7th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr . Speaker (Hon. W. Elliot Johnson) took’ the chair at. 2.30.’ p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to call the attention of the House to a statement made last night by the honorable . member for Cook (Mr. J. H.Catts), of which I think, notice should be taken. In the course of” his speech the honorable member, said - I. quote from the uncorrected report ofthe. galley- proof: -
No longer can, the records ofParliament. be, relied on as. true and . accurate reports . of the, proceedings of Parliament; because now, under the direction and dictation of the Government; they are. subject to such manipulation as- Ministers may choose:
The statement was- based apparently upon a misapprehension by the honorable member, but is wholly inaccurate The Hansard reports are not under the direction, nor at the1 dictation, of the Government, and are not-‘ subject to such manipulation- as Ministers may choose.. They are not subject, or subjected; to any manipulation or- interference of any kind on the part of Ministers. By the. express resolution of the House, the Speaker is given discretionary, power concerning the omission of passagesto which his attentions has been directed” by theCrown Law Officers- for- certain specified reasons, a discretionary power.- which, I . am happy . to say, I have not- so: far been, called upon to exercise. Let me remind honorable members of the wording of the- authority on which this discretionary’ . power is based-: The -. resolution! of- the-. House: reads as; follows.-:- -
That, . dulling; the progress’, of the . present war, Mr. Speaker tie,’ and is, hereby authorized at his discretion, to direct the ‘.omission, from Hansard of any remarks made in the’ House of Representatives’ in- thecourse of- debate, or in any other proceedings in the House of:.Representatives, to which his attention’, may- be directed by the Law Officers of the Crown, as being.- calculated to prejudice His Majesty’s- relations with a foreign Power, or. the. successful prosecution of the war, or to imperil the safety of the Commonwealth.
It will be seen that the omission of passages from Hansard is entirely at. the discretion of the Speaker, who. may- act if his attention is drawn by the’ Crown Law Officers to theundesirability in the national– interest of allowing certain statements’ to be published’.’
Mr.J.H.CATTS.-I desire to make a personal- explanation, , In the- statement to which you) Mr: Speaker, referred a few minutes ago,I was attempting to point to the links- in the chain of regulations by which the Govern,, ment had control of the’ public platform, the public press, speech in Parliar ment; . and’ the records’ of- Parliament. Apparently, in my effort to condense my remarks- as- much aa possible,- I have led to your misapprehending in some respect whatI intended to convey. I submit that, the: resolution quoted by you gives to the Government the power which I mentioned It is all very well to say that subordinate, officers of the Government may make- a recommendation to Mr. Speaker for the. manipulation of Hansard, but those subordinate’ officers would be moved by Ministers - their masters.
Mr.Watt. - And Mr. Speaker has said that he alone has. the power;
– Because of the brevity of my statement there has been some slight misunderstanding. The position,, so far as Hansard is . concerned, is also the same in regard to the issue of regulations. I have known the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) to state that, a regulation was issued by the GovernorGeneral. We know that all regulations are framed by Ministers, but therehas been an effort to pass on to the GovernorGeneral the responsibility for some of them.
Mr.Watt. -Nonsense. The statutory position ‘is that all regulations are issued by the Governor-General in . Council.
– But the Government frame those regulations.
Mr.Watt. -Every regulation is signed by the . -responsible Minister, and is issued by the Governor-General in Council.
– The Prime Minister has gone about the country . referring to regulations as “being issued by the Governor-General with the object of leading the public to believe that . Ministers themselves are not responsible . for their issue, but that some higher authority controls them. In the same ‘way the Government very astutely-
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I desire to ask whether it is permissible for the honorable member, in making a personal explanation, to debate a matter in the way he is now doing.
– The honorable member was merely giving an illustration in support of the position taken up by “him. I understood him to be referring only to what he considered to be an analogous case. ‘Had he gone beyond -that I should have called him to order.
– The Government have chosen a roundabout means of controlling the records of Parliament; but the fact remains that the Government do, in ‘this way, control them. An incident has already occurred in regard to some soldiers’ grievances ventilated in the “House. At ‘the instance of the Government, certain honorable members agreed to alterations of the Hansard record of the speeches, so that those records, as ‘they lie on the table to-day, do not accurately set out what took place in the ‘House.
– On a point of order, Sir, may I, with very great respect to you, express the view that the remarks made by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. J. H. Catts) convey a very thinly veiled insult to the occupant of the Chair. Whether he intended it or not, the impression which his statement left upon the minds of honorable members was that the Government were improperly using . Mr. Speaker as a tool for the censoring of Hansard. On behalf of the Government, and the office you, sir, hold, I have a right to indignantly resent that suggestion.
– I desire again to point out that . my object in drawing . the attention of the House to the statement made . by the honorable member (.Mr. J. H. Catts)was that it should not go before the public without a correction being made, since it . was entirely misleading; but misleading,I believed, because of a misunderstanding on the part . of the honorable member who -made it.
Mr.SPEAKER. - I am sorry to have to interpose in order to revert to a matter referred to early this . afternoon. In -the course of an explanation the honorable member for Cook (Mr. J. H. Catts) made a further statement implying that the Government, in connivance with some . honorable -members of the House, had - improperly, I understood him to suggest - manipulated Hansard so that it was not a correctreport of the proceedings. I could not think for a moment to what the honorable “member was referring, but it Has since occurred to me that possibly he was speaking of a matter in which the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) was concerned. I remind the House that whatever action was taken on that occasion was authorized by the expressed concurrence of the House, as embodied in the following resolution, and not by Ministers alone in. conjunction with certain honorable members: -
That the House accords permission to honorable members . who spoke on the motion for ‘the adjournment of the ‘House yesterday to censor the Barnard report of their . own speeches.
– That resolution was .carried unanimously.
– That authority was given directly by the . House, but, I understand, . was not acted upon.
– I desireto make a personal explanation. I based ‘my statement upon information supplied to me bythe honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath). I understood him to say that, as Ministers expressed the desire that members should censor their own speeches, he had censored his. I believe that some effort is to be made to endeavour to find the Hansard proof.
– That has nothing to do with the question. The honorable member said that the Government did it, whereas the House gave honorable members the right to do it individually in a particular instance.
– If Iremember the words I used - it is difficult to do so with all the exchanges across the Chamber - I said, “ At the instance of Ministers.”
– The honorable member for Ballarat will not confirm that statement.
– At any rate that was the information. I gathered from the newspapers and from inquiries I made. I was not in the House at the time.
– I was not in the Chamber when this incident arose to-day. Honorable members may recollect that the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) and I decided that it should be a personal responsibility upon us to censor our own speeches. We conferred together, and the House agreed to a motion permitting us to censor our speeches, but I think that the reports were not censored, because we found that the Age had published what was virtually a full report of what had been said. I ‘have asked for a copy of the proof report, so that I may see exactly what was done.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy say whether the 100,000 tons which he agreed to purchase in the northern coal district of New South Wales, in order to relieve distress, have been supplied; and if not, what quantity has been supplied ?
– It was arranged that 150,000 tons of coal should be purchased in New South Wales; 50,000 tons from the southern collieries, and 100,000 tons from the northern collieries. Speak-, ing from memory, about 2,000 tons have been supplied so far from the southern collieries, and about 70,000 tons from the northern collieries.
The following papers were presented : -
Repatriation Department - Summary of Activities from 8th April, 1918, to 31st October, 1918.
Ordered to be printed.
Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1918, No. 303.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired under, at-
Casterton, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Mooroopna, Victoria - For Postal purposes.
Public Service Act - Promotion of S. E. Deegan, Postmaster-General’s Department.
War Precautions Act - Regulations Amended -Statutory Rules 1918, No. 286.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Orders of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration and other documents, in connexion with plaints submitted by -
The Australian Commonwealth Post and Telegraph Officers’ Association (dated 1st November, 1918).
The Postal Sorters’ Union of Australia (dated 1st November, 1918).
– I ask the Minister for Works and Railways whether it is cor- . rect that at the Flinders Naval Base an avenue of pines, nearly 8 miles long, has been planted, but that the work has been rendered useless by the growth of the. surrounding scrub, which is now higher than the trees? Is it correct also that many tools and other plant which were in good condition have been destroyed by fire, and that water is being carted from Mordialloc to Crib Point, a distance of about 25 miles, although there is plenty of roof catchment, and tanks are on the spot, though they have not been put into their places?
– Probably the honorable member’s question is based on statements that have been published, and in. regard to which I have called for a report. It would be better before publishing allegations of this nature, to make inquiry of the Department, so that inaccurate information might not be disseminated.
Elder Smith and Company
– Is it a fact that Messrs. Elder Smith and Company have been appointed by the Government to be the sole purchasers of tin in Australia, and that recently they have declined to purchase tin?
– The Government has had nothing to do with the appointment of Messrs. Elder Smith and Company as purchasers of tin. The Allied Tin Executive, recently formed in Britain and France, appointed the firm as its agent, but I have no information as to what it is doing.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation if he is aware that, at the School of Mines, at Ballarat, there are instructors for training soldiers in fitting, but, although weeks have passed, no tools have been supplied, so that the men are wasting their time. Is he also aware that typewriters were sent some weeks ago, and rooms engaged, so that men might have commercial instruction, but that instructors have not yet been sent, and, consequently, the men are walking about the streets doing nothing?
– If the honorable member will give me a statement inwriting, I shall send it on to the Minister for Repatriation this afternoon. Otherwise, I shall direct the attention of the Minister to the matter as soon as I get my Hansard proof to-morrow.
– Can the Minister acting for the Minister for the Navy give the House any information respecting the negotiations for the reduction of freights on cargo between England and Australia ?
– Under instructions from Mr. Larkin, our general manager, the freight on wheat has been reduced by 30s. per ton, and there has been a general reduction of 25 per cent. on freight from the Old Country. The Overseas Shipping Committee, and the Australian Shipping Committee are further considering the subject of freight charges generally. I shall be able to give further information later.
– The Acting Prime Minister has stated publicly, and has also informed me privately, that until the Public Service Act is amended in regard -to the observance of certain holidays, its existing provisions must be honoured. As considerable perturbation exists in the General Post Office, Brisbane, owing to the fact that to-morrow is a declared public ‘holiday throughout the State, will the Postmaster-General arrange that the employees in the Post Office, Brisbane, shall receive consideration in connexion with that holiday?
– The existing law is being carried out, and under that law a holiday for to-morrow cannot be granted. Differentiation cannot be allowed between employees in Queensland and those in other States.
– I have received a lettergram from the postal electricians in Brisbane requesting me to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether it will not be possible for them to join with the other inhabitants of Queensland to-morrow in the general celebration of the signing of the armistice. I make that appeal to the Acting Prime Minister in the same way as I previously appealed to him in regard to the holiday on Melbourne Show Day. On that occasion, although ithad been decided that the postal officials should return to work, the Acting Prime Minister said that he was willing that the previous arrangement for “the observance of the holiday should stand. I ask him now whether it will serve any useful purpose to force the Brisbane employees to go back to work to-morrow when all the other inhabitants will be enjoying a holiday?
– To the answer already given by the Postmaster-General I can only .-ada that the :arrangements for holidays ‘between :the States .and “the ‘Commonwealth are very unsatisfactory. .Different days are observed :in- various parts of the .Commonwealth, and some ‘months ago. Cabinet, after consultation with :the Public Service Commissioner, determined to make ihe ‘holidays uniform throughout the Commonwealth, .by Statute. That decision was communicated to the Public Service Commissioner, -who naturally began to operate -it; but when a question was raised in regard to the holiday for Melbourne Show Day, I saw that an anomaly might be created if Cabinet dispensed with the existing law. I accordingly ruled, ‘for the guidance of the Departments that, until the law was changed by Statute, the existing conditions must be observed. That decision gave the men a holiday in Melbourne on ‘Show Day, but the operation of the same law will deprive the employees in’ -Brisbane of a holiday to-morrow
– “Why? ‘The Queensland Government “have declared a .public holiday to-morrow.
– iTo-morrow.is not a holiday -usually observed. Melbourne -Show Day was such a ‘holiday.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral received the report Ihe expected in -regard -to the :holidays ron which telephonists weise at ‘work ?
– I require a report from .each State, and it takes some -time to ..get -one ,fr.om Western Australia. I cannot act until fall .the .replies -are ‘to band.
– In view of the great and increasing .congestion .at the .Norwood Post-office on .the days on which pensions are paid, will the PostmasterGeneral , give early consideration .to a suggestion I made on a .previous .occasion, to set aside .a certain day each .fortnight for the payment of old-rage .and invalid pensions, and .another .day .for the payment of war .pensions.?
– Soon after -the honorable member mentioned this matter previously, .shelter .accommodation for the pensioners was ‘provided at Norwood. His other .suggestion in .regard to the setting aside of certain days for the payment -of different classes of pensions has not yet been adopted, but I shall take -immediate steps to see if effect can the given to it.
– In view of the ‘fact that mothers of deceased ^soldiers : can .. obtain war pensions only on two conditions, namely - (1) that of dependence on the late son during the twelve months prior.’to enlistment-; and (.2) being without adequate means of support, will the Treasurer request the Cabinet to consider the payment of pensions on the basis of the “age of a soldier at the time of his death?
– I should not like to give an affirmative answer to that question; the suggestion may involve a considerable change ; but I -desire to intimate to the House .generally that ‘the pensions are :to be transferred, -as is .generally desired by the Legislature, to .the .Repatriation Department.
– No, jio,; Parliament was not unanimous on that point.
– I, do not -.think there can be unanimity on anything in this -House.
–Order ! Questions may not be debated.
– There -may be something in the suggestion made :by the honorable member for Melbourne, and. I shall refer it ‘to the Minister .chiefly concerned, .and confer with him about it.
– I ask the .Assistant Minister for Defence whether any .consideration has been given by the Defence Department, or any arrangements made, by which men whose claims to be re- turned .to Australia on account of hardship were not strong enough to be successful prior to the signing of the .armistice, shall -receive preferential treatment in connexion with the ordinary repatriation .of soldiers-?
Mir. ‘WISE. - I shall submit the question -to ‘the Minister Tor “Defence, -and furnish the honorable mem’ber with -a reply .to-morrow.
– Does the embargo still exist, in regard to investments in Aus.t tralia .? Is it still the rule that any person or persons’ desirous of investing money in businesses or industries must submit their proposals to the strict scrutiny of an officer of the Treasury ? If so, will the Government remove the embargo now that the war. is practically over?
– The Capital’ Regulations still exist, and I think will require to exist so long as we are raising heavy loans for war and repatriation purposes.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation yet’ received a definite answer to a question I have twice asked, as to whether arrangements have been made with, the Victorian Government to place soldier owners or lessees on private land, in the same position as soldiers taking up land under the Crown ? The whole of private land settlement is at a standstill until we can secure the co-operation of’ the States in that direction.
– I. have not had: a. reply yet;- but I shall communicate further with the Minister, and endeavour to expedite the matter.
– The Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt’) will remember that, on 1st November last, I put to him. a. ques-tion regarding the sale of Australian copper. He then said he had no further cable news- about the matter, but that, in effect, the position was . that the British Government declined to purchase Australian copper after 31st December next. Further, he stated that the Government would have arrangements made for the financing of the unsold products of our copper mines for, at least, the first three months of the new year, or, in other words, until the end of March next. I desire to. ask the honorable gentleman, since there is some doubt on the point, what he meant by his statement in regard to financing the unsold products of our copper mines? Will he state what price is to be paid per ton by the Government, and what information, if any, he has- received by- cablegram, since 1st instant, in regard to the copper position?
– In. order to afford the honorable member the- information he der sires,. I. shall have” to go back a little further than the 1st November, on which date he addressed his question to me; With the expiration of the copper contract on 30th June last, there followed several months of grave uncertainty in the copper world. Although the war was still going on, there was no assurance ofany kind that the British authorities would feel disposed to renew ‘or extend the contract. Eventually the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) was- able, as I said yesterday, to induce, 1 think, the Munitions Department to extend the contract to the 3 1st December of this year. During those three or four months of uncertainty, we were obliged to call- together the larger - copper producers, and to explain to them how serious would be the position if the small as well as the large copper mines were closed down. The metallurgical’ adviser to the Government (Sir John Higgins) was- then able to induce the principal copper- producers to finance the- smaller producers- through that, period of trouble. When it seemed likely that we would not be; able te renew the contract over 1919, and knowing, as we did, that by the- end; ofl October the mines would begin to feel the pressure caused by uncertainty, as to whether we would be able to make a new contract, I asked Sir John Higgins to make a similar - arrangement to that: made during this- year. He assures- me that he has been able to do so. I have not entered’ into the exact details; because neither the Commonwealth Bank, nor the Commonwealth Treasury are parties to the transaction. It is a mutual, cooperative arrangement for temporarily financing the large and small producers alike.
– As between the larger companies ?
– And the smaller com- panies. The’ larger companies have means of assisting the smaller one3. The arrangement was then, and is no doubt now, on the basis of a payment of 80 per cent. on the copper contract prices. If my honorable friend desires further information as to how the arrangement is operating, I shall be able to obtain it for him by the end of this week.
– In view of the necessity for the further encouragement of our primary and secondary industries, I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether the Government will consider the advisableness of asking the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) at an early date to” enter into negotiations with a view to purchasing from manufacturers in Great Britain the machinery necessary to duplicate our existing plants for the manufacture of woollen cloth?
– I have had no request of the kind from the manufacturers of woollen cloth. If such a request be made by them it will be considered on its merits.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) despatch a cablegram to the Government of the United States of America, asking for all particulars in regard to its schemes for the insurance of soldiers, pensions for. soldiers and’ their dependants, and any information it can supply in regard to its repatriation proposals ?
– The honorable member, I think, asked me a somewhat similar question earlier in the year. I then replied that through the agency of the Victorian State Insurance Office we had been able to obtain all the information we thought necessary.
– That related only to the question of insurance.
– I shall ascertain whether any further provision in reference to repatriation has since been made.
– Has the Postmaster-General (Mr. Webster) seen a statement issued by authority of’ the
Returned Soldiers Association in Sydney with reference to the employment of returned soldiers in temporary work in the Postal Department; and, if so, has he any explanation to offer ?
– I have not seen the statement referred to, but if the honorable member will submit it to me it shall have consideration.
Treatment of Soldiers
– I desire to ask the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) a question that seems to be urgent, in regard to the treatment of returned soldiers at the Quarantine Station in Sydney. A letter came into my hand to-day, dated the 24th of this month, written by a private soldier, and I should like to read the following extract : - . . Well, fancy us landed back in Australia again, and in such style. Things are serious, though, here on North Head, and a good many chaps are pretty crook. Personally, I spend most of my time working my nut to get something to eat. …
We had an awful time on the Medio. Nearly 200 patients were lying on the dirty troop deck, or in hammocks, while the old boat was rolling so much that the movement made one’s head ache worse, while all we had for meals was dry stale bitter bread, cut thick, with a scraping of doubtful butter. . .
We have a good army of about thirty sisters now, and they are doing their best to make our lives happy, but they find it hard to make bread out of stones.
