11th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 2.30 p.m. and read prayers.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) - By leave - proposed -
That unless otherwise ordered this House shall meet for the despatch of business at 3 o’clock on each Wednesday afternoon, at half past 2 o’clock on each Thursday afternoon, and at 11 o’clock on each Friday morning.
.- Did the Prime Minister, before deciding upon the days of sitting he has proposed, take into consideration the convenience of honorable members from the more distant States? Prior to the termination of the last Parliament I suggested to him that the convenience of members generally, and particularly those from South Australia and Tasmania, -would be met if the sitting days were altered to Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. That arrangement would not inconvenience members from New South Wales and Victoria but would enable those from South Australia and Tasmania to return to their States in time to transact public business on Saturday mornings, and spend the Sundays with their families.
– I gave full consideration to the suggestion of the honorable member, but it is almost impossible to arrange sitting days that will suit the convenience of all honorable members. So long as the House meets on three days weekly, the Government is willing to make whatever arrangements will suit the majority of honorable members. So far as I have been able to ascertain, most of them prefer that the House should meet on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. But I suggest that the Government and Opposition Whips should ascertain the wishes of honorable members, and the Government will then propose whatever sitting days will convenience the majority.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. Yesterday, when the Prime Minister moved a motion of sympathy with Her Majesty the Queen because of the illness of His Majesty, I desired to make an addition to the motion with the object of expressing admiration of the courage of another member of the Royal Family, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, in visiting the povertystricken coal-fields of Great Britain, and of his broad sympathy with the miners. 1 asked the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) to write out the terms of the motion. They were as follow : -
That this House expresses its gratification at the courage of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, in visiting the povertystricken areas of the coal districts of North Britain, appreciates his broad humanitarianism, and regrets, to hear that 300,000 men, women and children of Great Britain are confronted with want, misery, desolation and death - that six families should bc living in one hovel - that men should only earn 38s. for sixteen shifts of work - shares the horror of His Royal Highness at such conditions and expresses its determination that such conditions shall never prevail in Australia.
The Prime Minister was not prepared to accept that addition to his motion. He was quite willing to express sympathy with Her Majesty, but he would not allow one word to be said about the horror of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales at the miserable conditions under which the coal miners were living.
– The honorable member is entitled to make a personal explanation if ho thinks he has been misrepresented in respect of any matter, but I must ask him to confine his remarks to such a matter. I presume that he intends to do so.
– As a -result of the conduct of the Prime Minister in refusing to permit a word of congratulation to the Prince of Wales for his courage in visiting the coal miners, I conducted myself in what some .honorable members may have considered an unruly, improper and undignified manner - to use words which the Prime Minister so likes to use. In ordinary circumstances, no honorable member in this chamber is more ready to express regret if in a moment of passion he has forgotten himself and behaved in an improper manner. I realize, Mr. Speaker, that you are often lenient with me. I know full well that had the right honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) still been the occupant of the Chair, he, notwithstanding the years that we have been acquainted, would not have allowed me the latitude that you did yesterday. I appreciate your leniency. But you may recall, sir, that after the House adjourned yesterday you took afternoon tea with the President of the Senate, Sir John Newlands, in company with several members of the Ministry. Two of them - and if you have forgotten the incident I can recall their names to you - had the audacity to tell you what you should have done to the honorable member for Bourke.
– The honorable member is not making a personal explanation regarding any matter about which he may have been misrepresented. I ask him to confine himself to such an explanation.
– These gentlemen shook you, as they shook me, by the hand, Mr. Speaker, and they were in fact the double-dyed assassins who, in conjunction with the Prime Minister, tried to deprive you of your position of Speaker.
– Order ! The honorable member must resume his seat.
– I do so, Mr. Speaker, having said all that I have to say.
– The honorable member has abused the privilege that members enjoy in being allowed to make personal explanations, notwithstanding that he was warned several times not to do so. Regarding the allegation he made, I may say that no member of the Ministry made any observation to me in regard to the incident to which the honorable member has’ referred. I must ask the honorable member in future to conform with the rules of debate. He has been a member of this House long enough to know exactly the limitations applying to the right to make a personal explanation.
– Having made these remarks, I now wish without any apology to any one-
– If the honorable member intends now to give notice of a motion he must do so without comment.
– I give notice that tomorrow I intend to move the motion which I was debarred from moving yesterday.
– The honorable member must not discuss his notice of motion.
– I intend to put this motion on the notice-paper, and if it is never discussed it will still stand there-
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to obey the Chair.
– I am not discussing the motion, sir, I am merely making an interpolation. I intend to move -
That this House expresses its gratification at the courage of His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, in visiting the povertystricken areas of the coal districts of North Britain, appreciates his broad humanitarianism, and regrets to hear that 300,000 men, women and children of Great Britain are confronted with want, misery, desolation and death - that six families should he living in one hovel - that men should only earn 38s. for sixteen shifts of work - shares the horror of His Royal Highness at such conditions and expresses its determination that such conditions shall never prevail in Australia.
The motion will stand on the noticepaper as a testimony of the opinion of the people of Australia-
– I again ask the honorable member not to discuss the motion. A notice should be given without comment of any kind.
– Well, the motion will stand on the business-paper whether the Ministry will or will not allow it to be discussed.
– Will the Prime Minister lay upon the table of the House the whole of the papers in connexion with the negotiations which have taken place between himself and the overseas shipping companies regarding the proposed increase of shipping freights?
– I shall look into the matter and see if there are any papers that can be made available. The negotiations were conducted personally between representatives of the overseas shipping companies in Australia and myself.
– Has the Prime Minister received the report of Mr. Justice Pike, dealing with soldier land settlement, and if so, will he make it available to honorable members ?
– The report has not yet been received. I suggest that in order to ensure fuller information being obtained, the honorable member should place a question upon the notice-paper. I will then have the necessary inquiries made to ascertain when the report is likely to be received.
– In view of the discriminatory duties, including dumping duties, on Australian products, imposed by the Government of the United States of America, and in view also of Australia’s adverse trade balance with the United States of America, will the Prime Minister give serious consideration to the advisability of imposing similar duties on importations from any country which penalizes Australian products?
– I remind honorable members that questions without notice should relate to matters of urgent public importance, and I suggest to the honorable member that, to obtain the fullest information he should put his question on the notice paper. If I answered the question in the terms in which he has framed it, I should have to say that the imposition of duties is a matter of Government policy, which it is not customary to announce in reply to questions. But if he puts his question in another form and gives notice of it, he will get the fullest information.
– I ask the Prime Minister (1) In view of the grave position of the coal-mining industry in New South Wales, and in view also of the many requests made by the miners’ organizations for a thorough investigation into the price of coal and the owners’ profits, will the Prime Minister institute an immediate inquiry into all difficulties affecting the industry with a view to avoiding an industrial crisis? (2) Does he realize that the industrial laws recently passed by his Government, especially the
Crimes Act, the Transport “Workers Act, and the coercive amendments to the Arbitration Act, are assisting the rapacious coal owners to exploit the miners?
– The present position of the coal-mining industry of New South Wales is mainly the concern of the . Government of that State. The Commonwealth powers in connexion with an inquiry such as is suggested by the honorable member would be limited, but if there were joint action by the Commonwealth and the New South Wales Governments, or if the State Government alone instituted an inquiry, the investigation would be much more thorough. I suggest that the first part of the honorable member’s question is one for the notice-paper. The second question is so framed that it asks for the expression of an opinion, and is therefore not in order as a question to a Minister.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral in a position to inform the House of the result of tests recently made in connexion with automatic telephones for country exchanges?
– The department has five country automatic telephone exchanges in operation, and tests indicate that they are working satisfactorily.
Appointment and Pay or Admirals
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House what authority decides when the Admiral of the Australian fleet should retire, who appoints his successor, and who pays the Admiral ?
– Perhaps it would be as well if I made a short general statement with regard to questions without notice. Those who were members of the last Parliament will recall that, towards the end of the session, the number of questions asked without notice became so great that on some days we were occupied with them for as long as three-quarters of an hour. Questions without notice should relate only to matters of urgent public importance. Honorable members have ample opportunity to put questions on the notice-paper with regard to all other matters, and by doing so they will obtain much fuller information than it is possible to give when Ministers are questioned without notice. Replying to the enquiry of the honorable member, the Admiral of the Australian fleet is appointed for a term of years. His pay and the appointment of his successor are matters entirely in the hands of the Commonwealth Government. The pay of the Admiral is a charge on the consolidated revenue of the Commonwealth.
– Has the Government yet received the report of the Royal Commission on Constitutional Amendment; if not, can the Prime Minister explain the cause of the inordinate delay in the presentation of that report to the Government, and does he expect that it will be presented during this session of Parliament?
– That is a question for the notice-paper. The Government has not yet received the report; hut it would be unfair to suggest that there has been inordinate delay in the preparation of the report, because probably no greater subject than that of the revision of the Constitution has ever before been investigated by a royal commission. I have no information from the commission at present as to when its report may be expected.
– At the recent general election a great number of informal votes were cast, particularly in South Australia. One of the reasons for that is that in South Australia to-day there is in operation for State and municipal elections the method of marking the ballot-papers with crosses. I ask the Minister for Home Affairs, when dealing with electoral matters, to consider the advisability of convening a conference of the representatives of the Commonwealth and the States for the purpose of securing a uniform system of voting throughout the Commonwealth.
– I shall give consideration to the remarks of the honorable member and inform him at a later date what steps will he taken.
– When does the Government propose to lay upon the table of the House the report of the Economic Mission, so that it may be available to honorable members?
– I shall take steps to lay the report on the table to-day.
Evidence of Mr. Campbell Jones
– I desire to address a question to you, Mr. Speaker. I notice by to-day’s press that a gentleman named Mr. Campbell Jones, the managing director of the Sun, has given information before the Shepherd inquiry which is now being held. Some years ago I travelled on the continent with many of the proprietors and editors of the daily press of Australia, among whom was Mr. Campbell Jones, and I was associated with him for a long time. It was from those gentlemen that I derived the culture which honorable members so much admire in me to-day. Mr. Campbell Jones, giving evidence at the inquiry, said that he remembered meeting the Prime Minister at the Hotel Australia, and that Mr. Bruce was ashamed of his platform delivery.
– Does the honorable member intend to ask a question relating to the affairs of the House, for the administration of which I am responsible?
– My question has relation to the dignity and forms of this chamber, and I am addressing it to you, Mr. Speaker, because you are the custodian of these.
– I ask the honorable member to state his question briefly.
– That is my wish. Mr. Campbell Jones stated that Mr. Bruce was troubled about his platform delivery, and that he wished to get rid of the trouble. Mr. Bruce said to him “You know, Mr. Campbell Jones, my trouble is my damned superiority.”
– Order ! The honorable member well knows that questions of a frivolous character ought not to be asked, and so far his question is definitely of that character. Unless the honorable member intends to comply with the rules of this chamber, I ask him not to pro ceed.
– If you, Mr. Speaker, are not anxious to improve the manners of the Prime Minister, I am satisfied to discontinue my remarks.
Decision of Privy Council
– In view of the recent decision of the Privy Council relating to the ownership of Garden Island, will the Government consider the transfer of the naval establishment from there to Cockatoo Island, because, undoubtedly, Cockatoo Island belongs to the Government?
– The Government must certainly consider what steps are to be taken with regard to Garden Island now that the Privy Council has declared that the island does not belong to the Commonwealth. There is little likelihood that the Commonwealth would be prepared to continue the establishment there unless the State of New South Wales is prepared to transfer the island to the Commonwealth without payment.
– When the Prime Minister is dealing with this matter will he take into consideration the recommendation of the naval advisers of the Government that the naval base should be removed from the port of Sydney altogether, and whether it should not be transferred to Port Stephens as originally intended ?
– It is obvious that the Government must give consideration to the whole matter. It is also certain that the recommendations that have been made in regard to Port Stephens which, if carried out, would involve the complete removal of the naval base from Sydney, must have the consideration of the Government.
– In view of the fact that the construction of the Port Augusta to Red Hill railway would have a beneficial effect on Australia generally, and, incidentally, would relieve the acute unemployment existing in South Australia, and as the project has been approved by the Federal Public Works Committee, and is also part of the agreement with South Australia, which, I contend, should be honoured, will the Prime Minister consider restoring to the business-paper the subject of the construction of this railway so that the work may be proceeded with at an early date?
– The statement in the last part of the question is not quite accurate. There is no agreement to carry out this work, and there would be no breach of an agreement if it were never carried out. An agreement with the State of South Australia gives us a permissive right to build the line if we wish to do so. Speaking generally, let me say that the whole matter is governed by the amount of loan moneys available, and I can hold out no prospect of the railway being proceeded with during the present financial year. The project will receive full consideration when the Government is framing its financial policy for next year.
– For some time negotiations have been proceeding between the Postmaster-General and the Tasmanian Steamers Limited with respect to the proposed shipping service to Tasmania. I ask the Postmaster-General when we may expect from him a statement on this subject?
– The negotiations are still proceeding, and the Government is awaiting the report of the Transport Committee which is investigating shipping and other transport facilities relating to Tasmania.
– Has the Prime Minister received the report of the Transport Committee referred to by the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Gibson) in his reply to the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson)? If he has, when will it be made available to honorable members?
– The report has been received and despatched to the Premier of Tasmania, and will be made available to honorable members as soon as it has been received by the Premier of that State. Honorable members will recognize the right of the Premier of Tasmania to receive the report before publication.
Ratification by Australia.
– Has the Government ratified or decided to ratify the Kellogg Pact, and if so will honorable members have an opportunity of debating the pact before formal ratification is made; also, have Great Britain and the other Dominions agreed to ratify the pact?
– The Government has already taken the necessary steps to move His Majesty to ratify the treaty on behalf of the Commonwealth of Australia. I understand that the British Government has already taken action in this respect so far as Great Britain is concerned. I have not yet been informed whether the other dominions have moved to have the treaty ratified, but I have no doubt that the ratifications on behalf of all the nations comprising the British Empire will be deposited at Washington in the near future. The Government does not propose to offer facilities for debating the treaty in this Parliament, because it was submitted to and fully discussed in this Parliament last year. In any event, it would be impracticable for such discussion to take place prior to ratification, as it is desirable that the ratifications shall be deposited immediately.
– Reference is made in the Governor-General’s Speech to a proposed conferenceof Commonwealth and State Ministers, and the Government, through the press, has announced its intention of co-operating with the States on the matter of certain proposals for the unification of Australian railway gauges. Will the Prime Minister say if this House will have an opportunity of discussing this subject before the conference is held, and, if not, will the right honorable gentleman undertake that no financial commitments will be entered into with the States until this House has had an opportunity of examining and ratifying them?
– At a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers at the beginning of last month it was agreed that the estimate of the cost of unification under the scheme laid down in the Royal Commission’s report of 1921 should be reconsidered by the Railways Commissioners of Australia, and that a separate investigation should be made concerning the cost of having a uniform gauge between Sydney and Melbourne. The Commonwealth Railways Commissioner and the Railways Commissioners of Victoria were asked to report as to the saving, improved traffic facilities, and other benefits that might result from the work. These matters will be duly considered at the forthcoming conference with the Premiers ; but any agreement arrived at will be subject to the approval of Parliament. No definite or binding agreement can be entered into otherwise.
– In view of the Prime Minister’s request that only questions of urgent public importance should be asked without notice, and his reply to the honorable member for Wannon, I am somewhat in a quandary concerning eighteen or twenty questions which I wish to ask without notice. I should like your direction, Sir, as to who decides whether a question is, or is not, of urgent public importance? Does it rest with the Minister or with the Chair?
– There is no standing order or practice governing the matter. It is at the discretion of a Minister to whom a question is directed to answer it or not, or to ask that it be placed on the notice-paper. In previous Parliaments requests similar to that made by the Prime Minister to-day have been made.
-Will the Minister for Home Affairs lay upon the table of the House all the papers in connexion with the contract for constructing the foundations of the proposed Administrative Block at Canberra?
– I shall obtain the file, and have it placed at the disposal of the honorable member.
– In view of the fact that the Prime Minister, when in Hobart during the recent election campaign, made a promise to a certain gentleman that he would return later for a holiday and would then take the opportunity of discussing the disabilities under which Tasmania is suffering, will he state whether he has any intention of honouring that promise?
– I did not promise that I would return to Tasmania, knowing full well that difficulties might arise to prevent it; but I said that I would do my best to return there for a holiday - only on the distinct understanding that business matters should occupy only one day, and that the rest of my time was to be spent on holiday. Unfortunately, I was not able to get away for that holiday; but I should very much like to do so at a later period, and will then be pleased to discuss Tasmania’s difficulties.
– In view of the grave charges which have been made regarding the killing and ill-treatment of aborigines in Central Australia and the Northern Territory, will the Prime Minister state whether the Government has yet received the report of Mr. 0’Kelly, who was commissioned to inquire into the charges, and if so, whether he will make available at the earliest moment both the report and the evidence tendered at the inquiry?
– The report will be tabled to-day.
– Has the Prime Minister’ any statement to make concerning the negotiations with the Premier of South Australia in regard to the imposition of a petrol tax, and the possibility that such a tax may take the place of the present power tax? Will he also consider making provision to the effect that persons using petrol for power purposes other than road vehicles will receive a refund of any such tax paid, and will not be called upon to pay such tax in the future?
