9th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr: Speaker- (Rt. Hon. W; A Watt) took the cHair at 11 a.m., and read’ prayers.
– Several weeks ago I addressed a. question, to the. Prime Minister regarding assistance to municipalities for the construction and maintenance of roads within their boundaries. The Prime Minister promised to consider therequest, but I have received no further intimation, from him.
– After the honorable member, mentioned, the subject in theHouse it was considered by the Cabinet,, and I thought that. a. reply had’ been given, to him. I am sorry if that is not so, but I shall look into the matter aud let. him know the result immediately.
quarters- in western australia.
– A statement appeared recently in the Western Australian press regarding, the mental patients’ hospital to be erected: at West Subiaco,. Perth. It suggested that the conditions- under which the hospital was’ to be erected have been changed, . or are not what they were supposed: to be. Will the Treasurer state whether, the agreement: with the State Government has been varied ?
– The facts were correctly stated’ by me in t.hia- House lastweek, and as> far as I am aware the conditions have not been varied. I shall, .however, make inquiries to ascertain whether that is so.
– -I understand that 25,000 tons of Welsh coal have been landed at an. almost prohibitive- cost at Newcastle, New South-Wales, and stacked in the open, on the-wharf. Will- the Government obtain expert- opinion-, regarding’ the deterioration that is likely to take place in’ the coal’ before it . will be used’?
– I shall bring the honorable member’s question under the notice of the Minister for Defence, who will, no doubt-j make a statement explaining why the coal has been imported, and what amount of deterioration is .likely -to “take place.
– Has provision been made in the Estimates for the establishment of a laboratory for the investigation of industrial diseases at ‘Broken Hill, and, if not, what is the reason for the omission ?
– A decision about the establishment of further laboratories is awaiting the report of the proposed Royal Commission.
– Will the ‘Prime Minister express to me .the: same measure of .regret that he has expressed to ;the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), ‘.regarding his failure to answer .a question that 1 “have asked on more than one occasion? The question has reference to loans amounting -to £92;Q00;000 raised in London. The Prime Minister promised that during his visit to /England he would make inquiries into the .matter and let me know the result. I have .received no further information from him.
– I should be only too pleased to make the .same apology to the honorable member for East Sydney as I have already made to the honorable member for Hindmarsh, except that there is an important difference between the two cases. I have not had an opportunity to make a statement on this matter, and when I do so, it -will, of necessity, be a very full statement. The financial proposals for the year will shortly be considered, and that will provide me with an opportunity to state the facts as fully as possible.
– Is it a fact, as reported in the press, that the party for the relief of the victims of the Douglas Mawson wreck has not yet left Darwin? If that statement i3 true, will the Government consider my suggestion to send a party overland, from, the Katherine River ? Further, does he not think that the delay in despatching the relief party is tragic, and a reflection upon the Administration in the Northern Territory?
Mr. ATKINSON I do not know whether the relief party has yet left Darwin, but I shall bring the question immediately under the notice of the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce), and supply the honorable member with all the information obtainable. (See page 2803).
Income Taxation Proposals
– Seeing that the Treasurer, in ‘his budget speech yesterday, announced certain remissions of income taxation, -will he take steps to provide the House with more detailed information ? I do not ask him to provide ready reckoners, as previous Treasurers have done, but if he would instruct his departmental officers to prepare statements showing -the .effect of “the proposals on incomes ‘from i£500 to £5,000, it -would be possible for honorable members ‘to understand more: readily exactly what his proposals .mean.
– If the honorable member will state on the notice-paper the incomes in regard to which ‘he “would like the details worked out, I .shall be pleased to comply with hi-s request.
– Will ‘the Treasurer provide ‘honorable members with a full statement of the -new works, &o., that are proposed by -the Government ? At present they are all lumped together, and honorable members have not the faintest idea of the .Government’s intention regarding individual proposals.
– Apart from the Loan Estimates, the -details are set out. I shall make inquiries, with a view to seeing what can be done to .meet .the honorable member’s wishes in regard to . the Loan Estimates.
Motion (by Mr. Pratten) agreed to -
That leave be,given to bring in a bill for an act relating to the value for duty of goods not the produce or -manufacture of ‘New Zealand, which are imported into Australia from New Zealand.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Pratten) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act relating to the sea-carriage of goods.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
asked the Minister for
Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The acreage figures are not available, but particulars of the building allotments show the land position -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he lay on the Library table all the papers and/or cables, &c, in connexion with the proposed building of the 10,000-ton cruiser in Great Britain?
– As negotiations are still proceeding in connexion with this matter. it is not considered advisable in the pub interest to lay these documents on the table of the Library.
Mr. WEST (for Mr. Mahony) asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Seeing that the Government have appointed Sir John Monash to act as chairman of a conference between representatives of the Commonwealth Shipping Board and the Navy Board on the question of building one 10,000-ton cruiser in Australia, will the Prime Minister have the question of constructing both the 10,000-ton cruisers in Australia also referred to that conference with the view to ascertaining what advantages would accrue to Australia by the construction of both vessels in the Commonwealth?
– I replied to this question without notice yesterday to the effect that, as the honorable member’s suggestion is to ask the conference to review a decision of this Parliament, I cannot possibly accede to his request.
Poisoning of Stock
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
In viewof the fact that the Commonwealth Government has made a grant of £10,000 as a sympathetic allowance for losses caused by “ Rinderpest “ in Western Australia, will the Minister extend the same sympathetic treatment to the small holders of the Northern Territory who have sustained heavy losses due to having to drove their cattle along poisoned Government stock routes, which have been known to the Government for some years, and only attended to this year, after veryheavy mortalities in stock and considerable financial loss to the settlers of the Northern Territory ?
– It is not considered that the circumstances of the two cases are analogous, or that sufficient justification has been disclosed for a payment that would involve discrimination against stock-owners who have suffered losses of stock from other disabilities to which the cattle industry is subject. The Government has, at considerable expense, arranged for an investigation of the causes of the mortality to which the honorable member refers, and upon receipt of the report of the expert who is conducting the investigation will apply such remedies as are seen to be necessary.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– An endeavour will be made to obtain the information.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether the Repatriation Department in New South Wales is giving applicants for pension the full benefit of section 22 (d) of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act 1920, i.e., recognizing “ wholly or in part dependent,
– An endeavour will be made to obtain the information.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
See answer to No. 1.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Whether he will, in the interests of education, consider the desirability of affording free, to all schools and colleges, the facilities of wireless communication ?
– This question received careful thought during the consideration of the new Regulations, and it was decided that the utmost concession practicable in such cases would be given by issuing ordinary experimental licences when it was clear that broadcasting services were not intended to be used for purposes of entertainment.
Additions, New Works, Buildings, etc.
In Committee of Supply:
Home and Territories.
Proposed vote, £20,000, agreed to.
Proposed vote, £311,323. .
– I should like fuller information regarding the following items: - No. 1, naval establishments, machinery, and plant. £11,000; No. 2, coal hulks, yard craft, boats, &c, £16,000; No. 3, construction of fleet, £5,000; No. 4, reserves of stores, including ammunition, ordnance, torpedo stores, and coal and oil fuel, £104,803; and No. 5, oil fuel storage facilities, £24,000. Are the ammunition, ordnance, and torpedo stores to be procured locally or from overseas ? Where are the oil fuel storage facilities to be provided, and are the reserves of stores to be, used outside Australia ?
-Most of the expenditure on item 4, reserves of stores, including ammunition, ordnance, torpedo stores, and coal and oil fuel, is for ammunition for the fleet. The policy of the Defence Department is strictly tobuy no stores abroad that can be manufactured in Australia at a reasonable cost. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), the other day, questioned certain items that appeared in the uniform section, one of which was socks. This is a peculiar hard-wearing sock of worsted twine, not made in Australia. Before sending the order to England, I consulted the manager of Foy and Gibson’s spinning mills, and he told me that that class of sock was not in general wear here, and that the order was not big enough to justify the firm in installing the special spinning plant necessary for its manufacture.
– Was that the only firm that the Minister consulted?
– Yes. He told me that these socks couldnot now he made in Australia.Foy and. Gibson’s have one of the biggest spinning factories here.
– Were tenders called in Australia for the socks ?
– Tenders were called here, but none was received..I did not place the order abroad until I was fully satisfied that these socks could not be made here.
– The honorable member for Yarra inquired about other articles.
– No goods of any kind that can be made here have been ordered abroad, unless the local price was exorbitant. In some cases we have ordered goods from local manufacturers at prices 100 per cent. above the imported prices. Under no circumstances are goods ordered from England if the price of the locally-made article is below or equal to that of the imported article, plus cost of importation, duty, and 25 per cent, added to the whole cost. Although assistance and protection has been given to Australian industries by a fixed tariff, yet in all cases we have, as a general policy, paid local manufacturers 25 per cent. increase on the price of the article rather than order goods abroad. Sand’ shoes are another item.
– And silk handkerchiefs and shirts.
– Silk handkerchiefs are not made here. These sand’ shoes are worn during gymnastic training.
– Does the Government supply dancing shoes’ to the officers ?
– I think not, although I do not know what the canteens may have for sale. These sand shoes must be replaced by the men at their own cost. I took a sample shoe to Mr. Daniels, the manager of Perdriau’s, and askedhim whether that type of shoe was made here. He said “No.” I asked him whether it could be made here, and he replied, “If I. am allowed to take a sample with me, I shall make inquiries and let you know.” About a month afterwards he told me that there was nothing special in the manufacture of the shoe, and that it could be supplied at a cost of 6s. 5d. per pair. The landed cost of the English shoe was about 3s,11d. As the men have to replace these sand shoes out of their own allowances, I should not be justified in paying 6s. 5d. for shoes that could be obtained at 3s. l1d. Another item was jerseys. This was a specially woven jersey with a low neck, to conform with the naval uniform. It was woven in a round piece. It could be made here, provided special machinery was installed, but the demand is not sufficient to attract the manufacturers.
– One factory in Australia is making 5,000 jerseys a day.
– The honorable member makes all sorts of rash statements. I have made thorough inquiries. The type required is not made here.
– Has the Minister considered changing the type of article to conform with that manufactured here ?
