15th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chairat 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Prime Minister able to say whether the signing of a trade pact with Japan for one year is contemplated by the Government, and can he inform the House of any details of any such proposed pact?
– Obviously I am not able to announce any of the details until complete agreement has been reached. The Government is optimistic concerning the reaching of an agreement at ahearly date.
– On the 12th May last I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation as to whether consideration would be given to a request to amend the provisions of the Repatriation Act, relating to the pension rights of the wives and children of service pensioners, in order to bring them into line with those provided in the case of the wives and children of the recipients of war pensions. The ‘honorable gentleman replied that (be matter would be referred to the’ Minister for Repatriation for his, consideration. Has the matter yet been considered ? If so, what is the decision of the department?
– I have not yet received a reply from the Minister for Repatriation. I shall again take the matter up with him and ascertain the reason for the delay.
– On the 22nd June
I asked the Treasurer if he would communicate with the States to ascertain how each State had expended its portion of the special grant of £600,000 a year which was designed to assist nonroadusing payers of the petrol tax. Has the honorable gentleman yet been able tocom- municate with the States? If so, has he received any replies? If not, willhe advise me during the recess?
– I gave directions that such a letter should be drafted but am afraid that in the last few days I have not been able to attend to the matter personally. I undertake to do. so as early as possible and to advise the honorable gentleman.
Mr.BEASLEY. - Is the Minister for the Interior aware that ordinances in the Federal Capital Territory dealing with trading hours and hours of employment are now at variance with awards that have been made since the date of their gazettal ? Will the honorable gentleman make a survey of both ordinances and awards, and endeavour to bring the ordinances into line with the awards? I refer particularly to the baking trade.
– I am glad to give the undertaking requested by the honorable member.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House as to whether he has received at any time during the last twelve months either complaint or advice from any merchant or manufacturer in Bradford regarding the existing system under which Australian wool is marketed in Great Britain ? If so, has he made any inquiries, and with what result?
– A communication on the lines indicated was received, suggesting an alteration of the method adopted in connexion with the marketing of Australian wool. The Government gave consideration to it, and a reply was forwarded intimating that it was of opinion that the suggestion would not achieve the results claimed on its behalf.
– Is it a fact that the Treasurer proposes to make a further issue of crown pieces? Has the attention of the honorable gentleman been directed to the reported experience of bank tellers that this coin is proving very unpopular with the general public, and that intheir opinion it probably represents now about £60,000 of dead capital inasmuch as it is not freely in circulation ? Is that the conclusion formed by the honorable gentleman on reports received by him from bis officers? If so, doeshe propose to make a further issue?
– I believe that there is a place in Australian currency - it may not be a very large one - for a 5s. piece. The original issue of 1,000,000 crown pieces was readily absorbed, and very few of them are in circulation at the moment. The Government has in mind a further issue at some future date, not in the immediate future.
The following papers were presented : -
Customs Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1938, No. 05.
Defence Act - Royal Military College - Report for 1937 .
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1938, No. 55.
Nauru - Ordinance of 1938 - No. 2 - Provident Fund.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determination by the Arbitrator, &c. - No. 17 of 1938 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Ordinances of 1938-
No. 8 - Roads.
No. 9 - Mining.
Scat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinance of 1938- No. 23 - Education.
Mr.WARD. - In view of the impending recess, does the Government propose to take early action in order that the cut glass industry may be revived and some hundreds of employees who have been out of work for a considerable period may be re-employed ? If so, can the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs give any information on the subject to honorable members before the House adjourns?
– I assure the honorable member that the matter will be considered during the forthcoming recess, but I do not think it will be possibleto give information to honorable members prior to the tabling of the report.
– A little ‘ while ago the Prime Minister received from the geophysical expert a memorandum dealing with the method of locating deposits of iron ore at Yampi Sound. Will the right honorable gentleman consider the making of a geophysical examination of the iron ore deposits of Australia so that, as early as possible, we shall have some idea as to the quantity of iron ore available in this country?
– Consideration will be given to the matter raised by the honorable member, but of necessity the decision as to whether such an examination would really be worth while is a matter upon which the Government must be guided by the advice of experts.
– Can the Minister representing the Postmaster-General say whether the departmental report upon the wages and working conditions of officers in charge of non-official post offices recommends an improvement of the rates of pay and working conditions? Is the honorable gentleman able to give to the House the assurance that such an improvement willbe effected, and can he say whether any improvement will operate as from the end of this financial year ?
– The report advocates the raising of salaries in most grades of the service. That recommendation has the approval of the Government, which intends that the increases shall date from the 1st July. The Government regrets that the announcement of its intention could not be made earlier, owing to pressure of other business, but those who are to benefit will not suffer by reason of the delay.
– Will the Minister for Defence state what re-organization, if any, has been made with respect to the internal air-mail . services which are to be ancillary to the overseas service? If any re-organization has been made what companies are involved, and what is the estimated additional cost?
-I made a fairly full explanation of this matter when dealing with the Empire air-mail agreement yesterday. Although it is not. actually covered by the agreements in the bill now before the House,I explained that the Government had decided, and that arrangements have been completed with the exception of a few final details which are awaiting the passage of the bill, in favour of the distribution of the South Australian mails from Darwin to Adelaide, the Western Australian mails from Darwin to Perth, . the Victorian mails from Adelaide on to Melbourne, and the Tasmanian mails from Melbourne direct. This arrangement will enable the mail’s to be distributed in every capital city approximately within an hour on the same afternoon or evening. I cannot very well make available until the bill is passed and the agreements with the respective companies are finalized, information in regard to the cost. Three different companies will probably be involved.
– Can the Minister for Defence say, what arrangements are being made for the continuation: of some of the old ancillary inland air services, such as those from Charleville. to Daly Waters a nd Cootamundra to Charleville? If those particular services are not to be continued, arc arrangements being made to transfer the contracts to some other service in connexion with which they would be useful?
– The plan to which the Government is working provides for the alteration of certain air routes. For example, the air route through to Cootamundra will no longer be necessary, in view of the fact that the mails will be distributed through two other channels, but the operating company will be invited to take over another route which will absorb its organization. The same may be said of the route from Brisbane through to Darwin. As the flying boat service will in future provide for the traffic between these two bases, it is proposed that this internal service shall be diverted at . Daly Waters through to Wyndham. Every effort isbeing made to utilize the existing services. The operating companies have been asked to vary their routes as may be necessary to keep their machines fully engaged.
– Can the Acting Minister for Commerce state whether the Government has taken any action in the direction of speeding up in the matter of providing some stability for the wheat industry?
– In this connexionI have nothing to add to the very full and complete statement that I made on a motion for the adjournment of the House last week.
– Is the Treasurer yet able to inform the House of the terms of reference to the royal commission on the. National. Health and Pensions Insurance Bill’? If he cannot give the exact details will he intimate what sectional interests may be affected, or whether the commission will be concerned only with matters affecting medical practitioners? If other interests are likely to be affected, it is desirable that they should have time to prepare their cases.
– The terms of reference have not yet been finally drafted, but the commission will be asked to consider whether the proposed payment of11s. to medical practitioners should be varied; whether the rate should differentiate as between city and country; and whether mileage and the times at which the service has to be rendered should affect the payment. The commission will concern itself only with the medical part of the service.
– Will consideration be gi ven to the positionof dependent wives and families?
– Yes; that aspect of the subject is definitely related to the medical services and, of course, to the friendly societies.
– Then the friendly societies will also be affected?
– The terms of reference will deal only with the medical services, but this will affect friendly societies to some extent.
– Is the Treasurer yet able to announce the personnel of the commission?
– Not yet; but I hope to do so within the next three or four days.
– Can the Treasurer inform me when the commission is likely to begin its investigations?
– I hope that no delay will ‘ occur ; but probably two or three weeks will elapse before the commission can actually begin its inquiries. The Government will lose no time whatever in determining the personnel of the body.
– Is the Acting Minister for Health able to give me any information as to the amount of money available in the Medical Research Fund established last year? Has the fund yet been drawn upon, and what is the exact position at the moment?
– I cannot give the honorable member, off-hand, the information lie desires, but I shall obtain it and forward it to him.
– Iask the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs whether that report of the Tariff Board on the manufacture of motor-car engines in Australia has yet been returned from overseas; and, if so, when we may expect, some information in connexion with it?
– The document is now before Cabinet. I can say no more than that, in due course, it will be submitted to Parliament.
-Is the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral able to indicate what progress has been made towards the promised installation of an automatic telephone exchange to serve Wahroonga, Epping and Ryde” in plane of the existing manual exchange?
– I am not, but I shall make inquiries for the honorable member.
– Will the
Minister for Defence inform the House of the terms upon which the Commonwealth Aircraft Manufacturing Company is manufacturing aircraft for the Defence Department? I should like information as to prices, &c.
– A definite contract has been placed with this company for 40 aircraft of the N.A.33 type at a competitive price in relation to imported machines of similar type. A further order will be placed later for 60 or 70 additional machines to be delivered, at intervals, over a specified period. I cannot give the honorable member detailed information as to the price of the 40 machines already definitely ordered, but it is very satisfactory.
SirHenry Gullett. - Are all the machines to be of one type?
– The 40 machines will be of similar type; but I am glad to say that arrangements are being made to provide all types required. The machines, after the first delivery, will be 100 per cent. of Australian manufacture.
– Is the Minister able to say whether it isa fact that only one shift is being worked at the Commonwealth Aircraft Company’s factory? if so, has any request been made by the Defence Department for the work to be accelerated by the employment of additional shifts?
– Only one shift is being worked at the moment, but. steps are being taken to employ another shift in the near future.
– When ?
– I cannot say exactly. The company found some difficulty in organizing a. complete team of skilled tradesmen to operate the new machinery, the installation of which was completed only on the 31st March. A second complete team has to be organized before it is feasible to start another shift. The Defence Department and the company are working in the closest co-operation, and a secondshift will be employed as soon as it is practicable to do so.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he will obtain information for me as to the reasons for the great disparity in the freight rate in New South Wales on coal, compared with the rates on wool, wheat, steel and other products? As this is an urgent matter, in so far as my constituents are concerned, which may involve industrial trouble that will affect the whole Commonwealth, I hope that the right honorable gentleman will not ask me to put the question on the notice-paper.
– If the honorable member is referring to the freights on the State railways, he must be well aware that questions, on that subject should be directed to the State Government or the Railway Commissioners of New South Wales. It is not a question which I am able to answer, I have no objection to obtaining the information which the honorable member desires, but I do not know that I can get him the particulars any fuller or any sooner than he could himself.
– Will the Prime Minister undertake to furnish the House at an early date with the details of the statement he is reported to have made to the Australasian Council of Trades Unions to the effect that the Government was taking stringent steps to prevent profiteering in the private manufacture of materials for the Defence Department ?
– I can only say in general terms that it has been made quite clear that the Government intends to evolve a policy for the control of profits in this connexion.
– Is the Minister for Defence able to inform me whether it is a fact, as reported in the press recently, that when an aeroplane in which he was travelling had to make a forced landing, he gave the name of Williams instead of his own name? If so, why did he assume another name?
– My name is wellknown throughout the Commonwealth. There is no reason why I should do as was suggested in one newspaper in this country.
Bill returned from the Senate, with amendments; and a message intimating that it had agreed to the bill as amended by the House, at the request of the Senate.
That the foregoing message be taken into consideration, in committee of the whole House at a later hour this day.
Proposals for the Erection of a New Hospital and Gaol at Darwin,
– I move -
That in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1936, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: - Darwin, Northern Territory - Erection of hospital.
It is proposed that a new hospital shall be erected on a site bounded by McKaystreet, Lambell-terrace and Kahlin Beach. This site is at present used as an aboriginal compound, but will be vacated as such when the new compound is available. The existing hospital buildings are situated on a site which is too restricted to permit of their expansion on planned lines. The buildings are unsuitable and incapable of being remodelled or added to. With a daily average of 40 inpatients, the hospital is overcrowded, and there is no margin for an epidemic, prevalence of disease, or influx of population. There are no private wards, and practically no facilities for the segregation of white and coloured patients. The accommodation for staff and other facilities is also unsatisfactory and inadequate. Owing to the growth of military, naval and aerial activities, the matter of hospital accommodation at Darwin is one of urgency.
The proposed hospital, which has been designed, after investigations in Darwin, Java and Singapore, to conform with the principles of tropical architecture, will consist of four ward blocks, children’s ward, two isolation blocks, administrative block, X-ray block and operating theatre, medical officers’, matron’s, sisters’ and nurses’ quarters, kitchen block, ambulance station, laundry, garages and services.
The buildings, it is proposed, shall be laid out on a cruciform type at the correct angle to take advantage of the prevailing winds. Construction will be of concrete and fibre-cement with fibrocement adjustable louvres on the outside walls and fibro-cement roofing. A commencement has already been made with the isolation blocks, which are being erected urgently at a cost of £7,890 to take cases now unsuitably housed.
Thescheme provides for 131 beds, comprising 106 in four main wards, nine in the children’s ward, and sixteen inthe isolation blocks. In emergency, this number of beds could be increased by using the verandahs and, by adding a story to each of the main wards, a further 106 beds could be accommodated. The present intention is that approximately 100 beds should be provided for initially. The approximate cost of the complete scheme, excluding equipment, some of which is available from the existing hospital, is £85,000.
I lay on the table plans, &c., in connexion with the proposed work.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave - I move -
That in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1936, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: - Darwin, Northern Territory - Erection of gaol.
It is proposed to erect a gaol on a site comprising 160 acres, which is portion of section 2, hundred of Bagot. The existing gaol is situated in the vicinity of the civil aerodrome. The buildings being on high ground to the north-west of the landing ground interfere with the landing of overseas planes, and those taking off during the north-west season. The buildings are unsatisfactory for the purposes of a gaol, being badly ventilated and unsuitable for the climate. The yard enclosure is too small, and creates difficulties in segregating white and aboriginal prisoners. The surrounding galvanized iron wall is in a bad state of repair, and ineffective as a barrier.
The proposed site for the new gaol is favorably located about 4½ miles from Darwin and, whilst it is easily accessible, it is out of sight of, and away from the main roads. The scheme includes the following buildings: -
Remand, first offenders’ and debtors’ block.
White prisoners’ block.
Aboriginal prisoners’ block.
Medical inspection block.
Kitchen, garages block.
Worksheds, stores, &c., block.
Covered ways, watchtower.
The accommodation provided for is -
White prisoners - 17.
Aboriginal prisoners - 98.
The buildings have been designed according to principles adopted after investigating similar establishments in other places, particularly at Changi, Singapore, where a new prison has recently been erected. The construction will be of reinforced concrete with steel doors, grilles, &c., and the outer verandah walls of the prison block will be composed of concrete posts, adjustable fibro-cement louvres, and expanding metal screen;. The estimatedcost is £42,000.
I lay on the table plans, &c, in connexion with the proposed work.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 29th June (vide page 2811). on motion by Mr. Thorby -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.This is a bill to which the Opposition intends to give its general support. I intend, however, to interrogate the Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby) on the various aspects of the measure. It is a bill to ratify and authorize agreements which have been made between the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia, and between the Government, of the Commonwealth of Australia and Qantas Empire Airways Limited, to bring Australia into the Empire air-mail scheme giving Australia, an air service between Southampton and Sydney, which will, in the initial stages, take nineanda half days, a period which is subsequently to be shortened to seven and a half days. While the Opposition agrees that it is a great step in national progress to link England and Australia by an efficient, a ir service; the Government cannot be congratulated either on. the manner in which it has dealt, with this important subject, or on bringing down a measure, which is of such importance to Australia, in thedying hours of the session without giving honorable members sufficient time to study the whole of the ramifications of the bill, which consists of 22 pages of very small type. It is absolutely impossible’ for anybody to give that close study which is warranted by the importance of’ the measure. The second-reading speech of the Minister was made only yesterday. The Government’s action in respect of this measure, however, is in keeping . with its legislative actions for some time.. It takes months, and sometimes years, for the Government to make up its mind on an important matter and, when a certain course is decided, the legislation is brought before Parliament and forced through, sometimes with the aid of the guillotine, without allowing members the opportunity for the constru ctive criticism that is so essential to efficient legislation. They have been told by the Minister that this agreement has been entered into.
-Subject to ratification by Parliament.
– I agree, but the attitude of the Government when such agreements are put before Parliament is “ Take it or leave it “. When the Ottawa Agreement was placed before Parliament for ratification, we. were told that it could not be amended. It had to be accepted, asa. whole; otherwise the whole of the negotiations that had led to the agreement would have to be re-opened. In bringing down this bill the Minister for Defencesaid that, instead of being subjected to criticism, the Government should be complimented on what it had done. That is where I join issue with the honorable gentleman because I have no doubt that the action of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), in moving the adjournment of the House on this subject recently, expedited the finality of certain aspects of the distribution of the mails after they arrive in . Australia, because there was a good deal of apprehension as to what wasto happen-
– Only in the press.
-No definite pronouncement had been made by the Minister.
– The plans had been in operation for months.
– I shall deal with that, aspect. Not only honorable members 011 this side, but also honorable members opposite, have seen fit to criticize the Government’s lack of decision in this matter. On the 7th June, the honorable member, for Henty (Sir Henry Gullett). speaking on the adjournment motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition, said -
It is fifteen months sinceI left the Ministry and evenwhen I was a Minister I was heartily ashamed ‘of the delay in the inauguration of the overseas air-mail service. Since then that delay of which I was ashamed has gone on for another fifteen months. The Minister for Defence is not responsible for all of it, but the matter seems to be dragging on as hopelessly to-day as it was two years ago. I cannot for a moment understand why there should be delay in the making of a plain statement as to how the mails will be distributed after they arrive at Darwin.
The honorable gentleman’s comments were typical of the criticism of some honorable gentlemen opposite.
The overseas air-mail service has been the subject of a great deal of propaganda for a number of years. Promises and. assurances were given by various Ministers of the governments that have been led by the right honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons). In December, 1935, Senator Sir George Pearce, who was then Minister for External Affairs and the Leader of the Government in another place, commenting upon certain aspects of the Imperial Airways Service, said that the new flying-boat service would be started at a very early date. In September, 1936, the then Minister for Defence, Sir Archdale Parkhill, said that the Commonwealth Government “will now proceed to finality with the air-mail agreement “. That was 21 months ago. Speaking as the Acting Prime Minister on the 27th May, 1937, the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) said -
I am gratified that the long negotiations between the governments of the United- Kingdom and Australia regarding the Empire Air Mail have resulted in agreement on all points which had originally been at issue. The scheme will he put into operation in January I0HS.
Sir Archdale Parkhill, on the 24th August, 1937, in reply to a question, said -
It is hoped, that consideration of. thu air agreement will lie completed at a comparatively early date.
This shows that the Government in ‘the last two or three years has not known where it has stood. One day one Minister would say something and the next another would say something else. In February, 1936, tho Sydney Morning Herald, in a leading article, said -
The whole conduct of the administration has been from the outset characterized by ignorance and a lack of imagination.
– Thai was because the Sydney Morning Herald could not get the inside story that it wanted.
– The honorable gentleman is at liberty to attribute motives to that newspaper, but I am not aware of them. .1 take it that that was a fair statement from a newspaper that is noted for its constant support of the Government on political issues. From time to time other newspapers have commented on the delay. On the 9 th June last the Sydney Morning Herald said -
In every detail of preparation for performance the Government has so procrastinated as to induce the suspicion that it does not want the agreement. The Government has rebutted every inquiry, and has. exhibited an indifference. ‘and an inertia that; lias become scandalous.
The delivery of the mails in the Commonwealth is an integral part of the scheme. This is another matter in which the public has had grave doubts “as to the ability of the . Ministry. On the 8th August, 1935, the then Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) :said -
That the existing internal land -plane route front Darwin to the south must be maintained and improved.
On the 9th December, 1937, Sir Archdale Parkhill wrote a letter to the Leader of the Opposition, in which he said: -
The question of the rearrangement of the internal routing of the overseas mails has udt yet been considered.
