House of Representatives
31 October 1935

14th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

page 1193



Third Partyrisk


– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether his department has received from the Australian Conference of Automobile Associations a request that the insurance power of the Commonwealth Parliament should ‘be invoked for the passage of legislation designed to compel owners of motor vehicles to take out policies covering third-party risk? If so, is the matter being considered by the Government ?


– The answer to both sections of the honorable member’s question is, “ Yes.”

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– Will the Minister for

Trade and Customs state whether it is a fact that Australian superphosphate manufacturers are prevented by the embargo on the importation ofsulpher from purchasing more than one-half of their season’s requirements of this essential commodity? In view of the prospect that this embargo will add thousands of pounds to the cost of imported sulphur, is there any good reason why it should not be removed?

Minister for Trade and Customs · BALACLAVA, VICTORIA · UAP

– An embargo was placed upon the importation of sulphur while trade negotiations were in progress. No embarrassment has been caused to any importer of sulphur, because application could be made for a licence to import it. Although the removal of .the embargo has been suggested, no real inconvenience has been suffered by reason of it.

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– I have received the following telegram from the secretary of the Australian Federation of Broadcasting Stations: -

Country broadcasting stations throughout Commonwealth assembled in their annual convention urge most strongly that proposed statutory rules re broadcasting now before Parliament be withdrawn until country stations have had an opportunity make representations.

Can the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral give any information in regard to this matter ? Is there any likelihood of the adoption of the suggestion made by this federation ?

Minister for Defence · WARRINGAH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP

– The honorable member for Darling has asked a similar question upon notice. An amendment of the regulations relating to wireless broadcasting was approved by the Governor-General in Council on the 23rd October, 1935. Representatives of the Australian Federation of Broadcasting Stations had an interview with the PostmasterGeneral in Melbourne during the current week, and placed their views before him. I understand that these regulations relate to the holding of a number of broadcasting licences by one individual or company. In the opinion of the department it is not desirable that any .private company ot individual should have a monopoly of broadcasting stations. The regulations have been framed for the purpose of preventing such a contingency. I believe that the leasees of B-class stations are under some misapprehension as to the actual purport of the regulations. So far as I know, they are not seriously or unduly affected in any way, I suggest that .they leave the matter where it now stands, make representations to the Postmaster-General, and obtain from the department a full and clear understanding of the position, which 1 feel sure will prove satisfactory to them.

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Marketing Conditions in London.


– In view of the reports that are coming to hand in regard to the blending and marketing of Australian butter in London, can the Minister for Commerce say whether the Australian arrangements compare favorably with those of other countries?

Minister for Commerce · COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– The reports received from England state that the Australian arrangements are quite as satisfactory as those of other countries.


– Will the Minister for Commerce state whether it is not a fact that the greater proportion of Australian butter sales in Great Britain occur in the south of England, where the greater prosperity of the people enables them to buy the butter which best suits their palates, and that the smaller proportion of sales are in the north of England where the people, owing to poverty and hard times, have to consider such matters as the “spreadability” of the butter which they buy? Does not the Minister consider that, if these are the facts, they seem to point to the conclusion that the quality of Australian butter and its palatability are definitely satisfactory, and that possibly the only serious criticism that can be levelled against it is due to the great multiplicity of brands under which it is marketed and to a certain degree of difficulty in regard to its “ spreadabili ty “ ?


– The facts are as indicated by the honorable member in’ his question. The Australian butter exported to Britain is eaten chiefly in the more populous and more wealthy localities, but every effort is being made, ‘by means of publicity work, to secure the consumption of a maximum quantity of our butter in other parts of the United Kingdom.

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– Is the Minister for Defence in a position to make a statement giving reasons for the transfer of the Royal Military College from Paddington, Sydney, to Duntroon, seeing that the expense of the establishment will thereby be increased three-fold?


by leave - Briefly, the reasons for the retransfer of the Royal Military College from Victoria Barracks, Sydney, to Duntroon may be summed up as follows: - First, the training of staff cadets for appointment to the staff corps is the most important single feature of the Australian military system. Secondly, the experience gained at Paddington during the last four and a half years has proved that the present location is entirely unsuitable on the grounds of training, accommodation, and administration. Thirdly, a considerable amount of outside or field training is required, which it is impossible to give to trainees at Paddington and for which Duntroon is especially suitable. Fourthly, the 2nd Military District has been handicapped by the existing circumstances, in which the college is not selfcontained. It has been necessary to call on the 2nd Military District for certain requirements. Although every facility and consideration havebeen afforded by the Base Commandant, this is regarded as an unsatisfactory arrangement. Fifthly, the accommodation at Victoria Barracks is unsatisfactory for peace requirements, and would be totally inadequate in the event of an outbreak of hostilities. The existing cadet quarters and lecture rooms have reached the limit of their capacity, and additional buildings would have to be constructed and expense incurred if the college were to remain at Paddington. The expense that would have to be incurred is estimated to be about £15,000. It is anticipated that the number of cadets at the college will be considerably increased. Keeping in mind the fact that it is essential that the training of staff officers should be conducted in the most satisfactory way, on account of this being one of the most important features of our defence organization, and in view of all the other circumstances, it is considered imperative for the efficient conduct of the forces that the college should be returned to Canberra. I would add that this policy is in conformity with undertakings given by respective governments for the development of Canberra, in which work the transfer of the college back to Canberra would be an important factor. I propose on another occasion to deal further with the cost of the proposal. I shall then show that taking into consideration the fact that the policy of Commonwealth governments is not to ask the cadets to make any contribution to the cost of their training, in conformity with the practice in similar colleges elsewhere, the cost of the college has not been out of proportion to that of similar institutions throughout the world. I can assure the House that the arrangement to be carried out will not involve the country in an unreasonable additional expense. The increased efficiency that will be secured, and the value of the College to the defence forces,will amply compensate for the comparatively moderate additional expenditure.


– In view of the decision of the Defence Department that the Victoria Barracks, Paddington, are unsatisfactory under peace conditions and would be inadequate under war conditions, will the department now proceed to demolish this unsightly structure, and make the land available to the local municipal authorities for the construction of workmen’s homes, for which it is admirably suited?


– The view quoted by the honorable member from the statement which I have made regarding the Victoria Barracks makes no reflection upon its usefulness for other purposes. The answer to his question is “ No “.

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– Is the Minister for the Interior now able to say what stage has been reached in connexion with the proposal for the construction of the Port Augusta to Red Hill railway? Has he been in touch with the South Australian Government, and will a settlement be reached without recourse to litigation ?

Minister for the Interior · GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · CP

– I am unable to make a statement at this stage. All I can say is that negotiations with the South Australian Government are still proceeding.

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Privy Council Appeal Case


– Has the Government reached any decision regarding the representation of the Commonwealth in the case to be heard before the Privy Council regarding the powers of the Commonwealth under section 92 of the Constitution. If not, will the Government take into consideration the fact that the views expressed in the past by the Attorney-General, particularly when he was Attorney-General of Victoria, were decidedly opposed to the attitude which would meet the wishes of the Commonwealth in this case?

Prime Minister · WILMOT, TASMANIA · UAP

– As leave to appeal has not yet been granted by the Privy Council, consideration will not be given to the matter referred to by the honorable member until such leave has been obtained.

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Lease of Areas


– Has the Minister for the Interior yet considered the advisability of tabling the papers relating to the negotiations that took place about two years ago for the leasing of land in the Northern Territory?


– Those papers are under the control of the Minister for Development, who dealt with the negotiations. I have been in touch with the Minister, who is now in Melbourne, and I hope to be in a position to-morrow to give the honorable member a reply to his question.

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– Is the Minister for Commerce yet in a position to make a statement regarding the proposed reconstitution of the Dairy Produce Export Control Board and the Australian Dairy Council? If not, when does he hope to be able to do so ?


– At an early date the Government hopes to bring down a bill dealing with this matter, and then the intentions of the Government will be made known.

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– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether, when Parliament is asked to consider future trade treaties, the Government will regard the bills necessary to implement them as vital measures, as was the Ottawa agreement, or will Parliament be able to deal with them on a non-party basis?


– In asking the honorable member to place his question on the notice-paper, I appealto other honorable members to give notice when questions are not urgent. Ministers do their best to supply information, but it is only fair when matters raised in questions are not urgent that notice should be given.

Mr James:

-Who will decide whether the questions are urgent or not?


– Ministers will decide that, if it is necessary for them to take the responsibility for doing so. I do not want to interfere with the rights and privileges of honorable members, but it will save the time of Parliament if they will do as I have requested. Ministers will then be given an opportunity to supply replies with complete accuracy.

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– Will the Prime Minister undertake to communicate with the Government of New South Wales with a view to preventing a recurrence of the incident which occurred last Friday night when, at a recognized meeting place, the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) was prevented from speaking in opposition to participation by Australia in oversea wars?


– The Commonwealth Government has no intention whatever of interfering with duties which are the responsibility of the Government of New South Wales.

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– In reference to negotiations I have had with the AttorneyGeneral regarding the Federal Insurance Corporation, a company registered in Canberra, whose articles of association and the memorandum of agreement contain misleading statements, I desire to know whether the Minister has completed the investigation into the company’s operations. If so, does he propose to cancel the registration of the company?

Attorney-General · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · UAP

– The inquiries referred to are stillbeing actively pursued, hut I hope next week to be able to say something as to the course that is to be followed.

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The following papers were presented -

Customs Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 103.

Raw Cotton Bounty Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 105.

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Message recommending appropriation reported.

In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :

Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) agreed to-

That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act relating to the export of meat.

Resolution reported.

Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.

Ordered -

That Dr. Earle Page and Mr. Casey do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.

Bill brought up by Dr. Earle Page, and read a first time.

Minister for Commerce · Cowper · CP

– I move -

That the bill be now road a second time.

The object of this bill is to provide for the control of the export of meat. The principle of export control has already been applied to dairy produce, dried fruits, canned fruits and wine, and it is now proposed to extend it to meat and meat products. The basic principle proposed to be applied to meat is similar to that applied to the other products that I have mentioned, but differences will be noticed in regard to both the circumstances under which control is sought, and the extent of the powers proposed for the board.

Export control has usually resulted from representations made by those engaged in the industries concerned; butin this case the proposal has followed from negotiations recently conducted in London with the representatives of the British and other dominion governments. The circumstances under which those negotiations were conducted are well known to honorable members, but I shall review them briefly to indicate the necessity for this bill.

For some years the United Kingdom has been practically the only world market for meat. Ten years ago, European countries imported approximately 300,000 tons of different classes of meat, but those imports have declined until they are now considerably less than 100,000 tons. For some years prior to that in which the Ottawa Conference was held, all exporting countries were forced to concentrate on the British market, with the result that the market was glutted, low prices prevailed, and a general condition of chaos existed. During the years preceding the Ottawa Conference year, Australia’s beef exports fluctuated without any material expansion, but mutton and lamb supplies increased, and Australia became quite an important factor in the supply of mutton and lamb to British consumers.

As the result of the agreements reached at Ottawa, supplies of meat from foreign countries to Great Britain were reduced, market conditions improved, and the way was opened for increased supplies from the dominions. The larger supplies of beef, mutton and lamb from the dominions practically equalled the reduction of foreign supplies, and, from the point of view of the British producer, market conditions for beef were not greatly improved.This condition also had its effect upon the prices received for beef supplied by the dominions.

During the second half of 1934, the general position caused considerable anxiety to the Commonwealth Government because of the conflicting interests of the dominions and foreign suppliers, and the existence of the agreement between the United Kingdom and Argentina. Since July, 1934, the British Government has had the right to regulate meat supplies from the dominions, subject to their being granted a corresponding share of the import trade. Differences of opinion regarding the effect of the Anglo-Argentine Agreement on the rights of the dominions rendered personal consultations between British and dominion Ministers imperative.

The two chief points at issue when the delegation sailed from Australia were -

  1. The proposed limitation of Australia’s total supplies of beef, mutton and lamb; and
  2. The danger of a check to Australia’s right freely to ship beef in a chilled, instead of a frozen condition.

Honorable members are aware that the negotiations in London were attended with gratifying success from Australia’s point of view. The Australian delegation was able to ensure a market in the United Kingdom during 1935 for all our supplies available for export, and Australia has thus been able to maintain the remarkable expansion which has taken place in its exports since 1932. In addition to the satisfactory arrangement for all meat during 1935, an agreement was made in regardto mutton and lamb for 1936 under which Australia will supply up to 90,000 tons of such meats. If Australia succeeds in supplying this quantity, it will have increased its supplies by 55 per cent. above the 1932 level, and by 20 per cent. above 1931-32, the Ottawa base year, whichwas thought at the time to be a figure beyond which a substantial increase was very unlikely.

The exports of beef from Australia in 1935 will exceed those of 1932 by 75 per cent., and those of the Ottawa year by 49 per cent. No arrangement has yet been concluded for beef beyond December, 1935. Negotiations in regard to future beef supplies are still proceeding.

The development of our chilled beef trade is recent. Prior to 1934 we exported practically no chilled beef, and in 1934 we exported only 2,750 tons. When the delegation sailed from Australia in February last, the threatened check to chilled beef shipments was causing great concern. However, the efforts of the Government were successful in ensuring an unrestricted market for this class of meat during the progress of the negotiations, and it is expected that our total exports this year will be about 12,000 tons. The situation therefore gives reason for gratification. We have so far ensured a market for all available supplies. It was emphasized during the negotiations, however, that the British Government desired some knowledge of the total supplies likely to be available in any given year, and also that there should be some regulation of the supplies during the year to ensure that the requirements of the market were met systematically. New Zealand has a meat board which has been able to regulate supplies, and the South American meat trade is also regulated in a very effective manner. Hitherto such regulation has not been applied to Australian shipments. It has been felt that to make future regulation of the British market fully effective, co-operation between all the Governments and the British Administration is essential. With this objective, the following definite proposal arose out of the London negotiations : -

There should be an Empire Meat Council representative of the United Kingdom and other Empire countries interested in the supply of meat to the United Kingdom market. The functions of this council would be to consider the well-being of the Empire meat trade, and to review the working of any agreement which might be in existence.

There should also be a Standing Meat Conference of all countries supplying meat to the United Kingdom market, to secure appropriate regulation of the flow of meat on to the British market in the light of supplies and of information regarding the trend of prices and production.

The Empire body would be quite independent of, and in no way subordinate to, the general body. Neither body would have any statutory power to interfere with the total volume of supplies from any dominion. Their function would be to regulate the market within the limits of government policy and the provisions of existing agreements.

The constitution of an Empire Meat Council and a Standing Meat Conference was strongly urged during the negotiations by the British and New Zealand delegates, and it was also urged that there should be in each dominion a moat board affiliated with the Empire Meat Council. Without such a board, suitably constituted and clothed with the necessary statutory powers, the Australian meat industry would be placed at a serious disadvantage, as compared with that of other countries, in attempting to give effect to any agreement made to ensure that the utmost advantage should he taken of market conditions from time to time.

For about eighteen months the Commonwealth Government has had the assistance, in its negotiations, of a voluntary Meat Advisory Committee, composed of representatives of producers and exporters from each State. This advisory committee has sat in conference with Federal and State Ministers, and has gi ven very valuable advice and support to the Government in the conduct of negotiations. The position has now been reached, however, when some more definite and permanent form of organization is needed. It is necessary to establish aboard with statutory powers of a limited character, which will be so constituted and exercise such authority, as will enable it to foster the best interests of the Australian meat export industry and encourage its further development.

At the Commonwealth Meat Conference, held on the 5th October, 1935, and attended by Commonwealth and State Ministers, and members of the Meat Advisory Committee, consideration was given to a recommendation of the advisory committee that an Australian Meat Board be set up with power to -

  1. appoint a London representative;
  2. regulate shipments;
  3. issue licences to export; and
  4. administer quotas.
Mr Beasley:

– Have the opinions expressed at this conference been circulated ?


– The conference was entirely confidential in character, and no notes were taken of the speeches delivered. The conference agreed to the setting up of a body of the kind now contemplated, and the legislative provision to give effect to that decision was examined by it. The bill now submitted to the House represents the final conclusions of the conference. The measure was really drafted at the conference for presentation to this Parliament.

Mr Blain:

– Is any provision being made in regard to frozen meat?


– The provisions of the bill are general in character. I shall deal with the honorable member’s point later.

The recommendation of the Meat Advisory Committee had been considered and affirmed at conferences representative of the industry in each State. In some cases the resolutions of the State conferences went further and recommended a board with somewhat wider powers. Those resolutions were also placed before the meat conference, together with a draft act based upon the original recommendation of the Advisory Committee.

The principal decision of the conference was -

That a board having defined statutory powers should be established.

The conference also dealt in detail with the constitution and functions of the board. This bill has accordingly been introduced to give effect to the decision of the conference, and to provide for the appointment of a board with powers necessary to meet the position that exists.

It is proposed that the board shall consist of eighteen members, one of whom will represent the Commonwealth Government. The meat producers willhave nine representatives - one for each State, to be nominated by the stock producer members of the Meat Advisory Committee in the State; one to be appointed on the nomination of the stock producer members of the Southern Riverina Meat Advisory Committee to represent the meat producers of that district; one to be appointed on the nomination of the Northern Territory Lessees Association to represent the meat producers of that territory ; and one to be appointed on the nomination of the Australian Pig Council to represent the pig producers of Australia.


– Why is the Riverina to have a special representative?


– Much of the lamb exported from Australia is raised in the Riverina.

There will be three representatives of the meat exporting companies - one for each of the States of New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland. These will be nominated by the Minister after consultation, wherever practicable, with the Meat Exporters Association in each of those States. There will be one member appointed to represent co-operative meat exporting organizations. Pour members will be appointed to represent publiclyowned abattoirs and freezing works which deal with exports, such members to be persons occupying for the time being the following positions: -

  1. Metropolitan Meat Industry Commissioner, New South Wales.
  2. Chairman, Queensland Meat Industry Board.
  3. Manager, Government Produce Export Department, South Australia.
  4. General Manager, Western Australian Government Meat Works, Wyndham.

The present occupants of these positions are Messrs. Merrett, of New South Wales, Sunners, of Queensland, Pope, of South Australia, and Farrell, of Western Australia. The constitution of the board is designed to give representation to all sections of the industry, but there is a balance of representation on the side of the producers.

An executive of seven members has also been provided for, as it is felt that if all executive acts had to be decided upon at meetings of a board consisting of eighteen members, the board would be unduly hampered in its operations. There is also to he a special beef committee appointed from within the board. This has been included so as to ensure that the complex problems surrounding the beef industry shall receive the special consideration that is warranted.

Provision is made to enable the board to appoint a London representative, subject to the approval of the Minister. The London representative will act in behalf of the board, when the board so directs, in all matters pertaining to meetings of the Empire Meat Council. He will also keep the board fully informed on market conditions as they exist from time to time.

With regard to the powers of the board itself, the provision upon which the whole success of the bill depends is clause 17, which states that no meat shall be exported from Australia except under a licence. That licence will be issued by the Minister, or a prescribed person acting in his behalf, but the board will have power to recommend to the Minister the terms and conditions upon which licences to export meat should be granted.

Nevertheless, it will be open to the Minister to refuse to grant a licence, or to decline to approve of any conditions laid down by the board.

This is the principle which has been adopted in the case of other export control acts, and it has worked in a highly satisfactory manner. In this case, however, control is not to extend beyond the powers necessary to regulate shipments within the limits of any export programme which may be fixed from time to time. Control of other products extends beyond this point, and includes not only power to regulate shipments, but also power to determine through whom the products are to be sold. In the case of dried fruits, canned fruits and wine, there is power to require that those products shall not be sold overseas at a price less than the authorized price. In short, the boards set up in respect of other Australian industries exercise very wide powers and may, if the producers so desire, assume full marketing control over exports.

The main objective of the Australian Meat Board will be to arrange clearances so that market conditions overseas will be taken full advantage of, consistent with the need for ensuring that the full season’s output is disposed of. Producers will not be compelled to export any part of their output. ‘ They themselves will decide whether they will sell in Australia or on overseas markets, and if they elect to sell in Australia they will not be subject to control by the board in any way. Provision is made to empower the board to work in close unison with the Department of Commerce in the revision of grading standards, and so forth, and to act in an advisory capacity to the Commonwealth Government in regard to meat export programmes. The board is also to have power to arrange contracts in respect of overseas shipping freights and insurances.

The board will be financed by a method similar to that adopted in other acts, that is to say, by a levy on meat exported. Provision is made in another bill, which is associated with this one, for a levy not exceeding1/2d. a quarter on beef, and 1d. a carcase on mutton, lamb, pork and veal, with corresponding charges on other classes of meat exported. These rates may be reduced, hut not increased, by regulation. In any case, the maximum rates are but a small impost on the industry. On the basis of export during the year ended the 30th June, 1934, the maximum levies would amount to approximately £25,000. Obviously, that sum is very much larger than will be required to finance the administrative expenses of a board such as this one, but it is intended that the board shall be empowered to devote part of its funds to defraying the cost of promoting the sale of Australian meat overseas, for example, by advertizing, and by undertaking any experiments calculated to improve the quality of meat intended for export.

Mr Francis:

– Will it duplicate the work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research ?


-No. it will cooperate with the council.

The accounts of the board are to be subject to inspection and audit by the Auditor-General, and the board will be required to furnish an annual report to the Minister for presentation to Parliament.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Curtin) adjourned.

page 1201


Motion (by Mr. Thorby) agreed to -

That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the War Service Homes Act


Bill brought up, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Assistant Minister in Charge of War Service Homes · Calare · CP

by leave - I move -

That the bill bc now read a second time.

The main purpose of this bill is to introduce a scheme of relief for the widows and widowed mothers of Australian soldiers as defined in section 4 of the War Service Homes Act. All honorable members are keenly interested in the welfare of soldiers’ widows and widowed mothers, whose financial circumstances are such that they are unable to meet the full payments required under the contracts for the purchase of the homes which they occupy. In brief, the provisions of this bill are designed to assist these widows and widowed mothers to continue to remain in their homes for the rest of their lives.

Mr Beasley:

– Is the bill to have retrospective effect?


– Yes ; in any case where a widow has lost her home I am prepared to reinstate her in a suitable home and extend to her .the benefit of the provisions of this bill.

Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!


