14th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. 0. J. Bell) took the. chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - Honorable members will have noticed, with regret, that the Honorable William Webster, a former member of this House, passed away at Parramatta, New South Wales, on the 8*h October.
Born at Liverpool, England, Mr. Webster arrived in Australia in 1879, and commenced his parliamentary career in July, 1961( when he was elected to represent the division of Moree in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales. At the general elections of 1903 he wm elected to this House as member for Gwydir, and retained that seat until the general elections of 1919.
The deceased gentleman was a member of the Royal Commission on Postal Services, which conducted its investigations during the years 1908 to 1910. In October, 1915, he was appointed PostmasterGeneral in the Hughes Ministry, and he’d that portfolio until February, 1920. He will be remembered for his capable services to Australia, and for his sterling personal qualities. I move -
That this House expresses its profound regret at the death of the Honorable William Webster, a former member of the New South Wales and Commonwealth Parliaments, and Commonwealth Minister of State, places on record its appreciation of his distinguished public service, and tenders to his widow and family its deep sympathyin their bereavement.
– I second the motion. The late Mr.Webster was known to some members of the present Parliament, and was widely known to the majority of those who were conversant with public affairs from the early years of the Australian federation down to and subsequent to the Great War. I had not the privilege of personal acquaintance with him, but those of my colleagues who were associated with him in the Commonwealth Parliament assure me thatin addition to being a most genial personality he possessed very great’ ability, and an extremely forceful character. This last attribute led to his making in this House, on one occasion, a very lengthy speech which, as some honorable members may remember, was regarded at the time as a record test of endurance. I mention that merely in order to indicate the strength and determination of his character; he believed that what had to be done should be done to the fullest extent. It is with deep regret that I join with the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) in expressing for the widow and family of the late honorable gentleman my sincere sympathy in their bereavement.
– I join with the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin.) in expressing my very deep and sincere regret at the death of my old friend and colleague, William Webster. I knew him well he was my friend, faithful and just to me. For very many years I was associated with him in the. Labour movement before he entered Parliament, and subsequently in this Parliament as a fellow member and a colleague in several administrations. As the Leader of the Opposition has said, ho had a strong and an arresting personality. He was a bonny fighter, a great debater, a loyal party man, and his partisanship never submerged or obscured his citizenship. He fought the battle of the people as he saw it, with right good will. For many years he figured most prominently in the public life of this country, and the news of his passing comes to me, as I am sure it comes to all of those who were privileged to know him, as a great shock. I extend to his widow and family my sincerest sympathy, and should like to assure them that, although he has gone, his life’s work remains to live after him.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) agreed to -
That Mr. Speaker be requested to transmit to the widow of the late Mr. Webster the foregoing resolution, together with a copy of the speeches delivered thereon.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 10.30 a.m. to-morrow.
Proposed Trans-Tasman Flight
– In view of the probability of Miss Jean Batten’s natural pride preventing her from seeking Government assistance in respect of her proposed flight to New Zealand, and of the obligation which rests upon the Commonwealth Government to take every precaution open to it to ensure her safety, will the Minister for Defence have her provided with an escort?
– Anticipating that I would be questioned on this matter, I obtained information upon it.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear!
– But I did not expect that the honorable mem- ber for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) would be the questioner.
In amplification of my announcement that the Government would afford every assistance to Miss Jean Batten in her proposed Tasman flight, I am now in a position to say that the Civil Aviation Board is seeking the co-operation of the Commonwealth meteorological authorities in assuring that Miss Batten is furnished with the fullest information available to aid her in choosing the date of her departure and in the selection of the most favorable course to fly in the conditions either prevailing or anticipated for the Tasman Sea.
I understand that the servicing of Miss Batten’s machine in readiness for the flight is being attended to by a commercial aviation company at Mascot. The Civil Aviation Board’s technical staff at Mascot, however, has been instructed to do anything possible, by way of advice or assistance, to check the condition of Miss Batten’s aeroplane, engine and instruments. The board is also in touch with the Commonwealth “ Navigation Department, on the question of arranging for the maintenance of close watches for Miss Batten’s aeroplane by any merchant ships which may be expected to be in the vicinity of the route at the time of her crossing.
The question of affording the assistance of ships of the Royal Australian Navy has been carefully investigated, but no assistance of value could be provided from naval sources. The speed of Miss Batten’s aircraft is so great that it would be out of sight and below the horizon, as seen from a ship, in a few minutes, so that any untoward event would not be known by a ship unless it were in the immediate vicinity, and, further, as the aircraft is not carrying wireless apparatus, it would not be possible to call a ship up.
As I have previously intimated, the Government is desirous of affording all possible facilities to ensure the successful completion of Miss Batten’s flight.
– Will the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties state how many applications have been made since the inauguration of the Go vernment’s trade diversion policy, for licences for the importation of goods from the United States of America ; with respect to what goods, and by whom, were such applications made; and how many of them have been successful?
– I shall be pleased to obtain the information for the honorable member.
-I lay on the table-
Tariff Board - Report and Recommendation - Pearl Shell - Payment of Bounty. and move -
That the paper be printed.
The question referred to the Tariff Board was that of the necessity for granting a bounty on pearl shell gathered by fishing vessels registered in Australia and operated from Australian ports. At the board’s inquiry, Western Australian pearlers requested a bounty, but the Queensland pearlers were definitely opposed to a bounty and requested a duty concession on goods used in the industry. The board reported against the payment of a bounty, and recommended that provision be made in the tariff for an item to cover -
In recommending duty concessionsin preference to a bounty, the board made the following comment: -
The concession of admission of all requirements of the pearling industry under By-law while representing less than half the requested bounty, would be a more satisfactory method of providing assistance for the reasons that -
While a bounty would provide a temporary assistance to meet a fall in the price of shell, the duty concession would permanently reduce costs and equip the industry to meet the competition from other countries,
The saving of costs by the remission of duty represents more to the industry than the payment of a similar sum in a bounty after the costs have been incurred;
The duty concessions would be of greatest advantage to pearlers who are prepared to equip their vessels efficiently, whereas the bounty as already pointed out, would be payable in respect of the inefficiently as well as the efficiently equipped vessel.
Since the board submitted its report, the prices received for pearl shell have improved materially, and the position of the industry was considered to be such that immediate action by the Government to afford relief was not essential. I have since made personal investigations at Thursday Island and have received deputations on the matter, and as the result of these inquiries opportunity will be taken as early as practicable to include in the tariff an item along the lines recommended by the Tariff Board. Primage on material for use in the pearling industry was removed on the 18th September, 1936.
– Can the Minister for Defence say whether 100,000 rounds of Mark VII. ammunition was condemned at the Anzac Rifle Range, Liverpool, yesterday, and, if so, will he investigate this important matter?
– I shall make inquiries regarding it, and will make a statement about it later.
– Has all the correspondence that took place between the Government and the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) in regard to the International Labour Conference last year, been tabled in the Parliamentary Library? If not, will the Prime Minister examine the file and ascertain whether the whole of the correspondence can he made available to honorable members?
– I shall look into the matter.
– Has the Prime Minister yet received reports from Sir Robert Knox and Mr. Trainer, the employers’ and workers’ delegates respectively to the recent International Labour Conference at Geneva?
– The report by Sir Robert Knox, has, I believe, been received. I shall ascertain whether a report has yet been submitted by Mr. Trainer.
– As a contingent of returned soldiers will be sent to London next year to attend the coronation festivilives, will the Minister for Defence give an invitation to all holders of the Victoria Cross, and their wives, to accompany the contingent?
– So far the arrangements in regard to this matter are merely tentative, but I shall be glad to see that the suggestion of the honorable member is considered.
– Will all King’s medallists and their wives, together with their children under the age of fourteen years, be granted a free trip to see the coronation ?
– The question is facetious, and should not be answered.
– In view of the beneficial effect which an ocean voyage would have on the health of children who are suffering from malnutrition, will the Government, in arranging delegations to Great Britain, see that the claims of unemployed families are not overlooked?
– The intentions of the Government in regard to the coronation ceremonies, and the visit of any delegation, will be made known to the House from time to time.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, state whether there is any truth in the rumour which I have heard that, under the arrangements made regarding the England-Australia air service, it will be possible for Western Australian air mails to be carried to Sydney, instead of going direct to Perth from Darwin?
– I refer the honorable member to the debate on the adjournment of the House last night, when this matter was fully discussed.
– Has the Prime Minister received advice from any of the State governments on the subject of migration, arising out of the discussion of that subject which took place at the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers at Adelaide last August, and, if so, will he make the nature of that advice known to the House as soon as possible ?
– Advice has been received from at least one of the States. I shall make inquiries, and let the honorable member know the result.
– Has the Minister for the Interior had any correspondence with the States with a view to arriving at a uniform policy with regard to the protection of aborigines in the various States, as well as in Commonwealth territory ?
– That matter was discussed at Adelaide with representatives of the States in August last, and certain decisions were reached, one of which was that the Chief Protectors of Aborigines in the various States should arrange to meet at stated times in order that united action might be taken.
– Was it disclosed during the discussion at the Premiers Conference that any State government, like the Commonwealth Government, had used aboriginal prisoners as labourers on government works, whilst unemployed whites were looking for a job?
– That was not disclosed.
The following papers were presented : -
Pulmonary Tuberculosis - Report by the Medical Superintendent of Heatherton Sanatorium in respect of treatment by Mutton Bird Oil Emulsion.
Wool Tax Assessment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1936, No.139.
– Will the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties state whether the changed monetary policy of France has interferedwiththe negotiations with that or any other European country for a trade agreement ?
– No ; it would be calculated to assist the making of a trade treaty between any two countries.
– I have received from Mr. S. A. Glassey a letter thanking the House for its resolution of sympathy.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring ina bill for an act toalter the Constitution with respect to marketing.
Bill brought up by Mr. Menzies, and read a first time.
.- by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
A sheet, on which is printed sections 51 and 92 of the Constitution, and the alteration of the Constitution proposed by this hill, a proposed new section 92a, has been circulated because it is difficult for the members to understand the full significance of the proposal without having a ready reference to sections 51 and 92.
Before dealing with the precise terms of the proposed alteration and its significance, I think it is desirable that I should say something of the circumstances that led up to its introduction, because, as I think can be demonstratedvery readily, the proposal proceeds, not from some general theory of the Constitution, but from a particular emergency which has arisen in relation to the primary industries of Australia. Prior to the recent decision of the Privy Council in the wellknown case of James v. Commonwealth. legislation had from time to time been passed by the Commonwealth Parliament on the assumption that section 92, providing for interstate freetrade, did not bind the Commonwealth. Broadly, the scheme of legislation adopted was, as honorable members know, that an arrangement having been entered into between
States for the control of the marketing of some commodity, State Parliaments passed legislation in order to effectuate that control and the Commonwealth Parliament then passed supplementary legislation designed to give full validity to the scheme which the States were setting up. Section 92 of the Constitution admittedly was binding on the State Parliaments - it still remains in full force and effect as binding on the State Parliaments - and its effect was that, although a State Parliament might pass a law at its own discretion with regard, to the intra-state control of some commodity, it could not deal with interstate transactions in that commodity without interfering with the freedom of interstate trade.
In 1920, the High Court in the McArthur case offered the view that section 92 was not binding on the Commonwealth Parliament, and on the strength of that view, which was adhered to in subsequent decisions of the High Court, the doctrine arose that the Commonwealth Parliament, while it had no power to deal with internal trade in the various States, could give validity to State schemes by itself controlling interstate trade in a particular commodity. Thus, for example, the Commonwealth Parliament came into the field for the first time in connexion with dried fruits. Dried fruits control in Australia was to be found originally in the legislation of South Australia and Victoria and subsequently New South Wales, but after the State schemes had operated for some years, it was discovered that the State legislation might be evaded by engaging in interstate trade in dried fruits. It was at first thought that a State Parliament could overcome that difficulty by exercising the power of compulsorily acquiring the dried fruits of any grower who did not abide by the restrictions imposed by State law. Such power of compulsory acquisition was to be found in the dried fruits legislation of the various States. Tt was used against a gentleman now well.known in litigious circles, Mr. James. Me challenged it in a case which subsequently went to the Privy Council as James v. Cowan, and it was ultimately decided by the Privy Council, overriding n doctrine which had been held by the High Court, that the expropriation was invalid if, in fact, it interfered with the right of James to carry on interstate business in dried fruits. In that way the attempt to give effect to this scheme of compulsory acquisition fell to the ground, lt waa because of that, as Queensland members will remember, that the High Court decided in what came to be known as the Peanut case that certain local schemes in Queensland were similarly invalid. In that state of affairs the whole validity, the whole practicability, of these marketing schemes came to depend upon the view that the Commonwealth was not bound by section 92, and that the Commonwealth, therefore, could control interstate trade by means of a licensing system. It was on that theory, approved by the High Court, that the Commonwealth legislation with regard to dairy products, dried fruits, and wheat was passed. The result of the recent decision of the Privy Council was undoubtedly to invalidate every one of those Commonwealth laws. The position to-day is that dairy products control pursuant to that legislative scheme has come to an end, as has also dried fruits control. Neither is there any validity in the wheat marketing scheme which was, in its Commonwealth part, enacted by this Parliament last year. That decision creates a position which vitally affects the interests, not only of the primary producers of Australia, but also of the people as a whole who are vitally interested in the solvency and success of the primary industries. The Government has, therefore, to consider very carefully what steps should be taken in order to rectify the position.
– Steps to avoid the difficulty would have been better.
– I do not understand that remark. I must address myself within the limits of my own knowledge, to a difficulty which we must make an attempt to overcome. There are several ways in which the problem of giving assistance to primary producers may be approached. It is the policy of every party in this House to give a homeconsumption price to Australian farmers, and it is well that we should remember this. There have been arguments in this
Parliament since I have been a member regarding the machinery by which this should be done, but there has been common agreement as to the desirability of giving what is, in substance, a homeconsumption price to the men who grow our primary products. It is now for us to consider how this is to be done.
In the first place, we may attempt to give to the farmers the financial result of a home-consumption price by imposing an excise duty on the commodities in question, and distributing the proceeds by way of bounty. That, in effect, was what was done by means of the flour tax, and such a proceeding is, in my opinion, within the legislative competence of the Commonwealth Parliament. There is no need to gloss over the fact that, if the Commonwealth Parliament chooses to assist the primary producers in this way, it can do so, but honorable members will observe at once that such a scheme would be open to grave criticism on two counts. It is true that, by means of such a scheme, it would be possible to give to the farmer the financial result of a homeconsumption price, but i’t would be impossible to give him organized marketing. To do so would involve the control and organizing of the whole business of marketing, and that, in turn, involves power to regulate and control, not merely power to collect and distribute moneys. It is necessary that we should distinguish between organized marketing, and the payment of a sum of money out of the proceeds of a tax.
The second count upon which a scheme based on the levying of excise is open to criticism is that it would fail to provide that stability in primary industries which is necessary to their continued prosperity and proper development. The secondary industries have been established, and are developing, in this country, because, by means of the tariff policy, with its minor or major fluctuations, we have been able to give them stability. We have thus been able to allow for the development of businesses, and the encouragement of secondary enterprises, by a reasonably stable policy. But if the primary industries are to be made dependent upon the occasional enactment by Parliament of excise duties, and the occasional payment by Parliament of bounties, it is difficult to say how there can be any stability in primary industry. If there is to be enterprise, if we are to encourage long-term planning, it is as reasonable to give this measure of security to the man on the land, as it is to give it to the manufacturer. That is the great and compelling reason which has actuated those who, in the past, have stood for the inauguration of organized marketing schemes.
I have referred to those alternatives because it is important that they should be remembered side by side with my frank admission that, constitutionally, there is nothing to prevent this Parliament, if it thinks fit, from imposing excise duties and distributing bounties for the assistance of primary industries.
There is still another solution of the problem, a way which is open to the State Parliaments, and I refer to it because there lias been a very marked disposition to mis-state the nature of the emergency that has arisen, and a marked disposition, in some quarters, to say that the Privy Council has clipped the wings of the Commonwealth. As a matter of fact, what it has done is to clip the wings of the Commonwealth and the States, to prevent them from acting together as they have hitherto been acting. However, a close perusal of the reasons for the judgment of the Privy Council suggests the possibility that the State Parliaments may be able to deal with this matter by fixing the price at which goods can be sold, and by making the price apply to goods sold both intra-state and interstate. I make this reference because, in the course of their judgment, their lordships say that they do not ‘ understand themselves to overrule any judgment of the High Court, with the possible exception of the judgment in the McArthur case, and if that judgment be overruled the proposition I am suggesting may be one of substance. However. I do not think that that would he the best way in which to deal with the problem before us. I think that honorable members will agree that this is not a problem that can be appropriately dealt with in six water-tight compartments, as it were. It is surely a problem in which some co-ordinating action by the Commonwealth is essential if we are to put into practice a nation-wide scheme.
– Would it not be better to have one water-tight compartment?
– I am sure the honorable member will believe me when I say that the suggestion has not been entirely overlooked.
The third possibility is to. take steps to amend the Commonwealth Constitution in order that we may once more! - but this time effectively and validly - do what we were doing up to the time that the Privy Council spoke. Honorable members should have two things in mind when they approach the consideration of this question. First they must determine what is desirable by way of alteration of the Constitution. That I imagine is what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) had in mind when he suggested by interjection that we might take the whole trade and commerce power and so deal with the whole of this problem ourselves without any reference whatever to State parliaments. According to one’s point of view, that may or may not be desirable, but the moment it is said that it may be desirable, one is brought up against the second consideration - the consideration not only of what is desirable, but also of what is possible. The primary producers of Australia would have little for which to thank us if, after a rhetorical flourish, we submitted to the people a proposal which could not be carried. We might be able to stand on a thousand platforms and say, “ This is desirable “. But after the referendum has been taken, what the primary producer will be interested in, is : “ What is my position ? Can I have my marketing scheme “ ? We, therefore, have to address our minds to the practicable aspect of the problem which is: “ What kind of amendment can be devised which will bo practicable and give validity to these marketing schemes and at the same time will have a reasonable prospect of securing the majorities required under section 128 of the Constitution” ? Having considered that aspect of the matter, the Government directed its mind to the formulation of a proposed alteration which would in substance recapture the lost ground and give validity to the kind of scheme of which this Parliament on at least three occasions has approved -in relation to the primary commodities that I have mentioned. It has devised an alteration which honorable members now have before them in the form of a proposed new sub-section 92a of the Constitution.
The broad effect of the proposal can, perhaps, be paraphrased in this way: The powers which the Commonwealth Parliament now has to make laws in respect of interstate trade and commerce, taxation, bounties and other matters of that kind for the purpose of giving effect to marketing schemes will not in any way be extended, as such, but will merely be freed from the restriction placed on them by section 92. The result will be that when the Commonwealth Parliament, under its existing powers, passes a law designed to supplement marketing schemes contained in State legislation, it will be no answer to the validity of that law bo say that h impinges on section 92. It will be seen by honorable members that the Government proposes to submit an alteration of a limited kind and one to which I should imagine it would be extremely difficult for any State government or State parliament to object. I refer to that because every honorable member knows that there isla constant debate proceeding in Australia between the two parties, the Commonwealth and the States, each claiming to be incensed about an infringement of rights. In submitting this proposal we simply ask the people of Australia to restore to the Commonwealth Parliament, in relation to marketing, the power that this legislature and the State parliaments both assumed it had when it passed the legislation which now controls the marketing of at least three great primary industries. .
I direct attention to one or two particular features of the proposed now section, because it is proper that honorable members should fully appreciate the reasons that have actuated the use of particular words that have here been used. The opening phrase of the section is -
The provisions of the last preceding section shall not apply …
The effect of that is to prevent section 98 from having any operation on a law which is otherwise validly made within the meaning of section 51 or the proposed new sub-section. In other words the provisions of section 92 are not to apply to Commonwealth laws on marketing.
The word “ marketing “ is one which has achieved a very wide currency in Australia, and the political and economic world. It is not a precise term of art. It would undoubtedly be held to cover buying and selling of goods and commodities and transactions incidental thereto. But it has been, used in preference to the more common term in the Constitution - “ trade and commerce,” for a special reason. Section 51 of the Constitution enumerates the 39 powers given to the Parliament of the Commonwealth. The first of these is to legislate in respect of trade and commerce with other countries and among the States. Other powers are set out such as taxation, bounties on production and so forth, all of which clearly might be used in relation to what we call a marketing scheme. We are always inclined to say that the particular machinery that we are using at one time will always be the machinery. That may be so, but it may happen that in ten or fifteen years, during the currency of this amendment, it will be found that the best means of controlling marketing is to use the power of taxation, or bounties, or the power of trade and commerce in conjunction with the other two. If the term “ trade and commerce “ had been used in this section, instead of the term “ marketing “, it may have been argued, as it was argued before the Privy Council, that the only reference was to laws made under section 51, paragraph .1. What I have been endeavouring to achieve is definite security that marketing laws made under section 51 shall be exempted from the provisions of section 92. That is why this term, which is understood in effect, although it is not a term of law, has been used in the proposed new section.
– Does the honorablemember suggest that it may embrace the whole of the powers conferred upon the Commonwealth by section 51 ?
– There are some powers given by section 51 which would not appear to touch upon a marketing scheme. It is very difficult in advance to take a series of categories of power and say that one may conceivably touch marketing and another may not. It is therefore the safest and most comprehensive plan to use the term “ marketing “ and to say, in effect, that whatever power the Commonwealth has in respect of marketing shall not be limited by section 92.
– Does the honorable member contemplate inserting in the Constitution a definition of the -term “ marketing” or does he propose merely to let the High Court determine its meaning?
– Whatever definition we set up ourselves in relation to any legislation, it is for the High Court to interpret it.
– That leaves it nebulous.
– That is true of every word used in the Constitution. Except at its own risk, this Parliament has no power to interpret by its own legislation words used in the Constitution.
– That risk could be taken.
– To endeavour to set out an exhaustive definition of a word of this kind used in the Constitution would be to invite more troubles than we solve, because it would be impossible to provide a definition which would anticipate all future developments. It i3 very important to remember that the Constitution, which is the framework of Government, speaks ‘ in language which advisedly is couched in somewhat large terms. It has never been attempted in the Commonwealth Constitution, or, indeed, in any other constitution, to give a precise definition of the terms used, because it is realized - and this problem far exceeds any legal difficulty - that a growing community must, in the language of its constitution, have a certain degree of flexibility. A community which is growing must make some provision for its growth in the organic law which controls it.
– Does the AttorneyGeneral think that the proposed new section is keeping pace with the growth of this country?
– It is keeping pace with the growth of thi3 particular problem, and as I have already indicated, we are dealing with the problem that lies to our hands. The honorable member for West .Sydney (Mr. Beasley) may say that this, is not a large growth, but it is an important growth, though perhaps not -sufficiently ambitious to meet his ideas.
Honorable members will have observed that in the proposed alteration there is no reference to “ primary products.” As they may recall from reading the newspapers that certain amendments tentatively submitted to the conference in Adelaide contained those words, it is proper that I should explain why the phrase does not find a place in the proposed new section. The phrase “ primary products “ I found, thinking about it really hard for the first time, to be one of most tremendous ambiguity. It is one which we are in the habit of using loosely without knowing what it really means. The truth of the matter is that the editor of the New Oxford Dictionary has never heard of it. It is taken probably from what golfers call a local rule.
– Coal might be a primary product and butter not one.
– Those are two instances I was about to give. Butter is a manufactured commodity and it would be very difficult to include it in any off-hand definition of primary products. Similarly flour, which has een controlled and taxed by this Parliament, is just as much a manufactured commodity as is a pair of boots. In these circumstances if we simply used the phrase “ primary products “ we should be omitting from the power commodities which every one wished to be controlled in some way. If, on the other hand, we define the term “ primary products “ by reference to its earmarks, we should bc faced with the difficulties I have mentioned. He would be a wise man who could provide a definition that would cover everything we wished to cover. The only other way of dealing with it would be to define by enumeration and say that for this purpose “primary products “ means a series of commodities named, in which case the desirability of a constitutional power would -become an argument before the people in certain special cases and the prospect of securing much needed relief for the people of Australia v.-cu’d disappear.
