appropriation of the money, to know, in detail, as far as possible, what money we have to spend.
– On referring to Hansard of last year, I find that the Bounties Bill was introduced immediately after the Budget ; and that, I think, was a good order of procedure. Immediately after the Treasurer had delivered his Budget speech, the second reading of the Bounties Bill was moved ; and 1 cannot see why that order of procedure should be reversed this year. There is an additional reason why the Bounties Bill should follow the Budget. A month or six weeks ago, the Treasurer, speaking in Queensland, expressed sympathy with the suggestion there made that, instead of bounties being granted on sugar, increased direct protection should be given to the industry. In other words, the proposal was that the bounty and the excise should be abolished, and the prohibitive duties of £6 on cane and £10 on beet sugar should be preserved. If that suggestion were acted upon, there would be a gap in the revenue to the extent of at least £450,000. Last year the revenue was £608,000, from which had to be deducted the bounty under the new system, which was commenced on the1st January this year; and if, as seems probable, the Treasurer in his Budget speech proposes to abolish the bounty and Excise, while retaining the import duties, there must be a deficiency to the amount I have stated. A few years ago, the revenue from sugar was £780,000, but we have paid , £730,000 in bounties up to June this year. I do not know on what grounds the Treasurer has reversed the order of procedure. Perhaps he intends that the protection shall not be quite so stiff as people think, and does not mind anticipating his revenue, and forcing his own hand in the direction of moderation. If that is not his intention, the present course seems a most fatuous one to follow, in view of the policy indicated by the Prime Minister on the hustings, and foreshadowed by the reports of the Tariff Commission, which would mean a shrinkage in the revenue. I do not attach much importance to the postponement of the clause, because under it no more money can be spent than is justified by the schedule. The Minister of Trade and Customs has told us that we may pass the clause if we like, but that he will not spend the money if he has not got it. However, if the Bill be passed the Minister will be bound by law to spend the money, and will have to get it from somewhere.
– I am tired of hearing gentlemen like the honorable member for Corangamite declaring that they are anxious to help the producer, and, when the opportunity presents itself, raising all sorts of objections. I do not represent a producing constituency, but I am anxious to help the producers. For various reasons, I do not like bounties ; and if I could find a better method, supported by a majority of honorable members, I should be glad to vote against the Bill. It is high time to do something for the producers, and the Bill is the only method proposed by the Government, or by any other section of Parliament. If I thought there was any difficulty about finding the money necessary to meet the requirements of the Bill, I would be opposed to it ; but when I look at the finances of. ‘ the Commonwealth since the inauguration of Federation, I can see; that there is still a large margin after the comparatively small expenditure proposed by the Bill. We cannot establish industries without encouraging immigration, and thus largely increasing the number of taxpayers, and, of course, the revenue. If industries are not established, then, of course, this money will not be spent; but if they are established the wealth of the country must be increased. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie pointed out that the Government have in view schemes, such as penny postage, which will entail a large expenditure. Well, I am not prepared to vote for penny postage, which will not help the producer or the poorer people of the community, but will be advantageous to only the commercial classes and others who have already been given so much assistance in connexion with the cheapening of telegrams. The Bounties Bill, if it does any good at all, will be productive of wealth ; but it would be hard to convince me that the spending of £300,000. which represents the probable cost of penny postage, will in any way add to the material prosperity of the country. I should be strongly opposed to a bonus for the iron industry, and I should be opposed to the granting of bounties under this Bill were it not for the fact that it will take a good many years to establish some of the industries represented by the items in the schedule. If we were to impose duties instead of granting bounties, we should only be penalizing the consumers of the country for some years to come bv removing competition.
– Lend the producers money.
-I should be prepared to do that and I hope that one of the Government’s schemes in the near future will be the establishment of a Commonwealth Bank, which will make such advances part of its business. So far as I can see, there is no danger whatever of our not having the necessary revenue to carry out the objects of the Bounties Bill. First we have to ask ourselves whether we are earnest in our desire to help the producers ; and if we are, we must then make up our minds as to the best way in which to give that help. The Government tell us that the Bill represents the best scheme they can devise,, and, in the absence of a better, we should pass it, taking our chance as to the necessary funds. But if we really wish to assist the producers we must give them more than bounties - we must give them cheap land, and this ought to be done in the near future. I should not be afraid of expending much; larger sums than that proposed by the Bill in order to help the producers. For these reasons, I hope there will be no more delay, unless the proposed postponement is supported by sounder arguments than I have vet heard.
.- The honorable and learned member for Flinders travelled beyond the question immediately before the Chair, and dealt with the general question of legislation, complaining of the clumsy way in which the Government had introduced this Bill. In that complaint, I think the honorable and learned member was justified . and the position only shows that the first work of the session should be the Budget, when the Government, through the Treasurer, would take the responsibility for the financial proposals of the year. Although the honorable and learned member was justified ‘ in criticising the conduct of business by the Government, I scarcely think his remarks constitute an argument against bounties, or in favour of the postponement of the clause.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7-45- p.m.
– The contention of the honorable and learned member . for Flinders, that a Bill involving so large an expenditure as this does should be preceded by a financial statement, applies also to the Postal Rates Bill, and all measures involving the outlay of large sums of public money. To meet his objection, it would be necessary for the Government to have .its Budget Speech delivered as early as possible in the session. The point . taken by the honorable and learned member, although urged by him as a reason for postponement, is really good ground for a motion of censure, because of the slovenly manner in which Ministers are doing their work. But we know that the Government is sure of its numbers. The passing of the Supply Bill last week showed that it possesses the confidence of Parliament. Therefore, it would be enough for the Acting Prime Minister to say that, things have occurred which make it impossible to present a statement of the finances forthwith, but the Treasurer will be ready to do so within a few weeks. If I voted for the postponement of the clause,, it would be merely because I am altogether opposed to the granting of bounties. If the taxpayers are to be levied on to provide £530,000 for bounties, I think that themoney should be used for the encouragement of industries other than those enumerated in the schedule. Four bounty Bills, have been before the three Commonwealth, Parliaments, two of them being called1. Manufactures Encouragement Bills. On. each occasion, the Minister of Trade and’ Customs has told us that the Bill then before Parliament would become law, and although the prospects of this Bill may be slightly better, he has hitherto proved himself a bad prophet. The original intention” was to encourage the establishment of theiron industry. That has been advocated’, by most of the members of the Government, though no sum is allocated for thepurpose in this Bill.
– Is the honorable member.in favour of such a bounty?
