14th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. j. Bell) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
. -by leave - It is with regret that I inform honorable members of the death, in Brisbane, on the 28th September, of the Honorable Thomas Glassey, who was a member of the Senate in the first Commonwealth Parliament.
Mr. Glassey was elected to the Queensland Legislative Assembly as member for Bundamba, at the general election in May, 1888, and held that seat until May, 1893. He was elected as member for Burke at a by-election in 1894, and for Bundaberg at the general election in March, 1896.
The deceased gentleman was a member of the Federal Council of Australasia in 1899. At the first general elections for the Commonwealth Parliament in 1901 he was elected to the Senate as a representative of the State of Queensland, and continued to be a member of that chamber until the general elections of 1903.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) referred recently to the sad fact that the ranks of those who served in the first Commonwealth Parliament were being rapidly thinned. The death of Mr. Glassey has, unfortunately, removed another pioneer member, who, in his capacity as a member of the Federal Council of Australasia and as a senator in the first Commonwealth Parliament, was actively associated with the establishment of federation.
I invite honorable members to join in an expression of sympathy with the members of his family in their bereavement. I move -
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Thomas Glassey, a former member of the Commonwealth and Queensland Parliaments, and the Federal Council of Australasia, records its appreciationof his public services, and tenders to the members ofhis family its deep sympathy in their bereavement.
Mr.CURTIN (Fremantle) [2.33].- With deep regret, I second the motion. I join with the Acting Leader of the House (Dr. Earle Page) in expressing the highest respect for a man who first entered one of the parliaments of Australia nearly 50 years ago, later taking an active part in the establishment of federation, and, as the right honorable gentleman has said, becoming a member of the first Commonwealth Parliament.
In his earlier years, the deceased gentleman was prominently associated with the formation of the Australian Labour movement, and, although, as the years passed, his views differed from those of his early colleagues, he was always held in the greatest respect because of the strength of his convictions and what was accepted as a simple and sincere interest of the purpose by which he was always animated. Time dissolves even rocks, and, as the years go by, those who have been associated with the public life of Australia for more than two score’ years will become fewer and fewer. It would be unfortunate, I think, if Australia did not keep alive some phases . at least of the personal history of men who have helped to make this Commonwealth a reality. I seize the present occasion to express the hope that in the schools of this nation there will be given to the scholars the opportunity, not only to become acquainted with the official landmarks of Australian history, but also to obtain some knowledge of those distinguished personalities which have graced our public life in the years that have gone, and are now becoming merely memories to us all.
.- As one of the oldest friends of the late Tom Glassey, I desire to add my tribute to that of the mover and the seconder of the motion. I learned much from the deceased gentleman, and am certain that, had he remained in the Old Land, he would have helped forward in no slight degree the cause of humanity. He was incorruptible. No stigma has ever been attached to his name, despite the fact that, as I have heard from his own lips, efforts were made at times to cause him to deviate from the principles which he espoused. I shall always regret that I had not greater opportunities to share his company and obtain a truer appreciation of the goodness of his heart. Although political differences arose, there was never any wavering of the friendship which existed between him and others, including myself. Notwithstanding the regret that I feel at the passing of dear friends, I shall always rejoice and find solace in the belief that those whom I have loved and lost in this life will be among the first to welcome me whenI pass through the shadows. I fervently hope that I shall then grasp the hand of a dear friend, that of Tom Glassey.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) agreed to -
That the foregoing resolution be transmitted to the relatives of the late Mr. Glassey, together with a copy of the speeches delivered thereon.
Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 10.30 a.m. to-morrow.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act -
Repatriation Commission - Report for year 1935-36.
Ordered to be printed.
Census and Statistics Act - Regulations amended- Statutory Rules 1936, No. . 127.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at Maylands, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
– (Has the Acting Leader of the House seen the press report to the effect that the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) stated that there was no hope of an agreement being reached with Japan in respect of trade, and if so, does he regard the report as justified? Will hestate what is the actual position in regard to the negotiations, and may we expect them to be brought to a successful conclusion?
– I saw the statement in a section of the morning press, and immediately communicated with the Prime Minister, who denied that he had stated that there was no hope of a settlement of the trade dispute with Japan.
His reply is as follows: -
I made no such statement, I simply said that the policy was the policy of thewhole Government, and that it had received full consideration. I also said that the principle involved had to stand, and that we had done, and would continue to do, everything in our power to bring the dispute to a satisfactory conclusion, not disregarding the interests of the wool-growers.
Date of Referendum
– Is it correct, as reported in the press to-day, that the Commonwealth Government has come to a decision regarding the holding of a referendum on the alteration of the Constitution, and that the vote will be held in February? Is the Acting Leader of the House able to tell the House what will be the terms of the referendum?
– The Prime Minister has already indicated that the Government has reached a decision is regard to the holding of the referendum. The actual terms have not yet been finally decided, and, therefore, cannot be communicated to the House.
– Can the Acting Leader of the House state whether the shipping magnate, Sir John Ellerman, who died recently and left an estate of £36,000,000, was in any way connected with the shipping company to which the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers was sold? If so, is it the intention of the Government to lodge a claim against the late Sir John Ellerman’s estate for the recovery of the unpaid part of the purchase money?
– I am sure the honorable member does not suggest that I was so intimately acquainted with the affairs of the lateSir John Ellerman as to know of all his family ramifications. I shall endeavour to obtain the information which the honorable member desires.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs been drawn to an article by Professor Giblin in the Melbourne Herald of yesterday’s date, in which he mentions the book Eyeless in Gaza, and criticizes the censorship of books, and also, I am afraid, the Minister himself?
– by leave- Owing to frequent misrepresentation in a section of the press, it is necessary to restate what the Government’s policy is regarding book censorship. Ever since federation, under section 52c of the Customs Act goods which include prints, postcards,books and films considered “ indecent, blasphemous or obscene “ have been classed as prohibited imports. In the case of books the definition is not always easy to define. Neither had the Minister for Trade and Customs for the moment, who was the deciding authority, the time for a proper perusal of such books as were detained. He often had to pass judgment after a cursory examination. To give the broadest interpretation possible, the Government set up on my recommendation in 1933 a voluntary board of three eminent and cultured citizens, of whichSir Robert Garran is chairman, to read and recommend what books fall within the definition of the act. Their recommendations are always accepted.
There is no duty on books ; but there is, unfortunately, a certain amount of degenerate rubbish printed which has no value as literature, and which few will deny should be excluded, While other books are sometimes defiled by introducing passages which, as is possible in the case of films, cannot be cut out. Decisions on such books are difficult, yet the board takes a generous view where such references are incidental, and not the theme of the book. Typical reports by the board on books referred to them are as follows: - “’ This book is not without merit, though somewhat crude. But it is disfigured by some grossly indecent passages, without any excuse of being necessary to the story. A book cannot be ‘cut’ like a film; and if an author chooses to offend in this way, he must take the consequences. The board recommends that the book be prohibited on the ground of indecency.” “ It is full of dirt and indecency, without the excuse of any serious purpose.” “Censorship Hoard considers this a prurient and indecent book.”
There are critics who continually assert that the only review is by some unknown customs official, or by the Minister; but that is definitely not so since June, 1933. Much criticism falls unfairly also in respect of certain books which were “ listed “ during previous administrations before any board was set up. The Government cannot accept responsibility for those decisions.
Now Professor Giblin, who may or may not be a fountain of knowledge as an economist and member of the Commonwealth Bank Board, comes into the field as a critic in an article in the Melbourne Herald, but he falls into the error of endeavouring to be an authority on too many things when he writes on censorship, and is setting up a straw man to knock over again when he mentions Eyeless in Gaza. This book is not banned, but was merely detained and examined by the Book Censorship Board, as also were those recently mentioned in Sydney. He completely ignores in his attack on censorship, and on me, personally, the fact that there is a board which advises on these matters. He says -
Censorship procedure of the kind we have suffered from would not be possible if there were in Parliament even a solid minority of people acutely conscious of the ridiculous futility of the censor’s antics. It is abundantly clear that there is not; that with hardly an exception, our representatives in Parliament do not care, or have not the time, to be really bothered about these things, except insofar as they may be made to score a point in the party game.
In Great Britain, there is an illicit trade in banned books, and there is no surer way to encourage the smuggling and trade in them here than by unfair criticism in the press, to the proprietors of which I appeal to deal with this matter without exaggeration. The great body of people, and the Council of Churches - who are not so vocal as the critics - believe that the censorship as operating is necessary, whereas those who are doing their best to stimulate the sales of this class of work, either by constant reiteration of the names of certain books, or by professing great indignation when any book should be examined, are doing much harm. Some of those very critics who want no censorship for their own. wares are inconsistently advocating censorship and restriction of syndicated stories and sketches by others.
Those: who advocate the British system of prosecution within the courts do not realize that in Australia, with its seven governments, it would be unworkable. Moreover, the British system is harsher in its incidence with heavy fines and confiscation. Importers, who inadvertently import books into Australia which are on the prohibited list, are given the opportunity to return them, and at any time within four months may test the governmental decision in a court of law, access to which would be facilitated by the Customs Department. The recent outbursts have been unwarranted. If it is admitted that some supervision is necessary, then it will be agreed that a broad and tolerant outlook is taken, and I think that opinion would be more general but for misleading comment from the uninformed, and by certain egregious publicists.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether certain references in his statement regarding the impossibility of maintaining the standard of morals in publications by police supervision and police prosecutions in the States may be taken to imply that the Commonwealth censorship of books is part of a policy for the protection of the local printing of a certain type of literature rather than an endeavour to maintain the standard of literature in Australia?
– Knowing how strongly the honorable member for Wakefield supports all protective measures, I have no doubt that he would support censorship measures whether they were based on moral or protective considerations. The censorship pursuant to the provisions of the Police Offences Acts of the States covers Australian publications, whereas the censorship under Commonwealth regulations covers importations.
– In order to enable honorable members to understand more clearly the ideas, methods and standards of censorship set up by the Minister for Trade and Customs and officers of his department will the Minister explain fully his conception of indecency as applied to literature?
– On the 23rd September, the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) asked a question regarding the work of the Advisory Council on Nutrition. I am now able to advise him. that the Commonwealth Advisory Council on Nutrition initiated its inquiries at itsfirst meeting on the 17 th April, 1936. A first report of the council has already been published, and a second progress report is now being printed. In addition to the voluntary work of members of the Advisory Council, and of the. State committees in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia, six paid supervisors have Been appointed inconnexion wth the local inquiries, with one statistician and one biochemist working at the Sydney School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. The total cost to date of the inquiry is approximately £213 5s.10d.
South African Was Veterans - Imperial Ex-Service Men
– I remind the Minister for Repatriation that, while he was in Brisbane last August, he received a deputation from the South African War Veterans Association, which requested that the members of that body should be placed on the same footing as ex-members of the Australian ImperialForce in regard to service pensions. The right honorable gentleman promised to place the request before Cabinet. Has he done so; if so, with what result? .
-The subject mentioned by the honorable member has been brought under my notice, not only by him but also by other honorable gentlemen. I told the deputation which he introduced to me in Brisbane, that I was sympathetic towards their request, but I regret that I am not yet in a position to say anything further. The honorable member may assure the members of the association that the subject will be given the most careful consideration by Cabinet.
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation whether he does not consider that Imperial ex-service men who have been residents in and taxpayers of Australia for a number of years should not be brought within the. provisions of the Australian Soldiers? Repatriation’ Act. If he does not approve of that suggestion, will he make representations to the. Imperial Government with the object of causing to be set. up in Australia a tribunal representative of the Imperial Government and Imperial) ex-service men, similar tothe tribunal which deals with pension claims by exsoldiers of the Australian Imperial Force and their dependants, so that the pension claims of Imperial ex-service men may be investigated ?
– It is rather difficult to answer that question, but I shall be glad to inquire whether the Imperial authorities favour the setting up of a pensions tribunal in this country, similar to those which investigate the pension claims of ex-members of the Australian Imperial Force and their dependants. The Commonwealth Government will be glad to co-operate with the British Government in such. a. matter.
– I ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral whether he will take immediate action to effect an improvement in the trunk line telephone service between Canberra and Sydney to obviate the present serious delays?
– I shall bring the subject under the notice of. the PostmasterGeneral.
– I ask the Acting Leader of the House whether he remembers that a very long time ago a promise was given that an attempt would be made to arrange a. trade treaty with Canada? Has anything been done in the matter ?!
– Information has been received that the Canadian? Minister for Commerce, the Honorable W. D. Euler, will leave Canada for Australia in October to discuss this subject with representatives of the Commonwealth. Government.
Fixed Pricesfor Materials
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs seen a press report to the effect that, at a recent meeting of the Master Builders Association in Sydney, a master builder named! Marron said that if any member of the Fibrous: Plaster Manufacturers Association departed from the fixed scale of prices, he ran the risk of having his supplies of raw material cut off? Has the Minister received any complaints on this subject? If so, does theGovernment propose to take any action against monopolies and combines which are seeking, by artificial means; to increase the price of building materials?
– I had complaints on this subject about twelve months ago, but I thought the matter had been adjusted. I have not seen the reportreferred to by the honorable member, but; if a prima facie case can be made’ out that there is restraint of trade in any way. I will consider sending the subject to the Tariff Board for inquiry.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence whether he. will ask that honorable gentleman to consider making available at the Naval Recruiting Depot, Rushcutter’s Bay, one of the destroyers now lying idle and out of commission there for the purpose of giving technical training to volunteer naval ratings?.
– I shall have inquiries made to see what can be done.
– I ask the Acting Leader of the House whether, in view of the possibility of the trade dispute with Japan being extended, the Government has considered the taking of any action to facilitate the purchase of our wool by other countries? I also wish to know whether it has considered what action should be taken to protect our wool industry in the event of a sudden fall in the price of wool?
– The interests of the graziers of Australia have always been in the forefront of the Government’s mind.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce whether instructions were given to the honorable member for Parramatta before he was Bent to represent the Commonwealth Government at the International Labour Conference at Geneva as to how he should vote on the 40-hour week proposal? If no such instructions were given, did the Government beforehand go to any trouble to inform itself of the views of the honorable member on this matter?
– I refer the honorable member to a very full answer to this question which was set out on the notice-paper yesterday.
-Has the Treasurer yet received the report on national insurance from the British officials who are now in Australia inquiring into this matter on behalf of the Commonwealth Government? If so, when will the report be made available to this House?
– No report on this matter has yet been received, and as a considerable amount of work has yet to be done I am unable to give any indication as to when it will be received.
– I ask the Attorney-General, as representing the Minister for External Affairs, if he can indicate to the House when the delegates to the League of Nations are likely to consider the recommendations of the Commonwealth Government and those of other governments for the reform of, the League? Will this matter be brought forward immediately or towards the end of the present sittings of the Assembly?
– I am unable to to answer that question precisely. I understood that discussion on the matter was commenced last night, but I do not know how long it will last. It is anticipated, however, that in the ordinary course of events, it will take a few days.
– I ask the Minister for Health whether the Government has yet considered the representations made to him by a deputation in Sydney recently that, in the interests of national health, the Commonwealth Government should assist in providing milk for school children.
– This matter has been submitted to the Government but in view of the very limited powers of the Commonwealth Government in respect of health and in the absence of any assurance that co-operation by the State Governments will be possible, no decision has yet been made. The Commonwealth Government, however, is entirely sympathetic with the objective which the deputation had in view, and, personally, I am entirely in favour of it.
Privy Council Decision
– Has the attention of the Attorney-General been called to the fact that Mr. James, who has made himself notorious in connexion with the recent dried fruits case before the Privy Council, is returning to Australia with the object of lodging a claim for £25,000 against the Commonwealth Government? Will the Minister be able to deal with this gentleman under the language test provided by the Immigration Restriction Act?
-It is very difficult to answer the honorable member’s question, but, on the whole, I think the answer is in the negative.
SALES TAX BILLS (Nos. 1 to 9) 1986. Assent reported.
(No. 2) 1936.
, - I move -
That the bill be nowread a second time.
Inquiries made after the enactment of the wool tax legislation at the close of the last session showed that some of the present provisions of the law would result in serious inconvenience to some phases of the wool trade and also in considerable expenditure in the effective policing of the tax. This bill provides for the necessary variations of the present machinery provisions to overcome these difficulties without disturbing the basic principles of the tax. It is confidently expected that these amendments, which are to have effect as from the date of the commencement of the present act, will eliminate practically all inconvenience to persons engaged in the wool trade and reduce administrative costs to a negligible figure. Conferences held in four States by the Commissioner of Taxation with representatives of the wool-brokers, banks, manufacturers, shipping agents and graziers showed that all sections of the wool trade are in agreement with these proposed alterations. This view was confirmed by me in the course of recent conversations with numerous people associated with the sale, export and local treatment of wool.
The bill is designed to impose tax on wool, first, when it is received by woolbrokers, manufacturers, scourers or approved dealers; secondly in the case of wool produced by such persons at the time of actual production; and thirdly, when it is exported. Provision is made to ensure that wool which has once passed through the hands of a taxpayer will not again be subject to tax. A variation of the class of taxpayers has been made to cover all wool-brokers and not merely those wool-brokers who are members of the National Council of Wool-selling Brokers of Australia. At the same time, certain small classes of dealers, hawkers and like persons, who tour the countryside buying small quantities of wool from share-farmers, mixed farmers and small graziers, have been excluded. Wool pur chased by them will be dealt with when it reaches the hands of those who are defined as dealers. I need not stress the difficulty of effectively administering the tax so as to ensure payment, as is required under the present scheme, by persons who receive wool from the producers.
The inclusion of wool-scourers as taxpayers enables the administration to treat all scoured wool as free of tax, as, ob- viously, it will have previouslybeen received by a scourer. This removes all possibility of double taxation which would otherwise inevitably occur, both in the case of scoured wool when it is re-sorted and baled, as well as in the case of wool which has been taxed in the greasy state, and when scoured, is not identifiable with the greasy wool on which the tax has been paid.
All persons who pay tax on wool received by them are authorized by this measure to recover the amount of that tax from the persons from whom they received the wool, thus ensuring that the tax will be borne, as intended, by the producer of the wool.
The bill authorizes the giving of securities in certain cases where such action is considered necessary to ensure compliance with the law. This provision is similar in its terms to corresponding provisions in the sales tax legislation.
Opportunity is taken in the bill to provide for four minor matters, viz. : -
The remaining provisions of the bill consist of amendments to overcome minor drafting defects and amendments consequential upon those to which I have already referred. These will be more specifically dealt with at the committee stage. As I saidat the outset, no vital principles are involved. I ask honorable members to assist the Government to pass the measure expeditiously, in order to facilitate the collection of the tax and the administration ofthe act generally.
.- In the coarse of his speech, the Assistant Minister forCommerce (Mr. Thorby) said that inquiries made after the enactment of the wooltax legislation in May, at the close of the last sittings of this Parliament, had shown that some of the provisions of the present law would result in serious inconvenience to certain sections of the wool trade, and also that considerable expenditure would be involved in effectively policing the act . He also remarked that the bill provided ‘for necessary variations ofthe machinery provisions,without disturbing the basic principles of the tax. He went on to assure us that the amendments now proposed, which he states are not of a contentious nature, would eliminate practically all inconvenience to persons engaged in the wool trade, and reduce administrative costs to a negligible figure. We are further informed that all sections of the trade are in agreement with the proposed amendments. I point out to the Minister that his action in submitting this bill a few months after the principal act has been placed on thestatute-book, and telling us that the measure contains serious flaws which would inflict great inconvenience on those engaged in the industry and involveconsiderable expenditure in connexion with the policing of the act, shows that important legislationof this kind is hurriedly drafted and submitted to the House without mature consideration.
Having looked up the speech madeby the Minister in May last, I find that he said that the legislation had been introduced after careful consideration. He remarked that he had consulted all sections of the wool trade, and that the wool-growers and graziers’ associations were practically unanimous as to the necessity for the measure.
– That is quite correct.
– I presume the Minister had every opportunity to consider the position of the industry from various aspects, and to take into consideration the views of all interests concerned before introducing the bill; but now we are told that the legislation passed in May causes serious inconvenience and expense. In other words, it was hurriedly and carelessly drawn, and we are now urged to pass amending legislation without delay.
When the Wool Publicity and Research Bill 1936 was under consideration, 1 moved that the measure be redrafted ‘to provide for a ballot of all Australian wool-growers to decide whether they favoured the proposed levy on wool and the suggested method of administering the fund.
The Opposition took that action as the result of representations made by the selectors’ association andnumerous individual wool-growers. We were informed by the Minister that it was essential to pass that bill expeditiously, although the industry had managed without it for many years. We warned the Government that it was apparently actingwithout mature considerationand would probably find it necessary toretrace its steps. What the Minister has said to-day shows that the view expressed by the Opposition in May last was correct.
– The honorable member is referring to another act. This is the Wool Tax Assessment Bill.
– One is associated with the other, and in May last the Minister made one speech to cover both. I moved an amendment and it was not accepted. Moreconsideration should be given to legislation of this description before it is submitted to Parliament. Too much time of the House is occupied in the consideration of amending bills, and the cost of printing is unnecessarily increased.
.- I am not: sure that the House would be well advised to accept the bill in its present form. It appears to provide for the licensing of men who carry on the. business of dealers in wool. A large number of wealthy wool-growers and wool merchants desire to keep the small man out of the business..
– This measure does not affect the small man.