I think the Minister will agree that this matter requires looking into, and I ask him to take immediate steps to see that this state of affairs is remedied.
– I shall have immediate inquiries made into the allegations contained in the letter, so far as they affect the quarantine authorities. If the Defence Department is also concerned, I shall ask the authorities there to also make inquiries.
– I desire to ask the
Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) a question relating to the position the Commonwealth has patriotically assumed in the past of offering to our Allies certain of our products under the world’s price, perhaps in return for their purchasing other products like wheat which the Allies could not use. In view of the inability of the Allies at present to take certain products, will the Acting Prime Minister reconsider the equity or otherwise of Australia selling under the world’s price those commodities which the rest of the world wants?
– The honorable member addresses his question in general terms, and I presume he refers to all kinds of products, including foodstuffs. In regard to certain lines, negotiations have been proceeding, and I do not think we are entitled to ask the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) to direct them elsewhere. In reference to certain other lines, the negotiations have not yet failed, but we have not got much satisfaction. As I indicated a moment ago in regard to copper, if it be plain that the British authorities do not wish to give us an extended contract, I think it will be our duty to see if we cannot sell to Allied peoples, so as to keep our industries going. In some cases we are about reaching that decision, but other cases, I think, will have to wait for some weeks.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) cable to the Prime Minister, asking for a confirmation, or otherwise, of the cabled announcement that certain metals, copper amongst them, will be free in the Allied markets? If that information is available, will the honorable gentleman allow the companies to make the necessary arrangements for their products?
– I could not make a promise of that kind without considering the effects. I have noted what has been said in the press, but I have no official confirmation. If I do” not get that official confirmation I shall wire for it very shortly.
– Yesterday the fact was brought under my notice that a number of tin mines have been closed down, and people thrown out of employment, owing to the impossibility of disposing of the product. Will the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) make inquiries as to whether it is a fact that Messrs. Elder, Smith, and Company, who are the sole purchasers of tin in Australia, are not making purchases at the present time?
– I think this matter was dealt with in a previous question, though in a somewhat different form. I have heard rumours to the effect stated by the honorable member, and I have already given instructions to ascertain the facts; beyond this, I cannot speak.
Postal Holiday in Queensland.
– ‘Saturday is proclaimed a public holiday in Queensland to celebrate the conclusion of the war. I should like to know whether the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Webster) will consider the propriety of giving the postal servants a holiday on that day, along with other members of the Commonwealth Public Service?
– Saturday is a holiday in the Federal Departments in Queensland, in accorda*nce with the law and previous Cabinet decision, and it will be so regarded and observed this week.
– Having in view that the sun-kissed fruits of Queensland are pre-eminently suited for jam making, and that the jam-makers of that State’ place on the market a product second to none, will the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene), when entering into future contracts with the Imperial or other Governments, see that Queensland receives its right quota, and not, as in the past, a meagre portion of the total amount?
– If there are any future contracts let through the Commonwealth Government, and I remain in my present position, I shall be glad to see that Queensland gets her full share. I shall be pleased to communicate to the Minister for Trade and Customs, in due time, the question of the honorable member, with, a view to Queensland always getting’ her full’ share of anything that, is going.
– I desire to know whether the increase in the price of butter, announced in to-day’s press, is the result of the- recommendation of officers of the Price-fixing- Department, based on inquiry made by the price-fixing officials?
– It is the result of inquiries made by the Government in many directions in regard’ to the prospects generally and the result of the season so far.
– Will the Minister lay on the table of the Library all papers, reports,, and written information he may have on which the price, of butter has been increased?
– There is- no objection to. doing so.
– Has any consideration been given again to the margin of profit allowed to: retail grocers on their sales of sugar?-. The: margin of profit is admittedly notoriously inadequate, and if the matter- has not: yet. been, considered^ will it receive the attention of the Government?
– The Minister forPrice Fixing has arranged that matter. I understand that, at the wish of the Cabinet, the whole question was reviewed, but whether any arrangement was made or not I am not. aware.
Factories and Co-operative Woollen Mills- Position of Demobilized Recruits - Conference of DeputyComptrollers - Brisbane Staff.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
Whether he will assist returned soldiers who are incapacitated from following their ordinary avocation by the establishment of a pearl-shell button and ornament factory in Western Australia, and also make the manufacture of such goods an industry for which returned soldiers would have a monopoly in Australia?’
– The Minister for Repatriation is inquiring into the possibilities of the suggested industry, and is now awaiting advice from abroad.
asked the Minister representing the- Minister for. Repatriation, upon notice -
Will the Minister consider the advisability of initiating the building of co-operative woollen mills in the- various States, returned soldiers and their families to be the- only shareholders and, employees- other than the superintending staff, the Department retaining sufficient, control until the capital has been repaid?
– The Minister, for Repatriation will willingly consider any practical proposalwhich.may be submitted to- this end;
asked, the Minister representing’ the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
Whether those men who were discharged from the- Australian- Imperial Force consequent: on demobilization will be entitled to the benefits of the repatriation scheme on the sameterms as troops that have served oversea?
– Any. of the men. referred to may register for employment without sustenance, while any who may have suffered material prejudice or disability from enlistment are eligible for the full benefits of the repatriation scheme;
– With reference to the question submitted to- me in the House recently by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers), relative to- the calling together of Deputy-Comptrollers, I am in receipt ofthe following reply from the Comptroller of the Department of Repatriation : -
I have to advise that such a conference is not deemed to be necessary for the purposes indicated. It; is, however, intended, to. arrange a conference of Deputy-Comptrollers, when such can be arranged without detriment to the business of the Department. Similar conferences-, of representatives of the State. Boards will bo held from time to time, one conference of the kind already having been held.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– A report is ‘being . called for from the Brisbane office.
asked the Acting Prime
Minister, upon notice -
– Concessions in regard to railway travelling are made by the various State Governments. In States where the relatives are being ‘Carried free to meet the returning Anzacs,they travel first class. Also the men themselves are -granted free first class . ticketsby the various State ‘Go- vernments duringtheirfurlough. The Commonwealth ‘Government has taken as its share thetransportation ofthe troops to Australia, and thepayment to them of an . allowance of 3s. per diem above their pay -.duringthe time they are on furlough.
asked the Assistant Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to. the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Mr.WATT.-The answers tothe honorable -member’s questions . -are as follow: -
asked the Minister for (Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Permanent Positions for Returned Soldiers
asked the PostznasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether the Minister, will favorably consider the question of admitting as permanent employees the 772 returned soldiers who are employed as temporary assistants, postmen, and mail-drivers by allowing them to compete in the periodical examinations?
– The Acting Public Service Commissioner has furnished the following information: -
There are 146 existing vacancies in the positions named, while 396 permanent officers of those designations whose positions have been filled are on active service, and must be provided with positions upon their return to Australia. In addition, there is a large number of similar officers on active service, whose positions have been kept open for them, and who will replace temporary employees upon their return to duty. In the circumstances it is not seen that any provision can be made for the permanent appointment of the temporary employees referred to.
Second Period offurlough.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will the Minister state whether the Government has decided to adopt the recommendation of the Acting Public Service Commissioner in regard to the second period of furlough, and, if so, will an amendment of the Act be made this session?
– The honorable member is probably not aware that this question has already been answered more than once this session. I recommend my friend to see the answers in Hansard.
asked the Acting-Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The’ answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– Vessels at present trading between Australasia and the United Kingdom are under the control of. the Imperial Government. The fares at present charged were fixed by that Government. Any increased in fares and freights were due to war conditions and risks. No intimation of any proposed reduction in fares has yet been received, but a recent announcement of the British Government indicates that freights have been considerably reduced.
– With reference to the question asked in the House recently by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) relative to the dismissal by the
New South Wales Tramway Department of an employee, I am informed that Senator Millen has directed an inquiry to the Tramway Department.
– Yesterday the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) asked -
I have been supplied with the following information : -
No. 1.- (a) 356,800 bushels at 6s.1½d.; (b) 106,400 bushels at 6s. 4½d.; (c) nil between 6s.1½d. and6s. 4½d.
No. 2.- (a) 113,900 bushels at 5s.; (b.) 15,680 bushels at 6s. 10d.; (c) 1,260,187 bushels between’ these prices.
No. 3.- (a) 94,154 bushels at 7s. c.i.f.; (b) 98,187 bushels at 9s. 9d. c.i.f.; (c) 4,449,835 bushels at between these prices.
No. 4.- (a) 1,150,053 bushels at 5s. 6d.; (b) 4,000,000 bushels at 5s. 7½d.; (c) nil between these prices.
Assent to the following Bills reported : -
Control of Naval Waters Bill.
Service and Execution of Process Bill.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
When moving in Committee of Ways and . Means for an appropriation for the purposes of the Bill, I had not at hand the information necessary to put the proposals of the Government fully and accurately before honorable members, and this afternoon I desire to briefly inform the
House what those proposals are, and what are our reasons for making them. This is not the first time that a bounty has been given for the encouragement of the galvanized and black sheet industry. In 1908 the Manufacturers’ Encouragement Act provided for a bounty of 10 per cent. on the value of galvanized iron, or plate iron, or steel, whether corrugated or not, made from Australian ore. The operation of the bounty was extended by the Manufacturers’ Encouragement Act of 1912, and thus made operative for a period of five and a half years, namely, from 1st January, 1909, to the 30th June, 1914. The bounty, however, had not the desired result. The amount of the bounty paid in 1908-9 was £192; in 1909-10, £287; and in 1910-11, £118. Since then nothing has been paid.
– According to Mr. Knibbs, the payments for the years mentioned were £192, £287, and £121, and in 1911-12 £74 was paid. Mr. Knibbs’ statistics make the total payments £77 more than is shown by the Minister. This difference, however, is immaterial.
– ‘The difference, is immaterial; but I think that the information supplied by the Customs officials is the more likely to be right. Obviously, the bounty had not the effect of fostering the industry. This need not discourage us from making another attempt to establish it. Messrs. Hoskins, to whom the bounty was paid, were experimenting with a small and somewhat inferior plant; certainly, it was not a plant constructed on modern lines, and did not give them any chance of competing under the then conditions of the world’s market. I hope that the bounty now proposed will have the effect of establishing firmly a most important industry.
– It would be as well to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– To show to what, extent the iron and tin-plate industry is capable of development in this country, I wish to inform honorable members that, in the year 1913 - -which was the last full pre-war year - there was imported into Australia over 1,000,000 cwt. of corrugated galvanized iron over 1,000,000 cwt’. o£ galvanized iron which was not corrugated) and about , the same quantity of plain iron, not galvanized. Altogether, nearly 3,500,000” cwt. of iron, such as we hope- to have manufactured in Australia, was imported, at a- total cost of over £2j500,000. The normal importation, imto Australia of corrugated’ galvanized, iron;, galvanized iron not corrugated, andi black-: plain sheets is’ 170,000 tons per annum.
– Was that the average prewar importation ?
– The estimate iS based’ on the figures” for 1913, which I’ judge to be a fair basis.. During the” war; our importations fell’ considerably, because we could not get. what ‘we. needed’,, and. the price of the imported article rose tremendously.
– The price of the locally-made wire-netting rose just as much.
– In most cases, there was an enormous, increase in the price of the raw materials from which the netting was made. Had. we had established at the outbreak of war an industry capable of meeting our requirements during the war period, we should have been repaid many times over for any encouragement that we might have given for its establishment.
– It ought to have Been done years ago.
– I agree with the honorable member. I intimated the other day that the bounty will provide a basisfor the tin-plate- industry, inasmuch as it will be available in connexion with black sheets) which are eventually manufactured into the tin. plates of commerce-.. During 1913) we imported’ 624’,000 cwt.. of tin plates, at a cost of £527’,000; in 1914-15, we imported’ 7X8,000 cwt., costing” £555,000; and. in 1915-16, 871,000 cwt, costing” £832;000. In 1916-17, our importation “was’ 823;000 Cwt., costing £l,330j000 ;. and) in 1917-18, 430,000. cwt., costing £7S6)000. The- cost of tin plates” a. little more than doubled’ during the war. period.. I allude, of course, to the invoice cost as shown in the Customs records, not to the landed cost.
– Does the Bill provide for a bounty” on tin plates?
– No, but it does provide for a bounty on black sheets, which are the basis of the tin-plate industry. The- black sheet is rolled and tinned in tha same way, as it is galvanized, the only difference between the two being in. the thickness of the plates, and1 the more’ elaborate process required to produce- theblack, sheets for tinning:
– What is the thickness- of: the ordinary sheet for tinning?
– I should” think about onethirty’ffourth of an inch?.
– Less than that. There is 3t to 4: per cent, of tin* in t cwt. of. plates.
– The Bill’ provides: that, the sheet shall be less than one-sixteenth, of an inch.
– Yes; we do not con- ‘sider it necessary at the present time to pay. a. bounty on thicker, sheets.. When the freights fall it may. be necessary to propose further protection, but the Government are anxious to have this industry established at. the earliest possible moment’, and, therefore, before re-open? ing the Tariff for. the; consideration, of tha general, protection of. industries- we suggest that a bounty shall- be- given in regard to this particular industry. I intimated the other day that the Government had been more particularly moved to deal, with the industry by the representations made to them by a large firm which hitherto has imported nearly all Australia’s- supplies- of! galvanized! iron. I referred to- Messrs-. Lysaght? and’ Company, who are the largest importers of galvanized iron in the’ Commonwealth.
– There are two firms of . that name.
– There, is the- firm of Lysaght and- Company, who- are- wire1 drawers, and the other firm of Lysaght, and. Company, importers. o£ galvanized iron. Although both firms bear the same name, they are” in no way associated”, and the” principals; so far” as- they know, have- no- blood’ relationship. In July; 191-7, Messrs-. Lysaght and Company re’ presented to the Government that they would be prepared to establish works at Newcastle if the- Commonwealth would give them some encouragement. The negotiations continued for some time, and early this year we askedthe Board of Trade to consider the proposal. A subcommittee of the Board, over which I had the honour to preside, was appointed to investigate the matter, and after several interviews with Messrs. Lysaght and Company we came to anunderstanding, upon which the Bill is based. It provides for a total protection of £510s. per ton on the Englishprice. In the first instance, Messrs. Lysaght and Company asked for considerably more protection than that, but, as a result of the negotiations, they eventually agreed to the proposal embodied in the Bill. Taking itall round, I believe that it affords adequate protection, and gives the manufacturer all the encouragement he requires.
– I thinkwe should have aquorum, if these empty benches indicate what the House thinks of Pro tection we should shut up. [Quorum formed. ]
– Of course, the bounty will be payable to any manufacturer who, during the period for which it operates, produces any of the articles to which it applies, and 1 have not the slightest doubt that Messrs. Hoskins and Company, of Lithgow, will press ahead with some of the works they propose to erect, and will receive portion of the bounty that will be payable for the manufacture of plain and galvanized iron.
I think I have shown that the industry is of sufficient importance, and that the prospects of its successful establishment in Australia are bright enough to justify the Government in submitting this proposal to Parliament. I wish to refer briefly to the majority report of the Inter-State Commission which investigated this subject in 1914, and to compare its recommendations with the provisions of the Bill -
The Inter-State Commission’s inquiry was made when freights were normal, ranging from 22s. 6d. to 27s. 6d. per ton, and averaging about 25s. per ton. Of course, the freight constitutes an additional protection. Whilst we can only guess what the future holds in store, yet the Government and Messrs. Lysaght and Company were firmly of the opinion that during the currency of this bounty freights are not likelyto fall below £2 10s. perton.That freight is the basis of the proposals which are contained in the Bill. By adding that freightto the rates of bounty mentioned in the (Bill, honorable members will find that in every case the proposals of the
Government are slightly in excess of those recommended by the Inter-State Commission.
– How does the honorable member make up the total protection of £5 10s. per ton?
– Bounty , duty,and freight make a totalprotection against the United Kingdom of £5 10s. per ton. The bounty is payable conditionally upon certain freights being charged, and, taking all the factors into consideration, the Board of Trade regarded the total protection proposed as being £5 10s. per ton against the United Kingdom.
– What percentage duty would that mean?
– Assuming that the f.o.b. price after the war is £20 per ton, it would be roughly 27 per cent. or 28 per cent.
– But will it be £20 per ton after the war?
– It is difficult to say what the price will be. Before the war the landed cost in Australia was somewhere in the vicinity of from £18 to £20 per ton. The market varied from time to time.
The impression we have formed is that, having regard to the very sharp rise in wages which has taken place in manufacturing centres in Europe, America, and elsewhere during the war, it is not at all likely that wages there will drop to any great extent in the near future. Our belief is that the wages and industrial conditions of other European, countries will more closely approximate to our own in the future than has hitherto been the case.
– We hope so.
– The industrial conditions of our workers, taking them all in all, are perhaps amongst the best in the world,and we can only hope that the same conditions will obtain elsewhere. I feel that it is not at all likely - and this view is shared by a large number of gentlemen with whom I have been in contact of late - that many of the commodities that we imported at particularly cheap rates prior to the war will fall to their old level for many a long day. it, indeed, they ever do. That in itself means an additional protection. If it be said that our view is too optimistic my reply is that it is shared, by the men who propose to engage in this industry. Messrs. Lysaght tell us that they are prepared at once to lay down at Newcastle a plant capable of turning out 20,000 tons a year. Although that will not be sufficient to supply Australia’s requirements, it will at least be a good beginning. If it proves successful, as 1 hope it will, it will lead to the establishment of other works of a, similar kind in the near future.
Let me turn for a moment or two to the actual provisions of the Bill. Honorable members will have noticed that in this Bill we have incorporated the principle found in practically every other measure providing for the payment of a bounty that the bounty shall be payable in the first place only on galvanized iron and black sheets produced from Australian iron and steel.
– Clause 3 gives power to pay the bounty on galvanized iron and black sheets produced from imported material.
– Should circumstances arise which lead the Minister administer - ing the Act to believe that it is desirable that the bounty should be given in respect of material manufactured from imported blooms, he will have power under that clauseto pay it. The clause was inserted with a definite object in view. The Government recognise that there are not many manufacturers of iron and steel blooms in Australia.
– There are only two.
– Quite so, and it is possible that there may be three’ manufacturers of galvanized iron. I do not say that any of the firms at present engaged in the production of iron and steel here will attempt anything of the kind, but some firms engaged in the industry might set to work to ‘ ‘ squeeze ‘ ‘ the manufacturers of galvanized iron.
– Mr. Hoskins and the Broken Hill Company are producing their own blooms. Does this clause mean that the Minister might allow the third manufacturer to import his blooms and to get the same amount of bounty in respect of galvanized iron and black sheet produced from those blooms?
– The Minister administering the Act would have to be satisfied first of all that the industry could not be carried on successfully without the importation of blooms.
– The Government want this power in order to check monopoly.
– That is the only, reason for the clause. I think it is a safe provision to make, and one which the Minister for Trade and Customs, whoever he may be, can be trusted to administer in the interests of the Commonwealth. The manufacturers, whoever they may be, should be given this protection.
