14th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr.Speaker (Hon.G. J. Bell) took the chair at 9.80 p.m., and readprayers.
– Will the Minister for the Interior inform honorable members of the reason for the prohibition against the landing in Australia of Mr. Griffin, a New Zealanddelegate to the Anti War Congress, which sat in Melbourne? Will the Minister state exactly what is Mr. Griffin’s position at the moment; is he still regarded as a prohibited immigrant?
- Mr. Griffin undoubtedly is still regarded as a prohibited immigrant. He was prevented from landing in Australia upon information furnished to my predecessor, Mr. E. J. Samson, by the Investigation Branch. He was subjected to, and failed to pass, the dictation test.
– What was the reason for his exclusion?
– I can only say that the information placed before my predecessor by the Investigation Branch was considered more than sufficient to warrant his being prevented from landing inthis country.
– Will the Minister for the Interior, as chairman of the Cabinet sub-committee which has charge of the plans of the Government for rural rehabilitation, state whether the governments of the States have yet submitted proposals to the Commonwealth ? If any proposals or acknowledgments have been received, by what States have they been made?
– The Commonwealth has been in communication with the several States, and has received definite proposals from New South Wales. A Cabinet sub-committee is inquiring into the whole matter, and the Government hopes to be able to formulate a policy in co-operation with the States in the very near future.
– Will the Minister for the Interior give an undertaking that a definite announcement will be made before the Christmas adjournment regarding the Government’s policy for rural rehabilitation ?
– One wonders whether the honorable member recognizes the size and complexity of the problem which he has touched upon. The Government will undoubtedly give to the House at the earliest possible moment all the information it can regarding its programme for rural rehabilitation, but some time will be required for the Commonwealth Government, in consultation with the States, to formulate a policy, and it is doubtful whether it will be possible to announce that policy before Christmas.
Sales Tax and Primage
– Will the Minister who is acting for the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the House whether consideration has been given to a suggested remission of sales tax and primage on Fijian bananas imported into Australia? If such representations have been made, will consideration be given to requests by those who are engaged in the bananagrowing industry in the northern part of New South Wales and in Queensland ?
– This matter is now under the consideration of the Government. The interests of all parties will be taken into account.
– Will the Government, before coming to a decision with regard to the request for further concessions in respect of Fijian bananas, take into consideration the definite assurance given by the then Assistant Minister (Mr. Francis) during the last election campaign that no further concessions of the kind would he granted?
– As I stated previously, all relevant factors will he taken into consideration before a decision is reached.
– Has the Minister representing the Postmaster-General in this chamber noticed that recently the postal authorities in Great Britain have instituted a uniform flat rate of, I think, ls. for all trunk line calls between London and Glasgow, with the result that extra provision has had to be made to cope with the greatly increased traffic? In view of the success which has attended this innovation, is the honorable gentleman disposed to consider the adoption of a similar policy in Australia?
– I shall bring the matter before the Minister, and obtain a reply for the honorable member.
– Has the attention of the Acting Leader of the House been drawn to a prominently displayed report in this morning’s press headed “ Lancashire combative about cotton” “Regards offered concessions as inadequate.”? It would appear that the Government’s proposals with regard to cotton duties have been communicated to the Lancashire cotton authorities through the High Commissioner for Australia in London. May honorable members he made acquainted with the nature of those proposals? Will the honorable gentleman also say whether the communication was made through the High Commissioner, and if any reply to it has been received by the Government?
– Discussion upon this matter is still proceeding .between the Commonwealth Government and the High Commissioner for Australia in London. When the appropriate stage is reached, an announcement will be made.
Representation of AUSTRALIA
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Defence inform the House whether Australia will be directly represented at the Naval Conference which is to be held in London next year to review the Washington Treaty of 1922 and the London Treaty of 1930 ? If so, can he indicate who will be Australia’s delegate?
– The Government has come to no decision on the matter.
– In view of the report in .the Canberra Times this morning that further wreckage has been washed up at Waratah Bay, will the Minister representing the Minister for Defence make the cable ship available for a search of this area with the object of locating, if possible, the lost air liner Miss Hobart and the passengers which it was carrying when it disappeared?
– I shall place before the Minister and the department concerned the request which the honorable member has made.
– The special officer who, until recently, was kept on duty at the Ballarat post office for the reception of telegrams and attendance on trunk line calls between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. now ceases duty at 8 p.m. Has the attention of the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral been directed to complaints that have been voiced in the Victorian press concerning the inconvenience that is thus caused? Will the honorable gentleman call for a report with a view to ascertaining whether the business offering justifies reversion to the previous practice ?
– I shall bring the matter under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral, and a reply will be furnished in due course.
– Having regard to the fact that the Gosford Times, of Thursday, the 18th of October, stated that 30 per cent, of the citrus fruit-growers in the district between Parramatta and Dora Creek would be on the dole within six months, and that another 50 per cent, would have to go off their holdings within eighteen months, will the Govern ment take steps to assist the growers in the same way that assistance was granted by the Commonwealth to the Tasmanian growers of apples and pears?
– I shall be pleased to place the honorable member’s question before my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– Has the Assistant Treasurer read the leading article published in yesterday’s Melbourne Argus, in which it was stated -
Ministers, Federal and State, make no secret of their fondness for carrying on a handtomouth existence with the help of borrowed money, while unemployment is rife and rural industry is depressed, and for waiting for something to turn up.
Did the Minister inform the United Australia party meeting yesterday that the Government had a re-employment plan ? If the Government has a plan will he inform the House when it will he disclosed, so that some hope may be given to the unemployed?
– I have not personally had the benefit of reading the leading article to which the honorable member referred, but I shall do so at an early date. As for the rest of the honorable member’s question, I remind him that it is not customary to announce matters of policy in answer to questions.
– Has the Minister for the Interior seen the report in yesterday’s Melbourne Argus that one week’s work will be provided for about 40,000 men in the Federal Capital Territory? Can the Minister inform the House since when the population of the Federal Capital Territory has grown so greatly from the 10.000 revealed by the last census? Or is it proposed to bring men from outside the Territory to do relief work here?
– My attention has been drawn to what I am sure the honorable member recognizes as an obvious misprint.
– About a fortnight ago, the Prime Minister stated in reply to a question that the report of the Royal Commission on the Wheat Industry would be available in a couple of days. Can the Acting Leader of the House’ state when we may expect the report to be presented f
– The latest information received by the Government from the Royal Commission on the Wheat Industry is that its report should be presented to the Governor-General on Monday or Tuesday of next week.
– Owing to the poor wireless reception possible in the northwestern parts of Australia from the national broadcasting stations, for the upkeep of which listeners have to pay licence-fees, many listeners have been put to the expense of altering their sets to enable them to receive short-wave broadcasts from Java, Paris, and elsewhere. How far has the Postmaster-General’s Department proceeded with the scheme for a simultaneous broadcast of short and long-wave programmes from the station
– I shall place the honorable member’s question before the Postmaster-General with a view to obtaining the information he seeks.
– In view of the number of requests received by honorable members representing areas known as “fading zones “, will the Minister make a full statement to the House regarding the Government’s policy for the erection of additional wireless broadcasting stations?
– I shall have inquiries made, and will see that the honorable member is furnished with a reply to his question.
– Is the Minister aware that the Postmaster-General’s Department is transferring men from other departments of the service to the mail branch to cope with the extra work at Christmas time, instead of re-engaging some of those ex-employees of the department who, although thoroughly competent, were discharged a few years ago on account of the depression ?
– I recognize the urgency of this question, and I shall have inquiries made regarding it.
– Does the Acting Leader of the House think it fair to honorable members in this chamber that such an important portfolio as that of PostmasterGeneral should be held by a Minister in the Senate? Important questions are asked in this. House to which we cannot receive definite answers.
– Order ! The honorable member must not debate the matter.
– As the honorable member is awave, I do not administer that department; but I shall obtain the opinion of the Postmaster-General on the subject.
– I ask leave to withdraw from the notice-paper the motion standing in my name relating to Australian banking and monetary systems.
Objection being raised, leave not granted.
– I have received from Mrs. Holman, widow of the late Honorable W. A. Holman, a letter expressing appreciation of the bound memento containing the resolution of sympathy passed by the House of Representatives.
The following paper was presented: -
Public Service Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 143.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No.5) 1930-1934, the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No.6) 1930-1934, the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. 7) 1930-1934, and the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. 8) 1930-1934.
Motion (by Mr. Paterson) proposed -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Immigration Act 1901-1933 and for other purposes.
.- Before the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) is granted leave to introduce this bill, we should know what it contains. The. forecast is not very encouraging. One speculator suggests that it contains a provision to make it impossible for a person charged with being a prohibited immigrant to obtain bail. Generally speaking, it is the policy of this party to wait and see, but on the other hand there is precedent for taking a firm stand against granting leave to introduce a bill, particularly when honorable members have reason to suppose that the measure contains utterly obnoxious proposals. It may be, of course, that the Minister will content himself by proposing to amend the act so as to prevent a repetition of the colossal farce of submitting dictation tests to men in a language which it is known they do not understand. If the Government proposes to be honest in this matter and to amend that section, I am sure that it will receive hearty encouragement from this side of the House. Our immigration laws certainly seem to be a little confused at present. We were informed a little while ago that two persons at least were to be prevented from entering Australia. They were named, and the only difference between them was that one was a little worse than the other. The worse of the two is at present addressing meetings all over Australia, but the state of the health of the other prevents him from doing so.
– That gentleman is dining with the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– He is addressing large meetings in certain parts of Australia, and I notice that the Minister for Trade and Customs is absent to-day. It is widely believed that he is seeking a translation of a number of the works of a certain distinguished author to whom I have already referred. I ask the Minister to shed even a little light upon the bill which he seeks leave to introduce. The Minister, who is habitually courteous, need not confer with the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies), who is habitually cautious. If the bill were in charge of the AttorneyGeneral he would be disposed to give me an accurate forecast of what it contains. I feel sure that he has perused the measure very carefully; he has reason to be careful after what happened recently. Even the Government’s best friends in the press are getting restless in regard to immigrants whom the Government certainly prohibits, but cannot prevent from entering Australia. I suggest that the Minister should let us know what is in this apparently innocuous bill, so that we may take counsel as to whether we arc to give it our support.
– It is not customary for honorable members to raise any objection to the motion for leave to introduce a bill, but the circumstances surrounding this measure to amend the immigration laws needs some explanation. We cannot divorce our thoughts from the happenings of the last few weeks, or shut our eyes to the fact that a certain case is to be heard before the court in Sydney on Friday. It would be strange if any action were to be taken by the Government or the Minister which might interfere in any way with the course which the law would ordinarily take, and prevent justice from being done. One would imagine that in a British community the trial of any person, whether an alien or not, should not be prejudiced in any way. If I were in a foreign country and charged with having done something contrary to its laws I know the indignation that would be felt by me and my people if the government of that country, pending the trial of my case, saw fit to ask for leave to introduce a bill to alter the law which I had been accused of transgressing in “such a manner as to affect the ordinary course of justice. The Government has adopted a very strange attitude which seems to indicate a condition of nervousness regarding its ability to administer the immigration law. I have in my possession the full details of the Kisch case, but I am not permitted under the Standing Orders to place them before the House.
– I .rise to a point of order. I submit that it is not in order to discuss what might, could, would or should be contained in a bill which is not yet before the House.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Q. J. Bell).It has been the practice in the past to allow considerable latitude in the discussion of a motion for leave to introduce a bill. It would be difficult to find anything in the Standing Orders which would limit specifically such discussion. At this stage I am not prepared to restrict, the debate. The honorable member for West Sydney realizes that he would not be in order in discussing the Kisch case particularly.
– The Minister asks the permission of the House to introduce amending legislation. At this stage we do not know what the bill contains and, as is so often the case, we have had to rely upon newspaper reports for information which should first be given in this House. All we know of this bill is that it is designed to amend the Immigration Act, but it cannot be dissociated from recent happenings. Leave should not be given if, in the opinion of the House, the proposed amendment is likely to interfere with the course of justice. The Government may have reasons for its introduction, but at least it. might have waited until the final determination of the court had been given in the case mentioned, according to the statute in its present form. That is only a fair, reasonable and proper course to adopt. When the Government asks for leave to introduce an amending bill, the purpose of which is not disclosed, honorable members are entitled to speculate as to the reasons for its introduction. Honorable members on this side are not disposed to grant leave for the introduction of the bill at this time because it may prejudice the ordinary course of justice.
– I assure both honorable members who have spoken on this motion that the bill which it is proposed to bring down will not and cannot in any way affect the determination of the court to-morrow. Obviously, we can only advance the bill to the second reading stage to-morrow, and the court in Sydney will have given its decision before the second-reading debate is completed. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), in characteristic fashion, has drawn attention to certain anomalies in the existing act. The bill is designed to correct some of those anomalies. I intend to move the second reading of the bill to-morrow in order that honorable members may have an opportunity during the week-end to study what it contains.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 21st November (vide page 466) on motion by Mr. Casey -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- It is not long since the Governor-General’s Speech was delivered, and no doubt honorable members have still a lively recollection of the contents of that speech, which indicated the policy of the Government. I recollect that in one portion of it we had the statement -
My advisers regard with sympathy and concern the heavy unemployment which still persists, and propose to give to this grave and pressing problem priority over other matters.
Honorable members will agree that the Government to-day is not displaying any desire to grapple with this problem in the way then indicated. As a matter of fact, what it should have said in the Governor-General’s Speech was that this pressing problem would have priority over other matters excepting Melbourne cup3, centenary celebrations and Sydney festivities.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).Order ! The honorable member must discuss the measure that is now before the House.
– I was endeavouring to point out that the farce of discussing the problem of unemployment and its relief goes on so regularly as to confirm the opinion of some honorable members that unemployment is a permanent feature of our present social structure. I think I shall be in order in discussing the inadequacy of the proposals of the Government. During the election campaign “ millions “ were spoken of. The Minister, in introducing this bill, did not say whether the expenditure for which it provides is merely a preliminary outlay or whether it represents the maximum effort of the Government for, the next twelve months. The unemployed hate frequently been deluded by politicians into the belief that there is to be some amelioration of their conditions - some hope for them. Speech after speech has been delivered on this subject. If we turn back to the early days of the preceding Government, we shall find that even then speeches of a character similar to those made during this debate were delivered whenever the question was raised and the necessity of assisting these unfortunate people was urged. Not one original idea has been introduced into this debate by the members of the Government or any of their supporters. They still talk of “ balanced budgets “, “ restored confidence “ and “general prosperity being around the corner “. The unemployed were told by village idiots, such as the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane)-
– Order ! The honorable member has spoken for several minutes during which he has referred to many matters but has not yet addressed himself to the bill itself.
– I do not wish to repeat everything I have said, sir, but had you been listening-
– Order ! The honorable member will address himself to the MIL
– Had you been able to hear what I said despite the ignorant interruptions of the honorable member for-
– Unless the honorable member obeys the ruling of the Chair and addresses his remarks to the bill before the House, I shall not allow him to continue.
– I am discussing the inadequacy of the amount provided in the present bill for the relief of unemployment and in doing so wish to take the course followed by other speakers in showing what are the intentions of the Government, what its activities in the past have been, and exactly what we may expect from it in the future. I hope I shall be in order in doing so. No matter what the Standing Orders provide, no honorable member will deny that the unemployed section of the community were told during the election campaign that their position would be rapidly improved, in the event of the continuance in office of an anti-Labour Government. The Prime Minister himself said that if confidence were restored, then the improvement in the position of the unemployed would grow like a snowball, and several honorable members opposite continually claimed that during the regime of the anti-Labour Government one man was returned -to employment in every seven minutes it remained in office. After all is said and done, this proposal of the Government aims only at giving a little relief to a very small section of the unemployed. Every one will agree that if the amount were spread over the whole of the unemployed without any deduction in respect of cost of materials to be used, it would not be sufficient to provide them with one decent meal between now and Christmas. Honorable members opposite have approached the consideration of this question from the wrong angle. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) spoke of the many millions that had been provided out of revenue for Commonwealth Government works, and said that this amount would be supplemented by State expenditure to assist these unfortunate people. Too many men in this Parliament and outside, consider the question of unemployment only as it affects their particular investments and the dividends they hope to receive from industries in which they .have put their money. They also view it as it affects the Government budgetary position, whereas it should be viewed from the angle that many thousands in the community are in want and are suffering when there is no necessity for anything of the kind. That is the stand-point from which we should discuss this matter. It is immaterial to me what honorable members opposite say with regard to balanced budgets and as to whether money is available to meet the needs of the unemployed. In times of drought or famine, the poorer sections of the community are made to suffer and want because the prices of commodities rise and much that they need is quite beyond their means. When we have prosperity they suffer again. Prices fall and it is difficult to find markets for our produce, and so the workers have again to endure want and suffering. What hope is there for the workers under the present chaotic system? On the one hand when we have bad seasons they are in want ; on the other hand when we have bountiful seasons and there is a plenitude of everything man requires, they are called upon again to suffer.
I also desire to take this opportunity to lodge my protest against the undue haste of honorable members to attend festivities rather than to attend to their duties in this Parliament.
– Order !
– Surely the Standing Orders permit some sort of plea to be made for the unemployed who cannot speak for themselves in this Parliament.
– The honorable member can surely discuss the measure before the Chair without reflecting on. honorable members.
– All I am endeavouring to do is to state the facts. I do not wish to misrepresent or impute improper motives to anybody. The plain fact is that many honorable members are not giving sufficient time to the duties which they were elected to perform.
– The honorable member cannot be the judge of that matter; it must be left to the decision of the honorable members concerned.
– As other honorable members have said from time to time, the Standing Orders so limit the discussion-
– Order ! The honorable member will resume his seat. I regret that I have had to call him to order so frequently. Apparently he is not familiar with the Standing Orders. If he is, he should remember that they are the Standing Orders of this House and that every honorable member is in duty bound to support the efforts of the Chair to conduct the business according to them. I direct the attention of the honorable member to Standing Order 272, which reads as follows -
No member shall use offensive words against either House of Parliament or any member thereof, or against any Statute, unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal, and all imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on members shall be considered highly disorderly.
– I rise to a point of order. I appreciate the necessity for the Chair making every endeavour to confine discussions to the particular matters before the House ; but it will be realized that it is necessary, at times, for honorable members, in fortifying their arguments, to make references that might he construed as having some personal import. I have always understood that when such references were considered to be harmful or wrong, it is proper for the persons aggrieved to rise and make their protest, and ask that appropriate action be taken. I do not desire to hinder the legitimate endeavours of the Chair to confine the discussion of this measure within proper limits ; but I feel sure that an examination of the reports of many speeches made in this House will show that references at least as direct in their personal application as those of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) have previously been made without objection being taken to them. The exact words may not have been used, but words were used which had similar implications. I trust, therefore, that the Chair will endeavour to temper its authority, allowing reasonable latitude so that my colleague may express the views which he considers are those held by his constituents.
-I believe that honorable members generally will agree- that I have allowed all of them considerable’ latitude to express their views ; but the honorable member for “West Sydney must realize that I have frequently called the honorable member for East Sydney to order because he was, in my opinion, deliberately and without qualification reflecting on honorable members personally. That cannot be allowed. I do not think that the Standing Order which I have quoted can be misunderstood.
– The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) informed us that one of the difficulties which faced the Government in meeting the unemployment situation was that no plans for public works had been prepared. I also gathered from the honorable gentleman’s remarks that he thought that great difficulty would be experienced in finding any considerable volume of work of an urgent character that could be put in hand immediately. I suggest, however, that many enterprises could be undertaken by the Government that are quite outside the scope of those usually undertaken by private enterprise. For instance, a good deal of work could b* done to improve the health of the people. Private enterprise is not anxious to provide funds for the building of hospitals or for medical attention to unfortunate people who cannot afford to pay for it; such expenditure would not give a profitable return. But every honorable member will agree that an urgent need exists for the provision of additional hospital accommodation in every large city of the Commonwealth where not only the unemployed but also other persons who are working for ridiculously low wages could receive attention. At present, such people have to wait an unduly long time for treatment. The Government could therefore at once spend money in the construction of new hospitals and the extension of existing ones, and in the provision of medical facilities generally for the benefit of the people.
