9th Parliament · 2nd Session
The Senate met at 3 p.m. pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Govern or-Gen er al .
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the Chair.
The Clerk read the proclamation.
NOR-GENERAL entered the chamber, and being seated, with the President on his right hand, a message was sent to the House of Representatives intimating that His Excellency desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber, who being come with their Speaker,
HIS EXCELLENCY was pleased to deliver the following speech: -
Gentlemen of the Senate, and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives :
You are called together to deal with matters of urgency and importance to the people of the Commonwealth.
It is gratifying to me to see the continually increasing prosperity of the Commonwealth. The recent propitious rainfalls have considerably improved the outlook for the industries of Australia.
The financial position of the Commonwealth is satisfactory. The returns of revenue in the year now closing’ have exceeded the estimate, and as a result of careful administration the expenditure has been reduced. Recognising the importance of an early presentation of the Government’s financial proposals, the Budget will be submitted as soon as practicable after the close of the financial year .
Since the prorogation of Parliament my Advisers have met the Premiers and Ministers of the States in conference, and discussed with them matters of farreaching importance. Decisions were arrived at which will be submitted for your consideration.
Agreement was reached . as to the necessity for the abolition of dual income taxation, and proposals will be submitted to this end which will obviate the necessity for duplicated returns, simplify procedure, and effect economies in administration.
Resolutions were adopted for the co-ordination of . borrowing, the raising of loans for immigration purposes, the provision of a sinking fund in respect of all future Commonwealth and State loans, and the discontinuance of the issue of tax-free loans by Commonwealth and States.
Arrangements were also made to insure the closer co-operation of the Commonwealth and States with respect to health, the collection and distribution of statistics, scientific research, standardization of electrical .power, and the preparation and maintenance of joint electoral rolls. Details of these arrangements, which will effect general economy, promote efficiency, and prevent overlapping, will be placed before you.
The need for definite spheres of action for Federal and State industrial authorities was considered. It is regretted that the proposals of the Commonwealth were not accepted by the States. Negotiations are being continued which it is hoped may lead to a satisfactory solution.
My Advisers are confident that the production of cotton in Australia will become one of our most important industries, and play a vital part in the policy of land settlement. To encourage growers, a joint agreement between the Commonwealth arid States, based upon a guarantee and otherwise safeguarding the industry, was arrived at.
It is regretted that the Conference was unable to accept unanimously the railway gauge proposals of the Commonwealth which, while securing the immediate recognition of uniformity, would have opened up new areas for settlement. As each day intensifies the evils resulting from the disastrous policy of different gauges, and adds to the ultimate cost of the conversion which is inevitable, the Government interna? to submit further proposals in harmony with the report of the Royal Commission. Meanwhile the Commonwealth and the States of New South “Wales, Queensland, and Western ‘ Australia have agreed to the appointment of a joint Board to prescribe standards for the construction of railway’ lines affected by conversion, and for the building of rolling-stock.
The conditions under which the River Murray Agreement was originally made have necessitated a further revision of its terms. An agreement arrived at with the States concerned, which will expedite the completion of the works, will be submitted for your approval.
The Prime Ministers of the Dominions hare been invited to attend a Conference early in October next in London for the purpose of considering matters affecting vitally the whole Empire. The Prime Minister has accepted the invitation to attend, and the agenda of the proposed Conference will be placed before you.
You will’ also have placed before you the agenda of the proposed Economic Conference to be held in London concurrently with the Imperial Conference. My Advisers consider that this Conference will be one of supreme importance, and they hope there may emerge from it a policy which will insure, as far as possible, a market within the Empire for the Empire’s products.
My Advisers hope to be able to submit to you at ah early date proposals for a reciprocal commercial treaty with Canada, and they are also negotiating with the Government of South Africa with a similar object. .
The Commonwealth will be adequately represented at the British Empire Exhibition to be held next year. The full details of the scheme, in which the Commonwealth and States are cooperating, will shortly be placed before you.
In view of the responsibilities resting upon us as a result of our membership of the League of Nations, Australia will be fully represented at the forthcoming meeting of the Assembly and at the International Labour Conference.
The administration of the Mandated Territories is being conducted with the utmost consideration for the interests of the native population, and a number of Ordinances have been framed enacting further ‘laws for their protection and advancement. It is proposed to accelerate the sale of plantations, and, by granting oil and mineral leases, to encourage the investment of capital and the development of the Territories.
Proposals for the development df the Northern Territory have been formulated which will facilitate and encourage settlement. Land legislation has been revised; shipping services improved; and a policy laid down in connexion with the sinking, of bores, road construction, and telegraphic, telephonic, and wireless communication.
Recognising the national importance of railway communication with the Northern Territory, and the Commonwealth Government’s obligation under the Northern Territory Acceptance Act of 1910, my Ministers will submit proposals to extend the existing railway from. Emungalan southward to Daly Waters. This- extension will facilitate the development of a large tract of fertile territory.
My Advisers recognise the paramount importance of adequately providing for the defence of Australia, but consider that no additional expenditure should be incurred beyond that necessary for existing and vital needs until the whole question of Empire Defence has been considered at the forthcoming Imperial Conference.
You will be invited to consider a measure to provide for the establishment of a National Debt Sinking Fund and the appointment of a Commission charged with its administration.
You will be asked <to place the control of the Commonwealth Bank in the hands of a non-political Board. The legislation necessary for this purpose will be placed before you.
A measure will be introduced for the purpose of liberalizing and increasing old-age and invalid pensions.
The repatriation activities of the Government have been continued throughout the year. The work having diminished in volume, efforts are being made to co-ordinate the remaining activities so as to secure the maximum of efficiency in administration.
Experience has revealed the necessity for an early amendment, in the interest of the returned soldiers, of several of the provisions of the War Service Homes’ Act.
My Advisers have conducted a searching inquiry into allegations which have been made as to certain contracts entered into in connexion with the erection of War Service Homes. As a result of their investigations, grave suspicions have arisen in regard to one contract, and the Government propose immediately to appoint a Royal Commission to conduct an exhaustive inquiry into the circumstances of this case. Further investigations are proceeding, and action will be taken where warranted.
The migration policy of the Commonwealth is to act in full co-operation with the British Government and the Governments of the States. Agreements have now been executed between the Commonwealth, the British Government, and three individual States, and the remaining States have been invited to enter into similar arrangements. A steady stream of settlers will arrive during the current year who, under the conditions of the agreements, will be readily absorbed without dislocation of the labour market. or creation of unemployment. It is intended to extend the nomination system, which has already been productive of good results, and to encourage private schemes for the development and closer settlement of Australia.
To insure ready employment of migrants a census of resources and possibilities of development will be taken in conjunction with the States, and the introduction of settlers regulated accordingly.
It is hoped, in. co-operation with the States, to extend the facilities for housing and training the settler, on arrival, by the erection of suitable accommodation houses and the establishment of trainingf arms.
The expansion of Inter-State trade and intercourse has rendered urgent the enactment of uniform bankruptcy laws. A complete measure has been prepared, and will be proceeded with.
A Bill will be introduced to vest the control of the Commonwealth Shipping Line in a non-political Board. The intention is to place the line on a sound commercialbasis to enable it to be conducted as a competitive enterprise. Provision will be made for the regular publication and submission to Parliament of the balance-sheets of the line.
Owing to the completion of the programme laid down for the Commonwealth Ship-building Yard at Williamstown, that Yard will be disposed of. The Commonwealth activities centred in Cockatoo Island will be amalgamated with theCommonwealth Shipping Line. It is anticipated that this arrangement will result in economical working, and that the repair work on which the Yard will be largely engaged will be more effectively handled.
The works in progress at the Federal Capital have now so far advanced as to necessitate the introduction of a Bill to provide for the constitution of a Commission to control the Territory. It is proposed to empower it to raise loans for the construction and development of the City.
Realizing the urgent necessity of providing oversea markets to meet the increasing output of primary products, my Advisers have under consideration proposals for a liberal shipping subsidy to encourage direct communication between Australia and the East.
The importance of improved transit communication in rural districts is recognised by my Advisers, who are considering proposals in regard to national main road development. This scheme, which is essential to the success of land settlement and migration, will open up and develop new country for agricultural, pastoral, and mineral purposes, and give access to existing railways.
My Ministers have given close attention to the question of the improvement of postal, telegraphic, and telephonic facilities. Telephone arrears are being rapidly overtaken, and it is confidently expected to give to the public at an early date a better service than that now obtaining. Regulations arebeing drafted to encourage and control the broadcasting of wireless messages.
It is proposed to bring before you other measures, including Bills relating to Defence, Navigation, Tariff Board, Customs and Excise, Meat Export Bounties, Lands Acquisition, and Nationality.
In the earnest hope that under Divine guidance your deliberations may further the welfare of the people of the Commonwealth, I now leave you to the discharge of your high and important duties.
HisExcellency the GovernorGeneral having retired,
The President read prayers.
Sitting suspended from3.35 to 5 p.m.
Senator JOHN D. MILLEN brought up the third general report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts.
The following papers were pres ented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 3 of 1923 - Australian Postal Electricians’ Union.
No. 4 of 1923 - Australian Postal Electricians’ Union.
No. 5 of 1923 -Australian Telegraphists’ Union.
Audit Act -
Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1923, Nos. 44, 45, 47, and 53.
Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial year 1922-23 - Dated 27th March, 1923; 10th May, 1923; and 6th June, 1923.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1923. Nos. 37, 46, and 58.
Commonwealth Bank Act - Aggregate Balance-sheet of Commonwealth Bank of Australia at 3 1st December, 1922, together with Statement of Liabilities and Assets of the Note Issue Department; and AuditorGeneral’s Reports thereon.
Customs Act -
Dated 21st March, 1923, and 16th May, 1923, relating to the prohibition of exportation (except under certain conditions) of Leather.
Dated 29th March, 1923, relating to the prohibition of exportation (except under certain conditions) of certain Birds and Skins, Eggs, and Plumage thereof.
Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1923, Nos. 55, 59.
Customs Act and Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1923, No. 36.
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1923, Nos. 30, 31, 39, 40, 41, 43, 57, 67, 68.
Elections and Referendum s -
Statistical Returns in relation to the Senate Elections, 1922; the General Elections for the House of Representatives, 1922; together with Summaries of Elections and Referendums, 1903- 1922.
Statistical Returns showing the Voting within each Subdivision in relation to the Senate Elections, 1922; and the General Elections for the House of Representatives, 1922, viz.: -
New South Wales.
Excise Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 38.
High Court Procedure Act - Rule of Court - Dated 10th May, 1923.
Iron and Steel Products Bounty Act - RegulationsStatutory Rules 1923, No. 13.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired - For Defence purposes -
Kelvin Grove, Queensland.
For Postal purposes -
South Australia - Barmera, Woodville Park.
Victoria - Upper Macedon.
League of Nations - Third Assembly, September, 1922 - Report of Australian Delegates.
Meteorology - Report of Commonwealth Meteorologist for year 1921-1922.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended. &c.- Statutory Rules 1923, Nos. 32, 42, 52.
New Guinea -Ordinances of 1923 -
No. 5 - Treasury.
No. 6 - Mining.
No. 7- Supply (No. 5) 1922-23 .
No. 8 - Post and Telegraph.
No. 9 - Public Service.
No. 10 - Prisons.
No. 12- Wreck and Salvage.
No. 13 - Native Labour.
No. 14 - New Guinea Antiquities.
No. 15 - Suppression of Leprosy.
No. 16 - Pharmacy and Poisons.
No. 17-Supply (No. 6) 1922-23.
No. 18 - Judiciary.
No. 19. - Criminal Code Amendment.
