4th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Senator STEWART presented a petition from thirtyeight residents of the Territory of Papua praying that they, as citizens under the Commonwealth, should be granted the privileges of elective representation on the Papua Council, and trial by jury.
Petition received and read.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs if it is correct, as stated in the Argus of this morning; that a pamphlet was issued by Mr. Knibbs setting out the statistical results of inquiries as to prices, price increases, and cost of living in Australia; that it was originally issued with a cover indicating that it was published “ under the authority of the Minister of Home Affairs “ only, and withdrawn at his instance; that the covers were torn off the pamphlets, and that either fresh covers were prepared, or additions made to the original covers setting out that the pamphlet was issued “under the authority of the Minister of Home Affairs, the Honorable King O’Malley, M.P.?” If the report is correct, will the Minister state what has been the extra cost entailed in this effort to flatter the vanity of a Minister?
– I ask the honorable senator to give notice of the questions.
– I ask the Minister to obtain the information before the Estimates are ready for consideration, because itis not possible now to give notice, and to get the information before that business is reached.
Case of mr. chinn.
– i wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council if he has noticed in this morning’s issue of the Argus - a somewhat notorious paper in this city - some statements purporting to be an attack upon the Minister of Home Affairs, and dragging in the circumstances of the charges made against Mr. Chinn in another place? In addition to the statements made in the article, there are also, i may remark, statements made in a letter in the front column of the same newspaper. Will the Minister take steps to see that, in this case, and other cases of a similar kind which they themselves admit are sub judice-
– Does the article deal with the appointment of Mr. Chinn, or the charges now current ?
– It deals with the appointment, and the charges, as the quotations I intend to read, lest honorable senators may not have had time to read the article, will prove -
Had there been no charges levelled against Mr. Chinn, the circumstances under which the appointment was made disclosed reckless partisanship, exhibited at the risk of the greatest railway undertaking into which Australia has entered. The papers on the file disclose the fact that the appointment was made at the request of members of the Western Australian Labour Ministry because Mr. Chinn “ had done good service to the party.”
– Order ! I wish to call the attention of the honorable senator to the standing order regarding complaints against newspapers -
Any senator complaining to the Senate of a statement in a newspaper as a breach of privilege, shall produce a copy of the paper containing the statement in question, and be prepared to give the name of the printer or publisher, and also submit a substantive motion declaring the person in question to have been guilty of contempt.
All that the Honorable senator can be permitted to do is to ask a question based upon information in the newspaper.
– I wish to ask a question on the matter. I do not propose to read the whole of the article, but just what I think are its principal features -
The statements contained in what Mr. Fowler termed “Chapter No. 3” of his charges were of the gravest possible character. If they were proved Mr. O’Malley’s protege had been guilty of misrepresentation, amounting to criminality.
– I think that the honorable senator will have to take other action. While it is permissible to ask a question based upon a statement in a newspaper, this appears to be a case which should be brought up on a question of privilege, because, practically, it is an attack upon Parliament.
– What do you suggest, sir.
– Under the standing order the honorable senator can bring the matter up as a question of privilege.
– Then we can all make a few observations.
– Take it now.
– I shall bring the matter before the Senate as a breach of the privileges of Parliament, and move that the editor of this newspaper be summoned to the bar in order to answer for such breach. Can I proceed with my motion now, sir?
– Yes ; the honorable senator should give the name of the printer and publisher, and then submit a substantive motion.
– I wish to get finality so far as it can be obtained, having regard to the period of the session and everything else.
– Move your motion.
– Consequently, I beg to ask whether the Vice-President of the Executive Council has noticed these comments on a case on which Parliament has abstained from commenting, and to request the protection of the Government against this sort of thing in the future. The quotations I have read disclose -
– A charge against the Government.
– Order ! The honorable senator may ask a question, but he is now debating the matter.
– No, sir; I am stating my question.
– The honorable senator is now debating the matter which appeared in the press. If he wishes to ask a question it is governed, as he knows, by the rule that there must be no argument or comment.
– Move your motion.
– He is afraid to do that.
-I ask again if the Government will take steps to see that something, approaching decency, is accorded to those who are interested in this case?
-You do not like the Government to be criticised.
– This isa criticism of the case.
– It is abuse of the Government.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - It is a criticism of the Government in the first place.
– If he had been a good freemason we would have heard nothing about the matter.
– I wish to know whether the Government will protect the rights of the men who are interested in the case, and prevent newspapers from making unfair comments in the meantime?
– Every line of the article is absolutely justified.
– I noticed the article in the Argus this morning, and now that the honorable senator has called my attention to it I shall direct the attention of the Attorney-General to it.
Several honorable senators interjecting,
– Order ! I wish that these interjections across the table, from both sides, would cease, so that honorable senators who have business to bring before the Senate may be heard.
– Has the Minister of Defence yet received a report on the case of John Hinchey, who was ordered to pay a fine and costs for non-attendance at drill? And is he aware that, since I brought the case before the Senate, an officer has waited upon the father of the lad, and, under threat, compelled him to pay the fine and costs ?
– As regards the first question I have not yet received a report. In reply to the second question, I wish to say that I had not previously heard anything of the demand made, and will have inquiries made regarding it.
– I have much pleasure in handing to the Minister the father’s letter to me.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That in view of the fact that Senators Henderson and Clemons have sent apologies for unavoidable absence from the call of the Senate, and that Senator Russell was absent through serious illness, the said senators be excused for failure to answer such call.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator McGregor) read a first time.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Report of the Seventh International Actuarial Congress held at Amsterdam - 2nd to 7th September,1912.
Papua. - Ordinances of1912 -
No. 13. -Appropriation (No. 2),1912-13
No. 14. - Supplementary Appropriation, 1912-13.
The Clerk of the Senate laid on the table the following paper : -
Return to Order of the Senate of 28th November, 1912 -
Commonwealth Public Service : Return of Officers appointed since April, 1910, &c.
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are - 1-5.Preliminary negotiations with regard to this matter are now proceeding, and the Government hope to be in a position to make a statement shortly with regard to the matter.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 1 8th December, vide page 7320).
Clause 5 -
Section twenty-two of the principal Act is. amended -
by omitting paragraph(c) therefrom and inserting in its stead the following paragraph : - “(c) he has, whilst in Australia, become permanently incapacitated or blind ; “ and
by adding thereto the following subsection : - “ (2) For the purposes of an invalid pension, a person who is afflicted with a congenital defect and who is rendered permanently incapacitated or blind thereby shall be regarded as having become permanently incapacitated or blind whilst in Australia if he was brought into Australia before attaining the age of three years.”
Upon which Senator Stewart had moved, by way of amendment -
That after paragraph (a) the following new paragraph be inserted : - ” (aa) by adding to paragraph (/) the following :-
Provided always that, in the case of a permanently incapacitated person who is otherwise unprovided for, or whose wife or family is unprovided for, this provision shall not apply : -and “
.- I am not certain that this amendment would not leave the door open dangerously wide. It would mean that, quite irrespective of the amount of property held by an individual permanently incapacitated, he would be entitled to claim the benefits under this clause. Does Senator Stewart mean that a millionaire should be in a position to claim these benefits?
– I mean nothing of the kind, and the language I have used does not mean it either.
– I submit that it does.
– I say that it does not, and I am as good a judge of English as is the honorable senator.
– I am not disputing that, and this is not the first occasion upon which men who, like Senator Stewart, claim to be excellent judges of English, have differed as to the construction to be put upon the use of English words.
– How could a millionaire be unprovided for?
– The amendment uses the words “otherwise unprovided for,” and has to be read in conjunction with the previous part of the clause. I am entirely with Senator Stewart in the object he has in view, but I am afraid that the amendment which he has proposed would open the door to unfair claims under the Bill. We know that, unfortunately, there are persons in the community who, irrespective of their possession of wealth, would become claimants upon the public charity. I have no desire that the door should be opened to such persons until our finances are in such a position that we shall be able to pay pensions all round.
– We all know that Senator Stewart is actuated by the best intentions in submitting this amendment. Every other member of this Parliament is actuated by equally good intentions. We have adopted a certain principle in connexion with the payment of invalid and old-age pensions, an,d the Treasurer has made provision for the additional cost which may be involved by the passing of this amending Bill. The Treasurer has recognised the difficulties arising in connexion with the administration of the existing Act, and has promised to introduce an amending measure dealing with certain phases of the subject. The Government have made this measure as liberal as the finances of the Commonwealth will permit, and until we are in the happy position of being able to pay pensions to every one, with the one qualification only of old age and length of residence in the Commonwealth, we should, I think, limit ourselves to what we have submitted in this Bill. Senator Stewart has in mind one particular case, but I could mention fifty cases involving equal hardship. It is impossible, with the finances at the disposal of the Government, to meet those cases at the present time. I hope that, in view of the lateness of the session, honorable senators will assist the Government to place this amending Bill on the statute-book as early as possible, that we may be in a position to give relief to those who are expecting it from us at the present time.
– If the principle now enunciated by the Vice-President of the Executive Council held good, no reform would ever have been achieved in this or any other country, not even by the Labour party with which he himself is connected. There could be no attempt at reformation; for the reason that, it being impossible completely to revolutionize human conditions all at once, an attempt would never be made to do anything to improve them. Senator McGregor. - This is an honest attempt to do a great deal.
– I want to do something more. The reformer has always been like Oliver Twist, crying out for more. The moment a man ceases to cry for more he ceases to be a reformer. I have not heard a single argument against my amendment, except that it would involve a great deal of money, and that the Government cannot afford it. The VicePresident of the Executive Council admits that he knows of fifty cases. I have mentioned one. Here are fifty paralyzed men and women lying on their backs, who instead of being breadwinners are dependent on their families. Yet the Commonwealth will not hold out a hand to help them. There is an essential difference between an invalid pension and an old-age pension. Whereas the old-age pensioner is invariably a man or a woman whose family has grown up, and is no longer dependent upon him, so that he stands alone in the world, the invalid pensioner may be, and very often is, a person who has been struck down in the prime of life, and whose wife and young children have been thrust into poverty because of his becoming incapable of earning a living. Take a young man or woman of sixteen years of age who has become incapacitated. In all probability such a person will live with parents or friends. He or she can get an invalid pension. Is not the claim in this case much greater? Take the case of a man who is suddenly struck down in the prime of life. Say that he has been a breadwinner, who has been maintaining his wife and family. All at once these dependents of his are placed in a condition of poverty. Is nothing to be done for them? The VicePresident of the Executive Council says, “We cannot afford it.” Is that the case? We are squandering thousands of pounds in other directions, yet we can afford nothing for poor, wretched people who are in a condition of abject, hopeless poverty, unable to do anything for themselves. The Vice-President of the Executive Council stands up in this hopeless fashion, and says that nothing can be done for them, but that we must wait until we are able “to provide for everybody. What a doctrine to be enunciated by a member of the Labour party ! If such sentiments had been uttered in the early days of the Labour movement they would have been scouted by every person who read them or listened to them. Senator Millen, reasoning in his sophistical fashion, says that my amendment would leave the door open even to a millionaire. Surely the honorable senator does not know the meaning of plain language. What do the words “ Who is otherwise unprovided for “ mean ? They mean “ who is not provided for.’’ That, as I understand it, is the English of the expression. Of course, being a Scotchman, I may not know very much -English. But I try to get along with what I have. I trust that the Committee will accept the amendment as the best that can be submitted in the circumstances. It may not be perfect, but it is an honest attempt to deal with a serious situation affecting a considerable number of people.
– I am rather in sympathy with Senator Stewart’s object, though I must, honestly admit that I can hardly see how far the amendment will go. The pointswith which he wishes to deal have been brought before the Senate by me on more than one occasion. His amendment appears to go further than I proposed to go, but certainly it goes in the same direction. He proposes to deal with the case of a man or woman permanently incapacitated and otherwise unprovided for. It seems to me that a permanently incapacitated person ought not to have thehandling of the money paid by the Commonwealth. I am not enunciating any new principle in saying that, because section 43 of the principal Act provides that whenever the Deputy Commissioner issatisfied that it is expedient that payment shall be made to any other person thanthe pensioner, he may issue a warrant to that effect, and the person named within it shall be entitled to receive payment of the pension. That provision is by no means a dead letter. Senator McGregor, in reply to a question of mine on the 27th November, informed the Senate that the warrants issued under section 43 of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act during the last two financial years numbered in New South Wales, 7,493 ; inVictoria, 8,061; in Queensland, 2,804; in South Australia, 2,219; in Western Australia, 995 ; and in Tasmania, 1,474. So that during the two years, no fewer than 23,046 warrants were issued. In the whole of those cases the persons on account of whom pensions were paid did’ not receive the money directly. In other words, they were put under a certain amount of friendly care. As showing theseriousness of the position, I may mention that a return obtained to my order a little while ago showed that during the last financial vear throughout the Commonwealth the number of pensioners found dead was 209, whilst the number found” destitute - evidently persons incapable of looking after themselves- was 10 1. There were no fewer than218 cases in which the circumstances of death were to suspicious that coronial or magisterial inquiries were held. Those figures indicate that there are very many pensioners who meet their death in an untimely fashion, and who are unable properly to look after themselves. I think it would be advisable to amend Senator Stewart’s amendment so as to enable incapacitated persons to be dealt with properly, and so as to enable the Deputy Commissioner in each State to exercise a check on any laxity. I therefore move-
That the amendment be amended by inserting after the word “ apply “ the words “ except upon report bythe Commissioner for Pensions acting after issue of warrant under section 43 of the principal Act.”
– These are all attempts to make the measure a workable one, but I would point out to Senator Chataway that his amendment is an impossible one. Section 43 of the principal Act deals with the matter after a pension has been granted, and the conditions upon which an old-age pension can be obtained have been complied with. But Senator Chataway’s amendment deals with the application for a pension, and a warrant cannot be granted before a pension is applied for. As regards the 23,000 warrants that have been granted I would point out that, in most cases, they are applied for by the recipients of old-age pensions themselves. If a person is too old to go to the place where pensions are paid he gets a relative or friend to go there, and that relative or friend obtains the pension and brings it to him. In cases of improvidence on the part of any old-age pensioner the Commissioner can either refuse to give the pensioner the money - in that case a warrant can be issued by the Commissioner on conditions which he imposes -or he can take the pension away altogether. But in the great majority of cases the warrants are issued on the application of pensioners themselves, and I do not see how SenatorChataway’s amendment can come in at all. As regards the applicant for a pension to whom Senator Stewart refers the great difficulty is that the applicant is not qualified to receive a pension under the other provisions of the Act. He has a house which he is renting to some other person for 10s. a week. He also has ?100, and the limit fixed by the Act is ?50. The only way in which Senator Stewart can effectively deal with a case of that kind is to attempt to remove the disqualification regarding the receipt of rent and the holding of property worth over ?50. It is not intended by this Bill to do anything of that kind, and I am sure that the sooner we pass it the better it will be for the people who will be benefited by it.
– I have been looking into this matter, and I have come to the conclusion that the amendment of Senator Stewart, as it is at present worded, is a sort of contradiction in terms, and I fail to see how it would carry out the honorable senator’s very laudable intention. Section 22, paragraph (f), which it is proposed to amend, provides that no person shall receive an invalid pension -
Unless his income or property does not exceed the limits prescribed in the case of applicants for old age pensions.
Senator Stewart proposes to add this proviso ;
Provided always that in the case of a permanently incapacitated person, who is otherwise unprovided for, and whose wife or family is unprovided for, this provision shall not apply.
The Act provides that a person cannot get an invalid pension unless the value of his property does not exceed the limit prescribed, but if he has property up to that limit it cannot be said that he is otherwise unprovided for. To carry out his intention Senator Stewart will require to word his amendment somewhat differently, if it is to become a coherent part of the clause.
– In what way would you define the words “unprovided for”?
– If I have an income of1s. a day, although it is entirely insufficient to support me, it cannot be said that I am unprovided for.
-When I say “ unprovided “ for I mean not fully provided for.
-The honorable senator should have stated that I, and other honorable senators, would really like to see old-age pensions granted irrespective of the property that a person possesses, Senator Stewart has quarrelled with the Government because they have not gone far enough. We have an equal right to quarrel with Senator Stewart because he does not go far enough. His amendment makes no provision for the very much worse case of a man who, having been invalided, dies shortly afterwards, and whose wife and family can then get no relief. Senator Stewart’s amendment cannot be read as a coherent part of the clause which he proposes to amend, and I would suggest that he should fix a limit which he regards as a fair one - say, such a limit as would enable the family to hold sufficient property to produce an income of £2 a week.
– I would be quite willing to do that.
– If the honorable member will do that I shall give him my hearty support. Until we grant these pensions, without any qualification regarding property, there will always be hardships and anomalies, and the elimination of the limits prescribed in the Act would simplify the whole thing.
– I would vote for that to-day, but why not remedy this defect now, because we cannot do everything?
– If the honorable senator will draft an amendment which will convey exactly what he means I will vote for it, but I say that his amendment will not read in with the clause.
– I listened with a certain degree of interest to the attempt made by Senator Givens to show that my amendment is not coherent, but I want to show where Senator Givens is at fault. He seems to have the idea that if a man has an income of is. a year he cannot be said to be unprovided for. That sort of reasoning might have been accepted a thousand years ago, but it can have no weight in these days. What as the meaning of the words “ provided for “ ? Mr. Justice Higgins said a living wage was such a wage as would enable a man to live in decent comfort in a civilized community. How could a man live on is. a week? The phrase “otherwise unprovided for” means “not sufficiently provided for.” The words “ provided for” mean that a man shall have a place to live in and sufficient food, clothing, firing, and light to insure, at least, a rninimum of comfort and to sustain life. If I am correct, Senator Givens’ arguments go by the board. Take the particular case to which I have directed attention. The honorable senator says that if these people give up their shop, and also the £10 they have in the bank, they can live in their own dwell ing and enjoy the benefits of a pension. They would then have 10s. per week and a house to live in. But I was asked whether they could be regarded as “ provided for.” Here we have a man who is hopelessly incapable, with a wife and. two or three children, and 10s. per week is to be regarded as an ample and munificent provision for the whole family. The whole thing is ridiculous. When I say that people are “ unprovided for,” I mean that they have not the means to preserve the ordinary decencies of life, and enough food and clothing. The amendment seems to me to entirely meet the case.
– The members of the family mentioned by Senator Stewart have my entire sympathy, and if honorable senators approve of the principle of the amendment, the Government should recast it, and put it into proper shape, to carry out the object aimed at. I know of a case in which a man was crippled with rheumatism, and who was unable to obtain compensation from any one. For some time past his wife has had to keep him, and he has not been in receipt of any pension. We ought to express our approval of the principle enunciated by Senator Stewart. I do not wish to load up the pension funds, but it seems to me that cases of the character referred to cannot be very numerous, and that the Government ought to meet them. Some discretionary power should be given to the authorities to deal with cases where the calls of humanity are strong. I shall support the amendment.
– I stated yesterday that I welcomed the introduction of the Bill, and I think we ought to make the measure as perfect as possible. When it was made plain to the Honorary Minister yesterday that the majority of honorable senators were in sympathy with the object Senator Stewart had in view, he should have taken steps to have the amendment put into proper form. If that course had been adopted a great deal of valuable time would have been saved. I know of a man who was totally incapacitated by rheumatism and sciatica. He was of an age that would entitle him to receive the pension, but, unfortunately, he was born within the Commonwealth at a time when the arrangements for the registration of births were by no means perfect, and he could not produce a certificate of birth. Notwithstanding the fact that a number of persons testified that they had known him for over forty years, and expressed their belief that he was over the specified age, it was held that his title to the pension was not established. A very long correspondence took place with the Department, and the Deputy Commissioner in Brisbane was repeatedly interviewed, but obstacles were put in the way, and the unfortunate man has never been able to get a pension.
– The magistrate who examined him could grant him.’ a pension if he thought he had reached the specified age.
– The Minister is entirely wrong. The magistrate would have been glad to grant him a pension, and the Deputy Commissioner was also favorable to the application, but the matter had to be referred to Melbourne, where the application was blocked. I have known the man for forty years.
– That ought to have been sufficient.
– It was not sufficient. I did everything I could, except crawl to the Minister. I sincerely hope that some provision will be made in the direction indicated by the amendment, and that the Act will be more liberally interpreted.
– If does seem to me that we are proceeding in a roundabout way. First, we make a law; second, we say that the law shall not be observed; third, we say that the gap we made is too big, roll in a stone and make it bigger ; and then we put in a charge of dynamite and blow out the hole. Let us put forward a claim to the possession of some common sense. Let us either say straight out that we wish to make the door so wide that millionaires can come in and grab a pension from: the Treasury.
– That is not what the amendment means.
– What is it we want to do in regard to an invalid pension? Do we desire that it should be limited to those who have but a limited amount of the world’s goods, and, if so, what is the limit to be? The Act provides a limit, and Senator Stewart wishes to break that limit away in the case of certain individuals. We cannot do that without opening the door to individuals on whose behalf we do not desire an extension of the principle.
– There is no opening of the door there.
– The amendment does open the door there.
– 1 think that if you examine the amendment a little, more carefully you will find that it closes the door against those whom Senator Stewart wishes to help.
– I. share the very reasonable view which Senator Givens has put forward.
– The amendment makes- the door too wide, and at the same time shuts it !
– If Senator Stewart’s reading is correct the amendment opens the door. What he aims at is not going to be achieved by his amendment. Section 22 of the principal Act provides that no person shall receive an invalid pension unless his income or property does not exceed the limit prescribed in the case of an applicant for an oldage pension. We often see the effect and purpose of a provision if we discard for a moment the legal verbiage, and resort to the ordinary language in which we interchange our thoughts. Adopting that expedient, what the section means is that no person shall receive an invalid pension who owns or possesses some property, the limit being set out in the Act. What does Senator Stewart propose to add to that provision? He proposes to add these words -
Provided always that in the case of a permanently incapacitated person who is otherwise unprovided for.
I wish to know how any man can be “ otherwise unprovided for “ who has property ?
– It means “ without provision.”