– That has been done in some- instances. All the items to which objection has been taken were ordered many months ago, and nothing has been ordered abroad since.
– Will the Minister explain item No. 5, oil fuel storage facilities?
– Tanks are provided in Sydney and Williamstown. These are not the new ones included in the £1,000,000 expenditure. The 8,000-ton tanks are to be placed somewhere in the north..
.- I shall not allow this item to pass without offering a word of criticism respecting the practice of the department of sending abroad to obtain articles that can be manufactured here.
– That is nob the Government’s practice.
– Why not alter the class of article to. comply with our local manufacture?
– That is the point to which I was coming. It may be that the recommendations to the Minister from the departmental heads are such as to practically preclude local manufacturers from successfully tendering for certain articles. Like other members of this House, I have recently inspected a number of Australian factories manufacturing woollen goods, and in view of that experience, I was astonished to read a short time ago the Minister’s replies to questions asked by the honorable member for Yarra. (Mr. Scullin). Accompanied by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) I visited the Lincoln Knitting Mills, near Melbourne, a few weeks ago, and saw there machinery worth tens of thousands of pounds lying idle and deteriorating for lack of orders; the services of some 500 or 600 employees who could, and should, be employed, have been dispensed with. We should give more consideration to the development of our industries in Australia. It is generally admitted that we produce the finest wool in the world. I believe also that we have here the very latest machinery, while no one will question that the Australian workman stands high among the operatives of the world. The Minister should consider carefully the advice tendered to him by his departmental officials when they recommend that articles which can be manufactured in Australia shall be purchased abroad. Possessing, as we do, every facility for supplying the very best article, in that we have the best wool, the best machinery, and operatives second to none-, every encouragement should be given to the development of this industry. I hope that in the future the Minister will examine critically all suggestions made to him by people who apparently think that no good can come out of Australia.
– The statement that Australia cannot produce the particular type of article required by. the Navy will not much longer be accepted by honorable members in this House. We should endeavour to be Australians, and to build up our own industries. I have seen boys in gymnasiums training in sand shoes just as good as those which are imported for the Navy. To tell members of an Australian Parliament that Australia cannot produce jerseys fit for an athlete or the men of the Navy, is an insult to the people of this country. With the honorable member forCorio (Mr. Lister) I visited the Lincoln Knitting Mills, and. saw about 300 knitting machines of the most modern type covered up because there was no work for them to do. Because Australian-made shoes are a little more expensive than those obtainable from outside countries the Navy Department decided to import shoes. On the other hand the Department imported 25,000 tons of Welsh coal, costing about £3 a ton, whereas coal which, for; all practical purposes, is equally good, could be obtained in Australia for about £1 a ton. That is the policy of the department when the imported article is dearer ! Imported coal costs 200 per cent. more than that obtained locally. The Minister stated that Welsh coal was imported in readiness for use in war, but the coal is stacked in the open, where it will deteriorate. The Minister said that the Welsh coal will not deteriorate like other coal, but any coal which is left in the open will deteriorate. For fear of spontaneous combustion a man has to be employed to watch this Welsh coal. When it is wanted it will be no good.
– If it will be no good, how will its importation keep our own men out. of employment ?
-That is a quibble. Any one would think that the French, American and Italian authorities Would be just as careful in thecoal they use as the Australian naval authorities. Yet, in times of peace, vessels belonging to their navies have come here, and have taken Newcastle coal on board.
– The Australian Navy uses Australian coal in times of peace. TheWelsh coal; is a reserve in case of war.
Mr-. WATKINS.- When will the next war. come?
– I cannot answer that question, but we want to be ready when it does come.
– Let us suppose that Australia becomes engaged in another war within twelve months. The Welsh coal is at Newcastle, but not one big ship of the Navy will call there to obtain it. If that coal is to be used by the vessels of the Australian: Navy it should be stacked at Sydney where the vessels are stationed. The present arrangement is a farce, as the coal would have to be picked up by smaller boats and taken to Sydney to be placed in the war boats.
– Every lb. of coal used to-day is taken to the warships by colliers.
– If the coal had been landed in Sydney, there would be no double handling. It seems that Welsh coal is to be used by the Navy because it is a little less smoky than that obtained in Australia. The authorities are prepared to pay 200 per cent. more than would he paid for the local coal, merely for a little greater cleanliness, and a little less ash, and in order to save themselves trouble. A large sum of money is involved, seeing that every ton of that 25,000-tons stack cost £3. It is an insult to men who are able to obtain work for only three or four days a week for coal to be imported from Wales and landed almost at their door.
– I do not think that any honorable member will be satisfied with the Minister’s statement, or with the airy manner in which he has attempted to set aside the fact that so many articles required by the Navy, which could be made in Australia, are imported. Some time ago, in reply to a question by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin),- a list of articles imported for the Navy was given. The list makes very interesting reading. The Navy Department is one of the worst offenders in not carrying out the policy of obtaining its requirements from local manufacturers. I know of no department that offends so much in this connexion.
– I know of no other department that gives a 25 per cent, preference over and above the duty.
– What is the good of a policy if it is not carried out ? The Minister says that the Government’s policy is to get Australian-made articles where possible. It is of no use for him to say that and at the same time to import so many things which could be made here. All honorable members will agree with the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister), that something is wrong when thousands of pounds’ worth of machinery, capable of manufacturing many of the articles required, are lying idle in Australia and causing unemployment. One of the great problems at present confronting Australia is that of unemployment. While the Minister for Defence tells us that the policy of the Government is to buy in Australia, so far as possible, the articles required by the Government, he, at the same time, allows the Navy Department to flout the will of the people. The very composition of the Navy office indicates that it does not include many good Australians. For men who have come to Australia to earn their living, and who claim it as their adopted country, Australian manufactures should be good enough. The Minister spoke of socks and other articles which are imported; does he mean to say that Australian-made socks are not good enough for the officers in the Navy Department ?
– The socks are not for the officers in the Navy Department, they are for the men of the naval services.
– The Minister stated that when he asked some firms if they could manufacture certain navy requirements, they said they could not do so at present. Let the Minister lay down the definite policy of patronizing Australian industries, and the local manufacturers will install the machinery necessary to supply the Navy’s needs. All they want is an assurance of continuity of orders. The placing of orders abroad for things that can be made in Australia has very serious consequences for our men who are out. of work. On the 9th July the Minister, in answer to the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) submitted a list of orders for uniform and clothing materials which has been placed since 1st January, 1923. It includes blue cloth caps. Recently cloth from the Geelong Woollen Mills was exhibited in this building, and some of it was equal to any that could be produced in any part of the world. Even if the cloth were not good enough for the Navy Department, local production is never likely to come up to that standard if the Government Departments discourage it at every turn. Given proper encouragement, local manufacturers could successfully compete against any country in the world for the supply of nine- tenths of our requirements. It is useless for the Minister to say that the articles enumerated in his list cannot be made in Australia. Honorable members will not accept that statement; it is an insult to the Australian people.
– A lot of the gentlemen in the Navy Office are accustomed to use articles from abroad.
– That is so; but if those gentlemen are content to draw their salaries in Australia, local products should be good enough for them to wear. It is time that some of those gentlemen were put through their facings. They can hardly answer one decently on the telephone. They do not speak the Australian language; ever their speech is imported. A little more of Australian sentiment should be inculcated into the department, and the
Minister should not allow himself to be bluffed by his officers.
– For lying, evading, and postponing, commend me to military head-quarters.
– I believe that of all Government Departments the Navy and Defence Departments are the most anti-Australian. The list of stores bought- by the Navy Department within the last twelve months includes 44,000 yards of bluette, 6,000 yards of webbing for braces, gold braid, and 3,000 kit bags.
– The item is 3,000 sets of fittings for kit bags. The bags are made locally.
– Other articles include brushes, white pique covers for caps, cloth for officers’ great-coats, combs, comforters - presumably for the officers, but they may be for the Minister; certainly those engaged in the manufacture of these articles will require a lot of comforting when they know of these importations - -canvas and kit bags and hammocks, flannelette, gloves-
– Are there any spats?
– No; but there are gaiters of patent leather, and handkerchiefs, blue worsted jerseys, bootlaces, macintoshes for petty officers, waterproof coats-
– The very best waterproof coats in the world are produced in Sydney.
– Yes, they are good enough for even the officers. Other articles are shirts, singlets, socks, shirting, shoes, towels, cotton and woollen vests, and serge. Will the Minister say that good boot blacking cannot be obtained in Australia? The importation of these requirements is not fair to the large number of people who are engaged in local manufacturing, and may be rendered idle because some men in the Navy and Defence Department consider that an Australian-made article is not good enough for them. If, as the Minister has said, the policy of the Government h to buy locally-made articles, I hope he will explain why so many of the department’s requirements have been imported during the last year. He should not be bluffed by the officers of his department. This’ committee will not believe that these articles could not be manufactured in Australia, and even the Minister does not look simple enough to believe it. His explanation does not satisfy the honor able member for Corio (Mr. Lister), who is personally acquainted with many of our secondary industries. A casual inspection of some of the most prominent factories would convince any honorable member that the Minister’s explanation is altogether unsatisfactory. This antiAustralian policy” ‘ should be stopped at the earliest moment. I do not know of any department in connexion with which it could be better stopped than the Naval Department. I have not a word to say, personally, against the staff of the Naval Department, but I express the views of every member of this Chamber who knows anything of the officials of that department, when I say that their attitude is distinctly antiAustralian. If Australia is a good enough’ country in which to draw their salaries, the least that can be expected of them is that they will be kind to the country that is kind to them. We could manufacture in Australia nine-tenths of the articles contained in the list supplied by the Minister, ‘ and the honorable gentleman should see to it that in future this anti-Australian attitude will not be adopted by his department.