Norfolk Island - Ordinances of 1923 -
No. 2 - Fugitive Offenders (Jurisdiction ) .
No. 3 - Melanesian Mission Lands.
Northern Territory - Ordinances of 1923 -
No. 4 -Venereal Diseases.
No. 5 - Crown Lands.
No. 6 - Aboriginals.
No. 7 - Crown Lands.
Northern Territory - Report of Administrator for year ended 30th June, 1922.
Papua - Ordinances of 1922 -
No. 15 - Aliens.
No. 16 - Land.
No. 17 - War Measures Repeal.
Public Service Act -
Appointments - I. M. Cowlishaw, Department of Trade and Customs.
Eighteenth Report on the Commonwealth Public Service, by the Acting Commissioner - Dated 24th May, 1923.
Home and Territories Department - H. J. Petrie.
Prime Minister’s Department -E. L. Frith, J. Brady.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1923, Nos. 14, 15, 23, 48, 49, 51.
Quaranti ne Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1923, No. 18.
Railways Act- By-law No. 24.
Report of the High Commissioner for Australia in the United Kingdom for the year 1922.
Taxation Royal Commission - Fourth Report - Fifth and Final Report, together with Appendices.
Territory for the Seat of Government - Ordinance No. 3 of 1923- Traffic.
War Service Homes Act- (Land acquired in New South Wales at Barraba, Orange (two notifications), Richmond, Waratah.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate whether, in view of certain appointments which have been made since the Senate went into recess, it is the intention of the Government to abrogate as far as possible the principle of preference to returned soldiers?
– No, it is not.
– It looks like it.
– I have to report to the Senate the Speech with which His Excellency the Governor-General was pleased to open Parliament. As honorable senators have heard the Speech read, and have been supplied with copies of it, I do not propose to take up their time by reading it again. (For Speech, vide page 5.)
.- I have the honour to move -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech be agreed to : -
To His Excellency the Governor-General.
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
Whilst there are naturally some things in His Excellency’s Speech with which I personally do not agree, I think it will be admitted by all unbiased critics that the Speech is the forerunner of a policy of sound and sane legislation, and that we may expect from the present composite Government an economical policy which will be fair to all sections of the community.
– Perhaps so; but it is my intention to speak principally regarding those matters with which my life’s work has fitted me to deal, and to leave to others those problems which they are so much better able to discuss.
I intend to confine my remarks principally to immigration, land settlement and development, primary production, the markets for our primary products, and the sale of certain Government trading concerns. The supporters of the present composite Ministry consist of men in every walk of life, including professional men, those who have been equally successful in commerce, in the secondary industries, and last, but by no means least, tillers of the soil, and others who have worked with their hands as well as their brains. Among them are also men who were ornaments to the truly progressive and democratic old Labour party, whose slogan was, “ The last man and the last shilling,” and who are very different from the “ cut-the-painter “ advocates of to-day. The supporters of the Government are proud of their citizenship in this important part of the great commonwealth of nations known as the British Empire, and place their country before party, before outside organizations-, and before personal gain. There is, therefore, every reason to suppose that all sections of the community will receive a fair deal, that legislation will be framed in the interests of the whole of the people, rather than for any part of it, and that by their actions rather than their words Ministers will prove themselves truly democratic. It may be said by our opponents that nothing has been done since the formation of the new Ministry. But, although the members of the Government have not talked much, they have been most diligent, attentive, and industrious. It has been necessary for Ministers to thoroughly investigate the past and to explore into the future before jumping to conclusions. The Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers recently held was of great importance to the Commonwealth, and at that gathering a new practice was adopted, inasmuch that, before the Conference met, the various State Governments were supplied with an agenda setting out in detail the topics to be discussed and the policy the
Commonwealth favoured, so that the States’ representatives might have an opportunity of discussing them with their Governments and formulating their views before the Conference met. Most of the ‘ meetings were open to the press, and the daily bulletins issued enabled the people to know what was being done. There are only very few occasions when it is necessary for the Commonwealth and State Ministers to deliberate in camera. It will, no doubt, be said by the Opposition that very little was achieved at that Conference; but we know that an honest attempt was made to do those things which the people by their votes at’ the last general election indicated should be done.
-What this Senate was constituted to do.
– And what this Senate will assist in doing. It was very difficult to induce, the representatives of the States to agree to all the Commonwealth suggested, but that is not surprising when one realizes the various sizes of the States, the differences between their populations, and the different outlook which the States’ representatives must naturally have upon many public questions. There are few States in Australia, and some of them are far too large; and principally on account of my desire to assist towards decentralization I am a supporter of the new States movement. As a result of the Conference between the Commonwealth and State Ministers economies will be effected, particularly as regards taxation, and remember that economy was the cry at the last general election.
– If the proposals are adopted, will it not result in a reduction of taxation forms only?
– There will be economy in every way, and considerable advantages should be derived by taxpayers. The Commonwealth will be giving a good deal away in evacuating the field of taxation as regards individuals.
– The Commonwealth Government have no right to withdraw from that field.
– If the proposal is adopted economies will result. No one is anxious for the present duplication of effort to continue.
– We are all Unificationists, but many are afraid to admit it.
– I am just a little afraid that in collecting income taxation from companies only, there is a possibility of the smaller shareholders in industrial concerns being taxed, who would not be taxed under the system introduced by the previous Government, whereby those receiving under £200 per annum are exempt. However, an effort isbeing made to give to the taxpayers of the Commonwealth that economy which they clearly indicated they desired.
It was also decided to issue no more tax-free loans, which have been the means of depriving the Commonwealth of revenue, and have played into the hands of the wealthy investors.
– If the loans were not free of income tax the rate of interest would have been higher.
– That is not so.
– Tax-free loans have been issued, not only by the Commonwealth, but also by the States, and the policy has not been a wise one by any means.
-Bbockman. - Victoria is issuing them to-day.
– That should not be so. I understand that an arrangement has been made under which tax-free loans will be discontinued.
– If we proceed as we are going there will not be any capital left in the country.
– At the Conference an arrangement was also made in regard to co-ordination in borrowing. During the next few years enormous amounts in Commonwealth and State loans will fall due, and it would be of advantage to the Commonwealth and to the States to co-operate to secure money on the most favorable terms rather than compete in the money markets of the world one against the other.
– The Conference only discussed it.
– But there is every probability of an amicable arrangement being arrived at. It would appear from the reports of the proceedings that the Ministers from the State which the honorable senator represents objected to everything.
I also approve of the intention of the Government to appoint a Board of Directors to control the Commonwealth Bank.
-Let us hope it will be a Board of bankers.
– The Government, no doubt, in their discretion will appoint good men with a sound knowledge of banking. We were very fortunate in the selection of the first Governor of the Bank, the late lamented Sir Denison Miller, who did such splendid work for this Commonwealth, and whose death we all so deeply deplore.
– Hear, hear!
– Still, it is a job too big for one man, and the Government are quite right in their proposal to form a Board.
– It was not too big for Sir Denison Miller.
– Of course, he was a very fine man; that is admitted. But honorable senators must remember that the Bank became prosperous owing to the abnormal times, due largely to the huge amount of money which had to be handled during the war. Theborrowing of money and expenditure during the war were carried out through the Commonwealth Bank, and that, no doubt, helped tremendously in the growth of its operations. Nevertheless, it is a very fine institution, and the Government are acting wisely in putting it under the management of a Board. It would, no doubt, be very hard to replace Sir Denison Miller.
– One man in that case was better than three.
– Then there is the Commonwealth Shipping Line, which the Ministry intend to put upon a sound business footing. That is necessary; but, at the same time, I would like to extend some praise to the much-maligned Commonwealth steamers. A lot of mud has been thrown at the Line by all and sundry. It, however, must be remembered that it was essential to have such an undertaking during the war, and it accomplished magnificent work for this country. The vessels which Mr. Hughes purchased have long ago paid for themselves out of the profits, and, even if given away now, would have proved a good bargain to Australia. The trouble which we have had in connexion with shipping activities is not confined to this country alone. Every country in the world has been trying to dispose of surplus vessels.For instance, America recently made enormous losses in disposing of her ships. It should not be forgotten that the Commonwealth Shipping Line did very fine work during the war, and for a considerable period after the war. Without it, how would we have got our produce away to assist feed the Mother country and bring the necessary wealth to this country, which lives upon the exports of our primary produce? However, the Government now intend to place -the Shipping Line under a Board, free from any political control The Board will be composed of shipping experts, and the Government intend to give it every chance of making the venture pay, starting off on a fair basis by writing the assets down to to-day’s market value. The proposed Board will have control of Cockatoo Island Dockyard, as it is essential for Defence purposes that that dockyard should be retained by the Commonwealth. Other dockyards, I understand, will probably be sold, along with other Government trading concerns. It is essential that the Commonwealth should have control of the Cockatoo Island Dockyard for the use of the Navy and other purposes.
One of the most important statements in the Governor-General’s Speech is that Australia will be represented, and very worthily, too, at the Imperial Conference. That is of paramount importance to Australia, because the scheme of Empire defence, particularly naval defence, safeguarding the whole of the British Empire, will be arrived at at that Conference. The voice of Australia will again be. heard in the Mother Country, and, no doubt, we will be given again the liberal treatment that has been meted out to us previously. Whilst we rely on the grand old British Navy, we must do our bit; we must play our part. I pray for the continuation of the supremacy of the British Navy, which, ever since the Battle of Trafalgar, has kept the oceans of the world free, not only to the British people, but to all people throughout the world. It is its protection that has allowed the colonization and development of the British Empire, of which we are so justly proud to be an important part. The British Navy has protected this country from its birth. We have required that protection, and we require it to-day with our undefended coast-line of 12,000 miles, seeing that the population of Australia is quite inadequate to provide for the upkeep of a Navy.
We shall also be worthily represented at the Economic Conference by our friend. Senator Wilson. At that Conference the great questions of preferential and reciprocal trade within the far-flung Empire will be the principal item to be discussed. The world war so interfered with the old channels of trade, and caused such fluctuations in the exchanges, that a thorough investigation of the position by the Empire’s commercial and financial experts, as proposed, is most desirable, and can result only in good.
It is often said that finance is government, and that government is finance, and it is satisfactory to note that the Budget will be brought forward earlier than usual ; in fact, as soon after the close of the financial year as possible.
As regards the Postal Department, whilst nothing definite has been stated concerning reductions of postage rates’ or other charges, something has been indicated. Naturally, the proper time to discuss revenue and expenditure, embracing such matters as reduced postal charges, is when the Budget is being presented. We quite agree - at least the majority does - that the Post Office should not be a taxing Department, and that there should be some decrease in the postal charges. The first duty of the Post Office is to give an efficient service and to greatly extend postal, telegraphic, and telephonic facilities, more particularly in the country districts.
The subject of national health is mentioned in His Excellency’s” Speech, and it is, perhaps, disappointing that no concrete proposals have been brought forward in regard to it. The health of the people is of great importance, and greater Commonwealth activity in this sphere is most desirable.
– The Governments are afraid to tackle it, as it is too big a question.
– I do not think so. Among the new members of the. Federal Parliament are some who understand this question thoroughly; and, no doubt, this matter will be brought forward during the coming session.
– Is it not a State matter ?
– Certainly not; it is a Commonwealth matter.
– The decision arrived at is that officers of all the States shall confer with the Commonwealth officers in regard to a policy, to be put forward later.
– That is a step in- the right direction, and is the very least that should be done.
Another important matter is that of electoral rolls. The sooner these are standardized the better, in the interest both of economy and fair dealing. Recent disclosures as to how elections are conducted in certain quarters are, to say the least of it, most disconcerting.
