13th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. E. Mackay; took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - For the information of honorable members, I wish to state that, in accordance with a request made to me by Mr. justice Langer Owen, the Royal Commissioner on Performing Rights, I am to-day issuing the following statement : -
The Royal- Commission on Performing Rights commenced its sittings on the 23rd September, and has adjourned until the 4-th October, when evidence will be given with respect to questions arising out of the use of copyright music in broadeasting.
As soon as possible, the commissioner hopes to deal with matters in dispute between the owners of the performing right in copyright music and persons interested in its performance in cinemas, theatres, dance halls, public halls, cabarets, hotels and restaurants.
The Government hopes that these persons will assist to make the inquiry complete and effective in all its aspects and the Attorney-General asks all interested parties to make all material evidence and information available to the commission at the earliest date.
All communications should be addressed to the Secretary of the Commission, 7th Floor, Commonwealth Bank Buildings, Sydney. He will advise any person interested as to the steps which they should take in order to place their evidence before the commission.
– I have received the following letter from a garage proprietor in Mount Gambier: -
As a garage proprietor and re-seller oi petrol and oils, I wish to draw your attention to the unfair sale of Government spirit, namely, C.O.R.
In this town Messrs.- , garage operators, have the sole wholesale and distributing of government petrol. We cannot see .the fairness or the justice of one re-seller holding the sole agency of. this spirit, and we, as taxpayers, have to foot the bill of loss if the Government Oil Refineries show a deficiency at the end of the year’s trading.
I ask the Prime Minister whether .it is true that the sole right to distribute Commonwealth Oil Refineries spirit is given to one firm in Mount Gambier, and whether the same limitation applies in other country towns? If that is the considered policy of the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, what is the reason for it?
– By the terms of the agreement under which, the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited operate, the technical and commercial control of the business is governed by the board ; the Government has no voice in these matters. T shall, however, bring the honorable member’s question under the notice of the board, and endeavour to get a reply for him.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether there is any truth in the published report that the New South Wales loan of £13,000,000 which is about to mature will be converted at 4$ per cent. ? Has no attempt been made to force the overseas external bondholders to accept the same rate of interest as- was imposed upon the internal bondholders?
– The honorable member should appreciate the fact that although this Parliament has legislative power over the Australian people, it has no authority to enforce conditions upon the people of other countries. The Commonwealth Government is doing- everything within its power to convert the loan on the bea terms obtainable, and as soon as I am in a position to make an announcement regarding the result of the negotiations, I shall do so.
– I understand that the Government has by proclamation prohibited the importation of clear sheet glass, except with the consent of the Minister for Trade and Customs. I have received from Western Australia the following telegram: -
Thoroughly representative meeting of glass merchants in Western Australia, held to-day, decided enter emphatic protest against vacillating action of Federal Government in prohibiting entrance of sheet glass into Australia except with Minister’s consent, for following reason: - Firstly, sheet glass is urgently required.
– An honorable member is not permitted to adduce arguments when asking a question.
– In view of the great demand for glass, the high protection already afforded the local industry, and the promises made by Ministers last year, I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government will withdraw the prohibition, and allow glass to enter without the importer having first to obtain the consent of the Minister for Trade and Customs ?
– The matter is at the present time receiving the close attention of the Government, and action will be taken when a definite decision has been made. I cannot say more than that.
– We do not want prohibition.
– I cannot promise more than that the Government will carefully weigh all the relevant facts.
– Was the prohibition against the importation of sheet glass issued at the request of the company which imported large quantities of glass just prior to_the imposition of the prohibitive duty by the Scullin Government?
– I waa not in Aus tralia when the recent prohibition was issued, but I have no doubt that all the factors in the case were fully considered.
– Does the Government consider it wise to continue the embargo while the consideration that the Prime Minister has promised, is being given!
– The whole attitude of the Government will be decided very shortly, and the honorable member need not fear that much can take place before that decision is given.
– I understand that the Commonwealth Government has no control or responsibility in connexion with the expenditure of grants made to the States for the relief of unemployment. The inequitable use of these moneys has led to serious dissatisfaction in South Australia. I ask the Prime Minister whether, in the event of further grants being made to the States for this purpose, the Commonwealth will retain sufficient power over the disbursement to ensure that the terms of employment are fair, and equitable?
– When the agreement was made with the State Governments for this assistance to be granted by the Commonwealth, it was clearly laid clown that the conditions of employment in the States concerned would not be interfered with by the Commonwealth. All we did was to appoint two representatives on the State Council. Those representatives have to be satisfied with the nature of the work to be undertaken. We have not laid down any conditions as to employment in any State. There is no intention on the part of the Government at the present time to advance further sums to the States. When there is any such intention, the whole matter will be taken into consideration.
– In view of the information received by the Federal Government from various producers’ organizations throughout Australia respecting the export of breeding merino sheep, will the Minister now give this
House an assurance that the present prohibition against the exportation of stud sheep will be strictly maintained?
– It is not the intention of the Government to remove the prohibition. The request of the honorable member will receive consideration.
Statement bv Chief Judge.
– Has the attention of the Attorney-General been drawn to the following statement of the Chief Judge of the Arbitration Court in the case of the locomotive engine men who are applying for the restoration of awards in Victoria and South Australia, and the right to appear before the State Conciliation Committee in New South Wales : - “I think that legislation is coming to clear up the position and to confine the jurisdiction.” Does that statement indicate that the judge concerned is in touch with the Government as to what legislation it proposes to introduce; and is it a fitting statement for one in the position of the Chief Judge to make?
– I have not seen the report. It certainly cannot refer to any legislation at present in contemplation by the Commonwealth Government.
Test Cricket Matches
– In view of the fact that it will be impracticable to erect and make available the proposed regional broadcasting station in Tasmania in time for the relaying of the international test cricket matches, will the PostmasterGeneral ascertain what provision is being made to enable listeners in Tasmania to enjoy the same broadcasting services as are given in the other States, and will he take into favorable consideration the suggestion that the necessary arrangements be made whereby the B class station in Launceston? - 7LA - will pick up and re-broadcast such cricket descriptions from the A class mainland stations?
– I shall bring the question of the honorable member under the notice of the Broadcasting Commission, the members of which, I am sure, will do their best in the circumstances.
– Is it true that a number of flying companies have made an offer to the Commonwealth Government to institute a complete flying service throughout Australia, and to join up with” the DutchMail Service, at no cost to this Government. If so, has that proposal been considered ?
– Certain proposals have been made to the Government for the institution of an overseas flying mail service. These are at present being considered by an inter-departmental committee representing the departments concerned, and until the report of that committee is available, the Government will not be in a position to give consideration to the proposals.
– Last week I asked the ex-Minister for Commerce (Mr. Hawker) a question relating to certain eggs which the department had refused to allow to be exported, and I was promised that there should be an immediate investigation of the matter. This morning I received the following urgent telegram from the poultry dealers concerned at Ballarat : -
Position acutely serious eggs graded and passed for export by department inspectors Saturdayand Sunday at double-time rates rejected yesterday afternoon.
As this is a serious matter to the egg industry, will theMinister institute an immediate and searching inquiry into what has occurred.
– This matter has already been brought under my notice, and I have made some inquiries. The egg industry is an important and growing industry, and it therefore necessitates the utmost attention at the hands of the department. Two departmental experts are to attend at the store to see that the eggs are properly re-graded and packed, so that on arrival at the cool stores at Melbourne the eggs may be immediately shipped.
Mr.ROSEVEAR. - Is it correct that at an early date the Minister for Repatriation intends to make an inspection of the accommodation provided for returned soldiers at the Callan Park Mental Hospital and of the Eepatriation wards; if so, on what date is the proposed inspection to take place? If an inspection is to take place, will the Minister permit a delegation from the Leichhardt Branch of the Returned Soldiers League, which recently complained of the accommodation at this hospital, to accompany him on his inspection ?
– I have already made two inspections of the Callan Park Mental Hospital, particularly with reference to the accommodation provided there for returned soldiers. One of the causes of the trouble at the hospital is that a number of the returned soldiers there do not come under the Repatriation Act. The Government has agreed to make provision for the erection of a fourth building in the grounds of Callan Parkto assist the State to house these particular returned soldiers.
– Has the Minister’s attention been directed to a meeting of indignation which was held during the week-end by the citrus fruit-growers of Australia, protesting against the lifting of the embargo against the importation of citrus fruits? Has the honorable gentleman yet come to any decision on the matter?
– I have seen in the press some mention of the meeting to which the honorable member has referred. The matter is receiving the closest consideration.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral given further consideration to the establishment of different licensing fees for persons using crystal sets and others using valve sets? If so, what is the result?
– This matter has received careful consideration, but up to the present no satisfactory conclusion has been arrived at. So far as I can gather, it is not likely that there will be any alteration in the fees in the near future.
Mr.JAMES. - In view of the general reductions in income, and falling prices, has the Postmaster-General given consideration to a reduction of broadcasting listeners’ fees?
– Many requests have been received for a reduction of the fees charged for listening-in licences, but the Government has not yet found it possible to agree to the proposals. I think it but fair that, as the Broadcasting Commission was appointed only recently, it should be given every opportunity to function satisfactorily before its revenues are curtailed.
– Is the Government negotiating with a view to purchasing the trawler Tonkin in order to exploit new fishing areas?
– I suggest that the honorable member place his question on the notice-paper. So far as I know, the Government has no such intention.
– Has the Prime Minister had an opportunity to submit to Cabinet the petition from invalid and old-age pensioners of South Melbourne, which was forwarded to him through me?
– In accordance with the promise I made to the honorable member, the petition was submitted to Cabinet, which was unable to agree to the requests contained therein.
– Is it intended that upon the proclamation of the amended Financial Emergency Act, pensions will be paid at the rate of not more than 15s. a. week until those who are eligible to receive 17s.6d. a week satisfy the Commissioner in that regard? What steps will pensioners have to take to substantiate their claims for the rate of 17s.6d.? Upon pensioners establishing their rightto that rate, will the Government pay them arrears at the rate of 2s. 6d. a week.
– Upon the proclamation of the amending Financial Emergency Act, the rate of 17s. 6d. a week will continue to be paid to pensioners until the Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner has satisfied himself that a. reduction is warranted. I am given to understand by the department that the full rate will apply to80 per cent. of the pensioners. For the remainder, where at present the reduced rate is paid, the reduction of 2s. 6d. a week will apply. There will also be immediate reduction in the pensions paid to inmates of asylums and other institutions.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral advise when postal employees will receive the increments that have been due to them for from as far back as the 1st July last?
– Either by a letter or in reply to a question on notice, I have already advised the honorable member on this subject. Speaking from memory it is hoped that this matter will be adjusted by the end of the present month.
– I have not yet received any reply.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Bank Act -Regulations amended - StatutoryRules 1932, Nos.95. 96.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1932, No.99.
New Guinea Act - Ordinance of 1932 - No. 17 - Marking of Weight on heavy Packages.
Norfolk Island Act - Ordinance of 1932 - No.5 - Marking of Weight on heavy Packages.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1932, No. 07.
Debate resumed from the 16th September (vide page 597), on motion by Mr. Lyons -
That the billbe now read a second time.
Upon which Mr. Beasley had moved by way of amendment -
That all the words after “That” be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “ the billbe withdrawn and redrafted to provide that financial assistance shallbe for the sole purpose of relief of unemployment.”.
– I do not propose to traverse the argument of many speakers, that the fiscal policy of Australia warrants some consideration being given to South Australia in the form of a grant. That fact has already been recognized by three Commonwealth
Governments, two of which have made grants to South Australia as well as tq other States. It has been claimed that the difficulties under which my State labours are not all due to federation, or to the fiscal policy of the Commonwealth. With that I agree. A considerable proportion of South Australia’s disabilities is due to the physical conditions of its territory. In that State there are large areas of arid and semi-arid country, while the better-class land is scattered over a considerable mileage. Consequently, it costs more to develop the better grade land than would otherwise be the case. Of a total area of 380,000 square miles of country in South Australia, only 70,000 square miles enjoy a ° 10-inch rainfall per annum. A large tract of country with a poor rainfall has to be traversed by railways and roads. It will, therefore, be realized that the largeness of the amount expended in the past to establish facilities in South Australia was not entirely the result .of extravagant administration. From time to time governments have been compelled to provide water conservation facilities, no less a sum than £9,000,000 having been so expended outside the metropolitan urea. It is interesting to note that expenditure in Victoria for a similar purpose amounts to only £1,346,000, the better average rainfall and the more compact nature of the Victorian territory accounting for the difference. South Australia’s total indebtedness amounts to £161 per head of population, which is exceeded in the Commonwealth only by the State of Western Australia, with the figure £171 10s. 3d. It must be conceded that the development of the second-grade country in my State has conferred a benefit on Australia generally, for the knowledge gained by settlers in such difficult circumstances is of great value elsewhere when they migrate to other parts of Australia. In particular, South Australian settlers who have gone to Western Australia have been equipped with a great deal of experience which has been useful in their pioneering days in their new State. Then South Australia is engaged in agricultural research at the Waite Institute, which must be beneficial to the other States. This places her in a leading position in that regard.
Another reason why the payment of this grant is deserved is that South Australia has made an honest effort to pay her way. Until recently, at any rate, she held the unenviable record of being the highesttaxed State of Australia. In 1930-31; taxation per head of the population in South Australia amounted to £6 2s. 4d., while the average for all the States was £5 2s. 3d. It must, therefore, be admitted that South Australia has endeavoured, to the utmost of her capacity, to meet her commitments and to pay her way.
I wish to reply to the remarks of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), regarding the present South Australian Government. The statements of that honorable gentleman cannot be accepted as facts. As he brought forward no evidence in substantiation of his views, they can be regarded as expressions of his opinion only. The honorable member roundly condemned the Premier of South Australia for subscribing to the Premiers plan, which was sponsored by the last Commonwealth Government, which he himself supported. He said that, since the operation of this plan, a great deal of suffering has occurred in South Australia. As a matter of fact, the figures show conclusively that the suffering in that State, due to unemployment, has continuously and substantially decreased since the plan was put into operation. On the 30th June, 1931, when the plan was first adopted by the Commonwealth and State governments, the number of unemployed in South Australia was 33,053, and the amount spent weekly by the State in sustenance was £16,751. On the 1st September of that year, after the plan had been in actual operation only a few weeks, the number of unemployed had decreased by 500. On the 31st August, 1932, about fourteen months after the institution of the plan, the unemployment figures had dropped from 33,053 to 23,829, and the weekly expenditure in sustenance from £16,751 to £12,241. These figures flatly contradict the statement of the honorable member for Hindmarsh that suffering has increased in South Australia while the plan has been in operation. The saving to the State in sustenance expenditure on this basis would be in the neighbourhood of £250,000 a year as a result of the adoption of the plan. As further evidence of the beneficial effects of the plan, I am glad to be able to say that business has improved, and the general trend of South Australia ia towards prosperity. This is indicated by the increase that has occurred in motor registrations. I believe that, from June, 1930, to March, 1932, South Australia was the only State which showed an increase in motor registrations, her figures being 4,500 better at the end of that period than at the beginning of it. Another criterion by which the position can be judged is the infantile mortality. If the people were suffering more severely under the plan than formerly, it would be reasonable to assume that the infant mortality would be greater, but the figures show that, whereas in 1930 infant mortality was 48.38 per 1,000, in 1931 it was 36.35 per 1,000, or a reduction of twelve per 1,000. For these and other reasons, I submit that South Australia is better off under the plan than she was formerly. As she has done more to give full effect to the plan than any other State of the Commonwealth, South Australia deserves favorable consideration by this Parliament. She was the only State with a deficit lower than that allowed provided for in the plan, her actual figures being £1,074,000, whereas the plan would have allowed her a deficit of £1,500,000. As the State has made an honest effort to meet its commitments, and to give full effect to the provisions of the Premiers plan, I trust that South Australia will now receive sympathetic treatment from this Parliament, and that honorable .members generally will give this bill the support that it deserves.
.- The purpose of this bill is to make a special grant to South Australia, and it is submitted to honorable members in company with two other bills of a similar nature for the purpose of making grants to Western Australia and Tasmania. I shall support these measures. It is unfortunate that it is necessary to continue :the payment of .special grants to certain States, but I have had some experience at Premiers conferences and otherwise, which has obliged me to examine” carefully the relative positions of all the States of the Commonwealth, and I am satisfied that this Parliament is justified in making special grants to the States I have mentioned, in order to adjust their position in relation to the other States.
– Would the right honorable member continue these grants every year?
– I would treat each State each year according to the merits of its case. Obviously, the making of special grants to all the States on a proportionate basis would be an absurdity under existing conditions.
– Is the right honorable member favorable to the setting up of a permanent committee to make recommendations on this subject?
– It would be very much better if we could have more expert” advice on, and make a closer, examination of, the affairs of these States. I have seen the report of the commission which inquired into the disabilities of South Australia, and have read other expressions of opinion on the subject, but I have not been convinced that there is need for the setting up- of a permanent commission, with all the cost that that would involve. I do not think that a permanent commission would be able to provide us with more satisfactory or exact information on these subjects than we are able to obtain at present. What is needed is that a fairly accurate method shall be devised of meting out justice to States in necessitous circumstances. The Constitution provides that special grants may be made to the States, and that any assistance of a financial character may be given, if the Parliament considers it right. In the early years of the federation, three-fourths of the customs and excise revenue had to be paid by the Commonwealth to the States. After ten years, a per capita payment of 25s. was substituted for that paymentStill later-, .the per capita payment was superseded by the arrangements under the Financial Agreement. The grants which have been made to the States by the Commonwealth have not been confined to the three States with which this bill particularly deals.
The total payments by the Commonwealth Parliament to the States for the present financial year amount to £12,430,000, and all the States participate in that disbursement. It may be said that they so participated only under the Financial Agreement, but the payments under that agreement are a grant to the States from Commonwealth revenues. It may appear to honorable members to be anomalous that the Commonwealth Government, which has a deficit of its own, should be collecting revenues and handing them over to the States to enable them to meet their debts.
– Ridiculous !
– It is not so ridiculous, on examination, as the honorable member may imagine. When my Government was in office, it had to deal with this position. Possibly more Premiers Conferences were held during my term of office than at any other time, although I admit that the present Ministry has convened a good many. My Government came to the conclusion that the financial crisis in Australia must be faced, not. by divided, but by united, governments. It was necessary to survey the whole field, and to make adjustments to meet the situation as we found it. The arrangements made would have been of no value whatever if four of the six States had balanced their budgets, and the others had not done so. The whole benefit of budgetary equilibrium upon internal and external credit, would then have been lost.
