7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 2 p.m., and read prayers.
Classification in the Clerical Division.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate whether he is yet in a position to reply to the questions I put yesterday on the subject of classification in the clerical division in the Public Service?
– I have just received a letter in such terms that I cannot give it as an answer to the questions. If, on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, the honorable senator will give me the opportunity I will have made myself familiar with its contents in the meantime, and will then reply to his inquiries.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether the Government propose to give a subsidy to Western Australian applegrowers on the shipment of apples sent to Sydney and sold under the sum of 7s. 6d. per case?
– I should like the honorable senator to give notice of his question, but in the peculiar circum stances in which we are meeting here today I shall endeavour to get an answer for him before we adjourn.
– Arising out of the answer to my question, I understand that a promise has been made by the Prime Minister, and that some correspondence has passed between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of New South Wales regarding the matter. I should like to know whether the concession is actually in operation or only proposed.
– The Government have given an. undertaking, the exact nature of the details of which I do not care to speak of from memory . I shall endeavour to give the honorable senator the information later on.
– May I ask you, sir, whether, if an undertaking made by the Government to give a subsidy on apples shipped from one State to another, thereby differentiating as between the States, be carried out, that would he constitutional ?
– It has been laid down by the first President, Senator Sir Richard Chaffey Baker, that the President of the Senate should not be called upon to decide constitutional questions. With that ruling I entirely agree. The Senate and I, as presiding officer, can take no cognizance of whether a matter is in accordance with the Constitution except in so far as the Constitution is a guide to procedure and action in the Senate. The question whether measures brought forward, or proposals made are constitutional or otherwise, is a matter that comes within the jurisdiction of the High Court, which is the proper interpreter and guardian of the Constitution.
– Will the Leader of. the Senate, before we rise, endeavour to supply some definite information on this matter?
– He has already promised to do so.
– I ask the
Leader of the Senate if he has noticed a cablegram to the effect that the Japanese Government have started the building of thirty 10,000-ton vessels for the Australian trade in the near future? If so, will the Government consider the advisability of building the ships we have at present under construction in such a way that they will be able to compete with the Japanese ships proposed to be built?
– I shall bring the matter under the notice of my colleagues. The honorablesenator is aware that that is all that I can say atthis juncture.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate if he has noticed a paragraph in the London Journal which grossly libels Australia. It says -
Before the making of the railway Western Australia was cut off from the other States.
– Order! It has frequently been laid down that honorable senators in asking questions may not offer any arguments, or make statements, or do any more than ask for information. It is obvious that if an honorable senator is not allowed to make a statement or offer an argument, a newspaper or magazine writer should not have ‘ that privilege extended to him. Senator McDougall will be in order in directing attention to the nature of the paragraph to which he refers, but he will not be in order in quoting any statements from it.
– I bow to your ruling, sir, and hope that it will always be carried out. I ask the Leader of the Senate whether his attention has been drawn to this paragraph, which is a libel on South Australia and Western Australia, and if so whether he will take steps to have it contradicted. I have much pleasure in presenting the Minister with the magazine.
– The pleasure which Senator McDougall has in handing me the magazine to which he has referred, is “likely to be equalled only by the pleasure with which I shall read it.
The following papers were presented : -
Wool. - Statement of position in regard to supply of knitting wool in Australia.
Ordered to be printed.
Public Service Act 1902-1916. - Promotion of A. A. Adair, Attorney-General’s Department.
Defence Act 1903-1917. - Regulations amended- Statutory Rules 1918, No. 118.
Establishment of Institutes - Entrance Examinations
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
In connexion with the criticisms by the Public Accounts Committee of the current expenditure on Naval Bases, will the Government, during the recess carefully consider the policy’ now being pursued in connexion with these large works?
SenatorPEARCE. - The answer supplied by the Minister for. the Navy is “ Yes.”
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
What progress has been made by the Government in obtaining supply and fixing price of knitting wool in Australia?
– The following answer has been supplied: -
Since September, 1917, the Government has been in constant communication with the High Commissioner regarding the securing of an allocation of woollen, worsted, and cashmere yarns for Australia. An estimate of the yarn required to fill Australia’s requirements for twelve months was made, and forwarded to the Minister of Munitions, through the High Commissioner, with a request that permission be given to British spinners with established Australian connexions to export pro rati to any allocation made by the Minister of Munitions. In April last a cablegram was received from the High Commissioner stating that he had arranged for an interview with the Wool Production Department of the War Office, with a view to safeguarding Australian supplies, and asking whether the Commonwealth Government had any further facts to place before the British authorities. A cablegram was forwarded, stating that the shortage of woollen and worsted yarns in Australia was very serious, and that it would be appreciated if, in addition to any yarn which might be allocated for ordinary commercial use, a certain quantity could be made available for distribution to Bed Cross Societies and Comfort Funds. If this was arranged, the Commonwealth was prepared to undertake an equitable distribution at a fixed price. The only other solution- of the difficulty would be to allow the manufacture and exportation of two yarn spinning units for erection in Melbourne and Sydney respectively. If this could be done, the yarn could be spun in Australia, and shipping space saved on the wool to England and on the yarn back to Australia.
