9th Parliament · 2nd Session
ThePresident (Senator the Hon.T. Givens) took thechair at3 p.m. and read prayers.
– (By leave.) - As promised last week,. I have had inquiries made into the recent statement by Senator McDougall concerning serious accusations made in the Sydney press with regard to the treatment of half-caste girls at Darwin. The effect of the newspaper report, which was as follows, was brought under the notice of the Administrator : -
For the last six years, continual and repeated reports on the subject of the treatment of half-caste girls in Darwinhave been furnished to theAdministrator. These reports prove that nineteen half-caste girls under fteen years of age have been sent out to service during that period. Twelve of these girls have returned to the native compound and become mothers; three more are about to add to the number. Of the first twelve alluded to, nine were employed by Government officials, and the remaining three by influential residents, while the three latest victims of the white men are all employed by Government servants.
The report I have now received from the Administrator states that a search of the records shows that nosuch reports have been received. Protector Macdonald, who is in charge of the native compound at Darwin, reports that he has never forwarded such complaints, and that in the last six years only three girls sent to employment from the compound became mothers. Two of these were in the employ of civilians, and one was employed by a Government official. Two more are about to become mothers, one employed by a Government official and the other by a civilian. Mr. Macdonald advises the Administrator that in eight years only one of the girls remaining under his supervision as an inmate at the Darwin compound has become a mother, and she is. now married to the father of her child. It is only fair to say that, it does not follow bcause a girl may have been in the employ of a Government official, that he is the culprit.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Imperial Shipping Committee - Report on the Economic Size of Speed and Vessels trading between the United Kingdom and Australia, and on the Subsidies necessary to maintain Speeds in excess of the Economic Speed.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations amended- StatutoryRules 1923, No. 72.
Wireless Telegraphy Act - RegulationsStatutoryRules1923, No.97.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice - 1.Is it a fact that the Defence Department have decided to sink theH.M.A.S. Australia, in keeping with the disarmament arrangements?
– The Minister for Defence supplies the following answer: -
Note Advances in Relation togold.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer supplies the following answer: -
The Australian Note Issue is now controlled by the Note Issue Department of the Commonwealth Bank, the Board of Directors of which determine, subject to the Act, the conditions under which notes are issued to the banks. One of the provisions of the Act is that the Board shall hold in gold coin and bullion a reserve of an amount not less than one-fourth of the amount of Australian notes issued.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
If a promise was made on the Kitto April, 1920, by the late Prime Minister, the Bight Honorable W. M. Hughes, to the effect that the Australian woolgrowers would be allowed the same share of profits on wool supplied to the Colonial Combing, Spinning, and Weaving Company, ae if it formed part of the wool sold to the Imperial Government, does the Government propose to honour such promise?
-The whole matter is still the subject of negotiation between the Commonwealth Government and the parties concerned, and it has not yet been possible to arrive at a satisfactory basis of settlement.
Yass Junction Railway
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice - 1 Will the Minister ascertain from the New South Wales Government when it is intended to construct the railway between Yass Junction and the Federal Territory?
– The replies are-
Debate resumed from 27th July (vide page 1727), on motionby Senator Crawford -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– . In my remarks on this subject last Friday I think I made it clear that I was prepared to support any proposal that had for its object the maintenance of our primary industries. I also pointed out that, unless some assistance were given to the cattle growers of Queensland, a very large area of country, at present utilized for that purpose, would eventually become unoccupied, and instead of being an asset, would become a burden,’ to the Commonwealth. My illustrations indicated that the graziers of Queensland were not the “fat” men suggested by certain honorable senators, who made some extraordinary statements in connexion with the meat industry generally. One statement made was that before butchers obtained their supplies of meat in
Victoria, the wholesalers made a profit of 3d. per lb. Another statement was that it cost the butchers 6d. a pound to distribute meat to the consumers. One has only to turn up the records of the sales of meat in Victoria last year, and this year, to show how far wide of the truth such statements are. If the wholesalers take a profit of 3d. per pound, and it costa the butchers 6d. a pound to distribute meat to the consumers, it means the addition of 9d. a pound to the cost of beef from the time the cattle are marketed until the meat reaches the consumer. But in . 1922 the average retail price of beef in Victoria was considerably less than 9d. a pound. At that time prime cattle were fetching, in the market, from 25s. to 30s. per hundred pounds weight. Last week, at Newmarket, prime cattle were realizing as much as 70s. per hundred pounds weight, but the average price was 64s. At these wholesale prices it would be impossible for meat to be retailed to the consumers at the price being paid to-day if 9d. per pound were to beadded to the price by the wholesaler and the retailer.