– I am opposed to thebounty system ; but if money is to be spent in the payment of bounties, I should like to see it applied to the encouragement of!’ those industries by whose establishment the.country will most benefit. The Bill pro- vides for ‘ a bounty on the production of “ such things as rice, jute, and dates, which are produced elsewhere with poorly-paid ‘ labour - black labour, dago labour, or the - labour of the inhabitants of the Levant. The Attorney-General has told us that he - hopes by the encouragement of these productions to attract immigration. Some of ‘ the members of the Labour Party are opposed to efforts being made to attract immigration until our own artisans have all ‘ obtained employment. ‘ But if the proposal which I am about to make be carried into effect, employment will be given, not only to a large number of our own artisans who are now without work, but to men of our’ own flesh and blood, who will be attracted ‘ here from England, Scotland, and America. If we devote £330,000 to the encouragement of the iron industry, we shall attract to our shores immigrants of the right class. My proposition is that the sum devoted to the payment of bounties be reduced from £530,000 to £430,000, and that of this amount £330,000 be paid for the encouragement of the iron industry, and £100,000 for the encouragement of the ship-building industry, which, like the iron industry, will employ artisans of the best class. The ship-building industry is subsidiary to the iron industry, and will create a demand for the iron and steel that is made. I therefore move -
That the word “ Five,” line 3 , be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ Four.”
I speak quite openly, as one who is opposed to the adoption of the bounty system. Now that honorable members have declared themselves in favour of that system, I do not intend to see this huge expenditure authorized without a protest, especially when I know that the effect of such action will probably be to deprive the iron and ship-building industries of very much needed assistance. This afternoon, the AttorneyGeneral was very quick in making a bogus concession to the honorable member for Kooyong. He promised, in the eventof the schedule being amended, to recommit this clause- a course which he would have been compelled to adopt under any circumstances. He is not so ready, however, to answer a simple question which I intend to put to him. I wish to ask him whether the Government propose to make provision in their Budget proposals for the granting of a bounty to the iron industry. The Attorney-General has declared that the Ministry believe in a protective policy, coupled’ with the bounty system. I wish to ascertain the extent of their belief. Is it confined to the articles which are specified in the schedule of this Bill ? I am not a free-trader now-
– The honorable member is not a free-trader?
– It is of no use being a free-trader. When a man has to take a plunge, the sooner he takes it the better. In this connexion, I am reminded of a little boy standing upon the bank of a river watching other boys disporting themselves in the water. They are enjoying its exhilarating effects, and,- by the time he makes up his mind to emulate their example, he generally has the misfortune to fall upon an oyster shell and cut his feet. Practically all sections of the House intend to support the bounty system. But we are fighting over the second clause of the Bill.
– Is not that the proper clause to fight?
– Only last week, the honorable member for Franklin and the honorable member for Flinders assisted to grant the Government Supply to the extent of £400,000, thus showing that they had confidence in them.
– Supply was granted to enable them to discharge their obligations.
– If honorable members are opposed to the bounty system, let them fight it in a straightforward way. If not, let them insist upon the Government expending the money appropriated under this Bill in an attempt to assist industries which are likely to prove of a substantial character.
– I hope that the honorable member will not move his amendment now, because it will have the effect of preventing discussion.
– The honorable member has a margin of nine words upon which to operate, so that he can easily “ blanket “ me if he so desires. The proper wav of dealing with this clause is to declare that the bounty of £430,000 shall be applied to a specific purpose. To my mind, the sooner that a vote of no-confidence in the present Government is submitted the better. They are constantly backing and filling, and it is about time that the position of parties in this House was clearly defined. During the last two Parliaments, both the Attorney-General and the Acting Prime Minister have made several speeches in support of a proposal to grant a bonus to the iron industry. If I had a copy of Hansard ready to my hand I could convict them out of their own mouths of the folly of asking for bounties to encourage the production of the articles specified in this Bill. We are all aware that for years past the Age newspaper - the powerful Government organ - has been thundering away about the need which exists for establishing the iron industry. If the Government will give an assurance that they intend to propose that a bounty shall be granted to the iron industry I shall feel inclined to withdraw my amendment, but not otherwise.
.- Upon the question of granting bounties to encourage the establishment of industries I imagine that we are really beginning at the wrong end. It was very refreshing to listen to the strong arguments with which the honorable member for Dalley urged that bounties should be granted to the iron and ship-building industries. There is no doubt that a wise man changes his opinions, but a fool never. I credit the honorable member for Dalley with the possession of wisdom which he has successfully concealed for a long time.
– I think that I know when to put up my umbrella.
– We welcome the honorable member as a convert to the protectionist cause. I believe that a number of other honorable members upon the Opposition side of the Chamber are beginning to see the light. But when we are asked to authorize the expenditure of such a large sum of money as this Bill involves, I think that we should look around with a view to ascertain what demands are likely to be made upon us during the next four or live years. It is very easy for us to pass Bills involving an expenditure of £400,000 or £500,000, without having any regard to the financial necessities of the Commonwealth in years to come. But when we come to realize the magnitude of the sum involved in the Government proposals we ought to hesitate before giving our assent to a Bill of this character. I ask honorable members to reflect upon the loss of revenue which the adoption of penny postage will involve.
– Probably we shall not be given that information.
– Under cover of this Bill we are asked to vote £500,000 of the revenue of the Commonwealth for a specific purpose. I say that it is our duty to have regard to our liabilities in the immediate future. The Bill relating to penny postage will, if carried, deplete our revenue to the extent of £250,000 annually. Other measures which must necessarily involve a large expenditure also figure on the business paper. One of these is the Quarantine Bill, while the taking over of ocean lights and beacons will materially increase the expenditure of the Commonwealth.
– And that is an urgent matter.
– It is. Many honorable members desire the early establishment of a Federal system of old-age pensions, and before voting for such a measure as this we are justified in asking ourselves whether, in the event of its becoming law, the Commonwealth will have at its disposal the funds necessary to carry out what we consider are urgent reforms. The Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill authorizes an expenditure of £20,000, whilst we shall be confronted with a big financial problem if we decide to take over the Northern Territory. We should not agree to the payment of bounties to encourage new industries unless we are tolerably certain that they can be successfully established here. Many of the items in the schedule in my opinion ought to be omitted. For instance, I do not think that we should grant a bounty for the cultivation of rice or coffee, whilst it is questionable whether we could successfully produce hemp or rubber in Australia. When we reach the schedule, I shall endeavour to secure the elimination of some of the items for which, in my opinion, there is no justification; The object which the honorable member for Dalley has in view in moving the amendment is a laudable one, but the proposal which he makes is too large a one to be dealt with in connexion with such a measure as this. Within the last week some of us have seen what is being done towards the establishment of the iron industry in New South Wales. Private enterprise has proved that the iron ores of New South Wales are such as to enable better iron and steel to be produced there than is obtainable from England. We have, therefore, some reason for proposing to encourage such an industry. I do not think, however, that it should be assisted at the present time by means of a bounty. The imposition of a protective duty would be more effective, and for that reason I am not prepared to vote for the amendment. Whilst I do not approve of the clause as it stands, I am not in a position to say to what extent the proposed appropriation should be reduced. We should deal first of all with the schedule, and, therefore, I think the clause should be postponed.
– I have already promised that if necessary I will ask that the clause be recommitted.
– We are merely quibbling over terms. There is practically no difference between postponing a clause and recommitting it. On the clause being recommitted, we could debate it just as we should be able to do if it were postponed, and subsequently brought up for considera- tion. I repeat that the clause should be postponed until we have dealt with the schedule.. If the Attorney-General will agree to that, I shall have no more to say.
