House of Representatives
23 September 1935

14th Parliament · 1st Session

The House of Representatives on the 11th April, 1935, adjourned until a day and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, and notified by him to each honorable member. The House met pursuant to such notification.

Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

page 20



– I have to announce that I have received a return to the writ which I issued on the 7th May last, for the election of a member to serve for the electoral division of Newcastle, in the State of New South Wales, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of the Honorable David Watkins, and that by the endorsement on the writ it appears that David Oliver Watkins has been elected in pursuance of the said writ.

I have further to announce, with deep regret, the death, on the 25th June last, of the honorable member for Fawkner, Mr. George Arnot Maxwell, K.C., and to inform the House that, on the 24th July last, I issued a writ for the election of a member to serve for the electoral division of Fawkner in the State of Victoria, in the place of the deceased gentleman. I have received a return to such writ, and by the endorsement thereon it appears that Harold Edward Holt has been elected in pursuance of the said writ.

Messrs. Watkins and Holt made and subscribed the oath of allegiance.

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Twenty-FifthAnniversaryof Accession to Throne - Reply to Joint Address.


– I have to announce that I have received the following communication from His Excellency the Governor-General : -

Government House,

Canberra, 16th August, 1935

The Governor-General transmits herewith to the Speaker of the House of Representatives copy of His Majesty the King’s Reply to the Address from the Members of the Senate and the Members of the House of Representatives on the occasion of Their Majesties’ Silver Jubilee, and which was handed to His Majesty by the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth at St. James’s Palace on the 8th May, 1935.

The Governor-General would be pleased if Mr. Speaker would take the earliest opportunity of reading His Majesty’s Address to the Members of the House of Representatives.

The Governor-General desires to inform Mr. Speaker that he has forwarded the original of His Majesty’s Reply with a similar request to the President of the Senate. (Sgd.) Isaac A. Isaacs,


His Majesty’s reply reads as follows: -

Members of the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia:

I thank you from my heart for your Address of loyalty and affection, which I received from the hands of my Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia at St. James’s Palace, on the 8th May. The Queen and I were deeply touched by the warmth and sincerity of the congratulations addressed to us by Mr. Lyons and by the other represen tatives of my dominions overseas, who had assembled to greet us on that memorable occasion.

By a happy coincidence the following day was the anniversary of the day when, thirty-four years ago, I stood amongst you as the bearer of a commission from my father, King Edward, to open the first Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia : the Queenand I have never forgotten our visit to Australia, and the warm-hearted welcome which we received. Speaking on that occasion in my father’s name, I referred . to the loyalty and devotion to the Throne and Empire of which the people of Australia had already given such signal proofs. Those words were true then; they stand reinforced to-day.

The intervening years have brought with them grievous blows of war and economic depression. In this time of celebration let us remember to pay our tribute of sympathy to those who have suffered and are suffering. I trust that reviving prosperity, aided by a spirit of mutual comradeship, may soon bring encouragement and help to those who are at present the victims of unemployment.

In your Address you have referred to the marvellous inventions which have done so much to improve communications. I was, as ever, filled with wonder when, oh the 6th May, I listened to ‘ the broadcast messages spoken from Canberra, and from other distant parts of my dominions. I rejoiced to think that my words on that day of my Silver Jubilee could be heard by my peoples throughout the Empire. I trust that these -instruments which science has placed in our hands may be wisely used, may maintain and strengthen the bonds of fellowship, and may advance the good of all.

The constitutional developments of recent years have brought into being a new conception of the British Empire as a union of free and equal peoples. I am confident that, in concert with the other partners in the British Empire, Australia will play its part in the world in maintaining the ideals of peace and of liberty.

I have been touched by your references to the visits which my sons have paid to Australia. The accounts which I have received from them of their visits, so crowded with incident and interest, have made me realize that my people of Australia, though far away in distance, are near in spirit.

I join with you in the prayer that, under Divine Providence, my people of Australia may ever advance on the path of prosperity and peace. (Signed) George R.I. 12th May, 1935.

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Prime Minister · Wilmot · UAP

by leave - I move -

That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Sir Neil Elliott Lewis, K.C.M.G., who was a member of the first Commonwealth Ministry, places on record its high appreciation of his particularly meritorious public services during a long and notable career, and tenders its deep sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.

Information has reached me of the death yesterday at Hobart of the Honorable Sir Neil Elliott Lewis, K.C.M.G., Lieutenant-Governor of the State of Tasmania.

Sir Elliott Lewis was closely associated with the movement for the federation of the Australian States, having been a member of the Australasian Federal Convention 1897-1898, and a member of the Federal Council of Australasia 1899. He was from the 1st January to the 2nd April, 1901, an honorary Minister in the first Commonwealth Ministry, but did not become a member of the Federal Parliament. His parliamentary career was one of long duration and outstanding service, commencing in July, 1886, when he was elected to represent Richmond in the House of Assembly of Tasmania. He retained that seat till April, 1903. After an interval of six years he was again returned to the Tasmanian House of Assembly, having been elected to represent Denison. Sir Elliott Lewis eventually retired from the Parliament of the State in 1922. He was Attorney-General of Tasmania from August, 1892, to April 1894; Premier and Attorney-General from October, 1899, to April, 1903; Premier and Treasurer for a period of four months in 1909, and again from October, 1909, to June, 1912; Treasurer and Minister for Mines from April, 1916, to March, 1922, and Chief Secretary from March to June, 1922. Since 1933 he had held His Majesty’s commission as Lieutenant-Governor of Tasmania. From 1924 to 1933 he was Chancellor of the University of Tasmania.

Thus practically half a century of public service of a varied nature is comprised in the history of the life of this notable Australian. I was associated with him in the Parliament of Tasmania, and from personal knowledge I can testify to his breadth of vision, and hisearnest desire to serve his country. I saw him recently, when he seemed to be enjoying excellent health, and I feel keenly the loss of one whose personal friendship I greatly valued. The sympathy of this House goes out to his widow and sons in their bereavement.


.- I support the Prime Minister’s remarks in moving the motion expressing the regret of this Parliament at the passing of Sir Neil Elliott Lewis. The deceased gentleman had a long and honourable career in the public life of this country, and evidently followed the scriptural injunction, “ Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might “. The members of the Opposition tender to his sorrowing relatives their heartfelt sympathy.

“West Sydney

– I associate my party and myself with the remarks made by the Prime Minister and the Acting Leader of the Opposition on this motion. We desire to convey our deepest sympathy to the widow and family of Sir Neil Elliott Lewis in their sad bereavement.

Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable members standing in their places.

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Prime Minister · Wilmot · UAP

by leave - I move -

That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of Mr. George Arnot Maxwell, K.C, member for the Division of Fawkner for a period of eighteen years, places on record its appreciation of his distinguished public services, and tenders to his widow and family its profound sympathy in their bereavement.

It is with feelings of great regret that I refer to the death, on the 25th June last, o£ our esteemed colleague, Mr. George-

Maxwell. The late honorable gentleman made many close personal friends during the period of his membership of this House, and I deem it a great privilege to have been associated with him. Honorable members know of the disability under which he laboured for many years through the loss of his eyesight, and it was truly remarkable that he was able to discharge so efficiently his duties as a representative of the people in the Parliament of the Commonwealth and to continue his work as a member of the legal profession. His wonderful courage left a lasting impression on all with whom he came into contact. He was a member of this House for eighteen years continuously from his election to represent Fawkner at the general election in May, 1917. In 1921- 1922 he was a member of the Parliamentary “Wireless Agreement Committee. His keen intellect, wide knowledge, and ability to grasp details, combined with his skilled debating powers, established him as one of the most accomplished members of the Commonwealth Parliament, while his humanitarianism permeated all his activities. A familiar and revered figure has gone from our midst, but the recollection of him and his labours will long remain with us. Our sincere sympathy goes out to his widow and the members of his family, whose untiring attention and devotion to our late colleague we all admired.


.- I support the motion moved by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) expressing the regret of this Parliament at the passing of the late honorable member for Fawkner, Mr. G. A. Maxwell, whom we all, irrespective of party divisions, looked upon as a very dear friend. Endowed with great gifts of language, oratory and human sympathy he was a remarkable character. Though suffering from the disability of blindness - one which would have made the average man lose heart - he retained to the last a bright and genial disposition, making little of that from which he, no doubt, suffered. Political friend and foe alike held him in the very highest esteem. A fearless fighter for what he believed to be right, political party adhesions did not prevent him from courageously condemning whatever he believed to be wrong. A beloved friend has gone, but the memory of his sterling qualities will linger with us for very many years. Those who sat on this side of the House could not help but feel, as they looked across to the benches opposite, the very deepest admiration for the devotion and self-sacrifice of his widow and other members of his family who used to accompany him to the chamber and sit for hour after hour in attendance upon him. His widow has lost a good husband and his daughters a devoted father. Our deepest sympathy is extended to them in their time of sorrow.

West Sydney

– All honorable members will agree, I think, that it is perfectly natural that we should regard the passing of one of our colleagues with a deeper sense of feeling than is associated with the passing of those with whom we have not been personally associated. Consequently, we feel deeply the loss caused by the passing of the late honorable member for Fawkner. Unquestionably, he was a notable figure in this House, one who was always listened to with interest, (.hie recalls vividly the frequent crossfire of interjections between honorable members who sit in this corner and Mr. Maxwell. We shall miss the contributions of the late honorable member in the making of the many momentous decisions for which this Parliament is responsible. My colleagues and I join with the Prime Minister and the Acting Leader of the Opposition in expressing sympathy with the sorrowing wife and family.

Minister for Commerce · Cowper · CP

– I wish to associate myself with the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and the leaders of the other parties in this House in their expressions of regret at the loss which the public life of Australia has sustained by the death of Mr. Maxwell. Some sixteen years ago, when I came into this Parliament, he was an alert and vigorous figure with flashing eyes and vivacious gesture making his points in an extraordinarily animated way. Then, suddenly, one of the greatest human afflictions that can befall a man befell him. But, despite that, he won our admiration by the wonderful way in which he still maintained his public duties and carried on with his public career. The manner in which he was able to keep himself in constant touch with, and thoroughly informed upon, current affairs would have been more than creditable to a man with all his faculties at his disposal. That Mr. Maxwell was able to do this was possible, not only through his own wonderful courage and fortitude, but also through the wonderful assistance which he received from his devoted wife and family; and the tribute we pay to his memory in this House this afternoon is a tribute, not only to the man himself, but also to his widow and daughters, who did so much to keep him in public life.

VicePresident of the Executive Council · North Sydney · UAP

[3.20 * .* - I desire to associate myself with the remarks of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and other speakers. It was my privilege to know Mr. Maxwell intimately and to be closely associated with him politically and personally for very many years. The news of hia death was to me, as to many others, a great shock, and that familiar figure which lent distinction and dignity to the proceedings of this chamber and blended with its surroundings as appropriately as some fine portrait with its frame, will be seen no more. Yet whenever matters of great moment are under discussion in this chamber, the eyes of those of us who have been his colleagues for many years, will turn expectantly to the place where ho sat, ere we realize sadly that his strong, resonant voice has been silenced by death. He was a man of outstanding personality and commanding presence, an eloquent and forceful speaker and a great debater - lucid, logical and convincing. As an advocate, he attained a leading position in his own State, and his addresses to juries were striking examples of forensic eloquence. Like all men who knew him, I not only admired his many great qualities but also conceived for him a strong and lasting affection. He was a man of high moral character, and great courage. He not only bore his blindness with unshaken fortitude, but also retained to the end that cheerfulness of disposition and geniality of manner that had characterized him throughout life. He was deeply and sincerely religious: his faith in the scriptures was simple and all-embracing. The greatest calamity that can overtake man failed to shake his faith, and he found in the Bible at once solace, comfort and inspiration. A strong party man, in debate he struck hard, but in the hottest fray he maintained a high level and scrupulously avoided personalities. He made no enemies. His words left no lasting sting, for he fought always with the sword of the soldier and not with the dagger of the assassin. Handicapped as he was by the loss of his sight, he retained to the end his old vigour and charm. His memory always keen was quickened by his affliction and his later speeches - eloquent and arresting - exhibited an extraordinary industry and retained all his old mastery of phrase and apt quotation.

To his widow, that loyal helpmeet to whose loving care and unremitting attention he owed so much, and to his daughters who gave so freely loving and helpful service, I extend my heartfelt sympathies and offer my sincere tribute to the memory of a fine, warm-hearted, loyal and honorable man.

Minister without portfolio assisting the Minister for Commerce · Batman · UAP

.- As a representative of a Victorian constituency, perhaps I shall not be regarded as intruding if I add a word or two, inasmuch as it was in the State of Victoria and for the State of Victoria in the first place that the late Mr. Maxwell rendered such signal and distinguished service. It is no disparagement of the late honorable member, for nobody can justly disparage him, to say that probably he won greater distinction as a member of the bar than he did even in his distinguished public service as a member of Parliament. I enjoyed a very long acquaintance with Mr. Maxwell, my recollection of him going back to an incident in the late ‘nineties, when he was contesting the Carlton seat in the Victorian Parliament. I was then beginning my University career and I found him addressing a meeting in the open air in what was then, and still is, a strong industrial electorate. I was greatly struck by the force of his eloquence. I can well remember what the right honorable gentleman who has just spoken referred to as his flashing eye - destined, unhappily, afterwards to be dimmed - his lank black hair, his picturesque figure and, above all, the force of his advocacy. At that time it seemed to me that nothing could resist the logic of his words. I had yet to learn that politics was not a matter of advocacy and eloquence, but rather one of tradition, environment, and economic circumstances. Nothing to his discredit lie was defeated, but as in other things he bore defeat manfully. He was never afraid to undertake a difficult task. I think that one may say of him, and in saying it, say all that can be said, that he possessed in great measure nobility of character. At the bar he was at once the hope and despair of his fellow members - despair because it seemed impossible to rival him; hope because young men aspired to follow in his footsteps. I always felt that he was a little cramped in his parliamentary environment. He was a little restrained by the exigencies of the parliamentary machine because of his intense earnestness, and his strong desire to pursue the high ideal as he saw it. It was a great treat to hear him at his best in the courts. No man was too mean in station, no crime charged against him too grave, to cause Mr. Maxwell to renounce or shun his obligation to do his best, and his verybest, for the man in whose service he was employed. I have heard him in many different kinds of cases, not only as counsel for the defence in criminal proceedings, or in defamation cases, but also in support of civil claims in causes some of which have become leading cases in the Victorian courts. A man for whom Mr. Maxwell once appeared, a man who has since made his name in this Parliament, and who is himself a brilliant speaker, told me that he had never in his life heard a finer example of forensic eloquence than that for which Mr. Maxwell was responsible on that occasion. “We have lost a dear, warm friend. Everybody knows how frequently he and I have crossed swords in this chamber, but never for a moment looking at the statesman did I lose my respect for the man. I feel his passing as a personal loss. I, too, wish to tender my sympathy to members of his family who have set an example to all families by their devotion to one who was so well worthy of all they were able to do for him.