– If the honorable senator is referring to a remark made by me, I may explain what I said, so that I shall not be misunderstood. The average price received by the producer is 3d. a pound, but within twenty-four hours Melbourne retailers are selling beef at 9d. a pound, so that there is a difference of 6d. a pound between the price received by the producer and the price paid by the consumer.
– I think my memory is quite clear on the matter . Some honorable senator said he was assured that the retailers’ cost of distributing meat in Melbourne to the consumer was 6d. a pound, but the facts do not support that statement. The retailers would be selling at a loss and could not carry on, whereas we know that the average retailer of meat is on a fairly good wicket.I am in favour of the bounty system whenever it is necessary to insure the continuance of a primary industry. Cattle-growing is not the only industry which has merited our attention. We have granted bounties in respect of iron and steel products and many other things in Australia, but today, when we are asked to give a bounty to the cattle-growers of Australia, which practically means the cattle-growers of Queensland, the people in the southern part of the Commonwealth who are paying high prices for their meat are watching this proposal with a great deal of anxiety. They cannot understand why it should be necessary to afford this assistance to the northern cattle-growers. We must recognise that conditions vary in each State. While there may be a shortage of meat in the southern portion of Australia there may be a surplus of it in the northern portion of the continent; but owing to the restrictions which have tobe imposed with regard to the transfer of cattle from one State to another, it is impossible, except under a first-class system of organization, for that surplus to be made available in other States. I hope that, eventually”, that system of organization will be brought about, so that if there be a surplus production of meat in Northern Australia, people in Southern Australia may reap an advantage in respect of the prices they pay for meat. Until matters, all over the world, more nearly approach the normal again, I am afraid we shall be called upon to continue assistance to several industries. I have in mind one industry which is particularly deserving of assistance. It has been the means of providing quite a large number of returned soldiers with employment during the last few years, but now it cannot carry on without a bounty. I refer to the dried apple industry. For many reasons the lot of the orchardists has been a very hard one in recent years. The restrictions imposed by Federal and State legislation permit of the export of a certain class of apples only. The balance has to be retained in the Commonwealth. Skin blemishes and other slight defects, which do not affect the wholesomeness of the fruit, but may affect its price overseas, prevent its exportation, and provision has therefore to be made to utilize the unexportable apples which are quite as wholesome as those, which can be exported. A number of evaporating factories has been established in Tasmania for this purpose. At one time a bonus was given by the Federal Government to help the industry, but it has now been withdrawn, and as a consequence the evaporating industry cannot carry on, because the Tasmanian evaporated apples cannot compete in the London market with American evaporated apples at the price at which they can be sold. While I support this Bill I want it to be clearly understood that I do so only be- cause it will favorably affect a primary industry which ought to be encouraged and given every assistance to continue. At the same time I am hopeful that Parliament will not lose sight of other industries, giving employment to a very large number of deserving citizens, which cannot continue unless . they are afforded assistance. I trust the Government will give favorable consideration to any request that the principle they have adopted in regard to the meat export trade shall also be applied to other industries equally deserving of assistance. .
– Will the evaporated apple trade ever get on its feet?