– I have already said that I will, if necessary, recommit the clause. That statement has been accepted by the Committee, and an amendment has been withdrawn.
– We adopted the same course when the Bounties Bill was under consideration last session.
– I am prepared to accept the Minister’s assurance, and when we come to the schedule I shall propose whatever omissions I think are necessary in order to make the Bill a practical one. We should eliminate from the schedule items which are calculated to bring ridicule on the Parliament, or merely to enrich one or two individuals without doing any good to the country. If we grant a bounty in respect of an industry that is likely to be discontinued as soon as the payments cease, we shall have nothing but dissatisfaction on the part of the people. We ought not to endeavour to establish industries which cannot be developed under the conditions that we think ought to obtain in Australia. I am satisfied that the Committee generally is in favour of the policy of a White Australia. Scarcely one honorable member would be prepared to declare himself in favour of a coloured Australia.
– Some honorable members would.
– I do not think that any honorable members during the election campaign spoke in favour of a coloured Australia, and it is when men are on the hustings that we ascertain their honest convictions.
– Not always.
– The honorable member has so broad a knowledge of human nature that I shall not quarrel with him on that, point. I am sure that the Committee is not in favour of the introduction of alien labour for the development of any industry. That being so, is it not unwise to propose to grant bounties for the assistance of industries which, according to the reports of experts now before us, can br developed only by means of cheap labour ? To do so_ would be to attempt something that would be detrimental to the policy of a White Australia. I do not think that coffee can be grown by white labour in Australia.
– It has been grown at Kuranda for the last ten years.
– What authority has the honorable member for Gwydir for such a statement ?
– I base it on the reports of experts which have been submitted to us. I have visited the Northern Territory, where enterprising and courageous men have been attempting’ to develop tropical industries.
– And where excellent coffee is being grown.
– I know that beautiful coffee can be produced there. I saw the place on which the coffee had been grown - the holes in which the trees had stood, together with the fences which protected the plantations from the cattle, and seven or eight ploughs, each of which would necessitate a full team of bullocks. There thev were, the remnant and ruins of the coffee industry - a monumental proof of the absolute futility of any attempt to do that which the framers of this measure contemplate. The owners of this plantation expected to have the labour of the blacks of the Northern Territory, but the man who can succeed in getting the Australian black to work has not yet been bom. There is no man, no matter how well qualified to manage coloured people, able to harness the Australian aborigine, who, though he may be low in the scale of intelligence, is strong in the instinct of self-preservation - when work is in question. The men who attempted to make that country produce coffee know to their sorrow what the enterprise cost them. Old residents of the Northern Territory have told me the same story, that the result must be failure, because the blacks will not work, and that it is impossible to cultivate the plant with any other kind of labour.
– They could not get any other kind of labour, then.
– The honorable member may be excused for his enthusiasm in regard to the Northern Territory, because if that part of Australia be taken over by the Commonwealth, one State will be relieved of an incubus. Most of the products mentioned in the schedule will have to be grown in the tropical parts of Australia. Indeed the report of experts indicates that they could not be grown elsewhere.
– - Has the honorable- member seen the coffee plantations at Kuranda?
– I will read what the report says about the coffee industry in Queensland -
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.
And yet it is expected that a. bounty of id. per lb. will make the industry successful.
– The quotation read proves nothing.
– It proves that, in the opinion of the experts, the price obtained for the product is inadequate to compensate for the cost of labour and tillage. I will read further -
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.
I take it that that is the advice on which the Government are acting.
It is grown under the conditions governing orchard work, principally in small areas as a subsidiary crop, though there are many who make it the principal crop. The soil most suitable is a well-drained loamy soil, but it will grow in poorer soils. The best situation is in the tropics with a range of temperature from 55 degrees to 80 degrees F., and it will thrive at an elevation of say 2,000 feet. An extremely wet climate is not favorable to the coffee plant and exposure does not suit it. Propagation is by seed.
It will be admitted that at some seasons of the year the Northern Territory may well be described as having an “ extremely wet climate. ‘ ‘ The public money ought not to be wasted on bounties in an attempt to develop industries of this kind, when there are hundreds of other ways in which our surplus money may be spent more profitably for the benefit of the people of Australia. Turning to another item, I ask whether there is any necessity to demonstrate that Australia can grow tobacco equal to that specified by the experts? In the districts 1 represent large areas have lately come under tobacco cultivation, and the product is superior to any hitherto raised in the Commonwealth. Indeed, it is pronounced’ by experts to be equal to Virginian leaf.
– Has the honorable member ever smoked it ?
– Yes, and I have enjoyed it. The soil in the north-west of New South Wales, and on the borders of Queensland, is capable of producing tobacco equal to any produced elsewhere, if there is a reasonable return for the labour.
– When I was in the Agricultural Department of New South Wales I procured some, and it nearly killed everybody who used it.
– But the developments to which I refer have taken place since the honorable member left the Agricultural Department - I do not know whether that has been because he left. The trouble is not the want of a bounty, but the want of a market in which a legitimate price can be procured for a good article. The restrictions on the sale are of such a character as to deprive the grower of a fair return for even the best leaf he can produce. Where is the competition for the leaf ? How many buyers are there? There is practically only one buyer; and the great need is protection against the ring or combine which is crippling the industry. I know of men who, previous to the formation of the combine, obtained is. and is. 2d. per lb. for their ‘leaf, but, since the combine has got control, the growers have to take whatever price is offered. It is futile to expect the bounty to overcome that difficulty, because the money would be simply taken by the combine, which would sweat the growers. No matter what our opinions may be as to bounties, while the industry is so shackled such assistance can be of no avail. Then we are asked to spend the people’s money in encouraging the production of jute. I see nothing in the report to hold out any hope of success for such an industry or to warrant the Government in including jute in the schedule. I admit that some of the bounties proposed may be effective in soil which is not of the best, but the peculiar position is that the Government propose to force by artificial means the production of articles on soil that is not otherwise used, while there are millions of acres of good land which is not being put to its full productive use. When we of the progressive party express a desire to develop the resources of the Commonwealth, not by bounties, but by bringing the good land of the Commonwealth into full productive use, honorable members opposite are not in accord with us, unless the reform is carried out under such conditions as will give no return to the men who take up the land.
– How does the honorable member propose to do it?
– By imposing a progressive land tax, so as to force the land into use.
– That is exactly what the leader of the Labour Party denied was the intention.
– The honorable member surely does not suggest that it has been stated by the leader of the Labour Party that it is not the desire of those who advocate land taxation to bring land into cultivation?
– Including Crown lands?
– Where is Crown land to be found?
– Nearly all the land in Australia is Crown land.
– If a man went to New South Wales with a pocketful of money, and tried to obtain good Crown land there, he would be a poor man before his search had concluded.
– In Queensland, land can be obtained for 2s. 6d. a acre, and a period of five years is allowed in which to pay for it.
