14th Parliament · 2nd Session
The House of Representatives on the 1st July,1937, adjourned until a day and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, and notified byhim to each honorable member. The House met pursuant to such notification.
TheClerk informed the House of the unavoidableabsense of Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell).
Mr. Deputyspeaker (Mr. J. H. Prowse) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
DEATH OF SENATOR J. V. MacDONALD.
Mr. LYONS (Wilmot- Prime Minister). - by leave - It is my sad duty to record the fact, that one of our fellow members of this Parliament in the person of Senator J. V. MacDonald passed away in Brisbane on Tuesday last.
Senator MacDonald was elected to the Senate for the State of Queensland at the general elections in 1031. He had been a member of the Senate on two previous occasions for short periods, having been chosen by the Legislative Assembly of Queensland to fill vacancies in 1922 and 1928 respectively.
I did not have the privilege of meeting the late honorable senatorwhen he was in Canberra for the parliamentary sittings which ended on (he 1st July, but I understand that, unfortunately, there were then indications that his health was far from satisfactory. Nevertheless, throughout the sittings he applied himself to his work with his usual vigor and interest. That, in the circumstances, he displayed great determination and fortitude is evident from the fact that he was soon afterwards’ stricken with the illness which resulted in hisdeath.
Senator MacDonald was a man of high journalistic attainments. His parliamentary work reflected his ability, and indicated the thoroughness of his grasp of the detail associated with the various classes of Commonwealth legislation. His work was characterised by untiring energy and enthusiasm, as well as sincerity for the principles of the party that he represented. His keenness in advocating his political beliefs was tempered by a courteous consideration for the views of others.
It was my privilege to know the late honorable senator personally, and his friendship was onewhich. I valued very highly. Parliament to-day mourns the loss of an esteemed member, and many of us have lost a sincere friend. To Mrs. MacDonald and family we offer our sincere sympathy in their sad bereavement. I move -
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of Senator John valentine MacDonald. places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
Mr. CURTIN (Fremantle).- With exceeding regret, I second the motion. In doing so, I endorse the terms employed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) in moving a motion expressing the sympathy which this Parliament feels for Mrs. MacDonald and her children.
I knew Jack MacDonald, as I shall call him, intimately. We were fellow journalists, and for some years shared at different ends of Australia the task of stating in newspapers the case for Labour. He was a most able and conscientious editor. Among the most useful of the services that he rendered to Australia in that sphere of his activities was his attendance at a censorship conference called by the Commonwealth Government in 1918 to deal with phases of the censorship then operating so that what I shall describe as treatment of a better type’ might be devised and accorded to newspapers by the then government. He took part in those proceedings in ‘the full vigour of his manhood, and in association with his fellow editors did what I regard as very useful work. His entry to this Parliament was, I think, marked by his realization that he was transferring himself to a more important sphere of labour, even though it was in the same cause - the cause of the workers, which he had at heart. Those of us who were associated with him here know that Senator J. Y. MacDonald was a very companionable man and one who possessed high ideals. He was a stout fighter, but at the same time a most generous opponent. Although he never said anything that could give offence, he yet left nothing unsaid that would more effectively state his point of view. He was a splendid family man, a fine citizen, and in every respect one of the best and most conscientious of those who have represented the people of Australia in this Parliament.
Mr. HUNTER (Maranoa- Assistant Minister). - On behalf of the Country party, as well as on my own behalf, I endorse everything that has been said by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin). I speak personally as a fellow Queenslander as well as a friend of the late honorable senator. Everybody who knew Senator J. V. MacDonald respected his opinions. They were strong; but during my acquaintance with him, which extended over a number of years, I cannot recall an instance of his having given offence to an opponent. I have had dealings with him politically for many years, and can say that, even when he was the editor of - a labour newspaper, he always fought fairly and cleanly, and on no occasion left anything rankling in the breast of an opponent that would cause other than the best to be thought of him. At his funeral the other day, I could not help thinking that, after all, our political and other differences counted for nothing in comparison with the situation we were then facing; and I was glad to think that his wife and children were able to console themselves with the knowledge that he was respected by his political opponents and loved by his friends.
Mr. FORDE (Capricornia).- I desire to associate myself with the words that have been uttered by the previous speakers, and would add that I feel that I have lost a very good friend. The late Senator J. V. MacDonald was well and favorably known to every man, irrespective of party, in the State of Queensland as well as, perhaps to a lesser degree, to every member of this House. He had outstanding personal qualities. He was a man of very sound judgment and of the highest integrity and honour and lived up to the very highest traditions of a parliamentarian. The late honorable senator played a conspicuous part in the great Labour movement in Queensland, particularly as a journalist and a Labour editor after the establishment of a daily Labour newspaper away back in 1912. It was due largely to his organizing ability and his great knowledge of the working class movement that that newspaper was able to live through the very trying times of the initial years of its existence. When Senator J. V. MacDonald came to the Federal Parliament he gave of the very best that was in him in the interests of the people whom he represented. He travelled from one end of Queensland to the other, and sacrificed his health in the cause of the people. I believe that all shades ofpolitical opinion in Queensland mourn his passing, and that their hearts go out in sympathy to his widow and very fine family of Australian children who are left to carry on the good name that he has left behind.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– by leave - Again it is with feelings of deep regret that I refer to the death, on the14th August, at Bowral, New South Wales, of the Honorable Arthur Bruce Smith, K.C., a former member of this chamber. Mr. Bruce Smith represented the Division of Parkes in the House of Representatives from the inauguration of the Commonwealth Parliament until the general elections in 1919. He first entered Parliament in 1882, as member for Gundagai in the Legislative Assembly ofNew South Wales. Later, he represented Glebe for a period of five years, attaining -ministerial rank as Secretary for Public Works and as Colonial Treasurer in the final Cabinet formed by Sir Henry Partes. He was an active participant in the campaign which preceded the federation of the Australian colonies. His record in the public life of this country stamped him a man of the highest integrity - one who was imbued with a very keen desire to serve Australia. His contemporaries in the Commonwealth Parliament recall his great energy, his scholarly attributes and his marked skill in debate. His death removes another of that small band of pioneers who enjoyed the privilege of membership of the first Parliament of the Commonwealth. I invite honorable members to join in an expression of sympathy with the members of the late Mr. Bruce Smith’s family. I move -
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Arthur Bruce Smith, K.C., a former member of the New South Wales and Commonwealth Parliaments, and a former State Minister, places on record its appreciation of his valuable public service, and tenders its deep sympathy to the members of his family in their bereavement.
Mr.CURTIN (Fremantle). - I second the motion. Mr. Bruce Smith served in the Parliaments of New South Wales and the Commonwealth over a long period.
He commenced in New South Wales, as the Prime Minister has said, as far back as 1882, and ceased being a member of the Commonwealth Parliament in 1919, so for nearly 40 years he was a representative of the public in either a State or the Commonwealth Parliament. That is, indeed, a long record of public service. I subscribe entirely to the sentiments expressed by the right honorable gentleman in submitting the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) - by leave - agreed to -
That Mr. Deputy Speaker be requested to transmit to the relatives of the deceased the foregoing resolutions, together with copies of the speeches delivered thereon.
.: - I suggest that, as a mark of respect to the memory of the late Senator J. V.MacDonald and: the Hon. A. BruceSmith, the sitting be suspended until 4. p.m.
Sitting suspended from3.13 to 4 p.m.
Assent to the following bills re ported : -
Federal AidRoads and Works Bill 1937.
Primary Producers Relief Bill 1937.
Judiciary Bill 1937.
Medical Research Endowment Bill 1937.
Supplementary Appropriation Bill1935-36.
Supplementary Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill1935-36.
Primary Produce Export Charges Bill 1937.
– In view of the fact that a case of infantile paralysis with serious results has already happened on the Queensland border I ask the Minister for Health what steps the Commonwealth Government intends to take in order to prevent a further spread of the. disease from Victoria to New SouthWales and the other States? Does the Minister think that any constitutional difficulties should stand in the way of Commonwealth action to deal with the outbreak, particularly since quarantine regulations have already been enforced in the Federal Capital Territory, whereas the State of New South Wales has been left without such protection?
– The Government is watching the position very carefully, but in order that I might give to the honorable gentleman a considered reply I should be glad if he would put his question on the notice-paper. I should then have the opportunity to set out the attitude of the Government and the steps that it is taking or proposes to take together with a review of the position as it is to-day.
– Has the Prime Minister’s attention been drawn to theincreasing public opinion with, regard to the re-constitution of the Public Accounts Committee which recently culminated in the following resolution by the Constitutional Association : -
That if the Government is returned it be asked to consider the re-constitution of the Public Accounts Committee based upon the following premises: -
The maintenance of parliamentary tradition and its inalienable right with regard to control of public funds.
The increasing divergence of views between the Auditor-General and the Treasurer that may be clarified by the appointment of sucha detached authority.
That if properly directed this committee could advise the Government with regard to the standardization of accounts in the several States and the Common weal th.
Will the Prime Minister consider the reconstitution of this committee giving consideration to the formation and procedure followed by the English Public Accounts Committee?
– I am afraid that it is rather too late now to consider the suggestion that the honorable gentleman makes, but when the Government is once again returned this matter will be taken into consideration.
Mr.FORDE. - I ask the Minister for
Trade and Customs what is the present position of the trade negotiations between Australia and Canada and Australia and New Zealand?
– The negotiations are still proceeding.
– I desire to know what results have been obtained from the representations that the Commonwealth Government has made to the State governments for the purpose of allocating the £200,000 set aside for unemployed youths, and what State governments have submitted practical plans for that allocation?
– Each, of the States has agreed to submit proposals in accordance with the agreement that was entered into between the States and the Commonwealth, and a bill will be introduced to deal with this matter early this session.
– A scheme having been laid down by the Commonwealth and the States for the technical and vocational training of unemployed youths, is the Commonwealth Government prepared to grant further assistance to the States if they widen the scheme to embrace youths between the ages of fourteen or fifteen years and eighteen years?
– The intention of the Government is to carry out the undertaking which it gave, toprovide a certain sum for next year. Whatever developments there may he subsequently will have to receive the consideration of the Government at a later date.
– I ask the Treasurer whether it is a fact that the Commonwealth Government has convened a committee of experts to review some scheme in respect of unemployment insurance, whether it is intended that the conference shall be held early, and what kind of scheme the Commonwealth Government is submitting to the experts for review ?
– As was reported in the press, at the meeting between the representatives of the Commonwealth Government and the State governments in Canberra a week ago, the Commonwealth Government put forward a tentative proposal which was a slight variation from one of the schemes submitted by Mr. Ince. This necessitated recalculation of the figures by the government representatives, and it was decided that a conference of experts should take place in Canberra at the earliest possible moment in order that they might go into the figures and report to the State governments. The Commonwealth Government lost no time in convening this conference. It was to have been held on Thursday next, but, as one of the States could not be represented on that day, it will be held in Canberra next Monday.
– I have been asked by different members of the House - and I nin interested myself - whether the Prime Minister can indicate when the federal elections will be held?
– I am sorry that 1 cannot, but I hope before long -that 1 shall be able to do so. The honorable member may rest assured that the date cannot be far off.
– Will the Prime Minister inform me whether he lias received any guarantee from the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues that the forthcoming general elections will be fought strictly in accordance with the principles of a 40-hour week which they are advocating? Do those honorable gentlemen propose to consider that principle in making their election arrangements and in working during the campaign ?
– As I have not yet adopted the principle of a 40-hour week, 1 shall not ask the Leader of the Opposition to give any guarantee of that nature.
– With regard to the recent influx of southern Europeans will the Minister for the Interior make available figures showing the net results of arrivals over departures of juveniles and adults of both sexes during the last three years? Will he advise the House as to what control he exercises over the selection of these migrants? Does the Government offer any inducements or otherwise encourage these people to migrate to Australia?
– In reply to the last part of the honorable member’s question, I point out that the Commonwealth Government does not offer any inducement to white aliens to come to Australia. They pay their own fares and before landing permits are issued to them, satisfactory reports have to be obtained on several questions. A complete investigation is made into their affairs. I ask the honorable member to give notice of that part of his question which asks for detailed figures.
– Is the Minister for the Interior in a position, as reported in the press, t,o make a statement to Parliament to-day. regarding the Government’s attitude towards the influx of numerous migrants into Australia^ and in regard to the immigration position generally?
– There is no influx of numerous migrants into Australia at present. Indeed, the number of white aliens arriving here is just about one third of the normal flow prior to the depression. With the consent of the House, I shall make a full statement on this subject to-morrow.
– When the Minister is preparing statistical information in regard to aliens arriving in Australia, will he indicate how the present percentage compares with arrivals in the past, and also the extent to which aliens have become good Australian citizens, and in many cases, members of the Parliament of New South Wales and Victoria ?
– I shall endeavour to comply with the honorable member’s wishes.
– Will the Minister for the Interior explain how it is that, despite his repeated statements to the effect that aliens entering Australia are virtually all dependants of those already here, only 2,258 landing permits out of 6,166 were issued last year on behalf of dependent relatives, the remaining 3,908 being for other migrants?
-I have never stated the exact proportion of dependent relatives to the total number of alien immigrants. The proportion must vary with every contingent of migrants which arrives but, generally speaking, over a period, the number of dependent relatives constitutes about one-half of the total arrivals.
– Will ,the AttorneyGeneral give the House the reasons which prompted the Government to promulgate the Unlawful Assemblies Ordinance in the Federal Capital Territory?
– That is not a matter which falls within my department, hut if the honorable gentleman will put his question on the notice-paper, it will he replied to.
– Will the Minister for Defence inform me whether it is a fact that his department has entered into negotiations for the purchase of the property known as Motto Farm, near Newcastle, as a site for an emergency landing ground? If so, what is the present position in that regard ?
– Negotiations are still proceeding in connexion with the acquisition of the locality known as Motto Farm, Raymond Terrace, near Newcastle, as a site for an emergency landing ground in connexion with the- inter-capital air mail scheme. A conference is being held this week of the officers of the Civil Aviation Branch, and the Department of the Interior, and the owners of adjoining properties concerning the felling of trees on the approaches to the site, and if the requisite arrangements can be made steps will he taken to finalize the acquisition of the property. Arrangements have also been made with’ the Postmaster-General’s Department for the necessary deviation of telegraph and telephone lines, the cost of which will be borne by the Defence Department. The Government of New South Wales has signified its willingness to take over the clearing and surface preparation of the site, and this phase will he further investigated if the rights over the land are
– Will the Minister for the Interior inform me whether it is correctly reported in the Brisbane Telegraph, of the 5th July, that tests of the efficiency of power alcohol for internal combustion engines are to be made in Canberra? Can the Minister give any information concerning 1 these experiments? If not, when will information be made available?
– I shall obtain such information as is available for the honorable member as soon as possible.
