9th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator theHon T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
SenatorFINDLEY. - I desire to ask the Leader of . the Government whether he saw in last night’s issue of the Melbourne Herald a statement to the effect that the names of 800 men have been registered at the Labour Bureau for employment, that 300 are on the brink of starvation, that among that number are many returned soldiers, and that hundreds of men are out of work in country districts; and, further, that there has been at least one death by exposure and starvation as the result of the present distress-
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) . - The honorable senator is not entitled, in asking a question, to make a statement or to quote statements from a newspaper.
– I am asking whether the’ Minister has seen the statement, and whether the Government will expedite, as far as possible, all Commonwealth works, so that the present acute distress in the ranks of the unemployed may be relieved?
– I have not seen the statement referred to, but the Government have already taken action to enable “Victoria and the other States to deal with the unemployment problem by making available a large sum of money’ for main Toad construction. That money is now available. I shall bring under the notice of the Treasurer the suggestion that all Commonwealth public works should be expedited.
– On the 28th June, I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence whether the report of Major-General Sellheim upon the northern part of Australia would be made available to the Senate when printed. Is the report now available?
– I am advised that it is not proposed to publish the reports made by Major-General Sellheim in connexion with his recent inspection in Queensland. One of the reports deals with questions of a confidential nature, and it is considered that it would not be in the public interest to disclose its contents. The other report has relation to matters of military routine, and is to be used for departmental purposes only.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the paper - “ Meteorology - Report of Commonwealth Meteorologist for Year 1921- 22 “ - laid on the table of the Senate on 13th June, 1923, be printed.
Amendment (by Senator Grant) proposed -
That the report be referred to the Printing Committee.
– The report will automatically go to the Printing Committee if the motion is negatived. The honorable senator, therefore, will attain his object by voting against the motion. All papers laid on the table go before the Printing Committee. If the honorable senator submits his amendment, I must, of. course, accept it.
– In the circumstances I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed Parliamentary Visit
– Is it a fact, as reported, that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) has stated that a Committee is to be appointed, consisting of members of Parliament, to visit Rabaul with a view to reporting on matters there? If so, why was a definite refusal given when I requested in the Senate that this course should be pursued ? ‘Are we to understand that there is to be one class of treat ment for this Chamber and another for the other House?
– I think the honorable senator has misunderstood . the statement of the Prime Minister. The question asked in this Chamber was whether a Select Committee would be appointed to inquire into and. report on matters relating to Rabaul. If the honorable senator reads the Prime Minister’s statement he will see that it is intended that a delegation, consisting of members representing the various parties in both branches of the Legislature, shall be invited to visit New Guinea, but it is not. proposed that a Select Committee shall be appointed. The idea rather is that it is desirable, in the common interests of Australia, that each party should have among its members men who have had an opportunity to visit the . Mandated Territories . and to become familiar with the conditions existing there. The proposal is not prompted by any particular charges made by newspapers, but is made because the Government believe that such a visit would be to the general advantage of the Commonwealth.
– Why do not the Government send as many honorable senators as would like to go?
– That could bo considered. It is desirable, in the general interests of the Parliament; the country, and the Mandated Territories that facilities . should be afforded for a number of honorable members drawn from all the parties in the two Houses to visit these Territories and become acquainted with the local conditions. The Government believe that honorable members generally would thus be better fitted ‘ to discuss, criticise, and advise upon the various matters connected with the Mandated Territories that come under consideration from time to time.
Acquisition of Land in South Australia.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence whether he will lay on the table of the Library the papers relating to the acquisition, some time ago, by the Air Force Board, of a piece of land adjoining the Albert Park railway station, South Australia?
– The Ministerfor Defence has assured me that he will he only too pleased to lay these papers on the table of the Library.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act- Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 6 of 1923 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 7 of 1923- Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
British Phosphate Commission - Report and Accounts for year ended 30th June, 1922. Public Service Act - Promotion of T. H. Cameron, Postmaster-General’s Department.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister supplies the following information : -
Sale of Serums
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health. upon notice -
– The replies are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The replies are-
Discussions of Commonwealth and State Ministers
asked the Leader of the Government in ‘the Senate, upon notice -
In view of alleged conflicting statements as to the discussions between and actual determinations arrived at by Commonwealth and States Ministers concerning finance, will he lay upon the table of the Senate the minutes of such discussions for the information of the Senate?
– The Prime Minister supplies the following answer : -
Yes ; as soon as, copies are available.
Utilization for Housing Homeless “ Diggers
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice-
– The Prime Minister supplies the following reply: -
The matter is being brought under the notice of the General Manager of the Commonwealth Government Line.
Motion (by Senator Thompson) agreed to -
That Senator H. S. Foll be granted one month’s leave of absence on account of illhealth.
Motion (by Senator Grant) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend section 16 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1922.
Bill presented by Senator Grant, and read a first time.
Debate resumed from 11th July (vide page 919), on motion by Senator Guthrie -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Opening Speech be agreed to -
May it Please Your Excellency -
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.
– I desire, first of all, to thank honorable senators for the reassuring manner in which they have greeted me, and secondly to congratulate you, Mr. President,on your fifth appointment to the proud, if onerous, position that you occupy. It is natural, I suppose, that a new member of this august assembly, even though he has had some parliamentary experience, should -feel a certain measure of diffidence, if not trepidation, in addressing the Senate for the first time. Previous experience counts for very little. One has so much to learn, and, perhaps, also so much to unlearn. Entering the Senate as a representative of Western Australia I feel very deeply my responsibilities. I have gained certain impressions of the Senate, some of which I should like to share with honorable, senators. It is well, perhaps, to mind one’s steps - if I may be allowed to use a colloquialism- - because there sit at the table gentlemen who note with an exactitude, which I can only describe as absolutely unscrupulous, every word which falls from the lips of honorable senators, and their reports may be used as evidence against an honorable senator later on - as has been done very often even during this debate.
My impressions of the Senate are similar to those of some honorable senators who have already spoken. I was very pleased, indeed, to find that the Leader of His Majesty’s Opposition, Senator Gardiner, holds the same view that I do - that the Senate exists for the protection of the interests of the States. I do not share the views of Senator Grant on this question. That honorable senator appears to have a particularly analytical mind, with a vision which, on this occasion at all events, is more distinguished by depth than by breadth. He has that X-ray perceptiveness which sees far below the surface.- Any other man would be satisfied with the outward appearance of things; but he probes down^until he finds in the existence of this Senate a menace to the party of which he is so honoured and treasured a member. He seeks as the motive for the creation of this body, not the protection of the interests of the States, not -some measure of defence against the preponderating membership possessed in the House of Representatives by the larger States, but some deeplaid plot to prevent his party from ever being represented here. He attributes to> those gentlemen who framed the Constitution - and there were giants in those days - a degree of prescience which, had it existed would have been a credit to them. When I cast back my memory - and as the years go on I feel inclined not to cast my mind back too far lest I should never get it back again - if it does not mis-serve me, I recall that the Labour party, as it is now called, was scarcely in existence when the Constitution was framed. Therefore, the framers of the Constitution must have been farseeing indeed if they were . actuated by the motive which Senator Grant attributes to them.
If I may return to the subject of congratulations, I think that the honorable senator most to be congratulated is the
Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner). Years ago, before I had any idea of becoming a member of the Senate, my heart went out to that honorable senator, who, after the cyclonic political disturbance of 1919, was washed up struggling, breathless, but unhurt, on the little island he then occupied in the Senate. He was a veritable Robinson Crusoe of politics. In other ways tho analogy I use in comparing him- with Robinson Crusoe is justified.
– He had a good “ man Friday.”
– I am coming to that. I can imagine the honorable senator, at that time looking forth over the breaking waves and saying, . “ When will they come? Oh! when will they Gome 1” At last one came - a “man Friday,” and together they sought what consolation they possibly could. And then there arose another political disturbance which destroyed his faithful “ man Friday,” but which by a strange accident- if I may call it an accident and not a catastrophe- surrounded him with a party of sturdy followers.
What is to be the future of this honorable senator and his rescue party ? Already during this debate we have had evidence that there is not among them that absolute unanimity on all subjects which should exist. To some their island home is already becoming irksome. Some show signs of embarking in a craft, which I fear will prove to be all too frail on the red waves of Communism - there, I have no doubt, to be engulfed. Others, including, if I may say it, Senator Gardiner himself, are gazing, perhaps with longing eyes, on the mainland of security - I allude to this side of the Senate - and possibly hoping that some bridge may be created by which they can cross over to it. It is impossible to say what will happen. For my own part, as weaver of this allegory, 1 appeal to the Leader of the Opposition, who appears to bear adversity with fortitude and success with modesty, to be satisfied with his island: kingdom, to remember that, after all, the island is a comfortable one - it appears to be furnished with all the luxuries of modern life - and not to attempt to cross over to a mainland which, after all, u> open to attack by enemies to a greater extent than is that island of his, and may not prove, when he gets there, to be as alluring as it would seem to be in tint, distance.
I listened with a great deal of pleasure to the remarks made by Senator Ogden. In listening to that honorable ‘ senator, one realizes that, after all, it is only the dogma of politics that makes such a division between this side and the other. It is but the “ broad bands “ and “ phylacteries “ that divide us. Rid of ali these trappings, the policies of one party or the other are not so far apart after all, because both have one objective, and that is to make Australia a’ powerful, rich and prosperous nation. When Senator Ogden was speaking, I heard from this side of the Senate, cries of “ Come over here.” Perish the thought ! An honorable senator who holds the opinions given expression to by Senator Ogden, is too valuable an asset to the party opposite, although they may not- realize it, and too valuable an asset to the country, for him to be asked to give up any of his convictions, even if ‘it were possible that he would do so. A man who holds the convictions that Senator Ogden does, would be harder to shake in respect of them than the most pronounced extremist would be.
With regard to my own impressions of the Senate let me say that during ‘a recent exciting and strenuous time I said* fairly hard things about this branch of the Commonwealth Legislature. But they were not my own thoughts. I was putting before the public certain- quotations from constitutional authorities like Sir John Quick, and others with regard to the history of this Chamber. I did not say anything quite so hard an Senator Grant has said about the Senate. I alluded to the fact that from the very outset party feeling had done a good deal to impair its usefulness and prevent its carrying out to the satisfaction of Australia, those functions for which it was brought into being. I see no reason to recede from that attitude. Indeed, party spirit exists here, regretfully, I think, to a greater extent than I thought possible. It exists to such an extent that I wonder why that bird which, on the ceiling of the chamber, broods over our deliberationsI cannot make out whether it is the dove of peace or an eagle- has not flown away affrighted from the party feeling exhibited here. I regret this feature of our deliberations. We have too little time at our disposal, and too much to do, to waste our time in party recriminations.
Therefore it is not my intention to do so. The worst feature of party feeling is manifested in a custom which , I understand, is of long standing, and which is none the better for that. I refer to the practice of displaying party feeling in the election of the principal officers of Parliament. I regret that this should be so. The position of the gentleman who presides over this or any other deliberative Chamber should be - if I may paraphrase a well-known line - broad-based upon the members’ will, and then it would be unassailable. Very much more than the Standing Orders of Parliament is required to keep in order a body of men who think deeply, and unless the gentleman who presides over their deliberations has the respect and confidence of the Chamber, his task is a hard one. I feel sure that you, sir, withyour long experience, have that respect and confidence, and I may venture perhaps to surmise that if, as is done elsewhere, we were in the habit of deciding the question once and for all on the floor of the Chamber, no different choice would have been made on ‘this occasion. If that isso,alliswell.
Allusion has been made to the Prime Minister’s intention to represent Australia at the Imperial Conferences upon defence and economics. Any objection to this is ill-founded. In regard to defence, any member, who thinks for a moment, will realize . that a great many matters are being hung up until the Imperial Conference has come to ‘a decision concerning them. By the sacrifice of her sons Australia has too dearly won her place among the nations to afford to disregard a call to their councils. I rejoice that we are sending to the Conference of the Dominions of the Empire so able and so impressive a delegate as the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce). In the Councils of the Empire the right honorable gentleman will do Australia credit both by his manner and his wisdom. “We need not grudge the extra time we shall have to wait for the settlement of matters which, after all, are not so urgent that they cannot remain in abeyance until the return of the Prime Minister to this Parliament.
– Does the honorable senator agree to the closing of this Parliament during the absence of the Prime Minister ?
– That matter is entirely in the hands of the Cabinet.
– I do not agree with the honorable senator.
– We differ on that point. If the Cabinet, in its wisdom, decides that Parliament shall stand adjourned, I do not think that there are any outstanding matters of sufficient urgency to call for condemnatory action on our part.
Very curious opinions have been expressed with respect to immigration. A proper, well-considered, and welladministered scheme of immigration is absolutely necessary for the future of this country. It has been stated that the emigrants from the Old Country have not passed a sufficient test to ascertain their physical and occupational fitness for the duties they are about to assume. There are two essential requisites for the successful operation of any scheme of migration - first, that our emissaries who visit the Old Country shall not tell any lies about Australia; and secondly - and this is, perhaps, the more important - that immigrants who come to Australia shall not tell any lies about themselves. When these two conditions are complied with we shall obtain immigrants who will be a credit to the country and who will never regret having left the land of their birth - a country where there are many less opportunities - to settle in this fair land of ours, which offers opportunities for every one.
Statements have been made that immigrants are likely to oust Australian workers from their occupations. That is evidently not the intention of those controlling immigration. I can speak, at all events, for those in authority in my own State. There we have, I think, as well thought out and as well developed a scheme as exists in the rest of Australia. It insists that the people who come to Western Australia shall be prepared to go on the land. We have there land for all. We have, furthermore, a system of group settlement, which, I think, is essential to the opening up of our great southwest country. Honorable senators from Victoria will appreciate the fact that group settlement is essential to the opening up of that country when I tell them that the nearest analogy I can find for it is the Gippsland country. Those honorable senators have a vivid recollection of the arduous task which the first settlers in Gippsland undertook. It was very difficult for any one to work the land singlehanded. Better work is likely to be accomplished in this forest-clad country when thirty or forty men, with their families, are grouped together in a settled community, working together; cheering one another, keeping one another from feeling lonely and helping one another, than would be possible if the men were sent out to work single-handed. In such circumstances they would be likely, one by one, to become discouraged and brokenhearted. .
The system of boy immigration has been mentioned, and Western Australia is well in the van in that respect. Eleven or twelve years’ ago an enthusiast, who had chosen to “ eschew delights and live laborious days,” inaugurated a scheme of child immigration into Western Australia, which is now bearing fruit. That gentleman is Kingsley Fairbridge,’ a man of many parts, in whom we have the unusual combination of poet and (pugilist. He published’ a book of excellent verse, and for two years was middleweight champion of Oxford. One would naturally expect a man of such attainments to be out of the ordinary, and that expectation has been realized. He established the scheme some eleven or twelve years ago, and it is increasing day by day. Orphan children, of ages varying from six to twelve years, carefully chosen by a committee in England, are sent out to . a farm school in Western Australia, where they learn the intricacies of Australian agriculture. They leave the school as Australians, and not as English people. They arrive in Australia at an age when they have no prejudices; they have much to learn, and nothing to unlearn. The success of the scheme is such that ever since the establishment of the school, whenever the boys leave, at ages varying from fourteen to sixteen years, and are known to be available for employment, .they are offered at least five or six positions. It is a wonderfully good scheme, and has been carried out principally with English money, with slight assistance from private subscribers and the Government of Western Australia. .
– Is the honorable senator referring to the Fairbridge farm school ?
– Yes. I hope that in future this farm school will *he looked upon as an integral part of the immigration scheme of the Common wealth. A request to that effect has been made, and I hope it will receive the most sympathetic consideration from those in authority in the Commonwealth.
I come now >to what, after all, represents my political faith, and is the most important subject that this Chamber or the House of Representatives could possibly discuss. I allude to the necessity for the development of our resources in Australia. I regret to find that, in comparison with other countries, so little has been attempted to this end. I have always endeavoured - not, I hope, without some little measure of success - to arouse the people and those in authority to a recognition of the importance of maintaining our position in the community of nations. We should strain every effort and devote every ounce of our ability to the development of the undoubted resources which Australia possesses. Scientific research in connexion with present and potential industries is absolutely necessary. We must compare the position of this country with that of the other English dependencies, and more particularly with the position of America, which is, commercially, a great nation.
Some years ago I visited a Dependency of Great Britain - the Straits Settlements - and was given every facility to see all that was to be seen. I had a mandate from the Government of my State in a purely honorary capacity to inquire into trade possibilities between Western Australia, the Malay States and the Dutch East Indies. In my researches I secured evidence of what that Dependancy was doing in this connexion. It is peculiar that when people refer to the rubber industry of the Straits Settlements they do not realize that it is founded upon the cultivation of a plant which fifty years ago had no existence in. the Settlements. The para rubber is taken from a tree which properly is a native of South America. The quinine industry of Java is in exactly the same position. The tree which gives us the quinine of commerce was also brought from South America to Java. It was taken from one country to another and acclimatized in this new country, simply as the result of scientific research. In every case where this has* been done, it has led to the establishment of an industry of great importance.
