14th Parliament · 1st Session
The House met at 10.30 a.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General.
The Clerk read the proclamation.
The Usher of the Blackrod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered the message that the Deputies of the Governor-General for the Opening of the Parliament requested the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber forthwith.
Honorable members attended accordingly, and, having returned,
The Deputy authorized by the GovenorGeneral to administer the oath entered the chamber.
TheClerk read the commission, under the Great Seal of the Commonwealth, authorizing the Honorable Sir George Edward Rich, a Justice of the High Court of Australia, to administer the oath, or affirmation, of allegiance to the King required by the Constitution to be taken or made by members of the House of Representatives.
The Clerk announced that he had received from the Military and Official Secretary to the Governor-General returns to 74 writs for the election of members of the House of Representatives, held on the 15th September, 1934.
The following members made and subscribed the oath or affirmation of allegiance: -
Abbott, Hon. Charles Lydiard Aubrey, Gwydir, New South Wales.
Baker, Francis Matthew John, Esquire, Griffith, Queensland.
Barnard, Herbert Claude, Esquire, Bass, Tasmania.
Beasley, Hon. John Albert, West Sydney, New South Wales.
Bell, George John, Esquire, C.M.G., D.S.O., V.D., Darwin, Tasmania.
Blackburn, Maurice McCrae, Esquire, Bourke, Victoria.
Brennan, Hon. Frank, Batman, Victoria.
Cameron, Archie Galbraith, Esquire, Barker, South Australia.
Cameron, Sir Donald Charles, K.C.M.G., D.S.O., V.D., Lilley, Queensland.
Casey, Hon. Richard Gardiner, D.S.O., M.C., Corio, Victoria.
Clark, Joseph J ames, Esquire, Darling, New South Wales.
Corser, Bernard Henry, Esquire, Wide Bay, Queensland.
Curtin, J ohn, Esquire, Fremantle, Western Australia.
Drakeford, Arthur Samuel, Esquire, Maribyrnong, Victoria.
Fairbairn, James Valentine, Esquire, Flinders, Victoria.
Fisken, Archibald Clyde Wanliss, Esquire, Ballaarat, Victoria.
Forde, Hon. Francis Michael, Capricornia, Queensland.
Francis, Hon. Josiah, Moreton, Queensland.
Frost, Charles William, Esquire, Franklin, Tasmania.
Gander, Joseph Herbert, Esquire, Reid, New South Wales.
Garden, John Smith, Esquire, Cook, New South Wales.
Gardner, Sydney Lane, Esquire, Robertson, New South Wales.
Green, Hon. Albert Ernest, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.
Green, Roland Frederick Herbert, Esquire, Richmond, New South Wales.
Gregory, Hon. Henry, Swan, Western Australia.
Groom, Hon. Sir Littleton Ernest, K.C.M.G., K.C., Darling Downs, Queensland.
Gullett, Hon. Sir Henry Somer, K.C.M.G., Henty, Victoria.
Harrison, Eric Fairweather, Esquire, Bendigo, Victoria.
Harrison, Hon. Eric John, Wentworth, New South Wales.
Hawker, Hon. Charles Allan Seymour,. Wakefield, South Australia.
Holloway, Hon. Edward James, Melbourne Ports, Victoria.
Hughes, Rt. Hon. William Morris, K.C., North Sydney, New South Wales.
Hunter, James Aitchison Johnston, Esquire, Maranoa, Queensland.
Hutchinson, William Joseph, Esquire, Indi, Victoria.
James, Rowland, Esquire, Hunter, New South Wales.
Jennings, John Thomas, Esquire, Watson, New South Wales.
Lane, Albert, Esquire, Barton, New South Wales.
Lawson, George, Esquire, Brisbane, Queensland.
Lawson, John Norman, Esquire, Macquarie, New South Wales.
Lazzarini, Hubert Peter, Esquire, Werriwa, New South Wales.
Lyons, Rt. Hon. Joseph Aloysius, Wilmot, Tasmania.
Mahoney, Gerald William, Esquire, Denison, Tasmania.
Makin, Norman John Oswald, Esquire, Hindmarsh, South Australia.
Maloney, William, Esquire, Melbourne, Victoria.
Marr, Hon. Charles William Clanan, D.S.O., M.C., V.D., Parkes, New South Wales.
Maxwell, George Arnot, Esquire, K.C., Fawkner, Victoria.
McBride, Philip Albert Martin, Esquire, Grey, South Australia.
McCall, William Victor, Esquire, Martin, New South Wales.
McClelland, Hugh, Esquire, Wimmera, Victoria.
McEwen, John, Esquire, Echuca, Victoria.
Menzies, Hon. Robert Gordon, K.C., Kooyong, Victoria.
Mulcahy, Daniel, Esquire, Lang, New South Wales.
Nairn, Walter Maxwell, Esquire, Perth, Western Australia.
Nock, Horace Keyworth, Esquire, Riverina, New South Wales.
Page, Rt. Hon. Earle Christmas Grafton, Cowper, New South Wales.
Parkhill, Hon. Robert Archdale, Warringah, New South Wales.
Paterson, Hon. Thomas, Gippsland, Victoria.
Perkins, Hon. John Arthur, EdenMonaro, New South Wales.
Price, John Lloyd, Esquire, Boothby, South Australia.
Prowse, John Henry, Esquire, Forrest, Western Australia.
Riordan, David, Esquire, Kennedy, Queensland.
Rosevear, John Solomon, Esquire, Dalley, New South Wales.
Scholfield, Thomas Hallett, Esquire, M.C., M.M., Wannon, Victoria.
Scullin, Rt. Hon. James Henry, Yarra, Victoria.
Stacey, Fred Hurtle, Esquire, Adelaide, South Australia.
Stewart, Hon. Frederick Harold, Parramatta, New South Wales.
Street, Geoffrey Austin, Esquire, M.C., Corangamite, Victoria.
Thompson, Victor Charles, Esquire, New England, New South Wales.
Thorby, Hon. Harold Victor Campbell, Calare, New South Wales.
Ward, Edward John, Esquire, East Sydney, New South Wales.
Watkins, Hon. David, Newcastle, New South Wales.
White, Hon. Thomas Walter, D.F.O., V.D., Balaclava, Victoria.
The Deputy retired.
.- I move -
That the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Belt) do take the chair of the House as Speaker.
Mr. Bell has been a member of this House and of various Commonwealth parliaments for a considerable number of years, during which period he has earned the admiration, respect and esteem of, not only his own constituents in Tasmania, but also all honorable members of this House who have come in contact with him. He is a man of irreproachable character, and is upright and fearless in every respect. He is truly a fit and proper person to occupy the high position of Speaker. During the last Parliament he was Chairman of Committees, in which position he distinguished himself, and showed that he had a full knowledge of the practices and Standing Orders of the House. Another noteworthy feature of his service in the position of Chairman of Committees was his absolute impartiality. I believe that honorable members of all parties can testify as to that fact. In every way he upheld the dignity of the position, and he was efficient in all respects. I submit his name to the House with every confidence, feeling sure that he will at all times uphold the splendid traditions that surround the Speaker’s chair and enhance the reputation and dignity of this, the National Parliament.
. -I have pleasure in seconding the nomination. Mr. Bell has qualified for the position of Speaker by a long parliamentary experience, and by occupancy for a period of the office of Chairman of Committees. He carried out the duties of that position efficiently, and with an impartiality which I feel should commend him to all sections of the House.
.- I thank the honorable members who have moved and seconded my nomination for the Speakership, and I respectfully submit myself to the House.
.- I understand that this is the one occasion in the parliamentary life of this country when a member may speak on any subject he desires. I do not know whether there will be further nominations for the position of Speaker, but I shall ask a scout or two of my party to find out. If no other name is to be submitted, I shall make a nomination before I resume my seat. We have just come from the elections, and the vilification that was displayed during the contest-
– Do not cry too much!
– The honorable member who interjects was weeping for three weeks prior to the elections, and, if it had not been for his friends, the Communists, he would not be sitting in this House today. You will recall, Mr. Parkes, that we sat here day after day last session, and heard the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) say “ We must deport all Communists from this country “. Then the ex-Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) brought down an amendment of the Crimes Act. I notice that the present honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) has taken Mr. Latham’s place; I shall refer later to the honorable gentleman. When Mr. Latham brought down the amending act, the honorable member for Barton declared to the Tories of his electorate, and of every other part of Australia. “ Now we shall deport all Communists “. But it has since been ascertained that only 401 deportations have occurred during the life of the Nationalist and United Australia Party Governments, and that not one person has been deported for a political offence. We know the reason for this. The honorable member for Barton interviewed Mr. Latham - I have heard it in confidence, but I break that confidence to-day - and said, “ Do not deport the Communists from Barton ; they are my friends, and they will vote for me”. When at the subsequent election Mr. Lane was leading on the first preferences by a few votes, and the result depended on the distribution of the second preferences, he got the biggest majority of the Communists’ 400 votes.
Another candidate for Barton was Mr. Albert Willis, whom Mr. Lane used to vilify. You have heard of him, Mr. Parkes. He went down to Bulli and “ ratted “ on the Labour party. He afterwards joined the “ T.B. “ party in New South Wales. Mr. Lane said to him, “ You know, Mr. Willis, that I am with you. Give me your No. 2 votes And that is how Albert Lane got in! The honorable member suggested that I should not weep, but he was weeping and wailing all the time after the election started, until he got the assurances which he sought.
Before introducing some of the new members I shall deal with a few of my old friends. There is the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr). He represents an electorate which adjoins mine. I understand that he will be Sir Charles Marr in a short time. I saw his picture the other day. He appeared in a high hat, carried gloves in his left hand, and had a walking stick, and spats to match. He looked like a Berkshire pig. Nevertheless, I understand that he is going to resign his position in this parliament if he be made a Sir, and that Mr. Stevens, the Premier of New South Wales, will take his seat. I was a bit jealous when I heard that. I was reputed to be Mr. Lang’s dummy, but the honorable member for Parkes is now apparently Mr. Stevens’ dummy.
Next I come to the honorable member for Henty (Sir Henry Gullett). He is one of the most capable men in the Ministry, and an ardent Tory and Nationalist. We all know where he stands. The next member of the Cabinet to whom I wish to refer is the Minister for the Interior (Mr. E. J. Harrison), a man of genial disposition, and who, prior to entering this Parliament, joined the All for Australia League.
– He was a member of the New Guard.
– I cannot vouch for that. In the last Parliament he occupied a seat on the back benches, but he is now a member of the Ministry. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Perkins), who, in the last Parliament, was on the Treasury bench, has now to take a seat at the back. There was a good deal of shuffling in the Nationalist Consultative Council, in Sydney, and, after negotiations, Sir James Murdoch and Mr. Sidney Snow conferred with the present Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill) and said “If you do not put Harrison in the Cabinet there will be trouble in New South Wales”.
– That is untrue; but I suppose it does not matter as everything the honorable member is saying is untrue.
– I do not mind what the honorable member says. I shall deal with him later. We know the fight which the present Minister for the Interior (Mr. E. J. Harrison) put up on behalf of Japanese manufacturers when certain tariff items were before the last Parliament. On that occasion he tried to convince the House that Japanese pearl buttons should be allowed into this country free of duty. Some of our friends in the Country party, including the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), said that he was a brilliant young man for suggesting such a thing. So now he is in the Cabinet.
The next member of the Ministry to whom I wish to direct the attention of honorable members is the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Stewart) who representsParramatta, an electorate adjacent to the one which I have the honour to represent. Although he occupies the important position of Minister for Commerce, he nas had no rural experience. In fact it has been said on innumerable occasions that not one member of the present Cabinet represents a country constituency. What is wrong with the hon orable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker)? Why should he not be the representative in the Cabinet of country interests? I cannot understand why he has not been included in the Ministry. Next we have the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White). Of him I say that he is the most humorous man in the House.
I now come to the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), who, prior to and during the last general election, said that the party which he leads was going to win seats everywhere. Tasmania has returned three Labour representatives for constituencies ‘previously represented by members of the United Australia paTty; and had a representative of the Federal Labour party contested the Wilmot electorate, the right honorable the Prime Minister possibly would not himself be here. He will not be let off so easily on the next occasion.
I now come to the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies), of whom we have heard a lot, and who is now holding the seat previously held by Mr. Latham. Although we fought that gentleman politically, and know that he was a hard, cold, calculating lawyer, we recognized that he possessed a great deal of ability. I do not think the new Attorney-General will ever catch up to hia predecessor in that respect. However, I shall judge him by his actions. I shall still be here, when he has been defeated, to tell the people in the next parliament, including the Labour member who wins Kooyong, what sort of a man he was.
Next I come to the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) who sat in this parliament for the last eight or nine years, yet could not get into the Cabinet. To-day he is sitting on the Treasury bench, cheek by jowl, with the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) and the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies V
– He is to fight the Country party.
– I have already heard it said that the Country party proposes to start a vigorous campaign against the United Australia party, and the right honorable member for North Sydney has been made a member of the Cabinet, because he is the only man opposite capable of drawing crowds, and consequently is to be sent into country constituencies to ‘break down the attack of the Country party. The right honorable member has a very hard row to hoe. It was hard enough for Moses when he led the wandering Jews, but he was on a velvet seat compared with Billy Hughes.
The next gentleman, whom I desire to introduce to the House, is the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey). He possesses a good name, but he is a hard-hearted man. I have been to him on numerous occasions in connexion with pension cases. Honorable members know how pensioners are being treated. A man with the name the Assistant Treasurer bears should have acted differently, and, if he has a good heart, he should be able to do something for these unfortunate people in the future. At any rate, he is again occupying a seat on the Treasury bench as an Assistant Minister, while Mr. Harrison, who waa not previously in the Cabinet, is a fullyfledged Minister. How can that be accounted for? I have about 25 pensioners’ cases which I propose to bring before the Assistant Treasurer at the earliest opportunity. Another gentleman on the treasury bench is the Assistant Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Francis) who in the last parliament was also administering war service homes. During his administration more returned soldiers have been evicted from their homes than have been evicted by any number of landlords in Australia.
I now come to our genial old friend, who is shading his eyes and looking into the distance. I refer to the Minister for Defence (Mr. Archdale Parkhill). I should like to know if the right honorable the Prime Minister proposes to make him deputy-leader of the party. At any rate, that is what the people in New South Wales wish to know. They think that the representation of other States is already too strong, and they do not wish the Attorney-General to be appointed deputy leader of the party. New South Wales should be given a chance by placing the Minister for Defence in that position.
Passing from the Treasury bench I come to the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Hutchinson). He is not a bad youth, and I shall let him go. As is well known he had a terrific scramble to retain his seat. I read in the press where he said that in the House he had supported the claim* of the tobacco-growers, but I remember the night when the honorable member for Henty and the ex-Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) grabbed him by the arm as he was crossing to vote with honorable members on this side of the chamber, and said “ Don’t go over amongst those fellows, they are red. You are young, stop over on this side.”
The next gentleman, who catches my eye, is the honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) - a gentleman who should be elected Speaker. I say that with due respect to the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell), who has been proposed for that position, because probably by six o’clock to-morrow morning, I shall be under his jurisdiction. A good deal can be said in favour of the honorable member for Darling Downs, but for two substantial reasons he deserves my support. The first is that he declined to help the government of the day which proposed to dispense with the federal arbitration system. I am pleased to see that Sir Littleton is still with us. If he is ever defeated politically I hope it will be by a true Labour man. I also recall the morning when it is said we raided the Treasury by voting for an additional £75 to our parliamentary allowance. When others were afraid to do so, the honorable member for Darling Downs stood up and supported the proposed restoration.