– Does the honorable gentleman speak of the manufacturer as distinct from the ironmaster?
– Yes. We have not only tried to protect the manufacturer of galvanized iron and black sheets by providing in this way for the payment of bounty ; but, in order to protect the public, we have introduced a principle that is entirely new to-this class of legislation. We have inserted a clause setting forth that no bounty shall be paid to any manufacturer who is making more than 15 per cent, on his enterprise. It the industry is paying so well that a manufacturer can make 15 per cent, on his enterprise, no bounty, in our opinion, should be paid.
– Would not 10 per cent, be sufficient ?’
– I think not. Any one establishing a perfectly new industry has to take very considerable risks.
– But the firms who propose to manufacture galvanized iron and black sheets have other branches of industry, so that they might profess to make a failure in respect of this industry and boom up their profits in respect of their other branches.
– The Bill provides that the whole of the books and accounts of any firm claiming this bounty shall be open to the inspection of the Government auditors. The honorable gentleman (Mr. Tudor) knows that commercial firms deal separately in their books and accounts with every branch- of industry in which they engage. Costing sheets are made out, and they can tell exactly what profit every branch of their business is yielding. The particular firm- that is going to establish these works on a large scale - I refer to Messrs. Lysaght - have nothing whatever to do with the Broken Hill Company, from which they will obtain their raw material, the steel blooms. The business will stand by itself, and presumably the books and accounts kept by Messrs. Lysaght will show the whole of their operations. It will be open for the Government at any time to ascertain exactly what their profits are on this class of manufacture. The Government feel that a liberal rate of profit should be permitted so as to afford the necessary encouragement; but if these manufacturers charge for their finished products prices which enable them to earn more than 15 per cent, it will not be fair for them to ask for the bounty.
– I agree with the principle, although I think the Government have made the rate of profit too high’.
– Our object is to protect the public in two ways. In the first place, if the charges to the public are equitable and the business of the manufacturer is so prosperous that he can earn 15 per cent, on his enterprise, be does not want the bounty. On the other hand, if he is not doing too well and raises his charges against the public to too great an extent, with the result that he makes more than 15 per cent., he will not receive any bounty.
I do not know that I need refer at any length to the other provisions of the Bill. It will have been noticed that the employees in the industry are fully protected under clause 10, which embodies a salutary principle that has been included in most of our Bounty Acts. I desire now only to refer to the schedule where we have laid .down the principle that the bounty shall be paid only in the event of freights falling below £4 10s. The view of the Board of Trade in making this recommendation, and of the Government in adopting it, was that whilst freights remained high there was no necessity to pay the bounty.
– For every shilling below £4 10s. by which freights fall a proportionate amount- of bounty will be paid to the manufacturers?
– Yes, the manufacturers will receive a corresponding amount of bounty until they get down to £2 10s. We have provided that the Board ot Trade in London shall be the determining authority in regard to the question of freights and shall intimate to the Government, quarter by quarter, what the rate of freight from the United Kingdom is. The rate of freight mentioned in the schedule is the United Kingdom freight. That is the basis we have adopted. The Board of Trade in London will advise us what the normal freight is. An odd shipment might come out at a lower freight, but that is a contingency that we cannot avoid. .
– Is this to include insurance as well ? ‘
– No, it relates only to freight. We thought it only fair in the circumstances to give the manufacturers the benefit of insurance and commission charges.
Speaking generally,. I think the Bill is safeguarded in every possible way. It makes adequate provision for the establishment of the industry, and the Government have the satisfaction of knowing that when the Bill becomes law at least one large firm, which hitherto has carried on its operations in’ another part of ‘the world, and has imported its manufactured product into this country, will establish large works in our midst and start at ‘once to manufacture the ^finished article from Australian raw .material.
.- I asked’ the Minister ‘(Mt. ‘Greene) .whether he was prepared to -agree to ‘the adjournment of the -debate inasmuch- as it was hardly ‘fair to expect honorable members to proceed at once to -discuss ‘the detailed information and figures which he had -supplied in connexion with this important measure. ‘He advised me, however, that ‘he -and his colleague, the Acting Attorney1General (Mr. Groom) were -very anxious to proceed at once with the d eba’ te. To ..that 1 have-no “objection. I do mot mind continuing -the debate, but it- may be that some ‘honorable members who have not looked -‘into this question for- themselves are placed in a difficult position. 1 have, ‘perhaps, one advantage in that I was here at the commencement of the Commonwealth Parliament, when the first proposal was made to establish this industry. ‘On looking round the chamber, I can -see only one ot “two other honorable members who are -similarly circumstanced. When the late Mr. Kingston, in 1902, proposed to bring in a Bill for a bounty on pig iron, Mr. Chris. Watson, the then Leader of the Labour party, moved, and carried, a proposal that the Bill be referred to a .Select Committee. Of that Committee .the only members remaining in the Parliament are the present Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), the present Attorney-General (Mr. Groom), and the honorable member, for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins). That Committee brought in a report -recommending that “the States should do this work, and that the bounty be paid only to a State institution; but nothing- further -was done in the matter until 1908, when, at the instance of the late Sir William Lyne, the Manufactures Encouragement Act “was passed. That Act provided a total . amount of £150,000 to provide a bounty of .12s. per “ton on pig iron made from Australian ore, 12s. per ton on. puddled bar iron made from Australian pig iron, and 12s. per ton on steel made from Australian -pig iron. It will be seen that under that Act it was possible for a man to receive bounty-‘up to 36s. on the same ton of steel in the three forms of pig iron, puddled bar iron, and steel. I regard the Bill before us as a much better measure than that to which T now refer. “The Bill of 1908 .was amended in 1912, when I was the Minister in ‘charge, and some of the ‘provisions were altered; -the amount - of 12s. “wasreduced to 5s., and provision was-made for the transfer, if required by the “State, of any land and ‘buildings, &c, required ‘for the manufacture. First class ‘pig iron and galvanized iron, plain or corrugated, made from Australian ore, were placed- on *n percentage basis of 10 ‘per -cent, on tike value, so’ that the higher- :the manufacturer kept the value the moire ‘bounty he obtained. The Bill before us is, I think, preferable, because ‘we do not ‘ throw on the manufacturer -the “responsibility of -keeping the price down, but leave it to -the ;’Board of Trade to make known the a’verage normal freight during the quarter on which the bounty is to -be paid.
– What was the bounty on pig iron? “Mr. TUDOR.- The whole of the particulars are set out in the Official Yearbook, No. 10, on pages 432 arid 433. The whole of the £150,00.0, which, by the Act, was devoted to the “bounty, was paid ..out between 1908 and .1915. The bounty paid on pig iron made from .Australian ore for the half-year ending 30th June, 1909, -was ^£2,314.; for 1909-10 it was £23,510; for 1910-11 it was.£20,462 ; for 1911-12 it was £155611; for 1912-13 it .was. £16,949 ; for 19.13-14 it was £40,121; and for. 1914-15. £31,S13. Of course, since then there has hean the advantage in the freight.. This bounty has, in my opinion, more than justified the expenditure. Had the gal.vanizediron industry been, in existence on- .a similar basis, we- should probably have saved, in the decreased price, four or five times the amount of the bounty.
– We should certainly have saved £1,000,000.
– Probably- more. ‘ If Honorable members will’ look- up the statis-tics which are provided: by the CustomsDepartment, and compare- the price of pig iron and steel rails four or five years: ago with the price to-day; they- will see that the increase is- nothing, when, we have regard’ to the increase in the price of galvanized iron. The freight on one should not be cheaper- than the freight on* the other, though it may; perhaps, be cheaper on- pig; iron, because’ it is more easily handled:
Mi-. McWilliams - It is cheaper: onsteel rails, which .are largely used as ballast.
– Not much cheaper; I think galvanized iron came out at much about the same rate as steel rails before the war. In 1916 the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) stated that he had. agreed with the British Government to send over 12;000 tons of steel rails. It is well known that the completion of the EastWest railway was hung up because we were sending rails overseas. At least, one institution has been brought into existence by the bounty, and it may have helped the Broken Hill Proprietary, though I do not* know that that company has drawn any money: I remember, that, the honorable member- for- Melbourne Ports (Mr: Mathews) complained that engineers- were being thrown out of WOrK in Australia owing to the fact that these rails were being- sent overseas, and, certainly, at least 10,000 tons were- so sent.
There is no doubt that the freight’ has been a better protection,. and given greater assistance than any bounty. If the people who are going into this galvanized iron industry were- sure that the price would keep up to half the average price–
– I say that if they were satisfied the price would keep to half the average since January, 1915,- they could snap their fingers at any bounty.
– That would’ make the houses dear houses; it is about £80 per ton.
– The Minister” told us that the price is about £.100 per ton.
– - I said that galvanized iron. had. been sold up to £100.
Me TUDOR. - I -think we may say that during, the last two years- the: average, price- has been- nearly £80;. and if those, concerned in the industry were sure -of. -at least £40 at Adelaide, Fremantle,-Hobart Melbourne, Sydney-, and? Brisbane, they, would not require a. bounty..
In the Bounties Act.. of- 1.90.7-8v there were provided bounties on quite a variety of products: including flax,, pea? nut oil, New Zealand flax,, sisal hemp,, linseed, oil,, uncleaned”- rice, rubber,- raw coffee, tobacco leaf, fish, dates,, dried’ fruits, combed wool tops,, and. others..
– What effect had the bounties on the different, industries ?
– Mr. Knibbs, in his little compendium, informs us- that in a number of cases bounty, was. collected. On flax and hemp £77 was paid in one year, and £634 was paid in another. The only products that ran into four and five figures were combed wool tops and pig iron. Other products received bounty in small sums of £2, £3, and £22,- while dried fruits in one-* year was assisted, to the extent of £7,063. I believe” entirely in the bounty principle; but, im my opinion”, it is better to offer a. good bounty to an industry that is- likely to be- successful than to spread the amount, over a whole number of- industries, the prospects of which are not so. good. Speaking! the other night on. the message; I said that we ought to deal with a- bounty more exactly as we.; deal, with the” Tariff - that it; is preferable^ to select articles for which we have the raw material in Australia. For the iron industry we have the limestone, the coal, and: the iron ore.; and. I therefore regard this- Bill as: a step in the right direction.
As the Minister stated, we imported during 1913 - when; we operated on the calendar year^-3,3 13,000 cwt. of corrugated galvanized iron, galvanized iron, and plain sheets,, or practically 1,000,000 cwt. of each, of the value of £ls425,000. Roughly that would be about 50,000 tons of galvanized and corrugated iron, 50,000 tons of galvanized iron, and 50,000 tons of plain sheet’iron. There was a great fear among builders recently that, while they would be able to secure a certain quantity of galvanized iron, and could use tiles for roofing, there would be a scarcity of plain sheet iron for valleys and spouting. The Minister is only providing £100,000 in the way of bounty, but if we provide for only half the annual requirements of Australia, and the producers draw up to the full £2 per ton, the whole of the bounty will be drawn long before the time mentioned in the Bill. We all hope that this will be the case. We trust that we shall do the same as we have been doing in regard to steel rails and pig iron, and in regard to some of the industries to which our Tariff gives special protection. Before the war broke out 95 per cent, of the flannel and blankets used in .Australia were produced in the Commonwealth. I hope that’ the same result will be achieved by the passage of this Bill, and. that very soon Australia will be producing all the corrugated and galvanized iron and the plain sheet iron it requires.
The Minister has directed special attention to clause 9, which provides that it will be impossible to draw any bounty if the firm producing the article makes a profit of 15 per cent. When the Minister has had more experience in the Customs Department, he will know that it is the practice of some big firms to make it appear that the cost of the article imported is lower than it really is. The honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) will bear me out in this. If a firm is established m Great Britain and here, it will allow the Australian house to import the article manufactured in the British house at cost price, so that it can pass through our Customs on a, low aci valorem basis, and so that the firm can make both the British profit and the Australian profit. If a firm makes pig iron and turns it into puddle bar iron, and subsequently into flat plates for galvanizing, and applies for a bounty on the plate or on the galvanized article - I am glad to say that they cannot obtain it in both cases - we have no guarantee, that it may not charge 6d. or 8d. a ton more for getting the coal out of its own mine and turning it into coke, or for getting limestone out of its own quarry. It would take a clever accountant’ to say that it was not doing so. A firm may make it appear that they are making 20 per cent, on the one operation, and only 10 per cent, on the other, whereas, as a matter of fact, they may be actually making 15’ per cent, on either operation.
– Where would be the advantage in giving a bounty on pig iron and puddle to one firm, and a bounty on corrugated iron to another?
– The pig iron bounty has practically run out. Before 1914 it had dropped to 8s. per ton, and the producers were well satisfied. They drew £40,080 in 1913-14, and £31,813 in 1914-15. Of the latter amount, the sum of £19,808 was drawn, at the rate of 8s. per ton. However, I do not think that clause 9 will prove to be workable. I can say from my experience in the Customs Department that if a free article is combined with two dutiable articles, the value of the free article is increased, and. that of the dutiable articles is decreased. The value of the chassis of a motor car is roughly about three-fourths of ..the total value of the car. On a motor car costing about £400 the value of the chassis would be £300. I am talking of pre-war times, when we had a little trouble with some gentlemen, a few of whom got into gaol. 0 The value of the tyres would be £40, and that of the body would be £60. But, instead of valuing the chassis at £300, these gentlemen fixed it at £350, and halved the value of the tyres and body. Honorable members will recollect the trouble we had. It started while I was Minister; it continued whilst the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) was Minister, and I cleaned it up a little later, when I returned to the Department. I think that we collected about £50,000 in the shape of underpaid duty. There will be a tendency to follow the same practice under clause 9. At any rate, I do not think that the provision will tend to bring about honesty of manufacture. The producers will be able to show that they are not making money on the galvanized iron upon which they are drawing a bounty, but that they are making an excessive profit on the earlier stage of manufacture, that of producing pig iron and bar iron.
Clause 3 allows the Minister to agree to the use of imported sheet bar steel for the manufacture of black steel sheets. This provision is included in the Bill in order to prevent firms in Australia from refusing to sell to other people, but I consider that the firm which lays itself out to manufacture the complete article is just as much entitled to protection as is the firm which is only laying itself out to finish the article. I hold no brief for the Broken Hill Company or for Hoskins Limited - I have said some hard things about them; but if either of these firms is fully employed on general work, and is turning out only 20,000 tonsof pig iron, just sufficient for the requirements of its own mills, is it right for us to say to it, “ You must cease manufacturing plates for shipbuilding or steel rails; you must make so many blooms, and turn them into bars in order to supply the requirements of these other people “ ? “We might just as well go to a boot manufacturer and ask him to make 1,000 pairs of boots, but not to complete them, but to allow some one else to finish them off. He would at once object, because it would mean that he would have to keep his own finishers standing idle. We might just as well ask a hat manufacturer to make 1,000 bodies, and allow another firm to block and trim them, and, in fact, finish off the hats.
– But these firms could crush out rivals by refusing to supply them.
– I admit that that could be done. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West)claims that they are doing it to-day. But I am pointing out that there is something to be said on the other side. If a man who has his blast furnace turning out a certain quantity of pig iron, and a mill turning out a certainquantity of blooms and bars, desires to continue the process, he will so arrange his plant in consecutive order that he will have the mill turning out pig iron, blooms, and bars, and, close at hand, the machines for rolling and galvanizing. Yet now we propose to tell him that he must have a furnace large enough to turn out more than he needs for his own requirements, and that he must depend upon another man buying from him.
– We simply state that if he will not supply the other man, we will not allow him to crush the other out of the business.
– If we permit bars to be imported, we shall defeat the object of the Bill, and, in the manufacture of galvanized iron, we shall not be making use of Australian limestone or Australian coal, but will be importing the article in a highly finished state. It is quite possible that clause 3 may defeat the object of theBill. Some of the firms which are making pig iron and steel may be prepared to enter into an agreement with other people to supply their requirements. I hope that such will be the case; but there are dangers in the clause.
Many of us have seen houses where the galvanized roofing has practically rusted through, so that one can thrust his fingers through it as if it were tissue paper. This occurs in places close to the sea, or in localities where smelting works are situated. The chemicals employed . in the smelting operations have this effect, particularly at Queenstown. A letter appeared in this morning’s newspapers from a practical man dealing with this subject, and I would like the Minister to make inquiries into the correctness of the statement the writer has made that galvanized iron lasts longer than galvanized steel.
– That is so.
– The honorable member, as a builder, should know. If we can discriminate, we should give the bounty for the production of the better article. The matter is one into which the Minister should make an inquiry.
– Galvanized steel’ does not last half so long as galvanized iron.
– I hope that the honor’ able member and otherpractical men will give the House the benefit of their knowledge on this subject, so that we may legislate on right lines. I am glad that a Bill to encourage the establishment of another industry which will use Australian raw material has been introduced, because when this industry is established we should be independent of supplies from overseas. Regarding plates for tinning, members who can add anything to our knowledge should do so. A bounty at some future time might make us independent of the supplies that we now get from South Wales; because we have in Australia tin as well as the other raw materials needed. Whether £200,000 is sufficient to do what we need, experience alone can show. I should have liked to see in the Bill a provision similar to that inserted in previous legislation, enabling a State to take over the works if it considered that desirable. Such a provision would have made the limitation of profit unnecessary. I trust that the Bill is a forerunner of others which will place Australian industries on a better footing in the future than they have been. on in the past.
.- I am glad that the measure has been brought forward, because the industry which it seeks to establish is a big industry, and vitally necessary to Australia. Owing to the fact that we were not making tin plates, we had to pay during the war £1,500,000 extra for our supplies of this commodity, that is, not excluding galvanized iron. I am puzzled . to know why the Government propose a bounty for galvanized iron and for plain black sheets. The quantity of black sheets used for ceilings and other purposes is not one-tenth of the quantity made into tin plates, and I would prefer a bounty on tin plates to the bounty on black sheets. If the tinning of black sheets is not done in Australia, we may still be in as bad a position as we are in at present. The production of tin plates is especially needed in a country such as this, which exports great quantities of tinned provisions. Unless we can get a particular quality of tin plate cheaply, we cannot export many of our productions, such as jam, fruit, butter, and meat, in certain forms. Our trade in these lines has expanded greatly during the war. We have established a standard of quality that is generally appreciated, but unless we can obtain tin plates cheaply we cannot hold our foreign markets against competition. Before . the war a 2-lb. jam or fruit container cost to manufacture a little less than1d., and costs now to manufacture between 2½d. and 2¾d.
– I suppose that tin plate must be used for these containers.