Again, I found in the capital of the Malay States what is known as an Agricultural Department, in which scientific research is undertaken in regard to industries that are actually in existence there, as well as those which could be established. I found that any settler who wishes to embark in one of these industries can obtain there all the information he requires in regard to cultivation, the prevention and destruction of pests, and anything he wants to grow. In that little country there were in the Department of Agriculture no less than twentythree trained scientists engaged in research work, and if we travelled from one end of Australia to another I do not think that state of affairs would he found. This is a matter which requires to be rectified. In this Australia of ours it has been very easy for a person to make a living in an old but no less honorable way, such as the raising of the more obvious products which the earth can produce. But as time goes on, a variety of occupations is necessary for “the propagation of a successful immigration policy and for the finding of employment for those who come here. It is very evident to me that we in Australia should spend a great deal more money in ascertaining by scientific research exactly the best way to conduct our existing industries and what are the best industries to start inparts of the States where at present none exist.’ We have millions of . acres of vacant spaces, and I cannot believe that if we were willing to look at the example of other countries we should not find a use for those millions of acres which are practically untenanted. This is a project in which I can expect assistance, and even a lead if necessary from both sides of the Chamber, and honorable senators will find me in this connexion a very docile and tractable follower. If it is possible for the Senate to incite the Government to spend a little more money in development, which is necessary for the prosperity of the country, it should be done. It is becoming more and more an established fact that that country which most closely weds science and commerce is going to be the successful country of the world. If our arch-enemy, instead of going to war in 1914, had pursued the course she was. then engaged upon - the absorption of the commerce of the world - she would have won from the rest of the world a more important victory than the Allies won from her. It is good for us that it was not so. Let us be prepared for the second war - a war of commerce-which is even now engaging the attention of the nations of the earth. Let us see that this land of ours is not behind in holding her place amongst the nations.
The question has been raised during the debate whether the Australian workman to-day is as good a workman as he was ten or twenty years ago. Undoubtedly heis, but in my opinion he is not so well led. The Australian workman, as I have seen him - and I have seen a good deal of him from every point of view - manifests in his work the same qualities that he displayed on the battle-field. He possesses the same qualities as a workman that he possessed asa soldier. Those qualifications, we can say without . boasting, fitted him to take his place amongst the foremost warriors of the world. Those qualifications of independence, resourcefulness, courage, reluctance, nay, refusal to admit defeat, were always evident so long as he was well led, and they made him the terror of Australia’s enemies. And so it is with the Australian as a workman. But the Australian, as a workman - I am speaking, as I have alreadysaid, after a fairly long experience of him - is extremely touchy, extremely suspicious, and to use a colloquialism, if he thinks anything is being “ put over “ him, he will fight to the utmost of his strength. Although wages are higher, efficiency is lower, and that is due to the fact that in many instances the Australian workman does not think for himself, but is told by others what to do.
– Does the honorable senator ever think for him?
– I have been one of them, and, as one of them, always thought for myself.
– That is why the honorable senator is here.
– Perhaps I should have been here sooner if I had allowed others to think for me. I have, however, a natural disposition to resent such a thing. If Australian workmen thought for themselves there would not be the industrial trouble that there is to-day.
SenatorGrant. - They do think for themselves.
– Perhaps I have been more readily able to enter into the feelings of Australian workmen than’ the honorable senator. 1 have seen workmen employed where perhaps the honorable senator has not - where resourcefulness and courage were necessary-in the more remote parts of this great continent.
– This country is owned principally by banking and other financial institutions.
– Do not try to “ put that over “ me. I have travelled sufficiently to know that such is not the case.
– What of the Northern Territory ?
– Order! There are too many interjections.
– What has been the result to those workmen who have, been misled. We cannot put it into figures ; but the Australian workman has a good deal to put up against those gentlemen.
Senator Grant is of the opinion that there should be one Arbitration authority. The only point on which we differ is as to which authority that should be. In Western Australia we have suffered, not only in regard to expense, but in. every other way, from the fact that our labour unions have been too prone to fly to the Federal Arbitration Court. It has meant, in the first place, a very great loss of money. I shall leave out of account the overlapping of awards that occurs, and the uncertainty existing in the minds of employers and employees as to which award is to be taken as the basis for the payment of wages, but I shall mention a few cases with the particulars of which I have been furnished. Take the engine-drivers’ award of 1918. Allowing for reasonable legal charges and witnesses’ expenses, the total cost of obtaining the award from the Federal Court amounted to £1,800, and a fair sum to allow for the costs of the same award, if settled in the State where the dispute occurred, would be £450. In the case of the award of the engine-drivers which expired in 1922, the cost in the Commonwealth Court amounted to £596. A fair charge for the settlement of the matter in the State Court would have been £200. The engineers’ award in 1921 cost £412, “ and the cost in the State Court wouldnot have exceeded £150. The costs in the Federal timber-workers’ award in 1920, exclusive of expenses in connexion with visits of the respondents to Melbourne, amounted to £3,527, but it. is estimated that the cost in this matter in the State Court would not have been above £500. For a variation of the engineers’ award in 1922 the costs were £463 ; in the State Court the cost would not have exceeded £200. ‘ In the case of the carters and drivers’ award of 1921 the cost amounted to £264, and it is estimated that the costs in the State Court would not have been more than £120. Many more cases could be cited, but these show that the cost of awards, which were eminently unsatisfactory to both parties, amounted to £7,057, as against a cost of £1,670 in the State tribunal. Although these figures are not very large, they show what a positive disadvantage Western Australia has- suffered through having to settle its industrial matters in the Commonwealth Court.
Let me also point out some absurdities. A’ case with which I am fairly well acquainted is -now proceeding. It is another timber- workers’ dispute. It was initiated somewhere about January last, and we shall probably get an award about the end of the present month. The award will expire on the 31st December next. It will have taken seven months to obtain an award which will have a duration of only five months. Then the whole process will go on again. It is obviously ridiculous and unsatisfactory. I hope that the Federal Government will retire from this arena, which they should never have entered except as regards their own employees.
The wording of the Constitution is that the Commonwealth Court shall have jurisdiction in disputes extending over more than one State, but I venture to say that the framers of the Constitution did not realize how extremely easy it would be to extend disputes. Furthermore, these industrial disagreements, as in the case of the timber industry, often have no connexion with disputes in the other States. The circumstances of the timber industry in Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland, and Western Australia are as far apart as the poles. One might as well say that when a fire occurs in Flinders-lane - to mention a locality that is dear to honorable senators opposite - and another fire occurs, say, at Toorak, which I also understand is anathema with those honorable gentlemen, the two conflagrations could be said to extend from one to the other. That is obviously absurd, and I hope that whatever amendment is made in the Federal Arbitration laws, will have the effect of limiting the consideration of purely domestic State matters to the State Arbitration Courts. Undoubtedly, let the Commonwealth have an Arbitration Court of its own, but let its jurisdiction be confined to matters concerning only the Commonwealth and Commonwealth employees. That to me is an obvious way out of the difficulty. I think that the Commonwealth may very properly relinquish some of the powers that it has been eagerly grasping after and accumulating, more particularly in the last few years. I think I can see a gleam of hope on the horizon now. Those in authority at present .are not as anxious as was the case a few years ago, to get their fingers in all the pies they can, because they realize that some of these pies are very hot, and that they may get their fingers burnt. Increased power means increased responsibility. I may be branded as a “ Staterighter.” I have heard “ State-righters “ spoken of contemptuously both inside and outside this Chamber. My wish is to carry out the intention of the Constitution, leaving to the States the control of the affairs that they consider can best be managed by themselves, and of retaining entirely within the grip of the Commonwealth those matters which the Commonwealth can best administer.
Let me say a word or two in regard to taxation. Here, again, I feel that I shall possibly be treading on the corns of some honorable senators, because I hold the view at present - and I do not see any immediate prospect of my relinquishing it - that an income tax is about the fairest tax that can he levied.
– What nonsense!
– I expected such an interjection from the honorable senator. I maintain that it is the fairest tax that can be levied, because, after all, it finds out in the first place whether a man has got anything with which to pay a tax. . I admit that the gentlemen who administer the Taxation Department show a fiendish ingenuity for making an apparent profit out of what is a real loss. Still, the general principle of the tax is that the more a man has of this world’s goods the more he must pay. That would be quite fair, if the basis of the taxation were a proper one; but we have a very long way to go before that happy consummation will be reached. Some years ago - and I cannot plead in my defence the inexperience of youth - I evolved a scheme of taxation that afforded me, and some other people, too, a great deal of satisfaction. It has always appeared to me to be a wicked .thing that people engaged in industries that are deleterious to the community should pay the same rate in the £1 as those occupied in what we may call developmental industries. I hope that I shall not offend the susceptibilities of any honorable senator by the instance I am about to give, but it has always seemed to me to be most anomalous and wicked that a person who makes so easy a living us, for instance, a bookmaker does, should pay only the same rate in the £1 as, say, the farmer. There are numerous other comparisons that honorable senators can make for themselves.
– The honorable senator does not mean that it is unfair .to the bookmaker?
– No, I do not. I am not looking at the unfairness of the present system to the individual, but I maintain that it is unfair to the country. I have thought about the matter a great deal, and if honorable senators will consider it for a moment, they will realize that the less valuable an industry is to a country, the easier it is to make money in it. On the other hand, the more beneficial it is, and the more it tends to uplift the people. of a country, the harder it is to make it pay. That is a generalization; but it will stand examination. The fairest and best scheme of taxation that could be devised is what I have called a differentiated, graduated income tax. I hope that honorable senators will not be frightened by the name. If ever we have a Government with sufficient moral courage - and it would need a lot - to differentiate the amount of income tax to be paid according to the value of the taxpayer to the community, we shall get a little nearer to having a perfect community.
– Does the honorable senator want a tax on wealth?
– -No ; I want the Taxation Department, instead of being a thing of terror, to be a means of uplifting the life of this country. For one thing, I desire to stop the drift into the cities. I should like to see a much larger number of men working for themselves, and not for wages. If “Australia is ever to be prosperous, we must make it a land of small holdings - every man with his heart in his own holding. There are industries that we shall do well to develop. Cotton-growing, to quote one instance, is a domestic industry, and so is tobacco culture. .”We can produce in Australia tobacco equal in quality to any in the world. It is far better to have ten men making £1,000 per annum than one man earning £10,000. The greatest example of the prosperity of the small holder is afforded in rural France - that France which paid off the huge indemnity of 1871 practically without effort, principally because of the presence of the small holders. I need not dwell upon this aspect of taxation, because it is very much in the air. I despair of finding a Government that would be prepared to combat the influences that would be brought to bear against them if they had the temerity to introduce the system. But I believe it would have the effect of settling a rural population in Australia. It would prevent the drift to the cities, because those in the country would find themselves less likely to taxation than those in the gas-lit areas.
There is another word that I am almost afraid to utter in this Chamber, remembering my geographical situation, and sitting, as I am, so close to the mover of the motion, who comes from Victoria. That word is “ Canberra.” This has been a subject of great speculation to me, so I took the first opportunity, after my arrival in this fair, but misleading, city of Melbourne, to go to Canberra at a time of the year when I might expect to see the place at its worst. I may say that the inspection was eminently pleasing to mie. I had long been of the opinion that it was necessary that the Australian Parliament should have what might be termed an independent meeting place. Both Canada and the United States of America found that it was necessary to adopt that course. Even the Federated
Malay States have recognised its wisdom, and have their own meeting-place at Kuala Lumpur.
– Apart from those considerations, the people of Australia have decided that the capital city shall be in New South Wales.
-x-The people of Australia decided that this meeting-place should be set aside. Despite that fact, the representatives of the people of Australia have so far displayed a most remarkable and inexplicable reluctance to give effect to that decision. I urge the necessity, from not only a constitutional but a business point of view, of making Canberra a working Capital as soon as possible. In this matter we occupy the same position as a merchant who, hav* ing decided to shift to new buildings, buys the land and partially erects the premises, paying interest on the money he has expended, but not entering into occupation; Our present position is an absurd and futile one. I dare say I should be happier in Melbourne than in Canberra.
– The honorable senator would be happier in Canberra.
– If the honorable senator will promise me that, I shall be quite willing to go there and place my happiness, to a certain extent, in his hands. It would be better for this Parliament to get away from what I can describe only as the too protective influence of Melbourne; it would be better to leave this somewhat enervating and politically relaxing atmosphere.
We are acting foolishly, from not only a Constitutional but a purely business point of view, in not taking up our political residence at Canberra at the earliest possible moment. Canberra occupies a noble site. It is a country of . contours, the like of which I do not think I have seen elsewhere. I have experienced only the winter climate, but I can vouch for the fact that it possesses a sufficiently bracing quality to make our debates even more snappy than they are. The scheme itself is a noble one. To its originator - whom I do not know - and to those who are carrying it out - some of whom I do know - this Parliament is acting very unfairly by delaying the removal to Canberra. This delay will cause Canberra to become the grave-yard of reputations, not through any fault of the men who possess those reputations, but simply because of the dilatoriness of those in authority. There are one or two minor defects. There always is a “ fly in the ointment.” There are several small “ flies “ in this case, and their presence is not the less annoying because they are small. For instance - to quote a very small matter - at Canberra is made one of the best bricks in respect both to quality and colour that I have ever seen. With those bricks they erect cottages of a weird and awful design. Not content with putting these outre cottages side by side on blocks of land that are too small, they destroy the natural beauty of the bricks by white- washing them.
– The cottages look like fowl-houses.
– I would not go so far as to say that; but they look to me like charity institutions. They look as though the inhabitants have had a good turn done to them, instead of their having done a good turn to the country:
I have heard at the conclusion of gatherings - sometimes with difficulty, on account of the lack of distinct enunciation, but always with a fervency of expression - a song which states that we all go the same road home. I apply the analogy to the Senate. Honorable senators opposite are travelling the same road that we on this side are travelling. It is a wide road. It is true that we walk on different sides of it. It also is true that some of those who cross from one side of the road to the other - jay-walkers, I understand, they are called in some parts - are destroyed in the process, while others negotiate the passage in. safety. Why should we, in travelling along this highway, pause in our progress to throw stones at one another? That is too much the case. Not only do those who are walking along the road throw stones; little wicked, wanton urchins come from the by-ways and alley-ways - “ extremists,” I think they are called - but they throw stones at all and sundry, not caring whom they hit, or what damage they do. Let us look to the end of the road, where is the goal of all our ambitions - an Australia great, glorious, happy, prosperous.
– After listening to the nicelyturned phrases of the honorable senator who has just sat down, and to his perfect diction, one is almost inclined to apolo gize for adding a word or two to the general confusion - if I might put it so - that has been caused by the speeches which have been delivered on this motion. In the few observations I intend making I shall adhere more closely than the majority of the speakers who preceded me to the programme which is to be submitted to the Senate during the next few weeks. The Governor-General’s Speech contains references to a sufficient, amount of work to keep the Senate very busily employed for a much longer period than is intended. There is, however, no reason why we should not tackle the work that is set before us, and complete as much of it as we possibly can, believing that a great deal of it will be in the interests of the people of Australia.
We have heard some very doleful stories regarding the conditions in Australia. There has been a lot of talk about unemployment, about men looking for work and being unable to find it. Unfortunately, that is true. But Australia is not the only country which has its quota of unemployment; every country in the world has its quota, and I think I should be safe in saying that Australia has less than any of the civilized countries with which we are acquainted. That, of course, is no justification for the existence of unemployment in Australia. I mention it merely in reply to those who have been at great pains to tell the world that, there is a certain number of unemployed people in Australia. I am one of those who came to Australia with only the proverbial shilling in their pockets. I have had to battle through the “ ups and downs “ of this country for forty years. I have visited other countries, and I do not know of any in which a man can make more progress and secure for himself and his family a greater measure of happiness than he can in Australia.
I dislike intensely this continual croaking about the bad conditions that exist in Australia, knowing as I do perfectly well that those croakings are indulged in very largely for party political purposes, and that Australia is in ho worse condition than is any other country. There is i every prospect of a most bountiful season on top of several other bountiful seasons. The rains have extended over a larger area of Australia, this year, than has been the case for many years, and I have very little doubt that the productivity of the country in the coining season will be greater than it has been for a number of years. Surely it is worth while showing the buoyancy of Australia when such doleful tales are told- by honorable senators opposite. Our financial position is excellent. The Treasurer shortly will be issuing his financial statement, which will disclose that in the past year there has been a. large surplus of revenue over expenditure.I am sure that every man who has regard for his country cannot but look upon that as being most satisfactory.
During this debate we have heard a good deal regarding the Premiers’ Conference. I have never favoured the manner in which these Conferences have been held. I contend that the matters with which they deal should be initiated in the Federal Parliament, andbe referred afterwards to the Premiers. Up to the present time a start has always been made at the wrong end. I hope that the Government, in future, will see that the matters which it is thought necessary to refer to the Premiers are dealt with first by the Federal Executive and the Federal Parliament. I am sure that that will be better for the various State Parliaments. The Federal Parliament, after all, as the . senior Parliament of Australia, is the body which should initiate and deal with all measures for altering the existing relations between the Commonwealth and the States. Possibly during the course of the next few weeks, when we shall be called upon to indorse certain matters upon which Commonwealth Ministers have come to an agreement with State Ministers, one will have an opportunity to say a great deal more on this subject than one feels inclined to do at this moment.
We are told in the Governor-General’s Speech that something is to be done in regard to public health. I know of nothing of greater importance to this country than the care of the public health, yet there are very few directions in which less practical work is being done. The States evidently have not the courage or the initiative to introduce drastic reforms for the benefit of the health of the people. I do not know what powers the Commonwealth possess in this regard; but I do know that it is time something was done to prevent the spread of diseases of various kinds which are rapidly’ filling our asylums, charitable institutions, and graveyards. There is nothing in which the interests of the people could be more profitably considered than the preservation of health.
– We are about the only country in the world that has not tackled the question.
– I believe that is so. The Commonwealth has failed to take any practical step to check the spread of these diseases. Senator Graham referred to miners’ phthisis to which a tremendous number of men have become victims. That is a preventable disease. But the mine-owners are not the only persons’ to be blamed; the miners are careless in handling food and in neglecting to observe cleanly habits. Therefore, I hope that, when the Government impose strict conditions on the mineowners, they will impose stricter conditions on the men in the interests of the men themselves. Cancer is becoming a fearful menace in this country. A few years ago it was rarely one heard of a case of cancer; to-day this dread ‘ disease is carrying off a tremendous number of our people. It is one of the most awful afflictions to which the human frame is subject. Then, again, the sooner effective steps are taken to check the ravages of tuberculosis and venereal diseases, the better for the whole community. I hope that the Commonwealth Government will not stop at spending a few paltry pounds in this direction. The press, particularly the press of Victoria, are rather inclined to sneer at the Commonwealth’s health institutions, just as they do at the Institute of Science and Industry; but, whenever, an advance is suggested in this country-, we always find some small-minded persons finding fault with it, or sneering at it. I hope that the Government will take no notice of these cheap critics, and that they will proceed to place their health and scientific institutes on a basis that will give the people of Australia every confidence in the work they are doing. Money could not be spent to better advan- , tage than in safeguarding the health of the community.