– If subsidized . by a reasonable bounty its future is assured.
– I permitted the honorable senator, by way of illustration, to make an extended reference to the evaporated apple industry, but in a Bill to provide a bounty for export on meatit would be quite unreasonable to permit a discussion as to the necessity for granting bounties on the production of other commodities.
– The Bill proposes to give to the owners of cattle in the Commonwealth a substantial sum of money from the Consolidated Revenue. Its provisions will apply mainly to Queensland, where half the cattle of the Commonwealth are raised, and to a less extent to New South Wales. The mere fact that the Bill will benefit New ‘ South Wales and Queensland, but not the other States, does not directly affect my views ; but the principle underlying it is one which, as a rule, does not find favour with me. Honorable senators on the other side are never tired of condemning any legislation which proposes to give a dole from the national Exchequer to working men who may be unemployed during periods of industrial distress. That policy is being followed to a large extent in Great Britain, but it is not effective, because it does not deal with the basis of the trouble. There are still 1,500,000 unemployed there. The proposal to extract from the pockets of the people of the Commonwealth a donation for the assistance of the cattleowners, would not be made by any individual cattle-owner. I feel sure that Senator Guthrie, Senator Payne, and other honorable senators who have spoken in support of the Bill, would scorn the idea of canvassing the Commonwealth to beg a few pounds from the people. When the Bill is “boiled down,” that is precisely what it means. Senator Guthrie and his colleagues, who claim to represent the cattle-owners, are seeking a dole from every man, woman, and child in the Commonwealth, themselves included, to assist them in their present difficulties. That is a most humiliating position for them to occupy.
– Who placed them in that position? It was the Queensland Labour Government, which filched the money from them.
– I have Seen these cattle men at various shows in different parts of the country. They are well fed, well clothed, and sleek, and I have no doubt that in many cases they have substantial banking accounts behind them. Yet their representatives in Parliament, through the Ministry, ask thepeople of the Commonwealth for financial assistance. They have placed themselves in the position of beggars asking the general public for a few shillings. That sort of thing ought to be stopped. They ought to be encouraged to rely on their own resources. We have been told that a working man, by accepting charity, loses his self-respect; but the cattle-owners in this country are in no different position. The Bill proposes to give the cattleowners a donation of1¼d. per lb. from the Consolidated Revenue. Who . provides the funds to enable the Government to hand out large sums of money in this way? The people as a whole; but the great bulk of our revenue £32,000,000 of it- is received from Customs and Excise duties. Most people admit that the Customs and Excise duties fall most heavily upon the poorer section of the community.
– Is the honorable senator aware that almost half that revenue is derived from duties upon narcotics and stimulants ?
– Yes; and I also know who smokes the tobacco and drinks the spirits and beer. It is the poor man in the community.
– Does the honorable senator not think that those are the’ people who will derive nearly the whole of the benefit from the proposed bounty ?
– If the bounty were handed over to them, instead of to the cattle-owners, it would be something tangible.
– The bounty will provide work for thousands of men who would otherwise be unemployed.
– The proposal is to give a bounty to the owners of cattle. It is merely, incidental that additional men will be employed.
– They . would not be employed if no bounty were paid.
– I believe they would. We have heard that story so often in regard to other Australian industries that we are almost tired of it, and have ceased to believe it. No man who is able and willing to work should for one moment lower his self-respect so far as to accept charity. It makes no difference whether the charity is obtained by Act of Parliament or, in the language of an honorable senator, by “ passing round the hat “ for a donation.
– Or by Customs duties.
– Customs duties are as offensive to me as many other imposts.
– The honorable senator is surely a Free Trader.
– I have not said that, but I have always made it quite clear that I believe in making those people pay who own the country. The cattleowners and their supporters do not tackle the problem at the right point. They ought to be told, by our refusing to pass this Bill, that they should take in hand the problem of distribution. It is extraordinary that a man who produces cattle in the back country should receive only 3d. per lb., while the consumer has to pay from ls. to ls. 6d. per lb.