– It does, as an ordinary citizen interprets ordinary English. I do submit to Senator Stewart that that is the correct interpretation of the amendment, but on the other hand if he is right and I am wrong, let us see where his interpretation will land us. If his interpretation is right, then any man, irrespective of the property he owns, can come in under the provision, because the honorable senator has destroyed all property qualifications. Not only does the amendment admit’ the partially incapacitated person with a humble home worth £300 or £400, but it will admit any millionaire who has the misfortune to be incapacitated.
– This must be wonderful amendment which can do both of these things.
– It does not do both.
– It shuts out one class and admits the other !
– According to my interpretation of the amendment one result will follow, but if I am wrong, let us see what will follow if Senator Stewart’s interpretation is right. If it would be possible under the amendment for a man with a house worth£400 to draw a pension, what would there be to prevent a man who owns a £4,000 home from doing the same ? If it would be possible for a man with an income of10s. a week to get the benefit of the pension, what would there be to stop a man with an income of £10,000 a week from getting one? There is the whole position. If we are going to discard the property qualification, let us strike all restrictions out of the Act. I fear that nothing I can say will convince Senator Stewart, and I am reluctantly driven to the conclusion that his sole attachment to the amendment arises from the fact of its paternity.
– The whole difference between Senator Millen or Senator Givens and myself lies in the interpretation of the words “otherwise unprovided for.” What do the Words “unprovidedfor” mean? Senator Millen says that if a man has a house he cannot be said to be unprovided for. Will the possession of a house keep a man alive? Will it feed him? Will it clothe him? Will it give him the one-hundred-and-one things which are absolutely necessary to life in society as we know it? A man with a house might be said to be partially provided for, but partial provision is not provision. Provision means adequate provision.
– It is not “ unprovided for.”
– I have shown Senator Givens how his interpretation of my words is absolutely incorrect. Provision is different from partial provision. A man may be provided with a steamengine, but if he has not coal or wood or water to raise steam he cannot be said to be in possession of an effective steamengine; and so it is in connexion with a number of matters. Inmy amendment provision means adequate provision. As Mr. Justice Higgins said, a living wage means such a wage as would enable a man to liveas a human being ought to live in a civilized community. The purpose and the spirit of the Bill is toprovide for persons who are unable to provide for themselves after they have reached a particular age. I have already pointed out the difference between an old-age pensioner and a man who is suddenly stricken down in the prime of life. If I have to choose between a man who is over sixtyfive years of age, and who in many cases can and does earn something in addition to his pension, and a man who is suddenly incapacitated, having a wife and dependents, as to which of the two I will pay a pension to, I say undoubtedly to the man with a wife and family, who were dependent upon him, but upon whom he is now dependent. The whole interpretation of my amendmentlies in the meaning which is given to the words “ unprovided for.” Senator Millen instanced the case of a man who has a house of the value of , £400. Can a man lying on his back helpless and hopeless, even if he has such a property, be said to be provided for? He is partially provided for. He has one of the necessities of life, namely, shelter. But a man cannot live by shelter alone; he must have food, clothing, and other things. That should be sufficient to answer one of the arguments of Senator Millen. The honorable senator submits another, and says that if the amendment is carried it will not only shut out the people I desire to serve, but will admit the millionaire. How can a. millionaire be said to be “otherwise unprovided for”? I have done what I can to convince Senators Givens and Millen of the reasonableness of my amendment, and I now leave the matter to the Committee.
– We have been all this morning and part of yesterday dealing with this amendment. Senator Givens has put one construction upon it, and SenatorMillen another. I wish to know what position the Government intend to take up in the matter. Are they prepared to accept, if not the actual amendment, at least the spirit of it, and get the draftsman to put its intention into unmistakable language? If they sympathise with the object which Senator Stewart has in view, that is the course they will take. I feel quite sure that if the Government promised to introduce an amendment to give effect to what Senator Stewart desires, the honorable senator would be willing to withdraw his amendment, and let the Government take the credit for doing what he seeks to do.
– I wish to make a brief reply to the comments of the Vice-President of the Executive Council upon my amendment. He said that section 43 of the Act applies only to cases where a pension has already been granted. As a matter of fact, that is not so. It provides that if an improvident person applies for a pension, the Commissioner, knowing him to be improvident, may grant the pension and, at the same time, issue a warrant to see that the pension is properly applied in the interest of the person entitled to receive it. In the same way, I wish to provide, under Senator Stewart’s amendment, that, having in view the power to issue a warrant, the Commissioner might grant the pension, and immediately thereafter issue the warrant, so as to give an incapacitated person every opportunity to make the best of the pension granted to him.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [12.7].- I have been endeavouring to ascertain the intention of Senator Stewart and Senator Chataway. In common with other honorable senators, I am anxious, also, to know what attitude the Government take up in this matter. I have followed Senator Millen’s argument and Senator Stewart’s reply to him, and the conclusion to which I have come is very similar to that arrived at by Senator Millen. I find that section 22 oi the Act provides that no person shall receive an invalid pension - unless bis income or property does not exceed the limits prescribed in the case of applicants for old-age pensions.
I turn to the Act again to find what are the limits prescribed, and I find that under section 17 no person can receive an old age pension - unless the net capital value of his accumulated property, whether in or out of Australia, does not exceed three hundred and ten pounds.
In effect, Senator Stewart, by his amendment, desires that we should strike out the words which I have quoted from section 17. An individual might possess property worth £500, or £I,000, and still be able to claim an invalid pension under Senator Stewart’s amendment. Really we should deal with cases of this kind in a direct way, and not by means of a proviso. Senator Chataway proposes a modification of Senator Stewart’s amendment requiring a report in the first instance from the Commissioner before the granting of the invalid pension.
– No, my amendment is to enable the pension to be taken possession of under a warrant, and used for the incapacitated person’s good.
– I see that that is so, but I do not think that that would satisfy Senator Stewart.
– I shall not object to that. An incapacitated person could not draw his own pension.
– Section 43 provides for that.
– Every one must sympathize with Senator Stewart’s object, but if we attempt to legislate for each particular case which we may consider deserving we shall become involved in all sorts of difficulties. We should lay down broad principles of general application, and make provision in the law by means of which upon the report of the Commissioner special cases may be given consideration.
– If the Government will insert a clause to that effect I shall be prepared to withdraw my amendment.
– If such a clause were properly framed I should be willing to support it, as I regard that as the best way in which to deal with special cases. I think we shall best serve the interests of the Bill, and the objects we have in view, by rejecting the amendment which, with all due respect to Senator Stewart, is crudely expressed, and difficult to understand. We had better negative the amendment and leave it open to the Government if they see fit to submit a clause to meet such cases as the amendment is intended to cover.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Chataway’s amendment) be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
– Senator Stewart has stated that he would be quite willing that the Government should re-draft his amendment. I always understood that it was a duty of the Government to re-draft amendments to carry out the intentions of the Committee. It is surprising to me that the Vice-President of the Executive Council has had nothing to say upon the matter.
– He has said something several times.
– The representatives of the Government have simply sat still.
– That is not true. Senator McGregor has spoken two or three times.
– I take it that the Government are against the spirit of the amendment.
-Yes, at present.
– I was under the impression that the debate which has taken place had forced honorable senators to the conclusion that it is absolutely futile to insert in a general measure a provision dealing with a particular case. Apparently, Senator Stewart has only one case in his mind, and he has endeavoured to enlist our sympathy in regard to it. I make a suggestion to him. Let him propose to insert in the Bill the name of the individual to whom he wishes to give relief. I know that sympathy without relief is like mustard without beef, but my suggestion would carry out what he desires.
. -The statement of the VicePresident of the Executive Council, in answer to Senator Sayers, indicates the position which the Government take up. I admit at once the difficulty of ascertaining whether the honorable senator spoke personally or on behalf of the Government; but, taking it as his personal declaration, it amounted to an assurance that he has no sympathy with the object aimed at by Senator Stewart.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– I asked the question point blank.
– It does not matter what you asked.
– You are an impudent old man.
The, CHAIRMAN.-Senator Sayers must withdraw that remark, which is most offensive.
– I allude to the remark by the honorable senator that the Vice-President of the Executive Council was “ an impudent old man.”
– What did the VicePresident of the Executive Council say to me? Could you not hear that?
– If the VicePresident of the Executive Council said anything to which Senator Sayers takes exception I shall ask him to withdraw it.
– I will withdraw and he will withdraw.
– Yes, I withdraw.
– I am very sorry if I misconstrued the words used by Senator McGregor, but I certainly understood him to say that he was not in sympathy with the spirit of Senator Stewart’s amendment at present. If he is not in sympathy with it “at present” what qualification can be exercised by time in reference to a man’s sympathy ?
– I hope that some day a universal old-age and invalid pension will be provided for everybody.
– That is not the point now. The point is whether what Senator Stewart proposes will achieve his object. I hope that the honorable senator will take advantage of the interval which, has occurred to re-draft his amendment with the aid of the public draftsman whose services are usually placed at the disposal of honorable senators for such purposes. Senator Stewart and I are not in accord as to the form of words which he has used.
– They would not accomplish what he desires.
– If Senator Stewart’s interpretation of his own amendment is correct then the wealthiest Rockefeller who ever lived would be able, if incapacitated, to claim an invalid pension.
– He would not be likely to do so.
– We are all aware that there are people drawing old-age pensions who are not really entitled to them by reason of the fact that they are not in need, but whose sense of decency and of the fitness of things does not prevent them from taking advantage either of looseness in the Act or lax administration for which the Government are responsible. So it will be in the case of invalid pensions. If the Government are not in sympathy with Stewart’s object “at present” probably an adjournment of the question until after lunch would enable the necessaryamount of sympathy to be evolved. In the meantime they might consult their draftsman and might devise an amendment which would achieve the object which Senator Stewart desires.
– The Government have a policy.
– I thought Senator Millen was against the amendment.
– It is deplorable that one should be required to take up the time of the Committee, over and over again, in stating in the simplest fashion what he wants. I am trying to achieve the object which Senator Stewart has in view though I do not think” that his amendment carries out that object.
– Why did not the honorable senator help him to re-draft the amendment ?
– Because I thought that he would have the help of the Government in preparing an amendment to meet the case.
– The honorable senator had three “goes” at it and failed every time.
– I have never yet had any “go,” as the Minister expresses it, at drafting an amendment on this Bill. There is, I believe, a desire on the part of honorable senators to have some amendment made to meet the class of cases referred to. We have an amendment before us with which no one is satisfied, and which, in my judgment, opens the door to a dangerous extent. Is it not possible to postpone consideration of the clause in order that a competent draftsman may get to work and bring down a proposal which will meet the requirements of the case?
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Stewart’s amendment) be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 6 and 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 (Amendment of Section 25).
– I take it that this clause means that the limitation in the Act in regard to a home is to be abolished, and that if a house occupied by a pensioner is of more value than that set forth in the Act nothing shall be deducted from a pension on that account.
– The honorable senator is absolutely right. That is the idea.
– I think we ought to have some definition of the word “home.” Does a home mean a rented house or a house actually owned by the pensioner r
– A house owned and occupied by the pensioner.
– A house of any value at all i
– A man can hand over his business to the members of his. family, and live in a house owned by himself. In Queensland we had the case of a man who handed over the whole of his property and stock to his son-in-law, who ran the business, while the father-in-law tried to draw the old-age pension. In addition to that it is now proposed to allow the pensioner to keep possession of his home. At present, when a man is found to be living with some of his relatives who are keeping him, an amount is deducted from his pension, because he is receiving his board free, but in this case it seems to me that we are providing the opportunity for the perpetration of a good deal of fraud on the Treasury. I do not think it is intended that a man should be allowed to live in his own house and hand over his business to his relatives.
– Under the Act he cannot do that. Let the honorable senator read paragraph / of section 17.
– That paragraph reads -
He has not directly or indirectly deprived himself of property or income in order to qualify for or obtain a pension.
You have to prove intent in that case - that he did these things in order to qualify for a pension. There are notorious cases where men have drawn pensions in contravention of the law, and the Department has not been able to find them out.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9 (Amendment of section 26).
– This is a clause in regard to which I should like some information from the Government. Paragraph c reads - “ Every blind male person under the age of sixty-five years, and every blind female person under the age of sixty years,, shall be deemed to be earning wages equal to the amount which he or she could earn by reasonable effort.”
One is tempted to ask, first of all, what standard is to be set up. I should like to hear from the Government how it is proposed to apply this provision.
– I stated at the second-reading Stage that it was not the intention of the Government Chat blind people who were able to earn their living’ should cease to do so simply because they could claim a. pen sion. There are cases in which blind people have been taught to do certain classes of work, and have been able to earn substantial wages, and it is not intended that these persons should cease work. If they earn not more than £26 per annum, they will lie entitled to receive pension payments representing the same amount; but the Commissioner will have discretionary power in cases where blind persons deliberately leave off work in order to obtain the invalid pension. Senator Chataway has suggested that certain persons might get rid of their property by conveying it to relatives in order to enable them to sit down and enjoy pensions. But, as a rule, that class of person will hot part with their property.
– A case of that kind was quoted by Senator Russell.
– Even if they do such a thing, there are provisions in the Act under which the pensions could be withdrawn, and the offenders punished for fraud.
– I do not understand why this provision should be restricted to blind persons. There are plenty of persons in receipt of invalid pensions who are able to earn something, and this provision should be made of general application.
– This provision is intended to apply to invalidity pensions, and not old-age pensions.
– I am referring to invalid pensions. There are living near me two invalid persons, both of whom are compelled to use crutches. One is receiving the pension and earning nothing, whilst the other is earning £2 5s. per week, and is not receiving the pension. So far as one can judge, the man who is in receipt of the pension would be as well able as the other man to earn his living, and some provision should be made for dealing with cases of this kind. If it is going to apply to the blind, make it apply to all invalid pensioners.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council has given a most casual reply to the Leader of the Opposition. He has referred to institutions in which blind persons are able to work and earn their living, but the inmates oi these institutions are not the only blind persons in Australia. The accommodation at the institutions for the blind is notoriously insufficient, and therefore a large number of persons have to earn their living outside. There are many blind beggars in our city.
– They cannot get pensions if they beg in the streets.
-What is there against begging in the streets? Some of these blind beggars earn considerable sums - up to£2, or more, per week.
– Then they would not get pensions.
-How is the Department to ascertain the amount of their earnings?
-A blind person who begs in the streets is not entitled to receive a pension.
-I should like to know what there is against begging. It is a profession, and blind persons who endeavour to attract sympathetic attention by reading from the Braille Bible or by playing musical instruments, have to undergo a course of training to enable them to carry on their occupations. Although in some cases blind persons outside earn fairly good wages, the inmates of the blind institutions are far better off, and yet the latter class only seem to have been held in mind by the Vice-President of the Executive Council in dealing with this matter.
– I think the statement made by Senator McDougall is entitled to more than passing notice, because it represents a very strong indictment against the administration of the Act. I quite agree with the view put by the honorable senator, and I should like to know who is to determine the capacity of invalids to earn money. We should like to know what standard is to be set up. One blind person may be living near an institution such as has been referred to, and may be able to obtain profitable work, whereas another blind person equally willing to work may not be so fortunately situated, and may be a much more fitting subject for sympathetic treatment under the Act. I am afraid considerable difficulty will be experienced in administering these provisions, and I would like to know whether any rules or regulations are in contemplation.
-There are rules under the Act which are sympathetically administered.
-Unless some proper system is followed, I can conceive of grave injustice being done.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses10 to 12 agreed to.
Clause13 (Summary punishment).
– I see that it is proposed to abolish trial by jury, and to deal with offences under the Act by summary conviction. I should like to know what the maximum penalty will be.
– The maximum term of imprisonment will be twelve months.
-I have no objection to that, because the provision is in conformity with those of a similar character in other Acts.
Clause agreed to.
Sitting suspended from1 to 2.30 p.m.
. -I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 14. The Commissioner is hereby empowered to pay invalid pensions to such persons as in his opinion are in necessitous circumstances, and for whom no provision is made in the. Act.
During the discussion on my previous amendment most members of the Committee expressed sympathy with the purpose I had in view. The principal objection of a number of them was that the amendment did not cover the position. The VicePresident of the Executive Council expressed himself as being in opposition to the spirit of the amendment. A large number of honorable senators on both sides of the chamber said that they were sympathetic, but when the vote was taken their sympathy did not apparently amount to very much. It is extremely desirable that provision should be made for necessitous persons, and, according to honorable senators, the case I gave is not an isolated one. The Vice-President of the Executive Council said he knew fifty persons in a similar position. If that is the case there are probably 2,000 or 3,000 persons similarly situated in Australia. It appears to me that one of the first duties of the Labour party is, above everything, to relieve the people who are in need, to try to get as near as possible to the abolition of poverty here. The Minister claimed that until we could bring about a perfect state of society it was of little use to attempt to do the thing piecemeal. I wish to impress upon honorable senators generally their individual responsibility as representatives of the people.
– Order ! The object of this amending Bill is to amend certain sections of the Act which are all enumerated in the title. The amendment of Senator Stewart seeks to introduce a new provision - new in principle, and in every other way - and that is to provide for persons for whom no provision is made in the Act. The standing order provides that no amendment can be made in an amending Bill unless such amendment be relevant to the sections which the Bill seeks to amend. I cannot accept the amendment,, because it is not relevant to the sections which the Bill seeks to amend, but seeks to introduce a principle which is not contained in the Act.
– I was just going to point out these facts to Senator Stewart, and to raise a point of order. If he will refer to his copy of the Bill he will see that according to the Order of Leave it is a measure for the purpose of amending sections 4, 16, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, -40 and 49 of the Act, and nothing else.
– It is very cleverly and ably designed to prevent any amendment of the Act outside those sections.
– The Bill was designed to carry out the intentions of the Government, and nothing more.
– Quite so, I am not objecting to that.
– Will the Government consent to recommit the Bill so that I may attempt to graft an amendment on to one of the provisions which are down for amendment.
– Certainly not.
The honorable senator has been trying in every way to delay the passage of the Bill.
– I resent that statement.
– You are quite welcome to resent it.
– I have been trying to do the best I can for suffering people. The honorable senator seems to be completely callous. Will the Govern-, ment consent to -recommit the Bill so that I may have an opportunity to submit a proposal ?
– No. You had an opportunity, and you did not succeed.
– I had not advisers at my ear like the honorable senatorhas.
– YOU have been for twenty-four hours delaying the Bill.
– Of course, if the Government will not consent it will be of no use for me to persevere.
– The Government could not consent because the proposal isnot within the Order of Leave.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– - I move -
That this Bill be now lead a second time.
The object of this Bill, and of another1 Bill which I shall introduce later, is to repeal the Excise duty, and to abolish the bounty, on Australian-grown sugar. The Excise and bounty provisions were originally intended to further the White Australia policy, and to discourage, as far as possible, the employment of coloured labour in the sugar industry. That that policy has been satisfactory is shown by latefigures, which indicate that about 96 per cent, of the sugar grown in Queensland is produced under white-labour conditions,, the remainder being grown under colouredlabour conditions. Sugar is grown in three States, but, speaking in a broad sense,, nearly the whole of th< sugar consumed inAustralia is grown in Queensland. Honorable senators art- aware that, in respect to this industry, there is an import duty of £6 a ton on sugarman Excise duty of ^4 a ton, and a bounty of £3 a ton. Recently, a Royal Commission, after holding, extended sittings and taking exhaustive evidence in regard to the industry in all its bearings, presented a voluminous report containing certain recommendations. Oneof the recommendations was the repeal of the Excise duty and the abolition of the bounty. The Commission also recommended that the White Australia aspect,, and the industrial conditions of the employes, should be controlled by the different States. It suggested that the Queensland1 Parliament should pass legislation preventing coloured labour from being employed in the field, and that the State Parliaments should pass legislation providing for proper industrial conditions for the employes in the industry. In respect of that matter, certain correspondence has taken place between the Prime Minister and the” Premier of Queensland, and the former has addressed a communication, not only to the latter, but also to the Premier of New South Wales, where cane sugar is grown ; and the Premier of Victoria, where beet
Sugar is grown. The Prime Minister telegraphed to the Premier of Queensland on the 3rd instant as follows -
Referring to subject of your letter, 5th September, 1912, I have now honor to inform you that the Commonwealth Government will introduce Bills during the current Session of Parliament to abolish the Sugar Excise and Sugar Bounty Acts, which shall be brought into operation by proclamation upon the States concerned passing - an Act to - (a) confer upon Commonwealth Parliament the power to legislate in respect of the employment of coloured labour, and regulation of wages and conditions of labour; or (i) abolish coloured labour in the industry, and establish tribunals for the regulation of rates of wages and conditions of labour. Such legislation, whether by Commonwealth or State, to adopt the recommendations of Royal Commission on Sugar Industry as to minimum rates of wages and conditions of labour.
