7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Minister for Defence any information on the question asked by Senator Grant as to why an article published in the Brisbane Worker was censored and prevented from appearing iri the Sydney Worker?
– Senator Grant asked this question, and I promised to get the desired information. The reply reads as follows: -
With reference to the representations made by Senator Grant in the Senate on 17th August regarding the censorship of an article on the Dardanelles, I have ascertained, on inquiry, that the article in question was not submitted to the Censor by the Brisbane Worker, and that it would have been prevented publication had this been done. The publication of this article in the Sydney Worker and another Sydney paper was prohibited, so that the Brisbane Worker appears to have been the only paper in Australia in which this matter was published, and in this case only because it was not submitted to the Censor.
After conferring with the Chairman of the Royal Commission on Naval Defence Administration, the Minister for Defence has decided to suspend further action in connexion with the organization of the proposed Ordnance Corps, until the Commission has examined the proposal and its relation to certain proposals which the Commission has in view. Has anything further been done in regard to the organization of the Ordnance Corps, or -the removal of anomalies in the pay and status of employees of the Ordnance Branch of the Defence Department?
– No; the whole matter is awaiting the consideration of the Commission, and nothing will be done Until it has reported.
– Has the Minister in charge of foodstuffs received a reply to my questions regarding the prices of raw and refined sugar?
– The answers are -
– Has the Government been informed or advised that at the north-western ports of Tasmania £50,000 worth of exportable perishable produce is awaiting shipment .to Sydney, and that a steamer is urgently required to avoid disastrous losses to the farmers? In view of the apparently successful arrangements made by the Prime Minister for the establishment of a service temporarily between Sydney and Hobart, will the Government take into consideration the desirableness or the possibility of diverting that boat on her trip to take up at the north-western ports of Tasmania i,that perishable produce which ordinarily finds its market in Sydney?
– The whole of these facts have been brought wader my notice before by the honorable senator. Every endeavour has been’ made to keep in touch with Tasmania. There is now under consideration the advisableness of finding a boat to relieve the distress on the Tasmanian coast. We have every hope that we will be successful in preventing the losses which otherwise must be incurred there.
– I have noticed the statement, but I am not prepared to make any announcement at the present! juncture.
– Has the Minister representing the Postmaster-General received the letter I sent to him, asking whether he will place on the table of the Library that portion of the file dealing with, the case of R. Kevan, of the General Post Office, at Perth?
– I regret the delay in answering this question, and I believe that it was purely my own fault. I have received from the Post and Telegraph Department the following communication : -
I beg to inform you that it will be necessary to obtain the papers from Western Australia, and the Deputy Postmaster.General, Perth, has been instructed by telegram to forward them here by first mail, and on receipt thereof the request of Senator Needham will be given consideration.
– I ask the Minister for Defence whether it is a fact that the men who left in the First Tunnelling Company were paid 6s. per day, and those who left afterwards 8s. per day? Is it also a fact that some of the men who are being paid 6s. a day are now “in charge of men who are being paid 8s. per day at the Front.
– The honorable senator mentioned this matter to me yesterday, and I have had inquiries made. The position, as far as we understand it, is as follows : -
The establishment of the Mining Corps includes provision for certain blacksmiths and other mechanics, who are borne as sappers, and for whom the authorized rate of pay, after embarkation, is 6s. per diem. This also applies to tunnelling companies, in which the original mining battalions have since been merged.
If “ blacksmiths,” who are sappers, have been paid at a rate in excess of 6s. per diem, they will have been paid at a higher rate than that authorized. It will, however, be necessary to communicate with districts to ascertain the rates which are being paid.
Eva, who left as a sapper, and apparently is still holding that rank, is being correctly paid at 6s.
Embargo on American Soap. 1
– I have received from Senator Gardiner an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate in order to discuss a matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The Government prohibition of the importation of soap from the United States of America to Australia.”
– I move-
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until 3 o’clock on Saturday.
Four honorable senators having risen in their places,
– It is with no sense of pleasure that I have taken this step. I recognise, that an honorable senator who attempts to address himself to any international complications arising at a time like this stands upon very slippery ground. For months past I have been trying to induce the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Jensen) and the Government to do the right thing to one of our Allies in a matter of trade, but, all efforts having failed, I now direct public attention to a real grievance which American business men have against the Government and the people of Australia. “When the United States of America was not an Ally the British Government waspressed, and, finding it difficult to obtain explosives, requested the Australian Government to prohibit the importation of soap from other countries, in order that Great Britain might obtain the whole of the glycerine, which is a by-product of soap. The Government of which I was a member very readily acceded to the request, and immediately the Minister for Trade and Customs, not under the “War Precautions Act, but under the powers he possesses, ^prohibited the importation of soap from countries ..other than Great Britain. Shortly afterwards Great Britain requested the Australian Government to permit France, Italy, and other Alliesto send their soap to Australia. The Commonwealth Government again very readily acquiesced in the request, and the prohibition was altered so that the whole of the Allies were permitted to send their soap to Australia. That arrangement continued, and under these conditions there could not be any very serious complaint as to the Australian Government, acting: in the interests of the Allies and the Empire, securing to the Allies the whole of the glycerine to be used for i the manufacture of explosives. About five months ago America Became an Ally, and from that time to the present the Australian Government have refused to put that country on the same business plane as our other Allies. I ask honorable senators: .Can that kind of thing be allowed to continue ? Here is & most powerful Ally, which came in at a critical period, and if nothing else were done by America than to .give the financial assistance which it has rendered, I venture to say that we cannot calculate the immeasurable benefit which her entrance into the war on our side has been.
I am not bringing up this grievance to gain a personal advantage from the Government, but to direct public attention to what is really a very grave menace to the business relations between America and Australia. I do not think that our friendly relations with America are likely to be severed by reason of our harassing American business concerns and business people here. But we have to recollect that there are in our midst many American businesses, which have’ been conducting very successful trading operations between the people of the United States and. those of Australia. The particular trade to which I desire to refer is that of American fancy soaps - Colgate’s, for example. Realizing that their trade in these articles is being displaced owing to the invidious distinction that is being made between the treatment accorded to such Allies as France, Japan, and Italy and the treatment that is accorded to America, these business men have approached their Consul in Sydney and have urged that they should be placed in a position of equality with those nations. Why the Government persist in the attitude which they have taken up’ I hope that the Minister will, be able to explain.
Of course, some honorable senators may inquire, “ Cannot Australia manufacture sufficient soap for her own requirements, and thus prohibit its importation altogether?” That would be a perfectly logical position to take up if we did not desire to draw any of our supplies from outside sources. But there is no logic in permitting France, Japan, and Italy to send supplies of soap here whilst prohibiting the importation of American soaps, especially when America is our most powerful Ally. I press upon the attention of honorable senators the absolute, justice of the American claim, that that country should be treated equally generously with our other Allies.
The Honorary Minister (Senator Russell) has kindly placed at my disposal the papers in connexion with this case, and I have gone carefully through them. But they do not disclose any valid reason why the embargo upon American fancy soaps should not be removed.
– How is their prohibition effected?
– By means of a regulation issued by the Minister for Trade and Customs. It appears that American soap supplies have been excluded because England is anxious to secure glycerine for her own benefit and that of her Allies. Up to the present time America has been our Ally for more than five months. Yet nothing has been done in the way of remedying this gross injustice. Even in little things I submit that we ought not to give offence to a friendly Ally, whose services will prove of the greatest value to us. I have not acted hurriedly in this matter. Week after week I have been urging that the right thing should be done. Had my request been acceded to, I. -would not have given the publicity to this question which I am giving to it now.
American business men, because they cannot) get this simple act of justice done, have been obliged to cease carrying on successful business operations.
– How much - soap came from America before the war?
– Not a very great deal. It is chiefly fancy soaps which are imported, and there is a very high Customs duty upon them, a duty of at least 25 per cent.
– Fancy soaps are a luxury.
– There are some persons I know who would keep luxuries of this kind from the people. My own view is that the more’ we bring luxuries within reach of the whole community the better it will be for all concerned.
– We can make as good soap as can America.
– I am not arguing that matter. The question which I am discussing is the invidious distinction that has been made between one great Ally and other great Allies. There would be no offence to America if the rest of our’
Allies had been placed upon the same footing as she has been. I have been speaking, telegraphing, and writing to the Minister for Trade and Customs on this matter for months past, but all my efforts have been fruitless, and, as a last resort, I have been obliged to call public attention to it by means of this motion.
