9th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Kt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 3 p.m. and read prayers.
– By leave - It is -with very deep regret that I announce to the House that Senator Stephen Barker died on Saturday last. I move -
That this Rouse expresses its sincere regret at the death of Senator Stephen Barker, and places upon record its appreciation of his ‘meritorious public services, and extends its profound sympathy to bis family in their sad bereavement.
I am sure that all honorable members of this House learned with very great regret of this Bad occurrence. This is another of those occasions, which have been all too frequent in recent years, when the Parliament on its assembling has to express its regret at the passing of one of its members. Senator Barker had long been connected with the political life of this country, although it was only in 1910 .that ho became actively engaged in .federal politics by entering the Senate as one of the representatives of the State of Victoria. He retained his senatorial position until 1919, and then after an absence of three years from the Senate he was’ again elected in 1922. The late senator had devoted the whole of his life to efforts for the betterment of his fellow men, and his services to the industrial section of this country’ were always painstaking and self-denying. He was one of the greatest supporters of the trades union movement, and rendered very great assistance to it in its early days in Victoria. He was associated with the Trades Hall as secretary of the Trades Hall Council for many years. Throughout his life he had one goal in front of him, the maintenance of the position of trades unionism in this country. I think that, in a great measure, the recognition ‘ of trades unionism in the industrial life of Australia is due to the unremitting labours of the senator whose death is so deplored to-day. After a long illness he passed away last Saturday, and there is nothing that we can now do save to express our very deep regret, and place upon record our appreciation of his long services to this country both as a senator and as a citizen.
To his family we extend our sympathy, and we can only hope that their grief may be a little tempered by the recognition of the high esteem in which the Tate ‘ senator was held by all who came in contact with him, whether in his public or his private life.
.- I desire to second the motion, and to associate myself with the sentiments that have been expressed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce). The late Senator Barker, as the Prime Minister has said, took an active part in the affairs of the trades union movement from its inception. He. was a foundation member of the Cutters’ and Tailors’ Union, and represented that union as a delegate on the first . wages board constituted in Victoria. He was also one of those instrumental in the formation of the first Tramway Employees’ Association which existed in Victoria. Up to the time of his death he was a delegate representative of the Musicians’ Union on the Trades Hall Council. In 1897 he was president of the Trades Hall Council, and in 1901 was elected secretary to the council, a position cf heavy responsibility, in the discharge of the duties of which he displayed ability, tact, and judgment* which won for him the esteem and goodwill of the community. Elevated to the position of senator in 1910, he continued to carry on his energetic work in the interests of the people. At the last Senate election, in 1922, he was returned at the head of the poll, which is the greatest tribute the people can pay in recognition of services well .done. Unfortunately, the late senator was then in ill-health, and gradually became worse until his death on Saturday last. He was 78 years of age when he passed away. The Labour movement will ever remember and appreciate his humanitarian efforts on behalf of the workers.
We extend our sincerest sympathy to his family in their sad bereavement. May they find some consolation in the knowledge that he left behind him a record of work well done which will always be remembered by the community.
.- As, perhaps, the oldest political friend of the late Senator Barker, I desire to place, on record, as well as I am able, my appreciation, not only of him as a man, a friend, a brother, and a comrade, but also of the splendid work he did. We shook hands on the first election at which I. was a candidate, in 1899. He was assistant secretary of the election committee, and it was to his organizing ability and his unswerving loyalty to the cause of those less advantageously placed than ourselves that I attribute my first political victory. From that moment until his death we never had the shadow of a difference. We were friends closer than brothers from that time forward. Honorable members who have fought for ideals will admit that, at times, they have become weary and down-hearted. That has happened to me sometimes, but, throughout my long friendship with the late Senator Barker, I always had the stimulus of his cheerful, happy determination and sympathy to encourage me when, but for his help, I might have failed. In the early days there was no Labour party in any of the parliaments. After my first election, I joined the Labour party with the late Senator Barker, and, through him, made many loyal comrades and friends. I have come to the conclusion that it has been worth living to have made such friends as Stephen Barker and those with whom he brought me into contact. He was the driving spirit of the Sweating Commission, and it was owing to his energy, backed up by the great work of the late Rev. Mr. Edgar, the keen legal knowledge of the late Mr. Sincock file support and help of the late Mrs. Muir, and the energy of the Honorable Samuel Mauger and others, that the foundation was laid upon which it was possible for Mr. (now Sir Alexander) Peacock to introduce the splendid legislation which he then helped to carry for the establishment of wages boards in this state, and the abolition of sweating. The conditions we found existing in those days are well described by the late Mr. Harrison Ord, inspector of the Labour department in his report of 1900. He said that employers in this city used to employ girls at half-a-crown a week, and under the pretence that they were teaching them a trade, collected that amount from them on the following Monday morning as religiously- as they paid it out on the Saturday. Mr. Harrison Ord stated that those girls were never taught a trade, as when they asked for more than 2s. 6d. a week, they were dismissed, and others taken on in their place. On the royal commission on the tramway employees’ grievances, of which I had the honour of being President, it was the driving force of the late Senator Barker which brought about better conditions for the men engaged as tramway employees and omnibus drivers in Melbourne. That report was viewed with favour, not only by people immediately connected with the Labour movement, but also by the late Sir George Turner and Liberal, members of the State Parliament. They recognized the objects of the report, and, so far as was possible, embodied them in the act. Until a few days ago there breathed, in Senator Barker, one of the best Britons whom I have had the pleasure of knowing. I shall never forget his sympathy on the death of my dear, bighearted English mother. In my trouble he was my support. My words to-day may not express what is in my mind, but I hold to-day the opinion which I have held for many years, that when we ourselves have passed through the shadows, we shall meet all those whom we have loved, revered, and honoured in thi3 life, but whom we have lost awhile. I hope that the late Senator Barker’s hand-clasp - or whatever is the mode of greeting in that country - will be the first to welcome me.
Question resolved in the affirmative honorable members standing in. their places.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to - That Mr. Speaker be requested to transmit to the relatives the foregoing resolution, and a copy of the addresses delivered thereon.
– As a mark of our respect for, and appreciation of the late Senator Barker, I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that you leave the chair until 8 o’clock this evening.
Sitting suspended from 8.1%. to 8 p.m.
– Can the Prime Minister give the House any information regarding the contents of communications between the Commonwealth Government and the British Government relating to German reparations? Is there any reason for keeping the contents of such communications secret?
– Two commissions were appointed to inquire into the subject of German reparations, and they have both reported their findings. One, in America, was presided over by Mr. Dawes, and the other, in Great Britain, by Mr. Reginald McKenna The Government has received from the British Government a full statement setting out the findings of those commissions, but no other official communication on the subject has been received. As the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) probably knows, it is intended to hold a conference in London during July, but the Government has received no official communication regarding it that can be made available to the House.
– Some time ago I asked the Minister for Trade and Customs a question relating to the rate of import duty on agricultural machinery. I would like the Minister to take steps to expedite the reply.
– Officials of the Customs department are busily engaged in finalizing the information required by the honorable member.
Building or Cruisers
– Are the statements that have appeared in the press regarding the building of cruisers for the Royal Australian Navy any indication of the intentions of the Government?
– There is great scope for a humorous reply to the honorable member’s question, but I do not propose to avail myself of it. There is no official basis for any statement regarding this matter that may have appeared in any paper. The Government intends to introduce a Bill to appropriate the £2,500,000 that was taken for defence purposes out of the financial surplus last year, and when it does so the fullest possible statement will be made to the House regarding its policy for the building of cruisers.
– Has the SoldiersCommittee appointed by this House functioned since I last asked a question on the subject, and has it finalized any of the cases brought before it?
– The committee met last Thursday, but I regret to say that the member representing the Opposition has not been present at its last two meetings.
Issue of Regulations
– Has the Government reached a decision regarding the issuing of regulations to govern wireless broadcasting ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is simply “ no,” but, to amplify that answer slightly, the Government hopes to make an announcement in the near future.
– Has the Government reached a decision on the request made by the Interstate Dairying Conference for . a scheme for marketing dairy produce?
– No, but I refer the honorable member to a statement made in the House last Friday by the Minister for Trade and Customs, in reply to a question on the same subject.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
and the “ reasonable price,” under section 5 (4), as-
The amount of the dumping duty, under section 5. is the difference between the “ reasonable price” of the goods and the exportprice.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
In view of the strained and serious financial position of Tasmania, will he assure thisHouse that proposals for financial relief to Tasmania will be submitted at no distant date?
– This matter is already receiving the attention of the Government.
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. In 1912, the Government acquired land at Mount Gambier for the erection of a wireless station from Mr. A. J. Kilsby, at a cost of £140. The buildings were erected by the Works and Railways Department, and the wireless equipment was obtained from various sources and installed by the Government. The total capital cost of the station was £2,438.
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice - .1. How many boy migrants have landed in each of the states under the agreement made between the Commonwealth and the Imperial Government?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions arc as follow: - 1 and 2. A statement containing the information asked for by the honorable member is in course of preparation, and will be furnished at an early date.
Mr. E. RILEY (for Dr. MALONEY asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the bicycles which officers of the department are compelled to ride are dangerous to life and limb?
Will he cause reports to be furnished by the responsible officers of the Postal Department of breakages of bicycles, used by officers whilst on duty, during the past six months?
Is it a fact that to use bicycles on postmen’s rounds where the letters are placed in boxes is most inconvenient? ‘ 4. Is it a fact that to deliver letters in boxes supplied, the postman would have to ride on footpaths to be effective?
Will he cause reports to be furnished by the responsible officers, as to the advisability of the curtailment of the use of bicycles for the delivery of letters?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: - ‘ 1. No. 2, The approximate number of repairs carried out per annum is 7.5 per bicycle. Out of this number 1.12 replacements of various items are made in respect of broken or damaged parts. 3, No. In many instances the postmen commence their rounds at a considerable distance from the post office, or are employed on deliveries which permit ‘ of the bicycles being freely ridden on the round. 4, No. 5, Bicycles are used only on those rounds where benefits result, consequently there is no wise for curtailment.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
On whose recommendation was the service inaugurated 1
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Supplies for Western Australia
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
– On the 20th June the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) asked the following questions : -
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information: - 1. (a) 270; (6) 123. 2. (a) 111; (o) 105.
– On the 4th April the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) asked for information as to the disposal of a quantity of Australian tomato sauce sent as part of the consignment of goods for the relief of the starving people of Japan. I am now able to inform the honorable member that the British Ambassador at Tokio has forwarded a report on the investigations of the Emergency Earthquake Relief Bureau with regard to the distribution of the supplies sent by the Government and people of Australia after the earthquake of 1st September, 1923. According to this report, all the goods were distributed by the relief centres at Tokio and Yokohama with the exception of a small quantity which were considered unsuitable for general consumption. These were sold, and the amount received was credited to relief funds. With regard to the particular consignment of tomato sauce, the report shows that the whole of this was distributed from the relief centres.
Payment fob Holidays.
– On the 13th June, in reply to the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony), I informed him that the question of paying the employees of Cockatoo Island Dockyard for their Christmas holidays, and for the day when work was stopped on account of the visit of the Special Service Squadron, was re- . ceivingfurther consideration. I now desire to inform the honorable member that the Government is of opinion’ that, as the shipping board has been placed by Parliament in full control of the dockyard, and is expected to carry on work on a strictly business basis, there would be no justification for interfering with the decision of the board not to grant pay for these holidays, and thus throwing a financial obligation on the dockyard which is not borne by its competitors. It is considered, moreover, that an undesirable precedent would be created were the Government to make these payments independently of the board. Such action would rightly be interpreted by the board as an interference in the management of the dockyard. For these reasons the Government cannot consent to meet the wishes of the employees in this matter.
– On the 9th May, the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) asked me the following questions : -
I then stated that the information would be obtained. The replies to the honorable member’s questions are:-
Bonds and bills of the face value of £170,371,240 have been surrendered to the Treasury in exchange for bonds of other denominations, in exchange for stock, on conversion into bonds of new loans, and on redemption. Particulars of the denominations of the bonds so surrendered are not readily available. The face value of bonds and bills outstanding on the 30th April, 1924, is £41,5S3,G70. War gratuity bonds, which were transferable with the consent of the secretary to the Treasury, and which have now been redeemed or converted, are not included in the totals given.
– On the 29th May the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Watson) asked the following questions : -
I answered the honorable member’s first question in the affirmative, and to the second question I stated that the matter was then being investigated. I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that the headstones which are being erected over war graves in Western Australia are identical in size and design with the stones which are being erected universally by the Imperial War Graves Commission and with those which are being erected in other states in Australia. The stones differ from the general type only in the nature of the material and the style of lettering. In marking the graves of our soldiers the use of local stone, where possible, in the several states has been regarded as being of primary importance. In Western Australia granite is tha most suitable local stone. This material is admirable in every respect, with the exception that the standard type of incised lettering is not sufficiently distinctive when viewed from a little distance. To overcome this defect it was decided after a number of experiments to chase the letters. This mode of treatment has proved effective, except in some instances, where the white marking in the granite predominates, the individual letters are somewhat indistinct.
This objection, however, I am advised, will disappear with age. A photograph which I am placing at the disposal of honorable members will serve to illustrate my meaning. I have consulted experts on the subject, and it has been suggested that either the chased area be painted a suitable colour or that the letters be increased in length. Painting the chased area would certainly cause the letters to show up distinctly, but it is obvious that this treatment would detract from the general appearance of a stone owing to its non-permanent appearance. I have been advised that it would not be practicable to increase the size of the letters appreciably without increasing the size of the stone. To increase the size of the stone would involve such .a serious divergence from the standard adopted by the Imperial War Graves Commission that 1 am not prepared to agree to the proposal. There is, however, the alternative of sending stone from another state, such as trachyte from Sydney, but I am sure that a proposal of this nature would not be acceptable to Western Australia, and it would, moreover, increase considerably the cost per stone. In the circumstances I feel that an alteration in the present arrangement is not desirable.
The following papers were presented : -
Royal Australian Naval College - Annual Report, 1923.
Ordered to be printed . .
Audit Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1924, No. 90.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1924, No. 89.
Norfolk Island Act - Ordinance of 1924 - No. 1 - Crown Lands.
Public Service Act - Appointment of Dr. W. T. Nelson, Department of Health.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
Explanation of Items - Immigration of Maltese - Imperial Preference - Tariff and Dumping Duties - Budget - Post and Telegraph Requirements - ‘Soldiers’ Pensions - Old-age Pensions - Mail Contractors - Stud Stock - Holiday Pay, Cockatoo Island - Allowance Postmasters.
Message recommending appropriation reported and referred to Committee of Supply.
J.n Committee of supply :
Dr. EARLE PAGE (Cowper- Treasurer [8.20]. - I move -
That there be granted to His Majesty, for or towards defraying the services of the year .1924-25, a sum not exceeding £4,076,175.
The Audit Act provides that all grants made by Parliament for ordinary services, though not including grants made in respect of special or loan appropriations or trust funds, such as old-age pensions and war pensions, shall lapse at the end of the financial year; and as it is essential that the ordinary services of government shall continue, it is necessary that Parliament shall vote money towards defraying their cost. This measure provides for two months’ SuPply for those services. Before that period has expired, I hope to afford the committee the opportunity of discussing the budget for the ensuing year. I hope to bring down the budget before the end of July - first, to give honorable members the most ample opportunity for discussing it, and, secondly, to give the public the earliest possible opportunity of knowing the financial position of the Commonwealth and the financial proposals of the Government.