At the conference held in Melbourne in August, 1930, the dire position of South Australia came under consideration. I trust that honorable members will consider this problem as Australians, and not as the representatives of particular States. South Australia had suffered a series of droughts extending over a period of at least four years. It is a State of vast area, and much of the country is of an arid nature. It has a big mileage of railways, and its prosperity depends mainly on the success of its primary industries. When those industries failed a few years ago, the position of South Australia became very difficult. I recall the years 1910, 1911, and 1912, when I sat behinda Commonwealthgovernment. The first claim for a special grant came from
Tasmania, because of its disabilities under federation, and the fact that regular grants have been made ever since, proves that the Parliament has considered that the claims of Tasmania deserve special consideration. I believe that Tasmania, South Australia, and Western Australia still have special claims against the Commonwealth for financial consideration, although the claim of Western Australia is somewhat weakened, because that State has not stood up to its obligations in the matter of taxation to the same extent as have Tasmania and South Australia.
– Western Australia proposes to impose further new taxation.
– I understand that that is so.I do not favour the imposition of increased taxation if it can be justly avoided ; I would rather reduce it. Although it. appears anomalous that the Commonwealth Government, with its own budget only just about balanced, should now be making grants to States - not only special grants, but also the payments provided for under the financial agreement, totalling £12,430,000 - I can see no other way by which the special disabilities of certain States can be properly adjusted. Under the Constitution there must be no discrimination between one State and another, or between parts of States, in the imposition of taxation. In endeavouring to balance the Commonwealth budget, we were faced first with a deficit of £10,750,000, and afterwards with the prospect of a deficit of £20,000,000, and it became necessary to tax the people practically up to the hilt. This imposed great hardship on the people of those States in which taxation had already been carried almost to the limit. I suppose that no other State is so heavily taxed as is South Australia. That State and Tasmania, considering their taxable capacity, are certainly the most heavily taxed in the Commonwealth. That fact had to be taken into consideration by the last Government. It was necessary to impose heavy taxation in order to adjust the financial position ; therefore, it was impossible for the Governments of South Australia and Tasmania to place further burdens by way of taxation upon the people of those States.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of the various States under federation? In my opinion, the amount of special taxation that is justified depends upon the benefits derived by individual States under the federal compact. Nobody will deny that under the policy adopted in Australia since federation - I refer to the removal of trade barriers between the States, which may not now impose their own customs laws and raise their own revenues from customs and excise - the eastern States have derived the greatest benefit.
– If there was any advantage.
– The honorable member for Swan will ride the freetrade horse until it falls under him. If no advantage accrues to the eastern States under the protective policy, his claim for special consideration for Western Australia falls to the ground. If Victoria and New South Wales, in particular, do not benefit by the federal policy, there is no good reason for making a special grant to Western Australia ; but I contend that, under the policy of protection, industries have grown up in the eastern States, and employment has been found for tens of thousands of men and women. That surely has been of decided advantage to the people of the more populous States. Queensland, without the same industrial development as New South Wales andVictoria, is so situated that it receives protection for its primary industries, and, therefore, it too, benefits more than the less populous States. This is a rough and ready method of adjusting the incidence of taxation and distributing the advantages and disadvantages under federation. It is not possible to assess those advantages and disadvantages in pounds, shillings and pence, but we might lay down certain principles which could be made the basis of a formula. I regret that that has not been done yet. If we could adopt certain principles for ascertaining the taxable capacity of the people, the amount of taxation to be imposed and the ability of a State to utilize fully the advantages which federation gives - there is scope for advance there - we might be able to arrive at some definite formula. Many of the alleged disabilities of States would disappear if they would take full advantage of their opportunities. During my visit to Western Australia in 1928, I visited the Albany woollen mill. Whilst the equipment is not the very latest, it is excellent, and the mill is efficiently operated and managed. I ascertained from the management that half of the output was marketed in the eastern States. As the output was not large, the fact that it was not wholly absorbed in Western Australia, did not speak well for local patriotism. Addressing a public meeting in Perth, I said that the output of the Albany mill was good enough for anybody, and that the people of Western Australia should be proud to buy local products. I believe that they have made some advance in that direction since. The great State of Western Australia will probably develop more rapidly than any other part of the Commonwealth, and local patriotism might be more profitably expressed in the encouragement of local industries, than in continual threats of secession. Nevertheless, Western Australia, like South Australia, has a claim upon the Commonwealth for assistance, and in a small way my Government endeavoured to recognize that apart from the special grants.
The honorable member for Grey (Mr. McBride) has stated that one reason why South Australia is entitled to a special grant is that it has implemented the Premiers plan to a greater extent than any other State. I do not. admit that. The reductionsof salaries and wages, and the curtailment of expenditure upon hospitals, education and social services generally were certainly most drastic, but they had been made before the Premiers plan was adopted. That fact is not to be held against the State, but the most important effect of the Premiers plan upon South Australia was the reduction of the rate of interest. The economies practised by the State ante-date the plan, and therefore the contention of the honorable member for Grey fails.
State revenues are ear-marked for special purposes, and have to cover a large field of industrial and social services. One of the new obligations of the State is the relief of unemployment; and although the help granted to the individual is very meagre, the aggregate liability is proving a very heavy burden. So great has been the strain on the finances of the States imposed by the growth of unemployment, that very little of the unemployment funds are available for the provision of work ; most of the money is expended on alleviating distress and saving people from starvation. The State revenues have also to provide salaries and wages in the general public service and governmental business undertakings, and pay for education, hospitals, charities, &c. Therefore, in making a special grant in aid of the consolidated revenue of a State, we should not impose any conditions, by way of instruction or restriction, as to the manner in which the money shall be applied.
I sympathize entirely with the object of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) who has moved an amendment to the motion for the second reading. Unemployment is the transcendent problem of the day; it is the biggest issue we have to face, and the amendment, by directing attention pointedly to it, will serve a useful purpose. Beyond that it will achieve nothing. The honorable member is justified in using every opportunity to focus attention upon this problem, and I would support the amendment if it would afford additional help to the unemployed in South Australia. But according to the State budget, the provision for unemployment in South Australia is £1,000,000. The grant proposed in this bill is a like amount. If, by passing this amendment,we instruct the State Government to employ the whole of this grant for the relief of unemployment, the necessitous people of South Australia will not derive the slightest additional advantage. Therefore, the amendment would be an unnecessary and ineffective interference, besides removing these special grants from their proper foundation. If we accepted the proposal that the special grant to a State mightbe earmarked for a particular purpose, there would be no reason why similar grants should not be made to every State, and the largest grants to the States having the greatest amount of unemployment. Adopting such a basis as the honorable member for West Sydney has suggested how could we make grants to three States and not to others. The true basis of these grants is the disability suffered by a State, and a change would be a mistake. The problem of unemployment must be considered on a basis much broader than a special grant to a State in difficulties. The carrying of this amendment might be interpreted to mean that the Commonwealth Parliament had no other means of relieving the unemployed than the withdrawing from necessitous States of the special grants in aid. I am not prepared to lift responsibility for unemployment relief from the Commonwealth Government. It has great opportunities for affording relief, which at the appropriate time I shall indicate. I suggest that the amendment, having served the useful purpose of drawing attention to the most tragic problem that confronts us, should be withdrawn.
I support the bills for the reasons 1 have given, and I hope that conditions in South Australia particularly will so improve that the State will not require to ask for so much assistance from the Commonwealth in future years. I was glad to hear the honorable member for Grey state that the prospects in that State are improving. It is likely to enjoy a good season, but we cannot think of reducingthe grant for that reason, because this will be South Australia’s first good season of five.
Mr.JOHNLAWSON (Macquarie) [4.0]. - The representatives of the States which will not participate in the proposed grants have adopted a generous and liberal attitude towards these measures. I too shall support them, but that support must not be construed to mean that I view with equanimity these annual grants. I do not dispute the existence of disabilities, nor the right of the needy States to some assistance from the Commonwealth, but I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin), that the present method of assessing the claims of the States is too rough and ready. I would view with alarm any tendency on the part of the Commonwealth to accept definite liability for the deficits of State Governments. Assuming for the time being that special grants to certain States are necessary. I regard this necessity as the most disquieting feature of the budget for the current year. These grants have no relation to the relative prosperity of the States concerned. The claims increase each year, and we may be fairly certain that whatever amount we grant this year, even more assistance will be sought in future years. The prospect before us is one of constantly ascending claims.
– Because the cause is not removed.
– Any honorable member who has the financial welfare of the Commonwealth at heart must view with concern the largeness of the amount of money that has been granted by the Commonwealth in recent years. The total grants have been- 1929-30, £910,000; 1930-31, £720,000; 1931-32, £1,550,000; and 1932-33, proposed, £1,180,000. Whereas under the Premiers plan all other forms of expenditure have been cut, tb? plan has been disregarded so far as it might affect the amounts of money to be made available to necessitous States.
– Amend the Navigation Act.
– I am about to suggest that we should give attention to the causes of disabilities rather than try to palliate the effects. If the causes be removed, these annual grants in aid will not be necessary. I have been somewhat amazed at the statements of various enthusiasts who represent the States which are to receive these grants. The range of reasons or excuses given for the necessity of these grants is really astonishing. First of all, the representatives of Western Australia claim a grant for that State because it has a vast area which is sparsely populated, and is situated at a great distance from the Eastern States, which are the manufacturing centres. The representatives of Tasmania claim a grant for that State because it is small, and in an insular position. They say that notwithstanding its close proximity to the mainland, most of the secondary industries are carried on by the Eastern States. So that, the reason given for the grant is in one case, that the State concerned has a vast territory, and in another case that the State concerned has a small territory. It is contended on the one hand that the vastness of Western
Australia increases the cost of its administration, and on the other hand, that the smallness and insularity of Tasmania increases its cost of administration. In view of the various reasons put forward by the representatives of the States concerned, the Common-wealth Government must obtain the best information as to just what are the genuine disabilities of these States, and the extent to which the Commonwealth is responsible for affording them relief. It has also been stated that the Navigation Act is a distinct disability to some of the States, and I quite agree with that conclusion. We have also the amusing suggestion that, because Tasmania has suffered considerably because of the establishment of a lottery in New South Wales, the Commonwealth Government should come to its assistance. We have been told by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Guy) that Tasmania should receive assistance because it does not grow sufficient wheat for its own requirements, and is therefore unable to participate in the wheat bounty. A reason given for the grant by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) is that South Australia -has suffered a series of severe droughts, and also a considerable decline in the value of its exports. He also stated that that. State has suffered from the administration of the most tragic treasurer of recent times. We have before us, just about as motley an array of excuses and reasons for the making of a grant as one could well imagine. I do not question for one moment the good intentions of honorable members who have given these reasons, but I think that it will be agreed that at any rate, some of them are frivolous, and others have no bearing whatever on the liability of the Commonwealth Government to assist the States. The” smaller States could themselves,, in my opinion, do a great deal more to help themselves than they are doing at present. In support of this, let me quote, as the honorable member for Bass did, from a report of Sir Nicholas Lockyer. The honorable member for Bass, in his enthusiasm, quoted certain statements of this expert, which, he said, strongly supported his claim on behalf of Tasmania; but quite inadvertently, I suggest, the honorable memberoverlooked certain other statements of Sir Nicholas Lockyer which certainly do not redound to the credit of Tasmania, or strengthen in any way the claim made by its protagonists in this case. The report reads:
The Commonwealth Government appointed Sir Nicholas Lockyer to investigate the claims made.His report indicated that there had been a general financial slackness in the administration of Tasmania’s internal affairs. He arrived at the conclusion that there had been inefficiency and consequent lack of development in connection with primary industries, especially agricultural and pastoral pursuits, andquoted evidence that much of the depression in such industries was due to soil exhaustion. He reprobated pessimism on the part of leaders of Tasmanian opinion, and suggested many directions in which reforms to increase production and improve efficiency mightbe introduced. He made certain recommendations of a financial nature which, in the majority of instances, involvedCommonwealth supervision over Tasmanian administration and finance.
– What is the year of that report?
– 1926. The Commonwealth Government, commenting on the report, said -
The Commonwealth Government has now carefully examined the case presented by Tasmania, and the report by Sir Nicholas Lockyer. As stated above, it has been claimed on behalf of Tasmania that the State is subject to special disabilities arising from federation. The Government has considered the matter carefully, but has come to the conclusion that the disabilities suggested have not been shown by evidence to produce, on a balance of account, any definite damage measurable in terms of money that Tasmania’s present position is largely dun to internal rather than to external causes, and that these disabilities are in a great measure remediable by local effort. It is satisfied from its general examination that the leaders of public opinion in Tasmania are unduly pessimistic in their outlook and utterances.It seems clear that the natural advantages of Tasmania - its climate, its soils, its mineral resources and water power - present opportunities for a progressive developmental policy.
That statement gives some indication of the necessity for examining closely the claims put forward by honorable members who are desirous of obtaining grants for the States that they represent. It is necessary to stress the fact that we are asked to make a grant, not a loan, to the States. Were we making a loan, we could view this measure with a larger measure of equanimity than is possible under existing circumstances. I stress strongly the point made by Sir Nicholas Lockyer that a large number of disabilities that have been harped upon by representatives of these States could be remedied by local effort. I would point out further that the mere recital of a number of disabilities does not, in itself, necessarily establish a case for assistance by the Commonwealth Government, and that the representatives of the States which are to benefit under this measure have confined themselves to a recital of disabilities rather than given reasons why the Commonwealth Government should grant the assistance asked for. The honorable member for Bass has stated that one reason why Tasmania should receive assistance is that it is not benefiting from the wheat bounty which is being granted to wheat-growers in other parts of Australia. From the accounts that the wheat-growers of Australia have given me, I should think that the failure on the part of the Tasmanian wheat-growers to qualify for the bounty is an evidence of their native shrewdness, because I have been authoritatively informed that wheat is being grown at a considerable loss. If that is so, Tasmania has gained a definite advantage over the other States because of its neglect to grow a sufficient quantity of wheat for its requirements, and of its consequent failure to participate in the wheat bounty, and because it has been able to purchase wheat at a price much lower than the cost of production. But I suggest that if Tasmania is really desirous of benefiting from the wheat bounty it should grow more wheat. I understand that it is an extremely fertile island, and there is no reason why Tasmania should not benefit under the Wheat, Bounty Act. Another reason given by the honorable member for Bass for the need of assisting Tasmania, is that the revenue derived from the State lottery has considerably decreased. I submit that the Commonwealth Government is under no obligation to make good any loss of lottery revenue. That is one claim which we can definitely classify as frivolous. Another claim made by, I think, all the representative States concerned is that because of the unequal competition with the eastern States, which have established secondary industries, they should receive consideration at the bauds of the Commonwealth Government. I should say that all the States have had equal opportunities to establish secondary industries. If some of the States have failed to establish secondary industries it must have been due to lack of enterprise or of natural resources. Why should the eastern States be penalized because they happen to be richer than the others in natural resources? I do not think that any one can substantiate a claim for assistance on the ground of lack of natural resources or of geographical disability.
– Why penalize the grower in Western Australia who is compelled to buy his goods from the eastern States?
– He is not penalized any more than the wheatgrower or wool-grower in New South Wales.
– I thought that we were all Australians.
– If this sort of thing continues, the Commonwealth Government will develop into an alms house for the benefit of indigent States. No Australian who is worthy of the name, could view such a possibility with equanimity. The honorable member for Hindmarsh said that South Australia had suffered, during the last two or three years because of the administration of what he termed the most tragic treasurer that that State had had in recent times.
– He should be ashamed to have made such a statement.
– I should say that the statement is not wholly true; but the mere fact that a State is suffering from maladministration does not entitle it to assistance from the Commonwealth Government.
– The Commonwealth came to the assistance of New South Wales.
– With a loan, not’ a grant. If the contention that maladministration and faulty finance , by premiers and treasurers constitutes a reason why the Commonwealth Government should contribute to States in the form of grants, New South Wales has better claims to relief than any other
State, because its history of the past couple of years presents the most classic example of tragedy in governmental finance.
– Those wore not disabilities due to federation.
– This bill does not contain any reference to disabilities suffered by South Australia under federation. I am dealing with the argument of a representative of South Australia that, for a period of years, his State suffered from maladministration and faulty finance.
The only disabilities which justify the making of these grants are those resulting from the operation of the Navigation Act and the tariff. If, as has been claimed by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) and others, the Navigation Act represents such a tremendous burden to the lesser States, the obvious thing is not to condone the disability and buy off the States which suffer with a bribe, iu the form pf grants, but to attack the cause at the root and amend the Navigation Act. Similar remarks apply to the operation of the tariff. The tariff militates, not only against Western Australia and South Australia, but also against every other State. I claim that wool-growers and wheat-growers in the remote parts of New South Wales and Queensland suffer as great disabilities because of the operation of the tariff as do any primary producers in Western Australia, South Australia, and Tasmania. The remedy is to revise the tariff and give general relief, not to make its operation an excuse for compensation at the cost of other States. The fact that the operation of the tariff is bearing heavily, not only on primary producers, but on !il] sections of the community, is evidenced by a letter which I received a short time ago from the secretary of the Western Miners Federation, Lithgow. It contained a bitter complaint that the prices charged for miners’ picks and other similar implements were so high that they were an oppressive burden on those concerned, and appealed to me to endeavour to effect a reduction of the tariff to afford them relief in this respect.
In substantiation of the claim that the people of New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria are just as much entitled to relief from tariff disabilities as are the people of the other States, I shall refer to the employment figures for the rural industries of different States. The prosperity or retrogression of an industry can be determined fairly accurately by the employment that it affords. The following table reveals that the rural industries of New South ‘Wales and Queensland have suffered a definite retrogression during the past twenty years, while these industries in Western Australia have continuously improved their position during the same period: -
In the case of Western Australia, there is an increase of 13,625, while in that of New South Wales there has been a decrease of approximately 18,000. Whereas Western Australia offers an outstanding example of rural development during this period, the position of South Australia and Tasmania discloses that the rural industry in those States has not retrogressed to the same extent as in New South Wales.
– Has the honorable member the corresponding figures for secondary industries?
– No, I am dealing more particularly with rural industries, because the representatives of the claimant States declare that those industries particularly have been crippled in Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania as a result of the operation of the tariff. If the tariff is regarded as a disability which ought to be removed, the relief should apply to the people of all States, rather than to those of two or three only. It has been suggested that the position could be rectified by granting a bounty on all exports; but most honorable members will admit that that is impracticable, and would, if carried into effect, merely create a most expensive form of freetrade. An alternative is to lower the tariff wall to adjust the price parity of wholesale and retail goods throughout Australia. I hope that, the
Ottawa agreement will make a valuable and material contribution to the revision of our tariff, to the benefit of the people of Australia generally.
The disabilities of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania could largely be cured if those States ceased to overstep their financial limitations, in an attempt to follow too rapidly the developmental achievements of more richly endowed States. They should emulate the example of the eastern States, and cut their garments according to the cloth available. They should make greater efforts to cheapen and simplify their administration. That suggestion might well be adopted by all governments, State and Commonwealth alike. I seriously submit that immense economies should be effected by reducing the cost of government, even if that means eliminating State Parliaments.
