15th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon.G.J. Bell) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to inform the House that yesterday I handed to His Excellency the Governor-General my resignation as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. His Excellency accepted the resignation, and asked me to undertake the task of forming a new government. I acceded to this request, and have formed a new government of which the members are as follows: -
Treasurer - HonorableR. G.Casey, D.S.O., M.C.
Minister for the Interior - Honorable J. McEwen.
Vice-President of the Executive Council - Senator the Honorable G. McLeay.
Minister for Repatriation and Health - Senator the Honorable H. S. Foll.
Minister without portfolio assisting the Prime Minister and administering External Territories - Honorable J. A. Perkins.
Minister without portfolio assisting the Minister for Commerce - Honorable V. C. Thompson.
Minister without portfolio assisting the Treasure) - Senator the Honorable Allan N. MacDonald.
Mr. Perkins will assist the Prime Minister by receiving deputations and undertaking other work associated with the Prime Minister’s Department. He will also administer external territories on behalf of the Prime Minister.
Mr. Thompson will assist the Minister for Commerce and will deal with organizations controlling primary produce, and matters which entail Government assistance to industries.
Senator Allan MacDonald will be attached to the Treasurer, and will administer the acts relating to invalid and old-age pensions, maternity allowances, pensions and retiring allowances, superannuation and employees’ compensation.
It is proposed that a new department shall be created, entitled the Department of Civil Aviation, Defence and Other Works. This will necessitate an amendment of the Ministers of State Act, 1935, to provide that the maximum number of Ministers of State shall be increased to eleven. The Government proposes to ask Parliament to authorize this amendment of the act and, on the passing of the bill, to recommend to His Excellency the Governor-General that the new department shall be created. Until the act is amended in the direction indicated, and the new department is created, Mr. Thorby will administer the functions which it is proposed shall be allotted to the new department. When the new department is created, Mr. Thorby will be appointed as its Minister.
The Postmaster-General (Mr. Archie Cameron) will represent the Minister for Repatriation and Health in this House.
- by leave - I, this afternoon, sent the following letter to the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) : -
My dearPrime Minister,
I was surprised to read in the press this morning in an “official announcement” attributed to you that, inter alia, “It was proposed that a senior Cabinet group should deal with major matters of national significance and government policy. The remainder of the Cabinet would be divided into two subcommittees to be presided overby one of the three senior Cabinet Ministers “. The names of the l.’rime Minister, the Minister for Commerce, the Attorney-General, the Minister for External Affairs, the Treasurer, and the Minister for Civil Aviation, defence and other works, were mentioned as comprising the Cabinet group.
had intended to question the wisdom of such action in putting government policy into the hands of a coterie as toeing a departure from the best democratic principles, and did suggest, after you had mentioned that Iwas to be a member of such a Cabinet group, that if expedition in attention to Cabinet matters wasthe objective, it could be attained by more ordered discussion.
Immediately after the Cabinet meeting you sent for me and informed me that a mistake had been made and that I would not be one of the Ministers taking the responsibility for policy.
I pointed out to you that to allow Australian tariff matters and the welfare of secondary industries to toe subordinatedto a group on which the Customs Minister was not represented was tomake this important branch of government, responsible as it is for the protection of Australian industries and the welfare of so many of its citizens, as well as for the collection of thebulk of Commonwealth revenue, merely an administrative department dominated by an inner group.
In justice to these considerations and the preservation of a protective policy, which I have endeavoured to carry out -for nearly six years.I feel thatI could no longer hold the Trade and Customsportfolio under such conditions.
As you arc aware I have alsobeenin disagreement with the Government’s policy on Defence for some timepast, but, as you know, did not wish to embarrass the Government by resigning during the period of the censure motion.
Your recent action, so soon after the reconstruction, in subordinating so importanta branch of Australia’s economy to an inner group of Cabinet,makesmy position now untenable, and consequently I tender my resignation.
– by leave - Ihad hoped that the honorable member would have awaited the receipt of my reply to his communication before making an announcement in this House.
– The right honorable gentleman had my letter at 2 o’clock to-day, and had plenty of time in which to reply to it before the House met.
– The honorable member will receive his reply in due course. This is the letter that I propose to send to him -
I am in receipt of your letter tendering’ your resignation from the Cabinet. 1 have no desire to enter into a disagreeable controversy with you, but certain of thestate- ments in your letter call for blunt comment. You refer to the proposal for a Policy Committee of Cabinet as something which is designed to put government policy into the hands ofa coterie.
– The letter proceeds-
You know this to be quite untrue, for only this.morning in Cabinet in your presence I made it clear that while, for reasons of promptness and time-saving, matters of policy would in the . first instance be thrashed out by the committee, the results of their deliberations would in all cases bo brought to Cabinet, to which the final responsibility for decision would attach.
– The right honorable gentleman knows what that means.
– It means what it says, I go on to say -
Moreover, it is interesting to note that your resignation was not tendered while you were (as was tentatively decided this morning) a member of the Policy Committee, but was tendered only when you discovered that there was to bea change and that the Minister for Defence wasto take your place.
– I made my protest in Cabinet.
– The letter continuesThe welfare of Australia’s secondary industries will in no sense beprejudiced by the decision to have a Policy Committee. The policy of the Government in relation to secon dary industries remains unchanged, and the Minister for Trade and Customs will - as in the past - have every opportunity of submitting recommendations and contributing to decisions.
I should add that your attitude comes as no surprise after the discreditable manner in which only yesterday, you indicated your annoyance at the Treasurer being placed above you in the order of precedence in the Cabinet.
– That is despicable. It was because the right honorable gentleman had not told me about it.
– The letter concludes as follows : -
Your statement that yon did not wish to embarrass the Government by resigning during the period of the censure motion is inexplicable to me. You did not resign when the censure motion was determined. You, in fact, accepted office in the new administration, and were duly sworn in.No now matter of policy has been decided by the Government since then, and your resignation can therefore be related only to the personal issues to which I have already referred.
I am forwarding your resignation to His Excellency the Governor-General with a recommendation that it be accepted as on and from to-day.
– I ask leave to make a statement.
– On what matter ?
Honorable members interjecting,
– I insist that honorable members remain silent.
– On every occasion when I have asked for leave to make a statement, the Opposition has demanded that I should mention the matter on which J desired to speak.
– Leave may be refused. Is there any objection to the Acting Leader of the Opposition being granted leave to make a statement?
Honorable members of the Opposition interjecting.
– The Acting Leader of the Opposition may, if he wishes, mention the matter to which he desires to refer, but the House has the right to refuse leave.
– I desire to speak concerning the reconstruction of the Cabinet and the statements made subsequently regarding it.
– As that is a matter solely for the Cabinet, I object to the granting of leave.
– The Opposition allowed the Prime Minister to make a statement.
Leave not given.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. I point out that the letter addressed to me by the Prime Minister, and read in the House a few minutes ago, was not received by me until this moment, when it was brought to me here. The Prime Minister referred to a “discreditable incident but I did not think any Prime Minister would refer in Parliament to something which happened at Government House during the swearing-in of Ministers.
– The honorable member must confine his remarks to a personal explanation.
– When I heard the names of the Ministers read out I asked whether a mistake had not been made, and I was assured by the Prime Minister that there had been no mistake. I pointed out how embarrassing the position was for me, as that was my first opportunity to inquire. I accepted the position, however, was sworn in, and worked in Cabinet to-day. The inner group policy I read of in the press and, arising out of this matter of principle, I left the Cabinet. I told the Prime Minister when I resigned that my resignation had nothing to do with the incident of yesterday. I am sorry that the Prime Minister has dragged in a personal matter to obscure the real reason for my resignation.
Mr. FORDE (Capricornia). - I move -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent him from making a statement to the House.
I have submitted this motion to enable me to ma ku a statement regarding the reconstruction of the Cabinet, and the subsequent statements concerning it. 1 intend to put forward -
– The honorable member has no right to make party political capita] 011 t of this.
– - 1 am speaking now to the motion. I regret exceedingly that the Prime Minister and the Government refused to give me, as Acting Leader of the Opposition, permission to make a statement, seeing that the Opposition considered it quite proper for the Prime Minister to make. a statement and for one of his chosen Ministers to speak also. Later the Prime Minister made a further statement, and one of his chosen Ministers also was permitted to do so. I offered no objection to that, because the Opposition felt that, as Leader of the Government, the Prime Minister was entitled to make the statement. I submit, as Acting Leader of the Opposition, with all respect to the Prime Minister and the Government, that I am entitled, in fair play, as the mouthpiece of the Opposition-
-Order! The Acting Leader of the Opposition is not speaking to the motion. He is stating reasons why he should have been given leave to make a statement.
– I wish to point out the reasons that have led up to my submission of this motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders. If the Prime Minister had agreed to my making a statement, it would have been unnecessary for me to table this motion. In this democratic Parliament, constituted of representatives from all parts of Australia, I believe that in their hearts honorable members do not wish to deny the Opposition this opportunity-
– The honorable member is not confining himself to the motion. He may not criticize the House.
– I cast no reflection on the House, because I do not know how it will vote on this motion, and I do not blame the House ; I blame the Prime Minister. It is necessary to suspend the Standing Orders to give the Opposition an opportunity to state its views regarding the proceedings to which we have listened this afternoon, and which reminded one of the proceedings in a divorce court action, or in a breach of promise case, with the bitter recriminations on both sides between the Prime Minister and his ex-Minister. Surely this Parliament is the place in which the Opposition ought to be permitted to state its views. The Prime Minister has had such an opportunity. Why should he stifle discussion on the part of the Opposition?
– The honorable member is now criticizing the action of the House in refusing him leave to make a statement.
– I have no desire to do that, but I do wish to criticize the action of _the Prime Minister.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear!
– It is not a matter for the Prime Minister. If one dissentient voice is raised, leave to make a statement is refused, and the right of the House to refuse leave cannot be debated later.
– In view of your ruling, Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to proceed further at the moment, but the Prime Minister will have reason to regret his refusal to grant leave to the Opposition to make a statement.
– I second the motion. I do so because I think that there is a little sportsmanship in this Parliament. The Standing Orders lay down that a statement may be made only by leave. They also provide that leave can be refused, if there is one dissentient voice. 1 desire the opinion of this Parliament to be tested to determine whether one voice speaks for all honorable members of this House. The “ Opposition has been extremely fair in allowing the Prime Minister to make a statement by leave.
– He made two.
– Yes, and the exMinister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) also made two. The Opposition has rights, because this is not a domestic matter. It affects, not only the Government, but also the policy of the country. I appeal to the fairminded honorable members of this House to carry the motion in order to give the Opposition a chance to be heard through one voice as against the four statements already made on the Government side.
Mr. LYONS (“Wilmot- Prime Minister) - I am sorry to say that I am amazed at the view expressed by the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin). When he occupied the position that I do now he always insisted-
– I never did what the Prime Minister lias done.
– If the right honorable member will look back through the records he will find that when he was Prime Minister he insisted that the allocation of portfolios within his Cabinet was a matter entirely for himself. It was after my statement regarding membership of the Cabinet that the Acting Leader of the Opposition asked leave to make a statement. The right honorable gentleman is not consistent, and he would not himself have granted the request that he is supporting now.
– I never refused leave to any one to make a statement.
– Those opposed to the right honorable gentleman when he was Prime Minister never challenged his right to deal as he thought fit with the members of his Cabinet. This is a matter for Cabinet itself, and Cabinet is going to take responsibility for it.
Mr. BEASLEY (West Sydney).I cannot understand the reason for the panic that seems to have set in regarding this matter. Why can it not be handled in a calm and dispassionate way? After all, to-day’s proceedings were without precedent in the history of this Parliament, and I think that the Acting Leader of the Opposition is entitled to say a word on the re-allocation of portfolios, the duties that have been entrusted to the various members, and also upon the other changes proposed. The changes are the result of controversy as to whether the Government is faithfully discharging its duties regarding defence. Surely no Government supporters will claim that these matters are the concern of only one side of the House. They concern all sides, and particularly members) of the Opposition parties and the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) is anxious to express his opinion regarding them. I remind the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) that his statement was not confined to the allocation of portfolios. He announced the new Ministry and the duties of the various members, and immediately after that the ex-Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) made a. statement on a very important matter of public policy. He has tendered his resignation on the ground that he believes that, by the system that the Government proposes to introduce
-Order! The honorable member cannot debate that matter upon the motion now before the Chair.
– The resignation of the honorable member for Balaclava wass tendered in circumstances that call fora reply from the Opposition. The Opposition feels, as he does, that certain things are likely to happen as the result of the change of Ministry, and the introduction of a new system of determining Government policy. Are we not all interested in secondary industries? Because the matter of employment is involved, the Opposition claims to be very deeply interested. I put it to the Prime Minister that he should reconsider his attitude. The Opposition has been very tolerant on many occasions. It has always given leave for the making of statements, and it has not hindered the business of the Government. I admit that, in this regard, things may be somewhat different from what they were a few years ago, but that is past. I ask the House at least to give the Acting Leader of the Opposition the right to speak. He represents 29 members of this Parliament, and half the electors of Australia. Therefore, he has the right to be heard on an important matter which may mean the end of this Government before very much longer.
– I support the motion moved by. the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde). The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) has stated that it is unprecedented for the Opposition to seek to make a statement upon a statement by the Prime Minister announcing the allocation of the various offices under a new administration. I point out, however, that the statement of the Prime Minister went far beyond the mere announcing of the names and the offices. His statement disclosed a radical and unprecedented departure from the principle of Cabinet responsibility and represen- t at ive government as hitherto carried on in Australia, and in the various parts of Australia. That, surely, was a matter upon which, leave having been graciously given to the Prime Minister, leave might well have been given to the Acting Leader of the Opposition also. But the matter extended even beyond those ample limits, because we witnessed in the House something which, I think, isabsolutely unprecedented in our experience of parliamentary government: that was, that the names of the Ministers having been mentioned from the table by the Prime Minis ter, one Minister immediately rose in his place and repudiated the appointment which the Prime Minister had just announced, and repudiated it for reasons, and on grounds, to which I have already referred, namely, that it was a radical departure from the principles of repre sentative government as Ave understand them.
-It is the inauguration of a Fascist dictatorship.
– I shall take a more convenient opportunity to refer to that aspect of the matter. My desire now is to keep this debate within those narrow limits which the Standing Orders prescribe for its consideration. Surely, when a ministry is announced, and when one Minister repudiates his appointment, and makes–
– He resigned after he was appointed.
– And makes very grave charges in a constitutional and political sense against the Prime Minis ter who has announced his appointment to a certain office, if ever there was an occasion upon which the Acting Leader of the Opposition might be granted the right to make a statement, this was such an occasion.
– I have already ruled that that matter cannot be discussed. Leave was refused.
– Very well. Therefore, I hope that honorable members opposite will see the fairness and propriety of our Acting Leader at least being allowed to make a statement on behalf of the Opposition regarding how all this presents itself to us, who represent one half of the people of Australia. We have had an announcement of radical changes in the method of parliamentary government, a profession of rebellion on the part of a Minister, and four statements made by leave without a word of protest from the Opposition; we have had this family brawl continued in our presence and in yours, Mr. Speaker, yet we, who represent so many of the people of Australia, are not allowed one spokesman to speak for those we represent. I can only express the hope that ministerial supporters will see the unfairness of such an arbitrary stand by the Prime Minister.
– The honorable member is again transgressing. He may not use expressions of that kind simply because leave wa3 refused. I heard a number of voices say, “No”.
– It is difficult in a debute like this to keep within the narrow limits which yon, in your judgment, prescribe.
– They are as prescribed by the Standing Orders.
– I content myself with making my appeal to the House as a whole, because, after all, it is the Parliament as a whole which must protect its rights. This is not merely a matter of fair play to ‘the Opposition, but is a matter of preserving the rights of Parliament as a whole and not denying those rights to the Opposition. I hope the motion will be carried.
– With all respect, I appeal to the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) to vary his decision and withdraw his objection to a statement being made upon the mutter before the House.
– Order ! That could not be done now ; there is a motion before the House.
– Would it not be possible for the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) to repeal his request for leave to make a statement?
