House of Representatives
23 February 1928

10th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 2.30 p.m.,and read prayers.

page 3344


Assent to the following bills re ported : -

Land Tax Bill,

Land Tux Assessment Bill,

Income Tax Bill,

Income Tax Assessment Bill,

War Service Homes Agreement Bill,

Maternity Allowance Bill,

Commonwealth Housing Bill,

Commonwealth Bank ( Savings Bank ) Bill,

Wireless Agreement Bill,

Iron and Steel Products Bounty Bill.

page 3344


Mr.Bruce - (By leave). -If within two hours after the assembling of the House, a motion has not been disposed of, Standing Order 119 requires that the debate thereon shall be interrupted. Therefore, to facilitate the discussion of the motion of which the Leader of the Opposition has given notice, I move -

That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as will enable notice of motion No. 1 to take precedence of all other business until disposed of.

Question resolved in the affirmative.


.- I move -

That in the opinion of this House the Government is deserving of severe censure for its failure to adequately protect Australian industries and to limit migration to the nation’s ability to absorb new arrivals, together with its neglect to formulate proposals to deal with unemployment.

The fact will be generally recognized that the economic and industrial position in Australia to-day is very serious ; indeed it has been so for the last two years. During that period we have witnessed the sad spectacle of thousands of people who were willing and able to work, unable to obtain employment. In consequence their families have been deprived of necessaries and comforts which they are entitled to expect in a humane state of society. No effort has been made by the Common wealth Government to grapple with the problem thus created ; rather has it allowed the evil to become intensified. The Prime Minister may urge in extenuation of the Government’s attitude, as he has done on former occasions, that the Commonwealth is powerless in this matter inasmuch as public works, railways and other large employing activities are controlled by the States. Although that is true, the Commonwealth holds the key to the position, because of the power vested in it by the Constitution to control customs and migration. The fiscal and migration policies of the Government are largely responsible for the existing state of affairs in Australia. If this country is to be developed along sound lines, means must be devised for absorbing those people who are already here, and those who may come from elsewhere. There can be no sound increase of population except upon a basis of industrial development, and the fact is generally recognized that the manufacturing industries offer the greatest scope for employment. Is the policy of the Government calculated to foster to the fullest possible extent the manufacture of those articles which could be produced locally in sufficient quantities to meet the requirements of our people? The answer must be in the negative. The failure of the Government’s policy is proved by the adverse trade balance, which for the last financial year amounted to £20,000,000 and for the six months ended 31st December was over £9,000,000, showing that only a very small improvement has taken place since June last. I do not wish to extend my speech unduly by dealing with the circumstances of all the principal manufacturing industries, but I shall take as typical the conditions in the great and basic industry of iron and steel production. During the last twelve months competition from overseas has compelled the dismissal of a large number of workers in that industry, and I was informed last week in Melbourne by a gentleman connected with it that a firm in which he is interested has closed down two furnaces which can only be re-started at a cost of about £50,000 each.While this condition of stagnation prevails in the iron and steel industry the importations of iron and steel products were valued in 1994-25 nt £ 7,375,000; in 1925-26 at £6,171,000; and in 1926-27 at £8,739,000. Ninety per cent, of these importations came from the United Kingdom. I do not object to articles coming to Australia from Great Britain - we give that country a tariff preference; - but our first duty is to see that our own people are employed, and to produce in Australia whatever articles can be made here for Australian consumption. If our tariff is not effective, if it does not shut out” importations from abroad, this Parliament is in duty bound to take the necessary steps to amend it so that our industries may be kept going to their fullest capacity. If, for instance, the iron and steel industry could be kept going to its full capacity, at least £5,000,000 worth of iron and steel manufactures such as we are now importing could be made in Australia, giving employment directly to thousands cif additional men in the iron and steel industry itself, and providing indirect employment for many more people in various businesses in all parts of the Commonwealth. Additional employment in any industry has an indirect result on the whole of the Commonwealth, and furthermore serves to create a market for the people we are putting on the land. I have said on more than one occasion that, unless we can create a local market for our settlers, there is very little hope of progress in land settlement except for the production of wheat and wool and one or two other lines of primary produce. All this shows clearly that something ought to be done by the Commonwealth Parliament to meet the situation. It is idle to say that the States have control of certain activities. Through its tariff the Commonwealth Parliament controls the tariff which is the key to the progress of Australia’s manufacturing industries. The States can do nothing to help those industries. The responsibility for the maintenance of an adequate tariff that will foster these industries and find employment for our own people rests on the Commonwealth Government.

Mr Seabrook:

– Does the honorable member ever think about stopping strikes ?


– During serious discussions the honorable member is generally to be heard making some foolish interjection which is quite irrelevant to the matter at issue. It is not a question of strikes or lockouts. The position today is that honest workers cannot get employment to enable them to provide bread and butter for their vivos and their families; and thai; issue cannot be sidetracked by interjections of the nature of that we have just heard from the honorable member. The situation to-day is so serious that it demands the earnest attention of every honorable member of this House. Wo matter what our differences of opinion may be, we cannot shut our eyes to the position of Australian industry to-day. As a Parliament, we control the lever that can be used to give employment to our people. Our customs tariff should be so framed as to enable goods which we can manufacture to be made in Australia. No one can say how many thousands would be employed if we did- this. If we were supplying all our own requirements I do not suppose there would be one man unemployed in Australia, and we could go in for a migration policy because then we should be in a position to absorb newcomers. In support of my contention that the Government is largely responsible in this regard I propose to quote some figures. Every honorable member knows that for years past the Treasurer’s estimates of customs revenue have been considerably exceeded. Our customs revenue has gone up by leaps and bounds solely because of the large quantities of goods that are being imported. We cannot, be blind to these facts. They are ever present with us and show clearly how much responsibility rests upon the Government in the matter of unemployment.

What are Ministers doing in regard to migration? In this House on many occasions the Labour party has made it clear that it is not opposed to immigration. It is anxious to develop Australia, but it’ has always declared that people should be brought here only in accordance with arrangements previously made for absorbing them on their arrival. That is the whole position. We must first find employment for our own people, and then if we could bring a couple of hundred thousand of our brothers and sisters from Great Britain a’nd give employment to them we should1’ welcome them gladly. But we have first of all to consider our own people. It is true that there are very many unemployed in Great Britain, and that unemployment is costing the Mother Country huge sums of money, but it is not fair to transfer the British unemployed to Australia and make them a charge on us. Yet that is what the* method so far adopted amounts to. Although our unemployment is growing there has been no diminution in the flow of migrants to Australia. More people came here last year than in either of the two previous years.

Mr Watkins:

– And more foreigners.


– The honorable member is correct as I shall show from a table furnished by Mr. Wickens, the Commonwealth Statistician. The position is serious. Mr. Wickens discloses that -

The migration movements of Southern Europeans in comparison with British and other Europeans show a considerable increase during 1927 as compared with the two preceding years. In 1927, Southern Europeans comprised 13 per cent, of the total excess of Europeans arriving over those departing as compared with 15 per cent, in 1925 and 10 per cent, in 1926, while British Europeans decreased from 81 per cent, in 1925 and 85 per cent, in 1926 to 75 per cent, in 1927. The proportion represented by other Europeans showed an increase over the period from 3.7 in 1925 to 0.7 in 1927.

The following table shows the excess of arrivals of persons of European nationalities over recorded departures in the years from 1925 to 1927 : -

It will be seen therefore that the excess of arrivals over departures increased by more than 4,000 last year. The influx of such a large number of people at a time when so many of our own workers were unemployed has contributed largely to make the industrial position in which Australia finds herself to-day acute. If plans had been made for the absorption of the new arrivals there would have been some justification for allowing them to come here, hut I invite any honorable member to point to a single proposal which has emanated fro;m the Government with the object of providing work for them. The Development and Migration Commission has done nothing in that direction beyond making certain recommendations for the expenditure of a few million pounds on various suggested projects, but so far as I know none of this work has been commenced. The attitude of the Labour party towards the proposal to appoint the Development and Migration Commission was clearly defined when the Bill was before the House. We submitted that if the Commission were appointed it should make an investigation into the whole question of developing Australia, ascertain what lands were available for occupation, and submit reports to indicate how new arrivals could be absorbed. No such reports have been submitted to us. The Commission appears to have turned its energy to inquiring into almost every subject under the sun, whereas it should have devoted its time to one specific matter until it had solved it, and so found some employment for the people who are coming here. It seems, however, to have its head up in the clouds.

Mr Fenton:

– It is now turning its attention to tourists.


– That is so, and that may mean the establishment, in the near future, of another large Commonwealth Department. The appointment of the Commission has notbeen justified; nor can it be until it has submitted some practical proposals for absorbing our migrants.

During a recent debate in this chamber on the influx of aliens into Australia several statements were made which I desire to quote. Let me first make it quite clear that I have nothing derogatory to say about these people. Ibelieve that they make good citizens. My complaint is that they have been allowed to come here without proper restriction or regulation, notwithstanding that so many of our own people are unemployed. In the course of the debate to which I have referred, the Prime Minister stated that if the suggestions offered by honorable members of the Labour party to restrict migration were adopted international difficulties might be caused. My reply was and is that international law recognizes that every country is the master of its own domestic affairs and has a perfect right to pass whatever legislation it pleases to control its own population and migration. Only recently the United States of America found it necessary to impose certain restrictions on immigration, and no complaint was raised by the countries concerned. The Prime Minister, during the course of the same debate, stated that the immigration of all Southern Europeans except Italians into Australia, was regulated by a quota. He admitted, however, that as many Italians of good character and in the possession of ?40 as desired to enter Australia were entitled to do so. The right honorable gentleman also stated, vide page 459 of Hansard of the 25th June, 1925 -

We are taking power, by proclamation by the Governor-General, to prohibit, either wholly or in excess of specified numerical limits, and either permanently or for a specified period, the immigration into the Commonwealth, or the landing at any specified port or place in the Commonwealth, of aliens of any specified nationality, race, class, or occupation, in any case where it is deemed desirable so to do.

If the proclamation were issued it has remained a dead letter; for Italians and other Southern Europeans have continued to flood the country. As is shown by the figures I have quoted, migrants from Southern Europe was larger last year than ever before, although unemployment was rampant here. The Government could have taken steps to limit this migration under the power conferred upon it by Section 3k of the Immigration Act which provides that -

The Governor-General may by proclamation prohibit …. the immigration into the Commonwealth …. of aliens of any specified nationality …. in any case where he deems it desirable so to do -(a) on account of the economic or industrial or any other conditions existing in the Commonwealth.

That section places beyond any doubt the power of the Government in this connexion, and the Prime Minister himself has admitted that a proclamation could have been issued. On what ground therefore can the Ministry’s inactivity be justified ?

Mr Seabrook:

– What have the State Labour Governments done? Why cannot they look after their own unemployed ?


– I am not concerned at the moment with what the State Governments may be doing. My point is that the Commonwealth Government has been recreant to its duty in allowing so many migrants to come here. Many of these newcomers are working for wages which are below the Australian ruling rates and under conditions which are breaking down the standards which the Australian workers have set up after many years of struggle. I shall support that statement by a number of quotations. I quote the following from the Sun Pictorial of 11th June, 1927 : -


Settlers’ Protest.

Quota System

Redcliffs, Friday. - At the conference of returned soldier dried fruit and vine growers, Mr. R. M. Keegan (Redcliffs) moved for the curtailment of alien immigration. He expressed the hope that Mussolini would confine his migration activities to any country except Australia, preferably Abyssinia. Mr. Keegan said many Southern Europeans were buying out strugging settlers, because they lived under conditions that Australians would not tolerate. They were single men, while the settler had a wife and children to support.

Mr. Hayes, assistant secretary of the Bakers’ Union, is reported in the Melbourne Herald of 24th June, 1927, as saying that -

We have found that there is a system whereby newly-arrived foreigners who have passed the test can get employment by cafe proprietors and others in preference to the present members of the union.

Now, while 80 members of our union, of many years’ standing, are out of work, a lot of the new arrivals, particularly Italian and German, seem to be able to get jobs almost as soon as they step off the ship.

Notwithstanding the statement I have just quoted, we are told that as the migrants coming to Australia are in most cases settling on the land, they do not compete with those engaged in the industrial arena.

From the West Australian of 14th July, 1927, I quote the following: -

Influx of Aliens

Road Board Contracts. “ No Britishers Available

Mr. E. H. Barker, secretary of the State executive of the A.L.P., said yesterday that a letterhe had received from Mr. C. G. Jay, of the Sandston branch of the A.W.U., supported his contention that the influxof aliens into Western Australia was, to a great extent, responsible for the present wide extent of unemployment.

I also quote the following extract from the Argus, of 15th October, 1927 : -

Working for Food Only

Charges about Foreigners.

Perth, Friday. - The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) recently asked the State Ministry to allow the Criminal Investigation Department to inquire into allegations by the State executive of the Australian Labour party that Southern Europeans were working in country districts for no remuneration other than food. A report, which is being sent to Mr. Bruce, stated that in the last three yearsabout 36 Bulgarians and Macedonians had tried to obtain employment through Perth. A Bulgarian and another Bulgarian farmer at Amphion had informed farmers in the district that the men would work for 10s. a week and keep, or anything that they could get, and that they obtained work at that rate, although some of them received £1. Most of them had been induced to come from the United States by shipping company advertisements that they could earn from £1 to £3 a day in the country. Statements made by some Italians, Greeks, and Jugo-Slavs showed that they were prepared to work for food only.

It is deplorable that migrants coming to Australia are compelled to accept from 10s. to £1 a week, and in some cases to work merely for their food, in order to maintain themselves. According to the Age of the 26th October, 1927, Mr. T. E. Wyatt, the Victorian Land

Settlement Migration officer who was attached to Australia House from 1923, said : -

The position, as far as land-settlement migrants was concerned, had been most unsatisfactory for some considerable time. Although a great deal of propaganda was carried on, and literature announcing that Australia wanted men for the land was freely distributed, the fact remained that if any man applied to Australia with the object of going to Australia under a Government land settlement scheme, there was. not one in operation for any State. The Western Australian scheme was in abeyance; New South Wales had not signed the agreement with the Commonwealth, and would- take only a few settlers under its own scheme at odd times. Neither Queensland, South Australia, nor Tasmania has a scheme, and the Victorian scheme was suspended owing to action taken by the overseas settlement department in London on the strength of reports sent by its representative in Australia.

That is sufficient to show that the influx of migrants to Australia is largely responsible for the unemployment which at present prevails.


– It is commonsense and not nonsense. The honorable member for Franklin has shown by the exhibition he has given in this House on many occasions that he does not understand commonsense. The statement I have quoted clearly discloses that the Commonwealth Government is responsible for the position with which we are now confronted. I have already quoted the opinion of a responsible officer in London who stated that there are no land settlement schemes under which these new arrivals can be absorbed. That is the pointI am making. If the Commonwealth and the States have no schemes under which new arrivals can be absorbed, what is the justification for encouraging large numbers of migrants to come to Australia, thus increasing unemployment? That point cannot be answered by inane interjections. As the Commonwealth Government has control of customs its policy is responsible for the languishing state of our industries and for the fact that thousands of our people are out of work. It is idle to say that the States are responsible because they nominate migrants, as under the Constitution the Commonwealth has complete control over migration. Responsible officials in the High

Commissioner’s office in London are constantly publishing statements in the press of the Old Country announcing that there are opportunities in Australia for those who will only come here. As a result of these statements many migrants come to Australia only to find that there is very little prospect of finding remunerative employment. Many of them are compelled to offer their services at wages below the ruling rates, which tends to lower the standard of living in Australia.

It may be claimed by some honorable members that the unemployment to-day is due to the climatic conditions prevailing throughout the Commonwealth; but nobody can say that bad seasons have been general throughout the Commonwealth. It is true that in certain parts of Australia drought conditions have prevailed, but generally speaking there has not been drought of any magnitude throughout the Commonwealth since long before the war. I can recall the time when the conditions throughout the Commonwealth were so bad that pastoralists were compelled to give their sheep away or to allow them to die on the runs. For the information of honorable members who believe that climatic conditions are responsible for unemployment, let me quote some figures to prove my contention. In 1922-23 Australia produced 109,454,842 bushels of wheat, and in 1926-27 160,670,644 bushels, or an increase of over 51,000,000 bushels. Notwithstanding this large increase in the production of wheat some honorable members contend that the season has been bad. Surely such an increase in production is an indication of the prosperity of the country. What has enabled Australia to maintain her position? Wheat and wool have been our principal exports, and the returns ‘from these commodities have been sufficient to keep our finances buoyant. In 1922-23 Australia produced 725,414,526 lb. of wool and in 1926-27 895,588,891 lb., or an increase of no less than 170,174,365 lb. It has been contended that in the latter year we had a drought, the effects of which are to some extent responsible for the conditions of industry prevailing to-day. Let me remind honorable members that in 1926-27 there was a greater return from wheat and wool than in any previous year, indicating clearly that considerable progress has been made in the production of those commodities. It is, therefore, idle to say that because of drought conditions Australia has reached its present unenviable industrial position. There are certain causes for present-day conditions, two of which I have already mentioned. First, we have not fostered our secondary industries sufficiently to enable us to increase primary production other than wheat and wool; and, secondly, we have brought immigrants here without making provision for their absorption in the community. Probably I shall be told by the Prime Minister in reply that I have been preaching economy, and that to practise economy, the Government has had to dismiss employees from Commonwealth departments. Let me say that I do preach economy, and that my criticism has been levelled against the Government for its extravagant administration, and the appointment of numerous boards and commissions. As a matter of fact, it is well known that this Government, as it were, sits at ease, in its armchair, appoints commissions to investigate important projects, and subsequently brings down a bill giving effect, to their recommendations. Ministers have no” initiative at all. All questions of importance raised during the last two or three years have been referred to commissions, and the Government is still awaiting the results of their investigations.

Mr Watkins:

– Boards and commissions are costing this country .£500,000 annually.


– I have already stated that I believe that the work of the Postal Department could have been further developed, and better facilities given to country districts had we utilized for that purpose the taxation that has been remitted to a certain section of the community.

Mr McGrath:

– The wealthy people should bear, their fair share of the war burden.


– That taxation was imposed to meet our war obligations, yet the position to-day is that our wealthy citizens have largely been relieved of their responsibility, and the burden transferred to the great mass of the people of this country.

Mr Gregory:

– The policy of protection does not help the worker.


– It helps us to manufacture our own goods, and stimulates employment. The wealthy people of this country who assisted to put the Government in power have received their quid pro quo over and over again. Land and income taxation has been reduced by nearly £6,000,000. Had that sum been collected and used for developmental purposes and for the provision of telegraph and telephonic facilities in country districts, much benefit would have been conferred upon the community.

Mr McGrath:

– The Government did not increase soldier pensions.