– The problem of what form of assistance should be granted has been closely considered by the Government; and having in mind the general desire to secure for these purchasers security of occupation, a scheme of relief has .been formulated which will make adequate provision for these women, and, at the same time, protect the revenue of the Crown and avoid any dangerous precedent that might arise under other laws administered by the Commonwealth. The scheme of relief is covered by the new provisions in the bill, inserting new sections 29aa and 39a, and amending section 39. As honorable members know, repayment instalments are designed to repay the purchase money, together with interest thereon over the period for which the loan is granted. Proposed new section 29aa gives to the Minister the power to assess the amount which shall be paid by a widow or widowed mother of an Australian soldier on account of these instalments, and the balance is to be paid from a fund to be established under proposed new section 39a. Honorable members will realize the difficulty that would confront the Government df it proposed to lay down a hard-and-fast rule as to how much a widow should be called upon to pay. No two widows or widowed mothers are in the same financial position. Each individual case must he treated on its merits. That is why it is proposed to give the Minister the power to decide how much the widow should contribute. Income is only one factor that must be taken into consideration in assessing how much a widow should be called upon to pay toward the instalments on the home as they fall due.

Mr Curtin:

– ‘Suppose a widow cannot pay anything?


– In that case nothing will be asked of her. In addition, provision is made so that any rates and taxes due on the home will be met, and, in order that the home shall not depreciate provision is made for keeping it in repair. All such payments are to become a first charge on the home so that when a widow dies or re-marries, payments met by the Crown from the trust fund to be created, will be made acharge against the home.

Mr Scullin:

– Will any interest he charged in respect of these payments?


– Yes, the usual rate of interest fixed by the War Service Homes Commissioner will be charged on all payments made in this way. Such payments of course reduce the liability on the home and increase the owner’s equity. In this scheme the Government believes it has protected the Commissioner against any loss; the whole community is being called upon to assist the widows to maintain their homes and meet their commitments. No difficulties will arise owing to the fact that a widow may not be able to meet her commitments tomunicipal authorities or pay land tax should the State in which the home is built levy such a tax upon the property.

Mr Gander:

– Will the widow be left in the home which her husband purchased?


– Yes; thebill provides that the widow shall remain in the home of which her husband was the purchaser. Every assistance and encouragement will be given to her to remain in that home and to ensure that there shall be no arrears due to the commission. But, as I have said, it is proposed to assess the amount which each widow is able to pay and she will be called upon to pay that amount.

Mr Beasley:

– As determined by the Minister ?


– Yes. As I have said, it would be impossible to lay down a hardandfast rule which could be applied with equal justice to widows placed in different circumstances. The Minister will be answerable to honorable members in respect of any specific cases which may arise where a representative of a district considers that , a particular widow is being unjustly treated. The Government also realizes that those purchasers who are unable to pay the full instalment are, in addition, not in a position to meet the rates, taxes, and other outgoings which fall due from time to time. These will be paid on behalf of the purchaser from the amount standing to the credit of the relief trust account. Similarly, if the purchaser is not in a position to meet the cost of essential repairs., the commission, which has an arrangement in all States under which first-grade paints are supplied at reduced prices, will make available at cost price the paint and ether materials required, and will endeavour to arrange for the necessary works to be carried out at a minimum charge for labour. The expenditure on account of rates, taxes, and repairs, will be charged to the purchaser’s account, and if she is unable to make any payment, will be recovered when the home is sold or is realized upon after her death.

Honorable members will, I think, agree that the relief scheme adopted by the Government secures for the widow or the widowed mother continued occupation, removes the worry associated with the struggle to pay arrears, rates and taxes - a very vexed and difficult question in the ease of a lot of these unfortunate women -and introduces the practice of payments being based upon the principle of “ ability to pay.” I know of no other scheme of this character, and I feel sure that it will be of distinct advantage to those who are eligible to participate in its benefits. In appealing to honorable members of all parties to support the measure, I assure them that each case will be sympathetically considered. Before the payment required of a purchaser is assessed, the whole of her circumstances will be duly weighed, and from time to time a sum will be decided upon which she will be able to afford. After the death of the purchaser of a war service home, the widow may not be in a position to pay any portion of the instalments that fall due. In such a case, she will be relieved of the necessity to make any payment. On the other hand, she may be in a position to pay a proportion of the instalment. The Minister will have power to vary the amount from time to time in accordance with the circumstances of the widow.

Mr Mahoney:

– On what income?


– On any income.

Mr Mahoney:

– How would the income be determined?


– By the amount that she receives by way of pension, contributions from her family, or other sources. She will become the purchaser of the home, and all the income that she receives will be taken into consideration.

Mr Clark:

-Will the capital values be written down?


– No. That is an entirely different matter. I urge honorable members not to adopt the view-point of existing capital values, because it introduces something with which I am not in a position to deal under this measure. I have deliberately and purposely refrained from touching any of the other contentious matters associated with the purchase of war service homes, in the hope that I shall be able to pass the bill with the least delay, and thus make the benefits conf erred by it available to these widows as quickly as possible.

Mr Rosevear:

– During her widowhood, her indebtedness to the Crown will be greatly increased if she is unable to maintain her payments.


– Her indebtedness to the Crown will not be altered. . Under this scheme, instead of having arrears, she will have the liability of a debt contracted under the trust fund, because the Crown will pay her instalments from time to time. That debt will be a. first charge on her home.

Mr Rosevear:

– What would happen in the event of her remarrying?


– I want to make that point particularly clear. The husband of a war service homes widow who remarries will have to accept the full responsibility of any liability caused by payments from the trust fund. There is no suggestion that she will be deprived of the home. If the husband is able to meet the full instalments., she will be in exactly the same position as if she had borrowed money from the trust fund to meet her instalments. She and her husband can then undertake to purchase the home for the amount charged against it when application is made for the transfer.

Mr Rosevear:

– Under a recommendation of the committee of inquiry, a cer tain percentage is charged as rent on the earnings. How is the other debt to be recovered?


– Let me make the position a little clearer. A soldier dies and leaves his widow in a home upon which the liability is, say, £800. The average instalment is £4 a month. From the trust fund the Government will pay either the full amount of the instalment as it falls due in the event of the widow being unable to make any payment, or, £3 a month if she is able to make a payment of £1. The amount thus paid, in addition to the cost of rates, taxes and repairs, will be a first charge on the home. If the widow should remarry, that cottage would carry the original debt of £800, less the instalments paid from the trust fund, plus the amount she owed to the trust fund. The debt of the widow is not being increased. On the contrary, she will be prevented from frilling into arrears, and thus placing herself beyond the provisions of the War Service Homes Act, her obligations to municipal authorities will be discharged, and the house will he kept in repair. The effect will be to preserve not only the equity of the widow, but also the security of the Crown. The intention is that the widow shall have the use of the home for the whole of her lifetime. ‘.

Mr Gander:

– Will interest be charged on the debt due to the trust fund?


– The amount advanced will be charged against her account as though she were drawingthe money from a bank. When the widow dies, if she owes less than has been paid out on her account, her beneficiaries will be entitled to the balance. If, on the other hand, as will probably happen in a number of cases, the amount owing is greater than the cottage is worth, then the Commonwealth will shoulder the loss, and the cottage will become the property of the Crown. During her lifetime a widow may desire to sell the property. There is no suggestion that she shall be handicapped in any shape or form. In such an event, the property will revert to the Commission on behalf of the Crown, and if upon being sold there is any equity in it, she will receive cash to that amount.

Mr Gander:

– Will she be permitted to let the property if she desires to live with a son or a daughter?


– No provision has been made for her to let the property so that she may draw rent from it. But if she were prepared to let it, in exactly the same way as a purchaser may now do, the rent would go in satisfaction of the instalment, and there would be no obligation on the widow to make any further payment. This assumes that the rent would be sufficient to meet the monthly instalment and defray the cost of rates, taxes and repairs. To-day the purchaser of a war service home may vacate the premises and let them to a tenant; the rent then goes to the Commission in payment of the instalment.

Mr Scullin:

– The whole of the rent ?


– Yes. If it amounts to a little more than the instalment, the extra sum is placed to a credit account which hears interest and may be drawn upon to meet later instalments should the tenant vacate the premises. Thus everything possible is done to protect the interests of the purchaser.

Mr Gander:

– And there will be no possibility under this bill of any soldier’s widow being evicted from her home?


– None whatever providing the assessed payments are made. Prom time to time the proposition has been advanced that these homes should he given free to widows. Quite a number of honorable members opposite have made representations on that basis. It would be exceedingly difficult for any Government to justify the adoption of such a course.

Mr Garden:

– Why not insure the home and take the risk?


– I shall come to that point in a moment.

If the Government decided to give these widows homes free of further charge, some would be treated much more generously than others. In some cases the balance owing might be only £150, while in other instances the arrears might amount to £1,000. A large number of widows of ex-soldiers live in houses which do not come under the War. Service Homes Act, and these occupants would get no benefit at all. Under the scheme provided for by the bill, the widow will have the right to remain in her home for the rest of her life, without fear of eviction and without worry as to accumulating commitments which she, perhaps, cannot meet. The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) has made many representations to me on this subject, but he has never asked me to hand over war service homes to the widows of ex-soldiers without restrictions or conditions of any kind. I think he will agree that it is only fair to ask the occupant to make such payments as she can afford, in view of her circumstances and responsibilities.


– Is not that the present practice?


– No. Under the law as it stands a widow is not entitled to the benefits recommended by the War Service Homes Committee of Inquiry, as the original contract expired on the death of her husband ; but we have been giving her the benefit of the relief ‘proposed by the committee without legal authority to do so.

The other amendments for which the bill provides are more or less of a machinery character. One of them relates to the tenure of office of the Commissioner, and seeks to increase the period for which he may be re-appointed from “not exceeding three years” to “not exceeding seven years “. It is desirable to secure the best possible administration, and, after a commissioner has served for three years and given complete satisfaction,power should be given to re-appoint him for a period longer than three years.

In the event of certain occurrences such as earth tremors, which cause damage to war service homes, the insurance money cannot be credited to the account of the Commission, although the property which is the security on which the Commission has advanced money has been destroyed, or its value has depreciated. This bill gives greater power to the insured person and the Commission to use the insurance money for the purpose of restoring a home to its original condition.

Mr Collins:

– Will this provision apply to widows only?


– No, it will apply to all purchasers of war service homes.

Mr Rosevear:

-The occupant pays the insurance premium, and the department wants the right to say how the money shall he expended.


– If a home were destroyed, we could not allow the occupant to use the insurance money for any purpose other than the re-establishment of the security on which the advance was made.

Mr Collins:

– Suppose an ex-soldier is in a mental institution, and his wife and family are in occupation of a war service home?


– The bill makes no provision for such a case. The important principle which the House is asked to confirm is that a widow in occupation of one of these homes must pay regularly the amount which is assessed as a reasonable sum for her to pay. Otherwise, she will undoubtedly be confronted with the prospect of eviction. “While I occupy my present position, no unreasonable payment will be demanded, but the widow will be required to make regular payments in part liquidation of Iter liability; the department making up the balance of the amount owing, so that the debt will be gradually extinguished. In this bill the Government has put forth a genuine effort to benefit one of the most deserving sections of the community; but it cannot make provision for all the cases of hardship which honorable members have brought under notice.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Forde) adjourned.

page 1205


Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.

page 1205


Motion (by Mr. Menzies) put -

That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act relating to the application of sanctions againstItaly.

The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)

AYES: 38

NOES: 23

Majority . . . . 15



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Bill brought up by Mr. Menzies.

Motion (by Mr. Menzies) put -

That the bill be now read a first time.

The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)

AYES: 39

NOES: 23

Majority . . . .16



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a first time.

Leave not granted.

Motion (by Mr. Menzies) put -

That the Standing Orders be suspended, to enable the second reading to be moved forthwith.

The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)

AYES: 39

NOES: 23

Majority . . . . 16




– There being an absolute majority of the members of the House voting with the Ayes, I declare the question so resolved in the affirmative.

Second Reading

AttorneyGeneral · Kooyong · UAP

– I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

In moving the second reading of this bill, which relates to the imposition of economic sanctions on Italy, I think it desirable that I should begin with a brief examination not only of the Covenant of the League of Nations but also of the procedural steps which have led up to the proposed legislation. I do not intend to rehearse the arguments which support the Government’s policy of standing behind the League and its Covenant ; it is . sufficient to say that the Government, yielding to nobody in its sincere and anxious desire that the peace of this nation and of the British Empire should be preserved, has found itself confronted by a choice between supporting the League, and thus doing something for the future collective security of the world, and rejecting the League, with all the grievous implications of such a step.

Effective support of the League, however, requires that we should clarify our minds on two matters: first, the nature of our obligations under the Covenant; second, the means by which we seek to discharge those obligations.

The nature of our obligations can best be understood by looking not only at the language of the Covenant to which we are a party, but also at some of the outstanding events of the last few weeks.

The dispute between Italy and Abyssinia having been referred to the Council of the League of Nations under article 15 of the Covenant, the committee of that body on the 7th October reported that, in its opinion, Italy had resorted to war in violation of its obligations under article 12 of the Covenant. On the 8th October this report was approved unanimously by the other members of the Council, the votes of the disputants not being counted. Thus, there was a unanimous finding by the representatives of Great Britain, France, Soviet Russia, Argentine, Australia, Chile, Denmark, Ecuador, Poland, Portugal, Roumania, Spain and Turkey. On the 11th October, at a meeting of the League Assembly representing 54 of the 58 countries which are members of the League, Austria, Hungary and Albania stated that they could not accept the opinion expressed by the Council. No other country dissented, and a committee of all members other than the parties and the dissenting countries was set up to co-ordinate the measures to be taken under article 16.

It was therefore overwhelmingly established through the machinery of international judgment that Italy, as a member of the League, had resorted to war in disregard of its Covenants. The consequence of this is to be seen if we look at the unequivocal language of article 16, and particularly at its material portions contained in paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of the article. They are as follows: -

  1. Should any member of the League resort to war in disregard of its covenants under articles 12, 13 or 15, it shall ipso facto be deemed to have committed an act of war against all other members of the League, which hereby undertake immediately to subject it 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.
  2. It shall be the duty of the Council in such case 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 bo used to protect the covenants of the League.
  3. The members of the League agree, further, that they will mutually support one another in the financial and economic measures which are taken under this article, in order to minimize the loss and inconvenience resulting from the above measures, and that they will mutually support one another in resisting any special measures aimed at one of their number by the covenant-breaking State, and that they will take the necessary steps to afford passage through their territory to the forces of any of the members of the League which are cooperating to protect the covenants of the League.

At this stage some confusion occurs in the record, a confusion which has led to a good deal of public controversy, and a close examination therefore becomes’ necessary.

It will be seen from the language of article 16 that it deals with what have been called economic sanctions and military sanctions in two fundamentally different ways. As to economic sanctions, it provides in terms for an undertaking of an absolute and immediate character. The members of the League “hereby undertake immediately to subject’ it to the severance of all trade or financial relations, &c.” As to military sanctions, it provides for no automatic obligation at all, but confers upon the Council of the League a duty to recommend to the several Governments concerned what forces they shall contribute to the armed forces to be used to protect the Covenants.

An examination of the language of paragraphs 2 and 3 of the article indicates that whereas the imposition of economic sanctions is a matter of obligation, the imposition of military sanctions is a matter upon which there is a discretion to accept or not to accept the recommendation of the Council. I am supported in this view by Professor Brierly, who at page 217 of his Law of Nations, says -

It would seem that the boycott provisions are intended to he automatic; whereas the military provisions, since there the Council has only a power to recommend, are not.

The automatic character of economic sanctions under article 16 has, however, produced much discussion ever since the early days of the League. It was felt by many members of the League that the cause of peace might in certain cases be better served by less drastic sanctions than those indicated by the language of the articles, and that in any event any policy of sanctions must possess a collective character if it were to succeed. Attempts were therefore early made to devise some workable machinery for the implementation of the article. These attempts were in 1921 crystallized into a series of resolutions adopted by the Assembly on the 4th October of that year. The 1921 meeting was the second assembly of the League, and it adopted certain amendments of the Covenant, one of which was -

It is for the Council to give an opinion, whether or not a breach of the Covenant has token place. In deliberations off this question- in the Council, the votes of members of the League alleged to have resorted towar, and of members against whom such action was directed, shall not be counted.

These proposed amendments were ratified by Great Britain and Australiaand many other countries but not by a sufficient number of countries to enable them to be as yet effective as amendments of the Covenant. At the time, however, of the’ adoption of these proposed amendments, it was resolved unanimously that, pending their formal ratification, they should constitute rules for’ guidance, and that in addition certain resolutions as to the procedure to be followed under article 16 should be put into force.

I will, with the permission of the House, have- recorded in Hansard the full text of article 16 with the proposed amendments thereof and the resolutions concerning the economic weapon adopted by the Assembly on the 4th October, 1921.

Leave granted.


– For the present purpose it is sufficient to refer to the more important of the resolutions.

Resolution 3 says -

  1. The unilateral action of the defaulting State cannot create a state of war: it merely entitles the other members of the League to resort to acts ofwar or to declare themselves in astate of war with the Covenantbreaking State: but it is in accordance with the spirit of the Covenant that the League of Nations should attempt, at least, at the outset, to avoid war, and to restore peace by economic pressure.

Resolution 4 says -

  1. It is the duty of each member of the League to decide for itself whether a breach of the Covenanthas been committed. The fulfilment of their duties under article16 is required from members of the League by the express terms of the Covenant, and they cannot neglect them without breach of their Treaty obligations.

Resolution 5 provides for the reference of all cases of breach of Covenant under article 16 to the Council, and resolution 6 provides for the circulation of the minutes of the Council meeting if that body is of opinion that a State has been guilty of a breach of Covenant. Resolution 7 provides for the setting up of a technical committee for the purpose of assisting the Council to enforce article 16. Resolution 8 indicates that the

Council shall recommend the date on which the enforcement of economic pressure under article 16 is to be begun. Resolution 9 deails with the case of the Member State upon whom some hardship might be inflicted by providing that -

  1. If it is thought desirable to postpone, wholly or partially in the case of certain States, the effective application of the economic sanctions laid down in article 16, such postponement shall not be permitted except in so far as it is desirable for the success of the common plan of action, or reduces to a minimum the losses and embarrassments which may be entailed in the case of certain members of the League by the application of the sanctions.

Resolution 18 provides that -

In special circumstances and in support of economic measures to be taken, it may become advisable: (a) to establish an effective blockade of the seaboard of the covenantbreaking State; (b) to entrust to some members of the League the execution of the blockade operations.

The procedure of the League of Nations during the last three weeks has been based upon these resolutions which, as I have said, represent an attempt to give a fully workable character to the provisions of the Covenant. I may, perhaps, be pardoned if I pause to emphasize two points. The first is that the member’s of the League have, without destroying the absolute nature of the obligation to impose sanctions, provided for a means of co-ordination which can, as in the present case, lead to the imposition of special or modified sanctions. The second is that a blockade, stated somewhat baldly in article 16, is accurately treated as the kind of sanction which can be invoked only by special circumstances.

At this stage I return to my brief chronicle of events. On the 11th October a committee of all members other than the combatants and the dissenting members was set up to co-ordinate the measures to be taken in discharge of the obligations under article 16. This committee has been known as the Sanctions Coordination Committee. This committee, I am advised, is not an instrument of the Council or of the Assembly, but is in substance a conference of League members to assist them in carrying out their obligations under article 16. Its decisions are in a sense recommendations to governments and therefore the rules as to unanimity do not apply. It would be a mistake, however, to assume that because this committee is merely making recommendations its decisions may at will be ignored by Australia. What it is doing is to make recommendations to us as to when and how and in relation to what specific matters our obligations should be discharged. If we do not care to accept its recommendations, we are not thereby released from our obligations; if we refuse to come into line with other countries on the special non-military measures and means suggested, the only result is that we are remitted to our obligations under the article in their absolute and unqualified sense. Honorable members will therefore at once see that while we have an effective voice through our representative on the committee, our freedom to accept or reject the ultimate recommendation of the committee, so far as it relates to economic sanctions, is nominal rather than real. Each of the sanctions provided for in the bill which I now have the honour to submit has been, in fact, recommended by the Coordination Committee and accepted by the Government of Australia and by the governments of many other members of the League. According to the latest advices received to-day the countries which have replied to the League regarding their willingness to apply sanctions nro more numerous than have been indicated in newspaper reports, and the position now is as follows: - No. 1, “ Arms Embargo “, 4.1 countries ; No. 2, “ Financial sanctions “, 29 countries ; No. 3, “Imports of Italian goods”, 27 countries; and No. 4, “Exports of Raw Materials to Italy 26 countries.

May I now turn aside to glance at one or two criticisms which have recently been made of the efficacy of the League of Nations and of the policy of sanctions.

It has been said, and by no one more forcefully than by my honorable friend, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), that the absence of the United States of America, Germany and Japan horn the League has fundamentally altered the whole basis of the Covenant and rendered it no longer a binding obligation. As to this, I desire to point out to the House that the Covenant has never been denounced by any member of the League, that the resolutions of 1921 have never been repudiated by any of the governments concerned, and that at the meeting at Locarno on 16th October, 1925, the continued existence of article 16 and its obligations was clearly admitted by the most important members of the League. On that occasion the representatives of Great Britain, Belgium, France, Italy, Czechoslovakia and Poland delivered to Germany a collective note regarding article 16 in these terms -

The German delegation has requested certain explanations in regard to article 16 of the Covenant of the League of Nations.

We are not in a position to speak in the name of the League, but in view of the. discussions which have already taken place in the Assembly and in the commissions of the League of Nations, and after the explanations which have been exchanged between ourselves, we do not hesitate to inform you of the interpretation which, in so far as we are concerned, we place upon article 1G.

In accordance with that interpretation the obligations resulting from the said article on the members of the League must be understood to mean that each State member of the League is bound to co-operate loyally and effectively in support of the Covenant and in resistance to any act of aggression to an extent which is compatible with its military situation and takes its ; geographical position into account.

It is interesting to remember that, at the time of the declaration, Germany was, as it is to-day, outside the League; Japan was in the League, but Russia was not; America was, of course, outside the League but is, if I may say so, clearly more sympathetic with the ideals of the League to-day than it was then. In short, the League as a League is to-day not less strong than it was in 1925 when the declaration to Germany was made at Locarno. I may add, as a fact not without significance, that the signatory for Italy in 1925 was Benito Mussolini, and that Abyssinia was then, largely as a result of Italian advocacy, a member of the League and is still a member.