– The Acting Leader of the Opposition could, by leave, withdraw his motion and repeat his request for leave to make a statement.
– I respectfully appeal to the Prime Minister to vary his decision. In view of the fact that the holders of two so important portfolios, such as Defence and Trade and Customs, have been placed in a position secondary to the holders of six other portfolios–
– Order ! The honorable member will not be in order in discussing the allocation of portfolios at this juncture.
– That is a matter which definitely concerns not only every honorable member on this side, but also every honorable member in this House.
– I warmly support the motion moved by the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde). It is inconceivable that, in a British parliament, one occupying, for the time being, so high and honorable a position as the Leader of the Opposition, should be deprived of the opportunity to make a statement in the existing circumstances in this Parliament. I cannot conceive that the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons would, in similar circumstances, be refused leave to make a statement.
– Order ! I have repeatedly reminded honorable members that the decision of the House in refusing leave to an honorable member to make a statement cannot be debated. Honorable members must remember my ruling.
– I am dealing now not with the rules of procedure, but with the attitude which, I suggest, would be adopted by members of the House of Commons in similar circumstances.
– The honorable member is criticizing the House for refusing to grant leave.
– I wish to indicate what I am. certain would be the procedure that would be followed in the House of Commons, the Mother of Parliaments, in similar circumstances. The members of that Parliament would have been prepared to have recognized it.
– The honorable member is not in order. He must debate the motion before the House, and give his reasons why it should be agreed to.
– The motion should be supported because it is designed to give this Parliament, and the democracy it represents, an opportunity to hear the views of the honorable members as a whole. Until such time as the Acting Leader of the Opposition has been given the opportunity to make a statement it cannot be said that the right of this Parliament to determine and express its views upon a matter of tremendous importance has been observed. I wonder whether the Government has adopted its present attitude in order to protect the Prime Minister in a very discomforting situation.
– Order ! The honorable member is again transgressing. Any decision the House has taken cannot be discussed ou this motion.
– I urge honorable members to realize that the Leader of the Opposition holds a very high arid distinguished office in the service of this Parliament. He is the Leader of His Majesty’s Opposition, and he speaks for a very substantial number of the constituents of this great Commonwealth. He, or his deputy, has a .right, therefore, to be heard on so important a matter as that which is now before this Parliament. The democracy of Australia will condemn any action taken by this Government to deprive the Opposition of the opportunity to make its voice heard on this matter. However, if it cannot express its views here it certainly will make its voice heard elsewhere, and in doing so will give far more effective expression to its view than it could possibly achieve under the procedure of this Parliament. I hope we shall at least retain our name as a democratic Parliament, and not reveal this assembly as a Fascist council, a suggestion that is made far top readily in the attitude adopted by the Prime Minister, and those honorable members who object to giving leave to the Acting Leader of the Opposition to make a statement.
– Order ! The honorable member will resume his seat.
– The question now before the House is one of procedure, and that is my excuse for saying a few words upon it. As you, Mr. Speaker, have ruled - if I may say, with respect, quite rightly - we are not entitled to discuss on this motion any question of substance in relation to matters that arise in the House. We are entitled to discuss merely questions of procedure that arise out of them. As I understand it statements to the House by leave are designed to enable Ministers, or members, to convey information to the House in a. convenient form, whether by way of personal explanation or otherwise. As I understand it, that system was never designed, and is not designed, to enable a debate to be carried on. It may be that for some time we have got into the habit of having a statement from one side followed by a controversial statement from the other, but the position is that the Standing Orders of this House provide for many different ways of instituting and carrying on debates on matters of substance, and every one of those ways is at all times available to honorable members opposite, or to honorable members sitting on this side. The real question that arises here is whether such a debate should be carried on, not by one of the dozen means provided for its carrying on in the Standing Orders, but, in effect, by means of a series of statements by leave. I suggest, that it would be a very dangerous precedent, indeed, if we agree that we may have what is in substance a debate in the form of a series of statements. For that reason I suggest that the motion before the House should be rejected.
– I support the motion moved by the Acting Leader of the Opposition. I am not at all influenced by the arguments submitted by the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies). He said that the Standing Orders of this Parliament are so framed as to permit of statements being made by Ministers in a convenient form to the House as circumstances render them necessary, but I have yet to learn that they were designed for the purpose of allowing honorable members on one side only to be heard whilst other honorable members are stifled. I remind the Attorney-General that on very few occasions in this Parliament, has leave been refused to the Prime Minister or to the Leader of the Opposition to make a statement on any matter considered to be of urgent public importance. Everybody should recognize that the mere fact of leave having been refused to the Acting Leader of the Opposition to make a statement is serious enough in itself; but when we take into account that the object of the refusal is to prevent the Oppositionwhich in my opinion, at the moment, represents more than half the electors of the Commonwealth - from expressing the Opposition opinion at the right time with respect to a very serious alteration of the control of the parliamentary business of this country, it becomes very much more serious.
– Order! I regret very much that I have had continually to remind honorable members of the nature of the motion before the How,: The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) is now making statements concerning the reason why leave was refused. That is quite out of order. I hope I shall not have to refer to the matter again.
– With due deference to your ruling, Mr. Speaker, I am endeavouring to give reasons why the decision that has been made should be reversed.
– That cannot now be done.
– The Opposition is well acquainted with the Standing Orders of the House. It does not say that the procedure adopted is not in accordance with the Standing Orders. We assert, however, that the Government is seeking to use the Standing Orders so as to stifle the voice of the people.
– I shall not remind honorable members again of what I have already said ; and I shall ask the honorable member to resume his seat unless he discusses the motion before the Chair.
M.r. WARD. - I hope that a sufficient number of honorable members of this House will pay such respect to the form of parliamentary government of this country as will show that they do noi think that the Government, or what the ex-Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) referred to as “ a coterie of the Government,” should be permitted to take away the right of the Leader of the Opposition to express the view of the Opposition on such an important matter. The departure from policy announced a few moments ago by the Prime Minister was of a most important character. This is the first, occasion in this country on which a. government has been openly prepared to say, in no uncertain terms, that it believes the democratic form of government shall cease and be replaced by what is, in effect, a Fascist grand council.
-The honorable member will resume his seat.
Mr. FORDE (Capricornia). - in reply - I ask honorable members, even at this late stage, to consider calmly and dispassionately the purpose of the motion, and to permit the Acting Leader of the Opposition to make the statement that he desires to make. The matter at issue, in effect, the establishment of an inner-group dictatorship in the Government to dominate public policy, is of such grave importance to the Commonwealth that we should be permitted to say what we think about it.
– It is a Fascist council.
– It is five dictators instead of one.
– I realize the difficulty in which you find yourself, Mr. Speaker, and I have no wish to transgress your ruling in any way whatever. I appeal to the democratic instincts of the Prime Minister and also of other honorable members opposite to give impartial consideration to my motion. I assure them that I moved it with the greatest reluctance, and only because no other way is open to the Opposition to express its view at this moment on a change of such a revolutionary nature as the placing of the affairs of the Commonwealth in the hands of a dictatorship of five.
– It is like Hitler walking into Austria.
– We might expect to read about such an action as this in a newspaper as mere kite-flying on the part of an imaginative journalist, but we could hardly ever have thought that it was likely to be taken.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the Acting Leader of the Opposition discussing the motion?
– I was about to call the honorable gentleman to order. He is now discussing the allocation of portfolios.
– As the Prime Minister has taken a point of order, I can say very little more on the subject at the moment; but a good deal more will be heard of it subsequently. I appeal to honorable members to vote for the suspension of the Standing Orders .so that, as Acting Leader of the Opposition, I may have the opportunity in a democratic Australian Parliament to express the views of the Opposition upon the revolutionary and dictatorial changes that have been made by establishing an inner Cabinet dictatorship.
Question put -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent him from making a statement to the House.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)
Majority . 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– In view of the appointment of Senator Allan MacDonald to the position of Assistant Treasurer, does the Prime Minister intend to retain the services of the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) as Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer ?
– The honorable member for Macquarie still remains in his position.
– What are the functions of the inner Cabinet and what powers are given to it that are not given to the remainder of the Cabinet?
– The seven senior Ministers constitute a policy committee and no powers whatever are given to members of that committee that are not given to every other member of the Cabinet. Their duties are to investigate policy questions and to make recommendations to the Cabinet, members of which, as a whole, take final responsibility for all matters dealt with by the Cabinet and dealt with by the policy committee. There is no inner group.
– I know that honorable gentlemen opposite will be disappointed to know that, because they are so used to an inner group. The seven senior Ministers constitute simply and solely a policy committee which will deal with matters and make recommendations to the Cabinet, and every member of the ( Cabinet has the same responsibility as each individual member of the policy committee.
– In the event of a division of opinion within the inner group, will the minority be bound by thu majority decision, and act accordingly when dealing with the outer group?
– The only inner group of which I know is that associated with, the honorable member’s party.
– In view of the statement by the Minister for Commerce on the 3rd November that the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Thorby) “has been the victim of one of the dirtiest press campaigns ever instituted in Australia,” can it be assumed that that is the reason for the honorable member foi Calare being no longer Minister for Defence ?
– The honorable member for Calare still holds one of the most important posts in the Ministry, and lie retains the confidence of every honorable ‘member on this side of the House.
– Inasmuch as the holder of the office of Minister for Trade and Customs will not be included in, may I say, the group of senior Ministers, but the Minister for Commerce and Leader of the Country party (Sir Earle Page) will be so included, is that to be taken as a public intimation that there will be a general scaling-down of the tariff of this country?
– The first part of the question might well be left over until to-morrow, seeing that there is at present no Minister for Trade and Customs. As to the second part, I assure the honorable gentleman that the policy of this Government, which is a protectionist policy for the development of Australian secondary industries, never has been and will not lie dependent upon the attitude of any one single Minister. It is the definite, considered policy of the Government itself.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether when he is filling the vacancy in Cabinet to-morrow he will follow the same procedure as he followed in filling the vacancy which occurred in the Ministerial representation in the Senate, and appoint the Whip to thu position ?
Question not answered.
– Is not the position of Vice-President of the Executive Council regarded by the Government as of supreme importance, and, if so, why is the occupant of that office not included in the inner group?
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council represents His Excellency the Governor-General at meetings of the Executive Council when his Excellency is absent. In the ‘Cabinet, the Vice-President of the Executive Council has as much responsibility for the decisions reached on matters of policy, or in respect of any other matter, as I have.
– In view of the Prime Minister’s reply to a question asked by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) can it be taken that His Excellency the Governor-General will attend meetings of the inner group of the Cabinet in person?
Question not answered.
– Can the Prime Minister tell the House why the Minister for External Affairs is no longer the Minister in Charge of Territories? Is it because of the right honorable gentleman’s outspoken comments in regard to the Mandated Territory of New Guinea?
– I do not know that I should be called upon to answer questions of this nature, but I shall do so on this occasion. External territories are under the administration of the Prime Minister’s Department, and it is the practice of the Prime Minister to delegate to a particular Minister responsibility for them, in order that work may be distributed among the various Ministers. I have delegated the administration of external territories to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Perkins). The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hughes) will still be in charge of the appropriate work of his department.
– Can the Prime Minister say if it is correct to assume that the order in which the list of Ministers was announced by him to-day, and the order in which the names will be published in Hansard, is an indication of the seniority of those Ministers in Cabinet?
– ‘From memory, I cannot say the order in which I read the list of Ministers. If the honorable gentleman will place his question on the notice-paper, he will be informed.
– As the former Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby) has now been appointed Minister for Civil Aviation, Defence and Other Works, can the Prime Minister indicate what works will be dealt with by him, and what works will be dealt with by the Department of the Interior?
– The new Minister for Works will deal with all works, including defence works, at present under the control of the Minister for the Interior.
– Will railways be included ?
– Yes, but not the administration of railways.
– In view of the fact that the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Street) has held his new portfolio for only a few hours, I address the following question without notice to the Prime Minister: -
– I shall make inquiries into the matter raised by the honorable member.
– Is the Minister for Commerce able to say whether there is a minim um price for wheat in Canada and in the United States of America, and if so, can he state the terms and conditions under which the guaranteed price is paid ?
– In Canada there i& a guaranteed minimum price of SO cents a bushel for wheat which is delivered to the Wheat Board. There is no guaranteed minimum price for wheat in the United States of America, but there is an arrangement by which the Government pays 59 cents a bushel to those growers who have reduced their acreage in accordance with the Government’s policy, and withheld their wheat from sale.
– Can the Minister say what progress has been made in the States with legislation to provide a homeconsumption price for wheat?
– In two of the States the necessary legislation has been passed ; in another State, a bill has passed the lower House and is now before the upper chamber. In respect of the other States, I understand that the position is that legislation either has been introduced or is about to be brought forward.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral give consideration to the building of a new post office and residence at New Norfolk, in the Derwent Valley, Tasmania? As the Minister visited the district recently he is acquainted with its disabilities.
– I shall do so.
– Can the Minister for Commerce say whether the position in regard to British trade with the Balkans is being watched, with a view to safeguarding markets in Great Britain for Australian primary products, and has he any information to give to the House on the subject?
– The position is being watched, and any information that comes to hand will be made available to the honorable member.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Defence been drawn to a statement by Brigadier-General Lloyd in Sydney regarding Australia’s munitions supply, which has created a good deal of unrest in the minds of many people, and can he give an assurance that Australia would have no lack of ammunition in the event of hostilities breaking out?
– The Minister for Defence has just taken his seat in the Cabinet and I suggest that the honorable member place his question on the notice-paper in order that it may be replied to to-morrow.
– Can the Minister for Defence give some estimate of when the report of the departmental inquiry into air routes and services will bc made available to this House?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
– That inquiry is now being undertaken, and, at this stage, it is not possible to say when the report will be ready.
– I ask the Prime Minister what private business interests arc carried out by the Australian High Commissioner in London, Mr. Bruce?
– I am not aware of an private interests of the High Commissioner, and I do not think that that is a matter into which I should inquire, unless his private interests conflict with his public duties.
– In view of the published statement by the Minister for the Interior that a greater degree of self-determination would be vested in the Administration at Darwin, and, in view of the fact that the Minister has disregarded a recommendation by the Administrator that further hotel licences should be granted in Darwin, will the Minister assure the House that when the Lands Board is reorganized in the Northern Territory, complete powers will be vested in the Administrator at Darwin ?
– The honorable mem bur’s question contains a mis-statement. There has been no recommendation by the Administrator to me that additional hotel licences should be granted in the Northern Territory. Therefore, I have not, as the honorable member stated, disregarded such a recommendation. As I said earlier, in reply to a similar question by the honorable member, I abolished tinLand Board of the Northern Territory in accordance with a recommendation of the Payne-Fletcher Committee, and vested the authority, which previously reposed in it, in the Administrator.
– Is it the intention of the Government to send an officer from Canberra, to take charge of land affair^ in Darwin, or is it its intention to reinvest with authority the people who know all about the Northern Territorythe members of the abolished Land Board?
– The Government has already taken steps to transfer the Title? Office from Canberra to Darwin, and certain officers from the Canberra administration have proceeded to Darwin with the title records to establish there a land titles office. I propose to make a statement during the budget debate on certain matters affecting the future land policy and land administration of the Northern Territory.
– Is the Treasurer aware that a large number of employees in Sydney have been dismissed from their employment within the last few weeks, and that, the reason given for their dismissal is the cost of the national health and pensions insurance scheme? What steps will be taken by the Treasurer to prevent wholesale unemployment from this cause from now until the early part of the year?
– I am not aware that any employees have been dismissed on that account and I do not believe that it is true.
– Is the Treasurer able to give any indication as to when the report of the Royal Commission on Doctors’ Remuneration under National Insurance will be furnished?
– Apart from an intimation of the unfortunate death of two of the counsel assisting the British Medical Association, which may mean a delay of a fortnight, I have had no further information. I hope and expect to have the report before the end of this calendar year.
– I ask the Treasurer if the officials of the national health and pensions insurance scheme, other than the commissioners, have been drawn entirely from the Commonwealth Public Service ? Will the Minister furnish particulars of the number of persons employed and the departments from which they have been drawn?