Before that letter wai written the publicity branch of the Prime Minister’s Department issued a statement .on the “‘Record of the Lyons Government”, in which it referred to the Imperial Airways Service, and said -
It was decided to reorganise and develop internal subsidized air services to connect them to the main trunk ‘services:
According to the present Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby.) it was clear that u]) to the 4th June, 1938, the Government had not seriously considered internal services. According to the Sydney Morning Herald on the 4th June, 1938, the Minister for Defence said -
Probably in the early stages all mail will bc carried to Sydney and bc distributed from there instead of from- Darwin.
The action of the Leader of the Opposition in moving the adjournment of the House to discuss the internal distribution of overseas air mails wa.-s fully justified. It galvanized the Government into taking action, and resulted in clarifying a situation which, up to then, had been very obscure.
– Mouths before the Leader of the Opposition moved that motion, the Government had announced its definite decision to distribute overseas mails from Darwin..
– I draw the attention of tho Minister to his statement published on. the 4th June, 1938, in The. Sydney Morning Herald, that probably in the -parly stages, the mails would be delivered from Sydney, and not from Darwin.
– Yes/ that will be so in the early stages, but after August the mails will be distributed from Darwin
– The whole controversy revolved around that point. I maintain that there was a lack of candour on the part of the Government until the motion by the Leader of the Opposition was moved. .Several contradictory statements had been issued-, and I do not think that the Minister really knew just -where he stood. He had said, by way of excuse for the delay, that it was necessary to collect meteorological information. I remind honorable members,- however, that as long ago as December, 1935, Sir George Pearce said that it would be necessary to collect information of this kind. What has been done during the last two and a half years in this direction ? Surely in that time a meteorological organization could have been established.
– Meteorological information has been collected for a century.
– We all know that certain records have been kept, but I am referring to the excuse put forward by the Minister -that the delay in beginning the service was due to the need for collecting meteorological information, and I am pointing out that it does not seem to be a valid excuse. Sir George Pearce said two and a half years ago that steps were then being taken to collect this information. According to the newspapers, the delay, has been due to differences of opinion between officials of the Postmaster-General’s Department and those of the Defence Department regarding .time-tables, the delivery of mails, &c.
– Who told the honorable member that?
– I read it in the press, and pressmen have ways of obtaining information regarding such matters. If that really was the reason for the delay, it does not redound to the credit of the Public Service.
– -It is an unjustifiable statement.
– I recognize that airtransport is developing rapidly, and that it is destined to be an- important means of communication in the future. All the important towns in Germany are connected by air services, and in every country in the world, air services are being extended. For both military and commercial purposes, aviation is of the greatest importance to Australia, having regard to its vast area, its long coast line, and the suitability of its climate. I believe that the time is not far distant when aviation will be of such importance that it will be necessary to appoint an Air Minister who, working in conjunction with, or under the authority of, the Minister for Defence, will control both civil and military aviation.
– It would be a tragic blunder ;to’ divide the control of the various defence arms.
– Their control would still be co-ordinated under the Minister for Defence. Years ago, there was a Minister for the Navy, as well as a Minister for Defence, but the Navy was so small that the portfolio for the Navy was abolished, and the Minister for Defence assumed control of all the defence forces. There is no doubt that the present Minister for Defence has a great deal of work to do, and though he is tackling his job with enthusiasm, it must be taxing him severely, and the Government should do something to- relieve him of some of the burden.
It is provided in the agreement that progressive reductions will be made in the time taken for the journey between London and Australia from nine and a half days to seven and a half days, but no .reference is made to the period during which this reduction shall take place. Is it intended that within one year or two years, the time shall be reduced to seven and a half days? I should like to know whether a decision has been reached on this point. Perhaps the Minister will be able to inform honorable members in the course of his reply. At the present time, the Dutch service takes eight days, but quite recently the managingdirector of the Dutch company informed Sir Earle Page that, by 1940 or 1941, his company would bring Australia within three days of London. That makes nine and a half days, or even seven and a half days appear very slow. However, I do not suggest that we should jeopardize the lives of passengers or pilots for the sake of speed; I merely suggest that the Minister should give consideration to the possible shortening of the time for the trip.
The -Minister has stated that, as the result of the reduction of the postage rate on letters from Australia to London from1s. 6d. to 5d. a half -ounce, it was expected that 90 per cent. of mail matter would, in future, be carried by air. Does the Government intend to continue at the same rate the mail subsidy at present paid to the shipping companies, even though so large a percentage of mail matter will in future be carried by air?
– There will be no reduction of the subsidy during the currency of the present contracts.
– I should like to know what is the duration of the present contracts with the shipping companies, and whether there is any provision in the agreements . for reducing the subsidy in the event of a large percentage of the mails being carried by air. We have been told that before long 90 per cent, of mail matter will be carried by air, but, apparently, the present rate of subsidy to the shipping companies is to continue.
– That refers to firstclass mail matter only, not to the bulk mails, which will continue to be’ carried by the mail boats.
– I should also like to know what percentage of second-class mail matter will be carried by air, and what percentage will continue to be carried by the ships. Is there any justification for continuing the present rate of subsidy?
Under the agreement, the Commonwealth will pay- to Qantas Empire Airways a minimum annual subsidy of £40,000 sterling. This subsidy will be increased by 8s. per lb. for each pound of mails originating in Australia or its territories in excess of 40,000 lb. per annum, hut shall not exceed £50,000 sterling. We all remember what happened in regard to a somewhat similar provision in the agreement for the East-West air service. It was alleged that huge quantities of matter were sent by mail by certain persons in order that the extra subsidy could be collected from the Government. The Commonwealth will also pay this company 16s. sterling for the carriage of each pound of mail matter originating in Australia or its territories. Under this arrangement, it will pay not less than £32,000 sterling, and not more than £52,000 sterling. Thus the Commonwealth will be committed to a total liability of £102,000 a . year under the two headings. In addition, the liability of the Commonwealth in respect of the maintenance of ground organizations on the Sydney-Singapore section will be £30,000 a year, making a total maximum outlay of £132,000 per annum.
– That is themaximum.
– The surcharge of 3d. a half-ounce will yield 8s. per lb., but the subsidy of 20s. per lb., plus 16s. per lb., will bring the total cost to the Government by way of subsidy up to 36s. per lb. I should like to know what are the charges for this class of mail matter in other countries in the world. Was the Minister justified in making this steep reduction of the surcharge from1s. 4d. to 3d. a halfounce? I am not criticizing what has been done, but I should like to know how it compares with what is being done in other countries. The average man and woman in Australia does not send one letter a year overseas.” This service will, of course, suit commercial interests with overseas connexions, and, because so much time will be saved, it will be particularly valuable to firms which send highlypaid executives abroad. To the great mass of the people, however, it will not mean very much. To the worker in the factory or the shop, the reduction of the surcharge from1s. 4d. to 3d. will mean nothing, but the subsidizing of the service by the Government to an amount of £132,000 a year will be a great concession to the commercial interests. I do not say that it is wrong to do this, but I should like to have from the Minister a comparison between the proposed charges for this service and the rates being charged on comparable services in other parts of the world. The Minister said that the Commonwealth Government may arrange with the company to carry out repair work to the aircraft and for the construction of new aircraft in Australia if such work be found , to be within the capacity of the Australian aircraft factory. What authority will determine whether or not such work is within the capacity of the Australian industry? I can understand that there will be a good deal of prejudice against the Australian factory. The honorable gentleman said further that any difference between the cost of those repairs in Australia and the cost of similarwork overseas will be borne by the. Commonwealth Government. What is the justification for that undertaking? If overseas shipping companies are obliged to carry out repairs in Australian ports they have to meet the Australian charges for such work, even though they may be higher than those for similar work in London or in other parts of the world. The Minister may be able to justify this departure, and I should like to have his views as to what additional costs are likely to be imposed upon the Commonwealth as the result of this undertaking.
– Is it proposed that the Commonwealth Government shall pay for the maintenance of the aircraft?
-No, but it will meet the excessive cost in comparison with overseas costs.
– How does that arise? We enter into a contract for the carriage of mails, notfor the repair of aeroplanes.
– If it is found to be necessary to carry out repairs in the Australian factory the Commonwealth is to meet any excess costs.
– On a basis to be agreed upon. . We have taken the precaution to insert in theagreement a provision which will enable the Government of the day to enter, into further agreements with the company to. have new planes constructed in Australia or to have any heavy repair work undertaken in this country. That has been done in order to give our own workmenemployment, and the Commonwealth is prepared to bear a proportion of the increased cost.
Mr.Patterson. - It is a subsidy to an Australian industry.
– The honorable member cannot catch me in that way. Ibelieve in keeping all. the work within Australia that it. is possible to’ do, but if an organizationwhich is making profits finds it necessary to carry out repairs in . Australia, why should it be given a subsidy for that purpose? Why should the Commonwealth assist the company because rates of wages and livingcosts are higher in the Commonwealth than in the United Kingdom? If ‘that be done in this case, couldwe’refuse the wheat-growers- a subsidy because’ they find’ that the cost of harvesting their crop in Australia is greater than in other countries?
– The . real reason is because no duty is to be imposed on the importation of these flying boats or their parts. The principle has been accepted in this country for many years that a bounty . or a subsidy may be paid to an industry if it be found that it will result in additional employment for Australian workmen.
– I can quite understand the undertaking being given at the present time, when we have not the necessary plant and equipment in Australia to manufacture flying boats of the type required for this service. Within a reasonable time, however, all replacement part’s will be manufactured in this country, and when it is necessary to increase thenumber of flying boats to operate the service they should be manufactured here.
Clause 5 (k) of the First Schedule provides that the Commonwealth reserves the right to represent that major repair work and overhaul work shall, if possible, be carried out in Australia. That is somewhat vague. Will the Minister say whether the Commonwealth has any authority to insist that such work shall be carried out in Australia, or does that matter rest entirely with the company?
– The Commonwealth has to agree to the work being carried out in Australia before it can enter any commitments to contribute towards the extra cost.
– Then it is proposed to contribute towards the extra cost ?
– Yes, only if it is to the advantage of Australian workmen, who will get further employment in the industry in this country. No extra costs, however, can be imposed upon the Commonwealth without the consent of the Commonwealth.
– I am not prepared to be dogmatic in regard to the matter, but I maintain that any new equipment should be manufactured in Australia if it is possible to do so.
– Who is the competent authority to assess relevant costs in England and in Australia?
-The Commonwealth Government.
– What body, will carry out the investigations? We may be told that the Tariff Board is an appropriate body because it has the necessary experience and means of gathering and sifting evidence. We are also told that the officials of the Trade and Customs Department cannot determine, as well as the Tariff Board, whether or . not machinery can be manufactured in Australia. I ask the Minister if it is proposed to submit this matter to the Tariff Board? I am anxious to hear what the honorable gentleman has to say in regard to that because I have in mind the long wait we have experienced in connexion with the board’s report on the manufacture of motor engines in Australia. That matter was referred to the Tariff Board for investigation and report over two years ago, and’ the honorable member for Henty (Sir Henry Gulett), myself, and other honorable members have been endeavouring to elicit from the Minister some information as to whether that report will be made available before the coming recess. Will ‘ there . be that endless delay in securing a report from the Tariff Board concerning the manufacture of aeroplanes in Australia? It is important that, if it is possible to do so, the work should be carried out here, and we are anxious to ensure that the company shall not escape its obligation to have such work carried out in Australia. Unless the company is rigidly bound in this direction, it will certainly purchase its requirements in the cheapest markets in the world.
– I have yet to be convinced that any job cannot be performed in Australia.
– I think the honorable member is right.No job done in any part of the world cannot be done just as well in this country. Is the Government justified in establishing a precedent of this sort? If it gives a concession to Qantas Empire Airways Limited of this sort, will it not be equally justified in granting similar concessions to the friends of the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) and others?
-A concession is being granted at the present time to. the Australian steel industry by way of bounty.
– No bounty is paid to the Australian steel industry to-day. Bounties are provided for a few industries, but they are chiefly primary industries. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited says that it does not need protection now because it is impossible, owing to the armament race overseas, to import supplies of steel. That company can compete to-day on a freetrade basis. . The steel bounty was wiped Out years . ago. We know that in tariff schedules protection is afforded, for the steel industry by way of duties, but, owing to the difficulty of securing supplies, with the exception of a small quantity of special steels that cannot be manufactured here, no steel is coming into this country. The importers of these special steels have to wait a long time before their orders are fulfilled.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon.. G. J. Bell).Order ! The honorable member is getting away from the bill.
– I was merely pointing out that no. steel bounty is paid in Australia to-day. I am glad that a concern with the experience and the past history of the Qantas company is to be linked up with the Empire Airways in this scheme. I wish to pay a tribute to the splendid record of Qantas Airways in Australia. Everything the Minister has said in regard to its operations in Queensland is amply justified. It has been carrying on services in different parts of Australia for many years with exceptionally few accidents, and it has played a very important part in making the people of Australia air-minded. Safety is its watchword. Speed, safety, economy, payload and comfort are essential attributes of a commercial type aircraft, but it is impossible to combine the ideal of all of these- features in any. one aircraft ; consequently, it, is necessary to compromise in the most advantageous manner, and, while speed is the main reason for the use of aircraft in transport, the maximum of attainment in this direction must be limited to cater adequately for safety, economy and comfort. I believe that the Qantas company has more nearly achieved the attainment of that’ ideal than any other civil aviation company in Australia. When the Qantas company is linked up with Empire Airways in the vast organization under the control of that company, with all its technical experience, it will have the means of securing the latest scientific information appertaining to air services throughout the world ; and, as the result, I believe that we shall have a very efficient air-mail service between England and Australia. With the reservations I have made, and if the queries I have put to the Minister are satisfactorily answered, I shall support the measure.
– I can sympathize with the wish of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) that the House had had an earlier opportunity to discuss these agreements in detail. With that, I feel sure, all honorable members will, agree. In actual practice, however, international agreements of this sort must obviously be made in the first place between governments and then, in due course, be either wholly rejected or accepted by the respective parliaments. It is obvious that when governments of different countries are negotiating on a matter like this, which requires so much compromise, it is not possible for them to consult their parliaments on every point. Being interested in this agreement, I took the trouble to travel both ways over the whole of the route, and discussed it with everybody interested in it; but I have never been consulted in any way or called into conference by any single member of the Cabinet. In that, I can only bow to the wisdom of the Cabinet. I have, nevertheless, every sympathy with the difficulties that the Minister and the Cabinet have had in effecting this agreement. If the problem had been solely to provide an adequate inward and outward mail for Australia, it would have been comparatively simple. [Quorum formed.] But those interests conflicted with the interests of the Government of the United Kingdom, and, tosome extent, the interests of the Government of New Zealand; also the interests of Empire communications as a whole. A service adequate to our . requirements is quite different from one that would be adequate for the requirements of the Governments of the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Therefore, we had to compromise, and the making of a compromise without unduly sacrificing our interests was a difficult problem. Had it been a case of providing merely our own air-mail service, we would have provided a service with a terminal at Darwin and distributed the load among other services, despatching it in three separate directions.
-Was not that the original proposal?
– That was, I think, Australia’s original suggestion, but we had to sacrifice our direct interests in order to compromise with the interests of Empire communications as a whole.
– Can the honorable member give us any information about that?
– I can give no information on the point. I have never been taken into any one’s confidence. Apart from having had to compromise with other external interests, we have had to compromise with the interests of the air-mail services supplying the needs of our capital cities and the necessary internal services. This was another very difficult problem. We were faced with the establishment of an absolutely up-to-date service from London to our capitals, and at the same time the maintenance of services to which we had become accustomed, the withdrawal of which no one would seriously consider. I regard the compromise outlined by the Minister as an excellent one. The difficulties will increase as the pace of the air-mail services is hastened. I am quite sure that, whenthe schedule is speeded-up it will be impossible to insist that the operators shall land at such frequent intervals as has been the case in the past. To get a reasonably high speed in air transport, one has to fly in considerably longer stages, so that the aircraft may operate at most efficient heights and take advantage of the most favorable routes. Qantas Airways, I know, has been tremendously handicapped in the past by having ‘had to land at frequent intervals, and also come down to low altitudes in order to drop mail-bags. We shall be faced in the very near future with the dissociation of our main international air-mail services from the outback services. Our main services will have to be express, and the outback services slower ones, stopping at all the places along the different routes needing the service, and having every right to it. In this connexion, I was glad to hear the plan outlined by the Minister for making use of the services which have been operating in the past, and which, to some extent, will be superseded. I particularly regret that, in the outline which the honorable gentleman has given to us, and which we have seen in the press, no mention was made of what is to become of that very excellent service run with the greatest efficiency and little limelight by the Butler organization, from Cootamundra to Charleville. Mr. Butler and his staff are entitled to every consideration. One can see quite easily how the civil aviation authorities can make use of the other lines, but it is not such an obviously easy matter to determine what can be done with this organization..
In the references toundue delay during the last two years, not only in this country, but also overseas, the impression was given that the Australian Government was the sole cause of the trouble; that we were, so to speak, unnecessarily obstinate in holding out for selfish points of view. I should like to say in defence of the authorities of the day, that when I flew myself out from England in 1936, at almost every point along the route I heard criticism of the scheme and the expression of very grave doubts as to its feasibility. The criticism may have been rather more loudly voiced in Australia, but I assure the House that it was voiced also over every inch of the route from the United Kingdom to Australia.
Another big problem which has had to be overcome is the provision of facilities through the Dutch East Indies, not because of any hampering action on the part of the Dutch authorities, but on account of the type of service upon which we have decided, which does not coincide with the type which the Dutch are using; consequently their facilities are different from what are required by us.
– That service is really the more efficient.
– It is a service of an altogether different type; it is a landplane service. The Dutch have bases for commercial land-aircraft military amphibians, which require different facilities from those required by the large flying boats to be used on the service to Australia. Both services are most efficient in their way. I regard as one of the bright spots in the development of British airways and Dutch airways across the world the wonderful spirit of co-operation and friendliness shown throughout by the one country towards the other. The Dutch, probably like ourselves, are notorious for keenness in driving a bargain. If they have driven a good bargain in this matter, it has been done with a remarkable lack of ill-feeling. Any airman who has flown through the Dutch East Indies is prepared to pay tribute to the wonderful friendliness of the Dutch authorities and the remarkable absence of red tape at their aerodromes. Of all the aerodromes in all the countries that I have visited I know of none at which the officials are more friendly and helpful, and there is less red tape, than in the Dutch East Indies. It was the only place in my journey out at which I was not asked to produce a passport. I welcome this opportunity to pay a tribute to the manner in which they are co-operating with us. It augurs well for our future relations in the Pacific, and indicates how strongly the Dutch appreciate the necessity for the two countries to stand together in protection of their mutual interests.
Many persons wonder why flying boats are to be used. I do not propose to enter into a technical explanation, except to draw attention to the contention that in regard to size we are rapidly approaching the limit to which land aeroplanes can be built, because of the restrictions placed upon their size by the landing grounds that can be made available, whereas the size of the landing areas provided for flying boats is almost unlimited. “We talk of aerodromes in terms of hundreds of yards, and of landing areas for flying boats in terms of miles. It may be of interest to honorable members to know that while in England after inspecting a line of 27 flying boats which were to be used on this service and the South African service, I was afterwards taken up to the drawing room and shown blue prints for flying boats which will make these look almost like toys. The development of those later nui chinos is delayed by reason of the fact that the engineering side has not been able to develop power units of sufficient size. Provision is made for single berth cabins, and in size the new machines will quite dwarf the present flying boats. Over distances of the length of our internal routes or the majority of the air routes throughout the world, aircraft of moderate size, operating at great speed with frequency of services, will obviously be preferable to enormous aircraft operating less often, but so long as people travel right across the world they will demand more space and comfort. than they are content with when travelling for only about one day.