References have been made to the proposed construction of new railway lines and the unification of existing gauges. I am very pleased that at the Premiers’ Conference the proposal to construct a line from Port Augusta, in South Australia, to Hay, in New South Wales, was scrapped.
– As a Victorian, you should be pleased.
– As an Australian, and as one who does not want to see the substance of his country dissipated in such wild schemes, I am pleased.
– Another desert railway !
– Another desert railway, opening up country which is of little value for closer settlement.
I notice that it is intended to continue the Port Darwin line as far south as Daly Waters. I do not think that the extension is going to open up much good pastoral country, but it is a step in the right direction.
– It is a beautiful shuffle.
-It is a clever move, anyway. The line will go in the right direction - towards South Australia. It will be carried south an additional 150 miles, making possible subsequently the opening up of the rich Barkly Tableland by an extension south vid Camooweal, then southerly.
– That is what is wanted by some people.
-Of course, it is; the honorable senator has been there, and speaks from practical observation. That is the scheme which I intend to support.
– I want to see the bargain with South Australia, given effect to.
– The bargain must be honoured eventually, I agree; the line has to come through the north of South -Australia down to Adelaide sooner or later.
It is pleasing to note that an agreement has been arrived at between the’ States concerned and the Commonwealth in regard to the locking of the River Murray, which will expedite the completion of this most necessary national work. Conservation of water is essential for the proper development of Australia. If you give this country water it will produce anything. I am impatient at the delay which has already taken place in regard to the conservation and distribution of water in Australia, but particularly so with regard to the locking of the River Murray. The Ministry, however, now intends to push on in an energetic manner with that great national work.
I regard with satisfaction the intention of the Government to be well represented at the British Empire Exhibition. I impress upon the Government the necessity for seeing that Australia’s produce is adequately exhibited there. At all past exhibitions, whether held in London or elsewhere, wool, which is our greatest staple product, has not been exhibited in the quantity or quality which its importance warranted. I have seen several exhibitions at which a greater amount of space has been devoted to the display of apples than to the display of wool, which key industry is worth over £40,000,000 a year to Australia.
– It does not require advertising.
– It is not necessary to advertise it to the buyers of the world, but considering its excellence it is advisable that it should be properly displayed at that enormous exhibition when we have in hand big immigration schemes, as it will enable the people who are thinking of coming here to see what we have been able to grow on the land which is waiting for them to take up. Wool is Australia’s trump card; we have 850 different classes of wool, and can supply the buyers of the world with every possible requirement.
– And we will soon have cotton.
– I will deal with cotton and other products presently.
I hope that Sir John Higgins may be induced to. give some assistance to the British Empire Exhibition Committee in the selection of the wools to be sent; because it is of great importance that Australia should make a bold, attractive display of ‘her primary products) . and that our wools should be prominently displayed. Now as regards the timber industry, which has been so shamefully neglected in Australia, I shall be very sorry if Australian woods, which are second to none in the world, are not used exclusively in the building of the Australian pavilion. I think that the restaurants, also, in the Australian portion of the Exhibition should use Australian flour, butter, fruits, meats, milk, wines, and other produce. We make very good wines, and they should be brought under the notice of the public in England.
– Every provision has been made in that direction.
– I am very glad to hear it.
At last there seems to be some hope of proper action being taken in regard to the Northern Territory - which in the past has been fooled about by Labour Governments in the most ridiculous manner. The Batchelor farm cost £25 an acre to clear, and when cleared, the land was not worth 25 pence an acre. There have been other “ wild-cat “ and impracticable extravagances.
– Did you ever see. the farm ?
– I have not, and do not want to, but I am fairly well acquainted with the Northern Territory, and did very well there. My father, Thomas Guthrie, was the pioneer - as regards the sheep industry in the Territory, and after an unassisted uphill fight he won through, and lives to enjoy his wellearned success. Any sensible business man can see that the Labour Governments have not made a success of the Northern Territory with their “ wild-cat “ schemes. Theonly practical way in which to develop outback country like that is to give long leases and good tenures to the pioneering pastoralists who blaze the trail, and to put down bores so that the country may be properly served with water. Everybody knows that it must first be developed as a large pastoral area. What can you do with a farm in the Northern Territory ? It takes you all your time to make 1,000,000 acres pay. With the Nationalist Government it has been a case of “out of sight out of mind” with the Northern Territory.
– I think it has been more a case of “ out of pocket “ than “ out of mind.”
– It has been both. This country must be opened up by the pastoralists, who must be given encouragement. I think that a port should be established at the mouth of the Macarthur River, which has the best natural facilities in the “Territory, in addition to possessing a rich hinterland. I understand that the Government recommends the opening up of a port there. The people must be given better facilities in regard to transport, telegraphic, and telephonic communication.
I am sorry that no reference has been made in the Speech to the treatment of Vestey Brothers, at Port Darwin. It is regrettable that this firm, which spent about £1,000,000 in the erection of magnificent freezing works, should have been treated by successive Governments in such an unsympathetic manner. In that great empty North we should welcome capitalists who are in a position to build such works and employ such a vast quantity of labour at a high rate of wages.
I am very pleased that the Government intends to liberalize old-age and invalid pensions. I hope that such action will notbe long delayed, because I do not consider that, with the increased cost of living, the present pensions are adequate. In view of the present and prospective prosperity of Australia, we can well afford to treat liberally the aged and infirm of this country. I hope the pensions will be increased to 20s. per week.
There is a reference in the Speech to the Federal Capital at Canberra. This may be regarded as a hardy annual. Some foundation stones have been laid at Canberra - quite a setting of them - and I have heard that they are at the present time nicely covered with moss. This serves to hide their crudity, and I personally hope that the moss will be allowed to grow. I have always contended that we can make quite as good, or as bad, laws in Sydney, or in Melbourne, as we could if this Parliament were transferred to the bush.
I am glad to learn that the development of main roads, which is a great national work, is going to be put in hand by the Federal Government.
– To be consistent, why not advocate the spending of all the money upon road development on roads around Sydney and Melbourne?
– That would not be wise. I differ entirely from the policy suggested by Senator Duncan. My policy is to open up the country by the construction of good roads.
-We shall be opening up the country if we go on with the building of Canberra.
– What are we going to do at Canberra? It is a windswept, cold, miserable place, in poor country that would not keep a bandicoot. The honorable senator, I think, will agree that the development of main roads is an essential and national work. The construction of national roads should afford a vast amount of employment, and absorb any persons who may be unemployed in Australia. I personally believe that no man who is willing to work should be out of work in this vast, rich, and only partly developed continent of Australia.
The immigration question is one of the greatest importance to this country. In this connexion, I regret the action of the executive of the Labour party. A special committee was appointed in Sydney recently in connexion with immigration, and the policy proposed by the Labour party is, in my opinion, a very shortsighted and regrettable one. I notice that Mr. Willis, the president of the movement in New South Wales, states that between conferences the executive of the Labour party is supreme, and can hang, draw, and quarter. This is a little pastime which they follow over in New South Wales in dealing with each other when shocking disclosures about ballotboxes are made. However, the numerical strength of the Labour party in this Chamber is so small that, perhaps, it would not be “ cricket “ at this juncture to say much more concerning the lamentable things that are going on at the present time in connexion with the Labour movement.
A Stranger interjecting,
– Order! Whoever made that interjection from the gallery must be put out at once. This is a free Parliament, the members of which may discuss anything they please without any interference from outsiders. I order the attendants to remove the interjector whoever he is.
SenatorGUTHRIE. - I shall say no more about the appalling spectacle that is beingpresentedin Sydney at the present time.
I note with satisfaction that the Federal Government and most of the State Governments of Australia realize the importance ‘and urgency of migration within the Empire. To my mind, the most pressing need of the British Empire to-day is the redistribution of its people. In this rich, empty continent, with its defenceless coastline of 12,000 miles, we are to-day living in a veritable fool’s paradise. If honorable senators . will look into tie subject they will find that, although Australia is larger than the United States of America, and quite as fertile, Americahas a population of 105,000,000, whilst we have a population of only 5,500,000. Australia is twentyfive times larger than the British Isles, but their population is nearly ten times greater than ours. If we consider the countries of Europe comprising an area equal to that ofthe well-watered coastline areas of Australia - not of the whole of this continent - we shall findthat those countries carry a population of 310,000,000. Let us come nearer home and examine our position in the Pacific. Australia, with an area of 2,974,581 square miles, has a population of 1.76 to the square mile, and most of our people, as honorable senators are aware, are settled in the eastern and southern coastal districts. The Northern Territory has an area of 523,620 square miles, with a population of.009 per square mile. Western Australia, which is one of our great States, has a population of . 34 per square mile. Queensland, which comprises a great area of very fertile country, has a population of 1.08 per square mile. South Australia has a population of 1.23 to the square mile. The largest States have the most extensive coastlines, and they are practically empty. The sparseness of our population is accentuated by the fact that it is very largely centralized in the capital cities of the different States. Now, what of our neighbours? We are situated in the Southern Pacific,and have no adequate means of defending ourselves. The black peoples of the world at present outnumber the whites by two to one, andthey double their numbers every forty years.
– The blacks alone, or all coloured people?
– The blacks alone. The yellow and brown peoples double their numbers every sixty years. The white nations of the world take three times as long. Let us consider that wonderful country of Japan, in the Northern Pacific. The Japanese possess one of the finest navies and one of the greatest armies in the world. They are a very industrious and a very ambitious people. Japan has a population of 260 to the square mile as against our 1.76. Honorable senators will bear in mind that only 16 per cent. of the area of Japan is habitable or can be cultivated. The rest is nearly all composed of more or less barren mountain ranges. If we considered only the habitable area of Japan its population would represent something like 2,000 per square mile.
– What does the honorable senator consider the habitable area of Australia?
– I think that every part of Australia is habitable. I know that people living in the centre of Australia, where there is a rainfall of only 5 inches a year, are healthy, happy, and contented, though I must admit that they require to occupy a large area of country. The populations of the nations surrounding the Pacific number 700,000,000, and their net annual natural increase is greater than the total population of Australia. What are we going to do about it? I know some very learned men who are of opinion that the extent, richness, and emptiness of Australia create such a menace to our safety that if the League of Nations grows stronger, as we all desire, instead of weaker, our position may very conceivably become one for the League to deal with. Its function will be to consider the interests of all the nations of the world, and the League of Nations may very possibly say, “ Here is a country with 1,000 people to the square mile, whilst you in Australia have a population of only 1.76 per square mile. You have no one in the northern half of your continent at all, and do you not think that it would be a fair thing to confine yourselves to a certain area of it?” Some very great students of history have put that possibilitybefore me. I doubt whether the League of Nations will ever have sufficient power to act upon such a suggestion. I have far more fear that some country that is overpopulated, with an ambitious and powerful people jostling each other for elbow room, may tell us that it wants a portion of Australia. I do not know what our answer would be if it does. Again we shall have, as always, to rely upon the grand old British Navy, and I hope that the British Navy will always be supreme. I trust that the building of a Naval Base at Singapore will be pushed on with without delay. Although our relations with all the nations bordering the Pacific are at present very friendly, if we continue in our present condition I am afraid that Australia, so rich and so empty, may be too tempting a prize for countries that are pressed for room for their populations.
– Would not a Naval Base in Australia be better than a Naval base at Singapore?