– With the exception of the two temporary appointments mentioned by the honorable member for West Sydney, I am unaware of any appointments being made from outside the Commonwealth Public Service. A week or so ago, I furnished a list in the form required by the honorable member, giving particulars of the appointments made and the appeals lodged. I shall see that that list is brought up-to-date.
– I should like the list to include the names of the departments from which officers have been d rawn.
– That shall be done.
– In view of the fact that medical services may not be available to contributors to the national health and pensions insurance scheme when collections of contributions are commenced, will the Treasurer intimate that contributions will not be collected until medical services are available?
– That matter is exercising the attention of the Government at the moment.
– As much of the most important legislation in connexion with national insurance will consist of regulations, I ask the Treasurer when the first regulations in connexion therewith will be laid upon the table of the House, and, secondly, will he assure the House that any regulations framed prior to the Christmas adjournment will be laid before the House before the Christmas recess?
– I am not entirely seised of what the honorable member means in the latter part of his question. In regard to the first part, I expect that, in the near future, regulations will be tabled. I give the honorable member the assurance that such regulations as exist before this House goes into recess for the Christmas period will be laid on the table of the House. Obviously regulations not framed until after Christmas cannot be tabled before that time.
– In regard to the contemplated legislation providing for assistance to widows and families, is it proposed to give assistance only through approved societies conducted by friendly societies, to the exclusion of other organizations ?
– Assistance will not be given through approved societies, whose functions are limited under the act, but through other societies. I suggest that the honorable member will have ample opportunity to discuss this matter when the legislation is before the House.
– As the Minister for Commerce has succeeded in enforcing the creation of an inner group within the Cabinet, with the exclusion of the exMinister for Trade and Customs, are we to assume that he will now make progressive steps to bring into operation the policy which he advocated a few years ago “ That the tariff should be scaled down to the 1921-28 level”?
– There is no truth whatever in the statement of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The decision reached involves a matter of general government policy. The value of the Government’s protectionist policy is disclosed by the fact that the number of persons now engaged in secondary industries is 250,000 greater than when the honorable gentleman was Minister for Trade and Customs.
– In view of the fact that the Minister for Commerce is now in a position to exert some real influence in the policy of the Government, will he take early steps to give effect to his policy of New States within New South Wales?
– When the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is able to influence a few of his supporters to give some assistance in such a national matter, I hope to be able to do something in the direction indicated.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce if it is true that, on one occasion, he said that his chief reason for entering this Parliament was to. bring about the establishment of New States, a nd–
– Order ! Questions addressed to Ministers must have relation to matters with which they are officially connected or to any matter of administration for which the Ministers are responsible. The honorable member’s question is in no way connected with the Department of Commerce.
– Will the Minister for Commerce seize the present favorable opportunity to redraw the map of Australia by grouping areas having common or diversified interests in keeping with their common geographical background, thus avoiding the possibility of creating New States with diversified interests?
– Before giving a definite .reply to the honorable member, I should like to have an opportunity to consider his own plan.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral make provision for the installation of wireless telephones in outback areas, particularly in those places where the Government has decided that the provision of ordinary telephone services is too expensive?
– The request of the honorable member will receive consideration. .
– In view of the statement of the Minister for the Interior, published in the press on Monday last, that it is intended to appoint a flying doctor at Alice Springs, can the Minister inform the House whether the pilot of the aeroplane is to be appointed by his department or by those controlling the aerial medical services?
– The establishment of a flying doctor’s base at Alice Springs arose in consequence of an offer made to the Government by the Australian Aerial Medical Services - a voluntary association - to provide at Alice Springs a suitable ambulance aeroplane with a pilot and a mechanic, to establish a central wireless transmitting and receiving set, and to arrange a group of pedal wireless sets within a radius of 400 miles from Alice Springs. This offer was made to the Government by the Australian Aerial Medical Services, the only condition being that the Government shall appoint the flying doctor to act in cooperation with the aeroplane service provided. The Government has accepted the offer.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral indicate the method adopted in arriving at the estimated revenue of public telephones before such instruments are installed? When an application is made for a public telephone, the department, in some mysterious manner, estimates the revenue likely to be derived. Does the Postmaster-General propose to adhere to the present policy, or will he endeavour to see that public telephones are erected to give service to the people, instead of allowing decisions based on estimated revenue to stand in the way?
– That is a mystery which the honorable gentleman and I share. I shall shortly know the solution.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral take into consideration the necessity to proceed with urgent postal works, including building construction and telephone installations, now that a direction has been given to the department that these activities are to be proceeded, with ? Will the Minister review the position and treat some of the more important works as urgent?
– The matter will be investigated, and I shall inform the honorable member later.
– In view of the fact that the Government’s efforts to assist the pearlers in the Northern Territory against Japanese competition appear not to be of, much use, will consideration be given to the granting of a direct subsidy to pearlers?
– The matter of assistance to the peat-ling industry is one which falls within the province of the Department of Commerce. I can inform the honorable member, however, that there is still under consideration by the Government a request which was made to me for presentation to it that a direct subsidy on production should be granted to the industry.
– What contribution does the Government make towards the inland aerial medical service, and what say has the Government in the control of moneys expended by that service? Further, is the Minister for the Interior aware that a receiving and broadcasting station for use in connexion with the aerial medical service was constructed at Broken Hill and was found so unsatisfactory that it had to be replaced by another station costing a considerable amount of money?
– In reply to the first part of the honorable member’s question, the Commonwealth grant to the Australian Aerial Medical Services is £5,000. That grant is made by way of assistance to this honorary voluntary organization, which has established a group of aerial medical services that, on the completion of the Alice Springs project, will cover the whole of the inland districts of Australia. ‘Services at present are being maintained at Cloncurry, Wyndham, Port Headland, Kalgoorlie and Broken Hill, and are in conjunction with the Government’s own medical service operating from Katherine. The Government’s annual contribution of £5,000 to the Australian Aerial Medical Services represents a very meagre proportion of the annual cost of establishing and maintaining this very wonderful inland service.
– When is it anticipated that the bill to amend the Bankruptcy Act will be brought forward ? Has the bill yet been drafted, and if so are the proposed amendments restricted to those which were dealt with by the. two committees of this House, or are further amendments proposed ?
– The bill has been drafted. The amendments, referred to in my answer to a question the other day, are not confined to those which have been before the two committees ; but consist of supplementary suggestions made from various sources, which are now being looked into. The bill will be introduced into the House as soon as possible.
– On several occasions I have asked the Attorney-General if he would consider the advisability of either appointing an inspector to police Arbitration Court awards in North Queensland or asking the State authorities to do so if it is not possible to make such an appointment. I now >ask the right honorable gentleman what is the present position in regard to the matter?
– I have, from time to time, considered the suggestions made by the honorable member, with which 1 have a great deal of sympathy. A submission on this matter, containing recommendations made by myself, is now awaiting consideration by the Cabinet. I hope that consideration will be given tr, it very shortly.
– In view of the shortage of quantity surveyors in the Works Branch of the Department of the Interior, has any endeavour been made to secure the services of additional qualified persons to carry out the works that have been delayed? If not, has any appeal been made to the State departments to co-operate with the Commonwealth Government by supplying the necessary quantity surveyors?
– I shall make inquiries into the matter raised by the honorable member and advise him by letter.
REPORT of ROYAL Commission.
– Can .the Prime Minister give an assurance to the House that the report and recommendations of the Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking System in regard to financial matters and social credit, which are of such extreme urgency at present, will he discussed?
– I am not in a position at the moment to make a statement in regard to the matter, but I hope to be able to do so at an early date.
– Is it intended to introduce the proposed patents consolidating legislation before the House rises for the Christmas recess?
– It is.
Verdict Against Investigation Offices
– Has the attention of the Postm aster-General been directed to a recent action brought by a member of the public against an officer of the Investigation Branch of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in connexion with which a verdict for £100 damages was awarded? In view of the unsatisfactory position that has arisen in connexion with inquiries conducted by the Investigation Branch, will the honorable gentleman institute an investigation with a view to having more satisfactory methods adopted in the future?
– I had not previously heard of the matter, but no doubt it will come under my notice in due course.
– Can the Prime Minister make available a report which the Customs Department possesses in regard to the question of shipbuilding in Australia? A report on this subject, I believe, was submitted by an officer of the department a little while ago.
– I shall make inquiries into the matter. As I understand the position the report was submitted to the department and not to the Government.
– Will the present Minister for Defence, the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Street), have a seat on the Defence Council? Will the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Thorby) the new Minister for Civil Aviation, continue to sit on the Defence Council? If both Ministers are given seats on the Council, will the Minister for Civil Aviation be junior to the Minister for Defence, who was formerly Parliamentary Secretary to the department formerly administered by the Minister for Civil Aviation?
– Both Ministers will have seats on the Defence Council. It does not matter which is senior because the. Council deliberates at a round table.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral if it is the intention of the Government, as indicated in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, to introduce during this session a measure for the ratification of certain sections of the Statute of Westminster? If so, can the right honorable gentleman indicate, within a month, when it will be introduced?
– I point out to the honorable member for Batman that the order of the business is a matter for decision by the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. I believe that the legislation mentioned will be proceeded with, but I am unable to say when. I shall refer the question to the Prime Minister and inform the honorable member in due course.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill 1938-39.
Therapeutic Substances Bill 1938. Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1938.
Bill returned from the Senate without requests.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 4th November, 1938 (vide page
Clause 14 - (1.) The board may -
determine the total quantity of apples and pears, harvested in any year, which maybe exported from the Commonwealth; and
determine, upon a basis applied uniformly throughout the Commonwealth, the quantity of apples and pears harvested in any State in that year which maybe exported from the Commonwealth. (6.) If the board is unable to arrive at a unanimous decision in respect of any matter arising for determination under sub-section (1.) of this section, the board may request the Minister to refer the matter for decision to one or more independent arbitrators appointed by t he Minister. (7.) Any matter referred under the last preceding sub-section to an arbitrator for decision shallbe decided by him in such manner as not to affect the uniformity throughout the Commonwealth with which determinations of the board under sub-section (1.) of this section are required to apply, and the board shall give effect to any decision of the arbitrator made in accordance with this sub-section.
Upon which Mr. Frost had moved, by way of amendment -
That the words “applied uniformly throughout the Commonwealth” sub-clause (1.), paragraph (6), be omitted with a view to insert in lien thereof the words “of immediate previous three years average shipments to United Kingdom markets or continental markets orboth “.
– I support the amendment moved by the honorable member forFranklin (Mr. Frost), who seeks the stipulation of a quota for Tasmania, in connexion with the export trade. The Minister is prepared “to make some amendments empowering the newly constituted board to determine this question, subject to certain other factors. I do not profess to be sufficiently well versed in the matter to appreciate fully what those other factors involve, but I am disposed to accept the Minister’s assurance that he feels that he has good reason for making this qualification. The honorable member for Franklin feels that from the point of view of the growers in Tasmania, it is undesirable that any qualification should be imposed and that an export quota should be guaranteed. The opposition to this amendment seems to be coming chiefly from the representatives of Western Australia.
– And Victoria.
– I have not heard any Victorian member express opposition so far. I appreciate the desire of honorable members from Victoria and Western Australia to safeguard the interests of the growers in their respective States, but I believe that Tasmania, has special rights in this regard. I cannot believe that the honorable member for Franklin wishes to impose conditions that would be harmful to the growers in Victoria or the other States.
– But if his amendment is accepted the method of fixing the quotas will be arbitrary.
– Then it would be equally arbitrary in its application to all the States. I do not believe that the honorable member for Franklin wishes Tasmania to obtain an undue advantage over the other States. We must remember, however, that some of the States have special interests in particular industries. In Queensland there is the sugar industry, which is vital to the economic welfare of that State, and Queensland representatives naturally endeavour to ensure that the interests of that industry are safeguarded. Tasmania is in much the same position in regard to fruit, and I say that without under-estimating the importance of the industry to Victoria, or any other State. We should remember that Victoria has many industries. It is not dependent upon fruit-growing alone.
– Does the existence of other industries make any difference to the individual grower in Victoria?
– I am trying to look at this matter in a general way. It cannot be denied that Tasmania depends, largely, on its fruit-growing industry for its economic existence. Tasmania suffers under many disabilities, and it has, year after year, had to approach the Commonwealth for a grant to compensate it for the disabilities alleged’ to be due to federation. In that State, the applegrowing industry has been raised to a very high standard, and for that we must commend the growers and the Tasmanian Go- vernment. We in this Parliament should do our best to support a State that is trying to develop an industry suitable to its conditions and in which a large capital outlay has been involved. There is a long period of waiting for the trees to come to maturity, the right types for export and for home consumption have to be selected, scientific investigation has to be made regarding the control of pests, &c, and marketing arrangements have to be carefully organized. No one will deny that, in regard to all these matters, Tasmania has played its part well.
– It is only a matter of degree.
– I do not blame the honorable member for taking up the attitude he does, but, as the representative of the consumers, I regard myself as unbiased on this question. We offer the home market to the growers, and we hope to get the fruit as cheaply as is consistent with providing the growers with a reasonable return. Western Australia, apparently, is setting out to develop an applegrowing industry, but it has not yet been developed to the same degree as in Tasmania. It cannot he overlooked that there is a definite limit to the quantity of fruit that can be absorbed by the export trade and by the home market. This problem revolves round the question of which so much is heard nowadays, namely, planning. We frequently hear mention of our wide, open spaces in Australia that are calling out for development, and of the need to establish irrigation schemes, with a view to increasing production. That sounds very well, but I always ask myself: What are we to do with the produce of these areas if they are developed? If there is no payable market for what is produced, then all our efforts are vain. If we set out to expand the apple and pear growing industry without having first a definite plan for disposing of its product, we shall be merely leading a large number of people in Western Australia and elsewhere up a blind alley. It takes many years for trees to come into full bearing. At the end of that time the growers will have no market for a large part of their produce, and they will be forced to approach the Commonwealth Government for a bounty or a subsidy. There is no alternative. Of course, I admit that it would be possible to increase the home consumption of fruit, but that is bound up with matters which lie outside the scope of this discussion. Just to touch upon it briefly, however, I may say that in every second home in the district which I represent more fruit would be eaton if the people had the means to buy it. I cannot ask that the fruit be made available at a price below the cost of production. If I fight for good conditions for the workers, that is, the consumers, f cannot forget that the growers are also entitled to a fair return. Unfortunately, far from bringing about conditions which would make for an increased consumption of fruit, we seem all the time to be tending in the opposite direction.
It seems to me that Parliament should give first consideration to that State where the industry is already established. After all, we have an obligation to Tasmania, because this industry is the basis of its prosperity. It would be bad taste, to say the least of it, to do anything which would rob Tasmania of its rightful place in this regard. There must be a limit somewhere to the amount of fruit produced, because of the restricted market in our export trade. Honorable members will recall that after the war we set out on an orgy of closer settlement. The cry was to put the soldiers on the laud, to grow more wheat, to increase production. Well, production was increased, and then it was found that we could not sell the produce. We shall find ourselves in a similar difficulty if we encourage people in Western Australia or elsewhere to embark upon an industry in which there is no room for expansion. I am not convinced that there is much room for expansion in regard to exports. Practically all nations are now so arranging their economic development as to make themselves, as far as possible, independent of outside sources of supply.
The honorable member for Franklin is not only seeking to advance the interests of his State, but he is also, in an indirect way, sounding a note of warning against the danger of unplanned development in this industry. As I have said, Tasmania has special rights in. the matter, and I, as a representative of one of the largest
States, am prepared to support the amendment of the honorable member for Franklin.
– I have listened with interest to the speech by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), and if anything would induce me to vote against the amendment submitted, by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost), it is that speech. Both the honorable member for Franklin and the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) have told us that we should consider this matter from a broad, national point of view, but the honorable member for West Sydney asks us to help Tasmania, and claims. that that State has a right to this industry. 1 do not concede that. I contend that individual apple-growers in Tasmania have only the same rights as those of individual growers in any other part of Australia.
– If there were overproduction, the apple industry throughout Australia might crash.