– This series of bills proposes grants of £1,000,000 to South Australia, £500,000 to Western Australia, and £300,000 to Tasmania. It is suggested that the object of the grants is to counteract some of the difficulties suffered by those States under federation. Not one of the speakers who has submitted the case of those States has been able to show that such disabilities exist. Some honorable members have attributed the cause to the physical disadvantages of the State concerned, others to the difficulty experienced in establishing industries, others, again, to drought, and so on. Candidly, I believe that those disadvantages would still exist if the States concerned hadnot entered federation, and, that being so, while I have every sympathy with these States, I do not agree that a grant contributed by other States is an equitable form of compensation. Some of the disabilities referred to are common to all States. It has been stated that South Australia has suffered particularly from droughts. I remind honorable members that those droughts occurred in the past, whereas Queensland is still in the throes of one of these calamitous visitations, to the great concern of the primary producers of my State. Yet, it is proposed that those unfortunate people should contribute their quota of this grant of £1,000,000 to the people of South
Australia, a State not at present afflicted with a drought. Is it just that our Queensland people should be required to contribute towards the cost of the government of States the people of which are not being required to pay such heavy taxation? I sympathize with the desire of this Government to build up the resources of every State, but I do not believe that it can be done by the payment of doles to State governments from the Commonwealth Treasury. Any such assistance should be of a permanent and useful character. It would be far better for the Government to make provision for the payment of direct assistance to the primary producers to enable them to become prosperous settlers than to provide State- governments with revenue to finance their affairs. Give the grant to primary producers by reducing their debts or their interest payments, or by a subsidy on exports, and they will create prosperity in every State. As the Government is endeavouring to improve its financial position by reducing payments to old-age pensioners, it should not propose to mate heavy grants to State governments without advancing any justification for doing so. If it wishes to assist in the building up of the different States, let it provide assistance for wheat-growers, maize-growers, ‘ wool and butter producers
– And sugar-growers.
– And tobacco-producers.
– Let it support directly those engaged in all useful primary production. I am not prepared to support this system of making grants in aid of so-called necessitous States. It is unfair that the people of Queensland, who are being robbed of £1,500,000 through the breaking of the sugar agreement, should be asked to pay out their hard cash to assist States which are not doing the fair thing for themselves. It is well known that taxation per capita is very much heavier in ‘Queensland and some other “States than in some of the States which are asking for assistance from the Commonwealth. Western Australia is the chief offender in this respect. If the Government desires to grant assistance to any State, let it do so by way of subsidies on export, and not by way of doles to State governments, which are of no value .whatever to the primary producers. The most valuable thing that the Commonwealth ‘Government can do for the States which are now seeking assistance is to help their primary producers.
It has been said that Western Australia has obtained no benefit from federation ; but last year it participated in the payment of a bounty of more than £3,250,000 on wheat for export. It has also reaped great benefit from the building of the transcontinental railway, which cost Australia £6,620,000, and on the running of which the general taxpayers of the Commonwealth have to meet a heavy loss every year. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), and other Western Australian representatives, must accept their share of responsibility for the building of the Federal Capital; but they want to withdraw from the federation, and allow the rest of the people to carry the burden. According to the budget figures, the Federal Capital has cost the nation about £7,250,000, although other statements have been made to the effect that the cost of it has been much greater rhan that.
– Western Australia is quite ready to take her share of the expenditure incurred since federation.
– And yet we are told that she cannot help herself. We know very “well that Western Australia receives her share of the benefit of all sinking fund payments to States made by the Commonwealth amounting to £7,500,000 per annum, and she also enjoys the protection which our defence expenditure affords the country. She has also, with the other States, benefited from our expenditure on migration, and has bad her share of the millions provided for road work, for war service homes, and other public undertakings. With the other States, she participated in the building up of a war debt of £3’20,000,000, but now she wants to drop out of the federation, and leave the burden of this debt for the other States to carry. Western Australia has enjoyed her share of the Denefits from the expenditure of £28,750,000 by the Commonwealth on land and buildings for Commonwealth purposes. But, in spite of all these things, we are still asked to believe that she has enjoyed no benefits from federation.
It is amazing that the claim has been advanced by some honorable members that the grants nowproposed for various States are only half what they are entitled to ask.
– Less than half, in the case ofWestern Australia.
– Honorable members who tell morbid stories in the so-called interests of their State are really calamity howlers of the worst type. If we believed them we should, by passing these bills, throw good money after bad. Unfortunately, Western Australia will not encourage industry. If any one attempts to establish a secondary industry in that State active steps are taken to discourage him. When some Queensland banana growers requested assistance from Western Australia to establish the banana industry there, they were threatened with the introduction ofcheap bananas from Java. Many enterprising people are hounded out of the State. If Western Australia would do something to develop secondary and primary industries in a general way and so build up a local market, instead of devoting all its attention to wheat and wool production, she would not. need assistance of the kind now proposed. But, unfortunately, small producers are not encouraged. The powers-that-be in Western Australia want to hold the vast territory under their control merely for wool and wheat production. If the governments of the other States had adopted a similar policy, Australia’s local market would be in a deplorable position to-day. The calamity bowlers who are advocating the passing of this bill have not advanced a single substantial argument in favour of their views. The fact isthat the disabilities of Western Australia have not been caused by federation, but are home made. If the administration of that State would encourage developmental projects, the State would be in a far better position.
– What could the people produce ?
– They could follow the example of the people of the other States. Let settlers begiven reasonable encouragement, and they will become producers of marketable commodities. It is ridiculous for a government to rest on its oars and expect the Commonwealth to look after it.
– The people of Western Australia produce more per head of the population, in primary industries, than those of any other State.
– Order ! The honorable member for Kalgoorlie is not sitting within the chamber.
– We know very well that the production of Western Australia in wool and wheat is valuable; but those are not the only industries which can be developed in Australia.
– If it were not for our wool and wheat we could not buy Queensland sugar.
– The honorable member would like to buy cheap sugar grown in countries where coloured labour is employed. We are never told that Western Australia is two weeks nearer the British market than Queensland, and that this is a great advantage. It is not fair to call upon the people of Queensland, at any rate, to contribute to the payment of these grants.
I have prepared some figures in relation to taxation which are most interesting. The following table shows the relative positions of Queensland and Western Australia in regard to the taxation of incomes from personal exertion : -
In these circumstances is it equitable to call upon the heavily taxed people of Queensland to assist the lightly taxed community of Western Australia? If the Western Australian Government would impose taxation comparable with that imposed by the Queensland Government, its position would be infinitely better than it is. The following table shows the relative positions of Queensland and Western Australia in regard to the taxation of incomes from property: -
It will be soon, therefore, that if Western Australia is in an unsatisfactory financial position, it is because her people do not carry the burden of taxation that is carried by those of the other States. As a matter of fact they are loafing on their job. The resources of Western Australia are great, and if the State Government adopted a reasonably progressive developmental policy the State would have no great difficulties. Honorable members who support this bill ask that the States of South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia shall receive a dole from the remaining States even at the cost of the old-age pensioners. The claim has been advanced on behalf of South Australia, that Queensland has had the benefit of bounty payments under federation. But during the seven years ended the 30th June, 1929, the sums granted to various States for the assistance of their industries were as follow: -
Those figures show that South Australia, during that period, received much more assistance than Queensland, and even more than Victoria.
The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) has referred to the debt position, and other honorable members have spoken regarding the public debts of their respective States. The honorable member for Grey (Mr. McBride) presented one of the best collection of arguments so far advanced in support of South Australia’s claim, but he failed to prove the existence of any disability attributable to federation. The people of South Australia have my greatest sympathy. They have put up a great fight in their attempt to restore pros perity, and to balancetheir budget. But I suggest that it would be preferable to assist the wheat-growers of Australia to wipe out some of their individual indebtedness, and in that way the budgetary position could be remedied. The following table gives the total debt per head of the population in each of the States : -
Those figures principally represent debts incurred in the construction of railways and in land settlement. I hope that honorable members will not be guided by the arguments advanced in support of this bill without analysing the facts. The people of Queensland pay £5 15s. 4d. per head by way of taxation, while Western Australia contributes only £3 12s. 6d. per head of the population.
– What about the taxable capacity of the individual States?
– The taxable capacity of an individual in any State should be the same on any given amount of income. By what means are we to estimate the monetary equivalent of State disabilities? South Australia has asked for £2,000,000, and it is proposed to grant her £1,000,000. Western Australia wants three times that sum.
– And that amount would be but a palliative.
Mr.BERNARD CORSER. - We should go to the root of the trouble, and give the millions of assistance to the primary producer. By putting the men on the land in an improved position the States would benefit in numerous ways.
– Would the honorable member lower the tariff?
– Most decidedly, where it unfairly affects the primary producers. Tasmania has the same representation in the Senate as every other State, despite the smallness of its population. Therefore, it has received preferential treatment under federation. The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) comes from that State, and that is further proof of. the generous terms available to Tasmania as a partner in the federation. The Commonwealth has been generous to that State, and I am willing to do all I can to assist its primary producers.
– Tasmania should he able to buy cheaper sugar.
- Her fruit-growers receive a grant from the sugar industry. If the proposal recently submitted in this House by the honorable member for Swan were adopted, I believe that Western Australia would be prepared to form a federation with Java, so that it could obtain blackgrown sugar. If that honorable member could wipe out white labour on ‘!.c Queensland sugar fields, he would hu pleased. While the eastern States are developing those industries which are natural to their climates, Western Australia holds back, and, on bended knee, asks this House for a dole that would mean the robbing of the old-age pensioners.
I realize that primary producers in South Australia have experienced difficult times, but this bill will not solve their problem. That State has reaped great benefits from federation. The Commonwealth has spent over £4,000,000 in carrying out constructional works in Northern and Central Australia. Since the control of the Northern Territory was transferred to the Commonwealth, it has cost the Commonwealth £10,000,000. The fact that South Australia has been relieved of the heavy cost of administration in that territory should be taken into consideration in connexion with the request of a dole of £2,000,000.
– The transfer of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth was agreed to when federation was established.
– Quite so, and South Australia benefited from the arrangement that was made. That was the bargain which it forced upon the Commonwealth. It desired to get rid of the costly Northern Territory. The Commonwealth was also called upon to construct, at a cost of nearly £7,000,000, the great east-west railway.
– For the convenience of the commercial travellers from the eastern States.
– If that railway were not constructed for. a good purpose, why did Western Australia demand that it should be built, as a condition of that State’s participation in federation? If we subsidized exports, greater benefit would be obtained by the States than by means of direct grants such as are. proposed under this bill. The States from which the proposed grants would have to be raised are taxed more heavily than are the people of Western Australia.
.- I did not intend to speak on this measure, and, therefore, I had not prepared a speech ; but I have risen because of the remarks that have fallen from the last two speakers, who have east reflections on the people of Tasmania, one of whose representatives I have the honour to be. The attitude of Tasmania to the federation is one of good fellowship; but such remarks as those of the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) do not encourage that feeling. He spoke disparagingly of the ability of the people of my State ; yet I claim that Tasmanians can carry on their industries as efficiently as the people of any other part of the Commonwealth. I refer to such activities as our great woollen industries, which are second to none in Australia. Those industries are not asking for the high tariffs for which industries on the mainland of Australia are clamouring. When the position of the tobacco industry was under discussion in this House, the tobaccogrowers of Tasmania considered that they could produce that commodity with a duty of 3s. 6d. per lb. I also remind honorable members that Tasmania’s great hydro-electric scheme is second to none in the Commonwealth. I am sure that Victorian members would be glad if the electrical undertaking in their State were managed as efficiently and economically.
– Why then does Tasmania need a grant?
– I have frequently heard the honorable member’s colleagues say “ render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” The tariff is pressing veryhard upon the States of Tasmania, South Australia, and Western Australia, and if they had not to buy from the more highly industrialized eastern States more than they are able to sell to them the necessity for these special grants would not arise. Tasmania, for instance, buys annually from Victoria goods of a value at least £2,000,000 in excess of the value of the products it sells to that State. The primary-producing States are being forced to buy in the dearest market and to sell in the cheapest.
Communications are the arteries of a community; if they are interfered with a community cannot be economically healthy. The difficulties of internal and external communication in Tasmania are amongst its greatest disabilities. In order to reach the fertile valleys, roads have to be constructed through mountains, and over long stretches of comparatively poor country. Because of the natural difficulties, the expenditure on roads in Tasmania has been £12 per capita as compared with £5 per capita on the mainland. The Navigation Act seriously interferes with the State’s external communications; because of its isolation Tasmania has been penalized by this legislation more than any other State. We have heard much talk about the need for economy in government, but in that respect neither the Commonwealth nor the State of New South Wales can be regarded as setting an example to the States that are to receive these grants. Remarks such as were made by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) do not help to improve the relations of States. As the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, the Constitution includes provision for the establishment of a commission to report upon the disabilities of States with a view to their adjustment, and it is high time that action to that end was taken.
– We have too many inquiries.
– Inquiry into the disabilities of States is very necessary if a definite system of relief is to be evolved. Members representing necessitous States should not be subjected to the humiliation of hearing statements such as have been made to-day. The representatives of Western Australia have declared that their people will insist upon seceding from the federation if their injustices are not redressed. The continuance of irritation is an indication of bad government, and this Parliament should address itself immediately to the removal of the causes of irritation.
– I did not attack the people of Tasmania, but I criticized the contentions of some honorable members.
– That explanation does not exonerate the honorable member. He made statements against the people of Tasmania which any honest citizen must resent. In respect of efficiency and industry the people of that State are second to none in the Commonwealth, and I remind the House that the successful tenderer for the construction of the railway to Alice Springs was a Tasmanian syndicate, and that the contract was one of the most efficient that has been carried out for the Commonwealth. In supporting the proposed grant to my State, I hope that, a more scientific method of adjusting disabilities will be devised so that these annual appeals for relief will be obviated.
.- I have never previously opposed a grant to a necessitous State, but, like the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson), I want to know whether this form of assistance is to continue indefinitely. When the first grant was made to Tasmania, no objection was offered by any honorable member. Later, Western Australia appealed to the Commonwealth for help, and when the first grant was made to that State it was the only one in the Commonwealth which showed a surplus on the year’s financial operations. These grants are being paid by the people of the larger States whose disabilities are as great as those of the States asking for relief. This Parliament should readjust the political scheme with a view to making financial and economic conditions more nearly equitable for all the partners of the federation.
– Does the honorable member propose the creation of new States?
– No; all that is needed is one Parliament and the delegation of certain powers -to provincial councils. It is indisputable that the States which will provide this money are just as necessitous as the States which will receive it.
These annual grants have become a regular institution, and certain States are now as dependent upon them as individuals are on the dole. I hope that this Government will tackle the bigger problem of financial readjustment to obviate the indefinite continuance of this form of assistance.
.- 1 was gratified to hear the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin), a stalwart high protectionist, admit that while the policy of high protection confers certain benefits on secondary industries, located principally in the eastern States, it imposes corresponding disabilities on other States whose secondary industries are nol; so well developed.
– I said that the advantages of protection are much greater in the eastern States, and, of course, the other States have to pay extra taxation.
– The right honorable gentleman’s explanation merely confirms my statement. We are asked to vote £1,000,000 to South Australia, £500,000 to Western Australia, and £330,000 to Tasmania. The annually recurring necessity to make grants from the Commonwealth Treasury in order to enable the weaker States to carry on, draws attention to the inequality of the opportunity presented to the various parts of Australia to reap advantages from federation. Some representatives of the eastern States not only object to these proposed payments, but actually refer to the States to be benefited as mendicants. Such a term carries an undeserved stigma, and I, as a Victorian, deprecate its use. I have a great deal of sympathy with those States which are dependent- mainly on their export trade, and have not the opportunity which the eastern States have to sell a large proportion of their goods in a market sheltered by the tariff. It is true that the three wealthier States are required, as Commonwealth units, to provide the major portion of this direct assistance which is proposed to be given to the three weaker States, but the fact should not be forgotten by the representatives of New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland that these greater States levy toll upon their weaker sisters in other ways. The grants now proposed are but a partial refund by the wealthier States of favours already received. New South Wales and Victoria, for example, are the great manufacturing States,- and the Commonwealth’s policy of high protection has given to them, as the Leader of the Opposition admitted, sheltered markets for a large proportion of their production. The whole of Australia pays to these manufacturers and their employees a. generous subsidy, in the form of the increased prices which they are able to obtain by reason of the tariff policy, and undoubtedly those increased prices have added to the cost of pioneering and developing the other States. The two highly-industrialized States secure for themselves the lion’s share of the benefits which the tariff bestows on secondary industry. There are some who question whether high protection bestows any benefit on States as such ; I am referring to the benefit which it bestows on the manufacturing industries. Not only are the eastern States the recipients of most of the advantages which the tariff gives to secondary production, but New -South Wales particularly has received direct grants from the Commonwealth. For instance, the Commonwealth Year-Book shows that, the iron and steel industry and the sulphur industry, both located in New South Wales, have received during the last eight years the following grants :- 1922-23, £43,000 : 1923-24, £169,000; 1924-25, £254,000; 1925-26, £281,000;- 1926-27, £291,000; 1927-28, £30.1,000; 1928-29, £358,000, and 1929-30, £315,000, a total of £2,012,000.
It seems to me that there is just as much reason for describing a State which accepts a bounty of that kind, as a mendicant, as there is for similarly describing the three States which are to receive the grant proposed under this and the associated bills. Queensland is a primary producing State which 1ms almost a monopoly of the producMon of sugar. It obtains a subsidy from the rest of the States in the form of the higher price which it is possible to obtain for that commodity because of the absolute embargo on the importation of sugar. It would be quite improper for me, at this stage, to debate the reasonableness of the protection given to this particular industry. But, Queensland is undoubtedly in a position to extract a subsidy from the other States, because of the protection of the sugar industry by the absolute embargoon the importation of sugar. Some of the States are receiving special benefits in one way and some in another; some by means of direct grants as proposed in this bill, and others less directly. But the direct grant is not less respectable than the indirect grant. No State in Australia could really afford to adopt a superior and critical attitude in connexion with these grants. Each State is leaning to some extent on the other States, and if some States lean more heavily than others, they are the manufacturing States. I am reminded of the verse which runs -
There isso much good in the worst of us,
And so much bad in the best of us,
That it ill becomes any one of us
To talk about the rest of us.
