14th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Occupationby German Troops - Meeting of Locarno Signatories
– In connexion with the occupation by the German troops of the Rhineland demilitarized zone, will the Prime Minister state whether any intimation has been given to the High Commissioner for Australia of the views which are hold upon the matter by the Commonwealth Government - views which it is to he presumed, the High Commissioner will put forward as indicative of the attitude of Australia at the consultation that is to bo held in London during this week-end?
– No instructions have been given to Mr. Bruce in connexion with this matter. The Government is keeping in very close touch with the British Government, and, as in the case of the Italo-Abyssinian dispute, we shall keep the House regularly informed of any developments.
– Article 3 of the Locarno Pact provides for the settlement by peaceful means of disputes between Belgium and Germany, and France and Germany, and that where no settlement is reached the matters at issue are to be submitted to a conciliation commission or to judicial decision. If the proposals of this commission or the judicial decision are not accepted by the parties the questions are to be brought before the Council of the League of Nations. A meeting of the League Council to consider Germany’s action in sending troops to the demilitarized zone of the Rhineland is to take place on Saturday next. Is the League in this instance acting on behalf of the whole of the members of the League, and will its decisions bind all members, or is it meeting as a judicial body simply to make recommendations to the signatories of the Locarno Pact?
– In accordance with the statement which I read last night in this chamber, the Locarno signatories are meeting to-day in London. The League Council meets to-morrow in London to consider the outcome of the meeting of the Locarno signatories, in the first place because the League Council has been called together by one or more of the Locarno signatories under the terms of the Locarno Treaty. I think that the recommendations would be made to the League as a whole, but I shall have the point investigated and advise the honorable member further. In the meantime, the League Council will meet to-morrow and sit presumably for some days and will then decide, I take it, on one or other of the three alternatives suggested by me last night.
The following papers were presented : -
Ellsworth AntarcticRelief Expedition - Report by Captain L. C. Hill, Commanding Officer of the Royal Research Ship DiscoveryII.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act-
Ordinances of 1936 -
No. 1 - Brands.
No. 2 - Coroners.
No. 3 - Buildings.
Slaughtering Ordinance - Regulations Amended.
International Labour Organization of the League of Nations - Nineteenth Session, held at Geneva, June, 1935 - Draft Conventions and Recommendation.
– As the return of colonies appears to be an important national issue at the moment, can the Prime Minister state whether the matter has been considered by the Government, and, if so, what is the Government’s attitude towards it?
– The matter has received the consideration of the Government. We have been advised, and are wholeheartedly in support of the statement made in the House of Commons on, I think, the 12th February last, that the British Government had not considered, and was not considering, the handing over of any of the British colonies or territories held under mandate.
Reports bysir Frederick Stew art, M.P.
– I lay on the table-
Employment - Report of Investigations abroad by Sir Frederick Stewart, M.P., Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Employment.
Social Insurance - Health, Insurance, Pensions, Unemployment Insurance - Report of investigations abroad by Sir Frederick Stewart, M.P. and move-
That the papers be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Curtin) adjourned.
– by leave - I desire formally to announce to the House the reappointment of the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes, K.C., M.P., as Minister for Health and Minister for Repatriation.
The Hon. H. V. C. Thorby, M.P., has been appointed to act as Minister for
Commerce during the absence from Australia of the Right Honorable E. C. G. Page, M.P.
Senator the Honorable T. C. Brennan, K.C., has been appointed to act as AttorneyGeneral and Minister for Industry during the absence from Australia of the Honorable R. G. Menzies, K.C., M.P. The Acting Attorney-General and Minister for Industry will be represented in the House of Representatives by the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes, K.C., M.P.
During the absence of Mr. Menzies, who represents the Minister for External Affairs in this chamber, questions relating to external affairs should be addressed to the Honorable R. G. Casey, M.P.
I desire, also, to intimate that the Honorable Sir Frederick Stewart, M.P., has resigned from the position of Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Employment. In communicating his resignation to me. Sir Frederick intimated that he desired the freedom of private membership in the House of Representatives. In accepting his resignation, I informed Sir Frederick that I greatly appreciated his valuable assistance during his tenure of office, and that his loyal co-operation and devotion to his work had been features of his association with the Government. The Honorable H. V. C. Thorby will in future deal with matters having reference to employment generally.
– In view of the fact that the views held last year by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) were irreconcilable with those held by the Government and necessitated the retirement of the right honorable gentleman from the Ministry, and of his re-appointment to the Ministry, will the Prime Minister indicate whether the outlook of the Government on the question of sanctions has altered, or there has been a. change in the mind of the right honorable member for North Sydney?
– I know how concerned the honorable member is in regard to this matter. I give him the definite assurance that no difference of opinion whatever exists between the right honorable member for North Sydney and the Government.
Restrictions upon FOREIGN Shipping.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs make available to the House the information which led to the introduction in the Legislative Council of New Guinea of legislation imposing restrictions upon foreign shipping?
– I shall be glad to refer the matter to the Minister for External Affairs.
– Has the Minister for the Interior received any departmental report, or has his attention been drawn to press statements of a grave character, in connexion with the Hume Weir? Has action been taken, or is it proposed, to ascertain the truth or otherwise of the report?
– If the report to which the honorable member refers was published some little time back-
– In February of this year.
– Then the honorable member’s fears are entirely groundless. The matter was investigated by the River Murray Waters Commission, and I assure him that there is no occasion for alarm.
– Will the Minister for Defence state whether the House may interpret his presence on the subcommittee, appointed by the Government to study the possibility of developing the Newnes shale oil field, as an indication that the Government has now accepted as an essential feature of its defence policy the immediate necessity for providing from Australian sources a supply of fuel oil for the defence forces of this country ?
– It has always been the policy of the Defence Department to endeavour to obtain for its activities supplies of Australian oil. At the present time various projects that are actively engaging the attention of the public and of experts are under consideration.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that apart from the many thousands of coal-miners being re-absorbed in the coal-mining industry of Great Britain, in consequence of the erection of plants in various districts for the extraction of oil from coal, a report appeared in yesterday’s Sydney Sun from Mr. A. E. Heath, the official representative of the Government of New South Wales in London, who recently visited the Leipzig Pair, that 10,000 miners are engaged on the brown coal deposits near Leipzig on large-scale operations for the production of petrol from brown coal? Does not the right honorable member think that with the dual object of relieving unemployment in the coal-mining industry in Australia, and meeting the national defence needs of Australia, the Government should immediately take steps to erect plants at suitable localities in Australia for the extraction of petrol from our coal?
– My attention has not been drawn to the newspaper report referred to by the honorable member, but I shall have it investigated. I wish the honorable member to realize, as I have pointed out in the past, that the Government feels itself obliged to wait for some time to ascertain the result of the work that is being carried on at BillinghamonTees in connexion with the hydrogenation of coal. I feel sure that the Parliament is satisfied that this is the only safe course for us to pursue. We are at present making investigations to ascertain the best type of plant available to deal with coal for the purpose of extracting oil, and we are also taking all possible steps to discover flow oil in Australia.
– Are any recent reports on that subject available?
– No; but we have engaged the services of one of the greatest oil experts in the world, Dr. Wade, and I hope that he will shortly have an opportunity to address honorable members on this subject. In addition, it was made clear the other day by the Minister for Defence that the possibility of extracting oil from our shale deposits is also receiving our close attention. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) has from time to time brought under my notice the operations being conducted at
Newcastle by the Lyon Brothers in connexion with the low carbonization process, and he is aware that differences of opinion have arisen between the expert advising the Government on this subject, Mr. Rogers, and the Lyon Brothers. The honorable member recently brought additional information on this subject under notice. I assure him that the whole matter is being very closely examined. In order that everything possible may be done, the Minister dealing with this subject, Senator McLachlan, has arranged to allow Mr. Rogers to visit the plant of Lyon Brothers. We have also arranged for him to take part in certain experiments by the Australian Gaslight Company on somewhat similar lines to those of the Lyon Brothers in connexion with by-products from tar. This is all being clone because we realize the importance of this industry to Australia.
– Is the Prime Minister in a position to refute a rumour that is current that the Commonwealth Government proposes to suspend its endeavours to find a means of developing the Newnes Shale Oil field pending the result of its inquiries into the possibility of discovering flow oil in Australia ?
– I thought I had made it quite clear in my reply to the honorable member for Hunter that the Government is examining both aspects of this subject.
– Will the Minister for Defence have investigations made to ascertain whether German consuls in Australia are seeking recruits?
– In deference to the honorable member I shall certainly give the matter consideration.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) - by leave - agreed to -
That unless otherwise ordered this House shall meet on each Tuesday at 3 p.m., on each Wednesday and Thursday at 2.30 p.m., and on each Friday at 10.30 a.m.
– Will the Minis ter for Trade and Customs state what steps the Government proposes to take to alleviate the very difficult position of importers of British motor cars on account of their inability to have bodies built at Australian body works? Will the Government consider the advisability of permitting the importation of British cars complete with bodies until such time as the Australian body works can accept orders and fulfil them when accepted?
– -It is a fact that some delay has occurred in the delivery of motor car bodies, but it is not confined to bodies for British chassis. The cause of it is excess purchases of cars due to the general prosperity which prevails in Australia, and it is unavoidable. The matter of fixing some quota under by-law has been considered, but under the tariff it is not possible to admit bodies as items which assist either primary or secondary industry. Steps are being taken to ascertain whether some alleviation may be afforded; butthe problem is largely one for the importers themselves to solve. British motor car importers could, if they chose, ensure the manufacture of bodies.
– They could manufacture them in Australia?
– Yes. A question has been placed on the notice-paper of the Senate asking for fuller details than have been sought by the honorable member, and investigations are in train with a view to an answer being furnished. The honorable member will therefore obtain the information he seeks at a later date.
– I lay upon the table the following paper: -
International Labour Organisation of the League of Nations - Nineteenth Conference held at Geneva,. June, 1935 - Reports of (the Australian Delegates.
I invite the attention of honorable members to a statement made on this subject by the Minister for External Affairs (Senator Pearce) in another place.
– Is the paper to be printed?
– I move-
That the paper be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
16th Assembly - Report of Australian Delegation.
– I lay upon the table the following paper: -
League of Nations - Sixteenth Assembly, September-October, 1935 - Report of the Australian Delegation.
I move -
That the paper be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resumption op Mataranka Station fob Reserve.
– In view of the report in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 10th March that Mataranka Station in the North of the Northern Territory is to be taken over by the Commonwealth Government as a reserve for aborigines, I ask the Minister for the Interior to explain the position to us and to give an assurance that the outgoing lessee, Mr. Lowe, will receive adequate compensation and be allowed until at least the end of May to muster and remove his cattle into South Australia, a distance of 900 miles.
– It has been decided to give the present lessee of Mataranka Station an extension of time until some time in May for the removal of his stock. As to the other matter referred to by the honorable member, I was informed by telegram this morning that a letter is in transit to me from the Administrator at Darwin in regard to Mataranka Station. Until this is received and its contents are considered I shall be unable to make a statement on the subject.
Trade Commissioners - Work of Minister for Commerce - Trade Treaties: Negotiations with Belgium and India.
– I ask the Acting Minister for Commerce whether the Government is yet in a position to form an opinion as to the value of the work being done by the trade commissioners who were recently appointed, and whether it is the intention of the Government to appoint trade commissioners to certain
European countries and also to India where there seem to be prospects of increasing our trade?
– The Government has, so far, received only preliminary reports from the recently-appointed trade commissioners and it is too early to form an opinion of the value of the work they are doing. The Government does not contemplate appointing trade commissioners elsewhere in the immediate future, but the trade position with various foreign countries is receiving very careful consideration from the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties.
– In view of the number of Ministers of this Government who have already travelled overseas with the object of negotiating trade treaties, and the glowing reports that have been received from them of their work, I ask the Prime Minister to state the exact mission of the Minister for Commerce in London.
– I think the honorable member is aware that the original intention of the Minister for Commerce was to attend the International Sugar Conference. I hear an honorable member say that that conference has fallen through, but that is not the case. The position at the moment is indefinite. It is the intention of the Minister for Commerce to confer with the representatives of various sugar-producing countries and also with representatives of the British Government in regard to sugar production. Quite apart from that, however, many other matters affecting the primary producers of this country, particularly those associated with the meat, fruit and butter industries, will receive attention, and I am quite sure the Minister for Commerce will be able to do valuable service for the people of Australia and that his visit overseas will prove to be fully justified. The matters with which he will deal are of the utmost importance to our primary producers. It has been made clear in various speeches that have been delivered recently by honorable members on the economic circumstances of the Commonwealth that the welfare of our people is largely dependent on the provision of profitable markets overseas for our primary produce, and no matter with which we could deal deserves closer or more constant attention.