– Icongratulate Senator Gardiner upon the spirit in which he has discussed this question, and I hope that we shall not reduce it to the level of ‘a question as between rival soap manufacturers. Senator Gardiner has stated certain facts connected with the matter, but he has not quite completed the story. The position is that in June, 1916, we received a request from the British Government that the importation of soaps from America should be prohibited. This is really not a soap question at all. The truth is that in the manufacture of soap glycerine is produced. Glycerine is essential to the production of munitions, with the result that, so far as it is possible to obtain a monopoly of the glycerine production of the Empire, it is desired to secure that monopoly. To obtain this glycerine it is necessary to make as much soap as possible. In the manufacture of cordite, Great Britain, . Italy, and Japan use glycerine compounds. But the United States use nitro-cellulose compounds, into the manufacture of which glycerine does not enter. Glycerine is ‘therefore an essential commodity in the case of the Empire, Italy, and Japan. Although France does not herself use glycerine in the manufacture of munitions, she gives to the British Government all the supplies that are obtained within her own borders. Consequently our action does not in any way conflict with the war needs of America. If the United States Government thought that we were doing something opposed to the best interests of that nation, I venture to say that it would communicate with us within a period of twenty-four hours. But no such communication has been received. While the embargo upon fancy soaps may disastrously affect certain business men in this country, it does not injuriously affect America. America, though not a full Ally-
– She is a full Ally.
– She is a full Ally to the extent that our war aims are identical, but in some respects America does not take precisely the view that is entertained by the other Allies.
– Does the Honorary Minister say that no communications have been received from Mr. Brittain,the United States Consul in Sydney?
– Representationsfrom the United States Government would, of course, come through the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and there have been no such representations.
The Commonwealth Government have only one desire, namely, to work hand in glove with the Government of the United States of America. We all appreciate the action of that country in entering the present war, and we all anticipate that, as a result of her action, we shall be assisted to a speedy victory. But at this distance from the theatre of conflict we cannot possibly hope to conduct war operations successfully. The most we can do, therefore, is to cooperate with the British Government and, as far as possible, accede to all their requests on matters affecting the conduct of this great struggle. Surely the question of the supply of the raw materials necessary for the manufacture of munitions in that country is not merely one of the most important, but the most important question connected with the war. I repeat that we are not able to accurately judge of the situation here, but; at the request of the Imperial Government!, we have taken certain action that has been deemed necessary to enable us to prosecute the war to a successful issue.
After the entry of the United States of America into the struggle the following cable was ‘despatched to the Secretarv of State for the Colonies -
Re your cable of 1st June, 1916-
That was the cable requesting us to place the embargo upon soap - upon which this Government has been acting, with the result that importations of soap from the United States have now for some time been prohibited, pressure is being brought to bear on the Government for the removal of this restriction, in view of America’s entry into the war. Shall be glad of early advice.
In reply to that cable we received the following, dated 12th May, 1917 -
With reference your telegram 25th April, soap from the United States of America. Similar question raised as regards importation to United Kingdom, and decided that prohibition should be maintained, as entry of America into the war does not involve change in circumstances governing glycerine supply for national purposes, and importation of American soap would involve reduction of glycerine production. Hope that your Miniser will adopt similar policy.
Any additional quantity of soap manufactured in Australia as the result cif the prohibition cif American soap will increase the supply of glycerine available for the manufacture of munitions.
– Is not American glycerine at the disposal of Great Britain as well as that produced in France?
– No. The American Government have declined to fix the price of glycerine within reasonable limits. The price of glycerine in the United States of America is £260 per ton, whilst the Imperial Government are able to secure glycerine from the other Allied countries at a fixed price of £87 per ton. In view of the enormous quantity of glycerine used, honorable senators will realize the importance of that difference in . price.
I do not wish to discuss the merits of the question, but as we are not engaged in the manufacture of munitions, or in the direction of. the war, the least we can do is to loyally accept the decisions of the Imperial Government and act in ‘ accordance with their advice, unless we are clearly convinced that to follow that advice would be to injure our own country, and would be detrimental to the success of the Allies in the war. We are not convinced of that, and I- therefore ask honorable senators before they vote upon the motion to recognise that to lift the embargo upon the importation of American soap would be to interfere with the conduct of the war by the Imperial authorities. I am satisfied that the Australian people in their loyalty to the Empire will not ignore the advice of the British Government, and will not do anything which might interfere with the production of munitions of war by Great Britain.
– Senator Russell has given the Senate some information which we were not in possession of before he spoke. But I noticed that the cablegram from the Imperial Government which he quoted was dated 12th May of this year, which was practically four months ago. In the circumstances, it might be wise for the Commonwealth , Government to make further representations to the Imperial authorities in connexion with this matter. The 12th May, 1917, was just shortly after the entry of America into the present world struggle. Many things may have occurred since that time, and the Imperial Government may ‘ have changed their mind on this question. If further representations were made to them it is possible that a different reply would now be received. I realize that the question under discussion is not the country from which the best soap is imported. It is true that America refrained from joining in the struggle for a considerable period after the commencement of the war, but as soon- as she did determine to take a hand in the matter in true American fashion she did so whole-heartedly. The Minister mentioned that whilst the price of glycerine in America was £260 per ton, the Imperial Government can secure it from the other Allies at £87 per ton, but since the receipt of the cablegram from the Imperial Government there may have been an alteration in the price quoted in America. It is not reasonable to think that our great and powerful Ally would do anything to prevent the manufacture of munitions necessary for the conduct of the war. It cannot be suggested that, by making further, representations on this question to the Imperial Government, we would in any way be interfer-. ing with their conduct of the war, Australia is one of the Allies, we are taking our part in the war, and we are agreed that the Imperial Government should be our guide in the conduct of the war. But there isa long time between the 12th May and 20th September, and I suggest that it would now be wise to make further representations in connexion with this matter.
– Does the honorable senator not think that the British Government would have made representations if they desired that the embargo upon American soap should be lifted.
– They might do so, but perhaps they have so many things to think of that this matter may have escaped their attention. Senator Russell has said that if it was considered in America that the embargo placed any indignity upon that country, the Government of ‘ the United States of America would have made representations in connexion with the matter. I think that in a friendly spirit we ought, in such a case, to take the initiative ourselves. I cannot understand why this powerful Ally should, in connexion with a trivial business matter, be treated in such a way. Having listened to Senator Gardiner and to Senator Russell in reply, I have only to say that if nothing further follows from the action taken by Senator Gardiner, the debate may impress upon the Government the necessity of making further representations to the Imperial Government to discover whether they are to-day of the same opinion as they were oh the 12th May, when the cablegram which Senator Russell has quoted was despatched.
– One phase of this matter has not so far been touched upon. Senator Russell gave what was apparently a sound reason for the refusal to lift the embargo upon the importation of American soap, when he mentioned the difference in the price of glycerine supplied from America as compared with that supplied from the other Allied countries. I point out that Senator Gardiner specifically referred to fancy soaps, and in normal times, or at the present, we do not import any large quantity of these soaps exclusively from America. Prior to the war, there were considerable importations of these soaps from Germany, and since the war they have been imported from other countries.
– They are largely manufactured here.
– I hope to see the day when all that we use will be manufactured here. If I had my way I would prohibit all importations of these goods. The point I desire to make is that the volume of our importations of American fancy soap must be relatively very small.
– So that the embargo should not affect our business relations very much.
– The question of the equitable treatment of America as one of the Allies is involved. I am concerned at present 1,0 point out that the admission of these fancy soaps from America, in view of the relatively small quantity that would be imported, could scarcely affect the supply of glycerine to the extent suggested by Senator Russell. The quantity of glycerine produced in Australia, as the result of the prohibition of the importation of these American fancy soaps would be insignificant. Though, perhaps, quite unintentionally, it seems to me that Senator Russell exaggerated the effect which the lifting of the; embargo would have upon the prosecution of the war. Some honorable senators, may ask if that be so, why should the Imperial authorities suggest the prohibition, of the importation of American fancy soaps, and in answer to that I submit that this would perhaps be one of a thousand other similar questions dealt with, and: these soaps were not singled out for special treatment because it was believed, that .their importation would have any material effect upon the supply of glycerine.
– If we had a High Commissioner at Washington, he would settle this’ question in an hour.
– Although the British Government badly wants copra from the South Sea Islands, it is now all going to America, because we have not the freight to take it to the Old Country.
– I quite believe that, but the statement is not pertinent to the question raised by Senator Gardiner. I suggest that the extra quantity of glycerine that would be produced here because of the prohibition of the importation of American soap would be insignificant.
– If the British Government could get the copra, they would
Dot want this glycerine.
– The point I arn raising is that the proportion of glycerine, that would be manufactured here as the result of the prohibition of American soap would not be worth speaking about. I therefore venture to assert that Senator Russell presented an exaggerated view of the situation.
– Tlie British Government want every ounce of glycerine they can get.
– The people outside, without some better explanation than has been given, will find it difficult to understand why this invidious distinction has been drawn between our Allies. What appeals to me most strongly, as I have frequently said in dealing with the question, are the conditions under which soap and other articles imported into Australia are manufactured in the countries from which they are imported. I* is because of those conditions that I am anxious to prevent their importation by a Tariff barrier.
