House of Representatives
18 May 1933

13th Parliament · 1st Session

Division 6. - Metals and Machinery.

Item180, postponed sub-item (i) (Dry batteries and dry cells).

Mr. WHITE (Balaclava- Minister for Trade and Customs) [12 midnight]. - The Tariff Board has recently inquired into the manufacture of dry batteries. This industry has grown considerably, and now employs hundreds of workmen. At first, the quality of the Australian product was not all that was desired, but the fact is now realized that most of the locally-made batteries, being of more recent manufacture, are superior to the imported. The Tariff Board pointed out, however, that high profits are made in the industry, and recommended that the duties should be reduced.

Mr. Hollo way. - Those profits are not general.

Mr. WHITE.- They may not be general. There are five Australian companies engaged in the industry, and internal competition results in price-cutting. But it is obvious from the Tariff Board’s report that the profits are excessive, and are not fair to the community. At the same time, the Government has to recognize the difficulty, on the figures in the report, of accepting the opinion of the board that the local industry could make a profit on a 35 per cent. duty. The Government also takes into account the fact that, the establishment of the local industry has resulted, notwithstanding the high rate of profit, in decreasing prices very substantially, and in providing a considerable volume of employment, direct, and indirect. It appears to be clear that if the recommendation of the board were accepted, and immediate action thereon were taken, imports would at once destroy the local industry, as it is at present organized, and serious unemployment would result. The Government proposes, therefore, to allow the present duties to stand until the item is dealt with by the Senate, and to give the local industry an opportunity meanwhile to reconsider its costs, including retail and distributing charges, as well as its profits, and to place before the board a considered statement. The board will be asked to submit a further report on these matters before the item is finally dealt with.

Mr. SCULLIN (Yarra) [12.4 a.m.].The Government has done right in adopting the duties now shown in the schedule pending a further inquiry by the Tariff Board. It would be unreasonable to order a fresh inquiry, and, meanwhile, by reducing duties, allow a flood of imports which would throw hundreds of persons out of work. The principal point made by the Tariff Board in its report is that the local manufacturers are making excessive profits. I have examined the balance-sheet of one company that was charged with making excessive profits, and I find that on a typical battery that is retailed at 18s. the profit is 8d. That cannot be regarded as an excessive profit on the turnover. There are certain classes of business in which very little capital is employed, but which have a big turnover. I know of an indent agent who made an income of £1,000 a year on a capital of £2. He required only his own labour. There are other industries of that kind, and if they can work on a system of overdrafts, employing bank money, and not charging goodwill and similar overhead costs, an impressive balancesheet can be produced. The manufacturing company to which I have referred, has this year taken from the Postal Department a contract at a price which will represent a reduction in profits of almost 50 per cent. in comparison with the profit made last year. These contractors to the Postal Department have treated the Government well. Their goods have to conform to a very high standard set by the technical experts of the department, and the prices charged are not excessive. For a type of cell used for telephones, they are now charging ls. 7d., whereas the price formerly was 2s. 3d., and earlier, 2s. 6d., and, before Australian tenders were accepted, 3s. lid.

A typical battery which represents 50 per cent, of the total business is sold for 18s. plus. Sd. sales tax. Prior to the imposition of high duties, a similar battery landed in Australia from the United States of America, at 10s. 6d., was retailed at 25s., including 14s. 6d. for distribution. There was then practically no Australian competition, but after the high duties and prohibitions were imposed, and the local manufacturers were producing on a large scale, they insisted that the cost of distribution should be reduced. Accordingly, when the factory price was 10s., the retail price was 20s. Now the factory price is 9s. and the retail price is 18s. If the manufacturers are making exorbitant profits, what is to be said of the profit made by the importers? I find that, on the duties recommended by the Tariff Board, a British firm could land a battery, duty paid, at 6s. 4d., including profit. The Australian factory price of a similar article is 9s. on which the profit would be 7d. to 9d. If the Australian company worked without a profit, it would still be undercut by about 2s. a battery. If the Tariff Board’s report had been put into operation, the new duties would have applied immediately they were dealt with in this chamber, and within six weeks the country would have been flooded with imported batteries and a large number of Australians thrown out of employment. I hope that the board upon reconsideration of this industry, will realize that a great injury would have been done to Australian manufacturers and workers, had the duties been reduced as recommended.

