15th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral obtain information showing the manner in which the guarantee of £28 which is required as a condition precedent to the installation of a public telephone is calculated?
– I shall obtain the desired information.
Mr. L. L. HILL.
– Will the Minister for the Interior state whether Mr. L. L. Hill, an ex-Premier of South Australia, holds a Commonwealth appointment in the Australian Capital Territory? If so, what is the nature and the term of the appointment, and what salary and allowances does Mr. Hill receive?
– I understand that Mr. Hill holds an appointment in the Australian Capital Territory as chairman of the Industrial Board. I am not able to furnish the other information sought by the honorable member, but I shall obtain it and supply him with it as soon as possible.
– Some time ago I made representations for financial assistance to be given to pineapple growers, in view of the unfortunate economic condition of the industry. Is the Assistant Minister for Commerce yet in a position to say whether or not the Government has decided to grant this assistance, and if it has, what is likely to be provided?
– Since the honorable gentleman approached me, I have had further correspondence from the Queensland Government. The honorable member’s representations, as well as those of some other honorable members and of the Queensland Government, are now receiving the consideration of the Department of Commerce.
– Some time ago I made representations for the establishment of a naval base at Hobart. As a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers is to be held to-morrow with a view to devising means for strengthening weak links in the Empire defence chain, will the Minister for Defence place before that gathering a proposal for the establishment of a naval base on the River Derwent ?
– I assure the honorable member that his representations will be kept in mind.
Allowance to Residents in Government Hostels.
– Will the Acting Leader of the House state whether it is a fact that female members of the Commonwealth Public Service residing in government-controlled hostels in Canberra receive an allowance of 5s. a week, whereas others who are unable to obtain accommodation in such establishments and are thus obliged to reside in private establishments do not receive the additional amount? If this be the case, will the right honorable gentleman approach the Commonwealth Public Service Board and make arrangements with it for the payment of the allowance to all female members of the Commonwealth Public Service who have to reside in Canberra?
– I have no actual knowledge of the position in this regard, but I shall bring the honorable member’s question to the notice of the Public Service Board and learn the facts of the case.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral received a report from the special committee set up to deal with the matter of trade marks? If so, may we expect the early introduction of legislation on the subject ?
– I have not yet received a report from this committee, but expect to do so shortly. Legislation will be introduced as soon as possible after it is received.
– In view of the uncertainty that has been caused by reason of the protracted sittings of the Royal Commission on Doctors’ Remuneration and Medical Benefits under the national health and pensions insurance scheme, will the Treasurer state whether the Government can take steps to expedite the conclusion of the investigation, in view of the fact that the 1st January next is the date fixed for the scheme to become operative?
– I do not believe that the Government can properly take any steps to influence the royal commission in respect of the degree of attention it shall give to this important matter. I have communicated to the chairman of the commission the hope of the Government that its labours will be concluded as quickly as possible. Beyond that, I do not think that the Government can bring to bear any pressure. The commission must determine for itself the volume of workto be done, and the number of witnesses to be examined in order that it may arrive at proper conclusions. I join with the honorable member in hoping that its deliberations will be concluded as quickly as possible.
– Has the National Insurance Commission yet decided whether share farmers will be liable under national insurance to make contributions on account of members of their families who receive only pocket money and sustenance? Also has the commission decided whether farmers’ sons and daughters who do not work for a regular wage will be required to pay contributions?
– The question raised by the honorable gentleman is one of the difficult questions in respect of national insurance. I cannotgive the honorable gentleman a final and authoritative reply except to say that the mind of the commission is running on the lines of making the determining factor whether or not, the children of a farmer, whether he be a share farmer or an ordinary farmer, have a contract enforcible in a court of law. That is all that I can say at the moment, but I expect that a definite and formal interpretation will be made public shortly.
– In view of the very urgent necessity for approved societies to have some definite line as to whom they should enrol as members, particularly casual workers and others engaged in intermittent employment, can the Treasurer arrange for those responsible for the regulations under the National Health and Pensions Insurance Act to produce the regulations covering that particular aspect in advance of the other necessary regulations ?
– A pamphlet on insurability, which is the subject, I think, to which the honorable member particularly refers, is just now reaching completion. I hope that it will be made available to all of us and to the public within the next week or two.
– Is the Treasurer willing to discuss with representatives of the maritime unions, the question of the contributions of their members to the national insurance fund, particularly as it can be proved that the benefits they now receive from workers’ compensation and from the Navigation Act are in excess of any benefits they are ever likely to receive from the national insurance scheme? Will the honorable gentleman take some steps to discuss this matter with those bodies before a definite decision is arrived at regarding maritime workers ?
– The question of the treatment of seamen in respect of national insurance is under consideration at this moment. I would be quite willing to do what the honorable member suggests, but I think it would probably be more valuable if the chairman of the commission, who after all is much more familiar with the details of these matters, were to do so.
– Can the Treasurer state whether the question of the insurability of intermittent relief workers has yet been definitely decided upon or is it a matter that will be brought up at the Premiers Conference to be held to-morrow in order to determine whether the Commonwealth Government is to give the States a sum of money to cover the contributions, whether the States, as employers, are to be asked to pay the contributions of intermittent relief workers, or whether they are to be excluded altogether from the scheme?
– Considerable consideration has already been given to this problem, and it is probable that opportunity will be taken to-morrow or the next day to discuss it with the State Premiers.
Statement bymr. Forgan Smith.
– With reference to the statement of the Premier of Queensland that he had submitted important documents, affidavits, &c, to the Federal Government through the AttorneyGeneral in regard to the existence of a dummy company in Queensland, the purpose of which was to supply information to an eastern power regarding iron ore deposits, will the Attorney-General state whether the communication has been received, and, if so, whether it has been considered ?
– I am not able to make a statement at the present time.I understand from the Solicitor-General that some documents have arrived, and I hope to be able to make a statement later.
– Has any decision been reached in regard to the requestof the prune and currant growers for the introduction of a marketing scheme?
– In respect of both industries requests were made for bounties on last year’s exports, and in both cases the Government decided that there was no justification for the payment of a bounty this year.
Use of Hemlock Timber.
– Since the New
Zealand Government, in order to conserve its own supplies of butter box timber, placed an embargo in 1937 on the export of white pine from New Zealand, the Australian dairying industry has had great difficulty in obtaining supplies of suitable timber for the making of butter boxes. Immediately the embargo was imposed by the New Zealand Government, the Queensland timber merchants increased the price of Queensland hoop pine by almost 40 per cent. The Department of Commerce has, until now, refused to permit the use of timbers other than pine for fear that they might convey a taint to the butter. In reply to a question asked by me in this House last week, the Assistant Minister for Commerce stated that hemlock had proved relatively satisfactory for the making of butter boxes, subject to certain conditions. I now ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether he will investigate the statements I have made, and if they are correct, whether he will have hemlock admitted to Australia under by-law.
– by leave- The honorable member informed me yesterday that he proposed to ask this question, and I have prepared an answer to it. Under the Commerce (Export Dairy Produce) Regulations butter may be exported in boxes manufactured from -
The Secretary may permit the use of other timbers, subject to such conditions as he thinks fit. Owing to the difficulty of obtaining adequate supplies of New Zealand white pine, exporters have been using increased supplies of Queensland timber. Many exporters commenced experiments in a small way with imported timbers in the hope that such timbers would be eventually approved by the department. In March, 1937, the Producers Distributing Society and the Norco Co-operative Company, both of Sydney, arranged for a trial shipment of 10,000 boxes of butter packed in various ways in hemlock timber boxes. This was the largest experimental shipment made, and it was undertaken in order to arrive at a conclusive decision as to whether or not hemlock was suitable for the export of butter.
The result of this shipment appeared to remove all doubt as to the suitability of hemlock provided that -
There appeared to be a strong tendency on the part- of New SouthWales butter exporters to seek approval to ship in imported hemlock rather than in Queensland timbers, and the Queensland timber interests made representations for protection against imported timbers. On the 1st July, 1938, the matter was submitted to Cabinet with a recommendation that, as from the 1st June, 1939, hemlock be included in the list of timbers approved for use in the manufacture of butter boxes for export. Cabinet, however, decided that the matter regarding the supply of Queensland hoop pine be inquired into by the Tariff Board. The Tariff Board inquiry has been tentatively included in a programme of inquiries that is expected to commence on or about the 30th November, 1938. The inquiry will be held at Melbourne and Sydney. Pending receipt of the Tariff Board’s report no imported timber other than New Zealand white pine is being permitted for the manufacture of export butter boxes.
The terms of reference to the Tariff
Board are as follow : -
Assuming that adequate supplies are available for the purpose indicated, are they available -
This reference arises out of requests which have been made to the Department of Commerce by exporters of butter that Canadian hemlock timber be added to the listof approved timbers which may be used in the manufacture of boxes in which butter is packed for export.
-When may the House expect the introduction ofa measure dealing with mortgage banking as a department of the Commonwealth Bank?
– The whole question is being very carefully considered at the present time, and legislation will be brought down at the earliest possible moment.
– Some time ago, I asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether the Postal Department would give favorable consideration to a request for the installation of a. telephone service to Umbrella Flat. I now ask whether anything further has been done in the matter.
– The question was referred to the Postmaster-‘General, but I have not so far received any reply to it I shall make inquiries, and let the honorable member know.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs aware that influential motor chassis importing interests are prepared at any time, upon the least encouragement or pressure by the Government, to establish upon an economic scale the manufacture of motor car engines in Australia?
– If these interests are prepared to do as the honorable member suggests, they have the opportunity to place proposals before the Government before the end of March next, an invitation to do so having been issued by the Government. The announcement has been made that the Government will pay a bounty if manufacturing operations are commenced, and it is hoped that the interests concerned will now come forward.
– In view of the declaration of the Acting Leader, of the House yesterday that the Government aimed particularly at the expansion of primary and secondary industries in the interests of the defence of Australia, of employment and of immigration, will the Government reconsider its motor-car engine building policy, and return to its original policy of direct action in this matter?
– As I stated in my presentation of the repoTt of the delegation, an investigation of new secondary industries that can be established in Australia is to be held immediately with the idea of increasing our population as quickly as possible. I have not the slightest doubt that . the matter raised , by the honorable member will be one of the ‘first to be considered.
– I desire to address a question to the Minister for Defence, and, by way of explanation, remind him that last year the then Secretary to the Department of Defence gave evidence before the Tariff Board in very strong opposition to the establishment of an industry to build motor chassis, inclusive of engines, in this country. The gentleman also expressed the view that there were enough motor cars in this country to carry it through a war.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).Order! The honorable gentleman must not proceed in that way. He must ask his question.
– 1 ask the Minister if he, to-day, in the light of events since that evidence was given, can endorse those views?
– The Defence Department does not attach the importance to the manufacture of motor car chassis in Australia that the public may assume. The view is held that, in the event of an emergency, there are sufficient motor vehicles in Australia to meet the requirements of the Defence Department.
– What is the present position regarding the proposed consolidation of the patents law?
– I hope to be able to introduce a bill within the next few days.
– Can the Treasurer state whether the anticipated falling off of income from the Commonwealth Bank this year is due to a decline of the volume of trade, ot to the granting of accommodation at cheaper rates for the public, or to the imposition of further restrictions upon the bank’s activities?
– I replied in some detail to a question on the same lines asked by the Leader of the Opposition a few weeks ago. The Government does not anticipate that there will be any falling off of the profits of the bank.- What the honorable member refers to, I have no doubt, is the provision in the budget for a slightly smaller amount of those profits to be taken into general revenue. Regarding the other points raised by the honorable member, I refer him to the detailed reply I gave to his leader.
– I ask the Acting Leader of the House, whether, when he was in England recently, the negotiations which have been taking place for about the last four years between the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Australia concerning the strengthening of British merchant shipping in the Pacific to enable it to compete on a fairer basis with the Matson line of steamers, were renewed? If so, what final arrangements were made?
– An agreement was reached between the governments concerned and the various shipping companies; but when the question of having new vessels built was considered it was found that, owing to the armaments programme in Great Britain, the cost of building them would be so enormous that it would be advisable to wait until the pressure on the ship-building yards occasioned by the defence measures had been reduced.
– What were the terms of the agreement?
– The actual terms of the agreement have not yet been disclosed to the public, but it was a satisfactory agreement from the point of view of all of the governments.
– In view of the fact that the Acting Leader of the House announced yesterday that, at the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers to-morrow, the standardization of the Australian railway gauges would be discussed as part of the defence programme, will the right honorable gentleman direct a further investigation of the Boock break-of-gauge device? If he does so, and the results of the investigation are satisfactory, will he see that a sum oi money is made available for the construction of a section of actual railway line upon which the device in full scale could be tested in order to prove whether or not the claims made in respect of. the device can be sustained ?
– I have no doubt that the various railway authorities who will be present at the discussion will have full knowledge of the Boock breakofgauge device, and its chance of being discussed and considered will depend on their opinion of it.
– Inasmuch as it was intimated in the Governor-General’s Speech at the opening of this Parliament that a bill would be introduced for the adoption of certain clauses of the Statute of Westminster by this Parliament, I ask the Attorney-General whether he can state even an approximate date when that bill will be introduced?
– I am not able to state any approximate time, but I shall bring the matter, under the notice of the Government.
– Will consideration be given to the question of the introduction in Australia of a system similar to that which operates in the United States of’ America whereby alien immigrants’ will be required to take out naturalization papers within, say, twelve months of their arrival?
– The principal condition of naturalization of aliens in Australia is that applicants must have an adequate knowledge of the’ English language. I do not think that it would be practicable to adopt the honorable member’s suggestion without scrapping that condition, but I shall take the matter before the Cabinet and see that the honorable gentleman receives a further reply.
Tariff Board’s Inquiry
– Can the Minister for Trade and Customs advise me if the Tariff Board’s inquiry which is now being held in Adelaide is designed to reduce the protection on manufactured sulphur? Will the Minister take steps to see that the board’s investigation is complete by’ providing every facility for the workers and others who are vitally interested to give evidence? Will he see that the board visits the Cockle Creek locality where sulphur is manufactured, . and obtain its evidence on the spot instead of involving the workers in heavy expense by having to go to Adelaide?
– Any one may give evidence on oath before the Tariff Board which conducts open inquiries. Evidence has been taken in the inquiry referred to by the honorable member, but I have not yet received the board’s report. I shall place the representations made by the honorable gentleman in respect of the board visiting Cockle Creek before the board, which will then decide what it shall do.
– On the Srd October a protest was lodged by petition to the Postmaster-General’s Department which complained that during September the Brisbane City Council’s electric light wires from the Somerset dam main transmission line (30,000 volts) were carried through the town of Kilcoy, and wireless became seriously affected; but since the high voltage line has been tapped for lighting Kilcoy wireless reception has been out of the question. Those living near the line have been compelled to scrap their wireless sets, but no reply has been received. As these citizens pay licencefees, are they not entitled to reasonable reception? Will the Postmaster-General take early action to see that this nuisance is abated by the responsible parties? Will he consider the introduction of legislation, demanding a standard of installation that will not cause wireless interference ?