– I had great difficulty in grasping the details ofthe bill, because of the rapid manner in which the Minister’s speech was delivered. Power is. to be given to a commissioner to appoint dealers in wool, and a fine of £100 is provided for certain offenders. Before a person can buy or sell wool, he. must apply to the Commissioner for a licence and produce certain securities. I am opposed to that principle. Where the livelihood of a man is involved, especially if he is a. small trader, he should not be compelled to. comply with such conditions. I regret that State Parliaments have over and over again endeavoured to limit the rights of individuals to earn their livelihood in an avocation in which they might be successful. I do not object to the granting of certain powers to the Commissioner to. protect the revenue, but L am opposed to giving him the right to issue licences and to de-licence persons who are engaged in the wool trade unless they can produce adequate securities. This bill should be postponed until honorable members have had an opportunity to study its contents. Much of the legislation in connexion with primaryproducing industries is being forced upon this House. A few months ago we debated the parent bill, and on that occasionnearly every honorable member who represented the wool-growing interests of Australia stated that it was a perfect measure which was most desirable from the viewpoint of the industry. Although that legislation was passed only a few months ago, it has now been found necessary to introduce a bill containing three pages of amendments. I have no objection to the industry taking steps to protect itself, but I do object to the granting of powers- to a- Commissioner to refuse persons permission to deal inthe sale of wool.
.-Ihave always contendedthat the title of this bill is a misnomer.In the; first place, it is not a wool tax assessment bill, and, therefore) the measure which is now being considered by the House cannot properly be called a. bill to amend a Wool Tax: Assessment Act. This legislation was introduced ins this Parliament, and at the request of the: wool-growing industry was approved; and, as far as I have been able to ascertain, it does not contain any of that offensive matter which a. section of honorable members, who sometimes express their opposition to the granting of any relief to primary industries, contend is found in similar legislation. It was gives a considerable amount of thought by the representatives of the wool trade, and,, with the exception of one small organization in Queensland, no opposition was expressed to it. At the time I took note of that objection, but when I communicated with wool-growinginterests in Queensland, I found that they were wholly in accord with the passing of the bill. Its origin lay in the realization that the wool-grower should have some means of protecting his interests, not only in Australia,, but also throughout the world, and particularly in regard to putting up a defence against artificial fabrics which were being used as substitutes for wool. The advisability of having this measure was stressed at the: time, and the wool-growing industry expressed its willingness to subscribe to a fund - not a tax - for the purpose that I have outlined. The levy itself is very low. Honorable members should realize that this legislation represents a new experiment, and from the amendments which we are now asked to consider it is apparent that many of the provisions which are required to bring about the reasonable organization and control! within the industry were omitted from the parent measure. The amendments, however, contain nothing which would be contrary to that which was made possible by the act. By the definition ofa “dealer” it is not Fought to exclude any one whom honorable members might reasonably consider should be included in it, but as the term is at present used in the act, an amendment is necessary to clarify the real intention of Parliament and the graziers of Australia. The liability to pay the contribution is certainly provided for in this bill. Another small amendment deals with essential returns. Other clauses refer to the due date of payment, security, exports, provision for the payment of the tax by legal personal representatives of deceased persons and other minor matters regarded as being essential to amplify the principal act. Therefore, I fail to see any justification for the complaints which some honorable members have made in regard to the introduction of the measure because certain amendments of an approved act of Parliament have been found necessary in order to operate the act itself in the light of experience. In supporting the measure, I regret that so many amendments are essential, but I would not support it against my principles.
– The Country party is able to have all its desires fulfilled in regard to the interests of the primary producers, while other sections of the community get nothing.
– Does the honorable member think that the primary producers of Australia are so well catered for by their parliamentary representatives that they can get everything which they desire?
– Is not coal a primary product, yet the coal-mining industry gets no assistance from the Government?
– The primary producer would receive no assistance from the hands of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James).
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).Order ! These exchanges are disorderly.
– This bill does not give any greater concession to the wool-growers of Australia, and it does not touch the public purse. It makes provision, at the request of wool-growing interests, for the necessary legislative machinery to enable them to make a voluntary contribution to a fund for the protection of their interests.
– A voluntary contribution? I dispute that.
– Yea ; it is voluntary to the extent that the woolgrowers asked for it. The honorable member cannot complain about that because he believes the subscriptions of unionists should be paid before the men can get a job.
– I agree with that principle.
– Whereas the funds which are contributed to the Labour party organizations are designed for political purposes, the funds which are being collected under this legislation will be devoted to the promotion of the interests of the industry. The expenditure of the contributions collected from woolgrowers, and the means by which the collections shall be made, are governed by an act of Parliament. The honorable member must know that the levy on every bale of wool could not possibly be used to augment party funds. In the case of industrial workers who are compulsory members of a union, the funds they contribute are definitely -spent for political purposes, but none of the money collected from the graziers can be put to similar use.
– Does not the honorable member believe in unionism?
– I believe in unionism and in the organization of primary producers, but I do oppose the suggestion that this amending legislation contains anything detrimental to the principles which we haVe already agreed to in the act, because they are merely machinery amendments to facilitate the operation of the act. The act was passed at the request of the graziers, in order to provide, not for a tax, but fo’r the raising of a fund which they themselves would administer in the interests of the industry which means so much to them. Although the contribution is a voluntary one, there must be provision in this and similar legislation to secure observance of it by all. It is one of the most useful’ acts that has been passed for the assistance of the wool industry.
– I find myself in agreement with the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser). It is a pity that the act was given the unfortunate name of a tax assessment act. The payment made under it is purely and simply a voluntary one, but because it was described as a tax, it has been somewhat unpopular among those by whom it has not been understood. In a tour that I made among a number of graziers, I was surprised to find a certain section opposed to this legislation because of its name. It is well known that every organized body of graziers throughout the Commonwealth asked the Commonwealth Government to pass it. The funds derived under it are not used by the Government, but go back to the industry itself. The necessity to protect the industry was pointed out by the Assistant Minister for Commerce (Mr. Thorby). To-day, concern is felt in regard to the trade relations of Australia with Japan. It is thought that the differences which exist between the two countries are likely to affect the price of wool. To my mind there is a far greater danger than Japan. If the graziers do not get, together and advertise their products throughout Europe and the rest of the world, loss of sales is practically certain to be experienced. Overseas newspapers contain advertisements advising people not to wear wool, on the ground that it is the cause of certain diseases and complaints. Those who are carrying on the artificial wool industry are engaging in an intensive policy of advertising throughout the world in opposition to the use of wool.
– The statements made by those people are entirely inaccurate.
– I agree that they are, and they must be contradicted. It is but natural that some persons should hesitate to wear wool when they are told that it causes a skin disease. Steps must be taken to counteract that propaganda. The bill contains only consequential amendments of the act, which must necessarily be made. It is only right and proper that, as every one is to benefit, all should contribute. I support the measure wholeheartedly, and congratulate the Minister on having brought it forward.
.- This bill sounds the death knell of individualism, concerning which we have heard so much from members of the United Country party and the United Australia party. Those gentlemen have always claimed to believe in freedom of individual action. Their avowed policy has been to avoid compulsion, and to permit every man to act according to the dictates of his own conscience. By the introduction of this bill, however, they are giving effect to a principle for which the trade-union movement has agitated, struggled, and fought for generations; those graziers who will not do their duty are to be compelled to do it. In the past, the cry of honorable members opposite has been, “ We are a free people. Every one must be allowed to act as an individualist. No restraint must be imposed upon a member of an industrial organization who ‘ scabs ‘ on his mates “. They cannot any longer sing that refrain; in future they must sing the song of unity. Every man who is engaged in a given industry must be compelled to act according to the wishes of the majority in that industry. I am pleased to find . that principle embodied in a measure introduced by a Country party Minister, and hope that when, very shortly, the Labour party assumes control of the affairs of this country, it, will have the courage to take similar action on behalf of the working class. I say nothing against this measure; I believe that it is a good one. But by its introduction this Government has paved the way for us to do a better job on behalf of the people whom we represent in this House. That is the reason for the pleasure which I now feel. The bill provides that a ship’s agent shall not accept an order for the shipment of wool overseas except in accordance with the regulations. I hope that, in the near future, wharf labourers will have the backing of this Parliament if they say that any ship loaded by persons who have betrayed trade union principles shall not leave an Australian port. The argument advanced by honorable members opposite is that the contributions provided for under this legislation are made voluntarily. Does a man act voluntarily when he has a pistol placed at his head, and is told that he has to pay up or take the consequences ?
– This is not being forced on the wool-growers; they asked for it.
– I undertake to obtain in the Moree district alarger number of signatures in opposition to than in favour of it. The small man is opposed to this measurebecause ofhis isolation. He is stillliving in the individualistic age, although his isolation isbeingbroken down by present economic conditions and modern science. The big man, however, wants the measure and ‘so the small man must fall into line whether helikes it or not. The greatest good for the greatest number must be the policy in his life as well as in that of anyother section of the community.Icommendthe Minister for the introduction ofthebill. It is a wonderful measure.I hope that a future Labour -government will do for the workers what this Government is doing for the rich graziers. Experience shows that the original legis- lationcontained loopholes,by means of which evasion of its provisions was possible. This will ensure the closing of all ‘doors, so that in future there will be no “scabs”. I have always fought against those who “ scabbed “ on their mates, and always will. I trust that the arbitration law will be tightened up in a similar fashion, so that every man who is engaged in industry will be protected in his enjoyment of the benefits for which ire has struggled, made sacrifices, bled, and evenbeen imprisoned. To-day is the happiest that I have spent in the Commonwealth Parliament. Hitherto there has been evasion of the principle for which I have fought, and even gone to gaol. ‘The introduction of this measure is an admissionof the Tightness of that for which “we have always contended. I am pleased tofind that, for the first time in this country, the Government, forced by the Country party, has established the principle that compulsion must be applied to ‘all persons engaged in an industry in order that they shallbe subservient to the majority engaged in that industry.
– The bill affects only the dealer.
– It relates to any person who uses wool in the manufacture of any article, and therefore covers everybody. I believe that the trade-union movement will receive wonderful inspiration from it. Ishall report to a meeting on Friday night that the Country party has shown us the “way in which we should go. I shall say to that meeting, “ Here is the way. Walk ye init. Workers, stand forth and do as the Country party has done.” I am glad that the honorablemember for Riverma, who, in some respects, is probably the most conservative man in the House, now supports us. I admit that, when I firstmet him awayback in 1923,I never thought that he and I would find ourselves in agreement upon a principle of this kind. However, so it is, and the honorable member for Riverina now says “The trade unionists are right”. This is nothing short of revolution. I propose to vote for the bill, because it has given me fresh hope and fresh inspiration.I shall be able to tell trade unionists what the graziers have done, and it “will encourage them to go and do the same.
.- Notwithstanding the vigorous outburst of the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden), I do not propose to discuss individualism, or communism, or scabs, or trade unions; I propose to address myself to the bill before the House. The purpose of the bill is merely to prevent evasion of a levy which was imposed with the authority of this Parliament, at the request of the graziers’ organizations of Australia. It has been found that the wording of the act, and of the accompanying regulations, has permitted the growth of certain anomalies. For instance, a wool-grower may deliver wool to a broker, and the broker then becomes liable for the collection of the tax on that wool. The grower, however, may withdraw the wool from that broker, and ship it or dispose of it elsewhere; but,under the act, the broker would still be liable for the tax. He may well have paid it, yet would have no means of recovering it from the grower. This bill is designed to give the broker who has paid the levy the right to secure it in some other way from the grower, even though the woolhas passed out of his possession before beingsold.
Another point in the bill has to do with dealers. A dealer may be a woolgrower, a wool-scourer, or a manufacturer, but the original act did not make satisfactory provision for the collection of the levy on wool in the hands of such persons. This it is now proposed to remedy. The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) criticized the measure, but I have often found that the less some men know about a proposal the more ready they are to condemn it. It was quite evident from his remarks that he does not understand the purpose of this measure. It is not a matter of delicensing or putting out of a business the small buyers, but is one of obtaining security, so that even the small buyer or broker shall be required to collect, and pay in, the amount of the levy provided for in the original act. It is not intended, as the honorable member asserts, to take away from such persons their right to earn a livelihood, and I commend the Minister and the Government for bringing this measure forward.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
During the last three years, the Commonwealth Government, with the object of assisting the citrus industry to build up a permanent export market for oranges, has granted financial aid to growers. The industry, in common with other primary industries, was adversely affected as aconsequence of the economic depression, the ill effects of which were accentuated by the loss of the New Zealand marketat the end of 1932. Citrusgrowers generally, and those in New South Wales in particular, experienced difficulty in finding an outlet overseas for their surplus crop.
With the idea of affording some measure of relief to growers, and of encouraging the export of oranges to other overseas markets, the Government, in 1933, guaranteed to exporters of oranges during that year their outofpocket marketing expenses up to a maximum payment of 13s. an export case on fruit shipped to countries other than New Zealand. The export in that year amounted to 97,000 cases, and the cost to the Government in respect of the guarantee was only £3,228.
This form of assistance was renewed in 1934, with the result that exports to the United Kingdom, and countries other than New Zealand, increased from 97,000 cases in . 1933 to 216,000 cases in 1934. Unfortunately, a large quantity of the fruit arrived in poor condition, and prices, therefore, were generally unsatisfactory. It seemed that the Government would be liable to pay out considerable sums in satisfaction of the guarantee. Certain exporters, however, took out comprehensive insurance policies on fruit exported during 1934, at a cost of 5d. a case additional to the ordinarymarine risk. Where this was done, the Government increased the guarantee to 13s. 5d. a case. Moneys paid to exporters under insurance policies were regarded as part of the proceeds of the fruit, and were, therefore, taken into account by the Commonwealth in calculating the amount due under the guarantee. The saving to the Government as the result of the taking out of these policies could not be definitely calculated, but it is certain that a considerable expenditure was avoided. The amount provided on the Estimates for payment in the year 1934 was £20,000 ; the sum actually paid amounted to £9,946.
The continuation of assistance by the Government in the form of a guarantee of out-of-pocket marketing expenses was not considered desirable because of the possibility that the export of inferior fruit might be encouraged. Expenditure which does not result in a lasting benefit to the industry as a whole is not considered a good form of assistance. The Government, therefore, made exhaustive inquiries, and gave careful consideration to representations from the citrus interests in regard to the form of assistance in respect of the 1935 export season. Having regard to all the circumstances, it was decided that a bounty on exports to the United Kingdom was the best form of assistance that could be rendered. The Orange Bounty Act. 1935 provided for a bounty of 2s. a case on oranges exported from the Commonwealth to the United Kingdom, and conditions were imposed to ensure that the fruit exported was of good quality, and was graded and packed in such a manner as to arrive at its destination in. good, condition. Payment of the Bounty was confined to exports to the United Kingdom, because it was thought that this market offered the greatest potential outlet for Australian oranges, and the cultivation of that market is an important objective. During 1935, shipments to the United Kingdom amounted to 79,470 cases, while payments of bounty totalled £7,S86.
In regard to thu 1934 season, I have already stated that the Government was saved a considerable expenditure under the guarantee for that year by the action of exporters in taking out “ all risks insurance policies. However, despite the saving both to the Government and to the industry, the net results were still unsatisfactory. Strong representations were made to the Government that the amount saved should be distributed to the industry by way of additional assistance. It was considered that the Government was under no obligation to grant further assistance in respect of the 1934 season, but in view of the serious losses incurred by shippers on account of exports that year, the Government approved of a retrospective bounty of 6d. an export case on oranges shipped to overseas destinations, excluding New Zealand. Legislation to give effect to this decision was assented to in March last, and payments under the act amount to £5,193.
When the 1935 bounty was announced, tlie industry was advised that no further Commonwealth assistance would be considered unless steps were taken to establish an organization which would take care of the orderly marketing of oranges overseas, deal with production and marketing problems in Australia, and speak with authority for the citrus industry. The formation of an Australian Citrus Council was first discussed at a conference of the citrus industry held in Sydney in April, 1935. This conference resolved that an Australian Citrus Association be formed, representative of all producing States, and requested that the Commonwealth Government pass legislation imposing an excise duty of Id. a bushel on all oranges sold in Australia ; the Government to subsidize the receipts from this tax on a sliding scale cornin ending with £2 for each £1 collected for the first year, and reducing to nothing after the fourth year.
At the meeting of the Agricultural Council in May, 1935, the council resolved that an Australian Citrus Board should be constituted as recommended by the industry. The council recommended that the functions of the board should comprise export control and advisory functions on similar lines to those contemplated for the re-organized Australian Dairy Produce Board. The recommendations of the council were approved by the Commonwealth Government, the Department of Commerce being instructed to inquire further into the method of financing the board, and to incorporate the proposal in a draft bill.
After some delay, a sub-committee of the industry prepared a draft constitution for the proposed board. In regard to the constitution and functions of the board, this proposal was satisfactory, but, in considering the question of finance, the sub-committee went even further than did the industry conference, and suggested that the Commonwealth Government should subsidize the levy on growers to an amount of £2 for every £1 collected during tho first four years.
Later, the New South Wales Fruitgrowers Federation declared against the imposition of any levy on growers for the purpose of financing an Australian citrus board, while the Victorian Citrus Association resolved riot to agree to the collection of any such levy unless the growers were first given an opportunity through a poll to express their approval. In South Australia, the association definitely favoured the establishment of a board, and the collection of a levy from growers to finance.it.
In view of the lack of unanimity between the States, and amongst growers themselves, it did not appear, at that stage, to be possible to arrive at a result satisfactory to all concerned. The method proposed by the industry for financing the board was not favoured by the Government, nor was it clear how the amount to be contributed by the industry would be collected in view of the decisions in New South Wales and Victoria. It was also considered undesirable that the Commonwealth Government should establish a precedent by subsidizing a board of this nature.
Since then, representations to the Government have been made by citrus organizations seeking the granting of a bounty on exports for 1936. To these representations the Government has consistently replied that it would not give consideration to the question of a further bounty until the industry had taken steps to establish the organization which it agreed to set up in April, 1935.
In May, 1936, the Australian Agricultural Council again dealt with the subject of the organization of the citrus industry, and reaffirmed the resolution adopted the previous year. It also urged the Government to continue the bounty on citrus fruits for one more season, pending the establishment of an Australian ‘citrus board.
As the New Zealand market is still closed to a large quantity of Australian fruit, it is now proposed that, in order to assist the citrus industry until it has had a further opportunity in which to organize, a bounty shall be paid of 2s. an export case on oranges shipped to all destinations other than New Zealand during the 1936 season. The extension of the bounty to cover other markets beside that of the United Kingdom should encourage exporters to exploit other possibilities that may exist, more particularly in respect of Canada, and ports en route to the United Kingdom, such as Colombo, Aden and Malta.
The bounty will be payable to the exporter of the oranges. It is provided, however, that the exporter shall pay to the grower of the oranges the amount of the bounty received by him in respect of the oranges, unless he proves to the satisfaction of the Minister that he purchased the oranges from the grower and paid the amount of bounty to the grower in addition to the ordinary purchase price of the oranges. It is estimated that the cost of the bounty for 1936 will not exceed £10,000. It must be clearly understood by the citrus-growers that no Commonwealth assistance beyond that proposed in this bill will be considered unless the industry is organized on the basis agreed to at the recent Adelaide conference. The formation of an advisory citrus council for Australia will obviously be of great assistance to the industry. The Government feels that, if the industry is organized in the way now contemplated, it will be able to cope with many of the marketing problems that have hindered it in the past.
– Can the Assistant Minister indicate to us the real difficulties that face the industry in the organization of this council? What are the great differences that have been encountered?
– I am glad to say that the differences have now been overcome. It was agreed at the Adelaide conference by representatives of all the organizations in the various States that a council, similar to the Apple and Pear Council, should be formed, and the Commonwealth Government agreed that, through the Department of Commerce, it would provide a secretary, office accommodation, and such secretarial assistance as would be necessary to inaugurate the new order on a satisfactory basis. .
– Is not a section of the New South Wales growers still antipathetic to that arrangement?
– I do not think so. Some of the representatives from New South Wales at the Adelaide conference were doubtful at first whether their organizations would support the proposal; but, after a good deal of discussion, the motion was carried with only one dissentient. I am pleased to say, however, that subsequently even that representative intimated that his organization would affiliate with the council, although it was originally opposed to the whole scheme. Every organization of citrus-growers, therefore, has agreed to affiliate with the council. This involves the provision of a fund necessary to enable the council to operate on a satisfactory basis, while the Government’s undertaking to provide a secretary, secretarial assistance and office accommodation will ensure the overcoming of any initial difficulties. The Department of Commerce is wholeheartedly behind the proposed organization, and it i3 felt that the new council should be able to operate as effectively as the Apple and Pear Council has done.
As I pointed out when dealing with the subject last year, the citrus industry of Australia has been confronted with many difficulties other than those which arise from the embargo of the Government of New Zealand on the importation of Australian fruit and vegetables. It has to face keen competition from various foreign citrus-growers, particularly those of certain South American countries, who, because of shorter transport distances and lower production costs, are able to put their fruit on the London market in a first-class condition at a lower price than that which must be asked for similar Australian fruit.
– We have been glad to hear the Minister deal with the historical side of this- subject; but is he able to inform usof the present position in relation to New Zealand?
