8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister for Defence : Is it a fact that the Defence Department in the early days of the war adopted the practice of increasing the prices of tenders sent inby certain manufacturers by 25 per cent., as set out in a leader in to-day’s Argus?
– The facts in regard to the case are as follows : - In the early stages of the war very large quantities of materials of various kinds were required. Tenders would be called, and in many cases the quantities offered by the total number of tenders at varying prices would be insufficient to supply the whole of the requirements of the Department. In those circumstances, if the lowest tender only was accepted, the Department would not secure anything like the quantity of the article required. The practice adopted in such cases was to take the lowest tender for the largest quantity of the material required and strike an average price of the tenders. As a consequence, the lowest tenderers would obtain a higher price than that for which they tendered, but other tenderers, if they accepted, would obtain a lower price than that for which they tendered. I cannot place the particular case referred to in the Argus, but it is most probable that it would be one of those cases in which a flat rate was struck, and honorable senators will see that in such a case the lowest tenderer would receive a higher price than he tendered for, but there would be other tenderers supplying the material required who would get a lower price than that for which they tendered.
– I ask the Minister for Defence if he has observed that it is reported that Parliament is going into recess at the end of next week. If so, will he make a statement on behalf of the Government as to whether it is intended to allow time for a discussion of the Estimates, as well as for a discussion of the Appropriation Bill?
– The Appropriation Bill contains the Estimates.
SenatorFairbairn -The whole of the Estimates?
– Yes, with the exception of the Works Estimates, which have already been passed by both Houses. Every item of the Estimates can be discussed on the Appropriation Bill.
SenatorFairbairn. -One discussion will be sufficient.
– I ask the Minister for Defence if his attention has been drawn to the text of Mr. Collins reply in relation to the flannel contract, and, if so, whether he intends to let the matter rest at that.
– I read Mr. Collins’ reply. I have nothing to say on it, except that the statement I made here set? forth the facts of the case, and is buttressed by the evidence disclosed by thefile. In so far as the statement made by Mr. Collins does not harmonize with that, I think his statement is incorrect.
The following papers were presented : -
Audit Act. - Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial Year 1919-20- Dated 17tli November, 1920.
Public Service Act -
Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1920, No. 220.
Appointment of J. Lyng, Home and Territories Department.
Bill read a third time.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Adamson) agreed to-
That the report from the Printing Committee,presented to the Senate on 18th November, 1920, be adopted.
Bill received from the House of Representatives..
– I move -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
If honorable senators will agree to this motion, it is my intention to carry the Bill only up to the moving of the second reading. If any honorable senator would like further time to consider the measure, I shall have no objection to the adjournment of the debate on the second reading until next week. I think it probable that, after hearing my explanation of the measure, honorable senators will not desire that its consideration shouldbe adjourned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time. The original Sugar Purchase Bill was passed in 1915, and provided that sugar purchased by the Commonwealth might be paid for by moneys borrowed from the Commonwealth Bank, but the indebtedness of the Government to the Bank at any time was limited to an amount of £500,000. An amending Act was passed in last May by which the limit of the overdraft was increased from £500,000 to £1,000,000. It was explained that the increase in the amount of the overdraft was necessary because the shortage of the local crop compelled the purchase of foreign sugar and as the world’s price was at an abnormally high level the proceeds from local sales at prices then ruling were insufficient to cover the cost of the sugar plus refining charges; and also we had to consider the cost of reconditioning sugar damaged by the Mackay cyclone. The deficit arising from these causes was estimated at £938,000. The actual deficit was £900,500. Unfortunately the shortage of thelocal production experienced last year will be again repeated during the present season, and again the Commonwealth will be compelled to go on the foreign market to purchase sugar for local consumption. The position has been accentuated this year owingto the shortage of the world’s visible supply. To insure that sugar will be available when the local production is exhausted, the Commonwealth made early purchases abroad while’ supplies were available. Thus the foreign sugar will be coming forward before the local crop is sold, and the overdraft account of the Commonwealth Bank will have to bear the cost in the meantime. It is quite impossible to estimate with any degree of accuracy the maximum overdraft which will be required to finance the foreign purchases. Freight is the key of the situation, and as freight is obtainable so the sugar will come forward and be paid for. Moreover, it is not yet known what furtherpurchases of foreign sugar will be necessary before the 1921 crop is available, and; as an amendment in the existing law cannot be deferred, it has been decided to ask Parliament to delete the provision in the Act which limits the amount of theoverdraft. I have before me a statement giving details of sugar purchases, but it is questionable whether it would be wise to make that information public.
– There are speculators in sugar as in every other commodity.
– But there is Commonwealth control.
– We do not want to take any action which might involve the Commonwealth in loss. We are buyers in the world’s markets, and we should not let our competitors know exactly what we need to purchase or the prices at which we effect purchases. I ask the Senate to agree to delete the limit of the overdraft, so that in the next few months we may be able to make these purchases to such an extent as will prevent the sugar market here being depleted. If we were limited to an overdraft of £1,000,000 we might not be able to do that, and there would then be a shortage of supply here, resulting in great loss and inconvenience to every one in the community. It is not proposed that we should purchase more than is actually required. As we get accurate data concerning the next sugar crop we shall be able to arrange our purchases of foreign sugar accordingly. Honorable senators will see the necessity for the adoption of this course. As I said previously, should honorable senators desire more time to consider the Bill, I shall have no objection to the adjournment of the debate on the second reading until next week. If they do not think further consideration necessary we can put the Bill through now; but that rests with themselves.
Debate (on motion by Senator Duncan) adjourned.
Finance: War Indebtedness and Sinking Fund : Expenditure - Increased Population and Production - Economic Conditions : Wages and Working Hours - Defence Scheme - Immigration - Employment of Boy Labour : Apprentices - Export of Inferior Commodities : Canned Fruits and Jams - Australian Potentialities : Murray River Lands - Science and Industry: Brown Coal - ‘Country Postal ‘ Facilities - Repatriation - War Gratuity Bonds - White Australia Policy - Settlement of Industrial Disputes: Arbitration Court - Taxation Reform - International Situation - Australian Representative at Washington - The United States and the League of Nations - Australian Navy: Fuel Oil Supplies - Cement Manufacture - Sugar Industry - Public Service - Scientific Research.
Debate resumed from 18th November (vide page 6668), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That this Billbe now read a first time.
– In supporting the first reading of this measure, it is not my intention to deal with the various items in the Estimates, although it may be necessary here and there to incidentally mention certain expenditure. Personally, I prefer in a debate of this character to leave criticism of any particular items until we are in Committee, when we have a better opportunity of dealing with them on their merits. A perusal of the Budget Speech, and the financial papers accompanying it, reveals the fact that Australia has to face great financial problems. The abnormal conditions created, mainly through the war, require careful and bold consideration. This task is not an easy one, but if those intrusted with the affairs of the Commonwealth apply themselves wholeheartedly to the task, I have no doubt that Australia will eventually overcome the great difficulty now confronting her. There can be no difference of opinion amongst those who have the interests of Australia at heart, concerning the vital necessity of utilizing the resources of this great land to their fullest extent. It has been stressed that increased populationand production is the main solution of the problem, and if that is so, no destructive criticism that may be offered will help in our difficulty; but anything of a helpful character will be of assistance in placing matters on a sound basis. In dealing with the very important problems before us, there is ample scope for pulling down the structure so carefully erected by the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) ; but I recognise that, unless one is prepared to suggest a. scheme which is preferable, it is futile to assist in destroying that which, although not conforming exactly to our own ideas, is in the main a structure the foundations of which are properly laid. With this in my mind, I approach the discussion of this Bill, (realizing that sound finance is the basis of good government.
We have incurred liabilities owing to the war, which were never anticipated. They have to be met, and as good Australians, I believe we will face the task and endeavour to meet them satisfactorily. To the average individual, the financial outlook should be regarded as satisfactory; it is difficult indeed to penetrate the economic outlook when our huge liabilities and heavy expenditure represent such a very pressing burden on the people of Australia, and the resources of the country are strained to their utmost. Wages are still going up, and the minimum rate in. New South. Wales has recently been increased by 8s. a week. It is only reasonable to anticipate that efforts will be made in the other States to insist, on further concessions in this direction being made. Our heavy Federal and State debts approximate about £800,000,000, and during, the next few years many millions of debt will mature, and will have to be renewed at higher rates of interest. In addition to this, we have to realize the fact that there is a strong agitation throughout the Commonwealth to reduce the number of working hours per week from fortyeight to forty-four. Forty-four hours per week has already been conceded in some directions, and it is just possible that there will be a strong demand from other sections of the community for a similar reduction.
– Japan agreed to a forty-four hours’ week at the Genoa Conference.
– Forty-four hours per week has been already conceded in some industries.
– Japan has made a similar concession, and surely we are not to be behind them !
– It is admitted by every one that if we are to meet our liabilities we must have increased production and increased population. From the production point of view, it appears that the reduction in the hours of labour is the greatest menace that we have to face in Australia.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that men should work twenty-four hours a day ?
– That is not forty-eight hours a week, unless men work only two days. The principle of the forty-eight hours per week has been in operation for a considerable time, and under those conditions Australia has made great advances.
– Some men are working more than eight hours per day.
– I am not suggesting that men should work more than forty-eight hours per week, because I believe that is long enough. We have to face great problems, and there is no hope of our financial salvation unless we can not only maintain our present production, but increase it. Any action that is taken in the direction of reduc ing hours of labour - unless we have a guarantee that the output will not be diminished - must react on the Commonwealth. Ihave heard it advocated in a State Parliament that we should reduce the working day to four hours, and thus prevent unemployment. A man who makes utterances of that kind has no knowledge of what is necessary in a. country like Australia.
– But. one swallow does not make a summer.
– The honorable senator does not agree with my referenceto the danger of reducing the hours of labour from forty-eight to forty-four per week. If the honorable senator believes that we can produce as much in forty-four hours as in forty-eight, the logical conclusion is that we could turn out as much in forty hours as in fortyfour, and if followed further, we could produce as much in thirty hours as in forty.
– Yes, with improved mechanical devices.