– Beef is not ls. to ls. 6d. per lb. in Queensland, which is the State interested.
– It is in New South Wales.
– New South Wales will receive practically no benefit from this bounty.
– There are 3,500,000 cattle in New South Wales, and “about 7,000,000 in Queensland. New South Wales, therefore, is interested to half the extent that Queensland is. ,
– But what is the difference in the population of the two States ?
– It is very considerable, of course. New South Wales has been longer settled, and has, in many respects, a better climate and soil than Queensland. An attempt should be made to conduct the distribution so as to give a better pricethan at present to the cattle raisers, and at the same time reduce the cost to the consumers. The people who raise the cattle do not handle it.
– There are two separate businesses.
– Yes. The drovers and the auctioneers get their “ cut” out of the business, and the r.ailway and shipping charges have to be paid before the consumers purchase the meat. It should be possible to discover some means of lessening the extraordinary disparity between the 3d. per lb. received by the growers, and the ls. 6d. paid by the consumers; but apparently there is no inclination to tackle Such problems. As long as the Commonwealth is willing to grant an export bonus of¼d. per lb., the cattle-owners will be satisfied. Perhaps, later on, these sturdy beggars will develop more assurance, and they may eventually ask for a bonus of ½d. or even1d. per lb. Even if the proposal were to give a bounty with respect to the meat consumed in the Commonwealth, it would be an extraordinary one; but that would be more sensible than to pay a bounty on the export of beef. Prime beef and mutton are the only kinds of meat exported, and the people of Australia often have to eat meat that is inferior to the artiple exported.
– As most of the beef that is exported comes from Queensland, does the honorable senator contend that only beef of an inferior quality is produced in the other States ?
– I do not say that. I maintain that all the meat that is exported is of a very good quality, while some of the meat consumed in the Commonwealth is not of a good class. Dr. Arthur has assured the New SouthWales public that tough steak contains quite as much nutriment as choice cuts do:
– What does the honorable senator suggest should be done with the lower quality meat?
– We should export it, and keep the best in Australia.
– We do not export undercut. That is kept for local consumption.
– A good idea, too. Owing to the high cost of meat, the Australian consumption has been steadily de creasing, and in the course of time Australia may have to follow the example of some of the Eastern nations and manage without meat. From the latest official statistics I have made the following comparison of the consumption per head of the population , in 1914 and 1921 respectively : -
These figures indicate a substantial decrease in the consumption of beef, due to the reduced purchasing power of the Australian workman’s wages and the high cost of meat. The proposed bounty will not have the effect of reducing prices ; it is more likely to increase them.
– The total for 1921 was 210 lbs. per capita. That seems fairly liberal.
– But in 1914 the consumption was 239 lbs., or an increase of 29 lbs. I attribute the falling off in consumption, not to a lack of any desire on the part of the people to eat meat, but to their inability to purchaseit at the high prices ruling. It may be, of course, that the quality of the meat in 1921 was not. equal to that in 1914. In any case, the fact stands out significantly that the consumption of beef has fallen from 150 lbs. in 1914 to 119 lbs. in 1921. I presume that the rate of consumption is still on the decrease.
– The price of pork and bacon increased, but the consumption per head remained stationary:
– Ordinarily the people do not consume large quantities of’ bacon.
– The price of mutton and lamb increased, and there was also an increase in the rate of consumption.