– Another Naval Base situated in Australia would be a very excellent thing, and I should like to see such a Base established in Sydney, which, I think, would be the best place for it. Honorable senators must have realized that what I am coming to is that the cheapest way of defending any country is to people it, just as that is the only way in which to develop it. This is why I am so keen on immigration. So far, to my mind, the results of our immigration policy have been very disappointing. I think we lost a golden opportunity. After the war there were many magnificent men in the old British Isles prepared to emigrate, and we should have secured a larger proportion of them than we have got. The Federal Government, I hope, are going to put much more energy into their immigration policy in the future. So far, we have only muddled along. We have talked a great deal about immigration, but have done alarmingly little. There are hundreds of thousands, and some say millions, of good men and women in the Old Country who are available; we want families. There are many ex-service men out of work in the Old Country at the present time, and the British Government are spending £70,000,000 a year in unemployment doles.
– Does the honorable senator think that we could provide them all with employment here?
– I shall try to prove that we can do so. Would it not be far better to attract these people to this great country of wonderful opportunities ? So far, the results of our immigration” policy have been so disappointing that there must, in my opinion, be something radically wrong about the way in which attempts have been made to give effect to it. I hope that the present Federal Government will be more energetic in this matter, and that the State Governments will co-operate more wholeheartedly than they have done in the past. I trust that certain States will show more sincerity than they have shown in the past about bringing people of our own kith and kin to this country. The smallness of our net gain in population through immigration is a matter for serious consideration. The net gain to our population in Australia, by means of immigration during the past ten years, has averaged only 15,000 per annum.
– There was a war going on during that period.
– That is so; but the increase to our population through immigration since the war has been very disappointing. The number of assisted immigrants arriving in Australia from the close of the war until 1922 was only 24,000, although there were hundreds of thousands of migrants available. Some of the State Governments have been seeking immigrants in a half-hearted way. The Commonwealth Government have rendered assistance financially, and in connexion with propaganda work. Although Australia is incomparably the richest and most attractive of the British Dominions, we are not holding our own in this matter even with other portions of the Empire. I find upon investigation that Canada last year secured 39,691 immigrants. Canada is not nearly so attractive a country as Australia. I have been in Canada, and’ am able to form an opinion. “ Senator de Largie. - Canada is not half so far away from the Old Country as Australia is.
– That is so; But the attractions of Australia are very much greater, and people can be brought out here very cheaply now. This is a better country, with a better climate than Canada has, and we need population more urgently.
– Is it not a fact that at the present time more people are leaving Canada than are going ‘into tEat country ?
– I have’ taken figures from the Commonwedith YearBoole, which honorable senators will agree is a wonderful publication, and a great credit to our statisticians. I find that the United States of America last year secured 37,291 immigrants, Australia 30,000, and little New Zealand, a very fertile but a comparatively small country, 10,000. The Australian figures are all the more disappointing, if not disconcerting, when one notes that the actual net gain from immigration was only 24,000 last year, and only 15,000 in the previous year. I say that, considering the urgency of the matter, that is a miserable result. As illustrative of the splendid class of people available, I might mention that of all those who left Great Britain last year and migrated to various countries, only 1,000 were sent back on account of being considered unsuitable.
– You are not taking into account the natural increase.
– No. I shall deal with that aspect of the matter a little later. I maintain that we must have more people. “We want white folk, and for preference we should have Britishers. It is necessary, however, to energetically prepare the way for them. I shall attempt to show in what manner we can do that. It would be useless to bring out ship loads of people and set them adrift in the cities, lt is essential that there should be a comprehensive immigration, developmental and land settlement scheme. I have always maintained that the best immigrant of all is the Australian baby, but unfortunately they are too slow iD coming along. The annual birth-rate in Australia is only 25 per 1,000 of the population, as against 44 per 1,000 in European Russia and 32 in Japan. South Africa beats Australia with 28.9, while Austria has a natural increase of 31 and Germany of 27.5 per 1,000. Although fifty years ago the population of Australia increased at the rate of 44 per 1,000 per decade, it has now dropped to 22 per 1,000. The total annual increase in population in Australia is 1.67 per cent. It is quite apparent that the most urgent need of this island continent is more people. We are most desirous of upholding our cherished ideal of a white Australia, but, if a white Australia is to be maintained, the sooner we have more people here to help us to defend our country the better. It is clear that we are hastening too slowly, and, good as are the proposals and arrange-* ments in the agreements between the Commonwealth and the States, they do not. go far enough or fast enough. The British Government have been paying £70,000,000 per annum in- unemployment doles, but it would be a far better investment if Great Britain assisted her sons and daughters to migrate to this vast, rich, empty outpost of the Empire to help protect and develop it, to help feed the Mother Land and to provide her with a larger market than ever for her trade. We in Australia are already Britain’s best customers per capita, and we could not do anything wiser than bend our energies to expediting developmental works and land settlement schemes on such a scale as would enable us to absorb the immigrants we so urgently need. This work would be more reproductive than a bush capital or a desert railway. I admit that the Federal Capital and the NorthSouth railway are in honour bound to come, but, for heaven’s sake, let us bend our energies to the most pressing problems first. I shall, no doubt, be asked how we are to absorb a big flow of immigrants without adding to the congestion in the cities and- aggravating unemployment.
I maintain that if the Commonwealth and the States pull together and treat the matter as a national and not as a parochial or party question there will be no insurmountable difficulties. Money is needed, of course, and we also want energy and big determined men; those are three essentials. Surely we can find all three. There is abundance of land - and suitable land at that - in Australia.
– If so, why cannot Australians get it? We have 300 applicants for one block.
– There is plenty of suitable land, and it can, and must, be made available. In the growth of some products Australia excels, and the world’s demand for them is insatiable.
– Are you advocating the confiscation of large estates?
– No. I do not think the honorable senator from New South Wales would advocate any such rob bery as confiscation without compensation. It is robbery to take land from a person who has paid for it and obtained the title. Only 162,000,000 acres of the lands of Australia have been alienated, and there are 1,741,000,000 acres still in the hands of the Crown. Yet Senator McDougall suggests that there is no land available. As a matter of fact, less than 10 per cent. of the total area has been alienated. There are millions of acres of productive Crown land that could be utilized if water, which could be made available, and means of transport and communication were provided. Looking at Australia from an agricultural standpoint, we find that only 1 per cent. of the total area is at present cultivated. We have an abundance of rich land, including millions of acres of very fertile river valleys, such as those of the Murrumbidgee, Murray, Lachlan, and the Darling. It will, no doubt, be argued by some that the best of our lands are privately owned, but the area of alienated land is proportionately very small. It is, as I have already stated, less than 10 per cent., and practically all our great artesian basins, known to embrace 1,000,000 square miles, are unalienated, and already contain 4,000 artesian bores.
– That water is not suitable for irrigation.
– Perhaps not; but it is suitable for stock, and for domestic purposes, and it has revolutionized portions of Australia. If there is not sufficient Crown land available and suitable for settlement, then, concurrently with the development and settlement of Crown lands, we should acquire some of the rich privately-owned lands such as are suitable for more intense culture. Of the 718,568 private estates in Australia, 12,182 pay the whole of the Commonwealth land tax . All the rest are under £5,000 unimproved valuation, and are therefore exempt from the tax. If it is necessary to acquire privatelyowned land, the proper method is to buy it at its fair market value. I do not think Senator McDougall would say that we should confiscate land without compensation to the owners. According to the Commonwealth Year-Book, 3,985,849 acres have been purchased for closer settlement of late years, including land acquired for soldier settlement, at a cost of £15,146,195, or an average of £3 16s. per acre. In the State of Victoria, the purchase of 575,900 acres cost £4,298,765, making an average of £7 9s. 3d. per acre.
– That includes town lots.
– Nevertheless, the land purchased in country districts in Victoria would average £7 per acre.
If we were to depend wholly on this system of settlement, it would be too costly, and I desire to propound a scheme of share farming, which I think would give very important results if well carried out. It involves less expenditure on the part of the Government, while the individual farmer requires comparatively little capital. Share farming is no new thing. It has been a pronounced success in all the States. The land-owner finds the land, and, in many instances, the house, plant, and power, and takes in return a share of the resultant crop, and/or the milk products, the settler receiving the balance for his labours. There are varying forms of agreement according to the value of the land, the improvements upon it, the amount of plant, power, seed, &c., provided by the owner of the property, and the quantity of stock such as cows, pigs, supplied, and so on. I have taken the trouble to collect actual share farming agreements from many parts of Australia, and all the agreements are available to the immigration authorities.
– The effect is that the share farmer does all the work, and the owner of the land takes the profit.
– That is absolutely incorrect. My experience has been entirely the reverse. I have known many share farmers to do so well that they have eventually bought either the land on which they have worked, or another -block in the district, and they well deserved their success, for, like most farmers, they were great workers and not agitators.
– Share farming is the only hope for a man without capital.
– Yes. It takes a good deal of money to purchase land, house, and plant. My personal experience of share farming is that it has been beneficial to both parties. The land-owner has his property cleared. The land is ploughed and cultivated, and nine times out of ten the cultivation of the soil, coupled with the use of superphosphates, increases the subsequent carrying capacity.
– Sometimes it has the effect of making the land poorer.
– I do not know of any such case. A share farmer secures a return for his labour almost straight 0 away. It is advisable for the tenant to have the option of purchasing at a fair price the block he is working, and in the majority of cases the land-owners do not object to such .a stipulation being embodied in the agreement. The sharefarming system should be considered and placed before the large land-holders, but I believe that if those holding large tracts of country had the position placed clearly before them many would not fail to realize the requirements of their country and would make available land for those who desire to undertake rural pursuits. There are some, of course, who wish to retain their estates for family reasons, and should not be forced to sell ; but if the large land-holders were to make available 10 per cent, of their properties for share-farming purposes, an immense area would at once be provided. Generally speaking, 250 acres would be adequate for each settler.
– That is not enough.
– I know in some districts it would be necessary to have 1,000 acres, but on the average the area mentioned would be sufficient. In dairying districts and on irrigation blocks many men are making a good living on 50 acres. If 10 per cent, of the large holdings was made available, a vast area of suitable land could be taken over, and on an average of 250 acres for each farm, 32,500 new farms could be established. It has been frequently proved that each farmer maintains at least four citizens , thus about 130,000 people plus their families would in this manner be provided for and become tillers of the soil and producers of wealth.
– Quite a number of the existing holdings are too small.
– Yes, and many of those which are too large should be subdivided. This system would cost the Government very little per settler, but having to purchase the land would involve a great deal of money. The farmer would also be loaded with heavy interest charges. An enormous area of land in Australia could be made available for closer settlement, but it is very difficult for the Government to acquire it. As there are many holders who do not desire to sell, for the reason mentioned, the share-farming system should be given an extensive trial. An effort should be made to induce large land-holders to dispose of a portion of their holdings either by selling, leasing, or share-farming, and the land-owner should be encouraged to provide suitable homes, for it is the housing problem which is the greatest difficulty which has to be contended with.
– What inducement would you give, to the land-holders ?
– The land-owner would sooner work a portion of his property on the share system than be forced to dispose of it. I know of hundreds of instances in Victoria where cereal-growing and dairy farming have been carried on under this system, and in nine cases o,ut of ten it has been a success. Whilst I am stressing the need for an active immigration policy, I am not forgetful of our own people who desire -to settle on the land, which is where we want them, and not in the already over-crowded cities. Centralization is a perfect curse in Australia.
Although this is a fertile country, 43.7 per cent, of the people live in the capital cities, the rural population being equal to only 37^ per cent. With such the case, there must be something radically wrong. For other countries the figures as regards the capital cities are: - Italy, 1.64 per cent.; Spain, 2.93; Prussia, 5.3; France, 7.41; Belgium, 8.91; and Great Britain, 11.83.