It has also been said, in criticism not only of the attitude of this Government but also of the attitude of my honorable and learned friend, the member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) that “ sanctions mean war “, and that to fail to recognize this is a symptom of intellectual obliquity. The advocates of this view have cast around them for some authority, and have relied upon a statement made by no less eminent a lawyer than Sir John Latham. May I read to tho House the full text of Sir John Latham’3 view on this point as it appears at pages 21 and 22 of the recently published Proceedings of the Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law. He says -

Article’ 10 of the Covenant of the League contains the well-known provision for economic sanotions. For a number of years this article waa regarded as a substitute for war. It is now being realized, however, that the application of economic sanctions is not a substitute for war. It is really an act of war. Any one who remembers the nature and the effect of the Allied blockade of the Central Powers in the Great War will hardly deny that a blockade is definitely an act of war. The prohibition of economic and other intercourse must involve, in many cases, if it is to be effective, the establishment of a blockade. Accordingly it must be realized that when it is proposed that the provisions of article 1(1 should be put into operation the decision which a government has to take is just the same decision as it has to take when the question is one of a declaration of war. The responsibility upon Ministers is the same in one case as in the other. If tho prohibition of intercourse is to be real and if it is resisted, then the governments applying the sanctions must be prepared to see the matter through by the application of physical force. Accordingly, article 16 does not abolish the risk of war. lt only regularizes a particular method of warfare which in some cases may turn out to be very effective without the institution of actual fighting operations. It cannot, however, be regarded as a guarantee against the possibility of warlike operations,.

It will be seen that the point that the learned author is making is that the decision to impose sanctions is one of great gravity, and that a resistance to economic sanctions may very well involve the application of physical force. This is undeniably true, but it is also true that in such a case the imposition- of sanctions will have produced war not because of the inherent character of sanctions but because there has been a subsequent act of warlike aggression by the country against whom the sanctions are enforced. Let me remind honorable members opposite of an illustration furnished by Mr. A. B. Piddington, who pointed out that it was just as foolish to blame a court of law for violence because somebody chose to shoot a bailiff when he was executing a warrant as to charge Australia with committing an act of war because it co-operated in the imposition of sanctions in terms of the

League Covenant. A method of coercion which is in its nature non-violent does not assume the character of violence simply because it may, in the case of a foolish or desperate opponent, lead to acts of physical aggression on his part. I adopt the language of Dr. R. L. Buell Research Director of the Foreign Policy Association of America, who, writing in 1932, said-

A fundamental distinction has always been made between non-violent and violent methods of coercion. Every government in the world prohibits the use of violence in disputes between labour and capital, but nearly every government in the world authorizes labour to strike and to organize boycotts against capital. Mahatma Gandhi is tho leading pacifist in the world; but Gandhi has organized a boycott against the British Government for the purpose of securing independence. Now there is no difference in principle between a labour strike or a boycott, and international sanctions. Both arc non-violent methods of coercion, directed toward a social purpose.

I also point out to the House that if we are to reject any proposal for the imposition of economic sanctions where they are designed to serve the broad and humane purpose of keeping the world’s peace by making it unprofitable and inconvenient to go to war, we shall be in a poor position to affirm our right to impose customs prohibitions of an exactly similar character where they are designed to serve our own domestic ends. If the remote possibility of armed resistance is to deter us from taking economic measures against an aggressor, we may as well at once admit that the Covenant of the League is futile, that the League itself is no more than an academic debating society, and that we have abandoned the principle of collective security in order to return to that un- ‘ happy state in which each nation fears its neighbour and the rivalry of arms goes on unchecked and uncontrolled.

I shall now deal very briefly with the principal provisions of the bill.

Honorable members will note that in clause 2 we have defined Italy as including all of the colonies and possessions of Italy as well as the kingdom itself, In the same clause we have inserted a definition of the expression “during the present war “ for the purpose of clause 6 which gives power to prohibit imports and exports “ during the present war.”

The principal clauses imposing, or giving the Governor-General in Council power to impose, sanctions are clauses 4 and 6. Paragraphs a to f inclusive of sub-clause 1 prohibit the making of payments to the Government of Italy or to public authorities or persons or corporations in Italy, and also prohibit other financial transactions to, or for the benefit of, or in the interests of, Italy. These provisions are designed to give effect to Proposal II. of the sanctions proposal by the Co-ordination Committee. It will be noticed from sub-clause 6 of this clause that the sanctions contained in paragraphs a to / of sub-clause 1 do not come into force until a date to be fixed by proclamation.

Upon the subject of the date from which these sanctions will, as regards Australia, come into force, it may be mentioned that the ,.Common wealth Government has informed the League of Nations that it will be prepared to put these sanctions into force upon such date as is suggested by the Co-ordination Committee, not being earlier than fourteen days from the 31st October. This period of time is necessary to enable the Commonwealth Government to make the necessary arrangements throughout Australia to give effect to the sanctions.

It will be noticed that by paragraph g of sub-clause 1 of clause 4 power is taken to prescribe certain other acts, the doing of which in the interests or on behalf of Italy is prohibited. It is not practicable at the moment to say what other financial and economic sanctions may be found necessary in the near future, and this paragraph has been inserted to provide, if need be, for such further sanctions. Any such sanctions would be prescribed by regulation, which must be tabled in both Houses of the Parliament within fifteen sitting days, and may be disallowed by either House.

It may be interesting, to honorable members to know that in Great Britain these sanctions are being imposed by Order in Council made under the Treaty of Peace Act 1919, and that in New Zealand a short act has been passed authorizing in general terms the application of sanctions by Order in Council.

It will be noted that while the effect of clause 4 is to prohibit the making of payments or the establishing of credits, the clause does not aim at the extinction of the liability. That liability will con tinue to exist, but its discharge will be suspended during the operation of the imposition of sanctions.

The attention of honorable members is also drawn to the provisions of clause 6 of the bill under which the Government seeks power to prohibit by regulation during the present war between Italy and Abyssinia, the exportation or importation of any goods. This power is sought for the purpose of enabling the Commonwealth to give effect to the sanctions contained in Proposals III. and IV. of the Co-ordination Committee. It is possible that the powers which the GovernorGeneral in Council has under the existing customs law are sufficient to empower the Government to do what is proposed under this clause; but the Government has thought it wise to proceed by way of a special bill in order to give the Parliament a full opportunity to discuss the measures proposed.

Although it has not been necessary to include any express provision- dealing with the matter, honorable members will recall that the recommendation of the Sanctions Co-ordination Committee in relation to the prohibition of importation expressly excepted goods en route at the time of the imposition of the prohibition, but it also provided that goods the subject of existing contracts should not otherwise be excepted from the prohibition. When regulations are made under clause 6 effect will be given to these principles.

It will be noted from clause 3 that the provisions of this bill, with the exception of those relating to the importation and exportation of goods, are applied to our external territories, Papua, New Guinea and Norfolk Island. Generally the laws of those territories provide that Commonwealth laws shall not apply to those territories unless expressed so to apply. The object of clause 3 is to make it clear that the provisions of the bill when enacted will apply to those territories. The provisions relating to the importation and exportation of good? have been excepted from application to the territories for the reason that the measures proposed in relation to the importation or exportation of goods to or from those territories may generally be taken under the existing laws of the territories without the passage of any other legislation.

By clause 9 of the bill power is taken to suspend by proclamation the operation of clause 4 should circumstances render that course desirable. By clause 10 of the bill power is taken to terminate by proclamation the operation of the measure at any time when the Governor-General is of opinion that the necessity for its continuance no longer exists.

The remaining previsions of the bill are merely the usual supplementary provisions. They do not call for special mention.

Mr Rosevear:

– What is the significance of sub-clause 2 of Clause 4?


– As the honorable member will see, the prohibitions under Clause 4 are prohibitions except under licence. It might turn out that a number of individual Italian citizens in Australia may be in the habit of remitting small sums of money to Italy periodically, for example for the upkeep of their parents. Such sums would come under the heading of “ humanitarian payments “ which are exempted from the application of sanctions adopted by the League of Nations. It would be a very cumbersome way of dealing with this matter if the persons concerned had to approach the Minister on each occasion for the issue of a licence. For this reason it is proposed to provide for the delegation of this power to certain authorized officers.

Before leaving this matter, I should like to add a few words on a point which will have presented itself, not only to honorable members, but also to very many thousands of the general public. Many members of the League of Nations have not yet indicated their adherence to some of the proposed sanctions, though our information is that the numbers are being added to from day to day. Suppose, however, it turns out that important or essential members of the League are abstaining from the imposition of sanctions in such numbers or to such an extent as to convert the sanctions weapon from being one which is effective against Italy, into being one which is merely injurious to the sanctioning countries. “ In these circumstances” it is asked, “where would Australia stand?” My answer to this is to direct the attention of honorable members to one large matter of principle and to two express provisions in this bill. The large matter of principle is that the whole policy of article 16 of the Covenant, as interpreted and operated under the Resolutions of 1921, is that action shall be collective and not individual-. It follows from this that if other countries break their obligations under the Covenant, and those other countries are either of such economic importance or so numerous that the collective nature of the proposed sanctions is substantially destroyed, then the countries willing to impose sanctions would ‘be at perfect liberty to reconsider their own position. Indeed, the League itself will obviously take cognizance of this point, for its meeting to-day is called to consider the answers given by Member States and to fix a date as from which sanctions shall apply. In this present bill, as I have already pointed out, there is one set of provisions, the effect of which is to delay the coming into operation of the bill until the Governor-General has decided on the appropriate date. There is a provision in clause 9 which enables the Governor-General, even after the coming into operation of the bill, to suspend clause 4, while there would, of course, be an unfettered right to repeal or alter regulations made under any other clause. I hope that these considerations will make it clear to everybody that some breathing space will exist between the discussion of this bill and the coming into effect of the sanctions provided for, a breathing space during which the Government of this country, like the governments of other countries affected, will have’ opportunity to consider whether any events have happened which may prevent sanctions from possessing a collective and effective character. It has been said repeatedly on behalf of both Great Britain, and Australia that action taken to support the Covenant must be combined action and not sporadic or individual action. The policy of the Government of the Commonwealth is, as it has been throughout this unhappy dispute, one of encouraging and strengthening the notion that the interests alike of civilization and good sense require that the business of preserving the world’s peace should cease to be nobody’s business and should become, if not everybody’s busi- ness, at least the business of all those nations who exercise any substantial degree of authority and influence.

In conclusion, let me emphasize that what we are here dealing with possesses an economic and not a military character. This Commonwealth, like Great Britain, neither desires nor contemplates war with Italy or any other country. Its adherence to the policy of sanctions is based upon its profound belief that collective action will be productive, not of war, but of the prevention or limitation of war. In common with other members of the League, we say to Italy - “ We seek not war, hut peace. Our past associations with you over many years cry out against the very thought of war. But the way to peace is along the path of negotiation and binding agreement. Our great desire is that you should tread that path with us”.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Curtin) adjourned.

Matter authorized to be incorporated in debates. article 10 of the covenant of the league of Nations showing Amendments which have deen adopted by the assembly, but which are not yet in force by reason of the Necessary Ratifications for that Purpose not having been Lodged. The parts italicized represent the proposed amendments. In the case of the first paragraph, the italicized part -relates to the latter part of the existing text of paragraph 1, which is enclosed in brockets.

  1. ‘Should any Member of the League resort to war in disregard of its Covenants under articles .12, 1.3 or 15, it shall ipso facto be deemed to have committed an act of war against all other Members of the League, [which hereby undertake immediately to subject it to the severance of all trade or financial relations, the .prohibition of all intercourse between .their nationals and tho 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 tlie League or not.]

Amendment in substitution of part bracketted - ” . . . which hereby undertake immediately to subject it to the severance of all trade or financial relations and to prohibit all intercourse at least between persons resident within their territories and persons resident within the territory of the Covenant-breaking State and, if they deem it expedient, also between their nationals and the nationals of the Covenant-breaking State, and to prevent intercourse at least between persons resident within the territory of that State and persons resident within, tlie territory of any other Stale, whether a Member of the League or not, and, if they deem it expedient, also between the nationals of th,at State and the nationals of any other State whether a Member of the League or not.”

  1. It is for the Council to give an opinion whether or not a- breach of the Covenant has taken place. In deliberations on this question in the Council the votes of Members of thu League alleged to have resorted to war and pf Members against whom such action was directed shall not be counted.

  2. The Council will notify to all Members of the League the date which it recommends for the application of the economic pressure under this article.

  3. Nevertheless, the Council may, in the case of particular Members, postpone the coming into force of any of these measures for a specified period where it is satisfied that such a postponement will facilitate the attainment of the object of the measures referred to in the preceding paragraph, or that it is necessary in order to minimize the loss and inconvenience which will be caused to such Members.

  4. 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.
  5. The Members of the League agree, further, that they will mutually support one another in the financial and economic measures which are taken under this article, in order to minimize the loss and inconvenience resulting from the above measures, and that they will mutually support one another in resisting any special measures aimed at one of their number by tho Covenant-breaking State, and that they will take the necessary steps to afford passage through their territory to the forces of any of the Members of the League which are co-operating to protect the Covenants of the League.
  6. Any Member of the League which has violated any Covenant of the League may be declared to be no longer a Member of the League by a vote of the Council concurred in by the representatives of all the other Members of the League represented thereon.

Resolutions Concerning the EconomicWeapon, Adopted by the Assembly on October 4th, 1921.

The Assembly adopts the following resolutions: -

  1. The resolutions and the proposals for amendments to article 16 which have been adopted by the Assembly shall, so long as the amendments have not been put in force in the form required by the Covenant, constitute rules for guidance which the Assembly recommends, as a provisional measure, to the Council and to the members of the League in connexion with the application of article 16.
  2. Subject to the special provisions of article 17, the economic measures referred to in article16 shall be applicable only in the specific case referred to in this article. it. The unilateral action of the defaulting Stale cannot create a state of war: it merely entitles the, other members of the League to resort to acts of war or to declare themselves in a state of war with the Covenant-breaking State; but it is in accordance with the spirit of the Covenant that the League of Nations should attempt, at least at the outset, to avoid war, and to restore peace by economic pressure.
  3. It is the duty of each member of the League to decide for itself whether a breach of the Covenant has been committed. The fulfilment of their duties under article16 is required from members of the League by the express terms of the Covenant, and they cannot neglect them without breach of their treaty obligations.
  4. All cases of breach of Covenant under article 10 shall be referred to the Council as a matter of urgency at the request of any member of the League. Further, if a breach of Covenant be committed, or if there arise a danger of such breach being committed, the Secretary-General shall at once give notice thereof to all the members of the Council. Upon receipt of such a request by a member of the League, or of such a notice by the Secretary-General, the Council will meet as soon as possible. The Council shall summon representatives of the parties to the conflict and of all States which arc neighbours of the defaulting State, or which normally maintain close economic relations with it, or whose co-operation would be especially valuable for the application of article16.
  5. If the Council is of opinion that a State has been guilty of a breach of Covenant, the minutes of the meeting at which that opinion is arrived at shall beimmediately sent toall members of the League, accompanied by a statement of reasons and by an invitation to take action accordingly. The fullest publicity shall be given to this decision.
  6. For the purpose of assisting it to enforce article 10, the Council may, if it thinks fit, be assisted by a technical committee. This committee, which will remain in permanent session as soon its the action decided on is taken, may include, if desirable, representatives of the States specially affected.
  7. The Council shall recommend the date on which the enforcement of economic pressure, under article16, is to be begun and shall give notice of that date to all the members of the League.
  8. All States must be treated alike as regards the application of the measures of economic pressure, with the following reservations: -

    1. It may be necessary to recommend the execution of special measures by certain States.
    2. If it is thought desirable to postpone, wholly or partially in the case of certain States, the effective application of the economic sanctions laid down in article 16, such postponement shall not be permitted except in so far as it is desirable for the success of the common plan of action, or reduces to a minimum the losses and embarrassments which may be entailed in the case of certain members of the League by the application of the sanctions.
  9. It is not possible to decide beforehand, and in detail, the various measures of an economic, commercial and financial nature to be taken in each case where economic pressure is to be applied.

When the case arises, the Council shall recommend to the members of the League a plan for joint action.

  1. The interruption of diplomatic relations may, in the first place, be limited to the withdrawal of the heads of missions.
  2. Consular relations may possibly be maintained.
  3. For the purposes of the severance of relations between persons belonging to the Covenant-breaking State and persons belonging to other States’ members of the League, the test shall be residence and not nationality.
  4. In cases of prolonged application of economic pressure, measures of increasing stringency may be taken. The cutting-off of the food supplies of the civil population of the defaulting State shall be regarded as an extremely drastic measure which shall only be applied if the other measures available are clearly inadequate.
  5. Correspondence and all other methods of communication shall be subjected to special regulations. 1.0. Humanitarian relations shall be continued.
  6. Efforts should be made to arrive at arrangements which would ensure the cooperation of States’ non-members of the League, in the measures to be taken.
  7. In special circumstances and in support of economic measures to be taken, it may become advisable; (a) to establish an effective blockade of the seaboard of the Covenantbreaking State; (b) to entrust to some members of the League the execution of the blockade operations.
  8. The Council shall urge upon all the States’ members of the League, that their Governments should take the necessary preparatory measures, above all of a legislative character, to enable them to enforce at short notice the necessary measures of economic pressure.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Curtin) adjourned.

page 1214


Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Menzies) read a first time.

page 1214


Motion (by Mr. White) agreed to -

That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to approve an agreement made between His Majesty’s Government of the Common- wealth of Australia and His Majesty’s Government of the State of Queensland, and for other purposes.

Bill brought up, and read a first time.


Minister for Trade and Customs · Balaclava · UAP

by leave - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

This is a bill to approve the sugar agreement made on the 19th July last between the Governments of the Commonwealth and Queensland whereunder, for five years as from the 1st September, 1936, (a) the prohibition of imports of foreign sugar is to continue; (b) the present selling prices for sugar, golden syrup and treacle required for Australian consumption are to remain; (c) the contribution by the sugar industry to the fruit industry is to be increased from £200,000 to £216,000 per annum; (d) the conditions applicable to the wholesale discount are to be amended with the object of creating fair competition between wholesale merchants and also amongst all classes of retailers; and (e) other usual conditions of previous sugar agreements will be continued.

The unprecedented volume of antisugar agreement propaganda, especially during the last few months, largely based on misrepresentation of the facts, renders it necessary that more than usual attention should be given to a comprehensive review of the Government’s sugar policy and the merits of the Australian sugar industry. I may say, however, that the principal critics are well-known freetrade organizers, who no doubt would as readily deny protection to other Australian industries. Of course, differences of opinion can prevail as to the advisability and the best means of protecting this industry. There are those who believe that sugar production should be left to black labour in foreign countries, thus enabling Australia to buy at world parity prices. In fact, it is the difference between the price of foreign raw sugar grown by coloured labour and the retail price of refined sugar in the capital cities of Australia, on which the most rabid critics base their case. Others may desire that Kanaka labour should be reintroduced into Australia to bring down the price, while among those who sincerely wish to preserve this valuable industry to Australia, there can be disagreementas to the extent of protection required.

The history of the sugar industry shows that nothing except an embargo, which has been the policy for the last twenty years, will suffice adequately to protect and stabilize it, in view of the violent fluctuation of overseas raw sugar prices, while the sugar agreement which accompanies the embargo, enables consumers to be safeguarded when world prices are high.

From a modest beginning on a commercial basis in 1866, the production of sugar-cane and raw sugar in Australia developed for many years under Kanaka labour in practically open competition with foreign producers. A vital condition of federation, however, wasthe enforcement of the White Australia policy, and the new Commonwealth undertook to protect the industry on a white-labour basis. The transition to white labour took some years. After that, the industry gradually progressed until the climax was reached in 1933, when 4,600,000 tons of sugar canewere produced from approximately 325,000 acres of cultivated land, of which some 240,000 acres were harvested. The resultant output of raw sugar that year was 667,000 tons, valued at over £11,000,000. The approximate personnel in both the sugar-growing States is - farmers 9,000, field workers 6,000, cane cutters 8,000, mill employees 6,500 and miscellaneous workers 1,100. There are also 1,700 refinery employees in five States, making a total of 32,300 persons directly engaged, and representing a population of probably 100,000 persons. In addition, there are estimated to be 60,000 people in the sugar belt whose living solely depends upon the continuance of the sugar industry; for example, tradespeople, carters, railway men, waterside workers and many others, together with their families.

The present method of protecting the sugar industry commenced in July, 1915, when the Commonwealth Government made the first agreement with the Queensland , Government. This agreement expressly said that its objects were “ to deal with the most serious position that had arisen with regard both to the sugar industry in Queensland and to the sugar supplies for the whole of the Commonwealth, by those governments cooperating for the benefit of. consumers and the protection of those engaged in the sugar industry”. At that time, the world war was causing great havoc with European beet sugar production, which ultimately fell to 25 per cent, of its normal output. Rationing of supplies was commencing in some of the belligerent nations. In Australia, however, production was then much less than local requirements. In order to avoid shortage of supplies and high prices to consumers, the new government-control fixed maximum prices for Australian sugar and prohibited all exports. It also concentrated on purchasing whatever foreign sugar was necessary, and was much helped in securing delivery of that sugar by its war-time control of shipping.

From 1915 to early in 1921, and again in 1923 and 1924, the Government’s sugar agreement policy saved consumers some millions of pounds, and was so effective that Australia was one of the very few nations that did not have to endure sugar shortages and severe rationing. For part of the time, Australia enjoyed much the lowest-priced sugar in the world, and this led to phenomenal exports of high sugarcontent goods such as jam and condensed milk.

Since 1924, however, the world’s freemarket price of sugar has steadily fallen. During the last five years it has been, according to recognized authorities, far below the cost of erven the most efficientlyproduced sugar in native-labour countries such as Java, where wages are as low as lOd. for men and 4d. for women and children for a day of twelve hours, or in Cuba, where even the former low wages have been virtually replaced by bare sustenance allowances, and where the country has passed through several periods of violence and revolution.

In these circumstances, it is not surprising that recent sugar agreements ha* operated for the very substantial benefit of the producers; that is, if one is fair as well as theoretically correct in calculating the cost to the community as being tho excess of the Australian price over the world’s free-market price. On this particular basis, the latest authoritative estimate of the excess cost of Australian sugar is that of Professor Giblin, who determined it last January at £5,100,000 per annum. Of course, should the coming international sugar conference in London succeed in restoring the free-market price to a remunerative level for the principal black-labour countries, this excess cost will be considerably reduced.

Eight previous sugar agreements have been concluded by four different governments, representing every political party in the federal arena.

The agreement has been renewed by the Lyons Government for the ninth time, because the agreement plan has been proved by Australian experience during the last twenty years to be the most effective arrangement for all interests concerned. World free-market sugar prices have fluctuated enormously during those years, having gone as high as £137 a ton for raw sugar and as low recently as £4 a ton. Obviously, the customs tariff method of protection, under such circumstances, would result in alternating periods of excessive prices to consumers and insufficient returns to producers, thus destroying any stability in the sugar industry and in .the many other industries in which sugar is an important raw material.