To that communication, the Premier of Queensland replied that he preferred the recommendation of the Royal Commission, namely, that the questions of coloured labour and industrial conditions should be left to that State. As honorable senators are aware, the main recommendations of the Commission in regard to industrial conditions are as follow -
These Bills are being introduced in the full belief that legislation will be introduced at least in the State of Queensland to safeguard the White Australia policy and to give effect to the recommendations embodied in the Sugar Commission’s report with respect to the wages and conditions of the workers in the industry in that State. The present Excise and Bounty Acts will remain in operation in
Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria until legislation on the lines suggested in the Sugar Commission’s report has been introduced in the State of Queensland, and we are anxious, of course, that similar legislation should be adopted in the other States mentioned. In the hope that that will be done, the Prime Minister has communicated with the Premiers of the three States. We know that at least 90 per cent, of the sugar produced in the Commonwealth is grown in Queensland, and while we hope that the States of New South Wales and Victoria will act upon the recommendations of the Sugar Commission, I believe I am safe in saying that, even if they do not, and the Queensland Parliament embodies the main recommendations of the Commission in a measure, which it is believed will very shortly be introduced in that Parliament, the Excise and Bounty Acts operating in the three States named will be at once repealed by proclamation. It is shown in the Sugar Commission’s report that there is a considerable number of growers who are adverse to the Excise and Bounty Acts. Evidence was tendered to the Commission by another section of the people of Queensland, namely, the workers in the sugar industry, strongly opposed to the repeal of those Acts. They feel that the repeal of those Acts must be injurious to them, because they recognise that it has been due solely to the fact that we have taken advantage of the opportunity in passing our legislation to secure a great improvement in the conditions which they enjoy to-day, as compared with those under which they laboured a few years ago. They are aware that, by this means, the present Minister of Customs was enabled to provide that they should be better remunerated for their labour, and should be called upon to work shorter hours. Possibly the great majority of the growers of cane in Queensland will hail with delight the introduction of these Bills. If their introduction will give pleasure to the growers, we hope that the measure to be introduced in the Queensland Parliament will afford equal pleasure to the workers in the industry. I hope that the repeal of the Excise and Bounty Acts will place the growers in a much better position than they have previously been in at any period of the history of the industry. There is to-day an import duty of £fi per ton on imported sugar, but when the operation of the Excise and Bounty Acts is taken into consideration, there is left a margin of Protection of .£5 pe* ton- The abolition of the Bounty and Excise Acts will have the effect of giving the growers of sugar cane in Queensland and New South Wales the advantage of a protective duty of £6 per ton. They will gain an advantage of ,£1 pet ton as compared with existing conditions. There are those i who say that this will not find its way into the pockets of the growers, but will be diverted to another channel. It is contended that the growers, in a measure, are not free men, but that they are tied to a certain octopus, to which strong reference has been frequently made here and in another place. Whatever the ramifications of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company may be, the fact remains that the Government in this legislation are endeavouring to carry into effect the main recommendations of the Sugar Commission’s report. Having said that. I need say little more in regard to this matter. The history of the industryis well known to every member of the Senate, and particularly to honorable senators representing Queensland. Whilst this legislation will mean additional money in the pockets of the growers of cane, it should not be forgotten that it will’ involve a substantial loss of revenue to the Commonwealth.
– Not such a very great loss.
– It is estimated that the loss will amount to from £200,000 to ,£250,000 a year.
– If all the factors are taken into consideration it can be demonstrated that the loss will not amount to half that sum.
– I have seen a statement published that the loss of revenue to the Commonwealth will only be about half the amount I have mentioned. We know that this year there has been a shortage in the crops.
– That has nothing to do with-it.
– That, may be so. I admit that no man in this Chamber, or in another place, has a better grasp of this question than has Senator Givens. I have given only approximately the amount of loss which the Commonwealth will suffer as the result of this legislation. Senator Givens is aware that the revenue will be materially affected by the fact that the growers will under this legislation get an additional _£i per ton for their cane. The
Bill to repeal the sugar bounty,- the second reading of which I shall move later, cannot be divorced from this Sugar Excise Bill, as it deals with the same industry.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
In view of what I have said on the ‘Bill which we have just passed, it would besuperfluous for me to speak at length on this measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages.
.- I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
On the 30th June last the period expired! for which bounties were payable under the Bounties Act 1907. The following were the items affected: - Flax and hemp, jute, linseed (flax seed), rice uncleaned, tobaccoleaf for the manufacture of cigars, preserved fish, dried candied fruits, except currants and raisins exported. During the period specified; the amount available for bounties was £215,000. During the five years the amount of bounty claimed has been £6,713. With regard to fibres, flax, and hemp, the bounty payable was ro per rent, on the market value, and during the five years £40,000 was available. From 1907 up to the end of the financial year 1911-12 only £849 had been claimed. In the first year, 1907, there was no claim; in the second year .£126 was claimed; in 1909-10, £120; in 1910-11, £123; and last year the amount was £480; making a total since the Act has been in operation of £849. It is said, and, I believe, correctly, that there are in the Commonwealth extensive areas which are eminently suitable for the growth of flax and hemp. In Victoria the industry is progressing very satisfactorily. In parts of Gippsland more and more land has been cultivated for the purpose, and the inspector of produce in this State says that the industry has come to stay. He anticipates that it will receive greater attention from producers in the future. It is also an industry to which more than passing attention has been given in Tasmania. The Curator of the Botanical Gardens, writing on the subject, says -
If only the industry in oil and fibre can get a footing in Australia, it will be afine one. I know on first hand authority that an effort is being made in this State to get a big development going in flax culture.
In 1907 bounty was claimed on 32 tons of fibre. Last year the tonnage had increased to 137 tons. After the first year of the operation of the Bounties Act the area registered for bounty was199 acres. The area registered for the year1911-12 was 780 acres. In regard to sisal hemp, I understand that the plant thrives better in the tropical parts of Australia than elsewhere.
– All round Bundaberg.
-Aided by the bounty, we now have 481 acres of sisal hemp under cultivation in Queensland. Very great difficulty has been experienced in obtaining the latest and best machinery suitable for Australian conditions. I understand that Mr. Wells, of Childers, is very enthusiastic about the industry, and has spent a considerable sum of money on his plantation. He is convinced that he will make a success of it later on, and be able to obtain a substantial amount in bounty. There is another grower at Gladstone, with whose name I have not been supplied, who has an area under cultivation. The plants are of a vigorous growth, and he is to take off the first crop this year. Those who have seen it, say that it is of first class quality. The sum of £45,000 is set aside for a bounty on jute. A sum of£9,000 is available during any one year. Up to the present time, no claim has been made. We believe, nevertheless, that jute can Be grown in Australia, and that it would be inadvisable to drop the bounty out of this Bill. We are hopeful that claims will be made within a year or two. As to rice, the bounty was , £5,000 per annum. Up to the present time no claim has been made. When the Bounties Act was under consideration five years ago, it was said that rice would never be profitably grown in Australia, because of labour difficulties. It was alleged that labour enters into the cultivation of rice to such an extent that it could not be grown in this country in competition with rice grown in the East. But, according to recent reports which have been furnished, labour plays a very small part in the production of rice. I think I said, when we were discussing this subject five years ago, ago thatin all probability a machine would be invented and patented that would considerably minimize the cost of rice production.
– - That may apply to the highlands, but not to the lowlands.
– As a matter of fact, a machine has been invented, and is in operation to-day in the United States of America. Mr. Elwood Mead, who is an eminent authority on irrigation, has recently visited the United States of America, and has returned to Victoria. Mr. Mead is very anxious that irrigationists from the United States of America shall come to Victoria to engage, not merely in ricegrowing, but in other forms of production, believing that the irrigation blocks available in this State are more suitable for the production of certain crops than ‘any in America. Mr. Mead speaks optimistically of the possibility of rice-growing. When in America recently, he visited the rice fields of Arkansas, which are the largest in the continent at the present time. They were begun as an experiment in 1902. Today they comprise a tract of country 100 miles long, to, in places, 50 miles wide. All the water used in irrigation is pumped from wells, which have to be sunk to a depth of from 100 to 150 feet. The farms vary from 160 to 200 acres in area, and the rule is for each grower to have his own pumping plant, and irrigate independently of his neighbours. The cost of the water to the. farmers is about£2 per acre. What is worth noting is that this rice land in America is not good; it is described as cold, poor, prairie soil, not more than 8 inches deep. When rice-growing started in Arkansas, Mr. Mead points out, the land was worth£5 an acre. Now most of it is worth at least£20 an acre. Arkansas is now the chief rice-growing district of the United States of America, and Stuttgart, the centre of the district, has the largestrice mill in the world. That rice-growing is more profitable than either tobacco or cotton is shown by the fact that rice land, although not as fertile as cotton or tobacco land; sells for a considerably higher price. Crops were going 90 bushels to the acre, and buyers were offering, when he - Mr. Mead - was there,5s. per bushel. Cultivation and harvesting were surprisingly cheap, the work being done by machinery, and there being no laborious hand labour, as in China and Italy. Mr. Mead is convinced that what has been achieved in the United States of America can be achieved here. The northern parts of Australia are eminently fitted for rice culture. The imports of rice into the Commonwealth during the year1911-12 amounted to £267,588.
– What about cotton?
– There is a bounty on cotton. A bounty of £20,000 was set apart for tobacco-leaf for the manufacture of high-grade cigars. The maximum amount which might be paid in any year was £4,000. The amounts that have been paid up to the present time on tobacco-leaf are as follow : -In1907-8 no bounty was claimed; in 1908-9, £121; 1909-10, £276; 1910-11,£90; 1911-12, £78 - total amount paid,£565. From time to time experiments have been made in the matter of tobacco culture in more than one State. In the King River district, in the north-eastern part of Victoria, areas have been under tobacco cultivation for quite a long time, and, according to a report which appears in to-day’s newspapers, it is claimed that there is a good field for the industry in Victoria if conducted on a more extensive scale than in the past. As regards the better quality of tobacco leaf, which is used mainly for cigarmaking, I believe that Texas in Queensland is the best district in Australia for growing that kind of leaf.
– Bowen, as well as Texas.
– At any rate, we have decided to extend the bounty for the encouragement of the growth of a better quality of tobacco leaf, in the hope that, from time to time, large areas will be put under cultivation, andthat, in the course of years, we may be able to build up a very big industry which will mean much to the grower, and, at the. same time, give employment to labour. The area that was registered in respect of the bounty for the cigar leaf in1907-8 was 290 acres, and in 1911-12 it was 420 acres, so that there is a bigger area under cultivation to-day than there was four or five years ago. As regards preserved fish, we set aside a bounty of£50,000. The maximum amount payable in any one year was , £10,000, and of the amount available £2,348 has been claimed. The industry is making progress under the effects of the bounty.
– I do not think it is.
– It is; because, in 1907, bounty was claimed on 12,750 lbs. of fish.
– Most of that fish was preserved before the bounty was passed.
– I admit that an error was made in paying Tasmanian people a bounty on smoked fish. The fish should have been canned ; but, apart from that, the industry is making progress, because, in 1910-11£115 only was claimed and paid, whereas in 1911-12 , £168 was claimed.
– Can you say in which States the canned-fish industry is carried on?
– I do not know exactly in which States it is carried on, but I have a copy of a wire which was sent by Mr. Scaddan, the Premier of Western Australia, to the Minister of Trade and Customs in November, 191 1, in which, in urging the continuance of the bounty, he said -
This bounty has been of considerable assistance to those engaged in the fish-canning industry in Western Australia, and great possibilities in this direction are opening.
– How many men drew the bounty?
– I do not know.
-That is rather important, because it may be that you are subsidizing a monopoly.
– The Premier of Western Australia goes on to say -
A company has now been formed having machinery capable of turning out 10,000 tins per day. Assistance to labour in the initial stages of the industry will open up a larger avenue of employment for many of our white workers.
As regards dried fruits, we set aside a sum of £30,000 as a bounty. The maximum amount payable in any one year was £6,000. Up to the present, £2,945 has been claimed. In the first year, claims were only made on 54,992 lbs., and in 1911 the bounty was paid on no less than 636,452 lbs. This is an industry that deserves every encouragement, particularly when we remember that very large sums are being expended by the different States on the irrigation of land, much of which will, in all probability, he put under cultivation for the growing of fruits.
– Where do these people find their market?
– They find a home market, I should think.
-Is there an export trade ?
-There is an outside market for some dried fruits, but I should say there would be a difficulty in finding a big market, for the reasonthat our dried fruits have to come into competition with those fruits which are produced in other countries under different conditions from those obtaining in Australia. There is only one other bounty to which I shall refer, and that is the bounty on wool tops. We set aside a sum of £40,000 to encourage this industry, and the bounty was to be payable as follows : - For three years, commencing ist January, 1909, at the rate of 1 Jd. per pound, and in the following two years, at the rate of id. per pound. The maximum amount payable in any one year was ,£10,000. In the first year the bounty was available a sum of £336 was claimed. In 1909-10, £4,935 was claimed; and in 1910-11, £8,522.
– By how many firms?
– I believe that there are two firms engaged in this industry at the present time. In 1911-12, the amount claimed was £16,988. The total amount of bounty that has been paid is £30,679, and the establishment of this industry is due wholly to the bounty.
– So far as export is concerned ?
– That is what it is intended for.
– The manufacture of wool tops was being proceeded with before this bounty was provided.
– In 1909, there was only ,£326 claimed.
– The Minister will notice the difference between wool tops produced for export and those produced for internal consumption.
– I am not saying anything about that. Wool tops, I know, are being produced for local consumption.
– The only purpose of my interjection was that the Minister stated that the industry was being established by means of the bounty - that is, the industry of exporting.
– The bounty is only given on wool tops that are exported.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Principally to Japan.
– Yes. The value of the wool exported in a greasy state last year was about 9½d. per lb. By means of the bounty, the value of that wool has been increased from 9½d. to 2s. 2d. per lb., and it is perfectly true that wool tops have been sold at the latter price in Japan.
– How did you get at the price of g$d. ?
– I say that wool in its greasy state, when exported, averaged 9jd., and when it is combed, made into wool tops, exported, and sold in Japan, its value is 2s. 2d.
– The bounty has not put the price up to that extent.
– Yes, it has, because if it were not for the bounty, wool tops would not be exported. No wool tops were ‘exported from Australia until the bounty was provided.
– What is the amount of the bounty that you are paying?
– One penny per pound. In 191 1, 3,054,450 lbs. of wool tops were exported, the value of which was £305,440. The bounty that we now propose will be different from that which has hitherto existed. Under the present Act, on each pound of goods manufactured by any one manufacturer in excess of 1,000,000 lbs., there is to him a reduction in the rate of the bounty from id. to fd. per lb. One million pounds at id. would amount to £4,166 13s. 4d., and by the time a manufacturer received such a sum, no doubt, the initial difficulties in regard to the establishment of the industry would have been overcome. The reason given for fixing the bounty in advance is that contracts to supply wool tops have to be made a year or more in advance.
– Can you give us an idea of the extent of labour engaged in this industry, and the rate of wages paid ?
– I have here a pamphlet that was given to me yesterday. It is published by the Wool and Basil Workers Association of New South Wales, and is signed by John Griffin, the secretary to the Wool and Basil Workers Union, which is strongly in favour of the continuance of this bounty. Mr. Griffin states -
In the interests of my union, I desire to ask that you will carefully read the information I now place before you, when I feel sure that you will hesitate before withdrawing your support of this measure. ‘ A withdrawal of the bonus would, I feel sure, result in -
the loss of employment to nearly 700 wage-earners ;
– Have you not got any official document to quote from ?
– Yes. Senator Vardon asked me if I knew how many were engaged in this industry. I felt sure that I could take the figures set forth in this pamphlet as being correct, because the pamphlet is issued by a union that is interested in the industry, and I do not think that any one would be in a better position to know the number of members of a union employed in any industry than the secretary to the union. The statement proceeds -
Having given information in respect of the various items, I now leave the Bill to the Senate.
– I think that it is a matter of considerable regret that a set of proposals, of which this is one, under which we are asked to appropriate certain sums of money from the public revenue towards the assistance of private enterprise, should have reached this House at such a late stage of the session that it is practically impossible for us to give them the close consideration and inquiry that the public interest demands. I do not desire to do any more than make a reference to the two measures which are to follow upon that now under consideration, and I only mention them inasmuch as they are framed on very much the same lines, and have much the same objects in view. It is impossible to inquire into the merits of these proposals in detail. This, and the other branch of the Legislature, have expressed themselves as favorable to the granting of bounties for the encouragement of industries. But when we have conceded this as a principle, there should be some commonsense business lines to guide us in granting these bounties, and we are entitled to lay down certain considerations which should prevail before we are asked to assent to, or disallow, claims for bounties. Those conditions are entirely absent in the present case, if we are to judge from the speech of the Minister, and, in the absence of information, which as business men we ought to demand, we shall run the risk of recklessly wasting the public money, or, if we refuse to grant the bounties, of doing something to the detriment of promising industries. I would ask the Minister whether he considers he has submitted a detailed business statement that will enable us to decide whether these industries are in such a condition at present, or have such a future in front of them, that we are warranted in devoting the public money to their encouragement. If the Honorary
Minister were asked to go into a business venture, he would require to be supplied with more information than he has given to us to-day. And yet we ought to observe the same precautions in connexion with the expenditure of public money as we would do if we were thinking of spending our own. There are a hundred and one sources of information from which the Minister ought to have gleaned details, and presented them to this House. The mere fact that some industry puts forward a claim for a bounty is not sufficient to justify us in granting the request. No doubt there are hundreds of deserving industries throughout Australia ; but it would be manifestly impossible, even if it were desirable, to subsidize all of them. Therefore, we have to select those industries which can by means of bounties be placed on their feet within a reasonable time, and become thoroughly well organized and profitable businesses. But no attempt has been made to put before us any information upon which we can judge as to the possibilities in respect to the industries for which bounties are proposed. In my judgment, no bounty ought to be provided for any industry unless there is a reasonable prospect that in the course of a comparatively short period it will become selfsupporting. If we depart from this principle we shall encourage into existence a number of industries which will always have to lean against the State, and if, owing to adverse financial conditions, or for any other reason, the State should suddenly decide to withdraw its support, we should bring the industries toppling to the ground, with the result that a large number of persons would find themselves thrown on the labour market, after having fitted themselves to follow a special occupation. Therefore, it would be the unkindest thing we could do to the people who are likely to find employment in these industries, if we were to encourage such enterprises, without first assuring ourselves that within a fewyears they would be able to get along without the bounty. In connexion with this Bill the first defect I have to point out is that there has been no indication with regard to any one of these industries that in the course of a few years it will be able to get along without the bounty. The Minister has stated that there are great prospects ahead for this industry, or the other, but there is no- thing to show that its progress or its prospects are such that we can say that within five or ten years no further aid will be needed from the State. If the Minister is asking us to take shares in an unlimited liability company, in which we are year after year to be confronted with claims for the payment of these calls, the sooner we recognise the fact, and strike out of our list industries of that character, the better. We should devote our attention entirely to helping those industries which, after a certain period, will not merely abstain from making calls, but will pay dividends in the interest of the general community. There is not one case in which the Minister can say that an industry has made such progress that we can reasonably expect to dispense with the payment of at least some portion of the bounty for the present, with the reasonable prospect that the industry will within five or ten years be able to proceed without the bounty.
– Although those engaged in the wool-top industry have not said so, I judge from the progress the industry has made that it will be able to fulfil that condition.
– !It is unfortunate for the Honorary Minister that one of the grounds of the appeal advanced by the Minister of Trade and Customs was that, unless the bounty was continued, the industry would fall to the ground. I am not particularly singling out the wool-top industry for comment, although it looms rather large on account of the amount of money that is to be paid, and the facts in connexion with it can be easily obtained. Speaking generally, I say that we ought not to provide for the payment of bounties in respect to any industry unless there is a reasonable prospect that, within a reasonable time, the industry will be able to carry on without assistance. Let us take the arguments submitted to this House when the bounty was first proposed. It was intended that it should extend over a period of five years, and the proposal came to this House accompanied by a report prepared by the officials of the Customs Department, who stated -
Top-making for export, it is believed, can be* successfully established here with the aid of a bonus for a period of five years, after which, if conducted on a large scale and in proper hands, the industry should be well able to stand alone, and once it has been demonstrated that it can be conducted successfully it should take rank as one of the first industries.
– Are not we, as a new country, bound to enter upon these enter prises, and submit to be guided by our own experience as to whether or not we have successfully entered upon them?
– It was the Minister who selected the wool industry by way of illustration. I hold, as a general principle, that we should be foolish to provide for the payment of bounties in respect of any industry unless we can be reasonably assured that it will become self-supporting within a few years. Otherwise, the industry must become a permanent pensioner, dependent upon the assistance we can give it from the public Treasury. In the report to which I have referred, it was put forward that payment of the bounty for five years would be sufficient to establish the industry, and that if it were carried on upon up-to-date lines, and on a sufficiently large scale, it would become highly profitable.
– It is making substantial progress.
– The substantial progress is marked by this fact, that it is agreed that unless the bounty is continued the industry will fall to the ground.
– The bounty will be paid upon a lower scale in future.
– That is some recognition on the part of the Government that there is force in the argument I am now using that these bounties should not be regarded as a permanent institution.
– The strongest argument the honorable senator can adduce is that the bounty was first suggested to the Government by Senator Walker, who actually gave expression to the opinion now voiced by him, and the Government included the provision in the Bounties Bill.
– Yes, in the hope and belief that the industry would be able to proceed without grants from the public Treasury when the initial difficulties had been overcome.
– It is absurd to argue that protected duties or bounties ought to result in the establishment of an industry in five years.
– It is not a matter of five years, or ten years.
– Not merely the Government, but the Senate, accepted Senator Walter’s assurance when the bounty was granted in the first instance.
– We would all be willing to accept Senator Walker’s view at any time; but we must be guided by the lessons of experience in all parts of the world in dealing with a matter of this kind. The wool-top industry has had the benefit of the bonus for five years, and has undoubtedly made progress which, viewed by itself, is satisfactory ; but it is not so satisfactory when we take into account the influences exerted on other industries. Now we are entitled to turn round and review the position again, and consider whether the industry requires further aid, and for how long. To enable us ,to arrive at a decision on this point, we have a right to ask for the production of some statement that will show .whether or not the continuation of the bounty is necessary. There is no information as to whether the company is still struggling against the initial difficulties of the enterprise or is making handsome profits. Statements have been made in the press to which I need not refer other than to say that it is unquestionable that the company is paying handsomely.
– You ought to be glad, seeing that it is a private enterprise.
– Of course, I am glad to know that the company is successful ; but what I want to bring home to the Senate is that the bounty is a device to pour dividends into the pockets of the company.
– You know that that statement is not absolutely correct. You ought to state all the facts. They are not making handsome dividends out of the wool tops business.
– The Minister refers to the fact that the company carries on several operations which lead up to and terminate in the wool top making. He quite misunderstands me. I supported the proposal for a bounty when it was first made, and expressed a belief in the advantages which may be derived from a careful application of the bounty system. My argument is that before we grant a single pound in this direction there ought to be evidence that the expenditure is justified, and is going to lead to a public benefit. We have paid a bounty on wool tops for five years. Am I saying anything unreasonable when I state that the claimants for a continuance of the bounty for two years ought to be absolutely open and. frank with us, and place the- Minister in possession of such facts, drawn from their own accounts, as will enable him to determine whether the claim is necessary or not?
– You growled a lot because Mr. Tudor wanted something like that.
– I am- glad that the Minister has reminded me that when the Department wanted to get this informationout of other _ companies they would take nothing but the fullest information. They claimed that it was only right that the public should have the fullest informationin order that the Parliament might be in a proper position to shape legislation.