On the 20th April, the High Commissioner cabled that the War Office had made a special ration, renewable every two. months, to cover self-governing Dominions. He stated that the quantity allocated was said to be in excess of orders then on the books of spinning firms, and that Bed Cross requirements had also been met. This allocation was for the period from the 1st April to 31st July, and the War Office stated that in all probability similar allocation would be made during the period 1st August to 30th November. A later cablegram stated that the War Office has arranged to increase the quantity of yarn to be delivered during present rationing period by firms now holding Australian orders to ‘ 550,000 lbs. A cablegram has been despatched to the High Commissioner, asking how far this amount covers orders in hand, exclusive of Bed Cross and Patriotic League requisitions, and what the position is regarding the supply of worsted and cashmere yarn for hosiery factories. It was pointed out that the situation here was very serious, and that many small factories might have to close from lack of yarn if supplies were not forthcoming at an early date. A reply to this cablegram is now awaited.
Knitting wool has now been gazetted a . necessary commodity, and preliminary investigation has already been made with a view of fixing prices.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 3 p.m. on a date to be fixed by Mr. President, which day of meeting shall be notified by Mr. President to each senator by telegram or letter.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to-
That leave of absence be granted to every member of the Senate from, the determination of the sitting this day to the day on which the Senate next meets.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives, with a message intimating that it had agreed to two of the amendments made by the Senate to the amendments of the House of Representatives, and had agreed toanother with an amendment, in which it desired the concurrence of the Senate.
That the message be considered in Committee forthwith.
Clause 9 (as amended) -
Section 12 of the principal Act is amended -
By adding at the end of subsection (2) the words “for the granting of assistance and benefits to any of the classes of persons specified in paragraphs (a), (b), (c), and (d) of section 22 of this. Act or to any relative or person not specified in paragraphs (b), (c), or (d) of section 22 of this Act who was dependent upon any deceased or discharged sailor or soldier prior to his enlistment.” ….
Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out the words “ discharged sailor or soldier,” and insert in lieu thereof the words “ incapacitated Australian soldier “.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Leave out the word “ incapacitated,” insert “ discharged.”
– Honorable senators, I am sure, will* recollect what transpired when this measure was last before us. The House of Representatives has accepted the amendment which we inserted in this clause with an amendment omitting the word “ incapacitated.” Its effect will be to give to the local authorities power to render assistance, not only to soldiers who are incapacitated, but to all discharged soldiers. Under the amendment made by the other Chamber all soldiers may be the recipients of any kindly attention which Local Committees may desire to bestow upon them. ‘I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives, with a message intimating that it had agreed, to the . Bill with’ amendments, in which it desired the concurrence of the Senate.
That the message be considered in Committee forthwith.
– Owing to the fact that the other branch of the Legislature is sitting simultaneously with the Senate, I, regret that we have been unable to get the amendments made by the House of Representatives in this Bill printed. But I can assure the Committee that both those amendments are purely drafting amendments. In fact, the first one is merely designed to improve the grammar of clause 3, a portion of which reads -
If the Governor-General by proclamation declares that, by ‘reason of the recent existence of a time of war, it is necessary, in the public interest, that the Permanent Military Forces should be maintained after the cessation of the time of war, &c.
Instead of saying “ the “ Permanent Military Forces, the other House has left out that word. The second amendment is also a drafting amendment. At present clause 4 reads, “ if voluntarily enlisted,” but, under the amendment made by the House of Representatives, it will read, “ if voluntarily enlisted or appointed “. The alteration is intended to bring the provision into consonance with the rest of the. Bill. _ I move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Resolution’ reported; report adopted”. .
– May I be permitted to say that the other House is just completing its consideration of two Bills, which have to be returned to the Senate? They are the Defence (Civil Employment) Bill and the Apple Bounty Bill. In the circumstances, may I suggest the suspension of the sitting until you, sir, order the bells to be rung?
– May I suggest to the Minister that it would be well for us to dispose of Order of the Day No. 1, namely, the adjourned debate on the second reading of the Workmen’s Compensation Bill ?
-(Senator the Hon. T. “Givens). - A request, has been made to me that, in view of the state of the business-paper, and the fact that business which will require to be dealt with may be “expected momentarily, the sitting of the Senate should be suspended. I therefore, in accordance with the request of the Minister, who is at present leading the- Senate, and consulting the convenience of honorable senators, suspend the sitting until such time* as the bells are rung, which will be as soon as an intimation reaches me that business is ready for the consideration of the Senate. .
Sitting suspended from 2.21 to 845 p.m.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill read a first time.
Senator RUSSELL (Victoria - Vice-
President of the Executive Council) [3.47].- I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The object is to relieve the conditions caused by the unfortunate situation in which the apple growers of Australia have been placed, owing to the war, principally on account of the shortage of freight.
– Yes ; the growers of Australia, and not of only one State. Prior to the war, and during the early days of the war, from 1,000,000 to 1,250,000 cases of apples were exported from Australia yearly,, but owing to the shortage of freight in later years it has not been possible to keep up this rate of export, our own markets have been overstocked, and prices have dropped to such an extent as to make the industry quite unprofitable unless it was helped. As it had been the policy of the Government to endeavour to keep things normal during the war, we decided that it would be to the advantage of Australia to give the apple growers a helping hand.