One of my regrets - I do not know whether it is as material as I consider it to be - is that the existence of Qantas Empire Airways as a small, selfcontained - I might also say family - unit, will be to some degree interfered with by the introduction of this larger service in co-operation with Imperial Airways. Dp to date, no one who has had anything to do with Qantas can have failed to be impressed by the fact that it is almost a family rather than an organization. Every mechanic treats every machine owned by Qantas as though it were a Derby favourite on which he had wagered his shirt. I feel that, although Qantas is to be left in complete charge of the Singapore to Sydney portion of this route, according to the Minister’s explanation its aircraft will at Singapore pass out of its hands and be flown by Imperial Airways’ pilots. I do not for a moment doubt the ability of Imperial Airways’ pilots, navigators and mechanics, but I feel that the extraordinary pride of Qantas pilots in .their machines, such as one takes in one’s own horse, motor car or aeroplane, will to some extent be lacking. I admit that to have organized the matter differently would have been difficult. One plan considered was that the crews of each flying boat should fly the whole of the route between Sydney and Southampton. I believe that on very short consideration one will realize that, as a matter of continual routine, the piloting of a flying boat from Australia to England would impose too great a strain on the crew. I also think it desirable that the pilots should operate over a comparatively short stretch of the route, in order that they may learn it perfectly. The other alternative would have been to keep our flying boats entirely on the Singapore to Sydney section. In that case there would have been the difficulty caused by the fact that the engines in these aircraft require overhauling at 400-hour periods, and that at present there is no provision for overhauling in Australia such as it is possible to obtain at the works of the manufacturers. To preserve the splendid esprit de corps of Qantas, arrangements should be made as soon as possible for the complete servicing of its aircraft in this country. I am in full sympathy with the desire of the Minister and his advisers to accomplish this objective without undue delay. The criticism which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) directed to this point, of the agreement seemed to me to show a lack of understanding of the real intentions of the Government. Had Qantas felt that it would have been necessary for it, at this stage, regardless of cost, to ^service its own craft completely, and also to provide spare parts for its machines at Australian costs, it may have been alarmed at the possible increase of running costs involved thereby. Naturally a company would desire, in such circumstances, to protect itself as far as possible. Honorable members will recollect that the contractors for the Sydney Harbour Bridge covered themselves against increased cost.
– Except in relation to exchange.
– True; it failed at that point, but otherwise it covered itself. Qantas naturally desired to do the same thing. Nevertheless, I urge that arrangements should be made as soon as possible to service within this country the flying boats on our part of the route. That does not mean that I in any sense suggest that the craft will not be adequately serviced by Imperial Airways’ engineers, or not be expertly flown by Imperial Airways’ crews; but obviously men will find it difficult to take the same pride in the aircraft of another company as they take in their own. It is desirable also that the craft to be used in this service should bc confined as far as practicable to uniform climatic conditions. This will contribute to efficiency. A wide variety of conditions will be experienced on the complete route from the United Kingdom to Australia, and I think it will be generally agreed that aircraft which are confined to the conditions known to predominate in a given section of the route are likely to give better service than machines which would have to meet the great variety of conditions of the whole route. Moreover, mechanics dealing with machines on certain sections of the route will be able to service them more effectively, and will have, a more intimate knowledge of them, than they could possibly have of machines travelling over the whole route.
I do not call into question, in any respect, the ability of the officials and men of the Qantas and Imperial Airways to co-operate in the fullest possible degree. On the occasion of ray recent journey from Australia to England I saw something of the spirit of co-operation that exists. I did not hear one Qantas official criticize one Imperial Airways official or vice versa. But if anything should go wrong with a machine on a certain section of the journey, it would be only human for the engineers of one company to suggest that those of the other company are responsible. Regarding the spirit of co-operation already existing between the two organizations, I well remember that in flying between Penang and Singapore we entered a storm which frightened the life out of me. When we landed at Darwin Captain Lester Brain, of Qantas, said to me “ I am sorry that I cannot spend the afternoon with you ; but I am taking a spare tyre to Penang in the DH86.” I knew that the journey involved travelling through 250 miles of storm, yet this official took it as a matter of course in order to assist the officials of Imperial Airways.
One feature of this proposed service which disturbs nic is that the mail matter which will come to Australia from the United Kingdom will carry no surcharge, whereas that which goes from Australia to the United Kingdom will bear a surcharge of 3d. a half ounce. I also appreciate the difficulty of our postal authorities in connexion with this matter. If the surcharge were lifted from air-mail matter from Australia to Great Britain, undoubtedly an agitation would quickly arise for the lifting of the surcharge from internal air-mail matter. Of the total cost of £130,000 a year for this service, about £70,000 will be collected by surcharges, so naturally the abolition of the surcharge would tremendously increase the cost of the service to the Government, and the abolition of surcharge for internal services which would have to. follow would be an even greater expense. Obviously, however, a greater bulk of airmail matter will come into Australia at the I4d. rate than will go out of it at the 5d. rate, for people are naturally a little parsimonious in these matters. It may be said that the reduced tonnage of outward air-mail matter will make more room for passengers, but if so many hundred people travel from Australia to England by this service, approximately the same number will make the return journey, unless the expedient of reduced fares for the outward journey is adopted. As things are, it seems to me that a considerable waste of pay load is probable. I realize the financial difficulties which have faced the Government, but it seems to me to be .inevitable that before very long the surcharge on outward mail matter will have to be discontinued. We should, therefore, make up our minds at once to bear the additional cost. After all, two-penny postage has been justified by saying increased postal facilities are now being paid for out of revenue, and have in fact been paid for in this way during the last few years, loan money not being available for the purpose. If the Government abolished the surcharge it would still have a very considerable margin of profit on the operations of the whole department. For this reason it would, in my opinion, be justified in taking the course that I am advocating.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition made another point upon which I am at variance with him. He said that the imperial air-mail service really only interested commercial firms doing business in England, and people who have relatives and friends abroad to whom they write regularly. That, I submit, leaves out of account a very important factor. The reduction of travelling time between Australia and countries overseas must benefit not only our business interests, but also all the cultural business and social activities of Australian life. One of the great handicaps from which Australian professional and business men, medical practitioners, artists and leaders of our cultural life suffer, is their separation from kindred interests overseas. Our people definitely suffer in consequence of their lack of personal contacts overseas. When it becomes possible for professional and business men, educationalists and industrial leaders to make quick journeys abroad to keep in touch with new thoughts and methods it will be immeasurably to the benefit of Australia as a whole. For this reason, I feci that the observations of the Deputy Le ad el* of the Opposition concerning the probable advantages of this service showed a lack of adequate appreciation.
Like that honorable gentleman, however, I feel that this is an appropriate opportunity upon which to pay tribute to Qantas. Australians have every reason to be proud of the romantic growth of many of their industries, and also of the outstanding careers of many of our citizens in various professions and commercial undertakings, but I do not think a greater romance has occurred in the history of Australian enterprises than that of the development of the Qantas Empire Airways.
– Does the honorable member consider that Australia has properly treated its notable pioneer aviators?
– Probably the Chair would consider that I waa departing from the provisions of the bill if I discussed that subject at any length, but I may in passing point out, with the indulgence of Mr. Speaker, that the fact that an individual has shown himself to be a wonderful aerial explorer does not necessarily make it easy to fit him into civil activities or public life. I have the greatest admiration for the wonderful work of our aerial explorers but, in some cases, their very virtues and extraordinary fearlessness in attempting great feats have made it difficult to fit them into the ordinary walks of life. We must all have regretted that some of these airmen have been obliged, for financial reasons, to engage in hazardous flights which were not of real value. Speaking in general terms it may be said that the governments of Australia, according to the prosperity of the times in which they have been’ in power, have accorded our aerial explorers very considerable support.
People are apt, at times, to complain that Australia does not provide facilities for aviators comparable with those available in the United States of America; but it must be remembered that although our air routes are as far flung as those of the United States of America, they serve only about 7,000,000 people, whereas those of the United States of America serve between 110,000,000 and 120,000,000 people who are among the wealthiest in the world. Having travelled ‘over the back country air routes of Australia I have felt called upon, again and again, to pay tribute to the magnificent work done by our civil aviation authorities in making these routes so safe with the limited money at their disposal. I have flown right across the northern parts of this continent over to Broome, crossing some of the most rugged country in the world, and I have seldom been more than 30 miles from an .emergency landing ground, yet on one occasion, when I flew up the Rhine in Germany in thick fog, my eyes nearly popped out of. ray head looking for landing grounds. At one stage of the journey I flew a distance of 150 miles in which there was only one landing ground. Probably if I had deviated 20 or 30 miles on either side of the route that I was taking I might have seen emergency landing grounds. When the difficult conditions of this country are considered in relation to the amount of money available for aerial developmental work, it must bo admitted that those closely identified with civil aviation have done a remarkably good job.
Sitting suspended from 12.%.5 to 2.15 p.m.
– I propose to conclude my remarks by giving a short sketch of the remarkable record of Qantas, which is of interest because the company is the Australian agent to carry out this agreement. The company was formed in 1920 by Mr. Hudson Fysh and Mr. T. J. Mcinnes, two flying corps officers, who had returned from the war. They commenced a taxi service between the Longreach rail-head and the Winton rail-head, with two war-time aeroplanes purchased from the Government. In 1922, the Government of the day gave them their first subsidized route between Charleville and Cloncurry, a route of 577 miles. In 1925 this route was extended to Mr Isa and Camooweal. The route flown then became825 miles. In 1927 a branch line from Cloncurry to Normanton was established, bringing the number of miles flown to 1,040. In 1928 the Cloncurry flying doctor service, which has since become famous, was established by the Australian Inland Mission with transport provided by Qantas. Qantas has been carrying out the flying doctor service ever since. In 1929 the company extended its route from Charleville to Brisbane, making the total number of miles flown 1,484. An interesting point in the growth of this company is that, unlike the usual transport companies which generally start from the city and work out, Qantas started from the bush and worked in to the city. It has developed from a bush company to an international service. In 1930 Qantas pilots had completed 1,000,000 miles of flying. In 1931 Qantas co-operated with Imperial Airways in an experimental service from the United Kingdom to Australia. By 1934 the number of miles flown by Qantas aeroplanes had increased to 2,477,000, entirely free of fatalities to the passengers. In 1934, when the BrisbaneSingapore service was permanently established, the Qantas Company ended its fourteenth year of existence. Its record was recognized then as one of the most outstanding in the world in air transport. It is certainly an outstanding chapter in the history of Australian aviation. In 1934 Qantas became Qantas Empire Airways and the company initiated its service to Singapore, which it has been flying ever since, until its aeroplanes have flown 3,100,000 miles between Singapore and Australia. They have flown over the Timor Sea 576 times.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).I am afraid that the interesting history of Qantas has nothing to do with this bill.
– I submit that it has to do with this bill to the extent that I am dealing with the record of an agent of the Commonwealth Government. To show how efficient the Qantas company has been is surely to indicate the good fortune of the people of Australia in having such an agent to carry on their work. I shall not continue further with statistical detail, if Mr. Speaker thinks I am not in order in doing so, except to point out that in 3,100,000 miles flown, not only have there been no fatalitiesor injuries to any passenger or member of the staff, but also on no occasion has there been a forced landing. That is a record which is unique in the history of aviation. With all due respect to Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to make any apology for commenting upon the wonderful record of Qantas, because it shows what an excellent agent Australia has to carry on this new service on which we ‘ are embarking.
A discussion of the route between Sydney and Singapore would not be complete without a tribute to the very great work done by the meteorological station at Darwin. When the Singapore service was started it did not have meteorological aids, and the average speed of aircraft, which, as the pilots did not know where to find favorable winds, had often to buffet against head-winds, was 128 miles an hour. Since the establishment of the meteorological station that average speed has been increased to 152 miles an hour with exactly the same aircraft. That is solely because the officer in charge of the station is able to tell the pilots at what altitudes they will find favorable winds. ; We are to-day at a milestone in the history of air transport in Australia, and it would be quite wrong if a tribute were not paid to the men who have pioneered the Singapore route. Mr. Hudson Fysh has worked up Qantas from a small taxi service to an organization in which there is a greater amount of co-operation than I have seen in any industry. Not only is it right to pay a tribute to these men, but also, I think, the Government might well consider, when next making out a list of honours, recognizing not only the managing director, Mr. Fysh, but also the senior captains. They have done wonderful work in the last four years particularly, as well as during the -whole eighteen years’ history of Qantas.
The agreement is a reasonably fair and efficient compromise of many varied interests. I think generally that the result is satisfactory. One could point to a lot of things one. might have wished for, but particularly we should be satisfied with the proposals that have been outlined by the Minister for the distribution of the mails at this end. This distribution will cost appreciably more money than it would have cost had the mails been taken to Sydney, because the cost of the service to Sydney will not be reduced by the fact that the aircraft are carrying less mails after leaving Darwin. Nevertheless, this additional cost is well justified because it will give the people the standard of service to which they rightly consider they are entitled.
There are two directions in which I think there could be improvement. One is a provision thai the Australian section of the route shall be kept entirely’ as a self-contained unit for reasons which I outlined earlier in my speech. The second is that Australia must be prepared to go to the extent of abolishing the surcharge altogether. Much criticism has been levelled, not only at the Ministers, but also at their officers. I think, particularly, that those who have had to make this provision for. the ground, or rather water, facilities along the route, deserve a tribute for the speed with which they, when the route was decided, provided adequate facilities. One of the difficulties that they have encountered all the time is that, although the responsibility for providing the facilities along the route was a responsibility of the civil aviation authorities, they did not know until the last moment what the postal authorities would decide that they wanted. Therefore, the civil aviation authorities were kept waiting until a very late date to know actually on which route they would have to provide facilities. Once that was decided, they provided facilities in a very reasonable time. All through there has been difficulty in that facilities have to be provided by the Civil Aviation Department under the Minister for Defence, whereas the major question of mails was the responsibility of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. There is a great deal to be said for the proposal to place the Civil Aviation Department and the Postmaster-General’s Department under the administration of the same Minister. I do not suggest in any way that the Civil Aviation Department should become a branch of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. [Leave to continue given.]
I feel that civil aviation is something entirely by itself, but it is constantly doing the work of the post office, and there needs to be a definite co-ordinating factor between the two departments. The Postmaster-General, generally speaking, is not an overworked Minister, and I feel that the same Minister could be in charge of the two departments. I do not agree that civil aviation is a matter for the Defence Minister. Meteorological work is largely carried out on data provided by the Postmaster-General’s Department, and I think that these three functions might well be co-ordinated under the . one Minister, particularly when civil aviation has to provide the facilities for the mail deliveries that are provided for in this agreement. I conclude that it is a satisfactory agreement, and 1 hope thai it will be carried out with the success and efficiency that has marked operations of Qantas in the past.
– The speech of the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn) has been both informative and interesting. When the honorable member deals with aviation, he gives to the .House information which is both important and interesting. The honorable member said that the Government and the Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby) were to be congratulated for formulating this agreement because of the great difficulties that necessarily arise when different governments art involved. He also stressed the point that varying interests - presumably vested interests - associated with aviation had to be reconciled. I should like to obtain from the Minister some further information regarding the reasons which induced the Government to depart from its original determination to make Darwin the terminal point for the overseas air service. The honorable member for Flinders expressed his regret that he was unable to give information on this point, but’ I maintain that the House should have this information if it is to appreciate the real significance of the agreement. When the former honorable member for Warringah, Sir Archdale Parkhill, -was . Minister for Defence, there was a good deal of press controversy regarding the proposal to make Sydney the terminal point for the service. The then Minister took a very strong stand against this proposal. He argued that, for both commercial and defence purposes, Darwin should be the terminal point; that it was essential that our inland air services should be fostered. It was pointed out that, because of the great distances between inland towns, they could be adequately served only by aerial services. It was further argued that to continue the service down the Queensland coast with flying boats would be merely to superimpose another method of transport upon the railway and shipping services already in existence. Those arguments were, for the most part, supported by honorable members of the Opposition, and the then Minister declared very definitely that he would not budge from thu position be had taken up. It look*, however, as though financial interests have scored another victory. The Minister was defeated, and went out of office, and, very shortly afterwards, we were informed that .the Government had. reversed its policy, and that Sydney would become the terminal point for a flying boat service. It was stated that this decision was justified on the ground that, as it was proposed to extend the service to Kew Zealand, the terminal point should be at Sydney, so that the service could be carried on without interruption.
– The service will be extended possibly beyond New Zealand.
– It seems to me that this argument was added only as an afterthought; we heard no suggestion of it when the controversy first began. I still believe that the matter should not be regarded as settled, because it is just as desirable now as it ever was that we should foster and develop our inland air services in order to relieve the isolation of people in the outback areas, and to strengthen our defence equipment. I believe that there has been a surrender by the Commonwealth Government to very strong financial interests.
– There is no foundation for that belief. Australia retains absolute control over the service from Singapore to Sydney.
– The Minister is able to make that statement, and we are unable to test its truth because the information before us is so meagre. This agreement is a highly technical document, and it cannot be expected that its full purport will be readily understood by laymen. The fact remains that the previous Minister for Defence, who had, presumably, all the facts in his possession, believed that Darwin should be the terminal point. Now the Government has reversed its previous decision, and we are given no satisfactory explanation. The honorable member for Flinders was unable to supply the reason, and, indeed, confessed that he, himself, was not completely satisfied.
Under the agreement, many concessions, besides the payment of a subsidy, are to be made to the companies operating this service. For instance, all the oil and fuel which will be used on service flights, and for trials and tests as well, will be made available to the companies free of duty, and all other taxes to which they might be subject, and this is to apply also to all equipment imported for the purpose of maintaining the service. That is an important concession. Moreover, the companies are to be reimbursed by the Commonwealth for any duties or taxes paid in the Dutch East Indies in respect of fuel and equipment purchased there.
Tho agreement also provides that the Commonwealth Government shall pay to Qantas Empire Airways Limited a minimum annual subsidy of £40,000. The subsidy payment will be increased by 8s. per lb. for each pound of mails originating in Australia or its territories carried in excess of 40,000 lb. per annum, but shall not exceed £50,000 sterling. That appears to be fairly clear, but the next paragraph also provides for payments, and I should like to know whether they are to be additional to those in the paragraph I have just quoted. It is stated that the Commonwealth Government will also pay to Qantas Empire Airways
Limited 16s. for the carriage of each pound of mail originating in Australia or its territories, but that the annual amount so paid shall not be less than £32,000, nor more than £52,000. Am I right in assuming that, under those provisions, the total subsidy may amount to £102,000 a year?
– That is the maximum.
– It is also provided in the agreement that the frequency of the service shall be not less than three times weekly, and that it shall be increased if the Commonwealth so requires. I should like to know whether, if the frequency of the service is increased, the subsidy is to be increased also.
– No, the maximum amount to which the Commonwealth is committed under the agreement is £102,000, plus £30,000 for maintenance. The company is bound to carry all the mail offering, even if, in order to do so, it must put on extra flying boats.
– The Commonwealth undertakes to provide £30,000 for maintenance. I should like to know whether this money is to be expended wholly on the Australian end of the service, or whether it is to be expended on a pro rata basis over the whole route from Great Britain.
– Only on that part from Singapore to Sydney, and any amount required in excess of £30,000 will be paid, by the Government of the United Kingdom.
MrBEASLEY-. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) referred to the subsidy which the Government now pays to the Orient Line for the carriage of mails by sea. Paragraph g of clause 6 of the agreement is as follows : -
The Commonwealth Government will make no reduction in its subsidy payments to the Orient Line on account of the transference of mail to the air service, though it reserves the right to modify the existing arrangements on other grounds if and when it considers such step to be necessary.
The wording of that paragraph is not very clear. I have reason to believe that those who control the affairs of the Orient Line are also financially interested in Imperial Airways. From what I can gather, those associated with the Orient . Line are likely to be equally associated with Imperial Airways, and it looks as if they will be paid both ways. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, in a short space of time the reduction of the air-mail rate will result in approximately 90 per cent. of our first-class mails being carried overseas by air. It does not appear right to me that subsidies should be paid in two directions. The taxpayers of Australia should not be called upon to maintain at the existing high rate the subsidy now paid to the Orient Line for a service which two or three years hence it will no longer be called upon to render. It would be difficult to justify on ordinary business principles the continuation of the present rate of subsidy, whether my contention with regard to Imperial Airways and the shipping interests be correct or not. Clause 6 g is not definite in that it ought to provide some means whereby an adjustment can be made to the extent that at least the subsidy for. the air service could be reimbursed by the reduction effected in the payments to the Orient Line. In that respect the Deputy Leader of the Opposition touched a very vital point in this agreement.