– Negotiations have been on foot with the Government of NewZealand for quite a long while for the lifting of the existing embargo. The Commonwealth Government asked, in the first place, that the embargo should be lifted on the giving of satisfactory assurances by the departments of agriculture of the various States, that any fruit exported to New Zealand would be sound, and absolutely free from disease in every respect. We promised that the standard specified by the Department of Commerce would be strictly enforced in respect of any fruit intended for New Zealand. The Government of New Zealand, however, declined to accept the offered assurances. The Commonwealth Government then sought a partial lifting of the embargo. We intimated that we were prepared to deal with specific fruit if the embargo could be lifted for definite periods. This would assure to New Zealand that only the best Australian fruit would be exported during the height of the Australian season. Absolute guarantees would be given, of course, that all the fruit would be entirely free from disease. We suggested that the embargo should be lifted in respect of oranges for, say. two or three months of the year, for mandarins, say, two months, for passion fruit, perhaps four or five months, and so on, and undertook to enforce the most careful inspections. One advantage to New Zealand of this proposal would have been that rigid inspections of fruit entering the dominion would be neededby New Zealand officers for only the limited period during which particular fruits were admissible. But the Government of NewZealand was not prepared to lift the embargo even partially.
Mr.Francis. - Why not?.
– As the honorable member is aware, certain fruits are at present admitted into New Zealand from specified districts in South Australia. The reason why the Dominion Government would not accede to any of our various requests, was that it was afraid of introducing into New Zealand certain parasite diseases, particularly the Mediterranean fruit fly. We gave an assurance that we could guarantee freedom from this pest, particularly if the importations were limited to specific periods. Under any of our proposals the risk of the introduction of disease into New Zealand was negligible, but under the proposal for the partial lifting of the embargo, there would be no risk whatever of its introduction.
– Has the Government of New Zealand abandoned its objection on the ground that Australia has an embargo against the importation of New Zealand potatoes?
– That point has not been raised since I have been engaged in these negotiations. The Commonwealth Government is now making representations to the Government of New Zealand, through the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill), who is in the sister dominion at present, for a reconsideration of the subject. The Minister for Defence has been furnished with all the details of past negotiations. The Australian Trade Commissioner in New Zealand, and the New Zealand Trade Commissioner in Australia were also brought together in Canberra to consider this subject during the last meeting- of the Australian Agricultural Council. I have discussed the subject, too, with various representative New Zealanders in Sydney. I am informed that there is a strong feeling in many quarters in New Zealand that the Dominion Government would be well advised to accept the offer of the Commonwealth Government to make available certain Quantities of specified fruits during limited periods for export to New Zealand under guarantee of complete freedom from disease and subject to the most rigid inspection. I can say no more on the subject at. the moment.
I intimate to honorable members that at the committee stage of the bill I intend to move an amendment to clause 6 to make it more definite that all money paid under the measure must reach the grower of the fruit. The amendment will be circulated in due course.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Beasley) adjourned.
– I move -
That the bill be now read, a second time.
Briefly, this bill proposes an amendment of the Prune Bounty Act, which was passed last year and which provided for payment of3/4d. per lb. on all prunes exported during that year. In fulfilment of a promise given to growers last year, it provides for the payment of a bounty of 1/2d. per lb. on all prunes exported this year, or the equivalent of dried prunes if such prunes were processed prior to export. No variation of the application of the bounty, or of any principle of this legislation is proposed. Last year, the bounty, at the rate of3/4d. per lb. absorbed approximately £8,400, and it is estimated that the bounty for this year, at the rate of1/2d. per lb. will amount to £4,500.
– How many tons of fruit will be involved?
Mr.THORBY. - The bounty last year was paid on an export of 12,000 tons, and it is estimated that exports this year will be between 6,000 and 7,000 tons. There is every justification for the payment of this bounty. Practically all of the growers of prunes for export are returned soldiers, most of whom are situated on returned soldier settlements in the various States. These men have had a very difficult time, as the result of the low prices prevailing three years ago, and they have also suffered heavy loss through the visitation of thrips.
.- As the Assistant Minister for Commerce (Mr. Thorby) has indicated, this measure has been introduced in fulfilment of a promise given to growers of prunes when the act was passed last year. On that occasion, he indicated the great difficulties confronting the industry, and I notice from the speech delivered by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde): at that time, that the then serious decline of prices for export prunes was largely due to the competition of Canadian prunes on the English market.. The seriousness of this development will be realized when it is remembered that prices at that time fell from £24 to £14 a ton. In such circumstances, growers in this industry, although they comprise only a small section of our primary producers, have as much right to expect assistance from this Parliament as any other section of primary producers.
The Assistant Minister stated that this bounty was to be paid only during this year, and gave no indication that it would be paid in subsequent years. He added that certain action was being taken by the Commonwealth Government to bring about more efficient production and marketing in the industry. I hope that he will indicate the nature of the steps taken by the Government to place the industry on a more efficient basis, and, if possible, show what benefits have accrued to the industry as the result of the Government’s efforts in that direction. Furthermore, I should like him to indicate whether the industry can expect further assistance, or whether it is the intention of the Government that this assistance shall be discontinued after the payment of the bounty in respect of this year’s crop. The Opposition heartily supports the bill. Whilst we regret the decline of prices which has necessitated assistance being given to the industry by this Government, those engaged in growing prunes can rest assured that this Parliament is not unmindfulof the difficulties which have confront them in the past, and hopes that the future will bring brighter prospects for the industry.
– in- reply - In pursuance of the promise which it gave last year when the bounty of3/4d. per lb. was agreed to, the Commonwealth Government communicated with the Departments of Agriculture in all States asking them to cooperate in the work of making a complete survey of the position of prunegrowers in each State. Subsequently, several conferences were held in connexion with this matter, the final conference having taken place in Sydney about two months ago, when officers from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, experts from the Department of Agriculture in each State, representatives of those associated with the packing and marketing of prunes and representatives of the growers’ organizations mot. That conference decided that steps be taken to eliminate prunes of a less favorable variety, and encourage the growth of varieties of larger prunes, for which a keener demand exists on the market. It also decided to co-operate wholeheartedly with the Dried Fruits Board, for which provision had already been made in the Dried Fruits Export Control Act. These objectives have been accomplished. The promise given by the Commonwealth Government to the growers was that it would assist them for a period of two years, provided they endeavoured to put their industry on a sound footing during that period, when the bounty was being paid. On that understanding the bounty of3/4d. per lb. was paid last year, and a reduced bounty of1/2d. per lb. will be paid this year. The growers were given definitely to understand that this bounty would not be a constant one, and that, on its exhaustion, no further assistance of this nature would be afforded. The Government also undertook, during the period in question, to provide every assistance for the carrying out of manurial tests and to bring about more scientific pruning, with the object of fostering the growth of prunes of the larger variety. Everything possible has been done in this direction, and this work is being continued on the advice of experts in each State, together with expert officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
-What are the prospects of the industry capturing a greater share of the United Kingdom market?
– The prospects are that, in future, prunes will be received more favorably in the United Kingdom, and. better prices are indicated. Even last month, they recovered to the extent of one cent per lb. This increase is not very great, but it is sufficient to turn a loss into a profit on the London market. Australian exporters of prunes had been confronted with keen competition from Californian growers, because owing to abnormal conditions during the last few years, these growers had dumped their fruit on the British market and caused a slump in prices. Latest advices indicate that the Californian growers are now taking steps to stabilize prices along the lines embodied in this legislation. Furthermore, the growers throughout the Commonwealth are co-operating with the dried fruits boards in the various States in an effort, not only to reduce the cost of marketing, but also to improve marketing generally.
Question resolved in the’ affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 29th September (vide page 601), on motion by Mr. Thorby. -
That the hill he now read a second time.
.- I feel disappointed with the amount of the bounty proposed to be paid under this measure. It is inadequate to help a most deserving section of primary producers to meet the difficulties confronting them. The bounty paid in 1933 and 1934 amounted to £125,000, and in 1935 a sum of £100,000 was provided to assist apple and pear-growers, but when it was noticed that in that year the season was a little better than usual, and prices on the London market had improved a little, the Assistant Minister for Commerce (Mr. Thorby) brought in a bill under which this grant was reduced by £20,000, and the latter amount was given to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to carry on investigations on behalf of the industry. The granting of that money was greatly appreciated, but what the growers asked for at that time was a bounty, lt has been stated, particularly on the ministerial side of the House, that the primary producers have been getting too much bounty, but the apple and pear growers have experienced more difficult times than any other producers.
During the war period they were unable to export any fruit, because apples were regarded a3 a luxury, and the freight space was required for other produce. The result at that time was that much fruit was allowed to fall from the trees and go to waste. For two or three years I, as an orchardist, had the experience of seeing my fruit rotting on the ground. After the war, fruit was fetching highly remunerative prices on the London market, but as a quota system was put into operation, the fruit-growers did not get the full benefit of the increase. Since 1933, bounty has been paid ro primary producers to’ the amount of over £38,000,000, of which nearly £15,000,000 has gone to the wheatgrowers alone. Of the latter sum, £12,000,000 was taken from general revenue, and the remainder was raised by means of a special excise tax. During the whole of that period, however, the bounty paid to the fruit-growers did not, exceed £42S,000. In view of their difficulties and losses, greater consideration than has been displayed by the present Government should be shown to them.
A deputation representative of the Tas.manian Fruit Board and the Apple and Pear Council waited upon the Assistant Minister for Commerce at Canberra a couple of months ago, and showed clearly that the Tasmanian growers had lost £194,000 through exporting their fruit overseas this year. The deputation, I understand, anticipated the payment of a bounty of at least ls. a case. The Minister promised sympathetic consideration of the request, but said that a number of growers in other States had sold their fruit f.o.b. at a fair price. I draw attention to the fact that Tasmania ships over one-half of the total quantity of fresh fruit exported from Australia annually. Victoria exports a considerable quantity of fruit, but the growers in that State have a good local market. “Western Australia is not a largo fruit-growing State, and it also has a home market, exporting very little fruit. The growers in South Australia have not shipped much fruit for the last few years. New South Wales scarcely exports any, because it is practically an importer of fruit. The Minister replied that he could not pay a larger bounty than that proposed, because a number of the growers who had sold their fruit f.o.b. would have to participate in the bounty. The Tasmanian growers should not be penalized on that account. In Tasmania over 18,000 persons earn their livelihood by the growing of fruit, and a much larger number is employed indirectly through the industry.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), in referring at the Sydney Show to the assistance granted by the Government to the primary producers, said -
Including slightly over £3,000,000 for the current veur, tlie total Commonwealth provision from revenue and loan for relief and various other forms of assistance over the last five years lias exceeded £18,250,000, of which over £14,000,000 lias applied to wheat alone. This does not take into account the amount so far allocated from the provision of £12,000,000 for the adjustment of rural debts. lt also dora not take into account the community’s contribution in added domestic prices through the operation of price stabilization schemes, .such as those applying to butter, dried fruits and sugar. It is estimated that over five years this contribution lias amounted to somewhere round £27,000,000, or an average of £5,500.000 a year. Of course, the primary producers themselves, as consumers, paid a considerable proportion of this.
The apple-growers have never had a fixed price for their commodity, but have had extra charges to meet because of the fixation of prices in the interests of the producers in other industries.
The Assistant Minister for Commerce, in referring to the distribution of the bounty, remarked in his second-reading speech -
The bill provides an additional safeguard to ensure, that the bounty will be paid to the growers of apples and pears for export.
I do not know why it is considered necessary to make such a. provision. Under the last distribution the whole of the bounty went to the growers. Under this bill, I understand, the money may he paid to agents, but provision is being made to ensure that it will be passed on to them by the growers. In this connexion, the Assistant Minister stated -
Honorable members will realize that it is difficult to guarantee that in every instance the money will go to the person whom it was really intended to reach, but I assure honorable members that, in the past, every precaution was taken by the Department of Commerce and the otherFederaland State departments concerned to see that the money was paid only to those who were entitled to receive it.
Mr.Stacey. - Will this particularbounty be paid to growers who have sold to agents?
– It willbe paid to the agents, but provision is being made to see that it is passed on by them to the growers. A similar difficultyhas arisen in connexion with the payment of theorange ‘bounty..
– That is the joint with which Iam concerned.
– It is difficult to trace the original ownership of fruit and to be able to decide whether all the fruit purchased by a certain exporter was exported or whether it was regraded, and the choicest fruit exported and the second grade sold on the local market. This measure seeks to overcome that difficulty.
I do not know why the Minister has decided to depart from the usual practice of paying the bounty to the growers. Last year they had to prove that they had exported a certain quantity of fruit, the agents for the shipping companies certifying that that quantity had been shipped. The Minister can ascertain the total quantity shipped each season, , and see if the figures tally with the growers’ allotments. I maintain that the distribution should be made on the same basis as last year. The agents have no right to handle the money. Once they get hold of the bounty it may not find its way into the pockets of growers who have required an advance. The department should not allow itself to be used as a debt collector for any private firm or company. The object of the bounty is to assist the grower in “producing his next crop, and he should get the money as soon as possible.
With regard to the amount the growers have lost through their overseas shipments this year, the deputation that waited upon the Minister at Canberra proved that apples could not be placed on the British market for less than 8s. a case, and the price received this year was much less than that. The deputation considered that on all apples shipped overseas on consignment this year, the loss of the Tasmanian growers had amounted to 2s. 41/2d. a case. These figures are indisputable, having been carefullycompiled by the Tasmanian Fruit Board. The Minister promised to endeavour to secure a reduction of the cost of freighton fruit exported to London. This charge is higher than that on any other commodity. Apart front the cost of freight, the growers have to pay exchange. Years ago, when the exchange rate was not so favorable to Australian primary producers as it is to-day, the shipping companies insisted upon the payment of freight in Australia, and when a select committee endeavoured to ascertain the reason for this, the reply was that the shipping companies needed the money in Australia and not in England. Now, however, when the exchange position is reversed and the rate is favorable to primary producers in Australia, the shipping companies still insist upon thepayment in Australia of the freight together with exchange. Adding exchange to freight charges, a sum of 71/2d. has to be paid on every case of apples shipped overseas, and this represents a considerable sum of money, when it is remembered that approximately 5,000,000 cases are annually sent away from Australia. That loss is borne by the apple-growers. On a number of occasions representations have been made to responsible Ministers to relievethis section of the primary producers of the burden, but apparently the shipping companieshave exerted their influence, and are receiving protection from some quarter. ‘The fruitgrowers’ existence is precarious because of the collapse of prices on the English market and their inability to sell their product on the Continent. When I visited Berlin last year, I was informed by a merchant who formerly handled considerable quantities of our fruit, that he could dispose of more than 1,000,000 bushels of Australian fruit at a price which was about two marks more than the corresponding English value. If it had been possible to market our fruit in Germany, the catastrophe which has overtaken English prices this year would have been averted. The Assistant Minister shouldmake every endeavour to keep the fruit-growing industry in existence, because if itwere allowed to col- lapse, -many years would elapse before growers could overtake the market again. An orchard cannot he planted and brought into bearing in less than twelve or fifteen years, and if the fruit-growers, through the prevalence of low prices, are compelled to grub out or neglect their trees, they will not he in a position to produce fruit in the required quantities when conditions alter for the better. In many parts of the world less fruit is being grown at the present time. The United States of America, which is the great rival of Australia in the fruitgrowing industry, and which formerly ‘could supply the entire local market, is now growing less fruit than it did five years ago. During the next five years, I venture to prophesy, that production will continue to decrease. Although travellers may contend that huge areas are being brought into production in that country, the fact must not be overlooked that huge areas are also going out of production. As has been the experience in Australia, considerable areas of unproductive, and therefore uneconomical, country were converted into orchards. Many orchardists are now compelled to grub out their trees; thus production in tlie United States of America will continue to decline during the next five years. I trust that the Assistant Minister will be able to give to the Australian applegrowers more liberal treatment than that which, is contemplated. A bill has just been considered by this House to provide a bounty of 2s. a case on oranges. It is no more expensive to ship a case of oranges overseas than it is to ship a case of apples, yet the orange-growers are to receive a bounty of 2s. a case. I do not contest the payment of that bounty, nor do [ consider that it is excessive, because the growing of oranges in Australia is an important industry, and should be fostered by the Commonwealth Government. When I visited England last year, [ noticed a considerable quantity of oranges in the markets. They had been grown in New South Wales, and were in perfect condition. I point out, however, that the apple-growers are also entitled to receive some form of assistance. When a deputation representing this section waited on the Minister, it asked him to recommend to the Government the pay ment of a bounty of ls. a case on apples. If that recommendation had been accepted, the difficulties of many of the fruit-growers would . have been solved, and they would have been enabled to keep their orchards in production. 1 urge upon the Assistant Minister the necessity for providing more money for this deserving section, the apple and pear-growers of Australia.
.- I rise to support the remarks which were so ably made on behalf of the applegrowers by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost). The Assistant Minister for -Commerce (Mr. Thorby) should pay attention to the observations of honorable members, even though he may not decide to grant the additional bounty. If he does not, I shall be reluctantly obliged to come to the conclusion that le is prejudiced against the claims of “the smaller States. I do not wish to reach that conclusion. Honorable members who have spoken on behalf of the interests of the apple-growers are entitled to receive the same consideration and courtesy from the Assistant Minister as is extended to honorable members of the Country party when they are asking for a bounty on wheat. Having been a member of various deputations on behalf of the apple-growers. I have listened carefully to explanations which have been made by the staff of the Department of Commerce in connexion with the -cause of the failure of the apple shipments to London last year, with ,a resultant loss to growers which -requires a bill to provide them with a compensation amounting to £80,000. These experts should have some knowledge of the cause of the failure of prices, but I was disappointed with the reasons which they advanced for it. They are employed in the department for a specific purpose and therefore should be more keen in their method of ascertaining such vital information. In one instance the failure was attributed to the wet season, but that theory has been exploded, for this year’s crop, which produced apples of perfect quality, has also failed to bring satisfactory prices on the London market. The apple growers request the Assistant Minister to make a reasonable distribution of the bounties which are paid to primary producers, arid when it is realized that £14,000,000 has been dispersed among wealthy wheat-growers, the justification of the claim of the applegrowers cannot be denied. Do honorable members realize that the apple growing industry probably employs more labour than does the wheat industry? Industries which provide extensive employment must not be allowed to go out of existence, and the apple-growers should therefore receive greater consideration from the Federal Government than they are being, given at the present time. I support a bounty of 2s. a case on oranges, because it would assist to establish the industry; but if that rate of bounty is justified, the apple-growers of Tasmania have an equal claim for recognition, owing to the losses which they have sustained this year, amounting to £194,000. Compensation for this loss would be a mere bagatelle compared with the distribution of £1,500,000 among the wheat-growers last year from the surplus which was derived from the flour tax when the price of wheat was 3s. lid. a bushel. A deputation which waited upon the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) asked the right honorable gentleman to provide greater assistance for the apple-growers and stressed the disabilities Tasmania was suffering. In reply the Minister had the temerity to inform the deputation that provision had been made in the grant to the States for the assistance of the applegrowers. I fail to understand that reasoning because the disabilities case was prepared for the Grants Commission twelve months ago. How could the subsequent failure of the price of apples be anticipated, and a special grant to the Government of Tasmania be made to compensate the growers ? You, Mr. Speaker, were a member of that deputation and doubtless you felt your position keenly in being unable to tell the Minister that you disagreed with his statement.
In making these representations to the Assistant Minister for Commerce I am only asking for justice for the primary producers of Tasmania, who have had a difficult struggle against various pests and climatic conditions. Although no apples, are grown in the electorate of Denison, I believe that considerable quantities arc consumed there. I have been asked by the Apple and Pear Board, of Tasmania to support the efforts of the honorable member for Franklin to obtain justice for the little island that has been clamouring for justice for so many years in this House. Last year a sum of £100,000 was placed on the Estimates for assistance to the apple and pear industry of the Commonwealth and a sum of £20,000 was granted to the Council’ of Scientific and Industrial Research for the purpose of enabling experts to ascertain how the apple growing industry could be placed upon a better footing. I should like to be informed of the results of the expenditure of that considerable sum of money. The experts were unable to explain the reason for the failure of apple prices on the London market, and in my opinion they have fallen down badly on their job. It is time that stock was taken of these departments. When a similar measure to the present one was under consideration last year, I stated that greater benefit would be conferred upon the applegrowers if the sum of £20,000 were distributed among those of them who had lost their crops through climatic conditions. When representations were made to the Minister he declined to consider them, although, it was a fair request. When one sums up the psychology of this Parliament and the Administration, one realizes that honorable members are constantly looking after votes and studying where the interests of their best supporters are concentrated. If the Country party makes any request for assistance for the primary producers, it is granted without a murmur, but I regret that a legitimate claim which is put up on behalf of the apple-growers of Tasmania is apparently to be disregarded. The Tasmanian apple-growers export more than half of the total shipments from Australia to the London market. Possibly, very few of them support this Government, and for that reason the bounty is kept at a low figure, and shocking treatment is meted out to them. But a day of reckoning is approaching. The Government will then have to explain to the struggling applegrowers of Tasmania the reason for its failure to afford them adequate assistance. I listened to the arguments advanced by the Minister. The honor- able gentleman made no reply to the case put before him recently by a deputation of honorable members. The records will show that the primary producers of Tasmania have received very little assistance from this Government. This ‘bounty originated, not in the hearts of members of the Government, but in representations which were made many years ago to the shipping companies for a reduction of freights. The government of the day informed the ship-owners that it was prepared to pay so much a case for . the reduction of freights, and the ship-owners said, “ Give it to the apple-growers, and let them obtain the benefit “. The increase of id. a case does no credit to the Minister. The honorable gentleman will probably say that the aggregate amount disbursed this year will be greater than that of last year because of the larger quantity of apples exported. That will not help the fruitgrower individually. Last year, he received 4d. a case when apples were fetching a reasonable price, and he was able to make a profit on his operations. This year, however, there is a total loss of £194,000; yet the amount of the bounty has been increased by only -Jd. a case. The apple-growers have asked for ls. a case, to enable them to meet their financial obligations, and to keep in constant employment those who assist them on their orchards, so that the orchards may be maintained in a state of high efficiency, and may produce fruit that will be able to withstand unfair competition on the London market. The time has arrived for the adoption of some method by the Commonwealth Government to ensure that apples which are exported are sold ‘ at a reasonable price. The Minister informed the deputation which waited upon him that when the proposed referendum on the alteration of the Constitution is passed the Commonwealth will have powers for the promotion of schemes for orderly marketing, and everything in the garden will be lovely. What a wonderful sop that is to hold out to the poor unfortunate starving orchardists ! The honorable gentleman evidently thought that he was addressing the farmers. That is the sort of thing which is “ put over “ the farmer every day. I leave the House to judge as to whether that is a valid excuse for the Government’s refusal to grant further assistance to apple-growers throughout Australia, 50 per cent, or 60 per cent, of whom live in Tasmania, and are suffering undue hardship because the Commonwealth Government has not fulfilled its obligations to them. The wheat-growers were granted a subsidy for the purchase of manures.
