14th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chair at 12 noon, and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
International Labour Organization of the League of Nations - Eighteenth Conference, held at Geneva, June, 1934 -
Reports of the Australian Delegates. Draft Conventions and Recommendations adopted.
Statistics of Causes of Death -International Agreement, together with Protocol of Signature; signed at London, 19th June, 1934.
Public Service Act - Eleventh Report on the Commonwealth Public Service by the Boardof Commissioners, dated6th December, 1934.
Science and Industry Research Act - Eighth Annual Report of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, for year 1933-34.
Superannuation Act - Twelfth Annual Report of the Superannuation Board, for year 1933-34.
Wine Grapes Charges Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 148.
Mr. WHITE laid on the table reports and recommendations of the Tariff Boardon the following subjects : -
Blankets, n.e.i. (except of Rubber); Blanketing: Lap Dusters; Rugs, n.e.i., including Buggy Rugs or Aprons but not including Fur or other Skin Rugs and Rugging.
Carburettors for Motor Cycles.
Engine Cleaning Waste.
Paints, Colours, and Varnishes, &c.
Sewing Threads and Sewing Cottons, n.e.i. Shovels.
Tools of Trade, viz.: - Picks, Mattocks, Hooks, and Slashers.
Welded Conduit Pipes and Tubes; Close Jointed Iron or Steel Pipes and Tubes.
Ordered to be printed.
– Seeing that the Minister for Trade and Customs dined yesterday at the Millions Club, Sydney, with the Consul-General for Germany, has he anything to say in regard to the threat made by that gentleman that in the near future “ Woolstra “ would be exported from Germany, with deleterious effects on the Australian wool industry?
– I was the guest of the Millions Club in Sydney yesterday. I do not know whether the press regarded my remarks as of sufficient importance to warrant its reporting them; but I expressed the hope that synthetic wool had not proved so great a success as was anticipated in certain quarters. I pointed out that, as Australia purchased from the United Kingdom - its best customer - the biggest percentage of the manufactured goods it imported, it had great difficulty in making trade agreements with foreign countries that were also manufacturers of those goods. I stated that my colleague, the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties, had already made a statement in that regard, and that, if Germany could point to items in our foreign tariff that were not competitive with either Australian or British industries, we would endeavour to consummate a trade treaty with it.
– Has the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties noticed the statement of the wool expert of the Melbourne Herald in yesterday’s issue of that newspaper, that the wool market of Argentina and South Africa is 15 per cent. above Australian or London parity as the direct result of purchases of wool from those countries by Germany? If so, will the honorable gentleman endeavour to make arrangements by which Australian wools may be purchased by Germany?
– I have not seen the statement to which the honorable member refers. At the beginning of last week the Consul-General for Germany visited Canberra at my request. Prior to that visit I had discussed trade matters with him. I asked him to submit to the Commonwealth specific items which might form the basis of negotiations to give effect to what the German Government apparently has in view with respect to wool. He undertook to cable to his Government for those particulars, but I have not yet received a list of them from him.
– I have received the following telegram from a gentleman who signs himself “ Wheat Farmer “ -
Congratulations on your exposure hypocritical wheat-farmer politicians.
– Order ! The honorable member may not preface a question by quoting from any document objectionable words that could not under the Standing Orders be applied to members of Parliament.
– I ask honorable members to reserve until to-morrow or to give notice of any further questions they may wish to ask.
First report brought up by Mr.
McBride, read by the Clerk and agreed to.
Message reported recommending appropriation for the purposes of amendments to be moved to this bill.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
– I move -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of amendments to be moved by the Minister for Commerce, to a bill for an act to provide for financial assistance to the States in the provision of relief to wheat-growers, and for other purposes.
The purpose of the motion is to enable certain amendments to the bill which have already been circulated to be moved. As they might involve a small increase of the appropriation, a further message from the Governor-General is necessary.
– It is my intention to move certain amendments to this bill and also to the Wheat Bounty Bill. As I do not wish to have my amendments ruled out, as was done yesterday, I ask for a direction as to the correct time to move these amendments?
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).The position is quite different; the honorable member need have no fears.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported, and - by leave - adopted.
– I declare the bill an urgent bill.
Question agreed to -
That the bill be considered an urgent bill.
Allotment of Time.
– I move -
That the time allotted in connexion with the bill be as follows: -
For the second reading - until 12.50 p.m. this day.
For the committee stage - until 1.35 p.m. this day.
For the reportstage - until 1.40 p.m. this day.
For the third reading - until 2 p.m. this day.
In order to facilitate the business of the Senate, and to allow this bill to be debated there in conjunction with other cognate measures, I have requested honorable members, and have secured the permission of Mr. Speaker, to sit over the usual luncheon hour. That will prevent an all night sitting.
.- I regret this rush. Until a moment ago honorable members had had no opportunity even to see the time-table proposed in connexion with this measure. It would appear that the methods of the Government, as well as the business of the country, are being rushed. Surely courtesy demands that honorable members shall know a few minutes in advance the intention of the Government. Half an hour is proposed for the second reading.I suggest that no time at all for the second reading would be better than 30 minutes, because that period will allow of only one speech on the second reading. It would be better to go into committee forthwith. Last night, in connexion with another urgent bill, we had the experience of a Minister receiving the second last call and of a supporter of the Country party following him. Both made similar charges; but the operation of the guillotine denied those against whom the charges were levelled an opportunity to reply to the charges, notwithstanding that they had a most effective reply.
Motion - byleave - amended to read as follows and agreed to: -
That the time allotted in connexion with the hill be as follows: -
For the second reading - until 12.20 p.m. this day.
For the committee stage - until 1.35 p.m. this day.
For the report stage - until 1.40 p.m. this day.
For the third reading - until 2 p.m. this day.
Debate resumed from the 11th Decem ber (vide page 1036) on motion by Dr. Earlepage -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- I should like to address myself to this bill and the other cognate measures, but as the time at my disposal is so limited I shall seek another opportunity to express my views on the subjects covered by them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to ll agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - 5a. “ A wheat-grower shall not be entitled toreceive assistance under thisact unless -
The proposed new clause is identical with a provision which appeared in our wheat relief legislation last year, and, consequently, I feel that honorable members who supported it last year should do so this year, for. the circumstances have not varied to any material degree. Every honorable member of the committee believes that the wheat industry should be afforded relief, but opinions differ widely as to how that relief should be given. A measure providing for the imposition of a sales tax on flour was passed at our last sitting, and in the course of the debate on it, honorable members on this side of the chamber stated that by far the larger proportion of the tax would be collected from the poorer classes of the community, and I do not think that this view was seriously challenged. In that circumstance, I cannot believe that any honorable member with a sense of fair play would approve of the distribution of the money so collected being distributed to farmers who are not in necessitous circumstances. During the last four years we have heard a great deal about equality of sacrifice. If honorable gentlemen opposite are sincere in the belief that sacrifices should be made by all sections of the community, they may show it by voting for my amendment. We discovered last night the extent to which the Government desired to go in collecting the sales tax on flour, for the impost will undoubtedly be placed even upon some classes of invalid food. Surely no one desires that money collected from such taxation shall be distributed later to people who are not at all in need of it.
– Would the honorable member extend relief to farmers whose necessitous circumstances are due to their own incompetence?
– It is very difficult to determine what constitutes incompetence in agricultural operations. It may be said that because a farmer was not generous enough in his use of fertilizers, or because he did not fallow his land his results were not as good as they ought to have been that, therefore, he was incompetent. I would not set myself up as an authority on that point, nor, in view of the room for differences of opinion among experts, would I set up any other person as an authority upon it.
– Surely if a farmer needs assistance it should be given to him.
– That is my view. We do not wish to hold post-mortems. Many farmers who have worked long hours and suffered severely in some cases, perhaps through their own negligence may be in need of assistance and, ifso, they should be afforded it; but I do not think that money collected by means of a flour tax, principally from the poorest classes of the community, should be used to help people who are not in need. Many people in Australia engaged in wheat production are not wholly dependent upon it, and have done well in other activities which occupy their attention; or they may, perhaps, have income from other sources. Possibly, also, they have shown better judgment than some of their fellow producers, whose activities have been confined to wheat production. I do not wish to be personal, but I point out that some wheat producers were fortunate enough to be elected to this Parliament. If these honorable gentlemen have not been able to make a profit by production of wheat, they at least have their parliamentary income to help them to meet their commitments. We are not justified in asking taxpayers and bread consumers generally to supplement the income of, say, a member of this Parliament, or one receiving perhaps a substantial incomefrom some other source. Under the social legislation passed by this Parliament and by State parliaments, income from other sources is always taken into consideration. For instance, a person who has met with an accident and is entitled to workmen’s compensation has to submit to certain deductions in respect of payments received from a friendly society of which he is a member, and towards the funds of which he may have been contributing for many years. That being so, the same principle should apply in this case in connexion with the distribution of public funds. If wheat-growers are connected with other commercial activities from which they receive income, that income should be taken into consideration before any bounty payment is made to them. If this principle is good enough for pensioners and those entitled to receive workmen’s compensation or social services in other ways, it should be good enough for wealthy wheatgrowers.
– Is that principle embodied in other bounty legislation?
– If it is not, it should be. In normal times we were inclined to be more liberal in the distribution of public funds than we should be to-day as the conditions are entirely different. I press this amendment, which I trust will be regarded by a majority of the committee as fair and reasonable. Why should wheat-growers who are receiving incomes from other sources participate in a bounty provided to assist only those in necessitous circumstances, more particularly as the money has to be provided by taxpayers and bread consumers who are in a less fortunate position? The whole principle is unjust and I trust that those who made out a strong case, including some of the present Ministers, in support of the bill which contained this principle last year, will also support this amendment. I cannot forget the speech made when that measure was under consideration by the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Stewart), who was then Minister for Commerce. On that occasion he disclosed the fact that overseas interests, which by no stretch of imagination could be considered to be in necessitous circumstances, would receive a portion of the bounty if the proposal which the members of the Country party then advocated were agreed to. He convinced all other honorable members beyond all doubt that the provisions of the bill were just and equitable, and that there was no justification for the proposition submitted by the members of the Country party. I am also reminded of the fact that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) said that the measure was “ for the needy and not for the greedy “. There are some who are always willing to grasp everything that comes within their reach, but
Parliament should not assist them. The amendment I have moved should meet with the approval of those who supported a similar proposal last year, and those who piloted it through this chamber; because- the position to-day is even worse than it was last year. This Parliament should not tax the poor and needy for the purpose of handing large sums of money to those who at the moment are not in want.
.- I never fail to notice the contrast between the Labour party’s protestations when in opposition and its actions when in office. When the Labour Government .was in control in this Parliament, it introduced various proposals to assist the wheat farmers, including a bounty of 4£d. a bushel on wheat, but in none of these was there a provision similar to the amendment moved by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). I therefore ask: What sincerity can there be in gestures which are made when in opposition, but not when in office?
I wish to rebut the false charges made last night by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) that I, like other honorable members he named, are financially interested in this proposal. During the whole of my life I have never been financially interested in one bushel of wheat, but wild charges which have no substance are flung around this chamber and reported in the press.
The Government is opposed to the suggested discriminatory action because in the first place, of its desire to afford relief to farmers in necessitous circumstances at the earliest possible moment; and, secondly, on the broad principle involved. What is the position? By the inclusion of a provision similar to that suggested by the honorable member for West Sydney in the wheat bounty legislation passed last year, many who grew wheat last year have not yet received the bounty. During the election campaign in September, I visited many large wheatgrowing centres where I was informed that although the Wheat Bounty Bill was rushed through Parliament in December, nine months had elapsed and they had as yet received no assistance.
– Whose fault was that?
– The honorable member, who also visited some of the wheat districts, knows that dozens of farmers had not received that to which they were entitled because of such a discrimination as is now proposed. The Government is anxious that the bill shall be passed before Parliament adjourns this week so that prompt payment may be made to those in necessitous circumstances^ If the amendment were incorporated in the bill, payment of the bounty would in some instances be delayed unduly. Otherwise there would be no possibility of payment until certificates were obtained from the Commonwealth Taxation Department and, as the amendment apparently requires, also from the State Income Tax Department. A great many wheat-growers in dire need are paying unemployment relief tax in New South Wales. These would be automatically excluded under the Labour amendment. Furthermore, the effect of discrimination would be to increase unduly the Cost of administration and create anomalies. An increase of the cost of administration could only result in one of two things; either the farmer would get less or the taxpayer would have to pay more. The anomalies that would be created if the honorable gentleman’s amendment were accepted must be apparent to all honorable members. It is well known that, although a farmer may have an income from other sources, he may have suffered heavy losses in connexion with his farming operations. If the amendment were accepted, that man would not be able to obtain any of this bounty.
Quite apart from these aspects of the case, I am personally opposed to the amendment on broad general grounds of principle. This bounty is to provide assistance to the wheat-growing industry as a whole. When other measures for general tariff protection or bounties are discussed, there is no suggestion of discrimination against the shareholders in the particular industry to be assisted, who are able to make profits as the result of their activities. As a matter of fact, a duty is levied or a bounty paid to enable a fair margin of profit to the manufacturer or producer in a particular industry concerned. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) in his policy speech advocated a compulsory wheat pool which did not permit of any discrimination between the farmer who had an income and the farmer who had not. If that is so, why should he seek to discriminate in this matter? The wheat industry is of the greatest value to the Commonwealth; it responded to the call made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) to increase the total production of Australia in order to assist our exports during a time of stress, and to bring the bounty down to the level of a dole is not worthy of this Parliament.
.- The right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) has said that to bring the bounty payable to this industry down to the level of the dole is unworthy of this Parliament. But the Government with which he has become associated did this very thing last year. I agree with most of what the honorable gentleman said of the principle underlying bounties. I believe that bounties should be given to an industry, regardless of the individuals in the case. But I suggest to the right honorable gentleman, when he begins to lay down fundamental principles, that he -should stand up to them. It is true that the honorable member for West Sydney advocates a compulsory pool which does not provide for discrimination. It is also true that the Government which I led provided a bounty in the payment of which there was no discrimination. But in neither proposition was it proposed to place a tax on the bread of the people. I cannot see my way to agree to the placing of a tax on the poor in order to pay a bounty to the wealthy. The principle of doing justice to the people of the community was violated by the Government when it proposed in a mean spirit to raise £1,500,000 by a tax on bread. There is a vast difference between an organized pool, in the operation of which it is possible to clip the wings of manipulators and market riggers, and to ensure that the industry is not exploited by them, and one in which Parliament says that food speculators may have a free hand. But when Parliament also proposes to tax the bread of the people to make up an amount which is to be paid willy nilly to the farmers, I think it is time to protest.
.- I hope the committee will not favorably consider the amendment moved by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). I resent the remarks of the honorable member in which he classed the assistance to be given to this industry as a social service. We are dealing with one of the greatest industries in Australia and a great effort is being made to do something to rehabilitate it. The industry is being destroyed by two things, one the great fall of export prices and the other the penalty imposed upon it by the policy insisted upon by this Government, which makes the cost of production in Australia double what it is in any other country. Our desire should be to rehabilitate this industry, to give it an opportunity to make good. The annual report on bankruptcy administration received only this morning discloses that an enormous number of sequestrations and compromises have been made in South Australia and Western Australia. Those two State’s are suffering severely as the result of the policy of the present Government, and will gain nothing from this amendment. It is very difficult to. understand just what is meant by necessitous circumstances. Last year the Commonwealth handed over the money to the State governments for distribution to necessitous farmers. But the Western Australian Government held that if a farmer was possessed of a motor car, no matter how out of date, he could not be classed as being in necessitous circumstances. In many cases these farmers lived from 15 to 35 miles from the nearest markets, and the possession of a motor car was a necessity. But the cities are full of motor cars, despite the fact that trams and railways are provided for the convenience of the people. Let me emphasize the enormous value of the wheat industry to the people of Australia, and its importance as a factor in providing employment. At the Rome Wheat Conference it was pointed out that every nation in the world recognized that the prosperity of the farmers was absolutely essential to national well-being. In the last five years, Australia has exported wheat to the value of £102,000,000, and flour to the value of £23,000,000, which has resulted in the building up of credits in Australia that could be used for providing employment. Last year, Western Australia exported £16,000,000 worth of goods, comprising gold, wheat and wool. It bought goods to the value of £3,550,000 from oversea countries, leaving a surplus of £12,450,000, of which more than £9,000,000 was spent in the purchase of manufactured articles from the Eastern States. It is only by the creation of credits as the result of exports that we are able to provide the people with purchasing power, a fact which was amply demonstrated during the depression, when more than 100,000 persons were dismissed from factories in Australia because there was no demand for the goods which those factories produced. The great purpose of providing assistance to the wheat industry is to reestablish the purchasing power of the community, and to enable the farmers to go on producing. In Western Australia and South Australia, thousands of farmers have already abandoned their holdings, some of them after having been in possession for fifteen years, and after having sunk capital to the extent of more than £2,000. It is unfair to class the wheat farmers with old-age pensioners, because the only way in which the pensioners or any one else can be assisted is to restore the prosperity of those industries which wring wealth from i lie soil.
– We have listened to that argument for the last twenty years.
– The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) is prepared to support measures for bolstering up the sugar and glass industries, yet he cavils at doing the fair thing by a great primary industry upon which the prosperity of the nation depends. When I gave evidence before the Tariff Board some time ago I asked that the duty on agricultural machinery be abolished, pointing out that in Canada, machinery was being sold at half the price for which it. could be bought in Australia, although wages in Canada were higher than here. 1 object to the suggestion of the honorable member for West Sydney that the assistance to be granted to the wheatfarmers should be regarded in the light of a dole.
– The honorable member for West Sydney made no such suggestion. As a matter of fact, the refer*ence was made by the Acting Leader of the House.
– This debate has been somewhat lopsided up to the present. We have heard a great deal regarding the need for assisting the wheat-farmers, but little or no attempt has been made to place the whole problem in its true perspective. Whenever any honorable member on this side of the House has sought to place a balanced view before honorable members, he has been accused of wishing to deny a proper measure of assistance to the farmers. That is not so. I am not opposed, nor is any member of my party, to the rendering of assistance to the primary producers. Surely we have already given sufficient evidence of that. Not a single vote from the Opposition has been cast against proposals to help the farmers by making available supplies for artificial manures, or by the payment of bounties where they have been necessary; but when we ask that other sections of the community who are in equal need of help should receive some consideration, notone voice from the “other side of the House is raised in our support. I can see nothing wrong in “ the proposal that those farmers who are to receive a share of this bounty should establish their claim to it. When other sections of the community seek assistance from public revenue, they are subjected to the most careful examination as to means, &c, before their claims are granted. Why should not the same apply to the farmer? Our suggestion is that those distributing the bounty should inquire not into the capital value of a farmer’s holding, but merely into the farmer’s income, to see whether he is really in need of succour before it is granted to him. There is no just reason why the treatment of wheat-growers should be different from that of others.
When we were discussing the need for providing some permanent form of relief for the wheat industry we were told by the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Nock) that it was not the duty of the wheat-growers to co-operate with the community in trying to bring about a compulsory wheat pool or other stabilization scheme. You, Mr. Chairman, like a good many other people in this chamber, are very conservative and cautious, but I have enough respect for the broadness of your judgment to believe that you would think it your duty as a representative of the primary producers to co-operate with other sections of the community in an attempt to arrive at a formula which would help everybody concerned. It is surely the duty of all honorable members to devise a comprehensive policy which, whilst it brings permanent relief to the wheat-growing industry, will not bear harshly on other sections of the community as this flour tax must. There ave other people besides the primary producers to be considered. The wheatgrower is not directly a large employer of labour, but he should be encouraged, because he is engaged in a primary industry. Transport of produce utilizes most of the labour engaged. We give protection to the growers of rice, tobacco, almonds and other primary products, because we get from them in return work and wages. The flour tax will not give similar results. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) was quite wrong in saying yesterday that the imposition of a tax on flour would save this country, because it was in line with the belief of economists all over the world that the only hope of bringing about business restoration lay in the increase of prices. The right honorable member must have known that he was wrong when he made that assertion, because he is a student of economics, and no student of economics believes that such a result can be achieved by an artificial increase of prices. The only occasion on which an increase of prices helps the community is when it is due to an increased demand for goods and services. The policy now put forward by the Government will . create no greater demand. It will raise the price of bread, but so far from creating a fresh demand for bread, it will curtail the consumption.
Everybody who renders useful service to the community - and that means everybody who works - adds something to its wealth. No wheat-farmer in Australia can buy any of the agricultural machinery referred to by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) unless he pays for it out of the recapitalization of the profit that he has made out of his employees; yet no suggestion comes from the wheat-growers or from their representatives on the other side ‘ of the chamber that their employees should receive some share of this bounty. Speaking generally, the wheat-grower has no consideration whatever for any other section of the community. I base that statement on the way in which his representatives have behaved in these debates, and on the votes they have recorded whenever we have asked them to show at least some little consideration for another section of the people. The honorable member for Swan stated that the agricultural machinery used by Australian wheat-growers was more expensive to them than was similar machinery to the wheat-growers of Canada, even though wages were higher in Canada. Never was a more incorrect statement made in this chamber. All the figures furnished by the Statistician, the Customs Department and the Tariff Board prove that agricultural implements have become cheaper in Australia since their manufacture was protected. Agricultural implements made in this country can be bought cheaper here than can similar types imported from Canada, and the same thing applies in New Zealand ; yet the honorable member for Swan repeats his incorrect statement year after year. In fact, some of the parts put into agricultural machinery in Canadian factories are made at the Sunshine factory in Victoria, and workmen were sent from Australia to Canada to assist in the new factory established by the Sunshine Company there. The Australian concern took that step rather than allow rival Canadian manufacturers to use its patents. .1 challenge the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) who now interjects, to mention four or five types of machines - not isolated instances - generally used in Australia and imported from any other country, which are cheaper here than Australian-made machines of the same quality.
– Take the duty off and see what the result will be.
– The honorable member may get all the information available from the Customs Department and the Tariff Board, and I. will still stake my reputation on the assertion that the facts will contradict the statement made by the honorable member for Swan, and prove that the machines made in Australia are cheaper than the American ones sold in Argentina and New Zealand. I wish to help this legislation which has been brought forward by the Government to assist the wheat-growers, because I know that some of them require help, but I intend also to vote for the amendment in view of statements made on more than one occasion by honorable members opposite who represent wheat-growers. When my party was in office it proposed a bounty on wheat, which was questioned by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker) on the ground that although some wheat-growers needed help many others did not. Some wheatgrowers in Australia can make a slight profit upon wheat at ls. or ls. 6d. a bushel less than the price at which other growers can. In all the States there are some growers cultivating land which has been in their families for many years, having been bought at low prices. As the value of their land has never been inflated, they can grow wheat and sell it at present-day rates without losing money; but hundreds of others cannot. This fact alone suggests that we ought to discriminate if we can do so, without imposing any unreasonable indignity upon those who apply for the bounty. The result of the amendment, if it is carried, will simply be to require the wheat-growers, like other sections of the community, to answer certain questions before they, receive any share of the money. There can be nothing wrong in that proposition. I know the difficulties of discrimination. The Scullin Government did not discriminate because it was difficult to do so, but there is now before us a formula which “would enable that to be done. Every citizen has to answer official questions regarding his income. That has applied for years to wheat-growers ae well as to all others. They can, therefore, answer without hardship on this occasion. There is no reason why they should be treated differently from other sections of the community. We desire to help them because they are engaged in a fundamental industry, and not because they are better men than those to be found in other occupations. Theirs is not the only industry in the country. Their industry will never regain its previous position of usefulness until there is a greater demand’ for their product. The fault lies with the loss of world trade generally, the loss of trade in this country, the falling off in employment, and the consequent reduction of the spending power of the people, added to the same state of affairs in other countries. These are the causes which have brought about the existing stalemate in the wheat industry in Australia and elsewhere. The imposition of a tax on flour, increasing the price of bread and reducing the demand for both, will have a ‘tendency to restrict rather than to increase consumption. The demand for goods, services and products cannot be stimulated in that way. On the other hand, the imposition of a duty to protect an industry means the building up of the spending power of the country since it makes for more work and wages.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I emphatically protest against this amendment, which would, in effect, place a penalty upon efficiency and success. If the wheat industry, like other primary industries, is to recover, we must do everything possible to encourage the efficiency of those who are managing to succeed in the face of difficulties. Practically every honorable member is prepared to admit that one of the solutions at which we have to aim is the concentration of wheatfarming upon our good wheat lands, and the elimination of marginal land, upon which wheat-farming will never be profitable. We have in this country millions of acres which no not average a yield of 6 bushels an acre. On such country, no matter what assistance we may give, within reason, it is not possible for the wheat industry to be efficient and successful. We must, therefore, encourage men who are farming efficiently on the right type of land. One of my few criticisms of the last Lyons Government was that it gave way to a suggestion, similar to this, last year with regard, not only to the bounty to wheatgrowers, but also the assistance to exporters of apples and pears. The adoption of this principle was very greatly resented in my electorate, where men who, by great thrift, long experience and a high measure of efficiency, were not eligible, under the hardship section of the act, to receive the assistance provided. They had to draw upon their capital and keep going while assistance was given to the less-experienced and less-efficient. If Australia is to pull through its difficulties we must fight against the policy advocated by some honorable members on both sides of the House, who are ready to believe that the solution of our problem is to be found by dragging down the successful and efficient man, and by bolstering up those who, because of inefficiency or hard luck, are not successful. I shall content myself with this short protest against the amendment. I rose chiefly to draw the attention of the committee to the growing tendency to penalize success and efficiency.
.- In view of all the circumstances, the amendment moved by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) is a very reasonable one. I know that the official Opposition will be chided with not having discriminated in the measure which it introduced in this Parliament in 1931. Whilst it is true that the Labour Government of that day did not discriminate in the payment of the bounty, the position to-day is altogether different because of the method by which this Government proposes to finance the bounty. With restrictions on world marketing and a carry over of 1,100,000,000 bushels of wheat on the world’s markets, thereis a lot to be said against giving bounties to people, in comparatively affluent circumstances, who grow wheat as a sideline, and thus in crease the production. Among specialists in the wheat industry - men who are trying to find solutions of the problems which confront it - there is a big body of opinion in favour of some world restriction of wheat production. I do not belong to that school of thought, but there are many who say that the future of the wheat industry is very black. Any return to high prices while there is such a huge carry-over as 1,100,000,000 bushels is absolutely impossible. Why has there been such a change among Nationalist members in regard to the bounty ?
– Why such a change on the part of members of the Labour party?
– The changed attitude of honorable members on this side is due to the contemptible method by which this bounty is to be financed. We object to the imposition of a bread tax on the poorest sections of the people in order to pay this bounty to people, many of whom are not in need of it. There are in Australia 60,000 struggling farmers who are having a very bad time. These we would help, but the Government would not be justified in paying to others who grow wheat as a sideline, and have other incomes, a bounty raised by a bread tax on the poorest of the people. There has been a tremendous change in the views of members of the Nationalist party. When the last Wheat Bounty Bill was before the House in 1933, Mr. Latham, then Deputy Leader of the Nationalist Government, said -
It certainly is not the idea of the Government to propose a flour tax, and to allow any associated measure to remain in such a form as to make it even possible for the income limitation to he ignored … It would not be a proper distribution if the money were allowed to be received by persons who, although wheat-growers do not need the assistance which this bill provides. The basis of the proposal of the Government is that it is proper to define the area of need and to confine the distribution of moneys, so far as it can fairly be done, to that area. Any money distributed outside that area to people who are not in need would diminish the money that could be received under the measure by the people within the area.