Motion (by Mr. Waed) agreed to -

That the question be now put.

Sub-item agreed to.

Preliminary matter and prefatory notes agreed to.

Resolution reported.

Standing Orders suspended and resolution adopted.

page 1558



That Mr. White and Mr. Guy do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.

Bill brought up by Mr. White, read a first and second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate.

Report adopted.

Third Reading

Minister for Trade and Customs · Balaclava · UAP

– I move -

That the bill be now read a third time.

At the conclusion of this tariff schedule I wish to thank honorable members for the good hearing they have given me as a new Minister. In taking over the portfolio from my predecessor on account of his unfortunate illness, and plunging immediately into the intricacies of a lengthy schedule and the implementing of the Ottawa agreement, I, naturally, felt that I had a great responsibility, and 1 appreciate the fact that I have not been unduly delayed in piloting this measure through the House, incidentally without a single defeat on any item. Without the willing co-operation of the Assistant Minister (Mr. Guy), the debate would, undoubtedly, have been of longer duration, and I cannot speak too highly of the loyal and indefatigable service of the officers of my department, who have so ably assisted me. Their duties imposed a great strain upon them, and necessitated strenuous work at all hours, which was always gladly undertaken. As I stated at the outset, I hope that, with the passing of the schedule, some tariff peace will be given to the commercial world, and I earnestly trust that it will prove a stimulus to industry and assist prosperity generally.


– My few remarks will, I believe, express the opinion of all members of the House. I congratulate the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) on the conspicuous ability which he has shown in piloting the .tariff schedule through the House. He took over his portfolio possibly during the most difficult period in the history of Australian tariffmaking, but he soon got into his stride and gave lucid and logical reasons for, and explanations of, the various duties. It is only right that we should record at this stage our great appreciation of his work, andwe congratulate him on his success as a new Minister.

AttorneyGeneral · Kooyong · UAP

– I am sorry indeed that, being engaged upon other matters, I was unable to speak first in saying some words of appreciation of the manner in which the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) and the Assistant Minister (Mr. Guy) have discharged a difficult task. As all honorable members are aware, the tariff is a highly controversial subject, and no Minister can expect to have an entirely easy time in piloting a schedule of this magnitude through the House. It is hoped that we shall, for the first time for a long time, if the Senate accepts the schedule, have a statutory tariff in the full sense on the statute-book. I sincerely hope that it will be of benefit to Australia as a whole. The work of the Minister has been particularly arduous. It has been seldom indeed that a Minister at the outset of his career has been faced with a task of such magnitude and complexity. He has handled the Government’s tariff proposals in a most admirable manner, and, I think, has won the respect of all honorable members for the work that he has done. In making these remarks I speak on behalf of the Government.


– As an ex-Minister for Trade and Customs, I quite appreciate the difficulties with which the Minister (Mr. White) was confronted when he assumed the great responsibility of his present office, and on behalf of the Opposition and on my own behalf I wish to congratulate him on the manner in which he has handled the tariff in this House. While I disagree with many of the decisions of the Minister and the Government affecting the tariff, I must give to the Minister a great deal of credit for his courtesy and the considerate manner in which he has explained the different items. At times I probably gave him some trouble, as did other honorable members, but it must be remembered that in a tariff discussion feelings usually run high. I can assure the Minister, and I think that I speak for every member of the

Opposition, that we do not carry that feeling with us outside. I congratulate him on the manner in which he has handled the tariff, and on the industry and skill which he has applied to his task. I hope that there will be no further inroads on the protectionist policy of Australia.


– I, too, wish to congratulate the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) on having completed the tariff. I realize that it has been a big task, and we cannot but admire him for the way in which he has carried it out. I cannot congratulate him on the extent to which he has accepted suggestions, particularly those of the Country party, in connexion with the tariff; but I do not intend to go into that matter at this stage. I should like to say that, for a gentleman of a naturally pugnacious disposition, he has held himself wonderfully well in check during the debates which have taken place during the last few weeks.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a third time.

page 1559


Hotel Employees at Canberra -Fuel Oil from Coal.