No State can really claim to have its hands perfectly white if the whiteness of its hands is to be measured by its refusal of assistance of all kinds. It has been said this afternoon that it is somewhat difficult to point to the specific disabilities under whichWestern Australia, South Australia, or Tasmania, labour. The inequality of opportunity to benefit from federation is well exemplified by certain figures which were quoted the other day by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory). He pointed out that the value of the exports of Western Australia was no less than £37 per head of population. Some might regard that as a sign of great prosperity in that State, and would attach no other importance to it. The honorable member went on to say that the average value of exports per head from the whole of the States of Australia was £16. If that average of £16 takes account, as of course it does, of the £37 per head in Western Australia, it is obvious that the exports of the manufacturing States in the east are valued at less than £16 per head, being approximately £14 or £15 per head. The value of the total production of primary products and of manufactured goods in Australia at the present time, is rather more than £300,000,000, and the value of the total production per head of population of all goods exported and consumed in Australia is about £50. Assuming that approximately the same position obtains in all the States with respect to the value per head of total production, whether exported or sold internally, and that roughly £50 per head of population is the value of the production of all commodities, in the whole of the States, we find that three-quarters of the total production of Western Australia has to face keen competition overseas, and that only onequarter of its total production has the benefit of the sheltered market. We have also to consider that many commodities are sold in that sheltered market at export parity rates. The position, however, in regard to the eastern States is practically reversed, because three-quarters of their total production is sold within the sheltered market, while only one-quarter is exported overseas to meet the intense competition of other nations. In discussing this bill, we cannot shut our eyes to the economics of these figures. It illbecomes the representatives of States in a position to benefit by protected prices at the expense of other States which are not so advantageously placed, to cavil at the grants which are proposed under this bill.
Western Australia not only pays more for many of its manufactured goods because of our tariff policy, but it also has to bear a substantial added cost because of another policy of the Commonwealth, the Navigation Act. The operation of that legislation adds enormously to the freight charges incurred by Western Australia. We have been told recently in this House that Tasmania has to pay for the carriage of timber from Tasmania to Melbourne or Adelaide, more than it costs to freight Baltic timber from Europe to Australia. The other night, the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin) remarked, by interjection, that the cost of exporting spelter from Tasmania to Sydney, was greater than the cost of exporting it to Europe. The Navigation Act imposes a tremendous tax on transport in regard to certain States, and the tax imposed on Western Australia is probably the greatest of all, because of its geographical position. This grant may be a crude and clumsy way of partially recompensing some of the States for the disabilities under which they are suffering. We have to get to the root cause of their disabilities. If we could bring about a change in the cost of manufacturing and transportation of goods which would enable Western Australia, South Australia, and Tasmania to buy their requirements from t,he eastern States at a price comparing favorably with the price at which they could import from elsewhere were it not. for the tariff, I believe that these grants would no longer be necessary, but until this House is able to devise some kind of acceptable formula to take the place of the rather haphazard way in which these sums are paid to the different States, and until we do something to remove actually the disabilities of the weaker States, I can see no alternative to the payment from time to time of such grants as those States require to enable thom to balance their budgets.
.- I am opposed to these proposed grants to the weaker States, because the time has arrived for us to show clearly to the people of Australia that the intention of federation was to curtail the expensive system of administration operating in the various State’s. It was never intended that the State Parliaments should function as before with a Commonwealth Parliament superimposed on them. Honorable members who represent the weaker States have claimed that the disabilities of those States are due to federation. They say that one of their principal disabilities is our tariff policy, under which the smaller States who have few, or no secondary industries, are at a disadvantage compared with the larger States, which have established secondary industries. No section of the community in Australia should gain a benefit at the expense of another. Australia should be without State boundaries, and, when federation took place, I, and many other people expected that State boundaries would be disregarded altogether. We are one people, and we should have one outlook in the interests of the whole of the people. It would be a sorry day for Australia if we adopted the suggestions of some members, particularly of the Country party. They have no respect for the industries of this country; all they desire is to obtain their manufactured goods from overseas, irrespective of the conditions under which they have been produced. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson), quoted figures showing the bounties that had been paid to various industries, and he referred particularly to the secondary industries in the eastern States, which are the largely populated States. He said that the smaller States contribute to the upkeep of the larger States. South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania have populations of 500.000, 450,000, and 200,000 respectively, which represent about one-sixth of the total population of Australia. Those figures show that tinsmaller States contribute little to the upkeep of the larger States. We cannot justify these grants during this financial year, because they can be made only at the expense of a section of the community which can ill afford to bear any additional burden. It may be said that the money is not. coming direct from that section, but if the contemplated reductions in invalid ‘and old-age pensions and maternity bonuses were not effected, the Government would not have the money to pay these grants. How is this money to be expended by the States concerned? Will it be paid to financial organizations as interest, or to local governments to make employment? I should like to know.
The amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) provides that the money shall be user! to relieve unemployment. Undoubtedly unemployment is one of our greatest problems, upon which the Commonwealth and all of the States should concentrate iti the endeavour to solve it. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) said that, although his sympathy was with the unemployed, he would not support the amendment, because the amount of money that, would be made available to relieve unemployment would be inadequate. I do not doubt his sincerity, but it is desirable for us to demonstrate our sympathy in practical fashion. I remember that when the right honorable member was Prime Minister his Government at the end of 1931 granted a sum of only £250,000 to relieve unemployment. Incidentally, the allocation of some of that money resulted in the defeat of his Government.
The powers that control his party machine decreed that a sum of £20,000,000 should be made available for the relief of unemployment, but the right honorable gentleman failed to give effect to that policy when he had the opportunity to do so. Yet he now criticizes the honorable member for West Sydney when he seeks to have this amount of £1,800,000 ear-marked for such a worthy purpose. My colleagues and I realize that the sum is insufficient, but it represents a beginning. The right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) contended that it would be unfair to make this money available only to three States. Is it not better to start somewhere, rather than do nothing? We could easily justify our action to the people of the more thickly populated States. After all, they are units of this great Australian Commonwealth, and would be quite content to wait their turn when we pointed out that at the moment no more money is available, but that we expect in the near future to help them.
– Where would the money come from?
– Not from the source that is being exploited by this Government and its supporters, who are stooping despicably low by taking money from those who have practically nothing. The Government even proposes to take liens over the homes of recipients of pensions, and pirate their possessions after their death. Why, during the war men who robbed the dead were shot. On a previous occasion I said that this Government ought to be shot, and I should like to repeat that now.
– On a point of order. The statement of the honorable member is an absurd one, but I submit that it should not go into Hansard without an accompanying withdrawal.
-Order! I understood the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) to say that on a previous occasion he had declared that the Government ought to be shot, not that he is saying it now.
– That is so.
– The honorable member’s observation is unparliamentary, and I ask him to illustrate his points by a happier choice of language.
– ‘Those who advocate the making of these grants know the source from which the money will be taken, the funds which should go to our invalid and old-age pensioners and those entitled to a maternity bonus.
Many honorable members have referred, to the disabilities of federation, but I have not heard one member draw ‘ attention to its advantages. When Australia participated in the South African war, each State “had to pay its proportion of the expenditure involved in despatching a contingent. During the last world upheaval, all Avar expenditure was shouldered by the Commonwealth. The representatives of Western Australia are squealing most in this matter. . I remind them of the east-west railway that was constructed by the Commonwealth at the cost of over £6,000,000, to the material benefit of their State. Tasmanian representatives have also done a considerable amount of “ belly-aching.” Apparently, they are not very grateful to the Commonwealth Government for supplying transport facilities to and from that island. They should shake hands with themselves for having a rich uncle on the mainland to help them out of their difficulties from time to time. Yet, when they have an opportunity to support an Australian secondary industry, they refuse, preferring to stand behind the products of China, or some other cheap labour country.
It is time that we called a halt in the making qf these annual grants ‘ to States. These grants are financed by extractions from the poor to enable exorbitant interest rates to be paid by the States. Very few honorable members trouble to consider that the three States concerned have a population of only onesixth of the whole of the Commonwealth, or realize that it is unfair continually to be asking the people of the other States to come to their rescue to help them pay the Shylocks. In the circumstances, it is absurd for the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) to moan so much about the establishment of secondary industries in the eastern States.
I urge the Government to give greater consideration to the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). I remind its members that when they were in opposition they criticized the unemployment policy of the Scullin Government. In turn, the Scullin Government criticized the administration of its predecessor, and so he vicious circle has gone on. There has been much criticism, but no serious endeavour to eliminate the evil. Anything done has been merely a palliative. This problem is too great to be considered from the narrow viewpoint of party politics. Do honorable members realize that a great proportion of our population is on the verge of revolt? Those who are discontented are not Communists. They represent thousands of thrifty individuals who provided against a rainy day, and now find that they must spend their life savings before they can receive even a dole, and that their chance of employment is remote indeed, and daily their position is becoming worse.
Australia possesses resources which, if developed, would carry 40 times its present, population. The’ Commonwealth Government should make money available for expenditure on water conservation schemes, and should extend our credit system so that State governments could finance reproductive areas. Inland areas which are now arid and unproductive could be made prolific, and used as the medium for closer settlement schemes if aided by irrigation. That would be a far more economical way of spending money than making grants and paying doles, which give no return. Those who are out of employment are discontented, and so are those who control industry. Taxation has reached a point at which it cannot bc increased without reducing the aggregate return, and everybody is in trouble. There are young men in Australia to-day, 21 years of age, who have never done a day’s work. I have four boys whose ages range from fourteen to 21 who have never worked.
– Put them on the land.
– It would be far better to put our young men on the land than M keep them on the dole. The honor- : bie member for Calare (Mr. Thorby) asked a few minutes ago, by way of interaction, what could be done with water if we did conserve it. My reply is that we could use it for irrigation purposes. There are many reproductive public works that could be put in hand. For instance, many large country towns could be sewered. I am sure that the residents of such towns, who are just as much entitled to the advantages of a proper sewerage system as are the people who live in our capital cities, would not begrudge the extra rates that they would have to pay to meet the cost of such a convenience. Unfortunately, the Government will not put such works in hand, for it would not be advantageous to the master class. If money were needed for war purposes, it would be provided quickly enough in order to protect property. We could inflate the currency in the war years, when money was needed for the purpose of killing people, but we cannot inflate it to-day because money is needed to feed people by the provision of useful reproductive work! Unfortunately, the bankers are dictating the policy of this Government as they did that of the Scullin Government.
– Order! The honorable member cannot proceed along those lines.
– In speaking to the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney, I was merely endeavouring to show that what is needed ia employment, and that money could be found to provide employment if the credit of the country were not controlled by a few private individuals. Credit should be the handmaid of industry, and not its mistress. A half-dozen bankers should not be able to deny credit to the representatives of the people, yet they are doing so. I support the amendment, and I believe that every honorable member who has a genuine desire to do something effective to help the necessitous States should also do so by insisting that the grants should be expended on unemployment relief.
– I do not think that any honorable member, can listen to some of the statements that have been made in this debate without considering his position with great earnestness. The very fact, that such a measure has been submitted to the House indicates that our governmental arrangements are not satisfactory. We shall have to find a means of governing Australia which will oblige all the States to rely upon their own resources, and to pay their own way. A good deal has been said during this debate on the relative importance of the rural and secondary industries of the Commonwealth. It appears to me that one section has been trying to make capital out of the other section.
– Make or take?
– A bit both ways. It must be obvious to every honorable member that our primary industries cannot possibly live without secondary industries. To say that the secondary industries are draining the life-blood from the rural industries is to show an entire misunderstanding of the position. The home market is absolutely essential to rural industries, and they would not be able to live without it.
– Of course the primary industries could live without the secondary industries.
– I suppose people in the country could live on rabbits and grass; but nobody desires them to do so. This continual crying on behalf of the rural industries is beggaring the big issues of the Commonwealth. No country has been more generous to her primary industries than Australia. Whenever droughts or difficulties occur, the nation renders assistance to those in need. It appears to me that there is a sinister motive behind this constant and destructive criticism of the secondary industries of Australia. It is largely a political move of organizations which desire to keep their parties together.
– “ Evil to him who evil thinks.”
– I have every sympathy with the man on the land, and think that he should be afforded every opportunity to make good and to overcome the difficult circumstances which confront him from time to time. But surely honorable members realize that one of the greatest troubles of our rural industries is the over capitalization of the land. I know, of course, that there is also over capitalization in secondary industries. Yet it must be admitted that no one more quickly takes advantage of favorable conditions than the people on the land. If a railway passes through a new settlement land prices frequently rise from 10s. or fi an acre to £5 or even £10 an acre, and the settlers have, in many instances, made fortunes by selling out. I can remember such happenings on the North Coast. Land worth £1 au acre was bought by a syndicate for £2 an acre when the prospects of railway facilities were good. The honorable member for Calare (Mr. Thorby) knows something about such happenings. The object of the syndicate was to sell the land for £3 or £4 an acre after the railway was constructed. It is to be expected that such things will happen in the absence of a betterment tax. Naturally, land-owners are not slow to take advantage of the increased value which a railway gives to their land. Although settlers often say that if a railway is constructed through their district they will open up the land for settlement and do other things which would be of advantage to the nation, 1 such undertakings are rarely kept. The enhanced value which railways give to land often makes impossible the use of such areas for profitable production at ruling world price levels. I readily admit that our rural industries have their peculiar difficulties, but so have secondary industries. This is all the more reason why the one should not be set against the other. Those who try to pit the rural industries against the secondary industries, and at the same time claim that they are actuated by a desire to encourage the development of the country are, to my mind, insincere.
It is proposed to make grants under this bill and the two measures that will follow it, to South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania and, at the moment, I do not think that there is any alternative to doing so; but I do not: think that the making of these grants will effectively mitigate the evils of which complaints have been made.
– We will give the Commonwealth the top-half of South Australia if it likes.
– It would be a good thing if the Commonwealth accepted it, and also that part of Western Australia which we are told, the State Government cannot develop. The people of all the States would then be required to contribute towards the cost of developing the area.
If it were found that it could not be developed, the Commonwealth could do what an ordinary business- man would do with an enterprise that was not paying. A man who has three or four branch stores,, and finds that some of them are not paying, closes down the non-paying sections, reduces his overhead costs, and concentrates his energies on the valuable parts of his business. Some people are advocating the subdivision of New South Wales, but I think that if the lower half of South Australia, the little island of Tasmania and a part of the Riverina, were added to Victoria, there would then be a good State. I remember visiting the Murray lands-
– Then the honorable member has been in the country?
– That remark shows how biased an honorable member can be. If the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Gibson) were reasonable, he would know that no one who has been connected with important business enterprises in the city could possibly be ignorant of the problems of country life and business. I have had as much experience of the country, apart from my experience as a business man, as many honorable members who talk so much about their knowledge of rural conditions, and I know that the country man cannot live without the city man any more than the city man can live without the country man. A drought in the north-west portion of New South Wales has a detrimental effect on business in the capital and throughout the State.
There is a party in the Commonwealth and in the State parliaments whose policy would prejudicially affect every industry except those in which that party is particularly interested. Attention to the task of making industries pay by such means as the reduction of overhead costs, would enable the Country party to obtain more tangible results than the formation of new States. At the present time too much importance is attached to the observance of State boundaries. New South Wales, in a spirit of reciprocity, gave Victoria the right to construct three lines of railway in the Riverina, and Victoria. on the other. hand, undertook, to build two railway bridges and a traffic bridge across the river Murray. New South Wales took the broad Australian view in that matter, and recognized that the man on the land in the Riverina had the right to send his products to Melbourne, the nearest market, rather than be compelled to- pay railway freight over the longer distance to Sydney. The railway from Deniliquin to Moama would not have been built if New South Wales had taken a narrow view. The line to Gong Gong-
– The honorable member is not confining himself to the subject of the bill.
– The problems that confront Australia may more easily be solved by bringing the existing States more closely together than by further dividing them. I favour any business proposition to make our industries pay ; but I deplore the petty prejudice shown by one party in pitting rural industries against secondary industries. This anti-Australian attitude will not enable our great nation to realize its destiny. Unless petty differences are put aside, we shall have to abolish State parliaments, and have a central government, for the purpose of reducing administrative costs to the lowest point.
The honorable member’ for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser), who comes from the wealthy State of Queensland, smiled, in a condescending way, upon the poor wheat and wool States, yet Queensland would give no relief to the other States until a reduction of id. per lb. in the cost of sugar was. dragged from it. Queensland, is unwilling, to yield anything with respect to its profitable sugar industry. The- honorable member for Grey (Mr. McBride), remarked that South Australia, whose total area was 380,000 square miles, had only 70,000 square miles of land’ with an annual rainfall of ten inches or more.
– Is the honorable member appealing for New South Wales?
– I am appealing for a condition of prosperity in the three States with which this bill deals equal to that enjoyed to-day by New South Wales.
– What about the North Shore bridge, and the Sydney underground, railway?
– The honorable member for Angas’ (Mr. Gabb) should not forget the £6,000,000 which the Commonwealth spent on the construction of the Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie railway. The
Sydney Harbour bridge will prove a great asset to New South Wales. The building of the east-west railway linked up South Australia and Western Australia. It was claimed that that line would be valuable for defence purposes, but everybody realizes that it was responsible for. a huge waste of public money. I cannot support the amendment submitted by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), who desires that the grants proposed to be made under the bill should be U3ed for the relief of unemployment. Those who comprise the Beasley group lose no opportunity of raising the issue of unemployment to the exclusion of all others; but those honorable members have been the cause of more unemployment and distress among the workers than any other party. The amendment lias been submitted in a most insincere spirit-
– Order !
– The honorable member for West Sydney is endeavouring to make political capital out of this bill, and the House would be well advised not to act upon his advice.
Silting” suspended from G.J.5 to S p.m.
– I was saying that the mover of the amendment was not sincere.
-Order! The honorable member may not accuse another honorable member of insincerity.
– I withdraw that word. I intended to say that the amendment does not appear to be sincere. But for the word “ unemployment,” the party led by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), would have no political vocabulary at all. During the last general elections the lang candidates posed as the champions of the unemployed, although the Lang Government had created in New South Wales in a short period more unemployment than there was in any other State. Members of the Lang group have the audacity to suggest that the Government of South Australia should be told by this Parliament bow the grant by the Commonwealth should be expended, notwithstanding that when they placed their proposals for the relief of unemployment before the people of that State, not one of their candidates was returned. They stifffered a similar setback in Tasmania and Western Aus* tralia. I am confident, therefore, that the
House will not entertain the proposal of the honorable members of the corner party that they should be permitted to dictate to the Government of South Australia regarding the expenditure of the Commonwealth grant. I am confident that the State Government will expend this money wisely and well. Australia should endeavour to reduce its overhead expenses, and that could be done by the amalgamation of the States of Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. New South Wales has an area of 309,432 square miles, and a population of 2,504,536, whilst the other three States I have mentioned have an area of 420,000 x square miles and a population of 2,597,594. The honorable member for Grey (Mr. McBride) has stated that a large area of South Australia has no productive value; that being so, the amalgamation of that State with Victoria and Tasmania would produce a State of approximately the same area as New South Wales, and instead of having three parliaments, with the incidental overhead expenses; we would have one large unit, with sufficient resources to be able to meet its obligations, as New South Wales and Queensland are doing.