Contrary to a current opinion in Australia, government control of sugar is not confined to this country. Almost every sugar-producing nation in the world protects the industry with fixed domestic prices much above the free-market price, by means of import duties, consumption taxes, and/or bounties. The purely protective duties range from £10 10s. a ton to as high at £51 a ton, converted to Australian currency. In some countries excise duties or consumption taxes are imposed, some for ordinary revenue purposes and others to raise money for payment of a direct bounty to the local producers. Straight-out embargoes and government price-fixation exist in Denmark, Sweden and Latvia; and many prohibitive customs duties are, of course, virtual embargoes in themselves and, therefore, raise no revenue for the government. Several European nations - for example, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Ireland - and South Africa have sugar agreements, or similar machinery whereby the Govern- ment fixes local selling prices and also the prices to be paid to growers and sugar mills, as is done in Australia. The United Kingdom, the United States of America, and Holland pay bounties to local producers.

The extent of the total effective State assistance rendered to the sugar producers of certain countries by the cumulative effect of tariffs, bounties, remissions of excise, and price-fixation is indicated in the following table extracted from the annual report of the British Sugar Beet Society for 1934-35:-

In the United States of America a bounty is paid on both cane and beet sugar, the funds for which are raised through a processing tax on all sugar consumed. In Germany, France, and Czechoslovakia the prices are fixed by the governments as in Australia. In the United Kingdom there has been a bounty and some remission of excise duty on all beet sugar produced since the inception of the industry about eleven years ago. For the first five years the bounty on British beet sugar was no less than £19 10s. a ton, or a fraction over 2d. per lb. The British bounty, however, is now being reduced to a much smaller amount. In Italy there is a very high customs duty and also a consumption tax. The beet sugar industry in Holland is assisted by a bounty, the money for which is raised by special taxes.

Apart from sugar, the principle of a home-consumption price is being increasingly observed both here and abroad in regard to other commodities. In Australia this principle is applied to sugar, butter, cheese, dried fruits, jam, canning and other factory fruits, and cotton, and is about to be applied to wheat. I suggest to honorable members who have been influenced by reckless propaganda that, if they , wish to be consistent, or if they have any principles, they cannot support other schemes that benefit their particular States and oppose the protection of this industry. Incidentally, it should be remembered that the sugar agreement does no more than provide a homeconsumption price for the quantity of sugar required for local use.

I now come to the reasons actuating the Government in continuing the present prices for another five years. The first consideration was the financial position of the producers of sugar-cane and raw sugar. The last inquiry into the sugar industry was made by the Commonwealth Sugar Inquiry Committee of 1931. It issued two reports. The majority report indicated that the cost of production up to 1930 justified no reduction in the then retail price of 4½d. per lb., and the minority report was that a reduction equivalent to ¼d. per lb. could be made. These opinions were based upon a cost of efficient production of raw sugar fluctuating between £19 and £22 a ton. Since then, of course, the economic conditions have brought about lower wages in the sugar industry, and also lower costs of commodities required by sugar producers for their productive and living purposes.

The Lyons Government secured, by voluntary agreement with the producers themselves, a reduction of the Australian price as from January, 1933, equivalent to id. per lb. retail, which represented a loss of £1,250,000 per annum in the revenue of the sugar producers: Furthermore, the net return on the raw sugar exported has fallen appreciably. The result of these two factors is that the average return for all raw sugar last year was only £15 10s. 9d. a ton, which was found, on examination by the Government last February, to be definitely less than the present cost of efficient production, plus a reasonable return to farmers on their capital investment. The trend of the economic position of sugar producers is revealed by increasing liens on farmers’ crops. Up to a few seasons ago, liens were held over relatively few crops, but the position has developed since 1932 in the following manner in respect of the 5,168 farms situated in the districts from Mackay to Mossman: -

The large and growing percentage of liens to all crops corresponds with the steady reduction of prices for raw sugar, which have been of the following order : -

Proof of the soundness of the Government’s calculations last February, when it announced the renewal of the agreement, was obtained in the annual report of the Queensland Commissioner of Taxes issued in August, 1935, where it was shown that, in regard to personal exertion income earned during the year ended the 30th June, 1934, that is, the year when the average price of all raw sugar wa3 £16 3s. 6d. a ton, only 1,891 cane-farmers out of about 8,000 in Queensland, or 23-J per cent., earned sufficient money to be liable to pay income tax. Nearly 1,100 of these farmers were classified in taxable income groups up to £250 per annum. Whilst these results are probably better than for some other primary industries, they definitely prove that the industry is not in a position to stand the only reduction that could be of any benefit to consumers, namely, another id. per lb., which is equivalent to £1,250,000 per annum less revenue for the producers. The growers’ share of such a reduction would be £875,000, which is more than the total net income of £780,251 of the 1,891 grower taxpayers, and much more than their taxable income of £569,194 for the year ended the 30th June, 1934. A reduction of id. per lb. would therefore eliminate practically all cane-growers from the income tax field. Seeing that the average price for the following season was 13s. a ton less than in respect of the year reviewed by the Queensland Commissioner of Taxes, and that costs have not fallen in the interim, but rather have slightly increased, it is obvious that there will be a smaller percentage than 23£ per cent, of all cane-farmers paying tax in Queensland on incomes derived during the income tax year ended the 30th June. 1935. In the light of these facts, the Government felt that there was no justification whatever for further reducing the income of the sugar producers.

I turn now to the position of Australian sugar .consumers. The question is whether the renewal of the sugar agreement at current prices is fair and reasonable from their point of view. There are several means whereby this matter may be properly considered. Possibly the best and fairest comparison rests upon the relative pre-war and present prices of sugar and other Australian commodities, and also wages. With many people, the cry is “back to pre-war,” but those who advocate this policy, whether for sugar alone or for other things also, seem to forget that a great war and a consequent mountain of debt and much heavier current obligations have beset the country since 1914, and constitute an overhead charge on all production and national activity which necessarily increases all costs and prices. The pre-war retail price of sugar to the consumer was usually 3d. per lb. It is now 4d. per lb., and will remain .so under the new agreement, that is, an advance of 33 per cent. However, the average retail price for all foods and groceries has increased since 1911 by 42 per cent., or 9 per cent, more than in the case of sugar. Indeed, only two important foodstuffs have increased in price since 1911 to a less degree than sugar, and they are butter and cheese, in which industries relatively low wages are paid owing to the substantial absence of wages awards, whereas all sugar employees have to be paid Arbitration Court rates of wages. Whilst the retail price of sugar has advanced by 33 per cent., the basic wage has increased by 45 per cent, since 1911, and this obviously means that ali citizens of Australia working under wages awards are better able to pay. 4d. per lb. for sugar now than they were able in 1911 to pay 3d. per lb. The same contention applies to all sheltered primary and secondary industries - and that means most Australian industries - and to wholesalers, retailers and the community generally. This is substantially proved by the rise in. the average retail price of all commodities, wages and house rents.

Honorable members will doubtless be interested in the sugar retail prices in other countries. The Australian capital city price of 4d. per lb. is less than the average retail price now being charged in the nineteen principal countries of the world, namely, 5.44d. per lb. expressed in terms of Australian currency. Even at par rates of exchange, this average price abroad would be approximately 4£d. per lb., or slightly more than the basic retail price in Australia. The details expressed in Australian currency are as follow: -

These particulars were obtained by the Government a few weeks ago from official sources overseas. I invite special attention to South Africa, where the par exchange price for black-labour sugar, as fixed hy the Government, is 3£d. per lb. near the sugar areas, but is higher in all parts of the country. South Africa has no price equalization plan as exists in Australia, where the price is 4d. per lb. for white-labour sugar in every capital city. The reason for the average of 5.44d. per lb., Australian currency, being more than the 4.03d. per lb. previously quoted by me in Parliament is that the present list includes additional countries, for example, Italy, Roumania, Poland and Hungary, where higher prices obtain. It is realized, of course, that some of the prices mentioned are inflated by net revenue taxation, but that does not apply in all cases.

That tho present sugar retail price of 4d. per lb. is not out of step with purchasing power and the prices of other goods is confirmed by the fact that the per capita direct consumption of refined sugar in Australia has increased from 74.3 lb. for 1928-29 to 74.5 lb. for 1934-35, and remains the highest in the world. Such a result could not occur, if sugar were too expensive, relatively to other prices and to our purchasing power. In this connexion, it is of interest to note that Australia’s total per capita consumption of sugar, direct and indirect, has been for many years either first or second of all countries in the world, only Denmark occasionally being ahead of Australia. Expressed in terms of raw sugar, per capita consumptions in 1933-34 were as follow:-

As a side-light on the recent agitation for cheaper sugar irrespective of the economic circumstances of the sugar producers, it is well to recall that, in 1925, the Bruce-Page Government, at the special request of certain so-called consuming interests, inserted a new clause in the sugar agreement providing for the supply of mill-white and first quality mill sugars at -Jd. per lb. less than the price of refined sugar, subject to definite orders and reasonable notice thereof being given. It was represented then, as now, that a widespread demand existed for cheaper sugar. The real attitude of consumers generally may, to some extent, be gauged from the fact that the consumption of mill-white sugar since 1925 has been at the average of 113 tons per annum, as against a refined sugar consumption averaging 310,000 tons per annum.

The new sugar agreement, and all its conditions as to prices, rebates, etc., will operate for five years. Five years is a normal period for bounty legislation. For example, the current wine and raw cotton bounty acts will operate for five years, and several bounty acts previously in force had five-year terms of operation. The Papua and New Guinea Bounty Act has a term of ten years. The Sulphur Bounty Act and the Iron and Steel Products Bounty Act operate indefinitely. A more important reason for the provision that the new sugar agreement will operate for five years is that five years represent the normal crop and seasonal cycles for Australian sugar production. Correct farm practice for most of the production is one plant crop, followed by three ratoon crops, and one year for fallowing, making a total of five years. The same period is necessary to experience typical or average seasonal conditions.

A five-year sugar agreement was recommended by both sections of the Commonwealth Sugar Inquiry Committee of 1931, and it appears to be obviously warranted from the producers’ view-point regarding the productive circumstances mentioned, and in the interests of a reasonable measure of stability.

The Government carefully considered the probable position of consumers under a domestic price fixed for five years. I would remind honorable members of my earlier figures showing that the price of sugar has advanced less since 1911 than the average price of all other foods and groceries, and the basic wage. At present, therefore, the retail price of 4d. per lb. slightly favours the consumers. As to the future, it is necessary to consider the probable trend of food price indices and wages. Most authorities hold that prosperity and full employment will not be attained unless improved prices, especially for primary products, are secured. A marked tendency in that very direction is now in evidence.

In December, 1932, when the Commonwealth Parliament enacted the sugar agreement fixing the price of sugar at 4d. per lb., the All-Items Index figure for food, groceries and housing, which the Commonwealth Arbitration Court uses for fixing wages, was 1,363. Three months later it fell to 1,330, its lowest point for many years. It has since steadily risen until in September, 1935, it was 1,433 points, which is 70 points above the index when the 4d. per lb. for sugar was approved. Price indices have at least been stabilized, and there are numerous indications that they will rise during the next five years. Nevertheless, sugar at 4d. per lb. retail will remain at only 33 per cent, above the usual pre-war price. Such a result will cause the new sugar agreement to be a distinctly favorable proposition to consumers, as without restriction sugar prices might rise to a high level. The present trend towards higher price levels means that sugar wages will probably rise. Also the cost to the sugar producers of the commodities they require for productive purposes and for personal consumption will be increased. Hence, the cost of producing sugar may be expected to increase. Under the new sugar agreement, however, the producers will not be able to claim or secure a higher price for domestic sugar sales, but will be compelled to meet the situation by improved efficiency and by re-adjusting their total output.

A further aspect that has been considered by the Government is the possibility of export values improving during the term of the next agreement. I must give credit to the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker) for having placed it before the Government.

Some improvement on current export prices may, of course, be expected, as a result of international efforts and/or the natural adjustment of the world production to demand, but progress in that directionis bound to be slow. However, the maximum likely improvement - averaged over the five years - would not be sufficient, in itself, to enable the Australian price to be reduced to consumers generally; and, if it should develop to a sufficient extent at any stage, it is not unlikely that it will be offset in the interests of budgets and consumers in the United Kingdom and Canada, by a partial reduction of the present tariff preferences granted on Empire-produced sugar.

Apart from these considerations, the average price now received by the Australian producers is lower than efficient production costs plus a reasonable return on capital invested, and I have already shown that less than 23 per cent, of all cane-growers are earning sufficient money to be liable to income tax, and that relative to all other prices, the sugar retail price of 4d. per lb.” is favorable to consumers.

Finally, it appears to be only equitable that, if the variable factor of better export prices is to be applied in favor of a section of consumers, then other variable factors, such as higher sugar wages, a shorter working week, increased costs of machinery, implements, &c, should be applied in favour of the sugar producers. For these various reasons, the Government has decided to allow any improved returns from raw sugar exports to remain with the sugar industry.

Mr McBride:

– The wages paid in the sugar industry are higher than those paid in any other primary industry in this country.


– In some primary industries, certainly, the operatives are under-paid.

The wisdom of the Government’s announcement regarding the new sugar agreement eighteen months before the expiration of the current agreement has been questioned in certain quarters. Most of the previous agreements were signed from nine to twelve months before they were due to commence, and the agreement now under discussion was signed in July last, or thirteen months before it will become operative.

An early announcement or decision as to the future is suitable, if not essential, to the general circumstances of the sugar industry, especially at a time when the producers are, as has already been shown, in a somewhat difficult position. Furthermore, much land has had to be prepared and cane planted during the last few months for the crop that will be harvested under the new agreement. The current agreement now covers only the crop at present being harvested and crushed, which operations will end in December or January next.

For new planting and attention to existing crops during the next eight or ten months, much expenditure by the growers will be necessary, and a fairly large part of the requisite funds will have to be borrowed, and secured by crop liens and other means. For the purpose of such loans, it isessential to have a reasonably firm value for the next crop. The conclusion of the new agreement gives a definite value to about 55 per cent. of the crop, which will be consumed in the Commonwealth, and the average value of each ton of sugar cane produced may be computed with sufficient accuracy for loan transactions by adopting a conservative value for the export surplus.

It is significant that the British Government decided some months ago that, in view of the particular circumstances of the cane-sugar industry throughout the

Empire regarding the heavy expenses necessary for preparation of land, planting, and attention to growing crops, in future no alteration in the United Kingdom tariff preferences on Empire sugars would be made without first giving notice eighteen months prior to the alterations becoming effective.

Mr Forde:

– Will the Minister reply to accusations that the sugar industry is controlled by foreigners?


– Yes. One statement was that a recent census in the Cairns district showed that 90 per cent. of the people employed by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company were foreigners. The fact is that the company has only one mill near Cairns, and employs no foreigners in any of its mills.

The Commonwealth Inquiry of 1931 specially investigated the extent of aliens engaged in the sugar industry. It found unanimously that the whole of the personnel, namely, farmers, field-workers, cane-cutters, and mill employees, was distributed as follows: -

No later figures are available, but action since taken in Queensland to reduce the employment of foreign cane-cutters in certain districts, whilst not allowing other districts to increase such employment, has probably caused a reduction of the above percentage of 10.1 per cent. for foreigners, and increased the 79.8 per cent. for British-born persons.

From all States where fruit canneries operate, I have received letters and telegrams supporting the Government’s policy in renewing the sugar agreement. Following is a list of organizations which support the new sugar agreement: -

Interstate Organizations.

Australian Canning Fruit-growers Associa tion (representing 95 per cent. of all canning fruits, and 60 per cent. of jam fruits).

Food Preservers Union of Australia (representing all employees at factories processing fruit products).

New South Wales. (Representing Murrumbidgee Irrigation areas.)

Leeton Co-operative Cannery.

Griffith Producers Co-operative Company.

Yenda Producers Co-operative Society.


Northern Victoria Fruit-growers Associa tion.

Shepparton Irrigators Association.

Kyabram Fruit-growers Association.

Bamawm Fruit-growers Association.

Tongala Fruit-growers Association.

Lancaster Fruit-growers Association.

Merrigum Fruit-growers Association.

Goulburn Valley Co-operative Canneries.

Trades Hall Council, Melbourne.

Amalgamated Food Preserving Employees Union.


Committee of Direction of Fruit Marketing.

Woombye Fruit-growers Co-operative Association Limited.

Palmwoods Fruit-growers Association.

South Australia. renmarkgrowers Association.


Port Huon Fruit-growers Co-operative Association Limited.

Municipality of New Norfolk (leading fruit rea).

The annual contribution by the sugar producers to the fruit industry is to be increased from £200,000 to £216,000. This fund is administered by the Fruit Industry Sugar Concession Committee, which distributes the money in the following manner: -

  1. A domestic sugar rebate to manufacturers of fruit products of £2 4s. per ton of refined sugar used. This rebate reduces the cost of sugar to fruit processors from the ordinary price of £32 10s. 9d. to £30 6s. 9d. a ton, and costs approximately £60,000 per annum.
  2. An export sugar rebate on the sugar contents of all manufactured fruit products exported from Australia, for the purpose of reducing the cost of those contents to the Australian equivalent of the world’s free-market price. The rates of this rebate vary from month to month in accordance with fluctuating world prices, and the annual cost is about £60,000.
  3. Special export assistance on manufactured fruit products, in addition to the domestic and export sugar rebates mentioned. This assistance takes the form of either ordinary export bounties or guarantees of manufacturers’ production costs. Approximately £96,000 per annum will be available for this work and the next item.

Without these concessions the canneries in Australia, which are mainly located in Victoria, could not continue in operation. The persons controlling them have definitely said so. The largest cannery in the British Empire is situated at Shepparton, in the north of Victoria. The Goulburn Valley produces more preserved fruits than any other part of Australia. Councillor A. W. Fairley, managing director of the Shepparton Fruit Preserving Company Limited, said recently : “Without the concessions made available to the fruit industry under the sugar agreement, the industry could never have captured the United Kingdom market for canned fruits. To-day the industry was on the up-grade, and could not supply the demand.”

The persons who grossly criticize the sugar industry without knowledge of the facts are doing tremendous harm. They should investigate the Australian canning industry, whose existence and continued profitable export trade is dependenton the sugar industry.

The fourth purpose to which the fund is devoted is the subsidizing of scientific and industrial research for the purpose of increasing the acreage yield of fresh marketable fruits required for manufactured fruit products. This is a new responsibility for the committee, of obvious value and importance to the fruit industry, and, ultimately, to consumers because of its potential influence on lower production costs.

Payment of the domestic sugar rebate and special export assistance will, as heretofore, be conditional upon manufacturers paying growers for their fresh fruit not less than the prices declared by the committee each season to be reasonable prices.

An arrangement of this kind is in operation in connexion with the wine industry in South Australia, and affects the fixation of the price of grapes; but canners will not, under the new arrange- ment, be able to buy fruit at any price they please to defeat their competitors without surrendering their right to the sugar rebate.

BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP; LP from 1944; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954

– The arrangement for the payment of a fixed price for grapes broke down in connexion with the home-consumption trade.


– That was the fault of the States. If they had fixed the same price as the Commonwealth Government no trouble would have occurred.

The operations of the Fruit Industry Sugar Concession Committee have been extremely successful. That the committee enjoys the confidence and support of both the primary and secondary branches of the fruit industry, and of the employees generally, is evidenced by many letters and “resolutions received by the Government during the last few months from representatives of well over 90 per cent, of all the interests affected.

The increase of £16,000 per annum in the contributions by the sugar industry is considered necessary in view of Australia’s expanding export trade in canned fruits and jams. This increase has undoubtedly been greatly assisted by the committee. For fuller details of the work of the committee I invite the attention of honorable members to the fourth annual report of its chairman, Mr. A. R. Townsend, a valued officer of the Customs Department. The report will be tabled to-morrow.

I come now to a consideration of the beet sugar position. Australia is producing far more sugar than can be consumed locally, and about 45 per cent, of the cane-sugar output has to be exported at very low prices. This does not, however, affect the Maffra factory’s production of approximately 5,500 tons of beet sugar, as no attempt has been made to bring this sugar into the canesugar pool, not only because the Maffra factory was operated before the pool was established in 1915, but also because of a tacit understanding that the factory would not extend its operations. Beet sugar production is profitable only because the whole of the output is sold at the Australian price. Beet sugar is not called upon to bear any share of the sugar rebates on manufactured goods exported from the Commonwealth which cost cane-sugar producers .£80,000 per annum, or of the fruit industry concessions, which cost them £216,000 per annum. Most of this expenditure benefits industries iu Victoria, where increased beet-sugar production is at present mooted. If all the beet sugar produced were pooled on the same basis as cane sugar - as is actually done throughout Australia with butter, cheese and dried fruits, and will shortly be done with wheat - the factory profits would vanish, and the proposal to increase beetsugar production would assume an entirely different complexion. An increased production of beet sugar for domestic consumption, apart from the cane-sugar pool, would necessarily involve canesugar producers in loss by forcing them to export so much more raw sugar at world prices, and would bring about a direct conflict with the resolution unanimously adopted in June, 1929, at a conference of all State Ministers of Agriculture, and re-affirmed in May, 1935, by the Standing Committee on Agriculture of the Australian Agricultural Council. The resolution was as follows : -

That, if a State is growing any produce sufficient for Commonwealth consumption, and fdr which it is difficult to find a profitable export market, all the other States to be advised of such position with a view to safeguarding, if possible, the interests of growers.

Apart from the obligations entered into by State governments in this respect, new or increased beet-sugar production, apart from the cane-sugar pool, would be plainly inequitable for the reasons already mentioned, and it would compel the Commonwealth Government to review certain phases of the sugar policy. Notwithstanding this fact I repeat what I said in answer to a question recently. Any State government is perfectly free to take steps to increase the production of beet sugar.

Mr Hawker:

– Would the Minister give such a proposal his blessing?


– No; but probably the honorable member would do so.

Mr Lane:

– It would be very disappointing to Queensland if any State government did pursue that policy.


– I think it would he disappointing to canners and others in Victoria if it did so.

The subject of wholesale discounts has been a cause of much controversy. The new agreement contains a clause designed to promote fairer competition between wholesale merchants, and also all classes of retail grocers. I shall deal, first, with the position of the wholesale merchants. Some years ago, as the result of several merchants sharing the wholesale sugar discount with retailers or giving cartage rebates or other concessions on retail sugar orders, most of the other merchants were forced to indulge in the same ‘practice or .else suffer the loss of their sugar business. The practice of discount-cutting and giving other unauthorized rebates was initiated chiefly by merchants whose sugar business was largely confined to cash transactions in metropolitan areas.