The ex-Minister for Commerce (Mr. Stewart) also held very strong opinions on this question. He said -
I do not like the flour tax, and should like it still less if some of the proceeds were to go into the pockets of those who participated largely in the bounty which was distributed in former years. I have had prepared for me figures showing the amounts paid under the schemewhich was in operation two years ago for the assistance of the wheat-growers.
The figures for last year are not available, because the money was distributed by the States. The list of amounts paid to individual growers include the following: - £1,466 14s.11d., £1,434 19s. 7d., £1,006 9s. 9d., £783, £515 5s.6d., £480 19s. 5d., £475 13s. 4d.. £1,339, £.1,258, £958, £791, £714, £702, £4,381, £1,483, £1,283, £1,252, £1,170, £826. £771, £760.
Does any honorable gentleman stand for such benevolence to those who do not need it? The honorable member for Parra- matta (Mr. Stewart), who is also a member of the Government, pointed out, as a glaring example of the iniquity of payments of this kind being made to people in affluent positions, that a wealthy overseas company, which was not registered in Australia but which had interest in wheat, received £1,400, although it also made huge profits in other enterprises. I hold that the needy wheatgrower in Australia should receive every assistancefrom this Government. The Labour party has always been in the forefront in advocating the establishment of orderly marketing schemes, a compulsory wheat pool, and general assistance to wheat-growers in distress, but we do not stand for such action as has been disclosed by the honorable member for Parramatta, whereby the Government allows absentee companies and wealthy farmers to participate in such assistance. It was never intended that such parties should share in the benefits of relief legislation. When any section comes to the Government for aid, invariably it has to prove to the Government that it is in need of such assistance.
– What did the honorable gentleman do for the overseas match combine?
– Individually, I did nothing for those interests, The Australian match manufacturers, together with other manufacturers were protected against imports from cheap-labour countries. As a result of the protectionist policy of the Labour party, there are today 60,000 more Australian workers engaged in Australian factories, who improve the local market for the wheat, butter, meat, and other primary products of this country. The Acting Leader of the House (Dr. Earle Page) himself admitted that the increased consumption of wheat had been due to the greater demand on the Australian market. That would not have been possible but for the protectionist policy which this party stands for. The payment of any portion of this bounty to wealthy interests cannot be justified, particularly when such a bounty is provided by a tax placed on bread, which is a commodity indispensable to the poor and unemployed.
.- The Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) said that the Government had included among those to whom the bounty would be paid farmers who had taxable incomes last year, because of the difficulty which had been experienced by the States in distributing the bounty last year. I say, emphatically, that that is not the real reason why the Government adopted its present plan. It was forced todo so by the pressure deliberately brought to bear on it by members of the Country party. Every man in a country town who voted for a Country party candidate at the last election will now realize that the Country party is out to squeeze the last penny out of the people in order that the wealthy farmer, regardless of the claims of the poor farmer, shall benefit. I say without fear of contradiction that when framing its legislation for the assistance of thewheat industry last year the Government recognized that the only equitable basis on which a bounty could be paid was the elimination of the wealthy farmer. The Minister for Commerce must know that any wheat-farmer who had a taxable income last year has no right to participate in this bounty to be partly financed by a tax on the bread of the people. The wheat industry cannot stand on its own, because the wheatfarmer refuses to manage his own business properly, and because for the last four years he has incessantly been coming to this Parliament to beg for aid. And the Government has been weak enough to grant such requests. In the debateon the wheat industry legislation last year, I mentioned the case of a farmer who had participated in the payment of a bounty despite the fact that in addition to his farm he owned 2,000 ewes, and derived extra revenue from wool and meat. The Acting Leader of the House (Dr. Earle Page) deliberately misled honorable gentlemen as to the reasons which actuated the Government to abandon the equitable principle contained in last year’s legislation. The Government, I repeat, was forced to change its policy on this matter because its majority was reduced at the last election, and the Country party has secured control of the Government to the detriment of those interests which the previous Government protected. This bill is neither fair nor honest, and offends every ethical principle. If this sort of thing is to continue, God help the country, for it cannot expect square and honest administration on the part of the Government. It is well known that last year’s bounty could have been distributed in New South Wales without any trouble, because owing to the State measures for the relief of farmers, the financial position of all wheat-growers was on record, and readily available, and there was no possibility, had that Government distributed the bounty, of any undeserving farmer receiving payment. However, many farmers would not put in their claims until they found out how they could put in a return which would ensure their application being granted. Mr. Main, the Minister for Agriculture, stated that this relief had not been distributed up to September last, because many farmers had not sent in their returns.
.- The Labour party recognizes that the wheat industry should be assisted; our complaint is against the method to be adopted to assist the growers. It will be a disgrace to the Parliament, if we tax the bread of the poor in order to pay a bounty to the rich. It is stated on page 29 of the first report of the royal commission that over 30 per cent. of the growers can produce wheat at a profit for less than1s. 11d. a bushel. If that be so, they are not entitled, even at present prices, toa bounty raised by a tax on the bread of the poor.
– Did the honorable member tell them that in Dubbo?
– I do not believe that Dubbo farmers who can produce wheat at under 2s. a bushel would ask for a bounty at the expense of the poor. The policy which the Government has adopted in framing this measure is totally opposed to all the recognized principles of taxation.
– I desire to reply to some of the arguments used by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn), who said that, if the proposal of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) were adopted, it would impose a penalty on efficiency, and place a premium on inefficiency. I point out that 31 per cent. of the growers, according to the report of the royal commission, are producing at a cost of1s.11d. a bushel, or less.
– That figure makes no allowance for interest payments.
– I have quoted the figures given by the Commission on page 29 of its report. Nobody can deny that the 25,000 growers in the Commonwealth who are producing wheat at that figure are no worse off, to put it mildly, than the 36,000 fruit-growers, most of whom are losing very heavily. Those farmers are not in worse circumstances than the average poultry farmer, for instance. They are not in such a position that they cannot afford to be a little patriotic, and leave a modicum of money in the Commonwealth Treasury to assist their brother primary producers who have suffered infinitely more than they have. Even allowing for interest and all other charges, the farmers who can produce wheat at less than 2s. a bushel -
– The time allowed for the consideration of the bill in committee has expired.
Question - That theproposed new clause (Mr. Beasley’s amendment) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairma n - Mr. Prowse.)
Majority . . 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) pro posed -
That the billbe now read a third time.
.- I take this opportunity to repeat the protest that I voiced at earlier stages of the measure against members of Parliament recording votes upon matters in which they have a direct personal pecuniary interest.
– The honorable member voted to increase his own allowance.
– Having voted against that proposal, the honorable member for Riverina accepted the increase, and was thus guilty of hypocrisy.
– Of those who are said to be directly interested in the distribution of this relief, two have made denials of the charge, but not a word has been said by the other eight regarding their position. Despite the ruling of the Chair, I say quite definitely that, according to my reading of the Standing Orders, they do not justify the recording of votes by those honorable members.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).Order! The honorable member raised this point yesterday, and I then quoted Standing Order 296 as having reference to the matter. I am not aware of the private interests of any honorable member which may conflict with this standing order.
– I am availing myself of this opportunity to protest against the proposal of the Government to distribute a portion of the money raised by means of the flour tax among persons who are not in necessitous circumstances. SinceI previously referred to the matter, I have received a congratulatory telegram from a man who signs himself “ Wheat Farmer,” and who evidently is competent to understand the position of some honorable members. I endeavoured to place this communication before the House by means of a question to the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) this morning; but the right honorable gentleman apparently anticipated the nature of my inquiry-
– Order ! The honorable member must deal with the question before the Chair.
– I am protesting against these men who are interested-
– Order ! The honorable member was proceeding to protest against the attitude of the Prime Minister at question time this morning.
– I am protesting against the action of the Government in distributing a portion of the proceeds of the flour tax among persons who are not in necessitous circumstances. This is the fourth occasion upon which the wheat-growers have come to this Parliament for a dole, and on each of them the Government has used different arguments in support of its measures. There was a great deal of merit in the argument of the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane), that the Government had been bludgeoned into the acceptance of the principle of handing out to persons who are not in necessitous circumstances money raised by means of a tax upon the poor. When the last Government, which was composed entirely of persons holding identical political opinions on all matters, introduced a flour tax, it would not agree to the proposal of the Country party that there should be no discrimination in the distribution of the relief and that the men in good circumstances should participate in it equally wilh those who needed it. An election followed, with the result that this House was so constituted that, the members of the United Australis party were unable, to form a government without the assistance of the Country party. £t is because the Government has to rely upon support from that quarter that we find a modification of their views in this particular measure. Many honorable members of the United Australia party who were in the last Ministry have had to swallow the words that they uttered when supporting its proposals. The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Stewart), the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White), and others, who referred to last year’s measure as one to assist the needy and not the greedy, this morning walked across the chamber and voted for the greedy, because they are anxious to preserve their positions.
– Order ! The honorable member may deal only with votes that may or will be recorded. He is not entitled to reflect upon any vote that has already been given.
– I was endeavouring to explain the matter to honorable members while they still have an opportunity to preserve the rights of those unfortunate people outside who are not able to speak on their own behalf. Because of the position that a number of men hold in this House, they are able to record a vote upon a matter in which they are directly interested, namely, the distribution of the money to be raised by means of the flour tax. There is a growing antagonism, even at this early stage, to the action of the Government. The policy now being followed was not enunciated by it, nor was the matter discussed by any member of the United
Australia party or the United Country party, during the last election campaign.
– That is not true.
– If these honorable members were to face the electors to-morrow upon such an issue as this, many of them would not be returned to this Parliament to support a proposal to take money from the Treasury and place it in their own pockets at the expense of the poor people of this country. I have, as I have already said, received a telegram upon the subject. It reads -
Congratulations on your exposure hypocritical wheat-farmer politicians. Urge you use all means prevent parliamentarians benefiting as a result imposition of flour tax.
That telegram is signed by a man who styles himself “ wheat-farmer.” When one wheat-farmer is sufficiently publicspirited to place the well-being of the nation before his own personal interests, what must be the opinion of the majority of the public outside Parliament?
– On a point of order, I ask, Mr. Speaker, if an honorable member is entitled to quote from a telegram imputing hypocrisy to members of this House, without giving the name of the sender of the telegram.
– The standing order governing this matter provides that if a Minister makes a quotation from a public document, he may be required to table the document; but that, in the case of a private member, there is no such obligation.
– I submit that an honorable member is not entitled to quote from a document statements which, if made by a member within the chamber, would not be permitted. The test in this case is whether the statement contained in the telegram - that certain members in this chamber are political hypocrites - is of such a nature as would be permitted in this House. If an honorable member is not entitled to call another, member a political hypocrite, then I submit that a quotation from a telegram couched in such language cannot be allowed.
– That is a different point altogether.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).As to the point of order raised by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), the honorable membe for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) has stated the position clearly. As to the further point mentioned by the honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom), I rule that an honorable member is not entitled to quote from any document offensive remarks which he himself would not be permitted to make in this chamber. Merely under the cover of a quotation an honorable member is not entitled to use offensive language.
– I raise a further point of order. I ask whether your ruling, sir, does not conflict with a previous ruling, given in connexion with a motion concerning myself which the honorable member for Barker desired to move.
– No. Surely the honorable member’s memory is clear regarding the point at issue on that occasion. The ruling then was that the subject could not be discussed as a question of privilege.
– I protest against the action of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) who said that I was one of the members who have a financial interest in the bill under discussion.
– On a point of order. Is the honorable member entitled at this stage to protest against the remarks of another honorable member made yesterday? If so, we could all protest on one ground or another.
– I understand that the honorable member for Barker was protesting against something said during this debate by the honorable member for East Sydney. If his protest had reference to another measure, concerning which a decision has already been reached, it would not be in order, and the honorable member would not be entitled to proceed.
– I claim the right toreply to the charge made by the honorable member for East Sydney against members of my party, and myself in particular. Any honorable member who says, either in this chamber or outside of it, that I have any personal or financial interest in the Wheat Bounty Bill, the third reading of which we are now discussing, is guilty of wilful misrepresentation or is telling lies.
– Order !
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Declaration of Urgency.
– I declare the bill an urgent bill.
Question put -
That the bill be considered an urgent bill.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 19
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Allotment of Time.
Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) proposed -
That the time allotted in connexion with the bill be as follows: -
For the second reading - until 2.35 p.m. this day.
For the committee stage - until 3.25 p.m. this day.
For the reportstage - until 3.30 p.m. this day.
For the third reading - until 3.40 p.m. this day.
– The Minister for Commerce should have supplied the leaders of parties with A copy of this motion, for it was impossible for us to appreciate the effect of it while he was reading it so rapidly. A number of honorable members were not able even to hear what the right honorable gentleman said. More time should be allowed for the committee stage of the bill, for several pages of amendments have been circulated by the Minister himself, and I suppose he does not wish to exclude other honorable members from moving important amendments if they desire to do so.
– The Leader of the Opposition, and also the honorable member for West Sydney, both expressed a desire that there should be no delay in reaching the committee stage of the bill. For that reason only a few minutes has been allowed for the second-reading stage. It is necessary that this measure shall be considered by the Senate this afternoon.
– I oppose the proposal for a bread tax. Many honorable members have been denied the opportunity to speak on the second-reading debate on the two preceding bills which have dealt with the wheat industry. It is entirely unfair therefore that they should be denied an opportunity to express their views on the motion for the second reading of this bill. I object to the procedure that has been adopted.
.- It appears that a very ill-digested bill was introduced last week, for numerous Government amendments have since been circulated. It is impossible for honorablemembers, in the time at their disposal, to consider the real effect of these proposed alterations. I urge that the time for the consideration of the bill in committee should be extended for an hour.
Apparently the Government does not wish the circulated amendments to be considered in committee. Honorable members on both sides recognize that the most effective work can be done during the committee stage; but honorable members have no opportunity to read the amendments in conjunction with the provisions of the bill. If proceedings are conducted in this way half of the time of the next session will be occupied in rectifying mistakes and in endeavouring to indemnify the Government against claims which may be made as the result of passing ill-considered legislation. I ask the Minister for Commerce to increase the time allotted for the committee stage by one hour.
– That is impracticable, because the measure has to be sent on to the Senate this afternoon.
– I rise to a point of order. Is it competent to put a motion that the time allotted for the second reading of the bill shall expire at 2.10 p.m., when it is now 2.12 p.m.
– I conferred with the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) and also with the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), and with their concurrence altered the time allotted for the second reading of the bill from 2.35 to 2.10 p.m., because they intimated that they considered the time provided for the committee stage was too short.
– Apparently the Minister for Commerce altered the times to suit the convenience of honorable members.
– That is not entirely so. It is true that I requested that more time should be allowed for the committee stage; but when I examined the time I found that it was shorter than we could reasonably expect. I am not saying that an unfair advantage has been taken. The Leader of the Opposition and I perused a sheet of paper ; but in the few moments at our disposal we were unable to take in what the times actually were. It would have been more courteous of the Acting Leader of the House if he had given us at least ten minutes in which to study the times before moving his motion. Other Ministers have been most courteous to honorable members on this side of the chamber; but the Acting Leader of the House is very off-handed in his disregard of our representations.
– The times allotted for the discussion of various stages of the bill were apparently altered by arrangement with the leaders of the different parties. Under the Standing Orders the time allotted for the discussion upon a motion allocating time is half an hour, which time would be trespassed upon by the proposed time-table. If arrangements are made outside the Standing Orders between the Minister in charge of a bill and the leaders of parties, it makes the position of the Chair very difficult.
– If the Minister for Commerce is prepared to confer for a moment or two in order to see if the time provided for discussion in committee can be increased I shall endeavour to meet him.
– If the arrangement made is not satisfactory, the Acting Leader of the House had’ better revert to the original times.
– I am prepared t,o amend the motion to provide that the period allotted for the second reading of the bill shall expire at 2.35 p.m.
– The Minister amended the time-table so that the time allotted for the second reading should expire at 2.10 p.m., and we discussed the proposal to terminate the second reading debate at 2.10 p.m. I ask now is it permissible for the Minister, willy nilly, to withdraw one motion and substitute another without the leave of the House?
-The honorable member for West Sydney is adopting a somewhat extraordinary attitude. He has already pointed out that the time allotted could not be adhered to because the time allowed had already elapsed, but when I informed the Acting Leader of the House that the arrangement could not stand, the honorable member has again protested.
– I rise to a point of order. We were supplied with a typewritten sheet containing the allotment of times which the Minister originally intended to move, but the times he moved do not agree with those set out on the type-written sheet. If proceedings are to be conducted in this way it can result only in confusion, as honorable members would not know what stage had been reached.
– I have already ruled that the motion originally moved was not in order. The Acting Leader of the House has- now moved that the time for the second-reading stage of the bill shall be extended to 2.35 p.m. The question before the Chair is therefore that the times allotted shall be those set out on the paper circulated.
.- I protest against the guillotining of this measure. The Minister, in his anxiety to evade criticism, brings forward a timetable, and despite some attempt at prearrangement with party leaders, finds himself hoist by his own petard. The members of the Country party, who are supposed to represent country interests, have reduced this discussion to a farce. Honorable members are not given an opportunity to discuss important measures in a proper manner. As I pointed out yesterday, Country party members are monopolizing the whole of the time allowed for discussion, and are voicing opinions which we have heard year after year. That no new light has been shed on the subject has been because honorable members on this side of the House have not been given an opportunity to express their opinions. The other day the Attorney-General invited honorable members to pool the brain resources of this Parliament in an endeavour to find a solution of the pressing problems confronting this country, but immediately the Oppositon seeks to examine its legislation, the Government restricts discussion, and sheaves of amendments, drafted in the seclusion of ministerial party rooms, are introduced. That can only result in confusion. As the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) has pointed out, three or four sheets of amendments have already been introduced since the bill was brought down. That the Government has found it necessary to introduce these amendments is surely a sufficient indication that courtesy demands that honorable members should be given ample opportunity to discuss the details of the measures brought before them. The Government itself has found so many faults with this bill that it seems likely that the necessity for further amendments will be discovered as it is proceeded with. I protest against the imposition of the gag. I believe that the Acting Leader of the House (Dr. Earle Page) has brought forward this motion for no other reason than thathe desires to escape criticism.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker- - Hon. G. J. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 6th December (vide page 853) on motion by Dr. Earle Page -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In committee :
This act may be cited as the Wheat Growers Relief Act (No. 2) 1934.
.- I object to the title of the bill, because it indicates that this proposed legislation is opposed to the best interests of the wheat industry, and is contrary to the policy of the party to which I belong. We have had previous bills of a similar nature before us, giving millions of relief to the wheat industry from revenue and bread taxation, and during the last election campaign the leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page) stated in a speech broadcast on the 14th October - .
So far the Government has brought down no measure for the permanent improvement of the wheat-growers’ position, and the last three harvests the Country party has been compelled to fight for temporary assistance, securing grants of £3,500,000 in 1931, £2.000,000 in 1932, and £3,000,000 in 1933. We strongly objected to the passing of discriminatory conditions attached to these grants, which made them in effect a dole, while assistance through tariff protection to secondary industries is given without any such conditions.
My complaint is that the Government, by failing to apply a measure of permanent relief to this industry, is perpetuating its difficulties, and is, by a system of yearly doles, driving a wedge between the wheat industry and other primary industries, thus preventing their effective combination for the purpose of establishing proper marketing schemes. I have here copies of resolutions passed by a number of associations of primary producers, and all of them are to the effect that, instead of passing legislation of this kind, we should bring in some measure for the permanent relief of the rural industries in accordance with the policy of the Country party. In 1926, I continuously asked for an Australian organization, and succeeded in having included in the platform of the Country party a proposal for an alteration of the
Commonwealth. Constitution to enable the primary producers to control their products through all stages from the farm to the consumer. We should make it possible for primary producers, whether they raise wheat, fruit, maize, butter, fat lambs, beef, or any other commodity, to organize their industry on the New Zealand system. I made the same request in a motion moved in this House on the 29th August, 1929, again on the 27th March, 1930, and on the 15th September, 1932. The policy I advocated has recently been supported by the Council of Agriculture of Queensland, representatives of the- fat lamb and beef producers of various States, and citrus growers and other producers. It is hopeless, however, to look for any effective measure of co-operation among primary producers so long as the wheatgrowers are bought off each year by a Commonwealth dole of this kind.’ Wheatgrowers in the southern States are’ prepared to allow the other primary producers- to starve on their farms so long as they themselves are able to get this easy money year after year.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).The honorable member may not make a second-reading speech on the short title of tie bill.
– On the 15th December last I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) whether he would advocate at a Constitution Convention an alteration of the Constitution to give full trade and commerce powers to the Commonwealth. On the 28th March I received the following communication from his department: -
With further reference to your letter of the 15th December, 1933, regarding the suggestion that the Common wealth Constitution be amended with a view to vesting in the Commonwealth Parliament full trade and commerce powers, I desire to inform you that the question of the distribution of the powers relating to trade and commerce was discussed at the Premiers Conference which was held in Melbourne in February last, but that no agreement was reached in regard to the- matter.
If wheat-growers exerted themselves or organized, they could influence State governments and assist other industries which get no federal grants to secure the support of all State governments for such a scheme.
– On a point of order, I submit that every word of the honorable member’s speech is directed to the merits or demerits of the hill itself and not to the suitability, of its title.
– I have already directed the honorable member to confine his remarks to the clause. I shall not again draw his attention, to the necessity of following that course.
– Whilst the bill is termed a Wheat Growers Relief Bill, we have the opportunity to review what it is intended to do. The President of the Senate has sent to honorable members a Christmas card which illustrates the direction in which this relief will be given. It shows a farm with ten teams of four horses each, and 36 furrows being turned over in one operation. This is one of the wheat-farmers who will receive this relief.
– I do not see the connexion between the card issued by the President of the Senate and the clause. The honorable member must not disregard the direction of the Chair.
– On a point of order, I submit that if the honorable member wishes to alter the title of the bill, it is because he feels that it does not fit the purpose for which the bill is introduced. May he not give reasons for his belief and support it by arguments?
– The honorable member would be in order in doing so, but he has digressed abundantly.
– On the point of order, I claim that the honorable member is in order in referring to the card issued by the President of the Senate, illustrating the type of people to whom the relief is to be given. He was interrupted before he had completed his argument.
– All I want is to give wheat-growers the organization benefits enjoyed /by the sugargrowers and the dairy-farmers. The bill would not bear this title if the wheatgrowers and their representatives organized themselves as the dairying and other industries have done. All they do is to come along lazily at ;the end of the year and ask the Government for a dole, thus upsetting the Government’s finances and the bread of the poor, and because of their numbers they command an influence.
– The speech of the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) might have been accepted by the committee if this had been the first wheat bounty measure discussed in this chamber. During the last half hour, the honorable member has deliberately assisted the Labour party in an attempt to make the wheat bounty a dole to the farmers. The first Wheat Bounty Bill did not discriminate in the slightest between one grower and another. It treated all growers throughout the Commonwealth in the same way.
– On a point of order, may I ask what is the question before the committee, and what is the relevancy of the debate? I demand that the clause be put.
– To ask what is the question before the committee is not to raise a point of order. Clause 1 is before the committee. It deals with the title of the bill, and, so far, the right honorable the Minister for Commerce is in order.
– When introduced the last bill considered dealt with an equal distribution of the money to every wheat-grower throughout Australia, but an amendment was moved by the Lang Labour party to make it apply only to those who had no income. That was supported by the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser). The relief to be given by the bill now before the committee is not to be given without discrimination to every wheat-grower. It takes into account, not only the total production of the industry, but also the number of acres that the grower has sown, whether that sowing resulted in a big or a small crop. It was brought down for the specific purpose of helping farmers who had the bad luck through rust, drought or other causes, to be unable to obtain a decent crop. By it they will get a share of the money which is now being made available.
– And it will also help those who have sown on uneconomic land, will it not?
– It will to that degree. For many years I have opposed this principle, but this is a recommenda tion of the royal commission to meet the special circumstances of the case. The commission says that we ought to give certain money on a production basis, and other money on an acreage basis to overcome the disastrous effects of drought. That is all that this bill does. It gives, so far as acreage is concerned, 3s. an acre. It also gives on a production basis, and affords additional relief to necessitous growers. I regret, as much as the honorable member does, the necessity for it, but there is no escape from the position. Next year there will be a further sum of £572,000 made available to assist those men who have suffered more calamities than even the men who will be assisted under this bill.
– I move -
That after the word “ Growers “, the words ” Absentee owners and rural investors “ he inserted.
This will make the purpose of the bill clear. The right honorable the Minister says he believes that these rural industries should obtain relief from the Government.
– That is specifically provided against in this bill if the honorable member will take the trouble to read it.
– The right honorable the Minister says that the bill covers everybody who has grown wheat. It will therefore, enrich the rural investors who are using the people of this country, and also the absentee owners. The amended title which I suggest would be more in harmony with the truth than the title now given to the bill. The Government supports such people. We are opposed to that policy, and. think that the title of the bill should be so amended as to make it free from all ambiguity that this ‘ Government want3 to relieve absentee owners and rural investors who are buying up farm after farm. Because of the adverse exchange, they are keeping their money in the country, and using it to acquire the farms of those who are unable to meet their interest charges or pay their storekeepers’ bills. Absentee owners and overseas rural investors will reap the real benefit of the bill. The title, therefore, is not in. keeping with what the Government have in mind, and should be amended as proposed by me. The Government is not so much concerned about the farmers who are losing their holdings, and are being pressed to the wall, as it is with rural investors in other countries, whom it proposes to assist by means of revenue raised by a bread tax that falls most heavily on the poorest sections of the community. The Minister in charge of the bill (Dr. Earle Page) and the Minister in charge of War Service Homes (Mr. Thorby) are both Country party men yet they are prepared to support a bill designed to help those who farm the farmers rather than the farmers who are up against it.
– I submit that the amendment is not in order.
– I rule that the amendment is out of order on the ground that it is inconsistent with the terms of the Governor-General’s message.-
.- Since you, sir, have ruled that the amendment is not in order, I intend to oppose the clause. It must be patent to everyone who takes the slightest interest in the distribution of this bounty that the title of the bill as printed does not properly cover the distribution of the funds provided for under it. As pointed out by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) that absentee owners and overseas rural investors are to participate in this form of relief. The clause, therefore, is misleading because it provides that “ This act shall be cited as the Wheat Growers Relief Act.” The ex-Minister for Commerce (Mr. Stewart) when he was dealing with a similar measure last year said that the reason for discrimination was that the Government desired to assist only necessitous farmers. He pointed out - and by reason of his Ministerial office he was in an excellent position to know what he was talking about - that if the restrictions then proposed were not placed on the distribution of the bounty men who did not know how to grow a grain of corn - men whose only interest in wheat-growing was that they had invested their money by way of mortgage on wheat farms - .would participate in the bounty. The conditions which obtained last year prevail to-day. It is all very well for the Acting Leader of the House (Dr. Earle Page) to say that only wheat-farmers will receive this relief. Half the farmers in Australia today are mere chattel slaves of the banking and other financial institutions which control them by means of mortgages over their properties. They are the peoplethe people who farm the farmers - and not the farmers who grow the wheat who will benefit by this bill. Since the title of the bill as it stands is “ The Wheat Growers Relief Act “, we should see that the money distributed under it go only to those who grow wheat. Overseas investors who own farms or who have mortgages over farm properties in Australia, and of whom it can never be said that they will be “driven from their holdings because of the necessitous conditions that prevail to-day, should not be allowed to participate in any distribution <of moneys raised by means of a bread tax on the poor of this country. The title of the bill should set out clearly what honorable members know to be the intention of its framers. Thou.ands of farmers have no material interest in their holdings. They are merely the agents of people who have invested money in them and even if we provide that the bounty shall be payable only to wheatfarmers it will go ultimately in all such cases to the financial institutions. I do not wish to dispute your ruling, Mr. Chairman, but I contend that the title of the bill as it stands does not adequately describe its intention. The suggested amendment which you have disallowed, would have shown exactly the interests to be benefited under it-
.- The title of any bill should clearly indicate its object. The clause says, “ This act may be cited as the Wheat Growers Relief Act.” Every piece of legislation designed to afford relief postulates the granting of assistance to persons who are in distress. 1 agree that the distressed farmers should be given proper relief ; but this measure should conform to the Government’s general policy for the rehabilitation of rural industries. Ministers admit, however, that this legislation is merely a temporary expedient. The farmers, of course, are in need of assistance, largely owing to the exorbitant interest rates that are imposed upon them. This measure cannot be applied fairly to farmers who need no relief, and are infinitely better off than many of those who will have to pay tax to provide the bounty. How can it be truthfully said that honorable members of this committee, whose parliamentary allowance is sufficient to keep them in comfort, but who will benefit under this measure, are in need of relief? The title of the bill conveys a wrong impression to the public, and will enable men who are not entitled to assistance to extract money from the coffers of the Commonwealth. When proposals are under consideration for affording relief to invalid and old-age pensioners and returned soldiers, every possible inquiry is made with a view to limiting the payments to the lowest possible amount; but under this legislation largess is to be handed out to many who do not require it. A proper title would indicate to the public that the bill is designed to afford relief to some wheat-growers, and to make a gift to others who do not deserve it.
