14th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon.G. J. Bell) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Can the Minister for Defence give to the House any information concerning the return to Australia of H.M.A.S. Australia and H.M.A.S. Sydney, which, we understand, are now in the Mediterranean ?
– I am unable to give any information at present, but as soon as I am in a position to doso I shall take the House into my confidence.
– Yesterday the Sydney Sum published the statement that the High Commissioner for Australia in London, Mr. Bruce, the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) and the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) had informed the British Government that Australia was anxious for the removal at the earliest possible moment of the sanctions imposed against italy. Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether that statement is correct, or can he give any information on the matter?
– I have no information as to what the gentlemen referred to have done, but doubt very much whether they have taken any action with respect to this matter, because the Government has neither issued instructions to nor been in communication with them upon it, and it is now under consideration.
– Can the Acting Minister for Commerce inform the House of the extent to which Australia has suffered because of the imposition of sanctions against Italy?
– In the absence of the Acting Minister for Commerce, I inform the honorable member that this question was asked, upon notice, and answered thi 8 week.
– In view of the existing position with regard to the imposition of sanctions and the opinion of the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Hughes) that sanctions are an empty gesture doomed to failure, can the Prime Minister suggest a means by which item 16 of the Orders of the Day, dealing with the resignation of the Minister for Health and Repatriation, can be discharged from the notice-paper with some degree of dignity and without undue ceremony ?
– The item on the noticepaper to which tho honorable member has referred is of no great importance at the present time. The Minister for Repatriation still holds office in that capacity; he is a member of the Government and in full agreement with its policy, and he will take a full part in framing its future policy.
– When will the House have an opportunity to discuss item 16 of the Orders of the Day?
– The Government has no intention to give the House an opportunity to discuss it.
– Will the Prime Minister indicate when the Commonwealth Government proposes to invite offers from interested parties for the reopening of the Newnes shale oil deposits?
– I hope that the Government will be in a position at a reasonably early date to take the action referred to. Recently, in this House, I said, in regard to the associated matter of the search for now oil, that I did not expect to be able to submit a proposition to Parliament before it went into recess. As it now appears that the present sittings will continue for a little longer than was anticipated, the Government hopes to place a proposal before honorable members for their consideration.
– Will the Minister for Health consider the advisability of making the treatment of cancer a national function, and of defraying the cost of bringing country sufferers to metropolitan areas, where they may receive more specialized treatment than is available in their own districts?
– This matter is one of supreme importance, and I can hardly deal with it offhand. If the honorable gentleman wishes to learn my personal view, I can state it in very few words. 1 am of the opinion that the treatment of cancer should be made a national matter. The honorable gentleman will, of course, realize that in order to translate this view into action the co-operation of the States 13 essential. I am not without hope that this may be achieved. I am entirely in favour of the transport free of cost to themselves of sufferers from cancer in the remoter districts to centres in which the latest appliances are available. But in that matter also the Commonwealth has a divided duty and a divided responsibility, without any power whatsoever. The matter is now being discussed at the Cancer Conference and I am hopeful that upon the return of Dr. Cumpston to Canberra, I may be able to go into it along the lines suggested by the honorable gentleman. I shall take an early opportunityto make him acquainted with the results of the conference.
– On the 5th May, the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) raised the question of the presence of sampans in northern waters. I then gave the honorable member all the information that I had in regard to the waters of the Northern Territory. Later on the same day, I received a telegram from the Administrator at Darwin, giving further particulars. On “Wednesday night the honorable member again referred to the matter, but I was not afforded an opportunity to reply to him. The telegram which has been received from the Administrator reads as follows : -
Charles Gordon Fraser, of Melbourne, who has been out on pearl bed, reported to me this morning that on 25th Aprilhe saw in Apsley Strait at Gordon Bay 21 Japanese luggers each about 65 feet long, and well equipped, some registered Tokyo, some Osaka, and other Japanese ports. Believe these luggers obtain water from Melville Island. Anchored about four or five miles out was a ketch rigged boat about 200 to 300 tons. Photographs were taken, and I shall endeavour to obtain some.
It is presumed that the boats in question were pearling luggers, which are known to be working the pearling beds outside territorial waters off the coast of Melville and Bathurst islands. The large ketch evidently was one of the “ mother “ ships working with the pearling luggers. For the information of the honorable member I may state that the patrol boat from the Northern Territory is now on its way to Darwin, where it should arrive in about ten days’ time. “When placed in commission, it willbe able to attend to any cases of poaching in the territorial waters of the territory.
– For the special benefit of honorable members who live in distant States, can the Prime Minister approximate the date upon which Parliament will go into recess?
– I can only approximate it. I hope that we may be able to complete in another two weeks’ sittings the business which has to be disposed of. It is intended that this House shall meet next Tuesday, and sit for three days only, in order that honorable members, who have an occasional opportunity to return to their homes, may have a long weekend. The sitting days in the following week will beWednesday, Thursday and Friday. It may suit the convenience of honorable members to commence the sittings in the morning during one of those two weeks, in order to dispose of the business before the House.
-Will the Minister for the Interior state whether it is intended to proceed during this period of the session with the Nationality Bill 1934?
– Has the attention of the Minister for Defence been drawn to the report that the Government of Victoria proposes to make available for building purposes land held by the State at Fishermen’s Bend ? If so, will he make another effort to secure a portion of that area for the purposes of an air-port?
– I have not seen this report. I have made a number of representations on this matter, and, realizing its importance, shall be glad to take into consideration the suggestion which the honorable member has made.
Free Ammunition Issue
– Has the Minister for Defence had an opportunity to consider the representations which have been made on behalf of the rifle clubs of Australia, with a view to their being placed in the position which they occupied last year in connexion with the distribution of ammunition?
– I realize the very great value of rifle clubs in the defence organization of Australia. But the reserves of ammunition have not yet been built up sufficiently to enable the department to restore them to the position which they occupied some time ago in regard to the free issue of ammunition. The matter is being kept in mind, however, so that this action may be taken at the earliest opportunity.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether the published report is correct, that a compromise has been reached between the Cabinet and certain Ministerial members in regard to the duties on cement? If it is, has the suggested compromise been submitted to the British Government? If so, does not the Government regard this as an abrogation of the self-governing right of a dominion to determine its own policy upon such an important matter?
– It is not customary to reply to questions of this nature, even when asked upon notice, but in this case I may say that there is no compromise; consequently the Government does not need, nor does it intend, to submit the matter to the British Government.
– In view of the con tinued buoyancy of customs revenue, recent figures having disclosed an increase of approximately £3,000,000 indicating a considerable volume of imports, can the Treasurer inform the House of the present position of London balances. Is there any justification for the suggestion emanating from Great Britain that it may be necessary for Australia to resume borrowing in that quarter ?
– I have no recent figures in regard to the balance of trade, but can say that there has been a continuous betterment of the position from the Australian viewpoint since the matter was discussed in this House. Any references which may have been made, either in Australia or in London, to an alleged intention to resume borrowing in Great Britain are entirely without foundation or authority.
Central Administrative Block
– In view of the press statement that the Government is considering the erection of a less ambitious central administrative block of offices than was previously intended, the fact that this provisional Parliament House has not sufficient capacity to provide the requisite accommodation for members of Parliament and parliamentary officials, and the necessity to provide employment, will the Prime Minister state whether the Government will consider as an alternative the erection of the permanent Parliament House, thus enabling this building to be utilized for administrative purposes ?
– The Government has no intention to replace this Parliament House with a new building.
Residence in Melbourne.
– Will the Minister for the Interior state whether any further steps have been taken for the provision of a residence for the Governor-General in Melbourne?
– No steps have been taken in this direction.
– Can the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties give an approximate date for the review of the Ottawa agreement, and can he say what is likely to happen when that time arrives ?
– The Ottawa agreement operates for five years, after which its discontinuation is subject to six months’ notice on either side. The second part of the honorable member’s question raises a question of policy upon which it is not usual to give information in answer to a question.
– Is it a fact that the Treasurer stated recently that further relief from taxation may be expected next year, and, if so, will the Government give consideration to the introduction of penny postage?
– If the honorable member is referring to the report of a deputation, which appeared in the Melbourne press of yesterday evening, I have to state that that report is an entire fabrication. The deputation did not mention either retrospective taxation or reductions of taxation, nor did I make any of the replies which are attributed to me in the press. A deputation approached me on certain technical aspects of the Taxation Bill now before Parliament. A senior taxation officer, who was present at the deputation, supports my statement that the subjects referred to in the press report were not even mentioned.
– Can the Minister for Defence give the House any information regarding the progress of negotiations in connexion with the Imperial Air Mail?
– Preliminary conversations have taken place, but nothing of a nature sufficiently definite to justify a statement in the House has transpired. The matter is still under discussion, and I understand that a further conference will take place during this week-end.
– Can the Minister say whether there is any truth in the published reports that, while the Imperial Government is pressing the Commonwealth Government to agree to an air mail service with flying boats, which will have to cross large areas of dry land in Australia, preparations are being made to inaugurate an air mail service across the Atlantic with multi-engined land machines ?
– I am unable to say whether the report outlined by the honorable member is correct. Imperial Airways proposes to establish an Atlantic service, but I have no definite information as to the nature of the machines it proposes to use.
– Some days ago, I asked a question relating to the export of stud merino sheep from Australia. In view of the fact that I haves not yet received a reply, although the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) obtained, in a few minutes’ telephonic communication, similar information to that which I sought, can the Minister say when I am likely to receive a reply to my question?
– I shall have inquiries made while the House is sitting, and, if possible, supply the honorable member with an answer to-day.
– Can the Minister for the Interior say what progress has been made towards providing a public hospital for Alice Springs?
– I shall obtain the information for the honorable member.
– I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether the rule, that questions based on newspaper reports may not be asked, is still in operation? By way of explanation, I point out that about half the questions asked in this House are based on newspaper reports, and, in respect of about 75 per cent, of them, Ministers reply that there is no foundation for the reports.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).The rule provides that it is not iu order to ask whether statements made in a newspaper are correct, but attention may be drawn to such statements if the member asking the question makes himself responsible for their accuracy. I admit that the Chair has not enforced the latter part of the rule.
– In view of the necessity for full information in regard to the 40- hour working week being available to the public, will the Prime Minister see that all future issues to the public of the report of the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) on this subject will include the questions asked in Parliament on the subject, and the replies thereto, as well as the division lists on votes taken in relation to the matter?
– I do not think that there is any need to give publicity to the division lists on the subject, and I had thought that the honorable member would be satisfied to leave things as they are.
– Oan the Prime Minister say whether he intends to receive the deputation requested by the Censorship of Books Prohibition League, and, if not, will he make a statement on the subject before the House adjourns for the winter recess?
– I hope to make an early statement on this subject, which will, I hope, render a deputation unnecessary.
– Is the Minister for the
Interior aware that theGovernment of Western Australia has sent Mr. H. A. Ellis to Alice Springs, in order to investigate the Hummerston bogus find of Lasseter’s Reef, and is his department co-operating with theGovernment of Western Australia in taking appropriate action against Mr. Hummerston?
– Until the honorable member asked his question I was not aware of the action taken by the Government of Western Australia.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In Committee of Supply (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Casey) agreed to -
That there he granted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the services of the year 1936-37 a sum not exceeding £7,236,800.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
.- I move-
That towards making good the Supply granted to His Majesty for the services of the year 1936-37, there be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, a sum not exceeding £7,236,800.
The bill to be submitted following the passage of this resolution, makes provision for an amount of £7,263,800 for ordinary services for the period of the first three months of the financial year 1936-37. This provision is necessary, because, at the conclusion of the present sittings, Parliament will not be called together again before the 1st July next. This is the usual practice adopted every year. The amount includes the following sums : -
The details of these sums are based on the appropriation passed by Parliament for the current year, and represent approximately one-quarter of the total appropriation for the year except in a few cases, where the expenditure on any particular item is unnecessarily heavy in the first quarter of the financial year. In addition, the usual provisions are made for refunds of revenue and advance to the Treasurer of £500,000 and £1,500,000 respectively. The provision under “ Advance to the Treasurer “ is required to carry on uncompleted works in progress at the 30th June, 1936, and to cover unforeseen and miscellaneous expenditure. The payments of the special grants to South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania will be continued on the same basis as the grants approved by Parliament for the present financial year, pending the introduction of new bills for the payment of grants during 1936-37 based on recommendations of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. The bill makes provision only for the amount estimated to be required to carry on essential services on the basis of and proportionate to the appropriation for the current financial year. It does not provide for any new expenditure or for any departure from existing policy. Although the approval of Parliament is now being sought for three months’ supply, it is the intention of the Government to ask Parliament to meet again before the expiration of that period of three months, and, in the ordinary course of events, the budget will then be introduced, which will give Parliament an opportunity to discuss in detail the Government’s proposals for the next financial year, as reflected in that budget. It is too early now to forecast with any accuracy the financial results of the present financial year, except to say that there is every expectation that, from a revenue point of view, it will end satisfactorily. It would be of no benefit to honorable members for me to make any prognostication at the present juncture of what the excess of receipts over expenditure is likely to be at the end of the present financial year.