– I shall bring the matter under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral.
– I move -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday next, at 3 p.m.
The business to be dealt with on that day, and the succeeding days, will be the further consideration of the Apple and Pear Organization Bill, and of the budget, together with two or three small bills closely associated with the budget. The House will sit on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week, and on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of the following week.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– 1 ask the Acting Leader of the House whether, among the questions to be submitted to the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers to-morrow, with a view to the consolidation of Australia’s defence activities, the Government has included the making of provision for internal supplies of liquid fuel by the hydrogenation of coal? If that question is not listed, will the right honorable gentleman undertake to bring it before the conference?
– The honorable member’s suggestion will receive consideration.
_CUT-GLASS INDUSTRY .
– About a month ago the Minister for Trade and Customs assured me, in reply to a question, that in three or four days the Tariff Board report on the cut-glass industry would be tabled. I now wish to know whether, after consideration for another month, the honorable gentleman is in a position to say when the report will be tabled, and when operations will be resumed in the cut-glass industry. Perhaps he will also tell mc whether, in his reply to my previous question, he meant four days or 40 clays?
– I told the honorable member previously that the Government hoped to succeed in its efforts to bring about a resumption of operations in the cut-glass industry, so that the men now unemployed in consequence of the stoppage could be re-engaged. I added that considerable negotiations were necessary with a certain firm to achieve this result. I also informed the honorable member privately and I repeat the information now publicly, that, negotiations -were also necessary with certain countries. Unfortunately, the matters have not gone as smoothly as the Government had expected they would. It is still hoped, however, that work will be resumed in the industry shortly. The report cannot be tabled until the current negotiations are completed.
– Will the Acting Leader of the House inform me whether the Government has any objection to the publishing of a return showing the average cost of spare parts for motor vehicles in the United States of America, where wages are higher than in Australia, and of similar parts in Australia? I should also like to know whether he will make available a few citations from the speeches of the honorable member for Henty (Sir Henry Gullett), when he was in opposition, in which he referred to the grave danger of anything in the nature of a trade diversion policy for Australia.
– The honorable member’s suggestions will receive consideration.
– I noticed that when, a few minutes ago, the Acting Leader of the House was outlining the business to be submitted to Parliament within the next fortnight, he made no reference to the introduction of a measure promised by the Government to encourage the production of newsprint in Australia. Are we to assume that that measure is to be dropped, or did the right honorable gentleman merely overlook mentioning it?
– That bill is being drafted and will be presented to Parliament at the earliest possible date.
– I ask the Minister for Defence whether, in view of his very emphatic denial yesterday that he had made a statement to the Daily Telegraph newspaper to the effect that the unfortunate aviation accident at Windsor appeared, from information that he had received, to have been caused by some error of judgment or miscalculation by the pilot, he will take steps to give equal ‘publicity to his denial, as was given “to his original statement? I desire that this should be done in view of the fact that a coronial inquiry, and also a departmental inquiry will be made into the accident.
– All that I can do is to repeat the statement I made yesterday in the House. I do not know of any way in which I can give wider publicity to my denial that I made any such statement than by saying so on the floor of this House.
Future Control - New Capital
– Has the attention of the Minister for External Affairs been drawn to a report that, at a recent public meeting held at Wau, the principal town of the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, a resolution was carried to the effect that Australia should annex New Guinea? If that report is correct, will the right honorable gentleman ask Cabinet to keep this in mind when it is considering its future policy in respect of developing New Guinea?
– I hardly feel myself justified in answering off-hand the question which the honorable member has put to me. However, I refer him to the statement I made some weeks ago concerning what I conceived to be the position of Australia in relation to the Mandated Territory. It will be remembered that last Friday the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) asked the Acting Leader of the House (Sir Earle Page) whether my statement was substantially in accordance with government policy, and the answer of the right honorable gentleman, which may be seen in Hansard, was to the effect that it was. The matter may be safely allowed to rest there.
– I direct the. attention of the Minister for External Affairs to (1) his own pronouncement in this Parliament on behalf of the Government, that Salamaua had been selected as the capital of New Guinea; (2) the vigorous protests by interested parties and the Prime Minister’s subsequent statement that the whole matter would be reconsidered; and (3) the more recent statement by the Minister for External Affairs that he was still searching for a new capital. I now wish to know whether he is able to say that his search has been crowned with success?
– That is an easy one. The honorable member, in the wide reading for which he is credited, must have come across the story for the search of the Holy Grail. It is still going on.
Effect of Wheat Dust
– In view of the report of the health authorities on the health conditions of men handling bulk wheat and their recommendation that special respirators ought to be provided, is the Assistant Minister for Health yet in a position to say whether the Government has given consideration to the desirability of compelling the use of respirators and their provision by the employers?
– I have considered that viewpoint. It is a matter which is, I believe, an obligation on the State Government of New South Wales to which the Government, as I informed the honorable member some time ago, we have remitted the . report for consideration.
– Bulk handling of wheat is carried out in other States.
– That is not so.
– A conference of the Premiers of the States and representatives of the Commonwealth Government has been called to discuss matters of co-ordination of defence. If there is no question on the agenda paper of the conference with regard to the establishment of compulsory military training, will the Acting Leader of the House give consideration to its inclusion?
– The question of compulsory military training is purely one to be decided by the Commonwealth Parliament.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Debate resumed from the 14th October (vide page 834), on motion by Mr. Archie Cameron -
That the bill bc now read a second time.
.- I regard this bill of very great importance to the whole of Australia; because every State is interested in fruit-growing, particularly in apple-growing. Honorable members generally are aware of the difficulties which the fruit-growers have had to face in recent years. Their representatives in this Parliament have had to come here year after year asking for assistance to extricate them from difficulties in which they have found themselves through no fault of their own. Even as far back as the period of the Great War the apple-growers were placed in difficult circumstances by reason of the fact that their product could not be exported. Later, in 1926, during the great strike in England, meat, butter, and other products were unloaded from the ships, but apples were allowed to lie in the holds and rot. The growers had to bear the whole of that loss. Even in this country, until recent years, apples were regarded as a luxury. Now, however, the people are beginning to realize that apples are a necessary adjunct to their diet. I appreciate what the Assistant Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie ‘Cameron) has done in connexion with this bill. The honorable gentleman visited nearly every State, came into direct contact with the growers and placed the provisions of this legislation before them. The bill has a good deal to commend it, but there are certain provisions in it to which we are opposed. I suggest that we might be able to get together and agree upon desirable amendments of the bill. I have several amendments which I propose to move in committee, as have also other honorable members representing electorates in which fruit-growing is carried on. Owing to the difficulties which have confronted the fruit-growers of Australia, Tasmania, which export3 about 63 per cent, of the fruit exported from this country, finds itself in rather an unenviable position.
– The honorable member is referring to fresh fruits.
– Yes. For that reason the representatives of Tasmania in this Parliament feel that they must give very careful consideration to the wording of the bill, in order to see that it operates in the best interests of the fruit-growers. As Tasmania is the State at which loading of the overseas vessels is first commenced, we must assure ourselves that the interests of the Tasmanian growers are conserved. The Tasmanian growers have signed an agreement with the shipping companies to the effect that they accept liability for dead freight. If the whole of the refrigerated space is not booked by Tasmanian growers they have to make arrangements with the other States to fill the quota, or to accept responsibility for the loss involved. It has been claimed by Western Australian growers that they suffer certain disabilities because there is no local market for their fruits, but as Western Australia is the last port of call for the ships going overseas, they have certain advantages over the growers in the eastern States, especially the Tasmanian growers, in respect of freight. Figures have been compiled showing that Tasmania is the backbone of this industry, and should have greater representation than is intended on the proposed board. At the present time, there is an Apple and Pear Council, which is constituted of representatives from every State. I cannot see very much difference between it and the proposed board, except that the new body is to be given statutory powers. Tasmania oan now practically exercise full control, but it will no longer be in that position if this legislation is passed in its present form. The new board is to consist of four members representative of growers of apples and pears in the State of Tasmania, two members representing growers in- Victoria, one member representing growers in each of the States of New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia, two members representing growers in Western Australia, and one member representing exporters of apples and pears in each of the States of Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. The Tasmanian growers claim that they should have greater representation and that shipments during the last three years shall be taken as the basis for determining the space to be allotted in the next year or so until a plebiscite of all growers has been taken. During the years from 1933 to . 1936, of the total quantity of fruit shipped from Australia, Tasmania was responsible for 61.8 per cent., Victoria for 17.4 per cent, Western Australia for 10.9 per cent., South Australia for 6.1 per cent., New South Wales for 3.4 per cent. and Queensland for . 4 per cent. During the three years which ended with the 1937 season, Tasmania was responsible for 62.8 per cent., Victoria for 14.1 per cent., Western Australia for 14 per cent., South Australia for 6.3 per cent., New South Wales for 2.4 per cent. and Queensland for . 3 per cent.
– Do those figures include shipments to the mainland, or do they relate only to shipments abroad?
– They relate only to shipments abroad. For the three years ended 1938, Tasmania was responsible for 63.5 per cent., Victoria for 14.4 per cent., Western Australia for 11.6 per cent., South Australia for 8.3 per cent., New South Wales for 1.6 per cent. and Queensland for . 5 per cent. Tasmania as the mainstay of this industry is asking that the existing system be continued. During 1938 and previous years, a quota was allotted to the different States, but all of the States were not able to ship up to their quota. Tasmania has always been above its quota, and has had to make good the deficiency of other States. Last year the States that were short of their quota were : New South Wales, by 30,980 bushel cases; Victoria, by 37,459 bushel cases ; and Western Australia, by 141,221 bushel cases. Queensland was 509 bushel cases over its quota, South Australia was 167,217 bushel cases over its quota, and Tasmania was 124,461 bushel cases over its quota. Some of the States have declined to take advantage of the quota when, in their opinion, the local market has been more favorable.
– The local market is the best market.
– I realize that. Last year, New South Wales had fruit which it could have shipped - some of it is still in cool stores - but it preferred to avail itself of the local market. We predicted: during the last fruit shipping season - April and May - that the local market would be a good one, because of decreased production. Western Australia was below its quota, not through any fault of its own but because a heavy hailstorm ruined a large portion of itscrop.
– That storm accounted for the whole of the shortage.
-Clause 14 in its present form will give the board power to fix quotas, but I do not see how they can be fixed before December. Arrangements for the shipment of fruit haveto be made months in advance. The clause reads -
1 ) The Board may -
Definitely, the board will not be able to determine what is likely to happen to a crop of fruit; such knowledge cannot be accurately obtained until the time has arrived for the fruit to be cased. In any event, the board would not be in a position to determine the matter before the end of December. There is no regular service by overseas shipping lines to Tasmania, and vessels have to be diverted from their ordinaryrun so as to include that State in their itinerary. The only meaning I can read into clause 14 is thatthe quantity of fruit harvested in the previous year will be takeu as the basis in fixing the quota for the ensuing season. That would be very unfair to Western Australia this year, on account of the disaster which last year caused it to be 141,221 cases below its quota. The general rule is for a failure of a crop in one year to be followed by a large crop in the subsequent year. Therefore, it would not be equitable if the quota of Western Australia were fixed on the basis ‘of its shipments last year.
– The freight space is definitely limited.
– Each year a quota is fixed, and space is allotted to the different States.
– Where does clause 14 lay down that a specific method has to be followed by the board in determining the quota? It merely says that the board may determine the quota.
– Each individual year is to be taken on its merits. What is wrong with that?
– That would not be fair to Western Australia on this occasion. I have no sympathy with Victoria and New South Wales if they do not ship what fruit they have available.
– There is nothing in the bill which says that last year will be taken as a basis.
– That is the only meaning which I can read into the clause. We want the position to be made more secure. This year South Australia shipped 167,217 cases over its quota. It had a bumper crop last year but this year it most likely will be light. We are asking that the quotas be fixed on a three years’ average. The Minister can make it a five-year period if he likes.
– The board can do that under the bill as it now stands.
– But it would be safer if the provision were included in the bill.
– Does not the honorable member think that it would be better to let the growers’ representatives decide that matter?
– The growers’ representatives -can have the matter reviewed in three years’ time, and can alter it then if they think fit.
– That would preclude the consideration of crop prospects for the year under review.
– Not necessarily. If, for instance, Western Australia were down 140,000 cases, that quantity could be allotted to other States as soon as the fact became known. On the other hand, if there “were an even season in all States, the available space would be distributed amongst them all according to Hie quota. As a matter of fact, the quota for 1939 has already been fixed. It is known that the fruit will be available. If the crop in all. the other States failed, Tasmania could fill the available space, because Tasmania never has a failure. We know that there will be a shortage in Victoria this year, because the season has been a very bad one.
– Is that not a good reason for not imposing an arbitrary rule?
– It is not an arbitrary rule. We are only asking for the continuation of a system that has worked well in the past.
– The honorable member is not suggesting, surely, that the board would not- be able to make rectifications to meet variations of the crop in different States.
– I am not suggesting that. I am only asking for a greater measure of security for the industry so that growers may have some idea early in the year what their quota will be. It would not be fair to fix a quota, and then alter it later in the year. The growers have to get in their stocks, and they must know how much they are going to ship overseas, and how much they are going to sell interstate.
– The bill leaves the quota to be fixed by the board.
– The trouble is that Tasmania is badly situated geographically in this regard, and would be likely to come off worst. With the exception of a small quantity of , fruit shipped in Sydney, the overseas ships begin their loading in Tasmania. If we do not know beforehand that the other States are unable to fill their programme, it will be too late then for Tasmania to ship an extra quantity, because the ships will have left, and they will not return once they are on their homeward voyage. Thus, if Adelaide, for instance, ships short, the only State that will be in- a position to benefit will be Western Australia.
This need not be a contentious matter. What I suggest would be for the benefit, not only of Tasmania, but also of all the States, because it would tend to stabilize the industry. I am convinced that if the right men are appointed to the board, the system will be a success. I have been in the industry for the last 30 years, and have been shipping fruit for most of that time, and I know ‘ the needs of the industry. Some honorable members might believe that if a State is allotted a certain quota, that State will be held responsible for filling it, but that is not so. As a matter of fact, no grower is held responsible for the space he takes. Shippers sign a paper every year that they will be responsible for dead freight, but we never take any notice of it. If an individual shipper cannot send the full quantity stipulated he does not worry, because there is a clause in the agreement that if he is prevented by an act of God from fulfilling its terms he is not to be held responsible. It is always easy enoug”h to show that an act of God has been responsible for some upset in the fruit-growing industry. In fixing a quota, the only satisfactory method is to start where the fruit is grown, and that is Tasmania. Then, if one State is light, the other States can take advantage of the extra space. That would put their average up for the next year. I protest against the attempt to make an “Aunt Sally” of Tasmania all the time. It is not fair, if the other States have a bumper crop, to give them the bulk of the space because they had a bad season the year before. Tasmania has to keep its orchards in production all the time, no matter what kind of a crop the other States have had. I protest against the tendency to° say to Tasmania “If we need your fruit you can ship it; if we do not need it you cannot ship it”.
