7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m, and read prayers.
.- By leave, I move -
That the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia . expresses’ its sorrow at’ the loss which has befallen the British Empire in general, and the Union of South Africa in particular; by the death of the ‘Right Honorable the Prime Minister . of : the iTJnion, ‘General Louie Botha, patriot, soldier, statesman, and empirer-builder, nnd extends its sympathy to the people of the sister Dominion.
In submitting this motion for, I . am. sure, the unanimous ‘ yet regretful acceptance of the Senate, I ask leave to make a few remarks regarding the gentleman who is the subject ofit. It is no exaggeration to say that General . Botha secured for himself a place in the ranks of those whom the world holds as its great -men. His career has been a remarkable one. The British Empire first knew him as its enemy, and later as its friend and loyal citizen. He compelled its ‘admiration in whatever position helield. As our enemy we learned to respect him, -and as our friend and our fellow citizen we learned to regard with esteem -everything that he has ‘done.
I should like to make special reference to the. great efforts which he -put ‘forth after ‘the ‘merging of South ‘Africa in the Empire, not only -‘to bring about unity among the discordant -factions in ‘that country, ‘but also to Tnake-that-portion of Africa a ‘loyal ‘integral portion of the ‘‘Empire ‘itself. From the moment that General “Botha accepted citizenship under “the Imperial ‘flag onwards he has been -as loyal -a citizen as ever walked or/served under it. Under great stress, and in the face . of ..great ‘temptations and -many complicafced difficulties, Ifchere was . never for a imoment a -sino-le treason to . suspect ‘that the loyalty’ -he manifested was notisincere tand deep.
Passing from that aspect of the “case, may I anake a reference Ito his jmilitary (achievements, ‘which -were *of mo -mean order? ‘ When the . recent war rbroke out, in 1914, if there was any . portion of the world in which Germany hoped, more . confidently than elsewhtere that the flag of rebellion would “be raisecl, it was South Africa. It is true that -a flag was raised there when General Botha . raised the British flag to take the place of the German flag which, as a result of his successful operations, was ‘hauled ‘down in what had been German territory. That military undertaking marked -.General T3otha as a man of high . military qua^fications ; as is admitted by those who are competent to speak as to his achievements on that occasion. But what -he -did there was in no -sense more valuable or more difficult than that which he did when he visited Europe, and as amember of the Peace Conference showed himself to be as broad minded and as capable of taking a strong stand in the field of statesman-‘ ship as he had on the field of battle.
General Botha’s services to the . Empire may, perhaps, be . expressed in . a phrase by saying that in a. time of crisis he became a great stabilizing influence in. the “Empire. We in Australia claim it a special privilege to unite with his fellow citizens of South Africa in placing upon record our sense . of loss, and our . great appreciation of his ‘.life’s service.
Ihave no . doubt “that before long:monu- ments will ibe erected to his . memory, but nothing ithat sculptors or painters-may do will ; erect -a monument so . lasting and jidble as that -Which lhe : has : establishfid -by his town life!s work.
.- It as with -great . -regret that T “rise to second ‘the -motion of the Leader of ‘.the “Senate. On behalf of . honorable senators on this side, I say.that we regret very much to . hear , of the. death ‘of this, distinguished . soldier -and statesman. He was a relentless foe when, opposed to us, but always chivalrous to : those whom he was . fighting. When he felt called . upon . recently, in defence of the ^British ‘Empire, to turn. against those who had ‘been associated with ‘him in ithe “Boer Army - df which he had ‘had command - he pursued them just as relentlessly as he ‘.had pursued the British when opposed . to . them. He -was a man who struck always for the . right,, and . never for might.
We resrret that, after his experiences lin thesgreat war:that has just ended. -and after going’ . through the . preat battles of the . Peace Conference, and fighting for the interests of his Dominion, the . great scythe bearer bore down upon him. almost immediately after . he got . back to his home in his beloved country. Death waits for no . man and seeks no man. but eventually we all fall into his net. We regret the death . -of General Botha. We are sorry . that ‘he has gone, ‘but >we -prize the opportunity to -offer this expression of sympathy to’ those he has left behind.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable ‘senators standing in their places.
– I askthe Leader of the Senate whether it is the intention of the Government during the present session to introduce a Bill to make provision for a superannuation fund for the Public Service?
– I am not in a position to answer that question at this juncture.
Drawback of Duty - Price of Java Sugar
– I ask the Minister representingthe Minister for Trade and Customs is it correct, as announced in the Argus of this morning:, that a regulation was issued yesterday providing for drawbacks of dutv upon imported sugar used in the manufacture of biscuits in Australia under certain conditions If it is correct, is it intended to extend that system of drawbacks to other industries, such as the manufacture of jam ?
– I shall try to let the honorable senator have the information he seeks on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs whether he will inquire into the report that the President of the Perth Chamber of Commerce yesterday stated that sugar could have been bought last year in Java at £10 per ton and afterwards at a minimum of £12 per ton? Will the Minister make some inquiries with the object of synchronizing the dates referred to in the statement of the President of the Perth Chamber of Commerce and the dates of purchases by the Commonwealth Government ?
– The paragraph referred to was not brought under my notice, but I shall look into it and make inquiries for the honorable senator.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.Following up the question I asked yesterday, and the statement of the Acting Minister for Defence that the defence policy of the Government is still under consideration, I ask whether that consideration has sufficiently advanced to en able the Government to give us an assurance that conscription for oversea service will not form a part of the Government policy ?
– I must decline to make an announcement of Government policy in answer to a question.
Reduction of Ores
– I ask the Leader of the Senate what is the intention of the Government in the matter of compelling owners of base metal ores in Western Australia to send them to eastern refineries at a high cost for freight? As an alternative to that policy, will the Government consider the advisability of erecting reduction works in Western Australia for the treatment, of ores won there? .
– The honorable senator is aware of the nolicy adopted by the Government some time ago. Since that time, I understand that representations were made to the Treasurer (Mr. Watt) during his recent stay in Western Australia, and, as a result, on the return of the peripatetic Ministers, the matter referred to by the honorable senator may be considered at an early date, and the decision announced.
– Arising out of the question, I ask whether the same provision will be made to apply to the Tarcoola field and the mineral belt along the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway ?
– I have no doubt that the Government will give every consideration possible to the stimulation of the production of mineral wealth in Australia.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will the Government introduce and afford Parliament an opportunity this session to deal with the amendment of the Public Service Act in the particulars referred to in previous questions and replies of this session?
– It is not possible at this juncture to give the honorable senator a definite reply to his question.
Motion (by Senator O’Keefe) agreed to-
That leave of absence for two months be granted to Senator Guy on account of ill-health.
Bill received from House of Represen tatives, and (on motion by Senator Russell) read a first time.
Message received from House of Repre sentatives intimating that it had agreed to the Senate’s amendments in the Bill.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 28th August, vide page 12035) :
Second schedule - 10. (1) No person shall sell any wool or tops except through or to or with the consent of the Central Wool Committee. . . .
Amendment (by Senator Lt. -Colonel O’Loghlin) negatived -
That the following new sub-regulation be added to regulation 10: - “ (3) The Central Wool Committee shall make arrangements to enable bond fide country wool buyers to purchase wool to an amount equal to the average of wool purchased by them during the three years prior to the war.”
– Regulation 13a sets out that in certain circumstances an offence is committed and I wish to be quite clear on a matter that at present is somewhat indefinite. Yesterday I moved an amendment in connexion with the possibility of the imposition of a penalty of six months’ imprisonment under certain circumstances. That is the penalty provided in the Bill from beginning to end. I was informed by the Minister that the penalty is not a new one, and that it has been in operation during the whole time the regulations have been in force. I must confess that I have not been able to see eye to eye with the Minister, and I would like further information as to . whether his statement is correct or not.