– I said the apple growers of Australia, the Jones’, the Browns, and the Smiths. The bounty is to be given upon evaporated apples. It takes about 8 lbs. of fresh apples to make 1 lb. of evaporated apples.
– I have heard Jones say the proportion was ten to one.
– I have given the information at my disposal. Of course I do not pretend that it is more than a rough average. It is not as payable to evaporate apples as to place the fresh fruit on the market, but the process enables us, if not to get a payable price, at all events to reduce the loss which otherwise the growers would suffer, owing to the lack of freight. They are being paid by agreement1s. 6d. per case, which can hardly be termed a luxurious price, and the Government have decided to give a bounty for one year of 10 per cent. The Government are attempting also to help the apple-growers of Western Australia to overcome the difficulty of their isolation owing to the want of freight. In regard to labour conditions, the Bill provides that, on application by the Min ister, the Federal Arbitration Court, or a State industrial authority, may declare what wages and conditions of employment are fair and reasonable. I have been asked if the Bill is for the benefit of Australia” generally, or of one State? There are many evaporating plants in Tasmania, and there are four at least, in Victoria. I have inspected some here, and find that they are quite up to date. There is every promise of a good industry being established.
– Have all the States got Imperial orders?
– The Imperial order is through the Commonwealth Government, and will be equally distributed among the States in proportion to their production of apples. The order is for 300 tons per month for six months, or 1,800 tons in all, at 7d. per lb. The total amount of thebounty to be paid under the Bill is limited to £12,000. This is not much, but, if it succeeds in preventing the deterioration of the industry, or in preventing loss to the apple-growers of Australia, our object will be achieved. Whatever may happen during the dearth of shipping in Australia, we all want to preserve this industry and see it grow, develop, and prosper after the war is over.
– Is not this the encouragement of a new industry?
– Yes. It is possible that if a fruit-grower is not doing well, and is compelled to shorten his labour, hisorchard will deteriorate, even if it does not cease to be commercially profitable. That result of present conditions the’ Government wish to avert.
– I shall not oppose the Bill, although it should receive more consideration than is possible at this stage. I should have liked, before the Senate rose, that some sort of understanding should be arrived at about the meat question.
– That is a subject that interests us much more than apples just now. The Minister said that an agreement had been entered into for the export of evaporated apples, and I understand that we have to enable that agreement to be carried out by paying this small sum of £12,000 in the shape of a bounty. I shall not object to that, but I want to know who is going to get the money? Clause 3 says the bounty shall be payable to the grower of the apples only, but clause 5 provides that the owner,’ occupier, or lessee of any land in which the apples were grown, or factory in which they were “evaporated, or in which they have undergone any process, shall, unless the Minister in writing otherwise directs, be deemed to be employed in the growing or evaporation of the apples. That is a contradiction of clause 3.
– That is a uniform definition sanctioned by the High Court to prevent foreigners or Asiatics from getting the bounty.
– To me, it means that other than apple-growers will be able to receive a share. I do not think any one but the grower ought to be paid the bounty. If we are to assist the apple industry, it is the growers that have to be tided over the difficulty, and not those who do the evaporating, or pack the apples, or carry out any other process in connexion with evaporation or exportation. It ought to be definitely laid down that the bounty shall be paid to the grower only. He is the only man who suffers because of the .slump in the price. It may be a good thing for the people of this country if they have to find other markets for their apples. I was surprised when in London to see the miserable quality of apples sent there from Australia. Personally, I would not look at them, and I could not understand it. The apples I saw there from Tasmania were of very poor class. Those who know more about it than I do, and whom I have consulted since I returned, cannot understand it either. They say that other apples are displayed as Tasmanian apples.
– There could not have been any Western Australian apples on the market just then.
– The Western Australian Agent-General is a very live man. He was advertising his apples all over London. They were on show in the window. As the Italians do, the good ones were put in front, and the bad ones n.t the back. The good ones from Western Australia were put in the front of the window for show, but if one went to a barrow at the street corner, one got a lot of rubbish.
.- I support the Bill on general principles. I think it is specially designed to relieve the Tasmanian fruitgrowers of disabilities that have arisen on account of shortage of freight owing to the war. I point out, however, that New South Wales will pay about £5,000 out of the £12,000, which will be appropriated under this measure, and also that the people of that State will have to pay a higher price for Hobart apples, as under this measure a large quantity of the fruit will be available for export, and naturally the Tasmanian growers will hope to get a better price for the remainder of the crop. I am glad the Bill applies to the whole of Australia, that the Imperial authorities have agreed to take 300 tons per month, and that the orders will be apportioned according to the capacity of the various evaporators throughout the Commonwealth. There can be no objection to the Bill, and I hope it will help to establish the industry on a firm and permanent basis.
– I rise to point out that I think Senator McDougall has misread the Bill. He quoted paragraph 2 of clause 3, which states that the bounty shall be payable only to the grower of the apples. The following clause provides, however, that the bounty shall be payable only in respect of evaporated apples which, in the opinion of the Minister, are of a merchantable quality, and which have been grown and evaporated by white labour only. Clause 5, to which Senator McDougall referred, states-
The owner, occupier, or lessee of any land in which the apples are grown, or factory in which they were evaporated, or in which they have undergone any process, shall, unless the Minister in writing otherwise directs, be deemed to be employed in the growing or evaporation of apples.