– Who are the undeserving people referred to?
– Does the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) not know that six or seven members of his own party, whose means of livelihood are ample, will put their hands into the public treasury, and drag out thousands of pounds as the result of this legislation?
– The honorable member knows that that statement is incorrect.
– Not one of those honorable gentlemen has denied what I have said. The average member of the public does not examine in detail the contents of bills passed through Parliament. In this instance he will probably read in a newspaper a short, sketchy item, and will be informed that a measure has been passed called “ The Wheatgrowers Relief Bill.” He will naturally conclude that the Government is doing the right thing by granting relief to persons who stand in need of it. Unfortunately, this largess is to be provided at the expense of the poorer section of the community. In a time of depression, particularly, this action is reprehensible, and I think the Government is guilty of a grave breach of faith which should not be tolerated in a democracy. If parliamentary institutions are to endure, and the name of democracy is not to stink in the nostrils of the people, legislation of this description should be given its proper name. It is a measure for the purpose of raiding the Treasury in the interest of persons who have no claim to the money to be paid to them. Something of that character should be placarded across this bill. I trust that this debate will afford a salutary lesson to the Government. It appears that we cannot now give the bill an adequate title, as the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) attempted to do, but we can register our opposition to the action of the Government in submitting legislation, the designation of which is totally misleading.
– After listening to the remarks of honorable members of the party led by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), I am satisfied that the Government could not have selected a better title than that given to this bill, and those honorable members have failed to suggest a more appropriate title. The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) drew largely on his own imagination, and proposed a title which included absentees and rural investors. He erected an Aunt Sally, and then knocked it over. We have no knowledge that such persons exist, so far as the wheat industry is concerned; we have merely the honorable gentleman’s word for it. Only one constructive proposal was submitted for the alteration of the title, and that was ruled out of order. Various honorable members have suggested that, by introducing the word “ relief “, we make it clear that a dole is to be given to the farmers. I cannot agree to that. Surely the Parliament can be honest, and indicate by the title of a bill what it proposes to do. The intention at thisjuncture is to give relief to the wheat industry; it is not proposed to do anything else. This measure provides virtually for a subsidy to the wheat industry, and all subsidies are forms of relief.
Members of the Country party have never suggested that the wheat industry needs a dole. We have always argued that it is a great national industry that is vital to the economic structure of this country, and all our actions in securing assistance for it are based upon that conception of its national character. The talk indulged in by members of the party led by the honorable member- for “West Sydney has caused so much waste of time, and the sinister suggestion has been made that the Country party is out to grease the palms of a number of wealthy land-owners who are interested in the industry. That, is not only an insult to the members of this party, but also a reflection upon the intelligence of honorable members generally. Everybody, I should imagine, recognizes the attitude of the Country party to the industry. We regard it, as I ‘have said, as the very foundation of our national structure. Declarations to that effect have been made by almost every speaker. The honorable member for West Sydney, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) prefaced their remarks by insisting that the industry needs assistance, not because about 70,000 farmers are down and out, but because they are engaged in an undertaking’ of great national importance. During the last two days the debate has strayed very widely from that aspect. The suggestion that certain honorable members and others engaged in the industry are not entitled te assistance was threshed out last year, and the experience of the ensuing twelve months has proved conclusively that the Country party was right and other parties were wrong. I am glad that some supporters of the Government have seen the error of their ways and are no longer prepared to support the pernicious principle of discrimination against any section of the primary producers. The moral effect of the bounty granted last year was largely vitiated by the discrimination exercised. Few of the wheatgrowers received any assistance for at least, six months after its passage, and the State authorities were unable to dispose of the majority of the claims for at least twelve months because the Taxation Department had to investigate the affairs of all wheat-growers. If that error is repeated, what will happen ? The amount of the bounty is being increased this year to £4,000,000, and we should merely leave the way open for a greater degree of muddle and chaos. The wheat-growers did not give this Parliament a great deal of thanks for last year’s bounty because of the discrimination and delay in its distribution, and the fact that every man’s affairs were made the subject of an inquisitorial investigation by taxation officials.
– That is done iti connexion with all social services.
– If relief is to be afforded to an industry it must be given quickly and not cause uneasiness and alarm among its recipients, which would happen under the proposal of those who argue that the title is incorrectly stated and that the relief is in the nature of a dole. In my electorate, which contains thousands of wheat-growers, I have seen numerous cases of hardship caused by discrimination. One man informed me that because he had paid 10s. in income tax he was deprived of bounty to the amount of £45. It was natural that he should feel aggrieved.
– Unemployed men in New South Wales are deprived of food relief if they receive only ls. over the permissible income.
– That is another matter which might be susceptible to justification. I am dealing with the question that has been raised on the issue of relief. Neither the Government -nor the Country party has said that this is other than a measure of relief. Moreover, we insist that it is only temporary relief. The Government, and particularly the Country party, proposes to evolve a permanent scheme of assistance to cover future years. We are not attempting camouflage, nor are we getting away with anything for the benefit of a few wheatgrowers who are members of our party in this Parliament. I am not a wheat-grower and am thankful on that account. Many persons who are growing wheat to-day are deserving more of pity than of envy. The larger their operations, the more sympathy they deserve. The royal commission on the wheat, bread, and flour industries has reported that 50 per cent, of the wheat-growers of Australia cannot produce at a profit at under 3s. a bushel, that the bulk of the remaining 50 per cent. cannot make a profit at less than 4s. 9d. a bushel, and that a small percentage cannot produce at a profit in any circumstances.
– Does the honorable member say that they should be kept in the industry?
– Only a small percentage comes within that category. The majority of them were inveigled into the industry by State policy, and I do not know that it can be argued that they should be forced out of it. The percentage of inefficiency among wheatgrowers, including those who are producing on unsuitable country, is smaller than exists in the majority of other industries. I cannot understand why the wheat industry should be singled out for the charge that a considerable proportion of the men engaged in it had no right to enter it. Less than 20 years ago the bulk of the land in my electorate was considered absolutely unsuited to wheat production, yet to-day it is regarded as one of the finest wheat districts in New South Wales. Times change, and ideas upon the productive capacity of country change with them. Therefore there is not much force in the argument that the allegedly inefficient farmers constitute a problem. The real problem to-day is the inability of the great majority of wheat-growers, whether they be small or large, to produce at a price that will recoup them the cost of production. The report of the royal commission shows conclusively the immediate necessity for some assistance being given by the National Parliament. All sorts of side issues have been dragged in, including that of the alleged big man. The commission proved that the bigger a man was, the greater were his losses. If we are to base our policy upon the idea that this is a great national issue and not merely one affecting individuals; if we are to consider it as an important piece of national socialism, only one conclusion is possible. We must not give specially favourable treatment to some, and penalize others, but must regardas national benefactors everyone who is now engaged in the industry. The man who continues his wheat operations with capital drawn from other sources is a special type of benefactor. Were I in the wheat industry and had I to call on my capital resources to keep going in the hope that times would improve and I should eventually make good, I should say that I was entitled to relief and should be as readily prepared as any other wheat-grower in this House to hold out my hand for the bounty.
– The time allotted for the committee stage has expired.
Question agreed to -
That clause 1, the remainder of the bill, and the circulated amendments of the Government, be agreed to, and that the bill be reported with amendments.
The circulated amendments of the Government were accordingly made in the bill, and are as follows : -
Omit clauses 4, 5, 6 and 7, and insert the following clauses: -
There shall be granted to each State, by way of financial assistance, such amount as is necessary to enable that State to make payments, in accordance with the next succeeding section, to wheat-growers in that State.
The amount which may be paid by a State to any wheat-grower, out of moneys granted to that State under the last preceding section, shall be calculated at the rate of three shillings for each acre which the wheatgrower satisfies the prescribed authority of that State was sown by him with wheat for grain during the year One thousand nine hundred and thirty-four.
There shall be payable to each wheatgrower in the Territory for the Seat of Government an amount calculated at the rate of three shillings for each acre which the wheatgrower satisfies the prescribed authority was sown by him with wheat for grain during the year One thousand nine hundred and thirty-four.
any person -
is the legalpersonal representative of a person (since deceased) ; or
is the trustee of the estate of a person, who has, during the year One thousand nine hundred and thirty-four, sown wheat for grain; or
any person, being the legal personal representative of a deceased person or a trustee has, during that year, sown wheatfor grain on account of the estate of the deceased person or of the trust estate, any amount payable under this Act in respect of the wheat so sown shall, notwithstanding anything contained in this act, be paid to the legal personal representative or trustee on account of the estate of the deceased person or of the trustee, as the case may be.
New Clauses. 8a. There shall be granted to the State of Tasmania, by way of financial assistance, the sum of Four thousand one hundred pounds in each month during which a tax is imposed upon flour by the Flour Tax Act (No. 1) 1934, the Flour Tax Act (No. 2) 1934, or the Flour Tax Act (No. 3) 1934:
Provided that where tax is imposed by any of those acts for portion only of any month, the sum to be granted in that month in pursuance of this section shall be a sum which bears, to the sum of Four thousand one hundred pounds, the same proportion as the portion of the month bears to the whole month. 8b. Section twelve of the Wheat Growers Relief Act 1933-1934 is repealed.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) pro posed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
– I regret the necessity for a speech at this stage of the bill, but am forced to make it because the operation of the guillotine prevented my doing so in committee by reason of the fact that some honorable members were enabled to address themselves to the title of the measure and to make what may be regarded as fairly decent second-reading speeches.
– I rise to a point of order. The statement of the honorable member that, on the title of the bill, honorable members were allowed to make second-reading speeches, is a gross reflection on the Chairman of Committees.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).There is no point of order.
– On a point of order,I ask whether the honorable member may refer to something that took place in committee.
– The honorable member had not proceeded sufficiently far to enable the Chair to acquaint itself of the nature of hisremarks.
– I was particularly concerned in clause 4, dealing with the amounts to be paid to the different States. I question the right of certain wheat-growers to take advantage of the provisions of this measure. Some of them have no need of relief, while others are producing uneconomically and should be forced off the land by the withholding of assistance.
Earlier in the day the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) drew attention to the statement in the report of the royal commission that 30.9 per cent. of the wheat-growers ofAustralia are producing at under1s.11d. a bushel, and argued that that proves conclusively that a very big percentage are not in need of the proposed relief. He also pointed out that 11.5 per cent. of the producers are producing wheat at from 4s. to over 5s. a bushel. I submit that these people should not be kept on the land by palliatives of the kind now being provided by the Government. I direct the attention of honorable members also to the following extract from the report of the South Australian committee which investigated the subject of debt adjustment in respect of the agricultural and pastoral industries: -
Dr. H. Krause, Phil. D., who is attached to the Melbourne University, and is co-operating at that institution with Professor Copland, has recently examined the actual working figures of many wheat-growers throughout this State, with the exception of Eyre’s Peninsula. He estimates approximately the average cost of production of wheat per bushel delivered at nearest siding as follows: -
No. . 1 district, comprising lower north and Yorke Peninsula - 2s.1d.
No. 2 district, comprising lands between No. 1 district and Goyder’s line - 2s. 4d. to 2s. 5d.
No. 3 district, being lands outside Goyder’s line - 2s.6d. to 3s.
These estimates exclude all charge for interest.
I contend that people who are producing wheat under those conditions have no right to expect relief payments from the Government, for they are engaged in definitely uneconomic production. I have selected these references to South Australia because authoritative figures are available, but similar uneconomic wheat production is going on in all the wheatproducing States of the Commonwealth. In South Australia, out of 46 counties producing wheat in the period from 1929-30 to 1932-33, 24 counties averaged only 5.17 bushels to the acre sown, and these particular counties produced 30 per cent. of the total wheat production of the State for those years. Wheat production should not be persevered with in those areas. There can be no wonder that the Auditor-General for South Australia goes to some length in his report for 1933 to show how hopeless it is to try to grow wheat successfully in those areas. He concluded his examination of the subject with the following comment :-r-
Many of these settlers apparently could not pay their way without any capital liabilities even if the price of wheat were 5s. a bushel.
That being so, they should not be maintained in production by subsidies from this or any other government. We have often heard members of the Country party declare in this chamber that the tariff schedule should be reviewed with the object of removing protection from uneconomic secondary industries. I suggest therefore that they cannot reasonably expect Parliament to provide money to maintain uneconomic wheat production. I protest strongly also against the adoption of a policy which obliges the people of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland to contribute large sums for the maintenance of these uneconomic industries in South Australia. New South Wales, after meeting the cost of its own uneconomic production of wheat, makes a substantial contribution towards meeting the cost of similar uneconomic production in South Australia. Figures which T have prepared show that South Australia will contribute £155,352 in flour tax, and £152,966 from revenue, or a total of £298,238 for the relief of the wheatgrowers, but by the method of allocation adopted it will receive £315,000 in bounty; and £472,000 in grant, at the rate of 3s. an acre, making £7S7,500 in all, thus showing a gain of £489,262. New South Wales, on the other hand, will contribute £698,066 in flour tax, and £754,729 from revenue, making £1,452,795 in all, and will receive £472,500 in bounty and £585,000 in grant, totalling £1,057,S00, thus showing a loss of £394,995.
– In addition to that it must be remembered that grants amounting to millions of pounds have been made to South Australia and other States.
– That is another subject which deserves some attention. We cannot continue indefinitely to make large payments of bounties and subsidies to support uneconomic wheat production.
– I direct the attention of honorable members to comments made in the report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission presented to Parliament on the 24th July, 1934, which deal trenchantly with the subject of uneconomic rural industries, and are in my opinion pertinent to this discussion. My first citation, which deals with the difficulties of Western Australia, is a.s follows: -
A system of absurdly liberal advances is undoubtedly the cause. The Agricultural Bank made loans to farmers up to 100 per cent, of the expenditure of the settler, and thus the settler had no real interest in his block. Again, advances on a daily-wage basis were ma.de through the Industries Assistance Board. These methods have been condemned in several royal commissions, and we need not enlarge on them. … A deduction on account of these losses would be justified, but we have decided not to recommend it. The full Tosses are not disclosed, and, if the Agricultural Bank’s accounts were cleaned up, a far larger loss would be shown.
In paragraph 141 of its report, the commission states, in regard to the group settlement scheme of Western Australia : -
The. group settlements were a failure almost from the commencement, and it is probable that about 75 per cent, of the capital invested (about £8,000,000) lias been lost.
The improvident, system of advances adopted would have wrecked the settlements in any case; but the schemes were also ill conceived. Most of the settlement was in the forest belt of the south-west on indifferent land, and the cost of clearing the forest at the lowest would have been greater than the value of the land for the purpose to which it was put. The schemes are thus uneconomic, and cannot be extended profitably.
My object in referring to these remarks is to stress that inefficient methods have been adopted to develop the agricultural industries of certain States, and that thi3 is putting a severe strain on the financial resources of States which did not adopt such uneconomic methods. The people of New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland are to-day suffering severely in order to provide bounties and subsidies to help the farmers of other States out of their difficulties. The three Eastern States will be obliged, under the wheat proposals which we have been considering during the last few days, to make grants totalling approximately £1,000,000 to certain people in South Australia and
Western Australia who are in an unfortunate position and who undoubtedly will claim-
– Order ! The time allotted for the consideration of the third reading of the bill has expired.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. Thorby) - by leave - agreed to -
Thathe have leave to bring in abill for an act to amend sections eighteen and twenty-one of the War Service Homes Act 1918-1932.
Bill brought up and read a first time.
Debate resumed from the 11th December (vide page 988), on motion by Sir Henry Gullett -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The Minister directing negotiations for Trade Treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) told us in his second-reading speech on this bill that its purpose was to remove sales tax from goods imported from Fiji of a kind similar to those free from sales tax in the Commonwealth. He also stated that it, was intended to exempt from primage duties “ certain goods the product of Fiji, including bananas “. It can be said, therefore, that this is a move by the Government to encourage the importation into Australia of greater quantities of Fijian bananas. A reduction is also to be made in the quarantine inspection charges on Fijian bananas from 4d. to 2d. a case, and in due course a proclamation to that effect will appear in the Commonwealth Gazette. It will be seen, therefore, that honorable members who consider that we should be building up our primary and secondary industries have substantial grounds for complaint at the introduction of the measure. No commensurate benefit is being given to any Australian industry through the granting of these concessions to Fiji. In 1921, when the then Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Massy-Greene) introduced the tariff schedule which provided for an increase of the duty on Fijian bananas to 8s. 4d. per cental, he said -
It would not make the slightest difference to our trade with Fiji if we imported no bananas from the island, because all the sugar grown there comes to Sydney to be refined, and that is the real source of Australia’s substantial trade with Fiji.
In other words, the honorable gentleman considered that no serious disadvantage would be imposed upon Australian trading interests ‘by granting to the Australian banana-growers the additional protection that was afforded them at that time. The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) said in this House “ It is incumbent upon this Parliament to so shape its policy that confidence in industry will not be undermined.” Will not the confidence in the banana industry be further undermined as a result of the action proposed to be taken by the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties? Under the Ottawa agreement the duty on black-grown Fijian bananas entering Australia was reduced from8s. 4d. to 2s. 6d. a cental on 40,000 centals. Tariff Item 44a as amended reads “Bananas, per cental: British, 2s. 6d. ; general, 8s. 4d.” But it does not actually restrict importations to any given quantity. Unlimited importations could be made except for the specific stipulation contained in the Ottawa agreement.
– Exactly !
– Before the Ottawa agreement no bananas could be imported from Fiji without paying 8s. 4d. per cental duty. How do we know that the Minister is not proposing to give further concessions to Fiji? His decision of to-day might be reversed to-morrow. I well remember the statement of the former Assistant Minister for Defence (Mr. Francis) that he could definitely assert that Cabinet had decided that no further concessions in respect of bananas would be given to Fiji. In making that statement I understand he was speaking with the full approval of the Cabinet. At any rate when he went to Queensland and, speaking as a Queensland member of the Cabinet, assured the banana-growers of that State that no further concessions would be given in respect to Fijian bananas, no other Minister in the Commonwealth Cabinet contradicted him. His declaration was subsequently confirmed by the Prime Minister. Was it because of his strong views in regard to the necessity for protecting the Queensland banana industry that the honorable member for Moreton was jettisoned from the Cabinet? Speaking of the Ottawa agreement the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties said “ This agreement has been drawn up in aid of the man on the land.” His heart was bleeding for the man on the land ! Yet he has delivered this crushing blow to a large number of men on the land in Australia to-day. I have received the following letter from Mr. H. W. Gardner, secretary of the Tar.ginnie branch of the Queensland Producers Association, which outlines the views of banana-growers in that district -
I have been instructed by the Targinnie Local Producers’ Association to request that you endeavour to have ample protection afforded the growers of bananas in Queensland and New South Wales. This Local Producers’ Association views with apprehension the lowering of duties on Fijian bananas, particularly as growers in our own country are having a hard time to make ends meet, and we fear that it may also mean that other products of this State will be forced to compote with produce from cheap, coloured-labour countries.
This letter is not from a union secretary or from a person interested in the Labour movement, but from the secretary of the Local Producers’ Association, which consists chiefly of banana-growers. Confidence in this industry is being rapidly undermined. The Minister’s statement that the Ottawa agreement was drawn .up in aid of the man on the land was all moonshine. The Ottawa agreement is a complete washout. Promises were given in respect of butter, wheat, meat, cotton, bananas, and other primary products. lt was said that the price of butter was to fly to great heights. But what are the facts? The price of butter and other products fell like a plumb-bob immediately the Ottawa agreement was signed.
When a duty of 8s. 4d. a cental was placed on imported bananas in 1921 local growers naturally thought the protection would. continue for all time. They knew that the increase had been given by a Liberal or Nationalist Government, and that the Labour party stood for adequate and effective protection for primary and secondary industries. But what happened? The growers were asked by the then government to increase their plantings and to put their sons on the land. They took up additional holdings and entered into contractual obligations because they thought that the whole of the Australian market would be preserved for them. The number of growers increased rapidly, until to-day there are 8,000 in Queensland and New South Wales, giving employment to a large number of people in allied industries. The banana industry uses 1,000,000 cases each year.* Any injury done to that industry by the ill-conceived action of the present Government must affect not only the banana-growers, but also allied industries. In rail freight alone the bananagrowers pay annually £134,000 in Queensland, and £70,000 in New South Wales. The industry has so expanded that about 30,000 acres are under banana cultivation in Australia to-day. Seeking to improve their efficiency, the growers went to the expense of sending experts to every banana-growing country in the world to examine methods of ripening and of combating pests and disease that challenge the existence of the industry. It cannot be claimed that the Australian demand, amounting to 1,000,000 cases per annum, cannot be met by the Australian growers. As a matter of fact the Australian growers produce 1,400,000 cases per annum, leaving a surplus of 400,000 cases above local requirements. If the Australian growers were not in a position to supply local requirements no one would object to the importation of the foreign-grown product, but every thousand cases of bananas from Fiji must depress the price of bananas on an already over-supplied Australian market. When confronted by his irate electors in 1932 the then Assistant Minister for Defence (Mr. Francis) said : “ Not only have the banana-growers of Australia nothing to fear, but negotiations are in progress between the Commonwealth and the British Government for variation of the Ottawa Agreement in respect of bananas. “ He led his constituents to believe that the Government felt regret at the step it had taken, and that it would consider the question of retracing it. But no such consideration has been given. On the contrary a further staggering blow has been dealt to the industry. In an attempt to justify this proposal it has been said that the Fijian banana-growers are as white as the growers in Australia. European owners of Fijian plantations represent only 6.6 per cent, of the growers. The native growers represent 75.9 per cent., Indians 9.8 per cent, and Chinese 7.7 per cent. In other words, in Fiji there are twelve times as many black growers as European growers, and there are more Chinese than whites engaged in the industry there. ° So much for the statement that the industry in Fiji is conducted by white men.
Following upon the Ottawa Agreement, which resulted in large importations of black-grown bananas from Fiji, some of the most conservative newspapers in Queensland trenchantly criticized the’ treatment meted out to the bananagrowers of Australia. The Brisbane Courier., in a leading article, which appeared immediately following the speech delivered by the then Minister for Trade and Customs dealing with the Ottawa agreement and the importation of bananas from Fiji said -
Yesterday it was announced by Mr. Gullett, in his speech on the Ottawa agreement, that the Federal Goverment had decided to reduce the duty on Fiji bananas from Ss. 4d. per cental to 2s. Gd. per cental, and to allow the importation of 40.000 centals a year. The attacks on Queensland’s agricultural industries have become so frequent that one ia forced to the conclusion that the Federal Government “iB absolutely ignorant of Queenslaud conditions. It does not realize that Queensland is the only State which is carrying on tropical agriculture to any great extent. That ignorance has led the Federal Government to believe that “ Queensland’s industries do no count,” and that whether that hurts the State or not does not matter, so long as the south is appeased.
I have never attended a more enthusiastic public meeting than that held in Brisbane Town Hall. Train loads of growers came to Brisbane from various parts of Queensland to attend it. Professor Goddard, of the Queensland University, addressing the meeting, said -
Many growers have been fearing for some time past that there will be over production, and, if their fears are realized, then the problem will become a most serious one, with the admission of Fiji bananas on terms that will enable that product, grown under native labour conditions, to compete with the Australian product in terms disadvantageous to the latter.
The Queensland Producer, representative of the farmers’ organizations of Queensland, also published a scathing indict- ment of the action of the Government in depriving the Australian growers of the local market. The banana-growers have gone out into the back country and cut their farms out of the scrub. They have suffered great hardships. They have to put up with the ravages of pests and droughts, and, even with the whole of the Australian market at their disposal, they were gaining small remuneration for their labours. The drastic action following upon the signing of the Ottawa agreement was bad enough, but, notwithstanding the definite promise made that no further action would be taken to the detriment of this industry, the Minister has now the audacity to come forward with this bill to encourage additional imports of Fijian bananas. The unfortunate growers in the northern parts of New South Wales and the coastal districts of Queensland in the electorate of the honorable member for Lilley (Sir Donald Cameron), and particularly in that of the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser), are suffering tremendous hardships because of the over-supply of the market.
– There are not so many in my electorate now as formerly.
– That is probably the result of the recent electoral redistribution. At any rate there are a great many in the electorate of the honorable membefor Wide Bay, and I represent many myself. This industry is not confined to one State, because New South . Wales, I believe, now produces more bananas than does Queensland. For many years production in New South Wales declined because of the ravages of the bunchy-top disease, and thousands of acres went out of production. As the result of scientific research, however, most of the pests have now been either controlled or eliminated, and New South Wales has again become h heavy producer.
– The most severe pest with which the growers have to contend is the Government.
– That is so. I know that the Government attaches importance to our trade with Fiji, but our exports to those islands have not declined because of our policy of protection. In 1931-32 we exported goods to Fiji to the value of £362,000, while, by 1933-34 our exports had increased to £513,000. Our imports from Fiji have increased from £23,000 in 1931-32 to £33,552 in 1933-34. Senator Sir Massy-Greene, when replying in 1921 to criticism directed against the proposal to give the whole Australian market to local bananagrowers, said that the exclusion of Fijian bananas would make not the slightest difference to our trade with Fiji, because tho basis of our trade with that colony was the Fijian sugar brought to Sydney to be refined.
I ask the Government to reconsider its attitude to this matter. We are at present seeking avenues of employment for our people, and are at our wits’ end to find occupations for the 300,000 unemployed in two States alone. Surely it is a mistake to take action that will tend to restrict primary production. The cry we hear on all sides is, “ Get back to the land “, but of what use is it to put people on the land if we rob them of their markets? This industry was established under the protection of the tariff. The growers were promised the whole of the Australian market, and no one thought that there was one chance in a million that any succeeding government would throw the Australian market open to Fijian bananas, the product of .Indian and Chinese labour. The1 banana industry in Australia provides employment for timber-workers, transport workers, box makers, Sui., and we should think seriously before taking any step which would interfere with it. The other day the Minister in charge of this bill appealed to members of all political parties to offer suggestions that would be helpful in the rehabilitation of Australian industry. I now offer the suggestion that no further action should be takes in connexion with this bill for six months, so that the Minister may have an opportunity to visit the bananagrowing areas of Queensland and northern New South Wales, and study conditions for himself. If he does so he will learn thai many of the growers are living in bag huts or galvanized iron shacks, and are suffering the tortures of hell on their small banana plantations. I believe that after such an inspection the Minister will agree that there is no justification fbr this bill at all. In order to provide him with an opportunity to make the visit, I move -
That tho word “ now “.be omitted from, and that the words “ this day six months “ be added to, the question.