– The schedule covers the whole of the regulations in regard to penalties. The provision referred to by Senator Pratten has. been in existence from the first day the War Precautions regulations came into operation, and the maximum penalty is £100, or six months’ imprisonment. The regulations are merely a copy of those in the original Act. Section 3 of the Acts Interpretation Act, which applies to all our Acts of Parliament, reads -
The penalty, pecuniary ot other, set out - (a) at the foot of any section of any Act; or
at the foot of any sub-section of any section of any Act, but net at the foot of- the section, shall indicate that any contravention of the section, or of the sub-section respectively, whether by act or omission, shall be an offence against the Act, punishable upon conviction by a penalty not exceeding the penalty mentioned.
Provided that where the penalty is expressed to apply to a part only of the section, it shall apply to that part only.
– I move -
That the words “ or tops “ in regulation 18, sub-regulations (1), (1a), and (3) (c) be left out.
Yesterday, in the course of the Committee’s proceedings, the Minister definitely stated that he could not accept any amendment whatsoever in connexion with the schedules of the Bill. He said, in effect, that he must have every “i” dotted, and every “t” crossed, and that, rightly or wrongly, he was going to put it through. Under these circumstances I content myself by moving my amendments so that they may be recorded for future reference. It. is not my desire to waste the time of the Committee under the circumstances stated “by the Minister.
– I move-
That regulation 18a be left out.
This appearsto be an undue interference with the liberty of theSubject, and might, under certain circumstances,be construed tomean that no communication could be sent to any newspaper in any part of the world regarding the wool industry of Australia. It is unnecessary, narrow, arbitrary, and tyrannical.
– I also enter my protest against this regulation. If it should benecessary to confine the operations of the officers of the Wool Board to ‘the work of appraising, and not to allow them towrite to any newspaper, I strongly object to the Chairman of the Wool Committee being the sole adjudicator in such cases. The chairman is set up as a “ Poo-Bah “ and a “king,” and is above the Government, ‘the Minister, and Parliament. Members of this Parliament, who are representatives of the people, have endeavoured to see correspondence of the Wool Board, but this “king” who is chairman of the Wool Committee says that it is not to be available to members, and even the Minister falls on his knees before him. I am not saying that ‘the Chairman of theWool Committee has not done good work, but he should not have such arbitrary power. I am in favour of the whole regulation being left out. I intended amending re gulation 18a by striking out “the Chairman of the Central Wool Committee,” with a view to inserting “the Minister.” The regulation would then read -
A wool appraiser shall not act, without the consent of the Minister, as a correspondent for any newspaper, magazine, review, or journal.
It is quite possible that officers may be in a position to give information that should not be circulated outside Australia, and the authority who should prevent that being done is the Minister, who represents the Government, and not the chairman of the Wool Committee, who is there to carry out the instructions of the Government. Whenthe Chairmanof the WoolCommittee refuses to allow honorable members of this Parliament to peruse correspondence whichis of vital interest to the country, he is exceeding his powers and placing the administration of the Governmentin a farcical position.
– Senator McDougall, in supporting the amendment, said he would not object if the word”Chairman”were eliminated! and theword “Minister” inserted. But that would simply be placing the Minister in thepositionoccupied by the Chairmanof the Central Wool Committee, and I do not: approve of that.
SenatorMcDougall. - It would be better than atpresent.
– That may be so, but it is not. in accord with our ideasof freedom. No man should have authority to restrictany other Oman’sfreedom of expression within reasonable bounds.
-Under thisregulation, if a man did indulge in criticism hemight be imprisoned for sixmonths.
– I cannot understand why the regulationhas beenmadeIt places the chairman of the Central Wool Committeef or the time being in an absolutely autocratic position. I do not deny that Sir John Higgins has done splendid work for Australia, but I object to making him anabsolute autocrat.
– It may well happen under this regulation that if a person does not writefavorably, according to theviews of the Chairman, he shall not be allowed to write at all.
– Undoubtedly. If that is not the meaning of the regulation, I should like to know what its realmeaning is. For the present I intendtosupport the amendment.
– I thought the meaning was obvious. Honorable senators must,. of course, know that persons handling a very large amount of property under the various Pools- obtain possession of a considerable amount of . confidential information, and it is reasonable to ex,pect that they shall preserve secrecy with respect to these transactions. In connexion with price fixing and other Commonwealth Departments, we have found it absolutely necessary to extend reasonable protection to people who have furnished information. If we had not given this bond of secrecy much of the information would not have been made available to us, because we were dealing with a very touchy business. The same may be said of the regulation now under notice. In the early days’ most of the newspapers had wool appraisers acting as correspondents. Under this scheme some of those were taken over, and it is only right that they should be required not to publish information which comes into their possession as Commonwealth wool appraisers. Upto the present there has been no abuse of the power conferred upon the Chairman of the Wool Board by virtue of this regulation:
– But is this not a form of censorship?
– It may be, but the’ same principle is observed in the Price Fixing Department. Men give evidence on oath, and those hearing the evidence- are undera pledge not to divulge information thus given. This is necessary in1 order to safeguard competitors in business. In connexion with shipping matters, I have seen rivals in business sitting round a table at a conference to deal with difficult problems that were confronting the Commonwealth, andthey were most reluctant to give away any information which might be of value to their rivals. But frequently after such conferences I have been given valuable information in confidence.
– But has not censorship been abolished ?
– This is not censorship.
-Colonel O’Loghlin. - It is a continuation of the system.
– We do not allow civil servants to hold two positions.. And, likewise, if a man is employed by the Wool Committee he should not. be what might be regarded as a black-leg pressman.No map serving in a. professional capacity, and. doing the work of the Wool Committee, should act as a press correspondent. in respect of: these particular matters. I ask honorable senators to allow the regulation to. stand. It may not be so important now, but it was essential during the period of the war, when we were censored by the British Governsment and not allowed to state the destination of our wool. This information has only been released this year.
. -Every honorable senator . will agree with the’ Minister that reasonable safeguards should be adopted to prevent information from being imprqperly divulged; but I contend that the regulation goes too far. The position might be met if there were a provision that any wool appraiser must not divulge information which would be detrimental to the interests of the Committee or the Commonwealth.
– An appraiser signs a bond giving that undertaking when appointed.
– I maintain that this regulation places an absolutely autocratic power in the hands of the Chairman of the Wool Board for the time being, and that is not advisable, because he may be able to prevent some appraiser from doing what he might have every right to do.
– I admire the resource with which the Minister endeavours to buttress what I consider to be an untenable position. On page 17 there is set out a form for the appraiser to sign before his appointment. Amongst other things, he is required to promise that -
I will faithfully, and to the best of my ability, perform the duties imposed upon me as appraiser, and that I will not, except in the course of . my duty, disclose any information which comes into my possession in the course of my duties us appraiser, and that I will not without the consent of the Chairman of the Central’ Wool Committee, net as a correspondent for any newspaper, magazine, review, or journal.
Obviously, the last paragraph restricts the appraiser’s freedom as a citizen of the Commonwealth.
– Do you object to the form on page 17 ?
– I object to the last portion of it which restricts the freedom of an appraiser outside of his duties, and I remind the Minister that in the Income Tax Department, in the Customs Department, in banks, and various other trading institutions officers there employed are also called upon to’ sign a bond of secrecy concerning information that comes into their possession in the course of their duties. But nobody says that an employee in the Income Tax Department, the Customs Department, a bank, or any of the other institutions I have mentioned shall not, “ without the consent of the Commissioner of Taxation, the Minister for Customs, the manager of a bank or institution, act as a correspondent for a newspaper, review, or journal.”
– If an appraiser wanted to act as a political correspondent he might be prevented under this regulation.
– The incidence of this regulation is to prevent anything being written in any magazine or journal in any part of the world unless it be in praise of the wool scheme. It is a kind of Prussian regulation.