– It is probable that the general public will read an abbreviated account of the discussion on this matter in the newspapers, and as they will not be given the details, they will no doubt come to the conclusion that some unfair discrimination is being made between the Allies, in view of the f,act that the importation of fancy soaps into Australia is permitted from France, Italy, and Japan, but is prohibited so far as America is concerned. Necessarily the people will not get all the information which Senator Russell g£.ve the Senate this afternoon, and which he thinks was sufficient to justify the Government in placing an embargo on the importation of- soap from America. I am sure it is not the wish of the Australian people that any unfair discrimination should be made. America is a valuable ally in this gre,at conflict, and I am quite sure that her friendly feeling towards Australia has increased very rapidly- since she entered into this war on our side. As Senator Gardiner has pointed out, this embargo might constitute merely a pin-prick, but the mere fact that the question has been raised is aoa indication that some American people; at all events, think unfair treatment is being meted out to them. The Honorary Minister (Senator Russell) would do well to give honorable senators an assurance that further representations will be made to the Imperial authorities in order to ascertain if there is still an objection to the importation of fancy soaps from America, as was the case p. few months ago when the embargo was placed upon this article of manufacture.
– I am glad the debate has not spread over .the whole of the afternoon, for I have served my purpose. Senator Russell drew attention to the fact that glycerine, which -enters into the manufacture of munitions, is at a very high price in America; but I ask any man of common sense, who knows how America is governed, if the policy of price-fixing in regard to this article was likely to be adopted. “There are representatives of American business firms established in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, and Brisbane, and if I wished to buy an American product, why should I be offered as a substitute a product from, say, a country like Japan?
– Why not manufacture this soap in Australia?
– That is another proposition altogether. I am trying to bring before the Government the wisdom of holding even the balance between America and our other Allies. Senator Russell has told us there has been no communication- from the American Government on this subject; bub I remind him that the Consul for the United States in Sydney has all along been keenly interested in this matter. I make that statement publicly, and I invite Senator Russell to deny it.
– I did not say there had been no communication. I s,aid there was no record on the file.
– I can understand there might be no record of correspondence from the American Government, but I know from personal interviews with the Consul in Sydney - interviews which were not sought by me - that this subject has been receiving close attention.
– I do not question that for moment.
– But the Minister seemed to suggest that the American Government was not bothering about this matter, and I tell him that the American representative is seriously concerned over it, and has had many communications with his own Government on this subject. It is a small matter, no doubt, but it seriously affects a certain class of business as carried on between Australia and America. *
– May I point out that the United States Consul has no power to represent America on international matters of -this sort. He is a representative of private interests.
– Yes ; he is the representative, working in the interests of American trade, and this embargo, which constitutes a grave interference with American business in Australia, should) be brought before the Imperial Government. This embargo affects business concerns established in Australia, and if representations to the British Government are not effective, they will be compelled to close their doors.
– Are they American importers ?
– Yes. Does the honorable senator suggest that importers are dangerous?
– I thought myself that ‘the American Government were sttrong enough to look after their interests.
– And I am looking after Australian interests in this matter, because I value America’s friendship.
– You are asking our Government to flout a request made by the British Government.
– I am . doing nothing of the kind, but I want this Government to bring the request before the Imperial Government.
– In the interests of American importers here?
– Exactly ; and if the honorable senator would prefer a Japanese importer, he is welcome to his opinion. I again remind the Senate that the American business man dealing in this article is likely to be driven out of business by this absurd regulation, because it does become absurd, if not dangerous, when, under it, one Ally is treated differently from others!
– All our Allies are using glycerine for munition making.
– Yes; and if Senator Russell asserts that America was not using glycerine in the manufacture of explosives, he does not know much about that subject. I am satisfied that America is adopting all the latest scientific means for the production of explosives. The very fact that the communication came from the British Government on 12th May is a proof that the Government are not bothering very much. The humblest American citizen transacting business in this country has a right to expect that his grievances shall receive respectful consideration by this Government. I have no other interest in this matter than that Australia shall stand well with America, and that the action of our Government will not leave an impression in the minds of American business men that they are being treated unfairly.
Question resolved in the, negative.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives, with a message intimating that the House had agreed to certain of the amendments made by the Senate, and to others with consequential amendments.
That the message be taken into consideration at a later hour of the day.
Bill received from the House of Repre sentatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a’ second time.
On 24th December, 1912, an Act was passed which provided for the payment of £75,000 for
A bounty was also offered for the production of wood pulp for paper-making, but that is not being renewed. Nothing has yet been collected, and no claims have been made under the Bill of 1912, but the Bill renews the offer of the bounty on rock phosphate for another five years, in the hope that a discovery of considerable importance to Australia may be made. It was pointed out by Mr. Tudor, the Minister who introduced the Bill of 1912, that the South Australian phosphates are of low value compared with the Ocean Island phosphates, and that it is necessary to mix a proportion of the imported rock with the locally-produced rock. There have been suggestions of possibilities of discovering phosphatic rock in many States, but so far nothing of a really practical’ character has been accomplished. At Mansfield, in Victoria, a company has been endeavouring during the last four years to develop phosphate deposits. They have not succeeded in securing a really marketable article, but I believe that the development works are disclosing much larger beds of rock than were originally believed to exist, and there is a reasonable hope of ultimate success in that district.
The importance of this matter to Australia is shown by the following figures of importations of rock phosphates for the purpose of manufacturing superphosphates : -
The principal sources of supply are Christmas Island, Ocean Island, Caroline Islands, Tahiti, South Sea Islands, Makatea Island, Pleasant Island, and Society Island. From those places rock phosphate, to a total value of £440,300, came to Australia in 1915-16. These figures show that the industry is very important, and the Government consider that the offer of a reward of £1,000 for the discovery of a vein or deposit should be very stimulating to prospectors.
The total possible expenditure under the extension proposed by the Bill will be £50,000 during a period of five years, commencing on the 1st January, 1918. I must say that that is not. only possible, but probable, and we all hope that the whole of the money will be collected. The . sum is payable as follows : -
Bounty at the rate of 10 per cent, on the market value of rock phosphate produced under the conditions of the Bill, and at the maximum amount of £5,000, to be paid in any one year, and
The matter is of considerable importance ‘to the farmers of Australia, as it is estimated that the discovery and opening tip of fresh deposits of rock phosphates in payable quantities will have the effect of considerably reducing the price of superphosphates, which is now £5 per ton. To show the importance of the industry to this country, we have had to take some of our own Commonwealth steamers, belonging to what is known as Mr. Hughes’
Fleet, off the work of carrying wheat to the Allies, who are wanting foodstuffs, in order to bring this manure here to enable us to grow our own products. Honorable senators can realize what an early development of phosphatic deposits in payable quantities would mean to a country like Australia.
– Does the Bill apply to Papua?
– -No’ only to Australia.
– “Why have you dropped the bounty for wood pulp?
– Most of the investigations have shown that if there are Australian woods that will stand the chemical treatment necessary to convert them into paper, they are so limited in extent that it is hopeless, without planting forests, to attempt to produce wood pulp in this country.
– The best paper I ever saw was made out of blue-gum.
– In commercial quantities ?
– I do not know that, but it was suitable for the very best conveyancing purposes.
– If we had to grow forests or erect mills to produce conveyancing paper, I am afraid it would not be a commercial success. The principal wood used for making pulp for paper is spruce, which is grow.n successfully on uplands at least 5,000 feet above sea-level, where they are practically covered for half the year in snow. Newfoundland and Vancouver produce spruce, but we have no such forests here, and our timber has been generally given up as a hopeless proposition, so far as papermaking is concerned. . The bounty for wood pulp was offered for five years and not claimed, but if there is hope of any reasonable development, I am sure the Government will be only too ready to respond.
– I have no further objection to this Bill than the objection I had to the Bounty Bill introduced last night - that we should make provision for the Government to secure an interest in any business to which bounty is paid. However, as the amount paid to this industry by way of bounty for five years has been nil, I shall not test the feeling of the
Senate on the question whether my quite up-to-date proposition should be included in the Bill. I join with Senator Russell in the hope that we will pay all the bounty offered for rock phosphates, because the advantages accruing to Australia, especially to the farming interests, from the discovery and development of deposits would be so immense that we should all welcome it. Although I shall not move inCommittee the amendment I moved last night, I still think it a provision that should be in all Bounty Bills.
– I do not think we are pursuing altogether the right course in regard to wood pulp. About nine years ago a very competent English chemist came to Tasmania. I understand that he was so competent that for some time he had been in the service of Krupp, in Germany. Senator Guy will remember that I was fairly insistent in bringing- before the Tasmanian Parliament the abilities of this gentleman in regard to the making of wood pulp for the manufacture of paper.
– He showed some samples.