– That is so. In 1922-23 the income taxation was reduced by slightly more than 10 per cent. In 1924-25 there was a decrease of 10 per cent, and in 1925-26 a further reduction of 13 per cent. Last year another 10 per cent, reduction was made. There has each year been a reduction in direct taxation, and at the same time a considerable increase in indirect taxation. More revenue is raised to-day than was raised prior to those reductions, and the great masses of the people are now bearing the burden of taxation in place of the wealthy people who were called upon to pay for the prosecution of the war.

Mr Killen:

– Had there been no reductions in direct taxation, there would have been much more unemployment in Australia than there is to-day.


– Had it not been for those reductions there would have been nearly £6,000,000 available for the development of this country. That is another picture altogether. That sum of money would employ many people for a long period. This year the interest bill is £1,600,000 more than it was in 1922-23 ; and with higher rates of interest’ in converting loans falling due, further money will be required. The reduction in land and income taxation this year, amounting to £1,800,000, would have paid this extra interest bill. Why forgo such a considerable sum of money when this country is in financial difficulty, and when we say that as far as possible borrowing should be curtailed, and confined more to Australia, thus preventing the wholesale importation of goods. While we are facing financial stringency, the wealthy people of this country are being relieved of their just burden, and it is being placed upon the shoulders of the poorer people who depend upon wages, and in many cases work intermittently. During the war I said on many occasions that there would inevitably be an endeavour made to relieve the wealthy of their share of the war burden. My prediction came true two or- three years after the war terminated. During the last four years the national debt has increased by £5,855,000, clearly indicating our unenviable financial position, and for this the Government is certainly responsible.

We cannot for a moment place the responsibility for Australia’s present position upon the States. Th«y have their own obligations to meet. Although they control many important departments, they do not hold the key to the position. The Commonwealth Parliament has control of customs, and, therefore, it is our responsibility if industries are1 not fostered. We have made no provision for the absorption of the immigrants that we bring to this country. If the Prime Minister has any wish to relieve the position, let him instruct his immigration officials in Great Britain that immigration to Australia must be abandoned until such time as this country is able to absorb its own people. The States have obligations in regard to immigration, and if this Parliament took action to restrict immigration, the States would have fewer unemployed to maintain, and the cost of administration would be considerably less than it is to-day. This Government alone is responsible for bringing immigrants to this country, thus aggravating the unemployment problem, and increasing the burden upon the States. We are not justified in considering the interests of other people, and, in the matter of employment, giving them preference over Australians. The Commonwealth Government is not justified in encouraging people to come to Australia, and then unloading them upon the State governments in the belief that its obligation, so far as their future welfare is concerned, is ended. Yet that is the position as we find it to-day. It should not be tolerated for a moment. The responsibility with regard to the employment of migrants rests definitely upon the Commonwealth Government. Action should have been taken long ago to prevent the great influx of people from outside the British Empire to Australia. I have nothing to say against those immigrants but they should not have preference in employment over migrants from within the Empire. The Labour party is not against migration, but, as I have said over and over again, it has set its face against the practice of encouraging prominent citizens in the Mother Country to come to Australia, to form conclusions about its possibilities for absorbing additional population, and then giving publicity to their views. Migration should be encouraged only when we are in a position to provide work for the newcomers. Apparently that important point has been overlooked by those who have been advocating migration during the last few years. Up to the present we have not evolved any scheme that is calculated to absorb people who come to Australia. Apparently the Government is content to encourage migrants to come to this country and then allow them to drift and find employment wherever it may be offering, irrespective of the fact that it may be unsuitable to them. This Government and the Prime Minister are charged with a definite responsibility in the matter. Unemployment exists even in the Federal Capital Territory. Just before Christmas 200 men were thrown out of work here, and yet the Prime Minister had nothing to say. The duty of the Government is to provide work for all honest people. We cannot expect to have contentment in Australia if men, willing to work, are unable to find it. Let us consider the position of such a man with a family. Let us put ourselves in his place and imagine what he must feel after three, four, or even six months’ unemployment ; and, also, what must be the feelings of his wife when, at the end of a day’s search, he has to say to her, “No luck to-day, lass.” In all probability there is no food in the home for the little ones who depend upon him for sustenance. Such a condition of affairs in any country must breed trouble. There is no escape from it. Therefore, it is our duty to do what we can to put an end to it. We have the power, and we should take steps to stop this influx of migrants from countries overseas. The Government should suspend its migration policy until such time as we have employment for all our own people.

The introduction of migrants from European countries should be restricted. I do not agree with the Prime Minister that, if we take action in that direction, international complications are likely to arise. I say that we have a perfect right to safeguard the interests of our own people by preventing the further introduction of migrants from European countries, many of whom have been deluded by reports in the press as to the conditions in Australia. Consequently, they come here only to discover that they have made a mistake, and that there is little opportunity for employment. The Government should initiate proposals that will ensure the co-operation of the States and lead to the’ absorption of the unemployed already in Australia. The present state of affairs affects both the Commonwealth and the States. Let us, therefore co-ordinate our efforts so that we may relieve the distress that prevails throughout the Commonwealth.

I have submitted this motion with that object in view. For months past I have felt very keenly for the great mass of the workers in this country for I realize that their position is getting worse from day to day. I totally disagree with .the honorable member who interjected just now that the workers themselves are largely responsible for the present position because of certain industrial action which resulted in strikes or lockouts.

Mr Cook:

– That has all to do with it.


– O - Our duty as members of the Federal Parliament is to play our part and, by legislative action, do the very best we can to find employment for our fellow citizens - to make their position better than it is to-day. Also it is our duty to take steps to prevent others from coming to Australia until suitable employment is available for all. No one in Australia is opposed to fellow citizens of the Empire coming here. We are always ready to extend to them the hand of good fellowship ; but we do not wish them to enter into competition with Australians for what work there may be available. If we can absorb them we shall be glad to see them working in our factories alongside our own people and becoming useful Australian citizens. Only in this way can we expect to develop Australia on sane lines.

The motion of censure which I have submitted is well deserved. I have no regrets in the matter, because the industrial position is becoming more acute every day. The time has arrived for definite action on the part of the Commonwealth Government. I repeat that no ministry is more responsible than this Government for the present unsatisfactory position in the industrial and manufacturing concerns of this country. The same may be said of the Government’s responsibility with regard to migration. We are not justified in encouraging migrants if we cannot absorb them; and certainly they should not have preference in employment over our own .people. I wish to make it clear that I have nothing to say against them personally. My only criticism is that they should not be allowed to come to Australia to compete with Australians ih the labour market. Quite recently, so I am informed, Australians in Newcastle have been unable to secure work, whilst migrants obtained employment within a week of arrival. What we have to do is bring about a condition of affairs that will enable us to absorb our own unemployed people first, and then if there is further employment offering, do what we can to provide for others.

I hope that the motion will be discussed on its merits, and that an indication will be given to the Ministry that it must discontinue its practice of encouraging migration whilst there is such a large measure of unemployment in this country. I hope also that the discussion will lead to action being taken to lessen the large volume of imports, and to correct the adverse trade balance which is working so much injury to the development of Australia.

Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs · Flinders · NAT

– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) has seen fit to move a vote of censure on the Government, the terms of which are expressed in the question before the House. I suggest that the honorable gentleman has made out no case against the Government. He has mentioned some of the problems now confronting Australia, of which we arc all aware, but has offered no practical solution of any of them.

Before dealing with his charges, I shall correct one misstatement which it would be unwise to allow to pass unchallenged. The honorable gentleman suggested that the conditions of Australia at the present time are not abnormal. If that were so, this country would indeed be in a dangerous position. I do not accept his view. On the contrary, I suggest that very exceptional circumstances operate in this country, circumstances which have affected our finances, and have reduced the opportunities of employment. In referring to our wool and wheat industries, the Leader of the Opposition quoted figures for the year 1926-27. He said that our production of wheat in that vear was 160,000,000 bushels. That is so;” but this is the year 1927-2S, and climatic influences - in particular, a drought in portions of the Commonwealth - have reduced this year’s harvest, which is estimated at only 101,000,000 bushels. Valuing the wheat at 5s. 4d. a bushel, that reduction in the yield means a monetary loss of £15,750,000. This is affecting expenditure and employment throughout Australia. But while our finances are in anything but a flourishing condition, our difficulties are only temporary. Australia’s amazing power of recuperation will speedily overcome the existing financial stringency. The country has recently been blessed with wonderful rains, and there is every indication that the existing depression will soon come to an end.

The Leader of the Opposition has seen fit to censure the Government for the unemployment which now prevails. I do not deny that there is considerable unemployment in Australia at the present time ; but I remind the honorable gentleman that, unfortunately, we have never been without unemployment. What we have now to consider is whether the unemployment which exists to-day is much greater than that of times past. Even had we reached what might be called a “ peak “ period I suggest that it is not in the interests of this country to publish abroad that our position is as tragic as he suggests. Such a statement would do Australia no good; it would do us material harm by interfering with our development. I propose to give to the House some statistics regarding unemployment in Australia over a period of years; but in doing so I wish to make it clear that I do not suggest that there is no unemployment here to-day, nor that in certain parts of the Commonwealth unemployment is not more acute than on previous occasions. Yet, I maintain that, taking the country as a whole, the position to-day is not as many would have us believe. In my opinion, it is most undesirable that the impression should go abroad that Australia is in a dangerous condition. I have obtained from the

Commonwealth Statistician a statement showing the number of persons unemployed in each State in the years 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926 and 1927.

Mr Charlton:

– Do those figures refer to persons registered for employment at government bureaux ?


– They have been supplied by the Trades Hall authorities of the several States, and give the number of trade unionists unemployed.

Mr Lazzarini:

– All the unemployed are not members of trade unions.


– I am aware that every working man in Australia is not a trade unionist; but I remind honorable members opposite that they have frequently assured this House that the overwhelming majority of the workers of Australia are trade unionists, and connected with the industrial unions of this country. Trade unionism here has developed to such an extent that the figures state with fair accuracy the actual position in regard to unemployment. In any case they provide proper material for comparison.

For the Commonwealth the total unemployment for the years mentioned is -

Although in 1926 the number of unemployed declined considerably compared with the previous year, and was greater again in 1927, it was still considerably below the figures for 1924 and 1925.

Mr Theodore:

– Will the right honorable gentleman give the figures for the last quarter?


– The figures have been compiled from the half-yearly returns supplied to the statistician. They show the number of unemployed on the last day of the period; those for 1927 show the position existing on the 31st December last. Over a number of years the figures for the last day of the period probably give a fair average.

Mr Watkins:

– The figures are not fully supplied.


– The honorable member may supply other figures if he so desires. Those I have given are the official figures supplied by the Commonwealth Statistician. I have given them because I believe that it is essential that the actual position in Australia, so far as unemployment is concerned, should be made known. I shall now give the percentage of unemployed to the membership of the reporting unions.

Because of the poorer harvest this year the banks and other financial institutions in Australia have restricted advances, and towards the end of 1927 the number of unemployed was greater than the figures supplied for the 31st December last, but the conditions were, as I said, abnormal, lt is quite wrong, on such data, to decry Australia, suggesting that unemployment is rampant, and that the country is on the brink of ruin.

The Leader of the Opposition suggested two remedies by which, he claimed, the difficulties that he outlined could be removed: the first was to increase our customs tariff, and the second to prohibit migration. With all respect I submit that his suggestions to-day may create for him a very awkward position should he, by a surprising and almost impossible turn of events, find himself at the head of a government. The honorable member has surrendered the position by which the Commonwealth has stood, whether under a Nationalist, Liberal, or Labour regime. He has made the Commonwealth authority responsible for everything that has occurred in Australia, brushing aside the State authorities as if they were altogether without responsibility. Should the honorable member ever become Prime Minister lie would be considerably embarrassed by his utterances of to-day. Let me discuss his first remedy: an increased tariff. The honorable member reiterated opinions in which he has been so frequently and enthusiastically supported by those behind him, and I, for my part, can merely repeat what I have said previously, that he and they are promising a false paradise to the workers of Australia by propounding such ideas. The Leader of the Opposition and his party are doing great disservice to our people by endeavouring to make them believe that if Labour were returned to power the tariff would be so altered that employment would be increased, wages would be higher, working hours shortened, and every one would be better off.. That alluring picture of a new heaven on earth is presented in the endeavour to secure sufficient votes to put Labour into power, and I suggest that to paint such an attractive but misleading outlook is little short of criminal. Let us examine the suggestions of the honorable member, to gauge their probable results, if put into effect. He has, colloquially speaking, “gone the whole hog.” He suggested that wherever it is possible to manufacture a thing in Australia, it is our duty to take action to require that to be done. To that end he would raise the tariff. We now have a tariff which, until I heard the speech of the honorable member, I have thought must be universally regarded as comparatively high. The honorable member would have us believe that our fiscal system is virtually free trade. Let me give the House figures showing the percentage of customs duty in relation to the value of imports for the period 1909 to 1926, and covering the trade .of the United States of America, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia -

Our percentage alone has remained nearly constant, and in the light of these figures it is manifestly absurd for honorable members opposite to talk as if no action had been taken to provide adequate tariff protection for Australian industry. It is still more absurd for them perpetually to regard the United States of America as a model for us to copy, inasmuch as Australia is at present collecting a tariff 5 per cent, greater than that of the United States of America. The Leader of the Opposition urges that we should make everything we can in Australia, merely to give employment to our citizens. I suggest that he would not achieve that result by increasing customs duties. No doubt the honorable member holds the same view as that which he expressed in opposition to my proposal in regard to the building of our new cruisers. When a few years ago this Government was about to place a contract for two cruisers, the Leader of the Opposition urged that the plates for those cruisers should be rolled in Australia. To make that possible, it would have been necessary to install here machinery costing approximately £500,000 - and it would have taken only about a month to roll the necessary plates, after which the plant would not have been usable for any other purpose! Does the honorable member seriously suggest that the country should incur tremendous capital expenditure to manufacture articles for which there is but a negligible and infrequent demand in Australia? Employment given by such tactics would be provided at prohibitive cost. Few would benefit, but the whole community would have to pay dearly. Furthermore, science is now advancing so rapidly in some industries that, if a factory is to remain up-to-date and produce as cheaply as possible, its plant must be scrapped every two or three years. That, of course, is possible only where there is a tremendous output. Otherwise the article produced would cost so excessive a price that it would be impossible to sell it. Only where the output is so large as to render it possible to wipe off the cost of new machinery in a few years can such industries flourish. Australia cannot have such factories until we become large exporters of secondary products. That, of course, is the mark at which we should aim; we should not be content with our own local market only. But, until we attain a higher degree of secondary manufacture, the only result of the course suggested by the Leader of the Opposition for providing additional ‘employment must be that the workers would pay more for the goods they require. To increase the cost of what they require, and thus to reduce the purchasing power of their wages, would be a left-handed way to confer benefits upon the workers of this country, and to create new avenues of employment. Again, the output of one industry is the raw material of another, which, perhaps, is of infinitely greater importance, and provides the greater amount of employment. The honorable gentleman would, by the imposition of a high duty, increase the cost of this raw material, and thus, although he might give employment to a few people in the smaller industry, he would throw hundreds of workers in the larger industry out of employment. The honorable gentleman had not paid due regard to aspects of the matter such as I have outlined when he suggested a higher tariff as a solution of our unemployment problem. The adoption of his suggestion would not solve the problem; but it would injure many existing industries. It would, unquestionably, handicap our exporting industries. The sale of our products overseas would be restricted; our credits would be reduced, and this would have a detrimental effect upon the balance of trade. Far from curing the trouble, it would almost inevitably increase our unfavorable trade balance.

The way to lessen unemployment is to have a scientific tariff, which is what the Government has been working for ever since it has been in office. No previous government’ has done more in that direction. No other government has given greater assistance to Australian industry. The Minister for Customs (Mr. Pratten) has brought down two major customs schedules since we have been in office. No other Minister for Customs has done so much. Altogether Ave have brought down four tariff schedules since we have been in office, and the Leader of the Opposition is not on sound ground when he attacks us for not having assisted the secondary industries of Australia. We have done a tremendous amount to assist them. The Minister for Customs will give detailed information with regard to that. The Leader of the Opposition knows that the Government has done great work in connexion with the tariff, and as he cannot make a reasoned attack upon us he has taken this hideous plunge into prohibition.

There are, of course, certain essential industries which must be established and maintained. They .are the industries which are necessary for our own defence, industries which every self-respecting nation requires. Such industries having been established, the question arises, on what lines should we proceed to ensure employment to the greatest number of people. We should not consider the question in terms of small individual industries, the fostering of which may have repercussions, which, instead of conferring benefits, may cause disaster.

The honorable gentleman next dealt with our trade balance, repeating what he has said on previous occasions. To-day however, he had lost a little of his confidence. He did not say so much about the effect of an adverse trade balance, nor suggest such drastic action to remedy it. On the last occasion he said -

Such a state of affairs cannot continue without causing immense injury to Australia’s credit.

The Commonwealth cannot continue to bc drained in this way.

Action must be taken immediately to remedy thu position in which we find ourselves.

He went a long way on that occasion, but he did not seem to be prepared to go quite so far this time. I ask him if he has done me the honour of considering any of the points I put forward on a previous occasion, when I drew attention to the position of Germany and Canada before the

Avar, and of the United States of America at the present time. Those three countries were, during the periods of which I speak, enjoying great prosperity. During a time when Germany appeared to be capturing the world’s trade, she had, year after year, an adverse trade balance. One would imagine, from the great wealth of the United States of America, and the prosperity which they are said to be enjoying, that that country would have a tremendously favorable trade balance. It has not. It has an adverse trade balance. The American adverse trade balances for the years 1921 to 1926 respectively were as follow :- 228,000,000 dollars, 508,000,000 dollars, 119,000,000 dollars, 212,000,000 dollars, 3,000,000 dollars, and 509,000,000 dollars. The adverse balance for last year was much the highest. I do not propose to deal at great length with this question to-day; but as it has been brought up again, there are one or two points I should put forward, so that Ave in Australia may not get the impression that because of this adverse trade balance Ave are heading towards inevitable disaster, and Ave should not allow any such impression to go out to the world. The balance of trade means the excess of exports over imports, or the excess of imports over exports. Imports and exports are generally regarded as embracing merchandise and gold; but there are many other factors which have to be borne in mind in estimating the actual position. Anything which establishes for Australia a credit abroad is really in the nature of an invisible export and must be regarded as a portion of our exports. In discussions of this character we are too prone to think of loans as all government loans. The raising of capital overseas for private purposes also comes into the picture. Borrowing creates an invisible export and is of considerable assistance in the development of this country, though to what extent it is impossible to determine. I shall give two examples, making them as simple as I can, to illustrate the point that the raising of capital overseas establishes a credit for Australia and to that extent creates an invisible export. We are enthusiastic in our approval of not only the migration of British people to Australia but also the establishment here of British industries. The fact must not be overlooked that the investment of a large amount of British capital in an industry in Australia results in the employment of Australian .work people, and thus makes an invisible export. But if the machinery required is not manufactured in Australia but is brought here, to that extent our imports are swelled and our adverse trade balance increased. Even so, will anybody suggest that the establishment of a big knitting factory, the capital for which is raised wholly in London and the machinery for which is sent from Great Britain, is a bad thing for Australia? Surely it is to our advantage, and is not an indication that we are heading towards national disaster! The same position obtains in relation to an industry that is already established in Australia. I have one in mind at the moment. I am not aware whether the facts are generally known, although I believe that they are, and I shall not mention it by name. I refer to a company whichhas established in Australia a very valuable manufactory. Another company in Great Britain, although not the parent company, trades under the same name. The British company has decided to interest itself in the Australian concern and proposes to invest between £650,000 and £670,000 in the purchase of shares in the latter company. The result to the Australian company will be an expansion of its activities, a bigger turnover, and the employment of a greater number of Australian workpeople. Surely that is a good thing for Australia, although inevitably the amount so invested will help to swell our adverse trade balance! These considerations ought to be thoroughly weighed by every person before accepting the gloomy statements that are made so readily with respect to an adverse trade balance.