– -If this alteration is carried would the Commonwealth have power to establish a compulsory wheat pool?
– Of its own motion, no. If the proposal is carried the Commonwealth Parliament will still be empowered to deal with interstate trade but it will not have power to deal with intrastate transactions in the commodities concerned. Therefore, if any arrangement were set up, whether in the form of a pooling or a marketing scheme, it would need to be by means of a sub-structure of State legislation and what perhaps might be termed a coping stone of Commonwealth legislation.
– Would it not be more in the nature of mortar or cement?
– I am obliged to the honorable member for his interjection. I used that expression metaphorically at the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers in Adelaide and thought that the expression was a good one. The bricks in this wall of control are the State laws and the cement is the Commonwealth law. The Privy Council has decided that the Commonwealth has no power to provide the cement and the wall has therefore become unsound. The object of this legislation is to enable the Commonwealth to replace the cement and rebuild the wall. I emphasize the point that if the Commonwealth acts under this power it will be doing no more and no less than what it has already don? with the consent of the various States during the years prior to the decision of the Privy Council in the James case.
Honorable members will see that in the proposed new section the word “ laws with respect to marketing made by the Parliament “ are used. I pause merely to state what is clear to those who know the Constitution - that the Parliament is the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
The concluding phrase reads : “ in the exercise of any powers vested in the Parliament by this Constitution.” Those words are not directly necessary as a matter of law because the effect of this provision would be the same if the proposed alteration ended with the words “ made by the Parliament “. But the additional words have been used because there is nothing upon which it is more possible to have the gravest misconception than a proposed constitution alteration over which every one interested becomes a completely inexpert expert. If the concluding phrase were not used it would inevitably be suggested by someone that we were setting up a new marketing, power under the control of the Commonwealth Parlia-ment, and that that meant that some power was being taken away from State parliaments and transferred- to the Parliament of the Commonwealth. Therefore, the last phrase has been inserted, I admit quite plainly, to make assurance doubly sure - to make it perfectly clear that when this alteration is accepted a marketing law made “by the Commonwealth will need to be made under one or other of its now existing powers, and that the purpose of the new section is simply to prevent the law so made from being invalidated by the operation of section 92.
– If the people decided in favour of the Commonwealth’s proposal, would the marketing laws of the Commonwealth automatically become valid?
– In my opinion, they would. The laws which now relate to dried fruits, dairy products, and wheat products, are still on the statute-book. They have not been repealed ; they have simply been rendered invalid by the decision of the Privy Council, and so long as the Constitution remains unaltered, will continue to be invalid; but, offering an immediate answer to the interjection of the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), it is my own view that, if the Constitution is amended, and so becomes a proper foundation for a valid law of exactly the same kind as that now on the statute-book, it will not be necessary to re-enact the marketing legislation, because the laws are already on the statute-book, and their validity will be revived.
– Surely Parliament cannot pass an invalid law on the expectation that, at some time, the requisite constitutional change will be made to give it validity i
– I do not know why it should not, although I could hardly conceive of such an instance.
– If Parliament were noi competent to pass a law, surely it could not later be validated by a constitution alteration.
– Any question of validity that arises in relation to any law arises at the time it is being decided upon by the courts. If a law is being enforced at the end of 1937 and the defence put up is that it is invalid on the ground that the Common wealth Parliament had no power to pass it, the answer depends upon whether at the time of enforcement, the law in question is supported by the necessary constitutional power. The point which I desire to emphasize is that this law has not been repealed. When any court decides that a law is invalid, it does not thereby repeal it. The law remains on the statute-book, and lives, so to speak, in a state of suspended animation.
– Then Parliament would be competent to pass a law for the introduction of a 40-hour week in anticipation of the people giving that law validity at a referendum?
– If we were sufficiently fatuous to do so, the answer to the interjection of the Leader of the Opposition is in the affirmative. If we were sufficiently without bona fide occupation as to want to occupy our time by passing laws to-day on the off-chance that some day we might be given the constitutional power to make them valid, it would be an amusing spectacle.
-It would be no more amusing than the present spectacle.
– But the present proposal does not arise out of some fatuousness on the part of Parliament. This is a specific case. Parliament passed certain legislation, and was told that it had the power to do so. It is now discovered that, as the Constitution stands at the present time, such power does not exist. Very well, then, Parliament is going to the people to ask them to repair the gap. If they repair the gap, my immediate answer, in reply to the interjection of the honorable member for Forrest, is that the laws relating to marketing would revive in validity as soon as the writs were returned containing the information in connexion with >an affirmative result in accordance with section 128.
I have occupied the time of the House longer than I expected. I submit this amendment to honorable members, and inform them that there will be a subsequent machinery measure to bring before the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Curtin) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act, 1906-1 928.
Bill brought up by Mr. Menzies, and read a first time.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 13th October (vide page 1055), on motion by Mr. Casey -
That the first item in the Estimates under Division 1 - the Senate - namely “ Salaries and allowances, f 7,900 “, be agreed to.
– I have no intention of commenting on the budget, beyond congratulating the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) on the remission which has been made in the ratio of taxation. I do not propose to proceed any further with the discussion of that aspect of the budget, which is an earnest by the Government of budgets to come, and I await with patience the subsequent remissions of all emergency taxes. Therefore, as I have stated, I have no intention of offering criticism of the budget. Who am I that I should want to criticize the Government, when those honorable members who are privileged to criticize it have refrained from doing so? That should be the highest compliment which could be paid to the Government. During the debate which has taken place on the budget, I noticed that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) endeavoured to impress the country with the fact that the prosperity which has eventuated since this Government took office was the culmination of results which were brought about by the introduction of the Premiers plan, and he tookunto himself and to the Labour party a certain proprietary right in this regard. The right honorable member for Yarra (Mr.
Scullin) instead of criticizing the budget, as he had a perfect right to do, because the particular prerogative to criticize is seemingly the right of the Opposition, contented himself with making a speech on the subject of Australian authors. It was a most notable speech, but it had nothing whatever to do with a criticism of the budget. The lesser lights of the Opposition- and here I speak with all due deference to the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) and others who discussed section 92 of the Constitution - dealt at length with such matters as the Japanese embargo and fish, and the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) touched on industrial matters, all of which proves conclusively that the budget met with the complete approval, not only of honorable members on this side of the House, but also of the Opposition.
I do not desire to make further reference to the budget in that connexion, but I would like to direct attention to an important fact that must be apparent to an observer of social changes. We are entering upon a period of changing concepts in regard to industrial matters. The introduction of the machine has been claimed to be the basis for the unemployment from which the country is suffering at the moment, and, therefore, presupposes as a remedy that Parliament should legislate to introduce a shorter working week of 40 hours. Honorable members have expressed themselves in this way on many occasions, hut the problem of unemployment cannot be so easily dismissed. I prefer to consider such a subject with the object of discovering fundamental principles rather than of applying expedients which might give temporary relief. Before we can effect any permanent adjustment of the unemployment situation we must define the basic underlying principles.’ Only in that way shall we do anything that will be of enduring benefit.
Because of the mistaken conceptions that are abroad concerning the probable effects of a shorter working week, and the introduction of labour-saving machinery, I propose to spend the time at my disposal this afternoon in discussing those aspects of this vitally important subject.
I think it waa Judge Dethridge who regretted that wild statements were being made with regard to the 40-hour week by persona who had not given reasonable consideration to the problem. I commend him for that utterance. The shorter working week involves far broader considerations than those directly touching the present day problem of unemployment. It is regrettable that so many loose statements should be made by irresponsible people to bolster up the agitation for the introduction of a shorter working week. It is said that .this has become necessary because of the introduction of labour-saving machinery and the tendency to mass production; but it must be remembered that unemployment is caused not only by the use of laboursaving machinery but also by many other factors such as standardization, rationalization, greater incentive to. increase remuneration, motion study, industrial hygiene, and scientific study of the human factor, all of which play their part in the replacement of the skilled worker. The Sydney County Council recently decided to introduce the 40-hour working week in an endeavour to set an example to the nation, but unfortunately its action was based upon loose premises and the utterances of some person or persons who had not given adequate consideration to the subject.
I am not out of step with the movement for a shorter working week to give additional leisure to the worker; but if we intend to adopt the principle, we should know why. Such a step should be taken only for good and substantial reasons. The mere fact that ill considered statements have been made on the subject is not sufficient justification for the introduction of such a major variation of existing industrial practice. “We ought to face the issue with the intention to discover exactly what it would mean to the nation and to the community. To place the subject in proper perspective, it is necessary to recollect that a measure of unemployment has always been present in the general community. “We are too apt to lose, sight of the fact that it is normal to find a percentage of unemployed and unemployable persons in every country. This is due to such factors as old age, sickness, injury, strikes, business fluctuations and a certain amount of temporary technological dislocation. 1 direct the attention of honorable members to the statement made by Professor Paul Douglas in his book Real Wages in the United States of America. The professor makes a survey of three decades from 1897 to the end of 1926 and points out that the average of unemployment was 10 per cent. In 1897 there was 9 per cent, of unemployment, and this figure was not exceeded until 1921. It went as low as 5.5 per cent, in 1918 and 7.5 per cent, in 1926. “We have a parallel to those figures in Australia in the three decades from 1896 to the end of 1927. In 1896 the proportion of unemployment was 10 per cent., and until 1921 that figure was not exceeded. It fell as low as 4.7 per cent, in 1911 and 5.9 per cent, in 1927. This proves conclusively that in the period stretching from 1900 onwards, when great strides were made in mechanization, the percentage of unemployed people was considerably lower than in the premechanization era. Those significant figures should prevent us from taking precipitate action to deal with the problem. It is generally conceded that technical changes are made slowly and gradually as necessity arises. The introduction of labour-saving machinery in factory life is always deliberate. The machine cannot be blamed for the considerable variations that have occurred in our unemployment statistics since 1930. “What I have said covers, in brief, the history of unemployment in the premechanized era, the era of comparatively vigorous mechanization and the era of the depression. It is rather interesting to find printed in a report on “Unemployment and Business Stability in Australia “, presented to this Parliament in 1928, the following excerpt from Beveridge’s book Unemployment: -
Industries seldom die in a night. So, too, new machines and new processes are seldom introduced everywhere at one blow. They come gradually and experimentally. Even where the substitution of the new process for the old is direct, the existing workmen or some of thom- have naturally the first chance of learning the new one. Often the substitution is quite indirect; machine production grows slowly in one district or set of factories, ashand production slowly declines elsewhere. It is not, of course, suggested that these changes are normally accomplished without loss or friction of any sort. Every transition lias ici difficulties. The point to be made is that in any industrial transition, the difficulties are, as a rule, far less acute than is commonly supposed.
I propose now to confine myself for a few moments to some typically loose statements made by the protagonists of the shorter working week. It is said for example : -
A machine has been marketed that can be worked with one operative, but will do the work of twenty employees.
Such a statement assumes that nineteen employees would be thrown out of work in any factory where such a machine is installed. It should be remembered, however, that in any case if it were not for the introduction of the machine the commodities it is intended to produce would never be produced in commercial quantities. Another typical statement is: -
A machine has been invented which can produce 73,000 electric bulbs in 24 hours. This will, put 2,000 operatives out of work.
Electricity itself would never have been made available to humanity had’ it not been for the. introduction of the machine. Claims based on such statements, as I have cited, must be dismissed as being obviously illogical. It would seem to me to be the height of absurdity if, by making things better, we made them worse. That would surely crown cosmos with chaos. I do not think that man’s inventive ability which is expressing itself in the scientific development of machinery will lead us in that direction.
In approaching this problem we must keep three major considerations in mind: Do changes in population affect persons seeking employment? What are the changes in business and industry which affect the demand for workers? What effect has machinery production on the standard of living? If we investigate those three problems impartially, we can accept the claim that the machine does not cause unemployment but, on the contrary, creates employment. If we find that the proportion of population usually gainfully employed declines, then there may be some basis for the belief that the machine creates unemployment; but we find that the ratio of workers to population over the last two or three generations is gradually increas- ing. In the United States of America, from 1870 to 1930, the population increased by 218 per cent., whilst the number of workers increased by 291 per cent., or an improvement of 73 per cent, of workers employed over the natural increase of population. A somewhat similar development has taken place in Australia. From 1881 to 1929 - I have purposely selected years outside ‘the depression period - our population increased by 184 per cent., whilst the number of workers increased by 209 per cent., or an improvement of 25 per cent. When we find that over a long period mechanized industry has succeeded in employing the whole of the natural increase of population and, in addition, a percentage over and above that increase, then it cannot bt- said that the machine has created unemployment, or that there is less employment to-day than there was prior to the advent of machinery. These figures which I have just quoted, are very telling and they cover this matter completely.
Let us now approach the conditions that obtained in the United States of America during the period which I have just dealt with. A century ago the United States of America was a rural nation. There was plenty of work, principally of a pioneering character, such as the clearing of land, and the building of roads, and workers were pressed into service; in fact, slaves were in demand. Notwithstanding these facts we find that in 1830 only 27 per cent, of the population was gainfully employed whereas in the following period up to 1930, which was one of intense mechanization, 40 per cent, was employed in producing goods and services. In Australia a similar condition obtained. In 1881, 43 per cent, of our population was gainfully employed, whilst in 1929, on the basis of the previous census, this figure had increased to 47 per cent. In the United States of America, in 1830, 270 persons for every 1,000 of population were required to produce the goods and services in that country, whereas in 1930 that figure had increased to 400 persons for every 1,000 of population.’ That is an extraordinary increase and it developed notwithstanding the fact that machinery stepped up production to an unusual degree. In Australia, as honorable members are aware, the number of persons for each 1,000 of population required to produce goods and services increased over the period from 1881 to 1929 from 430 to 470. What has made possible this increase of the proportion of the workers to population? On investigation we find that industrial hygiene and the scientific study of the human factor have given the workers increased longevity, whilst the entrance of women into industry has swollen to a remarkable extent the number
Gainfully employed. On the other and this increase would have been much more pronounced if an equal percentage of juveniles and old-age workers as were employed in earlier years had been employed in later years.
Let us approach this subject from another aspect. If unemployment is due to the machine, then, obviously, we should find that fact more pronounced in the more highly mechanized industries. Investigation shows, however, that the number of jobs increased much faster in manufacturing than in any other occupation. The American investigation shows that from 1910 to 1930 the number of employees increased by 3,500.000 in highly mechanized manufacturing industries and slightly in all other industries except agricultural industries, where there was a definite loss of 2,000,000 employees. Those figures are significant because they prove conclusively that there has been a gradual infiltration of employees from the agricultural industries into secondary industries. I have, no doubt that machine production has made possible increased standards of living and has generated a desire on the part of those who formerly lived by subsistence farming to enter industry and take advantage of increased standards of living brought about by the machines. It has permitted them to purchase as necessities things formerly regarded as luxuries. The automobile industry, perhaps, provides the best example of the infiltration of employees from the agricultural industries. It is estimated that approximately 11,000,000 people are employed directly or indirectly in this industry in the United States of America, and it has been proved conclusively that the prosperity of this industry has been due to the introduction of machinery. My authority on this matter is Mr. W. J. Cameron, an economst of the Ford Motor Company, who, in a talk on “ Machines and Jobs “, said -
One year when the company spent four million dollars for machinery, its employees increased by 20,000 men-, and the pay roll by 48 million dollars. Another year when the company spent nine million dollars for machinery, its employees increased by 40,000 men, and its pay roll bv 88 million dollars. In another year when the company invested ten million dollars in machinery, employment increased by 37,000 men, and the pay roll by 76 million dollars. That was the invariable experiences - the more machinery, the more men.
I do not believe that we have reached the climax of man’s scientific achievements. Man’s ingenuity is not at an end. So long as his wants are unsatisfied, new industries will arise in the future a3 they have done in the past. The Bureau of Census and Statistics of the United States of America has drawn up a statement in a . publication entitled Machinery, Employment, and Purchasing Power, sponsored by the National Industrial Conference Board, in which it is shown that eighteen new manufacturing industries have come into being since 1879. Included in that list are such wellknown industries of an expanding nature as the manufacture of electrical machinery, apparatus and supplies, motor vehicles, motor vehicle bodies and parts, rayon and allied products, refrigerators and the like. That statement proves conclusively that these new industries have absorbed approximately 1,123,000 men. [Quorum formed.] A further illuminating statement reads: -
The relative importance of these new industries as employers of labour in relation tj all manufacturing activities, is shown in Table 12 and Chart 12. All manufacturing industries in 1879 employed 49,437 wage earners for every million inhabitants in the United States. In 1929, the population had grown to about two and one-half times its size in 1879 and the manufacturers employed 72,731 wage earners per million of population, an increase of 23,294 workers per million, or close to 50 per cent, over the ratio of 1879. No less than two-fifths of this increase in employment was brought about by these new industries. They accounted for 9,243 wage earners per million inhabitants in 1929.
Those new industries are an important outcome of the greater use of machines.
It is predicted that developments in connexion with television, aviation, and air conditioning will provide millions more jobs for those people who have been temporarily thrown out of employment by the use of machines. It would be foolish to deny that the mechanization of industry has increased unemployment temporarily; but I submit that the lag is taken up sooner or later. That contention is borne out by the following extract from a bulletin issued by the International Management Institute of the United States of America -
Between 1920 and1928 factories decreased their employeesby more than 900,000 largely owing to rationalization but the higher wages earned and the rise in the general standard of living so greatly increased the demand for motor cars and other manufactures and luxury lines that 1,280,000 more men found employment in driving and repairing cars, 100,000 more men required to attend refrigerators, heaters and other household appliances. 100,000 more life assurance agents, a greater desire for education resulting in additional employment of 185,000 teachers; also imagine the increase in books, printing, etc.. and general distributive services.
Urwick, in his Social Aspects of Rationalization, covers practically the same ground and proves that the temporary unemployment caused by machines is eventually overtaken because of the services demanded by the people as the result of the increased wages paid to them. Statistics extracted from the census of the United States of America show that whereas, in 1870, the proportion of the population employed in producing commodities was 76 per cent. and the remaining 24 per cent. in trade transport and other services, the figures for 1030, following the introduction of machines into industry, were respectively 58 per cent. and 47 per cent.Those figures prove my contention that a change Over to machinery, although creating unemployment temporarily, eventually creates a demand either for additional services, or for those things which formerly were regarded as luxuries. Investigations prove that, in every case, the greater use of machines has transferred the burden of menial tasks from flesh and blood to iron and steel,and given to the workers greater selectivity of employment. Wherever workmen are permitted to step-up production by the use of machinery, their wages automatically rise and their standards of living improve. The mechanization of industry does more than increase wages; it also tends to improve the lot of the worker. Between 1899 and 1929 the wages paid by manufacturers in the United States of America increased by 479 per cent. ; factory employment by 88 per cent. ; the number of machines, measured by horse-power, by 331 per cent., and production by approximately 216 per cent. A similar state of affairs is revealed by the figures for Australia. Between 1900 and 1920 wages paid in manufacturing industries increased by 476 per cent.; factory employment by128 per cent.; machines measured by horse-power, by 496 per cent., and production by 475 per cent. Moreover, the greater use of machines has given to the workers a greater share of the national income, thereby enabling them to purchase ever-increasing quantities of commodities and to improve their cultural standards. Notwithstanding that in some quarters it is claimed that the introduction of machines has resulted in the workers obtaining an ever-declining share of the national income, the opinion of those who have investigated this problem is that, in every case in which machines have been introduced, the standard of living of the workers has improved, their wages have been raised, and their share of the national income has increased. In the United States of America at the beginning of this century, employees received 53 per cent. of the national income while in 1934 this figure had increased to 64 per cent. I cannot obtain figures for Australia, but I suggest that the experience of such a highly mechanized nation as the United States of America where, notwithstanding the extraordinary increase of the productivity of machines the lot of the worker has improved, is indicative of conditions here. Honorable members who advocate a shorter working week would be well advised to consider stepping-up production by the greater use of machinery, thereby making possible in industry conditions not possible now. Only by increased production can the standard of living for the workers of this country be improved, and only by reach- ing saturation point in machine production can a shorter working week be made economically possible. What I have said goes to show that the machine is not the Frankenstein monster that it is generally supposed to be. In the course of my investigation of this subject, I came across a work entitled Invention and Discovery, written by S. C. Gilfillan, in which the author points out that approximately 40 per cent, of the patents for inventions in 1932 related to articles for the provision of new goods and services for the people, and that only one in every six had as its major purpose the saving of labour; in other words, that they were really labour-serving rather than labour-saving inventions - a distinction which honorable members will probably appreciate. Mature consideration must bring the conviction that no useful industry has yet been superseded. Electricity has sot superseded gas, nor has gas superseded oil. I have received a communication from the Australian Gaslight Company, which states that the consumption of gas supplied by this undertaking increased from 4,657 cubic feet for the year ended the 31st December, 1911, to 5,713 cubic feet for the year ended the 31st December, 1935, the mean populations served being respectively 617,946 and 1,174,000. These figures prove that gas has not been superseded by electricity. Nor has the radio superseded the telephone, or the telegraphic service the mail service. Although motor transport has superseded horse-drawn transport, in every country town which formerly boasted one blacksmith there arc now numerous motor service stations. Another example which I am. confident will appeal to honorable members is the cinema, which provides employment for hundreds of thousands of persons who could never have been engaged in legitimate theatrical enterprises. Wherever there has been supersession, there has been replacement by a much greater employment-providing agency. Mechanization has not diminished the need for human effort, although it has certainly effected marked changes in the occupations of the workers. These changes represent the price of progress, and the definite responsibility rests upon both the employer and the employee to adapt themselves to them. It is because of the failure to make the adjustments demanded by progress that the problem of unemployment has become accentuated. That the problem is one not of the machine, but of the man, I think I have proved conclusively. Full advantage may be taken of the benefits conferred by progress only by the orientation of the problem, in such a way that we shall understand its effect upon the welfare of the community generally, the volume of employment provided, and the standard of living to which we have attained. The matter must be viewed in its right perspective. Instead of blaming the machine and urging the extraordinary conditions of a period of depression as a reason for the institution of a shorter working week, we should do greater service to the nation of we endeavoured to utilize it for the improvement of our conditions. I have already stated that because of its cultural value I am not unsympathetic towards a shorter working week. But I object to Australia being stampeded into its adoption because of the effects of a set of extraordinary conditions. If the claims of those who advocate a shorter working week are soundly based, I suggest that we have at hand means to solve all the problems which are causing Australia so much concern. If, by the reduction of hours to 40 a week, all of those who are unemployed could be absorbed in industry, then by the further’ reduction to 30 hours a week, positions could be found for hundreds of thousands of immigrants, and the Government should not hesitate to take action in that direction. But that is not the position. Large scale employment’ cannot be brought about by the reduction of the hours of labour. In 1928, the Bruce-Page Government appointed a committee to examine the incidence of the tariff upon our primary industries, and that body reported that the effect was to increase the costs of primary industries by 10 per cent. Since then the tariff has been raised by approximately 15 per cent. Were we to reduce the hours of labour, the obvious result would be to increase the cost of production, and thus raise the cost of the article produced to a level which would demand a further raising of the tariff. That, in turn, would so affect primary industries that additional bounties would bc needed to enable our , surplus production to be marketed overseas at world parity rates. The payment of these bounties would mean an increase of taxes, and that again would automatically raise the cost of production. Thus the vicious circle would be complete. “We should not tamper with industry in any way until we know what the effect is likely to be. In common with other honorable members I feel that when the rest of the would, particularly big industrial countries, adopts the principle of a shorter working week - -
– They are doing it now.
– I suggest to i he honorable member that there must be unanimity in this matter. If the big industrial countries, by the reduction of the hours of labour, bring their production costs more into conformity with ours, we should not hesitate; but before pandering to any one section of the community by introducing this reform we should realize the possible effect upon Australia as a whole.
.- The Treasurer (Mr. Casey) availed himself of every opportunity to convince this committee and the public that the budget benefits equally all sections of the community. I believe that that is not the case. It is true that a large section has been benefited; but unfortunately, those sections which are deserving of more protection and assistance than they receive have been given very little, if any.