– You only want a partial statement.
– I want the fullest information. I am friendly disposed to the idea of a bounty ; but we have a right, to be supplied with the information I have indicated.
– The company ought to make good the reason for this demand.
– It is no demand, but a request.
– Those who make a request to us for the payment of public money ought to show that the expenditure is justified. The Minister is not prepared: to-day to tell us that the company cannot carry on, that the dividends it earns will not permit of the withdrawal of thebounty; nor, I venture to say, would the company allow for a moment a public accountant to examine its books to elicit that information. It is doing well. There are other ways of making solid profits than by means of reserve funds, of which we have heard so much lately. It is possible that this company, which is rather a family affair than a company, wishes to hide its real profits, and gets away with a good deal of them by the enormous salaries it pays to members of the family. I do not know anything about its affairs other than from statements that have appeared in print, but we have a right to be supplied with the fullest information. If the company is bona fide, honest, and candid in what it is doing, and in its statement that it cannot proceed in the making of wool tops without a continuance of the bounty, let it make good that claim by inviting the Minister to send along a public accountant to examine its books, and see how far the bounty is necessary for the continuance of the companyIf the Minister were to tell the company that he declines to go any further unless it permitted an examination of its books to be made by a public accountant, he would hear nothing more of this demand. The report from which I have just quoted continues -
It is predicted that in the future all the tops now being made elsewhere from Australian wool will be made cheaper and as well in Australia owing to the perfect natural conditions which exist in Australia in the shape of raw material, water supply, and climate. The number of combs now at work in Australia is estimated at twenty, which represents 1,560,000 lbs. weight of tops per annum, said to be very far below actual requirements - about 15,000,000 lbs. weight.
It was a very pretty picture, which no doubt attracted our fancy, and commanded our approval and support; but the fact remains that the actual increase in wooltop making in Australia is infinitesimal. There is, as the Minister pointed out, a big increase in the export of wool tops, because none were exported prior to the giving of the bounty. As regards the manufacture of wool tops, the increase is very small indeed. Their manufacture was going on before, not for export, but in connexion with the tweed-making and other woollen works in Australia. The first thing we ought to ascertain is whether the industry is in a financial position to carry on with”out the bounty. I wish to direct attention to the similarity of the hopes expressed by the Minister now and by the Minister three years ago. They were hopeful then, as now, that, with a continuance of the bounty, the industry would be able to proceed without further assistance. What is the position to-day? We have paid thousands of pounds to a firm to carry on the industry. It comes. here now and says that it cannot carry on without the continuance of a bounty. If it is speaking the truth, the time has arrived when we should have an exhaustive inquiry as to whether we ought to go on paying money to support the industry. If the firm is not speaking the truth, its claim is discounted on quite other grounds. The statement that the industry could not continue without the bounty is made not merely by the Minister of Trade and Customs, but by the gentleman who represents in the other House the constituency in which the work is carried on. Mr. Riley, whose statement will speak for itself, declares that a refusal of the bounty would bring a calamity upon the people of that district, as well as upon those who have invested their capital in the enterprise. Here is a company which, so far as any of the facts are known to the public, is paying handsomely, yet we are told that it will be brought to financial ruin if we withdraw the subsidy. What is going to be the position on the expiry of the further extension which is now proposed ? Are we to be told the same thing two years hence, and asked to grant a further extension? The time has come for a business-like stocktaking. Let us ask the company if it means what it says - that it cannot carry on without an extension of the bounty. And, if it replies that it cannot, we shall be confronted with a similar plea two years hence, and have to make periodical renewals. If the company cannot give us a satisfactory assurance that it will then be able to carry on without the bounty, there is no better time when we could withdraw the bounty, even if it dislocated the industry, because to-day there is a fair measure of prosperity. It is far better, if we are going to cause dislocation of an industry, to do it when times are comparatively good, than two years hence, when probably, through a change of seasons and other causes, there will be less openings for men to find employment. I come to another aspect of the case. Let us admit that under the stimulus of the bounty the making of wool tops for export has succeeded, . and that the bounty has accomplished its purpose. One is naturally led to ask what has been the effect of this industry upon the starting of other industries ? The Minister drew on his old stock of trade - he tried to raise a prejudice - when he said that the company is objected to because it is interfering with the operations of the Meat Trust. I do not know where my honorable friends opposite stand on this point. It is alleged, and it was alleged here last night, that the Meat Trust is operating for the purpose of keeping down prices. The complaint in Sydney is that the price of meat has been high. If the wool company is operating there, in what way has it acted? Has it kept prices up or down? What does the Trust do? If the Minister would only make definite statements on that point, we should be able to examine them in the light of facts of the day. Meat has been high in price at Homebush and Sydney for some time. Does Senator Findley claim that that has been because of the operations of this company ? If he does, he disputes a claim that the trusts are simultaneously depressing prices. If, on the other hand, the Meat Trust is effectively keeping down prices, how can it be said that the company is keeping them up? It cannot be both at the same time. I suppose that, as regards the price of meat at Homebush, the probability is that the operations of this company have been infinitesimal, but they have had an effect in quite another way ; and that is that since they started to make wool tops, the fellmongers’ establishments in the district have closed. The reason is not far to seek. Of course, all the fell.mongeries have not closed. I knew that fellmongering had been shrinking, but I did not know that it had gone so far until I read the statements by the Minister of Trade and Customs, that all the fellmongers have closed their establishments for a considerable while. There has been a complaint amongst them that it was difficult to obtain their raw material. I do not say that the starting of wool-top making has been the sole factor, but it has been a big contributing factor to the difficulty which has confronted the fellmongers. Give them skins at a price which would pay them, and the industry would soon be satisfactory. We have to balance whatever advantage may be shown in the starting of the wool-top industry. We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that, as we have given an advantage there, the effect of that advantage has been to act as a handicap and a detriment to other industries in the same district. Let. us see what we have done to this industry in the matter of labour and the amount of wages paid, and here I am going to rely upon the statements which were put forward officially by the Minister. From a parliamentary return, which was called for and furnished, we know the number of hands employed by Hughes Limited, and by Whiddon Brothers, the two firms which obtained the bounty. We also know the amount of wages paid. What I must direct attention to is that Hughes Limited are engaged in other industries than that of wool-top making. The purchasing of sheep need not be considered, as that is carried on by a subsidiary company, in respect of which they have guaranteed 10 per cent, on the capital. But, in regard to their own operations, which commence at fellmongering and finish at wool tops, we are able to determine the amount of labour which may be fairly borne between one part and the other. According to this official return, there are 177 hands employed in connexion with wool-top making. In addition to that number, a few hands must be allowed for the driving of the motive power, which, of course, is used for more purposes than the making of wool tops - wool scouring, for instance. Then there are such persons as watchmen and caretakers, who would act in that capacity for wool-top making and the associated industries. Allowing for all that, the number of hands employed, according to the returns prepared for the Minister, was 177. As the total number of hands employed in every branch of the industry carried on by Hughes Limited is 300, if, instead of saying that 177 are employed in wool-top making, I estimate the number at 200, it will be admitted that I have erred on the side of liberality. If that be so, I find that the 200 hands are paid an average of .£104 per annum each. I am confident that the man who prepared this return, in estimating the wages paid by the firm, included the handsome salaries paid to the managers and sub-managers of the concern.
– From what statement is the honorable senator quoting?
– -From the statement presented in another place by the Minister of Trade and Customs. This is a report which the Minister called for in order to enable him to answer the questions sub’mitted by the honorable member for Illawarra. It was prepared, I believe, by Mr. Mills, of the Customs Department in Sydney, but, of course, he had to rely upon the parties concerned for his information. The statement discloses the fact that the average wage paid to all the hands in every branch of the industry carried on by this company was £104 per annum. That being so, I am entitled to say that the average wage paid for wool-top making was not so high, for the simple reason that there is more girl and boy labour employed in that branch than in the heavier industries of fellmongering and scouring. However, 1 proceed on the assumption that the average wage paid to those engaged in wooltop making is ,£104 a year. Now, let us see the amount of the bonus paid. The amount of the bonus paid represents no less than £76 per head per annum for every man, woman, and boy employed in the wool-top making industry. That is to say, we are asked to pay £]6 a year, or 30s. a week, to every man, boy, and girl employed in that industry. That is an alarming rate of bonus. If such a bonus is necessary to maintain the industry, the sooner it is withdrawn altogether the better. On the other hand, if the industry is able to carry or. upon its own resources, honorable senators will see the extent to which we are depleting the public Treasury in order to throw additional profits into private pockets. In order that there may be no possible cavil at the figures I quote, let me say that if we spread the bonus over all the hands employed by Hughes Limited, we shall find that we are subsidizing that firm to the extent of£50 a year per hand employed. In other words, we are paying 50 per cent. of the wages bill of the firm. If we take the bonus paid in respect of the hands employed in the wool-top making industry alone we are paying 75 per cent. of the wages bill for the employes in the particular industry which we profess to subsidize.
– How does the honorable senator arrive at the average wage of£104? Is that contained in the statement presented in another place?
-I can show the Minister how I arrive at the figure. I believe my arithmetic is correct. If he refers to the statement, he will find that the wagesheet of the firm shows that£31,596 is paid per annum in wages, and that amount, divided by 304, the number of hands employed, works out at£104 each, and the amount of the bonus, taking into account all the hands employed in all branches of the industry carried on by the firm, amounts to£50 each. I say that we are not warranted in taking into account the hands engaged in fellmongering and scouring, which are industries quite distinct from the wooltop making industry, and taking into account only those engaged in the wool-top making - the business which we are subsidizing - the bounty paid works out at £76 a year for every hand employed in the industry.
– We had better nationalize an industry like that.
-It is better that we should leave it alone if we cannot show better results than that. If we have to subsidize an industry to the extent of 30s. per week for every man, girl, and boy employed in it, what would happen if we were to give a similar subsidy to all industries ?
– It is worse than the sugar industry.
– If possible, it is. I point out, however, in regard to the sugar industry, that when the Commonwealth Parliament came into existence it was confronted with large vested interests which had grown up under State law, and which no Parliament could ignore. Here we are standing, as it were, on the threshold. We have a clean slate, and can say what we shall write upon it. If it is proposed that we should continue to pay three-fourths of the wages bill of a firm in the shape of bounty, the proposition is so monstrous that if it were thoroughly known to the people of Australia it would be laughed out of court. Let us check the figures I have given by those supplied for a smaller firm, Whiddon Brothers. They made a claim in respect of six months’ production, and they received bounty to the extent of £1,627.The wages paid by this firm for the six months amounted to £3,653, and they employ seventy-one hands. It is interesting to compare the bonus paid per hand to the smaller company with the bonus paid per hand to the larger firm. The average wage paid by Whiddon Brothers is£103 per annum, as against£104 paid by Hughes Limited. The bounty in this case works out at £45 per hand, or a shade less than the amount paid per hand to the bigger firm. In either case, it will be seen that the amount of bonus we are paying is out of all proportion to the wages received by those who do the labour in this industry.
-If they continue to export tops they will receive more and more bounty.
– Does the Minister think that that has anything to do with the case? Does he mean to say that this bounty is to go on for ever?
– No. Under this Bill it will only continue to operate for two years.
– That is what was said when the first Bill was introduced. I wish honorable senators to bear in mind that I am not quarrelling with the efforts to start this business.
-The honorable senator’s arguments are directed against it.
– All I say is that we have a right to ask for a full statement of the financial position of this firm in order to see whether the bounty is justified.
– The honorable senator has quoted figures to show that it is not.
– Then the obligation is upon the Honorary Minister to produce figures to show that the payment of the bounty is justified. He knows no more of the subject than do the books on the table, and is unable to say whether this firm is making millions or is losing money.
– The honorable senator makes that statement, and other statements like it, without anything to back them. He will permit me to have my say in reply, and I will be able to inform him that I do know something about the matter.
– If the Minister has figures to show that this company cannot continue its operations in the wool top making industry without the assistance of the bounty, he should submit them. It is his duty to give us the facts and figures which justify him in asking the Senate to extend the period for the payment of this bounty. He is doing a wrong to himself and the Senate if, having the information, he withholds it. It is not enough that he should leave it for the purpose of a reply to the debate, because honorable senators require it to assist them in the debate. I have shown that there are two firms engaged in this industry receiving the bounty, one receiving bounty at the rate of £76 per hand per annum, and the other at the rate of £45. These are very heavy subsidies. Whilst the industry may be a desirable one to establish, if we are called upon to subsidize it to that extent we have a perfect right to know how far, as a result of our beneficence, these firms will be enabled in a short period of time to carry on without further application at the doors of the Treasury.
– They will not stop.
– They will never stop. It seems that the Honorary Minister is quite satisfied if he can say that, unless we continue this bounty, so many hands at present employed will be thrown out of work. Whilst we have every sympathy with the men engaged in this industry, and admit their right to put their case before the Ministry, can it be presumed for a moment that the members of the Basil Workers Union, who prepared the manifesto, know any more of the business carried on by Hughes Limited than I or any other member of the Senate may know? Hughes Limited do not permit their workmen to go into their counting-house, and they can ‘know what the business of the company is only in the way in which we may know the proceedings of any public company. I should like to summarize a few of the considerations which I think ought to weigh with us in determining whether or not we should continue or approve of the payment of bounties. I say that we should have a full inquiry, first of all, as to the prospects of the industries proposed to be stimulated ; next, as to the capital needed for the full equipment of the industry, the labour employed, the price at which the commodity can be turned out, the prospects of successful competition with outside supplies, and the period during which the payment of the bounty will be necessary. We have never had a businesslike inquiry into any of these headings. Parliament cannot” make such an inquiry. We are here as the representatives of districts and interests which may appeal to us, but we are not in a position to make a thorough business inquiry, which, I venture to say, ought to be made before we decide to spend public money in this direction. With regard to this particular industry, which has already been started, the Minister should have been able to inform the Senate of the amount of capital employed, the labour employed, the wages paid, and the interest paid on the capital. We should know whether the industry is paying unduly large dividends, and whether the company carrying it on is another of those companies which pay 10 per cent., 12 per cent., or 15 per cent, dividends. If the company is paying good dividends, we should not be asked to increase those dividends at the expense of the general taxpayer.
– Do they publish their accounts ?
– They are a limited liability company, and their accounts must be published.
– The accounts are published, but the mere publication of totals in the Gazette is not sufficiently informative to be of any value in this debate. What they do disclose is that the company is doing very satisfactorily. It is not only paying handsome dividends, but has also guaranteed to pay 10 per cent, on the capital invested in a subsidiary company. Another matter upon which we ought to be assured is as to the value of the plant and machinery employed, because an industry which might be conducted under successful management might be a losing concern if the management and the machinery were defective.! Parliament should have an opportunity of assuring itself upon that point. Another matter as to which an inquiry might be made is the period for which it is expected that the bounty will have to be paid. Senator Fraser. - It should not go on for ever.
– Exactly. We ought to have an assurance that when this money is spent, we shall not be told that we have either to throw good money after bad, or let the industry go down. Much that I have said applies to all the bounties; but I think, particularly with regard to this wool -top industry, that there is sufficient reason to ask the Minister, before proceeding further in the matter, to obtain - as he can do at the cost of a telegram - from those interested, and who are claimants for public money, that information which will enable us to determine whether this is a mere attempt to obtain public money for private advantage, or whether it is a legitimate attempt to obtain a continuance of public support for an industry which, in the course of a few years, will be able to run without it.
Senator WALKER (New South Wales) £4.18]. - I supported the Bounties Bill in 1907 on the distinct understanding that the bounties were to last for a stipulated period. I understood that the bounty on wool tops was to last for five years only. I stated then that I had no objection to bounties as long as the period of their operation was defined. But I have seen no reason to induce me to believe that this industry will continue after five years. I was distinctly assured, by the gentleman principally interested, that the company would be able to continue without the bounty after the five years. That period has expired. The position is not very satisfactory, and we ought to have further information.
.- When the Bounties Bill was brought before the Senate a few years ago, I gave it my strong support. I must admit that I know very little about the wool-top industry, but I certainly understood that the bounty was only to continue for five years. During the last few months, I have received copies of a newspaper from Sydney containing very damaging statements concerning the company which is manufacturing wool tops. The statements practically amount to accusations of malversation of public money. I was not aware that the matter would come up for consideration again. I think the Senate would be justified in asking the Government to refrain from persisting in this particular proposal until we have fuller information. The information hitherto supplied has been obtained from interested persons. I did not receive a copy of the’ communication to which the Minister has alluded. I think that every honorable senator should have received it. As to the Minister’s statement concerning the sale of wool in Japan at 2s. 2d. per pound, and his claim that the high price was due to the establishment of the wool-top industry, I would remind the honorable senator that wool fetched as high as 2s. per pound in the Melbourne market thi3 year. It was an extraordinary price, but it certainly had nothing whatever to do with the manufacture of wool tops in New South Wales, and affords no criterion by which to judge of the value of this bounty. I am not against the continuance of a bounty if it can be shown clearly that it is required. But when we hear these damaging statements, we are naturally somewhat dubious. I do not know whether the statements emanate from interested persons or not, but I should say that if they are not trustworthy, those who make them should be prosecuted. We have also to complain that the matter is thrust upon us at the last moment, when we have no fair opportunity of examining the claims, and seeing whether the bounty is justified or not. Surely we are entitled to ask the Government to postpone the matter for a little while. If it is shown clearly that the withholding of the bounty will deprive people of employment, I should be in favour of reconsidering my attitude, but in face of what Senator Millen has said, we should hold our hands, especially as there is another year within which the subject may be considered. If what is proposed is merely another piece of popularity hunting, the Minister will, of course, pass it ; but we ought not to be treated in such a way. The Commonwealth is spending money at an enormous rate, and we ought not to increase expenditure on account of bounties unless it be shown that the expenditure is absolutely justified. We are here to do our duty to the people of this country, and whilst we may be desirous of helping industries in every way, either by means , countries or Customs duties, nevertheless, I want to have my mind perfectly clear on the point that any money that is expended is justified.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [4.22]. - I think it is a great pity that the Minister has not given us the information which he said he has in his possession, and which he assures us would effectively dispose of the representations made by Senator Millen. I am not opposed to the granting of bounties on account of industries that are likely to become firmly established by means, of Government assistance of the kind. The payment of a bounty for five or ten years may be justified under such circumstances, always assuming -‘that the conditions under which the industries affected are carried on are equal to those under which industries not affected by bounties are conducted. I observe that in the Bill before us the Government are taking steps to insure that a fair and reasonable wage shall be paid to persons claiming a bounty. If, as Senator Millen has pointed out, it be shown that the business of making wool tops can only be successfully carried on by the Commonwealth granting three-fourths of the wages paid to every individual engaged in it, it would not appear that the industry is worth preserving, unless it could be shown that the proportion of wages paid out of the bounty would be reduced in succeeding years. Senator Walker has told us that it was plainly represented to him when the bounty on wool tops was first voted, that it would only be needed for five years, at the end of which period the industry would be upon a reasonably sound footing. I believe that as soon as the Bounties Bill was passed steps were taken to float a company to carry on the industry; and it would be very in.teresting to know whether any large sum of money was paid to the persons who promoted the industry. No doubt, they were able to show to persons who were inclined to invest in the concern, that there was an assurance that for a number of years the industry would be supported by Commonwealth money, and that they were therefore entitled to assume that they were going in for a good thing. Under the Bounties Act of 1907 the periods for which bounties were granted varied. The bounty on cotton was granted for eight years, on New Zealand flax for ten years, on sisal hemp for ten years, on cotton seed for eight years, on rubber for fifteen years, and on dates for fifteen years. It is not proposed to deal with those longer periods in the Bill before us. But it is proposed that wherever a period of five years appears in the schedule to the Act, it shall be read as ten years from the ist July, 1907. The bounty granted on combed wool or tops exported, dated three years from the ist January, 1909. Other bounties dated from ist July, 1907. So that two years were allowed before the bounty became operative. In the ordinary course of things it would continue until ist January, 1914. Consequently, a period of eighteen months will elapse before it is absolutely necessary to pass a Bill amending or renewing the bounty on wool tops. The Minister states that contracts had to be entered into for twelve months ahead. Suppose we were to leave the matter at the present time, would not an opportunity be afforded of obtaining the information for which Senator Millen has asked, and with which it is surely reasonable that we should be supplied? We have a right to say to those engaged in the industry, “ We want you to give us such full information as will justify us in granting you the bounty for which you are asking, and we want to be assured that by the continuance.of the bounty you will be enabled to establish an industry upon such terms and conditions that you will not have to lean so heavily upon the Government in the future as you do now.”
– Does the honorable senator think that the industry could stand on its own feet now?
– Judging from the statement of Senator Millen, I do not. But if we were paying three-fourths of the wages now paid, one-half next year, and one-fourth in the year after, that would show progress, and I should be willing to continue the bounty on the ground that the industry was a promising one. That should be proved to us, and it can only be proved by taking the history of this company from its initiation, and seeing how far it has been compelled to rely on the Government for support and maintenance, and whether there are any reasonable prospects of the industry becoming one that will not have to be continually propped up by the Government. If it does want a little assistance in its early stages, I do not object to giving it that assistance. I am willing to continue the bonus for a longer period than the Minister proposes ; but I suggest that, instead “of reducing the bounty from id. to fd., and stopping there, we should continue it, and eventually reduce it further to id. and so as to see whether the industry has to rely on Government assistance. It has always struck me as being peculiar that, when we require combed wool tops for carrying on our own manufactures, we should say, “You shall not have a bonus for producing anything which is consumed here, but you shall have a bonus for anything you export to another part of the world.” On the one hand, we put on a protective duty for the purpose of enabling woollen mills to be established in this country and placed on a firm basis, while at the same time we say, “ We will not pay a bounty upon wool tops which are produced and used here, but we will pay a bounty on wool tops that are exported to some other part of the world,” where they may be worked up into woollen material and then sent out here again to compete with our own woollen manufactures.
– You know that the people of Australia could not make use of all the wool of Australia if it were made into cloth.