– If it is. contended that we can do as much work in thirty hours as in forty-eight the idea is preposterous. Common sense must come to the rescue, and unless it does, it means that the cost of living, which ishigh enough, will mount still higher. It is time every one in the Commonwealth recognised the fact that we cannot have a reduced output without increased cost, and that that additional cost must be borne by the people who consume the goods manufactured. The majority of our people are workers, and it is the worker for whom Iam pleading. Those who are insisting on reduced hours are working inthe direction of imposing additional burden on themselves, which they will find impossible to ‘bear because the cost of commodities must increase, if decreased working hours become the order of the day.
It has been suggested recently that we have been able to keep up our output, and from a perusal of the statistics dealing with the value of our production it would lead one to believe that we were still doing so. I came across a paragraph the other day which expresses the very opposite opinion from that which one would gather from a cursory perusal of the value of the goods produced in Australia. It reads -
Charles Henry Wickens, supervisor of census and compiler of statistics in regard to population and production, produced documents which had been prepared in answer to a series of questions put by employers’ representatives. He stated that if the 1913 prices had remained unchanged the value of general production for the year 1918-19 would have been £177,779,000, as compared with £218,193,000 for the year 1913-14. In 1913 there were in the Commonwealth 15,536 factories, employing 337,101 hands, and 442,154 mechanical horse-power. In 1918 there were 15,421 factories, employing 328,049 hands, and 610,326 mechanical horse-power. However, the output in 1913 was valued at £161,560,763, and in 1918 at £126,970,530.
A statement made by such an authority proves conclusively that our production, instead of increasing during the war period, has decreased, and I desire to stress the point that it is absolutely essential in the interests of the Commonwealth that our development should expand.
– The honorable senator must remember that 400,000 workers were absent from the Commonwealth during the war period.
– I realize that, but now that many of them have returned to Australia it is our duty to see that suitable employment is found for them. The Government should see that continuous employment is available for all classes of workers, and that reasonable hours prevail. It should be the endeavour of the Government to induce workers to do their best for the country in which they live, and if they -do that it must mean that we shall find our production increasing and our opportunities improving for reducing the enormous liability facing us. Higher wages and shorter hours increase cost and lessen production, with the result that prices are forced up.
If we are to avoid financial disaster something must be done, particularly by Parliament and public men, who for the last few years have been continually preaching economy. The people outside of ParLament cannot understand why we advocate economy, and fail to practice it when we have an opportunity of doing so. They cannot understand why the increase in the cost is so enormous in the administration of Commonwealth ‘ and State affairs. I know that we must keep up efficiency in Government Departments at any cost; but it is well for every honorable senator to apply his energies to the task of preventing the expenditure of money which is, in his opinion, unjustifiable. Expenditure in connexion with the ordinary management of pur Departments has to be met. I do not mind expenditure if it is necessary, and if by incurring an additional outlay we can obtain a more efficient service. I do not desire to deal with any particular item in the Estimates just now, but I find that some involve the expenditure of large sums of money, which, in view of the present position, do not seem to be warranted. I hope when we reach the Estimates that some of those items will be fully discussed.
In reading the Budget papers, it is interesting to analyze the indebtedness of the Commonwealth and of the various States. Every one knows that our war debt is a very heavy burden, but we all recognise that it is the price of our determination to insure the safety of the Commonwealth, and to assist in insuring the safety of the Empire. It is our contribution to the maintenance of the Empire, of which we are so proud to form a part. A fair proportion of this debt has been incurred, and is still being incurred, in the repatriation of our brave men who did so well, and any expenditure in this direction, I feel sure, is supported and approved, on the whole, by the majority of the people of Australia. We -therefore have to face the position boldly in the case of our war debt, and see to it that it is eventually liquidated, so that the burden may be distributed between the1 people of the present day. and those generations who will succeed us, and who will gain just as much advantage from that expenditure as those of the present day are gaining. Consequently, we shall have to see to it that the provision made in this regard is fair and equitable.
Another large expenditure with which we are faced is connected with our Defence scheme. A good deal of criticism has been levelled against the Defence proposals of the Government. I am not going to level any such criticism, because the scheme has my hearty support. It is absolutely warranted and essential, because we must have security as far as we possibly can, and I take it that the Government have been actuated in preparing these Estimates’ by a desire to give us as much security as possible at a minimum , of cost. The policy, which includes the revival of citizen training, the establishment of the new branch of aerial defence, and the maintenance of the Navy on a reasonably progressive basis, commends itself, I believe, on the whole, to the majority of -the people of Australia. Although there are men occupying public positions who are opposed to any expenditure in this direction, they would be the first to cry out if we neglected to provide the necessary safeguards and if anything untoward happened to us through our neglect of so important a branch of the Commonwealth Service. Consequently, 1 give my whole-hearted support to the policy outlined in the Budget for the defence of Australia.
The immigration policy is of the greatest importance. 1 said a little while ago that we must have increased production, and concurrently, increased population. We have been talking immigration in Australia for a good many years, and it seems to me that Australia should be able to offer very special inducements to the right class of people from overseas to come here. We have been blessed by Providence with one of the finest countries of the world. As an Australian, I believe it is the finest, and we have advantages which no other people in the world can ever expect to have. We have many blessings which are entirely absent from other countries. Compare the lot of the average man of the Old World up to the present day with the lot of the average man in Australia. In the first place, we have great breathing spaces, in which our children can be reared to become healthy and strong men and women. There is a great deal more freedom in Australia in the matter of social life, and the general conditions are very much better than can be found in the average of other countries. Now that we have to consider an immigration policy, we must take hold of the question boldly, with the desire of attracting as many of the right class of people to this Commonwealth as possible. In order to insure this, it willbe absolutely essential to have the earnest and hearty co-operation of the Commonwealth and State Governments.
– Are those the only Governments concerned?
– We have to make the advances.
– How about the British Government?
– Exactly. In making the advances, we ought to have a well defined policy which will have the effect of inducing the British Government, or the Government of any other country from which we desire to draw new citizens, to co-operate with us, because we shall help them to relieve the congestion which exists in portions of their territories, while at the same time we gain a much needed accession to our population. I agree with the views which I know Senator de Largie holds on this question, that it is in the interests of Great Britain itself that that co-operation should exist.
– It is a phase of immigration which has been altogether too much neglected.
– It must not be neglected in the future. We should keep it in the very forefront, because it is just as important to the Government of Great Britain that Australia should make progress as it is that the British Isles should make progress. We are an integral part of the British Empire, and a very important part.
– It does not look as if the British Government wish to get rid of the class of men that we want here, seeing that they are bringing in compulsory agricultural measures.
– We hear a great deal about overcrowding in Great Britain, and if we, as a portion of the British Empire, can show the British Government that the transfer of some of their population overseas to Australia will not injure Great Britain, but will help to consolidate the Empire, and make it even stronger than it is, we ought reasonably to anticipate that their cooperation will be forthcoming.
– It is better for Great Britain that her people should emigrate to Australia than to the United States of America.
– Exactly so. At the same time we must remember that it is necessary for us to be in a position to offer advantages to those whom we desire to attract. I have spoken to a good many English people who came out to Australia, including married men who brought out several young children. They told me that the greatest inducement to them to come here was the prospect of their children being able to get on in Australia better than they could in England.
Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks in this country. One man said to me the other day,’ “ If I had known the condition of affairs in Australia, I should certainly have hesitated before I came out, not from my own point of view, or from the point of view of my wife, but from the point of view of my children. I find that in Australia the avenues of employment are practically closed to my growing lads, particularly in the case of the skilled trades.” It is a fact that our skilled trades are closed to a large proportion of the boys of the Commonwealth. I refer now, not to legislation of the Commonwealth, but to the legislation of several of the State3, which provides a limitation on the employment of boy labour in skilled industries to such an extent that a large proportion of our intelligent lads are compelled to take up the occupations of unskilled labourers.
– Would you remove all those limitations?
– Not all. I would do nothing that would bring about the possibility of an adult being thrown out of employment by the employment of a boy, but it is laid down that only one apprentice shall be employed for every three adult workers. In those circumstances, how can we possibly maintain our proportion of skilled artisans? Is it fair to the boys? A boy has as many rights as I have. He will eventually become a man, and ought to have ali the rights of a man. If he is qualified and capable of taking up the occupation of carpenter, builder, or cabinetmaker, there should be no bar to his entrance into the trade. We are spending, perhaps, hundreds of thousands of pounds on technical education. What is the object of adding a technical education branch to the Education Departments of the various States, except to. enable boys to find the occupations for which they are most eminently fitted? When a boy finds the occupation for which he is fitted, his parents endeavour to get him into it ; but they very often find every door closed to him in that occupation in the town in which they live. The employer will say, “ I have my proportion as allowed by law, one apprentice to every three adults. I am very sorry I cannot take your boy on.” I have known instances where a parent has taken his boy to three or four different occupations, trying to secure admission for him, and he has had to return home disappointed and disgusted. The boy has not been able to take u(p the occupation for which God has fitted him.
– Is that the law, or is it merely an award of the Arbitration Court ?
– I understand that it is part of the determinations of Wages Boards. The Wages Boards are created by laws of the States, and make their determinations, which are ratified by the State Parliaments. The excessive limitation of apprentices may be an old custom, but it i3 a wretched one, and the evils which arise from it cannot be too often ventilated. It is an absolute injustice to the boys of Australia. Any employer of labour to-day will tell you how difficult he finds it to get the necessary supply of skilled tradesmen on the job he is carrying out. The reason is patent. A large proportion of the lads of the last few years have not been allowed to enter skilled occupations. If we retain the proportion’ of one boy to every three men it is obvious that year by year the number of skilled artisans in Australia will become “ small by degrees, and beautifully less,” and we shall have to import skilled tradesmen from other countries while our own Australian lads will have to become the ordinary labourers of the day. That is one of the matters which we shall have to look into.
– On the other hand, the employers abused the old conditions by employing so many improvers to the exclusion of skilled men.