.- A pretty little storm in a tea-cup is raging. In the past, appraisers employed by various wool companies have been in the habit of supplying the press with the firm’s lists of sales and prices. The newspapers do not specially employ men to attend wool sales, and to call at the various wool houses, for these particulars. The commercial editor attached to each big newspaper receives reports direct from wool-classers or appraisers attached to private companies. Those same woolclassers and appraisers are now placed under certain restrictions. They have become official appraisers. They may not now provide the commercial columns of newspapers with trade particulars unless by consent of the chairman of the Wool Committee. My son is an appraiser under the wool scheme. He had been in the habit of supplying the commercial editors of the big newspapers with information concerning wool sales and prices. No hardship is involved in the present restriction. There is no censorship, and no one is interfered with. It is simplv a safeguard - a matter of control. The con trol is quite unnecessary, in my view ; but there is no friction. Therefore, why all this fuss ?
.- The guardian of the Government having concluded his flagellation of unfortunate, senators on this side for darin? to express their opinions, I feel hesitant in saying that I object to the regulation on the ground that it may prevent many a brilliant young journalist from writing a breezy story for Smith’s Weekly, or the Sunday Times, or some other of Sydney’s various Sabbath newspapers which provide a little spiritual comfort on the first day of the week. This restriction may have the effect of preventing a Melbourne correspondent from despatching a local letter to any Sydney newspaper. No wool appraiser is permitted to act as a correspondent.
– To act in the capacity of correspondent in relation to his duties as a wool appraiser.
– I know of no one having been interfered with by this restriction, but there is a principle involved ; and I trust that I have a right to voice my protest without being taken to task by Senator Reid.
– I believe in a shoemaker sticking to his last. Senator O’Keefe has had some experience in country newspaper offices . He is well aware that country correspondents for the big newspapers are generally local clergymen, or agents, or storekeepers, or civil servants. The perquisites attached to country correspondence on behalf of the metropolitan press should surely belong to men engaged in the journalist’s profession in rural centres. I do not think a wool appraiser should be permitted to act as correspondent to the press in relation to his business.
– If a wool appraiser were a country correspondent, this regulation would not prevent him from continuing so, except in relation to the wool business.
– It would naturally be deemed unfair, to say the least of it, if a person employed in a clothing house, who acted as correspondent for a clothing trade journal, were to supply information to the public through that magazine which disclosed the business methods of his firm.
Senator PRATTEN (New South. “Wales) Tll-54]. - I move -
That after regulation 21 the following new regulation be inserted : - “ 21 a. The- city of Newcastle shall be a centre for the appraisement and sale of wool.”
Prior to the establishment of the Wool Pool, Newcastle was a centre for appraisement. Centralization, however, has more and- more developed the interests of Sydney. The Committee stated in last year’s report -
The Central Wool Committee have been criticised in certain quarters through their refusals to increase the number of appraising centres, -and to approve of additional appraising houses for wool and sheepskins. The instructions received from the Director of Raw Materials on these points are definite and decided, and from which there can be no departure.
Then a little lecture is added, as follows : -
If those persons who agitate for additional appraising centres and wool-appraising houses would recognise what Australia owes to the Imperial Government for the purchase of the wool clip in face of .the dearth of shipping, they would cease to harass the Central Wool Committee, who are unable to alter the position’, and who must, as trustees of Imperial Government wool, adhere strictly to the requirements and directions of those controlling the British wool scheme-
Further reference is made to the same matter in the latest report. The omission from the activities of the Wool Pool of former centres of wool operations is not in accordance with the promises of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), made when the scheme was inaugurated.
– Centralization has not been due to the dictates of the Director of Raw Materials. The extract which Senator Pratten has quoted is only an expression of opinion. The view of the Director of Raw Materials is not binding. When the scheme was inaugurated, the Government were not sure whether the Wool Pool would continue for one year, or would extend for two or three years. There was nothing to justify the Government in launching upon huge commitments in expectation of a protracted war. It was decided, therefore, to utilize, as far as possible, those districts and ports and wool stores which were already concerned in the wool industry. Not since the days of modern wool-handling have there been any facili-ties for dealing with wool at Newcastle. Had it been realized that the Wool Pool was to extend its operations over so long a period, I, personally, would have, advocated the opening up of all the principal ports around Australia’s coast, in relation to the activities of the Committee. It would have been bordering upon madness had the Committee, in view of its restricted existence, set out to extend its operations in places where private enterprise had never been previously engaged. If the Wool Pool were to be permanently established, I should be- in favour of building wool stores at many of the remoter ports, particularly in the north of Queensland, and at such places as Wyndham and Geraldton, in the northwest of Western Australia, which are the natural outlets for the produce of wool districts.
– Is . the Minister setting up the position that no wool was exported from Newcastle before the war?
– There were no special facilities at Newcastle for handling wool from the railway to storage, and from there to the ships. The honorable senator is aware that a very considerable space is required for the setting out of wool for appraisement.
– A great deal of wool was exported from Newcastle before the wai1.
– I do not say that wool was not exported from Newcastle before the wai-. Wool sent direct from the station to the ship was exported, but wool was not stored at Newcastle -fox the purpose pf appraisement and sale and subsequent shipment from that port. No one is more anxious than I am to develop the outer ports of Australia. I have always been strongly opposed to the centralization of all trade in the State capitals. In my view, that is not the best national policy to pursue. The point’ is that for a two-years’ Pool no one could justify the expenditure of £10,000 or- £20,000 upon stores for the appraisement of wool at Newcastle. Private persons dealing with wool did not make use of facilities at Newcastle im that way before the war, and would not be likely to make use of them if they were provided now, unless there were some development of the trade and conditions which did hot exist before the war. If the Wool Pool did not. continue, and stores for -the appraisement ‘of wool were erected, as proposed, we should later on have some . honorable senators charging the Government with extravagance. In view of all the circumstances, it would be extravagant and unbusiness like at the present time to erect such stores at Newcastle. I have spoken of a cablegram which was received from the Old Country, and I should like to put it on record. It is as follows: -
Decode of Cablegramreceived from Dirawmat, London, dated 26th July, 1919.
Before commencement of new season’s operations consider it advisable to call special attention to necessity for maintaining without material alteration of any kind arrangements whichhave been so successfully established during the two preceding seasons in’the matter of appraisement centres and shipping ports, display,weighing, and appraisement conditions generally.
It is particularly important not only to conform to our contract withthe shipping company and other vital domestic . arrangements, but also to avoid any disturbance of our delicate arrangements withFrance, Italy and Belgium.
These Allies have beenpersuaded to accept your arrangements which are now familiar to them and anysubstantial alteration will seriously upset our international agreements.
I understand that the signature represents the ‘British Comptroller of RawMaterials. I do not suggest for a moment that it would upset international agreements if arrangements were made for the appraisement of wool at Newcastle as wellas atSydney, butI repeat that there havenever been provided atNewcastle the facilities necessary for the concentrationarid appraisement of wool. It would not be wise to go tothe expense of erecting stores at Newcastle for the purpose, when, unless the Wool Pool were established as a permanent institute,the Government wouldlay themselvesopen to a charge of extravagant expenditure.
.- I move-
That after regulation 21 the following new regulation be inserted: - “ 21a. The city ofRockhampton and the city of Townsville shall be centres for the appraisement of wool.”
I assume that, if arrangements aremade fortheappraisementof woolat these places,sales ofwool there will n aturally follow. If lack ofaccommodation -is a reason for declining to make Newcastle a centre for . the . appraisement of ‘wool, that reason certainly -does not apply to Rockhampton, ‘which is the shipping port for, at least, ‘50 per cent, of the . wool shipped from Queensland.
– T ani afraid . that the difficulty is that it is hard to induce ships to go there.
– No ; there is a deep-water port, which is connected with Rockhampton by rail.