– Will the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties inform me whether the negotiations with the Belgian Government for a trade treaty with Australia are being actively pursued? Is it likely that a definite statement on the subject will be made in the. near future?
– The negotiations with the Belgian Government are at present in suspense owing to the fact that that Government undertook, when 1 was last in Brussels, to forward to the Belgian Consul-General in Australia a fresh list of instructions for the resumption of the negotiations. The Consul-General has not yet received these instructions although he has on more than one occasion, I understand, reminded the Belgian Government that the negotiations must remain in suspense until he receives further instructions.
– In view of the lengthy tour abroad of the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties, and of the numerous trade negotiations initiated by him with European countries, will he make a full statement to the House of the result of his mission so that honorable members may have the advantage of his information before the discussion on the tariff is commenced?
– Of all my time abroad, I think only about six weeks we’re spent on the continent, the balance being occupied with meat negotiations with the British Government, which I venture to suggest will not be without profit to Australia. Since the Ottawa year, the annual export of Australian mutton and lamb to the United Kingdom has increased in value by £2,250,000 and that of beef by £890,000. In regard to foreign trade treaties, I can say that a number of these negotiations are still proceeding, and therefore, I am not in a position to make a statement at this moment.
– Can the Minister in charge of trade treaties state whether negotiations have yet been concluded for a trade treaty between India and Australia which would facilitate trade between that country and Western Australia ?
– Negotiations have not yet been initiated with India. The matter was discussed at the Ottawa Conference, but the results were not encouraging. The whole subject will come up again foi* consideration as the result of the recent visit of the trade mission to India.
– Will the Minister for the Interior inform me whether any request has been received from the Government of New South Wales for financial assistance in connexion with the construction of a railway line in New South Wales from Maryvale to Sandy Hollow? If any such request has been received, or if it is subsequently received, will the Government make the granting of assistance by the Commonwealth conditional upon the Government of New South Wales improving the railway services between Sydney and Canberra and Canberra and Albury?
– So far as I am aware, no such request has been received from the Government of New South Wales, but if it is made the suggestion of the honorable member will receive full consideration.
– I ask the ActingMinister for Commerce whether he will make an inquiry into a statement attributed to Mr. A. E. Heath, the representative of the Government of New South Wales, who was present at the Leipzig Fair, to the effect that the use of woolstra in Germany is reaching such alarming dimensions that in one instance a manufacturer is using only 40 per cent, of real wool in the production of his goods? An investigation should be made into this subject because of the great importance to Australia of the wool industry.
– I shall certainly make an inquiry into the matter mentioned by the honorable member for West Sydney. While I was in Berlin attending the International Wool Conference, and also while I was visiting the Wool Research Station at Torridon, I made full inquiry into this subject and formed the opinion, as did quite a number of scientific investigators into the manufacture of vistra, which is used in the manufacture of woolstra in Germany at present, that Australia had nothing whatever to fear from the manufacture of artificial fibres in Germany. These products were not going on to the world’s market and were being used in Germany under economic pressure. I do not think that the development of the artificial fibre industry in Germany is likely to affect the Australian wool industry unless the price of Australian wool soars to an abnormal height.
– In view .of the discovery made by the Acting Minister for Commerce that the rapid increase in the use of wool substitutes is due to economic pressure, will the Minister in charge of trade treaties, before scientific research has still further improved the quality of substitutes, endeavour to negotiate trade agreements which will enable the people of those countries subject to economic pressure to trade more freely in Australian wool?
– Everything possible is being done by the Government in the direction indicated by the honorable member. I” should like to say that I do not share the general view of the danger of German wool substitutes. The present state of the wool market is the best comment that can. be made on the situation.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he will supply me, as early as possible, with the names of Ministers and Government supporters who, since the advent of his Government to office, have made visits oversea? at the public expense? If that task is too great for him to undertake, will he furnish me with a list of the names of Ministers and Government supporters who have not made such visits?
Question not answered.
Rentals - -Platts Estate, Newcastle
– Have instructions been issued to the officers of the War Service Homes Commission that in future vacant houses are to be let to tenants at higher rentals than have prevailed during the last two years? If this is so, will the Minister take into consideration the fact that for a number of years home building has ceased ? Will he give an undertaking that the rents of vacant war service homes will not be increased?
– The War Service Homes Commissioner, (through the Deputy Commissioners in every State, is letting vacant war service homes at current market rental values. I do not deem it my responsibility to instruct him to let vacant houses at a rental lower than that obtained for similar cottages in the various States.
– I ask the Minister in charge of War Service Homes if, following upon his visit to Newcastle, he instructed the officers of the War Service Homes Commission that the huts erected on what is known as the Platts Estate, near Newcastle, are to be vacated?
– About a fortnight ago, in company with the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner, Ivisited the Platts Estate at Mayfield near Newcastle, where about 70 unemployed families have erectedvarious types of huts on land owned by the War Service Homes Commission. No orders have been issued to vacate that land so long as the persons in occupation are unemployed, but they have been served with notices indicating that they are definitely trespassing at the present time, and that they have no right to remain there. It is expected that, as they obtain employment, they will make reasonable arrangement for the accommodation of their wives and families elsewhere if they are married, and, if they are single, that they will make the necessary arrangements to leave the area.
– In view of the possibility of an early start being made with the construction of the new broadcasting studio at Hobart, will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, ask his colleague to authorize the installation of a new plant in place of the old and obsolete plant which came from a Melbourne studio, and is now operating at 7ZL Hobart?
-I shall bring under the notice of the Post master-General the question which the honorable member has submitted, and obtain from the Minister some information on the subject.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that at the time the HoareLaval peace proposals, which sought to terminate the Italo-Abyssinian dispute by the invocation of the conciliation functions of the League, were made and were attacked by people in England who favoured the utilization of the punitive functions of the League for the settlement of the dispute, a part of the propaganda employed against them was the suggestion in the press that the dominions were totally shocked by them? In view of the prospects of the conciliation functions of the League being brought into operation again, will the right honorable gentleman keep an eye on the statements made purporting to represent the sentiments of the dominions and see that the attitude of Australia is not misrepresented?
– I shall certainly endeavour to carry out what the honorable member has as his objective.
Title of Executive Officials
– For the greater convenience of honorable members, and the public generally, will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General consider the advisability of devising a briefer title or designation for the chief officers of the postal department in the various States now designated Deputy Directors of Post and Telegraphs?
– I shall be glad to convey to the PostmasterGeneral the suggestion of the honorable member. I am sure that on a great national question of this kind the PostmasterGeneral would be glad to receive any suggestion from the honorable member.
– This morning a bundle of statutory rules, dating back to November, 1931, when my friend the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) was Prime Minister, and covering various statutory rules issued up to January, 1936, were placed on my table. I shall be glad to know who is responsible for having these papers placed in my locker ?
Question not answered.
Embargo on Fresh FRUITS and Vegetables.
– What stage has been reached in the negotiations with the Government of New Zealand in connexion with the embargo it has imposed on the importation of Australian fresh fruits and vegetables? Before Christmas we were promised that a Minister would visit New Zealand. Has the visit taken place? If so, I should like to be advised of the present position as to the negotiations.
– This matter received almost continuous attention by the Commonwealth Government until about six months ago. On two occasions we undertook to send a delegation to New Zealand, but the visit was deferred at the request of the dominion government. If honorable members, some of whom are insistent in their clamour for a lifting of the embargo, would urge that the Australian embargo on the importation of potatoes from New Zealand be removed, negotiations with the Government of New Zealand in respect of fresh fruits and vegetables, would be much facilitated.
– Will the Minister for Health state whether there is any justification for the statement by Dr. Marshall that the Federal Government’s action in celebration of King George’s Jubilee Was more in the nature of a spectacular gesture than of any real value to the cause of maternal welfare?
– The honorable member will, I am sure, appreciate the fact that I have been absent from the Department of Health for some time, and I do not know what they have been doing there. However, I shall find out.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General ask that favorable consideration be given during the preparation of the departmental estimates to the request that schools be exempt from the payment of wireless licence-fees on wireless sets used for educational purposes?
– I shall be pleased to bring the matter under the notice of the Postmaster-General.
– Has finality yet been reached in the negotiations between the British Government and the dominions of Australia and New Zealand in regard to the proposal to assist British shipping in the Pacific Ocean, which has been and is being adversely affected by the competition of the Matson Line?
– It is well known that certain proposals were made by the shipping companies to the governments concerned, and it is agreed that the problem can be solved only by co-operation between the governments of -Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. The matter will be taken up by the two Australian Ministers when they arrive in London, and will be discussed with the representatives of the governments of the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
– Extra employees are now being engaged at the Defence Department’s munition works at Maribyrnong, but returned soldier applicants for employment are handicapped because, owing to their war experiences, they are unable in many cases to pass the medical examination as 100 per cent, fit, though they are able to do ordinary manual work. Will the Minister for Defence take steps to ensure that returned soldier applicants are treated more sympathetically?
– I shall be glad to give consideration to the honorable member’s request, and if it is possible to accede to it, I am sure that the department will do so.
– In view of the fact that, during the last two election campaigns, the Prime Minister assured the people that he favoured the payment of award wages to all workers, will he make representation to the Government of New South Wales to pay award rates of wages to men employed on the Maitland sewerage works? These men are at present being employed under the workforsustenance system, although the work is being carried out by means of a Commonwealth grant.
– I shall examine the matter, but at first glance it seems to me that it is one for the .State Government of New South Wales. The honorable member has many colleagues in the State Parliament in New South Wales who must be in a position to raise this matter there, and have it dealt with.
Motion (by Mr. Thorby) agreed to -
That be have leave to bring in a bill for an act to provide for the payment of a bounty on the export of apples and pears from the Commonwealth.
Motion (by Mr. Thorby) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to provide for the payment of a bounty on the export of oranges from the Commonwealth.
Debate resumed from the 12th March (vide page 116), on motion by Mr. Thorby -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The Opposition has no objection to the passage of this amending bill. I pointout, however, that the need for it has arisen because of the chaos which prevailed at the end of last session when the original bill was being put through Parliament. The bill as originally presented provided for the payment of 15s. a ton to the users of fertilizers for the production of crops other than wheat, and it was stipulated that all applications for subsidy should be lodged by the 31st October last. It must have been within the knowledge of the Government, and certainly within the knowledge of rural representatives who are conspicuous supporters of the Government, that this stipulation would shut out a considerable number of legitimate claims. My information is that some well-informed users of fertilizers were able to get their applications in at the proper time, not because they had exact knowledge of what their claims should be, but because they were politically wise enough to make an estimate of the area they would cut for hay, thus enabling them to comply technically with the provisions of the act. However, the more bona fide farmers, particularly in Western Australia, who, owing to the lateness of the season, did not know how much they would cut for hay, waited until after the 31st October and had their applications for subsidy ruled out by the officers of the department. I brought this matter before the Minister of Commerce some time ago, and it has apparently been discovered that the only way to overcome the difficulty is to bring in this amending bill.
As this bill corrects an injustice which the original measure inflicted on a considerable section of the users of fertilizers, I am agreeable to its passage. At the same time, however, I ask the Parliament to consider how its work is being rendered extremely difficult by the bewildering succession of amendments of bills which it has already passed - amendments made more or less obligatory by the inability of the Government to give adequate consideration to questions involved in legislation before it is brought down. I agreed to the Acting Minister for Commerce (Mr. Thorby) taking a certain course of action this morning on a matter of urgency and yet, so urgent is this matter from the viewpoint of Parliament, the bill has not yet been printed. That is an astounding commentary on the conduct of the Government’s affairs. It is a measure which will deal with a subject which is not a new one - indeed, it is a3 old as can be - yet this Government, claiming to represent the best interests of the primary producers, meets this Parliament with ill-conceived bills which are rushed through and which then have to be amended at the very next meeting of Parliament. I object to this course of action when Cabinet Ministers are not able to give full consideration to these problems and legislation is not introduced in its proper form.
The measure with which the House is now dealing would not have been necessary but for the hasty and ill-considered way in which the bill which it now amends was pushed through this Parliament. I invite the country to consider how far the statute-book has been littered with amending acts on amending acts, dealing with matters extremely perplexing to the layman. The series of changes made in the law would baffle not only the ordinary citizen, but also the most astute legal man. As Parliament has already agreed that a subsidy of 15s. a ton shall be paid to users of fertilizers in order to stimulate production I hope the money which, I understand, has already been raised, will be made available to all those who have claims to it. According to the speech of the Acting Minister for Commerce, if this bill had not been introduced legitimate claimants for the subsidy would have been deprived of money amounting to £5,000. That, certainly, would not only have been an injustice, but it would also have caused anomalous conditions in respect of farmers in the different States. By what process of technicality did the Minister expect claims to be put in the form of estimates ?