– That is not so.
– The taxpayers of the Commonwealth have been exploited by the Government to an amount which aggregates millions of pounds.
– The honorable member must deal with the bill.
– I am dealing with the assistance which has been given- to primary producers. For this purpose, millions of pounds have been taken out of the pockets of the taxpayers.
-Order! If the honorable member’s remarks refer to the bill now before the House they will be in order, but not otherwise.
– I am connecting my remarks with the bill. If other honorable members were in order in referring to what has been paid by way of a subsidy in connexion with the purchase of manures, and by way of different bounties, I consider that the remarks which 1 am making do not come into conflict with your ruling.
– The honorable member is certainly coming into conflict with my ruling.
– As a representative of Tasmania, which is the biggest claimant for this bounty, I say that the Government has not done justice to it.. The deputation which waited upon the Minister the other day was unanimous in its request for further assistance to be given to the men who have lost £194,000, in comparison with a profit last year when the bounty was only 4d. a ease. I would move for the bill to be withdrawn and redrafted if I thought that I had any chance of success, but as I believe it would be a waste of time I shall await the taking of the referendum to tell the people of Tasmania what I think of the manner in which the Government has treated the apple-growers of that State.
Mx. NOCK (Riverina) [5.8].- One fact which should have been mentioned has been overlooked. Every primary industry carries the burden of the tariff in its cost of production, and on that ground is entitled to compensation by a “ home price “ or by way of bounty if the state of the finances will permit the Government to give to it. In the case of apples and pears, the bounty is upon export, and it should not be overlooked that the effect is automatically to raise the price of what is marketed for home consumption. If it were more profitable to export, they would not be marketed locally; consequently, the bounty has an effect on the price of the whole crop, not merely what is exported. Therefore, the advantage on the 10,000,000 bushels produced annually is not the £103,000 mentioned in the bill, but £187,000. I, too, have been requested by certain organizations to urge the Minister to make the bounty1s. a case. I have not so many figures as have been given by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost), but I feel sure that if it is realized that the payment of the bounty has an effect on the home-consumption price it will be seen that the orchardist benefits not merely directly through the bounty on what he exports, but also indirectly by means of the higher price which he receives for what is sold in Australia. The honorable member for Denison has complained that the Government, in addition to the bounty, has given assistance to the wheat-growers by way of subsidy in connexion with the purchase of manures. This, however, is not a fact. The fruitgrowers of Australia are entitled to that subsidy, but the wheat-growers are not.
– Of course they are.
– All intelligent persons know that they are not. Not only are the fruit-growers entitled to subsidy on manure used for fruit-growing, but the Government has also removed the tariff on sulphate of ammonia, and that has made a very big difference to the price which they used to pay for it. I am pleased that the Government is taking this action, and hope that it will be of assistance to the apple and pear-growers of Australia.
.- I support the remarks of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) in regard to the necessity for an increase of the bounty to be paid to apple and pear-growers. Quite recently a deputation waited upon the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) in connexion with this matter. I consider that the fruit-growers have presented an indisputable case for a larger bounty this year. On the present basis of 41/2d. a case, the aggregate amount is of fairly large proportions-. The fact remains, however, that this year the apple-growers have passed through a very bad time, on account of the bottom having fallen out of the London market.. That 2s. a case should be provided in respect of another industry, and only 41/2d. a case in respect of this industry, seems to me anomalous. The first-mentioned case is certainly larger.
– A bushel and a half. Mr. BARNARD- In that instance, the bounty was 2s. for a bushel and a half, and in this it is 41/2d. for a bushel. Apple and pear-growers are deserving of” a larger amount than is here provided. A good deal has been said in regard to the marketing of apples and the cause of the low price which prevails overseas. I have received from a friend who is at. present in London a letter in which he furnishes some very interesting facts concerning the price of apples and the quality of the fruit displayed for sale on the English market. I value his opinion very greatly;, he is a citizen of very high repute. Having made a fairly comprehensive inspection of the London market and discussed with sellers the Australian fruit displayed for sale, he visited Australia House to learn why that fruit was of such poor quality, and received no satisfaction. According to the information he has given to me, it would appear that very little interest was taken in the matter by those whom he interviewed. Those are interesting facts. I am convinced that something is wrong with the marketing of our fruit at the other end. It would be of interest and profit to the Government, as well as to the growers, if an investigation were made to find out why the fruit is not of the same high quality when displayed in London as it is when it leaves Tasmania.
The Government has decided that a bounty of only 41/2d. a case shall be paid to the growers this year. While that will. be of some value, it will not be enough to compensate the growers for the hard year they have experienced. No matter how low the price obtained, the growers are subject to the same expenses for the upkeep of their orchards. I support the bill, but I regret that the Government cannot go a little further in the direction of helping the growers.
– in reply - I desire to emphasize the difference between the bounty on oranges exported from Australia and the bounty paid on tlie export of apples. The apple-exporting industry is an old-established one,, but we are only now endeavouring to develop an export market for oranges. It is not suggested that the bounty offered under this measure is intended as a compensation for all the losses sustained by the growers; it is a contribution from the Commonwealth Government to assist those who are engaged in exporting a primary product when the market for that product is not satisfactory. The Commonwealth Government is assisting the growers of apples and pears in other directions. Last year, £20,000 was allocated to finance investigation work by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and by State Departments of Agriculture, and part of that money will be spent this year. Moreover., the Government is still endeavouring to obtain further freight reduction for fruit exporters, and it is hopeful of bringing the negotiations to a satisfactory conclusion. I remind honorable members that apple-growers throughout the Commonwealth. are not, as a class, in such a bad way as are some of the growers in Tasmania. For the most part, they are obtaining satisfactory prices, and it has been -reported to me that, in some instances, there is practically no justification for any bounty whatever.
– Those men are growing for the Australian market.
– They are sharing the Australian market, but so, too, do the Tasmanian growers - to some extent, at any rate. It must be remembered also, that a bounty on the export of a product helps the sale of that product on the local market, because it tends to stabilize prices. The Government is not un sympathetic, as was suggested by the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney). lt has allocated as much money as it can for the assistance of growers, and this year is making available altogether £103,000, which is £22,000 more than was distributed last year. In addition, the Government is continuing to : give financial assistance in other directions to primary producers, and the growers of apples and pears are sharing in “those benefits.
The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) said that about 18,000 persons were engaged in the apple and pear industry, but it is not true that so many are permanently engaged in it. He has probably included those temporary employees engaged on the wharfs during the exporting season, and in sawmills and offices. When we realize that this is the fourth year that this bounty has been paid to the growers, in addition to the giving of assistance in other forms, it must be admitted that the Government has acted in a sympathetic way, and has done its best by the industry.
– Will the Minister have inquiries made into that phase of th, exporting industry that I mentioned in my speech?
– If the honorable member will supply me with specific instances, I shall have inquiries made.
Question resolved in the affirmative
Bill read a second time.
.- I .notice that in clause 4 of the bill it is proposed to alter somewhat the method by which the bounty is paid to the growers. I should like to know whether every safeguard has been taken to ensure that the money actually reaches the growers, .and does not remain in the hands of agents or dealers.
Mi-. MAHONEY (Denison) [.5.25].- Last year, the bounty was distributed through the Agricultural Department in Tasmania in co-operation with the Fruit Board, but it is proposed to alter that method. I should like to know in what way the previous method proved unsatisfactory. I was not aware that any complaints had been made regarding it.
– The purpose of the amendment is to make it still more certain that the money shall actually reach the growers.
.- Last year, some of the agents wanted to get the money into their own hands, possibly in satisfaction of debts owing to them by the growers. Is there any guarantee under the amendment that this cannot happen ?
– Under the act, the agent is the person who claims the bounty, but he sets out in the claim the names of the growers who supplied him, and the quantity of fruit they forwarded. However, although these particulars will be compiled by the agent, and forwarded to the department, the bounty cheques will be drawn in favour of the individual growers, and sent to them individually - not through the agents.
Bill agreed to, and reported f rom committee without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 23rd September (vide page 438), on motion by Mr. Casey -
That the first item in the Estimates under Division 1 - the Senate - namely, “ Salaries and Allowances, £7,900” be agreed to.
– I listened with great attention to the budget speech which the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) delivered a few days ago. In fact, I followed his remarks with more interest than usual, for he unfolded a story to honorable members with the early chapters of which I had something to do. I was particularly pleased at the honorable gentleman’s concluding remarks in which he expressed pleasure at his association with a budget which indicated such a recovery in Australia’s financial and economic position. The honorable gentleman admitted that he could not take full -credit to the Government for what occurred, and he gave some credit to certain fortuitous circumstances. It remained, however, for my leader (Mr. Curtin) to point out that some persons whose names had not been mentioned by the Treasurer were entitled to a measure of credit. I rejoiced with the Treasurer in his good fortune, but I consider that he may be likened to a decorator looking with a certain amount of pleasure at a building which he had embellished. The satisfaction I obtained as I listened to the budget was the consciousness that my colleagues and I were the builders who had charge of the job when the solid foundations were being laid. The Government i.st fortunate to have a surplus to distribute. It is pleasurable to bask in the sunshine of the smiles of the recipients of surpluses; but it is no pleasure to face the cold blast of criticism when a deficit has to be rectified. I was particularly grateful to my leader, who delivered an excellent speech, for recalling the work of the Government which I led through the depression. His masterly analysis of the situation revealed facts which have been too long obscured. After having listened to his speech, or having read it, one is able to view the present position in its proper perspective. “With those few remarks I leave the discussion of the financial aspects of the budget. I shall also leave the economic aspects of it just there. Those two viewpoints have already been fully discussed in the two speeches to which I have referred, and will doubtless be amplified by later speakers. I do not wish to participate in the controversies which may arise from considerations of the budget.
As, however, a very wide range of subjects is open for discussion during the budget debate, which covers far more than the balance-sheet of the nation, and is tantamount, in fact, to a national stocktaking, I wish to refer to one phase of our national activities and national aspirations which, in the hurly-burly of politics, is generally overlooked. I, myself,, plead guilty to having overlooked it in the past. Though I regard it as an important aspect of national life, others may not do so, but I hope, in the few words that I shall have to say, to prove even to doubters that the subject with which I shall deal is material to our wellbeing. There will be no need to stress its importance to some other people.
I wish to emphasize in this National Parliament the desirability to encourage Australian authors and develop Australian literature. Although this country has already brought into being a literature of its own - an indigenous literature - which has progressed considerably, though slowly, the Commonwealth Parliament, and also the Government, could do much to give it such an impetus as to enable it in the years to come to build up an Australian tradition. I believe that our Australian literature will do justice to this great country.
Among the financial statements submitted to us in the budget papers is one which gives details of what is known as the Commonwealth Literary Fund. An examination of the figures in that statement will reveal how meagre the fund is. It is proposed to vote £1,500 for the purpose of this fund this year. The average annual expenditure under this heading has been about £1,250. I do not criticize the present Government for this low figure. The fund has been in existence for 28 years, and no government has done more than any other government to increase it for the encouragement of Australian writers. Practically all that has been done in the past has been to pay a maximum pension of £1 a week to certain Australian writers when they have become too old to write. That is true with three or four notable exceptions. Why should we wait until the physical and mental powers of our writers have been exhausted in the struggle for existence before we accord them any acknowledgement? Unhappily most of our writers of note have found it almost impossible to carry on in such a way as to enable them to leave behind them the best of which they have been capable. They have worked in the face of great disabilities. In the struggle for existence I assume that the lamp of genius is often extinguished earlier than would be the case if life were made just a little more comfortable for the people concerned. I suggest that this Parliament give serious consideration in the near future to devising ways and means to enable a little more generosity to be extended to our writers. If we could give them a helping hand and lift them above the daily anxiety to live and maintain their families, they would be able to give us much more than would otherwise be the case. I am purposely refraining from mentioning the names of writers or of books in the course of this speech, as I do not want to divert attention from the main issue; but I know of one man still living whose career I have followed - from afar I admit - and whose poetry I have read with much pleasure. I consider that he has written some of the finest poetry in the English language. He is an Australian and has had to toil in hard manual callings as a bush worker. To-day this man is among the physically unfit. Although it seems that some of the greatest works of genius have been called into being through suffering - there seems to be something in the fires of suffering that brings out the genius in a man - I think it is too hard to put a man through such a cruel test in order to demonstrate his worth. I therefore urge, and plead, that we should extend a helping hand to our Australian writers who show promise of becoming great literary figures.
One aspect of this subject presents what seems to be an anomaly. We have Australian printers and publishers whose ability and craftsmanship are equal to the highest standard that has been reached anywhere in the world, yet many Australian writers go overseas to publish their works. By so doing they obtain a wider circle of readers, but it is a reflection upon this country. It is for us to give a better lead than that. One writer of considerable repute told me that he had to publish his books in England so that they could then be brought to Australia with the imprint upon them “ Printed and published in England “, and booksellers would purchase them and place them in the very forefront of their shelves and advise the purchase of them. I should perhaps, make it clear that I am not personally familiar with the practices of the trade in this connexion but am reciting what has been said to me. This man went on to say to me “If I publish in Australia the local bookseller would take my. hooks on a sale-or-return basis and’ would have no incentive to push therm “.. That surely is a sad state of affairs. It is. anomalous that books about Australia, written by Australians1, have to- be imported into this country.
If we could give more support to our writers, it is probable that we should have fewer imports of books and periodicals. We should have exports rather than imports, for undoubtedly many of our writers have a world-wide following. Some contemporary Australian writers have had their books translated into many foreign languages. That should make its stir ourselves to see- whether more cannot be- done along the line I am suggesting than has’ been, done hitherto. The mere reflection that books and periodicals valued at nearly £1,000,000 are imported into Australia annually should cause us to realize that there is a practical as well as a literary side to the case that I am stating; It is regrettable that so many Australian writers are at present abroad. I am. glad to know,, however, that a number of. them are- doing excellent work.
My plea is that the vote for the- Commonwealth Literary Fund should be increased. I feel that the Treasurer would be sympathetic to such a proposal. Persons- who have proved their capacity to do creative work but are prevented from exercising their abilities because of their financial stringency, should be granted assistance. We should make grants-in-aid for publication of works of a national value when commercial publishers are not prepared to take any risks. We should provide money for the printing and publishing of new. works of national interest, and for the reprinting of Australian publications already out of print.
– Hear, hear !.
– Some of the best Australian books on the shelves of the Parliamentary Library and the National Library are already out of print. I should be delighted to have copies of some o£ those works- on* the shelves of my own modest library at home, for they recall the past history of this great country and emphasize certain phases of Australian national life of which the present generation knows next to nothing. Works of the kind that I have in mind would be of real- historical value.
I suggest also that annual prizes should be offered for the best literary works submitted to a properly qualified authority in prose and poetry and in research as well. I would not confine the reward to one prize or to one person. I suggest that the amount of money devoted to this purpose should be divided into several prizes in each series. I do not advocate that the monetary value of the prize should be very great, but it should be sufficient to act as an incentive to writers to do their best. An extravagantly large fund need not be provided1, but I am firmly con>vinced that more should be done through the Commonwealth Literary Fund than is being done at present. I would rely to. some extent on the moral effect of any lead that the Government, could give in this direction. It would be an example to others to follow, because there are in this country wealthy people who if given a lead by the National Parliament, may follow that lead.. . This is something which every one of us can do. A gold, medal is given each year by the Australian Literature Society for the best Australian book of the year, whether published in Australia or- abroad, and it is remarkable what incentive- this has given to writers. It is a small thing, but at least it is a- recognition of the work that is being done. Even a few words of encouragement from those in a representative position, such as the representatives in this House,, can help a lot. We may sometimes get an inferiority complex when- we are described as politicians, but at least we are- representatives of the people of this country, and a- word from each honorable member- would carry comsiderable weight. I have in mind two illustrations, one- instance in. England- and the- other in- Australia, of the- value of such a- lead, when a Prime- Minister hat commended a certain book. The- result was a wonderful increase of the. sales of the book, the edition being quickly sold out. I am. not. suggesting, that because a man is a. Prime- Minister he is- necessarily an. authority on literature, but it is remarkable how far, because of the position he. occupies, his words go, while the words of better judges.- pass- unheeded. Therefore, the Prime Minister, members of tha Cabinet and members of this Parliament should spare a few moments from, the racket of politics to say a few words for Australian writers and particularly- a new writer. One of the books I have mentioned was the first book published by an Australian author, and the- result of the words of. commendation by the Prime Minister meant the selling out of copies that were, till then, mouldering on the back shelves of book stores. We could set a movement afoot if we placed Australian literature in a foremost position in the minds of the people of Australia.
I come now to those- who question whether this is our work.. Prosaic persons will- say, “ What affair is this of parliament ? We are concerned with the practical affairs of life “. Man does not live- by bread alone, and for him life is not only made up of whatis considered to> be his bread and butter, or such things as the price of wool ; there are other things which go to make up human life; and for my part I know of no greater joy than good literature, andarticularly good, clean literature. It is, contend, the duty of legislatures to take a lively interest in everything that pertains to human life - everything that will lift the thoughts of men and women to a higher plane. If that were not so why does the State take up education; why do we have public libraries, art galleries, parks and gardens? Why have we set an example in Canberra to the whole of the civilized world in the beautifying, of a. city? It is all because we know that there is another side of life besides that which we call pounds, shillings and pence, or even bread and butter.
Again, living in a machine age, as we do to-day, we have to guard against producing mechanical minds, and in order to avoid that must have a cultural side of life. The question of machinery raises another important question - the possibilities of greater leisure-; and though we, as a community, and the communities of other nations, may realize the- importance of greater leisure and the greater possibilities that the machine gives for a- shorter working week, we have not there- finished our task; we have still to provide for proper and sound methods whereby we can utilize the leisure the machine gives. And, again,
I say I know of no greater joy in life than good reading, and I want some, a-t least, and preferably a large measure) of that reading to be written by writers dealing with Australia. I am not suggesting that we should not have other literature - I do not regret having read literature dealing with other parts of the world, and I like to read the best literature when I can- get it - but I should like to foster Australian literature. I am not saying that in a vainglorious spirit. I am saying it as a member of Parliament,, hoping that others with greater knowledge of the subject and greater gifts will take it up. We should foster learning everywhere; we should foster pamticularly national culture and raise our country to a. higher level. Literature plays an outstanding part in national life, and good literature has a- refining and elevating influence on our people. We should cultivate a good sound Australian sentiment, and I know of no better way of doing it than through good Australian literature. Some people, of course, scoff at sentiment - hard-headed practical men who declare that Australia cannot live by sentiment. Sentiment is at the basis of every practical idea we have-. After all, what greater sentiment is there than love of parents for their children, and what greater endeavours are there than those that parents make in a practical way to express that love? Their whole thought in life is for their children from babyhood to final stage - how to clothe, nourish and educate their offspring. That love is practical’, yet it flows from the wellsprings of sentiment. Likewise, many great, practical movements have flown from those things which to-day we call sentiment. Family life, too,, is the very basis of national life, and to those who say that all talk about an Australian sentiment” is to take a narrow view of one’s own country. I give a flat denial.- First of all men give first thoughts to their own homes . and families; their next thought is for their own towns and villages, and then for their State,, and, in a wider application, for their nation. It is a thought which can be extended still wider to embrace all other nations of the world, tm I refuse- to- believe, that real patriotism means antagonism to other nations of the world. That is Chauvinism. There are people who, when one talks about developing Australian sentiment, quote Dr. Johnson, who said that patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. There is not a noble thing which has not been used for an ignoble purpose and exploited. When a scoundrel wants to put up some scheme, he looks for a cloak for it, such as patriotism or religion; but this fact does not make patriotism or religion wrong; it merely emphasizes that these things are good when such people screen themselves behind them. Dr. Johnson was himself an ultra patriot; he could not see any good in Scottish people, because they were un-English. That is carrying the matter to extremes. But genuine love of country is desirable, especially from a humanitarian point of view, because love of country includes a warm regard for the people of one’s country. Our first consideration should be to inculcate in our people a desire to lift Australians as a whole above the sordid conditions under which many labour. If we lift up our own people, we must lift up the people of other countries.
Literature, then, has an immense influence on the cultural side of life, and in the development of genuine patriotism. A Scottish patriot, Andrew Fletcher, uttered the famous dictum that a nation’s ballads were more influential than its laws. And another writer said, “ I care not who writes the laws of a country so long as I may listen to its songs.” From those two expressions we have had handed down to us a quotation which today comes freely to our tongues - “ If I could write the songs of my country, I “care not who writes its laws.”