– Will the Minister for Defence inform, me whether the’ negotiations in connexion with the proposed overseas ah: mail agreement have yet reached the stage at which he is able to tell the House that he proposes to seek the early ratification of the agreement? In the event of it not being practicable to submit to Parliament the proposals in the near future, will he give an assurance thai no steps will be taken to initiate the service until Parliament has had that opportunity to consider the agreement?
– Some details still remain to he settled in connexion with this subject, but it is hoped that the consideration of them will be completed at a comparatively early date. The second part of the honorable member’s question is entirely a matter for Cabinet, and I am not able to give any personal undertaking in that connexion. I assure him, however, that his question will receive the attention of Cabinet.
– Will the Prime Minister inform me whether it is a fact, as reported in the press, that the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Fisken) has been appointed overseas representative of the Australian Meat Board in London at a salary of £2,000 a year? Is it not a fact that this board was appointed under legislation introduced by the Minister for Commerce?
– All I know of any such appointment I have seen in the press. I have no other authentic information. The Australian Meat Board was set up as the “result of legislation passed by this Parliament. The board has full power to make any appointments. The Government has nothing to do with them.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs yet received the report from the Tariff Board regarding the manufacture in Australia of motor car engines and chassis, and can he state when the report will be made available to honorable members?
Mr.WHITE.- The report has not yet been received, and when it does come to hand it will have to be considered by Cabinet before being made available to honorable members.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether it is proposed to print the report of the Royal Commission on Petrol? Will the motion which was moved regarding this matter before the last Parliament was prorogued be moved again during the term of this Parliament so that honorable members will have an opportunity to discuss it?
– The report of the Royal Commission on Petrol was printed some time ago.
– Can the Prime Minister give any indication as to when the House will be given an opportunity to discuss the report of the Royal Commission on Petrol?
– In view of the limited amount of time that remains for this Parliament to function, I doubt whether an opportunity such as has been asked for by the honorable member will be given to discuss the matter. If time permits, however, consideration will be given to the report.
Stations fornorthandwestern Queensland.
– Can the Minister representing the Postmaster-General furnish any information as to what steps, if any, have been taken to establish broadcasting stations in the north and west of Queensland to serve the people living in those areas? If nothing has yet been done, will he make inquiries with a view to having these services provided ?
– I cannot say offhand what arrangements have been made, but I shall obtain the information from the PostmasterGeneral, and furnish it to the honorable member.
– According to a report published in the London Daily Express the Prime Minister gave a cocktail party on board the Orontes to 800 passengers when the vessel was in the vicinity ofSuez. Will the Prime Minister state whether that party was paid for with public money, or out of his private purse ?
– I am delighted that the honorable member has raised this question, because it gives me an opportunity to state clearly that the party, the guests at which did not number half the figure mentioned, was given in return for a series of acts of hospitality by groups of passengers, and it was given at the expense of myself and the Minister who accompanied me.
– Has your attention been called, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to the fact that, during the recent recess, a young woman was trapped for nearly an hour in the lift on the House of Representatives side of this building? Areyou of opinion that the lifts are satisfactory, or do you think that the firm that installed them should be called upon to put them in proper order so that they will riot be dangerous?
– I shall cause inquiries to be made into the matter raised by the honorable member.
– Can the Prime Minister state whether it is true that representations of an impressive character have been made to him. with regard to the appointment of an additional judge to the Arbitration Court? Will he state whether such an appointment is in immediate prospect, and who made the representations? If an appointment is in prospect, will he consider the propriety of such a step by a government in the position of the present one?
– Representations were made to the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies), and to myself on the lines indicated by the honorable member, and they are under considerationat the present time. As to the propriety of the Government making such an appointment in the present circumstances, I can only say that, if the appointment is made, we shall be following the example of a previous government, of which the honorable member and I were members, when it made an appointment not to the Arbitration Court, but to the High Court bench, in even more extraordinary circumstances.
– Some time ago, when the Minister for Commerce was actingas Leader of the House, I asked for certain information concerning the lease of iron ore de-posits at Yampi Sound. He promised to furnish me with the information, but I have not yet received it. Will he inform me when it will be available?
– If the honorable member has not yet received the information, I am very sorry, and I shall take steps to make it available to him without further delay.
-With reference to the autocratic decision of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, that the only persons not to be allowed to speak over the national network during the forthcoming election campaign shall be the elected representatives of the people, will the Prime Minister take steps to see that this boycott is ended? In view of the fact that the elections need not take place until the 18th December, can the Prime Minister explain why the Australian Broadcasting Commission is able to state that the boycott was imposed “ because it was only three months until the elections ?”
– In answer to the last part of the honorable member’s question,
I suppose the Australian Broadcasting Commission, in keeping with the whole population of Australia, is entitled to make a guess at the election date. Most people have a guess at it at some time; why not the commission ? On the other point raised by the honorable member, I do not think that the Australian Broadcasting Commission has spoken on the lines indicated by him. The commission has certainly taken action with which 1 do not agree; hut at the same time, as I have said on previous occasions, if someone has to decide who and who shall not make speeches over the air - someone who must act as an umpire - then I say readily, it should he the commission or some outside body rather than a member of the Opposition party or a member of the Government party.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General if it is a fact that the Australian Broadcasting Commission has decided that, in connexion -with the general election campaign, there shall he two national relays by the Prime Minister, two by the Minister for Commerce, and two by the Leader of the Opposition? Does the honorable gentleman regard it as a reasonable and proper thing that, in connexion with broadcasting in Australia during an election campaign, a Commonwealth instrumentality shall, if this statement is justified, arrange for four national relays by members of the Government as against, two on behalf of the Opposition?
– I have at this moment no knowledge as to what the -arrangements are for the general elections; I doubt whether any arrangements have so far been made. I shall submit to the Postmaster-General the question which the honorable member has asked together with his observations.
– In view of the statement made to me by the Treasurer, prior to his trip overseas, that £3,000 was being made available to the Defence Department from Treasury funds for the purchase of clothing for distribution in the distressed areas of the coal-fields, I ask the honorable gentleman, if he is aware that if the Minister for Defence has accepted that money, he has sold him a pig in a bag by reason of the fact that the clothing made available for distribution being shoddy, unserviceable and unfit for human wear, was returned to the Defence Department by the Municipality of Cessnock and the Kearsley Shire Council? In view of this fact, will he make representation to the Minister for Defence to supply those areas now with decent clothing out of the proceeds of the money made available for that purpose to the Department of Defence.
– Arrangements in regard to this matter were that-
– I asked the question of the Treasurer.
Sir ARCHDALE PARKHILL.As I know the details in regard to this matter, I presume, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that I am in order in answering the question. Although, the usual practice is to make left-off clothing, or clothing that comes within that category in the Defence Department, available to the State governments for distribution, in response to the urgent representations made by the honorable member to the Prime Minister, it was decided to make available to the honorable member’s constituents in the coal-field areas a certain quantity of left-off clothing. The amount set apart by the Treasurer for this purpose was the sum of £3,000 mentioned by the honorable member, and left-off clothing of that value was supplied on the Treasurer’s order and distributed in the honorable member’s electorate. When it arrived, the honorable member apparently was under the impression, or he developed the impression, as did the Mayors in his electorate, that entirely new clothing should have been supplied. It was then subjected to their criticism. Although it was left-off clothing and it was the distinct understanding that it should he, the local authorities declared it to be unsuitable and rejected it; hut subsequently, on the investigation of my officers, it was found to be in as good condition as any left-off clothing previously distributed, as was proved by the fact that it was readily taken up by other people to whom it was given, when the local authorities in the honorable member’s electorate rejected it.
– Is it correct that a large number of radio receiver set manufacturers of Australia have requested the Minister for Trade and Customs to permit them to put their case before the Tariff Board before changes are made in the duties on metal valves, and has the Minister decided to accede to that request?
– There is no intention of raising the duties on metal valves as was erroneously reported in the press and corrected by me. A firm called the Radio Corporation, known to honorable members in this House for its propaganda, has sent me a wire saying that it will issue a writ of mandamus if the Government decides toincreaseduties without referring the matter to the Tariff Board, but, I repeat, it is not the Government’s intention to take any action. The question of increased duties on metal valves is not before the Government.
– During the brief sittings of Parliament a short time ago the Minister for Commerce informed me that the Government would give consideration to the question of making some provision for assisting the poultry farming industry owing to the fact that poultry farmers were hard hit because of the rise of the price of poultry food. Has the Government given consideration to the matter, and is it intended to do anything in regard to it before the elections ?
– Representations have been made with regard to the question of providing a bounty on exports. The Government has given consideration to that request but has been unable to accede to it.
Effect of Change of Government
– I ask the Treasurer whether, during his recent visit to England, he expressed in the press the sentiment that the money market abroad was rendered more stringent and difficult by reason of apprehension of a change of government in this, country? If the’ honorable gentleman found that there existed a widespread international feeling that there was to be that change of government, what does he propose to do about it?
– The honorable gentleman has answered himself. I do not think that I have indulged in any speculation about a change of government in relation to Australia’s prestige overseas. I have my own views on the subject, which I expect the honorable gentleman will be able to surmise. I have not made any statement in the matter; but, as the honorable gentleman has questioned me, I shall say that Australia’s prestige overseas would certainly be enhanced by the continuance in office of the Lyons Government.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs state when he proposes to lay on the table of the House the report of the Tariff Board in connexion with refrigerators?
– All Tariff Board reports have to be considered by the Government before any action in relation to them is taken in this Parliament.
–Has the Tariff Board conducted an inquiry in connexion with refrigerators ? If so, has it made a report to the Government? If it has, when does the honorable gentleman propose to place it before Cabinet for consideration?
– The Tariff Board has conducted an inquiry into this industry, but its report has not yet been received by me as Minister.
Effect on Australian Trade.
– Has the Minister for Commerce received any advice from the Australian Trade Commissioner in China as to the effect of the hostilities in that country on Australian trade in North China? Have any arrangements been made for this officer to remain in Shanghai to protect Australian interests, or is it proposed that he shall move to Hong Kong iti order to watch the further development of Australian trade in southern China?
– Discussions have been held by cable with the Australian Trade Commissioner in Shanghai. He lias expressed the opinion that the bestinterests of Australian trade would be served by his remaining in Shanghai and keeping in touch with events there.
Purchase by British Australasian Tobacco Company.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs aware that, in the purchase of tobacco leaf this year, the British Australasian Tobacco Company has adopted the policy of declining to purchase some of the darker grades of leal’ which it has customarily purchased freely in recent years? In view of the importance of the industry, and the amount which this Government has spent in fostering its development, is tha Government content to -see the stability of the industry jeopardized by the decision of one company, which has practically a monopoly in the purchase and manufacture of Australian leaf?
– I have no knowledge of the British Australasian Tobacco Company having adopted such a policy, but I shall have inquiries made to ascertain the position. I know that the Government’s policy of seeing that a certain proportion of Australian leaf is blended with imported leaf - otherwise a higher duty must he paid - has very considerably helped Australian tobaccogrowers and the industry as a whole. Generally speaking, the growers - in Victoria, at any rate - are content.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether, among the many examples of. death-bed repentance which may be expected from the Government during the next few weeks, serious consideration will be given to the restoration of pensions to £1 a week?
– As there is no death-bed in prospect for this Government in the immediate future, the question does not. arise.
– I ask the Minister for
Trade and Customs what steps the Government has taken to correct a position that has arisen in the motor bodybuilding industry by reason of its trade diversion policy? As Great Britain is busily engaged in the manufacture of armaments it is unable to supply the panels that are needed and they cannot be obtained from the United States of America, with the result that there is a shortage in Australia and many workers have been dismissed from their employment.
– The honorable member rather misunderstands the position. Very few panels are imported into Australia. I believe that hehas in mind motor body steel, of which there was a shortage that led to the temporary dismissal of some employees in motor body works in Adelaide.
– And in Sydney.
– I understand that these employees have again been absorbed in the industry.
– Has the Treasurer received any representations from shire councils, particularly the Tweed Shire, requesting the Government to make available the sum of £1,000,000 for roads other than highways - trunk, main and developmental roads? If this request has been made by many shire councils in New South Wales, and possibly in other States, and has been sponsored by the Tweed Shire, has the Government given consideration to it; if so, with what result?
– Within the last few weeks I have received through various honorable members a number of representations on the general subject. I do not remember whether the Tweed Shire was one that made representations. The matter did not need any additional consideration, because the Government has considered it many times in the past. The answer that I gave was identical with that which I have alwaysgiven, namely, that the Commonwealth Government can deal only with the State governments which can expend these moneys as they think fit. No restraint is imposed on them, other than that the expenditure must, be on roads.
– Will the Treasurer state whether the money made available under the agreement may be expended on any roads for the construction or maintenance of which the State authorities may desire to use it?
– The new agreement was embodied in an act passed by this Parliament in July last when I was overseas. In the draft of the bill, which I saw before I left Australia, no restriction was placed upon the States as to the kind of roads on which the money could be expended.
– But there is a restriction now.
– I understand that no alteration has taken place in that respect. The money may be expended on roads or works in connexion with transport, and, as far as I am aware, no other restriction has been imposed.
– 1 ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if you can advise me as to where the refrigerator in the parliamentary bar was made, when it was purchased, and what it cost?
– I shall obtain the information for the honorable member.
– When a cyclone swept Darwin last March, the Ministerfor the Interior announced through the press that the sum of £3,000 had been allocated for the relief of distress. I ask the honorable gentleman if the press report is correct that the meagre sum of £150 has been allocated, and that no person may receive more than £10? If that be correct, will he see that those whose houses were demolished are adequately recompensed ?
– The honorable gentleman began his question on an entirely wrong assumption. The sum to be made available was £2,000, not £3,000, and it was merely for the purpose of restoring government buildings, not private residences. The lower amount to which he referred was given by the Government as a compassionate grant to very poor householders.
– Will the Minister for Defence give consideration to the rescission of the recent order of the Defence Department, for the eviction of unemployed persons from defence land at Nobby’s Head, Newcastle, at least until arrangements can be made for housing them elsewhere?
– I cannot undertake to issue instructions for the rescission of the order, but I shall look into the matter.
– I lay on the table-
Report of the Royal Commission on Monetaryand Banking Systems, dated 16thJuly,1937. and move -
That the paper he printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Curtin) adjourned.
Thefollowing papers were presented : -
Health and Pensions Insurance - Report by Sir Walter S. Kinnear, Controller of Insurance Department, Ministry of Health, London.
Commonwealth Grants Commission Act - Report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission on applications made by the States of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania for Financial Assistance in 1937-38 from the Commonwealth under Section 96 of the Constitution.
Ordered to be printed.
Air Navigation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1937, No. 81.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1937 -
No. 12 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia and others; Commonwealth Storemen and Packers’ Union ; Commonwealth Naval Storehousemen’s Association : Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers Federation and others ; Amalgamated Engineering Unionand others.