.- The Minister, when introducing this bill, said -
The purpose of this bill is to remove sales tax from goods imported from Fiji of a kind similar to those which are free from sales tax within the Commonwealth or not produced in the Commonwealth at all. It is also proposed to insert a notification in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette exempting from primage certain goods the product of Fiji, including bananas. In addition, a reduction of from 4d. to 2d. a case of the quarantine inspection charges upon imported bananas will be gazetted.
I regard this as the most inappropriate time that could have been chosen for the granting of further concessions to Fijian bananas. To-day the Australian growers are receiving lower prices for their product than ever before. Many of them are on the bread line, and this further blow will cause them to lose heart. Some of them are losing heavily on the marketing of their bananas, and if prices are further reduced they will find it impossible to carry on. The banana industry is a great factor in promoting closer settlement. There are now 8,000 growers cultivating 80,000 acres and the value of their production is approximately £1,500,000. Most of the holdings are small, of from five to six acres, and are chiefly on mountain slopes in difficult country. Many men who have been out of work for a considerable time have sought to repair their broken fortunes by embarking upon the growing of bananas. The chief factor in banana-growing is hard work and plenty of it. Only a small holding is necessary, and no really great amount of capital is required. In one part of my electorate a new settlement has sprung up, consisting of people who have established banana plantations with the assistance of unemployment relief money, but their enterprise will be placed in jeopardy if the present bill is passed and no compensating assistance is granted to the industry. The settlement is known as Austinville, and its beginning was financed with money contributed in equal shares by the Government of Queensland and by the Commonwealth Government.
As a result of the arrest of the disease known as bunchy-top, following upon research work by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research experts, and Professor Goddard and his assistant in Queensland, and the consequential expansion of the area under cultivation, there is at present serious over-production of bananas. More bananas are being produced now than ever before, and in the markets of Sydney and Melbourne they may be bought for less than the cost of production, although the fruit is better than ever as the result of improved transport methods and ripening processes. The future of the growers will be black, indeed, if special efforts are not made to assist them.
The Minister (Sir Henry Gullett) stated that this was a minor measure designed to grant to the Fijian growers concessions which it was intended that they should receive under the Ottawa agreement, but it is more than that. Under the Ottawa agreement, Fiji was entitled to place on the Australian market 40,000 centals of bananas a year after paying a duty of 2s. 6d. per cental as against the 1921 duty of 8s. 4d. A promise was given that the quantity would not be increased, and that no further concessions would be granted. For the first year, the duty collected on Fijian bananas was to be devoted to advertising bananas with the idea of popularizing them on the Australian, market, and some of the money was to be devoted to enable the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to conduct further investigations into maturation processes, transport problems and the elimination of diseases to which this fruit is subject. The Government honoured its obligation in that regard, and both last year and this year £3,000 was made available for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research for the conduct of research’ work. The success of the council’s work is most gratifying.
The suggestion has been made that permission to import 40,000 centals of Fijian bananas at a reduced duty was but the thin end of the wedge, and that further concessions would be granted later. I took the matter up with the Prime Minister some time ago, and induced him to instruct the then Resident Minister in London, Mr. Bruce, to confer with the Secretary of State for the Dominions, for (the purpose of obtaining an assurance that, in no circumstances, would a greater quantity than 40,000 centals of Fijian bananas be admitted to Australia in any one year. Confirmation of this was readily obtained from the Governor of Fiji, Sir Murchison Fletcher.
The banana-growers of Australia were called upon under the Ottawa agreement to make the principal sacrifice on behalf of Australian industries for concessions granted by the United Kingdom and the dominions, although we had already been giving special “preferential treatment to Great Britain for 20 or 25 years. During the first half of the present year, the Governor of Fiji visited Australia to discuss with the Government a number of matters. Among these was the charges which Fijian bananas entering Australia had to meet in common with imports from every other country. I had a discussion with His Excellency, at which the present Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) and the then Minister for Commerce (Mr. Stewart) were present, and during the conference asked whether His Excellency contended that we were not fully carrying out the terms of the Ottawa agreement in regard to the uniform collection of these charges on imports from all countrIes. He was most definite in his reply that in no instance had he suggested that we had failed to carry out fully the Ottawa agreement.
– That is absolutely correct.
– In view of the confirmation of my statement by the Minister for Trade and Customs, I fail to understand why these concessions should be made. They were not claimed by the Governor of Fiji as part of the Ottawa agreement. The primage and sales tax have nothing to do with the Ottawa agreement, and I cannot understand why the Minister (Sir Henry Gullett) should have said that this bill had been introduced merely to grant concessions which he thought had been made at the time of the Ottawa agreement. Primage a»d sales tax were in existence long before the
Ottawa agreement was made. They were introduced by the Scullin Administration, and were leviable on almost all goods entering Australia, irrespective of the country of origin. The Ottawa agreement as approved by this House made no provision for the remission of these charges on bananas from Fiji. It merely provided for the entry of 40,000 centals of bananas from Fiji at 2s. 6d. per cental instead of the 8s. 4d. per cental which had been levied on bananas coming from Fiji, Java, and other countries since 1921.
In the Senate on the 25 th July last, the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs was asked the following question: -
Have any concessions of any kind, other than those provided for under the Ottawa agreement, as agreed to by Parliament, been made, or arc any such contemplated, upon bananas imported “into Australia from Fiji?
The reply made by Senator McLachlan was as follows: -
The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question : -
No concessions other than those provided for under the Ottawa agreement as approved by Parliament have been made to Fiji upon bananas imported into Australia, and none is contemplated.
Yet the Minister who introduced this bill said that it provided for no concessions other than those already approved under the Ottawa agreement. The Minister for Trade and Customs, in the answer which I have just read, stated clearly that no concession other than those provided for under the Ottawa agreement had been granted, and none was contemplated, The concessions for which this bill provides have not been approved by Parliament, and the fact that the Governor of Fiji admitted that we had honoured the Ottawa agreement in its entirety is evidence that the Minister’s contention as to the reason for the introduction of this bill was based on false premises. The honorable gentleman said that these further concessions were proposed because of threats from elected members of the Fijian council. They, however, are in a minority. There is no chance of Fiji repudiating the Ottawa agreement, particularly in view of the Governor’s statement.
– This bill was prepared before reports were received from Fiji about opposition in the Fijian Council.
– In his introductory speech, the Minister said that these concessions were made because of a threat from Fiji. If he says now that that is not so I shall of course accept his assurance; but if, because of threats, we are going to pull down the protection granted to an industry there will be no scarcity of threats from all quarters. If the Minister can give me a definite assurance that no further concession is to be made, I shall be materially helped in satisfying the growers that there is some security for them and that they may now know exactly where they are. Having regard to the substantial over-production of bananas in Australia, and the fact that they are being sold at less than the cost of production, I do not think there is any chance of a larger quantity of Fijian bananas coming into Australia. I wish, however, to be certain that these are the last con cessions that the industry will be asked to make. If we have a definite assurance in that regard the industry will then know the extent to which it can go on producing, and what will be the market available to it. It will be able to organize markets for its products throughout Australia. But if after it has been working energetically to find new markets - particularly in country districts - for its product, further concessions are to be granted to Fiji, it will not have the encouragement to which it is entitled at the hands of the Government and much good work will be undone. It should be encouraged to organize a system of distribution that will enable it to supply the whole Australian market - markets in country districts and elsewhere - with all that they require.
We find that there is an ever-increasing consumption of the fruit now produced, but if the banana-growers are to be left in ignorance as to what further imports may be allowed, their position will be a most difficult one. We are unable to export bananas. The banana is a soft fruit, and cannot be carried to overseas markets even with the assistance of refrigeration. All other branches of the fruit-growing industry are able to export their surplus crops, and are assisted by the Government in doingso. Those engaged in the production of apples and pears have received a grant of £125,000 to help them to market their product overseas. Citrus-growers are guaranteed by the Government against loss on export. The mandarin industry last year received a grant of £10,000. The canning industry, which deals mainly with peaches, pears and apricots, has received, since 1920, government assistance to the extent of £1,000,000 in exporting its surplus. The canned fruit industry last year received from the sugar industry itself help to the extent of £110,000. I urge that the banana industry should be assisted. Imports from Fiji are pushing off the Australian market a quantity of the Australian product. It should be assisted by the Government to develop the secondary side of the industry and helped to make use of its by-products, and to find new markets for them overseas. There is a surplus of the raw fruit, and if, through the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research or other agencies, methods were devised of converting the banana into a satisfactory by-product such as banana flour and banana coffee, valuable help would be given to the industry. Surplus production and undersized fruit would be profitably absorbed.
I appeal to the Minister for a definite assurance that no further concession is to be granted Fiji and that assistance will be given to develop the secondary side of the industry. With such an assurance the industry will be able to organize the Australian market, it will be encouraged to proceed with the eradication of pests that assail it, and should become one of the most useful of our primary industries. As it is, the industry cannot hope to rehabilitate itself or to solve the problems with which it is faced. I shall be glad to hear what the Minister has to say with regard to the future of this industry.
.- I seconded the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) and 1 did so for many reasons. When, a little over two years ago, the Minister in charge of this bill (Sir Henry Gullett) submitted the Ottawa agreement for the ratification of Parliament, I supported it, but urged that it was quite unnecessary to have in it a clause relating specially to Fiji. I, with many others, opposed the reduction of the duty on bananas from Fiji believing that the concession should not have been given. It was wholly unnecessary; but followed a continuous agitation on the part of that Crown colony for a share of the Australian market for bananas. More bananas were then being produced in Australia to provide for the whole of our needs.
– Except those of Western Australia.
– Western Australia, I admit, in this respect, is in a rather peculiar position, but under the Constitution, in the levying of customs duties we cannot discriminate between the States. The banana-growers are not responsible for the disadvantage under which Western Australia labours in that respect. It is due solely to the geographical position of Western Australia, and the provisions of the Constitution.
For many years Fiji has requested the Government to remove the general tariff of 8s. 4d. per cental. Under the Ottawa agreement it was allowed to ship to Australia 40,000 centals at the reduced duty of 2s. 6d. per cental, or less than onethird of the ordinary rate. Although the Minister stated that Fiji was limited by the Ottawa agreement to 40,000 centals a year, I point out that that quantity was not provided for under the agreement, but was arranged for later. Fiji has since attempted to obtain even greater concessions than were originally given. Recently a motion bearing on this matter was submitted in its Legislative Council, which is partly a nominated and partly an elected body; but the real power is vested in the Governor. A paragraph published in the newspapers in Australia stated that the following decision had been reached by the Legislative Council of Fiji : -
That it is expedient to levy extra taxation, additional to the ordinary customs duties, on Australian goods, including a primage tax of 30 per cent., a sales tax of 20 per cent., and an income tax of 10 per cent., on all goods shipped from Australia to Fiji.
That proposal could not be accepted by the Governor of Fiji. It would have involved additional tax to the extent of 60 per cent. on all Australian goods exported to Fiji. But when faced with that recommendation, the Governor of Fiji immediately climbed down, because the proposal was definitely against the spirit of the Ottawa agreement. If Australia had attempted to take similar action with regard to imports from Great Britain, New Zealand, or any other dominion, it would soon have been reminded that such discriminatory imposts were contrary to the spirit of the agreement reached at Ottawa. Apparently, Fiji can “ get away with it,” and the Commonwealth Government falls for it. I presume the Minister knows what was proposed in Fiji. Does he say that that colony would not have been acting contrary to the spirit of the Ottawa agreement if that proposal had been accepted? He does not answer my question; he knows that my conclusion is correct.
The two previous speakers ‘ have referred to the pressing problem of unemployment, and its relation to the banana industry. Five acres is regarded as the largest area which one banana-grower can attend to, and, therefore, of all the primary industries in Australia,- bananagrowing definitely lends itself to closer settlement. If a man can obtain land suitable for the cultivation of this fruit, he may make a living on a smaller area than is required by a man engaged in practically any other form of primary production. It may surprise some honorable members to know that more bananas are now grown in New South Wales than in Queensland. Most of the increase in acreage has occurred on the Tweed River, where a short time ago the local unemployed were totally absorbed, owing to the extension of the areas devoted to banana-growing. It should not be forgotten that this industry has helped to an extent to solve the great problem of unemployment.
Under the present proposal, Fiji is to receive three concessions - the elimination of primage and sales tax, and the reduction by half of the quarantine inspection charges. It may be argued that these concessions do not amount to much, and one of the main contentions of the Government is that Fiji supplies only about 2J per cent, of the total quantity of bananas consumed in Australia. The figures have been queried, but even allowing that that is the correct proportion, I point out that in order to obtain a regular price for a commodity, particularly a perishable product like bananas, there must be regular shipments to the markets. The boats from Fiji arrive only every three weeks or so, and a large quantity of the f ruit is landed in either Sydney or Melbourne with the result that on those occasions the market is, to a certain extent, glutted; the price of the product immediately drops, and the effect on. the local industry is felt for a considerable period. By the time reasonable prices again rule another shipment arrives from Fiji and down goes the price again. The trouble is not due to the total quantity of bananas imported over a year, but to the fall in prices caused by large quantities df Fijian bananas being marketed at intervals. This importation has a very depressing effect on the Australian market.
I admit that since the Ottawa agreement the quantity of Fijian fruit imported into Australia has not reached the stipulated 40,000 centals. This is not due entirely to the primage and sales tax. When Fijian bananas were first brought in, after the Ottawa agreement, they were a novelty, and the public bought them eagerly; hut now the boasted superiority in favour of the Gros Michel banana of Fiji is no longer generally recognized, and the public is even showing a preference for bananas grown in Australia. One reason why the quantity imported has not reached 40,000 centals is that the public has discovered that the quality of the Fijian fruit is not so high as it had been led to believe. It is claimed that the drop in prices here is due to overproduction and the marketing of fruit of the smaller sizes. An agreement has already been reached amongst the growers in New South Wales to eliminate the sixes. If that course is followed some action will have to be taken in regard to the fruit so eliminated, and I shall suggest to the Government a method of dealing with the matter. An arrangement was entered into with the last Government that the amount received in customs duty, which would be £5,000 if
Fiji sent over the full 40,000 centals at 2s. 6d. a cental, should be made available to the industry for the purpose of improving its marketing arrangements and helping it in other ways. I give that government full credit for agreeing to make that money available; the assistance rendered was in conformity with that given to other primary industries; but the full amount has not been received by the industry. Speaking from memory, I believe that about £1,600 was allocated last year. As the Australian industry is able to supply the whole of the local market with fruit of the first quality - there is actual overproduction - something should be done by the Government to compensate the growers for the quantity of Australian bananas which would be eliminated if this further concession be made to Fiji. If, in the interests of better trade relations with Fiji, the Government considers that this concession is necessary, I make the alternative constructive suggestion that the Austraiian industry be assisted as have been the citrus, apple and other industries, with the object of devising means for the disposal of the quantity of local fruit displaced by imports from Fiji. Further investigation might be made by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research into the handling of by-products on a commercial basis. Flour, coffee and other commodities have been made from bananas, but I do not know whether they can be produced as a commercial proposition, and the matter is well worth consideration. The president of the Banana Growers’ Federation of New South Wales has written to me on the subject, and I understand that communication couched in similar terms has also been sent to the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) and the Minister for Commerce. That federation makes two requests, one of which is for the development of by-products to the extent of the displacement of local bananas by imports from Fiji. The letter goes on to say -
The possibilities of such a by-products industry are largely experimental, and a large sura of money would have to be spent, first of all to discover the attractive by-product, secondly, to process same, and thirdly, to establish them on the markets. I suggest that the Federal Government should make available by some method a sufficient sum of money to implement this proposal. I do not know, speaking off-hand, what sum would be required; I should Bay probably £10,000.
That would not be a particularly large sum to spend on this important industry. The figures supplied by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) show that 8,000 persons are directly engaged in banana-growing. The advance would not go directly to the grower, but he would be indirectly benefited. The expenditure would amount to about £1 a head, which is not exorbitant. The letter goes on to say -
If this was done I would personally endeavour to get our own growers to acquiesce in the remission of the charges of which Fiji is complaining. I recognize, of course, that the Commonwealth Government has power to do as it thinks fit without any such acquiescence, but should it do so, such action on its part is bound to leave bitter feelings behind.
Would it not be much better to retain the goodwill of those who are engaged in the industry in Australia, than unnecessarily to antagonize them? They are being definitely antagonized by this action of the Government. I am advised by the writer of this letter that on the 28th November last he wired the Prime Minister as follows: -
Connexion proposal lift primage sales tax Fiji bananas respectfully request you call conference of interests concerned before taking any action. Position banana industry present time owing to glutted markets causing growers grave anxiety. Would appreciate opportunity discussion.
The door is still open to the Government to confer with the industry with respect to that portion of its product which is now being forced off the market by the enjoyment of this concession by Fiji. I commend, not only bo the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page), but also to the Government generally, the offer of the Banana Growers Federation, which has in its ranks practically every grower in New South Wales who markets bananas. As the honorable member for Moreton has said, New South Wales produces at the present time a greater quantity of bananas than is produced even by Queensland.
I regret that the Government has seen fit to again antagonize this industry. I fought the concession given to Fiji when the Ottawa agreement was being considered a little over two years ago. This is a further concession, and one that is unnecessary. For that reason, I shall support in every way, and hope that the House will also, the amendment of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, which in effect means the withdrawal of the bill.
– I have considerable sympathy with the banana-growers in the position in which they are placed. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) has put the case for them, considering the circumstances, ‘temperately and reasonably. This, I feel, is really part of a greater question. Australia is now contemplating entering into trade treaties. The first thing which Australiana have to bear in mind is that the continent on behalf of which the Government is negotiating has a wide range of climate and of products, and the Government has the responsibility of giving to every part of it a fair chance to develop. The tropical and sub-tropical areas must be developed and effectively occupied if we want to hold Australia, and that involves the establishment of industries as an essential part of our national life. Such a policy has been followed from the inception of federation, and is a vital consideration to-day. Therefore, I suggest that in the making of these trade treaties there is borne in mind, not only the necessities of to-day, but also the development of Australia in the years to come. In dealing with industries, particularly those that are primary in character and engage people in occupations on the land, Australians ought to be careful to see that there is not given away a part of the real national development which enables us to populate and occupy this country. In that category, I would place particularly the banana, cotton, sugar, and a number of other industries that I could mention.
The impression left on my mind by the making of the Ottawa agreement was that 40,000 centals represented the limit of imports from Fiji which the Government was prepared to sanction. I say, emphatically, that I stand very strongly for preferential arrangements within the Empire. I want to see them developed. But at the same time, as Great Britain has said that, so far as its agricultural industries are concerned, it must look first to Great Britain, then to the Empire, and then across the seas, so Australia must be pardoned for saying that in regard to its tropical industries it must look first to its own development. I gathered from the speech of the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett), that when a quota of 40,000 centals was fixed, the spirit of the agreement was that it should be an effective quota. The intention was to put the growers of Fiji on the same footing as Australian growers, with tho exception that they should pay an import duty of 2s. 6d. a cental. Apparently, however, the negotiators on both sides overlooked the fact that, in the course of trade, other imposts have to be met. One of those is the sales tax, and another is the primage duty of 10 per cent.
– The primage duty was not overlooked, but the sales tax was.
– Quarantine charges were also overlooked. We are now informed that the Government is giving this concession in order to observe the spirit of the agreement. There is, therefore, something to be said in favour of the action the Government is taking. The negotiators of trade agreements naturally desire the spirit of the agreements to be honorably observed. The Minister said, by interjection, a few minutes ago, that primage duty was not overlooked at Ottawa, but while the rate of primage duty at the time the Ottawa agreement was made could not he regarded as normal, it must surely have been realized that a normal rate of primage duty would always be imposed. [Quorum formed.’] Apparently we must revise our former view that the sales tax is a temporary measure to obtain revenue during a time of particular financial difficulty. It seems now that the sales tax will remain a source of Government revenue for a long while to come. >s io the quarantine regulations, it is, in my opinion, a mistake to take these into account in negotiating trade treaties. Quarantine practice has nothing to do with tracing, being designed to safeguard the health of the community and to prevent animal, plant and human diseases entering Australia from abroad. Quarantine charges, therefore, should not be considered when trade treaties are being negotiated. While I sympathize with the desire of the Government to observe the spirit of the Ottawa agreement, I also sympathize with the banana-growers of Australia, who will be adversely affected by the passage of this bill. I consider that these producers should be given a definite assurance by the Government that no further concessions of any kind will be given to the banana-growers of Fiji. Our bananagrowers have organized their industry in a remarkably efficient manner, and their methods of cultivation and marketing are most commendable. I consider therefore, that they and their families should be assured of continuity of policy on the part of the Government. They should not be subjected to the disabilities of fluctuating political expediency.
– Should not the people engaged in every industry be assured of continuity of policy?
– Yes. In my opinion, there should be less obtrusion of partisan politics into the arena of production.
-Does not that also apply to the glass industry?
– It applies to industries generally. A great deal of capital has been invested in the banana industry in Queensland. Further, a great deal of employment has been provided, and an efficient co-operative marketing organization has been developed by it. Every endeavour has been made to ensure that only bananas of a high standard will be placed on the market. I am sorry that the marketing arrangements of the New South Wales banana-growers are not as satisfactory as those of Queensland. An industry of this description should be organized on a nation-wide and not a State basis. I hope that the Government will give sympathic consideration to the earnest and eloquent requests made by the honorable member for Moreton, and by the representatives of the banana-growers who waited on him to-day, for an assurance that no further concessions would be givento the banana-growers outside Australia.
– I hope that this bill will be withdrawn. Otherwise serious additional disabilities must fall on the bananagrowers of Queensland, who are already bearing serious privations in consequence of the great development of the industry at a time when the purchasing power of the market was not sufficient to absorb the increased production. Those engaged in this industry have developed an efficient marketing organization and are offering for sale only high quality bananas, and they should therefore be given every consideration. I do not agree with the statement of the Minister in charge of this bill (Sir Henry Gullett), that the passage of this bill will not open the way for additional imports of bananas into Australia.I consider that the intentions of the Ottawa Agreement have already been fulfilled. It was agreed that Australia should admit up to 40,000 centals of bananas at a duty of 2s. 6d. per cental. Notwithstanding what has been said to the contrary, it must have been realized at that time that the usual imposts on trade of that description were to be met. Ever since the ratification of that agreement, I have endeavoured by interviews and correspondence to get the Government to give an assurance that nothing further would be done to encourage the importation of Fiji bananas, and not long ago I received a definite undertaking on that point. In view of the fact that the representatives of the British Government at Ottawa made concessions to Fiji in regard to the sugar it marketed in Great Britain greater than those made to Australia, I do not think our representatives at Ottawa need have made any concessions to Fiji in regard to bananas. Greater assistance is rendered to the Fijian sugar producers for the sugar they export to Great Britain, than is received by our sugar producers forthe surplus sugar that they send to that market. For this reason the sugar-growers of Queensland, who are operating on small areas from six to ten acres, are entitled to assume that they were making a sacrifice which rendered unnecessary the granting of further concessions to the Fijian banana industry. I do not criticize the British Government for having made a substantial concession to Fiji in respect of sugar. In this regard the following extract from The Dominion Office and Colonial Office List for 1984 in respect of Fijian trade to Great Britain is interesting : -
The improvement in trade is due mainly to increased sugar production. The agreements arrived at at Ottawa have placed the sugar industry in a very sound position.
The people of Fiji could surely continue, without complaint, the trade that they are at present doing with Australia in manufactured goods. Evidently Fiji does not place much importance upon its banana trade with Australia, because in 1928, when the duty of 8s. 4d. per cental on bananas totally prohibited the entry of any Fiji bananas to Australia, our trade with that country was valued at £621,396, whereas now, it is valued at a little over £400,000. The Minister referred to certain preferences which Fiji had granted to Australian products at Ottawa, hut I point out that Fiji merely accorded to Australian products the same treatment as it accorded to Canadian products. The statement of the Minister that the passage of this bill would not seriously affect the interests of the Australian banana-growers is not acceptable to me. As Fiji has sent to Australia in the last year or two only about 30 per cent, of its annual quota of 40,000 centals, it will be seen that the passage of this bill would probably lead to an increase of such imports by 70 per cent. These goods must enter into competition with the Australian product, and so limit the market for our growers to that extent. I am aware that the industry is suffering very much at the moment, and I regret that anything should be done to inflict further pain upon the unfortunate growers. Their plight is due in no small degree to over-production brought about by the lack of co-ordination in the industry itself, but also to the absence of constitutional power to bring about an Australiawide organization to control tho expansion of the industry, extend it* marketing possibilities, and increase the price of bananas.
– I thought that the banana-growers had a perfect organization.
– In Queensland we have an organization, but, unlike the honorable gentleman, I am not sanguine of influencing the whole of the Commonwealth to adopt a similar scheme. I hope, however, that the wheat-growers will see the necessity for organizing themselves as the bananagrowers in Queensland have done. Thos* in the Wide Bay electorate can send their fruit past Sydney to the Melbourne and Adelaide markets at times, and they can do this successfully. Yet growers at Lismore and Coffs Harbour, in New South Wales, often find difficulty in marketing their product in Sydney. That being the case, the difficulty of the grower on our North Coast, who has to send to Melbourne and Adelaide, can be understood.
As to the return the growers receive, I have figures relating to the Murwillumbah growers. Last season they sent 300,000 cases io Sydney, which, at 15s. a case, resulted in a gross return of £225,000. This season they increased the number of cases to 450,000 which, with the Queensland product, created a glut on the Sydney market, causing the price to drop to about 10s. a case. The growers thus received no more for the additional 150,000 cases than they had received for the smaller quantity in the previous season. Banana-growers generally get very little for their product to-day. Frequently they have to forgo a little to help pay for transport. The growers have to pay additional handling costs on the greater bulk of bananas transported, for which they receive less money. The cost of transport to the New South Wales market is 7s. 4d. a case. For 450,000 cases at 10s., the Murwillumbah growers received £56,000 against £112,000 for 350,000 cases at 15s. a case in the previous season. The worst difficulty of the Queensland growers is the great increase of production in New South Wales. In 1928, there were 1,900 acres under banana cultivation in New South Wales; by 1934 the acreage had grown to 22,000 acres, without provision for an expansion of the market. New plantings in Queensland grew from 7,500 acres in 1928 to 19,000 acres in 1934. After making provision for the cutting out of old plantations, there are 15,000 acres under cultivation in that State to-day. During the last ten months the industry in both States has produced 1,198,976 cases, and for a similar period last year produced 799,976 cases. The present is therefore the most inopportune time in the history of banana production in Australia for the relaxing of conditions that prevent foreign bananas from competing against the locally-grown product.
– What was responsible for the increased acreage?’
– The main reason was that people formerly employed in other industries had been assisted to go on the land. As a result, growers have had to face the position of increased production with a diminishing return.
– Was it not because banana plantations showed a remarkable return for each acre?
– What is the average yield to the acre?