There is provision in the bill for the refusing of an export licence to prospective exporters. When the licensing authority refuses a licence, the matter is to be referred to the Minister with whom the final decision rests. Naturally, the Minister will have before him only one side of the case, and, in most instances, he will endorse the decision of the authority. In that way injustice might be done. It would be fairer if the applicant who had been refused a licence had the right of appeal to a magistrate. I do not like clause 25, which reads -
I should prefer the export growers themselves, not their organizations, to review the board’s operations.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the question should be decided by all growers or only by those growers who export?
– Only the exporters. It would be neither difficult nor costly to take a plebiscite of the export growers, because they would be enrolled under the registration system, which is provided for by this bill. If the export growers were satisfied that they were properly represented and that the board was making a success of things they no doubt would support it. With a few amendments which I should like to have made this bill should be passed because it will be of great benefit to the apple and pear industry.
– I join with the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) in paying a tribute to the Assistant Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie Cameron) for the efforts which he made to make contact with the people in the apple and pear industry before introducing this bill. I know from experience in only one electorate that it is not an industry with which it is easy to make contact. It is an industry which speaks with many voices. Although there are in it men of great industry and ability, the variety of opinions expressed in it and the number of organizations which represent it are manifold. The Assistant Minister’s job has not been small. I am personally grateful for the promptness with which he went to my electorate when I asked him to discuss the bill with the apple and pear growers and myself. The tribute paid to him by the honorable member forFranklin was well justified.
I am convinced that a board is desirable, because I feel that in all of our exporting industries there must be adequate control and organization. We must meet the wishes and requirements of our customers; it is of no use to send our exports abroad in a haphazard manner. In late years, Australia has made tremen- dous strides in respect of the quality, grading, and packing, of its exports. I took some interest in our exports on the United Kingdom market in 1928, 1933, and, again, in 1936, and it was most gratifying to see the improvement each time. We are placing upon that market more and more nearly what it requires. To the organizations concerned, and to the Department of Commerce for its great part in this improvement, a tribute is well merited. There is always room for improvement, but our best quality goods are’ excellent, and our average is very high. We must, however, aim at elminiating from export any goods which may damage the good name of industry. A few hundred cases of inferior apples could do more barm to the apple and pear industry than the good that could be done by thousands and thousands of cases of excellent apples which have been properly packed and have met the requirements of the market. In the present circumstances a board of experienced men, elected by the industry itself, is necessary for every one of our exporting industries to meet not only the conditions which exist to-day, but also the much more difficult conditions with which we may find ourselves confronted in the not very distant future. With the principle of the board I am, therefore, in entire accord, but I am not happy at the circumstances in which this bill has been introduced. I consider it is the duty of every industry to organize itself, and that an export control board should be set up, with the producers themselves deciding the lines on which it should be established. They should then go to the Ministry and ask for the board. That that has not been done in this case cannot be laid to the door of the Assistant Minister. The industry must take its share of the responsibility. But, failing the industry doing this, I feel that the proper way in which to approach the matter is, if the Government considers that a board is necessary, to hold a poll of the growers in the industry so that the growers may make the decision. It is better that that should happen than that a board should be forced on the growers. I am not entirely happy about this bill because it has been forced on the apple and pear growers, instead of being asked for by them. Realizing, however, how essential a board is, 1 am prepared to waive my objections to this matter of principle if I am convinced that two major alterations can be effected in the bill. Two things that I consider are essential in this bill if the board is to be satisfactory are, first, election of the growers’ representatives in each State by the apple and pear growers themselves, and, secondly, provision for the revision of the board at the end of three years by expression of opinion by a poll of the growers themselves. The honorable member for Franklin has forecast an amendment with which I am entirely in. accord to meet my wishes in regard to the second point, and I intend to move an amendment, which I am confident the Assistant Minister will accept, designed to ensure that the growers’ representatives will be elected by the growers themselves. That is absolutely vital. If I thought for a moment that the Assistant Minister would not agree to that, I should oppose the bill at the present stage, because it would establish a board in which the growers would not have full confidence. Lt is essential, if the board is to work satisfactorily, that the growers should have complete confidence in it. Whether it is ideal or not, if the growers decide the personnel of the board themselves they will say, “ These are our men, practical men, whom we elected ourselves to do a job, and we have confidence in them. If, at the end of the period for which the board is elected, we find that they have not done the job, we shall replace them “. At this stage, therefore, I forecast an amendment of the definition clause, clause 3, to include the definition - “ Apple and pear grower “ means a person who has cultivated not less than three acres of land and planted it with apple or pear trees in bearing.
That definition has been suggested by the representatives of the South Australian growers, and the Victorian growers are in accord with it. I understand from conversations with one of the representatives of Tasmania that the Tasmanian growers would be happy to have that new definition inserted.
– They may not be exporters.
– I should not mind if the poll were confined to growerexporters, but I point out that a man may be an exporter one year and not an exporter in the next year. I think, therefore, that the definition that I am suggesting is, for this purpose, an adequate one. For the purposes of my principal amendment, if the Assistant Minister thought it desirable to substitute the definition of “ exporter “ I should have no objection, and I do not think the Victorian growers whom I have consulted would have any objection. The amendment of the definition clause which I have foreshadowed is merely incidental to another amendment which I intend to move to sub-clause 5 of clause 4, which reads -
Any member appointed to represent the growers in a State shall be selected from a panel submitted by the approved growers’ organizations in that State.
I shall move -
That all words after the word “ selected “ be omitted with a view to insert the words “ by a poll of the apple and pear growers in that State”.
I think that that amendment is vital and, if granted, would remove any objections which I have in principle to the form in which this bill is introduced. If the amendment were carried I think that it would even render one of the amendments which have been forecast by the honorable member for Franklin unnecessary - that which would provide that the export quota of each State shall, be based on exports from each State over the last three years. I do not feel, if there is a board in which the industry has confidence, that an amendment of that sort would be necessary, but 1 am not opposed to it. From conversations that I have had with the Victorian growers I feel that they desire to fall into line as much as possible with the Tasmanian growers, and, if that amendment is wanted by the Tasmanian growers, I am prepared to support it, although I do not think it is essential, because if my amendments are carried, the board that will be set up will give adequate representation of the growers by men who have been elected by the growers themselves.
To sum up my views on this bill, I regret the circumstances in which the
Assistant Minister has had to introduce it, and that it is not one that comes at the request of the industry. I regret that the industry, in spite of the Assistant Minister’s efforts, has not been adequately able to express itself. I entirely agree with the necessity for the board, but I feel that it will not have the complete confidence of the industry or be completely efficient unless the representatives of the growers are men who are elected by the growers themselves. The honorable member for Franklin has expressed his views. These are my views. The views of both of us are in accord. I compliment the honorable member for Franklin for having dealt with this bill in a broad spirit. His efforts have been bent towards getting the best possible board, and he has refrained from trying to make political capital out of the bill, thus setting a good example that we should endeavour to follow. I think all honorable members can support the principle of the bill, but we should do our best to influence the Government to accept various amendments to make the. bill more effective. I shall endeavour to obtain strong support for my foreshadowed amendment to provide that the growers may elect their own representatives to the proposed board. I do not wish to adopt a dictatorial attitude in this respect, but as the Assistant Minister in charge of the hill is a believer in grower control, and as he wishes the board to operate efficiently, I feel confident that he will see the wisdom of accepting my amendment.
.- I associate myself, to some degree at least, with the remarks of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) and the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn). I also join them in complimenting the Assistant Minister (Mr. Archie Cameron) upon his efforts to make contact with the growers in respect of this particular measure. I know that he has gone to no end of trouble to meet individual growers, so that he may learn from them at first hand of their difficulties, and make such provision as is possible in this bill to overcome them. Most people with a knowledge of the fruit industry recognize that some measure of control over it is essential. “Whether this bill will establish quite the right kind, of control is perhaps open to question. Personally, 1 am inclined to think that, as the bill has been drafted after much thought and consideration, following upon numerous personal contacts with the people engaged in the industry, it should, broadly speaking, meet the situation.
The bill proposes to establish a board similar to boards already operating in the dairying, dried fruits, wheat and wine industries, and those boards have been subjected to very little criticism. No doubt the apple and pear growing industry has complexities not present in those other industries, but it seems to me that the proposals of the Government in this bill make possible a fair starting point to deal with those problems. I am quite convinced that if the industry is to make reasonable progress, and to develop along satisfactory lines, some measure of control is necessary. I shall suggest one or two amendments of the bill. The honorable member for Flinders said that he intended to move for an amendment of clause 4, which deals with the election of the first board. I confess that I do not quite appreciate the points he endeavoured to make. I do not regard it as vital that the growers should elect the members of the first board by a plebiscite. The situation should be adequately met if the growers’ organizations supply the Government with a panel, from which the growers’ representatives may be nominated. When the board has been established, and when the scheme is in operation, it would be desirable to hold a plebiscite of the growers to determine who shall represent them on the board, but that situation can be met in the future. We are concerned, chiefly, at the moment in making a start to organize the industry.
The bill provides that the board shall consist of four representatives from Tasmania, two each from Victoria and Western Australia, and one each from New South Wales, Queensland and. South Australia. It has been suggested by the State Fruit Board of Tasmania that the representation allocated to Tasmania is unfair. The State board points out that Tasmanian growers will provide 50 per cent, of the revenue of the board, but will have only 31 per cent, of the representation upon it. It believes that Tasmania should have at least 40 per cent, of the representation. It is perfectly true that Tasmanian producers grow by far the largest quantity of apples and pears produced in any State. For many years, almost all the apples and pears exported from Australia were grown in Tasmania. Yet I am not quite satisfied that I can support the proposal for a larger number of Tasmanian representatives on the board. The purpose of the board is to watch the interests of the industry as a whole. It will be concerned with the affairs of the producers, the shippers and all others affected, and I should not like it to take a parochial view of the various matters submitted to it. Our purpose should be to ensure the true development of the industry in all States where apples and pears are grown.
Sitting suspended from 12.J+5 to 2.15 p.m.
– Clause 13 sets out the functions and powers of the board fairly clearly. It provides that if the board is faced with the consideration of controversial subjects upon which its members cannot agree, it has power to make recommendations to the Minister in regard to them as well as to .those matters upon which they are unanimous. That clause should, in my opinion, be of material advantage to the industry in years to come.
The honorable member for Franklin expressed certain fears in regard to clause 14. What exercised his mind was whether or hot it would have some disadvantageous effect, on the State which has the largest production of apples and pears. Whilst I do not altogether agree with the contentions of the honorable member in regard to that clause, I think there is some real ground for his fear that the clause as it is now drafted will not work out quite as was anticipated by the Government. There is no doubt that in past years - and it is only the happenings of the past that can guide us in this matter - Tasmania has had the responsibility of making up the unfilled quotas of other States. I appreciate the point made by the honorable member for Franklin that the filling of deficient quotas cannot be decided at the last moment. There must be some planning ahead. Provision must be made for the ordering of timber which is cut mainly in winter, and for the manufacture of cases. Certainly timber cannot be cut for manufacture into cases at short notice. All these things have to be taken into con- ,sideration and provided for. For that reason I think that there is some ground for the fear expressed by the honorable member. I know that there is a fear in the mind of the Tasmanian Minister for Agriculture in regard to this clause, because I have just received a telegram from him which indicates that its provisions are not satisfactory either to him or to the Tasmanian industry. I suggest that the Assistant Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie Cameron) might give some consideration to the representations of the honorable member for Franklin with a view to ascertaining if it is not possible to amend the clause in such a way as to ensure that it will operate more satisfactorily than appears possible at present. I speak more particularly in connexion with sub-clause 3 of the clause. There is, of course, a saving provision in sub-clause 6, that if the board is unable to arrive at a unanimous decision in respect of any matter arising from determination under sub-clause 1 of clause 14, the board may request the Minister to refer the matter for decision to one or more independent arbitrators appointed by the Minister. That seems, on the face of it, to clarify the position somewhat, but the point that is uppermost in our minds is that whatever is referred to an independent arbitrator will not affect the position for the current season. That seems to be the whole difficulty.. I should be pleased if the Assistant Minister would indicate later on what can be done to remove this fear that is exercising the minds of at least some honorable members. Perhaps it might be possible for us to get down to a basis which would obviate the need for drastic amendment of the clause as it now stands.
With the general terms of the bill I find myself in agreement. I am satisfied that something must be done to preserve the important fruit-growing industry and to endeavour to extend the markets which Australia now enjoys for its surplus fresh fruits. I can see possibilities for the development of the industry, but I cannot see any hope for its future unless we have some controlling authority appointed by the growers themselves and acting on their behalf. I support the bill with the reservations I have mentioned.
.- I regard this bill as a very desirable one. We find that it is necessary to have organization in every form of industry and commerce. The absence of such organization in any industry is detrimental not only to the interests directly involved but also to the whole of Australia. I compliment the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) on being a good Tasmanian. In the interests of an important measure, covering an industry conducted throughout the whole of the Commonwealth, I think he was perhaps too much Tasmanian. I disagree with his suggestion that quotas for shipment should be determined by accepting as a basis the average shipments over the last three years. In many ways that _ might result in injustice to the various States. The industry in Western Australia, as the honorable member said, suffered an enormous blow from a hailstorm which destroyed the greater part of the crops and accounted for the Western Australian growers being unable to fulfil their quota by many thousands of cases. If the honorable member’s suggestion were carried out the effect of that unfortunate occurrence would attach to Western Australia not only for the year in which the calamity occurred but also in subsequent years. That, obviously, would be definitely unfair, and I do not think that the honorable member would wilfully inflict such a disadvantage upon the growers of any State. What is proposed by the bill, is that those who are engaged in the export industry will be able to determine a just quota for each State on a fair basis from the facts that present themselves at the time. As sensible men, those composing the board will have to take all the facts into consideration and arrive at a quota which will be just to the growers in the whole of the Commonwealth. Before leaving that subject I should like to say that Tasmania is a very old apple-growing State, and as such it has done good work in the Commonwealth. On the contrary,
Western Australia is comparatively young in the industry, but it is developing at a far greater rate in apple and pear production than is the older applegrowing State. It will be seen, therefore, that there is some reason for the request for an enlargement of its quota.
The Assistant Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie Cameron) is to be complimented on the very deep interest he has taken in the formulation of this bill. I know that the honorable gentleman went to Tasmania and consulted the growers there.
– He had a great reception.
– I am sure that he would get a fine reception wherever he went.
– Amongst the feminists?
