14th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - In the absence of the Prime Minister (Mr.
Lyons), which I am sure every one deplores, and whose early return to good health I am confident every one will welcome, I desire to announce to the House that on the 9th November, 1934, certain additional changesweremadein 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.O.
Vice-President of the Executive Council, Minister of State for Health and Minister of State for Repatriation. - The Right Honorable William Morris Hughes, K.C., M.P.
Minister of State for the Interior. - The Honorable Thomas Paterson, M.P.
Postmaster-General and Minister in Charge of Development and of Scientific and Industrial Research. - Senator the Honorable Alexander John McLachlan.
Minister of State for Trade and Customs. - The Honorable ThomasWalter White, D.F.C., V.D., M.P.
Minister without portfolio, directing negotiations for trade treaties. - The Honorable Sir Henry Somer Gullett, K.C.M.G., M.P.
Minister without portfolio, assisting the Minister of State for Commerce and the Minister of State for Industry. - Senator the Honorable Thomas Cornelius Brennan, K.C.
Minister without portfolio, in charge of War Service Homes and assisting the Minister of State for Repatriation.- The Honorable HaroldVictor Campbell Thorby, M.P.
Minister without portfolio, representing the Postmaster-General in the House of Representatives. - The Honorable fames Aitchison Johnston Hunter, M.P.
Honorary Minister in charge of the Royal Visit. - The Honorable Charles William Clanan Marr, D.S.O., M.C., V.D., M.P.
– I am sure that every honorable member regrets the sudden illness of the Prime Minister, and hopes that he will soon be fully restored to health. In his absence I ask the Acting Leader of the House if he is prepared to make to the House an announcement regarding the published statements concerning a prohibition for a period of two months of the exports of meat from Australia to Great Britain. If such action is contemplated, will the right honorable gentleman give the assurance that this House will have an opportunity to discuss the matter before finality is reached upon it?
-bv leave- Under the terms of the Ottawa agreement the British Government was given the power to. regulate meat imports from the dominions into Great Britain after the 30th June, 1934. In July, 1934, the British Government made a proposal for the regulation of the supplies of beef, mutton, lamb and pork during the period July to December, 1934. The Commonwealth Government was unable to concur in that proposal, and it was not put into effect. In order that the Commonwealth Government might always have at its disposal the best minds of all the interests connected with the meat industry, a Meat Advisory Committee was brought into being, and was called together to give advice upon matters affecting the regulation of meat exports. The action which had been taken by the Government was fully explained to, and unanimously endorsed by, that committee. Early in October last the High Commissioner for Australia in London acquainted the Commonwealth Government of the concern of the British Government at the market position in relation to beef in the United Kingdom. I may say that, consequent upon the arrangement which had been made at Ottawa, and subsequent arrangements with the dominions, the price received by the Australian producers of mutton and lamb was increased by Id. per lb. over practically the whole of the season. The position in regard to beef, however, was not improved to the same extent. Consequently, the British Government introduced a subsidy scheme to help the British beef producers. Thai scheme was to operate from the 1st July, 1934, to the 31st March, 1935, during which period it was estimated to involve an expenditure of £3,000,000. It consists of a subsidy of 5s. per cwt. on the live weight, or 9s. 4d. per cwt. on the dead weight of the beef ‘produced and sold in Great Britain. The British Government, however, desired that more permanent steps should be taken to maintain prices for producers, and had under consideration a long-term policy. It considered that both Great Britain and the dominions would be assisted in the determination of that policy, and that a very much more satisfactory permanent arrangement might ultimately be made if action were taken to relievo the immediate difficulties of the position in Great Britain. It was felt that Australia might be able to make some contribution by ceasing to slaughter cattle for export from the 1st November to the 31st December, 1934. As every one knows, that is usually a very slack period for the ordinary fat cattle market. It is true that during that period the baby veal, as it is called - the calf veal - is shipped, the calves having been born in the spring. It wa3 felt that a regulation at this time would produce the minimum amount of disturbance in Australia. Tho Commonwealth Government in reply to the British Government said that it found itself unable to concur in such a course, because of the effect it would have on employment at the works and on tho purchase of cattle. After further negotiations, the Prime Minister advised the British Government of the Common-, wealth Government’s desire to make some contribution towards a solution of the difficulties of tho situation, provided that the welfare of Australian beef producers was not endangered. The Prime Minister intimated his preparedness to ask the Cabinet to agree to collaborate with the meat interests throughout Australia to . regulate, if possible, frozen beef and real exports to the United Kingdom from the 15th November to the 15th January next. The following points were made clearby the Prime Minister: -
It should be noted that chilled beef was not to be included in any system of regulation which might be decided upon. The course which it was proposed to consider was no different from the regulation for butter exports which the Dairy Produce Export Control Board is effecting at the present time.
The reconstruction of the Government made it impracticable for consultation with the industry to proceed rapidly. The former Minister for Commerce (Mr. Stewart) felt that he should defer summoning the Meat Advisory Committee, but he concurred in his department confidentially advising those engaged in the beef export industry of the impending discussion. Obviously, it was only right that they should be enabled to make arrangements ahead. But the Department of Commerce has not put into effect any restriction or regulation of export.
The reconstructed Government considered this matter at its first meeting on Monday, and arrangements were made immediately to call the Meat Advisory Committee together, including representatives ofthe frozen veal and boneless beef interests who had not previously been included. Difficulty has been experienced in fixing the date of the meeting of the committee because on the previous occasion when the committee was summoned it was not possible to call in Western Australian representatives. On this occasion, however, it was felt that such a time should be fixed for the meeting that representatives of that State would be able to attend, and I am pleased to say that to-day we have received from the Premier of Western Australia a statement that representatives of the industry and the Government will be available at the end of this week or early next week. Consequently, we shall be able immediately to fix a date convenient to all representatives. We also stated that no regulatory measures of any kind would be introduced until the committee had deliberated on the matter. I wish to make quite clear the following points : -
Not only is the British market the best market we have ; the efforts made by the British Government to improve the conditions of the industry in Australia have also been of very material value to Australian producers in practically every line of produce, especially mutton and lamb and canning beef.
– Will the acting Leader of the House state whether, before the Government concurs in any proposal from the British Government to curtail or restrict in any way the exports of frozen meat, the consent of this Parliament will first be obtained ?
– If the House is actually sitting while the advisory committee is considering this- matter, its report will be communicated .to the House.
– Will the Minister for Commerce, when dealing from the departmental point of view with the proposed restrictions upon the export of meat, always keep foremost in mind the remark made in his policy speech that, in regard to meat, the Country party would fight with all its resources the threat of restriction?
– The policy of both the Country party and the United Australia party, in regard to this matter, is exactly the same, and the Government is fighting in the best possible way to prevent restriction.
– Will the Acting Leader of the House state whether it is intended by Great Britain that the restriction of meat imports shall apply only to Australia, or whether it is to apply also to foreign countries?
– The object of any curtailment of imports would be to improve the price of meat in Great Britain, and it would, therefore, apply to all countries.
– Will the Minister for the Interior state the grounds upon which the Czechoslovakia^ Herr Kisch, waa refused permission .to land in Aus-‘ tralia?
– I understand that the Opposition intends to move the adjournment of the House this afternoon for the purpose of discussing this matter, and therefore every opportunity will be given for it to be fully ventilated.
– I was not aware of that.
– Some weeks ago I introduced to the Assistant Treasurer a deputation consisting of representatives of the Pensioners Association of Victoria, asking him to consider placing before Cabinet reasons why the objectionable provisions of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act should not be removed and the former payments restored. Has the
Minister discussed this subject with his colleagues, and is he in a position to indicate what result may be expected?
– The matter, in all its many and difficult aspects, is still under my own consideration, and I have not yet had an opportunity, nor am I ready, to make any recommendation to the Cabinet.
– Has the Minister for’ Trade and Customs received representations from manufacturers in different parts of Australia intimating that they are unable to obtain piece goods, such as drills, in Australia? What steps, if any., does the . Government .propose to take to enable them to get their supplies, and so carry on their business; and has any decision been reached in reply to the application that by-law 404 be extended for a further period of three months to these goods?
– Up to to-morrow these goods will still come in. at the old rate of free British, so there is no difficulty in the way of importers at the moment. The question as to whether Australian manufacturers can or cannot make these goods is being investigated by the department, and a report is expected in a day or two. I shall then inform the honorable member what is to be done in the matter.
– On the 1st November the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) made reference, on the motion for the adjournment of this House, to the employment of casual labour at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, and suggested that work usually done by casual employees was being done hy permanent employees engaged on Defence Department work. Although this subject properly comes under the control of the Department of the Interior, I promised to make inquiries into it. I have done so, and have ascertained from the managing director of Cockatoo Docks and Engineering Company Limited that the facts are not entirely as outlined by the honorable member. Fifty-five casual employees were actually working on the two vessels to which he referred ; but with these men were the usual number of skilled men invariably put on a job of the kind. The management of the dockyard, in a letter which they have forwarded on thesubject, stated that - .
Representations were made by the Trades and Labour Council on the same subject, and delegatus from the unions concerned met representatives of our company at the rooms of the Metal Trades Employers Association, Sydney. The meeting was presided over by the assistant secretary of the Metal Trades Employers Asso ciation, and his reply to our inquiry as to whether the matter was satisfactorily adjusted, indicates that union officials had not been in full possession of the facts of the case; a copy of his reply is attached hereto for your information.
Mr. D. M. MacDonald, the assistant secretary of the Metal Trades Employers Federation, has also intimated by letter that the complaint was made under some misapprehension. His letter reads as follows : -
In connexion with the conference arranged at these rooms between representatives of your company and the Trades and Labour Council, I wish to state the position as stated by your representative completely cleared the matter up in the eyes of the unions, and they all expressed themselves as being perfectly satisfied that there was no room for complaint. They finally admitted that the facts had been misrepresented to them.
It will be seen, therefore, that an admission has been made that certain facts were somewhat misrepresented. I am assured that there is no desire on the part of the management to act other than reasonably in these matters, and in this particular case there was obviously some misunderstanding.
– Will the Acting Leader of the House inform me when the bill to provide relief to those engaged in the wheat industry, particularly in respect of the coming season’s crop, will be introduced?
– The Royal Commission on the Wheat Industry has promised to present a further report to the Government on the subject, and the receipt of it is now being awaited. As soon as the report comes to hand, the Government will take action.
– Are we to understand that nothing definite will be done in the way of granting relief to the wheat- growers until theRoyal Commission on the Wheat Industry has finished its investigations, or at least until it has issued another report?
– I thought that I had already made it clear that a further report of the commission would be made available almost immediately, and that steps have been taken to enable the report to be implemented before the House rises.
– Has the attention of the Government been drawn to the following statement published in the Adelaide News under date London, the 11th November : -
The South Australian Agent-General, after his return from a visit to the Continent, said that a most favorable opportunity was now offering for South Australia to sell barley to Belgium.
Poland, one of Belgium’s biggest suppliers, had produced only a small percentage of good malting barley this year.
Belgian merchants, however, were experiencing difficulty in making forward contracts to buy South Australian barley because of the delay in settling the trade dispute between Belgium and Australia.
Will the Minister for Trade and Customs state the present position in regard to the negotiations between Australia and Belgium, particularly with respect to barley?
– The negotiations for a trade treaty with Belgium are proceeding, and have almost reached finality. Meanwhile, South Australian exporters of barley will not find any difficulty in obtaining entry for their barley into Belgium.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform me why his department, without inquiry, recently admitted into Australia duty free certain American machinery for use in the sugar industry, when machinery of Australian invention and manufacture was just being made available?
– If the honorable member will furnish me with particulars of the machinery to which he refers I shall have inquiries made into the subject.
– Will the Acting Leader of the House inform me “why such inordinate delay has occurred in the presentation of the report of the royal commission which has been inquiring into the petrol and oil industry ? This report has been expected for months. Will steps be taken to ensure that it will be made available as soon as possible ?
Dr.-‘ EARLE PAGE- I understand that the report is actually- in course of preparation. It should very soon be in the hands of the Government.
– I bring under the notice of the Minister for Repatriation complaints that have reached me to the effect that, notwithstanding the passage of amending legislation recently in connexion with pensions for tubercular exsoldiers, certain pensions are still being reviewed. Will the right honorable gentleman investigate these complaints with a view to rectifying them ?
– I am not aware that the facts are as the honorable gentleman has stated and shall be very much surprised if they are so. However, I shall have inquiries made, and let the honorable member know the exact position.
– Early this year the predecessor in office of the present PostmasterGeneral stated that a regional wireless station would be opened at Grafton before the end of this year. I wish to know whether the building to house it has yet been started, and whether the promise that the station would be in operation before the end of the year will be fulfilled ?
– I shall make inquiries from the Postmaster-General.
– Oan the Minister representing the Postmaster-General indicate when the new wireless broadcasting station at Kelso, Tasmania, will be completed and put in operation?
– I shall make inquiries and let the honorable member know.
– Is tho Assistant Minister administering war service homes aware that the Deputy Commissioner for War Service Homes in Sydney is seeking an ejectment order against Mrs. Smalley, of Earlwood, a deceased soldier’s widow with four children ? Is he also aware that the Deputy Commissioner has continued to harass Mrs. McKenzie, of Earlwood, who has three children to support, and has had the misfortune to lose a leg ? Further, is he aware that the department is also seeking an ejectment order against an ex-soldier, Frederick George Baxter, who is at present a patient at the Prince of Wales Hospital? Will the honorable gentleman take action to have proceedings withdrawn in these cases, and advise the department to cease such harassing tactics in these and similar cases ?
– In conjunction with the Commissioner administering War Service Homes, whose head-quarters are in Melbourne, I have already reviewed the first two cases mentioned by the honorable member. I have no information regarding the third case, hut if the honorable member will supply me with details, I shall take the matter up with the commissioner, who is at present in Canberra. So far as ejectments and eviction orders are concerned, I remind honorable members that they come directly under the control of the commissioners .. themselves, by virtue of powers vested in them by the War Service Homos Act. However, I have already given instructions to the commissioners to withhold all drastic action until we have had an opportunity to revise every case in which it has been suggested that an ejectment order should be sought.
– Has the attention of the Minister been drawn to the annual report of the War Service Homes Commission for 1934 which shows that 2,082 homes formerly occupied by tenants have reverted to the commission, and that the arrears of instalments total £768,000 for the year? In view of the impossible position in which occupiers are placed, will consideration be given to a reduction in the interest below the present figure of 4 per cent, and a re-appraisement of the capital value of the homes?
– The whole position in connexion with war service homes purchasers is now being carefully considered by myself in collaboration with the War Service Homes Commission.
– Is the Minister aware that in connexion with the arrears of payments due on homes it is the practice of officers of his department to recapitalize the indebtedness of the soldier, and to include arrears of purchase money in the prosecutions launched against soldiers who have been compelled to vacate their homes? Will the Minister undertake to have the amount of the arrears deducted in both cases?
– I am not aware of the facts, but if the honorable member will supply mo with details I shall have the matter investigated.
– Will the Minister for Repatriation state whether it is the practice to grant pensions in respect of allowable disabilities, but then, when patients arc admitted to hospital for treatment of such disabilities, to notify them that no sustenance is payable in respect of such disabilities?
– I am not aware that such is the practice, but if the honorable member will supply me with details I shall look into the matter.
– Does the Minister for Defence deal directly with members of the Military Board on matters affecting their departments? On how many occasions since 1919 has the Council for Defence met, and when did it meet last? How is the allocation of the defence vote among the various services determined ?
– The senior officers of the various sections of the defence forces of this country have direct access to the Minister. The Council ‘for Defence has not met frequently, and I cannot say when the last meeting was held. That is a matter which is at present engaging my attention.
The allocation, of the defence vote is governed by the exigencies of the situation in regard to defence, and the needs of the various arms of the service. To a considerable extent, the allocation is determined by mutual agreement after discussions have taken place.
– Will the Acting Leader of the House state whether the Government has informed its official adviser in London, Mr. L. McDougall, that Australia may consent to the reduction of the wheat export quota for 1934-35? If it has not done so, will the Government advise Mr. McDougall that Australia will not consent to any restriction of wheat production?
– The Government’s instructions to its official adviser in London in regard to this matter have not yet been given.
Visit to New Zealand
– Is it true, as has been reported, that it is the intention of Senator Sir George Pearce to accompany Sir Maurice Hankey on some mission to New Zealand? What is the nature of the mission, and will Parliament be given an opportunity to review any agreement or arrangement entered into in the name of Australia by Senator Sir George Pearce with the Government of New Zealand?
– The purpose of Senator Sir George Pearce’s visit to New Zealand is to discuss with the Government of that dominion questions dealing with defence in, the Pacific,, the Government being anxious to avail itself of the unique opportunity presented by the presence of Sir Maurice Hankey in this part of the world. Any decision arrived at will, of course, be subject to review by the Government and by Parliament.
– Will the Minister for Defence state whether any special significance is to be attached to the fact that Sir George Pearce, instead of the honorable gentleman himself, is accompanying Sir Maurice Hankey on a mission to New Zealand?
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.There is no special significance in this matter; it is merely the ordinary provision which a government naturally takes in respect of the defence of the country. The Right Honorable Sir George Pearce, my predecessor in the office of Minister for Defence, is undertaking this mission because for some time past he has had in hand all the arrangements in connexion with it, and, therefore, is much more familiar with it than I could be.
Interference by Aeroplanes.
– In view of the deep resentment felt by many thousands of persons who were gathered in the vicinity of the Melbourne Shrine last Sunday morning at the action of certain individuals in flying aeroplanes overhead during the progress of the service, will the Minister for. Defence state whether the Civil Aviation Department has power to take disciplinary action against those individuals ?
– I was not aware until now that offence had been given in the manner described, but I shall be glad to look into the matter with a view to preventing a recurrence. Such practices have been prevented on other occasions and, so far as I can see, should not have occurred on this.
– Does the Government propose to take immediate steps to deal with unfair competition from foreign subsidized shipping lines? In view of the discussions which have recently .taken place on this subject in the Sydney Chamber of Commerce, and the fact that the question has been left unsettled since before the Ottawa Conference, will the Minister for Commerce take this matter up with the Government at once?
– Two members of the Government of New Zealand are at present on their way to Australia to discuss this problem and other matters with the Government of the Commonwealth.
– In view of the announcement that it is the. intention of the Government to make available to the governments of the States particulars in respect of maternal mortality, and to invite suggestions in regard thereto, will the Minister for Health give an assurance that any statement on the position, other than a. mere invitation to propound schemes, will be made available to members of this House for consideration? Will the * Minister ‘ state whether the matter of maternity allowance is involved ?
– I am not able to supply the honorable member with all the information he seeks, but steps have been taken to convene a conference to discuss maternity welfare, and it is hoped that the conference will meet at an early date. Representatives of the States and of the Commonwealth Health Department will be present, and it is anticipated that proposals will emanate that will lead to the passing of useful legislation.
– Has any correspondence been received in the Prime Minister’s Department as to the dangerous position of the oil tanks located in Newcastle, including those owned by the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited ? Already one fire has occurred while running oil from a ship . to the tanks, and as they are situated in the centre of a densely populated area, will the Government take steps to secure their removal to a more safe location?
– I shall have inquiries made into the matter.
– In connexion with th» devastating effect of the grasshopper, plague which has swept certain portions of the farming areas of South Australia and Victoria, will the Government associate itself with the State Governments in affording urgent relief to those who have been so ruinously affected by the plague ?
– This is essentially a matter for the State Governments, and it is for them to take steps to control the pest and to deal with the question of relief. Op to the present time no requests have been received from the State Governments for assistance in connexion with this matter.
– by leave- After giving full consideration to the report of the Newnes Investigation Committee, appointed by the Governments of the Commonwealth and New South Wales, both governments decided on the 12th July, 1934, to assist financially in the development of the shale oil industry in the Newnes-Capertee area, provided that a company or persons possessing the necessary standing and technical and engineering qualifications, could he induced to operate the undertaking. In reaching this decision both governments were actuated by a desire to see the industry developed along the lines recommended by the Newnes Investigation Committee, bearing in mind the importance of the production of oil fuel from indigenous sources and the effect which the development of the industry would have upon the employment position, particularly in connexion with miners. In the view of both governments, however, it is essential that the development of Newnes should be undertaken by persons possessing technical, engineering, and other qualifications which are regarded as pre-requisites of success and stability. The Governments felt that another failure in the Newnes area would he a serious retrograde step, and that if they sponsored the formation of a company on haphazard and illconsidered lines for the purpose of operating Newnes they would be failing in their duty. Another failure in the Newnes area would also have serious repercussions so far as other fields are concerned, including Baerami in New South Wales and Latrobe in Tasmania. Following on this decision, the High Commissioner in London was asked to approach Imperial Chemical Industries Limited, and Sir John Cadman, the chairman of directors of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company Limited, which is a partner with the Commonwealth Government in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. Imperial Chemical Industries Limited stated that it had no actual experience in the production of oil from shale, and would not be prepared to become “associated with the proposal, although it would render any assistance possible without accepting financial commitments; Sir John Cadman intimated that he would visit Aus tralia during October, and would discus? the matter with representatives” of the Governments on his arrival.