– That is quite true j but, at the same time, if goods are being sent here which are manufactured from cheap tops and by cheap labour, they can compete with our goods. For instance, Great Britain sends its wool tops to all parts of the world. We come into competition with that country, and Ave say that, in order to enable our manufactures to compete with Great Britain in other parts of the world, we are going to give a bonus to those who export tops. But we will not give a bonus to the man in Australia who makes the tops and manufactures them up into tweed. I. am quite prepared to recognise the principle upon which we have proceeded, and I am willing to continue the bounty so long as it is shown that it is not being paid for the purpose of bolstering up an industry which. when the bounty is taken away, must fall to the ground and bring trouble and distress to the men engaged in it.
– Is there any reason why Ave should not prepare wool tops here, manufacture them into tweeds, and export them ?
– We have a number of woollen mills in this country. The owners of them have either to buy imported tops or to make tops here. If they make tops here, and put them into material, they get no bounty, but if they send those tops to other parts of the world, a bounty is given to them. That is a distinct discouragement to our own manufacturers. If it is the policy of the country to build up these industries by means of protective duties and
Government assistance, does it not seem peculiar that, on the one hand, Ave are building up, and, on the other hand, we are pulling down? So far as this particular bounty is concerned, it appears to me that no injury would be done to those engaged in the industry if the matter were held over for consideration till the next session of Parliament, when the fullest inquiry could be made into all the circumstances.
.- I am pleased that this Bill has been brought forward, because I believe that it will do a certain amount of good. The Minister, in his speech, referred to coffee and rice. I have had several communications from one of the largest coffee-growers in Queensland. The last communication I had from that gentleman Avas in reply to a wire which I sent him stating that the Government intended to continue the bounties on those products. In previous letters which I had from him he stated that it was impossible to re-establish the coffee industry on a bounty of id. a pound, and in this wire lie states -
Penny bonus slight assistance to coffee-growers, but amount too small to re-start the industry.
This gentleman has been growing coffee for a number of years, and has been, to a certain . extent, successful. Some of the coffee grown-by him Avas used in Parliament House years ago, and I belie,e that it is really good. He is anxious that the industry should be re-started; but he says that, although the bounty of one penny will be of slight assistance to those who now have plantations, it will be no good to those who have to start from bed-rock. I shall hand the telegram to the Minister. It is signed by a Mr. Street, than whom I do not think there is a better judge as to what should be done. I do not suppose that it is possible for a private member to get an increase in the bounty now, but I desire tobring the matter under the notice of the Minister. Senator Findley spoke about machinesbeing used in garnering rice. I interjected that machines might be used on what is called upland rice country, but in places where the rice is grown in swamps, and where those employed are up to their thighs in mud, it would be impossible for a machine to be worked. The honorable senator stated that an American expert now in Victoria had seen machines working in the rice plantations on prairie country in Kansas, in the United States of America. I quite agree that in prairie country, which- is irrigated by wells, machines could be worked, but we know that the best class of rice is grown in the swampy country, where it would be impossible to use a machine, and in that part of Queensland where ricegrowing has been engaged in a machine would not act. I am sorry to see that the question of growing cotton has not been given some consideration by this Parliament. Several attempts to establish the cotton industry have been made by the State Government of Queensland, and very good cotton was grown in and around Ipswich. The mill and all the necessary machinery are still there, and they not only grew cotton, but they produced calicoes and other articles from it. I believe that if a fair subsidy were given the industry could be established, and that would result in a great deal of good to the Commonwealth. The bonus has not been sufficiently large to make the industry a financial success, but I hope that steps will be taken to properly establish an industry which is now languishing for the want of some assistance. Our people have grown cotton, and they have manufactured it into fabrics to the extent of thousands of yards. Why should not the Government assist this important industry, which is of a thoroughly Australian character, and upon which the people of Queensland have spent many thousands of pounds?
– What is the amount of the bonus?
– Ten per cent.
– That is not a bad percentage.
– The point is that it is not sufficient, mainly owing to the high cost of labour. All that I ask is that the Government should adopt the same course in regard to the cotton industry that Senator Millen has suggested in respect of the wool top industry. They should send an officer to the cotton-growing districts to make a full investigation, and ascertain whether, by granting an additional 5 per cent, bonus, the industry would be assisted to such an extent as to give reasonable hope of ultimate success. If it were shown that there was no hope, or that the planters were making high profits, I would ask for nothing further. But I urge that those who have been induced by the present bonus to engage in the industry are entitled to further assistance if it can be shown that it is needed, and that the prospects are hopeful. A great many men went into cotton planting in the full belief that the bonus would prove sufficient; but I am in formed that, unless the bonus is increased, they will be ruined. We know that in the initial stages of any industry many mistakes are made, but as time goes on these are rectified, and the industry is placed upon a better footing and becomes less in need of outside assistance. With regard to coffee, I would ask the Government to make a thorough investigation. If we are to establish coffee-growing as a natural industry, instead of leaving it in the hands of one or two men, who have been able to tide over the initial difficulties, it will be necessary to increase the bonus for two years, and I hope that something will be done next session, otherwise a large number of persons will be absolutely ruined.
.- I have not the least objection to the principle of paying bonuses for the encouragement of industries. On the other hand, I prefer it to any other system. If an industry can be placed on a sound footing by means of a bounty or bonus, it is desirable to grant assistance in that form rather than in any other, because we can keep a full account of what we are doing as we go along. But I hold that at the outset we should know what are the prospects of success, and should have reasonable grounds for believing that if a bounty is granted for a certain number of years the industry will become selfsupporting.If we grant bounties without being first assured on this point, we shall probably waste large sums of money. It is necessary that we should have some information in regard to the wool top industry. According to what I have heard, and have read in the newspapers, the circumstances surrounding the payment of this bounty verge on a public scandal. The Minister read extracts from a pamphlet, in which it was stated that 700 employes were engaged in this industry. But in an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 261th October last, it was stated that the actual number of employes was from 250 to 300. These are widely divergent statements. It is desirable, also, that we should know whether or not the firms drawing the bonus - the greatest proportion of the payments have been made to one firm - are able to get along without this assistance. If we are paying from 50 per cent, to 75 per cent, of the wages bills of these firms, we are making a big call on the resources of the Commonwealth in order to establish an industry. Messrs. W. F. Hughes Limited, one of the firms engaged in this industry, recently issued a prospectus in connexion with the flotation of another company with a capital of £[2 50,000. The prospectus contains the following statement -
The machinery employed in all departments is most up-to-date, and throughout the important item of saving labour has been carefully studied.
As an instance, the wool is fed to the mammoth scouring machines 120 feet in length by one lad, and it is scoured and dried without further labour, save for an onlooker to watch the working of the machines.
Then there is another paragraph which reads as follows -
The immunity from labour troubles in this industry is in marked contrast to the conditions obtaining in most other industries in Australia, while in the combing mills the work is carried out almost entirely by girls, to whom its light, clean nature appeals.
According to their own showing, the company will not pay very much for labour ; but, on the other hand, it is claimed in the prospectus that the profits will amount to £50,000 per annum, and that dividends at a high rate on the money invested may be anticipated. A good many strong things have been said about this company, and the business it does, and we ought to make a full investigation. I should like to know whether the whole of the money available for the payment of the bounty has been expended.
– No, we have about £4,000 in hand.
– I would suggest that the Minister should allow this matter to stand over until next session. In the meantime, a searching inquiry should be made and full information obtained. If the companies are doing good work, and are worth supporting, they ought not to have the slightest hesitation in opening their books and giving the fullest information with regard to their earnings and the wages paid. If the average wage paid is £104 per annum, there must be a considerable number of low-paid employes. Before we continue the bounty we ought to be informed as to the actual conditions. I do not feel inclined to vote for any further bounty on the strength of the information now before us.
– When the original Bill was before us I strongly objected to our earmarking a large sum of money that in all probability would not be earned and paid away. Under the Bill it is proposed to go further, regardless of whether the industries to be assisted can offer any prospect of substantial success within a few years. The original Act provides for varying periods for the payment of the bounty, as follows: - Cotton ginned, 8 years; New Zealand flax, 10 years ; flax and hemp, 5 years ; jute, 5 years ; sisal hemp, 10 years ; cotton seed, 8 years; linseed, 5 years; rice, 5 years; rubber, 15 years; coffee, 8 years; tobacco leaf, 5 years ; preserved fish, 5 years; dates, 15 years; dried fruits, 5 years; and combed wool or tops, exported, 3 years. I do not see why we should now adopt a uniform term of ten years, as is proposed. It seems to me that the Bill, if passed in its present form, would leave the way open for the payment of bounties for the support of small industries which would show ‘j no sign of expansion. The period of ten years fixed for the bounty in the case of flax-‘growing, jute and linseed - practically annual crops - seems to me to be out of all proportion. It is continuing the bounties for a term longer than the duration of two Parliaments.
– No. The majority of the bounties expired on the 30th June of this year, and clause 4 means a period of ten years from 1907, not from this year.
– If that is so, the Minister should have made that explanation when I mentioned the matter at the beginning of my remarks.
– The Bill itself tells you that.
– The bounty on wool tops has been discussed at some length. I think that the Government would have been wiser if they had proposed a decreasing bounty, if it is to be continued for only two years. The bounty is to be altered to id. per lb. for the first 1.000,000 lbs. made by any one manufacturer, and fd. per lb. for each pound in excess of that quantity made by any one manufacturer.
– Originally it was 1½d. per lb.
– If the Government had made the bounties id. and fd. per lb. in the first year, and fd. and d. per lb. in the second year, probably the proposal would not have been quite so objectionable as is the present proposal. I think that while the Government have been very kind towards the wool-top industry, which I understand is paying uncommonly well, and pays very high salaries to its leading officials, they have certainly treated rather shabbily many industries which are doing their level best to get on their feet, and do not involve any very considerable sum. Unfortunately, I have not been able to get a copy of an annual return, and therefore I am obliged to rely upon my memory. There is a tendency for the coffee industry to go back. If we are going to extend the help of bounties to such a big concern as wool-top making, which is drawing assistance from the Treasury to the extent of thousands of pounds a year, I think it would have been wise, especially in view of legislation likely to be passed in connexion with the sugar industry, if the Government had offered something more in the way of bounties to establish the coffee-growing business. In some places where coffee is grown, the bounty is not being claimed, for the simple reason that its receipt would not make it worth while for the growers to pick the berries with white labour, and so they continue to employ coloured labour. If the proposed sugar legislation is carried out, a certain number of coloured men will, of a surety, be driven away from the sugar-fields, and possibly the sugar factories. If my honorable friends do not wish them to pass into other States, probably the best thing which the men can do is to drift into those centres where tropical products, such as coffee, are grown, and take their chance of getting employment there.
– They can go to Fiji.
– Of course they can, if the Minister will pay their passages. The bounty on cigar leaf is to be extended for five years. Despite the bad seasons which have prevailed, a considerable amount of cigar leaf is produced in the Bowen district, in Queensland, and, according to the last State agricultural report, there is every probability of a very considerable increase in the cultivation of the leaf. I now come to the bounty on preserved fish. Although it is an industry which ought to be conducted on a very big scale in Australia - seeing how dear the ordinary fresh fish is, and how easy it is to make up preserved fish in dishes so that the difference between the two sorts can hardly be discerned - the bounty is put down at½d. per pound. I admit that there is practically very little increase in the production of preserved fish. The industry is useful in many ways - useful because it employs persons alongside the water, which is one of the things we want to encourage - and because it is a food industry.
As I prophesied, and I am sorry to say that my prophesy is correct, the bounty on rice has had practically no effect. I think that in Queensland an area of only 4½ acres is under rice. I do not say that the area under cultivation will not be increased. I am only giving an illustration of the way in which we pledged ourselves, and practically locked up a considerable sum for a number of years, when it was hopeless to expect any satisfactory result. I do not know whether the Government intend to extend this bounty to the Territories of the Commonwealth. That point should be considered, because I am strongly of opinion that, in certain portions of the Northern Territory, rice could be cultivated on the recent American principle, and made a profitable crop. I should like to know whether the bounty is to apply to the Northern Territory and Papua ? Probably it would not operate in Papua because there it is nearly certain that coloured labour would be employed. I had not the advantage of hearing the Minister’s opening speech, but, judging from the Queensland returns, no progress is being made in rice cultivation. While we are helping in a large way the wool-top industry, it would be a very good thing indeed if the Government could see their way to increase some of the bounties to which I have referred. Up to the last financial year, on combed wool tops, no less than £30,679 was paid by way of bounty, while on coffee the bounty came to £528 ; on tobacco, to £565; on linseed, to £6; on cotton-seed, to £44 ; on sisal hemp, to £189 ; on flax hemp, to £849; and on gin cotton, to £304. Section 4 of the Act provides that the bounties shall not be payable except under given conditions. It reads as follows -
The bounties under this Act shall be payable in respect of goods which -
are, in the opinion of the Minister, of a merchantable quality, or, in the case of food-stuffs, are of the prescribed quality, and
have been grown or produced in not less than the prescribed quantity and subject to the prescribed conditions, and
have been grown or produced by white labour only.
The section needs to be altered, because there is no definition of what the term “merchantable quality” means. When we pay so large a sum as£30,000 in connexion with wool tops, we should have a report on which we can rely to show the quality of the wool tops.
– They are merchantable.
– Yes ; and so are old clothes.
– Because they compete against Bradford and other tops, and fetch a higher price.
– I understand that Australian wool tops are competing successfully against English wool tops in the Japanese market, but we have yet to learn what the variety is. The main point I wish to make is that, the last year on which it is proposed to pay bounties is the year ending the 30th June 1922, and that, instead of ear-marking .£339,000, as from 1908, we are asked now to ear-mark no less than .£359,000; but we are not asked to increase the bounty on any one of these articles.
– You can see that the annual payment on most of them has been increasing.
– From what amount is £6 an increase - from ,£4, or £2, or .£1 ?
– Very likely, because before the Act was passed we did not pay any bounties. Who is going to get this additional sum of .£20,000 ? The other industries have not made any considerable demand on the Treasury. It looks as if the Government assume that another £20,000 is to be given to the manufacturers of wool tops. I should like the Minister to say whether these bounties will apply in the Northern Territory, and to what extent.
– Yes, because the preamble of the original Bill says, “Australia and the Territories in Australia.”
– lt says “the Commonwealth of Australia.”
– It is about time that we considered where we are in regard to bounties. In Sydney, a long investigation by a newspaper has been going on, and it seems that something is being done with regard to the production of wool tops, and the bounties thereon, which is absolutely hostile to the interests of Australia, because it is playing into the hands of the Japanese manufacturers. Unfortunately, at the end of the session no individual senator, possibly not even the Vice-President of the Executive Council, can go into this question. We are asked to burden the taxpayers with £30,000 or £40,000 extra to support this policy. If it is going to help an Australian industry, let us consider it. The more the wool-top bounty is investigated the more strongly it is asserted that the whole benefit of the bounty is going to a single company.
– No, to two companies.
– We authorized the payment of these bounties at the beginning, not for the benefit of one or two companies, but for the assistance and development of the industries of Australia, and those engaged therein. This is another instance of how easy it is to go in for this kind of thing, and how difficult it is to tell what will come of it. State assistance in this direction always leads to the same result. It is about time that those who talk of bounties, Protection, or prohibition, should know what is the result of the adoption of these forms of assistance to industry.
– The butter bounty created the butter industry in some of the States.
– We knew nothing about butter bounties in Queensland, and I do not believe that any of the States knew of them in the sense in which we are now using the word “bounty.” -I have here a return showing what we have paid in bounties, and I am entitled to ask what we are getting for the money thus expended. I do not say that the present Government are entirely responsible in this matter. I like to be an exponent of the square deal. I frankly admit that a Sugar Bounties Bill was introduced by a Government ‘ which I supported. Still, I am entitled to ask, What returns are we getting from these bounties? Under an Act which we have passed, we have paid to the Commonwealth Oil Corporation altogether ,£3,367 in bounties. What return have we got for that expenditure? If the Government can indicate a single successful experiment under this system, I. may be inclined to assent to this Bill. We are asked to give further assistance to the wool-top making industry. That is one of the reasons for which this Bill is being introduced. I have searched reports in vain to discover whether the industries already supported by bounties are increasing. That is the object we had in view in paying these bounties. I can get no information on the subject from the Government or from official returns. I have referred to what has been paid in this way for the production of shale oil in the past.
– I point out to the honorable senator that the matter to which he now refers is not dealt with in this measure. The Acts set out in the schedule do not refer to any bounty on oil.
– This Bill proposes the extension of the system of bounties, and, before I give my assent to that, I hope I am entitled to ask what has been the practical effect of the money we have spent in bounties in the past. Notwithstanding the fact that under this measure certain -matters are to be referred to a Court for determination, we have to consider the general interests of the public who must meet the cost. I mentioned incidentally the bounties paid for the production of shale oil as an illustration of what has been done under this system. Who on earth has discovered a gallon of oil in Australia as the result of the payment of that bounty? Who will say that this further proposed expenditure will be productive? I find that we have paid £20,000 by way of bounties to the iron industry.
– Order ! I call the honorable senator’s attention to- the fact that it is not competent for him to discuss that matter under this Bill. He may discuss it under the next Bill on the noticepaper.
– I thank you, sir, for your reminder. Possibly what I desire to say on the subject may be more appropriately said on the next Bill. I bow to your ruling.
– The Leader of the Opposition directed most of his criticism towards the proposal to extend the bounty on wool tops. He said that there is no information forthcoming that this industry cannot be carried on without the aid of a bounty.
– I did not say so. I said I wanted to know whether it was so.
– The honorable senator wanted the information ; but to his own satisfaction he proved that it was a highly profitable business, and could be carried on without the aid of a bounty.
– I did not say so.
– The honorable senator said that the business was paying dividends, was a profitable concern, and on that account consoled himself with the view that it could be carried on without the aid of a bounty. Not long since a deputation composed of persons, who are said to be members of a Meat Ring in Sydney, waited upon the Minister of Trade and Customs, and expressed a desire that the bounty on wool tops should no longer be paid. In reply to the deputation, I find that the Minister of Trade and Customs said -
He had made an inspection of the particular establishment under notice, and he thought it was worthy of the company.
Referring to the members of the deputation, who expressed themselves strongly in favour of the discontinuance of the bounty on wool tops, the Minister said -
The members of the deputation would, perhaps, say that if there were no bonus the business would be wiped out.
To that statement a Mr. Gee said, “ It would wipe itself out.” Mr. Gee was one of the principal speakers on the deputation that desired the discontinuance of the bounty, and I am informed is a prominent member of the Sydney Meat Ring.
– By the way, is there a meat ring in Sydney?
– Every one but the honorable senator is aware that there is. Some little time past a series of articles appeared in a certain weekly newspaper published in Sydney. They were, in my opinion, inspired by the Meat Ring.- Copies of the newspaper were sent to members of both Houses of this Parliament with a view, no doubt, to influence them to vote against the extension of this bounty on wool tops. The reason for the hostility shown by this newspaper towards the company interested in the manufacture of wool tops, is that Mr. Hughes, who is carrying on the wool-top industry, is associated with the company that is coming into competition with the Meat Ring for the purchase of skins. When he first entered into the business, the members of the Meat Ring believed that they would be able to wipe Mr. Hughes out altogether, but he became a competitor with them, in the purchase of sheep. He has gone into the meat business, and when his sheep are slaughtered he utilizes the skins, the wool on which, in an up-to-date establishment, is converted into wool tops and exported to Japan.
– This is Hughes’ story which the honorable senator is telling us.
– The important point is that it is a correct story.
– Suppose that the Meat Ring wanted Hughes shut out; how does that demonstrate the necessity for a bonus for this industry?
– The Meat Ring want Mr. Hughes to cease being a competitor with them for the purchase of sheep.
– How does that justify the continuance of the bounty on wool tops ?
- Mr. Hughes was forced to become a buyer of sheep against these people, in order to secure the skins he required for his wool-top making business.
– The information I want is how the Minister can claim that that justifies a bounty on wool tops?
– When Senator Millen is given one piece of information he wants something else. The honorable senator told us that we are providing 70 per cent, of the wages paid in this industry by way of bounty.
– Hear, hear.
– The honorable senator is wrong in that statement.
– Then the case made out bv Mr. Tudor was wrong.
– The wages paid by two firms engaged in the wool-top industry amount annually to £35,249.
– Not in connexion with the manufacture of wool tops alone.
– Yes. The Minister of Trade and Customs has supplied the figures. He shows that the wages paid in the industries amount to £35,249, and as the bounty paid amounts to £16,897, the rate per cent, of the bounty works out at about 48.
– That is on the wages paid over the whole of the industry.
– No, in the wooltop industry.
– Then Mr. Tudor gave wrong information.
– Portion of that bounty was paid on a basis of 1¾d. per lb. Senator Millen said that, because the bounty is providing 70 per cent, of the wages paid in the industry, a searching inquiry ought to be made. The honorable senator can always make out a good case when he is opposing a proposition. But why did he not go a little further ? He knows very well that the industry could not be established without capital. Land was required, buildings had to “be erected, machinery was absolutely essential. Official figures show that the company concerned imported £14,156 worth of machinery for use in the industry, and paid duty thereon to the amount of £2,361 4s. nd. Consequently, the statement that the wages of the company were paid out of the bounty to the extent of 70 per cent, is incorrect.
– What I said was that the bounty represented 75 per cent, of the wages paid.
– But that is .only one aspect of the case. Machinery, land, and buildings had to be paid for.
– And dividends had to be put into the pockets of the shareholders.
– Wool tops were never exported until this bounty was paid.
– Where are they being exported to now ?
– To Germany and Japan.
– To compete against British manufactures.
– They are also competing against German manufactures. Why should they not compete? We compete in the markets of the world wherever our exports go, and what reason is there why we should not compete in regard to wool tops? It has to be remembered, as I said before, that in this industry contracts have to be made twelve months in advance, and it would have been manifestly unfair to wait until the bounty period expired before giving consideration to this matter. In justice to the manufacturers we should decide here and now whether we will continue this bounty. Senator Millen said that we should have an inquiry to ascertain what machinery the company has in its establishment, what wages are paid, the price paid for wool, and the profits realized. Has the honorable senator been as anxious in regard to other bounties proposed?