– I was referring to the shortage of . shipping.
SenatorFERRICKS.- -I understand that the extra expense. entailed in sending all the Central Queensland wool to Brisbane for . appraisement . amounts . to at>out £1 per bale.
SenatorFairbairn. - Is that . by rail.?
– Yes. It -seem? to be a high charge, and “the honorable senator ‘will . agree that : it ‘must, : in “the aggregate, . amount . to a very considerable amountt df money. . If, Rockhampton were appointed as a centre ‘for appraisement, that additional expense could ‘be saved. It may . be . true . ihat the appraising staff -.is mot numerically . large, -but ‘the appraisers are virtually woolJclassers; and ; firnis dealing with wool in -Brisbane have braniGh (establishments at . Rockhampton, through which the ‘woEk . might -be done. Rockhampton, jas ; a port, is fortunately more advantageously situated : than me some of the . ports : inthe ‘Other : States. Whilst there has ; been ja . ‘desire on ithe part of some persons to divert all trade ; to Brisbane, ‘the ‘centralizing influence does not apply in Queensland ‘to ‘the same extent as, for instance, in New . –South Wales and Victoria, im ‘which ‘States all roads lead either to Sydney or to ‘Melbourne. In Queensland in the -past -the wiser course of decentralization has been assisted by the fact that in that State there ‘are at least four very important, extensive, and distinct railway systems, each, leading to the natural port of the district which it serves. In addition, there are half-a-dozen smaller railway systems all leading to ports.
It would be much easier and less expensive to appraise wool at Rockhampton than to send it to Brisbane for appraisement. ‘Rockhampton is a busy commercial port, and I take it that -the accommodation provider! there will be sufficient for. all. purposes. If it should be considered; impossible, or unwise to. make any change? at the present juncture I should like to emphasize the. inadvisableness of the Government entering into any further agreement whilst the present system prevails;, and; such important places’ as Rockhampton and Townsville are- not appointed . as appraisement centres; From a shipping- point, of view, Townsville is the third port in the Commonwealth, because of the great-tract of mineral, agricultural, and- pastoral, country behind it. It ranks next, in importance to Newcastle. The order of importance, from the shipping point off view, of Australian ports is Sydrey, Newcastle, and Townsville. From- a shipping point of view Townsville is more important than is: Melbourne. I should like- to remind: honorable senators that in addition: to provision.1 being made for the appraisement- and sale- of wool; in- Melbourne, to- which no one could- take’ exception,. Geelong., which: is- almost on1 the1 doorstep^ of r Melbourne-, is- also appointed an- appraising- centre. If it~> is: necessary that Geelong should be ‘made a centre for the appraisement and sale of wool-, it is far more- necessary- that- such’ places’ as Rockhampton audi Townsville” should: be treated in the same way:
The prospects of’ the development- »f shipping at Townsville in the future’ are very great. The Northern Railway is gradually being extended closer to the borders’ of the Northern Territory, and, as a result, it is reasonable- to assume that the breeding of cattle, except in the immediate Gulf country, will be replaced by the grazing of sheep in the north-west of Queensland, and even over the border into the Northern Territory. All the wool grown in this vast district must go to Townsville for shipment. That is a development of the Queensland trade in wool which should be borne in mind by those in authority. The fact that the Central Wool Committee does not deem it advisable to alter the present arrangements should not be allowed to influence the decision of the Government with regard to the future.
The shipment of wool from Townsville to Brisbane for appraisement involves- considerable additional expense and extra handling. Thr> wool has to be run from the railway trucks in- Towntvillo into the stores, and from there to the shipls side-, and on arrival; in Brisbane has to be landed,, transferred again to stores for appraisement; and then re-shipped. That kind of. centralization has been, the curse, of Australian development,, and. if the Government desire to promote decentralization my amendment - affords them an op^ portunity to do so.. They should not encourage the diversion of trade from, other, parts of Queensland to Brisbane when the work can be done as well, and- much, more cheaply,, in other cities of that State. In view of the’ very extensive coastline of Queensland ‘and the ports available, such centralization in Brisbane cannot be defended. I trust that the representations that have been made will be passed on for. consideration . by the responsible authorities when any re-arrangement of these matters is under consideration.
– There is a great deal in what Senator Ferricks has said about the handling: of wool, particularly’, in> Rockr hampton. The Wool Pool,, however, is to last, only up to 30th< June <of- next year, and- there would be great difficulty, in the way of. inducing the skilled buyers, who are. now. the appraisers, to go’ to Rockr hampton or Townsville.
– Would’ it not be easier for them to go there- than it is to bring- the wool down to them ?
– I do. not think so, and that is the weak, point in- the hon-i orable ‘ senator’s argument. There would be ‘great trouble in inducing these men to take such a. long trip as would be neces? sary if they were called upon to appraise wool at Rockhampton or Townsville. There is only a limited number- of men engaged in ‘ this work, and they have a very great deal of work to do at the present time. They are the old buyers who used to . buy wool on commission, or for themselves as ; a speculation, and they have taken on this work . of appraisement until the open sales of wool are resumed. In view of the fact that the Pool will continue for only about eleven months more, it would be inadvisable to make any change at the present time. I -agree that if the Wool Pool were to- be continued as a permanent institution, it would be wise to have wool appraised in places like Rockhampton and Townsville:
– The Shipping Comptroller might not allow ships to goto Rockhampton.
– There are many difficulties in the way. If the Pool were to continue for a long period some rearrangement would certainly be advisable. I am rather in favour of Senator Ferricks’ amendment, but at present I am not prepared to support it. It would be the means of decentralizing the wool business of Queensland if appraising were done at various ports; but for private sales it would be difficult to bring about, because buyers like to have the wool brought to them. They have the key of the position in their own hands.
– In normal times, was not the competition sufficiently keen amongst the buyers to have made them visit the outports?
– In pre-war time, we had the greatest difficulty in getting them to visit Brisbane.
– So long as you took the wool to them, they would not go to the wool.
– New Zealand had a similar experience when they held sales at various coastal centres, as the buyers would not visit the outlying ports, or when they did, the wool offered did not bring the same price as in the main centres. Every fresh market tends to reduce the price. Wool buyers can go to Quensland in one saloon carriage, and, en route, have the opportunity of discussing business in combination.
– Was it not possible for them to have come to an honorable understanding in New Zealand?
– Possibly. If buyers were travelling to Rockhampton in the one carriage, it would be an eaS” matter for them to go through the catalogue, and say, “ This lot will be mine, and this lot yours.”
– Is it not likely that they came to an understanding to offer a lower price at outlying centres to encourage centralization ?
– Whatever was the cause, the actual effect was that the growers received less when their product was sold at outlying ports. From that point of view, it is worth considering whether we are justified in altering an arrangement which has only eleven months to run, and which cannot be carried on indefinitely, because the British Government will not continue to purchase in the way the growers desire. The task is too great for the British Government, because they find it difficult to handle our wool in conjunction with enormous shipments coming from other parts of the world. If the arrangement we are making was to cover a very long period, I would support Senator Ferricks, but as it is for only eleven months, I do not think it worth while.
.- There is really nothing against Senator Ferricks’ suggestion that wool should be shipped from Townsville or Rockhampton, but there appears to be some misunderstanding. The official appraisers who represent the European firms are only limited in number, and- if the -provisions of the Bill expire at the end of eleven months, a practical difficulty will be created. A limited number of buyers have a stipulated time in which to do their work. I was in the Queensland Parliament when a Bill authorizing the holding of sales in Brisbane was passed, and, in spite of every inducement offered, it took years before the buyers would purchase in Brisbane, as it interfered with their time-table.
– They would not go to Brisbane so long as the growers sent the wool to Sydney.