The sugar discount is intended only for merchants who trade in legitimate wholesale lines, and who carry the important credit responsibilities essential to most country district and numerous suburban grocers. The wholesale cash sugar discount was reduced many years ago from 3-J per cent, to 2 per cent., which is much the lowest rate for any grocery commodity. Other grocery goods carry discounts ranging from 5 per cent, to 15 per cent., the average being between 8 per cent, and 10 per cent. It is important to remember that the low sugar discount is in the interests of ultimate consumers. A discount of 8 per cent, or 10 per cent., for example, would cause the retail price of sugar to rise id. per lb.

Discount cutting or other concessions given on sugar by certain wholesalers who refuse to take their fair share, and frequently take no share of the credit trade, is no great achievement, for they are virtually acting as brokers and not wholesalers. Such practices merely deprive legitimate wholesalers of the only sound part of their sugar business, reduce their total turn-over and weaken their ability to continue their essential credit facilities to retailers at the current charge of 2 per cent, on the list wholesale price. The credit charge of 2 per cent, is not all profit. It covers not only selling costs and administration, but also bad debts which average about 1^ per cent, at present. The cash discount and the credit charge cannot be dissociated, for they are interdependent and are based on metropolitan and country trade as a whole. If the cash discount were more than 2 per cent., the credit charge could probably be less than 2 per cent. Conversely, if discount-cutting became general so that only 1 per cent, or less could be retained by legitimate wholesalers, the added charge against retailers for credit facilities would doubtless need to be increased, unless wholesalers traded in sugar at a loss.

Mr Nairn:

– Is the new arrangement likely to meet the competition of the chain stores?


– -Yes. I shall deal with that point presently.

The normal circumstances of the agricultural community are such that most primary producers require to obtain their supplies on credit for part of the year. The need for this has been accentuated by the low prices of primary products in recent years. The credit requirements of primary producers in turn compel country storekeepers to purchase a considerable portion of their goods on credit terms, and this credit is often not available from banks or other financial institutions. It has to be obtained from wholesale traders.

Wholesale merchants are thus an important factor in the credit structure of the grocery trade of Australia. At present, their outstanding accounts for all groceries are reported to be about £9,000,000, of which £1,500,000 is for sugar. Most of this money is owed by storekeepers in country districts. About 40 per cent, of the business throughout Australia is done on credit terms. Any plan, therefore, to maintain the cash discount intact is a reasonable protection for legitimate wholesalers and in the interests of sound trade. It is also beneficial to the people in country districts, who might be expected to bear higher credit charges if the whole burden of bad debts were carried by the credit trade only, as it would be if wholesale merchants were deprived of their cash trade in sugar.

For these reasons, and also because the cash discount of 2 per cent., that is, 13s. 3d. per ton or one-fourteenth of a penny per lb., can never benefit consumers, the Government decided three years ago ito give the Queensland Sugar Board authority to impose conditions that would safeguard the discount for legitimate wholesalers. The same reasons apply with equal force at present. The relevant clause of the present sugar agreement has been found by experience to require strengthening, but it is believed that the clause in the new agreement will meet the position satisfactorily. In future, therefore, the cash discount on sugar will only he available to wholesale merchants who, in the opinion of the Queensland Sugar Board, engage to a reasonable extent in the credit trade, and who comply with the prescribed conditions forbidding the sharing of the discount with, or the giving of cartage or other concessions to their customers. The wholesale discount has not been, and is not intended to be, reserved to a limited number of merchants.

Mr Lane:

– It has been so.


– I do not think so. Any merchant who complies with the prescribed terms aDd conditions is entitled to have his name added to the approved list. An addition was made recently.

I come now to the retail grocers’ position. The other purpose of the new wholesale discount clause is to promote fair competition amongst all classes of retail grocers. At present, several chain organizations of retail stores are virtually receiving the discount through the agency of wholesale companies operating under a different name. This means, in effect, that the owners of certain chain stores receive 13s. 3d. per ton more profit for retailing sugar than thousands of individual grocers, which obviously causes unfair competition. The chain store movement, which is of comparatively recent origin, is Creating new problems. Two methods may be adopted to restore fair competition in .the retailing of sugar. One method is to make the sugar discount available to syndicates of retailers. This has been formally requested by the retailers’ federation. Seeing that the discount is equivalent to only one-fourteenth of a penny per lb., and therefore cannot be passed on to domestic- consumers, and that the consequent los3 of most of the cash trade to wholesalers, if retail syndi- cates were allowed to have the discount, would inevitably re-act unfavorably on many country storekeepers and so on the farming community, the Government considers that it is not advisable that retail syndicates should he permitted to obtain the discount. The only other way ito restore fair competition amongst retailers is to remove from the wholesale discount list those concerns that are directly or indirectly associated with retail stores, and, in future, to prevent any chain store or other retailers receiving or sharing in the discount either directly or indirectly.

The Government has accordingly decided to adopt this method, and the new clause relating to wholesale merchants means that the sugar discount will not be available to wholesale merchants in respect of any sugar, or sugar products which they directly, or indirectly through any associated person, firm, or corporation, retail to the public. This clause will be interpreted by the Queensland Sugar Board in its widest sense, to promote fair and equal competition amongst all classes of retail grocers.

Further, as chain store competition in the retail trade is becoming increasingly acute, the following arrangement has been made by the Queensland -Sugar Board : -

That »the approval by Parliament of the recently-signed new sugar agreement will be regarded by the Sugar Board as indicating the present will of Parliament in respect to the wholesale sugar discount and fair competition for retail grocers. Consequently, although the new sugar agreement will not commence -to operate until the 1st September, 1936, the Sugar Board, at the earliest convenient opportunity after it -becomes law, will give effect to Parliament’s decision by suitably revising the prescribed conditions for the wholesale sugar discount so that no retailer, or group of retailers (chain stores), shall directly or indirectly receive the discount.

In other words the Sugar Board will take steps to apply this provision as soon as this bill is passed.

The Retail Grocers Federation has requested that the free delivery areas in the various capital cities be extended to the outermost suburbs. Such a provision could not benefit retail consumers, as even the maximum cartage charges involved are only 10s. a ton. Moreover, free delivery would involve .the sugar producers in a very largo expenditure, which they should not at present be called upon to bear. Further, whilst grocers in the outer suburbs have to pay cartage on their sugar deliveries, they, in nearly all cases, pay lower rents than city grocers and employ less outside labour. In many instances, no labour is employed. In these circumstances the request for free delivery could not be granted. However, the Government’s investigation of this position disclosed that a somewhat anomalous position existed in Melbourne compared with other capital cities, for the Yarraville Refinery was regarded as the centre of the free delivery zone. This will be rectified shortly after the new sugar agreement is approved by Parliament, by the adoption of the city as the approximate centre of the free delivery area, and the extension of that area to a number” of thickly-populated suburbs. At the same time, the cartage rates to grocers in all suburbs outside the extended free delivery area will be slightly reduced.

I have no doubt that reference will be made, during the debate on this bill, to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and that attempts will be made to hold the Government responsible in some way for the profits that the company is making. Some honorable members will probably ask why, in the light of those profits, it should not be possible to reduce the price of sugar by id. or Id. per lb. I admit that I used to indulge in similar criticisms myself, but I have become better informed since then. Nevertheless, 1 always supported the sugar embargo as the only effective way of protecting the industry in Australia. At the outset, it should be stated that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is not a party to the sugar agreement, and is not consulted regarding its terms and conditions. The company’s receipts, fees and profits - to which I shall refer in a moment - for its services in refining and distributing sugar throughout Australia are fixed by separate agreements each year between the Queensland Government and the company.

Honorable members will, I hope, be interested in the following statement showing the position for 1935 in regard to the distribution of the present retail price of 4d. per lb. for refined sugar amongst all participants: -

The statement shows that the primary producers - cane-growers and raw sugar mills - receive no less than 68 per cent, of the retail price, a . result not approached by any other body of primary producers in Australia. [Leave to continue given.’] The table sets out the four different payments to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and all of them are checked each year by the Queensland Government auditor. Two of the payments - refining costs, £2 13s. lid., and selling costs, 7s. 3d. a ton - are merely reimbursements of actual expenses in- ‘curred in labour, materials, &c, in doing the- essential work of refining and distributing sugar throughout the Commonwealth. The first of the other two payments is the item of 6s. 4d. a ton for interest on money borrowed by the sugar pool, so that the sugar mills may be paid cash for raw sugar when it is placed on board ship. Without this payment, the mills would not be able to pay growers promptly for their sugar-cane, and many growers would find it difficult, and some- times impossible, to pay cane-cutters’ wages. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company with its diverse interests in Australia and overseas, has large liquid cash resources available during the Australian sugar season, which enable it to advance the necessary money - the peak amount each season running up to £6,000,000. The company finds these advances on raw sugar a convenient means of investing its cash resources, and it does so always at less than bank rates of interest. The final payment to the company is the 15 s. 4d. a ton for administration, taxation and profit. In terms of raw sugar, this payment gives a net profit of 14s. 9d. a ton, which is, in practice, included in the long-established fee of £1 a ton on raw sugar melted for home consumption. The remaining 5s. 3d. represents depreciation on refineries, and is more appropriately included in the foregoing statement in the item of £2 13s. lid. for refining costs. These findings were unanimously reported by the Commonwealth Sugar Inquiry ‘ Committee of 1931.

The amount of 15s. 4d. a ton of refined sugar, which is, of course, subject . to Federal and State income taxes, is the only profit received by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company for its services in refining and distributing Australian sugar. If it rendered these services without any profit, the saving to consumers would be only one-twelfth of a penny per lb. of sugar. After payment of taxation, this profit becomes onefourteenth of a penny per lb. The item of 6s. 4d. a ton for interest, of course, returns a profit to the company, but the net returns to cane-growers and raw sugar mills would be less by the amount involved in the higher rates of interest charged by banks, if the Colonial Sugar Refining Company did not, or could not, lend the necessary money.

Apart from the company’s profits on refining and distribution, it earns profits from raw sugar manufactured in its four mills in Queensland and three in New South Wales. The company’s output of raw sugar ranges from 22 per cent, to 25 per cent, of the total Australian production. In this regard, however, it is on the same footing as -all other raw sugar mills. The Commonwealth Sugar Inquiry Com mittee of 1931, on which there were separate representatives of housewives, manufacturers and fruit-growers respectively, unanimously found that the company was then earning from all its Australian sugar activities a profit of 7.1 per cent., subject to income taxation, on the total capital utilized. The 1933 retail price reduction of ½d. per lb. would reduce the company’s profits by about £75,000 per annum, and there have been little, if any, compensating reductions in its costs since then. Consequently, the percentage of the company’s total profits to capital, in regard to its Australian sugar operations should now be slightly less than 7.1 per cent.

That the Colonial Sugar Refining Company has made, and is still making, higher rates of profit from its sugar interests outside Australia,, and possibly in non-sugar activities, also, has nothing whatever to do with the sugar agreements or the Government’s policy. Consumers and the Government can only be concerned with the question as to whether the company’s essential services in respect of Australian sugar are given at no more than a reasonable profit. In this connexion, it is of interest to note that the recent report of the United Kingdom Sugar Industry Inquiry Committee, of 1935, in urging an amalgamation of British refining institutions for the purpose of reducing costs in the United Kingdom, recommended a fee to refineries of £1 10s. a ton to cover depreciation and a reasonable return on capital. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company, however, 13 paid £1 a ton for these two items.

The Australian sugar industry is extremely efficient. No other primary industry, except wool, has made such progress in the direction of increasing its unit output. The production of raw sugar for each acre of sugar cane harvested is double the output of 35 years ago, and is now one of the highest in the world. No other Australian industry has been so frequently investigated as sugar. Nearly all the members of royal commissions and other investigating’ bodies have been citizens of the southern States, yet, with almost complete unanimity, they have recorded opinions highly favorable to the economic and national value of the sugar industry to the Commonwealth. No other product has yet been discovered which can replace sugar in the vulnerable find fertile coastal lands of the far north.

A comparison of Australian tropical populations reveals the national importance of sugar. There are in the tropical zone only about 6,000 white people in Western Australia, and 5,000 in the Northern Territory,but in North Queensland there are over 170,000 people, most of whom are on the coastal fringe, and are directly or indirectly dependent on the sugar industry. Current international events emphasize the urgent need for developing sparsely-populated regions that are capable of productive effort.

I believe that this Parliament fully realizes the general merits of the industry, and the particular circumstances on which the new sugar agreement is based, and that it will accordingly approve of the agreement as contained in this bill.

Debate (on motion by Mr.Forde) adjourned.

Sitting suspended from 6.15 to8 p.m.

page 1228


Bill brought up by Mr. Thorby and read a first time.

Second Reading

Mr. THORBY (Calare - Assistant

Minister for Commerce) [8.0]. - by leave - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

This is a bill to provide for the payment of a bounty on the export of oranges from the Commonwealth to the United Kingdom. Since a committee appointed by the Development Branch to inquire into the citrus industry issued its report in 1930 the Commonwealth has given serious consideration to the difficulties confronting the Australian citrusgrowers. In the years 1933 and 1934 the exporters of oranges were guaranteed 13s. a bushel case, and in respect of those whose shipments were covered by comprehensive all-risks insurance policies, the guarantee was increased to 13s. 5d. a bushel case, to cover the added cost of the insurance. After that scheme had been carried on for some time, however, the Government realized that it had cer tain disadvantages, inasmuch as exporters of high-quality fruit whose return was equal to 13s. or 13s. 5d. a case, received no assistance whatever from the Government, whereas exporters of inferior fruit, bringing a very low price, were guaranteed a return of 13s. or 13s. 5d. a case. Thus the Commonwealth made available to the exporters of inferior fruit a considerable amount of money by way of guarantee. This bill proposes to alter the principle upon which future assistance is to be given in respect of the export of citrus fruits. Bounty will be paid at the rate of 2s. a case on oranges exported to the United Kingdom, which absorbs the great bulk of the exports of citrus fruits from this country. The grower of fruit of inferior quality will receive no encouragement to export it to the United Kingdom, because the bounty will only be sufficient to compensate a grower whose fruit brings a reasonable price on the overseas market. That is the real principle embodied in this bill.

The Government is fully alive to the difficulties that have been confronting the growers of citrus fruits during the past few years. A severe blow was dealt to them when the Government of the Dominion of New Zealand imposed an embargo against the importation of citrus fruit from Australia, with the exception of oranges from South Australia. The Australian citrus-growers thus lost one of their most valuable markets, find while the dominion embargo continues they must seek markets overseas to dispose of their surplus production. The total export of citrus fruits to the United Kingdom and countries other than New Zealand increased from 97,000 cases in 1933 to 213,000 cases in 1934. The bulk of the fruit was exported to the United Kingdom, the 1934 shipments to that market being 179,000 cases as against 77,000 cases in 1933. Honorable members will therefore appreciate why the Government has given so much attention to the export of citrus fruits to the United Kingdom. The amount expended under the guarantee in respect of the 1933 season was £3,000, whilst it is anticipated that something over £10,000 will be required to meet the guarantee for the 1934 season. About. £20,000 kas been placed upon the Estimates this vear for the bounty provided for in the bill now before the House. This year valencia oranges are bringing about lis. a case, and navels about 12s. a case. Last year’s prices were considerably higher. This seems to indicate that this year the great bulk of the growers will claim the bounty of 2s. a case on exports to the United Kingdom.

The Government feels that the provision of this bounty will be of considerable assistance to many citrus-growers who are facing serious financial difficulties at the present time. The committee of investigation set up by the Development Branch has endeavoured to overcome some of the difficulties associated with the export of Australian citrus fruit to the United Kingdom - such as cold storage, the marketing of fruit in the United Kingdom, shipping and packing. The schedule to this bill sets out conditions in respect of picking, handling, grading, packing and shipping of oranges. In imposing these conditions it is the desire of the Government to ensure that only fruit of first-class quality is consigned to the British market. It must be remembered that Australian citrus fruit has to be marketed in the United Kingdom in competition with first-class fruit from Brazil and other countries ‘ nearer the British market which experience no difficulties in connexion with cold storage. With these facts in mind, the Government has endeavoured, in collaboration with the industry, to formulate a plan for the more efficient marketing of Australian citrus fruits overseas, and to secure the best advice possible as the result of scientific research to overcome the many difficulties associated with the export industry. By tightening up the regulations the Government hopes to be able to eliminate the export of a considerable amount of inferior citrus fruit from Australia. It is realized, of course, that it is impossible for citrus-growers to produce all firstquality fruit, but at the same time the Government has to bear in mind that on the British market Australian citrus fruit has to meet the competition of some of the best fruit produced in the world. While in London I was very much impressed with what I saw at Coven t Garden. There, first-quality oranges from Brazil, a country which has greatly expanded its citrus industry during the last few years, were on sale. To-day, several of the South American countries are exporting large quantities of apples and other fruits to the British -market. This fruit is landed in Great Britain just when fruit from Australia, which must be sold in competition with it, is landed. The Government feels the necessity for helping Australian citrus-growers to overcome this competition, and this bill, I believe, will give them financial assistance on the soundest possible business basis. In the past the provision of a guarantee did not encourage people it was intended to encourage - the producers of high-quality fruit - to send their product overseas, because, if their fruit brought 13s. a case they received no financial aid, whereas the producer of inferior fruit absorbed practically the whole of the guarantee made available.


– Yes, they welcome it with both hands. Although the honorable member is not directly interested in the production of citrus fruits, I may inform him that the Government proposes to make available through the agency of the State governments about £80,000 for the purpose of assisting fruit-growers generally. This bill deals only with the citrus industry; other branches of the fruitgrowing industry will be dealt with in other legislation or by the provision of funds in the Estimates. I hope that when honorable members are discussing- this bill they will bear that point in mind.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Forde) adjourned.

page 1229

BUDGET 1935-36

In Committee of Supply:

Consideration resumed from the 30th October (vide page 1,165) on motion by Mr. Casey -

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

Upon which Mr. Curtin had moved, by way of amendment -

That the first item be reduced by £1.


.- I join with other honorable members in congratulating the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) on his elevation to that high and honorable office, in which I wish him every success. I am sorry that I am unable to congratulate him also upon the budget which he has presented, because it is not altogether to the liking of many persons who have at heart the. interests of the taxpayers of this country. Seeing that the emergency taxation still imposed on the people generally is in the vicinity of £14,000,000 and that the relief afforded amounts to only a’bout £500,000, the prospects are not very encouraging. It must, however, he admitted that the Government has many large commitments for different services, such as war and repatriation, approximately £18,000,000; defence, £4,600,000; invalid and old-age pensions, £12,750,000; other statutory payments about £4,300,000 ; miscellaneous services, nearly £2,000,000; and ordinary votes of departments, £2,800,000 ; together with assistance to primary production in various forms, including approximately £4,300,000 to wheat-growers. Then there are grants to the States totalling over £14,000,000, and the amount made available for the inauguration of public works for the relief of unemployment. In this latter connexion T regret the continuance of the £1 for £1 condition which attaches to the grant, because it has militated, against the States doing their part in the provision of the work that is necessary for the absorption of the unemployed to-day. Much yet remains to be done, and a great deal of additional expenditure will have to be incurred in the relief of unemployment. A good deal of the defence vote could be allocated to the employment of youths in a dual, capacity : They could be placed in depots under competent instructors and, while being trained in different trades, undergo physical culture and military training that would fit them to defend Australia in time of need. Youths with intermediate and leaving certificates would be far better engaged in that way than in sweeping the streets and doing other work for which they are quite unsuited, because they would become skilled artisans, of which there is a scarcity in every ‘branch of secondary industry. A great deal of criticism is levelled at the Government by members of the Opposition in this and probably in every other parliament, in an attempt to prevail upon it to take adequate steps in the direction of providing a solution of this pressing problem. Members of the Opposition in this chamber have criticized the Government most severely for having failed to remove a condition that they as a government could not even cheek It is all very well to criticize; constructive ideas and common-sense suggestions are needed. Rather than criticize, honorable members opposite should propound a scheme and co-operate with the Government in its application. If men who are so full of ideas would submit them they would be welcomed by the Government, and would receive the approbation of every right-thinking citizen of Australia ; but those who are loudest and most vigorous in their denunciation of the Government are as barren of constructive ideas as the proverbial frog is free from feathers.

In common with many other persons, I look to some form of relief being given to the over-burdened taxpayers, so that money may flow into industry and absorb many of the unemployed youths and skilled workers. When I suggested the encouragement of the employment of youths in depots I had- in mind the fact that v/hen work requiring skill has to be done those offering for it are drawn from the ranks of the middle aged and elderly.

I commend the suggestion made by the honorable member for .Riverina (Mr. Nock) in connexion with border telegrams. In border towns such as Albury and Wodonga, which are separated by a distance .of only three miles, the interstate rate is charged. This is a distinct injustice. The honorable member for Riverina mentioned the town of Mungindi, on the Queensland border, the residents of which have to cross into New South Wales territory to transact postal business. If they desire to send a telegram for even the short distance that separates them from their homes they are charged the interstate rate. The Government should give particular attention to this anomaly.

Another matter that demands consideration is the closing of small country post offices for. the reason that the revenue is insufficient to defray expenses and provide remuneration for those who manage them. I recently brought under the notice of the Minister in charge of War Service Homes (Mr. Thorby) a case in his own electorate at a small isolated place where the man in charge of the post office was receiving £1 a week to keep the office open for business from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Because the revenue was not regarded as sufficient the department reduced that already inadequate allowance to 17s. 6d. a week, with the result that the post office was closed, and rightly so. That, however, is not the point that I wish to make. Although that particular post office was providing postal services for only a few people, those people have large grazing or farming interests, and their contributions to the revenue derived from taxation entitle them to every possible service. The post office is a public utility and should be conducted as such, instead of being run as a business concern, producing revenue without providing necessary services. This applies particularly in isolated areas to which the owners of big pastoral properties throughout the Riverina and the western districts send thousands of valuable sheep for grazing purposes in times of drought or during a shortage of feed, to await the coming of the autumn rains. The department is always ready to argue that the revenue is not sufficient to provide the service that is needed. This is not the point. In these mountainous regions, where snow is likely to fall at an earlier date in some years than in others, the greatest facilities should be provided to enable the men in charge of stock to make contact with their employers in Melbourne or Sydney or in the western or southern districts. The Postal Department should see that everything possible is done for the preservation of the revenue-producing stock of this country.