– How long will that condition continue?
– The clause itself seems nebulous to me; it provides that the Commonwealth shall make no reduction in its subsidy payments to the Orient Line on account of the transference of mails to the air service. There is no reference to time. It further provides that the Commonwealth Government reserves the right to modify the. existing arrangements on other grounds if and when it considers such a step to be necessary. Apparently “ other grounds “ will have no reference to the air-mail service.
– Is there any definite term to the contract?
– No. A subsidy of £130,000 was paid until 1931, when it was reduced to £110,000. The point is that the weight of first-class mail matter that will travel by air will amount to only about 40 or 60 tons a year at most. It is not a very big item. A large proportion of the mail carried by the Orient company is second-class mail matter.
– In the event of the surcharge on air mail being entirely removed surely that arrangement would not be continued?
– The agreement provides that it can be reviewed by the Government and the Orient Line at any time.
– The preamble to the agreement definitely states that no reduction will be made. That leads me to the deduction that tho interests associated with companies drawing these subsidies would want to be clear that they would not be affected by changing conditions in regard to transport. Those who invest in certain public utilities such as transport take the risk that changing conditions may vary the mode of transport. I feel sure, however, that nobody wishes to inflict unnecessary hardship on those who have invested their money in this way but the taxpayers cannot be expected to make payments in order to enable obsolete services to continue. I am still at a loss to know why the preamble makes such a definite declaration; but time, no doubt, will show more fully the reasons for if.
– m reply - In reply to tho points raised by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), the contract entered into with the Orient Company was not merely for the carriage of mails; in return for the subsidy, the Orient Company undertook to a-un to a certain-schedule, and to call at certain ports and pick up and set down first and second class mail matter. It would be a breach of contract if, because we take a small portion of the mail away from that company, we cancelled the whole or any part of the mail contract for which the subsidy was paid. The quantity of first-class mail matter which will be diverted to aerial transport will not amount to more than four or five tons a month. That is a very small quantity when considered in relation to the large volume of mails carried by the Orient Company. The contract under which the mail subsidy is paid to the Orient Company requires the company to call at a number pf ports not related to :the actual route which will be covered by the flyingboat service. That is why the clause to which the honorable member for West
Sydney referred was inserted in the agreement. The Commonwealth reserves the right to reduce or vary the mail subsidy to the Orient Company, not because it proposes to despatch a .certain quantity of mail by air, but because of other considerations entirely outside of this proposed flying-boat service. The Commonwealth does not propose to tie its hands in any way or to allow the Empire air-mail contract :to interfere with the contract already existing with the Orient Company.
The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) asked what subsidy was being paid by the British Government in connexion with this scheme. For the first three yeans the British Government will pay £750,000, and at the end of each subsequent three-year period, the amount of subsidy will be reduced to £675,000, £600,000. £525,000, and £450,000, respectively. Those amounts include the subsidies from .the various participating countries which will be receiving part service from this organization.
The honorable member for West Sydney also raised the point as to why the Commonwealth Government varied the original proposal that the service should end at Darwin and then be taken up by land aeroplanes throughout the Commonwealth. The British Government’s proposal was for an Empire flying-boat service, and if the Commonwealth had insisted upon breaking the service at Darwin it would have been necessary to institute a separate service from Sydney to Auckland. A break of this sort in the flying-boat service would have probably resulted in the destruction of the project the British Government had in mind to deliver all outward mails to the various parts of the dominions free of surcharge. The Commonwealth ‘Government originally took exception to Imperial Airways continuing the . service right through to Sydney, thus virtually taking control of the air-mail service within the Commonwealth. A compromise of the kind referred to by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr-. Fairbairn) was effected, -as the result of which the Commonwealth retained under its control the Australian section of the air route and in return agreed to cooperate with Imperial Airways in the service to Darwin. The Commonwealth even went so far as to say that, as the Qantas Company had successfully established an , air route from Singapore through to Darwin and Brisbane, it should be entitled to retain control of that section of the route. The British Government, however, promised to provide an Empire flying-boat service in respect of which it undertook to contribute the larger proportion of the cost. It believed that such a service would be a national asset and that it would be possible gradually to extend it right throughout the British Empire. The dominions were asked to contribute only a minor proportion of the cost. It was then decided to accept that proposal, and the agreement embodied in the bill was drawn up. The retention of the surcharge in the case of the Commonwealth will meet only a portion of the total cost of its share of the subsidy, and the reduction of the surcharge from1s. 4d. to 3d. a half ounce, should be welcomed by the people generally. The agreement has been drawn up very carefully to protect Australia’s interests in every possible way. The Common wealth Government, has agreed to contribute towards the cost of themanufacture in Australia of flying boats and parts asa definite contribution towards the establishment of an aircraft industry in this country.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) :
Amendment No. 1.
Clause 4 - (1.) In this act, unless the contrary in ten tion appears - “Pharmaceutical chemist” means a person who is registered as a pharmaceutical chemist or pharmacist under the law in force in the State or part of the Commonwealth in whichhe supplies drugs, medicines, or appliances in pursuance of a contract made under this act:
Senate’s amendment. -After “supplies” insert “. or proposes to supply.”.
. -I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
This amendment of the Senate extends the definition of “ pharmaceutical chemist “ fromone who is supplying drugs to one who not only supplies but also proposes to supply drugs.
Motion agreed to.
Amendment No. 2 -
Senate’s amendment. - After clause 55 insert the following new clause: - “55a. - (1.) For the purpose of enabling the Commission to determine the terms of any contract or agreement proposed to be entered into by it under thisPart for the supply of drugs, medicines and appliances, the Commission may, by notice in writing, call upon any manufacturer or wholesale distributor of drugs, medicines and appliances to furnish to it, within such time as is specified in the notice, such hooks and documents and such information as the Commission thinks necessary in relation to drugs, medicines and appliances the subject of any such contract or agreement. (2.) Any person who, without reasonable excuse (proof whereof shall lie upon him) fails after receiptof a notice under the last preceding sub-section, to comply with the requirements of the notice, shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty: Fifty pounds, or imprisonment for three months.”
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
This is a simple amendment,the purpose of which is to enable the commission to obtain any information necessary to the determination of the terms of any proposed contract or agreement for the supply of drugs, &c.
Motion agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 3 to 7.
Clause180- (1.) In the event of the bankruptcy of an employer or the winding up of the affairs ofa company, all contributions payable by the employer or company in respect of employed contributors during the twelve months before the making of the sequestration order or the commencement of the winding up shall receive priority over other liabilities of the bankrupt or of the companyexcept the costs of and incidental to the administration of the estate or the winding up the proper funeral and testamenary expenses of a deceased bankrupt and the wages or salary duetoany employee of the bankrupt or company.
Senate’s amendments. - After “bankruptcy”, first occurring, insert “ within the meaning of the Bankruptcy Act1924-1933.”. Leave out “ before the making of the sequestration order “, insert “ preceding the date of the bankruptcy “. Leave out “ bankrupt “ wherever occurring, insert “employer”.
– I move -
That the amendments be. agreed to.
This is a series of small amendments. The clause as passed by this committee provided only for those bankruptcy proceedings under the Bankruptcy Act in whicha sequestration order had been made. Under the Bankruptcy Act, the word “ bankruptcy “ includes any proceedings under the act. “I am advised that, as the clause left this chamber, the word “ bankruptcy “ did not have the full meaning given to it under the Bankruptcy Act. The amendments are designed to remedy that oversight, and to ensure that the clause will not fail in its purpose in respect of those proceedings for which provision is made in the Bankruptcy Act, where no sequestration order has been made. I understand that the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) is in agreement with the amendments. They provide further protection for the employee.
Motion agreed to.
First schedule -
Part II. - Excepted employment -
Employment by a hospital in respect of which the commission certifies that the terms of employment provide health insurance benefits on the whole not less favorable than the health insurance benefits provided by this act.
Senate’samendment. - Leave out paragraph (c).
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
I am advised by the Crown Law
Department that sub-clause c as it stands, will preclude employees of hospitals from making contributions or obtaining benefits under this legislation. I understand that that was not the intention of the honorable member who moved for the inclusion of the paragraph; that he wished to confine the exemption to the medical benefit. I ventured to address the committee when this matter was before it previously. I believe that honor able members are convinced that hospital employees should not be denied the right to make contributions or to obtain benefits under this scheme. If it be necessary to embark on a longer dissertation, I shall be only too glad to do so.
– I cannot feel at all satisfied with the explanation given by the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) for the omission of paragraph c. The request which the amendment featured was that hospital employees who to-day receive a medical benefit the equivalent of or superior to that provided under this bill should to that extent be exempt from the provisions of the bill. The Treasurer says that this paragraph will deprive hospital employees of the right to participate in this particular form of insurance. The honorable gentleman knows that that difficulty could easily be overcome by a consequential amendment in an earlier clause.
– How does the Treasurer make his point?
– He says that he has received an intimation from the officers of the Crown Law Department that, by the passage of this particular paragraph, hospital employees will be disqualified from any participation in the scheme. That, definitely, was not the purpose of this committee when the paragraph was inserted in the schedule. It was then made clear to the Treasurer that he would be required to make the necessary consequential amendment adequately to provide for the position. His unwillingness to do so is shown by his declaration this afternoon. He knows full well that he could deal with the position adequately if he wished to do so.
– These benefits are generally taken into consideration when wages are being calculated.
– I do not believe that they are.
– They are regarded as being equivalent to a consideration provided by the hospital authorities on behalf of their employees. If the paragraph he omitted from the schedule, those employees will definitelyhave imposed upon them the obligation to make ‘ a contribution in order to receive a benefit which they now receive without that contribution. I consider that the Treasurer has been most inconsiderate in respect of hospitals. The bill makes no provision to aid them in their work. On the contrary, an added obligation will be placed upon them to deal with the many cases that will be referred to them by doctors under this insurance scheme. This paragraph was a medium whereby hospital boards could at least have been relieved of the financial obligations which the bill proposed to place upon them. In a speech that I made earlier on this matter, I said that not only is the Government imposing on hospitals an added obligation in that under this scheme they will have to provide for a larger number of patients, but that it is also ruining their prospects of obtaining the public subscriptions which formerly were made possible by means of the voluntary schemes of different firms. If this ban be imposed on all employed persons, many of them will be under the impression that national insurance covers the whole of the treatment in respect of sickness and ill health, and, consequently, they may forego the opportunity to contribute voluntarily to the funds of a hospital. That will deprive hospitals of a substantial amount of. revenue which they now receive. As a further hardship, hospitals are to be required to make a contribution on behalf of their employees for what is now provided by means of their medical services.’ The whole thing is grossly unjust. An unfair burden will be placed upon these institutions, and the employees will definitely be deprived of that consideration which is due to them as a part of their employment. I hope that the committee will see the wisdom of rejecting the Senate’s amendment, and will insist upon the retention of the paragraph. The necessary consequential amendment could then be made, and equity and justice would be done to hospital employees as well as to the institutions themselves.
. -t-I support the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin). The whole matter is embraced in one point. In the calculation of wages by boards, conciliation committees and other tribunals, consideration of the services provided by the employer in these matters is assessed at a certain value and the wages are determined accordingly.
– Only in some cases.
– As a matter of fact, a tribunal is dealing with the matter of hospital employees in Sydney at the moment. For a long time, the different hospitals made separate agreements with their employees, but, under the Hospital Commission, there has been a move for standardization, and. a common rule is now being made. All these factors are now being considered in the form of evidence and argument.
The employees of the railways and tramways services are provided with a pass to travel to and from their work and to visit different parts of the State when on annual leave. The value of those passes and other concessions is fixed at a certain figure, and is taken into account when determining weekly wages. When all is said and done, our contention is that the employees should not be called upon to pay twice for their benefits. In the rates bill, provision was made whereby the payment of employees in government institutions who have superannuation benefits is to be less than is prescribed in respect of persons who are to be covered by this scheme generally. Whatever the rates for these persons may be they will be fixed upon an actuarial basis. I am at a los3 to understand why any difficulty should be understood in regard to this matter. As hospital employees, speaking generally, receive medical benefits similar to those specified in this bill and pay for them by way of deductions from their wages, it is, therefore, unfair to expect them to contribute under thi* scheme. Certain persons who contribute for superannuation payments have been granted exemption, and hospital employees whose terms of employment provide for sickness benefits, could be granted exemption with equal justification.
– Do the honorable member’s remarks cover private as well as public hospitals?
– And also mental asylums and philanthropic institutions?
– I know that certain inmates of old men’s homes are treated according to their capacity to work; but many of them receive far less than the basic wage.
– A provision of the bill meets those circumstances.
– We should not impose a double contribution upon any employees. To avoid doing so was the whole object of the proposal of the honorable member for Hindmarsh. The Treasurer (Mr. Casey) says in effect, “ I want to protect the health of the workers and of insured persons generally “. Very well, but why impose a double charge on the workers to achieve thatpurpose?
– The purpose of the Government is to guarantee the provision of health services.
– Isolated cases may be cited to prove any contention on this point, but we submit that the charges upon employees should not be such as to cause them to pay twice for the same services.
– One underlying principle of this bill is that employees shall be assured of the benefits provided. For that reason the fewest possible exemptions have been allowed. If the partial exemption desired by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) for certain classes of employees is granted, undoubtedly an agitation will be set on foot for further exemptions, and the whole object of the scheme may be undermined. Although some hospital employees may, at present, be receiving benefits equivalent to those specified in the bill they have no guarantee that they will continue to receive them. The wide range of hospitals should be kept in mind. We should think, not only of the big metropolitan hospitals, but also of the suburban and private hospitals, and of the mental hospitals and other philanthropic institutions. The Government wishes to preserve continuity of insurance for all the persons entitled to come under the provisions of the bill. Even persons covered by their terms of employment with some hospitals, may find themselves in different employment next week. They may accept employment entirely separated from hospitals. The Government desires to ensure that in such cases their privileges shall be preserved.
In my opinion, when this measure is in full operation, the position of the hospitals will be better than it is to-day. We know very well that in some cases, hospital employees who fall sick are paid, if not the whole, at any rate a proportion, of their wages by the hospital authorities. If the Government’s intention is implemented the hospital finances will be relieved of any such burden in respect of insured persons.
– Under the British scheme extended hospital benefits are provided for definite contributions.
– It may be true that in certain hospitals themedical practitioners give free treatment to nurses who need it, but we can have no guarantee that that procedure will not be varied. If hospital employees are insured under this bill, the medical -practitioners on the one hand and the hospital authorities on the other will be relieved of any obligation to provide them with medical treatment and medicines without cost for, as the insured persons will be entitled to the benefits of this measure, the medical practitioners and hospital authorities will be fully entitled to make the specified charges in respect of them. I, therefore, urge that the Government’s view be accepted.
.- I do not propose to discuss the merits and demerits ofthe clause, as they have once been settled by this House. I am concerned about the Treasurer’s suggestion that, if this amendment is adhered to, hospital employees will be entirely exempt. The object of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) is to secure exemption from payments for medical benefits for only those hospital employees whose terms of employment assure them of medical benefits. On the consideration in committee of clause 24 it was pointed out that the carrying of this amendment in the First Schedule wouldnecessitate the insertion in subclause 2 of clause 24 a reference to paragraph c as well as to paragraph b of Part II. of the First Schedule. I urged the postponement of clause 24 until that schedule had been disposed of, andI think that suggestion was supported by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender). Had it not been for the guillotine, clause 24 could have been recommitted at the report stage and the amendment in sub-clause 2 made here, but if the House adheres to its amendment sub-clause 2 can be consequentially amended in the Senate.
– I hope that the committee will revert to the status quo in this connexion. The honorable membra for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) stated in temperate language what sounded like a good case, but I do not think that his examples were altogether true to the facts of the case. I was an inmate of a hospital recently, and I know that the nurse who attended me was a contributor to a hospital fund in New South Wales She did not enjoy the right to hospital treatment as part of the terms of her engagement. Where is the real difference in persons paying for these benefits by means” of a pay envelopes tux and paying for them by means of friendly society contributions? In each case the benefit is purchased. If hospital employees are entitled to exemption because of certain contributions they- make to’ specified funds, surely the 400,000 members of friendly societies in Australia are also entitled to exemption because they contribute to their societies for medical services and medicines-.
– But will not certain adjustments he made by the appropriate approved society in respect of such individuals?
Sir FREDERICK STEWART.Yes; but undoubtedly adjustments will also be made in the emoluments of hospital employees. Obviously, the Hospitals Commission of New South Wales will bear this point in mind. The area of the application of this measure should not be restricted in any further degree. I am sorry that public servants have been granted exemption from contributions. I do not know whether that was done in the interests of the State as an employer, or of the public servant as an employee; but certainly it was a mistake.
.- I hope the committee will restore the clause to its original wording. Last week I met a nurse employed in one of the largest hospitals in Sydney, and she said to me, “Who has taken upon himself the responsibility to say nurses wish to be excluded from the national insurance scheme?’’ She told me. that some medical practitioners gave free treatment to the nurses at the hospitals in which they were interested, others charged half-fees, and others felt no obligation at all in regard to the matter. Unless we are careful, we shall add to the anomalies of the scheme. It may be that maids and cleaners in hospitals will be excluded, although clearly they are on a. quite different footing from nurses, and do not enjoy quite the same goodwill from the doctors as do the nurses. This nurse said to me that they would rather pay 2d. a week and have medical attention as a light than save that 2d. a week and accept it as au act of kindness. I appeal to the committee to agree to the Senate’s amendment, and leave thu clause as it was originally framed.
.- I cannot accept the statement of the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) as to the value of restoring this clause to its original wording. I am aware of the conditions that operate in subsidized hospitals in Tasmania, and to some extent in Victoria, as the result of my association with a union. In Tasmania one of the conditions of employment of the nurses and the general staff is free medical treatment. When they are ordered off duty as the result of illness their pay continues for a time, but, of course, it eventually ceases: There is no suggestion of charity in the provision of free medical treatment for the staffs in Tasmania. It is their right. In Victoria the same position applies. Free medical treatment of the staffs of the hospitals is provided for in the awards of the State wages board. I have no knowledge of what obtains in New South Wales, where the position may be as the honorable member for Parramatta. (Sir Frederick Stewart) states it. The Treasurer claimed that the hospitals would benefit when the scheme had settled down. But I do not think that would work out in practice. The hospital boards will have to find extra money to make contributions in respect to their employees through the national insurance fund, and I do not know where they are going to find it. The cost of hospital treatment will have to be increased. I agree with the honorable member for “West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) that the troubles of the auxiliary comm.it.tees that provide money to assist the hospitals will be greatly increased. Perhaps the Treasurer has in mind that eventually the hospitals will be wholly maintained by the States from general taxes. The suggestion made by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) would overcome the difficulty that the Treasurer anticipates. If the hospital employees were excluded from the provisions of the bill, the position would be more satisfactory, not. only for the employees but also for the hospital hoards, which are the employers.
.- In my electorate there are two State institutions, one at Newington, where there are 700 women, and one at Lidcombe, where there are 1,400 men. At both hospitals some of the inmates have been employed for many years. At Newington, the wages range from £1 a week to as low as1s. 6d. Does the Treasurer intend to deduct1s. a week from the women who receive 1s.6d. a week for washing floors? At Lidcombe, the wages range from nearly the basic wage for the man who drives the motor bus from the railway stationto the hospital, to ft very low level. Does the Treasurer intend to take1s. 6d. a week from those who are receiving, say, only a few shillings a week? One man at Lidcombe has been earning 7s. or8s. a week for years. Surely he will be exempted. This matter should be cleared up by the Treasurer. I want a. definite statement as to what the position willbe. I propose to vote for the amendment made by the House of Representatives.