– The Assistant Minister, after fully acquainting himself with all the facts surrounding this important measure, has adopted a means whereby a control board will be set up and given effective powers to act for the betterment of the industry generally. I hope that honorable members generally will take a larger view in connexion with the representation on the board of the various States. I do not think that the very excellent State of Tasmania has much to complain of in that regard. I am anxious that the bill should go through as speedily as possible and be as effective as it is possible to be. Therefore, I hope that fairness will be displayed throughout the course of this debate.
– I intend to support the second reading of this bill. It is an attempt made by the Assistant Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie Cameron) to put the apple and pear growing industry on a comparatively sound foundation, particularly as regards its future position in connexion with overseas markets. It is true that in the past this industry, largely through its voluntary organization, made some attempt to distribute amongst the various States in fair proportion the benefits of the overseas markets. It has evidently been ascertained by the Department of Commerce, and possibly also by the various State departments of agriculture, that under the voluntary scheme c4 export there have taken place certain activities by certain individuals which have indicated selfishness and a desire to exploit the absence of statutory powers in their own interests. I also feel certain that the Assistant Minister and the Government are conscious of the fact that, possibly more rapidly than ever before, the English market for Australian fruit is contracting. There is intense competition by other countries which export apples and pears. Consequently there is an ever-pressing need to see that that portion of the market which still remains is allocated fairly among all the apple and pear growers in the different States. I am sure that that could not be done unless statutory power were vested in a body representative of the growers, the Government, and the export interests. The Assistant Minister, and the Government as a whole, are to be congratulated for having taken early steps to provide the necessary machinery to cope with the situation that is rapidly arising, if it has not already arisen. It would have been a tragedy had the Government allowed the industry to collapse before taking action. The statement by some growers and other interested persons - that this measure has not been asked for - should not be heeded, because, if the Government were to withhold action until the growers were in a desperate plight, it would be accused of having neglected to conserve the best interests of the industry. A section of the growers has made a strong and genuine request for the personnel of the board that is to be set up under this legislation to be elected by a plebiscite of the growers throughout the Commonwealth. Generally speaking, that principle is a good one, but having had many years of experience of the difficulty of inducing governments to introduce legislation, and realizing that the Government must have definite information which impels it to the belief that there is a potential crisis facing the industry, I hold that there is justification for the course proposed in preference to provision for a plebiscite. Everybody must realize that, in order to take a plebiscite, a roll of growers would have to be compiled, the nature of the franchise would have to be determined, and quite a number of other matters would have to be attended to. While the poll was being taken and the determination was being made as to who should be the representatives of the growers, the industry might be reduced to a precarious condition and might suffer severe damage. We can confidently rely upon ministers for agriculture in the different States to select a panel of the most suitable men, irrespective of party political considerations. I am sure that they will submit the names of men who have spent a lifetime in the industry and thoroughly understand all of its ramifications. They will also take care to see that the interests of these men are paramountly the interests of the growers and not of dealers, speculators, or shippers of fruit. I also submit, in defence of the decision of the Government, not to provide for a plebiscite, that in the final analysis this measure is not designed to confiscate the growers’ fruit, nor does it provide for the sale or the marketing of that fruit. Its object is dissociated from any of the considerations which usually accompany a demand for a poll. Its purpose is, generally, to see that even-handed justice is meted out to those who are engaged in the industry, by a just allocation of the available overseas markets. After all, it is a function of government to see, particularly in regard to overseas markets, that every producer obtains a fair share of what is available. In these circumstances there, is not so strong a claim as ordinarily could be made for the election of representatives of the growers by means of a plebiscite. Were an adequate staff available in the Department of Commerce or in the State departments of agriculture, of men with a working knowledge of fruit-growing, probably the allocation of the available markets could be made depart-mentally without the constitution of a board representative of the growers. I agree with the Government that it is preferable to give such representatives an education in the allocation of those markets, the arrangements in regard to shipping, and anything else which may improve the status of the industry, and increase the return to the grower. There is another feature in relation to a plebiscite which demands consideration. It is undeniable, in Victoria at least, that complete unity has not been achieved in the ranks of the fruit-growers’ organizations. During the first three years of the operation of this measure, the growers will have an opportunity to place their industry on a properly organized basis; and the Government, at the expiration of that period, should be in a position to recognize in each State one truly representative organization of the growers, and to arrange for a review of the activities of the board, so that a decision may be made as to whether its existence should be continued. Such a decision should preferably be made by means of a plebiscite.
The position that has arisen in connexion with the apple and pear export trade is not peculiar to the fruit-growing industry. A similar position arose in the years from 1931 to 1934 in connexion with the meat industry. Those engaged in that industry, on account of the closing of the overseas markets by the operation of a policy of economic nationalism, found it essential to establish a statutory controlling authority to regulate, and to allocate among the meat producers, a proportion of the existing markets, and to deal from time to time with the conditions brought about by contraction of the markets. Much good work can be done by an organization of this character. The apple and pear board will be empowered, not only to see that every grower gets his share of the good things that are going, but also, if it thinks fit, to engage in an advertising campaign in Australia for the purpose of encouraging a larger local consumption of apples and pears. If every individual in Australia ate an apple a day, local consumption would absorb the whole of the production. In view of the constantly contracting markets overseas, the work of the board should be invaluable. As time goes on, I hope that it will concentrate largely on the expansion of the internal market, and thereby render substantial benefits to the industry. I approve of the provision under which the merchants are to be given representation on the board. They will not have a controlling representation, but as busi- nesa men with a financial interest in the matter their advice will be invaluable.
In his second-reading speech the Assistant Minister for Commerce, while very fully tracing all the factors which had influenced the Government, neglected to indicate to honorable members exactly how the operations of the board are to be financed. Clause 17 provides as follows : -
I assume that the same thing is to be done in regard to this board as was done in connexion with the Meat Export Control Board; that, immediately this House agrees to this measure, a further complementary measure will be introduced empowering the Government to impose a levy on all fruit exported from Australia, and that from the resultant collection of money will be obtained the necessary funds to finance the operations of the board. I regret that the bill does not fix the amounts that are to be paid by way of salaries and expenses to the members of the board. This House, the industry, and the general public, are entitled to know exactly what amounts are to be received by the chairman of the’ board and the other representatives. In saying this I am not actuated by the desire that the salaries should be mean and cheeseparing. I am merely voicing the belief that too often the primary producer is unreasonably cheeseparing and critical of the re.muneration provided in respect of his representatives on different boards which operate in his interests. I have heard from time to time very adverse criticism of the salaries, fees and other emoluments drawn by members of the Dairy Produce Export Board. My attitude has always been that in the main the representatives of growers or producers are men who, over a period of years, have given a good deal of honorary service to their particular industries. When an opportunity occurs for the producers to select them as their representatives on different boards, the emoluments are at least some little recompense for the time voluntarily given, the midnight oil burnt, and the intensive study associated with their advocacy of measures designed to assist particular industries. I also think that the public and the producers are entitled to know the amounts to be paid.
It is provided in the bill that the work of the board shall be reviewed at the end of three years. For my part I believe that this review can be made quite satisfactorily under the provisions of clause IS of the bill, but a great majority of the growers desire that a ballot of producers should be held at the end of the period to determine whether or not the board should continue to operate. I suggest that the Government should yield this point to the growers. The board is not to fix prices or exercise a general control over the industry, but merely to ensure that a share of the export market is assured to every grower. It would give satisfaction to . the growers if the bill were amended so as to provide for the holding of a ballot after three years had elapsed. There is an impression among the growers that the ministers for agriculture in the various States may not submit the names of men who, in the opinion of the growers, are satisfactory to the industry. I do not agree with that submission, but it is an opinion honestly held by many of the growers. If, unfortunately, they should be correct in that belief, and their worst fears are realized during the next three years, they will at least have an opportunity through the ballot to depose those representatives of whom they disapprove, and put others in their places. Therefore, I ask that clause 18 be amended to make provision for the holding of such a ballot, at which it can be determined whether or not the board shall continue, and so that the members of the board may be elected by the growers if they decide that it shall be continued. During the intervening three years the growers will have an opportunity to judge the usefulness or otherwise of the board.
Clause 14 provides that the board may determine the basis, to be applied equally throughout the Commonwealth, for fixing the quantity of apples and pears harvested in any year in a State which shall be exported. The honorable member foi Franklin (Mr. Frost) made out a. strong case for the fixing of a quota by averaging product1011 over a period of three years, but I feel that the hands of the board should not be tied. No matter what State the members of the) board may come from, they will all have the interests of the industry at heart, and it is possible that, by tying their hands in the way suggested, an injury may be done to the growers, even in Tasmania. I think it would be preferable to leave it to the common sense of the members of the board to determine the method which, in their opinion, will be in .the best interests of the industry.
I give the bill my blessing, and hope that it will prove to be of material assistance to the growers. This is a precarious industry at any time, due to pests, adverse climatic conditions and the speculative operations of merchants and exporters. Any move, even in the direction of State control, would be welcome which would give greater security to a class of primary producers who work hard for long hours, and yet very seldom receive the remuneration to which their labours, justly entitle them.
-This bill may not be of great importance to those honorable members who do not represent electorates in which apples and pears are grown, but I remind them that the apple and pear industry is of as much importance to Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria as sugar and bananas and pineapples are to Queensland. Representatives from that State never hesitate to urge the claims of those industries, but they object when a claim is put forward on behalf of the fruit-growers of the southern States.
– No one ever bas heard such an objection from a representative of Queensland.
– I heard the honorable member speaking the other night on the States Grants Bill. I take this opportunity to congratulate the Assistant Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie Ca.mer6n) on the able way in which he lias handled this bill. We have in the Minister a businesslike and methodical man, who is going about his work in a way that reflects. credit upon himself and upon those ho represents. While this legislation was in the course of preparation, he actually visited all those States in which apples and pears are grown for export, and consulted with the growers and the representatives of the industry in general. I also desire to pay a tribute to the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) who, for many years, has been an apple-grower and exporter. I listened to him with great interest because it was evident that he was thoroughly familiar with his subject. Tasmania is the chief exporter of apples in the Commonwealth, being responsible for the production of 60 per cent, of the total quantity exported. South Australia exported last year 623,000 cases, which represented 13 per cent, of the total. Although the percentage is not great, the industry is one of real importance to South Australia. The figures for all the States for 1938 are as follows: -
The average over the three-year period 1934, 1935 and 1936 is as follows :-
It is evident, therefore, that the quantity exported from the various States fluctuates considerably from year to year, and it is therefore a good idea, I believe, to set up a board to regulate the industry. I am inclined to favour the suggestion of the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn). [Quorum formed.’] I support the principle of the board, but I consider that the representatives of the growers should be elected by a ballot of the growers. That is the democratic way, and I hope that the Assistant Minister will accept the amendment foreshadowed by the honorable member for Flinders.
It is important that shipping space and freight arrangements be made well ahead, and it should be possible for the proposed board to make those arrangements. Some years ago the South Australian apple-growers were left lamenting because thousands of cases of apples that could have been sold in England could not be exported through shipping space not being available. Thousands of pounds were thereby lost to the State. The proposed board should be able to regulate matters in order to avoid a recurrence of anything of that nature.
At present conditions in the industry are not satisfactory. For years and years the Commonwealth Parliament has been paying out bounties to the apple and peargrowers, and that cannot be allowed to continue. I believe that regulation of imports into the United Kingdom is bound to come and that we must, in anticipation, regulate our shipments to the United Kingdom. We have already had to regulate the shipments of meat and other products. I expect that regulation of imports into the United Kingdom will result in the prevention of the United States of America from shipping vast quantities of apples to that country to be placed in store ; but under present conditions, American store apples are sold in London as late as June. Regulations which will prevent that must help Australia, but Australia must help itself by regulating shipments out of Australia. The only way in which that can be accomplished successfully is through a board vested with legal powers; a voluntary board will not do because it cannot enforce its decisions.
In my opinion another way in which the Australian trade in fresh fruits with Great Britain can be assisted is by diverting .some of the shipments away from the Port of London to the outports like Liverpool, Bristol, Glasgow and Hull. As Agent-General for South Australia in London, I had a great deal to do with the handling of apples from South Australia The greater part of the cargoes ore shipped through the Government Produce Department and they are handled by the Agent-General in London.
By making use of the outports I believe that it would serve the interests not only of the Australian growers but also of those who purchase our apples and other produce. The Port of London is the dearest port in the world, and, in consequence, the charges that are levied in that port are exorbitant. The shipping agents in England like to handle everything from London, but it is costly for the exporters because, after arrival, the goods have to be distributed over the country by rail, and railway charges in England are just as expensive as they are in Australia. All of the unnecessary costs involved in making London the sole port of consignment are charges on the growers in Australia and the purchasers in England.
I impress upon honorable members and upon the industry itself the fact that there can be sold on the continent of Europe itself a great deal more produce than is at present being sold there. While I was Agent-General for South Australia, I went to Hamburg and thence to Berlin, and during my trip I sold on behalf of South Australia 150,000 cases of apples. That is a big proportion of the annual export of about 620,000 cases. I believe that by the use of systematic displays of our wares in Europe we could sell more than we do.
– How would the honorable member suggest that we should get payment?
– That is an aspect which would have to be dealt with by the board.
– The honorable member would not care whether we got paid or not.
– That is entirely wrong, and an interjection of that character cannot draw me from my argument. It would be necessary to ensure that payment was received for the goods and before any sales were made arrangements for payment would have to be made. This is a bill which can be dealt with in detail in committee and meanwhile I give it my blessing and hope that it will have a speedy passage.
.- It is a move in the right direction for -the Government to co-operate in the organization of export industries. As production has increased and the quantity available has reached an excess of the local demand organization has become more and more necessary. There has been a partially efficient voluntary board working in the interests of the apple and peargrowing industry, and it has done good work, but, unless there is’ legal power, some of the good effects of the board are lost. The points which concern New South Wales in this bill are: first, the constitution of the board and, secondly, the quota system. In respect of the first, the growers in New South Wales contend that as they have only one representative on the board, they might not have the opportunity to have a seconder to motions which its representative might move. They think that if * representative of the exporters were put on the board their interests would be secured to a greater degree. The growers of New South Wales are afraid of the quota. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost), who has a wide knowledge of the apple and pear industry, will admit that every bushel of apples that is exported from New South Wales makes a vacancy for the receipt of an extra bushel from Tasmania. It would not, therefore, be to the detriment of Tasmania for New South Wales to increase its export of apples.
– Last year exports of apples from New South Wales were 30,000 cases less than its quota.
– One year New South Wales might export 100,000 cases and the next year desire to send 300,000. For that reason I agree with the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) that there should, be some elasticity and that the proposal made by the honorable member for Franklin is not so satisfactory as the provision which is already in the bill. One cannot anticipate seasons or how nature will affect the yield. The matter of allocating quotas should be left to the discretion of the board. It would be able to get the latest information in respect of the harvest prospects and to arrange the quotas accordingly. Hard-and-fast rules basing quotas upon the average of even three years are unsatisfactory, because it cannot be anticipated what will happen to the crop even a month or two before the fruit is picked. If a board in which the industry has confidence be established it is right and fair that it have discretionary powers. The two matters-‘ that I emphasize are, first, the desire of New South Wales that the exporters should have “a representative on the board, and, secondly, the need for elasticity in fixing the export quotas for each State.