– I have samples in my possession now of the pulp manufactured by him. Subsequently the Tasmanian Government brought an expert from Canada, but his experiments were by no means exhaustive. The English chemist told me that they were by no means as exhaustive as he would have desired. The samples of pulp made by the English chemist were made out of ti-tree scrub, blackwood sawdust, and the woods of various Australian timbers. I think that Senator Guy will have seen a sample of the pulp and paper.
– Yes, I saw it.
– Paper was made out of Tasmanian blue-gum and sent from the Old Country by Sir John McColl, Agent-General for Tasmania. This English chemist - I do not know that I would be quite justified in using his name - is by no means a theorist. He is a man with a full And technical knowledgeof all branches of several manufacturing industries. Andas regards the application of chemistry in a practical way, he is engaged in investigating a process for the electrolytic deposition of zinc. I have obtained from him, as lately as some time during the last few weeks, certain samples which he told me were the result of a. complete and satisfactory installation of the process. At the same time he handed to me, made out of sawdust, something which had the appearance of linoleum. It was noninflammable, notwithstanding the fact that it had been made out of sawdust. It was actually plastic before it was properly set. This gentleman told me that he anticipated that it could be pumped over the floors of buildings, and would make a covering superior to anything in the way of linoleum. This development of his in regard to the utilization of sawdust is quite recent. If I had had any knowledge when I was leaving Tasmania that the subject was to come up for discussion I would have brought with me samples of material made out of sawdust which this gentleman gave me as recently as three weeks ago.
The Minister is right, I suppose, when he says that although the opportunity has been given for some time for the earning of a bounty by the manufacture of wood pulp, no bounty has been claimed, and no manufacture of wood pulp has been established. Now, these things are not done in a day. I venture to say that many of the scrubs which now encumber Australia, and make the work of opening up the country so difficult to the farmer, will yet havea positive industrial value. A time will come when, instead of it costing £8, or £10, or £12 an acre to clear land, companies will be willing to pay the owner a price per acre for the privilege of utilizing the scrubs which now are a deterrent to settlement.
Most honorable senators have had in their possession a pamphlet circulated by Mr. Hagelthorn, a member of the Victorian Government, who sent a copy to me. I noticed that it had a covering letter in which he said that he was so struck with the substance of the pamphlet that he deemed it desirable to send a copy practically to every public man in the Commonwealth. It set forth an address given by a gentleman who is known as the adviser to the American Institute of Bankers. The substance of the address largely consisted in a statement that this adviser declared that we would have to reviseall our ideas in connexion with the war. He said that before the war it was erroneously anticipated that there would be such a rapid exhaustion of the resources of all countries that no great war in the future would be likely to last for more than a few months. But he pointed out that, given the ability, given the energy, and given the existence of certain resources in any country, nothing could bring it to its knees but the complete exhaustion of its man power, and thosepeople who went about preaching that the world would be very much poorer as a result of the war, failed to take- into consideration the great discoveries made along the line of chemical investigation. I was very much struck by one phrase in which the adviser to the Institute of Bankers said that our present knowledge of chemistry as applied to industry, comparable with what we might attain in the immediate future, was as a cup of water compared with ‘the area of Lake Michigan. He had no doubt - this hardheaded man and adviser to the Institute of Bankers - that the application of chemistry to industry would repair the ravages of the war, and add greatly to the wealth of the world in a fashion which we at present did not dream of.
I expect that use will be made of many at present useless shrubs, useless scrubs, and useless woods in Australia for the manufacture of wood pulp. In this industry, a good deal depends on the fibre. It appears that certain Australian woods do not give the pulp a sufficiently lengthy fibre, but that may be got over. Asbestos at one time had very little use unless it was of comparatively lengthy fibre; but very short-fibred asbestos has of late years attained very considerable commercial value, and has been utilized in ways which were not thought of fifteen or twenty years ago. Knowing that paper can be made out of our scrubes, knowing that the science of making pulp out of woods is a progressive one, I venture to say that the taking away of the ‘bounty, although not with any sinister intent, is a retrograde step.
– Do you know that nearly all the Australian woods have been tested, and that the main reason for their rejection is the difficulty of extracting resin and other substances?
– These are “difficulties which may be overcome on any day of the week. I assure the Honorary Minister that this English chemist to whom I referred is now experimenting along the lines of doing away with any difficulties which axe present in regard to the manufacture of pulp out of Australian woods.
– The short fibre is the only difficulty in Tasmania.
– I think that the honorable senator was Premier of Tasmania when the American expert was employed in making certain experiments in connexion with the manufacture of wood, pulp.
– The honorablesenator knows the English chemist to whom1 I refer, and I can assure him that quite recently out of sawdust has been manufactured in Tasmania a material which will? have a hundred different uses, and which) is as far removed from sawdust in appearance as chalk is from cheese. The transmutations which chemistry can effect in seemingly the most valueless material are manifold.
We must not forget that part and parcel of this Government’s policy,’ as announced, is to encourage the development of all industries in connexion with which the resources of Australia furnish a groundwork. With the continent in our possession, we want to throw ourselves into the advocacy of the practical realization of this sound policy in every way. I think it is a somewhat retrograde step to rule out wood pulp from the possibility of participating in the benefit of what is undoubtedly a bounty measure. Yesterday we were discussing a measure which I welcomed, and I assisted the Minister to the best of my ability to secure its passage unamended. To-day we are engaged in attempting to pass a measure which contains an element of reversal of the policy which we all favour. If the money is not claimed we shall be sorry.
– Keep it on the Estimates until it is claimed.
– I do not think that we will be any the worse off by retaining the bounty if it is not claimed. But we certainly ought to hold out an inducement to chemists, such as the gentleman I have mentioned, to keep up their experiments in the hope of surmounting any difficulties which may be in evidence now1 in connexion with the manufacture of wood-pulp from . Australian timbers. I earnestly advise the Minister to be careful in regard to a measure of this description.
The greatest difficulty is experienced by newspaper proprietors in procuring paper for printing purposes. I mentioned this matter an evening or two ago when we were discussing the question of freights. Many newspaper proprietors in Australia have had to raise the prices of their publications simply because of the difficulty of getting printing paper from America. And, beyond all doubt, so rapid is the consumption of spruce, which is the timber par excellence in regard to the manufacture of wood pulp, that if we are going to continue to utilize paper at the rate we have been doing some other sources of paper-making must be discovered. All the energies of chemists must be devoted to’ manufacturing a wood pulp from something else than spruce, for it will not last for ever. The spruce areas in . America iare devastated to this extent I believe: that it takes several acres to provide for a single issue of one of the big newspapers of New York. I have read that statement in American magazines. Allowing for a little exaggeration, there is no doubt that there is an element of truth in the statement. I believe that in Norway they are attempting the planting of spruce, but it has not been very successful. It is very much like the pines of Tasmania.
– The attempt in Norway has been successful. The Victorian Government are bringing spruce trees from Norway to plant on the Bogong plains.
– I hope that the enterprise will be successful; and, if it is, surely a bounty for encouraging the manufacture of pulp-making from timber will be . necessary.
– It will take fifteen years for the spruce trees to mature.
– I hope that before that period has passed the chemists who are now actively engaged in experimenting will have succeeded in manufacturing satisfactory paper pulp from some of the useless scrubs of our own country.
I have not seen very much brigalow scrub, because I have not travelled in the tracts of the continent where it is in evidence. I believe that if a man could succeed in making paper out of brigalow scrub he would become a millionaire very quickly, and justly so. I know that this
English chemist has made a fairly satisfactory pulp from a shrub which is so universally distributed over the continent as what is known as “ ti-tree “ or “ teatree.” I have seen the pulp, and have samples of it in my possession. I also have samples of pulp made from blackwood sawdust. Honorable senators may, when they go to Hobart, call upon a gentleman - I shall give them a letter of introduction - from whom they can obtain a sample of material made out of the sawdust of Australian woods, which, I venture to say, will be proved to have a hundred valuable commercial, uses. Therefore, if it is undesirable at this juncture to reverse our national policy of encouraging the production of valuable commodities from apparently useless materials, in my judgment, it is unwise to withdraw the bounty upon wood pulp.
– When I first read this Bill, I naturally concluded that it was designed to extend the period over which the bounty upon the production of wood pulp, as well as upon rock phosphates, was to be paid. It would have been wiser, I think, if that course had been adopted, for the reasons which have been very ably stated by Senator Bakhap. For years past many persons in Australia have thought that we might perhaps be able to produce from our Australian timbers wood pulp suitable for the manufacture of paper.
-The Government are expending money upon experiments in that direction through the medium of the Science Bureau.
– There is a gentleman in Tasmania, a member of the State Parliament, who has made this question one of several of his pet hobbies for quite a number of years. I refer to Mr. W. E. Shoobridge, who has devoted years of study to it, and who, during the regime of the Earle Government, toured America and Canada on its behalf for the purpose of carrying out certain investigations there.
– He offered his services.