– There certainly was an increase, as between 1914 and 1921, of 2 lbs. per head in the consumption of mutton and lamb. If a bounty is paid a larger quantity of meat will be exported, and for the smaller quantity available in Australia higher prices will be charged. It would be far better if the cattle-raisers were induced to stand upon their own resources. If the present practice continues, Parliament will be asked to pay bounties to farmers, bricklayers, or even to solicitors. In some instances bounties are justifiable, and should be paid - for instance, to any person who discovered oil in payable quantities, because a considerable amount of expenditure might be involved in seeking for oil without any return. The production and export of beef, however, is an oldestablished industry, and Parliament should not be asked to vote Commonwealth money to assist in supporting such men as Sir Sydney Kidman, who is designated the “ cattle king “ of Australia. If that gentleman receives his share of the bounty he will have to come down from his perch, and be regarded as other ordinary recipients of this dole. I cannot imagine such a man as Sir Sydney Kidman being a party to such a proceeding, and I do not think that the bulk of the cattleraisers in Australia are really anxiousto be assisted in the manner proposed. The cattle-raisers should endeavour to secure a reduction in the distributing costs, and eradicate tick and other such pests. That would assist them in making material progress without Government assistance. The proposition, if adopted, will not solve tho difficulty, but will, as I have said, be the means of increasing the price of meat to the consumer in order to pay the producers an additional¼d. per lb. In view of the information at . my disposal I cannot support the Bill.
There has been a considerable discussion on this measure, but there are two or three points to which I should like to refer before a vote is taken on the motion for its second reading. I approach the. consideration of the Bill with an open mind, and I may support it, particularly after viewing the hungry pinched faces of the cattle-raisers and their supporters opposite. I listened with considerable interest to the speech delivered by Senator Lynch, whose eloquence almost persuaded me to believe that it would be criminal to vote for such a measure. The honorable senator’s thoughts, however, seemed to be somewhat in conflict as he looked back, somewhat fondly, to his old love, the proletariat,’ and then lovingly towards his newly-found bride. At last the charms of the new bride were too great, as the honorable senator reluctantly decided to give the measure his support. My mind is similarly affected, and I am wondering whether, in dropping a shilling into the plate, I am likely to assist the cattle industry or the proletariat for whom the cattle-raisers now profess so much solicitude.
– The payment of a bounty will be the means of providing employment for a large number of men.
– Why does not the Honorary Minister (Senator Crawford) say that the primary object of the Government is to assist the cattle industry? The cry of assisting the workers engaged in the industry does not appeal to me, because, on perusing the figures, we find that that industry employs proportionately less than any other primary industry. After listening to the discussion on this measure one cannot help being struck with the fact that there is something radically wrong with our social system when an abundance of meat of the best quality is available in Queensland, while in the southern States, including Tasmania, famine prices are being charged for inferior supplies. The solution of the problem is to be found in an improved system of distribution, and it would be better if Parliament used its influence to secure a reduction of freights rather than to continue to pay bounties. There is a huge difference between the amount the producer receives and that which the consumer pays, for which the overlapping system of distribution is largely responsible. Dozens of’ butchers are operating in one suburb where there is room for only half of that number, which means that the overhead costs which the public have to pay are unnecessarily heavy. This is a subject which, perhaps, we need not discuss at length at this juncture, but it seems an anomaly that when ample supplies are available in Australia the consumers have to pay famine prices for in f erior meat. The remarks of some honorable senators opposite, reflecting upon the State I represent, were somewhat unfortunate. It was suggested that the Tasmanian representatives were somewhat inconsistent in their attitude. Senator Duncan said that Tasmanian senators should not oppose this measure, as they have been rushing the Treasury to secure assistance for the carbide industry. Queensland is a big State, possessing large tracts of fertile country and boundless resources, and attempts have been made to compare that State with Tasmania with its relatively poor soil and limited possibilities.
– Poor soil ! Wonderful potatoes are grown in Tasmania.
– There is a vast difference between granting a bonus on meat produced by an industry firmly established and in aiding a new industry.
– Is not Tasmania asking that assistance be given to some of its industries that have been established for some time ? Senator Payne referred to one of them in particular.