History has revealed the influence of literature in the development of a country. National sentiment created by literature - prose, poems, ballads and songs - has inspired people to great endeavours for the defence, progress and development of their country. I think it was Macaulay who said: “England had better have lost India than not had Shakespeare.” I confess that I would not like to have lost Shakespeare. Our school books relate the story of James Wolfe who, on the night before he was killed, referring to Gray’s Elegy, said, “I would rather have written that poem, gentlemen, than take Quebec to-morrow “. The significance of that statement was that Wolfe was speaking not of some achievement of his past, but of one which he was hopeful of accomplishing. Achievements which one hopes to accomplish are always of more importance in one’s mind than the things one has done.
It is said that there is no material for Australian writers, that we have not got a tradition or a culture. This criticism comes from people who, to say the least, are un-Australian. Not so long ago we were told that we had no skill to manufacture in this country, but we have proved that we can manufacture goods with the best in the world, and what is true of those material things is true of the things of the higher mind and higher culture. Surely in this vast expansive country, with a history, perhaps short when compared with that of other countries, but filled with many incidents, we can create stories of adventure, romance and heroism! And where, in any other part of the world, is there greater scope for descriptive writers than that offered by our own unsurpassed scenery? These are things that can be done, and I hope that this matter will be taken up in order that good and clean Australian literature may be provided for the Australian people.
The inferiority complex which we sometimes get when discussing culture is due to a belief that culture exists only in other parts of the world. We must get rid of that complex. I would not deny any one the riches to be found in other parts of the world. Diverting for a moment, I say that we are not preserving historical things in this country, as is being done in older countries. There is a good deal of vandalism in Australia, in the pulling down of historical buildings which, if preserved, would stir the memories of generations to come, and keep alive the class of architecture characteristic of early Australia. I was thrilled to look upon an old-fashioned cottage in a fairly crowded part on the outskirts of London when I realized that I stood where Milton had written part of Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. It thrilled me to visit Stratford-on-Avon where Shakespeare worked, to view the scenery which he saw from day to day, and the school which he attended. Such historical buildings are preserved, not only in England, but also in all other countries of the world, and Australia should preserve the homes of men who made Australian history, and helped to make Australian literature. We must preserve ancient buildings which have characteristics of their own, and we must mould and preserve Australian culture in every way.
My special plea to-day is for Australian writers. We have good writers, but they are so few in number that we want more of them; and we also want to keep those who are outstanding in their profession in Australia in order that they may do their work for Australia. Not that I believe that they should not travel in distant parts to broaden their outlook and increase their education; but after that I want them to come back to this country and do their writing here; and we, for our part, should* make it worth their while to do so.
If we had the true Australian sentiment, and our outlook in many instances were broader than the desire merely to wrest fortunes from nature in a few decades, as some persons have attempted to do, we should have preserved more of that great wealth and beauty which Providence has given to us. We should not allow it to waste as we have done. On previous occasions, I have had cause to refer to the destruction of our wonderful forests. If we had the real Australian sentiment, that destruction would not have been possible, and we should not be compelled to-day to make provision against the erosion of our soil, which is leading to an increase of arid areas. It is prophesied that large parts of Australia will become another Sahara Desert. If there were a really live Australian sentiment we would rise above the present-day desire for profit, and look to the future of the country which we have inherited. If we also had that regard for our fellow men and women, that higher regard which none of us has yet reached, and if we were to propound high ideals in respect of a national sentiment, we would never have allowed to grow up in Australia the slums which are now present in the big cities, and we would not have hesitated to destroy them. We would have spread our factories and industrial enterprises through the whole of the suitable parts of Australia, instead of concentrating them in a few big cities. I should be glad to see some of my constituents, who live in little narrow alley-ways because they are required to reside near the factories in which they are employed, in broad fields where nature’s sunshine and God’s fresh air would give them strength, brightness, and joy. If we did this we would be a better nation, and, by giving more consideration to Australian writers, would be able to make a beginning in this direction. A few men in this country are crying out for the granting of greater recognition to our Australian writers. I hope that this Parliament will heed their cry, which is, to some extent, a cry in the wilderness, and thereby we shall be doing our part to place Australian literature in a proud position among the nations of the world.
– May I first of all express the very real pleasure that it has given to me, and I am sure to other honorable members, to hear once again the well-known voice of the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin). I have never failed to appreciate the right honorable gentleman’s outstanding gift of oratory in debate. We have listened to his appeal on behalf of Australian authors with the keenest interest, and I shall be pleased to give my support to any action which is designed to extend the granting of further assistance to them. I have known of some extraordinarily sad instances in respect of persons who have contributed to Australian literature. One that comes readily to my mind is that of a poetess in Queensland, whose works for years gave great pleasure to her fellow Australians, and whose fame extended abroad. Not long ago she died. Her circumstances were such that she greatly appreciated the small pension which was paid to her from the Commonwealth Literary Fund. I agree with the right honorable gentleman that Australia can boast of some fine authors. In this connexion, I desire to make particular reference to Ion L. Idriess. He was a trooper in my regiment throughout the war, and not one of his comrades during that time suspected his literary abilities. He has written many books, and his fame has extended beyond our shores as one of the finest writers of the day. Anything that can be done to help our authors in this country should certainly receive attention.
I congratulate the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) on his able presentation of what has been described in the press as the “first real prosperity budget in years.” The complete lucidity which characterized the Treasurer’s speech certainly must have conveyed to honorable members his most thorough grasp of his extensive subjectmatter; and no matter how varying political opinions may have reacted to the provisions of the budget, I feel sure that, every honorable member WIll .agree that the veriest tyro in finance and national affairs would have had not the slightest difficulty in comprehending every word that was spoken by the Treasurer.
I desire also to congratulate the Government upon the very much’ happier state of affairs which is existing in the Commonwealth to-day, and which has made possible the taxation remissions and benefactions provided in the budget. It is my definite opinion that the administration of this Government, which has been vigorous and progressive, yet at the same time cautious, far-sighted and true to the soundest administrative principles, has played a major part in restoring prosperity to this country. “We must never fail to pay a tribute also to the people of Australia for ‘the spirit in which they fought through those very dark years of the depression which, let us hope, are now past. Their co-operation, tenacity of purpose and faith in the future of this great country have alone made possible the renewed .activity in all branches of commerce and industry which is now so evident on all sides. It is my definite opinion that this budget will hasten that progress towards complete recovery, and will materially augment and encourage the expansive measures which are already being made by individuals and private organizations throughout Australia. During the worst- years of the depression, it was pointed out by many persons that as thousand followed thousand into the ranks of the unemployed, consumption, production and distribution had to decrease correlatively in a circle that grew ever smaller and smaller. Of course this theory postulated -the preposterous conclusion that this continual diminution would finally lead to a vanishing point when nothing would be produced and nothing would be consumed. Be that as it may, the process is now being reversed. The stone of prosperity has been thrown into the pool of industry, and the ripples of its fall are rolling outward and outward in a series of ever-widening circles. The budget provisions will do more to assist in the complete re-absorption of the unemployed than would the mere handing out of large sums of money. The budget proposals will assist natural economic processes, whereas the other method, although it was necessary at one time, was never more than a desperate expedient designed to alleviate artificially the hardships created by a slump. Nevertheless, the millions which were handed out by governments during the worst years of the depression played their definite part in keeping intact the industrial structure of Australia, and fortunately the necessity for such extreme measures is now passing, if it has not already passed. The proposals contained in the budget will probably do more to remove, so far as is possible, the great problem of unemployment with which governments are still confronted. In 1932 unemployment had reached the alarmingly high level of 30 per cent., but in the first quarter of the present year it had dropped to only 12. S per cent. The number of hands employed in factories is now more than 4.80,000, which constitutes a record.
During the last five years, deposits in savings banks -have increased bv £32,000,000 to £225,000,000. Throughout the civilized world, it is generally recognized that savings bank deposits are an accurate mirror of the prosperity of the working class, .and in the present instance the rise of deposits reflects the steady improvement in industry. I do not agree with the contention which is sometimes advanced by some honorable members of the Opposition that the increase of savings bank deposits has been brought about because the wage-earner dare not spend his surplus income. While it is probable that the hard times which were experienced during the worst years of the depression inculcated in our people a greater sense of thrift, which may account in a minor degree for the increase of savings, I believe that the figures represent in a much larger measure the savings of a vast number of people who do not have to spend every penny that they earn in order to obtain all the necessities and at all events some of the enjoyments of life. That is my sincere opinion on this matter.
A further indication of the greater activity in industry is revealed in the building operations in the principal cities and suburbs. In 1932-33 such operations were valued at only £6,850,000, but in 1935-36 the total has increased to £21,972,000. Although we may sometimes make scornful references to them, some notable economists have stated that a great indicator of world prosperity is the price of basic metals and that of national prosperity the state of the building trade within the country.
– Not necessarily.
– Very often it is the soundest indication. Building operations in Australia have their own happy stories to tell in this symposium of recovery.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to8 p.m.
– I was about to refer to the position of our export, import, and internal trade, and to express the view that it is in a healthy condition, more than justifying the prophecy contained in the budget speech last year. Marketing difficulties certainly continue, and, of course, constitute a problem of which Australia, as a great primary-producing country, must be ever watchful. Never before in history has the creed of nationalism received such widespread support. I repeat my previously expressed conviction that Australia must consolidate its position in those overseas markets where its produce already finds a sale, and must assiduously cultivate friendly relations with those countries with which it can trade with mutual advantage, being careful not to jeopardize the larger market for a lesser one, or in any way to impair Imperial relations.
Despite the world-wide struggle for markets, Australia, because of the excellence of its products, continues to hold its own.For the year just concluded, our exports reached the now high level of £108,000,000 sterling, compared with £90,000,000 sterling for the previous year, and our imports totalled £85,000,000. as against £74,000,000 for the previous year. L am not one of those ardent nationalists who believe that we can sell our product to other countries and buy nothing, or us little as possible, in return. In order to sell, we must buy and vice versa. We are not in the happy position of having the sole world rights to sell our wheat, butter, meat, fruit, and other products. We have many able com pet i tors, who are prepared to offer to their customers valuable concessions in return for the purchase of primary products. Whereas some of those countries, notably the United States of America, have vast industrial and urban populations of their own with whom their primary producers can trade, Australia is almost entirely dependent for its prosperity upon its overseas trade. One hundred and fifty years hence, possibly, this position will have changed; I do not know. In all probability, 50 years, if not a century, will elapse before Australia will be in a position similar to that of the United States of America in regard to its internal trade. We are a debtor nation, with a small population, and it is necessary for us to export goods to the value of £30,000,000 annually to meet our overseas obligations.
Our immediate prospects for the marketing of our primary products are good. Take, for instance, wheat. Owing to a disastrous drought in the United States of America, the world price of wheat has risen appreciably-, and Australia is already feeling the benefit of the increase. According to information cabled from New York, the exports of wheat from the United States of America this year are expected to be almost negligible, and that country will probably have to import 43,000,000bushels for its own use.
Notwithstanding the competition of countries such as Denmark and New Zealand,the market for Australian butter is reasonably firm and satisfactory. Among our export commodities, butter has shown a greater increase than any other during the last five years. In 1929-30, our production was only 299,000,000 lb., as comparedwith 469,000,000 lb. last year. Some people may be surprised to hear that the value of our butter trade is now comparable with that of our gold production.
I now turn to wool. After rallying well in 1933-34, the price of wool dropped in the following year, but it is now once again on the up grade. Last year, Australian wool-growers again produced over 1,000,000,000 lb. of wool, but the state of the market for this commodity to-day, owing to the temporary absence of Japanese bidding, is causing considerable concern. I most earnestly ask the Government to leave no stone unturned in its efforts to discover some basis upon which trade between Australia and Japan can be resumed, always providing, of course, that that basis does not involve a virtual surrender of any part of our sovereign right to conduct our own affairs, and does not impair Imperial relations. If any country attempted to dictate to Australia the terms upon which it was prepared to trade with us, I feel sure that all honorable members would stand behind the Government in a policy of independence. I have visited Japan on several occasions, and on one visit lived there continuously for a year. I hope sincerely that some settlement of our present unfortunate dispute with that country will be effected.
It seems to me that great credit must be given to the Government for the manner in which it. has devised the tax concessions provided for in the budget. I cannot agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr.Curtin) that in this budget, spoils have been given to the victors. That is a. most unfair and inaccurate interpretation. The Government is to be congratulated on the manner in which it has benefited all sections of the community. The reductions of the. sales tax and primage duty will lighten still further the burden on the business community, and will increase the purchasing power of the £1, whilst the reduction of the income tax will bring a yet greater measure of relief to a class of taxpayers which was called upon to make many sacrifices during the depression.
I also congratulate the Government upon its decision finally to restore to normal rates the salaries of all Commonwealth employees which were reduced under the financial emergency legislation. The Commonwealth has a particularly fine Public Service, which has behind it traditions of integrity and conscientious attention to its important administrative duties. The service is not lavishly paid, and to many members of it, the drastic provisions made necessary by the financial emergency meant, not only personal sacrifice, but actual personal loss. Throughout the crisis, the service remained unwaveringly true to its high traditions, and, stability having now been restored, it is only right that the salaries of the members of the service should be increased to their former level.
All honorable members, I am sure, are deeply interested in thewelfare of returned soldiers and their dependants. It is extremely gratifying to know that an increase of service pensions and of allowances to the children of disabled exsoldiers is being given. I hope sincerely that, before the expiration of this Parliament, it will have been found possible to restore all the pensions paid to ex-service men and their dependants to the amount paid prior to the passage of the financial emergency legisla t ion .
We are all gratified to note the increase of the invalid and old-age pension to 19s. This amount is still1s. short of what it formerly was, but it has been pointed out that a cost of living adjustment may raise it to its former level. Nevertheless, our pensions bill grows larger every year, and it is one which must be met by a direct tax upon, the wealth of the community. Fourteen years ago the pensions bill amounted to £5,500,000, and two years ago it had increased to £11,762,000. Last year, a vote of £1 2,772,000 was asked for, and for the current year it is expected that the cost will approximate £14,000,000. I am fully cognizant of the fact that in democratic countries throughout the world, the general trend is for the cost of social services to increase. 1 consider it right and just that the humbler members of the community should be able to spend the sunset of their days in comfort and security, hut 1 maintain that this security could best be given to the aged and infirm by a soundly planned scheme of national insurance. This would remove any unpleasant tang of charity which may possibly be attached to the pension. ° I have addressed honorable members before on the subject of national insurance, and, despite all the criticism levelled against it, I am still of the opinion that, in the words of Hamlet, it is “ a consummation devoutly to be wished”. We are, I imagine, all familiar with the history of national insurance. The first scheme was started in France over 86 years ago and from .its inception it was a complete success. But perhaps the story of national insurance in Great Britain furnishes a more inspiring example of the stupendous value of such a project. The British scheme was formulated, I believe, in ] 9.1.1, but the great Avar intervened and checked its proper development. Nevertheless, its incalculable value Avas demonstarted throughout the stress of the appalling period of unemployment, which practically devastated the Mother Country in post-war years. One commentator has gone so far as to say that the British insurance scheme was one of the corner stones of national security upon which Great Britain rested during those strenuous years, and to-day there are, T understand, about 10,000,000 insured persons in Great Britain.
– There are 18,000,000 insured persons in Britain.
– The honorable! member’s figures, which are later than mine, show that the position in the Mother Country is even better than I had stated it to be.
I come now to the all important subject of defence. The low ebb to which the defence of the Commonwealth had fallen, coupled Avith the continued ancertainty and danger of the international situation, rendered it necessary for the
Government to present the biggest peacetime defence proposals in the history of this country. I am sure that the Aus traiian people will appreciate thu Government’s concern for the safety of the Commonwealth and will offer their wholehearted co-operation in the carrying out of plans which have been made for adequate defence. I am not a jingo - I hope it is not necessary for me to impress this upon honorable members. J. have personal knowledge of the beastliness of Avar and I love peace. The unhappy state of the world warns us to be prepared to defend the peace which, in 1918, we thought Ave had won for all time.
There is little need for me to detail to honorable members the many ways in which our defences are to he further strengthened. I learned with pleasure of the Government’s decision to provide a more effective navy and air force; to strengthen the army; to institute a campaign for recruits to the militia, and to increase the personnel of nil branches of the defence service.
To me it is inconceivable that even the most ardent pacifist could argue that this expenditure is unnecessary. Let us look for a moment at troubled Europe - would that it could lose that unhappy description. Figures are not available, but no less an authority than Mr. Winston Churchill has estimated that Germany is spending £400,000,000 a year on now armaments and a further £400,000,000 for the maintenance of its existing war machine. Do honorable members realize that this huge sum approximates the entire expenditure under the British budget ? The size of Germany’s air force is unknown, and only a. guess, can bc made of the size of its army; but we do know that the German Government k increasing the potential number of its soldiers by training mere school children. France also has just announced a rcarmament plan, under which it will spend £300,000,000, and will train schoolboys of fourteen years of age in what are technically known as field sports.
Great Britain, which is, I maintain, the most peace-loving country in the world, tried to set an example to other nations by whittling away its defences until the nation became too weak to withstand any prolonged onslaught by one of the great European powers, and recently the government staggered the entire world by announcing its determination to spend £400,000,000 to bring British defences up-to-date. At present Spain is being torn by a bloody civil Avar, inwhich the most dreadful atrocities are being perpetrated. The peace of theworld may depend on the result of that unhappy struggle. The United States of America has bluntly announced that “ the sky is the limit “ if Japan transgresses certain naval pacts, and meantime it is adding to its army and air force and placing orders with shipbuilders for more battleships. Japan has countered this, so press cables inform us, by threatening to buildwarships armed with l8-inch guns and, in addition, has just brought down the largest budget in its history to provide for still greater increases of the Japanese army, navy and air forces. In Italy, Signor Mussolini looks from Rome across the Mediterranean towards Gibraltar and wonders what will be the outcome of the Spanish civilwar.
In a world thus torn by hatred, distrust, suspicion, and envy, aworld in which national ambitions and aspirations are backed by threats of force, it is well to consider the peculiar position of this country. Australia, is the sixth largest country in the world, those larger being Russia, China, Canada, the United States of America, and, honorable members may be surprised to learn, Brazil. It is the only isolated land of any sizewhich isowned and governed entirely by one race of people. The population of this country, moreover, is less than 7,000,000. Thus our isolation and small population make the subject of national defence vitally important. The United States of America, with its 120,000,000 of people is virtually immune from attack. Canada,with a population of 10,000,000, could not. I maintain ever be seriously menacedwithout its eventneigbour intervening on its behalf.
The strength of Russia’s fighting forces, like those of Germany, is unknown; but it is safe to assume that they are immense andwell trained. China is the unhappy victim of internal corruption and strife, but it is almost certain that Soviet Russiawould come to its aid if it were threatened, and Great Britain and the United . States of America have too much at stake com- mercially in southern China to allow that country to be the prey of any powerful nation wishing to destroy its national integrity. Australia alone is an isolated, under populated, and, potentially, immensely wealthy island continent. It would be ridiculous to assume, for quo moment, that a would-be conqueror would ignore Australia as a spoil of Avar. I think I have said enough to indicate, if that be necessary, how vitally important it is that Australia should be able to not only to defend itself from possible attack, but also to make a worthy contribution to the defence of the British Empire, which is, I believe, the greatest force for peace in theworld to-day.
Civil aviation is an important feature of any defence policy. A few days ago I asked the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill)whether any recommendation had been made with regard to reducing the cost of training pilots, and Iwas informed that the matter had been considered by the Civil Aviation Board and that a scheme for more intensive training of pilots and further assistance to aero clubswas now being evolved.. Australia has need for a much greater reserve of skilled pilots than is at present available; but, unfortunately, the cost of training is excessive. An “ A “ class licence may cost anything up to £200, and a “B” class or commercial licence may. in certain circumstances, cost £1,000 before it is of any value to the pilot. 1 am unable to saywhat is the cost of corresponding licences in Great Britain and the United States of America, but I understand that it is much less.
On other occasions I have urged that a remission of the duty on petrol used by civil aeroplaneswould very materially reduce the cost of tuition of pilots, and would assist in the development of the air forces of thiscountry. Shortly after the Avar Australia led the world in commercial air services, but I regret to state that in recent years it has fallen behind many other nations. Existing air services are fast, efficient and reasonably cheap; but the rapid development which has taken place, and is taking place, in other countries is, to a certain extent, lacking in Australia. Between 1930 and 1934, civil aviation in Australia not only failed to expand, but it actually declined. This is proved conclusively by the civil aircraft summary appearing en page 199 of the Year-Book for 1935. There has certainly been a heartening development since then, but much yet remains to be clone, and I believe that the remission of the duty on the fuel used by civil and commercial aircraft would give an impetus to expansion and development. One of the major air transport companies in Australia uses over 300,000 gallons of petrol a year, and in petrol duty alone contributes annually nearly £10,000 to the Commonwealth revenue. Everything possible must be done to develop civil aviation in Australia. When Henry Ford 35 years ago dreamed of making a car for the multitude he was laughed at. Ten years ago an aeroplane within the reach of the pockets of many thousands of people was little more than an idle dream. To-day in England and the United States of America it is a reality. Aeroplanes are being manufactured and freely sold to the general community.
Young as this country is, it has already achieved a tradition for greatness in the air, and such names as Kingsford Smith, Ulm, Ross Smith, Hinkler, Hawker and Melrose are at once an inspiration to and an ideal for our youth. In times of stress and war on Australian soil, which I pray will never come, our air fleet, were it big enough, would valuably augment the military air force, and might even be as indispensable to it as was the mercantile marine to the British Navy during the Great War. Even if the Government cannot see its way clear completely to remit or at least reduce the duty on petrol used by commercial aeroplanes, I strongly urge that the duty on petrol used in instructional machines should be remitted. The loss of revenue would be negligible, but it would be impossible to estimate the advantage to this country of an augmented civil air force due to the resultant cheapening of the cost of learning to fly.