At the invitation of the Governments of the Commonwealth and New South Wales, Sir John Cadman visited Newnes on the 22nd and 23rd October for the purpose qf enabling him to express views as to the possibilities of developing the shale oil industry in that locality. The visit was followed by discussions which took place in Canberra on the 25th October, at which were present the Prime Minister, the Minister for Mines of New South Wales, Sir John Cadman, and Senator McLachlan. Sir John Cadman said that in his opinion the estimates of the Newnes Investigation Committee in regard to the costs of mining would not be realized. He thought that the figures would be exceeded. He also expressed apprehension as to whether the Pumpherston adapted retorts, more commonly known as the Fell retorts, which are installed at Newnes, would be capable of efficiently treating the rich shale which is available in that locality. In connexion with both these matters Senator McLachlan and Sir Herbert Gepp advised ‘Sir John Cadman -
Sir John Cadman intimated that while he was not greatly impressed with the possibilities of developing the shale oil industry in the Newnes area, he would arrange for expert officers of his company to visit Australia at an early date to investigate the possibilities of the industry. Since that discussion took place, the Government has received a letter from Sir John Cadman in which the following passages occur: -
As l have previously assured you, my desire is to assist the Commonwealth Government in any way within my power, and it was with this object that I placed my technical experience at your disposal.
The Anglo-Persian Oil Company, of which I am chairman, and which is a partner of the Commonwealth Government in the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, can only have the same objective as the Commonwealth Government in desiring to see developed in Australia any petroleum resources which can render Australia internally secure in respect of oil supplies on terms and conditions which are practicable and economically sound,
My company are in full sympathy with the policy of the Commonwealth Government, and, in order to assist them, I have arranged for two of the men at our disposal who are most experienced in the mining, retorting, and refining of shale, to visit Australia. Mr. Robert Crichton, a director and the general manager of Scottish Oils (Shale) Limited, and Mr. H. R. J. Conacher, the manager, will leave England in time to intercept me at a convenient port on my return journey on their outward voyage to Melbourne.
I trust that their advice, after a careful survey of the situation, will contribute a substantial and authoritative addition to the knowledge of this difficult problem, and that the Commonwealth Government will, with such assistance, be the better able to determine the future policy it should follow in this matter.
– Is the Assistant Treasurer aware that the Pensions Department is still claiming the balance of the life assurance payable to dependants of deceased pensioners after funeral expenses have been paid? Will the honorable gentleman take action to suspend the relevant provisions of the act in the same manner as the provisions relating to contributions by relatives of pensioners were suspended ?
– The department is acting completely in accordance with the law as it stands. The Government ha3 no change of policy to announce at the moment.
– Is it the intention of the Government, as reconstituted, to restore the invalid and old-age pension to fi a week ?
– It is not the practice to indicate policy in reply to questions.
– Is it the intention of the Acting Leader of the House to endeavour to give effect immediataely to his definitely declared opposition to the reduction of the invalid and old-age pension, and the iniquitous property provisions of the act under which the property of pensioners is confiscated upon their decease? If so, when may we expect the repeal of those provisions and the restoration of the pension to £1 a week?
– It is not the practice to indicate policy in reply to questions.
– I lay on the table-
Report of committee appointed to inquire into question of establishing a plant in Australia for production of oil from coal by hydrogenation process.
– Is the paper to be printed?
.- Then 1 move -
That the paper be printed.
This is a very important paper, which closely affects my constituency, and I consider that it should be printed. Another important paper which was laid on the table to-day relates to the engagement by the Government of Sir John Cadman, Chairman of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, to report on the extraction of oil from coal. This action appears, to me to be farcical, because Sir John Cadman is likely to look after the interests of the major oil companies which are exploiting this country.
– The reason that 1 did not move for the printing of this paper is that 40 or 50 roneoed copies are available for immediate distribution among honorable members, and it was the desire of the Government to avoid additional expense.
.- I appreciate the desire of the Government to avoid expense, and agree that occasionally the printing of papers is a waste of money. This, however, is a very important matter and I should like to bo able to procure a number of copies of the report in printed form so that I may send them to those who are directly interested in it.
– I accept the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented: -
River Murray Waters Act - River Murray
Commission - Report for year 1933-34, together with statements showing gaugings made at gauging stations, and quantities of water diverted from the River Murray and tributaries.
Ordered to be printed.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1934 -
No. 27 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers Federation of Australia; Commonwealth Storemen and Packers Union; and Commonwealth Naval Storehousemcn’s Association.
No. 23 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers Federation of Australia; Amalgamated Engineering Union ; and Australasian Society of Engineers.
Canned FruitsExport Control Act - Eighth Annual Report of Canned Fruits Export Control Board for year 1933-34, together with Statement by Minister regarding the operation of the Act.
Colonial Light Dues Collection Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 128.
Dairy Produce Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 131.
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 141.
Papua Act - Ordinances of 1934 -
No. 3 - Customs Tariff.
No. 4 - White Women’s Protection.
No. 5 - Supplementary Appropriation 1933-34.
No. 6 - Auctioneers.
No. 7 - Appropriation 1934-35.
No. 8 - Sago.
No. 9 - Mining (Facilities for Development).
No. 10 - Petroleum (Mining).
Patents Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 134.
Patents Act, Trade Marks Act, Designs Act, and Treaty of Peace (Germany) Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1.934. No. 132.
Science and Industry Endowment Act -
Report by Auditor-General on Science and Industry Endowment Fund for year 1933-34.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinance of 1934 - No. 23 - Police.
Wine Overseas Marketing Act - Sixth Annual Report of Wine Overseas Marketing Board for year 1933-34, together with Statement by Minister regarding the operation of the Act.
– Is it a fact that the unemployment figures revealed by the last census have been forwarded to the various State governments and, if so, will the information be made available immediately to this House?
– The Census Department has for a considerable time been working very hard on the unemployment figures arising out of the last census. It is hoped that within the next week or ten days the figures relating to four States at least will be made available to this House and to the public.
– Is the Minister for Repatriation aware that the Department has spent approximately £30,000 in the building of repatriation cottages at Leichhardt for the purpose of caring for mentally afflicted returned soldiers, and that no provision has been made for a recreation room, a dining room, or a kitchen, for the attendants? Is the right honorable gentleman further aware that these attendants are compelled to have their meals in the old asylum dining room, half a mile from the cottages? Is he prepared to consider the completion of the block by the addition of recreation room, dining room and kitchen?
– What the honorable gentleman has stated is news to me. If he will supply me with details and arrange for an inspection by me while I am in Sydney during next week-end, I shall attend to the matter.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral inform me whether I may expect the tabling in the Library this week of the papers dealing with the agreements between the Anglo-Persian Oil Company and the Commonwealth Government?
– These papers have to-day been laid on the table of the Library.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).I have received from the honorable member for Batman an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the
House this afternoon for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely “ The action of the Government in refusing to allow Egon Erwin Kisch to land in Australia.”
Five honorable members having risen in support of the motion,
– I move -
That thu House do now adjourn.
The matter that I wish to discuss has quite recently been argued in one of its aspects before a Supreme Court Judge in Victoria, and a decision upon it given. It is not my concern to question that decision or to argue either for’ or against its soundness. I am not prepared to submit but that the Commonwealth has power, inherent and fortified by legislation, to regulate the incoming of aliens to Australia and to forbid their entry for sufficient reasons. That power has been exercised since the inception of the Commonwealth as being inherent in it, and it has been exercised as to groups as well as to individuals. I submit, however, that in the case of individuals the power should be exercised sparingly and free from considerations of party political bias. Above all it should not be exercised without full and careful investigation by a responsible authority. There -is a very old saying that an idea can only be destroyed by a better one. It is a mark, I submit, of weakness and cowardice forcibly to exclude a man from Australia because one differs from the opinions which he holds. I do not accept responsibility for the opinions of Herr Kisch; I am concerned, for the moment, only with his right to express them, and his moral right, which ought to be supported, I submit, by right-thinking people, to enter this country as its guest If, as has been suggested, Herr Kisch has uttered, or is likely to utter, subversive opinions, the laws of this country are strong and drastic enough to have him brought before the appropriate court and dealt with in accordance “with those laws. I suggest that the laws on the statute-book in that regard lack nothing in drastic and even oppressive qualities. In such circumstances a man has the advantage at least of trial before a court of the land. His case is investigated in open court, the public know the evidence for and against, and the decision has to be accepted, although the public mind may be divided sharply as to its wisdom or otherwise.
It has been said that Herr Kisch is a Communist. He denies it. There are many professing Communists in Australia, and, under the laws of this country, provision has been made, and expense incurred, to enable them to contest seats for this Parliament. If I do not know with certainty, I have good reason for believing that certain members of this Parliament, not all on this side, have been supported and helped here by communist votes. I do know with reasonable certainty, however, that Herr Kisch was an accredited delegate to a Victorian convention against war and fascism, which recently sat in Melbourne. I know with sufficient certainty that he was accredited by a central continental branch of a world-wide organization, in association with the names of distinguished men, notably Monsieur Barbusse, the well known author, Romain Rolland, and many others. I know that he is an author of considerable repute and is an accomplished linguist. He has travelled widely. He was to be the guest here of representative men and women of letters, and also of the Australian Journalists Association. Some idea of the general feeling among literary men and women on the subject may be gleaned from certain contributions to the press.
Miss Katherine Susannah Prichard wrote
It in hard to believe that we could be so outrageously discourteous to a visiting author with a considerable European reputation. Herr Kisch is a member of the World Committee against War and Fascism, which includes, in addition to Henri Barbusse, other eminent writers such as Bernard Shaw (who would surely have been a notable Centenary guest),- Theodore Dreiser, Andre Gide, John Dos Passos, and Romain Rolland.
Australia’s action towards Herr Kisch will be deplored by all persons who admire independence of opinion, and will do Australia’s reputation incalculable harm in Europe and America.
Mr. J. M. Harcourt, author of the novel,
Upsurge, stated : -
All sorts of restrictions are placed, apparently, upon any writer whose views do not coincide with those of the Australian Government, or upon anybody who tells unpleasant truths. This action in detaining Kisch should be fought by every literary nian in Australia.
Professor Greenwood made the following comment: -
The detention of Kisch is certainly a breach of democratic rights, if no good reason can be stated why he should not have free speech here.
Mr. Bernard Cronin, president of the Society of Australian Authors, wrote -
On behalf of the Society of Australian Authors, may I be permitted to enter an astonished protest against the action of the Federal Government in refusing to permit Herr Egon Kisch to land in Western Australia.
Herr Kisch is a writer of distinction, whose contribution to the cultural advancement of the world is undeniable; that authority should receive him in such fashion ib a matter for extreme regret.
It is surely absurd to suggest that Herr Kisch’s proper detestation of war ranks him as an undesirable guest of a country whose bereavement in war has called forth so wide an evidence of public memorial. Is the Federal Government in favour of war? If not, how does the stated objection to Herr Kisch hold)
I have not submitted this motion because Herr Kisch is a distinguished person, but because I think his case points a moral, and indicates in a striking way what this Government may presume to do under the powers which it affects to have. I submit that his exclusion has stirred resentment in the great masses of the people, and that the action of the Government has been ill-advised and clumsy. It is calculated to leave in the public mind the impression that the Government has acted without knowledge, and has shown great discourtesy to a distinguished visitor so as to prejudice us in the judgment of the people of a friendly nation, and make us ridiculous in the eyes of all thinking persons. Apparently Herr Kisch is one of two distinctly workingclass visitors who came to Victoria in connexion with its centenary celebrations. There were only two of them, and they were both excluded and denied the right to land in Australia. The other was Mr. Griffin, about whom I am not saying anything at the moment because at the present time I have not full information on the matter.
A short history of Herr Kisch’s case appears to be that he was notified of his proposed exclusion only very shortly before the ship came to anchor at Fremantle, and then . by a subordinate governmental official. Strong protest being made from all parts of Australia by persons who were bewildered and almost stunned at what was proposed to be done, the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) seems to have butted into the piece. He was not the Minister who was dealing with the matter ; I was in communication with that Minister who is now seated at the rear. I would not have objected to the Attorney-General intruding if he had not come so ill equipped to the fray.
– Is it not rather early to say that?
– No, for the very sufficient reason that the AttorneyGeneral has taken upon himself the responsibility of making certain public statements to which I am about to refer. He said, in the first place, that Herr Kisch was refused admission into England and that we were under no obligation to have people of that type for subversive utterances and acts - whatever that might mean. In saying that we were under no obligation to have persons of that type in Australia, the Minister made a very serious statement, defamatory in character, on a delicate matter, and one would have supposed he was thoroughly equipped to make that statement, but he was not. He wa3 evidently quite unaware, and, in fact, admitted it, that Herr Kisch had lectured to crowded audiences in England under the Chairmanship of Lord Marley and others, and that he had been well received by the public and the press of England. When his attention was called to these facts he said that it must have been after that when he was refused admission into England. The Minister had uttered only a half truth, which is said to be worse than a whole lie. The fact was that . after Herr Kisch had been in England for some time and when he was in Paris,- a kind of mock trial or inquiry was proceeding in London into the burning of tho Reichstag. Evidence was taken before a self -constituted tribunal designed to show mainly that the accused were denied that justice that they were entitled to in that connexion. When Herr Kisch left France for England to give evidence on that matter he was refused admission by the action of the Fascists in Germany acting in co-operation with the Fascists in Britain who are now acting, apparently, in co-operation with the Fascists in Australia. The Attorney-General said, on being pressed, that he did not know much about it and was going to Canberra at the week-end, but that in any case the decision arrived at would not be disturbed. It was come to, he said, through an officer of the Department of the Interior andwould stand. In other words, he would consider the matter carefully when he reached Canberra and had had an opportunity to peruse the file, but his judgment would stand. I venture to say that if the honorable gentleman on being approached as a lawyer for an opinion and advice intimated that any opinion or advice that he gave would stand even though he had not read up the matter, and knew nothing of the facts or the law, he would be drummed out of the Bar. I do not see why a delicate matter of international importance should he entitled to less care and precision on the part of the Minister than a private or personal question affecting his own position. Unfortunately the time available to me will not permit me to go into this subject at great length, but obviously no justification has been disclosed for refusing admission to Herr Kisch. The Government, and especially the Attorney-General, have bungled the matter inexcusably, the Attorney-General sacrificing accuracy and a sense of responsibility to his insatiable hunger for notoriety and the applause of his press claqueurs.
– The matter raised by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) is, I agree, one of importance, and I rather welcome the opportunity to explain to honorable members and through them to the public exactly where the Government stands in connexion with it. The action in relation to Herr Kisch was taken pursuant to certain provisions of the Immigration Act which have for a long time enjoyed the sanction of this Parliament. Parliament has declared its policy, and reinforced - if I may use the expression - the right of every civilized country to control the terms upon which foreigners shall enter it. “We have, as an independent country, a perfect right to indicate whether an alien shall or shall not be admitted within these shores. The Parliament of Australia has confirmed that view and elaborated it in the Immigration Act, section 3 of which sets out a category of cases in which admission may be refused. It is provided, in that section, that -
The immigration into the Commonwealth of the persons described in any of the following paragraphs of this Section (hereinafter called “ prohibited immigrants “ ) is prohibited.
Then follows a statement of the various classes of persons who may be prohibited. Some of the sections deal with the restraining of entry of persons suffering from certain diseases. Others prohibit the entry of persons associated with crime, even though, as the honorable member has pointed out, the criminal law would still operate in respect of any such person if admitted. Parliament has decided, in the Immigration Act, to take preventive measures by prohibiting the entry of such persons. Paragraph gd of the Section applies to -
Any person who advocates the overthrow by force or violence of the established government of the Commonwealth, or of any State, or of any other civilized country, or of all forms of law, or who advocates the abolition of organized government -
I omit certain words that have no application to this case and continue with the following words : - or who is a member of, or affiliated with, any organization which entertains and tenches any of the doctrines or practices specified in this paragraph.
In other words that sub-section is designed to deal with people who advocate the change of governmental systems by revolution - and that is not an unfair way to describe the doctrines and attitude of those who- are known to-day as communists. Paragraph gh, which I shall now read, is as follows: -
Any person declared by the Minister to be, in his opinion, from information received from the Government of the United Kingdom, or of any other part of the British Dominions, or from any foreign government through official or diplomatic channels, undesirable as an inhabitant of, or visitor to, the Commonwealth.
It was under that provision that Herr Kisch was excluded, the Minister for the Interior having made a declaration within its terms. In order that honorable members mav perceive at once how the matter stood when presented to the Minister, I shall indicate three important facts relating to Herr Kisch himself. I take the liberty of dealing with this aspect first because time may not permit me to complete some general observations on the policy involved.
As to Herr Kisch, certain information was in the hands of the Government. Honorable members are aware that considerable sources of information are available to the Government of any country like this, indicating the class of association of these gentlemen of international communistic activity. The information in the hands of the Government in this case was such that it seemed to the Minister that the presence of this gentleman was not needed in a free selfgoverning country such as Australia, which has been able to achieve a very high degree of prosperity and happiness, and, I may add, a very high degree of tolerance without the intervention of gentlemen of the subversive views for which international communism stands. The second point is that the proposed Australian activities of Herr Kisch concerned themselves with a “ Congress against war and fascism “. The congress, I admit, bore an attractive name. I suppose very few people in Australia want war, and, speaking for myself, I detest the very notion of fascism in a country like Australia. But the piety of motive of an organization is not determined by its mere name. Information in the hands of the Government indicates that this so-called congress against war and fascism is neither more nor less than the expression in Australia of the international communistic organization, the ultimate ends of which are far from being peaceful. In the third place, some disingenuous attempt has been made to establish that an error has occurred in the statement that Herr Kisch had been excluded from the United Kingdom. As if it were a complete answer to that statement, we were told that Herr Kisch visited England and spoke there with a member of the peerage - -that was, I suppose, the last proof of respectability. But the member of the peerage with whom he spoke was the very well-known “red” peer, Lord Marley. The effect of Herr Kisch’s activities in the United Kingdom in June and July of 1933 was such that in September of that year his further entry into the United Kingdom was banned, and our information is that the ban has continued in operation ever since. I do not need to indicate to any honorable member of this House that the standard of tolerance which exists in the United Kingdom is high. If the British Government has though fit to exclude this man from Great Britain, there can be little room for wonder that a Minister of the Crown in Australia, acting under the provisions of the Immigration Act to which I have referred, should, in turn, make a declaration which has tho effect of excluding him from Australia.
– What about his passport?
– Reference has been made to the fact that Herr Kisch’s passport had been viséd by a British consular officer in Paris. I am sure that every honorable member of the House will agree that no British consular officer at Paris or anywhere else should control the admission of persons into Australia under the Australian immigration laws. A man who takes a passport to any other part of the world is not entitled to say, if when he arrives at the country of his destination he is prohibited from entry under the immigration laws : “ This prohibition is an infringement of the rights granted under my passport”. It cannot be put too clearly that it is no interruption of the rights of a passport to bring the provisions %01 the immigration, law of a country into operation.
Turning now from the particular circumstances in relation to Herr Kisch, I I shall make one or two general observations on the principles which underlie this whole subject. If I understood the honorable member for Batman correctly, he quite rightly preferred to rest his protest, not on the precise circumstances of Kisch, but on the suggestion that the Government is doing one of two things - it is either publicly indicating that it is against any anti-war movement, or, alternatively, publicly indicating that it is the enemy of free speech.
– Apparently, the counts are not alternative, but cumulative, so I shall say a few words on each of them. It is suggested that in some way the Government is pronouncing itself in opposition to all anti-war movements. It is a curious thing that the Communist activities of the world .appear to be directed, either mediately or immediately, from Russian quarters. Communities the world over are being invited to adopt a Russian brand of communism. Evidence abounds that the emissaries of communism that enter various countries have direct association with the Communist head-quarters in Russia, or with intermediate quarters in Paris. It is anomalous that at the very moment these emissaries are engaged in preaching the doctrine of peace in a country like Australia, the Government of Russia is engaged in the most active development of its military power and preparation. Honorable members opposite might be able to explain to their constituents the remarkable anomaly that British communities are being made the subject of this kind of missionary effort, although Great Britain has, during the last eight years, decreased her expenditure on military preparations by 16 per cent., whereas Russia has, during the same period, increased her expenditure for similar purposes by 197 per cent. I take leave to doubt the sincerity of those emissaries who pronounce their love of peace, and their hatred of fascism in Australia, while all the time they are in direct communication with, and in receipt of instructions from, those who are boasting to the inhabitants of Russia of the increased military power of that country.
– What has this to do with the Kisch case ?
– -It has everything to do with it, because Herr Kisch is directly connected with the international Communist organization.
– He has repudiated it.
– Of course, and thu country contains more than one person who has repudiated communism, but we are not bound to accept all such repudiations at their face value. Above all, the Government, which necessarily has access to confidential and secret sources of information, is not bound to take these protestations at their face value.
– Can the AttorneyGeneral produce proof?
– The honorable member knows that it is not consistent with the practice of government, or with the security of the community, to disclose the sources of such information as I have referred to.