– There is full provision for the commission to exercisecommonsense discretion.
– I do not want the exercise of discretion.I want provision in the bill.
– If the honorable gentleman will provide me with full particulars, I shall see what can be done.
– Will the Treasurer guarantee that the people to whom I have referred will not be called upon to pay anything?
– No. We want to cover as many people as possible in this bill. If it appeared to the commission that it would not be common sense to take1s. 6d. a week from certain persons it would not be taken. The commission has plenty of scope to exercise discretion.
Question put -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Prowse)
Majority . . 3
– The honorable member must know that he is being facetious.
– No; the honorable member forReid knows that the honorable member for Barton is being inconsistent.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Amendment No. 9.
Third schedule -
Rates of benefit payable … (1.) Sickness benefit -
Unmarried minors . .
Senate’s amendment. - Paragraph 1, subparagraph c, after “minors” insert “(not being juvenile contributors) “.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
This is merely a clarifying amendment.
Motion agreed to.
Amendment No. 10.
Fourth schedule -
Senate’s amendment. - Leave out “ Minister “ insert “ Commission “.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) agreed to.
That the amendment be agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Consideration’ resumed from the 19th
May (vide page 1316), on motion by
That the Schedule to the Excise Tariff 1921-1030 bo amended as hereunder set out . . . and on the amendment by Mr. Perkins (vide page 1314)- .
That the item be amended as follows: - By omitting the whole of sub-item (l) and inserting instead the following subitem: - . . .
.- When this matter was before the Parliament ion. the last occasion, I asked that consideration be deferred to permit me to look into the proposed change in practice for which provision is made. The Department of Trade and Customs has hitherto had to rely on both by-laws and regulations in order to carry on its administration. I have examined the proposal, and I see no reason to object to the proceeding contemplated in this measure.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 6 agreed to..
Standing Orders suspended; report adopted.
That Mr. Perkins and Mr. Thompson do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Perkins, and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
.- I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
On 27th July, 1929, an International Convention was signed at Geneva, relating to the treatment of the wounded and sick of combatants in time of war. This convention - to which Australia is a party - is popularly known as the Geneva Convention. The convention makes provision for the use of a distinctive emblem - a red cross on a white ground - by those engaged in medical services. Article 24 of the convention provides that such an emblem may not be used, either in time of peace or in time of war, except to protect or to indicate the medical officers and establishments, and the personnel and material protected by the convention. In order to give effect to this provision, the convention further provides, in article 28, that the governments of the parties to the convention whose legislation is not at present adequate for the purpose, shall take legislative action to prohibit the use of the red cross on a white ground, or a white or silver cross on a red ground, except in the circumstances contemplated by the convention.
It is, accordingly, provided by clause 4 of the bill that no person shall use any such emblem for the purpose of his trade or business, or for any other purpose, unless the authority of the Minister, or an authorized person, has been obtained. The clause also prohibits the use of the words “ red cross “ or “ Geneva cross “, or any similar words.
The bill also terminates the application to Australia of certain British legislation on the subject. The convention of 1929 supersedes a convention dated the 6th June, 1906, which also made provision for the protection of theRed Cross, but did not go so far as the more recent convention. Legislation to give effect to the 1906 convention was passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom in 1911, and this legislation applied throughout the whole of the King’s dominions. In 1937, the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed a further act to give effect to article28 of the 1929 convention, but this act does not extend to the Commonwealth. The act contemplates, however, that legislation will be passed by the Commonwealth Parliament, and, in order to remove any doubt as to the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament, it expressly provides that the Commonwealth Parliament shall have power to legislate to give effect to article 28 of the convention, and also authorizes the Commonwealth Parliament to terminate the application of the British act of 1911 to the Commonwealth and its territories. This bill will, therefore, make provision to give effect in Australia to the Geneva Convention of 1929, and will terminate the operation in Australia of the British act. which will be no longer necessary.
propose that this Parliament should ratify one of the conventions of the League of Nations. It is true that this is a convention associated with the League itself, and not with one of its auxiliary bodies, but Australia’s representatives have agreed to other conventions which Australia has not honoured, much to our disgrace. However, the Government has decided to adopt this convention in order to bring Australia into line with other nations, and its purpose is to secure the co-operation of all the signatory nations in doing all that is humanly possible for the sick and wounded members of all armies on the battlefield, whoever and wherever they may be. Two or three decades ago, most of us believed that conventions of this’ kind would be respected, and that the emblem of the red cross would serve to protect, in all circumstances, those who bore it. It is, however, useless for us to fool ourselves. We know that it is now more of a danger than a protection to shelter under the red cross on the battlefield. Thus, while it is impossible for us to have a great deal of faith in international agreements of this nature, it is our duty to subscribe to them in the hope that some good may come from them.
It isalso provided in the convention that the red cross, or the Geneva cross, may not be used for trade purposes. For years past certain first-aid and medical organizations have used the red cross emblem in theirpeace-time work, but there is a growing tendency for the emblem to be exploited for trade purposes, thus destroying its peculiar significance. In brief, this convention covers the following matters -
As I have said, at one time the emblem of the red cross was regarded as an absolute safeguard against deliberate molestation for all those engaged in caring for the sick and wounded in time of war. Unfortunately, we have reached a stage when practically all our efforts to humanize war have been proved futile. Someone has said that we might as well try to Christianize hell as to humanize
Avar. I believe that to be largely true, but it is still our duty to do what we. can, and therefore I support this measure. Question resolved in ‘the affirmative. Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill-byleave a third time.
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s Amendment).
Clause 5 -
In this act, unless the contrary intention appears - “ Administrator “, in relation to a Territory, means the person in control of the administration of that Territory;
Senate’s amendment - Leave out “ in control of the administration of that Territory,” insert “ charged with the duty of administering theGovernment thereof on behalf of the Commonwealth.”
. - This amendment makes no alteration of substance. It has been made solely for drafting reasons. ‘ It was thought that the definition of “ Administrator “ of a territory as being “ the person in control of the administration of a territory” was ambiguous, inasmuch as it might include other persons than the Administrator himself, even possibly the Minister. This is not intended. The words substituted by the Senate’s amendment more properly describe the administrators of the various territories. The new word ing accords with the language in the act whereby the office ofAdministrator is constituted. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Resolution reported. [Quorum formed.]
– I move-
That the bill be ; now read a third time.
Two honorable members asked that there should be a slight delay in respect of thefinal completion of this measure. I understand, however, that they are now both satisfied with regard to it. The. only further point which I should like to mention is that neither the State of Victoria nor the State of South Australia has yet applied to the Commonwealth Government for an arrangement such as thisbill envisages. In South Australia there is no tax that is directly relevant to this bill, and the Victorian measure entails assessment by the Commissioner and, therefore, there is no provision for agreement with the Commonwealth on these lines. Neither of the States has approached the Commonwealth and there are no current agreements with them, and therefore, the arrangement runs only in the other four States.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 29th June (vide page 2812). [Quorum formed.]
Bill agreed to, and reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - byleave- read a third time.
Rebate resumed from the 21st June (vide page 2396) on motion of Mr. archiecameron-
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted. [ Quorum fanned.]
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 21st June (vide page 2398), on motion of Mr. A rchie Cameron -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - byleave- read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 21st June (vide page 2397), on motion of Mr. Archie Cameron -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted. [Quorum formed.]
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 21st June (vide page 2397) on motion by Mr. Archie Cameron -
That thebill be now read a second time.
– This bill merely provides for the alteration of the name from “ Canned Fruits Control Board “ to “ Australian Fruits Board “. I support it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (‘Consideration of Administrator’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Archie Cameron) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to provide for the payment of a bounty on the export of citrus fruits from the Commonwealth during (the years 1938, 1939 and1940.
Standing Orders suspended ; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Archie Cameron and Mr. Casey do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Archie Cameron, and read a first time. [Quorum formed.]
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This measure provides for bounty at a reducing rate on citrus fruits exported to all destinations other than New Zealand, over the three years 1938, 1939 and 1940’. The bounty will be at the rate of 2s. an export box for 1938,1s. 6d. an export box for 1939, and1s. an export box for 1940. These amounts apply to the box which contains approximately l1/2bushels. For the bushel box they are to be propar- , tionately reduced.
Assistance has been rendered to this industry since 1933. In that year, following the imposition of the New Zealand embargo on Australian citrus fruits, growers were guaranteed their out-of-pocket expenses on oranges exported to the United Kingdom. The guarantee was renewed in . 1934, and, as that year turned out to be particularly disastrouson account of adverse seasonal conditions, a bounty of 6d. a case was granted on oranges exported to the United Kingdom. For the years 1935, 1936 and 1937, bounty at the rate of 2s. an export case was paid.
Although the New Zealand embargo has been partially lifted in each year since 1933, in favour of fruit from areas certified to be free from fruit fly, it has proved a serious handicap, particularly to New South Wales growers, in the marketing of their crops. These growers have been unable to ship any fruit to New Zealand for six years, with the exception of small quantities from the Murrain bidgee irrigation area, where there is no fruit fly. They must, therefore, look to the local market, and to export markets other than New Zealand, to absorb their fruits.
When the crop is at the peak, the local market cannot absorb the whole of it, so that growers are forced at this time to export, to sell locally at reduced prices, or to allow the fruit to go. to waste. This applies especially to fruit from the northern districts of New South Wales, where it is liable to develop, black spot if left on the trees, andmust, therefore, be marketed as soon as it is ripe. The New Zealand market had proved a useful outlet for much of this fruit, and its availability assisted in maintaining a reasonable price on the Sydney market. The assistance rendered over the last few years lias enabled growers in these districts to secure an outlet for much of the fruit which they would otherwise have been forced to sacrifice or .to waste. The bounty has also assisted in establishing in the United Kingdom market, ‘South Australian oranges of a very high quality. The success so far achieved in placing these oranges in the United Kingdom, encourages the belief that a permanent market will be available there, even though only a limited quantity may be sent forward each year. Other exporters also have benefited from the assistance rendered by the Commonwealth Government in the past, but it has mainly been of value for the reasons mentioned.
Two years ago, when the industry was seeking the continuance of the bounty, its representatives were informed that, unless the industry did something to help itself through its own organization, the Government could not even consider any further claims for assistance. As the result, the industry formed the Australian Citrus Advisory Council in 1937. The objects of the council are, briefly, to investigate and to advise the Govern- ment upon matters relating to the production and . marketing of citrus fruits, with a view ito improving the status of the industry, and ensuring better marketing conditions for producers. The council has been hampered in its activities because of the uncertainty in the minds1 of growers regarding the future, and it has, therefore, recommended that, instead of dealing with the bounty question from year to year, the Government should approve a. bounty over the next three years at reducing rates. With a knowledge of what they are to expect over the next three years, and of the fact that the bounty will cease at the end of that period, the council and the industry can devote their attention to solving some of the problems which to-day militate against the satisfactory marketing of their fruit. *
The Australian Agricultural Council at its last meeting, passed a resolution in favour of the bounty on citrus .fruits exported being continued for a period of three years. In passing this resolution, the council had in mind the matters to which I have just referred. As a matter of fact, it- expressed the view that pay- ment of subsidies without evidence of improvement, or the likelihood of improvement, in the conditions of production and marketing surrounding the industry concerned, is wrong . in principle except in the case of major economic adversity. The citrus industry has given evidence of its desire to improve its production and marketing conditions, and is, therefore, in the opinion of the Government, entitled to some measure of assist ance over a definitely limited period, to permit of such improvement being achieved.
In past years the assistance to the citrus industry has not been very costly compared with the benefits obtained in the greater stability of markets. The figures for the various years are : -
It is anticipated that the crop for 1938 will be considerably heavier than for 1937, and that, even with the opening of the New Zealand market to greater supplies .of Australian citrus, there will be a larger export to other markets. The bounty for 1938 will probably cost £13,000, but there will be a progressive reduction in each year until 1940, after which it will cease.
From time to time in the discussion of bounties it has been suggested that the bounty does not always go to the person whom the Government desires to assist, namely, the grower. It is the definite intention of the Government that the present bounty shall go to the grower, and provision to ensure this has been included in the bill. The Department qf Commerce has been instructed to see that the grower receives this bounty. The only exception is in the case’ of approved co-operative organizations, which pool the fruit and pay the proceeds to their growermembers. Provided the Minister is satisfied that these organizations actually pay the proceeds to their growers, and that the growers desire the bounty to bc paid to them through their own co-operative organizations, he will approve of the bounty being paid to such organizations for subsequent distribution to growers.
I submit the bill for the favorable consideration of honorable members.
.- In supporting this bill I express my pleasure that the Government is proposing to continue this bounty for three years although at a diminishing rate each year. No doubt this is intended to serve as a notice to the citrus growers that at the end of that period the Government expects them to stand upon their own feet. This provision is wise, for bounties are intended to assist industries only in the initial stages of their development.
– Just like protection !
– I am sure that the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) would not like the protection at present accorded butter producers and bacon growers to be lifted; nor would he be pleased if New Zealand potatoes were admitted free to Australia; but I am not “ one-eyed “ in my advocacy of protection ; I believe that both primary and secondary industries should bc protected. I regret, however, that the Country party is “ one-eyed “ in this respect.
The citrus industry is of importance to the Commonwealth because it makes possible the settlement of relatively small areas. It is really one of the outcomes of our closer settlement policy. Numerous returned soldiers are settled on citrus groves in various parts of Australia. In 1916-17 we had 17,000 acres under citrus cultivation, and our production totalled 1,450,000 bushels of fruit. By 1935-36 tho area had increased to 41,000 acres and the production to 4,430,000 bushels. More than 50 per cent, of our citrus fruits is grown by returned soldiers. Un- fortunately, some returned men were settled on unsuitable land for which the Government paid too high a price, and we have also had to cope with a certain degree of over-production. Quite recently Mr. J. R. Crawford, the economist of the Rural Bank of New South “Wales, directed attention to another difficulty of the industry. According to a report in the Sydney Sim, of 27th June last, he said -
Thu change in the demand from common oranges and mandarins to. navels and valencias has hit badly the coastal and metropolitan growers.
Evidently, a remarkable alteration has occurred in the kind of citrus fruit demanded by the market. Sir Richard Linton, when Agent-General for Victoria in London, reported that South Australian navel oranges sold well on the British market. It is interesting to note that 10,000 acres of our citrus country is planted with navel orange trees, and 30,000 with other varieties. Steps should be taken to replace the unpopular varieties by the varieties demanded by purchasers overseas. The Acting Minister for Commerce ,(Mr. Archie Cameron) could, no doubt, through his department, do something to stimulate a movement in this direction.
– Production is a subject over which the Commonwealth has no direct control.
– But it could undoubtedly, at periodical Premiers Conferences and meetings of the Australian Agricultural Council, direct, attention to the subject.
– I have conferred with the citrus growers’ organizations on the subject.
– I hope that the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) will also, direct attention to it at the next Premiers Conference. Probably something could be done through the instrumentality of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to deal with the problem.
The organized marketing of citrus fruits and the extension of the export trade would undoubtedly be of great value to the industry. Steps to achieve these ends would, in my opinion, be of more assistance to the industry, in the long run, than the provision of a limited amount of money for bounty payments. Unless steps are taken to deal with the root, causes of the troubles which surround the citrus growers at present, it will be found, in three years’ time, that they will again need to come cap in hand rn the Commonwealth Government for additional assistance. Temporary alleviation of the kind now proposed does not gi’t to the root of troubles in which the growers find themselves.
Under the Ottawa Agreement it was expected that the Australian citrus growers would obtain a larger share of the market in the United Kingdom, but actually our exports of citrus fruits to that market have decreased.
– But we are in a better position on the Canadian market.
– I am glad to hear that that is so. It is in that way that the industry will be permanently improved. Temporary patches upon it will be ineffective. The citrus growers of Spain and Palestine are the largest exporters to the United Kingdom market; but the growers of Brazil and the United States of America also enjoy a large share of the trade, while those of South Africa exported more than 1,000,000 cwt. of citrus fruits to Great Britain last year. The following table sets out the value and total imports ‘‘of citrus fruits to the United Kingdom and also Australia’s share of the trade: -
Those figures show that our exports of citrus fruits to. Great Britain could be substantially increased. Why is it that we are not obtaining a larger share of Britain’s trade?’ Undoubtedly the present, situation is most, unsatisfactory. Although the Commonwealth and State governments may be actuated by good motives in seeking to develop this industry, their activities are obviously ineffective.
In the press report of the remarks of Mr. J. R. Crawford on this industry, a passage from which I have already cited, it, is stated -
The loss of the New Zealand market as the result of the embargo applied by thu Dominion Government in 1932 was one of the main causes in the decline of the Australian citrus industry.
The speech just delivered by the Acting Minister for Commerce did not indicate clearly whether this embargo had been completely lifted. If not, I urge that negotiations be entered into with that, object. At a conference held in Canberra during 1935, and attended by pathologists and representatives of the Commonwealth and State governments, and also of the Government of New Zealand, it was unanimously decided that the interests of public health were no longer being served by the existing quarantine prohibitions. The present Labour Government of Now Zealand has, on several occasions, expressed the opinion that the continuation of any restrictions on the trade between Australia and New Zealand was not justified. We know that a good deal of the trouble originated in consequence” of the action of the Commonwealth Government in prohibiting the importation of New Zealand potatoes to Australia because of the fear of introducing the diseases known as corky scab and fire blight. No doubt this subject was discussed at some length by the Minister for Trade and Customs during his recent visit to New Zealand, and 1 hope that, a statement will be made at an early date to the effect that all the remaining difficulties have been overcome.
The embargo on the importation of Australian citrus fruits to New Zealand was imposed by the Dominion Government in 1932. I believe that that action was retaliatory, at least, to some extent, for the treatment accorded by the Commonwealth Government, to New Zealand potatoes”. The prohibition was modified in 1933 to permit a limited importation of South Australian oranges to New Zealand. In 1934 the Dominion Government again decided to allow oranges from South Australia to enter New Zealand in specified quantities and by certain vessels. I have been assured that a real demand exists in New Zealand for Australian oranges for which the consumers of that country are prepared to pay quite satisfactory prices. In view of Australia’s trade position with the sister dominion, everything possible should be done to encourage reciprocal action. The following table indicates the volume of our trade with New Zealand, including bullion and specie, for the period 1927-28 ro 1930-37 :- ‘
In these circumstances I trust that in the coming parliamentary recess the Acting Minister for Commerce .will do everything possible to improve the present position in regard to both Australian citrus fruits and New Zealand potatoes. Although the State governments control land settlement, and also the closer settlement programmes at. present on foot, the Commonwealth Government could undoubtedly do a great deal to obtain more satisfactory markets for our various primary products. Probably if the standard of living of the Australian people were substantially improved and their purchasing power increased they would be able to buy a much larger proportion of the Australian citrus crop, but [ shall not dilate further on that aspect of the subject at the moment. Citrus fruits are health-giving, but thousands of Australian families cannot purchase them because they have no margin over what is required to purchase the bare necessaries of life. Consequently, fruit on many orchards is left to rot on the ground. 1 believe that the Acting Minister for Commerce will take this matter up with enthusiasm during the recess, and I hope that he will be able to make a satisfactory report! to Parliament when it meets again.
.- I commend the bill to the House. The bill is proof that the Government realizes that, although part of the difficulties of the industry have been removed, those difficulties are still very considerable. [Quorum formed.]