– I do not agree with that. I know the old system was abused ; but we have gone to the other extreme. I am not an extremist either way. There were just as many abuses under the old system as under the old sweating conditions in the shops; but it is possible to go so far to the other extreme that our last state may be worse than the first. There are thousands of lads in Australia to-day, fitted by nature for certain occupationswho have to take up some calling quite contrary to> their desires, or depend upon street sweeping, or some other occupation of that kind. Only the other day I read of the determination of a Wages Board which laid it down that the proportion of lads to adults to he employed in a produce store was as one to three. Even that avenue is now closed to some extent, and it is a respectable occupation which many lads desire to enter. These are the things that should be remedied, and this can only be done by educating public opinion on the matter. If we succeed in remedying them there will be all the greater inducement for people to come to Australia. I am anxious to see a successful immigration policy. I am anxious to see an increase in our population, and I put it to honorable senators that it is essential we should offer reasonable opportunities to people who may desire to come here.
I have been speaking about the necessity for increased production, and that, of course, means that we must find the best markets in the world for our produce, and having found them, do all in our power to retain them. I was sorry a little while ago to read about the reported condition of certain wheat and flour shipments to South Africa, and to learn that there is a possibility of litigation over the matter. This is abad advertisement for Australia. But the other day I saw a much worse advertisement concerning the quality of certain goods sent from Australia to Great Britain. I mention this matter because it is reprehensible on the part of any individual to send inferior goods to the overseas market upon which we depend to such an extent for the disposal of our surplus products. The following statement appeared in the Melbourne Herald of 28th September: -
A description given of recent testing of some samples drawn from Australian canned fruits in London is not pleasant reading. Unevenness of quality was a common defect; variation in degrees of ripeness, and unattractive colouring and appearance were mentioned as faults. An English merchant has said that packers must forward that market what it wants if a permanent share of the business of supplying the English market is desired. A high standard of quality of Australian exports must be maintained. Evenness of packing and uniformity of methods of packingarenecessary. It is essential that the goods shall open up well, so as to attract the purchaser; hence the absolute necessity of using only the most suitable cases or crates, so that the packages are not damaged in transit. We want to insure that the word “ Australian “ carries with it the hallmark of quality. One State or one portion of a State, by its neglect of the essentials impairs to a very great degree the oversea markets, as geographical differences in the Commonwealth are not, as a rule, understood by the oversea consumer.
That is quite true. If inferior produce from Tasmania, New South Wales, or Victoria, or, indeed, from any of the States is sent to the British market, and complaint is made, it is looked upon as an Australian product, not the output of any individual State; and, therefore, too much care cannot be exercised in the supervision of our export trade.
– I agree with the honorable senator. This allegation does not make pleasant reading, and I repeat it here, merely because I feel that the authorities who control the export trade should see to it that only first quality goods are sent to the markets on the other side of the world.
– It is not wise either to give too much credence to reports concerning produce on the other side of the world. Very often British merchants sell Australia’s best products as their own, and label inferior products as Australian.
– Unfortunately, there is a good deal in what the honorable senator says. Only a few weeks ago an officer of a Department in a certain State showed me some goods which, he said, had been received from another State, and described as first quality; but which, as a matter of fact, were not fit for human consumption. The point I make is that it is possible for one individual to seriously damage the reputation of the whole of the. Commonwealth in the overseas markets; and, therefore, too much care cannot be exercised by the authorities controlling our export trade. The individual grower or packer should be compelled to guarantee that the contents of a package are true to description and of good quality.
I would like now to say a word or two about the potentialities of Australia. Our possibilities were never brought home so closely to me as during last week, when, in company with other honorable senators, I was privileged to make a tour of the River Murray district between Mildura and Murray Bridge.
– And that hasbeen described in the press as a mere jaunt.
– I admit it was a very enjoyable trip; but, at the same time, it was very instructive, and, in my opinion, it is essential that public men should make it their business to see as much of the Commonwealth as possible, because only in this way is it possible to understand our immense possibilities. I read that magnificent publication dealing with the development of the Murray River land, but I admit that a week’s personal observation gave me more information than I could possibly expect to obtain from the reading of one hundred such books. During our visit we found that land, which but for the utilization of water supplies from the Murray would have been absolutely worthless, was producing large quantities of very fine products, for which there is a ready market. We saw land in process of clearing, and land in a highly advanced state of cultivation, rendered possible only by the successful utilization of the wonderful water resources provided by nature in that part of the Commonwealth. I am hopeful that the special interest evinced by the Commonwealth Government in the Murray waters scheme will induce other Governments to spy out land in their own States, with a view to their more successful development.
– I thought you were going to suggest that the Commonwealth might render the same assistance to the other States.
– I dare say the Commonwealth Government would be only too glad to do that, because, after all, the success of one portion of the Commonwealth must help materially the advancement of Australia; and, in my opinion, there is no reason why the Commonwealth Government should hesitate to grant assistance to any similar proposition made with respect to any other part of the Commonwealth.
– It seems to be the policy that all Commonwealth expenditure must be incurred in the South.
– I donot think so. We describe ourselves as representatives of the Australian people, and, therefore, we should see to it that no part of the Commonwealth is neglected. Just as no State can go back without injury to the
Commonwealth, so no State can progress without correspondingly benefiting the whole of Australia.
– Only some of the States want far more” spoon-feeding “ than others.
– Science, of course, is coming to our help every day, and I am confident that there will be a revolution in the methods of production during the next decade. In my own State, by the scientific utilization of our immense waterpower resources, we have now in Hobart an industry - I refer to the Electrolytic Zinc Company’s works - which employs over 1,000 men, and I am satisfied, from what I saw on my recent trip to the MurrayRiver districts, that certain areas in the midlands of Tasmania can be made equally productive by means of irrigation.
The development of Australia along these lines will go a long way towards helping us to solve our financial problems. In this State a remarkable deposit of brown coal is being utilized to a certain extent, but scientists tell us it is not being developed in the best way. Those qualified to express an opinion tell us that the present returns from the brown coal deposits will be infinitesimal by comparison with those rendered possible by the application of the mostscientific methods.
– Is not that why they have put Sir John Monash in charge of the scheme?
– Can you do anything with it but burn it.
– Burning brown coal is merely wasting it. Science, if applied to the problem, will insure a much better return than can be obtained by the destruction of brown coal in its crude state. By the application of science it is possible to produce from it gaseous fuel and a number of by-products, details of which I may be allowed to refer to. It. is stated that -
During the war vast strides were made in England in the production of benzol from coal, and, in 1918, over 32,000,000 gallons of this motor fuel was produced, some 8,412 ovens being used in the operation. English motorists are watching with interest these developments in fuel production, as it promises in time to become a’ formidable competitor of petrol, which is now costing motorists a high figure.
This further extract may be made -
According to Sir Douglas Mawson, by the consumption of raw, instead of carbonized, coal the sum of £200,000,000 is lost annually to Great Britain. In other words, the value of the by-products which would be obtained by the economic treatment of coal, and which, under prevailing methods, are dissipated, reaches this enormous sum. By failing to save the benzol which would bo sufficient for Great Britain’s requirements, it is estimated that £20,000,000 is lost. Three times the present supply of electric power could be produced for sale at one-half the present unit were power production and distribution re-organized on a scientific basis. The wastage of vast quantities of sulphate of ammonia, which form the bases of high explosives, dyes, paints, antiseptics, drugs, &c, are other items which stand out with startling prominence.
It is a waste to burn brown coal. Tests that have been made in England with Victorian brown coal showed that up to 20 gallons of crude oil could be extracted from each ton. This would yield up to 6 gallons of refined motor spirit, and 6 lbs. of pitch, in addition to other by-products. Apart from that, about 16 lbs. of wax could be extracted from each ton of coal. From this could be made all the candles needed in Australia, and also quantities of turpentine, varnishes, enamels, and other products. It should then be possible to sell the residue of the brown coal as fuel at about l1s. per ton. The total value, including the distillation products, will be several times as great as could be obtained from burning the coal alone. For instance, the refined spirit would, at the very least, be worth 2s. a gallon.
I have an extract here from a report by the Electricity Commissioners on the utilization of brown coal and water power for the production of electrical energy. It was submitted to the State Government in connexion with a scheme for coal mining and electrical undertaking to be undertaken in the neighbourhood of Morwell, and the distribution of electricity therefrom. It states -
The possibility of the economical utilization of brown coal in a distillation or carbonization process, the use of the surplus gas in boiler furnaces, and the marketing of the by-products has not been lost sight of. At the present time there are several experimental plants in operation in various parts of the world, and a great deal of valuable research work has been done in this direction by officials of the Mines Department of our own State. In the meantime developments in this direction in other parts of the world are being closely followed.
If scientific methods are adopted we estimate that about 25 per cent. of the present quantity of coal supposed to be used (approximately 80,000 tons per annum) will be saved, and about 50 per cent. in labour. In addition to this the value of the residue and by-products after the whole of the power has been generated is estimated at about £1 5s. 8d. per ton.
We have a Bureau of Science and Industry which is doing very good work, and I believe that we can look forward hopefully to the application of science to production in Australia. Ear better results can be expected from the application of science to production than we can look for from the utilization of the materials at our hand in their crude forms.
– Why does not the Victorian Government use this coal for their railways instead of going to Newcastle for coal?
– Scientists are of opinion that it is wasteful to utilize brown coal, or any other coal, in the way suggested by the honorable senator. The gaseous fuel which can.be produced from coal is much more effective than is the article in its crude state, and its use would result in a material decrease in the cost of labour, as stokers would not be required if gaseous fuel were used.
SenatorR. Storrie Guthrie. - This is a chapter from Jules Verne.
– The honorable senator might have made just such an interjection some time ago when wireless telegraphy was said to be possible. A great many things which twenty years ago people without scientific knowledge looked upon as quite impossible have been accomplished, or have been shown to be quite within the range of possibility. Every year there are new developments of science which surprise us, and I am satisfied that there will be greater developments in this way in a few years’ time than anything we have witnessed so far.
SenatorR. Storrie Guthrie. - Wireless telegraphy is 200 years old.
– Not as we have it to-day. I conclude my remarks on this subject by saying that I am hopeful, personally, that we shall find the solution of many of our difficulties in the application of scientific methods to production. It is only upon increased production that we can rely if we are to meet . our financial obligations.