The . other ground of attack is that the Government is opposing free speech. I desire to make it abundantly clear that this Government stands for the fullest exercise of free speech and opinion in Australia, subject to one limitation in regard to which I should expect to be supported by every honorable member of this House. We are a selfgoverning community; we have adhered to the parliamentary systems of government, and we cannot submit to the enunciation of opinions in this country designed to bring about the revolutionary overthrow of the existing order, or the existing parliamentary system. It is not to be thought for one moment that any intelligence is displayed by a government that weakly submits to subversive propaganda, the object of which is to bring about revolution. Do honorable members on the other side of the House stand for communism? I venture to say that the great majority of them stand definitely for parliamentary government. If I am any judge of the point of view of a great number of honorable members on the other side of the House, their opposition to fascism is based on their enduring belief in parliamentary government. I put it to them that, if they stand for parliamentary government, they must inevitably be opposed to the revolutionary overthrow of parliamentary government. If communism means anything distinct from some brand of socialism, it necessarily involves revolutionary action in order to change the present system. Can any honorable member of this House deny that communism connotes revolution ? Can anybody pretend that revolution involves anything else but force and bloodshed, and the very negation of the pious resolutions carried at the recent conference in Melbourne? Free speech is an admirable thing; free speech is the law of life in democratic communities, but this Government believes, as I think most honorable members believe, that the limits of permissible free speech are passed by propaganda which aims at the overthrow by violence of the government of a country.
– Does the AttorneyGeneral say that the conference in Melbourne was entirely Communistic in character ?
– I say that this congress against war and fascism was directly and intimately associated with the Communist movement.
– The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– Honorable members must be astounded at the failure of the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Menzies) to give any specific reason for the action taken by the Government in excluding Herr Kisch from Australia. He dealt largely in generalities, and touched hardly at all on the particular subject on which the motion for adjournment is based. He began with a dissertation on the law on this matter, and its application to aliens. Let me inform him at the outset that most honorable members of this House are well aware of the provisions of the law, and he might have saved himself the trouble of his explanation. He next discussed the purpose behind the visit of this man, and informed us that his real intention was to bring about the overthrow of* government by force. I remind honorable members that the party with which the AttorneyGeneral is associated encouraged and assisted in every possible way the New Guard movement in New South Wales a few years ago, although the sole purpose of that organization was the forcible overthrow of the Government of the day. The Attorney-General next went on to say that Herr Kisch had been guilty of certain conduct which had caused the Government of Groat Britain to take action against him. What was the nature of this conduct? What were the activities in which he was engaged ? The AttorneyGeneral has given us no inkling, and we are not hound to accept his unsupported word. I remind the Attorney-General that if governments perform their proper function, namely, to ensure that the people can live in decency and reasonable comfort, they need fear nothing from those who preach revolution of the type he complains about. If the people are contented and reasonably prosperous they will have no desire to change the social order, or even to change the present form of government. It is when governments fail in their duty - when poverty and misery stalk the land side by side with privilege and affluence, that the spectre of revolution raises its head. The best defence of governments against revolution is not to deal with individuals, or attempt to suppress their opinions, but to remedy the grievances of the people by removing the suffering and want that exist.
The Attorney-General said that the purpose of Herr Kisch in coming to Australia was not to foster peace. May I ask honorable members what is the purpose of the visit of Lord Milne and Sir Maurice Hankey to this country? Did they come to foster peace, or was it to encourage the purchase of armaments whereby the interests with which .they are associated in their private capacity may be enriched at the expense of the people? Their efforts are directed, not towards peace, but towards war, and everybody knows it. To-day the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) asked a question regarding the visit of Senator Sir George Pearce and Sir Maurice Hankey to New Zealand, and we were told that it was in connexion with defence matters. We know that it was for the purpose of considering a future war in the Pacific. We were told a little while ago that Sir Maurice Hankey came to Australia as an innocent tourist to take part in the Victorian centenary celebrations. He just happened along casually, there being no ulterior purpose behind his visit whatever. Nevertheless, he was here not more than a few weeks when he has become engaged in vital discussions on the defence of Australia and New Zealand.
The Attorney-General also discussed the situation in Russia, and invited us to disapprove of the conditions existing there. If the Government of Russia is deserving of such severe condemnation, why has the British Government entered into a favoured nation agreement with it, and why do certain interests in Australia support the extension of trade with Russia? If Russia is as bad as it is painted, surely the other countries of the world should refrain from assisting in its development. Far from doing this, however, they are all scrambling for Russia’s trade, and they have even invited the representative of Russia to take his seat on the permanent Council of the League of Nations. This representative has been permitted to enter into most respectable capitalistic company in recent years.
Honorable members who sit on the other side talk glibly about Russia, yet are working hand in glove with those whose trade relations with this country are all absorbed in the mighty dollar. These interests know no country and no flag, and the basis of their dealings is to view all questions from the angle of trade and commerce. It is useless for the Attorney-General to make references of this character regarding Russia when all the aspects of capitalistic countries associations are so fresh in the minds, of honorable members. The honorable gentleman gave no reasons why this man was not permitted” to land in Australia, but merely contented himself with general statements. No answer has yet been given to the House or to the country on this important matter. I should be sorry to see the Attorney-General occupying a position in which he might be called upon to determine my fate or that of any other individual. I ask any honorable member in this House, apart from his prejudices on this question, if he can honestly say that he is content with the statements of the Attorney-General in reply to the case which has been made out. I say that no honorable member is satisfied, and that the matter rests where it stood prior to the honorable gentleman’s speech.
– We are more astounded than ever.
– That is so. Prominent Australian gentlemen, who cannot be said to be associated in any way with the politics of this country, have taken up this matter, and Bishop
Burgmann, the Anglican Bishop of Goulburn, has expressed the opinion that, up to the moment, the reasons given by the Government for its action in refusing permission for Herr Kisch to land in Australia have been altogether inadequate.
– The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– I was very interested in the case made out by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), and also in the remarks delivered in quite a typical Domain speech by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). Statements have been made that the Government should produce evidence to support its action in this matter, and that the man who is the subject of this motion should he very definitely linked up with communism.
– The honorable member himself can be very definitely linked up with the New Guard.
– The honorable member who has made this interjection is recognized as being very closely allied to the Communist party himself, and that is why he objects so strenuously to the New Guard, which placed the Communist movement in Australia in its proper place. I have gone to some trouble to procure the necessary evidence to place before honorable members with regard to the activities of Herr Kisch.
– What is itf
– I shall supply the honorable member for West Sydney with that evidence in due course. Before doing so,, might I say that it is a remarkable thing to find honorable members defending this gentleman, and yet at the same time not protesting against the action taken by the Government in preventing the admission into Australia of a New Zealander named Griffen, who failed to pass a dictation test in Dutch. It is strange to find honorable gentlemen opposite united in their defence of a man who waa definitely proved to be a representative of a Communist government, yet registering no protest at the treatment of Griffen.
Perhaps Griffen was insignificant, too small a fry for them to support, whereas the case of Kisch - a man of international repute - presented an opportunity for greater notoriety. Kisch has received quite a lot of publicity in the official organ of the Communist party in Australia, the Workers’ Weekly. In an issue of that newspaper dated Sydney, Friday, the 9 th November, we are told, under bold headlines, that Egon Kisch, famous writer and international delegate to the Anti-War Congress at Melbourne, was refused permission to land in Australia, and that G. Griffen, a New Zealand delegate to the same congress, had been deported. The newspaper article contains the following paragraph : -
Following this, word is received from Perth that Egon Kisch, world-renowned author, is refused permission to land! Egon Kisch came to deliver a message of fraternal greeting from the toiling people of Europe to the Australian toilers, a message of solidarity in the struggle to prevent a new outbreak of war.
We know that Herr Kisch came to Australia to attend an Anti-War Congress at Melbourne, i yet honorable members opposite persist in saying that he merely came here to attend the Melbourne Centenary celebrations.
– The honorable gentleman does not know what he is talking about. He is quite in the dark as to what actually was said.
– The honorable member for Batman said that Herr Kisch and Mr. Griffen came as two of the learned gentlemen who were invited to attend the celebrations. He said “ One of them, Mr. Griffen, has been deported. I have nothing to say about the case of Griffen, because I am not aware of the facts “. But what is the Anti- War Congress? It is very interesting to trace the history of this movement, and if time would permit I would give honorable members the particulars. It is definitely allied to, and has grown out of, the League Against Imperialism, an acknowledged Communist movement. Support is given to this statement by a reference to those who belong to this organization. We find again that Herr Kisch was also associated with this organization - a statement which is proved by reference to tho Workers’ Weekly, which supported that gentleman in an endeavour to collect the funds necessary to pay his expenses to Australia. The following appeared in the Workers’ Weekly on the 19th October, 1934:-
Mrs. Moroney will arrive in time to report to congress, while on the same boat will be thu world committee delegate, the famous German writer, Irwn Egon Kisch. It was a race indeed to raise the £100 necessary to provide the passage for this famous delegate who suffered under the iron heel of Hitlerism, and all supporters of the movement are urged to make liberal donations to help defray the heavy expense incurred. £100 will but half cover the expenses, and it is hoped to have this great anti-war and antiFascist fighter tour the whole of Australia on a lecture tour before his return.
Although my friends opposite claim that this man is not a Communist, he is, apparently, accepted as such by the Workers’ Weekly which requested him to deliver certain lectures. But he is not merely a Communist; he is also an important Communist, and he was a member of the International Society of Proletarian Authors, a Communist organization founded in Moscow, which held an international congress this year. Indeed, he is an international speaker on anti-war and anti-fascism, and it is under that guise that he comes to Australia. I have already proved that this anti-war movement is definitely communistic, and has emerged out of the League Against Imperialism.
– Would the honorable member say that Dr. Burgmann is a Communist ?
– No; but I believe he, like many others, has been gulled by the name of the organization, and is not aware of the facts.
We know that the delegates who came to attend this congress are closely allied to the head-quarters of the Russian antiwar movement, and the Attorney-General has already drawn attention to the significant fact that Russia itself is rapidly arming. These people who are directing their efforts against war are not opposed to warfare generally, so much as they are opposed to imperialistic moves. My friends who speak of warfare really refer to warfare of colonial liberation, which, according to communistic literature, is a revolution, such as the Bolsheviks have tried to provoke in Egypt, the Malay
States, and in India. Their aim is not to prevent recurrences of imperialistic warfare, hut to divert it into civil warfare. That is what I take to he the meaning of colonial liberation. I submit that we should not permit the introduction of delegates into Australia who are prepared by subversive doctrines to undermine the defences of the Empire, in order that they may be in a better position to carry on a war when the appropriate time arrives. We should support the laws recently passed by this Parliament, particularly the immigration laws, because the conditions that obtain in Australia are such that we should object to any interference in any way by these political disorganizationists with the rights, not only of Parliament, but of the people generally.
.- The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) is very familiar with what has happened since Herr Kisch entered Australian waters, but I know a little more about what happened before he came here, because I am a member of the organization to which he belongs. I have been i member of it since its inception in Melbourne, and can, therefore, claim to know a great deal about it. I can give the circumstances under which Herr Kisch came to this country. An Australian conference was being held in Melbourne of the body to which we belong.
– And I too!
– I believe other honorable members belong to it. It was thought that it would be a good thing to invite a European representative of the body which was founded by that distinguished writer, Henri Barbusse and we were informed that Herr Kisch would be able to attend. Attempts were then made to raise his fare. To show that there was no concealment of the matter, the Immigration Department was informed of his coming, because at that time it was thought that, as he was believed to be a German national, the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act might debar him from entering Australia. We were told that that was not so, and that the only difficulty was that a guarantee of his expenses would have to be provided. Curiously enough, we were also informed that that requirement might be waived because he might be regarded as a Centenary visitor. That suggestion came from the officials of the Immigration Department. Citizens of Melbourne gave the guarantees required by the Immigration Restriction Act. I am not acquainted with this man, but I believe implicitly that he has spoken the truth. I know him to be a distinguished writer, and the associate of men who are distinguished writers on this subject, whose honesty, bravery, and international virtue are above suspicion. I refer not only to Barbusse. but also to Romain Rolland, winner of the Nobel prize- and author of that famous work, Jean Christophe, which many honorable members have read. Herr Kisch has said that he is not a Communist, and I unreservedly accept his word.
The Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) has said that the Consul-General for Great Britain in Prance cannot force upon us a person whom we do not desire to accept. The only reliance which Herr Kisch places upon the Consul’s vise1 is that the Consul would not vise the passport to Australia of a person whose exclusion from England w,as desired. Kisch says that he spoke in England under the chairmanship of Lord Marley. He quotes Lord Marley, not because he is a peer, but because he is not a member of the Communist party. He is a member of the Labour party, and one of the Labour peers in the House of Lords. I have read speeches that he has delivered in that chamber. He was a supporter of the Ramsay MacDonald Labour Government. Subsequently, an inquiry was held under the presidency of Mr. Pritt, K.C., to investigate the origin of the Reichstag fire. A second attempt was made by Kisch to enter England, but he was refused entry. He says that that refusal was the result of representations made by the present Government of Germany, which had imprisoned him in the Brown House, and had beaten and nearly kicked him to death. It was after that that he went to the Consul-General for Great Britain in France., who could not see that any objection could be offered by the British Government to his entering Australia, and consequently vised his passport. Those are the facts.
The Attorney-General was unfortunate in that he had to handle a brief which had really fallen, I understand, to the ex-Minister for the Interior (Mr. E. J. Harrison) . That honorable gentleman, I believe, was responsible for the decision to exclude Kisch. Those who have known the Attorney-General for any length of time must have viewed with disgust and surprise the attitude which he adopted to-day. I have known him for a great many years. Although we have differed politically, I have always thought that, if there were one thing for which Robert Menzies would lay down his life, it was for the right of freedom of speech, for the right of people to express their opinions. The honorable gentleman has said that we are entitled to exclude this man from Australia because he is a member of a body, or is affiliated with a body, which seeks the overthrow of government by violence. May I remind honorable members that, closely allied with the Immigration Restriction Act, is legislation entitled the Crimes Act, which provides that an investigation can be held into the question whether or not a certain body does advocate the overthrow of government .by violence, and that, if such a body be found to advocate those doctrines, its members can be dealt with. Although I am not a Communist - I am very far from being a Communist - I verily believe that, had there been an inquiry concerning the Communist party, it could not have been held to be a body which advocates the overthrow of government by violence. I have given sufficient study to the Communist position to decide that I could not accept it. But I understand: it. Its position is that you cannot change the existing system by parliamentary means; that if you obtain a majority at the elections, the ruling classes will refuse to accept the people’s decision, and will then take by force - a reactionary coup d’etat. The Communists say that that is what the workers must realize is at the end of parliamentary agitation. I do not agree with that. But it is a reasoned position, and one which I understand. I have taken the pains to understand it in order that I might make up my mind as to whether I could or could not be a Communist. Having studied the Communist position, I came to the conclusion that I could not be a Communist. But the Communists are perfectly entitled to express their opinions. Some of the noblest spirits of the world belong to the Communist movement. I have the best of reasons for believing that the Attorney-General has not stated his own position. I break no confidence when I refer to a deputation that waited on the honorable gentleman as Minister for Railways in the Government of Victoria. That deputation said to him “Here is a man who has been dismissed from the railways. We believe that he has been dismissed because he is a Communist “. What reply did the honorable gentleman make ? He said “ You know that I would not stand for any man being dismissed because he is a Communist. I cannot force the Commissioner for Railways to reinstate this man, but I shall take the matter up with him “. He subsequently told us that the Commissioner had given his assurance that this man had been dismissed, not because he was a Communist, but for other reasons. The honorable gentleman made it quite clear that he did not think that a Communist was a person who was unfit to be employed by the Government of Victoria.
It is useless to shelter behind the argument that this action has been taken only against an alien. That which is done to an alien can be done to a British subject. Griffen, a British national, was excluded from Australia. In his case the farce of a dictation test was resorted to. Bernard Shaw could have been excluded because of his membership of such a body as that with which Kisch, Barbusse. the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) and I are connected.
– The honorable member has exhausted his time.
– I have been so engrossed with customs matters during the last two years that I have rarely addressed myself to other subjects. But the- outburst of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) compels me to make some remarks on this occasion. In a way, this matter has a trade reflection. We object to imports of a certain type. I would encourage exports of the same type. The honorable member for
Batman has referred to those who are the “great read”, or the “well read”. I presume he spoke on behalf of the “Reds” and the “Pinks” that congregate behind men of this class. The honorable member mentioned the literary people who are supporting this man’s entry into Australia. I challenge him to name a single book that Kisch has< written. Not a single publication by Kisch has been translated into the English language. Yet, according to the honorable member, the so-called literateurs, the intelligentsia, claim that this man ought to be allowed to land in Australia.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs aware that the Lane publishing house of London has two of his books in hand?
– A lot of publishers have in hand books that frequently do not see the light of day. Lenin has written a foreword to a translation by this gentleman of a book called Ten Days that Shook the World - a revolutionary work written by an American.
– It is an historical work.
– I admit that. So much for those who are willing to rush in with their heads down because this man is said to be a persecuted author. The honorable member for Batman introduced the name of Bernard Cronin, the president of the Australian Authors Society. Cronin wrote purely on his own behalf. As a member of that organization I can say that, in the main, its members are indignant at the action which he took. It is rather strange to see the fraternal interest taken in this alien pseudo-author who comes to our shores, and the little interest taken by the same persons in the encouragement of the more worthy type of British migrant.
– He comes as a visitor, not as a migrant.
– He comes as a visitor, to make trouble. As Attorney-General in the Scullin Government the honorable member for Batman was au fait with what was going on in the Communist world. On the Cth August, 1931, I asked him whether he would investigate a paper known as the Workers Weekly, which bore the insignia of the Soviet Union, and claimed to be the official journal of the Communist party in Australia. His reply was “I assure the honorable member that my department, particularly the Investigation Branch, is fully aware of the circulation of literature of this class; in fact, I have a large collection of numbers of the journal mentioned, and if ever I should have a year to spare, I shall peruse them.” Largely as a result of that answer, he went into an eclipse, and had three years to spare. Hs has now come back into this Parliament, and his first really important utterance deals with Communists.
We are all pacifists in the real sense pf the term. If the honorable member is taking up this matter in the cause of pacifism, let us applaud him. He at least i3 consistent, because, so far as we can remember, he has always been a pacifist. But those militant pacifists who would start a class war among their own people are infinitely more dangerous to the community than are aggressive militarists. The returned soldiers particularly are in the real sense pacifists. They do not want war, because they know at first hand someting of what it means. As a unit in the British Commonwealth of Nations, we abhor violence, whether it be individual or national in character. The nation is purely an extension of the family. While inoffensive to others, we would resent and resist aggression. The British Empire is a collection of national unit3, and we can best extend its ideals by encouraging the individual to realize that he has not only rights but also obligations.
– The right to starve, in some eases.
– The right to starve if he so cares. The honorable member foi East Sydney knows that in the country from which he draws his inspiration - Russia. - there is no right to loaf ; work is compulsory. I challenge him to advocate compulsory work in the East Sydney electorate. If he did so he would lose his slender majority and would’ not be returned at the next elections. The nation has the obligation to prevent aggression from outside as well as within its own borders, and to deal with undesirables whether they come from overseas or are within its shores. The army, the navy, and the air force stand behind the police force. While the international situation is as it is, pacifists in this country are dishonest in their outlook if they do not realize that if we are to uphold the White Australia policy, which is challenged in some parts of the world, we have to consider means of defence, and must not allow our institutions to be undermined by disruptive propagandaHonorable members who are connected with trade unions know how the Communists are “ white-anting “ or “ redanting “ their organizations. This antiwar propaganda is also an attack on the intelligentsia, and by that I mean such men as the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) and the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn). Although they flatter themselves that they are free-thinkers, and that this movement will bring about their ideal of international peace, they are easy prey to this kind of flattering propaganda. I was invited to attend this anti-war congress, and would have liked to go as a delegate, but one had only to look up the records of those who were to take part in it, not only those already here, but also those who were to come from abroad, to nee with whom they were affiliated.
– ‘Surely the Minister was not afraid to put his views before them.
– Not at all. This Parliament has passed an act for the purpose of keeping out of Australia persons of a criminal or diseased type, and others with revolutionary ideas. Its provisions are similar to those of a measure enacted in the United States of America under which it is necessary for a migrant to sign a document declaring that he is opposed to the overthrow of government by revolutionary means. The Immigration Restriction Act can be applied to any person who advocates the overthrow by force or violence of the established government of the Commonwealth or any State, or any other civilized country, or who is a member of, or affiliated with, any organization which entertains and teaches such doctrines. It cannot be denied that Kisch is affiliated with international communism, and the Government, therefore, has acted in accordance with the law. I think the members of the Opposition would do well to recall what happened during the regime of a Labour government when they permitted a Mr. Barker, who had been, previously deported, to re-enter Australia, although he was a prohibited migrant.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I quite agree with everything that has been said by Ministers and ex-Ministers about Aus* tralia being entitled to keep undesirable persons out of Australia. As an independent nation, we have the right to say who shall and who shall not enter this country. But I do not think that is the question being discussed to-day. I appeal to the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Pater-
Bon) to have this matter reconsidered, because the House has not been presented with the facts upon which the general charges have been based, and I consider the House is entitled to have them. I urge the Minister to ascertain whether there is sufficient evidence to justify the statement that Mr. Kisch is undesirable. We have his public declaration that he is not a Communist. I do not propose to discuss the question as to whether he should be excluded because of being a Communist. If a man is a Communist, and it- is assumed, as the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Menzies) seems to have assumed, that, ipso facto, he must believe in the overthrow of government by violence, I suggest that the Minister has an early job to his hand, under legislation already passed, to investigate communistic activities in Australia.
– That matter will not be overlooked.