Downs) [3.33]. - I ask honorable members to bear with me while I express my sympathy with the widow and family of the late honorable member for Fawkner in the loss they have sustained. Mr. Maxwell and I were students together at the Melbourne University for several years, 1 coming from a distant northern land, and he a citizen of the south. He stood out among the students of his day as a notable character. We all felt that he was destined to play a great part in the future of the colony of Victoria, as it then was. His utterances in our university debates and discussions, and at the public meetings which he addressed, were always marked by the characteristics of brilliance and eloquence. He struck a spiritual note in all his speeches. He was sincerely in earnest. His attributes of remarkable courage and outspokenness not only carried him into a. leading position at the university, huteven created a favorable impression outside it. In his personal relations with his fellow students he was always popular because of his kindly and genial disposition, his ready sympathy, his cheerfulness and his wonderful optimism. Years later he and I were companions in this Federal Parliament, though we had met many times in the interim. When he became a member of this House all those characteristics which marked him as a young student were seen deepened by the experiences of the life he had led. He continued to display the same independence of thought and action, the same high courage, the same decisiveness and the same independence of thought that had .always made him ready to do what he thought right, even though in doing so he might be at variance with friends or allies. As a member of this Parliament his first approach to all public questions was from the moral and spiritual angle, judging the probable effect of all proposed legislation on his fellow citizens by that high standard, and always being prepared to employ the full force of his eloquence and his ability to give effect to principles which he held in such high regard. He was notably humanitarian in his outlook even from his earliest student days, and was ever ready to render what assistance he could to the afflicted and distressed who made their appeal to him. Very often it was his feelings that guided him in such matters rather than logic or cold facts. Throughout his life he continued to manifest the highest qualities, and when the great calamity of his life overtook him it was most edifying to see how he sustained the blow. Naturally for a time he passed through a period of depression, when it must have seemed to him that everything in life was over; but later the bright light that guided him from within shone forth with greater brilliance, and once more he took his place in the world again filled with the same cheerfulness and optimism that he had previously displayed. Almost the last words he spoke to me in this chamber reflected his unshaken belief in the high possibilities of human nature. After he became blind he faced his duties again, and fulfilled them with the same ability, earnestness and sincerity which had previously earned him his position in this House, and had won for him the respect and affection of his constituents to the last. “We shall all miss our personal contact with him, but though he has gone his memory will be an inspiration to us who were privileged to know him. It will always be associated with that sweet tenderness and devotion which characterized his wife’s attitude to him, as well as that of the other members of his family. Thus we mark the memory of a man who did not follow his career merely for personal gain or wealth or material possessions, but who in all things kept true to his ideals. He has left to his fellow citizens a memory that will be an inspiration in courage and nobility that I trust will be followed by many.


.- I desire to associate myself with the other honorable members in expressing regret at the death of Mr. Maxwell. It was my privilege to make my first appearance at the bar as a junior to Mr. Maxwell, and I shall not forget the consideration and courtesy which he extended at that time to a very inexperienced and raw young lawyer. I know the respect and admiration felt for him in his own electorate, and I learned that the most satisfactory way of obtaining support in that electorate was to let it be known that one belonged to the same party as that to which Mr. Maxwell had belonged. I express in this House, on behalf of the constituents of Fawkner, their very real regret at his passing. I feel that there is some connexion between that early association of mine with Mr. Maxwell at the bar, and the fact that I have now the privilege of following in his footsteps politically. It is my earnest wish to conduct myself in this House in a manner of which he would approve, and if I can do that, I feel that I shall be best showing my personal respect and veneration for him.

Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.

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Prime Minister · Wilmot · UAP

, - By leave - I move -

That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of Senator Lionel Thomas Courtenay, of New South Wales, and tenders to his widow and family its sincere sympathy in their bereavement.

The particularly sad circumstances connected with the death of Senator Courtenay no doubt are well known to honorable members. Elected to represent the Senate for the State of New South Wales at the general elections held in September of last year, he became a member of the Senate on the 1st July of this year. Ten days later his death occurred.

Senator Courtenay had borne his sufferings bravely, and it was typical of him that almost to the last he continued to evince a keen interest in matters connected with the public life of New South Wales and of the Commonwealth. His record of public service extended over 34 years, and he was regarded as an authority on local government matters. His connexion with local government administration in New South Wales included service for a period of six years as a member of the City Council of Sydney in addition to service for many years as a member of municipal councils. For two years immediately prior to hi3 election to the Senate be had been a member of the Legislative Council of the Parliament of New South Wales.

Senator Courtenay, unfortunately, was not able to take part in the deliberations of the Senate, and the majority of the members of this Parliament, therefore, did not have the advantage of personal association with him. We regret his loss as a member of this Parliament, and express our deepest sympathy with his widow and family in their bereavement.


– I associate the Opposition with the expressions of regret uttered by the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) in regard to the passing of Senator Courtenay. Although that gentleman did not take his place in the Commonwealth Parliament, he was known to me personally. His good qualities and his nobility of character were universally known among a legion of friends in New South Wales. Members of this Parliament, particularly, I feel sure, can join with the Prime Minister in extending their very deep sympathy to the late senator’s bereaved relatives.

West Sydney

– The death of Senator Courtenay places my colleagues and myself in the same position in which we found ourselves in considering the motion just carried. Like Mr. Maxwell, Senator Courtenay was known personally and intimately to many honorable members, particularly those from New South Wales in which State he was associated with public life for many years. My colleagues and I have fought with him inside our own party ranks and against him when he saw fit to differ from us as to the course that politics in Australia and in New South Wales should take. It was my privilege to be associated with the late honorable gentleman in many activities particularly in the Sydney Municipal Council. We were close personal friends, and worked together in many matters believing our efforts to be in the best interests of New South Wales. My colleagues and I experienced deep regret at the passing of the late senator at such an early age in life, and we extend our deepest sympathy to his widow and family in their sad bereavement.

Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.

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Prime Minister · Wilmot · UAP

by leave - I move -

That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of Mr. John Livingston, a former member for the division of Barker, records its appreciation of his public services, and tenders to his -widow and family its heartfelt sympathy in their ‘ bereavement.

Mr. Livingston passed away in Melbourne on the 4th September, at the age of 78 years. For many years he had been engaged in pastoral pursuits at Mount Gambler, South Australia, where his father settled in the year 1843. It is worthy of mention, perhaps, that during the boyhood of John Livingston, Adam Lindsay Gordon was a frequent visitor to his father’s station. In his earlier years Mr. Livingston took up land near Bourke, in New South Wales. Later he returned to Mount Gambier, and was responsible for the organization of the first shipment of fat lambs which left South Australia for England.

He was a member of the first Benara District Council, and, in 1899, was elected mayor of Mount Gambier. After six years in the House of Assembly of the Parliament of South Australia, he was elected to the House of Representatives as member for Barker at the general elections of 1906. He represented Barker continuously until the expiration of the Eighth Commonwealth Parliament in 1922, when he retired. In 1911 he was a member of the parliamentary party that visited England at the invitation of the Imperial Government, on the occasion of the coronation of King George V.

Mr. Livingston’s activities in many spheres of public life were indicative of his earnest desire to serve his country, and, during his long association with this House, he earned a reputation for sincerity of purpose which it would be difficult to excel. We are proud of the spirit of citizenship evidenced by men such as Mr. Livingston, and we deeply sympathize with his widow and family in their loss.


.-I join in extending the deepest sympathy of honorable members of all parties to the sorrowing relatives of the late Mr.

John Livingston. It was not my privilege to know Mr. Livingston personally, but evidently he made a deep impression upon all with whom he was associated in the Commonwealth Parliament, because even to-day former colleagues speak of him in the very highest terms. He was a pioneer in the great pastoral industry. « He played his part as a citizen in his local town of Mount Gambier, in the State Parliament of South Australia, and in the Commonwealth Parliament. His watchword evidently was “ service to the community.” He left a large and honorable family, and the Opposition extends to them its deepest sympathy in their irreparable loss.

West Sydney

– On behalf of my party I join with the expressions of sympathy to be extended to the sorrowing relatives and friends of the late Mr. Livingston.

Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.

page 28


Prime Minister · Wilmot · UAP

by leave - I move -

That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of Mr James Benjamin Sharpe, a former member for the Division of Oxley, and tenders to hi3 daughter its sincere sympathy in her bereavement.

Mr. Sharpe, whose death occurred in Sydney on the 8th July last, was elected to this House as the member for Oxley, Queensland, at the general elections held in May, 1913. His parliamentary career extended over the duration of the Fifth and Sixth Parliaments and terminated in March, 1917. Many years have passed since Mr. Sharpe was a member of this chamber, but those who were associated with him in this Parliament and in other spheres of public life pay tribute to his integrity and ability. The sympathy of this House is extended to his daughter in her bereavement.


.- The Opposition supports the motion moved by the right honorable the Prime Minister in regard to the passing of Mr. J. B. Sharpe. I numbered him among my personal friends. He played an important part in the Labour movement in Queensland away back in 1912, when, owing to his organizing . ability and the financial assistance he rendered to the unions, a Labour newspaper known as the Daily Standard was established in the name of the Labour movement of Queensland. That paper has continued for the last 23 years and has done splendid service for the cause, so dear to the late Mr. Sharpe. Indeed, without his generous assistance the paper would not have been established in 1912.

Although Mr. Sharpe’s term as a parliamentary representative of the Oxley electorate extended over a period of four years only, his interest in the welfare of the Labour movement continued up to the time of his death. He was a man who fought fearlessly for the principles he believed to be right. One never found him entertaining feelings of animosity towards a political opponent. To his daughter, who was much devoted to him, the Opposition extends its heartfelt sympathy.

West Sydney

– I join with the previous speakers in extending the deepest sympathy to the sorrowing daughter of the late Mr. Sharpe. The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) has referred to the deceased gentleman’s activities in the Labour movement in Queensland, and to the great service which he rendered to that movement. My colleagues and I remember more particularly the assistance which he gave on a number of occasions, within more recent years, in municipal and other campaigns in New South Wales. That death takes such a heavy toll of persons who are prominent in the political life of this country indicates that the work undertaken in that sphere imposes a particularly heavy strain.

Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members’ standing in their places.

page 28


Prime Minister · Wilmot · UAP

by leave - I move -

That this House expresses its sincere regret at the death of Mr. Jabez Coon, a former member for the division of Batman, and tenders to his widow and daughter its deep sympathy in their bereavement.

The death of Mr. Coon, a former member of the House of Representatives for the division of Batman, occurred in Melbourne on the 18th April last. Very few of those honorable members present to-day were acquainted with him, as his parliamentary service was confined to the Third Parliament, extending from December, 1906, to February, 1910.

We much regret the passing of one who, in parliamentary and civic spheres, rendered very useful service to the community. Our deep sympathy goes out to his widow and daughter in their bereavement.


.- I associate the Opposition with the motion of condolence moved by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons). It was my privilege to be acquainted with the late Mr. Coon, who was a man of very high ideals. The State of Victoria is the poorer for his passing. He served the electors of Batman to the very best of his ability. The party that I represent extends to his son-owing relatives its very deepest sympathy.

West Sydney

– I also associate the party that I have the honour to lead with the motion of sympathy with the widow and daughter of the late Mr. Jabez Coon.

Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.

Motion (by Mr. Lyons) - by leave - agreed to -

That Mr. Speaker be requested to transmit the foregoing resolutions respectively to the several persons specified therein, together with a copy of the speeches delivered in connexion with them.

Suspension of Sitting


– As a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased, I suggest that the sitting be suspended until 5 p.m.

Sitting suspended from3.54 to 5 p.m.

page 29


Assent to the following bills reported : -

Sales Tax Procedure Bill 1935.

Immigration Bill 1935.

Norfolk Island Bill 1935.

Wheat Commission Bill 1935.

Patents Bill 1935.

Copyright Bill 1935.

Carriage by Air Bill 1935.

Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1935.

Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment)

Validation Bill 1935.

Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Validation Bill 1935.

Dairy Produce Bill 1935.

Loan (Farmers’ Debt Adjustment) Bill 1935.

Spirits Bill 1935.

Port Augusta toRed Hill Railway Bill 1935.

Soldier Settlement Loans (Financial Agreement) Bill 1935.

Seat of Government Supreme Court Bill 1935.

Supply (No. 1) Bill 1935-36.

Supplementary Appropriation Bill 1933-34.

page 29


Reservation of assent notified.

Royal Assent.

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 6th day of June, 1935, been pleased to confirm, approve and declare his assent to the said proposed law.

The Governor-General had caused the King’s assent to be proclaimed in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette No. 37, dated the 11th July, 1935.

page 29


Mr SPEAKER (Hon G J Bell:

I have received letters from Mrs. Mathews, Mrs. Cameron, and Mrs. Poynton expressing thanks to the House for its resolutions of sympathy.

page 29


Prime Minister · Wilmot · UAP

by leave - I desire to announce to the House that His Majesty the King has been pleased to appoint Brigadier-General the Honorable Sir Alexander Gore Arkwright HoreRuthven, V.C., K.C.M.G., C.B., D.S.O., Governor of the State of New South Wales, to succeed the Right Honorable Sir Isaac Alfred Isaacs, G.C.M.G., as Governor-General and CommanderinChief in and over the Commonwealth of Australia. Sir Alexander Hore-Ruthven will assume the office of Governor-General as soon after the 21st January. 1936, as can be conveniently arranged.

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Prime Minister · “Wilmot · UAP

by leave - I desire to inform honorable members that a re-arrangement of duties of some members of the Cabinet has been effected.