To sum up, I repeat that Australia once led the world in the development of commercial airways; air transport is peculiarly suited to the needs of this continent; the civil air force will be an important adjunct to military aircraft in the event of attack, and to this end we must have skilled pilots. Again I remind the committee of Australia’s tradition for greatness in the air - a tradition that has been bought with the lives of many brave men - and I urge the Government to take every step that is reasonably possible to reduce the cost of tuition for pilots, in order to encourage the youth of this country to live up to the splendid examples which have been set for them.
The Treasurer has, with every justification, claimed that this year he presented a budget “ with many happy features “, and that it marks “ the beginning of greater prosperity and happiness for the people of our country “. It has been suggested that he might adopt the simile once used by an English Chancellor of the Exchequer and congratulate himself upon having presented a budget which, figuratively, carries the Commonwealth from the last page of Bleak House to theopening chapters of Great Expectations.
.- Usually, the budget debate is associated with an examination of figures. But I have employed it in the past, and I propose to do so this evening, for a special purpose. Before embarking upon that special purpose, however, I should like, if I may, to adopt the excellent speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), with the terms of which I cordially agree. At the same time, as a member of the Scullin Government, I make acknowledgments to him for the generous expressions in which he attributed to the proper source, the temporary and partial recovery of this country to which the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) bore witness in his budget speech.
I propose to address myself to a matter which has become commonplace in popular conversation, namely the Constitution, and more particularly section 92 thereof. Before concluding, I shall make some special references to the appearance of the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) before the Privy Council, his position before that body, the arguments that he there propounded-
– Whom he really represented.
– And to the question suggested by the honorable member for Hindmarsh- whom he did, in fact, represent. When that “ village Hampden with dauntless breast”, planted the vine upon which, in latter years, the lexias were to grow, he little could have thought, as he patted the earth around that innocent plant, that he was sowing dissension and that the harvest was to be “ chaos “. With your permission, Mr. Prowse, I shall trace shortly the history and revive the story of the vine, the fruit, the market place, the court, the higher court, the highest court, and finally, chaos. It seems a simple story, with a pleasant beginning and an unhappy ending, but in fact it is not by any means so simple as at first appears. When I tell the committee that 27S,000 words were spilt in the last chapter before the Privy Council, it will realize that chaos is not a thing which has an easy birth.
I shall begin with the inception of the Constitution - I could be less merciful by beginning at an earlier stage - that monument of British statesmanship, that perfect expression of our undiluted
On tlie imposition of uniform duties of customs, trade, commerce, and intercourse among tlie States, whether by means of internal carriage or ocean navigation, shall be absolutely free.
Those words were so brief, clear, definite and precise, that one would think they could hardly be misunderstood. They were so clear, definite and precise, that in 1936 the Privy Council, after a few well-chosen words of argument, totalling, as I have said, 278,000, had no difficulty in disagreeing Avith those equally eminent men, judges and lawyers, who in the years before, after the spilling of another 300,000 or 400,000 words of argument, had come to entirely different conclusion’s. Yet, there was a fundamental miscalculation. The baby had not yet been born and, therefore, could not be consulted. The Commonwealth Avas still in embryo. It was considered, as the lawyers say, only objectively. Indeed, how many fathers have considered the unborn son, or the son newly born, in somewhat similar fashion : “He is mine. What shall I do with him? What will he do for me”? Sure enough twenty years afterwards, on the very eve of this infant giant’s coming of age, we find him proceeding to do for the States, in the worst sense in which that expression “ do for “ is sometimes used. However, “at the beginning” that was that.
The carriers moved across the Murray; the Queensland bullocks waved their tails in the air, and passed over the bridge, in pleasant anticipation of the slaughter house ; and no man’s pyjamas any longer suffered any kind of violation at the hands of customs officials at Albury.
Nor did any one consider at that time how section 51 (1) would be read in relation to section 92. The former is the section which lays it down that -
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws forthe peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to -
Trade and commerce with other countries, and among the States.
The power to legislate in respect of trade and commerce surely implied, at least to the lay mind, the power to restrict, control and regulate. How was this to run in double harness with the “absolutely free” of section 92? Yet for nearly twenty years, lawyers and litigants with difficulty steered their course between Scylla and Charybdis. Freedom of trade and of intercourse between the States stood like the Rock of Ages. As one would say, it was an “ organic law “; it was an “accepted thesis”. IsaacsJ. said in the case Rex v. Smithers (16 C.L.R.,117)-
In my opinion the guarantee of interstate freedom of transit and access for persons and property under section92 is absolute, that is, it is an absolute prohibition on the Commonwealth and States alike to regard State borders as in themselves possiblebarriers to intercourse between Australians.
That was in 1912. In 1915, Mr. Justice Gavan Duffy sounded a note of doubt. He said -
Section 51 of the Constitution enables Parliament, subject to the Constitution, to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to “ trade and commerce with other countries and among the States”. The words ‘'’absolutely free” in section 92 must, therefore be subject to some limitation so as to give them a meaning consistent with the existence of this legislative power.
At that time disaffection from perfect loyalty to “ absolute freedom “ under section 92 was beginning to grow. Great men were thinking great thoughts. Some were thinking of Marshall,C.J. of the United States of America and of his Constitution building in that country. Then came the Mc Arthur case, reported in 28 C.L.R. What a bench ! What a bar ! A Queensland anti-profiteering act was challenged as offending against section 92. Goods imported . from Sydney were being sold by a Brisbane firm, above the fixed price. Latham and Dixon appeared for the defendants, and Sir Edward Mitchell, K.C., and E. M. Mitchell, for a Queensland Minister and the Commission of Prices. The cafe was heard by Judges Knox, Isaacs, Higgins, Rich and Starke. A short story of the litigation is that the rag merchant won, and the Government and the commissioner were routed. The right to sell at profiteering prices was established by the High Court. In the course of a very elaborate judgment there occurred this inquiry - “ Is the Commonwealth bound by section 92?” The amazing fact is that the point had not been disputed or argued by this bar of eminent jurists, and out of the blue came this amazing unasked revolutionary dictum of the High Court. On page 556 appear these words -
Why should it have been argued ? It was an “ accepted thesis “ by this very court. It was a. great clay for the Commonwealth. It has to be remembered that the High Court is part of the judicature, and the judicature is an integral part of the Constitution. It was laid down that the words “absolutely free” in section 92 must have their natural meaning of absolute freedom from every sort of impediment, regulation, or control by the States, with respect to trade, commerce, or intercourse between them. There was to be no nonsense, but - and these words should bo in italics - “ it does not apply to our show “. The interpretation was so strict that it could not possibly apply to us. In this connexion, I am reminded of the man who said he was altogether opposed to the doctrine of the existence of a hell because no human constitution could stand it. The High Court decided that section 92 could not bind the Commonwealth, because the Commonwealth Constitution could not stand it. When was there a finer declaration of independence than on the day which celebrated -the almost comingofage of the young giant who was not born when the people flung their hats in the a-g twenty years before? For force and lucidity, the judgment, in the McArthur case could hardly be surpassed, unless, perhaps, by the lucidity and force of the arguments which, years before,, had proved the contrary. Yet it was not mere judicial irony. McArthur’s case was an honest attempt to extricate a suffering people from the natural consequences of their folly; to give them a workable constitution. The Labour party has attempted the same thing. The Privy Council has now thrown the suffering public back to sweat in the natural consequences of their folly in refusing the advice of those who pointed out a simple way to amend the constitution and thus avoid this loss, turmoil, expense and heartburning, and these spectacular tours abroad. The High Court recognized that section 92 is unworkable, but the Privy Council said “What is that to us? Look thou to it and make a proper constitution”. It is a nice question as to which tribunal had the higher concept of justice. After the Mc Arthur case the Commonwealth Parliament proceeded to pass legislation including laws to promote the exportation of dried fruits, and to keep up the price of such fruits sold in intra-state trade. The more Parliament legislated the more the judges doubted. Time went on. One judge died, another became otherwise exalted. Younger judges came who knew not Joseph., and section. 92 was becoming nearly normal. Conditions altered considerably since the time when the people threw up their hats; the judgment iu the Mc Arthur case was losing its friends, the band was getting ready to play the “ Dead March “, and the Commonwealth practically took the knock in Vizzard v. The King, 50 C.L.R. In that case the Commonwealth intervened. Under the direction of this Government the question was argued in precisely the opposite direction from the way in which the present Attorney-General argued it before tho Privy Council. I am aware of the explanation which the Attorney-General will give to that extraordinary anomaly.
– The honorable member is also aware of the fact that I was not a member .’‘of the Government at that time.
– The AttorneyGeneral is also aware that I did not say that he was. He is, however, a member of the Government which briefed Sir Robert Garran to argue in opposition to the views which the honorable gentleman later submitted to ‘the Privy Council. It was in these circumstances that the present Attorney-General proceeded to Great Britain to “whip a dead horse “ at great expense to the ‘Commonwealth and at substantial expense to Victoria on a perfectly hopeless mission. After contributing 49,000 words to the debate he left the horse even “ deader “ than it was when, ho left Australia. I do not question the Minister’s ability to present the ease, and I do not question his ability to command high fees. I am not dealing with the AttorneyGeneral personally. If I speak of his private affairs in connexion with the proceedings before the Privy Council it is only because he has mixed up his private practice with his public duties. The truth is that his position was untenable and the result was that he failed both clients. Had his argument succeeded he would have injured both clients. Owing to the failure of his mission no greater harm was done than the loss of public money expended in sending him to appear before the Privy Council. The AttorneyGeneral had a leg in each camp. Had the Commonwealth Government won congratulations would have gone to him from Canberra, and had the State won they would have gone from the top of Bourke-street, Melbourne. Summarizing the position, Victoria paid the present Attorney-General £2,000 - the amount does not interest me for the reasons already given - and received nothing in return, and won. The Commonwealth paid his expenses, which were substantial, and, getting the whole weight of his argument, lost; the extent to which this was consequential or merely coincidental I leave to others to say. I wish to avoid misunderstanding as to my position. I have indicated what our policy as a Labour party is regarding the amendment of the Constitution. Everybody knows that the Labour party stands for the enfranchising of the people of Australia, for investing this Parliament with such sovereign powers-
– Absolute powers.
– Yes, such absolute powers as are enjoyed by the Parliament of Great Britain, and we -stand, as in the case of the Parliament of Great Britain, for the delegating of certain powers to subordinate governing bodies. Everybody knows that policy well ;. it is so simple and natural that it cannot be misunderstood. For the time being, however, I am addressing myself, not to the policy of the Labour party, but to the unfortunate position brought about by other parties, and to the fact that the Attorney-General, who does not stand for the enfranchisement of the Australian people, but who wishes to continue the existing constitutional position, has attempted to do a substantial measure of wrong to both his clients.
He commenced his argument with an assertion in the nature of an apology. I have read the argument because the honorable gentleman was courteous enough to make the notes available to me in the Library, and the reading of it was no light task. Ite opened his argument by saying that the State of Victoria was making common cause with the Commonwealth “ on all matters which here fall for decision That statement was totally incorrect. The only common ground between the Commonwealth and the State of Victoria was the desire, for the time being, of both to maintain, for reasons of expediency, the validity of certain Commonwealth statutes. However, the Attorney-General himself admitted later in his argument that the matter, went far beyond that. Mr. Wilfred Barton, the eminent advocate who appeared for the appellant, was under no such misapprehension, for he pointed out that the appeal really was an appeal from McArthur’s case; nor was the Master of the Rolls, who gave the decision on behalf of the Privy Council, under any misapprehension because, in the course of the judgment, he states -
The substantial question in this appeal which is of great constitutional and commercial importance is whether section U2 of the Constitution binds the Commonwealth, and if so, whether the Dried Fruits Act and Regulations contravene it.
The view was undoubtedly taken by all counsel present that that, with all its constitutional implications, was the real point being argued before the Privy Council. Indeed, it was a matter of public notoriety that such was the case. The Attorney-General essayed the impossible task of sustaining McArthur’s case, and in doing so, he argued for such a definition of trade and commerce interstate as would have paralyzed the State of Victoria in the exercise of vital functions of Government if it were accepted. That is a serious statement to make, and I therefore make it with deliberation.
I am quite aware that this is largely a legal argument, but it is one which can be well understood by any honorable member who cares to refer to the authorities I am presenting to him for perusal. What I have just said as to the paralysis of certain of the powers of the State of Victoria is amply borne out by the judgment of the Privy Council. I ask honorable members to look at page 48 of the report of the case, and then turn from that to the case of Tha King v. Vizzard in 50 C.L.R., .and especially to refer to page 80, and succeeding pages. The decision in McArthur’s case, in 1920, 2S C.L.R., which effected the revolution, is contained in a judgment of which the following is an. extract : -
The expression ‘”’ trade and commerce “ in section 92 includes all commercial dealings and accessory methods adopted to initiate, continue and effectuate the movement of persons and things from State to State. It is not limited to the mere act of transportation over territorial frontiers.
Th’e words “absolutely free” in section 92 cannot be confined to pecuniary enactments or customs laws, but must have their natural meaning of absolute freedom from every sort of impediment, regulation or control by the States with respect to trade, commerce and intercourse between them.
For this view the Attorney-General contended, and upon it, Mr. Justice Evatt comments as follows inVizzard’s case : - But this consideration that section 92 has effect wherever and whenever the State legislates against the freedom of interstate commerce and intercourse also shows that if, as the present applicant argues, a common carrier derives an inalienable right from section 92 to project every one of his motor lorries upon the States’ roads and use them there so long as he does so for the purpose of carrying goods from one State to another, section 92 must also secure, to all carriers, traders and travellers animmunity from obedience to very many State laws which are analagous in scope and object to the State Transport Coordination Act 1931.
This was a case in which a man was trading by motor lorry between Wagga and Melbourne. He refused to pay licencefees to the State of New SouthWales in accordance with the requirements of legislation passed by the Parliament of that State. He invoked section 92. I submit that, beyond theslightest doubt, the Attorney-General stood, and stood strongly, for just this shearing away of State powers in New South Wales - and, by parity of reasoning, Victoria - which is implicit in the judgment I have read.
The Attorney-General misunderstood or misrepresented the leading judgment inVizzard’s case. He ridiculed Sir Robert Garran, who submitted an argument which was, nevertheless, adopted in Vizzard’s case, and was afterwards adopted by the Privy Council. He ridiculed and rejected that argument, although it was the only one which, within the framework of the present Constitution, could be employed to make sections 51 (1) and 93 of the Constitution work together. The Privy Council, on the’ other hand, in the judgment now under review, restored the status of the States, which the Attorney-General was attempting to undermine. The Master of the Rolls, who read the unanimous judgment of the Privy Council, approved of the judgment of Mr. Justice Evatt, and said -
The elaborate judgment of Evatt J. in that ease (i.e., Vizzard’s case) is of great importance.It is impossible to quote here at length from it. One short passage may be extracted - “Section 92 does not guarantee that in each and every part of a transaction which includes the interstate carriage of commodities, the owner of the commodities, together with his servants and agents, and each and every independent contractor co-operating in the delivery and marketing of the commodities and each of his servants and agents,possesses until delivery and marketing are completed a right to ignore State transport or marketing regulations, and to choose how when and where each of them will transport and market the commodities.”
Obviously, the Attorney -General had argued that such a right was possessed. The Privy Council adds that this reasoning, which it approves, applies also to the Commonwealth. The truth is that the words used by the Master of the Rolls in respect of Queensland in Mc Arthur’s case, apply by analogy to Victoria in this case. The Master of the Rolls said -
In truth, the decision deprives Queensland of its sovereign right to regulate internal prices.
I submit with confidence that, if the Attorney-General had succeeded with his argument, he would have deprived Victoria of its sovereign right to legislate over a wide field affecting interstate trade and commerce. The fact is that the Attorney-General was, throughout his whole argument, really challenging the right of his client to exercise functions of government which it had exercised from time immemorial. I may add that the Attorney-General of New South Wales, in adopting the argument of the Commonwealth Attorney-General, did a similar wrong to his own State.
Sir Stafford Cripps, who appeared for the States of Western Australia and Tasmania, aptly illustrated the correct attitude for counsel for one of the States to take up. In his opening sentence, in reply, he stated -
The inconvenience which it is said will arise if the Commonwealth is bound by section 92 is inconvenience as viewed by the Commonwealth, but from the point of view of the States there is just as great, or even greater inconvenience if the Caramon wealth is not bound.
When the referendum is taken in Victoria, we shall see how far that State stands for increased legislative powers for the Commonwealth, we shall see how far the present State Government of Victoria will back up the argument of the Commonwealth Attorney-General before the Privy Council, and we shall certainly see whether it is prepared to support the argument for such overriding and far-reaching power as the Attorney-General contended for in favour of the Commonwealth. There can be no doubt that, taking the Constitution- as it stands, or as the Government would have it, the argument of the AttorneyGeneral was gravely subversive of the interests of Victoria. [Leave to continue given.”] For example, that State, if the view of the Attorney-General were accepted, would not be able to require a motor-lorry owner engaged iti transport between, say, Melbourne and Wagga, and using Victorian roads, to pay a licence fee or apparently observe rules as to the weight and construction of vehicles and related disciplinary matters. Again, but for the happy non-success of the AttorneyGeneral, it would seem clear that Victoria would have forfeited the right, in the case of any vessel carrying only commodities from another State to Victoria, to pass any laws affecting the regulation or control of such goods carried or passing over the roads or railways of Victoria. Again, thanks to the failure of the Attorney-General, section 92, within the meaning that the Attorney-‘General sought to give it, must secure, in the case of all goods coming from another S’tate, immunity to an unlimited class of carriers, traders, and travellers from obedience to very many State laws which are analagous to the State Transport Act 1931’ of New South Wales.
A few other important considerations arise, suggested by the Attorney-General accepting a brief for a substantial fee from a source other than the Commonwealth, and arguing it in conjunction with the brief he held for the Commonwealth. Some little time ago - I believe it was in 1928 - the honorable gentleman contributed an article to the Australian Law Journal, in which he advocated views diametrically opposed to those which he submitted to the Privy Council. Naturally, an advocate is quite free to submit different views at different times for different clients for different or similar fees. I stand to the honorable gentleman up to that point, but the position is entirely different when we consider the case of an Attorney-General speaking and acting for the public of the Commonwealth as a member of the Government.
I shall now put a few questions to the honorable gentleman. Are we nor entitled to assume that when he submits an argument to the Privy Council he is expressing the views of the Government in the public interest? Was he speaking before the Privy Council as a private advocate drawing a fee from the State of Victoria, or as the Public Trustee for the Commonwealth? Did he submit his own views and the views of the Government, or did he submit anybody’s views ? In the campaign on the proposed referendum will he hold himself free to repudiate the argument he addressed to the Privy Council, or will he hold himself bound to it, whether it coincides with the public interest or not? What is the honorable gentleman’s mind on this subject? When such a clash of private interests and public duty occurs it gives rise to such a series of questions, and to these questions the public is entitled to demand an answer.
Finally, I ask the Attorney-General why Sir Robert Garran was briefed by the Government of which the AttorneyGeneral is a member to submit an argument which I say was the only proper argument that might have been advanced to make the States and the Commonwealth capable of working together under the existing Constitution. Sir Robert Garran, having been briefed to submit such an argument, and having submitted his argument, and it having been accepted by the High Court and being now law, why did the Attorney-General go abroad with his entourage and suite at great public expense to contradict everything that the Government employed another advocate to say? These questions should be answered clearly.
– My ex-secretary will no doubt be gratified to hear himself described as an entourage and suite.
– It has been suggested that the Attorney-General will deal with these questions flippantly. It has also been suggested that he will dispose of the whole matter as he disposed some little time ago of a question I asked him when he said, quite courteously and, I have no doubt, in his opinion quite sufficiently, that the answer to the first part of ray question was “yes”, and to the second part of it*” no”. A full and sufficient answer! I may add that it was precisely the answer which seemed to me to be inevitable in the circumstances, but I wished to have it recorded. I suggest to him now, and also to the committee, that he should not treat this matter lightly because if my questions go without an answer there can be only one conclusion from his silence upon them as a matter of first class public importance affecting himself privately and publicly, and that is that he has no answer to give.
.- In common with all other honorable gentlemen I listened with great interest to the speech delivered this afternoon by the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin). I am sure it is a matter for regret by all honorable members that the health of the right honorable gentleman docs not” permit him to take part in our debates more often, for we always benefit when he is able to speak.
The Government and the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) are to be congratulated upon the budget now before us. Even the ranks of Tuscany can scarce forbear to cheer, although some of the cheers given by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) were not as full-throated as one might have wished. I am sure that we are all proud that Australia is in such an improved financial position to-day. This position is, to some extent, clue to the fact, that for the last five years this country has had the benefit’ of a very wise and prudent administration. I was glad to hear the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) express the opinion, after his return from abroad, that Australia’s economic position was more favorable than that of any other country in the world.
The budget proposals for the remission of taxes have, generally speaking, met with universal support. The actual cost to the Treasury of the remissions will be more than £6,000,000, and a very wide field of taxation has been covered, including that of sales taxation. As I said when that subject was being debated a few days ago, the sales tax is most burdensome in its incidence. Despite what honorable gentlemen opposite have had to say on the subject, I consider that the reduction of the rate of sales tax by 1 per cent, will benefit the whole community. I hope that there will be a further percentage scaling down of the sales tax, and that this will be but a prelude to its complete abolition.