– Some slight feeling seems to be created when Ministers answer soma questions without notice and request that others be placed on the notice-paper. For that reason I shall refrain from answering the honorable member’s question, and ask him to give notice of it.
– In view of the fact that much inconvenience has been caused to the public by the confusion which exists as to the correct official address of some government departments, will the Prime Minister give consideration to the proposal that the official address of all departments shall be Canberra?
– I shall look into the matter, and see what can be done.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs refer to. the Tariff Board for immediate inquiry the action of the wholesale woollen piecegood dealers of Australia in refusing to handle Australian-made goods if the mark “ Made in Australia “ was placed upon the selvedge? Will the Minister see that the matter is treated as one of extreme urgency, so that a stop shall be put to this sabotaging of Australian industry ?
– I shall be pleased to give the matter early consideration.
– Will the Treasurer, as head of the Page section of the Government, state whether, in his opinion, it might not be advisable to curtail or abolish the practice of answering questions without notice, thus expediting the conduct of public business? What does he intend to do’
– The honorable member has touched on a matter of policy, and it is not the practice of Ministers to answer questions dealing with such subjects.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the report of the commission which has been inquiring into the financial position of South Australia has yet been received?
Installation on Cape Barren Island - Equipment of Coastal Vessels.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. The department, during the past five years, has frequently given consideration to establishing wireless communication for isolated settlers, but the cost of providing such services, except in one or two instances, has been found to be unjustified by the very small return that would be received. As an alternative, the department has encouraged settlers to establish their own services, and in this connexion has authorized the Australian Inland Mission to install several low-power sets as an experiment. The comprehensive results of these experiments are not yet known, but information is now expected in reply to inquiries recently made.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Approximately 2 grammes are about to be used for the production of emanation. The remainder has been allocated for various purposes and is now in process of distribution or reconditioning for appropriate forms of use.
University of Sydney.
Orange District Hospital.
Bendigo Base Hospital.
Brisbane and South Coast Hospitals Board.
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I am not at present in a position to supply the particulars desired by the honorable member; but I shall make them available as soon as possible. Some accounts are still outstanding, and the checking of those already received has not yet been completed, whilst, in the case of certain of the States, the apportionment of cost as between them and the Commonwealth is still the subject of correspondence.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
In view of the opinion enunciated by scientific men who are studying diet that dried fruits as a food are injured by being exposed to the fumes of sulphur, &c., will he have inquiries made into this alleged injury, and, if proved to his satisfaction, will he have information sent to the producers of dried fruits and published, so that all growers may be informed as to the best mode of treatment?
– This matter among others has been considered by various Commonwealth and States conferences on uniform standards for food and drugs, and regulations administered by the States are in force dealing with the matter.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Referring to the question of the honorable Member for Brisbane on the 30th August, 1928, regarding a proposed amendment of the Customs Act to give effect to the request for uniform customs duties, will the Minister state how this matter now stands?
– An amendment of the Customs Act 1901-1925 has been drafted and is now under consideration.
Telegraph Charges - Wireless Service
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
In view of the fact that the home, independent ofits value, is secured to the old-age pensioner without deduction from the pension, provided that no income is obtained by the letting of rooms, will the Minister request the Government to make more equitable regulations, so that the old-age pensioner who has saved two or three hundred pounds will not be deprived of pension, when such pensioner reaches the statutory age?
– The act embodies the principle that any amount of property used as a home, even though exceeding £300, is not taken into account in determining the amount of an old-age pension. Further any claimant whose property does not exceed £400 may receive a pension, though a reduction is made in the amount of pension where the property exceeds £50. It is not proposed to extend these provisions.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
As a result of his promise to look into the many vexatious and unnecessary questions oldage pension applicants have to answer, has he decided to eliminate any of these questions?
– The questions which applicants for old-age pensions have to answer have been reduced to a minimum,andIfeelthatanyfurtherre duction would not be in the interests of applicants, as delay would be likely to arise in the determination of their claims.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions, are as follow : -
In 1925 representations were made by the Commonwealth Government to the State Governments, which are responsible for the control of education, asking that the establishment of foreign schools, where instruction would be given principally in a language other than English, should be discountenanced. Replies were received from those Governments indicating that no encouragement was being given or facilities provided for the establishment of such schools.
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Tariff Board’s Report
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions ure as follow : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice-
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– Negotiations have taken place between the Commonwealth and the Victorian and South Australian Railway Commissioners, but up to the present it has not been possible to arrange for the sleeping cars to be run through to Terowie as desired.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
The following papers were presented : -
Audit Act - Finance Act - Finance 1927-28 - The Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditure during the year ended 30th June, 1928, accompanied by the Report of the Auditor-General.
Public Service Act -
Fifth Report on the Commonwealth Public Service by the Board of Commissioners, dated 1st December, 1928.
Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Fourth Annual Report of the Federal Capital Commission, for the year ended 30th June, 1928.
River Murray Water Act - River Murray Commission - Report for the Year 1927-28; together with Statements showing gaugings made at Gauging Stations on, and quantities of water diverted from the River Murray and tributaries.
Ordered to be printed.
Central Australia - Finding and evidence of Board of Inquiry concerning the killing of natives in Central Australia by police parties/ and others.
Air ForceAct - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules, 1928, No. 109.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
Nos. 33, 34, 35 and 36 of 1928- Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia, Australian Postal Electricians’ Union, and Fourth Division Postmasters, Postal Clerks and Telegraphists’ Union.
Nos. 37, 38, 39 and 40 of 1928 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia. Australian Postal Electricians’ Union, Australian Third Division Telegraphists and Postal Clerks’ Union, Commonwealth Telegraph Traffic and Supervisory Officers’ Association.
No. 41 of 1928 - Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association.
No. 42 of 1928 - Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
No. 43 of 1928 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 44 of 1928 - Postal Overseers’ Union of Australia.
No. 45 of 1928 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
Nos. 46, 47, and 48 of 1928- Fourth Division Postmasters, Postal Clerks and Telegraphists’ Union.
Nos. 49, 50 and 51 of 1928- Arms, Explosives and Munitions Workers’ Federation of Australia.
No. 52 of 1928 - Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
No. 1 of 1929. - Commonwealth Temporary Clerks’ Association.
Nos. 2, 3 and 4 of 1929. - Australian Postal Electrician’s Union, Australian Third Division Telegraphists and Postal Clerks’ Union, Commonwealth Telegraph Traffic and Supervisory Officers’ Association.
No. 5 of 1929 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
Audit Act -
Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1928, No. 90.
Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial year, 1927-28- Dated 24th January, 1929.
British Economic Mission - Nominated by His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain at the request of His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia. - Report dated 7th January, 1929.
Commonwealth Bank Act -
Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1928, Nos. 101, 102, 127, 128.
Treasurer’s Statement of the Combined Accounts of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Commonwealth Savings Bank, as at 30th June, 1928.
Commonwealth Shipping Act - Commonwealth Shipping Board.
Profit and Loss Account for the year 1st April, 1927, to 31st March, 1928.
Balance-sheet as at 31st March, 1928.
Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers -
Profit and Loss Account for the year 1stApril, 1927, to 31st March, 1928.
Balance-sheet as at 31st March, 1928.
Cockatoo Island -
Profit and Loss Account for the year 1st April, 1927, to 31st March, 1928.
Balance-sheet as at 31st March, 1928.
Customs Act -
Proclamation, dated 7th December, 1928, prohibiting the exportation (except under certain conditions) of Cinematograph Films produced in Australia.
Regulations Amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1928. Nos. 95, 132.
Defence Act - Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1928, Nos. 103, 121, 125, 126.
Statutory Rules 1929, No. 4.
Electoral Act and Referendum (Constitution Alteration ) Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1928, Nos. 107, 117.
Excise Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1928, No. 131.
Export Guarantee Act - Return showing assistance granted to - 30th September, 1928. 3 1st December, 1928.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at - Ceduna, South Australia - For Defence purposes.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1928, Nos. 120. 122,
138, 140, 141.
Statutory Rules 1929, Nos. 5, 6.
Navigation Act - Report of cases in which the Governor-General, during the year ended 31st December, 1928, exercised his powersunder section 422a of the Act to exempt certain ships from compliance with specified requirements of the Act.
New Guinea Act- -
Ordinances of 1928 -
No. 19- Supply (No. 2), 1928-29.
No. 20 - Miners’ Homestead Leases.
No. 21 - Mineral Oil and Coal.
No. 22 - Currency Coinage and Tokens.
No. 23 - Laws Repeal and Adopting.
No. 24 - Expropriation.
No. 25 - Natives’ Contracts Protection.
No. 26 - Police Offences.
No. 27 - Loan.
No. 28 - Native Labour.
No. 29 - Judiciary (No. 3).
No. 30 - Prisons.
No. 31 - Appropriation, 1928-29.
No. 32 - Lands Registration.
No. 33 - Bounties.
No. 34 - Administrator’s Powers.
No. 35 - Superannuation.
Northern Australia Act -
Central Australia -
Ordinances of 1928 -
No. 20 - Service and Execution of Process.
No. 21 - Aboriginals (No. 2).
No. 22 - Nurses and Midwives Registration.
No. 23 - Income Tax.
No. 24 - Justices.
No. 25 - Government Resident.
No. 26 - Leprosy.
No. 27 - Poisons.
No. 28 - Printers and Newspapers.
No. 29 - Dangerous Drugs (No. 2).
No. 30 - Board of Inquiry.
Public Service Ordinance - Regulations.
North Australia -
Ordinances of 1928 -
No. 22 - Service and Execution of Process.
No. 23- Aboriginals (No. 2).
No. 24 - Nurses and Midwives Registration.
No. 25 - Income Tax.
No. 27 - Government Resident.
No. 28 - Leprosy.
No. 29 - Poisons.
No. 30 - Printers and Newspapers.
No. 31 - Dangerous Drugs (No. 2).
No. 32 - Roads.
Papua Act - Ordinances of 1928 -
Northern Territory Representation Act and Commonwealth Electoral Act -
Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1928, Nos. 108, 119.
Papua Act - Ordinances of 1928 -
No. 2 - Gaming.
No. 8 - Appropriation 1928-29; together with Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1929.
No. 9 - Supplementary Appropriation (No. 2) 1927-28; together with Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure (No. 2) for the year ended 30th June, 1928.
Public Service Act -
Appointments - Department of -
Home and Territories-H. S. Tregenza.
Treasury - G. Smith.
Works and Railways - J. P. Whyte.
Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1928, Nos. 104, 105.
Statutory Rules 1929, No. 1.
Railways Act - By-laws Nos. 49, 50, 51.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act-
Ordinances of 1928 -
No. 21- Public Health.
No. 22 - Board of Inquiry.
No. 23- Public Parks.
No. 24 - Liquor.
Liquor Ordinance - Regulations.
Seat of Government (Administration) Act -
Regulations, Amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1928, Nos. 116, 136, 139.
Science and Industry Endowment Act - Report by the Auditor-General on the Science and Industry Endowment Fund as at 30th June, 1928.
Spirits Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1928, No. 106.
Transport Workers Act - Regulations Amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1928, Nos. 98, 111, 130.
.; I move ;
That the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley) be appointed Chairman of Committees of this House.
Very few words are needed to commend this proposal to the approval of honorable members. Throughout its history this House has been very well served by the gentlemen chosen from time to time to preside over its deliberations. But by none have those duties been carried out with more conspicuous success than by the honorable member for Oxley, who occupied the position of Chairman of Committees in the last Parliament. His fairness, tact, and ability commended themselves to honorable members; his firmness, also, was gratifying to all. There may have been occasions when certain unruly members may have considered that firmness to have been carried too far, but on the whole those who served in the last Parliament had very good reason to appreciate his conduct of the business in committee.
.- I have much pleasure in seconding the motion. The honorable member for Oxley as Chairman of Committees in the last Parliament displayed a thorough knowledge of the rules of debate and parliamentary procedure.
.- The honorable member for Oxley was Chairman of Committees in the last Parliament, and I express my pleasure that he is likely to be re-elected to that office. I understand that ambition prompted him to aspire to greater heights, but to ensure success ambition should be made of sterner stuff. At one stage of strenuous debate” during the last Parliament, I was impelled by a high sense of public duty to declare that the Chairman was then awake. I was immediately required by him to withdraw that statement. Obediently I said that the Chairman was not awake, and for that was asked to apologize. Thereupon I declared that the Chairman was neither asleep nor awake. He named me and sent for the Prime Minister, whose stern duty it was to propose that effect be given to the disciplinary forms of the Committee. The result was that I, a docile and more or less inconspicuous member, bad to apologize, and I did so with the abjectness characteristic of me in such circumstances.
I did not rise to congratulate you, Sir Littleton, upon being elected Speaker of this chamber, although I may tell you confidentially that if your position had been challenged I should undoubtedly have done my best to secure your retention in that high office. Not having congratulated you at the moment, sir, I take the liberty of doing so now, for that seems to be peculiarly relevant to the motion before the chamber. I believe that the highest office of the Parliament, that of Mr. Speaker, should be left to the decision of the House and should not be the subject-matter of party manoeuvring.
– I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the motion before the chair.
– If you do not desire me to pursue that line of discussion, sir, I shall cheerfully let it alone. I do not say that I would have proposed the honorable member for Oxley as Chairman of Committees; I merely congratulate him upon the fact that he is to be appointed. The honorable member has some excellent qualities which perhaps fit him for the position. On the other hand, a too intense loyalty to the friends of one’s party should not be manifested by the Chairman of Committees. Friendship is an admirable quality. Loyalty to one’s friends is desirable. Loyalty to one’s party is at least a political virtue. But these are not qualities which should show in an incandescent light in the Chairman of Committees of a deliberative assembly. In congratulating the honorable member upon his prospective appointment, I may at least say that I accept it with Christian resignation. I do not promise him an absolutely easy passage, but I assure him that the application of draconian methods will npt be found to be the most effective way to discharge his duties. I hope that if he presides at all in the next Parliament it will still be as Chairman of Committees.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
.- I thank the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Hurry) and the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) for their remarks in moving and seconding the motion, and honorable members generally for supporting it. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) must, of course, have his little say; but one need not give much attention to it. I assure the House that I shall do my utmost to uphold the honour and dignity of the Committee. My one object will be to see that the forms of the Committee are properly observed. I trust that I may pursue that aim so long as I retain the office.
The committee appointed to prepare an Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s speech(vide page 6), having presented the proposed address, it was read by the Clerk.
.- I move -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s speech be agreed to -
May it Please Your Excellency,
We, the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, beg to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
It is most gratifying to know that His Majestythe King continues to improve in health. I am sure that the people of Australia will hail with joy and thankfulness his complete recovery. His continued progress after such a serious illness is a fine tribute to his courage and the soundness of his constitution. The Royal Family, in their time of anxiety, must be much comforted by the knowledge that His Majesty’s recovery was earnestly desired and prayed for not only by the people of the great British Empire, but by the people of practically the whole civilized world.
I offer my congratulations to the Prime Minister and his Government upon having been returned to power with such strong evidences of the continued confidence of the people.While it must be admitted that several losses were sustained these were entirely due to circumstances outside of the arena of federal politics. The Prime Minister has made a very remarkable record in the history of the Commonwealth by holding the office of Prime Minister in a continuous ministry for a longer period than any of his predecessors. That he has held office for so long and with such marked success is undoubtedly an evidence of the confidence that the people of Australia have in him.
It is a matter of gratification to the citizens of the Commonwealth that Australia was one of the original signatories to the treaty for the renunciation of war. and that she has taken her stand with the Mother Country, than whom no other country has made such great sacrifices with the object of outlawing war.
That the weather conditions over a large area of Queensland and New South Wales have greatly improved is also a matter for thanksgiving. A great deal more rain is still required in our pastoral and’ farming areas to make the position satisfactory. Such rain as has so far fallen has relieved the position temporarily.
The proceedings of the Industrial Conference are being hopefully watched. There never was a time in the history of the Commonwealth when it was more necessary that the employers and employees respectively should get together. Of late the spirit that has been abroad may be described in this way - “We are enemies because we do not understand one another. We do not understand one another because we are enemies. “ That kind of thing takes us nowhere except into trouble, and it is time that those engaged in industry should recognize their complete oneness. Wages must come out of industry and industry must be profitable and prosperous before it can pay satisfactory wages. No one in this House desires more than I do to maintain a good standard of living and a high rate of wages - in fact the highest rate of wages that industry can pay. But a satisfactory position in industry is impossible without complete co-operation. The happenings of recent years cannot be allowed to continue. We have an Arbitration Court which at one time was held in the highest admiration by the Labour party. We were told that it was the panacea for all ills from which the community was suffering. If we consider the attitude which the Labour party adopts to-day towards the Arbitration Court we may ask ourselves whether the Labour party is such except in name, or whether its ideals have changed. Time after time the so-called trade unions, which are largely political unions, have approached the Arbitration Court and asked that an award should be made. When the award has been made they have accepted it if it suited them, or have rejected it and declared that it was incapable of acceptance. Such conduct can only lead us into a morass of trouble and difficulty. We heard the references that were made to-day by the honorable member for Anstey-
– The honorable member for Bourke.
– I said the honorable member for Anstey deliberately, Mr. Speaker, because I felt that the honorable member was representing nobody but himself when he made the remarks which I have in mind. I did not hear the honorable gentleman advance a single argument with the object of getting the workers of Australia to obey the laws of the land in order to avoid the plight of the coal miners to whom ‘ he made reference. None of the so-called leaders of the Labour movement on the other side of the chamber have told us what will happen to our coal mining industry if the present course of action is continued.