I now turn my attention to a matter that is arousing the curiosity of many people not only in Australia but also in other parts of the world. I refer to the development of Central and North Australia. Some months ago I was privileged to accompany the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) on a visit that he paid to the “vast empty spaces” of the Northern Territory about which we hear so much. For upwards of 60 yeaTS attempts at development have been made by different governments, but only in a half-hearted fashion. Such attempts are always doomed to failure. The party visited the much-discussed gold-fields at Tennants Creek and The Granites. Leaving Adelaide by train on Thursday morning, we arrived on the Saturday night at Alice Springs after a long, dreary journey through country as bare and desolate as it would be possible to gaze upon in any part of the Arabian Desert. In parts where not a drop of rain had fallen within the last three years we saw great heaps of creeping sand, the movement being caused by the absence of herbage, the effect of which is usually to keep the soil stationary. Owing to the prevalence of drought conditions over a period of many years it was not possible to find a tree in which any life remained. The people who are living in those vast and desolate areas are all hoping that conditions will soon improve and that their returns will again be remunerative. I understand that since we visited Central Australia splendid rains have fallen in the vicinity of. Alice Springs, and that as the result the outlook has changed for the better. From Alice Springs we visited the Hermannsburg Mission, which I am bound to say did not greatly impress me. I could not help feeling that if what I saw was all that had been done over a period of 55 years for the preservation of the aborigines, who are fast becoming extinct, the Government was backing a loser. It is true that the area of 900 square miles held by the mission is carrying 1,000 head of cattle as well as some hundreds of donkeys and mules, but, on the whole, the results were disappointing to me.

From Hermannsburg Mission we travelled to the Tennants Creek gold-field, which in recent years has attracted so much attention throughout the Commonwealth. We found that all that we had read about the hardships that were being endured by the mining population there, as regards housing, transport, and shortage of water, were true The field covers an area of about 70 miles by 40 miles, and the nearest water suitable for drinking purposes is about 7 miles distant from the township. Some of the miners cart water for distances of from 5 to 28 miles, and the manner in which they are facing their hardships must arouse the admiration of all who visit that mining field. The Minister for the Interior lost no time in making himself acquainted with the conditions, and took prompt action to ensure a better water supply, as well as to effect other much-desired improvements. He sought the assistance of a water diviner with a view to locating water, and as the result a supply of doubtful water, but suitable for mining operations, was located. Another matter that engaged his attention was the erection of suitable public buildings and the provision of improved roads. We spent three or four days at Tennants Creek inspecting the various mines and prospecting shows and interviewing persons prominently connected with the mining industry in that locality. We found them all imbued with that optimism which is characteristic of Australians who pioneer the development of this country. I also pay a high tribute to the thirteen or fourteen women who are living at Tennants Creek. They are bravely facing all the hardships which life in a new mining settlement entails. Only those who visit a mining field in its earlier stages of development know what this means.

Leaving Tennants Creek we travelled to The Granites, which is situated about 408 miles from Alice Springs, and inspected the mining properties under the control of Mr. Chapman, who, a few months ago, sought a subsidy from the Government for the training of about 50 lads in the business of mining, and we were not much impressed with the conditions obtaining there. It is to the credit of the Minister that as soon as he discovered how operations were being carried on, he suspended all work until such time as a mining warden could visit the field with a view to ensuring the safety of the men working there.

At a later date we travelled across the famous Barkly Tablelands to Mount Isa. The possibilities of the Barkly Tablelands are beyond all doubt, but the area is so vast, and the problems of development are so complex, that earlier ministerial visitors were,’ I imagine, glad to return to Canberra in the hope that the people who are facing the hardships there will eventually work out their own salvation. That great area of fertile grazing country- is capable of carrying a large population of white people. Transport, facilities are at present an effective barrier to the successful development of that country; but I hope that, before long, practical steps will be taken to open up the natural ports, and that the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties will be able to make satisfactory agreements with other countries, thus ensuring a profitable market for all that can be grown in the Northern Territory. I say without hesitation that there is no better tract of cattle country in Australia than the area between Camooweal and the Kimberley Ranges. It may interest honorable members to know that so fertile is the land that, when water is available as at the station homesteads, the vegetable gardens produce all that one could desire. We saw cabbages and cauliflowers so large that one would almost fill a chaff bag, giant tomatoes which it would be a pity to cut, and other kinds of vegetables, the excellence of which was a testimony to the industry of the growers and the fertility of the soil. One cannot travel through that portion of the Northern Territory without realizing the need for its early development by Australians in order to prevent its occupation by people from other countries, who are looking with eager eyes at Australia’s empty spaces.

The honorable member for Wentworth (“Mr. E. J. Harrison) yesterday expressed the opinion that the class of cattle which he saw on the various stations was anything but a credit to the companies controlling them.. I cannot help feeling that the honorable member wa3 very wide of the mark. As a practical man, I admit that a certain amount of cleaning up is required on many station properties; but I am sure that,- with a little judicious culling, the improvements of the herds would he so marked that, if the honorable member for Wentworth again visited the properties, he would easily be persuaded that they were not stocked with the same class of cattle. It is true that in some parts there is evidence of deterioration, due to the lack of suitable sires, and this may be explained by the absence of incentive to expend money on improving their herds. An improvement in the market overseas would, I have no doubt, induce them to give this matter their serious attention. Under existing conditions - I refer to the difficulties of transport and the lack of suitable ports - it is impossible for cattle-owners in the Northern Territory to compete with producers in the Argentine Republic, who, besides being more favoured by nature, are so much nearer to the British market. It is the duty of the Government to provide road and rail facilities, and . to develop the ports which would provide an outlet for stock from the vast areas through which we travelled, thus enabling growers to take advantage of the facilities provided by the meat works at “Wyndham, and also at Darwin, when the works there are reopened.

The honorable member for Wentworth emphasized that the companies controlling vast areas in the Northern Territory were not doing their share in the development of the territory. But, when one bears in mind the excessive costs for all commodities and materials, one wonders how even companies, with immense financial resources, continue in possession of their holdings. The transport on stores to the main cattle-raising areas works out at over £19 a ton, and the cost of ordinary rations and improvement - material is greatly in excess of Sydney prices, as the following figures show: -

In regard to the remarks of the honorable member for Wentworth that the large land-holders are doing nothing to improve their properties, I shall read a few figures to show how much has been spent in this direction by Vestey’s Limited. I hold no brief for any vested interests, but I contend that consideration should be shown to individuals or companies prepared to sink their money in developing the Northern Territory.


– How does the honorable member account for the low pecentage of accepted cattle from Vestey’s stations, and the high percentage from the small leases?


– The lack of proper transport facilities is the main cause of the trouble. The stock have long walks to cover, and the bruising which occurs through stampedes is responsible for a great deal of damage. The following figures show the expenditure incurred by Vestey’s Limited in improvements to its properties in the north : -

Yet the assertion is made that this company has done nothing to improve its properties.

Mr Mahoney:

– What area does it hold?


– About 20,000 square miles. What individual in southern Australia would spend £100,000 in developing properties in the Northern Territory? If he had such a sum to invest, he would not look for an outlet for his capital there. Vestey’s Limited expended £1,000,000 in Darwin on the erection of meat works, which are now lying idle; but the company has paid thousands of pounds in wages to men who are employed merely to keep the works in order and to preserve the machinery. It is hoped that some day governments will have sufficient courage and determination to face the problem in earnest, and to provide an outlet for Northern Territory cattle to the world’s markets. If no meat works had been esta.blisb.ed in Darwin, there would have been a public outcry. Yet those large works are lying idle, and governments lack the necessary grit and enterprise to deal effectively with the problem.

In northern Australia is to be found a vast expanse of country capable of maintaining a population of millions, but we merely say, “ Some tiling must be done Unless the present and future Governments are prepared to assist in the developmental work that obviously needs to be done, we shall find land-hungry nations settling this country for us. It is essential to populate and develop the Northern Territory in the interests of national progress and defence. The whole of the territory must be re-conditioned. Darwin has become the front door of Australia. It is now the stepping-off place for the air-mail service from Australia to Great Britain, and it is the first landing ground in Australia for planes coming from overseas. Darwin should *»o made a model city, but the conditions obtaining there at the present time are appalling. The administrative officials are courteous and capable. Whether they are hampered by instructions issued from the Seat of Government at Canberra, I am unable to say, but one observes in Darwin an air of stagnation. I am satisfied that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson), who hails from the land of the heather, has the necessary energy and ability to put in hand a progressive policy, and no doubt he would do so if the necessary funds were made available to him. Thousands of square miles in the territory have never been trodden by the foot of man, and remembering that huge numbers of people overseas are hungry for land, and that in Japan many are compelled to live on rafts, we have no moral right to hold vast empty tracts of country in the north unless we are .prepared to make proper use of them. Up to the present time we have, fortunately, avoided conflict with coloured races. I certainly hope that no coloured people will ever challenge us upon our White Australia policy; but unless the Government awakens to a keen sense of its responsibility, and takes practical steps to .develop the Northern Territory, I fear that some day this area will be filched from us. Australia has every respect for the people of overseas countries, irrespective of class or colour. It desires to trade with them, and to live at peace with :them. It wishes to sell them its goods and to buy theirs in return. But their concept of life, standards of living and their religions are as far apart from ours as the sun is from the earth, and we have no desire to encourage a mixture of white and coloured races in Australia.

The need for developing the Northern Territory must be pressed by the Minister. He knows how great are the problems of the settlers in those wide areas. A great deal of importance is attached by the Queensland Government to the buffalo fly pest, but that trouble is mainly confined to the coastal areas. The fly seldom leaves the coast, except in the wet season. A dry spell or a cold snap checks it just as it would any other fly. The stock embargo imposed by the Queensland authorities is another reason why the settlers must have a northern outlet for their cattle. If overseas markets were available, the cattle produced in the northern portion of the territory could be exported through a northern port, and this would prevent the glutting of markets in the south. An equitable distribution of the stock would be of general advantage.

It is said that the Northern Territory is unsuitable for sheep-growing. I formerly shared that opinion, which I had gathered in conversations with men who had lived in the territory, and had been particularly associated with the cattle industry ; but when I had an opportunity to study the nature of the country, I formed the opinion that some of it was quite suitable for wool production. In certain areas there is an abundant growth of Mitchell, Flinders and many other grasses, and if water were made available, a proper system of sub-division of the holdings adopted, and shade provided for stock, I am satisfied that sheep could be satisfactorily raised. In response to inquiries made by me some time ago, I received the following letter from a firm in London: -

In answer to your inquiry respecting Avon Downs wool, we have known this brand for many years. The clip has a good reputation as a high class wool of fine quality, and as such is especially suitable for the needs of the home and continental wool trades. In 1906 the price realized in London for one of the scoured descriptions of this brand was 2s. 5d. per lb., which was, to the best of our belief, the highest price paid for any scoured wool at the December auctions of that year.

Towards the end of 1933, before the slump in wool occurred, the following communi- cation was received from the Australian Mercantile Land and Finance Company Limited, Sydney: -

Dear Sir, 1 have to-day examined the samples which you indicated were from Anthony’s Lagoon Station, Barkly Tablelands. It is indeed a very nice type of wool, and is known in the trade as 64’s. It is soft, of good style, and of excellent staple, but it carries a little dust in the tips, which could be expected. We consider, judging by the small sample submitted, that on to-day’s market the leading fleece lines of such wool would he worth from 18d. to 181/2d.

Those letters show that there is scope for wool-growing in the Northern Territory, provided that transport and other facilities are made available. I admitthat the dehorning of cattle is beneficial for marketing purposes; but, if the Government provides marketing facilities, the owners of the stock will solve for themselves such problems as those relating to dehorning and tipping. Honorable members who recently visited the territory saw a number of large shorthorn hulls making good use of their horns in the mulga scrub by tearing it downto provide for the herds. The treatment of the cattle is a matter which can be left with the producers, who have to work out their own salvation. The development of the Northern Territory is a serious proposition and one with which the Government cannot afford to tinker any longer. No Minister can allow that country to remain in its present unprotected, undeveloped and uncontrolled state. [Leave to continue given.]

  1. direct the attention of the Government to the conditions prevailing at the Darwin school, where white and coloured children occupy not only the same rooms, but also the same seating accommodation. When I say that white Australian-born children have to submit to the same conditions as the coloured children I am not reflecting in any way upon the coloured offspring of the aboriginal people. But white is white and black is black, and it is unreasonable to expect the half-castes or quadroons to emulate the habits and customs of the white children. Whenever the opportunity is afforded the coloured children revert to the habits and customs of the full-blooded coloured people. The present system is unfair to the children, the parents, and the teachers. Provision should be made at once for another school so that the scholars can be instructed in separate buildings.

At the gaol we found that the walls were quite capable of holding any prisoner, but the tin fence surrounding it was of such a flimsy nature that an ordinary criminal could cut his way out of it with a tin opener. The warders are responsible for the safe custody of the prisoners, but if one should escape they are said to be to blame.

The general control ofthe aborigines is an important subject, but I do not propose to deal with it at this juncture. The Government has a duty to perform to future generations in Northern Australia, and it must protect their rights in every possible way, so that they may prosper and enjoy those good things which the country has to offer. I trust that the present Government and the governments of the future will give full consideration to the development of the Northern Territory so that the children of the future may look back with pride upon the works of present day governments, realizing that their natural heritage has been preserved, and handed to them in the same sound, clean and white condition as prevailed when it was handed to our keeping by the pioneers.


.- Before continuing the debate on the Northern Territory, I should like to say a few words concerning the budget. I join with honorable members on both sides of the House in congratulating the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) upon his promotion to full Cabinet rank. I also congratulate him upon the excellent manner in which he delivered his first budget. There may be differences of opinion concerning the contents of the Government’s financial statement, but I feel that there can be no two opinions about the clarity and simplicity of the Treasurer’s speech. I do not wish to refer at length to the general provisions of the Government’s financial policy, except to say that, concerning the general provisions for new expenditure and reductions of taxation, I have nothing but praise for the Government. In particular should I like to refer to the more liberal conditions under which war pensions are to be paid. However strong one’s sympathies may be for all who are in difficult financial circumstances, and however one sympathises with those in their old age, we must agree that there is no greater tragedy in this country to-day than the men who were burnt out in the prime of life while serving their country on the battlefield. The Government’s action in this respect is worthy of the greatest praise. However carefully we may watch the everincreasing cost of our social services and our pensions bill, we must be prepared in the years which lie immediately ahead to incur even greater expenditure upon these burnt-out service men whose disabilities are not directly traceable to war services.

I agree with the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Collins) that the budget has been framed on conservative lines, and that the Government could’ be criticized for not having shown more optimism owing to the probability of receiving a larger amount of revenue during the current financial year. If we are to provide assistance to those needing it, the prosperity of the country must be increased by a more courageous policy of tax reduction. If we are to shoulder the burdens confronting us, trade must be stimulated and employment provided by reduced taxation. I do not wish, however, to develop that criticism, because I feel the definite conservatism displayed in the budget is to a considerable extent justified by the somewhat uncertain state of the international situation. In these circumstances, the Government is perhaps wise in delaying a greater remission of taxes until it is certain of the outcome of the present international disturbance. If further taxes were remitted and then as a result of a crisis they had to bc restored, the psychological effect would be very serious.

I should like to refer briefly to the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) who, during a recent debate, criticized the Government for the degree of reduction made in the land tax. He considers that the land tax is a desirable tax because land is capital. I do not wish to go into this subject at length to-night, but I feel that attention should be directed to the fact that the view of the Leader of the Opposition is that land is capital and ought to be taxed. In other words, he believes in capital taxation. I realize that that is the proper view of an honorable member believing in socialistic theories. He really believes in taxing the people’s savings. I consider that the taxing of land is most undesirable, because it brings about a curtailment of development and of industrial activity.. Many persons say that no arguments can be adduced in support of a reduction of the land tax, because a great proportion of it is paid by wealthy persons and the owners of city properties. Developmental works conducted by private enterprise are the best means of providing employment, and the persons best able to carry out developmental works, are those possessing capital. On numerous occasions when I have studied the figures in the estates of wealthy men, I have been amazed to find that only a small proportion of their capital has been invested in progressive developmental works. In every instance, on closer examination, it was obvious that they had invested their money in active .developmental undertakings up to the point which the land tax permitted and that upon reaching that point they invested their money in less progressive undertakings. Again and again one hears of persons coming from Great Britain to invest in land with the object of developing it, and of returning without having done so, having realized that our land taxes are so heavy as to make that development uneconomic.

Last year the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) when dealing with the subject of afforestation, led us down sylvan glades, and a few days ago the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) led this debate across the fertile Barkly Tablelands to the front door of Australia.. I agree with the honorable member that a careful and scientific investigation should be made into the potentialities of that area. The people of the north have a worthy representative in this House though he does not have a vote. “With some of the contentions of the honorable member for “Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) I, like the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Collins), do not agree, but with one of his utterances I am in complete agreement. I believe that if chartered companies are to be given certain concessions in the form of remissions of taxes it is only right that those who are struggling in the territory to-day should receive similar concessions to enable them to overcome some of their difficulties. I agree with the honorable member for Hume that the first step towards the effective development of the Northern Territory must be in the direction of providing suitable markets for the producers. Until such time as the tariff mania of the world gives place to sanity and the people are able to purchase our beef, efforts to develop grazing in the Northern Territory on a big scale must be more or less futile. We must concentrate on getting markets for the beef which we are capable of producing.

It is also necessary to make a careful scientific analysis of the soil of the Northern Territory, and also of the. type of pasture grasses that might be introduced there. A great difficulty encountered by graziers in the territory to-day is the short growing season for the existing grasses. Because of the great rainfall over a short season, the growth of grasses is tremendous for a while, but when the summer arrives the grass becomes rank. The fattening season for cattle, therefore, is short. Much might be done by introducing grasses which would continue to grow throughout the long dry season. I feel that another duty facing the Government is that of acquainting the people of the world, and the people of the British Empire in particular, of the nature of the Northern Territory. I agree fully with the honorable member for Hume regarding the grazing possibilities of the territory, but I do not agree that it possesses possibilities for close settlement, t. feel that many of the speeches voicing enthusiasm about the potentialities of the north are likely to give the inhabitants of crowded countries the impression that we are keeping from them tremendous areas which are suitable for close settlement. That definitely is not the case.

I also undertook a pilgrimage across the Barkly Tableland, and, as a sheep man, I was impressed with its woolgrowing possibilities. I have since discussed with practical men who have (visited the district that aspect of its possible development, and my enthusiasm has abated to a certain extent. Although the area is suitable for wool-growing, it is not suitable for sheep-breeding, but expert examination .of the possibility of utilizing the Barkly Tableland for the sheep industry is necessary. If a railway were laid down across the tableland, it might be feasible to use the area for dry sheepgrazing. It seems, however, that the cost of conducting the industry there would be too great.

It is incontrovertible that the potentialities of the north are limited, and I feel that ignorance about the Northern Territory is dangerous.. We may be led into tremendous losses, and into “the breaking of hundreds of thousands of hearts, by the institution of immature closer settlement schemes in the north, and wild and enthusiastic statements, born in ignorance, about the territory might invite unwarranted invasion from overcrowded countries.

The honorable member for Hume referred to deterrents to the development of leases in the Northern Territory. A further deterrent is the incredibly low prices that the cattle-raisers receive when they get their cattle to port. The manager of the Victoria River Downs Station, who sends 10,000 head of cattle annually to Wyndham, informed me that the average price received at Wyndham, after driving the cattle 300 miles, is 7s. per cwt. A remuneration of £2 10s. for a beast offers a poor incentive to. develop leases and improve the breed of cattle. Even if the Northern Territory graziers produced the best type of cattle in the world, the prices would not at present be remunerative, and would not justify any big expenditure on development.


– Only about 60 per cent, of the land covered in the leases is developed.


– I realize that the honorable member has peculiar qualifications for being an authority on grazing matters, but I should like him to allow other members who possibly have less experience also to give their ideas.

One other point in connexion with the Northern Territory is the need for the proper development of what is definitely the front door of Australia - Darwin. I suggest that the Government should look into the possibility of establishing a flying boat base at Darwin. The Department of the Interior intends to provide a 45-ft. launch which is to patrol our northern waters and look after the safety of passengers crossing the Timor Sea in aeroplanes. That motor boat will have to stand (by at Darwin every day the air mail is crossing the Timor Sea. The crossing is now made twice weekly and shortly it will ‘be made four times weekly. I estimate that possibly for at least six or eight months, until a daily service has been inaugurated, the boat will not be able to get 100 miles away from Darwin, when it should be patrolling a thousand miles of coast-line. A year hence, when a daily air service is inaugurated the boat will always he standing by, and thus be useless for patrol purposes. The Royal Australian Air Force already possesses flying boats, and I maintain that a base in the south is an indifferent training school in comparison with the possibilities presented at Darwin, where flying boats would make for far greater safety of passengers on the air-mail service than would a motor launch. They would also be of more use for patrol work. The expense of maintaining a base at Darwin would be greater than that of maintaining one in the south, but the difference should be little. I feel that if my suggestion were accepted, I should have to avoid the officers and airmen who would be stationed at Darwin. Nevertheless, the proposal warrants consideration.

I should like to join with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) in urging that the Government act on the suggestion of the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) for the closest investigation of the root causes of unemployment and the » extraordinary anomalies that exist. One important anomaly is the definite labour shortage in certain industries, despite the seriousness of unemployment. It is amazing that while great numbers of good men are unable to get employment, in two directions at any rate, there is pronounced labour shortage. In many districts of Australia there is a scarcity of farm labour. That is a state of affairs which needs careful examination. It is a commentary on the existing economic system that we should have the appalling spectacle of unemployed youths, and at the same time find a Presbyterian boys’ training farm closing down, not because employment cannot be found for graduates, but because boys cannot be induced to enter into training. One hears continually that the Fairbridge school in Western Australia has two or three applications for boys from farms for every one who leaves it. Those in charge of the Big Brother movement are continually receiving letters from farmers asking for boys to take employment on the land. I am told by those in charge of the movement that the wages and conditions offering are better now than they were even in the boom days that preceded- the depression.

Mr McCall:

– Are those applications mostly for boys aged under eighteen?


– They are applications from farmers. It is easy to say that the farmers do not give fair conditions to their employees, but only a small percentage is guilty. Quite apart, however, from the question of wages and conditions, the fact remains that the reward for the farmer’s labour is so small that he cannot pay comparable wages and give equal conditions to those obtaining in other industries. For that reason, parents will not allow their sons to take employment on the land. The difficulties of the farming industry must bc rectified if the labour conditions are to he improved, and if there is to be development in this avenue of employment. Another instance of the shortage of labour in the midst of unemployment is the scarcity of domestic labour, and in that respect one cannot say that wages and working conditions are inferior. It is, I think, attributable to a wrong mental outlook on the part of the young women of Australia, where work in a factory or in an office as a stenographer, very’ often for indifferent wages, is considered desirable and a matter for pride, while it is deemed to be beneath the dignity of a girl to seek employment in what is woman’s natural sphere of occupation. That is something which should be investigated. I do not suggest that we should do what Hitler is attempting to achieve, namely, send women back to the home, but we must try to overcome this wrong mental outlook which exists throughout Australia.