– I do not know of any case in which that has occurred.
– Prominent members of the Primary Producers Union in Western Australia have confessed that they submitted their claims in the form of estimates, because they cut their hay at the same time as other farmers who did not submit their claims until afterwards and were therefore belated. The very fact that the last act was unjust because of the late date at which it was passed is attested by the Acting Minister’s introduction of this bill, which is designed to correct that injustice. I have no more to say other than to offer an admonition, if the Acting Minister does not mind, because the condition of the primary producers is of an acute character, that if the Opposition in this chamber takes up a position which is critical and condemnatory towards Government policy, it does not do so because it is less concerned with the welfare of the primary producer than those who sit opposite, but because it is convinced that the Government, representing, as it does, two diverse and, we submit, antagonistic interests in this chamber, brings down bills which, owing to the political circumstances associated with their origin, are incapable of being properly drafted. Therefore, in justice to the country and in the best interests of the primary producer, we maintain that all legislation should be carefully scrutinized. Just before Christmas, we had the spectacle of the bill which this legislation is intended to amend being thrust through this House without due consideration. Doubtless, the errors in that measure would have been discovered had sufficient time been allotted for its consideration.
– The honorable member did not draw attention to the faults at that time.
– -We did not draw attention to it. I am prepared to admit that. I am also prepared to exonerate the representatives of the primary producers in this chamber who also failed to direct attention to them.
– Leave them alone. They can take care of themselves.
– I exonerate them because I am perfectly convinced that the manner in which bills were produced at the last stage of the session precluded proper examination of them. I remind honorable members that to-day the Acting Minister for Commerce will invite this House to pass a bill which we have not yet seen. The Acting Minister has taunted me with having failed to direct attention to faults in the previous bill at the time of its introduction. I threaten him now that I will not agree to pass bills on the day on which they are introduced. That puts an end to these other things to-day.
– That puts an end to the undertaking the honorable member gave to me to-day.
– Yes, because I have been blamed for not having directed attention to weaknesses in bills, although the Minister threw them down on the table and asked for their passage almost simultaneously.
– The honorable member has had from me a detailed statement on this and every other bill I have submitted.
– I know; yet the Wheat Bill and other related bills make important changes in existing legislation. For instance the existing law covering wheat assistance is to be changed and we are to be given only one day in which to consider the way in which the wheat bounty is to be administered. This is unjust, but if Parliament blunders the fault will lie with the Government and not with the Parliament. Certainly, if Parliament blundered in connexion with the fertilizers bounty it is not right for the Acting Minister to blame it for its failure to draw attention to the weaknesses of a Government measure. I shall not resist the passage of this bill because it corrects injustices and anomalies.
.- The righteous indignation of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) is rather amusing, but I resent the insinuation that political influences have been brought to bear to gain advantages. I should resent any such action as that. As soon as my notice had been brought to the anomalous conditions which this bill seeks to correct, I communicated with the Department of Commerce, pointed out the extraordinary circumstances of the harvest last year and asked the Government to extend the period. Steps were taken to do so at the first opportunity. This bill is due not to a blunder but to the extraordinary circumstances of the last harvest, when it was found, at the last minute, that crops kept for wheat would be far better cut for hay. This was done at about the end of October, but the lapse of time precluded the people concerned from putting in their claims within the required period. Those who were planting their crop partly for wheat and partly for hay, in ordinary circumstances, could put in their claims. I cannot believe that farmers would make a guess at the area that they intended to cut for hay and then put in applications. The farmers would not do it because it would be fraudulent. I do not believe that the Primary Producers Union of Western Australia would lend itself to such dealings.
– I want the honorable member to understand that I do not say that there was anything fraudulent about it. It was the only way in which the farmers could comply with the act.
– If the farmers did what the honorable member says they did, and I do not believe that they did, they would be doing something fraudulent.
– I do not think so.
– The closing date for applications was before the hay was cut.
– I am dealing with conditions in Western Australia. In that State they arose simply through the fact that the farmers had to cut for hay much of their areas which otherwise they would have left for wheat. Their applications therefore were too late. had some half-dozen letters sent to me telling me that applications were too late. I referred them to the Government asking for assistance and under this bill it is being given.
.- I want to know how much longer an abnormal amount of the time of Parliament is to be taken up in dealing with such measures as that which is now before honorable members. The greed and avarice of certain primary producers and their representatives in this Parliament
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).Order ! The honorable member must not attribute greed and avarice to any honorable member of this Parliament.
– Very well, the greed and avarice of some of the primary producers never seem to be satisfied. If there were a measure before this Parliament to make retrospective payments to invalid and. old-age pensioners and war pensioners there would be a good deal of opposition from supporters of the Government. As a matter of fact, this measure appears in an unusual form. Although the Acting Minister for Commerce (Mr. Thorby) has made a statement that the additional amount of money necessary will not be in excess of £5,000, no guarantee has been given that that amount will not be exceeded. Why should this Parliament be asked to give an open cheque to the Government to hand out to a particular section of the community, an unlimited amount of money from public revenues? The original measure contained a provision that a certain sum should not be exceeded and if it were possible to make that provision in the first bill, then it should be just as possible to do so in this hill. It appears to me that honorable members are stampeded into a position in which they believe that unless they give everything to the primary producers which their representatives ask for they are doing something to cripple or injure primary production. As a matter of fact, the representatives of those industries in this Parliament have for years talked about the weight of the burdens they had to carry, but no mention has been made by them of the conditions of the men who actually produce the wheat and the hay, reap the harvest, and lump the crop. The patience of honorable members who represent other electorates is being sorely tried by the continuance of this practice of giving additional assistance periodically to a particular section of the community, many of whom are, comparatively speaking, wealthy men. The act specifically shuts out claims for the subsidy on account of fertilizers used in connexion with actual wheat crops; but, as certain honorable members have pointed out, some wheatfarmers have found it more profitable to cut for hay, and thus become eligible for the subsidy.
– They have done that, not because it was more profitable, but
On account of the failure of the wheat crop.
– Speaking from memory, inquiries into the wheat industry have disclosed that at least 30 per cent, of the wheat-farmers were able to make a profit when wheat was at ls. lid. a bushel.
– Oh, no !
– If honorable members peruse the reports submitted by different bodies from time to time, they will find that what I have said is correct. Only last night the Minister said that to-day wheat is selling at 3s. 7d. a bushel. Therefore, even if the wheat-growers were to lose on a section of their operations, they are able, because of the improvement of prices in other directions, to show a considerable profit. If a man’s operations as a primary producer cover the production of a number of commodities, he is not entitled, in my opinion, to claim assistance by way of subsidy on the fertilizers required to stimulate production on any section of his operations that may have shown a loss if /the profits from his other operations exceed his losses. I am not satisfied that many primary producers who have been receiving benefits from this Government are in need of it; but I am satisfied that a large number of those who have received a “ hand-out “ by way of subsidy are relatively in a much better position than many members of the community who will be called upon to provide by way of taxation the funds necessary to pay this subsidy. Despite what has been said by government supporters, there are in the cities of Australia many thousands of unemployed who cannot obtain sufficient food and clothing. If they happen to secure a- mere modicum of relief work, such as the two weeks in seven provided by some governments, they are taxed on f.he paltry amount that they receive. For what purpose? To build up the revenues out of which the primary producers receive this subsidy in connexion with fertilizers used in stimulating the production of their crops. I say quite frankly that in my opinion the primary producers, through their representatives in this Parliament, have been able to exercise an undue influence upon the Government and thus obtain relief which in many cases .was not warranted. That i3 my considered opinion. I hope the time is not far distant when we shall have in this Parliament a government which is not dominated by that particular section of the community. Many primary producers may be in needy circumstances. There may be many among them who believe in giving reasonable conditions to their employees, but I am perfectly satisfied that they are in the minority, the majority being anxious to obtain the best prices for their commodities, take all the assistance they can force from the Government, and, through their representatives in this Parliament, oppose the granting of relief to other sections who are in greater need of assistance. They are always talking about their poverty-stricken condition; yet, whenever one visits a country show or race meeting, one cannot get near the entrance gates because of their motor cars. So I ask the Parliament to consider very seriously the wisdom of continuing these inroads into the Common.monwealth revenues. In this particular instance the amount involved may not be great, although we have no assurance on that point.
I endorse the statement of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) that, due to the rush tactics adopted by the Government towards the end of sittings, so that Parliament may be in recess for many months, while ministerial members tour overseas at the public expense, many measures have been passed in an illconsidered form. Honorable members should ignore the plea of the Government that it wishes to give the Senate something to do. We have been anxious for a long time to do some work, but have been denied the opportunity. If the Government believed that these measures were urgent, why was not Parliament called together at an earlier date? I hope that the members of my party will not be carried away by the plea of urgency, and the belief that in certain country districts it might be said that they had hindered the passage of measures designed to give relief to primary producers, but that they will carefully examine each measure. Honorable members should look at the matter from a national viewpoint, and consider the claims of every citizen, particularly the low-paid section, whether it be in the cities or the country districts. The wealthy interests are well able to look after themselves. Members of the Labour party should look after the man who works for wages, who has nothing to sell but his labour power. They should not aim to represent the wealthy interests, which are able to buy sufficient influence in this Parliament to protect themselves, but should demand a better standard of living for those who slave for the cockey, those whom the cockey denies decent accommodation and even the bare necessaries of life. Unless there is some guarantee in that direction, unless these individuals who are always anxious to dip into Commonwealth revenues are prepared to give decent conditions there is no justification for the Labour party lending its support to the handing out of subsidies.
.- The legislation we are now considering proposes to extend the period during which applications may be made for a subsidy of 15s. a ton on fertilizers used by primary producers within a specified period. This matter has been considered by the Parliament over a number of years. The earliest application of the principle of giving this assistance dates back about three years. The original legislation provided that the latest date for receiving applications should be the 30th November. The legislation recently passed brought forward that date by one month, to the 31st October, and many primary producers, being unaware of the alteration of the date, failed to make application in time. I am one of those who for some time have urged the Government to amend the law in this direction, and I offer my congratulations to it for having yielded to the representations from many quarters to meet the case of those producers who unfortunately failed to lodge their applications before the closing date. I do not say that the producers are wholly to blame.’ I have been informed that in some sections of the press, particularly in my State, the closing date was given as the 30 th November. It has also been represented to me that in many parts of Australia the prescribed form of application was not available until the closing date had passed. There is, therefore, ample justification for the proposed alteration, and I hope that it will be widely advertised by the Department of Commerce, so that further amending legislation along these lines will not be needed. I was astonished to hear the Minister say that he estimated the additional amount at only £5,000.
– It is really less than that.
– The amount is not stated in the measure, which merely provides that there shall be made available such sum as is necessary to meet applications from producers who use fertilizers within a specified period. I have much pleasure in supporting the bill.
.- I shall support the farmers when I think that they are in need. Great caution should be exercised at the present juncture, however, to avoid the granting of doles to those who are wealthy. The primary producer should be placed on the same footing as the man in industry who has to lay his cards on the table and show that he is destitute before he can receive government assistance. Why should we build up an aristocracy of wealthy farmers? The time has come when we should say to the farmer, “ You must stand on your own feet, and if you are unable to make a success of farming you must get into that occupation for which nature designed you.” I claim to have some knowledge of farming. In the early days of Australia the farmers made a success of their operations without any government assistance. The kindergarten farmers of recent years have proved a complete failure, and have become a burden upon the Australian taxpayer. Time after time they have approached this Parliament for a dole. I should be quite prepared to approve of the granting of assistance to farmers in necessitous circumstances, but I consider it entirely wrong that all farmers should be given assistance at a time when the price of wheat is rising and returns show a fair margin of profit compared with the returns from some other primary products. The Government is asking us to agree to the drawing of an open cheque, for no specific amount is being mentioned. Even the most avaricious farmers who live a life of luxury and drive round the country in American motor cars, using American petrol, will benefit if this measure is passed in its present form. Many farmers grow hay for their horses and they are entitled to assistance in respect of the artificial manure that they use for that purpose. In my opinion steps should be taken to curtail the use of American petrol in American machines and to encourage the working of Australian horses. We should not be pursuing a policy that assists foreigners at a time when many of our own people are starving. I am totally opposed to the payment of a dole to wheat-growers, irrespective of their need, but apparently the representatives of the Country party in this Parliament can force the Government to pay doles for turnip, apple, pear, potato, wheat and hay-growers by simply lifting their finger. No restriction whatever is to be placed upon the uses to which the artificial manures are to be put. Seeing that thousands of people are still on the verge of starvation in Australia it is deplorable that a proposition of this kind should be submitted to us. I am quite willing* to encourage men and women to perform useful service for the country, but I am totally against the making of grants to wealthy farmers simply because their representatives in this Parliament are able to exert undue influence on the Government.