In the last few years we have had the spectacle of many of our key industries being dislocated. It is a singular thing that whenever a strike of any magnitude occurs it is in a key industry. First of all we had the great maritime upheaval, for which there was not the slightest justification. Then there was ‘the trouble in the coal mining industry. It must be apparent to everybody that there is something radically wrong in this industry when coal can be purchased practically anywhere in Europe, shipped 12,000 miles and landed on the wharf at Newcastle for 7s. a ton less than the price for which it can be purchased at the pit’s mouth in the Newcastle district.
Our timber industry is at present in a parlous condition. The Timber Workers’ Union sought an award of the court and, having obtained it, refused to accept it, and decline to be bound by it. The men working in the industry are quite satisfied with the conditions which the judge of the court has laid down, but the officers of the union are doing their utmost to hinder them from settling down honestly at their work. Several efforts have been made in this Parliament to increase the duties on timber, with the alleged object of protecting this industry, but we cannot go on for ever doing that kind of thing. The whole system must break down if we persist in attempting to apply the theory that the trade unions are above the law of the land and are not bound to uphold it. Although the rank and file of the Labour movement are steadfast in their desire to see Australia prosper they are led by men whose actions are not conducive to that end. The men are not. allowed to follow their own inclinations in regard to employment, with the result that both they and their employers suffer. These and cognate causes have been responsible for record unemployment throughout Australia. This unemployment is not due so much to seasonal difficulties as to the lack of security in industry, resulting from an absence of co-operation between employers and employees. These facts must be well known to honorable members opposite; but apparently they lack the courage to tell them to their supporters and members of trade unions. “We are all looking for closer co-operation in industry as the outcome of the industrial conference which was inaugurated in Melbourne towards the end of last year, and I am sure that none will welcome it more than honorable members on this side of the House. There should be no unemployment in Australia. If we are to progress there must be a clear recognition of the fact that men who take a day’s pay but give only half a day’s work in return, are . neither more nor less than industrial parasites destroying the host upon which they live. But, unfortunately, the trouble does not end there. Industrialists who adopt this practice interfere seriously with the position of their fellow workers, because an inadequate return in industry sends up the cost of living against every person in the community.
There is another . matter to which I desire to allude. In recent years, attempts have been made throughout Australia by persons associated with political movements to interfere with the right of other men by constraining them to adopt a course of action which they do not necessarily desire to take. Trade unionists who, by the exercise of freedom of thought and action, incur the animosity of militant members of their organizations, have the opprobrious epithet of “ scab “ applied to them. This should not be tolerated in a free country like Australia. Every man who claims the right not to work himself, should also concede to another man the right to work if he so desires. Any man is at liberty to say that he will not work for a certain wage, or under certain conditions ; but certainly he has no right to say that another man shall not take up his job if he chooses to do so. These are things that have to be recognized, and I believe the recognition of this principle will be the outcome of the further sessions of the industrial conference, because I am sure that all genuine workers in Australia desire peace in industry, so that they may share in its prosperity.
I am exceedingly gratified to note that, in the main, the report. of the Economic Mission is a complete endorsement of the policy of this Government for sever a i years past. On the question of public borrowing, it is shown that the public debts of the States have grown from £519,000,000 in June, 1922, to £723,000,000 in June, 192S, an increase of £204,000,000. In the same period the Commonwealth public debt, exclusive , of loans raised for the States, increased by only £7,000,000. This I regard as convincing evidence of the economy practised by the present Government, and of its desire to restrict public expenditure. A considerable portion of the expenditure in certain of the States has been in connexion with fantastic, socialistic enterprises, launched by State Labour governments in spite of their obvious unsoundness. Members of the Economic Mission, in their references to the increase in our public debt, pointed out that much of it was due to expenditure on developmental schemes undertaken without sufficient regard to their probable financial and economical results, or without adequate preliminary investigation of the schemes themselves. This is a matter to which the present Government has been directing attention for several years. Let me cite, as an illustration of my argument, what has happened in Queensland.
The public debt of that State has increased from £56,000,000 in 1915 to £111,700,000 in 1928. This increase is due largely to socialistic enterprises undertaken by the State Government. State butchers’ shops, which were supposed to give the people cheaper meat, were established at various centres. These shops did nothing of the kind. The meat was dearer and not necessarily of as good quality. This particular enterprise has cost the people of Queensland £1,406,580. The State Government has now reduced the number of State butchers’ shops from 72 in 1923 to 45 in 1928, but still they are a losing proposition. At long last the deluded workers realize that these fantastic proposals do not give an adequate return, but that, on the contrary, they add to the financial burden of the State by requiring increased taxation, higher costs and by the multiplication of the unemployed. Indeed, so rapid has been the increase in unemployment in Queensland that the authorities have ceased to take statistics regarding unemployment in that State.
I am hoping that the Government will be able to arrange for an extension of the term and a modification of the migration agreement with Great Britain, on the lines indicated by the Economic Mission. The mission suggests that the period of the agreement should be extended and that the money to be made available under it should be expended on works calculated to encourage migration without conditions governing the number of migrants to enter any particular State. The right honorable the Prime Minister, in his policy speech, urged that migration would be stimulated by the wise development of our natural resources. The extension of our primary and secondary industries has been the objective of this Government ever since it came into power, and for this and other reasons the Government is well worthy of the confidence of the people. The shortening of hours in industry, with the consequent decrease in output, is not calculated to benefit the workers, or indeed any section of the community. It may be true that the manufacturer is in a position to pass on increased charges; but if the increased cost is unduly burdensome to the primary producer, the manufacturing industry must languish and many of those engaged in it will be in danger of losing their jobs. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Gullett) have properly emphasized that it is undesirable to continue protecting inefficient industries. Any commercial or industrial concern, to be efficient, must be conducted on modern and scientific lines. The plant and machinery of an industry must be thoroughly up to date and the workmen employed in it must give a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. If any of these factors are absent in an industry, it must necessarily be inefficient, and the Government would not be justified in giving it protection by means of customs duties.
I am sure that all honorable members will welcome the announcement that the Government proposes to revert to the holding of regular sessions. This will enable honorable members, especially those living in distant States, to visit their constituencies at more frequent intervals, and generally it will facilitate the conduct of public business.
I am glad that the referendum with regard to the proposed alteration of the Constitution, to enable the Commonwealth Government to make agreements with the States in respect of State public debts, was carried by such an overwhelming majority. It is most desirable that there should be greater co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States, because this must result in the improvement of our credit in overseas money markets, and consequently bring about a reduction in the annual interest bill on our public debt. It will also restrict public borrowing.
The granting of special financial assistance to certain of the States is, I am glad to note, receiving consideration. The manufacturing States of New South Wales and Victoria have been in an advantageous position ever since federation, in that they have been able to expand operations to meet the needs of primary producing States. The latter have been carrying on under certain difficulties due to the higher costs of manufactured goods, and it is only right that they should receive consideration at the hands of the Government.
I notice with satisfaction that the Government contemplates an extension of civil aviation services. These are essential to the proper development of the back country, and at the same time they will strengthen Australia’s home defences.
I observe, also with pleasure, that it is the intention of the Government to extend economic research so as to carry on with greater vigour the work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. There is now general recognition of the importance of this new branch of governmental activity to ensure entymological control of diseases and pests, to appraise at its true worth the value of animal nutrition and various other matters of vital concern to primary production in Australia. Equally important is the adoption of a more uptodate system for the production and treatment of ores and metalliferous products. Work along these lines will make for the prosperity of Australia and must lead to an increase in employment.
I am pleased that the Government proposes to repeal the coastal sections of the Navigation Act. It is high time that this was done. The act was designed to strengthen the Australian coastal maritime services, but it has failed utterly to do that. In spite of a substantial increase in population and a consequent greater production, the coastal provision* of the act have so operated as to strangle industry and hamper the activities of all those engaged in primary production. The subject of sea transport is important, and I am pleased, to notice that a conference of overseas and Australian interests is to be held for the purpose of discussing shipping facilities generally. At the same time I again congratulate the Government on having sold the Australian Commonwealth .Shipping Line, thereby saving this country an enormous expenditure on the upkeep of this line, which gave little or no return to the community. The action of this Government has been endorsed, if any endorsement is necessary, by the action of the Government of the United States of America which is now considering the sale of the remainder of its fleet, in order to curtail the terrific losses that have been made by it for several years past. If that Government succeeds in selling its fleet, then Canada will be the only country in the world with a government-owned fleet.
– What is a loss of £100,000,000 to America!
– It may not be felt to any extent in America, but a 10s: of a half million pounds a year waa more than Australia could afford, particularly as £600,000 had to be found to meet the interest on the aggregate loss.
I notice with pleasure that the PostmasterGeneral proposes to extend the telephone activities of his department. I recognize that much has been done by that department during the last five or six years. I hope that it will be possible for the Postmaster-General to arrange for night telephone services in the country districts, because they are more important to country residents than day services.
The Government policy of development for Northern Australia must commend itself to every honorable member, particularly to those on this side of the House because it has a close relation to thu white Australia policy. I look forward to the fulfilment of the contract made with South Australia by the Deakin Government to construct the north-south line, and also to the ultimate construction of a line from Daly Waters, through Camooweal, to Western Queensland.
I wish, in conclusion, on behalf of the electors of Kennedy, to thank honorable members for the kind reception that they have given me.
.- I realize that a great honour was bestowed upon me when I was asked to second the motion for the adoption of the address-in - reply which has been so ably moved by the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. G. Francis).
I join with other honorable members in their appreciation of His Excellency’s statement respecting the improvement in the health of His Majesty the King, and we all hope that he will soon be restored to health.
The policy enunciated by the GovernorGeneral is a continuation of the general policy of progress and development that has been carried out during the last six years of the administration of the Composite Government. The present Government was elected by a substantial majority and its election promises are included in the speech of the GovernorGeneral. The great record of the present Administration, its humanitarian legislation, its desire to build up industry, and to do its best for every section of the community, have certainly been appreciated throughout the length and breadth of Australia. The prosperity that we now enjoy, even under adverse circumstances, and during industrial turmoil, when practically all parts of the world are suffering financially and industrially, is an evidence of the sound administration of the Commonwealth.
The Government realizes clearly the problems that confront this young nation, and it has made every effort to solve them and to improve Australia’s position. Recently it secured a report from the British Economic Mission which was sent here at the request of the Australian Government. The report of that body gives every honorable member of this House, and, indeed, every individual of the Commonwealth who appreciates our difficulties, food for reflexion. Our industrial difficulties are many, and it is a big problem to endeavour to satisfy all sections of the people. We do not wish to see one section of the community living in luxury and another section starving. We do not want one section to be paid huge wages in return for a small amount of work, while at the same time other sections are unemployed. We do not want employment without results. Wages in industry, if this country is to develop, must be based on a certain amount of production for the money paid. We have great problems in our tariff regulations and reforms. When masters in industry take advantage of a tariff protection by unreasonable increases in prices, with a division of profits between employer and employee, an injustice is done to the community. With our present industrial difficulties we are likely at any time to have strikes and trade depressions. The Government is doing its utmost to overcome difficulties as they arise. Before our industries can progress’ to any extent we must discredit the fallacy which is being propagated by a section of Australian citizens that it is impossible for employer and employee to work peaceably together - that their interests are not interwoven.
As a matter of fact, it is clearly evident to any reasonable person that the interests of all sections of the community are interwoven, whether they be employers or employees in secondary industries, or producers in our back country and consumers within Australia. Our interests are so interwoven that the Government was wise in its determination to secure a report from an independent and outside body as to the best means of bringing about the advancement and_ prosperity of Australia.
The Government, to assist industry, has established a Council for Scientific and ‘ Industrial Research, and honorable members will be able to obtain from this institution valuable data to aid them in their deliberations on all subjects that are discussed in this Parliament. The council is to-day making investigations along scientific lines and its work has already proved of advantage to the pastoralists and the agriculturists of Australia, and, indeed, to many of our secondary industries. The Government’s policy has been to assist industries generally, so that all sections engaged may be benefited to the ultimate welfare of Australia.
The Government also proposes to invite the State Governments to confer with it on transport matters, social legislation, health, and questions of general development. The Government recognizes the necessity for the greatest co-operation between the various States and the Commonwealth in order to serve the best interests of Australia. All sections of the community should join together in bringing about the advancement of this country. We must realize that our problems affect not only Australia, but our oversea markets as well. These, if neglected to any extent, will be lost to us and gained by countries whose industries are organized. Australia can progress only if all sections pull together in matters of national importance.
Much benefit has accrued from conferences of Commonwealth and State Ministers. The recent Financial Agreement was the outcome of one such conference. It has already greatly benefited Australia. It has placed Australian loan issues on a safe basis, and ensures greater assistance in securing further moneys when required. The people of Australia have approved of the agreement, and it has been ratified by the State parliaments. The Commonwealth scheme of developmental roads was evolved at a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers. I suggest to the Prime Munster that during the forthcoming conference a discussion should take place on the general marketing of our primary products. Some scheme to facilitate the marketing of primary produce on an Australian basis might thus be evolved. It might be possible to form not only a branch of industry, but also a bureau of agriculture, which would act as a safeguard to the community, and be of assistance to the Government in fixing tariffs and overcoming the economic difficulties of Australia. To-day a tariff placed on one primary industry may seriously interfere with another industry.
I notice that a War Pensions Appeal Board is to be appointed. This is a splendid proposal, and will be of great advantage to many of our returned soldiers.
– The appointment of the Appeal Board was disapproved by the Government some months ago.
– Such a board was promised by the Prime Minister before the election campaign, and it is now provided for in the Government’s policy. Last year the Government paid no less than £7,600,000 in the form of pensions for invalid soldiers. I hope many cases will now be adjusted to the soldiers’ advantage. During the time the Composite Government has been in office approximately £73,000,000 has been expended in this way. During the same period about £186,000,000, exclusive of interest, has been spent on behalf of returned soldiers. It is unfortunate that the Commonwealth should have been committed to such heavy war expenditure; but we are now all hopeful that, as the treaty for the renunciation of war has been signed, there will be peace between the nations, and that money which in the past has been spent for war purposes will be used on developmental works.
I notice in the Governor-General’s speech that it is the intention of the Government to continue its naval pro gramme. That is essential, as Australia, as a portion of the British Empire, should do its share in protecting this great country in which it is our privilege to live.
The Government also proposes to appoint a Wine Export Board in order to afford to grape-growers better facilities for marketing their products. The boards which have already been established by the Government, such as the Dairy Control Board and the Paterson scheme in connexion with the butter industry, the Dried Fruits Export Control and others, have been of great benefit to the primary producers. The Government has also given considerable assistance to the sugar, banana, peanut, and cotton-growing industries, and has placed many producers of these products in more favorable circumstances. It is pleasing to note that, in addition to assisting the primary producers, the Government is also rendering valuable help to our secondary industries.
The progressive policy of the Postal Department referred to by the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Francis) is a pleasing feature of the Governor-General’s Speech, and I trust that the department will continue to provide telephonic communication, particularly to those who are assisting in the development of the more remote portions of the Commonwealth. The provision of telephonic communication renders conditions in the outback portions of the Commonwealth more attractive, and enables settlers to transact their business with greater facility. I trust it will not be long before the PostmasterGeneral will find it practicable to provide a continuous telephonic service in many country districts.
As promised during the election campaign, the Government proposes during the forthcoming session, to embody the regulations framed under the Transport Workers’ Act in that statute.
It is also intended to proceed with a measure to provide for national insurance against sickness, invalidity, and death. The provisions of that measure were fully explained by the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) during the last Parliament to enable friendly societies, employers, employees, and others interested in the scheme to study its provisions closely before it was debated in this Parliament. Doubtless, it will receive the careful consideration of honorable members, and it is to be hoped that a scheme acceptable to all concerned will be evolved.
Attention has been given by the Government to requests which have been made from time to time for a revision of the tariff, and although every effort has been made to provide a tariff acceptable to all parties, anomalies still exist. Efforts have been made to protect Australian, manufacturers against the products of coloured labour, and the Government now proposes to reconstitute the Tariff Board in such a way that requests for tariff revision may be more expeditiously investigated, and if possible a tariff adopted under which, when one industry is protected, another will not be detrimentally affected. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research should be of great assistance to the Tariff Board in its work of making recommendations upon which a scientific tariff can be framed. I sincerely trust that the Government will, at the earliest opportunity,, consider the recommendations of the Tariff Board in relation to the cotton industry, which at present is languishing owing to the lack of adequate assistance. Those engaged in the cotton industry have experienced many difficulties. They have been in trouble ever since the Queensland Labour Government let them down very heavily. Since . then the Commonwealth Government has come to their assistance, without which it would have been impossible for them to have continued. As the marketing of the cotton crop commences in March or April, I trust that the recommendation which the board is submitting to the Government will be considered by this Parliament before the Easter adjournment. The Queensland cotton growers should be placed in a position to enable them to arrange for the marketing of their product in Australia during the present picking season.
– Does the honorable member think that the Tariff Board is justified in delaying this matter for nine months ?
– That matter was fully debated during the election campaign in Queensland, and in some centres it was said that the board was not conducting an investigation. At the time such statements were made the board had completed its inquiries in regard to the industry.