– One of my objections to the Bill is that the industries which it is intended to encourage are largely tropical industries. We have not yet taken over the Northern Territory ; but I am doubtful whether, should we do so, many of the industries mentioned in the schedule will be profitably prosecuted there. It would be better to do more to assist population to settle upon the land in the more temperate parts of the continent. I object to the giving of bounties for the production of rubber, coffee, rice, jute, sunflower seeds, and palm oil. The use of palm oil of one kind, at any rate, should not be encouraged.
– Does the honorable member think that the growing of peanuts should be encouraged?
– If honorable members knew the value of peanuts as an article of diet, they would think the growing of this crop a proper one to encourage in the Commonwealth under Australian labour conditions. The eating of peanuts improves digestion. On page 22 of the report which has been placed before us, peanuts are described as a valuable stock food, and those who eat them are likely to live longer and to be more healthy for doing so. The proposal to give a bounty for the production of olive oil is farcical. Olive oil of good quality is now made in South Australia. I believe that the people of that State are the only honest manufacturers of this oil, and that their product is equal to that of any other part of the world. But I am informed that the olive trees now in bearing in South Australia are almost sufficient to supply the oil requirements of the Commonwealth. Why then should we offer a bounty for the encouragement of an established industry? We should profit by the confessions which Victorian representatives have made in regard to certain of the bounties which were once in operation in this State. Then will any honorable member tell me that a bounty of a half-penny per lb. will lead to the permanent establishment of the cotton industry?
– They are now growing cotton in Queensland, and a consignment which was shipped Home the other day fetched top prices.
– Cotton is grown in Queensland now largely for the sake of the seed, which is used in soap-making. I think that a bounty taking effect for fifteen years only would not make cotton-growing a permanent industry in the Commonwealth. I object to the proposed bounty for the production of cocoanut oil. It is true that in some parts of Australia cocoanuts can be grown as well as they grow in the South Sea Islands or in Ceylon ; but an overproduction of copra might occur at any time, and then the return would be unprofitable. I have heard it said that cocoanut growing could be successfully entered upon in the Northern Territory. I saw palms growing there with fruit on them. We were not driven close to them; but I took an opportunity to walk through a grove in the Botanical Gardens at Port Darwin, and found that they were riddled by the white ant.
– That does not affect the life of the tree.
– They will not continue standing much longer, because the trunks are riddled right through, so that in places you can see through them. If some honorable members speak in this Chamber as glowingly of the Northern Territory as they have done elsewhere, it will ring with their praises; but I shall have to express a different view: The white ant is the enemy of all tree growth in the Northern Territory, the ironwood tree and a few others being the only kinds which they do not tackle. Fruit trees cannot be grown there, vines are attacked, and flowers have to be planted in pots to protect them from the ravages of this pest. The leader of the Labour Party brought back with him photographs of white ant hills which stand as monuments to the destructiveness of this scourge. Hills as high as the columns of this Chamber, and as broad as the gable end of many a house, cannot be built by a few ants. Indeed, in parts of the Territory it is difficult to drive through the ant hills. I mention these facts to show how ridiculous is the suggestion that cocoanuts may profitably be grown in the Northern Territory. Before a bounty for the production of copra is agreed to, we must ask ourselves, where can cocoanuts be successfully grown? Mohair no doubt is a very serviceable commercial article.
– It is another South Australian product.
– All I can say is that the goats are a credit to the country which produced them, judging by the specimens which I saw. Mohair is the product of the Angora goat, and is a very valuable commodity. It is used in the manufacture of many serviceable goods. But there is not an unlimited market for mohair, as there is for wool, and I am disposed to believe that Angora goats can be bred in Australia without the aid of a bounty. I am perfectly satisfied that the pastoralists of New South Wales, who hold large areas of scrub country which is too poor to feed sheep, will not be long in discovering the excellent returns which are to be derived from the breeding of these goats.
– The experiment has been tried.
– And very successfully in some places.
– If that be so, where is the necessity for granting this bounty? In my judgment, it is necessary to grant a bounty only in cases where an industry, through some difficulty encountered in its initial stages, has not succeeded.
– Does the honorable member think that these goats will eat up all the white ants?
– As a matter of fact, I can find no enemy of the white ant. Of course, my remarks concerning the Northern Territory may not be, very palatable to some of my South Australian friends, but I have to speak of what I saw during my visit there, irrespective of whether or not I may hurt their susceptibilities. I think that the money which it is proposed to spend to foster the production of sisal hemp could be better devoted to old-age pensions. I am of opinion that New Zealand flax also could be profitably grown in Southern Australia, and that there is therefore no need for us to offer a bounty. In conclusion, I believe that the sum of £100,000 would be ample to provide bounties for all the industries that we are warranted in encouraging under this Bill.
– I have listened to the remarks of the honorable member for Gwydir with very great interest. Regarding the white ants of which he spoke, I am in a position to inform him that quite recently an absolute destroyer of that pest has been discovered. The material can be produced very cheaply indeed. Its efficacy has been demonstrated by the heads of the Postal Department, and I believe that the discovery will be worth many thousands of pounds to that Department alone. The honorable member spoke of the impossibility of growing certain products within the Commonwealth. I am of opinion that we can grow practically anything in Australia. So far as the question of cheap labour is concerned, I would point out that at thepresent time hundreds of immigrants are being brought from England by the New South Wales Government to work upon farms at a wage of 7s. 6d. weekly.
– Where are they working ?
– Upon the farms, to which the Government send them. I would further point out to the honorable member for Gwydir that if some of the articles specified in the schedule of the Bill are not produced, the bounty will not be paid in respect of them. For some time past I have been striving to understand the position taken up by a number of honorable members of this Committee. At last I fancy, that I begin to see a little daylight. In the first place, we have a Government in power which outsiders declare is kept in office by the socialistic party. If the socialistic party themselves were in power the Commonwealth would own and control many of these industries. The Government are not ready to go so far as that, but they are prepared to go half-way, and the honorable member for Gwydir ought to be glad that professed anti- Socialists are ready to support a measure of this kind. Of course, it represents only shandy-gaff Socialism. Under cover of this measure it is proposed to hand over the taxpayer’s money to a limited number of private individuals, and to deny him any control over the business which they conduct. The only restriction that the taxpayer is able to impose is that the recipients of the bounty shall employ white labour and pay white . men’s wages. That is one of the objects towards which the Labour Party has been working for years. But apart from that one condition, the management of the business is to be left entirely to private individuals. The honorable member for Gwydir is very much afraid that these individuals will not succeed. I am inclined to agree that there will be a lot of failures, because I regard private enterprise as an all-round failure. But, nevertheless, the Bill represents the half-way step to Socialism. This evening the honorable member for Dalley, who was a pronounced anti-Socialist, and an out-and-out free-trader, has been “ barracking ‘ ‘ for bounties, so long as a bounty is given to the iron .industry. His action merely serves to point the educational influence of the Labour Party in this House. The strongest anti-Socialists are rapidly coming round to our way of thinking, and within a few years the whole of them will be advocating Socialism.