.- Although there may be precedents which would make it appear that the procedure which the Government is now following is quite normal, none the less its effect is to frustrate and make difficult parliamentary control over the public purse-. The conception of Supply, as I understand it, in the history of parliamentary government in the British-speaking world, is that it is a temporary provision which Parliament gives to the Crown in order that services may be carried on, and for which it would otherwise be difficult or impracticable to secure the usual parliamentary authorization. That is to say, Supply would be given before the end of one financial year for the first month or for the first six weeks of the next financial year, and during that period Parliament would have submitted to it the substantial budgetary proposals for that year. Parliament would thereby preserve its authority over public expenditure. But the practice which this Parliament has allowed to develop makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for Parliament to exert a check over what it may really believe to be improper, wasteful or unjustified commitments which the Government incurs, and for which the country has to pay. In his concluding remarks, the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) said that it is at present too early to inform the Blouse precisely what the financial position will be at the end of the current year. If it is too early now to appreciate fully the financial position of the country at the end of the current financial year, I submit that that is the best reason for this Parliament refusing to provide funds to meet expenditure for any undue portion of the next financial year. It seems to me to be wrong that in the month of May, this Parliament should be asked to provide for governmental expenditure tip to the end of September. As I view the relationship of Parliament to the Crown, such a practice jeopardizes the right to control expenditure, which Parliament, as custodian of the peoples’ purse, should discharge properly. The proper remedy for this situation would be for Parliament to meet much earlier in each financial year, and I know of no reason “why that should not be done. It is perfectly true that the Treasurer has said that it is the intention of the Government to ask Parliament to meet before the end of September - if that were not the case, the Government would now have to ask for Supply for a longer period - but, in making that intimation, the Treasurer is not obliging us ; he is merely discharging an imperative necessity, and is not acknowledging in any way a duty which the Government owes to Parliament. Of course, when Parliament assembles in September, the Budget will be introduced ; but, in order that Parliament may be given adequate time to consider it, and to review its details properly and deliberatively, I venture the opinion that further Supply will have to be asked for by the Government, however short the period may be. If that is not the case, then our treatment of the Budget speech will be more or less perfunctory and unsatisfactory. I quite recognize that the Supply now- being sought is for essential services of the nation, and I know that the arithmetical method which the Treasurer has employed in arriving at the various sums provided for in the bill is the usual one - that is to say, if the Government were asking for two months’ Supply he would ask for approximately two thirds of the amount now being asked for - but the importance of maintaining control by Parliament over the public purse must be emphasized. Nominal control is not sufficient. The deliberative capacity of Parliament in examination of the details of public expenditure is rendered exceedingly difficult by these practices. As a matter of fact, the development which has taken place in regard to the relationship of Government to the Parliament in respect of public expenditure over a number of years has probably brought us to the stage where we have to acknowledge that we are the victims of procedure, and, in effect, that the Government and not the Parliament is the custodian of the public purse. It is a dangerous development which transfers from the representatives of the people to the Executive what is, in fact, the major duty cast upon the representatives of the people, and I warn democracy that, in the control of public expenditure, lies its greatest safeguard. A government that has command over public expenditure for a lengthy period can shut up Parliament. As a matter of fact, if Supply were granted for six months, instead of three months, it would not be necessary for this Parliament to be summoned until towards the end of November. Therefore, in granting Supply to any Government, Parliament must always keep well in mind the certainty that, for the period covered by the Supply Bill, it hands over to the Executive complete authority in respect of the control of our national life. I say “ complete authority “, because, in a great number of statutes, already part of our system of law, authority is vested in the Executive to frame regulations, and these, in practice, although theoretically they may not run counter to the provisions of the statute, are all too often an elaboration of new principles, and all too frequently an excessive enlargement of the powers which the statute was intended to confer upon the Government. This practice not only threatens Parliamentary government, but is one which should be sparingly adopted, and only under emergency conditions.
If it were impracticable for Parliament to meet before the end of September, I should say that we must grant Supply until then, but that is not the ease. There is no reason why this Parliament should not meet in July or in August. I can appreciate the fact that the Treasury officials would not be able to complete the preparation of the Budget before the end of July, and that, therefore, it would not be reasonable to meet until the end of July or in August. I am not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, but I venture to prophesy that Parliament will not be called together until the end of September, that the Budget will not be brought down until the middle of October, and that we will be invited to give a further extension of Supply to the Government.
.- I take the opportunity of the introduction of this Supply Bill to arrest the attention of the Parliament and the Government on certain specific aspects of our financial position, and to make one or two suggestions as to what might be done to meet the situation.
Recently, the position m regard to our London funds has been causing a good deal of anxiety in the minds of those who have been closely following our financial operations. Happily, that anxiety has decreased somewhat, for Australia’s position is now much better that it was even six months ago, but even as recently as that the grave anxiety that was felt in some quarters was, I am sure, shared by the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) himself, and we wondered what was likely to occur in the near future. We are constantly sail’ ing close to the wind, and although the figures recently published have been quite encouraging we have no reason to be unduly complacent about the situation. It is possible that this year our excess of exports over imports will be sufficient to meet our overseas interest obligations, though we cannot even yet say that it will be so, for we do not know what the next two or three months will bring forth; but no one can foresee what will happen next year. It is well known that a big hole was made last year in our London reserves, and the position in that respect should be strengthened without delay. We must remember that we have been passing through a series of very good seasons, but we have no such thing as a drought reserve in connexion with our London funds.
That is all I wish to say about that aspect of the subject. I wish to concentrate on a position that is likely to develop next year, and to suggest one or two ways in which we could do something to prevent an awkward situation from arising. Next year a big exodus will probably occur from Australia to Great Britain in consequence of the Coronation. Many people have, in fact, already booked their passages. No one can estimate how large the exodus will be. A considerable exodus occurred in the Jubilee Year, though I confess that it was not so large as I expected it to be. Our anticipations of a large exodus to the Coronation may not be fully realized; but, in any case, we know that a very big drain will be made on pur London funds by the issuing of letters of credit to tourists who go abroad. That is one means of depleting our overseas funds which is equivalent to an excess of imports, but this aspect of the subject is very often lost sight of when we are calculating our possible London resources. Too frequently we take into account only our exports and imports, and disregard other financial movements which affect the position. One thing which has helped our position in London lately has been the inflow of capital to Australia for investment, largely in mining enterprises. I am glad that this is continuing, because it is easing the situation in London, but there comes n halt to the movements of capital, and frequently a backward movement develops. After all, the capital invested in this country by overseas investors is intended to return interest and dividends, and these make a drain on our resources in London.
It is, however, the tourist aspect of the subject with which I am particularly concerned at the moment. Definite statistics on this subject are not available, but on the advice that I have been able to get from our various departments, it is a fair assumption that the outgoing of tourists and the money spent in that connexion are about three times as great as the incoming of tourists and the money they spend in Australia. We should strive to secure a better balance of the tourist trade. I do not accept the extravagant figures which I have seen published recently as to the drain on our London funds which is likely to occur next year in consequence of our people going overseas to attend the Coronation and other ceremonies. One statement puts the figure down at £30,000,000. That, of course, is absurd. At the same time, the amount will be large, and we cannot afford to ignore it. It is possible to ascertain how much will be spent in fares, but any estimate of other expenditure by tourists is largely conjecture. Nobody can say with any certainty how much people spend in hotel accommodation, travelling and purchases when they go abroad.
– What is the volume of the tourist trade from Australia?
– I understand that it is about 20,000 a year, but many of the travellers go to New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, and elsewhere than Great Britain and Europe. From 6,000 to 8,000 people go to Europe each year. I suppose the calculation of £30,000,000 that I have just referred to was formed on the assumption that 20,000 people or so would go to Great Britain, and that they spend so much a head; but. we cannot obtain specific information on a subject of this- kind, and all the calculations that have been made are largely guesswork. Nevertheless tourist traffic involves a heavy drain on our London funds. If it were more of a two-way traffic it would be greatly to the advantage of Australia.
– Hear, hear!
– We have concerned ourselves very rightly with the development of our Austraiian industries so as to limit importations as far as possible. That i3, perhaps, the most important thing that we can do to protect our London funds; but subsidiary activities would help very considerably. The encouragement of tourist traffic to Australia would bring new business here, and counteract the outflow of money in consequence of overseas travelling by our citizens. I am not unmindful of the fact that the Australian National Travel Association is doing remarkably fine work. It is being subsidized, it is true, and its periodica] publication is creditable. Unfortunately, it has a limited circulation, for the cost of it is too great to ensure its wide distribution. Something more could bc done in that connexion. Some honora’ble members may think that I am obsessed about the position of our London funds and Australia’s future credit, and that I am pessimistic in speaking of droughts and a possible fall of prices in respect of our export goods. It is. true that I have prophesied in days gone by, and some honorable members opposite may assume that my prophecies have never been fulfilled; but unfortunately, in certain respects, that is not so, for when I was Prime Minister I had to face the debacle consequent upon the fulfilment of one of my own prophecies. .Recently several fortuitous circumstances have helped Australia. There has been, for example, a large increase of our gold yield. As I have also said, new capital has been invested in Australia. We have been favoured, too, with rising prices for our wool. We have, in fact, been remarkably fortunate in that we have not struck another crisis such as that of 1929-31. I do not wish to be considered a Jeremiah, but I believe that we should face the position that may arise nest year, or that may follow a fall of prices, or a reduction of our output through bad seasons. I also think that we ought to take into particular consideration the possible effect of the large outgoing of tourists next year. Any synchronization of these various circumstances could easily bring about a serious state of affairs. Ohe precautionary step that we can take is to watch our imports and keep them down as much as possible. Another is to limit credits to overseas travellers. I do not suggest any active step in the latter direction at the moment. I do not like negative policies, but it may become necessary for the Government to provide for some control of letters of credit through, the Commonwealth Bank which, in turn, would deal with the other banks. I would prefer, however, to offset the outgoing tourist trade by encouraging tourists to visit Australia. We do not advertise Australia enough. When I consider what some other countries have done in the way of issuing literature and so forth, I am confirmed in my view that we do not do enough of that kind of work. What we regard as the American “ penny dreadfuls “, which relate stories of adventure and danger, glorify even the desert and wild country, as well as the beautiful scenery, of the United States of America. Too much stress is laid on the loneliness of our vast plains, but I confess that I am often fascinated as I cross the Nullabor Plains. We have in Australia remarkable and interesting phenomena. Our scenery is equal to anything in the world. Wo , have one of the wonders of the world in the Great Barrier Reef. While the scenic attractions of Australia are advertised somewhat by means of films in this country, very little is done in that regard beyond our borders. Not too much of it is done in Australia. A great deal more of that class of propaganda would be advantageous to this country. We should advertise ‘Australia to our own people, and encourage them to travel within their own country, for we have scenic beauties to offer them, quite as attractive as any that they would pay large amounts to see in overseas countries. But more should ako be done to advertise Australia abroad. The valuable information gathered by the Australian National Travel Association has been well written up, for some fine journalists are engaged to do that work. The publicity officer of the association in the United States of America is also doing good work. Little booklets which could be produced at little cost could be made a valuable agency. Copies might be handed to tourists, or placed in. their berths in boats, or distributed in hotels and elsewhere. It is highly necessary that our own people who leave Australia to travel abroad should be furnished with sound information in a small compass to enable them to talk more intelligently than they sometimes do about their own country. One thing that pained me when I was travelling abroad was to hear some Australians “ knock “ their own country, when they should have praised it. This Parliament and the Government should give a lead to our citizens by providing them with literature which would set out clearly and attractively the advantages of Australia to tourists. I suggest, not that we decry other countries, but that we should publish to the world descriptions and pictures of some of the wonderful gifts that nature has bestowed upon. us. Prominent citizens of Australia in all walks of life frequently go overseas. Leaders in sport, commerce, finance, and other spheres who travel could easily be provided with interested audiences if they would talk about their country; but it is essential that they should first be provided with authoritative data. Not everybody, of course, has the gift of fluency of speech or ready thought. We who listen day in and day out to speeches in this House may assume that it is easy for anybody to deliver an address; but that is far from being the case. I am sure taa! the . British Broadcasting Commission would be quite willing to make provision for prominent Australian citizens to speak over the air on Australia while they arc abroa*d. This could not be done for everybody, but more use could be made of the radio. The Broadcasting Commission was anxious to obtain the services of various delegates to the I.mperia.1 Conference that I attended to deliver addresses on the air. I had the opportunity to broadcast on occasions, and I gladly accepted it. Other persons who carry the imprimatur of the Commonwealth Government would also be found a place on the broadcasting programmes of the British Broadcasting Commission. A personal appeal should be prepared by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) in the form of a little booklet to Australian tourists to speak well of their country while they are overseas, for Australia is worthy of the best that can . be said of it. Geologically this is the oldest country in the world, but in other respects it is one of the world’s newest countries, and many tourists have been sated with the old scenes of Europe and Great Britain, and are looking for “ fresh woods and pastures new “. Unfortunately, Australia has been so often spoken of and written about as a country of bush and desert, and so many harrowing tales have been told of its droughts, floods and fires that not many people are attracted to it. Russia is to-day attracting many tourists. I was very interested to learn while I was in Europe that some of the great cities of the Old World obtain about half their income from tourist traffic. We could never hope to achieve any result like that, but a great deal more could” be done than has been done hitherto. It would be wise to take steps to arrange for tourist parties to visit Australia. One-class .ships might be chartered, at times, to bring tourists here. We should attempt to attract, not only the rich people, but also the middle-class people who have a certain amount of money to spend on travel. The unfortunate workers can never hope to take advantage of tourist facilities of this description, but that is no reason why we should not attempt to attract other people to this great country. I am not accusing either the present or past govern- ments of neglect in this connexion. When my government was in office it did something to support the Travel Association. It lent its name to the organization, and provided some of its sinews of war. In view of the probability of an abnormal exodus from Australia to Great Britain next year, the time is opportune to consider action of this kind, for preparation will be needed if satisfactory results are to be achieved. In the past we have concentrated upon advertising Australia with the object of attracting immigrants and capital, and have more or less overlooked the advantage of attracting tourists. I do not say that we should concentrate on attracting tourists to the neglect of other considerations. The great natural resources of this country undoubtedly must be developed; but we need not, on that account, overlook the advantages of Australia from the point of view of amusement and entertainment.