– I am coming to that point. The honorable member for Franklin claims that the board should take into consideration only the exports of the previous three years.; but I contend that, in dealing with his amendment, we should also have in mind the amendment to be submitted by the Postmaster.General (Mr. Archie Cameron), which takes other factors into consideration. The honorable member for West Sydney ha.s mentioned the financial obligations of those already engaged in apple growing. 1 suggest that those things should be considered as well as climatic and seasonal difficulties. If the present amendment were carried these things could not be taken into consideration, because the export quotas would be determined entirely in accordance with average shipments during the previous three years. If Tasmania experienced an unfavorable season, and had a very small quantity of fruit available for export, that fact would be taken into consideration, if the Minister’s suggested amendment were carried.
– Tasmania will take that risk, if my amendment is accepted.
– The honorable member makes that statement because he knows that growers in other States run a greater risk of bad seasons than do those in Tasmania. The amendment to be submitted by the Minister would enable consideration to be given to factors such as small crops in any of the States in the three years prior to the determination of the export quota. I suggest that this arrangement, although it might operate against Tasmania occasionally, would more frequently operate against the other States. I do not agree with the honorable member for West Sydney that orchardists in parts of Australia other than Tasmania, where apples can be grown well, should be prevented from growing them.
– Why encourage them to grow fruit if a market cannot be obtained for all that is produced.
– That ma) be a sound argument, but Australia has, at times in the past, produced more apples than could be profitably marketed. It is impossible accurately to forecast the crop in any year.- Tasmania might experience a total failure in one year, but there should be other sources of supply in the other States. Australia has a vast potential home market for apples, and more apples than at present could be marketed locally if the industry were organized on a proper basis. Tasmania would get as fair a deal under the Minister’s proposed amendment as under that now before the committee.
.- I am not in favour of the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost), although I am in sympathy with the Tasmanian growers in their desire to obtain a fixed quota as their share of the export trade, it would be rather dangerous to fix the quota on the basis of the previous three years’ production. It would be unfair for several reasons. Some honorable members have said that increased production should not be encouraged, and to some degree I concur in that opinion, but regard should be had for the fact that about seven years’ work is required to bring an apple orchard into production.
– Fourteen years in the case of the export trade.
– The minimum period is seven years, and another four or five years must elapse before an orchard can be brought into full production. Therefore, an orchardist must wait at least ten years before receiving the full benefit of his labour. The amendment would increase this period of waiting by another three years before the orchardist would receive benefit similar to that of those who happened to be engaged in the industry before him, by virtue of the fact that they had, perhaps, inherited an orchard from their grandfathers, or, for any other reason, had established themselves in the industry sooner than other growers. Those who were lucky enough to inherit properties would be in a far stronger position than the courageous individual who started out with next to nothing, and battled against tremendous odds. The interests of Tasmania would be fairly safeguarded under the clause, and the amendment to be submitted by the Minister would give the board power to take into considera tion the average yearly exports overseas of apples and pears from each State during the three years immediately preceding the year in which the basis was adopted.
The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) has claimed that excess production of goods which are difficult to sell should be discouraged, but can he name any Australian primary product which could be safely grown on the score that adequate markets are available for it? If we adopted his attitude, the development of all our primary industries would be arrested. All that we can do with regard to apples and pears is to ensure a basis of equality in the various States, so that the orchardists capable of economically competing in the markets of the world may have every opportunity to do so.
– Does the honorable member support the principle of raising the standard of living in Australia?
– I am always in favour of that. The time may arrive-^ and I believe it is rapidly approachingwhen primary producers other than apple- growers will experience limited world markets. It may be necessary for a restriction of export quotas of butter, meat, wheat and other commodities. If we now established the principle that vested interests, whether large or small, should be given priority because of their earlier entry into an industry, I think that we should be following a dangerous course.
– I should like to. compare this speech with the one which the honorable member would make with regard to butter.
– I should deal with that matter, too, from a broad Australian point of view. I recently had an opportunity to visit the apple-producing areas in Western Australia, including the famous Kendenup estate, which Mr. De Garis endeavoured to establish. Many settlers spent much money and years of toil on that estate, and only now are the apple trees coming into full production. Should the orchardists in this locality be placed at a disadvantage compared with those in districts that have been established for a longer period? The growers in all of the States should be prepared to accept export quotas determined on the same basis. Western Australia is in a similar position to that of Tasmania in that it requires financial assistance from the Commonwealth from time to time, and, therefore, the claims of growers in that. State merit as much consideration as those of the orchardists in Tasmania.
– No comparison can be made between the two.
– Did Western Australia fill its quota last year?
– I cannot say.
– The honorable member wishes to “ down “ Tasmania.
– There are other factors, in addition to the area under crop, which affect the volume of production in a particular State or district. For example, three or four or more years ago, practically the whole of the apple-growing districts of New South Wales and Victoria lost the greater part of their crop by reason of the ravages of thrips. I do not know whether Tasmania had that misfortune.
– There is no thrips in Tasmania.
Mr. Mahoney interjecting.
– I have no axe to grind in this matter - I do not grow an apple - but, because I am a fruit-grower, I demand that there shall be fair treatment of apple-growers in other parts of Australia, and that no preference shall be given to any particular State. As I have said, a few years ago New South Wales and Victoria lost from 70 per cent. to 80 per cent. of their apple crop. Should that condition again arise, with the result that the growers of New South Wales would be on a considerably reduced quota, while Tasmania was on a fixed quota, based on a high production, the position would be most unfair to New South Wales.
– Did New South Wales have thrips last year?
– Not so far as I am aware.
– Did it fill its quota last year ?
– I am not aware of what the quota was last year. If we accept the principle that those who put their money into primary industries have to wait for three years before having a quota fixed on their behalf, we shall arrive at a new stage in Australian economics. I sincerely hope that the amendment will not be carried.
.- The persistence of the representatives of Tasmania is induced by the desire on their part to take advantage of the applegrowers of the whole of the mainland of Australia. The last three years have been consistently good years in Tasmania, while on the mainland they have been lean years. The Tasmanians want to fix future exports on that basis, which is not a fair one. The honorable mem- ber for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) has interjected asking whether other States, including Western Australia, exported their quota last year. They did not. Western Australia, in particular, was unable to do so because a . hailstorm destroyed over 400,000 cases of its apples. Is it not sufficient that those States which failed to fill their quota met with misfortune, without imposing on them the further misfortune of fixing a future quota on the basis of production during the last year and other years? Although we admit that Tasmania has been outstanding in the establishment of the apple trade with the United Kingdom, it must also be agreed that it has done very well out of its exports of apples. It has almost a monopoly of the apple market of Sydney.
– That is why the other States are “gate-crashing.”
– Western Australia has no chance to compete on the Sydney market. The freight from Hobart to Sydney is10d. a case, whereas from Fremantle to Sydney it is 2s.11d. a case; consequently, Western Australia is at a disadvantage of 2s.1d. a case. Tasmania is already fairly well treated in having almost a monopoly of the Sydney market, which is the greatest of the State markets; and. admittedly, the local market is the most valuable. A fatal objection to the proposal of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) is that neither the last three years, nor any other three years, represent a fair average of the production of the States of Australia ; they are unduly favorable to Tasmania.
– We are prepared to take the last ten years.
– That is another story. But even that might not be favorable, because those States which have only lately come into apple-production would have no right to export. All factors must be taken into consideration, and that is what the Minister (Mr. Archie Cameron) proposes shall be done.
.- A crucial portion of the clause is the phrase “ uniformly throughout the Commonwealth “. With the retention of those words, it seems to be quite clear that the standard of the last three years’ production for export could not be applied, because the only effect of its application would be to arrive at a basis which did not apply uniformly throughout the Commonwealth. The object of applying that standard, suggested by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) and approvedof in some degree by the Government, is to obtain a basis which would not apply uniformly throughout the Commonwealth. According to my view, if the words “ uniformly throughout the Commonwealth “ were deleted it would be possible to apply the standard suggested by the honorable member for Franklin, either in his absolute and inelastic form, or subject to the modifications proposed by the Minister. But if the standard is to apply uniformly throughout the Commonwealth I cannot see any sense in giving, in the form proposed by either the honorable member for Franklin or the Government, the direction that the board shall take into account the figures for the last three years preceding the year in which the basis is fixed. I cannot see how that would operate if a basis is to be fixed throughout the Commonwealth - either that a given number of tons or that a given proportion of the production of each State, has to be exported or sold.
– That is why other factors have to be taken into consideration.
– The honorable member for Franklin proposes, first, to omit certain words, and then, if those words be omitted, to insert certain other words. I agree that the words which he proposes to omit should be omitted, because I think that the board should be free, if it thinks fit, to depart from the principle of uniformity, provided that it does not depart from that principle as between the States. Section 99 of the Constitution would prevent the board from giving preference to any one State over any other State, but it would not prevent the Commonwealth or its delegate from giving preference to one part of Australia as against another part of Australia, so long as that part was not taken as representing a State or part of a State. As I said in this committee last week, the position in Elliott’scasewas that regulations made under the Transport Workers Act applied to some parts of the Commonwealth and not to others. Those regulations were attacked on the ground that they discriminated between States or parts of States. The High Court held that there was no such discrimination because it was between ports, which were not considered as parts of States; they were different regions or districts. I should say that Section 99 would prevent discrimination . between States as such, but that there is nothing to prevent discrimination between different parts of Australia.
– The bill has not been well drawn.
– As drawn, it goes beyond the constitutional limitation, because it will prevent any discrimination at all; it demands uniformity. If it insists on the basis of export being uniform throughout the Commonwealth, nothing can be considered or given effect which disturbs that uniformity. I am in favour of relieving the board from the injunction to make a basis which applies uniformly throughout the Commonwealth, but not of saying that the board must depart from the principle of uniformity. That seems to me to be the proposal of the honorable member for Franklin; that the board must do something, the only result of which will be lack of uniformity throughout Australia. I think that the board should bo free to do what it thinks fit, but that in deciding it should be bound to take into consideration what both the honorable member for Franklin and the Government believe should be considered - that is, the volume of exports in the three years preceding the fixing of the basis. The board will not be free to consider that if the words “ uniformly throughout the Commonwealth “ remain. With the deletion of those words, the new sub-clause 1a proposed by the Minister would be adequate; but that new sub-clause, read in conjunction with the preceding provision for the uniform application of a basis, would mean nothing at all. I am considering this matter not from any State viewpoint - I have not in mind Tasmania, New South Wales, or Western Australia - but in the interest of those who are making their living by the growing of apples. It is all very well to argue as though we shall have the regime of free competition co-existing with this scheme ; we shall not. This will supersede free competition; that is its only object. It postulates a smaller demand overseas for Australian apples, but no correlative increase of the Australian demand. It will disturb the regime of free competition. Are we to place those who come into the industry hereafter on the same basis as those who are living by it now? I think that those who are now living by the industry are entitled to more consideration than are those who may hereafter come into it. I want the board to have some indication from Parliament that it must consider the matter upon some such lines. It is a fact that the industry is largely carried on in the State of Tasmania. I realize there are a lot of people in that State who have been accustomed to look to it for their livelihood. The board should be told that, everything being equal, it should give consideration to that matter, unless, in its opinion, it is not just or practicable to do so. I cannot vote for the amendment of the honorable member for Franklin, because it is rigid and inelastic. I believe that it would be unfair to the other States, and possibly also to the growers in his own State. But I should like the board to be relieved from th obligation to make a uniform basis, and to bo empowered and directed to give consideration to the matter to which I have referred, and to attach to it such weight as it thinks is just and practicable.
.- I have a most sympathetic appreciation of the point of view of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost). This industry is of tremendous importance to the State of Tasmania, and to his electorate. As the honorable member for “West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), in supporting him, said, it would be only fair to safeguard the interests of a place in which the industry is in being. I think that the committee is largely in agreement with the honorable member for Franklin that the industry is of paramount importance to the people of Tasmania, and that it is surely easier for expansion to be slowed down in other parts than for a curtailment of what has been long established in his State. Nevertheless, I feel that this amendment is dangerous, and could work out very unfairly even to the State of Tasmania itself, in that if we adopted this rigid standard and any State should suffer a reduction of its export* in any one year, ii would be almost impossible for its quota to be again increased. Under the system of averaging, quotas can be reduced, but it is very difficult for any State to get its quota increased, except as the result of disaster in one or more of the other States. Suppose that a State ex ported 900,000 cases annually, and then in one year, as the result of a major disaster in the industry, its exports dropped to nil. For the purpose of simplicity I am stating an extreme case. That would mean that for two years that State would export 900,000 cases but nothing in the third year. If the amendment be adopted, its quota in the fourth year would be limited to 600,000 cases, or two-thirds of its average export. For the following year the quota would then be worked out on the basis of 900,000 cases, nil, and 600,000 cases, which would further reduce it to 500,000 cases. And for the next year tho quota would be based on annual exports of nil, 600,000, and 500,000 cases, which would decrease it to 366,000. In the following year there would bc a slight increase to 488,000. but for the next year it would fall again to 450,000, and in the sixth year, to 430.000. Exports would then be stabilized at approximately 450,000 cases, or about half of the original average. Should an extreme case of that kind arise, it is quite abvious that Parliament would have to amend this legislation further, and such a position could arise in. respect of any of the States if the amendment moved by the honorable member for Franklin be adopted. 1 admit that it is less likely to arise in respect of Tasmania, because that State enjoys the ideal climate for apple growing. For the last 10 years, or mort, it has experienced no major disaster in that industry. However, I do not think that any honorable member knows better than the honorable member for Franklin himself that of all industries the fruitgrowing industry is more likely to be visited by major disasters resulting in crops being completely lost, or, at least, reduced by half. I suggest, therefore, that it would be inimical to the interests of any State if we were to adopt a proposal of this kind.
I appreciate the arguments that this proposal, if adopted, would curtail expansion of the fruit-growing industry in other States where it is as yet in its infancy. Such submissions are countered largely by the contentions of the honorable member for West Sydney that the industry, ‘ as it exists to-day, ought to be given preference over problematical production in future years, lint 1 rely completely on the argument that. the proposal embodied in the amendment is not sufficiently elastic, and would not achieve what I understand to be the real objective which the honorable member for Franklin has in mind. The status quo ought to be definitely taken into consideration, and I should favour an amendment which, whilst allowing the board freedom of initiative to take into consideration any development in the industry which might call for special attention, sought to instruct the board that it must pay attention to the status quo. The board, however, should be free to depart from hard and fast quotas. I regret that I must oppose the amendment because I realize the valuable work which the honorable member for Franklin has done in connexion with this measure, and the very broad-minded view which he has taken of it as a whole. However, I feel that his suggestion is dangerous. There is a very strong argument for stabilizing the industry until such time as we know that we can, in fact, increase our exports, or until such time as we have educated the people of Australia to a greater consumption. For these reasons I shall oppose the amendment in its present form.
– I should not have addressed myself again to this measure, but for some remarks made by honorable members opposite which may have the effect of discrediting the apple-growers of Tasmania. It is a very poor argument to say that Tasmanian apples are grown from trees which are too old. The honorable member foi Adelaide (Mr. Stacey) stated that Tasmanian apples were packed in old green boxes. These statements arc incorrect. I regret that such a parochial not© has been introduced into this debate, when we are considering so important a matter as the stabilization of an industry which has proved beyond doubt that it is worth preserving. I appreciate the arguments which have been advanced from the point of view of Western Australia and of the other States which might fee] th.it the amendment, if carried, would militate against the development of the fruit-growing industry, by bringing about unfair competition to the advantage of Tasmania. I point out, however, that this measure is designed to limit the export of apples. Its ultimate result must be to restrict the development of orchards throughout Australia, because if markets are limited, the quota must be correspondingly limited. In respect of fruitgrowing, Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria are more or less gambling with climatic conditions, and those States must accept the difficulties which are bound to arise as the result of droughts and the visitations of pests. Tasmania, on the contrary, enjoys an ideal climate. The soil and conditions generally are ideal for apple growing. Some honorable members have alluded to the enormous acreage under orchards in other parts of Australia, but we must remember that Tasmania achieves far greater results from its comparatively smaller areas. Furthermore, honorable members should not overlook the tremendous amount of work which bus been put into the industry in Tasmania in the clearing of scrub. In the Huon district, for instance, extensive forests had to be cleared in order to make way for orchards, and nothing like the same amount of work in that direction has had to be done in other parts of Australia. Some honorable members suggest that Tasmania stands to lose if the amendment moved by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) is adopted. Tasmania is prepared to face that eventuality. Above all, it is entitled to hold what it has already achieved in this industry. Judging by his remarks, the honorable member for “Richmond (Mr. Anthony) knows nothing about this industry. Honorable members should approach this matter from the point of view of doing something in the best interests of the primary producers of Australia as a whole. I admit, that some of them must find it hard to give a decision that will favour the small State of Tasmania. We may enjoy some advantage in being close to the Sydney market, but we are further away from the London market than Western Australia. Shipping provides our only means of transport to the mainland and, at times, that is interrupted. Western Australia has no similar disability to contend with. I believe that the amendment will be carried. I urge honorable members to give to the State of Tasmania that to which it is fully entitled for having pioneered an industry which has proved to be so valuable to Australia.