I wish to refer to one or two matters in the Financial Statement with regard to the policy of the Government to meet our indebtedness in the future. At page 21 of the Financial Statement the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) makes a reference to an alteration decided upon by the Government in connexion with the contribution to the sinking fund. He says -
The Statutory Sinking Fund on War Loans is at present½ per cent., and on that basis the loan would be redeemed in about fifty years. The Government considers that, following the example of Great Britain and other countries, endeavours should be made to pay off the war debt at a more rapid rate, and, to this end, an addition of½ per cent. is proposed to be made to the present sinking fund, making in all a sinking fund of 1 per cent., representing an annual payment of £3,200,000.
The view is held by largo numbers of persons that the cost of the war should notbe wholly placed upon posterity, and in the circumstances it is thought reasonable to ask that the people of to-day should bear the additional½ per cent. sinking fund.
In view of the first paragraph I have quoted, I am at a loss to understand the second. The Treasurer evidently indorses the view that the cost of the war should not be placed wholly upon posterity, and yet in the previous paragraph he suggests that it was proposed to place the whole of the cost of the war on posterity, notwithstanding that provision had been made for a½ per cent. sinking fund, which would be sufficient to liquidate the war loan in fifty years.
– What is the fate of sinking funds ? Is there any example of a debt being liquidated by a sinking fund?
Sena.tor PAYNE.- Yes, many such examples.
– Where has it been done ?
– It has been done in Tasmania, and presumably also in the other States. I direct attention to the contradiction in the two paragraphs which I have quoted from the Financial Statement. Under the system in vogue to-day there is no possibility of placing the burden of the war loans on posterity, since a½ per cent. sinking fund has been provided for, and now the Treasurer proposes to double the contribution to the sinking fund, and make it 1 per cent., which means that an additional burden is to be placed on the people of to-day of £1,600,000 per annum. I do not agree with that.
– Does the honorable senator not think that posterity will have its own burdens to bear without having to shoulder ours ?
– The next two or three generations will certainly have their own burdens to bear, but I remind the honorable senator that they will be reaping the advantages which we have gained for Australia by the expenditure of this money, and, doubtless, to a greater extent than we can expect to do.
– ‘Provided that there is not another war. We must keep our house in order, lest we should be attacked again.
-I say that instead of placing this additional burden on the people of to-day it would have been far better to have made provision for carrying out a vigorous immigration policy. If, instead of providing £100,000 for immigration, the Government had provided £1,000,000 for that purpose, far better provision would have been made for the protection and prosperity of Australia.
– Where are we to get the immigrants from?
– We can get them if we set about it in the right way.
– Where from ?
– Not from China or Japan.
– From Scotland.
– Ibelieve that there are thousands of Scotchmen who would be glad to come here, and I am sure that Senator Guthrie would welcome his countrymen. If I were a Scotchman, living in Australia, I should move heaven and earth to induce as many Scotch people as possible to come to this country.
– I was in Scotland three months ago, and the people would not come to Australia.
– The honorable senator could not have asked them in the right way. I do not desire to leave the question of the sinking fund without some further reference to it. We are asked to indorse a proposal which will mean that we shall have to provide out of revenue £3,200,000 instead of £1,600,000 for a sinking fundto meet the war loans.
SenatorRowell. - It is a really good policy to try and pay one’s debts.
– There is no doubt about that. It is a magnificent thing, if a man is in a position to do so, to pay his debts straightway.
– That is not sound finance.
– It is, except where a man can make a better use of the money. If I had a 16an for twenty years at 5 per cent. I should be in no hurry to pay it off while I could get 7$ per cent, for the money.
– As things stand at present, a necessitous Treasurer may cease to make -payments to the sinking fund at any time.
– I am dealing with what is proposed to be done this year; and I point out that the Treasurer asks that for this purpose we should take from revenue an additional £1,600,000. If he stopped there there might not be so much objection to his proposal, but simultaneously he asks us to impose an additional burden in the shape of a 5 per cent, super-tax on the income tax, which means taking £600,000 more from people who, at the present time, have all they can do to make ends meet. I do not think that policy is a good one. My criticism is offered in the best spirit. I am not here to do anything to embarrass the Government, but to express my views on this question of finance, and I unhesitatingly say that ‘it is not good finance, at the present juncture, when men in receipt of small incomes have all they can do to make ends meet, to impose an additional 5; per cent, on their income tax. If we increase our Sinking Fund with “the idea of wiping off our war debts in thirty years, it will mean that the people who are living here fifty years hence will derive all the advantages and will not be faced with the liabilities which are confronting us to-day.
– They will not have to pay war pensions or repatriation expenses.
– The people of today will, for some years to come, have to meet heavier liabilities than those who are living in the Commonwealth thirty years hence. Consequently, I cannot reconcile the two paragraphs in the Treasurer’s speech, when he suggests that we are proposing’ to place a heavy burden upon posterity. The position is this: If we retain the. present rate of £ per cent, as a contribution to the Sinking Fund, and in addition to that charge one-half of the expenditure on new buildings and acquisition of sites in the Postmaster.General’s Department to loan and one-half bo revenue, the Treasurer would have had £2,100,000 available for revenue, and with the super income tax he would have had an additional £1,500,000. I mention this because it has been found necessary in compiling the financial papers to draw very largely on the small surplus of last year, which will eventually be wiped out. I do not approve of that policy. I think we should .have endeavoured, as far as possible, to have avoided imposing additional taxation on the people to-day. We should have allocated the expenditure in regard to new buildings and the purchase of land equally between revenue and loan money. The amount would be paid off long before the buildings were in disrepair, and the land would also be more valuable than it is to-day. I differ from the Treasurer in regard to his Estimates on that point,- and I- would have liked to have seen the Sinking Fund retained as originally at per cent.
In conclusion, there is a matter of importance to which I desire to refer - the Postal Department. With the additional revenue that the Postal’ Department must receive this year, there will be a very handsome surplus remaining at the end of the financial year. I earnestly urge the Government to put into operation, as soon as practicable, a . scheme by which those small communities of people who have congregated in settlements miles distant from’ existing post-offices, will be provided with some means of getting into touch with other parts of the State. There are quite a number of places in Tasmania and elsewhere where settlers have no postal service whatever. I do not advocate the establishment of post-offices in the ordinary sense of the term, but I suggest that a scheme be adopted whereby postal matter could be conveyed from the nearest post-office at least once or twice a week. This could easily be arranged by making some reputable’ person responsible “for handling the inward and outward correspondence. I know that some provision has been made by appointing allowance officers in some districts, but we need to go further. A little while ago I was in a district where a number of returned soldiers and their wives were settled, and the nearest post- office was 14 miles distant. The roads were not in first-class condition. I am only asking for a small concession, and it would be -i great inducement, if it were provided, for men such as those I have mentioned to remain on their holdings. I trust the Government, and particularly the Minister representing the Postmaster.General in the Senate, will give this matter most careful attention, because a reasonable service could be provided by utilizing some of the profits made in the larger centres, even if it meant a small loss to the Commonwealth.
– f desire to say a few words on the Treasurer’s Budget speech and the financial statements accompanying it. I have been a member of this Chamber for some time, and, as I have seldom spoken, I am afraid I may be regarded as somewhat of a “ mug.” Owing to ill-health I have been at a disadvantage, and on this occasion I have some hesitation in unduly inflicting myself upon this assembly. At the same time, I am not afraid to express my opinion when I consider it necessary. I desire at this juncture to express my grateful thanks to the President (Senator Givens) and honorable senators who granted me two months’ leave of absence owing to ill-health. I was ordered away by my medical adviser, and if such had not been the case, I would not have gone.
In relation to the financial position of the Commonwealth, I think it is only right to say that “ finance is government, and government is finance.” That is only a platitude, but it was uttered by a great statesman, and has often been quoted. I do not intend to critically examine the financial proposals of the Government, because I have not been able to carefully peruse the Budget speech and the financial papers accompanying it.- I have had a lot to do with financial questions in other spheres, and have, at times, delivered speeches on financial problems; but I think it would be unbecoming of me to inflict myself upon honorable senators at any length. There are, however, two or three matters which I wish to bring forward. I desire, in the first instance, to allow my constituents in Queensland, who elected me as one of their senators, to know that it is not my intention to always remain silent, because if that was the policy I intended to adopt, it would be better for me to retire. If, in the course of a few months, I am not sufficiently restored to health to perform the duties allotted to me, I shall be quite prepared to allow some one else to take my place.
The Government are placed in a very awkward and extraordinary position. We are living under a new set of circumstances, and have new. obligations to face. I believe that, instead of the financial policy of the Government being unduly criticised, we should help the Government in a sympathetic manner. The cry today is for economy, and I have noticed that some of those who so strongly advocate such a policy are the most extravagant in .their requests, and make the position exceedingly difficult for, the Government. Men are demanding high wages and reduced hours of employment, instead of endeavouring to produce more, and thus lighten our terrific burden. Australia is now a nation, and has new and pressing problems to face, and the Leader of the present Government (Mr. Hughes), and the soldiers who fought for us, are responsible for Australia . gaining national status. Money must be made available for carrying out the great responsibilities that come to us as a nation among the great Commonwealth of nations which comprise the Empire.