– Up to the present time, it has been overlooked by all the Minister’s predecessors. It is alleged, but not in definite terms, that Mr. Kisch is a Communist; at any rate, that in his agitation against war, he is affiliated internationally with Communists, which, however, does not prove him to be a Communist. The only definite statement on the matter is his own, and he denies that he is a Communist. That we must accept until proof to the contrary is produced. Association with a body engaged in an international agitation against war does not necessarily brand a man as a Communist, because, linked up with the agitation against war, are to be found representatives of every section of the community- churchmen and nonchurchmen, the strongest conservatives and the most radical of our community - Labour and Liberal. I have been associated with a number of anti-war meetings in the capital cities of Australia, and at town hall meetings I have found myself in company with UnitedAustraliaparty Ministers, but that does not prove that my political views are similar to those of those Ministers. All shades of political thought are found in a worldwide movement against war.
– Appearance on the same platform does not mean affiliation.
– Quite so, but we have not had one tittle of evidence of any affiliation by Mr. Kisch with communism. I had sufficient experience in the Department of External Affairs to know that information was obtained through channels which the Government was entitled to keep confidential, but that does not exonerate Ministers from at least giving us some of the facts without disclosing the sourCe of those facts.
– ^Disclosure of facts sometimes involves disclosure of the source from which -they are obtained.
– In such a case, the Minister would be entitled to withhold the facts, but to-day we have heard nothing but generalities. I know from experience the responsibility which rests upon Ministers who handle these matters. Governments cannot disclose the means by which their information is obtained, but, at least, we should have had a frank statement as to what Mr. Kisch has said and done; in other words, what has justified the Government in the conclusion it formed. The Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) very cleverly dismissed the statement of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) that this man had been given a passport by the British Consul-General in Paris by asking “ Who is going to accept the right of a British Consul-General to say who shall come to Australia?” But that is not meeting the argument. The point is that this man was surely examined by the British ConsulGeneral in Paris. From my little experience abroad, the British Embassy in every part of the world is a most efficient body. I had experience of it in France, Switzerland and Italy, as well as in’ England. The British Ambassador not only acts for the British authorities, but also has authority to act for the Commonwealth Government in saying whether a passport shall be issued.
– No; in Paris a passport is issued by our own representative there, Mr. Voss.
– He is purely a trade representative.
– He is the only representative we have.
– In every part of Europe to-day the British Embassy represents the Commonwealth Government in the matter of the issue of passports, and with regard to our diplomatic relations with other countries. We have no other channel with which to communicate with foreign countries.
I hold no brief for Mr. Kisch. I do not know him. But I regard it as a serious act to exclude for Australia a national from another country without just cause. If the reason for this action is just, I have not a word of criticism to offer, but 1 urge the Minister to reconsider it. I believe that his predecessor rushed in without examining the matter as thoroughly as he might have done. I did not take part in this discussion previously, because I was waiting to hear some substantial statement to support the general allegations against this man. Therefore, I urge the Minister to ascertain if there .is sufficient evidence to warrant denying him entry in to Australia.
– The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) spoke, as he said, with authority, and remarked, “ This is a fact.” His statement was that the British Consul-General in Paris would not have given this man -a vise if he had been excluded from the United Kingdom, or was an improper person to be allowed to come to Australia. In spite of the authority with which the honorable member spoke, I regret to say that that is not a fact.
– I did not Bay that.
– I wrote down’ what T heard the honorable member say. He said the Consul-General would not have given a vise to a man who had been excluded from the United Kingdom.
– Mr. Kisch admits that he was excluded from the United Kingdom.
– I do not think I have misrepresented the honorable member. Any British Consul-General will give a vise to any individual desirous of visiting a British dominion, so long as he is not on a dominion “ black list “, and always subject to the issue of a landing permit. It is a common practice for the authorities at Australia House to be approached by individuals who have some reason to fear that they may be refused a landing permit on arrival in Australia. That was the clear and obvious course for this man to take. He could not have been unaware of the fact that there might have been at least some doubt whether he would be allowed to land. Applications such as those I have in mind have come from countries as distant as Poland andRussia. The applicants write to Australia House, giving their references in Australia, and asking for a landing permit. In almost every case this permit is given unless the applicant is on some black list. If there is any further doubt, the authorities at Australia House cable to Australia at the expense of the individual concerned. Mr. Kisch relied on the limited authority invested in the British Consul-General in Paris, and he has fallen down.
I am glad that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) has recognized that every government has to take measures to protect itself. I use the word “ every “ advisedly, for I believe that the right honorable gentleman and the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) well know that governments have to take many measures which cannot be made public. They have to use sources of information which are legitimate, but of which the general public cannot be made aware. In this man’s case, information is available which cannot be issued to the general public.
– Surely sufficient information could be released, without revealing the source of it.
– I suppose the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Menzies) could, had he wished to do so, have got a little closer to the facts; but he has assured the House that information is in his possession which completely justifies the exclusion of this man. In the circumstances, I suggest that honorable members, and particularly the Leader of the Opposition, should be willing to accept that statement.
I should like to refer to one or two other aspects of the subject. Play has been made by some honorable members on the point that proof has not been forthcoming of the connexion between the Anti-War Movement and the Communist party; but it often happens, that, while definite proof may not be obtainable on a particular point, sufficient information is available to remove all reasonable doubt from the minds of unbiased people. That is the case in this instance. I shall relate some of the circumstances which point to the connexion between these two bodies. As honorable members know, the Anti-War Movement issues a journal periodically. The articles from that journal are quoted regularly in the Communist press of Australia, and in no other press. I can see that certain honorable members dissent; but I ask them, and the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) in particular, not to be too precipitate. Another consideration is that, in nearly all the States, the branches of the Anti-War Movement are housed with the State branches of the Communist party. This is the case in Sydney.” The national secretary of the Anti-War Movement is a well-known Communist, who was previously the secretary of the League Against Imperialism.
– That is not correct. Mr. J ames is a university student.
– Mr. James is not the secretary. I shall not give the name of the individual to whom I refer, and so afford him the publicity which the honorable member for Cook evidently wishes him to receive. The Anti-War Movement is housed in Sydney in the same offices as a number of well-known and acknowledged Communist organizations. This is the case in practically every capital city. It is also a fact that there is a majority of Communists on the executive committee of the Anti-War Movement in every State except South Australia.
– Is that proof?
– I am not putting it forward as proof, but as a consideration which would tend to remove doubt from the minds of unbiased persons. Another consideration is that leaflets inviting attendance at the congress of the AntiWar Movement were issued by No. 4 District of the Communist party of Australia, and its name was on the leaflet. In Brisbane, No. 3 District of the Communist party also issued papers in connexion with the Anti-War Movement. These are facts which point to the connexion between the Anti-War Movement and the Communist party. Another consideration is that the Melbourne Trades Hall, which presumably might be expected to associate itself with an altruistic movement against war, has definitely contracted itself out of the AntiWar Movement in Melbourne. Finally, and I direct this with deference to the honorable member for Cook, the Sydney Trades and Labour Council has prohibited its members from taking part in the Anti-War Movement, well knowing its character. I leave the honorablemember for Cook to laugh that off if he can.
– I rise to a personal explanation. The Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) stated that I said that the British Consul-General by giving his vise to the passport of Herr Kisch had shown that he did not know, or did not think, that Herr Kisch had been excluded from England, but what I had said previously showed that Kisch had already been excluded from England. What I said, to the best of my recollection, was that the British Consul-General in Paris did not believe that the British Government desired the exclusion of Herr Kisch, but that when excluded he had been excluded for a particular purpose under special circumstances.
. -The exclusion of Herr Kisch from Australia reveals the contradictions in the present system of capitalism more than anything else, although the incidents surround an individual. War preparations are going ahead apace, both in Europe and in the Pacific; in Europe, because ofthe fear of the Fascist Government of Germany; in the Pacific, for the control of the oil of Manchukuo, the only oil in the Pacific. The Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) has repudiated the Russian Government. Perhaps he will be surprised when the ex-Minister for Defence (Sir George Pearce) returns from New Zealand, after having conferred with Sir Maurice Hankey in that dominion, to find that Australia’s ally in the Pacific is Soviet Russia.
– That is supposition.
– It is nothing of the kind. I shall proceed to give some history of the development of these world movements, for the information is available to not only the honorary Minister (Mr. Casey), or the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies), but also every keen student of current events. It is well known that war preparations are proceeding apace because of the danger of Fascism in Europe. Great Britain is unready for the great preparations that are being made in Fascist countries in Europe. The British Government knows that in the last three years alone Germany has increased its armaments not by the 197 per cent. referred to by the Attorney-General,but by 360 per cent. Whereas Great Britain has brought about a 16 per cent. reduction of armaments - has become in fact a second-class nation - the strength of Germany has increased. Herr Kisch is a victim of the very circumstances which have made a victim of Great Britain, circumstances which have led the British Government to send its highest military authority - the supreme authority I might say - Sir Maurice Hankey, to visit the dominions to urge them to do everything they can in preparation for war. Herr Kisch, I say, is a victim of the system which allows such things to be done. The exMinister for the Interior (Mr. E. J. Harrison) may have been at the war, but he has shown clearly that he has not even an elementary knowledge of the world conditions that are prevailing to-day, otherwise he would not have sought to place a ban on a victim of those conditions. I was surprised to hear the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) speak as he did about Herr Kisch. As an author he should “ stick up for his cobbers “. Herr Kisch is an author of recognized reputation in Europe. Because only a few of the works of famous foreign authors, such as those of Nietzsche, have been translated into
English, we must not assume that other foreign and world famous authors are what the Minister for Trade and Customs has called pseudo-authors.
– Has the honorable member read any of Herr Kisch’s books?
– I have not.
– That is ail that I said.
– It must be remembered that numbers of prominent authors in Europe .acclaim Herr Kisch as one of the finest writers of the day. In these circumstances it was not proper of the Minister for Customs to speak of a fellow author in such derogatory terms.
I wish to relate the circumstances that led to the exclusion of Herr Kisch from Great Britain. He was present at a conference presided over by Lord Marley. He went to Germany and was arrested there. While he was there what we know as the Reichstag fire trial - a mock trial - was opened in Great Britain. Herr Kisch escaped from prison in Germany and got to Paris. But the Von Papen Government intimated to the British Government that for diplomatic reasons it should not -permit that trial to take place. In these circumstances the British Government, because it did not desire discordant diplomatic relations with Germany, declined to admit Herr Kisch to Great Britain when he wished to return to give evidence in that trial. Herr Kisch is not a Communist. The members of the Communist party will never deny their membership of it, because if a Communist denies that he is a member of the party he is at once branded as a traitor. I hope the advice given by the Leader of the Opposition to the Government will be accepted. The ex-Minister for the Interior is like a babe in international affairs, and his advice may be disregarded. I assure the Government and the House that when Sir George Pearce, the exMinister for Defence, returns from New Zealand, after his conference with Sir Maurice Hankey, he will state that Australia must ally herself with Russia in matters relating to the Pacific. The British Government has moved that Russia should be allowed to reenter the League of Nations. In all the circumstances, the AttorneyGeneral should not have made such general statements as he did in regard to international movements. He has not the knowledge, but it will be conveyed to him through the exMinister for Defence when he returns from New Zealand.
– Nearly all the predictions which the honorable member has made within recent years-
– Are correct; not one has failed.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– To my mind, the only thing to be considered in connexion with this matter is the character of the gentleman who is the subject of the motion for adjournment. It seems strange to me that ‘ the party which takes upon itself the eternal task of looking after the welfare of the down-trodden workers is always prepared to take up the cudgels in behalf of any distinguished foreigner who happens, for the time being, to agree with its own particular policy. Does it not strike honorable members as strange that Herr Egon Kisch who, according to the Adelaide newspapers, and according to statements made in this House this afternoon, is a citizen of the newly-founded State of Czechoslovakia, should carry the German designation “Herr” instead of “Monsieur,” which is used in Czechoslovakia? He publishes his writings in German, and lives in Prance. He comes to Australia in order to carry on propaganda in behalf of a foreign-constituted organization, and, because he has been refused admittance, we have a hue and -cry from those who really have most to lose from any weakening of the power of the British Empire or of its dominions. I know something of the inner workings of the anti-war society. I watched its development in Adelaide, and I can bear out what has been said of it by the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Casey). The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) will admit that, had it not been for the efforts of an ex-Senator, now, unfortunately, deceased, the Communist party would have gained control of the anti-war society in Adelaide. Because that society has gained .the adherence of a few ministers of religion and wellmeaning cranks it must not be taken too seriously by the people of Australia. We are a deliberative assembly, and we have the right to determine what persons shall come into the country, and enjoy the benefits of a stay here. If it had been decided to have some other persons as guests at this time there might have been motions of objection from the other side of the House. For instance, if we had invited Herr Hitler, or Signor Mussolini, honorable members opposite would, no doubt, have protested. On the other hand, had the invited guests been ex-King Amanullah, or some dethroned African potentate or witchdoctor, they would, no doubt, have been given a right royal welcome. I was particularly interested in the remarks of the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn). It is remarkable that one Communist document circulated in Australia has as its author a namesake of this honorable gentleman. The writer is Maurice Blackburn, and the document is published in Melbourne. I have here an official manifesto issued by the Communist party during an election campaign in New South Wales, when a gentleman who is now an honorable member of this House was a contestant. I refer to the honorable gentleman who is, temporarily I hope, representing the electorate of Cook.
– Let the honorable member contest the seat against him!
– The curry is cooking, and will be served hot with a whole lemon. One of the statements of policy contained in this manifesto is that the party should endeavour to win Australian workers definitely to . desire the defeat of the British Empire in war. That is astatement of treason, and the people who are responsible for making it are not fit to go to the table of this House and take the oath of allegiance to the King. I trust that we shall hear no more of the Kisch incident. I can assure honorable members that, if time permitted, I could say quite a lot about that gentleman. In all charity I can give the assurance that Herr Kisch is not a saint, or is he material out of which the combined forces of the Labour party can make a martyr.
Motion (by Mr. Gander) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- In the one minute at my disposal I desire to reply to the statements made by honorable members opposite.
– The time allotted for the debate on this motion has elapsed.
Debate interrupted under Standing Order No. 257b.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of
Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Casey) proposed -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of moneys be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to authorize the raising of a certain urn of money and for other purposes.
.- I move -
That the words “ and lor other purposes “ be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ for the relief of unemployment.”
The committee should be as specific as possible because the circumstances, I am given to understand, warrant the necessary sums of money being raised. I am compelled to make this move at this stage because, at a later stage in the discussion, I might be prevented from securing what my party considers to be a necessary direction to the Government on this important matter. If the motion stands without alteration it means that nothing definite is decided as to the purpose for which the money is required. The main problem which confronts this country - in fact the only problem when all is said and. done - is that of unemployment. By its removal most of the ills and troubles which beset us would vanish and much of the suffering which results from it would be avoided. The Minister has moved his motion in accordance with the usual procedure, but we consider that there should be no vagueness about the allocation of this money. The Government frames its motion in such a way that it will be able to divert the sums of money to be raised into any channel that it wishes. On the other hand we are of opinion that that should not be permitted. The money raised might be directed to the payment of exorbitantly high rates of interest or to the payment of exchange. We consider that we should direct every means at our disposal in this Parliament towards ensuring that the purposes for which the moneys are to be raised should be specifically set down; and in this instance we think it should be done now because at a later stage we may be prevented from controlling their allocation as we think fit. In other words we desire now to determine that the money proposed to be raised is definitely allocated for the purpose of relieving unemployment and for that purpose alone. If that is done we know exactly where we are.
– I rule the amendment moved by the honorable member for West Sydney out of order on the ground that it would alter the destination of the Governor-General’s recommendation.
– I move -
That the ruling of the Chairman bo dissented from.
Before submitting my amendment I obtained advice. The committee is considering the message from the GovernorGeneral. Nothing has yet been revealed as to the amount proposed to be raised, and I do not think it is within the province of the Chair to suggest, at this stage, that I am misdirecting an amount of money. All that we know, at this stage, is that it is considered expedient to authorize the raising of a certain sum. The purpose for which the money is to be raised is not specified. I am confining myself to the message itself. I fully understand it would not be competent for me to go beyond that point at this stage, because it would be usurping the rights of the Government. I am not suggesting any interference with the total sum to be raised, I am merely endeavouring to give Parliament the right to say how it should be spent. The Government itself has not disclosed the purpose to which this money shall be applied, therefore it is difficult to understand how it could be said that I was altering its destination. I suggest that we are entitled, at this stage, to determine for what purpose the money shall be used.’
– Section 56 of the Constitution Act provides -
A vote, resolution, or proposed law for the appropriation of revenue or moneys shall not be passed unless the purpose of the appropriation has in the same session been recommended by message of the Governor-General to the House in which the proposal originates.
The effect of the amendment would be to take power out of the hands of the Government, and to bring about a misdirection of the appropriation.
– I submit that after Mr. Speaker has left the chair and the House has resolved itself into committee, the message from the GovernorGeneral recommending appropriation becomes the business purely of the committee, and no longer concerns the House. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) did not wish to interfere in any way with what might be in the proposed appropriation, but simply sought to lay down the manner in which it should be allotted. It appears to me that if the committee is prevented by the Standing Orders from “doing so, it is to that extent stultified. If, whether we like it or not, we simply have to agree to whatever is involved in the message, discussion is useless. I hope that honorable members will not be guided solely by a desire to expedite the business to-night. and that they will view the matter npt from the party point of view, but from the point of view of the rights and privileges of members of the committee. The ruling given by the Chair may suit them to-night, but may not on a future occasion. What is now done will stand as a precedent for all time, Honorable members who are jealous of their rights should be careful to refrain from doing what may curtail them. I support the motion of dissent “from the ruling of the Chair, because I believe that the proposed amendment is in accordance with the Standing Orders, and that the desire of the honorable member for West Sydney is to safeguard the rights of honorable members when in committee and to give them some semblance of control over the business which i’s transacted,
– I sympathize with the intention of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) that this vote shall be used exclusively for the purposes of unemployment. Honorable members who are associated with me on this side of the chamber are equally anxious that everything possible shall be done to that end. I recognize, however, that the provisions of the Constitution are so definite that it is almost impossible to achieve that objective. A clear reading of the Constitution supports the ruling of the Chair. Halsbury^ definition of the relevant section of the Constitution also supports that ruling. I find, further, that in the 12th Parliament the Chairman of Committees, the late Mr. McGrath, gave a like ruling when the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) and the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) desired to move an amendment on lines similar to that of the honorable member for West Sydney.
– It was very different.
– It was on exactly the same point - the purpose of the appropriation. The honorable member for Swan objected to the appropriation being for purposes connected with shale oil, and desired to have it devoted to assistance to the gold-mining industry. The ruling of the Chair on that occasion was in keeping with what is now being done.
– Both -rulings are wrong.
– -That may be the honorable gentleman’s opinion. I might wish that to be the case. But if we are to conduct the business of this Parliament in accordance with the Standing Orders and the procedure laid down for our guidance by the authorities, it seems to me that there is no alternative but to accept the ruling of the Chair,
– Is there any authority other than that of the late Mr. McGrath?
– There is the authority of the Constitution, and that given in Halsbury’s Laws of England. Support is also furnished by May’s Parliamentary Practice, at page 562. I regret that the position should be such as it. is, but the matter is beyond our control until we make the Standing Orders fit the situation as we wish it to be.
– I think that upon questions of this sort we should be guided, not by what we think ought to be, but by what we think is, the position. In my opinion, the ruling which has been given clearly is a right one. I do not base my opinion so much on the Constitution, because I consider that the relevant section is capable of a different construction. The history of that section shows that at one stage it was proposed to insert the word “first” before the word “ recommended “. That word was deleted, and it was suggested that section 56 would be sufficiently complied with if the recommendation came at any time before the appropriation was finally voted. What I am guided by is the fact that where our Standing Orders are silent we follow the practice of the House of Commons. In this matter the practice of the House of Commons is definite. I refer to volume 21 of Halsbury’s Laws of England, page 773, paragraph1450. This portion of the work deals with Parliament, and was contributed by the Eight Honorable the Earl of Halsbury; Sir Henry J. L. Graham, Clerk of the Parliaments; and Cuthbert Headlam, Clerk of Public Bills in the House of Lords; assisted by T. Lonsdale Webster, Second Clerk Assistant of the House of Commons. Dealing with resolutions in Committee of Supply, it says - It is not in order, however, for a member to’ propose an amendment which, if carried, would either increase in amount the sum which has been demanded or would alter the object for which it is intended.
That the purpose of the proposed amendment is to alter the objects of the appropriation is quite clear. The objects are those set out in the motion, and “for other purposes “. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) proposes to delete the words “ for other purposes”, and to narrow down that general statement to the single purpose of unemployment relief. It seems to me that that conflicts with the English practice, which is very clearly laid down in the work from which I have quoted, and is dealt with in more detail in Sir Erskine May’s Parliamentary Practice, 10th edition, page581.
Question - That the motion (dissent) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman- Mr. Prowse.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved inthe affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution reported; report adopted.
That Mr. Casey and Dr. Earle Page do prepare and bring in a bill to carry outthe foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Casey, and read a first time.
.- I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this measure is to authorize the borrowing of a net amount of £5,000,000 to provide employment, and to grant relief and assistance to rural industries. The total sum mentioned in the bill is £5,050,000, the additional £50,000 being the normal sum that is added to provide for discounts and the expenses of borrowing. This £5,000,000 is additional to the £1,000,000 for the appropriation of which a bill has already been passed, dealing with postal works. The reason why the measure is in its present form is that the Government is not yet in a position to place before Parliament full particulars of the works and other purposes for which it is proposed that this sum of £5,000,000 should he expended. The bill appropriates only £200,000, that being the amount set out in the schedule for telephone exchange services and trunk line services. That expenditure is required in the near future because of the fairly rapid extension of the demand for these facilities. As to the remaining amount of £4,800,000, the House will be asked later, in an appropriation bill or bills, to give the Government authority to spend that sum for purposes to be specified.