.- I indorse the statements made by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) concerning the list -of articles imported for the Navy. The list was supplied in answer to a question put to the Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden). The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) pointed out, only a few days ago, in this Chamber that in eighteen months no less than £57,000 was spent by the Navy in the purchase of woollen socks in Great Britain. This was in spite of the fact that, because of the falling off in trade, 36 knitting factories, which made these articles in Australia, have gone out of existence. It is easily seen that the adoption of the policy disclosed by the importation of these articles is responsible, to some extent, for the unemployment in Australia to-day. The employees of the 36 knitting factories have been thrown on the street, many of them being women. To ask people who have spent half a lifetime indoors in industries of this kind, to undertake ‘ pick and shovel work is to offer them no relief at all. The Minister should not permit his officials to tell him things which are patently wrong. He must know that the bulk of these articles can be made in Australia. He should not be so much putty in the hands of the officials of his department. The honorable ‘member for Hume referred to the fact ‘that the list shows that 36,000 bootlaces -were imported. Fancy saying that in Australia we cannot ma’k-e laces! That is a very poor advertisement for the* Commonwealth. If the Minister was ‘told by his officials that seven-tenths of the articles enumerated by the honorable ‘member for ‘Hume could not be manufactured in Australia, he was not only misled, but he must have denied the evidence of his own senses. A school child knows ‘that these things can be and are being made in Australia. I wish also to “refer to ‘the importation of coal for the Navy, -mentioned by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins). We have been told that ‘this coal is required for war purposes. If so, the Government does expect a war, although the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) told us only the. other day -that “the Pacific is safe. ‘The coal is required for the new cruisers, and we shall not get these cruisers . for three years. ‘It is like a man ‘buying a horse collar before he has either a horse or a vehicle. It has- frequently been demonstrated that Australian coal can be used on warships. This ‘has been shown when American, French anil Italian war vessels have visited “this country. Probably some of the vessels of the British fleet that recently visited the Commonwea’lth used our coal. At a time when we are told that there is no immediate danger of war, the Naval’ Department imports 25,000 tons of coal from Great Britain, at a cost of from £3 ‘to £3 Is. per ton.
– W.ho was responsible for ordering that coal ?
– I suppose it was the Naval Department, because we are told that it was ordered if or the .Navy.
– Who authorized the expenditure ?
– The honorable member is being asked to authorize -some of the expenditure in agreeing to the Estimates before us. If coal is left in a heap for three or four years it will deteriorate, and will be of very little use for -naval purposes. It must be constantly watched, inspected, and tested. What is most galling about this matter is that this imported coal is dumped down in an Australian coal district, where men are working only half or quarter time. I admit that if Australian coal is left in a heap a long time it will deteriorate, and will require periodical inspection and testing, but it could be obtained at 20s. per ton, and, as compared with the imported coal, that would ena.ble us to make .a saving of £2 per ton. The action of “the Government in this matter is calculated to irritate the men engaged in the coal .industry in Aus.tralia .Many men .in the industry are a’t present working only two or three days in a fortnight, and unemployment, in rife throughout our coalfields, while coal is being imported by a department that is supposed to exist for our defence, and to help in making Australia a nation. Most modern battle-ships are using oil for -fuel. I do nob care to talk of battle-ships at -all. I hope that there will not be many more built in any part of the ‘world, but if amy are built they will be of the most modern type. In America -battle-shiips are being constructed that will be electrically driven. The .Hood, which is one of the most modern battleships, uses oil, and no doubt the -cruisers we are to get -will consume oil. In view of these facts, I cannot but believe that there is something which has’ not been disclosed behind the action of the Government in importing coal to Australia. We know that on hundreds of occasions coal has been put to grass before an industrial trouble occurs, and that trouble has been deliberately fomented in every country in which coal is produced. In my opinion the coal miners of Australia are justified in viewing the ‘importation of this coal with great suspicion. I believe that it has been imported, not so much in preparation for war against an outside enemy, as in preparation for an internal war in the coal industry of Australia.
– That is all bosh.
– I think that the Minister should be asked to withdraw that statement.
– I am “not surprised that the honorable gentleman should have made the statement, because a man who would accept from his officers ‘the statement that the articles contained in ‘the list which has been referred to ‘ cannot be made in Australia would consider that any sensible argument was bosh. I have been in the mining districts of the south coast of New “South Wales, and I know that men who ‘have worked in the one mine for half a lifetime, and who would like to have continuous employment, to enable them to keep their homes together, received only three days’ work in the last fortnight. There has not been a strike in the district for the last three or four years, but the whistle will blow one day to assemble the miners, and will not be blown for the next three days, the reason given being that there is over-production and no market for coal. The coal-mining industry must be continued in Australia. Any one with experience will agree that a man who has worked half his life underground cannot do hard work in the broiling sun. I protest against the importation of Welsh coal. It is an outrage on Australia. The Government proposes not only tohave the boats it requires built elsewhere than in Australia, but also to import the coal which they are to use. The thing is preposterous. Every time the Government takes such action I shall raise my voice in protest against it.
.- I shall not delay the committee long, but I wish to support the contention that the list of articles imported to meet the requirements of the Naval Department reveals something which should be looked into. I hope the Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden) will realize that the people of Australia look to this Parliament to give them a lead in the development of Australian industries. The action taken by the Government in this matter serves to emphasize the difference between the Labour party’s idea of defence and that of the Government. I have said that the Labour party initiated a defence system, and tried to ensure that it should in every part be Australian. The present Government has departed from that policy. It disposed of the woollen mills and the harness factory, and I suppose will get rid of the other adjuncts to our defence scheme, and will carry out a policy of importing everything that is required. How is Australia to be developed under such a policy? Last night we were arranging to give 10s. per head on the export of cattle to assist primary production, yet we have a list of articles imported for the Navy Department which reveals a deplorable state of things. We should be told which of these articles cannot be made here, and why they cannot be made here. There is an item “handkerchiefs, black silk,” at 6s. 6d. each. Twelve thousand of those are supplied. Who uses them?.
– The men.
– The Government did not pay 6s. 6d. for a handkerchief for me when I was in the Army.
– The word “handkerchief” is a misnomer. It should be “scarf.”
– The whole thing is a misnomer from an Australian point of view. Most of these goods should bc manufactured locally.
– Does the honorable member suggest that we could make silk handkerchiefs in Australia?
– No; but who uses 12,000 of them? I do not think the Minister knows what he is talking about. The next item is white cotton handkerchiefs, of which only 4,000 are required, and their cost is 3s. 4d. per dozen. Who uses the white cotton handkerchiefs at 31/3d. each?
– The admiral, I suppose !
– Together, no doubt, with the cocked hat,costing 84s. The Minister’s flippancy is not appropriate to the subject. His reply is not fair to me, nor to the House. How many officers are there in the Navy, and how many silk handkerchiefs are issued to them every year? When I was in the Army, the authorites used to prescribe very minutely how much salt, pepper, meat, jam, and cheese I should have.
– The silk handkerchiefs are worn by the men round their necks.
– That presents the item in a new light. I doubt whether conditions in Australia are suitable for the production of silk, but there is no saying what we could do if we tried. The determination of Australians is to do everythingpossibleforthemselves.The gravamenofthechargeagainsttheNavy Department was contained in the question of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin). The Navy does not possess the Australian sentiment; it is not endeavouring to develop Australiaby obtaining its requirements in this country. It hasnot done the right thing by the Australian coal miner. This debate will serve a.good purpose if it directs the. Minister’s attention to the fact that it is the duty of the Government to. see that the Navy, when making purchases, buys Australian goods whenever possible.
.- I avail myself of this opportunity to draw the attention of the Minister to the policy of the Navy Department. The objections of honorable members have arisen because there is no Australian sentiment or Australian ambition in the Navy Department, and that is due to the policy of importing officers. Competent men are trained at Jervis Bay College, but when appointments of officers have to be made, the department sends abroad for them. That policy must stop.
– The honorable member is out of order. There is nothing in the division relating to officers.
– The trouble has arisen because the officers in charge of the department are not Australians.
– The honorable member will have an opportunity of discussing that matter later.
– I shall avail myself of that opportunity when it presents itself.
.- After the discussion that has taken place this morning, the committee is entitled to know what the Minister intends to do about the coal and other things that have been mentioned. The coal is being landed at Newcastle at a cost of £2 17s. per ton, and it has been stated that it is for war purposes. If it had been intended for war purposes it surely would have been placed, not at Newcastle, but at Sydney, at the Flinders Base, and other places where navy vessels are commissioned. The landing of the coal at Newcastle will necessitate double handling. That fact disproves the statement that the coal is required for war purposes. If it lies out in the open until we have another war, it will be then valueless. All grades of coal deteriorate when exposed to the weather. A man will have to be always on duty near the stack to prevent spontaneous combustion. The only way to preserve coal is to seal it hermetically under water. It is obvious that the coal is required not for war, but for some other purpose. Whether its importation is a threat to the coal miners I do not know. It will cost about £75,000 to land the 25,000 tons at Newcastle. To pick it up again, for there is no crane near, and load it on a boat will cost 4s. or 5s.per ton. It is ridiculous to con centrate coal for war purposes at one spot, and that the spot where it will not be required.
– It is “bringing coals to Newcastle.”
– It is worse than that. There are mines at Newcastle that produce coal, but they are not working full time. The Minister should put his foot down and deal with the situation at once. The action of the department is an insult to Parliament and the people of Australia. Warships from America, France, and Italy, and our own ships too, have used Newcastle coal. How the department persuaded the Minister to order this £75,000 worth of coal, and to agree to land it on the dyke at Newcastle, is incomprehensible to any man of common sense.
– What is the explanation for not using Newcastle coal for our fleet in war time?
-The reply that I received from the Minister was that a vessel using Welsh coal would have an extra speed of 1½ knots per hour.
– I think I said 3 knots an hour.
– The reply to my question was that the extra speed would be1½ knots an hour, but I doubt very much whether the difference in speed would be as much as that. I guarantee to supply a mixture of Australian coal that will enable a vesselto reach the same rate of speed as that obtainable by the use of Welsh coal. The Government favour the purchase of the Welsh coal because it is smokeless, and carries a little less ash ; but the Newcastle coal has a greater calorific value, and is less injurious to the bars of the furnace. During the war, one of the main features of a naval attack was the smoke screens, and torpedo boats were so constructed as to enable them either to shut off smoke altogether, or to produce it in dense volume. At Newcastle has been stored an enormous amount of coal at considerable expense, merely to satisfy the whims of the officials of the navy office. We are told that it will be needed for future wars, but this coal will be absolutely useless for a war, say, twenty years hence. The storage of Welsh coal at Newcastle entails the services of a watchman, and no doubt the expense is incurred of putting tubes through the stack at frequent intervals to test the temperature, and to detect any evidence of spontaneous combustion. The Minister should inform the House that the ridiculous practice of purchasing Welsh coal will be stopped.