I appeal tq the Government to do something to increase the inward flow of tourists, so that the ill-effect of the outward flow of them upon our London funds may be counteracted to some extent. Although our financial position in London is better than it was, we ought to bear in mind the possibility of less satisfactory day3 overtaking us. When doing so, we can strike a good Australian note and say a good word for our own country.
HONORABLE Members. - Hear, hear!
.- I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) that Parliament should insist on having greater control over public expenditure than it has at the present time. I should have preferred the Government to ask for Supply for two months instead of for three months, but, at the same time, I do not intend to oppose the request for three months’ Supply. Nevertheless, two matters in which a great deal of the power of Parliament has been lessened are first, finance; and secondly, Government administration by regulation. It is appalling to find, almost daily, new regulations having the force of law which, to a very great extent, place in the hands of the executive, power which should be in the hands of Parliament. The same remarks also apply to the administration of public funds.
I should like to know if the Government proposes to take any action in the near future towards the establishment of the Interstate Commission? I know that the Commonwealth Grants Commission has been appointed for a fixed period, but statements have appeared recently in the press that it is the intention of the Government to appoint an Interstate Commission. The Commonwealth Constitution is very definite in regard to this. It says : “ There shall be an Interstate Commission “, and I believe it is the duty of the Government to carry out the requirements of the Constitution, and of Parliament to see that it does so.
The Constitution also provides that there shall be a session of Parliament once in each year ; but the way in which that has been departed from is disgraceful. I did not mind departures from that principle in the war years, but, since then, we have witnessed the spectacle, time after time, of a continuous session throughout the life of a parliament. The tariff will have been dealt with when Parliament rises in the near future - the tariff has been the bar to prorogation on previous occasions - and Parliament should insist that the Government prorogue Parliament and commence a new session when honorable members reassemble in August or September. The Constitution leaves no room for doubt on the obligation of the Government to hold annual sessions of Parliament, and it is our duty, as far as possible, to observe the Constitution.
The right honorable member for Yarra (Mi-. Scullin) referred to the London funds. I hope that the Government will not take action in connexion with the position of the London funds which will have an adverse effect on the trade and commerce of this country. Too much of that sort of thing has occurred in the past, and the imposition of embargoes and prohibitive duties will only increase our difficulties. The right honorable gentleman seemed pleased that our exports have been of such value that our London funds are in a healthy condition. Those exports are our safeguard. They create purchasing power. Immediately exports are sent abroad credits are established, and we should do nothing that is likely unduly to antagonize other countries, and thus diminish our chances of expanding ourexport trade. Moreover, every one is agreed that in Australia’s small popula tion there is a grave element of danger. This country could readily support a population of from 25,000,000 to 30,000,000 people, but only by placing people on the land, and this should not bo attempted until wo have developed conditions which will give hope of prosperity tu settlers.
– “What does the honorable member suggest we should be able to do with the goods they produce? We cannot sell all that is now produced.
– We must not antagonize countries with which we trade. Last night we were given many quotations from publications of the League of Nations which clearly and distinctly set out that it is necessary to remove restrictions in trade and monetary matters as between nations, and to bring countries together.
– The League of Nations also states that in order to make consumption greater we should bring the backward countries up to the standard of the more advanced countries.
– The only way m which we can get away from the trouble that exists to-day is by abolishing economic nationalism and by inducing countries to trade together and not impose restrictions. Such restrictions lead to trade wars and they, in turn, are very likely to lead to warfare.
Reverting to the London funds, however, I hope that the Government will not, encourage restrictions such as have been imposed in the past. If any action is necessary, it should be taken through the exchange rate, for then the exporter would be given some slight advantage. Anything that tends to prevent the placing of more people on the land in order to obtain greater production would be bound to be inimical to the best interests of this country.
I wish to know from the Government if it will have a special inquiry made regarding the drought conditions that prevail in the wheat belt of Western Australia to-day. In Western Australia we have been successful in the rehabilitation of the gold-mining industry, and its recent new development has given a wonderful fillip to industry. In the early stages of gold-mining, people were attracted to Western Australia, but as the industry declined many of them settled in the agricultural areas, and there was a tremendous development of wheat-growing. Our wheat production in one year was double that of the rest of Australia. Until recent years in “Western Australia we have had 4,000,000 acres of wheat under crop, but last year the acreage had dwindled to 2,800,000 acres and I shall be surprised if the area cropped this year exceeds 2,000,000 acres. Whereas, in former years, wheat-growing in Western Australia made enormous contribution to the prosperity of this country, it experienced a disastrous season last year, and the indications are that this year the seasonal conditions will be even more disastrous. It is already May, when the crops should be coming up, but we have had not one drop of rain in the wheat belt, and no opportunity has been presented for the planting of a single acre. This follows four years in which the crops were substantial but had to be sold at absolutely unprofitable prices, and one which was a complete failure. I have received telegram after telegram pointing out the enormous losses that are being sustained by the wheat-farmers. Recently while journeying through the area I was informed by the manager of one of the banks that 71 per cent, of his clients last year either reaped no crop, or had yields not exceeding one bushel to the acre, and the position is equally bad in other parts. About 2,000 farmers in the area are in most desperate straits. When a State induces people to settle in these areas, it is its duty to look after them. Time after time disaster has fallen upon various sections of the community, and some special assistance has been granted to them. The Commonwealth, I think, has been liberal to the wheat industry in Australia generally, if not to the growers in my own State; in fact, the Commonwealth assistance has made it possible for the industry to continue, but I should like the Acting- Minister for Commerce (Mr. Thorby) to visit the Western Australian wheat area and see for himself the appalling conditions that exist. If he does so, and reports that conditions are as I have described them, assistance could be granted by way of a
Sir. Gregory. further grant to the settler or a loan to the State to enable the farmers to remain in production. I am one of those who hate asking for financial assistance from the Crown. I do not believe in it if it can be avoided. These people want not a grant, but a loan which will enable them to carry on over this year. I do not believe that many of them will be able to reap anything like a decent crop in the coming season. I have been anxiously watching the rainfall charts day by day to see if there is any possibility of early rains, but the outlook is not hopeful. If rains do not come, it vail be impossible for the farmers to obtain decent returns. The people engaged in wheat production are a magnificent type - they must be, otherwise they could not have carried on from year to year in the face of the conditions which have existed. It is a blow to the pride of the people of Western Australia that drought conditions should be operating. It has been their boast that the State never experiences anything in the nature cf a drought, and that settlement in it is, therefore, safer than it would be in other States. On a smaller scale, the existing Western Australian drought can be likened to the disastrous drought which overtook the United States of America last year, and, unless it is overcome by bountiful rains, or by financial assistance by way of loan, in the event of that rain not coming, from 1,000 to 2,000 farmers will lose their holdings. Unfortunately, owing to low prices, some 2,000 have already been so affected.
Three or four years ago 4,000,000 acres were under crop in Western Australia, compared with 2,800,000 acres last year, and probably less than 2,000,000 acres this year. This is a matter of very great importance to Australia, more particularly when regard is given to the London funds. The wheat that has been exported from Western Australia has had a most important effect in augmenting those funds. To show how important has been the effect of exports of wheat from Western Australia in this matter, it is only necessary to cite these facts: Over a five-year period New South Wales imported about £12,000,000 worth of goods more than it exported.
During the same period “Western Australia exported £48,000,000 worth of goods more than it imported. That excess of exports over imports, as far as Western Australia was concerned, was due to a very great extent to the produce of the wheat belt, and its value to the Commonwealth cannot be over-estimated.
In emphasis of the need for assisting the Western Australian farmers in their present crisis is the fact that if disaster falls upon them the purchasing power of the country will suffer. A further matter which should induce this Government to comply with the request I have made for ah inquiry to see what can be done for them, is the fact that many have been on their holdings for upwards of fifteen to twenty years, and if they are driven off the land other persons will buy their properties at “a song” and be able lo carry on by taking advantage of the work that has been done in the past. The Loan (Farmers’ Debt Adjustment) Act has been of very great help to the wheat areas and the £116,000 that was given by the Commonwealth Government for distribution among the farmers has also been of benefit. I, however, do not believe in the assistance of the industry on a sustenance basis, and should much prefer that the money be paid in lump sums to the farmers in need. I appeal to the Acting Minister for Commerce to visit the Western Australian wheat fields so that he might ascertain for himself the conditions which are existing, and to follow this up with assistance before it is too late.
– I take this opportunity to endeavour to obtain an intimation from the Government concerning the procedure to be adopted when the budget and estimates are considered, which, according to the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) will be towards the end of September. I propose not to traverse the comments made by other honorable members in respect of the financial position, including London funds, but to recall what has happened in this House on the last two occasions when the budget and the estimates were discussed. In the ordinary course of events, private members cannot initiate proposals or obtain a decision on specific matters, because the power to do so rests with the Executive. In these circumstances, we have to discuss subjects considered of urgent public importance on formal adjournment motions, or wait until late at night and do so on the motion for the adjournment of the House. The discussion on the estimates also provides honorable members with an opportunity to ventilate their opinions on various subjects, and to endeavour to alter conditions which they, particularly those representing country districts, think need attention. Prior to the last two occasions on which the Estimates were discussed, the House was able to bring pressure to bear upon the Government concerning the administration of certain departments, and to show the necessity to make changes.. Since then, however, honorable members have been deprived of the right of concentrated effort upon subjects they consider of importance. It has been no longer within their power to secure the support of other honorable members, regardless of the party to which they belong, when they were satisfied that an obvious injustice had been done. After allowing for a general discussion on the wider range of problems which the budget embraces, which, after all, cover the financial policy of the Government for the ensuing twelve months, the discussion of the estimates has been seriously curtailed.
For instance, little opportunity has been afforded to discuss the administration of the Postal Department, which is a vast and efficient business undertaking controlled by the Commonwealth, and providing services which reach the homes of those in the remotest parts of Australia. The Postal Department is one to which honorable members, especially those representing country constituencies, usually pay close attention; but when last year’s estimates were under consideration, that department, which expends millions of pounds, was grouped with others, and eventually the guillotine was applied. On that occasion, honorable members were allowed only 30 minutes to discuss the remainder of the departments, and to place before the Government the various changes which they thought should be made. That is unjust, and the Government should not he permitted to adopt a similar practice in the future. We should now get an intimation from the Ministers as to the method to be adopted when the Estimates are brought down in September next. Will they give an undertaking that they will not curtail discussion on the Estimates?
– It could be arranged to allow a reasonable time for each department.
– The Minister for Defence (Mr. Archdale Parkhill) knows what happened on the last occasion, and I do not think that he approved.
– I did.
– If the Minister approved, then very little consideration can be expected from him now. The department, “ Territories of the Commonwealth “, includes the administration of Norfolk Island, concerning which there has been a good deal of comment; but we were only allowed twenty minutes to discuss the whole department. This is a suitable opportunity for honorable members to express their opinions on this subject, and to endeavour to obtain an assurance from the Government that a longer period will be provided for each department this year so that honorable members may ventilate opinions on matters of administration and may obtain promises of improvement. I should like the Treasurer (Mr. Casey), when he replies, to indicate that when the Estimates are next under discussion adequate time will be allowed for each department. Last year many honorable members sitting behind the Government who supported an allotment of time absorbed most of it themselves, and precluded others from speaking. In one instance there was rather an unruly scene. Naturally, we feel resentful of honorable members opposite supporting h time limit and then themselves occupying most of the time allotted. I should like to see it so arranged that honorable members opposite who favoured a limitation of time would not be permitted to occupy time which should be available to those honorable members anxious to place before the House urgent requirements of their constituents.