– It has not yet submitted its report.
– The Government is now awaiting the report, which I trust will be considered by Parliament before Easter.
The subject of transport in Northern Australia is receiving the consideration of the Government, and as a representative of Queensland, if the construction of a railway is impracticable at present, I trust that, in the interests of the development of Western Queensland and Northern Australia, provision will be made for a main trunk road to connect the Western Queensland railway system with the North.
I thank honorable members for the courtesy they have extended to me while seconding the motion so ably moved by the honorable member, for Kennedy (Mr. G. Francis).
.- Yesterday we were summoned to attend in another place to hear the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, which has been prepared by the Ministry for His Excellency. With other honorable members, I attended to hear the speech, and the only thing about it that was at all impressive, was the atmosphere in which it was read. According to the speech,, all that the Government proposes to do is to resurrect some old measures that have been in cold storage for some months, and to introduce perhaps one or two new proposals which are destructive rather than constructive. The speech on the whole consisted mainly of ponderous platitudes and unnecessary verbiage, employed in an endeavour to make it appear important. It reminded one of a phial filled with cotton wool and containing a few pills. The speech did not embody anything substantial or new. It consisted mainly of vague generalities. As for the serious problems confronting Australia to-day, there was little or no indication of any action to be taken beyond consideration by conferences. Let me give an example. In the Prime Minister’s policy speech, prior to the last general election, a number of promises were set out, one of which was that if the Government was returned it would endeavour to eliminate unemployment. I ask honorable members if, beyond convening conferences and holding discussions, there is any indication in the speech of any action in the direction of minimizing unemployment? Whilst the Government is committed to a policy of relieving unemployment, it is actually increasing the trouble by allowing goods made in foreign countries to flood the Australian market. There is no indication of any action to provide employment, although thousands of people in Australia are on the verge of starvation. Money is being wasted while the construction of necessary public works is being deferred. If the Government will bring forward a constructive policy and submit it to this House, it will receive every assistance from honorable members on this side of the chamber. Sufficient commissions, boards and committees have already been appointed, and it is time Parliament got down to business in order to justify its existence in the eyes of the people. The document handed to us yesterday is sufficient in itself to justify want of confidence in the Government. It indicates that the administration is incapable of handling the problems that confront us to-day. If the Government cannot shoulder its responsibilities it should bring them before the House, and give it an opportunty to see what it can do. If it does not provide honorable members with opportunities we shall have to* make them. The AddressinReply also consists of a series of generalities, and the discussion on this motion will be futile. I do not propose to assist in a futile discusssion If the Government has business to do, if it proposes to carry out those works which it promised to the people of Australia, let it drop this obsolete procedure and begin immediately upon the real problems of the country.
.- The Leader of the Opposition referred to the barrenness of the programme outlined in the Governor-General’s speech. The honorable member should be a very good judge of barrenness, seeing that the speech which he has just delivered was the most barren to which I have ever listened. He had really nothing to say against the Government, no criticism to advance concerning its policy, but after talking for some time he sat down like a whipped dog, and there has been a constant yapping going on behind him since.
– Order ! The honorable member must not use the word “yapping”.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member for Angas in order in referring to the Leader of the Opposition as a whipped dog?
– The Chair is not aware that the honorable member for Angas referred to the Leader of the Opposition in those terms.
– I am very sorry, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if I said anything to annoy the Leader of the Opposition, but probably, since their defeat at the last elections, honorable members opposite are feeling very sore. Personally, I am in a very happy position, in that my actions which were frequently criticized in this House during last session, have been endorsed by the electors of my constituency, and I increased my majority from 250 to 8,046. That disposes of the assertion made once by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) that I was present in this House through a fluke, and that after the next election h- would have pleasure in welcoming my successor.
I also congratulate the Speaker upon his re-election to the Chair. I trust that scenes such as occurred in this House yesterday will not be repeated, and that the dignity of the House will be preserved. I congratulate the Prime Minister for the magnificent vote of confidence given him by the electors of Australia.
I join in the expressions of sympathy with His Majesty the King in the very serious illness through which he has been passing. Out of this trouble, however, one thing of value has come: It has afforded the people of the Empire an opportunity of giving a magnificent expression of their loyalty and love to the person and throne of His Majesty. I am confident that this must have demonstrated to other nations the fact that the people of the Empire are genuinely attached to their Sovereign.
I am pleased to observe that Australia has joined with many other nations in signing the treaty for the renunciation of war. War is opposed to all that is best in civilization, and I trust that this country will never in its history feel the foot of an invader on its soil. Although I am opposed to war, I recognize that the best way to preserve our country from its horrors is to be prepared to defend ourselves. I trust that we shall continue the policy of training our young men under the system which was introduced some years ago by a Labour government. This system has been endorsed by every government since, but I understand that the present Labour party is pledged to its abolition, a fact which may have had something to do with its defeat at the recent elections. I nm myself the father of a son who is nearing the age when he will become a trainee, and I look forward with pride to the time when he will take his place with those who are being fitted to participate in the defence of their native land.
I regret that during the last two years we have had most unfavorable seasons throughout Australia. This has been the cause of much suffering among primary producers, and has been reflected in a general diminution of the country’s prosperity. Short of the return of the Opposition to power, no greater disaster can overtake Australia than a poor rainfall. If the records are studied it will be seen that whenever there has been insufficient rain unemployment and depression have followed. I hope that those lion-hearted people in the outback - and there are some hundreds in my constituency - who have been facing such tremendous difficulties during the last two years, will be rewarded for their faith and endurance with copious rains during the coming winter.
I am in entire sympathy with the movement for bringing about a greater degree of peace in industry. I wish I could believe that certain honorable members, whom I shall not name, were also as well disposed towards it. It has been said, and there is much evidence to prove the assertion, that there are persons who thrive on industrial trouble.
In the report of the Economic Mission many references are made to the operation of the tariff in Australia. Throughout my election campaign I strongly emphasized my belief that we have gone further than we should in the protection of secondary industries, thereby placing on the shoulders of the primary producers a burden greater than they can bear. On every hand one sees what formerly were prosperous primary industries unable to carry on because they cannot compete in the markets of the world owing to the high cost of production. The report of the Economic Mission deals exhaustively with the proposal to spend £34,000,000 on developmental schemes for the absorption of migrants. I am pleased to observe that suggestions have been made for modifications of the agreement. Before the elections a great deal of criticism was directed at the Government because it had appointed many commissions and boards. Too often in the past, both State and Federal governments have spent money unwisely, and then have appointed commissions to inquire into the mess .so made. This Government has appointed the Development and Migration Commission to advise it from the first, so that the money which is being borrowed shall be wisely spent. There would have been fewer heartaches and failures amongst our returned soldier settlers if such activities as the Murray Waters Repatriation scheme had been inquired into by competent authorities before being undertaken. It has been proposed that a large scheme shall be put in hand for the development of an extensive wheat area in Western Australia. This scheme is to be inquired into thoroughly, but I am confident that under ‘ previous governments, if the money had been available for such an undertaking, it would have been spent without any investigation whatever. But as a result of its reference to the Development and Migration Commission the Government has been advised that initially, only £150,000, instead of millions of pounds, should be spent to test the worth of the scheme. That is wise.
I am glad, also, that a royal commission was appointed to inquire into the admittedly unsatisfactory condition of the finances of South Australia. That State has been seriously handicapped during recent years. First, a Labour government was in office for three years, which, after squandering money, incurred a bank overdraft of £2,000,000, and left a deficit in the Treasury of over £1,000,000. Secondly, the State has experienced two bad seasons. Notwithstanding the efforts of the Liberal Government to straighten out the finances, these are still in an unhealthy state, and the Government could not carry on but for the hope of receiving some assistance from this Parliament. In addition to the three tragic years of Labour rule and two bad seasons, the State has suffered several disabilities through federation. Not the least of these has been the operation of the tariff.
– Sit down. Nobody is listening to the honorable member - not even his own colleagues.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong is out of order.
– I know.
– The honorable member must not address the Chair in that flippant way.
Several honorable members interjecting,
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong is again out of order.
– Oh, keep quiet!
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I shall be reluctantly compelled to name the honorable member unless he obeys the Chair.
– You may do so.
– I name the honorable member for Maribyrnong.
– I said nothing offensive. You are going off your nut very early in the session.
– We know what took place in the Ministerial caucus on Tuesday. Defeated ambition!
– I should not suffer for that.
The Prime Minister having entered the chamber,
– While the honorable member for Angas was addressing the House, several honorable members, including the honorable member for Maribyrnong, called upon him to sit down, and said that no one was listening to him. I called honorable members to order. The honorable member for Maribyrnong again interjecting, I called him personally to order. Thereupon, the honorable member turned to me and said, “ Oh, keep quiet.” I called him to withdraw that remark, and upon his refusing to do so I named him.
– Honorable members know that it is impossible to conduct our debates in an orderly manner unless the authority of the Chair is recognized. I ask the honorable member for Maribyrnong to withdraw the remark to which the Chair has taken exception, so that the debate may proceed in a peaceful and orderly manner.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, your statement omitted certain facts which I propose to give.
– Order ! The honorable member may make a personal explanation.
Mr. Fenton. - I think the Chair might show me the courtesy of allowing me to make a statement. I admit that I interjected several times. Some of my remarks have been correctly reported by you, sir; but on the last occasion when you called me to order, others were interjecting, and I was silent. I was provoked by you, sir, to interject on the spur of the moment “ Oh, keep quiet.”
– Order ! The honorable member must resume his seat.
– It is unfair of you to pull me up in the middle of a personal explanation.
– The honorable member has completed his personal explanation, and I again call upon him to withdraw the remarks to which the Chair has taken exception.
– I rise to a point of order. How do you, sir, determine when a personal explanation is completed? The personal explanation of the honorable member for Maribyrnong was not finished when you ordered him to resume his seat. With all due respect, I submit that you should not have intervened in the middle of the honorable member’s explanation.
– The personal explanation ceased to be such when the honorable member commenced to justify his disrespectful language to the Chair.
Mr. Fenton. - In the circumstances I do not know what to do. I do not wish to be ejected from the chamber, but I adhere to my statement that I was not interjecting when I was last called to order. To be rebuked without justification is enough to irritate anybody. However, to end this little scene, I withdraw the words to which you took exception; but I retain my own opinion.
– The honorable member must withdraw unconditionally.
– I do so - with mental reservations.
– A member cannot be prevented from making mental reservations.
– The Chair cannot prevent an honorable member from making mental reservations; but it can prevent him from insulting the authority of the House. The honorable member for Maribyrnong must withdraw unreservedly.
– I withdraw; but you know the rest.
– The honorable member must withdraw unreservedly and without further comment.
– I withdraw.
– I hope that as a result of the royal commission’s inquiry into the finances of South Australia, my native State will be found to be fully entitled to assistance from the Commonwealth.
I am pleased to note that the cruisers and submarines which constitute the new naval unit have arrived in Australian waters. The people of the Commonwealth, I am confident, support the Government in making this provision for the defence of our continent. In this regard, it is satisfactory to note that in framing the financial proposals for the coining year, consideration will be given by the Government to the recommendations contained in the report of Air Chief Marshal Sir John Salmond on air defence. Should Australia ever be involved in war the air service will be the principal arm of defence. I am glad therefore, that the Government is encouraging in every way possible civil aviation. Apart from the advantage we shall derive in time of war from having a large number of experienced pilots and fully qualified mechanics, aviation can render tremendous service in the commercial and industrial development of the Commonwealth. As one who understands the hardships of the pioneers in the outback country, and the wonderful advantage that the aeroplane has been and can be in relieving them of anxiety and even saving life, I am prepared to give wholehearted support to any proposal for the promotion and further development of aviation throughout the Commonwealth’.
I welcome the announcement that serious attention is being paid by the Government to the operations of the Tariff Board. In the last Parliament and throughout my electorate I had a good deal to say in criticism of the operations of the tariff and the board which administers it. Too often, absurd proposals have been foisted upon that body. I shall mention one instance that came under my notice recently. Some time ago the Border Electric Company of South Australia contracted with the Waikerie District Council to install electric light at Waikerie. To carry out the installation it was necessary to procure a supply of Stobie poles. These poles, which were invented by a distinguished South Australian employed by the Adelaide Electric Supply Company, require a particular kind of girder or channel. Incidentally, cement of Australian manufacture is used in their construction. The company searched throughout Australia for girders of the required size. The Hoskins Company, and the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, were both approached; but neither could execute the order. Application was then made to the Tariff Board to allow girders of the required size to be imported duty free or at a low rate. The Tariff Board delayed the matter for many months, but eventually informed the Border Electric Company through me that a certain firm in Victoria was prepared to install rollers and manufacture the girders. But subsequent inquiries elicited that the installation of the necessary plant would cost from £1,200 to £1,500. Seeing that the order which the company wanted to place was for only £481 worth of poles it would have been absurd for the company to install the necessary plant. Had a reasonable view of the situation been taken the girders could have been imported at a figure which would have permitted the people in “Waikerie to obtain current at i&. per unit less than they now have to pay.
The paragraph in the GovernorGeneral’s speech relating to the encouragement of economic research is worthy of notice. Certain people in Australia tell us that our country is already carrying as many people as it is capable of supporting. These same people are fond of proclaiming from the house tops that Australia is the finest country in the world. I agree with them in that regard, but to say that the finest country in the world is able to support only about 6,000,000 on 3,000,000 square miles is ridiculous in the extreme. The area of Australia is slightly greater than that of the United States of America, but the population of America is over” twenty times greater than ours, and there is still room for more people. It is deplorable that we should have people in our midst who malign our country by saying that it can support a population of only 6,000,000.
If the facilities for research are increased I am Sure that it will be shown that we are only on the fringe of development in primary industries. Years ago, as honorable members, except those who never go beyond a city tram terminus, very well know, wheat was grown in Australia without the aid of artificial manures. In those days nobody dreamed of producing crops of the size that are now reaped. In the days when some farmers used superphosphates and others did not, one could travel through a wheat belt and pick by the merest glance the crops that had been fertilized. To look over a tract of wheat country in those days was something like gazing upon a huge draft board. Land which without the application of superphosphates could only produce from five to six bushels to the acre yielded crops of from 30 to 40 bushels after manures had been applied. To-day our farmers, in addition to using superphosphates, are adopting other improved methods of cultivation. One result of this is that today in the Mallee district crops of from ten to twelve bushels to the acre have been grown on a 4-inch rainfall over the growing season. Land which was considered to be practically useless for agricultural purposes years ago because it was beyond of what is known as Goyder’s line of rainfall has become most valuable. Part of the area that I have in mind was called desert land, but scientific methods of cultivation have caused the desert to blossom as the rose. During last season, on a property where the rain gauge registered only fourteen points between the 1st August and the 30th September, a man reaped crops of from ten to fifteen bushels to the acre. In the light of these happenings who can say what development may not occur in our agricultural areas?
The pastoral industry is another which has prospered exceedingly through the application of scientific methods. It has been truly said that in recent years the pastoral industry has carried Australia upon its back. I believe that we are only at the beginning of the development of this great industry. With the top dressing of pastures, the planting of subterranean clover and other herbage, and the adoption of other up-to-date methods, we are already able to realize something of the marvellous possibilities that are ahead of us. Within the next 25 years it is quite likely that much of our pastoral country will be carrying three to five times the number of sheep that it is capable of carrying to-day. Around Mr
Barker, and in other parts of the Adelaide Hills, one can inspect properties which, years ago, were considered to he almost barren, but are to-day carrying five sheep to the acre. We have in South Australia the Waite Institute for Agricultural Research, which is one of the finest institutions in the world for grappling with the problems of the man on the land. I believe that it will prove to he of increasing value to our agricultural .and pastoral interests.
During the last Parliament, and also while the election campaign was in progress, we heard a great deal from honorable members opposite about the terrible crime that the Government committed in disposing of the Commonwealth Shipping Line. I believe that if there was one act more than all others which commended the Government to the people of Australia during the last three ears it was the disposing of that incubus, t is not part of the duty of the Government to run businesses. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. G. Francis) has told us something of the unhappy experience of Queensland in connexion with government business enterprises. Possibly the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) could supplement his remarks in that regard, for he had a painful experience. I suggest that, as the Government has disposed of this line, the way is now open for it to follow the example of the South African Government and make an agreement with the Conference Shipping Line for the carriage of our primary and other products. After negotiating with these interests the Government of the sister Dominion was able to obtain enormous reductions in the freight charges on primary products shipped from South Africa to Great Britain and the Continent. The agreement also specified that freights agreed upon should stand for ten years, and that increased sailings and better boats should be provided. If the South African Government was able to secure a favorable agreement of that nature the Commonwealth Government should be able to do so, too. That it has done away with its shipping line has been a good thing. If it could follow that action up by obtaining a favorable agreement with the Conference Lines it would earn the praise of every person who has the welfare of the country at heart. The Commonwealth Shipping Line was sucking the life blood out of the primary industries of this country and costing the nation millions of pounds. I applaud the Government for having disposed of it.
I was sorry to read in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech that it is proposed to set up a War Pensions Appeal Board. I presume that the reason for this is that the Minister for Repatriation (Sir Neville Howse) has found it impossible’ to deal with all the claims that have been made. Boards, as everybody knows, have neither a body to be kicked nor a soul to be damned. While we had a Minister for Repatriation, who was himself a “ digger,” dealing with the claims of the “ diggers “ we were fortunate’ indeed. I am afraid that the introduction of a board will mean that a good deal of the sympathy which hitherto has been shown to claimants for pensions will be missing.