– And his services were accepted. Since his return, I have had a number’ of conversations with Mr. Shoobridge, and, although I believe that the results of his inquiries abroad were not such as to satisfy the Tasmanian Government that it would be wise to go’ in for a wood-pulping plant, he himself is confident that, in Tasmania and other parts of Australia, there are certain varieties of timber which, in the very near future, will be found useful for the manufacture of wood pulp of commercial value.
– A Canadian expert was engaged by the same Government to investigate the matter.
– Yes, and he came out to Tasmania after Mr. Shoobridge’s visit abroad. Whilst that expert’s investigation may not have demonstrated that scientific research has proceeded sufficiently far to enable Australian timbers to be used in the manufacture of wood pulp, we know it is making very rapid strides. Now, although Australia generally cannot oe regarded as a mountainous country, there are portions of it which are densely timbered at altitudes ranging up to several thousand feet above sea-level. If, as has been stated, spruce has been found to be more useful in the manufacture of wood pulp than any other timber, and if its superiority is due to the altitude at which it is grown-
– Its superiority is due” to the fact that it is free from any - resinous matter.
– I do not think that that is a bar in regard to Australian timber, because there are many portions of this continent which are heavily timbered with different varieties of timbers at an altitude of a couple of thousand feet. Senator Bakhap has already pointed out that the spruce areas in America are being drawn upon very rapidly, and that it requires acres of spruce to supply sufficient paper for a single issue of a ‘ New York daily newspaper. It is manifest, therefore, that some substitute for spruce must be found. It will be a splendid thing for the Commonwealth if the paper used in Australia could be manufactured at’ relatively the same cost as it can be produced in Canada and America. Consequently it is a pity that the Government have not seen fit to continue the bounty for the manufacture of wood pulp. However, we have the assurance of the Honorary Minister that if scientific research evidences that we can make strides in that direction, the Government will bring forward a measure to re-enact that bounty. But I fear that the withdrawal of the bounty at present may cause some of our scientific chemists to abandon their investigations. I believe that the continuance of the bounty would have had the effect of stimulating scientific research in this direction. It would be a splendid thing for Australia if it’ could be demonstrated that some of our native timbers are suitable for the production of wood pulp.
– I desire to point out that, although the bounty on the production of wood pulphas been dropped, there has never been any attempt made to collect it. At present the Government are making practical field tests in connexion with the production of rock phosphates. We. have really diverted the bounty which has been payable on the production of wood pulp into another channel, and we are now spending that money upon the Science Bureau. That Bureau is not only making practical tests with grasses, rushes, and even with banana skins, but is also co-operating with America in this matter. The subject is not being neglected, and if any discovery be made which is likely to prove useful in the establishment of the industry, the Government’ will at once bring forward a proposal to restore the bounty upon wood pulp.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 (Short title).
– Unfortunately, I was absent from the chamber when ‘the Honorary Minister was speaking upon the motion for the second reading of this Bill. I should like to know the nature of the information which he imparted to honorable senators.
– We are spending the bounty which was formerly payable on wood pulp through the agency of the Bureau of Science.
– Will the Honorary Minister tell me the particular clause of the Bill which prevents a bounty being paid upon the production of wood pulp?
– It will be found in the schedule to the Act.
– In answer to Senator Bakhap I merely wish to say that the Act which was passed five years ago dealt with both wood pulp and rock phosphates. All that the Government are doing in this Bill is to renew for a further period , of five years that portion of the Act which authorizes the payment of a bounty upon the production of rock phosphates. The part dealing with wood pulp is dead.
– The five years’ period has expired.
– So that the bounty is not available at the present time?
– That is so. The question of the payment of a bounty upon wood pulp is not now under consideration. This Bill is strictly limited to a proposal to continue for another five years the. bounty which has hitherto been payable upon rock phosphates.
– I am very much obliged to the Honorary Minister for his lucid explanation. But is there any practical difficulty in the way of including wood pulp in this Bill, and, further, is there any sound reason for excluding it?
– We are spending the money through the Bureau of Science.
– Only a few minutes ago I was called out of the chamber, and was informed by a gentleman who has himself manufactured wood pulp out of ti-tree grown on the shores of Port Phillip that last-year the Department of Chemistry in South Australia published a most valuable paper dealing with the manufacture of paper pulp from Australian grasses and woods. He further stated that it has been established beyond doubt that if the industry be embarked upon in a large way, wood pulp can be produced upon profitable lines within the Commonwealth. A minute or two devoted to the consideration of this phase of the matter may not be amiss. With regard to spruce, which- is the timber from which nearly all the paper used for printing purposes is made, let me inform the Committee that the discovery of the suitability of spruce for the manufacture of wood pulp was due to the accidental observation by a workman in Saxony of the way in which certain insects made pulp out of wood. The vast industry, for vast it is, of the manufacture of wood pulp owes its genesis to the fact that a workman in Saxony going to his daily employment, picked, up a wasp’s nest, and found that in that part of Germany the wasps used pulp which they manufactured from wood to make their nests.
– I ask the honorable senator not to discuss the whole Bill on the title. There are certain rules governing debate in Committee, and it would be wise to> keep as closely to them as possible.
– Doubtless your admonition is soundly based, and I may have the opportunity to say a word or two more or less profitably when we come to the clause referring to the schedule.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 2 and 3 agreed to.
Clause 4- r-
The schedule to the principal Act is amended by omitting from the second column, opposite the words “ rock phosphate,” the words “ five years,” and. inserting in their stead the words “ ten years.”
. -I am glad that I conformed to the Standing Orders in the discussion of this matter. In view of the fact that we have embraced the policy of developing to the fullest extent the resources of Australia, 1 suggest te the Honorary Minister (Senator Russell) the desirability of giving the wood pulp bounty a further trial.
– I explained during the honorable senator’s absence that the Government are doing that through thea Science Bureau.
– Clause 4, which is now before the. Committee, refers to the schedule, which provides only for a bounty on rock phosphate.
– Would it not be possible to include the words “ wood pulp “ ?
– Not at this juncture.
– When can it be done?
– Not in this Bill.
– This is a Bill appropriating money.
– That is to say, that the functions of the Senate do not permit of what I desire being done?
– I am not an advocate of talking for Walking’s sake.
– If the objection referred to is the only bar an amendment might be made by request.
– I will take the liberty of suggesting to Senator Russell that the wood pulp question is a very live one. I believe that we are almost at the door of success in regard to the establishment of its manufacture in Australia. Australian chemists of very great ability are at present using all their powers to surmount the difficulties in the way of the successful manu ac- .ture of wood pulp that up to the present have been in evidence. If the Honorary Minister will give me an assurance on the part of the Government, which I shall be quite prepared to accept, that an early opportunity will be taken-
– I have pointed out that the Government are organizing chemists, through the Science Bureau, to endeavour to surmount .the difficulties referred to, and are finding the money for the purpose.
– I am pointing out that chemists of great skill are investigating the -matter independent of Government assistance, and it is desirable that they should be encouraged to the fullest extent. As the Chairman rules that I cannot move in the matter in connexion with this Bill, it is useless for me to say anything more than I have said.
.- If it is not irregular, I wish to move that the words “ ‘ rock phosphate,’ the words “ be left out. I agree with a great deal of what Senator Bakhap has said.
– If the words mentioned by the honorable senator were left out, the Bill would become absolutely inoperative.
– From what cause?
– Because they practically represent the whole Bill.
– I am afraid, sir, that you have not understood what I propose to do. If the words to which I have referred are left out, the clause will read -
The schedule to the principal Act is amended by omitting from the second column, opposite the words “ five years,” and inserting in their stead “ten years.”
– Then this Bill will apply to both items in the schedule to the principal Act.
– Quite so. Under the principal Act provision is made for the payment of bounty to the extent of £5,000 per annum for five years from January, 1913, to January, 1918, on wood pulp and rock phosphates. If this Bill is carried in its present form, the provision for the bounty on wood pulp will continue to operate for the remainder of this year, and will then cease, whilst the provision for the bounty on rock phosphates will be continued for another five years. I hope that I will be permitted to test the opinion of the Committee on this matter.
– The amendment can only be submitted as a request to the House of Representatives. It cannot, be moved as an amendment.
– Then I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend clause 4 by leaving out the words “ ‘ rock phosphate,’ the words.”
I point out that if no wood pulp is manufactured, the bounty will remain unpaid, and the Treasury will lose nothing by the acceptance of this request. The manufacture of printing paper in Australia is of paramount importance to the Commonwealth. A very extensive investigation was made of Tasmanian timbers, particularly myrtle swamp-gum and stringybark, but, according to the report of Mr. Service, a Canadian expert, the fibre of the timbers experimented upon were too short to be satisfactory.
– Mr. Slaytor is still very hopeful of successful results.