– I welcome the introduction of this measure and shall support the second reading because I believe that it is in the interests of those who are engaged in the great industry of growing apples and pears. Those engaged in that industry have difficulties confronting them very many in number, and their need of organized marketing methods is just as pressing as it is in the dairying, canned fruits, dried fruits, wine and other industries which already have measures of this kind for their protection upon the statutebook. There is probably no other primary industry in which the cost of overseas freights, cases, marine insurance and other charges absorbs such a large proportion of the gross returns. In some instances the returns are entirely swallowed up by those charges. This bill will make it possible for collective action to be taken by a board on behalf of the industry in the direction of obtaining the most satisfactory freight rates and the lowest insurance rates, and of arranging shipping space and advertising overseas. These things have all been done with some degree of success by the boards operating on behalf of other industries, and there is no reason why they should not be done equally well by the board proposed to be set up under this bill. I remember introducing a similar measure in 1927. It passed through Parliament, but, when a poll was taken of the growers, the merchants so successfully played upon their fears that it was unsuccessful and the measure did not go into operation. Within twelve months the apple and pear industry was in such difficulty that a considerable reaction took place, and I believe that had another poll been taken within twelve months or two years of the defeat of the first poll the earlier decision would have been reversed.
I admit that I was somewhat uneasy when I saw, on reading this bill, that no poll was to be taken on this occasion as to whether the bill should be given effect, but I have since learned that the conference which met at Canberra and discussed the question with the Assistant Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie Cameron) was representative in character, representative of the growers as well as of the sellers, and that that conference generally favoured the establishment of an export control board. I also understand that the views of the conference have been largely adopted by the Government and are incorporated in this measure. Consequently the fears that I held in regard to the absence of any provision for the taking of the poll have disappeared. In any case, legislation of this kind is no longer in the experimental stage, for we have had export control boards operating in the dried fruits and dairy produce industries for fourteen years. The Canned Fruits Export Control Board has been operating for more than a decade, and the Wine Export Control Board for nearly a decade. The Meat Board is, of course, of comparatively recent establishment. All of these boards have given a. considerable measure of satisfaction to the different industries with which they are associated, and the Apple and Pear Board should not be less successful.
– The purpose of the board is simply to regulate the industry.
– That is so. I listened with interest to the speech of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) on this bill, for his practical experience of the industry entitles his views to respect. He seemed to be anxious that the apple and pear growers of Tasmania should be given additional representation on the board, his reason being that Tasmania exports a far greater quantity of apples and pears than does any other Australian State. Whilst it is important to provide fair representation for the different States, it would be quite impracticable to arrange representation strictly .in accordance with the scale of exports from particular States. The honorable gentleman showed that Queensland exported only .5 per cent, of our total exports of apples and pears, whereas Tasmania exported about 60 per cent. If representation on the board were to be in exact proportion to the volume of exports, it would be necessary to give Tasmania 120 or 130 representatives, if Queensland were to have one, and, obviously, it would be impossible to give a State less than one representative. Care should be taken that the board shall not be too unwieldy. After all, boards of this nature very quicky develop into what may t~ accurately described as boards of directors. The members devote their attention to the welfare of the whole industry. They are not concerned,’ to an’ undue degree, about mere State interests. Tasmania will be well represented if it appoints four men of the right calibre to the board. If those four men have sufficient ability they will be more effective than double the number of representatives of mediocre quality,- for their views will be listened to with careful attention by their colleagues. If it is necessary to provide additional representation for Tasmania, I would prefer that it be done by giving the proposed four representatives additional voting power. Personally I’ think the provisions of the bill in this respect are quite satisfactory. If the board consists of four growers’ representatives from Tasmania”, two each from Victoria- and Western Australia, one each from the other three States, one government representative and four representatives of the exporters, it will have sixteen members. That number, in my opinion, is quito large enough.
The honorable member for Franklin also seemed to be fearful of the possible effects of clause 14, which gives the Minister power to withhold licences. I remind him that this- clause is really the crux of the whole measure. Moreover, it is in keeping with the provisions of the acts relating to the other boards to which I have alluded. Licences will undoubtedly be issued to all persons who are prepared to conform to the general export conditions laid down by the board. The Minister is not likely to withhold a licence except for a very good reason and on the advice of the board.
– The only body to which he can refer for advice is the board.
– Quite so, but what other body could give him such expert advice? I do not refer personally to the honorable gentleman in charge of this bill (Mr. Archie Cameron) or to any other honorable gentleman who may for the time being administer this legislation when I say that, after all, the Minister who will have power to withhold a licence will be a responsible member of this Parliament, and will be subject to the criticism of his parliamentary colleagues.
– Surely the persons engaged in the industry should have some rights.
– They should, but their rights will be sufficiently safeguarded. The procedure set .out in this bill is similar to that which has been observed for fourteen years in respect of other export control boards. The power given to the Minister to withhold licences has never been abused; nor is it likely to be.
It was also suggested by the honorable member for Franklin that shipping space should be allocated on the basis of the previous three years’ exports. While I defer to the practical knowledge of the honorable member of this industry, I feel that in making that suggestion he has overlooked the necessity to have regard to seasonal prospects and fluctuations. The board should be at liberty to take full account of such circumstances. The honorable gentleman said that even at this early stage of the season it appeared likely that Victoria would have a light crop of apples. This suggests to me the wisdom of allowing the board a free hand to allocate shipping space after giving consideration to exports from particular States over the preceding three or four years, and also to seasonal conditions. If it were found that a particular State, say, Victoria, or South Australia, did not require all the space allocated to it at a particular time, advice could be sent to Tasmania to that effect and the board could make a more effect ive allocation, probably giving some additional space to Tasmania or to Western Australia.
– That is done now.
– How does the honorable member propose to improve upon that system? It seems to me to be essential to allow the board full freedom to consider average exports from particular States as well as prevailing seasonal conditions.
The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn) has foreshadowed an amendment to provide that the members of the first board shall be elected by the growers. I hope that the Assistant Minister (Mr. Archie Cameron) will be able to accept this amendment, for its incorporation in the bill would give considerable satisfaction to the apple and pear growers of Victoria. I shall support the second reading of the bill.
.- I hope that this bill will be passed in a form which will stabilize the apple and pear industry, which is, and has been for many years, of great importance to Tasmania. A great deal of feeling has been engendered over the control of the industry in Tasmania. Workmen come from all parts of Australia to Tasmania to participate in the seasonal occupation which the apple and pear industry offers on the waterfront and elsewhere. Tasmania has, in my opinion, been largely responsible for the establishment of this industry in Australia. We should afford the industry the greatest possible protection. In my opinion, the Government should go further and fix a local price for apples.
– Only the State governments could do that.
– The Commonwealth has no power under the Constitution to do so.
– The Commonwealth should be prepared to co-operate with the States in the fixation of local prices for apples and-pears.
– Why does not the honorable member get Mr. Ogilvie to do it?
- Mr. Ogilvie, I have no doubt, is quite capable of standing up to this Government, and I feel sure that he will insist that it should do more for the betterment of this industry.
The ‘Commonwealth should seek the cooperation of the States in the fixation of a local price for apples and pears.
– The Commonwealth has no constitutional power to fix prices.
– I do not agree with the honorable member. The Commonwealth could act in the interests of the apple and pear industry just as it has acted in the interests of the sugar industry and other industries. If the Commonwealth were prepared to fix a local price for apples, it would mean a tremendous saving to Tasmanian growers, and would result in the stabilization of one of the largest .industries in Australia. The Assistant Minister for Commerce knows very well from his experiences in Tasmania that there is a great deal of diversity of opinion in regard to what should be done to assist the industry. The honorable gentleman addressed a very hostile meeting in Tasmania in regard to the proposals contained in this bill and got into “ hot water “ with the growers.
– His reception was, in fact, so hostile that he was almost recalled by his leader.
– The honorable member is romancing.
– The honorable gentleman insulted the growers by saying that the apple-growers should be given to the cats.
– I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the bill.
– I trust that this bill will, in some measure, bring about unity among the various conflicting interests concerned in the apple and pear growing industry. I support the remarks of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost), whom I regard as the most practical and logical man in this Parliament. His active association with the industry and his long years of experience entitle his views to very serious consideration. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) had something to say with regard to the representation on the board of Queensland growers. If Tasmania, which exports 61 per cent, of the total fresh fruits exported from this country. is to be given representation of only four members on the proposed board, some of the other States are not entitled to representation at all. It is absolutely wrong that States which do not export fruit should be given representation on the board. The total quantity of fruit exported by one State represents as little as .3 per cent, of the total exports, yet it is to have representation on the board.
– It is important that that State should have representation.
– In my opinion the State which has been primarily responsible for the development of the industry in Australia, and whose growers have had long experience in exporting to the overseas markets, should have increased representation on the board. Tasmania does not ask for representation on the wine board because it exports no wine; therefore I see no reason why any State which exports a negligible quantity of apples and pears should be given representation on the Apple and Pear Board. When determining the numerical strength of the various States on the board, advantage should be taken of the intimate knowledge acquired over many years by Tasmanian growers.
– I sought in vain in certain quarters for that knowledge when I went to Tasmania to get it.
– The honorable member for Franklin and I would have been pleased to help the Assistant Minister to get all the information he desired to obtain, but when the honorable gentleman went over to Tasmania he made it known in a high and mighty manner that he had been sent over as an emissary of this Government to retrieve its lost prestige among the apple and peargrowers of Tasmania. I fail to see what possible harm could come to the industry by the appointment of additional representatives from Tasmania on the board. I appeal to honorable members not to take a parochial view of these matters. The board would benefit from the long experience in the export industry of the Tasmanian growers. No argument has been submitted in rebuttal of the proposal brought forward by the honorable member for Franklin.
– Would the honorable member’ like the board to be composed entirely of Tasmanians?
– That would not be a bad idea because then we would be sure that all of the personnel of the board had had long and practical experience in the industry.
I also support the remarks of the honorable member for Franklin in regard to establishing the quota on the basis of the average export in each State over a period of three years. That appears to be the most practical way of dealing with this matter. Again I support the remarks of the honorable member in regard to provision for appeal. If a man’s business is at stake he should be entitled to appeal to a magistrate in order that his living might not be taken away from him at one fell swoop. That is a fundamental axiom of British justice. I regard the honorable member for Franklin as one of the sincerest men in this House. For years he has battled on behalf of those engaged in the applegrowing industry in Tasmania, and no man has done more than he to endeavour to place the industry on a satisfactory basis.
– And no government has done less than the present Government for the apple-growers.
– That is so. The Government has made no attempt to stabilize the industry which has struggled on without assistance.
– It had a bounty.
– Only in the last two or three years, while bounties have been granted to the wheat-farmers, including their representatives here, notably the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Nook), who has drawn wheat bounty year after year. In my opinion the fruit-growing industry is as important to our national economy as are the wheat and sugar-growing industries which for so many years have enjoyed the benefits of bounties granted or protection afforded by the Commonwealth. The fruit-!gr owing industry pays high wages and provides seasonal employment for thousands of Australian workers. During the export season thousands of workers flock to Tasmania from Victoria and New South
Wales to share in the work offering. Tasmania will contribute the largest portion of the levy to be paid on exports because that State is the largest exporter of apples and pears. It could supply the whole of the requirements of the London market. I am unable to understand why there should be any opposition to the proposal of the honorable member for Franklin in regard to the establishment of export quotas for the various States. If that proposal were adopted, it would be possible to fix the quota early in the year, and determine the shipping space required. Tasmania has always been prepared, not only to fill its own quota, but also to make good any deficiency caused by a failure of the crop in any other State. I appeal to honorable members not to allow the bill to be destroyed because of the fear that Tasmania may overshadow the other States. The case made out by the honorable member for Franklin is unchallengeable, and we ask the House to accept the practical advice he has given.
– We propose to do so.
– Then we have no argument with the honorable member; but I understand that the Assistant Minister for Commerce will not agree to the quota operating for a period of three years, or to giving additional representation to Tasmania. This industry is responsible for the employment of thousands of men, and has also been an agency for the introduction of a great amount of foreign capital into Australia. No harm would be done to the bill if the amendments foreshadowed by the honorable member for Franklin were accepted. The honorable member for Gippsland considers that it is not possible to obtain a high order of intelligence in Tasmania. That is a reflection on the intelligence of the people of that State.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable member went so far as to say that he did not think it would be possible to obtain in Tasmania a sufficient number of intelligent people.
– The honorable member knows that I said nothing of the kind.
– I understand that the honorable member, in conversation with the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) expressed the view that there is not a sufficient number of intelligent men in Tasmania properly to represent the fruit-growers on the proposed board. I flatly contradict that.
– I said nothing of the kind.
– I ask the honorable member to discuss the bill.
– I am pointing out that there are intelligent persons in Tasmania. I decline to allow to pass unchallenged the statement that there is not a sufficient number of intelligent men in that island State.
– Why continue to repeat a distortion of my remarks?
– Because I am here to defend the people of Tasmania, who, in my opinion, possess the highest degree of intelligence needed for the representation of the apple and pear industry, or any other industry. What has been said is a reflection on men who have carried this industry for years, without any assistance from those super-intelligent members of the Country party who occupy the cross benches opposite.
-Order ! I cannot permit this irrelevant discussion to continue.
– I am making out a case for the additional representation of Tasmania on the proposed board.
– On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, have I any protection against deliberate misrepresentation?
– The honorable member will have an opportunity later to make a personal explanation.
– I take exception to the charge of the honorable member for Gippsland that I have deliberately misrepresented him. I have not done so. It is not my wish to misrepresent any one in this House. Never in my life have I uttered a wilful or deliberate untruth concerning any person. I believe in playing the game as it should be played. But when I consider that any honorable member has been guilty of misrepresentation in order to defeat the amendment foreshadowed by the honorable member for Franklin, it is my duty to expose that misrepresentation. Tasmania has a greater number of men who are capable of representing the growers efficiently on this board than is to be found in any other State, because it is responsible for from 60 per cent, to 70 per cent, of the total export trade. The quality of the Tasmanian apple is unchallengeable; m fact, it is the best in the world.
I hope that the bill will be the success which the Assistant Minister and those honorable members who have spoken on it anticipate, because very great care and caution are needed to enable this great industry to keep going. I support the contention of other honorable members that the Government should make morestrenuous efforts to ascertain where markets exist for the sale of apples. That i3 a duty which it owes to the industry. Tasmania almost always has a surplus and has to depend on markets overseas for its absorption, because it is unable to dispose of the whole of its production on the Australian market. It will be the greatest sufferer if the quota- is not based on the export -for the preceding three years.