If any such persons were not white, the apples would not be grown and evaporated by white labour only, and the bounty would not, therefore, be available.
.- The State I come from produces a large quantity of apples, and I notice there has been a considerable increase in fruitgrowing right throughout Australia, especially in Victoria. Western Australia also produces a fine sample of apple. As the Minister (Senator Russell) has pointed out, the* Bill is designed to tide growers over a very bad time. I would like, if time were available, to speak at some length on the measure, in order to demonstrate the advantage of still further encouraging this industry, I know of no other occupation which provides more employment than that of producing fruit, but, unfortunately at present, orchard property is almost unsaleable in Tasmania, owing to the unfavorable outlook. I know that many persons engaged in the industry are losing money, and they will continue to do so unless some assistance is forthcoming, as proposed in this Bill. It will not, however, give very much assistance, as the price fixed will be only ls. 6d. per bushel, which will not nearly cover the cost of production. I support the measure, and regret that more time is not available in which to discuss it more fully.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In .Committee :
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Conditions of bounty).
– I should like the Minister to describe the process of evaporation, with which I am not familiar.
– I will describe it to you next time we meet. I have been through evaporating factories, and I understand the whole process.
– All I - want to know is, what is the process of evaporation, and what are the conditions surrounding it?.
– I desire an explanation. The Bill singles out a coloured person, born in Australia, and having one white parent, and he is not to be prejudiced from taking advantage of the bounty. What is wrong with an aboriginal having two “black parents?
– A full-blooded aboriginal and a alf-blooded individual born in Australia are both eligible to benefit under the Bill. ]t has not been thought advisable to disqualify an Australian aboriginal - pureblooded or half-bred. Either is treated practically as a white Australian in respect to the apple industry. With regard to Senator Needham’s request that the process of evaporation be explained, you extract the core>. you peel the apple, you slice it, you roast it.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 -
The owner, occupier, or lessee of any land in which the apples, were grown, or factory in which they were evaporated or in which they have undergone any process, shall, unless the Minister in writing otherwise directs, bedeemed to be employed in the growing or evaporation of the apples..
– This clause was very clearly explained by the legal mind of Senator Keating. Nevertheless, it does not convince me. Those engaged in the process of evaporating, packing, storing, and other activities connected with thewhole industry could come under the operations of the measure,, and share in the bounty.
[4.&J.. - The bounty is payable to growers, only. The framing of this clause gave me a great deal of trouble, but the legal advisers of tlie Government informed me that it has been drawn up in this manner as a result of a decision of the High Court. The object is to exclude any disqualified persons, aliens, or Asiatics, from participating in the bounty.
– I see in this clause a very grave danger - not to the grower of the apple, however. I remind the Committee that I am supporting the Bill.
– This is Jones’ Bill.
– To refresh the honorable senator’s memory, and in order to indicate that this is not. Jones’ Bill, may I read the title?
– Not at this juncture. The title will be dealt with later on.
– For my own information, may I read it? -
A Bill for an Act to provide for the payment of a bounty on the export of evaporated apples from the Commonwealth.
I see no name similar to “ Jones “ in the title. It cannot be Jones’ Bill.
– That is who is behind it.
-. - The danger which I see in this clause lies in certain words contained therein, and this is by no means the first measure in which they have appeared. They are, “ unless the Minister, in writing, otherwise directs.”
– Jones and Company and the apple-growers are in the closest co-operation in regard to this business. The Bill is in the interests of the whole country.
– Why should the Minister have this authority ? We are simply handing over our responsibilities to a member of the Executive, who, without consulting Parliament, may determine a certain policy. I do not wish to place in the hands of any one Minister the power which this clause proposes to give him. Therefore, I move -
That the words “unless the Minister in writing otherwise directs,” be left out.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 6 to 8 agreed to.
The Governor-General may make regulations, not inconsistent with this Act, prescribing all matters which by this Act are required or permitted to be prescribed for giving effect to this
Act, and in particular for prescribing the proportion in which bounty shall be payable to claimants who have complied with the prescribed conditions in cases where there is not sufficient money available to pay the full bounty in respect of all the claims.
Senator NEEDHAM (Western Aus tralia. [4. 18]. - This clause is worthy of serious consideration. We have here another proposal for government by regulation. I object to government in that way, and I hope that the objectionable practice of submitting provisions of this kind will infuture be discontinued. Perhaps the Minister can inform the Committee when the regulations under this Bill will be gazetted, and what notice will be given to those likely to make applications under the measure?
Senator McDOUGALL (New South
Wales) [4.20]. - I should like a little explanation of the meaning of the words “ and in particular for prescribing the proportion in which bounty shall be payable to claimants.” I understood from the Minister that the Government know what the amount of the claims will be. I should like to know what amount has been set aside to cover the proposed bounty, and what reason there is to believe that it will not be sufficient for the payment of all claims under the Bill ?
– I object to the practice in the drafting of Bills submitted to Parliament of leaving everything to regulations. Parliament exists to pass definite laws dealing with various matters. What will happen if there is no money available forthe payment of claims? There will then be no bounty. My own opinion is that it is a farce.