– It is not that altogether, and I am not backing up Brisbane, but simply pointing out’ the difficulty that existed. If the wool sales are to be held at widely separated centres, the European buying firms will have to appoint additional representatives, ‘ because they have not sufficient to be distributed over the buying centres, say, from Adelaide to Townsville, during the time the wool is under offer. After a time,, the buyers fell in with the arrangement, and Brisbane is now included in their schedule. At times the buyers have to hire a special train to get from Sydney to Brisbane to attend a sale, and occasion - ally have to rush back to Sydney by steamer.
– In their own interests, of course, like commercial travellers.
– That may be so; but there is a difficulty in inducing wool buyers to visit outside centres. The buyers have the key of the situation, because they are the only persons in the field, and do not have to contend with any opposition. I have investigated this question fully, and would like to support
Senator Ferricks. It must be remembered that if buying centres were established at Rockhampton and Townsville suitable buildings, with sufficient light, would have to be provided. Wool is not sent to Brisbane to be appraised, but to be sold. But before it is sold, it must be appraised. Some Rockhampton people think that wool is sent to Brisbane to be appraised, but it is sent there for sale. 1 have merely mentioned the difficulties that exist, so that honorable senators may be aware of the exact position.
.- I move-
That the following words be added to regulation 24 - “ with due regard to the incidence of all interests affected, and so that all trade methods and customs in practice in the period prior to the date the War Precautions (Wool) Regulations were made shall be permitted where not inconsistent with this Act, or any Regulations made hereunder supplementary’ thereto, and so that adequate provision is made for the treatment by scouring, combing, and carbonizing of the largest quantity of wool possible within the Commonwealth.”
We all agree that control must be continued temporarily, and that we should increase the quantity of wool treated in’ the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister said at the inception of the scheme -
All interests involved, including those of the manufacturer, scourer, and fellmonger will be safeguarded. The Government will interfere ns little as is absolutely necessary with the ordinary transaction of business.
The addition to the regulation which I have moved merely sets out that, in the opinion of the Senate, nothing shall be enacted in connexion with the wool regulations that will prejudice the possibility of doing the utmost towards the full development of our secondary wool industries.
– When did the Prime Minister make that statement?
– In Parliament, in December, 1916, at the inauguration of the scheme. May I draw the attention of the Committee to one or two facts in the reports of the Wool Committee which do not agree with the amendment I have moved? Paragraph 34 of the report of 1918 states -
The fellmongering and scouring industries have been carefully protected during the term under review. ….
I wish the Senate to carefully note the following words -
In paragraph 7 of the same report, it is stated -
The manufacturers of wool-tops for export carry on operations under arrangements with the Central Wool Committee, acting for the Commonwealth Government, whereby the latter receive a certain percentage of the profits earned, and are required to pay the full flat rate for all purchases of wool, the products, wool-tops, noils, and waste being sold on the parity of price fixed by the Director-General of Haw Materials, London.
A paragraph in another report states -
The tops are sold at a price fixed by the Army Contract Wool Committee, London,
In the Age the other day this paragraph appeared -
The local manufacturers were permitted to obtain their requirements at the appraised price.
The 1918-19 report states-
The privilege of purchasing wool at the appraised price was again extended to woollen manufacturers.
It appears that the wool regulations are being carried out at the orders of the British Government, and that the wool doled out to local manufacturers is thought to be the property of the British Government. We have been specifically told that the British Government did not purchase the whole of the clip, but onlythe surplus that was not required for local industries. I strongly object to the word “ privilege “ being used in connexion with wool tops for tweed manufacture. We have also been specifically told thatthe wool required for the manufacture of tops is not the property of the British Government, and has nothing whatever to do with the British wool purchases. I object to the wool scheme being administered in such a way as to make it appear that the British Government own everything, and that the DirectorGeneral of Raw Materials should lay down the policy upon which our secondary industries are to be built.
– That statement is incorrect. He does not dictate in any way. He gets the surplus sheepskins treated here.
– I have read extracts that prove the tendency of the administration is to do what the DirectorGeneral of Raw Materials in London orders the Central Committee to do.
– With regard to our local consumption and use. of. wool ?
– I have mentioned that thereport showsthat the “ privilege” has been extended, to the- wool manufacturers to get certain wools at the. appraised rata. I have shown-
– Is that an official report or a newspaper paragraph?
– It is a statement in the official report to the effect that the f ellmongering and scouring industries have been carefully protected during the time under review under instructions, received from the Director of Raw Materials. Who is the Director of Raw Materials ? He is Sir Arthur Home Goldfinch, K.B.E., and his record is -
Created K.B.E. 1918. Director of Raw. Materials, War Office. Born Valparaiso, Chile, 10th May, 1866; unmarried. . Educated privately. Entered the service of Duncan, Fox, and Company, general merchants, Valparaiso, 1881 ; became a partner’ of that firm (Liverpool, London; Chile, and:: Peru), 1903; retired from business/. 1913.; Liberal candidate for Colchester since 1914. Recreations.: - Walking, . motoring, and. bridge.. Address, 8 Rosecroftavenue, Hampstead, N.W. Club, New Oxford and- Cambridge, National Liberal.’
– Does the honorable senator intend to’ connect, his remarks with the subject before the Committee?
– Yes, Mr. Chairman, I intend to show the connexion. The information I have obtained about SirArthur Home Goldfinch is taken from Who’s Who for 1919, and I’ want to pointout that whenever any criticism or complaint is made about the operations of the - Central Wool Committee, we are met with the reply, “ The British Government.” By some people the term appears to beregarded as the word “Mesopotamia” wasby a- certain devout old lady. The instructions referred1 to are not those reiceived from Mr. Lloyd George, Lord Milner, Mr. Amery, or any other memberof the British Government; they are instructions given by the Director-General of Raw Materials, whose history I have just read for the information of - honorable senators. I say that close attention should be given to our. subsidiary industries, particularly that of wool-top manufacturing. My amendment is not inconsistent with anything the Prime Minister, has said. It is not even inconsistent with any of the regulations of the Act itself. It is consistent, I believe, with the desire. of every, honorable senator- that, we shouldincrease to, the. fullest extentithe scouring,, combing, andi carbonizing, of. as large, a: quantity as: possible.:, of our. own wool, within . the Commonwealth.
.’ - I think the amendment is unnecessary. The pledge has been given that, so far as possible, in all these commercial ‘ transactions, the usual trade practice shall be observed; but the operations of the Wool Pool have been such a complete revolution that it is almost impossible to observe all the old conditions. I again emphasize that we -are not dominated by the Director-General of- Raw Materials as to the local treatment of ! our- wool, or sheepskins’; but he has, in- fact, been a-, real, benefactor to the Australian industry, because, instead of importing into Great- Britain wool in. the grease, he.de– liberately set out- on a’ policy-‘ to give: as’> much work as possible* to the woolscour:ing plants of Australia. In this matter the Central Wool Committee have acted, as the agents. The same may be.- said, in regard to sheepskins. The British Government buy the surplus after all local requirements are. met,, and’ again the Central Wool Committee, act as. their agents. P am sure Senator Pratten is labouring’ under’ some- misapprehension. The policy of the Central Wool Committee has been to retain, as far as. possible, pre-war methods- and customs. ‘Iaii order to show how. operations have been extended, I’ may point out that, in 1917-18, 48,000 1 bales were f ellmomgered in New South Wales, and, in 1918-19, about 58,000 bales, the increase being nearly 10,000 bales, or 19.96 per cent.
– Does- the Ministerconsider that extraordinary in’ view of the small quantity, treated? ‘
– Perhaps not; but a good deal of the increase is due to the fact that the British Director-General of Raw Materials, instead of taking the whole quantity in the grease, or sheep-: skins without having them fellmongered, placed this work with Australian industries, thus providing employment in this country.
– I was quoting, from the official report.