Regarding works for the relief of unemployment “ and other purposes, I think honorable members are aware that the Government is actively searching its own departments, and is now in active collaboration with the State governments, to decide upon works of an appropriate character, .particulars of which will be brought before the House at a later date. In the meantime, parliamentary approval for the raising of the £5,000,000 is necessary to enable a loan to be floated on the Australian market at an early date. It is hoped, for these reasons, that the House will pass this measure without undue debate, because full opportunity will be presented later, when the various appropriation bills are brought forward, for discussion of the actual works to be undertaken. The -term3 and conditions of the loan will be fixed by the GovernorGeneral in Council before it is floated. As honorable members know, this matter has been the subject of a good deal of discussion by the Loan Council in recent weeks, and it is hoped that a favorable rate will be obtained.
– Can the Minister indicate what the rate of interest will be?
– The Loan Council has had many discussions on the subject, and it was left in my hands, as chairman, to finalize the actual rates with the authorities concerned. Although it is not directly relative to this bill, it is not inappropriate to inform honorable members of the terms on which it is proposed to raise this loan. I think they are the most favorable that have been obtained in Australia for almost a generation. The rate is 3 per cent., at £99 15s., which means a net yield to the investor, on a fourteen years’ loan, of £3 0s. 5d. per cent. I think the House must find itself in agreement with a loan issued at that price.
– I do not intend to delay the passage of this bill, because I am anxious that something should be done for the relief of the unemployed, even if I do not agree entirely with the method adopted. It is extraordinary, however, that we are asked to pass a bill authorizing the floating of a loan of £5,000,000 when we have no indication as to how the money is to be expended, with the exception of the £200,000 mentioned in the schedule. The Government is not treating this Parliament as a responsible body. It may not be possible for the new Ministry to present a complete schedule of the actual works to be carried out, but one would expect the Minister to indicate the nature of the major works to be undertaken or the class of work likely to be done. We are asked to vote blindly for the raising of £5,000,000 without the slightest indication as to how the hulk of it is to be spent. We merely know that £200,000 is to be used for telephone exchange services and trunk line services, which I assume are the ordinary developmental works of the Post Office, and to which I take no exception. I gather from the Minister’s speech that the terms of the loan were left for him to decide finally. He indicated at the conclusion of his remarks that the interest rate would be 3 per cent., and that the loan was to be issued at £99 15s. Although I do not think I may be regarded as a crank - a term which is often applied to those who take a different view of the monetary problem from that which has been followed for many years - I am quite convinced, from my observation and the information that I have been able to gather on the subject, that there is sufficient credit available in this country for the Government to utilize, through its own instrument, the Commonwealth Bank, and that the cost would be very much lower than that involved in the method now proposed of raising the money. I do not say that we could go to unlimited lengths in this direction, but we could go to a much greater extent than this loan, of £5,000,000. Credit and money may have been scarce in Australia some time ago, but it is only necessary to read the reports of banking and other financial institutions to realize that to-day large amounts of money are lying idle. With a very slight amendment of the Commonwealth Bank Act the Commonwealth Bank would be able to do much more effective work in providing credit than it is doing to-day, and at a much lower cost to the taxpayers. However, the Government has decided to adopt this method, and although I think it is the wrong method, I am not prepared, at the moment, to oppose it, for I am desirous that something shall be done without delay to assist the unemployed. We have bad three years of inaction by this Government and I am pleased that at last it is showing some inclination to make a move. But surely this Parliament will not continue indefinitely to tolerate the kind of treatment that is being meted out to it. It is entirely unfair that measures of this description should be thrown on the table with such scanty information. After all, we have certain responsibilities in the authorization of such loans and we are entitled to more information than we are getting. It is true, as the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has said, that a schedule will be submitted to Parliament before the money raised can be appropriated; but the money will then have been raised by public subscription, and if Parliament refuses to appropriate it for the works proposed we shall be in a queer position. It would, of course, be impracticable to return the money to the subscribers. It is therefore only reasonable that the Government should at this stage of bills of this character, give honorable members a general idea of the purposes for which the money is desired.
– The Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) occupied exactly seven minutes in explaining the purposes of thisbill to the House, although I suppose the objects for which the money is being raised were discussed for several hours at the Loan Council meeting. This thought therefore arises: that Parliament is being unjustly treated in these matters. On the two or three days that Parliament met prior to last week endeavours were made by honorable members to ascertain exactly what occurred at the Loan Council meeting, but such efforts were unsuccessful. We should like to know now how the Loan Council arrived at the decision to authorize the raising of this money, and still more should we like to know the works which the Loan Council decided should be put in hand with the money. What exactly happens at these Loan Council meetings ? Is this Parliament to be for ever dragged along at the heels of State Premiers, or is it to be treated as a deliberative body ? Apparently the Assistant Treasurer and the Premiers consider all the needs of the case are served if they decide upon a certain policy at the Loan Council meetings and then throw on the tables of their respective parliaments a bill or bills providing for the expenditure of certain moneys, and request the passage of them in a half hour or so with practically no discussion. I, at any rate, am not satisfied with that procedure. Honorable members are supposed to represent their constituents and to watch carefully the expenditure of public moneys. Presumably we have ideas of our own on these subjects or we should not be here. I therefore submit that it is totally unfair for the Assistant Treasurer, after spending a mere seven minutes in explaining a bill for the loan of £5,000,000, to ask honorable members to pass it practically without debate. I want more information about the discussions that occurred at the Loan Council. I do not suppose that verbatim notes were taken. In fact I understand that the doors leading to the meeting room were locked and the knobs taken off them to ensure that no one should obtain entrance. It seems that we are gradually developing a procedure which will debar even members of Parliament from any real knowledge of the affairs of the country. Apparently because the Government or the Loan Council says that a certain sum of money is to be raised, and unemployment is mentioned, we are expected to agree to the proposal without obtaining information or without being given the right to determine as to whether or not the amount for relief of unemployment is adequate. I wish to make it quite clear that I do not intend to continue for an unlimited time to act in conformity with that suggestion. If that procedure is to be persevered with we may as well save the expense of meeting in this formal way, and conduct all our business by correspondence.
– This bill is to provide for the raising of £5,000,000, to enable the Commonwealth to take a proportion of the £15,000,000 loan approved by the Loan Council.
– I can refer only to the £5,000,000. If I went further I might be called to order for discussing a proposal that is not before the chair. The only information we have that a loan of £15,000,000 is to be floated has been gleaned from the newspapers. It seems that the press has more information on this subject than Parliament itself. One or two of us may not be able to alter that situation, but I feel sure that honorable members generally will sooner or later offer a vigorous protest against this procedure. Probably if honorable members who support the Government were free to say what they feel they would support my view.
– A new Commonwealth Government has been formed since the meeting of the Loan Council.
– That is so; but the Assistant Treasurer has not offered that excuse for his failure to provide us with the adequate information. Possibly there will be another change of government before long. Changes are so rapid in these days. But that only makes it all the more necessary for Parliament to be provided with full information of proposed expenditure. One thing the Assistant Treasurer did tell us was that there was need for a survey of the position. If that is so, it discloses the incapacity of the Government. I cannot believe that members of the Cabinet do not know how they intend to allocate this money. They must know, otherwise they should not occupy the positions they now hold, and if they know, Parliament is entitled to share in the knowledge. Very little information has been given to us about the terms of the loan. Is it to be a tax-free loan of the class to which great exception has been taken previously? Such loans favour the privileged few who invest in gilt-edged securities. How different is their position from that of those who are prepared to invest their money in industries of this country and in so doing incurring considerable risk, more especially at the present time. Perhaps the Assistant Treasurer feels that we are not worthy of this information! The honorable gentleman also observed that active and searching inquiry was to be made in the various departments. “Well, it is something to know that an active inquiry is to be made. But such inquiries have been made during the last four years, and I am sure that ample information is available in the various departments respecting public works that could be put in hand immediately. Inquiries of this kind were made during my ministerial days, and I have no doubt that the reports then prepared are still available. The heads of the various departments could easily supply the Government with a list of necessary works upon which this money could be expended, and there need be no delay whatever in that regard.
It has been said that some of this money is to be spent to relieve certain primary industries. Which primary industries are to benefit? I shall not touch the wheat industry at the moment, but I remind the Assistant Treasurer that a deputation representing citrus-growers waited upon the Government recently and requested immediate assistance. Certain promises were made to those men. Is part of this money to be used to grant them relief? This subject must have been discussed by the Government.
I am not prepared indefinitely to accept the method of the Government of sheltering behind the unemployed or lack of time as an excuse for not giving the Parliament the fullest details regarding expenditure of this nature. It is not fair that we should be asked torush this bill through the House, for if Parliament had sat for the usual sitting days of last week adequate opportunity would have been provided for a full discussion of the subject. Despite what the Leader of the Opposition has said about the necessity for providing money to relieve unemployment, I insist that the time has arrived when the Government should furnish honorable members with full particulars of the works that are to be put in hand. I notice that £50,000 is put down as the cost of floating this loan of £5,000,000.
– It will not necessarily cost that much.
– The Assistant Treasurer himself gave that figure and v,re must accept it; but it will be hard for people who have been clamouring for work for years to accept quietly the statement that £50,000 is to be spent in floating a loan of which probably only £200,000 will be used for the immediate relief of unemployment. Apparently those who do least for the welfare of the country are- to reap a benefit altogether out of proportion to that which will come to those prepared to use their energy to develop our industries. It seems that the workers are to be used as mere pawns in the game. Will the Assistant Treasurer inform us whether this money is to be used to provide additional work prior to Christmas? I assume that that is the case.
– Not much of the £200,000 will be available for wages if extensive telephonic and telegraphic equipment have to be purchased.
– That is so. Poles, wire, insulators and other equipment of that nature are expensive. When the £200,000 is spread over the whole of the Commonwealth, I do not think that it will provide ls. a head for all those who need special assistance before Christmas. 1 suppose other honorable members have had the same experience, but since the Loan Council met a little while ago, I have been besieged with inquiries regarding what the Government proposes to do by way of relief between now and Christmas. Every week-end I have had numerous interviews on this subject, and I have held out some little hope to inquirers, because I understood from the replies received to questions which I asked in the House that the Government meant to make some special provision for the unemployed. The Prime Minister stated in his policy speech that unemployment had ceased to be a matter with which the States alone were concerned, and that it had ‘become the direct concern of the Commonwealth. He said that a special Minister would be appointed to deal with the problem, but we find that the special Minister is well on the back benches. I understand that a sum of £200,000 is to be spent on unemployment relief before Christmas. At least we should be told how it is to be allocated among the States. Is it to be shared among those now out of work, or is it to be devoted to keeping those already in the service fully employed ? No doubt the Postal Department has a list of works that need to be done. Members of my party in this House who represent country constituencies are interested in postal expenditure, and are anxious to know what extra postal facilities are to be provided. Moreover, we wish to be assured that whatever work is done shall be done a! award rates, and under award conditions. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. ‘Scullin) that the Assistant Treasurer treated the House with little consideration when he introduced this measure. We do not feel disposed1 to accept his bald statements on the plea that it is necessary to get the bill through immediately. Parliament has recently been in recess for nearly a fortnight when it could quite well have been meeting, and then there would have been plenty of time to go into these and other matters. We mean to probe the matter as carefully as we can, and we hope that the Minister will, at a later stage, supply the information for which we have asked.
– Like other honorable members, I am disappointed at the lack of information furnished by the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey). All honorable members, I think, are anxious that as much work as possible should he provided for the unemployed before Christmas, and we are placed in a false position through being forced into the appearance of obstructing the Government’s proposals, but we really should have been furnished with fuller information. A few weeks ago, the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) said that the time had arrived when new methods would have to be applied by the Government to the new circumstances which had arisen, and I hoped, when it was announced that the Government proposed to take measures for the relief of unemployment, that we should see some of those new methods in operation. I hoped that the Commonwealth Government would itself undertake unemployment relief, that it would raise and expend the money itself instead of merely handing it over to the States. Above all, I hoped that the old method of public borrowing from private institutions would be abandoned. All the information at our disposal is that this sum of £5,000,000 is to be raised to defray the cost of borrowing, and for other purposes. If it is proposed to raise a sum of £15,000,000 with a currency of fourteen years, £5,000,000 will hardly be sufficient to pay the cost of brokerage and other charges associated with the loan. The last loan of £12,000,000 was raised for fourteen years, and it cost the Government £5,600,000 to borrow the £12,000,000. How are we to know that the bulk of this present loan will not be devoted to paying the cost of the previous one? How much of this £5,000,000, or of the £15,000,000 if it is ever raised, will be devoted actually to providing work for the unemployed ? When is the old policy of bolstering up the privileges of private enterprise to be abandoned? This Government has no patriotism - certainly no political or State patriotism. It continues to bestow its patronage on private financial institutions so that they can draw back for their own profit £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 out of a loan of £15,000,000. Why not give this £5.000,000, if we must pay it, to our own Commonwealth Bank?
– Which £5,000,000?
– The £5,600,000 which the Assistant Treasurer said was the cost of raising the last loan of £12,000,000. I am, of course, including interest payments.
– It will cost at least as much to raise a further loan of £15,000,000. I do not blame the people who make the charge, and the Government is deserving of some thanks for having recently reduced the cost of servicing its loans ; but why do the business at all with private institutions when we have our own Commonwealth Bank which could provide the accommodation? Even if the Commonwealth Bank charged the same rate of interest at least the £5,600,000, or its equivalent in respect of any other loan, would come back into revenue, and would thus be available for providing still further services and employment. It is time the Government turned over a new leaf. It is time it stopped telling other people that they lack patriotism, and exhibited a little of that virtue themselves. There is no hope in this present bill at all, but we must accept the crumbs that are thrown to the unemployed because otherwise we should get nothing. It is surely time that Parliament directed the Loan Council not to spend millions of pound* every year in paying brokerage and interest for the raising of money from private sources when that money could be supplied . by the Commonwealth Bank. The Assistant Treasurer knows quite well that the Commonwealth Bank could provide this accommodation if it were asked to do so, or if it were given power to do so; but the parties in power do not want the Commonwealth Bank to function in this way. Without attempting to impute improper motives to any one, I suggest that most of this £15,000,000 that is to be raised will eventually go towards paying brokerage and interest on this loan, and on the last loan of £12,000,000. The reason that this Government and previous governments have failed to make any impression on the unemployment problem is that practically all the wealth we produce collectively has been squeezed out of us in order to pay interest on the money borrowed from private institutions. Every new loan that is raised is devoted largely to paying the costs of the old loans, and we never break any new ground. The Government should put a stop to this, and allow the Commonwealth Bank to perform its proper function in the community. The Commonwealth Bank is one of the greatest banks in the British Empire, the only one in Australia that stood the strain during the war. Yet now, in peace times, when the private banks are once more able to carry on, the Government is giving to them the business which it should give to its own bank, and allowing them to earn the profits which should belong to the community as a whole and should be used to create employment. So long as the Government persists in its policy of regarding private financial institutions as sacrosanct, and goes on borrowing new money to pay old debts, it will never solve the problem of unemployment, and our public debt will continue to grow alarmingly.
.- I do not desire to criticize the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) for his brevity, because I believe that any one who sets aa example of brevity in this House is deserving of praise. The AssistantTreasurer deserves the thanks of the Rouse for the brevity and clarity which he usually displays when he introduces a bill into this House. But I should like to ask him in his reply to this debate to take the House a little more into his confidence.
– He was not too clear on this occasion.
– There are exceptions which prove every rule. I can quite appreciate that it is not always possible for a Minister to have in clear outline the whole of the details of the manner in which it is proposed to expend money. If the programme of public works upon which this money is to be spent has not yet been drawn up, perhaps1 the AssistantTreasurer can explain to the House why there is necessity for great haste to pass this bill. When the programme of proposed works is placed before the House I am sure it will very readily pass the measure, but it is not right to expect the House to pass it at such short notice without more definite information.
.- The opinions expressed during this debate that the whole of the financing of governmental requirements in this country could be done by the Commonwealth Bank, make one hopeful that a radical change may be effected in the present stupid system of governmental finance. How long can this country go on borrowing money at high rates of interest and at high flotation costs? The report of the Auditor-General for the last financial year shows that of £82,000,000 collected in taxation by the Australian governments, £63,000,000 was utilized in the payment of interest and debt charges. And yet we allow these charges to mount up and refuse to face up to the position that for years we have been bankrupt, merely borrowing money to pay interest and other charges. Since 1927 the Commonwealth and the States have been borrowing money to meet treasury-bills, and interest bills, and of the £5,000,000 proposed to be raised under this measure, not one penny will be allocated to the relief of unemployment. The sum of £200,000 provided in this bill for works is merely for ordinary construction work in the postal department, most of which will go to technicians and tradesmen who, if not already permanently employed, are at least working part or full time. But not one penny of it will find its way into the pockets of the unemployed outside of the postal department. The Assistant Treasurer says that the money will be allocated later on and that honorable members will be given the details of the proposed allocation. But is this not rather like putting the cart before the horse? The loan will not be floated until tomorrow, and as the bill will be passed to-night, the plea for haste does not hold water. If we had the courage to alter the monetary laws of this country the Commonwealth Bank could provide £50,000,000 if necessary and could make the money available to the Government free of interest. But even if the Commonwealth Bank were called upon to provide only £5,000,000, a saving of £50,000 in flotation costs alone could be made. There is no necessity for the Commonwealth Bank to charge interest on government loans, and the interest rate of 3 per cent, could be placed in a sinking fund to redeem the loan within 33 years. Although I do not attempt to prophesy, we are reaching a stage at which a crash will inevitably result, and civilization will be doomed. How much longer we can go on at this rate is not a matter of opinion, hut is simply an arithmetical calculation. The Assistant Treasurer, who himself is a business man, knows that this is so. I ask him, if he were chairman of directors of a bank or in control of one of the financial institutions of the country, how long he would tolerate a customer who borrowed money from his concern in order to pay interest upon what he already owed. Yet that is what the Commonwealth and the States have been doing for many years past. When honorable members on this side of the House made that statement a few years ago they were termed “ cranks “, but the country has already begun to realize that they were right. I cannot recollect a bill having been brought before the House and so little information given in connexion with it., It seems, when Ministers tell us that if we are not prepared to pass a measure the workless will get nothing, that the Government is trying to take advantage of the necessitous condition of the people to put something over them. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) said that the workless will not get a shilling of this money. I say that they will get not one penny. If they were given the whole £200,000 it would not be a gift; they would have to work for what they got. Why, spread the £5,000,000 over the Commonwealth for the unemployed in this country, including their wives, children and dependants, per capita, it would not amount to very much. Perhaps right at the end of the session, when honorable members are anxious to get away to their homes for Christmas, there will be an all-night Bitting, and a measure will be passed hurriedly which will provide nothing for the unemployed. Who is to get £50,000 for advertising? Is it intended that the great metropolitan organs which preach so glibly about reconstruction and the necessity to water down costs, the daily papers, shall receive a present of £50,000 from the Treasurer of the Commonwealth? The only compensation I derive from that is that the Labor Daily may get its share. But £50,000 is 1 per cent, of £5,000,000 and is far too much. The Commonwealth Bank could provide this money without any risk whatever. After all, governmental loans are floated upon the security of the national wealth of the country.
– But the people may easily change their minds as to its value.
– That security is quite sufficient behind the credit in the Commonwealth Bank, as behind the credit written on a bond. The Commonwealth Bank, by a simple amendment of the act, could be protected against any concerted run upon its funds as happen od in the case of the Government Sav ings Bank of New South Wales. And the only limit to be placed upon the amount of credit to be issued, is the necessity of the governments of the Commonwealth and the States. A great deal of discussion has gone on in this Parliament in regard to the need for rehabilitating primary industries, and unemployment has been regarded as something almost divorced from that subject. Recently the meat question has been under consideration. We are mainly concerned as to whether the English people will eat our meat, while there are tens and hundreds of thousands of people in this country who cannot even purchase Australian meat. If these people were earning there would be no market problem for our meat. The same can be said for the wheat industry. Everybody seems to be concerned about everybody else getting Australian commodities, while the huge market of our own in Australia is forgotten.
– I should like to know where the market is?
– Does the honorable member say that there is nobody in Australia in need of food? As the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) has said, this measure is merely a throwing of crumbs. I am disappointed in this bill. It was thought that some credence could be given to the rumours that at least some specific sum would be definitely provided for the unemployed before Christmas. The lack of specific proposals shows definitely and clearly that the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) showed some prescience when he moved an amendment designed to ensure that the money would be earmarked for the unemployed. If the Government intends to make available a specific sum, I hope that the Assistant Treasurer will indicate what it is likely to be, and how it is to be allocated. I trust that he will not contend that it is this £200,000.
The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) wanted to know where there is a market in Australia for our meat. Apparently the honorable member has forgotten that the proudest boast a year or so ago of the Premier of the State from which he comes was that it had the greatest amount of unemployment and the lowest wage rate in the Commonwealth.