I support the bill, and the amendments foreshadowed by the honorable member for Franklin. I hope that honorable members’ who have congratulated the honorable member on the case that he has made out will assist him to make the bill workable and acceptable to !the fruitgrowers and” exporters.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. The honorable gentleman who has just resumed his seat, either wittingly or unwittingly, has misrepresented me, in that he has charged me with having reflected on the intelligence of the people of Tasmania. I did no such thing. I would dream of doing no such thing, the honorable gentleman notwithstanding. What I did say with reference .to the amendment forshadowed by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) which is designed to secure greater representation for Tasmania on the Apple and Pear *Board, was that it was more important that the growers of Tasmania should elect four men of really good calibre, who would be able to carry a good deal of weight on that board, rather than that the number of their representatives should be increased. I repeat that I would be the last mau to reflect upon the general standard of intelligence of the people of Tasmania.
.- This is a bill to provide for an Apple and Pear Board. The principal function of that board will be to make recommendations to the Minister in relation to the making of regulations for the purpose of regulating the export of apples and pears from Australia, to make reports and suggestions to the Minister with respect to any matter affecting the welfare of the fruit-growing industry, and to determine the total quantity of apples and pears that can be exported from the Commonwealth in any one year, and the basis upon which they are to be exported. A great deal of the opposition to this bill arises from the fact that it is proposed to set up a board, and a board to many primary producers means some kind of objectionable control. The producer is an individualist. He likes to go his own way, and, generally speaking, he disapproves of any form of outside control. There is a fear that the board may work on the lines of other boards in Victoria, whose actions are irritating to the primary producers. When all the facts aremade known, I am sure that this opposition will disappear. As a primary producer, I at one time shared this hostility to control by boards. It was not until I had the opportunity to travel overseas in 1935, and observed the conditions under which products were marketed in Great Britain, that I altered my opinion. I realized that Australia was, in many respects, ‘behind its competitors. On many occasions I had remarks of this kind made to me : “ When are you people in Australia going to wake up to the fact that you must market your goods in the proper fashion? When are you going to study the requirements of your clients and satisfy them ?” After seeing the way in which some of Australia’s products were marketed abroad, I came to the conclusion that some form of organization was necessary and I became an advocate of control by boards. The British market is to-day one of the last of the open markets in the world, with the result that competition is intense, and goods, if they are to realize their full value, must be of a high standard. Other nations have realized this, and have tried, by organization at home and on the British market, to ensure that the goods they supply are of the highest quality, that they are packed in the most attractive way, and are of a kind to suit the tastes of the English consumers. The days of laisser faire -as applied to production for export have gone forever. In the face of the intense struggle for markets overseas, and the international barriers which have been erected against the flow of trade, a higher degree of organization has become imperative. The days have gone by when primary producers could grow any kind of commodity, they liked, and ship it abroad in any kind of condition. If the producers are to retain a reasonable standard of living they must organize, and see that only goods of the best quality are sent overseas.
Another reason for organizing is to enable the primary producers to speak authoritatively to Ministers and members of Parliament. In the absence of such organization, it is impossible for a member or Minister to form a correct idea of the opinion of the growers as a body. To-day there exist in each State organizations representing the apple and pear growers. Some time ago, it became evident that a central body was necessary to speak for the industry as a whole, and in December of 1930 the Apple and Pear Council was formed, the first meeting of which took place in 1931. Immediately it began, with a great deal of success, to tackle the problems with which the industry was confronted. The existence of the council, which could speak for the industry throughout the whole Commonwealth, was of great value during the Ottawa Conference in 1932, in which the representative of the council played a prominent part. The council has also been successful in improving the quality of the pack. It has limited the number of varieties sent abroad, and has introduced the quota system in regard to exports from Australia, to Great Britain. Not only has the council succeeded in welding the various State organizations into one body; it has also played its part in the formation of the Empire Fruit Board in Great Britain, which is composed of representatives of producers in the United Kingdom and the
Dominions. It is interesting to note that a representative of the Empire Fruit Board was accepted by the British Board of Trade recently as official spokesman on the subject of the trade negotiations between Great Britain and the United States of America, and their effect upon the fruit industry. On that occasion, the spokesman was an Australian, who was able to deal with the subject from an Australian point of view. The representative of the Apple and Pear Council overseas, Mr. Mills, has conducted valuable investigations abroad, particularly with the idea of extending the market for our fruit in Europe. In this respect he has accumulated much valuable knowledge. In Australia, the council has been responsible for inaugurating a campaign to increase the consumption of apples and pears in this country.
The point I am emphasizing is that, in creating the board proposed in this bill, we are not doing anything different in principle from what the industry has already done itself. The Apple and Pear Council is a body voluntarily constituted by the industry to meet its requirements. Its functions are investigation, recommendation and suggestion, and the very fact that the council was appointed by the voluntary action of the growers shows that they are seized of the need for organization. I am aware that many of the growers are asking why a new board should be created. Why should not the Apple and Pear Council be allowed to continue? The answer is that the Apple and Pear Council is a voluntary organization only, with power to recommend, but with no power to give effect to its recommendations. It is to supply that defect that this bill has been introduced. It is necessary to create a board with statutory powers. A voluntary body lacks the standing and the usefulness of a statutory body. On the subject of shipping freights, the Apple and Pear Council has conducted negotiations with the shipowners, but the reaction of the owners is that, while the members of the council may be very fine people with a full knowledge of their industry, the council as an institution has no power to discharge its responsibilities to the shipping companies. Therefore, a statutory board is necessary. The matters of freight charges, and the intervals between the arrivals of ships during the export season, are of vital importance to the industry. It is also important that we should extend our market overseas, and a statutory body would have greater authority in the conduct of negotiations than would a purely voluntary organization. Whilst at the present time the Department of Commerce has power to make regulations giving effect to the recommendations of the Apple and Pear Council in regard to some matters, in regard to others it does not possess such power. It is necessary that legislation be passed in order to give it full authority in this respect.
During his second-reading speech, the Assistant Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie Cameron) stated a fact which may not be generally known to the growers, namely that regulation of the importation of fruit into the United Kingdom is certainly coming, and that will involve regulation at this end also. The growers have to make up their minds whether they would prefer that regulation to be done by a government department under the control of politicians, or by the representatives of their own industry, who are familiar with its needs. It will be a great surprise to me if the growers choose departmental regulation in preference to regulation by their own representatives.
Another fear expressed by many growers in my electorate is that the proposed board will take over the internal marketing of apples and pears in Australia, but I wish to set their fear at rest ; that will not be the case, because a clause in the bill distinctly prevents it from doing so. The board will be a producers’ body. It will be composed mainly of producers, and every three years it, will be reviewed by the producers. The representatives on the board will retire every three years and there will be elections to re-elect them or to replace them. The control of the industry will be in the hands of the industry itself. I support the amendment foreshadowed by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn) to ensure that the producers themselves should elect their representatives.
– The producers or the exporters ?
– In the majority of cases exporters are producers. The only complaint which i can level against the handling of this matter by the Assistant Minister for Commerce is that in the early stages, at any rate, he did not confer sufficiently with the growers’ organizations. A great deal of fear of untoward incidents arising out of this legislation would be removed if this board were elected on a democratic basis by the producers themselves. They would then feel that they had control of their industry, and a good deal of misconception which exists at the moment would be removed. The basis suggested by the honorable member for Flinders apparently is not satisfactory to the Assistant Minister, but I believe that a satisfactory basis could be obtained. The suggestion of the honorable member for Flinders was that the franchise should be extended to all producers having 3 acres in actual production. It is held by other honorable members, and possibly by the Assistant Minister himself, that the people who should use this franchise should be those at the exporting end of the industry. Nevertheless, I feel that if any difficulty does arise il can be overcome. I have been in contact with the organizations, and I do not misrepresent them when I say that the matter of the franchise is not one of great difficulty with them, and I believe that the difficulty could be overcome very quickly, and that the Assistant Minister could accept the amendment of the honorable member for Flinders. I hope that he will do so. If the amendment is moved I shall support it.
I foresee nothing but good arising out of this legislation, always remembering that the successful working of any board .depends entirely upon its personnel. Any form of leadership, unless it is good leadership, will not result in good to an industry. The matter of the personnel of the board should be considered very carefully by the growers - I say “ growers “ because 1 hope that it will be they who will elect the board.
The apple and pear industry is one that definitely needs to be placed on a better” footing. Like most other primary industries, it needs additional markets, and with the correct personnel and with investigations overseas, backed up by governmental support, 1 believe that additional marKets can be obtained. In the brief time in which I was in England and Germany in 1935, it was impressed on me that it should be possible to obtain additional markets for Australian goods in Europe, if the difficulties of exchange and tariff quotas could be overcome. I believe that that is not an insuperable problem, and that if we obtain additional markets we shall be able to arrange to receive payment for the goods that we sell. Expansion is necessary, not only in the apple and pear industry, but also in all other primary industries, and in my mind expansion is possible in Europe.
I join with other honorable members in paying tribute to the Assistant Minister for Commerce for the work that hb did in travelling throughout Australia to obtain the. views of the growers’ organizations, and for bringing down this bill which is generally satisfactory to all concerned.
.- Although there is no apple or pear industry in my electorate, it is an industry of primary importance in Western Australia, and I should be sadly lacking in my duty as a member for a Western Australian constituency if I did not raise my protest against at least one of the proposals of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost). Than the honorable member for Franklin, on fruit export matters, there is no honorable member of this House more capable of speaking. When he returned from his visit to Great Britain with the parliamentary delegation to the Coronation the honorable member made a most interesting speech in this House which showed the result of his inquiries into the distribution and sale of Australian fresh fruits in the United Kingdom. He showed that it amounted almost to a racket, and that the producer was the one who suffered. The honorable member can make a much more informative and interesting speech on that subject than I can, and I hope that I shall have an opportunity to hear him again on the subject. I can support the honorable member in some of the disclosures that he made. For instance, while I was in England in 1935, I had as a travelling companion on the train to Birmingham a man who represented a large bacon factory in Ireland. He told me that his firm also dealt in Australian butter and confessed that it was not sold as Australian butter. His firm mixed the Australian butter with cheaper and inferior butter from Europe and sold it as “Empire” butter. If I should continue on that line, I should be inviting interruption from Mr. Speaker, but what I have said serves to illustrate the difficulties under which Australian producers endeavour to sell their produce in Great Britain. Probably there are similar handicaps in respect of the marketing of other Australian goods. The great need is for the Australian producer to gain returns showing a commensurate profit on his costs and for the purchasers not to be skinned in the sales process by intermediaries. That is one difficult problem that will have to be tackled by the new Apple and Pear Board.
With a great deal of the speech delivered by the honorable member for Franklin I am in accord, but I join issue with him on the matter of Tasmania’s representation on the Apple and Pear Control Board and on what ho said concerning the importance of Tasmania as a producer of apples and pears compared with other States of the Commonwealth. The honorable member declared that Tasmania transcended all other States in the quantity and quality of its apples and pears, but the honorable member has not taken cognizance of what has happened in other States in recent years. I believe that I am right in saying that it was the honorable member for Franklin who once said in this House that Tasmania for many yeaTs was practically the sole exporter of apples from Australia. That may have been true then, but it is not true now. Since that time, other States have actively entered into the growing of apples and pears. Victoria, for instance, has developed a great apple and pear growing industry and I dare say that its annual yield would be at least two-thirds of the annual yield of Tasmania. Victoria, however, has a large population and most of its apples and pears are consumed locally. Western Australia and South Australia have also made great progress in’ the industry and, as the populations in those States are not large, there is a large surplus for export. The export trade of those States has developed in importance. The relative importance of the various States as exporters of apples and pears cannot be measured by rule of thumb, yet the honorable member for Franklin contends that, because, as he claimed, Tasmania is the principal exporter of apples and pears, it is entitled to greater representation on the proposed board than is provided for in the bill. He considers that, instead of four members, Tasmania should have five. 1 should not be opposed to that if I thought it was likely that Tasmania could suffer any injustice by having four members against Victoria’s two members, Western Australia’s two members or South Australia’s one member, but the kindred interest of all is such that there is not likely. to be any clash. ,For that reason, I cannot see why an extra man to represent the Tasmanian section of the industry is needed. I oppose the honorable member not because I am bigoted, but because I foresee that there would be danger in Tasmania having five men as its representatives on the board compared with two men from some of the other States. The honorable member himself raised the matter of the export quotas. He seems to think that Tasmania’s interests in this connexion would be better guarded if it had five representatives instead of four. It would be possible for the Tasmanian representatives to enlist the aid of representatives of States which are not greatly concerned with the export side of the industry to the detriment of the other States. Although I feel certain that the honorable gentleman has nothing of that sort in mind, he must recognize that it is a possibility. I do not think that the honorable member, or those who support his view, have any desire to damage the prospects of the fruit exporting industry of other States, particularly that of Western Australia.
I shall deal with Western Australia because, although a few years ago it was not considered to be a fruit-growing State, it has actually developed a very fine fruit-growing industry. It has also developed other industries which at one time were thought to be impossible of establishment there. I remember that when I first went to Western Australia in 1895 I called at a store in Perth to buy a pound of butter. I was told that none was available because the Innamincka had not arrived. At that time Western Australia depended for butter entirely upon the eastern States. Nowadays, taking the whole year round, sufficient butter is produced in Western Australia to supply all local requirements. At certain times primary produce from Western Australia is even sent to the eastern States. So much for this much-maligned State from the point of view of primary production ! Perhaps I should add that we have even sent potatoes from Western Australia to the eastern States on occasions. But Western Australia, like the other States of the Commonwealth, is largely dependent upon seasonal conditions. In this respect it is regrettable that Australia is at present suffering from a drought which has extended from Western Australia to Victoria, usually considered to be a fairly safe State.
Reverting to the apple industry, I direct the attention of honorable members to the fact that, whereas in 1924-25 Western Australia produced only 656,881 bushels of apples against Tasmania’s 2,210,000 bushels, by 1935-36 Western Australia’s production had increased to 1,235,849 bushels, and Tasmania’s to 3,950,000 bushels. Moreover, those fig’ures do not really indicate the full extent of Western Australia’s progress in this industry, for a great many orchards in that State are only now coming into full production. If the suggestion of the honorable member for Franklin were adopted, and the export quota were fixed on the returns for the last three years. Western Australia would be placed in a wretchedly unfortunate and unfair position.