The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) suggested that the Government was already putting forth the maximum effort that could be expected of it to assist the unemployed. In my opinion, the first duty of any government should be to care for the well-being of the general community. It should consider all proposals that come before it, not from the point of view of their effect upon the investments of certain people outside of Parliament, but from that of the welfare of the citizens. The Government will not have adequately discharged its obligations until it has provided adequate sustenance for every person who needs it. The problem of unemployment should be tackled in a systematic way. I do not, of course, suggest that it is likely to be solved during the life of this Parliament, because, whenever an alignment is made of the interests of certain people represented by honorable gentlemen opposite and those of the great mass of the people whose desperate position needs alleviation, we cannot expect that a unanimous view will be possible among honorable members.
– What duties would the honorable member place- upon the State parliaments ?
– I am not at the moment concerned with the apportionment of responsibility between the Commonwealth and State Parliaments, nor as to which authority shall spend the money made available for public works; but I insist that the passing of responsibility from one Parliament .to another will not in any way assist the unemployed. We have to recognize that the various State governments deal with the unemployed in their territories in different ways. I have always heard it said that every Britisher was entitled to three meals a day and a bed; but the Government of Western Australia considered, at least until recently, that it had acted reasonably by insuring that single unemployed men received two meals & day. The unemployed have been very patient, but they, are not likely to be satisfied with the gesture - and it is nothing more. - that this Government is how making. The painting of a few post offices, and the expenditure of the paltry sum of £176,000 throughout the Commonwealth on works and services, will be entirely inadequate. By refusing to disclose the number of unemployed people, as shown in the census taken recently, the Government has indicated that it is afraid to face the facts of the situation. The amount of £176,000 would not, in my opinion, represent 10s. per head of the unemployed people of the Commonwealth. That is a conservative estimate.
If it be that the Government is powerless to give effect to its desires because outside interests are hampering it by not making the necessary funds available, it should be honest and not seek to delude the unemployed any longer. In Sydney, and probably elsewhere also, the unemployment situation is becoming more acute daily. Members of this Parliament are constantly being asked what the Commonwealth Government intends to do to relieve the situation. If, as the honorable member for Swan says, the relief of unemployment is the responsibility of the State governments, why did not Government candidates tell the elector* so during the election campaign ? Instead, they spoke of spending millions to find work for the workless, and appealed to the motherhood of the country to vote for what they described as a sane government in order to provide for the future security of their sons and daughters. As a result of that kind of propaganda the Government was returned. The Prime Minister recognized the responsibility of the Commonwealth in this matter, for he said that his Government would appoint a Minister specially to deal with unemployment. I do not know whether that appointment has yet been made. The important fact is that the unemployed have not received any tangible benefit from the policy of the present Government. The Minister told us that the list of new works proposed to be undertaken would fill many pages. If that be so, I suggest that the individual works must be small indeed, because, even if the whole sum proposed to be applied to the relief of unemployment were expended on one undertaking, it would not be a large one.
I am interested in the item of £6,000 proposed to be expended in connection with dips for cattle tick control, largely because I understand that most, if not all, of it will be expended in the electorate of Cowper, represented in this House by the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page). Unlike a number of honorable members opposite, I have no parochial view in regard to unemployment. I do not ask that special consideration should be given to the unemployed in my electorate, because I believe that an unemployed man in Western
Australia, or in Queensland, is just as much my concern as is one in the division of East Sydney. I am desirous of assisting them all. If the Government is either unable or unwilling to provide more than the sum mentioned in this bill for the relief of unemployment, I suggest that the money be expended in whatever way will assist the greatest number of deserving people. Rather than expend it on public works, I would prefer that it be used to provide food and clothing for those in need of them. In that way destitute families, who otherwise would not participate in the distribution of this money, would be helped. If, as may be claimed, the works proposed to be undertaken are necessary, then I suggest that they be undertaken in the usual way, and not as relief works. I protest against the failure of the Government to live up to its election promises to the people of Australia generally, and particularly to the unemployed. That it has failed lamentably is shown by this measure. I marvel at the patience of the unemployed. On many occasions since entering this Parliament I have .been twitted with having been unemployed prior to my election. That is true; it is because I have had bitter experience of the effects of unemployment that I am so concerned for those who are still out of work. It is easy for honorable members opposite, who have never been unemployed, but are assured of regular incomes from their investments, to talk dispassionately regarding unemployment ; but when I think of unemployment, I think of helpless children who, for want of sufficient food, clothing, and shelter, are under-nourished and in ill health. Even when these poor unfortunates become ill, our social system denies them adequate medical attention. Anything which undermines the health of the future citizens of this country cannot be regarded lightly. How can honorable members opposite reconcile privation among our people with the existence of huge stacks of wheat, upon which mice and rats prey as it rots in the stacks at railway sidings and elsewhere? What is the use of embarking on a campaign by which the people are advised to “ Eat more bread “, if thousands in our midst are unable to buy it? Why not end the farce and tell the people that the Government is so stupid that it continues a policy which means that the richer the country becomes in material wealth, the greater the suffering of thousands of its people? Notwithstanding the legislation which has been introduced to smash organizations of unemployed persons, these organizations continue to grow. They do so because of sheer necessity. During this debate, one honorable member mentioned the possibility of a bloody revolution in this country. I do not believe, as some honorable members apparently do, that revolutions are the result of the activities of agitators. If conditions are satisfactory, all the talk in the world will not induce the people to revolt. Revolution is the outcome of desperate conditions. The people of Australia have been deluded so often that they are beginning to wonder whether the time has not arrived for other methods to be adopted to secure relief for themselves and their families. If they take action along unorthodox lines, I, for one, will not condemn them. Rather will I condemn those who are responsible for the conditions which breed revolution.
I hope that the unemployed will not be fooled into believing that this sum of £176,000 is merely a preliminary expenditure on their behalf, and that the Government intends to do more for them. Those who sponsor private enterprise believe that the expenditure of any sum, however small, is not warranted, except for the purpose of maintaining what they call reproductive industries. They hold that the expenditure of moneys for the relief of unemployment is not reproductive - is, indeed, wasteful - and, therefore, should not be sanctioned. When the unemployed represented only 3 per cent. of the population, their plight caused little concern, although individuals suffered as much then as they do now when 30 per cent. of the population is out of work. The figure indicated by the Government is 30 per cent., but I believe that the proportion is actually larger than that. The only occasion on which supporters of the Ministry outside this House are prepared to give any consideration to the unemployed is when their numbers reach such magnitude that the Government and those who have invested their money in private undertakings are afraid that in their desperation the unemployed will be driven to extreme measures to assist themselves. I hope that the Government will be at least honest enough to realize that the workless are now at the limit of their endurance, and that, despite all the talk in the press and from various public platforms about restored prosperity, the situation is actually becoming worse. The initial announcement of the Government was that private enterprise would have to provide most of the employment for the people; but we are now told that as secondary industries have received a setback, primary production must be stimulated.
– The honorable member is going beyond the subject-matter of the bill.
– Are honorable members opposite satisfied with the method to be adopted by the Government in the distribution of this £176,000? In New South Wales it is an easy matter for a name to be removed from the register of unemployed, because of some trivial offence. Consequently, many men will not be permitted to participate in the proposed work, and owing to the inadequacy of the vote many of them will be unprovided with even a small measure of relief during the Christmas period. No such discrimination should be shown. The Minister has not yet indicated how the work is to be allocated, other than that it will be distributed by the State authorities through the Labour Bureaux. The practice in New South Wales has been to give preference in employment to men with the largest families. As a matter of fact, the employment is often of no benefit to them, because in most cases it is found that they are actually better off financially when not employed than when provided with work under the system now adopted by the State Government. Yet, if effect is given to the present intention of the Commonwealth Government, these are the only men who will receive any help under this bill. Single men, no matter what their responsibilities may be, will receive little consideration from any government.
-The administration of other governments may not be discussed in considering this measure.
– The House is entitled to more information than it has received as to the manner in -which the £176,000 is to be expended. We should be informed whether it will be used for the purpose which Parliament determines. We on the Opposition side wish all members of the unemployed section to have equal opportunities to obtain work. The State Labour Bureaux need not be called upon to take part in the distribution of this vote. In past years, a federal department has been called upon to register those who need work, and to allocate the money. Probably that system would give more satisfaction than the procedure now proposed by the Government. It would .be a simple process to meet the needs of the workless if employment were all they required, but their immediate need is food and clothing, and proper shelter for their wives and dependants and themselves. I hope that the sum to be voted will be used to provide the necessaries of life rather than on works in respect of which much of the money may be spent in the purchase of material.
– I have listened with much interest to the remarks of honorable members regarding the proposed financial provision for the relief of unemployment prior to Christmas. I am particularly interested in the allocation for Tasmania. Prior to the advent of a Labour government there, the number registered as unemployed was 3,000, but an investigation made by the Ogilvie Ministry has shown that the actual number is nearer 5,000. The reason for this is that many men did not register as unemployed prior to the appointment of that government, because they felt that it would be futile to do so. In round figures, the sum of £6,000 is to be expended in Tasmania, and, if the number of unemployed were only 3,000, not more than £2 could be received by each of them for the four weeks between now and Christmas. This appropriation compares very unfavorably with the provision by the Scullin Government two or three years ago of £1,000,000 for the relief of unemployment. I protest against the niggardly treatment that is being meted out to the unemployed under this proposal. The people were told that the recent elections were being held prematurely in order that the Government might receive a mandate to proceed with a progressive policy of works for the relief of unemployment. If such a statement were not actually made on the hustings, the people were certainly entitled to infer that the Prime Minister had such a policy which he would put in operation. Now we find that the only work of this nature to be undertaken before Christmas is to cost only £176,000. Our unemployment position is tragic. The plight of the workless, it seems to be me, is not being treated very seriously by the Government. We do not know which particular departments will distribute this money, or whether those people already registered as unemployed will receive much benefit from it. I would like to have more information regarding the schedule of proposed works. The Minister has indicated that this money will be expended on works to be carried out by day labour, and to benefit registered unemployed. However, there is nothing to indicate whether one section of the unemployed will receive most of the benefits, or whether this money will be fairly equally distributed among all the unemployed in each State. In Tasmania there are 3,000 unemployed ; is it proposed to distribute this money equally among these people, and to give each £2, ot is the money to be divided among a few who are registered as unemployed? Will boys who have just left school, and are looking for work, receive any benefit from this expenditure? There are many works of a national character which could be undertaken by the Government to employ the workless. In my own electorate, for instance, such works are -needed, but local-governing bodies have not been able to undertake them owing to lack of funds. In this respect I draw attention to the need for floodprevention work in” the Invermay section of Launceston, which was flooded in 1929. Useful work could also be done in improving the upper reaches of the Tamar River. Surely such work is as national in character as is the river Murray waters scheme! But, when the Commonwealth Government undertakes national works, no funds are ever allocated for undertakings in Tasmania. I think the estimate of a former Treasurer of Tasmania, that the unemployed in that State number 3,000, is somewhat low; the number would be more like 5,000. Taking the latter figure aa the number to participate in this expenditure, were it equally distributed, each unemployed person would receive about 25s. I pro test against such a niggardly treatment of the unemployed. The Government’s proposal is extremely disappointing, particularly when we realize that all it proposes to do to relieve the unemployed in Tasmania prior to Christmas is to expend a mere £6,000.
.- I, too, enter my protest against the Government’s niggardly treatment of the unemployed, as proposed under this bill. As the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) pointed out, it is proposed to spend the sum of £6,000 on the construction of cattle dips in the electorate of Cowper. As Tasmania is to receive only a similar amount, it is clear that the Government is not treating that State fairly in this matter. Again, the amount allocated to Tasmania is only half as much as that to be devoted to unemployment relief in the Federal Capital Territory. There are a great many more unemployed in Tasmania than the registered figures reveal; I estimate the number to be nearer 10,000 than 5,000. It has to be remembered that there are certain classes of persons who are unable to register as unemployed even when they are in necessitous circumstances. One of those classes is the primary producer, the man who has a small farm, and keeps a few cows, but who, owing to having to pay rates and interest on his mortgage, is unable to make ends meet. He is what may be called a silent sufferer, as he is unable to beg or get the dole, and is not allowed to participate in work such as that proposed under this bill. It would have been more just if the Government had made available at least £500,000 before Christmas for unemployment relief, but with only four weeks to go before the end of the year, all the
Government can do is to bring down a niggardly proposal like this. Since the 15th September, when they were given a mandate from the people to go ahead with their policy, Ministers have done nothing to deal with this problem. They have not attempted to fulfil the promises made at the election by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons). It was not until the press throughout Australia persistently asked the Government what it intended to do to relieve unemployment that Ministers took any steps at all. Again, I ask through what channels is the money to be distributed ? Is it to be disbursed through the shire and municipal councils of the different States as was done when the Scullin Government made available £500,000 for unemployment relief works? I agree with the suggestion of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) that this money should go to the unemployed, not in return for doing relief work, but - as a straight out Christmas gift. Under present conditions, the coming Christmas will be a nightmare to the unemployed, and especially to those primary producers, whose circumstances, as I have pointed out, preclude them from receiving the dole. Instead of spending this money on making extensions and renovations to Government buildings, I suggest that a better plan would be to distribute it through shire councils for the carrying out of much needed local works. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) apparently is to receive a little of this money in his electorate, where it will be devoted to renovating the Hobart Post Office.
– I have not got any of it yet.
– At least the honorable member has a promise. I understood that work such as the renovation and extension of public buildings was to be carried out by expenditure from the £5,000,000 loan authorized recently. Under this proposal, how will those districts in which there are no public buildings fare; for instance, areas in which unofficial post offices are operated under private superintendence? The unemployed have no hope whatever of benefiting to any material extent from the Government’s programme of works for Tasmania, as the paltry sum of £6,000 is totally inadequate. Ministers must know that it is insufficient. I realize, however, that it is of little use to protest, because Ministers are indifferent to the plight of the unemployed. This proposal is a disgrace to the Government. I was under the impression that the bulk of the £5,050,000, provided for in the Loan Bill was to be utilized for relief works. That would not be a penny too much. Honorable members from all States could submit schemes for reproductive works if the Commonwealth would provide the money. Only in this way can we expect to absorb the unemployed throughout the Commonwealth. The Labour Government in Tasmania has been and is doing very good work on behalf of the unemployed. The Sydney Daily Telegraph yesterday reported that £75,000 had been expended in decorating the city, on an unexampled scale, in honor of the visit of His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester. Yet it is suggested by the Government that £65,000 is sufficient for the relief of unemployment throughout New South Wales. I agree with honorable members on this side that it is time that those who represent the workless made much stronger representations to this Government in order to secure some measure of justice for them.
.- I also enter my emphatic protest against the inadequacy of the sum which the Government is allocating for the relief of unemployment, as well as against its decision to recruit the labour required through the various State labour bureaux. This will be particularly unfair to deserving unemployed in New South Wales, because if a son or daughter is working it is impossible for the parents to secure relief work or the dole.
– Every man in New South Wales can register and will get work if it is available.
– In the circumstances which I have related persons registering at the State labour bureau cannot get work, if the amount coming into the home is above the prescribed permissible income. There are also thousands of unemployed lads who, because their fathers happen to be in employ ment, are unable to secure work although they have registered at the bureau. We should like to see some arrangement made whereby portion at least of the amount to be allocated to New South Wales will be set aside for these unfortunate people. But the sum itself is insufficient. In the Labor Daily of to-day’s date is published a list of works to be carried out in New South Wales under this bill. I notice that, despite all the attempts by the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) to discredit honorable members on this side of the House, not one pound is to be expended in his district. Therefore I expect that he also will protest against this iniquitous proposal. As I have stated, the total amount to be expended in New South Wales is £65,185. Works for the Defence Department will absorb £43,080. The list of items includes the following : - Defence Department - Liverpool Camp, fence repairs, drainage, £700; stores, reconditioning road, £400: ammunition depot, clearing scrub and drainage, £850; roads and repairs, £1,000; ammunition depot, new concrete floor, £2,8*00. That is a tidy sum to be allocated to the Liverpool Camp. I understand that it was largely the result of personal representations made by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini). For Anzac Range-road, the proposed expenditure is £1,000, and for drainage, £400. At Mascot Aerodrome, £7,000 is to be expended in filling, grading, and drainage, and £400 on reconditioning the area and the runway. That allocation was, I believe, due to representations by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden).
-Order! Representations which honorable members may have made in respect of any item of expenditure may not be discussed on this bill.
– At Victoria Barracks the contemplated expenditure on roads is £300, and at Moore Park depot, £5,000 for repairs and painting. That happens to be in the electorate represented by my colleague, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). The amount allocated for Randwick Small Arms School, reconditioning roads and parade grounds, is £350. We all know who represents that district. At Marrickville depot the expenditure on roads and paths is set down at £500, and for Arncliffe, Haberfield, Gladesville, Mosman, Willoughby, and Manly drill halls the amount provided is £700. Some of these halls are in the divisions of Warringah and North Sydney, where approximataely there are 150,000 people. Evidently, the Government expects that the sum allocated will tide the unemployed there over the Christmas season. For the reconditioning of the road at Fort Wallace, Newcastle, the sum of £400 is provided, and for the Adamstown Rifle Range new road, £150. At Moorebank-avenue, £700 is to be expended on the completion of the road to Green Hills, and £200 on the remount depot at Green Hills. The expenditure on the new road from Green Hills to Holdsworthy is set down at £1,000, and for Holdsworthy Camp, roads and repairs, £250. The sum of £3,000 is provided for repairs and painting at South Head, Georges Heights, Middle Head, and Chowder Bay Quarters. Other items are - Randwick Military Depot, repairs and painting, £700; La Perouse Reserve Quarters,repairs and painting, £330 ; Richmond Aerodrome, grading parade and landing grounds, £2,500. The works to be undertaken on behalf of the Repatriation Department are: Lady Davidson Home - new road, clearing and repairs, painting, £2,500; Randwick Hospital- - roads and drainage, £250; Repatriation offices - alterations, £1,200. Health Department works are: North Head quarantine area - repairs and painting, £1,000 ; new boundary wall and road, £5,000. Every one of those works is directly under the control of the Commonwealth Government.
– On a point of order, I submit that as the Government has not received any representations from honorable members and no list of works such as that to which the honorable member has referred has been supplied to the press, the honorable member is not entitled to place a tissue of misrepresentations before this House.
– The Chair is not aware of whether the list read by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Gander) is strictly accurate or not, but assumes that it velates to works to be carried out under the schedule.
– That is so. I give my word that the list is authentic. I urge the Government to have these works carried out by its own works branch in New South Wales, of which Mr. Todd is the head, and not by the State authorities. With the exception of the £6,000 which is allocated for tick eradication in the Cowper electorate, the whole of the expenditure will be in the Sydney metropolitan area and in Newcastle. The claims of the unemployed in the rest of the State are to go by the board. Despite what has been said to the contrary, there are men who cannot secure work under the State scheme of employment. Two days after instructions had been issued to the Commonwealth department in Sydney, the whole of the labour required would be engaged. I would undertake to obtain in one town the number of men needed for the work that is to be done in my electorate.
– It would not, I think, be unfair to summarize the debate, at all events from the Opposition side of the House, by saying that it has consisted of two protests. Wittingly or unwittingly, the impression has been conveyed that this amount of £176,000 is all that the Commonwealth Government is providing for the relief of the unemployed.