– The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) has had so many explanations of why Welsh coal is purchased that I did not think he would require another. He has been told over and over again that the placing of orders for Welsh coal is not an innovation. For years we have kept a supply of that coal. The department formerly stocked Westport coal from New Zealand, and maintained a supply of it at Newcastle for emergency purposes. It was found that that coal did not give the required results. The department, therefore, had to revert to the storage of Welsh coal, which gives an extra speed of from 2 to 3 knots an hour, according to the type of vessel, and enables ships to readily maintain full speed.
– Was the deterioration of the coal taken into consideration when it was decided to import Welsh coal?
– Yes. The Welsh coal will not deteriorate to the same extent as Westport coal.
Mr.Parker Moloney. - Who is the authority for that statement?
– The naval experts.
– The honorable member should supply the committee with their names.
– The official opinion is that the Welsh coal will be unaffected under storage conditions for a number of years. The Westport stack of coal had to be used because it was not found to be satisfactory after three years’ storage. The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) must know that the Sydney was supplied with imported coal.
– There was always a small supply at the different stations. It was not all at Newcastle.
– The depot for this coal was placed at Newcastle because of the convenience of that situation. The collier always goes to Newcastle to pick up coal. It is better to have one central depot than to have small stacks scattered about Australia.
– Why not put the coal where the fleet is?
– That is impossible, because the ships are always moving from place to place. Newcastle is the central depot, and is easily accessible to the fleet. This stack is purely a war reserve. The honorable member for Newcastle suggested that it was not necessary to make such a reserve at present. While we have war vessels, we must maintain their efficiency, so that they may be ready to strike when the need arises. If war breaks out, we want Welsh coal on the spot, and an extra speed of 2 or 3 knots an hour to our vessels may make all the difference between losing and winning the battle.
– A stack of 25,000 tons of coal would not, during war time, last a month.
– It is a large reserve. Is the honorable member suggesting that the Government should order more of this coal ?
– I do not suggest anything of the sort.
– Has any comparison been made of a mixture of Australian coal with Welsh coal?
– Yes. We are now making tests of Queensland coal, which is very good. We are constantly looking for a better coal. The expenditure on Welsh coal will not be useless, as it is necessary that we should have reserves of first class coal.
– Will the Minister make a test of the different coals to determine relative deterioration?
– I shall do so, and let the honorable member know the result.
– If there is no war, we shall not grudge the expenditure on the coal.
– That is so. Personally, I hope that the stacks of coal will not be used for war purposes, but this coal must be available in case of emergency.
.- I protest against the action of the Navy Office in expending money to obtain coal and other materials overseas. The officers of that department would not even buy their meals in Australia if it were possible to obtain them elsewhere. To test thefeeling of the committee on this question and to save further discussion, I move -
That the proposed vote be reduced by £1.
. - I heartily commend the honorable member for BOURKE (Mr. Anstey) for his motion, as we shall now know where hon:orable members stand on the question of using for naval purposes articles manufactured in Australia rather than theses imported from overseas. It is deeds, and not words, that count. The Government is» deserving of the severest censure- for going outside Australia to secure, materials for the. use of the naval branch. If we cannot get the exact type of article required, surely an article made in Australia could be substituted, - since our manufacturers, workers, and capitalists axe taxed to support the Navy. The Minister explained why certain articles were purchased abroad. He said that jerseys, with a low-cut neck, were woven in one piece. Surely suitable jerseys of Australian manufacture could have been obtained. The Minister stated that the sand shoes complained of were used for gymnastic purposes. While we may not be able to manufacture sand shoes at a price comparable with that ruling in low-wage countries, yet a suitable sand shoe for the purpose can. be obtained here. There is not much difference in the kinds of sand shoes, as they are made only of canvas with a rubber sole attached. We manufacture tennis and other shoes. Surely we are not bound to purchase the class of shoe that the navy officers lay down as that to be used by our sailors. The Government’s slogan should be “Australian products only,” but to obtain supplies for. our own departments, it is proposed to send. 13,000 miles. This practice should be stopped. The Government should encourage. Australian, industries, no matter what the controllers of the Navy Office say. We were told when war commenced that Australia could not supply cloth for her troops,, but when our own clothing factory was firmly established the Australian troops were the best clothed in the world. How can Australia progress if the Government refuses to encourage our. own manufacturers? No doubt it will be said that the ordering from, abroad of goods that can be made here, though not exactly to the samples submitted, is largely actuated by thede.sire to keep our equipment uniform with that used by tho British navy. But a- great number of years may pass over our heads before our fleet will again operate with the British navy, and. surely in the interim we should encourage Australian manufactures by purchasing in Australia articles that are suitable for the requirements of- our Navy. Instead of the Minister taking a sample of sand shoe to the manager of. Perdriau’s, he should have obtained from him a number of samples of shoes suitable for gymnastic work, and chosen from them, one that’ would meet the Navy’s requirements. The Minister said that because of the increased cost he did not feel justified in insisting on these articles being made in Australia. But in the Australian navy higher rates are paid than in the British navy, and encouragement must be given to Australian manufacturers. I suggest that it discloses a hopeless attitude for the Minister to say that he could not obtain in Australia many of the articles appearing on the list supplied in response to a question by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin). Let us for a moment consider some of the items on that list. It includes gold braid’, cotton vests, and flannelette.
– We do not make’ flannelette in Australia.
– Flannel is made in Australia, yet there are thou-, sands of yards of flannel included in the list.
– Every inch of our flannel, as well as nine-tenths of the material required for. uniforms, is bought here. I am doing my best to encourage Australian industries. The items which the honorable member is criticising are all over 18 months old’.
– The list gives details of orders given by the Navy since 1st January, 1923.
– It is very likely that those orders are being filled now. I ask the Minister if the policy of ordering from overseas is being continued ?’
– No. We are obtaining our requirements here.
– What quantity is the Minister getting here?
– All that is required.
– Possibly nothing is required, at present, as supplies have been obtained, but, when further supplies are- necessary the same action will in all probability be taken again. Mr. Bowden. - It will not, as I have discontinued it.
– The Minister may be like a man who buys a suit of clothes made of imported material. Having bought it, he does not want another for a time, and may say that he is not getting his things from abroad; but when next he requires a suit, it also will be made of imported material. The Labour party protests against supplies, being obtained from overseas, and has directed attention to the fact that the men in the Australian navy are paid higher rates than those in the British navy, to compensate them for the higher standard of living in Australia. It is ridiculous to expect things to be cheaper in Australia than in Great Britain and other countries where they have not the same stringent conditions applying to manufacture. It is ridiculous to say that we in Australia can compete with other countries, so far as price is concerned ; bub for the Minister to make the higher price the reason for his refusal to buy ‘goods manufactured in the country is to break away from the policy of the people. This matter goes right to the root of our industrial troubles in Australia. In the woollen mills at Marrickville a few ‘days aero I saw a large quantity of machinery idle because there was not sufficient work to keep it going. Yet we are sending overseas for the articles which could b© produced there. Take the item of silk handkerchiefs, included in the list to which I have referred. The Minister says that they cannot be produced in Australia, yet silk stockings, which are more difficult to manufacture, are made here. Silk handkerchiefs could be made here, and the work should be given to the people who are taxed for the upkeep of the Australian Navy. I hope that this House will show its disapproval of the policy of the Navy Department by agreeing to the amendment of the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey).
– I support .the amendment of the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey). If carried, it will be an intimation to the Government that this committee is opposed to the policy of going overseas for naval stores which can be purchased in Australia. There is no excuse whatever for the importation of 27,250 pairs of socks, similar to those manufactured in Australia. Whatever the decision on this amendment, I hope that the Minister will see that the policy of importing such articles is not continued. The purchase of 1,796 coats is a disgrace. They also could have been made in Australia. The same is true of the 1,500 pairs of sand shoes obtained from abroad. -I was one of a deputation that waited on the Minister for ‘Trade and Customs recently, asking for further protection for the sand shoe industry. Manufacturers found that they could not carry on because of insufficient orders and the competition of the imported article. Yet the Government sent overseas for 1,500 pairs. This antiAustralian policy should be no longer tolerated by this Parliament. If honorable members will vote to show their disapproval of such a policy, that should bring about its discontinuance. A Parliament which is pledged to protection should by every means in its power encourage Australian industries. Government ‘departments, wherever possible, .should use materials of Australian manufacture.. Recently I inspected some worsted manufactured at the Returned Soldiers’ Geelong Woollen Mills. Those mills, in which many returned soldiers have shares, are not working full time to-day because of insufficient orders. Yet the Government goes abroad for socks and other articles which could be made there.
– Socks are not made there.
– They are manufactured in Australia by other mills.
– And the Government buys large quantities of Australian socks.
– Why not buy more of them ? Serge also should have . been purchased at the returned soldiers’ woollen mills. I am told that the Minister said no tests of Queensland coal had been made.
– Tests have been made, and the coal proved to be “very satisfactory.
– I am glad to have that admission. I was evidently misinformed. The tests of Styx River coal proved it to be of first-grade quality, and suitable for the navy.
– We are using it now.
– As the representative of the district from which that coal comes, I protest against the action of the Government in importing 25,000 tons of coal from Wales, to be stored at
Newcastle. Fancycarrying coals to Newcastle ! The Minister says that the Welsh coal is stored there in anticipation of war. But that war may never come. In Central Queensland we have some very fine coal, suitable for the navy. The Minister himself has admitted that tests of that coal have been made, and that it proved so satisfactory that it is in use to-day in the Australian Navy. There was no need to enter into this contract for 25,000 tons of Welsh coal, when we had coal equally good in Central Queensland, and, I believe, also in Newcastle. The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) mentioned Newcastle coal, with which he is familiar. I pointed out, in addition, that if the Government wants coal, it can obtain all that is required at Styx River, in Central Queensland. I am informed that : t is equal to the best Welsh coal.
– No, it is not.