– The expenditure of this money will help to provide work.
– In my opinion it will help to keep certain farmers in idleness. It would not be so bad if the farmers paid a fair wage to their employees, but men are required to work from daylight to dark for 15s. a week and keep. Some of the rural workers do not even require bedding for they have to work practically all night. A provision should be inserted in the bill to oblige applicants to prove that they are in a state of financial distress before any of this money will be payable to them. Unfortunately the farmers’ representatives and certain free trade interests which support this Government are able to do as they like, and some of them will benefit by the passage of this bill.
– The honorable member does not understand the bill.
– I understand it very well. We all know very well that artificial manures have to be used at a certain period of the year.
– Nothing in this bill alters the period at which such payments have formerly been made.
– My complaint is that we are being asked to allow the Government to sign a blank cheque. I do not require the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) or any other honorable member opposite to teach me farming. I am well aware that farmers in periods of drought experience lean years, but why should we feed the fat pig all the time simply to enable cordial relations to be maintained between the United Australia party and the Country party? This should not be done at the cost of the taxpayers, particularly at a time when many of our people are unemployed and practically starving.
– I challenge the honorable member to produce one starving family.
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order ! I regret that the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) should have ignored a call from the Chair. He persisted in interjecting after I called for order. I ask him not to repeat the offence.
– It is high time that honorable members generally took a stand against the policy which the Government is pursuing of drawing upon the revenues of the Commonwealth to assist people who are not in need of assistance, when other sections of the community are in dire distress. The working man who wishes to buy a home in the city cannot call upon the Government for assistance, yet the cockies appear to be able to get what they like. The Government apparently feels obliged to do what the Country party representatives desire in order that it may maintain its position in this House. I refuse to support a measure to provide doles for people who are not in need of them.
.- It seems almost useless to oppose this bill seeing that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) has intimated that he and his party will offer no objection to its passage. The bill provides that “such sums as are necessary “ shall be made available for the purposes specified. That seems to me to be a unprecedented provision to insert in a measure of this kind. The Government is apparently to be authorized to draw an open cheque. I consider that persons who do not apply within a specified period for a subsidy to which they are entitled should lose it. The members of the Country party seem to have unlimited influence with the Government, and can force through Parliament any measure that they desire. I make that statement seriously. No doubt it is a joy to members of the Country party to be able to circulate through country districts the information that they are able to get what they wish from the Government. Not only the Commonwealth Government, but also the governments of New South Wales and Victoria, have been able to bludgeon legislation through their respective Parliaments by reason of the fact that the Country party occupies a commanding position. This, however, is a most immoral form of government for the Country party to support. Sooner or later this kind of legislation will be impossible, for the people cannot be fooled all the time. It seems to me to be unreasonable that a fertilizer subsidy should be paid in respect of the growing of hay for use on farms. The majority of our agriculturists are engaged in mixed farming. There are in New South Wales, for instance, 14,000 holdings which carry sheep, and 2,283 which are registered as engaging in dairying. If a man is unable to make a profit from one branch of his business, he ought to be able to do so from another branch of it, and I can see no reason why a subsidy should be paid in respect of artificial manure used for growing barley or hay. Another bill is before this Parliament which provides for a grant of £2,000,000 to assist the wheat-growers. In addition the farmers will benefit this year to the extent of £6,000,000 as a result of increased prices. The return from this year’s crop will therefore be £8,000,000 in excess of that of last year. The Acting Minister for Commerce (Mr. Thorby) made a statement to that effect last night.
– The honorable member is not entitled to discuss at this stage the provisions of another bill.
– Last night I took some notes while the Acting Minister for Commerce was speaking, and the figure that I have given is correct. Those who live on the fat of the land, of whom the honorable member for Grey (Mr. McBride) is one, should be the last to laugh at the statements I am making. They should be ashamed to vote for the granting of public money to persons whom they know to be in good circumstances. The money we are being asked to provide for the relief of the wheat industry will be not a just reward for labour, but a reward to certain people who have put representatives in this Parliament to squeeze money from the Government. The Government, as a matter of fact, is in such a position that it cannot resist the pressure that is being brought to bear upon it. I offer a strong protest against the practice of Ministers reading type-written speeches in this House at such a rate that honorable members cannot follow what is being said. The evil effects of this practice is intensified when we are requested to carry the measures so introduced to their completion the next day, and are refused an opportunity to consider the full effect of them. It is unfair that a Minister should be allowed to gabble through his second-reading speech, and then oblige honorable members not acquainted with the facts of the situation to agree to the passage of the bill that has been introduced.
Honorable members interjecting,
– In spite of the fact that I have honorable members around me calling out like a pack of howling wolves, I intend to make my protest. The representatives of the farmers in this Parliament should play fair to the country generally, and other honorable members of the House. It is one of the tragedies of this Parliament, and, for that matter, of other parliaments, that a Minister may introduce a measure of this character, and, as a kind of salve to his conscience, say “ This will be the last time, I hope, that the farmers will have to come to this Parliament and ask, for assistance.”
– That was not stated in connexion with this bill.
– The Minister, in his closing remarks when moving the second reading last night, said that probably this would be the last occasion when it would be necessary to deal with this class of legislation.
– That remark was made in connexion with another bill.
– If that be so, then I advise the Minister, on future occasions, to postpone the debate on the second reading of bills which he introduces until honorable members have had an opportunity to read and understand what he did say. He said definitely that owing to the home-consumption price for wheat he thought it would be unnecessary to bring this legislation before the House again.
-The honorable member is referring to another bill; his remarks are out of order.
– But this measure offers rewards to the same class of primary producers! - those farmers who grow wheat for grain and also cultivate for wheaten hay. They will coane under the provisions of this bill. Honorable members of the Country party cannot deny this fact. I have no objection whatever to necessitous farmers receiving assistance. Figures published in the Sydney Morning Herald recently ‘ show that on 8,000 holdings cultivated for wheat last year, the production was less than 20 bushels an acre.
– I again remind the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) that he is anticipating the debate on another measure. This bill provides for assistance to farmers other than wheatgrowers.
– I do not wish to anticipate the discussion of that bill, but I am including in my references in this debate those wheat-farmers who, besides growing wheat for grain, also grow wheat for hay. There are 14,000 mixed farm holdings in New South Wales. Surely I am not to be reprimanded for making passing reference to that class of wheatfarmers who will participate in the assistance to be given under this measure?
– This bill has nothing to do with wheat-growers.
– The bill will assist producers engaged in mixed farming, and it will benefit some of our wealthiest farmers if they cut wheat for hay. They will get a subsidy of 15s. a ton on all artificial fertilizers used on the area cut for wheaten hay. The honorable member for Grey will get ‘&s much out of this measure as any other farmer. I strongly object to any section of wealthy farmers taking from the public purse money to which they are not entitled, but Country party supporters are able to force the Government to accede to their demands. I should have nothing to say against a proposal to assist farmers in need, but I shall always raise a protest against wealthy farmers participating in benefits intended for necessitous producers. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) who is one of our wealthiest farmers, has always stood up for the rights of the wealthy producers, whilst the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Nock) has, on several occasions, declared that the farmer who can produce only 5 bushels of wheat to the acre is not worth considering and ought to be turned off the land. I refuse to be dragged at the wheel of any party that is indifferent to the needs of necessitous farmers, but has consideration for the wealthier producers and assists them to take out of the public purse money to which they are not entitled.
.- It would be ungenerous of honorable members of the Country party to permit thi3 opportunity to pass without offering some words of thanks to the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and the honorable member for .Denison (Mr. Mahoney) for their very candid speeches on this bill. Whatever merit may attach to the policy of the Country party, a reprint of the speeches delivered by those two honorable gentlemen in any country electorate would ensure the return of a candidate in opposition to Labour. Of the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane), I will say that he certainly offered us some entertainment, and leave it at that. The speech delivered by the honorable member for East Sydney was, no doubt, the expression of a deep seated conviction with reference to primary producers.
– I shall not object if my speech is correctly reported.
– I hope that the press will give full publicity to the views expressed by the honorable gentleman - views with which I disagree, but which I frankly admit he is entitled to hold - because the circulation of such a candid opinion will enable country electors to judge for themselves the measure of assistance and treatment which they may expect from a government comprising these two members of the Opposition. Soon we shall be discussing another measure to provide a bounty for apple and pear growers - producers in the same category as those wheat-growers who will receive benefits under this measure, and having in mind the objection which the honorable member for Denison has offered to this measure, I am wondering if he will also oppose that bill.
– I shall deal with that bill when it is before us.
– The principle contained in this measure was unanimously accepted when the original bill was passed. This measure merely facilitates the implementation of the principal act.
– It gives the wheatgrowers a little more money.
– It does not give them more; it merely gives full effect to the original proposal and makes good the shortcomings of the administration of the Department of Commerce by extending the date for the closing of applications for the subsidy on the purchase of superphosphates. The act stipulated that the applications should close on the 31st October, 1935. It provided for the payment of subsidy on fertilizers used on wheat areas cut for hay, but it was impossible for all farmers to anticipate, at the date fixed for the closing of applications, the area which they would cut for hay and how much they would strip for grain. I cannot understand why the Department of Commerce fixed the closing date at the 31st October. Furthermore, the application forms were not readily available at all post offices in time for farmers to secure them and lodge applications. I have personal knowledge of farmers who were unable to obtain forms before the expiration of the date fixed for the closing of applications.
I am under the impression that the date was fixed in one of the regulations.
– No; it is prescribed in the act.
– If that is so, I remind honorable members that when speaking to the bill, I suggested that the closing date should be the 31st December, and gave reasons for the suggestion, so no responsibility can be attributed to me for the mistake made in fixing the closing date at the 31st October. If similar measures come before the Parliament on future occasions I trust that the closing date for applications will be fixed for a time when farming operations, as regards planting and harvesting, are at a standstill.
– Does the honorable member anticipate similar legislation on future occasions?
– If the necessity arises I feel sure that Parliament will give sympathetic consideration to any measure that may be introduced by the Government to assist our primary producers. I hope also that the Department of Commerce will see that sufficient forms of application are available at all post offices in adequate time to permit farmers requiring assistance to lodge their applications within the prescribed time. No new obligation will be placed upon the Treasury by the carrying of this bill. Parliament has already approved of the payment of 15s. a ton subsidy for the purchase of fertilizers in certain circumstances, so there is an inescapable obligation on the Parliament to take such measures as may be necessary to see that the funds are available.
– The attitude adopted by certain honorable members, notably the honorable members for Barton (Mr. Lane) and Denison (Mr. Mahoney), in connexion with this bill is quite impossible to understand in view of the fact that they have already supported the principles which it seeks to implement. I support what has already been said by the honorable member (Mr. McEwen) who has just resumed his seat. Abill was brought before the House during, I think, November last, which provided for the granting of a subsidy of 15s. a ton on fertilizers used by certain classes of farmers for certain specific purposes, and was passed through this chamber without a division being called for.
– The honorable member was not here.
– That does not alter the fact that it was supported by the honorable members for Barton and Denison and that no division was called for. The principle of the open cheque, to the extent that it applies here, applied also in that bill.
– That is not so.
– It specified a definite amount.
– As I have said, this House approved of the provision of 15s. a ton as a subsidy to certain farmers for the purchase of fertilizers to be used for certain specific purposes.
– Within a reasonable time.
– Yes. The purpose of this bill is simply to enable the provisions of the original act to be carried out. I shall not attempt to defend the Government for the circumstances which have necessitated the introduction of this measure which merely makes possible the implementation of principles already approved by this House. There is neither consistency nor sincerity in the attacks launched against this bill by those who only a few months ago supported the very principles which it contains.
.- I am completely at a loss to understand the opposition to this measure. As the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) has said, a bill similar to the one now before the House and containing the same principles was passed during last session without opposition. The object of this bill is to render assistance to primary producers badly in need of it. I cannot understand any one saying that by passing it we are giving an open cheque to the Government. The distribution of this money can result only in benefit to the country. The more fertilizers are used by the primary producers the greater the benefit that will accrue to the country as a whole. I notice that the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane), who has always had his knife into the primary producers, says that they live in luxury. The honorable member never seems to realize the difficulties with which they have had to contend.
– I take exception, Mr. Speaker, to the statement made by the honorable member for Franklin that I have always had my knife into the primary producers. That statement if not un-Parliamentary is an absolute falsehood.
– Order ! If the term “ knife “ is objected to, the honorable member must use another term.