I come next to the new member for Martin (Mr. McCall). I remember it being broadcast on the night of the election that William “Valentino” McCall would be the handsomest man in Parliament. Previously, the honour of being the handsomest man in Parliament was equally divided between Mr. Hughes and myself, and we both felt hurt. But I shall have a talk with Mr. Hughes, to see if we can hand to the new honorable member the belt for being the best looking man in the House. He has his hair, however, parted a little bit too far on one side, and if he seeks to be a proper Valentino he must use a little more oil. I remember that when the honorable member went into the electorate of Martin to fight for the selection against the late Mr. Holman he declared that this was the day of youth. He said, “ We must have young men in the Commonwealth Parliament”. I advise him now to glance at the occupants of the Treasury bench. He will probably go back to the people of Roseville and Bellara and say, “I withdraw the statement that old men should not be in the Parliament. They are there. I have nothing to say against those men. They are good old men”. Here, sitting on my right, is one of the greatest old men who ever drew breath, my old friend, Dr. Maloney. If I were in the Parliamentary Labour party at a time when it had to choose a Ministry, I should vote for Dr. Maloney to be in the Cabinet. When the new honorable member said that Mr. Holman was too old and that this was the time for young men he was a long way astray. When he opposed my friend the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) he got the honorable member for Parramatta to arrange for a meeting of bus-drivers and bus conductors at Rose Bay. He said to those men, “ Gentlemen, if you return mc to Parliament on Saturday week, I give you my assurance that we shall have the buses on the road again within a fortnight “. The Stevens Government has been in office for a long while, but ask the honorable member for Parramatta if the buses were on the road again in a fortnight. I have not heard of the honorable member for Martin addressing the bus boys recently, and promising to get their jobs back again, but no doubt he will be able to explain that after I have resumed my seat. I want him to do so.
The next gentlemen I come to are the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Fisken) and the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Street). They are like Siamese twins. Both appear in swallowtail coats and white spats. But their spats are the wrong colour. They should see to this. I remember, many years ago, when Frank Burge, a prominent footballer, was in his prime. He represented Australia and also New South Wales on the football field on numerous occasions. He was the idol of the people of Glebe, particularly the young fraternity. He used to wear his hair quite long over his collar, but one day he went into the hairdressers and had a neck shave. His hair was cut square across the top of the neck. When he appeared on the street on Monday morning, and for the rest of the week, every young man in Glebe was anxious to get his hair cut like Burge’s. When the young fellows went into the hairdressers’ saloons, the attendants said, “ How will you have it done “, and the young men replied, “The same as Frank Burge’s “. I also recollect that a good many yeaTs ago our friends Charlie Marr, and Mr. Parkhill, went into Buckley and Nunn’s, in Melbourne, to buy spats. That was at the time when Mr. S. M. Bruce introduced spats into this Parliament. When they entered the shop the assistant asked them what they wanted, and they said, “ Spats “. He said to them, “ What kind”? They replied, “Just the same as Stan’s”. They followed Mr. S. M. Bruce, and to the new honorable members I say, “ Gentlemen, you are dressed incorrectly for the Duke to-morrow. You need some dye on your white spats “.
I have already referred to Mr. Lane, and I notice that since then he has not interjected. Why not?
– One fool at a time is enough.
– Nature made proper provision in that respect so far as the honorable member is concerned.
I shall not comment upon the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell). I did not expect the honorable member for Grey (Mr. McBride) back here again. And we all thought the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) a “ goner “. He had to get the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) to go over to South Australia to save him. The people said : “ We don’t want Price, we want one of our own men “. But, anyhow, he got through.
The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) also had a very tough “ go “. But for the T.B. and the Communist votes he would not have got through. The T.B. vote put him in. At one stage Mr. Jennings, the honorable member for Watson, was having a very tough “ go “, but after a while things eased’ up for him.
I now come to the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey). We anticipated right through that he would be beaten. When the first preferences were counted, he was between 5,000 and 6,000 votes down; but the weaklings of the Labour party voted for two renegades and gave the honorable member their second preferences. He is, therefore, here by the grace of the Labour party.
Then there is the leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page). I must “ tickle him up “. Ho had a unity conference three week!! ago in Melbourne with the Prime Minister. I should like to have been present to hear what they discussed, but we can well imagine it. The Doctor, no doubt, came into the room and said, “Well, Joe, we want three seats in the Cabinet - myself and Tom Paterson as two certainties, and then, for the third seat, we want Jimmy Hunter “. But the Prime Minister, as we know, was particularly anxious to get the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Abbott) into the Cabinet. About twelve months ago when there was some talk about a Fusion Government consisting of members of the Country party and members of the United Australia party, you and I, Mr. Parkes, were walking down towards the Hotel Canberra talking of the three or four most likely men to go into the Government. The newspapers said that Mr. Thorby would be one and Mr. Abbott another. Suddenly two men dashed past. One was Mr. Abbott, and Joe Lyons was following him declaring that he wanted to catch Mr. Abbott as he was anxious to get him to join the Ministry ; “ but “ he added, “ I cannot catch him “. Now Mr. Abbott says that he will never join the Ministry.
The next we come to is the member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser). He is all right. The member for Wimmera (Mr. McClelland) has not been here very long. He is, comparatively, a new member. When he has been here as long as I have he will be all right.
Now I come to the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Thorby). He put up a big fight, and in the course of it said some awful things about Mr. Lyons. He likened Mr. Lyons to Ned Kelly. Afterwards he thought that he had better apologize, so he apologized to Ned Kelly.
When the fight started in Calare, the candidates set to work to tear each other limb from limb. Dr. Nott and Mr. Thorby were literally at each other’s throat every night. They challenged each other on the platform and almost tore each other asunder. Mr. Lyons had three meetings in the electorate for Dr. Nott. Mr. Thorby said that they would never have anything to do with the United Australia party, and when there was talk in the newspapers about unity, he said that there would never be unity between the two parties. Yet at tha declaration of the poll he declared, “ Let by-gones be by-gones, and let us come together.”
Now I come to Jimmy Hunter, the Whip of the Country party. The strongest union in this Parliament, Mr. Parkes, is the Whips’ union, consisting of Sydney Gardner, Jimmy Hunter, George Lawson, and myself. As one of the Whips of this Parliament I shall not talk about the others.
Now I shall give some of my friends in the Labour party a bit of a boost. I shall pas3 by the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan), who appears anxious to occupy the Speaker’s chair, and come to the good member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson). Parliamentary life affects men differently. When I entered Parliament my hair was black. At that time I had only my own troubles, whereas now I have the worries of a nation on my head. As honorable members can see, those worries have turned my hair grey. The honorable member for Brisbane came into this Parliament with a nice smooth face; to-day his face has more wrinkles than are to be found on a washer-woman’s thumb. He has become wrinkled in battling for the working class of this country.
I have not yet had the pleasure of an introduction to the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Frank Brennan). When the bill for the electoral redistribution of the State of Victoria was before this chamber in the last Parliament a count of heads showed that if the group of which I was a member voted for the redistribution proposals the Labour party could not win Batman. The honorable member for Kennedy pointed out that the old boundaries were better for Labour.
The honorable member for Kalgoorlie, Mr. Texas Green, can substantiate that statement because he asked our little group for support to save him in Kalgoorlie. The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn), who, I am glad to see to-day attired fit to meet the Duke, said that the proposed redistribution was definitely anti-labour, and if agreed to would result in the United Australia and Country parties winning more Victorian seats than if the old boundaries were retained. The then honorable member for Batman (Mr. Dennis) said that under the redistribution proposals’ he was certain to be re-elected. Jim Fen ton, who then represented Maribyrnong, said the same regarding himself. Jack Beasley, in a speech for which I love him, said “ I am here to represent the working class. As the honorable member for Flinders claims that the proposed redistribution will be against Labour, I shall vote for the retention of the old boundaries. As a Labour man I shall vote so that Labour can win seats “. It will be seen therefore that the honorable member for Batman owes his re-election, first, to the honorable member for Kennedy, then to my leader, and, next, to the honorable member for Flinders.
During the election campaign the name of Mr. Lang was frequently mentioned, both by candidates and in newspaper articles. In fact, the election was fought around Mr. Lang. Mr. Lang broadcast a number of speeches which numerous citizens throughout the Commonwealth requested to be published in booklet form. With your indulgence, Mr. Parkes, I shall place on record some extracts from those speeches. You will be glad to see them incorporated in Hansard, for I feel certain that every Sunday night you sat by your wireless set listening to speeches in support of the various candidates. In a broadcast speech dealing with the influence of the banks, Mr. Lang said -
Last week we discussed and examined the anti-Labor election slogan of “A Labor Government will smash the banks andsteal your savings “.
To-night we will take another of their bogey cries : “ Labor wants to establish political control of the banks “. And with that slogan, of course, they conjure up pictures of Parliament ordering the printing of millions of pound notes until the stage is reached where a pound note of. the future would be worth less than a penny is worth to-day.
To understand thoroughly this position we will have to go back to the commencement of the Commonwealth Bank. In 1910 there were only private banks in Australia, and in most States these private banks had the right to issue their own pound notes.
A highly profitable business.
The Labor Government which came in in that year made two financial reforms: It established the Commonwealth Bank and took the right to issue notes away from the private banks.
– Hear, hear!
- Dr. Maloney says “hear, hear!” He voted for the establishment of the bank and I am proud of him for having done so. The quotation continues -
The power to issue notes was given to the Commonwealth Treasurer, and those conditions obtained until 1920.
So you see, from 1911 until 1920 the politicians had control of the note issue and during that time pound notes did not become waste paper, as they did when the private bankers had control in 1893.
Until 1924 the note issue was controlled by the Treasury. And the Commonwealth Bank was under the sole control of Sir Denison Miller, an experienced banker, said Mr. Lang, with no other interest in life but an absorbing pride in the great banking institution he had built up and a love for country which he and his institution had so faithfully served during the trying years of the war and those which immediately followed.
Incidentally, it might be mentioned that, of all the combatants in the war, Australia was the only country which did not have a banking crisis within a few days of the outbreak of war.
Mr. Lloyd George’s description of the representatives of the private banking system cringing and crying in the Prime Minister’s room in London the day after war was declared’ for the proclamation of a bank holiday, is the most vivid condemnation of the private banking system that I have ever read.
Well, in 1924, we had a properly-controlled note issue and a free and independent Commonwealth Bank. The Bruce Government decided to change all this.
About this time bankers overseas had a new fashion. They wereforming Central Reserve Banks everywhere, and they wanted a Central Reserve Bank in Australia, so Mr. Bruce brought Australia into line with the old-world banking systems, which had failed every time they were confronted with a crisis, cither in war or peace.
Ho passed an act of Parliament placing the Commonwealth Bank under a board of directors and transferring control of the note issue to this board.
Here are the names and associations of the gentlemen who were to take control of what had been createdas a people’s bank. The first chairman of the board was Sir John Garvan. Sir John’s other interests were managing director of the Mutual Life and Citizens Assurance Company. The deputy chairman was Sir Robert Gibson, who was also a director of the National Mutual Insurance Company Limited, Union Trustee Company Limited, and Robert Harper and Company Limited.
The members of the board were: Sir Samuel Hordern, a director of Anthony Hordern and Sons Limited, the Perpetual Trustee Limited, and the Royal Insurance Company Limited.
Mr. McComas, one time of the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company, chairman of the Adelaide, Tasmanian, and Victorian Wool Buyers Associations, and proprietor of the wool-buying firm of William Haughton and Company.
Mr. Mackenzie Lees, who was chairman of the Associated Banks of Queensland, general manager of the Bank of North Queensland - incidentally, you might recall what I said last Sunday night regarding the squeezing out of the trading banks in Queensland - and Fellow of the Institute of Bankers, London.
The other outside member of the board was Mr. Drummond, a wheat-grower. In addition, Mr. Kell, the Governor of the bank, who succeeded Sir Denison Miller, and Mr. Collins, Secretary to the Commonwealth Treasury, were also members.
In 1925, allegations were made that the chairman of the board was using his position to confer benefits upon the insurance company of which he was a managing director. Sir John Garvan denied the allegations, and his denial was accepted.
Now, with Sir Denison Miller in control, there was no doubt that he was a competent banker, that his interests were solely with the hank, and thathe did not allow politics to guide his policy. So far as the new board was concerned, you may have some doubts as to whether they were competent bankers or not, because there is nothing to prove that they were.
You may have some doubt as to whether their interests were solely with the bank or with their outside affiliations, but you can have absolutely no doubt as to their politics.
Thatwas when the bank went under political control; that was when it went under the heel of the trading banks. And we hadn’t long to wait for verification of this.
In 1926, Mr. Kell, the Governor, resigned, and, discussing his resignation with a newspaper reporter, he said this : - “ The Governor of the bank should not be continually under the political heel.”
A week later, Sir John Garvan, the chairman, resigned without giving any reason for his resignation.
It was very embarrassing to the Bruce-Page Government to have their new Governor resign within two years of his appointment, because he resented being continually under the political heel.
Mr. Scott, who was deputy governor of the bank, was transferred to London, and Mr. Riddle, the present Governor, who was then manager in Melbourne, was appointed Governor. We have to go through all this so that we may understand why the Commonwealth Bank, which was created to curb the private bankers and to defend the people, has become a creature of the private banking system and an enemy to the people.
Having seen how the job was done, we will now come to the constitution of the bank at the time this depression hit Australia in 1930, and see how the Commonwealth Bank deserted the people.
The board of directors at the time consisted of Sir Robert Gibson, whose affiliations we have already reviewed.
Mr. C. H. Reading, the chief Australian director of the world-wide tobacco combine.
Mr. McComas, whom we know.
Mr. Mackenzie Lees, the former chairman of Associated Banks.
Mr. Duffy, a union official, appointed by the Scullin Government.
And the Governor of the bank and the Secretary to the Treasury.
A few weeks ago, Professor Charteris, in one of his interesting broadcast addresses, said something along these lines: - “ By the way, if any of you happen to know any of the statesmen who attended the 1911 Imperial Conference, ask him what the Dominion Ministers were told regarding the rising war cloud in Germany, and what steps were taken by Australia as a result of that conference to meet the threatened war cloud in Germany.”
Now hearing these words, my mind went back to that time, and I recalled how Lord Kitchener came out and inspected our forces and made recommendations; how we adopted compulsory military training; how we ordered a navy which arrived twelve months before the war; and how, when the war did break out, our fleet was more than a match for any German fleet which might bo encountered in the Pacific; and our army organization was able quickly to mobilize a large force.
We seemed to be remarkably well prepared for an unexpected war.
There is an extraordinary similarity between the waywe prepared for the war and the way wo prepared for this depression-
Mr. Parkes, I object to you holding a conference with any honorable member while I am speaking -
In place of the Imperial Conference we have Prime Minister Bruce’s visit to London, where the number of bankers’ dinners which he attended was, to say the least, most unusual. In place of Lord Kitchener we have the visit to Australia of Sir Ernest Harvey, Comptroller of the Bank of England.
Sir Ernest thoroughly inspected our banking structure; particularly did he interview candidates for the governorship of the bank, and on his departure: the chairman of the Commonwealth Bank said that he had been indebted to Sir Ernest for much helpful advice regarding thefuture conduct of the banking system of Australia.
Three years later, another official of the Bank of England, Sir Otto Niemeyer, came to Australia, examined the bankers’ defences, andin that famous speech at Melbourne, when he said the Australian standard of living should come down, laid down the policy which has governed Australian banking during the depression. This conference marked the final surrender of Australian independence in banking.
In 1911 the Commonwealth Government set up a free and independentbank that became master of the banking situation in Australia, continued Mr. Lang.
In 1924 this free and independent bank was merged with the private banking system in Australia.
In 1927, with the visit of Sir Ernest Harvey, the whole of the Australian banking system became subservient to the Bank of England, and in 1930, with the visit of Sir Otto Niemeyer, the bank publicly acknowledged taking its policy and instructions from the old lady of Threadneedle-street.
And yet there are people who say to me, “ Why do you publicly attack the banking system? Why don’t you preach a moderate policy, and when you are elected, then bring about your banking reform?”
My answer is that any political leader who promises the people any improvement in their conditions, and yet hides from them the fact that he can do only so much as this outside financial ring allows him to do is not sincere, said Mr. Lang, emphasizing every word of this significant declaration-
Wonderful words! -
And that leads us to another bogey - the Lang plan, he continued. At a conference held at Canberra in February, 1931, the Premiers had to decide what policy they would adopt towards Sir Otto Niemeyer’s declaration that the standard of living must come down.
There were only two proposals - the Commonwealth Government’s proposal that the Premiers should ask the Commonwealth Bank for more credits and that from the New South Wales Government which you know as the Lang plan.