As the appropriations out of revenue lapse on the 30th June, no money will be available for the payment of accounts in the new year until this Supply has been granted by Parliament. A pay-day for employees engaged on day labour rates by the Works and Railways Department falls on Wednesday, the 2nd July, and the ordinary pay-day for the Public Service falls on Friday, the 4th July. In addition, there are accounts falling due from day to day, the payment of which it is desirable should not be postponed .
After a Supply Bill has been passed by Parliament, the Governor-General’s assent to the Bill has to be obtained. When this has been done, the GovernorGeneral’s warrant for the issue of the moneys voted in the Supply Act has to be submitted to the Auditor-General for his certificate that the sums included in the warrant are legally available, and, finally, the Governor-General’s signature has to. be obtained to the warrant. It will be seen, therefore, that considerable delay occurs before moneys can be obtained under the authority of a Supply Bill, even after that bill has been passed by Parliament. It is desirable, therefore, that this bill should be passed by the House of Representatives as early as possible, so that the Senate may deal with the measure before it rises on Friday next.
The- bill now introduced provides for two months’ expenditure, so that it will be necessary to again approach Parliament * for further Supply towards the end of August. In the meantime, the Government will have brought down its budget for 1924-25, and honorable members will have had an opportunity of studying the financial proposals for the new year before they are asked to grant further Supply. The schedule to the bill is based upon the estimates for 1923-24 as approved by Parliament, and no new services are provided for. The following is a summary of the provision: -
The total amount appropriated by Parliament for the year 1923-24 for ordinary departmental expenditure, repatriation of soldiers, and other war services was £16,090,645 ; one-sixth of this amount to cover two months’ expenditure is £2,681,774. When it is remembered that five pay-days fall within the periodcovered by this Supply, it will be seen that the amount of £2,826,175, included in the schedule for these services, is well within the proportionate amount of. last year’s appropriation. .. .
The amount of £250,000 for refunds of revenue is required to pay cable receipts, which have been credited to revenue, to the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company, to repurchase stamps by the Post Office department, to refund direct taxation found to have been collected in excess, and to refund other moneys which have been paid to revenue in error.
The Government’s programme in regard to capital expenditure for 1924-25 has not yet been finally determined. It is necessary, however, to continue the uncompleted works which have already been approved by Parliament, and which will be in progress on the 30th June. The provision of £1,000,000 will be mainly applied in this direction. In addition, advances will be necessary to provide a working credit for certain trust accounts, such as the Government Printer’s trust account and the Stamp Printer’s trust account, ‘ whose balances are paid to revenue at the close of the year, and for other purposes.
As previously explained, it is not possible to bring down Supply in detail for capital expenditure on works and buildings, because the policy of the Government in this direction for the new financial year has not yet been finally determined. The £1,000,000 provided under Treasurer’s Advance is almost wholly for the purpose of continuing works in progress on the 30th June, as well as for continuing payments of a recurring nature. The following is .a statement of the department’s estimated requirements for the first two months of the financial year: -
All of this expenditure has previously been approved by Parliament, and a portion of it is payable out of the Loan Fund. These appropriations do not lapse on the 30th June, and there will probably be unexpended appropriations of the . Dr. Earle Page. amount of £400,000 available towards these works. The remaining expenditure, totalling £917,000, will be made temporarily out of the provision of £1,000,000 for Treasurer’s Advance., and the expenditure will be subsequently transferred to the relative vote when parliamentary appropriation has been obtained. The remaining provision under Treasurer’s Advance, viz., £83,000, will be available towards making advances and to meet expenditure in excess of the provision in Supply, should the necessity arise. -In order that honorable members may know at the earliest moment the result of the financial operations of the year now closing, I am arranging for a statement of the receipts and expenditure of the Commonwealth to be prepared immediately after the close of the year. The task is no light one, and it involves the obtaining of information in considerable detail from the remotest parts of Australia, as well as from London. I am hopeful, however, that a complete statement will be available in the first week in July, and I am sure that the result disclosed will approximate very closely to the exact position which will be ascertained on the final balancing of the accounts of the year.
.- It is gratifying to learn from the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) that he anticipates delivering his budget speech soon after the close of the financial year. That, of course, is a step in the right direction, and the Treasurer will earn the commendation of honorable members if he fulfils his” promise. The present Supply Bill is to cover a period of two months, or more accurately, five pay days. As the Treasurer has so clearly explained the manner in which the £1,000,000 advance i3 to be expended, the position is somewhat eased, because we were anxious to know for what purpose the amount was intended. I do not wish to take up much time at this stage in discussing the Supply, which must be granted to meet the commitments of the Commonwealth after the expiration of the present month. I desire, however, to direct attention to immigration, on which a proposed vote for £80,000 is to be expended during, the next two months. I particularly wish !o draw attention to the action of the
Government in making arrangements for bringing Maltese into the country without informing Parliament of what it was doing. The time has arrived when the Government, having come to a decision on a matter of this kind, should take Parliament into their confidence so that honorable members might be able to say whether or not they approved of the action taken. At the outset, I desire to say, in regard to Maltese immigrants, that we have nothing against them as a race. They come from a portion of the British Empire, and the Maltese who have come to this country, in whatever occupation they have been employed, have at least proved to be good unionists, and from that point of view we have no complaint to make of them.
– Many of them were good soldiers.
– I have had no experience of them in that regard, but so far as I know they are good unionists.
– And good citizens.
– That may be so. It is well known that honorable members on this side are opposed to immigration under the conditions now existing, as we believe that proper arrangements should be made to absorb the unemployed in Australia, and. to settle our own people on the land before immigrants are brought into the country. When such a scheme has been devised and is working Satisfactorily, little opposition to immigration will be offered from this aide of the chamber. My complaint is that we were not informed of what transpired’ between the Cabinet and the Maltese Government. Unfortunately, the records of the Maltese Parliament are not available in our Library. I think they should be. We should have the records of all parliaments. This question has been under consideration for a considerable time, and during the conscription controversy there was some trouble, which resulted in certain restrictions being imposed in regard to the number of Maltese allowed to enter the Commonwealth. Subsequently arrangements were made under which 260 Maltese could enter Australia every year. The Maltese Government was advised of this, and for a considerable time has been endeavouring to get the number increased. Recently, when the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) was in Great
Britain, the matter was further considered, and I have here an extract from the official report of the debate in the Senate of the Maltese Parliament on Friday, 4th January, 1924, which reads -
The Hon. Dr. Ugo P. Mifsud (Minister for Industry and Commerce) said: - … It’ is my privilege to-day to inform honorable members^ of this House that this Government has received official correspondence emanating from no less an authority than the Hon. Stanley M. Bruce, the Prime Minister of Australia, conveying the information that the Commonwealth Government, having gone fully into the question of Maltese migration to Australia, have approved of the abolition of the existing conditions limiting the admission of Maltese into the Commonwealth to 260 per annum.
A little further on Dr. Mifsud states -
Perhaps it is necessary that I should explain the circumstances that led to the unfortunate dead-lock in this question of Maltese migration to Australia that is now removed, and I cannot do. better than quote the following extract from the last published immigration report briefly summarizing the position, “ Until some years ago, emigration from Malta had been uncontrolled at the source. No emigration organization existed here, and, as a result, while many of those who landed in Australia were of the best type which the country most required, and many of whom have now been absorbed on the land, certain others, of the unskilled categories, found their way there, who were unsuitable and unfitted to Australian life. These, unfortunately, gravitated into the towns, where a small number of them still remain, and, with a number of Englishmen and foreigners, are naturally an unfortunate element when unemployment conditions prevail. . . . This number was, at the time, tentatively fixed at 260-
That was the number admitted at the time he was speaking - this being the average number of Maltese who had landed in Australia in the triennial period ended 1014, and to this day it remains unchanged.” The constant aim of the Malta Government since 1920 has been to remove this galling restriction. In 1922, on the invitation of the Imperial Government Mr. Henry Casolani the Superintendent of Emigration, went to London to endeavour by direct negotiation to place the question of Maltese migration to Australia on a satisfactory basis.
The speech is too lengthy to quote in full. Further on he states -
Cincumstances, however over which the Malta Government could exercise no control, and which I need not go into here, unfortunately worked against us, and on 17th October last we received a cable message informing us that the Commonwealth Government did not see its way to allow of the quota being exceeded.
That was in October of last year. The quotation continues -
I determined not to publish that telegram. I took this responsibility, because I saw at once the great harm it would have produced, and because I was convinced that the decision must have been the result of an insufficient understanding of the position and an incorrect appreciation of our case; and that if Mr. Bruce were- afforded an opportunity of examining the whole question personally he would have satisfied himself that not only in the best interests of Australia, but from the broader Imperial aspect, the Maltese question was open to reconsideration. The matter allowed of no delay. I. therefore, took the unorthodox course of unofficially requesting the personal help of Colonel Amery, who at once took up the matter on our behalf with Mr. Bruce, and on the 16th November last, in this House, I was in a position to inform my honorable friend, Colonel Savona that, while the Australian question was still sub judice the Hon. W. G. A. Ormsby-Gore UnderSecretary of State for the Colonies, had been charged to raise it on behalf of Malta before the Imperial Conference. The final result was conveyed to the Malta Government by the official correspondence referred to in the opening part of this statement and in a private letter which Colonel Amery very kindly sent to inc. The yearly quota of 260 is abolished, while the safeguards I have alluded to before are the following: - (a) All migrants must satisfy the health, literacy, and character tests usually applied and be in possession of a small sum of money on landing, (fi) Sailings to be so regulated as to ensure that not more than 20 migrants should land from the same vessel or during the same month, in any one port, thus enabling a total monthly disembarkation of 100, which is abundantly sufficient for our needs, (c) Illiterate Maltese will, henceforth be allowed to enter Australia provided they obtain spe9i.1l permission, on the application of relative’s or friends residing in Australia, who are prepared to find work for them on arrival.
Those conditions are laid down in the agreement. The Commonwealth Government has carefully endeavoured to hide the effect of this arrangement by providing that no vessel shall land more than twenty Maltese at any one particular port in Australia. But a boat may arrive here with 100 Maltese, and land them at different places in batches of twenty until they are all absorbed. This agreement furnishes need for a good deal of explanation. It has been very carefully planned, but, if. legitimate, the Government would have informed honorable members of its decision to remove the restriction -limiting the quota of Maltese immigrants to 260 per annum, and to substitute in its place an arrangement whereby at least 100 Maltese per month could enter Aus- tralia. An alteration of this kind should be made openly and above-board, or else not at all. There should be no attempt to deceive honorable members. This matter could not have been ventilated in this House had we not fortunately obtained the speech delivered by the Maltese Minister. The report continues -
The Hon. JOSEPH HOWARD. - May I be allowed to put a question to the honorable Minister for Commerce ? In the last part of his statement he says that not more than twenty Maltese will be allowed to land every month in any part ….
The Hon. Dr. MIFSUD.- In any port. I must say that this - solution is satisfactory to us, and I will state the reasons. It is a wellknown fact that our opponents, so to speak, in Australia have been the Labour party acting on a misconception. The landing of large batches of Maltese in. the towns where much unemployment prevails must necessarily cause a certain feeling of apprehension, and, with this end in view, the suggestion of Australian authorities cannot but meet with the approval of the local authorities, because it is simply meant to lessen the apprehension entertained by a certain section of the Labour party in Australia. That is the only reason why that condition has been made.” But, still, under the new conditions we ate allowed to land one hundred persons monthly in Australia, because (i arrangments will be made for landing different batches of people at different ports
Further on the Hon. Dr. Mifsud says -
The old game mentioned by the honorable gentleman consisted in obtaining visas for Maltese undesirables, not here, but in certain foreign ports - Marseilles and Naples; The emigration machinery has been set in motion to avoid undesirable Maltese going to Australia, because this not only lowers the estimation which the Australians have of the Maltese, but also on many occasions when emigrants are sent back, this fact entails much expense to the Maltese Government.
Although this agreement was entered into by our own Government, and discussed in the Parliament of Malta, it has not been mentioned previously in this Parliament; we knew nothing whatever about it. This is another instance, following many others,, where the Government has failed to take the House into its confidence. Ministers and others supporting the immigration scheme have contended that the emigrants being brought to Australia are to. be placed on the land, and, therefore, will not compete with ordinary labourers. The Maltese Minister has made a definite statement to the contrary. He says that this arrangement is made to bringMaltese here to compete with our workers. There is no longer any justification for the expenditure that was voted by Parliament for immigration on the score that a well-laid scheme to place suitable people on the land would be provided. To-day we have evidence that 100 Maltese per mouth are to be permitted to land here to compete with Australians in the ordinary avocations of life. There is great suffering in every state owing to the large number of unemployed, and we are, consequently, not justified in bringing Maltese here. “ I have nothing against them as men, but we do not want them here to compete with our own unemployed. The statement that has been made from time to time by various honorable members that Maltese immigrants would not affect the ordinary labour” market, but would follow special avocations, show clearly that no scheme is yet devised to settle immigrants in this country. To bring about land settlement and an increased population, honorable members seem to think it quite sufficient to agree to the vote for immigration. But our first duty is to provide employment for our own people, and, when that is done, the Labour party will welcome new settlers from overseas. The Government should provide a proper scheme of immigration to place immigrants in positions that cannot be filled by our own people, who are constantly on the bread line and dependent for their existence on doles from the different State Governments. We shall bo asked, in accordance with a message from, the GovernorGeneral, to vote money for main roads development to provide employment for our own people. We are asked to vote money on the one hand to absorb the unemployed, and on the other hand to bring other people here. We could quite understand the making of the agreement if immigration were systematically dealt with, so that the absorption of immigrants would prove beneficial to this country. We all admit that it is necessary to have a rapid increase of population, but, first of all, we must set our house in order.
– Did the honorable member say that we are spending money on ‘ main roads to provide employment ?
– The vote will be for that purpose.
– The reason for the expenditure on main roads is certainly not to provide employment, but to further our developmental policy.
– When the first, vote was made in this House for main roads, instructions were given to the various shires and municipalities to employ returned soldiers who were out of employment. That was given as the chief reason for voting the money, and that statement can be substantiated by a perusal of Hansard. Whatever may be the object, of this particular vote, the first was distinctly made to assist the State Governments in relieving unemployment. After all. that is a duty devolving upon the Federal Government, as we must assist in finding employment for our citizens. As a. Parliament, we are in the same relation to the people as a parent is to his children. We must see that they are protected and employed. There is nothing wrong in appropriating a certain sum of money for public works so as to give work to unemployed persons. We ought to be thankful that we are in a position to make money available for that purpose. It is well spent when it provides the settler with good roads, and thus enables him to get his produce to market I have referred to the Maltese arrangements in order that it may be understood that we object to the manner in which they have been handled, and believe that the people of Australia should immediately be apprised when such an arrangement is entered into.. Another matter to which I desire to make a brief reference is that of Imperial preference. Recently the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning) questioned the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) regarding the attitude of the Labour party towards Imperial preference. It is well known that before the Prime Minister visited England I stated that I should very much like to see preference granted, but that I was afraid that the British Parliament would not view the matter in the light in which it was viewed by us, and that in all probability, as it might be thought to affect the cost, of living in England, our request would not be acceded to. Recently the British Parliament, by a narrow majority, turned down the proposal to grant Australia a certain measure of preference
– If the four resolutions that were turned down had been agreed to, the cost of living in Great
Britain would not have been increased, because it was proposed to take off certain duties.