– Then let the honorable senator vote against it, and let us have done with it.
– By-and -by I will do so. It is a farce, because it is intended only for one firm, and not for general application. I shall put up the strongest protest I can against it.
– To what firm does the honorable senator refer?
– I think I have already mentioned the name of the firm. I am convinced that every honorable senator from Tasmania is supporting this Bill because of that firm.
– That is absolutely untrue. I cannot allow that statement to pass.
– Order !
– Every honorable senator from Tasmania is supporting the Bill because he thinks that this will be a show for the absolute monopolist of Tasmania.
– The honorable senator measures every one by his own motives.
– I rise to a point of order. Senator Guthrie may be only joking, but he has no right to assert that the representatives of Tasmania are, in supporting this Bill, acting in the interests of any particular firm or monopoly. I ask that his remarks should be withdrawn.
– Senator Guthrie’s statement is absolutely incorrect.
– I do not think there is any point of order involved in what I said. I have a right to my own opinions on this matter.
– The honorable senator has no right to say what he did.
– I have, because I believe that what I said is true. I am going to vote against the Bill, and will call for a division upon it in order that we may see who is supporting Jones and Company.
– I have not had from the Minister in charge of the Bill the explanation for which I asked.
– The honorable senator referred to the amount of money to be provided for the payment of bounty. The total amount is £12,000.
– I want an explanation of the latter part of the clause providing for the payment of extra money.
– Not the payment of extra money, but a reduction pro rata if the amount provided is short.
– The sum of £12,000 is to be paid at the rate of 10 per cent., on a basis of 7d. per lb. If we produce 10,000 tons more apples than there is available money to pay bounty upon, the amount provided will be distributed on a pro rata basis between the’ growers in each of the States.
Clause agreed to. -
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Order of the Day for the resumption of the- debate on motion by Senator Millen -
That the papers be printed.
Read and discharged.
Subsidy to Western Australian Applegrowers - Public Service Classification - Expenditure on Naval Bases - Shipbuilding - Fixing or Meat Prices - Select Committee on Intoxicants - The War and Recruiting.
– In moving - ‘
That the Senate do now adjourn,
I take this opportunity of supplying, as far as I am able, some of the information which was sought during the earlier por tion of this sitting. Senator Pratten asked a question in regard to the payment of a .Government subsidy upon Western Australian’ apples. The reply to his inquiry is -
With a view to assisting Western Australian growers in placing their apples on the Sydney market, the Government agreed that payment would be made, up to a maximum of 9d. per case, in the event of the average price not reaching 7s. 6d. per case for fruit of standard export quality, properly graded and packed. This sum represents the difference between the freight from Fremantle to Sydney and the freight from Hobart to Sydney.
asked for information in regard to a question as to Public Service Classification which he submitted some days ago. I learn from the Acting Prime Minister ( Mr. Watt) that the preparation of that reply would involve a very long investigation, and the Acting Prime Minister would, therefore, be glad if the honorable senator would let him know the object of his question, as possibly the desired information might be obtained without so seriously trespassing upon the time of the staff attached to the Prime Minister’s office. Should circumstances so shape themselves that honorable senators have an opportunity of taking a holiday, which I trust they will both enjoy and benefit by, I desire to express the earnest hope, which I am sure is shared by everybody present, that when we reassemble the tide of victory will be flowing strongly in the Allies’ favour, and that peace will have been brought distinctly nearer.
– To-day Senator Pratten addressed to the Minister ‘representing the Minister for the Navy a question in connexion with the criticism of the Public Accounts Committee in regard to current expenditure on our Naval bases. The honorable senator desired to know whether the Government would, during the recess, carefully consider the policy now being pursued in connexion with these large works. The answer placed in my hands is the curt one, “Yes.” It has the merit of brevity, but I am sorry to say that in this instance brevity is not the soul of wit, for I am informed that’ this was not the answer which should have been attached to the question. I have been asked by the Minister representing the
Minister for the Navy to supply the honorable senator with the following answer : -
These matters, were carefully considered by the Government many months ago, and the policy of construction has been substantially -changed.
.- In speaking upon the Supply Bill yesterday I stated that twelve months ago certain firms in Tasmania had offered to build wooden ships for the Government, but that their offerhad been turned down. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) affirmed that my statement was not correct. I have since been informed by the Minister controlling shipbuilding that he can only find an offer to build vessels of 900 tons. I learn from Mr. Mcwilliams, however, that though there may not be any official documents relating to this matter, shipbuilders from Tasmania waited upon the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), and offered to build wooden vessels of 3,000 tons, and possessing certain accommodation, upon the Government undertaking to pay half their cost as the work progressed up to the time of completion. Mr. Mcwilliams assures me that that information is correct, and that is the reason why I made the statement which I did yesterday.
Another matter which I desire to have cleared up relates to an ‘ offer by somebody more than twelve months ago to build concrete ships. The statement that such an offer was ever made has also been denied. But I am informed that more than a year- ago the firm of Stone offered to build these vessels, and that their offer was declined. Now the Prime Minister has gone to America, and proposes to pay a bounty to the patentees’ of this class of vessel, although similar ships can be constructed here equally as well. I object to bounties being paid to people outside of the Commonwealth when our own people are qualified to carry out this class of work just as efficiently. I learn from the newspapers that a staff of workmen is to be sent from America to undertake the construction of these vessels. That is another experiment which should’ not be undertaken by the Government at this time.