. -I suggest that those honorable members who have already spoken in support of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) could not have read it, or at least have failed to understand it. In view of the fact that the Minister (Mr. Archie Cameron) has gone so far to meet the honorable member, it is really difficult to understand how he could persist with his proposal. The Minister has given way to some extent, and the honorable; members should be satisfied. Had the Government made a proposition in the first place similar to that which the Minister has now made, I should have had a good deal to say about it. I think it is going too far. In the circumstances I cannot understand the honorable member for Franklin pressing his proposal.
.-I wish to add a little more to what I have already said on this subject. I cannot support the amendment. It is a pity that the position of Tasmania has been over-stressed. Honorable members are showing a tendency to be a little too generous to that State. Tasmania has no inherent vested rights in the apple and pear industry. After all, it should be remembered that Victoria has 30,000 acres, and Tasmania has only 26,000 acres, under apples. We must face the facts of the situation. It has been said that Tasmania pioneered the apple exporting industry. The fact is that Victoria exported the first apples from Australia, ‘and has ever since been active in the industry. Although Tasmania is separated from the mainland by Bass Strait it should not be assumed that it necessarily suffers some disadvantage in respect of mainland markets. Shipping freights from Launceston and Hobart to Sydney are lower than railway freights from Harcourt, an apple-growing area of Victoria, to Mildura, an appleconsuming area in Victoria. The Tasmanian growers are in the better position to take advantage of the Sydney market than are the growers in Victoria. Tasmania should not be given an undue preference in connexion with this industry. In the final analysis we must surely bear in mind the welfare of the growers of all the States. The major purpose of this measure and others similar to it is to help the individual grower, and, in some degree, the individual wage-earner in the industry. I do not think we should make a rigid rule in regard to quotas, for that might put the applegrowers of Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria in a most unfair position. The Tasmanian growers will have four representatives on this board, which is twice the number that any other State will have, and four times the number that some States will have. They should be able to watch the interests of Tasmania. I do not desire to rob the Tasmanian apple-growers of any inherent rights that they possess. All I ask of honorable members is that they shall give fair consideration to the claims of applegrowers irrespective of where they happen to live.
– The honorable member would cripple the apple-growers of Tasmania.
.- I admire the enthusiasm of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) and acknowledge that he speaks with authority on this subject; but I regret that I cannot support his amendment. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn), who assured us that he did not look at the subject through State eyes, questioned whether the amendment of the honorable member for Franklin was constitutional. We must bear that in mind. I am not particularly concerned whether apples are grown on young or old trees. I am concerned, however, that only the best Australian apples shall be exported. Provided other conditions are satisfactory it does not make much difference whether apples are grown on young or old trees. Although I have no wish to discuss the subject from the State point of view, I remind honorable members of the occasion to which I referred in my second-reading speech, when about 100,000 cases of South Aus- tralian apples intended for export were left on the wharf and had to he sold on a glutted market. We must not allow a similar state of affairs to occur. I shall vote against the amendment.
.- Although considerable time has been given to the consideration of this clause, I am in duty bound to stress once again the claims of Tasmania. Notwithstanding the remarks of the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard), I assert that Tasmania pioneered our apple exporting industry. The first shipment of apples from that State was made in 1884, and from about 1887 regular consignments of apples have been sent from Tasmania to the British market. Tasmania has nurtured this industry and has done a great deal more than any other State to develop our apple export trade. We are proud of the fact. If the honorable member for Ballarat is interested in the beginning of things, let me remind him that Launceston is the mother of that wonderful city, Melbourne. It has been argued that Victoria has a greater acreage under apples than Tasmania. That is true, but Victoria has not been able always to supply its quota for the export trade, whereas Tasmaniahas rarely failed to do so. Experience has shown beyond question that Tasmania’s production is much more reliable than that of Victoria or any other mainland State. I remember that on one occasion Tasmania had to provide 9,000 cases of apples to make up the Victorian quota. In fact, all through the years Tasmania has been a. far more reliable producer of apples than any other State. This being so, it should not now be placed at a disadvantage. The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn) cited certain figures to show that a quota system might work to the disadvantage of Tasmania. Even if that is so, Tasmanian growers prefer to adhere to the quota system on a definite basis, and to take whatever risk is involved. In view of Tasmania’s long connexion with the industry, the high quality of its products, and the reliability of its output, it would be grossly unfair if, at this stage, Tasmanian growers were penalized in order to suit the convenience of certain States with an expanding production. Unless extreme care is taken in dealing with this industry, Australia will be faced with all the difficulties of overproduction, and our growers will not be able to find a satisfactory market for their product. In these circumstances, I shall support the amendment.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Frost’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The committee divided. (Temporary Chairman - Mr. Makin.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendments (by Mr. Archie Cameron) agreed to -
That after sub-clause (1.) the following subclause be inserted: - “ (1a.) In adopting a basis to be applied by the board in accordance with paragraph (1) of the last preceding sub-section the board shall take into consideration the average yearly exports overseas of apples and pears from each State during the period of three years immediately preceding the year in which the basis is adopted and such other factors relating to the production of apples or pears in each State and the available markets therefor as the board thinks necessary.”
That the word “may”, sub-clause (6) be omitted with a. view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ shall “.
That the words “ For the purpose of arriving at a decision upon “ be inserted at the beginning of sub-clause (7).
That the words “ for decision shall be decided by him”, sub-clause (7), be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “the arbitrator shall take into consideration the average yearly exports overseas of apples or pears from each State during the period of three years immediately preceding the year in which the matter is so referred, and such other factors relating to the production of apples or pears in each State and the available markets therefor as he thinks necessary and shall decide the matter “.
.-I move -
That the following new sub-clause be added : - “ (8.) Any person who has applied for a licence under this section may, in the prescribed manner and subject to the conditions prescribed, appeal to a police stipendiary or special magistrate from the refusal or failure of the board to recommend that a licence be issued to him.Upon such appeal the police, stipendiary or special magistrate shall re-hear the application and decide upon the matter and theboard shall give effect to any decision made by him in accordance with this subsection.”.
It is my aim in the proposed amendment to prevent any possibility of the victimization of an exporter by the refusal of the Minister, on the recommendation of the board, to grant a licence to export. If it should happen that the board were prejudiced against any exporter it could ruin his industry by causing him to be refused a licence. From experience of other Commonwealth marketing legislation, we know that it is possible for a man to be refused a licence to export produce. Under this bill, a person who was refused a licence would have no opportunity to appeal against the refusal. The Minister would be guided by the board, and, if the board recommended that an exporter should be refused a licence or should have his licence cancelled, the Minister would act in accordance with its recommendation.
– A Minister who would do that should not hold his job.
– The Minister who will administer this bill is not to be the Minis ter who is piloting it through this chamber, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), who has gone to another department. I am sorry that he has been taken from the Department of Commerce, because he has done a great amount of work not only in connexion with this bill, but also generally in the department. Now that he has been made Postmaster-General, we shall have as the Minister, who shall administer this measure, a Minister who is not sympathetic towards the fruit industry.
– Who is that?
– The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) who, in his capacity as Minister for Commerce, has hitherto had the invaluable help of the honorable gentleman himself. That right honorable gentleman is not sympathetic towards the fruit-growers. Only last year, when I approachedthe right honorable Minister on behalf of the small fruit-growers, he turned them down with resultant ruin to thousand? of growers. He is the Minister who is to take the administration of this legislation in hand. Not only is too much power given to the board by this bill, but also the exporters are given no right of appeal from its decisions, and, for that reason, I trust that the Government will accept the amendment. It should not cause any trouble, because any person who did approach a magistrate’s court, in pursuance of the amendment, with an appeal against the Minister’s cancellation of his licence or refusal to grant him a licence, would have to bear the expense. If, however, he could show, to the satisfaction of the magistrate, that there had been victimization, he would receive the justice of a court of law and be enabled to retain his licence or to obtain a licence, whichever be the case, whereas the intention of the bill, as it is at present drafted, is that the last word shall rest with the Minister, who will be guided by the recommendations of the board.
– The honorable gentleman apparently does not have a great deal of faith in the proposed board.
– Exporters have been victimized in the past, and it is possible for them to be victimized in the future. I say nothing now about the board, but it could happen that an exporter would come into conflict with it, and that, in retaliation, it would recommend to the Minister that his licence be cancelled. The Minister would act on the board’s recommendation. That is what I seek to prevent. Such victimization could be preventable, if a man, who felt that he had been victimized, was able, at his own expense, to take his case to a magistrate, who would investigate the circumstances of the cancellation and, according to his findings, revoke the cancellation, or allow it to stay in force.I feel that a provision of the nature contained in my amendment was not intentionally omitted when this bill was being drafted; because the existing provisions make the Minister a dictator in whose power lies decision as to who shall send fruit abroad. I commend the amendment to the committee.
.- Before coming to a decision as to what I shall do in respect of this amendment, I should like to have some more information as to what position might be reached in the event of an application being made to, say, a police magistrate, if a licence were refused, and as to what would be the extent of the magistrate’s powers. For example, could a police magistrate restore a licence which had been cancelled, despite the fact that the exporter was completely unwilling to conform to the general export policy laid down by the board? The position, asI understand it, is that a licence would never be cancelled unless the exporter definitely refused to conform to the general principles laid down by the hoard in the interests of the industry as a whole, in which case recommendation would be made to the Minister by the board that the licence be cancelled, for the reason that the exporter would not conform to the general policy laid down by it. If the amendment were accepted, an appeal could be made to a police magistrate, who may know little or nothing about the industry, or the purpose for which the board was established, and he, using the powers which, presumably, he would have, might rule that the right to export be restored to a man who would not conform tothe policy to which all of his brother exporters were required to conform. 1 should like to know whether the appeal, would be merely to the magistrate to determine whether or not a man had been unjustly treated, in that, despite the fact that he was willing to conform to the general policy of the board, he had been refused a licence, or whether it would bo so broad as to enable the granting of a licence by the magistrate, over the head of the Minister, to a man who would not conform to the general export policy of the board. If I am not satisfied on this point, I cannot support the amendment. I appreciate what is in the mind of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost), who desires to ensure that there shall be no possibility of victimization, but I can assure the honorable gentleman that to-day the Minister, on the recommendation of many other boards, has the same power as is given to him under this bill, and 1 have never heard in a great number of years of victimization of exporters in the exercise of those powers. I am afraid that if the amendment is agreed to in the form proposed the committee would be putting into the hands of police magistrates power to prevent the proposed board from carrying out the duties which Parliament in this bill is entrusting to it for the benefit of the apple and pear industry.
Silting adjourned from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
.- This clause confers upon the board power to make regulations, and to deal with persons deemed to have infringed such regulations. The board will consist of representatives of all of the States. Doubtless, there will be considerable competition on behalf of local interests between the various States, and a division of opinion amongst the members of the board is to be expected. It is idle to assume that all the members of the board will hold similar views. The clause provides for certain contingencies when the board is not unanimous. A remarkable situation may arise in the fixing of quotas owing to differences of opinion amongst the members of the board. The board has power to make regulations to control the export of the commodities with which the bill deals.
– The board has not the power to make regulations.
– It has the power to recommend the regulations to be promulgated. There is nothing in the bill to ensure that the decisions of the board shall be unanimous in inflicting penalties on exporters. In the event of there being a difference of opinion, I presume that the Minister will be bound to accept the decision of a simple majority. It is quite conceivable that there will be differences of opinion among exporters as to the authority to be exercised by the board; in that way conflict of opinion will arise. When an exporter is deemed by the board to have infringed the regulations the Minister may, on the recommendation of the board, suspend or cancel his licence, and so prevent him from carrying on his business. Although the board may not be unanimous in recommending a penalty, the Minister will have no option but to inflict such penalty. If the offender be an exporter, the position will be serious, but should he be a grower and also an exporter depending on the export market, he will be denied the right of any return from his business. There is no appeal against the decision of the board, because the clause clearly states that the hoard may make prohibitory recommendations to the Minister against an individual. An exporter can be registered only on the recommendation of the hoard. Should there be a division of opinion amongst the members of the hoard concerning a disqualification a similar difference of opinion may prevail to the detriment of the person when be lodges an appeal. The framers of this legislation apparently believe that there will bc occasions when the board is not unanimous in the matter of quotas. In such cases there can be an appeal to a court.
– No; an appeal can be made to an arbitrator. That is a different matter. An arbitrator has to decide on facts and a court has to decide on points of law.
– Whether the authority be a court or an arbitrator is beside the point. The fact is that there is an appeal to an outside authority. There is no appeal to an arbitrator when a disqualification is involved. When the board is not unanimous on the subject of quotas, an appeal can be made to an arbitrator, whose decision the board must accept. If an exporter is also a grower it is much more important that he should retain his right to export. When an appeal is made to the board, that body will not be likely to reverse its decision. In respect of all offences against the law there is some form of appeal, but in this instance there is to be no appeal except to the authority which imposes the penalty. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) has moved the following amendment : -
Any person who has applied for a licence under this section may, in the prescribed manner and subject to the conditions prescribed appeal to a police, stipendiary or special magistrate from the refusal or failure of the hoard to recommend that a licence be issued to him. Upon such appeal the police, stipendiary or special magistrate shall re-hear the application and decide upon the matter and the board shall give effect to any decision made by him in accordance with this subsection.
There ought to be some form of appeal. The honorable member for Franklin, who is closely associated with the industry, has shown that in many instances it is not the board which deals with offenders, but inspectors who report to the board. It has been alleged that there is a certain degree of victimization, and even if victimization is not actually practised, the possibility of it is always present. The board on the recommendation of an inspector, may deprive an exporter of his legitimate livelihood, but should the exporter be also a grower, he may have to dispose of his property. I trust that the Minister will accept the amendment moved by the honorable member for Franklin to provide the right of appeal, particularly as that right is provided in connexion with the most trivial offences involving small fines or short terms of imprisonment. There seems ample justification for a right of appeal from the decision of the board to some independent authority to be provided.
– I cannot allow the statements made by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) to pass without some explanation. The honorable member said that in the event of an offence against the regulations the offending person would be tried and condemned by the board. That will not bc so. If a person offends against the export regulations he may be tried in a customs court or a police court. lie will not be tried by the board. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) is asking the committee to insert a new sub-clause to provide that an applicant for a licence shall, in the event of his application being refused, have the right to appeal to a court. The Minister is the only person who can grant or deprive a man of a licence. The possession of a licence to export does not give a person the right, to export. He has to get a permit in respect of <?ach shipment.
– ‘Without a licence he cannot obtain a permit.
– That is so. It has never been suggested previously that in the event of failure to obtain a licence a person should have the right to appeal to a court of law. If he wishes to appeal from a decision of the board, the appeal should be made to the Minister.
– That is not the point.
– It is. No other appeal is required. The amendment is unnecessary, and I trust that it will be rejected.