– It is all very well for the Treasurer, or for me, to say that the cost of living would not have been increased, but the British Parliament evidently thought that that would be the effect, and they claimed to be best able to judge. I have always maintained that we should be allowed to manage our own internal affairs, and we should concede the same right to the people of the United Kingdom. The point I was endeavouring to make was that the honorable member for Macquarie submitted his question with a view to leading the country to believe that the Labour party is opposed to preference. Honorable members well know that two conferences were held, and that the proposals relating to dried fruits were dealt with by the Imperial Economic Conference. I anticipated that the Prime Minister, who prior to his departure stated that he would ask this Parliament to endorse whatever action he took, would give honorable members an opportunity to deal with each proposal separately. That is the only legitimate way in which to present such matters. No one can justify the action of the Government in placing before honorable members in one motion the various matters to be dealt with at the Imperial Conference and at the Imperial Economic Conference, and asking for the acceptance or the rejection -of them in globo. It would have been more business-like had each proposal been submitted separately, and dealt with on its merits. Did not I ask that that course be followed ? But did not the Government seek to place itself in such a position that it could say to the people that the Opposition had voted against the preference proposals ? That procedure has taken on a worse aspect since the honorable member for Macquarie has endeavoured to ,ake it appear that we are opposed to preference. I’ stated on behalf of this party that we would support those, proposals if they were submitted separately. But when, in order to support preference, we had to assent to the proposals of the Government relating to defence, -we were being asked to do that which we were not able to do. I am sorry for what occurred, but I maintain that responsibility for the rejection of the preference proposals cannot be laid at the door of this party; that must be accepted by the Government, which is supported by the honorable member for Macquarie.
– The honorable member . will be more sorry before he is done with the matter.
– The honorable member for Macquarie will have a full share of trouble in the very near future. If he is depending on that rotten reed, his is a bad case.
– Why did not the honorable member act as he did in regard to the Singapore base?
– The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. J. Francis) is so little acquainted with parliamentary procedure that he brings the Singapore base proposal into a discussion relating to dried fruits! Members like the honorable member, who know little about parliamentary procedure, and evidently are slow to learn, condemn other honorable members because they would not vote for the Imperial Conference resolutions in the form in which they were submitted to us.
– I am not referring to the vote ; I am referring to the attitude of the honorable member on the Singapore base proposal.
– I shall not experience much difficulty, when I face the people, in explaining my attitude on that matter, and I have no doubt that I shall receive their endorsement. The procedure adopted by the Government, when submitting the resolutions of the Imperial Conferences, was a wrong one, and there is no justification for an endeavour to make political capital out of the stand that was taken up by this party. When a fair-minded public learns the facts, it will express its resentment of such tactics.
– The public will not learn the facts if they depend upon the honorable member to bring them before them.
– The honorable member’s electors will learn the facts when I address meetings in his electorate. The marketing of dried fruits requires immediate attention. A large number of men, including many returned soldiers, have been placed on the land, and to-day they have not a market for .their produce. Only yesterday I received a lengthy telegram with reference to a meeting that was held in the Mildura district. I was informed that the Prime Minister had been acquainted of the position of the dried fruit industry in the hope that some action would be taken by this Parliament to afford relief. To-day I read in the Age the report of a meeting that was held in Mildura. At that meeting the statement was made that whilst dried fruits were realizing £52 per ton on the English market, the growers in Australia were receiving only £20 per ton. Will any one contend that that margin of £32 is a reasonable one?
– That price included all charges, such as picking and other items.
– I have only the report of the meeting to guide me. If it is correct, the growers received only £20 per ton for their fruit. There is abundant reason for inquiring whether the costs of marketing cannot be reduced. The growers state that the position is so acute that they are not able to pay their rents to the Water Commission, and they are asking for an extension of time in which to discharge their liabilities. Fruit-growers appear to be in a deplorable condition, and at the earliest opportunity action should be taken by the Government to afford relief. It is useless to continue to spend money in bringing immigrants to Australia, and in placing them on the land, if there is no market for what they will produce. We certainly should make some provision to ensure the absorption of the products of -the men who go on the land.
– There would be a market for £3,000,000 worth in Great Britain if we could get preference.
– Yes, and I am prepared to do anything I can legitimately in furtherance of that object.
– If we could get preference in Canada there would be an additional market for us.
– I believe there would be, but I am not quite sure of the facts. This question of preference for our dried fruits is a most important one. We have settled a large number of people upon the land in Australia, and we should help them to market their products. No man can hope to be successful otherwise. If we have not a market locally we should take steps to ensure a market elsewhere for our primary pro ducers. I cannot understand why there should! be such a difference between -the amount received by our local producers of dried fruit and the selling price in Great Britain, and I believe that, if the Government made inquiries along these lines, much good would result. We should encourage our producers^ to engage in the co-operative effort, and, by ‘‘governmental action, help them to get in touch with their most profitable markets. Though there is an immense area of land unoccupied in Australia, it is not sufficient merely to induce people with a little money to come ,out here to take it up. We shall be misleading them, and: they will have no hope of success unless we devise an adequate scheme for the marketing of their produce. I hope the Government will take this matter into consideration at an early date.
– We want an explanation about the introduction of Maltese.
– Yes. The two matters I have mentioned should certainly receive attention. We should know something about the increase in the number of Maltese introduced to Australia,, and why the Government increased the limitation from 260 to 1,200 per annum. We should know also why the condition’ was inserted that vessels should drop these immigrants at different ports. If. we can absorb immigrants of this type there ought to be no secrecy about the method of their introduction and no necessity to land them in small numbers at several ports. I have mentioned these matters in the hope that the Prime Minister will be able to offer some explanation. Both of them are of great importance. I hope that something will be done in the very near future to ensure the marketing, of our dried fruits.
.- I did not intend to speak to-night, but I think this a fitting opportunity to do so instead, as I intimated to the Minister for Trade and Customs a few nights ago, of speaking on the adjournment of the House upon what I regard as a very important matter. But before I do so, I should like to say that I think that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) in his references to immigration is altogether too pessimistic. Can any one imagine that in this huge continent we are unable to absorb people who are able and willing to go upon the land? Surely we ought to be in a position to encourage many thousands of settlers to take up land in this country. By their own efforts they must materially help to increase the production of wealth and, incidentally by their residence in Australia, they will provide markets for many of our secondary industries. We should do something to stop the rush of people to our cities. One has only to look at the statistics to realize the rapidity of growth in the numbers of people living- in our capital cities as against the increase in the numbers of settlers on the land and the aggregate production. Surely we all realize that something is wrong. When we have got down to the solid facts, and have removed some, at least, of the settlers’ disabilities, I do not think even the Leader of the Opposition will be quite so pessimistic about our future. I should like to know if members of the Government are going to take their courage in both hands, and do something to assist those who are helping to develop the country. I have here a letter from a pastor alist in Western Australia. He writes as follows : -
We are now experiencing a severe drought. Many stations must already have lost heavily. If ‘we get no rain this month or next, and the chances are against it, though there is always a possibility in June and July, the conditions will be shocking by the time the summer rains appear, about 1st January. We do not want added burdens and hindrances in the way of shipping and dumping duties.
I know, of course, that references to the men who are really battling for a living on the land, and are prepared to take a risk in doing what they can to develop the outback country, are generally met with scorn and laughter by a number of, though not by all, honorable members opposite. Some honorable members in Opposition in this chamber realize that our pioneers are experiencing grave difficulties. But why should all the sympathy of members opposite, and indeed of a great many members on this side of the chamber, be given almost entirely to our manufacturers? If a man starts a manufacturing business, we bring in a bill for the granting of a bounty to the people who put their money into the industry, guaranteeing them a certain return, on the understanding that their profits must not exceed 15 per cent. Have we done anything like that for the man who goes back into the bush, very often many miles from a railway line, to develop his industry ? If seasons are unfavorable, and if his harvest is bad, do we assist him with a bounty ? I rose to-night for the purpose of- directing attention, as I have done on many occasions previously, to the evil effect upon our primary industries, and also, I believe, upon the manhood of Australia, of legislation which we passed a few years ago. The Industries Preservation Act has destroyed honest rivalry in our secondary industries. Give fair and legitimate protection if you like. I do not believe in it, but that does nob matter. Reasonable protection may be all right, but once healthy competition is destroyed, the very best qualities in the workmen of this country become seriously impaired.
– What does the honorable member want? Freetrade
– I am going to tell the honorable member. This Parliament, in agreeing to the legislation mentioned, acted with a blind turpitude which, if persisted in, may result some day in a form of government that will generate corruption, just as inevitably as a faulty engine will generate friction and cause a waste of power. I do not accuse the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and the present Government of being responsible for the legislation to which. I refer. I doubt if many honorable members opposite know the extent to which it is prejudicially affecting the Commonwealth. One has only to look at the returns of Customs revenue to realize what an enormous amount is being paid by the people of Australia in indirect taxation. I refer not only to the amount of duties, but also to the profits realized as the result of the duties, and the increased prices which consumers in Australia have to pay on nearly every article manufactured in the Commonwealth. I estimate - I think my figures are approximately correct - that we are paying anywhere from £105,000,000 to £115.000,000 more for’ our goods than we should be called upon to pay if we had no tariff. I know, of course, that no country can do without a tariff, but I direct attention to the excessive amount which the people of Australia .are compelled to pay owing to high Customs duties. I have so far received no answers to some questions I have put to Ministers on this matter, but I may say that, in respect of the’ importation of reapers and binders, the duty imposed, with exchange, runs up to about 60 per cent., and with that and the natural protection which the industry enjoys in this country our agriculturists have to pay charges amounting to from 94 to 96 per cent, on every reaper and binder, imported. Will honorable members opposite contend that workers in the industry here receive better treatment than those in Canada? Mr. Wickens, some little time ago, pointed out that, in the manufacturing industry in Canada, the average worker receives £100 a year more than the Australian worker. Workers in similar industries; even in New Zealand, receive more than they do here. No honorable member on the other side should support the greedy mendicants who are always calling out for something more for themselves, when they do not pass on any of the benefits they receive to any of their workmen. Honorable members should be able to realize how this kind of thing increases the cost of living and reduces the value of the sovereign. Dumping duties have been placed on articles which Parliament said should be admitted free to this country. Only two years ago, we had under consideration in this Parliament an amending tariff, after a couple of years’ experience of the tariff as it stood, and we said that wire, wire netting, and galvanized iron should be admitted to Australia free if it came from Great Britain, and at a duty of 10 per cent, if imported from elsewhere. In spite of this, we have had extraordinary duties imposed on wire netting. I mentioned them recently when directing the attention of the House to the “matter. I received another letter on the subject only to-day to say that, on several consignments that have just arrived, a dumping duty ‘has been imposed, which amounts to about 1S% per cent. I want to know whether the Government intends to take any action in connexion with this matter. It is sometimes forgotten that the legislation we _ have passed has a double effect. We have provided .by section 6 of the Customs Tariff Industries Preservation Act that -
If the Minister is satisfied, after inquiry and report by the Tariff Board, that goods have been, or arc being, consigned to Australia for sale, and that they may be sold- at less than a reasonable selling price, and that detriment may thereby result to an Australian industry, the’ Minister may .publish a notice in the Gazette specifying the goods as to which ho i.-i so satisfied.
Thou it is provided that -
In this section “ a reasonable selling price “ means the price ascertained upon the following basis, namely: - To the fair market value of the goods there shall be added the freight, insurance, landing, and other charges, together with the amount of duty payable under the Customs tariff, together with such addition, not exceeding 15 per centum on the aggregate of all the items mentioned, as is determined by the Minister after inquiry and report by the. Tariff Board.
There is the fair market value in the country of manufacture; there is the cost of freight from the factory to the- seaboard, freight and charges for bringing the article to Australia, the duty payable under our tariff on it, and then 15 per cent, on the aggregate of all the charges mentioned. If that is not sufficient to prevent importation, the Minister may go further, because the act says - -
If the evidence of the fair market value is, in the opinion of the Minister, insufficient, the Minister may, for the purposes of the last preceding sub-section, substitute in lieu thereof the ascertained cost of production, plus such addition, not exceeding 20 per centum of such cost, as is determined by the Minister after inquiry and report by the Tariff Board; or, if the cost of production is not ascertainable, the cost of production estimated from such information as is available, plus such addition, not exceeding 20 per centum of such estimated cost, as is determined by the Minister after inquiry and report by the Tariff Board.
The effect of such legislation is to destroy anything in the nature of legitimate trade. That is clear from the decisions arrived at by the Chambers of Commerce in this country. Importers never know where they are in connexion with the importation of goods. I read a letter published in the Argus some little time ago, I think by Mr. Alston, in which he said that he had imported £500 worth of bolts, most of which are not made in Australia, for the manufacture of agri-. cultural machinery. The duty payable was something over £200, and a dumping duty was imposed of £700 on that particular consignment. When the tariff .first came under consideration we had a letter quoted here from a Ballarat manufacturer who was not dealing with dumping duties, but with the ordinary duties to be imposed under the tariff. He pointed out that the high duties imposed by the tariff so increased the cost of iron, steel, and copper requirements as to make it impossible for him to continue the building, of oil engines in Ballarat. According to that manufacturer, the high duties imposed by the tariff on the materials he required were calculated actually to destroy au important manufacturing industry in this country. I should like to direct the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) to another phase of this question. The Customs Tariff Industries Preservation Act further provides that -
The regulations may provide for the exemption of the following goods from the dumping duty :- ’ (a) Any goods or class of goods in respect of which the Minister is satisfied after report by the Tariff Board that the goods or classes of goods are not made in Australia in substantial quantities, and offered for sale to all purchasers on equal terms under like conditions having regard to the custom and usage of trade.
We have, in Australia, a trust and combine that has refused to supply our people with wire netting. Definite orders have been sent to this company, and it has refused to supply except through its agents.
– How many examples can the honorable member give?
– I have a copy of the correspondence that passed between the parties concerned.
– Has the honorable member more than one case?
– I have only . one case, but the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Hunter) could, if he were here this evening, confirm my statement with regard to another instance in which the company declined to supply except through its agent. He has all the correspondence in that case.
– Refusing to supply except through an agent may be a recognized trade custom.
– The Government will do a very wrong thing if it contends that such companies as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company may refuse to supply its manufactured material except through the Hardware Association or certain iron and steel merchants. In the circumstances that is not a fair way to carry on business. If we have reached the position that companies and individuals who are given an advantage under the protectionist laws of our country may fix, not only their selling price, but also the rules for selling their manufactures, the time has come for us to consider where we are. The written information that I hold in connexion with the manufacture of nails is similar to that which was placed before the Tariff Board. I do not blame the Tariff Board for the action that it took in that matter. I blame the act that made such an action possible. I believe that if the act provided that information and evidence should be submitted to the Tariff Board on oath, and that the board’s inquiries should be made with open doors, wo would not have so many complaints about the board’s decisions. I examined the Customs Department file on wire netting which the Minister laid upon the library table some days ago. May I say, m passing, that I have never in my life seen a file in such a mutilated and muddled condition as it was in, and I claim to know a3 much about departmental files as most honorable members in this chamber. I do not blame the Minister tor Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten). The condition of the file is no discredit to hind. for he has only been in office for a few days, but I hope that he will adopt an improved method of filing. The evidence’ that I have in my hand on this matter is similar to that which was placed before the Tariff Board. In speech after speech which I have made in this chamber respecting the Tariff Board I have urged that all representations made to it should be supported by evidence on oath, and should be submitted to meetings which are open to the public. Men would not then make statements such as were made last year by Mr. McDougall. which the Tariff Board, in- its report to the Minister, described as incredible. If it 1v01’8 compulsory for such statements to be made on oath, the antidumping duty would not be applied so frequently. I have no doubt that the duty has been imposed in numerous cases because similar unproved statements have been made. The whole principle underlying the Australian Industries Preservation Act is unsound and wholly wrong. No interested person should be permitted to make unsworn statements to the Tariff Board concerning which the general public have no information whatever, and no means of obtaining information. This matter concerns the consumers, the importers, and the users of the articles which may from time to time come under notice. I wish honorable members to know that I do not blame the Tariff Board. I blame the act. The preposterous things that go on under tho act are almost beyond belief, and it is not within the province of the Tariff Board to rectify the position.