– New South Wales has a deficit of £13.000.000
– Undoubtedly that State is experiencing difficulties, but no State is able to balance its budget under existing conditions. Nevertheless, it is upon the assets of the larger States, that the Commonwealth is able to obtain credit to finance all the Australian governments. The smaller States will never be able to make themselves financially strong without the assistance of the larger States, and for that reason, I believe in linking the three small States together. The big State of Queensland is probably the Wealthiest in the Commonwealth; it thrives on such luxuries as sugar and tobacco, and in those industries wages are Out of proportion to those paid in other rural industries. I believe that the pay of the workers in the cane-fields varies from 16s. to fi per day, whilst the wool and wheat industries in the smaller States can barely pay a living wage. The continuance of these grants to necessitous States is a matter of serious concern tn the Commonwealth as a whole. Instead of dividing Australia into smaller States, I would amalgamate some of the existing States, so that they might be financially selfsupporting instead of being a continual drag upon the Commonwealth. In regard to Western Australia, whether its threat to secede is carried into effect or not is immaterial, because owing to the smallness of the area of its land that can be profitably worked, it will be in difficulties for many years.
– It will soon be the biggest wheat-producing State in the Commonwealth.
– I admit that, but owing to its distance from the eastern States and the difficulty and cost of transport its industries will not be able to make much progress. If Western Australia were to secede, the tariff imposed for the protection of industries in the eastern States would probably be as objectionable to its people as is the present tariff-. I approve of these bills, and hope that the Parliament will not agree to the proposal to fetter the judgment of the- recipients regarding the manner in which the money shall be expended.
.- The subject of special grants to States should be approached with caution. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) has drawn attention to the fact that there is no scientific and reliable basis for the fixation of this form of assistance; grants are proposed from time to time merely on the basis of vague generalities regarding special disabilities said to be suffered by certain States. Caution is necessary, first, because of the vagueness of the method of computing the grants, and secondly, because what were originally supplications to the Commonwealth for assistance have become demands. There is not the slightest doubt thai unless this problem be taken in hai. J seriously, political parties will, in the near future, be bidding against each other, seeking to influence votes by offering larger grants than their rivals. This will develop a species of political blackmail, and grants will be made for no other purpose than the winning of votes. If we take the period from 1913-14 we find that for eight years Tasmania was satisfied with an annual grant of £90,000.
In the three following years, the amount was reduced to £85,000. Then it rose to £146,000, and later dropped to £68,000. In the two succeeding years, it was £278,000; then it was £220,000, and for the last two years, it has been £250,000. ……. year, the amount proposed is £330,000. In eighteen years, the amount has increased from £90,000 to £330,000, and according to the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Guy), even the latter sum will not satisfy the demands of Tasmania in future years. Clearly, he is of opinion that notwithstanding the remarkable increase from £90,000, the grant, of £330,000 this year is being accepted only because of the general financial stringency. Sooner or later, a reliable basis for fixing the amount of the grants must be devised, for the three largest States will not be prepared to continue indefinitely to pay to what, are called the three weaker States this haphazard tribute.
I come now to Western Australia. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) and the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) have clearly indicated that they are dissatisfied with the proposed grant of £500,000. They contend that, the grant should be £1,000,000. They say that £500,000 will not meet, the requirements of that State, and they threaten secession. Let us examine the position of Western Australia. Since 1913-14 federal grants to ibo amount of £4,435,000 have been made to that State. In 1913-14 the annual payment was £220,000, and it was gradually diminished to £110,000 in 1924-25. In 1931 the grant was increased to £300,000, and now it is to be £500,000.
Then take the case of South Australia. It is only during the last four years that that State has suddenly discovered that it has disabilities owing to federation.
– For a long time we have known of South Australia’s disabilities.
– The fact remains i hat only since 1929-30 has any payment been made to South Australia in recognition of its so-called disabilities. In that year it was paid £360,000 and in the following year £1,170,000. This year South Australia has asked for £2,000,000, and has been successful, apparently, in inducing the Commonwealth Government to grant it £1,000,000. I ask again where is this expenditure leading us? I fear that in the near future the making of a grant will become a matter of political bargaining rather than of justification according to the needs of the States. Let us consider the position of Tasmania. If we take the report of the Public Accounts Committee on the disabilities of Tasmania, we shall at least get a little away from the heat of party politics. The committee made several recommendations to the Commonwealth Government and in conclusion stated -
The committee iti the course of a comprehensive inquiry, devoted particular attention to the primary industries of the State, as it was thought, that scientific development of those industries would go a long way towards the rehabilitation of the finances of the State. Expert evidence, which strongly supported the view of the committee, clearly indicated that there was room for considerable improvement in the methods employed in agricultural, pastoral, and dairying industries, and it was confidently asserted that, if scientific methods were generally employed in those industries, the added wealth arising therefrom would soon remove the necessity for substantial financial assistance from the Commonwealth.
That was the report of the committee at that time and, now that another request for assistance has been made, we are entitled to ask whether these recommendations have been given effect by the Government and the people of Tasmania. At that time three of the disabilities complained of by Tasmania were the arbitration system, the tariff policy, and the Navigation Act.
– What is the year of that report?
– It was made in 1930. The committee, referring to the alleged detrimental effect of tariff protection and customs taxation, said -
On this basis the annual loss to Tasmania is £582,000. While the figures quoted reveal considerable losses to Tasmania., it is impossible to estimate the effect of such losses on the finances of the State Treasury. The calculation of “gains and losses through protected commodities “ approximate figures contained in the report on “the Australian Tariff”, but as the findings in that report in relation to economic effects of the tariff have ‘been challenged by the officials of the Commonwealth Treasury and the Commonwealth Department of Trade and Customs, the figures submitted should, the committee suggests, be interpreted with some caution.-
That is precisely- the view expressed by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) this afternoon. If it is impossible to estimate the effect of tariff losses on the State Treasury, how are we to compute the grant for Tasmania, even if we admit that the tariff does constitute a disability? Then, again, the figures have been challenged both by the Commonwealth Treasury and the Department of Trade and Customs, and the committee suggests that they should be interpreted with the utmost caution. The committee’s report is not very encouraging to the view that the tariff has had a detrimental effect upon Tasmania. The next disability is federal arbitration, and on that the committee says - lt. was claimed that the effects of the operation of the Arbitration Court rendered it difficult for Tasmanian industries to compete successfully with the mainland, for the reason that the State was already suffering serious handicap on account of high shipping freights. Figures submitted iu evidence showed that for the wages of adult males generally the average rate for Tasmania was. in 1030, 7 per cent, below the average of the rest of Australia, whereas for adult female wages the Tasmanian rate was about 1 per cent. below the average of the Test of Australia. While it was contended in evidence that the industries of Tasmania were handicapped by’ reason of high shipping freights, and were thus in a relatively weak position to bear the costs involved in arbitration awards, it was also pointed out that, if the differences between wages om the mainland and Tasmania were more marked, there would he a greater incentive to migrate to the mainland, fu so far as it had acted as an equalizer of wages, therefore the Arbitration Court had benefited Tasmania.
Arbitration has been claimed as one of Tasmania’s special disabilities, yet the Public Accounts Committee, which investigated that subject, has stated that the Arbitration Court has benefited Tas-1 mania. Therefore two of the disabilities in respect of which Tasmania is claiming assistance from the Commonwealth have gone by the board. I come now to the operation of the Navigation Act. The committee investigated the operation of the act so far as it was said to be detrimental to Tasmania. les report reads -
The chairman and one other commissioner arrived at the conclusion that the Navigation Act had proved a serious disability to Tasmania, but the other five commissioners did not support that view. Two of those commissioners expressed the view that southern Tasmania had been affected so far as the tourist traffic was concerned, but not nearly to the extent imagined by the people of Hobart. The other three commissioners arrived at the conclusion that the Navigation Act had not affected the tourist traffic, or inflicted injury on Tasmanian industries; also that it had not retarded the development or affected the financial position of the State.
– The honorable member is quoting the report of a royal commission.
– This is an impartial report. It shows that Tasmania is suffering little disability because of the tariff policy, the arbitration system or the Navigation Act.
I come now to the advantages which, the committee said, had accrued to Tasmania from federation. Summing up the advantages over five years, from 1925 to 1930, it stated that the direct advantage to Tasmania because of federation was £3,814,432. The representatives of Tasmania have claimed that the disability to that State because of the tariff, amounted to £582,000 per annum, which, over a period of five years, makes a total of £2,910,000. On those figures, after deducting alleged disabilities from advantages gained as a result of federation, Tasmania is actually showing a profit of £904,432. I agree with the honorable member for Gippsland that if there is justification for this grant, some definite formula should be arrived at in assessing the value of the disability. In view of the fact that year by year Tasmania is demanding more and more of the Commonwealth because of alleged disabilities, I ask the Government what method is it adopting to assess those disabilities? The report of the Public Accounts Committee for 1929-30, dealing with the expenditure of federal revenue, shows that in that year the Commonwealth expended in Tasmania £3 16s. 4d. per head more than it collected from that State in taxation; in Western Australia it expended £2 5s. 4d. per head more than it collected; in South Australia it expended 15s. 9d. per head more than it collected; in Queensland it expended 9s. per head more than it collected: in Victoria it expended 10s. per head less than it collected; and in New South Wales it expended 14s. 4d. per head less than it collected in that State. it is evident that the three States which complain so much about federal disabilities have been well looked after in the matter of the expenditure of federal revenue in their territories.
I am not going to deal at any length with the alleged disabilities of South Australia. Time does not permit me to do so. I merely state that the report which dealswith South Australian disabilities shows that the direct advantages accruing to South Australia from and since federation amount to £37,098,395.
One of the arguments advanced regarding the disabilities of South Australia is that that State has no coal or mineral deposits. Surely that would have been so whether federation had eventuated or not ? Another argument is that Tasmania suffers disability because it is disconnected from the mainland. Would the lack of federation have remedied that? Why should the rest of the Commonwealth compensate for disadvantages that must have existed in any circumstances?
– It looks as though the honorable member is going to vote against the bill.
– That will be disclosed in due course. I do not need anybody to tell me how to vote.
Other honorable members interjecting ,
– Order ! I ask honorable members to subdue their conversation, and not to subject the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) to continual interjections. I am sure that he does not desire assistance in making his speech.
– The inordinate demands by these States and the apparent desire of the Government to placate them, have led to the exploitation of the position by the Country party, which is seeking a sort of freetrader’s holiday, and declares that these disabilities arc due entirely to our policy of protection. If the primary producers were faithfully represented in this Parliament it would not be by those espousing a freetrade policy. The fact is that at present they cannot sell their goods on an overseas market.
– They are the only producers who are compelled to try to do so.
– That is admitted, but the party which professes to represent our primary producers is doing its best, by co-operating with the Government,to beat down wages and make conditions: harder, and so would, deprive, those1 producers even of the. home market.. The position would be infinitely worse if our secondary industries, lacked their present protection, which at least gives them the opportunity of paying a decent wage and creating- a home market, for. the primary producers. I believe that, given the opportunity, those who complain so much about federal disabilities, and at the- same time grind the freetrade axe,, would drive the secondary industries out of the country.
When speaking to a Tasmanian audience, the Prime Minister, admitting that these- grants’ were not so- large as he would like, declared that the needs of the States were not purely the results of federal disabilities, and added that he was- inclined to help those States to the greatest possible extent because they had consistently adhered to the Premiers plan. That gives- us another line of vision regarding these grants. The Prime Minister is prepared’ to make them, not merely because the States concerned1 are suffering disabilities under federation, but because they are doing their utmost to bolster up the Premiers’ plan. My colleagues and I will not be parties to subsidising the failure of the Premiers plan, which we consider to be- the greatest disability from which Australia now suffers. We realize the immediate desperate financial position of Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania, and admit that they need assistance. We further realize that if some aid is not granted those who will suffer most will be the workers. Consequently, we shall not vote against the making of these grants on this occasion, although we sound a note of warning as to what the practice really involves. We shall support the money being granted to these States, but will endeavour to see that it is spent in a more desirable way than bolstering up the Premiers plan.
The position of South Australia particularly is desperate so far as its workers are concerned. On the occasion that the Premier of that State visited Canberra to push his claim for a grant of £2,000,000 he admitted that the people of South Australia’ were the highest taxed and lowest paid in the Commonwealth. My colleagues’ and. I realize what this grant of £1,000,000 will mean to the workers of that State. We- also know what it- would, mean- if denied. The amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) seeks’ to direct that the money shall be spent for the benefit of* those, who suffer most in the States;.
It has been argued that the mere voting: of this money for the relief of unemployment will not achieve its object. I contend that the bill can be so framed that- the money can be. made supplementary to that granted by the various governments for a similar purpose. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) declared that, although he agreed with the logic of the amendment, he would vote for the bill. What a remarkable attitude! The honorable member stated that though the amendment is. logical it could not be given effect. If this Pa.rliament specifies that the money is to supplement other moneys spent to relieve unemployment in the States. this year, the bill can be made workable. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports also said that even if the amendment were carried it would add to, rather than lessen the number of unemployed in South Australia. That too, is a remarkable statement. How the expenditure of £1,000,000 to provide work for the unemployed can add to the unemployment in a State, I fail to see.
– It would afford merely temporary relief.
– Certainly ; but it would be relief. The statement of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports was a ridiculous one, and merely an excuse for voting for the motion.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) also opposed the amendment. I suggest that that is because he is not yet thoroughly weaned from the Premiers plan and, quietly, that he would not like to see any government that had adopted that plan, go under. The right honorable gentleman was charitable enough to admire the spirit which prompted the amendment, as it would “ focus attention on unemployment.” We are not here to focus attention on unemployment. The evil is evident enough to every man, woman and child in the Commonwealth. What is needed is the formulation of a definite scheme to ameliorate conditions. The Leader of the Opposition said “ the amendment does not meet the position, and to support it would be tantamount to accepting the position that it was enough.” Who in this party has argued that the amount is adequate? Not one. If that were a logical argument “ against the expenditure of .-£1,800,000 on unemployment now, a similar argument would have been equally logical against the proposal of his Government to relieve unemployment. Rather than to indulge in such illogical, carping criticism, it would be better for honorable members to say straight out that they support the motion.
My colleagues and I are prepared to admit that the Scullin Government could not do more than it did to provide money to relieve unemployment, because it was opposed by a hostile Senate. To-day, we are faced with a hostile government. While the Scullin Government spent only £750,000 on the relief of unemployment, my colleagues and I are endeavouring to apply the amount of £1,800,000 to that purpose. We commend the amendment on its merits in all seriousness, and do not want the qualified support of the Opposition. If those honorable members are not prepared to assist U3 in this effort to divert some money towards the relief of unemployment, we are prepared to accept them as opponents.
We realize that there is a way out of the difficulty; not an easy one, I admit. If the Governments of Australia would fight for the Commonwealth, and demand some consideration from the interest mongers, our financial position generally would be improved. So long as the Government is prepared to go along as at present, endeavouring to carry out what -is obviously impossible, and requiring from the people of Australia sacrifices which they cannot properly bear, my colleagues and I will oppose its action. If the Government is prepared to provide that this money shall be spent on the relief of unemployment, which is the greatest disability from which South Australia is suffering, we shall support the bill; but we are not prepared to approve of a continuance of the old haphazard methods. So long as those methods are adopted by the Government we shall propose alternatives, and at least attempt to ensure that any money provided will be spent to. help the workers who, after all, are the greatest sufferers in a time of distress, but given proper assistance, could do more than any other section of the community to bring about the economic recovery of Australia.
Dr. MALONEY (Melbourne) [8.46 J.The purpose of this bill is to make a grant of £1,000,000 to South Australia. Similar measures have also been submitted to the House providing for grants of £500,000 and £330,000 to Western Australia and Tasmania respectively. I have been angered by having had to listen to the contumely poured on certain States of this country which I love.- It reminded me of the words of that famous American woman, Miss Prances Willard, who, in advocating direct representation, or, in other words, the referendum, initiative and recall, said -
The reign of the people is the one thing my soul desires to see. The reign of the politician is a public infamy. It is the duty of every citizen to carefully study this question.
I did not dream that I should ever hear statements in the National Parliament such as I have heard during the discussion of this bill. The self-respect of the so-called smaller States should not be humiliated by making it necessary for them to appeal for grants in this way. They have been called “ beggar States,” and have been classed with cadgers of the street. I strongly resent this. No representative of any of the States concerned could resent it more deeply than I do.
I believe that I shall be able to show that the making of such grants may be avoided; but first let me say that whereever a flag is lifted in the interests of the unemployed I shall stand under its shadow if I am able to stand.
My proposal for meeting the present situation is that the Government shall coin £1,000,000 worth of silver. The caucus of the Labour party during the last Parliament, with the exception of the Treasurer of the day, Mr. Theodore, unanimously endorsed a proposal I then made of this nature. Silver was then worth ls. per oz. Currency to the value of 5s. -6d. could have been made from each ounce of silver. I wanted the government of the day to take this matter up, not because I was a bimetallism but because I believed that it would help the country in its time of distress. It is deplorable that the great banking institutions, of the world, by adopting the gold standard, have condemned every third man, woman and child to misery, starvation, and, in some cases, even death. The teeming millions of the East were ruined by the adoption of the gold standard. In this connexion, let me adapt the words of that famous American, “William Jennings Bryan, who, although he did not reach the presidential chair, was a great man. He said, when the banks of the United States of America were conspiring to force the adoption of the gold, standard, “ You shall not crucify humanity upon a cross of gold “. ‘
Because I believe that there is a better method of making grants to necessitous States than that proposed in the bill, I suggest the following proposal as an amendment : -
That the sum of £1,000,000 proposed to be granted to South Australia be paid in silver currency, which would amount to £3,000,660 iu silver coinage at ls. 6d. per oz. ; and that the Commonwealth Government charge 2 per cent, and so save the State of South Australia from the necessity of financial assistance under section 00 of the Constitution.
When silver was at the unprecedentedly low figure of ls. per oz. the Government could have made a profit of 450 per cent, by minting it into coin. A million pounds worth of silver would have given it coinage to the value of £5,500,000. I have never yet met a man or woman who declined to accept silver for wages. lt may be said that, the banks would refuse to accept silver coins as legal tender for more than £2. If- they did so, I would force them to close their doors. As an old banker, I am quite ready to admit that the banks have done a good deal for ‘humanity, but some of the banking institutions^ and especially the English, Scottish and Australian Bank, have written their history in villainy, cruelty, and worse. Although this bank would, at one stage, advance only 13s. in the £1 to its customers, and pay only 3 per cent, on deposits, it paid dividends of 12^ per cent. Can that be called honorable? The following figures, would show the amount of currency that could be provided with silver at the prices quoted : -
I hope to see the price of silver standardized at 2s. per oz. If the Government would mint £1,000,000 worth of silver, at ls. 6d. per oz., it would provide £3,666,000. I suggest that it should mint this money, and make a loan to South Australia at 2 per cent, interest. This would make unnecessary such constant appeals for financial assistance. I yet hope to see my beloved Australia, encompassed by the inviolate sea, one State under one government. When from hundreds of platforms throughout the Commonwealth we advocated federation more than 30 years ago, I believed that it would mean one government, one representative^ - the High Commissioner - abroad, and one parliament. I hoped that this glorious country, which is the only continent in the world whose’ people speak one language, would have one set of laws. I certainly did not contemplate that it would ever be necessary for the National Parliament to make grants in this way to the different States.