– That depends on seasonal conditions and the age of the plantation. Another difficulty confronting the growers in Queensland is that where plantings are made on the side of a mountain, the product has to be conveyed down to the flats on flying foxes. Another factor which affects the yield is how long the field is likely to remain in bearing. Very high costs are frequently incurred in felling the scrub and placing the plantation into bearing, and growers in mountainous country are placed at a further disadvantage because they are unable to use machinery. All honorable members will agree that the unfortunate plight of the growers reflects chiefly upon the governments of the States for having greatly increased the plantings. Action should be taken to assist the growers of all fruits to market their product at a more reasonable cost. Payment of one shilling a case should be our policy. Our problem is npt a glut of fruit, but the difficulties inherent in the distribution of perishable commodities by rail. Action should be taken by the governments of this country in the interests of the growers and consumers of all perishable fruits to enable them to enjoy very low rail freights. They have to pay heavy freight costs to Brisbane, and if the fruit is shipped to Melbourne and Adelaide further railway freights have to be paid. All these charges are in addition to the cost of picking, packing, and agents’ commissions. What hope is there of developing lands within the tropical and sub-tropical portions of Australia? This is a matter for the concern of the Commonwealth. No matter what States honorable members represent, they must get away from their own environment and realize that Australia is a country enjoying conditions of soil and climate not surpassed in any other part of the world. We must make it possible to apply to the fullest extent the advantageous conditions peculiar to each district.
I hope the House will not agree to thi* additional concession to Fiji, which can only further harass the banana-growers, “but will endeavour to see how the banana-growing industry can be assisted. If we pass this bill Fiji will be able to send not only 30 per cent., but the whole of its product to Australia. I agree with the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) who said that the banana shipments from Fiji affect the Australian market for a considerable time before and after they arrive.
– I fully realize the national importance of the work entrusted to the Minister directing. negotiating for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) and I am sure every honorable member must appreciate the fact tha.t he has to face extraordinarily difficult problems. There is no doubt whatever that, if we are to solve the problem of marketing our exportable products, trade agreements must be made with those countries willing to trade with us, and that it is absolutely essential that we should make these agreements on a reciprocal basis. If we cannot appreciate the absolute necessity of the principle of reciprocity there is very little hope of our managing to arrange any really satisfactory trade treaties in the future.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) said a few minutes ago that there were a great many banana-growers in the electorate of Lilley.
– The honorable member’s . predecessor used to speak on behalf of them.
– I recall very well a debate which took place in 1921, when my predecessor, Mr. Mackay, moved a resolution which had the effect of increasing the duty on. imported bananas from 2s. 6d. to 8s. 4d. a cental.
– That was a ministerial action. The honorable member’s predecessor moved that the duty be increased to 13s. 4d. a cental.
– At any rate my predecessor was recognized as the arch-protector of the industry. In those days there were a great many banana-growers in the Lilley electorate, but following upon the redistribution of electoral boundaries most of the growers are now in the electorate of Wide Bay. In my attitude towards this measure [ am not greatly concerned as to whether there are in my electorate a g’-eat many growers or a few. With other honorable members, I am concerned about the unhappy future of those engaged in this most important industry. When the Ottawa agreement was given effect to in this House I was not here ; I was passing through a period of enforced furlough. However, I read with the keenest interest the debates which took place when the various agreements arising out of the Ottawa Conference came before Parliament for ratification. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, pointed out that under the Ottawa agreement Australia undertook to admit 40,000 centals of Fijian bananas each year at a duty of 2s. 6d. a cental, which is approximately 2s. a case. In return for this concession the Fijian Government agreed to accord Australia the benefit of the British preferential tariff throughout the entire range of its tariff schedule, and to place Australia on a list of British countries which were receiving special tariff preferences under the Fijian tariff in respect of twenty items of importance to Australia. Prior to that agreement being reached, these special preferences were granted only to the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Hong Kong. In these special items alone there is a trade worth £38,000 to Australia. It has been claimed by Fiji that the concessions granted by Australia to Fijian bananas were rendered almost nugatory owing to the incidence of taxation other than the import duty. Apparently it is felt by the Fijian people that they have not received from Australia an equitable return for the concessions accorded to Australia by Fiji in the terms of the Ottawa agreement. The Minister has emphasized our favorable trade position with Fiji, and ‘has pointed out that, during the last seven years, while we have imported from Fiji goods to the average value of only £42,334 a year we have exported to that colony goods valued at £419,154 a year. This leaves a very substantial annual balance in our favour. Moreover, our annual exports to Fiji include £320,000 worth of goods of purely Australian origin, which disposes of the contention that our trade with that colony is largely a re-export one.
I am sure that every honorable membewill admit that the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties must evince a spirit of reciprocity if anything at all is to be achieved. It is hopeless to try to make trade treaties with other countries that will enable us to dispose of our exportable products unless we give something in return, and it is often found that by giving a little one gains a great deal.
As for the banana-growers of Queensland and northern parts of New South Wales, I feel for them the very greatest concern. I know many of them personally, and I am aware of the almost hopeless position with which they are faced. When the increased duty was imposed in 1921 on imported bananas the growers were given great hope, and thousands of ex-members of the Australian Imperial Force entered the industry which they thought offered a suitable avenue for establishing themselves in civil life. Banana-growing is strenuous work, and demands almost ceaseless exertion from a man who wishes to cultivate his plantation properly. Most’ of the plantations cling to the sides of mountains. A few years after the imposition of the 1921 duty, diseases of various kinds broke out in the plantations resulting in the almost entire failure of the crop in Northern New South Wales. It was only after the most strenuous efforts by experts attached to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research that means were found for controlling, if not eliminating, these diseases. The growers started again with renewed hope, and then came the decision to admit a stipulated quantity of Fijian bananas under the terms, of the Ottawa agreement. I do not think that that arrangement ever had any very serious effect upon the market for bananas in Australia, because the Fijian growers never exported to Australia in any one year the full quantity permitted under the agreement.
– The imports of Fijian bananas amounted to less than 3f> per cent, of the stipulated quantity.
– However, the undoubted object of this hill ia to make it possible for Fijian growers to export to Australia the full, quota of 40,000 centals. I cannot see that that in itself is likely to affect tho Australian growers seriously except that, as the industry is already threatened by overproduction, any imports from oversea*, are likely to accentuate the trouble.
– Is not the trouble rather under-consumption than overproduction ?
– I do not know. I am one of those unfortunate persons who can never eat a banana, but I have always understood that bananas are a particularly healthful food, particularly for young people. The case for the- banana-growers has been put eloquently and ably by previous speakers, and I shall content myself with making an earnest appeal to the Minister not to increase the quota admissible from Fiji, or to take any other action which would impose a further setback on those unfortunate people who are to-day struggling to make a living. I agree with the- honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) that, in negotiating treaties: with other countries^ we must be particularly careful1 to watch the interests of our own tropical industries, because such industries are carried on in other countries under conditions vastly different from those which prevail here.
.- As I listen to the debates which take place m this House on various hills, which, in an economic sense/ conflict one with another, I am reminded of the utterance of G. B. Shaw when he said that this planet was the lunatic asylum of all the other planets. Were it otherwise wo should not tolerate the present crazy economic system. Our efforts remind on* ‘ of the struggles of a blindfolded man in a dark room trying to find a black eat that is not there, or of a boy trying to get a dent out of a rubber ball, who, as fast as he pushes it out on one side, places a corresponding dent in the other. We are seeking to make trade agreements with Belgium, Germany and other countries in order to dispose of what we describe as our surplus production, but all the time oar great problem is not overproduction but under-consumption. If we could so increase the purchasing power of the people as to make it possible for every small boy to eat a banana when he wanted to, or when it was good for him, the problem of finding a market for our Australian bananas would be solved at onceI am opposed to lifting the sales tax on Fijian bananas boro use we would thereby give an unfair advantage to an imported product over the product of one of our own industries.
– Yesterday the honorable member opposed the placing of a sales tax on imported foodstuffs, notably Allenbury’s Fond
– Last night I said that: when the health of the people was concerned, protective duties should not be considered. There is no analogy between imported invalid food and imported bananas. Surely (he Minister has sufficient intelligence to appreciate that. Instead of trying to tinker with the present economic system, putting a patch on here and taking one off there, we should face the position squarely, and realize that the era of production for profit is gone, never to return ; and that the only hop’; for the world lies in a system of managed production designed to supply tha requirement of the people. Until that is done we shall have to endure this endless and irritating series of contradictions. This salestax was imposed a little while ago and was found not to work. It is, therefore, being taken off again. In other words, the Government is pushing the dent out of the rubber ball. I am opposed to the bill’ for the reasons stated by the representatives of the banana-growing districts, who know what the requirements of the industry are. They have made out a good case. They have shown that the production of bananas in Australia is more than sufficient to meet the demand. We believe in the policy of a White Australia, and no government is prepared to interfere with it. Why then should we allow Fijian bananas produced by black labour to come into competition with white-grown bananas on the Australian market?
– But we sell very gladly to black-labour countries.
– That is no reason why we should destroy a white man’s industry. The banana industry, which is carried on by white men in Australia, will be handicapped if importations of bananas produced by black labour in Fiji are allowed to come in. This bill represents a retrograde step. I shall vote against it, believing that the imposition of sales tax and primage on imports of bananas is a necessary measure of protection for the white men engaged in the industry, and that that protection must be continued if they are to be keptoutof the Bankruptcy Court.
Mr.RIORDAN (Kennedy) [5.48].The proposal to remove sales tax and primage from bananas imported from Fiji wasnot disclosed during the recent federal election. The subject was frequently discussed during the three years prior to the dissolution, and we were assured by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis), who was then an Assistant Minister, and also the present Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White), as well as the Minister in charge of this bill (Sir Henry Gullett) that no further concession would be granted in respect of imports of bananas from Fiji. The Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties interjected a moment ago that we were prepared to sell Australian goods to blacklabour countries. Thatwas the position when a national government imposed a duty of 8s. 4d. per cental on bananas. The then Minister for Trade and Customs (Sir Walter Massy-Greene) explained that the duty was designed to establish the industry and to enable returned soldiers to enter it. It was felt that such a duty would ensure Australian growers a market for their product. Following the imposition of that duty, the Queensland Government opened up new country and settled returned soldiers upon it to engage in the production of bananas. The concession made under the Ottawa agreement, by which Fiji was permitted to land 40,000 centals of bananas in Australia at 2s. 6d. a cental, was a big blow to the local industry. The higher duty had then been in operation for ten years, and the stage of, over-production had just been reached. The granting of this concession to black-grown bananas rendered it impossible for Australian growers to compete profitably with them on the local market. Labour and transport costs in Australia are very much higher than they are in Fiji, and, not only bananas, but the produce of other Australian primary industries suffer because of high freights. I am afraid that the banana-growers of Australia will not be able to carry on if Fijian bananas are allowed to come in at 2s. 6d. per cental and freeof primage and sales tax. The imposition of the duty of 8s. 4d. per cental in 1921 gave the growers asense of security and encouraged them to extend their operations. No one can say that the public has been exploited as the result of the protection thus afforded. During the present period of depression we should be encouraging rather than restricting our primary industries. Thereare thousands of people on the dole; and although the Minister has said that Fiji will only supply 2½ per cent. of Australia’s requirements in respect of banana’s, we cannot afford So throw away even that percentage, having regard to the number of people who are out of employment. The honorable member for Moreton said that the industry had been generously treated bythe Government, which had made grants for scientific research to enable it to combat the ravages of bunchy top and other pests. Then why this set-back? “All that we are seeking to do”, said the Minister, “is to give the Fijian bananas a perfectly open run in this country after the duty of 2s. 6d. per cental has been paid”. We should not give the product of any foreign industry an open run on the markets of this country. Last year we had an assurance from the Government that no further concession would be granted in respect of imports of
Fijian bananas. Now primage, representing 10 per cent., and sales tax, representing 6 per cent, of the cost are to be removed from those imports. Thus a further preference of 16 per cent, is to be given to them. The representatives of the banana-growing districts view this proposal with much alarm. We have been told that this concession is being granted because of the adverse trade balance. Next year the Government may make a further attack on this industry on the same plea. Are the bananagrowers to be hounded off the land? Many industries have practically been sacrificed as the result of quick changes of government that take place in the Commonwealth. A new government comes in and proceeds to give effect to its protectionist policy under which industries are set up and give promise of expanding. Three years later that government is beaten at the polls and another administration comes in with an entirely different fiscal policy, which gives rise to a lack of confidence on the part of people who would otherwise engage in secondary industries. Prior to the arrangement for the1 admission of 40,000 centals of bananas from Fiji under the lower rate of duty, the Government of Queensland opened up new country and encouraged men to settle on it and cultivate bananas. In 1929, when I first travelled through Kyogle to Sydney, the hills in the neighbourhood of Coif’s Harbour were heavily timbered. To-day practically all those hills have been cleared and converted into banana plantations. Are the people who have settled there, and all others who have been induced to enter the industry, to be sacrificed? Surely we are not going to sacrifice our primary as well as our secondary industries?
The honorable member for Lilley (Sir Donald Cameron) remarked that the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) holds a difficult portfolio. He certainly has a thankless task to perform, and his actions are open to much criticism ; but if production is to be restricted, I suggest .that the banana-growers should not be forced out of production by the granting of concessions to other countries. Instead of giving £6,000 for the elimination of a disease which was imported from Fiji in the first instance, we should consider th, utilization of the money for the purpose of assisting the banana-growers to take up other industries. Certain honorable members on the Government side, when in Opposition, strongly objected to the admission of 40,000 centals of Fijian bananas per annum. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis), when a Minister of the Lyons Government, almost shed tears in defending the Government’s action in agreeing to the importation of that quantity. He said that the Government was doing everything possible to develop the industry. He went to Brisbane, and an inspired resolution was carried there, thanking him for the assistance which he had rendered to the banana-growers; but, when they held a large meeting in the Brisbane Town Hall, the Minister had urgent business to attend to in Canberra. He said that he did not wish to give away Cabinet secrets, but he had opposed the admission of 40,000 centals of bananas a year from Fiji. The only practical way to assist the industry is to vote against the present proposal. Last session the industry had no help from the honorable member for Moreton, but the members of the Country party gave it full support. To-day the position is different, because members of the Country party share ministerial office with members of the United Australia party. Prior to the last election the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) said that he could not work with the Country party, yet he finds himself in harmony with it to-day in thi, attack on the banana industry. Members of the Country party were returned to this Parliament to protect, not to sacrifice, the primary producers. Ministers stated at the election that, if returned, they would not reduce the protection accorded to Australian industries, and the Country party declared that the protection .now granted was too high. Evidently a compromise has been reached, and the Country party is prepared further to sacrifice the banana industry for the sake of office.
.- The protection and development of the banana industry in Australia seriously injure Western Australia in two directions. They increase the cost of the fruit to the people of that State, and they cause a feeling of unfriendliness between Western Australia and its best customers in the Far East, who purchase its flour, potatoes and fruit. These countries allow Australia a free market for its products, although there is an embargo against their sugar, and almost a prohibitive tariff against bananas. Even the Queensland banana-growers recognize” that this is not fair to Western Australia. When the Bight Honorable S. M. Bruce was Prime Minister, he admitted the unfairness of this position, and regretted that the Constitution imposed such conditions on Western Australia. The shipment of Queensland or Fijian bananas to Western Australia is not a commercial proposition. When, in 1921, the duty was increased from 2s. 6d. to 8s. 4d. per cental, I opposed the higher impost on the ground of the loss of trade that would be sustained with another portion of the British Empire. Australia then enjoyed a favorable trade with Fiji, the balance in its favour being about £750,000 a year. Australia needed that trade.
It is surprising to me that the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) and the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) seem to attach tremendous importance to the banana industry. They say nothing about the unfairness of increasing the cost of this fruit to the children of the poor. This industry does not bring any new capital into this country, and in that respect it stands in strong contrast to the wheat industry, which the royal commission stated brought new capital into Australia during the depression to the amount of £23,000,000 a year. 1 am justified in agreeing to the Government’s proposal. It is not an extreme action to allow 40,000 centals of bananas to be imported into Australia from Fiji each year. We cannot afford to lose our trade with that country; to do so would be to injure the best interests of the working man and everybody else in Australia, because we may, eventually, place ourselves in such a position that no country will trade with us.
.- There is a school of thought in Western Australia which holds a different view of this matter from that presented by the last speaker (Mr. Prowse). There may have been justification for the importation of bananas from Fiji when’ that fruit was not grown in Australia, but the position is very different to-day. Thanks to a number of young fruit-growers who transferred their activities from Queensland to Carnarvon, Western Australia is now supplying a large quantity of its own bananas, instead of having to meet all its requirements by importations from the Dutch East Indies.
– That State still imports more bananas from the East than Australia obtains from Fiji.
– That is so. Western Australia is not destroying its trade with the Dutch East Indies by growing bananas. The balance of trade with that country is still against Australia. The Hooding of Western Australian markets with bananas from the Dutch East Indies would receive scant support to-day in my electorate, and in the electorate of Perth. Bananas are supplied to the residents of all the capital cities at remarkably low prices. I have seen good fruit displayed for sale at 3d. a dozen, so the Queensland growers must receive a very small reward for their labour. In 1931-32, the duty paid on bananas brought into Western Australia from tho Dutch East Indies amounted to £6,000. At that time the people throughout the rest of Australia paid no duty at all on bananas. Since only £3,000 was paid last year in duty on this fruit, the industry in Western Australia considers that £6,000 a year should be allowed by the Commonwealth Government as a specific grant to help it to become established on a firmer basis. There are several problems in the cultivation of bananas in Western Australia. The high winds experienced in the localities where they are grown necessitate the erection of brush fences 20 feet high.
Sitting suspended from 6.16 to 8 p.m.
– In 1931-32 the amount collected by way of customs duty upon bananas imported into Western Australia was £6,000. The sum is probably much less now, due to the increased output of local bananas, but, whatever it is, it might well be utilized in assisting the industry in that State to become self-supporting, and able to compete against imports from Java.
The industry is a difficult and costly one to establish in Western Australia because ali the water Used on the plantations is taken from the bed of the river; on account of the comparatively low rainfall. Although the initial troubles are Being overcome, the men engaged in it are poor and struggling. I trust the Government Will agree to this suggestion. ki. HASTENS (Herbert) [8.3].- It is my intention to support the amendment of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde). I believe that bananas of good quality can be grown in Australia to the fullest extent of the requirements of our people, and that consequently there i« no necessity for imports from Fiji. According to the Brisbane Courier-Mail, this section of the Ottawa agreement was given effect, not at the request, but in opposition to the wishes of the people of Fiji.
– I assure the adorable gentleman that that is not ‘bo.
– Although the imports from Fiji have been few, they have been sufficient to create bad feeling. Some members of the Country party are inconsistent in their attitude towards this matter. One whom I could name supported the granting of assistance to wheat-growers, but now seems to have fallen foul of his friends’; or his friends have fallen foul of the banana-growers. If the people who so desire are, denied the right to make a living in . this industry, they will become competitive with workers in other occupations, or, will have to accept government relief work, or the dole. That would be deplorable. It is suggested that , Fiji is “a part of ‘the British Empire. That is sp ; but it is not a very free part. The labour employed there is not much better than those who are responsible for it; it is black labour of the cheapest possible kind. I do not believe that Australia is .justified in supporting an industry in which that class of labour is employed. Only those who own plantations in Fiji desire this concession; it gives them a market for !a portion of their output. The bananagrowing industry is as much entitled as any other primary industry to ‘Government support. It ‘supplies a necessary and very valuable -food. Yet, in common with industries of a like character, it is denied the right to expand. Admittedly; it does not produce the same amount of wealth as other industries, such as the wheat and wool industries; but it provides a living for many people, abd a greater number could be absorbed in it-. I represent a purely rural electorate) in which there is not one secondary industry. It contains a few small butter factories, but th’e major portion of it is devoted to sugar and banana-growing, and dairying. In the Tully area there is plenty of scope for the growing of good quality bananas, but competition against Fiji i3 not possible. If the honorable member for Lilley (Sir Donald Cameron) bad to fight ah election on the boundaries that existed prior to th’e redistribution, he would not dare to support the Government in ‘this matter, because, if he did so, he could not expect %6 be returned. From the point of view df the Government, “that redistribution was the finest thing that ‘could hate happened, because it. removed from the Lilley electorate all the banana-growers on the north coast of Queensland. I believe that the decision of ex-Speaker Mackay to retire from politics was ^dictated by his unwillingness tq face the hostility of those people. I know something of them, and can say that their temper has been roused by this action of .the Government. I have no hesitation in asserting that it would take the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties much longer to explain to them the reason for the granting of this concession, and how it is going to assist them, than it took him to explain to this House last night his attitude towards the flour tax. There is no doubt “it additional imports of bananas from Ti ‘‘i will have a further bad effect on the industry in Australia. The trade that Australia does with Fiji does not justify the concession. After all the White Australia principle is involved, because the ‘bananas imported are grown by black labour.
.- I have followed the debate with very great interest. I say at once that the Government cannot accept the amendment , If the Deputy
Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde). I definitely assure the honorable members for Moreton (Mr. Francis), Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom), Wide Bay (Mr.Corser), Lilley (Sir Donald Cameron), and others, that theGovernment has neither the intention nor the thought to move in any way to increase the quota of 40,000 Centals per annum, at a duty of 2s. 6d. per cental. That arrangement will stand so long as this Government stands. Moreover, the Government has no intention to give further relief of any kind, by the removal of taxation or the reduction of charges in connexion with bananas imported from Fiji.
Mr.R. Green.- The Governmentcannot do more harm than it has already done; therefore, that assurance is worthless.
– I should like to refer to the suggestions of the honorable member for Moreton, and later, I think, the honorable member for Wide Bay, as to the assistance that the Government might undertake to give in the direction of an investigation in regard to the profitable treatment of thebyproducts of surplus bananas. I am unable at this stage to give any financial undertaking. I am confident, however, that if those two honorable members would approach the Minister in charge of scientific and industrial research. (Senator McLachlan) they would find him sympathetically inclined towards the proposal.
The honorablemember for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) requested that the duty collected onbananasfr om Java admitted into Western Australia should bedevoted to thedevelopmentofthe banana-growing industry in that State.I am afraid that I cannot hold out much hope in that direction. Were the Government to do that,it would establish something entirely new in the way of tariffs in this country. The honorable gentleman might just as well ask that the duties collected on silk goodsshould be devoted to the culture of thesilkworm in this country.
I have beensomewhat surprised and disappointed atthe fact that somanyrepresentativesof rural interests have opposed this trifling adjustment of the Ottawa agreement. Important rural electorates like that of Richmond are great beneficiaries under that agreement. Forevery farthing that they lose under this concession to Fiji, they make thousands of pounds out of butter and other commodities. The almost insurmountable problem of how Australia is to sell overseas its surplus production not only concernsthe primary producer, but also weighs heavily upon every industry, business, and branch of employment in this country, I have been surprised that so many obstacles have been raised against the adjustment and straightening out of the difficulties that have arisen in connexion with this trifling concession to Fijij seeing that the trade to Fiji from Australia is ten times greater than the trade from Fiji to Australia.Unless we can take a broader and more sympathetic interest in the great problem of dealing with our surplus primary products we have a poor lookout ahead of us.
– The Government is proposing to allow the products of a black-labour country to compete against the products of a white-labour country.
– Every honorable member of this Parliament, I believe, subscribes whole-heartedly to the policy of a White Australia, but it was never intended that this policy should exclude from the Commonwealth certain products of coloured labour such as tea andother articles which I shall not mention for I do not wish to reflect in any way upon the people of other countries. It must be recognized that many of our important industries would bein a parlous condition unless we could trade with coloured races beyond our shores. The attitude of the representatives of certain great primary producing constituencies during this debate has surprised me greatly. They should take a broader view of thesesubjects. Some reference has been made in the courseof thedebate to the Australian butter industry. Five years agoAustralia wasexporting about 50,000 tons of butter ayear; last year her exports totalled 108,000 tons;and this yearitlooks as thoughtheywill reach 120,000tons. If theexport of butter from Australia and NewZealand continues to increase as it has in recent years, it would appear that even if Denmark were totally excluded from the British market, a profitable price level in that market could not be maintained. The granting of this small but extraordinarily profitable concession to Fiji was an endeavour by the Government to expand our overseas markets. In return for this concession Fiji granted substantial concessions to Australian products and, I am glad to say, to Australian manufactured products in particular. Our trade in this regard with the Pacific Islands generally, the Dutch East Indies, Malaya and other countries farther up the Asiatic coast has developed greatly. As the honorable member for Lilley (Sir Donald Cameron) said in the course of his speech this afternoon, we must be prepared to make some sacrifices in order to develop our overseas trade.
– We do not hesitate to sell goods to these other countries.
– That is so. We send special commissioners and commercial agents to other countries with the object of promoting the sale of our goods, but apparently some honorable members are entirely opposed to the purchase of any overseas products. The opposition to this measure hascome principally from the representatives of Queensland constituencies who do not seem to realize that Queensland has benefited probably more than any other State by the Ottawa agreement in the sale of sugar, beef, mutton, lamb, butter and other products. If the maximum quantity of Fijian bananas admissible under this concession actually came upon the Australian market it would represent only 2½ per cent. of the total Australian consumption and, as an out-and-out protectionist, I assert that, as a general principle, a competition of 2½ per cent. or a little more is a very good thing for local industries in that it tends to keep both quality and prices right. A competition of less than2½ per cent. could have hardly any influence. Fiji sent to Australia last year only £4,000 worth of bananas, although its full quota would be valued at about £12,000. I cannot understand why there has been such a set against Fiji, for last year we imported more than £9,000 worth of bananas from Norfolk Island and nearly £11,000 worth from Java, most of which went to Western Australia. I assure honorable members that there is no connexion between this bill and the so-called threat of the elective members of the Legislative Assembly of Fiji. I mentioned that aspect of the subject in introducing this bill because unless we act reasonably we shall find that sooner or later Australian goods will be boycotted. We are proposing in this measure to accord to Fiji only the same treatment that we accord to New Zealand.
In reply to the somewhat alarmist statements that certain Queensland representatives have made during this debate regarding the possible effect of this measure on the banana industry of that State, I propose to read some paragraphs from leading articles that have appeared recently in the principal Brisbane daily newspapers. The Telegraph, like other newspapers, lives upon its circulation and in order to have a circulation it must enjoy a certain measure of popularity. If this proposal ran counter so seriously to the welfare of a Queensland industry, the daily newspapers of Brisbane could hardly be expected to regard it with any sympathy whatever. Yet I direct the attention of honorable members to the following paragraph which appeared in the leading article of the Telegraph on the 26th November: -
For our part, we cannot help thinking that much more could be done - preferably by the growers themselves - to stimulate this important branch of the fruit industry. It seems odd that thewhole of the supplies in Western Australia have to be obtained from abroad, and subject to an import duty of 8s. 4d. per cental, plus, we assume, sales tax and primage duty, if there is actually a glut of Australian bananas.
It will be seen that the Telegraph is somewhat critical of the method of marketing the bananas of Queensland, and considers that practically the whole of the Western Australian banana trade might, under different management, be obtained for Queensland. In its leading article on the 21st November the Telegraph stated -
At the present time the Federal Government is engaged in the task of overhauling the tariff. It contemplates the making of trade treaties with other countries with the object of enlarging the Australian export trade. For this purpose it is necessary to gain the goodwill of present and prospective customers abroad. Concessions must be made. Inward trade must be recognized as the natural and inevitable corollary of outward trade, Australia must buy if she is to sell. We thought that Mr. Smith had returned from the United Kingdom a few months ago with the knowledge of this fact firmly implanted in his mind; but now he seems to think that Australia may be law unto itself and should take up the truculent attitude of disregarding the wishes or intentions or threats of other countries.
– Why is the Minister stonewalling the bill?
– I am not doing so. I am replying to arguments used in the debate this afternoon,and I hope that after to-night they will be put to bed for evermore. The Telegraph also stated in the leading article from which I have just quoted -
With due respect to the Premier’s desire to safeguard Queensland interests it may be said that it is unwise to suggest that Australia should disregard the feelings of other countries in matters of trade. The small concessions in regard to Fiji bananas which are contemplated in the remission of sales tax and primage duty, seem to be viewed with exaggerated apprehension, for the importation of this fruit from Fiji under the Ottawa agreement has been far below the quantity allowable, and it is plain that the effect upon local sales cannot have been serious. Yet the report of these minor concessions has almost raised a panic. It is asserted that growers in Australia now are in a precarious state; that the market is glutted; that producers are unable to make profits. In the first place, this is a grave commentary upon the system of “ organized marketing “ which has been a Queensland boast for many long years, bolstered by elaborate legislative and bureaucratic machinery; and if the industry is in such a parlous state as is represented, this suggests the failure of the politicians and bureaucrats to produce the results which their operations were designed and confidently expected to produce.