Summing up the points I have made in my speech, I again urge the Govern- ment to adopt the suggestion of the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) that it is imperative to undertake a proper survey and investigation of the potentialities of the territory. Equally is it important to make known to the world the real facts about the resources of the Northern Territory, and in that way remove the fear of arousing the cupidity of denselypopulated countries, and the risk of illconsidered closer settlement schemes. I feel also that the most careful inquiry is warranted into, the two instances of labour shortage in the midst of unemployment which I have cited. In conclusion I urge upon the Government the necessity of making at the earliest possible moment further reductions of taxes, because by so doing the administration will enable the country to be more capable of bearing the great burden of social services which it is endeavouring to shoulder to-day.

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

– I have been greatly interested this evening in the special attention - it amounts to specialization - that has been devoted to the consideration of the claims of the Northern Territory. In fact the claims of the Northern Territory seem to be exploited in this House almost to the total disregard of the vast empty spaces which are to be found in so many of the southern districts. I approach the consideration of the Northern Territory with a long vista of political experience, some of which at least has been devoted to this very matter. The Northern Territory became a responsibility of the Commonwealth just about a month prior to the time when I first entered Parliament, notably on the 1st January, 1911. Since that date I have heard a panegyric delivered upon the Northern Territory almost every year, with variations, of course. That panegyric to-night has taken the form of an idyll on the cabbage which could not be put into a bran bag, a poem on the cauliflower too beautiful to be eaten, and suitable only for decorative purposes in milady’s boudoir. All I can say about the panegyrics, is that they improve from year to year. The Northern Territory alone remains the same. I was very satisfied, however, to listen to the gentle dripping of some useful cold water on this subject in the course of the speech of the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn) who really did apply a practical mind to a practical question. The honorable members for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) and Hume (Mr. Collins) have both recently visited the Northern Territory, and to justify their long and pleasant absence from their constituencies, they have published interesting lectures upon the subject of their tour.

Mr Collins:

– That is more than the honorable member would do even if he had lived in the territory for years.


– I visited the Northern Territory before the honorable gentleman politically was ever thought of, or before he had even begun to qualify for that position of a successful auctioneer, whose skill as such he manifested this afternoon when apparently he was trying to trade off the Northern Territory in small allotments to honorable members at so much a lot. There are no takers. And although I have observed that the very highest call of patriotism demands that the Northern Territoryshould be settled, and settled promptly, that it can produce excellent wool, cabbages, and cauliflowers, and excellent almost anything, and that it is necessary to the defence of our country that it should be almost congested with population, which must come from somewhere - I know not where - I have not noticed the slightest inclination on the part of these honorable “ panegyrists “ to take up long-term leases there. Those honorable members are still with us, and the Northern Territory is still wherever the north lies from this point. The truth is that much nonsense is spoken upon this subject. The Northern Territory cannot be settled in advance of the rest of Australia. Where is this population for the Northern Territory to come from, and what is the special call that the north exercises when the south is still waiting for population and the farmer is still waiting for a market for the wheat which he produces in such close proximity to the good railways and flourishing markets ? I regard the talk about a rapid developmental policy for the Northern Territory as ‘being so much political vapouring for political track trials at an appropriate season. In the south, ample territories which are adjacent to the railways serving our markets - accessible lands better than any in the Northern Territory, and suitable for sheep-farming and wheat-growing - are still awaiting development and population. The development of the Northern Territory - the most outlying and tho least accessible part of Australia - is a problem which must long await the settlement of other parts which are calling more imperatively, and which are more easily exploited.

Some honorable members seem to have forgotten that the amendment before the House is that tlie item be reduced by fi, and I would fain bring them back for a moment to a consideration of that fact. The object of the motion, as has been disclosed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), is to ensure legislative collaboration in the establishment of a national employment council to deal with unemployment, particularly among the youth of both sexes, and to provide adequate relief and training for those for whom employment is not provided. This opens up problems for consideration much nearer home than the Northern Territory. There are some of them awaiting solution in the electorate of Hume, for example, which was for so many years well represented by my friend, Mr. Parker Moloney. I support the amend-‘ ment by the Leader of tho Opposition, and the object which he has in moving it. Not that I think for one moment that the amendment, even if carried, which it certainly will not be, would have the effect of ending unemployment, but I do -think that the calling of public attention to this gross ma.l-adjustment of our social fabric to which the honorable member for Flinders also referred continues to be one of the most imperative duties that can engage our attention. We make frequent references to unemployment. It becomes, I acknowledge, a little wearisome to insist so much and so frequently upon this important subject, but, to my view, it is the real question and the only question of vital importance, because wrapped up in it, if the problem is to be solved, is a matter of fundamental change. The budget which honorable members are now considering is a good one on paper. Every honorable member seems to have considered it his duty to congratulate tho Treasurer (Mr. Casey) upon it. I have no objection to congratulating the honorable gentleman, who is an efficient United Australia party Treasurer, and a very industrious one, and with enthusiasm gives effect to that policy upon which he was elected. If our experience, however, could only be squared successfully with the theories of the Treasurer and others, things would be a great deal better for us. No country presents better opportunities for applying a new and courageous policy than does Australia. To my mind, none illustrates better the futility of the present patchwork on which we are now engaged. Of course it may be said that conditions are a little better. It has been said, and will be said again, that we have turned the corner and in an absolute sense, I suppose, that must be admitted to contain some truth. But, relative to our resources and opportunities, it is absolutely false. Having regard to the extent of our undeveloped territories, including the Northern Territory, to the standard of cur intelligence, if we are to judge it by our labour-saving machinery, and also to tlie tragic fact that, even according to the admission of the Treasurer himself, almost 20 per cent, of our working class people last year were unable to find employment, the conclusion is forced upon us that we afford a shocking example of the utter futility of our whole social system.

The budget statement shows no intelligent appreciation of fundamentals. It fails to estimate the probable effect of unassailable facts, or to trace facts back to their natural causes. It argues from false premises. By the way, it is a most distressing fact that, of all the subjects that we discuss in this deliberative chamber of representative men, the one most neglected is economics. The problem which confronts us may be stated in a few sentences. Why is it that indigence and malnutrition on a large scale exist in this land of superabundant resources? Why is it that the use of labour-saving machinery always makes the lot of the worker harder? Why is it that the production of superfluous quantities of wheat makes bread harder to get by those who need it? Why, may I ask the woolgrowers, it is that the production of more wool means shabbier clothes? Why is it that workmen stand idle in an undeveloped country while so many of their fellows live in hovels which pass for dwellings? The answers to these questions given by honorable members opposite are masterpieces of evasion and selfcomplacency. The real answer can be given in a few words: Intelligent and sympathetic social service is subordinate to ignorance and avarice.

I was tempted by the remarks, made last evening by the honorable member for Lilley (Sir Donald Cameron), and also by those made earlier by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) to formulate a few thoughts on defence.

BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP; LP from 1944; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954

– One of the marshals of Napoleon has come to light ! Let us hear him !


– The Camerons- - the honorable member for Barker and the honorable member for Lilley - are a doughty breed ! The defence policy of the Labour party is well known. It is adequate - defence against aggression. I admit that that is a wide statement, that may cover even the policy of pacificism, in which I so heartily believe. I disclaim any expert knowledge of tac.ties or strategy. I have never had any experience in directing naval manoeuvres. Yet I have some ideas on defence. It is important to remember that, if we could do away with all the strategists and all the experts in naval manoeuvres we should solve the whole problem of defence, for there would then be no more need to consider defence measures. It has been suggested that we should be forced to consider the necessity to defend Australia. So, in intelligent anticipation of being forced to face the subject, I now do so voluntarily. To justify defence, as I understand it, one of three factors is necessary: Attack, threatened attack, or probable attack. I assume that very remote possibilities are to be ruled out of consideration. If that is not so, we should be constructing dykes around our big cities to prevent .tidal waves from submerging them ; we should be providing steel nets over the heads of our people to protect them from attacking aeroplanes ; and - I say this in answer to the remarks of the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. E. F. Harrison) - we should be wearing coats of mail and carrying guns. Moreover, every house would have two policemen attached to it, one at the front and one at the rear. Perhaps it would be a good idea to provide still another one to look after the interests of the cook.

Defence, such as honorable members opposite recommend, must be defence against attack, threatened attack, or probable attack. I therefore ask again a question which I have asked frequently, but hitherto have not had answered. Who is threatening us with attack? If there is any threat at all, it must be from an organized nation. We could not in these days be overrun by Goths, Huns, or even aborigines. The attack must be threatened by some organized nation. I take it, also, that the threat must be from some naval power.

BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP; LP from 1944; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954

– Certainly.


– As the honorable member for Barker acquiesces in that statement. I hone that he will later acquiesce in other statements that I make. The threat of attack must be from a naval power because no combination of science and devilry has so far invented a projectile” capable of being propelled 5,000 miles across the ocean to Australia. I understand - no doubt I shall be speedily corrected if I am wrong - that the only naval powers of any considerable importance in the world to-day are Great Britain, France, Germany, the United States of America, Italy, and Japan. Does any one, including even the nitwits, who must necessarily support the United Australia party, seriously believe thar Australia is in the remotest danger of attack by Great Britain. France. Germany, the United States of America or Italy?

Mr Fisken:

– Apparently the honorable member does not believe that there is need for any defence measures to be taken.


– I appeal to the honorable member not to interrupt my carefully reasoned argument by irrelevant interjections. I shall welcome, of course, constructive interjections. No honorable member of this Parliament, and, I .believe, no sensible person in Australia imagines that we are in the slightest danger of attack from any of the nations I have mentioned with the possible exception - and I say this deliberately - of Japan. When I mention Japan, please do not misunderstand me, or imagine that I suggest that in my opinion Australia is in the slightest danger of attack by Japan. But every other nation that I have mentioned must at once be ruled out of court as a possible aggressor. I make an exception in the case of Japan, first, because of its proximity, Yokohama being only 4,420 miles from Sydney; and, secondly, because of the unjust and provocative suspicion entertained by some people against this friendly country; and thirdly, because of the insults habitually offered to Japan by offensive critics who create a war atmosphere when they speak, and apparently, when they even think of Japan. Japan is the only possible aggressor against which we have to defend Australia.

The honorable member for Lilley (Sir Donald Cameron) says that it is the duty of every nation, according to its state and power, to take proper measures for its own defence. I agree, and I take this opportunity to apologize to the honorable member for interrupting his interesting speech last night. I hardly know why I should have attempted to provoke one of the least provocative members in the chamber ; but I confess that on this subject I am easily provoked. I really think that I was excited last night, because although I was listening to the honorable member for Lilley I was looking at the Minister for Defence who was sitting opposite me.

We have reduced our possible aggressors to Japan. But we have no quarrel with Japan. On the contrary, we have a perfect understanding with that country, which was one of our allies during the Great War, and is still our friend, and one of our best -customers.

BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP; LP from 1944; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954

– So was Italy.


– I remind the honorable member that he is making war on

Italy, and not I. That is the difference between us. I am not greatly concerned with the attitude of the military mind, which sees a danger of attack by Japan. v I distrust the judgment of militaryminded persons because warriors, in accordance with their trade, are expert in making wars. But even from the point of view of experts and the militarists, it can easily by demonstrated that it would be impracticable for Japan to land a hostile force in Australia, even if, on other grounds, such a thing were not almost unthinkable. In this connexion I commend to honorable members a book entitled The Defence of Australia, by Mr. M. H. Ellis, a brother of a gentleman well known to members of ^ the Country party. He draws attention to the time taken, and the expense incurred, in landing 100,000 Australians in a foreign friendly port during the Great War. He points out that our troops were amply protected by convoys on their way to Europe ; they were moved from one friendly port to another; they took with them no artillery or munitions, and no food except for the voyage; no huts or housing, and none of the campaigning necessities’ which must go with the most ill-equipped force nosing into hostile territory and dependent on a long line of sea communications. Therefore, if we assume the absurd, namely, that Japan has the desire to attack Australia, we see how difficult, if not impossible, a successful invasion would be. Mr. Ellis concludes by quoting a number of authorities. One of them, Mr. Hector Bywater, the English writer on naval affairs, considers that a force of 500,000 men would be necessary to subdue Australia, whilst a J apanese statesman, Count Soeshima, estimated the number of men at 1,000,000. I recommend the book to honorable members. Mr. Ellis has set out in concise form a number of useful facts which go to show that, even from the point of view of a militarist, the invasion of Australia by Japan is a practical impossibility, a venture not likely to be undertaken by those shrewd naval and military gentlemen who control the affairs of the Japanese nation. He goes on to show that, even if such a force were landed, the position would be entirely different from the land- ing of Australian forces in friendly territory. An invading army would land in unfriendly territory, and could be starved out of existence before it could make its presence seriously felt. I am not greatly concernedwith the militarist point of view, for I am convinced that those military experts whose opinions are of value know that the proposition is so preposterous as to be almost impossible.

Mr Fairbairn:

– Provided Australia is armed.

BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP; LP from 1944; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954

– Who are the military experts who hold that view.


– I have referred the honorable member to a publication in which a number of experts are mentioned. That is all that I can pause to do to-night, for only incidentally have I said that the successful landing of an armed force in Australia would be impracticable. I now say that such a thing is incredible. Assuming that we mind our own business, is there any instance in history of a highly-organized civilized nation making an unprovoked attack on another nation equally organized and civilized?

BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP; LP from 1944; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954

– There are many such instances.


– I pause for. examples. There is most certainly not an instance of an unprovoked attack being made on a country 5,000 miles away from the base of the attacking nation.

BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP; LP from 1944; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954

– Then what were the Conquestadores doing in America ?


– I am aware that ignorance, calumny, and insult can achieve disaster to almost any limit. But I do not advocate a policy of defence on that ground. Defence must be considered from the view-point that our people will conduct themselves decorously, and not interfere with or insult their neighbours. The honorable member for Lilley states that lack of defence is an invitation to attack, and cites the instance of Abyssinia to support his contention. I challenge that statement, because I believe it to be entirely wrong. In the times in which we live - and they are the only times in which we are interested - a nation invites attack by arming, sending out ships of war, and interfering with, challenging, threatening, and insulting other peoples. Those things constitute invitations to war ; but minding one’s own business, extending courtesy to others, and expressing goodwill are not invitations to war. Abyssinia is not a highlyorganized civilized nation, but a congeries of warring tribes. Its government is primitive ; its territory is within striking distance of Europe, and for many years it has been the hunting ground of competing imperialists and exploiters. Italy, France, and Britain have all been in the hunt. Disorganized, not in a military sense, which does not matter, but socially, Abyssinia has been a daw to peck at. The European countries which I have mentioned have all invested large sums of money in Abyssinia, and avaricious speculators are exploiting the country. Abyssinia’s defences have not counted, and do not count now. Italy’s invasion of Abyssinia is not a war of conquest, but a massacre. When France and England blame Italy, the reply of Italy is, “ Well, you two ought not to talk “. None of the conditions which apply to Abyssinia apply to Australia. We in Australia are a civilized people, with a highly organized form of government. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Collins) says that Australia is undeveloped, and he advocates the filling of our vast empty spaces. The truth is that we have, in a single century, made marvellous development politically and socially. As between our own people, we have much misused this continent, it is true, but as against the outside world we have a great record of achievement which extends from the time when our forefathers crossed the seas in the crazy vessels which brought them here. We have brought to bear the highest order of enterprise and intelligence, which has been expressed in terms of science and machinery, and we have applied to all a form of systematic and democratic government. And so, I ask - who has a better claim to Australia than the Australians themselves? It may be readily admitted that the distribution of the world’s population is a problem. The natural increase of the population of Australia is admittedly too low. We have to justify before the bar of public opinion the stoppage of migration, but we are not alone in having these problems, and we shall grapple with them. I myself have some ideas on that subject also, but I have not time to develop them this evening. These problems, however, cannot be magnified into what may be called a. provocation to attack Australia. .Whether we view the matter from the point of view of the militarists who, I regret to say, are constantly making mischief, or from the point of view of the pacifists, the truth is that the only possible danger - that of an attack from our friendly ally, Japan - does not constitute a real menace to Australia at all, either actual, threatened or probable. Therefore, the defence vote for Australia should be substantially and progressively reduced, instead of being, as suggested by the present Government, calamitously increased. I am justified in making that assertion, not only by reference to the actual requirements of the case, but also by reference to the fact that such a reduction would be a friendly gesture of goodwill, and an inspiration to the whole world. As to the navy, if it should not be cut out altogether, expenditure upon it should be reduced to the very minimum for the reasons I have mentioned, and because our navy tends to bring us, as it has indeed brought us in the past, into conflict with other powers. I have heard honorable members speaking of H.M.A.S. *Australia which, I understand, is at present operating in the Mediterranean. I have had, on several occasions in this House, to protest against the use and misuse of Australian vessels associated with the British Navy in foreign waters. They have been used in a manner likely to provoke other nations, and to embroil Australia with countries with which we have no quarrel whatever. Our land defences might well consist of shore armaments only, and the harbours to our main cities are comparatively easily defended. We have disposed of the amusing theory of the “ quiet river “ invasion. It is, of course, true, and it is a fact that can neither be avoided nor denied, that a marauding naval vessel may conceivably fire shots into the coast of Australia, but that such a vessel could by those means do anything more than effect a certain amount of passing damage is absurd. Moreover, the possibility of such tactics being indulged in is no excuse whatever for hysterically increasing the burden of taxation for purposes of defence.

It has been said that we must keep the trade routes open, and a good deal of nonsense has been spoken on that subject. The truth is that even the biggest fleet in the. world could not keep 12,000 miles of trade routes free from danger against the smallest navy in the world. Again, if we adopt for a moment the militarist point of view, an attack on a nonbelligerent on the open sea is unthinkable, because the navies of the world would be against the marauder It ought to be borne in mind that we are the most self-sufficient - in the sense of self-supporting - continent in the world, and even with communications, cut off, we are in the unique position that we could sustain life on a high, scale here for an unlimited number of years, assuming that a considerable section of the rest of the world had forfeited its sanity.

It is worth mentioning in this connexion that our friends the Japanese are not a migratory people. On page 24 of the book from which I have already quoted, appears the following passage: -

For one thing, the Japanese have not shown themselves an emigrating race. Outside their national surroundings they seem to be unhappy. It is rare for them to settle down permanently and colonize a strange land as do the Chinese. Where there are 9,364,000 Chinese living and* multiplying overseas, 634,913 Japanese were abroad at the end of 1930.

And then a comparative table is given showing the countries to which the Japanese have migrated.


– The honorable member’s time has expired.


– That is my case for showing that the defence of Australia may with safety be entrusted to the Labour party.

Progress reported.

page 1244


Bill brought up by Mr. Thorby and read a first time.

page 1245

BUDGET 1935-36

In Committee of Supply : (Consideration resumed).


.- Although similar compliments have been voiced practically ad nauseum, I take this opportunity to congratulate the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) upon his appointment. Were it not for the fact that differing schools of political thought are so distinctly demarcated in this Parliament, one might have hoped that the new Treasurer would have taken advantage of the remarkable opportunity presented to him by such an appointment to introduce new budgetary methods. Unfortunately, the Treasurer has neglected to take advantage of this opportunity and has come before this Parliament merely as another exponent of the orthodox methods of finance. In so doing he is fundamentally opposed to the Labour party’s ideas and ideals. The degree of divergence of opinion on financial matters in this and every Australian Parliament, and in parliaments in other parts of the world in which the Labour party is represented, is the main reason why Labour representatives cannot be members of a non-party government. Of recent years arguments have been advanced to prove that a government “representative of all sections of the community” is the most advantageous government for any community, and in certain countries endeavours have been made to establish governments of that nature. Whilst such governments may seem possible in theory, they have been proved altogether impossible in practice, for the reason that the political remedies put forward by the Labour party are totally incompatible with those advanced by anti-Labour parties. It would be as impossible for the Labour party to work in conjunction with an established political party of another colour as it would be for a modern surgeon to work in conjunction with a leech doctor who believes only in bleeding, which was the most advanced treatment known to medical science several centuries ago. Yet it is frequently suggested that co-operation of such a character between our political doctors would provide the best remedy for the economic, political, financial, and social maladies from which the nation is suffering at the present time. No one would suggest that a doctor having at his command all the knowledge and appliances of modern medical science should collaborate with a doctor who adhered to methods belonging to ages that are dead. That analogy applies here. The Government party will not face the position as it exists to-day. It refuses to recognize the modern requirements of society and declines to plan its programmes to cope with new ideas in order that it might march forward step by step ; it refuses to recognize that conditions to-day are no longer static, but dynamic, and that in order to meet such conditions it is necessary to prepare and propound new programmes.First of all, for instance, we should realize that the use of money in commerce is comparatively a new practice in the history of nations ; to-day money is regarded as the whole source of wealth; and its real use for the purposes of exchange of goods and services is disregarded. Recognizing the real purpose of money, and that this nation, as the previous speaker pointed out, is one of the wealthiest in the world, that it produces practically all the necessaries of life, as well as many commodities required for the higher well-being of a community, I suggest - and it is the policy of the party I represent - that more effective use should be made of the credit sources of this nation for the purpose of enabling the goods that are produced in such abundance to be distributed amongst the people who are in dire need of them. The Labour party suggests that the credit sources of the nation, which at the present time are largely unemployed, shouldbe employed to the fullest extent. To-day, State governments are endeavouring, to the best of their ability , to increase spending power within their particular boundaries, but they find it necessary to increase that spending power by means of loan money borrowed from private banking institutions. Leading economists, excepting some who are in the employ of certain banks and mainly for that reason propagate different views, suggest that such a policy is the only one which can be truly effective. We suggest that economic policies should not be effectuated by means of loan moneys borrowed from private banks, but by means of credits issued by the Commonwealth Bank. The objection will be offered, no doubt, that such a suggestion is tantamount to inflation, but I point out that every time a private hanking institution allows an overdraft or issues an advance of credit, it is, to that extent inflating the amount of credit then existing in the community, just as every treasury-bill issued inflates - or to use the latest term - reflates the amount of credit in the community. A reflationary financial policy has been suggested in many countries as the only policy which will assist nations out of the morass of debt in which they are floundering. In order to effectuate such a policy, so that it will not place a country deeper in debt, the credit required should be obtained from a bank which is representative of and controlled by the nation. “We in Australia are in a fortunate position in this respect. An opportunity is presented to-day to pay tribute to the foresight of those members of the Labour party who, a quarter of a century ago, established the Commonwealth Bank in the teeth of bitter opposition from the political prototypes and predecessors of those honorable members who support this Government. While believing that eventually in order to operate this policy, it will be necessary to bring about control of the banking system by the nation, and while recognizing what a tremendous advance such a step would be and that those responsible for it would be entitled to full credit, nevertheless I believe that the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank by the Labour party a quarter of a century ago, in view of the state of political 9pinion at the time, was in many respects a greater and more difficult achievement. I give full credit to Mr. King O’Malley who was the guiding spirit behind the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank, an institution which assisted in raising almost £300,000,000 of loan money to finance Australia’s participation in the war, and also financed this nation to the amount of £1,000,000,000 for products produced and exported to Great Britain and other countries during the war.