The Honorable H. V. C. Thorby will assist the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page), as well as have charge of War Service Homes. Senator the Honorable T. C. Brennan will continue to assist in the administration of the Department of Commerce.

The Honorable J. A. J. Hunter has taken over the duties of Assistant Minister for Repatriation vice Mr. Thorby and will also assist the Minister for the Inferior (Mr. Paterson).

The Honorable R. G. Menzies (AttorneyGeneral) will represent the Minister for External Affairs (Senator Sir George Pearce), and the Honorable E. Archdale Parkhill (Minister for Defence) will represent the Postmaster-General (Senator McLachlan) in this House.

It is the intention of the Government to introduce as early as practicable a bill to make provision for the appointment of an additional Minister of State, the number of Ministers of State being at present limited by the Ministers of State Act 1917 to a maximum of nine. When the requisite provision has been made by the Parliament I propose to submit to the Governor-General the name of the Honorable E. G. Casey, at present Assistant Treasurer, with a view to his definitive appointment as Treasurer.

page 30


ministerial statement.

Prime Minister · Wilmot · UAP

by leave - I desire to inform honorable members that His Excellency Mr. Katsuji Debuchi, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of His Imperial Japanese Majesty, arrived at Brisbane on the 14th August by the SS. Karno Maru and was welcomed on behalf of the Commonwealth Government by the Honorable J. A. J. Hunter, who conveyed to His Excellency a personal message from me. Mr. Debuchi proceeded by train to Sydney where he was met by the Honorable E. Archdale Parkhill, Minister for Defence, and on the 15th August he embarked on the SS. Marama for New Zealand. Mr. Debuchi returned to Sydney on the 4th September, when his official mission to the Commonwealth actually commenced. He was there met by Senator the Eight Honorable Sir G. F. Pearce, Minister for External Affairs, who accompanied him during the visits to the Federal Capital Territory and the State of Victoria. The purpose of the mission of Mr. Debuchi, who is a gentleman of very high standing ‘ and has had a distinguished diplomatic career in Korea, China, Germany and the United States of America, was to reciprocate the Australian Goodwill Mission to Japan last year by the Eight Honorable Sir John Latham, then Deputy Prime Minister, Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs of the Commonwealth. Mr. Debuchi reached Canberra on the 4th September, and was received by me. He was entertained on that evening by the Commonwealth Government at a State dinner at Parliament House. Mr. Debuchi’s tour in Australia included visits to the States of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, to which it was necessarily restricted by the period of time available for his stay in New Zealand and Australia.

The Commonwealth Government highly appreciates the honour paid to Australia by the Government of Japan in sending the mission, and the people of Australia have been charmed with Mr. Debuchi’s delightful and entertaining personality. Mr. Debuchi and his staff greatly impressed all our people who met them, and the Government is convinced that this mission and that of Sir John Latham to Japan have done much to strengthen and extend the friendly relations which have at all times existed between Japan and Australia.

page 30


Paper: Ministerial Statement

Prime Minister · Wilmot · UAP

by leave - The Commonwealth Government has been gravely concerned by the Italo-Abyssinian dispute, and has given the most careful consideration to the position of Australia in relation thereto in the light of our obligations under the Covenant of the League of Nations and the various agreements for the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means.

In order properly to appreciate the situation, it is necessary to trace the history of the dispute. This I shall do as briefly as possible.

In connexion with the so-called “partition “ of Africa among the main European powers during the latter half of the last century, Italy, soon after its birth as a united nation, began to turn its eyes towards Abyssinia, which was known to be a rich and relatively unexploited country, whereas the Italian colonies in North Africa consisted mostly of arid regions of little economic importance. The result of the colonial enterprises of Great Britain, France and Italy was that the ancient empire of Ethiopia was deprived of all sea coast and completely surrounded by the colonies of these three powers.

Italy became involved in numerous frontier and other disputes with Abyssinia, and, in 1SS7, a small Italian force was annihilated at Dogali by the Abyssinian General Eas Alula. Indignation was aroused in Italy, and war on Abyssinia was declared. Italy consolidated its position on the Red Sea coast, and joined forces with Menelik, the King of Shoa, against the Ethiopian Emperor, whose death at that time resulted in the enthronement of Menelik as Emperor in his stead.

By an Italo-Abyssinian treaty of 1889. the frontiers were defined in such a manner as considerably to extend the Italian possessions in this region, and it was provided that Abyssinia should use Italy as intermediary in its dealings with other European powers. Later, an Italian loan to Abyssinia was secured on the latter’s customs duties, which Italy was to administer if the interest were not paid regularly.

Abyssinia some time later repudiated part of the 1889 treaty, and eventually war was declared by Italy against Menelik in 1894. After winning several victories, the Italians were defeated in 1896 at Adowa, where they sustained considerable losses. By the peace which was then concluded, Italy recognized the complete independence of Abyssinia, and notified the Powers to that effect, while the boundaries were vaguely defined by a treaty of 1896, and by another signed in 1908. By these treaties the frontier of Italian Somaliland was to follow a line 180 miles from the coast, whereas all the territory of Ogaden, and all that of the tribes towards Ogaden, should remain dependent on Abyssinia.

Abyssinia holds that according to these treaties Walwal is well within the Ethiopian boundary, but during the last few years the Italians have raised the frontier question, and sought to establish their claim to the Walwal wells. The Italians claim that Walwal and Wardair, where incidents have occurred, form part of the Sultanate of Obbia, taken over by the Italians in 1889, and do not belong to Ogaden; that is to say, it is the territory of a tribe towards the coast within the meaning of the 1908 agreement.

That brief summary brings us to the immediate causes of the present dispute. These are based upon disagreement as to Abyssinia’s status as a member of the League of Nations; the interpretation of certain treaties ; and frontier hostilities. Italy complains that Abyssinia has invariably pursued a course of hostility, and that the economic concessions implied in a treaty of friendship and arbitration entered into between the two countries in 1928 have never ‘been granted.

Abyssinia was admitted as a member of the League of Nations after some discussion in 1923, subject to certain conditions as to the control of slavery and the traffic in arms. Italy was one of the supporters of Abyssinia’s admission. Now, however, Italy questions the right of Abyssinia to remain a member on the grounds that slavery and other abuses still exist within its borders, and that the Emperor, Haile Selassie, is only a nominal ruler, with no real control of the outlying tribes, and is unable to control his countrymen so as to prevent border raids and such occurrences as those at Walwal and Wardair. Italy claims that Abyssinia is not a civilized country within the meaning of the Covenant of the League, and, therefore, urges that Abyssinia should be excluded from membership.

A serious clash occurred at Walwal on the 5th December, 1934, between the Abyssinians and Italians. On the day following began a series of verbal and written exchanges between Abyssinia and Italy, each side accusing the other of unwarranted aggression. Abyssinia asked for arbitration under the 1928 treaty, which provides for the submission to arbitration of disputes between Italy and Abyssinia. Italy demanded apologies from the Governor at Harrar, a salute to the Italian flag at Walwal, punishment of the offenders, and £20,000 compensation.

On the 14th December, Abyssinia summarized the position in a note to the League of Nations Secretariat, and, after continued refusal by Italy to submit to arbitration on the ground that the aggression was unwarranted, Abyssinia finally appealed to the League on the 31st January, 1935, under Article 11 of the Covenant. This article provides that any threat of war is a matter of concern to the whole League, and that the League shall take any action that may be deemed wise and effectual to safeguard the peace of nations. Moreover, in the case of any such emergency the Secretary-General shall, on the request of any member of the League, summon a meeting of the Council. After some persuasion, Italy decided to submit the question to arbitration, in consideration of which Abyssinia agreed that the League should postpone discussion of its appeal until the next session of the Council in May.

In the meantime a further clash occurred at Afdub, whereupon it was announced on the 11th February that Italy had mobilized two divisions numbering about 30,000 men for duty on the Italo-Ethiopian frontier.

In the correspondence which followed, it became clear that difficulties had arisen with regard to the arbitration proceedings. On the one hand, Abyssinia wished to submit the whole boundary question to the arbitrators, while, on the other, Italy insisted upon limitation of the discussions to the Walwal incident. It was suggested that a neutral zone should be established in the GerlogubiAdoWalwaiAl:club quadrilateral, and after some argument this was done on the 4th March.

There remained, nevertheless, the differences of opinion regarding the arbitrators’ terms of reference. Abyssinia, following the 1928 treaty, suggested the establishment of a Conciliation Commission. It then made a second appeal to the League under both Articles 15 and 10 of the Covenant on the ground that there existed between Ethiopia and the Royal Italian Government a dispute likely to lead to a rupture.

Eventually Italy agreed to the appeal coming before the Council. On the 12r,h April, the two countries agreed to the appointment of a Conciliation Commission, as provided by the treaty of 1928, and the appeal was again postponed to the ordinary meeting of the Council in May.

Further disagreement arose as to the appointment of Commissioners. The 192S treaty did not specify the nationality of the nominees. In consequence, when Abyssinia nominated a Frenchman and an American, Italy objected on the ground that only nationals of the two parties to the dispute were eligible.

Each country, however, continued to arm and to protest against the other’s arming. The Italian press accused Great Britain and certain other powers of supplying arms to Abyssinia, but the accusation was categorically denied so far as Great Britain was concerned by the British Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who maintained that no licences to export arms to Abyssinia had been either issued or applied for since the Walwal incident. Abyssinia countered on the 13th May with yet another appeal to the League to see that its independence and integrity were respected.

It was decided, therefore, to bring the matter before the Council immediately. On the 25th May, with Mr. Eden and M. Laval as rapporteurs, the matter was discussed and Italy recognized the League’s standing in the dispute, and withdrew its objection regarding the nationality of Abyssinia’s nominees on the Commission. It was decided that if the four Commissioners nominated had not agreed by the 25th July to the selection of a fifth arbitrator or the extension of the period, the Council should meet again. If a fifth arbitrator were chosen, but no final settlement were arrived at by the 25th August, the Council should meet after that date.

Despite this agreement, Italy continued to mass troops on the frontier. Abyssinia protested and invited the League to send neutral observers to investigate the existing position.

At this stage, Great Britain, which had been watching the progress of the dispute with close interest, decided to intervene in the interests of peace. The Minister for League of Nations Affairs (Mr. Eden) was sent to Rome to sound Signor Mussolini on the proposal that Great Britain might be prepared to cede to Abyssinia the port of Zeila and ‘a. narrow quarter through British Somaliland on condition that Abyssinia made certain territorial and economic concessions to Italy. Great Britain was to ask nothing for itself, with the exception of certain small grazing rights for its Somaliland tribes. This proposition Signor Mussolini refused, and Mr. Eden was forced to report to the House of Commons on the 1st July that to pursue this line of settlement further would be useless.

Meanwhile, the Conciliation Commission had met on the 25th June. On the 9th July it suspended its sittings indefinitely, the reason for the breakdown being the fundamental cleavage of opinion regarding the terms of reference. The Italian Commissioners contended that the commission had power to deal only with the Walwal incident, and refused to hear evidence to the effect that Walwal was in Abyssinian territory. To the proposal of the Abyssinian members to appoint a fifth arbitrator, the Italians objected on the ground that the question involved was the competence of the commission, and could not be solved by such an appointment.

In consequence of the deadlock, the Council of the League met on the 31st July to consider the situation. Italy agreed to send a delegate on the express condition that the Council should limit its discussions to the work of the Conciliation Commission. This precluded the wider discussion of Italo-Abyssinian relations which most of the members of the Council had desired.

Abyssinia, was prevailed upon to abstain from pressing a consideration of the whole situation, and the discussion was therefore limited according to the wishes of Italy. At this juncture a tendency by Great Britain and France to co-operate with one another became manifest. These two Powers collaborated in the drafting of a resolution providing for (a) resumption of the Conciliation Commission sittings; (b) appointment of a fifth arbitrator; and (c) the holding of conversations between three parties to the 19J6 agreement, namely, Great Britain, France, and Italy, with the object of finding a basis of settlement. A motion on these lines was agreed to by Italy and adopted by the Council on the 3rd August.

It was agreed that the commission should limit itself to a discussion of the Walwal and other incidents, and report its findings to the Council when next it met - on the 4th September. It was also decided that the French and British representatives should report the success or otherwise of the Three-Power conversations on that date.

Representatives of Great Britain France, and Italy met in Paris on the 16th August. It is understood that Baron Aloisi made certain suggestions as a basis of negotiation. The most important of these was that the United Kingdom and France should recognize Italian economic and political preponderance in Abyssinia. Great Britain and France, while willing to recognize Italy’s economic interest in Abyssinia, could not agree to political preponderance, which doubtless would involve annexation of a large portion of Abyssinia and a measure of control over the remainder.

These suggestions were rejected by Great Britain and France. After consultation with the Emperor of Abyssinia, they suggested as a basis of discussion certain economic concessions and some satisfaction in the way of appointment of technical advisers. These concessions, together with the right of settlement in some parts of Abyssinia, would give to Italy, by peaceful means, a substantial portion of what it might seek by war.

This basis of discussion proved unacceptable to Italy, which apparently insisted on some measure of political control. Italy, however, reserved its right to intervene during the discussion of the dispute at Geneva. An official communique was issued by the Conference to the effect that it had been unable to find a basis of discussion which would permit of a solution of *he dispute. T> was further decided to continue, through diplomatic channels, the study of the suggestions which had been submitted.

Mr. Bruce was instructed, on the 30th August, that the policy of the Commonwealth Government was one of close cooperation with the Government of the United Kingdom in continued efforts to settle the dispute by peaceful means, and to maintain the principles of the League,

No further progress had been made when the Council of the League of Nations met on the 4th September. On that date the Italian delegate submitted the case of his country against Abyssinia, which was supported by voluminous documentation, and Abyssinia replied on (hp following day.

The Council proceeded to set up a small committee consisting of Mr. Eden (Great Britain), M. Laval (France), Senor de Madariaga (Spain), Colonel Beck (Poland), and M. Aras (Turkey), to examine the dispute and the possibilities of conciliatory settlement.

The earlier Arbitration Commission under the 1928 Treaty between Italy and Abyssinia, which was inquiring into the Walwal incident, reported on the 3rd September that it found that neither Italy nor Abyssinia was to blame in connexion with this affair.