Let me clear up one other misapprehension that exists. The statement has been made that Australia is borrowing abroad for the purpose of meeting her interest payments. That is perfectly untrue, and those who make the statement display a complete lack of knowledge and a misunderstanding of the position.

Mr Scullin:

– Who has said so?


– The statement has been made frequently. Every proposition for the raising of a loan overseas embodies a schedule setting out the purposes for which the money is required; irrigation works, railways, or a hundred and one other activities. The money is raised, perhaps, in London, and is there used for the purpose of paying interest which is falling due; but simultaneously revenue which is raised in this country is to an equivalent amount placed to the credit of the loan fund. That is a cheap and an efficient way of transferring money from London to Australia.

I wish to reply to certain reckless statements that have been made on this subject, and that do an incalculable amount of harm to Australia. The Premier of Victoria, Mr. Hogan, in the course of a speech which he delivered the other day, stated that Victoria had an adverse trade balance of £21,000,000. He drew a horribly gloomy picture of the future of Victoria, and unquestionably in the process did that State a tremendous amount of harm. He did not quote any figures in support of his statement, but based it upon the fact that Victoria’s oversea trade figures showed that she had imported goods to the value of £55,000,000, and exported other goods to the value of only £34,000,000.It is not within his power to dissociate Victoria’s figures from those of the Commonwealth as a whole, as those for Victoria are not taken out separately. It is a central State, in which have grown up extensive business organizations. If consideration is given to the trade of Victoria, it will probably he found that she has not an adverse, but on the contrary, a favorable trade balance. I mention this matter merely with a view to showing how dangerous it is to embark upon a discussion of this question without having in one’s possession the whole of the facts, and what damage to Australia’s credit is likely to be caused thereby.

Summarizing the position, I draw the attention of honorable members to the fact that in the period covered by the last twelve years Australia’s overseas exports have exceeded her overseas imports by £56,400,000. During that period also her borrowings abroad have exceeded her repayments by £207,700,000, and payments by Bawra to Australian woolgrowers totalled £28,800,000. Those three items, totalling £292,900,000, represented Australia’s means for financing her commitments abroad. In the same period her payments in respect of interest on overseas loans and for other charges, that do not appear in the ordinary trade balances, for shipping, insurance, and other services, totalled approximately, £286,800,000. Therefore, her overseas credits have increased by approximately £6,100,000 compared with the balances due to her on the 30th June, 1914. Realizing that the war years, with their tremendously large commitments, fell within the period with which I am dealing, it must be admitted that the position in which we stand to-day, compared with that in which we stood twelve years ago, gives no cause for the pessimism that appears to pervade the mind of so many persons in Australia. It must be recognized that our existing circumstances are but a temporary phase caused by climatic conditions, and that many fundamental alterations demand our attention.

The Leader of the Opposition also made an attack on the migration policy of the Government. He reiterated the statement he has made on a number of previous occasions, that his party is wholeheartedly in favour of migration, and welcome it almost enthusiastically. There is always a “but” attached to his declaration, and it appears to be that he and his party would give practical effect to their enthusiasm only when not a single person in Australia was unemployed.

Mr Charlton:

-We do not go so far as that.


– It is of no use for the honorable gentleman to try to persuade the people of Australia that he is in favour of migration. Neither he nor his party favours it. That is proved by their every action. They seem to have the idea that we can hold this country for ourselves and keep out everybody else, and that no disaster will overtake us. The policy of the Government with regard to migration has been made abundantly clear. We have laid it down with perfect definiteness that we do not believe in indiscriminate migration, or in flooding the country with migrants whom there is not the slightest possibility of its being able to absorb. The honorable member said that it was not fair to transfer the unemployed of Great Britain to Australia. I cordially endorse that view; in fact, I made the same statement five years ago, and in the place where it was most likely to be effective, when I attended the Imperial Conference of 1923. An idea was current at that time that the problem of unemployment in Great Britain could be easily solved by sending millions of British people to the great dominions. I stated publicly and frankly that the idea was nonsensical, that Australia would progressively absorb an increasing number of migrants, but that the influx of new population must be regulated by the absorption capacity of the country. As the two requirements essential to increased absorption, I stressed money to develop the country, and markets in which to sell our products. We have advanced a considerable distance along those lines since 1923; but the Leader of the Opposition has spoken to-day as if nothing had been done, and as if the Government had been idle. Unfortunately, he belongs to a political school which teaches that all the problems of the universe may be immediately solved by the mere passing of a bill. Happily, the people of Australia are beginning to realize the absurdity of that doctrine. We can progress towards our objective only by degrees and by directing our course with wisdom. Our policy in.recent years has been to avoid embarking upon developmental projects in a reckless, haphazard way; but to decide upon our objective, to estimate the probable results of development, and, above all, to decide beforehand how and where we shall market what we produce.

Honorable members opposite play as their trump card - which I expect will be used very frequently at the next election - the argument that the Government is devoid of ideas and can do nothing but appoint royal commissions, boards, and committees, to solve the problems that confront it. My only regret is that that expedient was not adopted many years earlier; had it been, this country might have saved many millions of pounds and avoided many of the acute problems with which it is faced to-day. I remind the House of the work that has been done by the Development and Migration Commission. When the commission was first proposed, honorable members opposite did not attack it lest they should disclose their real attitude towards migration; they gave it a half-hearted blessing. Now, however, they are beginning to question the value of the commission; without criticizing its personnel, they attack the idea itself. Cannot they see that they are thus opposing the whole principle of visualizing future development, deciding upon a definite policy to be adopted, securing the co-operation of the States with the Commonwealth, and ensuring that developmental schemes shall be of real benefit to the country and increase its absorption capacity? On Monday next a conference is to be held between representatives of the Commonwealth, New South Wales, Victorian and South Australian Governments to consider the problem of the development of the Murray River valley. It is a thousand pities that this subject was not investigated ten or twelve years ago by such a body as the Development and Migration Commission. Instead, the people were misled by fanciful pictures of the wonderful possibilities of the Murray valley, of millions of acres of fertile land to be brought into production by irrigation and support a population of 10,000,000 settlers. The people said, “ At last somebody has conceived a great idea; let this scheme be put into operation.” At great cost the project was proceeded with, and to-day we are confronted with the almost insuperable difficulty of disposing of the surplus of dried fruits. The problem can be solved, but not by placing more settlers in that area and increasing the production of what is already a surplus commodity. Mr. Gunn, one of the members of the Development and Migration Commission, has submitted a report upon the Murray River Settlement and the production of dried fruits. Had the facts he has collated been presented ten years ago, we would have been able to work upon some definite and co-ordinated plan for the development of that territory, and we would have known what we would do with its products when we had settled it. It is with due regard to those essentials that developmental problems are being tackled to-day; we have already made great progress towards the complete organization of our primary industries in order to ensure the better marketing of their products. To a greater extent than ever before science has been brought to the assistance of industry. I claim for the Government no special credit on that account, because any government must have recognized the necessity for bringing science to the aid of industry in order to increase efficiency and improve the position of our products in the competitive markets of the world. Yet, the honorable member for Hunter has said that the Government has done nothing.

Another statement by the honorable member was that the influx of new population inevitably involves increased unemployment. Had the honorable member given more thought to the subject he would not have made a statement that is so contrary to the facts. In the year 1921, when the number of assisted migrants who arrived in Australia was 1,482, the percentage of unemployment was 11.2. In 1922, when the influx of assisted migrants hadincreased to 24,000, the percentage of unemployment was reduced to 9.2. The figures for the subsequent years were: 1923 - assisted migrants, 26,000, percentage of unemployment, 7.1; 1924 - assisted migrants, 25,000, percentage of unemployment, 8.9 ; 1925 - assisted migrants, 24,800, percentage of unemployment, 8.8; 1926 - assisted migrants 31,000, percentage of unemployment, 7; 1927 - assisted migrants, 30,000, percentage of unemployment, 7. If we turn back to a time when the Commonwealth was administered by a Labour Government, we find that the figures tell a similar story. In 1911, when 39,000 assisted migrants were brought to these shores, the percentage of unemployment was 4.7. In 1912, when 46,000 assisted migrants arrived, the unemployment was only 5.5 per cent., and in 1913, when the new arrivals numbered 37,000, it was reduced to 5.3. The fact emphasized by those statistics is that a diminution of assisted migrants is attended by a considerable increase of unemployment. Having regard to those figures, the Leader of the Opposition will not care to pursue his line of argument much further. Experience in every country has been that as the flow of migrants has increased, production has advanced and unemployment has diminished.

We have been told that the Commonwealth Parliament should step into the arena and declare that, no more migrants shall be admitted. Probably it is within the power of this Parliament to adopt that attitude, but how would it be regarded by the Government of a State that is developing and requires more people? What would the Government of Western Australia say? The suggestion of the honorable member for Hunter is utterly impracticable. He spoke as if the bringing in of migrants were a particular hobby of my own. He ignored the fact that the Commonwealth Government does not bring in any migrants except at the request of the State Governments. In co-operation with the British Government it is assisting the States, by paying the passage money of migrants coming to Australia, but the only migrants thus assisted are those who are directly requisitioned by State Governments. The Government of one of the States may advise the Commonwealth that it requires, within a certain period, a stated number of farm labourers, domestic servants, and other types of migrants. Acting upon that requisition, the Commonwealth authorities in “the United Kingdom recruit those people and ship them to Australia, the British Government sharing with the Commonwealth the cost of transport. The. only other type of assisted migrant is the person who has been nominated by somebody already resident in Australia. But every such nomination must be approved by the State Government before it is acted upon by the Commonwealth. How idle it is for the Leader of the Opposition to charge the Commonwealth Government with the full responsibility for the introduction of migrants. Labour Governments in the States are just as much involved as Nationalist Governments. The State Governments, and they alone, decide how many nominated and assisted migrants shall be admitted each year. In addition to the classes I have mentioned, a limited number of boy migrants are introduced under various schemes, but I do not think that anybody questions the desirability of this form of migration.

The Leader of the Opposition made a spirited attack upon the Government in regard to foreign migrants, and said that Australia could easily adopt a system which would prescribe how many people from each country should be admitted to the Commonwealth each year. He stated, with great confidence, that migration was allowed by international agreement, through the League of Nations, to be a matter of domestic jurisdiction. It is true that we have been fighting in the Assembly of the League for a declaration of that principle, but it is not accepted by all nations, and undoubtedly this issue will one day be very stubbornly contested before the Assembly of the League. The honorable member is an ardent supporter of that organization ; he hopes, as we all do, that it will be able to play the great part for which it was conceived. But he must remember that the retention of this country, with an area slightly greater than that of the United States of America, for the exclusive use of our own people, and the restriction of migration to a small trickle, would not be acceptable to all the nations that belong to the League. The honorable gentleman endeavoured to buttress his contention by the statement that the United States of America has already instituted the quota system. Surely he overlooks the fact that the United States of America has a population of between 115,000,000 and 120,000,000 people. Australia, larger in area, and with resources as great, if not greater, has a bare 6,000,000 people. It is one thing for a nation with a population of between 115,000,000 and 120,000,000 people, to say to the world, “ We have reached the point of economic saturation, and must limit the number of people coming to our country;” it is quite a different thing for a country with a population of 6,000,000 people to say it. The honorable gentleman must recognize that if we took action to limit immigration by imposing a quota on the white nations just as we have gone very much further in regard to the immigration of people from coloured nations, we should be placing ourselves in a very difficult position. The step the honorable gentleman suggests is one that should be taken only in the last resort - when, for instance, our racial purity is imperilled, or when our national standards of living are in danger. Only then should we take action which might have far-reaching consequences to us. Have we reached the point at which, because our racial purity is imperilled or our national standards of living are endangered, it becomes necessary for us to take the definite, dramatic, and I suggest dangerous, action of imposing a quota on the white, nations?

The honorable gentleman has not raised the issue of racial purity, nor do I propose to do so, because the facts show that our racial purity, or even the standard of purity of 98 per cent. British we have set up is very unlikely to be endangered. But in regard to the number of migrants, in reference to which the honorable gentleman has quoted some figures, I propose also to give some figures which cover the period from 1925 to 1927. They disclose the fact that last year there was a considerable increase in migration from European countries other than Great Britain. As a matter of fact the number of arrivals in excess of departures was 9.1 OS, as compared with 5,739 in 1925, and 4,259 in 1926. That was certainly a substantial increase; but practically the whole of the increase from 4,259, in 1926, to U,108, in 1927, was accounted for by the increased Italian migration in 1927, the numbers having risen from 2,711, in 1926, to 6,500, in 1927. There might be some danger if that progressive increase in Italian migration were to continue, and we should have to give very serious thought to the problem; but the fact is that there is no likelihood of last year’s increase being maintained or augmented, because, as honorable members probably know, the Italian Government has adopted a very strong attitude towards the migration of its nationals into other countries. From the 1st August last restrictions on migration have been in operation. No’ Italian can get a passport to leave Italy as a migrant unless he has a definite contract of employment abroad, or has been nominated by close relatives residing in the country of destination. The only classes of relatives who are allowed to nominate under that clause are the husband who nominates a wife, parents who nominate their children, sons who nominate their parents, brothers who nominate their unmarried or widowed sisters, and grandchildren who nominate their grandparents. During 1927 Australia received 7,884 Italian immigrants, and in the same period 1,384 Italians left this country, the excess of arrivals over departures being 6,500. The new restrictions have not had much time to operate, but already are having a very marked effect on the flow of Italian migrants to Australia. The number of Italians arriving in January and February of the present year was 392 ‘and 339 respectively, as compared with 657, which was the average number arriving per month during the year 1927. The nomination papers issued by the consular officers in Australia from the 1st January to the 30th July, 1927, before the new regulations came into force, averaged 820 per month, whereas the average from the 1st August, 1927, to the 31st January last, after the imposition of the restrictions, was 130 per month. Honorable members will, therefore, see that there has been a definite falling off in Italian migration to Australia because of the restrictions imposed by the Italian Government; and as the Italian migrants form the great majority of those who are coming to Australia from European countries other than Great Britain, I think that honorable members will agree with me that the circumstances of the moment are not such as to make it advisable for Australia to adopt a provocative attitude or pursue the drastic action suggested by the Leader of the Opposition.

With, regard to immigration, generally from other countries, there is an arrangement in existence by which the number of passports vised by British Consuls for Jugo-Slavs, . Greeks and Albanians is limited to 100 a month, while Malta, although entitled to send 100 a month, in actual practice has not sent more than 25 a month. I suggest that we should be very well advised to leave alone the question of foreign migration into Australia. There is .every indication that the temporary increase of last year will not continue and the probability is that in the present year there will be a substantial diminution, of migration from European countries other than Great Britain.

The Leader of the Opposition has said that foreigners who are entering Australia are breaking down Australian. standards of living, and because of this he says that the whole of our national standards are in danger. The first point I put to the honorable gentleman is that, even if the number of foreign migrants should be last year’s high figure of 9,108, that number of migrants would not be in a position to destroy our national standards. I put it, also, to the honorable gentleman, that the overwhelming majority of these arrivals are good trade unionists, who join up with their unions immediately on arrival and observe the union awards and all the conditions laid down for the regulation of industry. Further, I suggest to him that, in regard to. any man who conies into Australia, not seeking employment but anxious to carve out his own way, whether on a farm or in a business, it would be a most extraordinary attitude for us to take up to tell him what he should do in his own individual life. It is one thing to dictate what a man may do with other people’s lives, but it would surprise me if, in Australia, we tolerated a government, or any other body of men, telling an individual working for himself what he may or may not do. I suggest, also, that there has been gross exaggeration in regard to the possibility of the undermining of Australian national standards. The great majority of the arrivals are trade unionists who observe trade union awards; but, even if a man on his arrival should take service in some industry and accept a wage under the award rate, action can be taken under State legislation. It is not a matter for the Commonwealth.

I have dealt with what the honorable gentleman has said the Government should have done to help in the matter of unemployment, and have shown that neither of the remedies he suggested would be effective. The honorable gentleman has twitted me time and again with having said that unemployment is not a problem for the Commonwealth. But I ask him seriously to think hard whether it is really his view that it is a Commonwealth problem. It cannot be; although indirectly, perhaps, this Parliament might give some relief in connexion with the tariff and migration. It would be a disastrous state of affairs to bring us into an arena which is rightly and properly that of the States. Unemployment is a matter for the States to regulate. We all know that it is a tragedy to find people unemployed, and if any practical scheme could be put forward ensuring that there would be no unemployment, and providing that every genuine .worker who wanted a job would get it, every honorable member, irrespective of party, would vote for it. But how is that to be brought about? Unemployment cannot be rooted out merely by providing doles and assistance. The only way, in my opinion, to get rid of it is to improve all industrial conditions in the country, to increase our efficiency, to extend our industries, and to build up markets inside and outside Australia, so that there will be ample avenues of employment. We cannot root out unemployment if ‘we regard as a golden remedy for every ill an increase in the tariff, or declare that not a solitary immigrant shall be permitted to come into this country. We may do it by the way I am trying to suggest to the people of Australia - by taking as a starting point a better understanding between employers and employees, and by creating a better spirit and a greater measure of cooperation in industry. If honorable members opposite would come in wholeheartedly and help me in that project they would, I believe, achieve more towards solving the problem of unemployment than they are likely to do than by submitting censure motions or adopting the means they have suggested for solving it.


.- The Prime Minister signally failed in his attempt to reply to the stinging indictment levelled against his Government by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). The Prime Minister’s speech consisted mainly of evasions. The right honorable gentleman always adopts the attitude of pretending that there is nothing to answer, though on this occasion he occupied over an hour, and made very heavy weather, in endeavouring to controvert the statements of the Leader of the Opposition. He asserted that no case had been made, but merely that certain problems had been outlined to which no solution had been suggested. One of the principle indictments of the Leader of the Opposition was that the Government was not only largely responsible for creating and accentuating our unemployment problem, but that it had done nothing whatever to solve it. He also made it quite clear that the Government had failed to protect Australian industries, and had allowed goods from other coun tries to flow into Australia in larger quantities than ever before. The right honorable gentleman made no attempt whatever to answer those charges. His speech on the tariff issue consisted almost wholly of free-trade arguments such as one does not expect to hear in these days from the Leader of a Commonwealth Government.