The Treasurer, speaking last week at a gathering in Melbourne, stated that the sole reason for the institution of the present banking commission was that though 85 per cent, of the community were in more or less comfortable circumstances the other 15 per cent, were not so happily situated. The honorable gentleman must have ignored all the figures which have been quoted in this Parliament time and again, not only by honorable members on this side, but also by honorable members opposite. It is a well recognized fact that 25 per cent, of the people have not the means to lead a normal life and that a great many other persons are not by any means in the happy state enjoyed, as the honorable gentleman would have us believe, by 85 per cent, of the population. In addition, every year over 100^000 youths throughout Australia are added to the ranks of the unemployed. These are the problems which have to be faced by this Government, but although two governments led by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) have been in office for four years no definite constructive effort has been made to deal with them. I am convinced that no method of dealing with our problems oan be successful unless the amount of credit in circulation in the community is increased. I realize, of course, as has been argued by honorable members opposite, that conditions have improved to some slight extent within recent years. That is merely because this country iu common with other countries is rising out of the trough of the -depression. Within the last 150 years, since the beginning of the machine age, there have been eighteen definite depressions, each worse than its immediate predecessor. But whereas in the past depression and its attendant miseries were the result of poverty - lack of food, clothing and other requirements for a decent livelihood - the world is to-day experiencing a depression of plenty; we are suffocating beneath a blanket of abundance. The difficulty is that that plenty is not being distributed to the people in need of it. And though, to some extent, despite rather than because of the actions of this Government, Australia has recovered slightly from the depression, there is no promise that it will escape altogether from its effects. Australia is in the position of a ship which has been on its beam ends but at the last minute, has righted itself. But even if ,the ship of state has been able to get back to an even keel the fact is obvious to any one willing to give interested attention to the subject that there will be future depressions, each worse than its immediate predecessor, and a time must come when the economic system will be crushed by its own weight, unless a government with sufficient foresight has taken preventive measures in advance. I suggest that the most rapid method of dealing with the problem is to increase the internal purchasing power of the community. Domestic government can have no effect upon our external income, but our internal income is totally dependent upon the policy adopted by the reigning government of the day. This suggestion has been put forward by numbers of economists and in particular by a previous Treasurer at the Premiers conference in February, 1931. It was suggested at that time that sufficient credit should be pumped into the community to bring price levels, which, of course, rise with an increase of the currency, up to the 1928-29 figure. In those years price levels were more stable than they had been for many years past. During 1928, for example, the commodity price level was 1800: during 1929 it rose to 1803, while in December, 1930, it fell very rapidly to 1399. It was also estimated at that time, and no facts have emerged to disprove the estimate, that if the purchasing power of the community were increased to the extent proposed employment would be provided for 100,000 to 200,000 persons who were then out of work. If that had been done the income of the nation would have been increased by from £9,000,000 to £10,000,000 The expenditure of large amounts that at present’ have to be paid for interest, sinking fund, and the relief of unemployment would be avoided. I believe that it is the only method under which we can hope to effect any substantial lightening of the taxation burden at present resting on our people. The Government argues in favour of the reduction of taxes. There can be no reduction while large sums are needed to pay for necessary services. It is noticeable that banking, insurance, mortgage and invest ment companies, which through their general managers and other spokesmen, are the most insistent advocates of the reduction of taxes, are the very concerns for which the bulk of the taxation is levied, because they arc the principal recipients of the amounts disbursed by way of interest on internal and external loans. They -are thus placed in an inconsistent and untenable position. Yet they are the first to raise a cry against repudiation whenever it is suggested that there should be a lowering of their receipts. Obviously, the taxes which they are called upon, to pay cannot be reduced unless the burden is taken from one class and placed upon another, or unless some means are found whereby the aggregate income of the community can be increased. I have suggested the only possible course; but it is objected to by these institutions because, although they would save a certain sum in the taxes that they pay, they would lose considerably more in the profits made from the millions” of pounds which they now lend to the nation, but which would, under another system, be issued through the Commonwealth Bank. It is also astonishing to find that so many of the .persons who stand to benefit most from such a policy of increased spending power throughout the community - pastoralists, graziers, and others who would be .able to sell a much larger volume of their goods on the best possible market, the home market - are opposed to it.

At the present time references are frequently being made in this Parliament to the possibility of Australia being involved in war at an early date. According to the nature of the political views that we hold, we are endeavouring either to impose or to prevent the imposition of sanctions. It is recognized on every hand that in the ultimate event if this nation is compelled to proceed from economic and financial to military sanctions it will have to find a considerable amount of money for the enforcement of those military sanctions. An estimate cannot be made of what a great war in the near future would cost this country. The leaders of Australia went into the last war almost lightheartedly, and made to Great Britain the offer of 20,000 voluntarily enlisted men, more or less without any consideration of the probable cost.

Eventually Australia sent 350,000 men. We have now had experience of the cost of a great war. Up to the present the cost to Australia of the last war has been £850,000,000, and we are still expending in respect of obligations arising out of the war approximately £20,000,000 per annum. For many years to come, almost certainly until-the end of the present century, the Australian Government will have to meet commitments in that regard. That that is not an exaggeration of the prospect is shown hy the fact that the. Government of the United States of America is still paying a large number of pensions arising out of the civil war that took place in the ‘sixties of the last century, and, in addition, pensions to Seven descendants of persons who saw service in a war in which that nation was involved in 1812. Yet, quite lightheartedly, almost casually, and careless of the expense involved, the Government is preparing to engage in another holocaust. At the moment, I am dealing with, not the greatest cost of all,’ that of human life, but merely the hundreds of millions of pounds that would have to be raised to finance such an undertaking. No honorable member opposite has expressed the slightest fear that any difficulty would be experienced in providing finance to whatever amount was required and for whatever period the war might continue. That, of itself, should be sufficient to convince all sections of the community that no honorable member, at least on the Government side, has any doubt as to the ability of this nation, when required, to meet whatever commitments may be laid upon it. We, on this side, contend that the sufferings of the people during the last five years have in many cases been worse than those endured during the war, for the reason that wartime sacrifices fell with the greatest severity on the most fit section of the community - the male section - but during the poverty competition, in which Australia has been engaged within the last five years, the misery has been felt most severely by the women and children dependants of breadwinners who have been unemployed. It is necessary for this Government to tackle the serious problem of unemployment. Yet it suggests that it can find an unlimited amount of money to finance any stray war that looms on the horizon, but would have us believe that it is impossible to provide the money necessary to ensure continuous employment for the 400,000 people in this country who are so much in need of it.

I regret tho method which, was adopted, not only in Australia, but in Great “Britain and other countries, to finance the Great War. Instead of drawing upon the financial reserves of the nation, loans were raised through private banks with the result that the public debt of Australia was increased by hundreds of millions of pounds, and that of Great Britain rose to the almost unbelievable amount of £8,000,000,000 upon which hundreds of millions of pounds have been and are still being paid as interest. This terrible burden of capital and interest debt need not have been laid upon the people of this country. After the first or second loan had been raised, the banks, in order to encourage investments by the public in future war loans, undertook, by merely book entries, .to provide 90 per cent, of all subscriptions by their customers, who, by that act, became indebted to the banks to the full amount. This action in that crisis was clear evidence of the power of private banks to extend credit. I am not suggesting that individual banks could extend credit to an unlimited amount. Tt is obvious that they must work in collaboration with the Commonwealth Bank which controls the note issue; hut under a coordinated system it is possible for private banks to grant credits equal to about ten times the amount of their cash reserves. If one bank departed from this arrangement and extended credit beyond the agreed limit, the mechanism of the system would be thrown out of gear, and the bank concerned would be exposed to the risk of a run on its reserves by depositors. But whilst the banks keep in step and do not extend credit beyond the agreed ratio, there is not this danger. I am not forgetting, of course, the effect of an expansion of credit upon price levels of commodities. Since the prices of raw materials govern the prices of manufactured goods, careful regard must be had for the index figure of price levels in the management of a reformed bank- ing policy which would be of immense value to the nation in time of need. I believe that reform along the lines which I have indicated is the only method for the stabilization of currency.

Whilst it is obvious to those who have studied the problem of monetary reform - excepting Douglas Credit and suchlike theorists - that monetary reform of itself is not the remedy for all the evils from which the nation is suffering, I am convinced that it would be the most important first step, and that it would be of immense advantage to the community because it would pave the way to a reduction of the hours of labour in industry and the eventual absorption of private enterprise by State enterprise. The only argument that can be advanced against a nation having full control of its banking system is that there might not be the sameconfidence in the management; that private banking institutions are more likely to safeguard the interests of depositors. My reply to that argument is that thousands of banks in the United States of America have gone into liquidation during the last few years, andmany private banks in England were also in grave difficulties during the last century. An outstanding example of the inability of private banks to emerge successfully from a financialcrisis was the series of bank failures in Australia in 1893. TheStory of the Commonwealth Bank and the Note Issue, a booklet published by D. J. Amos, an Adelaide writer,quotes Anstey’s denunciation of private banks in these words -

The “ Commercial “ was the most notorious of the defaultingbanks. It declared a 12 per cent. dividend, and then closed its doors upon 30,000 depositors and millions of deposits. It then appropriated one-third of the deposits as” preference “capital, and gave receiptson the indefinite future for the twothirdsbalance. Otherbanks followed the “Commercial’s” example, and thousands of depositors were left penniless, compelled to sell their deposit receipts and their compulsory shares fora fraction of theirface value. The directors of these fiduciary institutions had cross-loaned to each other enormous sums of other people’s money, yet while they were pushing other people to the wall, they conspired with eachother, met in secret, and wiped off their mutual obligations for a few pence or one farthing in the pound. They kepttheir assets, gave each otherclean receipts, and got through the legislature of the State an act of Parliament making it an offence for any person or newspaper to give publicity to their scandalous, secret “ compositions “. They not only wiped off each other’s debts to the institutions they controlled, whose depositors’ money they had borrowed, upon whose remaining assets they had foreclosed,but from these foreclosed funds they again “ borrowed “ to purchase the scrip and deposit receipts of the thousands they had ruined. Thus these financiers, trusted custodians of other men’s money, emerged from the struggle more wealthy than ever.

After the bank smash in 1893, years before Labour attained power, an antiLabour government in Queensland caused several inquiries to be held, and it was found that the Premier of the day, Sir Thomas McIlwraith, had borrowed from the Queensland National Bank about £300,000 for which there were practically no securities. The Premier disappeared overseas in order to avoid the inquiry. I also refer honorable members opposite to a speech made in the New South Wales Parliament a few months ago by Mr. Ryan, now a member of the Stevens Government. On that occasion he bitterlyattacked the English, Scottish and Australian Bank. The three banks to which I have referred were the worst offenders in the smash. There was unimpeachable evidence that their shareholders made vast profits out of the catastrophe. There could be no more damning indictment of the activities of the private banking institutions than their actions in Australia in the great bank smash of1893.


– The honorable member’s time has expired.

Question - That the first item be reduced by £1(Mr. Curtin’s amendment) - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Prowse.)

AYES: 20

NOES: 27

Majority . .7



Question so resolved in the negative.

Amendment negatived.

First item agreed to.

Progress reported.

House adjourned at 11.13 p.m.

page 1250


The following answers to questions were circulated: -

Northern Territory : Reports by Mr. Blain

Mr Blain:

n asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -

In view of the fact that he has declined to lay reports by the honorable member for the Northern Territory upon the territory on the table of the House, and has given his views on the territory to the Canberra Chamber of Commerce, will the Minister make a statement in this House and give honorable members a full opportunity of discussing this very important subject?

Mr Paterson:

– The Government is at present considering matters connected with the development of the Northern Territory. When decisions have been arrived at, an announcementwill be made.

National Insurance

Mr Jennings:

s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. Has the Government been supplied with or obtained any reports on national insurance since the report of the Royal Commission on National Insurance appointed in 1923?
  2. If so, will he supply copies of any such reports to honorable members for their information ?
Mr Casey:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. A report by an actuarial committee, dated15th June, 1928, was circulated to members of Parliament when the National Insurance Bill was introduced by the BrucePage Government on 14th September, 1928. Only a few copies of this report are available and a copy will be furnished to the honorable member.

The Government recently took steps to arrange for a further investigation of this subject.

Italo-Abyssinian Dispute

Mr Curtin:

n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Has he been made cognizant of the nature of the terms formulated by Italy, and reported to have been communicated by the Premier of France to the Government of the United Kingdom, for the cessation of hostilities in Abyssinia?
  2. If so, will he intimate what view the Commonwealth Government has arrived at concerning the merits of the terms, and whether this Parliament will be given an opportunity to consider them before further action is taken to give effect to the sanctions adopted by the Co-ordination Committee of the League of Nations?
Mr Lyons:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

  1. The Commonwealth Government is kept informed by the Government of the United Kingdom of conversations it has held with the Government of France, but the Commonwealth Government is not free to disclose confidential communications between the governments referred to.
  2. See answer to number 1.
Mr McCall:

l asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

What countries have refused to agree to Sanction IV.?

Mr Lyons:

– The Commonwealth Government has no knowledge that any countries have refused to agree to Sanction IV. All State members have, however, not yet replied to the SecretaryGeneral of the League.

Mr Ward:

d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

Whether any application has been made by any member nation of the League of Nations to the Sanctions Co-ordination Committee for payment of compensation for losses incurred in the imposition of economic sanctions against Italy; if so, what attitude is the Commonwealth Government adopting towards such a request?

Mr Lyons:

– It is understood that certain State members of the League, by virtue of their exceptional situation as close neighbours of Italy or by the distinctive character of their trade relations with Italy, have requested special consideration under paragraph 3 of article 16 of the Covenant. Proposal V. of the Co-ordination Committee, which relates to mutual assistance, is designed to alleviate the position of States which will suffer severe loss and embarrassment due to the imposition of sanctions. As I indicated yesterday, the Commonwealth Government has accepted this proposal inprinciple.

Canberra Hospital: Heating Arrangements: Treatment of Mental Cases

Dr Maloney:

y asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -

  1. Has any change been made in the heating arrangements of the Canberra Government Hospital?
  2. If not, what are the reasons for turning off the heating apparatus during the night?
Mr Hughes:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

  1. No.
  2. To maintain the hot water service during the whole night would require the employment of an extra shift in attendance on the boiler. The third shift is kept going until the end of October, but is not required during the summer months.
Dr Maloney:

y asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -

Is it a fact that mental cases are treated in the general wards of the Canberra Government Hospital; if so, does the DirectorGeneral of Health approve of it, and can he name any other general hospital where such a practice is tolerated?

Mr Hughes:

– Mental cases are occasionally treated in the ordinary wards. “Wherever practicable mental cases are placed by themselves in the observation wards. If the observation wards are already occupied, it may become necessary to place them in an ordinary ward, but the earliest opportunity is taken to remove such cases to a mental institution. In the absence of special accommodation for mental cases at the Canberra Hospital these are the best arrangements practicable.

Wireless Broadcasting : Statutory Rules

Mr Clark:

k asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -

  1. Does the Government propose to issue new statutory rules in regard to broadcasting?
  2. If so, will he withhold them until country stations have had an opportunity to make representations in regard to the matter?
Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

  1. An amendment of the regulations relating to wireless broadcasting was approved by the Governor-General in Council on the 23rd October, 1935.
  2. Representatives of the Australian Federation of Broadcasting Stations had an interview with the Postmaster -General, in Melbourne, during the current week, and placed their views before the Minister.

Canberra: Brassey House Renovations

Mr Mahoney:

y asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that residents of Brassey House resent the action of the department in having the passages and public rooms repainted but not the bedrooms, many of which are in need of attention, and have not been renovated since 1927?
  2. Will he instruct the department to. take steps to see that the bedrooms are painted as well as other sections of the hostel, in view of the fact that the painters are already completing their work and the hostel will shortly pass to private control?
Mr Paterson:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

  1. No representations in the matter have been made to the department.
  2. It was considered that the bedrooms were not in need of renovation. However, arrangements are being made for an inspection by a competent officer of the department.
Mr Mahoney:

y asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

In view of the parlous condition of osmiridium mining in Tasmania, and in order to put this industry on aproper footing and to relieve unemployment, will he set aside a sum of not less than £25,000 to assist osmiridium mining out of the unexpended vote of£ 158,000 for metalliferous mining; if not, why not?

Mr Casey:

– Assistance for osmiridium mining in Tasmania is a matter for the Tasmanian Government. The Commonwealth has provided a grant of £25,750 for metalliferous mining generally in Tasmania, ‘ and it is understood that a portion of this grant has already been devoted to the assistance of the osmiridium industry. The amountof £158,000 referred to by the honorable member represents the undrawn balances of the grants to the several States for metalliferous mining, and it is not anticipated there will be any savings from which the Commonwealth could make further grants. The undrawn balance of the grant to Tasmania is £10,750.

Marketing of Produce in the United Kingdom.

Mr Jennings:

s asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -

  1. Has hia attention been drawn to the reported statement by Mr. F. W. Kitchen, president of the Associated Chamber of Manufactures, that “ Australia is advertising in London goods which cannot be bought there. That inquiries for the goods failed to produce them, because in many cases the importance of brands was not fully exploited, and in other cases the Australian produce was merged into a blend with foreign produce “ ?
  2. Is it proposed to investigate the statement, and, if found to be correct, will a proper method of marketing be instituted t
Dr Earle Page:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

  1. Yes.
  2. Producers of the following products collaborate with the Government in publicity in the United Kingdom.

Dairy produce. - Australian butter is sold as such in 42,000 shops throughout the United Kingdom. It is true that some Australian butter is blended with other butters, after its purchase by merchants in the United Kingdom.

Dried fruits and canned fruits. The Australian pack is sold as such throughout the United Kingdom. Australian canned fruits recently secured all the prizes in the Empire Canned Fruits Section of the Imperial Fruit Show.

Apples and Pears. - These are sold in the wholesale market as Australian.

Eggs. - Australian eggs are branded as Australian and are sold as such.

Unemployment Relief Funds: Allocation

Mr Curtin:

n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. What amount was allocated to each State in respect to mining development, forestry, and other works for the relief of unemployment?
  2. What amount has been paid to each State for the purposes mentioned in paragraph 1?
  3. What amount is still available?
  4. Have the States indicated the reasons why they have not availed themselves of the full amount provided?
Mr Casey:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1, 2 and 3 -

  1. At a conference recently held in Melbourne on metalliferous mining, the State representatives advised that they were spending the Commonwealth grant for this purpose as rapidly as possible, bearing in mind the necessity . to follow a programme designed to secure the best results. In the case of other grants, information received from the States indicates that the programme of works is well in hand, and it is anticipated that almost the whole of the balance of money available will be expended between now and the end of this financial year. The amounts advanced to the States to the 30th September as shown above do not necessarily represent the actual expenditure by the States. For instance, it is understood that New South Wales has spent about £130,000 to date, of which only £25,000 has actually been claimed from the Commonwealth.

Canberra: Molonglo Tenements.

Mr Paterson:

n. - On the 23rd October, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) asked certain questions regarding the Molonglo Settlement. I now desire to make the following reply : -

The Molonglo Settlement was originally established as a concentration camp during the war period, and the existing buildings were subsequently remodelled to provide temporary accommodation for workmen. It was never intended that they should remain as permanent homes for residents.

There are at present 80 tenancies (50 1-raoms and 38 5-rooms) and the rentals charged are 5s. Od. and 9s. per week respectively, including sewerage and water rates. Electricity is connected and individual tenants ure expected to pay fur current consumed. Education facilities are also provided. All services are maintained at tho expense of tha Government and considerable expenditure has been incurred in other necessary items of maintenance, including repairs to doors, windows, roofs, &c. The approximate cost to the Commonwealth of the dwellings occupied at Molonglo waa about £40,000. About SO per vent, of the tenants at Molonglo are in arrears df rent, varying in amounts up to about £155, the total arrears approximating £2,800. The total rental payable in respect of the dwellings is about £1.628 per annum, but no separate record is kept of tha total rentals collected from tenants at Molonglo as distinct from those in other localities. In 1931, when an opportunity arose for the demolition of some <ii the buildings, demolition was commenced, but the then Minister for Home Affairs directed that the work he not proceeded with in order to allow of temporary shelter being made available for non-permanent residents in necessitous circumstances. Adverse comment has been made in the press concerning “slum conditions “ but these references have been, in fact still are, resented by a number of the residents. A letter in this regard, signed by reputable tenants, appeared in the Canberra Times on the 23rd March, 1935.

From time to time applications have been received from tenants at Molonglo, who were desirous of transferring to the Causeway and elsewhere, but a number of these have subsequently intimated that they do not desire to move. This is no doubt actuated by reason of the fact that their present rents are reasonable, and they have made themselves comfortable in ther homes, duc mainly to tho assistance afforded by the department by way of maintenance. Early in 1935, several tenants at Molonglo, who had been offered superior accommodation at the Causeway refused to leave their Molonglo homes. With regard to the erection of houses to meet the situation the present building programme provides for some of these to bc built at Ainslie, and some at Kingston - the latter for occupation by tenants the nature of whose employment warrants their allocation of houses in that locality. lt is proposed to give some of the Molonglo tenants who are regularly employed, and whose rental position is satisfactory, the opportunity of transferring to the new houses, whilst those who are in arrears will be housed elsewhere as opportunity offers. Tlie Government intends demolishing the buildings at Molonglo n,« they become vacant, and it is hoped that the demolition will have been completed within about eighteen months.

Sales Tax: TAILORING Trade.


– Yesterday tho honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) asked me a question, upon notice, in regard to representations from master tailors’ associations on the subject of sales tax, and in connexion therewith I laid upon the table of the House copies of certain communications which I had received concerning the matter. A telegram dated the 1st October, 1935, was also received from the. Western Australian Coastal Districts Master Tailors Union of Employers, in the following terms: -

In support of my letter of May 13th with reference to incidence of sales tax I have the honour to advise that by resolution the Westtern Australian Coastal Districts Master Tailors’ Union of Employers strongly supports the efforts of Eastern States master tailors unions to bring about the deregistration of tailors. (Signed) R. B. Henkel, secretary.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 31 October 1935, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.