If we wish to make this country reproductive we must undertake extensive water conservation and irrigation schemes, and the conditions in the country districts must be made sufficiently attractive to enable the people to follow rural pursuits. I shall show what we can produce and the way in which we can profitably absorb the people. It has been said that we will require new markets, and reference has been made to subsidizing shipping lines trading with the East. We have a wonderful inheritance in this great island continent handed down to us by an intrepid band of pioneers who, considering their number and facilities, made marvellous progress and did heroic developmental work ; yet with a history of a little over a century we have, comparatively speaking, only scratched southern portions of the continent. The opportunity for expansion is limitless, and increased population, which is essential to the development of Australia and the safety of the Empire, could easily be absorbed. ‘ Considering the question from the Imperial stand-point, how very necessary it -is to people . these outposts of the Empire. To do this we have to undertake such national schemes as the conservation and distribution of water, the construction of roads and railways, and a vigorous policy of land settlement. Such schemes must be in the forefront of any sane policy, and should be the objective of every true Australian. I wish to stress and stress again that increased population in Australia is urgent, and it is only those who are ignorant or disloyal - there should not be many in either category in Australia- who oppose an active immigration policy. Though comparatively few have worked with sufficient enthusiasm, many, indeed, have given but a passing thought to the seriousness of our position. I indorse the Government’s White Australia policy, but it is futile to pass legislation with the object of enforcing that policy unless we provide more than words.
We wish new settlers not to live in the cities, but to assist in developing our latent wealth. I may be asked what we can produce without over-supplying the markets of the world.
We can produce wool, meat, butter, wheat, and ‘ other commodities of the highest quality, which the whole world requires, and for which there are limitless markets. Wool is our -great staple product, and it always has been since Captain Macarthur and the Rev. Samuel Marsden established this industry at the end of the eighteenth century., Nature has decreed through the medium of climate, soils, native herbs, and grasses that this continent can produce the best wool in the world. The gentlemen I have mentioned were not slow to realize the natural advantages which Australia possesses. For a century we have been producing the best wool in the world, and for halfacentury more wool than any other country, but, notwithstanding this, there is room for enormous expansion in the industry. During recent favorable seasons 80,000 wool-growers in Australia produced over 2,000,000 bales per annum, worth, approximately, £40,000,000, exclusive of the -value of sheepskins and other by-products. There is at present a world shortage of wool, which is likely to be more or less permanent, particularly of merino wool, which we can produce to perfection practically all over Australia, so that everything is in our favor. The world’s shortage of wool, and, more particularly, merino wool, is pronounced. During the last ten years the number of sheep has decreased, not only in South America and Russia, but almost universally. There is concurrently a greater demand for wool than ever previously owing to the expansion of the manufacture and’ use of wool by such Eastern countries as Japan, and the desire, for hygienic and other reasons, for woollen clothing by all who can obtain it.
Despite the crippled purchasing power of European nations, and more particularly of Germany, which country prior to the war took 25 per cent, of our total production year after year, the consumption has overtaken supplies, and although last year 1,000,000 bales carried over from previous P00I3 belonging to “ Bawra “ and the British Government wore placed upon the market in addition to a normal clip, the market has been a continually, or almost continually, rising one, particularly for fine wools. We have from 28,000,000 to 30,000,000 fewer sheep in Australia than we had thirty years ago, and surely the country is capable of carrying at least the number we previously had.
– But we have had bad seasons.
– Naturally, the seasons fluctuate, and New South Wales has, like most of Australia quite recently, unfortunately, passedthrough a bad time, and lost sheep. It must be remembered, however, that new areas have been opened up, and as the result of development, and the sinking of artesian bores, additional country is now available for sheep ; and then, again, it has been conclusively proved that subdivision of large estates and the advance of agriculture tend to increase rather than diminish the stock-carrying propensities of the country.
– Are sheep producing the same quantity of wool?
– As the result of science and hard work, sheep-breeders have made improvements in the direction of increasing production, and during the timeI have been associated with the industry the production of wool per head of sheep has increased fully 25 per cent.
There is no reason why we should not have as many sheep as we had thirty years ago, and with the extra wool per sheep now produced our clip would enormously increase in value to the advantage of everybody in Australia.
– In goods or in cash ?
– We usually get paid in goods; but when the balance of trade is in our favour we. get paid in cash.
– We do not get much in cash.
– It depends on the balance of trade. We should have at least 160,000 wool-growers, and instead of producing 2,000,000 bales of wool annually, we could produce 3,000,000 bales.
– If that were done, the number of manufacturers would increase.
– If we were to do what we should it would mean £75,000,000 per annum to the Commonwealth. There would be an enormous increase in employment, both in developmental and otherwork on the properties and in additional employment in the shearing) cleansing, pressing, branding, scouring, and carting of the wool, &c. This is no idle dream. It can be done with safety provided we conserve water and fodder for lean years. It is easier and more profitable to produce lucerne for cows, sheep, and pigs, than to grow soft fruits, which are difficult to handle. Such expressions as “ burst up the sheepwalks “ should not be employed, remembering the importance of the wool industry. Those whotalk thus, are ignorant of the industry and of the easily ascertainable facts. Whilst I am a strong advocate of closer settlement, it must be remembered that the lands most suitable for closer settlement are not the most suited for the production of fine wool, and that vast areas of land in all the States are at their maximum earning power growing the sheep and wool for which Australia is world famed. With 80,000 families growing wool in Australia, the employment given is far greater than the industry is ever credited with. Wool-growing is by no means a monopoly, unless one can call it a partial Australian monopoly. Australia produces 25 per cent. of the total quantity of wool, and 50 per cent. of the fine wool in the world, but we can do far more, and do it safely, given the facilities for conservation and distribution of water, transport facilities, and labour, which in the pastoral and farming industries is often scarce, without in any way taking undue risks or cramping the areas for other primary industries. Whilst growers of fine wools have experienced a profitable market for some time, it is regrettable that the prices for the coarser grades and British breeds have not been so. In fact, the coarser grades are still selling below pre-war level, and they are probably the only commodity in that position. As long as the merino studs remain intact, it is an easy matter to improve the flocks and the wool of Australia, but once disperse our famous merino studs - which great national asset only too many in and out of Parliament do not value sufficiently -and this country will lose its position in the wool world, and, to, a verylarge extent, in that of commerce. Our pure merino flocks are by far our greatest asset. We must never forget that once we disperse them it will take over 100 years to build up others in their place, and our wool clip will have been, comparatively speaking, ruined. The Government of the Union of South Africa, realizing the great importance of the wool industry, and particularly the merino studs, have, by progressive laws and facilities, encouraged growers to improve the wool clip, with the result that in a short period the figures increased from 250,000 bales to over 500,000 bales of good merino wool, though not quite so good as that produced here. During the period that I have been in the wool trade, South Africa, by the importation of rams from Australia and the adoption of up-to-date methods, increased not only the quantity but the quality of the wool in a most marked degree.
SenatorRowell. - How far north do they grow wool?
– I cannot answer that, but I know that even in Kenya Colony wool is now being grown. I personally have sold Corriedale sheep to several parts of South Africa, including Kenya Colony.
– That is Cape Colony.
– It was formerly known as British East Africa, but now it is called Kenya Colony. When people compare the present prices of wool with pre-war quotations they must take into consideration the vastly increased cost of production, and the serious decrease in the purchasing power of the money obtained for the wool.
For instance, for some years the stronger grades of crossbred wool have not realized the actual production costs, and why this should obtain in view of the high cost of clothing is a puzzle to many. But when one fully examines the facts the position is found to be as follows: - People have demanded suits and dresses made from material composed of the finer grades of wool; then, again, an increase in the cost of the wool in a dress or suit bears very little relationship to the cost of the finished article. For instance, on the average, there are 7 lbs. of greasy wool in a suit of clothes, taking an all-wool suit, and if the market price of greasy wool increases 6d. a lb., it should, in reality, make a difference in the resultant suit of only 3s. 6d. This fact is not generally recognised ; and there is no justification for blaming the wool market for the extremely high prices charged for clothes.
– As the Sessional Orders have not been passed, it is not possible for me to leave the chair in the ordinary way. I think it will meet the wishes of honorable senators if I suspend the sitting for the usual adjournment. I suspend the sitting until 8 o’clock.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 till 8 p.m.
– I should like now to say a few words about an important secondary industry. There is just as much room for the expansion of the woollen manufacturing industry in Australia as for an increased output of the raw product. I have frequently pointed out, in this chamber and. elsewhere, that it is an almost unforgivable anomaly that, whilst we produce the most and the best wool in the world, we use in manufacturing only about 3 or4 per cent. of what we grow, and import about 75 per cent. of our requirements of woollen goods. This state of affairs is due largely to an ignorant prejudice on the part of many people against Australianmade goods; but I am happy to say that, owing to the excellence of the product, the wool-manufacturing industry of Australia is making rapid strides, and. the prejudice to which I refer is being gradually broken down. It is the duty of all true Australians to do all they possibly can to improve the position in this respect. “ Australian goods for Australian people” has always been my slogan, and shouldbe adopted by all.
Another great primary industry to which I desire to direct attention is that of wheat production. We are just beginning to realize how vast is the area of our wheat-growing country. At one time we thought that our wheat belt was rather circumscribed, but the application of science to the industry has since completely altered the outlook. Better tilling of the soil, plus the use of artificial fertilizers, has converted hitherto waste lands into profitable wheatfields. Twenty years ago, for instance, the average yield in the great Mallee wheat belt of Victoria was 3½ bushels per acre ; it is now 12 bushels. In the Wimmera, the richest wheatgrowing area in Australia, the average yield twenty years ago was only 7 bushels, as against 25 bushels to-day, with thousands of acres of the better-worked farms averaging from 40 bushels to 50 bushels per acre. Instead of having 9,000,000 acres or 10,000,000 acres of land under wheat in Australia, producing from 120,000,000 to 150,000,000 bushels per annum, or an average yield per acre of 11 bushels, we could double the area, and more than double the total production, without seriously interfering with the world’s supply or the world’s market. Australia occupies a pre-eminent position from the point of view of wool production, but is still rather “ small potatoes “ in the matter of wheat production. But I am glad to know that, despite our handicaps, we are making progress.
To enable us to compete with other countries, where the average yield is higher and the markets closer, we must give our farmers greater transport facilities, cheaper fertilizers, cheaper implements, and cheaper oversea freights. At present they are seriously handicapped by indifferent roads, dear railage, dear fertilizers, dear implements, and heavy ocean freights. The more general use of superphosphates is essential if our wheat-growers are to obtain increased yields, whilst a more general application of fertilizers is also advisable in the treatment of grass lands, particularly if these are utilized for carrying stud stock.
– How does the price of fertilizers in Australia compare with their cost elsewhere?
– In this State the price is £6 5s. per ton. Australia urgently requires superphosphates, and the cheaper the better.
– It is cheaper in Australia than elsewhere.
– I am very glad to hear that it is, but it should be made cheaper still, because the top-dressing of grazing lands with superphosphate brings about that most desirable result of making two blades of grass grow where one grew formerly.
– Curiously enough, superphosphate is cheaper in Western Australia and South Australia than in Victoria.
– Yes, butI understand that for some reason best known to themselves the Customs Department recently removed the duty on sulphur in South Australia and Western Australia. I should like to know why this course was not. followed in Victoria also, because the duty is fairly heavy, and sulphur is essential for the manufacture of sulphuric acid, which in turn is, necessary for the production of superphosphates. Personally, I should like to see the duty taken off sulphur altogether, so that the producers in Australia could get superphosphates more cheaply.
I turn now to the consideration of the output of milk and milk productsin Australia, and I shall endeavour to point out to honorable senators how, if we organize this industry properly, it will help absorb this heavy influx of immigration and also greatly increase our wealth.