-Ithinkthehon- orablesenatormust havemisinterpreted . the report, because the DirectorGeneral of RawMaterialshasno control. Thecontract provides,among other things,thattheBritish andCommonwealth Governmentsshallwork inharmony in regard to parityvalues ;that is to say,the Australian Government would notbe . permitted to sell wool tops at a ilowerparity thanthat ofGreat Britain to Japan.I need not go into the details of that proposal. The honorable senator knows thatoneor two aspects ofthat questioncannot very well be discussed just now. The only object the Government havein view is to complete. the contracts that have sheen entered into.
– But have you any objection to the amendment in principle?
– It will necessitate sending the Rill to another House ; and, -as amatter offact, the principle is already iin operation. T trust the’ Committee will reject the amendment.
.- I listened to the Minister’s. remarks -with reference to what he regards as . ‘Senator Pratten’s misinterpretation of the reports,. and T fail to.-see”.how the honorable senator . has . misinterpreted, at least,- one of . them. On.page’6, paragraph 34, it “is stated - .
The . fellmongering and scouring industries have been carefully protected during the time under review, consistent . with ‘the instructions received from -the Director-General of Raw Materials.
If that’ means ‘that the ‘Director- General of Raw “Materials in London -gave instruetions to the ‘Central Wool Committee to forward to ‘him scoured wool which lie might have taken in the greasy state, and thereby gave employment to the people in Australia, , the paragraph is badly worded. . Anybody, reading it would naturally ‘deduce that the protection of our local . industries depends on the ; goodwill o”f somebody in ‘-England.
– Ibis. is the point: Recently, the wools . were -sent . Home for treatment, and. the Central Wool Committee . induced the Director-General of Raw Materials . to have . the work done in Australia, and they . acted as his agent.
SenatorKEATING. - That is whatthe Minister . said, but that is not “what the report . says. The protection of our industries i depends, not on outside in-
Ifluences, but on ourselves. . The whole- of ithe wool clip of . Australia ias.not been committed /to ‘the Imperial authorities. They have . purchased only the surplus -in Australia after our own requirements nwere provided for; therefore, -we are free to ‘handle and deal with our own, require ments, though any one reading the report would imagine -that the protection of - our ‘local requirements was under the control, and at the disposition of, some authority who, after. all, was- only dealing with our surplus.
– If the British Government ‘had bought the whole of our clip and taken.it in the. grease, scouring in . Australia would have ceased. . But, by having, this work done here, that industry was protected.
– I think this is very badly expressed, and is calculated to mislead any one unacquainted with the circumstances. It implies that our disposal and ‘ treatment of our own requirements, in regard ‘to which we -are per - fectly free, is subject to the orders of some one . abroad. In regard to Australia’s own -wool tops requirements, - our local . peopleare only -.keeping within their irights,%even with.- respect to the. contract with the Imperial ‘authorities. But I can scarcely set down . to the responsibility of , the “Wool Pool Committee the employment of the phrase that . our manufacturers have been “ again extended the privilege.’’
– The Committee is directly (responsible . for tthe use . of the wordprivilege “.in ..its latest report.
SenatorKEATING. - I understand from what the Minister said a few minutes ago that there is -a clause in:the agreement providing for the maintenance of parities.
– That applies,I think, to exports only.
– Then there is no factor of privilege if it does not apply to local consumption. We are getting our requirements below ‘parity.
– As a matter of fact, the Australian manufacturer -is on a good . wicket.
– No doubt he is, but -it should not be asserted that he is torn i that . good wicket through any influence other rthan Australian. He has to thank “the Australian Wool Committee, andinottthe Comptroller of Raw Materials in- -England. My attention has ‘been drawn to the fact that in paragraph 6 of the Committee’s report, dated 28th July, 1919, appears the following: -
The privilege of purchasing wool at the ap praised price was again extended to woollen manufacturers. The quantity so purchased aggregated 14,297,727 lbs., with an average price of 13.08d. per lb. (greasy).
Statements such as those are calculated to alarm interested parties in Australia who have been enjoying those advantages. People are apt to become apprehensive if they are led to believe that a continuance of those advantages depends upon somebody outside of Australia. Senator Pratten recognises that our own users of wool for the manufacture of tweed and other purposes have been enjoying advantages, and he is apprehensive that those advantages may not continue, and that their continuance is dependent upon somebody outside.
– They have already been taken away from the wool tops people.
SenatorKEATING. - It should be made abundantly clear that the advantages do not depend on any party abroad. The Minister remarked just now, no doubt inadvertently, that one objection which he took to amendments of this nature was that the Bill would have to be sent back to another place. That is no valid argument to offer against a proposed amendment.
– If it is valid we may as well close the Senate altogether.
– What I meant was that since there was no material difference between the original measure and the amendment - seeing that the principle which the amendment sought to express was already contained within the Bill - it would be a waste of time to send the Bill back to another place in an altered form.
– I move-
That, in regulation 25A (1), the words “any member of the Committee or any other person “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “ with the consent of the Prime Minister, the Auditor-General, or one of his officers.’’
As the regulation stands, the chairman of the Central Wool Committee has power to authorize any member of the Committee, or any other person to enter any premises and inspect any documents, books, or papers therein, and to take ex tracts therefrom. No member of the Wool Committee, or other person authorized by the chairman, should have the right to go into a competitor’s office and investigate his affairs. The regulation) is inquisitorial; it is repugnant to every member of the trade outside the charmed circle of the Wool Committee.
– I oppose the amendment. It amounts to nothing more than a veiled effort to “have a slap” at the chairman of the Wool Committee. The Prime Minister will have his hands full enough in the days to come without this proposed addition to his responsibilities.
– I intend to press the amendment. We should not tolerate a situation in which a trade organization, such as is the Central Wool Committee, will oontinue to possess power to send any person into the office of a competitor, and to investigate that individual’s concerns. Authority so drastic should be exercisable only by the Prime Minister, or the Auditor-General, or some public accountant.’
– I agree that the amendment should be pressed. The Wool Committee comprises a group of gentlemen all of whom are in the trade. Under this regulation it is competent for the chairman to authorize discovery of the affairs of actual, and, not merely potential, competitors with members of the Board. Discovery is a procedure authorized by Courts of law in actions between parties. In no procedure connected with any Court in any part of the Empire is discovery of this character authorized by law or regulation. When it is a matter as between two parties, discovery or’ interrogation is never authorized unless approved specifically and in detail by the tribunal. To authorize a Committee to pry into the affairs of competitors in this large and general fashion is a principle of jurisprudence for which no parallel can be found by the Prime Minister, or the AttorneyGeneral, either in this country or elsewhere. There are people connected with the wool industry in various parts of Australia who are never likely to be placed upon the Wool Committee. There are those in outlying districts who have their grievances against the Committee, but find it no easy matter to present their case in’ person to its members. On the other hand, the Committee has power, without any check, to investigate its competitors’ affairs. There is no limitation. The Committee can investigate incidental affairs, can pry into matters absolutely foreign to the purposes and functions of the Wool Committee.
– That is an exaggeration. A competitor in such circumstances would be justified in refusing access to his books.
– The regulation states -
The chairman of the Central Wool Committee shall, for the purposes of carrying out these regulations, have power to authorize any member of the Committee or any other person to enter any premises and inspect any documents, books, or papers therein and to take extracts therefrom.
The books, and papers, and documents should be specified; such an order should never be of a general character.
– Does not the regulation set out that the papers and books must concern the particular purposes of the investigation ?
– No !
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30p.m.
– I ask the Minister whether he will consent to postpone the consideration of the amendment now before the Committee to a later stage?
– In deference to the wishes expressed by some honorable senators, I have no objection to the postponement of the consideration of the amendment now before the Committee to a later stage. I wish to say, quite candidly, that it is recognised that this is a drastic regulation, and we are conferring about it with a view to ascertaining the reasons for it. If they are not regarded as sufficient, our attitude towards the regulation may be modified.