– For fruit, certainly. A substitute for tin plate has been sought, but the Committee that investigated the matter recommended a substitute which actually costs more than tin plate. I was inclined to think that clause 3, which allows a manufacturer to use imported’ steel for making galvanized steel and black sheets should be struck out of the Bill; but the Minister’s remarks have gone far to remove my objection to it, though I feel that the permission to import is one that must be given only with the greatest discretion. It would not do to establish an industry here which would , be wholly or largely dependent on other countries for its supply of steel, because we should not then be in a much better position, should war break out again, than we are in at present. There are now, however, only one or two manufacturers of pig iron and steel in Australia, so that it may be necessary at first to give to the makers of steel sheets, black sheets, and galvanized iron the right to import raw material. But the Minister must give permission for this only with very great discretion. It must be our object to establish an industry that will be self-supporting in every particular, from the raw material to the finished product. The bounty, including freight, on galvanized iron, plain and corrugated, is equivalent to a protection of about £5 10s. per ton, according to the Minister. When asking the Committee to confirm the expediency of granting a sum for the purposes of the Bill, the honorable gentleman said that a certain firm had stated that if the protection amounted to £6 per ton, it would commence manufacturing without any bounty at all; but to-day he has said that £5 10s. will be sufficient protection.
The manufacture of thin black sheets for tinning, or for such things as ceilings, will have a protection of only £4. I do not know” the reason for the difference. To my mind, the making of tin plates is of more importance to the primary industries of Australia than is the manufacture of galvanized iron, though I recognise the importance of the latter industry. I ask the Minister to make sure that the proposed bounty is sufficient. Should it not be, he should make arrangements for a bounty equal to that which is to be given for the manufacture of galvanized iron. Encouragement by bounties is preferable to protection by import duties, because the latter in the early stages increases prices to the local consumers. If the cost of tin plates were increased by £5 10s. per ton, the cost of a 2-lb. jam container would be increased by about £d!., and the increase of the jam to the consumer would be considerably greater. As to the provision that a bounty is not to be given to a firm that is making a profit of 15 per cent, on its capital, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) has expressed’ the fear that manufacturers may evade it by false bookkeeping. I have not so much fear of that, but I think that the clause may operate somewhat harshly. If the Minister is willing to define capital as it is denned in the War-time Profits Act, namely, as money employed in the business, I have no objection to urge to the clause. Where a firm is not very highly capitalized, but is using a lot of borrowed money, a profit of 15 per cent. may not amount to much, although 15 per cent, may be a big profit to a firm with a large capital. There are other matters on which I shall speak when the Bill gets into Committee. I congratulate the Government on having chosen this method to encourage the establishment in Australia of a big basic industry. If during the last four years we had had in Australia establishments manufacturing black steel sheets, the country would have been saved fully £1,500,000, because we should have been able to export greater quantities of our primary products - notably, butter, jams, and fruits. Being able to sell at a much lower price than that which we were compelled to quote, we could have increased our exports by probably 100 per cent. I emphasize the fact that it is absolutely necessary to take steps to prevent us finding ourselves in- the same position that we have been in during the war. We must get supplies of tin plates for containers at as cheap a rate as. possible, because upon the price of those containers depends very largely the rate at which we can sell many of our primary products, and the profits which the producers get for their commodities. -
.- I am glad to , add my thanks to the Ministry for having introduced this Bill, and I was glad to listen to the speech of the Minister in introducing it. Iron is the mainstay of science in every country, second only in importance to coal and lime, but I suggest that we ought to include in a Bill of this character two other minerals, known as rare metals, namely, molybdenum and tungsten. In America molybdenum has proved to be more valuable than tungsten, but as the iron and steel masters of that country were more assured of supplies of tungsten, they placed molybdenum at a lower value. Consequently, in 1916., molybdenum was sold at as high a price as £1,792 per ton, and tungsten at £4,480 per ton. In Australia prices have been fixed by law, and molybdenite was sold to the Mother Country at £525 per ton. Tungsten, under the name of wolfram, was sold at as low a price as £210 per ton. The Government would be wise to look into the future. They can purchase molybdenum in its natural and unrefined state of molybdenite cheaper than it can be obtained in any other country in the world. This country produces more than half the world’s total output of molybdenite. If either of these hardening metals were used as an. alloy in iron sheets or wire netting, the galvanizing process could be absolutely eliminated. At Queenstown, Tasmania, I saw galvanized iron sheets on the houses which, owing to the action of the fumes from the Mount Lyell mines, had a life of only five years ; but if those sheets were alloyed with molybdenum or tungsten, or a combination of both, the acid in the fumes from the mines would have no effect upon them. I quote from the United States Bulletin 111, Mineral Technology 15, issued by the Department of the Interior, in which it is stated under the authority of Borcher, perhaps one of the greatest metallurgical chemists in the world -
An alloy of 2 per cent, of molybdenum with 10 per cent, of chromium and little or no carbon is absolutely acid-proof. A combination of molybdenum (2 per cent.),’ chromium (60 per cent.), and iron (35 per cant.) will resist boiling aqua regia.
Perhaps that passage will be more clearly understood by honorable members if I’ explain to them that if fine leaves of gold are put into aqua regia, which is a mixture of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid, the gold will dissolve like sugar in coffee ; but, as Borcher says, a combination of molybdenum, chromium, and iron absolutely resists boiling aqua regia. These metals could be usefully employed in connexion with containers for jams, fruit, meat, and butter, which could not have any corrosive effect upon steel thus alloyed. On a Bill of this character it may not be permissible for a private member to propose an amendment which will increase the bounty payable, but if I am permitted to do so, I- shall move in Committee a- new clause or addendum -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this or any other Act, the bounty shall be increased by 10 per cent, on steel sheets that are manufactured with an alloy of molybdenum or tungsten.
As I have already said, Australia produces more than half the world’s supply of molybdenum. This alloy is used in the so-called rustless cutlery, and Mr. Firth, a bic manufacturer in England, assured Mr. Scantlebury, of Sydney, who is interested in these rarer metals, that his “ firm would be prepared to take over the whole of Australia’s production of molvbdenum for use in the manufacture of domestic cutlery. Honorable members may have seen the steel rails at a country railway station after a night’s rain bearing a coating of rust on their formerly shiny surface. If the steel were alloyed with molybdenum that rust would never’ be seen. That alloy can be used with particular advantage in cranks, shafts, axles, rails, rolling stock, motor frames, guns, and large ordnance. As honorable members are aware, the life of one of the large guns on a man-of-war is not more than ninety or 100 rounds, after which the gun must be sent to the factory to be re-wired. It is interesting to note that the British Government found, in connexion with German guns captured in the early days of the war, that, although the use of molybdenite as an alloy had increased the cost of manufacture by 10 per cent., the efficiency of the guns was increased by 2,000 per cent; The use of molybdenum enabled the Germans to use a gun with a larger range than even the big naval guns, and we are all aware that “ Big Bertha ‘ ‘ bombarded Paris from a distance of 75 ‘ miles, the shots occurring regularly every quarter of an hour. That gun Was evolved only through the use of a hardening alloy which prevented the corrosive action of the explosive. Molybdenite could be used also in rifles, and as it is gas resisting, it would considerably increase their life; in cutlery, and in magnets and maenetoes. I made a test with one of Bosch’s magnets and the best that can be produced from Swedish steel. My nephew proved that a steel file would not touch the Bosch magnet, whereas it easily dented the Swedish magnet. I believe that the superiority of the Bosch magnet is caused by the use of molybdenum alloy in steel. The iron of Sweden has a great reputation in Europe, and is equalled only by that taken from, the island of Elba in the Mediterranean. It could be used for fire-proofing, and it is a great germicide. It dyes blue woollens, rubber, leather, and silk, and is not injurious to rubber. It can be used to glaze pottery, to support the filaments in incandescent lamps, and in electricityresisting furnaces. Every honorable member who has had experience in Queensland, New South Wales, and Western Australia knows how the pipes of the artesian bores become choked owing to the chemical action of the mineral solutions contained in the water. Even the pipes in connexion .with the Western Australian goldfields water scheme must be replaced periodically on account of the corrosion, and the same thing happens in connexion with the pipes in the Yan Yean scheme. That trouble will disappear by the use of steel pipes alloyed with molybdenum. The uses of these two rare metals are a! very interesting development, and I have given some study to them during the last year. They will be of particular use in the hardening of tools. With the hardest steel previously known it was possible to cut only from 30 feet to 50 feet per minute through crucible steel. But bv the use of an alloy of molybdenum it is possible to cut 500 feet per minute. Tools may become red hot. or even white hot, without losing their temper. The melting point of molybdenum is 2,500 degrees- Centigrade, equal to 4,400 degrees Fahrenheit, and that is 1,400 degrees Centigrade above the melting point of copper, 1,000 degrees above iron, and 740 degrees over platinum. . Those figures explain why tools hardened with molybdenum do not lose their temper when used at a great heat. I have explained that the cost of molybdenum would be far less in Australia than in Europe. No metal has yet been known to suffer what is known as a pest which has life in either a vegetable or animal form, but tin has this peculiarity that, in the course of “time, it breaks up into minute globules, just as does mercury when thrown on a table, and that explains why we have no articles, of tin preserved from pre-historic times. Tin is not acid-resisting for so long a period as is an alloy of steel plus molybdenum and chromium. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company has taken an option over the Great Mammoth molybdenite mines in New South -Wales, and if a bounty were offered by the Government it might be induced to manufacture this class of steel.
– The molybdenite would make the steel harder.
– And absolutely acid-resisting,
– It spoils it by making it harder.
– I beg to differ. What I have in mind is tin used in the canning of jams, fruits, and meats. There is an old saying amongst miners that a tin of fish that appears to be blown out should be thrown away, since the contents are poisonous. There is good reason for that view. The cause of a tin being in such a condition has frequently been traced to the presence of a drop of solder used in stopping the little hole in the tin.
I have nothing but commendation for this Bill, and if I could persuade the Government to extend the bounty in the direction I have indicated I should be well satisfied: My desire is that we should be able to manufacture up to the highest economic value, producing the manufactured article from the raw material obtained from our own mines.
.- I congratulate the Government upon the introduction of this Bill, which I hope is but the forerunner of several others of a similar kind. I desire, however. to suggest to the Minister (Mr. .Greene) that he should consider the advisableness of providing for the standardizing of galvanized .iron. Compared with what we used to obtain in the old days, the quality of the galvanized iron and galvanized fencing wire now offering is very indifferent. “ Gospel Oak “ galvanized iron, which was obtainable in years gone by, had a life more than double that of the iron now manufactured. I have some “ Gospel Oak “ iron that has been on a roof for over forty years, and which I should be .sorry, even after that length of time, to replace by the galvanized iron now imported’ into Australia. In the case of such large States as Queensland and Western Australia, where enormous railage and cartage fees have to be paid in conveying galvanized iron and fencing wire over hundreds of miles to outback settlements, it is all important that- consumers should be able to secure material of the very best quality. No ordinary saving in price would compensate for the loss incurred in conveying galvanized iron and fencing wire of indifferent quality over long distances. We should be particularly careful to provide that the bounty shall be paid in respect only of iron of first class quality. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will provide either in the Bill itself or by regulations under it, that all galvanized iron in respect of which the bounty is paid shall be standardized.’ The Bill provides that the bounty sh.all be paid in respect of iron manufactured in accordance with the requirements of the Act and regulations, and if regulations were framed by which the quality would be assured, a tremendous boon would be conferred upon those residing in the back-blocks of this great continent. In no more effective way could the Government safeguard in this respect the interests of such people.
Mr. WEST (East Sydney) f5.ll] - I shall offer no opposition to this Bill. When I interjected while the Minister was introducing it that, under clause 3, power was given to pay the bounty on galvanized iron manufactured from imported steel blooms, I was under the impression that that provision was a violation of the object of the Bill. His explanation, however, has satisfied me on that point. During the last few weeks I have addressed to the Minister some very important questions bearing upon this matter. A certain firm carrying on business in Sydney, and employing a large number of men, found it impossible during the war to continue to import rods for the purpose of making wire netting and -fencing wire. Such rods are being manufactured at the Broken Hill Proprietary Company’s works at Newcastle, but the Sydney firm to which I refer discovered that an arrangement had been made by which all such rods manufactured at the Newcastle works were sent to the Austral Wire Nail Company, Melbourne. It endeavoured to obtain a supply for the purpose of drawing wire, and in answer to an inquiry which I made recently, the Minister informed me that it had received an offer to supply these rods. My information is that the rods can be obtained only from the Austral Wire Nail Company, Melbourne, and that that firm merely offered to take a draw off these rods, and to supply the Sydney firm with what was left, so that they could make wire netting out of it, which the firm refused owing to its impracticability. This only serves to show the kind of information with which Ministers are supplied. Since it seems to me possible that Messrs. Lysaght might have a similar experience, I feel that I can offer no objection to clause 3.
It is very necessary that we’ should establish this industry in Australia. Before the war rods for wire netting were sold at £7 10s. per ton. I was informed, in answer to a question that I put in this House, that that low rate was due to German competition. I find, however, -that it could then be purchased from America at £7 5s. per ton, whereas the price to-day is £50 per ton. In this way the farmers are being robbed, and I am surprised that Ministerial supporters who pose as the friends of the farmers and settlers have allowed this sort of thing to go on.
– We have no power to prevent it.
– As the result of my action in drawing attention in this House to the exorbitant prices charged, the hardware people met in Melbourne last week, and decided to reduce the price of wire netting and fencing wire by £12 10s. per ton.
– Owing to the reduction in freights prices are coming down in many directions.
– My honorable friend knows something about this matter; but is he aware that wire drawn in Melbourne from rods made in Newcastle can be manufactured here at about £21 per ton because of the preferential rates which the Broken Hill Proprietary Company is allowing the Melbourne firm to which I have referred ? The wholesale houses will have to pay £32 per ton, the reduced price. If the same rates were allowed to the Sydney firm, farmers in New South Wales would be able to obtain wire netting for £13 per ton less than they are paying for it to-day. This is a somewhat serious statement to make, but it is based on information supplied to me, and I am told, further, that unless the Sydney firm can secure a supply of these rods it will have to discontinue the manufacture of wire netting. The supply of wire netting and nails in Australia will thus be still further reduced, and that position would add to the cost.
We ought to provide in this Bill that the manufactures in respect of which the bounty is payable shall be of first-class commercial value. In that way the public would be protected, and would be sure of getting full value for their money. The Bill provides for the payment of bounty on galvanized iron produced from steel rod. Such galvanized iron does not last as long as ordinary galvanized iron does. The life of steel is of short duration. I have made some experiments with steel on behalf of the Associated Master Plumbers. Steel on the surface is so hard that the muriatic acid and zinc that is used as a solution for the purpose of galvanizing the plate does not penetrate it, and there is not that adhesion of the galvanizing to the steel plate that is secured where iron is galvanized. The action of the climate creates a coolness” at times which generates a moisture between the steel and the galvanized surface. This sets up a chemical action owing to there not being a proper adhesion; and that is the reason the product has not the life of “ Gospel Oak “ brand referred to by the honorable member for , Wide Bay (Mr. Corser). I do not suppose there was an architect in Australia who, when it was obtainable, did not specify that brand; and it is certain steel will not take galvanizing in the successful way that iron will.
When the Government give a bounty, the article produced should be of first class quality, but I do not suppose I shall be able to induce the Minister to stipulate that iron and not steel be used, because iron to-day is much more costly. Some steps should be taken to supply the public, because, since the war began, galvanized iron has been at a fearful price, and little of it can be obtained. A great deal of plain sheet galvanized iron is used in connexion with sanitation and for other purposes, much more than was used a few years ago; and there is, consequently, a much greater demand. I firmly believe that if those concerned in the malufacture would turn their minds to the matter, ‘they would find that their customers would much rather purchase galvanized iron than galvanized steel. As an illustration, I may say that roofing of -galvanized iron which I fixed in Sydney in 1875 is still there, but I should not expect the galvanized steel of to-day to last more than two or three years when made into commercial articles. This is a technical matter,_ and, perhaps, not very interesting, but I feel it my duty as a practical man to place these facts before the House. It ought to be the object of the manufacturers to produce an article better than that imported, and as labour is expensive here, only the best of material should be used. If any one in any part of the world desires even a lathe or any mecha,nical tool of first class quality, he feels assured that he has got it if it is of English made; and that is the sort of reputation that Australian manufacturers should seek.
– 1 accept this Bill as a small instalment of what may be a proper system of protection of Australian industries. I think, however, that many of us here would much rather be engaged in overhauling our Tariff so as to be prepared for the inevitable competition in the future. I was not much encouraged by the reply pf the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) to-day, and I believe that that reply was given in such a way as to throw us off the track. The Acting Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene), in introducing the measure, said that this bonus, and quite likely others, were being introduced “before opening up the Tariff.” I hope those words mean that at a very early date we shall be discussing the Tariff, with a view to bringing it into conformity with present-day - requirements. We shall be able to settle only a percentage of our returned soldiers on the land, and, therefore, new avenues of employment must be opened up for them.
– This is one of them, and I think it will lead to additional employment for 1,500 men.
– I hope that we shall keep on multiplying the means of encouragement to industries. As I said before, the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) did not give me much encouragement in his reply to my question to-day ; in fact, he used words that might be regarded as not altogether courteous.
– The Acting Prime Minister is always courteous.
– But there are times when the honorable gentleman, like all of us, forgets himself, though up to now he has maintained a demeanour satisfactory to this side of the House. As far back as March, 1916, a representative deputation, composed principally of workers, who were anxious for the encouragement of industries, waited on the then Acting Prime Minister (Senator Pearce), and was promised that more would he done in that direction. I am inclined to think that on the Government side there are many who at one time were pronounced Free Traders. Whether these honorable members are shedding their previous ideas, or whether the Cabinet is under their influence, I do not know; but I do not think that this Government is one to whom we can look for the encouragement of Australian industries.
– I can assure you that we are all desirous that industries shall be established in this country. I believe that those who have not been quite converted to the fiscal faith of the” honorable member and myself are nearly so.
– I am hopeful for the future, for the war has changed the opinions of many in this . respect in Great Britain. With shipping once more ploughing the seas in the absence of the submarine menace, there is no doubt that large quantities of goods will be brought to Australia, and our Tariff does not afford sufficient protection to old established industries, to say nothing of new ones. The high freights have afforded some protection, but those freights may tumble down.
– I have allowed the honorable member considerable latitude, but he is now going quite beyond the question.
– If so, it is only because I like to avail myself of an opportunity to express the views I hold. In the last day or two it has been announced that the United States has purchased nearly 1,000,000 tons of mercantile marine, and in my judgment the object is, as soon as possible, to land in Australia goods of the class on which we are now proposing to grant a bounty. If it is not permissible on this occasion, I shall certainly at some time do something to bring home to the Government the necessity for a scientific Protectionist Tariff.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
In this Act; unless the contrary intention appears - “ black steel sheets “ means black steel sheets, not exceeding one-sixteenth of an inch in thickness, made from Australian iron ore and steel manufactured in Australia, or from such imported sheet bar steel as is authorized in pursuance of section 3 of this Act. …
.- I move -
That in line 3 the words “ or iron “ be inserted after the word “ steel,” first occurring
The honorable member for East Sydney. (Mr. West) has told us that black steel sheets are not as good as black iron sheets for galvanizing purposes. I do not see why we should give a bounty for an industry that will be nothing but a shandygaff one. If it is true that black iron is better than steel for galvanizing purposes, it should also get the bounty. I have seen Government specifications in Queensland which stated that no steel sheets must be used. There must be something wrong when a Government Department will not allow steel sheets to be used. I see no advantage in giving a bounty for steel sheets if they will not be extensively used. I hope that the Minister will agree to the amendment. The manufacture of iron is an easier process than that of making steel.