– Quite a number of persons are still experimenting, and are hopeful that printing paper may be successfully manufactured from the pulp of the shorter-fibred timbers. The timbers used in Canada and America for the purpose differ in character from the native timbers of Australia. I have every hope that science will overcome our difficulties, and that we shall be able to successfully; manufacture printing paper from our timbers. From the pulp of Tasmanian timbers papers of the finer qualities for books have been manufactured.
– Paper for legal purposes, of splendid quality, has been manufactured from blue-gum pulp.
– The difficulty is that the consumption of such papers constitutes only 5 per cent, of the world’s consumption of paper. So far, pulp suitable for newspapers has not been manufactured from our timbers. If the bounty is claimed, I am sure that, we shall all be very much pleased, and if it is not claimed the Treasury will be no worse off.
– I suggest to the honorable senator that, to effect his object, he should request the omission of the words “ opposite the words ‘ rock phosphate.’ “
– I am much obliged for the suggestion, and I therefore alter my motion to read -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend clause 4 by leaving out, after the word “ column,” the words “ opposite the words ‘ rock phosphate.’ “
– I hope the Committee will not accept the request, because this is not a question of the Government not being in sympathy with the suggestion. It has been reported that our timbers are fit for this process, and I point out *that there never has been a time in the history of Australia so favorable for the establishment of this business. It costs £9 per ton to bring wood pulp to Australia to-day ; there is a very big market for it, but the opportunity has been missed.
– But it would be impossible to get the machinery at present.
– But it would only cost £50 to collect the bonus. There are dozens of different varieties of grass, as well as bracken fern, which may be used in the manufacture of paper; but, so far, this has not been demonstrated to be possible on a commercial scale. Unfortunately, Australian timber contains too much resinous matter for the machinery to treat it as rapidly as spruce, which Contains practically no resinous matter at all. We are, however, subsidizing experiments now being conducted under the auspices of the Science Bureau, with the object of extracting the restrictive proper ties in Australian timbers, and I can give honorable senators the assurance that immediately a favorable report has been received the Government will be prepared to do something in this matter.
– But if chemists, working independently of the Science Bureau, solve the difficulty, will action be taken?
– I can assure the honorable senator that the Government will be very pleased to do so, and I am sure the honorable senator himself will roar with joy if such a discovery is made.
– But what valid objection is there to making this apply towood pulp?
– This is a time when public expenditure must be scrutinized very closely, and no object can be served by building up paper liabilities when there is no probability of the money being utilized for a specific purpose. If we do as the honorable senator suggests, the money will be ear-marked, and the critics will have ground for objection to an imaginary expenditure of £5,000 for wood pulp which there is no opportunity of producing.
– But would it be more imaginary than rock phosphate?
– Yes, because they are working on rock phosphates ‘ at the present time, and the phosphatic rock is improving with development. The Government is in full sympathy with the proposition, and will appreciate any attempt made to develop the paper ‘ industry.
Clause agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Russell) proposed -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through its remaining stages: without delay.
– Before consenting to the general suspension of the Standing Orders* I should like an assurance from the Government that the adoption of this coursewill not interfere with. private members’ business, including the notice of motion standing in my name with regard to regulations under the War Precautions Act?
– This motion limits the suspension to the present Bill.
– I want to know that there is no intention to interfere with the discussion of private business.
– I understand the honorable senator is referring to some business that has been postponed until to-morrow. The motion before the Senate cannot possibly interfere with the honorable senator’s notice of motion unless the debate on the third reading of this Bill is carried over until to-morrow.
– But if the third reading were postponed until to-morrow, the motion might interfere with private business.
– I have no intention of doing that, and in any case I understand the Leader of the Senate (Senator Millen) has already given Senator Gardiner an assurance that he will have an opportunity of discussing his notice of motion. In fact, I do not think his opportunity could be taken away unless a specific motion were moved without notice to-morrow, and there isno such intention.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ message) : “
Clause 6 -
Section 31 of the principal Act is amended by omitting from sub-section 1 the words “ for a term,” and inserting in their stead the words “ during the continuance of their engagements.”
Mouse of Representatives’ Amendment. -
Before “ section “ insert “ (1) “. Omit all words after “ amended “ to the end of the clause, and insert - “ (a) by omitting from sub-section (1) thereof the words ‘ for a term,’ and inserting in their stead the words during the continuance of their engagements
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
We made certain amendments in the principal Act when the Bill was before us, and the House of Representatives’ amendments have been put in for the purpose of better draftsmanship. They do not effect any alteration in the Bill as it left this Chamber. Honorable senators will remember that during my second-reading speech I said that the Bill was to be retrospective in regard to certain matters in order to validate certain things that have been done in connexion with the war. The Crown -Law officers assured me that this matter was fully provided for in the Bill, but I raised a doubt myself as to whether it was. In order to overcome all doubt in regard to this clause, which is a validating clause, sub-clause 2 was inserted by the House of Representatives to provide that the clause shall be deemed to have commenced from the 1st day of August, 1914. This was necessary, because this clause deals with the constitution of the Defence Forces. Owing to the outbreak of ‘ war, certain things had to be done to constitute our Defence Forces, and it became necessary to validate such action. These amendments, so far as (a), (b), and (c) are concerned, are an alteration of the verbiage ; as far as sub-clause 2 is concerned they make it perfectly clear that it dates from the commencement of the war.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 50 -
Section 138 of the principal Act is amended by inserting after sub-section (3) the following sub-section: - “ (3a) Persons who have served on war service may be exempted from the prescribed training for such period and under such conditions as are prescribed.”
House of Representatives’ Amendment. -
Omit all words after “amended” to the end of the clause and insert - “ (a) by omitting from . sub-section (1) thereof the words ‘ in time of peace’ ; and
SenatorPEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for Defence) [5.15]. - I move -
That the amendment he agreed to.
This, again, is only a drafting amendment, and is not important. It simply puts in better form what the Senate had already agreed to. The effect of a will be to make the original Act read as follows: -
The following shall be exempt from the training mentioned in Part XII. of this Act, so long as the employment, condition, or status on which the exemption is based is still continuing. . . .
That is practically what happens now, but in the original Act it was divided into two parts. The words in proposed new sub-section 3a were in the Bill we passed, bub they are now put in a different position in the section in the principal Act.
Motion agreed to.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Insert the following new clause: - “50a. After section. 139 of the principal . Act the following section is inserted: - 140. The Governor-General may, in time of war, by order published in the Gazette, suspend in any year the whole or any portion of the training prescribed by Part XII. of this Act, and all persons liable to be trained under that part in that year shall not be required at any subsequent time to undergo the training so suspended. “
– That step has already had to be taken, and unless we put in this amendment persons whose training was suspended will be liable when they reach the age of twenty-five to do the periods of training they missed in 1916. The condition that occurred then may occur again, because then it was absolutely impossible for the Department, with a great many of its officers overseas, or engaged in training troops to go overseas, to carry on the training of the local Citizen Forces, and this was therefore suspended for the time being. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
– This gives me the opportunity of bringing before the Minister a grave injustice which the Defence Department perpetrated on trainees under the compulsory draining provisions in New South Wales. Here is a definite case of which I can supply details to the Minister if he wants them. A young man employed in the Telegraph Department as a messenger found that his drills as a senior cadet were suspended, and when the year expired he had not put in a sufficient number of drills, and was proceeded against. There were two boys in the office, and only one could get away at a time. It fell to his lot to stay, and he could not put in his drills. He could have made up the arrears in nine months, but he could not put in sufficient in six months, owing to the suspension of the training, so he was short by seventeen hours.- Although the Defence Department knew he had been detained by the Telegraph Department, they took him before the Court, and he was given seven days’ detention at North or South Head. *I investigated this case personally to see if such a gross injustice could not be met by giving him an opportunity of attending at the barracks in the mornings, as he was willing to do, but he had to serve his seven days, which he did uncomplainingly. I hope this amendment will , prevent the repetition of that sort of treatment. He had to ride from his home to the Court, and had to go straight from the Court to the place of military detention, not being allowed even to ride back to his home to tell his parents what had happened.
– A big injustice is being done under the present system to naval cadets - boys who go to sea and cannot attend the Saturday afternoon or evening drills. A number of cases were heard at Port Adelaide recently, when the boys were heavily fined, although the magistrate said it was one of the greatest cases of hardship he had ever come across in his life. One boy was, employed in the trade between Brisbane and Fremantle. The Defence Department suggested that he might do his drill at any port in Australia, but his ship was never in port more than one night, and never on a Saturday. The only way he could possibly put in his drill was to give up his employment and stop ashore, losing his wages. Yet he was penalized by a heavy fine. Cannot the Minister do something to prevent this treatment of boys earning their livelihood ? In some of the cases brought before the Court the boys were assisting to maintain their parents. Cannot something like the Imperial Naval Reserve regulations be adopted, by which the boys are allowed to take a month ashore and put in their, month’s drill all at once, while still retaining their positions on their ships ? If a boy has to leave his ship, he has no chance of further employment for a considerable time.