Regulation 25a and amendment postponed.
– I have given notice of three amendments of regulation 25c, the effect of which would he to take away the absolute power given by the regulation to the chairman of the Central Wool Committee to enter upon expenditure on behalf of the Committee without the ap proval of other members of the Committee. The regulation, if amended as I propose, would read -
All expenditure by the chairman of the Central Committee, acting for and on behalf of the Committee, and with the approval of the Committee, shall be duly authorized by the Committee.
I shall be glad if the Minister can see his way to accept the amendments of which I have given notice, but if he is unable to. do so, I do not intend to press them. I move -
That in regulation 25b, after the word “ behalf “, the words, “ and with the approval “ be inserted.
– I think that lack of understanding of the procedure of the Central Wool Committee is the cause of some opposition to it. It should be well known that, in practical operation, the chairman of the Central Wool Committee does work in cooperation with the other members of the Committee. The other members of the Committee, and the Department also, are consulted in connexion with all matters of any importance. But very often small details of administration require immediate action, and the Central Wool Committee doe3 not sit continuously. No member of the Government would dream of incurring certain expenditure without the approval of the Cabinet, but it may be necessary on occasions to send a man upon a special mission, and a Minister would not hesitate to incur the necessary expense in such a case without reference to the Cabinet. In respect of details of administration involving expenditure, Sir John Higgins is in the position of a paying officer, but, as I have said,” in connexion with matters of importance, as a matter of course, he consults the other members of the Committee.
– In view of the Minister’s explanation I shall not proceed with my proposed amendments to regulation 25c.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I have given notice of my intention to move for the insertion of the word “pertinent” after the word “ ask “ and before the word “ questions “ in regulation 25d, but in view of the present position I do not intend to proceed with that amendment. I gavenotice of my intention to move for the insertion of a new regulationinthese words -
Notwithstanding anything contained inthese regulations,thePrime Minister may consent to the exportof wool tops to any allied country or America on such terms and conditions as he may; think fit.
In view of the discussion that has taken place in connexion with wool tops, and in view of the fact that, under previous regulations, it seems clear that the “Wool Pool is ultimately within the absolute control ofthePrime Minister if he so desires, I shall not proceed with this amendment.
ThirdSchedule - .
The WarPrecautions (Sheepskins) Regulations.
The trade in sheepskins in the Commonwealthshallproceed as under normal con’ditions subject to thefollowing . -provisions . . . (b)where green . sheepskinshavebeen fell mongered theresultant wool shall be subject to appraisement . . .
Provided that paragraphs (b) and (c) of this regulation shall not apply where the wool is, by consent ofthe Central ‘Committee, -by a continuousprocess manufactured, or . inthe course of manufacture into wool tops….. (SenatorPRATTEN (New South Wales) [2.38]. -Ihavegivennotice of what,inmy view, is animportant amendment of the -provisoto regulation 5 of the third schedule. I move -
That the words “by consent of the Central Committee” in the -proviso to regulation 5 be left out.
Before the wool scheme came into operation, -the ‘manufacture of wool tops was being conducted from ‘the skin to the finished product. This was a process which the Prime Minister promised should not be interfered with, but the proviso to regulation 5 of the thirdschedule prevents that continuous processbeing followed, unless with the consent o’f the Central Wool Committee. A good deal may be said on this subject. ‘The regulation hasinterfered withmeatinterests, and with the continuous processfor the manufacture of wool tops, and, in my opinion, is an undue interference with the development of the secondary industriesof Australia.
– Ishould like to know howthe proviso interferes withthe continuousprocess of the manufacture’ of wool -tops?
SenatorPRATTEN. - Before the war, wool tops were being made inSydney from the skins of slaughtered sheepand completed from the wool on the skins to the finished wool tops. That process has been objected to by the CentralWool Committee, and consequently those carrying on the industry cannot buy live stock, sell themeat, and use the wool on the skinsfor manufactureinto tops, as they previously did. The Central Wool Committee says, “No, that process shall no longer go on. You must sendyourskin wool for. appraisement to a centralplace, and it will , be returned to your factory after appraisement,before the processof manufacture into iwo.ol tops begins.” That is a distinctviolation ofthe promise givenbythe Prime Minister to secondary industries. Onthatground I thinkthe proviso to which I take exception, would not stand thetest ofcontroversy, ifthe Committeeagree,as I propose,to leave out the words “by consent of the Central Committee,” the result will be to return tothe positionlaid down by the Prime Minister at the inauguration of the scheme.
.-I am afraid that the effectof Senator Pratten’s amendment would be the reverse ofwhat he desires.There arecertain conditions laid down -in paragraphs b and c of regulation5 o’f the third schedule, and the intention ofthe proviso is to secure that the wool-top industry maybe exempted from compliancewith those conditions. Under paragraph 5 it isprovidedthat -
Where green sheepskins have beenfell mongered the resultant wool shall besubject to appraisement in accordance with the War Precautions (Wool) Regulations.
Paragraph c provides that -
Where drysheepskinshavebeen takenover or purchased for fellmongering, or any other local purpose, theresultant wool shall be subject to appraisement inaccordance withthe War Precautions (Wool) Regulations.
Underthe proviso which Senator Pratten seeks to amend,theCentral Wool “Committee may. exempt such industries as the wool-top industry from the operation o’f these conditions. If the honorable sena tors amendment be carried, it will prevent the continuous treatment of. wool from the skin practically tothefinished . article.
– The trouble has been that;. under the regulations, the Central Wool Committee will notgive their consent to the exemption of the wool-top industry from the conditions whichhave been referred to. If the* Committee will take into consideration the position that has arisen, and give their consent to the continuous process being allowed to go on, the purpose for which I have moved the amendment will be served. If the Minister will promise sympathetic consideration ofthe matter, I shall be satisfied!
– I had intended moving an addition to regulation 18, and to leave out.” approved.” and. “ deemed to have been “ in regulation 19 c, so that it would read - 19c. All expenditure by; the chairman of the Central Committee, acting for and on behalf of the Committee, shall bedulyauthorized by the Committee.
I also intended moving to leave out the whole of regulation: 21. As the effect of the proposed amendments has- already been dealt with in principle, I do not now intend to proceed further with them.
Regulation 19a postponed.
Fourth and Fifth Schedules agreed to.
Postponed regulation 25a, and proposed amendment thereof.
– I have endeavoured to meet the wishes of the Committee in this matter, because I realize that the regulation, in its present form, is very stringent, and’ good reason should be given for its retention. I asked the Attorney-General’s Department to confer with such members of the Central Wool Committee as were available to enable me to have the fullest possible information on the matter. I have received the following note from the Wool Committee: -
The retention of this regulation is very necessary, from the point of view of the Committee. The wool trade isa very cosmopolitan trade: The. British Government have, from time to time asked that certain information should not be divulged. The chairman of the’ Committee has to see that this information is not divulged, and occasionally- it is. necessary to ascertain that these requests are being complied with. The whole thing is done quietly; there is no show. The chairman is. the Government nominee, and be - thinks that he ought to be trusted in this matter.
There is an additional reason. There is a regulation to the effect that wool, after being received at the store, must be reweighed within twenty-four hours. This is very important, and means that immediate action should be taken in. cases where grave suspicion exists. In one case, involving £2,000, an effort was made to prevent the wool being weighed at the proper time to. enable the owner to derive the benefit of the increased weight. In the event of the. weight increasing, it, is essential that no documents shall be altered to make them agree with, the increased weight. I have endeavoured! to meet the position, and say, quite candidly, that I have not had. sufficient time to give such an important matter.the attention it demands. To meet the. wishes of the. Committee, I shall ask. Cabinet to give the regulation its careful consideration. If the Committee agree to. that course, we shall see that there is no abuse, and that the principles of liberty are fully preserved.