.- In the course of a debate which took place earlier in the life of this Parliament, I expressed the hope that a short statement would be made elaborating ministerial intentions, and contributing to my better comprehension of the measures which the Government proposed to bring forward from time to time. That statement has not been made, and its absence greatly embarrasses me in the consideration of this particular bill, the purpose of which is to raise £5,000,000 plus the cost of raising that sum. The hypothecation of the money deals only with an infinitesimal item for works in connexion with postal and telephonic services. I feel that there are two problems to be faced : First, how best oan money be raised for the requirements of Australian governments, and of this Government in particular; and, secondly, what is the best use that this Government can make of the moneys that it thus raises. Apparently the Government is not in a position to formulate works projects under the direct supervision of its own Ministers. I am not at all surprised at that, because, during the last three years, the Commonwealth has deliberately abstained from any direct contribution towards the organization of employment, and relied upon reductions of taxation and other devices to stimulate private enterprise. In the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) it was definitely declared that an obligation rested upon this Parliament, and upon the Government, to assist in the organization of employment. In view of the circumstances that exist at the moment - the urgency of something being done, and the obvious difficulty which confronts the Commonwealth in giving proper attention to this matter - I suggest that the whole of the money which it is proposed to raise, less the £200,000, should be at once allocated to the governments of the States, so that they may give effect to programmes which they have already formulated, which are in various stages of completion, and which, in fact, are not being economically carried out because of the embarrassments under which the States labour in doing their utmost to promote employment without possessing the requisite financial resources to contemplate a long-range programme. We all know that for the last three years the momentum of employment in this country has been divided between the governments of the States and private enterprise. It appears to me that it would be unwise for this Government to intrude upon that momentum, despite its declaration of policy, until it has first given proper and comprehensive consideration to the elaboration of a long-term programme; because, if I understand the history of such activities, a short-term programme of public works is wasteful, being primarily dictated by the necessities of the unemployed and limited - as has been the case in the last three years - by inadequate financial resources. A great deal of the work which has been done, and most certainly of the capital which has been expended, is not capable of earning the charges normally imposed upon it. Thus we have the spectacle that during the last three years the relationship of the revenues of the States to the total interest charges that they have had to meet has become entirely disproportioned Ten years ago, it could be said that the burden which unearned interest imposed upon State governments was but a small proportion of the total, and that there was always available a very large quantum of taxation for the maintenance of the social services which the States had to provide. The present position is that the interest earned by instrumentalities of the States falls so far short of interest charges that the resultant demands upon taxation are so large as to furnish a complete explanation of the extraordinary deficits which the States have suffered. Their difficulty has been increased by the obligation they have shouldered to organize employment, or, alternatively, to furnish sustenance to those for whom no work could be found. Obviously, the Commonwealth Government is unable to indicate the use which it proposes to make of the greater part of the £5,000,000 which it is intended to raise. May I say with very great respect that £5,000,000 is an infinitesimal contribution, considering the nature of the problem which we are contemplating. Therefore, this makeshift implementing of the Prime
Minister’s promise can most satisfactorily be discharged and most economically administered by giving the money to the States to permit of their more efficiently completing the works that they already have initiated, and which are in various stages of completion.
– And not spend it on relief works.
– It should not be spent on relief works. I put it to the House that the difficulties of the States - and I speak of all types of State governments - have imposed upon them a policy which in its very nature must be wasteful. Men are employed in occupations in which they have had no training and for which in many instances they have no physical fitness. Furthermore, the desire is to rotate employment, the result being that in nine cases out of ten the work is not satisfactorily performed, for the reason that men are employed for, say, six weeks, becoming more or less accustomed to the work in the fifth or sixth week, and are then stood down, a new batch of men who have been idle being then brought on. Thus the costs imposed upon the State are far higher than those estimated, and much greater than would be the case if there were continuity of employment, even of men recruited from other occupations. It will thus he seen that the failure of this Government and of this Parliament hitherto to play a definite part in the problem of employment from the point of view of the State as an organic entity has saddled the States, first with high interest charges, secondly with works that will not be entirely remunerative, and thirdly with a premature embarkation upon some schemes before the requisite technical preparations have been made. I venture to say to the Assistant Treasurer that the speed with which the Commonwealth will endeavour to get works going in order to bring down a schedule to this Parliament will be such that the requisite engineering and other technical preliminaries and! costing services, which ought to be an essential starting-off point in any policy of Commonwealth works, will not be properly performed. As that will involve considerable wastage of the money to be raised, I suggest to the Parliament that that money oan be used to the best advantage if it is allocated to the States.
I shall not trespass further upon the House. I was tempted to deal with the monetary aspect of the problem and with one or two other aspects. I believe that the Government is genuinely anxious to assist the unemployed this side of Christmas. But it has no agencies through which to conjure works out of thin air. The best that it can think of up to the moment is a schedule of telephonic services, which, as we all know, very largely involve the use of equipment and plant, the greater part of which is imported. I know of works in “Western Australia upon which the State Government would be glad to put more men quickly so that they might be completed at an earlier date. Perhaps by massing labour they might be made less costly in man power. I feel certain that other States are in the same plight. It seems to me, therefore, that we can cut the Gordian Knot which this bill presents to us, without committing the Parliament to a policy that might be wasteful, and without having to decide particularly at this juncture the general policy of the Commonwealth towards employment. The immediate need is to give the money to the States.
.- The seven minutes’ explanation of this bill given by the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has left me, as it has the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn), in the position that I know very little about the measure. In my opinion, if the £5,000,000 is to carry on the works policy of the Commonwealth Government up to Christmas, it will go some way towards relieving the unemployment position. But if it is to’ enable the Government to carry on until the end of next June, I am afraid that the failure to grapple with the problem will be as dismal during the next three years as it was during the last three years. We are within about six weeks of Christmas, and over 25 per cent, of our people have no prospect of obtaining employment. As a result of promises made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), they have been looking to this Government to provide funds for the relief of unemployment. In his policy speech, the
Prime Minister definitely informed the country that a Minister would be specially appointed to deal with the problem of unemployment. The first announcement in the press was that the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) would take charge of this department, but later the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Stewart) was selected for the work.
– The constitution of the Ministry is scarcely under consideration in connexion with this bill.
– This Minister who was to deal with unemployment and loan money has taken a seat on one of the back benches.
It seems to me that the Minister who is usually most successful in piloting measures through the House without a great deal of discussion is he who gives full information in moving the second readings; but I am afraid that the Assistant Treasurer has not greatly profited by his three years’ experience. Is this £5,000,000 to be distributed among the States for the relief of unemployment, or is it to be utilized wholly by the Commonwealth Government in carrying out its policy? The £200,000 allocated for. postal works would not be sufficient to meet the demands for improved postal or telephonic facilities in my electorate alone. Does the Government intend to incur further expenditure in the development of proposals emanating from the recent aerial survey of North Australia? I noticed in the press that the Ministry is inquiring into the practicability of providing a uniform railway gauge for Australia. A standard gauge line has been built from Kyogle to Brisbane, and about three years ago this Parliament authorized the construction of a similar line in South Australia from Port Augusta to Red Hill. Brisbane has long suffered from the lack of funds for much-needed sewerage works, so it is easily seen that there are numerous useful channels for the expenditure of money for the relief of unemployment.
.- I commend the Government upon .the introduction of this measure at the first opportunity since the formation of the new
Ministry. One of the great problems confronting us to-day is that of unemployment, and I am glad , to know that the Government intends to tackle it seriously. Yet with other honorable members I would have liked the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey), in introducing this bill, to give a great deal more information than he has supplied. He mentioned that the loan was to be issued at £99 15s., and that the rate would be 3 per cent. Upon that information he is to be cordially congratulated. It seems to me, however, that the Loan Council is exercising -too much power to-day, to the exclusion of the rights of this Parliament, which is supposed to be a deliberative assembly, and not one merely to ratify from time to time the decisions of another body. Surely the Minister could have given us some indication of the nature of the particular works to be put into operation.
I cannot let this opportunity pass without drawing attention to the need for carrying out the agreement entered into between South Australia and the Commonwealth Government when that State handed over the Northern Territory. It was agreed that the Commonwealth Government should build a line of railway from Oodnadatta to connect with the line running southward from Darwin. The line has been built to Alice Springs, but a distance of 570 miles still remains to be bridged. Here is a good opportunity to provide a considerable amount of useful employment, and I think the time is most opportune to proceed with that work. Great difficulties in the development of the pastoral and mining resources of the Northern Territory are experienced because of the lack of transport facilities, and the Commonwealth Government should hasten to carry out its contract with South Australia.
– The honorable member is going beyond the scope of the bill.
– When the north-south line is completed, the Queensland and New South Wales Governments can link up their railway systems with it. I support the raising of the loan of £5,000,000 at the present time, so that at least some relief may be afforded the unemployed at the Christmas season; but I should like more permanent relief to be provided.
.- To those of us who have been expecting a substantial contribution by the Government to the solution of the unemployment problem this bill will cause serious disappointment. It is totally inadequate to meet the pressing claim that thousands of our citizens have upon the Commonwealth Government to give effect to its promise to deal with unemployment as a permanent question of national policy. The schedule to this bill is surely a poor compliment to the House when itis realized that there are many ways in which useful work could be immediately provided, thus relieving the workless before Christmas. The bill indicates that very little will be attempted before the end of the year, and he would be a super-optimist who believed that the Government seriously intended to do much in the early part of the new year. The Government’s policy of procrastination makes us fear that it will again prove itself unable or unwilling to deal effectively with a very pressing problem, to the solution of which it has made but a paltry contribution in the schedule to this bill. As the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) indicated, the expenditure of £200,000 for trunk line and other telephonic services may not afford employment to a solitary person who is now out of work, as it means merely the carrying out of the ordinary works programme of the Postal Department. This House had a right to expect from the Government something in the nature of a comprehensive programme of public works, and an indication that an early start on it would be made. Plenty of work is available, for the federal services have been starved for three or four years. The Government is not dealing with honorable members in a proper manner. The information supplied with this bill is inadequate and unsatisfactory. The honorable member for Boothy (Mr. Price) referred to the necessity for the completion of the North-South line. He might have made his appeal more effective by reminding the Government that the sleepers and rails necessary for this work are already at Pine Creek.
– And so are the men.
– I could supply all the men from the unemployed in my own district. The honorable member might also have directed the attention of the Government to the necessity for taking immediate action to remedy the damage done by flood waters in his own electorate within the last fortnight or so. I have no doubt that he unintentionally overlooked this necessary work. Other work that could be put in hand includes the ballasting and renewing of sleepers on the East- West railway which a previous Minister for the Interior acknowledged to be an urgent work. If I were to direct attention to our postal services and other Commonwealth activities, I could outline numerous reproductive works that could be put in hand without delay to the lasting benefit of the Commonwealth. If money were expended in these directions we should be pleased. It is time we ceased pouring money down the sink, yet that is what is being done at present, in many instances. Much of our unemployed relief work is useless to the authority which puts it in hand, and unsatisfactory to the men who do it. In some cases unemployed relief works are being used as a means to undermine the wage standards of the people, and we protest against this procedure. We should be seeking efficiency in every direction.
I strongly disapprove of the method which the Government proposes to adopt in raising this money. Australia, and all other countries which have pursued this method of finance in the past, have suffered for it. The depression was caused because of the huge sums of money that had to be withdrawn from industry to meet interest payments. I regret to say, however, that even so unprecedented a crisis as that will be experienced again unless we return to methods of financial sanity that will ensure financial stability. The Government should utilize the national credit, through the national bank, to provide this money. It is of no use to say that that cannot he done, for it has already been done. The East-West railway and certain other public works that could be specified are monuments to the effectiveness of the procedure. When the East- West railway was finished, we owed money only to ourselves, and in the course of years we were able to retire our indebtedness by credits that became available through the national exchequer. The financial methods which the Government is now adopting are unsound, and will undoubtedly add to the tremendous millstone already secured around the neck of the Australian citizen. We have been told to-night that £60,000,000 of the £86,000,000 that is collected annually in revenue from the people of Australia is expended in the payment of interest and other recurring charges contingent upon our capital indebtedness. Surely these figures are staggering and point to the inevitable result of such financing. Let us use the credit of the nation and be free from the entanglements of ‘ the present loan methods. I ask the Assistant Treasurer to give us more information about tho works on which the Government proposes to expend this money. The seven and a half minutes which he occupied in explaining the purposes of this bill were entirely inadequate for the purpose. This Parliament has obligations in regard to the Government’s financial commitments, and it should be given a much more comprehensive statement concerning this bill than that which the Assistant Treasurer has so far made.
.- Prior to becoming a member of this Parliament I had formed the idea that it was merely a registration body for some other authority. That has been confirmed by what has happened here to-night. I am surprised that a responsible’ Minister should ask Parliament to approve of a loan of £5,050,000 on such scanty information as that which has been supplied with this bill. The Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies), the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White), and the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey), at an earlier stage of our proceedings to-day, said that they stood for parliamentary control; but they are now associated in the kind of proposal which, if persisted in for very long, will ultimately destroy parliamentary government.
– They are obeying the “ inner group. “
– Yes ; the Loan Council, which is evidently spon soring this bill, is a kind of inner group which is determining the policy of Austraiian governments. The Assistant Treasurer evidently thinks that all reasonable requirements are served if he comes here and says “We want this money. We shall not tell you what it is wanted for; but we have agreed that it must be raised”. The Government should have submitted to us. some planned economy, some general lines of reconstruction, and some policy which would justify the attention of tho people of this country; but it has not done so. I have been surprised that the so-called representatives of the farmers in this House have had nothing to say about this bill. Their silence confirms me in my belief that they are merely farming the farmers. The wheat-growers of Australia require help before Christmas, for they are confronted with a serious situation in regard to their coming crop ; but their representatives in this Parliament have had nothing whatever to say on the subject.
The Assistant Treasurer has told us that this loan is to be raised at the cheap rate of 3 per cent., in round figures; but I am sure that if the Government floated the loan at 2 per cent, it would obtain all the money it needs. In Great Britain a loan floated at 1-i per cent, was oversubscribed in twelve hours. Why? Because the perilous economic condition which faces the country makes government securities the only guaranteed, securities. That is also true of Australia.
– Was the British loan for a period of fourteen years?
– Yes, for fourteen years.
– At 1^ per cent. ?
– Yes, and it was possible because government loans offer the best security available at the present time. Similarly, in this country, it is impossible to find profitable investment in wheat or wool, or in the secondary industries. The only sound investment is in government securities. That is why the rate of interest has fallen from 6 per cent, to 3 per cent. A few years ago members of the Government party and the Country party scouted the idea that money could ever be obtained at 3 per cent. When the Leader of the Labour Government in New South Wales suggested that money might be had at 3 per cent, the press of the country said that it was a sacrilege even to propose such a thing. Now, the Assistant Treasurer informs us that the rate of interest will fall even lower than 3 per cent. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) made out a very good case in favour of government borrowing from the Commonwealth Bank, and the Assistant Treasurer will be hard put to it to dispose of that argument., The soundest financial institution in Australia to-day is the Commonwealth Bank. There are a few others such as the Bank of New South Wales, the Commercial Bank and the Bank of Australasia that are fairly solid, but the Commonwealth Bank is the most secure of all. Every penny of the £15,000,000 which is to be raised could be obtained from the Commonwealth Bank at- 1$ per cent, interest. Part of this money is to be devoted to assisting farmers who are overburdened with debt. Surely they would prefer it to be raised from the Commonwealth Bank at 1£ per cent, than at twice that rate from the Shylocks. Under a law recently passed by this Parliament the Commonwealth Bank has become the bankers’ bank; it is the prop which supports the private banking institutions; yet it is passed over at this time so that the private banks and the insurance companies may reap profits out of this loan. About £6,000,000 will be required to pay interest and brokerage charges on this loan of £15,000,000 over a period of fourteen years. Surely a part of that could well be devoted to assisting tho farmers and the secondary industries. The Government promised to do wonderful things for the unemployed, and was going to appoint a special Cabinet Minister to administer unemployment relief measures. We find, however, that no sooner was the coalition with the Country party formed than the only man who knew anything about the unemployment problem was relegated to the back benches. I refer to the ex-Minister for Commerce (Mr. Stewart), who is now to be called an under-secretary. Because the ex-Minister for Commerce actually suggested that the number of working hours should be reduced, the Country party saw to it that there should be no place for him in the Ministry.
– He was a sweater.
– No ; he was not. He understood the psychology of the workers, and also understood that, with the introduction of machinery the number of working hours would have to be reduced. This loan is part of the process of robbing Peter to pay Paul. The Government is raising a new loan to pay off an old one, and the last position will be worse than the first. Ministers appealed to honorable members on this side of the House to join with them in overcoming the problem of unemployment. They said that they desired to rehabilitate the country, and that they had evolved a scheme, a system of planned economy. But their plan seems to be so obscure that even their own supporters do not know what it means. All they know ia that part of a sum of £200,000 is to be spent in the Cook electorate on the provision of an automatic telephone exchange. The Government, by refusing to give information on this matter, has confirmed my impression that it is no wonder that parliamentary institutions^
– The honorable member will not be in order in reflecting on parliamentary institutions.
– I was merely about to say’ that, as the Government declines to give any information to Parliament, the only conclusion to which we can come is that Parliament has ceased to be a deliberative body, and has become merely a registering body for what is decided upon somewhere else by some inner group which is not operating in the best interests of this country. That inner group knows no country, is of no clime, and of no colour. It is international in character, and where it can make profits will do so. It is making profits now at the expense of the farmers, the manufacturers and the workers of this country, and yet the Government ia carrying on with the same old policy in the same old way.
.- The Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) in the course of his brief and uninformative opening remarks, held out as bait, in order to secure the support of the Opposition, a promise that some of the money which it is proposed to raise will be spent on the relief of unemployment. Are we to understand that the expenditure of £200,000 by the Postal Department for automatic exchanges and telephone trunk services is all that is being done in the way of unemployment relief between now and Christmas? The Minister, by way of interjection, stated that eventually an amount of £15,000,000 was to be raised, and that part of this was to be devoted towards the assistance of primary producers. Much has been said about the debts of the primary producers, and their need for relief. I do not favour the granting of relief to primary producers in regard to their debts by making loan money available to them. The only effect of that would be to transfer the load from one set of shoulders to another, and the second set of shoulders in this case would be those of the workers.
The Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) told us a few weeks ago that the Government proposed to adopt new methods to meet newly-arisen circumstances, but it is now evident that it proposes to stick to the old ways that have landed us in the trouble in which we are to-day.
It seems to me that the bankers are to have an opportunity to receive a further annual tribute from the people of this country. As other speakers have said, the Government’s policy has only accentuated the difficulty. As a matter of fact I am in disagreement with many speakers on this side of the House in that I am not favorable to the use of loan moneys to pay bounty to primary producers to allow them to continue in uneconomic production. We have been told that private enterprise provides the only opportunity for the economic salvation of this country. If private enterprise is to show us a way out it should do so by relying upon its own resources, not expecting the payment of bounty to enable it to continue in uneconomic production. The Minister has informed us that a plan is being prepared, but that at present he is not able to indicate what works will he carried out by the allocation of this money. If I remember correctly a similar statement was made by the Prime Minister at the opening of the last Parliament when the right honorable gentleman said that a sub-committee of Cabinet was preparing plans to tackle the problem of unemployment. Apparently all the Minister can say now is that further plans are being prepared. I do not know who is preparing them, but we should be told what is to be done to assist the unemployed. What is concerning the unemployed to-day in this country is not the estimated provision of work, but that they should get such a share of the work as will ensure that they receive the necessaries of life. If the Government is unable to provide works to be carded out with this money let it utilize the money to provide the unemployed with food, clothing and shelter. Men without work cannot go on waiting for the Government to devise some plan to place them in employment whilst they and their dependants are without the bare necessaries of life. The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) has stated his opinions with regard to the present functions of Parliament and exactly what services we render to the community. As a matter of fact the opinions which I held before I entered this Parliament are confirmed by my experience as a member of it. We have a kind of cloaked dictatorship, and members of this Parliament are only regimenting decisions arrived at elsewhere. I believe that not one honorable member sitting opposite really desires to assist the unemployed. The only time that anti-Labour members ever give consideration to the plight of the unemployed is when the numbers of these become so large that they constitute a menace and are liable to take the law into their own hands and possibly jeopardize the investments of the wealthy members of the community.
– Order !
– I am discussing the sincerity of honorable members opposite.
– Order I The sincerity of honorable members must not be questioned.
– I am discussing the motives of the Government and we have to use our imagination in this matter as little information is given in the bill and in the speech delivered by the Assistant Treasurer. The unemployed can only come to the conclusion that this measure has been brought forward by the Government for the purpose of deluding them into the belief that something tangible is to be done for them, whereas the money will be devoted to other purposes. Because of the reshuffle of Cabinet Ministers there is bound to be some delay, but I am satisfied that this Government will do nothing to assist the unemployed, and that no relief will be given until the unemployed make their pressure felt by letting Ministers know that their patience is almost exhausted. If the unemployed are compelled to take forcible action against the Government no .one could blame them. Members of Parliament view the position of unemployment from quite a different angle to those who are suffering from its effects. They have their Parliamentary allowances, and most honorable members on the other side of the House derive means from other sources.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman must confine himself to the bill.
– I am discussing whether the Government is doing anything to assist the unemployed. The unemployed are growing impatient. Members of Parliament are quite prepared to do everything to help themselves by increasing their allowances, but when it comes to dealing with the problems that confront this country they are not so ready to respond. They talk and waste a good deal of time.
– Order ! What may appear to the honorable member for East Sydney to be shortcomings cannot be discussed.