No. 13 - Amalgamated Engineering Union; Australasian Society of Engineers; Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen; Australian’ Workers’ Union; Electrical Trades Union of Australia; and Federated Society of Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders, and Structural Iron and Steel Workers of Australia.
No. 14 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia; Amalgamated Engineering Union; and Australasian Society of Engineers.
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunals - Reports from 1st July,1936 to 30th June, 1937.
Customs Act - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1937- Nos. 72, 73.
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory R-ules 1937, Nos. 76, 79.
Financial Relief Acts - Regulations amended -Statutory Rules 1937, No. 84.
Jury Exemption Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1937, No. 75.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at - Bullsbrook, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
Coffs Harbour, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Junga, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
Nailsworth, South Australia - For Postal purposes.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1937, Nos. 80, 89.
Papua Act - Infirm and Destitute Native? Account - Statement of Transactionsof Trustees for year 1936-37.
Papua and New Guinea Bounties Act - Return for year1936-37.
Public Service Act. -
Appointments - Department -
Attorney-General’s - L. H. Walker.
Commerce - L. Moody.
Interior - L. C.Bejl, J. H. Glasscock,
J. J. Hogan, J. W. Lillywhite, W. S.
Lucas, A. R. Martin and P. Squires.
Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1937, Nos. 78, 87, 90, 91.
Raw Cotton Bounty Act - Return for year 1936-37.
Sulphur Bounty Act - Return for year 1936-37.
Transport Workers’ Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1937, No. 82.
Wine Export Bounty Act - Return for year 1936-37.
Wine Overseas Marketing Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1937, No. 77.
– I lay on the table the following paper : -
Imperial Conference 1937 - Summary of “ Proceedings” . and move -
That the paper be printed.
On his return from the Imperial Conference held in 1930, the then Prime Minister, the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), said that he was more convinced than ever of the importance of being represented at the Imperial Conference, and thus having opportunities to discuss economic conditions with the heads of other governments in the British Commonwealth. He also stated that experience had shown that, whilst the work of an Imperial Conference could not be judged solely on the basis of the tangible results at the time, each conference gave an added impetus to forces which had been set in motion, perhaps, many years previously, and, in this way, definite and far reaching changes in the political and economic organization of the British peoples were brought about. I heartily endorse those remarks. The Conference which I recently attended will have far-reaching effects, and I am confident that the demonstration of solidarity of all those countries forming the British Commonwealth of Nations will have a very beneficial result, particularly in the cause of world peace.
It has been said that the world is in arms; I need scarcely refer to the regrettable struggle in Spain, the more recent conflict in the Ear East, and the widespread fear that another major wall’s possible. In these circumstances it is of paramount importance that the British Commonwealth of Nations should show a united front, thus giving to its peoples a feeling of security and confidence in the future. At the recent Conference, the unity of opinion and purpose of delegates deeply impressed all those who participated, and must have an influence for good, even beyond the confines of the British Empire. There was no attempt to shirk issues or avoid difficulties. It was demonstrated that a great Empire, composed of many different races, speaking different languages, widely separated, yet united by many ties of tradition, sentiment, and mutual good-will and understanding, and above all, by a common allegiance to the Crown, could establish a harmony of aims and policy.
One of the most important subjects discussed at the Conference was that of foreign relations. The present’ inter- national situation is such that all representatives realized that on them devolved the responsibility, not only of making a definite contribution to general world appeasement, but also of clearly indicatingfundamental principles for which the Empire stood. Consultation on all questions of foreign policy affecting their common interests has been consistently and satisfactorily practised between members of the British Commonwealth on the principles agreed to at the 1926 Conference. The 1937 Conference had a real significance in that it was thefirst to be held since the autonomous status of the Dominions had been recognized by statute, and the delegates met on a basis of completeequality as representatives of selfgoverning states, each contributing its own distinctive views. There was thefreest exchange of views by all the representatives, who gave expression to the national aspirations, problems, and needs of their peoples. In the light of the knowledge thus gained, the representatives were in a position to formulate policy and principles on issues which demanded consultation and cooperation.
During the discussions consideration was given to the general international situation, with particular reference to the League of Nations, Europe, the Pacific and the Far East. Comprehensive reviews of these subjects were given by the Secretary of State for Foreign. Affairs, and the various delegations submitted the views of their respective governments. Complete documentary and oral information was placed before the Conference, which was thus fully seised of all the factors contributing to the formulation and conduct of British foreign policy in recent years. As a result of these personal discussions, the representatives obtained a deeper understanding and a clearer appreciation of the anxieties and difficulties which had confronted Great Britain in its unswerving efforts to maintain and ensure peace. They realized how much a troubled and harassed world owed to Britain’s example and efforts, and they determined to strengthen, as far as possible, the courageous and farsighted lead it had given to the world in the cause of peace.
The Conference made clear, without doubt, that the predominant ideal and purpose of the British Commonwealth waa peace, and that all efforts would continue to be directed to the end of securing world appeasement and peace. At the first Plenary Session of the Conference, I expressed, in the following words, the hope that some clear statement would ‘ emanate from the Conference as to the principles for which the British Empire stood in international relations: -
All democratic peoples, and all who desire the maintenance of international law and order, are hoping for positive results from this Conference. They look for a clear lead along the path of stable and enduring peace, and the Australian Government feels that a statement should issue from this Conference which will demonstrate to the rest of the world that the countries composing the British Commonwealth of Nations are prepared to act together in support of the maintenance of international law and order.
As a result of the work of this Conference wo can make a great contribution to the stabilization and pacification of the world. It is my sincere hope that we shall rise to the height of our opportunity.
The members of the Conference agreed that the establishment and maintenance of peace could be furthered by a public expression of their ideals and desires, by a demonstration to the world of their unity of thought in international affairs, and by a declaration of their intention to co-operate in matters of common interest. As a consequence, a statement of “ general propositions “ of foreign policy was adopted by the Conference. The 1926 Imperial Conference was noted for its definition of the constitutional relationships of the members of the British Commonwealth. The 1937 Conference will be remembered as that at which were defined the principles for which the British Commonwealth stands in the field of international relations and conduct. The complete declaration is contained in the report, hut the main principles may be summarized as follows : -
Stated shortly, this declaration means that the chief aim of the policy of members of the British Commonwealth is peace, that aggression will not be countenanced, and that they stand for the principles of public law and order. They hold tenaciously to the ideal of democratic government and institutions, hut, in a spirit of tolerance, believe in the freedom of every nation to decide its own political forms. They stand for the solution of all disputes between nations by agreed international means, and not by resort to force. Finally, it should be emphasized that this declaration was based on the principle of the maintenance of friendship with all the nations of the world, to the exclusion of none. The general agreement reached on the principles I have enumerated, and the frank exchange of views which preceded it, not i only contributed to the furtherance of our common aims and ideals, but, we sincerely hope; will also assist in the promotion of international goodwill and understanding.
At the first Plenary Session of th*; Conference, I indicated that Australia would welcome a regional understanding and pact of non-aggression in the Pacific, and that we would be prepared to collaborate with all other peoples towards the achievement of such a pact. The idea of a Pacific pact is one in which the Commonwealth Government has for some time been interested. It was raised specifically in both the House of Representatives and the Senate when, the Government announced its proposals for the reform of the Covenant of the League, in precisely the same terms as the suggestion was made in London. It is natural that Australia should he concerned particularly with that part of the world in which it is situated. Even before Federation, Australian governments took a special interest in the neighbouring territories of the Pacific Ocean. In recent years our direct contacts with countries bordering on this ocean have greatly increased. Our desire as a nation is to live at peace with our neighbours and to develop our trade with them.
It was with particular pleasure that Australia accepted the invitation to participate in the discussions of the Washington Conference of 1921-22. The Treaties of that Conference had the effect of contributing, in large measure, to the maintenance of the status quo, and to the preservation of peace in the Pacific over a period of fifteen years. At the present time there are tendencies which are likely to disturb that equilibrium. The main treaties relating to disarmament and the maintenance of the status quo in respect of fortification lapsed at the end of 1936, and at the moment there seems no likelihood that agreement can be reached for their renewal. The other Washington treaties are now subject to denunciation at any moment.
Honorable members might also note that it has not been possible to obtain general agreement- for the limitation of naval guns to 14 inches, and this failure nullifies one of the major results of the London Naval Conference of 1936. As a consequence, the Australian Government felt that the time was opportune to make some advance towards securing an understanding which would not only lead to the continued maintenance of friendly relations in the Pacific region, hut would also materially contribute to the general peace of the world.
The proposal, made as it necessarily has been in very general terms, was received with much sympathetic attention and interest, and, as honorable members will note from the declaration on foreign affairs, was generally approved by the Conference as a desirable objective. The report of the Conference refers to the proposal in the following terms : -
They noted with interest the statement made on behalf of the Australian delegation at the opening plenary meeting that- Australia would greatly welcome a regional understanding and pact of non-aggression by the countries of the Pacific, and would be prepared, to collaborate to that end with all the peoples of the Pacific region in a spirit of understanding and sympathy. They agreed that if such an arrangement could bc made it would be a desirable contribution to the cause of peace, and to the continued maintenance of friendly relations in the Pacific, and that it should be the subject of further consultation between governments.
In regard to the decision of Great Britain to re-arm, its government frankly reviewed at the Imperial Conference the series of events which had reluctantly led it to this conclusion - the failure o’f its practical lead in disarmament, the rapidly growing armaments of other powers, the disregard of covenants and the inability of the collective system to afford security against aggression, and finally the realization that British influence for peace in the councils of the world and the preservation of peace itself, was primarily n matter of the strength or weakness of British armaments.
In view of the failure of the League of Nations to guarantee security against aggression, the Conference gave careful consideration to- the question of Empire co-operation for the preservation of peace by ensuring the defence of the Empire against aggression, and at the same time contributing to the general cause of peace and stability. The Conference agreed that these dual objectives were to be obtained by the continuance of the steps already taken by Britain and the dominions to strengthen their defences in conformity with the guiding principles laid down in 1923 and 1926, which were again re-affirmed. These principles were extended by the Conference to provide for the decentralization of the production of munitions so as to diminish, as far as practicable, the dependence of dominions on the United Kingdom, and to provide for the extension of overseas resources in time of emergency.
In regard .to co-operation in Empire defence, the Conference emphasized the resolution of 1923 that it is the sole responsibility of each of the several Parliaments of the Empire to decide the nature and scope of its own defence policy. What, therefore, should be the policy to be placed before the Australian people and Parliament for endorsement in the light of the Imperial Conference? In addition to questions of Empire defence affecting the whole -of the Empire, Australian defence was the subject of the fullest consultation with the Government of the United Kingdom and its advisers. To furnish a clear understanding by the people of Australia of the nature of the forces required for the defence of the Commonwealth, it is necessary to explain the vital interests to be safeguarded. Australia’s vital interests are -
The protection of our seaborne trade depends upon naval forces, which must have adequately defended bases and fuelling stations from which to operate. The stoppage of our overseas trade - valued last year at more than £250,000,000- would have severe repercussions on our national, economy, with a consequent train of ruin, distress and unemployment. In addition, our external credit and the capacity to supplement our local resources in time of emergency by access to overseas sources of vital supplies would be gravely prejudiced. Our coastal trade is also of great importance as its volume is slightly larger than our overseas trade, and freedom of movement by sea is essential to its continuance, even allowing that part might be diverted to rail transport.
As its share in the scheme of naval defence that covers the trade routes of the world, Australia years ago accepted responsibility for the provision and maintenance of such naval forces as are within its financial resources. In the review in London of Empire naval defence, there were the fullest consultations as to the directions in which Australia could cooperate by maintaining and further developing the Royal Australian Navy as an effective part of the Empire’s strength. The Government’s proposals in a new programme will be the subject of a speech by the Minister for Defence during the budget debate, and an important feature will be the fullest possible use of local resources, with consequent advantages to employment and trade generally.
The modernization of the Canberra and Australia, and the construction of three small vessels required for the local seaward defences will be undertaken in Australia at Cockatoo Island dockyard. This work should be of great ‘benefit to workers in the trades concerned and industries from which materials will -be drawn. The Government places great value on local resources for shipbuilding, and, with British shipyards fully employed, it feels that the Australian industry can help at this critical juncture.
The Imperial Conference specially commended the continuance by all parts of the Empire of the work already initiated for strengthening the defence of ports. The coast defence programme undertaken by Australia was reviewed, and provision is to be made in a new programme for its continuance, which will entail much expenditure on buildings and other works. Ultimately, progress on the local naval seaward defences will mean orders’ for local industry in directions other than shipbuilding and allied trades.
A most exhaustive examination was made abroad of the vital question of the liability of Australia to invasion, and, in view of public controversy on this subject, I shall deal with it in some detail. The safety of Empire interests in the Eastern Hemisphere depends upon the presence at Singapore of a fleet adequate to give security to our sea communications. This fleet would provide a threat to the communications of an enemy from any part of the world bent upon the invasion of Australia, and either deter him from aggression, or be able to defeat him should he undertake such an operation. There are, however, important aspects of this question on which it is necessary to clarify the mind of the public:
First. - The Empire naval forces should be maintained at an adequate strength for securing the communications of the Empire. This is one of the Empire defence principles adopted as far back as 1923. A comparison of the capital ship strength of the world’s fleets will show that we are not inferior in strength, and tlie new construction programme of five capital ships will consolidate the position. As indicated by public Statements of the Government of the United Kingdom, there are weaknesses in cruisers and certain other vessels ; these weaknesses are rapidly being overcome, but the burden is a heavy one for Great Britain, and the dominions have their part to play is providing squadrons for their own waters.
Second. - An adequate fleet would proceed to Singapore in emergency. The necessary strength exists for this purpose, and it is obvious that the United Kingdom would not expend a huge sum on a fleet and a base at Singapore for the protection of its own vast interests if it did not intend to safeguard them should the need arise. The same fleet and base which are a shield to the interests of the United Kingdom also safeguard Australia and other parte of the Empire.
A condition essential for an aggressor to invade Australia is an assurance of command of the sea line of communication for a sufficient period to enable his object to be achieved. With the British fleet in existence, even on the other side of the world, he cannot be certain of being allowed time to complete his operations, or of not being confronted with a superior naval force. Should he accept the time risks involved, our army and air force furnish us with the means to resist him until help is forthcoming.
Third. - It may be suggested that Singapore might be captured or neutralized before the fleet arrived. This cannot be dealt with in public beyond stating that the base is now a very powerful fortress and its defences are being further strengthened. As it is the keystone of Empire defences in the Eastern Hemisphere, its capacity to fulfil its function should be undoubted.
It will be evident from the foregoing that Australia has a real and vital interest in Empire naval defence, as the first line of defence against invasion. It is important, therefore, that we should continue to maintain the Royal Australian Navy at a strength, which is an effective and fair contribution to Empire naval defence, and as already indicated, increased provision to this end will be made in the new programme.