So far as the rest of the Premiers were con- cerned, they were like Middleton’s roustabout - Hadn’t any opinions; hadn’t any ideas, he added, giving the intimate touch of the Premiers’ conference room.
The objection to the Commonwealth proposal was that the Commonwealth Bank at that time was committed to the policy of the Bank of England, and unless the Bank of England agreed to it, representations to the Commonwealth Bank were hopeless. Long before this, the Bank of England, together with theReserve Bank of America, had decided upon a world policy of deflation, and they were not likely to alter it at the request of a Premiers’ conference at Canberra.
There was a way, of course, for the Commonwealth Government’s policy to be enforced, and that was by using Parliament to break the connexion between the Bank of England and the Commonwealth Bank. But that is another story.
The Lang plan could bo put into effect without the assistance of the banks.
I don’t suppose many of you have forgotten the tirade of abuse that was hurled at me because of those proposals.
I remember the Sydney Telegraph had a cartoon; it was a dog with my face on it, and underneath it were the words “ Shoot the mad dog.”
It’s the only instance in my recollection where a powerful newspaper has deliberately incited people to assassinate a public man.
They told you I was out to besmirch the fair name of Australia. Heavens, what a song they made about it! But, let us have another look at it.
The proposals of the Lang plan were:
Abandon the gold standard.
The creation of a goods standard of currency.
The suspension of the payment of interest on overseas debt until more equitable terms were arranged.
To-day the gold standard is something like the mother-in-law joke - too old a joke to be even laughed at.
The next one was the creation of a goods standard of currency. Just listen to this: This is what Professor Shann wrote in the Melbourne Herald recently on his return from a trip to London.
Last Sunday I told you that Professor Shann was one of the authors of the Premiers plan and was the economic adviser to the Bank of New South Wales. In his article in the Melbourne Herald, the Professor outlined a scheme for a managed currency which be said was much approved of in London.
I will now quote the Professor’s words: “ It challenges our courage and our intelligence in their fullest measure. It may sound to some good party men uncommonly like Mr. Lang’s goods standard. What of that? Mr. Lang is a representative Australian, too, fond of ideals, but impatient of technique. Sir Basil Blackett, Sir Josiah Stamp, and Mr.R, G. Hawtrey, on the contrary, are men inside the charmed circle of the City of London, familiar with every point in its technique. If a goods standard as they fully understand it is monetary orthodoxy in 1933, it may prove the road along which Britain can lead a distracted world back to sanity.”
Dear! Oh, dear! Proposed by Lang in 1930, it’s the action of a mad mullah. It places a stain upon Australia’s reputation that you will never be able to wipe out. It will ruin a nation; but proposed in 1933 by Sir Basil Blackett and Mr. R. G. Hawtrey it may lead a distracted world back to sanity.
I wonder will you ever learn. You believed the newspapers when they attacked Labour on the Lang plan; I wonder if you will believe them again!
Do you ever stop to think that this is the only country in the whole world where every daily newspaper, year in and year out, consistently supports the one political party? Do you realize the significance of that?
And now we come to the third plank of the plan - that of the suspension of overseas interest payments.
This, you will recall, was said to be a most un-British proposal. It would mean that Australia would be posted as a defaulter, they claimed. Our trade would be boycotted, they said.
Newspapers which ordinarily retained more or legs an attitude of dignity descended to the gutter to find language forceful enough to vilify me and my proposal.
Reading the criticism at the time, I often pictured the man who was writing the article tearing his hair in exasperation because his vocabulary was not equal tothe occasion.
And yet, just listen to this: “ The amount of interest that England is in default to us is £30,000,000. In her budget you will find that salary cuts restoration, unemployed assistance and income tax reduction amount to £30,000,000. She has stolen our interest to give to her own people.”
Those are the words of Senator Robinson speaking in the United States Senate last month on Britain’s interest default to America.
The Lang Plan said: Suspend interest and use the money to provide employment for our own people. The British Treasurer defaults in his interest payment to America and Uses the money to restore salary cuts, increase unemployment benefits and reduce income tax.
Where is the difference?
There is Britain off the gold standard, drafting a goods standard of currency and defaulting in her overseas interest to improve the position of her own people.
Why is she doing it? Do you think the British Statesmen read the Lang Plan and said: That’s a good idea; we’ll copy it?
In England and America to-day, and in Australia soon, there is the same fight going on - the fight of the Treasury officials to free themselves from banking domination.
Overseas interest is repudiated - to use the language of our Australian newspapers. Why? Is it because the people who propose the policy don’t believe in honoring their obligations?
That isn’t the position at all. But if they use their revenue to pay oversea interest they must then go to the bank for money to carry on their ordinary services.
To free themselves from the grip of the banks they advocate a policy which enables them to keep their revenues for their own expenditure. To get the control of credit away from the private banking system they advocate a new credit system of a managed currency on a goods standard.
Mr.Corser. - I move -
That the honorable member for Reid be not further heard.
Honorable Members. - You cannot do that.
– No; the motion cannot be accepted. The ordinary Standing Orders do not apply during the election of the Speaker.
The CLERK- The House is operating under its Standing Orders. The motion is in order. The question is “ That the honorable member for Reid be not further heard.”
Question put. Division called for. Bells rung.
– I have only a few more words to say. Mr. Lang went on to say-
One of the things the Australian newspapers told you at that time was that Australia was an honorable nation, and had always paid its interest.
Australia never paid its interest before the depression came, friends. We always borrowed it in London.
Another fairy tale they tell you is that depressions are caused because the supply of commodities exceeds the demand, and then prices fall. The law of supply and demand, so far as commodities are concerned, is as dead as the dodo. It belongs to the period when England was an exporter of wool, and the biggest factory in the world was a four-roomed house.
To-day we can grow more wheat, wool and butter than we can consume, and if we run the mass production factories for a fortnight continuously we can make a year’ssupply of manufactured goods.
The law of supply and demand belongs to an age of scarcity, and this is an age of plenty. The banker creates his scarcity, however, by manipulation of the credit system.
The bells having ceased to ring,
The House divided.
The CLERK. - I appoint the honorable member for Robertson and the honorable member for Maranoa tellers for the Ayes, and the honorable member for Hunter and the honorable member for West Sydney tellers for the Noes.
– On a point of order, I object, Mr. Parkes, to this procedure. You have no authority to order a division and appoint tellers.
The CLERK. - No point of order can be taken during this division.
– I nominate myself for the position of Speaker.
The Tellers for the Noes not acting when appointed,
The CLERK declared the question resolved in the affirmative.
Members of the House then calling Mr. Bell to the Chair, he was taken out of his place by Mr. Hutchinson and Mr. Nairn and conducted to the Chair. Mr. Gander also approached the Chair.
Mr. SPEAKER ELECT, standing on the upper step, said - I desire to express my appreciation-
– There was a second nomination for the Speakership. These proceedings are most unfair and I emphatically protest. The nomination of Mr. Gander should have been submitted to the House.
– There was another nomination to be submitted.
– I desire to express my appreciation of the great honour which honorable members have done me by electing me to this important position, and I assure them that I shall at all times endeavour to maintain the high standards set by my predecessors and to uphold the best traditions of my office.
– I desire, on behalf of honorable members on this side, to offer you, Mr. Speaker, our very hearty congratulations on your election as Speaker of this House.
Honorable members interrupting,
– No one had an opportunity to nominate another honorable member. I take exception to Mr. Bell occupying’ the Chair.
– Order ! I appeal to honorable members, and especially to the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) to conduct themselves in accordance with the traditions of this House. As Speaker, I have authority which I hope it will not be necessary for me to exercise at this early stage.
– On behalf of honorable members I congratulate you, Mr. Bell, on your election to the high office of Speaker. For many years you have been a member of this chamber, and we all are aware of your fine personal qualities. You have never stood higher in the , esteem of honorable members than you do at the present time. It is a great honour to any man to be appointed to the highest position offering in this branch of the legislature. You, sir, have won this distinction by reason of the facts that you have served your district in this Parliament for many years, and that in the last Parliament you occupied the position of Chairman of Committees, and discharged your duties with credit to yourself and the House. As was said by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Hutchinson), you displayed not only marked ability in carrying out the duties of Chairman of Committees, but also strict impartiality in every decision which you gave. Notwithstanding the demonstration that has taken place this morning, I have no doubt that you have the entire respect of every honorable member in this chamber, irrespective of the party to which he belongs. You follow a long line of distinguished Speakers who have established splendid traditions in this chamber - men who have lef t behind them a record of fine service rendered to the community and to Parliament - and I am confident that those traditions will be upheld by you during your occupancy of the Chair. On behalf of honorable members on this aide of the House I assure you that the loyalty that was shown to your predecessors will be extended to you, and that you will have the co-operation of all honorable members in carrying out your responsible duties. I congratulate you upon your appointment, and trust that your record of office will bear favorable comparison with the fine records established by your predecessors.
.-You, Mr. Bell, have been chosen as the chief presiding officer in this House, and on behalf of the members of the Opposition I offer to you our congratulations. We have had some experience of serving under you as Chairman of Committees, in which position you displayed marked ability and impartiality, which I feel confident will be maintained in the higher position to which you have been elected. I congratulate you very sincerely.
– On behalf of the Australian Country Party I congratulate you, sir, on your election as Speaker of this House. You came to this Parliament with a very fine record as a soldier, and throughout your career as a legislator you have shown great independence of spirit and action.
As Chairman of Committees you displayed firmness and impartiality, and I am sure that, during your period as Speaker, you will maintain the same high standard. On behalf of the Country Party, I assure you of our support in carrying out your duties. At this stage T. bring to your notice the undesirableness of all-night sittings, which unfortunately have been too frequent in recent years. V/ e trust that you will use your influence to ensure that the Standing Orders which were amended to obviate all-night sittings will be carried out in their entirety - in the spirit, as well as in the letter.
– The circumstances of your election as Speaker, sir, were, I feel sure, not desired by you. I believe it was your wis’h that tho proper procedure should be followed. Whatever views may be held by some honorable members regarding the debate this morning, it cannot de denied that every honorable member has the right to exercise to the fullest extent at any sitting of this Blouse whatever privileges he possesses.
– Those privileges should not be abused.
– Had the minority in this Parliament the power to catch by tho collar of the coat and throw out of the chamber men who, we thought, were abusing their privileges, there are on the Government benches many men, including some who hold ministerial rank, who would, on occasions, have been subjected to that indignity, and perhaps the honorable member who has interjected would have been one of them. I understand that the election of Speaker affords an opportunity, which on all other occasions is denied by the Standing Orders, to express the truth in the plainest possible terms and to lay bare the facts of different situations so that the community may be made fully aware of them. The extraordinary position which arose this morning was one to which, I feel sure, Mr. Bell, you personally were not a party. I cannot adversely criticize the manner in which you discharged your duties in the office of Chairman of Committees in the last Parliament, although on occasions I differed from your rulings, particularly when you laid it down that a message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation precluded an extension of the scope of the legislation to which it related, and thus prevented our making provision for certain sections of the community who needed assistance but were not covered by the measure. Doubtless your ruling reflected the opinion that you held as to the lines that the debate should take. On those occasions the numbers were against me, and my colleagues and I submitted to the will of the majority. I am confident that while you were Chairman of Committees you found that the members of my party presented their views in a reasonable manner. We shall adopt a similar attitude towards you in your new position, even though the circumstances in which you have been placed in the Chair to-day have no parallel in the history of this Parliament. You yourself cannot feel pleased at tha manner in which you have been elected. I am sure you would have approved of the feeling of the House being disclosed upon any other nominations that honorable members might have submitted. Had that course been adopted the community would have been satisfied that, in the event of your election, which probably would have resulted, you were the deliberate choice of the House. We assure you that we shall always act in conformity with the Standing Orders. I hope that you will extend to us that reasonable latitude for which your predecessor was noted. We merely wish to have the fullest opportunity to express the ideas that we hold, and, what is most important, faithfully discharge our obligations to those whom we represent. I cannot compliment you upon your election because of the circumstances which surrounded your elevation to the chair ; but if, as I hope and expect will be the case, you display impartiality in the discharge of your important functions, every member of my party will be pleased to congratulate you at the expiration of your term of office.
, - As the ‘honorable member responsible for your elevation to the Chair at an earlier hour than would otherwise have been the case, I congratulate you, Mr. Bell, upon the distinction to which you have attained. I feel sure that a large majority of the members of this House are prepared to echo that sentiment. All will agree with the last speaker (Mr. Beasley), that honorable members have the right to express themselves as they think proper upon a matter of this kind. In moving to curtail the debate my only desire was to prevent it from being dragged on interminably. The Government has important business to transact in the direction of effecting reforms that are desired by a large section of the community, and so that it might be proceeded with, I, as a private member, was entitled to take action to terminate a debate that might have continued for days.
– I remind honorable members that the ruling from the Chair on the occasion to which reference is now being made may not be debated at this stage.
– I congratulate you, Mr. Bell. I am confident that the experience you gained as Chairman of Committees has eminently fitted you for the high position to which you have now been elected.
.- As a new member I raise a question of privilege. We have always been given to understand that this Government stands for constitutional action ; yet it is the first to act unconstitutionally when the opportunity to do so presents itself. It is the practice in the British Parliament upon the occasion of the election of a Speaker to permit a member who has just been elected by the people to express his views in the frankest manner. The procedure of this Parliament has been modelled upon that of the House of Commons, and a similar practice has hitherto been followed here. I claim, however, that today that right has been denied to me.
– By a servant of the House.
– By a servant of the House.
– Order ! I again remind honorable members that the matter to which the honorable member is referring may not be discussed at this stage.
– I am raising it as a matter of privilege. I am protesting, not against your elevation to the office of
Speaker, but against the disgraceful method that was adopted to secure your election.
– Order ! The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) has intimated that he is raising a matter of privilege. The Standing Orders require that a member raising such a matter shall conclude with a motion. As no motion may be moved until Mr. Speaker has been presented to and accepted by the Governor-General, it is not competent for the honorable member to proceed further along those lines at the present stage.
– Allow me to congratulate you, sir, upon your elevation to the position of Speaker of this House. You must now be non-partisan. As a small minority of the members of this House, we of the Labour party of New South Wales shall raise our voices with respect to many matters that will come before you during your occupancy of the Chair, and it will be our duty to see that whatever privileges we possess are not taken from us by either the Government or any agency of the Government. We are making the present protest because we consider that we have been deprived of one of those privileges, that of submitting a nomination for the position which you now hold. I believe that you are not constitutionally in the Chair to-day.
– I congratulate you, Mr. Bell, upon your election as Speaker. I can assure you that you have the confidence, respect and admiration of the great majority of the members of the House. Although we have witnessed an unpleasant and unseemly scene this morning, I believe that the circumstances of your election will redound to the credit of yourself and of the parties which supported you. A certain section of the House has suggested that it desired to nominate another honorable member for the Speakership, but that is not a fact. One honorable member, who spoke for a considerable time this morning, concluded his remarks by nominating himself, but the nomination was not even seconded. The proceedings of the members of that party were largely in the nature of a farce. We have to consider our position as members of this National Parliament, and we should avoid scenes that will be regarded by the public as savouring of a circus. I am very much afraid that the honorable member forReid-
– I ask the honorable member not to continue in that strain. There is no motion before the Chair, and the matter to which he is referring is now ended.
Motion (by Mr. Gander) proposed -
That the honorable member for New England be not further heard.
Question - put. The House divided.
Ayes …. 9
Noes . . . . 60
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I thank honorable members for having indicated so strongly their desire that my remarks should be continued. The vote just recorded indicates not only the appreciation of honorable members of what
I have been saying, but also of your election, Sir, as Speaker of this House. The overwhelming vote just recorded may be regarded as an expression of the great confidence which honorable members have in you. While offering my congratulations, which I realize are endorsed by a great majority of honorable members,I suggest that the proceedings this morning should impress upon the Government the necessity for a consultation between the representatives of all parties in this House with a view to amending the Standing Orders.