On the 11th September, the British Foreign Secretary, Sir Samuel Hoare, made a momentous statement on British policy before the League Assembly which had opened two days earlier. He declared that Great Britain stood for the maintenance of the Covenant in its entirety, and particularly for steady collective resistance to all acts of unprovoked aggression. He said that His Majesty’s Government was second to none in its intention to fulfil, within the measure of its capacity, the obligations laid upon it by the Covenant of the League of Nations.

Other members of the League, including Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, and the Irish Free State, announced their intention to adhere firmly to the principles of the League. Mr. Bruce, the Australian representative, referred to the adverse effect of the dispute on the postwar structure for tho maintenance of peace by collective action and the renunciation of war, and urged that, while the Conciliation Committee of the League Council had the problem under review, speakers should avoid dealing with the dispute in any manner which might add to the difficulties of a solution.

Advice has now been received that the sub-committee of the Council, which has been investigating the dispute with a view to the submission to the Council of a draft basis for settlement, has arrived at certain conclusions which have been communicated to Italy and Abyssinia for consideration. This basis briefly’ contemplates : A considerable measure of administrative and other assistance to Abyssinia under the auspices of the League, directed by a delegate of the League, and including foreign advisers; re-organization of the police to ensure the security of foreigners and the observance of frontiers; and foreign participation in the economic development of Abyssinia. Moreover, certain territorial concessions would be made by France and the United Kingdom to Abyssinia, which would cede a considerable area to Italy.

While it is understood that this basis has been accepted by Abyssinia, subject to the condition that Italy shall not be given any special economic concession, advice has been received that the Italian Government has decided that the subcommittee’s proposals are unacceptable as not providing a minimum basis of discussion; but the official Italian reply has not yet been received at Geneva. It remains now to be seen whether, after the receipt of the Italian reply, the Council sub-committee will adhere to its recommendations, and submit them to the full Council for discussion with a view to the adoption of a “ report “ as to the basis of settlement of the dispute.

If such report is unanimously agreed tn by the members of the Council other than one or both of the parties to the dispute, the members of the League are obliged, under Article 15 of the Covenant, not to go to war with a party to the dispute which complies with the recommendations of the report. If the report is not unanimous, members of the League have “ the right to take such action as they shall consider necessary for the maintenance of right and justice “.

But, in any event, members have undertaken by Article 12 of the Covenant in no case to resort to war until three months after the “report of the Council. Should any member resort to war in disregard of the foregoing undertakings, it shall, ipso facto, under Article 16, be deemed to have committed an act of war against all other members of the League, which have undertaken by the Covenant immediately to subject such member to the severance of all trade or financial relations, the prohibition of all intercourse between their nationals and the nationals of the covenant-breaking State, and the prevention of all financial, commercial, or personal intercourse between the nationals of the covenant-breaking State and the nationals of any other State, whether a member of the League or not. Moreover, under Article 16, it shall be the duty of the Council to recommend to the several governments concerned what effective military, naval or air force the members of the League shall severally contribute to the armed forces to be used to protect the covenants of the League. Finally, under Article 10 of the Covenant, members of the League have undertaken to respect and preserve, as against external aggression, the territorial and existing political independence of all members of the League.

The Commonwealth Government, while convinced that the upholding of the principles of collective security embodied in the League of Nations is essential to the world’s peace, desires to point out that none of the provisions of the Covenant has been violated by either Italy or Abyssinia. The Government feels that discussion on these matters should not, at this juncture, assume that either of these countries will violate any of its obligations in this regard. It therefore seems unwise either to anticipate any breach, or to announce in advance the course of action to be followed by the Commonwealth Government in contingencies the nature and circumstances of which cannot at present be foreseen. While fully recognizing the gravity of the present situation, the Government holds very strongly that it ought not, either by word or by action, to embarrass those who are earnestly striving to effect a peaceful settlement. I lay on the table the following paper:–

Italo-Abyssinian Dispute - Ministerial Statement. and move -

That the paper bo printed.


– Australia has been looking to the Prime Minister to make a definite pronouncement as to the attitude of his Government on the Abyssinian crisis. The other dominions outlined their attitude weeks ago. On the 8th September the Prime Minister of Canada was reported to have said, “ Canadians will not be embroiled in any foreign quarrel in which the rights of Canadians are not involved. We have bought and paid for security and peace and we mean to have them “. The Defence Minister for South Africa stated that no son of that country would fire a shot without the people being consulted.

As uncontradicted statements appeared in -the press that Australia had been committed right “ up to the hilt,” there was a growing feeling that the Federal Government had blundered into a decision that might involve Australia in war.

While the Australian Labour Party’s platform provides for adequate home defence against foreign aggression, it also contains a proviso against raising forces -for service outside the Commonwealth, or participation, or promise of participation, in any future overseas war, except by decision of the people.

Although I admire the efforts of countries that have been striving to settle the dispute in a peaceful manner, and particularly the way in which Great Britain has endeavoured to have conciliation used in this dispute, I strongly hold the view that Australia should not allow the statesmen of any other country to determine this country’s course of action. The Federal Go- eminent should instruct its delegate at Geneva that Australia will not be a party to war. Surely there is no more reason why Australia should become involved to-day than when four provinces were wrested from China by an original member of the League of Nations. If it were not for the oil-fields of Abyssinia, and other rich natural resources desired by great vested interests, there would not be these mad manoeuvrings for war. There would be the same apathy as was shown regarding the invasion of Manchuria.

Only recently it was announced that Abyssinia had sold the rights to exploit the oil wealth of the country to American and British interests. The price to be paid was £10,000,000. Under pressure, however, the concessionaires withdrew. It is immaterial to the masses of the people of Australia how those oil-fields are eventually distributed. Therefore we should keep out of this sordid quarrel over mineral and other wealth. I sincerely hope that war will be averted; the control of Abyssinia by any country is not worth the loss of one Australian life.

While the Australian Labour party ia opposed to Australia’s participation iu a foreign war over Abyssinia, it does not for one moment seek to justify Italy’s attitude. We should remember the price of the last war when 7,000,000 lives were lost, and the financial cost was £40,000,000,000. The price Great Britain had to pay for the holocaust was a war debt’ of £7,500,000,000. The cost to Australia, according to the last Commonwealth Year-Book, amounted to £812,000,000, including expenditure from war loans, and expenditure from Consolidated Revenue. The annual interest bill as the direct result is £8,000,000. There ‘were also 60,000 Australians killed, and 160,000 wounded. In addition to the tremendous burden of debt and interest, hundreds of thousands of our people were plunged into an abyss of grief and misery by the loss of their loved ones on the battlefields of France and Gallipoli. Many of the economic problems weighing down the world to-day are the direct, outcome of the last war, which left a trail of misery unparalleled in history. Although we were told that it was a war to end war, the world to-day is on the edge of another grave cataclysm.

The attitude of the Australian Labour Party is clear and unequivocal. It wants no war on foreign fields for economic treasure. It wants Australia to be kept free of the entanglements leading to a repetition of the horrors of 1914-18. Therefore, the Australian Labour Party, for which I speak to-day, says - “ Nonparticipation “.

West Sydney

– While I appreciate this opporunity to discuss the . very perilous position in which Australia finds itself to-day, I want to make it clear that I bad intended to use all the forms of the House to enable this Parliament to learn exactly to what it has been committed by the Government. The carefully guarded statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) will satisfy no one. It is too late to indulge in verbal parrying ; the people of this country demand to know the truth. The language of Downing Street is not the language of Australia, and the one thing that the people of this country must know is - Has the Government committed Australia to participation in a second world war?

The time for legal and academic discussion regarding the obligations of international treaties is past. The Prime Minister has spoken of our obligations as a member of the League of Nations; he has dwelt, on the times of grave concern that Cabinet has passed through; he has asked for patience, and confidence in the Government; but he has not given the people of this country one valid or tangible reason why Australia should be involved in another war.

Australia does not want another war. We cannot afford another war. Above all, we cannot afford another Cenotaph, and all the stark misery, tragedy, and pitiless devastation that a Cenotaph symbolizes.

To-day, when this Parliament meets in the shadow of war, the Prime Minister makes a belated and futile pretence that he is taking the people into his confidence. But he has not told of the secret negotiations, the deliberations regarding steps to be taken in certain eventualities, and above all of the definite commitments entered into on behalf of Australia. For the last two years while this Government - this War Government - has been making definite preparations for participation in war, the people have been refused any information regarding those commitments. But to-day there is a nation-wide anxiety, and 1 warn the Government that side by side with that anxiety, there is a growing determination on the part of the people not 1o allow themselves to be fooled into another international war under the pretence of carrying out obligations that have no legitimate claim upon them.

In the war that ended seventeen years ago, the people of Australia learned a lesson that they have not forgotten. If there is to be war - as now appears inevitable - this nation must take the onlyaction that will save its people from physical and economic extinction; it must declare and maintain a policy of absolute isolation, and strict neutrality.

With the wars of imperialism it can have no concern. The workers of every nation that participated in the last war suffered the one fate; for them there was no victory.

The Mediterranean to-day is a cock-pit with threatening guns everywhere in readiness, and death ready to rain from the skies. In the middle of that bedlam of international lunacy there is an Australian ship, the Australia, manned by a crew of 400 Australians. It has been decoyed there by Imperial intrigue, and is in a position to be shot at, and may be sunk, at the first outbreak of hostilities. This Government, and this Government only, must shoulder the responsibility for allowing that cruiser, and those 400 young Australians, to be made unwitting victims in a European struggle for supremacy. The Prime Minister may talk about the anxiety he and his Ministers have experienced during the critical weeks that have passed, but not a word has he spoken of the anxiety of the mothers, the wives and the children, here in Australia, of the men who have been sent by the British Admiralty right into the war zone. The Australia must be recalled! If the life of one sailor is lost, his blood will be on the heads of the members of this Government. The Prime Minister’s statement has not eased the anxiety of those who fear for the safety of members of the Australia’s crew. Later I shall deal with the direct culpability of the Government in allowing the Australia, to leave Australian waters. Every member in this House has a personal responsibility, and cannot hide behind the Government. Parliament must exercise its rights, and instruct the Minister for Defence to terminate any agreement with the British Admiralty by ordering the Australia to return without a moment’s delay.

Twenty-one years ago we entered a “ war to end war “ ; “a war to save the world for democracy “ ; “a war to preserve the sanctity of treaties “. The Germanic cousins of the British people had suddenly become Huns, and Australia was invited to send the flower of its manhood to fight overseas. We were told that we must enter that war to prevent a treaty from becoming a “ scrap of paper “. An eminent member of this Parliament and a leader of a Federal Government pledged Australia to the last man and to the last shilling to win the war that was to end war, and to save the world for democracy.

The death of an archduke was to lead to the death of 11.000,000 men, the maiming of another 25,000,000, and a war bill for the nations of £45,000,000,000. Sixty thousand vigorous young Australians, who left these shores believing all the cant of the jingoists, the promises of the flagflapping profiteers, and the lies of the recruiting sergeants, never returned. Thousands of others came back broken and maimed. Australia spent £S00,000,000 in the belief that it was keeping a treaty from becoming a “ scrap of paper “, but it was only a terrible illusion. It was just another sordid trade war, and the European system of politics in which everything depends upon the balance of power had once again exacted a terrible toll under the guise of idealism.

Now the balance is disturbed once more. Are we going to desecrate those memorial halls that are scattered throughout this young nation by sending another generation of Australian youth to die for trade ‘i Once again the war lords of Europe are ready for war, and this Parliament to-day is facing the greatest crisis in its history. This time they do not tell us that it is to be “ a war to end war “, but it can be gathered from the propaganda that this time it is to be “ a war to prevent war”. What arrant hypocrisy!

Because Italy proposes to carry on just as every other imperialist power has carried on for centuries, Australian youths are likely to be conscripted for service overseas. That is the position, garb it as we may in fancy phrases, that is confronting Australia to-day. Once again we are told that a treaty must not become “ a scrap of paper “. We must, it is said, rally to the League of Nations, although its covenant has been a scrap of paper ever since it was firstaccepted by the major powers as a means of keeping what they obtained by way of trade advantage, colonial possessions, and supplies of raw materials as the result of their participation in the first world war. Whenever it has suited the purpose of the major powers to ignore their undertakings under the League Covenant they have done so. For seventeen years nations have flouted the League Covenant, have entered into pacts opposed to all the principles of the League, and have gone to war in defiance of the League. Yet all at once a minor incident in an Abyssinian desert, the circumstances of which are unknown even to the members of this Government, let alone to the people of Australia, is to be employed as an excuse for dragging Australia into another world war. It would be an act of lunacy, and the Government that commits it will be guilty of a criminal act.

What is behind it all? Three powers have economic interests at stake in Abyssinia - Great Britain, France and Italy. Abyssinia is the last African Kingdom with a semblance of independence, but for 40 years those three powers have intrigued and manoeuvred to secure a dominant interest when the partition of Abyssinia takes place. They have entered into undertakings with one another and then double-crossed one another. The imperialists have been anxious all the time to get their hands upon the rich minerals, the cotton lands and the oil resources. Any war over Abyssinia will be merely a war to secure economic supremacy. Surely the League was never intended to be used as a pawn in a sordid trade war ?

What country represented at Geneva comes into this dispute with clean hands? Three years ago Japan set out on a policy of imperialism to seize Manchuria from China. China appealed to the League to intervene, but Britain, France and Italy forgot their League Covenant and very conveniently allowed Japan to proceed with its conquest. Finally, Japan did exactly what Italy now threatens to do. It refused to recognize the League and withdrew from Geneva. Is there one honorable member in this House who was prepared even to suggest that Australia should go to war with Japan? Then why this humbug about going to war in this instance? Britain and France and the other members of the League did not consider that their economic privileges were at stake in Manchuria. There was therefore no war in the Pacific.

Next came the Gran Chaco war between two South American States - Bolivia and Paraguay. In that instance great oil trusts of the world were fighting one another. The League was asked to intervene, but for two years Geneva kept talking and talking and doing nothing, while a war was being waged resulting in tens of thousands of lives being lost. As soon as it decided to apply an embargo on munitions Paraguay defied the League and withdrew from its membership. There was no talk about applying sanctions against Paraguay, no talk about applying sanctions against Japan. Why then this sudden zeal for sanctions in this instance?