The solution of the Australian defence problem is not furnished by any one service, for all have their parts to play in a balanced scheme. The growing strength of the Air Force is becoming a valuable insurance against invasion, for an invader must be confident of being able, on arrival, to operate air forces adequate to ensure air superiority during the landing and subsequently to protect the expedition and its reinforcements and supplies on arrival at their destination, against action by the air forces of Australia. The development of the Air Force will render it increasingly difficult for an invader to establish such air superiority with ship-borne aircraft against land-based aircraft. Sir John Salmond expressed the view that, on the completion of Part I of his recommendations for defence against raids, the Air Force “ would comprise a balanced composite force, which should by its potential offensive power offer a serious deterrent to invasion.” Part I of the revised Salmond scheme provided for under the three-years’ programme is practically completed, and Part IT. is to be’ commenced under the new programme. As it progresses, reinforcement will be added to Sir John S almond’s view.
Endorsement was obtained abroad of the general lines on which the development of the Air Force is proceeding, and it is now a question of money, together with sound and economical development, of the extensive ground organization, recruiting and training of personnel, and manufacture of aircraft. The improvement in aircraft, with consequent increase of initial cost, maintenance and replacement, is a new factor requiring careful consideration in the financial aspect of air” force expansion.
As a further deterrent to invasion, the Australian Field Army is organized in seven nucleus divisions, and increased provision is being made in the new programme for its maintenance on an efficient basis. To be able to defeat a force of this size, an invader would have to come in strength, but the scale of preparations and armaments is to-day much larger owing to greater complications in war material, the more varied composition of armies, and the fact that an expedi tion must be prepared, on arrival at its abjective to meet and overcome the shorebased air forces of the defence. A large expeditionary force requires to-day a big fleet of ships of all types which must be followed by a continual stream of reinforcements and war material. Such a convoy would be extremely vulnerable to naval attack, and, as already stated, an essential condition to such an adventure is command of the sea.
Accordingly, the Government has reached the conclusion that the first line of security against invasion is naval defence, with the army and air force supplementing and co-operating. If the enemy attempts aggression and must be resisted, it is far preferable to fight him away from our shores than when he is seeking to land on our coasts or has actually established himself in our territory. If the Empire’s naval defence be reduced to impotence, the army and air force will not furnish the means of preventing our being brought to terms by economic pressure exerted by a powerful aggressor possessing command of the sea. If the enemy also had powerful land and air forces, these and his free access to the world’s resources of supplies, would present us with a formidable military task. Finally, it is outstanding in military history that the future of oversea territories has always been decided by the outcome of the war in the main theatre. In the case of Australia, that means the struggle between the British and enemy fleets for the control of sea communications.
The defence of Australia against raids was also the subject of consultation with the United Kingdom Government and its advisers. As stated in the defence policy speech of December, 1935, the Government’s local defence policy under the three-years’ programme, was on the recommendation of local and overseas advisers, based on priority being given to defence against raids as the most probable form of attack, and the programmes of the three services were co-ordinated on this basis. As sea power alone cannot- afford a complete defence against raids, the Government’s three-years’ programme provided for a substantial part of the re-armament of the fixed coast defences and increased garrisons at the main ports, which are important for naval or shipping purposesor are vital commercial and industrial centres. Part I. of the Salmond scheme for air defense against raids has also been practically completed, providing for air squadrons in close co-operation with the navy and army, and squadrons for a striking force in their independent role.
Endorsement was given of the lines on which the land and air defence against raids is being developed, and the new programme will provide for further substantial progress inthose directions.
Behind our defence forces must exist -
Adequate reserves of munitions;
Establishments for the local production of special types of munitions not produced by industry ;
An aircraft industry;
A plan for the organization of industry in order to supply the services in time of war.
The principles laid down by the recent imperial Conference relative to the production and supply of munitions and raw materials, as well as food and feedingstuffs in time of emergency, are as follow : -
That there should be developed in time of peace in different parts of the Empire, resources for the manufacture of munitions, as well as for the supply of raw material, with the following objects in view : -
The new programme of the Government will provide for important new government factories which, while increasing local self-sufficiency, will also relieve Britain of the responsibility of meeting our demands and contribute to the needs of the Empire in an emergency. The early completion of these factories will enable Australia to participate in orders for peace-time supplies required by the Government of the United Kingdom and possibly other dominions. This expansion will be advantageous to Australian workers, not only at the factories concerned, butalso in the industries supplying raw materials. As these factories will be allied to existing establishments, they will be built in proximity to the latter, but in any future new expansion the Government will consider the practicability of decentralizing production where possible.
Preliminaries are now being completed to call for tenders from local manufacturers for orders of an educational nature so that the potentialities of industry may be accurately gauged. These orders will further contribute to employment and trade generally, and ultimately should lead toindustry participating in the building up of the necessary reserves of munitions.
The opportunity was taken in London to explain fully the reasons underlying the establishment of the aircraft industry in Australia, and there was general endorsement of the soundness of this decision.
Prior to the consideration of a new programme last financial year, the Council of Defence appointed a sub-committee of experts to report on the guiding principles that should be observed in the allotment of any future development expenditure after the completion of the three years’ programme in June, 1937. The sub-committee reported that the policy as already laid down established a broad basis for guidance in any future programme, and observed that, as in the case ofthe three years’ programme, it would be for the Government to decide the amount that could be made available for any future programme, and the priority of the purposes to which the sum would be applied.
During the Imperial Conference, the Commonwealth Government submitted to the Government of the United Kingdom -
General confirmation of the basis of Australia’s policy was given by the Government of the United Kingdom and its advisers, who also stated that the priority of provision for defence was generally appropriate. The views of the subcommittee of Australian experts that the policy already laid down establishes a broad basis for guidance in any future programme, were also agreed with.
Suggestions to re-arrange the priority of certain of the items in the draft programme were made for the consideration of the Australian Government, and they have been generally adopted, except in one or two instances where the decision was dependent on certain indicated alternatives or local considerations.
The following is, therefore, an outline of the basis of the defence policy which the Government considers essential for the security of Australia, and which has been endorsed by its own expert advisers and by the Government of the United Kingdom and its advisers. It is commended to the people and the Parliament of the Commonwealth as a balanced policy providing for all aspects of Australia’s defence problem.
Land Defence. - Supplementary to Empire sea. power as the first line of Australia’s defence against invasion, the Army organization provides for a field army of seven divisions. Since sea power alone cannot provide a complete defence against raids the Army organization should provide for the defence of vital localities by means of : -
The Government’s policy for the development of civil aviation envisagesits facilities, personnel and resources as a valuable adjunct to air defence.
The policy of the Government is to provide government factories for the manufacture of the types of essential munitions which have no counterpart in commercial industries, and to ensure that the development of the services is supplemented by a corresponding degree of progress in the local capacity for the production of munitions.
Parallel with the development of government factories, the Government is fostering commercial industries, and thereby systematically adding to the country’s resources of raw material, stores and manufacturing establishments.
The functions of the Principal Supply Officers’ Committee are to prepare a statement of the requirements of the services in war time, to examine these in relation to the stocks and productive resources of the country, and to prepare plans for mobilizing the resources of industry in an emergency.
Programmes for the provision of complements and reserves of war material, and their maintenance and replacement will be governedby the principles governing each service and the priorities referred to in (e).
The detailed directions on priorities given to the services under the three years’ programme will continue to apply.
In regard to the basis of policy outlined I would say it is an unavoidable geographical fact that the first line of defence of the Commonwealth is naval, and if we expect a British Fleet to hebased on Singapere as a safeguard to Australia, we must be prepared to co-operate and provide for the squadron necessary in our own waters. “With such security provided the enemy is kept at arm’s length, our shores are maintained inviolate, and our overseas trade moves freely to its markets throughout the world. In a world armed to the teeth and with small states existing on the. sufferance of powerful neighbours and looking for allies, it is not likely that the Australian people will accept a policy of non-co-operation which would deprive them of Britain’s powerful aid in such uncertain times as these. Our people are wise enough to realize that our defence rests on two pillars, one of which is our own -maximum effort, and the other Empire co-operation. Furthermore, in co-operating in Empire naval defence, Australia does not enter into any commitment or surrender any vestige of the sovereign control of its own policy.
The following is a recent expression of New Zealand’s views on Empire cooperation by the Prime Minister of that dominion. Mr. Savage said -
If the British Commonwealth of Nations were to live they must work together, and New Zealand could not separate from the Common wealthany more than the Commonwealth could separate from the rest of the world.
In emphasizing the importance of naval defence, the aspect of Australian local defence is not minimized, as the Government is steadfastly pursuing the development of the air force, army and munitions supply organization, for we owe it to Britain that we should do all we can to help ourselves. However, the basis of Australia’s defence policy, as outlined earlier and confirmed by the best technical advice obtainable here and abroad, is a joint matter, in which the Navy, Army and Air Force all have their parts to play.
The concluding observation relates to the momentous question of the time within which any stage of progress should be completed. Much remains to be done to attain the strengths in view, and progress is a question of finance and obtaining the maximum security from the expenditure involved.
The Government has endeavoured faithfully to discharge the grave obligation which has rested upon it for the defence of the Commonwealth. Its defence record is the most outstanding one for achievement in this direction since federation. After providing an additional £1,500,000 in 1933-34 to place the Forces on a more satisfactory footing, it embarked on a three-years’ programme in 1934-35, which has entailed an average annual amount of £7,600,000. This financial provision has never been equalled or the purposes of the expenditure more emphatically endorsed by expert opinion.
As already intimated, provision will be made in the forthcoming budget for the next step to strengthen the defence of Australia, and when returned to power the Government will vigorously pursue the completion of the policy outlined.
Mr.Curtin. - This is more a propagandist essay than a report of what happened at the Imperial Conference. It is utterly irrelevant to what happened at the Conference.
– The policy I am outlining is absolutely in line with the decisions and recommendations of the Conference.
The Conference constituted a special committee for consideration of civil air communications, and the following is a summary of its conclusions: -
Australia’s policy of an effective voice in local control is provided for in this resolution.
Certain constitutional questions were listed on the agenda for the Conference. Before the opening of the Conference, a committee of officials was appointed with a view to clarifying the issues, and subsequently the work was carried on by the Constitutional Committee appointed by the principal delegates.
The Union of South Africa listed certain questions, including “ nationality,” i.e., the common status possessed by all subjects of His Majesty, and based on a common allegiance to the Crown.
The Union Government in its memorandum to the Conference referred to the report of the Conference on the Operation of Dominion Legislation held in 1929. The report which was adopted at the Imperial Conference of 1930, recommended that steps should be taken by consultation to arrive at a settlement of the problems involved. The report of 1929 dealt with the concepts of “ nationality.” and “ common status “ and recognized both -
The report expressly stated that the recognition of what may be called dominion nationality is “in no way inconsistent with the maintenance of the common status”. The Conference of 1930 resolved -
The Union of South Africa desired to discuss at the 1937 Conference -
Difficulties have arisen’ because “nationality” has come to mean two quite different things in different parts of the British Commonwealth. For example, Canada in . 1921, and South Africa in 1926, each found it necessary to define legislatively what persons belonged to its dominions. As the word is used in Canada and South Africa, a person’s “ nationality “ indicates the specific autonomous part of the Commonwealth to which he belongs.
On the other hand, the word “ nationality “ as used in the United Kingdom, in Australia, and in New Zealand, has a different sense. In these countries, the law is based on the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act of 1914, under which British “nationality” is ascribed to all persons who by birth or by naturalization owe allegiance to the King. Such persons are termed “ British subjects “.
Thus the term “ British subject “ in South Africa and Canada means one who oossesses the common status, while in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand it has the dual meaning of one who possesses the common status as well as one who has identified himself with a particular part ofthe Commonwealth.
The Conference had before it several illustrations of the difficulties which arise from the absence of rules for determining to which part of the British Commonwealth a particular person belongs; the most importantdifficulty was in regard to extra-territorial legisla tion. As the dominions now have power to legislate with extra-territorial effect it would appear advisable, it was pointed out, for each dominion to define the persons who are its own nationals and to whom such legislation would apply.
The representatives of the United Kingdom submitted that the wide diversity of territories and races, especially India, for which it was responsible, made it impracticable to adopt a classification covered by the term “ nationals “ or “ citizens “ which would express the particular relationship to the United Kingdom.
It was pointed out by the Australian and New Zealand delegations that the problems with which Canada and South Africa have had to deal do not arise in Australia or New Zealand, and that no difficulties have arisen which make it necessary to introduce legislation to define their nationals. Australia and New Zealand have no common frontier with any other country and the problems of deportation and liability to receive former citizens rarely arise. [Leave to continue given.]
After exhaustive examination of the whole subject, certain conclusions were reached, the main points of which are as follow : -
The Conference also had before it the subject of treaty procedure. This was one of the main matters discussed at the 1926 Conference when the principles of consultation, form, and ratification of treaties entered into by members of the British Commonwealth were laid down. Since then some doubt has arisen, both among members of the Commonwealth, and among foreign countries, as to the exact nature of the obligation entered into in respect of multilateral treaties. With such treaties -
On this question the Conference agreed on the principle -
That each member takes part in a multilateral treaty as an individual entity, and, in the absence of express provision in the treaty to the contrary, is in no way responsible for the obligations undertaken by any other member.
In regard to the nationality of married women, women’s organizations throughout the British Commonwealth have for very many years urged the amendment of the nationality laws to enable a British woman, on marriage with a foreigner, to retain her British nationality. This matter was dealt with at the Hague Conference of 1930. when it was agreed that a woman should not lose her nationality on marriage unless, by the national law of her husband she acquires his nationality, and also that naturalization of the husband during the marriage should not change the wife’s nationality without her consent.
The question came before the Imperial Conference in1930, but it was not found possible to secure agreement for the modification of the existing law beyond the provisions of the Hague Convention of 1930. In the meantime, the Australian Government had intimated on several occasions that it was prepared to accept the principle that a woman on marriage should not lose her nationality or acquire a new nationality without her consent, providing that other parts of the British Empire would also agree. During the Jubilee Celebrations of 1935, the Australian representatives again raised this question, and the discussion which took place indicated that it was not then possible to secure the necessary uniformity.
At the recent Conference the Australian Government submitted a memorandum on the subject, which was referred to the Constitutional Committee. In the discussions of the committee the Australian and New Zealand delegates drew attention to the legislation recently passed in their respective countries which does not affect the common status of British subjects, but under which a woman who, prior to her marriage was a British subject, but ceased to be a British subject by reason of her marriage to an alien, may retain within the Commonwealth of Australia or New Zealand respectively, the political and other rights, privileges and liabilities of a British subject.
The committee carefully examined various aspects of the question, including the difficulties and international complications which would result from the alteration of the present law. Lack of agreement made it impossible forthe committee to submit any recommendations, but it was agreed that the matter would receive further consideration by the respective governments.