In respect of unemployment, the Prime Minister actually tried to prove that our position was improving. He denied that there was any acute unemployment in the country, and quoted certain official statistics to substantiate his case. I challenge the right honorable gentleman to deny that he endeavoured, by the figures he quoted, to show that unemployment in Australia had decreased instead of increased. There is an old saying that figures cannot lie, but that liars can figure. I do not desire to use the harsh term embodied in that quotation, but I say, deliberately, that the statistics quoted by the Prime Minister were misleading. In so far as he quoted the returns they were accurate, but he did not quote them fully, nor give the real effect ofthem. He cannot expect to pull the wool over the eyes of the people of Australia in that way, for they know too well that there is acute unemployment about them on every side. If there were no official figures and not a record of any kind on this matter in Australia, the common sense of the people would enable them torealize the seriousness of the situation. That there is serious unemployment here, and consequently much suffering by the people, is manifest on every hand. There is not a capital city, nor a town or village of any size in any one of the States in which people are not putting their heads together to devise ways and means of alleviating the distress that is being caused by unemployment. Instead of the Leader of the Government frankly admitting that this is so, and saying, “ We regret that the position is as it is, and will try to do something to meet it,’’ he evades the whole issue and all responsibility by denying that the problem exists. He said that the figures which he quoted were supplied by the trade unions, and that as the great bulk of workers in Australia are members of trade unions, the figures must be reliable. That statement was misleading. The Prime Minister should have been fair and said that the returns concerned only 445,000 out of 851,000 trade unionists in Australia, and that no returns had been submitted in respect of the balance. It is significant that he omitted to quote the figures for the final quarter of 1927. He compared certain periods in one year with similar periods in other years, but did not show that while there were 31,000 unemployed in Australia on the average for 1927, there were 38,641 registered as unemployed in the final quarter of the year. I repeat that those figures apply to only about half of the trade unionists in the country. The number of unemployed shown for the final quarter of 1927 was greater than that shown in any other table on the page of the document from which the right honorable gentleman quoted. In spite of this, we are told that there is nothing to worry about, and that we must not imagine that there is an unemployed problem in Australia. I wish that the right honorable gentleman lived in the industrial suburb where I live, and had unemployed men and women calling upon him day after day, and asking for work. I wish he had to pass through the experience that every honorable member on this side of the chamber has every week, of having to rack his brains and visit almost every industrial centre in his locality in an effort to find jobs for unemployed men whose wives and children are on the verge of starvation! He would not then coldly quote statistics in this chamber in an effort to mislead his colleagues and the country generally as to the unemployed position.

In referring to the flow of migration to Australia the Prime Minister made the astounding statement that as the number of migrants to a country increased, the number of unemployed in it decreased. Here is a new solution of the problem of unemployment!

Mr McGrath:

– There should be no unemployment in Great Britain.


– That is so. Great Britain, with ten times the population of Australia, should be able to find work for every employable person in the country. Instead of that, however, she is subsidizing migration to Australia. If the dictum of the right honorable gentleman were correct, countries with ten times or twenty times the population of Australia should be minus unemployment, and all that it would be necessary for us to do in order to abolish unemployment here would be to engage an extra line of steamers to dump more workers here. But would that solve our problem? We know that it would only accentuate it.

Unfortunately, the speech of the Prime Minister was full of sneers. He sneered at almost every statement made by the Leader of the Opposition, and particularly at the suggestion that migration to Australia should be suspended until the people already here are provided with employment. Perhaps the right honorable gentleman does not know thatthat suggestion has been made in other quarters. About a fortnight ago the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, who is not a Labour man, called a meeting in Melbourne to discuss the unemployed problem, because he was so impressed with the acuteness of it.

Mr Makin:

– The Lord Mayor of Adelaide convened a similar meeting.


-The object of these meetings of men representative of all sections of the community was to try to find means to provide work for the unemployed. At the meeting over which the Lord. Mayor of Melbourne presided, many suggestions were made to cope with the problem. One reverend gentleman proposed the entire suspension of migration for the time being. His suggestion met with considerable support. He pointed out - and I say this in reply to certain remarks of the Prime Minister in connexion with nominated migrants - that although people in this country who nominate migrants from abroad undertake the responsibility of finding work for the newcomers on their arrival, this is often not done. Many nominators shirk their responsibilities in this regard. Within the last few weeks the head of a family which came to Australia by nomination, called upon me to see whether I could do anything to secure a passport for him and his family to go back to their home. He informed me that the Migration Department would not grant him a passport unless he paid the money already due in respect of the outward passage of his family. The man had sufficient money to pay his way back to England, but not to pay the money due to the Department for fares out here.

Mr Makin:

– A similar case has come under my notice.


– I have also learned during my travels through the country districts of Victoria - and I presume similar things are happening in the other States - that migrants who go to rural areas to work and find it necessary to change their place of residence frequently in order to keep work, are pursued by members of the police force, acting under instructions from the Migration Department, and requested to pay the money due by them in respect of their passage to Australia. This duty is abhorrent to the police, and they should not be called upon to do it.

The Prime Minister made the suggestion that the speech of the Leader of the Opposition was provocative, and that members of the League of Nations might have something to say about it. Even if the right honorable gentleman is prepared, as a disciple of Imperialism, to bow the knee always to the Imperial Government, surely he does not intend to go so far as to bow the knee to the Government of every nation which has membership of the League of Nations. There would be nothing provocative in this Government intimating to the Governments of other countries that so long as we have an acute unemployed problem here, with more people on the verge of starvation than for many years past, we intend to call a halt in migration.

In endeavouring to reply to the tariff issues raised by the Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister made a comparison between Australia and the United States of America, and said that our tariff percentage was higher than that of other countries. There could be no proper analogy between Australia and the United States of America. It is well known that America built up her industries by the help of a very high protective tariff policy. She prevented other countries from capturing her home market, and then developed her industries to such a point of efficiency, and with such marvellous organization, that she is now able to reduce her tariff and compete with the world.

Mr Watkins:

– B - But her tariff still contains elastic clauses.


– T - That is so. At the moment I am not particularly concerned with tariff percentages; but with the fact that goods from overseas are coming here in a greater ratio than ever before. The Prime Minister used an illustration which he seemed to think completely answered the case of the Leader of the Opposition. He said that we should not be justified in setting up machinery in Australia at a cost of £500,000 or more for the purpose of rolling plates for the cruisers which the Government required. But he forgot to mention that practically all the other work that was required on the cruisers could have been done here. Even if it were not economical to roll the plates in Australia, the cruisers should have been built here. In alm ost his next ‘breath the right honorable gentleman said that we must establish certain industries in Australia, whether it was economical to do so or not, if they were necessary for defence purposes. Surely the Government believes that tho cruisers are necessary for the defence of Australia, else why should it order them at a cost of about £5,000,000? I am astounded that the Prime Minister should have flouted in our faces at this stage the fact that the cruisers are being built abroad.

We have been told that the protectionist policy of the Government is scientific. My reply is that it is mediocre. A reasonable and effective protectionist policy for Australia would be that outlined by the Leader of the Opposition; but it only met with sneers from the Leader of the Government. The right honorable gentleman’s speech was a free-trade deliverance, such as might be expected any time from the representatives of big importers of foreign goods. That the policy of the Government does not adequately protect Australian goods is shown quite clearly by the official records.

The imports into Australia last year were valued at, approximately, £164,000,000, and about £100,000,000 worth of those goods could have been manufactured here. If goods of that value were manufactured here, the position would be easier; but the Prime Minister said that the adoption of such a policy would interfere with our export trade. That is a good old free-trade argument. Does any one suggest that, in order to get a good market for our products, we must necessarily increase our imports? The contention of honorable, members on this side of the chamber is that to provide the best market for goods produced in this country we should build up our secondary industries. It would assist the development of this country if, for instance, we sent more wheat from th« Mallee in Victoria to Melbourne, and more manufactured goods from Melbourne to the Mallee, instead of exporting wheat from Melbourne to London and importing goods from Great Britain. The policy of establishing local markets is pursued by America. In lofty accents the right honorable gentleman said that we are moving towards a system of scientific protection; but he did not explain what he meant by “ scientific “ protection. He referred incidentally to the strong protectionist policy of his party. I should like to know what the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), the Leader of the Country party, who once strongly advocated freetrade, thought of the right honorable gentleman’s utterances concerning the great protectionist policy of the party with which he is associated. The Prime Minister said that the Government of which he is the leader had done more to protect Australian industries than, any other government. This is only a hybrid, and not a real, protectionist administration. I admit that the tariff has been amended by this Government on four different occasions; but it has only been tinkered with, and that has been done more frequently by this than any other administration. It would be interesting to know how the right honorable gentleman can justify his assertion that we have an effective protectionist policy, when the flow of imports is much greater than it has ever been. The Prime Minister also attempted to justify the present adverse trade balance, and endeavoured to obtain some consolation from the fact that his previous utterances upon this subject had, he alleged, had some influence upon the Leader of the Opposition. On this occasion, the Leader of the Opposition did not deal with the subject as exhaustively as he did some time ago when he was specifically referring to our trade balance. To-day, he only mentioned the subject in passing, but he still believes in the principle which he enunciated some time ago. The Prime Minister repeated many of the arguments he brought forward on a previous occasion, which did not impress honorable members on this side of the chamber any more to-day than they did then. In effect, the Prime Minister said to-day that an adverse trade balance is’ a sign of prosperity. He quoted figures to prove his assertion, and endeavoured to show that when a nation has an adverse trade balance it is in a prosperous state. That may be true in special circumstances, as when a nation is a creditor, having money owing to it abroad, the interest on which is paid in the form of imported goods. It is childish, however, to suggest that Australia is so placed. The right honorable gentleman quoted the United States of America, with an adverse trade balance of $509,000,000, which is equivalent to over £100,000,000. If we divide that amount by 20 to allow for the difference in population, we get as the result £5,000,000 which would be the amount of our adverse trade balance were we in the same position as America. The Prime Minister tried to make honorable members believe that the adverse trade balance of America of 509,000,000 dollars is greater than that of Australia, whereas it is only about one-fourth of it when allowance is made for the difference in population.


– The Prime Minister’s figures were specially selected.


– Yes. Why is there an adverse trade balance in America? America has become the largest moneylender in the world. She has loaned millions of dollars to other nations and is receiving interest in the form of imports. Australia is not in that happy position. The Prime Minister paid a very poor compliment to the intelligence of honorable members.


– The Minister for Trade and Customs will not agree with the Prime Minister’s statement.


– That is so. TheMinister for Trade and Customs, when in Great Britain, made a statement which still stands, and which is a complete answer to the specious arguments adduced this afternoon by the Leader of the Government. The Prime Minister went on to say that the private capital borrowed abroad was to some extent responsible for importations. That is true; but only to a limited extent. Capitalists do not possess the same faclities as do governments for borrowing abroad. Companies such as Paterson, Laing and Bruce and others with their head offices in London and branches in Australia, do such borrowing. The firm I mentioned has borrowed money abroad upon debentures at certain periods, but it is only such firms that are able to. In attempting to describe the policy of the Labour party, the Prime Minister tried to be humorous or sarcastic, by suggesting that the party of which I am a member has brought this matter forward to secure votes. No one would suggest that the policy of the Prime Minister is likely to bring his party additional votes. When he opened the election campaign in 1925, he warned the electors to beware of any promisemaking, and said that he was unlike other Prime Ministers, who made promises whenever they appeared upon the political platform. He said he would not follow their example; but immediately announced that if his party were returned to power, it would provide £20,000,000 for roads, £20,000,000 for housing, and introduce a national insurance scheme to ensure against unemployment and sickness, and also a child endowment scheme. He has said that the members of the Labour party have promised a paradise for the workers in order to get their votes. The difference between the leaders of the two parties is that our leader keeps his promises, whilst the Prime Minister does not. He has had ample opportunity during the two and a half years he has been in office to fulfil his promises to the people made during the election campaign. The Prime Minister said today that it was criminal to make promises. He further said that not only was it criminal to make promises, but it was silly to think that you could pass a law and all would be well. I invite the attention of honorable members to some of the promises which the Prime Minister made, and what, in his opinion, was to result from the mere passing . of an act of Parliament. I refer honorable members to the speech delivered by the right honorable gentlemen on moving the second reading of the Development and Migration Bill, when he said -

We can absorb only a limited number of migrants, but we can increase that number by carrying out useful and wise developmental works.

Where are the developmental works? Later he said -

Save for that floating proportion which cannot be absorbed under any system I hope that the policy of development provided for by the bill will ensure that we shall have no unemployed.

The passing of that measure was to insure that there would be no unemployment. The Leader of the Government in the Senate, (Sir George Pearce), in introducing the bill in that Chamber was even more emphatic as he said - “ The general policy of development provided by the bill will ensure that we shall have no unemployed.” To-day we are told by the Prime Minister that the problem of unemployment is not one with which the Commonwealth has to grapple. Senator Pearce also said “It is easier to bring migrants to Australia than to provide employment for them when they arrive.” Later, he said, “ Fears are expressed that migrants will swell the ranks of unemployed,” he added “ That is not possible under our policy and our political safeguards.” All I can say is that the impossible has happened, and that under the Government’s migration policy together with other of its acts, unemployment in Australia is greater now than it has been for many years.’ The net immigration to Australia was greater in 1927 than in any other year for the past sixteen years. It has been increasing, and at the same time, we have been spending large sums of money to foster it. For the financial year 1927-28 the administrative cost of immigration is estimated at £143,000, whilst the money to be spent on passages and medical fees will amount to £300,000 making a total of £443,000. It has been said that the members of the Labour party do not wish those from across the seas to share in the good things which Australia has to offer. I join with the Leader of the Opposition in saying that we have no selfish feeling regarding those in other parts of the world, particularly our own kith and kin. We have, however, such a regard for our fellow workers in other countries that we do not wish them to be brought 12,000 miles to be stranded in Australia. That is what is happening now in consequence of the misleading literature that is being distributed in several languages throughout Europe. I quote an extract from the “Age” of the 4th October, 1927-

Amongst the passengers brought by the R.M.S. Narkunda yesterday was Lady Headley who has been in England for five months on business. Commenting on the Australian “migration system she strongly condemned the lecturers on Australia who travelled around the English provinces telling the people extravagant stories about this country and drawing an altogether false picture of it. The result was that the immigrants came out here expecting to be dropped on a land flowing with milk and honey in which they would rapidly accumulate wealth. It was wrong in principle to have such paid lecturers going around spreading such misleading notions about Australia.

That is a strong indictment. In fairness to the migrants and to our own people, misleading statements should not be made, particularly when the unemployed problem is so serious. The suggestion has been made by the Prime Minister and others that as the Labour party advocated economy in finance it must share in the responsibility for any curtailment of developmental works. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition in saying that we have not condemned the expenditure of public money on reproductive works, but have .criticized the Government’s action in wasting money particularly on works which are not reproductive, which action is economically unsound. I shall give one illustration of what we complain of. During the last four years this government has borrowed from abroad £1,000,000 for the payment of passages for immigrants.

The right honorable gentleman said that it was a pity that governments years ago had not thought of dealing with questions by appointing royal commissions to’ consider them. I say that it is indeed fortunate for this country that we have not had a government such as this in office for twenty years. Since this government took office in 1923, it has appointed sixteen royal commissions, costing £47,000; nine advisory committees, costing £17,000; and twelve permanent boards and commissions, costing £350,000; totalling in all £414,000. In addition the government, has reduced direct taxation for this year alone by £1,800,000. Then, when we ask why developmental works are not undertaken, it says that it has no money for such purposes. I do not propose to speak at length to-day, as the position has been ably put by the Leader of the Opposition. The outstanding fact is that we have unemployment in our midst, more acute than it has been for a score of years, and» at a time of the year when there should be little unemployment. The Prime Minister said that the Labour party does not believe in immigrants coming to this country. Yet he quoted figures to show that more immigrants came to Australia during the three years that Labour was in office than during any other year.

Mr Forde:

– And there was less unemployment.


– That is so. He, of course, assumed that because immigration had increased, unemployment had decreased, but that was not the explanation. The Labour Government then in office dealt with the problem as it arose. Let me give one illustration. It imposed a federal land tax, which, in the first year of its operations, was responsible for the breaking up of £22,000,000 worth of large estates. There was then activity all over the country, and as the demand for land was being met development increased to such an extent that immigrants were attracted to this country. That Government did not borrow one penny to promote that development, and no unemployment was occasioned by the absorption of immigrants. Its policy was entirely different from that of this Government. The Prime Minister concluded his remarks by saying that he did not believe in giving doles to the workers. Although I do not advocate the payment of doles, I contend that transcending any law made by any government, whether Commonwealth or State, should be the guaranteeing to every human being of the right to live. As the mass of the people of this country have to work in. order to live, they have a right to employment, and it is our responsibility to see that they get it. The Prime Minister has said that that is not the responsibility of this Parliament ; but when he last faced the electors and made lavish promises to them he had a different view-point. He sympathized with the unemployed, and he promised to introduce a national insurance scheme, including provision for unemployment. Just prior to the elections the organization behind this Government issued extensive literature and published a booklet containing facts for speakers and candidates, and I’ ask honorable members to contrast one quotation from the booklet with the Prime Minister’s cold-blooded utterance today. It reads, “The Government will bring down a great and far-reaching scheme of national unemployment insurance.’’ That was broadcast throughout Australia twenty months ago; yet what has been clone? A royal commission has inquired into the subject, and its investigations have cost this country £11,495. One of its recommendations was that a scheme of national unemployment insurance should be established. Not one finger has been lifted to give effect to that or any other recommendation, despite the profuse promises of the Prime Minister prior to the elections.

Mr McGrath:

– The Government found a job for the chairman of that commission.