– I withdraw the knife and say that the honorable member has always been against the wheat farmers in New South Wales though for what reason I do not know why. The wheat-growers of Australia are the backbone of the country. If a similar bill were introduced to provide assistance for the wool growers of Australia, 1 might not support it ; but as this measure is to aid the wheatgrowers, and as every acre of wheat grown in Australia provides employment for a number of people, it has my wholehearted support. The extensive utilization of fertilizers must result in a general improvement of pastures and go a long way towards raising our export standard. Anything that we can do to bring about this desirable result should be done gladly. Ever since I have been a member of the Labour party I have consistently supported the claims of the wheat farmers for assistance to enable them to carry on. They are the hardest working people in the community. The honorable member for Barton said that a wheatgrower should not be assisted simply because his crop did not yield 20 bushels to the acre. Any farmer who can crop 20 bushels to the acre is not in need of assistance. As all honorable members know, when a farmer sows wheat he does not know if he will ever reap a crop. In the Mallee this year dozens of farmers with good standing crops lost the bulk of them through storms and heavy rains. Primary production, is the largest industry in the British Empire. As a matter of fact in the British Isles alone more persons are employed in primary production than in any other industry. I trust that this bill will be passed without further opposition.
– As I see it, the only point that the Opposition has a right to raise in connexion with this bill - and I am sorry that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) did not develop it further - is in connexion with the powers of the House of Representatives to appropriate money. It is one of the (privileges and duties of this chamber to maintain a very close hold on the purse-strings of the Government. I submit that the procedure to which honorable members opposite are objecting to-day has, over a long period of years, apparently escaped their notice. On the statute-book there are already acts providing for the payment of a bounty on the production of sulphuric acid, one of the’ constituents necessary for the manufacture of superphosphate’s, but I have never heard it suggested that there should be a limit to the number of tons of sulphuric acid produced in Australia on which bounty should be paid. There are also the iron and steel products bounties. Similarly, I have never heard it suggested that any limitation should be imposed on the number of tons of iron and steel on which bounty should be paid. Last year this House accepted the principle that there should be paid a subsidy of 15s. a ton on all superphosphates used for purposes other than the growing of wheat. This question of the open cheque to which objection is taken to-day, seemed to have escaped the notice of honorable members last year when the Wheat Growers Relief Bill was passed providing for the payment of a subsidy of 3s. an acre on every acre sown to wheat in Australia. That measure contained no stipulation that a limited amount of money should be appropriated. The relative clause in that measure provided that a sufficient sum should be appropriated. The Wheat Bounty Act passed last year provided for the payment of 3d. a bushel but did not limit the total amount to be appropriated. In that measure a similar clause was inserted. I submit that on very much more important matters than this, involving much greater sums of money, honorable members were not averse to giving the Government what they are pleased to-day to call a blank cheque. No harm will be done on this occasion.
The Government is at fault in one respect, however, in that it did not follow, in the original act last year, the procedure adopted in the acts providing for the payment of bounties on the production of sulphur, wine and wheat, and provide an unlimited appropriation, leaving the closing date of its application to regulation. Had that been done, we would have avoided the debate on this bill to-day.
There is another point raised by honorable members opposite to which I must reply. It has been said that the great bulk of this subsidy will be received by wealthy land-holders, simply rolling in wealth, who tear about the countryside in expensive motor cars. In my own electorate the direct opposite is the case. I represent a lump of South Australia of very high rainfall and rather poor soil, where scientists are doing their level best to devise means of effectively settling people on the land. It has been discovered that the only way in which that can be done successfully is by the intensive use of superphosphates. Every ton of superphosphates that comes to the south-eastern provinces of South Australia creates employment for many people; first, the men in the factory producing the fertilizers - they are located in the electorate represented by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) - then the railway men engaged in its transport - on our return to Canberra last week, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker) and I saw no less than six special trains engaged in transporting superphosphates to that part of the State - and then the numbers of men engaged in clearing the laud. That country is not being cleared for the purpose of wheat-growing; it is not grain country, it is purely grazing country. The main industry to be established there will be the production of wool and meat, the future export of which will assist materially in establishing a favorable trade balance in London, about which we have heard so much on recent occasions.
The wheat-grower will not participate in the subsidy provided by this bill; in fact, in the principal act, he is definitely excluded from participation. But the subsidy will be paid to the growers of barley. Last year South Australian barley-growers produced a r*ecord crop of 8,000,000 bushels.
Silting suspended from 12-45 p.m.. to 2.15 p.m.
– The South Australian barley industry is in difficulty this year because of lack of markets and very low prices. Nobody on the Opposition side is prepared to say that this industry is not worthy of some consideration by this House. The industry is a considerable employer of labour, and is not assisted by a homeconsumption price or a bounty on production, as in many other industries. Bounties are paid on the production of fruit of various sorts, and there are even bounties on the production of manufactured goods. I doubt whether the honor able member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) is prepared to attempt to convince the Parliament that the sulphur bounty paid to the zinc manufacturers should cease.
– Or that paid to the farmers’ co-operative fertilizer works in Victoria.
– Those works have to pay for the sulphuric acid used by them in the manufacture of fertilizers, and therefore in the long run the farmer pays the bounty. The speech by the honorable member, following that of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) was a remarkable contribution to the debate. I shall have no hesitation in quoting the remarks of both honorable members in any country electorate as a reason why no farmer’s vote should be given to Labour candidates. The honorable member for East Sydney is one of the best debaters on the Opposition side, and, if a Labour Ministry came into power again, the chances are that he would be given a portfolio. I should tell my constituents that they could not afford to run the risk of having the Department of Commerce administered by that honorable member. The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) is similarly antagonistic to the interests of the primary producers. The three honorable members whom I have mentioned represent metropolitan constituencies, and the views which they express from time to time regarding rural industries should receive serious consideration in both United Australia party and United Country party circles. I shall stand solidly behind the Government in seeing that the primary producers receive the assistance to which they are entitled.
– Is nobody else entitled to anything ?
– I have not suggested that, but I could not reply at length to the honorable member, and at the same time confine my remarks to the measure before us. The Opposition suggests that no farmer or grazier should be entitled to the bounty if he is making a profit. Is the Opposition prepared to adopt the same attitude when discussing the tariff, and say that no protective duty should be granted to a secondary industry that is showing a profit? Of course not. During a long series of years honorable members opposite have supported the granting of duties to industries that have made enormous profits out of country producers. I might instance the glass, iron and steel and match industries, and, of course, many others could be mentioned.
When speaking this morning I was developing a point regarding the provision of employment by the use of superphosphates. On this subject I claim to have some knowledge. Farmers in my electorate are going in for a great deal of agricultural development on poor soil. Scientific investigation has shown that good pastures can be produced on this class of land by the liberal use of superphosphates. The Government has been of great service to the producers in this matter, and the payment of a bounty of 15s. a ton on superphosphates has resulted in a considerable increase of employment throughout Australia. I know of no other measure which could have proved so valuable in providing extra employment, and increasing our export wealth. The addition of the proceeds of the barley crop to our London funds would be of considerable assistance; but, with prices ranging from ls. 3d. up to ls. lOd. a bushel - and the latter price is received for only the best crops, which are but a small proportion of the whole - the industry is not a payable one. The slight advantage which the producers will get out of this measure will not help them a great distance on the road to solvency. In a debate such as this one has to travel a long way from home to learn about one’s friends.. I have known the honorable member for Grey (Mr. McBride) for a long time, but I am not aware that he grows wheat. He was accused of being interested in this measure on that score. I know him as a pastoralist, and as an employer of labour who has a good reputation in that regard. Although he may represent a considerable number of wheat-growers, he has not yet indulged in the rather expensive pastime of producing wheat. I thank the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) for their generous donations to the electioneering propaganda of the Government parties.
.- The House is being called upon again to pass another amending bill which is made necessary on account of ministerial incompetence. When the Country party was in opposition, it was loud in its condemnation of the present Government for not taking a long-range view, and anticipating all aspects which might conceivably arise in connexion with its rural legislation. Yet the rural representatives in the Cabinet have from time to time submitted measures which have soon been found to be defective. These self-styled rural authorities who were responsible for this legislation, failed to gauge the proper date on which applications for this bounty should be made. The second mistake was that they estimated that the bill would involve an expenditure of £275,000. They now ask the House to blunder again by giving them an open cheque to expend as much as they like in the payment of bounty for the benefit of those farmers who missed the jump in the race to get this assistance. The Acting Minister for Commerce (Mr. Thorby) has assured us that only a small extra amount is required, and that £5,000 will be ample. Allowing that he may make still another blunder, let us double that sum, and authorize the expenditure of a further £10,000 ; but, above all, we should at least fix a limit. The honorable gentleman says that it is impossible to estimate the exact amount required, yet in the principal act it was estimated that £275,000 would be sufficient to meet all applications throughout Australia. Now the Government has the effrontery to tell the House that it does not know how much it will need to deal with the claims of a mere handful of farmers who made late applications.
I desire to know something of the plan adopted in the distribution of the money already paid. I understand that regular application forms were printed. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) has assured us that he has- information that certain farmers received their accommodation merely as the result of estimates. Did these farmers get the amount for which they asked, and were their estimates correct? In the absence of this information we have no assurance that fraudulent returns were not submitted. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) was indignant because certain farmers in Western Australia had said openly that they had put in estimates only. The honorable member twisted this statement by the Leader of the Opposition, and represented that he had said that they were fraudulent estimates, although no such word was used. I am sure that honorable members would like to know whether the estimates on which bounty was paid were on, under or over the mark. I presume that if they were right on the mark, and the estimate actually covered the farmer’s requirements, we shall hear nothing from him. If the estimate was over the amount required?, so that the farmer received more by way of subsidy than he was entitled to, I have no doubt that we shall hear nothing from him either; but if the estimate was under the mark, the farmers who so underestimated their requirements will be the first in the field to take advantage of this new provision. With those who stated exactly what they required, no fault can be found, nor can any fault be found, so far as we are concerned, with those whose applications arrived too late. They, too, are entitled to the subsidy insofar as all users of fertilizer are entitled to it, but that raises the question whether we should give this assistance to those wealthy farmers who do not require it. The honorable member for Echuca (Mi-. McEwen) took to task the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) for saying that this subsidy should not be paid to those farmers who are not in need of it. The honorable member for Echuca then went on to compute how many votes the Labour party would lose at the next election for opposing this legislation, and how many his party would gain by supporting legislation, the object of which is to hand out subsidies indiscriminately, whether they are needed or not. His main concern seemed to be whether a party’s attitude to this kind of legislation would lose or gain votes.
– That is a gross misrepresentation.
– It is a perfectly fair analysis of the honorable member’s contentions, and it is a sad commentary on the standard of our public life if honorable members can speak openly in this House of buying votes by dipping their hands into public funds for the benefit of their supporters. Thehonorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) is loud in his condemnation of my remarks, but I warn him that he has a large urban vote in his electorate.
– Is the honorable member in order? This bill does not introduce any new principles, but merely extends the time within which applications may be made.
– So far as the bill affects the amount of money necessary for the payment of the bounty, honorable members may discuss the principle of the original bill, but I remind them that they are not entitled to discuss the relations of other honorable members with their electors.
– Perhaps, then, I may be permitted to give some reasonswhy this money should not be paid indiscriminately to those who need it and those who do not. I cannot in conscience support the measure when I know that, in my own electorate, there are business people who have to take the same risks as the farmers take, and who are barely able to pay their way. Indeed they are practically on the bread line. Yet they do not come to the Government asking for assistance; they must struggle on as best they can, or go bankrupt. In my electorate, there are hundreds of persons on the dole, and while they are in that state I dare not tell them that I voted to pay public money by way of subsidy to wealthy farmers who are not in need of it. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) pointed out that one farmers’ co-operative society in Victoria is also a supplier of superphosphates.
– That society will derive no benefit from the subsidy.
– Not directly, but the payment of the subsidy to the users of fertilizers will assist sales. Thus, if the society does not get the subsidy in one way, it will get it in another. Moreover, farmers who happen to be shareholders in the co-operative society, and also users of fertilizer, will get it both ways.
– The co-operative society does not pay dividends.
– No, I suppose it is a sort of charitable institution. The
Country party has always advocated a long-range policy of rural rehabilitation. Country party members, as well as members of the Labour party, have jibed at the Government for not proceeding with such a scheme. From time to time they have taken the Government to task for waiting until sheer necessity drove it to rush ill-considered legislation through the House at the last moment. That was when the Country party was in opposition. Now that it has joined the Government the same sort of thing is going on, and the principal bill, of which this measure is an amendment, was rushed through the House in such haste at the end of last session that a most important point in regard to the date of application received too little consideration. The members of the Labour party do not object to a subsidy on fertilizers being paid to those farmers who are actually in need. We support the payment of sustenance money to men when they are unemployed, and therefore we cannot logically object to proposals for helping farmers who are in need, but we cannot countenance the paying over of public money to farmers whether they need it or not, simply because, as the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. McEwen) informed us, it will secure votes for the Government.