.- Whatever interpretation the Minister puts on this clause, the fact remains that the clause as it is now drafted provides that the mere ipse dixit of the Minister may deprive a grower of his right to export. All that the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) wants is that the grower in such circumstances should have the right to appeal to a police, stipendiary, or special magistrate. I am unable to understand the opposition of members of the Country party to this amendment. They should be wiling to do everything within their power to protect primary producers against unfair treatment. To give power to the board to withdraw a licence to export smacks of star chamber methods. The proposal is absurd and is opposed to elementary justice. I appeal to members of the Country party to realize that the amendment moved by the honorable member for Franklin does not ask too much. If tha clause is left as it stands at present, a combination of circumstances may arise in. which a number of interstate exporters may be able to frame-up a charge against a grower and be instrumental in having his licence withdrawn. It has been done before. The history of this* country contains many injustices inflicted on individuals by boards such as that proposed in this bill. If a grower has done something which, in the opinion of the Minister, warrants the withdrawal of his licence, he should, in common fairness, be given the right to appeal to a magistrate. We are content to allow magistrates to adjudicate in criminal cases, and there is no reason why a magistrate should not act as fairly and impartially in an appeal against the decision of the board to cancel a licence as he would in a criminal case. I appeal to the Minister to give this matter his very serious consideration. The Parliament of a democratic country should not, in any circumstances, deny elementary justice to any person.
.- I have a good deal of sympathy for the amendment. What concerns me most is whether there is under this clause a right of appeal at all from the decision of tha board. As I read it. the Minister must act on the recommendation of the board. The recommendation of the board is a condition precedent to his so acting. Subclause 5 provides that where a licence has been suspended the Minister may in certain circumstances have it restored. The condition precedent to the restoration of the licence is that the person whose licence has been suspended or cancelled has given a satisfactory undertaking to comply with the prescribed conditions and restrictions. But the Minister may act only on report by the board that that undertaking has been given. If it came to a contest between the Minister and the board I do not think the Minister would have authority to overrule the board. The honorable member for Franklin has proposed, as a safeguard, a right of appeal to a magistrate. After all, magistrates are accustomed to determine such issues, and they are much more likely to do justice to the question than is a Minister situated, perhaps, thousands of miles away from the scene of the inquiry. Under the Motor Traffic Acts of the various States, licences have to be obtained to drive a motor car. The issue of these licences is within the power of the police, but throughout the States there is a right of appeal to a stipendiary magistrate against the decision of the police. In Western Australia we have the Estate Agents Act which requires estate agents to be licensed. The authorities have the right to refuse an application; but in the event of a refusal, the applicant may appeal to a stipendiary magistrate. I think that the clause should clearly express a right of appeal either to the Minister or to a magistrate. As a matter of preference, I suggest that provision should be made for appeal to the latter. If a case involving the suspension or cancellation of a licence arose in Western Australia, the Minister would bo 2,000 miles away and would have no local representative to conduct the inquiry; he would have to rely on the local representatives of the board in that State to do so. I do not know how, in these circumstances, the Minister could have a proper inquiry made. It is obvious that he himself could not make the necessary personal investigation. I have no desire to oppose the Government on this matter, but I should like the Minister to look into it, in order to satisfy himself as to whether some provision for appeal should be made. If an appeal is to be allowed it is desirable that it should be to a magistrate rather than to the Minister.
– I am amazed at the attitude adopted by the Minister (Mr. Archie Cameron) in regard to the very reasonable amendment moved by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost). One would think that the Minister knew nothing about the trials and tribulations of primary producers. One might expect such hostility from the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) and other honorable members who have no sympathy whatever for the primary producers in respect of the bureaucratic control sometimes practised by boards of this kind. We know that there are circumstances in which the members of the board may, for personal or others reasons, decide to recommend to the Minister the cancellation of a certain grower’s licence. Surely there is no reason why the right of appeal to an impartial tribunal should not be given to the grower against such a decision of the board. In the consideration of this measure honorable members are indebted to the honorable member for Franklin for giving to us the benefit of his many years of practical experience as a fruit-grower. I feel sure that he will be able to give us some instances of victimization that have, occurred in the past, following outspoken criticism of the administration by a board. I do not want the matter left to the Minister. The right should be reserved to the grower to appeal to a police or stipendiary magistrate against decisions of the board. I am satisfied that if that were done the grower would receive impartial consideration of his case. We may be perfectly satisfied as to the impartiality of the present Minister, but, it is quite possible that we shall not get the same sympathetic consideration from his successor. I cannot understand opposition to the amendment from members of the Country party.
.- I was rather surprised to hear the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) talking as he did of appeals against the decision of the board. I am even surprised that the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) should suggest that there should be an appeal from the decision of the board to a police, stipendiary or special magistrate. Consideration of this bill reveals that in order to appease the desires of the fruit-growers a board is to be appointed, on which representatives from practically every State will be appointed. Tasmania is to have four representatives, Victoria two, New South Wales one, Queensland one and Western Australia two. Provision has also been made for the appointment of representatives of exporters. Why does the honorable member for Franklin doubt the integrity of a board which is to be elected by the growers? It is presumed that the growers will elect fair-minded men of sound judgment. Nearly all primary producers are very fair minded, except -when they come to this Parliament asking for bounties. Before this bill was drafted the then Assistant Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie Cameron) travelled through the States and sought the opinion of the growers, and it is presumed that the bill represents what the growers themselves want. -I am unable to understand why the honorable member for Franklin should doubt the ability of the board to test the credibility of witnesses who may appear before it. in connexion with some misdemeanour by a grower which has led to the cancellation of his licence. 1 see no reason for hampering the administration of the board in the manner suggested by the honorable member. The board itself is eminently suited to deal with infringements by growers. It has been said that when a licence has been suspended by the board the grower has the right of appeal to the Minister
– The board has no power to cancel the licence issued to a grower. It must be done by the Minister on the recommendation of the board ; but a grower whose licence has been cancelled will not know of the cancellation until he is so informed by the Minister.
– The grower will know thai immediately his licence is cancelled or withdrawn by the board the Minister will be called upon to adjudicate in the matter. Apparently, the honorable member for Franklin is not willing to trust the Minister, or the board. In this matter, he and those who support him are not doing justice to the people engaged in the industry. He has told us that Tasmanian fruit-growers are well served by the existing board, which is responsible for marketing arrangements on the mainland, and for the export of surplus fruit. My chief complaint is that the best of the Tasmanian fruit is not sent to the Sydney market. I feel sure that growers in Western Australia will not approve of the amendment and I hope that it will not be carried.
.- The object of the bill is to assist the apple and pear industry, and in order to do this it has been decided to set up a hoard comprising growers and exporters nf apples and pears. Fu less the proposed board be armed with the necessary powers it will not function properly, and it is essential that the grower? should have some protection against possible misunderstanding or victimization. The board, as has been pointed out. will not lightly cancel a grower’s or nui exporter’s licence, lt will do so only if it is convinced that there has been a contravention of the regulations. Under the amendment a police or stipendiary magistrate will be vested with more power than will be possessed by the board itself, and there is nothing to indicate on what ground the court may reverse the decision of the board. A police magistrate may have his own opinion on the board’s policy.
– And different magistrates may hold different views.
– That is so. I agree that some measure of protection is necessary for the grower or for the exporter who may lose his licence and, as a result, may suffer great monetary loss, if not actual 7’u 111. Therefore, the Minister should determine whether or nut a licence should be restored. As the clause stands he has not that power. He may be convinced that a grower or exporter has been victimized, but unless the board recommends the restoration of a cancelled licence, the Minister will be powerless. I suggest further consideration of sub-clause 4 which should be amended in order to give the Minister wider authority. The elimination of the words “on report by the board “ would meet the case, because the clause would then give the grower the privilege of a direct appeal to the Minister. I give notice of my intention to move for the re-committal of the clause at a later stage.
– Whilst I have a great deal of respect for the opinion of the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), I disagree with his argument. Always, when marketing legislation relating to other primary industries has been under consideration, the strongest arguments against the appointment of boards has been that they might lead to political control, whereas the intention has been to give producer control to the industry concerned. If we adopted the suggestion of the honorable member for Richmond, we should simply be substituting political control of the apple and pear industry for control by its representatives.
– Under the clause as it stands, the Minister cannot act without a recommendation from the board.
– Exactly. It is inadvisable for any Minister to take drastic action without first having a recommendation from a board elected by the growers themselves. Sub-clauses 3, 4 and 5 should be considered together. Subclause 3 enacts that any person who exports pears from the Commonwealth -
Then there follows mention of a maximum penalty of £100. Sub-clause 4 provides -
Where the Minister is satisfied, on report by the board, that any person to whom a licence under this section has been granted has contravened or failed to comply with the prescribed conditions and restrictions, the Minister may, on the recommendation of the board, suspend or cancel the licence.
I take it that it is not mere accident that these two sub-clauses come in that sequence.I assume that, before the Minister will be satisfied that the holder of a licence has contravened or failed to comply with the prescribed conditions, either the exporter will have admitted that he has flouted the regulations or, his contravention will have been proved. In either case, the amendment would have no force. Sub-clause 5 contains provisions for the restoration of a licence or the issue of a. fresh licence if the person contravening the regulations gives an undertaking that he will comply with them in future.
– Does not that suggest political control?
– No, because in each case the Minister must have a recommendation from the board. If he might act without first receiving a recommendation from the growers’ own board, his action would savour of political control; but if the board must first recommend such action to him the matter will be largely taken out of the political field and controlled wholly by the board elected for the benefit of the industry by the growers themselves.
– If the Minister were to reject the board’s recommendation, would there not be political influence ?
– I suppose that is always possible, because it is unthinkable that in a parliament constituted as is this one, a Minister must necessarily adopt the recommendation of a board. We have had a good deal of experience with respect to the refusal to grant a licence, to guideus in these matters, because there are five different export boards already similar in their constitution, with powers almost identical with those proposed in regard to this board. Two of them have been operating for fourteen years, and two others for some nine or ten years. In no case that has come to my knowledge has this power beenabused in any way. What right havewe to assume that the power will be abused in connexion with the apple and pear industry, when no wrong advantage has been taken of it in connexion with the dairying, dried fruits, canned fruits, wine and meat industries?
– Why do we assume, in sub-clause 6 - which provides for arbitration - that the board may be wrong? That shows that the board will not be infallible.
– That relates to entirely different matters, which are dealt with under sub-clause 1. I cannot for the life of me see the necessity for this proposal. It seems to me that, in bringing it forward, the assumption has been drawn that an exporter may be unjustly prevented from obtaining a licence. I cannot imagine such a situation arising. I can only conceive of an exporter being refused a. licence after he had actually contravened the provisions of the act. If we are to give a police or stipendiary magistrate the power to override the stipulated conditions, we might as well not pass the bill, because its objects could be nullified by such action. I am entirely opposed to the amendment as drafted.
. - The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) has made a statement concerning the inability of the Government to give instructions to courts of law. I can recall a very interesting evening spent in this chamber during the last period of the session, in debating that very point. It was then shown, by reference to different law volumes, that this Parliament has more than once instructed the courts as to what they should do.
– I should like to have an instance to prove the correctness of that statement.
– If the honorable member will refer to the debate on the national health and pensions insurance legislation, he will find several such instances cited. Lf I remember rightly, he played a rather inglorious part in that debate in opposition to the Attorney-General .(Mr. Menzies).
The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) has made some very pertinent references to political control. I believe that every one who is in opposition to the Government in this matter will concede that one of the objects of this measure is some kind of uniform administration for the benefit of the apple and pear industry. If there is to be uniformity in the administration of the law, it stands to reason that there must be one authority to make decisions. Two authorities are provided for in the clause aa it. stands, first the Apple and Pear Export Board, and secondly, the Minister. The honorable member for Franklin has suggested that any dissatisfied person should have the right of appeal to different classes of magistrates in any State. If there were 24 appeals there might be decisions by eighteen different magistrates, on a variety of grounds, all of which might be wrong. I believe that the honorable members for Batman (Mr. Brennan) and Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) will concede that there is nothing infallible about the decisions of police and stipendiary magistrates in our courts of law; the higher courts are cluttered up with appeals from their decisions on what ought to be fairly simple matters for determination.
Then there is the manner in which licences should be suspended or cancelled. I cannot understand why honorable mem bers who are in opposition to the Government can read sub-clauses 3, 4 and 5 without coming to one decision. Subclause 3 lays it down that if certain contraventions of the act or regulations take place a fine not exceeding £100 may be imposed. That penalty can not be imposed by either the Minister or the board, but only by a court of law. Consequently, before there can be any question of the restoration of the licence, one of two things must happen - either, the offending exporter must have been convicted in a court of law of some offence against the act or regulations, or - as I have seen in several cases - the person concerned must have admitted to the authorities that he had been guilty of a breach of the act or regulations. I remember a couple of cases in which certain persons had admitted to the Commonwealth that they had offended against the regulations, as the result of which their licences were suspended for a period. There was no question of an appeal to law; they did not want to go into court and have their offence published to- the world. As drafted, this measure provides for a number of contingencies in a manner which will be for the benefit of the exporters; those provisions have not been mentioned by honorable members. As the honorable member for Gippsland has said, we should be well advised not to make alterations to the bill without knowing exactly what might happen.
.- The Minister is only partly right in regard to convictions. Under the Commerce Act there is the right of appeal to a customs officer in the State, or to a court of law. A grower knows that when he has had convictions recorded against him by inspectors, he has very little chance of winning an appeal in a court of law.
– But that is where the honorable gentleman wishes to send him.
– If an inspector wishes to victimize a grower, he can do so. I have been associated with this trade for a number of years. At one annual fruit, conference in Hobart, in, I think, 1933 or 1.934, 1 had a good deal to say in criticism of the inspection of fruit, which at that time was fairly bad. When I left the conference, seven or eight growers from the Huon fruit-growing district said to me, “ Change your brand “. When I asked why I should do sothey replied, “ Change it next year, or you will get ‘ copped ‘ “. I said, “ What do you mean “ ? and was told, “ They will have a conviction against you if you do not change your brand. We agree with e very word that you have said to-day, but you will be victimized next year “.I said I do not care whether they victimize me or not, I am going through with it “. In the following year I made about 40 shipments. In the first boat I shipped 100 bushels of Ripston Pippins. The packer had packed 107 bushels, and asked whether he would ship the lot. I. replied, “No, we are restricted to 100 bushels; send only that quantity’”. That shipment was passed. On the following day I proposed to ship 93 bushels of another variety, and to make up the balance with the seven bushels of Ripston Pippins that had been left over, but the seven bushels were condemned. In the middle of the season I submitted 80 bushels of Cleopatras, and was told that they were of irregular size. I rang the inspector, who toldme there was not a blemish on the fruit but that some were larger than others. That was the second conviction. While on an election campaign, a further 93 bushels were packed, with an additional seven bushels of Democrats to make up the shipment, but the seven bushels were rejected. The authorities were determined that the three convictions which must precede a penalty should he recorded against me. When I returned home after the campaign I decided to have my case tried by the Collector of Customs. When that officer had heard the evidence of my grower and packers, ho said, “ It seems strange that you were convicted on that”. The seven eases had not been touched ; they were still in the lorryman’s sheds. They had been picked out of 200 bushels. I issued the challenge, “I will drive you in my car to the orchard, and if you can find one apple affected with black spot in the 200 bushels I shall give the lot to charity”. That challenge was not accepted, and I was fined £1. If a grower stands on his rights, he does not always get justice. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) has referred to a number of other boards. Those that he mentioned deal not with a perishable product but with an article that can be kept. Once fruit has been taken off the wharf, it cannot be reinspected. Other growers have told me that they have been harassed in the same manner. Last year, certain growers who had been convicted seven or eight times were not fined, although I had been. Other growers with seven or eight convictions were not even questioned. Yet it is contended that there is no risk of injustice.
– That was not the action of a board.
– The board will be told by the inspectors of contraventions by the shippers of fruit.
– Is there any appeal to a court of law from the decision of the Tasmanian Fruit Board ?
– The board does not have to deal with the export of the fruit.
– It must have some authority.
– It has authority only to give an opinion in regard to fruit on the wharf; it has nothing to do with the export of the fruit, or with the refusal of a licence. Last year, members of the board took me down to the wharf and I disagreed with some of the decisions of the inspectors.
– Can the honorable gentleman cite a case in which a licence has been cancelled by the Department of Commerce?