The Japanese are about to build thirty steel vessels of 10,000 tons each, and I suppose of 3,000 horse-power or more. They do not adopt the principle of paying bounties to the people of other countries to do work for them. But directly we wish to get anything done the practice is to rush away to some other country to secure men to do it. Whether we want to print a stamp or a £1 note, or to make a wooden leg we send to some other country to get men to do the work. I protest against the payment of bounties to people in other parts of the world when we have equally skilled workmen in Australia. When I visited the shipbuilding yards in the Old Country I saw men doing things there for which a man employed in the Commonwealth shipyards would have been dismissed. I have seen a better process of steel moulding carried out at Eveleigh workshops and at Cockatoo than I. saw there. When I can go from Australia and witness that sort of thing, I feel bound to enter my protest against sending to other parts of the world for men to perform work which can be better performed by our own Australian workmen.
– As one of the representatives of New South Wales, I avail myself of this opportunity to enter my most emphatic protest against the proposal of the Government to subsidize Western Australian fruit-growers in the matter of shipping fresh apples to Sydney. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) has said that it is proposed to pay this subsidy under the authority conferred by regulations. But I would point out. that any differentiation as between State and State is a violation both of the spirit and the letter of our Constitution. There is a proposal to give Western Australian fruit-growers a bounty of 9d. a case on all fresh apples sold in the Sydney markets at less than 7s. 6d. per case. There is no proposal to give a bounty to Western Australian growers for shipping apples to Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, or Hobart. It is, therefore, practically a differentiation in favour of the Western Australian apple-growers against the apple-growers of New South Wales. We have just passed a Bill in, I think, record time, the second reading of which I supported, because it applied to the whole of the fruit-growers of Australia. But this proposal for domestic legislation is causing much concern amongst the fruit-growers of New South
Wales. There are just as good applegrowing areas, and as good apples grown, in New South Wales as anywhere else on the continent of Australia. If New South Wales members do not come here and ask for differentiation for their State it is not because- they do not want assistance for their industries, but because they are big Australians, and would be ashamed to ask for differential treatment. I say deliberately that if this proposal is carried out by the Government it will be contrary to section 51 of the Constitution, of which paragraph iii provides that the Commonwealth Parliament shall have power to grant -
Bounties on the . production or export of goods, but so that such bounties shall be uniform throughout the Commonwealth.
The bounty proposed to be given by the Government to the Western Australian apple-growers is not uniform. It is given only to growers in Western Australia, and only for the purpose of further dumping on the Sydney market. I have received the following protest from the Fruitgrowers Union of New South Wales: -
Whilst we are in sympathy with the Western Australian growers in their disabilities owing to war conditions, we have to point out that
Ave also are labouring under disabilities from the same cause, in common with all the States. For instance, Tasmania and Victoria export heavily under normal conditions, but on account of war conditions are compelled to dump on our market the bulk of their fruit, which would otherwise have been exported. With the addition of 100,000 cases coming also from Western Australia, the supply will so far exceed the demand that very low prices will rule, thus preventing the local grower from obtaining even a reasonable price for his product. We consider that, in fairness to the local grower, who will have to contribute his portion of the subsidy in addition to meeting the increased competition, he also should receive a bonus.
I am not here to advocate a bounty for the apple-growers of New South Wales, but I am here to protest most emphatically against this differentiation being made between the States, and against the insertion of the thin end of the wedge of what, I fear, will possibly be political patronage and political pull. I hope the Government will carefully reconsider their . decision before anything of this nature is done. As I view the matter, the New South Wales fruit-growers have only to go to the High Court to have this proposed action of the Government declared ultra vires. I ask the Government, in fairness, to remember that there is such a place as New South Wales, and that there are such people as applegrowers in New South Wales. I beg them not to encourage further dumping on the Sydney market, and, whatever legislation they may pass by regulation, to make it uniform throughout the States.
– If it applied uniformly to allthe States, would that help the New South Wales apple-grower?
– As suggested by the New South Wales growers, they also should be given, a bounty to export to the Western Australian market. I believe that this matter covers a sum of only about £3,000 or £4,000, but I look on it as a most dangerous precedent for the Government, to create. If this policy is pursued, and every State which is suffering owing to the war in regard to some particular industry comes to the Government for relief, we shall find ourselves involved in unknown complications. From the high stand-point of national necessity it is extremely inadvisable for the Government by regulation to do things of this sort, which mean, perhaps, increasing the political pull of a particular section of this Parliament.I protest against it, because it is unfair to the New South Wales fruit-growers, and contrary to the spirit of the Constitution.
– I am not going to enter any protest, emphatic or otherwise, about apples or anything else, because I know my protest would be fruitless. I am surprisedthat Senator Pratten has thought fit to object to the bounty of 9d. a case on apples from. Western Australia. So far as apples are concerned, I am not in any political “pull.” I did not know there was one until Senator Pratten told me. I always thought he was a big Aus- . tralian, and did not object to apples grown in Western Australia, Tasmania or New South Wales.