Motion (by Mr. Latham) proposed -

That the House do now adjourn.

West Sydney

– I wish to refer to a matter which is of considerable importance to a number of workers in the Federal Capital Territory. This matter was brought forward by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) last week. I have now been requested by the secretary of the organization in Sydney to press further the claims of employees of the Government who are associated with the Federated Liquor and Allied Trades Employees Union of Australia.

The facts of the case of these employees of the Government in hotels and other places are as follow: -

On the 4th January, 1929, representatives of this union met representatives of the Federal Capital Commission - Mr. Gibson, the Industrial Officer in the Federal Capital Territory, and Mr. Farrar, the officer in charge of the Commissariat Department - to discuss a log of wages and conditions. As a basis of settlement, they agreed that adult males should receive £4 12s. 6d., and adult females £2 16s., for a week of 44 hours, with margins added for the different classifications of work performed. At that time, the lowest rate paid to an adult male in the Federal Capital Territory was £5 a week, and the reason for the acceptance of less than that amount was that the commission agreed to pay their employees double time.for work performed on holidays, twelve days’ annual leave on full pay, and one week’s sick pay over a twelve monthly period. The Minister has denied that annual leave and pay for holidays was agreed to, but the organization claims that he is wrong. In a letter sent to the Minister, the following’ memorandum from the Federal Capital Territory Branch of the Department of Home Affairs, to the house manager, Hotel Canberra, is quoted -

Please note the undermentioned alteration to the 1929 agreement with the Federated Liquor and Allied Trades Employees Union of Australasia, to come into operation from 9th November, 1031 - “ Annual holidays. - On the completion of twelve months9 service, .all employees shall bo entitled to a holiday of twelve working days with full pay. Should any employee not complete twelve mouths’ service, he or she will be granted a -pro rata rate of one day’s pay for each completed month’s service on the termination of his employment.”

The organization submits that memorandum in proof of the fact that holiday pay was agreed to. But the principal point made is that the men agreed in 1929 to take less than the base wage, on the understanding that these concessions would be given to them, but they did not receive any holiday pay until 1931. Either the Minister or the department claims that at that time there was no such thing as a base wage in the Territory. The reply of the union to that is that £5 a week was the lowest wage then paid for ordinary labouring work in the Territory. As every honorable member is aware, the lowest wage paid for ordinary labouring work is regarded as the base wage. There were no means of determining a base j wage in the Territory in 1929, because no tribunal for that purpose was operating; therefore, it cannot be disputed that the organization is entitled to consider that £5 a week was the base wage, and that these employees are justified in assuming that they should receive as much as those engaged in ordinary labouring work. The department raises the objection that it did not agree to annual leave being granted. That is disproved by the memorandum that I have read. These employees, who for a period agreed to accept lower than the prevailing wage, have been penalized, because they have not had either that wage or the annual holidays. Their organization later went before the tribunal in the Territory, in an endeavour to have the conditions in regard to holidays embodied in an award. The tribunal would not agree to that being- done in the case of a single organization, on the ground that it might give rise to dissatisfaction in the ranks of other unions. This organization then requested the tribunal to hear a general claim with respect to all employees in the Territory, and the tribunal agreed to do so. A general claim was submitted, but it was rejected. The organization at a. later date again endeavoured to have the question of wages further discussed by the tribunal. A letter that I have received from the secretary of the union shows exactly what happened. It says -

You will take notice that the members of the board fixed the minimum wage for adult male employees at £4 5s. per week, and the female adult rate at £2 12s. per week.

The next, paragraph shows how these employees have been treated. The award which fixed the rates mentioned was gazetted on the 9th February, 1933. The letter goes on to say -

Since the award was made, they have applied the Financial Emergency- Act-

That is to say, the Public Service Board came along after the award had been made, fixing the rninimum wage for adult male employees at £4 5s. per week - and brought the base rate to bc paid to adult males down to £3 14s. per week, and adult females down to about £2 5s. per week.