– I will look into the case brought before me by Senator Gardiner, to see if any mitigation is possible, or, if the sentence has been served, to see if we can prevent such cases arising in the future. It is just possible that the lad himself was to blame, because the cadet training was suspended for only half the year, and if he found that his departmental duties did not allow him to put in the full amount of his drills, he could have applied for leave. If he could make out a good case, this should certainly have been granted to him, as has been done in quite a number of cases.
– If he did not apply for leave, he probably did not know that he ought to, and I should say that that was the cause of his being punished.
– If Senator Guthrie will let me have the Hansard proof of his speech, I shall see that the case mentioned by him is brought under the notice of the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Joseph Cook), because the proposed new section will apply to both military and navalcadets.
– A similar case to that mentioned by Senator Gardiner came under my notice in Brisbane, and when the Minister was speaking on the second reading I made an interjection i about it. The boy was employed at the Telegraph Office, Brisbane. Sometimes he finished his late delivery round after 11 o’clock, and it would be 12 before he reached home. He fell into arrears with his drill, and the only way he could make up the deficiency was to rise early in the morning, after getting home at 12 at night, and go to town. He was given that opportunity, but his father would not allow him to go. A prosecution was begun against the boy, but when the father explained the circumstances to the magistrate, the Defence authorities did not proceed with the case. The boy had to resume work about 3 in the afternoon. The father pointed out to me that, in such circumstances, private employers had given their lads opportuni. ties for making up arrears, but that privilege was denied by the Post and Tele graph authorities in Brisbane. The boy’s services have since been dispensed with on. quit© other grounds. I mention the case so that steps may be taken to see that the practice does not operate generally throughout the Federal Departments. I asked the Minister for an assurance on the subject during the second-reading debate and he said that the Federal Departments, like other employers, would be compelled to give the boys every facility, in such extenuating circumstances, to make up their arrears. Under such abnormal conditions, the heads of Federal Departments should be a little more lenient and considerate to their employees.
– Especially considering the way private employers are dealt with.
– That aggravates the case; and I am sure the matter only needs to be brought under the notice of the proper authorities to prevent a re- . petition of such harshness.
.- I take it that the clause w.e passed in the Bill to provide that a certain percentage of drills shall be done during the working hours of the boys, and that employers shall not be allowed to dock their pay, will apply also to Government Departments. I shall certainly have representations made to the Departments to see that that law is obeyed by them in the same way as weshall expect private employers to obey it.
– How is it that a private employer gets a military notice, and a Government Department does not?
– On certain occasions a boy may be indispensable, as, for instance, in a- telegraph office where only one messenger is employed ; but even then, it should be possible to make arrangements to let him do his drills. I do not think a boy who happens to be in the service of the Post and Telegraph Department should be put in a better position than any other. He cannot expect all his drills to- be done in the time of the Department; but, short of that, he should get equal treatment with a boy in a similar position in the pay of a private employer.
Senator FERRICKS (Queensland)’ r5.29].- The boy’s name is Nicholl. He fell into arrears, perhaps through his own fault. If a boy falls into arrears, even through his own fault, should not theGovernment Department that employs him allow him some consideration and latitude,. to enable Him to make up arrears and avoid a prosecution!
– I am afraid arrears would then become rather popular !
– It may not always be the boy’s own fault, and it is not reasonable to expect a growing boy who reaches home at midnight, to rise at 8 o’clock for several mornings in the week to attend drill. If the Government want to popularize the scheme, some consideration for the lads should be shown by departmental officers. I submit that in this particular case- no consideration was shown. I have mentioned the boy’s name so that the Minister, if approached, can identify the case.
Motion agreed to.
Resolutions reported ; report adopted.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ message) :
– These amendments, which look rather bulky, are practically consequential upon amendments which were moved in the Senate, mostly by members of the Opposition.
– It is a good thing that there was an Opposition, then.
– The amendments of the other House were really made to carry out amendments moved by the honorable senator, who was particularly anxious that service under a State on construction work, and employment subsequently in the railway service, should, as regards all allowances, be counted as .continuous service. We attempted here to carry put that principle; but we did not make our meaning quite clear, and, consequently, it was found necessary for the other House to introduce a consequential amendment in three or four places. The Senate was very anxious that no land such as a public park should be acquired without a separate Act of Parliament. That principle has been conceded in clause 63, to which the other House has added the following new sub-clause -
The amendments of the other House are merely consequential upon what the
Senate desired to see carried out in the measure. I, therefore, move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
– I should like to get from the Honorary Minister an assurance that the amendments made by the other House in clause 52 will assure continuity of service as regards employment under a State and the Commonwealth. Can he tell me that all the gaps have been covered?
– All the gaps in the clause have been covered. Paragraph d of clause 52, as it left the Senate, contained the words, “whose employ-: ment in the railway service has been continuous with his prior permanent employment.” The other House has inserted after “employment” these words, “and the period of his employment in the construction or working of any Commonwealth railway or”. The object of the amendment is simply to express what we desired to place in the Bill here.
Question resolved in the affirmative
Resolution reported; report adopted.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the measure is to enable the transfer of a sum of £825,000 to be made from the account in London, known as the London Liability Account, back to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.’ There is in London a considerable sum, totalling about £4,000,000. It is paid in there from time to time under circumstances which I will relate. Whenever an order has been placed in London, and Parliament has appropriated the money for the purpose, the practice has been for the money to be immediately paid into the Trust Account in London ; but although the order for the goods or services was given, very many months, sometimes years, elapsed before the necessity to pay the money over arose. That is to say, the goods were not promptly delivered on the receipt of the order. Sometimes, especially in the of goods required for the Defence Department, two or three years have passed by before the order could be completed. This thing has been going on for quite a number of years, and as a result there, is an accumulation of money much above the present needs. It has, therefore, been deemed desirable, and I think that the decision will commend itself to the judgment of the Senate, to utilize some of the surplus money in London rather than resort to additional taxation. The purpose of the Bill is to sanction the transfer of a sum of £822,000 back to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. That amount is not expected to be required in London this year. The other clauses of the Bill involve no questions of policy, because they have relation only to bookkeeping. They represent the result of experience by officers, and have been framed in order to make our system of account keeping, I will not say a little more accurate, but a little more workable. If honorable senators desire any information in Committee, I shall be willing to supply it; but the main purpose of the Bill is as I have explained.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to..
Clause 2 (Certain receipts may be credited to the Loan Fund).
– I take advantage of this opportunity to remedy an omission of which I was guilty in moving the second reading. The Bill contains another feature. Certain earnings are made by the ships owned by the Commonwealth. These moneys are paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund; but as the vessels were paid for with loan money, and stand to a separate loan account, it is quite clear that the earnings ought not to go into the Consolidated Revenue Fund. . They ought to go to an account in redemption of the overdraft which was incurred when the vessels were purchased. Obviously, it would be wrong to continue to pay the earnings into the Consolidated Revenue Fund. Therefore, this clause provides that the earnings of vessels, and other small receipts, shall go in redemption of the fund which was created in order to purchase the vessels themselves.
– I recognise, of course, that this is practically a machinery Bill. I should like to know, and I think that other honorable senators wish to know, what provision is made in London for the audit of the Federal accounts. Is there in London a special officer connected with the Audit Department here, or is the auditing done for the Auditor-General by a private firm of accountants, or By an officer of the Imperial Government?
– I understand that we have in London our own audit officers, who are responsible to the Audit Office here.
– Will I, sir, be out of order in directing attention to what I regard as an irregularity in the conduct of the business of this Chamber? You were filling the office of Deputy President a few minutes ago, and, immediately upon vacating the chair, you assumed the position of Chairman of Committees. I have never seen that done in this Chamber before.
– I desire to ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council whether the accounts mentioned in this Bill have anything whatever to do with the Wheat Pool accounts ?
– No relation whatever to the wheat accounts.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported wthout amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– What have we been sitting all the week for, except to hurry up and finish the business ?
– I am under tie impression that there is no private members’ business which can be proceeded with tonight.
– Oh, yes, there is.
– Then I ask leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That Order of the Day No. 3 be postponed until after the consideration of private members’ business.
– When the Vice-President of the Executive Council stated that there was no private members’ business to proceed with, I interpreted his remark to mean that there was no such business which could be proceeded with after the adjournment for dinner. I have certain papers relating to private members’ business, but it would be necessary for me to go outside the building to obtain them. If the Minister desires to proceed with private members’ business before the ordinary suspension of the sitting for dinner, I will withdraw my objection to the adjournment of the Senate now.
– I moved the adjournment of the Senate under the impression that private members’ business had been postponed; but, when I was reminded by an interjection that that was not so, as I did not wish to prevent private members’ business being discussed, I asked leave to withdraw the motion. However, if it be the desire of honorable senators generally that we should not proceed with private members’ business immediately, I ask leave to withdraw this motion.