I am pleased that the Government has made provision for the long overdue restoration of the salaries of public servants, whom I regard as a loyal, efficient body of men. I regret, however, that full restoration has not been made of invalid and old-age pensions and the maternity allowance. It has been argued in this and previous debates that on 19s. a week pensioners are in a much better position than they have previously occupied since the enactment of pensions legislation. The framers of that legislation were in no sense actuated by considerations in relation to the cost of living, nor was the pension fixed on that basis. Therefore, the Government could have restored the rate to £1 a week. That action should have been taken when the Lyons Government first came into office in 1931. When the financial emergency legislation was introduced, the right honorable gentleman, who now leads the Government, sitting in opposition, stated that he would be one of the first .to increase the pension to £1 a week immediately the financial position justified that action. In common with many other honorable members, a.c well as persons outside this chamber, 1 claim that the aged and invalid should have been the first to have their payments fully restored. It is the duty of this Parliament to see that they are protected and have decent living conditions. The majority of them are the pioneers of this country, and paved the way for the privileges that we enjoy to-day. The pensioners are pleased to have received an increase, but I shall not be satisfied until the amount has been restored to £3 a week.
Whilst old-age pensioners are permitted to earn a slight amount, apart from the pension, the invalid pensioner has no means of augmenting his income. Notwithstanding the many complaints made in this House respecting the unhappy lot of the latter class, the Government has taken no action to relieve it. It seems to me that the act should be administered generously, as was clearly intended when the legislation was passed.
– It is cruel in its incidence, even if the administration conforms with the law.
– I agree with the honorable member. I took an opportunity to discuss this matter on last -year’s Estimates. I have had under my notice the cases of scores of unfortunate individuals who are known to me personally as unemployable, and yet are unable to obtain the invalid pension. The Government medical referee displays no humane attributes whatever. He treats applicants for the pension as persons who are trying to get something to which they are not entitled. I have yet to meet a person who would, apply for an invalid pension if he were able to work. The administration is altogether too rigid. Formerly the invalid pension was granted to all applicants who were permanently incapacitated, but later a regulation was issued requiring an applicant to show that he was both permanently and totally incapacitated. Consequently, an applicant for the invalid pension must now satisfy the medical referee that he is as helpless as a child. If the medical referee considers that a woman is able to prepare her own meals, her application is rejected, and she is forced to live on charity. The act should be amended to provide for the payment of the pension to all unemployable persons. I advanced this argument during the debate on last year’s budget. Several honorable members supported my further contention that, in order to mete out justice, the Government should appoint a panel of doctors to decide whether an applicant was unemployable, the claim to be determined by a majority decision. I am acquainted with a number of persons who each submitted six or seven certificates from private medical practitioners declaring that they were totally unemployable and entitled to the pension, but, unfortunately, the Government medical referee reported that they were not totally and permanently incapacitated, and the certificates were ignored.
Whilst I am pleased to know that the Government has given a slight concession in respect of the maternity allowance, I regret that it has failed to carry out the promise it gave to the electors that, as soon as financial stability was restored, the original allowance would be paid in full. It is true that the amount of allowable income has been increased from £208 to £221 per annum, instead of exempting amounts paid as unemployment relief tax from computation as income for maternity allowance purposes. I appreciate the Government’s action in deciding to increase the amount of allowable income, but it should also have exempted from computation sums paid as unemployment relief tax. [Quorum formed.] Those who pay this tax to the State authorities do not handle the money.
– The administrative difficulties in that regard are insuperable, but the Government has granted greater relief by increasing the amount of allowable income.
-What the Government has done is appreciated. Nevertheless, I regret that it has not made the concession sought in respect of unemployment relief tax.
The Treasurer pointed out that concessions have been granted to ex-members of the Australian Imperial Force by way of free medical treatment at repatriation hospitals and sanatoriums. While that is true, I regret very much that the Government has not honoured in full the promises which it made to returned soldiers. I was pleased to learn from the Minister for Health to-day in answer to a question which I asked yesterday, that certain additional concessions are to be made. Quite a number of returned soldiers have interviewed me, and complained of the manner in which they have been treated when they become inmates of medical institutions, particularly repatriation hospitals. When the. last amending war pensions legislation wa3 before the House, returned soldiers were given to understand that they would receive free treatment in repatriation hospitals. Although the actual treatment which they receive is given without charge, pensioner ex-soldiers who become inmates of institutions for treatment, are called upon to pay 12s. 6d. a week tq the institution. This, they claim, is an injustice; the pension was granted to assist them to eke out a bare existence, and even when living outside the hospital, they found it ‘totally inadequate for their needs. The deduction of 12s. 6d. a week in such circumstances is unjust and unfair; returned soldiers should receive the full pension irrespective of whether they are inmates of an institution or not.
– Many of them are married men.
– That is so, and the pension is little enough with which to provide a home for a wife and children. I am gratified that the Government has decided to brins; down, within the next few days, a measure granting further concessions to returned soldiers.
I am glad that the Commonwealth has seen fit to provide in the budget £30,000 for increased medical research and £25,000 as a grant to the States for maternal and infant welfare. The only complaint which I have to make in that regard is that the provision is too small. When spread over the whole of the Commonwealth, the grant for maternal and infant welfare will mean very little to each State. Replying to a deputation from the New Health Society, which asked that the Commonwealth Government should provide funds to enable milk to be supplied to children in State schools, the Minister for Health (Mr. Hughes) is reported to have said -
The report of. the Commonwealth Nutritional Investigation Committee that an average of only 7s. per head is spent weekly on food in Australia, compared with 8s. lod. in England, seems to me conclusive evidence of the need for an adjustment of wages to provide sufficient money to ensure that children at least have an adequate supply of food.
On one occasion the right honorable gentleman said -
The real wealth of a nation is not in its trade and industries, its buildings, its commerce, its Mocks and herds, its mineral resources, and its accumulated capital, but in its people.
While it is gratifying that such fine sentiments should be expressed by the Minister for Health, I regret that no provision has been made in the budget to give practical effect to them. The Government, realizing the great importance of public health, proposes a grant to the State governments of only £25,000 in respect of maternal and infant welfare. We all recognize that public health is of the first importance to this or any other country. Some months ago, I drew the attention of this Parliament to Sister Kenny’s method of treating infantile paralysis. At that time,, there was quite a lot of enthusiasm over the success of that treatment in many of the States. Not many people in Australia and, I venture to say, not many members of this House realize fully the wonderful work done by Sister Kenny in the interests of the crippled children of Queensland. Clinics have also been established in the other States and in other parts of the world, to give treatment on the lines laid down by her. For many years, Sister Kenny had an uphill fight for recognition of the merits of her treatment. The British
Medical Association in Australia was opposed to her methods; but fortunately for the crippled children of Australia, as a result of the intervention of the Queensland Government, she was able to break down the prejudice that existed and to demonstrate to Australia and to the world the efficacy of her methods of treating infantile paralysis. Sister Kenny has done yeoman work. I urge honorable members to visit the clinics established to carry out her treatment in order that they may see at firsthand the results achieved. Recently I had the privilege of visiting one of the clinics in Brisbane in company with the Minister for Health. Since then I have made it my business to visit the clinic regularly and I have been able to see the wonderful work done in the interests of suffering children particularly those who, but for Sister Kenny’s treatment, would never have been able to walk. Before I left Brisbane I asked the medical superintendent of the Elizabeth Kenny clinic in Brisbane, Dr. Fryberg, for a report on the cases treated up to a recent date. Dr. Fryberg stated that 212 cases of infantile paralysis, 58 cases of spastic paralysis, and 22 cases of birth palsy and other conditions, or a total of 292 cases, had been treated in clinics employing Sister Kenny’s methods. In addition I have received medical reports from eminent medical authorities in Queensland who were called upon by the Queensland Government to pronounce on Sister Kenny’s methods. At that time, the British Medical Association was opposed to Sister Kenny’s treatment. The following report was signed by Dr. R. W. Dungan, of Townsville : -
Since March, 1034, a large number of cases have been added to the original number and no comment is made on cases that have not been under treatment for at least three months.
Poliomyelitis Gases. - ( 1 ) All cases have improved; (2) Early rases have improved at a greater rate than the more chronic cases:
Those cases which have had surgical operations have not done as -well as cases that have been paralysed the some length of time;
In all cases improvement has been quicker than any other known method.
Spastic Paralysis. - All cases have improved ; no known method can give the same results.
Birth Paralysis. - Oases have obtained improved function but this has been obtained by developing to a greater extent accessory muscles. Greater use has been given to the paralysed limb.
Congenital Foot Deformities.- In the early cases absolute cure has been obtained. In neglected cases improvement has been obtained and it has been demonstrated that the treatment would be a wonderful adjunct to surgery.
Meningitis. - Outstanding improvement in the one case treated.
It is my considered opinion that the treatment can be put on a scientific basis and each process given a scientific explanation.
It has been clearly shown that Sister Kenny can impart the knowledge of the work to her nurses and they can carry out the treatment. Cases continued to improve while she was absent from Townsville.
The records of the cases that have attended the clinic have demonstrated the dire need for adequate treatment of paralysis in Queensland (particularly North Queensland). The work is very specialized and should be concentrated into two centres - Townsville and Brisbane - permanent clinics where specially trained attendants should be available.
The clinics should be developed away from Public Hospital buildings as the ‘psychological clement plays such a big part in the progress of the cases.
I have a series of reports from Dr. Guinane, setting out the progress made by patients whom he had observed undergoing treatment in Sister Kenny’s clinic. I am anxious to bring these cases under the notice of honorable members so that they may be induced to join with me in urging upon the Government the need for making greater financial provision for the extension of this work throughout the Commonwealth. Dr. Guinane states -
In presenting a report of the results, I must point out that two months is a very short time in which to see changes in muscle strength.
If full details reports had been present on my arrival, comparisons would have been easier, but in many cases there were no previous notes, and in the majority of the remaining patients, the reports were neither complete enough nor detailed enough.
To Sister Kenny and her staff, I have to extend the most cordial of thanks for their courtesy. Patients or their parents were ready for me whenever wanted, treatment was explained thoroughly, and Sister Kenny was never in the room when I was questioning patients or their parents.
Group 1. -Recent Cases of Infantile Paralysis. Monica Clarke - seven years - Tully, North Queensland. )
The case was first seen on the 14th Septem ber, 1934. It had then had paralysis seven weeks, the last six. weeks of which were spent inInnisfail Hospital. Dr. Rountree’s report soon after arrival: -
The patient was paralysed in both lower and upper extremities, spine and abdominal muscles. The paralysis was well marked in all these situations. The child was entirelyunable to bend the spine below the level of the neck. She was unable to raise the arms above the level of the shoulders. Both lower limbs had no voluntary movements except slight movements of the toes. There was a certain amount of wasting of all muscles. 1 saw this patient periodically after the first few days. I noticed the left middle and ring fingers and the right ring linger and the deltoidmuscles become weaker. Under treatment, however, I noted a marked improvement of all muscular functions, so much so that the child walked in 25 days from commencing treatment. By the end of two months, total function of all muscles was regained.
My own final examination on the loth November, 1934. - No paralysis in any muscles. All movements have normal power and range. Child can walk and run. Measurements reveal no abnormality.
Verdict. - The recovery has been complete, and in my opinion, will be permanent. (Colin Whereat - four years - Mackay.)
Child was admitted on the 10th November. 1934. Paralysis had been noted four weeks ago and for that time the child had been in Mackay Hospital with both legs splinted.
On arrival, the child was examined by me. He could not sit up and cried if any attempt was made to lift him into the sitting position Both arms and the left leg had good movements. The right leg had practically no movements. There was very slight movement in the toes, and one movement present in the foot. No movements in the knee. All movements of the hip were very weak and some absent.
On the 12th December, 1934, the child was walking. All the movements of the right leg had returned. Two movements of the foot, though good, were not yet normal. Measurements showed no abnormality.
The mother had to return to Mackay because of her husband’s illness at this stage, and was given full instructions as to future treatment. I anticipate the two movements mentioned will become quite normal.
Verdict. - This will be a permanent cure, and a complete one.
Group 2 - OldCases of Infantile Paralysis.
Foreword. - It must be understood that Sister Kenny’s claim that she could cure cases of infantile paralysis referred to cases that she was allowed to treat from the beginning. Her only assertion with regard to the old cases was that she could improve them.
I would point out in this regard that in the eases to follow, years have elapsed since the onset of paralysis and their admission to the clinic. In some cases this space is as long as 30 years, and the shortest space that has elapsed from the onset of paralysis and the admission to the clinic is three years.
In many cases in this long interval had developed deformities of joints or contractures of the soft parts. It would be a very hard test on any method to expect much improvement in this type of case. I would consider it not a whit discreditable to the methods if no improvement had been obtained in any of these old cases as the claim to cure paralysis by the methods is based upon the treatment right from its onset. However, all the cases have been improved - some slightly, others considerably.
Old cases which have been under standard treatment from their illness to admission to Clinic. (Judith Hudson - six years ten months - Sydney. )
Infantile Paralysis51/2 years ago. Child started at the clinic on 18th September, 1934. She was then wearing 2 walking callipers. When the callipers were removed she could not stand andcrumpled up like a jelly. After seven weeks’ treatment, the child was able to walk without the splints supported on each side by an attendant, but bearing very little weight on attendants. She was able to stand up in a bath holding the side with her hands and have a shower for the first time in her life.
The pressure exerted by both her right and left feet pressing on a spring balance was 1 lb. for each foot on the 18th September.
On the 5th November under the same conditions, the pressure in her right foot was 71/2 lb., and in her left, 91/21b.
The parents have stated that there was more improvement in this seven weeks than in the previous five years. They had, at this stage, to take the child back to Sydney, but are continuing the treatment according to Sister’s instructions.
When the child first came to the clinic, she was wearing night splints. These were discarded and the position of her legs was not in any way impaired according to Dr. Wade, of Sydney. (Douglas John Morgan. - fifteen years - Townsville.)
Infantile Paralysis fourteen yearsago. The left arm was very thin and wasted. Shoulder movements were very much impaired, and elbow and hand movements very weak. This was when the case started at the clinic on 11thMay,1934.
Now (the 12th December, 1934).- The left arm is still very wasted. Movements are all weak, and some are still incomplete. However, definite improvement has taken place, and the boy is now working in a clerical capacity.
Verdict: 1 consider already there has been great improvement in all movements of the arm, particularly of the shoulder joint, and 1 consider still further improvement will occur in this case. (Joyce. Campbell.- seventeen years - Brisbane. )
Infantile Paralysis twelve years ago. Started at theclinic 7th August, 1934. The right leg is the only limb affected. On arrival the patient wore a splint to above the knee. She could walk short distances without her splint with her hand on the front of the right thigh. She could not wear shoes as her right foot would twist over on its outer border. The right leg and buttock were much thinner than the left, and the right leg was almost two inches shorter.
Now (the 10th December, 1934). - The right leg and buttock have increased in size definitely in comparison with the left. She can walk twice as far without any support. She no longer needs to put the right hand on the front of her thigh even when wearing shoesShe can wear shoes without her foot twisting over. Her right leg in general is stronger, and the right buttock definitely bigger than on arrival. She no longer uses the splint, and gets about with a stick in her right hand.
Verdict: I consider there has been a great improvement in this case. (Maud Rollinson - 25 years - Homestead.)
Infantile paralysis eleven years ago. First came under Sister Kenny’s supervision in May, 1931; was treated personally by Sister Kenny four months prior to the opening of the clinic. The rest of the time the patient was treated by a member of her family,under Sister Kenny’s instructions. She has been attending the clinic since its inception in March. The story of her progress is noted from her relatives.
In May, 1931, when first seen by Sister Kenny, the right leg was very weak, and the left leg absolutely useless. She used to walk with two sticks, using them as props and swinging both legs from the hips. Used to fall every few steps, and could not rise without assistance.
Now (12th December, 1934). - She walks with one stick held in right hand when out: at home, no stick is necessary, and she can help with the housework. She still has a marked limp. When walking without shoes she has to put the left hand in front of her left thigh. When she is walking without the stick, she hurries when the left foot is on the ground, but does not have to put her left hand in front of her left thigh. There are marked differences in measurement between both legs varying from3/4 inch to 3 inches. The right leg is the larger. This case has improved tremendously. There are still many movements lost that I do not think will be regained.
Verdict. - I do not consider the condition will improve very much more, but do say that she has been transformed from a helpless cripple into a moderately useful citizen.
I come now to another subject, one that may be described as a hardy annual: I refer to the need for a new post office building in Brisbane.
– That is true. During the last few months, the Deputy-Director of Posts and Telegraphs and his officers in Brisbane conducted an investigation into city and suburban mail services and, as a result, marked improvements have been effected.
– The honorable member lias exhausted hia time.
.- I congratulate the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) and the Government upon the budget brought down this year. This is the fifth budget to be introduced since Mr. Lyons has been Prime Minister, and all of them, 1 am sure, have been acceptable to the people as a whole. The Lyons Government went into office during the worst depression that Australia has ever known, and when we remember what lias been achieved since then we must feel proud to be Australians. Australia has emerged from the depression more quickly and more completely than has any other country in the world. I do not say that all the credit for successfully piloting the political barque through the troubled seas of depression is due to the Commonwealth Government, but much of it is due to that Government, working in co-operation with the various State Governments.
The figures regarding employment provide a reliable index to our recovery. In 1931, when the present Government came into power, factory employees numbered 337,000. Since then the number has increased as follows: -
The number at present employed in factories throughout Australia is greater than in pre-depression times. The decline of the percentage of unemployment is even more indicative of our recovery, as is shown by these figures: -
Even in normal times, the average unemployment is from 6 per cent, to 7 per cent., including many who are unemployable, so that the extent of real unemployment in Australia at the present time is approximately only 5 per cent. In no other part of the world does such a happy condition exist, and Australia should be proud of itself. Since, 1932 over all branches of industry, 335,000 men have regained employment. The Commonwealth also enjoys a favourable trade balance with the United Kingdom. This balance in 1935-36 amounted to £16,000,000. By this means we establish credits in Great Britain, from which our overseas commitments ave met. “Mr. Barnard. - This Government has been drawing on those funds ever since it assumed office.
– On the contrary the London funds have increased and that is something to the credit of this Government.
– It is to the credit of the Scullin Government that its tariff policy enabled funds to be accumulated iti London. [Quorum formed.’)
– Commonwealth revenue for 1935-36 amounted to £66,640,947, and the excess of revenue over expenditure was £3,567,720. I ask honorable members to note carefully the main headings of Commonwealth expenditure last year -
No previous Commonwealth Government has ever had to face the difficulties which confronted’ the present Government when it took office, but despite declining revenue, not only has it paid its way, but in every year since it assumed office it has shown a surplus of receipts over expenditure, and at the same time has met a great number of demands upon the Treasury in tie form of payments to primary producers, and increased pension and other social service charges. This year the Government is remitting taxes to the amount of £5,275,000, making the total remission during its period of office, £16,000,000. The rate of sales tax has been reduced from 6 per cent, to 4 per cent., resulting in a loss to the Treasury of £4,000,000 per annum, and exemptions, chiefly for the purpose of assisting primary producers, have also been made at a cost of several million pounds. Nearly all foodstuffs are now exempt from this tax. That record reflects great credit on the Government and particularly on the Treasurer (Mr. Casey). This budget increases the rate of the invalid and old-age pension by ls. a week at a cost of £760,000 a year. I share the regret of many honorable members that a full restoration to the pensioners has not been possible, but I think that most of them are satisfied that the Governmentlias done everything within its power to meet their needs. In my electorate, I come into contact with thousands of pensioners, and I have addressed every branch of their organization in the district as I take a great interest in them and try to help them in every possible way. They have always told me that they have no party ties and that their organization is not political. If they were left alone they would bc a satisfied people, knowing that the Government is doing all within its power to help them and does not delude them with empty promises which cannot be carried out. Next year I hope to see the pension fully restored.
I am not entirely satisfied with what has been done for the occupants of war service homes. A great many of them have been removed from their homes. An alteration was made last year in the schedule of rentals for these homes, and the payments were lowered on a scale until persons who were earning no income were relieved of responsibility for payment, but about a month before that alteration came into force many occupants of war service homes were evicted. I consider that they should be reinstalled, and treated in exactly the same way as other purchasers who are at present in occupation of homes.
I consider that the remarks made on Friday by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) concerning the Australian- Japanese trade negotiations were ill-timed; indeed, hi3 speech could be well and truly labelled “ Made in Japan “. ,
– Made in Australia by an Australian for Australians, and it was long overdue.
– I have in my .possession a newspaper editorial in which the question is asked : -
Is this Mr. Forde who imposed many prohibitions during his term as Minister for Trade and Customs?
At a. time when the Government was trying to negotiate with Japan, whether it was right or wrong, the duty of all honorable members was to assist it by maintaining silence on the matter.
– We gave the Government five months without saying a word.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has been a Minister and he knows that many difficulties can crop up in such negotiations. I maintained silence and all other honorable members would have been well advised to tlo so, whereas, even so far back as the last period of the session the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has been asking daily whether the Minister conducting negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) could make any report to the House as to the progress of the negotiations with Japan. Nothing could bo gained by such a policy which must have been embarrassing to the Ministry. I hope that in the near future the Minister will have something satisfactory to report. In my opinion the Government has followed the right course and I am prepared to await the results which I trust will be forthcoming in the near future. The United Kingdom market has become increasingly more important to Australia as is apparent from a review of the following chief export figures: -
Contrast the state of affairs disclosed in those figures with the facts to be gained from a study of imports from the United Kingdom and Japan into this country. In 1931-32 imports of cottons and artificial silks from the United Kingdom amounted to £4,098,000, or 23 per cent, of the total imports. In 1934-35, notwithstanding the improved position in Australia and the general upward movement of trade, this figure only slightly increased to £4,284,000, representing 13 per cent, of the total imports from the United Kingdom. In 1932, Australia’s imports of cotton piece goods from the United Kingdom were 167,000,000 square yards, and in 1935, they were 118,000,000 square yards - a falling off of 49,000,000 square yards. Imports from foreign sources were 40,000,000 square yards .in 1932 and 90,000,000 square yards in 1935, an increase of 50,000,000 square yards. In artificial silk, the United Kingdom supplied approximately 8,000,000 square yards in 1932, and 7,250,000 square yards in 1935, while foreign countries supplied 13,000,000 square yards in 1932, and 68,500,000 square yards in 1935, a gain of 58,000,000 square yards. The imports of artificial silk piece goods from foreign sources in 1935 represented almost 90 per cent, of our total imports of these textiles. In these circumstances the action of the Government was fully justified. We have to look to Great Britain to purchase the bulk of our exportable surplus, and if we allow shoddy Japanese material to enter Australia instead of purchasing our requirements from the United Kingdom our exports to the mother country must necessarily decrease.
On artificial silk imported from Japan at 4$d. a square yard a duty of 40 per cent, is imposed, but on similar British goods sold at 14d. per square yard the duty is 20 per cent. Recently, Japan, which has been a good customer for Australian wool, ceased to purchase in the Australian market, and is now obtaining its requirements in South Africa. If Japan is purchasing South African wool the buyers who previously bought what Japan is now buying must be obtaining their supplies in Australia, and the demand for our product should not decrease. For years past the whole of the Australian wool clip has been profitably marketed, and it is reasonable to assume that our total production will still be sold at remunerative prices. The opening wool sales this year have been quite satisfactory, as the prices realized have been equal to those obtained last year. The class of wool which Japan has been accustomed to buying was sold this year at satisfactory prices.