I should like to state briefly the actual facts of the situation in something like their proper perspective. I listened last night with considerable interest to the speech of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James). It was made under the stress of a good deal of emotion and no honorable member could have failed to be moved by the eloquent description of the plight of some of the unemployed to-day. The Government does not need to have re-inforced its appreciation of the circumstances in which these persons are placed. I am sure that honorable members on both sides of the House are sufficiently impressed with the misery that unfortunately still exists in some quarters. But I do make the plea that this measure be placed in rather better perspective than that in which it has so far been viewed. I do not accuse honorable members of the Opposition of having made speeches for political purposes. I find it impossible, however, to believe that they are unaware of other action that has been taken for the relief of unemployment, and of the place which is occupied by this bill in the general policy of the Government. In the present financial year, the sum of £22,000,000 is being expended on public works by the governments of the States. I daresay that 75 per cent, of those may properly be described as unemployment relief works. If there were not a large number of unemployed who have not so far been absorbed by private enterprise, I do not believe that one-quarter of the public works that are in hand and are projected would be undertaken. In the* past it has been the policy of the Commonwealth Government to leave the loan field entirely to the States, on the ground that they are more closely in touch than is the Federal Government with unemployment relief works. Recently, however, the policy has been slightly changed, and the Federal Government is now entering that field. Apart from . the £22,000,000 to which I have referred, this House has already appropriated in this financial year over £4,250,000 from loan and revenue, for public works that are largely in relief of unemployment. I anticipate criticism of that statement by the honorable gentleman, who has said that a portion of that money is being sent abroad to pay for a cruiser. That is perfectly true. But probably not more than £750,000 will be utilized for post office equipment that is not manufactured in this country, and in part payment for the cruiser. Therefore approximately £3,500,000 of the sum already appropriated is being devoted to expenditure week by week in an effort to relieve unemployment. There is also the £2,000,000 which the Commonwealth hands over to the States under the Federal Aid Roads Agreement, almost the whole of which is expended on labour.
– The .States are entitled to that.
– I am not discussing the question of entitlement. The Government has not brought this bill forward as a major measure. If honorable members are fair, they will admit that in my second reading speech I described the bill in sober terms, and without exaggeration, as one which provides an amount that we can afford to set aside from revenue for works which can be quickly organized in the departments, without calling for tenders or drawing up plans and specifications. I do not believe that any more formidable schedule would come within that category. Works that introduced greater complications would take at least a month or two to plan, and to organize. I am informed by the departments that these are practically all that can be organized at short notice, and .be carried out before Christmas, in addition to those that are already in hand. The intention of the Government is merely to supplement the activities that are now proceeding. I remind honorable mern.bers. also, that a few days ago this House gave authority to borrow the sum of £5,000,000. The undertaking was then given that before the House rose for the Christmas recess, a bill would be brought down to appropriate some part of that £5,000,000 for specific purposes.
Reference has been made to the £6,000 which honorable members have said is to be spent almost exclusively in the electorate of the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page). I hardly think it necessary to comment on such an unworthy suggestion. The proposal to intensify activities in connexion with tick eradication was made at the instance, not of the right honorable member for Cowper but of the Cattle Tick Commission, which is financed jointly by the governments of the Commonwealth and New South Wales. Recently, the commission urged that the time was opportune to speed up the work by the provision of a number of additional dips. The New South Wales Government is finding £4,400 of the £10,400 that is being allocated to this work. I have not the least idea of whether or not it is being carried out in the Cowper electorate.
– I tell the Minister that it is.
– I readily accept the honorable member’s word. Even so, it is completely defensible. The recommendation that it was a work which might reasonably be included in a schedule of this sort was made, not by the right honorable member for Cowper, but by the Minister concerned. I should like to ease the mind of the honorable member for
Reid (Mr. Gander), because I am sure that he for one would not like to feel that any favoritism had been exercised in this matter. I should like to make it clear to him - though I am sure that it is not necessary to do so in regard to other honorable members - that the Government has given ear to no special representation in regard to the allocation of this money. That, I think, is borne out by the fact that £6,000 is to be spent in the electorate of the honorable member himself. As to how the work is to be carried out’, I can only repeat what was said by the Minister for the Interior, namely, that the work will not be done under the supervision of the State Works Department, as has been suggested, but by the Commonwealth Works Branch. The men will be recruited through the State labour bureaux,, but we shall not necessarily confine ourselves to that channel. In some cases it may be advisable to engage the men through other channels. The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) said that the Scullin Government in 1931 made a grant of £1,000,000 for unemployment relief; that is not correct, the actual amount waa £250,000.
– Why cannot a list of the proposed works be placed before honorable members?
– I have not seen the Labor Daily from which the honorable member for Reid quoted a list of proposed works, nor do I know how that newspaper obtained the information. I cannot even say, after hearing the extracts read out by the honorable member, whether the information published is correct or not. I appeal to honorable members to get the matter in proper perspective, and allow the bill to go through. The measure provides for a relatively small amount of money from revenue to be allocated for specific purposes. Other and larger sums are at the present time being spent on various works, and I ask honorable members to take that fact into consideration.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Appropriation of £178,000).
– I ask the Minister to give an assurance that a fair proportion of this money will be allocated to country districts. I have been informed by a government department that it has certain urgent work which could be undertaken, but that there is no appropriation available for carrying it out. I refer particularly to the repair of rifle ranges, and the building of embankments thereon. There is possibly urgent work in a similar position in other departments.
– The Government has had to consider where the greatest concentration of unemployment is, and the maximum amount of relief that can. be given with the relatively small sum that will be available. As regards allocation to defence works and rifle ranges, I think the honorable member will not be dissatisfied when he sees the allocation.
.- Will the Minister place a copy of the list of proposed works on the table of the House? We have been informed that £12,800 has been allocated to South Australia, and I should like to see what works are to be undertaken. It would appear that the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Gander) has been able to obtain some inside information.
– He got it from the press.
– But where did the press get it from? Is it authentic?
, - I have no knowledge whether the list read out by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Gander) is correct or not. The Government has prepared many lists of works, some of which have been added to, while in the case of others certain works have been struck out The various works comprise repairs, alterations and small extensions, making up a large number of relatively small’ jobs. However, with the permission of the committee, I shall have inserted in Hansard a list of the principal works. [Vide schedule on page 522.]
.- It waa evident from the statement of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Gander) that he was seeking deliberately to mislead the committee.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member permitted to say that an honorable member is seeking deliberately to mislead this committee ?
– I uphold the honorable member’s point of order. Indeed, I. was about to remind the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) that he was out of order.
– I ask the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) whether he has received any representations on this subject from the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), or the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Gander). I also ask whether any list of works was secured from government sources by the Labor Daily through a government official. If the list published in the Labor Daily conforms substantially to any list prepared by the Government, will an investigation be made to determine how the Labor Daily obtained possession of the information, and who was responsible for supplying it? When a previous grant was being expended, it was very hard to get through the barricades erected by the honorable member for West Sydney, who was the Minister administering the grant. When I came into the House the honorable member had 7,000 names already registered for work.
– The honorable member must confine himself to the clause.
– I ask that no notice be taken of this list of 7,000 names when work is being provided from this grant, but that a fair allocation of money be made to all districts. The honorable member for West Sydney dominated the Sydney Labour Exchange when he had the chance, and no one was able to get work unless he joined a labour union of which he approved.
– I must ask the honorable member either to resume his seat or to confine his remarks to the clause under discussion.
– I am merely asking what has been asked by every other honorable member during the course of this debate, namely, that the money be allocated fairly to all districts, and that no notice be taken of the plans so carefully laid by the honorable member for West Sydney when he was in office. We on this side of the House represent all parties, and are anxious that those out of work in our electorates should benefit from this grant.
.- Has the Government made any definite arrangement with respect to the distribution of the money to be appropriated for carrying out certain public works and services? If £22,000 is alloted to Queensland, and it is distributed equally between the ten electorates, only £2,200 will be available for the Kennedy electorate, which extends over an area of 800,000 square miles. Is the money to be appropriated to be expended on clearing landing-grounds at aerodromes, or on extensions of telephonic or postal services? What is the exact nature of the work to be undertaken f If honorable members representing New South Wales constituencies have been supplied with a schedule of the Commonwealth works to be undertaken in that State, can the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) explain why a similar courtesy has not been extended to the representatives of other States? Honorable members are receiving telegrams daily asking whether there is any opportunity of obtaining work under the Government’s proposals. As I have been asked by the representatives of certain local governing bodies whether the amount to be allocated to Queensland is as stated, I should like the Assistant Treasurer to give the committee more detailed information than he has supplied.
– I thought that I had made it quite clear to honorable members that in determining the works to be carried out the Government and its advisers have considered it desirable to spend the greater portion of the money where there is the largest concentration of unemployment, and where there are works that can be organized readily and quickly. As I have already stated £176,000 is a relatively small portion of the total amount to be spent in this country in order to relieve unemployment. It is not possible to arrange for the money to be allocated equally between the different electorates. Moreover, the Government is not concerned with electorates as such, and no representations have been made to the Government as to where work should be carried out. The governing factors are the number of unemployed, the importance of the works, and the possibility of expeditious organization. I have not any information as to’ the source of the alleged schedule which appeared in the Labor Daily.
– I agree with the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) that it must be obvious to every one that the money must be expended in proportion to the volume of unemployment in any particular district; but I remind the honorable gentleman that in some of the thickly-populated centres in metropolitan areas where there are large numbers of unemployed there may be no Commonwealth public works upon which money can be expended economically at this juncture. In Victoria there is an unemployment council, consisting of Commonwealth and State representatives, which makes recommendations with respect to public works. If there are no Commonwealth works which can be undertaken in centres where there is a large number of unemployed will the money be used on other works in those areas ?
.- The explanation of the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) is as unsatisfactory as is the amount which the Government proposes to appropriate. The proposal to expend the money where unemployment is greatest is grossly unfair, and if adopted will be detrimental to many deserving unemployed in country centres, who will be deprived of the opportunity to participate in this meagre measure of relief. Apparently it is the policy of the Government to offer a sop to those where the voting strength is greatest. This is not a very big bone over which to fight; but the country people should receive greater consideration than is being meted out to them. If the money to be allocated to Queensland were expended in Hughenden, Longreach, Boulia, Camooweal, and other centres of equal importance, it would not represent more than a £100 for each town, and on the basis of one week’s work at £53 for each unemployed man, would not benefit many. As it will be practically impossible for the Government to spend some of this money on Commonwealth public works in country centres, the £3 which would ordinarily be paid for a week’s work should be made available through the Queensland Labour Bureau to the wives of registered unemployed men. If a sum were allocated to the flown councils at Charters Towers, and Townsville, and men were selected through the Labour Bureau to undertake work at those centres, it would, cost them 25s. for a return railway fare, which would benefit the Government to a greater extent than the unemployed. As it is practically impossible for the Government to afford relief in the manner suggested before Christmas, an amount should be paid direct to the wives of unemployed men in country districts. When the expenditure of such money is under the control of town councils, the members of such councils, who are usually business men, recommend that it be expended in the town, which is usually where they conduct their businesses, and in that way they receive’ most of it. When travelling through Torrens Creek, on the great northern line, in the direction of the Gulf of Carpentaria, in September last, I was informed that on a big relief job which Faa in progress, 60 per cent, of the men employed came from Townsville, which necessitated their travelling over 200 miles to get on to the job. An allocation of 25 per cent, or 30 per cent, was also made for Charters Towers, and 10 per cent, for another centre ; but those registered at the bureaux along the line had no chance of getting to the work. Moreover, there are thousands of deserving men who “ hump “ their swag from town to town seeking work, but who find it useless to register. Honorable members representing country constituencies should make a definite stand on behalf of those living in country districts. Ample reproductive work could be provided in my electorate by extending telephonic and postal services, and in other ways. The Government, which has the numbers, can do what it likes, and, as the voting strength in the country centres is not as great as it is in the cities, country people are to receive scant consideration. The percentage of unemployed in the Kennedy electorate is as highas it is in the Brisbane electorate; but, for reasons which I have stated many of the unemployed in the Kennedy electorate do not register. It is proposed to spend £6,000 in Tasmania, a State with a total area of 2S,000 square miles; but my electorate is more than ton times the size of Tasmania. There is only one way in which to deal with the allocation of this money. It should be made a grant or a gift to all those registered as unemployed in each centre. It is impossible to secure an even distribution of the money by the undertaking of relief works.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted: -
The labour required to carry out any work in the State of New South Wales shall be obtained from a register compiled and controlled by the Commonwealth Director of Works in the State of Now South Wales.
My purpose is to ensure that there shall be fair and proper discrimination in the selection of those to be engaged on these works. I propose to limit the operation of the new clause to New South Wales, because I am not aware of the procedure operating in . connexion with labour exchanges in the other States. But all honorable members representing New South Wales constituencies know of the methods employedby the labour exchanges of that State. Many regulations are in existence which debar men from registration. Under one of these regulations, if men refuse work, no matter what the grounds may be, their names are removed from the register. For instance, because men are not disposed to accept employment on afforestation work in what are called concentration camps, their names are removed from the list and they are denied a share in any other relief work. Often the reason for their refusal is that they have been asked to work under conditions that they do not consider decent. The Government has given us the assurance that any work to be undertaken under this bill must be carried out under award rates and conditions, and we think that , it would be consistent with that policy to insist that those men who have previously refused employment in respect of which award wages and conditions did not apply, and whose names have been removed from the lists at the exchanges, should not be excluded from the limited benefits of this appropriation. If the selection of the labour is left to the New South Wales bureau, these men will be debarred from participating. Another aspect of this matter is that, in New South Wales, State members of Parliament have privileges at the labour exchanges that are denied to federal members. Frequently, honorable members are called upon to make personal representations in connexion with cases of particular hardship, but their requests are not given the same consideration as are those of State members. Many cases are brought under our notice which win our sympathy and demand our best efforts, and we ask that we be not placed again at a disadvantage, in comparison with State members, in connexion with the employment to be provided from money voted by this Parliament. Every honorable member from New South Wales should support this request.
The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) suggested that when I was a Minister I exerted undue influence upon those controlling the allocation of employment and relief. I have never sought special consideration of any representations which I have made. The Works Director in Sydney is absolutely impartial and beyond suspicion, and it is unfair to suggest that he has been more friendly to me than to other honorable members. He has done his job faithfully and well, and his long experience in the department will enable him to exercise a wise discrimination in his selection of the men to be employed.
The Minister has said that all the work to be done will be fo.r the Commonwealth and that it will be supervised by Commonwealth officers. If that is so, what objection can there be to the Commonwealth itself recruiting the labour? Honorable members representing other States have the right to express what they consider should be done in their State, but my amendment is designed to ensure that the selection of the men in New South Wales shall not be left to the labour exchanges. The Assistant Treasurer has said that he has no information regarding the methods adopted by the labour exchanges in Sydney. Obviously, he could not be conversant with the methods operating in all States, nor could the Minister for the Interior, not being a representative of New South Wales, be expected to have knowledge of the conditions there. But almost every honorable member from New South Wales knows how these exchanges are conducted, and the difficulties associated with the distribution of relief work in that State. In the Works Director, at Sydney, the Commonwealth has a man whose qualifications and experience should enable him to make a wise choice, and if the selection of the men is left in his hands everybody will get a fair deal.
.- Under the New South Wales system of allocating work the metropolitan area is divided in a manner that yields unfair results. For instance, if work is to be . done at Mascot, the men to be employed will be drawn from the Cook and Barton electorates; if the work is to be carried out in East Sydney, the labour will be drawn from East Sydney and Wentworth only. Thus the workless in other metropolitan electorates will have no chance of securing employment. As only a small number of men will be employed the allocation of the work should be placed in the hands of the Works Director of New South Wales. A large number of persons, although unemployed, are not qualified to be registered at the labour bureaux. An unemployed man with an only child may have his name registered for work, but if his child is earning 15s. a week he is not eligible for work or sustenance. If there are two in the family and the income of the home is £1 a week, the father is again debarred. In this way the son or daughter earning the money and keeping the home, takes the place of the father as head of the household, and the home life of the family is disturbed. .1 hope that the Minister will consider the points that I have raised, and see that even in cases where more than the permissible income is being received into the home, the father will be entitled to share in this work. I hope the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) will control the work through his own department, and that it will be distributed through all the electorates according to the number of unemployed. Otherwise all the employment may be given to people in four of the metropolitan electorates. All the unemployed should have an equal right to share in the work irrespective of where it is to be carried out. If that is done, no criticism can be offered, and everybody will benefit. I ask the Minister to accept the amendment.
.- I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) which, I submit, is a very reasonable one. Under the present system the unemployed in New South Wales would not get a fair deal, because, as was pointed out by previous speakers, there are certain disabilities in connexion with the dole system. Many old people who are well beyond the pension age are maintaining sons of from 30 to 34 years of age, and it is not right that the earnings of these old people should debar the sons from participating in the proposed works The Government, in making this money available for Christmas relief, should at least set aside the State regulations concerning permissible income. One reason why I urge that the allocation of this money should be in the hands of the Commonwealth Works Director is that it would ensure the improvement of Commonwealth assets. Some Commonwealth properties in New South Wales are an eyesore. For instance, what is known as the War Museum in Prince Alfred Park in the City of Sydney is a standing disgrace. If it were the property of a private citizen, he would be called upon to remove it.
– The honorable member is departing from the subjectmatter of the clause.
– I am discussing the amendment moved by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), in which it is proposed that works carried out in New South Wales under this bill shall be controlled by the Commonwealth Works Director. In that State, there are many properties which are either owned or controlled- by the Commonwealth. Among these are several civil aviation landing grounds. At Cessnock, we have an Aero Club, which through me, has asked the Minister for Defence again and again to provide for the clearing of the landing ground there. Such a work would provide a lot of employment in a mining district where men have been unemployed longer than in most other parts of the State. I urge the Minister to set aside a portion of this money for clearing the Cessnock landing ground. In the vicinity of Adamstown, there is an area of 20 or 30 acres, which is used as a rifle range, and is owned by the Commonwealth Government. At the present time, some of the unemployed are camped in shacks on that area, which is covered with scrub, and in the event of fire the lives of the occupants of the shacks would be seriously endangered. The Federal Works Director could very properly spend money there and also at the Rutherford Military Training Camp, as well as in other parts of the State. It is unfortunately true that under the work-for-dole system in operation in New South Wales, many men have been penalized. If the supervision of this expenditure were placed in the hands of the Federal Works Director, those men would no longer suffer. I have heard of many thrifty people who, because they own a cottage other than that in which they reside, or have put by a little money for a rainy day, are not allowed to participate in the State work-for-dole-scheme. Where a total income of 15s. a. week is coming into a home, the head of the household, or others, although out of work, are not allowed under the permissible income regulation to work for the dole. That is grossly unfair.- This is a federal grant, and in its expenditure the State anomalies should be avoided. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will accept the amendment.
– I think the Minister in charge of the bill would shorten the debate if he would at once give an assurance that in the allocation of this money the permissible income principle as applied to State dole work will not operate. Under that system, if a man is residing with his father who is a pensioner, he cannot get sustenance relief work, although he might be 50 years of age. Surely such a condition is not to apply in respect of this federal grant.
– I said last night that it was understood that ruling rates of wages would be paid.
– But how are the men to be recruited?
– My point is that unless the Commonwealth Governm.eta.t- impresses on the State authorities that this system is not to operate it certainly will be applied. Will the Minister make it clear that ho does not desire that the means tests - under which the States fix the maximum permissible income of a family before any member of it can get relief work - shall apply?
– Under it a man cannot even register.
– He can register, but his number will never be called. There is a very real danger in this regard. I recognize the wisdom of using existing State machinery, but unless the Government notifies those who control that machinery that this money is not to be allocated on the ordinary work-for-dole methods, and that the maximum income system is not to apply, a serious wrong will be done. A man should be able to get work even if his two daughters or sons who live with him are working. Under the State system, a man out of work will not be taken on if he has sons or daughters who are living with him and are earning a total of £1 a week.
– Surely a man who has nothing coming in at all should have the first call.