– I object.
Question resolved in the negative.
– Again I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn. In submitting this motion I should like to intimate to honorable senators how business stands. In the other branch of the Legislature the Income Tax Bill is being proceeded with, and I anticipate that its consideration will be concluded to-night. But as the hour at which it will be disposed of is uncertain,
I do not feel justified in asking honorable senators to wait here on the offchance that it may come along in time to enable us to seriously address ourselves to it. There are two other measures with which that Chamber is not likely to deal to-night. In the circumstances, therefore, I make no apology for moving the adjournment of the Senate, which means that we shall resume our deliberations at
II o’clock to-morrow morning, when we shall have at least one measure to engage our attention.
.- 1 think that the Government ought so to arrange the business that these breaks would not take place. I understand that the other branch of the Legislature » is dealing with a most debatable measure. At the same time there are Estimates, which will have to be approved by the Senate, awaiting attention. In these circumstances I suggest a rearrangement of i the business by the Government in such a way that if a matter is of a debatable character it shall be left over until th’e non-contentious matters have been disposed of.
– No fault can be found with the manner in which business has been dealt with by the Senate. The trouble is that when business is available honorable senators are not always ready to proceed with it. Senator Gardiner is the greatest offender in this respect. Only to-day we found that halfaadozen contentious proposals, the consideration of which would have occupied a lot of time, were either withdrawn or postponed until to-morrow. That was the fault of the honorable senator himself.
– The last word of the Minister (Senator Millen) was that our arrangement in regard to those pro,posals was “ off.”
– If any fault is to be found, it must be found with the Leader of the Opposition rather than with the Leader of the Senate. Any reasonable individual must recognise that to-day’s record by the Senate is a fairly good one. We have dealt with a large number of Bills, and if any questions which are now being postponed have to be discussed later in the week when, very important matters will be engaging our attention, the Government are certainly not to blame. Personally, -I think we have done a very good day’s work.
– I did not know that it was necessary for the combination which forms this Government to secure the services of an apologist like Senator de Largie for its want of business capacity in keeping honorable senators employed. From the very beginning of my career in this Chamber I have held the view that the Senate was an utterly useless body. It is always being asked to deal . with measures as if they came from a sausage machine. To-day’s proceedings afford ample proof that the Senate has never justified its existence. If the Government had only consulted me I could have put two or three matters on the business-paper which would have fully occupied our attention for the remainder of the sitting, and I know that Seuator Bolton is waiting for an opportunity to bring forward certain important business before the session closes.
– Like Senator McDougall, I congratulate the Government upon having,not merely an official’ Whip, but also an official apologist, in the person of Senator de Largie. He is not merely an apologist for the Government’s lax system in connexion with the conduct of business here, but he is also practically the dictator of the Senate.
– I wish I could dictate to the honorable senator.
– Senator de Largie has often attempted to do so. But from a gentleman like himself I accept no dictation. T believe that I am the innocent cause of this debate, because when the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Millen) moved the adjournment of the Senate I exclaimed, “What have we been sitting all the week for, save to hurry up and finish the business?” Last week the honorable senator informed us that we would require to meet this week on Tuesday, and at 11 o’clock on each subsequent morning. We were then assured that to-morrow the session would temporarily close.
– Why did the honorable senator postpone his Workmen’s Compensation Bill?
– That is my business. The honorable senator has a habit of poking his nose into the business of other people.
– I thought it was the business of the Senate.
– It was not. This Chamber disposed of that matter this morning.
– Why did the honorable senator postpone his Bill?
– Because there is some legal doubt as to whether that Bill is properly before the Senate.
– The honorable senator should have ascertained that before he put it on the business-paper.
-Why were we called here at 11 a.m., when we are now informed that there is no business for us to do? Why do not the Government exercise some influence with the other branch of this Parliament?
– Why have they not some policy? They ave a Winthewar Government.
– Senator Ferricks asks a question which it is impossible for any one to answer. A policy is the last- thing one would expect from the present Government. Even the intellect of their official whip and apologist cannot provide a policy for them. They are bereft of a policy, of system, and of anything that is of any use to Australia. It is high time that they got down to business. I suggest to Senator Millen that their official whip and apologist should consult with members of the Government in another place to see whether they cannot frame some policy, whereby the business of the country may be kept going, and we may win the war.
– I am aware that it is considered part of the business of an Opposition to at all times heckle the Government. No one should understand that business better than I, as I had a long schooling in it, and served a long apprenticeship on the other side. Therefore all these little gibes pass harmlessly off my shoulders. I should, however, like to make an observation or two upon some of the things which have been said this afternoon. Senator McDougall said that he regards, and always has regarded, the Senate as useless.
– I do.
– I remind him that those associated with him at the last election in New South Wales were thanking God that there was a Senate, as if there had not been, one “ Billy Hughes “ would have been on his road to London. The honorable senator and his friends found some virtue in the Senate then. What he really means to say to-day is that he has read the verdict of the 5th May last, and has altered his opinion. Complaints have been made as to the manner in which the Government have ordered their business, but I claim that it has been handled in a business-like way. Honorable senators do not do themselves or the Senate justice by criticism of the kind to which we have just listened. The Senate is numerically a House of only half the strength of the House of Representatives, and it is therefore inevitable that it should take less time to get through the same business. It cannot proceed with business on its own account, as all legislation must be passed by both Houses. Another good reason why measures occupy less time ‘ in the Senate is that all the more important proposals are introduced in another place, and by the time they reach the Senate their main principles have been thoroughly threshed out, public interest in them has,’ to some extent, been exhausted, and honorable senators have made up their minds as to what they will do with them. The result is that we do not discuss the second-reading stages of important measures at anything like the same length as is done in the House of Representatives. It is decrying the Senate unfairly to attempt to make it appear that, because we sit shorter hours, and frequently find ourselves without any business to do, that is in some way a reflection upon this Chamber. It should rather be regarded as an evidence of the capacity of the Senate to deal with its business in a business-like way. When it is said that the Government should more satisfactorily arrange their business, I remind the Senate that honorable senators in charge of private business have the same responsibility. I take no exception to Senator O’Keefe’s attitude this afternoon, but I point out that if it is claimed that the Government should so arrange their business as to always have something for the Senate to do, surely an honorable senator in charge of one proposal should be prepared to go on with it when the opportunity offers.
– I wanted to go on with my business last Thursday night, and was prevented by the suspension of the Standing Orders.
– That is quite right, but the opportunity w.as given to the honorable senator to go on with his business to-day. One remark, made by Senator McDougall surprised me very much; he said that Senator Bolton has had business to bring before the Chamber for some time past, and has been unable to do so.
– He has been trying to bring it on for a long time.
– I see no notice of it on the business-paper. If Senator Bolton has business to bring before the Senate, and has been telling Senator McDougall about it, I think that the least he might have done was to have informed me.
– He tried to bring it on, but was ruled out.
– What is the use of saying that the honorable senator had business to bring on if he was not allowed to bring it on? I do not think Senator Bolton will say so, but I resent the suggestion from any one that I or any other member of the Government prevented Senator Bolton or any one else from bringing on business. Senator McDougall knows that there is a proper time at which to give notice of business. Unless I am told so by Senator Bolton himself, I shall not believe that he has any complaint to make that any action the Government have taken has blocked him or anybody else from bringing business before the Senate.
– I did not say that.
– Senator Gardiner has said that the Government should so arrange business in another place that it would be coming up to the Senate in regular instalments. That is what the Government are doing, but I must disclaim all responsibility for the action of Senator Gardiner’s associates in another place. There is now before the House of Representatives a proposal for the amendment of the Income Tax Act, the Repatriation Bill, which the Senate has already dealt with, and a Supply Bill. The Government are proceeding with that business. They are proceeding first with the Income Tax Bill, because the Senate may consider it concurrently with the consideration of the Repatriation Bill in another place. As every one knows, Supply is invariably left to the last moment. So that there is no other order in which the Government could have arranged their business. In the circumstances, I say that the Government have not only done their best, but the best that could have been done, to secure such an allotment of the business as to keep the two branches of the Parliament reasonably occupied. Some exception might be taken to our calling the Senate together on Tuesday last, and to our sitting on Wednesday morning, but I ask honorable senators to bearin mind that we were confronted with the consideration of the War-time Profits Tax Assessment Bill, and no one at the time the arrangements were made would have ventured to say how long it would take to pass that Bill. Its consideration might very easily have been protracted, and if in consequence I had found it necessary to ask honorable senators to sit all night, the complaint would then have been made that the Government had not taken the proper steps to get their business through in an orderly way. I do not mind any of the things that have been said so far as they may be a reflection on myself. Although I have no exalted idea of the Senate, I deprecate the too frequent tendency to unnecessarily decry this Chamber in connexion with the part it plays under the Federal Constitution.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 6.11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 September 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1917/19170920_senate_7_83/>.