– The price of Welsh coal is £2 17s. per ton landed at Newcastle. From 3s. to 4s. per ton more would have to be expended to put it on board the cruisers. Newcastlecoal can be obtained for £1 a ton, and the coal from Central Queensland is about the same price. At any rate, the price of Australian coal would be about half the price paid for the Welsh coal. I represent some coalmining areas, the men in which are on short time, because of insufficient markets. Men in the Ipswich, Bundamba, and Blair Athol areas are working only three or four days a week; yet the Government imports 25,000 tons of coal from Wales.
– It would be interesting to know whether any further supplies are on the water.
– I should like to have an assurance from the Minister that the policy of importing coal will be discontinued. That policy is probably due to some highly-paid official, who thinks that nothing is good unless it comes from England. We all have kindly feelings towards the Old Country, because we have sprung from British stock, but we on this side stand first for the building up of Australian industries, both primary and secondary. Our motto is “Australia first.” I therefore appeal to the Minister to give every encouragement to the Australian coal mines, woollen mills and other secondary industries, and to place. in Australia orders for the materials which can be manufactured here, but which, in the past, have been imported from England. A considerable number of Australian workmen could be kept continuously employed if the Government adopted a truly Australian attitude in regard to these matters.
Sitting suspended from 2 to 2.15 p.m. [Quorum formed.]
.- I heartily support the amendment of the Acting Leader of the Opposition. A most unworthy practice seems to have grown up in our public departments of purchasing as many as possible of their supplies from abroad and of neglecting to support Australian industries. This custom has developed to a pronounced degree in the Defence Department, particularly in the naval branch. Such a pernicious policy is entirely opposed to the best interests of Australia. The- Government should recognize that an obligation rests upon it to purchase Australian goods to supply the needs of its public departments. The adoption of any other policy is unjust to Australian industries. I was surprised to discover recently while engaged in an investigation of another matter that the personnel of the Australian Navy is composed, to a much larger degree than is commonly supposed, of men from overseas, who have been loaned to the Commonwealth, or have entered the service in the ordinary way. Not only are these men employed on the ships afloat, but many of them occupy responsible positions in the central administrative offices, and exert a considerable influence on the authorities. They always favour oversea in preference to Australian industries, and it is natural that they should desire their own country to secure as much of the Government’s trade as possible. But it is high tame that we did our duty and put Australia first. We have a wonderful country, with great possibilities, and we shall certainly be remiss in our duty if we fail to do all that we can to develop it. Many of the imported items mentioned in the debate this morning could have been procured in Australia. I was much impressed some time ago by the display in this building of some woollen goods that had been manufactured at Geelong. I warmly compliment those who have been responsible for organizing the Geelong woollen industry. The honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister) should be proud of his constituency. I also congratulate the returned soldiers who have made such a success of their venture in the manufacture of woollen goods.
– The Commonwealth Woollen Mills should have, been handed over to them.
– That would have been an excellent thing. Seeing that it is possible to produce such excellent woollen goods here, it is not only unfair, but ridiculous, for the Government to import such articles. I. shall not cease to use my voice and vote to effect a change of policy. If we are ever to become a selfreliant and self-contained nation, we must support and foster our local industries. In days gone by, goods branded “ Colonial made “ were . considered to be of inferior quality, but it is now recognized that the adoption of such an attitude towards Australian manufacturers is unjustifiable. The bulk of the goods required by the naval branch of the Defence Department, and, for that matter, of other public departments, are manufactured in Australia, and I say, without fear of contradiction, that in point of quality the Australian-made articles, generally speaking, compare more than favorably with the imported goods. In some instances, locallymanufactured goods are superior to imported goods. In these circumstances the Government should not hesitate to support our own industries, not only by the imposition of a tariff on imported goods, but also by using their products in our public departments.
– That is economic sanity.
– I agree with the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten). What, better example could the Government set for the people of Australia to follow than to support Australian industries, and, in fact, to give them a generous preference? I trust that the Minister for Defence will give us an assurance that, as far as possible, all the goods required for the Defence Department, and particularly for the naval branch, shall be purchased in Australia. The Government will be exhibit ing a national and patriotic spirit if it gives preference to Australian goods. The following lines express my sentiments exactly: -
We will speak and act in terms sincere, Remembering it is always our duty, elsewhere and here, Australia first, and first again, Her ideals and ambitions to attain.
Question - That the amount to be reduced be so reduced (Mr. ANSTEY’S amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- Having no desire to delay the committee, I was prepared to allow this vote to pass without a division. I knew that whether the question related to coal or local manufactures, the numbers of the Opposition were too small to enable us to do anything effective against the Government. But because the’ members of the Opposition remained silent Government supporters thought they had an opportunity of showing their patriotism. Accordingly, the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister) rose to protest against the importation of certain stores for the Navy. He was very solicitous, not only for the Geelong woollen mills in his own constituency, but also for the mills in my constituency. I was quite aware that the Lincoln woollen mills were not working full time, and that a number of men and women in my district were out of work because the Government, instead of placing orders with the local mills, were spending public moneys overseas, but I realized that any protest I could make would be ineffective. But the honorable member for Corio thought that as the members of the Opposition remained silent he could hold forth without danger to the Government. “We then gave him an opportunity to show his sincerity by voting in favour of an amendment, which, if carried, would have been a direction to the Government to use locally-manufactured .goods, but the honorable member voted in opposition to the sentiments he ,’had expressed. When honorable members sitting behind the Government attempt to get a little cheap kudos by criticizing actions of the Ministry, we shall put them to the acid test by compelling them to vote for or against the sentiments they express.
– I am sorry to have excited the ire of the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey), but my remarks this morning were Bincere.
– Sincere! The honorable member is a darned fraud.
– I desire that that remark be withdrawn.
– I ask the Acting Leader of the Opposition to withdraw the remark to which objection has been taken.
– I shall do nothing of the kind.
– I must insist on the honorable member withdrawing the remark.
– I shall not do it.
– I rely upon the honorable member to assist me in maintaining order.
– Very well, I withdraw that remark, but I shall say it again if the honorable member offers any more explanations. .
– The Acting Leader of the Opposition knows perfectly well that the amendment which he proposed after I had spoken was tantamount to a motion of want of confidence in the Government.
– Nothing of the kind.
– If the amendment had been carried the Government would have had no alternative but to resign.
– Rubbish !
.- There is an amount of £15,263 set down for the construction of drill halls, barracks, &o Will the Minister for Defence tell me whether this item includes an amount for improved drainage facilities at Keswick barracks? When the barracks were constructed years ago insufficient drainage facilities were provided. I and other honorable members have frequently brought this matter under the notice of the Minister. After a heavy fall of rain the drains are not able to carry off the water, which is banked up, and floods neighbouring streets, in one of which are a number of soldiers’ homes:
– This item includes an amount of £3,500 for Keswick barracks.
– The Minister might give some details of the proposed vote.
– The proposed vote of £15,000 covers only revotes of amounts passed for works commenced last year. It covers heating apparatus and ventilation at the Leichhardt ordnance stores, alterations and additions to the guard-room, St. George’s Heights, improvements at the ranges and extensions of telephone cables at the Liverpool and Anzac ranges. There are no very big items of expenditure included. There is an amount of £1,120 for the alteration to vehicle sheds at the Liverpool mobilization stores. Alterations are necessary also at Fort Scratchley, Middle Head, and St. George’s Heights.