– That is what we desire. Under the State system, a man cannot get relief work if there is coming into the home an income of £1 a week, earned by the members of his family, notwithstanding the fact that he may have five or six children to support. I hope the Minister will give the committee the desired assurance.
.- I urge the Minister not to follow the policy adopted by the States in regard to permissible income. Invalid and old-age pensions were granted to provide for ‘the maintenance of the pensioners themselves, yet these pensions are being taken into account by the States in their efforts to evade their proper responsibility in re- fard to the relief of the unemployed,nvalid and old-age pensions are included in permissible income, and in that way hundreds of men are debarred from participating in relief work. In Tasmania, only 50 per cent, of these pensions is taken into account, but in New South Wales and Victoria, the full amount is taken into consideration. Tasmania, therefore, has a more liberal policy in force. That is due to the recent change of government. The present Ministry is more sympathetic than were its predecessors which goes to demonstrate that the policy of Labour is better calculated than any other to relieve the unemployment problem. In urging that invalid and oldage pensions should not be taken into account in estimating permissible incomes, I do not say that other incomes should not be considered. A man who has no income whatever is in a worse position than another with a little money coming into his home. I am convinced that every man who has registered with the bureau in Tasmania will participate in the works for which this bill provides, whether the bureau be conducted by the Commonwealth or the State. As a matter of fact, the Federal Director of Works in Tasmania has no real knowledge of the unemployed situation there, and has no machinery such as that which the State has established.
– I am not asking that this system should apply to any State other than New South Wales.
– I agree with the honorable member that the situation in New South Wales, owing to the awful Stevens Government, is shocking. The deplorable position of New South Wales shows how necessary a change of government is. I ask the Minister to agree to the removal of the rifle range at Sandy Bay to Glenorchy.
– The honorable member is not in order in referring to that matter.
– The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) was permitted */» refer to several rifle ranges and military camps a minute or two ago, and as you saw fit to let him “ get away with it I do not know why you should stop me.
– Will the honorable member resume his seat? I remind him that it is not his province to argue with the Chair. The honorable member for Hunter’s reference to a rifle range which he suggested could be improved by the expenditure of a portion of the money for which this bill provides was relevant to the amendment.
– I have no desire to come into conflict with the Chair, but 1 thought I should be in order in referring to the Sandy Bay rifle range. I support the amendment.
.- I shall vote for the proposed new clause for the reasons given by other honorable gentlemen representing electorates in New South Wales. Circumstances exist in that State which make it imperative that some organization other than the State Labour Bureaux shall control the engagement of men for this work. The desire of the Government in regard to the employment of workers on these jobs must be subject to the provisions of the measure, and because unsatisfactory conditions exist in New South Wales we are agitating for definite instructions to be included in the bill. We fear that if the “ permissible income “ regulations which to-day operate in New South Wales are applied in the engagement of men for this work the expenditure of the money will have very little effect in providing extra Christmas income for them. The Stevens Government has appropriated to general purposes between £7,000,000 and £8,000,000 received from unemployment taxation, and we are afraid that unless great care is taken it will use the £60,000 now being provided for New South Wales for” Christmas relief, and not provide from its own resources the amount that it has already promised to provide. That is a very real and grave danger. This Government is making this small effort to afford additional work as Christmas approaches, and we do not desire to see its efforts defeated, miserable though they are. We are therefore doing our utmost to protect the workers from unfair treatment by the hostile Stevens Government. It will be a miscarriage of justice if Commonwealth money .provided for Christmas relief is used in such a way as to cause the Government of New South Wales to abandon its own proposals for a similar purpose. I do not say that this Government is deliberately seeking to help the Stevens Government to do an act of this kind, but if the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) declines to accept the proposed new clause I shall be compelled to think that that is his object. Unless care is taken to stipulate the exact conditions under which this money shall be spent, tens of thousands of unemployed people in New South Wales, who are not registered with the labour bureaux and not permitted to register, will be refused employment, and the circumstances” of thousands of other unemployed men who live just outside the metropolitan area will also bo adversely affected. It is impossible for honorable members who do not know the circumstances of New South Wales to conceive of the tragedy that has followed the malicious and vindictive persecution of the unemployed people of that State by the Stevens Government. Because we who represent New South Wales constituencies are aware of the facts of the case, we strongly support the proposed new clause. If the Assistant Treasurer is really desirous of helping the unfortunate people of New South Wales he will accept the new clause.
– I do not think that I need concern myself with the irresponsible remarks of the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) regarding the Government of New South Wales.
– His remarks are true.
– That is a matter which this Government is not called upon to determine. The money now being provided is for the purpose of increasing in a relatively small way the amount of work that is being done through the Commonwealth works branches in the various States every day of every week. Labour is being recruited continuously through these Commonwealth instrumentalities for repairs, maintenance and small extensions of buildings.
– Not through the Statebureaux!
– I have chosen my words carefully. All honorable members must agree that it is important that the hands of the Federal Government should not be tied. The proposals that we have made are fair and reasonable. The Commonwealth directors of works in the various States should be given a free hand to select men either from their own lists or those of the State labour bureaux as circumstances warrant.
– That is a new proposal.
– Not at all. The remarks of both the Minister for the Interior and myself, as reported in Hansard, will bear out my statement. In the circumstances I trust that the honorable member for West Sydney will not force the committee to vote on the proposed new clause.
.- The object of the proposed new clause is to overcome a difficulty for which we, the Opposition, are not responsible. There is an abundance of work necessary on Commonwealth properties in every electorate, and an abundance of labour available to do it. The unfortunate thing is that the Government has set aside only this miserable amount of £176,000 for the purpose. Because of the regulations operating in New South Wales many unemployed people there are unable to register with the State bureaux and cannot obtain either the dole or work for the dole. This is due, in some cases, to the fact that they have parents who receive an invalid or old-age pension or children who have just left school and started work. These people, unlike even the animals of the bush, are forced to live on their young. We, therefore, desire to assist them in some slight degree by ensuring that the work that will be put In hand through the passage of this bill may be made available to them. The Stevens Government intimated, in a press statement recently, that it intended to provide additional work for this section of thd unemployed prior to Christmas, but the statement was vague and so was the explanation of how t<he men would be called up. I fear that if this £60,000 is to be spent through the State labour bureaux of New South Wales the Stevens Government will use the money to provide Christmas work and not spend the amount that it had itself intended to provide for the purpose. As the honorable member for Werriwa has said, £3,500,000 collected last year in unemployment taxation has been appropriated for general purposes by the Stevens Government, and so the objects of the unemployment tax have been defeated. The Commonwealth Government has its own works branch in each State. It seems to me that these branches are something like the armies of some South American republics - all colonels and no rank and file; but each consists of a sufficiency of officers to supervise the expenditure of this money, and so they should be responsible for calling up the number of workers required. Although the Assistant Treasurer has said that award wages and conditions will be observed in the expenditure of this money, and that the vote represents 50,000 work weeks, I direct attention to the fact that on the only two occasions of co-operation between the Commonwealth Government and New South Wales Government in matters of this kind the State Government has insisted that the conditions applicable to dole works in that State shall apply to the Commonwealth works to be undertaken. That applied particularly to the building of the repatriation cottages. The Government of New South Wales insisted that if it were to build the cottages it should have control of the work from start to finish, and that the Commonwealth should not do more than find the money. I have no hesitation in saying that, unless steps are taken to prevent it, the same attitude will be adopted by the New South Wales Government on this occasion, if for no other reason than that it will be unwilling to give full employment to men engaged under tho federal relief scheme, when men working under the State scheme receive, perhaps, one day’s work a week, or three weeks’ work in five weeks. It is not likely that that Government would encourage discontent among the workers by having different systems in operation at the same time. As the Commonwealth is to provide the funds, it should call the tune. It has its own works branch to supervize the undertakings, and an abundance of work to be done, and it should, therefore, accept the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney, and ensure that the Commonwealth Works Director in New South Wales shall control the call-up and the distribution of the work.
– The Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) said that in this matter the usual practice will prevail. I do not know whether the Works Director has ever previously had anything to do with the State Labour Bureau in connexion with the engagement of labour for Commonwealth works. In all my dealings with him I cannot recall one instance in which he has mentioned the necessity to approach the State department in order to obtain men. My impression is that he has handled such matters himself. I realize that during recent years, very little Commonwealth work has been undertaken by day labour, and that, therefore, the director has not had much need to engage labour.
The Assistant Treasurer also said that the Works Director already has lists of men available for work. If that be so, I cannot understand why the State department should be consulted in the matter. My reason for desiring to exclude the State Labour Bureau is that it is governed by so many regulations, that many needy men would never have their names submitted as being available for employment. I shall be satisfied if the Minister will assure us that the Works Director himself will recruit the labour required.
– As the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) has expressed his appreciation of the fairness displayed by the Commonwealth Works Director in New South Wales, he has answered his own question. The Government does not propose to disturb the ordinary methods by which labour iB recruited. I understand that most of the works which have been undertaken by the Government during recent years have been carried out by contract, and that consequently little labour has been required directly by the Commonwealth. When men for day-labour jobs have been required, I understand that the Works Director in New South Wales has, from time to time, consulted with officials of the State Labour Bureau. The Government proposes to leave the recruitment of labour in the unfettered hands of the Director.
– Can the Minister say in what way the Director has made use of the State Labour Bureau?
– I am credibly informed that he has been in the habit- of availing himself of the facilities it provides.
– Would he be likely to disregard his own lists?
– I cannot answer that question. Apparently those honorable members who supported the amendment have every faith in the Commonwealth Works Director in New South Wales - a faith which, I am sure, is well founded. The Government merely proposes that he shall have unfettered discretion in the matter of engaging labour ; he will be free either to use his own lists or to avail himself of the facilities provided by the State department. It is desirable that there should be some uniformity in the methods adopted in the various States, and honorable members will realize that it would not be fair to apply throughout the Commonwealth the system in operation in one of the States. I regret that the Government cannot accept the amendment.
– Will the Government allow the Commonwealth Works Director to use his own discretion in the matter?
Proposed new clause - by leave - withdrawn.
.- Although it is immaterial to me where the money for the relief of unemployment is spent, I hope that, in the allocation of works to be undertaken in pursuance of its relief proposals, the Government will not overlook the desirability of removing to Glenorchy the rifle range now at Sandy Bay. Not only would this transfer help the unemployed of Tasmania, but it would also assist in the development of Hobart.
I should like to know to whom the subsidy for the construction of dips to control cattle tick in New South Wales will be paid. If it is intended to hand over the money to private enterprise, I enter my protest against money set aside for the relief of unemployment being so used. It would be better employed by increasing to £11,000 the sum allocated to Tasmania. In this connexion I register my protest, also, against the unfair treatment of that State, with its 5,000 unemployed, compared with the Federal Capital Territory, where only 800 are out of work. This unfair distribution is further evidence that Tasmania is never treated . fairly by the Commonwealth. Would I be in order, Mr. Chairman, in moving that the £6,000 set down as an additional subsidy for the construction of dips for the control of cattle tick be allocated to Tasmania instead of being paid to wealthy cattle-owners in New South Wales?
– Such an amendment would not be in order.
– I protest against the misuse by the Commonwealth of money allegedly set aside for the purpose of relieving unemployment. In my opinion, it is unconstitutional to take money from the Consolidated Revenue and hand it over to private enterprise.
In renovating the Hobart post office I hope that the Government, in addition to painting the woodwork, will see that the stone of the building is cleaned.
.- Will the £176,000 be spent mainly on wages, or will a large proportion of it be used for the purchase of material? A glance at the schedule suggests to me that the 50,000 hours of work, which ‘the Minister yesterday promised would be provided, will not be realized. The first item relates to “ repairs and maintenance of buildings and equipment.” My acquaintance with the building and allied trades makes me certain that work of this description cannot be done without considerable expenditure on materials. In building work, a man will use material to a greater value than the sum which he will draw in wages. Drainage works are included, but it is not clear whether this refers to open drainage or ordinary pipe drainage. If it be the former, the cost of materials would not be great, but the cost of materials for pipe drainage would be greater than the amount spent on wages. Fencing is to be undertaken, and any workman will use fencing material costing three times as much as the amount of his wages. The item includes the reconstruction and repair of bridges, and that work also will require a considerable amount of material. Item 2 provides for “ Additions to, and alteration and extension of, buildings and works services.” That work will necessitate a large expenditure on material, and if the Government desires, to provide the maximum amount of employment, it should dispense with a number of the proposals mentioned in the schedule. The cost of materials for the works to which I have referred would be four or five times as great as the amount that would be spent on wages.
– These works have been selected, so far as possible, because of the amount of labour they will provide in proportion to the cost of the materials required.
– The amount to bc appropriated under Item 1 is £65,300, of which a large sum will be required for materials, so I fear that the actual expenditure on wages will not be so great as was promised by the Minister yesterday. I should like to know precisely what proportion of the vote will be available for wages.
.- I am raising no objection to the proposals outlined in the schedule, but I desire certain information regarding one of them. The last item reads “Additional subsidy for construction of dips for cattle tick control (New South Wales), £6,000.” Apparently, the whole of this sum is to be spent in New South Wales, but I draw attention to the fact that wages awards in rural industries in that State have been suspended. I am anxious to know the rate of wages that will be paid for this work. I take it that the dips will be constructed on private property, and I am wondering whether the workmen employed will be paid through government channels, or by the persons for whom the dips are to be constructed. If a government official distributes the money, no doubt the men will at least receive the basic wage; but, if the rate of pay is to be determined by private employers in rural industries, there will be nothing to prevent them from fixing a totally inadequate rate of remuneration, in which case the Government will be subsidizing; sweating. Will the Minister give an assurance that in the expenditure of this £6,000 a fair wage will be paid? Will, a government official have charge of ihepaysheet, or will the wages be handed out by individual land-holders?
.- Are weto understand now that the WorksDirector is to select the works to be carried out under thisbill? I again draw the Minister’s attention to a proposal, which. I have mentioned in this chamber from time to time, that the Defence Department should go ahead with the clearing of the aerodrome at Cessnock. I ask that this be included in the list of works to» be undertaken under this bill. It is .the policy- of the Defence Department to subsidize civil aviation companies and aeroclubs, which assist to train pilots. If the necessity arose, as in time of war, the Cessnock aerodrome would be availableto the Defence Department. I have been urged by the Aero Club at Cessnock, and the Cessnock Municipal Council, to» request that a sum of money be madeavailable to put this aerodrome in order. The site has been very favorably reported upon by the Director of Civil Aviation,, and I ask the Minister to give an assurance that he will recommend to the Works Director that this work be carried” out under this grant.
– The works have been already selected, and a brief list of the principal works proposed to be undertaken is being embodied in Hansard.
– Expenditure on the clearing of the aerodrome at Cessnock would be almost entirely for wages; very little money would be required for material or equipment. I would like the Minister to give favorable consideration to this proposal, as it has agitated the minds of members of the Cessnock municipal and Kearsley shire councils.
– A number of works of that character is already included in the list.
– Will this work be included? The honorable gentleman has been good enough to tell the House that the Hobart post office will be renovated. Can he be equally definite in respect to my request?There are several government buildings in my electorate which are in a very dilapidated state; amongst them are the drill halls at Maitland, Kurri Kurri, and Cessnock The rifle range at Adamstown, which is government property, and covers an area of 20 to 30 acres, also needs clearing. At present this area is an eyesore. In respect of government ‘ expenditure, the people in my electorate have suffered worse than any other section; but, because honorable members on this side of the House are not in the happy position of holding the fate of the Government in their hands, as members of the Country party are, we get no concessions of this nature. These people have merely to plead for the wheat-farmers, and the Government will rush to throw them anything in order to retain their support. Practically half the Ministry of three weeks ago was sacked, in order to make room for representatives of the Country party.
– This bill provides a subsidy for the construction of cattle dips in the electorate represented by the Deputy Prime Minister (Dr. Earle Page). Is it possible for any other representative to get such a concession? The people in the Hunter electorate have suffered much from government neglect in the past, and I think it is time that they were given better treatment. The provision made for the construction of cattle dips in the Deputy Prime Minister’s electorate brings the total grant for New SouthWales under this bill to £65,900. I have already said that that amount is quite inadequate to meet the needs of the unemployed in that State, but it is particularly unfair to allocate a sum of £6,000 to be expended in one electorate, because the right honorable gentleman representing it holds the fate of the Government in his hands. I ask the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) to give serious consideration to my request. Can he indicate now that he will recommend to the Works Director that at least some consideration will be given to the clearing of the Cessnock aerodrome and the other works I have mentioned?
had previously been raised by other honorable members and had already been answered.
– The proposal to clear the Cessnock aerodrome had not been raised before.
– My answers to questions raised by other honorable members covered proposals similar to the Cessnock request. For the information of the honorable gentleman, I repeat that, by direction of the committee, a list of the principal works proposed to be undertaken under this grant is being published in Hansard (vide page 522). It is extensive, and I am unable to sayoffhand that the item referred to by the honorable gentleman is included, but it does embrace works of the same general character as that indicated by him. However, I shall give the honorable gentleman the assurance that the Cessnock aerodrome proposal will be considered before the list is completed.
Sitting suspended from 6.16 to8 p.m. [Quorum formed.]
– The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini), and other honorable members, have criticized the proposed expenditure of £6,000 as an additional subsidy for the construction of dips for the control of cattle tick in New South Wales. From what has been said there would appear to be animpression amonghonorablemembers opposite that the farmers on whose places these dips will be constructed will themselves carry out the work, and determine the wages to be paid. The work will be carried out under the supervision and according to the requirements of the commission controlling cattle tick. For the most part the construction will be of concrete, and will be done by artisans accustomed to that class of work. The men will be paid the usual award rates.
.- It is many years since the first attempts were made to eradicate cattle tick, and some honorable members are, no doubt, aware of certain aspects of tie earlier activities. “When the meat works were established on the Clarence for the purpose of handling cattle from the northern areas of New South Wales, the dips constructed for the control of cattle tick were somewhat different from those in use in Queensland, the cattle being subjected to sudden immersion instead of being compelled to pass through a race containing water. Some people contend that more harm was done to the cattle industry by dipping them in that way than would have been done. had no attempts been made to combat the pest. It has been stated that some inspectors, in order to keep their jobs, were in the habit of carrying ticks about in match boxes and putting them on the cattle.
On many occasions I have complained of the inadequate financial provision for the construction of new, and the maintenance of existing, post offices in my electorate, which is an extremely busy one. I have particularly impressed on successive Ministers the foolishness of housing the constructional staff in Newcastle in a building belonging to a shipping company, which over a period of several years has received a rental of £70 a week. I understand that the amount has been reduced more recently, but since the constructional staff was first housed in that building the Government has paid away sufficient money, in the form of rent, to have erected an additional story on the main building. The original building at Stockton is still being used. So inconvenient are the arrangements there, that people having postal business to do pass it and do their business in the main office in Newcastle. Many’ years ago the department selected a central site for the Stockton office, and steps were taken for the erection of a post office, but nothing has been done from that day to this. The housing of the unemployed at the Nobbys camp is a disgrace to the State Government. Some better arrangement should be made immediately. Some time ago I submitted a proposal for the erection of a new customs house on the site of the old police station, and suggested that the Commonwealth Bank should occupy the frontage. That would have been an excellent arrangement.
It would have given entire satisfaction to the people, but I regret to state that it was not adopted, with the result that the Commonwealth Bank is now in a side street and the old customs building is in a very dilapidated condition. I hope that the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) will bring under the notice of the Government the matters which I have mentioned, with a view to action being taken to put an end to the present waste of public money in my electorate.
:- I understand that the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has promised the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) that the Hobart Post Office will receive attention. Can he inform me if any money has been allocated for expenditure in my electorate?
– Nothing has been included in the schedule following the representations of honorable members during this debate ; the schedule has been completed and will be available to honorable members shortly.