I wish now to say a word about the value of our production.’ I do not speak of quality, for after all, that which matters is the amount of money that people are pre- pared to pay for the fruit they buy. In this connexion I turn to the Commonwealth Year-Book, No. 30, 1937, and remind honorable members that, as Sam Slick said, “ figures cannot lie “. In 1935-36, which is the last year .for which figures are available, the value of the apple production of Western Australia was £504,158, and that of Tasmania, was £857,400. In other words, although the production of Western Australia was only one-third that of Tasmania, Western Australia received about £5 for every £8 that Tasmania received for the apples that were sold. It must be apparent in these circumstances that the adoption of the suggestion of the honorable member for Franklin, to take the preceding three years as the period for determining the export quota of the different States, would be most unfair to Western Australia. It has already awakened a great deal of opposition in Western Australia, as indicated in the following telegram which came to hand to-day from the highest authority on this subject in Western Australia, Mr. Wise, the Minister for Agriculture : -
Regarding apple and pear bill learn that proposed move delete words applied uniformly throughout Australia and substitute -words on the basis average exports from various States last three years. Strongly protest this proposal as distinctly unfair this State with our fluctuating and increasing production exports last three years being: 1936, 619,129: 1937, 429,660;. 1938, 337,785. Therefore if proposal accepted our quota would be 462,191 cases. This year’s crops estimated 1,500,000. With quota suggested we would have a surplus after supplying local requirements of 402,809 cases. Rather than proposal agreed to would prefer hill thrown out. Have wired Cameron similarly.
That is a plain statement which merits careful attention. In the face of this protest from Western Australia, I cannot believe that the honorable member foi Franklin will persist in his proposal. In any case I should be failing in my duty to Western Australia if I . did not make a protest against it. The board that is to be appointed should be given a free hand to judge fairly as between the various States, and it should not be tied to a quota which would be ruinous to certain States. - Mr. GARDNER (Robertson) [4.37]. - Although I am not directly concerned with the apple and pear industry, I have a detailed knowledge of certain other branches of the fruit-growing industry. I also have some experience of the genera] principles underlying export control boards of the kind now proposed to be established to deal with apples and pears. These boards, as the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) pointed out, are not an innovation ; for, in respect of some primary industries at any rate, they have been operating for about fourteen years. The honorable member himself had a great deal to do with the adoption of this method of dealing with our exportable surpluses of various kinds. In my opinion he has a more intimate knowledge of this subject than hasany other honorable member of the House, and he has done a great deal to organize our primary industries so that they may have a somewhat better chance than they would otherwise have to develop in association with our secondary industries which have the benefit of high protective duties.
I feel under some obligation to bring under the notice of the House a protest against the introduction of this bill by the Citrus Growers Defence Association of New South Wales, and the Hawkesbury Citrus- Growers Association, not because I, personally, agree with the views expressed, but because I feel that, in a democratic community, minorities have the right to express their views in a free and unfettered way. Although the two organizations to which I have referred are antagonistic to legislation of the kind now before the House, it is only fair that I should also say that the Fruit Growers Federation of New South Wales, of which I also have some intimate knowledge, is strongly in favour of it. The Citrus Growers Defence Association, and the Hawkesbury Citrus Growers Association, which is related to the Defence Association, have requested me to bring under the notice of the House their views which are expressed in the following words: -
Few of our members are directly concerned in this legislation but indirectly, and as a matter of principle, we regard these boards as forms of the “ new despotism.” They are utterly objectionable to «s who hold by the British tradition, of civil liberty.
These people also consider that the introduction of this bill is entirely unwarranted in view of the decision of the electors of Australia in the recent marketing referendum. As I believe in minorities having the right to express their opinion, I submit these views to honorable members, but I make it clear that they are not my own personal views. I supported an affirmative vote on the marketing proposals of the Government, and I believe that the bulk of the primary producers in my electorate also voted for the affirmative. I should adopt the same course again if another referendum were held. I do not consider that the decision of the people on that referendum justifies the assumption that the introduction of a measure of this description, which is clearly in accordance with the Constitution, is unwarranted.
The citrus-growers, as represented by the Citrus Growers Defence Association, are of the opinion that if this bill is passed it may be only a little while before the principle embodied in it will be applied to the citrus-growing industry: I can sympathize with those citrus growers in regard to one matter referred to in the bill. They fear that if an apple and pear board can be established without the growers having the right to vote on the appointment of their own representatives, a citrus board may subsequently be appointed under the same conditions. It would be wise to allow the growers to elect their own representatives to boards of this description.
I was very interested in the speech of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) on this bill. We recognize that he speaks with authority on the subject, and any amendments that he proposes to the bill at the committee stage will receive my careful consideration. It is, of course, absolutely necessary that our primaryproducing industries shall be organized, and that producers who are not prepared voluntarily to accept a fair share of the export trade which, generally speaking, is not so profitable as the local trade, shall be compelled to do so in the interests of the whole industry. I hinted earlier that 1 am sorry that democratic principles have been departed from, and during the committee stage I shall welcome an opportunity to vote for the insertion of a clause in the bill to provide that the growers themselves shall have the right to elect their representatives on the board. With the present state of affairs, marketing means much to the people of Australia, probably more than to people in any other country in the world. I am not one-eyed in this matter. In dealing with primary industries in this country we must also be mindful of the progress of secondary industries and of the fact thai they provide us with a good home market. As secondary industries expand so does the home market increase. We cannot look to Great Britain alone to absorb our surplus production. Not only will farmers and” producers suffer if we do not adopt orderly marketing schemes for the disposal of our products, but also the national wealth will suffer. In times of depression .when the national income is mainly derived from the sale overseas ot our exportable surplus, only the orderly marketing of our surplus products can keep the country solvent. I wish the measure now before the House every success.
.- As one who has been engaged for many years in fruit-growing, not necessarily the growing of apples and pears, but the growing of fruits of other types, I desire to congratulate the Assistant Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie Cameron) upon the bill that he has presented to this House. While it is highly desirable that there should be organization in all forms of primary industry, the fruit-growing industry is perhaps the most difficult to organize because of its very scattered nature. The wide variety of fruits produced, and the individuality of marketing methods make fruit-growing very difficult to shepherd into organiza- ti ons such as have been established by the butter, sugar and various other primary industries which market their produce through co-operative organization in a wholesale manner. The Government has taken a step in the right direction in presenting this bill for the consideration of honorable members. I do not propose to say very much about it except to offer a few comments on some of the suggestion’s put forward by honorable members. First of all, the question has been raised as to the method of election of members of the proposed board. A great deal has been said about the democratic principle of permitting the growers to elect their own representatives. I have had a fair amount of experience of this system of election, and I offer the very definite opinion that the method proposed in this bill is probably one that will result in the greatest efficiency. The method of electing growers’ representatives by a poll of producers scattered over a wide area means nothing, because seldom is a particular grower sufficiently well-known throughout his State to enable growers to gauge his capacity to represent them. If persons are nominated by growers’ associations, who already have had experience in marketing and other forms of organization,- it is much more likely that an efficient man will be selected than one whose sole recommendation may be his particular popularity. It is one thing to be’ a grower and to know how to grow a crop and pack a case of apples or pears, but it is another thing to know how to dispose of those particular products. They are two separate departments. The men that the board will need are those who have had experience in business and possess a knowledge of the marketing side of the industry.- I am particularly pleased that the bill provides that the board shall not directly engage in trade by selling or dealing in commerce generally. I believe that that has caused the ultimate downfall of a good many organizations which, instead of restricting their activities to directing and controlling a particular industry, have become over-ambitious to utilize their trading powers. It is unquestionable that if this board can function as we believe it should be able to function, it will probably confer benefit, not only on the growers of apples and pears, but also on. the growers of other fruits, because if one particular fruit is glutting the overseas market and its surplus is thrown on the home market, not only are apples and pears depressed in price, but the prices of oranges, pineapples and other fruits also fall. If anything is done to assist in straightening out the problems of the apple and pear growers it will automatically assist in solving the problems of the other fruit industries. So far as the question of the rights of Tasmania and other small States to fix the quota is concerned, whilst one cannot do other than be sympathetic with the claims put forward, there is also a very strong case to be made out for States which have not the good fortune to have their orchards in the producing stage. I refer honorable members to the position of the fruit-growing industry in Western Australia. When I recently visited that State I was informed that there are fairly substantial areas under fruit which have not yet come into production. If a quota be fixed it will be most unfair to those men who have waited for six and seven years who, because they were a little late in entering the industry, would find that they were placed at a disadvantage if a quota were based on present exports. The suggestion is that this board should determine the quotas it thinks best in the interests of Australia, having regard to existing conditions at the time they are fixed. It has also been suggested that there is danger to States such as Tasmania in the lack of major or sufficient representation on the board. My experience as a member of such boards - and I have been a member of similar boards in the past - is that very rarely have I known a decision to be made which is not unanimous, irrespective of from where the members of the board came. When members of various States get together, the moderate and the extreme views finally merge into one of common benefit. I believe that that will be the experience of the proposed Apple and Pear Board. I do not propose to labour this subject further. I think that the Government, in introducing this bill, has done something for the benefit not only of the apple and pear growers but also of the fruit-growing industry as a whole, by attempting to bring about a system of compulsory organization amongst fruitgrowers. If it had been left to the growers themselves to. devise a scheme and agree upon it, and if the Assistant Minister for Commerce had not taken a very firm stand on certain principles, this bill would never have reached the stage it has. In dealing with any organization of growers, it is necessary for a Minister at times to override many objections and, after having consulted, and ascertained the general views of all growers engaged in the industry, to take a very broad view of what, in his opinion, is best for the industry. The method of election of the board will be thoroughly dealt with during the committee stage. 1 congratulate the Government on what it has already done in this respect.
. - in reply - First, I desire to thank honorable members on both sides of the House for their kindly reference to myself. I only wish to add that whatever 1 have done in regard to this bill has been done in accordance with 4 the policy of the Government. So far as my own individual action is concerned, I have simply carried out the job for which 1 was selected. I visited certain States and endeavoured to place the apple and pear industry on what I believe ought to be a reasonably sound footing. The question has been asked inside and outside of the Parliament, “Who asked for this bill?” 1 take the view, and hold it very strongly, that it is not for the Government to allow any industry to go on and on along the downward track until it verges on a state of insolvency and has to seek governmental assistance. I cannot accept that viewpoint. May I say that for years past the Commonwealth has paid out more than £500,000 in bounties for the assistance of the fruit-growing industry. Only the day before yesterday a representative gathering of fruit-growers from four States in the Commonwealth came to me in this building and asked for a bounty to be paid in respect of last year’s exports. When the Commonwealth has already paid out £500,000 by way of assistance to the industry - and I do not for a moment suggest that that payment compensates it for losses incurred in past years - I say that we have seriously to regard the desirability of continuing to levy taxation on the whole of the community to provide bounties for one industry- which is not prepared to go in for a measure of self-help. The Government is no longer prepared to do so. One of, the factors militating against the successful development of our primary industries - and in this respect the apple and pear growing industry is no exception - is that in a majority of the States the growers have not gone in for any form of organization or self-help, or made estimates of their future possibilities, as I think they should have done.
Several honorable members from both sides of the House have made suggestions in regard to the fixation of quotas. Clause 14, which is one of the only two controversial clauses in the bill, was deliberately drafted to give the greatest possible freedom of action to the board in the fixation of quotas. My experience is that as soon as one attempts to define a thing in law one automatically limits it. In regard to the interpretation of the meaning of words I am always reminded that Russell Lowell said -
When you’ve done your best the words’ meaning to smother,.
The darn things will up and mean something or other.
That is equally true when an attempt is made to define the procedure to be adopted, particularly by a board. There is an old saying that cards will beat the maker. It is equally true in regard to legislation. When limiting definitions are inserted the hands of the authority entrusted with the task of interpreting them are tied. Therefore I ask honorable members interested in this bill and not particularly interested in the apple and pear industry to consider seriously during the week-end the wisdom of tying the hands of the proposed board. Every point that has been made by honorable members on both sides of the House will, I am sure, be taken into consideration by the members of the board when it is elected. I believe that the members of the board will look at the apple and pear industry as an Australian industry and not as one belonging to any particular State. The actual fact is, that they are all in it, for good or for ill. I believe that when they get round a table and in the light of all the facts are able to investigate the whole of the possibilities, there will be a fair Australian outlook.
The other point raised is in respect of the vexed subject of ballots. I have heard this afternoon many references to democracy. Far be it from me to say that there is anything wrong with democracy. I simply say that I have not yet discovered any method by which democracy may be brought into business. What is needed in business is a fair measure of common sense. In that regard, I agree emphatically with the remarks of the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony). To begin with, if members are to be elected by ballot, there must be a franchise on Avhich the vote can be granted. Travelling through the different States, I found considerable differences of opinion among the growers themselves as to what the franchise should be. Even to-day one honorable member said that the franchise should be on the basis of one vote to a given number of acres of orchard land. Some have advocated the basis of a given number of cases exported, while others have suggested that the basis should be that of production throughout the year. There is also the further suggestion that the man who produces, exports, or owns a larger quantity of fruit should have dual or plural votingpower. With the growers themselves so hopelessly divided on such an important matter, the proper plan would be for them to meet and decide what is a fair franchise. With that in view, and believing that it is difficult almost to the point of impossibility for this House to lay down a franchise that will be satisfactory to every one, I came to the conclusion that the best method to adopt in the election of the first board would be for the Commonwealth Government to select representatives from a panel. If that course be followed, there will be nothing to prevent the holding of a’ ballot of the growers in every State. Each State could make its own provision for ballots. Only two States have, to my knowledge, a worthwhile organization of representatives of this industry. The other States have rival organizations, and I am somewhat afraid that if the Parliament decides, as it has a right to do, to disregard rny advice and insist on a ballot, the results may be other than some honorable gentlemen think they may be.
Then there is the matter of review al the end of three years. The ‘ bill has been criticized because it does not provide for a review by means of a poll among the growers. My objection to such a poll in a matter like this is that the average individual grower is so deeply concerned with the production of his crop that he has not the time, and certainly not the opportunity, to go into the very vexed and intricate subject of marketing possibilities in different parts of the world. He has not even the chance to investigate marketing possibilities within Australia. The average grower in one State knows very little of the opportunities that exist in other States. Therefore, having investigated the matter thoroughly, I believe that, whatever the attitude of the House may be, a better method of securing a review of the working of this board would be by a conference of growers’ representatives, before whom could be placed all of the facts, some of which I take it would be confidential, and could not be broadcast to every grower in the Commonwealth. Therefore, I believe that the ideal method would be a review by the selected, or elected, representatives of the organizations in the different States. In any form of legislation, however, we have to choose between the ideal on the one hand and the practical on the other hand. Consequently, we shall have to watch the trend of opinion in the committee discussions next week.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and committed pro forma.
International Relations: Emergency Defence Measures - Sales Tax on Imitation Vinegar - Dummy Australian Company - Invalid and Old-age Pensions Office, and Federal Members’’ Rooms, Adelaide.
– I move-
That the House do now adjourn.
It has not been possible to make a statement earlier regarding the defence precautions which were taken in the recent emergency, for fear that, it might have been misconstrued in respect of both the maintenance of public confidence and the delicate international situation that existed. I should, however, in the first place, like to express my appreciation of the spirit displayed by the Australian people. Their calmness and confidence during the threatening period were both reassuring and helpful. It can reasonably be claimed that this public display of confidence reflected the trust that was reposed in the governments of the Empire and in the armed forces of the Commonwealth to play their part in any emergency that might have arisen.