– I am entirely in sympathy with the remarks which the honorable member has made, and with those that have fallen from other honorable members, but I am not quite clear as to the effect that his amendment would have. It will be necessary for me to make some inquiries, in order to ascertain exactly what may depend upon it before I consent to include it in the Bill. I shall have those inquiries made, and if I ascertain that the amendment will not do more than the honorable member has in his mind, namely, to include in the bounty corrugated iron which is made from black iron, and not steel, I shall be very glad to arrange for the amendment to be intro- duced in another place, and when it conies back to this Chamber the Government will offer no objection to it. I am inclined to think that more importance is attached to this matter than the circumstances justify. Certain grades of steel are used in the manufacture of galvanized iron as we know it in commerce. I understand that everything depends upon the grade of the actual steel used; and I do not think that soft iron is ever employed for galvanized iron for roofing purposes. However, I am not certain upon the point, and I shall have the matter inquired into. If the honorable member will withdraw his amendment, and the position is found to be as honorable members have represented it, the Government will offer no objection to making the alteration in another place.
.- If iron is the superior article for galvanizing purposes, we should give the bounty for the iron and not for the steel article. What the Minister has said is hardly accurate.
– I admit that I do not know anything about the technique of the matter.
– Most of us are in the same position. I have seen buckets, tubs, and other articles being dipped at Gold’s works, and I have gathered that the softer material takes the galvanizing better than the harder or more brittle material does. It seems to penetrate more. In electroplating it is often necessary to prepare a base before dipping some articles, and I understand that if a bit of native copper is dipped in gold it will look just like the real article. Quite possibly the same thing may occur in the- process of galvanizing. The Minister will be well advised to “make the inquiries he has promised. It would be a great pity if we did not give the bounty to the better article ; that is to say, the article with the longer life. We ought to give a guarantee to the people of Australia that the galvanized iron produced in the Commonwealth will be equal to, if not better than, that to which they have been accustomed. We should not give a bounty on an article that will soon wear out.
– On the assurance that has been given by the Minister, I withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
.- Last week the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) showed me a letter in which it was suggested that a thickness of l-16th is too little. * Mr. Greene. - The provision in the clause covers all that it is intended to cover. If we increased the thickness, we should have to pay on material on which we do not wish to pay.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 3 to 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 (Proof of good quality and compliance with Act to be furnished).
– What means will be taken for getting the information that the article manufactured is of good quality?
– The last clause of the Bill empowers the Governor-General to make regulations for, among other things, the inspection of the process or manufacture. We shall thus be able to appoint inspectors to see that effect is given to this clause.
.- I presume that some” such system as was established under the Manufactures Encouragement Act in regard to the bounty on steel will be followed, and the manufactures on which bounty is claimed properly tested. In the early years of this Parliament it was alleged that persons were sending ruined cane to the mills merely to take advantage of the sugar bounty. We do not wish to pay bounty on manufactures fit only for the scrap heap.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 -
If the net profits of any person, firm, or. company claiming bounty under this Act exceed, in any year, fifteen per centum on the capital employed in the business, the Minister may withhold so much of the bounty payable as will reduce the net profits for that year to fifteen per centum on the capital employed in the business.
.- I am afraid that this clause will be unworkable, though I have every sympathy with its object. In my opinion, firms will be able to . evade the clause by making it appear in their books that their profits on the manufacture of the article for which bounty is claimed was less than 15 per cent. Any man with a knowledge of business could frame his books to show that his profits arose chiefly from his operations in mining for iron or limestone or coal, or in the making of coke or other things. He could increase the apparent profit on other operations to reduce the profit arising from the manufacture of black sheets and galvanized sheets, plain or corrugated. Moreover, I think that, by fixing 15 per cent, as the rate of profit which may be earned, Parliament may be regarded as expressing the view that 15 per cent, is a proper rate of profit for any business. I doubt that many manufacturing firms would earn 15 per cent., and reference to a share list would show that many of them earn less than 10 per cent. I doubt whether the sum set apart for the payment of bounty will be enough. It allows only for the manufacture of about 20,000 tons, whereas our imports have been as much as 165,000 tons.
.- Whilst desirous of assisting in the establishment of the industry for which the Bill provides a bounty, I think that we should not pay bounty on a higher profit than 10 per cent. Persons will be quite prepared to invest capital in a business that will pay 10 per cent. Moreover, if we pay bounty on a profit of 15 per cent., the amount available for distribution may not be sufficient to cover the output. I do not think that we are justified in assisting with a bounty a company making a profit of 15 per cent. It is the taxpayers who must find the necessary money, and, whilst they will not object to the giving of this bounty, they will, I am sure, object to the giving of a bounty where it results iri the earning of an abnormal profit. Probably after the first few years the industry will be able to get on without a bounty. Certainly I hope so. I move -
That in line 3 the word “ fifteen “ be left out, with a view to insert the word “ten.”
.- I think that the amendment- may be detrimental to the development of the industry which we wish to encourage. Although 15 per cent, may be a high rate of profit, the effect of the proposed restriction might be to prevent large companies from entering into,- as a branch of their business, the manufacture of the articles for which we offer a bounty. That would throw the manufacture of these articles upon wholly new business- concerns. Now, we have provided that the war-time profits tax shall not fall upon new businesses earning only 15 per cent, on their capital. New businesses do not expect to be able to distribute high profits on the invested capital during the first few years of their existence. A proportion of those profits is carried forward and placed in a reserve fund to insure the financial stability of the business, or is used for its further development. The Acting Prime Minister said that some old businesses had established their pre-war standard at 15 per cent., and new businesses, in order to be placed on an equal footing with them, should be allowed a similar profit. In the starting of any new business it is always contemplated that a proportion of the profits for the first few years will be devoted to its further development, so that if it were thought not wise to limit the profits of established businesses to 10 per cent., it is certainly not wise to do so in the case of. new businesses. I think it would be a serious discouragement of the manufacturers if we unduly limited the amount of profits that a new business might make, and so interfered with its further development.
– I hope this amendment will not be pressed. Apart altogether from the fact that this iron business is new to Australia,. and that men are taking a good deal of risk in investing their capital in it, there i3 a very special reason why this proposal should be treated in the most liberal manner. A large quantity of very heavy machinery is necessary for the establishment of these works, and any firm purchasing plant to.day has to pay a higher price than may be charged two or three years hence.
– That will make no difference to the interest earned on their capital.
– It will, because the firm has to make an allowance for heavy amortization in order to be able eventually to conduct its business’ in competition with other firms of longer establishment, and whose capital expenditure in proportion to output was probably half that in which a company starting operations to-day must be involved. The Government feel that, whilst the clause protects the public, it contains no more than n fair proposition for a company embarking upon this .industry under the peculiar conditions that exist at the present time.
– In entering upon the manufacture of galvanized-iron sheets there is no risk at all. The commodity will not perish, and there is a great demand for it. Ten years ago I saw the machinery at Hoskins’ foundry, at Lithgow, turning out galvanized iron.
– But Hoskins failed to make a success of it.
- Mr. Hoskins told me in the train this week that lately he has done very well in the. galvanized-iron business. He has been on a very good wicket.
– He has drawn £150,000 in bounties.
– The price he has been receiving for galvanized iron during the period of the war has provided him with capital enough to put down an entirely new plant. That commodity used to be sold at from £18 to £20 per ton, and recently it has been sold at £80 per ton. Manufacturers are very well protected at the present time by the abnormal freights that are ruling.
– -What about new businesses ?
– I am speaking of oldestablished businesses, which will participate in the bounty. The machinery required for making galvanized iron is not very expensive, and it is altogether unreasonable to allow manufacturers a profit of 15 per cent.
– I think they will be lucky if they clear 7 or 8 per cent.
– I am satisfied that if they were allowed 10 per cent, the industry would be established all right.
– If I could guarantee Lysaght, or Hoskins, or anybody else, 10 per cent, interest on their money, they would go ahead .with this proposition’ readily enough; but the clause does not guarantee that profit.
– It allows them to make up to 15 per cent, profit. I think the amendment is a very fair proposal. Every pound added to the cost of galvanized iron increases house rent, because the commodity is used in the construction of every house.
– We desire to encourage competition in order to cheapen the article.
– Only ‘two firms in Australia are manufacturing galvanized iron, and we know how they will arrange matters. I remember that a rival firm started in Sydney to reduce the price of cement, but soon .we found the two firms arranging to share the contracts. There is no need for such a high profit as 15 per cent. , and although I wish to see the industry established, I think we must have regard to the people who will have to buy the iron, and the interest of the country as a whole. I support the amendment.
– In the interests of the industry and the community as a whole, I urge the Committee to support the clause. Fifteen per cent, is only a fair and reasonable allowance, having regard to the fluctuations incidental to new enterprises. The argument put forward by the Minister is unanswerable. Machinery must be purchased to-day at, perhaps, 50 per cent, above normal peace-time values, and purchasers are placed at a disadvantage in regard to the future conduct of their business and the competition which they will have to face. Therefore, they must provide heavily for amortization.
– Does the honorable member think that prices of machinery are likely to remain at the present figure ?
– Because of the scarcity of shipping, and the high cost of raw material, it will be a long time before the price of machinery becomes normal. We desire people to enter into thisindustry at once, and if they have to buy machinery at the present abnormal prices they must provide a substantial sinking fund, to wipe out the extra capital cost. We shall discourage enterprise if we provide that the bonus . may be reduced after the business is earning 10 per cent. The clause limits the profits to 15 per cent. on the capital employed. Many businesses are carried on with a comparatively small capital, and are financed by an overdraft. Therefore, the capital employed does not bear a proper proportion to the real scope of the enterprise.
– Money borrowed in that way would be included in the capital.
– It would not. If a man borrows £10,000 from a bank in order to carry on his business, that £10,000 is not part of his capital; it is merely a debt owing by him in connexion with the business. A man’s actual capital may be only £5,000, but he may be using in connexion with his business £25,000. We have to bear in mind the surrounding conditions. If this amendment were carried we should have so to amend the Bill as to allow the percentage an the whole financial operation of the enterprise, including all moneys borrowed for the purpose of carrying it on. I suggest to my honorable friend that much of the advantage of the Bill would be lost by the carrying of his amendment, and that the reasonable percentage for whichthe clause provides should be permitted to stand.
. -The Honorary Minister (Mr. Greene) practically gave away the whole case for the clause as it stands when he said that any new business that started ‘ with a guarantee of 10 per cent. on its outlay would be in Golden-street. “
– Yes, if there were an actual guarantee of 10 per cent.
– This Bill does not guarantee a return of 10 per cent.
– No; but it will allow the manufacturer to- earn up to 15 per cent., and still claim the bounty. If I thought that other new industries would be encouraged by the retention of the rate of 15 per cent. in the clause, I might be disposed to support it.
– If the rate be reduced to 10’ per cent. this industry will not be started.
– If I thought that we would induce other firms to enter into the manufacture of iron by allowing the bounty to be claimed by. manufacturers earning a profit of 15 per cent., Imight think it worth while to agree to the clause as it stands.
– We want to stimulate competition.
– We cannot do it in this way. Surely the additional 5 per cent. would not induce a new company to enter into competition with two already well-established businesses.
– Are there to be no new businesses started under this measure ?
– I do not say that. In addition to the company that has been frequently mentioned during the discussion, another firm has also been engaged in the local manufacture of corrugated iron, and during the last three or four years has been receiving for its manufactures about five times as much as was paid before. To such an extent has this firm been able to accumulate profits out of the manufacture of these and other articles, that it has been able to replace its old machinery for the manufacture of corrugated iron with a modern plant, and to put in up-to-date machinery for use in connexion with all its other manufactures. Would the fact that I should be allowed to earn an extra 5 per cent., and still receive this bounty, induce me to enter into competition withsuch a well-established business, as that,, even if it had a guarantee of only a 10 per cent. return ? One of the leading companies in Australia earned during the last twelve months only 14 per cent.
– What quantity of corrugated iron has been produced in Australia since the war ?
– I cannot say. I was referring to Hoskins Limited. I visited their works, and did not see in them any complicated or expensive’ machinery for the manufacture of either corrugated iron or steel rails. The Minister has been contending, however, that a very considerable sum will have to be expended in the ‘ purchase of machinery bythose who intend to engage in this industry. With the close of the war hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of machinery will either be sold or scrapped, and the Commonwealth will be benefited by being able to secure machinery at much lower rates than before. We desire to grant a bounty in this case.
– But you want to destroy the Bill.
– Not at all. We merely say that those who receive this bounty should not be allowed to earn more than 10 per cent. This bounty will go to two old established businesses,- and the return which would be allowed under the amendment should be good enough.
Mr. GREENE (Richmond - Acting
Minister for Trade and Customs) [6.26]. - I should like honorable members to disabuse their minds of the idea that these companies, from their inception, are going to make a profit of 15 per cent. Messrs. Hoskins’ mill, for instance, is utterly useless for the manufacture of galvanized iron under ordinary commercial conditions. The firm entered upon the manufacture of galvanized iron on a previous occasion, and failed. It must fail again unless new plant is obtained, since that already in the mill is perfectly useless for the purpose. If it decided once more to enter upon this class of manufacture it would’ have practically to put in a new and. modern plant. In the first year of the industry, these firms may make a loss. In the second year they may secure a return of 2 per cent, or 3 per cent., and in the third year a return, perhaps, of 4 per cent., so that they will be very lucky if their average- return for the whole period in respect of which the bounty is payable amounts to 5 per cent. If honorable members are going to press this amendment, and so to declare that in the last year or two during which the bounty will be payable, these manufacturers shall not make more than 10 per cent., or an average profit of 2 per cent. for the whole period, they will destroy the whole effect of the Bill. They will not have industries established in Australia, and what is more, they will not deserve to have them established.
. -It is interesting to listen to the appeal of the
Ministerial party for the “ poor struggling companies,” such as we read of in’ the report appearing in the morning’s issue of the Argus as to evidence given before the Inter-State Commission regarding those engaged in the production of building material. If there is anything that should be obtainable at a fair price - I do not say at a low price, because I want nothing cheap - it is bricks. It is absolutely impossible to secure, the housing accommodation required by the people in any of our capital cities. If that is the position to-day, what will it be when all our troops return? . We hear of people advertising for a house to rent, and offering as much as £5 for the key of a rented house. This is no mere fairy tale. It is a sworn statement made before the Inter-State Commission. The brick combine has been sucking the lifeblood of the people.
– The honorable member does not put the brick-making industry in the same category as that covered by this Bill?
– No; but both belong to the same crowd that is piling up big dividends at the expense of the people who have to pay rent.
– When the honorable member, as leader of the Labour party, makes a statement of that kind;’ I am not surprised that firms of. this description are chary about commencing operations.
– At all events, I am. not going to vote for 15 per cent. as the standard of profit to be allowed, in these cases. I refuse to accept such a standard. The Government will; be coming down presently with an amendment of the War-time Profits Act, fixing 15 per cent. as the return which shall be allowed, before that tax shall apply. In the Old Country any profit exceeding 5 per cent. is taxable under the War-time Profits Act. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) has done well in submitting this amendment, and I am satisfied that it will receive substantial support.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to7.45 p.m.
– I frankly say that I cannot agree to this allowance of 15 per cent., and if I have to vote, I shall vote against the clause. The threat, of the Minister that unless this percentage of profit is allowed, people will not start in the business, does not frighten me. As a former Minister for Trade and Customs, I received many deputations, and was told by men over ‘and over again that under certain conditions proposed they would be ruined ; so often did this happen that I used to say that I had seen more men ruined in that room than in any other part of Australia. Some men were so hurt by the legislation of the Commonwealth that they had to take a trip round the world before they could recover, and others, who insisted that if an Arbitration Court award were adhered to, they must have increased protection, subsequently increased wages and enlarged their factories, although no further protection was given.
– I suppose that is why the h on 01 able member, when Minister for Trade and Customs, did not introduce an effective Tariff.
– The Tariff I introduced stands to-day, and I challenge the Government to introduce a better.
– It is not a monument.
– It is a monument so far as Australia is concerned, inasmuch as it is the heaviest Tariff ever introduced here. If there is a crying need in the community to-day it is for houses, as witness the present investigations by the Inter-State Commission ; and the shortage is felt not only in the great cities, but in other parts of the Commonwealth. There was some curious evidence given before the Commission yesterday by that class of people who complain that they are not making profits enough. It was the case of a co-operative brick company, and the secretary of the company- .
– This is out of order, surely?
– I merely wish to show the enormous profits that are being made, while we hero are asked to pass a Bill allowing a profit of 15 per cent., including the bounty. In the case of this brick company an initial capital of £100 was, according to the sworn evidence of the secretary, declared to be £50,000. We talk about card sharpers, jugglers, and conjurers, who produce money from the air, from the hair on their heads, or from various parts of an audience; but here we have a company turning £100 into £50,000. When the secretary was asked how this financial arrangement had been made, he replied, “ Oh, we were all friends.’- Thus, they were able to get increased profits for which the community are paying. When the Minister threatens that the Bill may be dropped because people will not start a new industry without the rate of profit proposed, I am prepared
– Did you ever know an enterprise of this kind pay from the start?
– Then there is no need for the clause - there is no need of honorable members opposite to be afraid of voting for the amendment.
– I mean for the first year or two.
– This bounty is spread over four years, and the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) is willing that the average rate of profit over that period shall not exceed 10 per cent. A clause to that effect could easily be drafted.
.- There are only two reasons urged why the amendment should not be accepted. The first is that the companies will have to provide new machinery, which will, to a certain extent, militate against the works proving a paying concern. Both of the companies which will derive benefit from this Bill already have certain machinery, but the Minister tells us that it is not up-to-date, and additional plant will be required. If that be so, there will have to be capital for the purpose of purchasing machinery, and their net dividend will depend on the amount of money they make, on the earning capacity of the plant, before they receive this bounty. With the bounty included, it must not exceed 15 per cent.
– I presume you take into consideration that the companies will have to scrap all their old machinery.
– They may or may not; but suppose they have to, they put their capital into the purchase of the new machinery.
– They lose the capital represented by the old machinery they have had to scrap.
– As a rule, companies ‘which possess machinery have reserve funds. Every company, if properly worked, has a sinking fund to meet such contingencies.
– Then these companies will have to make a reserve fund out of the 15 per cent. to provide for the scrapping of that machinery.
– I submit that 10 per cent. is a fair profit. While we are all desirous to establish new industries, we must not let our desires get the better of our judgment. We have to hold the scales fairly between the taxpayers and those who are to receive the bounty.
– The honorable member knows that deterioration of machinery is considered to represent about 5 per cent. per annum.