– There is a great deal of distress among the unemployed in my district. I, therefore, hope that the Government will arrange with the shire councils to expend any money that may be available on reproductive works which will be carried out under the supervision of those bodies. Municipal councils are in a position to put works in hand immediately, and will see that the money is expended to the best advantage.
– I hope that the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) will indicate in what direction the money allocated is to be spent in Victoria. Being unaware of the details of works proposed, honorable members are at a disadvantage in discussing the schedule. Roads in my district have been very badly cut up by heavy wagons belonging to the Defence Department. People who are living in the vicinity of those roads, as well as others who use them, are anxious to know what steps are being taken to effect repairs. We have been told that the detailed schedule of works will be issued later. The Assistant Treasurer’s statement indicates that all the information is in his possession, but apparently he is reluctant to supply it to honorable members. The Footscray Council in my electorate has, within its boundaries, a considerable area of Commonwealth property from which it obtains no revenue in the form of rates, although, as I have stated, the roads are badly damaged by Defence Department lorries travelling to and from the cordite factory and the munition works. A considerable sum of money could be spent profitably on those roads. If the Assistant Treasurer wishes to expedite the passage of this bill, he should furnish honorable members with the information for which they have been asking. If money has not been allocated for this purpose, I hope that early consideration will be given to the need for expenditure on these urgent works.
. Can the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) say if provision is being made for those unfortunate people who were driven from their homes by recent floods in the Kensington district? They have been very badly treated by the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works and the local council, which levies rates upon them, but have not afforded relief in any shape or form.
– I trust that, when this money is being allocated, consideration will be given to the claims of the road to the aerodrome at Maylands, Western Australia, over which a good deal of Commonwealth traffic passes. It is too great a burden on the municipality to be obliged to keep it in repair.
– Assistant Treasurer) [8.16].- It may save the time of the committee if T repeat one or two of the principal considerations that have actuated the Government. I have already mentioned them at least twice; but apparently some honorable members are not aware of them. This afternoon, in committee, I gave the assurance that the Government would, by leave, incorporate in Hansard a schedule of the principal works those estimated to cost over £1,000, to which this appropriation is to be allocated (vide page 522). The full schedule contains a very large number of relatively small works, covering about twenty closely-typed pages. The committee accepted my assurance, and I hope that the list will be available within the next couple of hours.
At the same time I mentioned the two obvious considerations that had determined the Government in the selection of these works. The first is the particular areas in which there is concentration of unemployment; and the second, those works that lend themselves to quick organization, and do not require detailed plans and specifications that might take several weeks to prepare. No consideration was given to electorates or to individual representations. To those honorable members who have quite properly made representations on behalf of their electorates, I would say that it is quite impossible for the Government to revise its plans at this late stage. I therefore ask that those claims be not pressed. As I said earlier, the bill is not of major consequence, but deals with a relatively small .portion of the Government’s large works programme. I hope that the measures making more extensive provisions that we propose to bring down later do not take proportionately as long to dispose of. I ask honorable members opposite to be good enough to accept what they must admit is an adequate explanation, and let the bill pass.
.- The Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) would meet with more success with his legislation if he were to supply to honorable members a schedule of the works that are proposed, so that they might arrive at an intelligent decision and press the claims of their electorates. The honorable gentleman stated that this amount of £176,000 is to be allocated to areas in which the largest number of unemployed are congregated; consequently only the bigger towns and cities will benefit from the expenditure. Since the press announced that the Government intended to launch out on a big scheme for the relief of unemployment, I have received numerous telegrams and letters seeking assistance. The unemployed in Normanton may represent 25 per cent, of the population, which is comparatively small, yet they will be overlooked in the allocation of this expenditure. People who live in the back-blocks have to contend with bad seasonal conditions, the low price of wool, and restricted exports of meat. Spread over the 300,000 persons who are suffering from unemployment, the amount proposed to be expended will not work out at 10s. each. The other day I made application to the Department of Defence for the alteration of the site of the aerodrome at Winton, which is on the England to Australia air mail route. That town has been cut out because the Air Force officials say that it does not possess an all-weather aerodrome. At a distance of one mile from the old site is a ridge upon which aeroplanes could land in all kinds of weather. Because the Government will not expend £200 or £300, airmen piloting large aircraft have to risk their lives in flying from McKinlay to Normanton, an additional 150 miles, for a landing ground. If the whole of the £176,000 were utilized in the provision of temporary landing grounds, the money would be put to a useful purpose. Aviation is of considerable benefit to those who live in the outback portions of this vast continent. The monsoonal season extends from December until the end of March, and those who are engaged in the pastoral industry, and are hundreds of miles from their nearest neighbours have to depend upon the Australian aerial medical service for medical attention during that period of the year. Within the last two or three years, as honorable members who represent country constituencies are aware, the Government has shown a tendency to restrict the development of telephonic facilities. The residents of country districts are given a mail service if they are prepared to subsidize the mailman, yet there is a letter delivery twice daily in the cities. In asking honorable members to pass the bill without knowing what amount is to be allocated to each electorate, the Assistant Treasurer is seeking too great a concession. Only a few days ago, the same thing happened in connexion with another bill. The honorable gentleman claimed that he had given information to the committee; yet, in the next breath, he said that he did not possess it. If that were so, how could he give it? Can he say if there is to be a loan or a grant for that absolutely necessary work, the transfer of the aerodrome from the old site at Winton to a new site on which aeroplanes could land in all kinds of weather. Earlier in the day I asked what was proposed in regard to expenditure in that half of Queensland which I represent. It contains 58,000 electors, who render just as valuable service to the community as those who live within a mile of the General Post Office in Sydney or Melbourne.
– What about the Brisbane General Post Office?
– Or the BrisbaneGeneral Post Office. The percentage of unemployment is as high in that electorate as in any other part of the Commonwealth, although it is more scattered, than in some electorates. I consider that I am entitled to this information. It is the duty of the Opposition to keep at the Minister until he supplies the necessary particulars. Christmas will be here before my constituents learn that the Government has given this miserable Christmas box of £176,000. I have been told* that a schedule of .works has been published in the newspapers. I have complained previously about newspapers being supplied with information beforehonorable members were informed of what was being done. If that practice iscontinued, the Government will antagonize not only the Opposition but also its own supporters. What has the honorablemember for Moreton (Mr. Francis) to say about the press report concerning the removal of certain charges on imported bananas ? Is he content to sit idly by and allow the press of this country to establish a dictatorship over the Cabinet? We are entitled to this information. I ask Queensland representatives of atf parties to stand for the principle that this House should be furnished with thefullest information regarding any measure brought before it. Three hours ago I appealed to the Minister for information, and he had not even the courtesy to give me a reply. Surely the Government does not propose to spend £176,000 of Commonwealth money without knowing what it is to be spent on. Evidently those in charge of the Commonwealth Works Department have fallen down on their job. Why should this information be kept from the public? The press has stated that three weeks from next Friday the present session of Parliament will finish. We may meet again for six weeks: during February and March, and thenthere will be a procession of Ministers: overseas, while the House will be in recess until the following August. We are, therefore, entitled to ask for complete information before we leave regarding :the policy of the Government. Parents want to know what the future before their children is likely to be. The public wants to know the Government’s policy for the abolition of unemployment, not merely its relief. The Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) stated in his first speech that he had only become a member of the House a few weeks before, -and pleaded that as the excuse for being unable to supply information asked cif him. He has now had long enough in which to become acquainted with the “Government’s policy, and we are entitled to an announcement from him. Some “honorable members may look on this subject of unemployment as a joke, but it is no joke to the man who has camped for months under a bridge, or to a man who nas had to keep moving from one police station to another in order to draw rations. Unless some helpful proposal emanates from this National Parliament, we cannot much longer expect the people to support parliamentary government. It is the duty of honorable members of all parties to co-operate in an endeavour to abolish the causes of unemployment.
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 16th November (vide page 404), on motion by Mr. Casey -
That the first item in the Estimates under Division I. - The Senate - namely, “ Salaries and allowances, £7,182,” be agreed to.
Upon which Mr. Beasley had moved by way of amendment -
That the item be reduced by 10s.
– I lave listened with much interest to the arguments presented by honorable members from both sides of the House when discussing the amendment before the Chair. The Government has been caustically criticized’ by some honorable members for having failed to bring forward a plan for the permanent solution of the unemployment problem. I join with other honorable members who have spoken in expressing a desire that this problem may be solved as quickly as possible. Unemployment is .an issue of paramount importance to-day, not only in this country, but also in every other country. Some of the criticism directed against the Government from the other side of the House, and even from this side, has, in my opinion, been unjustified. The Government has been charged with lethargy, and with viewing the situation with complaisancy. I have been a member of this House long enough to realize that many difficulties face a Cabinet when considering an issue of the magnitude of the present problem of unemployment. The Government has evolved practical proposals to alleviate the distress of those out of work, but honorable members will agree that it is impossible for a government, which has been in office for only five weeks, to present immediately to the chamber proposals for the complete abolition of unemployment. However, this Government has practical plans, and if honorable members-will wait until those plans are presented to the House, they will be astounded at their completeness. It is necessary, when preparing a programme of works for the relief of unemployment, to co-operate with the States. One of the major works in contemplation is the unification of railway gauges, and quite recently the Premier of Victoria, Sir Stanley Argyle, stated that he was opposed to the proposal, on the grounds that he objected to anythin’g which would increase the indebtedness of the railways. Thus, at the very beginning, we have the Premier of the State with the second largest population adopting an attitude in conflict with the Commonwealth Government’s plans. The honorable member for “West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) suggested that the borrowing programme of the Government should be expanded to provide for the raising of an additional £22,000,000; but I remind him that the unification of the railway gauges would involve the expenditure of just about that amount of money. It may be, of course, that the opposition of Victoria to the proposal will be overcome; but it is a serious check to encounter at the outset.
It has been stated by honorable members on both sides of the House that the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Stewart), who is administering the Government’s employment programme, should be a member of the Cabinet, and it has been suggested that there is something sinister in regard to his exclusion. The honorable member for Parramatta has voluntarily undertaken this work, and I feel sure that he would not have offered to do so unless he felt that he would be able to carry it out successfully under present conditions. I am certain that, if the honorable member eventually finds that he is being hampered by not being a member of the Cabinet, the Government will take steps to remedy the difficulty, so that everything may be done to enable the people to obtain the maximum of employment that industry has to offer.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) stated that no forward step had been taken towards the solution of the unemployment problem. I do not believe that the right honorable member was completely ignoring tall the evidence of improvement in regard to the unemployment situation as compared with the conditions that existed two and a half years ago. I think we may interpret his remarks to mean that, in his opinion, nothing has been done towards a permanent solution of the unemployment problem. I remember the right honorable member, as instigator of the Premiers plan, stating that if that plan were put into effect, it would constitute a step towards the solution of the problem of unemployment. That plan has now been earned through by the present Government, and we can point to a material improvement of the general situation. Some time ago I quoted figures which showed that Australia had moved further along the road of progress in this direction than any other country. A recent bulletin issued by the Economic Committee of the League of Nations makes it clear that Australia is leading the world in this respect. Some honorable members have suggested that the Government is only now awakening to the seriousness of the position ; but, if they will study, without prejudice, the Government’s record of the last two and a half years, ‘they must admit that, by its policy of restoring confidence, reducing taxation, balancing its budget, and assisting both the primary and secondary industries, the Government has laid a foundation of prosperity upon which it can now build with confidence and success.
The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson), who, unfortunately, is not in the chamber at the moment, made the suggestion that there are approximately 100,000 people in this country who will never again be re-employed. That, I suggest respectfully, is a defeatist attitude to adopt. There is always a normal labour residual in every country. It is not possible to eliminate unemployment entirely. In our most prosperous years unemployment has never been below 4$ per cent. In 1901 the proportion was from 6 to 7 per cent., and it was the same ten years after the war, but in 1911 it was 4.7 per cent. Taking the working population as two-fifths of the total population it will be found that at different periods there is always a certain number unemployed, not because of unsatisfactory economic conditions, but because of the intermittent nature of some classes of work such as the building trade. It is not always possible to provide continuity of work in such directions, and that is looked upon as “ labour residual,” which the honorable member for Macquarie may have had in mind.
If it was possible, as some honorablemembers contend, for the Government to bring in proposals to abolish unemployment immediately, such proposals would already have been introduced by other countries, which, not being subject to the democratic methods which prevail in Australia, should find it easier to apply them. I refer to countries such as Italy, Germany or Russia, where there is one individual in complete control. Yet those countries are not so far advanced as we are in the matter of dealing with unemployment.
The Government has also been caustically condemned for its borrowing policy. It is said that we are getting further and further into debt, and that unless we can_ overcome our troubles in some other way, we are heading to chaos.
I do not hold that view. I admit that we can borrow to excess, and that there are limits beyond which we cannot go, but I do not suggest that those limits have already been reached. Australia, in comparison with other nations, is only a young country. Those who have studied history know that every oldworld country borrowed in its early stages from its own people and from abroad in order to establish capital works, and develop its social services and natural resources. For example, in its early stages, the United States of America was one of the great debtor nations, but to-day it is one of the great creditor nations, receiving as it does £273,000,000 more than it pays out. In its early stages Australia has not borrowed relatively more than other countries. It is said that we should further expand our internal debt in preference to our external debt. It may be interesting to honorable members to learn that, whereas in 1901 our internal debt was only 14 per cent, of the whole ; by 1911 it had increased to 29 per cent.; while in 1934 it rose to 52 per cent. That is not a disadvantageous feature, because the internal debt provides revenue-producing assets which are not a total liability to the Commonwealth revenue. The internal debt is now £629,285,000, whereas the external debt is £593,273,000.
The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) condemned the Government for not floating the proposed loan at a lower rate of interest. I remind the honorable member that on Thursday, 15th November, the average yield from government stocks on the Australian market was £3 2s. 8d. per cent., and this loan will be raised at £3 0s. 5d. per cent. The honorable member for Cook must know that it would not be possible to float a loan at per cent, interest. Investors who could obtain a better return from other investments already listed would not subscribe to it. I shall direct the attention of honorable members to the yield obtained from leading Australian industrial stocks. The first factor to be considered in the investment of money is the security of the capital and an assurance of a reasonable return upon the capital invested. That is to say, the in vestor wants to obtain the highest rate of interest possible. When he looks down the list of industrial stocks and finds that, on account of the recent appreciation of values, chiefly due to the restoration of confidence, it is not possible to get more than from 3 to 4 per cent, on gilt-edged securities - his money is diverted to government stock. That is an answer to the claim of the honorable member for Fremantle that the fact that the bank advances had been substantially reduced as compared with a few years previously showed conclusively that industry was not reviving, and that honorable members on this side of the chamber were wrong in assuming that the re-establishment of confidence in this country had brought about development in our industrial undertakings. But I suggest to the honorable member that there are other factors to be considered. The reduction of private advances by the banks can be brought about in different ways, and in one particular instance by the fact that the wool-growers during last season received substantially increased wool cheques and were therefore able to reduce their overdrafts. If the honorable member for Fremantle desires a true reflection of the situation as it exists to-day, he should consider the position of current accounts. In times of stress and of darkened outlook it is the practice of investors to seek investment in fixed deposits in preference to leaving money on current “ account. In March, 1929, the fixed deposits of the trading banks in this country were valued at £175,700,000, while that in current account was £112,900,000. In 1932 the amount on fixed deposit had increased to £189,900,000, while that on current account had decreased to £91,800,000. In 1934 we find that the fixed deposits had been reduced by £1,000,000- to £188,500,000- while that on current account had increased to £101,900,000, an increase of £10,000,000.
– Current accounts might include overdrafts, which would obliterate the honorable member’s argument.
– That is not a correct statement of the position, because in 1932 the fixed deposits had increased by £13,700,000, while the current accounts had decreased by £21,100,000. In 1934 the position, as I stated, was reversed.
The increase of current accounts was £10,000,000. That argument is supported by the Economist, a leading British financial publication. In its latest issue reference is made to the increase of deposits on current account as a true reflection of the increase of the general turnover in business enterprises.
The honorable member for Cook referred to the fact that other countries could borrow at a lower rate of interest that Australia is called upon to pay. I refer him to Russia, which has already tried out the new-fangled ideas which he and other honorable members suggest. The Moscow News of the 2nd June, 1934, contains an advertisement inviting subscriptions to a loan at 7 per cent. That is a loan, not for 40 years, as is the case in connexion with the Commonwealth loan, but for a period of ten years only. Moreover, it can be repaid at call. “Why has not Russia, which exercises complete control over the whole of its monetary resources and has introduced nationalization of banking and those credit-manufacturing methods that are suggested by honorable members opposite, resorted to manufacturing and expanding credit instead of issuing a loan at 7 per cent., at call, for ten years? That is a direct reply to the claim that credit can be manufactured in abundance out of nothing.
– That loan was subscribed to by the workers of Russia.
– If the honorable member will read the advertisement, he will find that it invites subscriptions not only from the Russian workers, but also from persons in other countries.
Honorable members opposite have stated that there are other methods of solving these problems. For instance, they suggest that the powers of the Commonwealth Bank should be extended until the complete control of banking is in the hands of the people. The honorable member for Cook stated at Redfern on the 21st August last that until credit is taken out of the hands of the private banking institutions and placed in the hands of the people, our difficulties cannot be overcome. He will not deny that statement, which he has made on many occasions. I do not believe that there can be any such thing as the public control of finance. It is not possible to take the financial system out of the hands of private institutions and place it in the hands of the people. Public control means governmental control; that is control by individuals. If ever the time arises in this country when our financial resources are taken over completely by the State under a system of socialization, our credit will be destroyed. I have given a considerable amount of study to the subject of credit, so glibly spoken of by some honorable members opposite. There are only three ways in which a government can raise money - first, by taxing the people, which is the prerogative of government, and honorable members will admit that there is a limit in that regard; secondly, by borrowing, and, as I said earlier, there is also a limit in that direction, and thirdly, by increasing the note issue. The cash reserves of the Commonwealth Bank and of the trading banks are the controlling factor of the extension of credit, and if honorable members opposite desire to introduce the policy which they have suggested they will have to increase taxation, increase borrowing, increase the note issue, or change the present system. I do not think their policy would be along the lines of increased taxation, and they have already said that they would not borrow as this Government is doing, although the honorable member for “West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) has stated that it is his desire to increase the borrowing by this Government by £22,000,000. One argument is, therefore, the complete negation of the other.
– I merely asked the Government to give effect to its mandate.