– My remarks on that aspect applied to all the bounties.
– I do not think they did. If one were to look up Hansard’ he would fail to discover anything like the criticism in regard to other bounties .that was directed against the bounty on wool tops. This is an industry that deserves encouragement, and the opposition that has been manifested in the Senate and outside is not so much an opposition on business grounds as a personal opposition due to the fact’ that certain persons have a grudge against Mr. Hughes.
– The honorable senator has no justification for sayang that.
– I am alluding to what has appeared in certain newspapers, and not to speeches which have been made here. Certain persons elsewhere have a grudge against Mr. Hughes because he has been treading on their corns in certain directions. Newspapers which Iia ve taken up the opposition to Mr. Hughes’ industry have been circulated amongst honorable senators.
– I have never read one of them.
– I have seen dozens of copies of the Newsletter addressed to various members of the Senate. Other literature has also been circulated. Under all the circumstances, I say that this is an industry deserving of every encouragement.
– Why does not the Minister attempt to show that this bounty is necessary?
– In the first place, Mr. Gee, who is a strong opponent of Mr. Hughes, asserts that the industry would be wiped out if the bounty were discontinued. Mr. Hughes himself also says that the industry could not be conducted without the bounty. Furthermore, the workers in the industry are anxious for the continuance of the bounty, and it is believed that in two or more years the business will be established, and the bounty will be proved to be no longer necessary.
– Who has made the statement that after two years the bounty will not be required ?
– Information .we have received shows that, in all probability, the industry will be established within the period mentioned, and the bounty may not be required after that time.
– Who is the authority ? Where is it from?
– From an authoritative source.
– The Minister has no information at all.
– We have this knowledge - that the bounty was originally i£d. per lb. on wool tops exported. It was reduced to id. for the next two years. Our proposal is that when a manufacturer produces 1,000,000 lbs. of wool tops there shall be a reduction to fd. per lb., and we have particular knowledge that the factory in which Mr. Hughes is interested will in all probability produce that amount soon. The amount of fd. per lb., therefore, will be paid, which will only be half what was originally paid. All this having happened within a period of four years, we are hopeful that in two years more - or three at the outside - the industry will be established firmly, and the bounty will be unnecessary.
Question resolved in the affirmative..
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
Section 2 of the Bounties Act 1907 is amended by omitting therefrom the word “ thirty-nine “ and inserting in its stead the word “ fifty-nine.”
– This is the clause under which we are asked to provide money for bounties under this Bill. It therefore affords an opportunity of dealing with some of the statements made by the Minister in charge. I wish to point out to him in the first place that my original request was for information which would enable us to determine, as business men, whether or not the payment of this bounty was necessary to keep the industry going. The Minister said that he had information, and would give it to us. I venture to saythat no information has been given which indicates whether the financial position of this industry is such as to require further assistance. The Minister stated that he had the assurance of two names, which he gave to the Senate. The first was that of Mr. Gee, who is a member of the alleged Meat Ring, and an opponent of Mr. Hughes’ company. His statement is that if the bounty is withdrawn the business will cease. Surely it is an unusual thing for a Minister to take a statement from one whom he himself declares to be an opponent as authoritative in such a matter. The second authority quoted was Mr. Hughes himself, the gentleman who comesalong and asks this Parliament for assistance, though he furnishes noproof as to whether the industry needs this £10,000 a year or not. Does Senator Findley think that any one in Mr. Hughes’ position would not say the samething ?
– When a man saysthat an industry could not be carried on but for the bounty, that is enough.
– Apparently then all that I have to do to get money out of this Government is to start a business, and’ then get some one else to tell the Government that my industry will fail without a bounty. I shall then get what I want. There has been no examination of the books of the company to show whether the- bounty is necessary or not; but merely because some interested people approach the Minister, and are enabled to tell him their confidences, thousands of pounds are to be taken out of the pockets of the people and put into the pockets of these persons. I see no reason why the money of the taxpayers should be disposed of in this manner.
– Is the honorable senator an authority on this question?
-I am merely asking for information. Is Senator Needham prepared to put £10,000 into the pockets of a firm without knowing whether the claim that it makes is justified or not ? Of course, the company wants this money. Whether they need it is another question, but they certainly want it. Hughes Brothers are smart business people.
– What is the name of the company?
– It is Hughes Limited. I supported the original proposal for a bounty, and, therefore, showed my bona fides in assisting a promising industry. But we voted the bounty on the assurance that if the persons interested were given help for five years to enable them to get over their initial difficulties they would be able, to use a familiar expression, to “ paddle their own canoe.” But they now come along and say that they want assistance for a further period. Surely we are entitled to ask for proof, which can only be obtained from the books of the company which is asking for the subsidy. The Minister made some extraordinary statements in the course of his last speech. He dealt with thecapital invested in the concern, as though that were evidence as to why the bounty should be paid.
– What is the capital ?
– The company was attempted to be floated for £250,000; and it is a curious thing that immediately the company got this concession in the shape of a Bounties Bill, a prospectus was issued. By the way, the Hughes Brothers took a mighty big parcel of shares out of it for themselves. Of course, they were perfectly justified in that. But we have no right to allow a bounty to be used to enable persons to float companies for their own advantage.
– Why did not the honorable senator vote against this Bill on the second reading?
-As a matter of fact, I was called out of the chamber for a few minutes, and the Bill was read a second time in my absence. Otherwise, I should have called for a division. There is another justification for those who abstained from calling for a division on the second reading, and that is this : I am standing here, not as an opponent of any bounty proposed under this Bill, but to demand inquiry into the circumstances of the industries for which subsidies are asked. I cannot understand the position taken up by some honorable senators, who seem to think that, merely because an industry demands a bounty, we have to pay it.
– Have you any information as to the capital of the company?
– The information which I have was put forward in a prospectus issued by Hughes Limited.
– £150,000, of which £100,000 was reserved.
-Of the £150,000 worth of shares offered to the public, £91,000 worth were taken up by the Hughes Brothers.
– You want to know how much water there is in the company.
-I do. When the concerns of the Gas Company in Sydney were under discussion, all this information was demanded. An inquiry was held, and matters were probed to the bottom, in order that Parliament might be fully possessed of information which would enable it to act. But here we do not know whether the company is putting the whole of the bounty into its pocket or whether the bounty is necessary to continue the industry. I am surprised that any honorable senator should resent the attitude which I am taking up. I ask now, can this company carry on the industry without public aid? If it can, there is no reason why public aid should be extended to it. What does the Minister say in reply to that ? He did not bring forward any figures, or go to the trouble of turning up the public records, to find what dividends this company has been paying. The reason why the Minister did not bring forward a statement showing the dividends the company was paying was that the statement would show that this is a very wealthy company. As far as wool tops are concerned, the Minister could obtain the information in the way I indicated during the second-reading debate - that is, by calling upon the recognised accountant of the company to furnish replies to two or three questions. The first question is, “ What is the amount of capital employed in this wooltop making branch of your business. ?” And then other figures should be required to be supplied to enable us to determine what profit is being made on that branch of the business. If the profit is . shown to be sufficient to enable the company to carry on the business, there is no reason why we should tax the people in order to subsidize this company.
– Can you throw any tight on the subject ?
– I am pleading for light.
– In addition to that, you are throwing some suspicion on it.
– I venture to say that if I went to Senator Lynch and said to him, “ I want you to give me £1,” Senator Lynch would ask, “ What for ? “ I would say, “ I want to do so-and-so,” and he would thereupon want to know everything about it. I am asking him, when he comes here as a custodian of the public money, to be just as careful and cautious regarding it as he would be regarding his own money. The simple question which ought to be the test is this : Is it necessary in order to secure a continuance of this business that we should appropriate this amount of public money for the company ? What is the answer of Senator Findley? He brought forward no facts or figures to show the position of the company, but he raised the cry that the company was in opposition to the Meat Ring. The statement is made that this industry cannot continue any longer unless we continue the bounty. The industry has been going for three and a half years, but we are in possession of no information which will enable us to determine whether it can continue without further spoon-feeding from the Government. It is time we recognised the position, and made up our minds whether we are going to continually bolster up this business, or whether we will let the thing drop at once. I ask Senator Lynch is he prepared for all time to subsidize industries which cannot stand on their own legs?
– No, it would not be worth while.
– That is what I am saying. I want to know what are the prospects of this business getting on its own legs. If the prospects are good, I shall vote as heartily for this proposal as I voted for the original Bill, but I want some proof that what we are doing now is not to be repeated every few years. The Minister, instead of bringing forward information which would show whether this business was a profitable one or not, and whether or not it was dependent on this bounty, immediately appeals to the prejudices of some honorable’ senators by referring to the Meat Ring. But that does not affect the simple question, Is this business capable of being conducted as a selfsustained, profitable business? The Minister gave no information on that point. If he has any information, I am entitled to assume that he is purposely suppressing it. If it would have helped his case, he would have undoubtedly given it to this House.
– Rather strong.
– It would be strong to picture the Minister in the possession of information which he withheld from this Chamber. If he has that information it is his duty to give it to us, and I assume he has not given it to us because he has not got it. The Minister appeared to dispute my statement as to the wages paid in this industry. If the honorable senator will refer to Hansard he will find first of all two statements. One is that the total amount of wages paid by Hughes Limited last year was £31,596, and by the other firm ,£3,653, which is approximate to the £35,000 which he said was paid in wages. When “ he was trying to show that I was wrong, he coupled in one item those items which I gave separately. The Minister of Trade and Customs made the statement that Hughes Limited were paying in wages in the whole of their businesses ,£3 1,596, and that is borne out by the fact that in the official report to which I have referred the weekly wages paid by Hughes Limited are stated as: - 127 washers, £306; j/27 machine hands, £254; 52 female machine hands, £46. The two last lots only are connected with the wool top industry. If the Minister takes that amount and multiplies it by fifty-two he will find that the total amount paid yearly in wages by Hughes Limited in connexion with the whole of their businesses is ,£31,000. That averages .£104 for each of the employes engaged in these businesses, and against that we are paying a bounty of £50 each to those employes. We have no right, however, .to take into consideration the whole of the employes of this company. We have only a right to consider the bounty in relation to those employed in the industry in respect of which the bounty is paid. If we do that, it means that there are only 200 hands employed at the outside in respect of whom we paid .£15,000 in one year, or £76 per head.
– That is to say, we are paying half of’ the wages paid in the whole of the businesses carried on by that company.
– Yes. But if we take only the hands employed in the wooltop industry, it will be found that we are paying 30s. a week to every employ^ engaged in that industry. It is quite evident that Hughes Limited would not carry on that business if they were dependent on the bounty for 75 per cent, of the wages paid, and it is quite evident also that some considerable portion of the bounty is represented in the dividends paid to the shareholders of the company. The Minister has made the extraordinary statement that the dividends are beside the question, but they seem to me to be the whole question.
– It has nothing to do with the wool-top business, because we know that the company is not paying dividends on the wool-too business.
– Has the Minister got any evidence that it is not?
– You have no information to disprove the statement that the company is not doing so.
– Of course I have not, but the Minister should give us proof of the affirmation which he makes.
– You stated that it was a dividend-paying concern.
– So it is. That is shown by the particulars published with regard to companies.
– This new prospectus promises high dividends.
– I find, on turning to the prospectus, that they estimate a profit of ,£50,000 on a called-up capital of £150,000. The Minister says that it is of no concern to us what dividends the company pays. But when a company is carrying on a profitable business and paying big dividends, we have no justification for paying any bounty to it out of the public Treasury.
– Is there any justification for paying a bounty to a company that is not carrying on a successful business?
– May I assume that Senator Gardiner is in agreement with me that if this company is paying decent wages and high dividends, there is no need for us to subsidize it?
– I am not seized of all the conditions. I know that the company pays exceptionally good wages, and deserves encouragement.
– Does Senator Gardiner say that if this company is paying exceptionally good dividends, it deserves encouragement in the way of a bounty? I know that the honorable senator’s heart is in my argument. He has no more heart in the proposal to swell the dividends of big companies than I have.
– It is paying exceptionally good wages, and that carries my vote. I am battling for the workers all the time.
– Senator Gardiner may seek to lull his political conscience into a period of temporary rest by an observation of that kind ; but it has to be remembered that the company is paying wages under an award fixed by a Wages Board, and if, in addition to paying good wages, it is able to pay very handsome dividends
– Do you know what the dividends are?
– I cannot say what the last dividend was, but the company never paid less than 6 per cent, before the bounty was paid to it.
– That is not much.
– That was before they received the back instalments - when they were getting to work - and, further than that, a great many shares in the company are held by the Hughes family, whose members are all engaged in the business, and whose wages, I venture to say, are much above the market rate for their services. When a company is being run by a family, they can smother and hide their dividends by paying, for instance, a manager £2,500 a year, who is entitled to £1,000’ only. It makes no difference to them, as shareholders, but it does disguise the amount they earn. I am in the unfortunate position that I can only bring forward these matters as reason for doubt and inquiry. The Government should present us with a business-like statement, showing whether the amount disbursed by the company is reasonable, or is so high as to represent a payment from the Treasury that is little short of a public crime. i take strong exception to the remark of the Minister that the opposition to this wool-top business is due to a grudge against Messrs. Hughes Limited. Certainly, he qualified that statement by saying he did not mean to apply it to honorable senators. Personally, I do not know anything about the members of the Hughes family, nor do I know, except in the most casual way, any one connected with the wool-scouring or associated industries. Apart from this, I would like to know how grudges could influence honorable senators, and how they could affect the responsibility of the Government to lay before us a business statement. No one is more anxious than T am to encourage legitimate industry ; but I want to see the public money spent in a manner calculated to bring about the best results. In view of the attitude assumed by honorable senators opposite towards other large public companies, one is rather curious to know why this company has been marked out for special favour.
– It is the industry, and not the company.
– What is the industry? Can the honorable senator say whether or not this company could carry on without the bounty?
– Apparently, they could not.
– What is the reason for the honorable senator’s statement?
– They made no headway until they received the assistance of the bounty.
– But they told us that they wanted the bounty for only five years. Now they say that, unless further assistance is granted, the industry must go down. When the proposed further period is at an end, are we to expect that they will ask for a further extension? We are entitled to be informed whether or not the industry has made such progress that it will shortly be able to stand by itself?
– Is it a fact that, in 1 9 10, the profits amounted to only 3 J per cent, on the capital?
– My information is that the company have not paid less than 6 per cent., and that that low rate was paid before they received the benefit of the bounty and expanded their business. However, our concern is not so much with what the company have done as with what they are doing to-day ; and it appears that, while handsome dividends are being paid by the parent company, they have engaged to guarantee 10 per cent, dividends for a subsidiary company.
– They are making that profit out of another branch of the industry.
– We have a practical admission from the Minister that the company are paying handsome dividends, and we are, in effect, being asked to pay bounties for the purpose of swelling the dividends of this already well-to-do company.
– The bounty will enable the company to pay higher prices for sheep, and this will benefit the sheepowners.
– All the sheep purchased by the subsidiary company are exported, and it is most interesting to have the admission of the Vice-President of the Executive Council that the bounty is being paid to encourage the exportation of sheep, while, on the other hand, we know that strong demands have been made on the State Government in New South Wales to stop the exportation of sheep in order to bring down the price of meat. It would appear that the protests that have been made by the Labour party against the operations of the Meat Ring in keeping up the price of meat have been misdirected. There is no need for a Meat Ring to keep up prices whilst the Federal Government are encouraging the exportation of meat, and thereby bringing about high prices.
– I am in favour of encouraging Australian industries by means of bounties, and I would remind honorable senators that there is hardly an industry in the Commonwealth which has not, at some period, been assisted by the State: I consider that this policy, instead of being restricted, should be extended ; and my principal objection is that the Government have not seen’ fit to go far enough in the direction of granting bounties. So far as the wool-top industry is concerned, although Senator Millen has been at great pains to obtain certain information, it would appear. that he cannot supply the real facts. I have had an opportunity of reading extracts from a prospectus issued by Messrs. Hughes Limited. The company has been floated with a nominal capital of ,£200,000, of which £150,000 is to be called up. At the time the prospectus was issued £110,000 worth of shares had been allotted. It was stated in the prospectus that an annual profit of £50,000 was anticipated when the works got into full swing. There is no 6 per cent. about that. The amount represents 331/3 per cent. on the total capital of£150,000.
-The company was not formed solely for the manufacture of wool tops and wool exportation.
– The extracts I read dealt almost entirely with the wooltop business. I confess I know very little about this company. It has been stated that they employ 700 hands, and pay good wages. Furthermore, it is claimed that they treat a large quantity of greasy wool which would otherwise be sent out of the country in its natural state. It would, therefore, appear that the industry is a good one, and the only question is whether we are paying too much for it. I sympathize with Senator Millen’s demand for further information. If the company are paying high dividends, they should not require a subsidy. It is only fair that when the State is subsidizing an industry it should know, not only the conditions of labour, but how much capital is invested in the industry.
– The company earned 4 per cent. less in 191 1 than in1910, when it made10 per cent.
– When one takes into consideration the risks of the trade, the depreciation of machinery, and all that sort of thing, 6 per cent. is a very moderate dividend ; indeed, it is not enough. But, in any case, I sympathize with the Leader of the Opposition in his demand for more information; but I do not denounce a bounty of this kind. By all means let us have the bounty, and more and more bounties, so long as we are careful to ascertain that we are not subsidizing people who do not need assistance. In Australia there are many industries which do require help, but which are not being helped at present. The cotton industry is one which I think ought to be encouraged. It would be one of our greatest industries if it were properly taken in hand.
– The manufacture or the growing of cotton?
– First, the growing of cotton, and afterwards the manufacture of it. This departure in regard to wool tops is one in the direction of home manufacture. Instead of sending our wool abroad in the grease, we are sending a proportion of it abroad as wool tops. That is one step. The next operation, I hope, will be that we shall subsidize the export of wool in wool tops. I find that wool is bought at from 9d. to10d. a pound, and that in the process of being turned into tops it loses half its weight. It practically costs1s. 8d. a pound, which, of course, includes the cost of the labour, and as tops it is sold at from 2s. to 2s. 2d. per lb., so that the profit does not seem to be a very extravagant one. If the people who are running the company are to be believed, it is not in a very strong position; but in any case we ought to have definite and clear information on the point. There are always wheels within wheels, and it is very difficult to discover how things are going. I find that Hughes Limited are in the habit of buying live sheep. The primary desire of the company in getting the sheep, I believe, is for the skins and the wool. It sells the mutton at a lower rate, I am told, in the market than does the Meat Ring which exists in Sydney. I have been wondering whether that fact is not responsible for a great deal of the criticism which has been directed against the company here to-day. It is well known that in Sydney there is a company which exists for no other purpose than to increase the price of meat to the public. It is a company owned by the pastoralists of Australia, and it keeps up the price of meat most effectively. I have been wondering whether Hughes Limited have run foul of this Meat Ring, because, if so, that is one explanation for the hostility.
– There is no doubt on that point, because the Meat Ring deputationized the Minister of Trade and Customs, and wanted the bounty abolished.
– Here we have confirmation of my impression. Honorable senators who care to look up the “ Wildcat “ column of the Sydney Bulletin will find the actions of this company most vigorously dissected. My objection to this measure is that it does not go far enough. We have several industries - the production of coffee and cotton, more especially the latter - which ought to receive at the earliest moment, the attention of the Federal Government. We are now the greatest wool-producing country in the world, and no doubt, within a comparatively short period, if we are at all careful to utilize natural opportunities, we shall also be the controllers of the cotton market of the world. I trust that this Government, or some other Government, will, in the very near future, take this matter vigorously in hand. I think that a very large part of Northern
Australia could be devoted to the production of the commodities I have just mentioned.
. -I think it will suit the Committee best that clause 2, which increases the appropriation, should be postponed until after the consideration of the clauses which alter the amounts in the schedules. It will be found, on reference to the Journals for 1907, that clause 2 of the Bounties Bill, which was the same as clause 2 of this Bill, was postponed until after the schedules had been dealt with. It will, no doubt, be remembered by some honorable senators, that the amounts in those schedules were altered, and that the appropriation in clause 2 had then to be altered to agree with the totals in the schedules. I ask you, sir, to look into this matter during the dinnerhour, and to consider whether it is not advisable to follow the precedent which was established in1907.
. -So far as I can gather, there is in Sydney a company which is particularly interested in the manufacture of wool tops. It appears that it has issued a prospectus inviting further capital, and, no doubt, in that invitation to the public, it pointed to our Bounties Act. The prospectus shows that, on some portions of its industry, the company was making10 per cent. before it came here, and, to judge by an interjection which was made afterwards, the company which earned10 per cent. some time ago has announced that it has made only 6 per cent. Senator Stewart has had the audacity to stand up here and say that 6 per cent. profit offered on a prospectus is a remarkably poor thing.I wonder if he has any elementary knowledge of finance or mathematics. Why, 6 per cent. returned as a dividend will, if put out at compound interest, mean the duplication of the capital in about ten years. There is not an investment, apart from a speculation, which can show that result.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to8 p.m.
-It appears that the bulk of the money which under this Bill will be paid in the shape of bounties is to be paid to Hughes Limited, of Sydney. It has been stated that this company has made a10 per cent. profit on its general business, and has issued a prospectus in which it guarantees intending shareholders a dividend of 6 per cent. per annum. A sum of money put out at com pound interest at 6 per cent. will double itself in thirteen years. Could any one ask for a better investment than that? For a company that is in a position to guarantee a dividend of 6 per cent. to ask for State assistance in this way is a piece of hard, cold-steel cheek. There is only one thing worse, and that is the “ Simple Simon “ Government, that asks the taxpayers of Australia to come to the assistance of such a company. Senator Millen is to be congratulated upon his courage in attacking this measure, because it proposes assistance to a company established in Sydney, whose operations are probably confined to New South Wales. It may be assumed that the money, if granted, would benefit electors of the State, and, therefore, opposition to the proposal might very well excite local criticism. I warn the Government against this kind of thing. Where is it going to end?
Senatorde Largie. -No one has ever been able to make anything out of wool tops in the past.