The letter mentions that all other employees of the Government working under awards are paid a weekly wage of at least £4 0s. 3d. a week. The secretary of the organization appealed to the Minister, asking that, if there was to be any cut at all in wages, the Government might at least maintain the level of £4 Os. 3d., which is what I suppose may he regarded as the base rate for labouring work in the Territory. The men and women concerned were penalized for nearly two years, and were paid a wage lower than the base rate in the Territory until the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley), as Minister for Home Affairs in 1931, issued a memorandum on the subject. He granted them twelve days annual leave, which was less than they claimed they were promised. There were eight public holidays that they might have had ordinarily; therefore, in reality they were given only four days. Their case is one that should certainly receive sympathetic consideration by the Government. A week of 44 hours, and twelve days’ annual leave, are embodied in the award, but the wage question is still in dispute. The circumstances under which they work are such that their time is spread over as long as thirteen hours a day. Some of them may start at 5 o’clock in the morning, work until 8 or 9 o’clock, and then be given a couple of hours off duty. That may continue throughout the day. Rationing has also to be considered. Then, too, they have to pay for their board, which works out at about £1 2s. a weekTaking all these facts into consideration, it appears to me that the least the department’ can do is to give these men the benefit of the ruling rate which applies generally to labouring work in the Territory, namely, £4 Os. 3d. a week. This matter could also be discussed from the point of view of private employers in the Territory, but I wish to confine my remarks to the representations made by the organization concerned. I submit that they have made out a strong case. They proved their case before the tribunal, but then the Public Service Board stepped in and, under the powers of, the Financial Emergency Act passed three years ago, reduced an award which was made in February, 1933. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) has already referred to this aspect of the matter; but, as I have been requested by the organization to press the claims of its members, I deemed it desirable to bring the matter under the notice of the Minister in the hope that the employees will get a fair deal.

East Sydney

– There are one or two other aspects which might be brought to the notice of the Minister in connexion with the subject that has been raised by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). It must be obvious to all visitors at the Hotel Canberra that the establishment is very much understaffed, with the result that the attention given is by no means what it should be. This is not the fault of the staff, because, as I have stated, it. is numerically insufficient to cater for the number of people now patronizing the hotel. There are, I understand, 120 visitors there at the moment, and, because of the shortage of staff, people have to wait half an hour in the dining-room before their requirements are attended to. Unless an addition is made to the staff I suggest that the authorities consider the advisability of providing the employees with an improved mode of transport, such as scooters. As the’ honorable member for West Sydney has stated, hotel employees are on duty for a period of thirteen hours daily, and my information is that the girls at the Hotel Canberra are so overworked in the early hours of the day that, in order to be equal to the demands made upon them in connexion with dinner at night, some of them have to go to bed or rest during the afternoon. Such a state of affairs should not be allowed to continue in the Territory. Employees of all these government hotels are entitled to much better treatment than they are getting. Another matter which should have the attention of the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Latham) is the pay of employees at what are now known as the private hotels. All hotel employees are working under an award; but I .understand there is no- power to enforce its observance in the case of government hotels that have been leased to private individuals - a policy which this Government has been fostering recently in the Territory. I have been informed that recently one hotel lessee offered a male employee 24s. a week and keep. If this state of affairs has the approval of the Government, Ministers should say so to-night.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– Did the honorable member say that the wage’ mentioned was offered by a lessee of one nf the private hotels?


– Yes, and I am anxious that the Attorney-General should take steps to correct the position. It should be possible for some tribunal to enforce all industrial awards in the Territory. The Government, which is responsible for fostering private enterprise in connexion with these hotels, should see that decent wages and decent conditions of labour are observed by all lessees. I hope that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Perkins) will give attention to the matter mentioned by the honorable member for West Sydney, and that the AttorneyGeneral will see what can be done to enforce the observance of industrial awards in the Territory.