The Australian Government asked for questions relating to the Antarctic to be considered by the Conference, and submitted a memorandum on those aspects of Antarctic development and exploration in. regard to which consultation and cooperation were considered desirable by the members of the British Commonwealth concerned. The committee set up for this purpose, after an examination of general questions relating to scientific and economic activities, directed specific attention to two matters: -
In regard to the establishment of meteorological stations in the Antarctic, the Australian delegation had before it certain scientific reports which indicated the need for the establishment of one or two permanent meteorological stations in the Antarctic in the interest of accurate forecasting of weather conditions. Many countries are expending money on taking observations in sparsely populated regions, and it is being realized that weather problems can only be solved by co-operation in the study of the movement and condition of the atmosphere as a whole. TheAustralian and South African delegations felt that the possibility of increasing the reliability of longrange or seasonal weather forecasts merited further consideration, and steps are being taken to obtain as much information as is available on this subject.
As to future exploratory work by the R.R.S. Discovery II. , the main function of this vessel is to carry out research on the economic resources of the Antarctic, especially with regard to whaling; the coasts and islands; the bed of the ocean, and of the ice edge; the distribution of icebergs; meteorological matters, and the coastal currents. The Conference agreed -
It had been decided before the Conference met that matters concerning trade and commerce between particular portions of the Empire should not be discussed at the Conference, but that the Conference should undertake a general survey only of the progress of Empire trade. However, in view of the importance to Aus tralia of a continuance of the general policy underlying the Ottawa agreements, I took the opportunity, in conversations with members of the British Ministry, to express the views of the Commonwealth Government on this matter. Although the period of the 1932 agreements has now expired, I can assure honorable members that the spirit of those agreements still lives. There is no intention on the part of the British Government to depart from the principle of imperial preference and the general policy of Ottawa. Notice giving effect to the desire of the Commonwealth Government to review the agreements as affecting Australia will be given to the United Kingdom Government at an early date, and it is hoped that discussions in regard thereto will commence early in the new year.
At a meeting of the principal delegates, the then president of the Board of Trade, Mr. Runciman, gave a general survey of trade from the viewpoint of Great Britain, in which he referred to the fact that Great Britain and the United States of America were negotiating with a viewto a trade agreement between the two countries. An agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States would, he stated, be a demonstration to the world that the system of imperial preferences, which had proved itself so valuable in promoting trade within the British Commonwealth, was no obstacle to the improvement of trade between the British Commonwealth and other nations.
Discussions in regard to the agreement had, up to the date of his statement, been informal and exploratory only, but a difficulty had already appeared in that the Government of the United States required from Grea t Britain concessions on a range of agricultural products, most of which were the subject of commitments under the Ottawa agreements. The American proposals, therefore, naturally affected the different parts of the British Comm onweal th .
The Australian delegation informed the United Kingdom Government that the Commonwealth Government viewed with great concern the fact that the Government of the United States was seeking concessions on goods in respect of which Australian producers received protection under the Ottawa agreement, and that the attitude of Australia towards proposals for the modification of the Ottawa agreement would he determined by the prospects of securing increased trade in (Other markets. The United Kingdom Government was further informed that, in any case, the Commonwealth Government would he reluctant to agree to any modification of the Ottawa agreement without first going into the whole question of revision, or, in other words, without the substitution of a new commercial agreement between Australia and the United Kingdom.
As the result of the representations of the Australian delegation, the British Government has undertaken to -consult the Australian Government before any agreement is arrived at between Great Britain and the United States of America with regard to any products which are the subject of any agreement between Great Britain and Australia.
During the course of the general discussion on trade matters I pointed out that, to carry out its economic policy, Australia had had recourse to a dual policy, based, on the . one hand, on exchange depreciation, and on the other hand, on steps to reduce our costs of production, and that the remarkable way in which our people had co-operated with the Commonwealth and State governments during the period of depression enabled this combination of policies to achieve considerable success.
The Ottawa Conference was held while the economic blizzard was still sweeping the world. I pointed out that it had so frequently been alleged that Ottawa was one of the causes of the strangulation of world trade that it was desirable to remember that many foreign countries had adopted measures of extreme protection before the Imperial Economic Conference took place. The closing of market after market to the industrial and agricultural products of the Empire had been, indeed, one of the main reasons which impelled the Empire governments to seek within the British Commonwealth stable markets and freer trade. There was no doubt that we successfully achieved these objectives. The steps we then took resulted in a stimulation of the flow of Empire trade, even if they had* not led to an increase of the general volume of world trade. I further stated that Australia had always believed in Empire trade, and had consistently taken steps to develop it, and that we still regarded Empire trade arrangements as being of great importance and, indeed, as vital to our welfare and to that of the British Empire.
The Australian Government did not desire to raise at the Conference the question of the relative advantage secured by the different members of the Empire through our inter-imperial trade agreements. What we did suggest, however, was that it would prove advantageous for each, of us to consider very carefully the effects of those agreements on our several economic positions and future prospects. I pointed out that, while Australia’s experience of our intraimperial arrangements had led to these tentative conclusions, there were even more important considerations which the Australian Government desired to be examined by the Imperial Conference. I referred in particular to the need for resolute and determined efforts to secure a revival of world trade. I emphasized that we believed that the best solution of world trade problems, the best way to secure social contentment and human welfare, and one of the surest roads to ensure world peace, was through an expansion of individual demand, or, in other words, through concerted efforts to secure rising standards of living. It was for these reasons that the Australian Government found itself in the fullest agreement with the terms of the declarations made by the Governments of the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and France, when announcing the currency agreements last September, and I reminded the Conference of the first paragraph in those declarations, which reads; -
His Majesty’s Government, after consultation with the United States Government and the French Government, join with them in affirming a common desire to foster those conditions which will safeguard peace and will ‘best contribute to the restoration of order in international economic relations, and to pursue a policy which will tend to promote prosperity in the world and to improve the standard of living.
I stated that the problem before the Conference was to consider how Empire countries, acting both, jointly and severally, could assist towards a revival of world trade. It was little use proclaiming the value of international trade unless we were prepared to give effect to such measures of co-operation with other nations as might be found practicable. The fact had to be borne in mind that the nations would always place national advantage before any question of international trade. The Australian Government believed that, provided the real long-term national advantage was always given proper precedence above any sectional interest, such policies would actually contribute to the advantage of the whole world, and that it was equally important to remember that purely economic considerations could never be wholly decisive in a nation’s commercial policy. Similar sentiments were expressed by representatives of every part of the British Commonwealth, who agreed that all practicable steps should he token to secure the stimulation of international trade. It was recognized that, in the last resort, the prosperity of the countries of the Commonwealth depends on that of the world as a whole, and that a healthy growth of international trade, accompanied by an improvement of the general standard of living, is an essential step to political appeasement.
The whole position of British shipping throughout the world was considered, together with the steps which most appropriately could be taken to retain for British shipping the carrying work which it has undertaken in. the past. Data, placed before the Conference by the British Board of Trade showed that there was a great disparity between the volume of sea-borne trade and the carrying power available. [Further leave to continue given.) The reduction of trade which had taken place since 1929 had accentuated this disparity and consequently the whole question was one of considerable difficulty. In respect of both liners and cargo vessels, many countries of the world have had recourse to subsidies to keep their vessels in commission; thus, British competitors had been compelled either to retain sailings at a heavy loss or to withdraw ships.
A committee of the Conference recommended that where it was considered that undue assistance was being given to foreign lines to the detriment of any part of the .British Commonwealth, there should be an opportunity for all governments of the Commonwealth to consult with a view to investigating the position and deciding the steps that might be taken to meet it.
A phase which was of direct concern to Australia was the effect on British lines of the competition of the Americanowned Matson Line running across the Pacific with the assistance of subsidies from the Government of the United States of America. A special subcommittee was set up to deal with this particular question. Negotiations on the subject were prolonged, but the position has now been reached that a draft agreement lias been submitted to the four governments concerned and to the shipping companies. This draft provides for two new ships to replace those of the CanadianAustralasian Line at present on the run. It i3 expected that the agreement will be signed at an early date. A bill will be introduced during the present session to give Parliamentary sanction of the Commonwealth’s part in the arrangement, which will also be subscribed to by the Governments of the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand.
The question of the reservation of the trade of the Tasman Sea to British vessels also concerned Australia. Honorable members are aware that a bill framed with the object of reserving the Tasman Sea trade to British vessels has been introduced in the Senate.
The Conference had before it the report of the Imperial Shipping Committee. This committee, as you are aware, is composed of representatives of the various members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, together with some other persons experienced in shipping and commerce. The Conference took note of the work done by the committee and expressed the opinion that it was desirable that the committee should be continued on the present basis, following the general lines proposed by the Imperial Committee on Economic Consultation and Co-operation in 1933.
The Conference also received a report relating to the work of the Imperial
Economic Committee, and a resolution was adopted placing on record the appreciation of the valuable work done by the members and staff of that committee, and approving its continuance as at present constituted, with the addition of a representative of Burma.
The Australian representatives submitted to the Conference a proposal for the establishment of an Empire Agricultural Council. This suggestion was put forward because at Imperial Conferences the examination of problems arising out of our agricultural pursuits cannot be carried outin sufficient detail. The Australian Government held the view that between conferences, which are held at relatively long intervals only, a council or committee would meet a want felt over the past few years. It proposed that the governments of the Empire should constitute a Council of Ministers to consider matters of agricultural production and marketing. I will not give you in full the arguments adduced by the Australian representatives for the establishment of this council, which found some favour with the Conference. Itwas agreed that the greatest possible measure of cooperation should be aimed at. Doubts were expressed by some delegates whether many of the problems mentioned were such as could be dealt with best by an organization such as was proposed. The idea, too, that certain work which was now being done might be duplicated was prominently in the minds of representatives, who came to the conclusion that the Imperial Economic Committee, the terms of reference of which have been revised by the resolutions of successive Imperial Conferences, might be qualified to discharge most of the functions proposed for the Agricultural Council. Any subjects not touched by the Imperial Economic Committee or by the Imperial Agricultural Bureaux could be dealt with by ad hoc bodies. For these reasons the Conference decided that the establishment of an Empire Agricultural Council could not be recommended.
In conclusion, I should like to express ray deep appreciation of the very valuable services rendered to the Commonwealth by my colleagues, the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) and the Treasurer (Mr.
Casey), and by the High Commissioner (Mr. Bruce), and of the unremitting efforts of the officials attached to the delegation to cope with the detailed work of the Conference. The staff of the Australian delegation was numerically smaller than that from any other dominion, but I am pleased to say that the work was performed with the utmost efficiency. I thank honorable members for the patience they have displayed in listening to the long recital which it was essential that I should make.
– Ordinarily I should have allowed the question to pass without debate, but in view of one or two strictures in the statement of the right honorable gentleman which to me appear to have little relationship to the proceedings of the Imperial Conference I propose to debate the matter.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Curtin) adjourned.
Motions (by Mr. Lyons) - by leave - agreed to -
That the Chairman of Committees shall, on each sitting day during the absence of Mr. Speaker, take the chairas Deputy Speaker, and performthe duties and exercise the authority of Mr. Speaker during such absence.
That during the unavoidable absence of Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Speaker be authorized to call upon any of the Temporary Chairmen of Committees to relieve him temporarily in the chair.
Sitting suspended from 6.7 to 8 p.m.
– by leave - The International Sugar Conference, held in London from the 5th April to the 6th May of this year, was, in- effect, the culmination of prolonged efforts by many sugarproducing countries to deal with the related problems of excessive stocks of sugar, world over-production, and very low prices in world markets. The sugar depression started nine years ago, and so preceded the general world economic depression by some years. For the nine years up to the end of 1936, the price of raw sugar in the world’s markets was little more than half the cost of production, even in the most efficient countries which employ native labour. The London price of ‘raw sugar in bond during that period was usually between £4 and £5 a ton, compared with the estimated cost of production of about £9 a ton, which would enable the great sugar-producing countries, such as Java and Cuba, to work at a profit arid also pay reasonable wages to their workers.
The long-continued period of abnormally low sugar prices produced suffering and great loss in those countries in which sugar is the principal crop. Over-production and excessive world stocks, which a few years ago reached 9,000,000 tons, forced Cuba to reduce its annual production from 5,200,000 tons to 2,300,000 tons, and Java to do so from 2,900,000 tons to as low as 450,000 tons. This abnormal and uneconomic position caused unprecedented chaos and losses in some countries which export all or most of their output. Other countries which produced some part of their own consumption of sugar were obliged to meet .this situation by bounties and payments to enable their producers to meet at least the cost of production.
Australia, happily, did not require to increase its domestic price, but actually was able to reduce it four years ago, this being due partly to continued improvement in the already high efficiency of the Australian sugar industry, and partly to lower wages and other costs which followed from the general economic re-adjustment during 1931. Even so, sugar exports from Australia have been giving unsatisfactory financial returns, despite assistance from exchange and British and Canadian tariff preferences, so that the industry’s position during 1936 had become substantially weakened, to the marked detriment of the producers, as is clearly shown, apart from other indications, by the very small amounts now received from sugar producers in respect of Federal and State income taxation.
Reverting to the general world sugar position, honorable members may recall that in May, 1931, the International Sugar Agreement, known as the “ Chadbourne “ plan, was signed by representatives of Cuba, Java, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Belgium and Pern. The objects of this plan were the immediate reduction of world sugar production to a figure below the then current consumption, and the segregation of excess stocks held by the signatory countries for the purpose of liquidating all excess stocks within five years and thus restoring remunerative world prices. The eight countries which adopted the “ Chadbourne “ plan severely reduced their production and exports, and even went so far, after signing the agreement, as further to reduce their output. Unfortunately, however, several countries outside the plan concurrently increased their production and exports, and thus nullified the sacrifices of the “ Chadbourne “ countries. In these circumstances, world market prices remained hopelessly unprofitable to any sugar exporting nation.
There was such distress in sugarproducing countries that the sugar problem was brought up at the World Monetary and Economic Conference of 1933, which was held under the auspices of the League of Nations. That conference decided to hold -an international sugar conference to deal with the matter.
The Government of Great Britain was requested to convene the conference at the earliest practicable date. . It was clear, after the experience of the “ Chadbourne “ agreement, that no international agreement could succeed unless the great bulk of the world’s sugar production and export fell within its ambit. In consequence, all of the principal sugarproducing countries of the world were invited. Towards the end of 1935, it was expected that the conference would be held about March, 1936, but, owing to difficulty on the part of several large producing countries in sending representatives at that time,»it became necessary to postpone the conference until April 1937, when the attendance of 22 nations was secured, representing about 90 per cent, of all production and exports of sugar in the world.
– Did anybody represent the consumers?
– All of the countries represented at the conference are consumers.
Preparations for the participation of Australia in the conference began a considerable time bcf foreits meeting in London.