– I did not intend to take any part in this discussion, but now that it has assumed the proportions of a full-dress debate, I feel that, as one representing a semirural constituency, I should make my position clear. I support the bill. The two main principles embodied in it are, first, that the date of application for the subsidy should be extended from the last day of October of last year to the last day of April of this year, and, second, that a specific sum should not be mentioned in the bill, but that such sums as are necessary should be appropriated from time to time. The principle of the original bill was supported, tacitly at least, by all members of the House when it was under discussion before Christmas ; and rightly so, because they supported, at various times within recent years the payment of bonuses and subsidies to all manner of industries. This subsidy on the purchase of fertilizers has done more to stimulate production and increase trade than any other subsidy I know of. There is no doubt that the use of superphosphates has had an immense effect on rural production right throughout Australia. I think I am right in saying that the first subsidy on superphosphate was paid in 1932, and since then the production of butter has almost doubled, while that of mutton and lamb has increased by 45 per cent. But for those extraordinary increases, there seems to me to be no doubt that the Government would have had to take some steps before now to correct our overseas trade balance. The point involved is not whether the farmers who receive the subsidy are in need or not; the whole purpose of paying the subsidy is to increase production, and it certainly has had that effect.
– It has also had the effect of reducing costs of production.
– That is so. No doubt the Government made an error when it altered the date of application for the subsidy in last year’s bill from November to October. All farmers do not study their daily papers carefully, and many of them, no doubt, missed the notice of the change of date. In Western Australia many farmers did not know until the last moment whether they were going to cut their wheat for grain or for wheaten hay. Of course, the actual manure must have been used before the 1st July of last year, so that no question of paying out on a blank cheque arises, as some honorable members have suggested. The manure, which forms the subject of the applications, has been used, and no application for a subsidy can be properly made in respect of manure which was not on the ground before the 1st July last. Therefore, I fail to see how the bill can be called a blank cheque ; if it can be so called, then at least it bears the endorsement “ not over a certain amount “. For these reasons I support the bill. Very shortly we shall have to examine the whole matter of bonuses. The subsidy on fertilizer has gone far enough. Primary industries should soon be able to do without this form of assistance.
. The discussion which has taken place on this small measure exemplifies the saying that mountains can be made out of molehills. As an amendment to a previous measure, it is designed to ensure that all of those whom the principal act was enacted to assist shall share in this subsidy. However, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) took advantage of it to give a lecture in which he alleged that the Government had committed a serious error and in which, incidentally, ha pointed out to honorable members of this House and the community as a whole the great consideration that he and those associated with him have for the primary producers of this country. When they read the speeches made on this measure by some honorable members opposite the primary producers will have very grave doubts as to the genuineness of such a claim and, undoubtedly, they will wish to remain free from the control of a Government composed of members who have expressed themselves in such terms. As the representative of a constituency which is largely made up of primary producers, a small percentage of whom will derive some benefit under this measure, I fling back in the teeth of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) the unwarrantable attack which he made against those who will benefit under this bill when he said that it was being passed in the interests of greedy and avaricious primary producers. The primary producers constitute the last section of the community against which such a charge could be justly levelled. As a matter of fact, they are the only section of the community that has, until recent years, as a result of legislation passed in this Parliament, been forced to compete unaided against producers in all parts of the world. The honorable member and his colleagues should be among the last to make such a charge in view of the fact that the policy which they support is one of the chief factors in encouraging combines and monopolies which do more than any other section to exploit the community as a whole. This subsidy will be the means of increasing production of goods which can be exported overseas, goods which will enable us to create those necessary credits abroad about which we have heard so much during the last few days. Quite apart from the unjustifiable charges made by the honorable member for East Sydney, every representative of a constituency, in which primary producers reside, knows that many people who are entitled to the subsidy applied too late to receive it. This legislation has been introduced to enable these people to obtain the assistance intended in the principal act.
– In November last this House accepted the principle that we should pay a subsidy of 15s. a ton on superphosphates used by farmers. Honorable members relied upon the Government to supply them with the data necessary to enable them to form an intelligent opinion as to how. much money would be required to pay that subsidy. First the Government suggested a figure of £275,000, and it must have had some data on which to arrive at that estimate.
– Previous consumption.
– Under the financial emergency legislation that estimate was increased to £325,000, and the House accepted the latter figure on the understanding that the Government knew what it was doing. Honorable members believed that the Government possessed the necessary knowledge to assure them that this subsidy would not cost more than that amount, and for that reason the House accepted that estimate. To-day honorable members are not objecting to the principle involved in this measure, that is, that a subsidy of 15s. a ton should be paid on all fertilizer used, but to the fact that, despite its possession of the data necessary to enable it to fix the amount on previous occasions, it has not produced a definite estimate on this occasion. The Government now says that owing to unfortuitous circumstances, its first two estimates were wrong, and, according to honorable members opposite, it asks us to prevent it from making any further mistake by giving it an open cheque to meet the balance of the subsidy. The objection to this measure is not so much to giving the Government an open cheque; the policy laid down in the original legislation of paying a subsidy of 15s. a ton on fertilizer used by farmers must stand, and if, even belatedly, applications are made by people who can prove that they have used a certain tonnage of fertilizer, the Government must meet such applications. Thus the Government is correct in its contention that it must have at its disposal funds to meet such liabilities. The point I emphasize, however, is that, although the Government had the data available on which to frame its original estimates of the amount required to meet the subsidy, it is now, contrary to all precedent, asking for further indefinite funds for the same purpose. What are the circumstances which have forced the Government to take such a step ?
– Did the honorable member not listen to the Minister’s second-reading speech?
– CertainlyI did; and I listened to the second-reading speeches on the original measure, when £275,000 was asked for, and on the second occasion when an amount of £325,000 was. asked for, but since those two estimates have now been proved to be insufficient I cannot rely on another second-reading speech on a third measure. Something must have occurred to force the Government to go back on its tracks.
– Can the honorable member suggest how much fertilizer, to which this subsidy would apply, willbe used?
– No; butI suggest to the Minister that in bringing down this bill he should have followed the same steps as he did in regard to previous legislation, and let honorable members know the amount to which the Government is likely to be committed in respect of this subsidy. I agree with the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Fisken) that Parliament should take a more active interest in these affairs, but unless Ministers help us more effectively in matters of this nature honorable members cannot give them the attention which they should. The Minister has had experience in connexion with previous legislation which should enable him to overcome such difficulties, but he has not taken advantage of that experience. I agree with the honorable member for Ballarat that we shall soon have to consider seriously the whole matter of granting bounties to primary producers, but I hope, if further legislation to provide bounties is introduced, the Minister will go more thoroughly into the matter and obviate, as has occurred on this occasion, a second full- dress debate upon a measure that should never have been brought forward at all.
.- We have been told that this subsidy will benefit the primary producers who have never been effectively assisted by this Parliament. Have not the growers of potatoes, for instance, received such assistance? Do not these producers receive benefits under the embargo placed on the importation of potatoes from New Zealand? This embargo is maintained, although it has resulted in the loss of the New Zealand market to the Australian fruit-grower. Furthermore, are not the producers of butter protected under the Paterson scheme? Does not every worker in this country give these producers a bonus every time he buys butter for his bread? Despite these facts, the honorable member suggested that some sections of the primary producers have never been assisted by this Parliament. The fruit-growers also have benefited under Commonwealth legislation. Honorable members on this side of the House do not object to assisting the needy farmer; we object to assisting greedy farmers who invariably want something from the revenues of this country to which they are not entitled. It is the Government’s duty to help a man who is in need, but no man who has a super abundance of the necessaries of life should be permitted to dip into the public Treasury. For these reasons I support the remarks made by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). Some honorable members representing country constituencies have suggested that the statement of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) on this measure could be used so as to profit himself politically in (the eyes of primary producers. Undoubtedly, the small farmer agrees with our contention that, in no circumstances, is the greedy farmer entitled to dip into the Commonwealth Treasury, and we are prepared to meet any honorable member opposite on this issue in any electorate, whether it be in the city or the country.
We object not to the fact that we are giving aid to primary producers, but to the fact that the bill is a blank cheque. As the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) has said, at the end of October the Minister intimated that the amount involved in paying the fertilizers bounty would be approximately £275,000. How could the Minister give an estimate then, yet to-day, when an extension for a month is required, the Department of Commerce is unable to estimate the additional amount required? If the amount be £10,000, £15,000, eleven £50,000, this side of the House will acquiesce in making the grant; but it certainly does object to signing a blank cheque. If a Labour Government said, “ We shall contribute so much in an open cheque to those men who are unemployed,” every one in opposition would be protesting against favours being granted to a special section of the community. To them, however, it is an entirely different matter when the beneficiaries are the farmers; there is no quibble about a proposal to approve of an open cheque for distribution among rich farmers. Surely it is competent for the Acting Minister to estimate the amount involved! Let it be £5,000, £10,000, or £15,000; but at least make it definite! This loose manner of dealing with finances must be stopped.
It has been said that we on this side of the House are opposed to the farmers. The farmers received more consideration from the Scullin Labour Government than from any other party that has ever occupied the treasury benches. Regarding it as its duty to support farming enterprise, that Government introduced legislation to “assist wheat-growers. Understanding internal economy, we also understand, as everybody knows, that we must protect primary industries, because, if we do not and they fail, our secondary industries will also go to the wall; but we are opposed to money being voted to rich men to assist them in travelling around the country shows, and to every race meeting, in their first-class motor cars. It was the Country party, not the United Australia party, which opposed the Scullin Government in 1931 when it attempted action to help the wheat industry. The Country party men in this Parliament stood up and said, “We will not stand for this.” Despite their actions then, it is they who always say that the Labour party is opposed to assisting the farmers.
We oppose, and always shall oppose., the system of signing blank cheques. I hope that the Acting Minister, even at this late stage, will take an opportunity in committee to incorporate in the bill a clause putting a definite limitation on the amount to be distributed. If he does so, he will find no opposition from this side of the House.
.- The main reason given by the Acting Minister for Commerce (Mr. Thorby) as justification for this bill was that the bounty was given on superphosphates in order to encourage primary producers to increase production and the wealth of the nation. That is a good principle, but is the Commonwealth Government to hand out bounties to people rich enough to pay for their own superphosphates so that they may further enrich themselves ? By an extension of the principle, I could say that, as paint is a great preservative for the homes of the people, those who cannot afford to buy paint should receive a bounty to enable them to use it.
– The principle of this bill was established months ago.
– Even if that be so, what I have just said is, in effect, the justification given by the Acting Minister in charge of this bill. The honorable member wakes up too late. I told him once before, I think, that in order to give him any pleasure in his old age we should have started to tell him funny stories twenty years ago.
I have no objection to this bounty or to other assistance being given to the indigent farmers in this country who need superphosphates to rehabilitate worn-out soils; but, just because science has discovered some means of increasing productivity, it is absurd that the Government should hand out largesse to men who can well afford to pay for the fertilizers they require. There must be some clear line of demarcation between those who are entitled and those who are not entitled to receive assistance.
Honorable members opposite talk with their tongues in their cheeks, but I have more respect for the intelligence of the farmers than to think that they will swallow everything that politicians say. For the most part the primary producers know full well that when it comes to a matter of their receiving assistance they have no better friends than the Labour party. That party, however, justly objects to coupling the poor and the rich as mutual beneficiaries from such legislation as this. In October last the Acting Minister brought down a bill fixing a definite amount to be paid under a bounty on fertilizers, but in seeking now to amend the legislation he has asked for an open order to pay whatever bounty he likes. I agree with the contention of the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) that the Acting Minister has had ample time, and he has ample information available, if he likes to look for it, to know exactly how much money is to be involved in this distribution. It might be £275,000 or £400,000, for all we know, but surely, when in October the amount involved could be ascertained, it is equally ascertainable now. The present mode of bringing legislation before Parliament must stop. The Government never seems able to make up its mind. I have never seen so many bills passed requiring immediate amendment. Whether it be due to bad instructions to draftsmen or to failure of the draftsmen to do their job, sheaves of amendments are put before honorable members within a very short space of time after the legislation concerned has been introduced. The time of Parliament is being squandered, and in order to ensure that there will be no repetition at least in the present instance I shall support any move in committee for a definite fixation of the total amount of bounty.