– The tariff itself is wrong, .according to the honorable member.
– I think the tariff is wrong, aud the Australian Industries Preservation Act is wholly wrong.
– The honorable member for Swan would not preserve anything Australian.
– I believe what the Lender of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) believed some time ago, when, as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, he made a. report on the building of a cruiser at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard. He pointed out then that the conditions were such that it was absolutely impossible for men to do good work. In endeavouring to build a cruiser there we lost five years of its effective life, and it cost I do not know how much more than if we had had it built abroad. I do 110 t complain of the calibre of the Australian workmen. But if it were not for men like the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony), we should 110 have so many complaints about mutters of this kind.
– I stand for Australia ; the honorable member for Swan standi’ against her. “Mr. GREGORY.- Can the honorable member for Dalley tell the House how a duty of £60 on each Ford motor car body imported into Australia protects the Australian workmen? I suppose that the motor car would be purchased complete in the United States of America for about £60. An extraordinary feature in the situation is that the American workmen who make the Ford motor cars receive much higher wages than do Australian workmen engaged in a similar industry. I invite honorable members to read Mr. Henry Ford’s book My Life and Work.
– Why does not “the honorable member for Swan go to the United States of America and live there?
– I prefer to try to put Australia on the right track, for I believe that the common sense of our people will ultimately drive the honorable member for Dalley and men of his ilk back to the oblivion from which they never should have come. Our people have a wonderful heritage; but “little Australians,” like the honorable member, are destroying the good name of our workmen and are making it impossible for us to use our own products. Can ‘ any honorable member opposite name one article, apart from foodstuffs, which is manufactured more cheaply in Australia than abroad, or one that we have the slightest hope of profitably manufacturing in this country without our protectionist duties?
– What about iron and steel shovels?
– I thank the honorable member for Adelaide for that interjection. In reply to a question I asked the Minister for Trade and Customs concerning the enormous duty that was placed ou shovels, about six years ago, which form a part of every man’s working equipment, we learned that the manufacture of shovels was such a thriving industry in Australia that it was engaged in by three firms, and gave employment to fifteen workmen. The complaint of my honorable friend opposite was that they bent when leant on. I have here a letter with reference to Lysaghts’ statement that they had never refused to supply the Queensland Pastoral Supplies Limited with wire netting. The latter asked Lysaghts if they were prepared to supply them with a quantity, of netting. The reply of Lysaghts is as follows: - 14th June, 1924. The Queensland Pastoral Supplies Ltd., Bowen- street, Brisbane.
Re Order 6,000 Rolls Netting.
Dear Sirs. - We are in receipt of your letter of the 10th inst., and note you have been in communication with the Federal Treasury, in Melbourne, regarding the method under which we dispose of our wire netting. Whilst the information they appear to have given you is substantially correct, we, of course, reserve to ourselves the right of conducting our business as we see lit, and at present are not disposed to contribute through houses who run imported netting in competition with the Australianmade material, and we find that merchants who confine themselves to the local article can successfully distribute all we have for disposal. In making the statement that we are not accustomed to refuse to sell to any one who is unable to obtain our products through the usual wholesale distributing channels, we, of course, mean the general public, such as retailers and consumers, and we have no evidence, at present, that this class of buyer is unable to obtain our netting through the general wholesale distributing houses. You appear to have overlooked the fact that, as manufacturers, we are at perfect liberty to arrange the machinery of our distribution as we think fit, so long as the general public and consumers can get the goods.
Yours faithfully, ‘ N. Champ.
Mi-. Watkins. - To whom was that letter addressed.?
– It was addressed to Mr. Hughes, manager of the Queensland Pastoral Supplies Limited. One of the leading houses in Australia recently wrote to the honorable members for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) and Perth (Mr. Mann) and myself to the effect that they had tried to place an order with Rylands, bin found that they could not be supplied. Honorable members know that that has happened time after time in connexion with iron and steel, and that us a result those materials have had to be imported. Are we to give a subsidy to any manufacturer in this country who is going to pick and choose which of the big merchants he will supply with his goods? Are manufacturers supplying firms in Perth, Brisbane, or Hobart with goods manufactured under bounties, which are paid from the public revenue, to be permitted to act in a similar matter to that adopted by the Ford motor people, by appointing some agent or agents to sell their manufactures and refusing supplies to other big firms?
– The honorable member’s 1.line has expired.
.- I should not have risen except to endeavour to place this matter before honorable members in its true light, so that they may clearly understand the position. When the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) charged certain manufacturers with refusing to supply this Queensland firm with wire netting, it certainly appeared that there was something radically wrong. The information Rylands gave me was that they refused to supply one firm with wire, for the reason that, in addition to quoting for British wire, the firm advertised a list of Australian-made wive at a lower price, and added, in regard to the locallymade article, “We do not recommend it.” What would the honorable member for Swan do if he were supplying a particular article to a firm, and that firm put an advertisement in the paper decrying the very thing that it had contracted to sell? .That would be a sufficient reason for that firm’s name being erased from his books. From the information given to me by Rylands, I understand that there was no other reason for their refusal to sell to the firm in question. And every honorable member will agree that their action was right.
– What about the answer ?
– I do not know anything about that.
– How long ago was that?
– About a fortnight ago. The honorable member for Swan mentioned that another big firm had not been able to supply a particular order recently. I inquired into that statement also. The facts are that no wire manufacturers in any part of the world keep every size of machine in their establishment. The order was a small one from, a big firm.
– It was not. It was for 40 miles of one class of wire.
– The order I refer to was not a large one, but even if it had been, the sizes required were not in stock at that time. The firm, which supplies the clients referred to with a lot of wire even to-day, did not happen to have, in stock the two sizes asked for, but it immediately referred the firm that required the wire to a Sydney house that had those sizes. The Sydney firm, conversely, does not stock some of the sizes stocked by the Newcastle firm. Merely because of one or two incidents of this character the honorable member for Swan seeks to condemn a large Australian industry. He said that the long distances that the wire has to be shipped handicap the Western Australian users of it. I found that in this particular case, and there are very few others, the prices are averaged, so that at Perth the price is the same as the f.o.b. price at Newcastle.
– The honorable member does not mean f.o.b. at Newcastle, but f.o.b. at the state capitals.
– My information is that the price f.o.b. at Newcastle is the same as the price at Perth. Quotations by that firm in every state are uniform, except at one place where there is a small difference, which, however, is hardly worth mentioning. I think the exception is a town in Queensland.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the firm is selling at less than cost?
– No, but it is averaging the price. Its policy is beneficial to the extent that it puts the farmer of Western Australia on the same footing as the farmer of New South Wales, and bridges the handicap of heavy freights. I mention these few matters to explain to the House the reason for the statements made by the honorable member for Swan.
.- I was pleased to hear the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) state that he would give the House an early opportunity to consider his financial statement. I recommend him to give us more time than we had on the last ‘occasion. I hope that when he introduces the Estimates and the budget he will not bring down a time-table for applying the gag and the guillotine. I would have liked a little more information about refunds from revenue. The Treasurer says that the item relates to amounts that have been overpaid, and I assume that in the near future we shall receive a detailed statement.
I was astounded to hear the statement of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) about Maltese immigrants. I am not satisfied to allow thousands of pounds to be expended in two months to . bring such immigrants to this country. It is not a question of what I or honorable members on this side think, for the Government, by its actions, has shown that it does not regard these men as desirable immigrants. It entered- into an agreement to bring in 100 of them a month, and has stipulated that ten or twelve shall be dumped at one place, and ten or twelve somewhere else. It is virtually smuggling immigrants into this country in defiance of public opinion. It has, in the past, been a “ hush-up “ and “ pay-out “ Government, and it has now become a smuggling Government, thus showing that it knows quite well that public opinion would not support it. It has resorted to a subterfuge. Nothing more paltry, mean, or miserable has occurred in the history of constitutional government in this country, and no more serious charge, has ever been made against a government.
I am sorry that the Postmaster-General (Mr. Gibson) is not here. I understand that he is still touring abroad, and I hope that he will return much improved in health and knowledge. In postal matters my electorate is as neglected as any part of Australia, although it is a district that ought to have every possible assistance from the State and Federal Governments. The postal arrangements on a large part of the south coast of New South Wales are more primitive than those in some of the out-back parts of the Commonwealth, and repeated requests from me for improvements have had very little effect. The district from Helensburgh to Wollongong comprises one of the most picturesque parts of Aus.tralia which compares favorably for scenery with any part of the world. It is growing rapidly industrially, and has become a popular tourist resort. Yet from Coalcliff to the northern side of Wollongong hardly a postal delivery is made, and it is impossible to obtain such facilities as telephones. During the last elections I sent an important telegram to Scarborough, and it lay at the post office there for two days, ‘at the end of which time it had ceased to be of use. If a telegram informing a man of the death of a friend or relative is not collected by him at the post office, he does not receive it. Such a condition of affairs in a thickly-populated area is scandalous. I have been told that provision will be made in the Estimates for a post office at Bulli. I assume that will be so; but I have a complaint to make about it, nevertheless. If a private firm owned the post office there, it could be brought before the industrial courts of New South Wales for employing people in unhealthy and insanitary surroundings. It is an old shop which has been rented by the department, and converted into a post office. Its furnishings are scanty, girls work in the telephone exchange with no coverings on the floor, and the conditions generally are absolutely scandalous. I ask the Treasurer, who is a medical man, to inspect that post office, and say whether he would recommend it as a fit place in which to employ any one. Some years ago, the department was ©Here l a block of land on a corner just at the crown of the hill. It was a suitable area on which a decentpost office, capable of meeting the developing requirements of the town, could have been built; but instead of spending £400 or £500 in making that purchase, the department bought another area considerably down the slope of the hill. Persons driving motor cars will have to put all their brakes on to pull up at the post office. The man who is driving a horse and wagon will have considerable difficulty in negotiating the slope either way. My opinion is that the land acquired should be sold, and the money derived from the sale devoted to the purchase of the area of land on which the present post office is situated. I am told that it can be secured at a reasonable figure. Corrimal is another growing town where the department is making use of rented premises in which there is hardly room to swing a cat, and yet there is talk of putting a telephone exchange in it. I have written to the de artment suggesting that a new site be secured for a post office, but I have been informed that the building now utilized is satisfactory for the present requirements of the town. I should like the gentleman who wrote that letter to act as postmaster at Corrimal. If some of the officials who write such letters were called upon to work under the conditions in which postmasters are obliged to work in the towns I have mentioned, they would not be five minutes m the offices before they would be howling out for better accommodation.
– How long have these conditions existed?
– So far as I know, ever since there have been post offices in these towns. This area has been added to my electorate since the last redistribution of seats, and I have been writing letters to the postal department about the matters of which I am now complaining until I am tired of doing so. In future, I shall raise my voice here at every opportunity until something is done to improve the conditions of the post offices in this part of my electorate, which has a better claim for consideration than has many another district.
– It is a mining district.
– I shall touch upon that point in a minute. The post office at Woonona, in the “same district, is so dingy that it gives one the creeps to go into it. The honorable member for East Sydney has just anticipated what I was about to mention. I am wondering whether this district is neglected because it contains a big industrial vote, and is likely to have a Labour man representing it for a long time to come. The Minister for Works and Railways is submitting motions to extend telephone services in various directions, and I support him in doing so, as I always support every stop taken to extend postal, telegraphic, and telephonic facilities, but I repeat that the south coast of New South Wales has better claims for consideration from the department than has many another district. The consideration for which I am asking is along the lines of the Government’s policy as delivered by the Treasurer.
– We are carrying it out.
– Not orT the south coast of New South Wales.
– We are carrying it out all over the Commonwealth. During this year and last year we have done a considerable amount to carry out our policy.
– I know that the Government have done a great deal in this direction, but not in this portion of my electorate. If the Treasurer would visit the post offices I have mentioned he would find them in a disgraceful condition, and would see that they do not fulfil the requirements of the districts. I hope that the next estimates will make provision for these neglected districts.
.- The application of the dumping duties referred to by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) calls for the serious attention of the Government. Dumping duties are supposed to be imposed for the purpose of protecting Australian industries. The section of the act requires the Minister before imposing any dumping duty to be satisfied that detriment is being done to an Australian industry. The language used is decidedly vague, but I find that the Tariff Board invariably interprets it to mean that detriment is being done to a secondary industry, whereas by the imposition of the dumping duty on wire netting more detriment was done to a primary industry than was likely to be done to a secondary industry if the duty had not been imposed. Again, a dumping duty is put on ostensibly to protect an Australian industry, no matter whether that industry is employing only a few dozen men. The whole thing is out of proportion and beyond commonsense when all the people engaged in the pastoral and agricultural . industries of Australia are compelled to pay extra Customs duty in order to protect a small industry which is giving employment to a- few dozen men at the outside. Furthermore, the dumping duty was placed on wire netting notwithstanding the fact that Parliament had declared that wire netting was to be free of duty.
I was in my electorate when the matter was last discussed In the House. I understand that during that debate it was said that the Tariff Board considered itself justified in putting on the duty because the price in Australia was somewhat less than was charged in England. The board, I believe, also contended that the quantity of wire netting exported to Australia was small compared with what was used in England, and, therefore, it could fairly be considered that a surplus English product was being dumped into Australia. .[ had grave doubt as to the accuracy of that statement, and at my request the Premier of Western Australia promptly cabled to the Agent-General for Western Australia in London and asked him to ascertain the facts. The statement in the House was that 70 per cent, of the wire netting made in England was consumed there, and only 30 per cent, was exported. The advice received by cable from the Agent-General for Western Australia, on the other hand, was that the Board of Trade returns showed that the consumption at Home amounted to 30 per cent, and the export trade represented 70 per cent, of the output, which, of course, is the very reverse of the statement made here by the advocates of the dumping duty.
– I call attention to the state of the committee. [Quorum formed.’]
– I have already said that it appears to me that the provisions of the Anti-dumping Act are wrongly applied. A question on notice relating, tc kraft paper was submitted this evening by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West). I have not had an opportunity of seeing the reply, which was so lengthy that it was laid on the table instead of being read; but here is a glaring instance of improper application of the act by the Tariff Board. Apparently, there is one factory in Sydney engaged in the manufacture of kraft paper, which is simply a technical name for a certain class of brown paper. This material has been imported into the other states at a price below that at which it is sold in Sydney, and the Tariff Board imposed a dumping duty on any of this paper imported at a figure below the Sydney rate. The board applied the duty for the purpose of making the price in every other capital equivalent to that in Sydney. The board went further than that, and said that the price to be charged for this paper in a particular state was to be equivalent to the Sydney price, plus the cost of carriage from Sydney to that state.
– That is a serious statement.
– Yes; but it is perfectly true. As soon as the matter was brought under my notice, I called the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs to the fact that the board, in making a differential rate, was committing an act which amounted to a grave breach of the Constitution, and I obtained a reply in a few days that the proposal had been abandoned. The duty of the board is to safeguard the interests of the people generally, and it is scandalous that it should be necessary for members of this House to be continually acting as watchdogs over the actions of a body of such dignity and importance. Even today the price of kraft paper is artificially raised in every state through a dumping duty being imposed where the price of the imported article is below the Sydney price.