I am glad that provision has been made in the matter of defence, and that an earnest attempt is being made to protect our great Commonwealth. I am not going to cavil at reasonable expenditure in this direction, because I am not able to determine whether it is reasonable or not. Those who are responsible for giving effect to the policy of the Government must decide that. The Government have done well in providing for the soldiers on their return. We have always said that the soldiers were worth all we could do for them, and, during the whole period of the war, I was closely associated with our fighting men and their requirements. I cannot say whether all the money has been wisely expended, but I am prepared to trust the Government officials to do what they believe to be right in this direction. I do not say there is not any room for criticism, but I know there is room for sympathy, because the position has been very difficult. New Department’s have been created and new regulations framed to enable our men to be successfully repatriated. I know, from experience, that there are instances in which greater consideration could have been shown to returned soldiers, because cases have been brought under my notice, but I preferred to lay them before the Department instead of ventilating them in the Senate. I intend in the future to act upon that principle, because I believe that grievances can be more expeditiously and satisfactorily remedied by approaching the Minister of the Department instead of bringing them before Parliament,
Some dissatisfaction has arisen in certain directions in consequence of the undue delay occasioned in cashing the war gratuity bonds. An instance came under my notice a fortnight ago, where a returned soldier who returned last July, and who was in the same battery as my son, experienced considerable difficulty. I had a conversation with the man, and he said, “ I want you to help me in getting cash for my bond.” I directed him to the sub-Treasury in Brisbane to ascertain what could be done. I considered that his case was one in which there ought to be no hesitation in cashing the bond, because he had helped himself in every way possible, and was engaging in an enterprise which showed that he had both courage and ability. Men of that kind ought to be helped as far as possible by giving them cash for their gratuity bonds, if they want it. I do not know whether cash was granted in this case or not, but I know that the man took up a farm at Caboolture, and is making a success of it, according to what he has said to me. I have read carefully all the reports in relation to repatriation, and have had to do with repatriation from the beginning. Taking it by and large, as the late Mr. Kidston used to say, the Repatriation Department has done wonderfully, and whatever money is necessary to be expended must be provided by us. It will be well spent if it is spent along the lines which the Government have so far proposed.
New expenditures are likely to be incurred in upholding the policy of our connexion with Great Britain. One of the best ways to spend the money of the Commonwealth is to seek to cement and solidify the connexion between Great
Britain and ourselves. Some- people seem hardly to regard Great Britain as of any account to-day. Some of these men have talked a lot about the White Australia policy; but they forget that the only way the White Australia policy can be kept intact is by our remaining within the British Empire - within the British Commonwealth of Nations. Whatever money is used to enable us to do that will also be well spent.
In my opinion the Government have fulfilled all, or nearly all, their promises to the primary producers, or have endeavoured to do 60. .Most of the honorable senators who recently came here from Queensland were returned by the votes of five different organizations, among whom were the primary producers. I read all the platforms of the different organizations, including that of the primary producers. I have watched what the primary producers have done for Queensland and for Australia, and any money used to encourage primary production will always be money well spent. I could give a number of figures on the subject, but I do not wish to weary the Senate. While I have learned that speech is sometimes silvern, I have also learned that silence is golden, and that all wisdom is not contained in long speeches. My experience is that a short speech will often contain a great deal more wisdom than one which takes two or three hours to deliver. I have delivered speeches of two or three hours’ duration, and have been applauded for them; but I am not very sure whether all the wisdom, was there or not. Looking at the sales of wool and wheat, and the arrangements made by the present Government in regard to sugar, and for the growing of cotton, and the way they have dealt with the matter of minerals in Tasmania, so far as zinc works are concerned. and taking a general view of the whole business, I think the Government have shown themselves well able to spend money to the best advantage of Australia. While they may be criticised by some people, who think they have expert .knowledge, so far as. I am concerned, until I know a good deal more about the Senate and about the Commonwealth Government, I am not going to indulge in any kind- of carping criticism. The financial statement put before us should be criticised sympathetically, because the Government have done their best, or, at any rate, have done a good deal, for the primary producers of Australia.
I notice that a new set of circumstances has been created in regard to industrial matters. It is nearly fifty years since I first had to do with these questions. Some of the things that are being proposed here and now by prominent men in the political arena have been in existence in the North of England for the whole of that period, and the men there were never enamoured of compulsory arbitration or legal arbitration of any kind. They always stood for voluntary arbitration, and I am glad that the Commonwealth Government, under the leadership of Mr. Hughes, are adopting the sanest methods of dealing with industrial disputes. There has been a great deal of talk about the abolition of the Arbitration Court. I am not so sure that it would not be a good thing to abolish it, because we have a good deal too much of lawyer-made law, and we also have a good deal too many lawyer-made regulations. These regulations are made by people outside of Parliament, and sometimes render an Act of Parliament almost ultra vires. For example, I am not sure whether in some cases regulations have not modified the Repatriation Act in such a way as to make it different from what this Parliament intended it to be. Whatever moneyis necessary for the establishment of the new Courts to deal with industrial matters will be money well spent. I would encourage, as far as possible, round-table conferences between employers and employees. That is absolutely the best way to come to the right decision in most of these disputes. I am certain that lawyers do not know the technicalities of trade, and they often make mistakes as to what is the wisest thing to be done in some of the disputes. A good deal of money has often been wasted, at any rate in Queensland, on things that have been of no good to industry at all.
The Government are doing well in their efforts to bring about taxation reform, and whatever money is necessary to be expended in that direction we should willingly find. I could read some quotations on that subject and talk about bimetallism or monometallism. We heard something yesterday about subjects of that kind.
– Do you know more about those things than you do about lawyers?
– The people appear to have a very poor opinion of lawyers, because the popular name for them is “the devil’s brigade.” I do not know whether it is deserved or not. On one occasion, a friend of mine was showing another friend the photograph of a lawyer, who in the picture’ was standing with his hand in his pocket. The other man ‘remarked that it would be far more true to nature if he had been depicted with his hand in somebody else’s pocket.
– I presume you are talking about Queensland lawyers?
– Perhaps the honorable senator has certain Queensland lawyers in his mind. Whatever money is required to bring about taxation reform ought, as I have said, to be voted willingly, because “finance is government and government is finance,” and at the present time we are overburdened with State and Commonwealth taxation. That is a matter for the men who are at the head of the Government to deal with, and I think they will deal with it well.
Whatever money is to be spent on immigration will be well spent. There are three or four important points to be remembered. First, a good and wise immigration policy is the true way to defend Australia. Secondly, it is the best way to halve Australia’s burdens and increase her produce. In the third place, it is the best way to help the British Empire, because the more British people come here the better it will be for the Empire. In the fourth place, it is the best way to promote true internationalism. If the money that is to be voted for immigration is put to the use to which I expect it to be put, the Senate will be wise in agreeing to pass whatever sum the Government think necessary.
Our great need to-day is not sectionalism, or criticism, but unity amongst all sections of the community, so that we may solve all our difficult problems, both financial and otherwise. Until we have unity instead of division, until all sections of the community are prepared to pull together for the welfare of the country, instead of each trying to get as much as it can for itself, I do not think we shall ever make in Australia the progress that we ought to make. The progress and safety of Australia, and the unity of the British Empire, are objects that every man should strive for. The men who are not striving for them are not true Australian patriots, and are not seeking to do the best for the world in which they live.
I have not attempted, in these few discursive remarks, to show that I possess a sound knowledge of finance, because I do not, and I do not know that there are many men in this Chamber who possess it, either.
– A lot of them know how many beans make five.
– It is the wisest thing to keep safely within the bounds of what one does know. A man is not a very good financier if he earns four beans and tries to spend five. He gets into difficulties, and so does a nation which tries to adopt that policy. We want sane and sound finance, and we want economy, but I do not think we want economy at the expense of the efficiency and welfare of the nation. .
– It is not my intention to occupy the Senate long.
– You are not going to criticise the lawyers, are you ?
– No; they have got me out of many difficulties in my time, and I am rather grateful to them as a profession. It is well for us who are members of this Chamber, which, I was almost going to say, is the principal Chamber of this Legislature, that has within its jurisdiction a Continent and many important outlying Possessions, to address ourselves to the consideration of the International situation. I could have almost desired, if I had been permitted to do so, to commit the few remarks I intend to make to writing, because the International situation, as it affects Australia, is at this moment so delicate in many respects, that any man who has the responsibility of helping to legislate in this country, or in any other country within the British Empire, must realize that an untoward expression, an ill-balanced remark, may do a great deal of harm.
I wish to say something once more, and I shall continue to say it until the appointment is made - for it is on this matter that I intend to hang my remarks as on a peg - about the appointment of an Australian representative at the capital of the United States of America.
– An idea which originated in this Chamber.
– Yes, and to which this Chamber gave its wholehearted support, and in respect of which there was not a dissentient voice or vote. I notice that there is some press opposition to the proposal. I am not one of those, as is well known, who continually gird at the press. The press fulfils a very important public function, but I have to remember that, in connexion with the great war through which this country, in common with the most important countries of the world, has passed, many pressmen, the same as many members of Parliament - many men who are acclaimed as statesmen - did not foresee that event which to many unprejudiced outsiders always seemed imminent. It really was as certain as the setting of the sun that Germany and the British Empire would some day get to grips. I said that when I was a member of the Tasmanian Parliament; but there were many able pressmen in the Mother Country who declined to subscribe to the view that war between Germany and our Empire was imminent. That event happened, with what disastrous results to the world is now well known, and, strong though our Empire is, we got through the dreadful crisis victorious, it is true, but not altogether unwounded, and certainly almost breathless. Another event is coming, as inevitably as the rising of the sun. We are face to face with the contingency - nay, the certainty - of a very great event. Honorable senators who have heard me speak in my private capacity know well to what I am alluding. The responsibility which should rest on all public men when they are called upon to deal with a question like this, impels me to be careful. I am not going to make any very direct allusion to the matter, which must be in the minds of all . I am simply going to say that this country wants to be forewarned and forearmed, and ready to meet a situation which may come upon it with startling suddenness any time during the next few months.
– Like a thief in the night.
– As the honorable senator reminds me, like a thief in the night. Events, like two ocean derelicts, which, following some remarkable physical law, drift on and on until they come together, are shaping themselves at the present time to bring about a certain happening. I am hoping that Australia will not be directly involved. The people of this young nation have a sufficiently heavy burden to bear at the present time without being further involved in another struggle fraught with even more portentous possibilities than the one through which they have just come. But the possibility has to be faced. Indeed, I think it is more than a possibility. It is an extreme probability, if not an ultimate certainty. Certain events seem to have been predestined from the beginning of things. They happen with that certainty which the ancients attributed to the operations of a power they called Nemesis, a Force that has been operating for thousands of years, and still is operative. We realize that certain events are bound to happen, and those prescient few who reflect upon the course of human affairs must see the same presageful signs now.