Mr.RIORDAN (Kennedy) [3.14].- Under this bill an unstated amount is to be given for the relief of primary producers in the different States, but this party supports the proposal because, with that class of relief it is very hard to estimate the cost.
– The amount of the bounty being fixed on a per ton basis regulates the expenditure.
– Under the original act the bounty is fixed at 15s. a ton, and I presume that the States who will distribute this relief will have a certain amount of control over it. The distribu tion of this money will therefore be safeguarded.
I claim to represent as many workers as does any other honorable member in this House, and I would be sorry to see any deserving farmer refused assistance. Despite the charge levelled against the Labour party by the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. McEwen)–
– I did not lay any charge against the party; I referred to the statements of two of its members.
– The honorable member for Echuca professed to quote statements made by the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney), and, looking towards the reporters in the gallery, asked that his remarks be reported in the press. I now ask the press to report that the honorable member for Denison did not oppose the granting of assistance to farmers. He did, however, oppose the attempt to rush legislation through this Parliament, as was done prior to the Christmas adjournment. So great was the rush then that even the Minister himself scarcely had time to look at the bills which he presented to the House. The bill proposes an alteration from October to April. We are now almost half way through March, and if this bill does not get to the Senate to-day–
– Whose fault will that be?
– It will be the fault of the Government for not having called Parliament together earlier.
– The Opposition has indulged in stonewalling, in defiance of its leader’s promise.
– The Acting Minister does not know the nature of the legislation which he has introduced. It is a matter not of stonewalling, but of inability to obtain from the Acting Minister information necessary for a proper consideration of the bill. The Acting Minister has not thought it worth while to reply to inquiries made by honorable members.
– If I rose to reply I would close the debate.
– I ask the press to report that the honorable member for Denison objected, not to the granting of relief to farmers, but to farmers who are members of Parliament drawing their salaries here and also dipping their hands into the public treasury.
– Order ! Had I heard the honorable member for Denison make that statement I would have called him to order.
– I ask the press to report that some of the wealthy farmers in this House, who, as members of Parliament, are in receipt of £S50 a year, also participate in the grants made by Parliament to farmers. Members on this side are fully justified in seeking information. There are others in the community besides farmers who have suffered from the depression. I have in mind a man in Brisbane-
– The honorable member must discuss the subject before the Chair.
– I was merely attempting to compare the treatment meted out to other sections of the community with the assistance granted to the farming community. I desire to know why assistance is given to primary producers time after time, when other sections of the community who are in financial straits are forced through the bankruptcy courts. The Minister in charge of the bill may accuse the Opposition of stonewalling, but surely we on this side are entitled to more information from him than he has so far given to us. The second-reading speech of the Acting Minister did not explain the bill. Without a proper discussion of its provisions, it is more than probable that before long there will be a further amending bill to extend the time until the end of June. In many instances farmers will not be able to submit their applications in time. It may be, as the Leader of the Opposition suggested, that some farmers will anticipate their requirements and make their applications in time and get away with it.
– Not one penny of the bounty has been paid except on fertilizers actually used. I challenge any member of the Opposition to prove otherwise.
– That interjection by the Acting Minister is helpful, and I, for one, accept his assurance. Had he given that information before the luncheon adjournment, the passage of this bill might have been speedier. The
Acting Minister complains that he cannot give the information sought without closing the debate, but his last interjection shows that he can, without rising in his place, answer some of the inquiries of honorable members. All that we seek is information. I hope that in the future, as in the past, not one penny of this bounty will be paid for other than fertilizers actually used. I agree with the policy underlying the bill, even in cases in which the recipient of the bounty is not in grave financial difficulties. It is a good thing to subsidize farmers to increase their production so long as a market can be found for the things which they produce. The greatest problem confronting the farming community is the finding of markets. The Acting Minister for Commerce recently journeyed overseas in an endeavour to find markets for Australian goods. The Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) also travelled extensively with the object of arranging trade treaties with other countries and finding markets for Australian produce, but so far, no report from him has been presented to Parliament. If markets could be found for our agricultural products, the supply of fertilizers to farmers to increase their production would be more than justified, because increased production from the land would mean increased work for not only those engaged in rural production but also transport workers, waterside workers and others. Moreover, increased production under those conditions would hasten the recovery of the labour market. I congratulate the Government on making fertilizers available to primary producers, but I regret that the money was not made available earlier instead of keeping Parliament closed month after month and then trying to rush legislation through this House without affording an opportunity to discuss it properly. It is not right that this House should be asked to pass legislation in this way merely in order that the Senate need not sit next week.
– The money was voted last year.
– Then why was it not paid out last year? The Acting Minister said that there was not time to do so; but if the period covered by the months of October, November and December was not sufficient last -year, it is not likely that the time between now and the end of April this year will he sufficient. I visualize a further amendment of this legislation when Parliament re-assembles after the Easter adjournment, and I suggest that the Acting Minister would get legislation through this chamber with much less trouble if copies of the bill and of proposed amendments, together with an explanation of the amendments, were presented to members early. Yesterday he had in his hand a number of typewritten explanations. He could have had a few copies made for the information of the House generally; but instead of replying to the reasonable requests of honorable members for information, he sits at the table and makes little or no attempt to reply to their legitimate inquiries.
.- I am concerned with the continual granting of assistance to those industries which members of the Country party in this chamber profess to represent while other industries equally worthy and necessitous are left without aid. Although large sums of money have been invested in other industries which are now languishing, the Government makes no attempt to assist them by means of bounties, notwithstanding that they are just as important to the nation’s welfare as are those which are helped from time to time. The Labour party does not oppose the granting of assistance to primary producers who are suffering from the depression or from the lack of markets, but it does object to wealthy farmers who are not in need of assistance participating in bounties. It objects most strongly to members of this Parliament who are wealthy farmers voting to grant money out of the public treasury to themselves. It is interesting to contrast the attitude of the present composite Government towards bounties to farmers with that of the one-party Government which preceded it. Before the coalition, the Government of the day favoured the payment of bounties only to those farmers who had no taxable income, but later, there was a change of policy, and bounties were made payable to all farmers, whether in necessitous circumstances or not. It is evident that the Country party does not represent the struggling farmers. It is composed largely of solicitors, doctors, journalists
-Order! The composition of the Country party is not before the House. The honorable member must discuss the bill.
– Many of the members of the Country party are interested in co-operative concerns which sell to the farmers the fertilizers on which bounty is paid under this legislation. They will get a rake-off from those companies. One industry in particular, the claims of which I have advocated from time to time, is deserving of some assistance to enable it to regain the overseas trade it has lost. In South Africa, assistance is given not only to primary production, but also to the mining industry - by means of a bounty on export coal. When we have asked for such a bounty, we have received very little consideration from the Government, particularly the Country party section of it. That party should adopt a more humane view of the needs of other languishing industries, the employees in which are on the bread line and suffer the pangs of hunger. It would appear that the Government does not intend to assist any industry that has not sufficient representation in this House to bring political pressure to bear upon it, definitely proving that its only consideration is political expediency.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Appropriation for Relief to Primary Producers).
.- I believe that assistance should be given only to those primary producers who are in necessitous circumstances. I hope that the press will publish my statement that any honorable member, being in receipt of a salary of £850 a year, is not entitled-
– Order ! The honorable member must confine his remarks to the clause.
– I understand that certain honorable members of this House will participate in the benefit to be derived under this measure. They are the honorable members for Echuca (Mr.
McEwen), Forrest (Mr. Prowse), Grey (Mr. McBride), and Riverina (Mr. Nock), and no doubt they will vote for the bill. I maintain that, being in receipt of £S50 a year, they are not in necessitous circumstances, and therefore, should not be assisted. If it is right that they should receive assistance, on account of their primaryproducing activities, it is also right that I should be assisted to provide employment in building operations and in the painting of houses already erected. I am prepared to give £1 a ton to farmers who are in necessitous circumstances. They have to battle against great odds, and are not receiving any support from their representatives in this chamber. I question the constitutionality of any subsidy payment made to a member of this Parliament. I wish to inform the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) that I am not opposed to the bill, nor do I object to assistance being given to those primary producers who are in need of it.
– The Chair is assuming that the honorable member proposes to move an amendment.
– I am speaking to the clause. As a business man, I object to the Government being given an open cheque. I never sign a blank cheque, hand it to my manager, and say to him, Fill it in for the amount you think you require “. Before I sign it he must tell >ne what sum he needs. If the honorable member for Macquarie had not been globe-trotting-
– Order ! The honorable member must confine his remarks to the clause.
– He would have known my attitude towards the principle of granting assistance to the primary producers. They have a good friend and advocate in me. Having worked among them, my knowledge of their needs is greater than that of some members of the Country party in this chamber. “When the honorable member for Echuca has supplied me with the information for which I have asked, I shall go to his electorate and tell the farmers there that it is the rich cockies who are being assisted by this Government.
.- I join with the honorable member for Deni son (Mr. Mahoney) in protesting against the Government being given the right to take from Consolidated Revenue any amount it may consider necessary for the payment of this subsidy. It is obvious to those honorable members who are impartial enough to view the matter as it should be viewed, that the Minister in charge of the bill (Mr. Thorby), and other members of the Country party who are supporting him in the attitude he is adopting, evidently have no knowledge of the interests which they are supposed to represent in this chamber. The name Country party is a misnomer, because that party comprises solicitors, doctors and exploiters generally who claim to be experts in rural matters. If we examined the records of this Parliament-
– Order ! The honorable member will not be in order in proceeding on those lines. He must confine his remarks to the clause before the committee.
– I am endeavouring to show how the time of this Parliament has been occupied unnecessarily in amending legislation introduced by Ministers representing the Country party who have no knowledge of rural industries. In this instance, we are asked to provide the Government with an open cheque, and thus enable it to use the amount in whatever manner it thinks fit. I have never regarded the members of the Country party as the representatives of small farming interests. They always use theninfluence in this Parliament so to amend legislation which has been placed on the statute-book for the sole purpose of assisting the necessitous farmers that they, too, are able to obtain benefits to which they are not entitled. Legislation has been passed by this Parliament from time to time to afford assistance to primary producers actually in need, but the principal objective of the members of the Country pa’rty is to seek the deletion of any provisions relating to necessitous primary producers so that they, too, may benefit.
– I again remind the honorable member that necessitous farmers are not dealt with in this bill, which is to amend the principal act in which the principle which he is discussing has been determined.
– The measure provides for an. increase of the appropriation, and I am endeavouring to show that the Government could, if it so desired, assist every necessitous farmer hy means of a subsidy on fertilizers without increasing the appropriation. The measure should be amended so that wealthy farmers should be deprived of the right to collect money to which they are not entitled. The bill provides for the deletion of a specific amount previously appropriated by Parliament, and for the insertion of the words “ such sums as are necessary “. Surely that means that we are increasing the appropriation to an amount which Parliament cannot assess. The members of the Labour party have never opposed any measure providing assistance to necessitous persons whether in the country or in the cities, but we have a particular objection to the revenues of this country, which are raised by taxing not only the farmers but also the workers in the cities, being used for the purpose of handing out unnecessarily large sums to farmers who are not in need of assistance. I stand by every word that I have said, and in that respect I am unlike some honorable members who have criticized my speeches, and who do not deliver in the country the same speeches as they deliver in the cities. I can always tell the electors the same story, because the members of the Labour party do not represent the wealthy sections of the community whether in the cities or in the country.
– Order ! The honorable member’s remarks are irrelevant, because the money is to be expended on a principle already approved by Parliament. If an amendment such as that mentioned by the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) were before the committee, his remarks would be in order.
– Then I shall conclude by voicing my emphatic protest against the action of the Government.
.- If the subsidy system is necessary, and I submit that it is, I do not think that a subsidy could be given more usefully than in respect of the use of fertilizers. For the last eleven years the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has received about £45,000 a year, or approximately £500,000 over the full period, in connexion with the manufacture of fertilizers.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) in order in discussing the fertilizer industry on this clause?
– I am following closely the remarks of the honorable member for Swan to ascertain how he proposes to connect them with the clause.
– I am referring to an industry engaged in the production o£ fertilizers which has received a subsidy - not a fixed amount, but a varying amount according to the tonnage produced.
– The honorable member will not be in order in making other than .a passing reference to the subject on this clause.
– What has been termed by some honorable members opposite as an open cheque has been given to that industry, and with that fact in mind it is surprising that there should be any opposition to this proposal. Similar provision has been made in other measures passed by this Parliament to grant subsidies of unspecified amounts to other industries.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 12th March (vide page 117), on motion by Mr. Thorby -
That the bill he now read a second time.
.- I do not propose to offer any opposition to the passage of the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill received from the Senate and (on motion by Mr. Thorby) read a first time.