Some criticism has been offered of the Government’s proposal to discontinue the special tax on property, but this impost has been more harsh in its effect than probably any other form of emergency taxation, and its removal will, undoubtedly, have a beneficial effect in that it will tend to steady interest rates.’ If that end is achieved honorable members generally will be pleased. The Treasurer informed the committee that the Government had given careful consideration to the possibility of reducing other taxes. I believe that the remissions now being made will be of general benefit although, naturally, in common with every other honorable member, I could suggest, other remissions that might be made.
I hope that the day is not far distant when reductions will be made in certain charges levied by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. It would be beneficial to the country if the postage rate could be reduced.
The Federal Aid Roads Agreement has, undoubtedly, been of great assistance to every State of the Commonwealth, and it is to be renewed in substantially its present form, but one important variation is that the extra 4(. a gallon from the customs and excise duties on petrol that is being given to the States may be expended on other than road works such as were contemplated in the original Federal Aid Roads Agreement. This, I think, is a mistake. The whole of the money allocated from the petrol tax should be devoted to road work. I should like to see a proportion of the grant specifically earmarked for use by the municipal and shire councils for work on by-roads. In shires, especially those with a high valuation, there is probably no heavier charge on the man on the land than shire rates.
This year the staggering amount of nearly £14,000,000 is being provided for the payment of invalid and old-age pensions, and it is anticipated that by the end of the year about 300,000 people will be in receipt of such pensions. Yet the Government is finding the money to make possible an increase of ls. a week in the rate of invalid and old-age pensions, a similar increase in service pensions, and an increase of ls. 6d. a week in the pension to children of incapacitated soldiers..
The honorable in ember for Lilley (Sir Donald Cameron), dealt briefly but effectively with the international situation insofar- as it related -to armaments. Unfortunately the world, is in such a state to-day that national armaments are necessary. In a desire for peace Great Britain followed a policy of disarmament to a point inconsistent with national security. Unfortunately it was unilateral action and Britain’s example was not followed by other nations. While Britain disarmed, other nations increased their armaments with the result that the British Empire was not in a position adequately to defend its interests had the occasion arisen. Article 8 of the Covenant of the League of Nations requires Member States to maintain a strength consistent with national security and sufficient to enforce international obligations by common action. There is a responsibility upon members of the League to provide mutual support. That support must be immediate if the collective system is to be effective. To that end, Great Britain is now rebuilding its army and navy and expanding its air force, and Australia is playing its part by carrying out the planned programme outlined by the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill). Too often a sum of money has been allocated for defence and an attempt made to define a policy within those limits. Such a system can never achieve anything definite or adequate. A better plan is to decide first, what the defence policy shall be, and then over a number of years, it may be, appropriate money for the purpose of putting that policy into operation. That is what the Commonwealth. Government is doing. In 1923, an Imperial Conference laid down certain fundamental principles for Empire defence. Those principles were: first, the need for adequate defence of the territory and trade of every country in the Empire; secondly, the Parliaments of the Empire to decide the nature and the extent of the action to be taken by each; thirdly, each country of the Empire to be primarily responsible for its own defence ; fourthly, sea communications and routes along which an armed force would travel, as well as trade routes, to be adequately safeguarded; and fifthly, the provision of naval bases, repair and fuel depots to ensure mobility of the naval forces. Those principles have been reaffirmed and strengthened at various conferences since that date, and they now form the basis of the Empire’s defence policy. They have been adopted by the Imperial Committee of Defence, and by the committees of defence in the several dominions. It is well to remember the third of those principles, namely, that each country of the Empire is to be primarily responsible for its own defence. We in Australia should ask ourselves what form our defence should take. Broadly speaking, there are two alternatives. We may either regard the Navy as our first line of defence, or create an army and an air force strong enough to deal with any attack. As to the first alternative, the question arises whether the naval forces of the Empire can ensure that no hostile force shall cross the seas to dam,age or attack any part of the Empire. The primary duty of the Royal Navy is to ensure essential supplies to Great Britain in times of war, and, therefore, the question arises whether the Navy can fulfil that basic task and at the same time maintain supremacy in, say, the western Pacific. Probably the correct, answer to that question is that, at this stage, the Navy could not do so; but the Old Country is increasing its naval forces more in keeping with the strength of the navies of other countries, and it is the duty of Australia to support Britain by increasing its own naval forces and so lighten the task of the Royal Navy. The Naval Base at Singapore is practically useless for the defence of Australia or of the Indian. Ocean trade routes unless there is a fleet based there. It is the fleer, and not the base, which is the important factor. A fort defends nothing but itself and that which is contained within it. The Minister for Defence has announced the Government’s policy that the Navy is to be Australia’s first line of defence, .and therefore, it is our duty to make that Navy as strong as possible. The Navy of the Empire must be strong or it will be useless. Honorable members will recall the ease with which British troops were landed in France during the Great War, notwithstanding the existence of a strong German navy, practically at the door. It has been well said that there is nothing so inferior as an inferior naval force. In order to implement the policy of the Government, the Royal Australian Navy must be built up to its greatest possible strength.
Turning now to the second alternative, the creation of an Army and an Air Force strong enough to deal with any attack, I need not stress the need for the creation of a strong air force for the defence of Australia. Of the three arms of defence, an air force alone possesses the ability to attack an enemy at a distance, or before or during a landing; and, consequently, its- machines should have a long range of action. In that respect, Australia differs from Great Britain, where the distances to bc covered are not so great as they are here. It is most important that all the machines of the Royal Australian Air Force shall have the greatest possible range. An air force can carry out long-range reconnaissance, attack an enemy at a distance, and deal, with hostile aircraft before or during a landing, in addition to carrying out its normal function of co-operating with the naval and land forces. But if, despite the navy and the air force, an enemy force should land on our shores, Ave should obviously, in the last resort, have to depend on our land forces. The programme of -the Government provides for a land force of nt least 35,000 men, who would form the nucleus of two cavalry divisions and five infantry divisions. In addition, there are the fixed coastal defences. The task confronting a land force in the event of an enemy landing on our shores can be set out in fairly accurate terms. Its duty would be to defeat the armed forces of the invader - for, naturally, an aggression must come from overseas - before the ships that brought them to our shores could get away and return Avith reinforcements. If it failed in that task, the out- look would, indeed, be serious. It should be possible for Australia to create a force sufficiently strong to act as a powerful deterrent to any possible invader. A powerful deterrent is probably Australia’s best defence. Perhaps the existing organization is ample for that purpose; but, in addition to extra armaments and equipment, Australia certainly needs not less than 35,,000 men. More important still is the proper training of military leaders. In my opinion, the time now given to the training of the militia forces is inadequate. The trainees now devote twelve days each year to training, of which six days are spent in home training and six days in camp. Of the six days in camp, one is taken up in marching in, and another in marching out, and a third is a Sunday, so that the actual days of training are reduced to three. I look forward to the time when the Minister will be able to say that the training period
Will be at least sixteen days per annum. A heavy responsibility devolves upon our militia leaders. They must be fit to command troops in action. Therefore we must ask ourselves whether the training our militia leaders are given is sufficient to give us confidence that they could lead our sons wisely and well should it ever be necessary for them to engage in war. If the answer to that .question is in the negative, a good case- has been made out for allotting more time to the training of our forces. In this connexion, I regret the remark of the Leader of the Opposition that military gymnastics and marching here and there in attractive uniforms are not defence. His statement implies a criticism of the present system of training. I hope that Avas not the honorable member’s intention, because it would scarcely have done him justice.
– Military gymnastics do not make good soldiers.
– That may be; but if by military gymnastics the honorable member refers to a proper training in matters of defence, I am afraid that I cannot see eye to eye with him.
– The great war proved that men with no previous training were equal to those who had undergone compulsory military training.
– So many good men were butchered for Avant of proper training.
– No truer words were ever spoken than those just uttered by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker). I do not think that any one who has not had personal experience of the existing voluntary system realizes the sacrifices made by its members. From personal knowledge I can pay a tribute to these young men who give up their time in order that they might become capable of leading in time of war. Training periods of twelve days annually do not amount in the aggregate to a very long period; even spread over ten years it only equals four months, and but for the voluntary attendance of these young men at night classes and week-end bivouacs our standard of training, to-day would be very low indeed. Fortunately, the standard is improving rapidly. The Permanent Forces are only about 2,300 strong, and I was glad to hear the Minister say that they are gradually being developed. Our staff corps consists of 250 officers who are highly efficient and most enthusiastic in their work on behalf of the militia forces. I point out that these men suffered an injustice when, under a scheme of rationing in 1929-30, they were compelled to take a fortnight’s holiday without pay each quarter in addition to loss of salary through the general cuts. They were the only branch of the Service treated in this manner, and no- restitution has yet been made to them.
I should like to see the Permanent Forces increased to include two cavalry regiments and a brigade of infantry. It would then be possible to have one cavalry regiment engaged abroad in exchange for one on duty here,’ and. a similar scheme could be carried out in respect of the infantry. This arrangement would place our forces on a more efficient basis and would enable us to present a real deterrent to an invader, ft has everything to recommend it. Belgium which certainly differs from Australia geographically, but has a population about equal to our own, has a war organization of something like 21 divisions, whereas our war organization consists of only seven divisions. I am glad to see that provision is being made to increase our mechanization whilst, at the same time, as the Minister has stated, there is no intention to abolish the light horse regiments. I believe that light horse could play a very important part in the defence of this country. An essential element in the defence policy is the organization of local resources for the production of supplies needed in time of war. Speaking recently, the Minister for Defence said -
I would also invite attention to the econo-mie advantages of the works expansion programme, and the demand created for labour and materials by the factories-, when in production. Parallel with the development of Government factories, the Government is fostering commercial industries, and thereby it is systematically adding, to the country’s resources of raw material, stores and manufacturing establishments. An organization has been created whose function is. to. prepare a statement of the requirements of the Services in war time, to examine these in relation to the stocks and productive resources of the country, and to prepare: plans for mobilizing the. resources of industry in an emergency. This important subject was considered at the recent meeting of the Council of Defence, and certain objectives of pro,gress laid down by the Defence Committee were endorsed for attainment as speedily as possible.
In a very able speech, which he made the other day, the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) commented favorably on this aspect of defence policy. The steps which the Government proposes to take for the defence of this country cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be called provocative. They merely attempt to fulfil the intention of the Imperial Conference of 1923 at which each dominion undertook to be primarily responsible for its own defence. As the policy of the Opposition is*-. “ adequate defence “ I feel sure that honorable members, opposite will wholeheartedly support the Government’s policy. I shall conclude with a quotation from a speech made by the late Lord Birkenhead on one occasion to students of the Glasgow University as I believe that the sentiments he then expressed apply very aptly to our own country to-day -
It is for us, therefore, who in our history have proved ourselves a martial rather than a military people, to abstain, as has been our habit, from provocation ; but to maintain in our hands the adequate means for our own protection.
.- I associate myself with the remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr.
Curtin) in his speech on the budget. The honorable gentleman dealt very effectively with most of the claims made by “he Treasurer (Mr. Casey) and I shall not attempt to traverse similar ground. I propose to offer one or two comments in passing, and to deal fully with one subject - the fishing industry. I was interested to hear the remarks of the honorable member for Lilley (Sir Donald Cameron) this evening with regard to unemployment, when he dealt with the Treasurer’s attempt to show that, economically, Australia’s position has improved wonderfully during the last few years. I direct attention to the figures quoted by the honorable member. The census returns on unemployment discount the claim made by the Treasurer in this respect. It has been revealed that .trade union statistics on unemployment to-day are questionable, as it is doubtful whether they truly reflect the rise and fall of unemployment. As a matter of fact, these returns deal very largely with skilled trades, and whilst they show that a reduction of unemployment has taken place in those trades, they do not deal substantially with unskilled workers or those who have never had permanent employment, and, therefore, have never been members of any industrial organization.
A former Commonwealth Statistician expressed the opinion recently that the day had passed when trade union returns provided reliable data for the compilation of unemployment figures. Certainly it is true, and I do not think that the Government will attempt to deny it, that youths now on the industrial labour market who have never served an apprenticeship to an industrial trade, and who, in many instances, have never been permanently employed, are not registered by trade unions as unemployed. I suggest, therefore, that the honorable member for Lilley based his arguments on this subject on wrong premises, and that the credit he gave to this Government in this direction cannot be substantiated. No honorable member seems to deny that unemployment has decreased, but the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) pointed out this afternoon that this Government is not entitled to any credit for the decline of unemployment in Australia during recent years. The foundation of this improvement was very largely laid during the regime of the Scullin Government. In his budget speech, the Treasurer carefully ignored that fact, and, furthermore, when he referred to the reductions of interest and taxation, he ignored the fact that the total of taxes, direct and indirect, collected during the regime of this Government has been the highest ever recorded in Australia. The relief now afforded goes, in the main, to the wealthy sections of the community.
I propose now to deal with the fishing industry, which has been debated in this chamber during recent weeks. Very complimentary remarks have been made by certain honorable members concerning the Government’s policy in this matter. The proposal to purchase a new trawler has been favorably commented upon, and the appointment of Dr. Thompson has been particularly stressed. For many years past I have been interested in fisheries, and since my election to this chamber I have studied this industry more closely. In doing so, I have sought, by a perusal of the parliamentary records and through questions to Ministers, to inform my mind as to what the Government actually has done to assist the industry. I find that in 1933 the Government promised to obtain information from abroad concerning the manufacture and marketing of fish by-products, such as fish meals and fish oils, and to implement its decisions when framing its budget. As reported in Hansard of tlie 5th October, 1933, the then Minister for the Interior, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Perkins) dealt with the fishing industry and outlined the Government’s proposals to relieve unemployment through encouragement of this industry. He said -
Immediately after assuming office the Government sought to ascertain what existing Industries or new industries would, by economic expansion, or development, be likely to make a substantial permanent contribution to the solution of the unemployment problem. Tho fisheries industry attracted interest. It was found that successive governments had focussed attention on that industry by moans of press publicity, but that no practical steps had been taken to stimulate development.
The Minister then went on to explain that the Government had set aside a certain amount of money for developing the fishing industry, and continued -
The Australian Fisheries Conference held in 1920, at which the Commonwealth Government and all State Governments were represented, unanimously recommended that investigation work be undertaken by the Commonwealth Government. The steps which are now being taken are designed to implement that recommendation. The sum of £20,000 has been provided on the Estimates for 1933-34 with the express objects of -
procuring an up-to-date vessel specially designed for exploratory work in connexion with pelagic or surface swimming fish;
carrying out experiments in conjunction with private enterprise in connexion with the canning of Australian fish;
carrying out tests in conjunction with private enterprise to determine the best methods of curing and preserving fish, especially the more common varieties: and
co-operating with State authorities in the study of systems of distribution of fish in each State with a view to the improvement of existing transport and marketing arrangements.
He continued -
The prospects of developing an export trade in fish meal, fish oil, and smoked and canned fish, have also been noted. Those prospects, added to the advantages likely to accrue to the Australian producer and consumer by an expansion of the home market, are the factors underlying the policy now enunciated.
That policy was definitely laid down by a government led ‘by the present Prime Minister, and substantially the same in character as this Government. It promised to take action in the interests of the fishing industry, claiming that the industry offered an avenue for employment. The amount of £20,000 was set aside to give effect to that policy; but up to the 30th June, 1936, little more than £2,000 had been expended. I addressed the following questions to the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) on this subject in this House on the18th November last, and the replies I received were as follow: - .
– How much of the sum of £20,000 provided in the Estimates for 1933-3-1 for the purchase of a fishing trawler and exploratory work in connexion with pelagic or surface swimming fish has been expended to date?
– The total expenditure incurred in connexion with fisheries investigations to the 30th June, 1936, amounted to £2,143.
– How much has been spent upon experiments in connexion with the canning of Australian fish?
– No expenditure has yet been incurred in connexion with experiments in the canning of Australianfish. Arrangements have been made for experimental work to be carried out by the Pood Preservation and Transport Section of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, in connexion with the preservation of fish by quick freezing, canning, &c., at laboratories and experimental cold chambers now being erected in Sydney. Owing, however, to delay in getting possession of the building in which the laboratory and chambers are to be erected, it will not be possible to make a start on this work until early next year.
-What amounthas been spent upon the purchase of a trawler?
– £281. This amount covers the cost of plans and specifications. After considerable investigations, which have entailed obtaining information from Great Britain, the United States of America, and Canada, the type of fisheries vessel has now been decided upon, and the tender of the Melbourne Harbour Trust Commissioners of £17,431 for its construction was accepted during August, 1936.
A representative of the considerable fishing interests which exist in Australia to-day informed me that no action had been taken towards the building of the trawler until his organization last year made strong representations to the Commonwealth Government. It is well known that fish abound in Australian waters. The chief inspector of the Victorian Fisheries and Game Department (Mr. Lewis) a few years ago said that in Bass Strait there existed -inexhaustible supplies of the true sardine, and that the so-called salmon trout might be turned out as a canned article equal to the best tinned salmon imported into the Commonwealth, though he admitted that the very first grade did not come into Australia. Mr. Lewis has given years of study to this problem, and much attention should be given to his statement that the fish are available The money for fisheries research was voted by Parliament in good faith that the Government would carry out its part of the bargain, but apparently the Government was merely talking glibly about developing this great industry.
Feeling that the Australian community is being starved for fish, despite the fact that the Australian waters, from the far north down to Tasmania, shelter an abundance of fish, I have taken considerable trouble to obtain data as to what other countries are doing. The only reason why fish does not figure more prominently in the regimen of the Australian household is because there is no real organization for the catching and distribution of this food. At present, we are importing fish to the value of £1,500,000 a year. Australians consume only 14 lb. of fish per capita a year, New Zealand 25 lb., and Great Britain 40 lb. Instead of importing fish, we should be able to export the commodity and provide abundant supplies for the Australian consumers. At the present time about 8,400 men are actively engaged in the industry. I join with other honorable members in urging that fishermen who use motor boats to follow their calling should be relieved of the payment of petrol tax. They do not use the roads, and consequently gain no benefit from the federal aid roads grant. There are no doubt difficulties in the way of relieving them from the incidence of this tax, but these could be surmounted. The August issue of the Canadian Fisherman states -
With a $100,000 advertising and publicity campaign to increase the domestic demand for fish and seafoods- about to commence and’ a similar amount to be used, for expanding the export markets for Canadian fish ; with $450,000 already voted as a loan fund to assist needy fishermen in the Maritime Provinces to renew boats and gear: with assistance being granted to Atlantic fishermen in the matter of social improvement and the opportunity to study co-operative principles, the Canadian fishing industry is entering upon the most significant period in its history.
These things have been, advocated for many years by the trade and. the fishermen, prior to and during, the depression ora, hut it was not until tile industry was given the longsought Ministry of Fisheries that these desired objectives were obtained..
The by-products of the industry arc being used at such a rapid rate that the supply cannot be much longer maintained.
South Africa is doing even more than Canada to help the industry. It is claimed by the fishermen’s organization in Australia that the ten-year plan in South Africa, which will cost £73,000, lias been copied from the proposal submitted at the recent conference at which the subject of the development of the local fishing industry was considered. Harbours of refuge for fishermen are to be constructed on the coasts of South Africa without delay. The constructional work at all harbours will be carried out by the Public Works Department, and on this year’s Estimates appears a new vote of £2,500 for the repair and maintenance of these harbours. In Australia, however, the Commonwealth Government seems to have scrapped the whole scheme for the development of the industry, apart from the construction of a trawler, and the- appointment of Dr. Thompson to carry out scientific investigations regarding our fisheries. The officer of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research who has been in charge . of fisheries research up to the present time has done all that is humanly possible, having regard to the limited funds available, and it is regrettable that the Government has been looking coldly upon the needs of this industry, which, with reasonable assistance, could be greatly developed. If the people of Australia could be supplied with fish obtained from the waters near our coasts it would be far preferable - to establish a profitable local industry instead of importing tinned and preserved fish from overseas. The Canadian Fisherman further states -
Possibilities of developing the Australian markets so that more Nova Scotia and British Columbia fish will bc used by the residents of the antipodes will be looked into by E. P. Bower, newly appointed Trade Commissioner for the Canadian Government to Australia.
That statement shows that business men overseas are desirous of extending their markets for the fish they have to export, and they are obviously turning their attention to this country. The time has come when a serious view should be taken of the claims of the local industry.
Those who have seen the large fishing fleets which operate in Japanese waters have been most favourably impressed by them. The scene presented at night time, with a fleet at anchor, is reminiscent of an illuminated city. The following extract from a Japanese journal gives an interesting outline of the origin and development of the marine foods, canning industry of Japan: -
A phenomenal change took place in the situation with the Outbreak of the Sino-Japanese war in 189-1. The Imperial army began to use canned products then, and, as the result. a! remarkable expansion was attained in the cunning industry in this country, the total production of canned food for that year reaching some 150,000 cases. After the conclusion nf the war, a large number of canners appeared in rapid succession, and the industry suffered from acute depression due to over-production. Later, some enterprising canners established plants in the maritime provinces of Asiatic Russia.
Another favorable development was witnessed since 1904 in the canning industry in this country, when the Russo-Japanese war broke out. At that time, the military authorities adopted a policy of encouraging national self-sufficiency in foodstuffs. They afforded positive encouragement and assistance to canning enterprises, purchasing an enormous amount of canned products for army consumption. This action on the part of the military authorities contributed to an amazing degree toward development of the industry. It was from that time that flavored sardine, striped tuna, mackerel, yellow tail and salmon came to be packed in tins in this country.