Later on, we shall be called upon to deal with the proposal to unify the railway gauges of Australia. It is absolute folly on the part of this country to continue extending railways of varying gauges, thus adding to the confusion and to the loss the community sustains. Although the cost will be great, I trust something will be done in the very near future to put an end to all this foolishness, and to rid Australia of the great inconvenience to the public. The loss occasioned in the transport of goods from the interior to the seaboard, owing to breaks of gauge, is a great handicap to the producers. I hope that serious efforts will be made to overcome the difficulty. The unification of our railway gauges will have a double-barrelled effect. Whilst assisting the primary producer and the community in general, it will also provide employment for a large number of people whom we want to settle in Australia.
I do not intend to make any extensive reference to the forthcoming Imperial and Economic Conferences. Of course, I regret exceedingly with other ‘honorable senators that Parliament has to be closed while the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) goes to England. There is sufficient work ahead pf us to -keep this Parliament going full time while the Prime Minister will be away from Australia; but it would be a most unwise procedure to carry on the work of the country without the Prime Minister. No matter what party is in power the Prime Minister should be in his place when Parliament is sitting-; and, ‘as we cannot pick and choose our time for the holding of the Imperial and Economic Conferences, we must close Parliament so that Mr. Bruce may go to England when he is summoned to attend them. By doing so, we shall leave him untrammelled - free to do the work that lies at his hand at those Conferences, believing, as I do, that Australia will benefit considerably by what should be, and I have no doubt will be, done.
I am not satisfied with the manner in which the Mandated Territories are being administered. I have, of course, noted the fact that it is claimed that much of what has been printed and circulated by the press quite recently concerning these Territories is German propaganda. A lot of it, I have no doubt, has , con]e from that source, but I am personally acquainted with Britishers who are just as keen and as honest as any honorable senator, and the first-hand information they have given to me has satisfied me that all is not well in the Mandated Territories. I have no desire to make things appear to be worse than they are, but- 1 claim that the people of Australia are not satisfied with the manner in which the Territories are being controlled. ‘ The Government may know what they are doing, but the taxpayers who find the money have some right to know how it is being spent, and whether it is being wisely or foolishly spent. Therefore, Ministers ought to take the community into their confidence in this regard. The people insist on knowing more about the Territories than they do now. I have recently met a gentleman who came back to Melbourne a few weeks ago after spending six years in the Mandated Territories and the Pacific Islands. He has said sufficient to satisfy me that things are not as they ought to be, and that much which could be ‘done is not being done, simply because the people of Australia do not -know what ought to be. done.
We are told in the Governor-General’s Speech that a number of Ordinances have been framed. It is an easy matter to frame Ordinances in Melbourne, but it is a very different proposition to give effect to them in “New Guinea. Something more than the framing of Ordinances is necessary for the proper administration of the Mandated Territories. The Government propose to send a delegation or Committee to New Guinea to examine the books and accounts there, and inquire into the financial arrangements. I understand that it is proposed to delegate this task to a firm of Sydney accountants or auditors, but I should like to see some practical men visit the Islands and conduct an authoritative investigation, not only into the financial administration of the Islands, but also into everything that is being done there. I say, unhesitatingly, that a Committee of this Parliament is ‘ the only body capable of undertaking the task. Men who are responsible to the electors of Australia for their actions in either branch of this Legislature, and who have to answer periodically to the electors for what they do, should go to New Guinea clothed with authority to take evidence on oath, and should come back, not merely with a printed report which very few people may read, but with knowledge that will enable them to stand in their places in Parliament and tell the people what is wrong, and how it can be rectified. I have no fault to find with the project to send this delegation there. I hope that the Government will adopt my suggestion, and send three or four capable and qualified men, members of each House of this Parliament, to investigate the administration of the islands. Their report should not consist merely of their own views, but should be based on evidence taken on oath from the inhabitants. That would be the most effective’ and satisfactorymeans of placing before this Parliament and the people of Australia the actual conditions at the islands.
I am not at all satisfied with the proposals of the Government for the development of the Northern Territory. I know that the new Ordinance framed to operate in that country has recently run the gauntlet of the House of Representatives, and sustained adverse criticism. I have read the Ordinance very carefully, and from my knowledge of the conditions of that country I say that it is the best Ordinance I have yet seen. , I do not contend that no fault can be found with it. There is a reference on the notice-paper to the Northern Territory Ordinance, which prevents me from dealing fully with it to-day; but I shall deal further with this subject when it comes forward for discussion. The Government have promised to assist in the internal development of the Northern Territory, by providing increased coastal shipping facilities, and improved telegraph and telephonic communications. Any assistance the Government may give will encourage the settlers. The men who have settled in the great centre of Australia, do nob expect very generous treatment at the hands of “the Government. I wish to . refer to a report of the Public Works Committee, of which I was a member, which was made some two years ago on the possibilities of the ‘development of the Northern Territory. The Committee furnished a report to the then Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes), briefly setting out the best means of giving assistance to the. settlers. The first reference in the report was to the provision of roads. I believe the Government intend to provide roads. They are not difficult to construct after the wet season ; the firebreak plough used by the settlers makes an excellent road for motor and vehicular traffic. It will cost comparatively little to carry out this work. The great bugbear to the motorist travelling in that country is the ant hill, which seems to grow in a night. The wheels and axles of motor cars are damaged because the ant hills are obstructed from view by the long grass.
The Committee recommended the establishment of telephonic communication and certain treatment for the aboriginals. They recommended in a few words the practical suggestions made by the settlers in that country. These men did not want very much; so little has been done for them, in the past that they have not acquired the habit of making requests to the same extent as have the people in the southern part of Australia. I am glad to know that the Government intend to give some effect to the recommendations of the Committee.
A paragraph in the Governor-General’s Speech reads -
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 southwards to Daly Waters.
The length of that line would be some 64 miles.
– It is more like 115 miles.
– I am confusing the two sections. The previous Committee recommended one section from Emungalan to Mataranka, a distance of 64 miles. A further section of 95 miles, recommended by the Committee of which I was a member, would carry the railway from Mataranka to Daly Waters. This proposal of the Government gives effect to the agreement with South Australia to only a small extent. I do not want it to be . supposed, for one moment, that I have any objection to the extension of the railway from the north southwards. But I have strong objection to the Government ignoring the report of the Committee, which was asked by the previous Administration to report on the North-South railway. The construction of a line from Emungalan . to Daly Waters would not, in any shape or form, give effect to the arrangement which was made with South Australia. In this paragraph in the Speech,, the Government have clearly acknowledged their obligation to that
State. The report of the Committee on the possibilities of railway construction in the Northern Territory has been acknowledged by many authorities to be one of the most complete of its kind ever issued, and it deserves better treatment than has been meted out to ib at the hands of the Government.
The Northern Territory Acceptance Act clearly sets out the undertaking between the Governments of the Commonwealth and South Australia, and when this proposed railway is being discussed in the Senate, I shall deal at length with the Act. I shall put, not only my view, but the view of the people of South Australia, and, what is of far greater consequence, the view of the people of the Northern Territory. E hope then to be able to induce a sufficient number of honorable senators to agree to the recommendation of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee to extend the line from the south to the north, as well as from the north to the south. The proposed railway from Emungalan to Daly Waters will necessitate the construction of a large and costly bridge over the Katherine River. The erection of that bridge was recommended by a Sectional Committee nearly ten years ago. This Committee investigated the question of the construction of a railway from Emungalan to Mataranka. The construction of the bridge will take at least three years. Work can only be carried on for six or eight months of the year, the Katherine River being in flood during the remaining months. The Katherine is one of the many magnificent rivers which flow through the northern portion of Australia.
When putting before the Senate the proposal to extend the railway from Emungalan to Daly Waters, the Government should also include the recommendation of the Public Works Committee, for an extension to Newcastle Waters. If the line from Emungalan to Daly Waters is constructed it will be in the same position as the railway at Oodnadatta, which is a dead end. I cannot imagine the Government adopting so foolish a policy, and I have no doubt that they will include the proposal to extend the railway to Newcastle Waters as suggested by the Committee.’ I am anxious that a railway should be built from the northern end of the Territory, but my complaint is that the Government have not undertaken to construct a. railway from Oodnadatta to the Macdonnell Ranges. The evidence taken, by the Public Works Committee shows . that the Macdonnell Ranges comprise country which is of a most magnificent, and valuable nature. There is tremendous potential wealth in those Ranges in minerals, water conservation, and irrigation. Nature, in a large part, hasprovided dams for the conservation of water. Last week the Premier of South Australia (Sir Henry Barwell), the Governor of South Australia (Sir Ton* Bridges), the State Railways Commissioner, and the Commonwealth Railways- Commissioner returned ‘from a trip to the Macdonnell Ranges. The majority of these gentlemen were acting in their official capacity, and will furnish departmental reports. Sir Henry Barwell will, no doubt, make a public report, and when it is published I am quite confident that it will substantiate previous statements as to the wonderful nature of the country in the Macdonnell Ranges. Those gentlemen went westward to the Hermannsburg mission station, and eastwards to the Arltunga gold-field and the wolfram deposit at Winnecke’s Depot. Approximately ten days were spent by them in the Macdonnell Ranges district. They reported that the country there was highly adapted for carrying sheep. The Arltunga district is the only part of Central Australia where sheep are now being carried; the rest of the country is devoted to cattle-raising.
When the members of the Public Works Sectional Committee passed through the Macdonnell Ranges, we interviewed a man who had 5,000 sheep, and whose principal trouble was the wild dogs, which multiply like rabbits, and are not easily destroyed. In these circumstances, a sheep-breeder has to shepherd his flocks during the day and place them in a compound over night to insure their safety. That is a big undertaking for any man running 5,000 sheep. The sheep we saw were of Very high quality, and equal to any to be found in any part of Australia. This man, whose property is not far from Alice Springs, is doing well, as he can transport his wool by waggon to the railhead when the conditions are normal, and send it by camel during a wet season.
His experience in that part of the country shows that sheep can be successfully reared, and every one conversant with the country in the Macdonnell Ranges agrees that it is not only suitable for sheep, but can be utilized for intense culture, if a market can be found for the produce. If a railway were constructed to the Great White Range, concerning which many mining men of experience have reported favourably, the mineral resources in that locality would be extensively developed. The Range is approximately 3 miles long and practically the whole of it is supposed to be mineral-bearing. The country was worked many years ago by prospectors and fossickers; but the freight on flour, tools of trade, and other necessaries was £20 per ton, and, on a 4-oz. show, sufficient could not be made to cover the cost of transport. It is not claimed that it is a 4-oz. show - it is really a 15-dwt. milling proposition - and capital is required to enable it to be developed. If a railway were constructed from Oodnadatta to the Arltunga field, probably thousands of men would be able to make a living, and thus give a fillip to settlement.
I do not intend to go into the whole history of railway construction in the Northern Territory or its mismanagement through various causes. I am not blaming any Government. The Territory is in itself a contineut, and it would be impossible to ask any Government to administer it successfully and provide for its requirements unless its members knew something concerning its possibilities. The Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) has visited a portion of the Northern Territory - I am sorry he could not see more of it - and although he has always advocated the construction of the North line, I am sure he returned considerably enlightened. I regret that he had not sufficient time to traverse the track covered by the sectional Committee, and thus see the wonderful country in the Macdonnell Ranges. I do not wish to labour the question. I merely indicate to the Government that when proposals are brought forward to give effect to the recommendations of the sectional Committee - for which I was largely responsible - consideration should be given to the construction of a line from Oodnadatta northwards. I trust the Government will show some practical desire to observe the compact made with
South Australia when the Territory was handed over to the Commonwealth. I wish to refer honorable senators to the recommendations made by the sectional Committee, and to place them on record so that they may be available when the Government proposals are before us for consideration. The first recommendation of the Committee was-
That the Committee approves of the construction of a section of railway from Mataranka to Daly Waters on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, using 60-lb. rails.
The second recommendation reads -
That the Committee approves of the extension of the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta line to Alice Springs by the construction of a light line of railway with 60-lb. rails and low- level bridges.
The country between Oodnadatta and Charlotte Waters is the most inferior, and it appears that when once the border of the Territory is crossed the country improves. There is a dry patch between Oodnadatta and the border, but the whole of the dry area around Hergott Springs - now known as Maree - where the country is poor and the rainfall low, is used for cattle-breeding. Some of the men owning stations there are doing very well, which shows that even the poorest country is capable of carrying cattle. I am submitting this plea, not for South Australia, but for the people who have settled in the Northern Territory and have devoted to it from twenty to forty years of their lives in the hope that before they pass on they will see some return for their labours. They have spent many lonely years on those silent lands, and I am putting the cast! on their behalf because they have been hoping against hope that some day a Government would do what has long been promised. A solemn obligation was entered into, and it should be honoured. If the pledge had not been given they would not expect a railway, and would be depending upon the good will of the Commonwealth. The ex-Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes), prior to the last general election, stated in his policy speech that the railway would be con- . structed, and on that policy honorable senators on this side were returned. In fact, I have not heard that any member of the Opposition repudiates the construction of the line.
– Honorable senators opposite have a majority. Why is not the line built?
– That is what I am asking. Up to the present the Government have not given a pledge which satisfies me, and 1 am endeavouring to get them to honour a solemn compact. At an Inter- State conference of representatives of the Country party, held in Adelaide, a little over a year ago, the present Treasurer, Dr. Earle Page, pledged his party to the construction of the NorthSouth railway. There seems to be no justification whatever for any section of the Government declining to honour this pledge. The proposal of the Government is to construct a small section at the northern end, which is the most expensive part of the line.
– That will suit the Queensland proposals.
– I do not know whether Queensland has made any proposals. There is nothing in the Northern Territory Acceptance Act which refers to Queensland in any way. I am not acquainted, neither am I concerned, with what Queensland has in mind, but the promise is embodied in the Act to which I have referred. The Queensland people will be able to build branch’ lines, and the North-South railway will help to “make them pay.
– The honorable senator would like Queensland to build railways to make his project pay.
– The Queensland people want the North-South line diverted into Queensland to assist their lines.
– There is nothing in the Northern Territory Acceptance Act that debars that.
– Paragraph c of clause 2 of the schedule to the Act reads - . . construct or cause to be constructed a railway in South Australia proper from any point on the Port Augusta railway to a point on the northern boundary line of South Australia proper to connect with that part of the transcontinental railway to be built in the Northern Territory from Port Darwin southwards to the northern boundary of South Australia proper, and to maintain and work such railway when constructed.
If that is not clear, definite, and emphatic, I do not understand the English language. There was a distinct promise to construct the railway in South Australia and in the Northern Territory.
-brockman. - It is an authority to construct the railway.
– Lawyers may quibble about the question as they please, but a common-sense man would say that the language is emphatic, and incapable of being misunderstood: The railway has to be constructed to observe the compact. I point out to Senator Drake-Brockman that the Northern Territory Acceptance Act is also the charter authorizing the construction of the EastWest railway. It speaks of the building of a railway from Port Augusta westward to the boundary of South Australia, to connect with a railway in Western Australia., running in an easterly direction to the South Australian border. But the language of the Act is not nearly so emphatic in regard to the East- West railway, which is now an accomplished fact, as it is concerning the North-South line.
– Would not the spirit of the agreement be observed by the line going to Birdsville ?
– To talk about honouring the agreement only in the spirit is to make a “ scrap of paper “ of it. It has been said that the railway would pass through worthless country, but. every investigation has shewn that in the Northern Territory the Commonwealth has a rich inheritance that only needs development to make it pay handsomely. No doubt, in years to come, railways will be constructed, not only to the Queensland border, but also into the fertile country in the northern portion of Western Australia, which- is now peopled only by the aborigines: I think that no honorable senator is prepared to say that the Commonwealth ought not to observe the compact that has been made. I have always maintained that South Australia should never have parted with the Northern Territory, and I shall not change my view until the Commonwealth’ proves that it is willing to carry out the agreement. .
I regret that the Government have not met Vestey Brothers in the way that has been suggested by that company.
– Do you think that they should be given a subsidy of £2 per beast ?
– I have a copy of the agreement before me, and it is only fair that Hansard should contain a record of what .the Government proposal was, >and what Vestey Brothers thought of it. I hold no brief for the firm, but on my visit to the Territory, everybody, especially at the upper end, had a good word to say for them. They gave the small growers a fair deal. Their works had to be built very much larger than they needed for the purpose of treating their own “cattle, and the small men were able to get their stock treated at the works. When the firm were exporting cattle to Java, Manila, and other islands, they were willing to send with their own consignments cattle owned by the small growers. The Commonwealth Government’s offer to Vestey Brothers, made on the 26th March, 1923, was as follows: -
Home and Territories Department. 61 Spring-street,
Melbourne, 26th March, 1923. dear Sir,
With reference to your communication of the 13th November, 1922, addressed to the Administrator of the Northern Territory, wherein you asked that financial assistance in certain specified directions be granted by the Commonwealth Government with the object ofenabling operations to be resumed at your company’s meat . works at Darwin, ‘ I desire to inform you that consideration of your request has been delayed as a consequence of the holding of the recent elections and the subsequent reconstruction of . the Government.
The matter has, however, now been carefully considered by the Government, and it has been decided that any assistance granted to . your company should be in the form of further concessions in respect of railway freights.
To that end, approval has been given to the following arrangement, namely: -
Whilst the average wholesale price of frozen beef in London is below 4d. per lb., a freight equivalent to 5s. per head shall be charged for the carriage of cattle from the Katherine to the freezing works at Darwin for purposes of freezing.
Such freight shall be increased by . 2s. per head for each increase of id. per lb. in excess of 4d. per lb., in the London price, until the rate chargeable under the former agreement with your company shall have been reached, whereupon the lastmentioned rate will become a fixed rate.