– The honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) also raised the point about machinery. The clause says, “If the net profits of any person, firm, or company claiming bounty”; and what are the net profits? The net profits are what the company has left after providing for all the things that have been mentioned. A company, first of all, provides for depreciation, and, as the honorable member for Kooyong “ suggests, they may have to borrow money from the bank on mortgage. We all know that from profits there is, first of all, provided the interest on money borrowed.
– That was not the point at all.
– That was the point the honorable member made.
– It is only a partial statement of the point.
– What was the whole point?
– We were arguing the question of capital.
– The honorable member spoke of the clause providing 15 per cent. “ on the capital employed,” but he forgot to read the commencement of the clause, “ If the net profits of any person.” It is the net profits we must keep in view.
– What I said was that borrowed money is not capital. ‘
– But certain things have to be provided with borrowed money before there are any net profits.
– That is not the point.
– It is the point in connexion with any industry. If I am in a concern and borrow money, I do not regard any profit as net until I have paid “the interest on that money. The Minister contends that the profit of 15 per cent. should be retained, because a company might have bad luck, making 2 per cent. or 3 per cent. only in the first year or two, and, perhaps, 10 per cent. in the last year of the bounty period. As to that, I am quite prepared to take the average profits over the four years, so that if a company earned 5 per cent. the first year, 6 per cent. the second, 7 per cent. the third, and 10 per cent. the fourth, I would divide the total by 4, and thusbeing the company under the Bill. But if a company makes from 12 to 14 per cent. in each of the four years, I do not think it is entitled to receive the taxpayers’ money by way of bounty.
– If the company made less, would you guarantee it 10 per cent. ?
– No; if there were such a guarantee, you would have everybody going into the industry. If the Government is not prepared to accept the amendment, I shall divide the Committee.
.- The definition of “ capital “ is not very definite ; and it depends on what you mean by “ capital “ whether the 15 per cent. is or is not too much.For instance, in the War-time Profits Bill, borrowed money and reserves are included in the “capital,’’ but in the Bill before us, it seems to refer only to- actual share capital employed. There may be a large amount of capital employed, and a company may have very big reserves, and yet have a relatively small share capital. On the other hand, this bounty operates for four years only, and those concerned have to look ahead. They have to realize that, at the end of four years, the protection of the bounty will be taken away, and have to ask themselves what their position will then be - whether they will be able to compete with Great Britain, America, and Japan. They have also to consider whether the machinery they have bought will or will not have to be scrapped. Looking at the matter from every point of view, I think it will be found very hard indeed to establish this business if, after taking into account all the risks incidental to the establishing of a new business, the profits are confined to 10 per cent. The object of this Bill is to establish an absolutely necessary basic industry, and I do not think the Committee should haggle about an extra 5 per cent. We must remember that the object of this Bill is to establish the industry, and that the bounty runs for four years only. At the end of that period expensive machinery may have to be scrapped. I fear that very few firms would agree to enter into the business with all the risks, attaching to it if they felt that they could not make up to 15 per cent. on their share capital.
Question - That the word “fifteen” stand as printed - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 10 - (Conditions of employment and rates of wages).
Mr.TUDOR (Yarra) [8.9].- This clause provides that the Minister may make application to the President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration for a declaration as to what wages and conditions of employment are fair and reasonable for labour employed in the manufacture of black steel sheets or galvanized sheets. I wish to know whether that provision will apply only to the stage of manufacture which is reached after the steel has been produced, or whether it will also cover the earlier stages in the production of pig iron. I understand that the Broken Hill Proprietary will sell their blooms or bars to Lysaghts, who will roll them into sheets and galvanize them, whereas Hoskins Limited are likely to carry through the whole process from beginning to end. If 20,000 tons of galvanized iron has to be produced every year, there will be a correspondingly large quantity of raw material used in the shape of iron ore, coal, and limestone, and I wish to know whether the rates of wages and conditions of employment will apply also to the men who are getting the iron ore, or the limestone, or are employed in the smelting operations.
– The intention of the Bill is to deal only with the production of sheets. If the Broken Hill Proprietary, who are supplying blooms to Lysaghts, are not paying the rates of wages touched upon, in this clause, the fact could not possibly affect Lysaghts’ claim to a bounty so long as they themselves are paying the rates of wages laid down by the Arbitration Court. I do not think that the clause does more than protect the employees in the industry this Bill is designed to establish and protect.
– In those circumstances, the employees of Hoskins Limited, “who are engaged in the quarries or in the smelting operations, can be paid any wages the firm chooses to give them, but the men employed in the rolling-room, must be paid fair wages?
– Theoretically, that will be the case, but in actual practice it will not be so. There is hardly one branch of this industry that is not already subject to an award of an Arbitration Court, either State or Federal, and the probabilities are that the employees of these firms will become subject to an award immediately after this industry is’ commenced. In any case, if the employees do not take steps to approach the Court, this clause will leave it open to the Minister to do so, and will authorize him to withhold payment of the bounty . if an employer does not pay the rates of wages stipulated by the Arbitration Court.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 11 to 13 agreed to.
Schedule, preamble, and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Poynton) read a first time.
– There can be no debate on the motion for the first reading of a Bill.
Debate resumed from 23rd October (vide page 7160), on motion by Mr. Jensen -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- The Bill, like the Beer Excise and Tobacco Excise Bills, is largely technical, but there are one or two matters which I should like the Minister to explain. It is proposed to insert in the original Act the following new section : - 11a. The provisions of the last two preceding sections shall not apply to any still of a capacity not exceeding one gallon.
The sections referred to are these - 10.No person shall without permission -
Penalty : One hundred pounds.
(1)” Stills may be used for any purpose other than the distillation of spirits if the owner has -
It may be the desire of the Customs Department to encourage the use of small stills for experimental purposes. I pay great deference to the opinions of the officers of that Department, because I know how carefully they safeguard the revenue; but I wonder whether they have not gone too far in this matter. Even a still of a capacity of less than 1 quart could, if worked continuously, produce a large quantity of spirit. This spirit would probably be worth anything between 2s. 6d. and 5s. per gallon.
– Eight shillings per gallon is being charged for grape spirit, without the Excise duty.
– Grape spirit is superior to spirit manufactured from many other cheaper ingredients. Alcohol can be obtained from maize, potatoes, beet, molasses, and other products. All the rum made in Australia is got from molasses. I should like to know from the Minister why these small stills are to be allowed to exist, without let or hindrance. I should also like some information regarding the alterations of licence-fees and security amounts provided for in clause 18.
– The reasons that actuate the Department in permitting the unrestricted use of small stills are, first, the heavy penalty to which the illicit distiller of spirits is liable, and, secondly, the fact that to distil potable spirit in a still of a capacity of less than 1 quart would be more costly than to buy the spirit at an hotel.
– I doubt that.
– That is what my officers tell me. They are quite satisfied that it is impossible to produce spirit in these small stills at a cost which would not be in excess of the price at which it could be bought in the open market. They say that there is no risk to the revenue.
– Is it not possible to have what is known as a continuous still with a capacity of a gallon, which, if run from 8 o’clock in the morning until 8 o’clock at night, would distil much more than a gallon?
– I am informed that that is not the case. The officers of the Department are very zealous in their desire to protect the revenue, but they are satisfied that this provision will not lead to illicit distillation. Throughout the Commonwealth, . there is a large number of stills used for experimental purposes, and they have given the Department ah enormous amount of trouble. As they are used entirely for scientific purposes, the Government do not feel justified in imposing a licence-fee that would be commensurate with the expense entailed by supervision.
– The Government are creating trouble for themselves.
– If trouble does arise from this concession - and it is a concession for scientific purposes - it will be a comparatively simple matter to remedy the defect later.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 -
After section 11 of the principal Act, the following section is inserted in Part II.: - 11a. The provisions of the last two precedingsections shall not apply to any still of a capacity not exceeding one gallon.
Sections referred to -
No person shall without permission -
make or commence to make any still;
sell or purchase amy still, either by itself or with other property, or as part of any premises;
Penalty: One hundred pounds. 11. (1) Stills may be used for any purpose other than the distillation of spirits if the owner has -
given security to the collector in such sum as the collector requires not exceeding One hundred pounds that thestill shall not be used for distilling spirits.
Any still used in contravention of this section shall be an illicit still.
.- The Government are making a mistake in proposing to exempt stills of a capacity not exceeding 1 gallon. At Tambo, in Western Queensland, twenty-five years ago, I saw a man making whisky on the bank of the Barcoo River, and his still had not a capacity of half-a-gallon. Yet I have seen him produce a small cask of whisky in a very short time, and it was sold over an hotel bar. This clause is a premium on illicit distillation. No doubt the justification offered for it is that not much spirit can be made in a still of a capacity of 1 gallon ; but if it be run continuously night and day, hundreds of gallons of spirit can be produced in the course of a month.
– This concession is only for the benefit of stills used for laboratory purposes.
– I know that, but the Government would be safeguarding the revenue if theylimited the capacity of the still to half-a-gallon. That will be no inconvenience to persons using a still in a laboratory, because they have plenty of time. In the Wide Bay district a few years ago, hundreds of illicit stills were in operation. All stills, of whatever capacity, ought to be licensed, just as, in most of the States, every gold-buyer is licensed. If the stills are registered, the Government will know where they are, and what is being done with them. All I ask of the Government is to do what is necessary to protect the revenue.
.- For some time past, we have been endeavouring, under the War Precautions Act and other Statutes, to limit the consumption of alcohol, hut the Government are now* submitting a provision that will tend to increase the consumption of liquor under conditions which they cannot control. If the idea is to exempt stills used for only scientific purposes, then all stills ought to be licensed, and licences for exempt stills should be granted only to persons who are engaged in some way in scientific research. Why should we make a general law which will enable anybody to illicitly manufacture spirits in competition ‘with, those who pay licence-fees? If I had my way, there would be no manufacture of spirits at all except for scientific purposes. I ask the Minister to take into serious consideration the desirability of’ amending the clause. There are in this country thousands of people who view the manufacture of spirits very seriously indeed. Why should the Government bring in a Bill that will allow any person to manufacture a commodity which is recognised as dangerous to a very considerable number of people ? If a licence is to be granted in this way it Should be only for scientific purposes.
– Then every applicant for a licence would be a scientist.
– I apprehend that in the administration of our laws common sense will be exercised. If a man is ascientist. he should come under and receive the advantages of this clause; tut if he is not, he has no right to enjoy the advantages which it will afford. The Bill will not be perfect unless it is so amended that none, but those desiring to distil spirits for scientific purposes will be allowed to do so under this clause.
– I do not think that the passing of this clause is likely to be attended by any of the dire consequences which some honorable members appear to anticipate. Such things have certainly not happened in the past. My officers tell me that no still that would come within the technical departmental definition as being of 1 gallon capacity could possibly produce more than half an egg-cupful of spirits, even if it worked continuously for twenty-four hours. Any still that would produce more than that quantity would not come within the definition laid down in this case. Our officers, who have to interpret this law, naturally do not wish to go further than is necessary, and they are’ perfectly satisfied that the revenue will not be prejudiced in any way by the passing of this particular provision. As to the point raised by the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Palmer), I would remind him of the statement I made in speaking upon the second reading of the Bill, that I cannot imagine a man . using a still of this capacity to distil his grog, since it would cost him more to do so than he would have to pay for what he wanted at a local hotel.
– What if hs were in the bush?
– Then it would pay him to mount his horse and ride into the nearest township.
– The honorable gentleman does not seem to know much about what happens in the bush.
– 1 know as well as does any man who has travelled in the bush that a good many illicit stills are to be found there. This amending measure, however, will not add to or reduce the number’ of illicit stills now in existence. The departmental officers say that it will do no more than relieve the Department of a great deal of unnecessary trouble and expense, in respect of which they cannot be recouped. There is a good deal of talk about economy in these days, and here we have a small matter in respect of which the Department is trying to economize.
– Is there any objection to the registration of these stills?
– I am prepared to consider the question of whether all these stills should not be registered.
– I take it that it is the desire of the Minister that this power should be ‘granted merely for the distillation of spirits for scientific purposes.
– Yes; for experimental work.
– Then I think the honorable gentleman might well . adopt the suggestion that all such stillsshould be registered. Spirits are not likely to be distilled for scientific purposes in the bush.. Having regard to the experience of other countries, it is reasonable to predict that if we do not provide for the registration of stills they will come into use all over the country. In the country in which I had the honour to be born the manufacture of liquor at one time was wholly prohibited by law, with the result that private stills came into general use.
– The distillation of spirits became a “ home industry.” “
– Yes, and a poisonous stuff was produced. I am” reminded of a story that MaxO’Rell tells of the state of Scotland at that time. He tells of an old shepherd who, while travelling with his flock, called at a chemist’s shop, since there were no hotels in the neighbourhood, and obtained what was supposed to be whisky for use as a medicine. After his departure, the chemist found that he had supplied him with the wrong liquid. He set in pursuit of the shepherd, but failed to find him. A week later, however, the man turned up again, and asked to be supplied with some more of the same sort of stuff. The chemist put his hands together and thanked God that the man was still alive. “ I am delighted to see you,” he said. “Do you know that the liquid I gave you was aqua fortis?” “ I do not care whether it was . aqua forty, fifty, or a hundred,” said the man ; “ I only know that it has kept my belly warm ever since.” If we are going to allow distillation to go onwithout registration, we may have all over the country stills capable of producing in twenty-four hours half an egg-cupful of a liquid that will poison many that have not the cast-iron constitution of Max. O’Rell’s shepherd. Those who are fond of reading poems of the Australian bush will remember Essex Evans’ Gulf Country Brew, which tells of the lengths to which people with a craving for drink will go in order to satisfy it. Such individuals would not care if they had to work for twenty-four or even forty-eight hours to obtain an egg-cupful of whisky,! - having regard to the strength of the spirit which would in. this way be distilled. Voicing the opinion of a number of. people in my electorate who have been sending to me petitions praying for the curtailment of the liquor traffic, I should be delighted to see this measure curtail in every way possible the manufacture of spirits.
– In order to expedite the passing of the Bill and to allay the fears of honorable members, I shall move - -
That the following words be added to the proposed new section, “ except as to registration.”
The effect of the amendment will be to require the registration of . all the small experimental stills.
.- I hope that the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Palmer) will not be satisfied with this amendment. It is all very well for the Minister, under the pretence of allowing the distillation of whisky for scientific purposes, to propose to give an added stimulus to an industry to which we are all opposed. The honorable member for Echuca, as a temperance reformer, is true to his principles, andI am pleased he has taken the bold step he has to-night. If the temperance people throughoutthe country were to see to-morrow that the Government, in their efforts to start new industries, was allowing private stills to be established, we should be inundated with petitions ; and there is no doubt that it is our duty to protect the . morals of the people as well as the revenue. If the honorable member presses his suggestion to a division, I shall vote with him. The Go-, vernment at the last election were returned as a reform Government with the aid of the Temperance party, and should have some regard to temperance principles. Drink has proved a great curse in this and other countries; and the honorable member for Echuca, by his effort to-night, has raised himself considerably in my estimation.
– I am informed that the amendment - of the Minister effectively covers the whole ground, but I should be still more satisfied if there was a short addition to the effect that none except those who are engaged in scientific investigation shall te permitted to distil spirits. If this was done it would relieve honorable members from condemnation bv people outside.
– I am afraid I am unable to accept the suggestion of the honorable member.
.- I think the Committee are making a mistake in allowing this provision to remain in theBill. The Minister assures us that a still of the kind contemplated will produce only half an egg-cupful of spirits in twenty-four hours. Of course, the Government have the advantage of expert knowledge; but I can hardly credit that statement to the Minister. At the Bundaberg distillery I have seen stills not quarter the size of the table in this chamber capable of producing a. quarter of a million gallons in the year. I agree with the honorable member for Henty (Mr; Boyd) that once people acquire a taste for spirits they will drink any kind of spirit, and it is known that in the big cities there are people, though I am pleased to think very few, who drink even methylated spirits.
– They will drink scent.
– I could understand a person drinking scent, but certainly not methylated spirits.
– I have seen people drink “ farmer’s friend.”
– I do not know what that is.
– It is an embrocation.
– Of course, there is a certain amount of spirits in every embrocation, I am glad that the Government are going to -keep a check on every still. In -the Grampians electorate there are more distillers of eucalyptus oil than in any other part of Australia, and each distiller has to register his still. The Customs authorities can get a list of every distiller in that district within twenty-four hours. There has lately been an increase in the duty and excise on spirits; and every such increase is an incentive to illicit, distillation. Spirits can be produced from the . potato, or maize, and other gram, a’t any cost from 2s. 6d. per gallon. Under the present law, spirit distilled must be kept two years in order that it may mellow with age; and this, of course, makes it more expensive. If a man were to distil, say, at 4s. or 5s. a gallon, keep the product for two years, and then pay the duty of £1 when it was released from bond, it would by that time be worth, I should say, 30s. a gallon. Under the proposal in the Bill a still, although it can produce only half an egg-cupful in twentyfour hours, could be kept running continuously, and a person could have as many stills as he chose. The Government are quite right to insist upon registration, but I think that otherwise their- proposal is. only an incentive to illicit distillation.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 4 to 13 agreed to.
Clause 14 -
Section 55 of the principal Act is repealed, and the following section inserted in its stead: - “ 55. All operations under this Act and fortifying of -wine shall, for the protection of the revenue, be subject to the right of supervision ‘by an officer.”
– I move -
That the words “ for the protection of the revenue, be subject to the right of supervision by an officer “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ unless exempted in writing by the Collector, be carried on in the presence of an officer.”
Some doubt has been raised as to whether the present terras of clause 14- make proper provision for what is required, and, on the advice of the Law authorities the drafting of the clause has been altered to the terms of the further proposed amendment. . The alteration is made in the interests of the manufacturers, and to avoid unnecessa’ry expenditure by them. Section 55 of the- principal Act is mandatory on the Department in requiring that all operations and fortifying of wine shall be carried on in the presence of an officer. In the case of all large distilleries this is, of course, strictly carried out; but in regard to vignerons’ stills, where one Excise officer has to supervise the operations in a whole district,, as, for example, the country within, say, 20 miles of Rutherglen, it is not possible for him to be present during the distillation of the fortifying spirit. The maximum capacity of each still is, however, known, and effective steps are taken, and safeguards imposed, to insure that no illicit spirit is being distilled. The amendment proposed is for the purpose of bringing the law into conformity with the practice, and to provide that, whilst the revenue is safeguarded, a certain amount of elasticity shall be allowable in the matter of administration.
.- The full significance of this clause .may not, perhaps, be recognised by the Committee. Before Federation, spirit for fortifying wine was duty free in Victoria, and winegrowing was encouraged in every possible way. The State expended many thousands of pounds in developing the industry, and when phylloxera devastated the vineyards it came to the aid of the vignerons and established a Viticultural College and nurseries to raise resistant stocks, which were distributed at a cheap rate. On the advent of Federation an excise of ls. per gallon was imposed on spirit for fortifying wines, not for the purpose of raising revenue, but merely to pay the expenses of supervision. The Tariff Commission, headed by Sir John Quick, investigated the industry, and recommended that the Excise duty on spirits used in fortifying wine should be reduced to 6d. per gallon. Parliament, after giving the matter careful consideration, reduced the duty from ls. to 8d., at which figure it remained until the last Budget was laid before this House, when the Government suddenly raised it from 8d. to 6s. per gallon. This sudden rise has imposed a most staggering burden on the wine-growing industry. In some cases it will involve its speedy destruction. The wines that are mostly consumed in Australia are the sweet wines.