I fear that the establishment of the proposed factory in Australia will not be expedited unless representatives of this industry insist on the developmental work being carried on more rapidly than at present. An enterprise known as the Seafresh Seafoods Proprietary Limited, which is now operating in Australia, is pioneering a quick freezing process for the treatment of edible fish. I t employs 25 men. Recently its managing director went abroad to study the latest processes in the industry; but I am reliably informed that its greatest difficulty is to obtain a continuous supply of fish. This aspect should receive consideration by the Government with a view to ascertaining whether it could cooperate with this enterprise in accordance with the promise made in 1933. The Government should devote serious attention to this matter, because foreign commercial interests are obtaining a disquietingly firm grip of the Australian market. Fish abound in our waters, and the industry would give employment to a considerable number of persons, provided that they receive encouragement and protection from the Government.
I am gratified that the staff which will deal with the fishing industry is being augmented. “When Dr. Thompson arrives, the control of the industry should be allotted to a definite department, instead of being made a side line of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Dr. Thompson should also be provided with a staff which will have the requisite knowledge to develop the industry along modern lines. Many suggestions to give adequate effect to this requirement can be made. First, it will be necessary to ensure that the company which is developing the quick freezing process is given every encouragement by the Government to proceed with its work. Secondly, the manufacture of by-products of fish should be studied, because they provide a lucrative return. I hope that next year the progress made in this industry will be substantial, and that the money which has been voted this year, together with the sums which have been held in trust funds for the development of the industry, will’ be expended for this purpose instead of being hoarded as they are at present.
The Government should take cognizance of what has been said, not only by myself, but also by other speakers in this chamber recently, and I trust that the development of the industry will be considerably more rapid than it has been in the past.
X-ray Plant: Purchase by Hospitals - Timber Industry : Douglas Fir Logs.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I draw attention to the antiAustralian attitude of certain hospitals, which has dealt a serious blow to an efficient Australian industry. For many years practically all of the X-ray plant which is used in the Commonwealth has been manufactured locally by several firms. ‘ During the last ten or fifteen years, they have gradually added to their machinery and reduced the price of their X-ray apparatus. Their technical methods are abreast of the most advanced in the world. Recently, a leading hospital in Sydney, another in Melbourne, and a third in Launceston adopted a most unpatriotic attitude towards this Australian enterprise. A clever German commercial traveller who recently came to Australia prevailed upon them to purchase elaborate X-ray plant from him, although he had no local agency or branch office to give service or provide spare parts for the apparatus which he sold. It was alleged by the principal doctor at the Royal Prince Henry Hospital, Sydney, that the
German article was cheaper than the Australian equivalent. On investigation this was found to be incorrect; the Australian apparatus was not only more economical to jrarcha.se, but was also superior. A further statement that the Australian manufacturers were unable to supply this kind of apparatus was also disproved. Dr. Glendinning stated that only four or five of this kind of X-ray apparatus had been manufactured annually in Australia, whereas actually 201 machines had been manufactured during the last twelve months. It has also been ascertained that nearly ali the experts in Melbourne and Sydney advised against the acquisition of the German apparatus. As a result of the great progress which has been made in the manufacture of X-ray plant in Australia, the price has been reduced by one-third during the last eight years. The attitude of the hospitals mentioned reacts severely upon an efficient Australian industry, and unless action is taken by the Trade and Customs Department, the local manufacturers may be ruined. In the factory I have examined the Australian apparatus from the engineering, not the medical angle, and I have also seen it in operation in Central Australia in connexion with the treatment of diseased aborigines. I have read a good deal about these X-ray machines and the work which -they are doing in Australia and other countries, and as bearing on my point, I quote for the information of honorable members the following extract from a letter written by Dr. W. H. Coldwell who is recognized as one of the leading radiologists in Great Britain, concerning the performance of an Australian machine used by him : -
The portable set is going strong. It is really an amazing little job, and has quite surpassed our expectations. Even now we still over-expose the films, though we keep on cutting down the time factor. Mr. Hall and I got n perfect chest film the other day at a good 4 feet in half a second, of a traumatic diaphragmatic hernia. We are more than pleased with it, and have lots of fun asking people to guess where it was made. They (ill say “ Oh, I suppose Germany or the United States of America “, and, of course, no one ever makes a correct guess.
That is a gratifying statement coming from a leading radiologist who is doing important work with an Australian machine in one of the principal hospitals in London.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the duty on. imported machines has been waived?
– Yes, as regards certain components; and if the Government does not take protective action, the Australian industry will be put out of business. This will be a serious matter, because the industry is the training ground for highly specialized scientific operatives who must play an important part in any defence scheme. I have seen these men in the cadets’ classes at the Flinders Naval Base being required to measure distances in connection with explosions under the sea, and carry out similar highly technical experiments. .1 understand that 55 of them are employed by W. Watson and Sons Limited, Victor ia-parade, Melbourne.
– I have a complete answer to the statement of the honorable member with regard to the importations which he has mentioned.
– I am informed that already 25 of these highly-paid operatives have lost a year’s regular work through the importation of three German machines, which was made possible by the decision of the Customs Department to admit certain components on a dutyfree basis. Immediately this decision became known, interested firms employed clever travellers, who effected sales of imported machines to the hospitals mentioned. It is true that the parts to which the Customs Department’s decision applied have never been made in Australia. They have always been imported from other countries, principally Germany, I understand ; but my complaint is that the Customs Department compels the Australian manufacturers to pay duty. I raised this issue last year, and urged the Minister not to reduce the duty on the3e machine parts.
– The honorable member is not stating the facts quite correctly.
– I am endeavouring to put the case fairly. The Minister will admit that the Australian operatives are highly skilled, and that the Australian machines can hold their own with imported machines; but apparently he has the idea that when an industry has been established up to a certain stage it can hold its own, and no harm will come to it from a reduction of the duty. I do not know if there are other reasons for the Minister’s action.
– The Tariff Board reclassified the whole of the items.
-Can the honorable member say if the whole of the outfits were imported?
– I understand that the German machines which have been sold to Melbourne, Sydney, and Launceston hospitals were wholly imported, and cost about £5,000.
– They paid a high duty.
– I am not so sure of that. In any case, it ismost regrettable that this important and efficient Australian industry should be injured in any way, because it has not exploited the Australian public.
– The imported machines are of a different type.
– Some are of exactly the same type as the Australian machines. I am very much concerned about the position which has arisen. The action of the authorities controlling the Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, and the Launceston Hospital, in purchasing German machines, was unpatriotic, anti-Australian and anti-British, because some of the parts used for the Australian machines are imported from Great Britain. Seeing that the money for the upkeep of these hospitals is subscribed by Australians, the hospital authorities should not have shown preference for imported machines. I do not say this because I have any feeling against the Germans, but because I am convinced that the Australian machines are infinitely superior, and do not cost any more; during the last eight years the Australian manufacturers have reduced their prices by one-third. I appeal to the Minister for Trade and Customs to have inquiries made and, before it is too late, take action to rectify this unsatisfactory position. Another reason why the Australian industry should be supported isthat the German manufacturers have ‘no branch in Australia, so that, in the event of anything going wrong with the imported machines, there would be no one to effect repairs and maintain them in an efficient condition. I ask the Minister tomake extensive inquiries, and as quickly as possible, to prevent further damage from being done to the Australian industry by the importation of additional machines. The factory that I know best employs 30 special engineers, sixteen research workers, and 35 other general craftsmen, mostly electricians. It uses principally Australian raw material, including sassafrass timber from Tasmania, which is regarded as the best for this class of work, lead and porcelain. The man, who for many years was manager of Watson and Company, was trained in the Melbourne University, and was regarded by all who are competent to judge as a genius in this particular line. Having seen the machine for which he was responsible, a London company with half English and half foreign capital, asked him to become its manager, offering double the salary he was receiving at the time, even though, according to advice which I have received from the firm, that would be regarded by most people as a princely one. He did not wish to leave the Melbourne firm, but although not wishing to lose his services it urged him not to stand in his own light. After consulting his solicitor, he sent a cable to the London company insisting on certain difficult contractual conditions before he would accept its offer, and the cable which he received in reply contained the one word, “ Agreed.” That man is now the manager of this large European company, and in all probability will have charge of the manufacture of machines which will come into competition with the product of the firm by whom he was formerly employed.
Order! The honorable member has exhausted his time.
.- It is indeed surprising to learn from the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) that hospitals in Australia are importing thousands of pounds worth of dental X-ray equipment. There should be no complaint in regard to the X-ray equipment which is made in Australia. I have had some experience in connexion with the smaller dental X-ray equipment. It is held in very high regard and has been commended by many expert authorities throughout the Commonwealth. I am aware, of course, that certain tubes and parts have to be imported. In view, however, of the seriousness of the statements made by the honorable member foi’ Melbourne Ports, and of the detrimental effect which a continuance of such conditions would have on the manufacture of this equipment in Australia, I hope that the Minister will have inquiries made as a result of the representations that have been made to him.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) having dealt very fully with the purchase by certain hospitals of German X-ray equipment, I do not propose to cover the ground in detail; but having had the opportunity to visit the Melbourne factory, in the company of that honorable member and the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), and having seen the nature of the work that i3 being done there, I feel that greater protection should be afforded than is being given at the present time. The statement of the Royal Melbourne Hospital, that equipment of this type cannot be satisfactorily made in Australia, has been completely answered. The further suggestion has been made that this firm cannot supply certain parts. My inspection of its factory, and the knowledge that I have gained from an investigation of the matter, have proved conclusively to me that it is doing work which is the equal of that done in other countries in which the industry is established. In fact, it has exported some of the material which it has made. Emphasis should be laid on the po, nt mentioned by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, that a factory of this description provides a splendid training ground for men in certain technical occupations which would be absolutely essential if the dire possibilities feared by Government members were to become realities. Unless the necessary protection is given, this firm may have to dispense with its technicians and other skilled hands. I believe that the Government realizes the necessity for the adequate protection of undertakings of this nature. At the same time, it seems to me that further action is warranted in connexion with hospitals which, while relying to a large extent upon the financial support of the people generally, import equipment which can be satisfactorily made in this country. The Minister may not need prompting in the matter. I shall, therefore, content myself at this stage by urging, as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has so ably done, the need for immediate action so that the existing state of affairs shall not continue to the detriment of a very valuable Australian industry.
.- I take this opportunity to bring to the notice of the Government a condition of affairs which exists to-day in the timber industry. Recently I asked the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) a series of questions with reference to the new duties on douglas fir logs. In one question I asked whether, under the previous tariff, it was the intention of the Government to ensure the provision of employment in the cutting of imported logs in Australia. I cannot understand the logic of the honorable gentleman. In his reply to my second question, he stated -
The imports of this log timber increased from 3.2 million super., feet in 1931-32 to 100.5 million super, feet in 1934-35. . This growing import, in the opinion of the Government, constituted a menace to the Australian hardwood saw-milling industry.
Any one who is acquainted with the Australian timber industry knows that it reached its nadir in the years 1931-32. I consider that it is unreasonable to compare those years with the years 1934-35. In South Australia, no Oregon logs were cut until January, 1934. The Minister also said - .
The existing tariff is designed to encourage the greatest amount of employment in cutting up of both log and sawn timber.
The proposed new tariff will have quite the contrary effect. It will compel the importation of sawn timber in such sizes as mattress, doorstock. &c, and eliminates completely the Australian worker handling these lines. If the timber were imported in logs, say 50 inches in diameter, they would be cut down to such sizes as 3 in. by 2 in., 4 in. by 2 in., 4-J in. by 1£ in., and 9 in. by 14 in., and thus provide considerable employment. The third question submitted to the Minister was -
Is it a fact that .when the previous tariff was imposed the timber merchants of Port Adelaide were forced to invest £34,224 in logmanufacturing plants, and that 151 employees are actually engaged in the cutting of logs?
The Minister replied -
The duties operating immediately before the 22nd May, 1936, had the effect of concentrating employment on cutting outoregon timber in a limited number of importing premises whereas previously cutting up of sawn Oregon timber was performed in a larger number of city, suburban and country saw-milling yards.
This does not apply to South Australia, where the logs are cut in the log mills to such sizes as 24 in. by 24 in., 20 in. by 20 in., &c. ; these are larger than the sizes in which sawn oregon is usually imported, namely 12 in. by 6 in., 12 in. by 10 in. and 12 in. by 12 in. It must be obvious that more sawing has to be done on log Oregon than on imported sawn Oregon. In addition the slabs from the logs have to be cut in order to obtain all the timber possible. In Port Adelaide the South Australian Log Milling Company and the Globe Timber Mills Limited, are cutting Oregon logs. The former company is composed of nine members of the timber trade and applies its activities exclusively to cutting logs for its members. This company cuts up logs to balk sizes, say, 24 in. by 24 in. and 20 in. by 20 in. and then delivers the balks together with the slabs of the logs to the mill owned by its members. These balks are then cut up to trade sizes whilst the slabs are sawn as I have already explained.
– Is the item which the honorable member is discussing included in the tariff schedule? If so, he is not entitled to anticipate debate on the schedule.
– It is included in the schedule.
– Then, I cannot allow the honorable member to proceed. [Quorum formed.]
– Dealing first with the point raised by the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) concerning duties on oregon-
– As I have already informed the honorable member for Boothby that he is not entitled to anticipate debate on an item in the tariff schedule, I cannot allow the Minister to discuss the same subject.
– I am afraid that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) has been reading mis leading articles, which have appeared in the Australasian Manufacturer, and other publications. These articles state that tariff protection on this equipment is being whittled away, and that public bodies are purchasing foreign goods which can be manufactured in Australia. The facts are that the Royal Melbourne Hospital asked that the duty on certain X-ray apparatus be waived, so that it could import equipment, which it claimed was superior to that manufactured in Australia. After very exhaustive inquiries from those interested, including the firm mentioned by the honorable member, I ruled against its free importation and the hospital had to pay the duty. The Government could not do more than that. Naturally the Government adopts a generous attitude towards hospitals and I could give a very extensive list of the free admissions permitted in respect of goods not manufactured in Australia, even when a duty has been imposed. The honorable member is wrong in saying that in some way the Government is favouring the importers. The parts admitted free to hospitals under by-law are also admitted free to manufacturers, provided they are of United Kingdom origin or cannot be commercially manufactured in that country. Here arc the facts -
The committee of the Royal Melbourne Hospital made an application to the Minister on the19th December, 1935, for the admission under Tariff Item 417(b) of a complete X-ray equipment of German origin.
The equipment consisted of one 350 K.V., 15 M.A. “Sanitas” X-ray generator, Villard circuit, double tube operation. The value in Australian currency of the complete equipment free of customs duty was given at £5,000.
Departmental inquiries indicated that with the exception of condensers, measuring instruments and valves, the whole of the equipment could have been commercially made in Australia. The Minister refused the application for by-law concession, excepting in respect of those parts which inquiry had shown could not be commercially manufactured in the Commonwealth. By-law concession under Tariff Item 417(b) was allowed in respect of these parts, the value of which is indicated hereunder: -
Rectifying valves . (value not shown ) .
The committee of the Royal Melbourne Hospital after receiving advice of the Minister’s decision made further representations on the subject, but this decision was not varied by the Minister excepting in respect of three lead-glass windows having a total value of £A55. In the case of these three windows.
I think it is rather unfair of this firm to write to honorable members as it has done; it has not written to me. It is an efficient firm, which makes good equipment, but there is a difference of opinion as to whether its equipment is in some respects as modern as that which can be obtained overseas. The firm has received various orders that would otherwise have gone overseas had not the department, after inquiry, refused to admit overseas equipment under by-law. The Government, however, is not prepared to say that persons or institutions desiring to purchase equipment from, overseas shall not do so, if they are prepared to pay the duty on it.
– Is there a duty on the parts that must be imported by this firm?
– Not if they are manufactured in the United Kingdom or cannot be commercially manufactured in that country. The Tariff Board inquired into this matter, and reduced or abolished many of the duties imposed in a rather haphazard fashion by the Scullin Government on parts of this kind. The firm may now import them free if they are products of the United Kingdom, or at reduced rates if the products of countries other than the United Kingdom, and so benefit its business. This incident shows how far some journals, whose zeal outruns their judgment, are prepared to go. I am sorry the company claims that it has not had a fair deal. As a matter of fact, it has been most generously treated.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.5 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated-: -
on asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : -
Recent information is available in the fourth annual report of the Children’s Health Bureau of the Victorian Branch of the Returned Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Imperial League of Australia. The percentage of children reported as needing medical or dental treatment was as follows: -
y asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice - 1.What was the number of cases of spondylitis of the osteoarthritic kind diagnosed by the Repatriation Department for the year ended the 30th June, 1936?
– No separate record is kept of the number of cases of spondylitis discovered or pensioned.
d asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
Will he call for a full and complete report on the whole of the experiments carried out at the Heatherton Sanatorium, Victoria, with “Mirdol” for the period January, 1934, to July, 1935?
– Arrangements will be made to obtain any reports which the State and sanatorium authorities may be prepared to make available.
Exchange on Interest Payments.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What has been the cost to Australia of exchange on government interest payments overseas for the year 1935-36?
– The information is being obtained, and will be furnished as soon as possible.
n asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Mr.White. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1, 2, 3. and 4, By mutual arrangement certain books on the prohibited list were handed over by the Perth Literary Institute to the Customs Department in Perth. The edition of the book prohibited is of American origin, has indecent illustrations and is a plagiarism of the Adlington translation.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
e asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
The amount of £15,659 expended to the 30th June, 1936, will be included on the supplementary Estimates for 1935-36, which are to be submitted to Parliament at a later date. The unexpended balance of £4,341 is provided for in 1936-37 in Division 6, Additions New Works. Item 6, Governor-General’s Establishment non-recurring works is part of £6,530 included in the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Act 1936-37 which was passed by Parliament recently.
y. - On the 29th September, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) asked the following questions, upon notice : -
I am now in a position to supply the following information: -
s. - On the 24th September the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) asked the following questions, upon notice -
New South Wales Minister concerned or a responsible government official of the State, to the effect of the statement reported in paragraph 1.; if so, when and by whom was such information given, and what authority had he, or they, for supplying it?
I am now in a position to supply the following information : -
The Director, Division of Veterinary Hygiene, Commonwealth Health Department; Chief Veterinary Surgeon, New South Wales Department of Agriculture; Chief Inspector of Stock, Queensland Department of Agriculture. The functions of the commission, as laid down in the original agreement, are “ to exercise general direction and supervision over the operations for the eradication of tick in New South Wales and, later, in Queensland, on the lines laid down in the report (of a provisional committee) and in particular to have authority to determine the following matters : -
s asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Sir Archdale Parkhill (through Mr. White). - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
son asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister in charge of Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are at follows: -
e. - On the 29th September, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) asked the following question, without notice: -
In view of the adverse comments which have appeared in the press respecting the condition of Mascot aerodrome, does the Government propose to incur expenditure in the near future to improve it?
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that funds have been provided in the current year’s Estimates to enable improvement works of considerable magnitude being effected at Mascot aerodrome. The more important of these works will be the construction of two additional specially surfaced runways and the erection of an administrative and control airport building. A complete system of airport lighting for night flying purposes is also being installed.
Hob art Fortifications.
– On the 29th September, the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) asked the following question, without notice: -
In view of the efforts being made for the encouragement of voluntary training for home defence in Australia, will the Minister representing the Minister for Defence take immediate steps to bring the fortifications of Hobart up to a state of repair which would permit ofnight firing practice being carried out by the Hobart Battery?
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that night firing from Fort Nelson has not been practised owing to the inconvenience which would be caused to local inhabitants living in front of the battery, who, in the interests of safety, must be evacuated whenever firing takes place. In the event of a threatened emergency, when the convenience of local inhabitants would be of secondary importance, sufficient training in night firing could be given in one week to bring the garrison up to the necessary standard of efficiency. The present state of repair of Port Nelson is quite satisfactory, and has nothing whatever to do with the omission of night firing practices.
s. - On the 24th September, the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Drakeford) asked the following questions, upon notice : -
I am now in a position to furnish the following replies: -
Commonwealth Railways -
Clerks, Draftsmen stationmasters roadmasters, foremen superintendents - 175 employees. 38-48 hours.
Locomotive drivers, firemen, cleaners, permanent-way employees, guards, porters and labourers other than tradesmen’s labourers - 1,012 employees. 48 hours.
Repatriation Commission -
Cooking Staff household workers night foremen, night telephonists- 169 employees, 48 hours.
Nursing staff - 175 employees, 48-52 hours (48 night duty, 52 day duty).
Commerce Department -
Lightkeepers - 151 employees, up to 74 hours.
Steamer crews - 87 employees, 44-63 hours (44 in port, 56-63 at sea).
Dried fruit inspectors - 85 employees, up to 48 hours.
Defence Department -
Watchmen - 23 employees, 52 hours. Signal staffs - 6 employees, 543/4 hours.
Department of the Interior -
Watchmen - 11 employees, 48 hours.
Federal Capital Territory Police - 13 employees, 48 hours.
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research -
Seasonal workers at research stations and farms - 50 employees, up to 48 hours.
Total number of employees, 1,957.
e asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he furnish a complete list of all the royal commissions and/or committees of inquiry appointed by his Government since the 6th January, 1932, and the total cost of each commission or committee of inquiry, stating the cost of the Royal Commission on Banking and Monetary Reform to date, and the estimate of the cost of completing its work?
– The information is being obtained, and will be made available at an early date.
Japanese Sampans in Northern Waters.
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 September 1936, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1936/19360930_reps_14_151/>.