– The Government finds jobs for men on good salaries, but nothing is done for the workers of this country. In Great Britain, which we regard as being conservative compared with this and other countries, there is an unemployment’ insurance scheme, and about 12,000,000 workers are covered by it, and they receive during unemployment in out-of-work pay approximately £40,000,000 a year. For Australia there is no such scheme. While the

Leader of the Opposition was .speaking this afternoon one honorable member interjected, “What about strikes?” The Prime Minister also referred in indirect terms to the need for a better spirit in industry. Honorable members behind the Government never fail to refer to the loss of time and wages through strikes and lockouts, and nobody deplores that loss and inconvenience more than I do; but they never utter one word of sympathy for the men who are out of work, not because of strikes, but because of lack of employment. In wages alone about £1,000,000 is lost every year in Australia because of strikes, and about £15,000,000 because of lack of employment. Honorable members behind the Government say nothing about the loss of £15,000,000, but refer only to the loss of £1,000^.000. The Prime Minister spoke of the need for a better spirit in industry, to prevent the wages loss of £1,000,000, but I go further, and say that to solve the problem of industrial unrest we must take into account the loss of £15,000,000 because of lack of employment. I challenge honorable members to show that there is more industrial unrest to-day than there has been previously. Although industrial unrest is on the wane, unemployment is gaining ground. The Prime Minister has failed to comprehend the situation. He has left unanswered the indictment of the Leader of the Opposition, and has made no suggestion for relief to our workers. He is anxious to protect only the importer, who for years past has brought foreign goods here and helped to throw our own men out of employment. The speech of the right honorable gentleman this afternoon, although it will give delight to freetraders and the importers, will undoubtedly depress the workers of this country. There is in it no gleam of hope nor ray of sunshine to lighten their hearts, despite the fact that thousands of them are on the verge of penury. The Prime Minister suggested to-day that the attitude of the Opposition tended to destroy the credit of this country abroad ; but we have to face our conditions and the evils that exist in order to relieve the sufferings of the workers. It is not criticism of the Government, but’ its own action that Will weaken the credit of this country. Australia is one of the greatest countries in the world, and avc have faith in its possibilities. It is a damaging indictment of the existing social system that in this rich undeveloped country any of our people should be denied the right and means to work


.- The smug complacency of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) this afternoon, when attempting to answer the serious indictment by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) certainly showed that he had a poor appreciation, of the gravity of the situation that confronts Australia to-day. I viewed Avith astonishment his indifference to the sufferings and poverty of our unemployed, who congregate not only in tho capital cities of the Commonwealth, but also in almost every town and hamlet. The Prime Minister has certainly failed in his duty in not being prepared to accept certain suggestions made by the Leader of the Opposition to meet what might be regarded as the most serious crisis in the economic affairs of this Commonwealth. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition stated this afternoon, unemployment has become so acute that certain civic authorities have convened a meeting of citizens and local civic authorities Avith the object of alleviating to some extent the acute distress that- exists especially in the industrial centres of Australia. Many factories have had either to retrench or to work part time. They are suffering from inadequate protection against unfair foreign competition. ^ The Government has given partial relief at times to- various industries ; but it has not been sufficient to enable those industries to nourish. At all times there has been great reluctance on the part of the Ministry to give anything like adequate protection to industries which, if encouraged, A’/ould absorb a great number of our unemployed and thus strengthen Australia’s credit and standing. These industries are to-day finding it difficult to carry on, and the Government should at least give an assurance to industries that they will have every facility and encouragement for expanding their operations. Thousands of Australians* are asking themselves this tremendously important question - “ Why am I out of work “ ? The majority of them are the best workers to be found in any part of the world. They are anxious to become useful members of society by securing work to provide for their own needs, and contributing in return valued service to community life, thus helping to build up the nation to which they belong. At present there is no outlet for their energies. They cannot secure employment, and consequently are without the means to provide for their domestic requirements. Enforced idleness in a country so rich in productive possibilities as is Australia, is a serious indictment of the system that permits that state of affairs to exist, and of the Government that is responsible for it. Therefore, if Ministers are not disposed to accept the suggestions of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) for solving the problem, they deserve the most scathing condemnation. Another matter that is agitating the minds of the people is the Government’s policy of allowing migrants to come to this country to swell the army of Australians already out of work, and to jeopardize the interests of workers on part time. Why should Australians be subjected to this unfair competition? The workers meet loyally all the burdens that are laid upon them as citizens of Australia, and therefore they have a right to expect adequate protection in employment. I do not suggest that migrants who in this way interfere with the employment of Australian citizens are willing parties to what occurs. They are obliged by the economic forces that drive them to engage in work immediately they arrive in Australia; often in circumstances and under conditions that are most unfair. I speak particularly of the competition in the labour market from Southern European migrants. These people are in many respects a menace to Australian workers. Because of their lack of knowledge concerning Australian conditions, the difficulties they experience in understanding our language, and their failure to comprehend the nature of Australian industrial laws and Australian standards of living, which are immeasurably higher than those of the countries from which they -come,’ they readily accept employment under conditions that are not fair to themselves and are a menace to the workers of Australia. I emphatically protest against the remissness of the Government in this matter. If it had due regard for its obligations, it would not have permitted the present state of affairs to exist, and certainly would have taken prompt steps to prevent its continuance. The people, generally, are incensed at the action of the Government in allowing migrants from overseas to compete unfairly in the Australian labour market. This resentment is accentuated by the failure of the Government to take any steps to check the influx of migrants from Southern Europe. Prior to the last adjournment of the House I challenged a statement made by the Prime Minister in reply to a deputation that waited upon him from the Australian Natives’ Association to direct attention to the fact that Southern Europeans were finding their way to Australian shores in unduly large numbers. The right honorable gentleman stated that his Government had every sympathy with the views of the deputation, and added that the Government had adopted a quota system to rectify the position. An examination of the scheme shows that the quota for Greece and Albania, for example, will permit of the introduction of twice the number of migrants that came from those countries last year, so that actually the quota system mentioned by the Prime Minister encourages those countries to send more people to Australia. This arrangement does not meet with the wishes of this country. Unemployment is the worst advertisement for any country. Hitherto, by reason of her advanced social and industrial standards, Australia has stood high in the estimation of people in other parts of the world. If we permit the present unfortunate situation to continue we shall bring discredit upon the Commonwealth, and there will be an impression created abroad that, after all, our standard of living is more or less fictitious and unreal. I sincerely hope that steps will be taken to meet the situation, so that the prestige of the Commonwealth will not be impaired. Up to the present the Government has given no indication of ‘ its desire to meet this economic crisis. For this omission it deserves the strongest censure. Let me cite the position in my own State, which, unfortunately, is suffering for the administrative sins of National and Liberal governments - :so far as the Commonwealth is concerned the parties to the coalition are practically one and the same. The Government represents the conservative views of the community, so it matters not whether it be called a composite, national, or liberal government. It has imposed a pernicious reactionary policy upon the community. The same may be said of the South Australian so-called Liberal administration. As a consequence of this . policy in the Federal and State arenas unemployment in South Australia is at its peak; and is occasioning serious concern to all who have the welfare of that State at heart. During the regime of the State Labour Government in 1926, and for the first quarter of 1927, the figures relating to unemployment showed that adequate steps were being taken by the Labour administration to meet the situation. The number of unemployed to population in the first quarter of 1926 was 5 per cent.; in the second quarter it was 4.4 per Cent ; in the third quarter, 6.6 per cent. ; in the fourth quarter, 4.4 per cent.; and in the first quarter of 1927, it was 3.7 per cent. Since the Liberal or Composite government has been in office there has been a change for the worse. During the second quarter of 1926 the number of unemployed to population rose to 5.6, in the third quarter it mounted to 8.9, and in the fourth quarter to 10.7.

Mr Scullin:

– How does the fourth quarter during the regime of the Liberal Government compare with the fourth quarter under Labour administration ?


– The number of unemployed rose from 4.4 under Labour rule to 10.7 under the Liberal Government.

Mr Blakeley:

– Tha That is a matter which the Prime Minister did not mention.


– Exactly. The Prime Minister seeks to place the whole of .the responsibility with regard to unemployment upon the States. This Government, by its legislative measures during the last two or three years, has created a great deal of uncertainty concerning the financial relations of the several States. It has set out to re-arrange the basis upon which the Commonwealth and the. States met their mutual obligations, and has materially interfered with the financial proposals and policies of the States. So serious is the position caused by the unsatisfactory financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States, that the Government of South Australia has greatly curtailed its public works programme, and introduced a policy of retrenchment and short time, even going to the extent of failing to honour arbitration awards. The feeling of uncertainty has spread to those engaged in private enterprise ; many private employers have either reduced their staffs or put them on short time. The result is that the army of unemployed in South Australia to-day is greater than it has been for 30 years. For the poverty and distress which, unfortunately, is the lot of many workers in that State, the Governments of both the Commonwealth and the State are largely responsible. The Prime Minister said that Australia’s present unsatisfactory position was largely due to last season’s harvest falling far short of that of recent years. It is true that the 1927-28 wheat harvest was not equal to that which was gathered during the six or seven preceding years; but it was, nevertheless, a good one. Admittedly, there were instances of drought and partial failure of the wheat crops in portions of Australia ; but, taking Australia as a whole, the return was much better than the Prime Minister would have us believe. “We, on this side, do not ask for an unemployment dole, or that the workless shall be given sustenance. We do ask, however, that they shall be provided with employment so that they and their dependents may no longer be required to go without the necessaries of life. It is not right that any man, woman or child should be on the verge of starvation in this land of plenty. At no .time have I advocated violence; but I say unhesitatingly that nothing so incites men or women to deeds of violence as deprivation of the opportunity of maintaining themselves and their dependents. Opponents of the Labour party have charged its leaders with the desire to foment trouble and revolution; but they are wrong. The Labour party desires to injure no one; its aim is a well-regulated system of government which will ensure regular and remunerative employment for the people. The representations we make at this moment prove that we desire to relieve a desperate position and to ensure peace, order and a respect for constitutional government. In South Australia the industrial position is indeed acute. The gravity of the position there has been aggravated by the action of the State Government in imposing further heavy taxation, which is especially burdensome on the workers who are in employment or have been and may not be to-day. Even those workers who receive less than the basic wage are required to pay income tax. The disabilities suffered by South Australia under federation should be investigated. This depression has been accentuated by the curtailment of works in federal departments and in particular that of the Postmaster-General.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) this afternoon mentioned the case of an immigrant, who, having found conditions in South Australia unsatisfactory, desired to return to his own country. When he applied for a passport, the Immigration department demanded from him the difference between the amount paid by a nominated migrant and the ordinary passage money. A similar episode Avas brought under my notice in the city of Adelaide. The incident illustrates the reprehensible advertising policy pursued by Our Immigration Office in London. A man, his wife and family, came to Australia because of the inducement offered by a Commonwealth advertisement which appeared in London. The advertisement, set out in big headlines, intimated that bricklayers were needed in Australia, and received up to £10 a week. Being a first-class bricklayer, and feeling confident that such a position awaited .him, this man sold his home in England and set out for Australia, Avith the intention of becoming a good Australian citizen.

He spent the greater part of the money realized by the sale of his home in furnishing a home in Australia. He discovered, a few weeks after he had landed in this country, that the Commonwealth advertisements which appeared in Loudon were misleading, and that he had suffered serious injustice. Contrary to the promise of the advertisement, no position Avas available for him and he was unable to obtain employment of any kind. Paced with the prospect of continuous unemployment, he came to the determination that there Avas no room for him in Australia, as this country Avas economically unable to absorb him. His little capital had fast dwindled, and he was obliged to sell his few sticks of furniture, which realized about £30. He Avas compelled to ask his friends for assistance in order to make up his return passage to England. When he applied for his passport the Immigration Department made a demand similar to that pre- viously mentioned. The unfortunate man Avas induced to come to Australia by false promises of remunerative employment, and it Avas certainly heaping coals of fire on his head to demand money from him when he attempted to return to a country where he could find employment.

This Government has much to answer for, and if it fails to recognize and cope with its responsibilities the people of Australia Will see that a Government more alert to its obligations, and more keen to institute equitable administration, is returned to power. This party has no wish to make political capital of the incidents I have mentioned; we are merely actuated by a desire to bring about a solution of our present problems. We wish to feel that our workers enjoy that security of employment and home comfort that they are justified in expecting in a country such as ours. The motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition embodies the desire of this party and of the majority of the people of Australia to urge upon the Government the necessity of facing its responsibilities and remedying the distressful conditions now existing in Australia. If the government fails to heed the words of counsel that we now proffer, and refuses to afford the necessary relief to our necessitous citizens it will be answerable to the electors of Australia. The position in South Australia is most grave, and I have no doubt that similar conditions exist in the other states of Australia. Prominent South Australian business men have been public-spirited enough to assist those in distress, and there has been a revival of the soup kitchen in Adelaide. One man provided 5,000 pints of soup for those who needed it. The necessity for that action does not reflect credit on the Commonwealth Government, and the facts would be a deplorable advertisement if broadcast. Many of our unemployed in Adelaide are forced to seek shelter in the parks. A number had a camp in the vicinity of a gaol, but the conditions were so unhygienic that the health inspector visited the locality and compelled the men to leave ii. Many sought shelter in the railway yards of Adelaide, but at midnight they were visited by the police and forced to tramp the streets of the city that night without shelter of any kind. It is unfortunate, when such conditions exist, that we should have a Commonwealth Government that is so lacking in its sense of duty that it remains apathetic. This Government is so insensible of its duty, and so unmindful of the seriousness of the position, that it refuses to admit that these conditions exist.

I desire to pay a well-earned tribute to the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) for his humane and very genuine endeavour to help the unemployed of South Australia. Many a worker has been afforded some measure of relief by the generosity and practical support of the honorable member. He has, in one hour, shown more practical sympathy in his endeavour to ameliorate existing conditions than has the Government during these months of depression. Honorable members on this side have no desire to seek publicity in a matter of this description, but we do desire this Government to become alive to its moral obligations to the citizens of Australia, and to the need for immediate and adequate action. As lawabiding citizens our unemployed should feel that they will be afforded a full measure of protection and security against the wretchedness and poverty that now so abundantly prevail in Australia.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin), with his irrefutable logic and convincing documentary evidence, exposed the hollow nature of the Prime Minister’s equivocations, and it was the duty of a Minister to rise in an endeavour to justify the inaction of his Government. No effective reply has been made to the exposure by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) of the weak and unreal defence attempted by the Prime Minister in reply to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). However, it appears that, living in a position of affluence, and representing truly the moneyed class of this country, having no cognizance of the circumstances confronting the working people, who are subject to unemployment and the influences of trade depression, the members of the Government have no idea or appreciation of what it means to a man to be out of employment. Therefore, one cannot, perhaps, be altogether surprised by their indifference to this serious problem ; nor at the fact that they are lacking in a desire to remedy the position. They go on making their specious plea for the moneyed.people, and continue to grant special concessions to them in the form of remissions- of taxation. The Government gives relief to those who can well afford to bear their share ‘of the burdens of life, but it has no sympathy with those people in the less fortunate walks of life - who are compelled by circumstances to do menial work. The Government is prepared to allow them to drift still further into the morass of distress and disaster. Although the existing situation brings discredit on the country in the eyes of other peoples, destroys our influence, and prejudices us in the councils of. the nations, the Government is not sufficiently alive to its responsibilities to recognize the damaging effect of its indifference. It allows things to drift on, hoping that time itself will provide the solution. The Government has in its own hands the means of providing relief, and of solving the problem. If it is not prepared to give its time and wisdom to the solution of this urgent and pressing problem, the people of Australia will at no distant date take the opportunity of reminding this Administration that it has neglected its duty, and will entrust the work of government to those who are prepared to carry it on properly, and thereby conserve the well-being of each and every citizen.

Sitting sus fended from 6.15 to S n.m.


.- The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) has called the attention of this House to the serious problem of unemployment, which, he has maintained, is apparent in all the States of the Commonwealth. I am inclined to agree that the problem in some of the States, at all events, is serious. It is the result of what has happened in the past. As we sow, so shall we reap. In many cases, the unemployment which exists to-day is the result of the rash, hasty and ill-considered legislation passed by various State Labour Governments, their extravagant expenditure, their over-bor- rowing, and observance of the policy of “ Borrow, boom and burst.” They have brought about deficits by the wholesale pouring out of money for political purposes, irrespective of whether or not it would prove to be productive. Labour Governments in the various States have ignored every warning that has been sounded, have neglected to provide any safeguard, and have disregarded every economic consideration. They have lived only for the day; and now’ that the time has come to reap the harvest of their recklessness and wilful indifference to the consequences, the Leader of the Opposition


– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member for Parramatta permitted to read his speech ?

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Sir Littleton Groom:

– An honorable member is not permitted to read his speech; but in this House the practice is followed by honorable members who sit on both sides of refreshing their memory from notes. That, I consider, is a very proper procedure.


– The effect of those propensities of Labour governments to which I have referred is apparent to any person who has studied, the condition of affairs that has existed in the States during the last five or six years. Yet’ the Leader of the Opposition has the impudence to suggest that the position in which we now find ourselves is the result of the administration of the Commonwealth Government! I remind honorable members that no government which has administered the affairs of the Commonwealth has done more than the present Administration to assist the States financially. Honorable members must be able to recall numerous instances of this Government having gone out of its way to restore the finances of the States. It has endeavoured to induce them to adopt a sound and a sane policy in regard to expenditure, but its efforts have been in vain. The unemployment problem has been accentuated in the State of New South Wales by the extravagance of the Lang Government, its mismanagement of the affairs of the State, and the illconsidered legislation that it brought forward. I refer particularly to the Workmen’s Compensation Act, and to that which relates to child endowment.

Mr Blakeley:

– Will Mr. Bavin repeal that legislation ?


– If he is given time, he will repeal much legislation passed by the Lang Government. Everybody is desirous of dealing in some way with child endowment. I hope that before this session is brought to a close we shall have an opportunity to legislate with respect to that matter in the light of the report of the royal commission which is at present inquiring into it. A more undigested, illframed, ill-thought-out piece of legislation has never been placed on the statute book than that in connexion with child endowment, which was passed by the Lang Government. That and the act relating to Workers’ Compensation have struck at the industries of New South Wales a blow greater than any other act which has been passed in the last 25 years. Three or four years ago, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) warned Labour supporters of what would be the consequence of dragging into the arena of politics and legislation these industrial questions, which, he said, could be better settled outside that arena.

Mr Theodore:

– They were very sensible remarks.


– T - They were so sensible that I shall now repeat them. The honorable member was at that time the Premier of Queensland. I quote from the Brisbane Daily Standard of the 6th December, 1923, a speech which was delivered by the honorable member to a conference of industrialists that was held at Emu Park.

Mr Theodore:

– Oan the honorable member vouch for the accuracy of that report ?


– I have consulted two or three later newspapers but have been unable to find any contradiction of the report by the honorable member.

Mr Theodore:

– A Labour premier cannot keep track of all that the newspapers say against him.


– Does the honorable member deny the accuracy of the report ?

Mr Theodore:

– The honorable member is taking the responsibility of quoting from it. I merely wish to know whether he can vouch for its accuracy.


– This is what the honorable member is reported to have said : -

I want to show why the Government did not think it wise to legislate for a 44-hour week. There are consequences which hit the worker as well as others in matters of this kind.

He then went on to argue that these were not matters for legislation hut should be determined by the Arbitration court. The report goes on to say -

The Premier considered it more desirable to accomplish such reforms as a 44-hour week through the Arbitration court. When a matter was submitted to the court consideration was given to the economic question.