– The introduction of a Supply Bill at this juncture gives honorable members an opportunity, not so much to speak upon the administration of the present financial year, but to obtain information concerning the Government’s financial proposals for next year. I compliment the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) upon the efficient way in which he is carrying out his duties; it is favourably spoken of not only in the House, but also outside. He is industrious and alert, and is showing some originality in the responsible duties which he has to undertake. Unfortunately, very little originality is shown in other directions; as many apparently unnecessary taxation measures appear to be continued in operation from year to year. When a petrol tax of 2d. a gallon was first imposed it was regarded as a fair imposition, inasmuch as the money was to be expended on roads and would, therefore, benefit those who paid the tax; but when a Labour government came into power the tax was increased substantially. I am not censuring that Government for increasing that tax, because the financial position was then most unsatisfactory. Revenue had to be obtained from every possible source, and those owning motor cars were thought to be fair game. Conditions have now improved, and the tax should be removed altogether or reduced substantially. Moreover, the revenue derived should be expended more in keeping with the object for which the tai was first imposed. I should like to see a large proportion of the money derived from this source handed back to the States for distribution amongst shires and municipalities, many of which have been obliged to amalgamate, because as isolated units their revenue was insufficient to pay more than overhead expenses. A larger proportion of this revenue should be handed over to the local governing bodies for expenditure on what may be termed secondary roads - which are not under the control of main roads boards. I trust that the Treasurer will consider this matter, and that the Government will decide, not only to reduce the tax substantially, but also to arrange that a larger proportion is handed over to local governing bodies for expenditure in the direction I have suggested.
Most Treasurers prefer to leave taxes as they are, but I should like to see a complete review of the taxation of the Commonwealth with a view to the imposts being placed on those best able to bear them. Some effort has been made in that direction under the Income Tax Assessment Bill, which has just been passed by this chamber, but the whole situation should be reviewed. This morning I asked the Treasurer a question as to whether the Government proposes to reduce taxation substantially next year, but the answer did not contain much information. I trust that some taxes will be removed altogether, because taxpayers feel that something should be done. Two years ago the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page),who is now a member of the Government, said that the Government was not doing its duty if it could not reduce taxation by £20,000,000. As our financial position has now improved, and the right honorable gentleman is a member of the Government, I trust that he will induce his colleagues to put into practice some of the proposals which he then advocated. As an exTreasurer, with fairly long experience, he should be able to speak with some authority. I do not suggest that it is possible to reduce the taxes now imposed by £20,000,000, but I appeal to the Government to make extensive remissions, in order to assist those who are now over-taxed.
– What would the honorable member do concerning the taxes which he supported when a Minister?
– I hold the same views as I then held. Our financial position has improved, and I am suggesting ways in which some of the burdens upon the people can be removed or, at least, relieved.
– The Leader of the Country party is now a member of the Ministry and has greater power.
– Yes. As the Postal Department, which is being conducted on business-like lines, is now earning considerably more than it is expending, it should be possible to revert to penny postage. I feel sure that an investiga tion would justify the restoration of penny postage.
Two burning problems confronting Australia to-day are defence and migration. These are inter-related because if we do not want to lose this country we must have more people. In my recent travels abroad I found a tendency on the part of every English-speaking person I met in continental countries to make nasty references to Australia ; apparently we are not very popular with these people. We cannot depend upon their friendship. We must, therefore, endeavour to bring more Britishers to this country. Reports on migration over the last five years show that we are losing more white people than are coming to our shores. This, I suggest, is very serious. I do not expect the Treasurer to explain in detail this afternoon the Government’s policy on this matter; I have no doubt it is being considered in the proper quarters, but it is time that something practical was done.
Although I have pleaded for a reduction of certain taxes, and a better distribution of the incidence of taxation generally, I realize that the Government will have to incur increased expenditure to provide for the effective defence of this country. We need to strengthen, not so much our land forces, but our air force. Other countries are far more air-minded than is Australia. I suggest that, in order to strengthen our defences generally, we should spend more money on our air force. When the Budget is being debated I shall support an increase of present expenditure for defence purposes.
– In that case, how does the honorable member expect the Government to reduce taxation?
– I admit that these two demands seem incompatible. I ask for a reduction of postage from 2d. to1d. on the ground that the people should not be taxed through the post office ; and I ask for a reduction of the petrol tax because I believe that no section of the community should be expected to bear a disproportionate burden of taxation. However, expenditure on defence must be regarded as a special and urgent necessity.
I was pleased to hear the suggestion of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr.
Scullin) that we should advertise Australia more abroad. One way to do so, I suggest, is to distribute Australian films for exhibition on overseas vessels, on which it is now the custom to give a picture programme nightly. In my travels abroad I found that films dealing with most countries of the world were shown on these liners, and I learned that those responsible for these exhibitions would be very pleased to exhibit similar films dealing with Australia. I was instrumental in having a set of Australian films supplied to trans-Atlantic liners, and I was assured that these would be shown at least once on every trip. I have no doubt that if we provided them, Australian films would be shown on all ocean liners. Furthermore, this field is ideal for publicity of this nature. I shall deal more fully with this subject when the Budget is brought down.
Again I suggest that the Treasurer should exercise more of the originality which he has already displayed in his office; I hope he will refuse to adhere to the stereotyped policy of following the line of least resistance, and will endeavour to bring about a better distribution of taxation generally.
Mr.MAKIN (Hindmarsh) [12.5]. - I agree with the remarks of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Perkins) regarding the opportunity that exists to advertise Australia’s attractions abroad by supplying films to overseas steamship companies. New Zealand takes every advantage of this method to advertise its attractions for tourists and investors, but we have not realized its value. I cannot recall having seen one film dealingwith an Australian subject on any of the vessels on which I travelled on my recent tour abroad. Furthermore, I did not find on any of these boats any literature dealing with the tourist attractions of Australia. However, I do not share the view of the honorable member for EdenMonaro that an unfavorable impression in respect of Australia is held generally by the people of European countries. Indeed, my own experience was quite the reverse. Although I was surprised at their lack of knowledge regarding this country, I found that people overseas are anxious to learn more about it. I did not hear any hostile or ungenerous expressions from them concerning Australia. But if any of them regard Australia unfavorably, surely we are responsible, because we have not taken steps to correct that impression, by supplying information which would enable them to appreciate the advantages of this country. Americans particularly, I found to be very friendly disposed towards Australia, and they are anxious to improve their relations with us in every way possible. Instead of alienating the sympathy of other nations, we should do everything in our power to cultivate their friendship; this is one of the best possible ways to ensure us against attack.
I urge the Government, when it is framing the budget, to deal primarily with the restoration of public service salaries and social services to the levels that obtained prior to the reductions under the financial emergency legislation. I point out that the pensioners particularly are suffering hardship because of the continuance of such reductions. Many of these people have told me of the difficulties which they suffered, during recent months, as the result of the increased cost of the necessaries of life, and, particularly, the increase of rents. In these circumstances, it must be admitted that the pensioners are entitled to the restoration of the pension to £1 a week. On this matter I express the views of every member of the Opposition. We hope that the Government, when it is framing its budget, will give their claims first consideration. Furthermore, it should take steps to restore fully the reductions of wages and salaries of public servants. Because of the continuance of a portion of these deductions this section of the community is called upon to bear a special class tax, and is thus denied the full benefits of normal wage standards, which apply to the rest of the community. I make this appeal most earnestly, and I hope that the Government will giveto it every consideration.
Mr.PROWSE (Forrest) [12.11].- I support the suggestion of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), that a committee should be appointed to inquire into the distress of wheat-farmers in drought-stricken districts in Western Australia. This is a matter of the greatest. importance. The honorable member for Swan has received the following telegram from the Primary Producers Association : -
Statistician’s Department advises that of 8,000 wheat-growers estimate that 1,550 had Icas than seven .bushels, 1,200 less than five bushels. Cannot -give figures for less than three bushels and total failure.
For some years it has been the practice of this Government to render assistance to sufferers from floods and other disasters. The average value of Australia’s exports is £15 a head of the population, whereas Western Australia’s exports are valued at £37 a head. I have no doubt that these people to whom I now refer produce, not £37 worth, but possibly an average of £370 worth of products for export. Yet, to-day, they are suffering great distress. The Government cannot afford to see them driven off their farms; ‘2,000 wheat-farmers in Western Australia have already deserted their holdings. Their present distress is not due to any fault of their own, nor can it be said that they are farming in areas in which wheat cannot be produced; in fact, these districts have a high productive capacity. Unfortunately the settlers have no control over the rainfall, and have been hit very hard as the result of recent droughts. In addition, prices of wheat in the last five years have been unprofitable. The distress of these farmers is a national matter. I am aware that technically the State government is responsible for their welfare, but considering the buoyancy of federal finances and the greater field of taxation available to the Federal Government, it should be prepared to share this responsibility. A study of the budgets of the State governments and the Federal Government shows that the latter has taken more out of the pockets of the taxpayers than the States in proportion to its needs. I repeat that this is a national obligation, and ask, as a matter of urgency, that the Commonwealth Government should go to the assistance of these farmers. What we have said is not to be taken as final on this matter; we suggest that the AssistantMinister for Commerce, and possibly two others, should visit Western Australia and examine, at first-hand, the plight of the farmers in the drought-stricken areas. It is a national matter. Honorable mem bers may be quite satisfied in their minds that I am in no way financially interested in it. The people of whom I speak are down and out, and over 2,000 of them have already had to leave their holdings and go on the dole, lt would be in the best interests of the Commonwealth as a whole if these producers of wealth were kept on their farms. The Government took the view that the repairing of flood damage in Victoria some time ago was a matter of national concern; yet the Victorian Government was much better able to give the assistance necessary than is the Government of Western Australia in regard to the settlers of whom I have been speaking. I appeal to the Government to institute an inexpensive and speedy inquiry. The money already made available by the Commonwealth Government is being distributed by the Labour Government of Western Australia in the form of a dole to those who are in actual want, and practically without food.
.- I associate myself with what was said by the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) on the subject of our London funds. Ee made out a most forceful case, and one which, I am sure, deserves the attention of the Government.
I congratulate the Government on the work done in the making of soil surveys. The primary producers throughout Australia appreciate the value of this work, and would like to see it extended. In some districts in Tasmania, the farmers are clamouring for a scientific investigation of the soil, because they fear that they have not been using the right kind of fertilizers to get the best out of the land. The farming community of Flinders Island has been asking for some time past that an officer should visit the island to make a survey. Farmers are afraid that there is some quality in the soil which is causing disease in pigs, and they are anxious to know how to correct it. I have taken the matter up with the State officers, and have approached the Soil Survey Department with a view to getting something done. I mention it now because I hope that, by bringing it under the notice of the Minister, action may be taken to have a comprehensive soil survey made throughout Australia as a whole.
We should encourage the farmers to have their soil tested, so that they may learn how to get the best out of their land, what fertilizers to use, and how much should be used.
The national importance of forestry cannot be overestimated, but it is a matter which Australians have for too long neglected. We do not appreciate the value of our forests as do the people of other countries. The practice of planting two trees for every one that is cut down is good, and I commend it to the Australian people. It is claimed by experts that the natural forests of Tasmania are an asset of greater value than those of any other State in the Commonwealth. Recently, a recommendation was made by the Commonwealth Grants Commission, that more money should be made available to Tasmania to enable it to exploit this great asset. In the Estimates now before us, I notice that no increased provision has been made for salaries to officers of the Forestry Department. Unless Tasmania receives assistance from the Commonwealth Government for this work, it cannot continue its operations on the present scale, let alone extend them. I urge the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) to give consideration to this matter, and to make provision for greater assistance to Tasmania for forestry purposes.
.- The right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) raised a most important subject when he touched upon tourist traffic in Australia, particularly overseas tourist traffic. It is said that probably 20,000 persons have already booked to leave Australia for abroad next year, and this is a matter of serious concern because of the money which will be taken out of this country. The figure has been variously estimated, and it has even been suggested in some quarters that next year not less than £30,000,000 will be expended by tourists who leave Australia. I agree that that is an absurdly large estimate; but. even if we halve the amount, it will still involve a serious drain on overseas funds.
– It will be very much Smaller than that.
– Whatever the amount, it will be considerable, and this drain could be offset, to a large extent, if we were able to attract_ tourists to Australia by means of effective advertising. Many tourists who visit this country, and Australians who travel overseas, have stated that our advertising methods abroad are very much behind those of other countries, including New Zealand. An opportunity presents itself in connexion with the sesqui-centenary celebrations in Sydney in 193S. I do noi know what the Commonwealth Government intends to do in order to co-operate with the Government of New South Wales in this respect, but I suggest that it might co-operate in a properly organized advertising campaign to attract tourists to Australia.
I believe it may be predicted with some confidence that the next budget will provide for a reduction of sales tax. I suggest that, when the new figure is being considered, an endeavour should be made to fix upon one which will be easy of computation, thus avoiding much irritation to the business community. When the tax was 5 per cent, it was, of course, easy to calculate the amount of tax on any transaction. If the figure is fixed at some decimal fraction, much loss of time, and many mistakes, will be involved in calculating it. A 4 per cent, tax would be difficult to compute ; but one of 3$ per cent., for instance, would be easy, because it would represent 9d. in the £1. I ask the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) to keep in mind my suggestion that a figure should be chosen that will make computation easy.
Much concern is being shown in various parts of Australia at the present time in the matter of suitable punish.ment for crime. We all admit the great value of the cinema for educational and entertainment purposes, and no one desires to hamper its development; but I suggest that a stricter censorship might be exercised in regard to films that feature the gangster and gun-man. Unfortunately, there are some people in the community whose mental condition is such that they are susceptible to the influence of pictures of that kind, and, in preventing crime, we obviate the need for punishing it.