Much correspondence by despatch and cable was exchanged with Great Britain during the eighteen months prior to April, 1937, in order to ensure that, when the conference met, Australian interests should not suffer. The Government appointed me as principal delegate to the conference, together with the “High Commissioner, the Eight Honorable S. M. Bruce. “With us was the Premier of Queensland, the Honorable “W. Forgan Smith, who went to London on the invitation of the Queensland sugar producers to watch their interests, and was given recognition by the Commonwealth government as a substitute delegate.
Despite certain political differences, we worked together as a team in complete amity, and we were ably assisted by Mr. Townsend, of the Department of Trade and Customs, and Mr. Pike, who is Agent-General for Queensland in London.
The representatives of the British Empire countries met frequently to decide their attitude towards new situations that frequently developed as the conference proceeded
The conference, which extended over a month, held a large number of meetings, both in public and in private. The conflicting interests of a wide range of countries necessitated protracted negotiations.
These were of an intricate kind, because 22 countries in practically every part of the world were represented, and their interests were divergent. But all of them had one aim, namely, to secure the right to export as large a proportion as possible of their output of sugar to the world’s markets; in other words to sacrifice as little as possible of .their export trade. Therefore, honorable members will appreciate the difficulties inherent in the negotiations from the beginning. Great Britain produces beet sugar, and South Africa is a large producer of cane sugar. Canada, though a small producer, is a net importer. The’ British colonies, which were represented by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, are large sugar producers.
It was my aim, and. the aim of all of us who were concerned with the preparation and presentation of Australia’s case, to endeavour to obtain the right to export as high a tonnage as possible of Australian raw sugar from the lands that are already devoted to sugar production.
In 1936, we exported from Australia 409,000 long tons of raw sugar. That is by far the largest exportation Australia has ever made. The total production in that year was about 750,000 tons. This was due to a number of circumstances, foremost of which was that 1936 was a particularly prolific sugar season. We made efforts from the outset, and fortunately they were successful, to induce the conference to base the Australian quota on the 1936 figures. That placed us in a better position than if the negotiations had been conducted on the basis of 1935, or any series of years prior to 1936. Therefore, we were indeed fortunate in being able to secure that discussion, of future export tonnage at the International Sugar Conference should be on the basis of the 1936 production, and not on that of any earlier, and, for Australia, less productive year.’
By reason of the long experience Australia has had of the economic control of sugar production, and because of the not inconsiderable interests that we had at stake, the Australian delegation took a leading part in the manifold negotiations of the conference, both in the interna- «tional sphere and in the discussions with the representatives of other members of the British Empire. There were manyoccasions when the work of the conference seemed doomed to failure, but the fact that failure to agree would have meant a continuance of conditions approaching chaos in the world’s sugar market, forced acceptance of the allocation of quotas that eventually emerged.
The international sugar agreement contains a carefully devised, five-year plan, to commence on the 1st September, 1937, for establishing and maintaining an orderly relationship between world supply and demand in respect of sugar with the object of securing average prices in the free markets of the world that will be equitable both to producers and to., consumers. The “ free markets “ are those countries which purchase sugar which is not assisted by them by import quotas, preferential tariffs, or any other means. The quantity of sugar so involved is approximately 3,600,000 tons per annum.
The agreement constitutes one of the few outstanding achievements to date in the realm of international economics. There has not previously been a world agreement, dealing with a commodity such as sugar, signed by so many nations or covering such ‘a complex problem. Already the agreement has stabilized the free-market price at nearly 50 per cent, above the average level of the last nine years, and it is not impossible that further price rises will occur in the world’s markets. It guarantees to Australia an irreducible basic export quota of 400,000 long tons or 406,423 metric tons, for each agreement year, starting on the 1st September, 1937 ; and also, after the first year, an addition to that quantity representing Australia’s proportionate share of any increase of the consumption of sugar by those parts of the British Empire which import sugar.
– What will be Australia’s increased share of the British market ?
– I cannot reply offhand in terms of tonnage, but speaking from memory, twelve months hence, the British dominions and colonies will get the advantage of increased export to_ Britain of something like 50 per cent, of the increased consumption of Great Britain. The consumption in Great Britain is increasing at the rate of about 3 per cent, a year, and a good many thousands of tons per annum of that increased consumption will come from Australia a year from now, if the present conditions are maintained.
The minimum quota of 400,000 long tons is actually only 9,000 tons less than the export surplus available from the record 1936 season, which wai partly due to’ phenomenally good climatic conditions in nearly all the sugar districts. When considering this result, it has to be borne in mind that practically every ,other sugar-producing country in the world experienced substantial reductions of its previous export total.
Australia, therefore, emerges from the International Sugar Conference under happy conditions. It is clear that we shall at least be able to maintain the full production that at present exists and that there will be no reduction of. the areas under sugar or of employment in the sugar industry, With the prospect of increased exports in the future as consumption in Britain continues to rise, even better conditions in our sugar districts are more than probable.
– Is there any suggestion of an increased peak production ?
– That would depend on a number of factors such as increased consumption in Australia, with which this agreement is not concerned.
– Is there any competent reason why Australia received such generous treatment?
– There were many arguments which I shall not put forward at this juncture which eventually resulted in this happy state of affairs. The coastal areas in northern Australia are dependent on sugar; there is no other crop which could replace it as a means of livelihood for the people there. Had we been subjected to any diminution of tonnage, unemployment would certainly have been caused in the sugar areas. We have some right in regarding the sheltered market in Great Britain as a privileged market for Australia. We were able to impress that argument upon the representatives of the British Government, and this enabled Great Britain to sponsor our case in some considerable measure in opposition to the arguments of foreign countries which wanted further entry into the British market.
When this agreement comes into force, the present British tariff preference of £3 15s. a ton on dominions sugar of 96 degrees polarization will be renewed for the term of the agreement, that is, five years. Furthermore, I was able when in London to ensure retention of the valuable provision whereby the British Government must give at least eighteen months’ notice of any termination of this preference of £3 15s. a ton on our sugar.. We are certain, therefore, of this preference for at least three aud a half years and probably for the full five years of the agreement.
The agreement will be administered by an International Sugar Council and an Executive Committee. The . Government has appointed the High Commissioner,
Mr. S. M. Bruce; the Official Secretary at Australia House, Mr. S. G. McFarlane; and the Agent-General for Queensland, Mr. L. H. Pike, to act as Australia’s representatives on the council. The first two gentlemen have already been appointed to the provisional council that is doing the preliminary work necessary to bring the agreement into force on the 1st September next. For the very important first year of the agreement, when all the administrative machinery will be created and most of the problems of world control will be determined, Australia has been fortunate enough to secure a seat on the Executive Committee, which will meet far more often than the council and will be responsible for most of the work arising out of the agreement. Mr. Bruce has been appointed to represent Australia on this committee, with Mr. Pike as alternate representative.
The Government took the necessary steps some weeks ago to ratify the International Sugar Agreement, and the instrument of ratification is now in the possession of the Government of the United Kingdom as required by the agreement. The safeguarding for five years of a minimum market for Australian raw sugar practically equal to our previous record export and at improved prices is regarded by the Government as a satisfactory outcome. From the point of view of price, the net return on our exported sugar at to-day’s price is about £1 10s. a ton higher than the average for 1936. This is the direct result of the successful outcome of the conference. On anexport volume of 400,000 tons, this represents increased export income to Australia at the rate of about £600,000 a year.
I need hardly say that the references that I have made to higher prices for sugar are concerned solely with export prices in the markets of the world, and have no relation to the retail price of sugar within Australia, which of course will be unaltered. The position of the Australian sugar industry to-day is that it has a greater measure of security than it has ever enjoyed before, with consequent benefit to more than 30,000 sugar farmers and workers and their wives and families, and the large amount of capital invested in the industry. Reflex influences of an equally favourable character will be felt by the many towns, business people, and municipal authorities in the sugar districts of Queensland and New South Wales, and by State railways, ports, and finances generally. The maintenance of sound, vigorous settlement in the far north is of great importance to Australia for national reasons, and the sugar industry, which is by far the most significant factor in such settlement, has now been assured of continuance at its present level with definite opportunities for a measure of future expansion as the years go on.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Sir Archdale Parkhill) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purpose of a bill for an act to approvean agreement made between the Commonwealth of Australia of the first part, the State of New South Wales of the second part, and National Oil Proprietary Limited, of the third part, and for other purposes.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Sir Archdale Parkhill and Mr. Hunter do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Sir Archdale Parkhill, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The question of the supply of oil for various purposes in Australia and especially for national uses is of paramount importance. No effort has therefore been spared by the Government in the endeavour first to ascertain sources of flour oil and to encourage every likely prospect of finding it. For this purpose the sum of £250,000 has been voted by Parliament and the search is sedulously proceeding on sound, business lines. This represents the greatest and most painstaking effort ever made in Australia for this important aspect of one of the Commonwealth’s most necessary requirements.
Equally extensive and industrious have been the efforts put forward by the Government to foster the industry of producing petrol from the deposits of shale that exist in large quantities in the Commonwealth. If any one is entitled to special mention for unflagging efforts in this direction it is the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) who has laboured with unceasing diligence and industry to re-establish this enterprise at Lithgow. When others were inclined to give up their efforts he persisted in urging the claims of Lithgow and the shale in its vicinity. That the enterprise is again to be started, this time with bright prospects of ultimate success, is largely due to his constant advocacy and persistenceIt is needless to emphasize the ramifications into which this important product extends, and its great value for commercial and industrial purposes. For defence purposes the success of this venture is well worth the great effort that is being put forward. The ordinary demands of the defence forces for oil and petrol on a peace basis are very great, but are not comparable to the immense quantities that would be required in the event of hostilities. Great expense is being incurred to-day for the storage of supplies of oil for defence, but much expenditure on this work would be obviated by the local production of this important product. Therefore, apart from all other considerations, however great and extensive, the importance of providing local supplies of petrol and oil for defence requirements provides a sound and adequate reason, if none other existed, for. the vigorous and comprehensive effort now about to be made.
The object of this bill is to ratify an agreement entered into between the Governments of the Commonwealth and New South Wales and National Oil Proprietary Limited, for the development of the Newnes shale oil undertaking. The agreement represents a positive attempt by two governments in co-operation with an outstanding industrialist to develop a major secondary industry of great national importance. The objective is the production of petrol in Australia in commercial quantities to give the country a measure of independence from outside sources of supply, thus making for additional security and employment.
The enterprise is of great value and potentiality in regard to employment. It will provide direct employment for from 600 to 700 men, and indirect employment for probably over 2,000 people. If it succeeds, marked expansion of the shale oil industry may be anticipated, to include such fields as Latrobe in Tasmania; and Baerami, Murrurundi, Marrangaroo, and other localities in New South Wales, thus greatly widening the avenues of employment.
Newnes will provide the nucleus of an oil-production organization which can, in case of need, be expanded at short notice. What is equally important is that it will become the training ground for young Australian fuel technologists and industrial chemists who will be of great value to our secondary industries in the future. This, in itself, is of great importance, as the opportunities for young men who qualify for a mining and engineering course in Australian universities are all too few. They have, as a general rule, to leave their own country and seek openings in other lands where “ to-day many are occupying high and important positions.
Newnes is situated in the valley of the Wolgan in the Blue Mountains, some 130 miles from Sydney. Some years ago the valley contained a prosperous community, but lately there were only a few still there, a few sustained by memories of former activity and an enduring faith in the ultimate revival of a great industry. A different picture confronts us to-day. Activity has been resumed and new hope inspires the people, not only of Newnes, but also of the whole of the vast middle west of New South Wales. Those hills and valleys of the Blue Mountains will shortly be the scene of great industrial activity and ever increasing employment.
It is. as well that I should at this point describe the Davis Gelatine interests which have been responsible for the formation of “National Oil Proprietary Limited. The Davis Gelatine business in Australia employs about 1,000 people, and branches of it, radiating from Australia, have been established in the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand. This in itself is a very creditable achievement for an Australian industry developed’ by Australian capital. The company recently initiated another, new industry - the production of dry ice from limestone gases. This factory is situated near Mascot, and the limestone is quarried ne.ar Mudgee. This branch of activity already employs from 100 to 150 men, the number varying according to seasonal requirements of ice. Dry ice is coming to be- used extensively for food preservation purposes. Its production here keeps us abreast of world development.
The story of the Davis Gelatine association with Cockatoo Dock is also interesting. The Cockatoo Dock and Engineering Company Limited, which Mr. George Davis formed to take over the dockyard from the Commonwealth Government, has transformed this enterprise into a model of efficiency, providing work under excellent conditions for from 1,000 to 1,200 men. From 1929 to 1933, when the dockyard was taken over by Mr. Davis, the Commonwealth Government lost £220,000 in the conduct of the enterprise. It has been converted into a profitable proposition by the company, which regularly pays rent to the Government. The amount of rent paid during the period of the present lease has totalled £28,673 and this year it will be nearly £15,000. Thus, an enterprise which was costing the Commonwealth £50,000 a year, and employing fewer men than at present has been converted into a source of . profit for the Commonwealth and an increased means of employment for the people. The average total number of employees when the dockyard was under government control, was 450. The average number under the company’s control is 900.
Offers were publicly invited by the Commonwealth Government on the 28th May, 1936, from persons and companies desirous of undertaking the production and marketing of petrol and oil from shale in the Newnes-Capertee oil shale field. This invitation did not meet with any response, and Mr. George Davis was approached regarding the establishment of the industry. Past failures at Newnes had.given to the field the reputation of “ a dog with a bad name “, and many people were not slow to use this in trying to dissuade Mr. Davis from embarking upon the enterprise. He was not daunted, however, and his decision to undertake the enterprise has resulted in the introduction of this bill.
The main provisions of the agreement are that National Oil Proprietary Limited will subscribe capital to an amount of £166,667, conditional upon the Commonwealth Government providing debenture capital amounting to £334,000, and the State of New South Wales providing debenture capital amounting to £166,000. This debenture capital ‘will carry interest at 4-£ per cent. The principal is repayable as a first charge against profits at the rate of one-twentieth each year, subject to the complete repayment of any balance due within thirteen months after the close of a period of nineteen years. In addition to this annual repayment of one-twentieth of the capital, the company is required, after meeting working expenses, taxation, depreciation, and paying a cumulative dividend of 10 per cent, per annum, to apply any additional profits towards the further redemption of debenture capital.
– What happens in the event of failure?
– I shall come to that later. No advances will be made to the company by the Commonwealth or State governments until 166,667 shares in the company of »£1 each have been subscribed and allotted, subject to the payment of the whole amount in cash, and have been paid up to 5s. a share. The company has covenanted to establish the industry by the 1st January, 1940. Failure to do this involves the payment of damages to the Commonwealth and the State governments -totalling £16,000.