In addition to the foregoing concession, your company willbe entitled to participate in any general subsidy on exported beef that the Commonwealth Government may decide to pay.
I shall be glad if you will let me know as soon as possible whether this arrangement is acceptable to your company, in order that steps may be taken to prepare a fresh agreement.
Yours faithfully, (Sgd.) G.F. Pearce,
Minister for Home and Territories.
C W. D. Conacher, Esq.,
The North Australian Meat Co. Ltd., 79 Pitt-street, Sydney.
Vestey Brothers’ reply shows what they thought of the Government’s proposal Their letter, dated 28th March, states -
Yours 26th received. Regret arrangement will not enable works to be reopened. You offer under 5s. head to do what is costing West Australian Government £6. We offered to do it for approximately £2 7s.. Westralia not hampered by Darwin’s truck and wharf problems, ameliorationof which you do not mention. The burden is too heavy for private enterprise. Certainly considered you had much more substantial relief in your mind in your last interview Sir Philip Proctor. Am I to consider your decision final?
C.W. D. Conacher.
I leave it to honorable senators to judge whether sufficient inducement was offered the firm, to cause them to return to the Northern Territory.
– Would the honorable senator give them a subsidy of £2 per head?
– There is nothing said in the agreement about that. The subsidy asked for was on a diminishing scale. As soon as the price of beef reached a certain figure the payment was to be reduced.
– That is not the case; the subsidy was to be reduced as soon as they had killed over a certain number of cattle.
– And the number was almost beyond any expectation.
– Not at. all. Vestey Brothers’ own herds in the
Territory had increased tremendously. Their cattle have to be sent to the Wyndham works at present.
– They could kill a certain number per annum, and the price would begin to drop only when that number was reached, but it was not a feasible number.
– It was feasible, because the more cattle they killed the greater the ‘ turnover, and the more the profit. Vestey Brothers’ hands are fairly full in other parts of the world, and it does not matter very much to them whether they continue to operate in the Commonwealth or not. I commend the Government for trying to encourage cotton-growing and other industries in the Territory, but pastoralists big and little have asked that the cattle industry be developed. This industry helps the small man in a way which nothing else can . Unless Vestey Brothers are established in the Northern Territory, it will be useless for men there to go in for the breeding of cattle to any extent. The advantage to be gained by sending beasts from Port Darwin to other parts is very small compared with that to be derived by these men from having their cattle killed in Vestey Brothers’ works.
– Can the honorable senator tell us how Vestey Brothers’ treatment costs compare with those of the Wyndham works ?
– I have reams of matter here from” Vestey Brothers, but’ I have not had time to pick out all details.
– It is a curious thing that the Wyndham works can operate and the others have to shut down.
– Vestey Brothers may have been put to extra expense. When these works were erected, it was done hurriedly, and perhaps not as well as it might have” been done. The works were erected on a rather bad piece of land. There are several reasons to account for the fact that Vestey’s works do not pay as well as others. I am not appealing for assistance because of any fault in Vestey Brothers’ works. They have recently suffered a loss of £70,000 through the burning down of two great buildings which were used for the accommodation of the employees.
– Are not they injured ?
– -I expect that they are. All that Vestey Brothers ask is that the Government shall give them some assistance which they can pass on to the cattle-growers of the Northern Territory by handling the stock which is grown there. It would pay the Government handsomely to agree to their terms for a limited period. Those terms may be exorbitant, but the probability is that Vestey Brothers- have not said the last word on the matter. It is a public calamity that works of this description should be closed down. They are the only public works in that part of the country.
– The Government have not said the last word, either. They have definitely laid it down that they will not pay a subsidy; but there are other ways of rendering assistance to Vestey Brothers, and they know it.
– I am very glad to hear the Minister say that. I am in frequent touch with Vestey Brothers, and this is the last I have heard from them. I hope that further negotiations will result in something tangible being done to enable Vestey Brothers to start operations again at the earliest possible moment.
I intended dealing with the trade of Port Darwin and of Australia generally with the East, but I shall have another opportunity to do so. I point out, however, that the members of the Public Works Committee, in conducting their investigations into the building of the North-South Railway, visited Java, and on their return furnished to the Prime Minister a report dealing with trade with the East. That was a veryvaluable report, but so far as I know it has not been printed, and nothing has been done.
– Have they a good depth of water at Port Darwin?
– It is as good a port as there is anywhere on the coast of Australia, It has, however, a shockingly constructed wharf. There is a 28-ft. tide, which causes a good deal of trouble. It is a well protected harbor, and if a proper jetty or pier were erected I have no doubt that Port Darwin, as a port, could handle practically the whole of the trade of Australia.
The members of the Public Works Committee obtained much valuable information in Java. Since that time I have been in fairly regular communication with Javanese .merchants and others, and I still contend that there are enormous trade possibilities. We are settling on irrigation areas in every State large numbers of soldiers whose operations are being devoted extensively to fruit-growing. It was mentioned yesterday that the fruit supply was more than equal to the requirements of the people of Australia. In the East, there is an unlimited market for dried fruits, certain kinds of green fruits, and many other Australian products. A Mr. Markwell went to Java and Singapore some time ago in the interests of the growers and merchants of South Australia. That gentleman gave up his business for a year to investigate the conditions in those countries. On his return he furnished to the South Australian Government a report precisely similar in terms to that which the members of the Public Works Committee furnished. He indorsed what we said regarding careless packing, and the fact that a large quantity of the goods which were sent to Java, Singapore, and India was not true to sample. Since his return the manufacturers and growers of South Australia have trebled their business with Java. That can be verified by reference to the records of the Commonwealth Line of Steamers. Previously those steamers left Adelaide with a few tons in their holds, while now they obtain practically full cargoes there. That is largely the result of Mr. Markwell’s operations in the East. A number of people believe that the Government have no right to interfere with trade and commerce, It is impossible, however, for small growers to get on to the foreign markets unaided. Mr. Markwell has made many practical suggestions, yet the Commonwealth Government have not consulted him. A man of his type is worth his weight in gold in finding markets for those who cannot find them for themselves. I urge the Government to subsidize shipping to the East. The growers should get together and market their surplus in a wholesale manner. In Melbourne, several companies have combined. They are pooling their stuff and sending it to Java. If the Government devote attention to this matter, and consult those who know something about it, I have no doubt that a tremendous benefit will accrue to the small producers’ of Australia.
I offer these criticisms with the very best intentions. Whilst I am a supporter of the Government, I shall always con demn that of which I do not approve. I know that the Government do not expect me to remain silent when I have fault to find. As long as I occupy a seat in the Senate I intend to speak my mind freely. When the Government do that of which I approve they will have my cordial support. When they do that of which I disapprove, they will hear my opinion on the matter. The Government have the right to expect that from those who support them.
– I believe that my contribution to this debate is to be the last. It will not be very long.
I desire to refer shortly to a matter that was introduced by Senator Newland. Much has been said in this and other Parliaments of Australia, and a great deal of comment has been made by the press of Australia, regarding the compact entered into between South Australia and the Commonwealth in relation to the building of a North-South transcontinental line. There has been a great deal of controversy on the question of where this line should be built, and as to the meaning of the agreement which waa entered into by the two Governments. Senator Newland has very fixed ideas as to the meaning of this agreement. There are many people who do not agree with him. I have no prejudices in favour of a. direct, or any other kind of line. Perhaps it was a foolish agreement in thefirst place. The fact remains, however,, that the agreement was made, and thespirit of it has to be carried out. What was the spirit of it, apart altogether from that which actually appears in the agreement? I am informed that during the debate in the South Australian Parliament, when the agreement was accepted by that Parliament,’ even the Minister who introduced the Bill stated most definitely that the agreement did not bind the Commonwealth Government to build a direct North-South line, but that, on the contrary, the Commonwealth Government and the Commonwealth Parliament, in their wisdom, could build the line where they liked, so long as it crossed the northern boundary of South Australia.
– I do not think Sir John Bice said it, although others did so.
– The Secretary for Lands, who introduced the Bill, made the statement.
– My information coincides with the statement made by Senator Glasgow.- I have now in my hand the Northern Territory Acceptance Act of 1910. I was rather struck with the quotation that Senator Newland made from the schedule to the Act. If that had stood alone there might have been something inthe contention that the honorable senator, made, that this railway should . run from Port Darwin, in the north, down to Port Augusta, in the south. I turned up the portion of the Act setting out the obligations of the Commonwealth with regard to this railway, and I could not find, in any of those obligations, the sentences that the honorable senator quoted. Then I turned to the obligations of the South Australian Government, and it was there that I found the sentences that he quoted. It is obviously a piece of very bad draftmanship on the part of whoever was responsible for this agreement because it states one thing in the imposing of obligations on the Commonwealth Government, and another thing when it is a matter of the obligations on the South Australian Government. The obligations imposed on the Commonwealth are contained in clause 1, sub -paragraphs b and d, of the agreement. Sub-paragraph b reads as follows : -
The Commonwealth . . . shall
Construct or cause to be constructed a railway line from Port Darwin southwards to a point on the northern, boundary of South Australia proper, which railway, with the railway from a point on the Port Augusta railway to connect therewith is herein referred to as the Transcontinental Railway.
– Evidently, it does not matter how the line winds about.
– BROCKMAN.Nothing is said about the route it shall follow. Sub-paragraph d reads as follows : -
The Commonwealth . . . shall
Construct or cause to be constructed, as part of the Transcontinental Railway, a. railway from a point on the Port Augusta railway to connect with the other part of the Transcontinental Railway at a point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper.
Nothing- is said there as to’ the route. All that is said definitely in this paragraph is that the line shall proceed from
Port Augusta, cross the northern boundary of South Australia’, and ultimately reach Port Darwin. I come now to that provision. ‘ on which South Australian advocates of the direct route from Port Darwin to Port Augusta rely as authority for their assertion. It is contained in clause 2 of the agreement, which sets out the obligations imposed on South Australia. The provision reads as follows : -
The State shall ….
At the time of such surrender authorize by legislation the Commonwealth to do all that is necessary to enable the Commonwealth to make surveys, acquire the necessary lands and to construct or cause to be constructed a railway in South Australia proper from any point on the Port Augusta railway to a point on the northern boundary line of South Australia proper- to connect with that part of the transcontinental railway to be built in the Northern Territory from Port Darwin southwards to the northern boundary of South Australia proper ….
I cannot find in this provision any authority for the assertion that the obligation on the Commonwealth is to build a direct North-South line.
– It is as clear as noonday.
– It is as clear as noonday that the obligation on the Commonwealth is to build a transcontinental railway, starting at Port Darwin, crossing the northern boundary of South Australia somewhere, and finishing ultimately at Port Augusta. I cannot find’ anywhere in this schedule an obligation on the Commonwealth to build the northern portion of this line exclusively in the Northern Territory. It may be said that according to this schedule’ some portion of the northern section, of the line must be built in the Northern Territory, but that, is as far as it goes.
– According to the honorable senator the railway could be circular, so long as its terminal points were at Port Augusta and Port Darwin.
– I believe that the route this railway shall follow is entirely a matter for the decision of the Commonwealth Parliament. It could circle all over Australia, so long as it started at Port Darwin, crossed the northern border of South Australia proper, and finished at- Port Augusta,. Curiously enough, this argument has only crept in quite recently, when it was suggested . by some people, who were looking at the matter from a purely national point of view, and with the idea of making the railway of use in developing Australia, that it should be deviated into Queensland. Whether that would be a wise course or not, I am not here to say - I do not know. There are some who say that if the railway does go by a more or less direct north-south route, it will cross a great deal of useless and barren country. I am not prepared to say whether that is right or wrong. Others say that Australia would be best served by a deviation of the line into Western Australia. They may be right in saying so,but what I say is that the railway should go where it will best serve the Commonwealth, and that the spirit of the agreement with South Australia can very well be observed, while at the same time we shall be doing what is best for the continent of Australia as a whole.
– Would the honorable senator have the railway built through the worst part of Australia to accomplish that object ?
– I would do nothing of the sort. If the railway would go through the worst part of Australia by a deviation into Western Australia, I should not be a party to it. If by going into Queensland, it would pass through the worst part of Australia, I should not be a party to it. If to come down through the centre of Australia meant passing through the best part of ‘ Australia, I should support it. However, I do not know enough about the subject to enable me to form an opinion. I am prepared to be advised upon it, and when the question comes up for consideration, I shall make it my business to inform myself in regard to it.
A good deal of discussion has taken place during the course of this debate on the sale of the Commonwealth Woollen Mills at ‘Geelong. My friends opposite have taken great exception to the sale of the mills to private enterprise. My view is that it is the business of the Government to govern, and not its business to trade, and that was evidently the view of the men who were responsible for the drafting of the Constitution. It has been accepted by constitutional lawyers for many years that the Constitution gives the Commonwealth Government no power to trade. It is the duty of a Government to maintain and uphold the Constitution. If it does not agree with the provisions of the Constitution, it should seek to get it amended, but it is very improper for it to try by any means to evade it in order to carry out its own political ideas. That principle may be accepted by my honorable friends opposite as well as by honorable senators on this side of the Senate.
– Does the honorable senator think that the establishment of these mills was an evasion of the Constitution ?
– I do not suggest that the establishment of the mills for the purpose for which they were intended was an evasion of the Constitution. Under our Constitution a Government has a right to set up any form of trading to meet its own requirements, and it was perfectly constitutional for the Government holding office in 1910 to establish these mills for the purpose of supplying uniforms to meet the requirements of the Military Forces, the Post Office, and other Australian Government Departments, and for the purpose of saving money to the citizens of Australia. But the moment it began to make goods in these mills for the purpose of competing in the markets of the Commonwealth against private concerns it was overriding the Constitution. I am giving now the accepted view of constitutional lawyers who have made a study of this question ever since our Constitution came into existence. It is the view which is held to-day.
– Would the honorable senator say that the Constitution prevents the Commonwealth Government from owning railways?
– Certainly not. This question was first publicly raised in 1903, when a Royal Commission, presided over by Mr. C. C. Kingston, was considering the Bonus for Manufactures Bill. The question having been raised, was referred to the then Attorney-General, the late Mr. Alfred Deakin, and his reply, which is universally accepted as being a correct definition of the law in regard to this matter, was as follows : -
You ask for my opinion, for the information of the Bonus Commission, as to the powers, if any, of the Commonwealth to establish ironworks.
In my opinion, no such power is included in the express gift of legislative power to the Federal Parliament.
The trade and commerce power, vast though it is, does not appear to extend to production and manufacture - which are not commerce. Commerce only begins where production and manufacture end. See Kidd v. Pearson, 128 U.S., 1,, 20. Moreover, the fact that the trade and commerce power is limited to external and Inter-State trade and commerce indicates that the power which the States undoubtedly possess to undertake Government industries within their own limits is not shared by the Commonwealth under this sub-section. .
Under sub-section (i), (ii), and (iii), taken together (trade and commerce, taxation, and bounties), the authority of the Commonwealth over industrial development is of the largest; but though it allows control, .regulation, and guidance, it in no respect points to direct establishment or management of any industries.
Nor can I find in any other part of the Constitution any express authority for the course suggested.
The implied powers of legislation remain to be determined, but include (under sub-section (39) of section 51) matters “incidental” to the exercise of the express powers.
The manufacture of iron may be incidental to Hie execution of many such powers, e.g., defence, or tlie construction of railways. The Commonwealth might clearly undertake the manufacture of any goods’ for its own use; and probably if it did so, and it were incidentally advantageous to the interests of tlie economical working of the undertaking, that it should also manufacture for other consumers, such manufacture would also come within its implied powers. Except as above, it does not appear that any .power to establish and conduct manufactures can be implied from the Constitution.
– Would the Commonwealth Shipping Line come within that category ?
– No. The Shipping Line is, of course, a commercial, and not a manufacturing undertaking. There is a very big distinction between commerce and manufacture.
– Railways and ships would come under commerce.
– What a nice distinction !
– That is the position under the Constitution, as I understand it. I am not giving merely my own view, but the opinion which Mr. Alfred Deakin gave as far back as 1903, and that is still accepted by constitutional lawyers as a proper and sound interpretation of the Constitution. My friends of the Opposition waxed very eloquent on the subject of the sale of the Geelong Woollen Mills, and threatened, if they came back to power in three years’ time - which they profess, with their tongues in their cheeks, to believe - that they would re-establish these mills at Geelong. If they acquire them for the purpose for which they were originally established, their action will be perfectly in order. If, however, they are determined to venture into the realms of trade and manufacturing, they will not be in order, and will probably be restrained by an injunction taken out at the instigation of somebody in Flinders-, lane, whom they so despise. I am dealing with this subject from a. different angle from that attempted previously during the debate, and, at least, it ‘ will give honorable senators opposite something to think about.
– We shall. alter the Constitution by an appeal to the people.
– The honorable senator knows perfectly well that there have been eleven requests, on three occasions, to the people of Australia to alter the Constitution, and they have refused every time to do so.
– The Commonwealth Woollen Mills could be continued without any breach or evasion of the Constitution as it stands.
– The honorable senator says so, but I say that it could not .be carried on; except for defence purposes, including the making of material and uniforms.
– It is for that purpose that we wish to resurrect the Woollen Mills.
– Accepting my interpretation of the law, the retention of these mills by the Commonwealth -would have been an unsound policy. For Commonwealth purposes, the mills could have been kept - going for only three months of the year; consequently, for the remaining portion of the year . the mills would have been idle. This would have thrown a large number of men out of employment. The sale of the mills will now enable the men to be employed continuously.
– Whose statement is that?
– It is the statement of the manager. Senator Findley stated that £300,000 had been spent by the Commonwealth on the
– Senator Findley stated that the amount was £209,000 odd, which amount would include the separate valuation for stock.
– Senator Findley mentioned definitely a total of £300,000, which caused me to turn up the reports of the previous years; and they show that the total amount spent hy the Commonwealth Treasurer on these mills for buildings, machinery, and plant was approximately £173,000.