When the war broke out, I proposed to Mr. Andrew. Fisher that silver should be minted to help in overcoming the financial difficulties of that time. An election was then pending, and after Mr. Fisher’s return a.s Prime Minister I had hopes that he would adopt my proposal. But war was declared; mighty, murdering battalions set out for the purpose of killing, and my proposal dropped out of sight. It is deplorable that money could be found then for the purposes of war, but that it cannot be found now for the purposes of peace, and particularly for the relief of unemployment. The proposal which I made to Mr. Fisher at that time had special reference to Broken Hill, the only city in Australia which depends entirely upon mining for ite prosperity. The directors of the various companies agreed to carry on operations at full swing, if the banks would assist them. I wrote a letter to the Melbourne press to the effect that if the mines closed down, great unemployment would result. I had been a helper of the unemployed from 18S9 onwards, and I realize only too well that anything which destroyed credit would cause unemployment. The Melbourne Age honoured me by publishing my letter on its cable page. I suggested that the Government then about to be elected should purchase all the products of the Broken Hill mines at the prices at which they were sold in London before the war, and that if the shareholders did not agree to that proposal, New South Wales, by the law of eminent domain, which is as powerful to-day as in the days of Bracton, should seize the mines, and work them in the interests of the State. I had a request from Mr. W. L. Baillieu for an interview, and to that I gladly acceded. After several interviews, he empowered me to inform Mr. Fisher that if the Government would take over the products of the Broken Hill mines, the companies would accept a reduction of 30 per cent, on the price ruling for silver before the war. I maintain that if the Government had made such an arrangement with the mining companies, extending over a few years, they would have been prepared to accept the price of ls. 4$d. per oz., because of the saving that would have been made in freight, insurance, and selling costs. I submitted the matter to Mr. Fisher, careful and honest man that he was, but unfortunately for me, he consulted the secretary to the Treasury, Mr. Allen. This officer had risen to a high position, but, as a public servant, it was not necessary for him, as it is for members of this House, to submit himself for approval by the electors every three years. Mr. Fisher finally decided not to accept the offer. Then representatives of the Broken Hill companies, in their noble desire to help Australia, waited with me on Mr. Fisher, and offered to .sell all the metals produced at Broken Hill at the average cost price, in order to .keep the mines in full operation, but even that proposal was rejected. As a result of the war, the value of the products appreciated, and it is estimated that £300,000,000 would have been saved to Australia if the Government had accepted the offer made at that time. In the words of Mr. Baillieu, so large a sum would have been saved that probably the present awful financial crisis would have been averted.
I again remind honorable members that with, silver at ls. per oz-> the adoption of silver currency would show a profit of 450 per cent. I propose to read a letter that I received from my friend, Sir James Mitchell, the present Premier of Western Australia, to whom I submitted my proposal. In a letter dated the 13th March, 1931, he wrote-
I have to acknowledge receipt of your letter nf the 25th February, and to thank you for it. The idea seems to be a splendid one, and I would suggest that you bring it under the notice of Mr. Scullin, from whom I should be delighted to borrow a substantial amount at 2 per cent, interest.
– What did Mr. Scullin say?
– There was a dominant man in the Cabinet, and on that account, it was hopeless to expect the result desired. I should say that, if the Commonwealth Government were to offer a State £1,000,000 as a loan at 6 per cent., to be spent on reproductive work for the benefit of the unemployed, the Treasurer of that State would prefer to have £4,000,000 worth of silver instead of £1,000,000 worth of notes, and the interest rate would be 2 per cent. Another State Premier who supported my proposal for the monetization of silver was Mr. J ohn Lang, who stated that if he had power to mint silver he would- immediately do so.
– It would not ring true.
– The honorable “member who interjects comes from Tasmania. No country that I have ever studied has greater advantages than has Tasmania. I have seen -its rich lands, and have admired its beautiful orchards. I know how its waters have been harnessed for the benefit of man. I am aware of its great mineral resources in tin, silver, and gold.
– And its Lyons !
– The right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), who represents a Tasmanian electorate, is the only politician under the British flag who has ever had the courage to introduce the initiative, referendum, and recall, which he submitted to the Tasmanian Parliament. The proposal was adopted by the lower House in that State, but the “ House of Fossils “ rejected it.
New South Wales is the great silverproducing State of Australia. From 1913 to 1929 it produced 442,000,000 ounces of silver, valued at £66,000,000. Tasmania is now the second silver-producing State of the Commonwealth. The production of silver in the various States in 1929 was as follows: -
I hope that the Commonwealth Government will give my proposal full consideration. I believe that all honorable members will admit that, by its adoption, the necessity for impecunious States to appeal to the Commonwealth for financial assistance could be avoided. It may interest honorable members to know that on the 13th October, 1921, I received the following letter from Mr. Andrew Fisher : -
Dear Dr. Maloney, - I well remember you callingon me when I was Prime Minister and Treasurer of the Commonwealth with an offer from the Broken Hill Proprietary, through the Hon. W. L. Baillieu, that they would accept the English selling price before the war, less 30 per cent. for all metals purchased from their mines.. Though the proposition was made to cover difficulties during a transition period, I felt two forms of specie might create unforeseen disturbance in our currency, and the circumstances were phenomenal amid huge difficulties of the early stages of the world war. I thank Dr. Maloney and Mr. Baillieu for their forethought in a matter of high finance.
I cannot close without adding an opinion that many things were done subsequent to the proposition dealt with above that were more daring than this one. It shows clearly that government in peace times is not a guide for a world war.
The Commonwealth Statistician has estimated the value of Australian private and public property at £4,000,000,000. That figure seems to me unduly conservative. In June, 1914, the estimated value was £1,200,000,000, and after nine months of war the estimate had increased to £1,600,000,000. If such an increase could take place at a time when the credit of every nation was depressed by war, I maintain that the estimate of £4,000,000,000 now is unreasonably low. Probably when the aborigines roamed Australia, there was £600,000,000 more gold in the ground than there is to-day, but the loss of that gold has been more than counterbalanced by the value added in other ways. I am optimistic enough to believe that the premises erected five years ago for residential and business purposes are worth as much to-day as they were then, but by a crazy system of bookkeeping and credits which this Government appears to be bolstering up their value has depreciated by from 20 to 50 per cent. Proof of that is to be found in the rents obtainable in Melbourne and Sydney to-day. Major Douglas has declared that from the fund of public and private wealth a dividend could be paid to every family, instead of governments taxing us out. of house and home. The owner of a small house finds that his tenant cannot pay the rent. The law, at last tinged with justice, declares that tenants must be allowed time to vacate houses for which they cannot pay. As soon as the worker’s wages, representing his power to purchase, cease, credit is finished, and the whole community experiences depression. During the great war, Australia was carried on by the purchasing power of its people. All the wheat and wool we grew could be sold either locally or abroad. For four years we were able to finance that frightful war by a system of credit. Why cannot the same system be employed to remove poverty from the world and terminate the evil of unemployment? In the Victorian Parliament over 40 years ago, I proposed that the State should become the owner of all lands. The then Attorney-General, Mr. Isaacs, now the Governor-General of the Commonwealth, had succeeded in having passed a law which made the probate duty rise by 1 per cent, on every £10,000 until it reached 10 per cent, on amounts of £100,000 and more. I pointed out that the basic value of land is its productive capacity. The most valuable land in Victoria is that fronting Collinsstreet, and, according to an estimate given to me by rate collectors and other valuers, over £250,000 worth of land in Collins-street, between Queen-street and Russell-street, is wasted because the buildings in the street have two division walls instead of one. In addition, there was the waste of material and labour. If this land had been the property of the State, this waste would have been avoided. I proposed that the Government, instead of paying probate duty into the Consolidated Revenue, should place it to the credit of a special fund which could be utilized for the purchase of land as it came on the market. In respect of large estates containing real property, the Government should take one-tenth of the land, and when the remainder of the land came on the market, would have the advantage of that one-tenth in bidding against other would-_ be purchasers. It was estimated that in 75 years the whole of the City of Melbourne would by this means become the property of the State. Major Douglas has 3aid that in Scotland the accumulated wealth, public and private, is sufficient to pay to the head of every family £300 a year in monthly instalments. He has urged that all men and women should work at their callings, as disclosed in the census, unless they had a medical certificate of unfitness, and that one quarter of their wages should be paid into a fund for the common good. I am sorry that we have not a bright star like Major Douglas to guide us in our difficulties. The Commonwealth expended a large sum Of money in bringing “ the Big Four “ to Australia. Sir Otto Niemeyer paid his own expenses; by his correspondence I judged him a gentleman, but members of my party were misled into the belief that he had not been invited by the Commonwealth Labour Government to come to Australia. As a matter of fact, he had been invited by that Government, and
All hail to the coming century when war will be dead, when monarchy will bc dead, when bigotry will be dead, when poverty will be dead, but when man shall live, when for all there will be but one country, and that country the whole broad teeming earth; when for all there will be but one hope, and that hope the widest heaven. All hail to the coming century which will hold our children and which our children shall inherit.
.- It is an astounding fact that the three States now seeking assistance from the Commonwealth are those which adhered strictly to the Premiers plan. We were told that this plan would produce budgetequilibrium, which would inspire confidence and be followed by the return of prosperity. If South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania have done all that was expected of them under this plan, and have achieved budget equilibrium, why do they need these grants? Honorable members, have this afternoon -claimed that assistance was given to New South Wales. The fact is that the Lang Government was not prepared to send out of the State money required- to provide for the needs of the people of New South Wales; but the representatives of other States in this Parliament supported a measure intended to force the people of New South Wales to provide revenues out of which grants could be made to so-called necessitous States. The reasons advanced in justification of these grant bills have not convinced me. Some members have merely attempted to give good testimonials to their respective States, so that they might get from the Commonwealth the maximum amount of assistance. Some of the disabilities mentioned may be real, but others are probably imaginary. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) said that the expansion of the primary industries would be the quickest means of regaining prosperity, but statistics prove that, although primary production has increased during the last few years, the number of persons employed has decreased. Therefore, if we are looking to the primary industries to solve the problem of unemployment, we shall be sadly disappointed. Tariffs I regard as a. necessary evil, because they are required to protect the young industries that are being developed. I have no sympathy with many of those controlling the manufacturing industries, because while they have been petitioning this Parliament for higher duties, they have been applying to the courts for reductions of wages, the lengthening of hours, and the lowering of labour conditions generally. Nevertheless, I believe that the industries which are now being fostered will one day be operated to supply the wants of the whole of the people, instead of being manipulated by a few for their own profit. We want those industries built up, because some day the people will insist upon their being socially controlled and their products socially distributed. If we can bring that about we shall be rendering some real assistance to the Labour party and the people of Australia. Honorable members have said that we must expand our primary industries. Even if we gave the men on the land an opportunity to increase production, we could not dispose of the surplus. As a matter of fact, we to-day have the greatest difficulty in finding markets for our primary products. The following extract from the Sun of the 28th August last is an instance of what is being done in other countries to dispose of their surplus production : -
What grain is to Canada, meat to the Argentine, wine to Hungary - a valueless treasure, an unsellable ware,is coffee to Brazil.
Brazil produces three-quarters of the world’s total coffee harvest. This over-production is the cause of more trouble to Brazil than the actual growing of the commodity itself.
Brazil must get rid of her excess of coffee, in order that nothing- may stand in the way of the new crop every July. Up till now, 12,000,000 sacks of coffee beans have been dumped in the Atlantic, burnt on the plantations, reduced to ashes in the furnaces of Rio’s gasworks.
Every day a ship laden up to her decks with coffee heads for the open sea, opens a scuttle, and all this priceless commodity disappears in the water.
O ver-Production Cause.
In Canada the grain just frizzles up, in the Argentine the meat becomes foul, in Hungary a. village badly off for water puts out afire with wine, and in Brazil millions and millions of sacks of coffee are destroyed.
Thousands of labourers shovel the coffee into sacks, cart it to the ships and to the furnaces. If one asks one of these casual workers if he’s got a job, one gets a tragi-comica answer: “ Yes, so long as the depression lasts, I can find work; but who knows if I’ll have any broad when things are normal again!”’
The sea around Rio de Janeiro suffers from coffee-poisoning. From Santos the smoke of burning coffee spreads to invisible distances, and in the fuel manufactories they spray the coffee “ mounts “ with creosote to makethem unconsumable.
And on the other side of the globe millions of people starve!
That statement shows how impossible it would be to give effect to the suggestion of the honorable member for Wide Bay that these grants to the various States should be expended in developing our rural industries, so that we may once more be placed on the road to prosperity. It would be exceedingly difficult to dispose of any increase in our primary production, particularly when other countries are finding it necessary to destroy their surplus production so as to maintain a profitable market. Many honorable members advocate the expenditure of this money on what they term profitable employment. What is profitable employment? There is plenty of room for the provision of work in Australia to-day. People are crying out for employment, and they could be employed in providing for the wants of the community generally.
That class of work, of course, would not be profitable to privateinvestors, therefore no Government is prepared to put it in hand. If the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) is carried this money will be well spent in providing work for the unemployed. I realize thatthis grant is merely a palliative. Its object is to alleviate unemployment and not to provide a permanent solution of the problem. This Government is making no real effort to relieve unemployment, and its callous attitude will do more than anything else to convince the Australian workers of the necessity of giving effect to the policy of the Labour party. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) has said that the amendment is logical but impracticable. I should like him to explain how, if the amendment is logical, it can be said to be impracticable. His argument is beyond my understanding altogether. The amendment provides for the application of a definite sum to the relief of unemployment in the various States. I can find no evidence in the budget speech of any intention on the part of the Government to provide money for the alleviation of unemployment. That task is being left entirely to the States, but the Commonwealth Government cannot dispose of its responsibility so easily as that. There is no necessity to hand this money to the State Governments concerned, merely to enable them to balance their budgets, because the Premiers plan provides for budget equilibrium. We must make some effort to assist the unfortunate unemployed. Sympathy is of no use to a starving man. By earmarking this grant for the relief of unemployment, we shall show in a practical manner that we have some regard for the sufferings of the unemployed.
Question - That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Beasley’s amendment) stand part of the question - put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. H. Mackay.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Payment for financial assistance to South Australia).
– Will the Prime Minister explain why these payments are to be made monthly? I think that he should indicate the reason why it is provided that this sum shall be advanced in monthly payments.
– The amount is divided into monthly payments for the convenience of both the Commonwealth and the State. From our point of view it would be unjustifiable to raise and pay the whole amount to the State in one sum, or even to make the payments quarterly, when all that the State requires is to be able to meet its obligations as they accrue from month to month. It would be of no advantage to the State if the whole amount were paid in one sum. A calculation is made of the State’s monthly requirements, and the Commonwealth contributes its proportion, according to the total sum available.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 2nd September (vide page 187), on motion by Mr. Lyons -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– As the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde), in whose name the resumption of the debate stands apparently does not intend to speak to the motion, I move -
That all the words after “ That “ be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words: - “the bill . be withdrawn and redrafted to provide that financial assistance shall be for the sole purpose of relief of unemployment.”
When dealing with the previous measure, which provided for a grant to South Australia, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) quoted some most informative figures regarding the position of Western Australia.- Unemployment is as acute in that State as in South Australia or Tasmania, and there is urgent need for giving assistance to its workers. The answer that the Prime Minister gave to my question as to the reason for paying these moneys monthly was what I expected. As an honorable member interjected, these payments are to be on the. time payment system. The money will go into the general revenues of the State, and will in no whit remedy the evil of unemployment. All the talk from Government members and others regarding the value of these grants in relieving unemployment is entirely answered by the Prime Minister’s reply to my question. It might well be said that to balance the reduction of the Commonwealth revenue that will be caused by these State grants, inroads are to be made upon the scanty incomes of invalid and old-age pensioners and others least able to bear the burden.
The public servants of Western Australia are also to be required to forgo allowances to which they are entitled, so that the Commonwealth may maintain budget equilibrium and pay these grants. In some cases pensioners will lose 2s. 6d. a week; in others they will be entirely deprived of their pensions. Therefore, it is evident that a vicious sort of class taxation is proposed in order to make it possible to pay these State grants. Those who will bear the burden are already suffering severely through the operation of the Financial Emergency Act. My colleagues and I feel ourselves under an obligation constantly to draw attention to that phase of the subject. We feel that this unfortunate section of the community is being forced under the Premiers plan which I have consistently opposed to carry far more than it should of the burden that it is considered must be borne to bring about the rehabilitation of Australia. Our object i3 to divert this money back into the channels whence it comes, the pockets of the poorest section of the community. The explanation of the’ Prime Minister indicates plainly that this money will be used to make interest payments on external debts at a rate greater than that paid to our own people, and much greater than Great Britain pays on her indebtedness. My colleagues and I consider it desirable on every possible occasion to make the facts known, so that the general public may become fully alive to the position, and may know exactly how the Commonwealth Government is juggling its revenues and extorting money from those least able to bear it. We consider that we have shown and proved greater sincerity on these matters than our political opponents. While what we are advocating may not at the moment receive general approval in this House, we regard it as our duty to continue the struggle on behalf of the deserving, in the endeavour to bring about a more equal distribution of the wealth of the country.
It is merely side-tracking the matter to say that the amendment will distract the minds of the people from the problem of unemployment, merely by relieving the Government of real responsibility. If the unemployed of Western Australia have to wait for assistance until we have actually solved the problem, many of them will be dead and in their graves before a solution has been reached. Therefore my colleagues and I will persist in our endeavours to give effect to our ideals of justice and equity in the Commonwealth, and we shall seize every opportunity to help those in the various States who are in need of our help. By denouncing the methods exploited by this and preceding Commonwealth Governments, we hope to focus public attention on the subject, and to obtain some benefit for those whose rights we champion. By the continued expression of our convictions we hope to bring about a change of public opinion regarding the economic affairs of the nation, so that eventually greater justice and equity may prevail.