– At the present rate of progress how many centuries will elapse before the workers are insured the fruits of their labour?
– The change to which I have referred is rapidly taking place. As the honorable member for Gwydir has pointed out, we are being invited to enter upon a very heavy expenditure, and we have not been able to ascertain from the Treasurer what is the financial position of the Commonwealth. The Government seem to have behind them funds as vast as those at the disposal of the Bank of England. I give them credit for having carefully considered their various proposals, but 1 am anxious to ascertain what’ is the ultimate object they have in view. This Bill will involve an expenditure of over £[500,000. A Federal system of old-age pensions, to which the Government is pledged, will be responsible for a further expenditure of something like £1,500,000, and we shall also have to meet a heavy liability in building an Australian Navy, in providing for the administration of the Northern Territory, and ultimately in constructing transcontinental lines to Kalgoorlie and to Port Darwin. I have been endeavouring to think out what is behind all these proposals. The granting of bounties in respect of natural products will naturally mean a big thing for the land-owners, for the 720 persons and companies that own half the alienated land of New South Wales, and for the handful that own the larger part of the alienated lands of Victoria. In passing, I should like to say that I think it is idle to assert that there are millions of acres of Crown lands in this State. As a matter of fact in making their estimate the Victorian Government have not allowed for the areas represented by public roads and parks, and the Crown lands available here are really very limited. These bounties, if granted, will tend to bring about intense culture, and in that way will largely increase land values. It seems to me that, having by means of an expenditure of millions brought about this result, the Government will hold in reserve a substantial land tax, and that their proposals in this direction will enable them to obtain a very large revenue from that source. Honorable members in the Opposition corner have simply taken up the anti-socialistic cry, in order to soothe their electors, and I have no doubt that some of them, who have previously declared themselves strongly in favour of land values taxation, will come to the help of the Government when they seek to carry out these great schemes. The land problem is the bed-rock of all our difficulties, and until we stop the confiscation that is now going on, we shall always be handicapped. I use the word “confiscation”” because I find that even many honorable members of this House are strongly in favour of it. They are decidedly in favour of the individual land-owner being permitted to confiscate . the value given to his land by the efforts of the rest of the community. The Labour Party say that, when a community creates the unimproved value of land, that value belongs to the community, and that it is wrong that the few should be allowed to take from the many that which the many Save created. When the time comes for the Government to. provide the funds necessary to carry out the several proposals I have outlined, we shall probably have our eyes opened. The honorable member for Gwydir seems to have forgotten that we have in office a protection- ist Ministry, and that, if we grant bounties to establish industries in which coloured labour is employed elsewhere, we shall be called upon to pass a protective Tariff that will overcome the difficulty in regard to the introduction of cheap labour products from other lands. If the Government adhere to the course which they have lately followed, they are likely to remain in office long enough to be able to pass a protective Tariff that will enable us to cope with outside competition. I do not think it is altogether wise to refuse to assist them in passing measures that must necessarily involve a large expenditure, because by giving assistance in this direction we shall push on the imposition of direct taxation. Perhaps it is just as well that they should not take us into their confidence, for if they did they might frighten some of their new allies so far as the granting of bounties is concerned. If they let it be known that they intended to propose substantial protective duties, they might not be able to obtain the assistance that they would otherwise secure in passing this Bill. I do not propose at this stage to discuss in detail the items in the schedule, although I am unable to understand why some of them should have been included in it. I have no doubt that all the products named in the schedule could be successfully raised in Australia. In New South Wales alone we have millions of acres suitable to the production of coffee. According to the reports of the experts, districts having only a limited rainfall are best suited for coffee raising, and my own electorate comes within that category. I should like in this connexion to protest against the tendency on the part of many honorable members to speak of Australian aboriginals as negroes. Professor Gregory has told us that their origin is the same as our own, and that they are not negroid. They are our brothers, and, although some complain that it has been found impossible to make them work in the Northern Territory, I am not altogether disposed to condemn them. Some men are too ready to become the slaves of others who wish to make a profit out of their labour.
– And yet the honorable member would not give aboriginals a vote?
– They are entitled to a vote at State elections in New South Wales.
– And they sometimes vote all right. The production of olives is one of the industries in respect of which a bounty is proposed. As a matter of fact South Australia for some years has been supplying the New South Wales market with olives and olive oil. It seems to me that the Government are practically saying to those engaged in the industry there, “ You have already established your industry, and are doing very well ; but we propose to give you a bounty on the understanding that you will employ white labour and pay white men’s wages.” I think that is a sound proposition.
– If the honorable member makes such statements he will cause the Government to lose the support which some honorable members of the Opposition are giving the Bill.
– I do not think so. They are always prepared to boost up private enterprise. I regard as a friend any one who is ready to take a step towards the accomplishment of my ideals, and the Government seem to be prepared to do so. The honorable member for Gwydir declared that cotton-growing would not pay in Australia, and when it was pointed out to him that the industry was already being carried on in Queensland, he said that cotton was only being grown there in order that the oil extracted from the seed might be used for soap-making purposes. I think that the honorable member in making that statement proved that the industry could be made a payable one. Cotton is being grown on the Darling River. One of my constituents on the Marra has grown cotton which has been pronounced by an expert to be exceptionally fine, superior even to the American article. I believe that cotton can be profitably raised in Australia, and that the industry might very well be encouraged. Whilst some of the items in the schedule mustbe carefully considered, I am not prepared to vote against this appropriation. It seems to me that the Bill has some good points, and might be very useful in the establishment of certain industries. I understand from the Minister in charge that, when the items have been dealt with, whatever amounts are struck out will be deducted from the total mentioned in clause 2.
– How about a bounty on wool ?
– It is disgraceful that we do not manufacture woollen goods as well as produce wool ; the combing, the washing, the weaving, and all the processes ought to be conducted in Australia. It has been proved that the woollen mills in Australia can turn out goods which hold their own in the world’s markets. Many years ago, when in New Zealand, I met a representative of one of the biggest wool firms at Home, and he told me that the products of the Roslyn and other mills had absolutely nothing to fear in the markets of the world. Under the circumstances, I think that the item of combed wool is perhaps one of the best. The wool industry is the biggest in Australia, and when we have opened up that beautiful country between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie, we shall have room for millions more sheep. The world’s supply of wool must come largely from Australia, and the proposal in the Bill is, perhaps, a good start towards the encouragement of the woollen industry. I think we ought to be prepared to assist the Government in a good, vigorous policy, even if it does cost some millions. The banks are running over with money, and every State Treasurer has a surplus which he has some difficulty in disposing of. We are booming with prosperity ; and yet we find honorable members objecting to spending half a million for the encouragement of industries. What is £1,000,000, or even £2,000,000? When we have imposed a progressive land tax on the big estates, large tracts of country, now idle, will be put to their proper use. At present only 5 per cent, of the alienated land of New South Wales is cultivated, and we may be sure that it is the best land, while in Victoria there are millions of acres of splendid country still untilled. If, by means of a land tax, these lands are brought under cultivation, and industries introduced which require small areas with intense cultivation, then immigration will boom. Honorable members ought, therefore, to be pleased that the Government, with their very .limited following, have the courage to enter upon such a policy as that indicated by the Bill. I hope honorable members will assist- to hasten the prosperity which we may expect in a few years by opening out the lands to cultivation.