– . Buildings and plant valued at £173,000 ten years ago are worth £270,000 to-day.
– That ds largely explained by the fact that machinery is usually written down 10 per cent, per annum, but in the case of these mills the machinery was written down 5 per cent, per annum.
– I am speaking of buildings and land. .
– The land was not purchased.
– I know that it was not, but it has now been given away.
– The book value of £173,000 was written down by amounts varying from 5 per cent, to 12$ per cent., but mostly 5 per cent. The mills were sold for £155,000, although the book value for the buildings, plant, and machinery was £115,000. Can it be said that that was a bad sale? Can it be said that it was a gift to the purchasers, and an evidence of dishonesty on the part of Senator Guthrie? Such an accusation was made by Senator Findley, because Senator Guthrie was associated with the. company that offered a larger price than did. other prospective purchasers. Is this to be accepted as evidence of dishonesty on the part of a member of this Chamber? I venture to say that there is not a more honest man in this Chamber than Senator Guthrie.
I have repeatedly stated to this Chamber that the operations of the
– Especially the Tariff.
– Perhaps the honorable senator is right. I fought the Tariff in this Chamber to the utmost of my ability, but I obtained no sympathy from honorable senators representing the eastern States. The people of Western Australia, who are essentially primary producers, are now suffering from the effect of this legislation, while the people of the eastern States -are reaping a benefit, at the expense of the more distant States, in particular Western Australia. On many occasions I have expressed my opinion of the Navigation Act, and the retort very often has been, “ Of course you are prejudiced.” Recently the Tariff Board visited Western Australia. It cannot be said that that Board has in any way given preferential treatment to Western Australia. Its report, which was laid on the table of the House last week, dealt with the operation of the Navigation Act, and it confirms my opinion of that measure. At page 41 of the typewritten copy of the document, the Board states -
Many bitter complaints have been made to the Tariff Board that the working of the Navigation .Act is acting detrimentally at present to the best interests of Australian industries, both primary and secondary.
It was stressed whilst the Government .professes to do all in its power tq encourage decentralization and the peopling of our distant parts, yet it indorses .the policy of the Navigation Act, which, more .than any other legislation,, discourages the settler on our coasts far removed from industrial centres.
It waa also urged that the oversea merchants are assisted in their trade against our own producers by the fact” that our present method of administering our shipping laws places heavy freights on our own products, whilst oversea goods are carried for much lower freights.
The Board found that this discontent existed in all States, but that the application was more keenly felt in Western Australia and Queensland. Not only is the freight on Australian goods shipped ito these States high, but the heavy freight in return places the producers at a serious disadvantage when endeavouring to compete with imported goods shipped to the other States.
Representations have also been made to the Board in regard to the serious disadvantage imposed on Tasmania by the -restriction in shipping,, upon which she has solely to depend.
Inquiries made by the Board showed that the cost of shipping certain goods from South Australia to Western Australia was greater than the cost of shipping them from Europe to Western Australia. Again, it was . frequently stated to the Board . that the freight on butter from Queenslandto other States was much heavier than from New Zealand to Australia.
The Board ‘has no hesitation in reporting that the present Navigation Act is Working very detrimentally against the best interests of the primary and secondary producers.
That is the deliberate finding of the Tariff Board, and it confirms what I have stated on many occasions in this Chamber. The report continues -
Much of the benefit conceded by the Tariff is lost through the additional cost in freight on Australian goods, and our primary producers and manufacturers will not be able to obtain the full share of the markets they are entitled to until -some other methods can be adopted to provide a service that will not place our shippers at a disadvantage.
– What do they recommend ?
– BROCKMAN. - They do not know how the difficulty can be overcome.
– It is not their job.
– BROCKMAN. - It is not. It is their duty to show the effect on trade and commerce, but it is not their business to suggest a remedy.
– An amending Navigation Bill will be before this Chamber shortly, and some provision f or assistance may be made in it.
– BROCKMAN. - I hope so. The Navigation Act was brought into operation by a very unholy alliance between the shipping companies of Australia and the Seamen’s Union. The whole thing was conceived in dishonour. It has continued to’ operate, and those associated with the industry, either as employers or employees, have been sucking the life-blood out of the distant portions of Australia, and particularly the western State. It costs more to bring a harvester or similar agricultural implement from South Australia to Western Australia than from the United States of America to Western Australia. Why? Simply because- of this iniquitous Act.
– The honorable senator has twice referred to the Navigation Act as an iniquitous measure. I would remind him that it is not in order to reflect upon legislation passed by this Parliament.
– I bow, sir, to your ruling. As a result of an Act passed deliberately by this Parliament, it is to be presumed, Western Australia is in the unfortunate position of having to pay more to bring an. agricultural implement from Victoria to Western Australia than from the United States to Western Australia. In Western Australia, we are all practically primary producers. We have no secondary industries. We have very little to send back to Victoria, and, consequently, derive hardly any benefit from the Act. But we are made to pay “ through the nose “ merely to benefit the shipping companies and the Seamen’s Union. If these special conditions for Australian seamen are necessary, the expense should be borne by the whole of the people and not by any particular section. Victoria is not affected as Tasmania and Western Australia are.’
– Is the honorable senator suggesting that the shipping companies are making excessive profits?
– They are not doing ‘badly, and I am sure the employees are doing quite well. The people of Western Australia are contributing more than their fair share to maintain the special privileges enjoyed by those in the shipping business, whether employers or employees. According to the latest trade returns, up to March last the - imports into Western Australia for the financial year were valued, in round figures, at £9,600,000, and the exports at approximately £7,000,000. Of the imports, £5,300,000 worth came from the eastern States - mostly from Victoria - and of the exports, only £1,000,000 worth went to the eastern States. Owing to the high Tariff, we must import goods from the eastern States. In addition, the Navigation Act enables the Shipping Combine to charge what it likes. Whatever it chooses to charge we have -to pay. That is the position in Western Australia. We are strangled by the Tariff and a wretched Navigation Act. An honorable senator asked whether there was no remedy. I would suggest that we wipe the Navigation Act off the statute-book. If it is necessary to give special privi- leges to these persons, the people in “Western Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania, in particular, should not have to pay; rather should those in New South Wales and Victoria, who get the benefit, be asked to contribute.
Senator Hoare drew a most distressing picture of the slum conditions in Australia. Had the honorable senator been describing certain parts of Europe or of Great Britain, there would have been a certain amount of justification for his statements. He drew a most harrowing picture of the slum areas, in which he said many of the people in the Commonwealth had to live. I am afraid the honorable senator has been culling his information from speeches delivered in other parts of the world, and applying it without much thought or discrimination to the conditions in Australia, in order to excuse the peculiar attitude of his party towards the defence of Australia. He said, in effect, that if such conditions existed in the Commonwealth, Australia was not worth defending.
– I never said anything of the kind.
– The honorable senator denies having made such a statement?
– Mr. President, I did not make the statement attributed to me by the honorable senator, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– If an honorable senator says that he did not make a statement attributed to him his assurance must be accepted. I ask Senator Drake-Brockman to withdraw the remark.
– I am quite. prepared to accept Senator Hoare’s denial. I must have misunderstood him. He will, however, admit that he, in common with other honorable senators associated with him, has abandoned the old defence policy, and is prepared to rely upon the brotherhood of man.
– Who told the honorable senator that?
-BROCKMAN . - Honorable senators opposite are prepared to rely upon the brotherhood of man rather than an adequate defence force for Australia. I have read the speeches delivered by the members of the Labour party, and I have listened most attentively to the utterances of honorable senators opposite during this debate, but I have not heard a word concerning what they propose to do for the defence of Australia. On the contrary, I have heard the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) condemned because he proposes to . attend the forthcoming Imperial Conference.
– We say that there is work for him to do in Australia.
– Senator Gardiner asked’ why the Prime Minister should go to London, and said, “ I know an important Conference is to be held, but there are important Australian questions to be settled here.” There may be important questions to be settled in Australia, but they are all dependent upon the safety of the’ Empire, . which means the safety of Australia. What is to become of our domestic legislation if we do not make provision for our future defence? What would our industrial legislation . be Worth if we could not enforce it? We must be in a position to defend Australia in case of necessity.
– Who defended Australia during the last war ?
– I am not going to be drawn into an argument on that question.
– The people who defended Australia during the last conflict can do so again.’
– The soldiers of the Empire, . including ‘ the Australian soldiers, protected us.
– Men drawn from the ranks of labour.
– Some were, of course.
– And they will do it again if the occasion arises.
– I am not questioning that for a moment.
– The honorable senator is by imputation.
– I know what I am talking about.
– I do not think the honorable senator does.
– Order ! The honorable senator must not persist in interjecting.
– No suggestions have been made by honorable senators opposite for the provision of an adequate defence for Australia. There is no reference to anything of the kind in their . policy. It has not . been mentioned during this debate, and it is not commented upon by the leading members of the Labour party. On the contrary, there are many assertions that we should not have a Defence Force in Australia. Honorable senators opposite would be glad to repeal the Defence Act and dispense with compulsory military training. I am appalled to think that members of the party who were responsible for placing the present Defence Act upon the statute-book are willing to repeal it.
– Wo would do away with compulsory training certainly, but not the defence of Australia.
– Compulsory training is the only means Australia has by which to build, up a defence force.
There are many people who seem to think .that because, there was a conference at Washington last year, there is now no longer any reason to provide a defence force for Australia. It is said that the problem of the Pacific has been settled, and that the necessity of providing for the future protection of Australia no longer exists. We are asked to believe that we need not fear Japanese aggression, and that there is no possibility of aggression from any other Pacific Power. These people lull themselves into a false sense of security, imagining that the treaties arising from the Washington Conference are adequate for our protection. We have determined to have a White Australia. That may seem to be a selfish policy, but I think it is the right one, and the only way to maintain it is to have the power at our disposal to enforce it. Australia has not sufficient strength of her own to do that.
– It is the power behind the law that makes it possible for the law to be enforced.
– Exactly. What would become of the White Australia policy if we had not the rest of the Empire at the back of us 1 If it were not for the support of the rest of the Empire we could not keep Australia white for a single day. It is our duty to confer with Great Britain and the other Dominions, so that there may be adequate defence for the whole of the Empire, including this portion of it. It was stated, immediately after the Washington Conference, that Australia could let its Navy and’ Army go, because the people were safe. But I desire to point out that the Conference and the resultant Treaties do not confer upon us all the benefits that newspapers in the United States of America, at the time, told us they did. We are beginning to digest the results of that Conference, and to understand what the Treaties really mean. At most, they have given us security for the next ten years. But what are ten years in the life of a nation ? What could we do in Australia at the end of ten years, if, in the meantime, we had not provided for the protection of this country? Suppose we had nothing with which to adequately defend ourselves; suppose we had scrapped our own defences, and had no Empire understanding on the subject of defence! Every other nation is a potential enemy. Japan has 393 people to every square mile, and Australia has only 1.68.
– -How many square miles has Japan got?
– Not a great many, but it has over 70,000,000 people, while we have only about 5,500,000. Japan is one of the most densely populated parts of the earth. It. has fewer natural resources than most countries, and it must have more room or its people will be starved out of existence. I do not know whether honorable senators have followed the trend of Japanese thought and propaganda, but recent writings on the subject certainly provide Australia with food for thought. I have an extract from a newspaper published in Japan, and it is typical of a great deal that is being written in that country at present. It does not refer particularly to Australia, but itdoes mention the United States of America. It is from the Tokio Mainichi, and states -
What right have the Americans to exclude the Japanese ?v God gave America to humanity as a whole, not to the Anglo-Saxons alone. It is against the will of God for a particular race to .monopolize a land of America’s natural resources and exclude other races. A land with large resources is under the obligation of supporting a large population, and the inhabitants of a region lacking in. resources have a right to emigrate to other places richly endowed by Nature. The Americans obstruct this natural right of the Japanese. Outrageous! They speak of the -principle of humanity, hut they are against the mandatesof God.
If the Western world attempts to coop them up at home, they will fight, because our people cannot starve.
– The Japanese laws are a contradiction of that.
Senator DRAKEBROCKMAN.Japan tries to exclude foreigners from its shores, but it realizes that its very existence depends on expansion overseas - upon obtaining an outlet somewhere for its surplus population. During the course of the war, the Japanese tried to obtain a stranglehold on China, and they put forward their famous twenty-one points. Had those points been ceded by China. - and they . would have been if the war had gone on much longer, because there was no European power able to say them nay - Japan would have had complete control of China, and for all practical purposes it would have been a Japanese dependency. That is what the Japanese aimed at, while other nations were fighting amongst themselves, and they almost accomplished it. If they had done so, Australia would have been in a position of very great danger. The White Australia policy could not have lasted twentyfour hours, if Japan, controlling China - and practically the resources of Asia - had said, “This thing must end.”
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I was discussing the question of Australian defence, and ‘the opinion that seemed to be coming into existence amongst a certain section of the people of Australia that it is no longer incumbent upon us to make any provision for our own defence, reliance being placed upon the brotherhood of man rather than upon adequate defence forces of our own or of the Empire. I was looking at the matter rather from the Pacific point of view, because it is from the Pacific that any men ace to Australia is most likely to come. I think it was General Smuts who said that the problems of the Pacific for the next fifty years are the problems of the world. I think that he was quite right in that assertion. It is the problems of the Pacific that most particularly affect Australia. No matter what our present relations with any nation are, we must always regard every nation as a potential enemy. It is regrettable that that should he so. It is regrettable that there is not a League of Nations sufficiently powerful to protect all the smaller nations of the world and the rights of undefended places. We have not yet such a League of Nations, and we cannot legislate on the assumption that we have, or that that condition is likely to be brought about. . We have to deal with things as they actually exist. It is not very long since there was a very immediate danger of war occurring between the United States of America and Japan. That difference, happily, has been settled - for the moment, at all events. There is little probability of war occurring between those two nations within the next ten years.
I want to point out very definitely that the Washington Conference and the Treaties that have come out of it have not provided a guarantee of the future protection of Australia ; they have simply given us a breathing space for ten years. As a consequence of that Conference we have wiped battleships out of existence. All other forms of naval defence and naval aggression, however, remain. The effect of having wiped out the battleships is that neither America nor Great Britain can attack Japan at home. Japan has a free hand in the East, and can carry out, without possibility of molestation from America or Great Britain, her designs with regard to China; because under these arrangements we have scuppered practically the whole of our force which was capable of striking at any great distance. . Japan, it is true, did the same thing; but Japan is adjacent to Asia, and there is nothing to prevent her carrying out her militaristic schemes with regard to Asia. If she succeeds in doing so without any check from Great Britain or America, she may become the most powerful nation on earth. Certainly, if she succeeds in establishing a protectorate over China, and appropriating to herself the immense man-power of China, she will become a great menace to the white world.
The tendency is growing up to say that Japan is a Democracy, and to suggest that these contingencies are not likely to happen. In order to understand the position with regard to Japan, one requires to know something of the Constitution of Japan and the development of politics in that country. It is the most powerful country in the Pacific. It is nearer to us than any other, and is the most likely to menace us. Consequently, it is up to us to understand what is going on in that country. May I very shortly describe what is the Constitution of Japan? First of all there is the Mikado, who occupies1 relatively the same position in the community that the Kaiser formerly occupied in Germany.
– He is more powerful than the Kaiser, because he is also the religious head of the country.
– His power is, perhaps, greater than that which was formerly held by the Kaiser, because he is also the head of the religious beliefs and prejudices of the nation, and is regarded as a holy institution by the people.
– In view of the fact that Japan is a member of the League of Nations, does the honorable senator think it wise to dwell on this phase of the question ?
– It is essential, in discussing the question of Australia’s defence to pay due regard to the possibilities.We have to look the facts fairly in the face. A tendency is growing up in Australia to look to the League of Nations) the United States of America, to anybody but ourselves to defend us from aggression.
– Does the honorable senator not think that, in fairness, he ought to say that, had Japan wished to attack Australia, she had the chance in-1918, before the war ended?
-BRO CKM AN. - Unquestionably she had a very great chance in 1918; but she was very busily engaged in. consolidating her strength in the East at that time.
– ‘She acted honorably towards us.
– She was, as Senator Gardiner states, very loyal to her alliance with Great Britain. I am not questioning her honour with regard to these compacts; she honoured them right up to the hilt in spite of the exertion of a good deal of internal pressure to act in a contrary manner. Under the present compact, the proportion of capital ships is five to Great Britain, five to America, and three to Japan. That agreement lasts for ten years only. Apart from the Pacific pact - which is another understanding on which I need not touch very closely - there is nothing at the end of that ten years to prevent Japan terminating the agreement, and going ahead, after having consolidated her position in the East. I am trying to impress upon honorable senators the view that every nation on earth is ‘ a potential enemy, and in considering defence we have to pay regard particularly to the nations which are adjacent to the Pacific.
I was dealing . with the constitution of Japan. . It has a very material bearing on the situation, because there is undoubtedly in. Japan a very strong military party which has opposed very strenuously many of . the limitations to which. Japan has recently agreed. The military party in Japan is almost unassailable in its strength.
Japan has, first of all, the Mikado, who is a very powerful individual. Then there is the House of Peers, and the House of Commons or the Diet. There is no universal suffrage; the suffrage is on a taxpaying basis. On a manhood suffrage basis, there would be about 15,000,000 voters. As a matter of fact, there are only 3,000,000 voters out of a papulation of 70,000,000, so that it will be seen that Japan’s institutions are not very democratic. The Government is appointed directly by the Mikado, not from the Parliament, and is responsible only to the Mikado. There is a great deal of expenditure over which Parliament has no control, including expenditure on the army and navy, the police, and a number of other things. All such expenditure is- entirely controlled by the Mikado and his Government. Not even the Government can control the military expenditure; because, even if the Government brought down a Budget and Parliament rejected it, supplies would not be withheld. According to the law of Japan, if a Budget is thrown out by either the House of Commons or the- House of Peers, the previous year’s Budget obtains. The military party, which, dominates the Upper House, will not have naval and military expenditure interfered with. It has demonstrated that in the past.