In fact, they cannot be produced without the aid of fortifying spirit, which is put into them, not for the purpose of making them stronger alcoholically, but for the ‘ purpose of preserving them and preventing, fermentation. Without the use of spirit most of our wines would turn sour. Prior to Federation some of the State laws permitted the use of salicylic acid and other preservatives injurious to the people, but the Federal law has prohibited the use of such things, rendering it all the more necessary for the vignerons to use spirits. The wines of Portugal and Spain imported into Australia are fortified to the extent of 40 per cent, of proof spirit, but under our laws, no wine made in Australia can be fortified to the extent of more than 35 per cent. The standard is about 34 per cent. Owing to the State encouragement of the industry, certain classes of grapes for the production of sweet wines have been grown, and in the Indi electorate it is absolutely impossible, for the vignerons to produce dry wines, or even wines of any description, without fortifying them to an extent. The rise in the Excise duty means an added impost of £133,000 per annum upon the industry. The position of the winegrower is quite different from that of the distiller or brewer. If an Excise duty is placed on spirit or beer, the merchant or brewer simply adds it to the cost of the article, and he can put it into consumption the very next day at the increased price, but wine which is fortified has to mature for three years. Therefore, the financial burden on the wine-grower through having to pay this greatly increased duty on the spirits used for fortifying his product not only amounts to £133,000 per annum, but has to be calculated at three times that amount. In other words, the wine-growers of Australia will be called on to provide £400,000 extra per annum, as well as an additional interest bill of £26,000 per annum.
– Cannot they pass it on to the consumer?
– It cannot be passed on to the consumer at once. The wine has to be mature for three years. The inevitable result of this heavy impost will be that wine-growers will endeavour to get rid of their wines as soon as they” can, and the country will be flooded with that stuff known as “ Pinkie.” It is in the interests of this community to see that the wine drunk in Australia is properly matured, but this extra Excise on spirits used in fortifying wine will have the very opposite effect. Every year about 625,000 gallons of spirit are distilled from grapes in Australia, and in 1916-17 the quantity used for fortifying wines was 452,000 gallons. The vignerons have been reconstituting their vineyards as a consequence of the inroads made by phylloxera, but some of the newly-planted vines are now coming into bearing, and more wine will be produced, entailing the consumption of a larger quantity of spirit. The wine-growers are quite willing to shoulder a fair share of the extra burden placed on the people of Australia, but it must strike every honorable member that it is an extraordinary jump to raise the Excise duty on the spirits used for fortifying wine from 8d. to 6s. per gallon. The Treasurer says that the increase has been provided for the purpose “of obtaining revenue, but surely it is not a fair impost on an industry that the States have encouraged in every possible way, and upon which they have spent thousands of pounds with that end in view. I am given to understand that the capital invested in the industry is between £12,000,000 and £15,000,000. andI trust that the Government in providing that an officer of the Excise Department shall be present when, wine is being fortified will also see that the extra Excise demanded from the wine-growers will not be an inducement to them to endeavour to avoid the provisions of the Bill. A vigneron with 50 acres of vines will produce 10,000 gallons of wine per annum, and use 1,400 gallons of spirit for fortifying purposes. With 8s. per gallon as the cost of the spirit and 6s. for Excise a vigneron with 50 acres of vines will thus be called upon to pay in Excise duty and cost of spirit a sum of £980 for one year, or £2,940 for three years, at the end ofwhich time he ‘“will have the opportunity of disposing of theproduct of his vineyard.
– What about the stocks already matured ? Does not the vigneron as a matter of practice place the extra duty on the stocks he already holds ?
– Order! This debate is getting quite outside the amendment.
– I was endeavouring to keep within the limits of the amendment. If I am transgressing I shall take some other opportunity of giving honorable members some information about this important industry which is called upon to bear such aheavy additional burden.
.- As I understand the amendment, distillation must be carried on in the presence of an officer unless exempted in writing by the Collector. If it is not possible for an offioer to be present, can the vigneron secure permission in writing to go on with his work?
– The Crown Law officers have said that on further consideration they believethat the words proposed in the Bill would compel an officer always to be present. By the amendment we can allow a man to go on distilling with the officer not present at the actual operation.
– That being the case I am quite satisfied.
.- Under the proposed amendment a distiller may get exemption from the Department and no officer need be present when distillation is in progress. The original provision in the Bill was that the presence of an officer was required for the sake of protecting therevenue. I congratulate the Acting Minister on the fact that the Departmentrecognised how essential it is to have a responsible officer present, not for the sake of protecting the revenue, but in order to safeguard the interests of the public in other directions. I am beginning to understand what the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Jensen) said when introducing the Bill, namely, that it would remove certain disabilities which distillers had discovered. The Acting Minister (Mr. Greene) now comes forward, and says that the matter of protecting the “revenue is of little consequence, and that certain distillers who are able to get the ear of the Minister or get on the right side of the Government can have their premises exempted from the necessity of having an officer present when distillation is in progress. I suppose that the Government think that they can protect the revenue without the presence of an officer.
– We are quite sure that we can do so.
– I am quite sure that the Minister is wrong. I regret that I was temporarily absent from the chamber when the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Palmer) pointed out the grave danger confronting Australia. There are thirty-four distilleries to be watched. It is a matter of notoriety that the liquor trade has to be watched from the beginning to the end of its operations. In an interesting article about Japan, which I have just read, it is stated that in Tokio the watchmen going along with their clappers make such a noise that burglars are able to hide until they have passed, when they can resume their operations in safety. The spirit trade seems to get similar warning. Certainly, despite the watching, it is able to find loopholes in every law that is passed for its control. Even the Excise officer in a distillery may be deceived. No other business is so clever at evading and flouting the law as is the liquor business. Is it to be thought that permission to carry on distilling in the absence of an officer representing the Government will make the distillers honest ? The history of the liquor trade is such that no one can be simple enough to imagine such a thing. There is at present a recognition of the fact that those in this business will try to dodge the revenue officers, but it is proposed that the protection of the revenue shall no longer be considered, and that the consideration shall be the inconvenience to distilleries of having a Customs officer present all the time.
– The honorable member is not fairly representing what the Minister said.
– The Government have changed their mind since the introduction of the Bill.
– There has been no change of intention.
– Who pays for the presence of Excise officers in distilleries?
– The Government.
– Then the saving of expense will be an inducement to the Government to allow exemptions.
– We merely propose to enact by law what has been the practice of the Department throughout. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) knows that.
– Is not the present Minister prepared to profit by the experience of the past, and to adopt better methods? According to theYear-Booh, there are thirty-four distilleries in Australia.
– The honorable member would not give the distilleries a show.
-I would wipe them out altogether.. For years the attempt has been made to get the distillers and the brewers to do the fair thing by manufacturing the pure article, but it has not succeeded, and will never succeed. In the United Kingdom fifty-five Acts have been passed during the last fifty-five years to try to make the liquor traffic behave itself, and they have failed.
– The honorable member is going outside the amendment.
– From now on the business of distillation should be watched more closely. We shall be interested to see what new distilleries are established, and whether the supervision is effective. No doubt the number of distilleries will increase considerably. We shall want to know how many of them are under supervision, and whether the supervision is as effective, as it was. It is almost certain that exemptions will be freely issued, and under a sympathetic Minister or. Government supervision will practically cease, and may become unknown. It is proposed that it shall be left to the sweet will of the Minister to say whether, supervising officers shall be ‘employed or not. From the point of view of the public interest, that is very serious. Does the Minister think that he is going to secure better control of distillation, . more effective supervision, and greater protection of the revenue? I prophesy failure, because no Government Department anywhere has been able to beat the liquor interest. Look at the sly grog-selling that is going on at the present time, although officers of the law are appointed by hundreds to try to prevent it.
– If sly grog-sellers were put into gaol without the option of a fine, sly grog-selling would soon be stopped.
– It is a trouble that would continue under prohibition.
– Not with a Ministry in sympathy with prohibition, and prepared to enforce it. The country has to take the consequences of measures like that under consideration, and a large and a growing number of persons will watch the effect of this change in the law. The Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) has been having a pretty bad time of late because of his attitude towards the liquor question, and the conduct of the Honorary Minister (Mr. Greene) will be carefully watched from now on. According to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Jensen), the Bill is to make it easier for the distillers.
– I have never thanked the publicans for having helped to return me to Parliament.
– The Minister will have a thankless task in trying to please them. They will be ready to play on his sympathies, and the Bill will give them a splendid opportunity. So long as the honorable gentleman is willing to give concessions to the distillers, they will treat him as a. real good fellow, but people outside will watch him closely. They will want to know the . effect of the alteration of the law, what the Excise officers are doing, and whether the revenue is being protected and the interests of the public safeguarded. I am not sanguine that this or any other law will do any good.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to-.
Clause 15 -
Section 70 ofthe principal Act is repealed.
Section proposed to be repealed -
No person shall -
Sell spirits of a less strengththan twenty-five degrees under proof. . . .
– I move an amendment -
That the words “ is repealed “ be struck out, and the words “ is amended by omitting paragraph 1 thereof” be inserted in lieu thereof.
Paragraph 1 of section 76 is being struck out to meet the wishes of several of the State Governments, which are desirous of providing for the sale of spirits at a strength down to 30 degrees under proof. We recognise that the control of the sale of goods, including spirits, within a State appertains rather to the State than to the Federal authority, and if the States desire for their own purpose to allow the sale of spirits at a strength down to 30 degrees under proof we see no objection to their doing so.
.- I do not know whether the Minister has arrived at any understanding with the State Governments to the effect he has mentioned, but the amendment he has proposed will enable persons to sell Australian wine of more than 25 degrees under proof.
– South Australia adopted such a law two years ago.
– Have the other States agreed to it?
– Victoria has.
– No, it is only being considered by the Victorian Government.
– We may eliminate the portion of section 76 referred to and then find that some of the States have not agreed to legislate on the subject.
– Each State has its own independent rights.
– Then what was the necessity to include this paragraph in the original Act?
– The position is that, although that provision has been in the Act since 1901, we have no constitutional power to enforce it. Some of the States have already legislated in this regard, and I believe that the others intend to do so. Whether the paragraph is struck out or allowed to remain the position will not be altered.
– Has the power ever been tested?
– I do not know; but I am telling the Committee what is said by the Government’s legal advisers.
– The original Act was framed by the late Mr. Kingston, than whom there was no better draftsman in Australia, and it seems strange that after seventeen years the Government’s legal advisers now discover that the power is unconstitutional, although it has never been tested. If this provision was necessary, and we have the constitutional power to enforce it, the Minister ought to make representations to the different States, urging them to amend their Acts governing this matter. However, as the Minister has explained that the striking out of the paragraph from the original Act will make no difference, I will offer no opposition to the amendment.
.- The paragraph proposed to be struck out relates to all spirits, and not to wine, as the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) seemed to think, and this amendment will make it possible for spirits of any strength to be sold.
– That is possible now. Our legal advisers say that the paragraph might as well not be in the Act.
Mr.TUDOR. - People will be able to sell spirits of a less strength than 25 degrees under proof, but they will have to pay excise at per proofgallon, according to the strength of the spirits.
– The revenue will not be affected.
– This will enable the sale of spirits at any degree under proof unless the States legislate to the contrary. I read in this morning’s paper that a question was asked in the Victorian Parliament last night as to whether the Government proposed to introduce legislation on this subject, conforming to that introduced in the New South Wales Parliament. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) has stated that South Australia has already legislated in this regard. I think it would be better for this Parliament to legislate, instead of having throughout the Commonwealth possibly six conflicting laws upon the subject.
– The honorable member’s contention is all right, but we have not the constitutional power to do as he suggests.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 16 to 18 agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : -
Schedule III. to the principal Act is repealed.
Schedule 3 relates to distillation regulations, and is exhausted, these regulations having been superseded by the distillation regulations of 1913. Consequently, there is no need for Schedule 3 to remain in the Act.
Proposed new clauseagreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Standing Orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 23rd October (vide page 7161), on motion by Mr. Jensen -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- The only amendments, of importance in this Bill are those affecting the definitions of “ methylating substance,” and “pure Australian standard brandy.” I have no objection to the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Sction 3 of the principal Act [Interpretation] is amended -
by omitting from the definition of “Medicines” the words “liniments and veterinary medicines “ and inserting in their stead the words “ such veterinary medicines and such liniments of the British Pharmacopoeia as may from time to time be prescribed under departmental bylaws.”
– I move -
That the words “ of the British Pharmacopoeia “ be struck out.
The reason for the amendment is that a number of patent medicines, which are well known, and some of which are manufactured in Australia, such as liniments and veterinary medicines, are not included in the British Pharmacopoeia, and we think they ought to come under the definition of “ Medicines “ in the principal Act. Although they are not in the British Pharmacopoeia, they are, at the same time, legitimately on the market, and we think it quite sufficient that the Department should be left to exercise its discretionary power in the matter. Needless to say, we would not grant the concession in respect to any medicine which, in our opinion, was a quack remedy that should not be on the market. There are some medicines and particularly veterinary preparations, on the Australian market which are made in Australia, and which the Department is satisfied are genuine. The retention of these words would exclude such medicines or preparations from this provision, and. would penalize Australian manufacturers.
.- It is rather remarkable that the ink used in the printing of this Bill is scarcely dry before the Minister comes along with an amendment.
– That is not unusual, and is often very desirable.
– I think it is quite unusual.
– Is this another attack on our primary industries?
– The amendment is in that direction, since it will open the door to the local manufacture of all sorts of quack medicines, which will be Dumped on the men in the bush. The fact that a medicine is made in Australia seems to bequite sufficient to satisfy some people that it will cure any disease. Will this amendment cover the blow-fly remedy?
.- Under this Bill the definition of medicine in the principal Act will be amended. I have at no time said that all patent medicines are harmful. Many patent medicines serve a useful purpose in country districts, but there are others that are only quack remedies. When I held office as Minister for Trade and Customs I did my best to expose the rottenness of the claims made in respect of the curative properties of many patent medicines. The British Medical Association did a service to humanity when it caused to be published the book entitled Secret Remedies, in which the analyses of a number of patent medicines were given, and the absurdity of the claims made in respect of many of them was shown. I believe that the present Minister will do exactly what I did to prevent the introduction of quack remedies into Australia, and I certainly hope that nothing will be done to foster their manufacture here. We have no control over the manufacture of such as medicines in Australia; the power to control their manufacture rests solely with the States. In one case I, as Minister for Trade and Customs, prohibited the importation of a certain medicine, but the proprietor coolly said, “ I can snap my fingers at you; I shall manufacture it in Australia in spite of you.” I hope, that if this amendment be agreed to, the Government will at least “be careful to safeguard - by co-operation with the States or otherwise-the interests of the poorest in the community, who alone are compelled to buy patent medicines.
– None will get an exemption except those which are specially exempt under the departmental by-laws.
– I urge the Minister to take care that the manufacture of quack remedies is not encouraged in this country. We have actually had potato starch manufactured and offered for sale in Australia as a cure for cancer.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 3 to 7 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment.
Standing Orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Relations between Prime Minister and Minister for the Navy - Transport “ Barambah “ - Public Holiday in Queensland: Federal Public Servants - Case of Thomas Mooney: Censorship.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
Re Age article referring relations between Cook and me, of which following summary has been cabled over: -
Political sensation has been caused by publication article from London correspondent Age, dated 1st October, which states that, for first three months, Hughes and Cook never met.
Cook wrote repeatedly to Hughes, but received no reply.
Cook’s later letters indicated that something unpleasant would happen to Hughes when he returned to Australia; but Hughes still preserved a rigid silence.
Hughes did not consult Cook on matter affecting relations between British and Commonwealth Governments.
The correspondent declares deputations to Hughes, particularly weekly deputations from British Empire Producers’ Association, arc stage-managed, so as to enable Hughes to make speeches. fi. Hughes desired to be -placed in charge economic construction of Empire. Lloyd George was prepared offer him a portfolio, but Liberal Coalitionists threatened trouble.
We desire to say, in regard to -
This is absolutely untrue.
This is absolutely untrue.
This is absolutely untrue. Cook never wrote letter to which I did not reply. Cook did not, in any letter or personally, indicate that something unpleasant would happen on my return to Australia. Cook’s relations with me have been uniformly cordial.
This is quite untrue.
This is quite untrue. I have only received one deputation from British Empire Producers’ Association during whole of my stay here, and one from Australian residents re income tax, at latter of which Cook was present.
This is quite untrue, and obviously tissue of falsehoods.
It is deplorable that this mischief-making should develop at a time when unity of aim and purpose are bo much to be desired. The effect of it can only be to weaken Australia’s voice and authority at most crucial moment of all.
I do not think it is necessary to add many words of mine to that emphatic contradiction of every phase of this muchcanvassed correspondent’s letter. On what that correspondent based his information, I cannot know; possibly no one in the world except himself can know. But I am prepared to take the word of the two men who know most about the matter, and that is given in plain and unmistakable language which no man who- desires to be convinced can fail to understand and appreciate.
.- Perhaps a word or two from myself would appear to be necessary. I feel that the cablegram which the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) has read leaves something to be desired. I have never heard of a cablegram being signed “ Hughes and Cook.” That is a most unusual way. Were the words “ Hughes and Cook “ attached to the cablegram by an official? I am very much interested to learn from the Acting Prime Minister that he said a “political sensation” had been caused by the statements appearing in the Age-
– I did not say that. It is in the cablegram.
– Who sent it?
– It was sent, and apparently published in the London newspapers.
– Do I understand that is the cable which the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Navy meant?
– That is the telegram that they refer to.
– They quoted that?
– They “ quoted “ it.
– Why did not the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Navy reply to the Acting Prime Minister, who tells us that he sent them cables about the matter?
– I did not say I sent cablegrams. I said a cablegram was sent.
– I do not like to. contradict the honorable gentleman, but I am under the impression he said, “ I am sending a cablegram to clear up this matter.”
– I did not say that.
– Who sent the cablegram ?
– It was sent by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), who was communicating with the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) at my request.
– Why did not the Prime Minister reply to the Minister for Defence ?
– I do not know whether he has done so.
– This thing has been going on for some time.
– The question is, what do you think of the reply I have read ?
– I do not think much of it. I -say that the statement .that the letter in the Age had created a political sensation was a statement of fact. I can well imagine the Acting Prime Minister, or some one for him, cabling to the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) something like this - 11th November. - Most urgent. Fowler and Higgs attacked you on account of your references to British Government rigmarole and contradiction of Lloyd George. Have you any explanation? Press unanimously against, you. Bruce Smith restive.