I thank the Leader of the Senate for his courtesy in reply to my inquiries about the questions I put to him yesterday regarding the classification in the Clerical Division of the Public Service. 1 am at a loss to know how I can give him any more information than 1 have already given, with a viewto obtaining replies from him. I asked him to let me know -
If I can submit those questions in any other way, I shall be very glad to do so, if it will assist the Minister to furnish mc with replies.
Seeing that we are now a happy family, and that there is no dissension among us, only Senator Guy, Senator Barker, and myself humbly representing the .Opposition on this side, before we go into recess ‘for two or three months, will the Leader of the Senate answer the question I put to him this morning at about ten minutes past 3 o’clock? -
Has the Government yet decided what the, will do with the second report of the’ InterState Commission regarding the fixation of the prices of meat?
The honorable senator said then that he had not had time to consult his colleagues as to the probable decision of the Government. I respectfully asked him if he had any intention of doing so. He looked angry, although he was not angry, and declined to pursue the matter further. Since the adjournment this morning it is possible that the Minister has had some sleep and has had an opportunity of consulting his colleagues, so I would like to know if he can now say when it is likely that the Government will nut their policy into operation.
– Yesterday I made a request to the Minister in charge of the Senate (Senator Millen) to which I received no reply, and as the Minister was then dealing with a matter of greater importance I am not offering any complaint that he overlooked my request. So I now ask, if the Minister can inform . me if the Committee, of which I am Chairman, will he provided with the money necessary to finish their work. I am not asking at this moment for the money itself. A letter has been sent to the President, who has forwarded it on to the Government, and I simply ask now when we may get a reply either one way or the other. We are going into recess, and, naturally, members of the Committee are anxious to utilize to the best advantage any opportunities that may be afforded them by the recess either to pursue their inquiries and finish their work, or else to attend to other duties. I recognise, of course,, that, as far as the nation is concerned, this request is not a matter of great fundamental importance, but <I do ask that during the recess the Government should do something in connexion with the drink traffic so as to insure the greatest efficiency for the military effort we are putting forward. If, during the recess, they are not prepared to do anything, I feel sure they will be confronted with a good deal of indignant hostility from a” large section of people who are at present their very loyal supporters. It is necessary, in my opinion, that something should be done. Let me quote from the Argus, a newspaper which is not regarded as a church organ, or as representative of temperance organizations generally. In a sub-leader which appeared recently in that journal there appeared this statement -
The drunkenness of soldiers in uniform is becoming a great scandal.
There are those who have suggested that the Intoxicants Committee desired in* some way to blacken the characters of those men who had done so much for us.
– I think that is a great exaggeration. Drunkenness amongst soldiers in uniform is, I am glad to say, very rare.
– I point out to the Minister for Defence that the Committee did not say this. The statement is contained in a sub-leader which appeared in the Argus newspaper, and the concluding paragraph read -
It is certainly a reproach to the community that the present state of affairs should exist, and it will be a graver reproach to the Defence authorities if -they have to admit their inability to stop the evil.
I take it that, during the recess, a good deal will be done in connexion with recruiting.
– I hope so.
– And I hope it will be very successful. I might be pardoned if I read, for the information of the Senate, an answer given by a witness
– Order! I have allowed the honorable senator to discuss the matter, at considerable length, but he cannot be permitted to read extracts from the report of the Committee, seeing that a motion with respect to the finding of the Committee is on the business-paper. The honorable senator is not in order in anticipating any discussion on that subject.
– I do not wish in any way to controvert your ruling, Mr. President, but I wanted to quote the exact words for the sake of accuracy.
– The honorable senator will be perfectly in order in making an illustrative reference to the matter, but he must not discuss it at this stage.
– I think I can give the words used by one of the witnessses before the Committee without actually quoting them. Professor ‘ Mclntyre, who, a little while ago, was Director of Recruiting in New South Wales, said that, in his opinion, the drinking habits, and the fact that the Government were not taking greater action in regard to the matter, was affecting recruiting. I have no doubt that, in view of the position occupied by Professor Mclntyre, the Government would naturally pay a good deal of attention to what he had to say. As the Minister is aware, there are throughout Australia a number of influential churches, which have been most loyally behind the Government ever since the war started. They have supported the Government without qualifi- cation and without reservation. Their pulpits have been used as sounding boards, even on Sundays, for recruiting purposes. They have, in season and out of season, pleaded and argued the justice and righteousness of this war ; and I think the Minister will recognise that they have done a great deal for recruiting in Australia. As one who can speak with a certain amount of authority in regard to this matter, I say advisedly that there is a good deal of rumbling and thundering of° discontent amongst those churches because of the Government’s inaction. One of the most prominent ministers expressed his views regarding the discontent to me. He said -
Our churches have been bled almost white of the bravest, noblest, and best of our lads, and yet on this great question of minimizing the evils of drink the Government are doing practically nothing; and now it has come to the straining point with us, it is time they should do a great deal more than they have done.
I trust that whatever happens to the Committee, the Government will endeavour to grapple with the situation and see that something is done. Then they will earn the thanks and praise of those who have loyally supported them and are now looking to them for courageous action in rendering all possible help in this time of crisis.