– I am not going into that question at this juncture, although I believe that there is a better solution of the difficulties’ surrounding the fruit industry than the payment of a bounty would afford. A reduction in freights would assist the meat producers as well as the fruit-growers. If the Government were to allow unrestricted importations of meat into Australia, a howl of indignation would immediately be raised, and rightly so too; but that is what has occurred in Tasmania in connexion with the carbide industry.
– Meat is being imported into Australia from New Zealand.
– In comparatively small quantities.
– Carbide is not being imported.
-The honorable senator knows that supplies have been coming in for some time. The Queensland Government ought to do something to assist the cattle industry.
– Tasmania has been assisting the carbide industry.
– Yes. Tasmania has paid nearly £120,000 to assist it. The representations made on behalf of that industry did not mean an additional burden upon the community.
– There is a duty of £7 10s. per ton on carbide, as well as a dumping duty.
– The honorable senator ought not to be so unfair as to suggest that requests on behalf of the carbide industry involve additional burdens on the community.
– That is a fair statement of the position. It is true.
– There is also a duty upon imports of meat, and this proposal represents the - payment of an additional 10s. or 12s.. per head on all cattle exported as beef.
– There is no duty on meat, but there is a duty on live stock; and it comes out at about one-eighth of a penny per lb.
– Then, as I havesaid, there is an import duty on meat.
– Would the honorable senator support a proposal to, place a similar duty upon carbide ?
– I think the’ restrictions on the , importation of meat are heavier. Our quarantine laws prevent the introduction of live stock to certain portions of the Commonwealth.
– I can assure the honorable senator that our production costs are so low that no other country in the world could compete with us, and send meat to Australia at a profit.
– I cannot support this measure, in view of the fact that the value of meat exported from Australia largely increased during the past twelve months.
– I am sure the honorable senator is wrong. The figures he has in mind probably include mutton and lamb, prices for which are very much higher relatively than for beef. There was a large export trade in mutton and lamb last year; but no one asked for a bonus on the exportation of that class of meat.
– I can only go by the Budget statement, which is to the effect that the value of the meat exported in 1921-22 was about £5,000,000, and for the last financial year, speaking from memory, I think it was about £7,000,000. It has been urged that since Tasmania receives a grant of £85,000 from the Commonwealth, honorable senators from that State shouldnot oppose this Bill.
– That is a pretty good bonus to Tasmania, at all events.
– Strictly speaking, it is not a grant at all, but something to which Tasmania is entitled by reason 6f her losses in revenue through Federation. In considering my attitude towardsthis measure, I am compelled to think of the tin miners, who are suffering heavily from low prices, also of the copper miners of Mount Lyell, where they were losing from £15 to £20 per ton on the output of copper; and of the fruit growers, who were landed in costs recently on early shipments of apples to the United Kingdom.
– I remind the honorable senator that the Commonwealth lost a considerable amount of money through the fruit pools.
– If we are going to give the meat industry special consideration, we should consider also the position of other primary producers who suffer seasonable losses.
– The honorable senator knows very well that the fruit pools have cost the Commonwealth Government well over £300,000.
– Though I may be deemed inconsistent I feel that I cannot support this proposal, the effect of which will be to add id. per lb. to the price of meat to the wives of artisans and poorly-paid metalliferous miners on the West Coast of Tasmania. I have no personal feeling in the matter, nor am I actuated by blind opposition to the “ beef barons,”’ as they have been termed. I cannot support the Bill, because it has not been clearly shown to me that the industry is in such a parlous state as to require assistance from the Commonwealth.
– Does not the honorable senator think that, since the Premier of Queensland has given some assistance to the industry, there’ is warrant for this request ?
– I do not know that the Queensland Government have done very much to help this Queensland industry. I refer to Queensland because it is obvious that the measure will benefit the cattle growers in Queensland more than those in any of the other States.
– Is not the northern State just as much a part of Australia as a southern State?