– The Minister has quoted from a newspaper which is largely concerned with city interests. Has he read the comments of the Courier-Mail?
– I have, and I find that the Courier-Mail made the following statements in an editorial on the 22nd November: -
The new concession is certainly inopportune, but there is a case for regarding it as “ due on demand “. Sales tax and primage are not normal charges. Applied to imports they increase the protective effect of tariffs, and under the Ottawa agreement the Commonwealth acknowledged an obligation to the United Kingdom to remove them as soon as practicable, but a stronger argument is that Fiji trade is worth £347,000 a year to Australia, having risen to that figure in 1932-33 from £268,000 in 1931-32; and the imports we took from Fiji in 1932-33 amounted to only £31,600, including bananas. The Federal Government agreed in 1932 to devote the customs revenue collected on Fiji bananas to a fund to assist the Australian banana-growing industry, and there will be that compensation for the filling of the Ottawa quota. But the chief security of Australian banana-growers remains what it was before- the specific undertaking that no more than 40,000 centals of Fiji bananas shall be admitted to Australia in a single year.
The Courier-Mail, which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition invited me to quote, fully supports the action of the Government.
In reply to the criticism of the use of the revenue derived from the taxation of Fiji bananas I point out that although £5,000 was expected annually from this source, the amount actually received has been substantially less; but all the money so collected has been made available to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research for investigations in various diseases and pests of the banana industry. The Government has decided to continue these investigations, and £1,500 has been made available for next yearfor this purpose, irrespective of whether any money is obtained from the taxation of imported bananas.
– Will that amount be supplemented ?
– It is anticipated that after these trifling concessions have been made the amount of money derived from the duty will be employed for these investigations.
Question - That the word proposed to be omitted (Mr. Forde’s amendment) stand part of the question - put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)
Majority . . 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question- That the bill be now read a second time- put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time;
Clause 1 (Short title).
.- This bill amends the Sales Tax Assessment ActsNos. 5, 6,7 and 8, by the addition in each case of the words “ or Fiji “ after the words “ New Zealand “, and provides for exemption of sales tax on goods imported from Fiji of akind not taxable in this country.
Clause agreed to.
This act shall commence on a date to be fixed by proclamation.
. -I move -
That the word “ proclamation “ be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ the next Parliament.”
I think it is wise that there should be some delay in regard to this matter, and that the Minister should not rush through the House a measure which affects a great employing industry. The Minister says that this is merely a trifling matter. Itis a characteristic phrase of his by which he endeavours to brush aside any opposition to his schemes. But it is no trifling matter to the 8,000 growers in the banana industry who are producing 400,000 cases of bananas in excess of Australia’s requirements to find that 50,000cases a year are to come in from Fiji. Every case of black-grown bananas sold on the Australian market displaces a case of the Australian product. The Minister must know that this concession is not as trifling as he pretends. If it were, ofwhat use would it be to Fiji?
In one breath the Minister says the concession is worthless, and in the next he says it is necessary in order to preserve our trade with Fiji. I was surprised at the behaviour of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) who first condemned the measure roundly, even to the extent of getting into a dispute with the Minister, and then voted for it. I again urge the Minister to delay the passing of this bill for six months, and in the meantime to visit the banana-growing districts and study conditions there for himself. I believe he would then discard the bill.
Question - That the word proposed to be omitted (Mr. Forde’s amendment) stand part of theclause - put. The Committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Prowse.)
Majority . . 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The Chairman having appointed the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) and the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Gardiner) tellers for the “ Ayes “, and the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Gander) and the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) tellers for the “Noes”,
-I directthe honorable member for New England to return to his place, and I appoint the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) teller for the “Ayes”.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 3 to 6 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Mr. SPEAKER announced the receipt from the Governor-General of a message informing the House that the proposed law, which was reserved for the signification of His Majesty’s pleasure, had been laid before His Majesty in Council, and that His Majesty had, by an Order in Council, dated the fifth dayof October, One thousand nine hundred andthirtyfour, been pleased to confirm, approve and declare his assent to it.
The Governor-General had caused the King’s assent to be proclaimed in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette No. 81, dated 6th December, 1934.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:-
Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2)1934.
National Debt Sinking Fund Bill1934.
Debate resumed from 12th December (vide page 1087), on motion by Mr. Casey-
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This bill is full of promise and is likely to be the most fruitful of those which have been introduced by the present Government. It provides for a scientific examination of a large tract of country north of the 22nd parallel of latitude with the object of making new mineral discoveries in remote areas that present too many difficulties foi the ordinary prospector to overcome. The system to be adopted is entirely new so far as prospecting for gold in Australia is concerned. In the early days in Victoria and Western Australia it was usual to send out a prospector provided with a tin dish, a shovel and what was known as a “ grub stake “ of £.1 a week, with which to purchase food. If the prospector made a rich discovery then he participated in it. Recently, however, there has come into use what is known as the geophysical method of prospecting. Although it is as yet far from perfect it gives possibilities of greater gold discoveries than the world has ever known. Dr. A. C. Rivett, one of the chief “executive officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Researchrecently published a pamphlet on the subject which every honorable member should read, and which cannot be too freely advertised. In this pamphlet Dr. Rivett suggests a way out of our present difficulties. Australia, because it is more highly mineralized than any other country, even allowing for the very rich and wide occurrences of gold in the Transvaal, offers, in the opinion of Dr. Rivett, a greater opportunity for prospecting under this system than any other country. Laymen might well be excused for asking for an explanation of geophysical prospecting. I do not think I could do better than quote for the information of honorable members, a paragraph or two from a book entitled Applied Geophysics, by Eve and Keys, in which in a few plain but graphic words, the authors indicate what this latest scientific method of prospecting for minerals means -
During the Great War the .position of airships and of airplanes was found at night by direction finders, sometimes consisting of sound reflectors, sometimes of wireless detectors. Guns in France were located within a few yards, though miles away, by sound rangers employing fine wires cooled by puffs of air caused by the sound of gun fire, so that the electrical resistance of the wires was slightly but measurably affected. To-day most ocean-going ships are fitted with wireless apparatus by which they can obtain their bearings in cloudy weather or fog. Directional wireless rays of a fairly narrow beam are employed to guide pilots on their path. The detection of submarines during the war afforded a difficult problem, which admitted of several solutions with varying effectiveness . . .
If then we can locate the hidden submarine by its noise, its oil patches, by its electrochemical properties, its magnetic effects, its electro-magnetic effects, or by sound reflected or echoed from it, is there any reason why wo should not detect an underground body by some of these methods? Indeed, a mineral vein ha 8 one great advantage; it is stationary, and does not move away like a submarine. Once located we can remain above its neighbourhood and study its behaviour under stimulus, with variation of treatment.
Geophysics also offers indirect aids to geologist and miner, such as the discovery of faults where one region has moved up or down or sideways with respect to another region
Upon this system, in my opinion, depends the making of big discoveries of goldbearing country in Australia. It is often asked why so many discoveries of goldbearing country were made in the first few years of gold-mining in Victoria, Western Australia, and Queensland. The average layman thinks that, because discoveries are not being made to-day as quickly as they were in the early days, the gold-bearing areas in Australia have been exhausted. The plain truth is that a prospector in the years gone by set out to discover an outcrop - places where rocks had been thrust through the surface of the earth by nature. These, being on the surface, were of course easily discovered. All those in the inhabited parts of Australia have long since been found and tested. In Western Australia new outcrops have been seen, but I believe that big discoveries will be made iri the future by the application of a system such as that for which this bill provides. The country to be examined lieB, as I have said, to the north of the 22nd parallel of latitude, and includes the district of Granites, in Central Australia. Country which could not be explored by the ordinary prospector, because of his inability to find the necessary funds, will be opened up in this way. The proposal is that the Government of Western Australia and Queensland - and this is the only occasion on which two States have combined for such a purpose - shall each contribute to the fund £37,500, or £75,000 in all, and that a similar amount shall be contributed by the Commonwealth, making a total of £150,000 available for this purpose. Such an amount has often been frittered away on one mine, floated .with the idea of passing something on to credulous investors, the promoters themselves knowing that there was no gold on the property. But by this expenditure of £150,000 it is hoped we shall be able to explore successfully not less than 30,000 square miles of country at the rate, I think, of 3,000 square miles a year.
– Three thousand in the first year; thereafter we shall speed up.
– This expenditure will be spread over a period of years, and ultimately an area one-third the size of Victoria will have been fairly well examined. I do not propose to enter into an explanation of the method that is to be adopted. Briefly, as outlined in the book to which I have referred, it may be said that electrodes - that is to say, the terminals or poles of a galvanic battery, usually charged by an engine, so as to give a fairly high current^ are placed in the ground where ore bodies are thought to exist, and a discharge of electricity is forced into the earth. Where the current is carried with good conduction - as might be expected from copper wire - the presumption is that a mineral body exists there. I think we may reasonably be a little optimistic in regard to this experiment. A great deal of optimism is required by those who go in search of gold. It is about the only commodity in the world the price of which has increased of late years; it is now worth about twice as much as it was a few years ago. The whole world wants gold, and there are no marketing, transport, or storage difficulties to be encountered in connexion with the industry. As Dr. Rivett has pointed out, it opens a possible way by which Australia could relieve itself of its great overseas debt.
Some years ago an imperial geophysical experimental survey was carried out in Australia under the joint auspices of the British Empire Marketing Board and the Commonwealth Government, by arrangement with Mr. Gepp - now Sir Herbert Gepp - of the Development and Migration Commission. From the middle of 1929 until February, 1930, under Mr. Broughton Edge, the party made a search in about twenty localities. One naturally asks whether any practical results were obtained from their investigations, and it must be admitted that no great discoveries were then made. At Northampton, in Western Australia, localities were pointed out where lead might be found, and bodies of ore were actually discovered. Five or six surveys were made in the vicinity of Canberra, including Captain’s Flat. I had expected that the party would visit the Golden Mile, which is the richest known auriferous belt in Australia, in search of new lodes. Although men have been working continuously in the old Boulder mine with the most modern machinery, they have discovered, within a comparatively small area, lodes the existence of which was previously unknown, although mining operations had been carried on there actively for 40 years. Gold-bearing lodes, unless they are highly mineralized, are .not easily discovered by geophysical methods. Germany and Sweden have reaped great benefit from the application of this system in their quest for mineral deposits, such as iron. For about eighteen years an intensive search was made in Sweden for the purpose of discovering a rich ore vein which was believed to exist in a certain locality. Prospecting under the old methods over a number of years gave no definite results; but, in 1909, when there was a keen search for iron deposits, geophysical methods were employed, and valuable results were immediately obtained. Although prospecting had been conducted previously in this locality, and it was thought that no valuable deposits of iron ore were to be found there, the application of geophysical research revealed the presence of a very large body of iron ore, and to-day this is one of the richest mines in Sweden, which has the most valuable deposits of iron ore in the world. Searching by means of aeroplanes has been fairly successful in revealing anticlines that give indications of the presence of oil. After an areaof country has been mapped out by means of thousands of photographs, prospecting is proceeded with by geophysical methods, and, if the results are promising, boring is begun in order to locate the bodies of ore.
The one fault I find with the bill is that the Government proposes to let contracts for the mapping of mineral areas from the air. Tenders are to be called in January next, but I point out that we have the means at hand by which the work could be done immediately. It could be carried out quite satisfactorily by members of the Royal Australian Air Force, and it would incidentally enable the members of that force to become thoroughly acquainted with the northern portion of this continent, which is the least known part of Australia. When I was Minister for Defence the Sydney City Council employed members of the Air Force to prepare certain maps of Sydney, and the work was carried out at a nominal charge. Instead of adopting the old Tory idea of doing all work by contract, members of the Air Force could be engaged to prepare the maps required for a geophysical survey. In the event of war, the knowledge of North Australia that they would thus gain would be most valuable. I heartily commend the bill, but I suggest that the amount of £403,000 proposed to be expended under the direction of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Employment to supply subsidies and loans to prospectors, for the erection of batteries and treatment works, and to assist companies engaged in legitimate developmental work, should be used under the scheme indicated in this bill, and applied to the rest of Australia as recommended by Dr. Rivett in a pamphlet published in August last, entitled “Debts, Unemployment, Gold, and the Council for Scientific and
Industrial Research.” If Ministers would study that pamphlet, they would be able to evolve a much more useful scheme than that which they now appear to have in mind. Dr. Rivett, mindful of the extinction of the external debt of Australia of £554,500,000, in the course of his pamphlet states -
What exactly is involved in this huge digging task? Assume, to begin with, that Australia does not possess any great deposits of high grade ore; or, in other words, let us regard nuggets and high grade deposits as casual (but most welcome) gifts of the gods, just as the pearl-shell fisher regards perfect pearls. His business depends on pearl-shell: pearls are just pleasing extras. Our pearlshell is, say, seven pennyweight ore, and, if we want to get 2,830 tons of gold from it, we must discover, dig out, and treat some 264 million tons of such ore. Assume a density of 2.5 (certainly a low figure) for the ore, and the volume we require is about 3,790 million cubic feet, or a cube of edge 512 yards. Put in another way, this is about onefortieth of a cubic mile, or a heap 1 square mile in area and 44 yards high.
Is it stretching the imagination too much to believe thatsuch a pile exists in Australia in reasonably accessible deposits? No one can say: but this is a heavily mineralized country and it does not seem to me outrageous to believe that we possess all this and a great deal more.
Suppose we have dug it out, and in doing so have taken thousands of men from loafing round city streets and degenerating on the dole, how may we ensure that the gold goes to cancel the external debt? Here I ask the aid of the economist and in his absence merely suggest that national action would be necessary to ensure the exchange of the gold for Australian paper currency or Government debentures and stock.
So we have a possible means of recovering sufficient gold to discharge the external debt. What has been done in the Transvaal could be accomplished in Australia. Dr. Rivett adds -
The Transvaal is the great Empire producer and, in the three years 1920-22, prior to the American shipments, it averaged 7,765,000 ounces out of a world production averaging 15,852,000. In 1932 the Transvaal yielded 11,559,000 ounces, an increase of 49 per cent. on the 1920-29 average.
Even with the fillip that the mining industry has received, it is only expected that £8,000,000 worth of gold will be won in Australia this year; but, in the Transvaal, the estimated value of the production is £100,000,000. In the opinion of Dr. Rivett, Australia is a more highly mineralized country than South Africa. I regret that tat this stage of the session I have not sufficient time to deal fully with this matter, but I intend to refer to it at every opportunity.
– I exercise the privilege of speaking so soon after my journey down from the roof of Australia, because I regard this as an excellent opportunity to advocate the’ immediate development of not only the old mineral fields of north–west Queensland and Western Australia, but also the known and unexplored regions of the Northern Territory. I confess that yesterday afternoon I felt somewhat alarmed at the prospect of making what might be termed a maiden speech. I shall endeavour, however, to make practical suggestions for the immediate commencement of operations on some of the fields in that vast area of the Northern Territory over which this geological and geophysical survey is to be made. In past years a great deal of money has been spent there upon fantastic schemes launched by fantastic people. I do not want it to be inferred that this comes within that category. It is a practical proposal which has the hallmark and the backing of science for its promotion. But I see pitfalls ahead, because so much preliminary work is proposed before anything practical is to be done. I believe that the fields where gold is known to exist should be operated on immediately, and that scouting should be undertaken later. There are fields on which there are old prospectors who already have information which is invaluable. That knowledge will die with them if the Government does not take steps to procure it. Aa an honorable member said yesterday, these men are “ burnt out “. I have been close to the extremities of their fields of exploration, but neither the Government nor the survey party knows where they have been, except by hearsay. I, therefore, ask that when these special officers and eminent scientists start out on this aerial survey they first visit and confer with these old prospectors, and, if possible, add them to their parties before going further afield. Unless they do, they will be running from the known to seek the unknown. The scientific side of present-day survey methods has been thoroughly explained by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green). Some may be inclined to look askance at the new methods of conducting surveys. From the superficial knowledge that I have gained from my technical reading I can say that the electrical method of measuring electrical conductivity, which is either higher or lower than normal, according to whether mineralization exists or is absent, has been tested and even accepted in the law courts of other countries. When a reinforced concrete building collapsed, geophysical methods of this nature were employed without actually breaking the concrete, to prove that the requisite thickness had not been provided and that a shoddy contractor had put in smaller reinforcements of steel than had been stipulated. Last year I was sent into Arnheim Land to examine that country for pastoral and agricultural possibilities I traversed a wide area, extending from beyond the King River to the Liverpool River, and I may say that of all the areas I have inspected in the Northern Territory I was most impressed with the King River district. I recommend the immediate opening up of Arnheim Land west of the Liverpool River, for the purpose of prospecting. I do that confidently, knowing that no one would be injured thereby. I counted the natives and found that they numbered fewer than 50. I even went to the trouble of providing reserves in known feeding grounds, where there is game in abundance. If this area were opened up for prospecting, opportunities for employment would be provided for some of those who now waste their time in the cities and towns. There is a well watered area extending right into Pine Creek. I have been reliably informed that there are prospectors on this field who are averse to telling the real story of what they have obtained out of the dolly pot. That shows that there is gold between the South Alligator River and Pine Creek. An aerial survey would fix the extent of that field. Further south, nearer to Tennant’s Creek, is an area over which I walked in 1930 making surveys. To-day there is on it a thriving little township of 300 miners. Gold occurs at shallower depths there than it does in many of the northern parts. The aerial survey could use this as a base for its scouting operations further afield. I should like the round-table conference that I have suggested to take place at this spot, where there are many old prospectors - desert rats, as they are called; or, a3 I prefer to term them, periscopes of the desert. The names of such men as Barney O’Leary, Ted North, Jack Atherton and Bill Garnett are a by-word. These men are getting up in years, and are “burnt out”. I should be sorry if the knowledge which they possess were to die with them. It could be used immediately in the development of the Territory. I agree, but for technical reasons, with the remarks of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, with regard to the tenders for the photographic survey. I do not know what the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has in mind. Strip flying, producing these photographic surveys, is a trained man’s job, and I should like the work to be entrusted to technical officers of the Defence Department. One that I would recommend is Captain McComb, who, I believe, is attached to the Civil Aviation Branch. I know that he has delivered interesting lectures and written technical articles on the subject. In his second-reading speech the Assistant Treasurer said -
The proposals are in consonance with the announced policy of the Commonwealth Government for the development of the northern part of the continent, and represent an important step forward in that regard.
I sincerely hope that he realizes what that means. To me his statement is significant in its relation to the development of the Northern ‘ Territory. All development has been preceded by mining operations. The mining resources of the Northern Territory should be thoroughly investigated; but after a certain amount of work has been done in that, direction the development of the sub-tropical and tropical regions of this great area should also be undertaken on sound, and not fantastic, lines by methods of peaceful penetration from the north and the south. From what I have heard in this chamber during the last three days it appears to me that Northern Australia is looked upon almost as a foreign land. We have heard of nothing but wheat, wheat, wheat; and the idee seems to be firmly fixed in the minda of honorable members that the southern parts of Australia are really the only parts of it that count. I trust that the problems and possibilities of Northern Australia will be considered with sanity and sympathy, and that we shall, by a measure of economic nationalism for our tropical regions develop the pastoral, agricultural and mineral resources of this huge area, so that, before very long, a new light, another star, will burst in the firmament of Commonwealth activities, the star of the Northern Territory.
– I congratulate the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) upon the practical contribution he has made to this debate, and the useful proposals he has made for the development of the northern part of Australia. I am glad that this geophysical survey is to be undertaken by the Commonwealth Government and the Governments of Queensland and Western Australia, for it should result in the performance of valuable exploratory work. Such early results as some people expect may not be achieved, but work of this description, if properly done in Northern Australia, will have a most beneficial influence subsequently on similar necessary work in other parts of the Commonwealth. Although no specific statement has been made on the point, I assume that the geophysical survey will be followed by a topographical survey, and that afterwards geologists will be called in to probe the mineral bearing areas delineated by these surveys. These three activities, if properly co-ordinated, should result in the collection of a great deal of valuable information regarding auriferous country generally that could subsequently be used in Southern Australia. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) read extracts from the excellent article published recently by Dr. Rivett regarding the possibilities of further gold discoveries in Australia. Gold is one of the few commodities, if not the only one, for which there is a ready market in any part of the world. It is easy to transport and is not subject to corruption during storage. . If we could discover new goldfields or develop existing fields, it would be immensely advantageous to .the Commonwealth. I hope that the Government will adopt the suggestion of the honorable member for the Northern Territory that air photography should be employed in this survey work. The Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has had some experience of air photography, and in case his memory should be a little at fault, I assure him that a number of pilots associated with the Royal Australian Air Force are fully qualified air photographers- I suggest that these pilot3 should be loaned to assist in this really national undertaking of geophysical survey, for they could do work of inestimable value to the whole of the Commonwealth and obtain aerial photographs that could be used as the foundation for topographical surveys. I trust also that the experimentation in geophysical survey work will be speeded up in order that we may apply the system to the advantage of Southern Australia. [ venture to say that more gold remains in the Golden Mile than has so far been taken out. There is also probably more gold in various parts of the divisions of Bendigo, Ballarat and Corangamite than has yet been obtained from there. At present this gold is beyond the sight of the mining prospectors. The adoption of geophysical survey methods may, however, lead to the location of ore bodies, so that positively valuable prospecting work may in the future displace the speculative stabbing of the country that has been done in past years. If this method of locating ore bodies is successful many unemployed people could be put to work to prove the value of the fields. I heartily commend the measure to the favorable consideration of other honorable members, and trust that the geophysical survey about to be undertaken in Northern Australia will be so successful that similar surveys will be made in suitable areas elsewhere in, the Commonwealth.
.- [ shall offer no opposition to the passage of this bill. I hope that the geophysical survey and the other work about to be undertaken will reveal the existence of new mineral bodies not only in the interior of the Commonwealth, but in other parts of it as well. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) read us some interesting extracts from an article recently published by Dr. Rivett. Perhaps that gentleman allowed his imagination to run riot occasionally while he was writing the article, but we all hope that his expectations will be at least partly realized. He said that if large discoveries of gold were made, it would be possible to use the proceeds to pay off our external indebtedness. Nothing in this bill suggests that the Government ha3 that in mind. It seems to me that the Government is prepared to risk the lives of the people who will travel by aeroplane to make this survey, and also the loss of the money that will be needed to finance the undertaking; but if valuable discoveries are made, it intends to allow big private companies to be formed to exploit the minerals. That will mean that our national indebtedness may be transferred from external to internal capitalists, in which case it will be a case of tweedle-dum tweedle-dee to the great mass of the people. An amount of £50,000 is to be spent by the Commonwealth Government and the governments of Western Australia and Queensland in this work; and apparently if reasonable prospects are revealed, the unemployed men of Australia are to be sent into remote areas to prove the real value of the ore bodies that are located. A good many people seem to regard gold as a god, before which they must bow down and worship. That to me is a heathen superstition. But I shall not dwell upon that point. I am concerned, however, lest areas of country in which valuable ore bodies are shown to exist, should be handed over to big bushranging companies to develop. In the past, such speculative organizations have frequently done more injury than good to the mining industry. I hope that in the case of these surveys the interests of the general public will be safeguarded. If such great mineral wealth exists in Northern Australia aB the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) has suggested, it should be exploited for the nation’s benefit. The deposits should not become the property of a few individuals to give them the opportunity to make fortunes at the expense of the working men who will be expected doubtless to bear all the hardships associated with the necessary developmental operations. In the past, rich mineral fields have resulted in the growth of mushroom towns; but as soon as the eyes have been picked out of the various lodes, the towns have been deserted, or else capital has been withdrawn from thom, and the unfortunate residents who have been unable to get away have been left there to wrest a very meagre living from the abandoned mines. I nope that as the Government will be spending money with the object of discovering new mining fields it will also take care to ensure that the national exchequer will receive its fair share of the wealth that is discovered. Too often the public purse is dipped into in order to develop pioneer business enterprises, such as paper pulp making and the like; but immediately success is achieved the benefits are diverted from the general public to private individuals. As the nation will take the risk of financial loss in connexion with this particular enterprise, it should also be guaranteed a proper percentage of any rewards that are obtained.
– I wish to see work provided for the people who are unemployed.
– So do I; but I also wish to see such an improvement in our whole social system as will make unemployment impossible in the future. I hope that the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) will give us an assurance that the interests of the nation will be safeguarded and that the unemployed people who go into the interior and suffer hardships in order to develop any mining fields that may be discovered will be adequately recompensed as areas are brought into profitable production.
.- I agree with the honorable member for Northern Territory (Mr. Blain), that, in the surveys proposed to be carried out, we should make use of the services of the old prospectors - such men as those who in the early ‘nineties travelled all over Australia searching for precious metals. Having done quite a considerable amount of prospecting, I know the hardships they had to undergo. As a boy I worked on the mining fields, with 80-lb. packs on their backs, these men tramped through the hush in search of likely mineral country, gaining a great deal of experience that would be of great value to the younger generation. In the southern portions of Australia there is still a great deal of country to be explored. For instance, in Tasmania, often referred to as the “ speck “, there are thousands of miles of virgin country. Only a few years ago, a vessel hound from Britain to Tasmania was wrecked on the Tasmanian coast, and the sole survivor was not found for over five months. A few survivors from another wreck wandered through the bush, and the majority of them perished before they reached civilization. That gives some idea of the isolation of portions of the State. The mountainous regions of Tasmania contain mineral wealth awaiting development, if prospectors could only get the necessary finance to prospect at the right depth. A survey of the kind suggested by the bill would demonstrate the practicability of profitable mining in this region. It is wrong for the Government to allow people to float companies that have no possible hope of making a profit. The salting of mines should be prohibited. As a lad I was sent from one mine to another to get a prospect, which was subsequently exhibited by the mine which employed me, and resulted’ in sending up the value of the shares of the company. The southern parts of Tasmania are mountainous and heavily wooded ; but there are calm waterways., where aeroplanes could land. Gold, copper, tin, and osmiridium have been found in fairly large quantities. The Commonwealth Government, in addition to interesting itself in the tropical portions of Australia, could also with advantage pay attention to the possibilities of Tasmania. In the Northern Territory there are vast areas of agricultural and mineral lands, and the Government is doing the right thing in proposing to spend this money with a view to examining the possibilities of their development. By mining development a large number of men now on the dole could be employed.
– And profitably employed.
– Quite so. I have heard it said in this House on many occasions that there are thousands of men who can never again be profitably employed. The truth is that there are not sufficient people in this vast continent to exploit its possibilities. Large numbers of men could be employed on profitable reproductive works if we only went about it in the right way. For instance, I agree with the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. E. F. Harrison) that many tons of gold will still be won from Bendigo mines. But men must be properly equipped for work in mines. Men should not be employed who are not experienced. That is why I agree with the remarks of the honorable member for the Northern Territory. However, I trust that the Government will go ahead with its policy, and that it will not confine it to the Northern Territory. [Quorum formed.]