– The Tariff Board’” is a purely advisory body. The whole of the responsibility rests with the Minister.
– Yes, and that is why honorable members brine these matters under, notice in the House. We understand the position perfectly, but we point out to the Minister that since the board advises him in this loose manner he should be careful in accepting its suggestions. I am not attacking the members of the Tariff Board personally. I hope that I shall never descend to that practice; but surely one may criticize the methods of the board, and say that its advice is bad, if he thinks it is, without being accused of making personal attacks. I simply desire to let the Minister know that it would be well for him to look into the matter.
Another subject on which I feel very strongly is the treatment of agricultural machinery. I have a great deal of information at my disposal on this question, and I shall place it before honorable members, if I find it necessary to do so. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) recently- announced that he had referred to the Tariff Board a special inquiry, and had instructed it to report on the cost and prices of agricultural machinery. Until a day or two ago - the board is supposed to be busy on its investigation at the present time - it had not taken any steps to obtain information from the importers. Obviously the board cannot present a fair report unless it has ascertained the view of the importing side. That is characteristic of a number of the investigations. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) the other day asked some questions in regard to agricultural machinery and prices. I have before me a letter - it is not private, but wa3 given to me to use - from a firm which could provide the information which the honorable member for Swan was seeking. An officer of the Customs Department visited the firm and asked for information, which was given in full. The officer then asked the representative of the firm to produce the books; but he declined, and said, “ You cannot see our books. I am giving you correct information. Do you inspect the books of the local manufacturers when you ask them for information V To that question the officer replied, “ No. The local manufacturers always give us correct information.”
– The Customs officials have the invoices of the importing firms.
– Yes, but the invoices do not give all the costs. The representative of the importing firm further said, “ What reason have you to insinuate that we do not give correct figures when you accept those of the local manufacturers as correct?”
– There is something in that.
– Quite so. He further said, ‘” We have noticed that if any question is asked in the House in regard to costs of the local manufacturers, the answer always i3, ‘ We cannot disclose this information without divulging private business of the firm.’ “ Similarly, the information the Customs officials desire cannot be obtained without disclosing matters which are of a. private nature to the importer. There is no justice in the present method. In many matters the Tariff Board cannot obtain accurate information unless evidence is .openly submitted before rival firms who understand the position. The Tariff Board cannot possibly .obtain all the facts under the present system, and the consequence is that recommendations are made which are altogether unreliable - I do not suggest that incorrect information is wilfully given- because inquiries are not made from both sides. I trust the methods of the Tariff Board will be altered, and that the inquiries to be made in connexion with agricultural machinery will be conducted in such a way as to prevent the possibility of any criticism being levelled against the board in consequence of the procedure followed. Unless a change is made, I certainly intend at some early opportunity to bring all the information I possess before the House.
– I have listened with interest to the speeches delivered by the honorable members for Swan (Mr. Gregory) and Perth (Mr Mann), whom we always find in agreement on fiscal questions. These honorable members are political Siamese twins on the question of freetrade. The honorable member for Swan, by his continual attacks on the tariff, calls to my mind the repeated affirmation of Cato in the Roman Senate, “ delenda est Carthago “ - Carthage must be destroyed. The one object of the honorable member for Swan seems to be to destroy the tariff. All I wish to say in connexion with tariff matters is that over 12 per cent, of the textile employees in Sydney are out of work because goods partly of continental manufacture are being dumped into Australia.
Only recently the representatives of the textile union in Sydney conferred with the employers “with a view to bringing pressure upon the Government to ensure more adequate protection. Not only the textile industry, but also the engineering and various other industries in this country are suffering in consequence of the “dumping” and inadequate tariff. The tariff is in many respects a revenueproducing one, and it is not fostering and developing secondary industries as was intended. Thousands of operatives engaged in secondary industries are now on the labour market as the result of Government neglect to give Parliament an opportunity to deal with import duties.
– Prior to the passing of the last tariff, many industries were in a better position than to-day, and were able, not only to meet local requirements, but also to enter the export trade.
– I have no desire to enter into a general discussion with the honorable member for Swan at this stage, and rose merely to refute some of .. his statements. I wish to support the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) in his attack upon the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) for entering into an agreement with the Maltese Government without the authority of this Parliament, whereby the number of Maltese immigrants has been increased from 260 to 1,200 a year. The manner in which the arrangement was made shows that the Prime Minister had an uneasy political conscience, because, according to the debates in the Maltese Parliament, by arrangement with him, not more than twenty immigrants are to land in any one port- at any one time. Doubtless the Prime Minister knew that there i would be a great deal of public resentment against the wholesale dumping of unskilled workmen in this country. I have no objection to Maltese as such, but at present the labour market in Australia is overcrowded, and unskilled workers particularly are out of work. I am also opposed to the admission into this country, under existing conditions, of illiterates of any nationality. It is now on record that the Government have agreed to admit illiterate Maltese, and to’ that I am strongly opposed. Public opinion and sentiment in Australia are opposed to injudicious and unrestricted immigration from southern European countries. The press has condemned the Government for allowing southern Europeans, including Maltese, to settle in Australia, as new arrivals from these countries will only lead to additional unemployment among our own people. The Leader of the Opposition stated that he did not object to white immigrants, the Nordic preferred, provided they were men with capital, who could adapt themselves to Australian conditions, and could be readily absorbed. I associate myself with the opinions expressed in the press, and enter an emphatic protest against the indiscriminate dumping of southern Europeans of all nationalities, including Greeks and Italians, which is taking place at present. It is the duty of the Prime Minister to indicate that immigration is to be restricted, particularly when there are so many unemployed, including returned soldiers. Judging by the debate in the Maltese Parliament, and the fact that the Prime Minister made no public: announcement in regard to the increased ‘ quota of Maltese, the right honorable gentleman knew that public opinion in Australia was opposed to his action, I now wish to refer to soldiers’ pensions, ns I think it necessary to continue to bring forward the matter until something is done. A few days ago, I asked whether it was the intention of the Treasurer to arrange for an extensive inquiry into the administration of the Repatriation Department in regard to war pensions. I received the same answer from the Treasurer this week as I obtained from him twelve months ago - that the matter was under consideration. This usually means that nothing is being done. I recently asked in this House the following questions: -
The Treasurer replied -
All such files are confidential, and it is considered very undesirable that files should be made available for perusal except by the departmental officers authorized to deal with the cases. However, if an applicant calls personally at a branch office of the Repatriation Department arrangements are made for a responsible officer to discuss fully the contents of the file with him.
I emphatically protest against the department’s attitude, which shows conclusively that returned soldiers are not getting a fair deal. A man goes before the repatriation authorities and submits himself to a medical examination; his pension claim is turned down, and he is not given an opportunity to peruse, the evidence against him.
– He can see the file.
– According to my interpretation of the departmental reply, hie. is not allowed to do so. The departmental officers are permitted to discuss its contents with him.
– If the honorable member reads the previous sentence of my reply he will see the exact position.
– If the Minister will assure me that a returned soldier, an applicant for a pension, is permitted to peruse his file, I shall have no more to say. on that subject.
– There is no objection to an applicant seeing his own file.
– I am glad to receive that assurance. What influenced me in bringing this matter before the House was the case of a returned soldier which came under my notice last week, who was examined by the repatriation medical authorities, and two doctors who examined him refused to acknowledge that his condition was due to war service. He is suffering from neurasthenia, or shell-shock, as colloquially understood, as well as aphonia or loss of voice, a functional nervous disorder, in medical parlance, that, according to the file in this case, may be attributed to venereal disease, or causes other than war service. This man had a splendid war record with the artillery, and is undoubtedly of high moral character. Owing to his nervous condition, and owing to loss of voice, he cannot continue his habitual occupation. He was examined and submitted to the Wassermann test. Although two doctors found that there was a weak reaction to syphilis, the third stated that his condition could not be due to venereal disease, and recommended him for a small pension, admitting that the strain of war was responsible for his condition.
When the case was dealt with in Melbourne, for some mysterious reason the third doctor’s views were overlooked. This returned soldier should not only be permitted to see his file, but also have the power to appeal against the department’s decision, and to submit medical and other evidence in refutation of the slanders made against his character. The conclusions by certain medical men that these nervous conditions are due to venereal infection are often wrong. The Treasurer knows full well that in such cases as this the views of the medical profession are at variance. Only recently Sir Neville Howse assured me’ that in the application of tests to ascertain whether epileptic and neurasthenic conditions were due to venereal infection or war service, a very large percentage of humanity would no doubt react to the Wassermann test, but that the disease might be hereditary, and not due to infection during the subject’s own lifetime. I once again urge the Treasurer to recognize that the administration of Avar pensions needs a thorough overhaul. He knows that there are numbers of cases of epilepsy, and other nervous troubles that, in the opinion of the medical profession, may be due either to war strain or to venereal infection, and that there is a good deal of conjecture and difference of opinion among the medical authorities who examine these cases. In view of the hundreds of such cases awaiting redress, the soldiers’ committee appointed by the Treasurer is, in its present form, absolutely futile, and can accomplish nothing. The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) has not attended its meetings, and this party is, therefore, not represented on it.
I desire to refer also to the matter of old-age and invalid pensions. Some time ago questions were asked by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) and by me with a view to finding out whether the Government had taken any steps to arrive at an agreement with the New Zealand Government to act reciprocally in the payment of pensions, and we were informed that the negotiations fell through. I direct the attention of the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) to the fact that numbers of shearers, meat workers seamen, and others are constantly following their occupations between the two countries, and there have been many pathetic cases of men who, in their old age or invalidity, have not been able to induce either Government to recognize a claim for a pension. When a man meets with an accident in New Zealand the Commonwealth will not accept any liability for his support if he returns to Australia. This is an urgent and a pressing matter, and I hope that the Government will endeavour to bring about an agreement with the New Zealand Government. Recently, in Sydney, I have also had brought to my notice the case of a pensioner who sold his property and invested the proceeds in war loans. Because the amount so invested exceeded the statutory exemption, his pension was withdrawn. Such action is contrary to the sentiment of -this Parliament and of the people of Australia. That is only one of many anomalies that time will not permit me to mention. I hope that the Government will give honorable members an early opportunity to review the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, with a view to rectifying those anomalies. There are other matters to which I intended to refer, but I shall withhold discussion of them till a more suitable occasion.
.- I should not have risen at this late hour had it not been for the remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) when dealing with the matter of Imperial preference. By interjection I expressed regret that the honorable gentleman had not endeavoured to induce the Labour party in Great Britain to give its support to the preference proposals. Had he done so, I feel certain that the vote taken in the House of Commons would have resulted differently. If it were proper for the honorable gentleman to send to the Labour party in Great Britain a telegram expressing opposition to the establishment of a naval base at Singapore, it would have been equally proper for him to take similar action in support of the Imperial preference proposals. Apparently he chose to adopt a different attitude, to treat the question with indifference, and now he regrets the consequences. I should like to read a copy of the telegram that the honorable gentleman sent regarding the Singapore base proposal. It is to be found in the Journal of the Parliaments of the Empire, Vol. V., page 258, which quotes the remarks of the Secretary of State for the Colonies (Right Hon. J. H. Thomas, M.P.). That gentleman- stated -
The Labour party had received a telegram from the Leader of the Opposition in Australia as follows : - “ Labour party entirely opposed to Bruce committing Australia to the Singapore Base. - Charlton.”
If the honorable gentleman had been equally anxious to assist the producers of Australia he would have supported the Imperial preference proposals. It is reasonable to expect that he would have then taken similar action to induce the Labour party in Great Britain to give its assent to those proposals.
.- I support the protest made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) regarding the immigration of Maltese. Last week, in Sydney, I witnessed a spectacle that deeply stirred .my feelings. In one of the busy streets of East Sydney I met a friend who informed me that, living opposite to him were three men who had been compelled to approach a benevolent institution to obtain the necessaries of life for their families. Those men are good citizens, who went to the country seeking work when their efforts in the city were not successful. They were dismissed from their employment because the New South Wales Government had not sufficient funds to continue the work on which they were engaged. On my visit to Sydney I also learned that extraordinary conditions govern the introduction of Maltese to Australia. They are allowed to go direct from the ship to some employment under the State Government. There is in Sydney a bureau for the registration of those persons who are unemployed, and no employment can be secured from the Government except through’ the bureau. Those with whom I have spoken cannot understand , why Maltese are able to obtain what work is available while natives of Australia are compelled to subsist on the charity of benevolent institutions. The environment of honorable members opposite has been such that they cannot realize the struggles of the industrial section of the community. This is the most trying period of the year. Unemployment is one of the most serious problems that at present faces any government or parliament. While men are unemployed, they and their families are deprived of the necessaries of life, and when they again secure employment it takes them a long while to discharge the debts they have incurred. Some of them do not during the remainder of their lives regain the position they held before they became unemployed. If sufficient pressure could be brought to bear upon the Government, the present idiotic immigration scheme would not be tolerated. Like my leader, I am not opposed to people from other countries coming to Australia. I have always done my utmost to assist immigrants to find employment, but at present I am not able to do so, and I am forced to inform applicants that I cannot hope to find employment for them. It is heart-breaking to a man with a sensitive nature to witness the sufferings of men who are unemployed, and the privations that are endured by their families. To-day the Government is bringing immigrants from the south of Europe. Is the Government not aware of the difficulties that have confronted America in dealing with a similar type of immigrant ? Any one who has studied the matter knows that America is faced with a problem that is causing her the gravest anxiety. These immigrants do not assimilate American ideas; they isolate themselves in colonies or settlements, and when trade is not prosperous they take from America to their own country all the wealth that they possess. There they remain until the conditions in America improve. Immigration commissioners and other persons in America have pointed out the seriousness of the position, with the result that a limit has been placed upon the number of persons that may enter America from other countries. We should benefit from the object lesson furnished by the United States. Every commission that has inquired into the subject of immigration in that country has emphasized the danger of permitting any further increase in the number of immigrants from the south of Europe. Australia should take warning from the United States, but, unfortunately, during the past six months the immigrants from the south of Europe have exceeded those from Great Britain. I know of no other place than in this House where a public man may properly point to the danger confronting Australia. If what I say here has no effect upon Government policy then the fault will not be mine, for I shall have done my duty. If we cannot ensure employment for all those who come to Australia, they must, of necessity, become discontented, and consequently not good citizens. I am aware, of course, that the Commonwealth Government has no control over state Parliaments, and I regret that the New South Wales Government has proved absolutely callous and indifferent on this question of immigration and land settlement. Not every man is fitted for the task of making a living on virgin country. There are many difficulties to be overcome. Only a man of ripe experience and well acquainted with local conditions is likely to succeed. It is simply a waste of money to put people on land unless there is a reasonable hope of success in the several branches of production, and unless some steps are taken to ensure markets. In New South Wales Ministers are, in the main, connected with primary production. Their policy in connexion with immigration and land settlement has proved most disastrous to that state. How can we hope to stop this drift to the cities if immigrants are expected to work in the country for 25s. a week and, in some cases, to find themselves? So long as this inhumane treatment is permitted, and so long as this spirit of indifference is abroad, we cannot hope to increase substantially the population of our country districts. In New South Wales the immigration vote has been used in a most callous manner. The expenditure has been enormous. While state governments live on Australia’s greatest industry - the borrowing of money - we cannot expect anything different. It is a mistake - if I were permitted to use a more appropriate word I would say that it amounts to a plundering of the public purse - to introduce cheap labour to this country without any definite scheme for employment. It is futile to resume estates at high cost for closer settlement purposes. As the hour is late I think the Prime Minister might agree to the adjournment of the debate.