Finally let us consider a recent event involving Britain itself. Abyssinia first asked the League to intervene on the 14th December - ten months ago - but as at that time Britain, France and Italy were busily arranging the Stresa Pact as a move against Hitler, Geneva turned a deaf ear to Abyssinia. Then on the 16th March, Hitler decided to scrap the Treaty of Versailles by announcing that he proposed to re-arm and to introduce conscription in Germany. This being a direct violation of the League Covenant, the League Council was called together on the 16th April. France sought to get the League to apply sanctions against Hitler - in other words, to maintain its customary attitude of safeguarding the rights of the nations that triumphed in the first world war. But, as British Cabinet Ministers had visited Berlin in order to interview Hitler, Britain was no longer enthusiastic about sanctions. Eminent authorities were cited to show’ that sanctions could not be applied. On the 17th April the League Council passed a pious resolution declaring that Germany by its uni-lateral action had violated the League Covenant. But it refrained from applying sanctions against Germany. Instead, it appointed a committee consisting of the representatives of Britain, France, Italy, Canada, the Soviet Union, and seven smaller nations, to prepare a report regarding what steps should be taken in the future to apply sanctions in terms of Article 16 of the Covenant. That committee, consisting of international lawyers, has reported to Geneva that the League- Covenant is a mass of hopeless inconsistencies and contradictions and that it would be impossible to apply sanctions of an economic and financial character. That report should have been placed on the League Council’s table as soon as the Italo-Abyssinian dispute began to assume such a grim significance. It should certainly have been forwarded by Mr. Bruce to this Government, and if the Prime Minister has received it I ask him to lay it upon the table of this House.

The League definitely declared that Germany’s re-armament was a violation of the Covenant, yet Britain on the 18th June signed the Anglo-German Naval Agreement repudiating the Treaty of Versailles and recognizing Germany’s right to join in the naval race. Thus, if the League Covenant is being violated by Italy’s attitude towards Abyssinia it was also violated in specific instances in which there was no demand for sanctions.

The Prime Minister has been carefully evasive in his review of the situation and has given not the slightest indication as to the nature of the commitments entered into by his Government. Australia has been represented ou the League Council by Mr. S. M. Bruce and apparently he has had an open mandate. If this mandate puts Australia into the war, this Parliament must get it out of it. The actual sequence of events at Geneva up to the present stage is too well-known to require recapitulation ; but what has happened behind the scenes, while the Imperialists have been bartering the future of Abyssinia and endeavouring to obtain the lion’s share of its economic wealth? This has not been, and probably never will be disclosed. All we know is that the British Home Fleet has suddenly appeared in the Mediterranean, that Italy has massed its aerial strength in Sicily, and that the present atmosphere of Europe is so threatening that the first false move is certain to precipitate a world war. The Prime Minister, without consulting this Parliament, pledged Australia “ up to the hilt “. In 1914 it was the last man and the last shilling - today, it is “ up to the hilt “.

The Labour movement is determined to resist war at all costs. It will never consent to the sacrifice of Australians in a war of imperialism, however disguised that may be, nor will it consent to the burdening of future generations with another pyramid of debt in order that British, French or Italian capitalists may obtain valuable economic advantages for themselves in Abyssinia. Not one Australian soldier must leave these shores, and the Government that takes any action to involve Australia in entanglements overseas of such a nature will open wide the gates of discontent and disorder in Australia itself.

We have heard the legal definitions of the alleged undertakings we have entered into through our membership of the League. But the Prime Minister did not stress the fact that the League has ceased to be a league of all the nations, and that, on the contrary, it has become a political machine of the dominant powers of which Britain, France and the Soviet Union are the chief supporters.

Now, what are these sanctions? The League Covenant provides that any action must have the unanimous support of the League Council and provides for a definite breathing space of three months, yet the Mediterranean, during the past week, has been turned into a war zone with both sides drawn up in full array awaiting only the signal for action. Forget all the legal jargon, and consider the position as it exists and one realizes, as this country realizes, that sanctions mean war.

Australia holds a vital position on the League Council. By its vote it can declare for or against war. Not only can that vote keep Australia out of war; it can also be used as the means of averting a second world war. If Australia opposes sanctions then there cannot be war, and so dreadful are the consequences of another carnage involving all civilization that its vote must be given against war. The United States of America has long realized the dangers of being associated with international intrigue, the armed alliances and the practices of secret diplomacy in Europe, and has declared a policy of absolute neutrality. The administration was deprived of the rightto involve the country in war. Similarly, in Australia the time has arrived when this Parliament must declare that under no circumstance will it stand for any administrative act that is likely to involve the Commonwealth in external conflict.

Labour declares its pol:ev to be one o1” absolute isolation from r ie wars of imperialism, and specifically it <u .1 r«»that it will not support a war camouflaged as sanctions.

The sanctions which are. to be invoked to coerce Italy are provided for in Article 16 of the Covenant. As early a* the 3rd August, Mr. Eden stated that Britain had “ named the day “ when it would have to discharge its obligations under that article. There are four paragraphs in that fateful article. The first declares that any member of the League which goes to war in disregard of its covenants under Articles 12, 13 or 15, will be regarded as having committed an act of war against all other members of the League. If Australia endorses that interpretation in the present instance then the first move against Italy must automatically become an act of war. The paragraph further provides that the members of the League must sever all trade and financial relations, prohibit any intercourse between their people and the people of the offending state and, otherwise, break off diplomatic relations.

It is the second paragraph, however, that contains the most ominous threat to the peace of Australia. It reads -

It shall be the duty of the Council in such cases to recommend to the several Governments concerned what effective military, naval or air force the members of the League shall severally contribute to the armed forces to be used to protect the Covenants of the League.

That means that Australian troops would be called upon for service overseas; it mean8 war for Australia; it means conscription !

The third paragraph deals with the financial and economic measures. Their position in the article implies that they are obviously regarded as subordinate to the application of armed force in the carrying out of its provisions. The lawyers have already declared that the economic and financial sanctions are impossible. Indeed, the present position indicates that Britain itself realizes that sanctions can only mean armed force.

Even the British Prime Minister, Mr. Baldwin, admitted that sanctions meant war when, just over a year ago, he declared in the House of Commons : -

There is no such thing as a sanction l’ 11 will work that does not mean war. in other words if you are going to adopt a yaction you must bc prepared for war.

Sanctions have never been applied i-. the past, however great the offence, and the present attempt to invoke them is merely the elimination of the arms race fomented by the people whose one interest is to make a profit out of war.

Finally we come to the part played by the Commonwealth Government. It boasts of the fact that it is spending £8,000,000 on war preparedness when it could do nothing for the unemployed or give any practical assistance to bankrupt primary producers. From the first day the United Australia patty Government was returned to office, it became involved in the sinister secret diplomacy that inevitably leads to war. Mothers who lost their sons in the last war do not yet understand the strange friendship between Britain and Germany hecause they do not understand that the British and American financiers have such a large stake invested in that country. The people of this country have clung desperately to the one consoling thought that the horror of 1914-1918 was the war that ended war. They believed that the 60,000 men had not died in vain and that with the dread horrors of modern science applied to the discovery of revolting new gases, no government would commit its people to another war. But just as Kitchener, Admiral Henderson and Sir Ian Hamilton visited Australia to prepare it for the last war, so have Sir Maurice Hankey, Lord Milne and Lord Sempill visited the Commonwealth during the last three years in order to consult with the defence authorities for Australia’s participation in a second world war. The British prime Minister at the time of that visit, Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, actually declared in the House of Commons that Sir Maurice Hankey was visiting the Commonwealth only for the Centenary celebrations and that his visit had no political significance. That statement was a lie. The Commonwealth Government knew it was a lie, yet it allowed it to be fed to the people of Australia and Britain.

Are we to have a war based on lies such as that? Secret diplomacy had always been founded upon lies, and every war has been brought about by such methods.

The Prime Minister has not told this’ House of what transpired at the sessions of the Committee of Imperial Defence in London on the 9th May. “We were told that they were merely taking precautions, having available both a fire brigade and a water supply lest a conflagration should arise.

Apparently Australia is to be one of the reservoirs; its man power is to provide the fire brigade to be sent to a conflagration from which there can be no return. The moment the Prime Minister attended that secret conference be forfeited the confidence of the majority of the people of this country. I challenge him to declare frankly that he did not on that occasion discuss the possibility of war in Europe and Australia’s participation in it. The agenda of that conference was certainly not the sole concern of any one man in Australia. It may well prove to have been the death warrant of thousands of young Australians.

The facts regarding the Australia also have been concealed from this House and the country. It is not sufficient to explain that this unit of our fleet is on exchange duty with the Sussex. Its movements were directed by the British Admiralty in such a way that its former itinerary was jettisoned and it became one- of the units participating in the Mediterranean war manoeuvres. After its departure from Gibraltar it sailed under sealed orders. The official statement issued by the Admiralty announced that it was originally proposed that the squadron should cruise among the Greek Islands; but recent events have resulted in an amended programme, the details of which have not been disclosed.

The British Admiralty has used the Australia and its crew to compromise this country, and this government has either permitted such action or is ignorant of what is happening to the Australia. The

Australian people demand the immediate recall of the vessel before Australian blood is spilt in the Mediterranean.

On the 12th November last, in addressing the Royal Institute of International Affairs, General Smuts declared :

The League’s fate would be sealed in the event of any attempt being made to transform it into a military machine or a system to carry on war for the purpose of preventing war. The Dominions would not remain in the League if they had to pledge themselves to fight in the Old World’s wars. If the Dominions resigned from the League, Britain would be bound to follow.

The League’s fate has already been, sealed. An attempt is now being made to transform it into a military machine, and Australia must withdraw from it. Germany, Japan, and the United States of America are already out of the League, and this country must accept full responsibility by taking a step that not only will keep it out of war, but also will materially help to maintain peace in Europe. Under no circumstances must Mr. Bruce’s vote at Geneva be given for sanctions and for war. That is the responsibility of the Government; his vote is its vote.

Had conscription been carried in 1916 there would have been strife and disorder in Australia with members of the one family fighting against one another. Such a situation cannot be allowed to develop again. Just as the Labour movement then saved Australia from conscription, so will it fight now to prevent its intervention in any imperialistic war. Australian lives are too sacred to be wantonly pledged to participation in another European war-. The Labour movement emphatically affirms that in no circumstances will it consent to the despatch of a single soldier to a foreign battlefield.

Australia cannot afford another war. It cannot afford another war cemetery in Europe. It will not have another “ Shrine of Remembrance “. I move a3 an amendment -

That all the words after the word “ That “ be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: “ t1 is Parliament records grave concern and its profound horror at the prospect of a second world war developing out of the conflict of Imperial trading interests, and expresses its unflinching determination not to allow Australia to become involved, under any circumstances, notwithstanding any decision recorded at the League of Nations Council.

It views with alarm the action of the British Admiralty in despatching H.M.A.S. Australia, with an Australian crew, to the war zone, and requests the immediate recall of that vessel to Australian waters, under the direct control of the Federal Defence Department.

It formally declares the neutrality of Australia, and instructs the Government to take all necessary steps to preserve such neutrality.

It declares that it will not support the application of sanctions under article 16, or contribute a quota of military, naval and air force strength to an armed force for such purposes, assuch action would involve Australia in war “.


– Is the ‘ amendment seconded ?

East Sydney

– I second the amendment.

Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) put -

That the debate be now adjourned.

The House divided. (Mb. Speaker - Hon. G. j. Bell.)

In, division:


NOES: 24

Majority . . . . 16



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Debate adjourned.

Prime Minister · Wilmot · UAP

– I give the House the assurance that the Government has no intention of preventing the discussion of this matter, which is of vital importance to every member. The adjournment of the debate at this stage is merely for the purpose of introducing the budget and of disposing of very urgent matters. The debate will be resumed at the earliest practicable moment.


– I shall now deal with the point that was raised first by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and later by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James). It appears that I may have misunderstood the intentions of the honorable member for East Sydney. It has been the custom for an honorable member merely to second the motion formally and not to proceed with his speech until later. When I called for a seconder of the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) the honorable member for East Sydney seconded it and then sat down. I thereupon put the amendment, and gave the call to the Minister’ for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page), who had risen before any other member. Strictly speaking, the honorable member for East Sydney had the right to speak when seconding the motion.

page 43



– I give notice that tomorrow I shall move -

That this House strongly condemns the Government for -

Its flagrant neglect of its duty to the people by failing to call Parliament together for more than 39 days in twelve months;

Not having met Parliament earlier, thereby prejudicing Parliamentary control over taxation and expenditure, by necessitating the passage of a further Supply Bill before the budget can be passed.

Its failure to provide and put into effect a bold progressive policy to deal with the unemployment problem on a national basis.

Its irresponsible attitude to the drift that is taking place in the overseas trade balance.

Its failure to formulate a permanent plan for the relief of the primary producers.


– It is usual, when notice is given of a motion in terms such as those of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde), for the Parliament to adjourn until the following day. But, having announced that the budget speech, which is of very great importance to the people, would be delivered to-day, I consider it desirable to place it before honorable members so that they may be in a better position to discuss the actions and the policy of the Government. I, however, propose that no business other than the reading of the financial statement shall be taken to-day, and that, it having been presented, Parliament will adjourn until to-morrow, when the motion, of which notice has been given, will be first dealt with.

page 43


Petition by Western Australia.


– I lay on the tableCopy of the report by the Joint Committee of the House of Lords and the House of Commons appointed to consider the petition of the State of Western Australia.

page 43


The following papers were presented:

Commonwealth Bank Act - Balance-sheets of Commonwealth Bank and Commonwealth Savings Bank and Statement of the Liabilities and Assets of the Note Issue Department, as at 30th June, 1935; together with Auditor-General’sReports thereon.

Nauru - Report to the Council of the League of Nations on the Administration of Nauru for year 1934.

New Guinea - Report to the Council of the League of Nations on the Administration of theTerritory of New Guinea for year 1933-34.

Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1935 -

No. 5 - Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.

No. 6 - Meat Inspectors’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.

No. 7 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia.

No. 8 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.

Nos. 9 and 10 - Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia.

No. 11 - Commonwealth Foremen’s Association.

No. 12 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.

No. 13 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia.

No. 14 - Meat Inspector’s Association,

Commonwealth Public Service.

No. 15 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia and others.

Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal - Report for year 1934-35.

Bankruptcy Act - Rules amended - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 34.

Contract Immigrants Act - Return foryear 1934.

Cotton Industries Bounty Act and Raw Cotton Bounty Act - Return for year 1934-35.

Customs Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1935, Nos. 41,69.

Defence Act - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1935, Nos. 37, 43, 49, 50, 60, 83.

Designs Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 73.

Flax and Linseed Bounties Act - Return for year 1934-35.

Immigration Act - Return for year 1934.

Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 57.

Judiciary Act - Rules of Court - Dated - 17th May, 1935. 19thJuly. 1935.

Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at or in -

Booroomba Parish, Federal Capital Territory - In connexion with establishment of Seat of Government.

Bullsbrook, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.

Burra Parish (2), Territory for Seat of Government - In connexion with establishment of Seat of Government.

Cumnock, New South Wales - For postal, telegraphic, telephonic and other like services.

Dooen, Victoria - For postal, telegraphic, telephonic, and other like services.

Frenchville, Queensland - For Defence purposes.

Maylands, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.

Nedlands, Western Australia - For postal, telegraphic, telephonic and other like services.

Werribee, Victoria - For Defence purposes.

Woodside, South Australia - For Defence purposes.

Maternity Allowance Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1935, Nos. 38, 40, 56

National Debt Sinking Fund Act- National Debt Commission - Twelfth Annual Report, for year 1934-35.

Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules . 1935, Nos. 35, 3d. 42. 55, 59, 74, 86, 87.

Navigation Act - Regulations amended, &c. -Statutorv Rules ‘1935, Nos. 39,61, 62. 64, 66, 75,76, 81.

Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act-

Ordinances of 1935 -

No. 2 - Gold Buyers.

No. 3 - Mining.

No. 4 - Crown Lands.

No. 5 - Licensing.

No. 6 - Police and Police Offences.

No. 7 - Mining (No. 2).

No. 8 - Foreign Companies.

No. 9 - Prisons.

No. 10 - Hire-purchase Agreements.

Regulations amended, &c, under - Medical Practitioners Registration Ordinance.

Pearling Ordinance (2).

Papua Act - Infirm and Destitute Natives’

Account - Statement of Transactions of Trustees for year 1934-35.

Papua and New Guinea Bounties Act - Return for year 1934-35.

Patents Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1935, Nos. 45, 67. 90.

Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1935, Nos. 53, 70, 77, 80.

Public Service Act -

Appointments of -

T. J. Brown, Attorney-General’s Department.

Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1935, Nos. 44, 54, 72, 78.

Quarantine Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 71.

Railways Act - By-laws Nos. 68, 69.

Sales Tax Assessment Acts (Nos. 1 to 9) - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 51.

Sales Tax Procedure Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 52.

Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act-

Ordinances of 1935 -

No. 5 - Electrioal Interference.

No. 6 - Lotteries and Art Unions.

No. 7 - Fish Protection.

No. 8 - Hawkers.

No. 9 - Business Names.

No. 10 - Liquor.

No. 11- Liquor (No. 2).

No. 12 - Canberra Community Hospital Board.

No. 13 - Hospital Tax.

Regulations amended, &c, under -

Advisory Council Ordinance.

Canberra Community Hospital Board Ordinance.

Fish Protection Ordinance.

Public Health Ordinance (Dairy).

Workmen’s Compensation Ordinance.

Spirits Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 68.

Sulphur Bounty Act - Return for year 1934-35.

Transport Workers Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1935, Nos. 46, 79.

War Service Homes Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1935, Nos. 58, 82.

Wine Export Bounty Act - Return for year 1934-35.

Sitting suspended from 6.19 to 8 p.m.

page 44


Messages reported transmitting estimates of revenue and expenditure and estimates of expenditure for additions, new works, buildings, &c, for the year ending the 30th June, 1936, and recommending appropriations accordingly.

Ordered to be printed and referred to the Committee of Supply.

page 45

BUDGET 1935-36

In Committee of Supply :

Assistant Treasurer · Corio · UAP

– In the first budget speech which it is my privilege to make, it is appropriate that, before dealing with the Estimates of the current year, I should refer to the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), delivered in August, 1934, and review briefly the economic situation, both externally and internally, since that date.

It will be remembered that the Prime Minister dealt with the effects of government policy on national prosperity. He deprecated proposals for unorthodox and dangerous experiments in finance and emphasized the importance of public confidence. He stated that the Government would continue its policy of sound finance in order to maintain the confidence that it had already restored, and would use unremitting efforts to improve the internal position.

The Prime Minister further stated that a complete return to the conditions that existed prior to the depression was not to be expected until there was a general world recovery and a revival of international trade. With regard to unemployment, he statedthat although there had been very considerable improvement, the Government was not satisfied with the existing position and, if returned to power, would make still further efforts to improve the situation.

Since its return to power the Government, by adherence to its policy of sound finance, has encouraged private enterprise to expand and to absorb increasing numbers of those who were unfortunately unemployed. At the same time, it has given special attention to the relief of unemployment by the extension of public works. Moneys were raised by the Commonwealth and made available to the States to assist in providing employment and the Commonwealth also increased its own expenditure on public works where it was practicable so to do. It is gratifying to record that the year showed a gradual improvement in the unemployment position, proof of which I shall tender later.

Export Prices

Largely dependent as we are for our prosperity upon export prices, it is appropriate to review the position during the year and the present outlook. During 1933- 34 wool had a spectacular rise in price, and the value of the wool clip for that year was £62,300,000. This was an important factor in improving the internal position of Australia, and in replenishing our London funds. In the year 1934- 35, wool prices fell appreciably, and the value of the clip was estimated at £41,900,000. Despite this drop in prices, the year just closed was influenced to some extent by the higher price of wool in the preceding season. This was reflected both in the general spending power of the community, and in the consequent stimulation of factory production. The outlook for wool for the present season is brighter and the sales to date have been on a higher level than the average of last season. If present indications are maintained we may expect to receive this year possibly from six to eight million pounds more for our wool than was received last year.

In the last quarter butter has shown a very marked improvement, the export parity now being 119s. per cwt. as compared with 78s. at this time last year.

The weighted average price of wheat for the period December, 1934, to August, 1935, was 2s.111/2d. a bushel at principal Australian ports. Recently the price of wheat has shown an appreciable increase, the present price being 3s. 81/2d. a bushel.

The prices of the principal non-ferrous metals in which Australia is interested, and of several other products, have also shown noticable improvement.

Taking the index number of Australian export prices in 1928 as 1,000, the following comparison shows the fluctuations since : -

At the present time the index number is considerably higher than in August.

Australia has been favoured in recent weeks by copious rains over wide areas. Our outlook is correspondingly brighter.

Internal Recovery

Notwithstanding the fall in the price of wool, the improvement in employment, which began shortly after the previous Lyons Government came into office, continued during the last year. The percentage of unemployment reported by the trade unions to the Commonwealth Statistician reached its highest level - 30 per cent. - in the second quarter of 1932. Since then there has been a continuous improvement, the corresponding figures being -

The Commonwealth Statistician has not yet received all the returns from trade unions on which to base his calculations for the percentage of unemployment for the third quarter of 1935. But based on the returns so far available, it is clear that the percentage of unemployment is now below 16 per cent. The Statistician will publish the figures as soon as they are available.

Though these percentages are based only on proportion of employable persons, the improvement they indicate is confirmed from other sources, notably the census returns.

The general improvement is also reflected in savings bank deposits which increased from £193,000,000 in June, 1931, to £210,000,000 in June, 1934, and £218,000,000 in June, 1935.

The continuous increase in confidence and activity in the community is further reflected in the building industry. The total value of all building operations in the capital cities increased as follows: -

Overseas Trade

The main feature of the overseas trade position for 1934-35 was the increase in value of imports, which reached £72,500,000 sterling as compared with £60,000,000 sterling for the previous year. This increase reflects the greater purchasing power of the Australian community. It is also an indication of the revival of trade in Australia, with consequent demands for further raw materials and machinery.

Of the £12,500,000 increase in imports, £10,000,000 is accounted for by increased imports of non-competitive goods including machinery, textiles (other than woollen textiles) and motor vehicles, as well as some luxury items.

In this connexion it is interesting to note the increased number of factory employees in Australia in the last three year3. The figures are as follows: -

On the other hand, exports declined from £97,000,000 in 1933-34 to £89,000,000 in 1934-35, the decrease being due almost wholly *6 the fall in the value of the wool clip.

In 1933-34 there was a favorable commodity balance of £37,000,000, which left a large surplus of London funds after meeting overseas obligations. For 1934-35 the favorable balance was £16,000,000, which was insufficient to meet the interest and other overseas payments and made it necessary to draw on reserves.

Influenced as we are by changing conditions overseas, particularly in the matter of export prices, it would be unreasonable to expect regular and even results in our annual external trade. Publications of annual figures are apt to be misleading, as the high exports of one year are reflected by higher imports of the succeeding year, and vice versa. Then is a normal ebb and flow in London balances and it is quite clear that we were amply supplied with funds to meet the debit balance of 1934-35. Our position last year was adversely affected by the repatriation of fugitive overseas funds and by abnormally heavy outward tourist traffic. These adverse factors will not operate this year. On the other hand the prospects for a substantial increase in the value of our exports of primary products are promising, and it is reasonable to expect that the year will see an increase of our London funds.

Public Debt

London Conversions

During 1934-35 two additional conversion operations were carried out in London. These covered loan issues which matured during the year and others over which options of maturity were held.

The following is a complete list of conversions from October, 1932, to July, 1935 : -

It will be seen that the total conversions since October, 1932, now exceed £160,000,000 - representing approximately 37 per cent, of the Australian securities held by the public in the United Kingdom. The average rate of interest on the issues dealt with decreased from £5 2s. 7d. per cent, to £3 13s. 5d. per cent. - a reduction of practically 11/2 per cent. The savings amount to - interest £2,341,000, exchange £594,000, a total of £2,935,000 per annum. Of this annual saving the Commonwealth share is £782,000 and the States £2,153,000.

The terms of conversion obtained during the year continued to show a progressive improvement over earlier issues. Commencing in October, 1932, and February, 1933, with conversions at yields of slightly over 4 per cent., the rates have improved in our favour to 31/4 per cent, for the long-term loan issued in January, 1935, and to 3 per cent, for the short-term issue in July, 1935.

Future Conversions in London.

The following table shows the loans, domiciled in London, with definite or optional dates of maturity up to 31st December, 1939:-

With the exception of the first four items, the London issues falling due within the next few years bear comparatively low rates of interest.

Short-Term Debt - London

Last year the Commonwealth Bank took up the whole of the £3,500,000 of treasury-bills previously held in London by the Westminster Bank. On transfer, the rate of interest on these bills was reduced by one-half per cent. The shortterm debt in London is now carried wholly by the Commonwealth Bank.

Since the close of the financial year, an amount of £250,000 of these bills has been redeemed from the sinking fund.

Internal Debt

Since the national debt conversion in July, 1931, six new loans have been raised by the Loan Council in Australia for State and Commonwealth purposes : -

During 1934-35, treasury-bills totalling £3,846,000 were issued to finance the deficits of the States and were funded during the year. Loan services continue to be financed by funded loans. The total volume of treasury-bills now outstanding is less than in December, 1932.

The prices of Commonwealth stocks in Australia have decreased during the present calendar year, and the June loan resulted in underwriters being called upon to find £1,673,000 of the total of £12,500,000.

National Debt Sinking Fund

Payments by the Commonwealth and State Governments to the national debt sinking fund have steadily grown for many years. It is not generally appreciated how substantial is the provision now being made for the redemption of the public debt of Australia.

The receipts of the national debt sinking fund for 1935-36 will approximate £9,100,000, of which £4,100,000 will accrue to the Common wealth sinking fund and £5,000,000 to the State sinking funds. The total of £9,100,000 is more than double the anticipated amount of States’ deficits for the year.

The receipts of the sinking fund, both Commonwealth and States, are used solely for debt redemption. The greater part of the moneys available is used in the purchase of Australian Government securities in the open markets in Australia’, London and New York. This process progressively reduces our capital indebtedness, ensures a regular market for security holders, maintains a steadying influence on prices, and adds to the attractiveness of Government securities as an investment.

Commonwealth and State Debts

The following statement shows the movement of the public debt since 30th June, 1932:-

The increase in the aggregate public debt of the Commonwealth and the States in the three-year period was approximately £54,300,000. State debts increased by £59,000,000, while Commonwealth debt decreased by £4,700,000.

The short-term debt included in the above aggregate public debt was as follows : -

Of the short-term debt, £33,625,000 is domiciled in’ London, and is wholly held by the Commonwealth Rank, whilst £45,124,000 is domiciled in Australia.

It must be remembered that in Australia, Commonwealth and State governments and semi-governmental authorities provide many public services which in most other countries are provided largely by private enterprise. These services include railways and tramways, telegraphs and telephones, wireless broadcasting, water conservation and supply, port and harbour facilities, electricity supply, housing and public utilities generally. The public debt of Australia thus includes the capital cost of extensive public services not included in the public debts of countries where developmental expenditure and services of this nature are left to private enterprise.

The fact that a number of public services are financed from the loan funds of governments in Australia makes it necessary, apart from the unemployment aspect, for the governments to expend annually a certain amount of loan money to meet the increasing needs of the community. The Commonwealth Government’s policy is to finance new works from revenue, wherever practicable, so as to leave the loan market, as far as possible, to the State governments. Nevertheless, there are important Commonwealth activities which can only be properly provided for out of loans, and consequently we must approach the loan market for some of our requirements.

The common practice of referring to the “ ever-increasing interest bill on our national debt “ makes it necessary to invite attention to the facts. In 1921-22 the aggregate interest bill on Commonwealth and. State public debt represented £7 9s. 4d. per bead of the population. For 1935-36, the corresponding figure is £7 8s. Id. These figures include all longterm and short-term debt and all exchange charges.

Financial Year 1934-35

The following table gives the estimated, and the actual, revenue and ordinary expenditure for last year : -

In addition to the ordinary expenditure the following special payments were made out of excess revenue of previous years in accordance with proposals which were announced when the last budget was brought down : -

The improvement in revenue was principally under the following heads: -

These figures were partly set off by a decrease in miscellaneous revenue of £377,000.