America is a very important country. I am aware of certain defects in the national character, but I, am equally aware of the tremendous latent, and, indeed, the very evident, power of the United States. I am aware of the shortcomings of its people; but taking them, to use Senator Adamson’s expression, by and large, they are a very great people, and at the present time exercise a tremendous influence in the world’s affairs. The League of Nations, because of their nonparticipation in it, is like a bird with a broken wing, unable to effect a satisfactory flight. Australia, owing to the generosity and wisdom of the authorities of the Mother Country, is worthily represented at the Conference now sitting at Geneva by a gentleman who sits in this Chamber and holds Ministerial rank. I refer to Senator E. D. Millen. Now, if Australia is represented at this League of Nations Conference, which, because of the nonparticipation of the United States of America, is shorn of much of its power, this country should surely be represented at the capital of these people whose non-participation in the League of Nations has reduced the Conference to a state almost of impotency. I know, as Senator Adamson has said, that there is a lot of talk about economy at the present time. Economy is, of course, necessary in the interests of the nation, but surely it would be unwise economy to throw our Defence policy overboard in order to save every penny we are spending on defence. Even if it costs £50,000 to £60,000 a year to have Australia represented at the capital of the United States, does anybody say that this representation will not really mean economy in the affairs of the Commonwealth, seeing that, by this policy, we may be doing something to safeguard our very existence as .a nation?
Honorable senators, the Government, and the press are surely aware of the most remarkable events that are taking place in America. Self -constituted authorities, and even Congressional Committees, are setting themselves up ae tribunals for the purpose of trying the British Empire. They have actually asked the authorities at the British Embassy . at Washington to appear before one of these self-constituted bodies to justify their action in connexion with certain matters. Now, whatever ill-feeling may be entertained by a. certain section of the people of the United States of America towards the Mother Country, I venture to say that we in Australia are, at all events, well affected on the whole towards people in the United States. I know I am, and I think all honorable senators aire. At the same time we are well affected towards the people of Great Britain, and I believe that, with very few exceptions, the people of Great Britain are well affected towards the people of America. At this juncture in our affairs we have a unique opportunity of acting as arbiter in the important matter to which I have referred. We must not allow this antiBritish propaganda in the United States to be counteracted only by a few highminded American journalists. We ought to have our representative there to inform the American people of the real position in regard to ‘Australian sentiment and possible action. I read this morning that the Premier of this State, when entertaining a gentleman who in his turn entertained us so well the other night declared that’ Mr. Lowell Thomas was doing a great deal to cement the relationship between Australia and the people of the United States by helping to sweep away any misunderstandings that might arise. Now, if this American lecturer is regarded as a factor in improving the relationships between the Commonwealth and the great Republic from which he comes, surely one of our ablest public men, a discreet man, fully accredited as our representative at the capital of the United States, could officially make pronouncements of such a character as to counteract the anti-Imperial propaganda at present being indulged in throughout the United States, and thus nullify the possibly hostile attitude of a certain section of the American people towards Great Britain.
I cannot understand why, at the present time, there should be any objection to the appointment of an Australian representative at Washington. It is one of the most important steps we can take, because, if we want exact information regarding that certain possible happening to which I have alluded, I am sure that a representative of Australia at Washington would get at the inner workings of things there. He would get accurate information about happenings in the West, and about possible happenings in the East, in a way that would be impossible to him anywhere else in the world. Therefore, in the face even of hostile press criticism, I urge the Administration not to hesitate but to make the appointment as early as possible, because I realize that it will be in the interests of Australia, as well as in the interests of the British Empire, for this country to be represented at Washington.
I think I have said enough to indicate that, in my opinion, events of a most startling nature, and with the gravest of consequences to the people of Australia, directly and indirectly, are likely to happen within the next few months. Honorable senators, individually and collectively, are acquainted with my views, and I only give this partial expression to them in public for the purpose of arousing the people of Australia to the possibility of these great happenings in the near future.
Yesterday, in response to a question, I received certain information with respect to fuel oil supplies for the Australian Navy. The answer, although reasonable enough in its way, established the fact that Australia is under the necessity of getting all its supplies of oil fuel from overseas. The British Government are in very much the same position, and it is well known that for a long time they have endeavoured to become interested in a proprietary sense in localities from whence oil supplies are derived. In this matter, the British Government have acted very wisely. They are mentioned as being substantial shareholders of the Anglo-Persian Oil ‘Company, which is about to establish refineries in Australia. So far so good. The Commonwealth Government are not shareholders in that concern, nor in any other Australian enterprise the source of whose supply is discoverable in the Commonwealth. So far, we have not yet discovered any liquid fuel within the Commonwealth. In the Age to-day I read an informative article, which, on the whole, is a. very fair synopsis of the position. As is well known, I have urged the Government to offer substantial rewards for the discovery of oil deposits in Australia, and recently they increased the reward from a few thousand pounds to, I think, £50,000. That may seem a large sum, but prospecting for oil is not an inexpensive business; and if we could only discover a satisfactory supply of oil within Commonwealth territory, it would be worth millions of pounds to Australia. In fact, it would be difficult to appraise the value of such a discovery at the present time. I do not imagine that petroleum deposits will be as important for motiye power in, perhaps, another decade. Other sources of energy will possibly have been developed, but, at present, petroleum constitutes the most important factor.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.S0 p.m.
– Before lunch, I was referring to the importance to the Commonwealth of the development of its possible oil resources. It has not been by any means satisfactorily determined in the affirmative that the Commonwealth possesses localities in which liquid oil will be discovered, but there is a high degree of probability that it does possess such localities. Speaking as a miner who has studied the literature on the subject of oil deposits, I venture to affirm that there is an exceedinglyhigh degree of probability that we shall eventually locate such valuable deposits on the mainland of Australia, if not in some of its island Possessions. But whatever may be the result of the exploitation of the Continent for liquid oil, it is beyond doubt established that we have within the Australian States vast deposits of shale containing oil. I understand that recently the Government have arranged to advance money on the £1 for £1 basis to certain enterprises in the State of South Australia. The South Australian Government propose to subsidize a prospecting enterpriseto the extent of £1 for £1 put into it by private persons, and I am informed that the Commonwealth Government is willing to assist the enterprise in the same way. I hope that the efforts to be made in South Australia under this arrangement will be fraught with rich results not only to that State, but to the Commonwealth generally. It is a good policy to attempt to discover in Australia at the present time so important a factor as oil in modern life and development.
The object of my remarks is to point out that I think the Commonwealth Government are unduly suspicious and conservative in regard to the possibilities of the shale oil deposits that have been proved by actual mining development” to exist, and which are highly regarded on the strength of the opinions of men who have a world-wide reputation in connexion with the examination of oil resources. There is no use in being “ mealymouthed “ about this matter. This morning Senator Payne very properly expatiated on the varied resources of the Island State which he and I, in common with other members of this. Parliament, represent. Tasmania is, undoubtedly, a State which contains many resources, and it has been proved beyond all doubt to contain a. very large area in which there are deposits of shale containing a very high percentage of oil. The Commonwealth Government say that they will buy the oil if it is produced. In connexion with such a matter, I think that those concerned in its production might very well say, “ Thank you for nothing.” Because, if the oil is satisfactorily produced by private enterprise, they might very reasonably expect that the Commonwealth Government would be a purchaser for naval purposes from them in preference to going to outside countries fortheir supplies. It has to be remembered that it is to the interests of the people of the Commonwealth and the Government to develop all the known resources which contain oil.
We are frequently told that Government methods are not those of private enterprise, and that Governments do not adopt business methods. It is for the purpose of setting up a contrast between Government methods and those of private enterprise that I am speaking on this matter. In the State of Tasmania it is believed that an enterprise can be established for the manufacture of cement in large quantities. Some of the greatest financial magnates of Australia have associated themselves with the enterprise, with the object of manufacturing cement on Maria Island, just off the mainland of Tasmania. It has been known for many years that on Maria Island, and the neighbouring mainland of Tasmania, there are limestone deposits and the other elements which would enable excellent cement to be manufactured. No less a person than Sir John Monash was, until recently. a director of the company, and resigned to take up a more important appointment in this State.
– He is still a director, but not chairman of the company.
– I thank the honorable senator for the information.
– Why did he leave the company referred to?
-He was asked to accept the management of the brown coal enterprise in Victoria, and for that is to receive a salary of £3,000 a year, which is a pretty good salary, even as salaries go nowadays. He could not, I assume; expect straightway to receive £3,000 a year as chairman of directors of the Maria Island Cement Company. I hope that I am not assuming too much, but I believe that my information on the subject as correct. The Maria Island Cement Company will want coal for the manufacture of cement, and what it has done has been to give a contract for. coal to certain people who believe that they have a coal mine.
SenatorBAKHAP. - In Tasmania, comparatively close to the spot at which it is proposed to manufacture cement.
The directors of this company are business men, and amongst the best financial men in Australia. They do not say to the persons interested in the coal enterprise, “ We shall wait until you have opened your colliery and produced coal, and we shall then buy it from you.” They know that it is to their interests, and the interests of their enterprise, that the neighbouring coal resources should be developed. I beg their pardon if my information is incorrect, but, after all, theirs is a public company, and I cannot, therefore, be accused of too inquisitively inquiring into the affairs of a private enterprise. I am credibly informed that they have given a contract for the supply of coal to people who have discovered certain coal seams on the Tasmanian mainland, not far from Maria Island. They really risk nothing in doing so, because if these people cannot supply them with coal, they can make an alternative arrangement to get it from some other source. But, seeing that it must be to the advantage of the Cement Company to have coal seamsexisting inthe vicinity of their operations fully developed, they have assisted the coal-mining enterprise by giving the proprietors of the coal seams a contract.
– That does not amount to very much.
– It counts for this much, that the people who are endeavouring to open up the colliery will, by means of this contract, be able to finance their operations..
– That sounds all right for the floating of a company.
– It is good enough for these men, who have as many pounds as I have pence. I say that, if such men consider this a wise ‘policy to adopt, it would not be out of the way for the Common wealth Government to do as they have been invited to do on several occasions, and give the shale oil company in Tasmania a definite contract. Motors have been run about the streets of Launceston, and engines were driven at the Launceston show with motor spirit derived from the shale at Latrobe. I have been personally assured by those connected with the enterprise that if the Commonwealth Government gave them a definite contract they could get £150,000 in hard cash to assist them in developing their enterprise, upon which a good deal of money has already been spent.
– A contract at current rates?