– I have no desire to delay the passage of this measure, because I wish to have the proposed relief made available, to Western Australia and the other States concerned as quickly as possible. If the desire of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) is to assist the unemployed of Western Australia, his amendment is futile. The outstanding characteristic of the Premier of Western Australia is his determination on every occasion to. expend moneys made available to his State to provide employment for those who are out of work. Especially was that noticeable in connexion with recent amounts made available to Western Australia by the Loan Council. As a matter of fact, the importunity of Sir JamesMitchell may perhaps have created an impression that the amounts allocated to Western Australia are disproportionately generous. The Western Australian Government is completing the expenditure of £290,000, which was its share of the special Common wealth grant of £3,600,000 for the winter relief of unemployment. It is now to have this further sum of £500,000 for budget purposes. According to the budget speech of its Treasurer, the Government of that State proposes to raise additional sums by taxation for the relief of unemployment.
– If adopted, the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney would help.
– It would not. Portions of this amount will be used to relieve unemployment, and other portions as the State Government desires, for it is free to act as it deems fit in the matter. The point is thatunless the money is made available to the Treasurer of Western. Australia to meet his ordinary expenditure, his Government cannot live within the plan which has been subscribed by the States in co-operation, with the Commonwealth. If this money is diverted in any way from the purposes for which it is intended, he will have to effect other economies in public expenditure, which may mean that persons at present employed by the State will be dismissed from their work. It will be seen, therefore, that the amendment cannot possibly help the unemployed,
.- If the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) could have the effect which he has suggested, one might feel that there was some merit in his special pleading for the unemployed; but no one knows bettor than the honorable member himself, and those who support him, that this is an absolutely meaningless gesture. It is, in fact, a political placard designed to lead the members of the Labour party into a political ambush. The attitude of the honorable member for West Sydney and those who support him, is one of gross inconsistency. The Lang Administration of New South Wales, which was supported by the honorable member and his friends, provided an amount equivalent to 5s. 9d. a week for an unemployed adult in Sydney and 7s. 8d. for one in the country. For a man and woman 8s. 9d. was provided in the city, and11s. 9d. in the country. The figures in Western Australia are 7s. for an adult in Perth, as against 5s. 9d. in Sydney, with a maximum of 14s. as against the New South Wales maximum of11s. 9d. I do not contend that any of the amounts are adequate, nor do I hold a brief for the governments concerned. I am merely quoting facts. Further, it is interesting to note that Western Australia is actually spending £600,000 this year on- the relief of unemployment, or £100,000 more than the honorable member is seeking to provide.
The amount being provided for the relief of unemployment in South Australia is exactly the same as that which would have been provided had the honorable member’s amendment to the previous bill been carried. It will be seen, therefore, that the amendments that have been moved to this bill and the previous one are entirely meaningless from the point of view of the unemployed. The deliberate intention behind these amendments is to create the feeling in the public mind in South Australia and Western Australia that the honorable members of this Parliament who belong to the Labour party are not prepared to help the unemployed. The mover of these amendments and his supporters know full well that this is wholly incorrect, and their sole intention is to place Labour men in a false and wholly untrue position. The moving of these amendments, in such circumstances, is entirely contrary to the principles of honesty in politics. The adoption of this subtle method of trying to mislead the suffering people of this community is the basest form of political treachery.
– Cheers from the Government benches !
– That interjection is grossly misleading. Government supporters have no reason to cheer, nor do I desire their commendation. I certainly do not expect cheers from the honorable member or his supporters, but one might at least expect them to be sincere in their profession of interest in the unemployed. It might also be expected that there would be some substance and meaning behind this amendment, but that is not the ease. This kind of sham fighting and of makebelieve is nothing more than a parading of the worst form of politics. It is not creditable to the honorable gentleman responsible for it, nor to his supporters, and it certainly will not afford any relief to the people who are being used as a justification for it.
– The honorable member is apologizing.
– I have no need to apologize for my actions, but certain honorable gentlemen in the corner have done nothing but apologize since their advent to this House. The honorable member for West Sydney is not doing a service to the unemployed, but is merely seeking to further a miserable political end. He is striving to destroy a great Australian political movement. Let me remind him and the public, that he and his supporters assisted last year to defeat a Labour government which did more for the unemployed than any other administration, and they must accept the responsibility for their actions. I do not desire any political patronage or support from the honorable gentleman, and I am satisfied to leave him to answer to the public for his share of responsibility for the occupation of the Government benches by the party opposite. The people will know how reliable are hie professions of political honesty to the unemployed. It is time he was unmasked, to stand before the workers as he really is.
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order ! I must ask honorable members sitting on the Government side of the House not to interject. Every honorable member is entitled to be heard in silence. I must also ask certain honorable members onmy left not to make a demonstration.
Mr.ROSEVEAR (Dalley) [10.9]. - I shall not speak at any length, but the remarks of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) have introduced into the debate a spirit which was not in it earlier. He talked about a “political ambush “, “ subtle methods “, and so on. If there is a political ambush the honorable member has led himself into it.
– I must ask the honorable member for Dalley to confine his remarks to the motion or the amendment.
– I thought I might be allowed some latitude in replying to the attack that has been made upon my party.
– On consideration, I think the honorable member will realize that if the debate is allowed to continue in this strain it will lead us nowhere. I must ask him to confine his remarks to the motion or the amendment.
– I rise to a point of order. In moving my amendment I confined myself strictly to the matter before the Chair; but the honorable member for Hindmarsh has made a definite attack upon me, to which the Standing Orders will not permit me to reply. In these circumstances tit would seem to be fair that another member of my party should be allowed to reply.
– The Standing Orders will not permit the continuance of these recriminations. I would have called the honorable member for Hindmarsh to order had he continued to speak in the strain that he had adopted. I cannot allow any further latitude in that direction.
– The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) “said that the amendment was inconsistent with the motive which the honorable member for “West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) advanced as the reason for moving it, and that if it were carried it could not do anything to relieve unemployment. I submit that in view of the fact that it is Commonwealth money which is being voted, this Parliament is entitled to determine the manner in which it shall be spent, just as in the unemployment relief measures passed earlier this session, it determined the way in which the money then granted must be spent. That is really what this amendment seeks to do. If the Government of Western Australia intends to spend on the relief of unemployment the amount mentioned by the Prime Minister, the carrying of this amendment will add £500,000 to that sum. If there are reproductive works that could be put in hand in Western Australia, the State Government could no doubt make good use of this additional amount. We’ are not seeking to ambush any honorable member. If an honorable member in an early stage of the debate on this subject saw fit to support the Government, and afterwards realized the logic of the amendment, we cannot help it. Apparently that has happened, and the honorable member concerned, finding that he cannot t any longer justify his support of the Government, seeks to protect himself by attacking the logic of the amendment, aud the honesty of the party responsible for it.
There was one point that I hoped that the Prime Minister would clear up, but he made no reference to it. We have been told that this money will be spent in monthly instalments. The .right honorable gentleman referred vaguely to the basis on which .these grants were made, but did not disclose the actual way in which they were arrived at- Lt “appears that some honorable -members are prepared to -vote in favour of grants irrespective of how the amount of them is determined; but that is not our position. We are not leading either the Government or the Opposition into an ambush. If there is an, ambush, the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) is responsible for it. He feels ‘that he must support the making of these grants in order that the Premiers plan, for which he was responsible, may not be a failure in South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania. He is not concerned about .the plight of the unemployed, so long as the plan does not fail. He created the plan, and if there is a political ambush, it is he who is leading his party into it. It is of no -use for him or hrs followers to say that we are hypocritical in moving this amendment. The fact is that some honorable members ora this side of the chamber are still prepared to support the man who has abandoned every Labour principle for which he ever stood. This gentleman is supporting the Government in making grants for the financial assistance of these States, because, in doing so, he is assisting to carry out the plan which he himself formulated. If these States were not helped in this way they would be financially embarrassed ‘ and the plan would be discredited. If this amendment is an ambush, it is one into which honorable members have led themselves. There seems to be a great similarity in the methods and opinions of the official Opposition and the Government, in dealing with the subject of unemployment. This Government proposes to vote £1,800,000 to provide certain States with financial assistance, and, of that sum, £1,100,000 is to be taken out of the pockets of the old-age pensioners.
– That is a wicked lie.
– I require the honor-, able member for Barton (Mr. Lane) to withdraw that expression, and to hesitate before again employing such an unparliamentary term.
– I withdraw it.
– Since the money to be provided under this bill is to be taken from the old-age pensioners, the least the Government can do is to see that it is spent in relieving unemployment, and such expenditure should be supplementary to the amount to be directly provided to assist .the unemployed. I throw back in the teeth of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) his talk of treachery. He follows an element in the Labour movement that has proved treacherous to everything for which it has stood.
– I support the amendment, because action must at once be taken to relieve unemployment. It has been stated that the amendment is meaningless, and that its object is to lead the official Opposition into an ambush. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) lauded Sir James Mitchell, the Premier of Western Australia.
– I did not mention his name.
– The honorable member suggested that the unemployed in Western Australia, under the Mitchell regime, were better off than the unemployed in New South Wales. He went to great pains to quote the scale of dole payments there. Let me inform the honorable member that, in addition to the dole, New South Wales pays child endowment of os., a concession not enjoyed by the residents of other States. Only last month it was stated in the press that the unemployed in concentration camps in Western. Australia had experienced such deplorable conditions that they had broken camp, “ jumped “ a train, and marched on Perth. This shows that they must have been discontented. I quite recognize that a certain amount of support must be given by the Opposition to the Government. When the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Latham) were sitting in opposition to the Scullin Government, they assisted in the passage of legislation to reduce pensions and wages. By the amendment, the group to which I have the honour to belong is showing its desire to help the unemployed section of the community. The present Government has been in office for over ten months, and we have never had a full-dress debate in this chamber on unemployment. The last Government was going to usher in the millennium; but it fell down on its job. It certainly created hardship, and showed the party then in opposition how to get revenue from the old-age pensioners. The honorable member for Hindmarsh is now, apparently, prepared to follow the Government “like dumb, driven cattle,” although, according to a press report, he was to have supported the amendment submitted by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). To-day he is “ back pedalling,” just as his party has been retreating from the policy of the Australian Labour Party ever since it took office in 1929.
– The honorable member must not continue to disregard the authority of the Chair. I have made it clear that honorable members must not discuss matters irrelevant to the bill.
– I hope that members of the Opposition will be true to their hustings pledge to assist the unemployed. They now have an opportunity to honour their promise.
– Let the honorable member tell the people the truth, instead of indulging in a lot of humbug.
– The honorable member will have to explain in Hindmarsh why he voted against this amendment.
– I shall explain the honorable member’s gross inconsistency and humbug.
– The honorable member had better explain what landed him in a job when I attacked the Bruce-Page Government. I shall be back in this chamber when a number of members of the present official Opposition have been relegated to the limbo of forgotten things. The Government has inflicted hardship on the unemployed in Canberra by throwing them out of No. 4 camp and dragging them before the court. That is the way in which this Government shows its sympathy with the unemployed. The Minister for the Interior permitted the Canberra police to throw men out of the camp to which they had gone for shelter from the wintry blasts.
– Order !
– It is a disgrace for any government that professes to be humane-
-The position of the unemployed at Canberra has nothing to «lo with the proposal that the bill should be withdrawn to. enable money to be found for the relief of unemployed in Perth.
– The people were told that the establishment of a federal government would result in economy, because it would do away with the duplication of the cost of administration ; but it is said that it will always be necessary to make grants to certain States. The money allocated from time to time should be expended in the provision of employment, yet the so-called Labour party is not prepared, in the present instance, to support such a proposal. -
– It is refreshing to find that honorable members who claim specially to represent the unemployed in New South Wales are not concerned this evening about the unemployed in that State, but are taking a long-range view; they desire to look after the unemployed in Western Australia! I am as much a Labour man to-day as when, at the ago of sixteen, I joined the movement. Members of the Labour party know the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) quite well, and I do not intend to be provoked by his mis-statements ; but I point out the inconsistency of the amendment, iu that it overlooks the claims of the unemployed in New South Wales. Unfortunately, unemployment is to bo found throughout the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) has presented irrefutable figures showing that in Western Australia, even under a Nationalist Government, the allowance paid to the unemployed is higher than it was in New South Wales under the Lang administration. The workers in New South Wales must have objected to the Lang regime, or otherwise Mr. Lang would have been in office to-day. Grants have been made to Western Australia year after year. Commission after commission has investigated the disabilities of Western Australia - one was appointed by the Commonwealth Government - and their findings show con clusively that whilst the eastern States may have benefited from the policy of high protection, Western Australia has been at a disadvantage. The people of the eastern States cannot be expected to abandon the fiscal system which they believe has been helpful to their industries, but to compensate the Western Australian people for their disabilities, grants have been made by this Parliament for several years. The honorable members who are supporting the amendment would have the House believe that their purpose is to add the proposed grant to the £600,000 which- the Western Australian Government is providing for the relief of unemployment. I remind them that charity begins at home. If they will look after the unemployed in New South Wales, we who represent Western Australia will attend to the needs of our own people.
.- The amendment has engendered a surprising amount of heat, but I can appreciate the feelings of some supposedly Labour members of this chamber. We have been told that it ill becomes those of us who represent New South Wales to show any regard for the unemployed in Western Australia, but when supposedly Labour members from that State have no concern for the unemployed there, somebody else must go to their assistance. The attitude of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) is’ shown by his remark, “We are already providing £600,000 for the relief of unemployment in Western Australia “. We! Sir James Mitchell and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie working together in the one party ! The amendment affords an opportunity to honorable members to help the unemployed, but, unfortunately, many of them speak iri one strain outside the House and in a different strain inside. They are afraid, not of the amendment, but of the division upon it, because it will reveal to the unemployed in Western Australia that their representatives in thi, Parliament are not doing the work which they were sent here to do. The honorable member- for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) said that the unemployed in New South Wales’ were not provided for as liberally by the Lang
Government as arc the unemployed in Western Australia by a Nationalist government. The present Government, supported by members of the Opposition, declared that the unemployed in Now South Wales were being provided for too liberally, and when the enforcement legislation was before this Parliament the members of the Opposition said that they supported the principle of making New South Wales pay what it owed t.c the bondholder, but disagreed with the methods proposed to be adopted. Lang wanted to keep the interest in New South Wales to provide for the unemployed, instead of sending it to bondholders oversea. Members of the Opposition in this Parliament said that they did not approve of that, and supported the Government in seizing the revenues of the State. The honorable members for Hindmarsh and Kalgoorlie have spoken of political treachery. The former spoke at a public meeting in support of a “scab” Labour candidate during the East Sydney byelection. He advised the Labour sympathizers to give their second preferences to the Nationalist candidate.
– To an endorsed Labour candidate.
– A perusal of the preferences given to members of the party to which the honorable member belongs will disclose who were the real Labour candidates at the last general election. lt will show also the association of the present Government with the members of the Opposition. The honorable member for Cook (M’r. E. Riley), for instance, owes his position in this Parliament to the preferences given to him by Nation ali st supporrters.
– Order ! The honorable member must not continue this recrimination.
– The purpose of the amendment moved by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) is to do something to assist the unfortunate unemployed in Western Australia. If honorable members who scoff at us wish to test our sincerity, I invite them to vote for the amendment. The Prime Minister stated that if the proposed grant to Western Australia were earmarked for the relief of unemployment, the State Government would have to utilize for other purposes the money it had provided for unemployment relief. Western Australia is one of the States that agreed to the Premiers plan, which provided for the achievement of budget equilibrium. Surely it is not suggested that the budgets of these States which have given effect to that plan are to be balanced at the expense of other States. The Prime Minister says that if this * grant is earmarked for a special purpose other men will be added to the ranks of the unemployed, but if the State is to balance its budget .in order to give effect to the Premiers plan, it will have to economize sooner or later. The increasing of the grants to Western Australia and other States is proof that tha Premiers plan is not operating successfully. Any government could balance its budget by borrowing or obtaining grants. If honorable members desire to assist the unemployed other than by mere words, I suggest that they afford us ara opportunity to carry the amendment.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) has made available to me (he following particulars of the relief given to the unemployed in the various States : -
New South Wales - Adult: Sydney, 5s. 9d. ; country, 7s. 8d.; mau and wife: Sydney, Ss. 9d.; country, Us. 9d.
Victoria. - Adults, (ls.; man and wife, 9s.
Queensland. - Adult, 10s.; man and wife, 14s. fid.
South Australia. - Adult, 5s. 3d.; man and wife, 10s.
Western Australia. - Adult, 7s.; man and wife, 14s.; destitute fanners, 7s. to 10s.; caretakers of temporarily abandoned farms, 10s.
Tasmania. - Man and wife, Us. 9d.
How small are these payments in comparison with those in great Britain ! There a single man receives 15s. and a woman 13s., and with that money he or she can buy Australian meat, flour, butter, sugar, dried fruits, &c, more cheaply and of better average quality than such things can be bought in this country. The amendment proposed by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) declares that the bill be withdrawn, and be redrafted to provide that the financial assistance given to the State of Western Australia shall be for the sole purpose of the relief of unemployment. During my 43 years of political life I have never failed to support the claims of the unemployed. I have on many previous occasions voted against combined parties on the question . unemployment. I shall support any amendment, no matter who moves it, which is designed to relieve the unemployed. That has been my policy for 43 years and I will not change it now. It has been said that a portion of this money which is being allocated to Western Australia has already been spent by that State. Nevertheless I shall vote for the amendment because, by earmarking this money for the relief of the unemployed, we shall make certain that more of it is used for that purpose. When the bill is in committee, I shall move to amend clause 2 by adding the following proviso : -
Provided that the sum of £500,000 shall be paid in silver currency, which would amount to £1,833,333 in silver coinage at1s.6d. per ounce; and provided also that the Commonwealth Government charge 2 per cent. and so save the State of Western Australia from the necessity of financial assistance under Section 96 of the Constitution.
Question - That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Beasley’s amendment) stand part of the question - put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon G. H. Mackay.)
Majority . . . . 46
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Payment for financial assistance to Western Australia).
– I move -
That at the end of the clause the following proviso be added -
Provided that the sum of £500,000 shall be paid in silver currency which would amount to £1,833,333 in silver coinage at 1s.6d. per ounce; and provided also that the Commonwealth Government charge 2 per cent. and so save the State of Western Australia from the necessity of financial assistance under section 96 of the Constitution.
When speaking on the second reading of the bill I foreshadowed this amendment, and gave what I consider to be adequate reasons for its acceptance by honorable members.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a. third time.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) agreed to by an absolute majority of the members of the House -
That Standing Order No. 70 be suspended for this sitting.
Debate resumed from . 2nd September (vide page 187), onmotion by Mr. Lyons -
That the bill be now read a secondtime.
. I move -
That all the words after “ That “ be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “the bill be withdrawn and redrafted to provide that financial assistance shall be for the sole purpose of relief of unemployment.”
If I may be permitted briefly to repeat myself, I point out that the position of Tasmania in regard to unemployment is similar to that of South Australia and Western Australia. My colleagues and I feel, therefore, that we should take every opportunity to render every assistancepossible to that section of the community.