I take this opportunity to bring under the notice of the Government again the urgent need for expending large sums of money in developing Central Australia. I am deeply interested in the Northern Territory and Central Australia, and I trust that before long the Government will make a determined attempt to settle effectively that important portion of the continent. The Government should make available at least £100,000 to test the gold-field at Tennants Creek, which covers an area of approximately 2,800 square miles. Up to the present it lias promised a good deal but it has done very little. Last year, in company with other honorable members, I visited Central Australia, and am therefore able to speak with first-hand knowledge of its potentialities. If the Government provided the sum I have mentioned to test the gold-field at Tennant’s Creek it would know whether the area was worth developing. Ore of varying grades has been found in different localities, but money should be spent to ascertain whether payable ore exists at greater depths than have yet been tested. Expenditure in a haphazard way is uneconomic. I am pleased to learn that since our visit to Central Australia, the Government has expended money in searching for water, an adequate supply of which is essential on any mining field. Very often the ore raised has to be carted many miles over bush tracks, and, if sufficient water is not available, it is almost impossible to treat the ore. Quite recently, water was being sold at Tennants Creek at 10s. for 40 gallons; such a cost renders mining operations unprofitable. Athough the conditions are somewhat better than they were during ray visit, I earnestly appeal to the Government to spend a larger sum in developing the territory, so that the people there, who are undergoing considerable hardships, will have a better prospect of success. Even if the fields prove unpayable after money has been expended, the Government will have the satisfaction of knowing that an earnest attempt has been made to develop the field. If more money were expended on developmental works, before long a large population, which is urgently needed, would be settled in Central Australia. If sufficient funds were available, I believe that 20,000 men could be provided with employment in and around Tennants Creek. Australia is badly in need of a greater population, and if steps are not taken towards this end we shall not be able to retain this country of ours in the future. I say this as a warning to the Government.
I trust that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) will give further consideration to the desirability of continuing the railway from Alice Springs to Tennants Creek, in accordance with the promise made to South Australia when the Commonwealth assumed control of the Northern Territory. At present, the railway is constructed through hundreds of miles of barren country to Alice
Springs, but, beyond that point, there is good country, and the continuation of the line for an additional 300 miles would be a profitable undertaking.
I trust that the report of the two British experts who are now inquiring into a national insurance scheme for the Commonwealth will soon be available. The adoption of such a scheme would relieve the Commonwealth of the present pensions burden, which, if continued on the present basis, will become so great that it will break down under its own weight. A national insurance scheme is urgently needed in Australia.
I congratulate the Treasurer upon the excellent budget he has prepared and presented to Parliament, and I hope that next year’s budget will be even more favorable.
.- I propose to speak briefly on Japan. A friend and I are, I believe, the only two Australians who have had a personal interview with Dr. Sun Yat Sen, a peer of the great Chinese philosopher Confucius, and perhaps the greatest organizer of the century, and a man whose success was phenomenal. If honorable members wish to study Japan, they should read two books in the Parliamentary Library, one by Mortimer Menpes and another, entitled The Ground Work of Japan. Mortimer Menpes says that the Japanese are the most artistic people in the world, and that in some ways their art is superior to that of the ancient Greeks. The Japanese are a kindly and lovable people, but they are imbued with the idea that their Mikado is a demi-god, and honorable members must know from their studies that the Japanese soldiers rank among the finest in the world. Filled with religious fervour they willingly die for their faith and their country. They can be compared to the Spartans of ancient Greece. Upon one occasion when the Russians were about to enter upon a great battle, an artist who sought to reproduce the scene on canvas, painted a whole hillside strewn with, champagne bottles, but he was forced by the Czarist Government to remove the smirch upon the honour of bis country. Contrast the spirit thus sought to be depicted with the spirit with which Japanese who were about to sacrifice their lives - they knew that they were going to almost certain death - pledged themselves in water which was drunk from a huge flagon. I have a great regard for the Japanese as a nation, .and if, eventually, Avar can be eliminated from the world, they, with their wonderful art, will confer a great benefit upon society and teach humanity many wonderful philosophies.
I once rendered some service to the Kuo-Min-Tang society, and they in their gratitude arranged for me an interview with Dr. Sun Yat Sen, the Chinese Liberator. I was accompanied by the late Colonel J. M. Joseph and Mr. Mclnerney. The interview was of two hours’ duration. I congratulated Dr. Sun Yat Sen upon the decision of the Washington Conference, which in effect destroyed nineteen of the 21 demands which Japan had unjustly made upon China when the whole world was at war. He answered, “ Yes, Dr. Maloney, that is very true, but if the two remaining demands are left intact, Japan will be able to control China. Japan already has the Cabinet at Peking in its pay; and its object is to make use of China, as the Germans made use of Austria, as a recruiting ground for its manpower, and to exploit its iron and coal mines which are among the richest in the world. I envisage the possibility of 70,000,000 Japanese controlling China “. Dr. Sun Yat Sen estimated the population of China to be 450,000,000. “How easy” he said, “it would be for the Japanese to appeal, not only to China, but also to India with its population of 350,000,000, and the semifree States with another 60,000,000 people, reminding them that they are Asiatics and urging them to join in raising the cry of ‘Asia for the Asiatics’. United those massed millions could conquer the world. They could make war on the western world and could afford to lose 10,000,000 men every year and yet continue the campaign indefinitely. “ I believe that that is an ideal the Japanese nurture to-day. They held the belief that Genghis Khan, credited with being the greatest conqueror, or murderer, of humanity that the world has ever known, was a Prince of Japan who escaped to mainland.
Mr. E. J. Marks, who formerly lived in Sydney, has written some remarkable books upon Japan and Australia. Although they are now somewhat difficult to obtain, I recommend them to honorable members who will find copies on the shelves of the Parliamentary Library. Unfortunately, this gentleman lost his life when he gave up his seat to a lady in a tram and fell off the moving vehicle when it swung around a corner. By his death I lost a dear friend and a great man whom I admired and loved for his remarkable ability. His books on Japan should be read by every Australian who loves his native land.
The circumstances of my interview with Dr. Sun Yat Sen were rather peculiar. I had previously been introduced to some of the members of the Labour party - a Labour party is in existence in China - and we passed through a number of interesting alleys and across bridges and we saw a large body of soldiers in khaki carrying on military exercises. After this tour we .assembled in an octagonal room, and as soon as we were ushered in Dr. Sun Yat Sen himself entered. He proved to be a little taller than myself, and he was dressed in a light tweed, suit. His English was perfect.’ He had been well educated, having studied a course of medicine. In his youth Dr. Sun Yat Sen had a somewhat adventurous career. At one period he was captured in London by officials of the Chinese Embassy, who were awaiting an opportunity to transport him to China, where he was to be beheaded. Of course they might easily have killed him in London, but they feared that by so doing they might incur the displeasure of the Empress herself, in which case their own heads would have been forfeit. While in this custody, he became gravely ill, and London specialists were summoned to attend him. He was capable of conveying to them that he was a prisoner under strict surveillance and that it was intended that he should bo taken to China for execution. Although the sanctity of an Embassy is inviolable, because it is regarded as standing on the soil of the country which it represents, the doctors were able to move the British authorities to secure his release, and in his gratitude he dedicated one of his books to the specialist who was principally responsible for saving his life. The spirit of patriotism was strong in tain, and wearing an effective disguise, lie returned to China and organized a successful revolution which removed the Empress and her entourage.
Unlike its bellicose neighbour, China is a peace-loving nation. History has proved that its principal territorial acquisitions have been gained, not by conquest, but because peoples contiguous to its boundaries realized the advantages of Chinese administration, and actually asked to be permitted to come under its control. The Chinese can hold their own when roused against any invader, but by nature they are a friendly people. A Chinese gentleman who had received an excellent English education, honoured me, for some small service that I was able to do for him, by adopting me for his uncle, and I accepted that honour with no small degree of pleasure. He is known in the United States of America as the “Roosevelt of China”, after President “Teddy” Roosevelt. Ten years ago he prophesied that the next great war would be fought in the East, with Russia and China allied against Japan. After the United States of America had refused an offer by Russia of a naval base opposite to Japan, I wrote to him and suggested that the United States of America might possibly extend its influence in this quarter at a subsequent date. I think that if another awful war, although we hope no such catastrophe will again devastate humanity, does happen to break out, the fight may be between Germany, Italy, and Japan on the one side, and Russia, China, the United States of America, and Great Britain on the other. If Great Britain does not join in the conflict, it will lose the prestige it now holds in the world, which will be a matter for regret by every one. I hold in my hand a booklet entitled Organizing Peace, which is an account of the League of Nations, written by Maxwell Garnett, and the author does not hesitate to show how unjustly Japan has treated China. Unfortunately, Great Britain took eighteen months to render justice to China by declaring that Japan had broken treaties. One statement by Mr. Garnett reads -
Meanwhile, the Japanese army has added another territory’ the size of England and
Wales to those already forcibly severed from China in violation of three international treaties: the Covenant of the League of Nations, the Pact of Paris, and the Nine Power Treaty signed at Washington in 1022. Finally the Japanese army has actually crossed the Great Wall and is now established in China proper.
The following statement was made by Dr. Tehyi Hsieh, an eminent Chinese statesman : -
Japan has deliberately broken three great treaties, all of them formally signed by her since the war - the Covenant of the League, the Washington Agreement of 1922, and the Kellogg Pact of 1928.
There is no necessity for me to produce further evidence of Japan’s bellicose attitude towards a peace-loving and friendly-disposed nation.
I desire now to refer briefly to Japan’s vast industrial expansion, and its effect upon the Western countries. We cannot compete against Japan in the manufacture, of not only inferior articles, but also the very finest work. Long before federation came into being, I paid a visit to Japan, and I found the inhabitants to be a friendly, well-mannered people. At that time, boxes of matches were being made in England by women who worked under conditions of sweated labour, and were paid 2¼d. a gross to make the boxes. Out of the 2£d. they had to find their own paste. In the same year Japan was exporting matches in boxes at less than Id. a gross. My impressions of that visit have been recorded in a book which I published, and which finds a place upon the shelves of the Parliamentary Library. When I returned to Victoria I informed the government of the day of the cheaplabour conditions which were prevailing in Japan, and I asked what was the use of imposing a tariff of ls. a gross against imported foreign matches and 6d. a gross against English brands, while matches could be made so cheaply in Japan. In the circumstances, a duty of 100, 500, or even 1,000 per cent, would not have been sufficient to prevent the importation of those matches. Nothing short of prohibition would have been effective. I hold in my hand a pen, an excellent model of craftsmanship, which is sold in Japan for Id., and in Melbourne for 3d. I have alao a contrivance to hold a razor blade. It is a work of art. It costs Id. in Japan, and 3d. in Australia. Last session, I handed to the Minister for Customs (Mr. White) a handsome pair of opera glasses which cost ls. in Australia. By the way, I have never had them hack. There is also a market in China of unlimited capacity, the population being put down, on a conservative basis, as 450,000,000 people, which the Japanese are exploiting. I regret that the Chinese are still being murdered by the war engines of Japan. Long ago I pledged myself never to buy Japanese goods so long as the Japanese war lords remained a curse to that country. War lords are, of course, a curse to every country. The articles I have been displaying were given to me as samples.
I wish now to congratulate the Minister for Health (Mr. Hughes) on having uttered one of the finest statements that has ever left the lips of a ‘Commonwealth Minister for Health. I have been a severe critic of the right honorable gentleman, so I take pleasure now in complimenting him upon having said: -
If parents had a decent living wage children would not need charity.
In that journal, Health and Physical Culture, through which, I am glad to say, a fine work is being done in. the interests of the people, there appears a statement to which any attention was directed by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn), to the effect that the Irish Labour party has on its platform a plank which provides that every school child shall have one pint of milk a day. I should like to see every child receive two pints of milk daily. The only country in the world where that quantity of milk is provided by the State for school children is Russia, where motherhood has been placed on a pinnacle and where children are cared for almost without consideration of expense. It is interesting to know that a lady whom I regard as the wonder-woman of Australia, Dr. Suzanne Abramovich, spent quite a long time in Russia and speaks highly of the work that is done there. She won her Bachelor of Arts degree in the only free university in Australia. ‘She was not able at that time to take a medical course, but she went to Sydney and there obtained the degree of Master of Surgery, the highest award that man or woman can obtain in surgery in Australia. She suffered a breakdown in health and visited Europe. While there she went to .Moscow with the idea of spending a fortnight there, but was so enamoured of the Soviet policy for the care of women and children that she applied to the administration for an appointment and obtained it. I advise honorable members who are interested in maternity and child welfare movements to read the book which she has published at a cost of threepence. In Russia the expectant mother is, under law, obliged to refrain from work for two months prior to the anticipated date of the birth of her child. In that period she is paid full wages. She is also paid full wages for two months after the birth of the child. This surely is a glory to Russia. In that country the policy of equal pay to the sexes is in operation. It is interesting to note, too, that 4,000,000 children are born in Russia every year. The State encourages large families. A payment of £60 a year for five years is made to mothers in respect of the eighth child in the family, and a similar payment is made for every additional child until the twelfth is born and then an immediate cash payment of £200 is made to the mother. I make these remarks to indicate that Australia is being left far behind in legislating for the caro of mothers and children.
Recently some of my friends wished to entertain me on the occasion of my 81st birthday, but, I replied that I did not wish to have a birthday party. I had a birthday party of 2,000 people for my 80th birthday and was presented with a cake weighing 188 lb. This was cut up and a piece was presented to each guest. When I declined the invitation to an 81st birthday party, Mr. Herschel, the agent of Pathe Freres, the famous French film manufacturing company, suggested that the time had come to take moving pictures of politicians, and I was asked whether I would consent to be the first politician to be screened. Some jokes were made at that time about my two suits of. clothes and three pairs of shoes. Anyhow. I said that I would allow myself to be filmed if I were given the opportunity to make an appeal for milk for the little children in creches and free kindergartens of our big cities. I made it clear that I did not wish to make any political capital out of this in any sense, but was actuated solely by the desire to help the little children. My friends jumped at the proposition. On the occasion of the shooting of the film, I was introduced by my old friend and comrade, Mr. George Prendergast. Since then the picture has been screened before 150,000 and 200,000 people. I have spoken from the stage of more than 35 theatres in support of my appeal, and am glad to say that a wonderful response has been made by the people in the interests of little children whom Christ, in the days of His flesh, took into His arms and blessed. I have asked for pennies and half-pennies only, but the people have been wonderfully generous, and I should like to express my gratitude to them. The milk provided for the children during the cold and wet days of the last winter has, I am sure, been of untold advantage to them. I hope that the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. P.. J. Harrison) who has shown a considerable interest in the movement for the provision of milk for needy childrenwill . have something to say about the action of the Government of Victoria in ceasing to supply milk for school children.
– I shall deal with that subject when the appropriate item of the Estimates is before us.
Dr.MALONEY. - I am glad to hear the honorable member make that statement. I believe that the slums in which I was filmed were the first to be shown on. the theatre screen in Australia. I hope that within a few weeks I shall be able to increase to £1,000 the £800 which I have already handed over to the Metropolitan Milk Council in Melbourne.’ The members of this honorary body, which is doing splendid work, are: -
Chairman, Sir Walter Leitch; vicechairman, Dr. H. N. Featonby ; honorary treasurer, Mrs. A. Thomas (Housewives’ Association); honorary secretary, Mr.Reg. A. James; honorary auditor, Mr. J. A. Gourlay, A.F.I.A., A.C.I.S., A.A.I.S; Dr. Vera Scantlebury (Infant Welfare Department) ; Mrs. Moss (National Council of Women); Dr. Jane Greig (Education Department) ; Mrs. Burkitt (Federated Mothers’ Club) ; LieutenantColonel H. N. Clegg (Metropolitan Milk Producers’ Association) ; Mrs. A’Beckett (Free Kindergarten Union) ; Miss R. Evans (Emily
McPherson College of Domestic Economy ) ; Dr. John. Dale (Medical Representative); Mr. S. Grimes (Retail Dairymen’s Association); Mrs. Jelley (Associated State Schools’ Committee) ; Mrs. E. F. Harrison (Victorian Association of Creches).
The following report of the October meeting of the council appeared in the Melbourne Age of the 10th instant : -
The secretary, Mr.R. A. James, reported that since the last meeting of the council the distribution of milk to registered Catholic schools had ceased owing to the fact that the funds made available by the State Government for that purpose had been exhausted. No reply had yet been received from the Federal Minister of Health (Mr. W. M. Hughes) to the council’s application for a grant from the Federal Government.
Mr. James said that Mr. E. F. Harrison, M.P. was following the matter up on behalf of the council, and he understood that there was a reasonable prospect of the application being favorably considered. With the funds in sight the council should be able to continue present supplies to the end of the year without further curtailment. A further sum of£ 100 had been received from Dr. Maloney’s auxiliary appeal.
The City Health Officer (Dr. J. Dale) : It is a shame that the Catholic schools should be cut out. Some of the poorest children arc in the Catholic schools.
The Secretary: The council is still able to supply the kindergartens and creches, including Catholic ones, but not registered Catholic schools.
Dr. Dale: If the council continued providingmilk to Catholic registered schools, how much would be required?
The Secretary: The council would require £1,250 to continue the supply of milk to all the schools covered by this organization, but we have funds only sufficient to meet the present distribution policy. Some schools desire to start milk clubs, and if those are extended theywill require a fairly large amount of money.
Dr. Dale: I thinkwe should encourage the milk clubs and give the Catholic schools the same opportunity as others.
The acting chairman (Dr. H. N. Featonby) agreed that the council should endeavour to assist registered schools to establish milk clubs.
The secretary pointed out that milk for State schools was not provided through the council. At present the council had a credit balance of £294, but with funds to be received from the Government it would have between £400 and £500, or sufficient to carry on until the end of the year.
I have already said that in Russia two pints of milk are given to every child daily. Theconsumption of milk per capita is80 gallons in the United States of America, 50 gallons in Germany, 30 gallons in the United Kingdom, and less than 20 gallons in Australia. I hope that this Government will seriously investigate this matter. In this instance politics do not count. I recall that at one meeting which I addressed I was asked whether I proposed to speak on behalf of the Labour party, and I replied, “ I am speaking on behalf of humanity”. Every federal government which has been in power during my long political life is to blame for neglecting this matter. Not one has insisted that the first duty of a government should be to provide proper food, shelter and clothing, for every man, woman, and child in its domain. Having failed last session to secure the co-operation of honorable members in my appeal that this Government should assist in providing freemilk for school children I decided to devote the last recess to doing something tangible on my own initiative on behalf of unfortunate children who suffer through lack of proper food, and with that object in view I launched my “ free milk “ appeal in Melbourne. In the course of my work I visited slums in which I was confronted with harrowing pictures.I shall never forget the look of agony on the face of one woman. She had a child at her breast, another at her knee, and a third beside her, and on a diet of dry bread she was endeavouring to . make blood for herself and babe. I am glad that, due to the efforts of the Metropolitan Milk Council of Melbourne and myself, she has been able to secure supplies of milk for her children. I take this opportunity to pay a tribute to the work performed in connexion with this appeal by members of my committee, consisting of Mr. Charles Barrett (organizer), Miss Hardenack (treasurer), Mr. and Mrs. D.Roseman, Mrs. Carter and Mrs. Myra Maloney, and Mr.Josephs.
In his book, Milk and Health in Germany, Sir Alfred Wilson, M.P., says -
The emphasis on healthy bodies permeated every elementary school in Germany. Not the purse of the parent but the need of the child decided whether milk is to be given free.
I point out that the consumption of milk per capita in Germany is 50 gallons, compared with 26 gallons in New South Wales. In his book, Milk, Dr. Leslie Harris. Director of the Nutritional
Laboratories of the British Medical Research Council says -
Be extravagant with milk for children . . .
Any child who gets less than at least a pint of milk a day is not being given a fair chance.
I feel sure that honorable members have every sympathy with the welfare of our children, especially of the little ones, but somehow or other we are always met with the cry “ The budget has to be balanced “. But I say again “ The first consideration of this Government should be to provide proper food, shelter, and clothing for every man, woman and child in Australia ; let the budget look after itself “.
Honorable members will probably smile when I mention once again an infant which for the last 45 years I have been endeavouring to have registered. I refer to the referendum, initiative and recall. Even the Melbourne Argus, with its hundred eyes, has overlooked the fact that a motion which 1 submitted that the referendum and initiative should be embodied in the Commonwealth Constitution was carried unanimously in the Federal Parliament on the 25th March, 1920. It was part of that motion that its acceptance was to be an instruction to the Government of the day to bring in a bill to carry it into effect. Governments, however, will not obeysuch instructions unless it suits them to’ do so.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m. [Quorum formed.]
– In contradistinction to the treatment meted out to little children in the creches of Victoria, who are too young to attend school and therefore are unable to participate in the free distribution of milk made in the schools of that State, I direct attention to the treatment of mothers and children in Russia. In her booklet So this is Russia, Dr. Suzanne Abramovich explains that, following a holiday visit to Russia, she became so interested in what she saw there, that she obtained a position and remained nine months. Later, she wrote of what she saw. In an article dealing with women and children, Dr. Abramovich said that Russia stands on a pinnacle of civilization not yet reached by any other country. Some time ago I attended a meeting in the Melbourne Town Hall to listen to an address by a young man of about twenty years of age, whom I can only describe as the finest lecturer I have heard for twenty years. As a speaker I regard him as equal to the late Honorable Alfred Deakin. He- spoke logically and clearly, and for one hour and. twenty minutes interested an audience which filled every part of the immense hall. It was an experience I shall never forget. As the member for Melbourne in this Parliament, I had the honour to move a vote of thanks to the lecturer. Addressing the huge audience I said: “ Young Mr. Hogan has lectured 1,100 times, and has been welcome at every meeting. ‘ His future will be great, but not greater than I wish it to be “.
The Pocket Compendium of Australian Statistics for August, 1936, contains a great deal of information of value to the citizens of this country. It gives the private wealth of the people of Australia in 1929 as £3,351,000,000, an average of £526 for every man, woman and child in the community. I do not know why the Compendium does not give also the public wealth of Australia. However, I made some calculations which were checked by an accountant, and. subsequently by an actuary. Seeing that the private wealth of the people of Australia in 1915 was only £1,619,000,000, it is clear that in the following fourteen years, there was an increase of £1,732,000,000, an average of £123,000,000 a year. If we multiply that average by seven years -in order to bring the statistics up-to-date, we get another £S61,000,000 which, added to the £3,351,000,000 already given for 1929, gives the total private wealth of the people of Australia at the present time as £4,212,000,000. In my opinion it is only fair to take the public wealth also into account and it should not be unreasonable to value our railways, water conservation schemes, and other wealth, some of which is hidden beneath the soil, at one-half the private wealth, or £2,106,000,000. On that basis the total wealth of this country is £6,318,000,000, but it would be safe to say that it stands at £7,000,000,000, or about £1,000 for every person in the country. Yet notwithstanding that tremendous wealth, we continue to borrow in order to pay in- terest on money that the country had borrowed previously. So long as we continue that practice, we shall never repay the loans, especially when we are called upon to pay exchange on every pound sent overseas. There was a time when for every £100 sent to the United States of America Australia had to pay exchange amounting to £79; even to-day it costs £25 to send £100 to England. That is not right, particularly when this country has an almost unlimited source of wealth to draw upon. Old as I am, I hope that I shall live to see dividends paid on that wealth, so that every person in this country may live in reasonable comfort without there being any necessity to pay old-age pensions.
The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) spoke of the antiquated and inadequate general post office in Brisbane. I have to make a similar complaint. The “ tin shanty “ adjoining the Elizabeth-street Post Office, Melbourne, is a disgrace. On other occasions, I have compared that building to a tin can tied to the tail of a noble Newfoundland dog. “Were Sydney, Perth or Adelaide to have a galvanized iron structure alongside its principal post office, the people would demand its removal and the construction of a building more in keeping with the requirements of a modern city.
I hold in my hand a publication which the postal authorities do not permit to be sent through the post; yet it does not contain one paragraph that could be described as offensive. It merely tells the truth about Russia. It contains an article by Mr. D. N. Pritt, K.C., M.P., who is also chairman of the Howard League for Penal Reform in Great Britain, in which the writer gives the results of a great experiment in prison control, by which the prisoners manage themselves. The article deals also with the problem of homeless children, who, in the absence of proper training, are likely to become habitual thieves and criminals. As I have not the time to read the article to the committee, I ask permission to include it in Hansard.