– At rates then current. I am sure that if the Government gave this company a contract at the prices they are paying for oil from overseas at the present time, they wouldrisk nothing, because they could make alternative arrangements should these people not be able to supply the oilthey require. If they gave the contract, those interested in the enterprise would be able to finance it on such a basis as to cause the development almost certainly of the shale oil deposits which it is common knowledge exist in the vicinity of the town of Latrobe. The Commonwealth Government, whilst very properly subsidizing such efforts in the other States, would not be acting unwisely in giving these people what they ask for.
SenatorRowell. - Did not the Minister for the Navy say that the Government would take their oil if they produced it ?
– I have already referred to that, and I say that that is too conservative a policy, seeing the position the Commonwealth is in. It is scarcely necessary to inform honorable senators who know me that I have not a pennyworth of direct interests in these shale oil deposits.
– No one insinuates that.
– I am speaking in the interests of the Commonwealth, of my own State, and of the people who have spent a lot of money in endeavouring to establish this enterprise. I ask the Government to modify the policy ‘they are observing at the present time. Every one must know that to properly develop these shale oil deposits will require a very great deal of money, and such a sum as is necessary is not readily procurable even when influential and able men interest themselves in obtaining it. It is all very well to suggest that the Commonwealth is being used as a means to advertise the scheme and assist those concerned in it by enabling them to develop the enterprise and put money in their pockets.
– That would not be an evil thing.
– It would not. Government geologists have reported on these deposits, and Dr. Wade, on the strength of whose opinion the Commonwealth has spent a great deal of money in Papua, has visited Tasmania and inspected these shale deposits and has pronounced the most favorable opinion upon them. I ask that a similar policy should be adopted for the development of shale deposits in all the Australian States. I am not speaking specially of Tasmania, but we know that these deposits exist in Tasmania and are easily accessible, since they are from 12 to 15 miles distant from Devonport, which is one of the best ports in the State.
– Seven miles.
– I thank the honorable senator for the correction. I thought that the distance would be about 12 miles.
– The pipe route is 7 miles.
– The pipe route would be very direct, and I was referring to the distance by road.
– Twelve miles is a long distance from a port in Tasmania.
– That only shows the advantage which Tasmania possesses as an island State.
– Is.it proposed to pipe the oil to the port?
– It is. I may inform honorable senators that the Broken Hill Company get their supplies of limestone for their steel works from the immediate vicinity of Melrose, in the same district, and any one may see the huge bins that are set up by the Broken Hill Company for the reception of the limestone and from which it is shot into the vessels that take it to Newcastle.
The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) is probably better aware than I am of how closely this matter is interwoven with the defence of Australia. Australia is in a perilous position if she must be dependent on outside resources for the fuel she requires for the Navy. . I do ask the Government very respectfully to abdicate somewhat from the position they have at present taken up in this matter. lt is an extremely conservative position. They are going to subsidize - and to this I have no objection - efforts to discover liquid oil; but they apparently are not prepared to do anything to assist in obtaining oil from known shale oil deposits. ‘ Senator de Largie, as a Scotchman, may know more of shale oil deposits than I do. Oil is retorted from shale in Scotland, and persons competent to express a valuable opinion on the matter tell me that the . Tasmanian shale contains many more gallons of oil per ton than does the best Scotch shale.
– It must be good.
– It is, very good. The question is whether the Government will modify their extremely conservative policy and do something to develop deposits which we know to exist, as well as subsidize attempts to discover what at present it cannot be definitely said we possess.
I rose for the purpose of referring, as I have done, to what I think is a most pregnant international situation. I wished also to make some particular reference to this naval fuel matter, as we have had what I regard as a disclosure of a very unsatisfactory attitude on the part of the Government to the shale oil deposits of the Commonwealth, ardb of Tasmania in particular. I do not want what I have said in connexion with the international situation to be misconstrued. It is a grave situation. I have endeavoured to be very careful and conservative in the remarks which I have made. But once more the people of the Commonwealth will be welladvised to take every precaution to be forearmed as a consequence of being forewarned, and to do everything that they can to establish themselves safely within ‘the ambit of the British Empire. If the Empire should perish we should perish, and if we perish the Empire would very soon disintegrate. It is a very curious Empire. It ‘ is true that it survived the amputation in respect of the American colonies, which have grown to be an Empire in themselves - nominally a republic, to be sure, but with an importance in the world which is indeed Imperial. I do not think that at this stage of its history the Empire would survive any further amputations. If the Commonwealth or South Africa were dissevered from the Empire, or if we lost India, the Empire as an Empire, in the sense in which we understand it, would very soon go to pieces. God forbid that such a thing should happen, for, beyond all doubt, the Empire, with whatever defects it may possess, is one of the greatest civilizing influences .that have ever appeared upon the’ world’s stage. The hope of civilization really rests uponthe maintenance of the British Empire, possessed, as it is, of those ideals which are shown to be more and more elevated every day. The people of the Commonwealth proved, in connexion with the recent war, that they have inherited the spirit which is peculiarly British. They have proved themselves capable of great efforts ; they have shown themselves to be stern and steadfast in the face of apparently overwhelming disaster; and their best care for the future should be to take heed of the words of the most modern and most virile of English poets -
Though all we know depart,
These old commandments stand,
In courage hold your heart,
In strength lift up your hand.
We may have to lift up our hands again, therefore we must maintain our hearts with courage, for the future is big with fate - fate involving the issues which must definitely govern ourcountry.
– Our Standing Orders very wisely impose no limit upon the discussion of the first reading of an Appropriation Bill. Instead, therefore, of honorable senators having their remarks restricted, as is the case upon motions for the second reading of Bills, they are at liberty to roam over a very much wider area. This is a very wise provision, especially if it results in speeches of the character of that to whichwe have just listened. The speech of the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat was at once edifying and instructive, whilst the patriotic note which pervaded it appealed to us all.
At first sight, an expenditure of £30,000,000 impresses one as being an exceedingly heavy burden for a small community to bear. It will be remembered that, upon the establishment of the Federation some twenty years ago, it was estimated that the annual expenditure of the Commonwealth in its initial stages would be only about £1,500,000. We seem, therefore, to have progressed at a marvellous rate, so far as our spending capacity is concerned. Today we are expending almost£1 where, in the early days of Federation, we expended only1s. But, whilst that circumstance impels critics to level against us charges of extravagance, we must not lose sight of the fact that the Commonwealth is now discharging very great services, which previously were either not discharged at all or were discharged by the States in a most halfhearted manner. There is, for example, the old-age pensions which the States neglected to pay for years, and there is also the maternity bonus. These items figure prominently in our annual Budget, and they are charges which’ ought to be borne by the taxpayer.
Then there is the question of defence. In pre-federation days the word “ defence” was almost a misnomer.We were saddled with a very small expenditure under that heading, and we did not stand squarely under our burden as we are endeavouring to do to-day. At that time the cost of defence was only about 6s. or 7s. per head, whereas the people of the Old Country were paying something like 35s. per head. In order to honorably uphold our end and to discharge our part in the joint efforts to preserve our country, it was time for us to increase our expenditure upon defence, and that necessarily meant a bigger Budget than we were confronted with in pre-Federation days.
Then we have industries which but for Federation would never have been established. I am pleased that the sugar industry has been placed upon a sound basis. But those engaged in that industry ought not to make use of their entrenched position, in an industrial sense, to levy extra toll upon the consumers of this country. In wandering through Queensland recently I had pointed out to me sugar lands with standing crops upon them - lands which I was informed are to-day worth £80 or £90 per acre, but which only a few years ago were in a primeval state. I was informed that men working in the sugar industry are earning 30s. per day. But, simultaneously, the dairying industry there is starving, because the sugar industry is able to attract to itself labour at high rates of wages which its sister industry cannot afford to pay. I am pleased to know that, as the result of Federation, the sugar industry has been placed upon a sound basis. But for
Federation it would never have had the free market for its product which is now assured to it, and which i3 to-day so roundly condemned. Condemned by whom? -By the very men who in pre-Federation days were its foremost champions. I notice that Mr. Gardiner, of Western Australia, for example, finds fault with this Chamber, presumably because he is not here himself. He says that it is a farce; but it must be recollected that he ran away from his position as Treasurer of Western Australia when he might have been of some service to his State.
– He was always a good critic.
– The sober sense of the majority of the people of Western Australia is altogether at variance with the views entertained by Mr. George and Mr. Gardiner, whose utterances reached us across the wires yesterday. These men have over and over again taken it upon themselves to level charges at a distant Parliament and a distant Government. But, so far as I know, this Parliament and this Government spring from the same class of people as do Mr.’ Gardiner and Mr. George. Every man in every State has to struggle for his living, just as have the people of Western Australia. The overwhelming sense of the people of that State still stands where it stood when she entered the union.
I repeat that the Commonwealth Government to-day is a vastly different institution from what it was in the early years of the Federation. To-day it is a vast ship-builder and ship-owner. It is also a big. railwayowner. In this connexion, we must remember that it has had foisted upon it the only large railways which are unpayable in this country. It cannot perform miracles, and, consequently, it cannot make these long stretches of line, payable propositions. To that extent, therefore, our annual Budget must necessarily be enlarged. Our expenditure must increase when we increase our activities in response to the public demand. If the £30,000,000 provided for in the Budget be wisely and economically expended, I have not a word to say against that expenditure. But if it be unwisely expended, I should have much to say if I could only place my finger upon the spot where that unwisdom is evidenced, or where the Commonwealth does not get 20s. worth of work for each 20s. which it spends.
In our Public Service I realize that we have men who are being underpaid to-day. If they left the Service, they would command much higher salaries outside. But from a spirit of loyalty or from some other praiseworthy motive, they continue in our Public Service, and thus sacrifice themselves. Unfortunately, our Public Service Act has a fatal tendency to make men secure in their positions - to make them feel that there is no power upon earth which can dismiss them. In these circumstances, they are naturally prone to rest upon their oars and to refrain from giving to the Commonwealth the best service that is in them. An impartial observer coining to Australia from abroad and visiting the Commonwealth Bank could not help being struck with the attention given bv the officers of that institution when compared with that shown at other Federal institutions. That observer would certainly say that those men were earning their money,- while others were not. I think it can be safely said that men ‘in the Public Service, man for man and merit for merit, cannot be compared with those in the Commonwealth Bank, which, of course, includes those in the sister service alongside.