Let us examine the position of our milk products. In Australia we have about 2,000,000 dairy cows, but I regret to say that, with the usual exceptions, they are rather a poor lot, their average yield being only 314 gallons of milk per cow, and 100 lbs. of butter fat per annum; whereas in Denmark, where pastures are no better, but where science has been applied to the industry by the Use of pure bulls and Government herd testing, the average of butter fat is 300 lbs. per cow per annum. We should greatly improve the quality of our dairy herds. I believe in Government herd testing and the use of pure instead ofscrub bulls.
– What strain does the honorable senator favour ?
– Red Polled are, inmy opinion, the best all-round cattle, but there are many splendid breeds.
– What is the favoured breed in Holland?
– Holsteins, which are enormous producers of milk, and also enormous consumers of hay stacks. In America, where some practical experiments have been carried out, very satisfactory results have been proved to follow the use of pure bulls, even on scrub cows. In two generations, by the use of pure bulls, they have doubled milk and butter fat production. Therefore I am a strong advocate of the use of pure bulls in order to build up our dairy herds.
Now, as to cotton. There is such a wave of enthusiasm regarding the prospect of cotton growing in Australia that there is no need for a wool expert, like myself, to say much about it. But I know that Australia can grow as good length, colour, and quality cotton as any country in the world, and that there are vast areas here suitable for its production. And like wool, there is this important requisite for its success - a world’s market under-supplied. The latest reliable statisticsreveal that consumption has overtaken supply, although Europe has only been able to purchase 70 per cent. of normal requirements. The figures are: -
A bale weighs 478 lbs. It is clear, therefore, that we can, with safety, grow large quantities of cotton which, like our sheep and cow products, gives a quick and sure return, and we need not spend a penny in looking for new markets. Just how much cotton we shall be able to grow profitably in competition with other countries that use black labour I would not like to say, but it is a safe industry for our returned soldiers to embark upon, especially those with families,who could assist at harvest time. Moreover, it is an industry that may be worked in conjunction with fruit-growing, or, perhaps, better still, to some extent in place of fruit-growing - that is, soft fruits.
Extension of time granted.
I think it would be better if some of the orchardists would give up growing soft fruits and devote their attention to the growing of lucerne and cotton.Look at the world’s position in regard to cotton. I have shown that there is a shortage in the supply. The pre-war price, taking middling American as a standard, was 4½d. ; to-day it is 14.89d. - an increase of over 300 per cent. Therefore, it is not necessary to spend money in looking for new markets for fruit when there are commodities for the production of which Australia is preeminently suited - such as wool, wheat, and cotton. The fruit industry, I maintain, has been over-boomed, because various Governments have encouraged settlers to grow far too much soft fruit. They have grown those fruits well; but what return have they received for their hard work ? - far less than they would have received had they produced other commodities. I frankly admit that one of the best, if not the best, examples of close settlement in Australia, is Mildura. The settlers on that area were able to win through because of excellent organization and the fact that they devoted their attention to the production of dried fruits. The production of soft fruits already is overdone; the local markets are over supplied. Those fruits are difficult to handle and to distribute; apparently so difficult that our poor unfortunate growers, after years of toil, although they have the goods to sell, cannot get a fair return for the labour they have put in and the capital they have sunk in the venture. In nine cases out of ten fruit is too dear when it reaches the public to permit of its being consumed to as great an extent as is desirable. Much money has been spent on, and a great deal of Government assistance rendered to, the canning industry, but what a dismal failure it has been ! Why ? Our fruit is first class in quality. There was a good market abroad, especially, in the East, but it has been throttled. In the Australianpress recently I have seen such headlines as “ The Fruit Industry. Why is it Depressed ?” “ Shattering theExport Trade.” “ Business in Canned Fruits at a Standstill.” In a special article on fruit-growing in last week’s Australasian it was stated-
Pools for canned fruits, whilst they have assisted to drain the taxpayers’ pockets, have in no way improved the position of the softfruits industry.
The official who was sent Home by the Commonwealth Government to investigate the position of the fruit trade reported -
Strict supervision willhave to be maintained over all canned fruits sent away, and, if only our best standards of quality are exported, he is confident that the Australian trade in these lines will grow rapidly. But, for the present, it is evident that the canning industry is the victim of past Fruit Pools. Stocks remain on hand both here and in England. The market value for these goods has already fallen below the cost of production. Retailers are aware of this, and will not replenish their stocks. In. other words, business in canned fruits has reached a standstill.
This is all very regrettable, hut nevertheless is true. I will read to honorable senators a letter which I have received from a gentleman who buys the whole of the canned goods for the Indian Army. He says -
As regards the question of finding markets for Australian goods iri India, I unhesitatingly say that there is a wonderful opening here if it is only tackled’ in the right way. As Major Currie has probably informed you, I am in direct touch, and have had considerable experience in the markets of India. I buy the whole of the tinned goods as supplied to the Army in India.
Right here, I must emphasize the point that, until Australian manufacturers realize that the present get up of their packings, the slip-shod way in which they pack, and as regards tinned fruit, the total disregard in grading, &c, it will be impossible for them to attempt to compete .in the Indian market with their American competitors, notwithstanding the fact that they can land and afford to sell their stuff at an average price of 20 per cent, .below the cheapest American article.
As an instance, during the past three years, I have personally been responsible for the purchase of well over 2,000 tons of Australian tinned fruits. This was bought subject to it being passed, after arrival in India, as being up to a certain standard. More than. 50 per cent, of this tinned fruit was turned down because of faulty tinning, fruit being unripe, and as .being generally very inferior.
As an Australian, I nave done my utmost to push Australian goods in India, and I can assure you that it has almost broken my heart to .see the way they are throwing business away by their present-day method of doing business, &c, &c.
That is very serious. That is from an Australian who is trying to do his best for his country.
– Who is to blame?
– I do not know for certain; but apparently the packers, the speculators, and the Governments whose experts are paid to supervise. We should be very careful to see that wo do not encourage settlers to produce more soft fruits when there is not a market for them. We should encourage viticulture, because it is a very good industry suitable for closer settlement. The wines which we produce are as good as those of other countries, especially our light wines.
There are other activities suitable to land settlement which would’ prove more profitable than fruit-growing. I will re fer to three more, all of which are eminently suitable for the very closest settlement on small blocks - hups, maize, and tobacco-growing. For tobacco leaf, as is the case with wool and cotton, there is an insatiable world’s demand in addition to a huge local demand.
The value of the net importation of tobacco into Australia for the year 1920- 21 amounted to £3,354,885.
I notice that it is the declared conviction of Ministers that the duty of a Government is to govern, and not to trade. I think that is a right attitude to adopt. Now that the terrible war is a night-mare of the past, most of the Governments of the world are getting out of their trading activities as quickly as possible. We, in Australia, are considered by many people to be too slow in doing so; but it is not so easy to sell as it is to buy. No doubt the Federal Government and the public have taken note of the extraordinary blundering and waste of money connected with practically all. State trading concerns. In the conduct of most of these,large sums of money have been squandered without any compensating results accruing to the public. Amongst other things, the Labour Government of Queensland rushed headlong into the purchase of cattle stations, on which, up to date, they have made a loss of £400,000. The Queensland State trading concerns up to date have- shown a deficit of over £2,000,000. Similarly, a Western Australian Government made huge losses in connexion with meat shops, shipping lines, &c.
I notice that reference has been made to the sale of trading concerns such as the Federal Woollen Mills. That action was decided upon by the previous Government, and it was confirmed by this Government. I previously stated in this Chamber that these mills had proved a credit to those who had’ conceived them, - built them, and managed them. From the first they have proved a good asset, and, on the whole, have paid very well indeed; but they were worked under special favours, and times have so changed that the Government, after having taken off all the “cream” are, to a large extent, selling the “ skim milk.”
I referred to this subject about twelve months ago, when I asked the following series -of questions in this Senate - that was in June, 1922 : -
The answers which I received were: -
Honorable members will remember that I reviewed at great length the operations of the Federal Woollen Mills, and showed how well they had done. My reasons for supporting the sale are contained in a speech which I made on the 16th September, 1922, as reported in Hansard, page 2299. I then said : -
To my mind, there are many good arguments why the Mills should not be sold; but I think I shall be able to produce a preponderance of evidence to show that the Government are right in their decision. The mills have tended to prevent - and I think this is a very important fact - Government Departments and returned soldiers from ‘being exploited. For these reasons alone I would join with the Labour party in protesting against the sale of the Mills; but, on the other hand, there are, unfortunately, the following unanswerable facts to take into consideration: -
The Manager, and the Government Departments, consider that orders available for some years ahead would only be sufficient to keep the Mills running about three months in the year; and, therefore, a lot of the employees would be thrown out of work.
Beyond doubt, under private enterprise the scope of the mills will be considerably extended, and within a couple of years probably double the present staff will be employed, so that, from a Geelong point of view, and from a labour-employing ‘point of view, it is desirable that the mills be sold.
Later on, in the course of the same speech, I said -
Nevertheless, I have such faith in the soundness of manufacturing .our own requirements in woollen goods within Australia, that I wish the Government and public to know that, if the mills are to be sold, I hope to be able to get into the company or syndicate that purchases them, unless, of course, the price is too high.
It will be said by some that Senator Guthrie is in favour of the Government disposing of the mills of which he has often spoken so highly, because he is’ anxious to join a syndicate which intends tendering for them. I wish to make my position quite clear in this matter by saying that I intend to join a syndicate which will submit an offer for the mills, and I want every one to know it. I have, however, stipulated to such syndicate that I shall not be a member of it if it is to compete against returned soldiers who may desire to submit an offer. … If they decide not to do so, the second preference should be given to a co-operative organization of wool-growers which I understand is in favour of forming a co-operative company and submitting an offer. Failing that, preference should be given to an Australian firm before any offer from a foreign country is considered. These mills were constructed by Australian workmen with Australian capital, and have been conducted in a most efficient manner by Australian operatives. … If the mills are disposed of, the Government, -as well as deriving advantage from a good sale, will also secure an annual revenue by imposing taxation on the profits to be made by the purchaser. … I make no secret of the fact that I anr one of a syndicate that intends to tender at a price for this property, because I have ‘unbounded faith in the wool industry. … So far as I am concerned, what little capital I have available, unfortunately not much, .will be put into two or three woollen mills in country districts that are asking for money in order to assist in the development of this industry, which has great possibilities, and must be encouraged. . . . It is absurd to say we cannot make good material in Australia. ‘Our mills are as good as any I have seen in any part of the world. . . The public, I think, require to be educated somewhat as to the excellence of our woollen goods. Once we break down the stupid old prejudice there will be practically no limit to the expansion of our wool manufacturing industry.
My desire has been to let the public know exactly what throughout has been my attitude. The sale of these mills having been sanctioned by a previous Parliament, advertisements inviting tenders for their purchase were published for some months throughout the length and breadth of the Empire, and particulars in regard to them were also sent privately to the United States of America. The mills were boomed in Parliament and out, of it, and I was one of those who helped to boom them. Tenders were returnable on 3rd October, 1922. The highest offer received was £130,000, plus, of course, stocks at valuation. I happen to know this, because the Honorable Massy Greene, who was then Minister for Trade and Customs, asked me whether I thought the Government should accept the tender.’ I replied, “Emphatically, no.” Mr. Greene then said, “ Well, the Government cannot carry on the mills. The proposal to sell them has been well advertised all over the world. It is not the policy of the Government to engage in trade ; and, in the circumstances, I should like to ask you what you think we’ ought to do. We do not intend to compete with private enterprise.” My answer was, “Never mind! The mills are worth more than £130,000. Advertise again. Call for fresh tenders.” My advice was accepted. Tenders closed, on the second occasion, on 20th December, 1922, and the top tender was, I understand, £150,000. This the Government refused, and eventually they obtained £155,000, plus stocks at valuation, which amounted to another £100,000. The price obtained, after all, shows a good profit over and above book price. In reality, therefore, the concern has been sold, not for £155,000, as so often stated, but for the equivalent of £255,000, or £25,000 in excess of the highest tender submitted in October, 1922. The Government appointed strong men to value the raw wool and goods in process of manufacture and the other stocks. The senior appraiser of wool, while the appraisement scheme was in operation in Australia, was appointed for the purpose, and was given authority to employ as many experts as he required to assist him. He had three machinery, dye, and costing experts to help him in his work; and the successful tenderers have had to take over all the stocks of goods at the prices so fixed, and, what is more, have had to pay cash for them.