Leave not granted.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The Treasurer (Mr. Casey) and the Government may justly be proud of the budget presented to this Parliament for it shows that Australia has progressed steadily during recent years. Trade and commerce within its borders are flourishing, industry is buoyant, unemployment has decreased, and generally the outlook i3 hopeful. These improved conditions are due to a variety of causes, chief among which is the restoration of confidence. A few years ago the general feeling was one- of hesitancy and fear; but with the return of confidence, there bas been a gradual development of industry. There are, however, other influences at work, and of these, better prices for export commodities are among the chief. Notable among those increases i« the better price now ruling for gold and metals generally. Unfortunately, prior to this year, the wheat-growers of Australia did not share the greater prosperity of other primary producers, but more recently their outlook also has brightened so far as values for export are concerned. The high price ruling for gold has given a wonderful fillip to gold mining and the industries associated with it. Assuming that I am right in claiming that for every man directly employed in a mine, five others are indirectly employed, it will be seen that greater activity in the mining industry has created employment in other directions also. Now that gold mining is profitable, there is no serious lack of capital for the development of mines. Moreover, people are being attracted to this country in order to develop its mineral resources. It is remarkable how an industry responds to economic conditions. Whereas an industry declines when conditions are such as to make profits almost impossible, so it flourishes when given encouragement along right lines. T wish to impress on honorable members and, indeed, upon all the people of the country, the importance of Australia’s export trade. In 1929-30, when Australia was in the throes of a depression, all sorts of reasons and excuses were given for the conditions then obtaining. It was generally accepted that the world was suffering from a depression, and that Australia was merely a sharer of the woes of the world. But had Australia been a self-contained country, as those who advocate the establishment of uneconomic industries would have . us believe it should be, surely it would, have escaped the depression. Immediately export values dropped, and the purchasing power of those associated with primary industries wa3 reduced, the manufacturers of Australia dismissed 114,000 of their workers.
– The same phenomenon was witnessed in the United States of America, which is more self-contained than is Australia.
– The collapse in the United States in 1930 was due to the competition with its primary and secondary exports in the world’s markets, and its failure to maintain a market for its secondary products. About 1929, the value of the exports from Australia was between £140,000,000 and £160,000,000. The credits which those exports established overseas enabled secondary industry to be carried on in this country. But when the drop took place to £10S,000,000 in 1931, there was a corresponding loss of purchasing power in tlie community; that undoubtedly was the cause of this collapse of trade and growth of unemployment. Although no one can question the necessity for the peopling of Australia with a view to its proper development, I contend that it would be absolutely criminal at the present time to urge people to come to this country to settle on the land. From 1920 to 1929, values in the wheat and wool industries were the highest that had beenexperienced at any period in the history of Australia. Yet at the first cold blast of low values, bankruptcy became almost general. Everywhere throughout the country one can see fences that are tumbling down, and other improvements that are in a state of disrepair. Having seen something of. the standard at which rural properties are maintained in the United Kingdom, I feel ashamed when I look at the homes in which the inhabitants of our country districts are compelled to live. Amongst other things the quite unnecessary duty on lighting plants occurs to my mind. The people on the land should have the comfort of electric light in the home, and the convenience of electric- power for their farming operations, but immediately these local plants began to be installed excessive duties were imposed. In’ addition to being deprived of such social amenities, they are further penalized because the price of everything that they have to purchase is doubled and trebled. Until towards the end of the last period of the present session I found myself in agreement with the Government, in respect of not only its handling of the finances, but also its attempt to reduce gradually the costs of production in Australia. I am not speaking *as a freetrader. In a young country like this, a little assistance in the establishment of secondary industries might be justified. But the result of the policy adopted has been to destroy everything in the nature of competition, which is the finest asset that any country could have. There has grown up a system of control which has enabled, not only the manufacturer, but also the retailer, to exploit both the worker and the producer by the continuous raising of prices. I have documents containing particulars of the operations of cartels in Great Britain and on the Continent. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is associated with the cartel in the iron and steel industry, and will supply only firms that are members of certain associations. A particular Complaint that I laid before the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) about twelve months ago was that Lysaghts and Rylands, not only fixed the wholesale price of their product, but actually had the impertinence to fix the retail price at which their clients could sell.
– That is what has been done in connexion with dried fruits.
– One wrong does not justify another. Because of the policy adopted in connexion with iron and steel and other secondary industries, action has had to be taken for the assistance of primary industries. The honorable member can see only one side of a question; he would continue to protect and develop secondary industries in the cities, hat would give no assistance to primary industries-. Under a policy of freetrade, there would be no need for the bounty system in connexion with butter, wheat and other primary products.
– Does the honorable member know that the aggregate amount of assistance given to primary industries in Australia is over £40,000,000 annually?
– I do not know it; nor does the honorable member.
– I can give chapter and verse
– Can greater stupidity be imagined than the continuance of a policy which would add to the cost of living and production an amount of £40,000,000 in connexion with primary industries, and of from £40,000,000 to £50,000,000 in connexion with secondary industries ?
Up to the close of the last period of the session, I was quite pleased with the policy of the Government. There had been a reduction of primage and customs duties had been reduced on a large number of British items. But the most extreme care must be exercised even in connexion with our trade with Great Britain. Although I have always been earnest in my desire to trade as far as possible with Great Britain, I realize that it is necessary to ensure that no agreements are made by its manufacturers which will allow of the exploitation of the people of Australia. Only a little while ago I received from Belgium a letter in which I was informed that my correspondent could quote a price’ for fencing wire, but not for rabbit netting, the Australian trade in which, it was said, had already been apportioned”. 1 suppose that arrangements had been made by certain manufacturers in Great Britain and on the continent, under which they would supply the requirements in a country such as Argentina leaving to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited the market in Australia and New Zealand. On the last day of the previous period of the session, the Government brought down proposals which have caused considerable excitement and, in the minds of many, dismay. I made a protest at the time against the methods adoptedI referred to the evasion of the constitutional provision for the holding of a session in each year in order to facilitate the operation of tariff schedules without parliamentary ratification-. I object to action in connexion with the tariff being taken without the authority of the Parliament. Further, the Tariff Board Act provides that the Minister shall not take action in respect of new, increased, or reduced duties until the matter has first been reported on by the Tariff Board. The extraordinary statement has been made publicly in the press by Senator Brennan that the Government is not bound by the laws of the Commonwealth. If that be so, why was this section specially embodied in the Tariff Board Act?
– I believe that that applies only to protective duties.
– Oh, no; the wording of the section is clear. It refers to now, increased, or reducedduties, without any qualification. For the last twelve months, the world has been on the edge of a precipice, and no one knew when war might be declared in Europe. Yet, at such a time, grievously offensive action was taken by the Commonwealth against two great countries which has imperilled the friendship previously existing between them and Australia. I do not know what caused this sudden change. It is not long since Sir John Latham led a goodwill mission to Japan. Minister after Minister has publicly pointed out the need for the pro- motion of friendly relations with that country and with the United States of America. Trade commissioners were appointed, and special efforts were made to develop our trade with Japan. Yet, when there was a promise of good results, the Government took the action to which I have referred. I draw attention to opinions expressed recently by two eminent economists who have always been friendly towards the present Government. Professor Copland is reported to have said -
Departure from the established procedure of open inquiry by the tariff board, danger that other countries may apply the same medicine to us, and shut out exports that we subsidize, and a resemblance to the mercantilist fallacies of 200 years ago, marred the new tariff and prohibition proposals.
The steps taken are sure to have far-reaching and perhaps unexpected results.
Undoubtedly, the action taken by the Government has had very unexpected and far-reaching results. Professor Giblin described the situation most effectively in these striking remarks: -
By this action the Government appears to have undone the good work in the past, to have destroyed the promising building it has been patiently erecting, and to have exposed the whole structure of our tariff policy to the vagaries of future political expediency, and the log-rolling of interested parties . . .
Apart from the principles involved, the most dangerous feature of the new policy is the threat to wool, on which our whole economy is based. Japanese imports are already subject to very severe customs duties, and this new savage discrimination against Japan can be expected to stir national resentment to a frenzied dance, whenever it suits the Japanese authorities to call the tune.
– Time often proves prophesies to be wrong.
– That may be so. Yet we know the intense nationalism of the Japanese people and how they may be led to view our action. Six months ago, at the invitation of the German consul in Victoria, I inspected samples of prints, tweeds and blanketing made from staple fibre.Action such as that recently taken against Japan is bound to lead to retaliation by that country, which will use every possible effort to discover substitutes for wool. Very little pure silk is sold to-day; artificial silk has almost entirely supplanted it. It has been found necessary to appeal to the wool-growers of Australia to provide funds for the purpose of advertising their product.
– What is the matter with wool prices to-day?
– They are fairly satisfactory, but they might have been better. It was unnecessary to put a nation like Japan on its mettle, and so encourage the utilization of fibre substitutes. If the Government took this action for the purpose of assisting Great Britain, what consultation, I should like to know, was held with the British authorities? It is not surprising that the Marquis of Hartingdon said that Australia’s action was a generous and unsolicited gesture. Was either New Zealand or South Africa asked to co-operate with Australia in tariff action against Japan? We have been sending trade commissioners to the Far East and to other countries because we need increased markets. It has been truly said that Australia lives on the sheep’s back. A cursory study of our exports shows the tremendous importance f our wool trade.
– The dependence f Western Australia upon the British markets is worth mentioning.
– The people of Western Australia recognize that, but the honorable gentleman apparently does not realize how many other markets he has destroyed. He is called the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties, but be ought to have been styled the Minister for trade wars. He has adopted a policy which has created friction between Australia and a. number of other countries.
– Cite the Western Australian figures, and admit the dependence of that State on the British markets.
– Western Australia ends to Great Britain annually produce to the value of between £10,000,000 and £12,000,000, and buys back goods to the value of only £2,000,000. Instead of being able to buy from Britain, the people of Western Australia are compelled to purchase the goods of Eastern countries. From the point of view of my State, the importance of freer trade with Europe, particularly with Britain, cannot be over-estimated, but owing to extreme tariff imposts, we are compelled tei buy from the East..
At one time, Australia enjoyed a fair amount of trade with France, Germany, and Italy, but this has been destroyed in order to serve the interests of certain sections in Melbourne and Sydney. We all know what deprived us of our trade with France. I cannot understand why the Government does not take a tariff lesson from Great Britain. It seems tn think that it is necessary to impose higher duties than those imposed by Great Britain itself. Some time ago it was found that large importations of cotton goods had been made into England. Foreign trade returns indicated that British imports of grey cotton cloth from Japan, negligible in previous years, had risen in 1935 to over 8,000,000 yards, which was ten times the quantity imported in 1934. The tariff press featured this fact as a proof of the futility of British tariffs and the inten sity of the Japanese “ invasion “. Inquiries made it clear that these Japanese cottons were not used in Great Britain, but were put through a finishing process, and then exported to the colonies as British manufactures, under preferential duties, and free from the quotas imposed at the bidding of Whitehall on similar foreign cottons. It is interesting to find that, while forbidding the natives in the colonies to obtain these goods direct from Japan, Great Britain was handling them at a profit, turning them into British goods, and thus evading the import duties and the quota restrictions which had been instituted in the colonies by a Whitehall ukase. In addition, we are now imposing higher duties on Japanese goods than Britain is imposing on them. We have deliberately offended Japan, and we cannot afford to do so. We have also deliberately prejudiced the United States of Amenca against, us. We have been encouraging business firms to come here from other countries. Numerous American companies have established works here. Is it intended, in one fell swoop, to sacrifice that business by giving a Minister power to say what goods may or may not be imported? I can understand the Minister asking the Parliament to approve of increased duties to protect either Australian or British industries.
– Will the honorable member explain why he supports this Government?
– If the honorable member’s party had its way, absolute embargoes would be placed on imports. I have been trying to show that the Government has been pursuing a policy which must bring ruin upon the country by building up huge cities at the expense of the primary producers.
It is now fifteen years since the economic committee of the League of Nations put forward the proposition that the nations of the world must either trade or fight with each other. Great statesmen have recently recognized that it is essential to bring the nations together in regard to both currency and trade matters; otherwise war is inevitable. In the past, the possession of colonies by Britain has excited little envy on the part of other nations, because they could trade freely with those colonies. Now the policy of the open door has been abandoned. Japan has been told that it must not sell to Ceylon or to the Malay States, and now it is being partially excluded from the Australian market. Japan will endeavour to wage war in China, and to destroy British and Australian trade there.
– Great Britain will take care of that.
– It may do so. I am pleased to know that within the last twelve months Great Britain has decided to strengthen its defences in order that it may be able to protect the interests of the Empire. The ultimate result of economic nationalism is not only loss of trade, but also the most extensive expenditure on armaments, without providing any security, because every nation which can do so enters into the rivalry, hastening the day when the horrors of war will again be upon the world. As I have pointed out many times during the last twelve moa tha, we have been on the edge of a precipice, never knowing the moment when some incident might occur which would again plunge the world into all the horrors of 1914-18. Yet, with a full knowledge of these risks, we throw to Japan a direct challenge to a trade war, and, also do our best to antagonize the United States of America and destroy our friendship with that great- country. Many honorable members realize how false and dangerous is the policy upon which Ave have embarked. It needs a full measure of courage to oppose the Government, which by peculiar propaganda has induced the people to believe that in this policy it is actuated by a desire to build up trade within the Empire. Propaganda has been issued by the Government which casts reflection on the loyalty of those who differ from it. I give way to no one in loyalty to the King and the Empire and in a desire to trade honestly and justly with Great Britain, but we have a duty to ourselves and to this country to consider seriously the present position. For over four months Ave have been asked to hold our tongues in regard to this matter. This is the first time that I have spoken either in Parliament or outside of it in regard to the trade diversion policy.
I say now that I view with the gravest fear the action which the Government has taken. I cannot conceive for a single moment that what has been done has been done in the interests of Great Britain. We are told that the Government’s object has been to protect British interests; but, in attempting to do so in one direction, it has destroyed them in another. While protesting that Ave Avant to buy more British goods, we have told the British people that in two or three years
Ave shall be manufacturing all the 1110 i OI cars that Australia needs. That is the greatest piece of absurdity of which I have ever heard and the sooner we know what interests are behind these proposals the better shall Ave be able to expose them.
– I feel justified in joining in the chorus of praise for the excellent budget which the Lyons Government has produced for the third time in succession. While I arn quite ready to praise the Government for the good work it has done during the last few years, certain aspects of the budget require some deeper criticism of a friendly nature than they have yet received. In my opinion, toe little attention has been paid during this debate to the financial position of the States. When Ave study the budget closely, and make allowance for all the good points in it - and there is no doubt that it is a veritable Cornucopia - it must be apparent to all honorable members that, whilst the Commonwealth has bees, enjoying the bulk of good things, the States have been having a greater struggle to make ends meet than at any time since federation. The discussion on the bills granting financial assistance to the States Wa,s confined mainly to the affairs of the three so-called weaker States. What Ave have to consider is the actual economic position of all the States at the present time, and that is summed up on page 9 of the budget speech in a paragraph setting out the reason why the Government decided to reduce taxation rather than increase the financial grants to the States. The paragraph reads -
The Government was faced with selecting one or other of two simple alternatives - either to reduce both direct and indirect taxation to the full extent that was possible, consistent with our obligations, or to make some appreciably lesser taxation reductions and to make increased money grants to the States. Of these two alternatives, the Government is confident that, in presenting a budget providing for substantial remissions’ of taxation, it is acting in the best interests of Australia as a whole.
I dispute that very strongly. Anybody who has studied the economic position of Australia during the last few years, and who has any knowledge of the financial position of the States to-day, cannot possibly agree with that rather feeble excuse advanced by the Commonwealth. The next paragraph reads -
Notwithstanding the increased sum of £1,330,000 required from revenue for the development of defence, and the growing, cost of old-age pensions, the budget provides for remission of taxation to the extent of £5,275.000 in a full year, and for other expenditure proposals costing £1,235,000 in a full year.
For its action in remitting taxes the Commonwealth has received loud praise from all over Australia, but not from the State Governments. When we examine the position closely we must realize that the States have not had a- fair deal from the Commonwealth this year. I know it is a matter of studied policy on the part of the Commonwealth to reduce taxation, but I submit that the States are more entitled to considerably increased financial assistance not only this year, but also in future years, than present Commonwealth policy seems to postulate. Although Commonwealth finances are remarkably healthy, the actual position of the States during the last few years has left much to be desired. In this budget we learn that there has been a net increase of the public debt of Australia during the period 1932 to 1936 of approximately £68,000,000, or £17,000,000 a year. The bulk of that new debt, however, has been incurred by the States. We all know, however, that the States could not have financed themselves over the depression period without borrowing freely. It appears that they will have to continue to borrow in the future. The aggregate result of all the government budgets for Australia in 1935-36 is a surplus of £1,137,000. That is due entirely to the fact that the Commonwealth had a surplus of £3,600,000. Actually, in 1935-36, State deficits totalled £2,430,000. We see, therefore, that while the Commonwealth finances were in a remarkably sound position, and although the financial position of the States has improved to a wonderful degree during the last four years, the aggregate deficit of the States at the close of last financial year was £2,430,000. Yet it was said that in that year prosperity had almost completely returned to Australia. I cannot see how the States are ever to achieve a surplus of any consequence when they have to continue to impose on their people such an enormous weight of taxation. The actual financial position of the States is very well summarized in the September issue of the Monthly Summary of Australian Conditions, published by the National Bank of Australasia Limited. In an article dealing with the Premiers Conference this paragraph occurs -
The States show progress in their accounts, hut four of them report deficits for last year, while the surpluses shown by the other two are relatively small. Their governments are being subjected to pressure from the electors to reduce emergency taxation, imposed during the earlier part of the depression period. They contrast their positions with the large surpluses shown by the Federal Treasury, arid, as a means of reducing their own rates of taxation, seek for further aid in various forms from the Federal Government. In reply to the financial proposals submitted to the conference on behalf of the States, th« Prime Minister, Mr. Lyons, pointed OUt that the amount of taxation revenue available to the States had increased greatly since 1930, while the amount available to the Commonwealth was little altered. The movements axe indicated in the following table: -
Allowing for the grants to the States, excluding non-recurring grants and giants to industries, the position is that whereas the net taxation revenue available to the Commonwealth increased from £35,128,000 to £44,972,000 during the 15-year period 1920 to 1935, the total taxation revenue available to the States increased from £21,199,000 to £50,205,000. The increases were £10,000,000 for the Commonwealth and £29,000,000 for the States. The Commonwealth, with its vast and elastic sources of revenue, which may be down one year but up again during the following year to amounts beyond the dreams of avarice, is able to budget with some confidence from year to year, to reduce taxation, to restore emergency reductions, to make all sorts of grants by way of bounties, and to increase its expenditure generally in whatever direction it chooses, whereas the States are not able to reduce taxation to any extent. In an effort to maintain solvency they are compelled to impose more than double the taxation imposed in 1920, but are still unable to balance their budgets. The Government of New South Wales is resorting to all kinds of shifts, the chief of which are the retention of emergency taxation, and the refusal to restore the salaries and wages of its employees. I do not think that this Parliament is taking sufficient cognizance of the difficulties, not only of the three claimant States, but of all the States. It is not fair that State governments should have to struggle along in a position of financial dependence, due to the overwhelmingly strong position occupied by the Commonwealth. New South Wales, which is supposed to be the financial keystone of the Commonwealth, has made a marvellous recovery during the last four years. It started off at the beginning of that period with a deficit of £14,000,000, and hopes this year to balance its budget, but this result has been achieved only by the imposition of crushingly heavy taxation, including the burdensome wage tax of ls. in the £1. The Government of New South Wales has not been able to emulate the example of the Commonwealth Government, and completely restore all emergency reductions, including that of parliamentary allowances. The fact that Commonwealth public servants have had all reductions restored, with the exception of the cost, of living reduction, has greatly aggravated the political position in New South Wales, and may lead to a change of government, even though the majority of people are well enough content with tha one at present in office. The Government of New South Wales is coming in for a great deal of adverse criticism mainly because it, in common with the other State governments, is suffering bocause of the dominant financial position achieved by the Commonwealth. There is no doubt that a financial crisis between the States and the Commonwealth is looming, and something should be done without delay to avert it.
I know it is the habit of Ministers, when criticized, to turn to their critics and say, “What do you suggest?” It is obvious from a perusal of the budget that the Government made one big blunder; only one, but it was just about the biggest it could make. If, instead of making a foolish and unnecessary gesture to the business community by reducing the 3alc3 tax, it had made special grants to all the States for the relief of unemployment, or had handed over to them the whole of the proceeds of the petrol tax, it would have gone a long way towards solving the financial difficulties of the States. This petrol tax has grown info a big political issue in New South Wales. All local bodies throughout Australia have, for some years past, been agitating for a greater share of the proceeds of this tax. The tax was first imposed by the Commonwealth Government as a heaven-sent method by which to assist local governing bodies to keep their roads in a condition suitable to the needs of motor traffic. Very soon, however, mainly owing to the financial depression, this easy method of raising money for local bodies was used to raise revenue for the Commonwealth Government itself. According to the latest figures available the petrol tax last year produced £7,277,748 from customs duty, of which £2,557,630 was handed over to the States for road construction and maintenance. In addition to the customs revenue, excise duties yielded £630.644, of which £l79,269 was allocated to the States. Primage duty yielded a further £379,000, but it is not known what proportion of that was given to the States. Roughly, therefore *3000,000 out of a total of nearly £8,000,000 collected on petrol tax was handed to the States for expenditure on roads. Now the Commonwealth proposes to increase the allocation, but its gesture is inadequate. At the last Premiers Conference the Prime Minister announced that the Commonwealth would increase by 20 per cent, the amount made available to the States from the proceeds of the petrol tax, bringing the total allocation up to about £3,600,000 for a full year. The point is, however, that the amount raised by the petrol tax is increasing each year, so that, even under the new system of allocation, the Commonwealth will still retain for itself about £5,000,000. Members of this Parliament never have an opportunity to make suggestions regarding the budget miti] after it has been presented, and then it is too late. Had such an opportunity been afforded we might have been able to make out a case for the handing over to the States of the total proceeds of the petrol tax. Only the other day, when I was discussing this matter with a member of the Government of New South Wales, he informed me that, had the Commonwealth Government doubled its grant to the States from the proceeds of the petrol tax,’ it would have gone a great way towards solving that State’s financial problems.
– If the extra money was spent on road construction it would not, ease the budgetary position of the States.
– I do not suggest that it would solve all their financial problems, but it would help them considerably to cope with the problem of unemployment. This is still largely a State matter, and the States must find some way of getting the men off the dole, and back into full-time employment. How it is to be done in New South Wales I do not know, and it will be interesting to see how Mr. Stevens deals with it in the budget. At the present time, the difficulty appears to be insuperable. As I have said, much could have been done by the Commonwealth to help in the solution of this problem if it had made a special grant to the States for employment purposes, instead of remitting over £3,00.0,000 of tax to the business community, when the remissions were not specially asked for, and will not be passed on. If the Commonwealth were to hand over to the States the total proceeds of the petrol tax it would help the State governments out of their difficulties, and those who pay the petrol tax would be satisfied. At the present time, they are very discontented, because they know that while they are being “ slugged “, the greater part of the money raised by this tax is not (being spent on roads. Apart from the main highways, the roads in Australia are not particularly good, and need more money expended on them. The shires have not the revenue to do the work. When the States were required to subsidize £1 for £1 the Commonwealth grant from the proceeds of the petrol tax, the shires were comparatively well off, but when that condition was lifted the shires immediately found themselves in difficulties. They have been crying out for money, which they have not been able to get. While it may be too late to deal with this matter this year, I trust that the Commonwealth Government will give serious consideration in the next budget, not so much to remissions of taxes -which are not desired by the business community, as to relief to the States, which will help them in solving the problem of unemployment. If that course had been adopted this year the budget would still have been a good one, and the general community could not have made any complaint against the Commonwealth for not remitting £3,000,000 of sales tax, as we should not be keeping the money but would be handing it over to the States. Therefore, no odium would have attached to this Parliament. I hope that this aspect will be taken into consideration by the Government in the presentation of the next budget. I dispute totally the contention made in this House that the Government was bound to reduce the sales tax as it was a most burdensome tax and, perhaps, the most unpopular one ever’ imposed on the people of Australia. I have seen the sales tax in operation, and I believe that the great majority of the people are totally indifferent to it. Indeed, it is the best means of painless extraction yet devised. The only people who squeal about it are the luxury spenders. I have no sympathy for the man who spends £500 on a motor car and has to pay 5 per cent, by way of sales tax.