– In other words the honorable member wants to direct the action of those States.
– On many occasions I have heard it stated in this chamber that the institution which” provides money should have at least some say in the manner in which it is expended. I know that if the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) were in the same position as the Commonwealth, he would be the first to demand to know in what way the money was to be spent. There is a tendency on the part of some honorable members to claim that representatives in this Parliament are competent to speak only on behalf of the State they represent, and that it is not within our province to express an opinion regarding Commonwealth action in respect of other States. That contention will not stand a moment’s investigation. It is remarkable to me that any honorable member should endeavour to draw a distinction in the matter. I am certain that the thousands of unemployed in my electorate will approve my action with regard to Tasmania and the other States, because it conforms with their ideas of comradeship. I contend that an unemployed person in Tasmania is just as much entitled to our assistance as an unemployed individual in New South Wales; both are composed of flesh and blood, and are our fellow men and women. I have always been taught in the’ Labour movement that the boundaries that separate State from State - mere arbitrary lines - make no difference in our responsibilities one to the other or to the part we should play in moulding national affairs to the best advantage. That teaching influences me when I submit this amendment.
Experience teaches that those who prate much of their honesty are most to be suspected. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Collins) told us, a few months back, of a saying that was current when he was a boy, “ If your neighbour quotes scripture, brand your calves early.” I have never advanced the claim that my honesty of purpose transcends that of any other honorable member, and though I might violently disagree with other honorable members, I am just enough to credit them with sincerity of motive. I have dealt with these problems frankly and honestly, in an endeavour to evolve a solution. The cheap criticism in which the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) indulged, impugning my honesty of purpose, is unworthy of notice. I am confident that honorable members will agree that, when dealing with these measures, I have refrained from making personal references.” I do not propose to stoop now to the tactics adopted by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. I prefer to leave the merits of our respective endeavours to be gauged by those who are really concerned. ‘
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) said that every opportunity should be taken to bring prominently before the people and this Parliament the problem of unemployment. My colleagues and I have done our utmost in that regard, and I hope that, in our humble way, we have done something to assist the workers of Tasmania. In any case, our obvious sincerity of purpose should make it evident that, every time the opportunity presents itself in this Parliament, to do .something on behalf of the unemployed of Australia, we have seized it, and if one day we have the power to give effect to our proposals, we shall not be found wanting.
.- I quite realize that there was a general understanding that there should be one comprehensive second-reading debate on the three State grant measures, and I do not wish to delay proceedings. However, misleading statements have been made during the debate,, some of which I desire to correct. In my second-reading speech, I stated that the coastal clauses of the Navigation Act had operated to the great disadvantage of Tasmania, and I supported my contention by reading extracts from the reports of the Public Accounts Committee. In an endeavour to take me to task the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) also quoted from a report but, unwittingly or otherwise, he was unfair, as lie quoted the synopsis of a recommendation of a royal commission of 1924, and left it to be inferred that I had misled honorable members. The words quoted by the honorable member were -
The other three commissioners arrived at the conclusion that the Navigation Act had not affected tlie tourist traffic or inflicted injury on Tasmanian industries, also that it had not retarded the development or affected the financial position of the State.
That commission was composed of seven members, two of whom were the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) and the ex-member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook), who stated definitely that Tasmania had suffered serious disabilities because of the operation of coastal clauses of the Navigation Act, the repeal of which they recommended. “Ex-Senator Duncan and the late Senator H. E. Elliott concurred in that view. The three commissioners who recommended no alteration were the present honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey), the 0-member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates), and the late Senator McHugh. No evidence could convince those gentlemen of the necessity of amending the Navigation Act, as they were what might be regarded as militant labourites, eternally opposed to any such action. It is but fair that I should state the opinion of the Public Accounts Committee on this matter. It was as follows : - it was also recognized that the rise in coastal freights and curtailment of services might be largely an inevitable consequence of world shipping conditions in which the Navigation Act had played hut a small part. The fact remained, however, that increased freights and the curtailment of services fell with special severity on Tasmanian production. It –as stated in evidence that in a memorandum submitted to the royal commission on the Constitution by Professors J. li. Brigden and Ji. F. Giblin, the following appears: -
We cannot make the annual cost of protection through the Navigation Act less than 10s. per head of Tasmanian population.
The actual recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee on this point reads as follows: -
That Tasmania, owing to her predominant interest in interstate trade hears a disproportionate share of the cost which the maintenance of an Australian mercantile marine involves.
The implication of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) wa3 unfair, misleading, and entirely incorrect.
.- The quotation I made was given word for word as it appeared in the report of the Public Accounts Committee. Even assuming that the statement of the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Guy) is correct, and that the quotation was from a previous report by a royal commission, the position of the honorable member is not strengthened, nor is he helped by his accusation of political bias against certain members of the royal commission. Only two members of the Public Accounts Committee held the views of the honorable member for Bass on this subject.
– That is incorrect.
– In any ease, it is hardly likely that the Public Accounts Committee would have embodied in its report a statement from the report of a royal commission unless it was in substantial agreement with it. It cannot be denied that five members of the committee were of the opinion that Tasmania was not suffering the disabilities she claimed in consequence of the operation of the Navigation Act. I quoted the report word for word. On a subject like this we must be guided by those who have made the fullest inquiry. I cannot believe that the Public Accounts Committee would have made use of the quotation from the royal commission’s report unless it was in agreement with it.
Question - That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Beasley’s amendment) stand part of the question - put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. H. Mackay.)
Majority . . . . 43
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Second Parliamentary Reporter: Retirement of Mr.w. Admans - Embargo on Glass.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn..
I take the opportunity of calling the attention of honorable members to the fact that Mr. W. Admans, of the Parliamentary Reporting Staff, is to-day severing his association with the Public Service. He joined the Parliamentary Reporting Staff upon its foundation 32 years ago, and has therefore been associated with the Commonwealth Parliament since its inception. Prior to his appointment he had been for some years the leading political reporter on the Melbourne Age, and had had considerable newspaper experience. He has been continuously employed in the chamber of the House of
Representatives, and in that of the Senate from the beginning of federation; and for the past nine years has been in charge of the reports of the proceedings in another place. He has served the Commonwealth faithfully and well. All honorable members have had occasion to appreciate his efficiency, and the courtesy that he has always shown us. I am sure that I am expressing the opinion of every honorable member when 1 say that upon his retirement, after so long a period of service, we wish him well, and hope forhis future happiness.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
– I cordially endorse the remarks of the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Latham). Mr. Admans has a long and honorable record in the service of the Commonwealth Parliament. I, have had experience of him for many years. With other honorable members, I think that I have imposed upon him many tests, and I can testify to his undoubted ability, his great capacity, and his remarkable endurance. He has earned a very high reputation as the result of his worthy service in a responsible and exacting position. He has completed his long career of service with credit to himself by reason of his outstanding ability. His undoubted impartiality and sound judgment have won for him the respect and confidence of every honorable member who has sat in this Parliament since the inception of federation. My experience of Mr. Admans has been similar to that of other honorable members. It has been of the most pleasant nature, and I sincerely regret that our association with him is now about to terminate ; but wherever he goes I wish him well. He leaves behind an enviable record in the valuable work that he has done, and he will carry with him the esteem, respect and goodwill of all honorable members with whom he has long and faithfully served.
– I desire to add a few words to those of the Attorney General (Mr. Latham) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) regarding Mr. Admans. Although I have known him only since I entered this Parliament in 1928, I have found him most courteous and obliging in every possible way. He possesses a pleasing manner and a genial disposition. I speak from experience of occasions when I have had dealings with him in connexion with the reports of the debates. He has always been ready to go out of his way to make the lot of honorable members as agreeable as possible. When a member enters this House for the first time, he experiences a number of difficulties in his efforts to serve his constituents ; but whenever I have conferred with Mr. A dm aus regarding my speeches, 1 have always found him ready to meet my wishes as far as possible. Although he has reached the age at which he is required by the rules of the Public Service to sever his connexion with the Parliament, I wish him long life, and much happiness in the company of his family and his friends.
– Honorable members of the Country party desire to associate themselves with all that has been said regarding Mr. Admans. We recognize his ability and courtesy, and we feel that we are indebted to him for the great service that he has rendered to this Parliament.
– As one of the executive officers of the Parliament, I am very pleased that the leaders of the various parties have spoken in commendation of Mr. ‘Admans, who retires from the Commonwealth service to-day. I have seen a great deal of the members of the Hansard staff during my 16 years in Parliament, and I have frequently come into contact with Mr. Admans. He was one of the original members of the Federal Ronsard staff, which was established at the inception of the Commonwealth on a federal basis, one reporter being chosen from each of the States. Mr. Admans was selected from Victoria. I am sure that all honorable members will join in wishing him long, life, good health, and all the happiness that can come to him.
– I desire to add to the encomiums offered by the leaders of the various parties. 1 knew Mr. Admans before he entered the service of this Parliament 32 years ago. When he was a member of the reporting staff of the Melbourne Age, he was as courteous as he is to-day. I formed a firm friendship for him, and I have found him straight in every sense of the word. He has always carried out his duties unswervingly, and has been ready to assist honorable members who, like myself, sometimes make mistakes. I recall one instance of his courage. He was appointed to act as reporter to the Pearling Commission, of which Mr. Frederick Bamford was chairman. The day after the ‘ vessel on which the commission travelled left Thursday Island, a case of small-pox was discovered on board. Mr. Admans and the late Mr. McGregor, who was subsequently Clerk of the House of Representatives. were sharing the cabin which the patient had occupied between Hong Kong and Thursday Island, and they had sufficient courage to permit themselves to be vaccinated for testing purposes with Japanese and American lymph. Excellent results were obtained. The late Senator Givens, Mr. Bamford, and I were foolish enough to’ try some Australian lymph which was obtained at Cooktown, and it proved to be nothing but filth. I was afraid that Senator Givens would lose his life. He had a temperature of 104.4 degrees. Mr. Bamford’s temperature rose to% 103.6, and my own was .102.2. We were much alarmed over the condition of Senator Givens, and personally, because of my own suffering, I had never been so bad tempered in my life as I was on that occasion. I mention this merely to show the courage displayed on that occasion, in order that it might be determined which lymph would give the best results. Mr. Admans has been an officer of this Parliament for many years. He and I are dear friends, and I am glad of this opportunity to extend to him this greeting. I feel sure that other honorable members join with me iri sending heartfelt greetings to our beloved friend, and in the hope that he may continue to enjoy life in some other sphere. May his health remain with him so that he may go even a greater distance on life’s journey than I have yet reached.
.- I regret that the rules of the House precluded me this afternoon from dealing with a subject which is of great importance. I have just received a telegram based on a notification appearing in the Commonwealth Gazette that an embargo has been placed upon the importation of glass. The telegram reads -
Thoroughly “representative meeting of glass merchants in Western Australia held to-day decided enter emphatic protest against vacillating action of Federal Government in prohibiting entrance of sheet glass into Australia except with Minister’s consent for following reasons, firstly sheet glass is urgently required, secondly Australian manufacturers have been and still are unable supply merchants requirements in quanity or quality. Their representative states glass only admissible with Minister’s approval under per mit. Prior to prohibitive proclamation merchants had cabled orders overseas for supplies in accordance with Parliament’s decision and some are now on water. Owing dependence on Australian glass, manufacturers promises to deliver, merchants imported very little during period mentioned under permit conditions and some merchants through mistaken loyalty to Australian manufacturers would not be able to import. Merchants require protection against unsatisfactory conditions which render trading practically impossible and particularly request that any glass arriving by first December be admitted us originally gazetted. This is copy telegram sent Minister for Customs.
Angell, Chairman Meeting Glass
Merchants, care Millars Timber and
Trading Co., Perth.
A similar telegram has been despatched to
I lie Minister by the glass and other merchants in Perth. I do not wish to refer to the action taken in connexion with the importation of glass during the past two years, but it is well known that ihe Australian industry, which is supposed lo be engaged in the manufacture of glass, has also been importing large supplies. It would bs interesting to know if this firm has been able to import supplies while that right has been denied to others. The Prime Minister stated to-day ihi.it this action has been taken to enable an investigation to be made; but I contend that an investigation should bc made before such an onerous burden is placed upon private enterprise. Surely the duty imposed, plus the high rate of exchange, provides sufficient protection to those engaged in the industry. It would appear that big business has too much to say in these matters; I should like the Minister to explain why it is necessary to place an embargo upon importations.
– The alterations in the duty on glass, were proposed in this chamber as a result of the recommenda tions of the Tariff Bo’ard. That proposal was made, in accordance with the general policy of the Government, to follow in broad outline the recommendations of the board. After tlie proposal had been placed before the House, it was said on behalf of the manufacturers - and the statements were confirmed to a real extentby inquiries made on behalf of the Government - that difficulties in manufacture which had impeded the production of glass of good quality and insufficient quantity to supply the Australian market, had been overcome. For a long time the company had been striving towards success in manufacture; there had been many disappointments, but these, it was said, had recently been overcome. The report of the Tariff Board was made ou the basis of evidence given in and before June last. The company has from time to time made promises which have not been carried out, and the Government bore that in mind in dealing with the recommendations of the board. When, however, upon independent and impartial reports, the customs officers had ascertained that there was at least some foundation for the statement made on. behalf of the company that it was able to produce glass of a quality and in’ sufficient quantities to supply the Commonwealth at a price which was in effect as low as glass had ever been sold in the Commonwealth, the Government considered that, it was proper to allow this large Australian enterprise an opportunity to place its views and facts before the Tariff Board. Accordingly, an. intimation to that effect was published. At the same time, the Government was informed that large importations of glass were being made. As it was not part of the policy of the Government to allow the Commonwealth to be flooded with importations of glass, if it were possible for an Australian enterprise to produce, in adequate quantities, glass of the proper quality, at a price as low as that of imported glass, a change was effected.
– Within a week.
– On the facts reported to the Government. Accordingly the Government has adopted tha wise course of limiting the importations of glass to what is necessary for Australian consumption, at the same time affording the Australian enterprise, which employs a large amount of labour and represents the investment of considerable money, an opportunity to bring before the Tariff Board the evidence which the company says it has to prove that the statements made on its behalf are correct. If those statements should be proved accurate - and they never even approximated to accuracy until the last week or two - it will be proper to afford protection to the industry. If, on the other hand, the statements are proved to be incorrect, a new situation will arise which will have to be dealt with in the light of the facts finally ascertained.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following answers to questions on notice were circulated: -
League of Nations - Overseas Delegations
The expenditure in former years is shown in the Estimates under Prime Minister’s Department - Miscellaneous Services. 2 and 3. See No.1.
Issue of Stamps
In view of the vast number of unused stamps that are being amassed by enthusiastic collectors, is it the intention of the Minister to advise the Government to bring in legislation to enact a statute of limitation for such unused stamps; if so, to what number of years is it proposed to limit the usefulness, of such unused stamps?
Mr.Fenton. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. So far the department has not arranged to supply the gecaphone or any other recently introduced hand-combination telephone to its telephone subscribers, and is, therefore, not concerned with the cost of the instruments or any profit which may bo derived by the suppliers.
Canberra Trade Restrictions
Is it the intention of his department to have printed the report of Mr. H. W. Gepp on trade between Australia and the Far
East, so that it may have more extensive circulation amongst people in Australia who are interested in extending Eastern trade?
Rented Premises at Canberra.
For how much longer does the Government anticipate having to rent offices at Civic Centre, Canberra, at the rate of £325 per mouth ?
The sum of £39,390 would have been provided for 1932-33 if the Financial Emergency Act had not been in operation.
On the 15th September, the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Riley) asked the following questions, upon notice : -
Will the Prime Minister supply a return showing the following: -
The total salaries and wages account of the Commonwealth Public Service for the years ended 30th June, 1929,1 930, 1931, and 1932, respectively?
The total amount paid in extraneous staff payments, including child endowment, in the Public Service for the years mentioned?
The total number of (a) permanent employees, and (b) temporary and exempt employees, in the Public Service at the 30th June, 1930: 30th June, 1931, and 30th June, 1 932, respectively ?
The Public Service Board has now furbished the following information: -
The amounts shown are those payable as at the closing date of each year so far as the permanent officers are concerned, and, therefore, do not necessarily represent the amounts actually paid during the whole of the year.
Child endowment relates to permanent officers only. Information is not readily availableas to the amounts paid to temporary and exempt employees. Child endowment payments are also included in the figures given in answer to part 1. above.
The board advises that the figures as at 30th June, 1932, are subject to final revision, but may he accepted as practically correct.
What are the names and addresses of the agents of the Queensland Government, from whom sugar may be purchased in accordance with the provisions of the sugar agreement, in the “main distributing” centres of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Fremantle, Hobart, and Launceston, in pursuance of clause (f) of the sugar agreement.
In view of the continued parlous condition of the wheat-growers of Australia, does the Government intend to give a bounty on the current crop, to enable the growers to obtain at least the cost of production?
Selling Prices of Australian Butter
As Acting Minister for Commerce, I am now in a position to furnish the following answers to the honorable member’s questions : -
In the case of Queensland prices are controlled by a butter pool established under the Queensland State Marketing Act. The operations of the pool frequently enable a higher price to be maintained on the local market than is obtained in the southern States. By arrangement within the industry the Western Australian market has been controlled by the New South Wales market over a long period, and is protected in maintaining the Sydney price by the freight rates on any butter which may by shipped from the eastern States. There is very little surplus butter available at present for export from New South Wales, and consequently, the price in that State is not affected by the ruling London parity price. Victoria, however, has a large exportable surplus, and the price in that State is subject to the ruling London parity price. As Victoria is at present the largest producing State, the values in South Australia and Tasmania are influenced by the existing Victorian prices.
Commonwealth Offices, Brisbane
I am now in a position to advise him as follow: -
Resident Minister in London.
I am now in a position to furnish the following reply : -
London has not involved the Commonwealth in any expense that would not have been incurred if a High Commissioner had been appointed on the retirement of Sir Granville Ryrie. On the contrary, the arrangement has led to a saving.
Holdings of Taxpayers
Will be furnish a statement showing the number of taxpayers in each State holding land with unimproved value of - (a) over £1,000,000, (b) £700,001 to £1,000,000, (c) £500,001 to £700,000, and (d) £200,001 to £500,000?
The information desired is set out in the following statement : -
Increments of Postal Employees
Is ita fact th at a number of postal employees who were due for increments as from the 1st July last have not yet been paid the increase; if so, will be inform the House why these payments have been delayed, and whether it is possible for all such moneys duo to bo paid on the next regular pay-day?
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member as follows: -
The payment of increments was necessarily deferred pending parliamentary approval of the Estimates. There was unfortunately in sufficient time to effect payments by the 16th September, but special efforts have been made to ensure payment as far as practicable in all cases by the 30th September.
House adjourned at 11.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 September 1932, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1932/19320928_reps_13_135/>.