– I am sorry, but we must get this bill through to-night in order to send it on to another place.
– I have no desire to delay the committee, but I should like briefly to comment upon the speeches made tonight by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) and the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann). In these days I did not think there was such a political monstrosity on earth as a man in favour of freetrade. On every occasion when there is an endeavour to make Australia a self-contained nation, the honorable members mentioned make assertions that will not stand investigation. Apparently their chief purpose is to prevent Australia from taking her proper place among the nations. All who love this country should favour legislation which will have the effect of increasing employment and ensuring that the people of the Commonwealth shall be something more than hewers of wood and. drawers of water. I hope that what I have said on the question of immigration will be noted by the Prime Minister. Unemployment breeds discontent, and causes men to commit crime. It helps to lower the dignity of womanhood, because, when their breadwinners are unemployed, they are often called upon to do things against their nature, and they have to sutler from the knowledge that their children are not supplied with proper or sufficient food. If honorable members would give the least study to this question, it should induce them to take every possible step to lessen unemployment. I am satisfied that if honorable members opposite, who have mansions in Toorak and St. Kilda, and week-end bungalows on the mountains, would try to put themselves in the position of the people who have to suffer from the effects of unemployment, they would no longer try to bring people to Australia for whom no employment can be found.
.- This is an occasion on which honorable members have an opportunity to make suggestions as to what the Government should do. Such occasions do not arise very frequently, and, in the circumstances, I am sorry that the Government should attempt to rush the Supply Bill through. Honorable members should not be prevented from fully discussing matters of urgent importance to Australia. The Government has attempted to make political capital out of the position in which the Labour party was placed shortly after the Prime Minister’s return from England. It refused to give us an opportunity to vote separately on the Imperial preference and defence proposals.
We were forced to vote upon both together, and as we could not support the defence proposals embodying the Singapore base, we were compelled to vote against both, not that we were opposed to reasonable defence for Australia, but we did not believe in the proposals as set out. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) definitely stated on that occasion, after the vote was taken, that honorable members on this side supported the preference for dried fruits mentioned in the proposals. He availed himself of subsequent opportunities to make the position of the party on this side quite clear. It was a bit of political trickery on the part of the Government to force members on this side to record a vote against the imperial preference proposal. If they wanted this House to be unanimous on the question, why were the proposals not separated? We believe in preference for dried fruits and other products exported from Australia. We also believe in a better marketing system for the benefit of our primary producers. Any honorable member who stands up in this House in the hope that talking done here will influence the elected representatives of the people of Great Britain on vital questions like freetrade and protection merely underestimates the intelligence of the people of that country. Whatever may be said of the action of members of the House of Commons who voted against preference for Australian products, it must be remembered that they came from the people of Great Britain with a mandate, and it is of no use for us to try to tell them how they should run that, country. I hope we shall hear no more from honorable members opposite to the effect that honorable members on this side, as a party, prevented Australian producers from securing preference for their products in Great Britain. I had intended to touch upon many matters in speaking to the motion before the committee, but as other honorable members also desire to speak upon it, I shall curtail my remarks. I notice that a sum of £38,000 is provided in the Supply Bill for the carriage of mails in Queensland, and a sum of £689,000 for telephone and telegraph lines. As the representative of a large country electorate, I have something to say with regard to the administration of the Postmaster-General’s Department. In certain parts of Queensland, I find that mail contractors and allowance postmasters are Underpaid. They are given an allowance by the Government that is quite insufficient for fodder, the upkeep of their means of transport, and cost of living. In. a letter I have received from one mail contractor in Queensland he points out that he receives a payment of £240 per annum. His expenses for the year amounted to - Horses, £18 5s.; first sulky, £12; another sulky, cost of repairs, £31; new shaft due to an accident, £3; harness and repairs, £10; horse feed, £96; shoeing, £18; and fees £4; making a total of £192 5s. When this amount is deducted from his allowance of £240, he is left a sum of £47 15s., on which to keep a wife and family. I stressed this matter on another occasion, when the Government name down with a proposal to reduce the postage rates from 2d. to lid. I said then that that reduction would assist only the wealthy commercial interests of Australia. They reap many thousands of pounds per annum as a result of it. We were told at the time by the Government that country services would not be stinted in any way, and that postal, telephonic, and telegraphic facilities would be afforded, and decent remuneration given to those engaged in the Po3t and Telegraph Department. Honorable members are aware that there are allowance post offices in country places and that those in charge of them are paid a disgraceful pittance. Sometimes they are unfortunate enough to get behind in their cash, .and then they are pursued with the utmost rigour of the law. It is a disgrace to r the Government to continue a policy of underpaying people in charge of allowance post offices. Honorable members who represent country electors know that what I say in this regard is quite correct. The Treasurer has mentioned that a sum of £689,000 is being provided for telephone and telegraph lines and other services, and I may inform him that there are many people living in the country districts of Australia who need better facilities. At a place called Frenchman’s Creek the people applied for a daily mail delivery, and were refused it unless they were prepared to pay £22 per annum to- wards its cost. It was unfair to make such a request of them. They have invested, their small savings in farms 5 or 6 miles out from Rockhampton, and I contend that they should receive the same consideration from the PostmasterGeneral’s Department as the people of that city. I have done all that I can to obtain relief for them, but so far I have failed. “The last reply I received on the matter dated April, 1924, from the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Gibson), a representative of the alleged Country party in this chamber, read as follows : -
Referring to the attached correspondence recently presented by you in regard to the desired establishment, without contribution from the residents, of a letter delivery at Frenchman’s Creek, I beg to inform you ‘that, as indicated in my letter of the 15th October, 1923, and my reply in the House to your recent question on this subject, it is not practicable for the department to make any further concession in this case beyond that already offered, viz., to establish the delivery subject to the residents concerned making a contribution of £22 per annum towards the cost thereof.
It is tin fair to ask these unfortunate people to contribute to the cost of a daily mail service, for many of them are not making a living wage. The Government boasts that the Postmaster-General’s Department has earned a profit of approximately £1,000,000 in the last twelve months, and I consider that it could well afford to concede this request. How can men be induced to go out into the backblocks if we are not prepared to grant them the necessary postal and telephone facilities on the same conditions as they are granted to the city people? I wish to refer to another case in which I endeavoured unsuccessfully to obtain sympathetic consideration from the Treasurer. On the eve of the last federal election a definite promise was made by the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) to the people of Queensland. Speaking at Maryborough, in November, 1922, he said -
There is only one way by which we can definitely improve our herds, and that is by breeding from high-priced animals. Unfortunately, we have to consider the cost of transport and quarantine. The Nationalist Government will introduce legislation designed to assist the producers by defraying the cost of transportation and quarantine of stud stock.
No doubt Mr. Hughes considered that by making such a promise he would gain for the nationalist candidate the votes of a number of small breeders of polled here- ford cattle, who were specially interested in this matter. Lest there should be any doubt about the nature of the promise made, the honorary secretary of the Australian Polled Hereford Association, Mr. Wm. Beak, wrote to Mr. Hughes on the matter, and received the following reply from his private secretary, Mr. A. D. Broad, just on the eve of the election: -
I am directed by the Prime Minister to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 10th instant respecting the cost of transportation of imported stud stock. I am to inform you that your assumption that the Government will bear the cost of this transportation in approved cases is correct, avid if you will get into touch with the Customs Department, who will have control of this matter, you will no doubt receive all the information you desire.
The Prime Minister is grateful for your appreciation of the action of the Government in their desire to improve the quality of the beef and dairy cattle.
Some time elapsed, and then the present Government came into office. Mr. Beak thereupon wrote to the present Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) to see what was being done in the matter1 of carrying out his leader’s promise. A reply to that communication was forwarded to me by Mr. Percy Deane Secretary to the Prime Minister. It reads as follows: -
In reply to your letter of 2nd July, relative to representations made to you by Mr. William Beak, honorary .secretary of the Australian Polled Hereford Association, in connexion with the question of the Commonwealth defraying the freight and quarantine charges on stud stock imported to Australia, I am directed to inform you that the Government have fully considered this matter, and regret that they are unable to see their way to take any action in the direction desired.
The only conclusion that” I can come to is that the presence of several representative of the alleged Country party in the Cabinet has prevented the nationalist section from giving effect to the definite promise that was made by their leader at the last election. A deputation waited upon the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) at Rockhampton on the 27th October last in connexion with the matter, and requested that the Government should assist the cattle industry by defraying transport and quarantine charges on approved imported stock. The Treasurer, in his reply, said -
We desire to encourage the improvement of the breed of our stock, and especially the cultivation of some more rapidly maturing stock, but the public interest has to be safeguarded.
He asked the secretary of the Australian Polled Hereford Association, Mr. Beak, to submit a definite proposal. He said -
I would urge you to draw up detailed propoals of a scheme that will meet your requirements, and I am sure that you will find that Cabinet will consider it very sympathetically.
Subsequently Mr. Beak wrote to the Minister for Trade and Customs as follows : -
I beg to state that I am acting solely for the Australian Polled Hereford Breeders Association, and we only desire the concession to apply to approved hereford polled stud cattle, and our chief reason for asking for this concession is because we cannot get fresh blood in Australia, and fresh blood is vital to the development of this fine breed of early maturing cattle.
Honorable members who know anything about cattle breeding will realize how necessary fresh blood is, and especially early maturing, and it cannot be obtained in Australia. The letter goes on -
My association will guarantee that all polled herefords purchased in America are for members of the association only, and will not be sold for at least two years, or if you desire it, that they will not be sold at all, and are only purchased for breeding purposes.
I’ might mention that as I happen to be the founder of polled hereford cattle in Australia, I am specially qualified to give an opinion on them, and after 30 years’ experience among stud stock I find that polled herefords mature earlier than any cattle I have ever handled.
The letter also contains the following sentence : -
Owing to the absence of fresh blood in Australia our movement will be retarded -greatly until your Government recognizes the desirable qualities of these cattle, and come to the rescue.
If you will grant our request we will advise you of each contemplated ‘ purchase, and supply the necessary guarantee.
There can be no doubt that these people were given a definite promise by the exPrime Minister, and were also told by the present Treasurer that a policy would be formulated to assist them. Up to date no such policy has been announced, and, so far as they know, nothing whatever has been done to help them. Any one who has had experience of cattle breeding in Australia knows the value of rapidly maturing stock, and Mr. Beak, who is behind the movement to import polled herefords, has had over 30 years’ experience. He is one of the leading experts in cattle breeding in Queensland. I think the Queensland people are justified in requesting the fulfilment of the promise which Mr. Hughes made to them. I appeal to the Treasurer to take notice of the matters which have been brought before him. The provision of free mail deliveries for farmers similar to those living at Frenchman’s Creek, who have been asked by the Government to contribute £22 towards the cost, should have favorable attention. The meteorological service also should be liberalized. The Government said that there was to be no 3tinting of these services. But they have been stinted. All we ask for is that fair and generous treatment be accorded them, and that the definite pledges given by- the leader of the last Government respecting the requests of the small cattle breeders in Central Queensland be honoured.
– I would not have spoken at this late hour had it not been for the remarks of the honorable members for Swan (Mr. Gregory) and Perth (Mr. Mann). These honorable gentlemen have lost no opportunity to attempt to belittle the secondary industries of this country. They always commence their speeches with a wish. They wish to obtain cheap wire netting, cheap fares on the railways, cheap shipping freights, cheap labour, and at the same time they wish for good seasons and plenty of rain. I have come to the conclusion that the Country party has so many wishes that their wishbone is where their backbone should be.
– And you want cheap products from the farm.
– I object to Australia going cap in hand to the Old Country, asking for preference. If we put too many people on the land, resulting in over-production, why should we ask for preference from any other country 1 This young country is wealthy and powerful enough to compote in any market without preference. The Labour party in Australia is blamed for the refusal of the British Government to grant preference. But why should we ask the Government in Great Britain to increase the price of certain articles because of overproduction in Australia ? The Leader of the Opposition has pointed out that the producer gets £20 a ton for his dried fruits, which are sold in Great Britain at £52 a ton. The profits all go to the middleman. If the energy now expended in the attempt to get cheaper freights were applied to organizing, with a view to a greater local consumption, better results would follow. It is of no use for us to bring Maltese to this country and place them on the land, if that means overproduction. Too many people in Australia are growing fruit. So far as fruit is concerned, we cannot expect to compete with other countries, because of our long distance from the market. Australia contains large areas of rich, fertile lands, which can be obtained as cheaply as land in any other country in the world ; and we have intelligent labour to work it. I take this opportunity to enter my protest against the continual efforts of the honorable members for Swan and Perth to decry our secondary industries, and to blame the Tariff Board. The Tariff Board has done good work. It has protected the industries of this country. Those honorable members want protection for their own products, as well as cheap implements, bounties, and butter and wheat pools. Australia cannot progress if we rely on our primary industries only. Secondary industries are necessary also. Some of the finest brain power in the Commonwealth, is being applied to the organization of our secondary industries, but they cannot succeed without protection. I have no objection to this bill going through tonight, but I hope that the Government will not flood the country with cheap labour in order to please the Country party. I am sorry that the Prime Minister has contracted to bring Maltese to Australia. There are plenty of people of our own race in Great Britain who are anxious to come here. To bring out Maltese in this clandestine manner is not right, and the Labour party resents it.
.- I wish to refer to an act of injustice on the part of the Government, in depriving some of its employees at the Government Dockyard of pay for holidays which they were compelled to take. The men were willing and anxious to work, but they were compelled by the management to take the holidays. In the circumstances, they have rightly claimed payment for those days. Hitherto payment has always been made for the particular holidays for which in this case it. has been refused. Even under the regime of the old tory governments in New South Wales - which until this Government came into power were the most reactionary that we knew of - the men were paid for the recognized public holidays. But this Government have refused payment.
– Yet they gave money to the squatters.
– While Ministers deprived the workmen of payment for holidays, they, on the other hand, were willing to place hundreds of thousands of pounds in the pockets of the big squatters. The whole power of the Government appears to be behind the big squatting interests of the country. But the unfortunate workmen, who have given the best years of their lives to the service of the country, are now to be deprived of their holiday pay. On the day that was given over to entertaining the British Special Service Squadron, members of the Government waved flags, prated of their loyalty, threw out their chests, and talked of “ The expansion of the British Empire,” and while the bands played “ God save the King,” the men * tho dockyard were compelled to take a day’s holiday without pay. The Government said to the men, “You are employees of the Government. You must show your loyalty to the King and Empire. You must take a holiday, at the expense, not of the Government, but of your poor unfortunate wives and children.” Their wages are little enough at any time. They receive the basic wage, which is the smallest wage on “which a man can maintain himself, his wife, and his family. The Government deliberately robbed them of their rights. I shall take an opportunity later of returning to the attack, and shall continue it until justice is done. “Until recently, there has always been at the dockyards a tribunal for preventing and settling industrial disputes. It was known as the Shipbuilding Tribunal, and consisted of a representative, of the employees, a representative of the management, and a chairman appointed by the Government. There were two representatives of the employers to one representative of the employees. It existed until the last Eight Hours Day, when the management of the dockyard said to the men, “ Take your holiday as usual, but you shall receive no pay for it.” The men claimed payment for the day, and, when the claim was refused, immediately took steps to submit it to the Shipbuilding Tribunal. The tribunal decided that right and justice were on the side of the employees, and ordered that they should be paid for the day’s holiday. The management accepted the decision of the tribunal, arid paid the men, but it also did something else. It said, “ This tribunal has decided against us. We must sack the tribunal.” Immediately steps were taken to put the tribunal out of existence, and from that day to this no action has been taken by the Government to set up another tribunal to deal with disputes at the dockyard. Because the tribunal, the constitution of which favoured the Government, gave a decision in favour of the workmen, it was wiped out of existence. If a tribunal existed to-day, there is little doubt that it would grant these men payment for their holidays. Many of them were transferred from the service of the State of New South Wales, and came over to the Commonwealth under a distinct promise by the Government of the day that their accrued rights would be preserved. They gave years of service to the state, but the Commonwealth, by a stroke of the pen, takes their rights from them. As the hour is late, I shall not say more upon the subject, except to tell the Prime Minister that he will discover that the Government cannot evade its legal responsibilities as easily as he thinks. It has been given every possible opportunity to deal with the matter in a fair and reasonable way. I have asked him questions in the House; I have written to him, and seen him personally; and I now say to him, “ If the Government seeks recklessly to cast aside its legal responsibilities, we shall go to the courts of this country and ask them to decide whether the men can be robbed of their legal rights.” No court in Australia would decide that the Government could take their rights from them. If the Government will not give the same consideration to these men as it gives to the wealthy squatting interests, the case will have to be tested in court.