The 44-hour week was one of those questions, so far as legislative action was concerned. “It might be said by critics that I am really advocating an employers’ policy and not a Labour policy. I want to assure you that there is nothing of that sort in it. The -Labour policy must be founded on practicability. We have never set ourselves up as dreamers or theorists merely picturing in our minds a celestial paradise impossible to achieve. It is no use putting into a platform a theory which is impracticable of operation.” The Premier added that to knock off four hours a week would reduce the productive capacity of an industry, roughly 8i per cent. Some would say that by reducing hours production was not reduced at all, that there was greater efficiency. Unhappily that was not the case. He was speaking with experience as the head of an administration administering nationalized industries as well as others. He did not want to deceive them by saying that the 44-hour week had not been legislated upon because the Government had not the time. The reason was that it was not good policy, by legislation, to hamper or interfere with’ the free exercise by the Arbitration Court of its duties. “ I say the legislature is not the instrument to effect that kind of reform. If it were, there would be no need for arbitration at all. We cannot hope to reform the world by legislation. There are a great many industries that can be cured by legislation; but these industrial matters, bearing directly on the economic well-being of the country, can’ better be dealt with by the unions in the Arbitration Court.”

If those words of warning had been borne in mind by the honorable member and his party, it would have been very much’ better for the working people of not only New South Wales, but also Australia generally; there would have been very much less unemployment to-day if the precepts that the honorable member there laid down had been followed by his party Where he stands to-day, I do not know. His motives were questioned by many of his followers ; yet to-day he sits in this House as the representative of an electorate in a State other than that over whose destinies he then presided.

The Leader of the Opposition also dealt with migration. His statements under that head have been replied to very fully by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), who has shown that in matters relating to migration the policy of this Government is, and always has been, to act in co-operation with the governments of the States.


– What has this Government done?


– It has been responsible, in co-operation with the States, for the migration to Australia of a large number of very good men. Honorable members opposite have referred to the failure of some immigrants. In any policy of migration there will be isolated cases of failure.

Mr Watkins:

– They are pretty general.


– I think they are isolated. The vast majority of immigrant) . have settled down and become effective . units of the population of this country. A few new arrivals have returned to the country of their birth; but I know of some who, having returned, realized how much they had left behind in Australia and sought to come here a second time. Migration is not a subject which the people of the Commonwealth can baulk, having regard to the present state of the world’s population. We have no moral right to hold this country, comparatively empty, while in Europe and Asia hundreds of millions of people are congested in areas of no greater extent. The United States of America, with practically the same area as the Commonwealth, has a population of from 115,000,000 to 120,000,000. Honorable members opposite admit in general terms that some system .of migration is necessary, but we look to them in vain for any practical suggestion. In effect, they declare that, until all the people now here are satisfactorily employed, no others shall be introduced. Apparently they evade the problem, because they are afraid to antagonize their supporters. T have noticed that often the strongest opponents of migration are men who have been in Australia a comparatively short time; having established themselves in comfort, they seem determined that nobody else shall share the privileges and prosperity they enjoy. The clear duty of the Government is to endeavour to build up within a reasonable time a great nation in this Commonwealth, equal in numbers, power, and prestige, to any other nation in the world, and capable of ensuring the maintenance of those principle’s which have been the glory of the British Empire in the past. The Government will not be turned from its purpose by the futile motion we are considering this evening, but will continue along the path it has chosen, and help to make’ Australia one of the greatest nations in the confederation of British peoples.


.- The remarks to which we have just listened came with very bad grace from the honorable member for Parramatta. No plainer, or better substantiated charge was ever laid against a government than was the indictment of the present Ministry by the Leader of the Opposition this afternoon. The reply of the Prime Minister was the same as that to which we have listened on every occasion on which the Government has been challenged. He stated that unemployment in Australia to-day is no greater than it was in other years. The figures which the right honorable gentleman quoted in support of that argument were entirely misleading. I say advisedly that there is more unemployment in Australia to-day than there has been at any time for many years, and it is accompanied by more than ordinary hardship and distress. No previous government in the history of the Commonwealth failed as this Government has failed, to keep its promises to the people. It has not fulfilled one of the undertakings which the Prime Minister gave to the people at the last general election, but has endeavoured to shirk its responsibilities by appointing people to commissions which have cost this country nearly £500,000. . The Prime Minister promised that when Parliament met in its permanent home at Canberra a constitutional session would be held. That promise has not been redeemed.

Dr Nott:

– We have a long time ahead of us.


– The Constitution was to be overhauled by this Parliament in its first session.


– We are still in the first session,


– This Parliament has been almost continuously in recess; the country has been managed by commissions and boards, and important legislation has been rushed through Parliament towards the end of the year, when honorable members have been anxious to return to their homes. The need for amending the Constitution is recognized by every honorable member, but instead of bringing that business before Parliament, the Prime Minister appointed a royal commission to rove the Commonwealth at will and examine any witness who offered, regardless of his knowledge or ignorance of the Constitution. That is typical of the manner in which the country is being governed at the present time. It is idle for the Prime Minister to talk platitudes and to cast upon State. Governments the blame for the present state of affairs. The honorable member for Parramatta quoted what was said by a former State Premier some years ago. I might as well ask the honorable member what Gladstone said in 1878. The matters raised by the honorable member were not relevant to the present debate.

The first count upon -which the Government is indicted is that it has neglected the secondary industries. To that we have received no answer, except that the Prime Minister has claimed some virtue for the Government on account of its having tinkered with the tariff two or three times. A Tariff Board composed of gentlemen who enjoy the respect of every member of this Parliament was appointed to investigate and report upon the various industries of this country. The Minister for Trade, and Customs has rightly said that it is the duty of the Government to consider the reports of the board, and one might expect the views of the Ministry to differ occasionally from the recommendations of the board in respect of minor details, but nobody anticipated that the board’s recommendations would be ruthlessly reduced by 50 per cent., as has been done, not, I think, by the Minister for Trade and Customs, but in accordance with what he has declared to be “ the considered judgment of- the Government.” If the Tariff Board is to continue to function, its recommendations should be at least treated with respect. Owing to the manner in which the advice of this expert body has been disregarded, the flood of imports is still rising from year to year. Vast quantities of foreign goods are being imported to the detriment of Australian industries, and if the largest iron and steel works in this country are able to continue operations with even one furnace instead of three, we shall be fortunate. I am afraid that an enterprise which gives employment directly and indirectly to at least 25,000 people throughout Australia will be wiped out through the competition of imports mostly from the continent of Europe via the United Kingdom. I do not blame the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), but he is only one of a ministry whose ideas on the fiscal issue are mostly diametrically opposed to his own. No composite government such as we have now in office, whose members are so divergent on this particular issue, can give a satisfactory judgment upon the Tariff Board’s reports to which I ‘have referred.

The Prime Minister tried to set aside the question of unemployment as if ‘ it were only a matter of passing moment; but let him face the facts as I have encountered them. I have seen people lose’ their homes for which they had partially paid. I have seen small business men compelled to assign their estates. One man told me that half a dozen of them were compelled to do so a week ago. I have seen little children walking five miles to gather a few blackberries and walking another seven miles to sell them.

Mr Thompson:

– Is all that attributable to the depression in the iron and steel industry?


– It is due to the depression in that and other industries.

Mr Thompson:

– There is a depression in the coal trade.


– Naturally, because of the depression in the steel trade. The steel works would burn 1,000,000 tons of coal a year if they were fully employed. When the three furnaces were going they were burning that quantity. The iron and steel industry provides a splendid home market for the people of this country. It is all very well for honorable members to talk about Mr. Lang and certain other State Premiers, but unemployment is prevalent in all the States of Australia. We see contracts let abroad even, as I have previously mentioned, when the tenders of the Australian manufacturers are lower than those of the importing firms. The Prime Minister mentioned that the United States of America is now beginning to reduce its tariff. No country in the world has built up her industries with a higher protective tariff than America adopted, and although it may be varied from time to time there is an elastic provision in the Tariff Act of the United States which enables high duties to be imposed whenever oversea goods may come into competition with the output of .American industries. Why does not the Prime Minister put the case fairly?

I regret to say that in this, the land of my birth, Australian brains are also at a discount. Big corporations bring men from overseas to occupy high positions; but the Australian brains do the work for those imported men. It is unfortunate that, very often, before an Australian can be appreciated he has to leave the land of his birth and make good in other countries.

The Labour party bas never declaimed ^against the migration of our kith, and -kin from Great Britain; but it declares most emphatically that it is as unfair to the migrants as it is to the unemployed of Australia to bring immigrants here without first making provision for their employment as well as for those people who are already here. To do otherwise is to pursue a false policy.

I come now to what is largely the cause of that industrial turmoil about which honorable members of the Labour party are so frequently taunted. What is hampering Australia is the overlapping of Federal and State legislation. Yet the Government does nothing to relieve the situation in this respect. It is content to appoint commissions to rove the country with no other object than tq enable Ministers to evade the responsibilities they themselves should assume. The question of whether the working week should be 44 hours or 48 hours does not enter into consideration at the present moment. Every one admits that there should be uniformity of hours throughout the Commonwealth. Every manufacturer, pastoralist, or farmer, whether he lives in Victoria, New South Wales or elsewhere, should be on the same footing. Undoubtedly, there is need for greater uniformity in this regard, and, to my mind, the variations which now exist, are the cause of more industrial unrest than would otherwise occur.

The Prime Minister has invited the industrialists of Australia to a round-table conference with the employers. The idea is an excellent one, so long as things are equal, but while the right honorable gentleman has issued this invitation, he has introduced into this House the most drastic piece of industrial legislation I can remember since the days of the Wade leg-irons of New South Wales. To me, it seems that Ministers’ only idea of what constitutes a crime is that which may be done by some one connected with trade unionism. It makes us wonder sometimes whether gaols are intended only for the poor and those who represent the poor. If Ministers were in earnest about this industrial peace conference they would not have tried to anger the people by threats of criminal punishment through the provisions of an arbitration bill. They would have held out the olive branch, and have said “ Come now and let us reason together,” without threats of any character. Why should they anger people whose goodwill they want to secure ?

We have been told by the Prime Minister that the Australian artisan is not doing his job; that he is, as it were, hiding behind something, and not performing his task as he should perform it. To that assertion a reply has already been given by no less a person than Mr. Newland, chairman of the Chamber of Manufactures in Sydney. He is a large employer of labour, and said the other day that the Australian workman is the best in the world. That opinion has been backed up by that of an American manager, who has had the control of big works in his own country, and elsewhere. Before returning to America he said not once, but a dozen times, that Australians are the best men he has ever managed. The Prime Minister, speaking on behalf of his Government, has slandered Australian workmen. It is time Ministers had a bigger Australian outlook. It is time’ something was done in the direction of the true development of our country by producing here much that we now buy from outside.

I have very little to add. The Government has failed to protect the industries of Australia adequately. It has failed in the administration of the migration policy of which it has boasted so proudly. The Prime Minister’s reply to-day in regard to the migration of foreigners is absolutely unsatisfactory. We find these foreigners in Australia. In my electorate I have known twenty of them to live in one house. I have known them to go to work with bread and butter only for lunch. That is not a standard of living I should like to see maintained in our country. It is time, I repeat, Ministers had a broader Australian outlook, and time they set about economizing in the right direction, not in cutting down essential services, but in ceasing to appoint commissions. It is time we had a rest from extravagance of that kind while people walk the land in hunger as I know they are doing to-day. As I said a little while ago it is an unfortunate feature of our present day social system that when the grain houses are full it is the workmen’s drought; he is hungry, because there is no longer any work for him to do. Things should be different. Although the most overgoverned, we live in the richest country on God’s earth. We could produce everything man requires to wear. But we are content to go on under the old system of buying in the cheapest market abroad instead of trying to make Australia what it ought to be - a nation among the nations of the Empire. If we were to provide employment here people would be glad to come to Australia and we should not require to ‘ be spending thousands of pounds to encourage them to do so. Unfortunately we appear tobe working along different lines.

Mr Gregory:

– Why cannot we build up a big export trade in coal?


– - If the honorable member knew as much about coal as I do he would not have asked such a question. We had a big export trade in coal, but we lost it during the war through the action of the Nationalist Government which placed an embargo upon the export of coal from Australia. It was decided that coal should he classified and that only certain coal should be allowed to be exported. Inexperienced men were put in charge of the business with the result that lie trade was lost and we- have never been able to regain it. It would have been far better had the Government placed a qualified man at the shipping port with instructions that after our own needs were supplied, our coal could be exported to any friendly nation which required it. Unfortunately, however, the export was completely blocked. That is the answer to the honorable member’s interjection.

The Government should take immediate steps to remedy the present deplorable state of affairs. It is of no use to tell a hungry man who has a wife and family dependent upon him that the position will rectify itself in a year or two, and that he will only. have to wait a while to get work. How is he to live in the meantime? Can he or his family exist without food? Our people do not want doles. They want work. If we are to build a healthy and virile race we must provide work for them. Our men are asking for nothing more than work. Mention has been made during this debate of homeless persons being turned out of empty railway vans where they sought sleeping accommodation. That has happened in Newcastle where hungry and despised men have been hunted from one place to another all night. That condition of affairs should not exist in this country, and unless the Government remedies it the people will say to it in the near future “ You have not done your job and therefore you will have to vacate the Treasury Bench.”

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

.- It appears as though the discussion on this matter is to be left to honorable members on this side of the Chamber. The only word which fell from the lips of the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Bowden) that has remained in my mind is the word “impudent,” which he applied to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). His remarks in that connexion ill became him. They recalled to my mind an anecdote about an Oxford professor of geology. Among his students there were some wags. The class had been asked to collect geological specimens and place them on the professor’s desk for examination. One student, with the object of misleading the professor, selected as his specimen a piece of an old brick. When the examination of the collection began, the professor picked up one, and after examining it said, “ This is an example of the early Pliocene period.” Taking another he said “ This is a good specimen of the anti-glacial epoch, and I compliment the student who obtained it.” After referring to several other specimens the professor picked up the brickbat. He examined it carefully, took off his glasses, rubbed them, made another examination, “ and then said, “ This, gentlemen - this is a piece of dem’d impudence.” I compare the speech of the honorable member for Parramatta with that brick-bat. Such a deliverance could only have left the lips of a legal gentleman accustomed to the atmosphere and privilege of law courts. Our parliamentary privileges are as nothing compared with those which legal men enjoy in the courts. The honorable member made a number of charges which did not contain an atom of proof. “We have at times heard a good deal about “ a necklace of negatives.” The speech of the honorable member might well be described as “ a string of absurdities.” We did not hear a word of sympathy from him for the women and children of the thousands of workless men in our midst. His policy appeared to be to blackguard the other side. Probably the best thing in the honorable member’s speech was the extract which he read from a 1923 newspaper report. But in God’s name, are we not speaking of this year? Men, women, and children are in want to-day. We have no need to go back to 1923.

While the Prime Minister was making his ineffective reply to the charges of the Leader of the Opposition I found recurring to my mind the words “Am I my brother’s keeper ? “ I know of many kindly acts that the Prime Minister has done. I remember the time when he made available to homeless and workless men in Melbourne the orderly rooms at the military head-quarters. But that was during the winter season, and the right honorable gentleman knows that this is the summer time. I cannot remember a summer during which we have had an unemployed movement in Australia such as we have at present, and I speak from 39 years’ experience, during which I have been connected with every unemployed movement that has occurred in Melbourne. I say, without fear of truthful contradiction, that we have never before, during the summer time, had such serious unemployment in Victoria, and I know that the position is just as grave in the other States. It is easy to throw the blame for this on to the shoulders of other people, but surely the Prime Minister, more than any other man in Australia, might be considered his brother’s keeper. I am aware that figures can be “ cooked.” Otherwise there would be no work for auditors or accountants. But I regret that the Prime Minister should have quoted figures which gave a misleading impression, for I have a very high opinion of the right honorable gentleman personally. Within the limited time at my disposal I wish to refer to certain tariff comparisons which he made. He stated that in 1925 the percentage of customs duties collected on the value of imports of all merchandise into the United States of America, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, was 13 per cent., 15 per cent., 16 per cent., and 18 per cent, respectively. In reply to that statement 1 refer honorable members to Kelly’s Customs Tariff, a book which, I regret to say, has gone out of print. Reference to the last edition of that work will show that the tariff on tobacco in the United States of America is 8s. 5d. per lb.; in Australia, 5s. 4d. ; and in Japan, 355 per cent, of the value of the tobacco. The duty on ls. cigars, taking 100 cigars to weigh 1 lb., and allowing for excise, is 16s. in Australia, and no less than £17 15s. in Japan. Comparative figures for 6d. cigars are 16s. in Australia, and £8 17s. 6d. in Japan. In spite of this the Prime Minister has suggested that Australia has a higher duty than either the United States of America or ‘Japan. On various occasions when tariff matters have been under consideration in this chamber, I have remarked that it would be a good thing for Australia if her tariff duties were equal to those of either the United States of America or Japan. What is the reason? Japan stands today as the only country in the world which has been able to combat the American tobacco combine. That combine crushed out British competition; although British names are still retained it dominates the situation. In Australia there were once two companies which were going to fight the American tobacco combine, but the directors awoke one morning to find that their voting strength was in a minority. To-day the American tobacco combine is in control of the tobacco business in Australia, as it is in Great Britain, and, in fact, in every country in the world with the exception of Japan. That country secured control of its tobacco business by raising the duty in the first place to 50 per cent. When I was in Japan some time ago with Senator Findley, the duty was increased to 150 per cent., the next year it was further increased, and it eventually reached 250 per cent., when the American combine found that it could no longer compete. Not content with such a high duty,

Japan raised it later to 355 per cent., at which figure it now stands. Surely the Prime Minister - I am not saying this in any rude sense - must know, from his business connexion with Flinders-lane, that factories in Melbourne are closing down, and that there is not a single factory in that city which is working full time with a full complement of workers !


– A watchman was murdered in a factory in Melbourne whilst the night shift was at work, which shows that at least one factory must have been working overtime.

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– I have never heard of a burglar attempting to enter a factory whilst the operatives were at work. From time to time reference is made to the work of the League of Nations, and to the general desire for international peace. What did England do ? The Government sent as its representatives admirals and generals to assist in securing peace amongst the nations. The United States did the same. Why were not common-sense business men sent, instead of those whose profession it is to make war? I believe it was Lord Hugh Cecil who was manly enough to make a certain resolution which I am sonsy was not carried. The only way to ensure peace is for the representatives of the nations to go to the League with the intention of securing peace. Why was Germany, which was our strongest enemy, given a seat on the Council of the League, whilst an insult was offered to Brazil, Spain and Norway, which were refused membership? Every nation should have equal representation on the League, as the Australian States have equal representation in the Senate.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Sir Littleton Groom:

– Does the honorable member intend to connect these remarks with the motion ?

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– Yes, by suggesting that the money that is used in preparing for war should be spent in the manufacture of useful commodities, and thus provide productive employment. The action of the Defence Department on one occasion in providing blankets for the unemployed was more creditable than many other acts for which its officers have been responsible.