In the direction of a more careful supervision of films, I think, lies a remedy which could with advantage be investigated by ‘the controllers of the film censorship.
.- This bill provides honorable members with an opportunity to ventilate the grievances of their constituents. I direct the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) to the conditions under which the sale of tobacco leaf is being conducted in Queensland. Growers have expressed considerable dissatisfaction with the position, and steps should be taken to rectify it. Prior to this year the buyers of tobacco leaf paid two or three visits annually to Mareeba for the purpose of attending the sales at that centre, where the Government of Queensland has established a selling shed for the convenience of growers marketing their crop. But this year they have been advised that the representatives of the British-Australasian Tobacco Company will attend only one sale in northern Queensland. That intimation has aroused considerable concern. I am aware that the BritishAustralasian Tobacco Company will explain, as its reason for this decision, that the sending of buyers to two or more sales is unprofitable; but in my opinion, the sale of tobacco leaf should not be conducted under conditions similar to the sale of wool, which is brought to a central point for auction. The transport charges involved make this system most costly to the wool-grower. The difference between the costs of selling tobacco leaf in the north of Queensland and at Brisbane is more than £6 a ton. It can be sold from the Government shed at Mareeba for a little more than £2 a ton; the cost in Brisbane exceeds £8 a ton. This margin means a difference between a profit and a loss on the working of a tobacco farm. As an indication of the feeling of the growers in the matter, I quote the following letter from Mr. E. H. Short, secretary of the Dimbulah Tobacco Growers Co-operative Association Limited: -
We wish to seek your co-operation in bring- . ing before the House our serious grievance in connexion with the buying programme of the British-Australasian Tobacco Company for the current year. They have definitely advised us that they intend this season to curtail their customary three buying visits to one visit only, and even refused to set any definite date for that visit. In response to our request for two northern sales to take place early, in July and early in August, and to a similar request from the North Queensland Tobacco Growers Association at Mareeba, they have replied that their programme this season provides for one sale only in North Queensland. We would like to’ give the undermentioned particulars in support of our claim for the same consideration as given us in past years, namely, sales in the north whenever a sufficient quantity of leaf is available. We anticipate having a tonnage of leaf, estimated at approximately SO tons, available for sale within the next few months, and had there not been any uncertainty regarding the date of the buyers’ visit, this quantity would have been increased to at least 130 tons. It is a significant and indisputable fact that sales in Brisbane can always be arranged and advertised months ahead, while the representatives of the largest tobaccobuying concern when interviewed by the growers’ representatives on their usual preliminary tour of the north, are always as vague as possible regarding the date of sales in northern Queensland, and their head office adopt the same vague and non-committal attitude when the association or any northern grading shed communicates with them asking for information regarding the date of sales.
This unsatisfactory attitude on the part of the buyers has the effect of forcing sales of tobacco to Brisbane, as the average grower is short of cash, and even though he is loyal to his own district, and wishes to sell his leaf here, his creditors are usually looking for money, and he is forced to send his tobacco south for sale at a higher selling charge in the absence of any definite date for a sale i:i the north. To keep the sales of leaf as much as possible in our own district, this association, assisted by the State government, has erected and equipped a grading shed and selling floor at a cost of £750, capable of satisfactorily handling 90 tons of tobacco leaf in one sale; with two visits from the buyers we could handle 80 per cent, of the district’s production for this season. The object of this enterprise is a reduction of selling charges to the grower in the first place; secondly, a natural desire to have the money spent on the marketing tobacco circulated here where the tobacco is grown, and thereby giving the grower benefit by advancing the district. A comparison of the relative costs of Belling tobacco in Brisbane and Dimbulah as set forth below, will demonstrate a substantial saving to the grower -
For handling and selling .1 ton of tobacco leaf valued at 2s. per lb., total £224.
You will observe that the cost of selling in Brisbane is greater than the cost in Dimbulah by £6 2s. lid., we do not make any warehousing charge, and our selling commission is 1 per cent., compared to 2J per cent, in Brisbane. Costs of railage, insurance, &c, are about equal, but the cost of cartage from railway to warehouse in Brisbane is an extra charge on the grower.
No enterprise should be permitted to batten on the growers and their families to that extent. The majority of. them entered the industry when the duties were much higher than they are to-day, and they enjoyed the advantage of that greater margin of protection. At the present time, however, that protection has been reduced, and every shilling saved in production and selling costs is a contribution towards ensuring the continuance of the industry. Before the growers can obtain a market for their product, they are obliged to grow leaf of the best quality, and it behoves the British-Australasian Tobacco Company to send its agents to Mareeba at least twice a year to enable the leaf to be disposed of in the centre of the industry. The letter continued -
Apart from the saving which goes back to or rather remains in the grower’s pocket, the amount actually spent would be helping to develop our district, and assist the tobacco industry if the leaf was sold here. It is obvious that, the grower, and the local traders as well, will be at a distinct disadvantage if the greater portion of their crop has to be sent out of the district for disposal. We contend that sales in Brisbane are unnecessary, both from the grower’s and manufacturer’s point of view, and wc are at a loss to understand the reluctance of the British-Australasian Tobacco Company to send their buyers to the north more frequently than once a year, in view of their statement given in evidence by their representative at the 1933 tobacco inquiry, referred to paragraphs 124, 125 and 126 of the report made by the Tobacco Inquiry Committee, in which the buyers agreed to attend sales every week if sufficient leaf was offered, and regular sale dates observed.
Of course, the purchasers of the tobacco leaf will excuse themselves on the ground that there is not sufficient tobacco offered to warrant more than one sale a year. I have been advised that there will be 80 tons of tobacco at the Mareeba shed for the approaching sale; the offering for a second auction would be even larger. In view of the fact that the British- Australasian Tobacco Company gave an undertaking to the Select Committee to send its agents to attend a sale every week if necessary, this Government should insist that the company shall show greater consideration to the growers. The letter continued -
This association has made every effort to. meet the buyers’ convenience and, although we are asking for two or three sales per year,, instead of one each week during the selling season, they are apparently not prepared tomeet us on reasonable grounds. From these particulars you will see that we, as an association, representing over 100 growers, have just, cause to bo thoroughly dissatisfied with the lack of co-operation afforded the industry by the tobacco combine, the effects of which are more far-reaching than would appear at a casual glance, as the marketing of tobacco if carried out locally by the growers’ own organizations, would circulate the money spent onmarketing in the . areas where the tobacco is grown, and would stimulate and maintain a much greater degree of activity in the tobacco industry in this area, thereby going quite a long way toward an objective which appears to be giving our Federal House some deepthought, namely, the populating of the vast unoccupied spaces of Northern Australia.
I would like the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Hughes) to note that point.
In our district alone there are thousands of acres of land which will produce the best tobacco in Australia, and is useless for any other purpose.
Surely the prospect of putting this land into use and settling hundreds of families engaged in prosperous industry is worth the consideration and sympathetic help of the Commonwealth Government from the defence angle alone.
Trusting that you will be able to bring this letter before the House, and thanking you,
I shall be grateful if the Minister for Trade and Customs will give this matter his attention-. I emphasize that a definite undertaking was given to the growers that weekly sales would be conducted if any tobacco was offering. The growers ask for a minimum of two or three sales a year and they would be perfectly satisfied if this request were granted.
The Government should also give consideration to the charges made to returned soldiers in military hospitals in Brisbane. Many of the “ burnt-out “ legion of the Australian Imperial Force, now scattered throughout the Commonwealth, are beginning to feel the effects of war service. When they returned from the front the majority of them were anxious to sever their connexion with the army as quickly as possible, and they did not bother to apply for pensions. Others who were granted pensions, relinquished them upon being re-absorbed into industry. But eighteen years have elapsed since the termination of the war, and many of these men are now suffering from disabilities incurred by their war service abroad. Some of the tubercular soldiers have been admitted to the Rosemount Hospital, Brisbane, for treatment. If they are receiving a service pension, they are charged for board at the rate of 12s. 6d. a week, and I am informed that that charge is being deducted from the invalid pension of 18s. received by one inmate. One service pensioner who is receiving a service pension of 8s. 6d. a week was refused an invalid pension because he had a conviction against him. I cannot resist pointing out that his conviction did not weigh with the authorities when he enlisted for service in the Great War, and I fail to see why he should now he refused an invalid pension. But while this patient remains in the military hospital his service pension is not adequate to meet the charge made for board, and he is required to find an additional 4s. 6d. to make up the difference.
The honorable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– I warmly commend to the Government, and to the committee, the suggestions made by the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) in his speech earlier in the day. He made a most fair and reasonable statement, and one that is worthy of the closest consideration of those interested in Australia’s financial position overseas. Some honorable members may have regarded the statement as pessimistic. I suppose one could hardly expect that the right honorable gentleman’s very unfortunate experiences, when he was handling the finances of this country, would fail to colour his present outlook on this subject; but I suggest that the right honorable gentleman’s speech did this: It not only emphasized the absolute necessity for responsible Ministers to watch the overseas trade balance, but it also strongly stressed the great importance of taking every possible means to improve the unfavorable balance that we suffer every year in respect of tourist traffic.
The right honorable gentleman made some most useful observations on the subject of publicity along orthodox lines. I should like to supplement what he said by suggesting means of publicity which, I think, are very effective, and also have the great advantage of being reasonably cheap. I refer to the opportunities for publicity that are available to Australia through the medium of broadcasting. Broadcasting from this country, of course, cannot be very effective at the present time in England or on the Continent of Europe, but, with some adjustment’ of technical equipment, our broadcasting programmes could be made of great value to Australia in America and the East. While I was travelling some time ago in Japan, and also in China, particularly Shanghai, the strongest representations were made to me by representative citizens there that Australia should take greater pains to advertise itself in that part of the world. Our country is most favourably situated to take advantage of this opportunity. Countries like England, Germany and Russia carry out an intensive propaganda throughout China and Japan through the medium of broadcasting. They make a feature of it, and put on special programmes. They see to it that their tourist resorts, their industries and their products are widely and effectively advertised. We hope to build up a large trade between Australia and the East, and we should not be blind to the opportunities available to us there by means of broadcasting. We have definite advantages in that the main programmes broadcast from Australia between 8 and 10 p.m. Australian time, reach Shanghai and Hong Kong at a time when most people there desire to listen in. The average radio “ fan “ there listens in between the hours when he leaves business and dinnertime, which is between 6 and 8 p.m. That is the time when most listeners in the East are entertained by wireless programmes, and that period corresponds to between 8 and 10 p.m. in Australia, when our main programmes are on the air. Therefore, Australia is in a position that should enable it to exploit fully the medium of broadcasting for publicity purposes in the East.
I do not urge that we should use this medium with a view to attracting the natives of eastern countries to Australia; but, in all of those countries, there is a considerable European population, and almost every European in the Orient seeks an extended holiday, if not every year, at least every two years. The majority now travel in the direction of Europe, and I point out that there is a splendid opportunity awaiting Australia to attract these holidaymakers to this country. Our broadcasting programmes could be adjusted in order to meet the special requirements of propaganda for Eastern countries, so that the possibilities may be properly exploited. It would be a simple matter to throw programmes across to America, and, I suggest, that the medium of broadcasting is now far more effective, far cheaper and far more useful than the orthodox and expensive way of advertising by means of posters, pamphlets, and the like. I do not suggest that we should disregard the latter field entirely ; on the contrary, I strongly commend the suggestions of the right honorable member for Yarra in that respect. In London, publicity work on behalf of Australia is well done, but in no foreign country did I see evidence of it.
– Amalgamated Wireless Limited has been broadcasting for international listeners for some years.
-Nevertheless, Australia and its attractions are little known in the East.
Australia could also be most effectively advertised by encouraging tours abroad by Australian athletes. I find that the widest publicity won for Australia abroad was achieved by contemporary Australian citizens. The two Australians most generally known in England and Europe when I was abroad were Don Bradman and Jack Lang. I regret to have to say that the splendid credit balance achieved by Bradman was largely offset by the unsavoury reputation of Jack Lang. I suggest that the Australian athlete, be he a cricketer, a tennis player or a representative of this country at the Olympic
Games, is the best advertisement that Australia has abroad to-day. Therefore, . the Government should indicate, at an early date, its approval of the proposal that the Olympic Games should be held in Australia, df, and when, it is possible to arrange for it. The holding of the games here would give Australia an advertisement in every part of the world such as it has never previously had. In addition, it would have the enormous advantage of providing this country, probably for the first time, with a favorable balance in respect of tourist traffic.
.- I was astonished to hear the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) say that Australians are not known abroad, with the exception of the Honorable J. T. Lang and Don Bradman. In view of the fact that the Commonwealth has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on sending Ministers to London and the Continent of Europe during the last few years, it is distressing to- hear from the honorable member that the money has been wasted, and that nobody knows much about Australia, because Ministers have not told the people abroad about the country they were supposed to represent.
I join the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) in his appeal, on behalf of the Opposition, for restoration of the amounts by which invalid and oldage pensions have been reduced. I hope that, within the next few months, provision will be made to remove the hardship now suffered by the pensioners on account of the reductions. I trust that before the House adjourns to-day the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) will indicate that at an early date the Government will accede to this request. In view of the many occasions on which we have been told in this House that prosperity has returned, I hope, also, that the salaries of public servants, which were reduced under the financial emergency legislation, will be restored to their former level.