– I again remind honorable members that at present there is no question before the Chair, and that no business can be transacted until Mr. Speaker has been presented to the GovernorGeneral, after which His Excellency will give reasons why Parliament has been called together. In these circumstances I ask honorable members to confine their remarks to offering congratulations, if they so desire, to Mr. Speaker. There is no rule governing the matter, but I ask honorable members not to introduce irrelevant subjects.
– I was about to make a suggestion regarding a matter of great importance to this chamber.
– The honorable member will have an opportunity to do what he desires at a later stage.
– If I have that assurance I shall conclude by reiterating my congratulations to you, Sir, and by assuring you that you will have the support of the Country party, of which I am a member.
.- I hope that I shall not be regarded as presuming if I offer some suggestions to assist you, Sir, in carrying out the duties of Speaker as I think that they should be carried out. Every honorable member will admit that if Parliamentary institutions are to survive, the rights and privileges of honorable members must be fully preserved.
– I rise to a point of order. You, Sir, have just ruled that I could not make any suggestions based upon the proceedings in this chamber this morning. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) is now discussing those proceedings.
– He is not.
– I contend that the rule which applied to me should apply also to the honorable member for East Sydney.
– The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) had not proceeded sufficiently far to enable me to determine what he proposed to say, but I ask him not to introduce any matters irrelevant to my assumption of the office of Speaker.
– I was endeavouring to make a few observations that might assist you, Sir, in carrying out the duties associated with the position to which you have been appointed to-day. With your experience as Chairman of Committees, you will appreciate the fact that minorities in this chamber have rights and privileges which must be preserved, and in order that those rights and privileges may be safeguarded, Mr. Speaker must be strictly impartial in his decisions. You will also appreciate that, regardless of political differences, no member of this chambershould have rights and privileges in excess of those enjoyed by any other honorable member.
– The honorable member is not in order.
– It will not be right if certain honorable members have greater privileges than others.
– The honorable member is pointing out the obvious.
– Rather do I think that the opposite is obvious.
– Order! The honorable member for East Sydney must understand that the subject which he is raising cannot be discussed at this juncture. He has had sufficient experience in this Parliament to know that he will have another opportunity to bring the matter forward.
– Because of that experience I desire to make some suggestions now.
– Order !
– Believing that other opportunities will be limited, I place on record my protest against the unconstitutional and disgraceful action in the House this morning.
– I order the honorable member for East Sydney to resume his seat.
I thank the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin), and the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page), and other honorable members who have been good enough to offer their congratulations to me upon my election to the office of Speaker. I can only say that while occupying the important position in which the House has been good enough to place me it will be my constant endeavour to deserve the complimentary remarks which honorable members have made concerning me, and to justify their high expectations.
– I have ascertained that it will be the pleasure of His Excellency the Governor-General to receive you, Mr. Speaker, in the Library of the Parliament at 2.45 p.m. this day.
– Prior to my presentation to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, the bells will be rung for three minutes so that those honorable members who so desire may accompany me to the Library and there be presented to His Excellency.
Sitting suspended from 12.55 p.m. to 2.45 p.m.
The House proceeded to the Library, there to present Mr. Speaker to His Excellency the Governor-General.
The House having re-assembled,
– I have to report that, accompanied by honorable members, I proceeded to the Library of Parliament and presented myself to His Excellency the Governor-General as the choice of the House, and that His Excellency was kind enough to congratulate me on my election as Speaker.
The Usher of the Black Rod being announced, was admitted, and delivered the message that His Excellency the Governor-General desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber forthwith.
Mr. Speaker and honorable members attended accordingly, and, having returned,
– I have received from His Excellency the Governor-General a commission authorizing me to administer the oath, or affirmation, of allegiance to members of the House. I now lay the commission on the table.
– I have to announce to the House that on the 12th October, 1934, certain changes were made in the composition of the Ministry, which is now constituted as follows : -
Minister of State for External Affairs and Minister-in-Charge of Territories. - Senator the Right Honorable Sir George Foster Pearce, K.C.V.G.
Vice-President of the Executive Council and Minister of State for Health and Minister of State for Repatriation. - Right Honorable William Morris Hughes. K.C., M.P.
Postmaster-General and MinisterinCharge of Development, and of Scientific and Industrial Research. - Senator the Honorable Alexander John McLachlan.
Minister of State for the Interior. - Honorable Eric John Harrison, M.P.
Minister without portfolio, directing negotiations for trade treaties. - Honorable Sir Henry Somer Gullett, K.C.M.G., M.P.
Minister without portfolio, in charge of War Service Homes, and assisting the Minister of State for Repatriation. - Honorable Josiah Francis, M.P.
Minister without portfolio, assisting the Minister of State for Commerce. - Senator the Honorable Thomas Cornelius Brennan, K.C.
Minister without portfolio. - Honorable Charles William Clanan Marr, D.S.O., M.C.. V.D., M.P.
– I have to announce that no changes have been made in the leadership of the Opposition. I have been chosen leader, and the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) deputy leader, of the Opposition of this House.
– I desire to intimate to the House that I have been elected leader and the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) deputy leader, of the Country party in this House.
– - There has been no change in the leadership of the party to which I have thi honour to belong, though we have a fe*more members in the House. I shall have the privilege of leading the party, and the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) will be the deputy leader.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for so act. to amend the Seat of Government Supremo Court Act 1933.
Bill- brought up by Mr. Lyons and read a first time.
– I move -
That the following joint address be presented to His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester : -
To His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester, Knight of the Garter, Knight of the Thistle, Knight of St. Patrick, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Personal Aide-de-Camp to His Majesty the King.
May it please Your Royal Highness -
We, The Senate and the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, gladly accept this opportunity of conveying to Your Royal Highness an assurance of our attachment and loyalty to the Person and Crown of His Majesty the King.
This is the first official visit of Your Royal Highness to a dominion of the British Empire, and the people of Australia are proud that such a compliment should be paid to them and to their country. We regard your visit as a manifestation of the deep interest which His Gracious Majesty has always shown in the welfare of his subjects in the dominions.
The warmth and spontaneity of the welcome given to you by the people of this country is an expression of deep affection for and loyalty to the Royal Family of which you are a member.
In the course of your progress through Australia you will come into personal contact with large numbers of our citizens, and you will have an opportunity of measuring the material advancement which has been effected during the period which has elapsed since the original settlement of Australia.
In recent years the Commonwealth of Australia hits attained the status of a nation within the Empire. This honorable achievement has been accompanied by an increasing devotion of our people to the British Commonwealth of Nations and to the ideals of free and democratic government with which the people of the British Empire have been associated for so many centuries.
In the present time of world crisis many problems arise for the consideration of the Governments and peoples of the Empire, the solution of which can be greatly assisted by a spirit of co-operation. It will be our earnest endeavour to approach these problems in that spirit, with the object of devising methods of mutual assistance and support which will adranee the prosperity of all, and preserve and strengthen the ties between the members of the British Commonwealth.
We express to Your Royal Highness the warmest and most cordial wishes of our people for an interesting and pleasant visit to our country, and we invite you to convey to His Majesty the King this message of loyalty and devotion to his Person.
I submit this motion to honorable members with feelings of extreme pleasure and gratification. The visit of His Royal Highness has afforded us yet another illustration of the active personal interest in Australia displayed by His Majesty the King, and of his keen appreciation of events of national significance to this portion of his dominions. It is most appropriate that we, the members of the House of Representatives, a unit of the Parliamentary institution which occupies so high a position in the structure of the British Commonwealth of Nations, should in our corporate capacity express our heartiest welcome to His Majesty’s son, who on the day after the first meeting of this new Parliament will reach the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth, and invite His Royal Highness to inform His Majesty of our deep sense of loyalty and devotion to His Throne and Person. I commend the motion to honorable members knowing full well that the proposed address will receive the unanimous approval of this House.
– I support the motion moved by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) which provides for the presentation of an address to His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester. Speaking for the honorable members whom I have the honour to lead, I express the hope that the visit of His Royal Highness will be pleasurable to himself and that he will take back to Great Britain and to His Majesty the King, the very kindest remembrances of his sojourn in Australia.
– I desire to associate the members of the Country party with the motion which has been moved, and endorse the sentiments that have been expressed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin).
– I also support the motion on behalf of the party which I lead. We regret, however, that the circumstances of a great many people in Australia are not of such a character as to give the Duke of Gloucester, when he knows about them, the pleasure he would otherwise have. That, however, is a matter for us to remedy. We have done our best as a party to rectify this situation, and we hope that the time is near at hand when, by our efforts, the circumstances of a great many of our people will be materially altered and ultimately contentment and happiness will prevail in thousands of Australian homes from which it is absent to-day.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave - I move -
That we, the members of the House of Representatives, on assembling at the opening of the Fourteenth Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, extend our deep sympathy to the Government and the people of Jugoslavia in the death of His Majesty King Alexander.
The announcement of the tragic death of His Majesty King Alexander was received in Australia with feelings of very sincere regret and also of horror because of the dastardly act which terminated his reign while he was still comparatively young and zealously promoting the interests of his country. Immediately after hearing the sad news I requested His Majesty’s Ambassador at Belgrade to be so good as to convey to the Government of Jugoslavia the deep sympathy of the Government and the people of Australia in the great national loss which that country had sustained.
As a tribute to the memory of the deceased ruler, flags were flown at halfmast on Government buildings throughout Australia on Thursday last, 18th October, on the occasion of King Alexander’s funeral.
The sympathy of the members of this House will go out to Queen Marie and family, and to the Jugoslavian Government and people in the death of King Alexander.
– I desire to associate myself, and the members of the Opposition, with the expressions of regret that have been passed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons). We join with all other honorable members of the House in extending to the people of Jugoslavia our deep sympathy in the loss of their ruler, King Alexander.
– I desire to associate the Country party with the resolution which has been moved, and to express our horror at the ghastly deed which was committed. We also extend our sympathy to the Royal Family of Jugoslavia, and to that nation as a whole. We trust that the evil consequences that, on a previous occasion, followed an assassination of this kind will not be repeated.
– My party also desires to be associated with the message of sympathy which is to be conveyed to the sorrowing relatives of the late King of Jugoslavia.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– by leave - I move -
That we, the members of the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, express our profound sympathy with the people of France in the death of Monsieur RaymondPoincare, a former President of the Republic of France and one of her most eminent statesmen.
The death of Monsieur Poincare occurred early last week, and I immediately conveyed through His Majesty’s Ambassador at Paris a message of sympathy from the Government and the people of Australia. Monsieur Poincare was one of the foremost statesmen in the history of France. He was President of the Republic for a period of approximately seven years, commencing in 1913. His name will always be associated with the heroic sacrifices of France in the great European War during which time a tremendous responsibility, indeed, devolved upon the occupant of the office of President of the Republic. For many years before and subsequent to that period he served his country devotedly and with outstanding ability as Prime Minister, and in several other ministerial offices.
As a tribute of respect, flags were flown at half-mast on government buildings throughout Australia on Saturday last on the occasion of the funeral of Monsieur Poincare.
We extend to the people of France our deep sympathy in the demise of one who rendered such distinguished service in the interests of his country, and whose high reputation as a statesman was acknowledged throughout the world.
– On behalf of members of the Opposition, I join with the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) in expressing our regret at the death of that great statesman, Monsieur Poincare, and in extending to the people of Prance our sincere sympathy in their loss.
– The members of the Country party also wish to join with the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), and with other members of Parliament, in carrying this resolution of sympathy, and in expressing our regret at the death of a great statesman. Monsieur Poincare demonstrated his courage and patriotism by coming back to the hurly-burly of politics after the strenuous war years, and though many may disagree with the solutions that he attempted of European problems, none will deny the sincerity of his efforts.
– On behalf of the members of my party, I express our deep regret at the death of Monsieur Poincare, and we offer to his sorrowing relatives and friends our deepest sympathy.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– by leave - I move -
That an expression of the deep sympathy of the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia be conveyed to the Government of France in the death of Monsieur Louis Barthou, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Honorable members are aware that Monsieur Barthou had just met, on his arrival in France, His Majesty King Alexander of Jugoslavia, to whose regretted death I referred a few moments ago, and whose tragic fate he shared at the hands of the assassin. An expression of sympathy was immediately telegraphed by me on behalf of the Government and people of the Commonwealth. Monsieur Barthou, in his capacity as Minister for Foreign Affairs, was actually engaged in duties connected with his important office, at the time of the sad occurrence. To the
Government and the people of France the sympathy of the members of the House of Representatives is extended. The late Minister had been engaged in the public life of France for a period of 45 years, and had devoted himself wholeheartedly to the service of his country.
– I join with the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), and with the other members of the House, in expressing regret at the assassination of Monsieur Barthou. I also profoundly regret that there are still, in this enlightened age, persons who deem it necessary to take human life in order to express their opinions. Fortunately, Australia has always been free from occurrences of this kind, and I trust that it will continue to be so.
– The members of the Country party desire to be associated with this motion of sympathy, and to express their horror at the assassination of this prominent Minister of State.
– My party also desires to express its sympathy with the people of France in the death of Monsieur Barthou.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– by leave - I move -
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Frederick William Bamford, a former member of the House of Representatives and a Minister of State, places on record its appreciation of hia meritorious public service, and tenders its deep sympathy to his widow and the members of his family in their bereavement.
It is with feelings of deep regret that I refer to the death of Mr. Bamford, which occurred in Sydney on the 10th September last. The late gentleman waa a member of the first Commonwealth Parliament, and represented the division of Herbert continuously from 1901 until the expiration of the Ninth Parliament in 1925. He was Minister for Home Affairs for a short period in 1916-17. He served as a member of several royal commissions and parliamentary committees, and was Chairman of Committees and Deputy Speaker during his last two and a half years of parliamentary service. Mr. Bamford possessed sterling personal qualities and a genial disposition, and was held in high esteem by all with whom he was associated in the public life of the Commonwealth. To his widow, and the members of his family who are left to mourn his loss, we extend our sincere sympathy.
– I join with other members of the House in expressing my regret at the passing of the late Frederick Bamford, whom I had the privilege of knowing for many years. He was a member of this Parliament when I was first elected to it in 1910, and I can endorse everything that has been said regarding his genial personality. He was one of those who always preferred to do a kind action rather than offer an injury. He was attentive to his duties, and I can remember that, as Chairman of Committees, he carried out his work impartially and efficiently. I sincerely regret his death, and offer my sympathy, and that of my colleagues, to his widow in her loss.
– I desire to express the regret of members of my party at the death of the Honorable F. W. Bamford, and to join in the motion of sympathy with his family. He was a familiar figure in the public life of Australia ever since federation. Although a fearless exponent of what he believed to be right, the late honorable gentleman always expressed himself with such kindliness and good humour that he had scarcely an enemy. He was Chairman of Committees when I first entered this Parliament as a young man, and I was indebted to him for his advice on many matters of procedure.
– The members of my party also desire to be associated with the motion of sympathy with the widow and relatives of the Honorable F. W. Bamford, and with the expressions of regret at his death. It was not my privilege to know him personally, but I have read of his career, and I believe that he was associated with the Australian Labour party in its early years.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– by leave - I move -
That this House expresses ite great regret at the death of Mr. James Mathews, a former member of the House of Representatives, records its appreciation of his zealous public service, and tenders its deep sympathy to his widow in her bereavement.
I regret to announce that Mr. Mathews died in Melbourne on Tuesday last, 16th October. He, like the late Mr. Bamford, was a member of the Commonwealth Parliament for a considerable period, having represented the division of Melbourne Ports, Victoria, in this House, from 1906 until the expiration of the Twelfth Parliament in 1931. He waa Chairman of the Committee on the Causes of Death and Invalidity in the Commonwealth, in 1916-17, and a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works from 1917 to 1925. Mr. Mathews was a very active member of the House, and devoted ‘himself most zealously to the discharge of his parliamentary duties. During the closing years of his parliamentary career, his health was considerably impaired, and those who were members of this House during that period are well aware of and admired his courageous efforts, despite his diminishing physical strength, to continue to carry out his duties as a representative of the electors. The late Mr. Mathews was a man of high personal worth, and during a long parliamentary career he served Australia faithfully and well. To his widow we extend our deep sympathy in her loss.