It will thus be seen that in effect the people have no control over the army or the navy, and without the consent of the army and navy the Japanese people cannot reduce their expenditure on naval and military preparation, expeditions, and so forth. It is not a Democracy, as we understand the term. If the people could control the situation there might be something in this proposition regarding the brotherhood of man, -which is being preached so constantly in Australia at the present time. We cannot get at the people of Japan. The situation is controlled by a very strong and a very determined military and imperial party, all of whose preachings, writings, and doctrines aim at the extension of Japan’s dominion in order to obtain, worlddominance. It is no good Senator Payne saying that we ought not to discuss these things because Japan is a member of the League of Nations, and consequently we must not antagonize her. I have no antagonistic feeling towards Japan; I do not think anybody in Australia has. But we have always to remember that we are very greatly interested in the Pacific; that our future depends upon our security in the Pacific; and that anything which menaces us in the Pacific menaces our White Australia policy. That policy has defied Japan, and all the coloured people bordering on the Pacific. We need to maintain it, and the only way in which we can do so is to have a sufficient force behind us.
– Has not America an exclusive policy against Australians at the present time ?
– It is not an exclusive policy; it is a system of limited immigration based on the percentage of previous arrivals in America. That is not our policy. The effect of our policy is to exclude all coloured races, although we have not legislated against coloured people as such.
There are others in Australia who preach reliance on America. They say that we have nothing to fear in the Pacific because America is on our side. There is a certain amount of truth in what they say, but the trouble is that we cannot always rely on America. “We have to remember that for fully two years during the recent war America was too proud to fight. The people of that country spent a very busy time in writing and speechifying in order to convince the world that they were too proud to fight, and then they promptly joined in and set about trying to convince the world that they were too proud not to fight.
– President Wilson had a very difficult task.
– That is true, and the reason for it is very apparent. The United States of America is not a nation. It is a heterogeneous people, having no national ideals. Many of its public men have ideals, but there is as yet no national conscience in America. That was the difficulty which faced President Wilson when he was trying to control the situation, and it is likewise the difficulty that confronts every public man in the United States of America, no matter what his ideals may be. America is a collection of people and not really a nation, and that is why it would be dangerous, for Australia to rely on immediate assistance from that quarter. I admit that there is a large and growing sentiment in America in favour of Australia which would insist on its protection in case of necessity, but as the people of that country took two years to create a national feeling when the world was in arms, we certainly could not rely on that sentiment, which is undoubtedly in our favour, to afford us immediate assistance.
At the termination of the war President Wilson’s Fourteen Points made it very difficult to bring about an effective peace. It will be remembered that Marshal Foch demanded honestly and straightforwardly, that France should permanently occupy German territory up to the Rhine, but as that would have been contrary to the Fourteen Points, and also to the British idea of what should be done, an offer was made by the British Government, and by President Wilson speaking- on behalf of America, guaranteeing the security of France against future aggression on the part of Germany. France thereupon withdrew her claim to the permanent occupation of the Rhineland, and on the basis of that guarantee the Treaty of Versailles was negotiated and settled. But as soon as’ President Wilson returned to America and tried to have the Treaty of Versailles ratified by Congress, he met with such opposition that not only was the . Versailles Peace Treaty rejected, but also the Treaty he negotiated with France guaranteeing that country from German aggression, and upon which the Versailles Treaty was really based. As the result of America’s action the guarantee offered to France by Great Britain and America went by the board. The whole of France’s troubles in Europe today have really been brought about because the United States of America is not a nation in the true sense of the word with a Government properly reflecting national ideals and sentiment, and able to speak for and on behalf of a nation.
– The trouble arose very largely from the fact that President Wilson was out of touch with the people of the United States on this question. ‘
-BROCKMAN . - That is true. I have already explained why itwas so difficult for him to be in touch with thepeople whose President he was. I mentioned these matters in order to show now dangerous it is forus to assume that we can rely upon immediate assistance from America; and unless we get immediate assistance in the case of aggression from any quarter in the Pacific it will be of very little use to us. It certainly would be of very little use to us if the people of the United States of America spent two years in talking about being too proud to fight, and then voluntarily came to our rescue.
What are we to rely on ? Help from America, the League of Nations, or the British Empire? I say undoubtedly it is wiser to rely on the “British Empire.
– Would it not be wiser to depend on Australia?
– Australia must make her contribution as part of the Empire to the defence of the Empire, so that if this portion of the Empire is in danger she will have the rest of the Empire behind her. And if any other portion is in danger we, in common with every other part, should stand behind, it.
Senator . Gardiner has deprecated the departure of the Prime Minister to take part in the Defence. Conference to be held in London this year. He thinks that it is imperative that the Prime Minister should remain in Australia to deal with purely Australian problems, instead of going to London to deal with Empire problems.
– Hear, hear !
– No problem is worth worrying about so long as there is a menace to Australia and there is no proper provision for its protection. What is the good of putting our heads under the bed-clothes and dreaming about the development of Australia if we have not made some provision for its protection while that development is progressing ? It is our . first duty to have a proper defence policy for the Empire of Australia, and we should not be too mean in providing the money for that purpose. Australia is the hope of the white peoples of the world. It has the only truly cleanly-bred white population in the world, even including Great Britain, and it is worth the expenditure of some thought and money - if necessary, it is worth fighting for - to maintain it clean and white.
Recently the Government appointed a Board to control the Public Service, and they chose as Chairman of that Board Major-General Sir Brudenell White. It is a most excellent choice. I doubt if a better man could have been got to fill the position ; but there is only one Major-General White in Australia. Many men could be found capable of presiding over the Civil Service Board, but there are no men in Australia capable of taking Major-General White’s place in the Defence Department. In that Department he was receiving a salary of £1,500 a year, a miserable remuneration for such a man holding down such a position. He is to be paid £2,500 a year as Chairman of the Public Service Board. The Government are lucky to get such a man for the position, but it is the quintessence of folly to allow him to leave the Defence Department. Even if wehad to pay him £3,000 or £10,000 a year to keep him there, he would be worth it.
– It shows that the Federal Defence authorities think that there is no foreign menace.
– It does not, and, as Senator Glasgow has just reminded me, Major-General White’s services will still be available for the defence of Australia.
When Senator Needham was speaking of the immigration scheme in force in Western Australia, he gave us some rather alarming information, or what purported to be information, in regard to arrivals and departures in that State.
– My figures were taken from the statistics.
– At any rate, Senator Needham’s deductions from the figures, which were not quite accurate, were wrong. I shall quote thet latest figures I have obtained from the
Statistical Department. The figures for 1922 in regard to Western Australia were -
These figures show a net gain of 2,895 to the State.
– Those were the figures I quoted.
– I have also the figures for the quarter ending 31st March, 1923. They are as follows : -
These figures show a net gain of 841 for the quarter.
– Those are figures that I did not have in my possession.
– BROCKMAN. - These figures, of course, do not take in the natural increase. If I understood Senator Needham correctly, the point he tried to make was that Western Australia was losing either the people who were arriving under the immigration scheme, or those who had previously been settled in the State. He knows that there were 24,000 miners employed in Western Australia ten years ago, and that the number has gradually decreased until at present it does not exceed 6,000.
– I was speaking of a specific period.
– I do not ‘ say that Senator Needham’s figures were materially wrong, but the deductions from his own comments on immigration might easily be misleading. The decrease in the mining population of Western Australia has been taking place during the last ten years. There has been a decrease, not only in the number of miners, but in the number of people who are indirectly employed by the mines, and dependent on them directly or indirectly for their livelihood. [Extension of time granted]. When 24,000 miners were employed in Western Australia, the mines concerned were, in fact, maintaing at least 70,000 people, and probably a great many more, taking into consideration the wives and families of the miners, and the tradespeople who supplied their needs. A number of these people have been absorbed in other occupations in Western Australia. Numbers of them have left Western Australia during the last ten years. I submit that Western Australia has not lost any of the immigrants brought there for the purpose of settling on the land. Senator Needham has supplied figures showing a larger number of departures by rail than arrivals.
– Take my total figures, and quote them correctly.
– The total arrivals were 31,141, and the total departures, 28,246 ; but included in the arrivals are the people who arrived at Fremantle from overseas, and transhipping there, went by the Transcontinental Railway to the eastern States. They are shown as arrivals and also departures, whereas they are really people who travelled through Western Australia.
Recently an offer was made to Queensland by the present Government to place an embargo on the exportation of sugar into Australia for the next two years.
– It should be done.
– My own opinion is, that as soon as possible, and I am not quite sure whether the time has not now arrived, sugar should be placed on the same basis as any other industry, and that a duty, and not an embargo, should be provided. However, for reasons which it is not necessary to discuss at the moment, an embargo for two years has been offered to the Queensland growers, and they have accepted it while clamouring for more, which is very natural. If there is to be an embargo on the importation of sugar, it is necessary that every part of Australia should be on an equal basis with respect to the price of sugar. That brings me back to the Navigation Act, which I discussed before the dinner adjournment. If the. people of Western Australia are not allowed to import sugar on account of the embargo, they must be supplied with sugar at the price paid by the people of Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, or Sydney.
– There are occasions when price fixing is necessary.
– It is wrong to interfere with the ordinary course of trade, as any interference leads to complication. In consequence of this embargo we are not able to import sugar into Western Australia.
– That is where the interference comes in.
– Yes. Western Australia must be placed on the same basis as the rest of Australia, and the agreement should provide that the price of sugar must be uniform in every capital city in Australia. If sugar is to be transported from Cairns to Fremantle, the shipping companies will be able to charge any freight they like. We must have sugar. It cannot be obtained from overseas, and, therefore, must come from Queensland. The shipping companies on the coast of Australia have a monopoly of the trade, and we must pay what they demand f or carriage. For that reason it is essential that the price of sugarshall be the same in all the States.
– That provision was included in the last agreement.
Senator DRAKEBROCKMAN.And it must be included in any agreement. At present, it is not part of the proposed agreement with the people of Queensland.
. -I shall preface my remarks by congratulating honorable senators opposite on the fairness they have shown in attack, and the general spirit of their debate, which is very different from the poison gas attacks delivered in other quarters. The criticisms ofhonorable senators opposite have been in good taste throughout, and, naturally, much more effective than those which hit below the belt. In regard to the Labour party’s criticism of the sale of the Commonwealth woollen mills, I quite understand their point of view, because they believe in the socialization of production, distribution, and exchange. The policy of the party to which I belong is totally different, because it believes that the function of a Government is to govern and not to trade. The question of the sale of the Commonwealth woollen mills was debated bythe last Parliament. It was then decided to sell the mills, and this Government simply indorsed the action of the previous Administration.
– Nearly all the members of the late Government lost their seats in consequence.
– Not at all. The criticism of honorable senators opposite, and their fantastic figures in connexion with the sale of the woollen mills, rather resembled frenzied finance. Some of the assertions as to the value placed on the buildings and machinery were absurd. It is no use making wild statements as to the value of any particular undertaking unless the facts are considered ; and those respecting the Commonwealth woollen mills are very simple indeed. The auditors’ report and official reports show that the construction and equipment of the mills cost £173,000. Naturally, with a business undertaking, a certain amount is written down year by year for depreciation. While I do not say that the buildings have depreciated in value, as they have been kept in good order, yet the machinery has depreciated to a very marked degree. During war time the mills did magnificent work, and three shifts per day were worked in order to turn out vast quantities of material. In consequence, a tremendous strain was placed on the machinery, and it certainly has deteriorated to the extent that it has been written down. On the 30th June, 1922, the official report stated that the value of the mills was £115,000. I do not quarrel with the Opposition view that the mills, as a Government trading concern, should not be disposed of. Honorable senators opposite believe in the principle of Government undertakings, and are therefore entitled to enunciate their views. But there is no justification for the wild assertions made as to the value of the mills. The Government, in eventually disposing of the mills at £155,000, received full value. The mills were purchased in open competition, and the sale was advertised and boomed. If the mills were a bargain at the price, why did not some other organization purchase them? Prospectuses were sent out, and tender forms from far and near applied for and supplied. The mills and plant were inspected by dozens of organizations and prospective buyers. But the prices quoted in the tenders were not as great as the price which the Go- vernment eventually obtained. It must be remembered that the purchasers had to take over the .stocks at market values. They were valued by experts of very high calibre, when prices happened to be at their very highest. I believe that the purchasers will have to pay about £100,000 in cash for the stock, mo3t of which was raw wool. It so happened that, during the week when the valuation was placed on the wool, the price was at the highest point reached for many years. To-day, as the market reports of the world show, wool is not within from 5 to 10 per cent, of the value existing at the time the official valuation was made* The price is a fair one, and apparently business men are of the opinion that it was high enough. The mills are no bargain at the £255,000 paid, including stocks on hand. Since the formation, of the company, shares have been advertised from time to time in newspapers published in Geelong - where the mill is better known than anywhere - for sale at 25 s. But I personally hold written offers from two different shareholders of 1,000 shares each at par, i.e., 20s. each. The returned soldiers did not tender for the mills because - according to the information. I received from a director of their association - after appointing experts to value the buildings and plant,” when they thought of tendering, it was found that it would take £85,000 to balance the mill. If they had acquired the undertaking they would have had to spend ‘that sum on additional machinery and plant to bring it. up to date, and that is what the new company will have to do to make it & profitable concern. The machinery, whilst excellent for ohe purpose for which it was installed, is not at all suitable for a trading concern, as it was designed to produce khaki cloth of a certain width, and not pattern or worsted goods. That class of work cannot be undertaken until a large amount of money is spent on the introduction of new machinery. I am almost afraid to repeat some of the fantastic figures which have been mentioned “by honorable senators opposite, because I. might be accused pf being utterly stupid for even mentioning them.
I am interested in a number of woollen mills in Australia, and I believe that the woollen industry should be one of our most important secondary enterprises. The Stawell Woollen Mills, in which I hold shares, were opened last, week, and are claimed to be the most up to date in Australia. They are modelled on the Federal Mills, and are constructed of brick, with iron roofs and concrete floors, and are equipped with. the most up-to-date machinery. The total cost was £95,800.
– For the same capacity as the mill at Geelong ?
– I think the building is as large, but I do not think that the plant is quite as extensive. According to the- directors’ report, they claim to have the most up-to-date woollen mills in Australia.
– I understand the honorable senator has also visited Mount Gambier.
– Yes, I endeavour to assist in the establishment of woollen mills all over Australia. It is true, as the honorable senator suggests, that I visited Mount Gambier, Millicent, and other places in the south-east of. South Australia, in the interests of the woollen manufacturing industry, and of decentralization. I took the opportunity of explaining the necessity of finding work for the people in the country, instead of forcing the families into the capital cities. If these great secondary industries are established, the wool we produce will not be sent 12,000 miles across the water to be handled by foreigners and then returned here, but will be made up by our own people. We make up only 3 or 4 per cent, of the total quantity of wool we produce, and we import 75 per cent, of our woollen manufactured goods; a position of affairs it is our duty to rectify. I was very pleased to receive a telegram from Mount Gambrier, saying that, largely owing to my efforts there, they had been successful in floating a company, and inviting me- to attend the ceremony of laying the foundation stone.
Senator McHugh made some most extraordinary assertions concerning the prices charged for cloth in Flinders-lane. I have never supported, neither am I likely ito support, Flinders-lane interests, because my political reputation has been made in opposing them. Senator McHugh said that cloth had been sold in Flinders-lane at three guineas a yard.
– In Adelaide.
– Adelaide must be a very wicked place. As a matter of fact, the price of cloth has very little relation to the finished article. Recently experts made certain investigations in an endeavour to encourage the use of a crossbred wool which is selling below the cost of production,” while merino wool is high in price. When one goes carefully into the figures it is found that the original cost of the wool in a suit of clothes or a dress is of little consequence; whether merino or cross-bred wool be used, the difference in the price of the finished article is- infinitesimal. The cost of the wool in garments costing £10 10s. is only a few shillings.
– Tailors charged sixteen guineas or seventeen guineas for a suit, of twill, as they had to pay three guineas a yard for the cloth.
– If they paid that in Adelaide, they were fools and did not know their business.
– They could not purchase cheaper material.
– As a matter of fact, it is all a question of wages and1 rents. At the present time I am providing the material for a suit of clothes for myself, and am being charged £8 15s. The material, which “is really good, cost 9s. a yard, and 3J yards are required1 for the suit. I have always endeavoured to boom the woolmanufacturing industry in and out of Parliament, and one of the principal reasons why I joined the company which has acquired the Geelong woollen mills was to prevent them from being scrapped, because the official report showed that in the hands of the Government they could employ the operators for only a few months of the year. They had lost many of their customers, as the various State Governments had ceased purchasing their requirements from ‘ the Federal Mills. I was approached in my office at Geelong and asked if I would take any shares, and I said that I had not very much money. I was then informed that my name in the wool trade was sufficiently well known to give the venture a good start, and I agreed to take up a couple of thousand shares. I do ‘not regret my action in the least, because I was particularly anxious that the mills should not be scrapped. I think the next highest tender was from the Associated Mills, and, if it had been accepted, the whole undertaking would, in all probability, have been scrapped. What is the position now that the mills have been sold to a company? The mills are to be extended, and £25,000 worth of new machinery is being ordered. I was at the mills the other day, and inspected the extensions in progress. Instead of 400 people being thrown out of work, it is possible that, within two years, 800 people will be employed, under exactly the same conditions and at the same wages that prevailed under Government control. The employees at the mills are delighted to know that the undertaking has been purchased by a powerful company, which will require capital to the amount of probably £300,000 to carry on and make the necessary extensions, and pay £100,000 for the stock.