It is satisfactory to know that the new company that has been formed to carry on the mills is a powerful one, comprising about fifty shareholders. The company, which considers it necessary to have a capital of £300,000, has already placed orders for £25,000 worth of additional machinery, and will thus increase the scope of the mills, their capacity, and very considerably increase employment.
I have always taken an interest in these mills, because of my desire that they should be extended, and so give additional employment. I recognised that the aim of the Associated Mills of Australia might be to acquire the mills and then to “ scrap “ them. I wanted to see that that was not done. My desire was that the right sort of people should obtain possession ‘ of the mills, and that, instead of closing them down, or, at all events, decreasing their activities, they should expand them. That is now being done. With the installation of £25,000 worth of additional machinery, the scope of the mills will be extended and employment increased. It will thus be seen that, from a national and a labour-giving, as well as from a local, point of view, it is well that the Government have sold the mills to a live body of business men. I have been living next door to the mills for eight years, and for that reason amongst others have taken a very keeninterest in them. My object has always been that the Government should obtain for these mills their full value, and should sell them to people who would not scrap them. I am financially interested to only a very small extent in the company that has acquired the mills. I have applied for shares, but am, as a matter of fact, the smallest shareholder. A great deal will be made of the profits made by these mills whilst functioning under Government control. They have been good, but let all be fair and study the actual facts.
While the mills were controlled by the Government they worked under exceptional advantages. The most outstanding advantages enjoyed by them were that the Government had not to pay (a) any duty on machinery; (&) any Federal or State income tax; (c) any shire rates or taxes; (d) any water rates for five years, and, thereafter, only half rates; (e) any insurance; (f) any audit fees; (g) any directors’ fees. When they disposed of their produce they paid no selling commission or discounts, and their materials were sold at only 36 inches to the yard. The Government, in short, has had a splendid “ spin “ with these mills. They have had the “ cream,” and much of the machinery must be showing signs of wear and tear. During the war they ran continuously and enjoyed always the advantage of a waiting customer for every ounce of stuff.
The Government has done magnificently with them, and are getting out of them at the right time. They could not have carried on, because they had lost their customers. During the war, when the mills were run as a Government concern, the Defence Department was prepared to take as much material as the mills could turn out. They were able to work three shifts a day and to sell all that they produced. After the war, however, the State Governments refused to buy from them, because they desired to support the mills within their own boundaries; and the business which the mills then did with the Commonwealth Departments amounted to very little, because, as we all know, following the Washington Peace Conference, we cut down both our Army and Navy. Much against their own desire, the Government, in order to keep the mills going, had to compete for a time with private enterprise. They had to sell in the “ Lane “ and elsewhere, in order that they might be able to dispose of the mills as a going concern, and thus be assured of obtaining fullest possible market value. That, of course, was a very important consideration. The economy “ stunt “ last year was responsible for an item of £45.000, which had been set down on the Estimates for extensions and necessary new machinery, being reduced to a useless £5,000. The new company which has taken over the mills is not going to have the remarkable “ spin “ that some people imagine. With a capital of £300,000 to earn interest on, it will have to contend with the Federal and State taxation, shire rates, water rates, insurance, workmen’s compensation, selling commission and discounts, auditors’ fees, and directors’ fees, and, whereas the Government sold material 36 inches to the yard, an old trade custom, to which the mills must now conform, demands 37 inches to the yard. This item alone will reduce the profits of the company by 2J per cent, or 3 per cent. The output of the mills has been 720,000 yards per annum, so that 20,000 yards of material, for which the Government were paid, will now have to be given away per annum, just as the Government would have had to give 20,000 yards of material away had they carried on the mills, for they would have had to see to the trade and com peted against all the other manufacturers. I am given to understand that the new company is not likely to make sufficient to enable it to pay dividends the first year, but that with ordinary luck reasonable dividends may be expected later. The new company is carrying on with the existing staff, and continuing existing wages and conditions, whilst it is spending money on extensions, and will employ more labour than the Government did in their busiest days. Another thing I have been pleased to learn is that 5,000 shares in the company have been reserved and made available for its employees. That is a proposal that I strongly support. The employees were very well off under the Commonwealth, and very well treated, but the new company is giving them, the same holidays and other conditions which they received under the Commonwealth Government. I personally took” shares in the company to assist in preventing the mills being scrapped, to prevent unemployment, and because I think that the wool manufacturing industry should be a profitable one. Old established mills have for some years past had a royal time. I have always argued that woollen manufacturing should be the leading secondary industry of Australia. It is the duty of all who are in a position to do so to assist in the formation of woollen manufacturing companies. I have done my bit in this way. I have put every £1 I could afford into the Stawell Woollen Mills, the Daylesford Mills, the Lincoln Mills at Coburg, and the Federal Mills at Geelong. I wish all the woollen mills of Australia a reasonable measure of success. I conclude my remarks on the motion I have submitted by apologizing to honorable senators for the length of my speech.
– I have pleasure in seconding the motion which has been moved by the last speaker for the adoption of the AddressinReply to the Governor-General’s opening Speech. I have listened to the lengthy speech which .Senator Guthrie has delivered, and as he proceeded with his remarks, I have felt that, at any rate, he has put a considerable amount of very useful work into his address. The material he has given to the Senate in the course of his speech has been such as will be of value to all who wish to look into the very vital questions upon which he has touched. I do not propose to traverse the Governor-General’s opening Speech at any great length, but there are a few things on which I particularly desire to comment. In common, I suppose, with the rest of the people of Australia, I have looked forward to the Governor-General’s Speech with a considerable amount of interest, because I knew that it first of all would define the policy of the Government, and, secondly, that it would have to set out proposals for dealing with many troubles, national and international, social, economic, and administrative.
I am particularly pleased to note that the Government propose to send a representative to the League of Nations. I trust that the very best representative who can possibly be found will be sent to represent Australia at the Conference of the Assembly of the League to be held in Geneva in September of this year. The League of Nations has done excellent work so far as was possible within the ambit of its authority. I think the time has arrived when the work of the League should be thoroughly reviewed and its scope extended. So far it has failed to achieve the main purpose for which it was called into existence. When President Wilson, M. Clemenceau, Mr. Lloyd George, and other speakers at the Versailles Conference dealt with the problem of the League of Nations, they had in mind, as the listening world had in mind, a League that was to abolish war. The world had been steeped in blood, and humanity had suffered appalling and disastrous losses of life and treasure as a result of the war. One is staggered, by the figures indicating the effects of the Great War. When we appreciate the fact that there were 60,509,531 men engaged in it, that 34,047,304 were wounded, and that 7,917,470 men paid the last penalty, and that the war cost £35,779,533,747, it is not to be wondered that people who knew that the twentieth century had been remarkable as one in which there had been a great number of inventions calculated to uplift humanity, felt that now was the time when we might look for the arbitrament of reason instead of the arbitrament of force. What has been the result? Why is it that the League of Nations has been powerless to abolish those things which contain the potential germs of war? Why is.it that the Washington Conference has made the only move towards the abolition of armaments ? Why is it that after the League of Nations has been functioning for a considerable period of time those who speak for the British Empire say. that it is essential that the Empire shall spend many millions in fortifications at Singapore ? Why is it that only a mile or two. from the headquarters of the League of Nations, which was established to deal with international problems of peace, we have in the Ruhr district sparks -arising that may bring about a great conflagration” among the peoples of the world? In common with the people of the rest of the world we look upon the occupation of the Ruhr district by France with a considerable amount of interest, but with feelings of very great apprehension. We have felt that France is sowing dragon’s teeth which will probably later arise in the shape of armed men, but we sympathize with France, and the French, who have. their devastated country and ruined industries without the promised recompense assured them by the Treaty of Versailles. We are told that France lost upwards of 102 milliards of francs. Already she has expended 44 milliards of francs and has received four milliards. France knows that Germany has been expending considerable sums of money in the development of. her industries. In Berlin they were building an underground railway. In Munich they have been extending the great Museum. In fact, the whole of the industries of Germany are flourishing, and yet France has been able to raise little or none of the money which should have been paid to her in the way of reparations. We cannot sympathize with Germany, the country that brought about this awful world’s cataclysm. We have to face the position, and there is grave possibility that France will have to spend very considerable sums in policing the Ruhr district, and that the ultimate result may be another war. German statesmen say. so far as France is concerned, that she has brought great indignity upon Germany, and that Germany will make her sweat in blood for what she has done.
It is obvious to all thinking men that it is quite impossible for any force in this world to hold down for any length of time a nation of 70,000,000 people.
I say that, if this League of Nations is to function’ properly, now’ is the time to shape the things we intend the League shall do. If the League is to be a lasting and practical monument to the impulse for peace which gave it birth we must seriously consider the admission of Germany, Russia, and America. Its charter should be extended and the prospects of settling international disputes by the arbitrament of reason would come within measurable distance of achievement. .It is obvious that the cockpit of trouble in Europe will be along that eastern border of France, and it is equally obvious that if there is any trouble in the East it will be along the shores of the Pacific. If that is so, we have outside the League those nations which may make the trouble monumental. Shall we wait until that trouble comes, and then again have to prepare in a hurry to fight an awful world war? Or shall we say to the Australian representatives at the League of Nations, “ You shall do everything in your power, with the aid of the other representatives who attend the League, to draw within your fold both Germany and Russia “ ? If our representatives, coupled with the representatives of the other Dominions of the British Empire, and with the representatives of the other nations who belong to the League, were to seriously discuss that question the Conference would, in my opinion, immediately assume an importance far transcending that of the Imperial Conference. It is obvious that this Imperial Conference must deal with Imperial defence, but its deliberations must be governed largely by a consideration of the future activities of the League. If, as I have suggested, the League is prepared to draw in those two nations, the position of defence would take a turn in conformity with the wishes of the people of Australia. If not, the discussion on foreign policy and defence must go on without taking much notice of its existence. The foreign policy of the British Empire to-day is most vital so far as Australia is concerned. We cannot afford to ignore the circumstances in which we live. Away to the north there is another Empire. .There is Japan, the country of a rapidly increasing people.