On that occasion, blankets and sleeping accommodation were supplied to the unemployed, but as facilities for washing were not available, some of the blankets became infested with parasites. Later, at my instigation, the bedding was fumigated at one of the hospitals. On the next occasion when a similar request was made to the Defence Department, a supply of blankets was refused. The authorities did not decline to accept the services of men who were covered with vermin in the trenches, and they did not even adopt sufficient precautions to check the spread of the trouble when it was very acute. There is no war in progress to-day, and as the government do not now require the services of these men they are willing to allow them to starve. I am not endeavoring to make political capital out of this matter. I do not think that there is one honorable member in the chamber who would refuse to help a man who was really in need of food. I believe that if the Prime Minister would take the matter in hand and make an earnest effort to put down this curse of unemployment he would have the unanimous support of the House. For the first time in our history, a Governor-General has, with a kind heart, helped the unemployed in Melbourne. Apparently it is more difficult for a deputation representing the unemployed to wait upon the Prime Minister than upon the Governor- General of the Commonwealth.

Mr Scullin:

– The Prime Minister refused to receive a deputation on the subject from the Trades Hall Council. I made a request on its behalf.

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– The unemployed committee of which I am speaking is, I think, one of the finest constituted in Australia. It comprises the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, as the representative of the City of Melbourne, the Chairman of the Trades Hall unemployment committee, Mr. D’Arcy, the secretary of the Charity Organization Society, and Mrs. Woinarski - one of God’s good women - secretary of the Ladies’ Benevolent Society. The churches were also represented. One gentleman who is usually considered to be somewhat “close” has set a very generous example which others should follow. I refer to Sir William

McPherson, who has given assistance which suggests that the unemployment problem in Melbourne is more acute than it has ever been. I was surprised to find that the Prime Minister did not utter one word of sympathy with the unemployed. At present we have a distinguished visitor in Australia in the person of Sir Robert Home, who is giving great praise to the Big Brother movement. I agree with everything which that gentleman has said concerning the movement, but I could not help bringing certain matters under his notice. He wrote me a. courteous note which he thought ended the matter. I asked him, amongst other things, why he did not try to inaugurate a Big Sister Movement in order to give the girls of England a similar opportunity to that being offered to British boys to make good in Australia. I also asked if he did not think the system of migration as carried Out in Great Britain was injurious to the Homeland, and if the migration of so many males was not unfair to Britain, particularly as there are 2,000,000 more females than males in England, Scotland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man. I maintain that it is unfair to the women to take their men folk from them. If it is true that every migrant who comes to Australia reduces the amount per capita of the national debt, and that the wealth of the country is increased, it is also true that the departure from England of such a large number of migrants makes the country poorer, and increases the national debt per capita. Every member of this chamber knows that the wheat lands of Great Britain are amongst the most famous in the world. Why is the wheat land in Great Britain going out of cultivation? Why does not Great Britain grow more of the foodstuffs it requires? Because the land is locked up, and laws are passed to prevent it being used to its fullest extent. What stabilized credit, and did more than anything else throughout the whole period of the war to prevent unemployment? It was the fact that the people’s bank would not charge more than 6 per cent, on borrowed money which prevented other banks charging more. At a time such as this, why does not the Government a3k the Commonwealth Bank to stabilize finance by reducing the rate of interest on loans or overdrafts to 6 per cent., as it did during the war ? We are not confronted with the financial troubles with which we were then faced ; but there should be a stabilizing movement. Those in control of our banking institutions should endeavour to keep down the interest rates. I am not saying one word against the associated banks, as from personal experience I admit that they serve a good purpose. I recall an instance where the Commonwealth Bank turned away business, whilst another banking institution in the same street took it up. At present the Commonwealth Bank is not a people’s bank but a bankers’ bank, and one which is conducted solely as a matter of convenience to the other banks. The Commonwealth Bank has designedly ceased to advance money on land. Some honorable members may recall the conditions which prevailed during the land boom, when broad acres, and not buildings, were the only acceptable security. At present the banks are recalling advances on land. In connexion with the unemployment problem I pay respect to the Jewish people in Australia who are looking after their unemployed better than any other denominational body. According to yesterday’s Melbourne papers Jewish migrants in that city are in great trouble. Jewish citizens have done splendid work for immigrants of their own race, and I honour them for it. They have established a welcome society, whereas the policy of this Government is to get immigrants here and then to let them fend for themselves. Strange to say, many of them can obtain employment when our own men cannot. I speak from experience. I have retired from medical practice for close on twenty years, but I continue by dispensary. My office is open for political work, and if I am not there my friend and secretary, almost my son, is in attendance. We have, therefore, the means of meeting the unemployed, and I do wish that honorable members could see what I have seen. Mothers have come in when the bailiffs were in their homes, and their husbands walking the streets trying to obtain work. I have seen men whose eyes have shown the strain of searching for work - many of them totally unfit for work because of lack of nourishment. The Government has failed to extend to the workers the sympathy to which they are surely entitled. Under the shadow of the Melbourne gaol, 39 years ago, I said that I did not know what hunger was. I knew what thirst was, and if hunger was as bad as thirst I would take what I wanted, and let people call itthieving if they liked. The next morning the newspapers termed mc not only a socialist, but an anarchist. At one time Cardinal Manning, that great teacher and friend of the unemployed in London, wrote that necessity knows no law and that a starving man has a right to his brother’s bread. I placed those words on my election cards at the next election and obtained a sweeping majority.

With respect to a working week of 44 hours, let me refer to a ‘leaflet that I use whenever I lecture on South Africa. I think that the Prime Minister has stated in this House that New Zealand and South Africa can borrow on the London market at a- cheaper rate of interest than we can, I would inform honorable members that South Africa exported to England in 1924 £44,000,000 worth of gold, and. in 1925 £34,000,000. Is it any wonder, therefore, that that country can obtain better terms for loans than can Australia and New Zealand? Senator Whiteside, at one time Labour member, organizer, and employee of the Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company, is to-day Commissioner of Railways in South Africa. It would have been impossible for him to rise to such a position in Australia, At the crash of the land boom here he, with 5,000 other Australians, went to South Africa.

Mr Yates:

– Fred Holder’s son held a like position in Buenos Ayres.

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– I am glad to hear that. South Africa’s population consists of the real negro, the coloured man - a mixture of the white and black races - and the white man. The white population numbers 1,600,000. The white worker until recently had little chance of competing successfully against the coloured worker, who is oftentimes gifted with high intelligence. When I went to South Africa as a member of the Australian delegation there were fewer white people there than there had been in the previous year. The leaflet that I have mentioned states -

In South Africa the coloured man is used to reduce the white man’s standard of living, and when that purpose is not sufficiently effected the native (the black) is brought in to further reduce the white standard of living. The Labour and National parties, under Prime Minister Hertzog, have legalized the living wage based upon a white man’s standard of life on a 44-hours’ week, with the avowed intention of eliminating unfair competition and overtime, under a penalty of £500 or imprisonment up to two years;

When Senator Whiteside was here, I said to him “Do members of the building trades, whether coloured or white, as the result of this legislation receive the same wage?” He answered “Yes.” At that time the wage was 2s. 9d. an hour. Afterwards the employers formed a committee with representatives of various trades, and as a result of its activities, the wage was increased to 3s. 6d. an hour, in certain localities. I should like to pay a tribute to the late Alfred Deakin, because to him more than to any other human being belongs the credit for a constitution under which South African laws are promulgated throughout the length and breadth of that dominion. In that respect South Africa has a great advantage over Australia. A letter sent to me from South Africa contains the following statement by the Hon. Thomas Bozdell :-

Speaking generally, the white worker’s position has all along been menaced by competition from the coloured workers, whose standard of living is so much lower. It is also true that the coloured workers’ position has been menaced by the native, whose standard is again so much lower. This is particularly the case in the Cape Peninsula. In fact, the Government has recently come to the assistance of the coloured workers in this regard, and work at the Cape Town docks has been restored to them. Of course in many other occupations the Wage Act will now operate, so that “ equal pay for equal work “.will apply irrespective of who does the particular work. It is not the Government that lays down conditions under the Industrial Conciliation Act, but a council consisting of an equal number of representatives from the industry concerned (of workers and masters, I presume).

In Australia, thanks to the late Chief Justice Higinbotham, we use the words employees and employers.

The wages and conditions agreed upon by the industry are then legalized by the Government, and generally made applicable to all persons engaged in the particular industry. Different industrial councils lay down different conditions, some - like thu building trades - have agreed to a 44-hoiir week. Others again have a 48-hour week. The same applies to the operation of the Wage Act. In some cases the hours are 45, others 48/ The wages also vary as between town and town, and occupations. The main thing, however, is that the Government is trying to lay down, or to legalize wages and conditions that more and more conform to western civilized standards of life. The non-European who . is efficient and whose services are retained, is thus drawn up to the civilized standard, and is therefore no longer an economic danger. Penalties under the Industrial Conciliation Act of £500 or two years’ imprisonment can be imposed, and £50 or three months’ imprisonment under the Wage Act.

When there is a strike, no unionist is allowed to act as a picket in order to prevent men from working, but on the other hand no employer can put men on the job in dispute until a settlement has been arrived at by a committee appointed by the Government. That appeals to me as an equitable procedure.

We hear many people say to newcomers “go on the land.” A member of the English House of Commons, who travelled Australia recently, said in my hearing that he had seen any amount of vacant land, but that he had been told that every acre was under leasehold, and therefore unavailable to those wishing to go on the land. He added “ You certainly have less human beings to the square mile than any other continent, but you do not seem to have any acreage for a man to take up.” That prompted me to obtain from the various governments the number of applications for blocks of land thrown open for settlement. I find that in Queensland in one instance 6,549 applications were made for a block of 10,000 acres at Longreach, that left 6,548 applicants without land - many the sons of Australian farmers. In other instances the number of applications ranged from 168 to 1,399. For a smaller block in the Stanthorpe district there were 846 applicants. The New South Wales Under Secretary for Lands wrote to me under date 22nd August, 1927, stating that there wa3 keen demand for land in that State, there being no less than 3,949 applications for a homestead farm block in the Narrandera district.

Mr Prowse:

– Why do not they go to Western Australia?

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– I shall deal with the position in that State presently. I have no doubt that if land hungry people could secure some of the honorable member’s valuable land they would be glad of it. South Australia, as honorable members know, has not so large an area of agricultural land available as has the State of Western Australia or Queensland. In that State also there is a strong demand. For one block in the hundred of Buckleboo there were 56 applicants. The Secretary for Lands writing to me under date 26th August, 1927, stated-

During the nine years 0,090 sections of ordinary Crown land were offered under the Crown Lands Acts, and 7,484 applications were received; and 455 blocks of closer settlement (re-purchased lands) were offered, and 552 applications were lodged.

The following figures relating to applications received for sub-divisions in the Millewa district of Victoria disclose the position in that State: -

The figures, for the year 1926 disclose that there were 664 disappointed applicants for the 140 blocks. The Tasmanian Secretary for Lands, writing to me on 22nd August, 1927, stated -

Free selection is a law in this State at present. Where two or more persons apply for the same land, tenders are called between the applicants. We sell about 20,000 to 30,000 acres per year in this State. Prices vary between 5s. and 20s. per acre.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Sir Littleton Groom:

– I should like the honorable member to inform me how his remarks under this heading are related to the motion before the Chair.

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– If more land were available for free selection there would be less unemployment. The Government’s policy is to encourage migrants to come from England to Australia, and I regret to think that many of them are misled in England. I come now to the position in Western Australia. That State is setting an excellent example to the other States, especially in its treatment of returned soldiers and sailors. It pains me to think that not long ago 300 returned soldiers were seeking work in Melbourne. These men offered their lives for Australia, and, notwithstanding the preference in employment, given niggardly in some instances, they find it difficult to get work. In Western Australia all land seekers are given a free homestead farm of 160 acres, and so far as returned soldiers and sailors are concerned, if the valuation for an additional area is 15s. per acre they get it for 7s. 6d. plus the usual land registration fees. Also, they have the use of the land free, for five years. With the exception of one small area in Victoria, I know of no other instance where such favorable treatment is meted out to returned soldiers and sailors. The Government of Western Australia also gives them every encouragement and assistance. Inspectors visit the settlers regularly, expert advice is given to them as to the most approved method for the development of their land and they receive generous advances through the Agricultural Bank. Undoubtedly the Government of Western Australia is doing its best to deal with the curse of unemployment. This problem is not new. I noticed in the Melbourne Herald recently, under the heading “ Fifty years ago to-day” that there was an unemployment trouble in Melbourne half a century ago. I have a personal knowledge of every movement to deal with . unemployment in that city during the last 39 years and, as I have already said, speaking in the shadow of the old gaol in those far off days I declared that I would gladly sacrifice my life if bydoing so I could remove the curse of unemployment from our midst. I have spoken with some heat to-night because I feel strongly on this subject. The man who can evolve a policy that will do away with this problem, whether he be on the Government side of the House or on this, will in my opinion be the greatest statesman that the world has ever seen. I can honestly say that there is only one party in Australia to-day with a definite policy to meet the unemployment problem. That party is the one led by my .friend the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) who is its leader in this House. Why should any human being be denied the right to work? There is no sadder sight than that of the mother of a family whose man is seeking vainly for work. How she dreads the landlord s knock on a Monday morning when, he calls for the rent! This is why I have sworn vengeance against the policy of landlordism. We have no private landlords in the Federal Capital Territory and I hope we shall never see that principle applied to lands controlled by the Commonwealth in this area. It is idle for the Government to say that there is no work to be done. Wherever there are roads to mend there is work to do. If the roads in the Federal Capital Territory were not in need of repair, the attendants in this building would not be so timid about allowing people to walk over the carpets. I have visited “palaces in Europe and had no difficulty in gaining admission to the Holy of Holies ; but the people who really own this building are not allowed on the floor of this chamber when they are making an inspection. Wherever there are footpaths to make and houses to0 build for the people there is work to be done. We want more trams, more trains, more streets, more houses and more food for those who are in need of it. We do not want to perpetuate the capitalistic system which makes life easier for those who have the most of this world’s goods and harder for those who “have less. I look to the younger members of this House to carry on the fight as the younger members outside and the women who are coming into the movement are doing. We must acknowledge that it is the right of every human being to get work if he seeks it. When we reach that condition of affairs there should be no poverty and wretchedness, because our difficulties will have been scientifically removed. When that time comes I hope that Australia will lead the van as she has done in connexion with the adoption of the ballot-box and the Torrens system of land tenure. Whether I live short days or long days I hope and believe that we shall keep Australia white for the sake of the white races. If we do not, this country will be deluged with horror compared with which the war through which the world passed a few years ago will be as nothing. I regret that the Prime Minister was not more sympathetic in his reply to the speech of my leader. Every member of this House has a definite responsibility in this matter. It is of no use to say, “ I am not my brother’s keeper.” What higher duty can the Prime Minister, or indeed any other member in this House have than to say frankly “I am my brother’s keeper, and, there: fore, I will do all I can to remove this curse of unemployment.”-


.- The motion of censure submitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) is similar to one moved by him last session. The indictment seems to embrace three counts. The first is - “ That in the opinion of this House the Government is deserving of severe censure for its failure to adequately protect Australian industries.” The second has reference to its failure “ to limit migration to the nation’s ability to absorb new arrivals,” and the third refers to its “neglect to formulate proposals to deal with unemployment.” The right honorable the Prime Minister has fairly and adequately replied to them. As to the first count, that the Government has failed to adequately protect Australian industries, I gathered from the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition that he was referring particularly to manufacturers, and the Prime Minister showed that Australian manufacturers are receiving higher protection than is given to manufacturers in other countries. With every increase of the tariff there has been an increase of unemployment. When tariff schedules have been introduced we have been told that unemployment and imports will decrease, while exports will increase; but the opposite has been the case. In view of these facts this House should consider whether it is advisable to continue any longer the present high fiscal policy. Had the Leader of the Opposition indicted the Government for having caused unemployment by introducing high tariffs, I might have been able to support the motion, because there is evidence that the existing unemployment is largely the result of our high tariff.

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– Is that the cause of the unsatisfactory state of affairs in England ?


– No country has such a high tariff as we have in Australia.

Some time ago the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) said that Australia’s position was so serious that there should be a non-party session of Parliament to consider it. I applauded the. honorable member’s suggestion at the time. In the non-party spirit advocated by him, and not in the spirit of the motion before the House, should we approach the problems confronting the country. But to make political and election speeches, based on the effect of thirst and hunger, is not the way for a national Parliament to deal with a big problem. Every .honorable member knows the effects of hunger and thirst, and has no desire that any human being should suffer in that way.

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– Then why allow them to suffer?


– Great as is the sympathy of the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) for the poor and needy, he has done as much as any other man - not wilfully, but in ignorance - to bring about the present unsatisfactory state of affairs, because he has assisted to build up exotic industries in. Australia. The gold industry, to which the honorable member made reference,’ is in its present position because of the excessive costs of” production. Were it not for the burden imposed on that industry by unprofitable secondary industries, thousands of workers would to-day be employed in it. Even the low-grade ores in some of the mines in Western Australia would be capable of supporting many thousands of workers and their families were it not for our high tariff, and the consequential high cost of living. The same is true of. the fruit industry. Thousands more could be employed in it were it not that production and producing costs are so high. The cost of production in Australia makes it impossible for our produce to find an outside market. Similar conditions obtain in the timber industry. If honorable members will read the Tariff Board’s report on that industry they will see that it recognizes the danger. In the aftermath of war, when the demand for war service homes was so great, more timber companies were started and more persons were engaged in the timber industry than were necessary to meet normal conditions in Australia. Later, the saw-millers clamoured for higher duties, while at the same time their employees sought shorter hours and higher wages. Over six years ago, I said, that instead of increasing the tariff, and thus further increasing the cost of living, and raising wages, through the Arbitration Court, to meet the higher cost of production thus limiting our market to Australia’s requirements, it would be better for Australia to reduce its so-called high standard of living and for all the people to consent to reductions which would reduce the cost of living. If that were done, the lower wages would be equal in buying power to the present wages. I advocated then that we should get down to a competitive basis, so that we could sell our goods in the world’s market as we once did. At one time we were selling boots in the world’s market and making a profit on them; to-“ day we cannot do that because of the production costs. .

Mr Makin:

– The workers were then paid 15s. a week.


– Fifteen shillings would buy more at that time than 30s. will buy to-day. The effective purchasing power of money to-day is not what it was when wages were only one-half of what they are now. If we provide cheaper living for the people there will be less unemployment and greater prosperity. Honorable members opposite are asking for protection against other countries which pay higher wages and in which the workers work no longer hours than they do in Australia.

A good deal has been said about the iron and steel industry. When the Broken Hill Proprietary Company established its works in Australia, Mr. Delprat, its managing director, said that the industry would need no protection.

Mr Fenton:

– His experience caused him to revise his opinion.


– When Mr. Delprat made that statement he thought that the conditions then existing would continue. He did not realize that the iron and steel industry would have to bear the burden of the protection afforded to other industries, nor did he imagine that arbitration court judges would be asked to award wages based on the cost of living, without any regard to whether the industries could pay them. Because of the protection afforded to other industries the Broken Hill Proprietary

Company Limited was forced to seek further protection. There is scarcely a secondary industry in this country that is not relying on the primary industries for support. I agree- with the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) that the iron and steel industry should, be able to supply Australia’s requirements of iron and steel without imposing too heavy a burden on the people; but does the honorable member think that unlimited protection to that industry will place Australia in a better position? He probably is aware that the result would be to increase the price of rails, for instance, thus making the construction of railways in Australia even more costly than it is to-day. There was a time when we borrowed money only for reproductive works ; but to-day money is borrowed for the construction of railways which cost three times as much as they would cost elsewhere. In any other country Sydney Harbour bridge would be less costly by millions of pounds. It is because of this that we have not reproductive assets. Western Australia, which has few, if any, exotic industries, is the only State whose railways show a profit.