– The same argument applies to the system of protection.
-That is so. The more money one spends in bulk, the more money one has to pay in sales tax. No statistical evidence can be adduced to prove that the weight of this tax bears harshly on the small wage earners of Australia. The Treasurer himself admitted that the weight of the tax was only a penny a day on the lower-paid persons, and produced some statistical evidence proving conclusively that the weight of the tax is insignificant on the great bulk of the population. The small men have never complained about it. Certain alleged organizations of taxpayers employ men at big salaries to draw up petitions condemning the tax, but the great majority of those who sign the petitions do not know what they are about. They approach the local member in search of information; they do not know in what way it is hurting them. The Government should not be stampeded into the abolition of this tax, which we know has been a valuable factor in restoring the economy of Australia. Without it we should have had an enormous load of direct taxation which the people could not have carried. I give credit to the Scullin Government that, when the circumstances demanded, it had the courage to impose the sales tax, which had more todo with restoring the financial stability of Australia than has anything done by another government, Commonwealth or State. This Government will have cause for regret, if it is stampeded into abolishing this tax. Once it has been taken off and the organization for collecting it has been destroyed, it will be difficult to impose it again. Every business to-day is so organized that it isable to take in its stride the accountancy system which the tax involves. As a matter of fact, it has provided employment for a certain class of men. The tax returns present no difficulty whatever, and I am speaking on this subject with the authority of a person who is closely associated with a business in which the sales tax returns are most complicated. If the agitation for the removal of the tax continues we should demand to know on what grounds the agitation is based.
– It is a poor man’s tax.
– On the contrary it is a rich man’s tax. The honorable members forRiverina and Barton cannot prove either by argument or with figures that it is a poor man’s tax. If ever there was a tax which hits the rich it is the sales tax. That is easily demonstrable. The Treasurer himself proved it so. Honorable members heard his statement that it represents a penny a day on the small wage earner. I am a strong advocate of the retention of the sales tax as an essential part of the financial system. There is no necessity for it to be removed.
– The honorable member is always advocating the removal of the land tax.
– That tax represents another direction in which we could help the States. Sixty per cent. of the tax is paid by people in urban areas, notably the great cities of the Commonwealth. As a political instrument designed to bring about subdivision of large estates, it has been an absolute failure. The fact that the Commonwealth is still in this taxation field is preventing a State like New South Wales from imposing a land tax if it should feel inclined to do so. At present the Commonwealth land tax is negligible as a revenueproducer, and the Commonwealth should evacuate the field in favour of the States. It is not that we want to relieve the big city owners - they can well afford to pay the tax out of the hugeunearned increment from their properties - but let the States impose it, and get anything they can outof the land which belongs to them. Land taxation is an illegitimate field for Commonwealth taxation, and I hope that in presenting the next budget the Commonwealth will not be deterred from departing from it by the cry that it is making a gesture to the bloated land-owners.
– The taxpayer will not be grateful to the Commonwealth if it takes off a small tax in order to enable the States to impose a large one.
– The field of land taxation belongs to the States. That is generally recognized. It was imposed by the Commonwealth for political purposes, which it has failed to achieve.
The Minister inCharge of War Service Homes (Mr. Hunter), in answer to a question asked by me in this House recently, gave most honorable members a surprise when he said that no further applications for war service homes would be accepted as from the 31st May of this year. That was news to me, and I think to other honorable members, but I find in the latest report of the War Service Homes Commission a specific statement. As a matter of policy it was decided that further applications for the erection of homes would not be accepted after the end of May, 1936. With all respect to the Minister whom I am not criticizing, because he was only recently promoted to the position, I question the right of the Government to decide on such a step without consulting Parliament.
– A public announcement was made.
– A public announcement does not constitute consultation of this Parliament. There are men in my electorate who for many years have been seeking war service homes, which, I have told them, they must eventually get.
– It is not worth while to continuebuilding war service homes under the present terms.
– That is not so. Men are anxious to get them. TheWar Service Homes branch has been an outstanding success.
– Are there any applications in the department?
– More than 37,000 war service homes have been built and the. amount of loss, when compared with the tremendous amount of outlay, is small. The percentage of arrears is only 4.78. It is generally admitted that of all the services which this Government has undertaken and managed well, the war service home undertaking is the best. Nine out of every ten men, whether they be returned soldiers or not, want their own homes. During the depression, of course, many wanted to get out of houses, but now that conditions are improving and they have work they want their homes. I totally disagree with the statement of the Minister that the men wanting homes are now so old that they will be more than 100 years of age before they can pay for them. That is an exaggeration. I know many comparatively young men who are anxious to become owners of war service -homes. It is a very serious thing for the Government, after having provided more than 37,000 war service homes, to reverse its policy, and say that no more shall be built.
– Only 10 per cent. of the returned men have been provided with homes.
– Yes. Those who have not got homes are as much entitled to them as are the men already provided for. The annual report of the commission shows that the rentals charged for the homes are returning a good profit. This is a safe proposition, and it is bad business for the Government to close the door on the returned men who desire to take advantage of the facilities provided by the War Service Homes Commission. I do not know how to face the men in my electorate whom for years I have been telling that they will get their homes sooner or later. I shall blame the Government and shall say to those men, “ We have been let down “. The Government has failed in its duty by adopting this policy without consulting either the parties or Parliament. ‘ I for one shall not agree to the discontinuance of the erection of war service homes, and I trust other honorable members will support me. Every man who went to the war should be entitled to get a home if he wants one.
I had proposed to speak on the censorship question, but I shall reserve my remarks on that for a future occasion. I approve of the budget in general. The Treasurer has handled the job capably and has dealt with some stupendous problems in a way which is pleasing to all sides of the House. I disagree with the reduction of the sales tax receipts by £3,000,000, with the small proportion of the petrol tax revenue that has been granted to the States, and also with the. Government’s policy regarding war service homes, but, as I said at the outset, the budget is a good piece of work and 90per cent. of it has my approval.
.- It is with considerable pleasure that I join with other honorable members in con- gratulating the Government on the budget which has been presented by the Treasurer (Mr. Casey). It provides eloquent testimony of the substantial improvement which has taken place under the administration of the Lyons Government, and provides convincing evidence, if any be needed, that the financial policy adopted by the Government has by its fruits been proved worth while. Because I am in almost complete agreement with the financial statement submitted by the Treasurer, 1 do not propose to traverse, even in a cursory manner, the whole range of the budget proposals. I shall deal only with two specific subjects.
The first is that of the employment of youths. The general question of employment has at all times been in the forefront of Government policy, and was em- .phasized by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) in his policy speech delivered in August of 1934 prior to the last general election. On that occasion the Prime Minister stated -
The Government proposes that practical and enlarged efforts to relieve unemployment, with particular reference to the needs of youths-
I emphasize that phrase-T will take precedence over other Commonwealth activities A conference with the State governments will be summoned. Our aim will bc to handle the problem upon a national, as well as a State and municipal basis. Instructions have been given for the assembling of all the information directly accessible to the Commonwealth. This information will be supplemented by a swift and detailed survey of all that has been, and is being, done by the States, and, in the light of the complete information, comprehensive co-operative planning between the Commonwealth and State Governments will follow.
Looking at the general employment position we find that there has been a substantial measure of improvement during the administration of the Lyons Government. The trade union registrations for the second-quarter of 1936,- the latest figures available, show that the proportion of unemployed at that period was 12.8 per cent., whereas for the second-quarter of 1932 it was 30 per cent., and for the corresponding period of 1935, 17.8 per cent. The reduction in the last twelve months represents the biggest proportionate decrease of unemployment registration recorded since the beginning of the depression. These are figures which call for favorable comment from all sections of the community, because they clearly show a substantial measure of improvement in employment. The fact that the number of factory employees has increased to the record figure of 483,000 provides further evidence of substantial improvement. But if we consider the employment of the youths of the community we do not find anything approaching the same satisfactory state of affairs.
– And for which there are no records.
– I am just coming to the point raised by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan). It is disgraceful to find that, although accurate information is recorded concerning the number of cows and pigs in the Commonwealth, there is no official record of the number of young men and women out- of work. The latest figures I have been able to oBtain showing the extent of this problem on a Commonwealth basis are those found in the census of 1933, which showed that, at that time, of 173,000 boys and young men between the ages of 14 and 24, there were 79,000, or 45 per cent., who were not then in full-time work, and 43,000 were unemployed. In other words, one youth in every four was idle at that time.
– How many were seeking work ?
– The figures I have given cover, I understand, those who had left school and were unemployed at that time. The interjection of the honorable member strengthens my previous suggestion that it is a matter which calls for adverse comment, when we find that there is no accurate information of the extent of this problem in our midst. We are, therefore, compelled to take the figures compiled on a world basis. Henri Fuss, the director at the International Labour Office, in his report of 1935 stated -
More than 6,000,000 young people between the age of fourteen and 25 are unemployed to-day, while others, probably numbering double this figure, are only temporarily employed and therefore experience more or less severely the dangerous consequences of such unemployment.
If in those countries where a high “ standard of Western education and culture prevails- there are more than 6,000,000 hopelessly out of work social waste results. To bring the matter closer home, I refer to the report presented by the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) who attended the International Labour Conference in 1935 as the delegate for the Commonwealth. Under the heading of “ Employment for Youths “, the honorable member said -
As in Australia, I found this phase of thu problem provoking great concern in all countries. At the Geneva Conference a striking demonstration ensued when representatives of youth organizations from all parts of the world were received by the conference to whom oral appeals were made, backed up by petitions containing hundreds of thousands of signatures, asking that special consideration bc given to the plight of 7,000,000 unemployed youths.
He then referred to the recommendations submitted to thu full conference by which they were unanimously adopted.
– I am glad that the honorable member has read that report; I am afraid that some of the members of the Government have not.
– It. is a valuable document. If. we need further proof of the information I am submitting, I direct the attention of honorable members to the fact that last week the .adjournment of the Victorian Parliament was moved to consider this subject, and the interest displayed by honorable members generally was so keen that on two occasions the time provided under the Standing Orders was extended to enable the subject to bo fully debated. A perusual of the speeches on that occasion shows that the problem in Victoria is a real one. From the information I have gathered by contact with others interested in this subject, and particularly from representatives of Boys Employment Movements, I have ascertained that the position is acute in all parts of the Commonwealth. The closest estimate which the secretary of the Boya Employment Movement can make of the position in Victoria is that at present there are approximately 10,000 young men between the age-s. of 18 and 23 unemployed. It is those who are within this age range who present the most serious phase of the problem. These youths may be termed, as they have been, the “debris o1 tSe depression.” -Many of them left school at the commencement of the degression, and have been unable to obtain regular employment since then. To remedy the position, the suggestion which has commanded the greatest amount of support is a system of industrial repatriation or vocational rehabilitation, as some term it, similar to that put into force after the .war for returned soldiers. Honorable members will recall that, after the termination of the Great War, men who returned from overseas, and who had naturally not received the same skilled training as had those who remained at home, consequently found themselves at a disadvantage when setting out in life. The Commonwealth Government formulated and put into operation a scheme whereby these men were given employment, wages being paid by employers on an efficiency basis, the balance being made up to the men >by the Commonwealth Government. Assessors were paid to examine the work of the men every three months, and as the work of the men improved and they reached a normal standard, the contributions by the Commonwealth ceased. The youths to whom I refer deserve special consideration along these lines. At present they are unskilled because they have never had regular employment, and are unable to compete with lads who are even two or three years younger. In many instances, they have become demoralized, and have neither the opportunity nor the inclination to engage in skilled work of any kind. Those who have investigated the problem contend that some such scheme of industrial repatriation should be put into operation.
The second suggestion is that occupational centres should be established throughout the Commonwealth similar to those at present operating at Geelong and Ballarat., where vocational guidance and some skilled training are given, and social activities are provided which prevent the youths from wasting their time.
Honorable members who have shown their interest in this problem by their discussion of it during the budget debate, have not made any concrete suggestions as to how it can be solved. The problem falls into two divisions. The first comprises those youths whom I have mentioned and whose condition is directly the product of the depression. The second division comprises a long-range problem of youth employment arising out of the greater industrialization that has taken place. That is the problem with which I now propose to deal.
The honorable member for Denison (Mr.Mahoney) stated inaccurately that youths now leaving school were compelled to walk the streets because they were unable to find work. That is totally incorrect, because there is no shortage of work for the youths now leaving school; in fact, there is not a sufficient number of them to satisfy present demands. I was informed that an employer who advertised only this week for boys about fourteen or fifteen years of age received only two applications. The immediate problem is to find employment for those between 18 and 33, but consideration should also be given to the long-range problem. Inside the juvenile unemployed groups various phenomena may be noticed. In most countries those leaving school each year between the ages of fourteen and. sixteen are least affected. Occasional work, messenger jobs, and such like, as well as apprenticeships, supply occupation for a great part of the juveniles on leaving school, but this is principally only of a temporary nature. The real crisis begins later, the first of these after the age of seventeen or eighteen, and the second after the age of
To meet the general problem of the employment of youths, certain recommendations were made at the International Labour Conference which was attended by the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart). One of them was -
The minimum age for leaving school and being admitted to employment should be fixed at not less than fifteen years as soon as circumstances allow.
Steps have already been taken in many countries to raise the school-leaving age to fifteen years, but thatis only the beginning of the solution of the problem, because it, is apparent that education of a “ white collar “ character is neither necessary nor desirable for many boys beyond the ago of fourteen years. What they really require is training of a skilled technical character, and the modern tendency is to include a course of technical training in the curriculum for boys beyond the stage of primary education. In Great Britain this practice is now being followed, and in accordance with the Unemployment Act of 1934, juveniles who are no longer in full-time attendance at school are required, until they reach the age of eighteen years, to attend continuation courses providing both general and vocational education. That was one of the recommendations which was made by the International Labour Conference of 1935, but the scheme had previously been put into operation by the British Government. I, therefore, see no practical reason why it should not be adopted by the Commonwealth and our State governments. Another recommendation which was made by the Conference was -
Vocational training centres, in which some provision is made for general education, should be organized for unemployed persons between the ages of IS and 25 in co-operation with employers’ and workers’ organizations.
L do not desire to labour this subject unduly or to harrow the committee by painting a picture of the eventual social consequences upon the future citizens of this country of a period of disillusionment and despair arising from lack of employment. Nor shall I deal at length with the disadvantage that many youths will carry throughout their life because they were not given an early start in employment. I want the Government to recognize that such criticism as I have to offer to-night in this respect is of a constructive character. I shall conclude my remarks on this particular subject by making certain suggestions. In view of the importance of the employment of youths throughout the Commonwealth, specific reference to which was made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) in his policy speech of 1934, and the fact that no practical plan has been evolved during the five years of the depression by any government to meet this problem, I ask that this matter be considered as a specific subject by the Commonwealth Government. If it will do that, I ask it to consider the matter along certain defined lines. First. it should give attention to the advisability of taking a census throughout the Commonwealth in order to discover the extent of unemployment among youths. Such a suggestion has already been made by the Boys’ Employment Movement in Victoria to the Government of that State, and at the present time it is receiving consideration. [Quorum formed.] The object of such a census would be to ascertain the number of unemployed youths between the ages of IS and 25 years and the number in that range who are in “ dead-end “ occupations. My second suggestion is that the conference between the Commonwealth and State Governments, which the Prime Minister stated in his policy speech would be held, should be summoned. A Commonwealth Minister in conference with the Ministers for Labour of the various States should consider the subject-matter in the two divisions which I mentioned earlier, including the particular class of those youths between the ages of 18 and 24 years who can be described as the “ debris of the depression”. These are lads who never had the chance in life to which they are entitled, and specific measures should be followed in order to give them that chance.
– I do not like the phrase, “debris of the depression”.
– I do not think that the youths themselves fancy it, but the phrase sums up the position of the big majority of them. I do not claim any originality for the suggestions which I have made, because they have been put forward by the organization to which I have previously referred. I would further ask the conference of Ministers to consider the general problem of the employment of youths, which arises from the greater industrialization that has taken place, and the replacement of men by women in many “ white collar “ occupations, especially in insurance companies, banks and similar business undertakings. That conference of Ministers should also consider the school-leaving age, and school training in the post primary period of education, as nas been done in Great Britain. In regard to technical education a conference has already been held this year between the Prime Minister and the Ministers for Education of the various States. On that occasion the Minister for Education of New South Wales, Mr. Drummond, when dealing with the value of adequate facilities for technical education as a prime factor in the employment of youths, said -
No subject is of greater concern to all responsible public men to-day than the achievement of satisfactory and permanent employment of youth. The contribution which an adequate system of technical education can make to the solution of this problem is difficult to over-estimate. Its value is stressed by the New South Wales Commission on Technical Education on page 11 of its report, as follows : -
The problem of unemployed boys and girls who have received super-primary, or a partial super-primary education, is acute, and their absorption into industry is a vital matter. Failure to provide occupation, if riot profitable employment, . will lead to a mental and moral degradation which may place upon the community the burden of an army of unemployables.
That statement sums up’ far more adequately than I could do, . the problem which ia presented, not only to the governments of the various States, but also to the Commonwealth Government and the people of Australia as a whole. I sincerely trust that the suggestions which I have made both to-night and at various times during this year, will receive the earnest consideration of the Government.
The second matter to which I wish to make some reference to-night is the general subject of health in Australia. At the present time we are credited with being the second healthiest people in the world, being inferior only to New Zealand. The physique and stamina of the Australian Imperial Force were a demonstration’ of the quality of manhood that Australia can produce, but at the same time, we have to face many deficiencies in this respect. Of those men who tried to enlist during the war, 34 per cent, were rejected as being medically unfit, and another 14 per cent, of those who were accepted eventually proved unfit for active service. With a population of less than 7,000,000, we find that more than 80,000 persons are receiving the invalid pension. In other words, there are 80,000 persons who have been able to show to the satisfaction of the Commonwealth authorities that, as the result of their physical condition, they are permanently and totally incapacitated from doing any work. In nutrition the Commonwealth is notably backward. The report of the Commonwealth Nutrition Committee a few months ago stated -
While there ia no evidence of gross undernourishment here, the inquiries which are still proceeding suggest so far that the amount spent on food is insufficient.
That report definitely indicated that there are many deficiencies in our diet, and it must be recognized that they are responsible for much of the ill-health of the community. The committee pointed out that we did not eat enough fish, fruit and the internal organs of animals, and that wc should drink far more milk. The honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) has already made mention today of the necessity and importance of an adequate milk diet for the young boys and girls of the Commonwealth. The consumption of milk in Australia a head of the population is lower than that of Great Britain, and is not one-half of that of the United States of America. 1 therefore hope that when the Nutrition Committee completes its inquiries, it will inaugurate a public campaign to educate people in the choice of a proper diet, along the lines of its conclusions.
By a question upon notice recently, 1 asked the Minister for Health (Mr. Hughes) whether, in view of the fact that the Government of New Zealand proposed to conduct an annual medical examination of the citizens of that dominion, it would be practicable to conduct a similar examination at some regular period throughout the Commonwealth in order that preventable diseases might be discovered earlier than they are at the present time. I had in mind the fact that, particularly in regard to young people, we do not have an adequate check of such diseases. [Quorum formed.’]
It is pleasing to note that as the result of the call for a quorum by the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney), the number of members of the Opposition showing an interest in this discussion on employment and public health has increased from two to three. That is a fair indication of the interest that honorable gentlemen opposite are taking in the budget debate. One can readily appreciate, of course, that the deservedly favorable comment on the budget made by the Government supporters must be distasteful to the Opposition members, who will subsequently have to discuss this budget in the presence of their constituents.
I was about to remark when the call was made for a quorum that formerly the health of the youth of Australia at least was under some supervision, for under the universal military training system that was in vogue a few years ago all the young men called up for service were medically examined. Even at that time the figures were sufficiently startling to attract attention to this important subject, for 30 per cent, of the prospective trainees were so physically unfit as to be unable to do the comparatively mild training that was required of them. In these circumstances a general medical examination is eminently desirable. In replying to my question the Minister read an opinion by the Director-General of
Health, in the course of which that public officer observed : -
In my opinion such annual examination, while it would provide a great deal of useful information, would offer in the end little practical result, unless full machinery were established requiring subsequential action in any case in which treatment was necessary to remove detected defects. It may, of course, be assumed that, in some cases, removal of defects would be voluntary, but from experience of school children it may also be assumed that the percentage of such voluntary’ rectification would not be large.
Therefore, if the proposal is adopted and logically pursued, it involves a full scheme of examination and treatment of an extended kind, associated with very heavy expense.
The right honorable gentleman also cited an opinion which the Under-Secretary of the Department of Public Health in New South Wales furnished on the subject to the State Premier in 1934, when a proposal for a general health examination of Australian youth was under consideration. That officer reported : -
Experience in the medical examination of school children has shown that it is often difficult to persuade parents to have physical defects remedied, and this difficulty would probably be enormously amplified should such a nation-wide medical review be undertaken. Any attempt at compulsion would probably be vigorously resisted by certain sections of the community, which would add tremendously to the cost.
Finally, it may be stated that existing State resources would be inadequate, to cope with an undertaking of such magnitude without, preliminary costly organization, which even if otherwise feasible, would be of prohibitive cost in a time of economic stress.
– I call attention to the state of the committee.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).The Chair * does not propose to take notice of the honorable gentleman’s call, seeing that it is only a few minutes since the committee was counted. I may add for the information of the honorable gentleman that the Chair overheard one of his colleagues asking others to leave the chamber in order that attention could be called to the state of the committee.
– I rise to order. I submit that the Chair is obliged to take notice of an honorable member when he directs attention to the state of the committee.
– The Chair is obliged to consider all disorderly conduct that occurs within the chamber, and it distinctly heard an honorable member of the Opposition request some of his colleagues to leave the chamber in’ order that attention might be called to the state of the committee. It is only five minutes since the committee was counted and the bells were rung for a quorum. It occurs to the Chair that steps are being taken unduly and unreasonably to hamper the work of the committee.
– I again rise to order. The question of whether an honorable member is guilty of disorderly conduct or not has no relevance to the question of whether a quorum is present. If any honorable member is disorderly it is within the discretion of the Chair to take steps to deal with him under the appropriate standing order, but the standing order dealing with that subject is distinct from that which deals with the subject of quorums.
– Technically, the Loader of the Opposition is, doubtless, correct, but apparently an attempt is being made to hamper the work of the committee, and in the circumstances I do not think that the Leader of the Opposition should object to the attitude that the Chair is taking. However, I shall have the bells rung. [Quorum formed.’)
– The objections raised by the Director-General of Health and the Premier of New South Wales to the regular medical examination of our citizens rested largely on the expense involved. No suggestion was made that such examinations would fail to disclose serious physical defects. It was simply said that when, in other circumstances, defects were disclosed by medical examinations, neither the persons concerned nor their parents had taken any steps, to apply remedies, and that it would involve the Government in an expense of considerable magnitude to deal adequately with the situation. Against that argument I remind honorable gentlemen that it is estimated that during the current financial year invalid pensions will be paid to citizens of the Commonwealth to the amount of £3,979,000. I should like the Director-General of Health to make a more detailed analysis of the expenditure which would bo involved in carrying out not only the investigation which is suggested, but also the treatment of those who might bc found through that investigation to be physically unfit. The point I emphasize is that it may very well be found to bo more economical to undertake this expense immediately at a time when the diseases are preventable rather than to provide approximately £3,979,000 annually for such people when they become invalids and when their condition is such that no cure can be effected. I regret that the amount set aside this year for health research is so low, although it is certainly gratifying to note that it is considerably more than any amount provided for this purpose in previous year. In 1931-32 or 1933-34, no separate vote was provided for health research, whilst in 1934-35 and 1935-36, the amounts provided were, respectively, £3,152 and £4,1S4. The amount to be appropriated this year is £18,100, but in view of the fact that, we are providing over £8,800,000 for defence this year, it is inadequate, particularly *when we remember that health is a matter which affects every individual in the Commonwealth and that at the present time the general health level of Australians is not such as to call for congratulation. Furthermore, no provision is made in this grant for dental research. Yet it is estimated that 90 per cent, of human beings are affected by some form of dental disease. The report of the Department for Scientific and Industrial Research of the Dental Board of the United Kingdom shows that £42,350 was expended in dental research and investigation in the United Kingdom in 1930. That is the latest year for which figures are available. In addition to so-called general expenses, the following expenditure was considered by the board to be necessary - Dental health education £4,000 ; post ‘ graduate lectures and instruction £1,200; post registration study £200; education grants £21,000; and grants for research £5,600.