– I support the Prime Minister in the motion expressing the regret of this Parliament at the passing of one of its former members. I sustained a great personal loss in the death of Mr. James Mathews, who was a member of this House for 25 years, and with whom I was closely “associated for many years. In the course of my life I do not think I shall ever meet a man for whom I shall have a higher regard. For fifteen years the late Mr. Mathews suffered acutely without a murmer courageously attending to his duties in this Parliament and outside of it, always suffering and always in pain. In extending our expression of sympathy to his widow, it would not be out of place for me to say that the devotion shown to him by his widow during the years of his illness has filled me with admiration.
– On behalf of the members of the Country party I desire to support the motion of sympathy moved by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons). When I first came into this Parliament the late Mr. Mathews was a hale and hearty man, one of its foremost debaters and a shrewd interjector. We saw him bear a long and painful illness uncomplainingly and with the most gallant heroism and courage. I am sure that the sympathy of every member of this House must go out to his widow in her loss.
– It is perfectly natural that we approach a discussion of this motion of sympathy perhaps more feelingly when it is extended to the relatives of a man whom we have known personally. In this case it was my privilege to know the late Mr. Mathews. When I first came into this House it was a pitiful sight to witness his sufferings. His illness was, I think, the result of the toll which the performance of his duties exacted from him, and of the nervous strain imposed upon him over a long period of years in this Parliament. His time has come, and he has now gone into the Great Beyond. He will be remembered by many for the part he took in the fight in the interests of struggling humanity. We desire to associate ourselves with this motion of sympathy with bis sorrowing widow.
– I desire to express my regret at the passing of one of the dearest and best friends I have ever had. The late Mr. Mathews was a most genial, generous and kind-hearted man. As the recipient of many kindnesses at his hands, when I first became a-member of this House, I particularly desire to pay a personal tribute to one of the very best men it has ever been my privilege to meet as a colleague in public life. I should also like to say that, during his long illness, the late Mr. Mathews derived the greatest comfort from his knowledge of the high esteem in which he was held by the members of this Parliament, with which he had been so actively associated. His public life was the exemplification of the highest standard attained in politics. With other honorable members
I join in expressing my very deep regret at the passing of one who proved himself worthy of the greatest esteem, and we extend to his widow and other relatives who mourn his loss our deep sympathy.
– I desire personally to associate myself with the motion of sympathy moved by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), at the death of the late Mr. Mathews. In my early association with this House, as a young man, I found Mr. Mathews always ready to help a new member and to show him “ the ropes.” He was one of those kindly, genial souls who endeared himself to all who knew him, and Australia suffered a great loss when his health became so impaired that he was no longer able to attend the sittings of the Parliament. My most pleasing memories of my early political life in this Parliament surround my associations with the late honorable gentleman. I join with the motion expressing the deepest regret at his passing, and sympathy with those who are left behind to mourn him.
– The late Mr. Mathews was my friend, mate and comrade from the time he first came into this House, and for many years before he entered it. He never broke a pledge, nor did he refuse to give help to another if he were able to give it. He was steadfast and true to every plank of the platform of his party, never failing to respond when he was called upon. No man in parliamentary life was ever held in higher esteem by his constituents and his friends than was the late honorable member for Melbourne Ports. His constituents knew full well that he would carry out his duties, and did not fail him when he was no longer able to take his seat in Parliament owing to the contraction of a most unfortunate and painful disease. No woman could have nursed an invalid with greater care, and no one could have been . more assiduous in her task than the widow of the late honorable member. He has gone down to the deep dust preferring the ashes of cremation to the mouldering of the clay. I believe if there is another world he will be there to welcome his friends, for he had the capacity of making many friends, who not only loved him, but also held him in the highest esteem.
– I desire, if I may be so privileged, to associate myself with the motion before the House. When I first entered this Parliament I witnessed the amazing courage with which the late Mr. Mathews faced the difficulties caused by his illness. I had many conversations with him, and was struck with the extraordinary fortitude that he displayed, and his bright and cheerful outlook. I was forced, as were other honorable members, to admire the manner in which he carried on. I wish to express the deepest sympathy with his widow, who with the extraordinary courage that has been mentioned this afternoon;, bore for so long the burden which her husband’s illness imposed on her.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– by leave - I move -
That this House expresses its great regret at the death of Sir Tannatt William Edgeworth David, K.B.E., C.M.G., D.S.O., D.Sc., F.R.S., records its appreciation of his distinguished service to Australia, and tenders its deep sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
Sir Edgeworth David, a notable figure in Australia, passed away in Sydney on the 28th August last. He was widely known - indeed, far beyond Australia - for his eminent services in the cause of science and of exploration. Despite his advanced age, he volunteered for service in the Great War, and during his active service in France his special knowledge and great experience were invaluable to the Australian and British forces. He was a man of outstanding intellect, and charming personality, and his remarkable record of scientific achievement entitles him to rank high among those who have rendered very distinguished service to Australia.
As a tribute to Sir Edgeworth David’s great public services, the Commonwealth Government associated itself with the Government of New South Wales in the State funeral which was accorded him.
To his widow and family we tender our deep sympathy in their bereavement.
– On behalf of the Opposition I support the motion that has been moved by the Right Honorable the Prime Minister.
– I am glad to have the opportunity to associate myself with the motion that has been moved by the Prime Minister, expressing regret at the passing of my old teacher and personal friend, Professor David. Probably no person in the Commonwealth has done more for the Sydney University, for New South Wales, and for Australia, than the late Professor David. The knowledge that he possessed of the subjects which he taught, and the very practical interest that he displayed in all his students, made him an ideal teacher. He afterwards stimulated many famous men into doing wonderfully good work. When he first came to Australia he carried out a geological survey of New South Wales, which resulted in the discovery of the great seam of coal that brought into being the mines at Maitland and Cessnock which to-day are maintaining the coal industry of Australia. Subsequently he carried out in the Pacific and at the South Pole very extensive work which is of invaluable scientific interest. When well past middle age he helped to organize in the ranks of engineering students throughout Australia, a tunnelling corps which saw active service in France. On the battle front he was an inspiration to every one who came into contact with him. During the whole of his lifetime there was no physical or moral evil that he did not endeavour to combat. He also found time to take an interest in every philanthropic work that lay close to his hand. I venture to say that he and his wonderful wife exerted in Australia an influence for good that has not been equalled by any other couple in the history of this nation.
– The party that I lead wishes to associate itself with the motion of sympathy with the widow and relatives of the late Sir Edgeworth David.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
Motion by (Mr. Lyons) agreed to -
That Mr. Speaker be requested to transmit the foregoing resolutions respectively to the Governments of France and Jugoslavia, and the relatives of the several persons specified therein, together with a copy of the speeches delivered in connexion with them.
– As a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased persons, I suggest that the sitting of the House be suspended for one hour.
Sitting suspended from4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
– What stage has been reached regarding the royal commission’s inquiry into the oil and petrol industry? Is the Government prepared to allow the commission to continue its inquiries, seeing that it has occupied a very considerable time already, and has not arrived at its decision, or has the Government any information to convey to the House?
– The Government, having set up the royal commission, and given it certain powers to investigate the matters which have been referred to it, cannot dictate as to when it shall conclude its sittings’, but we are anxious that its report shall be furnished as soon as possible. We are somewhat disappointed that the report has not yet been received, but we hope that it will come to hand in the near future.
– In view of the disturbed condition of the wool market, as indicated by the great withdrawals of wool from offering, will the Prime Minister indicate with what countries the Government is at present negotiating trade treaties, and whether there is any prospect of finalizing the treaties during the present wool season?
– I think that it is fairly generally known that the Government is negotiating at the present time with the object of securing trade treaties with Belgium and Italy, but we intend to continue our negotiations with other countries also. As indicated in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, an outstanding feature of the policy of the Government is the establishment of trade treaties with the object of increasing, if possible, and, at any rate, maintaining, the markets that exist for our primary products. It is impossible for the Government to indicate any particular time when it is hoped that these treaties will be concluded. We are pushing on with the negotiations as rapidly as possible, and I hope in regard to one of these countries, at any rate, to be able in the next few days to make an announcement that satisfactory trading arrangements have been completed.
– In view of the Prima Minister’s promise in March last, when he visited the northern coalfields, and the reiteration of that promise in his policy speech, that immediate steps would be taken to erect a hydrogenation plant for the extraction of oil from coal, is there any truth in the published statement that the Government does not now propose to proceed with the erection of that plant for twelve months ?
– I have never stated that the Government would immediately proceed with the erection of such a plant. I pointed out - and I think that the honorable member knows it - after hearing the representations of deputations from the coal-fields, that certain experiments had to be carried out by an English company before we would be justified in setting up such a plant in Australia ; but I indicated that I would be prepared to consult the other members of the Ministry, particularly the Minister controlling the department, and the department itself.
– And the Parliament ?
– The matter will have to come to the Parliament finally. It was necessary to consider whether it would be possible to carry out such experiments in Australia simultaneously with those undertaken in England. I find that the cost of such a proposition precludes its adoption; but we are not losing any time so far as the investigations are concerned, and I can assure the honorable member that all possible steps will bo taken in order to attain success, which we hope will lead to the employment of, at any rate, a number of men on the coal-fields, where unemployment is now so severe.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral state whether the Commonwealth Government has made a reply to the case that has been submitted by Western Australia to the Privy Council on the subject of its secession from the Commonwealth? Does the Government intend to present a case from its own point of view, and if so, who is likely to represent Australia at the hearing ?
– The honorable member’s question raises matters of policy which have yet to be finally determined by the Government, but which will no doubt be decided at the earliest possible moment.
– Will the Prime Minister inform me whether the Government will take advantage of the presence in Australia of Field-Marshal Lord Milne and Sir Maurice Hankey to seek advice from them in regard to a suitable defence for Australia?
– Subject to the right of the Australian Parliament and Government to decide what would be adequate defences of Australia, the Government will, without any hesitation, consult with the gentlemen named because of their wide knowledge of the subject.
– Is the Minister for Commerce in a position to make an official announcement of the result of the poll of dairy producers taken on the 11th instant, under the provisions of the Dairy Produce Act 1933? If fie cannot give the final figures, is he able to make any announcement whatever respecting the poll?
– The figures are available, and disclose an overwhelming majority in favour of the continuation of the existing legislation.
– Will the Prime Minister inform me under what authority or statute, the Commonwealth Bank issues “ fiat “ money in Australia 1
– If I understand the honorable member’s question aright, the action is taken under the Banks and Currency Act; but, if he will be good enough to place his question on the noticepaper, preferably with a little more detail as to what he desires to know, I shall furnish him with a fuller reply.
– Will the Prime Minister inform me whether it is the intention of the Government, as has been reported, to consult Mr. Malcolm MacDonald, Under-Secretary for the Dominions, on the subject of migration while he is in Australia? If so, will the Government give the House a full opportunity to review any agreement or suggestion that may be made in connexion with the matter, in view of the very great number of unemployed people in this country?
– I say without hesitation that, if any agreement were proposed on this subject, Parliament would have to be consulted ; but I also say, quite definitely, that the Government has no desire whatever to encourage migration while unemployment is so severely felt in Australia. Further than that, even though we might be prepared to discuss this subject with Mr. MacDonald, he has made it perfectly clear, in a public statement, that, in view of the existing conditions, he has no proposition of any kind to make on it. The Government has no present intention of entering into any arrangement of the kind referred to by the honorable member; but I hope that at some time in the future it will be possible, in the interests of Australia, to provide once again for migration by people from the other side of the world to Australia. In the immediate future there is no intention of encouraging anything of the kind.
– Can the Prim« Minister give me any indication of when he expects to receive the final report of the Wheat Commission?
– I understand that certain information in regard to the suggested allocation of the amount to which the Parliament is already committed in respect of the coming season’s crop should be available about the middle of November. The final report of the commission may be expected in January, or early in the next calendar year.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs state the reasons why discrimination has been shown against certain persons in the granting of licences for the importation of galvanized iron? Some persons have been allowed to import under licence, and others have not been allowed to do so during the present shortage of supplies.
– Owing to labour troubles and renewed building activity, there is a shortage of galvanized iron in Australia, and for that reason importations to “the extent of approximately 13,000 tons have been permitted under by-law. Persons who were known to be regular buyers of galvanized iron were granted licences. If the honorable member knows of any persons previously regular buyers of galvanized iron who have been refused licences I shall be glad if he will bring their names under my notice.
– In view of the fact that the duty on galvanized iron was lifted, due to industrial troubles in the Newcastle district, and as that trouble is now over and normal supplies of iron are being made available, is it the intention of the Minister to re-impose the duty on galvanized iron entering Australia?
– The duty on galvanized iron was not lifted. A quota of approximately 13,000 tons was permitted to be imported under by-law until the 31st January, in order that the rural industries and the building industry would not be further inconvenienced. Production in Australia has not yet overtaken the demand, but new works will shortly be entering into production and it is hoped that this increased production, and the overseas supplies of galvanized iron, will result in overcoming the present shortage.
– I do not think the Minister understood my last question. He said that permits to import galvanized iron had been issued to regular trading persons. I desire to know why have permits been refused to persons other than those who buy their iron from regular trading persons? Every member of the community expects to receive equal treatment from the Government.
– Surely the honorable member does not wish me to believe that the ordinary farmer imports his iron from overseas. It is the wholesale merchants who have bought from overseas. If any merchant ha3 not obtained his quota of the quantity permitted to be imported, and the honorable member will place the facts before me, I shall have the matter investigated.
– Will the Prime Minister inform me whether a special committee has been sitting, and has furnished a report, confidential or otherwise, to the Government in regard to the problem of farmers’ debts in Australia? If such a committee has been sitting, what are the names of the members of it f If such a report has been presented to the Government, will it be made available to honorable members before any matters arising out of it are placed before the House for consideration ?
– No special committee has been set up to deal with this subject, but the Government has sought advice upon it from those whom it felt to be competent to give such advice. This advice was obtained for the benefit of Cabinet, and no formal reports on it have been submitted. When the subject is placed before Parliament for consideration, such information as the Government has upon it will be made available to honorable members.
– Is the Prime Minister prepared seriously to consider the advisableness of introducing legislation to amend the sales tax acts with the object of eliminating the unnecessary provisions for the furnishing of sales tax bonds?
– I cannot give the honorable member any assurance in regard to this subject, which he has raised on previous occasions. When consideration is ‘being given to sales tax legislation, the Government will discuss the advisableness or otherwise of retaining the provisions relating to bonds.- That is the only assurance I can give the honorable member on the subject.
– In view of the large number of anxious inquiries being made by primary producers in straitened circumstances as to when they are likely to obtain assistance under the promised £20,000,000 rehabilitation scheme which the Government has undertaken to set in operation, and in regard to which promises were made before the last election, will the Prime Minister make a statement on tho subject, and indicate when definite relief measures will be taken?
– I have never committed the Government to any particular sum in this regard. We have admitted the necessity for giving real and substantial relief to - primary producers who arc in difficulties, and, as indicated in the Governor-General’s Speech, we shall lose no time in dealing with the subject. It will be necessary to consult each State government in regard to the matter, because each State will have its own peculiar difficulties. The Government has no power to deal with the subject without consultation with the State governments. The Loan Council will meet on Monday and Tuesday, and possibly on Wednesday of next week, in Canberra, and this opportunity, which is the earliest available will be taken to consult with the State governments on the subject.
– Is the Minister administering War Service Homes aware of the harsh treatment that is being meted out by the War Service Homes Commission to returned soldier occupants of homes who are being evicted because of arrears in their payments, and is he aware of the persecution and prosecution to which these people are being subjected after they .have been evicted? If he is aware of these things, will he state whether it is the intention of the Government to allow such an iniquitous policy to be pursued ?
– No housing scheme in any other part of the British Empire is as liberal as that devised by the Commonwealth Government to assist the occupiers of war service homes. From the date that the report of the committee of inquiry was presented to this House, all that a soldier has had to do has been to pay such sums as his income permits him to pay as recommended by the Committee of Inquiry. Any person who complies with those liberal terms can remain in his home in complete security until August of next year subject to recommendation 4. From all branches of the returned soldiers’ organization throughout Australia, expressions of appreciation have been received by the Government regarding the manner in which the War Service Homes Department is being administered.