As the representative of the greatest wine-producing district of Australia, I am glad to notice that the Government intends to take steps to assist in organizing the industry and in marketing its products. Notwithstanding all the specious promises made by my opponent during the election, the grape-growers in my constituency stood by me to a man. I headed the poll in every grape-growing district. When I addressed a meeting at Tanunda iu the last week of the campaign, one of the most prominent representatives of the grape-growers told me that my opponent had promised them the sun, the moon, and the stars, but that they preferred to back my performances. The result of the poll shows that the growers thoroughly endorsed those sentiments. The Government will have to handle the wine export business in such a way that the industry will have a chance to recover. This Government is not responsible for the present condition of the industry. The whole trouble has been caused through placing returned soldiers on areas without any regard to the marketing of produce. ‘ No parliament and no particular party can be blamed for the existing unsatisfactory state of affairs. All parties were equally anxious to settle returned soldiers on the land, with the result that it was not long before there was enormous overproduction in a limited market. The grapegrowers are extremely graceful to the Prime Minister for the measure of preference which he was able to obtain from the British Government at two successive Imperial Conferences. They are grateful also to the Prime Minister and his Government for the passing of the “Wine Bounty Act; but my constituents, by their votes at the last election, demonstrated conclusively that they are behind rae in my opposition to the hasty measure introduced in March of last year which reduced the amount of the bounty before the industry was on a satisfactory footing. The responsibility now devolves upon the Government to rectify that mistake. Anything that the Ministry can do in this direction for the benefit of grape-growers it is their duty to do, and it should be unnecessary to add that I shall wholeheartedly support the Government in this matter.
I notice reference in the Speech to the proposed extension of postal and telephone facilities. This Government has done more for country people than any other government in the way of extending postal, telegraph and telephonic services. Its policy has been a wide and comprehensive one. Very wisely, the Ministry considered that an extension of telephonic services would be an absolute necessity for people in outback areas. I wish to thank the PostmasterGeneral, on behalf of my constituents, for what has been done in my electorate during the last three years. No fewer than 29 telephone exchanges have been established in Angas in that period. I have had many letters from my constituents thanking me for my efforts on their behalf, and I have passed them on to the Minister from time to time, so that he may know how greatly the people appreciate his action.
I am glad to notice reference to the Government’s proposal to develop Northern Australia. Since about 1880 this subject appeared in every Governor’s speech made to the South Australia Parliament when that State controlled the Territory, and in every such speech made to the Federal Parliament since it was handed over to the Commonwealth ; but this Government has been the first to do anything of a practical nature during the Federal management. It has really started on the construction of the north-south railway, and, in June next, the Oodnadatta to Alice Springs section of the line will have been completed. Now is the time to continue that great work. I feel sure that all honorable members will support me in this matter. At present we are faced with a great deal of unemployment, and the construction of the next section of the railway, besides being a fulfilment of the pledge to the Government of South Australia, will help to relieve the situation. The contractors on the present section to Alice Springs have all their plant and organization available, so this should be an opportune time to complete the north-south railway. When the through connexion has been made, lines should be taken into western Queensland and the north-west of Western Australia. It is only by such undertakings as these that we can hope to develop our great inheritance. Under existing conditions the freight charges on one ton of goods from Adelaide to the Fincke River Mission, 85 miles beyond Alice Springs, is £25. It is impossible to develop Central Australia, for either mineral or pastoral purposes, under such unfavorable conditions. The absence of adequate transport facilities is almost entirely responsible for the undeveloped state of Central and North Australia, the western portion of Queensland, and the north-western district of Western Australia.
I am glad to notice that the Government intends, during the next recess, to convene a conference between the Commonwealth and State Ministers. That gathering will have many important questions to handle. One which I may mention will, no doubt, be introduced by the Premier of South Australia : I refer to the proposed extra petrol tax to take the place of the present inequitable system of taxation on motor vehicles. Speaking as the owner of a motor vehicle, I say that a petrol tax is absolutely the fairest impost that can be devised. Whilst I am in Canberra attending to the interests of my constituents in this Parliament, my car is lying idle; but taxation is being levied upon me all the time. By the substitution of a tax on petrol, every car owner will be taxed for the amount of work done by his car.
One point in the Speech with which I cannot agree is the proposal to bring about unification of railway gauges in Australia. I feel strongly on this subject, and I ask honorable members to give it serious consideration - to think where it will lead us. Can the expenditure of £60,000,000 on the unification of gauges be justified? Is it not possible to find better avenu.es for so great an expenditure? I am inclined to think that the agitation for the unification of railway gauges is sponsored chiefly by travellers who have to change trains at 11 o’clock each night at Albury on the journey to Sydney, or when travelling to Melbourne are obliged to get out of their sleeping berths earlier than usual to join a Victorian train. I submit that, at this stage in the history of Australia, the contemplated expenditure on the unification of railway gauges cannot be justified.
I am a keen supporter of the scheme for national insurance against sickness,, invalidity, old-age, and death, and I am pleased to know that the bill brought down last year, and carried to its secondreading stage, is to be re-introduced. I trust that, as a result of representations made by friendly societies and other bodies interested, the bill, when it is placed on the statute-book, will be as near perfection as possible. It would be most undesirable if a measure dealing with such an important subject were to require amendment in a few years’ time. It is to be hoped, therefore, that the bill will receive the most careful attention.
I trust that when other honorable members of the Opposition join in the debate, they will endeavour to give us some constructive criticism. We listened just now to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin), who spoke for a few minutes only. His remarks were as barren of constructive thought as are the interjections of honorable members opposite. It is generally agreed, and my studies of parliamentary institutions confirm me in the belief, that the best government obtains when there is in opposition a body of men strong in numbers and debating strength, prepared at all times to subject government proposals to the most searching criticism. The Government’s policy, as outlined in the Speech is, I submit, full of good meat for the people of this country, and it should commend itself to honorable members opposite. It is to be regretted, therefore, that the Leader of the Opposition treated it so lightly, and by a wave of the hand, so to speak, declared that there was nothing in it. There certainly was nothing in his speech. It was as barren as the desert of Sahara, unrelieved by even the suggestion of an oasis. The people of this country expect the Leader of the Opposition at least to offer some solution of our difficulties. The only conclusion that they can come to, after reading his speech, is that he is not capable of putting forward ideas, the execution of which might assist in the advancement of this country.
.- I trust that honorable members will not for one moment think that I have dashed into the breach to keep the debate going. That is far from my intention. I am taking this opportunity to place before the House all the information that I have gained from my recent journeyings abroad. These began with the tour with the Parliamentary Delegation to Canada, and, as to that, I shall let my brother members on that delegation speak, because I have other information to place before the House. I have always been of the opinion that it would be advantageous to Australia if every honorable member, on election by the people, were, at the public expense, sent for at least six months on a tour of the various countries of the world. There is nothing like travel to enable a man to gather ideas and to broaden his mind. I do not wish honorable members to gain the impression that I intend to lecture them. I shall not do that; but whatever information I have obtained at my own expense I wish to place before honorable members to help them if possible to carry out their duties. The Parliamentary Delegation to Canada left in July of last year and proceeded to Canada under the leadership of Sir William Glasgow, the Minister for Defence, On arrival at Quebec we joined up with other parliamentary delegations under the leadership of Viscount Peel, a fine man in every respect, who has recently filled the position relinquished by Earl Birkenhead, formerly Secretary of State for India. From Viscount Peel we received every assistance. The whole tour was a great success, being most informative and instructive. I join with the other members of the delegation in placing upon record our sincere appreciation of the lavish and courteous hospitality extended to us by the Canadian Government. Nothing was left undone, either in entertainment or in the conferences held in each State with the provincial parliaments throughout Canada. It was my fourth tour of Canada, and I travelled 7,000 miles through that country. I could not help but absorb information and I met many of the members of each parliament. My impression is that Canada is a wonderful country. It is a land of enormous possibilities and of huge wealth. The wheat yield this year is staggering. Coal has been found at Quebec, and the industry is well established and gold mining has made great strides. The tourist traffic is the second largest industry of Canada. During the last financial year the revenue from the tourist traffic in Canada was £40,000,000. Our trade and customs revenue is somewhere about £44,000,000. It is difficult to imagine any country obtaining such a huge revenue solely from tourist traffic.
– It is not so difficult when one knows the hotel charges.
– The hotel charges are high, but one gets a lot for one’s money. Certain sections of the Australian press have ridiculed Mr. Gepp for daring to spend £100,000 in exploring avenues whereby tourists may be attracted to Australia. One way in which we can attract tourists is to advertise extensively. Several American millionaires said to me. .” What is the use of going to your country?” I said, “ Why not ? “ They replied, “Look at the pamphlets and the ships. “ I asked them what was wrong with them. They said “ My dear chap, the ships have’ only two funnels. “ The great tourist ships trading on the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans have three or four funnels. The Americans take up our illustrated pamphlets and find that the vessels trading to Australia have only two funnels and a limited number of cabins de luxe. They absolutely refuse to travel on such vessels. I suggest that we should increase the tonnage of our over- seas passenger ships. A vessel of 19,900 tons is too small; they should be over the 20,000-ton class. That is a small point, but it has a vital bearing in attracting people to our country to look us over.
On leaving the parliamentary delegation I at once commenced to investigate the film position in Canada. I wish to express my deep thanks to the Prime Minister and to the Australian representatives of all the British and American film-producing companies - for the assistance that they gave me and for the cablegrams that were sent by them to Canada, England and America, which made my investigations so much easier. All doors were thrown open to me, so that I might return to Australia and place before this Parliament information which will assist members when a bill embodying those sections of the report of the royal commission on the moving picture industry of Australia which the Government adopted in the last Parliament is introduced. I appeal to the Prime Minister not to overlook the importance of such legislation. We must bear in mind the attendances at the picture theatres of the world to realize how the films to-day can make and mar nations, can foment riots and control them; in fact, can do anything. In Australia we have a population of just over 6,000,000 people, yet the attendance at our picture shows during a year is close on 114,000,000. America has a population of 120,000,000 people, but 140,000,000 people attend the picture shows every week. That estimate is gained by counting the tickets sold at the various theatres. Honorable members cannot but realize what effect the films have upon the nations. A prime minister, or the president of a country, is not likely to deliver a speech which attracts the attention of the people more than once a month or every six months, but the film is talking to the people daily from 11 a.m. until after midnight. That is one of the grounds upon which. I shall ask honorable members to support me when a bill to control the picture film industry in Australia is introduced.
What is the position in Australia? Last year the Government adopted the report of the royal commission with the exception of recommendations that were ultra vires of the constitution of the Commonwealth. The late Minister for Trade and Customs last year said that the Government intended to ask my co-operation in approaching the States and placing the whole position before the various Governments of Australia. Before I left for Canada I placed the result of my conferences with the State Governments before the Prime Minister. I am quite satisfied with the results of those conferences. Negotiations with the States in furtherance of those conferences are now proceeding. The States have to pass short enabling bills before this Parliament can legislate for the purpose of giving to the film industry of Australia one control instead of several - Commonwealth control. I have studied the film ^dustry from every angle and am therefore able to supply honorable members with authentic information regarding it. Canada has only one company engaged in film production. It is producing “Westerners “, - films like those in which we have seen Tom Mix and other outback men. The Government itself has a most extensive film industry which is’ carried out under the able guidance of Mr. E. C. Badgley, the Director of the Canadian Government Motion Picture Bureau. He is in charge of a huge department which is paying its own way. Australia lost £3,000 last year on producing the “ Know Your Own Country “ series. I have given the Prime Minister a long report on the Canadian Government film activities, and asked him to forward it to Mr. Gepp so that many admirable innovations may be copied by the Development and Migration Commission in our “ Know Your Own Country “ series. The Canadian exhibitors are very anxious to obtain our pictures, but they cannot get them. There is therefore something wrong with our methods of distribution. Colonel Cooper, President of the Canadian Film Exhibitors and Distributors told me that two years ago he exhausted every avenue in trying to obtain Australian “ Know Your Own Country “ films. The Canadians are quite willing to allow us a fair profit so that we may become self-supporting.
In Canada, England, France and the United States of America, I heard nothing but unstinted praise for the report of the royal commission on the moving picture industry. Even the Americans said that it was the most sweeping investigation of the industry ever made by any nation. It was pleasing to me as chairman of the royal commission, as it must be to those senators and members with whom I was associated during the inquiry, to know that our investigations and recommendations were so favorably received.
I then went to London, where I conferred with Mr. Amery, the Secretary of State for the Dominions, with Sir Phillip Cunliffe Lister, President of the Board of Trade, and heads of his department, and with other members of the British Government, and the result of those conferences has already been conveyed to the Prime Minister. I wish to assure honorable members that thu British Government is wholeheartedly supporting British production. I visited the Wellwyn Garden City Studios, erected at a cost of £80,000, where British instructional films are produced. In these studios the most modern machinery and equipment are installed; they are practically perfect. It was at these studios that I had the honour and pleasure of meeting Mr. Anthony Asquith, the son of a late Prime Minister, .the Earl of Oxford and Asquith, who, strangely enough, is a brilliant producer. The British Government is standing solidly behind the British picture production industry, and the Motherland is now taking an active part in film production and exhibition, which is one .of the greatest and most profitable industries in the world-. The British moving picture industry could not have made such wonderful progress were it not for the assistance it has received from the quota act passed by the British Parliament. Directly the quota system became operative, £3,500,000 was made available to British producers, which gave them a start. Without it they would have been confronted with great difficulty. The International Film Company is at Elstree, which is the Hollywood of England. It occupies approximately 27 acres, 20 acres of which are utilized for studios, and have a “ talkie “ studio, costing some £50,000, which has just been completed. I visited the British Gaumont Studios, where Maurice Elvey, the director of the “Flag Lieutenant” series, operates. He is now producing the big “ Balaclava “ film. I also inspected the Gainsborough at Islington. When I had thoroughly inspected the studios and their modern equipment, I set to work to interview directors and producers, whom I found very keen, and optimistic concerning the future, if screenings can be got for their productions. It is useless to spend £50,000 on a picture unless there is an opportunity to obtain screenings. Nothing has encouraged British production more than the quota system. During my absence from Australia I saw many British films, and in general artistry they are 100 per cent, improved; but, of course, much yet remains to be done. There is no doubt that at least 100 British feature films will be available this year to meet the British and Australian quota. Of course the American producers and distributors are using a good deal of pressure; the Americans are keen business men; but I do not say they employ improper methods. In the pursuit of business they are displaying only ordinary business acumen. They will sell their goods where they can get a market. What is the position in London from the American viewpoint? It is surprising. The Plaza in Piccadilly Circus is under the control of the Paramount Company, and the Empire Theatre in Leicester Square which_has been reconstructed at a cost of £400,000 is owned by the Metro Goldwyn Mayer Company. In Birmingham, Sheffield and Dublin, as well as in many important provincial centres, many picture theatres are under the control of Americans. I do not say that this is improper, but it is competition with which British exhibitors have to contend. They will have to win out. I am pleased to say that I was most courteously received by Colonel- A. C. Bromhead, the head of the British Gaumont Company, which when I arrived in England owned 200 theatres, and when I reached New York was controlling 400, in all of which British as well as American films were being screened. That circuit in itself provides wonderful opportunities for British and Australian films. This company is most anxious to get British and Australian productions, provided they are of merit.
I should like to know what there is to prevent the Commonwealth Government from at once announcing the awards of merit for Australian films recommended by the royal commission. If these awards were made, it would encourage Australian producers.
– If there is such a big market for British and Australian production, they would not need these awards.
– We all like hard cash, and the producers, particularly those who have spent many thousands of pounds in production, would be glad of financial assistance. It would be a wonderful advertisement for a producer to say that he had received one of these Government prizes for his film. I am sure that Colonel Bromhead would give special consideration to a film which had received the imprimatur of the Commonwealth by being awarded such a prize.
– The Bulletin offers prizes to novelists.
– Yes, and scenario writers need similar encouragement. As honorable members are aware, the royal commission when conducting its investigations ascertained that a number of films of British production over a specific period were objectionable. In fact, some were worse than American films to which exception had been taken. I therefore had conferences with the British film censor and representative British producers. The position in England is extraordinary. The British censor can deal with films_ for exhibition in London or the provinces, but he cannot prevent the export of the original, negative to Australia or IndiaThat is one of the reasons why trouble has been caused in India by the projection of films showing white men acting improperly towards -white women. In these circumstances it is essential that the Censorship Board here should be able to deal with such films. I have personally met many British producers who are fine men, and have no wish to produce such stuff, which is usually produced by irresponsible small men, who will in future be closely watched by. the Board of Censors out here. Little trouble is to be expected in this direction in future. Generally speaking, the British producers are enthusiastic, very active and optimistic concerning the future, so long as the American pressure is not too strong. I do not think for a moment that we have anything to fear. I believe we shall be able to produce our full quota, and that in the matter of artistry and photography there is little to be desired; but more must be done in order to reach the extraordinary high level of American producers.