– Is that activity identified with national insurance?
– I do not think so. No grant is provided in Australia for dental research. Such work is not being conducted at the only two institutions existing in Australia which could undertake it namely, the dental colleges of the universities of Melbourne and Sydney. They cannot undertake research because they cannot procure the necessary financial assistance. I understand that an annual grant of £5,000 to each of these institutions would be quite sufficient to enable them to do this work.
– Those two colleges are among the finest institutions of their kind in the world.
– Their work is of outstanding merit, but it is unfortunate that their activities should be hampered in any way for want of financial assistance. This is all the more regrettable when it is recalled that many thousands of pounds are spent annually in Australia on cancer research and investigations into marr-rr.al mortality, because dental disease ia intimately related to both these subjects. In two cases of puerperal sepsis, which were recently reported at the Women’s Hospital, Melbourne, a post mortem examination disclosed that no septic focus could be found except in the mouth, which in each case was badly diseased. It is a well-known fact that dental conditions are frequently associated with cancer of the mouth.
– The honorable member has exhausted his time.
– I congratulate the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn) on the meritorious flight from England to Australia, which he has just concluded unostentatiously and without any plaudits from the Australian people- While we are paying tribute to Miss Jean Batten on her wonderful record-making trip from England to Australia cn route to New Zealand, we should not neglect to give to the honorable member for Flinders the credit which be deserves.
I shall open my general remarks on the budget by quoting a statement made by the Treasurer (Mr. Casey), that appears to have given rise to the chorus of praise of this Government, which we have heard from honorable members opposite. It is as follows: -
Many factors affecting the prosperity of a community are quite beyond the control of governments. This is particularly so in the case of -Australia by reason of the fact that we depend in a substantial measure upon an export trade in which profits are determined by world prices. But I do claim that the policy of the Commonwealth Government has had a very great influence in bringing about the desirable results reflected in this budget. Unwise financial, monetary or tariff policy are matters which would have gone far to prevent the effective operation of the factors making for improvement.
The Treasurer handed that bouquet to himself and his Government; indeed, his remarks have influenced the general tenor of the speeches of honorable members opposite, including prominent members of the Country party who appear to be falling over themselves in their efforts to praise the Government. This was the flaw in the speech made by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt). From the point of view of his party, he gave an excellent address on the problem of the employment of youths. Apparently it is necessary to remind the Treasurer that his Government is much in the same position as a man who, after permitting a gardener to till his soil and plant and tend his fruit trees, comes along when the trees reach maturity to pick the fruit, and take all the credit to himself for the fertility of his orchard. I propose to review economic conditions as they existed in Australia in the trough of the depression, that is in 1931, when, I think, all honorable members will agree, Australia experienced the worst financial blizzard in its history. It was at that time that the Labour Government with which I was associated took office, and some of my colleagues, I confess, almost wished they had not been among the unlucky ones to have to face that blizzard. Our predecessors who had been borrowing ad lib. left us with a deficit of £5,000,000 and a greatly increased public debt.
– The State governments had been doing the borrowing.
– It is all very well for the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) to try to place the blame on the States. I notice a tendency to-day on the part of this Government, despite its overflowing Treasury, to starve the States. State governments have very important functions to perform. Land settlement, water conservation, legal processes, education, mining, and similar matters, are under their control, and must be financed by them. I endorse the remarks of the honorable member for
New England (Mr. Thompson), in regard to the sales tax. The Scullin Government at its inception hoped that; without interfering with essential services, it would be able to weather the storm; but the position became worse. It has been frequently said that the depression which affected Australia was world-wide, and that its effects were much more serious in some countries than in Australia. Difficult though those days were, it can be said- that, taking everything into consideration, Australia came through very well. The Labour Government of the day decided to economize on non-essential services, and reduced its defence expenditure by £150,000, and later by two further drastic cuts of £500,000 each. It was thought then, as I think now, that there is a tendency to obtain money for defence purposes by exaggerating the danger of a foreign invasion. I have heard similar stories ever since I could walk. When I was about sixteen years of agc, I was a member of the militia forces, and I well remember how Brigadier-General Hutton and others used to raise the cry, “ The Russians are coming.” ‘Children were in terror of falling into the hands of the Russians, even as in later years many women throughout the country were scared almost out of their wits when Senator Pearce told them of the nationalizing of women by the Bolshevists. We all know now, as the right honorable gentleman knew then, that such stories were absurd, lying statements.
The Scullin Government found it necessary to take stronger action than had previously been taken by any government: it prohibited a large number of imports.
– And prevented’ the export of sheep skins.
– The trouble which arose in connexion with the export of sheep skins is as nothing compared with the storm which will have to be faced by the Government because of its bungling of the wool position in connexion with the trade negotiations with Japan. The revenue from customs and excise, which in 1928-29 amounted to £41,800,000, dropped to £28.500,000 in 1931. That is to say, the Scullin Govern- ment derived from that source £22,500,000 less than the present Government receives. In the dark days of 1931 export prices were lower than at any previous time in the country’s history, with the possible exception of the very early colonial days of Australian history. Moreover, it was impossible for the Government to borrow a shilling either at home or abroad. The national income, which in 1988 was £650,000,000, dropped -to £450,000,000 in 1931. Had not strong action been taken by the Scullin Government, the financial year 1930-31 would have ended with the various Australian governments showing deficits amounting to £30,000,000, and in the following year deficits totalling £40,000,000. Something had to be done. The Soullin Government courageously faced the position, notwithstanding that it thereby incurred the disfavour of some of its supporters. I have no complaint to make in that connexion, for I can understand how unpalatable to a supporter of a Labour government would be a reduction of pensions and social services by that government. The Scullin Government had either to do these ionpleasant things or admit that in a time of difficulty it could not govern the country. The restriction of imports decided upon was like a two-edged sword, for it meant not only that the government of the day would receive £9,000,000 less revenue from customs and excise, but also that it would have to pay £10,000,000 in exchange, which meant a difference of £19,000.000 compared with a normal year. The Fiduciary Notes Bill, which was designed to make available £12,000,000 for the relief of the unemployed and £6,000,000 for assistance to primary producers, met with the opposition of the so-called friends of the farmers, who, through their mouthpiece, the present Prime Minister, repeatedly claim to legislate for the whole of the people of Australia. Many countries have since adopted measures of this character to obtain temporary relief.
The accumulated deficits in December, 1929, was £5,000,000, and by June, 1930, a further £1,500,000 had been added to it. The position throughout Australia then became rapidly worse. For this the Labour Government of the Common wealth could not be held accountable; in the States, different shades of political opinion were in control, and. all governments were in equally low water. The Scullin Government was faced with a deficit of £14,000,000 for the year ended June, 1931, and that would have meant an accumulated deficit of £20/500,000. It therefore undertook an internal conversion loan. When this measure was proposed at a conference of Premiers, the present Prime Minister went round Melbourne saying that to tamper with Commonwealth bonds that had been issued internally would be a wicked act and altogether unjustifiable. Despite that protest, however, the Government went ahead with the biggest conversion loan in the history of Australia, one of £550,000,000, and effected a saving of interest amounting to 22-J per cent. The private banking institutions, through their representatives, met the Premiers in conference, and agreed to reduce bank interest rates. If there is one thing which is retarding the recovery of primary producers to-day, it is that they are paying an interest rate of 5 per cent, on overdrafts aggregating millions of pounds, with respect to an asset that is a losing proposition. The money thus loaned cost the banks less than 2 per cent. ; therefore, they have not shared in the loss of equity. With good prices and a good season this year, those farmers who are heavily mortgaged - they number thousands - will be sold up and will have U look for fresh occupations. At the time of which I speak there was an expansion of credit by the issue of treasury-bills, and beneficial results accrued therefrom. The sales tax, a measure new to Australia, brought a lot of unpopularity in its train. It is not a desirable tax, because it presses equally on the poor and the wealthy; but money had to be raised, and that offered a ready expedient. Imports were curtailed to enable our interest commitments overseas to be discharged. Mr. Bruce has pointed out that that action was the means of converting an adverse trade balance of £30,000,000 into a credit balance of an equal amount. I cannot de better than quote in this connexion a very striking statement of the Leader of the Opposition, which not even the Treasurer, who is both astute and energetic, has attempted to refute. The honorable gentleman said -
In the present budgetspeech no reference ismade to that action.
He was referring to the drastic action taken by the Scullin Government to balance the budget in 1931-32 - but highly eulogistic reference is made concerning what is described as the conspicuous success of the High Commissioner, Mr. Bruce, in connexion with London conversions.The aggregate savings to date in interest, due to London conversions, amount to £8,000,000. The aggregate savings to date on Australian conversions, carried out under the management of the Scullin Government, amount to over£18,000,000, or £30,000,000 more than has been saved overseas. Moreover, the Austral ian conversions were the forerunner of the conversions in London. Without the Australian action, action overseas would have been impossible.
There is not the slightest doubt that the position in which the Government finds itself to-day is due to the action which was then taken. I defy any Minister to point to one direction in which there has been statesmanlike action since the Lyons Government was first formed.
I protest against the failure of the Government to pay £1 a week to the old-age pensioners. The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) promised, when the reductions were made under the financial emergency legislation, that one of the first acts of any Government, when financial stability was restored, should be to increase the pension to its former level. Five years have elapsed since that time, and although the Government has had an overflowing Treasury, and taxes to the amount of over £5,000,000 have been remitted for the benefit of those who are comfortably off, the rights of people on the breadline have been ignored. The old-age pensioners have worked hard and helped to make Australia what it is to-day. The average pensioner is sober and thrifty, and has been reduced to poverty through sheer misfortune or economic stress. I suppose that prior to the next election the Government will increase the pension to £1 a week, in order to pose as the special friend of the aged folk.
The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) has dealt effectively with the subject of unemployment of youths. In countries such as Germany and
Italy, which are faced with many difficulties, economic planning hat been resorted to with a view to providing employment for the people. Regardless of the impasse to which Germany has been driven, largely as a result of French policy, it is taking valiant steps to bring about economic recovery. I recently had an opportunity to visit a labour camp in Germany. Admittedly, it was conducted largely on military lines, but, at any rate, young peoplewere being taught trades. Whilst I do not approve of fascist methods, particularly as adopted in Germany and Italy, it must be said in favour of Germany that the solemn compact entered into at Versailles has not been honoured in its entirety by the victorious powers. Although Germany had to disarm, France, Britain and Italy also undertook graduallyto disarm. That promise was not kept.
– Britain tried to keep it.
– That is so, but France made no attempt to do so; it even increased its military strength. A great country like Germany was not to be kept down for ever. Hitler appealed to the patriotism of his people, and theyflocked to his banner. He had the courage to say that the people of Germany would rise again. It is necessary for Great Britain, France and other great powers to give Germany access to the colonies of which it has been dispossessed, in order that its people may have an outlet for their energies, and grow tropical productsto supply their own markets. By separation from Hungary and Czechoslovakia, Austria was left with a population of 6,000,000, and a swollen capital of 2,000,000 people, whereas the population of the former dual empire of Austria-Hungary had been 55,000,000. Can peace be expected when a country like Austria is so isolated? I met scores of Austrians, and found them poor but genteel. L made the acquaintance of some who spoke four or five languages, but had to live on a crust of bread a day, owing to the disastrous results of the action taken by the great powers to prevent the countries of central Europe from attacking France. In the circumstances the only reasonable course for Austrians to adopt is to join their compatriots in Germany, and make their country part of the German Empire, and this, generally speaking, they desire to do. We Britishers want liberty, and if the peace of the world is to be maintained, we must recognize that the people of other countries also desire liberty. .
When abroad recently, I took notice of the economic planning being undertaken in Italy. Mussolini has cleaned up the waterfront of Naples. I saw thousands of Italian soldiers returning from Abyssinia, and it is hard to say how employment will be found for them. Italy, of course, has a problem with which we are never likely to be faced in Australia. We should be careful not to embroil ourselves in the enmities of the old world. We should not be dragged into disputes in Europe over matters which do not concern us. I hope that we in this country will profit by our experience in the last war, which has left us a heritage of maimed and diseasestricken men, and of debt amounting to about £800,000,000, which is being continually increased, because of our obligations in respect of Avar pensions. We should have the courage to state our opinions as Canadian statesmen have had the courage to state theirs. If Great Britain were in danger, no one would be more willing than I to help the Mother Country. But Great Britain must learn from Australian statesmen that we are not to be dragged by the heels into a war in Central Europe because Great Britain has decided quixotically to maintain France’s military glory. During my stay in Russia I found out some of the difficulties under which its people labour. I am not going to say merely for the sake of propaganda anything with regard to my visit to Russia, and the condition of the people in that country, which is not true. I confess that I was very disappointed at the results which Russia has achieved up to date under the Soviet administration. My disappointment may arise from the fact that before ray visit I had read much propaganda, and seen a large number of pictures of immense buildings which, it was said, were being erected by the Soviet Government. Naturally, I expected to see them everywhere; but in travelling through Russia one sees very few of them. The Russian people live under conditions, much the same as those under which mcn and women in Eastern Prussia and Poland live; in some instances their conditions are even worse. These things must be understood to.be appreciated. The fact is that during the Great War Russia fought against Germany, without proper arms or adequate munitions. Is it any wonder that the Russians said ai. that time that Great Britain was determined to win the war, even if in achieving that objective the last drop of Russian blood was spilt ? The Russian people then realized that they would gain nothing from the war. They knew that without proper military equipment, they had no chance against a well organized military nation like the Germans’. So the revolution came, and after it civil wars. When the Russians started to rebuild, their railways were disorganized and the fields wore not sown; they had to start afresh from behind scratch. Every one who has been to Russia agrees that the Soviet system of government, whether we like it or not, is there to stay. It is sometimes said that under the Soviet system of government 3,000,000 Communists are in control of a country with a population of 160,000,000. The fact is that most of the people are turning to communism because they are loyal to the Soviet. At least, this much can be said for the Soviet Government - there are no unemployed in Russia to-day. The attitude of the Soviet Government towards religion has been such that no man ca.n condone. It is impossible to crush the spirit of religion out of the hearts of the people; whether they attend church or not, there is in most people consciousness of a Supreme Being and a spirit of reverence towards the Creator. As a matter of fact, during the revolution the Russians were fighting against the influence of a corrupt church with tremendous powers as well as the Czarist regime. It was perfectly natural that the people should make common cause against a common enemy. But even in Russia to-day there are signs of tolerance towards religion. Church services are held which anybody may attend. The state of affairs in Russia to-day may be likened to those following the French revolution, when God was “ abolished “ and a new calendar commencing from the first year of the Republic was evolved To-day, nearly 150 years later, the French nation is most tolerant towards religion. We are so used to a democratic government that no other form of government could fit in with our conditions. If need be, we must be prepared to fight for our ideals. Australia, 98 per cent, of whose population is of British descent, should be prepared to fight for the maintenance of its present conditions, not with the sword, but in a spirit of sweet reasonableness. Eventually when the press is free to tell the truth about all parties, the people of Australia will be able to act more wisely. That the truth can still be suppressed is evidenced by the fact that a man can attain to the position of Prime Minister merely because the whole of the capitalistic press says that he is the right man for the job, although we know that there are other men of twice his ability available to do the job - men ready to stand up for their opinions, determined to do what they believe to be right rather than be fawning sycophants, and even daring to fight the press if it is wrong, as it frequently is.
did a lot of flirting with the people who would be interested in returning to power a government other than the one in office to-day. I do not want to delve very deeply into that question to-night, because I want to say a word or two about the general trade position. I had hoped that the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page), who has delivered himself of some weighty words of wisdom on this subject in the years gone by, would be present in the chamber. Apparently, the present Ministry is content merely to keep one or two Ministers on. guard in the chamber during important discussions. T may inform the Government that the life of any Ministry depends upon the number and condition politically of the supporters who are here to keep it in office: furthermore, it is just as well that the Ministry should understand that, in fighting an election, it is not on th« good record of the Ministry that a government is judged and condemned, hut rather on the things which in the opinion of the generality of the electorate have been done wrongly. I am coming to the opinion that, in respect of one or two major questions, one of which I particularly wish to deal with to-night, it would be a very good thing, if the Ministry were to adopt the practice recommended by a great British essayist, namely, making records of its opinions from time te time, and taking a few minutes -off for introspection, in order to discover for itself whether the things it is doing to-day are in keeping with the things which it said it would do if it came into office. It was interesting to hear the Leader of the Opposition, during his speech on the budget, claim that the present satisfactory financial position of the Commonwealth was due to the policy inaugurated by the Scullin Government. I do not propose to deny the truth of much of what he said; but I noted that, while he claimed credit for the Soullin Government in that it had reduced interest rates, he was significantly silent regarding the fact that it was also the Scullin Government which reduced salaries and pensions. Perhaps it would not .be too uncharitable of me to suggest that, had the Labour parties not recently been re-united, we might not have heard anything from the honorable member on either of these matters. If we are to regard the budget debate as an opportunity to make electioneering speeches, we must give the Leader of the Opposition credit for having taken full advantage of the situation. After touching upon the Premiers plan, he made some remarks which should appeal to the misguided advocates of the Douglas credit system. Then he made some references to defence which require a good deal of explanation. It was evident that he was flirting with the idea of a vigorous defence policy, but was careful to put forward no concrete proposition likely to cause a breach between his’ party and the pacifists, who generally fall in behind it. He touched upon the Japanese trade dispute, and, surprisingly enough in a representative of Western Australia, spoke of the need for an effective tariff to encourage Australian industry. In fact, it is quite evident that the Leader of the Opposition and his party propose to leave no stone unturned to win their way into the good graces of the community. A little later the Defence Estimates will be debated, and I should like then to hear the Leader of the Opposition, or one of his responsible supporters, tell us just what is the Labour party’s policy in regard to defence. It would appear from the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition to-night that the Labour party has at last decided that some form of defence is necessary for Australia. That being so, it is evident that it must admit the possibility of attack; otherwise a defence system would not be necessary. I should like the honorable gentleman, without specifying the possible source of attack, to state what, in his opinion, would be the probable size of a force which we might be called upon to meet, and the point at which we would probably have to meet it.
– Does not the honorable member think that the Government ought to tell us those things?
– The Leader of the Opposition stated during his speech that very shortly he and his party would constitute the Government., That being so, it is not unreasonable for us to ask now for a clear expression of his policy. I should like to know what considerations induced the honorable gentleman to frame his present policy. Does he expect us to take that policy seriously, or has it been framed simply with the idea of winning the next election ?
– Why does not the honorable member give us even one idea of his own?
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green), during his speech to-night, referred to conditions in Germany, and went on to stress the need for finding employment for our youth in Australia, rather than having them walk the streets in idleness. I tried unsuccessfully to get him to state whether or not he favoured the introduction in Australia of the methods employed in Germany. Perhaps he had in mind the employment of our youths upon such undertakings as the standardization of the railways. I do not think it would bo wise for the Labour party just at this time to quote countries like Germany and Italy as examples to be followed by the Labour party in the formulation of its policy.
– I did not do so. The honorable member has twisted my words.
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie was recently abroad, and to-night devoted a considerable part of his speech to a description of conditions in central Europe. He was, however, significantly silent regarding affairs in western Europe, particularly in France., where recently 2,000,000 men went on strike to welcome into office a socialist government, whilst on the other side of the Pyrenees, where they have been endeavouring to get rid of one, there is, according to the latest reports, a death roll of 500,000. While Central Europe may have attractions for the honorable member, it would have been just as well if, in surveying the European situation, he had taken into account matters of that description.
This Parliament will very shortly have to engage in a good deal of deep thinking over the position into which the Commonwealth has drifted in regard to its public debt. I listened with a great deal of interest to the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson), when he was dealing with the straitened financial circumstances of the States. I know that such conditions apply to every State of the Commonwealth for the reasons given by the honorable member. The Commonwealth Government is collecting more revenue than it requires for the services which it performs, and is not leaving sufficient in the hands of the States for the due performance of their services. Consequently for some years past the State Governments have been obliged to continue a borrowing policy. It is a fact that since the inauguration of the Premiers plan the public debt of Australia has increased by approximately £150,000,000 net. If this increase continues, sooner or later the Commonwealth Government will be faced with an awkward problem; it will have to consider the capacity of Australia to bear this mounting burden. The United States of America and other countries, which are greater than ours, with bigger populations and larger natural reserves, have been compelled to do some awkward and drastic things in respect of their internal currency.
– How long can we continue to borrow at the present rate?
– As I am not a prophet or the son of a prophet, I would not like to commit myself upon that point. The honorable member cannot assure me that the party to which he belongs will be in power after the next election. That is a point I would have to consider in answering his question.
– It is a sticky wicket.
– Yes ; both parties have to play on the same ground.
The matter with which I wish to deal more particularly to-night is that of our trade relations with other countries. I am one of the supporters of the Government who do not see eye to eye with it on this subject. “When a Government gets up against a problem such as it may havefaced early this year, some definite pronouncement should be made concerning its general policy. In the circumstances which confront us I am forced to the conclusion that the leaders of the two parties on this side of the chamber must have made a somewhat perfunctory survey of their policies; otherwise they should have made an explanation to this Parliament. This explanation, for which T have asked previously, has not been given. In one instance, failing to get a reply in response to a long telegram, I wrote to the Prime Minister, seeking information, but my letter was not answered. Consequently I am still seeking information which I think ought to have been given some time ago. I have never accepted the contention that trade relations and trade agreements are of a secret nature, and that a deliberate policy of withholding information should be persisted in for a number of months. The time is fast approaching when the Government will have to make some fairly definite and clear statement on the subject of trade relations. The first thing to decide is whether an alteration is necessary. Not having the facts before me, I do not wish to pre-judge the Government, but all I can say is that, unless I misconceive the policy which I have supported ever since I have been connected with politics, the move made by the Government on the 22nd May, is quite foreign to anything I have ever advocated. It is now sixteen years since I became a member of the Country party in South Australia, and if the present trade moves are founded on the policy of that party, I must say that for sixteen years I have entirely misunderstood its policy. I confess that there will be some difficulty in convincing me on that point. Last night the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) mentioned a point which I intended to make, and that is the unwisdom of selecting such a time for a radical change of tariff policy. This policy was instituted by the Government in May. when a presidential election was impending in the United States of America, and when there happened to be in power a party supporting the lowest tariff possible. Turning to the other country which is a party to the dispute, it must have been within the knowledge of the Cabinet that Japan had just gone through a revolution and I should say, in diplomatic language, that the position had not been clarified on the 22nd May. In “these circumstances the Government was extremely brave in doing what it did at that time, having regard to the political circumstances in the United States of America and Japan. In the Prime Minister’s policy speech, delivered in 1934, there was this remarkable statement : -
Empire trade has ever been in the forefront of Government policy and the Ottawa Agreement is the Government’s outstanding achievement in this connexion. The extreme section sees in this a threat to our secondary industries. The other extreme section professes to see in Empire trade a solution of all Australia’s marketing difficulties if only Australia would reduce her tariffs still further. But views disregard facts. Neither Britain nor the Empire can absorb all our wheat and wool, for instance. Of Australia’s large marketed crops exported in the last few years over half has gone to foreign countries.
That requires some explanation. In dealing with wool he said: -
Wool has been conspicuous amongst commodities important in international trade in that most countries have admitted it free of duty. For reasons dictated by the policy of protection and the desire to limit external demands, Germany and Italy have, during the past few months, imposed restrictions on the importation of wool. Germany’s action litis considerably disturbed the international wool market, and has adversely affected the price of Australian wool.
I ask the Government to explain how it is that the withdrawal of Germany, which was not the largest purchaser, should have adversely affected the price ‘ of Australian wool, while the withdrawal of the Japanese from the market has not made a difference.