– Seeing that the Minister for Trade and Customs visited my electorate during the recent election campaign and met a large number of tobacco-growers from whom he obtained first-hand information regarding the case for Australian tobacco-growers, is he now prepared to meet representatives of the Australian Tobacco Growers Association to discuss proposals for placing the tobacco industry on a sound footing?
– I am very glad that the honorable member asked that question, because, when I visited Tamworth, the honorable member was not present, so that I had to give to the growers whom I met there the information which I am about to disclose, instead of giving it to him. The growers, including representatives of the Australian Tobacco Growers Association, of which the honorable member is president, were represented at a conference held in Melbourne to discuss the needs of the industry, and at that conference a resolution was carried conveying a vote of thanks to the BritishAustralasian Tobacco Company for its generous buying policy, which was far better than the growers expected, and, on behalf of the growers, the mover wished to express their keen appreciation. That conference was arranged at the wish of the honorable member, as expressed in this House. The fact that the growers are able to sell good tobacco, this year at a reasonable price, and that there is a gradual turnover from the production of poorer grades to better grades, indicates that the policy of the Government is sound. If the honorable member would like a further conference to be held - and there have already been two or three at his request - I shall be delighted to meet the representatives of the growers if he will bring them together.
– Will the Minister for Customs inform the House of the date up to which Australian barley is guaranteed a free entry into Belgium?
– There is no ban on the entry of Australian barley into Belgium.
– But up to what date is its free entry guaranteed?
– There is no guarantee, and there is no ban. Negotiations are still proceeding between the representatives of the Commonwealth Government and the Belgian Government, and, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) indicated’ earlier, it is anticipated that a satisfactory result will be achieved.
– As the Christmas season is fast approaching, and as it is customary to provide extra assistance for the unemployed at that time, will the Government, in view of the fact that the Loan Council is meeting next week, take steps to supplement whatever measures the States may take for the relief of unemployment at this season?
– In considering employment proposals the Government will be very glad to give attention to the suggestion of the honorable member.
– Immediately after the Ottawa Conference it was reported in the press that the subject of foreign subsidized shipping was to be considered by a committee appointed for the purpose. Since then, I nave asked the Prime Minister on many occasions for information regarding the progress of the dis cussions which have taken place between the governments of the Commonwealth, Great Britain, New Zealand, and Fiji, and he has always replied that the matter was still under consideration. I now ask the Prime Minister whether the matter is still merely under consideration, or whether it is proposed to take some action at some time or other?
– It would be easy to take some action, but that would not be the same as guaranteeing a beneficial effect as the result of it. The matter is still under consideration. It is essential, if we are to take action of an effective kind, that there shall be co-operation between the governments of Great Britain, New Zealand, and the Commonwealth. We have been in consultation with the governments of Great Britain and of New Zealand for a considerable time. Only recently we received an intimation from the Government of New Zealand that two Ministers would visit Australia in a few days’ time to confer with the Commonwealth Government on various matters, and this subject of foreign subsidized shipping will then receive urgent consideration.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral been directed to complaints from the back country of Western Australia and other States regarding interference with wireless reception by local power plant and power stations? Would it ‘be possible to bring this matter before the forthcoming Conference of Premiers with a view to appropriate action being taken by the States?
– This difficulty has been engaging the attention of the department for a considerable time. I have no knowledge of specific complaints from the districts mentioned by the honorable member, but many complaints have been received of interference, by nearby engineering activities.
– It is as bad in Canberra as anywhere else.
– I agree with that. Efforts have been made to alleviate the position by conciliatory means. Departmental officers have been sent out to ask that steps be taken to abate the interference. The department has been reluctant to suggest that legislation be passed, because such legislation would have a far-reaching effect upon matters other than broadcasting reception. I shall bring under the notice of the Postmaster-General the complaint voiced by the honorable member, and I can give him an assurance that further consideration will be given to the matter, because I know that it has been constantly under the notice of the department.
– Can the Minister inform the House what progress has ‘been made in regard to calling tenders for the Bourke to Broken Hill and Adelaide section of the overseas air mail service, and when is it hoped that that section will be in operation to combine with other actions which are expected to be carrying mails before the end of the year?
– This matter is being investigated at the present time, but I have not yet had time to investigate fully the position. I shall, however, forward a full explanation to the honorable member within a day or two.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General consider the question of allowing wireless to be used in schools for educational purnoses without the payment of a licencefee?
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.Already wireless is being used to some extent in schools for educational as well as for other purposes, and the receiving sets have, in the main, been supplied by associations of parents and friends. Applications have been made to the department for the remission of the licencefees, but so many applications have been mad© ‘that, up to the present, the department has found it necessary to refuse all applications other than those from blind people. 1 shall bring the honorable member’s suggestion under the notice of the Postmaster-General, and I am sure it will receive his earnest consideration.
– A practice has obtained until recently, and may still be in operation, of deducting from a soldier’s pension sick pay paid by friendly societies to ex-soldier members during such time as the soldier is in a military hospital. I desire to know if that practice has been discontinued in accordance with a promise made towards the end of last session.
– During the last session of Parliament that question was dealt with under amending legislation. If it does not go so far as the honorable member wishes, I shall be glad to discuss the matter further with him.
– Seeing that claims have been submitted for the erection of a new broadcasting station for Tasmania, will the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral give an assurance that an early start will be made with the building of the new station?
– This matter was under consideration while I was in charge of the Postal Department, and I can assure the honorable member that it was the intention of the department to press on with the building of this station with the utmost expedition. I shall refer the matter to the PostmasterGeneral. I give the honorable member an assurance on his behalf that there will be no delay in pushing on with that work.
– Is it still the intention of the Government to appoint trade commissioners in the East? If so, when may the House expect to know the names and qualifications of the gentlemen to be appointed, as well as the places at which they will be stationed?
– It is still the intention of the Government to appoint trade representatives to various countries in the East. Certain names have been submitted to me, and will, in turn, be submitted to the Government within the next few weeks.
– The World Council Against War proposes to hold a convention in Melbourne at an .early date, and for that purpose has sought the use of several public halls, but its request has been refused by the authorities which control those halls. An officer of the Attorney-General’s Department has been engaged in making inquiries concerning the good faith of those who are promoting the meeting. Can the AttorneyGeneral inform me if there is any direct relation between the refusal of the request for the use of the halls, and the inquiries that have been made by an officer of his department? If so, can he say why any hindrance should be placed upon a convention that is designed to be held for such a desirable object as that of world peace?
– I regret that I am not informed on the matter to which the honorable member refers, but if he will be good enough to place his question on the notice-paper I shall have inquiries made into it. He will, of course, understand that it will not be possible to obtain in a day ot two the information that he seeks.
– Will the Minister for Defence indicate to the House the purpose of the visit which, as PostmasterGeneral, he paid overseas last year at considerable cost to this country? Had he to make inquiries into special questions concerning the administration of the department that he then administered? If so, what were the particular questions, what information did he obtain, and when may the result of his investigations be made available to honorable members?
– The object of my visit overseas was, as was publicly stated at the time, to attend a congress of the International Postal Union at Cairo. A full report of what transpired at that conference has been printed and laid upon the table of the
House. The other information that I obtained during my visit abroad has been supplied to the Postal Department and to the other departments concerned.
New Zealand Embargo
– Will the Minister for Commerce state what position has been reached in the negotiations between the Governments of Australia and New Zealand respecting the removal of the embargo imposed by New Zealand on the importation of Australian citrus fruits?
– The Prime Minister has already intimated this afternoon that a ministerial delegation will leave New Zealand on the 30th instant. Primarily, the object of that delegation is to discuss, and, we hope, to finalize, a satisfactory arrangement in connexion with the reciprocal embargoes that now exist.
– Is the Assistant Treasurer aware that in cases where pensioners are compelled to hand over to banks and other financial institutions partially paid off homes, and to vacate those properties, the Pensions Department regards the abandoned homes as still being the property in possession of the individuals concerned, and is reducing their pensions accordingly? Is he also aware that in similar circumstances applicants are being refused pensions, or are being paid them on a reduced scale? Is the honorable gentleman prepared to undertake that where pensioners obviously have no present or prospective equity in such abandoned properties, neither the pension nor an applicant’s right to a pension will be interfered with?
– The honorable member’s question is not one that admits of a specific reply. If he will submit details of any individual cases of which he has knowledge those cases will be treated on their merits.
– What was the reason which actuated the Government when it suspended the provisions of the act dealing with the claim of the Government upon the estates of deceased pensioners two weeks prior to the last election, and re-applied them a week after the election had been held?
– There has been no alteration of the policy of the Government.
– In the past, when inquiries have been held into air accidents, a great deal of secrecy has been observed, and has been very keenly resented by the aviation industry. The industry throughout Australia feels that it would be to its advantage if, in connexion with any inquiry into the loss of the air liner Miss Hobart, all the evidence taken, and the findings arrived at, were made public. Is it the intention of the Government to accede to those wishes?
– The inquiry which already has been ordered into this disaster will be held in public. A further application that it should be held in Launceston as well as in Melbourne is now under consideration.
– Will the Minister for the Interior state how many persons have been deported from the Commonwealth since the 31st December, 1931, because of their association with communism or other political activities ?
– This question was asked of my predecessor in office, who indicated that he would have inquiries made into it. I understand that those inquiries are still in progress. When they are completed I shall supply the honorable member with the information that he seeks.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).I have to report that the House this day attended His Excellency the GovernorGeneral in the Senate chamber, where His Excellency was pleased to make a speech to both Houses of the Parliament, of which, for greater accuracy, I have obtained a copy (vide page 6). As honorable members have copies of the speech in their hands, I presume that they do not desire me formally to read it.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) agreed to -
That a committee consisting of Mr. McCall, Mr. Fisken, and the mover, he appointed to prepare an Address-in-Reply to the Speech delivered by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral to both Houses of the Parliament, and that the committee do report at the next sitting.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Bank Act - Balance-sheets of Commonwealth Bank and Commonwealth Savings Bank and Statement of the Liabilities and Assets of the Note Issue Department, at 30th June, 1934; together with Auditor-General’sReports thereon.
Casey, Lieutenant-Commander Alan Dermot - Royal Commission upon circumstances associated with retirement from the Royal Australian Navy - Report
Ordinance of 1933 - No. 9 - Shipping Fees Amendment.
Ordinances of 1934 -
No. 1 - Appropriation 1934.
No. 2 - Nauruan Royalty Trust Fund Appropriation 1934.
No. 3 - Appropriation (Supplemental) 1933.
No. 4 - Nauruan Royalty Trust Fund Appropriation (Supplemental) 1933.
No. 5 - Extradition.
No.6 - Customs Tariff Amendment.
No. 7 - Shipping Fees Validation.
National Debt Sinking Fund Act - National
Debt Commission - Eleventh Annual Report, for year ended 30th June, 1934.
Air Force Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, Nos. 122, 125.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1934-
Nos. 19 and 20 - Fourth Division Officers’ Association of the Trade and Customs Department.
No. 21 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
Nos. 22 and 23 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 24 - Fourth Division Officers’ Association of the Trade and Customs Department; and the Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 25 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia.
No. 26 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
Commonwealth Bank Act - Treasurer’s Statement of combined accounts of Commonwealth Bank and Commonwealth Savings Bank, together with certificate of the Auditor-General, at 30th June, 1934.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, Nos. 110, 120.
Cotton Industries Bounty Act - Return for 1933-34.
Customs Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, Nos. 109, 127.
Customs Act and Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, Nos. 98, 117.
Dairy Produce Export Control Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 87.
Defence Act - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1934, Nos. 90, 104, 105.
Designs Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 121.
Electoral Act and Referendum (Constitution Alteration ) Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 100.
Export Guarantee Act - Return showing assistance granted during 1933-34.
Flax and Linseed Bounties Act - Return for 1933-34.
Inscribed Stock Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 123.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 112.
Iron and Steel Products Bounty Act - Return for 1933-34.
Judiciary Act - Rules of Court -
Dated 7th August, 1934.
Dated 9th August, 1934.
Lands Acquisition Act- Land acquired at -
Brunswick, Victoria - For Postal purposes.
Cape Gourdon, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
Cape Leveque, Western Australia - For Lighthouse purposes.
Darwin, Northern Territory - For Defence purposes.
La Grange Bay, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
Lawrence, New South Wales - For Postal (broadcasting) purposes.
Whim Creek, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
Yanery, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
Yulleroo, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
Lighthouses Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 92.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, Nos. 89, 93, 94, 103, 108, 118, 124.
Naval Defence Act and Control of Naval Waters Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 88.
Navigation Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 119.
Northern Territory Representation Act and Electoral Act- Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 95.
Papua Act -
Infirm and Destitute Natives Account - Statement of Transactions of Trustees for 1933-34.
Papua and New Guinea Bounties Act -
Return for 1933-34.
Public Service Act -
Appointment of R. E. Murray, Department of Health,
Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, Nos. 101, 102, 107, 115, 116.
Quarantine Act - Regulations (Air Navigation) - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 91.
Sales Tax Assessment Acts (Nos. 1 to 9) Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 97
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act-
Ordinances of 1934 -
No. 18 - Companies (Investigation of Affairs).
No. 19 - Advisory Council (No. 2).
No. 20 - City Area Leases.
No. 21 - Plant Diseases.
Building and Services Ordinance - Canberra Building Regulations amended.
Sulphur Bounty Act- Return for 1933-34.
War Service Homes Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 106.
Wine Export Bounty Act - Return for 1933-34.
– I move -
That the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) be appointed Chairman of Committees of this House.
The occupant of this office requires a great deal of parliamentary experience, and an even temperament, as well as a good knowledge of the Standing Orders. The honorable member for Forrest has been a member of this Parliament for the past fifteen years, and for over twelve years has been a Temporary Chairman of Committees. I think it will be admitted that he is eminently fitted for the position, and would act most impartially. I can commend him to the House with a good deal of confidence, for he has all the necessary attributes of a successful Chairman. I am sure he will endeavour, if chosen, to do justice to every section of the House.
– I have pleasure in seconding the motion. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) is fairly well known to all of us. Apart from his long parliamentary experience and his knowledge of parliamentary procedure, he has the greatest of all qualifications for a judicial position - a calm and placid temperament. He is not likely to be bustled by any scenes that maytake place, and I think every honorable member will agree that he willbe fair and impartial in his decisions, being uninfluenced in them by his political views. The
House would make a wise choice in choosing the honorable member for this position, and, perhaps, next to yourself, Mr. Speaker, he will prove, I feel sure, our most distinguished Chairman of Committees.
Mr.ROSEVEAR (Dalley) [5.56].- We have heard the merits of the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) extolled; but I think that the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) would have entertained us better if he had referred to the merits of the pact as the result of which the honorable member for Forrest was selected as the Government’s nominee for this position. This office is usually the gift of the Government to one of its favoured supporters; it is one of the perquisites that areregarded as spoils to the victors. On this occasion the Government has been returned with a following of 32 in a House of 74 members. Therefore, at the moment, we have minority government. If it had not been for the fact that the Government feared an embarrassing situation over the Speaker ship and the -Chairmanship of Committees, I have not the least doubt that the splendid qualities of the honorable member for Forrest would have been unnoticed and remained unsung. But the Government has formed a pact with the Country party, and the position of Chairman of Committees is one of the gifts that permitted the bargain to be struck. I give the honorable member for Forrest his due. I say nothing against his qualifications for the position, nor do I question his fairness. In the last Parliament he occupied the position of Temporary Chairman of Committees as well as did any other honorable member. Nor do I doubt his honesty or political sincerity; but it is evident that the Country party is making preparations for stormy scenes on tariff questions since it submitted the name of the honorable member for Forrest as its nominee for this position. Presumably it is desired that his well known fiscal views shall be stifled when tariff matters are under discussion in. committee. This is another pact such as that entered into in December, 1931, when the Country party and the Government formulated a common policy upon which they were to fight the elections. They won a majority of seats in this House, and for months afterwards they charged one another with a breach of faith and with treachery to the pact. There was open rivalry at the last elections between the aspirants for seats between the Country party and the United Australia party.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon.G. J. Bell).The honorable member’s remarks have no reference to the motion before the Chair.