.- The vote proposed amounts to £15,000. Last year for the same purposes there appeared on the Estimates a vote of £58,000, but all that was spent of it was £11,000. The Government talks of defence, and puts huge sums of money on the Estimates, and then does not spend the money. General Chauvel issued a report the other day in which he said that in some of the states there are no mobilization stores, and they are needed in all of the states. He pointed out that we are not in a position to equip an army corps for a single day, yet all that the Government propose in connexion with this vote is £15,000. Still, they sing “Rule Britannia” and insist that they want to defend the country. They do not make the slightest effort to do so. According to General Chauvel, we require an ordnance store, but it is non-existent. We want ordnance workshops, and we have not got them. He points out that we require military equipment, and what is asked for has to be provided by private individuals. He says that all this work could be done more efficiently and more economically in departmental workshops. We have naval and military material that is deteriorating and rotting, and the Government takes credit to itself for saving money. It puts £250,000 on the Estimates, says that it. is trying to defend the country, spends nothing, and then takes credit for a large surplus of revenue at the close of the financial year, and boasts that it is economical. If we remain silent and let these votes go without discussion, the supporters of the Government take advantage of what they consider an opportunity and get up and “ spruik “ for an hour or two. In the circumstances, honorable members on this side may as well make their contributions to the debate. Only in November of last year the honorable gentleman who occupies the position of Minister for Defence in this country emphasized the fact that Australia is not prepared to meet an emergency. Why do. we not prepare to meet it? Why does not the Government propose the expenditure of a few millions ‘ on defence? Surely it does not suggest that Australia is afraid of preparing to meet an enemy when we know’ that all around us are armed foes who are trying to invade this country and take possession of our property ? The Minister said that, regarding munitions, the position is serious. Well, why does he not do something to improve the position? The sum of £15,000 is proposed in the vote under discussion, but how much of it will be spent? Nearly £60,000 was voted last year, but only £11,000 of it was spent. The Government will not spend what is voted this year, but will have a surplus to show at the end of the year. The Minister said that the present position of military units is serious so far as munitions are concerned. But what is the Government doing ? It is doing nothing. It is merely saying how greatly it desires to defend the country. The Minister went over bo Tasmania, where he said that the coast defences of Australia are in a deplorable condition, and the loss of efficiency in the navy is staggering. It is getting worse the longer the Minister lives. The honorable gentleman had a conversation with the representative of the Morning Sun in which he said that the present condition of our defence is appalling. Why does he not remedy it? He is in power as Minister, there is an overflowing Treasury, and the Government is surrounded by followers who are anxious to defend Australia. Why does not the Minister cheer up and do something for Australia? The honorable gentleman said, “When I come to realize the appalling condition of our defence.” Has the honorable gentleman yet realized them? All that he. does is a little flagwaving; he stops there. He said that the greatest problem is the supply of * arms and munitions, and that it is of no use that we have seven or eight submarines when those in charge of naval defence say that they are obsolete and cannot be used. What we need to do with submarines if they are obsolete, and we desire to economize, is to scrap them, but what is the Government doing ? It keeps them floating around in our harbours in command of a few officers in gold braid and imported shirts. In another place, Senator Drake-Brockman said, “ At the moment we could not equip one division, let alone five.” Why does not’ the Government do something in the interests of the country? The Nationalist party wants defence regardless of expense, and the Country . party wants defence at no expense, and the only way in which the Government can meet the situation is by compromising, pubting money on the Estimates, and then not spending it. Senator Drake-Brockman further said that if we desired to put a division into the field in Australia to-day, we could not find sufficient equipment for it. Sir John Monash has said the same thing. That is the position in which .the Government leaves the bleeding’ country while Ministers, on some town hall platform, after a big feed, sing “ Rule Britannia.” Senator’ Drake-Brockman also said that if we were called upon we would have no army and no equipment for one. He said that at the present time we could not find more than 50,000 men available to take the field, and in any case we could not equip them with the munitions of war. “We cannot get the men; we have no clothes for them ; we have no mobilization stores ; we have not sufficient munitions; and yet the Government puts votes on the Estimates and leaves it at that. Senator Drake-Brockman further said that if we were called upon to defend ourselves, we have not enough munitions or war equipment to maintain an army for 24 hours. What the Government proposes is a scheme to extend over five or ten years. It puts £1,000,000 on the Estimates to cover the cost, and spends £200,000 the first year, perhaps £200,000 the next year, and at the end of five years, if we live, we shall have an effective force. As a matter of fact, the Government has not spent the money which has been voted. General Chauvel says that money for certain purposes was voted two years ago, but none of it has been spent. Another statement made was that £85,000 was voted for a particular work, and only £15,000 was spent. Any one who gives consideration to the matter must be convinced that the Government does not regard Australia as in danger of attack. If members of the Government honestly believe that there is any risk of the invasion of Australia, they must be absolute traitors to the country in leaving it defenceless. General Monash . says that the air force is an important arm of defence, but that we have no bombs and not sufficient munitions of war to last 24 hours. The Government has left us in a position in which we are unable to defend the country, while it claims to be anxious to defend it. The very generals who have been appointed to positions in which we can look up to them, challenge the action of the Government, and assert that our position in the matter of defence is an absolute disgrace. General Monash says that the position in Australia to-day is not as favorable, from the point of view of defence, as it was in 1914. It is not so good as it was two years ago. All the military and naval testimony is to the effect that everything in connexion with our military and naval defence is deteriorating and rotting. All that the Government does is to spend money on the spectacular. We have a number of naval and military officers strutting around, but we have no men for them to command, and no equipment for the men if we had them. The Government spends thousands of pounds on schools of instruction. We have an army of instructors at Duntroon College, but no pupils. The position at Jervis Bay is much the. same. Our submarines are obsolete, and our other war vessels cannot go to sea, but we have a Naval Board, the members of which strut around in gold lace. They cost us thousands of pounds, and we supply them with an army of batmen and flunkies. That is all we have to represent a navy. Last year £60,000 was voted on the Estimates, and not one-sixth of the amount was spent. I understand that one can speak twice in committee. It is a pity that we cannot each speak four times in order to help the Government get through with its business. Certainly it is useless for honorable members on this side to remain silent with a desire to assist the Government if, when we do so, the supporters of the Government, thinking they are off the chain, get ‘up and make long speeches. If they do so, we will also make our contributions to the debate, and the discussion of this vote of £15,000 can continue for another week, or until the Government introduces the guillotine.
.– A vote of £7,129 is proposed for air services. This is a very important item. The Minister has stressed the importance of the air force as an arm of defence. Honorable members on this side have urged the Government to go. in for air defence and the building of aeroplanes that in time of peace can be used to carry mails and passengers in the out-back portions of Australia. The honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister) supported air defence, and I shall give him an opportunity to vote with honorable members on this side in favour of the manufacture of aeroplanes in this country. I move -
That item No. 1, division 5 - Provision of aircraft equipment, including spare’ parts, machinery, tools, ordnance and engineer supplies, and ammunition, £7,129- be reduced by £1.
I do this as an instruction to the Government to have all aeroplanes built in Australia. I submit this amendment in the full knowledge that aeroplanes can be constructed here. A very enterprising firm in the electorate of the honorable member for Corio has spent a huge sum of money in installing an up-to-date plant.
– Has the honorable member any idea of how much the firm has spent ?
– Yes. I have a letter here from Pratt Brothers, the firm to which I refer. I was interested in the manufacture of aeroplanes in Australia, because imported aeroplanes do not prove satisfactory in our climate. In the backblocks of Queensland, and in- Western Australia, they fall to pieces in time owing to the excessive heat.
– That is not so. The honorable member has no right to say that.
– I know that it is so. I am assured by skilled flying-men that there is too much glue used in sticking the parts of imported machines together, and that owing to the excessive heat in western Queensland they fall to pieces. This is what the Aircraft Manufacturing and Supply Company of Australia, Geelong, wrote to me in reply to my request for particulars of their undertaking: -
The main classes of aircraft work to be undertaken by us are -
First: Recondition present Air Force aircraft (am asking for a minimum contract of 24 machines, at the rate of twelve per year ) .
Second: Build new types for both military and civil aviation.
Third: Experiment and build small, light aeroplanes to stimulate public interest “in aviation, with the possible result that many young men may make use of same (thereby building up a reserve of sport pilots, a valuable asset to Australia) .
With regard to the capacity of the factory, the machinery that is being installed will more than cope with the immediate anticipated demand, and, to increase the output at any time, only additional buildings and personnel will be required.
It is my intention to add further buildings and train further skilled workers as the demand for aircraft work increases.
Knowing the importance of aircraft with regard to the defence of Australia, we have taken it upon ourselves to set up the above aircraft industry at our own expense, trusting to receive the support of the Government of Australia in this vital matter.
In addition to the aircraft industry, we intend to .establish, in the near future, a flying school to embrace all branches of civil aviation.
One of the Pratt brothers is a distinguished aviator, and he knows what he is talking about. Those honorable members who believe that aeroplanes’ should bo manufactured in Australia must support my amendment, because it will give a direct instruction to the Government of the feeling of this committee. A flying machine called the Widgeon is being constructed at the experimental station at Randwick. T understand that it is a flying boat, and will serve a dual purpose, and that it is being made amphibious. It is designed to suit our climate, and a great deal of metal is being used in it instead of wooden parts glued together, and “doped” canvas. I have met men in Queensland who told me that Australia could make better machines than those that are imported. The making of aeroplanes is a comparatively simple matter.
– They have been making them at Point Cook for a long time.
– The honorable member should support my amendment. Why should the Government be permitted to import machines that can be built in Australia? Any competent cabinetmaker or carpenter could in a short time be trained to be expert in the manufacture of aeroplanes. The Pratt brothers have shown great enterprise and initiative in establishing their business. In Queensland we have some of the finest timbers in the world, and they could be used for the manufacture of aeroplanes. I appeal to the Minister not to brush the matter lightly aside. Of what use is it to talk of the importance of air defence unless we establish factories in this country for making aeroplanes? When . enterprising men put their money into a big factory like that run by the Aircraft Manufacturing and Supply Company, the Government should give some assistance to them. I ask the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister) to support my amendment. If we purchase and manufacture aeroplanes on the scale that we should, we shall be able to keep the factory at Geelong and many other factories fully employed. While a sum of £2,000,000 is provided for the Navy, only £7,000 is provided for aeroplanes.
– The figures I quote are official. If the Government would build up an air service and use it in times of peace for carrying passengers and mails to the out-back places that are supposed to be represented by honorable members of the Country party, it would . be rendering a service to Australia. Nothing is achieved by the Minister talking at public functions about the inadequacy of our defence scheme. It iB necessary that we should do something to supply its deficiencies. I appeal to honorable members to take up this big national question and to lay the foundation for the air defence of Australia by aeroplanes manufactured in Australia.
.- I support the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde). I wish, to bring under the notice of the committee the following paragraph from the Public Accounts Committee’s report on the expenditure upon air ‘services : -
With the. rapid development of aviation it is quite within the realms of possibility that the Air Force may ‘become Australia’s first line of defence. It is essential, therefore, that .in this regard Australia should be prepared and, as far as possible, become self-contained. Serious consideration was, in consequence, given by the committee to the question of the manufacture in the Commonwealth of aeroplanes.
The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) referred to “dope.” At one time we imported that article for covering the wings of aeroplanes, but it is now being made at the cordite factory in my electorate. It was said that we could not make it here - an argument that has been used against every proposal for the development of Australian manufactures. I say, without fear of successful contradiction, that the Government is one of the biggest enemies of local production that we have ever had in Australia. It squanders money abroad while Australians are walking the streets unemployed. The Public Accounts Committee found, in the course of its investigations, that some of the aerial mail contractors were so weak financially that progress had been retarded. On that point the following paragraph from the report submitted by a minority of the committee is interesting : -
We are of opinion that, as the Commonwealth Government maintains at considerable expense a civil aviation department, surveys all mail routes, purchases or leases landing grounds, and pays large subsidies to contractors, aerial services should be carried out by the Government and . the contractor eliminated. Private capital available for the extension of civil aviation is very limited, and if aerial mail services are to be increased from point to point in Australia, especially to remote parte at present poorly served, it is essential that vigorous Government action should be taken. The initiation and extension of these services ‘have already been seriously delayed owing to reliance being placed on private capitalists. In the two contracts now running, the Government subsidy provides practically the whole of the income. In fact, in one contract the subsidy alone shows, according to evidence, £5,000 .per annum over expenditure when the maximum distances are covered.
The Government is subsidizing mail contractors who originally had very little capital, and is paying one firm so much that after meeting all expenses it had £5,000 to. distribute in dividends to its shareholders. This is the class of finance approved of by the Government, because, as Ministers would say, “ We must keep our hands off private enterprise.” I do not allege that the mail contractors are not rendering good service “to Australia. They are delivering mails weekly, bi-weekly, and tri-weekly at places where formerly there were only monthly services. Sick persons have been carried to hospital to receive surgical aid, and in that way many fives have been saved. Efficient air services in a continent like Australia are very useful, but it is necessary that they should be con-, trolled by the Government. Why should we hand out to contractors large sums of public money for distribution as profits to their shareholders when we have a big station like that at Point Cook, and factories established by private individuals, where aeroplanes could be manufactured ) The authorities in Canada are doing a lot of useful survey work by aeroplane, and are accomplishing in a day what formerly took years. The aeroplane in Australia is of valuable assistance to development.. Men are trained at Point Cook to enter private employment, and carry mails for the mail contractors.