– Who says that it has not made a difference?
– If I understand the English language that is the case of the Government. If that is not the attitude of the Government all I can say is that I have entirely misapprehended its view. As I understand the position to-day, the Government is saying that the withdrawal of Japan from the Australian wool market has made no difference to the price of wool. But the press furnishes us with some information on this subject, and it is quite common to read statements to the effect that the price of wool has risen by 5 per cent., or 7& per cent., or 10 per cent, above some other price. If all these percentages were added together Midas himself would not now be able to buy Australian wool. Some explanation is necessary on this particular point, and I should be glad if it could be given in the course- of this debate by the Prime Minister or the Minister for Commerce.
– What has been said is that the price of wool is satisfactory.
– Some honorable members may regard the price of wool as satisfactory. Probably no bitter complaint has been made by the wool-growers of Australia. It is not revealing a secret to say something that everybody knows. The wool-growers, in common with everybody else, were asked not to criticize the Government in this connexion. Consequently, not so much criticism of the Government policy has been offered as might have occurred in ether circumstances.
– But what if a Labour government had been in power?
– If I had been a member of the Opposition, and my friends the Minister for Commerce and the Minister for Defence had been my colleagues, our withering sarcasm and blistering comments would undoubtedly have scorched the palm trees in paradise.
I wish now to deal with one or two points in the Country party’s policy speech delivered by the Minister for Commerce-. I suppose it will not be said that I am unfair if- 1 call attention to some remarks which the right honorable gentleman broadcast on the 14th August. B’.is utterance certainly contained some illuminating passages.
– Surely the honorable member would expect that.
– That is so. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the right honorable gentleman, the admission must be made that he has force, brains and personality, and, in Australian politics, counts for something. Although 1 happen to disagree with him on this issue, I do not want it to be understood, either in this chamber or elsewhere, that I am condemning him wholesale. The members of the United Australia party and the Country party are, generally speaking, able to fight out their differences publicly, and. the people at large are at liberty to decide between them. That is the attitude that I am now adopting. I do not think that anything I have said can be construed into an indication that I am prepared to kick the Government out of office forthwith, merely because it has made what I believe to be a mistake in respect of one rather important point of policy. The first paragraph in the printed pamphlet containing the right honorable gentleman’s policy speech appears in black type and reads as follows: -
Oan and shall Australia’s policy be one of economic isolation from the rest of the world, or must we follow a programme of cooperation and friendliness?
Shall private enterprise or government enterprise conduct the major part of national development?
The system that we are gradually formulating in Australia is fairly accurately portrayed in the next paragraph that I shall cite from the same speech. It reads -
Economic nationalism means a rigid discipline of the people and domination by the bureaucrat to which the people- of Australia will not submit. The cult of self-sufficiency is the very negation of freedom. Concomitant restriction of production must mean innumerable rules, regulations, and penalties.
That describes the state of affairs into which the trade of Australia is drifting, ff we validate the restrictive tariff measures which the Government has introduced, it will mean that .merchants will have to apply to the Government for permission to import certain commodities. I believe that we shall be sorry in the years to come if we permit this system of administration to become firmly established in our Customs Department. There should be no necessity in a community like ours to approach a Minister for a licence to import a commodity. In actual practice, of course, an officer of the Customs Department mutt be approached. That is a dangerous procedure to introduce into our trading relations, and I do not think that Parliament should agree to it.
One paragraph from the right honorable gentleman’s speech is particularly interesting. He said -
First, we must be prepared to buy as well as to sell. The nation’s wealth cannot be measured by the excess of exports over imports. More important is the total volume of goods and services exchanged. Such exchange, must be , mutually profitable, and this can only be secured if Australia devotes herself to the production of goods for which Nature has specially endowed her, and exchanges them for other . goods more efficiently produced by other nations.
That statement accurately expresses the feeling I have always had regarding foreign trade. I stand, and always have stood, four square for the lowest possible tariffs to which we can obtain parliamentary approval. One of the most damaging accusations that can be made against the Government at present arises from a comparison of such administrative acts as that of the 22nd May, with the statement of the representative of the Government at Geneva a few days ago. It seems to me that the Government is speaking with two voices on this major issue, for Mr. Bruce, who should know the economic position of Australia, both at home and abroad, in order to be a properly accredited delegate of the Government, speaking, no doubt, under instructions from Canberra, pleaded at Geneva for the greatest pos- sible freedom of trade as a solution of the economic difficulties of the world. Yet, in spite of that plea for the cultivation of free trade relations we are instituting in respect of Japan, one of our good customer countries - as the current political phrase -has . it - and also in respect of the United States of America, the most severe and repressive acts in restraint of trade between Australia and those countries.
– I do not care if it does; I do not care twopence for any statement of that sort, and would throw it back in the teeth of any Minister who made it.
– No Minister has said it.
– The Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties made such a statement when the honorable member for Swan was speaking to-night. It would disgrace any Minister and it is time the head of the Government had something to say about the matter.
– It is time the honorable member put up an alternative to the action taken by the Government.
– I am not in a position to be responsible for actions taken by the Government.
– The honorable member need not be irresponsible.
– I do nol think the honorable gentleman can say that, either. I am stating a case here on a principle on which I stand in politics, and if the Minister for Defence says that lie does not stand for the lowest restriction of trade the people of the Commonwealth will see him in a different light. I thought he was always one of those who stood for a pretty fair measure of freedom in trade matters, and it would be extremely interesting to hear him justify this trade-diversion policy. It may or may not be significant that he has maintained a discreet silence since the 22nd May. last. I have never been able to get a definite statement that the Government’s policy is the result of some Imperial understanding between the Commonwealth and Great Britain.
I hare never hidden my attitude towards Imperial trade. Anything we can do to foster legitimate trade between Empire countries is worthy of support so long as we do not cut off our noses in doing so.
– Does the honorable member believe that the preservation of portion of the Australian market in cotton piece goods for British products is illegitimate?
– It all depends on the sense in which the honorable gentleman uses the word “ illegitimate “. I used the word “ legitimate “, which is an entirely different thing. I have procured as many figures as I could from authoritative British sources on the textile industry in Great Britain, and while it is true that there has been a reduction of the exports of cotton textiles, the suggestion in those figures - and it is one that is borne out even in the answers’ given to-day to questions asked by myself - is that there has been an outstanding increase of the output of artificial silk in the United Kingdom. While we are imposing a tax to provide funds to advertise our wool, and are condemning the importation of artificial silk from Japan, it would be just as well if we made a very close scrutiny of the production and exportation of textiles so far as the United Kingdom itself is concerned. I have obtained from the Library reports on the production and exportation of artificial silk from the United Kingdom. Figures for the last two years show that production has increased from 144,000,000 sq. yds. to 2.27,000,000 sq. yds., .and there has been a big increase of exports of artificial silk. The production even of cotton textiles shows very little reduction over the last three or four years. I have not yet heard it suggested by the Government that its move in the dispute with Japan is the result of any arrangement arrived at between the Commonwealth and Great Britain on an Imperial basis. If it were, ! should be interested to know how it is that South Africa stepped into the ring two or three days after it was made and offered to supply to Japan as much as it could of the wool which Japan now refuses to buy in Australia. Japan is purchasing much of that wool to-day. Then there is the matter of artificial wool. We were told in the polley speeches of the leaders of the two parties comprising the Government that we should guard against artificial wool and be particularly careful not to offend customer countries because they would change over to artificial wool. Dealing with the wool industry in his policy speech during the last election campaign, the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) said -
Last year saw an improvement, and the hope was general that good prices would remain. This hope was bolstered up by the common belief that, “ Other nations must buy our wool and therefore must pay the price “. This belief has received a shock when nation after nation decided either to limit their buying or not to buy at all, with the result that the wool safes in Australia have been postponed in the hope of an improved market later. This position - no sales - is worse than the earlier one - low prices. Poverty, want of foreign credits and deliberate economic nationalism are the various causes for this state of affairs. Germany has decreed that no material shall be made from pure wool, and that there shall be a proportion of local fibres of other kinds in all so-called “ woollen “ goods. Italy has decided to cut in half her purchases of merino wooL
These are points on which Ministers must give an answer to this House and to the country, and I submit that” the time has come when there must be made some fairly definite statement of the actual position which exists to-day between ourselves and certain countries in connexion with the wool trade. I am not singling out any particular country in this matter. Wool is one of the most important products we have to sell, and it is in the interests of every man and every producer and institution in this country that the greatest possible price should be secured for it. It is impossible for me at this stage to look at this matter from every aspect: but examining it from still another viewpoint, we have to accept the position, whether we like it or not, that Australia is situated in the South Pacific, and that we are in fairly close proximity to a civilization against which we have not had to compete very seriously up to date. To the north of us are countries which hold ideas concerning standards of living and standards of comfort entirely different from our own. I suggest that the Commonwealth will not get very far on the road to success if it is simply going to shut its eyes to the natural contest which we must face in order to maintain Australia and New Zealand in the South Pacific. “We shall not meet this problem by simply putting up tariff walls, and saying that nothing must come into this country except under certain conditions. I do not think that there has been any suggestion made on the part of any other country that it should try to dictate, or even influence, the trend of internal policy in Australia, and I hope that no honorable member will put up such an argument. The time ha.9 conic when we should have a serious stocktaking of our future. I was very pleased during the last election campaign to make, as one of my strongestpoints in my electorate, which is an important wool-growing district, the fact that a definite plank of the Government’s” policy, which the Prime Minister enunciated, was that the Commonwealth would endeavour to increase trade between Australia and the Far East. In furtherance of that policy, one of the ablest men in the Public Service was sent to Tokio as Trade Commissioner. What is his position in Tokio to-day? Is it desired that this country shall expand its trade with the Far East; are appointments to be made to Japan, Netherlands East Indies, and other countries; is all this talk of increasing our trade with India, Burma, Siam and China meaningless? Some awkward statements in regard to trade matters have been made by Ministers, and some have even been published in Japan. One Japanese paper contains an interesting article by the Minister for Commerce on the Japanese-Australian trade position. If Ministers of the Crown send to foreign countries articles under their own names as Ministers, we must expect the people of those countries to take them at their face value. [Leave to continue given.] We are entitled to expect the Government to take a serious view of this subject of foreign trade. The state of the world to-day is such that we cannot afford to adopt any policy which is likely to produce strained relations. The disturbed tate of Europe is largely due to the very high barriers on trade which were erected by some mushroom States after the conclusion of the last war. They have not yet realized that, in order to live, they must allow others to live. Therefore I say “that, in a country like Australia, we must take a serious view of this subject, and. must not unnecessarily antagonize other countries through applying any trade policy to which we happen to take a fancy for a time.
There are other points with which I have not attempted to deal, but if an opportunity is given for this subject to be debated at greater length, I shall have more to say concerning it. Personally, I regret that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) introduced it into the budget debate. I had no intention to do so myself. It would have been better had the Government provided the House with an opportunity to discuss it.
– ‘That opportunity was not given.
– There is a tendency to rely on the Opposition to take a lead in these matters; but it has not taken the responsibility of initiating a discussion.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition made a considered speech on it a few days ago.
– I am not replying to his speech now ; I am simply expressing my views of the situation as a member representing a country district. At the moment the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is not in office, and so I leave him alone.
– Did his speech represent the views of the Opposition ?
– I do not know. If the Minister has any doubt on that subject he may express it when he speaks. I say in all seriousness that this is the only subject worth naming concerning which I differ vitally from the Government. It is a sincere difference of opinion. Some time ago I expressed similar views in Adelaide, and I have not yet heard from the Government anything which would lead me to alter them. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey) and the honorable member for Grey (Mr. McBride) were present when I spoke. Some of us entertained honest doubts-
– Who are the others?
– I was not speaking of my parliamentary colleagues in this chamber. There are some who entertain honest doubts as to the wisdom of , the policy adopted by the Government; but, so far as an effective reply is concerned, I am reminded of the words of Buddha, “Ask nought of silence, for it does not speak.”
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Special Annuity Bill 1936.
Apple and Pear Bounty Bill (No. 2)1936.
Western Australia Grant Bill 1936.
Tasmania Grant Bill 1936.
South Australia Grant Bill 1936.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Appropriation Bill 1936.
House adjourned at 11.50 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
son asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
The Commonwealth Government, along with other States Members, complied with this recommendation.
Trade with Czechoslovakia.
n askedthe Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties has supplied the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: - 1 and 2. The trade of the Commonwealth with Czechoslovakia according to Australian and Czechoslovak statistics is as follows: -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
How many trading arrangements or trade treaties have been signed between Great Britain and foreign powers since the 1st July, 1934?
– The following agreements on commercial matters have been entered into between Great Britain and foreign countries since the 1st July, 1934: -
Brazil - Agreement regarding commercial payments - 27th March, 1935.
Brazil - Exchange of notes regarding commercial relations - 10th August, 1936.
Esthonia - Agreement respecting commerce and navigation - 11th July, 1934.
Germany - Payments agreement - 1st November, 1934.
Italy - Provisional agreement regulating imports from the United Kingdom into Italy -18th March, 1935.
Italy - Exchange of notes regarding trade and payments - 27th April, 1935.
Latvia - Agreement and protocol respecting commerce and navigation - 17th July, 1934.
Lithuania - Agreement and protocol respecting commerce and navigation - 6th July, 1934.
Netherlands - Exchange of notes respecting commercial relations - 20th and 30th July, 1934.
Netherlands - Exchange of notes regarding trade between the Netherlands and Newfoundland and British colonies and protectorates, &c. - 18th December, 1935.
Poland - Agreement, protocol and notes respecting trade and commerce - 27th February, 1935.
Roumania - Agreement respecting commercial payments - 3rd August, 1935.
Saudi Arabia - Exchange of notes, regarding transit dues at Bahrein -16th November, 1935.
Soviet Russia - Agreement relating to guarantees in connexion with export to the Soviet Union of United Kingdom goods- 28th July, 1936.
Spain - Payments agreement - 6th January, 1936.
Spain - Agreement amending the payments agreement of 6th January, 1936 - 6th June, 1936.
Sweden - Exchange of notes respecting commerce - 27th May-15th June, 1935.
Turkey - Agreement respecting trade and payments - 4th June, 1935.
Turkey - Trade and clearing agreement - 2nd September, 1936.
Trade with India, Burma and Ceylon.
n asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties has supplied the following answer to the honorable member’s questions : - 1 and 2. The importation of goods into the countries mentioned is not conditioned by the principle of compensation, therefore the considerations mentioned do not necessarily arise. In any case. I remind the honorable member that the value of our imports from the three countries mentioned exceeds the value of our exports to them.
COTTON AND ARTIFICIAL SILKS.
n asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties has supplied the following answer to the honorable member’s questions: - 1 and 2. Statistics relating to production in the United Kingdom were not compiled annually until 1933 except that a census of production was carried out in1930. The quantities produced in the three most recent years for which information is available, are as follows: -
As 1931 was a year of subnormal trade owing to the world-wide depression it does not provide a sound basis for viewing general trends in trade. Exports from the United Kingdom to all countries and exports to Australia during the last ten years are therefore given. They are as follows: -
l asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the fact that in the Australian ship and boat-building and repairing industry for 1927-28 there were 6,753 employed, wages paid were £1,784,894, and value of output £3,1.26,095; and for 1934-35 the number employed had decreased to 3,577, wages paid had decreased to £760,835, and the value of output had decreased to £1,287,526, will he take some immediate action to re-establish this industry, not only to its former position, but to extend its operations for defence and commercial purposes?
– This matter will receive the consideration of the Commonwealth Government. As the honorable member is aware, ship constructional work for the Commonwealth Government is, to the greatest possible extent, given to Australian firms. I wish to point out, also, that the value of the output of the industry in question has shown a progressive increase since 1931-32 when the value was £1,020,411.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Which Commonwealth department controls the police force of - (a) Northern Territory; (b) Papua; (c) New Guinea; (d) Federal Capital Territory; (e) the department or departments patrolling northern waters; (/) the department controlling immigration bysea and air; and (g) Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice - 1.What is the amount valued in sterling of Australian exports and imports for the years 1934-35 and 1935-30?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
y asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Will he lay on the table of the Library all papers relating to the calling for tenders, specifications and acceptance of tender for “Radiator “ for the radio telephone broadcasting station at Kalgoorlie?
– Inquiries are being made, and a reply will be furnished to the honorable member as early as possible.
n asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
E rection of Lazaret at Derby.
en asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– I would direct attention particularly to the extensive campaign for maternal and infant welfare conducted last year, to which the Commonwealth donated £50,000: I gave great personal attention to this campaign, issuing pamphlets and educational matter all over the Commonwealth. As Minister for Health also I have directed the attention of State governments and the community generally to the falling birth-rate and the urgent necessity for measures designed to restore the birth-rate to its normal level. The whole policy of the Government is directed towards improving the economic conditions of the people of Australia: such improvement has a reflected effect in the improvement of the birth-rate. More direct measures are clearly more difficult of application to this complex problem. It is not the usual practice to indicate policy in answers to questions, but it can be said that questions of constitutional powers are involved - the manufacture,sale and advertisement of contraceptives in Australia is probably entirely within the realm of State jurisdiction.
Establishment of Woollen Mills at Hong Kong.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether the Government has any information regarding the reported establishment in Hong Kong of woollen mills by Chinese, British and Australian interests?
– Information has been received by the Commonwealth Government concerning proposals for the establishment of woollen mills in China. Atthe present juncture, however, there is nothing definite which can be communicated to the honorable member in the matter.
d asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
What percentage of applications for service pensions (“burnt-out” soldiers) has been disallowed by the Repatriation Commission; and what percentage of these rejections has been allowed on appeal?
– The following statement shows the method of disposal of applications for service pensions lodged with the Repatriation Commission as at the 30th September, 1936, by members of the forces: -
Granted, 3,260 equal 50.34 per cent.
Rejected, 3,216 equal 49.66 per cent.
As on the 30th September, 1936, the War Pensions Assessment Appeal Tribunal had determined 75 appeals against decisions by the commission refusing service pensions. Of these the tribunal had allowed 22, i.e., 29.33 per cent.
n asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
Whether the diversions of trade announced on the 22nd May last were intended as a measure of reparation to Britain on the part of the Government to compensate for those failures to comply with the terms of .the agreement complained of by the Minister prior toNovember, 1934?
– The Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties states that the answer to the honorable member’s question is in the negative.
en asked the Minister foi i he Interior, upon notice -
What has been the total cost to date of the labour and material for the construction of the kerbs and footpaths’ (roads not included) nf the town site of Canberra?
– The information sought will be supplied at the earliest possible date.
t asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the fact that the Government of
Lite State of South Australia proposes to legislate for a five year Parliament foi that State, and in view of the fact that the Royal Commission on the Constitution recommended that the life of the House of Representatives should he of at least four years duration, will he, when deciding upon the proposals to be submitted before the people of the Commonwealth by means of a referendum, give consideration to the desirability of amending section 28 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution to increase the duration of the House of Representatives from three years to four ?
– The Government does not consider it desirable at this juncture to submit this question to a referendum of the people.
son asked the Prime Minister. upon notice-
In view of the fact that hundreds of Indian Army officers and public servants retire every year, will the Government consider the advisability of establishing a bureau of immigration in India with the object of attracting this very desirable type of immigrant to Australia ?
– As the result of information submitted to the Commonwealth Government early this year regarding the retirement of British Army officers in India, the State governments were communicated with, and it was suggested to them that consideration might be given to the advisability of bringing to the notice of army officers and public servants in India about to retire the attractiveness of the Commonwealth as a home in which they might spend their retirement, and where they would find excellent opportunities for the education of their children. It was suggested to the State governments that appropriate action might be taken through their tourist authorities.
son asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Where business firms have installed special telephones for the receipt of telegrams, will the Postmaster-General give instructions to his department to make available, without extra charge and within reasonable time, typewritten copies of .messages transmitted by telephone?
– -Delivery of telegrams by telephone involves special organization and trained phonogram staff. Where messages are telephoned, confirmatory copies are delivered by first post without charge. It is economically impracticable to make a special free delivery of telegrams by messenger after those telegrams have been telephoned, and, in the circumstances, it is regretted the suggestion of the honorable member cannot be adopted.
t asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What amount has been estimated in the budget for 1930-37 for expenditure upon invalid pensions and incapacitated soldiers respectively?
– The total estimated expenditure on invalid and old-age pensions during 1936-37 is £13,980,000, of which it is estimated that £3,979,000 will be payable as invalid pensions. The total estimated amount of war pensions payable during 1936-37 is £7,86S,500, of which approximately £3,910,000 is payable to incapacitated soldiers. Payments to or in respect of dependants are not included in the latter figure.
s. - On the 30th September, the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) asked me the following question, 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 totalcost 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?
I am now in a position to furnish the following reply: -
Newnes Shale Oil.
s. - Yesterday, the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) asked a question, without notice, as to what offers, if any, had been received in connexion with the Newnes shale oil undertaking. I have now had an opportunity of conferring with the Minister in charge of development and am able to inform the honorable member that, notwithstanding the substantial concessions offered by the Commonwealth Government in connexion with the shale petrol industry, only one offer was received, and that was informal and otherwise unfavorable, for the development of this undertaking. The Government is, however, at present conducting negotiations in this regard with interests which possess the necessary financial, engineering, and technical resources, andis hopeful that the outcome of these negotiations will be satisfactory. The negotiations have not yet reached a stage at which it is desirable that the names of the interests should be disclosed, but a full statement will be made to the Houseon the subject as early as possible.
– On the 8th
October, the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Street) asked the following question, without notice -
In view of the accidents, one of them fatal, which have recently occurred to gliders, will the Minister for Defence take steps to require that all gliders shall’ carry a certificate of airworthiness from the department of aviation before being put into use?
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that the civil aviation branch has never controlled the airworthiness of gliders, and it is not considered practicable to obtain from glider constructors the detailed data covering designs and construction which is required for a technical investigation into the airworthiness of a glider. It is probable that the accidents to which the honorable member referred were caused, not by a lack of airworthiness, but by errors of pilotage, and provided gliders are not flown in localities where an involuntary descent may cause injury to other persons, it is considered that the control of glider construction andflying by the Civil Aviation Board is not justified.
– On the 9 th October, the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) asked the following questions, upon notice: -
What are the weekly rates of pay of the clerical and wages staff in the employ of Tasmanian Steamers Proprietary Limited, or the companies who represent this company in Melbourne and the several offices in Tasmania?
I am now in a position to furnish the honorable member with the following answers to his inquiries: -
– On the 9th October, the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) asked the following questions, upon notice: -
I am now in a position to furnish the honorable member with the following answers to his inquiries : -
Wireless Broadcasting : New Stations at clevedonandminding.
– On the 9th October, the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens) inquiredwhen the wireless station at Clevedon will be available for service.
I am now advised that there is every expectation that the work at the Clevedon broadcasting station will be completed towards the end of next month, when . the final transmission tests will be carried out preparatory to the inauguration of the service. The Postal Department is now cooperating with the Australian Broadcasting Commission in the development of final plans for the commencement of the service prior to Christmas.
– On the 9th October, the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) inquired when the wireless station at Minding will bo opened. Inquiries I have since made elicit that there is every expectation that the work at the Minding broadcasting station will be completed towards the end of next month, when the final transmission tests willbe carried out preparatory to the inauguration of the service. The Postal Department is now cooperating with the Australian Broadcasting Commission in the development of final plans for the commencement of the service prior to Christmas.
Laboratory at Broome.
– On the 9th October, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) asked me a question relative to the proposed erection of a laboratory at Broome. I have ascertained that the State Government has advised that the transfer of land is being proceeded with. Plans of the building have been completed and tenders will shortly be called for.
Treatment of Tuberculosis.
s. - In reply to a question from the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard), I undertook to obtain any reports’ which the State and sanatorium authorities in Victoria might make available relating to the use of the preparation known as “Mirdol.” I now place upon the table a statement by the Medical Superintendent of theHeatherton Sanatorium, which has been furnished to me by courtesy of the Public Health Department of Victoria.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 October 1936, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1936/19361014_reps_14_151/>.