.- This bill seems to be one of the few introduced during this session that is receiving the universal support of honorable members. I hope the Government will avail itself of the very special and technical information possessed by the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain), who undoubtedly could supplement the very valuable information he has already given to the House. I also hope that the Government will accept the suggestion made by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. E. F. Harrison) that the survey should be carried out by the Royal Australian Air Force. The Department of Defence would, I am sure, be only too glad to make the necessary machines and men available. These men are trained in this particular kind of work, and the technical experience that they would gain would be of great value to the officers themselves. I hope that benefits will accrue from the geophysical survey, and that the Government will see that any that are derived will be passed on quickly, so that other parts of the Commonwealth may benefit. I agree with the honorable members for Bendigo and Franklin (Mr. Frost) who have said that in Ballarat, Bendigo, and the northern portion of Corangamite, as much gold as ever came out still remains, and I hope an opportunity will be given to develop those areas. I support the bill.
.- The bill is one that no doubt has possibilities of bringing about good results to the whole of the people of Australia. No industry can entice population and establish a township better than can the raining industry. In the early day3 of the Victorian gold discovery, people arrived from overseas at the rate of 40,000 per annum. Gold has done a lot for the initial development of Australia. During the crises through which this country has passed, gold has many times come to its. aid. Governments have done little for the industry in return. Many companies have operated gold-mines until it has become impossible to produce at a profit because of the great depth of the lodes. In spite of the fact that the price of every other commodity increased, gold was the only commodity that remained at its pre-war price until 1921. “While the cost of all other commodities increased, the price of gold did not change. The cost of mining operations increased, and as a result many formerly employed in the industry were forced to leave if and seek employment elsewhere The men who were responsible for the discovery of the gold-fields in this country were not equipped with modern methods of transport, but took their camel3 into the outback or their packhorses into Northern Queensland. Some covered the country on foot. If they located a field, it soon became necessary for them to get capital to develop their shows, and very often they got little return for their labour. The discoverer of the Kidston gold-field did well enough for the first two or three months, and at one time there were between 2,000 and 3,000 men working on the field. Then the discoverer’s claim cut out, but, with the well-known optimism of the prospector, he kept on going down in the hope of striking gold again. Eventually he had to leave the field and go prospecting elsewhere. The field is still being worked, and for a long time the miners were using an obsolete battery which recovered only about 80 per cent, of the gold. The stone is yielding between eight and ten pennyweights, .but now most of the miners have handed over their claims to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, which proposes to install uptodate machinery. Before that the miners tried to induce the Government to install proper plant, and offered a royalty on all the gold won until the debt was paid ; but no assistance was forthcoming. I have found that miners and prospectors do not look upon the Government as a source from which they can obtain assistance for nothing. When a miner makes a strike he is always ready, after settling with his storekeeper, to pay back what he owes the Government. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) will bear me out that, at one time, there were over 300 men on the Tennant’s Creek field, but no attempt was made by the Government to provide water or communications. These “ desert rats “, as the honorable member for the Northern Territory would describe them, ask not for telephones or mail services, but for a grant to enable them to obtain necessary machinery. When I was a member of the Queensland Parliament, there was always the greatest difficulty in getting a government geologist to go out and look at a field unless it was near a railway, or could be reached by a mail coach.
A geophysical survey may result in locating new fields in the Northern Territory, but the recent aerial survey carried out north of the 20th parallel resulted in little more than the rediscovery of such fields as Ravenswood, Charters Towers and Croydon, which had been worked years ago. What is really needed at Croydon is, not an aerial survey, but a diamond drilling plant with which to test the lode in various parts of the field. No assistance is forthcoming from the Government, however, and if a prospector wants capital he must go to the Pittstreet miners in Sydney, or the Queenstreet miners in Brisbane, and place his proposition before them ; and by the time they have made their bargain there is likely to be very little left for him. A man who is down on his luck, and who seeks government assistance in order to go prospecting, may receive £1 a week for two months, and that is all he can get.
As a matter of fact, even if he were given the £8 all at one time, it would probably not be sufficient to provide him with food and fracture for a month. No matter what may be disclosed by an aerial survey, eventually the field will have to be developed by the miner. Since 1850, gold to the value of £640,424,230 has been won in Australia, and yet it was not until 1915, and then only after a bitter fight, that legislation was enacted by the Queensland Parliament providing for the payment of an allowance to men suffering from miners’ phthisis. In the other States similar legislation was not passed until some time later. The mining industry has taken great toll of the men engaged in it. Miners’ complaint does not leave a man very long to live once he has been touched with the dust.
This bill provides for the expenditure of £75,000 of Commonwealth money on the carrying out of a geophysical survey, and the States of Western Australia and Queensland are each to contribute £37,500. I hope that any propositions which are opened up as a result of the survey will not be allowed to get into the hands of the big capitalists, and that the Government will advance money to the miners to enable them to work the shows themselves, provision being made for the payment of a royalty on gold won in order to recoup the Government for ‘its outlay. I do not know how this money is to be allocated as between the various States, but there are some wellknown fields, such as Kidston and Croydon, that would be worth exploiting. Up-to-date plant should be installed and roads built, and if this were done thousands of men could be provided with employment. The old fields were being worked when -gold was worth only £4 an ounce, but when working costs rose during the war some of them, such as the Ethridge and Charters Towers fields, had to be abandoned because it was costing more to win the gold than it was worth. The development of the Western Australian fields was first made possible by portable batteries, but later, with the introduction of modern machinery, it was possible to make 5-dwt. shows pay. In South Africa, I believe, they are working 24-dwt. shows. The old Palmer gold-field is another which might be brought back into production if roads were provided, and proper machinery installed. I ask the Government to provide an up-to-date treatment plant somewhere in Northern Queensland, to provide communication, and then let the miners do the rest.
– I think that all honorable members must have been interested to listen to the useful contribution made to this debate by the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain). Several honorable members have referred to the fact that the Government proposes to call for tenders for the aerial photographic part of the survey. I was myself at first attracted by the idea of having this part of the work done by the Air Force. The Government, however, has sought advice from all responsible quarters on this subject, and has had a lot of evidence taken from people who sponsored the use of the Air Force and those who sponsored a resort to private enterprise. Although I personally started by thinking we should use the Air Force for this work, when I saw this evidence I rapidly became converted to the idea that it would be cheaper and better generally speaking - and I say that without any desire to reflect on the Air Force - to resort to private enterprise. Let me give the reason for this. If we take the full cost of the use of the Air Force machines and not merely the cost of petrol and oil, as compared with the cost of employing private enterprise in this work, we find that the latter would be considerably cheaper. Then again this has become a very highly specialized job for which the normal Air Force machine is not at all suitable. The most suitable is a two engine machine. It is necessary to fly these machines on a dead even keel over many miles of country and a particular type has been developed for this work which is considerably different from the normal machine. Then there is the technical training of pilots as expert photographers for this sort of work which is different from the ordinary photographic work done by the Air Force. We have also to consider the deflection of the officers, men and machines from their normal training duties. There would be a definite interference with training. The combination of all these factors has led the Government to come down very distinctly on the side of private enterprise. We propose, to invite tenders, but even so, if the tenders received are not at the rate we expect, then I say definitely we have the Air Force in the background, and will be prepared to use it.
As to the remarks made by the honorable member for the Northern Territory, I think he will find from a measure that I hope to bring down later this evening, that his hopes with regard to encouraging prospecting in the Northern Territory will be fully realized. It might interest him to learn that even during the first twelve months of the air survey quite a lot of time will be spent in the vicinity of Pine Creek. Something like 600 square miles to the north and north-east of that area will first be surveyed. Then again east of the Macdonnell ranges there is an area of 400 square miles which it is hoped will be dealt with in the first twelve months: Geologists have flown over those areas and have selected them among others for an early survey.
I shall certainly refer to the Minister for Development (Senator McLachlan), for his serious consideration, the two points raised by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. E. F. Harrison). The honorable member suggested that the Government should take note of the technical experience gained in respect of geophysical methods in the Northern Territory with the idea of applying that experience to other areas and to that which is of immediate interest to him. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) has referred to certain areas in Queensland. He will be interested to learn that among the areas in Northern Queensland that will be dealt with in the first year are the Cloncurry, the Palmer River and the Mount Oxide areas.
I think the bill has interested the House and I hope that there will not be any major lines of dissent from the Government’s proposal.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate. [Quorum formed.]
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a short bill to amend the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act in two respects. The first amendment, which will be found in” substance in clause 2, deals with a point that has arisen on section 44 of the act. That section enables proceedings in relation to breaches of awards to be brought before courts of petty sessions constituted in a certain way. As the act now stands, the provision is that a penalty may be imposed by the Arbitration Court or by any district, county, or local court, or court of summary jurisdiction which is constitutedby a judge or a police, stipendiary or special magistrate, or by any State court specified in that behalf by proclamation. Pursuant to that provision, a proclamation was made specifying the chief industrial magistrate of New SouthWales as a court within the meaning of section 44 for the purpose therein dealt with. But, as the outcome of certain proceedings subsequently before the Industrial Commissioner of New South Wales, very grave doubts have arisen as to whether that proclamation is valid. It is highly desirable, as honorable members will agree, that some uniformity, if possible, should be introduced into proceedings of this kind. Much more satisfaction is obtained, particularly by organizations, if they have their proceedings dealt with by special industrial magistrates rather than by one of the ordinary industrial courts. Consequently, in order to produce the result which was indirectly aimed at by the original act, the amendment that I am suggesting will insert these words, “an industrial magistrate appointed under any State act, who is also a police, stipendiary or special magistrate.” The passing of that amendment will mean that cases that are now going into the ordinary police courts will have a tendency to be heard before one magistrate, and there will be a good deal more uniformity and certainty.
The second amendment that the bill sets out to make is in clause 3. It deals with section 50a of the principal act, in which power is taken to appoint inspectors for policing awards made by the court. Section 50a, sub-section 1, provides -
Inspectors may, subject to this section, be appointed in accordance with the Commonwealth Public Service Act … for the purpose of securing the observance of this act and of awards and orders made under this act.
The Government recently indicated its intention to appoint an inspector for the first time since this power was taken in 1928. That decision having been made, honorable members on both sides will agree that it is desirable that the widest area of choice should be open to the Government in order that some one of very definite industrial experience and knowledge may be appointed. If that be so, it is undesirable that the appointment should be restricted, as it would be, under the terms of the act as it stands, to those who are already within the Public Service. In order to make the necessary provision, clause 3 amends section 50a, sub-section 1, by omitting the words “ in accordance with the Commonwealth Public Service Act”, and inserting later the words “not to be subject to the Commonwealth Public Service Act, but shallbe appointed upon such terms and conditions as are prescribed “. The intention is in the first instance to make an appointment for a limited period. Of course, it is realized that it will be of an experimental kind. The Government definitely believes that it has a responsibility in relation to the enforcement of awards, particularly in the case of some awards in respect to industries that are not in themselves highly organized from an industrial point of view.
– Will he not become a member of the Public Service ?
– No. The appointment will he of a temporary character. The inspector will be appointed on such terms and conditions as are prescribed, following the ordinary machinery; but he will not be appointed under the Public Service Act, and will not become a public servant within the meaning of the act, or be entitled to superannuation.
– Persons already in the Service will not be excluded?
– No. This bill leaves it open to the Government to appoint some one, either from within the Service - if a suitable man is available - or from outside the Service, if that is the only way in which to obtain a suitable man.
– If a public servant were appointed, would he have to resign from the Public Service?
– I should imagine so, because if he were holding a position under the Public Service Act he would not be able to hold some non-Public Service position. He would have to resign from the Service whatever consequences might attach to his resignation in relation to superannuation. These, in brief, are the principles of the bill.
– This is a useful measure, and I commend it to the House. The second clause is designed to dispose of a difficulty which has arisen under section 44 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and which has created some trouble in New South “Wales. The position there was that the Chief Industrial Magistrate, by the State law, was constituted a State court for the hearing of proceedings under that section. From the Chief Industrial Magistrate hearing charges under the State Arbitration Act, appeals lie to the Industrial Commission, and it was conceived that the Industrial Commission could also hear appeals from the Chief Industrial Magistrate as a Federal magistrate. That practice was followed for a long time, until, following remarks made in the case of theDunlop Perdriau Company Limited, against the Rubber Workers Union - 46, Commonwealth Law Reports - the Industrial Commission of New South Wales decided that it had no jurisdiction to entertain an appeal in a Federal matter from the Chief Industrial Magistrate. Nevertheless, the person occupying that position could continue to hear proceedings taken under section 44 as a police or stipendiary magistrate of New South Wales. But the cheap and expeditious methods of getting appeals from him settled, by appealing, not to the High Court, but to a. body always dealing with industrial matters, was for the time being lost. I think this clause will have the effect ofenabling the Chief Industrial Magistrate to hear complaints for breaches of Federal as well as State awards, and in every case an appeal will lie from him to the Industrial Commission. As to the second clause of the bill, it is highly desirable that inspectors should be chosen for their knowledge of industry, and should not necessarily have permanent tenure of office.
– Does this proposed alteration of the law meet a request which I made about a fortnight ago to the Secretary to the Attorney-General regarding certain changes required in New South Wales? A week or so ago the organizer of the liquor trades employees visited Canberra, and we discussed with the Minister’s secretary difficulties which have arisen in New South Wales in regard to breaches of awards, and the cases heard by magistrates.
– That matter is covered by the bill.
– I feel sure that labour organizations in Sydney will be pleased to know that, so soon after taking office, the Attorney-General had adjusted this matter to their satisfaction. I desire to know how it is proposed to appoint the industrial inspector. I suppose that applications will be called for in the usual way. Will the matter be determined by the Minister or the Government?
– Presumably by the Government. The only restriction under the bill is that the inspector is to be appointed “upon such terms and conditions as are prescribed.”
-I have pleasure in supporting the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Casey) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of moneys be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to authorize the issue and application of a certain sum of money for the purposes of works and services, and for the grant of financial assistance to the States, and for other purposes.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Casey and Mr. Lyons do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Casey, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
On the 16th November last, a Loan Appropriation Act was passed to provide £5,000,000 for the general purpose of relieving unemployment. This measure seeks the appropriation of a total sum of £1,533,750 to carry out Commonwealth public works, to assist the States to undertake public works, and for the encouragement of the metalliferous mining industry. To recapitulate the amounts allocated by this Parliament for public works and for the relief of unemployment, the budget provided from loan and revenue a total sum of about £4,250,000. Following that there was an additional appropriation from loan of £200,000 for Commonwealth works, and then again there was an appropriation from revenue of £176,000 for public works. The present bill provides further, in addition to all the foregoing, an amount of over £1,500,000 for public works for the relief of unemployment. It is not possible to give the House complete details of the works for which the bill provides. The Government is now, and has for some time been examining numerous proposals which Commonwealth departments have put forward as suitable for this purpose. These are being carefully scrutinized, but the Government is not yet in a position to give details of them, because, owing to their large number and great variety, careful consideration must be given to them before a decision is reached. As these works are approved by the Government, details of them will be supplied to honorable members through the Commonwealth Gazette.
– Over what period will these works be carried out?
– The period varies from a few months to a couple of years. In addition to the amounts to be appropriated for works to be undertaken by Commonwealth Government departments, a further sum of £1,000,000 is to be appropriated under this bill by way of assistance to the States for works additional to those now being carried out within their territories. The GovernorGeneral’s Speech forecast the intention of the Government to assist the States in this way to relieve unemployment, and, in pursuance of this policy, each State government was asked early in November last to supply a schedule of works appropriate for this purpose. Substantial programmes have been received by the Government from nearly all the States, and these are being made the subject of close examination and discussion with the States.
– How many men will be put into employment as the result of these works?
– It is not possible to say that, but it is hoped that a very substantial number of men - more than in the past in proportion to the amounts expended - will be employed by reason of the nature of the proposals put forward.
– Is the money to be lent to the States?
– No ; it will be given by way of grant. The bill provides for the expenditure by the Commonwealth Government of £200,000 out of the amount to be appropriated, on works and services specified from time to time in the Commonwealth Gazette. As it is impossible to state exactly the works to be undertaken, the Government has decided to allot a certain sum of money as a grant to each State individually - the amounts of which appear in the bill - pending an agreement upon the general programme to be carried out. The principle which has been adopted in negotiating with the States in an endeavour to make the Commonwealth grant go further, has been to encourage the State governments, and through them the local governing authorities, to co-operate with the Commonwealth Government in financing these enterprises by making pound for pound and other pro rata contributions. “Works such as water supply and sewerage schemes, particularly in country districts, are the kinds of works that the States are recommending, especially in New South “Wales.
– - Does the grant depend on contributions by the States on a pound for pound basis?
– Not necessarily.
– The programme has not yet been drawn up?
– No works are definitely decided upon yet; but the Government has a large number of attractive-looking proposals from the various States, and they require close consideration before decisions regarding thom are reached. The New South “Wales grant also includes an amount of £63,000, which has been agreed upon as a contribution by the Commonwealth Government towards the construction of an up-to-date highway between Yass and the Federal Capital Territory. This is one of the works that are being undertaken by agreement between the Governments of the Commonwealth and New South “Wales, each Government meeting a proportion of the cost.
– What will it cost?
– The amount of £63,000 is, I think, two-thirds of the total. The Government of New South Wales will meet about one-third of the cost of that portion within its territory, the reason for its not being prepared to meet a greater proportion being that, for its purposes, the existing road meets the requirements of a country road. As the Commonwealth Government, for many reasons, wishes a better highway to be provided, it has arranged to defray two-thirds of the cost. Some of the States have put forward many works that are under active consideration, and entail quite large contributions by either the State or local authorities. In Victoria, it is expected that the principal measure of assistance will be devoted to the restoration of public works destroyed in the recent disastrous floods. It is hoped that that arrangement will be made on a pound for. pound basis with the Victorian Government. The Commonwealth is endeavouring to enter into similar arrangements for contributions by States and other authorities in the States; but as the negotiations are not yet finalized, it is not possible to supply details of the works to which the allocation is to be made. In the expenditure of the amounts that Parliament is being asked to appropriate, it is intended that the largest possible number of men shall be placed in work with the shortest possible delay.
The last portion of the bill deals with the money .that it is proposed to allocate for the encouragement of metalliferous mining. It is considered that the development of metalliferous mining, and in particular gold-mining, in Australia, offers a worth-while field for national activity. With a view to exploring the possibilities, a conference of State Ministers and officials of State Departments of Mines was held lately in Melbourne. It was attended and, I believe, presided over by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Employment (Mr. Stewart). Discussion took place upon every means that would tend towards the more active development of the mining resources of the various States, and every proposal brought forward was actively canvassed and discussed. An arrangement was come to, subject to the approval of the Commonwealth Government - which has since been obtained and is now submitted for the consideration of the House - for the allocation of £353,000 to the States and £50,000 to the Northern Territory for the encouragement of the mining industry. The efforts of the States to develop their mining potentialities have been hampered by a lack of funds, and they generally welcome this ‘proposal for a grant for the encouragement of the mining industry. T.h.e amount provided by the Commonwealth y/ill “be directed generally towards increasing the geological and technical staffs of the States, .giving assistance to prospectors, and the provision of batteries and similar treatment plant in areas where they do npt now exist. Advances will also be made to individuals and small organizations that are searching for gold and other minerals. Except in one particular, the Commonwealth has accepted the proposals of the conference. It was proposed that an amount of £138,500 should be made available by the Commonwealth for advances through the State governments. The Commonwealth has now decided to make the advance under this heading on a pound for pound basis, the Commonwealth and the States each providing £69,250.
– Does that £138,500 come out of the total of £353,000?
– No; the total is £403,000. It is proposed to affix one condition to .the provision of this assistance; that is, that a trust shall be set up in each State to administer federal aid, the Commonwealth to have adequate representation upon it. It is hoped that, as a result of this co-operative action. there rani be possibilities of a considerable mining revival, and that the gold production of Australia may be appreciably increased.
I have mentioned an amount of £5Q,00Q in connexion with the Northern Territory. A substantial portion of this will be spent in the encouragement .of prospecting and the provision of facilities such as water supply, tracks, and treatment plants in areas where they .do not now exist and will be appreciated.
To the States for rnining assistance generally there will be available the sum of £283,750, and to the Northern Territory the gum pf £60,000, making a total of £333,500, including possible grants on a pound for pound basis for advances to individuals and small organizations.
In conclusion, and to sum up, I would repeat that the bill provides for a total appropriation of £1,533,750, of which £200.000 is for federal public works. The sum of £1; 000,080 is to be .distributed in flip States towards the encouragement .pf public works in conjunction with the State and local authorities, .and the amount of £337,500 is sought to be provided for the encouragement of metalliferous mini ug.
.- A month ago the Government brought down a loan bill of £5,000,000. We asked to be given particulars of proposed works, and were informed that a schedule could not be supplied as there had not been time for its preparation. Although the House was not altogether satisfied with that explanation, the bill was allowed to go through without very much discussion, because it was realized that a great deal of time had not elapsed since the re-shuffle in the Cabinet. But surely when a portion of that £5,000,000 is to be appropriated we ought to be given at least some indication of the class of work upon which it is to be expended ! We were told that a schedule of works would be placed before us. We are waiting for it. This bill merely shows the amounts that are to be allocated among the States.
– There is a schedule.
– Where is it?
– I expect that it is in the respective States.
– The honorable member should know that this is a responsible Parliament, which is being asked to vote the money for these works. We should be told how that money is to be expended. Even though the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has not the last word ticked off on the list presented to the Government, it should not be difficult for him to take us a little into his confidence and to specify the works that are being considered.
– I have said that the two principal States are New South Wales and Victoria.
– The honorable gentleman has said that £63,000 is to be spent on a road from Yass to the Federal Capital Territory,
– There are also water supply and country sewerage works.
– This is a slipshod method of Government.
– I have before me two proposals brought forward by the right honorable gentleman. In 1931 it was proposed to appropriate £250,000 for works “ to be prescribed
– In the rush that occurred with legislation that was being introduced before Christmas, my Government brought down a proposal for the appropriation of £250,000, and indicated that it was to be expended on public buildings. We certainly said that the works were to be prescribed; but we took the Parliament into our confidence by saying that those works consisted of the renovation, painting and repair of Federal public buildings.
– Then there is another amount of £1,000,000.
– That was a direct grant to the States, and it was not necessary to bring down a schedule of works. We definitely and frankly said that we wouldhand that amount over to the States. This Government has acted similarly in the past, and there has been no quibbling about the practice. But it now says that it is going to undertake certain works in co-operation with the States. A loan bill, covering an amount of £5,000,000, was passed on the understanding that before the money was appropriated a schedule of works would be placed before us. Here it is proposed to appropriate £1,500,000, and we have not the slightest indication of where the work is to be carried out nor of its class. I do not think that that is responsible government; nor is it proper treatment of this Parliament.
– I follow the point that has been raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin). After all, we are principally concerned with the nature of the works as well as the conditions under which they are to be carried out. Those of us who represent electorates in New South Wales are well acquainted with the conditions that operate on many of the relief works in that State; consequently we feel disposed to prevent the passage of these bills until we are told exactly the manner in which the distribution of the money is to be made. The representatives of other States can speak for themselves, according to their knowledge of the methods adopted by their State govern- meats. We are as much concerned in regard to this measure as we were in regard to that which was introduced some weeks ago. We then pressed the Minister for information as to the class of work that was to be undertaken, and eventually were told that it was to be carried out under the direction of the Commonwealth Works Department. The Government ought to be in a position to inform us as to where sewerage works are to be undertaken, whether in the metropolitan area or in country towns.
– Does it matter very much ?
– It matters a great deal because, pending an election, the distribution may be so made as to suit the political ends of the Government in power.
– Sewerage is to be installed in Maitland, a town in the electorate of one of your own men.
– How do we know that that is so? Apparently this matter has been discussed, and information has been supplied, in the caucus room. Is that fair to other honorable members?
– The announcement was made in the press the other day.
– I do not accept all that I read in the press.
– The honorable member for New England cannot have the information which the honorable member for West Sydney suspects that he possesses.
– He speaks with some assurance on the matter. How does the honorable member for New England know that special work is to be done in the Maitland district?
– Who represents that district in the State Parliament?
– That bears out my contention that political influences are being exercised. At the last election in New South Wales a supporter of the present State Government just won the Maitland seat, but unless some special circumstances emerge he will not retain it; so evidently this Government is working in collaboration with the State Government to safeguard that situation. If knowledge of the kind possessed by the honorable member for New England is available to Government supporters, it should by now be available to every honorable member of the House.
– Party political considerations have not entered into this matter in any way whatever.
– Does the honorable member for West Sydney read the Sydney Morning Herald?
– It should not be necessary for honorable members to read newspapers to obtain information on these points. We are not disposed to agree to a policy which will permit the Government of New South Wales to determine where this money shall be spent, for that is our privilege. If sewerage works are to be undertaken many congested areas in Sydney should be taken into consideration in this regard.
– That work is being done now; I have seen the men on the job.
– The honorable member for Barton also appears to possess information that is not available to us. If back benchers on the Government side of the chamber can be given information it can also be given to Opposition members. It is surely not too much to ask that detailed information should be provided regarding the expenditure of such a large sum of money. The Government must have some idea of the localities where this money will be spent; otherwise it is deserving of severe criticism. Preliminary investigation must or should always be made before proposals for expenditure are submitted to Parliament. A conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers was held in Canberra quite recently at which we were told extensive programmes of public works were discussed.
– That conference was concerned with rural rehabilitation.
– Were no programmes of proposed public works submitted to it for consideration?
– Some were; but scores of other proposals have been submitted to us since then. The particular works to be undertaken will be determined after consultations between Commonwealth and State Ministers.
– Does the Assistant Treasurer say that scores of proposed public works have since been brought under the notice of the Commonwealth authorities by the Government of New South Wales.
– Very many schemes have been brought under our consideration.
– That makes it all the more apparent that additional information could be supplied to us. We are entitled to know, for instance, whether the money will be devoted to sewerage, electricity, or water works.
– The destination of the money will be determined after consultations between the Commonwealth and State Governments and local governing authorities.
– Does that mean that municipal councils may be consulted?
– Local government proposals will certainly be considered.
– In that case honorable members who represent large electorates like that of Darling should be given an opportunity to make proposals to the Government to ensure that country workers will receive some consideration. Unless honorable members are consulted, or at least given an opportunity to criticize definite proposals in this House, a grave injustice will be done to them. We are not prepared to allow the Government of New South Wales to usurp the rights of honorable members of this chamber.
– The government with which the honorable member was connected would not make any money available for public works for a considerable time after it assumed office.
– The honorable member for Barton was not a member of this Parliament at that time, and he speaks out of a wealth of ignorance. The Commonwealth was passing through an extremely difficult crisis at that time, and outside interests which support the honorable member’s party did their utmost to hinder the government of the day from giving effect to its policy; but, nevertheless, I personally had the opportunity to distribute nearly £1,000,000 for public works through the Commonwealth Works Department and various municipal councils; and honorable members of this Parliament were fully informed of the destination of the money. 1 request the Assistant Treasurer or some other responsible member of the Government to make a definite statement as to whether award rates and conditions are to be observed in connexion with all works undertaken with this money. At present the Government of New South Wales, under the authority of a certain measure that was passed by the State Parliament, is obliging people to work under so-called relief conditons that are a disgrace to civilization. Will that government be able to use this money to continue such degrading practices? Skilled tradesmen are to-day being employed in New South Wales at wages far below those fixed by various industrial tribunals.
We have been informed that a trust is to be set up on which the Commonwealth Government will be. adequately represented.
– That is only in respect of the appropriation for mining purposes.