– And the ‘ Government even provides refresher courses.
– It is a shameful waste of public money. Why should this Parliament, because a majority of honorable members is of a certain mind, hand out public money to private enterprise ? It is becoming a scandal. The mail service between Adelaide and Sydney was long delayed because the contractors had not sufficient capital. Aerial mail services between point and point in Queensland, between Sydney and Adelaide, and between Perth and the north-west of Australia are not sufficient. If the Government would take the matter in hand, many lives could be saved, and mails conveyed more cheaply, and, in addition, an air force could be developed that in time of needcould defend Australia. Part of the training of an airman at Point Cook consists in familiarizing him with the air routes of Australia. In what better way could that be done than by developing aerial mail services and employing these men for that work?
I have previously spoken of the 100 aeroplanes stored at Spotswood. What does the Minister intend to do with them ? Some Leyland lorries are also there. Are they going to be allowed to deteriorate? Why should we not make use of the aeroplanes for carrying mails and bringing the. benefits of civilization to the outback parts of Australia? Any proposal bythe Government to manufacture aeroplanes in Australia will have my whole-hearted support. The committee which deliberated on this matter arrived at the unanimous conclusion that the time had arrived for establishing oh a firm basis the manufacture of aeroplanes in Australia, since they would be of very great service to the community in times of both peace and war.
.- The attitude of the Government supporters on the motion moved by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) is so unexpected and unwarranted that I can hardly realize that I am sitting in an Australian Parliament. Every attempt to establish the aeroplane, or any other industry in. Australia, is opposed by Government supporters. When the honorable member for Capricornia criticized foreign-made articles, he was greeted with a howl of protest. Honorable members opposite resented the statement that imported aeroplanes were likely to fall to pieces because of the climatic conditions here. Although one is permitted to decry goods of Australian manufacture, yet he dare not attempt to criticize imported articles. Rather than encourage Australian industry, it is preferred to purchase goods from Britain, China, Egypt, or anywhere else but here.. According to. the Government, foreign goods must be superior to those made in Australia. If I held that opinion, I would leave Australia, and live in the country where I considered articles could be best manufactured. It would be a good thing if some of the honorable mem bers that favour imported articles were to leave Australia. All our aeroplanes should be made here. If our efforts to defend Australia are to be effective, we must establish this industry. Most naval and military authorities agree that aircraft provide the first line of defence, and they are one of the essentials to the defence of Australia. That being so, are we to allow our defence to depend upon machines made abroad ? If war broke out, it would be necessary to construct hundreds of aeroplanes in the shortest time possible. Now is the time to establish the industry. I believe it has been established in a small way, but it needs the encouragement and assistance, not only of the Government, but also of the Australian people. This Ministry should give a lead in that direction. Without facilities for constructing aeroplanes, Australia’s position, in the event of enemy attack, would be hopeless. As pointed out by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton), aeroplanes could be used not only for defence purposes, but also for the carriage of mails, and for the development of the out-back portions of Australia. The Government claims that it is preparing to defend Australia, but the expenditure of a few thousand pounds on air services will do nothing to facilitate the manufacture of aeroplanes in this country. It is proposed to expend about £5,000,000 upon two cruisers which, when completed, will be no more effective to defend Australia in timeof war than an armed rowing boat. By voting for the amendment, honorable members will show definitely that they are prepared to encourage the manufacture in Australia of aeroplanes to be used for both defence and mail purposes. If aeroplanes are essential in time of war, it is our duty to manufacture them here. This can be done for a sum less than one-tenth of that proposed to be expended upon the construction of two cruisers. The vote on the amendment will give the committee another opportunity to see where honorable members opposite stand concerning Australia’s development and defence.
.- I have pleasure in supporting the amendment moved by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde). He has fully established the fact that we. have in Victoria a factory capable of constructing aeroplanes.-
– They can alao be made in Sydney.
– There are few difficulties in the way of aircraft construction. Australia had no difficulty in building warships, with all their intricacies, assembling and constructing submarines, and supplying various other defence requirements. Surely we can afford to establish aeroplane factories, and at the same time encourage those already established. The attitude of the Government on this question is on a par with its general policy. It is prepared to allow industries that are essential to our economic and defensive security to languish for want of assistance. The proposed expenditure on aircraft development for the ensuing year is less than the estimate for last year. The Government puts before this Parliament various defence proposals, yet when the Estimates come down we find that inadequate provision is made for the development of an essential arm of defence. Surely the title of “Minister for Pretence “ aptly fits the Minister for Defence.
– Many persons confuse impertinence with wit.
– I am sorry that the Minister considers my remarks impertinent. I have no wish to be personal, or in any way to hurt his feelings. I merely referred to thepolitical attitude of himself and his party. I claim that it is not impertinent to direct attention to the policy of a Government which is largely pretentious. In a debate which took place in this House recently, several honorable members supporting the Government agreed with the sentiment contained in the amendment now moved by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde). The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. J. Francis) recently said, “ I agree that it is particularly desirable that this great continent should be self-contained respecting the manufacture of munitions and instruments of war.” I hope the honorable member will give practical support to that declaration by supporting the amendment.
– I shall not be misled by the honorable member.
– Evidently the honorable member, when he madethat statement, was misleading this Parliament, and. he new seeks to cloud the issue by accusing me of misleading him.
– I am sincere, and the honorable member is not.
– The people of Australia will judge that at the next election. There is only one construction to be put on an utterance of that description. The honorable member declared himself to be in favour of a continent self-contained respecting the manufacture of munitions and instruments of war. He now says that I am attempting to mislead the committee by quoting what he said. To be consistent he should support the amendment. I direct attention once again to the inconsistency of the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister), who makes a certain statement, and immediately turns round and votes against the principle involved.
– The honorable member must be very innocent.
– It is not a question of innocence. Having frequently listened to the honorable member, I am becoming accustomed to the crack of the party whip that forces him to vote against his own expressed convictions.
– That is absolutely untrue. I was never spoken to regarding the recent vote I gave.
– I am prepared to accept the explanation of the honorable member. At the same time, one can draw his own inference from the attitude adopted by him. The honorable member will probably deliver another of the speeches to which he has treated us recently, and then vote in the opposite way. He reminds me of a character in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress - Mr. Facing Both Ways. I hope that the amendment of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) will be carried.
.- As a member of the committee which inquired into the question of the provision of air services in Australia, I soon came to the conclusion thata wrong spirit existed in the Defence Department. We have men there both capable and willing, but their opportunities are restricted, and the result is that no progress is made. We have been told that aeroplane engines must be imported, as they cannot be manufactured in Australia. I do not know who is responsible for that statement, but the person who made it had no knowledge of Australia. Messrs. Vickers Limited sent two machines here, but it was found that they would not leave the ground. I mention that to show the indifference which exists in connexion with our flying force. That same indifference is exhibited toward our aerial mail services, both in Western Australia and in Queensland. I do not know how those services can be carried on in the future without a subsidy. The officers of the department who appeared before the committee did not seem to be determined to make a success of flying machines. Whether that was due to the poor results already obtained, to a lack of earnestness, or to nervousness, I do not know; but the determination to succeed, without which an efficient air force cannot be maintained, was conspicuous by its absence. The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) pointed out that we have in Melbourne a number of air machines which are totally unprotected. Rather than allow them to deteriorate through lack of care, it would be better to allow some one to use them. A number of motor lorries were also obtained from Great Britain. Some of them have been taken over by the Postal Department, and the committee recommended that other departments should also make use of them. Paradoxical though it may seem, articles of that kind are preserved by use. I do not know who is responsible for the callous indifference in connexion with the aeroplanes and motor lorries referred to, or for the . lack of encouragement to the men in the air service, but that indifference exists. Although Point Cook is not a suitable air force base for the whole of Australia, it is a very fine training ground. The committee recommended that the men carrying aerial mails should be allowed to remain in the service after attaining the age of 45 years, which is the present, limit. Although they may not be suitable for employment as pilots, their services could b© utilized in other directions. If we adopt a proper mail service, it will be necessary to fly at night, and the landing places will require to be properly lighted. The committee was astonished to find that, although £87,000 had been placed on the Estimates for certain works, and approved by Parliament, only £15,000 had been expended at the end of the year. We found, also, that the Works and Railways Department was not able to carry on its operations because of some hitch in connexion with the plans and specifications. One department blamed the other. The committee was able to settle the misunderstanding that existed, and so pave the way for more efficient working in the future. Members on this side have always been in favour of an air service being provided. I advocated that in this chamber, five or six years ago. The scheme is a practicable one, which accounts for the support given to ii by the members of this party Sir John Monash, who has a reputation to uphold, and is therefore not likely to make illconsidered statements, said that our air force was a sham. That statement alone is sufficient to justify some action being taken. The machines received from England are not suitable for Australia because of the different climatic conditions existing here. That is the reason for the failure of the Vickers machines to rise from the ground in Australia. If we are to have an efficient air service in Australia, we should manufacture the machines here.