I wish to take the opportunity of publicly thanking those gentlemen in America engaged in the moving pictur-3 business who were so courteous to me during my investigation, particularly Mr. Will Hays, an ex-Postmaster-General of the United States of America, who gave up his important portfolio under the late President Harding, to become president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association of America. The producing and distributing companies of America appointed Mr. Hays at a staggering salary to control their activities. In America they are willing to pay for brains. The offices of this organization are in Fifth-avenue, where there is a department to see that no film offensive to a foreign power leaves America; although, unfortunately, some get through. 1 found Mr. Hays a sincere man, and extremely anxious to assist in the production and distribution of cleaner pictures. Soon after his appointment Mr. Hays called a meeting of all the leading American societies - even the Boy Scouts were represented - and the question of censorship and better pictures was discussed from every angle. At Mr. Hays’ suggestion, this conference appointed a representative to be attached to his organization, and in Colonel Jason Joy they have a most able representative.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– I have here a copy of a very interesting statement on this subject made by Mr. Will Hays. It reads -
If we weaken the purposes to make the pictures better we will fail. There is and there will be continually arising instances of slipping. The weeds grow and you have to hoe the corn. There will be a slight tendency now and then to yield to the argument of influences within member companies, that quick profits are probable by the injection of objectionable matter or the treatment of objectionable themes. I say that our members know these instances. I say that the directors of the pictures know these instances. Our members in control of the companies know them. And if this watchfulness is not continually exercised for some time yet to come, human nature may again operate. It is not altogether a question of morals, however, it is a question of good business to make and keep pictures right and to do these collateral services to develop the maximum usefulness of pictures.
Colonel Joy, inter alia, looks after public relations work at the source of supply. One of his important duties is to carry to the directors of the pictures themselves at the studios, the information and knowledge which he has obtained in four years here (New York) of the things that must not be in pictures. At the time the picture is made, he contracts with the important men in every studio, to keep out of pictures things that his four years’ experience have shown should not be in.
One of Colonel Joy’s representatives is supposed to “ sit in “ at the stages whenever a “ shot “ is being made. Mr. Hays, Colonel Joy, Mr. Beetson, and all those with whom they are associated are quite sincere in the desire that the picture shall be clean. On the 8th June, 1927, the representatives of 24 leading picture companies got together to discuss what should and should not be “ shot “ in a studio, and the conference passed a great number of resolutions, which were duly signed by the representatives. When I read those resolutions I came to the conclusion that, if they were complied with no film could be made. The industry in America considers that the Australian film- censorship is more rigid than that of any other nation. But those resolutions are 100 per cent, more stringent than our Censorship. Apparently the American producers or directors are forgetting about them, because, in the magnificent Roxy moving picture theatre, which is on Broadway, and is capable of seating 7,250 people, having a weekly box office taking of £25,000, 1 saw a film with “ shots “ and titles or captions which would not be tolerated for five minutes in Australia. I saw the same thing in several other big theatres. What, therefore, is the slogan and objective of Mr. Hays? It is an ideal, and one with which I entirely agree. Abolish censorship by nations, and have the censorship of films where it should be, within the studio itself. That is an admirable ideal, but it cannot yet be realized. To whom is the present laxity chargeable - the director who makes the picture, or the producer, who provides the means for making the picture? Certainly it must be partly attributable to the director, as he is primarily responsible for making the “ shots,” and the producer or owner of the film is finally to blame in allowing the film to be made. I arrived at the conclusion that Mr. Hays and those associated with him cannot attain the objective for which they are striving until the producing companies in America, with their huge capital, support that ideal, and say “ You must stop any of this stuff being shot.” Until that time, the censorship board, which this Government so wisely brought into existence, willbe a vital necessity. In passing, I take this opportunity to congratulate the Government upon adopting the recommendations of the royal commission on the motion picture industry regarding the censor and appeal boards, which are now operating. Evidently, the conclusions that I have arrivedat are supported in America itself, because the Federal Motion Picture Council, which met at Washington on 27th November, 1928, passed resolutions favoring Federal supervision, and affirming that films have become morally worse though mechanically and artistically better. I agree with the first of these resolutions, which supports exactly what I have urged should be done in Australia. I do not agree with the second resolution, as I consider that American films are almost 100 per cent. better than they were fifteen months ago. It is interesting to note that Senator Walsh, of Montana, stated that he felt that the improvement of motion pictures should have the immediate attention of Congress. That is precisely what has been given in Australia.
In order the better to make the people of Australia appreciate the magnitude of the moving picture industry, and to assist them in arriving at a decision as to the advisability of Australia setting up further studios for the production of moving pictures in Australia, I shall quote some figures which were supplied to me by Mr. Will Hays. They are : -
We must grasp those figures firmly in our minds when considering the advisability of facing such competition.
I wish to thank everybody in America who was instrumental in granting facilities to enable me to make a close inspection of the studios in that country, and for the great courtesy which was so cordially extended to me. In a period of three weeks I visited ten studios, fitting in my visits between my conferences. Naturally, I selected the great studios, such as United Artists - Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Norma and Constance Talmadge - Metro- GoldwynMayer, Charlie Chaplin, Fox, Paramount, Hal Roach, First National, Universal and the Fox Hill Sound Studio.
– Did the honorable member visit Fatty Arbuckle?
– I thank the honorable member for that interjection, and am pleased to say that in the United States of America, as in Australia, if a man is so unfortunate as to be down and out, his friends make an effort to lift him out of the mire. Fatty Arbuckle, mainly through the assistance rendered by his former associates, is now conducting a smart restaurant at Hollywood, and is making good.
It is indeed difficult to describe the magnitude of the great American studios. When visiting individual studios one needs a motor car to take one through the streets running around the studio walls, as each studio covers from 30 to 37 acres. Within each enclosure there are eight or nine gigantic studios, surrounded by administrative blocks and an abundance of beautiful flowers and shrubs. The streets are cement lined. As a comparison I cite the largest studio in Australia, which is in my electorate, that of Australian Films, at Bondi Junction, Sydney, which cost £50,000 to erect. In each of the great Hollywood studios there are eight or nine studios, each bigger than that at Bondi. When the talking films came into existence in America the Fox Film Corporation erected a studio at Fox Hills at a cost of £1,800,000, although that organization already had some 80 to 90 acres at Hollywood, upon which their main studios were built. That illustrates the fact that no monetary expenditure will prevent these people from achieving their object. Of course, they are aware that they have a world-wide market to bring their money back. On one occasion I saw John Barrymore making the film “ The King of the Mountains.” In this there was a snow scene, and four aeroplanes were used to., blow about porridge meal to represent snow. He was satisfied with the result, but also wanted the work done outside. They went out to Universal City, and taking a strip of mountain side 400 or 500 yards wide, and milo high, they painted the entire area white. Here they erected the villages and shelters for the “mountaineers at a cost of about £25,000, all for the taking of a scene which lasted only twenty minutes. This must be taken into consideration when we are dealing with the suggestion that the Commonwealth Government should -establish studios in Australia. We cannot establish studios here to compete against enterprise of that kind. The question then remains, what chance have Australian pictures on the American market? I am sorry to say that they have very little. We have not many pictures to offer - only two perhaps, “For the Term of His Natural Life,” costing £50,000, and “The Adorable Outcast,” which cost £40,000. When I inquired about exhibiting our pictures in America, I was told that the big Broadway theatres in New York could not risk their box office receipts by showing our films. It has to be remembered that Australians have invested very large sums of money in picture theatres, and the only chance of getting a return on that money is to screen American films. Shut out American films, and the Australian investor will lose his money, at least until such time as we can get sufficient British films, and that time is not yet. The American exhibitors will not risk their box office receipts by showing our films unless they are of undoubted merit - something so good that people will fall over one another to see them. In Broadway, New York, there is, for instance, the famous Roxy Theatre, the weekly takings of which are £25,000. There is also the Paramount Theatre, a little further down, a magnificent place with a seating capacity of 7,000, and a weekly return of £17,000 to. £18,000. My advice to the Australian producer is to sell his films to Empire theatres, and not to bother about America for the moment. One man whom I met in England controls 400 theatres throughout the British Isles. He extended great hospitality to me, and threw his whole organization open for my inspection. He said that he wants Australian pictures, and will exhibit them in all his theatres. Here is a market ready made, and if taken advantage of will prove a great boon to Australian producers. I advise them to get films out as quickly as possible, and to put them into British theatres, and theatres throughout South Africa, Canada, India and other parts of the Empire. Quality alone will count in America ; but England wants quality and numbers as well. I was sorry to learn that certain great British, producers were not distributing their films in Australia through British or British-Australian distributing companies, in compliance with the recommendation contained in the report of our Royal Commission. We recommend that the producers should start distributing agencies in Australia and many have done so. Others, however, have not, and it is a great pity. When I inquired the reason, one managing director told me that they had established a liaison with interests in France and Germany for the release of films in those countries, and it was necessary to release their films in Australia through the same companies.
– Oan our films compete against American productions in the British theatres?
– Undoubtedly they can, because the British exhibitors are asking for them.
– How many exhibitors are asking for our films?
– -I have just mentioned one firm which controls 400 theatres, and when the others see what profits this firm is making out of Australian pictures they will be very anxious to obtain some for themselves. The British producer must build up his own industry, although it is true that the British Government is behind him. I have already thrown out this hint through the press, and I wish to repeat it now: If the British producers desire to build up their industry, let them secure the services of some of the famous film stars at present working in Hollywood. When 1 was there I had an opportunity of meeting many of these great stars, and found that a large percentage of them, both men and women, were Britishers. These were persons whose names were famous throughout the whole world, and they were receiving enormous salaries for the work they did. They are anxious to get back to the Motherland to help forward film production there. Why, then, do they not return ? Many of them have not even been asked, and others, while they have been approached, have not been offered salaries commensurate with their positions. The British producers should secure these stars now while they are at the very height of their fame. The psychology of the picture public makes an interesting study. .How does the ordinary person make up his mind which picture theatre he will go to? He either looks at the newspaper to see who the star players are in the different shows, or he walks down the street and sees the names on the posters or electric signs outside the theatres. The Americans know this, and have the names of the stars emblazoned outside the theatres in brilliant lights. In Britain there are few great stars whose names are sufficiently well known to secure automatically the success of a production. I understand that some Hollywood artists who are already on the down grade have been approached, but it would be a COl.lossal mistake to bring them over to England. The most recent development in the film world is the introduction of the talking picture - a most wonderful thing. Take, for instance, the news reel which shows His Majesty the King performing the ceremony of opening a bridge. His Majesty, as we know, has been a very sick man for months; but in this picture he is heard speaking as clearly as any one can be heard in this chamber, and there can be heard also the sound of the horses coming down the street, the cheering of the crowd, and the music of the band. The talking films have come to stay, and Australia must get into the business. I urge upon the Minister for Trade and Customs the need to install apparatus for screening talking films in the office of the Commonwealth Censor in Sydney. At the present time it is necessary for the Censor to get permission to screen such pictures in some theatre in which the apparatus has been already installed. The Film Censorship staff is a very hard-worked body, and we should help them as much as possible. In conclusion, I desire to thank the Prime Minister, the British Government, and the producers and directors whom I met for the hospitality they extended to me, and the facilities which they provided for me as a member of this Parliament when I was seeking information regarding this industry. I deeply appreciate it, as I am quite sure every honorable member of this House does.
Something has to be done to improve the marketing of Australian produce in London. The position to-day is far from good. Our growers are not getting proper prices for their produce. I had no direct commission from the Government to look into this matter, but I have reported upon it privately to the Prime Minister in order to help the Administration and the nation. I do not propose to deal with the matter at length, and am merely quoting from my scrap-book. If I had intended to speak to-night I should have had my full notes with me.
– Why is the honorable member speaking to-night?
– Simply because I saw a good opportunity to place some valuable information before honorable members.
Export control boards may be necessary in Australia, but they are not needed in London. The British trader cannot be bothered with control boards. I am informed that most of the time of the Dried Fruits Export Control Board we have established in London is taken up by people who love to have a good old “ spout “ and that by the time they have had a good hearty talk very little business is done. The remedy I suggest is to cut out these boards and put every class of export under one man. There is no need to interfere in regard to our wool; our wool export is all right; but in regard to meat - I base my opinion on that of men vitally concerned in the meat trade, with whom I have had conferences in the Midlands and in London - all we need in London is a veterinary officer working under and in co-operation with the commercial department at Australia House. If there is one activity at Australia House that can be lauded to the utmost it is the commercial department under the charge of Mr. Farraker. Throughout England I found unstinted praise coming, the way of this gentleman and the department he controls. I suggest for the wine export a marketing man only, for the fresh fruit trade an examining officer of inward cargoes, for the canned fruit trade a man who knows the fruit purchasing markets all over the world, and more especially those of London, Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol, Belfast, and Dublin. In the dried fruits trade I suggest that we should cut out the export control board in London,^ and have one man appraising the values of various parcels that arrive consigned to the different merchants. Such a man would keep himself well informed by contact with the leading dried fruit buyers, and thus be in a position to correctly advise the Dried Fruits Export Control Board in Melbourne. We should have a sample room in London. In regard to dairy produce one man only is required. The extensive offices now rented in Adelaide House should be dispensed with and accommodation secured in the commercial department at Australia House. In that way thousands a year could bp saved.
– Did the honorable member go into the aspect of cutting out the brokers and dealing with the buyers direct ?
– I have notes bearing on that matter, but for the moment I merely wish to deal with the points I am mentioning. No doubt, at _ a later stage, I shall have an opportunity to say a great deal more on the subject.
– Did the honorable member hear what the O.T. people said the other day about foreign trade?
– No; but I noted what His Excellency Sir Dudley de Chair, the Governor of New South Wales, had to say about the fact that our labelling and grading needed attention. Some years ago in Melbourne the present Minister (Mr. Paterson) produced some wonderfully coloured labels that were employed on tins of fruit we were exporting.
– Years ago, when Sir Henry Barwell returned from England, he brought back samples and showed them in the Adelaide Town Hall.
– The labelling of our produce is far from good, and the grading is a long way below what it should be. There was beautiful fruit, tinned and fresh, on the tables of the vessel on which I travelled from Sydney to Vancouver, and I was certain’ that it was Australian; but when I called the head steward he informed me that it was Californian. If Australian ships will not use Australian produce, where are we to end? I ask the Minister to look into that matter very closely.
Our advertising in Great Britain has improved wonderfully. Great advertisements of Australian produce can be seen on thousands of motor” ‘buses and on theatre programmes. This work is under the charge of Captain Smart, a man who is respected by one and all; but he is not given sufficient authority. From what I could ascertain there is some one in Australia House who does not help, but, on the contrary, rather impedes our advertising. I suggest that more power should be given to Captain Smart.
The men who I suggest should be appointed to perform in London the various duties I have mentioned should do no other work than that which they are appointed to do. “When I was in London I tried to find out what would be a fair salary to pay. One cannot live in London for nothing. The more people you meet who entertain you the more you have to entertain. In my opinion it would be necessary to pay ?1,500 a year to each of these one-job men. They would earn the money, and at the same time the Australian growers would get more for their produce because there would be a better system in operation. Each man would need to be under the control of Mr. Farraker. in the commercial department of Australia House, because that department has the respect of every one in England.
There is not much wrong with Australia House; but I made the suggestion to Captain Smart that he should make use of more electric light in the display of Australian goods. When a person passes out of the street into Australia House it is like going into a vault. We need to adopt a little Yankee enterprise by the use of electric light for the display of our Australian produce in the big hall at Australia House. I hope that Captain Smart has acted on my advice.
When we were sitting in Melbourne the suggestion was made that, perhaps, it would be well to have a Commonwealth Minister in London. Then I was opposed to the idea. I believe that the present Prime Minister, in common with all honorable members, was opposed to it; but I have greatly altered my views. It is impossible now for the High Commissioner to get through all his work. He has to consult with the “ powers that be “, and ‘has to accept the bulk of the big invitations sent to him. The members of his staff declare that it is impossible for salaried officers to get the big “ powers that be “ to listen to them. The big man cannot get over the fact that the visitor is only an ordinary employee of the Commonwealth. A Min ister of the Crown would be in quite a different position. I am not after a job, and unless an honorable member has a fairly safe seat it would not be a very easy matter for him to say to his constituents “I am going abroad for my government, but I shall be in Australia for three months each year.” Yet the only course to follow is to send a Minister to England. A Minister of the Crown could walk into Mr. Baldwin’s room or into that of any other British Minister and get a hearing, but this our officers at Australia House cannot do.
For some time we have had an excellent representative in the United States of America acting in the absence of a trade commissioner; I refer to Mr. Dow, who is doing excellent work in New York. Our offices there have now been shifted from Battery Point to very much more commodious rooms in the Cunard Building. I spent the whole day going over the place, trying to find out anything I could to bring back with me. It will be remembered that when Sir Hugh Denison came back to Australia he advised the appointment of an ambassador at Washington. That suggestion was rightly turned down by the Government. But Mr. Dow suggests, and I agree with him, that Australia should have a room at the British Embassy in Washington to which our representative in the United States of America or one of his officers may go each week, to act as a liaison officer between Washington and New York.
Mr. Dow has asked me to bring under the attention of the Commonwealth Government a, matter in which he is concerned. He wishes to see that his services in America do not jeopardize his standing in the Commonwealth Public Service. He is doing good work in America, but he does not want to come back to Australia and fall in at the bottom of the line of promotion.