I also express appreciation of the attitude adopted by the Australian press, in refraining from publishing alarmist rumours or disclosing precautionary defence measures which were in hand.
In such a vital matter as defence, both Parliament and the people are. entitled to know the degree of preparedness which existed to safeguard the Commonwealth against aggression, and I propose to give a review of the plans that were made and the measures that were in hand and contemplated.
Ordinarily it is not possible to give much publicity to the nature and the details of defence plans. I assure the Australian people, however, that a very comprehensive plan of an Australia-wide nature exists in relation to all phases of national defence in an emergency. This plan sets out the steps to be taken by each department of the Commonwealth during a period of strained international relations or upon the outbreak of war, for co-ordinating action by the various Commonwealth and State departments, as soon as the situation becomes threatening. Those responsible for the respective sections of this plan bring the various measures into effect with the utmost smoothness and expedition.
To give some idea of the comprehensive character of these plans, it is sufficient to mention the main headings under which they operate. They are: naval, army, air force and man power measures ; air raid precautions; intelligence; the control of shipping; civil aviation; railways; medical services; aliens and persons of hostile associations; censorship and publicity; the regulation and marketing of products, and the provision of supplies; trade and blockades; finance and insurance, including the insurance of shipping and cargoes ; treatment of enemy shipping and aircraft, &c.
I might also explain that these plans are divided into the following three stages : -
At that period the Government was confronted with serious difficulties, because no forecast was possible of what was likely to happen, yet it was under the obligation to carry out precautionary measures which would ensure preparedness for any emergency that might arise.
It has been a matter of national gratification that the measures in view did not pass the preliminary stage.
At the meeting of the Council of Defence held on the 26th August, a comprehensive survey was made of the progress of our defence plans. We were then able to complete certain organizations, of which full advantage could be taken when the emergency period arose.
As the navy is a permanent force, its transition from peace to a war footing is a much simpler task than that confronting the army, which in the main is a militia force.
The ships of the Royal Australian Navy, with the exception of the sloops Yarra and Swan, were concentrated at Sydney to complete full war stowage of stores, fuel, &c. The Yarra and Swan, which were in Western Australian waters, proceeded to Fremantle, and the balance of the war complement of active service ratings was sent there by special train.
Action was taken to bring forward and commission with active service ratings all the ships in reserve, namely theStuart, the Vendetta, the Waterhen, the Kurumba and the Penguin. Orders were given for the Adelaide, which is at present undergoing reconstruction, to be completed in the shortest possible time by working double shifts. This course is being continued, with the result that the Adelaide will be in commission within the next few weeks.
To guard vulnerable naval points, the appropriate sections of the local defence schemes were brought into operation, using volunteer Royal Australian naval reservists.
To provide for the functioning of Darwin as a naval base, plans were prepared for the despatch of a supply ship, with provisions for the whole of the service and the civil population of this important centre, numbering some 16,000 people. That is the civil population, plus those associated with the defence organization. It was no small task to prepare the whole of the organization and supplies to meet what would be needed in the event of a serious emergency arising.
With all ships of the Royal Australian Navy on a war footing opportunity was taken to give them a period of training which has now been completed.
The Permanent Force personnel were ready at two hours’ notice to man the fixed coast and anti-aircraft defences. Steps were taken to place the armament and equipment of those defences in a state of readiness. I particularly emphasize that, because of statements which have been published in the press by persons who claim to have known exactly what was happening, suggesting that no preparations had been made and that nothing could be done. All Permanent Forces were instructed to return to their war stations. Certain mobilization stores and ammunition were moved to their war locations, and plans were prepared for reinforcing remote and vital centres by air.
Approval was given to recruiting the , militia forces up to the peace training establishments of 42,000. This provides for an increase throughout the Commonwealth of about 7,000 personnel for coast and anti-aircraft defences, and for increases in other units. Arrangements were made with the Postal Department to provide signal communications to coast defences and other services. Guards were arranged for the protection of both military and civil vulnerable points.
Plans were made for the strategical re-distribution of the air force considered necessary for an emergency, and for the taking over of civil aircraft. Action to accelerate workshop production, and to bring the serviceability of all -aircraft to the maximum was initiated. Precautions were taken to safeguard air force establishments by increasing the guards, and for additional protection at civil aerodromes.
All preliminary steps were taken to speed up production of the munitions factories to the limit of capacity within the shortest possible period, as were additional police precautions for the safeguarding of all munitions establishments. These measures demonstrated the great value of the plans prepared by the Principal Supply Officers’ Committee for industrial organization for the production of munitions in an emergency. Under war conditions, vast quantities of munitions and equipment are expended. Therefore, it is necessary to organize industry so that it can rapidly change to war production should the necessity arise. Valuable work has also been done by the committee dealing with the control and rationing of oil and fuel supplies in an emergency.
One of the most serious disabilities experienced was the fact that, while the Federal Parliament and political administration are located in Canberra, defence head-quarters, with all the chiefsofstaff. is situated at Victoria Barracks, Melbourne. It is impossible to overstate the disabilities that this brought about, and emphasizes the need for the transfer to Canberra at the earliest possible date of Defence Central Administration, consisting of a total staff of 825 persons. The system of communication has been improved by a teleprinter system between the offices of the Minister for Defence in Canberra arid the secretary of the Department in Melbourne. This enables messages to be transmitted instantaneously and secretly.
Liaison officers were nominated by each department, and attached to defence headquarters to ensure complete co-ordination between all Commonwealth departments and the State departments. In this way plans were completed to control transport, storage and distribution of all supplies, the organization of hospitals and other medical services, and the protection of all public utilities.
It is desired publicly to acknowledge the helpful co-operation given by all. the departments, including State Police Departments, shipping organizations, wireless authorities, and the prompt and expeditious execution of the activities for which they are responsible in their respective spheres.
The experience gained from the emergency is too valuable to be lost, and it is important that its results should be translated into the improvements shown to be possible. With this object in view a meeting of the Chiefs-of-Staff, Secretary for Defence, Controller-General of Munitions Supply, Chairman of the Principal Supply Officers’ Committee and the Inspector’General of the Military Forces was held on the 30th September, when a very full discussion ensued as to what had been revealed by the experience of the preceding few days, and steps have been taken to rectify any weaknesss discovered.
It is desired to record the Government’s appreciation of the devotion to duty displayed by all members of the navy, army, air force and civil staffs during the recent emergency. The Defence Committee, composed of the ChiefsofStaffs of the three services and the Secretary of the Department, was in almost continuous session reviewing and coordinating the measures for which they were responsible in the initiation of the various plans. The Naval, Military, Air and Munitions Supply and Civil Avia-tion Boards also had under constant review the action to be taken by them. Commanders and staffs of the formations and units were attending to the initial step to be taken in an emergency. Officers of the Prime Minister’s Department, especially the cable section, and my personal staff, worked almost continuously under great pressure, and I express my appreciation of their keenness and efficiency so reassuring to me as the Minister responsible for defence.
I emphasize that this review has been confined to the defence measures carried out in the recent emergency. I shall give particulars of the work accomplished to date under the programme when the Defence estimates are before the House.
.- Some time ago, I brought under the notice of the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) the position of those manufacturers of imitation vinegar who were being called upon by the Taxation Department to make retrospective payments of sales tax on their commodities right back to 1934. On that occasion, I raised the question whether imitation vinegar should continue to be taxed, seeing that another product closely akin to it was exempt. The Treasurer has supplied me -with an answer, and I appreciate his effort to make the payments as easy as passible, but I still maintain that it is most unfair to require these people to make retrospective payments of tax because the Taxation Commissioner did not, in the first place, correctly determine whether or not the commodity was liable to tax. They have no objection to paying the tax from the date of the amended interpretation, which was about twelve months ago, but they object to being called upon to pay it as far back as 1934. It would be a grave injustice to insist upon it, because the manufacturers are unable now to recoup themselves for the cost of the tax. “When they made and sold the commodity, they had no idea that this demand would be made upon them. I have frequently heard honorable members on the Government side of the House object strongly to any suggestion that retrospective taxation should be imposed. I suggest that the Treasurer might give favorable consideration to this application, seeing that originally the fault lay with his department.
– With reference to the statement of Mr. Forgan Smith, Premier of Queensland, as to certain information having been given by him to the Commonwealth Government in relation to the formation of a “ dummy “ company in Australia to supply to foreign countries vital information regarding Australia’s ore and other resources, the position is that, in March, 1938, certain inquiries under the Bankruptcy Act were being made by the Commonwealth Investigation Branch inBrisbane, .and, at the request of the inspector-in-charge of that branch, permission was granted by the State Premier for the inspector of the Investigation
Branch to peruse the State Department’s files concerning certain persons. These files appeared to disclose an interest by certain aliens, not only in mineral deposits, but also in other matters, and the information gained from a perusal of the files was generally confirmatory of information previously gleaned by the Investigation Branch. After considering the whole of the information, the Commonwealth Government has no evidence of any breach of the law having occurred, and is satisfied that no further action is called for at present.
It may be added that, .when the Premier’s recent statement was first published, it was assumed that it related to some information which had just been forwarded to the Commonwealth Govern* ment, and not to information which, at the request of a Commonwealth officer, he had. made available seven months ago. In order to place the matter beyond doubt, however, a telegram was dispatched to the Premier on the 14th October, asking for any recent information in his possession. On the 17th October, the Acting Prime Minister received from the Premier a copy of the information which the Premier had made available to the Investigation Branch, at its request, in March last. As already stated, this information has been considered, and the Government is satisfied that no further action is called for at present, but the position is. being watched.
.- I desire to call the attention of the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) to a letter dated the 14th October, 1938, which I have just received, notifying me of the change of address of the Pensions Office in Adelaide. The letter is as follows : -
I have to advise that as from Tuesday the 18th October. 1038, the address of the Pensions and Maternity Allowance Branch will be as under - 10th Floor,
In my opinion, the 10th floor of any building is not a fit and proper place for offices to which old-age and invalid pensioners are required to go. Is it fair to expect invalids and persons up to 80 years of age to ascend ten floors for an interview? In the past they have some- times had difficulty in ascending to the second floor of the building in Post Officeplace, where the office was situated. The new offices could only be one storey higher, and I do not know why they were not put there. They should be on a ground floor. I do not wish to complain, but I cannot refrain from pointing out that, in Adelaide, the accommodation provided in the Federal Members’ Rooms is wholly inadequate. There are only two rooms, and if one brings any one in for an interview, the place is crowded. For” the last seven years I have done my work at home. It is hoped that when the new Parliament is finished we shall have room there. In regard to the Pensions Office, I seriously suggest that something should be done.
-I also desire to refer to the .position of the manufacturers of imitation vinegar who are being called upon to pay retrospective sales tax. In the circumstances, this amounts to a real hardship. Before the Government granted exemption from sales tax on vinegar, manufacturers were using this imitation vinegar, and making returns for sales tax in the ordinary way. Then it was announced that, in accordance with the general policy of exempting foodstuffs from sales tax, vinegar would be exempt, and manufacturers assumed that this covered imitation vinegar also. These manufacturers in good faith continued to make, their monthly sales tax returns omitting all reference to vinegar, imitation or otherwise. The error was not noticed by the officials, I venture to think, because they shared the impression of the manufacturers that imitation vinegar was exempt. It is a moot question whether the product described as imitation vinegar should not properly come under the heading of vinegar and be exempt. To impose the tax retrospectively imposes a doubly grave hardship, because not only do the manufacturers have to make up the arrears, but also they sold their product at lower prices in the belief that tax was not payable oh it.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) and the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) have mentioned the matter of the imposition of sales tax on imitation vinegar. There is a very clear distinction between vinegar and imitation vinegar. The former is the product of fermentation, whereas imitation vinegar is a diluted organic acid.
– It is harmful to people who use it.
– Yes, I have heard it said that from a health point of view that is so. I thought that I had cleared up this trouble in replies to letters which I have received from honorable gentlemen, but, in the light of what the honorable member for Hindmarsh has said, I shall refresh my memory about it. I do not want the honorable member to assume that I accept his statement that the reason for the turmoil arises out of a departmental mistake. That is not so. I shall write individually to the honorable members about this matter.
The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey) complained about the invalid and old-age pensions branch in Adelaide being situated on the tenth floor of a new building. I do not know the building, but I expect that it contains a lift, and it is easier for people to go ten stories in a lift than one story on the stairs.
– Some aged people have fear of lifts, and will not enter them.
– I can imagine that. The amount of floor space on the ground floor of a building on a central street in Adelaide is limited, and in order to get a central office I expect the department has been obliged to go above the ground floor. I shall look into the matter and advise the honorable member.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers ‘ were presented : -
River Murray Waters Act - River Murray Commission - Report for year 1937-38.
Ordered to be printed.
Aircraft Personnel - Exchange of Notes between United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and India, and Belgium regarding Documents of Identity for Aircraft Personnel (Brussels, 29th April, 1938).
Luxemburg - Treaty regarding Extradition - Supplementary convention between United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, and Luxemburg (Luxemburg 23rd January, 1937).
Stamp Laws, International Convention in connexion with -
Bills of Exchange and Promissory Notes (with Protocol) (Geneva, 7th June, 1930).
Cheques (with Protocol) (Geneva, 19th March, 1931).
House adjourned at 6.35 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Mr. Lyons (through Sir Earle Page). - The answer to the honorable member’s questionsis as follows : -
No proposal has yet been submitted to the
Commonwealth Government, and the Commonwealth Government is not in a position to indicate its attitude until particulars and information relating to any such proposal are received.
Post Office at Lower Mitcham.
Mr.Price asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
y asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
n asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
What amount is to be spent on the defence programme for the current financial year in each of the six States of the Commonwealth ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
It is estimated that the total defence provision of £16,800,000 for 1938-39 will be allocated between the several States as under. The allocation between the States is made for the purposes of authorization of expenditure, but it does not follow that all expenditure for supplies and other like services will be incurred within the amounts shown against each State, as this will be governed by such factors as location of contract or suitable sources of supply: -
y asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– A reply will be furnished to the honorable member as early as possible.
n asked the Attorney-
General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Housing for Postal Employees on Trans-Continental Railway Line.
d asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
-Inquiries are being made, and a reply will be furnished to the honorable member as early as possible.
n asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s asked the Minister for the “Interior, upon notice -
Has the Government arrived at a decision regarding a quota system suggested in connexion with the present requests for an extension of foreign immigration to Australia?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The question of a quota system has not yet received consideration by the Government.
k asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The Postmaster-General has supplied the following information : -
Hoop Pine and Cedar.
Mr.White. - On the 12th October, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Green) asked the following questions, upon notice -
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
(b)New South Wales.
The quantity of cedar timber produced in this State during the put five years was negligible,
Queensland cedar timber is at present being sold ex timber yards at Sydney at the followingretail prices: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 October 1938, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1938/19381020_reps_15_157/>.