– It has done so, and I believe that the borrowing of this money will substantially alleviate the distress of the unemployed. In respect of the third alternative, an increase of the note issue, if applied to an excessive degree, it would result, in uncontrolled inflation. I should like honorable members to consider this aspect of the creation of credit: It is definitely limited by certain f actors - first, the demand for credit; secondly, the volume of the cash reserves; and thirdly; the prospects of the borrowers. And the basis of the whole financial structure is confidence. 1 do not believe that it is possible to socialize credit in the same way as we might, for instance, socialize coal. “Whatever legislation is introduced in regard to the socialization of coal, it could not affect the quality or quantity of the coal taken from the bowels of the earth. Such legislation might merely provide that the coal should be extracted by a different method and distributed to the user in a different way. But we could not apply the same methods to the socialization of credit. “What would happen if the Government proposed to socialize credit? It would be quite easy to take over the private banking institutions as they are to-day, but what of the lifeblood of the business community, the liquid capital, which I may liken to the lubricating oil of a machine. The depositors of this country are not prepared to allow a socialist government to take control of their savings and permit the liquid capital of the country to be drained away to the increasing detriment of industry *and trade. During the Lang regime in New South “Wales, in my wool and skin-buying business, I was directly responsible for purchasing over £20,000 worth of produce in order to get money away from Australia. It entailed no difficulty; it could be done overnight. Supposing a man told me that he desired £10,000 worth of wool. “When the wool is bought it is shipped overseas and sold on the London market, and £10,000 less costs, is credited to my client as a deposit in, say, the Midland Bank. In this way millions of pounds were exported during the regime of the Lang Government. Immediately following a run on the cash reserves of the trading banks, it would be absolutely impossible for the Commonwealth Bank to issue sufficient credit to meet the requests of depositors. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) has stated that there is only £50,000,000 of available legal tender in this country. There is nothing abnormal in that. The fact that people have confidence -in the banking institutions clearly demonstrates that they believe, that it is not necessary to call in their deposits, and so the system of the creation of credit by banks is made possible. In the early stages of credit expansion, when industry and commerce were of small dimensions, it was not necessary to create credit to the same extent as is required to-da.y. Moreover, as scientific innovations were adopted by industry to a greater degree than previously, it was found necessary to extend the resources of the banking institutions to meet the increased volume of trade, and consequently bankers found that they could with perfect safety increase the amount of credit available to an extent equal to nine times their cash reserves. This has made it possible for industry to develop, and it is the aim and object of those controlling our financial destinies to-day to find ways and means of placing 3till greater .purchasing power in the hands of the people. Our present financial system is not immutable. In this country’s darkest hour, when it was found that the deficits of the States were growing to enormous dimensions, the Commonwealth Bank issued treasury-bills to overcome the difficulty. This was somewhat unprecedented; it was unorthodox; but at the same time it proved conclusively the elasticity of the system and proves that it has evolved with the times. The Commonwealth Bank, by issuing treasurybills to finance government deficits enabled the unused resources of the trading banks to be put into immediate circulation. To overcome this problem it could have printed notes, hut, without a corresponding increased volume of goods, this would have meant a rise in price levels and a subsequent de-valuation of wages, which must inevitably have been followed by further unemployment. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) mentioned that fact, and said that, in a period of credit expansion, the price level was a safety valve which had to be watched.
In reply to the suggestion of some honorable members that an increase in the note issue would solve our problems, I should like to present some interesting statistics which show the fallacy of this argument. In 1929 the note issue was £45,000,000-
– Why not go back to 1925, the peak year?
– Very well. In that year it was £55,000,000; to-day it is somewhat lower than £50,000,000. But, owing to the velocity of trade, and the extent to which money was being turned over, it was found that it would be quite possible to decrease the note issue ‘ without any possibility of disadvantageous results. As prosperous conditions developed, the note issue was reduced, until in 1929 it stood at £45,000,000. In 1932, the most difficult period of our financial crisis, it rose to £50,660,000. It was greater then than in more prosperous years. The same condition of affairs exists in connexion with the note issue of the United States of America to-day. On the 30th January, 1928, it stood at $4,797,000,000, whereas on the 8th March, 1933, during the worst period in the history of the American nation, it stood at $7,538,000,000, notwithstanding the fact that at that time there were 14,000,000 persons unemployed in that country.
The system under which we are working to-day is not perfect; no system is perfect. We should not have evolved to our present state of progress if, at any time in our history, all of our citizens had been satisfied with the conditions prevailing in their day. It is only by the efforts of those who have endeavoured to ameliorate the conditions of mankind that we have evolved to our present stage. And our progress has been one of evolution. Our financial system will change; we are always changing; at no period have we remained stagnant, and each move forward by the process of evolution has always been to the advantage of the nation as a whole. The reason why I sit on this side of the chamber in preference to the other side is because I believe in a process of evolution rather than revolution. The latter is a distinct inhibition to progress, and must inevitably result in disaster to any nation. By all means let our present system be altered if it is found necessary to do so, but let us evolve slowly; let innovations be accepted only after due and mature consideration. A fool can destroy in a day that which takes centuries to build. It is not difficult to undermine the stability, which, at the present time, forms the bulwark of our financial structure. This generation has just passed through the worst war on record, involving this nation in the greatest economic crisis in its history; and just as the clouds are lifting, just when we are emerging from our difficulties, to ask this Government to take the course that has been suggested by honorable members opposite would place us a long way back on the road to prosperity. If financial experiments are to be undertaken, let some other and older country make them. It would be quite reasonable to suggest that Russia should adopt the proposal of some honorable members opposite, and see how it fares. As a matter of fact, some of these proposals were adopted by Russia, but conditions became so bad that Lenin was forced to introduce his new economic policy, which was really a reversal to the old financial system of the Czarist regime laid down by De Witte. If Russia had not adopted the financial policy advocated by honorable members opposite, it would have been in the same financial position as this country to-day; it would have been able to borrow money at a little over 3 per cent.
Is it not reasonable to suggest that in the consideration of this important and national problem the Government should be given a little more time? If honorable members will do that, they will not be disappointed. The honorable member for West Sydney has said that the Government has already had three years in which to formulate a policy. I remind him that during that period enormous difficulties have had to be faced, and it was not possible to do what it will be possible to do in the coming three years. We have established a solid basis on which to work, and if we can progress in the next three years to the same extent as in the last three years, I am sure the unemployment figures will be materially reduced. This Government will then have done something in the interests of the nation as a whole of which it may well be proud. -
.- I voted against the *mendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin), and I propose to vote against the amendment moved by the honorable member for
West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). Such amendments have no advantage over, and are less practicable than, the Government’s proposals, and are, of course, merely the carrying out of the Opposition’s imagined obligation to oppose, or a gesture of attempting to take the business of the House out of the Government’s hands and substituting the policies submitted by the two Labour parties which were turned down by the people of Australia at the election. When we analyse the position to-day, we find that the unemployment position has been improved, and half of the abnormal increase of 20 per cent, in the unemployment figures has been wiped away. Loan money is easily procurable to-day at half the interest rates ruling four years ago, while, in three years, the people’s savings have increased as shown by fixed deposits and savings banks accounts to the extent of £32,000,000. I do not deny that we are in a better position, and we would like to accelerate our recovery, but I would remind honorable members that frequently the tortoise has beaten the hare in the race. As far as our financial position is concerned, I submit that it demands care, and however much we might desire to restore pensions and salary cuts it must not be forgotten that every penny distributed in this way must come from the pockets of the taxpayers. We all realize that the burden of taxation is almost crushing industry to-day, yet an examination of the budget shows that in respect of practically every department the Estimates for the coming year provide for an increase in the proposed outlay of the present Government. In only three departments - those of the Prime Minister, the Treasury and War Repatriation is there any reduction. If one aggregates the increases and deducts the decreases one finds that the proposed expenditure for the coming year is £2,385,000 more than was expended last year. We have to face the fact that although last year the wealth production of Australia fell to £345,000,000, nearly £100,000,000 less than the 1925-30 average, federal taxation was £6,000,000 more than it was in 1930. This year, with the price of wool down, with the prospect of a very much smaller wheat crop, and decreases in other products, our wealth production will show a further decline of £25,000,000. Still taxation remains the same. The Commonwealth debt position also sounds a note of warning. When we analyse it we find that, although there has been a saving of £7,000,000 by the postponement of our British war debt PaY: ments, although £6,000,000 more has been taken from the taxpayers pockets, although we have saved £3,500,000 in our interest bill through internal and external conversions; and notwithstanding that by means of the national debt sinking fund the national debt has been reduced by £1,500,000 - which gives a total advantage . of £18,000,000- our federal debt is only £4,000,000 less than it was last year. On the one hand we have an advantage of £18,000,000; on the other the federal debt has decreased by only £4,000,000. In such circumstances great care must be exercised in dealing with national finance.
Coming to the question of unemployment, I was extremely sorry tq hear the honorable member for Macquarie speak in such a pessimistic tone last week. I cannot share his pessimism. Australia is not at a dead end. The more one travels, the more one recognizes what a wonderful heritage we have. Australia is not one-tenth developed. It could feed and clothe ten times its present population. The biggest hurden it has to carry is the excessive taxation which is interfering with employment. Take the interest rates ruling to-day - 3 per cent, on gilt-edged Commonwealth securities, and yet on industrial and rural securities the general rate is 5 per cent. Why this difference? Is the risk so much greater? Is there a 66 per cent extra risk in respect of industrial and rural securities? I think not. There is some extra risk, I admit, but quite a big proportion of this margin is due to the excessive income tax and property tax charged by the Government on income received from these sources.
As to the suggestion made’ by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) that a solution would be found in Labour’s proposal that the Government should “Raise the people’s living standard and provide them with more purchasing power “, I hold that with borrowing overseas at an end, such a thing could only be brought about by inflation. It must not be forgotten that there is a time limit to inflation, and that any attempt of the kind would be followed by a flight from the pound such as happened on the continent. There are some so obsessed with what they term, in their loose and lucid language, “ the drawing on the national credit “, that they fail to recognize that history has proved that the upward reaction of prices and living costs must rapidly discount and may even whittle away the whole of the advantages. They fail to recognize that most of the credit in the community belongs to individuals. “When the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) so strongly denounced what he described as our “ obsolete economic system “, which he said was still maintained by practically every country in the world, I v/as reminded of the old lady who, describing the march past of the army, said: “ Was’nt it funny; every one of them was out of step except my John”. “We have to recognize that the aggregate power of the Commonwealth is the power to tax. It cannot increase the purchasing power of the community. Honorable members opposite fail to appreciate the fact that when we deduct our national debt from our national assets, the margin is limited. The national credit is merely the power to tax and this is limited by the people’s production and’ prosperity. Surely we should be warned by the experiences and disasters that followed inflation on the Continent. If £345,000,000 is the aggregate value of production in Australia, and £25,000,000 of that amount has to be sent away to meet our interest commitments overseas, then no government can increase the £320,000,000 that is left to divide among the community. We have bo admit that confidence in the Australian currency has been maintained only because of its freedom from political control. Nothing would more quickly wreck the financial fabric of the country than to allow politicians to dominate the currency and demand finance to put their respective policies into effect. Immediately such a power were given, confidence in our currency would be reduced. We should have a flight from the pound, and it would not be long before we arrived at the position reached on the Continent, when Austria, Germany and Poland took that course. Those who are advocating such a solution should be able to point, by way of illustration, to at least one country where the adoption of such a system has enabled it to reach a better position than Australia occupies to-day. If they could do that, we might be inclined to take more notice of them.
Another point with regard to economics relates to the policy of the Militant Minority Movement as outlined by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden). The honorable member said -
There will be no solution of this country’s problems until we substitute a policy of production for use, instead of the existing system of production for profit.
The sooner the honorable member recognizes that he is not addressing the unthinking multitude when speaking in this House, the better. He should be reminded of the New Australia movement of years (igo which sought to establish in South America a community based on these high ideals, but came ‘to nothing. For thousands of years the “ hope of reward “ has been the world’s greatest stimulus to energy and production, and is not likely to be changed. Does the honorable member imagine that human nature has become fickle? If he does then his view is different from that of the rest of the House. I have already dealt with wealth and purchasing power, but let me add that if we took away the right to have or be paid for services or production in excess of one’s needs there would rapidly be. a 50 per cent, reduction in production. And since it is only the wealth produced that can be divided among the people, I would ask: How can the honorable member reconcile his general advocacy of the raising of living standards with this doctrine which must inevitably reduce production, and so make it impossible?
I come now to the subject of wheat. For years wheat-growers have been the playthings of politicians. During the recent election campaign a representative of the Opposition who stood for Calare after having recited the various promises of his party asked, “ If that is not enough, what more oan we promise?” There has been a notable willingness by Labour candidates not carrying responsibility to promise everything for which the farmers ask in the hope of winning their votes. They are prepared to promise more interest reduction, the arbitrary writing clown of debts, a compulsory wheat pool, under growers’ control, a home price, a wool pool, in fact, anything for which the farmers like to ask. They cast cheap gibes at the Country party, but we know that only once during the last fifteen years has the farmer been paid a penny by Labour, and we have more confidence in our own method than to be side-tracked by Labour’s guile. We have pressed repeatedly for machinery to secure for wheat-growers a home consumption price. The Royal Commission on Wheat which was created as the result of pressure on the part of the Country party, supports our claim that the farmers are as much entitled to a home consumption price as are other sheltered industries. Tariffs cannot secure that. It can be secured only by excise or control, and the power to fix the home price. Under either of those methods those who used the wheat would pay ; yet in spite of their boasted willingness to support a home price for farmers, immediately an excise or flour tax is proposed to bring that about there is an uproar on the part of Labour. Their consistent inconsistency is confirmed by the Federal Labour party’s wheat policy as outlined by its deputy leader (Mr. Forde) on Thursday last.
– Why do you not manage your own business?
– We shall do so if we getthe power. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition last week in one breath said, “ The Labour party asks for a compulsory pool to give the necessary facilities to farmers to control their own business.” In the next breath he told us that the price would be fixed for wheat off the farm. He told us that the price of 4s. at ports, equal to 3s. 4d. at country sidings, would be fixed for three years for wheat for home consumption. Lastly he told us that no matter how much the farmers - to whom he extended his sympathy - had lost during the last five years, if the market rose and the price exceeded his figures, then half the excess would be retained by the Government.
– Would not the honorable member agree to that?
– I would not. If the honorable member was a farmer who had suffered a loss for the last five years, he would not agree to anything of the kind. If that is what the Labour party callsa compulsory pool under growers’ control, I should like to ask what the growers would control. The home consumption price would be fixed at 4s. at ports or 3s. 4d. at country sidings, which represents less than1½d. for the wheat in a 2- lb. loaf of bread. The Government would fix a price for the balance and would share in any price rise over a certain figure. The effect of these proposals would not be growers control, but government control of the - marketing of their wheat - the very thing the farmers do not want. In determining that 3s. 4d. a bushel at country sidings was a fair estimate of the cost of producing wheat, without allowing for any profit, the royal commission included only £125 as a cash wage for the farmer for his year’s work, his risk, and his skill. Yet this is the price which the Labour party considers should be fixed for three years for home consumption ! That, in my opinion, would be totally unfair. A further analysis of the suggested price of 4s. a bushel at ports for wheat for home consumption shows that this figure is1s. 3d. a bushel above the present price of 2s. 9d. a bushel for new wheat at ports. The quantity of wheat used for home consumption is, roughly, 32,000,000 bushels annually. That quantity, at1s. 3d. a bushel, represents £2,000,000. This amount, we are told, is to be paid by the consumers of bread. But it is only half the amount of £4,000,000 promised by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) if the price of wheat remains where it is. I submit that thereis no justification whatever for making. slaves of the farmers to provide cheap wheat for the millers, and cheap flour for the bakers. The millers and the bakers have not reduced their price for the work that they do, and in that circumstance, I contend that 2d. for the farmers - which is equivalent to 4s. 8d. a bushel at countrysidings - is not too much for the wheat in a 2-lb. loaf of bread. The Country party intends to fight to try to secure this reasonable recompense for the farmer for his work. The cost of milling the wheat and distributing the bread is not the responsibility of the farmers. If these costs are unduly high, a proper method should be found to reduce them. It is quite improper to condemn the farmer to slavery because other costs, which affect the price of bread, are unreasonably high. The farmer has been operating” for the last four years without profit, and it is time that his position was seriously reviewed and a home-consumption price secured.
I have dealt with the Labour party’s proposal for a compulsory wheat pool, and shown that it practically amounts to control by the Government, which is not desired by the farmers. I wish now to point out that even if a compulsory wheat pool really meant complete control by the wheat-growers, which is what I have consistently supported, many constitutional difficulties would be encountered in implementing that method of dealing with the industry. “We have to remember, first, that export trade is controlled by the Commonwealth Government; secondly, that trade within a State is controlled by the State governments ; and, thirdly, that the Commonwealth Constitution provides that trade between States shall be absolutely free. I do not imagine that great difficulty would be met in obtaining an affirmative vote from the farmers for a compulsory wheat pool ; but even after that were done, legislation would have to be passed by the Commonwealth and supported by all the State Parliaments to give effect to the vote. The Queensland Minister for Agriculture has intimated that the Queensland Government would not become a party to the establishment of such a pool. If a pool were established, we have to bear in mind that the farmers of central and northern New South Wales could continue their present practice of supplying the millers of Queensland with wheat. In view of all these difficulties, I contend that immediate relief should be given to the farmers by the imposition of an excise duty on wheat used for home consumption, the proceeds of which could be distributed through a farmer-controlled board which could recommend, from year to year, what it considered to be a fair processing tax, having regard to world prices for wheat. If this proposal were adopted, the wheat industry would he removed from the political cockpit.
I come now to the complicated problem of the rehabilitation’ of our rural industries. On the hustings the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) suggested that there should be an arbitrary writing down of farmers’ debts by legislation. I do not believe that the adoption of such a policy would be of any real assistance to rural industries. It would be more likely to have a boomerang effect, for it would immediately take away from those engaged in rural industries the possibility of obtaining credit. If this occurred, the result would be chaotic. Even the more moderate but bald proposal of the Opposition to raise £12,000,000 immediately for the wiping off of debts seems to me to be politically crude, and I cannot support it. The urgent need of rural industries at present is the provision of proper machinery for rehabilitation, and not the finance itself. If the Government would introduce an amendment of the Bankruptcy Act to remove the stigma of bankruptcy from farmers who, through no fault of their own, voluntarily make compositions with creditors, and if it would at once co-operate with the State governments to devise machinery which would make such compositions easy to effect, many financial difficulties would disappear, for it would then be . comparatively easy for the Government to raise the money required. Provision could even be made to raise it by instalments from time to time. The cooperation of this Government with the State governments, and the co-ordination of the machinery of Commonwealth and State governments, would do a great deal to help to rehabilitate the rural industries.
In conclusion, I wish to refer briefly to the operations of the Post and Telegraph Department. I have no complaint to make regarding the administration, for I have found it to be satisfactory, and it must be admitted that the business system of the department is sound, for, according to the budget, it showed a surplus of £1,000,000 last financial year; but I direct attention to the policy which the department is pursuing. The object of a department such as this, which has the power of a monopoly, should be to give maximum service with a balanced budget. I suggest that a good deal more could be done to increase the usefulness of the department by extending the flat-rate system of charges. We have a flat rate for postal matter, and, to a certain extent, we have a flat rate for telegrams. Even in this regard, however, we must remember that an extra charge of 4d. is made od every telegram between Albury and Wodonga and Wodonga and Albury. Surely after 34 years of federation, these border discriminations could be removed. I do not suggest that under present conditions it would be practicable to make a flat-rate charge of ls. for sixteen words for all telegrams within the Commonwealth; but I think that there could be a regulation to provide for a flat-rate charge of ls. for all sixteen-word telegrams within a radius of 50 miles of any telegraph office. Surely if it is possible to make a flat-rate charge in connexion with an undertaking like the Nymboida water scheme, at least to the extent that a man residing 50 miles from the point at which the electricity is generated shall get his current at the same rate as the man who lives in close proximity to the source of supply, it should be possible to have a flat-rate charge for telegrams within certain defined areas. A federal spirit should be evinced in this matter and a genuine attempt made to eliminate discriminating border charges, even though the department cannot, at the moment, sacrifice the revenue which would be involved by the adoption of a flat-rate charge throughout Australia.
I also have a complaint to make in regard to construction. To-day any person who lives beyond a certain distance from a telephone exchange, is debarred from securing telephone connexion unless he is prepared to pay part of the construction costs necessary to make the connexion he desires, as £25 is the maximum sum the department will provide. To my mind, this is quite wrong. We are often told that our telephone charges in Australia are lower than those in any other country in the world; but I noticed the other day a report in a South African paper to the effect that, from the 1st January, 1933, the rental charge of all telephone subscribers in South Africa which had been more than £7 per annum had been reduced to a maximum charge of £7. In Australia, a man who is 20 miles distant from an exchange has to pay an annual charge of 30s. a mile for 18 miles of the construction necessary to give him connexion, and an annual rental of £3 10s. for his installation, making £30 10s. a year. In these circumstances, I submit that more consideration should be shown to country residents. If they have to find the cash for these charges, rent should be free. The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Abbott) informed us earlier to-day that in England telephone subscribers could speak from anywhere to anywhere on any night of the week for a1 flat-rate charge of ls. There is nothing of that description in Australia. The Postmaster-General should check some of the statements that have been made recently to the effect that our telephone charges are lower than those of any other country in- the world. Something more could be done to put this service, which is a government monopoly, on a more equitable basis. I urge that it be done.