– I can appreciate the fact that free speech is very limited.
– The Minister may, if he thinks it desirable to do so, when replying to the utterances of honorable members, give the .House an indication of what this anti-Labour Government intends to do. In my electorate, as in others, the unemployed have banded themselves into various organizations. They have organized because they feel the necessity for it, and they are anxious to secure information. I do not intend to go to the unemployed organizations in my electorate and tell them to wait patiently, because the Government intends to assist them, if it really intends to do nothing for them. I want the Government to state exactly what its intentions are in regard to these unfortunate people.
.- I do not propose to delay the House at any length in voicing my remarks on this bill. As a new member, I am surprised to find that in bringing in a measure designed to raise over £5,000,000 so little information is supplied as to what is proposed to be done with the money. An amount of £200,000 is to be spent in the Postal Department on telephone exchanges and trunk line services, while £50,000 is to be spent in advertising and procuration fees. In other words, only four times as much money is to be provided for employment as is to go to the big capital interests. The unemployed are not likely to get a great deal of that sum, but, like the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan), I say that the whole of the money could be spent in my electorate. I have here a sheaf of letters dealing with applications which have been made for improved telephonic services throughout my electorate. People are writing to me demanding that improvements should be made in the services in their districts. A typical case is that of people who wish to speak from Cobar to Broken Hill 300 miles distant. In order to link up with Broken Hill they have to talk over wires via Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, and it is difficult at times with interruptions to know if they are connected with the right subscriber. No cross country lines have been provided. This is a very necessary public work, and if the Government is looking for avenues to absorb some of the unemployed these cross country telephone lines could be built thereby, encouraging people to live in the distant places. I have here a letter from Abbotsford Station, Ivanhoe, in the back-blocks of New South
Wales, in which the writer points out that the outback telephone service is obsolete. The writer goes on to say -
The matters of linking Broken Hill with Sydney along the existing railway poles so that all intermediate centres could avail is absolutely necessary as also linking Euriowie with Milparinka by using the old TarrowingieBroken Hill railway rails for telephone poles. Bringing the twenty odd subscribers now at Mossgiel direct on to Ivanhoe and making Ivanhoe a continuous service is an urgent essential.
I have another letter from the Country Women’s Association of New South Wales, the Far- West Group, at Nyngan, in which the writer states that at the Far-West Group conference of the Country Women’s Association held at Cobar tho following resolutions were carried : -
1 ) That th,e Postal Department be approached to extend the telephone communication from Barnato to Wilcannia.
The distance is about 100 miles, and there is a considerable amount of traffic between the two towns, but in that gap of 100 miles there is no telephone service. I suggest that the putting in hand of this work would be a sensible way of spending the money. In western New South. Wales, there are considerable difficulties in obtaining anything like a satisfactory telephone service. On occasions, one hears about ten voices on the line, and it is difficult to know which is the voice of the person to whom one is speaking. The country people demand a proper telephone service. This is Christmas relief work, for which £200,000 is being made available.
– A reference to a public work would he in order, but that can scarcely be said of the details of postal undertakings.
– The provision is not ample for the work that needs to be done. I could quote from quite a number of letters that I have received during the short period that I have been in this Parliament, to prove that there is great demand in the back parts of New South Wales for facilities of the kind covered by the bill. The provision of £200,000 is altogether inadequate. The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Stewart), who is in charge of employment, is looking for avenues in which money may be spent in giving relief. There are none better than those that I have indicated. The Government has stressed its preparedness to do more than it has previously done in the absorption of the unemployed. Works of a substantial nature could be undertaken immediately if the necessary finance were made available.
.- Like many honorable members who have preceded me, I, as a new member, am surprised at the lack of information imparted to honorable members by the Minister in charge of the bill. The pro-, vision of £200,000 for telephone and trunk line services will do little towards providing relief for the unemployed. During the recent election campaign the position of the boys who are leaving school was stressed, not alone by the party with which I am privileged to be associated, but also by every other party ; and the promise was universally made that action would be taken to make employment available for those who were completing their education throughout Australia. The Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has given -no indication as to how the money to be raised by this loan is to be spent. Even had he done so, the amount to be borrowed is so small that practically no relief will result from it. A few weeks ago 143,000 young men and women sat for the leaving certificate in New South Wales. Not 2 per cent, of those can be found employment to-day. That is one of the big problems that faces Australia, and the Government should have endeavoured to make some provision to meet it. I had hoped that before the festive season arrived the Government would have seen its way clear to restore the cut made in invalid and old-age pensions. Reproductive public works are awaiting attention throughout the Commonwealth. I was surprised to hear the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) say that in the city of Bris bane sewerage works ha ve still to be carried out. This Government should make money available to public bodies that control such undertakings, in order that employment might be given to those who are out of work. An honorable member who sits on my left asked to-night, “ Where are the thousands of people who are out of work in Australia?” Were he to visit my electorate, which contains 65,000 persons, he would find in it from 10,000 to 15,000 returned soldiers who are willing to work hut cannot obtain it. Those men did their job overseas faithfully and well, and it is the duty of the Government to see that remunerative employment is found for them. The dependants of those who went overseas are entitled to special consideration. While these men were absent from Australia they missed opportunities to make provision for their children, while others who built up fortunes during the war were enabled to do all that was necessary for their families. I hope that the Government will find not £5,000,000, but £50,000,000 for the provision of employment. Instead of devoting the sum of £50,000 to charges connected with the raising of the loan, the services of the Commonwealth Bank should be requisitioned for the raising, of the money. As the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) has pointed out, the credit of Australia stands as high to-day as that of any other country. I trust that the Government will bring down an amendment of the Commonwealth Bank Act, so that the credit of Australia may be utilized with the object of bringing some measure of prosperity to the people of this country.
.- I regret that the Government has brought forward such a miserably inadequate proposal. During the last election campaign the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), whose illness I deplore, and practically every honorable member opposite, said that they would accept a greater share of the responsibility for the unemployed. Yet what do we find? Although they were returned with a good working majority it has taken them two months to form a Ministry. The unemployed have been given no consideration, and will receive- none in the future. When the Loan Council met a couple of weeks ago the Premiers of the different States expected that a loan of at least £15,000,000 would be raised. The Assistant Treasurer has not stated whether this £5,000,000 is to be used for the purpose of relieving unemployment or to discharge other commitments. We have been told that it is necessary to get at the root of the evil of unemployment. I assure honorable members that that stage will not be reached by the raising of small loans. The leaders of the parties that sit opposite promised that at least £50,000,000 would be devoted to this most deserving object. Those who have lived and worked amongst the unemployed realize that the expenditure of at least £50,000,000 is necessary if Australia is to be rehabilitated. Any number of reproductive works could be put in hand throughout Australia. Employment could be found for every person who is out of work in Tasmania if money could be obtained at a reasonable rate of interest. Recently, a commencement was made with the development of the hydro- electric scheme in that State. Every horse-power of electricity generated was purchased, and orders were received from different companies for large blocks of power, but .money could not be obtained to undertake the necessary extensions. The Premier of Tasmania received from the Loan Council a small loan for which he has to pay a fairly high rate of interest, and that has a tendency to impede the work. The Commonwealth could safely lend to the Tasmanian Government what it needs, because some large companies have, signed contracts that would ensure a liberal rate of interest on the total sum involved in the construction work. Yet the Premier of the State has to go cap in hand to the Loan Council for funds to enable work of such a reproductive character to be undertaken. Hobart and adjoining towns have been short of water, and a large scheme has been formulated for the conservation of water that has been used for hydro-electric purposes ; but the local authorities are unable to raise the money required to carry out the scheme. Although private banks have offered to lend the necessary funds, the sanction of the Loan Council is required.
Thousands of small fruit-growers in Tasmania are unable to obtain markets for their produce. Their best market, normally, is in Sydney, but on account of the unemployment evil the people of
Sydney are unable to purchase fruit on the former scale. If the growers do not receive assistance they will be forced upon the labour market, or practically on the dole, within twelve months. Much help was expected from the Country party, which is now being absorbed by the United Australia party. “I regret that members of the Country party have practically sold their principles to their opponents.
– Order !
– I object to the remark that members of my party have sold their principles, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– As the remark is considered offensive, it must be withdrawn.
– I withdraw it, but I regret that the Country party is not now in a position to give the producers the assistance it promised at the last elections. The sum now proposed to be raised is inadequate for the rehabilitation of the rural industries. The majority of those engaged on the land live frugally. They are practically the builders of the Empire, but through no fault of their own they are now in a bad way. The Government should have brought forward a proposal adequate to assist both the primary producers and the workers, whose interests are closely interrelated.
– I should have imagined that what I said in moving the second reading of the bill was sufficient to explain its purpose. The criticism from the Opposition seems to be divided roughly into two classes. In the first place it is said that the Government has in some way attempted to thwart the authority of the Parliament by the introduction of this measure, and the second class of criticism is on the lines of “ Why hurry?” Replying to the first objection, I repeat that this bill, in the main, seeks authority to borrow money. It is not an appropriation bill, except in regard to the £200,000 allocated for postal works. Authority is sought to borrow a net amount of £5,000,000. I think there can be very few members who do not know the way in which the Loan Council operates. This body is a collection of representatives of sovereign governments, one of which is the Commonwealth Government, and usually the Commonwealth representative is the chairman. Its principal business is to consider what loan moneys are required by the respective governments for the carrying out of loan works and for other purposes for which loan moneys are required during the financial year, and it then considers if and when that money can be raised. In the three years immediately prior to the present financial year, the Commonwealth Government has not borrowed money from the public, and has not been directly interested in the loans that have been floated. They have all been loans for State governments raised by the Commonwealth Government on behalf of the Loan Council. This Government has now come into the loan field, and through its representative at the last meeting of the council, sought and obtained authority for the inclusion of the sum of £5,000,000 in the loan programme of all the governments for this financial year. Loans are raised normally at certain times which are considered most suitable from all points of view. One of those periods is approaching, and the council decided a few weeks ago that a loan should be raised on the Australian market in November, so the Commonwealth Government sought for, and obtained from the council, authority to include in the borrowing programme for this financial year an extra amount of £5,000,000. If the Commonwealth Government is to participate in the loan raising in the near future it is necessary and to obtain legal authority for so doing from this Parliament. It is not necessary to remind honorable members that this is a new Government. We now have in process of preparation plans for works to provide employment and for rural relief and other purposes, but since we have been in office we have not had time to develop them in full detail to such a stage that they could be incorporated in an appropriation bill. We are bringing a simple, honest and straightforward measure before the House, seeking authority to borrow this amount of money, and at the same time we are giving an assurance that at the earliest possible moment an appropriation bill will be submitted indicating in precise terms the manner in which, the money will be used. In general terms, it is intended to use the money for unemployment relief and rural rehabilitation ; but in due season specific information will be furnished on these point3 together with the necessary appropriation bills. I am not saying at the moment, whether this £5,000,000 will be the only amount that will be used for these pur-poses in this financial year, although some honorable members have endeavoured to draw such an inference from my speech. We are now discussing a bill which seeks authority for the floating of a loan of £5,000,000 net. I can say definitely, however, that £200,000 of the money will be used for postal works. This amount is in addition to £1,000,000 already appropriated for that purpose in the Loan Bill of last August, and it is also in addition to the amounts that will be spent from revenue on postal works.
-kin .-How long is it expected that this £5,000,000 will last?
– I cannot answer that question. “We must take our hurdles as we reach them. The amount will certainly last for some mouths. The honorable -member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) appears to be under the impression that the State Governments are starved for money for public works, but that is not so. In this financial year the State Governments alone will spend £22,000,000 on public works. The Government of Western Australia is, of course, a not inconsiderable factor in this regard. In these circumstances, it can hardly be said that there is any scarcity of money for public works for the relief of unemployment.
– That much was spent last financial year. The State Governments have spent £70,000,000 in the last four years.
– Only £15,000,000 was spent by the State Governments on public works last year, and that is very different from £22.000,000.
In reply to the criticism that the Government has furnished insufficient information with this bill, I point out that Ministers are not yet in the position to give full details of the works proposed to be undertaken. Honorable members are asked to pass the bill in order to enable the Government, to participate in a loan which is to be floated immediately, and they will take no risk in doing so for the money cannot be spent until it has been properly appropriated.
I am tempted to follow certain attractive lines of argument adopted by some honorable members, but I shall confine my remarks to the observations of one or two speakers. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) based his speech on the erroneous statement that the Government wanted to borrow this money for the purpose of paying interest.
– I did not say that.
– The -honorable member certainly said that the money would be absorbed in paying interest, and that none of it would be used to relieve unemployment. I must give the most direct contradiction possible to both those contentions. We are not borrowing money to pay interest in this country. Interest is paid solely from revenue and customs taxation. I trust that the honorable member will bear that in mind when he is making speeches on other occasions. I make this contradiction because the honorable gentleman’s remarks may be cabled abroad, and do great injury to our credit.
– My statement was nevertheless quite correct.
– I again give a direct denial to the honorable member’s remark.
The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) said that the British Government had raised a long-term loan at per cent. I take it that he is not prepared to deny that he said so. I wish to state definitely, however, that the British Government has never raised a loan at less than 2^ per cent.
– I shall show that the Assistant Treasurer is quite wrong in that statement.
– I am tempted to travel now along the attractive avenue of monetary controversy, but it would not be right for me to do so at this hour and on this occasion. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) suggested that the Government had some fell purpose to serve in not allowing the Commonwealth Bank to subscribe to this loan. The fact is that the Government would be delighted if the Commonwealth Bank subscribed as fully as it desired to the loan. I should be glad if the honorable member would use his influence with the chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board to this end. The Commonwealth Bank is underwriting this loan on behalf of all the governments of Australia on very attractive and reduced terms, and it is at liberty to subscribe, to the loan to the fullest extent that it desires.
I have now fully explained to the House why the bill has been introduced in this way, and why it is not possible to supply fuller information of the works on which the money will be spent. I assure honorable members generally that appropriation bills setting out the purposes for which the money will be used will be introduced as early as possible.
– Will it be possible to spend any of this, money this year?
– I most certainly think so, and I hope that an appropriation bill will be introduced before the House rises for Christmas.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second, time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Treasurer may borrow £5,050,000).
– In his reply,, the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) certainly did give the House more detailed information than he did in his. opening speech, but even now the fullest information has not been made available to. honorable members. Certain happenings at meetings of the Loan Council to which, he referred are merely routine matters. The honorable gentleman pointed out that,, on this occasion, the Commonwealth was entering the loan field, which it had not occupied for some time previously. I take it that if the Commonwealth intended to enter that field, it would have to tell the Loan Council the reasons for so doing, and give some indication of the way it proposed to allocate the amount to be raised. I understand that the Loan Council does not approve of the States entering into commitments unless they can satisfy it regarding the purpose to which the money will be applied. At- least,. I believe that is the procedure, but as the reports of the proceedings of the Loan Council are not by any means, full, it is difficult to ascertain the real position. I gather also that questions are frequently asked regarding the rights of subsidiary governmental bodies to do certain things, and that criticism is sometimes directed to proposed works on the ground that they will not be reproductive. If the Commonwealth is not required to submit details of its proposals to the Loan Council, my contention is robbed of some of its point; but I cannot conceive of any government submitting - proposals to the Loan Council without knowing its own intention. If, as the Minister said to-night, there was no definite plan submitted to the Loan Council, the Government has departed from what it stated during the election campaign. In a broadcast election speech dealing with rural rehabilitation, the leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page) mentioned £12,000,000 as the sum necessary for certain purposes, on the basis of £400 for each producer. This particular clause deals with the right of the Treasurer to do certain things. I am not concerned so much with his rights, as with the right of this committee te know what is intended. According to an interim report of the Royal Commission on the Wheat Industry,, not £12,000,000, but £140,000,000 is needed to rehabilitate that industry alone. I should like to know how much of the £5,050,000 is to be allocated to rural rehabilitation.
– None of it.
– This is also a live question with other primary producers than those who grow wheat. I am trying to ascertain what is in the mind of the Government, and how far it proposes to go with its rural rehabilitation scheme. The Minister’s statement that there is. no definite scheme, besides being unsatisfactory, is not in accordance with the Prime Minister’s policy speech. When that speech was- delivered there was> apparently, a definite scheme; if not, the whole thing appears to have been so much shadow-sparring. Those who focussed public attention on the Government’s proposals must have had some information at their disposal, or else they were misleading the public and not acting in a bona fide manner. ‘The Assistant Treasurer should tell us what proportion of the amount to be raised is to be allocated to rural rehabilitation and how much to the relief of unemployment. The large body of unemployed in New South Wales, as well as those in the other States, should know what they can expect.
– The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) asked for information regarding the procedure at meetings of the Loan Council. Lt is not usual at such meetings for one government to criticize the works programme of another, although it is true that at the beginning of a financial year all governments bring to the Loan Council a general list of the principal works which they propose to undertake during the following twelve months. It is, however, not obligatory on them to do so. The Loan Council is concerned chiefly with the total amount which each government desires to borrow during the financial year.
– Has not the Loan Council the power of veto?
– Not as regards the individual works policies. The Commonwealth Government did not bring to the Loan Council a detailed schedule of the works proposed to be undertaken, for the simple reason that it was not in the position to do so. It presented to the Loan Council no greater information than I have given to honorable members to-night.
– Was the Government’s rehabilitation scheme discussed?
– Not in the sense which I think the honorable member means. A Commonwealth Minister did describe, in general terms, what his government had in mind; but he did not mention any amount. As to the latter part of the honorable member’s speech to-night, I cannot add anything to what I have already said, but I assure him that no fuller information was given to the Loan Council than I have given here to-night.
– The Assistant Treasurer treated the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) in a cavalier fashion when he asked for information. I was rather astounded to hear from the Minister that the sum of £5,050,000 may, or may not, cover the whole of the expenditure considered necessary to give effect to the policy of the Government in regard to unemployment, rural relief and other matters. If it does cover the whole programme of the Government, I agree with the honorable member for West Sydney that both parties in the Ministry have thrown their plans overboard. Surely the Assistant Treasurer can give us an outline of the Government’s proposals, even if he cannot give us the details. It is not sufficient for him to say that the Government has not considered the details. Some consideration must have been given to them otherwise how did the Government arrive at its estimate of £5,050,000? How does the Government know that £5,000,000 will be enough to do all that is necessary ? It is all very well for the Assistant Treasurer to talk about the good faith of the Government, but we have heard that sort of thing before. It seems to me that the Government is making a deliberate attempt to sidestep the issue. I said in my second-reading speech that some of this money might be used to pay interest on old debts. I did not say that it would be so used. Loan money has been used for this purpose before, and it may be so used again. It would save time if the Government supplied the information asked for, because I have known the House to be kept sitting all night when a Minister refused to supply information sought. I do not wish to have to tell my constituents that I agreed to a proposal for borrowing money without knowing what the money was to be spent on. We have been told that this £5,000,000 is to be devoted to rural rehabilitation, unemployment relief and several other things, and we know that so small an amount would be of no use whatever for those purposes. The honorable member for West Sydney showed prescience in attempting to move an amendment at an earlier stage the effect of which would be to tie the Government down to something definite.
Evidently he knew that the Government was trying to put something over honorable members, and I for one am not prepared to accept it.
Motion (by Mr. Thompson) put -
That the question be now put.
The Committee divided. (Chairman - Mr, Prowse.)
Roes . . . . 22
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause put and agreed to.
Clause 3. (Purposes for which money may be expended.)
.-Idonotwanttoholdupto debate. My desire is that the work shall go on but I wish to know whether the Commonwealth Government itself will control the expenditure of this money and the carrying out of the works to which it is to be devoted. I am not concerned with the question of whether or not the money is to be allocated to the States, although as a matter of fact more work probably should be done under the jurisdiction of the States than under that of the Commonwealth. What I want to know is whether the Commonwealth is going to spend this money itself or to hand it to the States. If the latter course is to be followed then I hope the Government will take a lesson from the failure of the States during the last three or four years. Theirpolicyofspreadingtheworkby the lowering of standards has not increased the cumulative spending power of the mass, and has thus failed to increase the demand for commodities. The Government must know that the policy of spending Commonwealth grants on rationing and relief work has failed to achieve the purpose that we had in view. For several years we have asked more than one Commonwealth Government to use its influence with the State Governments to see that the work for which the Commonwealth grants provide is carried out under normal- working conditions and that the money is not spent on relief work which has failed to bring about the restoration of business activities as we had hoped. I ask the Government to take a lesson from the failure of the States which still have money in hand. Victoria still has in hand a considerable portion of the amount allocated to it for unemployed relief purposes; yet every one knows that the unemployment problem is just as difficult in Victoria as it was a year ago. It may be that, taking into consideration the temporary activity associated with the Centenary, there are fewer people registered at the bureau. But the increased numbers at work represent only those who are getting part time employment under a relief scheme. In the aggregate, the spending power of the people has not been increased. Surely the introduction of this measure is in itself sufficient evidence that the depression instead of having been bridged over is becoming more widespread. The Government has often pointed out that the banks are overflowing with money. There is more money ready for those who desire it - and at a cheaper rate - than ever before. But no one wants to borrow it since there are no avenues in which it can be profitably employed. There is no safe avenue in which it can be invested, because there is no demand for the goods which can be produced. The spending of money on relief work has not created a demand for goods and services because the wages the men receive do not create a market. Does the Government intend to spend this £15,000,000 on sustenance or relief work, spreading it over a large number of people, rolling it out thinner and thinner, but in the aggregate not adding one fraction to the spending power of the people? It is because of that policy that we have failed in the past. Three or four years ago every one said that unless we could create an extra demand for goods and services on the part of the community, by putting more people to work, then we should be unable to do anything to restore the business activities of any of the States. We have not restored business activities.