Bill received from the Senate and (on motion by Mr. Thorby) read a first time.
commonwealth GRANT to tasmania–
Motion by Mr. Archdale Parkhill proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- In view of the nature of a reply which the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) gave to a question which I asked upon notice to-day, I direct attention to the unfair treatment that is being meted out to Tasmania in connexion with the making of Commonwealth grants to necessitous States. I desire that the recommendation of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, in its report of last year, be fully honoured. The recommendations of the commission in respect of South Australia and Western Australia have been adopted by the Government, but its recommendation in regard to Tasmania has not been approved. Repeated requests have been made ever since the publication of the report that the Government should give effect to the recommendation contained in it in regard to Tasmania, but so far without success. The recommendation appears on pages 82 and 83 of the report. I do not wish to read it again for it already appears in Hansard. The Commonwealth Grants Commission was appointed by the Lyons Government and made a careful and exhaustive inquiry into the circumstances of the three claimant States. I can see no reason why the Government should differentiate against Tasmania seeing that it has, for many years now, been doing its utmost to conserve its resources and live within its means. No justification can be advanced for giving better treatment to other States which have not such a satisfactory record in this regard. The social services of Tasmania have, for many years, been on a lower scale than those of other States. Unfortunately this is not the first occasion on which the recommendations of a royal commission appointed to consider the granting of financial assistance to Tasmania have been disregarded. The Lockyer royal commission submitted a comprehensive report in 1926 on the whole subject. On that occasion Sir Nicholas Lockyer, who was sole commissioner, made the following recommendations for the assistance of Tasmania : -
The present Prime Minister of the Commonwealth (Mr. Lyons) was then the Premier of Tasmania, and he, together with members of both Houses of the State Parliament, expressed considerable disappointment at the failure of the Commonwealth to implement the report. Both Houses of the State Parliament carried motions to that effect. To put it in popular language, the report on that occasion was treated as “ a scrap of paper “. Apparently that is also to be the fate of the report made last year by the Commonwealth Grants Commission in so far as it affects Tasmania although it is substantially the same as the Lockyer report. In reply to the question I asked him to-day on this subject, the Prime Minister stated : -
So far as the recommendation regarding forestry is concerned, the Commonwealth has agreed to make further grants to Tasmania, as well as the other States, in 1936-37 and 1937-38. The original grant to Tasmania for forestry, which was authorized in April, 1935, was £25,000. Of this amount, £19,000 has so far been drawn by the State and a balance of £6,000 remains. For 1936-37, the Commonwealth proposes to recommend to Parliament the granting of £12,500 to Tasmania for forestry, and a further £0,250 in the following year. The whole position in regard to grants to Tasmania will be further considered Uy the Government at the end of the present financial year.
The Government and people of Tasmania regard the position as most unsatisfactory. The recommendation of the commission was adopted as regards other States, but not completely honoured in the case of Tasmania. That State expects a long-term grant on the lines recommended by the commission, so that its forestry policy may be developed, ami this important, but wasting asset, coneserved. Apparently the position of Tasmania, as regards Commonwealth forestry policy, has been considered ‘ in relation to the claims of other States, and Tasmania has received its share of the grant; but that is not what was recommended by the Grants Commission. If its recommendation is not to be honoured, what is the use of incurring expenditure in inquiring into the disabilities of a State? I hope that the Government will give some consideration to the requests made by the Premier of Tasmania and other State Ministers, and to the representations made by Tasmanian members in this House. 1 enter my strong protest against the Government’s failure to give full effect to the recommendation of the commission, and I sincerely hope that the matter will receive further consideration.
– I again direct the attention of the Minister representing the Postmaster-General (Mr. Parkhill) to the urgent need for the erection of a new post office in Rundle-street, Adelaide. I have mentioned this matter on several occasions during the last six or seven years, and I understand that an amount has been placed on the Estimates to provide for a new building. When last I spoke on this subject, I was informed that plans had been prepared and that the work would be put in hand as soon as possible. As nothing has been done since then, I shall be obliged if the Minister will inform me what has become of the plans, and if it is the intention of the Government to carry out the work. Rundle-street is the principal shopping thoroughfare of
Adelaide, and the present post office is an absolute disgrace. On a former occasion I likened the existing building to a pawnbroker’s shop, and as the condition of the building is now worse than it was, I doubt that a respectable pawnbroker would care to occupy it. As South Australia is this year celebrating its centenary, I hope that the Minister will make inquiries and endeavour to expedite the work.
– With reference to my statement of yesterday on the demilitarized zone of the Rhineland, I desire to inform honorable members that information has been received by the Commonwealth Government from London, stating that after the meeting of the representatives of the Locarno Powers on Thursday, an official communique was issued to the effect that it was unanimously recognized by those powers that the re-occupation of the demilitarized zone by Germany constituted a clear violation of articles 42 and 43 of the Treaty of Versailles and of the Treaty of Locarno, and that it would be for the Council of the League to pronounce upon this point. The matter is to be further considered in committee this morning.
– I shall be obliged if the Minister in charge of the House (Mr. Parkhill) will refer to Cabinet the position of Australian shareholders in New Zealand Perpetual Forests Limited. As is well known, a large number of Australian citizens have investments in that enterprise, and they are anxious to know where they stand with regard to the recent re-organization in New Zealand. I understand that the Government of Victoria, as well as the Government of New Zealand, has taken action to appoint a royal commission to inquire into tha stability of the company. On the 30th January, the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), in reply to a deputation, promised that the matter would be referred to the Attorney-General’s Department. Probably this has been done, and I have been asked to inquire if any advice had been received, and also to do what I can to expedite action, because Australian shareholders are very much concerned about their position.
I also ask the honorable gentleman if ho will ascertain what steps have been taken to effect repairs to the post office garage in South Melbourne. The staff has again approached me to inquire when the alterations will be put in hand.
– I shall bring to the notice of the PostmasterGeneral (Senator McLachlan) the representation of the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey) with reference to the Rundle-street post office, and also the request made by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) concerning repairs to the post office garage at South Melbourne. Funds for the latter work have been placed on the Estimates, and I think it is only a matter of expediting the work. There must be some real reason for the delay which has occurred.
The remarks of the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard), in regard to the provision of grants for the State of Tasmania, are very important. I shall make it my business to bring them under the notice of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons).
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) has drawn attention to the fact that to-day there is considerable apprehension among people who have invested in New Zealand Perpetual Forests Limited. I shall bring his remarks under the notice of the Prime Minister to see if there is anything that can or should be done by the Commonwealth with regard to the matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.11 p.m.
Thefollowing answers to questions lucre circulated: -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he authorize the printing of the report prepared by Sir Frederick Stewart on shorter working hours and national insurance; if not, why not?
– Reports furnished to the Government by the Honorable Sir
Frederick Stewart, M.P., embodying the results of his investigations abroad in relation to employment and social insurance, respectively, will be laid on the table of the House to-day, and I propose to move that they be printed. Pending the printing of the report, a limited number of stencilled copies will be available in the library for the use of honorable members.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s question are as follows : - 1 and 2. No special report or statement on this question has been submitted to the Government by Sir Frederick Stewart. The extraction of oil from coal is, however, dealt with at pages 28-32 of his report on employment which is being tabled in the House to-day.
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Ottawa Conference, 1932.
Disarmament Conference, 1932.
League of Nations, 1932.
M.C., M.P., the Eight Honorable W. M. Hughes, K.C., M.P., Sir Donald Cameron, K.C.M.G., D. S.O., V.D., Mr. J. E. Collins, C.M.G., C.B.E., Mr. F. Alexander, Mrs. E. Osborne. Mr. O. C. W. Fuhrman, O.B.E. 3.£ 1,344. (Sir Donald Cameron and Mr. Hughes abroad on private business. Expenses in connexion with attendance at Geneva only.)
Mandates Commission, 1932.
Postal Congress, Cairo, 1934.
Japanese Goodwill Mission, 1934.
Mission to New Zealand, 1934.
Defence Mission to New Zealand, . 1934. 1.. The Eight Honorable Sir GeorgePearce, K.C.V.O.
Ministerial Visit to New Guinea, 1933.
Ministerial Visit to New Guinea, 1935.
Ministerial Visit to Norfolk Island,1935.
International Labour Office Conference, Geneva, 1935.
Ministerial Delegation, London, 1935.
PrivyCouncil Appeals, 1936.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
In connexion with the placing of treasurybills on . the open market, did the Commonwealth Bank Board consult with the Government as to the issue and rate of interest?
– The management of the treasury-bill issue being entirely in the hands of the Commonwealth Bank, the bank is at liberty to offer any proportion of its holdings for re-discount as it thinks fit. The Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board advised, but did not consult the Treasurer, in his capacity as Chairman of the Loan Council, regarding its proposal to sell £1,000,000 of its own holdings of treasury-bills to the public on terms which were announced on the 28 th February. The Chairman of the Loan Council advised all members of the council of the proposal.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Appointment of Commissions and Boards of Inquiry.
Mr.Watkins asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What commissions, boards of inquiry, and the like, have been appointed by the Government since 1st July, 1932?
What is the cost of each to date?
s. - The information is being obtained, and will be furnished to the honorable member as soon as possible.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. The total amount which has been expended by the Commonwealth in the search for flow oil is £578,290, of which £25,000 was contributed by the British Government. The expenditure is made up as follows: - Boring for oil in Papua (prior to 1926), £364,505; geological survey, Territory of New Guinea (prior to 1926), £4,285; expenditure in States and Territories from appropriation provided by Petroleum Prospecting Act 1920-1928, £207,000; special appropriation - Freney Kimberley Oil Company Limited, £2,500.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. No approach has been made by the Government of the United Kingdom on the subject of the resumption of migration to Australia. The Government has, however, received copies of the Report of the InterDepartmental Committee on Migration Policy, which was published in August, 1934. This committee was appointed by the Government of the United Kingdom to advise as to the extent and manner in which, if at all, the United Kingdom Government should in future encourage and assist migration from the United Kingdom to the oversea parts of the British Empire. 3, In the event of negotiations being entered into with the United Kingdom- Government the governments of the States will be fully consulted before any decision is arrived at.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice - 1, Has the Government entered into any trade agreements with foreign countries? 2, If so, will Parliament be advised as to the nature of these agreements, and when will an opportunity be given to discuss them?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government to appoint an interstate commission as indicated by the Prime Minister in his policy speech; if so, when?
– This matter is at present under consideration by the Government, and the House will be informed as soon as a decision has been arrived at.
s asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– Tenders will be called within the next few weeks, but it is considered inadvisable, in the public interest, to make available the other information asked for.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Willhe favorably consider Commonwealth provision, in case of illness of pensioners (old-age, invalid and war) of free transport to and from hospitals, and, in the emergency of accident or sudden illness, of free medical treatment at homo with free medicine?
– There is no provision in the Invalid and Old- Age Pensions Act under which the services referred to could be provided. In view of the large and annually increasing expenditure in respect of invalid and old-age pensions, the Government is unable to see its way to extend the range of benefits already provided.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Nutrition: Investigation in
n asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
The Director-General of Health, as chairman.
Sir David Rivett, representing the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research;
Professor Wadham, Professor of Agriculture, Melbourne University;
Professor Harvey Sutton, Professor of Public Health, Sydney University;
One professor from each of the medical schools in Australia.
The inquiry will have relation especially to nutrition in relation to maternal and child welfare, industry and unemployment, health of native races under Australian control, but will investigate other aspects in conformity with general principles laid down by a committee established by the League of Nations. The detail of the method of inquiry will be formulated by the council.
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained, and will be furnished to the honorable member as soon as possible.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. So far as the recommendation regarding forestry is concerned, the Commonwealth has agreed to make further grants to Tasmania, as well as the other State3, in 1936-37 and 1937-38. The original grant to Tasmania for forestry, which was authorized in April, L935, was £25,000. Of this amount, £19,000 has so far been drawn by the State, and a balance of- f 0,000 remains. For 1936-37 the Commonwealth proposes to recommend to Parliament, the granting of £12,500 to Tasmania for forestry, and a further £6,250 in the following year. The whole position in regard to grunts to Tasmania will be further considered by the Government at the end of the present financial year.
y asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Australian Funds in London.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
e asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What was the amount of London funds to the credit of Australia at the 30th June, 1931, 30th June, 1935, 1st March, 1936, or the latest date for which figures are available?
– Inquiries are being made, and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
Importations op Fish.
d asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What was the total value of fish - fresh, preserved, dried, and cured - imported into Australia during the years 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933 and 1934?
– The value, of importations into Australia of fish during the years 1929-30 to 1934-35 is as follows.–
Commonwealth Railways : Tender for CattleWagons.
e asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 March 1936, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1936/19360313_reps_14_149/>.