– I make no apology for rising at this late hour, and for placing before the Ministry a statement of the case for the allowance postmasters and postmistresses of Australia. I know the Government wishes to pass the lull to-night, but I would remind honorable members that we have not had a Supply Bill for nearly twelve months. This is the first opportunity honorable members have had, except by moving the adjournment of the House, to state such a case as this, and any honorable member who moves the adjournment of the House is likely to be accused by the press, if not by the Government, of wasting two hours of precious time. I now take the opportunity of pleading the case of the allowance postmasters and postmistresses, and of placing on record a few letters I have received from them, so that the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral will have an opportunity to study the facts, and the people of this country, some of whom think that allowance postmasters are overpaid, will know exactly how much they receive. When the bill to reduce postal rates was before the House, I opposed it, because, in my opinion, it would in the long run injure country interests. Letters that have been brought under my notice from allowance postmasters disclose evidence of pinpricking by the department, and show that unreasonable efforts are being made to secure economy. I cannot help thinking that instructions have been issued to economize wherever possible, so ; as to defray the cost of providing wealthy business people with a lower rate of postage. I do not complain of the Government trying to practise economy if it is economy in the right direction, but I complain of it practising economy at the expense of those of its servants who are already paid too little. The first letter I wish to place on record is from a returned soldier. He is a man who has lost one of his arms. He works continuously from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, and receives the magnificent allowance of £154 per annum. If it were not for his war pension, he would not be earning sufficient to keep himself, his wife, and his two children. He writes as follows: -
Sedan, S.A., 25th March, 1924.
Having made several complaints lately re the allowance meted out to me by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, will you please bring this matter under the notice of the Postmaster-General when the Federal Parliament next meets ? The facts of the case are as follow: - On 16th September, 1922, the road mail bag used for direct exchange of mails between’ stations on a mail service was discontinued. The service in this instance being then known as the Angaston-Cambrai service, but has since been altered, and is now known as Angaston-
Swan Beach service, with a branch at Sedan called Cambrai-Sedan service. In the scale allowance to allowance postmasters is a rate for each 312 mails received and despatched. Since the discontinuance of this direct mail exchange, it has been necessary for me to receive and despatch, and, also re-sort mails for other offices. These postal articles, therefore, I take it, seeing that they are addressed to another/place, via Sedan, represent a mail received, and also one despatched, and the only difference in the mode of conveyance is that instead of, as before, putting the mails into the bag used for direct exchange, I am required to hand these loose to the mailman on a totally different service. As a matter of fact, the old mode of receiving and delivering or despatching is as before, with the exception that the mailman supplies the bag, and the Postmaster-General does not. I have complained to the Deputy Postmaster-General, Adelaide, and have endeavoured to put my case before him as clearly as I can, but without avail, and I now take this course of asking you to put this matter before the Postmaster-General, the main point being that, although I am expected to do the same duties as before, I amnot paid for so doing, as it is said I do not seal a mail bag. But whether or not, I contend that I receive mail matter and despatch it to another office to which it is addressed. The economy has been at my expense, so much so that my allowance, which should have been increased this year to the extent of £19, is still the same as in the previous year. On top of this it will be shown that an increase in telephone business alone shows me to be in receipt of £17 7s. more than last year. But the abolition of the road bag preventsme from benefiting by this amount, even though the amount of telephone duties has been almost doubled. Also, with the advent of reduced telephone charges, the lot of the allowance postmaster will be looking pretty sick unless a new scale of allowances, with better conditions, is drawn up. Trusting I am not putting you to any inconvenience, and that you will do what you can for me re contents of this letter.
That is a sample of the pin-prick policy pursued by the department. That man is doing the same amount of work as previously, but, through this road mail bag system, the department has found a means of cutting out a little expenditure at his expense. I have had similar complaints from postmasters at Piccadilly, Summerton, and Uraidla. In fact, I had to write to some of the leading townspeople in those places to get them to interview the postmasters so that the post offices might be kept open despite the reduction in the allowances brought about bythe new basis of payment for road mail bags. I have also received a letter from Pyap with a somewhat similar complaint. Evidently an endeavour is being made at the expense of allowance postmasters to make up for the loss of revenue brought about by giving cheaper postage rates to big businesses in the cities. Here is a letter I have received from an allowance postmistress -
Basket Range, S.A., 26th May, 1924. Now that Parliament is again at work for the betterment of our state I should like to ask for consideration of the conditions under which we (the allowance postmasters) work. My hours are daily from 8.30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays till 1 p.m. I receive a mail at 8.30, despatch another at 10.30 a.m., attend to nine subscribers on telephone, besides being at the beck and call of the public generally. I provide the necessary furniture and ‘fittings in the office, and provide fuel as well as cleaning utensils. For all this I receive ?3 18s. 3d. per month, which i3 less than that received three years ago, and by no means in comparison with that” received by any one outside the allowance postmasters. Now that there is a reduction in the new telephone rate, there will still be a decrease in allowance, though it will still involve further calls on telephone. The number of letters handled for the last twelve months totalled as follow: - Posted - letters, 6,045; packets, 58; papers, 160. Received - letters, 9,945; packets, 1,300; papers, 350. Postage stamps and postal notes sold - ?99. Calls answered on telephone, 1,597, valued ?25. Local subscribers’ telephone rental, ?9 19s. annually. Our only holidays are Good Friday and Christmas day, and we are not entitled to sick leave, or even annual leave, as are those employed at official post offices, and in case of illness we have to find a suitable assistant, which is always a difficult matter. I am responsible for old-age and invalid pensions to the value of ?222 16s. per annum, besides the revenue of registered articles, parcel post, &c, receiving and transmitting telegrams. The above figures are taken from own records, as I receive no revision of business done at this office. I trust that something will be done to ensure more than the scanty allowance at present received. Thanking you in anticipation. (Mrs.) G. M. Cranwell
There are two matters in this letter to which I draw particular attention. This lady states that she has “no revision of the business “ done, in her office, which I understand to mean that she is not furnished by the department with information that will enable her to check with accuracy the allowance made to her. I should think it essential that this information should be supplied to every allowance officer who desires it. The other matter referred to is the fact that the reduction in telephone charges is also to be made at the expense of the allowance officers. It is altogether unfair that these people should have to suffer in that direction. Let other postal officials speak for themselves -
Piccadilly, South Australia. 16th May, 1924. lie pay for non-official post offices. We rereive ?3 13s. 4d. per month. We have to find the room and the light. We have four mails per day, two each way. The first is about 7.45 a.m. and the last at 6.45 p.m. We despatch 3,600 letters a year and receive about 4,800. We post 150 registered letters and receive 160. Telegrams despatched number about 40, and those received about 50. We pay four old-age pensions and one soldier’s pension. Postal notes and stamps total about ?90 per annum.
& E. A. SANDERCOCK
– I call attention to the want of a quorum. [Quorum formed.’]
– According to the last letter the postmaster has to be on duty, and at the call of the public, from 7.45 a.m. to 6.45 p.m. for the magnificent sum of ?3 13s. 4d. per month, or less than ?1 per week. If the granting of penny postage necessitates the continuance of such conditions as that, it is time an alteration was made. The next letter is as follows: -
Forest Range, South Australia, 19th May, 1924.
Dear Sir, -
– I call attention to the want of a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– The letter concludes as follows : -
I do not get any annual leave, sick pay, or retiring allowance. I supply the premises, with the exception of a slight rent, in which the post office is conducted. I experience, occasionally, a certain amount of waste time in getting calls through, which causes a lot of unnecessary worry and waste time. I am endeavouring to point out that I am not satisfied with my present payment for the duties 1 am entrusted with, but will be satisfied if my payment is brought up to the same standard as it was in 1913. I wish to state I want annual leave and sick pay, the same as all other casual employees engaged by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. I also request that 1 shall be supplied with a copy of the annual revision of the work of my office, together with a scale rate showing how much I am paid for each class of work done by me. The new telephone charges will further reduce my allowance, because the new rate is a big reduction. We are paid 40 per cent, of the amount collected on ail outward telephone business, and nil for all inward telephone business.
I am, yours faithfully, .
G. COLLINS, Postmistress.
Again, in that instance the same complaint is made in regard to the decrease of the allowance owing to the reduction in the telephone charges, and also that there is no revision of the work done in the office in order to effect a check. I have also a letter from the postmaster at Callington, in South Australia, who writes -
I have to close the mail daily, excepting Sunday, at ten past six a.m., and the last mail arrives daily, excepting Saturday and Sunday, at 7.4S p.m. Often the train is late, so the mail does not arrive until nearly 8 o’clock. I make up 23 mail bags weekly, and have telephone business, telegraphic, parcels .post, postal notes, money orders, old-age and war pensions and Commonwealth Savings Bank business. I handle approximately £2,500 annually. My sale of postal notes is about £280 per annum, and stamps about £230. Registered letters approximately 1G0, parcels approximately 150,, money orders issued approximately 166. money orders paid 40, telephone calls outward approximately 1,000, old-age pensions paid approximately 270, war pensions approximately 170. I handle approximately 65,000 letters, 11,000 packets, 5,000 newspapers per annum. I get for this the sum of £119 15s. per annum. I provide the premises wherein the postal business is conducted,- and I provide lighting, &c., and get no rent. I get no sick pay and no annual leave. I work from 9 until 10 o’clock on all public holidays, and get only Good Friday and Christmas Day off, but no annual or sick leave, which I think I am in justice entitled to. (Sgd.) H. KOSCHADE P.M. ‘
In this instance the postmaster works from ten minutes past 6 in the morning until the mail is received at night, which is often after 8 o’clock. He handles £2,500 annually, and is in receipt of only ill 19 15s. per annum, which is only a little more than £2 per week. I have placed these facts on record, and trust the Government will take into consideration the claims of allowance postmasters. It is not right that these persons should be sweated merely because they are not organized as are other Commonwealth employees. It is useless the Acting PostmasterGeneral (Sir Littleton Groom) stating, as has been the practice of previous Ministers, that as these people conduct postal business in their stores they derive indirect benefit. It is true, of course, that some post offices are conducted in stores, but, . on the other hand, there are numerous instances in which the business is done in dwellings, either by disabled soldiers or the widows of expostmasters, who do not receive any benefit such as that derived by those conducting other businesses. I am not arguing that all concessions sought in the matter of long leave should be granted, but the Government should immediately increase the allowance paid to all allowance postmasters and postmistresses, and provide a higher rate of payment for them.
– I call attention to the state of the committee.
– I have recently satisfied myself that there is a quorum within the precincts of the chamber.
– I rise to order. I understand that when an honorable member has called attention to the absence of a quorum that honorable member is not entitled to again do so until fifteen minutes have elapsed; but that it is quite competent for another honorable member to call for a quorum. I should like your direction on the matter.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Where our Standing Orders do not apply, as in this instance, we follow the procedure laid down in May’s Parliamentary Practice. May says -
The Speaker has declined to count the House again when he had recently satisfied himself regarding the presence of 40 members. Nor would he count the House after a question has been put from the Chair, as the division will prove the number of members present.
In the duty respecting the presence of a quorum that devolves upon the Chairman of a Committee of the whole House, he follows, in every respect, the course pursued by the Speaker.
– Ave you acquainted with the ruling given by the ex-Chairman of Committees (Mr: Chanter) ?
– A precedent has been established. I should like to know what your authority is for departing from a ruling given in this House. When we are again in the House, will you acquaint Mr. Speaker of the circumstances, and secure his opinion ?
– I have no desire to interfere with the rights of honorable members, but, as I have already stated, I satisfied myself that a quorum was within the precincts. I ask the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) to continue his speech.
– I can only repeat that allowance postmasters deserve better treatment than they have received from this and other Governments. Their lack of organization should not be taken advantage of by the Government. These employees work long hours, and are at the beck and call of the public, receiving, in some cases, the miserable pittance of less than £1 a week. I do not ask the Government to fully recompense these people for the duties they perform, as I recognize that that would be difficult, but to mete out to them some measure of justice.
.- I compliment the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) on the stand he has taken on behalf of the sweated employees of the Government. In last year’s Estimates there was included an amount of £1,500,000 for privileges to users of postal facilities. Mail matter was carried at a 50 per cent, reduction in cost, with an increase of 100 per cent, in weight. This, of course, considerably increased the work of the postal employees. The Government should see that those who carry the biggest burden should receive the best attention, and this £1,500,000, or portion of it, would have been a fitting recompense to the postal employees for their increased work. It is a disgrace to the Commonwealth that such conditions should exist. If the Government take no action, I shall sup port the honorable member for Angas in any proposal he makes for lessening the hardships of these employees. I wish to associate myself with the Leader of the Opposition in his attitude respecting the agreement permitting a greater influx of Maltese into the Commonwealth than there has been hitherto. I am not opposed to immigration. I am the son of a man brought out here under arrangement with an employer in this country, so that I have no reason to prevent any of my own countrymen from entering Australia. The Commonwealth is not going outside the ambit of its authority, even internationally, in limiting the number of immigrants to Australia. America, which has taken up a stand by fixing quotas for the various nationalities whose peoples desire to enter that country, has no hesitancy in stating that not more than a certain number of Australians or Britishers can enter her territory; and surely other nations would not be affronted if we followed America’s example, by malting our own arrangements to suitably populate Australia and develop its latent resources. I have nothing against Maltese immigrants as men or women. I know none of them personally, and I have heard that they make fairly good citizens; but the factremains that people who do not understand our language and customs are encouraged by certain interests to come here to lower the standard of living enjoyed in Australia. Many of these southern European races after ten or fifteen years of residence in the Commonwealth, living below our standard of life, retire with a. competency to live in affluence in their own country, or take up businesses there which place them in a position of comparative affluence. In some1 parts of Australia industries are entirely in the hands of aliens, who have formed settlements of their own, a fact which is not creditable to those who rule our destinies. We should take up an attitude of careful selection and restriction, in the interests of Australia and its people.
– Innisfail, for instance.
– I believe Innisfail is an example of a community composed completely of foreigners, and the Government might well take cognizance of what occurred there, in order to prevent a possible’ recurrence of it.