– Certainly ; but this proposal suggests that it is of more importance to the Commonwealth than a southern State. We should not penalize the consumers in the southern States by agreeing to pay a bounty of 10s. or 12s. per head to the cattle raisers of Queensland at a time’ when meat is at such an exorbitant price in the other States of the Commonwealth. Evidently faulty distribution is largely responsible f.or the present high prices in the southern States, and I do not think I should be justified in supporting any measure that would increase the cost of meat to the consumers.
– I think the honorable senator will agree that the price to the producer is too low. It is really below the” cost of production.
– I am sorry that I cannot respond to .the appeal made by the honorable senator. I intend to vote against the Bill.
.- In dealing with a measure of this kind, we should, I think, bear in mind that we are legislating to assist an industry, not in one State, but in the various States of the Commonwealth. It is unnecessary that I should refer at length to the circumstances that have been responsible for the present difficulty. The heavy accumulation of stocks held by the War Office, at the end of the war, was an important factor in the disorganization of the Australian meat industry. I agree with honorable senators who are opposing the Bill, that if the position were not so serious it would be a comedy to find, in one State of the Commonwealth, an abundance of meat, whilst in other States, and with all the advantages of railway facilities, prices are beyond the reach of many people. The difficulty in the meat industry, like that of the fruit industry, lies in its seasonal productivity. During the summer months of’ the year there is an abundance of fruit. It is a perishable product, and must be harvested and marketed without delay. Much the same conditions operate in the meat industry, and, unfortunately, many people have a strong- objection- to frozen meat. If they prefer fresh meat, then they should be prepared to pay the higher price. I think, however, that much of the meat which is sold as fresh is really out of the cool chambers, and , therefore, is chilled meat. The outstanding feature of the industry is that, in the months of January, February, March, and April, there is an abundance of fat stock in Australia; and meat then is cheap in all parts of the Commonwealth.
– What does the honorable senator mean when he speaks of meat as being cheap ?
– I should say that from 25s. to 30s. per 100 lbs. would be a reasonably cheap price during the summer months. . Stock marketed in June, July, August, September, and well into October, are fattened on artificial grasses, or by stall-feeding. Honorable senators who are opposing the Bill almost suggest that the business of marketing fat stock is like that of a manufacturing industry with a continuous output and that in Australia, each and every month of the year, there is an abundant supply of fat cattle. But that is not the case. Honorable senators might conclude from the introduction of this Bill that beef is now available for export. There may be in the cool stores some which could be exported, but not more than 10 per cent, of the cattle I have mentioned would now be available for killing for export.
– Nothing like that quantity.
– In Tasmania there is a very decided shortage of beef. It is worth from £3 10s. to £4 per 100 lbs., and in all probability the price will reach £5. Mutton is worth ls. per lb. Unless the public are prepared to do with beef as they are prepared to do with other produce - that is, to draw their winter supplies from the cool stores - the position will always remain what it has been in the past - we shall have an abundance in the summer months and a shortage in the winter. A fair average price of £2 per 100 lbs. in the summer time is infinitely more profitable to the grazier or fattener than is a return of £4 per 100 lbs. in the winter. I quite appreciate the position of the people in Victoria, who draw attention to the high prices they are compelled to pay for meat, and I sympathize with the poorer classes because of the high prices they must pay for fresh meat. But the trouble is that the quarantine restrictions quite properly prevent the introduction of live cattle from Queensland to Victoria, and prices cannot be reduced unless the consumers are prepared to accept frozen meat from the northern State. It seems somewhat in the nature of a comedy to be passing legislation to assist the industry to export when the home market is not supplied; but the people are the best judges, and if they are prepared to pay high prices for fresh meat rather than use frozen meat, the position of the Australian meat industry must inevitably remain as it is to-day. I shall support the Bill, but I think it only fair to assume that if the Government are approached by other producers, who can make out quite as good a case for assistance as have the meat exporters, their requests will be viewed from the same angle.
– To what industry is the honorable senator now referring ?
– The apple industry.