.- IthanktheMinister for the consideration he has given to this matter. I accept the pledge he. has given to the Senate that it shall have Cabinet consideration, and that some safeguards shall be provided whereby it cannot be abused.
Amendment, by leave; withdrawn.
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed regulation 19a.
.- I understand that the postponed regulation in this schedule will be subject to the promise given by the Minister in connexion with the postponed regulation in the second schedule?
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Russell) pro posed -
That this Bill be now read athird time.
SenatorMcDOUGALL (New South Wales) [2.56]. - During the discussion on this Bill the other evening, Senator Pratten submitted priced samples of Australian tweeds. I informed the Senate’ that I would produce a pair of trousers, which cost 35s., made from the material submitted by Senator Pratten, and would ask him to indicate where the profit was made. I have been wearing garments made of tweed woven at these identical mills, and know by experience their worth in a wearing capacity. One could hardly wear them out. There is no reason why Senator Pratten should say that huge profits have not been made. According to the figures and samples submitted by Senator Pratten, the material in the garment I have produced cost 10s. 8d., and the cost of making was 7s. 6d., or a total of 18s. 2d. The completed article is sold at 35s., leaving a profit of 16s.10d. Can any one say that a profit of over 90 per cent. on such a garment is a fair one? If he does, the criticisms of the Inter-State Commission are well deserved. The article I am referring to was not handled by a middleman, but passed directly from the tweed mills to the emporium, where it was manufactured under union conditions. Will Senator Pratten indicate where the enormous profit has been made? I do not say that the manufacturers of cloth receive it all, but I believe Senator Pratten has been misled in connexion with the prices he submitted to the Senate.
– I am afraid I cannot answer the question submitted to me by Senator McDougall in regard to the retail profits made on a pair of trousers, but I can vouch for the absolute accuracy of the facts I put before the Senate concerning the wholesale price of Colonial tweeds.
Although the discussion on the Commercial Activities Bill has been lengthy and somewhat in detail, it has been with the idea of obtaining some control over our primary products, and to insure that they are handled to the advantage of the people of Australia. Now the war is over, there is no ill-feeling in the matter, and I hope that, as a result of the debate on this important Bill, much good will result.
We have, in some respects, raked the administration of the various Pools fore and aft.. Iam hopeful that every consideration will be given to the development of important secondary industries, and that every effort will be made to keep capital in the country and increase production. That is the only object I had in view, and I am sure other honorable senators were prompted by similar motives.
I hope that the very rigid, and, at times exact, methods that were necessary in war times will not be employed in the long era of peace we hope is before us. The Bill has not been amended, but the discussion will be profitable, and will, I am sure, be frequently referred to, particularly in connexion with the explanations given by the Minister. Nothing but good can result from the detailed consideration that has been given in the Senate to the many important matters contained in the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
The following paper was presented: -
Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1919, No. 180.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales-
Minister for Repatriation) [3.2]. - I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday, 10th September, at 3 p.m.
I had anticipated submitting a motion asking the Senate to re-assemble a week later, but, owing to difficulties having arisen, which I am not able to dispose of at this juncture, I am not in a position to do that. Upon the return of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), one of the earliest subjects to which Parliament will be asked to devote attention will be the consideration of matters arising out of the Peace Treaty. At this moment I am not able to say whether both Houses will be asked to act concurrently or not.
– I am not able to say whether Parliament will approach the consideration of those matters by Bill or by resolution. If by resolution, the two Houses will be able to work concurrently ; hut if by Bill, there will be no advantage in the Senate meeting on the date specified in the motion. I am, therefore, asking honorable senators to concur in the motion to re-assemble on 10th September, with an assurance from me that if, on the return of the Prime Minister I find it is not proposed to proceed with the matters I have mentioned by resolution, I shall ask those who reside in or near Melbourne to meet, and formally adjourn the Senate for another week.
– A quorum of the Senate will be required to do that.
– I have no doubt that, with the assistance of honorable senators who live in or near Melbourne, we shall be able to secure a quorum for that purpose. I am adopting this course with a desire to meet the convenience of those honorable senators who live in distant States. I have myself experienced the inconvenience, on other occasions, of being summoned to attend meetings of the Senate without being called upon to transact much business, and I do not wish unnecessarily to subject honorable senators to the inconvenience of coming to Mel- bourne in such circumstances. Before the date fixed for the re-assembling of this Chamber, I shall he in a position to warn those who live in different States by telegram if it is proposed to adjourn the Senate for another week.
.- The Minister has mentioned a subject of very great importance indeed. I hope that nothing will be done by the Government to prevent matters arising out of the Peace Treaty from being dealt with by both Houses of the Federal Parliament at the same time. I take it that in such circumstances the Senate has equal powers with the House of Representatives. Therefore, both Chambers should have the same opportunity of dealing with those matters. If matters relating to the Peace Treaty are not laid upon the table of both Houses at the same time, the Government will be making an invidious- distinction between the rights of the two Houses. It is the duty of the Government to see that nothing shall prevent those matters being dealt with simultaneously in both Houses.
– I remind the honorable senator that this discussion would be in order on the ordinary motion for the adjournment of the Senate, but it is not in order on this motion.
– I know, Mr. President, that you have been lenient in allowing me to mention it, but the Minister also referred to the subject when submitting the motion.
– The Minister did not enter into any argument with respect to it. He merely mentioned that, when the Houses re-assemble, it might be a matter for discussion.
-Well, Mr. President, I have just another observation to make, and I think it will be in order. It is proposed to adjourn the Senate until 10th September, and the Minister has indicated that, in certain circumstances, there might be an adjournment until 17th September. . I know that honorable senators, like other individuals, are likely to study their own convenience, and, perhaps, there will be a chorus of assent to the Minister’s suggestion that we shall not re-assemble until 17th September; but in view of the enormous amount of business outlined for this session, it is the duty of the Government to provide work for the Senate early. What is there to prevent us from proceeding with Government business on 10th September? I understand we are to have a measure to alter the system of election to this Senate. If that is so, this is the Chamber most interested, and it is the duty of the Government to introduce the Bill. here. If the measure is ready - and I am given to understand it is, or that it will be ready in ten days’ time - why should it not be introduced and dealt . with here ? It is going to give rise to a very long discussion, and because of vital alterations proposed in our method of election, honorable senators should have ample time for its consideration.
– I again remind the honorable senator that this discussion is out of order on this motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Business of the Senate.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I shall now conclude what I was saying when speaking to the previous motion.I hope it is the intention of the Government to introduce in this Chamber the measure dealing with the alterations in the method of election to the Senate. Within the last twelve months the system of preferential voting in elections for the House of Representatives has been adopted, and the Senate should have an early opportunity of dealing with the proposed alteration in the Senate elections.
– The other House has, only an academic interest in this matter.
– That is quite true. Every honorable senator will concede that this subject is of more interest to the Senate than to the House of Representatives. I do not know what is in the mind of the Government, but I have been given to understand that until quite recently it was their intention to introduce this Bill in the House of Representatives first, because the Minister controlling the Department is in the other House. But we have a representative of that Minister in this Chamber, and there is no reason why the measure should not be brought forward here first. Referring again to the matters arising out of the Peace Treaty, I hope they will be placed before both Houses simultaneously. ‘ In addition to these subjects,several other important measures have been’ outlined for our consideration in the near future, and the Government should endeavour to bring about a more equal division of the work by initiating more Bills in this Chamber, thus obviating the rush towards the end of a session, and the scanty consideration sometimes given to measures because of their extreme urgency. All Governments have been transgressors in this respect, and sometimes we have been called on to do as much work in the last few days of a session as during the previous two or three months, with the result’ that frequently measures do not receive the consideration they deserve.. I hope: the Government will do. something to provide work to keep the Senate going.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned’ at 3.14 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 August 1919, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1919/19190829_SENATE_7_89/>.