.- No one can take exception to the principle of the measure. It is a plain and direct way of doing what a Tariff essays to do in a very indirect, and sometimes very unsatisfactory, way ; it is for this reason a measure in which everything depends on detail. If any one were willing to distribute a certain amount’ of money among -deserving persons, the whole population would assent, and difference of opinion would arise only as to who were deserving. No doubt, under a form of Government in which the most intellectual and wisest people were in office51- permanently, I mean - it would be very desirable that certain industries and certain individuals should be favoured in the way indicated. But I am bound to confess that, although I have heard a great deal since I arrived the other day about the items in the schedule, and I have heard to-night more about Angora goats and white ants than ever I heard in my life - their habits seem to be quite familiar to certain gentlemen who have been putting in a profitable time for the country in the Northern Territory - some of the items do not commend themselves to me. We are not here to waste the public money, but to put it out to advantage, and we have at our disposal a very limited amount. Some of the items in the schedule are very good, and some are not good, and those that are good seem not to be encouraged by a sufficient bonus, while quite a number, which are to be encouraged, seem to me to be of no use. The history of every country is studded with cases where industries have produced just enough to obtain a bonus, and have then faded away.- In other countries, if not here, capital has been diverted from other industries into the beet-sugar industry, which was not, in itself originally, sufficiently profitable, and the bonus having been procured’ - which made the industry profitable to those engaged - production ceased. That is not the sort of thing we want to encourage. I say nothing about cotton, although it is very clear from the report of the Queensland experts that, unless a market is found for cotton seed, the growth of cotton is not likely to be profitable. I emphatically take exception to the item of mohair, because if there is any logic in the argument of those gentlemen who recommend that there should be no bounty on concentrated milk, on the ground that that would divert capi-, tal from the manufacture of butter, the stimulation of the mohair industry would certainly divert capital from more profitable undertakings. I cannot approve of a bounty on peanuts, but I shall vote for the item of rubber, because I think that promises to be a great industry ; at any rate, there is reasonable prospect of success. After what the honorable member for Gwydir has said about the cocoanut palm, I shall certainly not support that item, until some one arises to destroy the white ant theory. Apparently no one has thought fit to suggest that there are industries of much more importance to this country than any represented in the schedule. One is the growth of wheat of a particular kind, that will more effectively than those now grown, withstand the effects of drought and the ravages of disease. The other day, 600 bags of Manitoba wheat were brought into the country for use as seed. It is a peculiarly hard wheat, but after five or six years it degenerates, and has to be re placed with fresh seed ; one would have imagined that every effort would have been made to facilitate its entry and distribution. At the Customs House, however, a difficulty arose, and, though evidence was offered to the Department as to the bona fides of the wheat’s destination by displaying the names and addresses of those persons to whom it was to be given, the ordinary Customs duty was insisted on. That is not the way to, assist a great industry. Here is a growing industry which - although established, certainly ought not to be handicapped for some insignificant reason - is very seriously handicapped, when, by a Bill of the kind before us, it is proposed to offer a bounty of £3,000, say, on palm fruit. The importation of proper seed is essential to the continuance and prosperity of one of the chief industries of the country. Is the importation of stud sheep, for instance, an undertaking which ought to be handicapped? Every effort ought to be made to encourage those industries already in existence, and on’ which we live. I see that the production of fish preserved in tins or casks, is to have a bounty of £10,000, but, apparently, the production of fish dried or smoked, is to receive no encouragement at all. There is plenty of scope in this country for the development of the dried fish industry ; and, if no one else does so, I shall move to have the latter included in the schedule. Then I see that the producers of dried or candied fruit, manufactured “ and exported, “ are to receive a bounty, but that no assistance is to be given to the producers if the fruit be not exported. Is the wording intended to mean that no bounty shall be given until the local consumption has been overtaken? That will not happen for the next five years, and when it does happen, the industry will not need assistance.
– It may pay to export in order to get the bounty.
– If manufacturers were exporting in order to get the bounty, leaving the local market not fully supplied, we should be wasting our money. The encouragement of the production of combed wool or tops is perhaps a right step to take. I do not regard the measure as likely to be productive of much good, and I think that £530,000 is too much money to waste. Instead of encouraging persons toenter upon industries which are in the experimental stage, and may prove unprofitable, it would be better to give encouragement to one or two industries which have a chance of success. Experimental work can best be done at Government farms, and, where there are not such farms, in districts thought to be suitable for the production of certain crops, they should be established. Then we should have the opinions of men possessing specialized knowledge as to the possibilities of any crop. The measure must be regarded as complementary to the Tariff, which, for some reasons, it is to be regretted has not yet been introduced.
. -I should like to put before the Minister a reason why the consideration of the clause might well be postponed until the schedule has been dealt with. In regard to every item in the schedule a period is fixed during which the bounties may be paid. For instance, a bounty may be paid on the production of rubber for a period of fifteen years, dating from the commencement of this month. But we have evidence that rubber has not been produced in Australia other than experimentally, and it will take at least seven years before a yield can be expected from any plantations that are made as the result of this legislation.
– Ten years,if the trees are grown from seed.
– The honorable member is suggesting that no money will have to be paid for seven or ten years to come ?
– Yes.Why then is provision for its appropriation being made now ?
– There must be a general appropriation now, unless the money is to be voted on the Estimates. Money that is not spent will remain in the Treasury.
– I think that the more businesslike way would be to find out what sums we shall need. The amendment seems to me to trifle with the question. To my mind, the measure has been introduced largely for advertising purposes, rather than for the sake of the industries mentioned in the schedule, and I would prefer that honorable members should negative the clause than that they should reduce the sum named in it by £100,000.
– I hope that the honorable member for Dalley will not press the amendment, because it places many honorable members in a false position. Although a number of us have taken exception to the time and manner in which the Bill hasbeen introduced, we are in favour of. the principle of. bounties, and are of opinion that the best thing we can do is to deal with the schedule as soon as possible, afterwards recommitting this clause to bring it into harmony with any alterations that may be made in the schedule.