– One is a business institution, and the other is not.
– That is so. I do not think it is their own fault, but it is the fault of the system’ under which they are working. I believe that they desire to be working under a more improved system that would give them’ a chance of showing .what is in them. Of course, the Federal Treasurer has to make up for the slackness or the services that are not rendered, and to that extent I shall always object to the present system until it is radically altered.
The Appropriation Bill provides a very meagre sum for scientific research, and I am sorry that a larger amount has not been provided for this most necessary branch of Government work. Scientific research is the key that will unlock the latent and hidden treasures of the Commonwealth., and probe to the bottom the many industrial problems confronting the people to-day. Waste is cutting at the very vitals of our prosperity because, we cannot prevent it, but by the application of scientific methods we could remove many of our difficulties. In the Northern State particularly they are faced with the prickly pear and blowfly pest, and in other States there are diseases in wheat and plant life that periodically present themselves, which seriously interfere with our production and result in a reduced national .income. The most effective way to combat them is to increase the amount of money for scientific research and dis:covery. It is clearly in the minds of honorable senators how the French Government subsidized Pasteur. We are told that as the results of scientific investigation, which resulted in the destruction of a worm that was causing serious losses in the silk industry, the French nation was saved as much as was lost in paying the German indemnity of £200,000,000 in 1870. As the result of investigations and wise statesmanship on the part of the Government, this man was responsible for saving an amount equivalent to that which was paid to the German Empire. That is an instance of what can be done by liberally endowing scientific investigation in this country, and I earnestly urge the Government to provide a more liberal vote towards this branch of their activities.
The position of the Commonwealth has already been touched upon in general terms by ether honorable senators. We have a heritage here that we should preserve, and that has been mentioned so often that it seems merely a platitude to repeat it. While we have a country consisting of a vast expanse of territory that can be successfully developed with very little effort, it is our duty to move forward, but this does not appear to be understood by a vast majority of the people in this country. As an illustration of how fortunate and how favoured we are, I may relate a conversation I had with an old friend a few weeks ago. He was a man whom I knew thirty years ago, and with whom I had occasionally travelled. He informed me that he had been touring Japan, and in the remote parts of that country he found nien and women laboriously tilling their small areas. In many districts he saw women working in the fields with their children . strapped to their backs. As he told me that story I could not help recalling the fact that conditions are totally different in this country. When one travels over the trunk lines of the Commonwealth and sees’ the vast vacant areas practically untouched, and where there are not men, quite apart from women, working in the fields, we must admit that conditions here are vastly different from what they are in other countries. A philosopher in the middle of last century said that “ the. distribution of population was one inevitable law, and that when it became congested in any particular area it moved to another. Itwas only a matter of time when- the people in a congested area would break away and strive to restore the equilibrium by settling in districts where it is less congested. When that occurs, in meteorological terms, there occurs a ‘ low,’ otherwise there is war, and when war occurs there were no laws of God or of man that would be respected.” I challenge any one to contradict that statement. In the first place, we came here as the followers of Captain Cook, because we found the congestion so great in the Old Country. We told the natives of this country, who. were its primeval owners, in effect, to get off the earth, as they had sat down indolently on their possessions. We ordered them to stand aside, too often in unfriendly fashion, because they were not putting the country to its best use, and we would show them how to do it. We treated them in unjust and discreditable ways to a greater extent than we had a right, and our standing injunction to them was that they did not know how to utilize the country, and we would show them the way. If we do not cease our continual warring and total lack of co-operation in the field of industry, and even in politics, we shall deserve that some other nation shall treat us as we treated the natives in early days. It will be tried by force.
– It will be tried.
– If we do not put our country to its best use we deserve to be tried by our own standards, and thrust aside. If we have not the power .to resist we must surely fall. The lesson must be learned, and every section in the field of industry, particularly those on the Labour side, should come to a better understanding. The workers of to-day have Arbitration Courts, which, they never had thirty years ago, to .which to appeal, and, in addition, they have not to face the bitter competition that existed in the past.
These remarks are merely following upon those of previous speakers, but I feel that it is time that we should comport ourselves in such a “way, nationally and industrially, as will command the support and respect of other people when, time of trouble arrives. We have lived together in peaceful security, and by reason of the fact that we were beyond the known regions of warring national politics and policies. I mentioned once in this Chamber the remark of Bismarck, when he was informed by a British plenipotentiary that the British had annexed Fiji. Bismarck replied, “Where in the devil is Fiji ? “ That shows that Australia was wrapped in her mantle of isolation, but that mantle is no longer protecting her. While that is so, ‘another alarming situation has arisen, and that ii the sparseness of our population. Our isolation in, the past was our security, but our one weakness to-day is our undoubted and palpable emptiness, which 13 a direct invitation to those not very far distant from us - who are earning a livelihood on spaces smaller than the floor of this chamber - to come to this country, where there are great inducements. It is an invitation for them to come and to share in our prosperity. The only way of preventing it is by turning this country to its utmost account. We need to co-operate more than, we have done in the past, and if we do not do that we shall be running a risk of sacrificing a great and valuable heritage. At present there is only that thin red line - that line of Imperial connexion - that is- protecting us, and while that remains we are safe. If Imperial power were weakened or destroyed our position would be hopeless. What the womb of time has in store for us no one can tell. It hides its secrets from us. If the Imperial Power were involved in. difficulties to-morrow, if a designing Power looked with envious eyes on our boundless areas and wide opportunities, saying, “ There is the land for us,” as, in fact, has been already said in the country that I do not wish to name; if that Power whose fate is still in the hands of destiny, in the womb of futurity, is not at its post when wanted, or if anything were done to weaken, or destroy, or nullify it, and we were thrown on our own resources, we should have to fight a desperate fight for the first time in our lives. What’ would the chances be? Our only safety, therefore, lies in so behaving ourselves in the meantime as to insure at least three. main things. We must bo up and doing” in this country; and, if the fight has to be fought out to bring the people in the industrial field to their senses, the sooner that fight comes about the better. We must so comport ourselves here as to be able to make, to friends and foes alike, the claim that, although we are but a handful of population, we hope to remain in inviolable possession of this country and at the same time are endeavouring to the utmost of our ability to fully exploit its resources. Our second duty is to retain to the very fullest the, Imperial connexion, so that we may have that as our second line of defence, and some may fancy that it is our first line. Our third lino of defence is so to show by our collective action and national bearing that we are .entitled to the respect of any selfrespecting Power called upon to umpire our struggle to hold this continent and put it to the best use. That can be best done in the ways which Senator Bakhap has indicated. America may, or may not, come to our assistance, hut she has Possessions in these southern seas, and it is vital to the preservation of her interests and prestige to maintain those Possessions intact. If she came to the southern seas to resist an onslaught on her Possessions, she might find in this island continent, with its 12,000 miles of coastline, and its vast harbors, with their power to accommodate American vessels, a reciprocal arrangement by which Australia could help America just as much as America could help us. We should, therefore, stand on a perfectly independent basis in the matter of mutual protection in case of external aggression, we looking after our own affairs in Australia, and the Americans looking after their own affairs in America; but when it became a question of an attack on our joint interests in the Pacific, we could stand together and resist any foe. That, then, is the third
Une .of defence for the protection and security of this country. I feel that time taken on this motion to express an opinion on this important subject _ is not wasted. The m*n who stood up in any of the Senates of the older countries and prophesied “the late war was scoffed at. I do not want to bo a Jeremiah, but it is our duty to look facts and probabilities in the face- We want to be left alone to mind our own business, as any other nation should mind its business. This Parliament is an institution with power to wield a mighty moral influence in this country. Its members, with the aid of the parties to which they belong, can do a great work in the direction of the first requirement I have stated, namely, that we should get down to business, set ourselves to honest work, multiply and increase our production, and so be able to show every other country that wo are doing our best to put our Possessions to the best purpose.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
.- I- move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This ‘ii the main appropriation for the year, covering an amount of £27,861,596. Of this amount, £9,065,233 has already been authorized by Parliament under Supply Arts, so that the amount remaining to be authorized in this Bill is £18,796,363. We have already -passed the Bill authorizing the expenditure for the year on additions, new works, and buildings ; so that on passing the measure .now submitted we shall have given full legislative authority for the whole of the year’s expenditure. There is no need for me to say anything of a general natura on the finances of the year 1920-21, because Senator E. D. Millen did this when he laid the Estimates and Budget-papers for the year on the table of the Senate on 18th September, 1920. In order to save the printing .bill, if any honorable senator desires to refresh his memory, he may look up Hansard of that date and find the figures analyzed and set out there in full.
The receipts for the year appear to be coming in satisfactorily. The Customs and Excise revenue received, up to the 3l9t October, amounted to . £10,877,619, as against an estimate of £27,933,000 for the year. It is interesting to note ‘that the amount of £10,877,619 received is £4,173,000 in excess of what was received in the corresponding period of the financial year 1919-20. The revenue for 1920-21 will probably be somewhat adversely affected later on ‘by the present difficulty regarding exchange; but, allowing for this, it is anticipated that the estimate which I have quoted above will be fully realized. The revenue from the Postal Department for the four months is slightly under the estimate, but it is hoped that with the full revenue for the year the estimate of £9,322,000 will be reached.
It is not usual in presenting this Bill in the Senate to make an. elaborate speech on the finances of the country. That is usually done o.n the ‘presentation of the Budget-papers; and I trust, therefore, that honorable senators will not expect me to go over that ground again. I propose, when we reach the Defence Department, over which I have the honour to preside, to. make a statement on defence. That, I think, will be a more appropriate time, because the whole Department will then be under review. Senator Russell and myself will be armed with information on the various Departments over which we do not preside, and will be prepared to give it if required. I have given honorable senators an undertaking that, the second reading will not be put through to-day, and if they are not prepared to go on with the discussion now, I shall be quite willing to consent to the adjournment of the debate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Elliott) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 3.25’ p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 November 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1920/19201119_senate_8_94/>.