Before I was interrupted by a futile attempt to count out the House - such attempts must be futile - J was referring to the fact that many difficulties still confront the citrus orchardists, and that, when all the circumstances of industry are considered, it must be apparent that it needs further assistance: .In my electorate there are rnor.0 citrus growers than there are in any other Commonwealth electorate, but none of them will share directly in the benefit from the partial lifting of the embargo’ against the importation of Austraiian ^citrus fruits into New Zealand, although they will receive indirect benefit. There is a certain reason, which there is no need to specify, why those growers cannot participate in that direct benefit. The partial lifting of the restrictions by the Government of New Zealand has resulted in a larger quantity of Australian citrus fruits going to New Zealand now than even went to that country before the embargo was imposed, but the fruit mainly comes from South Australia and a part of Victoria. I hope that in addition to this bill, which T am glad to note has the support of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde), there will be further scientific investigation of the citrus areas on the eastern coast, in order, .if possible, to enable the growers in those areas to export their fruit to New Zealand. The bounty offered under tin’s bill- is to be paid for three years on a sliding scale. The growers are pleased that it has not been restricted to one year. ‘ As the result of the payment of the bounty, a large quantity of citrus fruit will be exported overseas, and the result will be a diminution of the quantity of fruit that ‘will be sold on the local market, with a. consequent appreciation in the local prices. Therein will be the indirect benefit that some of my constituents will enjoy. New Zealand is anxious to have the disability which reacts against the lifting of the embargo against the importation of oranges from the eastern parts of Australia removed, and to that end it has sent several experts to the eastern Australian citrus-growing districts to investigate the matter. It cannot be gainsaid that at least in certain times of the year there is no danger of harm resulting to New Zealand from the import of oranges from those districts. When the Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby) was Assistant Minister for Commerce, his experience in the New South Wales Department of Agriculture
Stood him well in his efforts on behalf of the citrus industry of New South Wales to eliminate this trouble. I trust that the department will not allow the splendid work that he did to remain incomplete. New Zealand- is anxious to meet the growers of New South Wales, and I think that if further scientific investigation is undertaken the present difficulties can be surmounted.
I hope that the efforts that have been made to ensure that this bounty will be paid to the citrus growers will have the desired results. I understand that every precaution has been taken to ensure that the bounty will go into the pockets of the growers themselves. I commend to the citrus-growers the need for them to organize. I regret the disunity that exists among them. They should realize that they would have more hope of obtaining assistance from the Government if they presented a united front. ‘ It is essential that this, industry should be assisted. The wealth of the country comes from the soil and, although the citrus industry does not rank in importance with the wheat and wool industries, it does contribute substantially to the wealth as well as to the health of the nation.
.- Protection is the declared policy of Australia and, in that respect, there is no reason why the primary industries should not be on tho same footing as the secondary industries. The citrus industry is also entitled to consideration by reason of the fact that there is no justification for any section of industry to be called’ upon to carry the burden of national policy. Every ‘ honorable member will admit’ that the citrus industry was disorganized as the result of the embargo which was imposed by New Zealand in retaliation for the embargo which was placed on the importation into Australia of New Zealand potatoes. Ever since that action was taken, the producers who had been planting in anticipation of an extended market in New Zealand have been prejudiced by national policy. In these circumstances, there is an obligation on the part of the Commonwealth Government to try to compensate the growers. Secondary industries have protection, because their costs are higher than are the costs in competitive countries, and, on the ground that tariffs add to the growers’ costs, the citrus industry is entitled to assistance. The popular conception was that when the New Zealand embargo was lifted there would be no need for further assistance to the citrus-growers, but prices slump when there is a surplus of the fruit. Citrus fruits are perishable and cannot be held back from the market. The Government i3 justified in granting this assistance to enable the citrus industry to recover from the harm that occurred when ‘the New Zealand embargo was in full force. The bounty will be paid on a sliding scale, for three years. That is of benefit to the growers.
It must be recognized that, although the embargo in New Zealand has been removed from fruit which comes from fruit-fly-free areas, it is the declared policy of the Government of New Zealand to purchase the dominion’s citrus requirements through one organization, thus eliminating competition. I believe that the Government has taken the fact that the elimination of competition in New Zealand will result in reduced returns from that dominion into consideration in deciding to pay this bounty as a means of assisting the citrus-growers in exploiting and securing some competition: from markets in other parts of the world. I commend to the growers what was said by the Acting Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie Cameron) about their need to organize on a united basis. That is good advice. While the citrus-growers are divided,, their interests are prejudiced. I hope that the market for citrus fruits in the eastern countries will be extended. I impress upon the House, however, the fact that this bounty is to be -payable only in respect of fruit that is shipped abroad to places other than New Zealand; it is not a bounty on production, nor on all exports, and the amount is most moderate.
– Are refrigerating facilities now satisfactory for the export of fruit over long distances?
– They are reasonably satisfactory for fruit exported from Western Australia and South Australia, but the journey from ‘Sydney to England is rather too long, and the fruit does not usually arrive in the best condition. However, the taking of fruit off the Australian market tends to prevent a glut, and makes for better prices.
– I support the bill, and I offer the Acting Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie Cameron) my congratulations, not only on bringing down this bill, but also on interesting himself in all phases of the fruit-growing industry, and on taking the trouble to acquaint himself with the difficulties that confront the industry, difficulties which vary from State to State, and also in different parts of the one State. I believe that I speak accurately when I say that no other primary industry has suffered more in the last six or seven years than has the citrus fruit-growing industry. In common with all primary industries,’ it was, of course, the victim of the general depression, but it suffered more than most because oranges, grapefruit and other citrus fruits are unfortunately, and I believe wrongly, regarded as semi-luxuries. For that reason- they arc among the first to be cut out when bad times come, and purchasing power is reduced. Thus the industry associated with their production suffers more than those engaged in the production of basic necessities. The citrusgrowers have also suffered because of the increasing output of the industry. In the case of wheat, and other annual crops, production may be regulated from year to year, but that is not possible in the case of citrus fruit. The undoubted prosperity which the industry enjoyed before 1932 encouraged the growers in all States to plan ahead, and to go in for fairly heavy plantings of young trees. These are now coming into full bearing, and the industry is faced with the pro blem of finding a market for the increased production. This year, . it is estimated that the- production of oranges alone will exceed that of last year by 500,000 bushels. Finally, the industry ha3, if I may so describe it, been nailed to the cross of political expediency, both in this country and in New Zealand.
– Then the honorable member admits that the restriction of trade was not due to a desire to keep out , pests ?
– To some extent this matter of pests was not put in its true light. The estimated production of oranges for the year 1936-37 was 3,S56,889 bushels, while for 1937-3S the estimated production is 4,303,000. [Quorum formed.] I have here a table prepared by the officers of the Department of Commerce setting out the production of oranges for 1932-33, and the estimated production for each of the succeeding years up to 1937-3S. I ask leave to have the table incorporated in Hansard. [Leave -not granted.]
Trade relations between New Zealand and Australia have been in an unsatisfactory condition for the last five or six years. I do not wish to d well on the .cause ; suffice it to say that differences have existed, and the citrus fruit-growing industry has suffered very severely in consequence. Those trade difficulties were the original cause of the embargo imposed by the Government of New Zealand on the importation of citrus fruits from this country. Some time ago, the Government of New Zealand embarked upon a policy for supplying the needs of that dominion in regard to citrus fruits entirely from its own territories, and orchards were established in the Cook Islands and elsewhere. While those efforts were not wholly successful, it is a fact that considerably more citrus fruit is being produced in New Zealand and the islands under its control than was the case five or six years ago. The desire of the Government of New Zealand to protect this newly established industry was one of the reasons for the imposition of the embargo on the importation of Australian citrus fruits, but there were other reasons. However, the position to-day is vastly improved.
The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) asked, by way of interrjection, whether the restrictions on trade between New Zealand and Australia were really due to a desire to prevent the introduction of pests. We know that the excuse given both in New Zealand and Australia for the embargo was that New Zealand desired to protect itself against the introduction of the Mediterranean fruit-fly. To-day, however, New Zealand is prepared to admit citrus fruit without any restriction, except in regard to fruit grown in certain specified areas which cannot be guaranteed free from Mediterranean fruit-fly. Those areas are almost wholly within the the coastal districts of New South Wales represented by the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Gardner) and myself. Most of the citrus-growing areas of Australia are free to export fruit to New Zealand throughout the whole of the year without restriction, and that, to a great degree, has had the effect of improving the general position.
It is estimated that, during the present year, New Zealand will import from Australia 320,000 oases of 70 lb. each. For the three years prior to the imposition of the embargo by New Zealand, imports from Australia’ were as follows: -
Thus, the average importations over those three years amounted to 145,095 cases, and those were 60-lb. cases. Compare that with this year’s estimated importation of 320,000 cases of 70 lb. each, which are equal to 373,333 cases of 60 lb. each. This is more than two and a half times the average quantity imported for each of the three years immediately prior to the imposition of the embargo. That indicates the extent to which the trade position has improved in regard to citrus fruits, and it will be still further improved.
It is proposed in this bill to inaugurate a long-distance policy for helping the citrus fruit-growing industry by the granting of a bounty, not on fruit exported to New Zealand, which is a rela- tively lucrative market, but on fruit sent to the United Kingdom, Canada, the East and other places. The reason for this distinction is evident. It costs about 13s. a case to market fruit in Great Britain, where the market is much more precarious than in New Zealand and the wastage due to long distance transport much greater. Nevertheless, it is necessary to encourage exploitation of this and similar markets in order to relieve the local market of surplus production.
The Acting Minister for Commerce expressed the hope that, during the next three years, the industry would put its house in order, and in this I entirely agree with him. It will not be an easy thing to do. I have to admit, as did the honorable member for Robertson, that the domestic affairs of the industry are not in the happiest state. There is a- certain amount of disruption within the industry itself. Several distinct organizations of growers are in existence, and I suggest that, when the Government is negotiating with the representatives of the industry, it should see that it gets into’ touch with the representatives of all the organizations which justifiably claim to represent important sections of the industry. There is a Fruit Growers’ Federation, which represents all sections of fruit-growers generally, and there is, in addition, the Hawkesbury Citrus Association and the Citrus Growers’ Defence Association, which are especially representative of the citrus fruit-growers. I understand that, in recent negotiations between the Minister and the representatives of the industry, the last two organizations were ignored. I suggest that they be invited to send representatives to discuss their problems with the department.
In my opinion, the chief difficulty with which the citrus fruit-growers in New South Wales have to contend is the Mediterranean fruit-fly, which is extremely difficult to eradicate. I suggest that, as a preliminary, this problem should be brought under the notice of the Australian Agricultural Council. The average commercial fruit-grower is beset by a large number of pests, and although lie is capable of dealing with many of them, he cannot deal very adequately, particularly in the coastal areas of New South Wales, with the Mediterranean fruit fly for the simple reason that flanking the citrus-growing districts in the coastal areas is a multitude of back-yard orchards in the suburban aud outermetropolitan areas of Sydney. These back-yard orchards simply represent a multiplicity of septic pockets, in which are incubated 90 per cent, of the pestilent diseases that cause so much damage to the crops of fruit growers in the coastal areas.
– Does not the New South Wales Government compel everybody who has a fruit tree in his back yard to register it?
– Every commercial grower is required to pay a registration tax, but no registration is required of back-yard orchards.
– 1 have half a dozen fruit trees at my place at Cottesloe; I do not sell fruit, but I have to pay a registration fee for those trees.
– That is not the case in New South Wales. I suggest that the Australian Agricultural Council take up this very important question. The position is that the average commercial fruitgrower takes very great care of hia trees in order to keep pestilent diseases away from his orchard. He takes all proper precautions that are either laid down in the regulations, or advised by agricultural and horticultural inspectors. But the back-yard orchardist is in a totally different category. He does not grow fruit for profit; he is not concerned whether he gets a clean crop or a quality crop; and, unfortunately, his trees are not subjected to the regular and ruthless inspection of orchard inspectors. The result is that back-yard orchards, particularly in the metropolitan and outer suburban areas of Sydney, are riddled with disease and are the main breeding grounds for the Mediterranean fruit fly, which has caused the citrus growers of New South Wales and other parts of the Commonwealth the loss of hundreds of thousands of pounds in recent years. I urge the Government to submit this matter to the Australian Agricultural
Council at its next meeting, which, I understand, is to take place in August, ami endeavour . to formulate some scheme whereby this problem can be tackled in a much more effective way than it is at present. I say most emphatically that it is being neglected to-day. I have lived in a suburb of Sydney for the last six or seven years, and I know that the average back-yard orchard is inspected only once in about five years. Even that inspection is a very cursory one. It is impossible, in these circumstances, to expect that orchard diseases will be eradicated. I urge this course upon the Minister with a view to giving those men, who have worked hard and endeavoured to keep their fruit free from disease, a chance to rid their properties of the Mediterranean fruit fly, which, as I have said, has cost them hundreds of thousands, of pounds in the past, and will cost even more in the future. I support the hill, and I trust that it will have a speedy passage through the House. *[Quorum formed. *
– I congratulate the Acting. Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie Cameron) upon the introduction of this bill. Although the State which I represent in this House is not interested in the growing of citrus fruits, I know the value of the industry to this country. I cannot agree with the contention of the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Gardner) that the citrus-growers of Australia are placed in a difficult position because of the embargo placed upon the importation of potatoes from New Zealand. As a matter of fact, there has never been a complete embargo on the importation into that dominion of Australian citrus fruits. Restrictions are imposed only in respect of fruit grown in those areas which are not free from disease. The same conditions apply to the Australian embargo, on the importation of New Zealand potatoes. Australians are not a fruit-eating people, and as a means of solving the difficulties which beset fruit-growers generally every encouragement should therefore be given to the people to eat more fruit. The climatic conditions of Australia, and the composition of its soils, are favorable for the production of fruit of high quality, and, in my opinion, we produce fruit equal in quality to that grown anywhere in the world. I was unable to understand the statementmade by the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Nock) that New South Wales citrusgrowers were unable to ship their fruit to Great Britain.
– They found that a large quantity of the fruit was damaged before it arrived on the British market.
– While I was in England in 1935 I had an opportunity to sec New South Wales citrus fruits exhibited for sale in the borough markets. The lemons exhibited were of especially good quality and, judging by appearances alone, the oranges were equal to any exhibited for sale. That fruit was packed in New South Wales and shipped from Sydney, and commanded the highest prices. In 1928, the South African citrusgrowers were shipping a good deal of fruit to England, but much of it was of inferior quality. The South African Government offered inducements to the citrus-growers to produce varieties which were found to be. most popular in the markets of the Old Country, with the result that when I was in England 1 saw a Union Castle boat at Southhampton unloading over 50,000 bushels of South African oranges, which upon inspection proved to be as good as any produced in any other part of the world. I was informed that, as the result of the assistance granted to the citrus-growers by the Government of South Africa, the quality of the product had improved materially. I urge upon the Minister the desirability of instituting inquiries to ascertain the most favoured varieties in the export markets with a view to producing those varieties especially for export. In the opinion of the English buyers the Australian oranges have too many seeds in them; but no fault is found with the condition of the oranges on arrival on the English market.
The citrus industry is well worth fostering and I trust that every honorable member in this House will support this bill as representing an effort on the part of the Government to improve the conditions of the industry. Honorable members opposite too frequently blame Tasmania for the absence of markets for Australian citrus fruits, and only too often do we hear the statement repeated that the embargo placed upon the importation of New Zealand potatoes has had a disastrous effect on the citrus industrygenerally. As I have said on many occasions, the embargo on the importation of certain New Zealand potatoes had nothing whatever to do with the decision of the New Zealand Government to impose an embargo in respect of the importation of Australian citrus fruits grown in certain areas.
– Although there is no disease in Australian cherries, the New Zealand Government will not permit their importation.
– I can quite understand that if the cherries are grown in an area infested with fruit fly, but I am quite sure that no embargo is placed on the importation of cherries from disease-free areas. Tasmania had much the same experience as New South Wales in connexion with its attempts to eradicate orchard pests. As a preventive measure the Tasmanian Government passed a law which requires that all trees grown in back yards must be sprayed, and provides that those found to be infested with disease may be destroyed. . In Tasmania a householder must either keep his trees clean or lose them. I agree with the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) that a neglected orchard is a veritable nursery” for pests. Apparently, however, the New South Wales Government is afraid to bring in a law requiring all householders to keep their fruit trees clean, and because of that, the commercial fruit-growers are penalized. The Commonwealth Government has no power to deal with these matters except in relation to the Federal Capital Territory. They come within the province of the States, and unless the State governments bring down legislation designed to aid the fruit-growers in the eradication of insect pests, the fruit-growers will continue to suffer heavy losses.
.- I approve the main purpose of this bill. I congratulate the Acting Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie Cameron) upon having introduced a measure providing for assistance to be given for a period of three years. To that extent, this is an improvement on . previous measures. I also agree that it is fair to provide for a tapering off of the bounty over a period, at the expiration of which the industry may be expected to have reorganized itself and improved the quality of its product. I suggest, however, that the period hero fixed is too short to achieve any practical results in certain most important directions, and that the tapering off is too sharp to give either a sense of security, even for the period covered by the bounty, or the necessary encouragement to induce growers to incur the risk, trouble and expense of establishing a stable, self-supporting market.
– The period should be not less than five years.
– I agree with the honorable member; and the tapering down should be no sharper than at the rate of 3d. a case a year. Most of the trouble in this industry has been experienced in New South Wales, which has never exported considerable quantities of citrus fruits other than to New Zealand. Encouragement of this sort for three years will not be sufficient to induce any grower to make a change of the varieties grown. In the past, a consistent plan has been followed only in South Australia, and the results have been so uncertain and discouraging that it is unlikely that this bounty will lead to any considerable development or improvement of the existing, rather chaotic, and struggling condition of the industry. However, for the present year the bounty is on a ‘ satisfactory basis, and the provision in respect of subsequent years can bc dealt with when the time arrives. I, therefore, do not press the Minister for any alteration of the schedule to the billIn committee, however, I propose to direct attention to the safeguards provided in respect of the growers, for whom the bounty is being provided. As the bill is drafted, some fruit may pass into the hands of dealers and be exported by them, the grower being unaware that he is entitled to the bounty. Some obligation should be placed upon the exporter to notify the grower of his intention to export, and thus enable the grower to apply for the bounty. I have much pleasure in supporting the bill. [Quorum formed.)
.- I join with other honorable members in congratulating the Government upon having introduced this measure, and the Acting Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie Cameron) on the able manner in which, so far, lie has handled it. I consider that he has made quite a good showing as a Minister in this House, and that he should be commended for the work he is doing.
I am not altogether enamored of bounties, but in the present instance a bounty is justified. In the first year it will be at the rate of 2s. a case, in the second year at the rate of ls. 6d. a case, and in the third year at the rate of ls. a case. Some of the finest oranges grown in the world are produced in the electorate of Boothby. Whilst I was in London as Agent-General for South Australia, many experimental shipments of oranges were made from that State, and I was pleased at the manner in which they were received on the London market; there was a great demand for them, and eventually a good trade was developed. Even when the embargo on the export to New Zealand was imposed, oranges from Renmark and the Torrens Valley were admitted into that dominion. The bill is drafted on right lines, and I hope that it will have a speedy passage.
Certain remarks have been made in regard to the period of the bounty. I should have liked it to be five years, but I am prepared to support the three-year period in the hope that it will prove of benefit to-: this particular industry.
.-I support the bill, and am, indeed, gratified that the Acting Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie Cameron) has seen fit to assist the growers of citrus fruits in such a material fashion. The greatest measure of my approval is given to the encouragement of primary producers to be members of a co-operative organization. I am conscious of the fact that, under the prevailing economic conditions, those engaged in different callings must, if they are to obtain, justice, belong to an organization. The advantages of co-operation n.re greater in the case of primary producers than in the case of any other class in tlie community. It goes against my grain to congratulate a government to which I am politically opposed, but I believe in giving credit where it is due, and on this occasion, at least, every member of this Parliament can support the Government in the measure it has introduced. If the citrus-growers of Australia are entitled to a bounty, by the same rule so also are the wheat-growers, the woolgrowers, and the exporters of every other form of primary production. I hope that, after this exhibition of political wisdom, the Ministry will introduce in the ensuing session measures of a like character in relation to wheat, butter, wool and other exportable primary products. I have always been a supporter of the policy of protection, but only because I prefer to be robbed by the local rather than by the overseas manufacturer. If I support a protectionist policy in respect of secondary industries, I must also support the protection of primary industries.