The Commonwealth Government will grant protection to petrol produced by the company up to 10,000,030 gallons per annum against imported petrol and petrol produced from imported crude oil, to the extent of the customs duty, excise duty and primage at present operating, for the period ending on the 31st December, 1964. If these rates are reduced, a bounty equivalent to the amount of. the reduction will be paid by the Commonwealth Government on petrol produced by the company. The Commonwealth Government will also permit the entry into Australia,- free of customs duty, of the cracking plant required by the company and such other plant as, in the opinion of the company and the Commonwealth, cannot be satisfactorily and economically manufactured here. The products required by the company for ethylizing its petrol will also be admitted duty free.
As far as may be considered practicable, the Commonwealth and State governments will give preference to the company, for 25 years from the date of the ratification of the agreement, in the purchase of petrol for government departments, provided that ‘ the prices and quality of the petrol are equal to the prices and quality of other petrols.
Another matter of considerable local importance is that the company, within one month from the date of the ratification of the agreement by the Parliaments of the Commonwealth and of New South Wales, will pay to the Commonwealth a sum of £3,500 in respect of an option which the Commonwealth holds over certain machinery, plant and other property at Newnes. It is the intention to apply the - whole of this sum towards the payment of wages of men,- and liquidation of certain debts contracted by a Mr. A. E. Broue, who held an option over plant and machinery at Newnes during 1931.. The disposition of this money was set out by Mr. Broue in an agreement which he entered into with the Shale Oil Development Committee Limited.
Some further explanation of this provision of the agreement is probably necessary. During 1930, the plant and machinery at Newnes were purchased from Messrs. John Eel] and Company by a company known as Shale Oil Investigations Proprietary Limited, formed for this purpose by certain of the Broken Hill mining companies. In 1931, Shale Oil Investigations ‘ Proprietary Limited granted an option over this plant and machinery to Mr. A. E. Broue, who carried out certain work at Newnes. In the same year, the Scullin Government appointed the Shale Oil Development Committee, the functions of which were to conduct investigations into the production of oil from shale at Newnes, and to endeavour to influence private enterprise te operate the project. The committee, in turn, obtained an option over the plant and machinery from Mr. Broue, on the understanding that, if the option were exercised, a sum of £3,500 would be paid by it in respect of wages and debts incurred by Mr. Broue in connexion with Newnes. Although the Commonwealth Government has now no legal obligation in this regard, as ‘the agreement between Mr. Broue and the committee has expired through effluxion of time, the committee has all along insisted that any company formed to develop Newnes should pay a sum of £3,500 for the option to enable these debts, particularly wages, to be met. In other words, this provision has been made to carry out an. undertaking to a number of men still resident at Lithgow and in the neighbourhood of the town who rendered useful service to an organization which had some connexion with the Government.
The Government of New South Wales has undertaken to grant the company mineral leases and to exempt shale from the payment of royalty. In addition, the Newnes products will enjoy a preference of 20 per cent, on freights over the New South Wales railways. If, within the period ending on the 31st December, 1959, petrol is produced from Australian flow oil to an extent that it is impossible for the company, as a result of such production, to operate except at a loss, the Commonwealth and the State have undertaken favorably to consider granting adequate relief to the company.
A very important clause of the agreement provides that the company, before commencing production, shall at its own cost install such additional plant as shall be necessary to permit of the production of fuel oil suitable for use in the Australian Navy. The Commonwealth
Government insisted on this provision, which gives to the enterprise a wider importance as a means to national security.
The first schedule of the agreement is of particular importance, lt provides that it shall be a cardinal principle of the company that it is to be, and remain, under the control of persons who are British subjects. No foreigner shall be qualified to hold, office as a director, or to be employed as one of the principal officers of the company; and no share in the company shall be held by, or in trust for, or be in any way under the control of, any foreigner or foreign corporation, or any corporation under foreign control. This provision should be interesting to those who feel strongly that oil production in Australia should be under British control.
I trust that the bill will be afforded the support which a new national enterprise of such magnitude and importance merits. Successive governments have conducted investigations by committees of inquiry and persons into the possibilities of the production of petrol from shale in this country. The bill represents a real effort to do something. Austra’ia has been far behind other countries in this great national work, and this effort constitutes a well-thought-out project to make up lost ground. T’he shale oil industry of Scotland was established in 1851 and has for long been a source of supply of petrol and oil in the United Kingdom.
– That industry has been “ dumped “ in Scotland in favour of extracting oil from coal.
– I knew that the honorable member for Hunter would say that. Right through my speech this evening he has been referring to the hydrogenation process, which is an entirely different proposition from the one dealt with in the bill. Production in Scotland is expanding. The vital importance of this industry to the British Empire was fully realized during the dark days of 1914-1918. Other countries like Japan are processing shale far inferior to ours. The Manchukuo shale _ yields less than 15 gallons of oil to the ton, compared with the Newnes oil shale which yields over 100 gallons a ton.
Much has been said recently about the nationalization of oil production at Newnes. It is advisable, therefore, that I should clear away any misconceptions which exist in this regard. I would point out that the policy of the Scullin Administration was consistent with the policy of the present ‘Government in connexion with nationalization. In October, 1931, the Scullin Government, when approving an expenditure of £30,000 for exploratory work at Newnes, imposed a condition that any further work there must be carried out by private enterprise. There is substantial doubt, too, as to whether, if the project were nationalized, the Commonwealth Government would legally be able to compete with private enterprise. Cockatoo Dock, when under government control, was restrained from entering into such competition. At present the governments can take only a small proportion of the output of Newnes. The company will need to market the major part of its production in direct competition with private enterprise
The bill deals with a subject of farreaching importance in the national life of the Commonwealth. The expected production will not be sufficient to meet our requirements, but it is a start in the right direction and will, no doubt, be increased as the scheme is developed. Although some of the concessions may, by some honorable members, be regarded as generous, I would remind them thar hundreds of thousands of pounds have previously been expended by private enterprise in schemes to extract petrol from our shale deposits in order .that this country might be relieved of the heavy costs imposed upon it by the oil companies of America. I suggest, therefore, that in the circumstances some sacrifice is not unreasonable. The bill represents a determined attempt to ensure the production of petrol in Australia which, from the point of view of Commonwealth defence, is essential. I therefore commend the measure to the favourable consideration of the House.
– How much did Mr. Davis get for the flotation of the company?
– I know of no payment of that nature.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Forde) adjourned.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
Incommittee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Casey) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to grant and apply out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund sums for the purposes of financial assistance to the States of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.
Standing Orders suspended ; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Casey and Sir Archdale Parkhill do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Casey, and read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The grants for which approval is sought in this bill are those recommended by the Commonwealth Grants Commission to be paid to the States of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania during 1937-38. It has been the custom, hitherto, to introduce the appropriation for these grants by means of separate bills but to debate the three of them together. On this occasion, for the sake of convenience, they are being introduced by. means of the one bill.
The recommendations of the commission are contained in its fourth report, which has been tabled to-day. The proposed grants, compared with those paid during 1936-37, are as follow: -
For the information of honorable members, I submit a table showing the special grants to the three States since 1928-29. The grants paid for the year 1934-35 and following years are those based on recommendations of the Grants Commission -
In presenting similar legislation last yearI wentvery fully into the grounds on which the commission based its recommendations. On this occasion I do not propose to cover that ground so fully, but would suggest that those honorable members who are interested should study both the third and fourth reports of the commission.
I may “mention, in passing, that two of the three commissioners acted during last year for the first time as members of the commission, Associate Professor G. L. Wood, of Melbourne University, and Mr. G. L. Creasey, of Launceston, having replaced Professor Giblin and Sir Wallace Sandford, and the appointment of the two gentlemen first named has been extended to the 31st December next.
Notwithstanding the change in personnel, the commission has based its recommendations broadly on similar grounds to those used in previous years. The possible bases for grants of this kind are narrowed down to those of “needs” or “disabilities”. The Commonwealth has consistently advocated the latter, but the difficulties of assessment appear insuperable, . while on the other hand the commission has evolved a technique in assessing on the “ needs “basis that gives a very workable and reasonable result. In support of its use of this basis the commission in its fourth report makes the following observation : -
Thus, a grant on these principles is not merely for the relief of distress; it covers the offset of forces, arising indifferently from geography, from economic conditions, or from national policy, which tend to make it impossible for a State to give its citizens the standard of public services necessary for a State in the Commonwealth.
The measurementof the needs of the claimant States is based in the first place on their budgetary results in relation to those of certain standard States. This relation is subjected to a number of adjustments designed to make the comparison equitable. These adjustments make allowance for such factors as severity of taxation, differences in the cost of social services, and other relevant factors. The commission does not, however, tie itself to an arithmetical result, and in this regard makes the following observation: -
We do not take the various calculations as a final determinant of the grants, but as the material on which our final judgment is to be exercised. We test the figures by our knowledge of economic conditions of the claimant States, and take into account conclusions which are derived from the movements of the finances of the various States. The commission has now been considering these finances for four years, and is in a position to sec factors operating which are not visible merely from the analysis of accounts or from the presentation of a series of figures.
In one respect the commission has made an important departure from a practice followed in its recommendations for 1935-36 and 1936-37. In its first report the commission arrived at a “ standard “ deficit for comparison with the claimant States by taking into account the financial position of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. In its second and third reports Victoria and Queensland only were used, the commission describing them as “a fairly ‘balanced pair, Victoria with a settled policy of great economy of administration with low taxation, and Queensland of more liberal provision of services with high taxation.” New South Wales was excludedbecause of certain abnormal features in its accounts.
This year New South Wales has been restored as a standard State, a course which I might state was advocated in the evidence submitted by the Commonwealth
Treasury. The commission makes the following observation on this account: -
Without the inclusion of New South Wales, the grants would have suffered a substantial reduction. By the inclusion of that State the giants are lower than in the previous year, but not seriously low. It is fortunate, therefore, that the present year offers a very good opportunity to adopt a course which is logically right, but which could not be followed before because of disturbing features in the finances of New South Wales.
Because of the higher rate of expenditure on social services in New South Wales, this action will probably tend to higher grants than would otherwise have been the case, but the Government agrees with the view of the commission that it is logically right.
In its assessment of the allowance to the claimant States in respect of the cost of services, the commission has, on this occasion, introduced an area allowance to cover the increased cost of social services and administration. This allowance is designed to meet the increased overhead cost of administration over wide and sparsely populated areas.
A feature to which I draw special attention is the advance of £136,000 to Western Australia. The proposed grant for 1937-38 to. that State consists of a grant proper of £439,000 and an advance of £136,000, the total being £575,000. The grants for 1937-38, for which appropriation is now sought, are assessed on the results of the financial year 1935-36, the last year for which complete statistics were available to the commission. As, however, Western Australia has been suffering from a severe drought, the effects of which on its budgetary position are already being felt, the commission recommends an advance of £136,000 so that the State may receive the assistance at the time when it is most. needed.
Mr.Curtin. - The commission has failed to explain why its new system of making an area allowance has not been applied retrospectively. The States affected musthave suffered considerable loss through its omission in the past.
– The commission has never pretended to place its recommendations upon a strictly arithmetical basis. It has gone on investigating and improving its technique year by year.
Honorable members will admit that this is a very difficult subject.
– Hear, hear!
– This, advance is to be . adjusted in the year 1939-40, grants for which will be based on the accounts for the current year, 1937-38. A similar advance of £44,000 was included in the amount paid in 1936-37 and this is due for adjustment in 1938-39.
It would be wrong to suggest that the recommendations of the commission satisfy all the States concerned. The Premier of South Australia (Mr. Butler) has to-day issued a protest against the recommendations in respect of his State. The Prime Minister has replied to this protest, which is largely based upon the fact that the commission has not accepted at their face value all the representations put forward by South Australia. That, of course, the commission was not bound to do. It is a constructive body, but it is also a critical body. The Government has set up a commission of three impartial and capable men whose duty it is to hear and sift the evidence placed before them and to make recommendations. The Commonwealth Government has accepted those recommendations even when the grants were increasing from year to year. Now when, with the return of prosperity, the grants are naturally going down, the Government feels that it is justified in continuing to accept the recommendations of the commission. It is not the duty of the commission to accept unquestioningly the claims of any one State.
These special grants to the States are decreasing as the necessity for them decreases with returning prosperity. This is, of course, to be expected and, as the commission observes, the grants are pursuing a normal course when they decrease with recovery. The decrease is retarded by the time lag attendant on recommendations being based on the results of the last previously completed year, but this time lag is adjusted over a series of years.
It seems unlikely, at least for many years, that a position will be reached when grants will be unnecessary. Some adjustment must therefore be made to enable the less fortunate States to func tion on a basis comparable to the others. It is the aim of the Government that an impartial and periodic examination of the subject be maintained, and, in its opinion, this cannot better be effected than by a commission which impartially examines evidence and economic effects. The Government is confident that the proposed grants for 1937-38 represent a reasonable estimate of the needs of the States.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Curtin) adjourned.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Casey) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue bo made for the purposes of a bill for an act to grant and apply out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund a sum for war pensions.
Standing Orders suspended ; resolution ‘ adopted.
That Mr. Casey and Mr. Thorby do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Casey, and read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to provide £10,000,000 out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the payment of war pensions. This is the usual measure periodically submitted to Parliament for the purpose of appropriating an amount from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for payment into a trust fund in order to meet expenditure for war pensions at the rates already determined by Parliament. The annual rate of expenditure on war pensions is approximately £8,000,000. The total amount appropriated by Parliament to date for the payment of war pensions is £144,000,000, and the expenditure from this amount to the end of August, 1937, will approximate £142,000,000. It will be seen that, at the current rate of expenditure, the balance of approximately £2,000,000 will soon be exhausted. It becomes necessary, therefore, to appropriate a further amount to maintain the regular payments to war pensioners.
The provisions of this measure have no connexion whatever with the rates of pensions or the conditions under which they are payable.
– What is the object of appropriating so large a sum ?
– It has been the custom to appropriate £10,000,000 at a time, but that does not mean that that sum will be taken from revenue immediately. Money will be made available as required. This bill hasno other significance than to give formal authority to the Government to make the appropriation. I commend it to the House.
Debate (onmotion by Mr. Ourting) adjourned.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee. (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Thorby) agreed to -
That it is expedientthat’ an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to provide for the paymentof a bounty on the export of citrus fruits from the Commonwealth during the year One thousand nine hundred and thirty-seven.
Standing Orders suspended ; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Thorby and Mr. Hunter do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Thorby, and read a first time.