– The Department of Commerce has never had the power to cancel a licence in the past, but this measure provides statutory power for cancellation under certain conditions. Any man who criticizes the inspection of fruit can be victimized. There is sufficient power to enable the authorities to prevent a grower from exporting his fruit, and thus ruin him. I can produce letters from leading fruit brokers in Great Britain, informing me that I had obtained the best prices for my fruit. My averages have carried me through for the last 30 years. I have a good name on the English market, because I send only good fruit there, yet I have been victimized by the officials. I trust that the committee will agree to the amendment, and thus give the grower an opportunity to prove the justice of his case. If it could be proved that a mau had been contravening the act by shipping bad fruit, he would not appeal, but if his conviction were merely for the purpose of victimization because he had aired his views at fruit conferences, or had aroused the antagonism of inspectors, he should have the opportunity to get redress.
– I cannot allow the statement by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) to pass without reply. The points which he has raised have nothing to do with the question before the committee. The clause relates to the licensing of a person to ship fruit overseas; it has nothing to do with the quality of the fruit.
– But if there were proof that fruit of inferior quality had been exported, would not the shipper be likely to lose his licence?
– He could be tried in a court, of law, the maximum penalty provided being £100. The honorable member for Franklin asks the committee to do an extraordinary thing. He does not suggest that an exporter who is dissatisfied should have the right of appeal to a court of law against refusal of a licence, but he asks for the right of appeal to a police, stipendiary, or special magistrate against the refusal or failure of the board to recommend the issue to him of a licence, which is an entirely different thing. If a person had been refused a licence by the Minister, I could understand honorable members opposite arguing in favour of the right of appeal to another tribunal, but I cannot see justification for the right of appeal against the board’s failure to recommend the granting of a licence. I am afraid that this is a matter which the committee will have to decide by vote.
– I do not feel disposed to allow what the Minister (“Mr. Archie Cameron) has said to pass without comment. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) has suggested, in his amendment, the only way in which the position can be safeguarded. He desires the exporter to have the right of appeal to a magistrate, in the event of the board refusing or failing to recommend that a licence be issued to him. According to the bill, a licence can be granted only on the board’s recommendation.
– The Minister could refuse a licence, even after the board had recommended the granting of one.
– The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson), who lias had experience in these matters, said it was unthinkable that the Minister would do such a thing. I repeat that a licence could not be originally issued without the authority of the board, and, having been taken away on the board’s recommendation, it could not be re-issued without the board’s authority. The amendment would make possible an appeal to override the decision of the board. Not one member who has spoken has disagreed with the view that there should be a right, of appeal; the difference of opinion is only as to the way in which that right should bc exercised. The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) said that the exporter could appeal to the Minister. I point out that, according to sub-clauses 4 and 5, an appeal could be successful to the Minister only if the board had made a recommendation accordingly.
– Anybody could approach the Minister.
– Of course, but the bill does not give the Minister the right to act on his own initiative. Sub-clause 4 provides that if the Minister is satisfied, “ on report by the board that the holder of a licence has contravened, or failed to comply with, the prescribed conditions, the Minister may suspend or cancel the licence; but, first, a recommendation to that effect must have been received by the Minister from the board. Sub-clause 5 states -
Where the Minister is satisfied, on report by the board, that any person whose licence under this section has been suspended or cancelled …. the Minister may, on the recommendation of the board ….
It is perfectly clear that only on a recommendation being made by the board can the Minister act in the matter of granting or re-issuing licences. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) suggested that the difficulty _ could be got over by leaving out the words “ on report by the board,” and by allowing the Minister to exercise the right which the honorable member for Barton assumes he already has. The honorable member for Gippsland thought that, if the Minister had the right to veto a decision of the board, it would give rise to the suggestion of political interference; but, even if the Minister acted with the consent of the board, political control would be possible. The decision would ultimately come from the Minister, although as the result of a recommendation by the board. Regulations are made by the GovernorGeneral, yet, in practice, the Minister would act on the recommendation of the board in framing the regulations, and probably 90 per cent, of them would originate from the board.
– But the Minister might not, accept the board’s recommendations.
– Undoubtedly, a very large proportion of the regulations would be based on the board’s recommendations to the Minister. The board would decide whether an offence sufficient to warrant a cancellation of a licence had been committed, and, in the event of an appeal against such a cancellation, the Minister would have no voice in the matter until the board had reversed its own previous decision. The honorable member for Gippsland regards it as unthinkable that a recommendation of the board would not be acceptable to the Minister, because the board is to be representative of the growers; but I think that the honorable member will admit that the all-important question of export quotas is of vastly greater moment to the growers in the various States than is the withdrawal of a single licence. And provision is made in sub-clause 6 for reference to an arbitrator where the board is not unanimous in its decision regarding quantities and quotas for export. This seems to undermine the idea that the board would be infallible. The only appeal provided in the bill for a person who may have been victimized is one from Caesar to Caesar, and I claim for the grower elementary justice. As the honorable member for Franklin pointed out, the holder of a licence might be a grower and an exporter who depended for his livelihood entirely on the production of fruit for export. If he were denied the right to export his produce, we might as well drive him off his orchard. Even a person who is fined 5s. in a police court or is ordered to be imprisoned until the rising of the court, for drunkenness or riotous behaviour, is not denied the right of appeal against his conviction. Therefore, in a matter in which a fruit exporter’s whole livelihood is at stake, he should not be denied the right of appeal against the cancellation of his licence. Every honorable member who lias spoken admits the simple justice of this contention, and the honorable member for Franklin merely asks that an outside authority, with no axe to grind, such as a police, .stipendiary, or special magistrate, should be called in to adjudicate in the event of an appeal. Yet, on n far more important matter, that of quotas, an outside arbitrator is to be appointed. Surely, if it is right that in respect of the great body of growers the right of appeal should he recognized, the same measure of justice should not be denied to the individual grower who may fall foul of the board.
.- I agree in large measure with the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) on this matter, and I give notice that I shall move an amendment providing that the suspension or cancellation of the licence for which provision is made in sub-clause 4 shall be after consultation with, and not on the recommendation of, the board. I maintain that the growers should not be required to go before a. magistrate. Probably they would have to employ a lawyer, and before they knew where, they were they would find themselves in an unholy mess. I have prosecuted before the courts for many years, and I know that you can get more justice outside courts than inside them. With all due respect to the legal fraternity, I believe that the method of round-table conferences away from lawyers and magistrates altogether is the better way. I do not propose to follow the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) into all the details of his experiences with the export authorities. My opinion, however, is that if he packed fruit of the wrong size, contrary to the regulations, he deserved to be prosecuted. The grower is not the only person to be protected. The public also, and the good name of this country, must be protected. As for the other incidents which the honorable member related, I believe that if he reported to the proper authorities the inspector responsible they would very soon be able to learn whether the man was a fool or not.
.- The scope of the amendment of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) seems to be over-estimated by some members of the committee. The bill provides, first, for the licensing of the grower who desires to export. Without a licence he cannot export. That licence is to be given to him by the Minister, or by the Minister’s Deputy, on the recommendation of the board, and no principles are laid down for the guidance of the board. It is not told upon what principle it is to grant licences, and yet, apparently, there is no legal right in the grower to obtain a licence. Under the legislation relating to the waterside workers, it has been held by the High Court that the waterside worker has a right to be granted a licence, and, having been granted one, has the right to have it renewed. That ruling is based on the language of the act, but the language of this bill is different. It is not the intention of the Government, as expressed in this hill, to give every grower a legal right to obtain a licence.
– And if he breaks the law?
– I shall come to that later. The Waterside Workers Act uses the word “may”, hut the High Court held that, notwithstanding the use of the word “ may “, it was intended that every waterside worker should have the right to obtain a licence, and to have it renewed.
– Then the High Court ruled that the word “may” did not give discretion.
– Apparently so. In this bill, however, we have more than the word “may”.* The licence is to be granted on the recommendation of the board. Therefore, if the board does not recommend the granting of a licence the Minister cannot grant it, and the bill “ contains nothing to guide the board in the making of recommendations. The board may capriciously refuse to grant a licence, and the applicant will have no remedy. The only appeal which tha amendment of the honorable member for Franklin provides is an appeal against the refusal to grant a first application for a licence. If a grower applies for a licence, and the board refuses to recommend that it be granted, lie may appeal from the recommendation, and there will then be an examination of the facts. If a magistrate, after hearing the facts, recommends that a licence be granted, the magistrate’s recommendation is to have the same effect as if the board had made the recommendation, and the Minister may act upon it. It is not suggested that there shall he an appeal from the Minister. The Minister does not investigate; he merely acts upon the recommendation of the board.
So much for the first application, but there is a later stage. A man in possession of a licence may have that licence suspended or cancelled. In this regard, principles are laid down for the guidance of the board. The board will not recommend the suspension or cancellation of a licence unless it reports that the licensee has contravened or failed to comply with the prescribed conditions and restrictions. The board has to find certain things before it can recommend the suspension or cancellation of a licence. The honorable member’s amendment does not propose an appeal from the cancellation or suspension of a licence. He may have intended it to provide for that, but it. does not, in fact, do so. All that it does is to provide for an appeal against the refusal of an original application for a licence.
– Suppose the grower applied again after having been refused a licence, would not his case then be covered by the amendment ?
– I should think not, because that would enable the whole purpose of the clause -to be defeated. I should say that the original application is regarded as something different from the subsequent application.
– But it is not stipulated that the provision is confined to the first application.
– There is no mention of a renewal of the licence. Apparently, a grower, once having been given a licence, will remain licensed for all time unless his licence is suspended or cancelled.
– What is meant by the reference in sub-clause 5 to the issue of a fresh licenced
– That refers to the special power given to the Minister to issue a fresh licence to a man whose previous licence had, on the report of the hoard, been suspended or cancelled. That makes it clear to me that the original application is regarded as quite distinct from any later application. It seems undesirable to leave the grower at the mercy of the board in the first instance. He should have the right to continue in the business he was in before the passing of the act, and he will ]10t have that right as the clause now stands. The board should not be given unrestricted power to refuse a licence, without which a grower cannot carry on the business of exporting. It is not suggested that wo should disturb the power of the board to recommend the suspension or cancellation of a licence, because in that case the board must report certain facts against the grower. The Minister will have the report before him, and the Minister will probably be in a better position than a police magistrate would bc to examine the matter. I agree with those who say that they would rather trust to the discretion of the Minister than to n police magistrate, who would be unfamiliar with the matter. Some provision, however, should be made to protect the grower in the absence of an appeal against the refusal of the board to recommend a licence in the first instance. I am sure that it was never the intention of the Government to give to the board power arbitrarily to deprive any man of the right to carry on his liv ing, and to export his goods. 1 suggest to the Minister that if he is not satisfied with the clause as it is drawn, he should let it pass now, and have it revised later. He should give an undertaking to thi committee to have the matter reconsidered, and a suitable provision inserted, when the bill is before the Senate, to provide against the arbitrary refusal of the board to recommend the granting of a licence.
– I listened very carefully to the remarks of the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn), who is always heard with great attention and respect by honorable members on this side, particularly when he deals with the legal aspect of any subject. I feel, however, that he is under the impression that every fruit-grower will want to be licensed under this measure.
– No; I suggest that every grower who wishes to be licensed ought to he able to get a licence.
– I point out that only a small proportion of the growers will apply for licences under this legislation.
– Every grower who applies for a licence ought to have the right to get one, provided there is nothing against him.
– Ninety-five per cent, of the growers in Tasmania will want a licence; practically every grower in that State ships his own fruit.
– In any case, I cannot conceive of a board, consisting of sixteen representatives of whom eleven will represent the growers themselves, taking up the attitude which honorable members opposite suggest will be the natural outcome of entrusting anything to it. I am amazed at the stand taken up by the Opposition in respect of this clause. In the second-reading debate and in this committee, honorable members generally have eulogized the Government for bringing down this measure, many contending that this legislation should have been enacted years ago. Now. apparently, honorable members opposite wish to shear the board of the power to do the very things which they suggested it should have done. With few exceptions, honorable members opposite, including the honorable member for Bourke, who were in Opposition some years ago when a similar bill was put through this Parliament, will remember that, in the debate which took place on that occasion, the question of whether or not an exporter should be licensed was not raised. 1 cannot recall any discussion as to whether there should be a right of appeal on the part of any one who was refused a licence. . On this point, I refer honorable members to the Meat Export Control Act 1935, section 17 of which provides -
– (1) For the purpose! of enabling the board effectively to control the export of Australian meat, meat products, and edible offal, the Governor-General may make regulations prohibiting Iiic export from the Commonwealth nf any meat, meat products, or edible offal except by persons who hold licences issued by the Minister or by any person thereto authorized in writing by the Minister, and subject to such conditions and restrictions as are prescribed after recommendation to the Minister by the board.
Sub-section 3 of the same section is the “killer”-
There is not a word in that section which did not receive the approval of certain honorable members opposite who represent districts in which the raising of lambs and beef cattle is carried on extensively. That section contains no suggestion that there should be any right of appeal from the terrible board which was set up under that legislation.
– How many sheep-raisers would want to export their own meat?
– Quite a number. I am of opinion that, if there had been any appeal against this board, honorable members opposite would have been very vocal on the subject before now. But that board has functioned satisfactorily. The Wine Export Control Board provides another case in point. As a lifelong Rechabite I, as Minister, have signed dozens of licences authorizing persons to export wine, but I have not heard of one case of an appeal or complaint against any decision by the Minister, although there have been some cases in which things were done which should not have been done. No complaint has been made in this House concerning the operations of the Wine Export Control Board. Neither do I know of any complaint having arisen in respect of the boards dealing with the export of dried fruits, canned fruits and dairy produce. Evidently, honorable members opposite are forgetting the date; apparently, they think to-day is last Saturday, the 5th November.
.- There ave two answers to the Minister’s contention. The first is that in respect of the meat export control legislation. No exception was taken to the absence of provision for appeal, whereas exception is now being taken in connexion with this bill, and having been taken on this occasion it should be considered. The second answer is that provisions of the. two measures on this point differ. It is not a condition of licence under the meat export control legislation that the hoard shall recommend the granting of a licence, whereas under this measure the Minister cannot license a person except, on the board’s recommendation. I shall read again the relevant words from section 17(1) of the Meat Export Control Act -
That is to say the conditions of the licences are to be recommended to the Minister by the board, but the licensing of the individual is not to be recommended by the board. The Minister will not issue those licences without the recommendation of the board.
– The Minister will not issue licences without a recommendation. I have been signing the licences.
– That may be the Minister’s practice, but it is not the command of the section. I should sooner sec the power of licensing left entirely to the Minister, but under this bill the Minister is not free to license any person except on the board’s recommendation.
– I have explained what is done in respect of meat export control.
– What the Minister has told us may be the practice of the department, but it is not the provision of the section. The committee has been asked to decide whether or not there should be an appeal; I believe that there should be some form of appeal. I do not think that the Minister should be pinned down to say whether or not he will accept the amendment, but if he cannot see his way clear to accept it now I suggest that he should give an undertaking that the matter will be further considered and dealt with in the Senate. If after mature consideration the Government thinks that there should not be an appeal, that will be so much worse for the growers; if the bill is passed as drawn it will leave persons who desire to export fruit at the mercy of the board in a. way in which people who desire to export meat do not suffer. I should imagine that the number of persons desiring to export meat are very few ; probably they are confined to persons who are in business in a large way. On the other hand persons who will most likely desire to export fruit are in business in a small way, and are fairly numerous.
– There are thousands of them.
– Yes, and they will be very disconcerted if they learn that their right to export fruit will depend on whether or not they can satisfy the board to recommend their application to the Minister, no principle being laid down in this measure for the guidance of the board in that respect.
– I undertake to remit the matter to the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Menzies) for consideration. No doubt he will be prepared to consult with members of the Opposition, and if as a result of that further consideration he recommends an amendment the necessary action will be taken in the Senate.
Am en d men t - b y leave - wi t hd r a wn .
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 15 - (1.) After such dateas is notified in the
Gazette by the Minister on the recommendation of the board, a contract for -
. - I move -
That at the end of sub-clause (1.) the following words be added : - but no such contract for insurance shallbemade by the board without the approval of the Minister with a person or company not carrying on the business of insurance in the Commonwealth on its own account or with a person or company which in the Commonwealth merely grants cover or receives premiums, proposals or requests for insurance business on behalf of or for transmission of any company person or association of persons outside the Commonwealth “.