– If that be so, of what use is it to continue the payment of this bounty? If this company can guarantee a dividend of 6 per cent., it does not need the bounty. We can get no definite information as to the capital invested in the company, or its profits. It occurs to me that, about six years ago, when this matter of bounties first came up, I ventured the prediction that the whole thing would be more or less of a fiasco.
-Every Free Trader is against the protection of industries.
-I do not care two straws about that. I do not happen to be a Free Trader.
Senatorde Largie. - It is the common declaration of Free Traders that they prefer bounties to protective duties.
-If a good return can be shown from the payment of bounties, I know of no reason why they should not be assented to. When we are being asked to extend the system, we should be informed as to the whole position. It is evident that the bulk of the money which will be paid under this Bill is to go to a particular company that is on the market, and is relying upon this assistance from the Government. The persons controlling that company should be able to say whether they are likely to extend their operations, and in what way they propose to benefit the taxpayers of the Commonwealth, who must foot the bill. Whilst official reports and returns of various kinds supply information as to wages, hours, and conditions of labour in various industries assisted by bounties, I can find none that gives a single definite piece of information as to the condition of an assisted industry, or as to whether its prospects are hopeful or distressing.
– It is not unreasonable that we should ask for the same information as that upon which Mr. Tudor insists on getting from manufacturers who ask for increased Tariff duties.
– I thank my honorable friend for that reminder. Before the Minister of Trade and Customs would entertain a proposal even to rectify Tariff anomalies, he sent out a list of inquisitorial questions, and demanded that manufacturers should answer them. I should like to know whether the Minister of Trade and Customs has received any information from Hughes Limited as to the capital invested in the business and the profits earned on that capital. I am not against State aid to industries by bounties or protective duties, although I am called a Free Trader. I have never been a Free Trader, but I do not believe in high duties and miscellaneous bounties. If a reasonable case can be made out for temporary assistance to an Australian industry, I am ready to consider it. Honorable senators from Queensland might very well ask why it is not proposed to subsidize the cotton industry. Queensland produces cotton equal to any produced elsewhere, but I find no proposal made to assist the cotton industry in this way.
– Because the representatives of the State have not looked after its interests.
– That is a serious reflection upon members of the Labour party who have represented, or misrepresented, Queensland since the beginning of Federation. Senator Chataway has pointed out that this clause affects the schedule to the Bill, and should be postponed until after we have considered the schedule. If we compare the other articles mentioned in the schedule, we are justified in calling upon the Minister for a reason why wool tops should be the curled darling of the Government on this occasion. We are justified in asking why the industry wants assistance; who are the poor struggling philanthropists who need it ; and what profits are being made ? I am against the whole thing till I get fuller information.
– It is laudable for a new country like Australia to offer bounties to encourage the establishment of new industries, on the distinct understanding that, after a certain time, those industries are likely to be selfsupporting. But I am certainly not in favour of continuing bounties indefinitely. Unless it can be shown that a bountysupported industry is likely to become selfsupporting, it would be better for the Commonwealth to take it over and work it. Here we have a company, one branch of which is manufacturing wool tops, for which the Commonwealth pays a bounty. The bounty does not expire until 1913. We are asked to extend the term for two years. If the company wishes the bounty to be extended, it ought to furnish the Minister with absolutely full information in order that he may supply it to Parliament. I do not want to know what the company are making out of other branches of their business, but, as one of the custodians of the public purse, I do want to know what they are doing in the matter of wool tops. I think that the Minister should postpone this proposal until we get the information required.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [8.18].- This afternoon, Senator Findley gave us certain information with regard to the question under discussion. But that information by no means constituted a full reply to the altergations which have been made. It appears to me that we are not even yet in a proper position to vote for the bounty on wool tops. There will be ample time to deal with this question next session, and during the interval there will be an opportunity for the Government to make inquiries on the points that have been raised. If, either through the carelessness of the people who are asking for the bounty, or the indifference of the Ministry as to the particulars that ought to be laid before Parliament, we are placed in a false position, the Government ought to take steps to get us out of it. If they do not furnish us with this information, they are neglecting their Ministerial duty and their duty to their constituents. The prospectus of the company which has been quoted, painted its prospects in the most roseate colours. The report submitted to Parliament when the bounty was originally proposed, also represented the prospects in glowing terms. It was said that inquiries had been made, and that there was no question that the industry would be sell-supporting in five years. Yet we find, from figures given by Senator Millen, that it is costing the Commonwealth nearly 30s. a week for every person employed in the industry.
– Does the honorable senator think that that is a fair way of putting the matter?
– I do, in view of the figures given by Senator Millen, who explained to us how he made his calculation. The Minister himself admits that the bounty amounts to £[48 a year for every employe, which is nearly £1 per week. A good deal of the work is done, by female ‘abour. So that, if honorable senators agree to this bounty, it will mean that they are prepared to pay to the people engaged in the industry £1 per week each.
– It is better to pay £1 a week to the people who are doing something useful than that they should be kept idle.
– I could find plenty of people in this country who would be willing to find work for unemployed persons if Parliament would give them £1 a week for every person employed. The Opposition simply want the Government to make full inquiries.
– Has the honorable senator any idea as to what the machinery of the company costs?
.- The Minister told us that it had cost £14,000. The company has a nominal capital of £250,000. Its prospectus showed how flourishing the industry would be. It was, in fact, to be a tip-top industry. The profit of the company was estimated to be £50,000 per annum, of which ,£46,000 was to be derived from wool tops. The company estimated that it would be able to produce 2,400,000 pounds of tops per annum. The statements made in the prospectus are worthy of the fullest investigation. When the company was formed, 150,000 shares were issued, of which 110,000 were applied for. Who retained the 110,000 shares? Were they sold and paid for in cash, or did they represent the business of the vendors at the time, plus the good-will? This matter could very well stand over until the Min ister is in a position to give Parliament the information that is required. We are told that orders have to be given twelve months ahead, but Parliament will meet nearly eighteen months before the bonus already provided has expired. I hope it will be borne in mind that while we are giving a bonus on wool tops that are exported, we are not giving a bonus to our own people, who not only manufacture tops, but also convert them into woollen materials. We are offering a bonus in order that men outside the Commonwealth may have the advantage of the public money raised from the taxpayers of this country, and be in a position to produce an article at a much cheaper rate than that at which they could produce it if they had to pay full value for those wool tops when they come into their hands. Honorable senators opposite do not realize that this sort of thing ought to begin at home - that if you have money to give away you ought to give it to those who are in this country, and who are bringing our products to the highest state of perfection. One honorable senator suggested that we should give a bonus on the export of woollen cloth. I should be very loath to give my vote in favour of that, because those companies in this country that are producing woollen cloth have lots of work, and, although they may not be paying extravagantly high dividends, they are, at any rate, paying fair average dividends. It is for the people of the country to assist our manufactures as far as they can by using the goods produced in the country, instead of using those produced elsewhere, if they can get our home goods at a reasonable price. It was pointed out by one honorable senator that a large sum of money would be required to finance these proposals, but I am told that under the schedule of the present Bounties Act there was voted £339,000, and that under this Bill another ,£20,000 is provided for; making, in all, £359,000. Of that .£339,000, all that has been expended is £166,000. There is, therefore, £173,000 in hand, to which has to be added the £20,000 provided for under this Bill ; making, in all, ,£193,000 to meet extended bonuses aggregating ,£235,000. It is believed that this will suffice, and at the rate at which the £339,000 is being expended, the estimate is probably a safe one. I was asked by an honorable senator who had intended speaking to make that statement. It may be gratifying to a certain extent to know that there is ,£173,000 in hand, but it shows that these bounties have not had the effect of establishing industries to the extent anticipated. The Government ought to very carefully consider this question of bounties, and when they ask honorable members to assent to the expenditure of money for the purpose of encouraging the production of any particular article, they should be in a position to satisfy us that the industry only requires a little assistance in its early stages, in order to get upon its feet, and to eventually become a permanent and profitable industry. If the Government can show that to be the case in connexion with these particular bounties, I am quite willing to support the granting of them, but I protest against public money being used for the purpose of bolstering up an industry that can only stand while it is drawing money out of the pockets of the people. If the Government can show that, after being assisted for five, ten, or fifteen years, an industry can stand upon its feet, and be carried on without eternally leaning on the Government, I do not object to giving it assistance, but, otherwise, I do object to assisting it.
– All this talk about not wishing to bolster up some enterprises amounts to this : that there are other enterprises that are trying to fight these industries. If you are doing anything to kill these industries, you are helping to bolster up others that are fighting them. I think it is a good thing to establish the wool-top industry in this country. I merely rose to point out that the wages of the workers in the f fellmongery trade, apart altogether from those who are employed in the wool-top industry, are a good deal better since this bounty was granted. The fellmongery employes in the Botany district were getting a much lower rate of pay before the wool-top industry was subsidized than they are now. Those employed in the wool-top industry succeeded in getting an agreement with the two firms, Hughes Limited, and Whiddon Brothers, that have been receiving this bounty, which formed the basis of a Wages Board award ; and those working in kindred industries had their wages fixed on the basis of that agreement. During the last two or three days, we have heard honorable senators opposite booming up Wages Boards as if those Boards had been created by Divine authority and were composed of angels; and they need not sneer at the work of their own pet tribunals. The Wages
Board took as the basis of their award the rates of wages paid by those two firms ; and, therefore, as a result of the bounty, the men engaged in other classes of work have received considerable benefit.
– Is not that very hard on the men who are getting no bounty ?
– No; because, if they like to spend money in establishing works for carrying on the wool-top industry, they can get a share of the bounty. When we see millions of pounds’ worth of the raw material being exported for the purpose of being converted into the finished product, it is a very good thing to, at any rate, take one step towards having woollen manufactories established in this country by ‘encouraging the wool-top industry.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Nearly all the, wool tops required in our manufactories here our people manufacture themselves, but they do not get a bounty.
– Those people who make wool tops for their own use get a very much larger bounty in the shape of heavy duties on woollen goods, and, therefore, they have no cause for complaint. I have every reason to believe that this wool-top industry will be established on a permanent footing, and it is wise to extend the bounty so as to give it a fair chance. If it be found that this industry is of mushroom growth, I would favour the stopping of the bounty at once; but I do not think that the results so far achieved justify us in saying that the industry will only be one of mushroom growth. Those who are in competition with the companies affected by the proposed bounties, in connexion with the purchase of skins, are trying to have this bonus done away with, and if they succeed they may attempt to bring about a general reduction of wages in the whole allied industries. It is undesirable that we should disturb existing conditions at present, and an extension of the bounty system for two years cannot be regarded as unreasonable.
– In view of the possibility of the Senate regarding it as desirable to amend the schedule, and to send requests on that subject to the other Chamber, I think it would be as well to postpone this clause until we have dealt with the schedule._
– I have no objection.
Clause 3 (Conditions of employment and rates of wages).
. -In the Sugar Bounties Act we included a provision similar to this, and there is a section of a like character in the Manufactures Encouragement Act. But these provisions vary, and I would like to know whether the Government have made up their minds as to the exact form in which provision should be made as to conditions of employment and rates of wages where the payment of bounties is involved.
– The industrial conditions with regard to the payment of these bounties will be exactly similar to those to which we have agreed in connexion with the Sugar Bounty Act. Where there are combinations of employers and employes, and agreements have been entered into between them, or where there are State awards, or where union rates are paid, there will be no question raised with regard to the payment of the bounty. But where there are no State awards and no established conditions in regard to employment, the Minister will have independent power to set the machinery of the Court in motion in order to obtain a definition of reasonable conditions and rates of pay. I can assure honorable senators that this provision is exactly similar to the condition in the Sugar Bounty Act.
-I accept the Minister’s assurance.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [8.50].- I notice that the procedure to be adopted under this Bill is exactly the same as that provided for in other cases, but, so far as I have been able to ascertain, no provision is made that the award of a State Wages Board or industrial authority shall be regarded as sufficient. The power given to the Minister to apply to the Court may be exercised irrespective of anything that may have been done previously. So that, if a State Wages Board fixes a certain wage, and the Minister does not consider it adequate, it will be open to him to make application to the Presidentof the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration or to any Judge of a State Industrial Court for a declaration as to the wages to be paid. If the wages fixed by the State award are 50s., and the Minister considers that an additional 10s. should be added, he may say that he will not pay the bounty unless the wages are increased accordingly. There is no guarantee that the Minister will be content under all circumstances to accept the award of a State industrial authority, and I think the position should be safeguarded against the caprice of a Minister. I do not suggest that the present Minister would not carry out the declared intention of the Government, but we have had Ministers upon whose good judgment we could not rely.
– In making provision of this character we are adopting a somewhat novel expedient in legislation. Under the new section11, which is embodied in this clause, itis proposed to make provision that the “ Minister may make application to the President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration or to the Judge of a Federal or State Court.” It will be seen at once that this is optional on the part of the Minister. Paragraph 2 provides -
On the hearing and determination of the application, the President, Judge, person or persons shall have all the powers which under the Excise Procedure Act1907 belong to the President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration . . . and so on. There is nothing in the clause which makes it obligatory upon the Court to give any determination whatever, or to make any response to the application of. the Minister. Every Justice of the High Court, when application is made to him within the scope of his judical responsibility, has placed upon him a constitutional obligation to respond. But we are now establishing a new expedient. We are endowing the Minister with power, which he must exercise in his own discretion, to apply to the High Court, or to a corresponding Court, but we are not providing that the application must be responded to. There will be nothing to prevent a. Justice of the High Court or any State industrial tribunal from refusing to answer an application. I think this deficiency should be supplied.
Clause agreed to.
. -I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - 3A. “ A return setting forth -
the names of all persons to whom bounties were paid during the preceding financial year ;
the amounts of all such bounties;
the goods in respect of which the boun ties were paid ;
the names of the places and States in which the goods were manufactured ;
the number of persons employed in each of the works, wages paid, and hours observed in the production of the goods, shall be prepared in the month of July in each year, and shall be laid before both Houses of the Parliament within thirty days after its preparation if the Parliament is then sitting, and if not, then within thirty days after the next meeting thereof.”
This provision is practically a copy of a provision which appears in the Shale Oil Bounty Act, and the Manufactures Encouragement Act, and which was omitted, by mistake, I think, from the Bounties Act of 1907. It simply provides for the presentation to Parliament of an annual return, so that we may be able to see what bounties and wages have been paid, in exactly the same way as we are able to do with respect to the shale oil and wire netting bounties. I need hardly say that, had we been in possession of such a return for last year the discussion on this measure would have been very much simplified, and probably the consumption of a great deal of time would have been avoided.
– On a point of order, sir, I desire to know whether the amendment can be accepted, because it seems to me that it is not relevant to any of the amendments of the Act which are proposed in the Bill. I have no objection to a return being furnished every year, and I may say that the Minister of Trade and Customs has already given an instruction for the preparation of the information which Senator Chataway desires, and which will be made available very shortly by the Department to every honorable senator.
– It seems to me that the amendment of Senator Chataway is relevant to clause 2 of the Bill which increases the amount of the bounties from £39,000 to£59,000, and also to another clause which extends the time. As a matter of fact, the amendment appears to me to be almost relevant to the Bill as a whole. I rule that it is in order.
-I desireto point out to the Minister that it is not information regarding past administration of the bounties that I am asking for at this late hour of the session, and just when this Bill is nearly through. What I desire to secure by the amendment is the supply of information regarding future administration, so that, as soon as possible after Parliament reassembles, we may know what has been done in connexion with the bounties, and judge whether they are increasing or not. At the present time we have practically no information on the subject.
.- I think that the return which Senator Chataway seeks to provide for would give great satisfaction to honorable senators on this side. I should like to know if the Minister intends to accept the amendment.
-I have no objection to the amendment. I merely raised a point to ascertain whether it is in order or not.
– In that case, I shall resume my seat, as time is valuable’. I am perfectly prepared to accept the Minister’s assurance.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clauses 4 and 5, postponed clause 2, preamble, and title, agreed to.”
Bill reported with an amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Findley) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
– I rise to again ask the Honorary Minister if he can give us information as to by what authority, constitutional, statutory, legal, or otherwise, can insure a response to an application which may be made to a Judge under clause 3 of this measure ? An application may be made to a Judge of the High Court, or to a Judge of the State Supreme Court, or to a member of a State industrial tribunal. I know that Ministers are rushed at this period of the session, but, perhaps, the Minister has had an opportunity in the meantime of consulting some of his officers, and can now give the Senate and the country an assurance that the Bill means more than mere paper.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales)[9.9] -I also desire to prefer a request. With regard to the doubt which has been thrown on the actual position of one of the industries to which we are giving bounties, and also the further information which has been sought by honorable senators, will the Minister take steps, with a view to obtain that information for the first session of the new Parliament, if it cannot be supplied during the present session, so that we may know exactly what our position is in regard to that particular industry?
– I desire to give Senator Gould, and other honorable members of the
Senate, an assurance that the fullest inquiry will be made in regard to the wooltop industry, especially in relation to the information which honorable senators think ought to have been available to-day. Neither the members of the Labour party, nor, I am sure, other members of the Senate, desire to bolster up any industry which does not deserve encouragement. We recognise that we have responsibilities in regard to the taxpayers’ money, and whilst we are anxious to give every possible encouragement to any Australian industry, at the same time, we wish to know that the bounty is given to an industry which is worthy of consideration and support. In regard to the point raised by Senator Keating, it is probably true that we have no power to compel the Judges of whatI may call the minor Courts, to hear these applications and to make awards. These provisions were inserted in the Bill for the sake of convenience. We have constitutional power to apply to certain Courts to hear applications, and to have awards made.
– What I wish to point out is that these are not judicial determinations, but consultations, and that there is no constitutional or statutory obligation on the Judges of even the High Court to respond.
– That may be so from the constitutional point of view.
– Suppose that the Chief Justice declines to answer?
– That may be, but when applications are made to Judges of our own Court, we feel that they will not be refused, but will be dealt with in a proper way. In regard to the minor Courts, we have not the constitutional power to compel those Courts to deal with these applications.
– We have the power practically to say here that when an application is made, a response shall be made also.
– In certain directions. For the sake of convenience, we included the Judges of other Courts, and we believe that that will be, in some instances, a convenience to the parties concerned.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is a Bill to amend the Manufactures Encouragement Act of 1908, which, under class 2 of the schedule, provided for a sum of£30,000 to be given for the following bounties-
Galvanized sheet or plate iron or steel (whether corrugated or not) made from Australian ore, 10 per cent. on value.
Wire netting, not being prison-made, and being made from Australian ore or from wire manufactured in the United Kingdom,10 per cent. on value.
Wire made from Australian ore,10 per cent. on value.
Iron and steel tubes or pipes (except riveted or cast), not more than six inches internal diameter, made from Australian pig iron or steel, 10 per cent. on value.
These bounties expired in June of this year ; £30,000 was made available for. the payment of these bounties, and up to30th June, 1912, a sum of£17,502 was expended, leaving a balance of£12,500. This Bill proposes to extend the payment of the bounties for another two years. Prior to these bounties being provided for, there were none of these industries in existence. To-day there is a substantial industry of the kind established in Sydney. I refer to Lysaghts Limited. This firm employed318 hands last year, who are in receipt of wages in accordance with trade union awards. In all probability with a further extension of the bounty the industry will be enlarged, and the number of employes will be considerably increased. In connexion with galvanized sheet mills, nineteen persons are employed in the manufacture of galvanized sheet iron. The output in 1912 of galvanized sheet iron was valued at £744, and of wire netting at£56,684. The imports of the iron industries were valued at over£3,000,000, and of wire netting, which is admitted free of duty, at £330,340. The demand for wire netting is increasing year by year, as wire-netting fences are being erected in different parts of the Commonwealth by those who are troubled with rabbits. This industry having been established by the bounty system, should, in the opinion of the Government, receive every possible encouragement. We hope that in the course of a few years we shall have under this legislation a good
Australian industry established, and employing a large number of Australian workmen. We believe that this measure will also be of advantage to those who require to use wire netting, as they will be able to’ secure it at a more reasonable price than they could hope to do were it not for the establishment of the industry in the Commonwealth.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [9.19].- I understand from the Honorary Minister that it is not proposed to appropriate a further sum of money for the assistance of these industries by way of bounty, but that an unexpended balance of the amount previously set aside for the purpose will be available. I should like to know from the Minister whether it is estimated that the balance of ,£12,500 will be sufficient to meet claims for bounties under this Bill during its operation.
– It is not anticipated that the amount mentioned will be exceeded.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
In introducing this measure, I desire to specially single out for a meed of praise our worthy friend from Western Australia, Senator Lynch. The honorable senator, on two occasions, when submitting motions in the Senate, clearly demonstrated the wisdom of offering rewards for the discovery of rock phosphates, and the benefit which such discoveries in large quantities would be to the farming community and those engaged in fruit-growing in different parts of Australia. Senator Lynch is a practical farmer, who is to-day engaged on the land. He has a thorough knowledge of the possibilities of land cultivation, and no member of the Senate knows better the immense advantage it would be to those engaged in the cultivation of the soil in Australia to be able to secure superphosphates at a reasonable price. It is mainly owing to the honorable senator’s persistent efforts that the Government have the pleasure to-night of introducing a Bill proposing the payment of bounties for- rock phosphate, and also for wood pulp. The price of superphosphates to-day in the Commonwealth is fairly high, running from ‘^4 5s. to £5 per ton. We know that where superphosphates are used, the increased yield in many districts is as much as 5 01 6 bushels per acre.
– It is more than that.
– If so, that makes the case only the stronger for the granting of a bounty for rock phosphates. Most of the rock phosphates mixed by the Mount Lyell Company with the rock phosphates, quarried at Kapunda comes from Ocean Island. The rock phosphate that comes from Kapunda is said to be of an inferior quality, and eight tons of the imported article are mixed with one ton of the Kapunda rock phosphate.
– The Kapunda phosphatic deposit is the best find in South Australia.
– It is the best that has been discovered so far. Since the establishment of Federation, as honorable senators are aware, the State Governments have not had the power to grant bounties for productions of this kind.
– They could offer rewards, which comes to the same thing.