A few weeks ago I directed the attention of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) to the position of certain persons, such as motor drivers, who have come from England to the Federal Capital Territory under contract. I endeavoured to ascertain the conditions of their employment, but the Prime Minister said he was unable to inform me on the matter, because his department has no jurisdiction over them. I believe that they work as chauffeurs for 25s. or 27s. a week. Honorable members may think that this is a matter of no public concern; but, if men are paid this miserable wage, and are entitled at the termination of their agreement to remain in Australia, they will have no means of making provision for their old agc, and may become a charge on the Commonwealth. For this reason it is the duty of the Government to advise those who are responsible for this arrangement that the employees in question should receive the same wages as those following the same occupation in Australia. I endeavoured to obtain information on this subject a fortnight ago from the Prime Minister, but, as I have stated, I was unsuccessful. The Returned Soldiers Association has informed me that a large number of its members are qualified to drive motor cars, and urges that they should be given an opportunity to do this work. This state of affairs would not arise with a Labour Government in power. We say that every responsible position in Australia should be occupied by Australians. No complaint was heard during the term of the predecessor of the present Governor-General. We were all proud of the manner in which Sir Isaac Isaacs discharged his duties, and we are pleased to know that he is now receiving, in England, just recognition for his distinguished public services, as well as for his high intellectual attainments.
In my electorate there are many war service homes, and I regret to state that the occupants aTe not all receiving the consideration which they are entitled to expect. Recently the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) obtained a return from the department giving the number of occupants of war service homes who had been evicted, or were threatened with eviction. Some time ago the honorable member directed a question to .the Minister in charge of War Service Homes (Mr. Thorby), asking to be informed of the number of applications to the courts since the 1st January, 1925, by the War
Service Homes Commissioner in each State, for the repossession of properties, and also how many proceedings had been withdrawn. The Minister, in reply, stated that 159 applications had been made in New South Wales, 53 in Victoria, 83 “ in Queensland, 74 in South Australia, and 28 in Western Australia. He added that 53 applications had been withdrawn in New South Wales. I assume, .therefore, that 106 returned soldiers in that State had been evicted. I have urged, over and over again, that the position of those who are in default with their payments for war service homes is due largely to the depression, and that they should receive more consideration. From time to time the Minister has assured us that there have been no evictions from war service homes. Apparently the honorable gentleman has been misinformed. If, as we are entitled to assume, 106 returned soldiers have been evicted from their war service homes in New South Wales, the record is a shocking one, and I sincerely trust that, during the coming winter months, any orders that may have been issued for eviction will be withdrawn, because, in most instances, there is no other accommodation available for the people. On more than one occasion I have heard other honorable members complain that, not infrequently, after a returned soldier had been evicted from his war service home, a civilian had been able to get it for a lower rent than had been charged to the former purchaser.
Last week I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) when effect would be given to the Government’s policy, announced during the last election campaign, to take the necessary action to provide housing accommodation for people, and thus eliminate slum areas in our capital cities. In his reply, the right honorable gentleman did not say directly that assistance had been given to the States for this purpose, but every metropolitan newspaper throughout the Commonwealth reported him as having said that the Government had done so. The statement was featured in the Melbourne newspapers, and evidently it was news to the Premier of Victoria, because, when he was asked to comment upon it, he remarked that it was the first he had heard of it. Evidently it is an easy matter for the word-spinners in this House, by a judicious handling of the King’s English, to convey the impres- sion that they have done certain things, when, as a matter of fact, they have not.
Some time ago I asked the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) a question relating to the air-conditioning of railway carriages on the Commonwealth railway system, and was able to inform him that an Australian company was manufacturing air-conditioning plant in New South Wales, and could have supplied for £1,000 equipment which cost the Commonwealth £2,000. The local company has equipped a number of railway carriages for the New South Wales Government at a cost of £1,000 each. The Minister stated that he was unaware that an Australian company was doing this class of work. It is strange that the Minister should have been uninformed on this subject, because the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner was abroad recently,’ and should have been able to advisethe Minister that an Australian company could instal airconditioning plant in Commonwealth railway carriages at one-half the cost that has been incurred.
– The honorable member has exhausted his time.
– I intervene at this stage, not with a desire to prevent any other honorable member from speaking, but to reply briefly to the excellent speech delivered this morning by the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), and to express the hope that, in the near future, we shall have many opportunities to hear the right, honorable gentleman address the House on other subjects upon which he is so competent to speak. The right honorable member directed his attention chiefly to the balance of payments and the balance of trade, and relevant subjects. He mentioned at some length, and in a way which honorable members on both sides appreciated, the flow of tourist traffic from and to Australia, and the effect of the outward traffic on London funds. He spoke also of the need for encouraging tourists to come to Australia. Figures have been given in the press lately of the expected drain on our London funds this year and next, owing to the anticipated increase of tourists from Australia to Great Britain, and elsewhere. The figures, which, after all, are merely estimates, are, as I am sure the right honorable member for Yarra will admit, exaggerations of the most fantastic order. Some estimates range from £20,000,000 to £30,000,000. I say these figures are fantastic, because the Commonwealth Statistician is continuously estimating, among other things, the amount of money that is taken out of Australia annually by tourists, and the official estimate for 1934-35 was about £3,150,000 sterling. It is believed that up to £4,000,000 might be taken out of the country in this financial year.
– Can the Treasurer give an estimate of the amount of money brought into Australia by tourists from other countries?
– The official estimate of the amount of money that was brought into the Commonwealth by overseas tourists in 1934-35 was about £1,000,000 sterling. These figures show that, in respect of tourist traffic, the balance is fairly heavily against us. It is probable that a large number of people will leave Australia next year to attend the King’s coronation ceremony; but it is unlikely that the amount of money which they will take out of Australia will largely exceed the estimate of £4,000,000 for this year. Therefore, I can give honorable members an assurance that the Government does not anticipate a serious drain on London funds, even next year, in connexion with the King’s coronation. I think that we are all definitely in sympathy with the idea of encouraging tourists to come to Australia.The Australian National Travel Association, under the chairmanship of Mr. Harold Clapp, is doing estimable work for Australia in this direction. The Commonwealth Government has recognized that service by increasing the grant to the association from £5,000 to £10,000 in this financial year. That amount is heavily augmented by contributions from interested bodies, such as the State railways, hotel keepers’ organizations, and the like. I hope that, in the future, the
Government will be able to give still further encouragement to this very useful activity. I also point ou,’t that this House last week approved of Government amendments to the Income Tax Assessment Bill, which will largely obviate what I personally consider are justifiable complaints of hardship under which persons from overseas, particularly the United Kingdom, have laboured within recent years on account of the discrimination practised against the overseas investor and potential Australian taxpayer, in comparison with the treatment accorded to the Australian citizen. The matter of the treatment of visitors to Australia - tourists, business men, and the like - is now being considered by the Government. Tourist traffic has been developed to a much greater extent in the countries of the old world than in the newly-settled countries. In Germany, the description applied to it is “ Fremdenverkehr “, an omnibus term meaning “stranger trade”. This trade is pursued keenly, and developed very definitely. In France, Germany and Switzerland it forms an important part of the balance of payments. I hope that Australia, having such widely diversified attractions, will, in the future, be able legitimately to capitalize its natural advantages.
I am impelled to refer to a statement which appeared in the Sydney press this morning. The gentleman who occupies the high and important position of president of the Chamber of Manufactures in Sydney, addressing the Legacy Club yesterday, made certain remarks concerning our London funds, to which I feel called upon to reply in very specific terms. He is reported to have said -
Australia’s adverse trade balance with England, and the continued depletion of our credit balance in London, constitute a serious position which has to be faced.
He went on to say -
The Commonwealth Bank is so alarmed that the chairman of the board has gone to Bugland, where he will arrive this week.
In another portion of his address he said -
The position, as I see it, is exceedingly serious.
Those are statements which, coming from the mouth of such a gentleman, must command some attention.
I hope that what I have to say on behalf of the Government will be given equal publicity and receive as much attention. . Since the debate in this chamber a month or two ago, the position in respect of London funds has steadily and satisfactorily improved, until to-day there is reasonable prospect of ‘.bc financial year ending with the same volume of London funds a3 that with which we began it. There has been no serious drain upon them during this financial year ; in fact, I have every reason to hope that there has been no drain whatever. Although it is not possible to forecast the exact position at the close of the financial year, having consulted with the proper authorities, I have stated what is definitely the prospect at the moment. I make an emphatic denial of the statement that the Commonwealth Bank is so alarmed that the chairman of the board has gone to England in connexion with this matter. Sir Claude Reading has cirtainly gone to England. His trip wan in contemplation, and arrangements were made for it six or nine months ago. It is not improper, but on the contrary is right, that the chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board should visit England fairly early in his tenure of office and acquaint himself with the position in London, because we are now, and must inevitably be for many decades, intimately associated with the London money market. All our financial dealings with the outside world are transacted on the basis of sterling. There are no banking connexions of real consequence between Australia and the rest of the world except through London. All our transactions have first to be converted to English sterling, and then to the currency of the countries with which we trade. Ever since the Genoa conference of 1922, there has been a definite attempt to maintain a constant liaison between the central banking authorities of the world, and particularly of the Empire. The chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board is visiting England in connexion with matters that fall within those legitimate spheres. I say, with all the emphasis at my command, that. Sir Claude Beading’s trip abroad has nothing whatever to do with any fancied anxiety in respect of our London funds.
.- I desire to raise again the pathetic, perennial subject of unemployment. No one really believes that the figures published by the Commonwealth Statistician truly represent the position in regard to unemployment in our community. All that they show is the number of unionists unemployed. That, I admit, is a very considerable number. But were it a true reflex of unemployment, the position would not be very alarming. The fact is, however, that it does not reflect the. true state of unemployment in this country, because a vast number of persons who are out of work have never been members of trade unions. Many young people have grown up without having obtained work, and under existing conditions have no prospects of being placed in employment. They are jostled about the States, from one unemployment camp to another, or wander about the streets with nothing to do. They are becoming incapacitated for work, and will become unemployable if the present state of affairs continues for a lengthy period, because they will not have acquired the habit of regular work and will be unfitted for it. I submit that their position constitutes one of the great problems of the Commonwealth. If we do not find some means for the employment of the vast number of young people who are growing up, we shall be unable to carry on in the future. I make a suggestion which I have made many times within the last six months, and which I also made at the time of my election, although I know that it revives an expedient which many honorable members have dismissed as impracticable. It is the extension of credit for the provision of employment. This proposal arises out of a suggestion, which was discussed in 1930 at an American conference of Federal and State governments, that money should be made available for the purpose of placing people in employment, not in the production of further consumable commodities, but in the rendering of services which, though of inestimable value to the community, might not produce consumable commodities. Valuable as is a policy of protection, it cannot cure unemployment, because increased duties merely add to the output of con sumable goods. In the very nature of things, the consumption of consumable goods, particularly manufactured goods, is limited. The policy of the country should be to provide employment for its people, in the rendering of service of permanent value to the community, such as the clearing of slums, the destruction of noxious weeds and animals on both private and State lands, the clearing of rivers in order to make them navigable - thus improving the productivity of the land - increasing the capacity of the cities to carry a greater population, and giving purchasing power to those who now have none. These things cannot be done without money. I, therefore, come to a proposal, which has been dismissed as impracticable by many people, that money should be provided for these purposes by means of Commonwealth notes. I realize that my suggestion will be met with the objection that any extension of the note issue is inflation; but an extension of the note issue, like an extension of credit, is not necessarily inflation. There is no real distinction between an extension of bank credit and an extension of the note issue. The only reason why the community does not fear an extension of bank credit by the banks is that the people know that the banks are not likely to create an over-supply of the commodity in which they deal. Banks deal in money, and it would be contrary to their interests to have an over-supply of it. Nevertheless the banks, within certain limits, do extend credit as they wish. I realize that a government is not under the same restraint in this respect as is a bank, and, therefore, I do not suggest that the Commonwealth should embark on the unlimited issue of notes. A government does not deal in money ; its chief concern is to carry on until and after the next ensuing election. The people are always more or less afraid that governments will over-issue money, because they know that governments have done so in the past. I suggest that this further issue of money should be made under the authority- of Parliament, and be subject to two checks. First, it should be controlled by the Commonwealth Bank Board in accordance with general principles approved by Parliament, and, secondly, the amount of the issue should be determined by the Loan
Council, which is representative of the Commonwealth and the States. This is not a party matter, for every government and every political party is anxious to place people in employment. My suggestion that the issue should he controlled by the Commonwealth in co-operation with the States, either by the Loan Council or in some other way, guards against the danger of inflation. I have given this matter careful consideration, and I cannot see any other means by which large numbers of our people can be placed in work. We should endeavour to find for the young men who are leaving our schools - fit and strong and ready for work - employment which will bc not only of advantage to the community, but also of benefit to themselves. Unless something is done for our growing youths, they will degenerate and become less valuable citizens than we hope to have in this country in the future.