Mr. THOBBY (Calare - Assistant
Minister for Commerce) [9.23]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
No new principle is contained in this bill; it provides merely for the renewal of the payment of a bounty on the export of citrus fruits from the Commonwealth to places other than New Zealand. The present proposal differs from previous bounties in respect of citrus fruits in that in future the bounty will be paid in respect of all classes of citrus fruit exported to countries other than New Zealand, whereas in the past no bounty was paid on lemons, grapefruit, or other citrus fruits besides oranges. In order to assist the citrus industry, the Commonwealth Government has paid bounties on oranges exported since 1932-33. In the followingyear, the Commonwealth Government guaranteed to exporters of oranges their out-of-pocket marketing expenses up to a maximum payment of 13s. for each case of fruit shipped to countries other than New Zealand. Those guarantees represented an expenditure of £3,228 in 1933 and £9,946 in 1934. After careful consideration, the Government decided that for 1935, the most helpful form of assistance that could be given to the industry was a bounty on citrus fruits exported to the United Kingdom. Accordingly,the Orange Bounty Act of that year provided for a bounty of 2s. a case on oranges exported from the Commonwealth to the United Kingdom. Payment of the bounty was restricted to exports to the United Kingdom, because of the potential value of the English market as an outlet for Australian oranges. During 1935, shipments to the United Kingdom totalled 79,470 cases, involving a payment of £7,886 by way of bounty. The action of certain, exporters in taking out comprehensive insurance on their shipments savedthe Government a considerable expenditure under the guarantee in 1934, but, despite that saving to the Government and the industry, the net results were still unsatisfactory and the industry requested the Government to grant it further assistance. The Government considered that it was under no obligation to give further help in respect of the 1934 season, but, in view of the serious losses incurred by shippers on exports during that year, it granted to them a retrospective bounty of 6d. on each, case of oranges shipped to oversea destinations other than New Zealand’. When the 1935 bounty was announced, the various citrus interests were informed that no further assistance to them would be considered by the Commonwealth Government unless the industry itself took steps to establish an organization to deal with production and marketing problems, both at home and abroad, and generally to safeguard the interests of the industry as a whole.
The formation of an Australian Citrus Council was first discussed in April, 1935, when a conference of the industry resolved that an Australian Citrus Association be formed, representative of all. producing States. The committee also requested the Government to enact legislation imposing an excise duty of Id. a bushel on all oranges sold in Australia, the Government to subsidize the receipts from that tax on a sliding scale, commencing with £2 for each £1 collected for the first year, and reducing it to nothing after the fourth year. The proposal was endorsed by the Australian Agricultural Council, but, unfortunately, there was a lack of agreement between the State organizations as to the means by which the board should be financed. Meanwhile, the citrus organizations asked for a bounty on exports for 1936. The Government again replied that it would not give consideration to the request for a further bounty until the industry had established the organization which in April, 1935,’ it had agreed to set up. In May, 1936, however, the Agricultural Council again dealt with the subject of the organization of the citrus industry and re-affirmed ‘the resolution adopted the previous year.
Because of the fact that the New Zealand market was still closed to Australian citrus fruits from States other than .South Australia, and in order to assist the industry until it had a further opportunity to become organized, the Government decided to continue the payment of a bounty in 1936. The bounty was payable at the rate of 2s. a case on all oranges shipped to destinations other than New Zealand. By extending the bounty to cover other markets besides that of the United Kingdom, it was thought that encouragement would be given to exploit the possibilities of finding markets in Canada, the East, and ports *en route to the United Kingdom, such as Colombo, Aden and Malta. The cost of the 1936 bounty is estimated at £9,800. Concurrently with the approval of a bounty for the 1936 season, the Government decided to call a conference ‘f the several citrus organizations to discuss the establishment of a Citrus Advisory Council for Australia. The conference met in Adelaide in August, 1936, and recommended the establishment of a council consisting of representatives of all the citrus producing States. The basis of representation was decided upon and the objects of the proposed council were framed. The council has been formed, and its first meeting was held in Canberra on the 20th April last. By forming an organization to deal with its own problems, the industry has complied with a condition precedent to any consideration by the Commonwealth Government of financial assistance in connexion with the export of citrus fruits from Australia.
The council carried a resolution asking the Government to grant a bounty of 2s. 9d. a case on all citrus fruits exported to destinations other than New Zealand for the year 1937. In asking for an increase of 9d. a case on the bounty paid during previous years, the council pointed out that the cost of cases and wrapping material had increased considerably since last year.
In New South Wales, the largest citrus producing State, it is claimed that the bounty, which has permitted the export of some of the surplus crop, has acted as a stabilizing factor in the home market. Without the bounty exporters in New South Wales are not prepared to ship fruit to the United Kingdom, although they recognize that shipments should continue so that the market for Australian oranges can be maintained. As an expansion of production is likely to take place within the next few years it is of the utmost importance that exports to the United Kingdom be continued. While other markets have their possibilities they are definitely limited, and we look upon the United Kingdom as the only substantial overseas market likely to be available to the exporters of citrus fruits in the near future. South Australia is also an important exporting State, and the growers there, through their organization, the Murray Citrus Growers’ Co-Operative Association, have made a praiseworthy effort to establish their product on the British market. Only high quality fruit has been forwarded. A representative of the association travels to London each season to market the fruit personally under the best possible conditions and at the lowest possible cost. This is part of a deliberate plan aimed at relieving an immediate problem of overproduction and of proving that the United Kingdom is a profitable export market for high-class oranges. Quite recently the Government of New Zealand partially lifted the embargo on the importation of citrus fruit in order to enable other parts of Australia, recognized as free from certain diseases, to export large quantities of citrus fruits to New Zealand.
– It has been due rather to the efforts which have constantly been made through the representatives of the Australian Government in New Zealand and the continuous representations which have been made through the Department of Commerce for a lifting of the embargo.
– And the shortage of American supplies.
– This bill provides for a bounty on all citrus fruits exported to destinations other than New Zealand during the year 1937. The rate varies in proportion to the size of the case in which the fruit is allowed to be exported. The maximum. rate of bounty is 2s. for an export case containing approximately a bushel and a half of fruit and ranges down to ls. for the half lemon case of approximately three-quarters of a bushel. Previously a bounty was payable oh oranges only, hut on this occasion it has been extended to include mandarins, lemons and grape fruit, with the idea of assisting certain small experimental shipments of varieties of fruits which have been going forward for some years without participating in a bounty.
– The Government is still negotiating with New Zealand?
– Yes. We are endeavouring to persuade the Dominion Government to lift the embargo to permit, not only a greater quantity of oranges to be sent to New Zealand, but also other fruits such as cherries and tropical fruits.
– What has the Government of New Zealand asked the Commonwealth to do in return?
– No definite requests have been received from the Dominion Government.
– What is the attitude of that government in connexion with Australia’s embargo on the importation of New Zealand potatoes ?
– The question of the embargo on New Zealand potatoes has not been discussed for some considerable time. The discussions with the Government.of New Zealand were confined to the embargo on citrus and other fruits. Representations were made that, as we were able to supply the necessary guarantees that fruit shipped to the dominion would be free from disease and up to a certain standard of quality, the embargo should be lifted. As the result of our representations the embargo was lifted for an additional period from 1st December to 30th April.
– Due to the efforts of Mr. Logue.
– Since the advent of the Labour Government in New Zealand more sympathetic consideration has been given to the Commonwealth’s request.
– Not necessarily. The whole question considered by the New Zealand authorities was as to whether they could safeguard the small citrus industry in the dominion as well as establish, other markets in some of the small adjacent islands. They were chiefly concerned in protecting their own citrus industry from the introduction of certain diseases. We have been able to prove to them that these diseases do not exist in large areas of New South Wales or Victoria, while South Australia is free from them. The result has been that considerable quantities of citrus fruits have been shipped to New Zealand from those areas and we are hopeful that the position of the citrus-growers in Australia will be greatly improved as the result.
It is estimated that the bounty provided for in this bill will not exceed £8,000. It Will be appreciated by all honorable members that a bounty on the export of citrus fruits is absolutely necessary in the interests of the small growers scattered throughout Australia, and the expenditure involved will be amply justified if we can encourage and maintain our, export market in the United Kingdom. It is recognized by everybody associated with the citrus industry that since the imposition of the embargo on citrus fruits by the Government of New Zealand, the citrus-growers in Australia have been involved in serious loss.
– What was the real reason for its imposition?
– The reason given by the Government of New Zealand was the risk of the importation of the disease - Mediterranean fruit fly - into the dominion. That pest did exist in some districts in Australia, but special precautions will be taken to see that only clean fruit from clean areas is shipped to New Zealand. As the bill involves no new principle I ask honorable members to agree to its passage. It merely continues a practice which has been in operation for over four years. Each year this Parliament has agreed to provide a bounty on export oranges, and each year we have widened the scope of the bounty. The proposal now before the House is definitely appreciated by those engaged in the industry.
– What steps are being taken to see that the actual grower gets the bounty?
Mr. - THORBY.- The bill provides that the bounty will be paid to the actual grower. Even though it may be paid through the agency of the shippers, the grower will get the bounty.
– When does the Government propose to stop providing bounties which increase home-consumption prices?
– As soon as an industry can carry on without the assistance of a bounty, the Government discontinues the bounty. That has been experienced in connexion with several other primary industries that were being assisted during a period of stress. For instance, a bounty was provided for the wheatgrowers to tide them over a difficult period; similar assistance was given to the growers of prunes; but as soon as price levels recovered and industries were able to carry on, the bounty was discontinued. The small amount of subsidy which we give to some of these export industries is as nothing compared with the subsidies indirectly given to other secondary industries to enable them to maintain reasonable standards of living for those engaged in them. As all honorable members in the past have agreed to the principle of granting assistance to the citrus industry, 1 recognize that there is no serious objection to the passage of this bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Forde) adjourned.
Sitting Days: P armament House Lift. - Refrigerator.
.- I move-
That the House do now adjourn.
It is intended to sit for four days this week, and next week to sit on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
– Earlier in the day I was asked by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) if I was aware of an incident which took place during the recess when a lady and child were in- carcerated for over an hour in a lift on the House of Representatives side of this building. The honorable member asked if I consider the lifts satisfactory and, if not, should not the manufacturers be called to place them in good order. I have made inquiries into the matter and find that, at about 5 p.m. on the 5th July last, a report was received that a lady was not able to leave the lift. The engineer subsequently released her and then found that the lift was in perfect order, the trouble having been caused by the manner in which its inner door had been operated. The lifts are in good order and are inspected regularly by the lift inspectors, but considerable trouble is experienced through the way in which they are operated.
I was also asked by the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens) where the Universal refrigerator in the refreshment room bar was made, when it was purchased, and at what cost. In reply I have to inform r the honorable member that the Universal refrigerator was made in Canada. It was purchased in March last at a cost of £56 5s.0d.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 9.45 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
When will he give effect to his undertaking of the 30th June to furnish a statement showing the ownership of B class broadcasting stations in the various States and bring up to date the return quoted by the Minister and published in Mansard On the 3rd September, 1935, pages 2365-2367?
– The PostmasterGeneral “anticipates being in a position to make the particularssought available within the next few days.
n asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained and will be furnished to the honorable member later.
Visits Abroad by Ministers, Members and Public Servants.
s. - On the 22nd June, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr Ward) asked the following question, upon notice -
I am now in a position to supply the honorable member with the following information : -
Senator A. . J. McDachlan and his Private Secretary, Mr. J. L. Ferguson, to attend meeting of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the advancement of science held in New Zealand. Total expenditure, £267.
Sir David Rivett, Dr. A. E. V. Richardson, Dr. B. T. Dickson and Mr. I. H. Boas, of the Council for Scientific and IndustrialReseach - visit to New Zealand in connexion with meeting of the association for the advancement of science. Total expenditure, £258.
Mr. E. W. Timcke, Commonwealth Meteorological Office, Melbourne, to attend the Meteorological Conference, Hong Kong. Total expenditure. £169.
Mr. A. B. Townsend, Department of Trade and Customs, to attend Sugar Conference. Expenditure to date, £677.
Mr. H. P. Brown and Mr. E. H. Bourne, Postemaster–General’s Department, to attend Communications Conference, London. Expenditure to date, ?1,221.
Mr. H. C. Brown, Auditor General, Audit Examination of London, Toronto and New York accountancy practice. Expenditure to date, ?709.
Right Honorable J. A. Lyons, the Honorable R. G. Casey, and the Honorable Sir Archdale Parkhill, Messrs. P. Strahan, E. I. Douglas, W. n. Hodgson, A. C. Joyce, G. S. Knowles, V. G. Shedden, E. McCarthy, P. A. McLaughlin, J A. Swanson and Miss E. G. Lenihan, to attend the Imperial Conference. Expenditure to date, ?12,024.
Mr. T. H. Scholfield. M.P.. to attend the International Labour Office Conference. Details of expenditure not yet received from London. (Mr. Scholfield was present in England as the guest of the Empire Parliamentary Association. His expenses will be paid from the time of leaving London to attend the International Labour Conference until the time of his return to London after the conference.)
Senators J. P. Guthrie and William Plain, Messrs. N. J. O. Makin, William Maloney, H. Scholfield, R. ]?. H. Green and J. ‘?. Jennings, M.’s P. Grant of ?1.00 paid to each as a member . of the Commonwealth of Australia Branch of the Empire Parliaments Association visiting London for the Coronation. Total expenditure, ?700.
Dr. W. B. Kirkland, Northern Territory Administration Service, International Course on Malariology at Singapore. Total expenditure, ?320.
Mr. H. E. Harston, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, visit to Great Britain and the Continent. Expenditure to date, ?241..
Mr. G. A. Currie, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, visit to Great Britain, the Continent of Europe and United States of America. Expenditure to date, ?109.
Dr. F. G. Morgan, Director, Commonwealth Scrum Laboratories, visit to New Zealand on Serum Laboratories business and attending meeting of association for the advancement of science. Total expenditure, ?157.
Mr. F. L. Trapp, Commercial Representative, Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, visit to Vew Zealand on Serum Laboratories business. 1’o.tal expenditure. ?166.
s. - On the 24th June, the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) asked the following questions, upon notice - 1: Will he give full information concerning the basis upon which costs arc incurred by the Commonwealth with respect to delegations, to the International Labour Conference at. Geneva?
I am now in a position to furnish thefollowing replies : -
Of the delegates, the Government delegate is usually selected from persons available in Europe at the time when the conference is held, and this, is also the practice in regard, to “the Employers’ delegate. In these two cases it has been customary to pay transport expenses between London and Geneva, hotel expenses at Geneva, and travelling allowances of ?3 3s. a day and ?L lis. Cd. a day respectively.
It has been customary for the workers’ delegate to be sent from Australia. He is allowed travelling expenses at sea and if he is not paid by his employer during his absence abroad, the Government allows him compensation in lieu thereof. His steamer fare is provided by the Government as also is his transport between London and Geneva and hotel accommodation at Geneva.
The delegations are assisted as may be necessary by an officer detailed by the High Commissioner, London.
A statement is appended showing the allocation of expenditure in connexion with the abovementioned conferences.
The -additional expenditure in connexion with the 21st and 22nd Maritime Sessions which were held at Geneva -in October, 1930, arises nut of the fact that two delegates proceeded from Australia to represent the Commonwealth at these conferences.
At each of the other conferences mentioned above only one delegate, i.e., the workers’ delegate, proceeded from Australia.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 August 1937, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1937/19370824_reps_14_154/>.