– We cannot while the honorable member keeps on talking.
– The right honorable gentleman has been talking for years on this very problem. I am glad that he is now going to take a hand in its solution. Maybe he will join with the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Menzies) in setting up a new plan. They will get the assistance of everybody ni this House. A new plan is absolutely necessary. Can the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) give the House any information to-night as to whether it is intended that the Commonwealth shall carry out works on the same conditions as operate in the States, or whether it is proposed to employ labour under normal and full-time conditions. If the latter course is followed, some good will result from the provision of this work. But if it is proposed to continue work for sustenance, what happened last year in the States must inevitably happen again. Last year, the States had several more million pounds to spend than in the previous year, and I presume they have spent most of that money ; yet the cost of pensions has gone up by £1,000,000 in the same period, the number of pensioners increasing by from 7,000 to 8,000. This year there is more money than ever before, and rates of interest .are lower, which proves that the policy which has hitherto been carried out has failed. I bo-pe that the Government will take a lesson from the failures of the States, and will not utilize this money for relief work on sustenance, but will employ labour under regular full time conditions.
.- This clause is very indefinite. It does not specify upon what works the money is to be spent, or whether it is. to be handed over to the States in order to continue the system of relief works which they have under way, a system which is known as the emergency food relief scheme. The men employed on work of this nature are called upon to labour in sewers and drains, and are paid an allowance which is not adequate to maintain them in a decent standard of comfort. They have frequently been known to fall down on the job through malnutrition. If it i3 proposed to hand this money over to the States to carry out such works, the unemployed will give no credit to this Government for its provision. Recently, in New South Wales, a number of men have been dismissed by the Lake Macquarie Shire Council because it was claimed that the men were malingering. Many meetings of protest have been already held, at which responsible public .men have avowed that the men were .doing a fair day’s work. Apart from the schedule to the bill, I am unaware as to how this money is to be allocated ; all that honorable members know is that a certain amount is to be allocated for the improvement of postal facilities. This measure is only tinkering with unemployment, and in no way will afford any real relief to the unemployed. In the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) it was stated that it was proposed to raise, not £5,000,000, but £20,000,000, and I contend that this bill in no way redeems the promise which the right honorable gentleman then made. The unfortunate people who are unemployed are entitled to more consideration at the hands of this Government. In my electorate, and it is characteristic of many others, many men to-day who formerly did not know what want was, and for years lived in comfortable circumstances, but have been forced through loss of employment to vacate their homes, although in some cases as little as £80 remained still to be paid in respect of the purchase money.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).The honorable gentleman is getting away from the clause.
Mr.JAMES. - I propose to connect my remarks with the clause. These men have had no opportunity to better their position. Irrespective of their condemnation of the Nationalist Government, and their claim that under the regime of the Lyons Government unemployment had increased, and that the unemployed should receive more consideration, we find the members of the Country party new in accord with the Government in a policy which only recently they so roundly condemned. The situation arises because to-night the Government has not given honorable members the information they should have. It certainly provokes one, even at this late hour, if, when one asks for information, it is not forthcoming. The Minister should explain to the House clearly in what way it is proposed to allocate the money. I understand that the £200,000 to be made available will be allocated for improved postal facilities. Will the Minister explain tothe House bow it is proposed to allocate the balance.
Mr.RIORDAN (Kennedy) [11.47].- In the expenditure of this money proposed to be made available by the bill, are we to follow a new method of distribution ?
Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Prowse.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clauses put and agreed to.
Clause 4 (Issue and application of £200,000).
. -I understand that the £200,000 proposed to be made available in this bill will be allocated for special Christmas relief to the unemployed to supplement the £1,000,000 which has already been allocated for postal work. Will the Minister inform the House as to how that £200,000 is to be appliedin relation to the £1,000,000 already allocated ? This clause deals with the schedule to the bill and I have in mind an amendment which would suggest that the amount of £200,000 be spent before Christinas on some form of relief to those who urgently need it. What is the Government’s intention with respect tothe expenditure of this sum?
.- The amount of £200,000 is in addition to the £1,000,000 already appropriated by Act No. 17 of 1934, and is for the purpose indicated, namely, telephone exchange, services and trunk line services. There is no indication that it will be spent before Christmas.
.- The. Telegraph to-day announced that it is, intended to increase, the number of telephone lines between Sydney and. Melbourne. During the last eight, years, or more practically no work has been undertaken, in the far western, or northern portion of. Queensland. The Minister, representing, the Postmaster-General in this chamber (Mr. Hunter) knows quite well that the reply givenbythe department to every application from country districts. is to the effect that the applicants can be guaranteed a party line provided that they are prepared to supply the poles and the labour, the department providing the wire. . Surely those who live in country districts are entitled to concessions equal to those enjoyed by city dwellers! Why should those who are pioneering and opening up the backblocks be put to the expense of establishing a privately-owned service? During the last election campaign the Acting Prime Minister (Dr. Earle Page), espousing a policy in opposition to that of the United Australia party, with which his party has now joined forces, as a result of which he and some of his colleagues have obtained the plums of office, fought for telephonic extensions and for additional facilities and concessions on behalf of country residents. Does the right honorable gentleman now intend to fulfill the promises that he then made?
– The honorable member is making rather a wide use of the clause. 1 Thursday, 15 November,1934.
– Prior to the socalled depression, a telephone exchange service was given at the expense of the Postmaster-General’s Department. In country districts that has now to be paid for by the residents. At Mount Isa, where there are from 1,500 to 2,000 people engaged in the mining and smelting industry, a boy is paid £1 a week to sleep in the exchange. If there is a fall of earth in the mine, and anybody is injured, it is a toss up whether the bell in the exchange will waken the boy or not. That economy is practised allegedly in the interestsof the nation. The same condition exists at Charters Towers. On the Atherton tableland the telephone exchange was abolished. The claims of those who are pioneering and opening up the back country have been utterly disregarded in the interests of those who comprise the voting strength around the cities. I say that £200,000 will not meet the requirements of either the Maranoa or the Kennedy electorate. The sum of £1,000,000 could be spent to-morrow in Kennedy, and not prove sufficient to give the people the facilities to which they are entitled. A number of persons engaged in the wool-growing industry may make application for a mail service. The reply of the Postmaster-General’s Department is that there are only ten selectors along the route, and that, as only 50 or 60 persons are affected, the service will be provided if the contractor is guaranteed £50 a year to, carry the mail the additional 30 or . 40 miles. I hope that at the expiration of three years, or sooner, Queensland will have full ministerial representation. For quite a long time it has been represented by only an Assistant Minister. I have great hopes that the Treasurer will make an adequate sum available for the improvement of telephonic facilities in the country districts of that State. I do not know whether other States are as sadly neglected. I hope that there will be an extension of mail services. The telephone line from Longreach to Stonehenge serves 80 persons, who in the first place had to erect the line and then had to keep it in repair. For the privilege of using the telephone they have to pay from £10 to £12 a year and a call fee. If the line happens to break down, they toss a coin to see who will effect the necessary repairs. I ask the Postmaster-General’s . Department to take over this line. I should like that to be one of the first actions taken by the gentleman who represents the PostmasterGeneral in this branch of the legislature.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Prowse.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause put and agreed to.
Motion (by Dr.Earl Page) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr Prowse.)
Majority … 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Schedule put and agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) agreed to-
That the House at its rising adjourn until 2.30 p.m. this day.
War Service Homes Administration - War Pensions Affected by Old- age Pensions.
Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I bring under the notice of the Minister in charge of the War Service Homes Department the case of Mr. H. A. Harris, of Austinmer. The sum owing by him is about £200, and legal fees amounting to £4 or £5 have been added. He has been evicted from his home, and the department now threatens to take action to recover from him money which he cannot possibly pay. He has a wife and three children, and his wages have been reduced by half. The last threat received by him was that a garnishece order respecting portion of his wages would be obtained.
– What is the amount of his wages?
– From £3 8s. to £3 12s. a week. Three or four years ago, when he owed about £11, he asked the department to release him from his contract. He was then prepared to forfeit what he had paid on his house. The department forced him to remain in the home, and when the arrears accumulated to the amount that I have mentioned, he was evicted. The house for which the department required him to pay 30s. or more weekly is now being let for a fraction of that sum. It is common knowledge that in the case of hundreds of these homes from which the occupants have been evicted, windows have been broken and baths and even gas stoves removed. Dwellings for which from30s. to 35s. a week have been charged are now returning the department only 7s., 8s., and 9a, a week, after large sums have been spent in replacing stolen fittings. When the war was in progress th3e men were promised that they could have the moon, the sun, and the stars, but after the lapse of years the glories of war have been forgotten, and the unfortunate exsoldiers are given conditions that should not be offered even to criminals. Tenants whose purchasing power has been seriously reduced should not be penalized for their inability to carry out contracts which were entered into with the best of intentions. We have heard talk about avaricious landlords, but what is to be said of a department controlled by a government whose members promised that everything possible would be done to help ex-soldiers and now treat them shamefully? I wish that the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) were in charge of war service homes, for then he would have an opportunity to carry out some of his promises to those who served at the front. I do not hold the present Minister responsible for the situation which now exists. I am merely informing him that unless a drastic change is made in the administration there will be serious trouble, and possibly open revolt. If the War Service Homes Department can afford to allow certain of these homes to be occupied at a rental of 8s. or 9s. a week, why should not returned soldiers who have submitted to all sorts of hardships in endeavour to meet their commitments be permitted to continue in occupation of them at the same weekly payment? Many of them contracted to buy these homes when their wages were twice what they are receiving to-day. The man whose case I have cited was receiving from £11 to £13 per fortnight when he assumed this liability, but, to-day, he is drawing only £7 fortnightly, and, consequently, it is impossible for him to carry on. I have mentioned only the case of a man who has not only been deprived of his home, but also threatened by the department with a garnishee order or something of that sort on his wages in an endeavour to get him to wipe out a debt which, under present conditions, it is utterly impossible for him to do. Indirectly, the department is depriving ‘his wife and little children of food which is absolutely essential to keep them alive. I informed the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) in a letter which I sent to .him with respect to invalid and old-age pensions that if Shakespeare were alive to-day and were to re-write the *Merchant of Venice, he could include the right honorable gentleman as Shylock. I appeal to the Minister to go thoroughly into the details of this case, and to see if some consideration cannot be extended to this man who has done all in his power to meet his commitments, and even offered to vacate the home when his liability was only small. I submit these facts, not in the nature of a threat, but as a plain statement of the position, and I shall continue to pursue the same course even at 5 o’clock in the morning until these men receive from this Government the justice to which they are entitled.
– I may inform the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) that it is my desire to obtain all the information 1 can in connexion with specific cases that may be brought under the notice, of honorable members. I have no wish to defend any past action, for which I am not responsible, and of which we may not all approve, but every effort will be made to
Bee that justice is done. I urge the honorable member and other honorable members not to discuss these matters at length in the House, but to call on me at my office and present all the facts so that they can be brought under the notice of the commission, and an endeavour made to give occupants fair treatment. The ‘Commissioner of WaT Service Homes left Canberra for Sydney to-day to conduct certain investigations, and I ask honorable members, particularly those representing New South Wales constituencies, to supply me with full particulars as soon as possible so that I may bring them under the notice of the commissioner on Saturday or Monday next.
Mr. MULCAHY (Lang) [12.32 a.m.J.-
I am quite satisfied from the correspondence that I have before me that the Minister will -do his best to .assist those experiencing difficulty in meeting their payments to the War Service Homes
Commission, but I am afraid that tho act will have to be amended before relief can be afforded. I brought one or two cases under his notice to-day, and I know that they will receive sympathetic consideration. The dependants of deceased returned soldiers occupying War Service Homes are entitled to more sympathetic consideration from the Government. I know from a conversation which I had with the Minister to-day that he is sympathetic towards widows with children, who have no chance of meeting the instalments on the homes which the deceased husbands contracted to purchase. [Quorum formed.] But the dependants of returned soldiers are entitled to more sympathetic consideration than they are receiving. I am sure that the Australian people would not quibble if the utmost generosity were shown to every deserving case. The Minister has given me an assurance, which I accept, that the persons against whom action is being taken in the courts to-morrow will not be evicted. I suggest that the Government should give serious consideration to the amendment of the War Service Homes Act. Widows of returned soldiers should be given the homes in which they live.
– I regret that the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Hughes) is not present, for I wish to bring under his notice the fact that the ill-effects of certain regulations issued under the financial emergency legislation are still being severely felt by certain pensioners. Regulations under that act laid down that £3 a fortnight was adequate for maintenance purposes. A lady in the East Sydney electorate had her pension reduced to £1 5s. a fortnight on the ground that she was already receiving an old-age pension of £1 15s. a fortnight. We were told some time ago that the cuts in war pensions under the Financial Emergency Act had been completely restored, but in this case, and in many others that I could name, they have not. Honorable members know that for the purpose of assessing income, it is assumed that the income of a man and his wife is regarded as being received equally by each of them, In the case to which I refer, the widow married again, and her husband was receiving an old-‘age” pension of 17s. 6d. a week. I immediately got into touch with the department and informed it that the total income of the pensioner and her husband did not amount to £6 a fortnight. The department replied to the following effect : -
Referring to your representations of the 8th September, 1934, on behalf of the abovenamed, I have to inform you that a war service pension may be paid to a parent only when he or she is without adequate means of support, and, for the purposes of this provision of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act 11)20-1934, an income of £3 per fortnight for each parent from all sources U doomed to be adequate. Mrs.- waa married .to her present husband on the 18tl October, 1928, and regard cannot be had to him when assessing payment of pension to the mother in respect of her deceased son. As
Mrs.- - receiy.es an old-age pension of £1 15s. per fortnight, her war pension cannot exceed £1 5s. per fortnight.
I submit that in this case justice is not being meted out to this lady. I have spoken repeatedly in this House against the maintenance provisions of our pensions legislation, and although I have been informed that the financial emergency regulations no longer apply to war pensioners, T regret to say that this is not the case. We know of many cases of mothers of deceased soldiers whose war pension was entirely eliminated under the financial emergency legislation, and it has not since been restored.
– It was only eliminated where there was other income.
– Previously other income was not taken into account. The mother of a deceased soldier received a pension as her right, and as some slight compensation for the loss she had sustained. The case of many such pensioners is worse to-day than previously, for other members of the family are now not able to contribute as much as formerly to the upkeep of the household. The Government should restore the pensions of these unfortunate people. I particularly appeal for a reconsideration of the case of the lady to whom I have referred. I hope that the Minister will bring this j natter under the notice of the Minister for Repatriation in order that this woman may receive just treatment.
Question - That the House do now adjourn - put. The House divided.
As it appears from the report of the tellers that a quorum of members of the House is not present, business cannot be transacted. The House therefore stands adjourned.
House adjourned at 12.52 a.m. Thursday.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
t asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
In view of the decision of the Government to remove the Sandy Bay rifle range, will he state when it is intended to begin the work of removal, and indicate the location of the new range?
– It has not been decided to remove the Sandy Bay rifle range. The Hobart City Council has been informed that the Government is prepared to agree to remove the range under certain conditions. The city council has not yet formally agreed to those conditions.
Loans in London.
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will he supply, for the information of honorable members, a list showing the amount and interest rate of loans in London on which there is an option of conversion, or on which redemption is obligatory, and the dates of each?
– The following statement shows the loans maturing in London up to the 31st December, 1935:-
en asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice, -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
In its interim report the commission included in its recommendations a proposal that a certain sum be set aside for the relief of farmers who might suffer loss of crops through various causes. This matter will be considered when the further report of the commission is received.
y asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
With reference to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which was established in 1855 and registered in 1887, will he obtain the following information for the House: -
The amount of the total visible dividends from 1887 to 1934 inclusive?
The original capital in shares?
The successive share issues to shareholders since the beginning of the company?
The total cash bonuses to shareholders from 1887 to date?
The total number of shares and their values after the present issue has been completed ?
– The information desired is not in the possession of the department.
r asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
Was a police agent engaged some months ago by his department to work at Canberra; if so -
What is the proper name of such agent, and under what name did he introduce himself to the people of Canberra?
From what date was he engaged?
Is he still employed by the Commonwealth; if not, on what date did his engagement terminate?
Was he paid a salary or by results, or both?
How much has been paid to him by the Commonwealth, and what is the estimated total amount he will receive for his work at Canberra?
What work or duty was allotted to him, and, if he is still at Canberra, on what duty is he now engaged?
Did the previous Attorney-General authorize his employment; if not, who did authorize it?
If some form of investigation were considerednecessary at Canberra by the AttorneyGeneral, why were the services of his Investigation Branch not utilized for the purpose?
– The answers tothe honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Yes, a police agent was so engaged.
For reasons of public policy, it is not desirable to disclose the name of such agent.
15th May, 1934.
No. The term of his engagement expired on 5th October, but, in addition, he was employed for three days during this month in connexion with a case which was postponed to, and heard on, 6th November, 1934.
He was engaged on the same terms as those upon which he was employed by the New South Wales Police Authorities, viz., salary, 15s. per day, plus out-of-pocket expenses.
£200 was paid to him as salary and expenses by the Commonwealth. The total amount of fines and costs in the 44 prosecutions which were launched as a result of the efforts of the agent is £397.
The work allotted to him was the making of inquiries into offences against the gaming laws.
His employment was authorized by the Chief Officer of Police.
It is the practice of all police forces to employ agents for the purpose of making inquiries into illegal betting. Such inquiries could only be made by a stranger to Canberra who has had experience in the work of detection of illegal betting. It is not the class of work that could be satisfactorily performed by a permanent officer of the Investigation Branch, who would be hampered in this work by the fact that he is well known in Canberra.
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
How much of the outstanding taxes set out in the last Auditor-General’s report has been collected since 30th June, 1933, showing the amounts under the headings of (a) income tax, (b) land tax, (c) estate duties, and (c) sales tax.
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The amount of outstanding taxes at 30th June, 1933, was -
Of these amounts, the collections since 30th June, 1933, are -
Since 30th June, 1933, new assessments have been issued and after allowing for these assessments, and adjustments in respect of former years and all collections in the meantime, theoutstanding taxes at 31st October, 1934, are-
en asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice-
River- Wyndham air route; if so, what company has the contract?
If a contract has not been let, what arrangements have been made for the service, and what are the main points of difference between the type ofplanes at present used, as compared with those that were utilized by Western Australian Airways on the Broome to Wyndham route! 3. (a) What is the rate paid per mile on the Ord River-Wyndham route?
– The answersto the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
The present rate per mile forthe Ord River-Wyndham temporary service is 3s.
The high rate payable to MacRobertsonMiller for the Ord River-Wyndham service compared to the rate of1s. 6d. per mile payable to the same company for the Perth-Ord River-Daly Waters service is due to the short length (147 miles) of the Ord RiverWyndham service.
Before entering into the present arrangementswith MacRobertson-Miller, the departmentinvited offers from the following operators who were thought to be in a position to operate the serviceon a temporary basis, namely, Western Australian Airways Limited, Perth; V. James, Perth; and G. Lewis, Perth. None of these operators were prepared to quote. 5.Seeanswerto4.above.
e asked the Attorney-General, upon notice-
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. I have seen the bill introduced into the House ofAssembly on 11th September, 1934.
Price or Sugar : Colonial Sugar Refin- ing Company’s Accounts.
Dr.Earl Page. - On 2nd November the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beagley) asked the Prime Minister the following question, upon notice: -
Will he informthe House what precautions were taken to ascertain whether the statement of accounts placed before the Government by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company upon the basis of which the retail price of sugarhas been fixed at4d. a lb. until 31 st August, 1936, represented a true and correct valuation of the company’s assets and profits?
I am now in aposition to furnish the following reply:-
The reduced price of refined sugar now operative until August, 1936, viz., 4d. per lb. retail, was not accepted by the Government on the basis of a statement of accounts or any other kind of statement submitted by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited.
The position ofthat company was, however, carefully considered amongst other matters relevant to a reduction in the price of sugar. In this connexion, the Government had the benefit of the reports ofthe 1931 Sugar Inquiry Committee, which was appointed by the Scullin Government to investigate every phase of sugar production, distribution, and use in Australia.
That committee included three separate representatives of consumers, viz., housewives, manufacturers, and fruit-growers, and it found unanimously that the profits of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited from all its sugar activities in Australia duringthe three years immediately preceding the committee’s appointment were equivalent to 7.1 per cent. of the original cost of all fixed assets as written down by depreciation allowances during 43 years, plus the average working capital required for the purchase of coal, sacks, other materials, and raw sugar, and for the holding, and sale of refined sugar stocks.
In connexion withthese Australian profits of the company from 1928 to 1930 inclusive, the Government gave due attention to the fact that, under the plan of 1932 for a reduced Australian price,the company -
would receive a lower return on all raw sugar produced by its seven mills in Queensland and New South Wales’;
agreed to contribute towards the lower price of refined sugar by reducing its refining charge;
did not propose to increase its fees for administration and selling beyond the amounts originally fixed by the Commonwealth Government in 1915 and adhered to since then.
The Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limitedhas, of course, very large sugar interest’s in Fiji and New Zealand, butthese are outside the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Government’.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 November 1934, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1934/19341114_reps_14_145_c1/>.