– I was leading up to the point that the proposed appointment of the honorable member for Forrest to the position of Chairman of Committees is more a matter of convenience than a desire to recognize his personal merits. Since the elections further negotiations have taken place, and a sordid struggle behind closed doors has occurred between the leaders of the Country party and the United Australia party for positions in the Cabinet. The whole of the press was able to tell the people, before this Parliament had assembled, that these negotiations were proceeding, and that the only serious difference of opinion was due to the “snavelling” for office, the Country party trying to obtain more portfolios than the United Australia party was prepared to concede. Yet the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) declared that his party was placing principles before place! No sooner had the negotiations broken down than the imminent meeting of Parliament indicated the possibility of an unpleasant situation arising, in which, by a combination of parties, the United Australia party candidates for the speakership and the chairmanship of committees might be defeated. Consequently, another secret conference between the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and the Leader of the Country party was arranged, with the result that last night, before this House had an opportunity to discuss the merits or otherwise of the honorable member for Forrest, or, indeed, of any other honorable member for the position of Chairman of Committees, the Sydney Sun was able to announce that the way was clear for the election of a Speaker and a Chairman of Committees. That newspaper stated -
It is now certain that Mr.G. J. Bell will be the new Speaker in the House of Representatives. Following the Country party’s decision to-day not to nominate a candidate, the Leader (Dr. Earle Page) had a conference with the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons). It was agreed that the Country party would support the United Australia party nominee who will be Mr. Bell. He was Chairman of Committees in the last Parliament. The Country party will nominate Mr. J. H. Prowse as Chairman of Committees, and this will be supported by the Government party. The two parties together can outvote a Labour nomination in either case.
The question before the House is not the merits of the honorable member for Forrest, but rather how best to save the Government from an embarrassing position. The press tells us that the way is now clear. We in this House are concerned to know how the way was made clear; we should know what transpired at the secret conference held behind closed doors. Are we to understand that the compromise in regard to the Speakership and the Chairmanship of Committees is only the first step towards a pact by which the Country party will sell the primary producers of Australia to vested interests represented by the United Australia party? It is idle to attempt to make the House believe that the two gentlemen who have advocated the claims of the honorable member for Forrest for appointment as Chairman of Committees have done so because they were impressed by his outstanding qualifications for the position. Rather is it a case of political expediency in which the fitness of the nominee weighs not at all with the Government or those who support the nomination. The Country party is not game to share the responsibility of government by entering into a coalition with the United Australia party. It wants pickings without responsibility. Knowing that trade crises are likely to arise, it is afraid to accept the responsibility associated with them, yet is prepared to share the pickings of office. In the light of what has happened, what are we to think of the professions of the right honorable member for Cowper, who indignantly left a previous conference with the Prime Minister declaring that the Country party was concerned only with policy, and was looking not for office, but for principles ? To-day, the right honorable gentleman sells the Country party by compromising in regard to the Speakership and the Chairmanship of Committees. In making these remarks, I do not desire to reflect on the qualifications of the honorable member for Forrest for the position for which he has been nominated. But I shall not allow to pass unchallenged the suggestion that he had been nominated solely because of his fitness for the position to which he will doubtless be elevated. I do not know that there will be any opposition to his nomination. Such opposition would be futile. Nevertheless, I am of the opinion that members of this House should say whether the nomination is based on the qualifications of the nominee or is merely a case of political expediency.
.- I do not desire to say anything in opposition to the appointment of the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) as Chairman of Committees, the more so as I apprehend that the chances of my appointment to the position are almost incalculably remote. Looking about me, I see in this chamber a number of men who, by some means, entered this chamber during my furlough. One member, who is, however, not new to me is the honorable member for Forrest for whom I have only the friendliest of feelings. On one occasion in my callow youth - not recently - I made a speech on the tariff, of which the honorable member for Forrest approved. That was many years ago, but I feel there is some connexion between the circumstances of that time and my defeat at the poll. In my felicitations to the honorable gentleman,. I am concerned only with his pronounced views on tariff matters. It would appear somewhat difficult to reconcile those views with the Speech which we heard to-day from the representative of the King. That being so, inasmuch as he is the chosen of this protectionist Government and party, I would like to know, for the security of the country and the peace of mind of honorable members generally, whether an undertaking has been obtained, under bond and seal, that the honorable member will not, during this Parliament, make any further speeches upon the tariff. If that practical course hasbeen taken, I can conceive of some real service being done to the country by this election, and such a service done to my electors and to me as will greatly benefit my electors and make further secure my seat in this House. I congratulate the honorable member is intelligent anticipation of his speedy and painless election.
, or his capabilities for filling the position of Chairman of Committees. But it is too much to ask honorable members to accept, as just one of those bolts from the blue, a proposal by the strongest and most uncompromising freetrader in this Parliament, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), that an almost equally strong freetrader, the honorable member for Forrest, shall be appointed Chairman of Committees - for if he is put in the chair he will be isolated from the discussion of the tariff, most of which will take place in committee under his chairmanship, and he will not be able to vote upon the issues raised. There is something moTe in it than that. When the position is analysed it seems to me that this action, involving a member of the purely freetrade and uncompromising Country party, following as it does upon the uncompromising attitude of the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page), is nothing more than an opportionment of the loaves and fishes. If this is done, the big guns of the Country party will have turned out to be guncrackers in some cases, and squibs in others. If it is an indication that the alliance that has already been spoken of will actually take place it is an example of coming events casting their shadows ‘ before them. I contend, Mr. Speaker, that it cannot be reconciled with the action of certain honorable gentlemen in their adherence to party alignments right up to this moment. When we recall the political history of this country in this our National Parliament and in the State Parliaments, we find it has always been recognized by all parties that one of the greatest acts of political treachery a member of one party can commit is to accept office under another party.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).Order. The honorable member’s word “ treachery “ is not in order.
– I withdraw that word. I said that this principle has always been recognized, and if you say that I am out of order, I withdraw it. We know that the Parliament of New South Wales was almost torn asunder, and the sittings of that House made impossible because of an action similar to this. It has always been recognized that a member allies himself with the party under which he seeks election. In my opinion, such an action as this goes very near to causing the people to lose faith in the honesty and integrity of their representatives in Parliament. A man goes to the country and swears by all the gods in heaven that with the party to which he is then allied he will destroy the other faction should his party get the opportunity to do so; but when he is returned, and is offered a position involving extra pay or privilege or standing, all his pledges are thrown overboard, and his promises to the electors forgotten. He no longer cares whether the Government carries out its policy or not. It is clearly the intention of the Government to take the honorable member for Forrest off the floor and put him into the chair so that he will be unable to exercise his vote in furtherance of the promises he made at the election. Honorable members should not countenance such action as the Government has taken in this matter. If I had the opportunity, I would show my disapproval by my vote, .but as I have not such an opportunity, I am doing it through my voice. The action taken by the honorable gentleman indicates a complete surrender on his part, and, so far as the members of his party are concerned, it is only one more of their sham fights. Another big gun turns out to be not even a gun cracker, but a squib.
– I do not agree with the statements made by my colleagues for I am fully convinced that the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page), since the election, after making his declaration before the people that the world-wide markets for the primary produce of this country had materialized at last, has found out that his message of salvation for the farmers along that path was wrong. He and his party are now converted, and they have joined hands with the United Australia party because the problems facing the primary producers of ‘ this country exceed their intelligence. They are unable to cope with them. I understand from the remarks of honorable members that the honorable member who has ‘been proposed as Chairman of Committees will mate one of the ablest chairmen who have ever been appointed; but that does not justify those who pose in this House as the saviours of the primary producers in selling their constituents to the very interests which have been farming the farmers all their lives. No doubt, these elected representatives of the primary producers who have taken part in the making of this bargain will later go out and tell the same old story to the farmers once again.
– Is that what the honorable member did at the Bathurst conference?
– No, at the Bathurst conference I put forward a constructive policy for the wheat-growers, the woolgrowers, and the citrus fruit-growers, and, at the conclusion of the conference, the representatives of those industries placed on record in a hand-book dealing with the work of the conference an expression of opinion that J. S. Garden should be thanked for the information, which he had given them. The resolution, as moved by the vice-chairman of the Country party in New South Wales-
– I rise to a point of order. I hate to ‘break in on the honorable member’s remarks–
– This is courtesy to a new member !
– I have no desire to prevent the honorable member from expressing his opinions at the proper time; but I ask whether they are in order when the motion for the election of the Chairman of. Committees is before the House.
– I think that a little more courtesy should be shown, not only by the Prime Minister, but also by other members of the Government-
– Order !
– I appeal for protection for a new member.
– Is the honorable member addressing himself to the point of order raised by the Prime Minister?
– Yes. Mere courtesy should dictate a more considerate policy in regard to the hearing of a speech by a new member. I think that the protection of the Chair should be extended to him.
– Regarding the point of order raised by the Prime Minister, the remarks of the honorable member for Cook appear to me to have no relation to the question now before the Chair, and I must ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the question that Mr. Prowse be elected Chairman of Committees.
– I bow to your ruling. I am aware that the Prime Minister has no desire that I should reveal the nature of the pact entered into ‘between himself and the leader of the Country party.
– The honorable member is only surmising.
– It is no surmise.
– I remind honorable members that it is customary for a new member to be heard in silence.
– As for the protection of the Chair, I remind all honorable members that I am quite well able to hold my own.
– Tell us about the Communist conference.
– I know that certain honorable members on the Government side require instruction. I hold a private class on Sunday mornings at which they may obtain it-
-I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the question before the Chair.
– I believe that the country people of the Commonwealth will be staggered at the sudden and complete conversion of the honorable member for Forrest. A pact has been entered into whereby a man, whose expressed opinions have always been directly opposed to the principles enunciated by the Prime Minister, has been elevated to a position of dignity by favour of the Prime Minister and his followers. To me the conversion of the honorable member for Forrest is welcome, because, if it is real, it indicates that he is on the right track at last. It indicates that, in his opinion, Australia must look after itself, that it must protect its primary and secondary producers even to the extent of completely prohibiting those things-
– Order !
– I was leading up to a point at which I proposed to show that the people of Australia are expecting this Government to act in a practical way for the benefit of the whole community. I rose, however, more particularly to direct attention to the conversion of the Country party to the policy of the United Australia party.
– I have nothing whatever to say against the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) who, having had considerable parliamentary experience, should be particularly fitted for the position of Chairman of Committees ; but I regret that the Country party, which, since the last election, definitely announced that it did not propose to enter into any pact with the Government has at the eleventh hour decided to provide it with a Chairman of Committees. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson), who seconded the motion, has been most hostile to the Government and to the United Australia party. In the election campaign he had not a kind word to say concerning that party, the supporters of which fought him tooth and nail. In these circumstances, it is amazing that he should second the motion, and, in so doing, provide the Government with an additional vote. The honorable member for Forrest has been one of the most uncompromising opponents of the Government’s protective policy. He has been definitely opposed to tariff protection on galvanized iron and on wire netting.
– I remind the honorable member that there cannot be any discussion on tariff matters at this juncture.
– He was so hostile to the duties imposed on the commodities I have mentioned that when handling a sheet of galvanized iron he was blown over and broke an arm.
– I do not suggest that the honorable member for Forrest is not well fitted for the position it is proposed he should fill; but there are loyalsupporters of the Government just as capable as is the honorable member for Forrest, who should have been considered.
– Will the honorable member mention them?
– The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Perkins) who has always been a loyal supporter of the Government has been treated in a shameful manner. He was dumped and given the cold shoulder when the Cabinet was being selected. He was Government Whip in the Bruce-Page Government, and after losing his seat was subsequently elected to Parliament and was made Minister for the Interior.
– The honorable member must connect his remarks with the subject before the Chair.
– I am trying to show that other supporters of the Government are just as capable offilling the position of Chairman of Committees as is the honorable member for Forrest, and am referring in particular to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. I submit, sir, that my remarks are perfectly in order on this occasion. If the Government had any common courtesy or decency-
– It would not have meted out such treatment to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, but would have given him this position. In this matter the Government is actuated by motives of political expediency to use the honorable member for Forrest-
– Order! The honorable member is distinctly out of order. He is imputing motives that are improper.
– Is not an individual member entitled to speak as to the qualifications of other honorable members?
– Order ! The honorable member will not be permitted to argue with the Chair.
– Other honorable members have qualifications which should be considered. Are not other supporters of the Government quite qualified to fill this position, which is now being usedby the Government as a sop to further the possibility of a pact with the Country party? I agree with the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), and the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden), and others, that this is merely a bargaining to form the basis of a pact under which the United Australia party intends to swallow the Country party as a whole.
Motion (by Mr. Thompson) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided.
(Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the motion (Mr. Gregory’s) be agreed to - put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. j. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 44
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
. - On behalf of the Government, I offer congratulations to the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) on his elevation to the important position of Chairman of Committees. We have every confidence as to his ability and impartiality, for we have had experience of both. “We feel sure that we shall receive from him efficiency and impartiality in the discharge of his duties, and we give him our assurance of full and complete loyalty and cooperation.
.- I congratulate the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) on his promotion to this office, and, as a good protectionist, I shall be glad to see him in the chair when divisions are being taken on tariff issues. His election reminds me of a man who said his horse had won a race easily; it was the only horse entered. I hope that the honorable member, in the exercise of his powers as Chairman of Committees, will be merciful to honorable members on this side. I have listened to the eulogies expressed regarding his capacity as a chairman, and some of the virtues to which reference has been made I have not hitherto discovered; yet I believe that he has the qualifications necessary for the office to which he has been appointed. The honorable member has been chosen for an important position, and I sincerely congratulate him.
.- I also offer my congratulations to the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse). We have already had experience of his fairness as a presiding officer, and I am sure that at the end of his term as Chairman of Committees the present choice will prove to have been a Wls(3 one. The members of the Country party generally join in the congratulations, and assure the honorable member of their support.
– I approach this matter from a different angle from that chosen by previous speakers. Their congratulations are centered upon what has happened in this chamber, but I consider that the straight course to take is to congratulate the honorable member on being the successful candidate inside the Country party room, following the pact entered into with the Government, for that is where the decision was made. So far as this House was concerned, the election was a purely formal matter; honorable members had little or no voice in determining it. I am of the opinion that the time is ripe for those outside Parliament to know exactly the nature of the negotiations, influences, and pacts which control the business of this House, for then they would be better able to appreciate the measure of democracy which exists in this country. I congratulate the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) on securing nomination within the party room, following the arrangement successfully negotiated by his leader with the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons). I have no criticism to offer regarding his fitness for the position of Chairman of Committees; on the contrary, I freely admit that, when on previous occasions he occupied the chair temporarily, he exercised commendable impartiality. I have no personal animus against the honorable gentleman, for I believe that he will fill the office with credit to himself and to the Parliament, and that he will exercise sound judgment when dealing with those who in this place desire to express their views. I nope that during his occupancy of the chair the honorable member will not be influenced by any arrangement or pact which may yet be entered into. I do not think that he will be so influenced, for I believe that he has sufficient strength of character to follow the course which he believes to be right. If he does that, there will be no cause for complaint when his term of office expires.
.- First, I would like to congratulate you, sir, on your elevation to the Speakership of this House - a position which you well deserve, and one which I am confident you will fill with credit to yourself and to the Parliament. I thank the mover and the seconder of my nomination as Chairman of Committees, and other honorable members for their congratulations. I appreciate the confidence which my fellow members have placed in me, and can only say that, in the exercise of my duties, I shall endeavour to act with strict impartiality and to the best of my ability.
– I move -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday, the 31st October, at 3 o’clock p.m.
The object of the adjournment is to provide that there shall be no formal sitting of the Parliament during the presence in Canberra of His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester. It is true that to-morrow an address from both Houses of the Parliament will be presented to His Royal Highness, but it is thought advisable that Parliament should not sit for. the transaction of ordinary business until Wednesday week.
– Honorable members would be assisted in their work if the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) would indicate the nature of the business to be transacted when Parliament resumes. According to press reports, there is to be a further adjournment after that now proposed, following which Parliament will sit four days instead of three days each week, until the business of the first period of the session has been completed. If we can have an indication of that character it will help us to arrange our own personal affairs appropriately.