The present depression in Australia is caused by one of our key industries being in an unsatisfactory position. The wheat harvest of Australia . has been a partial failure in three States. The industries which honorable members opposite think are so important cannot carry on if the wheat harvest fails, with the result that there is unemployment. In the Victorian railways, because there is not the usual quantity of wheat to be hauled by the railways, 2,000 more men are employed than are required. None of our secondary industries can step into the breach and make up the loss caused by the wheat failure. Surely it is time that the representatives of the people spoke plainly in this chamber. We are proceeding along uneconomic lines. Before the position becomes more serious, and the lesson is learned as the result of bitter experience, it is to be hoped that we in this House will proceed along saner lines.

The Leader of the Opposition has also seen fit to censure the Government because it has not limited migration to the nation’s ability to absorb them. That indictment is similar to the one with which

I have just dealt. If we were proceeding on right lines we should welcome all white immigrants. There would be ample employment for them. But when we place ourselves in an insular position, because of our high cost of production, we make it impossible to absorb migrants. Even if they settle on the land and produce crops, there is no market for their produce, with the result that our land settlement schemes are a failure. We have placed thousands of returned soldiers on the land to grow fruit, for which there is no market. No one gains any advantage from the high cost of production in Australia, because money to-clay has not the same purchasing power as it had a few years ago. lt now takes £2 to purchase what could previously be purchased for £1, therefore the £2 is no better than the £1 was. The existing condition of affairs makes it impossible for Australia to progress. If we do not attempt to develop Australia on lines that compare in some degree withthose adopted in other white countries of the world we must continue to remain in an insular position, with an insufficient population. It is impossible adequately to increase our population . if we persist in developing industries that do not pay. Australia should concentrate on those industries, primary and secondary, which are natural to the country, and which make for its development and settlement. Those are not merely my opinions. .

The great economic conference which recently sat at Geneva intimated clearly that high tariffs are strangling and bringing about unnatural conditions in industries. That conference regarded high tariffs as the greatest curse afflicting industry, and urged all parliaments to give the matter serious consideration. We are on the wrong lines when we persist in following tactics which have been proved to be unsound for Australia. The correct thing to do is to retrace our steps. The press yesterday reported Judge Dethridge as saying that if the country insisted on a 44-hour week, it would have a return of less work, whereas if it had a 48-hour week, it would have a return of more work. Honorable members opposite are labouring under an economic fallacy when they advocate the refusal of piece-work and a policy of “go slow” in industry, imagining that by so doing they will make more work and get more pay out of a job. Such teachings are pernicious and create unemployment.

I regret that cold water has been thrown on the suggestion of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) that the captains of industry and labour should meet and confer in an effort to produce a remedy for existing conditions. Mr. Hogan, the Labour Premier of Victoria, is making considerable use of the slogan “More ,and more production.” When a man attains a position of responsibility such as that now held by Mr. Hogan, he has to support sound economic tactics. When the present honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) was in opposition in Queensland he made use of propaganda very similar to that emanating from honorable members opposite, but his attitude changed when he became Premier of Queensland. It must be apparent to honorable members opposite that, if Australia is to advance in a systematic and sane manner, our great primary industries must be the first consideration of .this Parliament. The secondary industries should follow, as night follows day. ‘ Australia should have secondary industries of inestimable value, but existing conditions merely cause them to be a hindrance to the development of the country.

This motion is put forward merely for political propaganda purposes, because this is the last year of this Parliament, and an election is pending. The Opposition considers it to be its duty to try to stultify the actions of this Government, and to restrict its sphere of usefulness. I am taking the opportunity to present my viewpoint, as an Australian, and not as an immigrant from the Old Country, actuated by the desire to prevent others coming here. I know the capabilities of Australia for producing wealth and happiness, and I know that there is room for many more people here.

Mr Yates:

– The honorable member is holding more land than he can work.

He is not the only dinkum Australian in the country. I have four of them in my family.


– The whole of my land is worked intensely. It is clear that if Australia adopts an insular attitude we cannot effectively demonstrate our ability to hold this country as a “ White Australia.” We have the finest heritage in. the world, but it must not be regarded as a little paradise for the few. We must not be parochial and disregard the competition of the other white countries of the world. I shall not speak of the black labour countries of the world. There is no real opposition or competition by black countries that affects Australia. It is the products of white countries from which honorable members opposite ask for protection.. It is their white brothers in other countries against whom they are seeking protection. I have foreseen this position, and I have not failed to utter a warning in “this House. The primary producers are being asked to carry a load which they are no longer capable of bearing. There were those who, during the serious and critical periods of the war, felt that if we could preserve ‘our’ liberty, and obtain bread and dripping, we should feel happy. The position was then very serious. The war ended, and we had our liberty.

The prosperity that has been experienced in this country since the war has surprised most of the people of Australia, and deluded many of them. Why is it that we are not on the bread-and-dripping line? Let us examine the real cause. When the war ended there was distributed throughout Australia the back pay of the soldiers, amounting to many millions, also the war gratuity amounting to over £25,000,000. War service homes were built with an expenditure of £17,000,000. There were also millions of pounds distributed in the form of dividends from wheat and wool pools. Then there was Bawra, which distributed many more millions throughout the country. As an aftermath of the war the prices of primary products, wool and wheat, rose, as often happens after a war. Therefore, we have enjoyed in Australia high prices for the products which we exported. All those things put together account for the prosperity, evanescent though it be, that we have enjoyed since the war. I ask honorable members on the other side, can we look on these conditions as permanent? Much of the money which was then spent has now to be repaid, and during the next decade we have to renew or pay off £470,000,000. That has to be renewed at a higher rate of interest than is being pa’d at the present time. What have we got to meet that? There has been a fall in the price of wheat. The price of wool, thank goodness, is maintaining its level. What other industry have we to take the place of our great primary industries. Supposing we attained the objective of the Leader of the Opposition, and, indeed, of some honorable members on this side also, and secured higher protection amounting to prohibition, what would happen? First of all the money now extracted from, the people in the way of customs duties would not go to swell the revenue of the country, but would go into the hands of manufacturing combines, and of labour, unions. These would be the two great octopuses which would hold all the political and industrial power in the country. Could they, however, sell a single hat ora single pair of boots outside Australia to help to pay these debts ? In the past they, have used the money which came to them as a result of protection, to enrich themselves, and. to keep out articles from overseas to the detriment of the consuming public. If we gave them more protection, amounting to prohibition, they would still use it to make additional profits for themselves, and to crush the only primary industries we have got. The ‘present depression is due to such actions as I have just indicated. At the end of the last session the Leader of the Opposition moved a want of confidence motion in the Government because of the adverse trade balance. He will have ample opportunity to move another this year, because the adverse trade balance will be even greater. I do not seeany secondary industry springing up. to take the place of the wheat industry.. The cost of production is too great. Just now people are going out of wheat-growing into sheep raising, thus displacing- manyworkers. Because of this change oyer,, one man is employed where previously twenty found work. That is what . is causing unemployment. I think that the honorable member, for Yarra, instead of pressing the motion, should ask the members of this House to consider why Australia is not able to make the progress that it should, and why it cannot absorb immigrants. Because the members of the Opposition are arch-offenders in bringing about the present unemployment position, I oppose the motion.


.- The honorable member who has just resumed his seat took the honorable member for Hindmarsh to task for talking about hungry people. He stands in this National Parliament of Australia, and advocates reverting to the soulless competive system which is condemned by every modern economist. He says that until we get back to the old system of no interference, and of letting the channels of trade flow unchecked, we cannot make progress. He says, in effect, “Let the “woman and child work in the’ factories and in -the coal mines ; that is the system to which we want to go back ; the child in the mine harnessed like a ‘donkey, ‘‘the women and children in the factories, working long hours, with the employers throwing water on them if they show a desire to go to sleep. That is the competitive system which the honorable member has advocated by every word he has uttered to-night. The honorable member gave the show away when he talked about the Arbitration Court, and no doubt he will support the Government’s proposal in relation to it. He said that while awards arc based on the principle of the cost of living,’ and not on the capacity of the industry to pay a living wage, industry could not carry on upon a satisfactory basis. We on this side say, and we say it from every platform, that no industry which cannot pay a living wage is worthy of consideration. I am prepared to take my political life in my hands and to stand or fall by that policy. An industry that cannot pay its way and that places inanimate objects before human life arid human well Being, is no good to this country. So long as honorable members who sit on this side can prevent it, such industries will not be allowed to carry on their business in Australia.

The honorable member for Forrest referred also to gold production. He said that if we could import machinery that is made in cheap labour countries we should be able to develop our low-grade ores. That is one industry which I hope we shall not try to develop. The honorable member wishes men to be sent into the bowels of the earth for the purpose of extracting the gold-bearing ore. Men who are thus employed very soon find their way into hospitals or are thrown on the industrial scrap heap. In the first place human life is destroyed by putting men to work in the dangerous industry of getting gold out of the earth ; but no sooner is it obtained than it is locked up in vaults in the bowels of the earth. In London and in other places it is buried hundreds of feet below water so that no person can obtain a sight of it. Those are the economic principles which the honorable member for Forrest wishes Australia to observe. I trust that very few persons of his frame of mind and with his knowledge will be sent to this Parliament to frame a policy for solving these problems. The honorable member further said that high protection creates ‘ unemployment. He desires to see Australia again a wheat field or a sheep run; to send our primary products abroad to be manufactured and returned to us as the finished article. He argued that we are not competing against coloured labour. Is he acquainted with the economic and industrial conditions of Japan? Is he aware that in that country industries are working under the barrack system which obtained in England towards the end of the 18th arid at the beginning of the 19th century? These industries in Japan are to-day producing softgoods and wearing apparel which Australia is importing, and are thus competing against the Australian ‘workman’s economic standard. If the camouflage is removed and the frill is taken away from the honorable member’s speech it will be found that he wishes to reduce the economic standard of the Australian workman to the level of that which obtains in Japan or in the lowest -wage country in the world.

Before proceeding to deal with the motion itself I wish to refer to certain remarks of the honorable member for

Parramatta (Mr. Bowden), who, I am sorry to observe is not at present in the chamber. That honorable member made a discovery which turned out to be merely a mare’s nest. He told this House that it was the extravagance of the Lang Government which was responsible for unemployment in Australia; that it was workmen’s compensation, child endowment, and the 44-hour week which had caused unemployment and depression in New South Wales Strangely enough, he did not mention widows’ pensions. What are the facts? The Lang Government was in power for two years, during which period they placed those measures on the statute-book. The daily press of Sydney, which always lauds anything that is anti-Labour, created in New South Wales a psychology of what they called “ Anti-Langism “, with the object of defeating that Government. They told the people of New South Wales that its legislation would bring about unemployment, dearth in industry, and retrogression. Then the elections were held. During the campaign those candidates who supported the nationalist policy promised that, if returned to power they would not repeal one piece of that legislation which they and the newspapers said had caused absolute retrogression in New South Wales. They belong to the same party as honorable members who sit oppositeIf they were honest in their claim that that legislation would cause disruption and retrogression, they were dishonest’ in promising not to repeal it. They cannot ‘have it both ways. They did what the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) accused the Opposition of doing; they deliberately misrepresented the position so that they, might obtain possession of thetreasury bench. I saw an advertisement in the newspapers, for the. insertion of which the Nationalist Association paid. Doubtless the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) had a hand in its preparation. It depicted a Nationalist canvasser cadging votes from a working man. He said, “ Vote for the Nationalist party.” “ Oh, no,” said the workman, “ T. cannot vote for the Nationalist party. I now work 44 hours a week? “ whereas if it got in I should have to work 48 hours “ a week.” “ Oh, no, you won’t,” said the’ . canvasser. “ The

Nationalist party stands for a 44-hour week, and Mr. Bavin will not interfere with it.” What does the honorable member for Parramatta stand for? It was the 44-hour week which was said to have caused unemployment. The conversation between the canvasser and the workman continued in the following strain : - The workman said, “ That may be all right; but I am working in a dangerous industry, in which I may be injured. What if workers’ compensation should be abolished?” “Don’t be a bit afraid of that,” replied the canvasser ; “ the Nationalist party is the strongest supporter of workmen’s compensation ; it has been on its platform for a long time. Do not have the least hesitation about that, old chap ; we will not interfere with that legislation.” The workman next asked, “ But what about child endowment ? I am a family man. The Nationalists are going to abolish child endowment; the papers say so. I will lose . something.” The canvasser retorted, “Don’t you believe the press ; that is one of the leading planks of our platform. The Nationalist party is absolutely committed to child endowment. Why, Mr. Bruce promised it to the people at the last Federal election, and he is going to introduce it in the Federal Parliament.” That is the attitude which the friends of honorable members opposite adopted in an attempt to gull the people so that they might win the election. Honorable members opposite, no doubt, went on to the public platform in New South Wales and told the people that this legislation would not be repealed ; yet they come- into this Parliament and say that it is responsible for unemployment and retrogression in New South Wales ! If that is so, why has not Mr. Bavin repealed it ? Honorable members opposite must face this issue ; either they believe in it, or they are opposed to it. If they are opposed to it they were not honest when they lent their support to their friends in New South Wales. If they were honest then, they are dishonest now, when they say that that legislation has caused retrogression and unemployment. The Labour party will take the necessary steps to see that they do not have it both ways at the forthcoming elections.

The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Bowden) and the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) laid great emphasis on the influence of the 44-hour week. The 44-hour week is not in operation in Victoria and South Australia, or in any part of Europe. Will honorable members say that there is no unemployment in European countries? Unfortunately unemployment is ten times more serious there than in Australia, notwithstanding that those countries are free of that liberal legislation to which honorable members opposite attach the blame for the conditions existing in Australia. There is too much humbug and hypocrisy about this matter. The supporters of the Government must declare honestly and unequivocally whether or not they believe in workers’ compensation. Do they believe that there is as much reason for insuring a man as a motor car, a house or a, hay-stack? Do they believe in child endowment to subsidize a basic wage that only makes provision for a man and his wife? Or do they believe in economic conditions that’ force the Community to racial suicide’? Are they in favour of a 44-hour week or against it? I ask leave to continue my remarks.


– Continue for a little while.

Mr Blakeley:

– I rise to a’ point of order. An arrangement was made between the Minister for Trade and Customs and the Opposition Whip that at 10.30 the honorable member for Werriwa should be granted leave to continue his remarks at the next sitting. We expect the Government to honour that arrangement.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Sir Littleton Groom:

– The honorable member has not raised a point of order. The arrangement to which he has referred is not within my cognizance. At present the honorable member for Werriwa is in possession of the floor.


– The honorable member for Forrest quoted some authority as having declared that increased production is the only real solution of the present economic situation.

Mr Prowse:

– I quoted Mr. Hogan, the Labour Premier of Victoria.


– My views are not governed by those of Mr. Hogan, or anybody else. One would expect the honorable member for Forrest to have the moral courage to father his own arguments, and not hide behind some other person. The argument for increased production has been put forward very often. In every country in the world people are talking of it as the solution of their economic problems. The workers are urged to produce more goods for sale to other countries. If all countries adopt that policy and produce at high pressure, the storehouses and factories of the world will be glutted with goods for which there will be no market. It is futile to produce more unless we are assured of greater consumption. I have never yet heard a concrete suggestion put forward by this Government or any of its supporters for increasing the consumption of the goods that the workers are urged to produce in greater quantities. In all parts of Australia warehouses and shops are packed from floor to ceiling with goods that they are seeking to get rid of through the medium of discount sales and other expedients. Under any system there must be surplus production, and this policy of increased production would only pile up greater stocks for the rats and weevils to eat. Is there one commodity of which greater quantities can be profitably produced in Australia? Although there are in Sydney hundreds of children who have never tasted milk and would not recognize it if they saw it, the dairy-farmers along the south coast of New South Wales are producing from 20’ to 70 per cent, morn milk than they can dispose of. That experience is repeated in practically every primary and secondary industry. Before we can go in for increased production the workers must be given a greater purchasing power, so that they may be able to consume more of what they produce. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later date.

Leave granted ; debate adjourned.

page 3392


The following papers were presented : -

Air Navigation Act - Regulations Amended Statutory Rules 1927, No. 148.

Arbitration (Public Service) ActDetermination by the Arbitrator, &c. - No. 1 of 1928 - Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association.

Audit Act - Treasury Regulations - Statu- tory Rules 1927, No. 158.

Census and Statistics Act - Statistics RegulationsStatutory Rules 1928, No. 3.

Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Commerce ( Imports ) Regulations - Statutory Rules 1927, No. 155.

Commonwealth Bank Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1928, No. 7.

Control of Naval Waters Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1927, No. 147.

Customs Act - Proclamation (dated 13th October, 1927) revoking Proclamation (dated 22nd February, 1922) which prohibited the Exportation of Metals, Alloys and Minerals.

Defence Act -

Australian Military RegulationsStatutory Rules 1927, No. 149.

Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1927, No. 146.

Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at -

Hundred of Bagot, North Australia - For Quarantine Station purposes.

Sydenham, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.

Tuggeranong, Federal Territory - For Federal Capital purposes.

Meteorological Act - Regulations AmendmentStatutory Rules 1927, No. 129.

Nationality Act- Return for 1927.

Naval Defence Act - Regulations Amended -Statutory Rules 1928, Nos. 2,6.

Norfolk Island Act - Ordinance of 1927 - No.6 - Brands.

Northern Australia Act -

Central Australia - Encouragement of Primary Production Regulations.

North Australia - Encouragement of Primary Production Regulations.

Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1928, No. 1.

Papua Act - Ordinances of 1927 -

No. 11 - Natives (Non-Indentured Service ) .

No. 12- Distillation.

No. 13 - Superannuation.

Post and Telegraph Act -

Postal Regulations - Statutory Rules 1927, No. 144.

Telegraph Regulations - Statutory Rules 1927, No. 142.

Telephone Regulations - Statutory Rules 1927, No. 145.

Power Alcohol Bounty Act - Regulations Amended- Statutory Rules 1927, No. 136.

Public Service Act -

Appointments -

C.F. Percival, Department of Works and Railways.

Regulations Amended -

Statutory Rules 1927, No. 140.

Statutory Rules 1928, No. 4.

Seat of Government Acceptance Act and

Seat of Government (Administration) Act-

Ordinance of 1927- No. 21- Real Property (No. 2).

Ordinance of 1928 - No. 1 - Provisional Government.

Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1927, No. 133.

Spirits Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1927, No. 154.

Wireless Telegraphy Act - Regulation AmendedStatutory Rules 1927, No. 153.

House adjourned at 10.39 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 February 1928, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.