In addition, the flour tax, which was imposed after the budget, yielded £798,000.

In the Postmaster-General’s Department, the revenue exceeded the estimate by £565,000, whilst the expenditure was £106,000 below the estimate - a net improvement of £671,000.

The increased yields of revenue reflect the general improvement of conditions in Australia during the past year. The high prices of wool ruling during the previous season - though they were not maintained in the 1934-35 season - contributed to this improvement. Customs and excise revenue was especially buoyant.

The expenditure of the year includes £4,066,000 provided, after the budget was introduced, for relief to wheat-growers. Of this sum, £79S,000 was raised by means of the flour tax, and £8,268,000 was a charge on the general revenue.

Increases in expenditure over the estimate included - special appropriations £191,000. miscellaneous expenditure £2S9,000j and federal aid roads £266,000. The last item was offset by increased revenue from the petrol tax. The increase under special appropriations included £161,000 for unemployment relief works. The miscellaneous expenditure included £103,000 for Commonwealth elections.

In the following table an effort has been made to group Commonwealth expenditure under the principal headings by bringing together in a condensed form payments of a like nature so that a quick survey may be made of the position: -

The above statement indicates that a large proportion of the Commonwealth expenditure is of an inescapable nature, and that a relatively small proportion is for departmental and other services.

Excess Revenue of 1934-35

For 1934-35, the Commonwealth budget resulted in excess receipts of £711,205. The Government proposes to give further assistance to the States this year by providing a payment of £500,000 out of this sum. It is proposed to apply the balance of £211,205 in part reduction of the accumulated deficit of £17,216,340.

Budget Estimates, 1935-36

In framing the budget estimates for 1935-36, the Government is faced at the outset with the necessity for making provision for certain items of expenditure at a substantial increase over last year’s rate. Invalid and old-age pensions will cost a further £1,008,000 under the existing law. The rehabilitation of the defence services - which is a national necessity - will involve an additional £1,238,000 and a further £443,000 is required for increased grants to the States. In addition it has been found necessary to provide the bulk of post office works out of revenue instead of from loan money owing to other demands on the loan market. This increase amounts to £1,448,000. In these four items alone, we are faced with an increased charge of over £4,000,000 on last year’s budget.

One of the difficulties in the framing of revenue Estimates, particularly in recent years, has been the estimation of customs and excise revenue. This is subject to fluctuation in accordance with economic and seasonal conditions. Last year the receipts exceeded the budget estimate by over £3,000,000. This, to some extent, was due to increased purchasing power resulting from the high wool prices in the 1933-34 season, which brought about increased revenue from imports of certain non-competitive goods, &c, .is previously explained. Maintenance of revenue from customs duties at the high level of last year cannot reasonably be expected, but some increase of excise revenue is anticipated. For the current year the estimate of customs and excise revenue combined has been :put down at £37,850,000, as compared with £37,869,000 collected last year.

Increases of revenue are, however, expected from other forms of taxation, and, after a careful survey, the net increase of revenue from taxation for 1935-36 is set down at approximately £800,000.

On the basis of present rates of taxation and expenditure (including provision for inescapable increases as indicated above) the estimated position for 1935-36 was -

In view of the position as thus disclosed, the Government, in considering its budget proposals, has been obliged to confine taxation remissions to certain items upon which relief is thoroughly justified and to consider only certain new items of expenditure which are of an inescapable or exceptionally deserving nature.

The new proposals, which will be explained in detail later, involve reductions of taxation amounting to £510,000, and increased expenditure on certain items of £545,000. These proposals will absorb a total sum of £1,055,000, leaving an excess of receipts for the present year of £17,000.

Revenue 1935-36

Direct Taxation

It will be remembered that one of the most severe forms of emergency taxation imposed in 1931 was the special tax on income from property. In the budget of 1933-34 it was proposed, in common with other taxation remissions, to make a reduction in the rate of this tax from 10 per cent to 5 per cent. This proposal was subsequently modified in order to help to provide revenue for wheatgrowers’ relief and the tax was reduced to 6 per cent., instead of 5 per cent. The present tax is still recognized as a severe form of emergency taxation on which relief should be given as soon as reasonable opportunity presents itself. The Government therefore proposes to reduce the rate from 6 per cent, to 5 per cent. At the present time the tax produces about £1,200,000 a year and the proposed reduction will entail a reduction in revenue of £200,000. It is not proposed to alter the present flat rate exemption of £250. !No further variations of the rates of tax are at present possible in respect of. land tax, estate duties, and ordinary income tax.

The Royal Commission on Taxation completed its fourth and final report on land tax and estate duty in October 1934. The Government has not yet been able to take any steps in conjunction with the States towards implementing the recommendations in this report. With regard to income tax, which was dealt with in earlier reports of the Royal Commission, several conferences of Commonwealth and State Ministers and of taxation officials have been held during 1935. It is expected that most of the State Governments will, during the prosent year, introduce bills containing the uniform taxation provisions agreed upon. A Commonwealth bill containing a complete revision of the Commonwealth Income Tax Assessment Act will be introduced during the present sitting of Parliament. This bill will not affect revenue materially.

Though constitutional and other limitations prevent complete uniformity of legislation as between the Commonwealth and the States, the passing of this proposed legislation by all the parliaments of Australia will bring welcome relief to a large body of taxpayers which will justify the work and thought expended on the subject by the members of the Royal Commission and many others who have been associated with the task.

Sales Tax

In the last two years relief from sales tax has been made partly by reducing the rate from 6 per cent to 5 per cent., and partly by extending the list of exemptions. It is not possible, from the point of view of revenue, to make a reduction in the present rate of 5 per cent, but it is proposed to give further relief by extending the list of exemptions, largely for the purpose of removing anomalies as well as in order to give relief in a number of well justified directions.

It is estimated that the proposed exemptions will involve a reduction in revenue of £200,000 in a full year and £150,000 in the balance of this financial year. Exemptions granted in earlier years have amounted to £2,190,000. In addition the reduction of the rate by 1 per cent, in 1932-33 involved a reduction in revenue of £1,350,000. As compared with the peak period, the total concessions will amount to £3,740,000 on an annual basis.

The proposed exemptions will como into operation on the date of commencement of the amending legislation when a full list of the proposed exemptions will be laid before the Parliament.

Sales Tax Securities

When the Commonwealth sales tax law was formulated in 1930, there were incorporated provisions for the compulsory furnishing of securities by all taxpayers. The Government is desirous of relieving taxpayers of the burden of the system of securities, and accordingly is examining the position with a view to determining the most equitable and effective way qf repealing the relevant provisions of the law.


The Government proposes to grant remissions of primage duty to rectify a number of anomalies relating to raw materials and capital and technical goods, of which more than two-thirds are British. Full details are being published in the proclamation reducing the- primage. The loss to the budget for the current year is estimated at £45,000.

Tobacco and Cigarettes

The Government proposes to reduce the excise duties on manufactured tobacco in the production of which all the leaf used is Australian-grown. The loss of revenue under this head is expected to be £90,000. A reduction is also proposed in the excise duties on cigarettes. The net loss ©f revenue involved in this proposal is £25,000. These reductions of duty are designed to assist Australian producers of tobacco.

Total Taxation Adjustments, 1935-36

The summarized result of the proposed revenue remissions so far as the budget for 1935-36 is concerned is as follows : -

Revenue Summary, 1935-36

The total estimated revenue for the year, after allowing for remissions of taxation, is £77,190,000, made up as follows :- -

Expenditure 1935-36

Payments to States

During recent years, the financial assistance rendered to the States has shown a continuous upward tendency. Excluding relief for wheat-growers and other primary producers, the contributions to the States from Commonwealth revenues for 1934-35 and 1935-36 are as set out below: -

The above figures do not include the grant of £2,000,000 made to the States as a whole last year out of excess receipts of previous years, or the grant of £500,000 proposed to be made in the current year on a population basis.

In 1934-35, the special grants paid to South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, on the recommendation of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, totalled £2,400,000, or an increase of £270,000 over the total for the previous year.

The commission has again reviewed the financial position of these States, and has recommended the payment in 1935-36 of special grants of £2,750,000, being an increase of £350,000 over last year, and an increase of £620,000 in two years. The commission recommends that the grants be distributed as follows: - South Australia, £1,500,000; Western Australia, £800,000 ; Tasmania, £450,000.

The Government has decided to ask Parliament to approve the increased grants recommended by the commission, and provision for the additional sums has been made in the Budget. The report of the commission will be made available to honorable members to-morrow.

In the budget speech delivered last year the desire was expressed that these special grants should be placed on a more permanent basis. The commission, after further inquiries, stated that, in view of economic conditions, no fixed grant for a long term of years could be equitably determined, and it has not found any satisfactory method covering even a short term of years. Its recommendations were accordingly confined to the grants for the year 1935-36.

War Pensions and Repatriation Benefits

The Government is mindful of its obligation to care for the welfare of certain ex-members of the Australian Expeditionary Forces whose condition, resulting from war service, justifies a claim upon public funds. Accordingly, legislation will be introduced to make provision for certain classes of ex-members of the Australian Expeditionary Forces not covered by the Repatriation Act, for the restoration of commuted pensions in certain circumstances, and for other benefits in specially deserving classes of cases.

The annual cost of these concessions and benefits is estimated at £350,000.


In the last Budget speech the Government provided for the first step in a programme for the rehabilitation of the defence forces from the weakened condition into which they had fallen, and for their expansion towards the minimum strength necessary for national security. In a defence policy speech in September, 1933, the ultimate objectives of Australian defence, the principles that should govern their realization and the need for the progressive development of the defence forces, were emphasized. Accordingly, provision is being made this financial year for the second of the three stages of progress that the Government has in view.

The total expenditure for the second year of the programme is estimated at £7,352,000 of which £5,606,000 is being provided on the ordinary and new works estimates, and £1,746,000 from trust funds previously set aside for this purpose.

During the present year, it is proposed to re-establish the Royal Military College at Duntroon, in the Federal Capital Territory.

Invalid and Old-age Pensions.

During the last financial year the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act was amended by the repeal of the whole of the provisions relating to the recovery of pension payments from the estates of deceased pensioners. The provisions of the law relating to contributions by relatives towards the cost of pensions were also repealed.

Partly as a result of this legislation, there has been an increase in the number of pensions in force, with a corresponding increase of expenditure. Another important factor in the increased number of pensions is the rapid increase in the number of persons of pensionable age owing to the constantly decreasing death rate, progressive changes in the age composition of the population and other factors.

At the 30th June, 1935, there were 273,978 invalid and old-age pensioners, an increase, of 13,313 during the twelve months. The total expenditure was £11,762,030, being the greatest amount expended in any year since the introduction of the Commonwealth invalid and old-age pensions system.

The expenditure for the present year is estimated at £12,770,000, a further increase of slightly over £1,000,000. Of this sum, an amount of approximately £350,000 is due to the increase in the rate of pension by 6d. per week as from 4th July, 1935, based on the rise in the costofliving index number.

The Public Service

Commonwealth employees were, on the 1st July, 1935, being paid at £1,450,000 per annum less than they would have been paid on the 1930 standard. Of this amount, £1,300,000 represented deductions based on the fall in the cost of living, while the remainder, £150,000, represented reductions under the Financial Emergency Act-

It is proposed to effect a partial restoration of salaries in the Public Service, in the Naval, Military and Air Services, and other Services and in the allowances paid to members of Parliament and the salaries of Ministers. This restoration will be effected by reducing the percentage reductions by an amount equal to 2^ per cent, of the salary which would have been paid on the 1930 standard. If the proposed alteration is approved, the reductions in operation will be as follows: -

In the case of the Services, the percentages will be slightly reduced by the increase under the Financial Emergency Act of £6 in salaries by reason of the increase in the cost of living, which operated from the 1st July, 1935. Salaries up to £485 (1930 standard) will, when the above restoration becomes law, be freed from any reduction under the Financial Emergency Act, and will then be affected only by the rise and fall in the cost of living.

The percentage reduction of total salaries, including cost of living reductions, will average 11 per cent, as compared with 1930.

In the case of the Services, these partial restorations will amount to £90,000 a year and in the case of Parliamentary and Ministerial Allowances, £3,000 a year. For the present year, the total cost of these restorations will be £70,000.

The allowances paid to non-official and semi-official postmasters, in cases where the annual amount is £150 or more, are still subject to small percentage reductions. The Government proposes completely to restore these reductions, the total annual amount involved being £6,000.


The Department of Health has been giving increasing attention to the study of tropical hygiene in Australia and the territories. As an additional unit of this campaign a laboratory will be opened at Darwin during the year.

The campaign directed towards maternal and infant welfare will be further actively developed, a grant of £50,000 having been provided by the Commonwealth for this purpose, and large contributions having been obtained from the States and from private sources.

The generous gift by Lord Nuffield for the benefit of crippled children in Australia has enabled the institution of a national campaign with the formation of a society in each State, and the establishment of adequate treatment for the acute and convalescent stages of crippling conditions. The benefit which is anticipated will prove ultimately to be of inestimable value to Australia.

Local Government Works

As the result of further investigation into means whereby the Commonwealth can assist in the problem of relieving unemployment, it has been decided, subject to satisfactory arrangements with the States, to make provision from revenue for an amount of £100,000 in 1935-36, to be used in the form of contributions towards interest and sinking funds on loans for the public works of local authorities.

It is known that many local governing bodies are debarred from proceeding with public utility schemes by reason of the consequent debt service being beyond their rateable capacity. It ishoped that, as a result of consultation with the State governments, a scheme can be evolved under which, with joint help on the above lines from the Commonwealth and State governments, a number of such public utility proposals may be undertaken with consequent amenity value to country districts as well as absorption of men who are now unemployed.

Primary Products. wheat.

Conferences of Commonwealth and State Ministers and representatives of the wheat-growing industry will meet early in October, to consider the position in regard to wheat, and particularly the question of the steps necessary to secure a homeconsumption price. The recommendations of these conferences will be taken into consideration by the Commonwealth and State Governments in deciding future policy in regard to wheat. The outlook for wheat, as honorable members are aware, has much improved in recent weeks. citrus fruits.

The Government has decided, subject to conditions, to assist this industry during the 1935 season by means of a bounty of 2s. a case on oranges exported to the United Kingdom. subsidy on fertilizer.