.- As a member of the Intoxicants Committee I hope that whatever procedure is necessary to acquaint it as to its future will be undertaken promptly. I have given up one or two engagements to free myself for further investigations if the Committee is to make them. One does not care to be kept in suspense in such circumstances. I hope the Committee will continue its investigations. It will be a serious reflection on the Senate if, after unanimously carrying a resolution for the appointment of the Committee, it now turns round and says it has no sympathy with that body, and will not permit it to continue and complete its labours. I do nob think the Government - will take that attitude.
– Senator Needham repeated a ‘question which he has pressed upon my notice two or three times during the past few days. He seemed to suggest that between the hour of the Senate’s adjournment early this morning and its re-assembling this afternoon, Cabinet could have met and have gone into the matter, which is admitted by all to be very complicated. It is possible that Senator Needham, as a member of a Cabinet, .might have brought about a meeting in such circumstances; but I frankly, and without shame, admit that I have not been able to do so.
As to Senator Thomas’ proposition, he referred to some communication having been sent to the Government. I have noknowledge of that, but I recognise the reasonableness of the request that the honorable senators upon the Committee should be put out of their misery at the earliest possible moment. It is” quite a fair thing that they should know where they stand. I undertake within the next few days to see that a definite decision is arrived at, and that the Committee shall be acquainted forthwith of our determination.
Senator McDougall reiterated his complaint that some offer from Tasmania to build wooden ships’ had been turned down. The only knowledge that I have as to that kind of proposition is in respect of one to which Senator McDougall himself alluded - namely, as to ships which were considered quite toosmall to be of material value. And this offer was coupled with the further proposition that the Government should find the whole of the money and finance the enterprise, but that that was to be so set out that, while the Government bore the whole of the loss, any profits, if they accrued, were to go into the pockets of those who made the offer. I do not think the Government should be held under censure for having turned down such a proposal. Senator McDougall referred also to an offer to build concrete ships in South Australia. My remarks at the. present moment apply to that offer also. Neither was a sound business proposition. When Senator McDougall remarked that he objected altogether to the payment of bounties to companies and firms, his attitude was contradicted by his own observations in denouncing the Government for objecting to pay bounties in respect to this particular subject.
Senator Pratten referred to my reply to his inquiry concerning a matter dealing with apples. He misunderstands the purpose and reason underlying the decision of the Government to maintain a ratherbadly shaken industry. Perhaps the fault is my own, but I did not mention that the attitude of the Government was adopted under these circumstances: Western Australian apple-growers were left in a parlous position owing to the action of the Federal Government in withdrawing from the Western Australian trade those two boats which have previously carried the larger portion of their crop eastward. Those boats were withdrawn, too, just at the time when the whole of the sea traffic was being more and more restricted. It was put to the Government that unless something was done to neutralize the effect of this withdrawal of tonnage the outlook would be serious. The Government have done as they did in other directions. It was felt that it would be to the national advantage, if not a matter of necessity, that everything should be done, regardless, even, of uniformity and, perhaps, of the strict letter of the law; and that it was an obligation laid upon the Government to do what they could to keep the various industries of Australia going throughout this time of war.
– How does that, affect my point, to give a bonus upon freight on all apples sold in Sydney?
– No . State has had its exporting facilities so seriously disturbed as Western Australia. This is not the first time the Government have taken action after this manner. Exactly the same procedure was carried out as regards wheat for Tasmania. The Government should not be held blameworthy if, under the special circumstances, rather than see . an industry go down, they took steps to preserve from absolute ruin a large section of the community. If Senator Pratten will look into the matter again, and forget that communications have been received from his and my constituents in New South Wales, he will take the larger view - of which he is certainly capable - and will come to the conclusion that if he were seated a few yards further along the bench this way he would adopt exactly the same attitude.
I desire to say just one word more, with respect to recruiting during the brief recess upon which we are now entering. Speaking for my colleague, the Minister in charge of Recruiting (Mr. Orchard), and on behalf of the whole Government, we hope that every effort will be made during the cessation of parliamentary duties to quicken the recruiting movement - remembering that men were never so badly needed as now.
The Government hope that every member of this Parliament will put in what time he can during the recess in order that we may see if it is possible yet for Australia to secure for the boys who are fighting at the Front the reinforcements they so badly need and which we have so frequently promised.
– Before putting the motion I desire to explain for the information of Senator Thomas, Senator Guy, and the other members of the Select Committee that has been referred to that, immediately I received the letter from the Committee setting forth the need for more money to enable them to pursue their investigation, I forwarded it on to the Treasurer (Mr. Watt), with a request for early consideration. That I have not sent a reminder to the Treasurer, or acquainted the Senate with the delay, is due to the fact that I recognised - as every one must - that during the last week Ministers have had a strenuous time and have been very’ fully occupied with’ the work of Parliament. ‘’ i
I join with the Leader of the Senate (Senator Millen) in expressing the hope that when we reassemble the Angel of Peace will have a little better opportunity of extending his wings throughout the world than he has at the present time. I hope that peace will be brought about by the triumph of the Allied arms, that our safety will be assured, and that we shall meet again under happier auspices.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 5.8 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 June 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1918/19180615_senate_7_85/>.