To this there is no reply; and then again - 18tn November. - Extremely urgent .Higgs returned to attack, supported by Melbourne Age correspondent. Suggest you see Joe and patch up differences. Corangamite election pending.
Then again - 23rd November. - Vitally affecting Government and party. Argus correspondent supporting Melbourne Age in remarks concerning strained relations between yourself and Cook. Have suggested Fowler actuated by personal dislike and Higgs malevolence. My remarks received in silence. Suggest in the interest of party you patch matters up with Joe.
– Now apologize for your wrong statement; it is due.
– The Age communication was dated 1st October, and appeared on 19th November; and on the 23rd November the following from the London correspondent of the Argus appeared in that paper, under date 26th October : -
There is no information as to the date of Mr. Hughes’ return to Australia. Even Sir
Joseph Cook, who must remain here as long as his chief, has no knowledge of the chief’s movements. But that is not surprising, for Mr. Hughes is a very reticent gentleman, and it would almost seem that Sir Joseph Cook is not very much in his confidence.
We who know the Prime Minister know that that is quite in keeping with his habits and customs. The man is full of ridiculous vanity and conceit, and he will not tolerate-
– Stick to the question; you cannot camouflage a retreat -like that.
– We who know him know that no one must be on the stage at the same time as himself. He is like a prima donna such as Tetrazini, who will not appear with another eminent singer at’ the same time.
– Is that why you disappeared before the drop curtain?
– We know that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) treated the High Commissioner in a very shabby fashion on his former visit to London, as can be borne out by any of the delegates there at that time. When the statement appeared in, the Age that the Prime Minister had suggested that the trade of the Empire ought to be in the hands of one man, it was quite in keeping with the Prime Minister’s utterances. When the row began in Russia, the Prime Minister, then in Australia, said, “ Russia wants a man,” meaning, of ‘course, that if he were there everything would be all right.
– I think he had the honorable member in his mind, for you are the kind of man for Russia.
– That interjection may be described by that very well-used word “ camouflage.” I can only say that if I owned the Melbourne Age I would ransack the United Kingdom for evidence in support of my correspondent’s statement. I would expect my correspondent to make a statement on oath, and furnish evidence, together with his reasons for writing what he did.
– What have the newspapers got to do with oaths?
– It is all very well for the honorable gentleman to cast aspersions on the press.
– You are casting aspersions on a man who is away.
– He is away; but when, he was in here I could not get him to stay in the House to listen to me.
– He is not to blame for that, surely?-
– You stayed long enough in the Cabinet with him.
– I got out of the Cabinet; and I have a story to tell in that connexion the moment the Prime Minister comes back. ‘ According to the Acre, -after the referendum, the Prime Minister stated in this House that I had asked him to continue to be leader of the party, and I am waiting his return to tell my connexion -with that.
– You wired to us to come and try to patch the matter up, and I came 1,000 miles on your wire.
– I would not advise the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) to pursue that line of argument, because it will bring some of us to our feet.
– Why did I wire to the honorable member and other members?
– Because you thought there was hope, and you had a very sensible idea that there was no reason why, as a party, after vindicating our principles at the referendum, we should not come together again.
– No; I wired to all the honorable members of the Labour party to come to Melbourne, because I knew that the Prime Minister was at some seaside resort side-stepping the party meeting, and I wanted to get the party together to deal with him.
– And they dealt with him.
– They did.
– He dealt with them, and we see the result.
– No, the Prime Minister walked out.
– The finest political act of his life! .
– Was it?
– I was very anxious that the party should take action with regard to the Prime Minister over the regulations and so forth, but the Prime Minister did not give the party a chance to deal with him, because he said, “ Those who believe in me follow me,” and some twenty-three did follow him.
– The most courageous act of any public man in Australia !
– There were forty-eight stayed behind.
– He was vindicating the Labour party.
– There were only forty-seven stayed behind, but one went back again.
– I have an extract from a communication by the Arte correspondent which bears truth on the very face of it. It speaks of the deputations which the Prime Minister, or his secretaries and others, arranged, and all that is in keeping with the habits and customs of the Prime Minister. What about the deputations received in the Treasury building about fruit, and a hundred different things? Representatives of the fruit-growers came from Tasmania and New South Wales, but because there- was not a representative from every State the Prime Minister refused to see the deputation. . It was part of his plan to exalt himself in the eyes of the nation.
– The Postmaster-General (Mr. Webster) would say that these remarks show professional jealousy.
– It is not professional jealousy, I assure you. I dissect the Prime Minister very much as a doctor dissects a patient, and with just as little personal feeling.
– And with just as little success!
– It may be. This extract from the Age, as I say, bears tHe impress of truth. It. refers to one of the deputations for which the Prime Minister arranged, or at any rate was willing to receive. It has reference to a deputation from the British Empire Producers Association in reference to the , rice trade in Burma. The deputation asked for the elimination’ and liquidation of all enemy rice milling firms in Burma and made other requests. The newspaper correspondent goes on to say -
Mr. Hughes, who has no knowledge of the rice trade of Burma, and no power’ of any kind to deal with it in any capacity, or to carry out the wishes of the deputation, gravely assured them the policy which they advocated of developing and maintaining a trade which had been built up largely by British capital, and wholly on Empire territory, had his earnest support, and he would be pleased to do anything he could to help them in eliminating those enemy interests which threatened that great industry.
– That is clearly a poisoned report.
– What object could the Melbourne Age have in using apoisoned report ?
– The same object as the honorable member has to-night.
– For several years during the war the Age gave the Prime Minister most loyal support. I take it it is the duty of the proprietors to call upon their correspondent to furnish reasons why he should write in this way. If he. has written a lie I take it he can no longer remain in London as the representative of the paper.
– Are you sure of that?
– If the proprietors of the Age are the men I take them to be, they are called upon by the cablegram received by the Prime Minister to justify their correspondent’s report, and if they are unable to do so, I shall feel called upon to express regret that I have occupied the time of the House in dealing out adverse criticism of the Prime Minister.
– I have received the following statement from the Minister for Defence-, with reference to the transport Barambah: -
Casualties. - With reference to the matters arising out of the last voyage of the transport Barambah with Australian Imperial Force troops on board, I have to confirm with regret the report of several casualties,- clearly, it seems, due to the outbreak of influenza, although it is not yet known how the disease was introduced on the ship. It is gathered, from the voyage reports of the Officer Commanding troops, Lt.-Colonel H. Pope. C.B., Australian Imperial Force, that the precautionary measure of forbidding shore leave had been taken at Capetown. Telegraphic news of seventeen deaths, and eight cases of illness have been received. The names will, in accordance with practice, be released for press publication tomorrow, the next of kin having been advised.
Medical. - The medical provision made before the vessel left Australia consisted of two doctors and a staff of thirty-four, there being, as a matter of fact, an excess of fifteen orderlies, due to there being Army Medical Corps reinforcements on board.
Accommodation. - The question of the shipping accommodation which can be placed at the disposal of the military authorities is one primarily for the Department of the Navy and the British Admiralty; and, so far as the condition in which the Barambah put to sea at Melbourne, and the necessity for inquiry in that regard, is concerned, the matter has been dealt with in statements by the Acting Minister for the Navy (Mr. Poynton). I am, however, advised that, whilst the vessel was fitted up for 1,154 troops, the number actually placed on board by the military authorities was 940.
Inspection. - The vessel was inspected before departure by the responsible military officers, in conjunction with the Naval Transport Staff; the results of the final inspection, as communicated to the Department at the time, being summed up in the words “ Very satisfactory.”
Inspecting Officers. - The inspecting officers were Captain C. E. Brewis, Naval Transport Officer, representing the Department of the Navy; Colonel M. Sturdee, Principal Medical Officer; and the Military Embarkation Staff Officer, Major A. E. Greig.
Deck Space. - Further, the Director of Military Transport and Supplies now reports that he interviewed Colonel Pope before leaving Melbourne, with a view to insuring that adequate deck space was provided for rank and file as well as for the officers. Colonel Pope, it is understood, indicated his intention to allot the bridge-deck to the officers, the welldeck to the Naval ratings and noncomniissioned officers, and the whole of the forward portion of the vessel to the rank and file. The vessel, I am informed, naturally lent itself to this division, which was- considered satisfactory.
State of the Ship. - I received a letter from Mr. George Foley, M.L.A., Chairman of the Western Australian Advisory Committee on Military Hospitals, stating that the troopship was not in a satisfactory state at Fremantle, flushing water for lavatories being obtainable only occasionally, . and showers being dry. Mr. Foley added: - “ The Officer Commanding says that the orderlies are trying well, and have done much to make it cleaner; and if it were any dirtier than it was on my visit, it certainly did not reflect much credit on the authorities who let her start.”
Pumping Machinery. - The explanation given in reply to Mr. Foley was that the trouble is due to a break-down in pumping machinery, which was in order when leaving Melbourne; and that no doubt, when the pumping, machinery was repaired, matters would adjust themselves. The matter is referred to in a voyage report, dated 9th September, at Fremantle, subsequently received, in which Colonel Pope stated that “ Trouble has occurred with the ship’s engines, repairs to which are being effected at this port.” He also remarked: - “ Deck space is limited, and troop-deck, when hammocks are hung at night, is somewhat congested. The best use of what is available is beingmade.”
Health, and Rations. - Continuing, the Officer Commanding said: - “The troops are in good health and spirits, and the ration issue is quite satisfactory, both in quality and quantity.”
Later, from Durban, the Officer Commanding troops reported, on 29th September, that: - “The general health and spirits of the troops has remained excellent. Discipline among the troops has been well maintained, and very little crime has occurred. Rations have continued excellent.”
At the same time, the Senior Medical Officer on board reported: -
The health of the troops has been good on the whole. There have been some cases of mumps. The food has been satisfactory in quality and quantity.”
These are the. facts relevant to the question which have come to my notice, and no reports yet to hand from the Officer Commanding troops bring in question the general suitability of the vessel for the purpose of the transport of troops. At this stage, it seems that the difficulties chiefly encountered arose from theregrettable outbreak of influenza making unexpected demands upon the medical personnel and supplies, as well as upon the ship’s accommodation. Writing from Fremantle. the Senior Medical Officer on board reported, in his usual voyage report, that the hospital accommodation was ample, and that the surgical and medical supplies were found to be in ft good condition. The Durban report does not mention these matters, which, presumably, continued satisfactory.
It may be added that Lt.-Colonel Pope, the Officer Commanding troops, was the President of the Western Australian Branch of the Returned Soldiers and Sailors Imperial League.
Return showing particulars of Deaths. 61030 Pte. Moyle, J., 9th (Vic.) General Service Reinforcements. 17th October, 1918. 61174 Pte. Jenkyn, A. W., 10th (Vic.) General Service Reinforcements. 17th October. 1918. 60964 Pte. Mathrick, C. B., 9th (Vic.) General Service Reinforcements. 17th October, 1918. 61589 Pte. Buggins, F., 12th (Vic.) General Service Reinforcements. 18th October, 1918. 61006 Pte. Tait, L., 9th (Vic.) General Service Reinforcements. 18th October, 1918. 62343 Pte. Rush, A. C, 5th (S.A.) General Service Reinforcements. 18th October, 1918. 61161 Pte. Harvey, S., 10th (Vic.) General Service Reinforcements. 18th October, 1918. 61720 Pte. Scroggie, L. R., 12th (Vic.) General Service Reinforcements. 19th October, 1918. 61000 Pte. Spinks, G. F., 9th (Vic.) General Service Reinforcements. 19th October, 1918. 3126 Pte. Breeden, D. J., Railway Unit. 20th October, 191S. 61216 Pte. Short, W. S., 10th (Vic.) General Service Reinforcements. 20th October, 19.18. 61590 Pte. Campbell, S. C, 12th (Vic.) General Service Reinforcements. No date. 61604 Pte. Dunigan, F. J., 12th (Vic.) General Service Reinforcements. No date. 61735 Pte. Meddings,’ W.E., 12th (Vic.) General Service Reinforcements. No date. 61149 Pte. Gee, J., 10th (Vic.) General Service Reinforcements. No date. 60904 Pte. Currin, J. C, 9th (Vic.) General Service Reinforcements. No date. 62323 Pte. Kabisch, A. B., 5th (S.A.), General Service Reinforcements. No date.
. -If it were possible to wait until to-morrow I would not have brought this matter forward, but following up a question which I asked the Acting Prime Minister to-day,- I wish to draw particular attention to the following telegram which I have received from Mr. Drew, the president of the Brisbane Postal Electricians -
We draw attention’ to fact Minister Defence has granted Defence Department this State Friday, 29th, holiday. We emphatically protest against differential treatment by Webster.
The Minister assures me that this is a Cabinet matter, and not one that has been decided by the Postmaster-General; but the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Page) has informed me that the employees in the . Customs Department and in “the Taxation Department have been granted a holiday . to-morrow.
– There will be no holiday in the Customs Department. Saturday is the holiday.
– Saturday is the holiday in the Postal Department also.
– If the Taxation Department officials have been granted a holiday it is in defiance of instructions.
– If there is to be a general holiday throughout Queensland tomorrow it would be better to give the Federal public servants a holiday also and deduct one of the statutory holidays granted at some other portion of the year. I know that it is difficult to arrive at a decision at this late hour, but even yet I hope that something may be done to bring about unanimity with the State in regard to this matter.
– Since 1 have handed to the Acting Prime Minister and the PostmasterGeneral a number of telegrams I have received dealing with this matter, I have received another on behalf of the Commonwealth ‘Clerical Association, which mostly concerns the Postal Department, to the following effect: -
No holiday except for Defence Department. Great consternation view Anting Prime Minister’s definite assurance. Staff has ceased, fully expecting advice morning Prime Minister’s decision prevails.
The Acting Prime Minister’s statement that the provisions of the Act would be observed was quite positive. I invite attention to section 72, sub-section 3, of the Public Service Act, which says -
Where, by or under the law of a State, any day or part of a day is appointed to be or is proclaimed as a public holiday or bank holiday or half-holiday throughout such Statu, or in any part of such State, such day or half-day shall bc observed as a holiday or half-holiday (as thu case may be) in the public offices of the Common wealth throughout such State or in such part of such State (as thu cast’ may hu).
– That is one basic section, but there are a number of others dealing with the matter.
– Furthermore, the Arbitration Court award governs the matter of holidays.
– The Acting Prime Minister is fully aware that to-morrow and Saturday have been proclaimed throughout Queensland as holidays for the celebration of the signing of the armistice. It seems invidious that when the whole of the State is rejoicing at such a happy event the Commonwealth servants should be kept continuously employed, and are not to be permitted to join in with their fellow citizens. For the sake of one day. is it worth while creating such an invidious distinction, and the amount of dissatisfaction that must be felt among the Commonwealth employees? What advantage will be gained in comparison with the disadvantages to the Commonwealth servants? On such an occasion as this the whole State will be rejoicing and holiday making.
– Is it not a disadvantage to the public to have public offices closed for three days, particularly the postal service?
– The State public offices will be closed for three days.
– They are nothing in comparison with the postal service.
– The business of Queensland will be suspended for three days. Who imagines that if the business places are closed there will be any serious disadvantage occasioned to them through their not being able to receive their letters? Even if they could get their letters, what use could they make of them ? They could not send away any goods. The decision of the Federal Government will cause a considerable amount of dissatisfaction among the public servants of the Commonwealth, and will put them in a most unenviable and unsatisfactory position as regards their relations with other citizens of the State of Queensland. I ask for no concession for Queensland that will not be equally applicable to any other “State. The provision of the Act is quite clear. The Acting Prime Minister’s statement was positive, and I wired that the provisions of the Act would be observed.
– And they are being observed.
– As interpreted by the Government.
– By the advisers of the Government.
– The public servants of Queensland and of the other States wish to know how the Government or their advisers can interpret the Act to mean that when a State proclaims a day to be a public holiday they are not to have the advantage of it. The Government might well consider, even at this late hour, whether the Commonwealth public servants in Queensland should not be placed on the same level as the public servants of the State.
.- I nin going to ask the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) to consider the removal of the censorship supervision regarding information concerning the case of Thomas Mooney, who was convicted in connexion with a bomb explosion that occurred during a preparedness parade at San Francisco on the 20th July, 1916. I have brought the matter up before, when speaking on the censorship. The censor has prevented the publication of extracts from American papers dealing with the case, and appeals made by American Labour and Labour in other countries for a new ‘r’..d for Mooney. Circulars containing these appeals were sent to Australia, and were published in the Worker and in other newspapers, yet the censor in Victoria refused to sanction their publication in the Socialist. - According to to-night’s Herald -
Mr. John Densmore, Federal investigator, has found appalling conditions of vice and crookedness in San Francisco. He announces that he has learned of gross corruption in the Mooney case since his investigation began in June. Mr. Densmore’s report is a national sensation. He says: - “It is difficult tn realize how rotten things are in San Francisco. All power and authority are completely in the hands of a gang. The prosecuting attorney, Fickert, is a tool of the interests higher up, juries are ! fixed.’ innocent men are convicted, and deep-dyed criminals freed. Thu jury in one of the Mooney cases was ‘ fixed ‘ absolutely.”
Although this is allowed to appear in the Herald, if an attempt is made to publish it in the next issue of the Socialist, and the censor acts as he has acted previously, he will forbid the publication. I ask the Acting Prime Minister to intimate to the censor that the information regarding the case communicated by American Labour to every, civilized country, urging- Labour in other countries to bring pressure to bear on the American authorities to secure justice for Mooney, is not to be suppressed. Mooney has been reprieved from time to time as a result of the protests of Labour in other countries against the frame-up in San Francisco. The investigator of the United States Government lias secured proof that the evidence which brought about Mooney’s conviction was a frame-up, pure and simple, birt in Victoria the censorship has been used to prevent the bringing of the facts before the working classes.
– That cannot be so if, as the honorable member says, the facts have been published in the Melbourne Herald.
– Why is there discrimination?
– There may have been discrimination in one or two cases.
– It is still going on.
– Wo, it is not.
– At this hour I shall not detain honorable members by reading the copious extracts which I have here which have appeared in the Labour press of the different States, and the publication of which in the Socialist has been prohibited by the Victorian censor. I have here an extract from the speech made by Karl Liebknecht in Germany, for which he was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment, because he urged the Germans to overthrow the military autocracy there. This speech was published in the Worker, but was refused publication in the Socialist.
– Does the honorable member ask me to see that the censor shall not prevent the publication in the Socialist of the article that he says appears in to-night’s Herald?
– I ask you to take’ into consideration the advisability of instructing the censor not to prohibit the publication of news concerning the Mooney case, not merely this particular item.
– I shall look into the matter, if the honorable member will finish his speech shortly.
– The honorable gentleman is getting restive. At 10 o’clock he moved the adjournment of the House to read a cablegram. “
– The honorable member sees the state of the House.
– Yes, but there were fewer members present earlier in the evening, when a Bill for the granting of a bounty for the production of certain materials was. being considered.
– I call attention to the state of the House.
A quorum not being present,
Mr. Speaker adjourned the House at 10.56 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 November 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1918/19181128_reps_7_87/>.