.- I desire to bring under the notice of the Government the biennial conference to be held at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, United States of America, in November, of this year, to consider coal treatment processes for the extraction of oil. An invitation has been given to the governments of various countries to send delegates, and I hope that Australia will be represented at that important gathering, because the rehabilitation of the great coal industry of New South Wales is urgently demanded, and it is likely that the conference will make recommendations of far-reaching importance to all coalproducing countries. I mentioned this matter two years ago, during the regime of the Scullin Government, and suggested the appointment of one of the Lyon brothers who have, at Wallsend, demonstrated the practicability of extracting oil from coal in commercial quantities, .but I regret to say that no action was taken.

Recently, the New South Wales Government appointed a committee to investigate and report on the coal treatment process developed by Messrs. Lyon Brothers. The committee comprised the following : - Professors Henry Barraclough, of the Faculty of Engineering at the Sydney University, and F. A. Eastaugh, Professor of Technology; Messrs. H. J. Swain, head of the engineering branch of the Sydney Technical College; 0. J. Matthews, a representative of the Government on the Commonwealth sugar committee; and Mr. F. S. Mance, under-secretary of the New South Wales Department of Mines. The report presented by these gentlemen is a valuable one. It reads as follows : -

The committee appointed to investigate and report on the coal treatment process of Messrs. Lyon Brothers, and their appeal for Government assistance, has held five meetings, at one of which evidence was taken from J. R. Duggan, B.Sc, B.E., formerly of the Fuel Research Board (England). It has the honour to present the following report, which embodies its unanimous view: -

In the first place, the committee desires to place on record its appreciation (a) of the work Messrs. Lyon Bros, have done on fuel processing, (6) of their capacity as coal technicians and their knowledge of the literature relating to the subject, and (c) of the persistency of their efforts.

In order to remove any misapprehension, the committee points out that the Lyon process is not concerned with the production of hydrocarbon oil from coal. It is a low temperature carbonization process, involving no new principles, and may be briefly summarized as follows: -

Owing, it is claimed by Messrs. Lyon Brothers, to the almost unique properties of Maitland coal, processes which have proved uneconomical abroad may be financial successes in New South . Wales. It is therefore proposed to subject Maitland coal to destructive distillation at a low temperature.

By their process, Messrs. Lyon Brothers have obtained from one ton of Maitland coal (<*) a quantity of rick gas, (6) 40 gallons of tar, and (c) 13 dwt. of solid fuel or coke.

Their plans for the utilization of these products are -

Gas. - To bottle and use in place of reti culated town gas, as is being done in America with special gas, or dilute and use locally, or pipe to centres of consumption.

Tar. - The 40 gallons of tar, by suitable fractionation, yield 25 gallons of a lighter distillate, which it is proposed to use in place of imported liquid fuel in heavy motor vehicles, after modification of such vehicles.

Coke. - It is claimed that when a combus tion catalyst is incorporated with this coke, it has exceptional properties as a fuel for gas producers. Their proposal is to popularize the use of producer gas in tractors, and similar power units by the utilization of this activated fuel.

Messrs. Lyon Brothers appeal to the Government for funds to erect an experimental plant on a commercial scale for the production of the above products, and ask for a finding by a committee as to the scientific basis and the commercial and economic soundness of their proposals.

The committee is of opinion that the proposals are scientifically sound, and that the claims in respect to the yields of products obtained by Messrs. Lyon, are wot extravagant. The committee considers . that the commercial aspect, that is, the demand for and disposal of these products, is insufficiently demonstrated, particularly as experience abroad raises a serious doubt on these points.

As it is unreasonable to undertake production before the demand for the products has been thoroughly investigated, the committee does not recommend the erection of a subsidized production plant, and considers such a proposal premature.

The committee favours, however, the granting by the Government of funds for the purpose of proving the utility of, and the possible wide demand for, the products; the justification for such a grant is an increased demand for coal to take the place of imported liquid fuel. lt is recommended that any grant made should bc expended under suitable control, and for the following purposes: -

  1. The production in the present small plant of Messrs. Lyon Bros, of sufficient liquid fuel and activated coke for the purpose of the test.
  2. The manufacture and installation of accessories to plant needed for trials with tar distillate in place of petrol.
  3. The manufacture and installation of a producer and accessories for trials of the activated solid fuel.
  4. Any expenses incidental to the conduct of such trials.