.- I support the amendment, and in doing so propose to traverse some of the arguments advanced by the honorable member for Martin (Mr. McCall) against it. That honorable gentleman referred to the proposal that has been made for the unification of railway gauges, and said that the Premier of Victoria, Sir Stanley Argyle, had intimated that Victoria would probably not be prepared to adopt such a scheme for the reason that it would increase the capital indebtedness of the State railway system. Our reply to that is that the work could be done on a basis of finance which would not burden railway accounts. The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Nock) asked for some instances in which the Labour party scheme of financing public works by note issues had been put into operation. I direct his attention to the conditions under which the East- West railway was constructed. It will be remembered that notes were issued to the value of £(5,000,000 for this work. These have since been redeemed, with the result that there is to-day no capital debt on the East- West railway. The system of financing railway construction in New South Wales affords an interesting contrast to that adopted in connexion with the EastWest railway. The total capital cost of constructing the New South Wale3 railway systems was £140,000,000. Figures published recently have shown that interest amounting to £145,000,000 has already been paid on that indebtedness, and the capital debt still remains unredeemed. In 1932, 52 per cent, of the railway revenue of New South Wales was absorbed in interest charges on capital expended on the railways. The Labour party contends that the financial procedure followed in the construction of the East- West railway could be adopted for the unification of the railway gauges of the Commonwealth, and that this would eliminate any burden of debt from the railway accounts. The honorable member for Martin said that the Government had shown its concern about the unemployment problem by placing the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Stewart) in charge of unemployment affairs; but that honorable gentleman is apparently so disgusted with the position generally that he proposes to pay an extended visit to Germany early next year. I ask whether he intends to do anything definite to relieve the unemployment situation before he goes abroad. We have also been told that very shortly the Government would bring forward proposals for dealing with unemployment that would be astounding. All I have to say in reply to that statement is that we, on this side of the chamber, have already been astounded at the Government’s proposals. The introduction of a bill to provide a miserable £176,000 for Christmas relief work has been suitably criticized by us during the last two days. After a great deal of inquiry, we ascertained that practically the whole of this money would be spent on defence works in the cities. Such work cannot properly be described as unemployment relief work. In any case, the expenditure will be of no benefit whatever to my constituency, which, in geographical area, covers almost a half of New South Wales. I sincerely hope that the Governor. Clark. ment will bring forward some proposals for coping with unemployment that will astound us in the way suggested by the honorable member for Martin. We are looking for proposals which will involve the expenditure of a -substantial sum of money; but we should not be satisfied unless these were merely the preliminary move in the development of a policy to abolish unemployment completely.
Reference was also made to the possibility of utilizing the note issue to relieve unemployment, and the example of the United States of America was quoted. Conditions in that country are improving because of an extension of the currency, and unemployment has decreased by 4,000,000. A bold financial policy is necessary if conditions in Australia are to improve. Honorable members on the other side advocate a policy of “hasten slowly “. It would appear that that policy is being applied to the problem of unemployment. The Labour party believes that the situation is so serious as to demand haste, and it therefore advocates a change of attitude on the part of the Government. We are told that money is cheap, both in Australia and overseas, and it is contended that that is evidence that conditions throughout the world are improving. In my opinion the opposite is true; the’ readiness of investors to purchase Government securities is evidence of the lack of profitable investment elsewhere.
The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Nock) said that high taxes were crippling the community. Australia’s wealth production last year was £345,000,000, and of that amount £56,000,000 was required to-meet the Government’s bill for interest and exchange. In other words, one-sixth of our national wealth production was absorbed in those two directions. The adoption of the Labour party’s proposal to utilize the credit of the nation, through the Commonwealth Bank, would remove the honorable member’s cause for complaint in regard to high taxation. Last year, this country derived £84,000,000 revenue from taxation, but of that sum £56,000,000 was already ear-marked to meet interest, and exchange. Of every ls. raised by taxation, 8d. was absorbed by those two charges. The greatest problem awaiting- solution is that of our huge interest hill. It will not be solved by further borrowing. Since 1914, Australia’s interest bill ha*s increased from £12,000,000 to £56,000,000 per annum; and the burden is increasing as we continue to borrow money. So long as a policy of borrowing is pursued the interest rate will not be reduced.
The honorable member for Riverina also said that the Labour party was full of promises to the farmers. I remind him that the parties now forming the Coalition Government also made promises. Indeed, the amendment is designed to give effect to the promises made by those parties. During the election campaign, the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page) advocated the setting aside of £12,000,000 for the purpose of a rural rehabilitation scheme. The right honorable gentleman scoffed at the Labour party’s proposals in regard to the wheat industry, apparently overlooking that a Labour Government in New South “Wales gave the highest price ever paid to the farmer for his wheat, namely 7s. 6d. a bushel.
In his policy speech, the Prime Minis ter said that his Government proposed to appoint a Minister to deal specially with unemployment; but in the re-shuffle of portfolios, the promise appears to have been overlooked, for there is now no Minister in charge of unemployment. A paragraph in the Governor-General’s Speech, states -
My advisers regard with sympathy and concern the heavy unemployment which still persists, and propose to give to this grave and pressing problem priority over other matters.
Notwithstanding that promise, the Government has not yet tackled this problem determinedly. The Sydney Sun of the 9 th September, 1934, contains the following report of an address delivered by the Prime Minister at Gosford : -
The amount to be spent by his Government to ease the general burden on rural industries and unemployment may possibly be £10,000,000, or even aa much as £15,000,000, said the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), at Gosford.
The Labour party asks that that proposal shall be incorporated in the Estimates. The people of Gosford, and, indeed, the people of Australia, expect that promise to be honoured. The policy speech, of the leader of the Country party contained the following paragraph in relation to rural debt relief: -
It was a question whether they (the producers) would stand up to their obligations with virtual slavery to themselves and their families for life, or whether they would choose the easier path of bankruptcy.
State legislation did not provide the means for a rapid and permanent relief.
The Country party had prepared a detailed’ scheme, which would give immediate relief.
It would appear from the following report in the Canberra Times of the 21st November that that detailed scheme has yet to be prepared -
Plans for making effective the Government’s rural rehabilitation proposals have been under consideration by a sub-committee, consisting of the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page), the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey), and the Postmaster-General and Minister for Development (Senator A. J. McLachlan).
No definite plan has yet been drawn up by the sub-committee.
Any scheme of rural rehabilitation must provide for the writing down of the debts of farmers to present-day values, and this should also apply to the debts of the whole community. It will not be sufficient merely to shift the debts of the farmers on to the shoulders of the Government, leaving the community to guarantee the accounts of the bankers. Other sections of the community are asked to make sacrifices, and the bankers should not be excluded. In any case, they would not be the losers if the debts of the farmers were so reduced that what the banks received had, on present-day values, a purchasing power equivalent to that of the money at the time it was advanced by them. The report in the Sydney Sun of the Prime Minister’s speech at Gosford also includes the following paragraph : -
Deploring the foolishness and hypocrisy of wild, extravagant promises, and the need for confidence, Mr. Lyons, said, amid applause, “We must continue to deal with real money to create real wealth.”
The amendment merely asks that effect be given to that promise.
As during the election campaign, the primary producers were told .that the Government would not be a party to any policy of restricted production, I draw attention to the following press paragraph which appeared on the 28th June, 1934, under the heading, “ Beware election tactics “ : -
A cable message states that Mr. Walter Elliot was impressed by the plea of Mr. Bruce, that it would be very inadvisable to impose a quota on Australian meat on the eve of a general election and of a Royal visit. The cableman adds that Elliot, therefore, will provide a home subsidy, which is likely to amount to £5,000,000 a year, conditional on the industry being drastically re-organized.
As far back as June last, the British Government decided that the importation of meat from Australia must be restricted ; but, apparently, some arrangements were entered into, at the. suggestion of the High Commissioner, Mr. Bruce, that nothing be done until after the election. [Quorum formed.’] The Government undertook to stand solidly against the restriction of exports. The Prime Minister also said at Gosford that the development of the export market was being pressed, and he had every confidence in the future; but now we find that the production of meat in Australia is to be restricted. The Sydney Telegraph of the 21st November, in the course of an article headed “Restriction Certain. Beef and Veal Exports, “ stated : -
A holiday period for exports would simply mean that all beef slaughtered would go into cold storage for subsequent export.
Only last week, when I was in my electorate, I was approached on this subject by a number of meat producers and agents. The general opinion expressed was that the sellers of stock would receive no benefit whatever from any restriction, and that the only persons to derive advantage would be the boodlers and middlemen who handle and export meat. Buyers now operating in country districts tell the growers that they cannot receive a good price for meat for export because of the restrictions. Sellers were asked to accept for their cattle prices showing a reduction of from £1 10s. to £2 10s. a head. This is simply a method evolved by the beef exporting interests to cut down the price of stock. We have been told in this House that this being the latter end of the season, there is now very little beef to be bought for export, but I can assure honorable members that such is not the case. Although up to September a rather dry period was experienced, good feed has been available since then, and stock is now being fattened up and prepared for market. During last week more cattle were sent to Sydney from my electorate than in the previous three months. From now until Christmas fat cattle will be forwarded to market, and, if the restriction is maintained, this stock will be sold at substantially reduced rates. If, by means of a restriction of exports, a rise .is brought about in the overseas price of frozen beef, the growers will not receive benefit from it, because all the advantage will be reaped by those holding meat overseas. Exporters and others who manipulate the market will gain from the rise in price, but the growers will be left lamenting. Even when the restriction is lifted, the middlemen will say, “We do not want your stock now, if you will not sell it at the prices we fix, because we have an abundance of meat in our cold stores. “ These facts should not be lost sight of by this Parliament. A government which is claimed to be representative of country interests should protect the primary producers in this matter. I have been asked by the men outback to make their views known inthis chamber, and I have done so in order that the Government may realize that they need protection.
The interests that will receive the benefit of a restriction of meat exports are the big companies, such as Vestey’s, which have a complete grip of the industry. The Vestey combine is absorbing smaller firms which have been operating in the export trade. Only recently, through its operating company, Weddell and Company, it absorbed W. Angliss and Company. The arrangement made by Weddell and Company was one of the largest mergers of recent years. The holdings of the Angliss firm include Riverstone Meat Company, Sydney; Metropolitan Ice and Cold Storage Works, Sydney; Producers Meat Supply Limited, Sydney; Redbank Meatworks Proprietary Limited, Brisbane; Central Queensland Meat Export Company Limited ; Angliss Imperial Meatworks, Footscray, the largest in the southern hemisphere; Daroobalgie Works, Forbes, New South Wales; and Lake’s Creek Works, Rockhampton. The capital investment represented in the assets of the Angliss interests is estimated to be worth £1,500,000. Weddell and Company is merely an operating company, and all the shares are held by the Union Cold Storage Company Limited, the directors of which are Mr. R. P. Sing, chairman, Lord Vestey, Sir E. H. Vestey, Mr. J. M. Sing, and Mr. W. G. Bundey. The Union Cold Storage Company commenced with £100,000, but to-day its capital amounts to £12,000,000 The company owns all the refrigerating vessels trading as the Blue Star Line, and has extensive interests in Argentina and Patagonia. As the Vestey combine has absolute control of the meat industry in Australia and in Argentina, it matters very little to it whether it exports Australian or South American meat. It is proposed to restrict the export of frozen beef only, and therefore chilled beef will not he affected. Great Britain’s imports of chilled beef in 1933 amounted to 6,951,872 cwt. from Argentina, and practically none from Australia, but its imports of frozen beef amounted to 693,302 cwt. from Argentina, and 1,164,035 cwt. from Australia. This means that the restriction applies to practically the whole of Australia’s beef exports, and to only one-tenth of the exports of Argentina. Therefore, Australian meat producers will he substantial losers under the restriction. I trust that the Government will endeavour to take some steps to protect the interests of the Australian meat producers.
Honorable members opposite who have spoken in support of the amendment have commented upon the inaction of the Government in regard to the solution of the problem of unemployment, but I doubt if they are sincere in their protestations. Their sincerity will be tested when the vote is taken. Although they have engaged in a sham fight against the Government, which they claim to support, I fear that they will not have the courage of their convictions and vote against the Ministry. It is a shame to do such things. Yet we have here alongside members of the Government who represent strong seats, men who represent electorates which will become Labour at the next election, and who, fearful for their political future, put up a sham fight yet support the Government because they lack the courage of their convictions.
.- I have listened with interest to this debate, particularly because this is the only opportunity, apart from the AddressinReply debate, which latterly takes place only once every three years, that enables honorable members to discuss what- are the real causes of our present economic troubles. Members on this side of the chamber are prepared to put forward what they believe to be the only practical remedies to deal with these great problems. We have already suggested that the first step that should be taken in this direction is to institute a substantia] measure of monetary reform, to reduce hours, and to take action with the object of giving to our people as a whole the advantages of the increased productivity of the nation. Our opponents are very ready with glib phrases; these trip everlastingly from their tongues. One of these phrases which has recently obtained wide publicity is “ equality of sacrifice “. In common with members on this side of the House, I have at no time believed that this country was in such a position that we required to disseminate this particular doctrine of sacrifice. We have to realize that no amount of sophistry or claptrap copy-book phrases- can overcome the fact that this nation to-day is wealthier than it has ever been before. We cannot get away from the realization, notwithstanding all the arguments that might be used to the contrary, that we produce all the food and clothing the people of this nation need; and no amount of argument can detract from the fact .that it is a terrible paradox that under such conditions hundreds of thousands of our people should be without sufficient food and clothing. Yet these are the arguments put forward by our opponents. The figures on unemployment quoted in this House show that there are 350,000 unemployed in this country. That does not mean that that number alone are without sufficient food and clothing. It means that there are 1,000,000 people out of our total population of a little over 6,000,000 who are in want because in such an estimate we must allow for the wives and dependants of those who are unemployed. This doctrine of equality of sacrifice was put forward by our opponents. If I believed at any stage that it was necessary for us to adhere to such a doctrine, I would suggest that the sacrifices to be made should be designed not primarily with the idea of finding out how much should be taken away from people, but mainly to ascertain how much they would have left to live on after the cuts were made. I am not in favour of making any cuts in salaries at all; neither in our own nor those of other people, and I am not in favour of any action being taken in this House which would lower us in the estimation of the people. But if I believed for a moment that sacrifices were essential, I would agree that all sections of the community, including members of Parliament, should be reduced to the basic wage, even though a wholesale moratorium would probably be necessary. If a policy of equality of sacrifice were necessary the first step taken should not be in the direction of taxing pensioners at the rate of £6 10s. per year, which is really what happens when we continue the 2s. 6d. reduction of their pensions; or of reducing the salaries of public servants and members of Parliament by from 10 to 20 per cent. A doctrine of equality of sacrifice should be brought about by striking an absolute minimum income for every one in the community. And if any such scheme were put forward, I have no doubt we should find that the people who are usually so enthusiastic about equality of sacrifice, would be the first to discover that such a policy was not worth while after all.
We are becoming accustomed in this Parliament to hearing honorable gentlemen delivering lengthy speeches which really mean nothing. The AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Menzies) afforded an example of this the other day when he was discussing the prohibition against the entry of a certain gentleman into this country. For a considerable time’ he spoke about communism, and various other matters, which had no connexion at all with the real subject under discussion. I would recommend this gentleman to read one of the latest political comedies published by George Bernard Shaw, entitled, “ On the Rocks”. Sir Arthur Challenor, the Prime Minister of the play, is a typical representative of those parliamentarians who sit back comfortably and speak in vague generalizations on the problems confronting modern communities. Like this character in the comedy, honorable gentlemen in this House persistently put forward arguments which have no real relation to the subject under discussion. In our debates we should face realities, and in considering this question, for instance, we should admit that private enterprise as we know it to-day is disappearing. I make no apology for my attitude on this point. Too often honorable gentlemen, some of them even on this side of the chamber, are inclined to press propaganda put . forward on behalf of members opposite, rather than stand up for the opinions which they really hold and for proposals which they really believe should be supported. Political students throughout the world, who can look at this subject disinterestedly, confirm the Labour party’s contentions that our whole social system is changing and that it cannot last in its present form much longer, and state that we must be prepared to accept in its stead a system which is definitely planned to be of benefit to the masses of the people. That is the policy for which this party stands, and which we shall implement once the people give us the opportunity to do so. Many apparently hold the view that we can borrow ourselves out of the depression; that the way to deal with our present unemployment position is to borrow, at the moment, £176,000 - or even as much as £20,000,000. Obviously, it would be preferable to borrow the larger sum to meet the position at the present time. If we tackle this problem, however, at its base, we shall realize that we cannot merely borrow ourselves out of the depression.
– We borrowed ourselves into the depression very successfully.
– A Labour government did not do that. The first step that must be taken to deal with this problem is to nationalize the banks. The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Nock) has spoken about inflation. It must be obvious to him, as it is to all of us, that the power of inflation or deflation is in the hands of private institutions. There is no limit to the exercise of that power by these institutions apart from the risk of not being able to pay their depositors, in which position they have found themselves on several occasions. The banks have the absolute power of inflation and deflation which they can exercise as they feel inclined, but we are afraid to give that power to a government composed of representatives of the people. We prefer to leave it in the hands of men whose names even we do not know, and into whose ability to exercise that power properly wo refuse to inquire. The honorable member for Martin (Mr.’ McCall) admitted to-night that banks can create credit by the simple and inexpensive method of book entries. For a long time the ability of the banks to do this has been denied by Government members, so it is some consolation to honorable members on this side to hear an admission from at least one Ministerial supporter that the trading banks of this country can expand or contract credit at will. But I was somewhat disappointed in the speech of the honorable member for Martin, because I had been led to believe that, as one of the younger men owing allegiance to the Government, he would offer some definite and useful suggestions with regard to the problems which face this country. I did not anticipate that he would merely recite the well-worn conservative arguments which we have been accustomed to hear from government supporters. Henry Ward Beecher, a great American preacher and student of public affairs, once said -
We expect old nien to be conservative, but when the young men of a country are conservative, that nation’s death knell is already rung.
That, it would seem, will bc our fate, if the young men in the public life of the Commonwealth are imbued with those worn-out conservative ideas which experience has shown to be quite inapplicable to present-day problems.
The honorable member for Martin spoke in approving terms of the process of evolution in the legislative affairs of the nation. That is the normal process under a system of parliamentary government. In this Parliament, for example, we are accustomed to discuss and decide the manner and method of dealing with particular problems. By evolution as applied to legislative action we safeguard the nation against the possibility of revolution. This being so, it should not be necessary for me to stress the need for a frank discussion as to the best means to afford relief to the unemployed who, with their dependants, represent about 25 per cent, of the community.
Even some, supporters of the Government are dissatisfied with the proposals that have been brought forward. Representing the more progressive wing of Government supporters, they believe that a more liberal programme should be submitted. I agree with the remarks of the honorable member who immediately preceded me that the views which they express in this House are determined by the political colour of their constituencies. Nevertheless, it should be realized that many honorable members who secured election on the anti-Labour side are really not true-blue Nationalists. All safe Nationalist seats, such as Flinders and Kooyong in Victoria, are reserved for those members who arc highest in the ranks of the particular party which controls the destiny of this country. This fact may. to some extent, explain why the more progressive elements among the government supporters occasionally appear in the role of rebels against certain aspects of government policy.