I commend the bill to honorable members, and hope that it will pass. I take particular pleasure in commending the Government, for having endorsed the principle that no grower shall be eligible for the bounty unless he is a member of a co-operative organization.
– in reply - The States have complete control of production, and the Commonwealth , is not able, by any force of its own, to compel adherence to the planting of certain varieties. The matter of the Mediterranean fruit, fly, raised by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson), was discussed at the last meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council, and arrangements w-ere then made for efforts to be initiated to eradicate that pest.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) has referred to the New Zealand market. I was particularly struck with some of his remarks in regard to the potato market, and assure him that I shall keep them in mind. It seems that be and T are getting on to common ground. Qnorwm formed.’] The Com monwealth Government has no power to control local marketing although it would like to see improved methods adopted. Reference was made in the course of the debate to markets in the East. I regret to say that within the last few days information has reached us from Ceylon that fruit fly dangers have been discovered there. This is additional evidence of the need for the drastic control of orchards. Although I appreciate the complimentary remarks of some honorable members in connexion with the introduction of this bill, I remind them that I am merely the instrument chosen by the Government to implement this part of its policy.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 5 agreed to. [Quorum formed.]
Clause 6 (Payee of bounty).
– I understand that this clause is designed to ensure that bounty payments shall be made direct to the growers. The Labour party has always been insistent upon that course being adopted. It is totally opposed to bounty payments being made to intermediaries of any description. . The corresponding provision -of certain other bounty bills has not been satisfactory in this regard, for we know that at times agents have arranged for bounty payments to be made to them to meet certain alleged contingencies which they have asserted have arisen in connexion with the growers’ .business relations, or even in connexion with liens on properties. The Labour party does not believe that any bounty payments should be made except to the growers of the fruit. It is not our responsibility to provide money from the Consolidated Revenue merely to improve the financial position of agents and intermediaries. Our purpose should be to assist the grower of the fruit, and we should ensure that any payments made under this or any other bounty measure are actually used for that purpose. Sub-clause 2 of the clause reads -
Where the grower of the citrus fruits exports the citrus fruits through an agent the bounty may be paid to the agent who shall bc liable to pay the amount thereof as a debt due from him to the grower.
I do not know why that roundabout method should be adopted to express the intention of the Government.Why should the agent be mentioned? In any case, an agent may become bankrupt. In such an event what redress would the grower have in respect of the amount of bounty due to him from the agent? “I ask the Minister to give me an unequivocal assurance that this bounty will definitely find its way into the hands of the grower.
– I assurethe honorable member that this clause, in conjunction with clause 7, which obliges exporters to furnish returns in relation to citrus fruits exported by them, absolutely safeguards the position of the growers. [Quorum formed.] Some growers prefer to act through agents as they do not live near capital cities where facilities are available to handle their fruit easily. The Government also has power under this measure to make regulations which will still further strengthen the position of the growers.
– What would happen if litigation became necessary
– I understand that the contest would be between the Minister and the agent, for the agent, cannot export citrus fruit without a licence. The regulation-making power under this measure is a handy lever by which to enforce compliance with its provisions. The honorable member may rest assured that these bounty payments will actually reach the growers.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 (Returns by exporters).
.- Will the Acting Minister for Commerce (Mr.Archie Cameron) assure me that adequate provision has been made to oblige persons who purchase citrus fruit from growers and afterwards export it to inform the growers concerned that the fruit has been exported, so that they may apply for the bounty? Unless I am given an absolute assurance on that point I shall move an amendment to compel exporters to notify growers that fruit purchased from them is intended for export.
– I give the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker) a definite assurance that every grower who does not apply for a bounty in respect of fruitsold by him and subsequently exported will be advised to make an application for it. I also undertake that no bounty will be paid to an exporter except on the written authority of the grower.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses8 to 12 agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Assent to the following bills reported : - .
Science anil Industry Research Appropriation Bill1938.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Appropriation Bill 1938.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment or requests : -
Supply Bill (No. 1) 1938-39.
New Guinea Loan Guarantee Bill 1938.
National Health and Pensions Insurance (Employers’ Contributions) Bill 1938.
National Health and Pensions Insurance (Employees’ Contributions) Bill 1938.
Debate resumed from the 28th June (vide page 2731) on motion by Mr. Casey -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- I take this opportunity to raise a question in connexion with the administration of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I have asked questions in the last fortnight or so about the refusal of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to broadcast the address of the Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane, Dr. Wand, from St. Barnabas’ Church, Ithaca, at 7 o’clock in the morning, and the replies that I have received are not satisfactory. It is no wonder that the public objects to commissions and boards created by Parliament which become autocratic and egotistical in the extreme and develop an exaggerated opinion of their own importance and a disregard for the general public. The position into which the Australian Broadcasting Commission is drifting is one that calls for investigation and reorganization of the commission itself and of its activities.
I was amazed recently to read in the press of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s refusal to provide facilities for Archbishop Wand, of Brisbane, to broadcast from St. Barnabas’ Church, Ithaca, on the occasion of the church’s jubilee. The press paragraph sets out the reason as one of cost. The Prime Minister, in reply to a question, said that the General Manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission had advised that the granting of the request would entail a special opening of the station at 7 o’clock on Sunday morning, whereas the normal broadcasting hours were from 6.30 a.m. to 11.30 p.m. on week days, and from 8 a.m. to 10.30 p.m. on Sundays, and that the commission considered that the present hour of opening on Sundays, viz. 8 a.m., was a reasonable one. I am not satisfied with that reply. Archbishop Wand and the church authorities in Brisbane in particular and in Queensland generally are also dissatisfied. It was pointed out that the refusal was in accordance with an agreement with the Postmaster-General’s Department not to broadcast church services except at 11 a.m. and 7.30 p.m. This, in my opinion, is absurd, for three reasons :
I would also add to the refusal of the broadcast by Archbishop Wand last Sunday week, the refusal to broadcast the Premier of Queensland last August at S a.m. from St. Barnabas’ Church, when lie gave an address to the communicants. Mr. Forgan Smith’s address was distinctly non-party and if it had been allowed to be broadcast from the national station his hearers would have derived benefit from it. When the commission refused to broadcast the address one of the commercial stations filled the gap. The Australian Broadcasting Commission has also refused to broadcast the Anglican Annual Communion Breakfast of that church, at which Mr. E. A. Cooper, the State Treasurer of Queensland, is to give the address. Although that address will be non-political the commission refuses to broadcast either the service or the address at the breakfast.
The lesson from all this is that Parliament has delegated its powers to a commission from whose decision there apparently is no appeal. This is surely a negation of democracy. The power of the commission savours of dictatorship which overrides democracy, and if I were the head of a government it would not be tolerated ‘ for five minutes. Ministers when approached individually say that they are in sympathy with those who protest against the unreasonable attitude adopted by the commission, but when they are asked to do something they say that they cannot intervene.
I wish, to emphasize that the Golden Jubilee of the St. Barnabas’ Church in Queensland was regarded as of sufficient importance that the press gave much space to it before and after the event, and yet the Australian Broadcasting Commission would not broadcast at that function the speech of a very eminent Anglican Archbishop, who has shown on more than one occasion that he is a broad, tolerant man with very high Australian ideals.
I ask the Minister to bring my complaint before the Cabinet meeting on Monday with a view to having the policy of the Australian Broadcasting Commission reviewed and to have permission granted for the broadcast of the services and addresses at the annual communal breakfast at St. Barnabas’ Church in the near future at which the Treasurer of Queensland is to deliver a non-political address.
– The Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Perkins) promised to try to get for me a report on the extraordinary censorship by the Australian Broadcasting Commission of Judge Foster’s proposed lecture on encroachments upon personal liberty in Australia. Judge Foster accepted an invitation by the commission to speak from an “A” class station on the subject of personal liberty, but, when some members of the commission objected to certain parts of his address, and it was censored, he decided not to speak. Judge Foster, whose proposed address I have read, carefully avoided any interference with or any statement that might be construed as hurting the religious susceptibilities of any section of the community. The people of Victoria, who, possibly, know Judge Foster better than do people in other parts of the country, although he is well known throughout the Common-‘ wealth, were ‘so disgusted at the attitude of the commission that I, along with other honorable members, was asked to raise the matter on the floor of the House. Ministers may be surprised to know that honorable members do not like bringing matters before Parliament; they would rather settle them privately with the Ministers, because that is a better way of having things done. The Minister repre- senting the Postmaster-General, however, is in a difficult position, because, when the Parliament is in recess, there is no need for him to represent the PostmasterGeneral, and he does not do so. I do not blame the Minister in this matter. The people of Victoria demand a final answer from the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and I- should be pleased if the Minister would approach the commission with a view to obtaining a report for submission to Parliament. I cannot understand the attitude of the commission because the Australian people, as a whole, possess a broad outlook on questions of religion. In the lecture which he submitted to the commission, Judge Foster referred to some figures of the past, and I am led to believe that some of the members of the commission thought that he should not be allowed to do so. The great body of public opinion in Victoria, and I think in the rest of Australia, is that there was nothing in Judge Foster’s lecture that warranted the drastic blue pencilling which it received from the commission’, and which led to the cancellation of the address. The bigoted attitude which the commission adopted in this matter is itself an encroachment upon the liberty of the people.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 7.30 p.m.
– I rise to discuss a matter regarding which I have been in correspondence with the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) for some time. It was also the subject of a recent interview between us. It concerns certain grants made available by the Commonwealth Government to the various State governments for the purpose of encouraging metalliferous mining, largely for the purpose of providing work for the unemployed. In December, 1934, at the invitation of the ‘Commonwealth Government, Ministers for Mines in the various State governments were called into conference at Melbourne to discuss this matter, and at that conference the ‘Commonwealth Government agreed -to make assistance available. It was actually decided to make the gi’ant available for only one year, but it was subsequently agreed that payments should be continued for a period of three years. It was expected that the scheme would be put into operation immediately, but delays occurred, and it was not until February, 1935, that the first money was made available. By July, 1935, the scheme was fairly launched. Queensland submitted a definite proposition, and because it presented a good case, it succeeded in obtaining tho largest share of the grant. In 1935- 36, the first year in which the scheme was in operation, the Commonwealth Government contributed £70,000. This sum, together with the £10,000 made available by the State Government, was expended during the fifteen months which followed the inauguration of the scheme, and the result was a marked revival of metalliferous mining iu the back country of Cairns, Chillagoe and Charters Towers. At the request of the Commonwealth Government, in 1935, representatives of various States again attended a conference for the purpose of reviewing the progress of the scheme, and at that conference strong representations were made ‘to the Minister in Charge of Development for the continuance of the Commonwealth grant for at least three years, as originally intended. The Commonwealth subsequently advised the States that it had approved of the continuance of assistance, but on a reduced scale. In the succeeding financial years, 1936- 37 and 1937-38, Queensland received from the Commonwealth Government £35,600 and £24,900 respectively. Queensland has always observed strictly the requirements laid down by the Commonwealth Government for the expenditure of the grant, which was made available to the States solely for the purpose of bringing about a revival in metalliferous mining and a consequent decrease of unemployment. If the Queensland Government has desired to give assistance in any particular direction; it has always asked the Commonwealth Government to state whether or not such assistance would be within the terms of the grant. The conditions laid down by the conference have also been observed. The importance of such a scheme, having as its object the rejuvenation of a valuable industry, such as metalliferous mining, can be readily appreciated. Many years ago, thousands of miners were engaged in all forms of metalliferous mining, particularly in the back country around Chillagoe. This particular portion of Queensland has in latter years, however,
Mr. .Riordan. become more or less deserted. The ‘Commonwealth grant has assisted men to recommence prospecting in these areas which, from the point of view of metalliferous mining, are as rich as any in the world. To-day, the town of Chartors - Towers is languishing, yet towards the end of the last century it was a prosperous mining centre of considerable importance. It still has a population of approximately 10,000, however, and in recent years the number of unemployed has reached 700. As the result of the Commonwealth Government’s assistance to the mining industry, many of these unfortunate people have been able to undertake gold prospecting activities again. Some of them have been very successful. It is not necessary for me to mention their, names, but, if required, details can be obtained from the government authorities. In the interests of these people, I appeal to the Treasurer for a continuance of Commonwealth assistance to the metalliferous mining industry in Queensland. Should the scheme be abandoned, a severe blow will be dealt at out-back communities, particularly in Charters Towers. Not only are the miners’ organizations vitally interested in the continuation of this grant, but grave concern is being evinced by shire councils and chambers of commerce. These bodies have requested me to do what I can to urge the Treasurer to extend the Commonwealth assistance for at least two years, even though it be on a sliding scale. It is feared that mining activities will be seriously restricted should the grant cease. The Queensland Government at present holds a substantial unexpended balance in a trust account. That surplus is there chiefly because it was learned some months ago that the Commonwealth Government intended to withdraw its assistance as from midnight to-night, and expenditure was consequently restricted. The sum at present held in trust, however, would last for no more than three months. I again appeal to the Treasurer to give serious consideration to the urgent requests for the continuation of a grant that means much to a portion of Australia which, in the past, has been, neglected and has not received Ae treatment to which it has been entitled. Should the grant be continued, even on a sliding scale, it would do much to give many out-back localities some semblance of population. In the past the State Government has made money available to prospectors who applied for “prospectors’ assistance” namely, £2 a week for married men and £1 a week for single men. Assistance was also granted in other directions. In these northern areas, there are mines that have been neglected for many years and have, consequently, become filled with water. Assistance was given by the State Government for the purchase of the necessary machinery to pump the water from the mines, but as soon as mining was resumed the money borrowed had to be repaid. It is largely as the result of these repayments that the trust fund account has been built up. It has been possible for the State Government, with the assistance of the mining grant, to undertake metallurgical investigations which have proved of great value to the mining industry in the north. Assay officers have been established throughout the mining districts and many metallurgists have been employed in assaying the numerous samples, submitted by prospectors. If the grant is withdrawn many of these men will be thrown out of employment. The Queensland Government is doing, and will continue to do, everything possible to keep men in employment, and the provision of this grant has enabled it to assist thousands of miners in the sparsely populated areas of northern Queensland. Many thousands of pounds were made available out of the grant from the development of the Portland Roads mine, one of the finest mines in northern Queensland. By the provision of these funds it was possible to construct a jetty and also a road from Portland Roads across the Iron Range to the ‘ Batavia gold-fields. These iron mines are reputed to be 67 per cent, propositions, and their development will benefit the areas in which they are situated. I have given these particulars as to how the grant has been spent, not because I think the Queenslaud Government may be accused of having squandered it - to use a colloquial expression, “ It is pretty tight with- its hand-out,” because it realizes the value of the grant when utilized in association with a policy directed towards securing the greatest benefit from every pound spent. This grant has enabled ‘ the’ mining industry in northern Queensland to be lifted out of the doldrums. I shudder to think what will happen in the mining districts of the north if it be discontinued. I therefore appeal to the Treasurer to continue it for at least two years, even if on a diminishing scale. We all know that from a defence viewpoint the settlement of the empty spaces of the north is very desirable; the mining grant has enabled the Queensland Government to keep a large number of men employed in profitable occupation in outback districts. The Commonwealth Government, in association with the Governments of Queensland and Western Australia, is conducting a geophysical survey of the northern portions of Australia, which” should be of great assistance to the mining industry of Queensland and give impetus to the work of prospectors. The Treasurer is well aware of the need for the continuance of the grant because of the large amount of correspondence which has been addressed to him in regard to it. The Government recently announced that it has entered into an agreement with the British Government to finance a migration scheme for the settlement of migrants in this country, on a fifty-fifty basis, but at the same time it proposes to withdraw this measure of assistance to the Queensland Government which has utilized it for the purpose of keeping in employment good Australians of the best type in , the outlying districts of the north. As the result of assistance granted to prospectors in the Charters Towers district, a new field was recently discovered which shows signs of profitable development. It is to assist those prospectors, who are prepared to leave the civilized centres on our eastern coasts and go into the outback in search of gold and other metals, that I make this plea to the Treasurer to-night. It has been said that this grant is to be discontinued because the money is needed for defence purposes. In my opinion, this grant might well be continued in the cause of defence, because it will help to keep in outback areas men of the hardy pioneering type who would be our best defenders in case of need.
-I avail myself of this opportunity to firing before the House a very serious complaint in connexion with the issuing of licences to B class broadcasting stations in Tasmania. A little over two years ago, a gentleman came to my place and informed me that he had made application for the issue of a B class broadcasting licence at Hobart. I communicated with the Postmaster-General, and received a reply to the effect that, as several other applications had already been received for the issue of B class licences, no further applications could be considered. Since then, however, several B class licences have been granted. A few weeks ago, I asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General (Mr. Perkins) if the whole of the correspondence in connexion with these applications would be laid on the table of the Library. My request was refused, for what reason I do not know. Why should this “ hush-hush “ policy be adopted with regard to this matter? I also applied for a B class licence on behalf of the Trades Hall, Hobart; that application was also refused. The Premier of Hobart and the Minister for Agriculture, both reputable men, have made applications for B class licences, but have met with no better success. The newspapers and prominent business people in Tasmania have a virtual monopoly of commercial broadcasting in that State, with the result that Labour men are unable to place their views before the public through the medium of broadcasting. In this respect, Tasmanians have been more badly treated than the people of any other State. I have been unable to ascertain why the Postmaster-General refused to table the correspondence in connexion with the issue of these licences. I doubt very much now whether any applications preceded that sponsored by me two years ago. One is forced to ask what influence is brought to bear in connexion with the issuing of these licences. It is time a public inquiry was instituted into this matter to ascertain why it is that a monopoly is granted to a few people to control commercial broadcasting in Tasmania.
I support the remarks of the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) in regard to the need for the continuance of the mining grant to assist in the development of the northern parts of Queensland. In my opinion,the Government would do well to reconsider its decision in this respect. On the south-west coast of Tasmania there are many miles of very rough country which has never been prospected. Recently tin has been discovered there, and the country also carries osmiridium, gold, and other minerals.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).Order! I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to those matters for which money is provided under these estimates for which approval is now sought.
– Is not mining included in them?
– I cannot see any reference to it.
– The matters dealt with by these estimates have been financed out of the vote “ Advance to the Treasurer “.
– These are estimates for the different departments. If I am not allowed to deal with mining-
– The honorable member is allowed to deal with it.
– Order ! The honorable member for Griffith is distinctly out of order. I hope that he will not oblige me to take action.
– I appeal to the Government to assist in the development of the forests of Tasmania. That State has vast areas which cannot be put to any other use, but yet are superior to all other parts of the world for the growing of forests. Two large firms have begun the manufacture of paper, one in the north, and one in the south. In order to maintain supplies for that industry, the forests of the State will have to be preserved. The practice has been to allow selectors to hew out 200 acres and perhaps destroy 88,000 acres of forest country in the process. The State Government has not the necessary funds to devote to the preservation of these forests.. Recently all the State governments received a pittance from the Commonwealth Government for this purpose, and it has been of considerable benefit. Timber supplies are becoming short throughout the world. Countries which formerly permitted the denudation of their forest areas have now altered then policy on account of soil erosion. We must learn the lesson taught by those countries, especially the United States of America, where there are now millions of acres which will never again be of any value because of the destruction of forests. If we permit our forests to be destroyed we shall have a barren country in another 100yearsorless.CertainPartsofTasmania have a wonderful rainfall, but” the country is suitable only for the growing of timber. It is necessary to prevent bush fires, cut out all waste timbers, and thus maintain a healthy forest. But to do that, money is needed. We know that the financial resources of the States are limited, because all the profitable avenues for the collection of revenue are exploited by the Commonwealth. Therefore, the Commonwealth should provide the necessary funds to enable the States to undertake these works.
It is time that the departmental report on non-official post offices was tabled in this House, and assistance was given to the officers in charge of that branch of the Postal Department’s operations. In my electorate, in which the population is scattered, some postal officers receive only 10s. or 12s. a week, and have to remain in the offices for long periods. A minimum rate for non-official postmasters and postmistresses has been sought. The lowest rate paid should be not less than £1 a week. I understand that the Government has received a report from the committee which inquired into this matter.