The committee recommends that the sum of not Jess than £500 be provided for this purpose.

As in the past Messrs. Lyon Bros, have found that certain transport regulations have hampered them in their experimental work, it is suggested that all possible facilities of that nature be granted during these trials.

The committee further recommends that, in the event of any portion of the above grant being made to Messrs. Lyon Bros., they be required to give an undertaking not to sell or otherwise dispose of any patent rights or any secret processes that may result from the proposed experiments without first liquidating moneys paid to them.

Although not definitely in its terms of reference, the committee desires to express the opinion that a co-ordinating committee to deal with all matters relating to the welfare of the coal industry would be of permanent value to the industry and to the State.

I hope, in view of what I have said, that the Government will consider the appointment of a representative to take part in the discussion at Pittsburg. It is essential that our views should be placed before that gathering. We have spent many thousands of pounds upon other overseas delegations, and I submit that, as the decisions of the Pittsburg Conference may be vitally important to Australia, this country should be represented at it.

Monaro- Minister for the Interior · Eden · UAP

.- The subject mentioned by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) is not a new one. It has evidently had consideration, from time to time, in the life of three parliaments, during which time the honorable member himself was a member of a government, and it has probably had the attention of no less than five Ministers. However, I shall have inquiries made, and see if anything can be done in the direction indicated by the honorable gentleman. At the same time I am not hopeful of anything being done in regard to wages for some time. The firm mentioned has been in touch with me, but I have not been approached by any local residents. They appear to be well satisfied.

Mr Beasley:

– They must speak through their representatives.


– Evidently they were contented during the regime of the Labour Government, because, according to the honorable member, this condition of affairs obtained as far back as 1929.

The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) complained of under-staffing at the government hotels. It may be true that just at the moment the Hotel Canberra is understaffed, because there are 120 guests staying there, but on Saturday there may be more domestics than guests. That has been the case ever since the hotel has been opened. There are generally two or three busy days in the week, particularly during a tariff session, when many visitors are in the city, but for the rest of the week the hotels are slack. If we engaged extra employees, there would not be enough work to keep them employed all the time, and if they were rationed, honorable members would complain. In the circumstances, there is no real shortage of staff. I come in contact with the staff a good deal, and my impression is that they are genuinely pleased to see that things have brightened up, and that the hotel is busy.

The honorable member mentioned that workers in the private hotels were not covered by an award. I answered that objection on Friday afternoon last, when the matter was brought up on the adjournment, and stated that the Government was giving the subject its consideration. I remind the honorable member, however, that the sin, if any, is not on the conscience of this Government alone. The same condition of affairs obtained while the Labour Government was in office, and applies not only to hotelworkers, but also to those engaged in other occupations as well.

AttorneyGeneral · Kooyong · UAP

– The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) raised the question of fuel development in connexion with the Third International Conference on bituminous coal held at Pittsburg from the. 10th to the 21st November, 1931. The Government realizes the importance of the subject, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is maintaining a close and continuous contact with the British Department of Scientific Research, the Fuel Research Board in England, and the British Fuel Research Station at Greenwich. The Government has specially employed the distinguished Australian scientist, Mr. L. J. Rogers, M.Sc, for the purpose of advising it on the subject of fuel research. He is at present visiting Europe and America in connexion with inquiries into fractionating and cracking units for the shale oil industry. I shall raise the matter with the Minister in charge of Development, and if it can be arranged for Mr. Rogers, without any great additional expense, to attend the forthcoming conference, and if it is thought by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Reseach that it would be of value for him to do so, the necessary action will be taken. I do not think, however, that Mr. Rogers will be away so long. It is not worth while sending a man away especially to attend the conference, because, on the last occasion, we obtained at small expense a full report of the proceedings, and we shall do the same again. I do not think that the Government would agree to hold up the development of the shale oil industry for the purpose of enabling Mr. Rogers to attend the conference. However, the whole matter will be thoroughly examined with a full recognition of its importance.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 12.47 a.m. (Friday)

page 1564


The following answers to questions were circulated: -

Federal Capital Territory: Legislation

Mr Watson:

n asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -

As the Civic Administrator and the OfficerinCharge of Lands in the Federal Capital Territory have admitted publicly the invalidity of titles to certain lands in the Territory, will the Attorney-General inform the House when action will be taken to validate such titles ?