.- This bill seeks to appropriate £7,236,800 to meet the estimated expenditure for the first .three months of the financial year 1936-37. I accept the assurance of the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) that it does not include any expenditure beyond that incurred during the corresponding period of the previous year.
I take this opportunity to refer to the excessive taxation which the people of this country have to bear. I was pleased to hear the Treasurer say that he expects the financial year to end with the finances of the nation in a buoyant position, and therefore there should be every reason to hope for a generous reduction of the existing, taxation. Should his anticipation in this respect be realized, the Lyons Government will have achieved the happy record of a surplus at the end of each year since 1931.
For many years the national exchequer has been called upon to make large grants to assist the primary industries of this country, and smaller sums have been allocated to a number of secondary industries. I am glad that it has been possible to assist our primary industries in this way, but I hope that the prices of primary products will be so satisfactory that, during the next financial year, the same measure of assistance will not be necessary. If that be so, the anticipated surplus will be larger. The year before last the wheat-growing industry was assisted from the Commonwealth revenue by grants amounting to about £4,000,000, and although last year the amount was less, altogether in recent year3 about £13,000,000 has had to be found for the assistance of wheat-growers. As, more recently, Parliament agreed to a homeconsumption price for wheat, the Treasury should be relieved of the necessity of finding further sums to assist the wheat industry this year. All these savings should make lower ‘ taxation possible. In reducing taxation, the Government should first direct its attention to the removal of emergency taxation imposed in a time df great financial stress. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) made a strong appeal on behalf of the unemployed. With his objective I am in hearty accord, but I am not in agreement with the method proposed by the honorable gentleman. I believe that one of the quickest ways to increase employment is to reduce taxation. That has been proved in the past, and I hope that the future proposals of the Government will allow for even more substantial reductions of taxation. Northing hampers trade or industry, or lowers the standard of living of the people more than does excessive taxation. Much good work which this Government has done in the past in the way of reduced taxation has been handicapped because of excessive taxation imposed by the States, which ‘have made very little effort to reduce it. During the period of depression, all sections of the community were forced to make contributions to the revenue in emergency taxation, Public Service salaries and soldiers’ pension’s were reduced, and funds for social services had to be cut down. To-day, -.the measure of recovery which has taken place has been brought about mainly because of the reduction of federal taxation. A further fillip to recovery will be given if the Commonwealth Government will provide for the restoration of cuts and more liberal reductions of emergency taxation in the Budget. Concessions should be made in the property tax, which is most excessive, and which imposes a heavy hurden on the people. Many people in Australia to-day of advanced age have invested their whole life’s savings in property, and they are seriously handicapped because of the excessive property tax imposed. The super tax and the land tax might well be lightened. The petrol tax is seriously crippling the transport industry, to which very few governments have given much consideration. This has its effect on primary and secondary industries, because of the high cost of transport. Very substantial reductions of sales tax have already been made, and, when an extension of the exemptions is being considered this year, I hope special consideration will be given to the requirements of both .primary and secondary industries. Exemptions should be made which will assist in the expansion and development of industry. During .the last few years, there has been a remarkable inprovement in the secondary industries, which now provide employment for over 500,000 people. This Government can justly claim that, in a large measure, that improvement has been ‘brought about through its efforts. Though this is a national record in employment in secondary industries, there is still room for further expansion. The more we expand our secondary industries in Australia, the better will be the home market for the sale of our primary products. To-day, no less than 85 per cent, of the workers of Australia are employed by private enterprise, and the speediest way in which we can overcome the problem of unemployment is to make possible the profitable expansion and development of secondary industries.
At the present time, under the sales tax acts, tramways are exempt from tax in respect of the purchases of rolling stock and plant, but that concession is not extended to., light railways, which are run like tramways. In Queensland, a light 3-ft. 6-in. railway known as the Beaudesert tramway, purchases its rolling stock and plant from the Queensland Government ; but, because it is contended that it is actually a light railway, and not a tramway within the meaning of the sales tax acts, it is forced to pay sales tax on its purchases. I ask the Treasurer, when the Budget proposals are under consideration, to make provision for the exemption from sales tax of rolling stock and plant for light railways of this kind.
I commend the Minister for Defence (Mr. Archdale Parkhill) for the manner in which he has dealt with the important matter of Australian defence. Not very many years ago, when this Government first came into office, the defence establishment had -been cut to the bone. At that time the financia.1 position of Australia was extraordinarily difficult, but since then there has been a remarkable and very necessary improvement of our defence organization which has resulted in a considerable raising of the morale of the defence forces.
– What authority has the honorable gentleman for saying that?
– Because of the fact that I have had a lengthy association with defence matters dating back to 1911, and was Assistant Minister for Defence for about three years. I know the problems associated with defence, and from contact with the personnel, I know that the improvement of the morale of the forces has taken place. In the short time at my disposal, I am unable adequately to deal with the subject of defence, and I confine myself now to an appeal to the Minister for Defence to restore to rifle clubs the issue of free ammunition formerly granted to them. To-day, unfortunately, the militia is anything but what one would like to see, but under the reorganization of the defence forces, rifle clubs have been placed on the list of reserve units. These clubs have at all times rendered very valuable service to this country; on the outbreak of hostilities in 19141, riflemen were among the first to volunteer to go abroad for the defence of Australia.
– And to the remnants that came back, the Government refused pensions.
– No government has done more than the present Government for ex-soldiers. Apparently, the honorable member does not know or will not know what has been done. If he would compare what Australia has done for its soldiers with what has been done by other countries, he would appreciate the Government’s efforts.
– What about the tubercular soldiers?
– Nowhere else in the world does a tubercular soldier receive a pension of £4 4s. a week, and nowhere else in the world does any soldier suffering from tuberculosis, but who is unable to prove that his complaint ia attributable to war service, get a service pension such as lias been provided by this Government. I have met the executives of soldiers’ organizations in almost every State, and I am aware how they appreciate the assistance rendered to soldiers by this ‘Government. If the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) wants to drag into this debate the question of soldiers’ pensions, I remind him that the party to which he belongs endeavoured to withdraw the preference to returned soldiers, and that it was the Labour party which reduced soldiers’ pensions. I grant, however, that when it was done, the finances of the country were in a bad way.
I appeal to the Government to review its attitude towards the production of power alcohol in Australia- A few days ago, the Prime Minister announced that the Government proposed to allocate the sum of £250,000 for the encouragement of prospecting for flow oil, and to assist in the development of the shale oil industry. I” endeavoured to obtain from the right honorable gentleman an assurance that he would also examine the possibility of the successful development of the power alcohol industry and provide some . definite assistance. Every year in Australia, thousands of gallons of molasses and other by-products of the sugar industry emptied into, our rivers could be converted into power alcohol. The oil expert, of the Commonwealth Government, Mr. Rogers, holds the view that Australia’s supply of oil is more likely to be obtained from flow oil, the distillation of shale, and the hydrogenation of coal than from the by-products of the sugar industry or other agricultural products, and Sir David Rivett, the chief executive officer of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, has been sent abroad to investigate methods of obtaining oil from coal. I desire the
Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) to give me an assurance that this officer will also investigate methods of extracting power alcohol from the by-products of the sugar industry and other agricultural products.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I support the request of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) that the Government should arrange for a member of the Cabinet to visit some of the wheatgrowing areas and orchard districts of Australia, which are at present suffering from acute seasonal difficulties. Honorable members generally do not realize the plight of some of the unfortunate primary producers in such districts. I know from first-hand information that practically no harvest will be reaped from large areas of Western Australia that were sown with wheat. This is due to adverse seasonal conditions entirely, and not to any inefficiency on the part of the farmer.
I should also like a Minister to visit the Huon Valley fruit-growing district of Tasmania. . Although the prices for fruit are better this year than they were last year, the fruit-growers of that particular area are in very unfortunate circumstances. Early in the season, heavy rains fell continuously, which proved favorable to the growth of fungus pests. Later in the year, dry conditions prevailed, and insect pests became prevalent. The result is that many of the fruit-growers there will have very little fruit to market. Last year, the Government made £100,000 available to assist the fruit-growing industry. Of this sum, £20,000 was allocated for research work. Such work is very necessary, and I hope that the Government will make a similar grant this year for that purpose, for the fruit-growing industry is of great importance to Australia.
Last year I had the opportunity to examine the conditions under which Australian fruit is marketed in Great Britain and on the continent. I found that our fruit was welcome because it came on the market when local fruit was not available. It was generally agreed that the Australian fruit-growers were endeavouring successfully to meet the needs of the overseas market. Unsuitable varieties of fruit have been eliminated from the Australian orchards, and it was recognized that the tastes of people overseas were different from those of Australia. Our fruit is now also being marketed in suitable and attractive containers. In these circumstances, there is every justification for encouraging this industry. No one suffered worse in the period from 1931-1933 than did the fruitgrower. An orchardist must gather his harvest year by year, whether it is payable to do so or not. A wheat-grower can reduce the area he puts under crop if the market conditions at a given period are not favorable; but that is not the case with the fruit-grower. In the period to which I have referred, the growers who harvested the largest crop suffered the heaviest loss with the result that many orchardists who were relatively well off in 1930 were nearly bankrupt in 1934. There has never been any complaint of inefficiency on the part of the fruitgrowing industry, and all the circumstances of the case suggest that this industry is worth developing. An “ Eat More Fruit “ campaign has been conducted in Great Britain during the last five years with the result that last year the people of England ate 26 lb. more fruit per capita than- they did five years ago. I trust, therefore, that everything possible will be done to encourage this industry. It is particularly important that the orchardists shall be assisted in their fight against fungus and insect pests by the renewal of the grant that was made for this purpose last year. Neither the neglect nor the ignorance of the fruitgrowers is responsible for the increased ravages of these orchard pests. The orchardists have been able to overcome many pests by means of spraying, but new pests are continually being discovered. When I started fruit-growing for market 35 years ago, I sprayed my orchard twice a year, and our crops were fairly clean. Last year my orchard was sprayed fourteen times, and even then the crop was not too clean. Some orchardists spray fifteen or sixteen times a year for various pests. Unless assistance is given to the fruit-growers to enable them to control orchard pests, this industry will undoubtedly be ruined. A government expert visited Tasmania some time ago to investigate problems connected with refrigeration, but a plant diseases expert of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has never yet visited our fruitgrowing areas. I ask that arrangements be made to give us, on the spot, and for a reasonable period, the help of such an officer. I think that the council should send its experts into the districts where fruit is grown so that they might get first-hand information, arid might also advise the growers as to methods of combating the pests. I trust that when the Government is framing its estimates it will make provision for a further substantial payment of money to the fruitgrowers who have suffered a disastrous season.
During my journey through the United States last year I met our Commissioner in New York, Mr. David Dow. I regret to say that I consider that his office is starved. More money should be made available to that important office. I do not agree with the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Perkins) who said that he had met with a hostile reception whenever he mentioned the name of Australia. The party I was with experienced the opposite. American hosts went out of their way to do the best they could for us.
– I did not mean that that was my personal experience. I meant that hostility was shown to Australia as a nation.
– I do not think that that was so either. I regard the United States of America as being anxious to trade with this country, and I feel sure that there are many ways in which we can increase our trade with that nation. First, however, we shall have to see that our goods are in first-class shape. Unfortunately, goods are often sent from Australia in a condition which does not reflect credit on this country and also has a damaging effect on trade in other lines of high quality. For instance, in New York, I accepted the invitation of the manager of a large timber yard to inspect a shipment of Queensland walnut of which he had just taken delivery. He told me that be would take twenty times the quantity of this timber if he were able to obtain it. I was ashamed, however, to be shown, in the consignment of logs, many which were actually unfit for use and should never have been shipped from this country. I have had a considerable experience of timber, and I was able to observe that the logs indicated to me were grubby and full of knots, making them unfit for use as veneers. The manager of the mill, in fact, told me that if I were prepared to pay the freight he would give me one of the logs to take with me back to Australia, and a big log it was. He said that it was of no use to him and I was compelled to agree with him in that regard. Needless to say, I did not bring it back with me. Before being sent from this country the logs should be properly inspected. All knots should be cut out. I do not know what quantity of walnut there is in Queensland, but whatever there is, there is a ready market for it in the United States of America. I can only presume that the poor quality logs to which I have referred were bought by some speculator who was prepared to dump them in America and get whatever he could for them. That the complaints made by the manager of the saw-mill were justified, I can vouch, but additional proof that faulty timber is being sent abroad lies in the fact that this man told me that he was not complaining in the hope of being able to buy at a cheaper price, as the trade had to have the timber because it was the best in the world for veneer work.
Before concluding I wish to impress upon the Government the necessity for being more generous in its treatment of its New York office, because there is a very great possibility of our developing an expanding trade with the United States of America. Any further remarks that I could make upon this matter, however, I shall leave to the debate on the particular item when the Estimates are introduced.
Sitting Days - Hours ofWork - Press Report of Deputation to Treasurer.
.- I move-
That the House do now adjourn.