– They may not have succeeded by the offering of rewards in discovering rock phosphates in considerable quantities. Under this Bill it is proposed that £75,000 shall be set aside for the payment of bounties on rock phosphate and wood pulp. We hope that a considerable portion of the amount to be allocated for rock phosphate under this Bill will be claimed. The importations of rock phosphate last year were valued at £228,292. The Bill provides for an appropriation for a period of five years, of a total amount, as I have said, of £75,000. The bounty on rock phosphate will be payable on the manufacture or production in Australia of rock phosphates, the rate of bounty being 10 per cent, on the market value. I do not know that there has been any discovery of rock phosphate in any of the States, with the exception of South Australia. In addition to the payment of bounty at the rate of 10 per cent, on the market value, provision is made for a reward of ,£1,000 for the discovery of any deposit or vein of rock phosphate suitable for the making of phosphatic manures, but the deposit or vein must be worked, and 10,000 tons of rock phosphates produced and used in the manufacture of a marketable manure.
– What percentage of phosphates must the deposit hold?
– There will be a regulation providing that the bounty shall only be paid on deposits of rock phosphate containing an average of not less than 25 per cent, of phosphoric acid. With regard to wood pulp, it is proposed to give a bounty for the encouragement of this industry. The wood pulp used for the manufacture of paper in Australia to-day is imported mainly from Sweden, and is worth about ,£io per ton. I understand that the local manufacturers of paper are exceedingly anxious that some encouragement should be given to this industry. There are great possibilities in respect to it. We know what the industry means to the United States of America. The figures show that there are 64,000 men and over 10,000 women employed in the wood pulp industry of the United States of America, and that the capital invested amounts to nearly £55,000,000. Between 1889 and 1905, the increase in capital invested amounted to £25,000,000, and the increase in the number of wage-earners to 16,319. The woods principally used are spruce and poplar. About 25 per cent, of the quantity of wood used in the United States of America is’ imported from Canada. I understand that this industry has been successfully established in Newfoundland. According to those who are capable of judging, we have quite a number of timbers suitable for making wood pulp in Australia.
– What are they?
– We have poplar, spruce in limited quantities, and pine. Others have been mentioned. I cannot judge as to whether they are suitable, but those who are capable of expressing an opinion have no doubt about the matter. Every one knows that there has been an immense waste in connexion with Australian timbers. Trees are cut down, the marketable portions are sold, and a great quantity of timber is burnt or allowed to rot. Thousands of pounds worth, of valuable timbers are destroyed every year. It is sad to see the destruction going on. It is hoped that the effect of encouraging the establishment of a wood pulp industry will be to minimize this waste. I have much pleasure in submitting the Bill for its second reading.
– I have no intention of opposing the passage of this Bill. It is a very good thing to encourage the production of rock phosphates, and I trust that the industry will be successful. But I have some anxiety with respect to the wood pulp industry. I fear that it will lead to the destruction of a large amount of timber, and that efforts will not be made to replace that which is destroyed. The destruction of forests has become a very serious question in Sweden and America. Iri the United States of America, large forests have been simply wiped out by the producers of wood pulp. I have no doubt that we have timber in Australia that can be used for this purpose, but provision ought to be made for replacing trees that are destroyed. I do not know that the Commonwealth can do anything in this direction, but I am satisfied that the lack of timber will be a very serious problem in years to come. In a country like Australia we ought always to be planting trees. The State Governments have done something. Some of them have Forestry Departments. But not enough is done. I fear that under the influence of this bounty persons will go out wherever there is timber suitable for the purpose and destroy it. No effort will be made to replace it.
– The States can deal with that question if they wish.
– They can, but, unfortunately, they are not doing so much as they ought to do. It can be proved that the timber of a country has a very important influence upon climate. Forests have a tendency to augment warmth in winter, and have a cooling effect in summer. 1- should have been very glad if we could have made arrangements whereby our forests should not be depleted without systematic efforts being made to replace them. If forests are to be cut down in every direction, we shall make our country arid, dry, and waterless. If that should be the case the industry which we hope to establish will prove a curse in days to come. 1 admit that the object of the Bill is good, and I am glad to support it, but I have plainly expressed the fear that is in my mind. We know that the demand for the cheaper papers, which aic made from wood pulp, is increasing every day. The bounty may help to establish a good industry in Australia, but I do hope that the various States will take the matter up seriously, and see to it that our forests are not entirely depleted.
– There is an old saying that “ all things come to him who waits”; but I began to think during the last few years that the proverb would be falsified in my own case. I am glad to learn, however, that the Government have deemed it well to introduce a Bill for the purpose of encouraging rock phosphate and wood pulp manufacture. I have been more particularly interested in the encouragement of a fertilizing industry. I have always held the view that primary production in this country needs to be fostered for all it is worth. We are able to produce far more than is required for local consumption. Therefore, we have to look for markets oversea, where we are compelled to jostle against competitors from all parts of the world, who are producing under conditions which are favorable to their out-bidding and under-selling us. Our wheat-growers, for example, have to compete with wheat grown in India, where labour is cheap, and In Southern Europe, where it is very little dearer. It is quite plain, therefore, that if we are to turn our waste lands to profitable use, we must see to it that those engaged in cultivation receive the utmost assistance that it is possible to extend to them by legislation. Any person going on to the lighter and drier soils of Australia has not the ghost of a hope of succeeding unless he is able to till the land properly with due attention to seed and fertilizing. Fertilizing in at least one of our States has almost revolutionized land values. We mav be quite satisfied that unless settlers fertilize they may as well give up cultivation altogether, or -expect little reward for their labour, especially in the drier parts of Australia, where the rainy season is short, and the light soil will not yield those abundant harvests which are only to be obtained at all bv the adequate use of suitable manures. At present the price paid for fertilizers in Australia is far too high. About two years ago I went to the trouble to find out what our competitors in the wheat-growing areas of America were paying. I found from the New South Wales Agricultural Department that the American wheat farmers, who send their produce into the markets of the world in competition with ours, are paying something like 60 per cent, less than the Australian farmer for fertilizers of corresponding quality. European farmers have further advantages in being nearer the principal markets. It is quite plain, therefore, that the Australian wheat farmer is seriously handicapped, and can only succeed by the liberal use of suitable fertilizers. I thought that the position could be made easier by offering a reward for the discovery of rock phosphate, and I am glad to find that after some years of waiting the Government have recognised the wisdom and necessity of taking action in this direction. It is not only the wheatgrower who will benefit from the production of phosphates, but also the orchardist, the dairy farmer, the market gardener, and every person engaged in cultivation. Fertilizers may be said to be essential for the successful development of the waste lands of the Commonwealth. I should like Ministers to enlighten me as to how the £75,000 is to be applied. I notice that it is payable over a five years’ period, at the rate of 15 per cent, for wood pulp, and 10 per cent, for rock phosphate. I am at a loss to understand why any distinctionis made, because 10 per cent, on the market value of phosphates is poor enough. It is true that there will be a reward of £1,000 for every fresh discovery that is made. That is indeed a good thing. But I do not see any justification for placing wood pulp in a more favorable position than rock phosphate. There is no necessity to discover the wood, because it is here. We do not know anything about rock phosphates further than that there are indications all round the Commonwealth, especially on the islands adjacent to the coast, of deposits of it being in existence. But I think a difference of 5 per cent, is rather too liberal, and that it would be well to put both industries onthe same footing. As regards the amount of £1.000 for the discovery of rock phosphate, it is by no means too much, because a person has to provide himself with a plant, which will cost a great deal of money. He may have to find a boat for the purpose of searching the islands round the coast, so that £1,000 will not go very far towards the provision of the necessary outfit.
– The South Australian Government offers £5,000.
– That makes me somewhat sorry for the extra caution observed by the Government. I am glad that this amount is provided, even if it is far below what South Australia has offered. I welcome this measure, because I believe it is an honest endeavour to help those people who are very much in need of assistance to-day - the primary producers of the country. It is a laudable effort to supply them with a cheap fertilizer.
– And also to develop our resources !
– Quite so. It will have this double advantage: it will enable deposits which may be found to be worked, and our people will not be put to the necessity of going to Ocean Island, Christmas Island, or Japan for fertilizers for their use. There may be latent deposits of rock phosphate which may be brought to light through the action of the Government, and I congratulate them, even at this eleventh hour, although they are not wholly blamable, on respecting the finding of this Senate on two occasions, when we passed resolutions in favour of taking action in this direction.’
– Its introduction is mainly due to the efforts of the honorable senator.
– I . am pleased to know that ; but, apart from personal considerations, it will have a double advantage - first, of providing labour in Australia to work our own deposits, and, secondly, of giving men on the land in the interior a chance to make better progress than they have hitherto made through having to pay such high prices for fertilizers.
– Like the Minister who introduced the Bill, I should like to place on record my recognition of the successful efforts of Senator Lynch in having brought this idea to fruition. I only hope the success which will follow the introduction of this Bill will be adequate recompense to the honorable senator for the effort that he has put forth in a cause which he has so much at heart. I should like to direct attention to what appears to be a possible imperfection in the Bill. I take it that the idea of the Bill is not merely to write a cheque to pay over to people who are already operating rock phosphate deposits, but I am afraid that, as the Bill now stands, its effect will be to pay that cheque to the South Australian company which is already working deposits in that State. If that is not the in tention of the Minister, I would suggest the necessity of inserting amendments in one or two clauses.
– There is discretionarypower left with the Governor-General.
– I do not think that that discretionary power ought to be used to deny to any one what he is legally entitled to under the Bill. In South Australia they are already producing more than half the minimum quantity of rock prosphate provided for in the Bill. In 1910 5,200 tons of locally-produced phosphatic rock was used there, and in the following year the output rose to 5,800 tons. It is quite evident that if either of those companies wanted to take advantage. of this Bill, not for the discovery of rock, but for the manufacture of manure, all they would have to do would be to stimulate their efforts somewhat and run their production up to 10,000 tons ; and in my opinion they would be entitled to claim the bounty. Senator Lynch does not want that. He desires to stimulate the discovery of fresh deposits, and I believe that that is the intention of the Minister. Bearing in mind that during the last two years the South Australian output has been over 5,000 tons, and that three years ago t 1,000 tons were produced in one year, which is 1,000 tons more than is provided for in this Bill, I think it will be seen that it is desirable to insert such an amendment as would make it quite clear that it is not intended to pay a bonus on any rock phosphate deposit that is being worked to-day. Under clause 8 it is quite clear that what is contemplated is the discovery of a new deposit, and when we turn to clause 5, we find that the bounty is to be paid in respect of rock phosphate where at least 10,000 tons have been produced from the one deposit. But it does not state that the discovery has i~ be made after the passing of this measure. I think we ought, in paragraph a of clause 5, to insert after the word “ deposit “ the words “ worked after the passing of this Act.” That would make it quite clear that we are not simply passing this measure in order to write a cheque for the benefit of the Wallaroo company which is already carrying on operations. It is proposed by the Bill that in order to earn the bounty the rock phosphate must be manufactured into marketable manure in Australia, but it is not stated whether the rock is to be of such a quality as to be capable of being made into manure by itself, or whether it may be used as an admixture with imported stuff. I should like to ask what is intended.
– A regulation will provide that it must contain an average of not less than 25 per cent, of phosphoric acid.
– That indicates that the local rock may be mixed with imported rock. The point I raise is as to whether this bounty will be paid upon locallyproduced rock used in conjunction with imported rock, or whether it is intended that the manure shall be made solely out of local rock. That is a point I should like the Minister to make clear. We were very careful to set out those points in dealing with iron products. It was provided that the iron should be made out of Australian pig-iron, and where other iron was allowed the proportion was set out. In this case we ought to know whether it is proposed to pay the bounty upon manure made from the mixture of local and imported rock, or only on the rock which is used by itself for the purpose of making manure. It might occur that persons would produce a manure from an admixture of local and imported rock just so long as the bounty lasted, and as soon as the bounty ceased they -would also cease the working of the local deposit. That is not what we want, and I would suggest that an amendment be inserted making it quite clear either that this local rock is to be capable of being used by itself ; or, failing that, giving some indication as to the proportion of imported rock which can be used with it. The same point as to whether an admixture of imported rock is to be allowed occurs in clause 8. Sub-clause 3 of that clause provides that -
The deposit or vein must be worked, and ten thousand tons of rock phosphate produced therefrom and used in the manufacture of marketable phosphatic manure.
That looks as if it was intended to permit and encourage the use of imported manure, because it refers to the rock being used “ in the manufacture of manure,” not to the manure being manufactured from it. If it is intended to allow the imported article to be used, the Bill is perfectly clear; but if it is only intended to pay a bounty on manure made wholly out of Australian rock, the Bill does not give effect to that intention. On the contrary, it leaves it open to people to use imported rock in the manufacture of manure. I hope that we will strive to see that we build up this industry by encouraging the use of Australian rock.
– Are you afraid that there is a danger of a large quantity of low-grade Australian rock being used in the manufacture of fertilizers?
– A limited deposit of 10,000 tons, carrying 25 per cent, of phosphoric acid, might be found, which would be used in conjunction with imported rock as long as the bounty lasted, and would then cease. Senator Lynch does not want that to happen, but to see a permanent industry developed. I think that the surest way to achieve success is to devote any money we have to spare for this purpose towards the creation of an industry where manure will be made solely from Australian rock. All that this Bill does is to offer a stimulus for the discovery and use of some rock which by itself would not be marketable, but which could be used in conjunction with imported rock. We have low-grade rock phosphate which is used in conjunction with the imported stuff. We are using now from 5,000 to 11,000 tons a year. Last year, the use of local rock amounted to 5,800 tons. The question is whether it is intended, under this Bill, to pay a bounty for the production of, comparatively speaking, low-grade rock, which can only be used with imported rock, or to offer a reward for the discovery of rock which is sufficiently rich in itself to be manufactured by itself, without relying upon the strengthening qualities of richer rock brought from abroad. I would much prefer to see, at any rate for a few years, the bounty offered purely in respect of the local article. If, in the course of two years, there was no response, it might then be necessary to consider the advisability of such an amendment as. would permit of the use of imported rock in conjunction with Australian rock.
Senator SHANNON (South Australia) fio.3]. - I am quite in sympathy with the Bill. There is a great deal in Senator Millen’s point in reference to its utility. As the present time, local phosphatic rock is used in the manufacture of manure in the proportion of one to eight parts of imported rock. I understand that it is not the desire of Senator Lynch to give a large bounty for the production of .that kind of manure. What he wants to secure is the discovery of a field which will pay by itself. I wish to draw attention to subclause 3 of clause 8 -
The deposit or vein must be worked, and 10,000 tons of rock phosphate produced therefrom and used in the manufacture of marketable phosphatic manure.
I think that the wording of the provision could be improved by leaving out the words “ in the manufacture of marketable phosphatic manure,” and inserting the words “ manufactured into marketable phosphatic manure.” That alteration would probably cover that point, and the rock when found here would be manufactured into marketable phosphatic manure. If we leave the provision as it is, and there is a doubt that the local rock may be mixed with oversea rock, we do run a risk of a small pocket of rock carrying 25 per cent, of phosphoric acid being found somewhere - which is higher than what has been found hitherto - and mixed with a sufficient quantity of oversea stuff to make enough manure to absorb the whole of the bounty. We want to prevent that from occurring.
– It cannot be a small deposit, seeing that it must be at least 10,000 tons.
– That may be the end of the deposit. Nearly twenty years ago, South Australia offered a bounty for the discovery of a payable field of phosphatic rock. There was quite a hueandcry all over the State to find a payable field, but the first field which obtained a portion of the bounty has not been worked at all. The ore was found to be altogether of too low grade and mixed with too much mineral, until they discovered the find near Kapunda, known as St. John’s, from which they are manufacturing phosphatic manure mixed with Ocean Island stuff. If a deposit of rock phosphate carrying 25 per cent, of phosphoric acid could be found in such a position that the rock could be worked more cheaply than the imported stuff from Ocean Island, carrying 30 per cent., I presume that it would be manufactured into manure. Should that be the result, it will be worth our while to offer, not this sum, but a larger amount, because the use of phosphatic manure by wheatgrowers has been much more extensive than the Minister has mentioned. I have known instances where freehold land was offered, before the use of fertilizers, for as low as 15s. per acre, which, in the course of a very few years, after the use of fertilizers,, sold for as much as £6 10s. per acre. TheMinister would be quite safe in saying that on some selections, where the rainfall is fair, but not heavy, with the present system of farming and the use of drills and! fertilizers, this manure has made the difference between bushels and bags in the returns. Of course, I realize that in some of our areas, where the land is very good, and the rainfall is certain, it. has not made a vast difference. But where the farmer Has to go out into areas with doubtful rainfall to start, farming, the use of phosphatic manure is absolutely paramount. It was first thought that in such country the use of phosphatic manure would be more deterrent to theagriculturist than otherwise; but after experiment that has been found to be quite the reverse. Some places along the Murray can produce in a dry season with a rainfall of 16 inches, 8 bushels of wheat to the acre. .1 feel confident that this bounty of £1,000 will induce people to go out in search of a field of rock phosphate.. The difference between the wood pulp and’ rock phosphate bounties is that, while the timber can be seen, the rock may be walked’ over any day, either on hilly country or on the flats. The rock has been found in all” kinds of places throughout the world. Onemay walk over this very valuable stuff any day he goes out. I trust that the offer of this bounty will result in a payable field being found somewhere in Australia. I do not know much about, wood pulp, but I do know that Australia is being very rapidly denuded of timber. If it is possible to prevent the destruction of timber, we ought to take some action. I do not know that the Federal Parliament has. power to do very much in that direction, but the State Governments ought to be induced to encourage the planting of timber,, in order to keep up the supply. There are many places in Australia where the men on the land were one day practically worth a fortune, and have had to work very hard for a living ever since, because they burnt off the timber. I should be only too pleased to assist the Government to do anything to stop this waste.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [10.11].- One difficulty I foresee in connexion with the question of re- afforestation is that the.
Federal Government are not in possession of the land in the States in which it would have to take place. Certainly in the Northern Territory the Commonwealth has an enormous area.
– There is a good bit of timber on the Jervis Bay peninsula.
– I trust that wherever the Federal Government have control of land, they will take such steps as will assure the reafforestation of any land which has been denuded of timber. The importance of this work ought to be urged very strongly upon the attention of the State Governments. It is not in one State alone that men have destroyed a fortune in twentyfour hours through burning a lot of valuable marketable timber, and had to work hard afterwards. I think that the whole of the States will furnish similar instances to that which Senator Shannon cited. We cannot fail to recognise that if a large quantity of wood pulp can be produced, it will be a very great help to the people in Australia, and, possibly, we may, in time, be able to export wood pulp and paper.
– The honorable senator is optimistic if he expects that we shall be able to export.
– In a matter of this kind it is better to be optimistic than pessimistic. I cannot quite see the force of the contention that persons who are engaged in producing phosphatic manure should not be permitted to participate in the proposed bounty. If these persons are operating under the conditions which may be prescribed, I think that they are fairly entitled to the same reward as will be offered to those who may go into the industry after this Bill has been passed.
-The honorable senator is mixing up two things. These are rewards for new discoveries, not rewards for deposits which are being worked today.
-If any persons are observing the same conditions, and producing the same quality of manure as will be prescribed under this Bill, I do not see why they should be deprived of a portion of the bounty. It is hardly fair to a man whose enterprise has enabled him. to manufacture manure without Government assistance, that a bounty should be given to a man who will engage in theindustry hereafter to enable him to compete against the existing manufacturer. If the object of the measure is to be given full effect, the bounty should only be paid in respect of manures manufactured from phosphates produced in the country. I think that some amendments to the. Bill are necessary to make that point clear. I hope the Honorary Minister will see his way to make such amendments, in order that we may have an assurance that the bounty will not be paid in respect of manures produced by the admixture of large quantities of imported phosphate with phosphate of poorer quality discovered in the Commonwealth.
. -The Leader of the Opposition is anxious, in common, I believe, with every other member of the Senate, that no loophole shall be left in this Bill to enable persons, who are not entitled to; do so, to participate in the bounty. I said, in moving the second reading of the measure, that the bounty would not be payable to thosewho are already working phosphatic deposits. I should have qualified that statement. In South Australia, there is a quarry at Kapunda where a low-grade phosphatic rock is being worked. I understand that it contains only5 per cent. of phosphoric acid. The imported Ocean Island rock, as Senator Shannon has said, contains from15 per cent. to 50 per cent. and an average of about 30 per cent. of phosphoric acid. I have already said that in order to manufacture a marketable manure from the Kapunda deposit it is necessary to mix with each ton of the Kapunda rock 8 tons of the Ocean Island rock.It is not at all likely that those interested in the Kapunda quarries will participate in the bounty at the present time, because under the Bill the phosphatic rock upon which bounty will be payable must contain at least 25 per cent. of phosphoric acid. But if they should be lucky enough to strike something better than they are at present working, they will not be debarred from participating in the bounty. SenatorMillen is alio apprehensive that it may be possible for people interested in phosphatic deposits to secure a portion of the bounty by mixing local phosphatic rock with imported rock. The honorable senator, however, will recognise that there is a sufficient safeguard against that provided for in paragraphb of clause 5, which reads -
Bounty in respect of rock phosphate shall only be payable in cases where -
The rock phosphate has been produced subject to the prescribed conditions.
It will be laid down clearly and emphatically that no bounty will be payable in respect of any rock phosphate unless it can be manufactured in Australia from Australian rock, and be made a marketable commodity without the admixture of any imported phosphate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses1 to 7 agreed to.
– I should like again to direct the attention of the Minister to sub-clause 3 of clause 8, and the use of the words “produced therefrom and used in the manufacture of marketable phosphatic manure.” I submit that it would be much better to adopt in this sub-clause the phraseology of paragraph d of clause 5, “manufactured into marketable phosphatic manure.” This would make it more clear that imported phosphatic rock cannot be mixed with Australian phosphatic rock in order to secure the bounty.
– The bounty is to be payable in respect of rock phosphate produced subject to the prescribed conditions.
– Why not adopt in this sub-clause the phraseology of paragraph d of clause 5 ?
– The regulations will be sufficient.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 9 to11 schedule, preamble, and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment, and passed through its remaining stages.
Report (No.5)presented by Senator Barker, and read by the Clerk.
Senate adjourned at 10.31 p..
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 December 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1912/19121219_senate_4_69/>.