.- The honorable and learned member for Flinders complains that the amendment puts those who are in favour of bounties in a false position; but what about those who oppose the granting of bounties ? No member of the Committee has strongly supported the measure, and most of the speakers seem to think that the £530,000 mentioned in the clause will be wasted. The honorable member for Darling favoured us with a long philosophic disquisition, in which he tried to show that a nigger is sometimes not a nigger, but he did not deal with the question at issue. I have always been opposed to the granting of bounties, and pointed out last night that the granting of bounties is a step towards Socialism, because State aid must be followed by State control. I, as an anti-Socialist, do not desire to take this step. If we vote public money to support the olive industry, why should we not similarly give assistance to every other industry in Australia, and then assume control over them? The Attorney-General spoke of the Bill as designed to increase the prosperity of the country ; but the industries mentioned in the schedule, even if established here, would not affect our conditions very much. Furthermore, the grant ing of £1,000 to one industry and , £2,000 to another is not likely to be of much assistance. The honorable member for Wentworth has spoken of the amendment as trifling with the question, and thinks that it would be better to negative the clause; but I have already replied to the contention of those who have asked for a postponement on the ground that the Government should, before bringing forward proposals involving large expenditure, make a statement of the financial position. I have shown that the Postmaster-General, in bringing down a Bill for the establishment of penny postage, could be met with the objection that no financial statement had been made showing the probable effect of his proposal upon the revenue. I suggested that to press such an objection would be equivalent to a vote of censure upon the Government for its slovenly method of doing things. I agree with the honorable and learned member for Flinders that no great enterprise should be undertaken without considering its probable effect on the finances. No man in private life who desired to remain solvent would begin an enterprise of magnitude until he had ascertained his financial position. The Government, however, is supported by a majority. That was shown by the action of Parliament last week in passing the Supply Bill. What I shall propose if the amendment be carried is that £330,000 be devoted to the establishment of the iron industry, and £100,000 to the establishment of the shipbuilding’ industry. I hope for the support of those who are in favour of the granting of bounties for the establishment of industries. Most of the Ministers have declared themselves in favour of a bounty on iron, and have voted for such a bounty. The iron industry would provide employment for highly-paid artisans; but most of the industries mentioned in the schedule require low-paid labour for their success. The Postmaster-General has been a sturdy advocate of a bounty on iron, and has contended that it would provide employment for thousands of persons.
– Will the honorable member help us next time ?
– What does the honorable gentleman mean by next time?
– Very soon.
– Am I to regard that statement as arn intimation that in their Budget proposals the Government contemplate providing for an extension of the bounty system to the iron and shipbuilding industries? When we come to consider the schedule of the Bill, I can quite imagine that the £1,000 which it is proposed to appropriate to encourage the production of rice will be eliminated. Yet we have only just ceased reading the horrible accounts which were published in the Melbourne newspapers of the starvation wages which are being paid in Victoria to employes in the starch trade. I venture to say. that no member of the Government would care to invest even half-a-crown in any one of the industries specified in the schedule of the Bill. We are all familiar with the history of Victorian: industries which were started under the bounty system.
– Why not let us get on to the consideration of the schedule?
– The honorable member knows perfectly well that when we come to discuss the schedule, I shall only be able to ask that the ridiculous sum of £10,000 shall be appropriated for the purpose of encouraging the iron industry. Were I to ask for the grant of any such sum, I should deserve all the opprobrium which could be heaped upon me. The Committee having pledged itself to the bounty system, I. ask that £330,000 of the amount provided under this Bill shall be allocated to the iron industry, and £100,000 to the ship-building industry. It is a fact that many of the artisans engaged in the shipbuilding trade have suffered severely as the result of the operation of our present Tariff. I ask that some consideration should be extended to them.
– Let the honorable member withdraw his amendment, and he and I will talk the matter over.
– I shall do nothing of the kind. If the Government are not prepared to do what I suggest, their professed anxiety for the establishment of substantial industries in Australia is merely a sham. I shall vote against every item in the schedule, because I thinkthat the money appropriated under this Bill should be devoted to the iron and ship-building industries.
– I hope that the honorable member will not press his amendment to a division. There are a large number of honorable members who are quite in sympathy with the object which he desires to attain. They wish to appropriate the moneys specified in this Bill for more adequate purposes than those set forth in the schedule. There are honorable members of this Committee who are pledgedto a revision of the schedule, and the honorable member will achieve his object much better during the discussion at that stage. I sympathize to a great extent with his desire to appropriate this money to a more adequate purpose. There are many anomalies in the schedule, one of which affects my own constituency particularly. As honorable members do not hesitate to advocate bounties for enterprises connected with their own constituencies, I need not apologize for mentioning an industry which I think is more worthy of consideration than many of those contained in the schedule.. The honorable member for Wimmera spoke eloquently as to the wisdom of granting bounties for dried fruits. Why not, then, vote a bounty for the export of fresh fruits., which are very much more difficult to ship ? It is a matter of the greatest difficulty to get our citrus fruits on to the London market in good condition. Why not appropriate a certain sum of money to aid our growers in the best means of preparing the most delicate and. luscious varieties of fresh fruit for export, so that they may command the best prices on the London market ?
– Who. is asking for these bounties ?
– I know a great many fruit-growers who say bounties should be. given. The growers have already lost a small fortune in trying to exploit the London market with our best products, but hitherto, through some fault either in the preparation of the fruit or in the cool storage on the voyage, they have come to grief. I shall protest most strongly against one class of fruit being included to the exclusion of another class that is more difficult to handle and equally worthy of consideration. This, however, is not the time to discuss such a matter. What we are concerned with now is the wisdom of introducing the measure at this stage. The Acting Prime Minister told us to-night that we should let the Government bring clown their Tariff proposals and their financial measures, and that then will, be the time to criticise what they have done. The money will have been appropriated then, and we shall be met with the statement that, as the money has been appropriated, and these enterprises set going, we must put up with their proposals, no matter how much we may criticise them. . Now is the time to criticise the wisdom of this appropriation. Afterwards it will be too late. I therefore agree with “the honorable, member for Flinders and others who have joined to-night in protesting against the unwisdom of this proceeding, outraging as it does all kinds of precedents in connexion with bounty proposals, and departing as it does most radically from the course hitherto adopted in regard to similar measures by this very Government - because this is not the first essay of the Government in this direction. Six years ago, when the right honorable member for Adelaide introduced the first Tariff proposals, he forecast a scheme of bounties as subsidiary and supplementary to them. That was the proper way to proceed. It was part of a complete scheme for the stimulation of our national industries, and not a fragment introduced out of its place. The Government on that occasion had a logical standing ground, and their procedure could be defended in a way that this isolated proposal cannot be; This discussion has been useful as indicating to us the kind of Socialism that is being urged forward by some honorable members in the Ministerial comer. My philosophical friend, the honorable member for Darling, who may be fittingly termed the guide, philosopher, and friend of his party - for no man has read more deeply of the philosophy of Socialism, and consequently no one is better able to express an opinion as to the real merits of that issue - told us to-night that this Bill is Socialism, and that they are a socialistic party. That is an admission which we have not been able to get from some members of the party during this debate. When they have been termed a socialistic party by any honorable member on this side during this Parliament a number of them have risen in protest immediately. The honorable member for Darling admits to-night that they are a socialistic party, and claims that this Bill is a step onward towards the Socialism which they hope some day to see realized.
– Stick to the text.