My main purpose is to indicate why this Government has not brought forward practical proposals to deal with the problems with which this country is confronted. When speaking in this House a fortnight ago I made a number of definite statements, the accuracy of which was challenged by the Minister in charge of trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett). Honorable members may recall that, on the occasion mentioned, I made a number of deliberate statements concerning the wealthy interests supporting this Government. These statements have not, up to this time, been disproved by government supporters. I purpose making further statements, and, at the outset, I challenge any honorable member supporting the Government to refute what I am about to say. A fortnight ago T said, and I repeat the statement now, that no progress can be expected, and no attack upon the wealthy institutions of this country can be expected from this Government, because the whole of the financial and economic life of the Commonwealth is controlled by three trusts, and they also control this Government. The sugar monopoly controls the economic life of Queensland and New South Wales; the metal monopoly controls the economic lifo of the other States, and the overseas trust governs the financial and economic activities of the Commonwealth and other countries, particularly Great Britain. Other capitalistic enterprises under these groups also play their part - the tobacco trust, the shipping trust, the Baillieu newspaper group, the Associated Press, and a number of lesser combinations; but, generally, the monopolistic financial and economic influences fall under the three headings which I have mentioned. All these trusts and groups are interlocked. Each of the three combinations which I have enumerated controls three of the nine trading banks in Australia. The metal monopoly controls the Commercial Bank of Australia - which absorbed the Bank of Victoria - the National Bank of Australasia, and the Bank of Adelaide.
– The honorable member is wrong at the start.
– The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. E. F. Harrison) is unable to refute the truth of my statement. The sugar monopoly controls the Bank of New South Wales, and the two remaining wholly Australian banks, while the overseas monopoly controls the three Anglo-Australian banks - the English, Scottish and Australian Bank, the Bank of Australasia, and the Union Bank of Australia. In addition, these three particular trusts have their representatives in practically every financial and Commercial activity of importance in the Commonwealth, and also exert a powerful influence over Australian parliaments, chambers of commerce, and chambers of manufactures, as well as Australian universities. In addition, they retain and control the services of a majority of the prominent economists in Australia, including Professors Copland, Hytten, and Shann, each of whom has been economic adviser to either the Bank of New South Wales or some other institution.
– In what sense is the honorable member using the term “control “?
– It is obvious that if an economist is economic adviser to the Bank of New South Wales or any other banking institution in Australia or overseas, he cannot voice opinions other than those which his employer allows him to express. When the honorable member is retained as counsel, he uses every argument at his disposal on behalf of his client.
The other night I dealt with the principal persons connected with the sugar monopoly. I have not the time to deal fully with the other monopolies, but I shall refer to the most important of those who are connected with them. The overseas metal monopoly operates through Dalgety and Company, John Sanderson and Company, MacDonald, Hamilton and Company, Gibbs, Bright and Company, the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company, and the Australian Land and Finance Company. Incidentally, Dalgety and Company is the company which I have previously mentioned as having issued definite instructions to its girl employees in Brisbane to work in opposition to Labour candidates at the last federal elections, the penalty for failure to do so being tho loss of their positions. The different interests which this company controls are - Shaw, Savill, and Albion; the White Star, Aberdeen, and Nippon Yusen Kaisha shipping lines; and the Phoenix Insurance Company. It also controls the supply of explosives, gun powder, disinfectants, sheep dips, branding liquids, and the like.
John Sanderson and Company link up the Blue Funnel and the Peninsular and Oriental branch shipping services with the main Peninsular and Oriental line and the banking corporation.
MacDonald, Hamilton and Company are shipping ‘ co-ordinators, being the main Australian end of the Peninsular and Oriental line, the British India line, the Eastern and Australian and the Orient line. The late Lord Inchcape was the head of these lines, and was also a co-director in the Burns, Philp and Company shipping and sugar combinations. Incidentally, the sugar monopoly is controlled by Burns, Philp and Company in conjunction with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. This is just one of the links between that monopoly and the overseas group. The present Earl Inchcape is a director of the London National Provincial Bank. It should be noted that Sir Alan Anderson, a director of the Orient line, and the Honorable
Gibbs, Bright and Company are concerned in the Australian Pastoral Company, .the Australian Estate and Mortgage Company, the Caledonian and Australian Mortgage Company, and the Trust Agency and Loan Company; the Commonwealth and Dominion shipping line; the British Traders Insurance Company; the Union Insurance Company; and the Ocean Marine Insurance Company; the Sulphide Corporation of Broken Hill, and the smelting works at Cockle Creek. It also links up with the importing firms, Briscoe and Company and James Service and Company.
The New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company distributes Cooper’s sheep dip, and is associated with the Palatine Insurance Company, the New Zealand and Australian Land Company, the New Zealand Land Association, and the North Queensland Mortgage Company.
The Australian Mercantile Land and Finance Company is associated with the Marine Insurances of London and the New South Wales section of the English Northern Assurance Company.
In addition to all of these, Paterson, Laing and Bruce. S. Hoffnung and Company, Farmer and Company, Robert Reid and Company, Buckley and Nunn, W. and A. McArthur, and Rich and Company are part of the group.
– What does the honorable member propose to do about it all?
– When we are dealing with a matter of such great importance to the community - the interlocking of these combinations of capital - it is both foolish and futile for an honorable member, particularly if he is a Minister, to ask, “What are you going to do about it?” I shall tell the honorable gentleman what th, party of which I am a member proposes to do. Its policy includes the nationalization of monopolies, and when it has the opportunity it will see that these people are not allowed to control the Australian community in their own interests. On the Inst occasion when I dealt with this matter, the honorable member made most enthusiastic attempts to prevent me from speaking, and accused me of making misstatements, yet he has not so far been able to disprove what I then said. Perhaps the reason for his activity on that occasion was that, being in considerable danger of losing his position in the Cabinet, he thought it advisable to put up a fight. Another reason may be that, at one time, he was an employee of the Melbourne Herald, which is controlled by the Baillieu trust. He may have thought that, out of a spirit of loyalty, he should do battle for his former employers.
As I said earlier in my speech, the overseas monopoly controls three of the nine Australian trading banks, namely, the Bank of Australasia, the English, Scottish and Australian Bank, and the Union Bank of Australia. It is not a coincidence that these three overseas banks have provided the chairman of the associated banks during the period of the depression. They have their head offices in London. The directorate is a large one, including -Mr. Kenneth Goschen, who, in addition, is a partner in the firm of Goschen, Cunliffe and Company, foreign bankers, and a director of the Bank of England. This is one example of the way in which the Australian banks are connected with the Bank of England, and, through that institution, with the international financiers. Arthur Whitworth, a director of the Bank of Australasia, is also a director of the Bank of England. Mr. C. E. Barnett, in addition to being a director of the Bank of Australasia, is a director of Lloyd’s Bank in London. C. G. Hamilton is a director of the National Provincial Bank, and H. Peel is a director of the Westminster Bank, both of which are English banks.
The directors of the Union Bank of Australia and the English, Scottish and Australian Bank are also connected up with institutions in England, and a considerable number of other financial institutions in Australia.
The principal men in the overseas monopoly are - Lord George Hamilton and 0- G. Hamilton, J. and L. Sanderson, H. and M. Nelson, 0. D. and E. W.’ Parker, the Reids. Vicary Gibbs, the Bright family, the LivingstoneLearmonths, the Fairbairns. the Austin and Armytage families, S. M. Bruce, R. O. Blackwood, Vesey Holt, Sir Henry Braddon, and Andrew Williamson. The majority of these reside in England. Sir George and J. V. Fairbairn live in Victoria. Steve Fairbairn lives in England. They are directors of Dalgety and Company, the Australian Mutual Provident Society, and the Union Trustee Company. Sir George is largely interested in the pastoral industry in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, and also in the Queensland meat industry. He is an ex-member of the Victorian Parliament, the House of. Representatives and the Senate. J. V. Fairbairn succeeded Mr. S. M. Bruce as the representative of Flinders, and he and Sir George Fairbairn are both members of the Melbourne Club.
SirHenryGullett. - Does the honorable member now propose to nationalize the Melbourne Club?
– No; but I propose to show the importance of clubs in the political life of this country. They play as great a part in that respect as do clubs in England. When Sir George Pearce made his announcement about Australia’s new defence policy, he made it not in this House, but in the Millions Club in Sydney.
– The honorable member’s views are manufactured for him by the Trades Hall.
– The honorable member for Barton should conduct himself with due modesty in this House. He was fortunate in capturing a seat which he did not expect to win, and he would not have received a nomination from his party if it was thought that he would have any chance of succeeding . The honorable member does not know that the policy of the Nationalist party in Victoria is decided at the Melbourne Club; that the Union Club stands in the same relation to the party in New South Wales, and that the Constitutional* Club in Brisbane is affiliated with the Nationalist organization of Queensland. Mr. R. O. Blackwood is also a member of the Melbourne Club. We learn that Mr. J. G. Latham is a director of the Equity Trustee Company, and of the Executors and Agency Company Limited.
– What is wrong with that?
-Would the honorable member see anything wrong in a supreme court judge being interested in a matter which came before him for decision? This Parliament has to decide whether millions of pounds in taxation reductions should be granted to these institutions, or whether the people sorely in need should obtain the benefit. My complaint is that many honorable members of the party opposite are financially interested in the prosperity or otherwise of the firms I have mentioned. They tell us that they are legislating on behalf of the mass of the people of Australia; but that, in the circumstances, is impossible. Senator Sir Harry Lawson is a director of the Colonial Mutual Life Insurance Company, and of the Perpetual Executors and Trustee Company Limited. Senator A. J. McLachlan is a director of the Commonwealth Life (Amalgamated) Assurances Limited, and other companies, including Mick Simmons Limited, tobacconists. In addition to that, the following members of Parliaments are, or have been, connected with the institutions I have mentioned : - Hon. F. H. Stewart, who has recently resigned his portfolio; Sir John Peden, M.L.C., recently elected for a period of twelve years; M. P. Dunlop, M.L.C; T. A. Playfair, M. L.C. ; and Sir Samuel Walder, M.L.C., recently elected for nine years.
If any honorable member wishes to check for himself the accuracy of my statement he may refer to the Melbourne Herald Year-Book, and to other reliable publications of the kind. Others concerned are : A. Howie, M.L.C. ; A. K. Trethowan, M.L.C., B. B. O’Connor, M.L.C, recently elected for six years ; T. P. Kneeshaw. M.L.C, recently elected for three years; Sir Thos. Henley, M.L.A.; E. A. Buttenshaw, M.L.A., and J. E. Webb, M.L.A., editor of the Bulletin, and previously editor of the Sunday Times. Other members of the New South Wales Parliament are also members of the Union Club, or of the Australian Club. They are Hon. Dr. Colvin, M.L.C, Hon. H. S. Nicholas, M.L.C, formerly leaderwriter of the Sydney Morning Herald and Daily Telegraph, Hon. Sir Thos. Bavin. M.L.A., Hon. Lt.Col. Bruxner, M.L.A., Hon. H. Main, M.L.A., and Brig. Gen. H. W. Lloyd, M.L.A. All of these persons are Anti-Labour representatives.
– What is wrong with that?
– Of course the honorable member cannot see anything wrong with it, and that is just the trouble. Our universities, our parliaments, our chambers of commerce,our chambers of manufactures and our taxpayers’ organizations are all controlled by the same gang, and then we wonder why nothing is done to remedy the social evils of the day. Sir H. J. MacFarland, Chancellor of the Melbourne University, is also director of the National Mutual Life Insurance Company, and of the Trustees, Executors and Agency Company Limited. Sir David Orme Masson, Emeritus Professor of the Melbourne University is director of the National Mutual Life Insurance Company, and the Union Trustees Company of Australia Limited. Two coincidences call for special notice at this stage. It will be remembered that insurance companies were granted concessions in the federal budget last year to the extent of £700,000. Professor D. B. Copland has often been quoted by the monopolycontrolled press as an economic authority, and he has recently been given lifttenure in his position at the Melbourne University. He is economic advisor tothe governments of Australia and New Zealand, and was chairman of the committee which formulated the premiers plan. Another point which I wish to bring under the notice of the committee is that the six directors originally appointed to the Commonwealth Bank Board included Mr. John J. Garven, who is a pastoralist and is managing director of the Mutual Life and Citizens Company. The late Sir Robert Gibson, another director, was vice-president of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures, Victorian representative of the Central Coal Board; director of the Austral Manufacturing Company; Lux Foundry; National Mutual Insurance Company; the Union Trustee Company; Robert Harper and Company Limited and the Chamber of Manufactures Insurance Company. Another member of the directorate was Sir Samuel Hordern, who is a director of Anthony Hordern and Sons, the Australian Mutual Provident Society, the Royal Insurance Company and several other companies. Included in the number was Robert Bond W. McComas, who was the president of various wool-buyers’ associations and proprietor of William
Haughton and Company, wool-brokers, and John McKenzie Lees, general managerof the Bank of North Queensland from1898 to 1917; general manager of the Bank of Queensland, 1917-1922, exchairman of the Associated Banks in Queensland, and Fellow of the Institute of Bankers, London. Those were the persons originally appointed to control the Commonwealth Bank on behalf of the nation. The present Commonwealth Bank Board consists of Sir Claude Reading, the chairman, who is a director of the British Tobacco Company (Australasia) Limited; W. D. and H. O. Wills Limited, States Tobacco Company, Limited, and member of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce, and of the Commonwealth Board of Trade and formerly on the staff of the Union Bank. Another member is Mr. R. B. W. McComas, representing the wool-brokers of Australia, or those who speculate in wool. Mr. A. F. Bell, another member, is managing director of Robert Harper and Company Limited, and director of the Australian Mutual Provident Society and formerly director of the National Bank of Australasia. There is also Mr. P. Tait, a controlling partner in Clark and Tait, reputed to be the owners of the largest grazing properties in Queensland.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. George Lawson) put -
That the honorable member have leave to continue his speech.
The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr.prowse.)
Majority . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
I contend that no honorable member should be allowed to have any interests outside of his parliamentary duties.
Labour party to become a member of the Bruce-Page Government, the Prime Minister said -
Senator Ogden comes into the city today, and has no one to bid him welcome. He will get out to-morrow, and there will be no one to bid him God-speed. It is a terrible thing to see a man sell his principles and the party that has lifted him up. I hope I will never have the misfortune to leave to my children the shame and dishonour of one who has become a traitor to his own class in order to serve the enemies of the people.
The Hobart Daily Post also reported the Prime Minister as having said -
Experience has shown that those who had at any time departed from the Labour movement after having formed part of it invariably (ailed to block the growth and progress of the movement. As a matter of fact, very few men have survived as politicians who have stepped out of the Labour ranks. Having failed their own party, the opposite party has but a cold affection for them, and cannot be expected to show confidence in them.
Tuesday Sittings - “ The Digest “ : Attack on Returned Soldiers.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I wish to inform honorable members that it is not intended to meet on Tuesday next. Reference has been made to the possibility of instituting Tuesday sittings next week; but because of the presence of representatives of the New Zealand Government, with whom the Ministry has to conduct negotiations in the early portion of next week, the House will meet as usual on Wednesday next.
– Shall we meet on Tuesday of the following week?
– It is almost certain that we shall do so.
.-I wish to draw the attention of the Assistant Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral to a newspaper entitled The Digest, a copy of which I have in my possession. This newspaper is published in Sydney, but it circulates in the Federal Capital, and in the town of Queanbeyan. In the first place, it has on its title page a lithograph of this
House of Parliament, and I desire to know whether any newspaper is entitled to publish such a drawing without the permission of Parliament, or, at all events the Government of the day. In the copy before me, which is dated, Friday, November, 16, 1934, there appears a leading article in which a most scurrilous attack is made upon the whole of the returne’d soldiers of the Commonwealth. I do not know whether the Minister has seen it, but I ask him to read it and to consider whether such a publication should be registered for transmission through .the post as a newspaper. I shall not read the whole of the article in which this dastardly attack is made, but a brief quotation from it will be sufficient to indicate the nature of it -
Apart from Australia, it is doubtful if much notice is taken of the anniversary of that day in 191 8 when hostilities ceased - and manufacturers counted up their profits. But in Australia it is used by politicians and would-be public benefactors to dispense a lot of hot air on their theories, to play on the sentiment of the people, to glory the soldier and to preach pacificism. They tell us what a horrible thing war is, and proudly refer to the men who lost their lives in the nation’s cause. They would have more chance of achieving their object if they regard as misguided fools those who lost their lives on the battlefields of Flanders, on the deserts of Palestine and the rocky shore of Gallipoli.
I keenly resent such an attack, and I am sure many other honorable members will do so. Many of us took part in the war, from various motives, and we know the tragedy, suffering and loss of life which that war involved. That a paper, containing statements of this kind so long after the war, should be circulating through the Federal Capital Territory and possibly in this Parliament, is not in the interests of the nation. I ask the Minister to look into the matter. I am sure that this paper comes under the Post and Telegraph Act, and that is why I ask him to see what action can be taken.
– If the honorable member will hand the newspaper to mo I will place it before the authorities, and the department will take whatever action is necessary. I presume that it has been registered for transmission through the post as a newspaper.
Question - That the House do now adjourn - put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative
( Vide page 484.)
House adjourned at 11.24 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
r asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
y asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows . -
y asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows:-
r. - On the 2nd November, the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) asked me a question, upon notice, in regard to an. article appearing in The New Era, of the 18th October, 1934, entitled, “The New Miracle of Plant Growth “, and in my reply I stated that a report would be obtained from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has now furnished the following advice: -
The Spangenberg process of sproutingmaize for fodder has recently been investigated rather comprehensively by the National Institute for Research in Dairying, Reading,
Great Britain, which has published the results of its work on the process in a report dated June, 1934. The main conclusions drawn by the institute were that sprouted maize is a suitable food for cattle, but that tests of its feeding value indicated no significant difference between it and other good farm food containing equal nutrients. As certain data were not available, the institute was unable to give a detailed cost estimate for the fodder. Nevertheless, the experiments indicated that even if nothing was charged for plant, chemicals for preparing the nutrient solution, and water, the minimum cost of the fodder would be approximately 27s. per ton or some 40 per cent, greater than the cost of marrow stem kale or similar food. Incidentally, some 700 gallons of water per day were used for a production of 11 to 2 cwt. of sprouted maize. In countries of sparse water supplies, it would thus be necessary to collect and re-circulate this water. Labour requirements were estimated at about fifteen hours’ for one man per ton of fodder, and the amount of fodder produced per ton of maize was about 3 tons. In this connexion, it is pointed out that the article in The New Era, of the 18th October, 1934, would have been more accurate hnd it pointed out that, from a single acre of darkened shelves in cabinets, it ‘was possible to produce continuously enough sprouted maize to allow of a ration of about 30 lb. of that material per day to 1,200 head of cattle. It would be impossible to produce the necessary maize (nearly 200 bushels per day), from which this fodder was produced, on anything like such a small area as 1 acre. The Council (Or Scientific and Industrial Research and the various State Departments of Agriculture regularly receive the reports of the National Institute for Research in Dairying and of other bodies interested in the Spangenberg process, and thus should any development of value arise in connexion with the process, little delay would occur before its application in Australia.
Oil Tanks at Newcastle.’
– On the 14th November, the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) asked a question without notice in regard to the position of oil tanks at Newcastle, including those owned by the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. As promised, inquiries have been made in the matter. I am advised that Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited has a small coastal installation at Newcastle adjacent to the wharf which has been set aside for petroleum vessels. I am also advised that oil tanks in connexion with that installation comply in all respects with the regulations of the inflammable liquids authorities of the State of New South Wales, and have been approved by them, and also approved by the Wickham Council.
PRICES of PRIMARY PRODUCTS
e. - On the 16th November, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green)’ asked the following questions, upon notice: -
The following information is now supplied : -
CommonwealthOilRefineries Limited:agreementsforoilsupplies: effectonindustryinnewguinea.
– On the 2nd November, 1934, the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) asked me the following questions, upon notice: - 1.Is It a fact that the agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the AngloPersian Oil Company Limited, in connexion with the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, expires early next year?
Will the Prime Minister give to the House the following information: -
I am now in a position to furnish the following reply: -
Oil Company in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, but such a purchase could not be effected until1939.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 November 1934, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1934/19341122_reps_14_145/>.