I regret to have to reply in detail to some of the baseless and poisonous insinuations made in another place. I do not withdraw one . word1 I have ever uttered during recent years concerning the woollen mills, Flinders-lane _and prices charged for cloth. Honorable senators will admit, I am sure, that I have no ulterior motive in becoming associated with this company. I have boomed the mills, in and out of Parliament, and helped to put up the price which the Government ultimately obtained for them. I said, when approached, that sooner than see the mills scrapped, I would assist in the formation of a company to the extent of taking up shares. I shall have to refute some of the extraordinary assertions made, one of which was -
In all the public statements by the Prime Minister, the Minister for Defence, and the supporters of the Government, including a long statement made by Senator Guthrie, who has inside knowledge, not a word was said about this valuation.
I wish to assure honorable senators that at no time have I had any inside knowledge. I have never seen the files, or any correspondence. I simply had access to the printed balance-sheets which were available to everybody, and which were brought to me by the promoters of the company, who said that as there was, let us hope, only a temporary slump in the woollen manufacturing industry, it was not thought that there would be a dividend in the first year, but that, with a revival of trade, it would probably be a 10 per cent, proposition. Another assertion was -
Still another excuse offered was that there was not sufficient Government work to keep the mills fully employed.
– Who said that?
– That statement was made in another place. It is generally admitted that there was not likely to be sufficient work to keep the mills going, and that is why it was necessary to sell them. It was also stated -
The’ Minister who had charge of the sale of this property actually consulted with one of the buyers while the transaction was pendingthe gentleman to whom I refer is Senator Guthrie.
That is absolutely incorrect, as at the time I was not a buyer. The company which eventually secured the mills did not tender on the first occasion, and it was only natural that any one handling the proposition would ask me, as a known expert in the wool trade - although I say it’ myself - whether I considered £130,000 a good offer for the mills. I said that I did not:consider it a full offer, and recommended re-advertising, because I thought a higher price could be obtained.
– That was in the public interests.
– Of course it was. If the Minister had not consulted me, possibly the offer might have been accepted. I assisted the Government in getting another £25,000. This is the most extraordinary and absurd assertion of all-
Senator Guthrie is also associated with Flinderslane interests.
I could almost guarantee that I did not get a single vote from any one in Flinders.lane at the last election, and I did not expect any.
– The honorable senator was one of their most bitter opponents.
– Who made that statement ?
– The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin). Honorable senators, opposite, have been extremely fair, and I appreciate the attitude they have adopted during the debate. It was further stated that the company with which I am associated competed against the returned soldiers. As a matter of fact, that is not so. I was careful, when the promoter approached me, to send for an official of the returned soldiers’ organization, and I remarked1 to him, “ Are you fellows going to tender? If you are, I will not touch it.” His reply was, “ We have no intention to tender for the mills. Eire ahead, and take the shares; otherwise these mills may be scrapped. You will be in no way competing against us.” I took down his very words in my office at the time. He then informed me that the reason why the soldiers did not intend to compete was that it would take too much money to “ balance “ the mills, meaning to make them suitable for turning out worsteds. The Geelong press, which is very keenly interested in the mills, published the following in a leading article on the 26th November, 1922:-
As regards the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia, whose name has been so freely introduced, it will be sufficient to reprint the following letter, which appeared in ou,r columns of the 22nd November last: - “ Sir, - I would be pleased if you would kindly correct a statement made in your paper of a recent issue in a paragraph headed ‘ Sale of Federal Mills,’ .which stated, inter alia, ‘it is definitely known .that the tender of the lieturned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League has been rejected by the Government.’ I desire to .state that no tender for the purchase of the Commonwealth woollen mills has ever been submitted by the above-mentioned organization. Certain negotiations had been entered into with the Government with a view to submitting a .tender, but as those negotiations were not successful, no attempt was made to submit a tender for the purchase of the mills. - Yours, &c., F. E. Forrest, General Secretary.”
The assertion that the Government “ sold the mills to a company in competition with returned soldiers” is, therefore, incorrect.
– But the honorable senator’s company will compete against the returned soldiers’ mill.
– I suppose that every mill in Australia will, but I hope that, instead of having thirty or forty woollen mills in the Commonwealth, we shall eventually have 100.
– The statement quoted by the honorable senator did not mean a competitor in the trade, but a competitor in regard to the purchase of the mills.
-Of course it did. It was contemptible for anybody to insinuate that there was collusion in the valuation of the stocks. The Government very wisely sought the advice of Sir John Higgins, the ablest man in regard to wool matters that I have ever known. They asked him who would be the best man to value the stock, and he selected the gentleman who was chosen by the wool-buyers of Australia as the most capable man to be the senior appraiser of wool throughout the whole of the Imperial purchase scheme. I refer to Mr. George Kettlewell. It has been stated in some quarters that Mr. Harry Denison should have been chosen, and it has also been insinuated that Mr. Kettlewell was selected because he was a friend of mine. It so happens that Mr. Kettlewell is on one board of which I am a member. I suppose he is on dozens of boards, andI am on a good many, too; but Mr. Denison, who is the wool-valuer for the Australian Mercantile Land and Finance Company, is one of my closest friends -in the wool trade. He is a very much more intimate, and an older, friend of mine than Mr. Kettlewell, so that the allegations are wholly absurd. Although Mr. Denison is an admirable man at valuing, neither he nor I could value manufactured or partlymanufactured stock as capably as Mr. Kettlewell since the latter gentleman has been associated with the manufacturing industry for thirty or forty years, and was the senior wool appraiser under the Imperial Government Purchase Scheme. He was considered, and I think wisely so, to be the best possible man to act for the vendors. It was absurd to make an attack, as was done, withpoisonous gas of such doubtful origin.
– I regard it as a fair and outspoken attack.
– I look upon it as hitting below the belt.
– The honorable senator’s speech will read better as time goes on if he takes care not to hit below the belt. I think Mr. Scullin’s attack was an excellent one.
– I feel sure that the people of Australia think otherwise. I believe that the Government said to Mr. Kettlewell, “ Get whatever assistance you like; secure the best assistance irrespective of fees.” Mr. Kettlewell picked the gentleman who happened to have been with the Commonwealth Mills, and who went presumably at a higher salary to another mill. This was Mr. Hudspeth, whom I do not think I had ever met; but I believe he is a man of high technical attainments. It was insinuated that Messrs. Kettlewell, Hudspeth, and others, because they knew me, and because I was a shareholder in the company that was the successful tenderer - and the smallest shareholder, by the way- would actually value the stock down, although they were connected with an opposition mill. If they had not been the honorable men that they unquestionablyare - men whose honour and integrity cannot be impugned in any way - the tendency would have been in theopposite direction, in order that the Geelong Mill should not be given a flying start, with cheap stocks, in competition with another mill in which the valuers were interested. Again, it has been said, that I was one of the purchasing syndicate, and, if the truth were known, organized it. Of course that is absolutely untrue. I was asked to give the proposed company a lift by putting my name down for some shares in an industry in which I was known to be somewhat of an expert, and in the development of which I was very much interested. It was common knowledge that I had shares in many woollen mills. After all, my holding of 2,000 out of 160,000 shares is inconsiderable.
– The honorablesenator’s time has expired.
– May I move that an extension of time be granted ?
– No extension is permissible under the Standing Orders.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
That the Address-in-Reply be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General by the President and such Senators as may desire to accompany him.
Bill received from House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Wilson) read a first time.
.- I move -
I’ll at a Select Committee be appointed, with power to send for persons, papers, and records, to inquire into and report upon the discharge from the Military Forces of Warrant Officer J. R. Allen of the Instructional Staff, and the refusal of compensation and removal allowance to this Warrant Officer; and that such Committee consist of Senators Benny, Duncan, Sir T. W. Glasgow, McDougall, Ogden, Thompson, and the mover.
This is a matter of importance. Parliament is vitally interested in the efficiency of our Defence Force, and -we have to remember that a member of the force is not at liberty to withdraw from it when he chooses, if he feels that he has been unjustly treated. It is therefore essential that Parliament should be ready to take up any matter in which an injustice appears to have been done.
– Brockman. - This man could surely have withdrawn at any time ?
– That may be so in this particular case, although the Warrant Officer had enlisted for three years, and could only claim his discharge upon paying a. penalty. He was certainly discharged. The general principle I am advocating for the moment is, however,, of general application to compulsory trainees as well as volunteers, that is, that we should exercise the most strict supervision where an injustice had apparently been inflicted. I wish to state the case as briefly as I possibly can. Warrant Officer Allen is one of those who were engaged some years ago by General Stanley. At that time he . was the Regimental Sergeant-Major of one of the smartest Cavalry ‘Corps in the British Army, one of the Hussar Regiments in India. A man. does not acquire that rank in the British Army unless he has some striking quality. He came to Australia and continued to serve until the 13th April, 1922. On that date the Brigade-Major of the 3rd Cavalry Brigade, who was the senior officer at the time, sent out a circular asking, in regard to the 13th Light Horse, that a list of Warrant Officers of the Instructional Corps, who did not serve in the war, should be furnished to him, and he stated that the members who were concerned should furnish a statement that would reach the office not later than the 20th April. This circular was sent to, amongst others, Warrant Officer Allen, and on the 19th April he submitted his statement in accordance with the request. He showed that he had volunteered for active service on numerous occasions, and had repeatedly been refused because he was an efficient instructor of Light Horse.
– What is his age?
– He was fortyeight when discharged.
– Is he drawing a pension from the Imperial Government?
– Yes, after twentyone years’ service without a blemish.
On the 21st April, two days later, Warrant Officer Allen received an intimation dated 18th April, a day before his statement was sent in, that the Divisional Commander had approved of his discharge - his services being no longer1 required - to date from 10th May, 1922. It was stated, “ In view of the urgentneed for economy the allotment of instructors for the 13th Light Horse is now reduced to two.”
I remind honorable senators that at this time there was a great agitation for a reduction in the strength of the Force, and, very shortly afterwards, an Act was passed which provided for the payment of compensation at the rate of, I think, one . month’s pay for each year of service.
No charge of any kind was made against Warrant Officer Allen, and no reason was given for the action taken. The simple statement was made that his services were no longer required, and the intimation regarding the reduction of instructors to two, shows that his discharge was due really to the policy of economy.
On the 25th April Warrant Officer Allen’ asked the Commanding Officer, and gave strong reasons in support of his request, that he should be allowed to remain on the strength until the Act came into force. The Commanding Officer’s reply, Allen informs me, was in favour of his remaining until 30th June.
The Brigade- Major, in a reply bearing three dates - 28th April, 29th April, and 3rd May- –stated that Warrant Officer Allen’s application, dated 25th April, had been considered, but he directed that his discharge should operate from 10th May as previously instructed. Again no charge or reason to his disadvantage was given. .
When the Act was passed provision was made that men who were discharged during the interval between January and June. - when the Act came into force - could be considered for compensation just as though they had gone on for the full period; so it was not a case of being ruled out bv being outside the- limit of time allowed in the Act.
– Brockman. - Were there any adverse reports in regard to this warrant officer?
– When the matter was pressed they did dig up an adverse report. Accordingly, Warrant Officer Allen was discharged from 10th May. A certificate of character was issued to him, which stated that “ his conduct and character while serving with Australian Instructional Corps has been, according to the records, very good.” On 31st May, Warrant Officer Allen went to Mr. Wise, then a Minister and the member for his district. Mr. Wise investigated the matter as far as he could, and was so impressed with it that he submitted the case to the Assistant Minister for Defence, who replied on 5th July, that Warrant Officer Allen was discharged because his services were no longer required, and he was not, therefore, entitled to be considered for any compensation. On 7th July, two days after the Assistant Minister replied to Mr. Wise, the Secretary for Defence replied direct to Warrant Officer Allen and said, “It is regretted that compensation cannot be paid to you as your discharge was effected before the present scheme became operative “ - although the Act clearly provided- that they could go back in proper cases to 1st January. In view of the fact that provision was made in the Defence Retirement Bill for the payment of- compensation to some officers who had retired prior to 30th June, Mr. Wise again submitted the case. Then they began to dig up adverse reports.. They said that Allen’s discharge was nott due .to retrenchment or to reduction in establishment, but was effected in consequence of failure to carry out instructions and unsatisfactory performance of duties, and that the Defence Retirement Act did not permit payment of compensation in such cases. That was the first occasion on which anything of that nature had been raised. It was in direct conflict with the previous letter, which stated that the discharge was made in view of the urgent need of economy, the allotment of instructors being reduced to two.
– Did. they give any information as to when these breaches of duty had occurred ?
– None whatever. It was only when I went through the files that I was able to ascertain what it was all about. I have seen Allen, and he has given me what, prima” facie, is a very good explanation in regard to the slight irregularity of which he was accused.
There is another phase of this matter which might almost be considered to be Gilbertian comic opera. There is a regulation which sets out that when noncommissioned officers are transferred from one station to another, an allowance will be made to cover the cost of the removal of their furniture. There is a proviso that if the officer chooses to sell bis furniture he may do so, the amount which otherwise would be paid for removal being advanced to him on production of documentary evidence that he had bought the goods in the first place, and subsequently sold them. This regulation reads -
That is quite a reasonable thing. On being transferred from Warragul to Sale, Allen applied for the benefit of that regulation. They told him to obtain from the auctioneer a list of the goods sold, with all the prices marked. He got it and put it on the file. They then said to him, “ You have now to show us that you purchased these goods. Send us the vouchers.” This non-commissioned officer had been ten years in the Service. He married when he first came out ten years ago, or more, and most of his furniture was bought then. With the greatest of good fortune, he was able, however, to dig out some vouchers from his boxes and produce them. The sale slip showed that he had sold £196 ls. 3d., worth of furniture, but he could find purchase receipts for only £152 3s. 6d. worth of those articles. He has informed me that he subsequently found a few additional receipts, and was able to reduce the difference. He made an affidavit that he could not find the remainder of the receipts. This is the reply he got -
Claim by J.R. Allen for £14 14s. is returned herewith, disallowed.
In the case under review documentary evidence is submitted as to the purchase of goods to the value of £152 3s. 6d., as against £196 1s. 3d. received for the sale.
If cases like this are allowed to go “ by the board,” without any inquiry or assistance being given by Parliament when the men have exhausted their full right of appeal, our Defence Force - to which we have owed so much in the past and from which we hope for so much in the future - will absolutely stink in the nostrils of those who have to serve in it. I ask honorable senators to realize the seriousness of the position. It might be argued that if we were to take action we might undermine discipline. That argument has no effect on me. If there is a genuine charge of incompetence, surely it can be demonstrated; but we must give a man a hearing. We are the guardians of the rights and liberties of these men, and when aprima facie case is presented we must exert our authority and control over the permanent officials, who, although good in many ways, are not to uphold each other right along the line. I leave the matter in the hands of honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilson) adjourned.
.- I move-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is of a machinery character. It does not involve any important principle, although provision is made in it for the extension of a principle. Its object is to adopt the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act 1922, to constitute trafficking in naturalization certificates an offence against the Act, and also to make it an offence for any person to be unlawfully in possession of a naturalization certificate issued in the name of another person. The British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act was passed by the British
Government in order to meet the wishes of British communities in foreign countries, such as the South American Republics, Japan, Portugal, Tunis,&c., who during and subsequent to the war evinced a very marked desire to assert and maintain their British character through successive generations, and madeconstant representations to the British Government to that end. Prior to the passing of the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act 1914, children of the first and second generations born abroad of British fathers were British subjects, but children of the third generation were not. In accordance with the provisions of the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act passed in 1914, only children of the first generation born abroad of British fathers were recognised as British subjects. Children of the second generation were notso regarded. The British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act passed in 1922 restored the privilege of British nationality to children of the second generation, and also extended it to children of later generations. But this grant of British nationality was made subject to the following conditions : -
One of the objects of this Bill is to put our Australian naturalization law on the same footing as the British law now is in this respect. The war showed that in every part of the world there were British communities in whom the war, with all its far-reaching consequences, aroused the latent desire to re-assert and maintain their British nationality. The mere accident of place of birth had, as it were, lost to them what would have otherwise been their birthright; nevertheless, they retained that sentiment which really made them British, . although they were born in foreign countries. It seems to me that it is desirable that we should also in our naturalization law give these people of British parentage and sentiment, although born in foreign countries, the right to maintain their British nationality.
There is no provision in the Commonwealth Acts constituting trafficking in certificates of naturalization an offence. Consequently, no penalties can be inflicted against offenders in this respect. The Home and Territories Department has discovered cases in which this trafficking has taken place.
– By what class of people ?
– By white aliens. It is a fraudulent practice, and is clearly an evasion of the principle laid down in our naturalization law, under which certain conditions have to be complied with. One of these is the residential qualifica- tion ; another is a certificate of character, showing fitness to take upon oneself the rights of British citizenship. If trafficking in these certificates is permitted we shall have no guarantee that these conditions have been complied with Obviously, therefore, fraudulent trafficking of this kind should be prevented and made liable to punishment. The Bill makes the necessary provision for this. As honorable members can see, the two principles embodied in this measure are not of vital importance.
Debate (on motion by Senator Gardiner) adjourned.
– I move-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This is not only a very important but also a very significant Bill, since it indicates to the world a determined and organized attempt to liquidate within a given time the war debt that has been placed upon the shoulders of the people of Australia.
On the 31st March, 1923, the totalCommonwealth national debt was £412,000,000, including £364,000,000 for war debt, and £48,000,000 for Commonwealth works, loans to States, and value of transferred property. Of this indebtedness £127,000,000 was redeemable in London, and £285,000,000 in Australia. These figures are very significant. It is gratifying to know that when we had to raise this tremendous amount of money we were able to secure no less than £285,000,000 in Australia. It is also gratifying to know that the interest on that part of the debt is payable in the Commonwealth, because that means that it. is not such a source of financial weaknessto us as it would otherwise be. Certainly, revenue has to be raised by taxation in order to pay the interest on the amount of debt raised locally, but the interest itself does not leave the country. It will be seen from the figures that I have quoted that the national debt is almost entirely a war debt. It is clear that such a large sum as £412,000,000 cannot be paid off by 5,500,000 people within a short period, and that the proper way to redeem it is to establish a sinking fund and so reduce it gradually over a series of years. A sinking fund is a desirable thing in itself, but if it is properly established it will confer incalculable benefit on Australia by stabilizing its financial position and establishing, in the money markets of the world, confidence in Australia. The fact that Western Australia has the best sinking fund provision of any State of the Commonwealth has been of tremendous benefit to its credit when it has found it necessary to approach the money markets of the world.