Briefly, my amendment is designed to ensure that as far as is reasonably possible insurance cover of shipments of fruit under this legislation shall be effected by organizations operating in Australia, and there shall not be what will amount, in effect, to the export of capital to overseas organizations for the purpose of effecting this insurance. The principle underlying my amendment is fully in line with the policy not only of the Government, to give preference as far as practicable to Australian enterprises, but also of the Opposition. It is not intended that British organizations should be excluded, because many of these organizations are carrying on business in Australia. They will be able to continue to do business in the ordinary way. Neither is it intended that a lot of fresh business should be, received by insurance organizations. What is intended is that their existing business shall be protected as far as practicable.In the past some of the boards established under Commonwealth legislation have placed their insurance business outside the Commonwealth. The Dried Fruits Board is an exception : ithas retained its insurance business in Australia. It might be suggested that the reason why business has gone overseas is that the premium quoted has been somewhat lower. Probably that has been the case, butI point out that businesses operating in Australia are paying Australian wages and employing Australians as well as paying taxes to Australian governments.
– The honorable member wishes to make the fruit-growers pay extra premiums. The additional cost will have to come out of the proceeds from the sale of the fruit.
– I desire to adhere to our policy of protection which the Prime Minister announced only this afternoon to be still the policy of this Government. My reply to the interjection of the honorable member forRiverina (Mr. Nock) is that the Minister would have power to say finally where the insurance should be placed. If the local companies wished to impose an excessive rate the Minister would be able to permit the business to be given to overseas organizations. Business of this kind should go to the organizations operating in Australia if their premiums are satisfactory, and the Australian companies should have the oppotunity to compete for the business.
– They have that oppotunity now.
– Possibly, but I quite realize that the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) would give the business to any insurance organization which would provide cover for £1 or £2 less than organizations operating here. I suggest to honorable members that at a time whenwe have need to watch all the fluctuations of our trade balances with overseas countries, and also the effect of exporting capital overseas,we ought at least to take the precaution provided for in my amendment. If the business can be written in Australia at a reasonable figure it should be written hero.
– I shall be glad to hear the views of honorable members of the committee on this amendment. Personally I am not at all enthusiastic about the proposal. The export control boards already operating deal with insur ance at their discretion. That, I suggest, is proper. If these authorities are to be set up they should be given a reasonable measure of control. Several strong arguments may be advanced against the amendment. One is that many of the British insurance companies are operating in Australia and so will be in a position to tender for the business. As the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Nock) has suggested by interjection, the money to pay these insurance premiums will be provided by the fruit-growers, and they are, therefore, entitled to make the best arrangements possible. I have not heard any protests about the procedure adopted by our existing export control boards, although it varies. The Dried Fruits Export Control Board, as the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) has stated, does its insurance business mainly with companies operating in Australia. But the Dairy Export Control Board let a three-year contract last December, at a very low rate, to a company not operating in Australia. It must be remembered that wo are dealing with an export product, which will be consumed overseas, chiefly in Great Britain. In most cases these products are bought before they leave our coast and are carried abroad in British ships. The Government is not likely to he insulted if honorable members carry the proposal of the honorable member for Fawkner, but personally I cannot see that any particularly beneficial purpose will be served by inserting such a provision in the bill.
The main reason advanced by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) in support of his amendment, was that the insurance companies operating in Australia, to which he desires to give an exclusive right to this business, provide employment in this country.
– I am not asking for an exclusive right.
-It would practically amount to that. The honorable member desires to eliminate outside competition. May I remind him that the British public is buying 5,000,000 bushels of Australian apples each year. The growing of this fruit provides a very much larger amount of employment throughout this country than is provided by the insurance companies In those circumstances, the British insurance compa nies are untitled at least to the right to tender for the insurance business that the Apple and Pear Board may have to place. [Quorum formed.] It would be entirely wrong for us to exclude the British insurance companies from any possibility of sharing in this insurance business. Moreover, it might lead to serious misunderstandings. The Australian primary producers value very highly their entree to the privileged British market. The British people spend about £1,275,000 a year in buying Australian fruit, yet the honorable member for Fawkner desires virtually to exclude the British insurance companies from participation in the insurance business connected with the export of this fruit. To take such a course would be to damage seriously our prestige on the British market. If we expect the British people to buy our fruit we ought surely to be willing to give them a share, at a competitive rate, in the insurance business. We cannot properly compare our primary producing industries, which have to rely so largely upon the export market, with our manufacturing industries which do practically all their business on the Australian market. We should give the Apple and Pear Board a free hand to deal with such matters as insurance as it desires. If the premiums of the overseas companies are satisfactory the board should be in a position to place the business with them. If they are not satisfactory, of course the business will go to the companies operating in Australia. The Australian companies have not earned the right to any special consideration from us. It seems to me that the honorable member’s amendment is. in effect, merely a devious method of securing additional business for the Australian insurance companies at the expense of the unfortunate fruit-growers. I am astonished that such an amendment should have been moved, and I hope that it will be defeated. The bill was designed to further the interests of the industry and to protect the fruit-growers, not to impose additional costs on the growers; yet that would be the effect of this amendment, if carried.
Mr.Holt. - Most of the growers obtain cover from the local insurance companies.
– They now have the privilege of effecting their insurance wherever they like, and that freedom of choice should be retained. If a virtual monopoly be given to the Australian insurance companies, what guarantee is there that the premiums will remain at the existing rates? So long as we have an effective check on the abuses’ associated with monopolies, there is a fair guarantee that premiums will remain reasonable. All that the opponents of the amendment urge is that there shall be an open market in insurance. I am amazed that, in order to help the Australian insurance companies, an honorable member should ask us to incur the risk of antagonizing our best customers. To fasten the cost of this procedure on the growers of Australian apples and pears would be most iniquitous. I hope that the amendment: will be rejected.
.- The fruit-growers of Tasmania have always been satisfied with the Australian insurance companies and have been able to obtain from them the cover they desire. Insurance is paid only in the event of loss of the vessel carrying the fruit, or loss of the fruit itself. Nothing is paid by way of compensation for fruit lost by rotting. Consequently the premiums are ‘low. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) evidently considers that it is necessary that the consignments should be insured in Australia, but I cannot understand the argument of the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) that the people in Great Britain, whom he describes as our best customers, may wish the insurance to be effected there. Practically every insurance company operating in Australia is connected with a company operating in Great Britain. For instance, the Prudential Company, which operates in Australia, is associated with the British Prudential Company. Premium rates would not be any lower if the insurances were effected in Great Britain. Indeed, if attempts were made to effect insurances in Great Britain the companies there would probably advise growers to deal with their agents in Australia. I cannot see that any embarrassment would be caused by accepting the amendment, and therefore I shall support it.
.- The proposal of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) is merely a safeguard. It will not exclude any British company. His amendment reads -
That at the end of sub-clause (].) the following words be added: - “ but no such contract for insurance shall he made by the board without the approval of the Minister ‘with a person or company not carrying on the business of insurance in the Commonwealth on its own account or with a person or company which in tlie Commonwealth merely grants cover or receives premiums, proposals or requests for insurance business on behalf of or for transmission to any company person or association of persons outside the Commonwealth “.
The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) said that if the amendment were carried British companies would be excluded, but that is not so. Insurance could still be effected with cither Australian or British companies approved by the Minister. All that is asked for is that if the board, for any reason whatever, desires to take out an insurance policy with a company other than one operating in Australia, the approval of the Minister must first be obtained. Many British insurance companies are operating in Australia. It is desirable to give every possible encouragement to insurance companies functioning in Australia, for they give employment in this country and assist Australia’s finances. Overseas companies do not employ Australians, nor do many of them invest money in this country. There is no prohibition whatever in the proposal; it is merely a safeguard. Should special circumstances exist, no difficulty would be experienced in obtaining the approval of the Minister to effect the insurance with a company outside Australia. I hope that the amendment will be earned.
.- I am astonished at the statement of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) that the amendment merely provides a safeguard. Far from being a safeguard it is, in my opinion, a menace. At the present time the apple and fruit growing industry is in a most precarious position. Its export market is con fined almost entirely to the United Kingdom, and it is an open secret that tremendous pressure is being brought to bear upon the ‘ Government of that country to enter into a trade agreement with another country which produces large quantities of fruit. I do not know what the members of the trade delegation did when in England recently, but if they did their job properly they tried to preserve a market there for Australian apples and pears. lt would be disastrous to offer a gratuitous insult to the people from whom we are asking a favour. It has been suggested that it would be an act of patriotism to confine this business to companies operating in Australia, but actually the companies most concerned are English companies which believe that they would be able to gain an advantage over their competitors if they could get the ear of the Minister. It is unwise to do anything which might imperil an industry already in difficulties. This legislation has not by any means the unanimous support of the industry, for there are many growers of fruit who regard it as a form of nationalization of their industry. If Ave are to set up a board to deal with this industry, Ave should he prepared to trust it in the matter of insurance. As has been pointed out, the industry has been in difficulties for some years, and with rising costs, returns are small.. In fact, many growers have lost money during recent years. The suggestion that the hoard which is to control the industry should not have the power to effect savings by arranging wholesale insurances, merits the greatest indignation and condemnation by the industry. I realize that the honorable and learned member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) has been carried away by the fact that his amendment has been suggested to him as having some relation to the protective system of Australia, but ho, “ knocking back “ one insurance company in Great Britain in favour of another can have anything to do with our protective system, I do not know. If there has been one proposition on which this committee has been unanimous, it is that everything should be done to give representation on the board to the growers It would not be right to take away the board’s powers. The Dairy Produce Export Control Board has been able to effect a saving in insurance rates, and are we to prevent the Apple and Pear Board from doing likewise? The proposal is fantastic and most dangerous.
.- The proposal contained in the amendment moved by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), which would force exporters to insure with Australian companies, is one of the most extraordinary that I have heard in my long experience in this Parliament. Those who are behind it cannot realize the value of our export trade, and what damage could be done to that trade by legislation which contained a provision of the sort provided for in the amendment. If the amendment were carried, the fact would soon be published in England that restrictions were being placed in Australia on British insurance businesses. Many of the companies which are concerned in the export of apples and pears are English companies and they would naturally wish to insure with their own people. Our export trade is difficult enough in the circumstances which exist to-day; acceptance of this amendment would increase the difficulties.From time to time the Commonwealth Government has come to the assistance of apple and pear exporters with bounties on export, because as the result of increased costs, the export trade has not been profitable; but it is essential that the trade should be developed, and any action likely to have repercussions in England against the sale of our fruit should be avoided. Not so long ago there was in England what amounted to a boycott of Australian butter. There must be no repetition of that, if we can avoid it. Nothing must be done which might result in the English people giving preference to American and other apples and pears over Australian fruit. Do honorable members realize that our trade in apples and pears with the United Kingdom is worth about £1,500,000 per annum and that that money circulates in Australia and provides employment for 6,500 persons at an average income of £200 a year, while the employment of those 6,500 persons provides occupations for at least 2,000 or 3,000 more? It would be madness to pass legis lation which contained provisions of the sort contained in the amendment. Anything that would tend to destroy our trade in apples or pears, or at any rate, increase the costs which the trade has to bear, should be discouraged.
.- There is a good deal in what has been said by the honorable members for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), Swan (Mr. Gregory) and Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn), in regard to this matter of preference to Australian insurance companies. It would be natural that Australian insurance companies should have preference provided there was no unreasonable margin over the rates of the English companies. The more business we have in government and the less government we have in business, the better for industry generally, and if, in order to assist industry, a board is brought into existence, the producers should be given control, and it is better that there should be as little governmental interference as possible either in chartering or insurance. [Quorum formed.]
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
The Prime Minister desires me to inform honorable members that in consequence of the acceptance by His Excellency the Governor-General of the resignation of the Honorable T. W. White from the office of Minister of State for Trade and Customs, the Prime Minister recommended to His Excellency that the Honorable John Arthur Perkins be appointed to fill the vacancy. Mr. Perkins has been so appointed. The Prime Minister further recommended to His Excellency that the Honorable Eric John Harrison be appointed Minister without portfolio. This has been done. Mr. Harrison will assist the Prime Minister in receiving deputations and undertaking other work associated with the Prime Minister’s Department. He will also administer External Territories on behalf of the Prime Minister.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Common wealthPublic Service Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1938, No. 105.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1938, No. 100.
House adjourned at 10.18 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : -
In March of this year, it came to the notice of the Civil Aviation Board that ultra high frequency receiving equipment was being installed in the DC3 Ky illa. As the board’s approval was necessary under the Air Navigation Regulations before radio could be installed, instructions were issued for this installation tobe suspended pending the necessary authority. On the 18th March, 1938. a request was received from the installing engineer to allow installation to proceed to enable certain tests to be undertaken in connexion with the installation of the beacon at Brisbane. This was approved by the hoard on the 21st March, 1938. Apparently, no action was taken to instal the equipment at that time as a further request was made on the11th May, 1938, to allow installation to be made on the 14th May, 1938. This also was approved on the 12th May, 1938, and it is believed such installation was made shortly afterwards.
s asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Mr.Thorby. - The answers to the honorable members questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
y. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Sandy Hollo w-Maryvale Railway Line.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
y. - The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : -
An application was made by the Government of New South Wales in 1 936 for assistance towards the cost of construction of the Sandy Hollow-Mary vale railway line, but Cabinet decided that, in view of other more urgent aspects of national defence, it would not be practicable for the Commonwealth Government to make a contribution towards the construction of the line. The position has not changed since 1936 and, although the railway line in question would he a valuable link in railway communication, it is not a strategic necessity for the concentration or maintenance of troops, as these operations can bo effected by existing lines in close proximity, even though a little longer time is involved.
Films of Sino-Japanese Conflict.
y asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon, notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Borrowing Powers of Local Governing Bodies.
Mr.Ward asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What powers are possessed by local governing bodies of raising loans without reference to the Loan Council?
y. - The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The borrowing powers of local governing bodiesare determined by the relative legislation of the State concerned. The debts of such bodies and their subsequent borrowings wore not brought within the scope of the financial agreement between the Commonwealth and States, and the Loan Council therefore has no legal jurisdiction in regard to such borrowings. By a unanimous resolution of the members assembled in Loan Council - known as a “’ Gentlemen’s Agreement “ - all borrowings in any one year by any authority constituted under the laws of the Commonwealth ora State, where the total amount to he raised by such authority in that year is £100,000 or more, should be submitted to the Loan Council for approval.
s. - On the 4th November, the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) asked the following questions, upon notice: -
I am now in a position to furnish the following answers : - 1.The Hon. T. W. White, Minister for Trade and Customs; E. McCarthy. Assistant Secretary (Marketing), Department of Commerce;J. Fletcher, Assistant Treaties Officer. Department of Trade and Customs; Mrs. F. M. Grant. Private Secretary to the Minister for Trade and Customs.
Housing for Postal Employees on Trans-Continental Railway Line.
– On the 20 th October, the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Drakeford) asked the following questions, upon notice -
I am now in a position to furnish the honorable member with the following answers to his inquiries: -
e asked the Minister for
Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows
On the 3rd November, the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) inquired as to the amount expended annu ally by the Government in research work in connexion with the cattle tick pest. I informed him that the research activities were under the direction of the Council for Scientific, and Industrial Research, and that the information asked for was being obtained. I am now advised that, for a number of years, the council carried out tick research in conjunction with the Departments of Agriculture of New South Wales and Queensland; £500 was contributed annually for the work, one-third by each party. This arrangement was terminated in 1932 and the council has done no tick research work since that time.
y.- On the 19th October, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) asked the following question, upon notice -
What percentage of recruits offering for service in the Australian naval, militia and permanent military forces was rejected in each of the past five years because of physical unfitness?
A reply was given in regard to the information desired so far as the militia and permanent military forces were concerned, and it was promised to furnish the particulars regarding the naval forces when the information was available from the several naval districts. I am now in a position te inform the honorable member that the percentage of recruits offering for service in the naval forces who were rejected on account of physical unfitness in each of the past five years was -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 November 1938, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1938/19381108_reps_15_157/>.