– Order! I remind honorable members that the discussion must be confined to those matters for which money is provided in the schedule to the bill.
– On a point of order, for my guidance and that of other honorable gentlemen, is it not the practice, before Supply can be granted to His Majesty, that there shall be a rectification of all grievances which may be entertained by honorable members regarding public administration? If that be so,should not honorable members have the widest scope in the discussion of public matters?
– This is not a Supply bill. These are Supplementary Estimates, which provide certain sums for specific purposes. The rule to which the honorable member refers could not be applied to a bill of this nature.
-Am I permitted to ask the Treasurer -
– Order ! When the honorable member is given the call he may ask a question ; he may not do so at present.
Mr.FROST. - One matter that I wish to bring forward is covered by these Supplementary Estimates; it has relation to defence. I notice that very little money is to be appropriated for the defence of Tasmania, which is one of the vital portions of the Commonwealth. If an enemy were to attack Australia to-morrow, it would first pay attention to Hobart, not because Hobart is of more value than any other part of the Commonwealth, but by reason of the fact that there is established in that city an industry which is the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere.
– Order ! The honorable member is not paying any regard to my ruling. He is clearly out of order in referring to certain industries and arguing that Tasmania should be defended. Such a debate cannot take place on this bill.
– I draw attention to the state of the House.
Mr.Gardner. - Has the honorable member no originality?
– The honorable member should go outside and sober up.
– Order ! The honorable member for East Sydney is distinctly out of order and is deliberately offensive.
- Mr. Speaker
– Order ! The honorable member for Robertson will resume his seat. If the honorable member for East Sydney interjects again to-night, I shall immediately name him.
– Mr. Speaker-
– Order ! The honorable member must resume his seat, or I shall name him.
– The honorable member for Robertson was offensive to me. [Quorum formed.]
.- I do not know whether the proposed appropriation for the Department of the Treasury includes any amount in connexion with the Repatriation Department.
The time surely has arrived for the Government to give consideration to the removal of those provisions of the Premiers plan which affect the dependants of deceased returned soldiers. I have brought this matter to the notice of the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) previously. When framing the budget for the forthcoming financial year, these last emergency cuts should be removed.
– Order! The honorable member is not discussing the bill.
– I thank you for your indulgence, sir. I shall now deal with a matter which is embodied in the provisions of this bill. “ The time surely has arrived for an improvement of the services provided by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, particularly in new rising communities. In my district, there are two localities which have become substantial residential areas and yet are not afforded the requisite postal facilities. I feel that new localities are being definitely penalized by being deprived of services that they have a right to expect. During the financial depression, the expenditure of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department on new works and services was reduced almost . to extinction, and I regret that the rate of expenditure is still far below normal. The result is that many growing districts are being deprived of services, particularly letter deliveries, that should be provided. I refer, for example, to the localities known as Kilburn and Seaton Park.
– The honorable member may not discuss those details under this bill.
– I contend, sir, that as the bill provides for certain expenditure in works and services by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, my remarks are in order.
– The honorable member may discuss any item contained in the schedule to thebill; but he is seeking to tell the Treasurer how money ought to be spent. The honorable gentleman is confusing this measure with a Supply bill.
– I am anxious to conform toyour ruling, sir. I, therefore, simply ask the Treasurer to bring my remarks under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral with the object of urging him to grant the increased services that I am requesting.
. The House is entitled to more information regarding the expenditure provided for in the schedule to this bill than the Treasurer has so far seen fit to furnish. I ask for additional particulars in relation of Division 36 under the Department of the Interior. The lines are -
We are well aware that in consequence of the manner in which the General Estimates are frequently dealt with in this Parliament, works are often put in hand although Parliament has been given no detailed information in connexion therewith. Instances of this kind were brought under notice recently when the Loan Bill was being considered.
On page 27 of the bill, a supplementary expenditure of £250 is provided under the description, “ Honoraria to Members of Commonwealth Book Censorship Board “. This prompts mo to ask the Treasurer to make a statement respecting the results of the Government’s efforts to prohibit the importation of obscene literature. Have the States co-operated with the Commonwealth in this connexion? I congratulate the Government on its initiative in prohibiting the circulation of objectionable publications which have been imported freely into Australia during the past few years.
– The Acting Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Perkins) made this move on his own account.
– If that is so, I give him a double meed of praise. I have no desire to protest against the payment of adequate out-of-pocket expenses to persons who perform useful services for the Government, but I should like to know exactly how this amount of £250 was expended, seeing that it is apparently supplementary to an amount provided under the same heading in the General Estimates.
An amount of £142 is provided under the heading, “District Laboratory” in the proposed vote for the Department of
Health. As this expenditure has apparently been incurred in Tasmania and probably at a place not far distant from my home in Launceston, I ask the Treasurer to give an explanation of it.
My reason for making these inquiries is that I believe the time has come for honorable members of this House to scrutinize much more carefully the expenditure of the money voted to the Treasurer in a lump sum. Under a recent measure, £2,000,000 was provided for the Treasurer to expend according to his discretion. My experience as a member of this Parliament is causing me to feel that such expenditure should be examined most carefully to ensure that the public funds are devoted wholly to legitimate purposes. The practice of the Government in forcing Parliament to remain in recess for long periods and then to call upon members to work under a very heavy strain to the point of fatigue does not lend itself to a careful examination of the various measures submitted to us.
– The honorable member is not now discussing the bill.
– I have merely made those remarks in passing, Sir. I seriously request the Treasurer to furnishme with detailed information in connexion with the items to which I have specifically referred.
Under “ Miscellaneous Services “, controlled by the Prime Minister’s Department, an amount of £409 is allocated to the Commonwealth Grants Commission. This, I take it, entitles me to direct the attention of the Government to the manner in which certain recommendations of the Grants Commission in relation to Tasmania have been dis-. regarded. I do not criticize the commission itself on this account, but I ask the Treasurer to explain the Government’s attitude in connexion with the matter.
The item on page 38 of the bill, “ Secondary Industries Research - Motor Car and Aeroplane Engines, £1,000” also calls for some explanation. I should like some explanation of the appropriation of £100,000 for research by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research into the manufacture of motor car and aeroplane engines. I should also like some explanation of the item “ Contributions towards cost of maintenance by State of reception and farm training depots, £16,926 “.. That is an unusually large item for a supplementary appropriation bill. Has the money already been spent or is it to be spent? I ask the Treasurer also to explain section A of Division 130, “ Central office “, under the Postmaster-General’s Department. If the Minister is able to give a satisfactory explanation as to why all these unusually large items are appropriated in a supplementary bill I shall be relieved. [Quorum formed.]
.- There are several items in this bill which warrant the consideration of the House. I cite the meagre amount of £642 set aside for the relief of unemployment.. That is an indictment of the Government.
– This is merely an appropriation of money that was spent eighteen months ago.
– The amount is altogether inadequate. It could be spent in the Cook electorate in one day. There are thousands of unemployed in that electorate, and at Happy Valley people are being evicted from their homes. The Government should do something for them. It should appropriate a much bigger amount of money than £642.
The time has arrived when the Government should give consideration to the standardization of the railway gauges.
– The honorable member’s remarks must have relation to specific items in this bill.
– The provision of an automatic telephone exchange at Mascot has been a bone of contention for many years. Apparently, the Government has at last decided to convert the manual telephone exchange at Mascot to the automatic system.
– I hope that the honorable member is not deliberately discussing matters not covered by this bill. The Chair will not tolerate such behaviour.
– The time has arrived when naturalized British subjects should be entitled to an old-age pension.
– I shall have to ask the honorable member to resume his seat if he does not deal with the bill before the House.
– These are Supplementary Estimates.
– I draw attention to the amount of £13 paid- to Sir Isaac Isaacs on the occasion of his visit to Great Britain to present himself to His Majesty the King on his retirement from the office of Governor-General of the Commonwealth.
-I repeat that these are Supplementary Estimates. Sir Isaac Isaacs was not paid £13. Evidently, the honorable member does not understand what is before the Chair.
– The sum of £13 was allocated to Sir Isaac Isaacs.
– That is not so.
– Although only £13 was allocated to Sir Isaac Isaacs, the sum of £413 was paid in respect of the visit to Australia of the Right Honorable R. B. Bennett. Why was a much larger sum paid to enable a Canadian’ to visit Australia than for an Australian to visit England ?
– in reply - I point out–
– Mr. Speaker-
– I have called on the Treasurer (Mr. Casey).
Mr.Beasley. - I rose, Mr. Speaker.
– I did not see the honorable gentleman rise until I had given the call to the Treasurer. If honorable members engage in conversation and lose their opportunity, they cannot blame the Chair.
– I shall take other action.
– I point out to the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Sheehan) that these are Supplementary Estimates in addition to the ordinary Estimates that have already been passed. The remarks of the honorable gentleman showed clearly that he was not aware of the nature of the document with which the House is dealing. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) spoke of the metalliferous mining grant. This matter has been considered by the Government on many occasions. The grant was made at the nadir of the depression in order to enable the States to help miners. A decision having been reached, the Government cannot reconsider this matter. The grant must end on the 30th June this year;
I shall bring under the notice of the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) the representations of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) and the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) regarding the Postal Department. The honorable member for Bass (Mr.” Barnard) spoke of an under-estimate by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. McEwen), butas the honorable member has not remained in the chamber to hear the explanations for which he asked, I can only repeat that these are Supplementary Estimates, not the Estimates proper. They are merely the amounts by which theordinary Estimates have been over-expended. The payment has been taken out of the Treasurer’s Advance. The whole of the money was fully expended in the year which ended twelve months ago to-day.
-Was the £642 advanced for the relief of distress among the unemployed in addition to the £1,000 ?
– It was additional to whatever amount was spent under that heading.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Question put -
That clause 1 be agreed to.
The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Prowse.)
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Motion by Mr. Casey put -
That progress be reported.
The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Prowse.)
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the House will, at a later hour this day, again resolve itself into the said committee.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon.g. J. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment or requests : -
Census and Statistics Bill 1938.
Empire Air Service (England to Australia) Bill 1938
Dairy Produce Export Control Bill 1938.
Meat Export Control Bill 1938.
Canned Fruits Export Control Bill 1938.
Canned Fruits Export Charges Bill 1938.
Dried Fruits Export Control Bill 1938.
Citrus Fruits Bounty Bill 1938.
Income Tax Collection Bill 1938.
Excise Tariff 1938.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) put -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr. Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
The House divided. (Mb. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) agreed to -
That leave of absence be given to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next sitting.
Price Cutting in the Cotton Trade - Public Servants: Military Service in the Event ofWar - Attendants in Federal Members’ Rooms - Appointment to Defence Department.
.- I move-
That the House do now adjourn.
I intimate to honorable members who have asked questions, or who may still have questions on the notice-paper, that replies will be sent to them as soon as they are prepared.’ The remaining business on the notice-paper is not of such an urgent character that it cannot wait until the House meets again.
– I take this opportunity to ventilate some matters which I consider of importance. I would not do so at this stage of the proceedings if another opportunity had been presented, because I have no wish to detain honorable members. The first matter relates to the failure of the Customs Department to deal adequately with the methods employed by a cotton combine, known as Coates Limited, in its endeavours to force an Australian firm of manufacturers’ agents, indentors and warehousemen out of business. It is interesting to follow the methods employed by the Coates combine to achieve its purpose. The Australian firm commenced trading in March, 1937, but the unscrupulous methods adopted by the combine to create a monopoly by selling certain lines below landed cost will eventually destroy its business. No one will deny the right of this firm to conduct a business in Australia such as that conducted by the Coates combine in other parts of the world, but no outside firm or combine should be permitted to use its influence and. its wealth to crush a competitor. Three different brands of cotton manufactured by the combine, known as “Hercules”, “New Century”, and “Martlet” were landed in Australia. Samples of all three were tested by the customs authorities in their Sydney laboratory, and the “ Martlet “ sample was found to be a better quality cotton than either of the other two brands. It is obvious that the combine set out to market, not an inferior grade of cotton, but an equally substantial cotton as its major line at a lower price, in its efforts to squeeze out its competitors. In a letter dated the 16th May, asking the Customs Department what had been done in regard to the matter, the Australian firm was informed that it had been referred to Canberra, and that appropriate action had been taken. Further inquiries revealed that it had been referred to Australia House, London, with instructions that the Coates combine should be interviewed in London with a view to having production costs produced. This matter, to some extent, touches upon the right of the department to examine costs of production in regard to articles imported into Australia. I understand that the required information was withheld by the combine. This indicates how the Ottawa Agreement operates in regard to these matters, when the Australian manufacturer is compelled to produce his costs of production, while his competitor, a wealthy overseas combine, is permitted to refuse to supply that information. The Collector of Customs then used his right under the act to assess a legitimate value on all importations of “Martlet” sewing cotton, and I am informed that duty is being levied on a price which is equivalent to the home price of “ Hercules “ cotton. Whether the manufacturers have increased the invoiced price of “Martlet “ or not, I am not in a position to say, but the fact is that the combine has not made any change in its selling prices, and it still continues to sell goods to the customers of the Australian firm at prices below landed cost. It has recently been stated that the same article is now being imported in colours as well as in black and white, and is sold at a ridiculous price. If this information is correct, it will be hopeless for the Australian firm to attempt to carry on. The Australian firm asked that this matter be ventilated in the appropriate quarter with a view to having action taken to prevent this worldwide combine from using methods in Australia, which have been effective in other countries to crush all competitors. It is not right that an Australian firm should be treated in this way, nor is it right that the power, wealth an’d influence of any combine should be permitted to override the powers of the Customs Department. It is the duty of this Parliament to take steps to see that no combine is permitted to continue these practices.
Yesterday, I asked the Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby) a question concerning instructions issued to departmental heads in the capital cities. It has been reported - I know that it has actually occurred - that certain selected members of staffs have been asked whether, in the event of war in which Australia is involved, they would be willing to offer themselves for defence work either at home or abroad. I asked further what steps had been taken by the Government to protect employees who felt that in answering unfavorably they might be subjected directly or indirectly to victimization. The reply I received read -
From the information given by the honorable member, it is not possible to give a direct reply, but if he will furnish further details inquiries will he made. Speaking generally, those specific instructions of the nature referred to have been issued by the department. District base commandants have certain responsibilities for the preparation of plans for an emergency which involves consideration of staffing requirements.
My question had no relation whatever to base commandants, but applied to the heads of Commonwealth departments. I do not know whether this action has been taken in Canberra, but I know that questions have been asked in Sydney. I should like to know who issued instructions to heads of Commonwealth departments to arrange interviews with selected members of the staffs, and if the Government did not issue these instructions, am I to understand from the reply given that the base commandants have power to do so without the knowledge of the Government? I cannot believe that that is the case, but if it is wc are entitled to know whether departmental heads or members of the military forces have such authority. If no such authority has been issued, the members’ of the public service concerned will appreciate an expression of opinion on the subject. They are entitled to know who issued the instructions, and if the answer to my question is correct and not evasive, I take it that no such instructions have been issued by the Government and that heads of departments have no authority to do what has been done.
– It may have been done by some of Eric Campbell’s mob.
– The heads of certain departments may be endeavouring to set up organizations or ascertain from members of their staffs whether they would be willing to do certain things, not only in regard to war, but perhaps in connexion with civil matters.
Another matter which I should like the Government to consider is the advisability of extending superannuation benefits to those officers who are performing very valuable work in the Federal Members’ rooms in the capital cities.
– I suppose that the honorable member includes typists?
– Yes. During the last Parliament, a measure was passed in which provision was made for the members of the High Commissioner’s staff in London, the officers of the Repatriation Department and those in several other departments to receive superannuation benefits. At that time honorable members expressed the opinion that no section of the public service should receive special treatment in this respect and that superannuation benefits should be available to all Government servants. If officers who come in close contact with Ministers are fortunate enough to get their ear and have the Superannuation Act applied to them, other officers should have a similar privilege. I trust that during this recess the Government will look into this matter to see if it is not practicable to extend superannuation benefits to the officers employed in the Federal Members’ rooms in the various States. Many of us are prone to forget the very valuable services which these officers render. They undertake foi us work of a personal nature, and in many respects carry out responsibilities the value of which it is difficult to assess. They attend to our correspondence when we are indisposed or engaged on other public duties. They have been of great assistance to ‘ honorable members who have visited other parts of the world. Generally speaking, their work is important, and particularly do we appreciate the tact which they display in answering our correspondence.
– The honorable member has exhausted his time.
.- The honorable member for “West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) has brought under the notice of the Government certain matters connected with my department. I do not know anything of the subject referred to by the honorable member, but I shall have full inquiries made and advise him of the result. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby) wishes me to state that he has already answered in part the question raised by the honorable member, but that further inquiries are proceeding, ‘ the result of which will be conveyed to the honorable member. Consideration will also be given to the matter of superannuation benefits mentioned by the honorable member.
.- 1 bring under the notice of the Government a matter of political patronage. On the 23rd June, I asked the Minister for Defence whether he could supply information concerning the appointment to a position in the Defence Department of a Mr. Tart, a son-in-law of the Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page). The Minister informed me that he had no information on the subject-
– I call attention to the state of the House.
There being no quorum present,
Mr. Speaker adjourned the House at 0.32 p.m. until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
y asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : -
From the information given by the honorable member, it is not possible to give a precise reply, but if he will furnish further details, inquiries will bo made. Speaking generally, no specific instructions of the nature referred to have been issued by the department. District Base Commandants have certain responsibilities for the preparation of plans for an emergency which involve consideration of staffing requirements.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– As indicated in my reply to the honorable member on the 18th May, 1938, this matter has been listed for discussion at a conference of Ministers for Transport at a date to be arranged as early as possible. Conferences of officers representing the Commonwealth and the transport departments of several of the States have been held to draw up the agenda to be discussed at the conference of Ministers.
t asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following information : -
Migration from Holland and Denmark.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : -
A cablegram has been received from the Minister for Commerce on the subject of the migration to Australia of people from Holland and Denmark. The information received from the Minister was general and preliminary, and consideration of the matter must await the receipt of definite proposals, which the governments of Hollandand Denmark are to submit. The Government has no intention of beginning schemes of assisted migration for migrants from countries other than the British Isles.
Inverell Rifle Range.
y. - On the 28th June, the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Scully) asked the following question, without notice : -
Will the Minister for Defence have funds made available immediately to the Inverell rifle range on account of the fact that, owing to the transfer of the site of the range,the Inverell Rifle Club is involved in considerable expense, and consequently requires immediate financial assistance, if possible, from the Defence Department?
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member as follows: -
The provision of funds for the construction of the Inverell rifle range will receive consideration early in the financial year 1938-39 when allocations are being made to the various military districts far construction and maintenance of rifle clubs ranges.
Naval Trainees at Port Melbourne,
– On the28th June, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Hollo way) asked the following question, without notice: -
Is the Minister for Defence aware that naval trainees at Port Melbourne, the principal naval depot of Victoria, arc compelled to do their exercises in the streets? If he is not aware of the situation, will he consult with the officers of his department and request them to make contact with the Port Melbourne Municipal Council to see whether a reserve ‘ cannot be made available for this purpose?
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member as follows: -
The naval drill hall at Port Melbourne is used to the utmost for drills and exercises. There is. however, no parade ground attached to this drill hall, andthe need for some such accommodation has been felt by the naval authorities, who made preliminary inquiries some months ago about a suitable site. The inquiries have not yet been completed, and the suggestion of thehonorable member will be given consideration.
Trade Mask Fees.
s. - On the 29th June, the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) asked a question relating to trade mark fees. I was then unable to answer the question in full, but the additional information has now been obtained, and is as follows : - 1.In what year in New Zealand, Australia, and Great Britain, respectively, didthe fees come into force with regard to (a) lodging of applications, (b) registration, and (c) renewal on the register? -
New Zealand - 1st July, 1922.
Australia - l6th August, 1929.
Great Britain - 31st March, 1920.
Whatwere the respective fees priorto these fees coining into force, and in what year, in each case, did the earlier fees come into force ? -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 June 1938, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1938/19380630_reps_15_156/>.