Before the war the Commonwealth public debt was insignificant, and although there were some provisions in relation to sinking funds, there is no need to refer to them. In 1918 the Commonwealth Parliament passed the Loans Sinking Fund Act, which simplified the previous provisions, and was the first effort towards reducing the war, debt of Australia. The rate of sinking fund was to be not less than 10s. per annum for every £100 of debt. The moneys provided by this Act were left in the hands of the Treasurer with a direction that he should use them for the discharge of the public debt and for no other purpose whatever.
The following figures are of particular interest: - .
The balance of £2,270,000 is held in the following way: -
Accurate figures are not yet available, but for all practical purposes the amounts I have indicated may be taken as accurate.
The securities, amounting to £9,670,00.0, redeemed out of the old sinking fund, were cancelled, and the result is that the debt upon -which the £ per cent, for sinking fund is calculated being less, the amount of future contributions to the sinking fund are reduced in similar proportion. Furthermore, the interest on the redeemed debt is saved to the Consolidated Revenue, and does not go towards the redemption of debt. That is to say, the sinking fund, as previously existing, did not get the benefit of accumulations at compound interest. .The old arrangement really means that the contributions to sinking fund get less and less, and the period of redemption according to that plan would occupy an indefinite time. After the lapse of 100 years, there would still remain 60 per cent, of the original debt unredeemed. If the annual payment under the old scheme were increased to 1 per cent., there would still be 36 per cent, of the “debt unredeemed after the lapse of 100 years. We say that if we are to have a sinking fund, and really mean business, the fund should be put on a more satisfactory basis.
The next weakness is that the old arrangement was under the control of . the1 Treasury, and the fund could have been used for purposes which strictly are . not those of a sinking fund. For example, the Treasurer actually has used sinking fund moneys in order to provide for loan expenditure on new works, and for other loan expenditure, thus obviating the necessity to approach the public for a new loan. The £968,000 already referred to shows the extent ito which this has been done. Another fault is that the existing law enables the Treasurer to invest the sinking fund in any of the securities of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, or any State. He is not restricted in this, and thus might invest the moneys in long-dated securities, so that the money would not be available for the redemption of any Commonwealth loan at its maturity.
At first sight, it might seem that it would not matter if money were invested in, for example, a State security, because that security could be sold when money was required. It is well known, however, .that any person, who has large investments in State securities, cannot, without an undue disturbance of the market, place all those securities on that market at the one time, and realize on them, because it would mean the depreciation of the stock. It is not practicable, therefore, under such circumstances, to sell large parcels of stock on the market. Having in view all these weaknesses, the Government decided to submit for the consideration of Parliament the Bill now before us, which repeals the existing sinking fund laws, and establishes a commission to control the sinking funds. Contributions to the sinking fund are to be made on a basis to provide for the redemption of the existing debt in about fifty years. During the fifty-year period, similar contributions are .to be made in respect of new debts created after this date. The sinking funds are to he used for redeeming the Commonwealth debt, but, pending redemption, funds may be invested in defined securities.
The National Debt Commission proposed under this Bill will consist of the Treasurer of the Commonwealth as Chairman, the Chief Justice of the High Court, the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, the Secretary to the Treasury, and the Solicitor-General. The sinking funds in Great Britain are under the control of the National Debt Commissioners, and it is interesting to note the personnel. The
Commissioners consist of the Speaker of the House of Commons; the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose duties are similar to the Treasurer here; theMaster of theRolls; the Lord Chief Justice, who compares with the Chief Justice of the High. Court here ; the Paymaster-General, who compares with the Secretary to the Treasury; the Governor of the Bank of England, who compares with the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank; and the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England. In New South Wales the Debt Commissioners are - the Chief Justice, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the Treasurer, and the Under-Secretary for Finance and Trade. There is also a Debt Commission in South Africa, consisting of the Minister of Finance, a member of the Railway Board, and one other member appointed by the GovernorGeneral in Council. The proposed National Debt Commission stands on a parity with that of Britain, and it should command respect, seeing that it is to be composed of men whose probity cannot be questioned, and whose experience warrants their being trusted with the. important duties which are involved. The Commission will command respect and confidence, and should enhance the value of our securities accordingly.
– What have the Debt Commissioners in New South Wales to administer?
– I am afraid that they have not very much to administer.
– Would that not be due to the inclusion of the Treasurer?
– It may be so. Great Britain has a very fine and effective sinking fund, and there the Chancellor of the Exchequer is a member of the Debt Commission.
– They are not very progressive in England.
– Did the honorable senator say “ aggressive “ ?
– I will accept the substitution.
– The Bill provides that during a period of fifty years a sum of £1,250,000 shall be paid annually out of the Consolidated Revenue into the National Debt Sinking Fund in respect of the present debt. This sum of £1,250,000 has been calculated in the following way : - The total national debt, as already stated, is £412,000,000, and if the amount of debt in respect of which no contribution is to be made to the sinking fund under this Bill is deducted, viz., £161,000,000, it leaves a balance of debt of £251,000,000. A sum of 10s for each £100 in the £251,000,000 amounts to £1,255,000, or, roughly, £1,250,000. The proposed payment of 10s. is based upon the reduced sum of £251,000,000, because there are special arrangements for treating the amount not subject to the contribution of 10s. The funding arrangement with the British Government provides for a special’ sinking fund of slightly more than 1 per cent. per annum on the amount originally due to the British Government in respect of payments made by the British Government” on behalf of Australia during the war.
The sinking fund will extinguish the debt in the year 1956. Adding together the sum of £251,000,000 in respect of which the sinking fund of 10s. is provided by this Bill, and £90,388,604 provided for in the funding arrangement with Great Britain, we find that the total is £341,388,604. Deducting the total of £341,000,000 from the total of the national debt of £412,000,000, there remains a sum of £71,000,000. This sumrepresents moneys lent to the States for public works and for soldier land settlement, moneys expended on War Service Homes, other advances which are repayable to the Commonwealth in cash, and the balance of loan moneys in hand. Obviously, it is not necessary to provide a sinking fund in connexion with these portions of the national debt, and the Bill provides merely that, on the repayment of the moneys to the Commonwealth, they shall be credited to the National Debt Sinking Fund.
– Does the Minister think that the money will be repaid to the Government ?
– We are receiving repayments already for War Service Homes.
– What is the object in including the Chief Justice of the High Court in the National Debt Commission ?
– It is a guarantee to the public that there is one man on the Commission who is outside the control of the Executive.
If the securities purchased out of the funds belonging to the National
Debt Sinking Fund were allowed to accumulate, a vast amount of securities would exist, and their existence would give a wrong impression, because, while the balance-sheet would show a vast sum in hand, that sum would really be valueless from a practical point of view. The Bill, therefore, provides that securities repurchased or redeemed shall be immediately cancelled. In order that the sinking fund, may have the .benefit of compound interest, it is intended that in each of the fifty years referred to, a sum of 5 per cent, per annum on the amount of the cancelled debt shall be paid into the sinking fund. This will not cast any burden upon the revenue, because the 5 per cent, will be paid to the sinking fund in lieu of the amount previously paid to the owner of the bonds. In respect of future debts, a sum of 10s. for each £100 is to be paid annually into the National Debt Sinking Fund. Provision is made here only up to the end of the 50-year period already referred to, and will not be sufficient to wholly redeem the new debt. The Government think, however, that they would not be wise now to pass legislation covering what might happen after the lapse of fifty years from this time.
Provision is made for half the net profits of the Commonwealth Bank after the 1st July, 1923, to be paid to the National Debt Sinking Fund. Up to the present the profits of the Bank have been divided equally between the Bank reserve fund and the redemption fund. The redemption’ fund may be used in repayment of any money advanced to the Bank by the Treasurer, or in redemption of debentures or stock issued by the Bank, or for redeeming Commonwealth debts .or State debts taken over by the Commonwealth. None of the profits of the Bank have yet been applied towards redeeming Commonwealth debts or State debts taken over by the Commonwealth, and as the Bank has not issued debentures or stock, and has no advances from the Treasurer, half of the profits of the Bank to date have remained’ in the redemption fund. The balance of the redemption fund at the 31st December, 1922, was £2,099,483, of which £98,653 represented half the profits for the half-year ended 31st December, 1922.
Repayments of purchase money and advances made under the War Service Homes Act are now credited to a trust fund, and the Treasurer may direct that those moneys shall be credited to the Loans Sinking Fund. The Bill provides that these moneys shall be paid to the National Debt Sinking Fund, and the Treasurer therefore will have no discretion as to the method of dealing with these repayments. The prospectus of each new loan is to contain a provision that, in respect of the loan referred to in the prospectus, sinking fund contributions will be paid in accordance with this Bill. The existing sinking funds will be merged in the National Debt Sinking Fund. Moneys standing at the credit of existing funds will be transferred to the new fund. Investment of the old funds will become investments of the new fund. These balances total £2,270,000, and arc represented by investments to the amount of £1,688,000 and cash in the public account, £582,000.
The Treasurer is now under an obligation to accept at par certain Commonwealth stock and bonds in payment of probate and succession duty, and the Treasurer has also’ undertaken to redeem, before date of maturity, certain stock owned by the Public Trustee. The Sinking Fund Commissioners will, in future, accept securities tendered for probate purposes, or by the Public Trustee. British or State Government securities are not to be purchased, except within three years of tlie date of their maturity. This restriction is necessary, so that funds intended for redemption of Commonwealth debt, shall not be tied up in longdated British or State Government securities, which could not be realized at a time when cash is required for redemption purposes. The Commission may also place the sinking fund moneys on deposit in any bank, and will furnish to the Treasurer, for presentation to Parliament, an annual report of the operations relating to the National Debt Sinking Fund.
Honorable senators will agree that a sinking fund based on such legislation is sound, and that its objects are good and will commend themselves to those who wish to see this unproductive debt wiped off at the earliest possible moment. If Australia is to progress, it will be necessary to borrow money again and again, and I hope that future borrowings will be for productive purposes, and will earn interest, at any rate, on the moneys expended. The sooner a more orderly system is organized to abolish this unproductive debt, the better for the future development and financial position of Australia. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
– Will the Minister explain why moneys in connexion with the Northern Territory Sinking Fund and the Port Augusta Railway Sinking Fund are included ? They are not war debts.
– We do not want scattered sinking funds. A sinking fund is established in connexion with the Northern Territory debt under the control of the Commonwealth, but it is better to place all these small sinking funds in the one fund.
Debate (on motion by Senator Gardiner) adjourned.
.- I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is a machinery measure framed with the object of closing up the gaps revealed in the immigration legislation now on our statute-book for the enforcement of the White Australia policy and for safeguarding the Commonwealth in respect to the class of people who are to be admitted here in the future. Our immigration restriction law at present is to provide for the maintenance of the White Australia policy, and also to effectually keep from Australia persons who, by reasons of disease, criminal records, and so on, are likely to become a burden or be a menace to the community. The existing Act has been in operation for a long time, and it is only natural that from time to time weaknesses shouldbe disclosed in its machinery. We have heard of Bret Hart’s lines -
Thatfor ways that are dark
And for tricks that are vain,
The heathen Chinee is peculiar.
I use those words merely as an illustration of the care that has to be exercised in connexion with our immigration laws, and not as suggesting that the Chinese should be specially mentioned, because undesirable white people have also found loopholes in our existing legislation. With the disturbed conditions of the world, other countries have found it desirable and necessary to tighten up their immigration laws. After the gigantic convulsion that we have just experienced, the froth and scum of the world’s population has come to the surface, and has the unhappy habit of finding its way to countries where it is notwanted. Every civilized country has within the last few years strengthened its immigration machinery, and we have found, as the result of experience, that it is necessary to do so here.
In connexion with the administration of the existing law it is frequently found that there is difficulty in securing convictions against Asiatics or other persons who obviously have illicitly entered the Commonwealth. This measure is founded on experience, and provides for overcoming the methods by which our laws are defeated, as well as improving its administration. It is aimed very largely at Asiatic immigration, which is the main principle in the parent Act. The Bill also provides for a simpler method of arranging for the deportation of persons who within three years of arrival have become burdens upon our asylums or public charitable institutions, or who have been convicted of crime punishable by imprisonment for one year or longer. The provisions of the Act, generally, are discretionary in form, and whilst the aim of the Government, and, in fact, of all parties, is to strictly administer the White Australia policy, that legislation can be administered in such a way as not to give offenceto Asiatics.
A perusal of the Bill will show that there are no amendments to which an Asiatic can take exception, other than, of course, the main exception to the general principle of our Immigration Act. It is not intended’ in future to administer our immigration laws so as to give any offence, and I think we can say that as the result of experience in recent years, particularly with respect to the class of Asiatics who are temporarily entering the Commonwealth, the arrangement entered into between the countries concerned and Australia is working satisfactorily to all parties.
– Will the provisions of this measure be prejudicial to the success of the pearling industry of Western Australia?
– No. That matter is dealt with in the principal Act, and the provisions relating to it are not amended by this Bill. The Act relates to persons suffering from disease or mental or physical defect, which, from its nature, is in the opinion of an officer liable to render the person a public charge. The proposed amendment widens the scope of this provision to include paupers and others likely to become a charge on the public. Other countries, such as South Africa and Canada, have a similar provision. Honorable senators will recall that some time ago a number of Italians were brought to Australia - they said under false pretences - by somebody; but it was never discovered by whom. They were landed here absolutely penniless, and had been, I think, wickedly duped by some one. Under the existing Act, we had no power to stop them entering the Commonwealth. We could have applied the dictation test, but that would have been unjust.
– They did not want to remain here, and left as quickly as they could.
– The shipping company wanted to land them, although it was not desirable that they should remain. We require the power in future, to, prevent paupers from landing.
We are also including in this Bill certain amendments in regard to passport laws, the object of which is to provide that foreign passports shall bear a British vise. It is already customary for such passports to bear the British vise, but it is desirable that it should be a legal requirement, bo that an officer may refuse to accept an alien passport if not properly vised, except, of course, in cases where the vise has been dispensed with by a reciprocal arrangement with the G overnment of the country ofissue. The necessity for a vise is a great safeguard against the migration of undesirable aliens to Australia. If we dispensed with the British vise, the opportunity might be taken in some countries of getting rid of an undesirable criminal, and Australia might become the dumpingground of the criminals of other countries. There is also an amendment in respect to the crews of ships. Under the principal Act crews are exempt during a vessel’s stay in port, but under the proposed amendment the exemption will cease to apply to men who desert their vessels, or who are absent without leave.
A gap was left in our legislation - it was a rather peculiar omission - in relation to our White Australia policy. If an Asiatic illicitly entered the Commonwealth and remained out of sight for a certain time, but was subsequently discovered, the dictation test could not be applied to him. Such a person had only to keep in hiding for a certain time -which, of course, I need not indicateand he would become a permanent resident of the Commonwealth. As that is obviously undesirable, we propose to correct the omission.
– Do the Government intend imposing a poll tax on Americans coming into Australia, as is imposed upon Australians going to that country ?
– Nothing of the kind is intended. There are provisions in the law under which a person who is to be deported has the right to appear before a Board of Inquiry. We propose to leave that as it is in regard to certain classes, but in others that right will be token away. Any person who has been convicted in Australia and served a term of imprisonment for one year or longer, or who has been living on the prostitution of others, or has become an inmate of an asylum or charitable institution, will not have the right to appear before such a Board. It is also provided that a person entering the Commonwealth may be required to submit a statement containing certain particulars. When I visited Canada and the United States of America, I found a similar provision in operation there. One is called upon there to give certain information, and to satisfy the officer administering the law that he is in possession of a certain sum of money. Obviously, that is to prevent the introduction of paupers, and also to obtain some evidence upon which a person couldbe traced if he should have entered the country by means of false representations. I have outlined the main provisions of the Bill. Honorable senators will see that it is largely a machinery measure, and one that can be more effectively dealt with in Committee.
Debate (on motion by Senator Gardiner) adjourned.
wireless Aerials : Destruction of Homing Pigeons.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I do not wish to detain the Senate at this hour; but I submitted several questions last week or the week before in which I asked what the Government intended doing to prevent valuable homing pigeons being destroyed by coming in contact with wireless aerials. The homing pigeon clubs throughout Australia have represented to the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Gibson) that the erection of wireless apparatus all over Australia means that there will be considerable mortality among valuable birds.
– In what way!
– They come in contact withthe wires, which are practically invisible. Quite a number of birds are killed by flying into ordinary telegraph and telephone wires, but those interested say that they cannot expect the Government to assist them in that respect. A great many people are likely to erect wireless apparatus in the near future, and if corks were placed along the wires, a couple of feet apart, it would probably result in’ saving the livesof many valuable birds. I regret that Senator E. D. Millen is not present, because he is an authority on the value of homing pigeons.
– Would that method actually protect the birds?
– I understand that it would. If it would afford any relief to people who have spent a considerable sum of money on this useful pastime, some such action should be taken. One gentleman has imported a pair of pigeons at a cost of 65 guineas, and it would be a serious loss if one of those birds happened to be killed on its first flight. The protest has been placed before the Government, but the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Gibson) seems to treat the matter as one of no importance, although the persons concerned have forwarded sworn affidavits setting out the facts of the case.
– Is this protection given in any other country?
– I should imagine that it was. When I first put a question on the notice-paper relating to the matter, I received an unsatisfactory answer, and on the second occasion I was told that if there was found to be any danger some action would be taken. I am not satisfied to let the matter rest there. I hope’ that the Government will depute an officer to meet the experts and inquire into the merits of the case. Homing pigeons would be of great value to the country in time of war.
– All I can say at this stage is that as the Minister representing the Postmaster-General in this Chamber I shall bring the remarks of the honorable senator under his notice.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 July 1923, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1923/19230712_senate_9_103/>.