Mr Latham:

– I would invite the honorable member’s attention to notice of motion No. 3 appearing on to-day’s noticepaper.

Commonwealth Bank Premises at Adelaide.

Mr Price:

e asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. Is it proposed to build up-to-date bank premises in Adelaide? »
  2. Have plans been drawn for a building to be erected on the present Commonwealth Bank site in King William-street, Adelaide?
  3. Has a decision been arrived at; if so, will the work be put in hand at an early date ?
Mr Lyons:
Prime Minister · WILMOT, TASMANIA · UAP

– Inquiries are being made from the Commonwealth Bank, and replies to the honorable member’s questions will be furnished as soon as possible.

Trade Treaty between France and Canada.

Mr Prowse:

e asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -

Has he seen a press report of the 15th instant relating to a trade treaty between France and Canada, wherein the latter is to receive certain trade advantages, especially in wheat; if so, will he endeavour to make similar arrangements with France and other countries with which Australia enjoys a favorable trade balance?

Mr Stewart:
Minister for Commerce · PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP

– I have seen the press report referred to by the honorable member. Copy of the- text of the treaty mentioned is now on the way to Australia, and when it is received the question raised by the honorable member will receive consideration.

Anglo-Argentine Trade Treaty

Mr Ward:

d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Does the Anglo-Argentine trade treaty contain the following provisions: -

    1. If it should become necessary, in order to secure a remunerative price in the British market, to reduce various categories of Argentine meat below the Ottawa levels, the effect upon the price level desired shall not be negatived by replacing these reduced imports from the Argentine by increased imports of meat from other countries, including the British dominions?
    2. Britain undertakes not to restrict imports of Argentine frozen beef, mutton and lamb, in excess of those specified in scheduleB of the Ottawa agreement unless the dominions’ imports are restricted?
    3. Imports of Argentine chilled beef will notbe reduced more than 10 per cent. below the imports for the year ended the 30th June, 1932, unless imports of chilled beef or frozen meat from all meat exporting countries, including the British dominions, are also reduced by a percentage equalling the percentage reduction made in Argentine chilled beef below 90 per cent. of the imports in the corresponding quarter of the year ended the 30th June, 1932?
  2. If so, does the Anglo-Argentine trade treaty take priority over the Ottawa agreement?

Mr Lyons:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. The principal provisions of the treaty were outlined by the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Stewart) in the statement he made to the House on the 3rd May last. The full text of the agreement will be received at an early date. As soon as it has been examined, the information the honorable member asks for will be supplied.
  2. No.

Aviation Expenditure

Mr Beasley:

y asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Whether hehas received a letter from Mr. W. R. Garrett, secretary of the Melbourne Air Convention Committee, requesting that a royal commission beappointed to inquire into pant aviation expenditure on the grounds that-

    1. the Auditor-General has repeatedly recommended an investigation and criticized departmental administration ; and
    2. the inter-departmental committee which recently investigated aerial transportservices did not perform the functions of a royal commission, because no attempt was made to investigate past expenditure, extra vagance, and administration?
  2. Will the Prime Minister indicate the attitude of the Government to this matter?

Mr Lyons:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. Yes.
  2. The Auditor-General in his report has referred to the large expenditure on air subsidies, but has never in his criticism suggested that there is anything improper or corrupt either in the past or present expenditure. The Auditor-General did not suggest inquiry by a royal commission, and the Government can see no useful purpose that can be served by such an inquiry. The inter-departmental committee, in framing its report, had regard to the results of past methods and amounts of subsidies. It may be added that the Government will see that an opportunity is afforded both Houses of Parliament either on a supply bill or by some other means to discuss civil aviation generally before tenders for the new services are accepted.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 May 1933, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.