– This is the text. I want to take the honorable member for Darling at his word. He says this is the Socialism they are preaching. What kind of Socialism is it? We have before us a proposal to give bounties in order to build up private enterprise in various parts of Australia. What are the workers to get out of it? The Bill says distinctly that they are simply to get the standard rate of wages in the locality. Who is to fix that standard? Again, the hated private enterprise. And, therefore, the Socialism which that party advocate in this House means the granting of public funds to consolidate and build up private enterprise, and to enable private enterprise to pay wages which it alone can determine and fix. Will the honorable member for Darling tell the workers that that is all he has to give them when next they shout themselves hoarse upon the hustings in his support ?
– We are not responsible for this proposal. We have nothing to dowith it.
– But the honorable member says that this is Socialism. If it is, he ought to tell those people who were so enthusiastic in his support a few months ago that all the Socialism he has to offer is a rate of wages fixed by the private enterprise of Australia.
– I did not call it Socialism. I said.it was shandy-gaff Socialism.
– The honorable member said it was half-way towards Socialism.
– I must remind the honorable member that there is an amendment before the Committee.
– It is an amendment which opens up the whole philosophy of the question of bounties. I do not wish to pursue that matter further, but it struck me when the honorable member for Darling was speaking that this Bill is about the kind of Socialism that the workers outside will get from the members of the socialistic party in this House. That party keep their goods for the shop-window and the hustings, and not for use.
– We are not running the show.
– The honorable member knows very well that his party are running the show, as he terms it.
– Will the honorable member confine his remarks to the amendment before the Chair?
– I hope we shall thoroughly revise the schedule when we reach it. If we reduced the items to the extent of £100,000 or £200,000, we should then be able to devote part of this proposed appropriation to a much better *ise than if we expended it on some of the proposed bounties. We might as well throw a lot of this money into the Yarra as to vote it away under the conditions prescribed by the Bill. If this amount is to be expended, I wish to see it wisely used, and I maintain there is no prospect of its being wisely, or at all events, effectively used unless we obtain the best skill to guide those who will engage in these industries, and so enable them to work under the most favorable conditions.
.- When the debate on the motion for the second reading of the Bill came to a close, I was engaged in another part of the building attending to my correspondence - a work that I should have deferred had I thought that the discussion was likely to collapse so suddenly. Had I been present, I should certainly have called for a division. I cannot support any amendment which proposes a reduction of the amount to be appropriated for these bounties only with the object of spending the balance in other similar directions. I was prepared to move the omission of the words “ and thirty thousand.” Such an amendment, if adopted, would have left a sum of only £500 to be expended during a period of fifteen years with respect to these bounties, and would have had the effect of destroying the whole proposal. I am pledged to oppose bounties. As one of the few remaining freetraders in the House, I regard the granting of bounties, except in the special circumstances to which I referred in my speech on the second reading of the Bill as being only one degree less objectionable than the imposition of protective duties. The best course to pursue is not to vote for an amendment which will simply mean that part of the total appropriation will be diverted from certain items in the schedule toothers to be proposed, but to reject the whole clause. We should have a straight out vote on the question of whether or not an appropriation should be made for this purpose. I am fortified in my determination t’o vote against these bounties by the statement which the Postmaster-General made in answer to the honorable member for Dalley, who inquired whether it was the intention of the Government to submit pro posals for the granting of bounties to other departments of industry. I gathered from that statement that a short time hence further proposals will be made for the expenditure of still more public money in this direction.
– The pump is very good, but the well is fairly dry.
– We are told that a wink is as good as a nod to a blind horse. The honorable gentleman allowed it to be inferred, from his remarks, that if we agreed to the appropriation of £530,000 for the purposes named in the Bill, we should be asked to sanction a further expenditure in respect of other bounties. That is an additional reason why this clause should be opposed. I hope we shall have a division on the question of the appropriation, so that we may know exactly what attitude honorable members take up.
.- I should like to point out to those who say that instead of pressing my amendment, I should refrain from taking action until we reach the schedule, that even if I succeeded in securing the omission of nineteen of the twenty-two items in that schedule we should not have a sufficient sum provided by this Bill to give assistance to the iron industry, to say nothing of the ship-building trade. The only two items in respect of which a substantial sum is to be set apart are those relating to wool combing and “ fish preserved in tins or casks.” If any items in the schedule can be defended, they are the. only two, and if others were agreed to, I should be compelled to support them. Any industry that is powerful enough to have friends in this House will naturally secure assistance. I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether it is contemplated to propose in the Budget any extension of the bounty system, or whether the Government are satisfied with the present Bill ? If the Government are prepared to make provision for a bonus on iron, my objection to the expenditure under the Bill will cease.
– Is this a. bargain?
– It is not a bargain. I am in the proud position that I can do as [’ please on fiscal questions, because, when [ went before my electors, I insisted upon having a free hand, and that free hand I am exercising to-night. As a free-trader, I do not believe in bounties, but, if this clause is carried, it will be my duty to- see that my electors get a “ little bit. “ The honorable member for Parramatta asked me to withdraw the amendment, and I am always glad to withdraw any proposal which puts any other honorable member in a difficulty ; but I must have some regard to my own position. I desire this money to be directed to the encouragement of the iron and the ship-building industries, and the Acting Prime Minister could easily intimate what are the intentions of the Government in this regard. Will the Acting Prime Minister go back to his old love, the iron industry ?
– I have not changed.
– But have the Ministry changed? What I desire is to see £430,000 devoted to the iron and shipbuilding industries.
– I am astounded at the speech of the honorable member for Dal ley. He tells us that bounties are a waste of the taxpayers’ money, but apparently he does not care how the taxpayers’ money goes so long as he, a free-trader, manages to get £100,000 of what he would call the “ plunder “ for his constituents.
– I want £430,000.
– If I held the same views as the honorable member, I should have called for a division on the second reading. I always find, however, that honorable members like the representative of Dalley, whenever they can see some small political advantage to be gained for their constituents, are prepared to throw principles to the winds. As I said before, I am not strongly in favour of bounties, but they represent the best system that can be adopted in regard to some industries at the present time. I ask honorable members not to agree with the honorable member for Dalley, and make the bargain he suggests. 1 am prepared to join the honorable member in assisting the iron industry, as I would in assisting any other industry. But the proper method when an industry has been established is to impose a duty, so as to protect it against the unfair competition of cheap labour, I hope I shall find the honorable member with me in this connexion when the Tariff “is before us.
– Mr. Sandford says he does not want a bounty.
– I am glad that: Mr. Sandford takes the view that a bounty is not the best mode of encouragement.
Question- That the clause stand as printed - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 31
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 (Specification of bounties).
.- The honorable member for Corangamite expressed a desire that the proviso to subclause 2 of this clause should be omitted, and as my view coincides with his, I propose, in his absence, to move -
That the following words be left out : - “ Provided that, in the case of fish preserved in tins or casks, and of fruit dried or candied, and of combed wool or tops, the manufacturer shall be deemed to be the producer, and the bounty shall be payable to the manufacturer only.”
As I understand that the Minister is willing to adjourn at this stage, I shall continue my remarks on the clause to-morrow.
House adjourned at 10.46 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 July 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19070725_reps_3_37/>.