Honorable senators have listened to-day to figures supplied ‘by Senator Guthrie in relation to that country. He tells us, and he tells us truly, that only 16 per cent, of its surface is capable of cultivation. Do honorable senators not think that a time is coming in the near future when Japan will demand that the White Australia policy shall be put to the test? Japan is a manufacturing country, and has to consider the markets of the world. At present, various nations of the world are doing what they can to bring about reciprocal treaties amongst themselves - to isolate trade. The Prime Minister says that the most important part of the forthcoming Conference is the economic part, the object of which is to keep Empire trade within the Empire. I absolutely and fully sympathize with, and believe in, that idea. But the fact is that, if the Empire can hold within its bounds Empire trade - if there be reciprocal treaties between the different peoples of the world - the position, so far as Japan is concerned, is intensified. There are two alternatives. One is : we can spend millions on fortifications at Singapore and the increase of naval and military establishments, or we can get the League of Nations to function as its founders intended. If the League so acts that Germany and Russia join it, America will perforce be compelled also to enter the august fold. So far, America is secure in her wealth and population, and, wedded to a traditional policy of avoiding entangling foreign alliances, has strenuously opposed all efforts to bring her into the League. But ‘ America cannot stand out in splendid isolation; she has to consider her trade, which is her life’s blood, as trade is also the life blood of Japan. Supposing, for the sake of argument, that the League of Nations does not function ; suppose it should be so unfortunate as not to draw within its fold those three great peoples, what is the position in relation to Australia and the other Dominions of the Empire ? The Australian people, and the Canadian, South African, and other peoples of the Empire say, and rightly, too, that we must have some say in the foreign policy of that Empire we have helped to glorify. But if we desire adequate representation in any decision to be arrived at concerning Empire foreign affairs, the Dominions must appoint representatives to a kind of super-Cabinet. That would be essential, because in the event of any war cloud appearing on the international horizon, it might be necessary to arrive at an immediate and urgent decision, otherwise an irreparable catastrophe might be precipitated. It would also have to be remembered that such a Cabinet could not be responsible to five or six Parliaments, hence it would > be supreme in this important and farreaching domain. That, in my opinion, will go right to the root of our present popular institutions and would be very repugnant to Australian democratic ideas. A great necessity exists for the holding of an Imperial Conference to set right the position of the Dominions in the Empire. In 1914 war was declared, and it is au admitted fact that the Governments of the Dominions knew little or nothing at that particular moment about what had led to the outbreak. Under present conditions there is no possibility of educating our people; there is no way of showing ‘them exactly what we are fighting for. In this instance, Germany did ‘that for us. She invaded Belgium, devastated that country in her frenzy, and so blazed the path that the people of the Commonwealth hesitated not to go along a way so clearly marked. But this cannot continue in the future. Just as Mr. Asquith said, using the old classic phrase, in the future the Arcana Imperii must be open to the Dominion representatives. Honorable senators know that before 1914 the British Cabinet held a monopoly in relation to foreign affairs, a greater and closer monopoly than the Athenians wielded over the Empire of the Hellenes. But things have changed. Australia has “ come out,” and has won her spurs ; Australia feels, in common with other Dominions, that her destiny is to shape the ends of the Empire of which we are so proud. We feel absolutely that we are one of a great Imperial Commonwealth, and we hope to see that Commonwealth so expand that we shall be even more proud of it. But to that end we must be invited to take a part. Britain’s Colonial policy has been a curious thing; it is an illustration of the cosmic law of action and reaction which produces the swing of the pendulum. Dur- ing the first stages of the evolution of this policy the colonies were held to be useful politically and commercially, but during the second were held to be polititically mischievous and commercially useless; and, lastly, a belief was evident that the Dominions are a source of great strength to the Empire, and should be encouraged in all ways. Have the Dominions been encouraged in all ways? What is our position bo-day in relation to foreign affairs? Let us go back to September of last year. We found the people of Canada and Australia very much perturbed when the Lloyd George Government had appealed to the loyalty of the Dominions to stand ready to participate in a war against the Turks. This public appeal by the Imperial Government was made without, any previous consultation - it would ‘ have committed us to the pro-Greek policy of Lloyd George, a policy to which many well informed men were antagonistic. This policy, one- may state in .passing, aided much in the overthrow of his Government about one month later. This attitude, together with the unprecedented action of Canada, in concluding a Treaty with the United States of America concerning the protection of halibut fisheries makes it essential there shall be some satisfactory method come to ^regarding the handling of our Empire foreign policy - that there must be one voice for declaring, after consultation, the exact beliefs and desires of the peoples of the Dominions and Great Britain in relation to Empire affairs.
Another great question that has to be considered at this Empire Conference is the problem of Empire trade. If we are to keep our trade within the bounds of the Empire, it is essential that we should have a stable base, mutual concessions and mutual benefits. I would again draw attention to the period just previous to the war. We then found that Great Britain was not trading with her own people. There were no strong bonds of trade between the Motherland and the Dominions. Britain was trading with her potential enemies, and it was very obvious, When the time for war came, that these peoples held a great deal of our raw products, and had control of our key industries. I do not wish to elaborate the position further than to say that such a thing must not occur in future. When our representatives go across the seas they must take care that a great and noble Imperial edifice is erected, and that there is adequate reciprocity in the full meaning of the term between the various Dominions and the Motherland. We had an example some little while ago of the glaring need for reciprocity when Canada sent representatives to Australia and asked for a considerable number of preferences. But from a speech of the Canadian Minister of Finance, in the introduction of his Budget Bill last month, we find, from the Melbourne press of 13th May, that he inserted a resolution proposing reciprocity with the Tin ted States of America on agricultural produce. He said that a mutual agreement would result in a reduction of 50 per cent, on the duties on cattle and wheat. Australia, on the other hand, was offered a preference on dried fruits. It is high time the Empire held an economic conference. Australia should certainly get a considerably better deal than that. We want from Canada preference, not only in regard to dried fruits, but also other product?. It is therefore the business of the Conference to find a means of makins; it to the mutual advantage for the Motherland to deal with the Dominions, and the Dominions to reciprocate with the Motherland. It is imperative also that we use all the resources of the Empire within the boundaries of the Empire, and we should make every’ effort to utilize those resources in the best possible way.
In order to bring our industries to the highest pitch of production, it is essential that the Government should appreciate what science can do for industry. It should be realized that there is not a single factory belching forth smoke in the whole of Australia that has not proble’ms of its own that must be solved if the industry is to reach perfection. There are also problems in the agricultural arena, and in the pastoral and fruit industries. I was staggered when I recently took up a scientific paper which set out the cost to the United States of America of the ravages by insects and other pests. The losses on cereals last year amounted to £140,000,000, vegetables £60,000,000, hay and forage £30,000,000, cotton £30,000,000, natural forests £20,000,000, fruits £15,000,000, tobacco £7,500,000, sugar £4,000,000, miscellaneous crops £4,500,000, products in storage £60,000,0C0, domestic animals £80,000,000; to which must be added a loss of £30,000,000 from human diseases due to insects and parasites. These are staggering figures, which will make the Governments of the Commonwealth and the States think deeply. They show that there is an absolute necessity for our Bureau of Science to function in order that waste may be eliminated and pests eradicated. It is the duty of the Government to see that sufficient funds are available to enable the Bureau to thoroughly carry out its duties. It is possible with the aid of science to introduce new industries to preserve life and reach out helpfully into all the activities of our great nation, and to generally help the whole of the commercial community.
A new body has been formed called the Australian Association for Engineering Standards. Its important object was . clearly and concisely set out in a leader that appeared in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 27th February, 1923. Regarding the effects of standardization the article states, inter alia: -
Prom the producers’ stand-point, the chief advantages nf standardization are increased output and reduced cost of production. Obviously a machine that is engaged continuously in turning out the same standard article or part will produce more such articles or parts0 than will a machine which has to be used to produce a variety of articles, as there will of necessity be a considerable loss of time whenever a change has to be made on the machine. From the consumers’ stand-point, - standardization means a better article ‘at less cost, as the cost of production is necessarily a factor in the retail selling price of the article, and if the article is produced at a lower cost, this benefit will be passed on to the consumer.
It simply means .that if we are to cope with the aftermath of the war and international competition, we must have standardization. The manufacturers of Austral ‘a have a very limited market, and in that market they have to contend with considerable competition. Let me illustrate my meaning by quoting the electrical industry. There are in Australia many electrical supply stations with different voltages and different periodicities, and they number in variation forty-three. It is obvious that this severely handicaps this industry, for in the absence of standardization the manufacturer now works to specifications drawn up by the engineers of various organizations. It often happens that such specifications are issued from different sources for the same material, and involve a very considerable disturbance of the routine of manufacture ; thus production is lowered and costs increased. You may say, “ That is all very well, but would you compel people to go in for standardization ? “ Necessity will compel them to do so, whether they wish it or not. A screw with a standard thread, such as was produced in England by Whitworth, in 1857, will suit all users; no engineer, mechanic, or workman will ask for a different pitch to that screw. Similarly, in America there is the Sellar’s standard, established in 1864. In England. people accept the Whitworth, and in America, the Sellar’s standard, and in respect of each the user knows that it is as good as any he can obtain. To-day there are in Australia committees that have on their panels some of the greatest engineering brains in the Commonwealth, and they do not get paid a penny for their professional services; they are supposed to be allowed their expenses, but even those’ are not always paid. Take cement, for instance; there is hardly a walk of life in which that article does not play a big part. Almost every industrial country has its own standards, and, using them as a basis, combined with the knowledge of the chemist, the manufacturer, and the user, we have evolved a standard cement specification that will suit Australia’s needs. If standardization can be brought about and made to function, as it should, there will be a revolution in production, with resultant reduction in cost, improvement in quality of material, and greater accuracy of workmanship. The Australian Engineering ^Standards Association has been based on Hie English body, whose fundamental principles have been thus defined by Sir John Wolfe Barry, one of the most eminent British engineers: -
I arn the representative of. the civil engineers on the Australian association, and have placed this matter fully before the members of the present Government. My representations nave received the most sympathetic consideration from the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Austin Chapman), and the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), who are fully seised of the importance of this great endeavour, and are lending their support to the Engineering Standards Association. They propose to do all they possibly can to aid the people of Australia, by means of standardization, to get the best goods and materials at the cheapest possible rate. MayI set out briefly and specifically the actual benefits which, in my opinion, will accrue from the introduction of standardization in Australian industries: -
It will provide a truly competitive market in which to buy material and equipment.
It will make it easier to repair and replace equipment.
It will reduce the cost of manufacture.
It will simplify the keeping of cost accounts.
It will eliminate most of the controversies as to whether the product is in accord with the sample.
It will increase the production efficiency of industry.
It will give accurate definitions to enable one to knowwhat he is talking about, what he is buying, and whether he is getting what he is buying.
Such definitions will go far to eliminate disputesand litigation.
I leave it at that.
Whilst dealing with the points of scientific interest in the Governor-General’s Speech, I should like to say a word or two in’ relation to health. It is a true saying that hygienic research is an agency of good government and civilization. I am proud to be able to say that the work accomplished by our health laboratories in the investigation of organo-therapy and sera-therapy has been such as to win the encomiums of medical men throughout the Commonwealth and in other parts of the world. It is believed that a very valuable field of research lies open in the arena of organo-therapy. It certainly holds out hope that it will ameliorate the lot of many patients suffering from diseases which have hitherto proved intractable to other forms of treatment.
In aiding these sufferers, the Government are acting in the right direction, and I trust they will continue to go further in the matter of public health and in connexion with the extension of laboratories.I was pleasedto hear the Assistant Minister (Senator Wilson) state this afternoon that the various Governments have decided to co-operate withthe Commonwealth in connexion with this momentous work. It is momentous,because the greatest asset of any nation is the health of its citizens, and the people who secure this in the highest degree will eventually dominate the earth.
I am pleased to learn that the Government have decided to liberalize old-age pensions, and I sincerely trust that they will increase the weekly rate from 15s. to 20s. The old and infirm have very seriously felt the pinch in consequence of the high cost of living, and there has been no possible means of them lightening the burden placed upon them. Thoseat present receiving the pension will read with considerable pleasure the announcement that the Federal Government have decided to increase the rates, and I trust that the heart of the Treasurer will expand to such an extent that he will recommend an increase to at least 20s. per week, which will assist them to withstand the difficulties now confronting them.
Debate (on motion by Senator Mcdou gall) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Wilson) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 3 o’clock p.m. on Thursday, 28th June.
Senate adjourned at 9.14 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 June 1923, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1923/19230613_senate_9_103/>.