– I was disappointed this morning, and I think some other honorable members were also disappointed at the statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) that the House would be adjourned next Thursday until the following Wednesday. I understand that this arrangement has been made to enable honorable members from distant parts to return to their homes for the week-end, but honorable members from Adelaide would either have to stay at Canberra or travel for two days to reach their homes, and another two days back to this city for a sitting which would possibly last no more than three days. I suggest that it would be better if Cabinet arranged matters so that the House would sit next Tuesday, rise on Friday and sit again on the following Tuesday. That would save a rush and the possibility of late sittings.
.- I desire to add a few words to what the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) has said in relation to the proposal for a 40-hour working week. I look on a 40-hour week as being beneficial, but only as a makeshift, although a very valuable one. It has been adopted by the most important democratic countries in the world, whose lead I hope Australia will follow. As I have said, however, it is only a makeshift, just as all kinds of charity and relief, including forestry work, are makeshifts. Certainly many advances have been made in the treatment of the unemployed, but in this respect other English-speaking countries have left Australia behind. I trust that, in the near future, this country will not only equal, but also surpass, what other countries have done. A valuable compendium issued by the Commonwealth Statistician shows that, in 1929, the private wealth of Australia was £3,351,463,000, or £521 per capita, and the public wealth, £1,500,000,000, or a total of £4,851,000,000, which is £770 per capita. Last year it was estimated by accountants and checked by super-accountants, that is, actuaries, that the total wealth of Australia, public and private, was £7,000.000,000. That represents roughly £1,000 for every man, woman and child, but no use whatever is made of that money. We are bora, we live on this earth for a while, and then pass on, hut no one obtains any benefits from this great wealth. It may be said that it acts as a security for our loans; ‘but who benefits, directly or indirectly, from the money Australia borrows overseas? :We do .not utilize the wealth at our disposal; it is as much use to us as is the gold held by France and the United States of America. We shall never liquidate our loans so long as we continue to borrow money on which we have to pay interest. I endorse every word uttered by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) concerning the unemployed; but, after all, we cannot help them until we remove the evils associated with the present financial system. At 82 years of age I am appearing in a moving picture, with the object of raising pennies, and even halfpennies, to assist helpless little children living in a land which is richer than any other in the world. I feel ashamed to tell the children that politicians are the cause of the deplorable conditions under which they are living. No difficulty is found in providing hundreds of millions of pounds to prosecute a war in which human beings are ruthlessly murdered, but insurmountable obstacles are encountered in raising even small sums of money to assist starving human beings. I appeal to honorable members opposite to support the introduction of a 40-hour week, and thereby ease the conditions of those now employed, and also assist in providing work for those who are now idle. Honorable members should read a book by Lord Leverhulme - the greatest organizer in England - who strongly advocates a six-hour day for six days a week. His views are supported ‘by Viscount Haldane, who has helped more than any other man to sway the destinies of the Homeland. I do not propose to delay the House any longer to-day, and I trust that on the next occasion on which I wish to speak on another matter, honorable members will show me similar consideration.
.- I support the remarks of the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey), who suggests that, in arranging the sitting days of Parliament, particularly towards the end of a session, the Government should show greater consideration to honorable members. The adjournment over the Easter holidays was either insufficient, or too long, as Western Australian members who wished to spend one week at home had to occupy two weeks in travelling to and from that State. The question always arises whether the period over which the House adjourns is sufficient to permit honorable members to leave Canberra. At Easter I decided to remain here. We are now approaching the end of another sitting period, and the date on which Parliament i3 to adjourn has not yet been definitely fixed. I understand that it is proposed to sit on Friday of next week. I trust that in arranging sitting days the Government will give more consideration to honorable members. Western Australian members can book railway sleeping berths to Western Australia only on Mondays and Thursdays, and, consequently, their movements are restricted to a greater extent than those of other honorable members. No reason has been given why the House is to sit on Wednesday instead of Tuesday next week.
– The Government has re-arranged the sitting days next week to meet the convenience of honorable members. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) must realize that it is not always easy to meet the convenience of all honorable members; but I assure the House that the fullest consideration will be given to the representations made.
– What are the sitting day3 next week?
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. That will give another long week end.
– Why a long week end ?
– We do not want it.
– It was arranged some time ago that during some weeks the Houses would sit on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays to convenience South Australian members.
– I do not propose to return to South Australia this week.
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.Arrangements cannot be made to suit the convenience of only the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey). The differences of opinion expressed show how difficult it is to meet the convenience of every one. I suggest that the matter be left in the hands of the Government, which will make every effort to meet the convenience of honorable members.
– in reply - The matters raised by honorable members on both sides of the chamber will be brought under the notice of the Ministers concerned. Replying to a question -this morning, I took the opportunity to comment upon a report which appeared in the Melbourne press of a deputation which waited upon me in Canberra last week on taxation matters. Some members of the press have taken my remarks as a reflection upon the newspapers which published the report. I should like to amplify what I have said, and to withdraw the suggestion that the report was a fabrication by the newspapers concerned. The fact is that a deputation representing the Federated Taxpayers Associations of Australia waited upon me. It consisted of Mr. J. L. Gunn, who was spokesman, representing the federated body; Mr. Pettigrove, representing the Victorian association; and Mr. John White, representing the New South Wales association. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) and a senior officer of the Taxation Department were present. The deputation, very properly, made representations with regard to some technical matters in connexion with the Income Tax Assessment Bill, which was then before this House. Those were the only matters referred to. Thus, the House can imagine my surprise when I read in last night’s Melbourne Herald a reference to this matter, in which I am reported to have said something about retrospective taxation; also that I had given certain assurances with regard to reductions of taxes in specific directions. These matters were not touched upon. This report which, I understand, was given in the name of Mr. Pettigrove, is completely untrue. Not only did I not give such assurances, but the deputation never mentioned the matters referred to in this report. I have since confirmed my recollection of what took place at the deputation, by reference to the honorable member for Wentworth, the senior member of the Taxation Department who was present, and Mr. Gunn, who led the deputation.
– I rise to a point of order. Throughout my parliamentary experience it has been the practice for the Minister in charge of the House to move “ That the House do now adjourn “ and, if he thinks fit, to take the opportunity to introduce any matter of interest or urgency about which he would like to express his views. Alternatively, he simply moves the adjournment of tha House. Then, other honorable members may rise and address themselves to almost any matter; and usually the Minister then replies. But I have never previously known the Minister, who moved the adjournment of the House, to wait until he was closing the debate before introducing a new and controversial matter, thus depriving honorable members of an opportunity to discuss it, as they would have been able to do had the Minister mentioned it when proposing the motion. I submit that, in this instance, the Treasurer is out of order.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).I am asked to rule whether it is competent for a Minister who moved the adjournment of the House to mention, when replying, a new matter, which may be of a controversial nature. In this Parliament, and in the ‘State parliaments, it has been the practice to allow a general discussion on the motion for the adjournment of the House. I cannot recall any instance in which a similar point of order has been raised. The Chair cannot rule that the Minister may not introduce a new matter when he is replying to the debate; this is a matter for the discretion of the Minister.
– I shall not delay the House at greater length, except to emphasize that, if Mr. Pettigrove is correctly reported, I give a complete denial to the statements which, according to this newspaper report, he has attributed to me. The correctness or otherwise of the report is a matter between that gentleman and the newspaper concerned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 3.50 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
y asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
son asked the Prime Minister, upon notice. -
Will he advise the House as to whether the Government has been given any reason by the British Government why ‘the statutory six months’ notice, expiring on the 7th May, has not been given to Argentina terminating the Anglo-Argentine meat agreement, and state whether the Government proposes to take steps to press for such notice to be given immediately?
– Advice has been received from the United Kingdom Government that consideration has been given to the action to be taken under article 6 of the Trade Agreement with Argentina of the 1st May, 1933. Under that article it was possible on the 7th May for six months’ notice of the termination of the agreement to be given by either party. In view of the fact that the discussions with the Argentine Government regarding the modification of the provisions of the existing agreement are still proceeding, it has been proposed that, instead of the formal notice of termination being given on the 7th May, it should be agreed that either party should be at liberty at a date subsequent to the 7th May to give notice of termination to take effect as from the 7 th November, 1936, i.e., as though the prescribed six months’ notice had been given on the 7th May. This proposal has been accepted by both parties, and arrangements are being made to bring it into effect by exchange of notes. The effect will be that time will be afforded for the current negotiations with the Argentine to continue without the possibility of bringing the existing agreement to an end on the 7th November being affected. I would point out that, under this arrangement, negotiations can be carried on for a long-term agreement dealing with the imports of dominions beef into the United Kingdom subsequent to the termination of the agreement with Argentina. It will thus be possible to reconcile the interests of the dominions with the undertakings that are given to Argentina by the United Kingdom after the 7th November.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
Will he state the position regarding the treaty negotiations between Britain and Egypt?
– Preliminary discussions in regard to the negotiation of a treaty started on the 2nd March, and are still in progress. The British Government took the view that questions relating to the military defence of Egypt and also the Sudan should be reviewed before the negotiations proper for a treaty commenced. If these questions are satisfactorily settled in the preliminary discussions, it is expected that there will be no insuperable difficulty in arriving at an agreement on other points, and it should be possible to conclude a treaty acceptable to both Great Britain and Egypt.
EUROPEAN Staff Conversations.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
In view of the statements made in the House of Commons, will he inform the House of the .progress of staff conversations between the Governments of France, Belgium, and Britain T
– In accordance with the proposals drawn up on the 19th March by the representatives of Belgium, France and the United Kingdom, the General Staffs, Navy, Army and Air, of the three countries, were instructed to enter into contact with a view to arranging technical conditions in which the mutual obligations in case of unprovoked aggression should be carried out. It was made clear, in the interchange of notes on this question, that the contact between the staffs could not give rise in respect of the governments to any political undertaking, nor to any obligations regarding the organization of national defence. The conversations between the representatives of Great Britain, Belgium, and France commenced on the 15th April, and have now been concluded. The honorable member will appreciate that it would not be in the public interest to disclose the outcome of such conversations, which were highly confidential in character.
n asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– Information is being obtained.
y asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
y. - On the 5th May, the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) asked the following questions, upon notice: -
I am able to supply the honorable member with the following particulars : -
In New South Wales four warrants have been executed and thirteen are current; in Victoria no warrants have been executed, and there are three current ; in Queensland no warrants have been executed, and five are current; in South Australia six warrants have been executed, and nine arc current; in Western Australia two warrants have been executed, and there are none current; and in Tasmania no warrants have been executed, and there are none current.
l. - On the 29th April, the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) asked, without notice, a question pertaining to the broadcasting from Station 4QG- of luncheonfunctions held under the auspices of the Constitutional Club, Brisbane. I am now in a position to furnish the honorable member with the following answer to his inquiries : -
The Australian Broadcasting Commission, which transmits the weekly luncheon speeches from the Constitutional Club, Brisbane, states that the addresses have been of purely topical interest, of a non-political and noncontroversial character. It will continue to exercise special care in approving of speakers and their subjects where the addresses are to be broadcast.
Broadcasting Station for Brisbane.
l. - On the 5 th May, the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Baker) made certain inquiries regarding the question of the establishment of a second A class wireless broadcasting station at Brisbane. I am now in a position to supply the honorable member with the following information: -
The post office is fully cognizant of the desirability of ‘ providing all listeners with alternative programmes, but has refrained from incurring special expenditure to provide this facility in populous centres while many country areas remain unprovided with a reasonable service. It has also to be appreciated that in the populous centres there is invariably a great variety of programmes because of the existence of licensed stations, as well as national stations.
Ship Construction in Australia.
– On the 30th April, the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) asked the following questions, upon notice: -
With regard to part 1 of the question, I intimated to the honorable member that inquiries would he made as to whether Burns, Philp and Company Limited is taking the action referred to. I have been advised by the company that it has sent an engineer to Hong Kong for the purpose of obtaining from the dockyards there quotations for small diesel vessels suitable for the inter-island trade of New Guinea, and other groups under British administration in the Pacific. The company states that the vessels are to be used exclusively outside Australia. It is proposed at an early date to invite tenders for a subsidized inter-island service for the Territory of New Guinea, and the question of granting preference in connexion with the tenders to firms using vessels built in Australia will be considered.
New Guinea Public Service.
y. - On the 1st May, the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) asked a question, without notice, relating to the appointment of cadets to the Public Service of the Territory of New Guinea. I am now able to inform the honorable member that vacancies for cadets in the New Guinea Public Service were advertised some months ago, and that more than 1,700 applications were received. Fifteen appointments have been made from the applicants who responded to the advertisement. Further vacancies have occurred, and steps are now being taken for the appointment of additional cadets. All the applications received in response to the advertisement have been carefully examined, and about 100 have been selected for further consideration in connexion with the filling of the existing vacancies. The other applicants have been advised that their applications have not been successful, and when a selection is made to fill the further vacancies, the remaining applicants will be advised of the result of their applications.
Norfolk Island Newspapers.
y. - On the 30th April, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) asked a question, without notice, in relation to the Printers and Newspaper Ordinance of Norfolk Island. I am now in a position to advise the honorable member that consideration has been given to the representations that have been made, and it has been decided that certain amendments should be made to the ordinance. The proposed amendments will be embodied in a draft ordinance which will be submitted to the Advisory Council pursuant to the provisions of the Advisory Council Ordinances 1935.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 May 1936, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1936/19360508_reps_14_150/>.