The Government is continuing the subsidy of recent years of 15s. a ton on artificial manure applied to the soil in connexion with the production of primary products other than wheat. The bounty this year is estimated to cost £275,000, as against £250,000 last year. The increase is due to the fact that, in the present year, the bounty will be paid in respect of half-ton lots, whereas, in previous years, the minimum quantity on which bounty was paid was one ton. trade publicity in the united kingdom.

Since 1931-32 the grant by the Commonwealth, for the purposes of trade publicity in the United Kingdom, has stood at £15,000 per annum. In the current year the Government proposes to increase the grant by £10,000. Contributions by the industries concerned exceed £40,000 annually.

Since the Empire Marketing Board went out of existence, Australia has been obliged to assume full responsibility for its own trade publicity. The work of the Commonwealth trade publicity branch in Great Britain has been well conducted and has been successful in increasing the sale of Australian products in that country. council for scientific and industrial research.

The Government is continuing its policy of providing increasing sums for the conduct of scientific research, believing that, in so doing, it is making a real contribution towards the assistance of primary production and national efficiency. As a result, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is continuing and increasing its investigations into animal and plant diseases. The ravages of these diseases, if unchecked, would result in losses of millions of pounds to primary producers. Satisfactory progress in investigations has been made with pleuro-pneumonia in cattle, coast-disease in sheep, blowfly, blue mould in tobacco, and many other diseases.

Recent and proposed additions to the activities of the council include a new forest products laboratory, a new laboratory at the Viticultural Research Station, Merbein, investigation into fisheries, weeds, the grasshopper pest and soil drift, and an expansion of work on food preservation. In addition, valuable work is being carried out in conjunction with metallurgical institutions, in the treatment of gold-bearing ores.

It is gratifying to observe the increasing confidence of the various industries and institutions in the operations of the council, which is evidenced by the amount of private contributions. Last year the contributions from sources outside of the Treasury amounted to £39,000, and for the current year they are estimated at £56,000.

The estimated cost of investigations provided from Government funds for 1935-36, is £120,000. The value of the services rendered to producers many times exceeds this expenditure.

Post Office Activities

During the year just closed there was a substantial increase of post office activities in all branches, including telephone, telegraph, broadcasting and mail services. Special attention was given to country requirements, which were catered for by increased telephone exchanges, extension of hours of service, increased trunklines and new rural automatic exchanges.

For the current year provision has been made in the Estimates for further extension of facilities, particularly for country services. In addition to provision for normal expansion, a special provision of £100,000 has been made for development of country postal, telegraph, and telephone services.

Improvements in the national broadcasting service are being continued, and it is anticipated that six new highpowered regional stations to serve country districts will come into operation between October, 1935, and June, 1936. Provision has also been made for the erection of additional regional stations.

It is anticipated that the submarine telephone cable between Victoria and Tasmania, which is now under construction, will come into operation early in 1936, and will thus link up all States by telephone.

A sum of £100,000 has been provided on the Estimates for 1 935-36 for ground organization preliminary to development of air mail services. Half of the amount has been included in the post office estimates and half in the estimates of the Defence Department.

As a result of its increasing activities both the revenue and maintenance expenditure of the post office have increased substantially. The excess of revenue over maintenance expenditure is being largely used for developmental purposes. The provision for new works for 1935-36 is £1,891,000 as compared with expenditure of £1,443,000 last year. This is being carried almost entirely on revenue in order to relieve the loan fund.

Summary of Expenditure Proposals

The new expenditure proposals may be summarized thus : -

After allowing for these proposals the estimated expenditure for the year is £77,173,000. Details of this total, together with a comparison with the actual expenditure for 1934-35, are as follows : -

Total Expenditure 1935-36

The total estimated expenditure for the year, including provision for the budget proposals already explained, is set out in the following table, together with the actual expenditure of 1934-35 : -

This summary does not include expenditure out of excess receipts of past years, namely, £4,160,000 for defence equipment aud £2,000,000 for payment to the States in 1934-35, and £500,000 for payment to the States in 1935-36.

Public Works, &c

The following statement compares the proposed expenditure of the Commonwealth for public works and rural debt relief in 1935-36 with the actual expenditure for these purposes in 1934-35 : -

The Government believes that its proposals for increased public works arc. justified in themselves and, in addition, should represent an appreciable contribution towards the alleviation of the problem of unemployment. Taken in conjunction with the proposals of the States and the rising tide of activity in private enterprise, they should help still further to diminish the numbers of men who, as yet, are unfortunately unemployed.

The amount of £3,000,000 set down for assistance to the States for Farmers’ Debt Adjustment represents part of the liability of the Commonwealth of £12,000,000 under the Loan (Farmers’ Debt Adjustment) Act of 1935. New South Wales and South Australia have already passed the necessary legislation, and it is anticipated that other States will complete their legislation at an early date.

The Postal Department is being granted £450,000 more this year for works purposes to enable it to meet the ever-increasing demands of the public for further services.

Subject to the outcome of further negotiations, the Commonwealth proposes to proceed with the Port Augusta to Red Hill railway, and for this purpose £150,000 is being placed on the Estimates.

The amount for Federal Capital Territory includes £100,000 to enable a beginning to be made with a programme for the transfer of the remaining central staffs to Canberra. The sum of £70,000 is provided for the erection of cottages in Canberra for the accommodation of families to be removed from Duntroon in view of the re-transfer of the Military College.

The amounts provided for assistance to the States for unemployment relief works, mining and forestry, represent the balances of the sums appropriated last year forthese purposes.


I said at the outset that the Government was determined to continue to promote recovery by methods of sound finance. So far, our policy has been based on principles designed not only to promote recovery, but also to maintain stability in our economic system. To this policy it is the intention of the Government steadfastly to adhere.

The depression has affected all countries of the world in greater or lesser degree. Each country has problems peculiar to itself, dependent on its industrial and economic make-up, and in consequence each country has had to take steps that, in its wisdom, seem best calculated to promote recovery within its borders. No country is self-contained, and it is impossible to divorce internal conditions from external influences. We, in Australia, have taken steps that, whilst avoiding extremes, have produced results that more than bear comparison with the results obtained in other countries.

The fact is significant that the countries of the world in which improvement is most noticeable are those which comprise the British Empire. These represent a formidable force making for the restoration of stability in world trading relations.

Within Australia we may note, as one of the greatest gains, the passing of the depression mentality, and its replacement by an active confidence which finds material expression in the figures that I hare cited earlier in this speech. We are justified in looking to the future with a considerable measure of hope and confidence.

I move -

That the first item in the Estimates under Division 1 - The Senate - namely, “ Salaries and Allowances, £7,379 “, be agreed to.

Progress reported.

page 58


The following paper was presented: -

The budget 1935-36 - Papers presented by the honorableR. G. Casey, M.F., for the information of honorable members on the occasion of the budget of 1935-36.

Ordered to be printed.

page 58


Excise Tariff Amendment (No. 3)

In Committee of Ways and Means:

**Mr.** WHITE (Balaclava- Minister for Trade and Customs [9.5].- I move - >That the Schedule to the *Excise Tariff* 1921-1933 as proposed to be amended by the Excise Tariff Proposals be further amended as hereunder set out, and that on and after the 24th day of September, One thousand nine hundred and thirty-five, at nine o'clock in the forenoon, reckoned according to standard time in the Territory for the Seat of Government, Duties of Excise be collected in pursuance of the *Excise Tariff* 1921-1933 as so amended. > >That in this Resolution " Excise Tariff Proposals " means the Excise Tariff Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the following dates, namely : - 6th December, 1934 ; and 28th March, 1935. The excise tariff resolution that I have just introduced covers the following three main proposals : - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. Reduction of8d. per lb. on manufactured tobacco having a wholly Australian-leaf content - that is, a differential excise. 1. Reduction of1s. 4d. per lb. on manufactured tobacco for consumption by Australian aborigines, such tobacco also to have a wholly Australian-leaf content, 2. Reduction of 6d. per lb. on cigarettes. The reduction of8d. per lb. on wholly Australian-leaf brands of tobacco is proposed in order to promote the sales of such brands, with a consequent increased sale of the darker grades. Due largely to the relatively high price of Australian leaf, the margin between the selling price of Australian and that of imported brands was not sufficiently wide to induce the public to continue smoking all-Australian brands to the same extent as previously. In fact, a close examination made early this year indicated that sales of these tobaccoes had shown a marked decline. The Government's proposals aim at arrest ing this decline, and at the same time bringing about an increased sale of wholly Australian-leaf brands of tobacco. An appeal must, therefore, be made to the pocket of the smoker, to whom must be passed on any excise differentiation in favour of wholly Australian-leaf tobacco. In some quarters, but fortunately not in all, it is claimed that growers should benefit from a differential excise by receiving increased leaf prices. The Government considers that an increase of the prices of Australian leaf, which are already out of proportion to world prices, would render their sale more difficult, and also accentuate the decreased consumption of tobacco in which such leaf is used. The reduction of 8d. per lb. in the excise on wholly Australian-leaf tobacco should enable a decrease to be made in the retail price by1/2d. on 1-oz. packets and1d. on 2-oz. packets or tins. This decrease of price, coupled with the fact that the price of tobaccoes inwhich imported leaf is largely used were increased in May last by up to1/2d. on 1-oz. and up to1d. on 2-oz. packages, as a result of the restrictionist policy adopted in the United States of America, should provide the necessary fillip to the sales of local leaf tobaccoes. It is to be hoped there will be no rush in the direction of additional planting and over-production, as the difficulties of the growers are associated more with plant diseases than with tariffs. The Government has, however, by a vote of £20,000 annually, considerably helped in instructional methods, as well as in research against disease, and some progress has recently been made in dealing with the ravages of blue mould. The reduction of1s. 4d. per lb. on tobacco made wholly from Australian leaf, for consumption by Australian aborigines, should enable such tobacco to be distributed on a much freer basis than formerly, both in cases where the aboriginal receives a free issue, or part payment of his wages in tobacco, and where he has to purchase his supplies from, say, a station store. Aboriginal half-castes will also be entitled to share in the benefits of this reduction. The reduction will be confined to the types of plug tobacco usually manufactured for supply to aborigines, and should enable some of the year-to-year surplus of dark leaf tobacco to be sold. The height of the present taxation on factory-made cigarettes, coupled with the margin of over 5s. per lb. between the duties on factory-made and those on " roll-your-own " cigarettes, has brought about a considerable reduction in the consumption of the former without a compensating balancing of the revenue. In 1928-29 the total consumption of factory-made cigarettes was 6,350,000 lb., but in 1934-35 it was only 4,750,000 lb., a decrease of 25 per cent. Early this year, Australian cigarette manufacturers commenced to feel the effects of the increased price of American leaf under the Roosevelt Plan. In some cases they have had to reduce the size of cigarettes, while in others a reduction of the number in the packet was contemplated. The Government's proposals are designed to minimize the effect on the revenue of the increased price of American leaf. Although primarily they may mean a loss, the following benefits will accrue from them : - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. An increase in the size of cigarettes, and, partly in that way, an increase in revenue, which would offset the primary loss. 1. An increase in primage duty, due to higher American leaf prices. 2. The maintenance of this lucrative taxation field. 3. The continued production at a reasonably high level of a class of tobacco product which calls for the best tobacco leaf and which offers some scope for the grower of quality leaf. 4. The reduction applies to cigarettes made from either Australiangrown leaf or imported leaf. The Government expects that manufacturers will, as far as possible, give the public the benefit of this reduction. If the reductions are not passed on, the Government will consider the restoration of the excise to its former level. Progress reported. {: .page-start } page 60 {:#debate-22} ### HOUR OF MEETING Motion (by **Mr. Lyons)** agreed to - That the House, at its rising, adjourn until to-morrow at 2.30 p.m. {: .page-start } page 60 {:#debate-23} ### ADJOURNMENT {:#subdebate-23-0} #### The Labour Movement Motion (by **Mr. Lyons)** proposed - >That the House do now adjourn. {: #subdebate-23-0-s0 .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI:
Werriwa .- I take this, the first opportunity presented to me, to repudiate, not only on my own behalf, but also on behalf of the members of the party to which I belong, a statement reported by the *Sydney Morning Herald* to have been made by the honorable member . for Parkes **(Sir Charles Marr).** According to that report, the honorable gentleman said - >The old Labour party, such as that led by the late Andrew Fisher, was a wonderful one. Of its 20 members, nineteen were total abstainers, and fifteen took an active part in the life of the churches with which they were connected. Can you compare that party with the one styled Labour to-day? {: .speaker-KZF} ##### Mr Lane: -- What is wrong with that? {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- The honorable member will see in a moment what is wrong with it. It contains nothing but the cowardly innuendo that honorable members of my party are drunkards and are irreligious. No other inference can be drawn, and I suggest that that is the inference which the honorable gentleman wished to have drawn. Judged according to standards of sobriety and a reverence for Christian principles, the members of the party to which I belong compare more than favorably with the members of the Labour party at any period of its history, of any party in the political life of Australia, and of the honorable gentleman or any of his relatives. The honorable gentleman's absorptive capacity is such that if hecould obtain alcohol free of cost to himself he could consume more of it in one day than the whole of the members of my party combined could consume in a month. There is no member of my party whose public and private life will not compare more than favorably with that of the honorable member or any of his associates. *No* member of my party ever left. Australia a poor man and came back sufficiently loaded with war loot to take a place among the wealthy classes in this country. If the honorable member is a sample of a Christian gentleman,AT desire to be known as a pagan for the rest of my life. Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 9.16 p.m. {: .page-start } page 61 {:#debate-24} ### ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS *The following answer to a question was circulated: -* {:#subdebate-24-0} #### InvalidandOld-AgePensions {: #subdebate-24-0-s0 .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr James: s asked the Treasurer, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. How many (a) invalid pensioners, and (b) old-age pensioners died in each State during the last seven years? 1. What was the percentage of deaths of (a) invalid pensioners, and (b) old-age pensioners during each of the last seven years? {: #subdebate-24-0-s1 .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr Casey:
UAP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The number of deaths of (a) invalid pensioners, and (b) old-age pensioners respec tively in each State during the last seven years were - {: type="1" start="2"} 0. The percentage of deaths of (a) invalid pensioners, and *(b)* old-age pensioners respectively during each of the last seven years were -

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 September 1935, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.