It is time returned soldiers’ grievances were redressed, and the promises made to them honoured. If the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) would clothe the members’ committee he has created with adequate power and authority, not only would the queries that are raised in this chamber from time to time be answered, but the public generally would be assured that returned soldiers are getting a fair deal. The percentage of maimed and sick soldiers is not large when one considers the number who went overseas. I have informed limbless soldiers to what extent I thought they should be recompensed, but others hold contrary ideas. If honorable members who did not go to the war suffered the loss of a limb or an eye, or were afflicted with consumption, at what price would they assess their sufferings ? I would place all sick and maimed soldiers who are beyond recovery on a living wage until death, plus compensation for the period of suffering, which would only be a fair recompense to them. If I were a maimed soldier, But fit and able to work, I would see those administering war pensions on the hobs of hell before I would receive pensions from them. I am not holding a brief for the soldier who returned unscathed, but I regard the treatment meted out to those who are suffering from tuberculosis and the loss of limbs as totally inadequate. I have seen in a report notes of complaints by tubercular patients at Bedford Park, South Australia, but they do not agree with what was told to me. The sufferers are treated as mendicants relying upon the generosity of the Commonwealth, when in reality they are asking us only to honour the promises that were made to them when they enlisted for active service. Now that they are limbless and sick, we must face the music and carry out our promises. Honorable members represent the populace of Australia, who howled out these promises when it was necessary to obtain men. Now they go back on them and talk about venereal disease. These men did not go away of -their own volition. The temptation was put in their way. Many were boys unable to withstand the temptations that presented themselves on the other side of the world. Even the best of young men could not have resisted, although to succumb brought evils from which they might suffer all their lives. It was hot their fault, and if honorable members- were soldiers they would know it. I went ashore at Colombo, and next morning I stood on the mat and was fined £1. Again at Port Said I “ skipped ‘’ the boat, and saw everything that I could see. There was no decent hotel or accommodation to which one could go. Places of that description were out of bounds to soldiers, but not to officers. The soldier had to go into the ‘ ‘ Wasser ‘ ‘ if he wished to go anywhere at all. It was the same everywhere. Even though there be a doubt of the war having caused their present condition, the nation is responsible, because in the performance of the work that the nation set them to do they fell victims to the temptations that beset them. There are not many malingerers among those seeking a pension, because exposure in such cases would be an easy matter. The soldier should receive the benefit of any doubt that exists. The conditions under which the men lived were such as to test the strongest constitution, and even a man fifty years of age could not be said to be claiming too much if he alleged that the war was responsible for the breakdown of his health. We shall not be standing up to the half of our responsibility unless we pay a living wage in addition to compensation for the pain and suffering undergone by men who have lost a limb or an eye, or are suffering from a tubercular complaint. Holders of war bonds will receive full payment when those bonds mature, but those who went’ overseas and made real sacrifices are being neglected! I therefore join with honorable members in charging the Government with having shown a lack of consideration and sympathy towards returned soldiers. I make no apology for again referring to the screening of the film “. Flaming Youth.” I notice that .£300 is being provided for the censor for the two-monthly period covered by the motion. The importance of this matter can be gauged by the fact that the film has drawn forth strictures from no less a person than Archbishop Duhig, of Brisbane. I witnessed the screening of this picture, and I believe that it requires as much censoring as two other pictures that I recently saw in Brisbane. On that occasion, I was accompanied by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey), and we left the theatre before the end of the screening, disgusted at having been insulted, and not entertained. One picture was entitled, “ The Children of the Jazz.” Had it preached a moral, I could have overlooked its other deficiencies, but it did not contain a single point of merit or of value. I speak as a father. When my daughter was a little girl, I frequently took her to the pictures, and, sitting by her side, noticed the way in which her eyes were glued upon the screen, her interest in the picture being so great that she was entirely oblivious of my presence. I should be ashamed to let my daughter witness the dirty rot that is exhibited in that picture. The younger generation make a weekly visit to the pictures a part of their pleasures, and that is what they have to witness. It is said that conditions that exist are truly depicted. I do not believe there is any truth in the portrayal. On the 7th May last I asked a series of questions regarding “ Flaming Youth.” The reply which I received to the first was -
It is not considered that the film censorship should express an opinion on the merits of a picture, hut as to its fitness for exhibition only.
How is its fitness for exhibition to be determined if its merits are not considered? The next reply I received was -
The impression to be gained from the film as amended by the censor need not be harmful, although it is not a picture for the young mind.
It could not be anything but harmful; it was shockingly disgusting in its theme. I challenge the censor to state in the press the theme of the picture and allow the public to state whether he is capable of judging what is disgusting and whatis not. The reply to another question was -
It is thought that the plots of many pictures are often very far-fetched, but it is not known whether or not they are founded on fact.
This picture does not contain any plot; it is a most disgusting exhibition of a certain mode of life. In answer to a further question I was informed -
It is not considered desirable to express an opinion as to whether the exhibition of “ Flaming Youth “ is an insult. There are better and more elevating pictures than “ Flaming Youth,” but there was no need to advertise it, as it has been advertised. The advertise ments are, in a sense, a travesty of the picture as passed by the censorship, and this aspect is being dealt with. There are pictures which are insults to the average intelligence, but which cannot be ruled out under the censorship regulations.
Why can they not be ruled out? What is the censorship for if it cannot rule out a picture that is disgusting ? You find a girl escaping out of her bedroom. She puts on one of her sister’s dresses and pulls it down in front and at the back, so that she may be as bare as those she saw down below. Then she climbs out of the window, falls into the arms of a drunken young libertine, and after being well squeezed is taken into a ballroom. The mother dies a little later, and when the girl goes to tell her father he is seen sitting a,t a piano in a drunken condition playing “ Yes, we have no bananas:” In the face of such pictures, can it be said that this Parliament, in supporting a censor who passes stuff like that for the edification and amusement of the public of Australia, is standing up to its responsibilities ? I am not a plaster saint myself. I have seen life as merrily and happily perhaps as any other person. I should not like to tell the people all that I have done in my youth. I would cut the bad parts out and let them find out for themselves. But in this picture the whole story is paraded. If honorable members have any doubt as to the decency of this picture, I refer them to the advertisements of it to which the censor refers -
A spicy society expose, so startling that the author did not dare sign his name.
Here is a picture that gives you the bald facts* the truth about modern society, with its gay life, its petting parties, its flapper dances its jazz.
It is not a preachment. It presents things as they are.
I think it is a lie. I do not believe people live like that unless it is at Los Angeles. From what we hear of that place, I think it is a pity that the earthquake did not hit it, instead of San Francisco. Possibly, then, we should not have had this kind of stuff -
It is for you to decide whether this life is worth while.
How far can a girl go ? She smoked cigarettes. She drank. She went to petting parties. She led the pace of the gayest life in the gayest of society. And yet she claimed to be respectable. The men liked her; hut there were -certain conservative young men who were not seeking her as a wife. Why? She wondered had she gone too far.
The picture is an affront, I think, to the people of Australia, and it is only because they do no care to make themselves articulate upon this class of entertainment that it has not been denounced before. Archbishop Duhig has now, on their behalf, expressed abhorrence at it, and I want it recorded in Hansard so that the people may know that his attitude has support in this House. If it is true that society life is as shown in that picture; if it is true that people spend their money on these jazz and petting parties, on elastic balloons, cigarettes, low-necked frocks, and all the paraphernalia of such an environment, then I say it is time that the workers refused to toil and moil in field, factory, work-shop, or mine, to ‘provide surplus wealth, to be so spent. They should take a stand against the trend of events even if it leads to Bolshevism.
– I know that the working classes do not care for that class of picture. As a matter of fact the great majority of them would come away disgusted. Such pictures can have no good effect upon the people. Think of the psychology that will be created in Australia by this class of entertainment. If what I have said has no influence upon honorable members, perhaps Archbishop Duhig’s condemnation of it may have some effect.
– The screening of such pictures does not deter people from crowding into the picture palaces.
– Perhaps not, but the honorable member must not forget that humanity is frail. In this House we offer up a daily petition that we may not be led into temptation, and that we may be delivered from evil. We appointed a censor in order that patrons of picture shows should likewise be safeguarded. I suggest that the censor is not doing his job, and that he wants to be cut out himself. In justification of what I am saying, let me read, from the Age of the 16th June, the following telegram from Brisbane: -
Brisbane. - A sensational attack on the picture Flaming Youth was made by Archbishop Duhig, in the course of an address at St. Stephen’s Cathedral on Sunday night. “It is a picture showing the very worst and the lowest phases of American life.” Archbishop Duhig said, “ I would like to see pictures showing the better side of American community, industrial, and church life, but this picture is going to show us in all its blatant nakedness, sexual degeneracy of the worst type. They - are going to produce here what has been written by one who would not put his real name to the novel. They are going to show us a picture which will reproduce page .after page, chapter after chapter, of that awful book Flaming Youth, which the censor should never have allowed into Australia. I don’t know if any book has got into Australia that is a more degrading exposition of sexual vice than that very hook. It is amazing to me that it should have been allowed into Australia. Such expositions before the public are a moral poison of the very worst type, and the public are invited by advertisement to go and see this picture. I think it is an insult not only to our moral standing, but to our intelligence as a people, and I would make a public protest against it. I hope that none of our people will go to the theatre that is showing the film, or will witness the screening of that vile picture. I hope that the public of Brisbane will take a united stand against this sort of thing, and I hope if the people come here and insult us by screening such pictures we shall be able to tell them if they insist on doing that thing that none of our community will attend such theatres at all, no matter what they are showing.” »
Consider,” the Archbishop went on, “ the dreadful effect of such an exposition as that. Juvenile crime has been on the increase, and judges have/ warned us that pictures are largely responsible. The cinema can be made a very fine medium of education, but it is not fair to America, nor fair to Australia, to put such a picture on the screen. My attention was drawn to the book by a priest in Sydney, and under compulsion I went through this book myself. I would be sorry to think that any Christian father or mother would allow that book to get into the hands of a son or daughter.”
The Lieutenant-Governor, Mr. Lennon, supported all that Archbishop Duhig had said. Novels were bad, he said, but pictures, if anything, were worse. . Archbishop Duhig, in response, said those people in Melbourne who should have stopped the picture should be told that Queensland had a dignity above pictures of that kind. He called on the civic authorities to make a combined protest.
Archbishop Duhig knew where the fault lay, and put his finger on the spot. The man responsible for permitting that film to be exhibited in Australia was the censor in Melbourne, and the Minister for Trade and Customs should speak seriously to him for his lamentable failure to suppress it. I wish to refer to another matter which is of considerable importance to me, though it may not appeal to some other honorable, members. On Wednesday, the 7th May, I asked tho right honorable the Prime Minister the following questions: -
The replies were -
I am glad that the matter will receive consideration. I wish to show that Australia needs a national anthem. The matter was referred to in the Melbourne Herald newspaper some time ago in a paragraph headed “ Wanted - an Anthem.” I directed attention to the subject soon after my return from the war, and I have mentioned it since on several occasions. One of the greatest moments in the history of the world was marked by the signing of the Armistice on the 11th November1, 1918. I was then at Rouen, and every conceivable noise was being made by the people there to indicate their feelings of relief that hostilities had terminated. Every whistle on every boat on the Seine was blown. The soldiers mounted every -pinnacle available, and swarmed joyously over every projection that offered a foothold while the national anthems of the allied nations were played.
– The honorable member’s time has expired, but as no other honorable member has risen he may enter upon a second half-hour.
– Australia had no recognized national anthem, and the only thing that could be sung was “ Australia will bo there.” That, of course, has plenty of vim and “kick” in it; but it was somewhat humiliating to the Australian soldiers that they had no anthem which adequately expressed the national sentiment. When I was a boy attending school in South Australia we were taught to sing “ The Song of Australia,” which was composed by Mrs. Carleton. It was afterwards taught in the public schools of Western Australia. I am sorry to say that in the last few years it has not been sung much. I remember one notable occasion when the Mayor of Adelaide, Mr. I. Isaacs, entertained the citizens of that city at the Exhibition building, and the first item on the -programme was “ The Song of Australia.” It was heartily sung. I understand that a movement is on foot to perpetuate the memory of Mrs. Carleton. The Government could do worse than adopt “ The Song of Australia “ as our national anthem, for its sentiment in no way disgraces our country. I wish to correct an impression that may have been created by the Prime Minister’s reply to my question, which I have already quoted. He said that it was not usual to play the national anthem except in honour of royalty. The Melbourne Herald newspaper had something different to say on the matter.’ The paragraph which I mentioned earlier in my speech reads as follow : -
Wasted - An Anthem.
Australia’s Great Lack.
Australia as a nation lacks a national anthem.
The fact that English brass bands have found it impossible: to find copies of the Australian National Anthem with which to welcome Mr. Bruce, the Prime Minister, is not surprising. It was not possible to find such a tiling in Melbourne to-day.
Though small boys everywhere whistled, “Yea, we have no bananas,” no ono misses a National Anthem.
That shows that the people of England wished to honour Mr. Bruce by singing and playing the Australian National anthem, but there was none. It is beyond question, that we should have one. The manner in which the paragraph refers to boys singing “ Yes, we have no bananas “ throws ridicule upon our lack of an anthem, and, of course, we must appear ridiculous to other nations in that respect. I feel that there is only one way - in which I can adequately impress- these remarks upon the Government, and I ask your permission, Mr. Temporary Chairman, to sing the remainder of my speech.
– I nm afraid I cannot agree ‘to that.
– I shall be very pleased to conclude my remarks in song, if you will agree, sir.
– I am afraid that it would introduce an element of discord.
– I am quite satisfied that if you will take the risk - and I am satisfied to take it - you will afterwards acknowledge the advantage of my having concluded my speech in song. I trust that you have no objection.
– I do object. The honorable member must continue his speech.
– In song, Mr. Temporary Chairman?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member must continue his speech in the ordinary way. [The honorable member, despite calls of order from the Chair, sang the following verse : - ]
There is a land where summer skies Are gleaming with a thousand dyes ‘ Blending in ‘witching harmonics, Where grassy knoll and forest height Are gleaming in a rosy light, And all around is azure bright, Australia! Australia! Australia!
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended.
Resolution of Ways and Means, founded on Resolution of Supply, reported and adopted.
That Dr. Earle Page and Mr. Bruce do prepare and bring in a bill- to carry out the foregoing resolution,
Bill presented by Dr. Earle Page, and passed through till its stages without amendment.
Disorder in Committee.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I think that, as the Prime Minister, I should refer to something which happened while the House was in committee. I do not propose to speak of it at length, but I make an appeal to honorable members - an appeal which I am sure. will be supported by members on both sides of the House - to preserve the dignity and prestige of this chamber. I do not wish to exaggerate any episode, and I quite appreciate that what was done was due solely to a spirit of lightheadedness, and that the Chairman, with great tact, overlooked it. But it would be lamentable if we should do anything in this House which would in any way lower the dignity and prestige of the national Parliament in the eyes of the people. For that reason, I felt that I could not possibly let the matter pass without reference. I am sure that my remarks are supported by all members on both sides of the House.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
– I am not cognizant of the circumstances to which the right honorable the Prime Minister has referred, but as one who has had the privilege and honour of presiding over the deliberations of this chamber for the past eighteen months I recognize that it is quite impossible for any occupant of the chair, either in the House or in committee, to preserve the high standards of parliamentary decorum which we have derived from our ancestral institutions in Great Britain, without the cooperation of members of all parties. That cooperation, I have been fortunate enough to enjoy, and I hope that the remarks of the right; honorable the Prime Minister will be accepted by all honorable members in the spirit in which they were made.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.48am.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 June 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1924/19240625_reps_9_107/>.