.- I wish to say a few words in regard to the recent methods of doing the business of this chamber. When I look back on our experience of the last two years, I am filled with the greatest distaste for a repetition of them. We have had long adjournments of Parliament followed by periods of rush business when honorable members have had to sit here night after night for unreasonably protracted hours to get through the business programme. In view of the fact that within the next few months we shall have to deal with vitally important questions affecting agriculture in Australia, I urge that we should take up the business in a reasonable way. I shall offer no objection to an adjournment of the House until next Wednesday, but from that time the sittings should be continuous until we have dealt with at least the most important items of business that await our consideration. There is no justification for an adjournment of Parliament for the whole of the week after next.
– What about those who wish to join in the Melbourne centenary celebrations?
– Shall we have similar adjournments for the centenaries of the other States?
– Yes, when they come round.
– I contend that the excessively long hours of numerous parliamentary sitting days in the last year or two have been absolutely discreditable. I do not wish to see any more such sitting days if they can be avoided. I trust that if the Government has decided to ask Parliament to adjourn for the whole of the week after next it will reconsider its decision, and make provision for us to proceed without unnecessary interruption with certain work that should be done as speedily as possible.
.- Personally, I object to any adjournment of the sittings of this House while important business awaits our attention. There are, throughout Australia, hundreds of thousands of people who do not know from where their next meal will come, and the Government has given us no indication that it intends to provide work for these people who are to-day unemployed. During the election campaign, many promises were made to oldage and invalid pensioners, and in view of the fact that the festive season is rapidly approaching the Government should take immediate steps to give effect to those promises. Consideration should also be given to the needs of many returned soldiers who before they went to the war were promised the earth by certain honorable gentlemen now sitting on the front bench opposite. There are, in my electorate, between 3,000 and 4,000 returned soldiers, nearly 80 per cent. of whom are out of employment, and 40 per cent. of whom are suffering from the effects of their war service. These men are looking to the Government for a measure of justice, particularly through the repatriation and pension departments. I suppose there is scarcely 1 per cent. of the men who saw four or five years’ service overseas who are not suffering in some way from the effects of the war. These men also are entitled to special consideration from the Government. It is a fact - I have had several cases submitted to me which have been substantiated by medical evidence - that these men are entitled to pensions, but because the Repatriation Commission has been so heartless, apparently carrying out the policy laid down by the Government, they have no redress. While those conditions exist, I say that it is the duty of the Government to carry on and to attend to the immediate cares of those people who cannot help themselves.
.- I cannot let the motion go without entering my protest against it. The honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) referred to certain cases. There are also many in my own electorate. With all due respect to the answer given by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) to a question asked by me this afternoon, I want to say that he did not indicate very clearly that it was the Government’s intention to do something to relieve the position on the coal-fields. In my electorate he met approximately 1,500 youths, whose ages ranged from fourteen to 21 years, who had never done a day’s work. He certainly indicated to a deputation that he was sympathetic with these boys, and that the Government would do something with the object of relieving the position, particularly on the coal-fields. But all that has been done has been the appointment of a committee, and that committee has made a preliminary report in which it has indicated that it is necessary for a hydrogenation plant to be set up in Victoria in the brown coal-fields. The tremendous influence which can be brought to bear by Victorian interests on the Government in these matters is evidenced by the fact that they can hold up the erection of this plant in the northern district for the purpose of considering whether Victoria is not a more suitable place for such a plant. Analyses show that there is more oil content in coal procured in northern New South Wales than there is in coal procurable in any other part of the world.
– Order! The honorable gentleman has scarcely given any reasons why there should not be an adjournment to a certain date, which is the question now before the House.
– While there is so much business to be done *by this House, and while there are so many people in dire distress, this House should not adjourn. If we are to believe press reports the Government intends to meet for only five weeks and then adjourn for a period of six months while the Prime Minister and others have a pleasant jaunt overseas, and while the unemployed are left to remain workless. Promises were made to the unemployed people of this country that a prosperity loan would be raised for the purpose of relieving unemployment, and that the Government would go on with the erection of this hydrogenation plant. Immediately the election is over, these promises have been forgotten, and have already been broken, and the unemployed find that it is not the intention of the Government to go on with this undertaking, irrespective of the fact that reports on it have been procured from overseas authorities, and that the Imperial Government has gone on with the work of extracting oil from coal.
– The honorable gentleman must confine his remarks to the motion before the Chair.
– Mr. Speaker, I consider that you could give a little more latitude on an adjournment motion like this than you are doing at the moment. I could not sit in my place and allow the adjournment of this House to take place without entering a protest. We propose to adjourn for a. week. What for ? So that we may all enjoy ourselves ; so that we who are getting full and plenty may get a little more, while thousands of people, as has been stated by the honorable member for Lang, do not know where their next meal is coming from. I would not be doing my duty to the people I represent if I did not protest. In my electorate, there are 7,000 miners unemployed, and without prospect of employment. If we may accept statistics as reliable, it means that there are at least 21,000 people in my electorate on the bread line. With all respect to His Royal Highness, I believe that we should get on with our work, and do something to alleviate the lot of those in distress. The Duke of Gloucester will not be permitted to know of the conditions prevailing among the unemployed. He certainly will not be taken to the coalfields, nor to the Lang electorate, where he would be able to see for himself evidence of appalling poverty. There he would see women and’ children in want of necessary clothing, though I have appealed to the Government time after time to make such clothing available. Every time we make a plea on behalf of the unemployed, we are told that the duty of feeding and clothing these people devolves upon the States, and is no concern of the Federal Government. I say that every government in Australia, and every section of the community, should co-operate in this work. The Christmas season is fast approaching, but what prospect of good cheer lies before the unemployed? I appeal to the Government not to adjourn Parliament for a week. I believe that His Royal Highness would prefer us to carry on the business of the nation, to make an attempt to do something to relieve the sufferings of the unemployed. It has been said that we in this Parliament are not concerned with the unemployed, and that we are indifferent to their fate. That is not true of the members of the party to which I belong, nor of many members of the official Opposition. We object to the adjournment of Parliament at this time, more especially as we know that in about five weeks from now, Parliament will adjourn for six months in order to give certain members of the Government an opportunity to go overseas, and meet the people who have not the interests of this country at heart. They are more concerned with the making of trade treaties that will keep Australia in the’ position of a vassal State as a provider of raw material for British industry. We should instead seek to develop our own manufactures in order to absorb our unemployed, and furnish a market for our own primary produce. The trouble is that some of those who sit in this House do not care a tinker’s cuss about the unemployed. Much lip-service is paid to their cause when candidates are seeking the suffrages of the electors. We have now an opportunity to demonstrate the sincerity of what we then said. Let us seize it instead of merely coming to Canberra for 24 hours, then adjourning for a week, meeting again for four weeks, and then closing up shop for six months. I object to the motion, and propose to vote against it.
.- I intend to support the motion moved by the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), because it appears to me that certain functions in connexion with the Royal visit would interfere with meetings of the House this week. It is only right that the courtesy proposed should be extended to our Royal visitor. I rose more particularly to ask the Government not to commit itself to adjourning over the week during which the Melbourne Cup will be run, and to suggest that during the next few days it should definitely determine whether it will not be practicable for Parliament to meet that week. I appreciate the fact that many important events being celebrated in connexion with the Melbourne Centenary involve official representation of the Commonwealth Government; but investigations could be made as to whether proper representation would not be possible even if the House were to, meet on Wednesday of next week. The people of Australia, and particularly those resident in country districts, are looking forward with a great deal of hope to the work of this Parliament, and they would be cheered by the knowledge that we were to remain at work rather than to adjourn over the period suggested. I ask the Prime Minister to look further into this matter.
– I trust that the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) will make a statement in connexion with the matters referred to by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page), and other honorable members. I object to an adjournment over the period > proposed, particularly when I realize that this Parliament has sat for only four or five weeks during this year. When the Government and its supporters went to the country they said that an election was being held because they desired to obtain a mandate from the people upon many important issues ; but now that the general elections are over, and the people have decided in a manner more or less satisfactory to the Prime Minister, he is not at all concerned as to whether the House does, or does not, meet. All those grave issues to which he directed attention prior to the election are in the air, and, apparently, are likely to remain there. We have been informed that the House will adjourn over a period when horses will be racing round a track in Melbourne, and that there are certain functions at which the Commonwealth must be properly represented. I wonder what the bosses would say if employees absented themselves from work because there were certain functions which they wished to attend. Men who acted in that way would be sacked, and we shall deserve the sack if we do not do our job. We are the paid servants of the people, and should do what we were told by the electors. This Parliament has been in recess for all but a few weeks of the current year, and there will be further adjournments until the end of the year. I strongly object to the Government adjourning Parliament until Wednesday next. Better arrangements could be made; Parliament couldsit longer this week. We shall have something further to say next week concerning a further proposed adjournment. When the Prime Minister moved this motion he should have made a statement in regard to certain press reports which have been commented upon. It seems that more information is available to the press than to honorable members.
– I told the leader of the honorable gentleman’s party only to-day exactly what I had in mind.
– It was in the press a week ago.
– That information did not come from the Government.
– Evidently the press knows the psychology of this Government.
– If the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) is right about the intended adjournment, the press is wrong.
– I am discussing the proposal of the Government to Adjourn the House in order to attend a race meeting.
– If I wanted to be present the race meeting, I would be honest about it, and say so.
– That is all right, so far as it goes. I daresay other honorable mem bers want to see the races.
– But the trouble is that they pretend they do not.
Mr.LAZZARINI.-During my membership ofthis Parliament in Melbourne, five cups were run, and I was not present at the running of any of them. Horseracing does not interest me. I think, however, that it is wrong for a horse race to be permitted to sidetrack honorable members away from their jobs at a time when the nation is going through a period of stress and trial. A job has to be done, and it is our duty to do it. This was stated by the Prime Minister at the elections, and repeated again in the speech of the Governor-General in the Senate to-day. If there is a job to be done, we should not shut up the House as proposed. We are paid our allowance out of the public funds of this country to do our job, and not to run away from it. But, by these frequent adjournments, we are running away from our job - a practice that is not calculated to increase the confidence ofthe people in democracy and in the system of constitutional government. I hope that the Prime Minister, in his reply to this debate, will indicate clearly what is proposed, and that he will offer some better excuse for the adjournment than that some honorable members desire to be present at functions in Melbourne.
.- I am glad to learn, from the speech of His Excellency the Governor-General, that it is the intention of the Government to make a complete survey of the unemployment problem in Australia. That inquiry will necessarily take some time, and as the plight of the unemployed is so desperate, I appeal to the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) to take whatever action may be thought necessary to improve the lot of those people who are forced under existing conditions to live on 6s. a week, the amount of government sustenance provided. Although official statistics disclose that it costs from 22s. to 30s. a week to maintain a prisoner in our gaols, men out of work are expected to remain honest and live on 6s. a week! I recognize the difficulties confronting the Government, but the position of many unemployed is so dreadful that there should be no delay in affording relief. Medical officers of the Department of Health in Melbourne have made the statement - which to me is more terrible than the tragic death of a monarch, or the killing of a few hundreds of people in a revolutionary outbreak - that in Australia, the land of abundance, there are children who have never known the taste of milk. I urge the Government to do something to rectify this terrible state of- affairs, and I hope that on Wednesday next the Prime Minister will be able to announce that action is to be taken. We should face this problem of unemployment as we would face a war, without regard to parties or personal prejudices. All honorable members should come together in a resolve that in a country like this, which produces an abundance of all that is required for our people, there will be sufficient food for every man, woman, and child in it.
– The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) has asked to be told of the intentions of the Government with respect to future sittings of the House. I informed the honorable gentleman privately, as the leader of his party, that . what the Government had in mind was to adjourn over tomorrow and the following day, to meet on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of next week, and then adjourn in order that honorable members and Ministers, too, may have an opportunity to take part in those celebrations in Melbourne which come to each State once only in 100 years. The adjournment is not due to a desire on the part of Ministers to attend the races in Melbourne, though I have been frank enough in the past in that respect. Last year, I moved the adjournment of the House so that honorable members could attend an event which, by many people, is regarded as one of very great importance. I did not move that motion for my own benefit, because I have never attended a Melbourne Cup; but I have no hesitation in saying that at this time of the year the great majority of the people of Australia are thinking about it. I repeat that I am not personally concerned about that race. On this occasion, the Government wishes to adjourn the House, be cause Victoria is celebrating its centenary, and important events in connexion with it have been fixed for that week. His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester will be present at a number of functions, and since he was invited to Australia by the Commonwealth Government, it is only fitting that the Government should be represented at those gatherings. The adjournment will enable the Government to do more than would be possible if Parliament were sitting, in two respects: first the relief of of unemployment mentioned by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) and other honorable gentlemen; and secondly, the tariff problems referred to by the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earl* Page). The Government is carrying on negotiations with a view to the making of trade treaties. Those negotiations are being conducted by a committee of Cabinet, which has been specially set up for that purpose, and more progress can be made with them if Parliament is not sitting. In addition, there are 60 or more Tariff Board reports with which the Government is anxious to deal and take action upon at as early a date as possible. The proposed adjournment will afford Ministers an opportunity to cleaT up many matters and bring them before the House before it adjourns over the Christmas holidays. The Minister who has been charged with the special duty of inquiring into matters affecting employment proposes to visit Melbourne. Honorable members will believe that the object of his visit is not to attend the Melbourne Cup, but to discuss with those who are able to help him definite schemes of employment which we hope to submit to this Parliament for its consideration. It is important that adequate time be given for the consideration of these matters by what, after all, is a new Government. I should like the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) to realize that refusal to adjourn over tomorrow and the next day would not advance one step further the matters that he has in mind. The Government will lose no time in dealing with the problem of employment. The two days upon which His Royal Highness will be in Canberra will not actually be lost, because, in any event, we should not have any definite proposals ready for sub mission to the House during that period. The honorable member may disabuse his mind of the newspaper suggestion that it is proposed to have an adjournment extending over many months in 1935 during my visit to the Old Country. The work of this Parliament will have to proceed, whatever trips abroad may have to be made. Matters in relation to unemployment, trade treaties, and the tariff, are urgent and important, and they will be dealt with without delay. There will, of course, be an adjournment over the Christmas holidays. It is intended, however, that the Parliament shall re -assemble early in the New Year, so that its work may be resumed and as much progress as possible be made without delay.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I also protest against the proposed adjournment of the House until next week. In common with previous speakers, I hold the view that many people are in dire need of assistance from this Government, and that it should proceed immediately to deal with the major problems that confront it. The unemployed in the various electorates of the Commonwealth are looking for some definite proposals that will afford them relief. That relief was promised by the Government at the last elections. The Labour party at that time also placed certain proposals before the people, who, however, in their wisdom or otherwise - I believe otherwise - returned this Government to power in the expectation that it would take immediate action to relieve the conditions that exist to-day. If the Parliament is not to proceed with the business that it was elected to transact, those people cannot expect to receive the relief they expected. There are also other problems that demand immediate attention. The Wheat Commission has spent a considerable amount of money in making inquiries. Those who are engaged in that industry are very anxious to know what is to be done to guarantee a price for their product, of which they will have a surplus this year.
Judging by the appearance of the crops, the wheat production this season will be substantial, and the growers expect a fixed price. They also desire an organized system of marketing their product. The Government must give the men in the industry some assistance along these lines. Harvesting will shortly commence, and it is necessary to do something, not in the sweet by and by, but in the near future. The growers should have some idea of the price they will receive for their wheat. In past years, low prices were usually received by farmers who sold their wheat immediately the crop had been harvested, the speculators receiving the benefit of subsequent rises in price.
The wool position is much the same. Representing an electorate which covers probably half of New South Wales and the greater part of the wool belt in that State, I point out that the men in the wool industry expect a pool for the organized handling of their product, to enable them to receive a fair return for their labour. The tendency is for wool prices to slump, and the industry desires that prices shall he stabilized. The men employed in the industry are totally dependent on its success for their welfare, and large numbers of unemployed in the out-back areas also desire that the wool-growers shall be assisted. On these grounds I voice my protest against the adjournment of the House until next week.I should like the Government to tell the people definitely, without any further delay, what it proposes to do.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 7.28 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 October 1934, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1934/19341023_reps_14_145/>.