.- This matter is of considerable importance to Australia. Members on this side contend that the construction of aeroplanes in Australia should command the serious attention of the Government. In other countries the- governments are instituting aerial services, both for the conveyance of mails and passengers, and for defence purposes. No country lends itself so readily to aerial services as does Australia. I am optimistic enough to believe that within ten or fifteen years the greater portion of the passenger and mail traffic of Australia will be carried by aeroplane. There will be regular aerial services from Melbourne to as far north as Rockhampton, and westerly to Perth. Those honorable members who have read that beautiful little book of Mrs. Gunn, We of the Never Never, will realize the great handicap the people in the outback country have suffered because of their isolation. Then, quite unexpectedly, the development of aerial mail “services occurred, and it is now within the bounds of possibility that within a few years the inhabitants of the interior of Australia may have a mail service every few days. Mrs. Gunn wrote about the wonderful little mailman who was always so regular in his work, the Fizzer. He was afterwards drowned in the Victoria River. She said that they would bid him good-bye in the morning, and he would leave the homestead with his pack-horses - some of them unbroken, but, nevertheless, packed - and they would probably see him again in a month, or perhaps two months. It might be three months in flood time, but he returned as surely as the swallow returned in the spring-.. The residents of the interior were content with such services for many years, and now that it is possible to provide them with better facilities, we should take the necessary steps to do so. We could provide for both passenger and mail services with aeroplanes. In all the circumstances, the welfare of the isolated people in the Never Never should be the Government’s constant care. Even if the adoption of ‘ the amendment necessitated the expenditure of another £250,000, the Government should not hesitate. I. can see no reason why our defence aeroplanes should not be used in peace time for civil purposes, especially as they could provide both mail and passenger facilities for people who otherwise could not have them. I trust that even yet the Government may reconsider its decision and place a considerably larger sum on the Estimates to provide aeroplane services for the outback country. In my opinion, a great aviation industry could be developed in Australia. Why should we not have our own factories and build our own aircraft with our own raw material, for it is the finest in the world for the purpose. We are already training aviators at Point Cook, and it has been stated in this debate that immediately they obtain their certificates they are °iven employment by private- aeroplane, companies which provide the aerial1 mail services in Queensland and Western Australia. The Government should tender for the supply of these aerial mail services, and also provide passenger services with their machines. I am confident that within a short time an aerial service will be established between Sydney and. Darwin, through Thargomindah ; and between Darwin and Adelaide, through Oodnadatta. The first would serve the people in the far interior of Queensland, and the second the people in the heart of Australia. Until comparatively recently these people have ‘ been entirely cut off from the centres “of population. It is only within comparatively recent years* that the railway line was extended to Windorah. In the old days of the.- mail- coaches, the service was subject to interruption by floods- and fire, but the aeroplanes are removed from the danger of both these elements, and even storms axe not able seriously to interrupt their service. Because of the great benefit that would accrue to residents in the interior, I confidently appeal to the Government to take every possible step to extend the services. Australia should set an example to the outside world. Our own people should build our aeroplanes with our own raw material, and our own men should pilot them. The amendment has been moved with the best of intentions for the community, and I believe that we shall be maintaining our reputation as a progressive nation by embarking upon a comprehensive policy of aerial development. By so doing the Government will add to the happiness and contentment of our people, and will also contribute to the self-containment of the nation. Everything that is required for the development of the industry is available in Australia.
. - I strongly support the amendment, and t regret that the Government has adopted an unpatriotic attitude in regard to it. I can see no satisfactory reason why our military planes should not be used for civil aviation purposes ‘in peace time. There is nothing incompatible with the training of squadrons for defence and the using of them for ‘ civil purposes. The practical experience that the men would gain in peace tune would be invaluable to them if they should ever be called upon to engage in active military operations. I sincerely trust that that time will never come. I- understand that many of the 130 planes, which the British Government presented to the Commonwealth h,ave In.ever been unpacked, and are seriously deteriorating. It would be nothing less than cold-blooded and callous murder for the Government to ask aviators to man. those machines to defend the country from an attack by a foreign foe, for they are already obsolete for military requirements, although quite good enough for the carrying of mails and passengers under peace conditions. We should not waste public money in subsidizing private aeroplane companies to provide aerial mail- and passenger services for the people in our vast interior while we have these machines lying idle. Last year an amount of £179,410 was voted towards the cost of the construction of buildings, hangars, workshops, barracks, and earthworks, and the preparation of aerial routes and landing grounds, and though it was estimated that £99,710 of that amount would remain unexpended at the close of the year, I complain that a further £39,000 was not expended. If the Government is sincere in its desire to develop aeroplane services it should take all possible steps to spend the money voted to provide the necessary facilities.
– The amount voted last year for expenditure on additions, new works, buildings, &o., was £681,521, and the amount actually expended . was £620,660.
– Notwithstanding the Prime Minister’s interjection respecting the amount of money spent, I must remind him that the first act of the recently-formed Victorian Labour Government was to provide beds for hundreds of workless and homeless returned soldiers and others in this city. The Prime Minister may receive my remarks with a sardonic and sarcastic smile, for I suppose that he has never known what it is to want for anything. He has al.ways had a decent home and everything that he has required. But he is one of the fortunate few. An obligation rests upon the Government, especially when there is unemployment in the community, as there is now in this and every other state of the Commonwealth, to spend all the money that Parliament votes for public works in order that the hardships of our poorer classes may be alleviated. Although these sums of money have been voted, no attempt has been made by the Government to provide employment by the expenditure of the money. The unemployed in all states have held demonstrations, and they have been told that the Government has no money with which to provide work for them.
– The total defence vote last year was £3,425,000, and I spent £3,514,000, the excess having been obtained from the Treasurer’s Advance.
– Our complaint is that, even although the vote was spent, a good deal of it was spent outside Australia. When Parliament votes money under certain headings, the Government should see that it is expended  under the headings provided. -In the last twelve months the Navy Department imported over £58,000 worth of material, and thereby robbed Australian workmen of a good deal of employment. The amendment should be agreed to, in order to show the people that we are sincerely trying to provide all possible employment for Australians with the money which Parliament votes.
Question - That the vote be reduced by £1 (Mr. FORDE’S amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Remaining votes - Trade and Customs Department, £5,970; Department of Health, £66,487- agreed to.
That there be granted to His Majesty, to the service of the year 1924-25, for the purposes of additions, new works, ‘buildings, &c., a sum not exceeding £403,789.
The following paper was presented : -
Meat Export Bounties Act. - Return of Subsidies paid on Frozen Beef, Canned Beef, and Live Cattle exported from the Commonwealth.
Tropical Laboratory, Broome - Search for Survivors of “ Douglas Mawson “ - Condition of Hobart Customs House.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I would not delay the House on the motion for the adjournment were it not for the. fact that a distinct breach of faith with my electorate has been committed by the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page). On the 7th March, in reply to representations I made concerning the establishment of a tropical laboratory at Broome, I received the following reply from the Director-General of Health -
In reply toyour letter of 20th February with regard to the establishment of a laboratory at Broome, the necessity for a small laboratory of this kind at Broome is recognized, and it will receive consideration in connexion with the preparation of the Estimates for the coming year.
I have received no further information on the matter which would indicate that there was any intention on the part of the Government not to make the provision promised. As the establishment, of a laboratory at Broome is not provided for on the Estimates, I, to-day, asked the Treasurer the following questions: -
To these questions the Treasurer replied -
I suppose that this was considered rather a humorous way in which to reply to a charge of breach of faith. In Queensland there are no fewer than three tropical laboratories, but there is none in Western Australia. Broome is within three days of Java, where there are 40,000,000 of coloured people. In the district surrounding Broome there are persons suffering from leprosy and from a venereal disease peculiar to tropical districts, and there has also been found some proof of the existence of the hook worm. After the distinct promise made to me by the Director-General of Health I notified my constituents that the establishment of a laboratory at Broome was under way. I am now informed that it is not intended to proceed with it. I have no quarrel with a man because he differs from me politically, but I say that between one another the least we can expect is honest dealing. I approached the Treasurer on the subject, and I regret to say that all I could get out of him was, “ Oh, well, we are cutting all that out now.” I know that the honorable gentleman is a busy man, but he has not given me the explanation which he should have given. Whenan honorable member is given a definite promise, and the Government decides subsequently, without any notification to the honorable member concerned, that the promise is not to be kept, that is not fair to him or to his constituents.
– The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) this morning asked some questions with respect to the relief party to leave Darwin in search of the survivors of the Douglas Mawson. I have since received some information which had not then come to hand, which I should like to give to the House.
Advice has been received from the Administrator of the Northern Territory that the departure of the auxiliary schooner Huddersfield., for the purpose of searching for the survivors of the Douglas Mawson, is being seriously delayed on account of there not being a certificated mate available in Darwin for the vessel. This position has arisen through the master, Captain Lawson, refusing to take command, necessitating the appointment of the mate, who holds a master’s certificate, as master. No other certificated mate is available, and the Administrator has requested permission for the vessel to be allowed to proceed on her voyage without a certificated mate, on the understanding that a competent able seaman, who knows the coast well, acts in that position.
I believe that this particular seaman has already acted as navigator of a small auxiliary vessel from Darwin to Singapore and return, a voyage of 8,000 miles, and that he is well acquainted with the coast in the Northern Territory.
The shipping master at Darwin has verified the facts regarding the seaman referred to. Inaddition to the urgency of the matter, it is pointed out that the Administration is being put to considerable expense in fitting up the vessel, loading supplies, and a number of special constables have been sworn in. with pay as from the 31st July.
The position seems to be that owing to the captain of the ship deciding not to take part in the search, the mate who holds a master’s certificate was appointed captain. That left the boat without a mate, and under the Navigation Act a vessel going to sea must be in charge of a captain with a master’s certificate and a mate. Unless this condition is complied with, there is a breach of the law, and, should the vessel be lost, the owners would be unable to obtain their insurance.We placed the position before the Minister for Trade and Customs, and I am glad to be able to inform tho House that, as the matter is considered of the greatest urgency, the Minister has given his consent to this boat leaving at once. It is hoped that she will leave Darwin to-morrow.
.- I had intended to raise questions affecting both the Trade and Customs and Post Office departments, but at this hour I shall defer them. I wish, however, to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether it is not possible immediately to pub in hand certain very necessary work at the Hobart Customs House. It is a very large building, and cost a great deal to construct. I am given to understand that since it was built practically nothing has been done in the way of painting and renovating it. One has only to go through the building to be convinced of the necessity of having this very fine structure thoroughly painted, repaired, and renovated inside and out. As many men belonging to the trades which would be concerned in such work are now out of employment, the present is a very opportune time to have the work undertaken.
– There are a few small sums on tho Estimates which I expect will be considered on Wednesday which might be used for such work as the honorable member has referred to. If these votes are passed, I shall see whether something cannot be done for the renovation of the building to which the honorable member has referred.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.23 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 August 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1924/19240801_reps_9_107/>.