– .The Assistant Treasurer did not make that point clear to us. I was under the impression that the trust would exercise a general supervision. We have ground for bitter complaint, because after waiting so long for a detailed schedule of public works, we shall have to leave Canberra tomorrow without specific information. I can see now why the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) and other honorable gentlemen on this side of the chamber were so anxious a week or two ago to question the Parliamentary UnderSecretary for Employment (Mr. Stewart) in tho House on the details of the works that were under consideration to provide employment. I have no doubt that if such questions had been permitted, the honorable gentlemen would have given us much more information than we have obtained from the Assistant Treasurer, and would have answered our questions sympathetically and as fully as possible. I regret that he is not in charge of this bill. Once again we feel entitled to criticize the Government for not carrying out its promise to place a Minister in full charge of its employment programme, so that the questions of honorable members could have been answered fully and frankly, as I am sure they would be answered by the honorable member for Parramatta if he enjoyed full Cabinet rank. That honorable gentleman has received deputations of the unemployed in Sydney, and has dealt as straightforwardly as possible with the representations that were made to him ; but, of course, his invidious position prevented him from making authoritative statements. I trust that other honorable members will do their best to oblige the Government to reveal its true intentions in regard to the allocation of this money.
– The general principles which the Government will observe in the distribution of this money have been so lucidly explained that there is no reason for me to speak except to explain why fuller information has not been provided for honorable members. The Government had hoped to be in a position by now to make a comprehensive statement on the subject; but, unfortunately, its hopes have not been realized. I understand that I have been criticized during the last week or two for my frequent absences from the sittings of the House, but I assure honorable members that my time has been fully occupied in making a close and analytical examination of the many proposed public works that have been placed before the Government for consideration. It is not yet two months since this Parliament assembled, but as the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has already said, largo sums of money have already been appropriated for the relief of unemployment. By this bill the Government proposes to make another £1,500,000 available, and this within three months of the holding of the election. Projects of this kind generally precede rather than follow an election. While the Government would prefer to be” able to place on the table a complete schedule of works for which it could ask Parliament to appropriate the money, the responsibility for the non-production of the schedule is entirely mine as I shall explain. .1 was pleased to hear, at second hand in most cases, of the very flattering things that were said in this Blouse concerning myself last week, and I hope in the discussion of this measure it will not he said that the opinions expressed last week were not justified on the ground that the idol has feet of clay. I can assure honorable members, however, that every attempt has been made to secure the information they desire. On the 2nd November a circular was distributed to each of the State Premiers asking him to submit a list of public works which might be considered to bo appropriate for federal assistance within the terms of the Prime Minister’s policy speech and the Speech of the GovernorGeneral. The State Governments do not keep on their files lists of this kind. As a matter of fact, it is unusual, for them to receive such requests. It was therefore not expected that they would be able to submit conclusive programmes within a week or two ; but with a view to preparing a schedule for submission to this House the Commonwealth Government after the lapse of a couple of weeks sent a reminder to the States. It asked them not to delay the preparation of their programmes until they had a complete schedule, ‘but to select two or three outstanding proposals for submission so that they could be submitted in this House ‘before it adjourned for the Christmas recess. It was desired that an advance programme be prepared which could be acted upon during the parliamentary recess. That reminder elicited a number of proposals. Advantage was taken of the presence in Canberra of a number of State Ministers in connexion with the rural rehabilitation scheme to discuss various proposals with them. Up to last week, however, only the States of Queensland and. New South Wales had submitted anything like complete proposals. But proposals which from the view-point of the States may be complete, do not necessarily embrace works acceptable to the Commonwealth. For instance, the New South Wales Government submitted a schedule of works aggregating in value something in the vicinity of £10,000,000. It was not suggested that the Federal Government should find that amount of money. Indeed, I ought to say as a tribute to the
States, that, for the most part, their requests have been very modest. Although the projects of New South Wales are nearer completion than are those of any other State, obviously it would be impossible for the Commonwealth Government within a day or two, to select from the schedule presented works which would be satisfactory to the Commonwealth and the States, and to place on the table of the House anything that purported to be a complete schedule of works for each State. For the information of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) I may say that among the works submitted by the New South Wales Government were quite a number of proposals for the installation of sewerage systems and water supplies in country towns, works of the type which were a special feature of the policy speech and the Governor-General’s Speech. Such works have an added attraction at ‘ the present moment, inasmuch as they involve very appreciable contributions by local authorities which will be supplemented by the Commonwealth and State Governments. Indeed, I am hoping as a result of the contributions of local and State authorities that the amount of money provided by the Commonwealth in this schedule of work in New South Wales will be increased fouror fivefold.
– What local authorities ?
– lt is quite impossible to supply specific and detailed particulars, because up to the moment the Government has not been able to finalize discussions with the Government of New South Wales. The proposals submitted by that Government, however, definitely specify amounts to be expended by local authorities or quasi-government authorities. The submission from Nev/ South Wales tells us definitely the amount which those local authorities are capable of carrying without imposing an unconscionable burden on the ratepayers. The overburden of capitalization is proposed to be borne by the State and the Commonwealth.
– If local authorities wish to submit schemes to the Commonwealth, what means have they of doing so?
– They can submit schemes through the State Government. Surely the honorable member would not suggest that the Commonwealth Government should go into New South Wales and ascertain direct from the local authorities what works they wish to put in hand. I assure honorable members that this programme has been brought forward to ensure that some work will be provided during the parliamentary recess, and that this is not the last word in tho matter of co-operation between the Commonwealth and tho States. Action along the lines suggested by the honorable member for West Sydney will be taken at a later date.
– What about working conditions and wages?
– That is a point still to be decided. I do not think that I ask too much in requesting the House to believe that in the short time since Parliament has re-assembled the Government has not had time to finalize a specific programme. The Parliament might have been allowed to go into recess without this bill being brought forward, on the plea that the States had delayed in submitting proposals ; and the matter would have remained there until Parliament reassembled. But the Government preferred to bring into immediate effect what it regarded as an incomplete schedule rather than let the whole matter stand over until the Parliament reassembled in the new year.
– Is the Queensland scheme as complete as that of New South Wales?
– It is complete, but the works are not of the type which appeals to the Commonwealth Government. One of the principal objectives at which wc have aimed is to ensure that the Commonwealth contribution will be devoted to work which might not otherwise be carried out. The proposals of the Queensland Government do not conform o that. They are principally works already approved and for which the necessary finance has been made available. However, I am still negotiating with Queensland. Although I have no complete schedules from all the States, I have had personal conferences with the representatives of some of the States.
– What about Tasmania?
– I have not yet received from Tasmania anything that could purport to be a schedule.
– Could any of the works applied for by that State be brought into the scheme?
– The proposal of the Tasmanian Government for the southern district water supply was discussed by myself and Mr. Cosgrove during his stay in Canberra a week ago, but it has since been withdrawn at the telegraphed request of the Premier of Tasmania.
The Commonwealth Government has not brought down a proposal of this kind willingly. It had the alternative of asking the House to vote this money pending a settlement of the State programmes, or of doing nothing during the coming recess. In the interests of the unemployed it preferred to ask Parliament to vote this money so that .immediately finality is reached with the States we shall be able to proceed without tho necessity of waiting for Parliament to meet.
.- Members of the Opposition are not unmindful of the onerous nature of the duties to be performed by tho Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Employment (Mr. Stewart) ; we believe that he is conscientiously applying himself to the duties entrusted to him. Of all members on the Government side none could fill this position more satisfactorily than the honorable member’ for Parramatta, and I am sure that his efforts are greatly appreciated by all members of this House and the unemployed throughout Australia. But if he thinks that we are asking for more information than we are entitled to, let me remind him that we are merely asking for what we have been already promised. When the Loan Bill was before the House more than a month ago we were told that a schedule of works would be submitted before the House went into recess for Christmas. Surely the Under-Secretary must have some idea of what works are to be done; otherwise how could any allocation of money be made ?
– We have arranged for the distribution of £1,000,000 without reference to any specific programme of works. For instance, no recommendations have been received from Tasmania, but a sum of money has been allocated to that State.
– I still feel that we should have more information placed before us.
– I only wish that I could give it.
– The Under-Secretary should at least give an assurance that the money will be devoted to employing men at award rates, and under award conditions. A definite assurance to that effect should be given.
While there may be some excuse for not having a programme of State works ready to submit to Parliament, there is no reason why a schedule of Commonwealth works should not have been prepared. I am most anxious to know what works are to be undertaken in South Australia, but no indication has been given as to whether the money is to be spent at Port Augusta, at Mr Gambier, or in the city of Adelaide. The Government has exhibited a tendency to take too much upon itself in this matter, thus depriving honorable members of their right to express their opinions regarding the works which will be undertaken.
.-I congratulate the Government on bringing down this Appropriation Bill before the House rises for Christmas. Members of all parties, and particularly members of the Opposition, have made it abundantly clear that, in their opinion, whatever money the Commonwealth makes available for the relief of unemployment should be expended by the State authorities. With that principle I heartily agree. I realize, however, that this arrangement makes it more difficult for a detailed programme of works to be speedily prepared, so that the Government may be forgiven for not having such a schedule ready for us.
I am glad that some of the money is to be devoted to assisting the gold-mining industry. I have already advocated in this House that action should be taken in this direction, and I am pleased that the Government has taken up the proposal so quickly. The Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) said that the money was to be spent on sustenance grants, on geophysical surveys, on rendering technical assistance, and on the provision of batteries. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) pointed out that loans to prospectors were almost invariably repaid, a fact which should make the Government more disposed to render these men assistance. He also said that in Queensland and other States it was very difficult to induce governments to make grants to prospectors, so that I am all the more pleased that the Commonwealth Government is doing the right thing on this occasion. I have read in the Melbourne press considerable criticism on the Government’s proposal to aid gold-mining, but I cannot agree with it. There are two types of industry which necessitate assistance from the Government. The first, which embraces the wheat industry, is in such a serious condition that it must have assistance to carry on. The second, mining, is of such importance and value, that even if it produces at a profit, it should be further encouraged, for it is practically the only industry that is able to bring new wealth into Australia at the present time. Therefore, anything that the Government does to assist the gold-mining industry deserves the support of all members of this House. For that reason the bill should be given a speedy and sympathetic passage.
.- I am disappointed that we have not had placed before” us more complete information, and that a proper schedule of works has not been prepared. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Employment (Mr. Stewart) adheres to the old method adopted by his predecessors when spending relief money on government undertakings. I had hoped that he would display more initiative.
– Surely the honorable member does not wish us to discuss works programmes with separate municipalities ?
– The Government has the money, and should be prepared to discuss proposals with any authority that has work to offer. If it had done that we should already have had a works programme from every State of the Commonwealth, but by the time the negotiations filter through State departments interminable delays are occasioned. The Under-Secretary was disposed to throw upon the State governments the responsibility for not being able to get on with the job immediately. He complained that only two governments had submitted satisfactory schedules of works, and that from the others either no schedules at all had been received, or those that were offered were unsatisfactory.
There are two matters to consider in the expenditure of this money; first, work must be found, and then the conditions under which the money is to be spent must be laid down. The States may be to blame for not having submitted works schedules, but the Commonwealth Government is in a position to dictate conditions regarding wages. There is no need to discuss that aspect of the matter with municipal or State authorities. If they are not prepared to accept the conditions laid down, they need not take the money. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Employment has on more than one ocasion said that the only way in which the unemployment problem can be satisfactorily dealt with is by reducing the number of working hours without a corresponding reduction of wages. Here is a unique opportunity ‘for the honorable gentleman to put into operation the policy which he himself has proclaimed as the only one likely to rid Australia of its difficulties with regard to unemployment. Beforehe chastizes the States for not having a schedule of works to submit to him he should take into account his own shortcomings. The Commonwealth is supplying the money and the honorable gentleman has a right to dictate the terms under which that money shall be spent. In reply to a question that I put to him, however, he said that the wages and working conditions to be observed were a matter for future consideration. In effect he says the Commonwealth will provide the money for the States to do the work, yet he has failed to determine the labour conditions under which the work shall be carried out. I care not in what part of New South Wales these works are undertaken; but I am concerned about the wage standards adopted. There is an abundance of work to be done. I did not think that the Under-Secretary for Unemployment would stand on ceremony or submit to the usual red tape methods in connexion with this unemployment scheme; but tonight he has shown us that he has such a tender regard for the dignity of State governments that he feels it necessary to follow in the track of other administrations and to consult one authority when another might be able to put him on the right road. We are fully justified, I think, in saying that the schedule of works to be carried out by the Commonwealth, in respect of which an expenditure of £200,000 is proposed, should have been ready for submission to-night. Ever since 1931 expenditure has been curtailed and work has been accumulating in every Commonwealth department. For lack of money various undertakings have been neglected. For four years now the departments have been marking time, and, that being so, the Government should have been able to submit to-night a schedule of works to be carried out by this expenditure of £200,000. That is my sole criticism of the Government’s proposals. Nothing that the Opposition may do is likely to prejudice the putting of relief works in hand during the Christmas recess. The Under-Secretary for Unemployment holds strong opinions as to the hours of labour and the wages that should be paid in industry in order to give Deal relief, and I suggest that since the Commonwealth is providing the money, he should decide at once that in connexion with all works, whether carried out by a government or a municipal authority, award rates shall prevail.
Friday14, December 1934.
.- I should not have risen but for certain remarks made by honorable members opposite. We all remember very well what happended at the beginning of the last parliament when a Labour government in New South Wales refused to handle the money which the Commonwealth provided for unemployment relief. A committee was appointed with Mr. Garlick as chairman and within a very short time the municipal councils received their proportions. Four municipal councils in my electorate secured considerable sums and utilized them in providing employment. If the municipal councils, as well as the State Governments are to join with the Commonwealth in providing funds to relieve unemployment, surely the Commonwealth Government is not going to say to them “ Unless you follow our plans we will not agree to any scheme that you put forward.” The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) has deliberately set up a few skittles of his own only to knock them down again. He stated that the Commonwealth was going to provide the whole of the funds That is a deliberate misrepresentation.
– I did not say that.
– The Commonwealth, the governments, and the municipal councils are to contribute to a common fund. That is a very wise procedure. Honorable members of the New South Wales Labour party are urging that all these works should be scrapped so far as New South Wales is concerned, merely because a United Australia party government is in power there. They are challenging the right of the Government to use this money and to observe the rates of wages and conditions of labour that they consider to be suitable.
-Does the honorable member think that the men to be employed should work for the dole?
– No. Every man employed on relief works in New South Wales is receiving award rates.
– Rubbish !
– The difference between the policy of the present government of New South Wales and that of the Lang Labour Government is that the latter gave the unemployed a dole ticket and no work at all. Mr. Lang did not attempt to put any of the unemployed on public works during the time he was in power.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).Order ! The honorable member’s remarks are quite irrelevant to the question before the Chair.
– I am pointing out that award rates are being observed in New South Wales in connexion with relief work.
– And a man is getting one day’s work a week.
– Some men may be working only a day a week while others are given two or more days’ work a week, according to the size of their families. It is no fault of the Commonwealth Government that a schedule of works is not available to-night. The blame rests with the State governments. When the first vote for relief works was made available many municipal councils occupied quite a long time in preparing their schedules. In one case a municipality in myelectorate wasso long in submitting its proposals that six months elapsed before I was able to finalize the matter. Queensland representativesare not pleading tonight for special conditions of labour and the New South Wales State Labour party in bringing this question forward is actuated merely by a desire to give the Government a back-hand slap.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Brennan) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) agreed to-
That theHouse at its rising adjourn until 9.30 a.m. this day.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.I do not wish to delay the adjournment, but I have to bring before the House a matter of considerable importance to members of all parties. Some time ago the Library Committee decided that honorable members should not be allowedto take out more than ten books at a time from the library. This morning it resolved that that rule, which in the past has been considerably relaxed, should be strictlyenforced.I am notgoing tomake any excuse for those who have abused their privilege in this regard, orwho have exceeded to any extent the limitation imposed upon them; but I think the Librarian should be allowed toexercise his discretion. With the approach of the, recess I, with others, had hoped to take out certain books to study during the vacation. But under the decision arrived at suddenly this morning, any honorable member who happens to have more that ton library books in his possession, will not bo able to take out any more until those in, excess, of the limit fixed have been returned. In my case I had hoped to borrow six or seven legal books to study during the next few months, but I would have to return every book that I have out at the present time in order to have these issued to. me. The list of those whose issue of books at the present time is in excess of the number fixed, comp rises 27 members of both Houses, or practically one-fourth of the total membership, of the Parliament. The majority are members of the Ministry, and most of the leading members of all parties are included in the list. No one would accuse them of keeping out books merely for the. sake of inconveniencing others who desired to obtain them. They are not readers of light literature. I think that the librarian should be allowed a certain amount of discretion. Among the books I had out were four short pamphlets of about six pages each, yet theyare regarded as four books. If ah honorable member took out six pamphlets dealing with one subject, he would be considered to have six books.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).As Chairman of the Library Committee, to which positionI was appointed only on Thursday morning, I wish to point out that the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Baker) is slightly in error in his interpretation of the decision which he said had been reached hurriedly. No new rule has been made. The number of books an honorable member is allowed to have atanyonetime, is, the same now as it was during the last Parliament. The committee discussed, on Thursday, morning, not the number of books to beallowed to an honorable member, but the length of time he should be permitted to retain them. Some honorable members have had volumes out for quite a long while, and in some cases, I am sorry to learn, difficulty has been experienced in having them returned. Thecommittee considered whether members who desire books to enable them to carry out a certain course of study should be allowed to keep them for a longer period than the three months usually allowed. The committee decided that it would not be fair to allow any honorable member to keep a book of any description for more than three months. AsChairman of the Library Committee, Iam prepared to have reconsideration given to the number of books an honorable member may be permitted to borrow, particularlyduring a Parliamentary recess.
-Will special consideration be shown when research work is being carried out? It has been suggested that members, of the Ministerial party have offended against therules of the Library, but they may be engaged in research work for the Government.
– The committee considered that the interests of all honorable members would have to be studied. If an honorable member who is engaged in research work retains a book for three months and, then returns it, he may take it out again if no other member desires to read it.
– The honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Baker) remarked that the notice referred to had taken him by surprise.I think ten books are quite sufficient for any honorable member to have out at one time, and he should not retain a book for more than three months, otherwise he would be showing no consideration to other members of the House. I once heard of an honorable member on the other side having 27 books out at the same time. New members are not conversant with ail the rules, and older members may have borrowed so many books from the Library at one time that injustice has been inflicted upon other members.
, - As a member of the Library Committee over which you tactfully and ably preside, Mr. Speaker, I point out that I think you are under a slight misapprehension as to the decision of the committee on Thursday morning. “While the rule has not been altered as to the number of books that may be taken out, and the period for which they may be retained, the importance of the decision reached lies in the fact that the Librarian received definite instructions strictly to enforce that rule. I submit, with great respect, that a very important change has been made. In the past the Librarian, in his wisdom, and as the result of his experience, has used his own discretion, and has made proper allowance for the particular class of study in which an honorable member may be engaged. I now understand, by direct communication with the Librarian himself, that he considers he has a definite instruction that the rule is to be enforced, and that his discretion in the matter is overridden.
– Has he brought back foreign ideas as a result of his trip abroad ?
– I think he has enlarged ideas, and we are greatly indebted to him for the added erudition that he has acquired as the result of his recent trip, and for the great courtesy he has shown in making his knowledge available to honorable members. I think this matter can be tactfully arranged by the Librarian and yourself, Mr. Speaker, in consultation with the committee.
– The eve of a parliamentary recess is not an appropriate time for dealing with such a matter.
– Admittedly it is an inconvenient time. The view I expressed in the committee was that we should be well advised to leave this matter to the discretion of the Librarian, and not make a change in this regard. I think we should be flattering ourselves if we were to suggest to the general public that the number of books in circula tion out of the Library represents the measure of close study which is being pursued by honorable members. If the books could be traced it would be found that they have a way of drifting, and that the delay about their return does not arise from the fact that honorable members have not quite finished their studies. No doubt they have long since forgotten where they have put the books, and who has them. The public is quick to call attention to the privileges of honorable members. One of them is the use of an excellent library, and we should be a little more careful about the expeditious return of books when we no longer require them.
– I support the remarks of the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Baker). I have four books in Sydney at the present time, and I did not think that the rule would be enforced. I understand that on previous occasions it has not been the practice to enforce it. I desire to undertake a certain course of study, which necessitates the borrowing of more books than I am now permitted to take, because of the fact that I have four in Sydney. Had I known that this rule would be rigidly applied I should have asked my wife to return the books which I have left in Sydney. The honorable member for Griffith said that he did not believe an honorable member should be entitled to more than ten books, and he did not suggest that they should be kept for more than three months. I entirely agree with him.
– I was a member of the Library Committee during the. last Parliament, and I endorse the attitude that the committee has now adopted in restricting honorable members to the use of ten books at a time. It would not be reasonable to ask that the responsibility for refusal to waive the rule should be placed on the shoulders of the Librarian. If honorable members knew the abuse of privilege which occurred prior to this action by the committee, I do not think they would hesitate to support it in the course which it has adopted. It seems to me that some honorable members have been trying to make their home libraries the envy of their neighbourhood. Some have had in their possession at one time as many as 70 books. The honorable member for Martin (Mr. McCall) complains that had he known that the rule would be strictly enforced he would have sent to Sydney for four books, with which, I presume, he has finished. The Library Committee desires to assist those honorable members who are pursuing particular courses of study, but the difficulty is that certain books are not duplicated, and, if one honorable member monopolizes their use, other honorable members who desire to read them must suffer. If an honorable member is allowed to take out ten books at a time he receives generous treatment, and the volumes should not be retained beyond a reasonable period.
.During the last Parliament, I saw three portmanteaux of books brought into the L ibrary for one honorable gentleman. If the committee is anxious to safeguard the interests of all honorable members, there is no reason why it should not take action against those who have taken thirty and forty books out of the Library.
– It seems to me that honorable members misapprehend the use to which the Parliamentary Library should be put. In my opinion it is a library of reference, and, if an honorable member desires to pursue a particular course of study, he has no right to ask to be supplied from the Parliamentary Library with a whole list of books for that purpose. A dozen members may desire to use a particular book, and may be deprived of its use through its being retained by one honorable member for an unusually long period. The length of time for which a book could seasonably be kept should be determined by the popular demand for it, and, when an honorable member has finished with a book he should return it at once.
– It is the rule in these cases for the Librarian to write requesting the return of books for which others are asking.
– The point that impresses me is that a person who wishes to pursue certain studies can obtain and keep a set of books until the completion of the course, and others who wish to pursue the same course have to wait for them.
– I should like to say one more word on this important matter. The decision arrived at yesterday morning was a unanimous one. I am not, therefore, prepared to adopt the suggestion of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) that the Librarian be be allowed to exercise discretion. The Librarian asked whether members who wanted a series of books should be allowed to have more than a certain number, and the committee decided not to grant that latitude. I was unaware that there had been a previous exercise of discretion. I shall endeavour to obtain a full meeting of the committee to-day for a further discussion of the matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.37 a.m. (Friday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Minister for Industry, upon notice -
Pursuant to sub-section 3 of section50a of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, will he arrange with the State of Tasmania for the appointment of the State inspectors of factories as inspectors also of federal awards?
– In order to test the efficacy of policing awards by inspectors, the Government has decided to appoint in the first instance, one inspector only. This inspector will, if circumstances warrant it, visit Tasmania. If the experiment proves a success, the question of making further appointments will be considered, and, in this connexion, consideration will be given to the matter of making an arrangement with the State of Tasmania under section 78 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act for the performance by officers of the State of the duties of inspectors.
Geological SURVEY: Tasmania.
t asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Does the Commonwealth Geologist consider that south-west Tasmania is a good field for geological research; if so, will the Government take steps for a geological survey of this unexplored region?
– The geological survey of Tasmania i3 primarily a function of the Government of that State. Should a request for co-operation in making a survey of the south-west portion of Tasmania be received from the Government of that State it will be given consideration.
Secretary op State fob the Dominions.
e asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the importance and desirableness of the Secretary of State for the Dominions having the same close acquaintance with Australia as he has with the Dominion of Canada, will the Government consider inviting that gentleman to visit Australia during the coming year?
– The suggestion of the honorable member will receive consideration by the Government.
y asked the Prims Minister, Upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows r*-
r asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
When is it intended to put into effect the recommendations of the Bankruptcy Committee made a considerable time ago, and at that time accepted by the Government?
– Since the recommendations of the Parliamentary Bankruptcy Committee were made, comprehensive amendments to the Bankruptcy Act have been suggested by a conference of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and other bodies. Owing to the amount of government business before the House, it was not possible to introduce an amending bill this year. The matter will, however, be considered early next year.
r asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice - -
When is it intended, as promised by the Government approximately twelve months ago, that the Standing Orders Committee shall consider the preparation of legislation for the purpose of the punishment of contempt by persons outside this Parliament against this Parliament?
– The matter referred to by the honorable member is one for the consideration of the Standing Orders Committee. Up to the present, the representatives of the Government on that committee have not submitted to the committee any proposals on the subject in question. *$he matter, however, has not been lost sight of.
r asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice-*
– the answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice-
Whether he will investigate the following allegations in connexion with Berri Cooperative Company
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
English air mail by cutting out the accustomed stop for delivery and collection of mails at Anthony’s Lagoon and Alexandria?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– It is the intention of the Government to advise honorable members respecting this matter at an early date.
r asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
What rate of commission is being paid by the Government to the agents who have been appointed to collect rente from the department’s tenants within the Federal Capital Territory?
– The rate of commission is 5 per cent. on the rents collected.
r. - On 16th November the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) asked a question, upon notice, in regard to certain varieties of frostresistant potatoes, and in the course of my reply I stated that consideration was being given to the question of asking the High Commissioner in London to make representations in regard to the supply of samples of tubers.
I now desire to inform the honorable member that the High Commissioner’s Office, London, has been asked by cablegram to communicate with the Bureau of Plant Genetics, Cambridge, with a view to samples of the tubers being forwarded to Australia for the purposes of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
Training of Australian Youths.
s. - On the 23rd November, the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) asked me the following question, without notice: -
Will the Prime Minister give favorable consideration to the question of establishing within Australia an institution devoted to the training of Australia’s fine young manhood, so that they may be properly qualified to sojourn in parts beyond the seas, there creating, by the exercise of practical and scientific ability in salesmanship, markets for the dis posal of Australian production, thus assisting to provide constant employment for the whole of our people.
Consideration has been given to the matter raised by the honorable member. The overseas markets for Australian products are at present being exploited as fully as possible. In Empire countries where markets are available, there are already Australian representatives, including publicity officers, whose objective is to increase the sale of Australian products. It is the aim of the Commonwealth Government, by means of trade negotiations, to remove the principal factors which are limiting the sale of Australian products in foreign countries. As a further aid to Australian exports, it is proposed to appoint Australians as trade representatives in certain countries. In all the circumstances, it is not considered necessary for the Commonwealth Government to establish an institution on the lines suggested by the honorable member.
British Boycott of Australian Goods.
s. - On the 7th December the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Collins) asked me the following question, without notice: -
Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a report that men are parading outside Australia House, in London, carrying placards advocating the boycott of Australian goods ? If this is being done, will the Government communicate with the High Commissioner in London with the object of having the practice discontinued, in view of the detrimental effect it may have on the interests of Australia.
I have communicated by cablegram with the High Commissioner, London, and have received the following reply : -
There are not, and for several weeks past there have not been, any men parading or standing with placards outside Australia House. On the 19th September, there was a parade of representatives of Victorian (Australia) ex-service settlers carrying posters and distributing leaflets to passers-by, in which they set out their grievances and decried the purchase of Australian goods. Thereafter a few men carrying placards stood on the public footpath near the main entrance to Australia House, but without obstructing the entrance or pedestrian traffic, and without accosting the public. This ceased on the 31st October, and there has been no resumption since.
l. - On the 5th December the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) asked the following questions, upon notice: -
Australia, Great Britain, United States of America, Russia (Onion of Soviet Socialist Republics), Japan, Netherlands, and France, respectively ?
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 December 1934, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1934/19341213_reps_14_145/>.