I do not propose to deal with the question of migration at any length, but when I was in Canada with the Empire Parliamentary Association the one subject that was engrossing the attention of Viscount Peel and the other members of the British Delegation was migration. While we were there the British Govern-^ ment sent out to Canada 10,000 miners for harvesting operations. A big fuss was made and the newspapers stated. that a large number of the men were returned to the Old Country. The fact is that of the 10,000 only SOO or 900 were repatriated. The others are likely to remain in Canada permanently. Population cannot, however, be transported to Australia in wholesale fashion and absorbed. Canada is seeking to get the best of the British migrants; so are Australia, South Africa and other parts of the British Empire. Britain on the other hand naturally desires to retain the best. How is the problem to be solved ? Too many departments are involved in dealing with this matter. Migration is the greatest problem taxing the ingenuity of the inner councils of the Empire, and what is most urgently needed is co-ordination of effort. Speaking at our conference in Vancouver, I made a suggestion which appealed to the Right Honorable Thomas Shaw, and other members of the British Delegation. Just as there is at Geneva a gathering of leaders of all the great nations of the world ‘to promote international peace, so should there be in London an empire migration league composed of one delegate from each dominion. This representation would be a full-time job and should be entrusted to either a highly-paid officer or a private person of independent means. The purpose of the league should be to ascertain by systematic investigation the type and number of migrants each dominion can absorb. The Empire Marketing Board could co-operate with it by ascertaining in detail the actual or potential production of each dominion and the most likely markets in which the products could be sold. Australia is far distant from the markets of the old world, and obviously it is waste of effort to produce what we cannot sell. These two great bodies - the Empire Migration League and the Empire Marketing Board - could do much to solve the twin problems of migration and markets. Without some system of co-ordination such as I have suggested, we shall continue to flounder, notwithstanding the good intentions of governments and others who are interested.
The suggestion with which I am about to conclude, may provoke some ridicule, but it originated with some of the biggest financiers in London and Wall-street, with whom I had the privilege of lunching or dining. Two of them are mainly responsible for providing the loan money which Australia obtains abroad. In the course of one such conversation, I received news of the waterside workers’ strike in Australia, and the speeches made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) when endeavouring to induce the men to return to work were warmly applauded by influential men in both London and New York. When I asked one of my hosts whether he, as an investor, was worried by these strikes, he replied, “Not overmuch; an occasional heat spot or carbuncle on the neck of the Australian body politic is not serious, but if these eruptions spread over the whole body something drastic will have to be done. “ In other words, if these strikes continue they will have an effect upon the money markets of London and New York that will stagger us. What is the solution? I was amazed to learn how closely the financiers of London and New York keep in touch. A British money magnate said to me, “ Party politics will kill Australia, and the suggestion I make is that for the benefit of your nation, Bruce, Hughes and Scullin should meet together at the council table and thresh out this matter thoroughly. If those three men cannot find a way out of the trouble, Australia will be in a parlous state.” When I said that I did not think such collaboration was practicable he replied that it must be made practicable and that the workmen of Australia must be helped to a better understanding, irrespective of the merits of any dispute. I believe that such a conference would be worth while. Surely the brains of the Prime Minister, the right honorable member for North Sydney, and the Leader of the Opposition, collaborating without regard to party politics, could evolve a solution of this acute industrial problem. I hope to have another opportunity later in the session to speak further on this subject.
.- The surprising feature of this debate is the silence of honorable members opposite. The only speaker from the Opposition was the leader (Mr. Scullin), whose very brief remarks were confined to abuse of the Government’s proposals, and contained no indication of what he and hia party would do if they were in office. In the circumstances, one is forced to the conclusion that honorable members opposite cannot suggest anything better than the programme set forth in the Governor-General’s speech.
I am glad that His Excellency referred to the fact that Australia was one of the original signatories of the treaty for the renunciation of war. I believe that the scourge of war can be, and eventually will be, stamped out by the League of Nations, and I am proud that Australia was one of the first countries to declare its adherence to the Kellogg Peace Pact.
Another paragraph refers to the tariff and the operations of the Tariff Board. We have heard a good deal about the need for a scientific tariff; we certainly need a lower tariff. Many of the customs duties should be reduced, and I believe that a scientific investigation would prove that they are doing to Australia more harm than good. For many years the customs duties have been steadily mounting, and every increase has added to the cost of production. Because of the higher cost ‘of living, the workers have gone to the Arbitration Court and asked for increased wages. With the awarding of higher wages the cost of production has further increased, in consequence . of which the manufacturers have obtained from Parliament still higher protective duties. Again the workers have obtained from the Arbitration Court higher wages, and again the cost of production has risen. This vicious circle benefits neither the workers nor the manufacturers, and hits hardly the primary producers. It is obvious that although the worker handles each week a larger sum of money, his effective wage is no greater if it will not purchase any more of the necessaries of life than he obtained formerly. A worker whom I have known for many years told me recently that although he is earning in Canberra 28s. 2d. a day, he cannot save as much money as when he was receiving 10s. a day before the war. The effect of the high tariff is to place the primary producer at a disadvantage. Every increase in duties recoils upon him, because he has to buy in a highly protected market and to sell his produce competitively in the markets of the world.
– The manufacturer can pass on increased costs, but the primary producer cannot.
– That is so, and unless we break the vicious circle of rising costs, it will break us. The cost of production in Australia is mounting continuously, whereas in other countries it is being reduced. We shall have to alter our fiscal system. It has been truly said that the sheep is carrying Australia on its back, wool being the only product that can be marketed abroad without government aid.
– What about wheat?
– The wheat-growers are in a precarious condition; much wheat land is going out of cultivation, and that retrogression will continue unless something is done to reduce the cost of living and production. Although the woolgrowers are now receiving for their product a price twice as great as that which they received prior to the outbreak of the war, their income is very much less, on account of the higher costs of production and the largely increased taxation that they are obliged to pay. The high tariff under which our industries are working is not conferring a benefit upon any section, but on the contrary, is having an adverse effect upon all classes, because the effect has been to increase the cost of production and to cause thousands of persons to be thrown out of employment. The Economic Conference has a good deal to say in its report with respect to the closely related subjects of the tariff and our arbitration system. I again remind honorable members that the prosperity of Australia is dependent mainly upon the success of our primary industries, which are responsible for 96 per cent, of our exports, and which represent 73 per cent, of the wealth of Australia. It appears to me that the practice has been not to advance, but to retard the development of those industries. The imposition of increased duties, and the application of our arbitration system, are having a most adverse effect upon them, and unless the existing conditions ‘are altered, the result is likely to be disastrous. From the report of the
Economic Conference, I make the following quotation in relation to the necessity for a full scientific inquiry into the operation of the tariff.
We are aware that much of the information necessary for a scientific revision of the tariff is not available anywhere, but we are confident that it is urgently necessary that a full scientific inquiry and investigation should forthwith be instituted by the Commonwealth Government into the wide question of the economic effect of the tariff and the incidence of its duties, with the particular object of furnishing reliable advice to the Government as to the removal of any extravagances and anomalies which it may be found to contain, as to the confinement of its benefits to industries which may reasonably be regarded as efficient, and as to the reduction of its total cost to the community.
We consider that while the investigation is proceeding legislative or administrative action to increase duties or impose deferred duties should, so far as is consistent with the continued effective working of the existing tariff, be avoided, in order that the investigation may proceed so far as possible untroubled by disturing changes in its subject-matter.
The report goes on to say -
But all measures designed for the increase of Australia’s wealth production and power of absorbing new population tend to be defeated if there are strong forces within her which operate so to raise her costs of production that she cannot sell her products in the markets of the world, and is restricted within the limitations of her own home market. . . . We could not fail to be impressed, throughout our travels in Australia, with the fact of which we wore continually reminded, that, notwithstanding the magnitude of the interest on her external debt and of her imports for which payment can only be made in goods or services or, temporarily, by fresh borrowing, Australia exports only an almost negligible quantity of the products of manufacture, unless we include therein minerals such as lead, silver and zinc; while, broadly speaking, the only primary products which she exports in important quantities and which are not directly assisted by tariffs or bounties, though they may be assisted indirectly by government expenditure from taxation on roads, railways, water schemes and the like, are wool, hides and skins, meat and tallow, wheat and timber. Of these, wool and wheat are by far the most important, and it has often, though somewhat loosely, been said to us that the primary industries concerned with these products are the only industries in Australia which stand on their own feet and sell their goods at the world’s price; or even, still more loosely and with a change of metaphor, that all Australia is riding on the sheep’s back. Without committing ourselves to full acquiescence with these broad expressions of opinion, we may say that we have been strongly disposed to the view that the combined operation of the tariff and of the Arbitration Acts has raised costs to a level which has laid an excessive and possibly even a dangerous load upon the unsheltered primary industries, which, having to sell in the world’s markets, cannot pass on the burden to other sections of the Australian community, and, consequently, as between the various States, upon those, notably Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania, which are poor in manufactures and are principally concerned with primary production. These States, and Tasmania probably most of all, are further handicapped by the high costs of freight in interstate trade which result from the operation of the Navigation Acts along with the other causes which we have mentioned. . . . We have felt much force in the oft-repeated complaint that successive increases in the tariff which affect prices and the cost of living, following upon, or being followed by, successive advances in the cost of labour as the result of decisions under the Arbitration Acts have involved Australia in a vicious circle of ever ascending costs and prices, and that this condition of affairs is crippling Australia’s progress and her power of supporting increased population. There lies no task before the Australian people more urgent than that of in some way breaking the vicious circle and of bringing down costs of production, as is being done in the other industrial countries of the world, without lowering *he standard of living of the workers as measured not by money but by real wages, which are the reward of labour in the form of goods and services.
The report quotes the opinion of the Tariff Board in the following terms -
Our views have merely been strengthened by our study of the reports of the Commonwealth Tariff Board, who, we observe, in their report for the year 1925-20, say that they are - “ strongly of the opinion that the industrial unions of the Commonwealth should be induced to realize the critical position into which the Commonwealth is drifting and the absolute necessity for preventing the wages gap from becoming still wider between the United Kingdom, the Continent of. Europe and the Commonwealth, otherwise, the Tariff Board, placed as it is in the position to take a comprehensive and intimate view of all Australian industry, can see nothing but economic disaster ahead, and that at no very distant date “
It proceeds -
The seriousness of the position lies in the fact that the cost of production in competing countries has declined while costs in Australia generally have risen - thus increasing the already wide margin of difference between the costs in overseas countries and those in Australia.
The following quotation deals with our arbitration law -
By workmen’s representatives, not less emphatically than by representatives of the employers, it has been consistently represented to us that the Arbitration Courts are not achieving their purpose and that a system designed to arrive by judicial decisions at fair and prompt settlement of industrial disputes such as could be freely accepted by both sides must bc held to have failed.
The members of the commission offer the following objection to compulsory arbitration, and with them I cordially agree : -
The most important of the reasons which have been advanced for this view are that experience has shown that there arises between the two parties who appear before the Arbitration Court Judge or Arbitrator the spirit of antagonism inseparable from litigation, and that the object of prompt settlement is defeated by the delay occasioned by the necessity for the collection and presentation of detailed evidence in a form acceptable to a court. It is complained that the procedure of the court occasions the expenditure of much time and money by the litigants and involves very long absences from their ordinary occupations for a large number of persons whose time might be more profitably employed; that the subject matter of the questions . which are brought before the courts is not of a nature with which judicial tribunals, necessarily unversed in the practical problems of industry or in the economic questions to which they give rise, are best fitted to deal; and that the overlapping jurisdictions of the Federal and State Arbitration Courts have led to an almost inextricable tangle of conflicting decisions so complicated that large staffs have to be maintained to keep track of them and to endeavour to guard against involuntary contravention of any of them in the course of every-day business.
The indictment of the system of the Arbitration Courts which we have heard is a heavy one; and we feel that it is well founded on’ many grounds, and particularly on the ground that the system has tended to consolidate employers and employees into two opposing camps, and has lessened the inducement to either side to resort to round table conferences for that frank and confidential discussion of difficulties in the light of mutual understanding and sympathy which is the best means of arriving at fair and workable industrial agreements.
They go on to say -
A change in the method prevalent in Australia of dealing with industrial disputes appears to us to be essential, and we hold that there should be a minimum of judicial and governmental interference in them except in so far as matters affecting the health and safety of persons engaged in industry may be concerned.
They then deal with the basic wage -
Further, a system of wage fixation resting upon a basic money wage which rises or falls with a varying index figure of the cost of living is open to the gravest criticism, as tending to deprive employees of any interest in the prosperity of the industry with which they are connected. Let us assume that by better, more energetic, and more willing work on the part of all concerned from the highest to the lowest, the output of Australian industries were increased with no increase in overhead cost. The natural economic effect would be that prices all round would fall and that consumption and profits would rise; but as the cost of living would fall the basic wage would also fall, and with it all wages fixed by the Arbitration Courts in relation to the basic wage with margins for especial skill and the like. Thus the system is such as to give the worker in industry no interest in a cheaper cost of living, and no inducement to that increased efficiency which would tend to bring it about. In such a case as we have imagined it would be only right that wages should rise and that the workmen should share in the increased prosperity so largely attributable to them. It is only if all concerned in industry genuinely feel that their own fortunes are bound up with its success or failure that that solidarity in industry ‘which is essential to its prosperity can be achieved.
No person wishes to see wages fall. I contend, as do these gentlemen also, that the real wage would be higher, and that the workers would be better off than they are now, under a system of payment by results, such as that which is enjoyed by workers in the United States of America. The output of our industries . also would be very much greater than it is at the present time.
Our Mission was honoured by two of its members being asked to take part in an industrial conference held in Melbourne during December last. At that conference the necessity for closer and more friendly relationship between all concerned in industry was fully recognized by the delegates present, and the discussions were of so frank a nature that at subsequent meetings there should be no obstacle to the candid exposition by all the delegates of their difficulties and their aspirations. We hope and believe that from future sessions of the conference there will result the formulation of agreed alternative methods for fixing wages and laying down conditions of employment, which may render the present functions of the Arbitration Courts unnecessary, and substitute for them a system of settlement of industrial problems by industry itself on practical and acceptable lines in an atmosphere of mutual confidence and goodwill.
We even venture to hope that the spirit generated from this conference will be such as to facilitate the task, which after investigation such as we have recommended we trust that the Government will undertake, of tariff revision. The problem of the tariff is, as we have said, closely interlocked with that of the fixation of wages, and a happy solution of the latter problem should do more than anything else could to make possible the solution of the former under the indispensable conditions of freedom from class or political strife and bitterness.
In my opinion, this is a most valuable expression of opinion with which every one who has studied the subject must agree. It coincides to a large extent with the view expressed by the delegation which the Government sent to the United States of America last year to inquire into industrial affairs there. I submit that this document proves conclusively that the system of payment by results greatly increases the prosperity of the workers and of the community generally. We should adopt the system in Australia.
I am glad that His Excellency the Governor-General sympathetically referred in his Speech to the necessity for encouraging co-operation between employers and employees. Personally, I think that we shall have to abolish compulsory arbitration before we can expect a proper spirit to be displayed in industry. What is needed is more roundtable conferences, where the problems of industry can be discussed in a friendly spirit away from the atmosphere of a law court. We could- very well learn a lesson from the United States of America in this connexion. It will be remembered that during the war the people of the United States of America experienced a time of remarkable prosperity. They obtained high prices for all their products, and the employers paid high wages to the workers. But after the war prices fell, and for a considerable time the industries of the nation were dislocated. When the employers suggested that wages should be reduced the workers strenuously resisted the proposal. However, the time soon came when both parties realized that something had to be done. This conclusion was forced upon them by the distress which existed throughout the country. At that stage the Government took a hand and called the parties to “ a round-table conference with the object of devising ways and means of remedying the troubles which were afflicting the people. The employers on their part admitted that the workers had every right to a reasonable wage which would enable them to live in comfort. The workers on their part admitted that industry could not pay good wages unless it yielded good profits. The result of the conference was that a system of payment by results was adopted. This led to an increase in wages of from 30 to 40 per cent, in the case of energetic workers, and a new era of prosperity was ushered in for the nation. Many of the workers in the United States of America own motor cars to-day. The more thriftyones hold shares in the industries in which they are engaged or in other industries. The workers of America actually own 25 of the banks operating in the country. How different is the situation in Australia! Here we have strike after strike. During the last six years between £6,000,000 and £7,000,000 have been lost through cessations of work. Our workmen do not own shares to any great extent in the industries which employ them, and generally there is a lack of co-operation between employers and employees. I cannot understand why honorable members opposite do not agitate for the introduction of the system of payment by results. Perhaps they are afraid that it would upset the slow and lazy worker, or might offend some of the unions which champion the go-slow policy and penalize the energetic employees. At any rate I have never heard one honorable member opposite speak in favour of the adoption of the system here. It would appear that their desire is to reduce the first-class worker to the level of the slow and lazy workers. Do honorable members opposite intend to sit quietly by and allow our industrial situation to drift from bad to worse? The experience of America is an object lesson to the world. If the American method of dealing with industry were adopted in Australia the workers and the community generally would be far better off. It must be remembered that good wages .and good conditions, like all good things, can bc had only at a price. The price of good wages is work. It is of no use for us to imagine that we can prosper under the prevalent go-slow policy. I am afraid that a big crisis will occur in Australian industry in the near future unless steps are taken to alter our methods.
– It is usual for men who have never done a hard day’s work in their lives to talk as the honorable member is doing.
– I have in my lifetime worked harder than the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley). I worked far more than 44 hours or even 48 hours a week.
– The honorable member was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He does not know what hard work is.
– The honorable member is quite wrong. I worked as hard as any man for many years.
– I know the honorable member’s history.
– Order !
– The honorable member for Riverina should not talk as he is doing about the conditions of the worker, for he knows nothing about them.
– I know as much, and probably more, about them than the honorable member for Darling. I know very well that we must reduce our cost of production, and cost of living, and increase our efficiency before we can expect to prosper. The Tariff Board has told us that. Nothing but hard work and efficiency will remedy our present troubles. I do not desire to reduce wages. I am anxious to see them higher than they are ; but I know that we must obtain value for the wages that we pay,We cannot afford to pay wagesthat are not earned.
– They have reduced wages in Great Britain, and the honorable member has heard something of the conditions that still prevail there.
-.- Order ! I must ask the honorable member for Darling to cease interjecting. He will have an opportunity to reply to the speech of the honorable member for Riverina. It is distinctly out of order for him to keep up a running fire of interjections while another honorable member is addressing the House.
– I wish to make some reference tothe Tariff Board. Australia is mainly dependent upon her primary industries and our primary producers contend that it is only reasonable that they should have a direct representative on the Tariff Board. I understand that a fresh appointment is to be made to the board in the near future. I trust “that the Government will give consideration to the claimsof the producers for direct representation.
Some reference has been made in the House to-day to the sale of the Commonwealth Government line of steamers. Honorable members opposite have indicated that they believe that the disposal of these vessels has led to the threatened rise in shipping freights.
– Has that not been proved ?
– In my opinion it is an entirely wrong inference to draw from the facts of the case. The ships of the Commonwealth Government Line only carried a little over 2½ per cent. of the exports of Australia, and it cannot be seriously suggested that the influence of that line was sufficient to affect freights. We know that New Zealand, which has had no government line of steamers, has always enjoyed lower freights than those ruling in Australia. The Commonwealth Government Line was nothing but a burden on the taxpayers, because it cost them over £500,000 a year to keep the vessels running.
Reference has been made in the Governor-General’s Speech to the development of the Northern Territory. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) advocates that the north-south railway should be continued to Darwin, but he has never seen that country. Before I visited it I held the same opinion as that expressed by him and other honorable members; but I challenge anybody who knows the value of different kindsof country to say that more than from 10 per cent. to 15 per cent. of good land is to be found along the route of the proposed railway from Oodnadatta through Alice Springs to Port Darwin. I believe that from 85 per cent. to 90 per cent. of that country is not worth developing. If that line were completed at an additional cost of at least £6,000,000 or £7,000,000, it would prove the greatest white elephant with which Australia has ever been saddled.
– If that is so, we ought to cease talking about our great heritage in thenorth.
– It is unfortunate that the railway was ever built beyond Maree.
– Where would the honorable memberhave the terminus of the railway?
– At Oodnadatta, which has been connected with Adelaide by rail for the last 36 years. More white people were living in that district before the railway was built than are to be found there at the present time. To within a short distance of Alice Springs, the country is not capable of carrying more than from one to three cattle per square mile, and it is useless to spend millions in trying to develop it. I know a gentleman who has been a large holder of land along the route of the railway for the last thirteen or fourteen years. I saw him on my return from the Northern Territory, and he imagined that the object of my visit was to acquire cheap land. As a matter of fact, nothing was further from my mind. I went there simply to discover whether or not the construction of the railway was justified. He remarked that he was prepared to sell me some good stations up there. He offered me 8,000 square miles of country along the route of the railway between Oodnadatta and Alice Springs for £5,000 with all improvements. I replied that I would not have that country at a gift. He then said, “ You are right. I have had it for thirteen or fourteen years and have not made a shilling out of it.” What hope, therefore, would there he for small settlers? It would be a pure waste of money to continue the line northward. The tragedy of it is that while this poor country is being opened up, good country on the Barkly Tablelands, which could have been developed very much more cheaply, is being left idle.
– How could the north be developed without a railway ?
– I advocate its development by means of a line from Borraloola, which could be later extended to connect with the Queensland system on the east and with Wyndham on the west. There would also be the line from Pine Creek to Daly Waters.
I hope that the Government will give serious consideration to the matters referred to by the Economic Commission and by the Industrial Delegation to the United States of America. If heed were given to the recommendations of those bodies, much could he done to improve conditions in Australia. It is essential that this be done if we are to. progress as a nation.
.- The satisfactory nature of the bulletins now being received regarding the health of His Majesty the King is most gratifying. The whole Empire has been moved by His Majesty’s illness and the deep concern of the people shows that he has won the love and esteem of his subjects throughout his wide dominions. His people appreciate not only the system of government under which they live, but also His Majesty’s personal qualities as a ruler.
Honorable members have just returned from an election, and it is not usual for the debate on the Address-in-Reply to be closed so quickly, as members of the Opposition apparently desire. This debate may be regarded as’ involving, to some extent, a waste of time, but 1- think that it serves a useful purpose in that it affords new members an opportunity to address the House. Although honorable members opposite may have some justification for their high spirits, I remind them that the Nationalist party is still a strong one. We regret, of course, that we have lost a number of able and patriotic men, but we do not despair. We intend to carry on the affairs of this country in such a way that when the Parliament again seeks the suffrages of the people, we shall be returned in greater numbers than ever. It is only natural. considering the present Ministry’s long term of office, that there should be some attempt to bring about a change of government. It is remarkable that the Nationalist party has remained so powerful as it has been for so long a period, and the Prime Minister and his colleagues are to be congratulated on their success. The Ministry that now adorns the Treasury bench has a majority sufficiently large to enable it to carry on the government without fear of serious trouble from the Opposition.
I do not claim to be a supporter of the tariff policy enunciated by the Prime Minister. I cannot say that I understand what is meant by a scientific tariff. I take it that the Prime Minister means that a balance should be maintained between the secondary and primary industries, but I fail to see bow that is to be accomplished. I have always favored a reduction in the duties imposed on commodities used in primary production. We should be destroying the foundations of the national structure if we hampered our primary producers. Our secondary industries have made great progress, but we do not send secondary products overseas to a sufficient extent to bring new wealth into the country. It is easy to find evidence of unemployment in Melbourne and Sydney, where the curse of centralization has long been felt. Honorable members opposite have their own special cure for these industrial evils. Their remedy is to raise the tariff. Indeed, some members of the Labour party would place an absolute embargo on the importation of all commodities that can be produced in Australia. I disagree with them. In tariff matters, I prefer to judge every request for a protective duty on its merits. I do not care whether honorable members opposite say that, in this matter, I am consistent or inconsistent. If I believe that a certain industry is likely to develop along satisfactory lines and eventually provide employment on an extensive scale, I am prepared to give it every reasonable support through the tariff. Unfortunately, many Australian industries have been bolstered up under our present system of high tariffs and for this reason they are not economically sound. In respect of such industries I should advocate a reduction in the duties imposed.
– What about the timber industry ?
– The timber industry is capable of immense development. It breeds some of the finest men in Australia, and if those engaged in it were left alone; if they paid no attention to the advice of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, they would be able to patch up their present differences with employers and the industry would progress normally. I am hoping that during the life of this Parliament my friends in the Country party and a number of Nationalist members who share our views will be able to do something to ease the tariff burdens on primary production. We shall then be able to go to the people and say that at last we were strong enough to secure for them some of the tariff reforms which we had promised.
I have always held that if Australia is to be prosperous, we must have industrial peace. I have stated also that the Arbitration Act is faulty from start to finish, because it has done nothing to ensure peace in industry. I am afraid that the act is largely responsible for our present unsatisfactory industrial position. I fail to see any reason for the existence of the Arbitration Court. In nine cases out of ten, if the workers engaged in an industry had an opportunity to meet their employers in conference, they would be able to settle their differences amicably. No judge of the Arbitration Court can expect to gain a complete insight into the difficulties of a particular industry and therefore give an award that will be satisfactory to all the parties. One of the objections to the arbitration system is that if the award rate in an industry is £5 a week, that rate must stand regardless of the ability of the employer to pay it, and still carry on. Again in many awards the remuneration of labour is fixed according to time and not by the amount produced. In some instances this operates unfairly. It should be clear to all honorable members that industrial concerns cannot be carried on in this way. No one had a higher regard than I had for the late Mr. Justice Higgins as an equity barrister, and a humane, impartial man; but I am afraid his formula for the fixing of a living wage is against the law of economics, and therefore must fail. Personally, I should like to see every one in Australia in receipt of high wages. I believe that the Commonwealth would then be a much better place than it is; but if high wages are paid, there must be a corresponding increase in industrial output. No one could continue to pay me, or any other man, £2 a week if I did not give £2 worth of labour by way of return.
– What was in the note handed to the honorable member just now! Is there any chance of a ministerial job?
– Order !
– I can assure the honorable member I am not asking for a job. Although my merits may have been overlooked, I am satisfied to be a humble worker in the hive.
It is’ distressing to find that many Australian industries, which formerly were flourishing, are now in a bad way. We can trace a good deal of our present trouble to the action of militant ‘ industrial leaders, who have succeeded in misleading employees. Honorable members opposite give good advice to trade unionists, but they seem to be guided by such bodies as ‘the Australasian Council of Trade Unions. Consequently, we have this frequent dislocation of industry, which works more harm to the employees than to employers. If, as I have said before, it were possible for employers and employees to meet in conference, there would he a much better chance of industrial peace. Unfortunately, industrial agitators are continually stirring up trouble and members of industrial organizations find themselves called out on strike “willy “nilly “ whenever a dispute occurs. The men do not get a fair chance. In the majority of cases they Would prefer to remain at work, and arrange their differences with their employers in an amicable way. I have never been able to understand why it has not been possible to resume work in an industry when the aid of the Arbitration Court has been invoked. Surely it should be possible to get the men back to work pending a settlement of the difficulty that has led to a strike. I am inclined to think that under the act as it stands, there is some obstacle, because we have had that measure on the statute-book for 24 years, and I have not seen reference to any provision Which would get over the .difficulty I have mentioned. There should be no trouble about the matter, because an award can be made retrospective. I am hoping that before long better counsels will prevail, and that we shall have peace in industry. This will only be possible,, however, if the men follow the advice of their recognized leaders. Trouble >always will occur if they remain under the domination of militant industrialists. We have had an experience of this in the waterside workers’ strike and in the present dispute in the timber industry.
Several honorable members interrupting,
– Order ! I ask honorable members to cease interjecting. I also ask the honorable member for Adelaide not to address the honorable member for Wilmot by name across the chamber. I remind honorable members that this is a deliberative assembly and that interjections and interruptions are unseemly and disorderly.
– The men in this industry are looking to the Parliamentary Labour party for a lead. Honorable members opposite, however, remain silent, and !as long as they are prepared to remain under the domination of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions they will never be fit to occupy the treasury bench.
– I have been waiting for honorable members opposite to address themselves to the great issues with which this country is at present confronted, but, with the exception of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) who spoke for about five minutes this afternoon, no honorable member on the other side has spoken. During the recent election campaign candidates representing the Labour party repeatedly told the electors that Australia was experiencing difficult times, that our economic position was exceedingly grave, that the volume of unemployment was unprecedented, and that the country’s only hope lay in the return to power of a Labour Government. When on the public platform where their .statements, however futile they might be, were not likely to be challenged, honorable members opposite referred to the troubles confronting Australia, but now in this deliberative assembly they refuse to speak or to give any guidance to the people whom they persuaded to vote for them in the belief that they would give them a lead in times of difficulty. The country will judge these honorable members, not by their words during the election campaign, but by their actions to-day. I desire to remind the House of some recent happenings in this country and of events that are taking place at this very moment. Particularly do I desire to refer to the serious position which has arisen in the timber industry. There are thousands of men in that industry whose livelihood depends upon its continuance. Tens of thousands of men, women and children not actually associated with it are also dependent for their livelihood upon the continuance of its operations. The men themselves are undecided what to do. They do not know whether they can trust their leaders, and they are looking to honorable members opposite, who have been elected to represent them, for guidance at this time. They want a lead; yet not one honorable gentleman opposite has the courage to give it to them. The reason that the timber workers are fearful of what is going to happen them is that the leaders, the men whom honorable members opposite are afraid to challenge - I refer to the Australasian Council of Trades Unions - are the very men who brought disaster upon the unfortunate waterside workers, who followed their guidance. The timber workers oan see that the unwise counsels given them by these men - the advice to defy the law of the country and bring about a great industrial upheaval, will bring upon them a disaster similar to that which befel the transport workers recently. Honorable members opposite realize the seriousness of the position, but have not the courage to challenge the leadership of the Australasian Council of Trades Unions. Upon them, however, rests the obligation of saving the timber workers from the consequences of unwise counsels. It is true that in hia policy speech ‘the Leader of the Opposition offered advice to the workers. It was given in somewhat uncertain terms; but on that occasion he did muster sufficient courage to say -
Strikes and lock-outs are obsolete and undesirable. Reason must be applied to the settlement of disputes and all parties to agreements or awardsshould honour decisions arrived at.
It is one thing to utter such platitudes in the course of a policy speech ; it is another thing to offer the same advice to men in an industrial crisis.
Opposition members interjecting,
– Order! The Prime Minister is entitled to be heard in silence. So many honorable members are interjecting that it is almost impossible for him to be heard.
– By the people of Australia honorable gentlemen opposite will be adjudged recreant to their trust. They remain silent and refuse to give to the workers that lead which, as the representatives of the people, it is their duty to give,
The conditions prevailing in the coal industry also call for the earnest consideration of all public men. This afternoon I was asked a question relating to that industry. The honorable gentleman who asked it, as well as other honorable members opposite, who apparently realise the seriousness of the present situation, should be courageous enough to offer the workers in that industry some advice. But not one of them has dared to do so. In no better way could this Parliament occupy its time than by engaging in a full and earnest debate on the conditions now prevailing in this fundamental industry.
Opposition members again interjecting,
– I am reluctant to take action against honorable members, but I shall have to do so unless they cease interjecting. I again appeal to them to listen in silence to the Prime Minister and to give him an opportunity to put his case to the House. It is unfair that honorable members should keep up a running fire of interjections while he is speaking.
– I rise to a point of order. The Prime Minister when dealing with this subject this afternoon stated that it was purely a State matter, and I contend that any reference now made by the Prime Minister to the coal situation is irrelevant to the subjectmatter before the House.
– The Prime Minister is quite in order.
– I suggest that honorable members opposite have at last realized that in resorting to political tactics with the object of embarrassing the Government - that by refusing to discuss these questions of vital importance to the country - they have made a fatal blunder, and so we have from them this continuous flow of interruptions. I am afraid that that is the usual attitude of honorable members opposite. Whenever the tide is against them, its force can always be gauged by the amount of noise that emanates from them when a member of the Government is endeavouring to speak.
Another great issue to which the Leader of the Opposition addressed himself throughout the election campaign was the volume of unemployment in Australia. He rather led the people of this country to believe that he had some remedy for this evil, some practical proposal which, if he were returned to office, he would put into effect and unemployment would disappear. The Leader of the Opposition has now an opportunity, not to indulge in vague platitudes from the platform, but, on the floor of this chamber, to make known to the country the nature of his remedies for unemployment and to give to this House an opportunity to fully debate his proposals. But. we have not heard one word from him on the subject. In his policy speech he gave neither the Parliament nor the country any assistance in dealing with this problem. It will be remembered that he said -
To alleviate the sufferings of the unemployed, early action will be taken to establish a system of unemployment insurance, the sum created to be distributed, as far as practicable, in providing work.
At the first glance one might consider that to be the germ of a great idea, but it will not bear analysis. The honorable gentleman has assured us that there are 180,000 persona unemployed in this country. He has said that he would provide for these people by means of insurance payments, and I am sure that neither he nor any member of his party would consent to the payment of less than £4 5s. a week. If 180,000 persons were paid £4 5s. a week the annual payment would be £39,700,000. The Leader of the Opposition gave no indication of how and where this money could be obtained. He did not say whether the workers would contribute to the insurance fund; but he said most emphatically that borrowing must be reduced, so apparently his idea is not to borrow the money required for insurance. He also said, in his appeal to the electors, that taxation must be reduced ; that our taxation had been excessive. That statement means nothing at all, and he knew that when he made it. When asked on the floor of this chamber to explain his utterance, he has nothing to say except that he will not discuss the subject. Honorable gentlemen opposite have taken their own line of action. They say that they do not wish to make any contribution to the debate. They therefore do not desire to make any constructive criticism towards the ‘solving of the problems that confront this country. The Government accepts their decision, but the country will recognize the reason for their attitude and will consider that they have been recreant to their trust as members of this Parliament.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I shall ascertain when it will be convenient for His Excellency the Governor-General to receive the AddressinReply and honorable members will be notified accordingly.
Message received from the Senate intimating that Senator J. B. Hayes, Senator Hoare, and Senator Kingsmill had been appointed members of the Public Accounts Committee.
Message received from the Senate intimating that Senator Barnes, Senator Payne, and Senator Reid had been appointed members of the Public Works Committee.
House adjourned at 10.21 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 February 1929, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1929/19290207_reps_11_120/>.