– In Tasmania?
– Yes, and other States are equally interested. It is always the surplus that makes a business profitable or otherwise. It is usual for people to declare that if producers are in a position to export their surplus they can exact higher prices in the local market; but it often happens that the presence of a surplus may cripple an industry, and the ability to get rid of a surplus keeps it going. The orchardists of Australia find themselves with a surplus after supplying the full requirements of the Australian market. Each case must stand on its merits. When we analyze the position of the pastoralists and realize what their industry has done for Australia, and what it may mean for the future of, the Commonwealth, we realize that we must make every effort to. try to keep it , going until things right themselves in Europe, which, prior to and during the war, provided an excellent market for our frozen meat. It does not follow that because we pass this Bill we intend to continue the principle of spending money to assist meatexporters; but when those engaged in the industry have made every effort to keep going, we have every justification for assisting them to tide themselves over a difficult period. Mymain purpose in rising was to point out that honorable senators were under a misapprehension when they tried to convey the impression that there is always an abundant supply of meat in Australia. That is not the case, unless the consumers are willing to take meat from the freezers. The meat industry is not like a manufacturing industry which has a regular and steady output. In some seasons -when there is plenty of grass there is a superabundance of fat cattle, and then when a drought comes the production may decrease by 50 per cent. Even in the winter months of a normal season it may easily be reduced by 10 per cent., and we may therefore expect that in a winter following a drought prices will soar up to 200 per cent, above the normal summer prices.
– I shall oppose the secondreading of this Bill. Like my colleague Senator Ogden, I listened on Friday last to the very calm, dispassionate and dignified utterances of my honorable colleague from Western Australia, Senator Lynch, who usually addresses the Senate in a very calm, dignified and dispassionate manner, and I heard him threaten me that if I voted in a certain direction’ I should be required to give an account of my stewardship to the miners of Kalgoorlie. I shall give to the miners of Kalgoorlie an account of my stewardship by the vote I shall cast on this Bill, leaving it to Senator Lynch to give an account of his stewardship when next he faces the electors. Senator Hays has intimated his intention to vote for the Bill and in a very nice little speech has somewhat qualified his support of the measure. The honorable senator’s speech reminded me that gratitude has been defined as “a lively sense of future favours.” The honorable senator reminded us that there was another part of Australia, namely, Tasmania. Unlike Senator ‘Ogden, I shall not refer to it as a little island. It is a big part of Australia and it has a big apple industry.
– I said that Australia had an apple industry in which Tasmania was deeply interested.
– When asked by Senator McHugh where the industry was located, the honorable senator replied, “ Tasmania, and other States are equally interested.” It is quite possible that before very long Tasmania, in the words of Senator Lynch, will be sending around the plate amongst the other States asking for the shillings.
– Would not Western Australia also be .concerned ?
– The rules of debate will not permit me to refer to. Western Australia or to the question of Free
Trade versus Protection. As Senator Lynch has asked me to give an account of my stewardship, I shall say very briefly why I am opposing the Bill. I oppose it because to-day the people of Australia are paying more for meat than they should be paying. When I know that meat produced in Australia, afterpaying freight over a sea voyage of 12,000> miles, is being sold in London infinitely cheaper than in the capitals of Australia, I would not be doing my duty as a member of this Senate if I took any action that would encourage the producers of that meat to send more across the seas, thus creating a scarcity here and increasing its price locally. In 1922 the value of meat exported from Australia was £5,540,000.
– That included mutton.
– I spoke of meat. People in Australia eat mutton when they can get it, and they eat beef when they can get it. Many people in Australia did not partake of meat during 1922, nor have they partaken of it so far as this year of grace has proceeded. Why ? Because of its high price. Meat is a natural product of Australia. I believe that Australia should be selfcontained, and we are producing everything needed for the sustenance of man. Having produced all necessary commodities, however, we export most of them, and the people of Australia have to pay a high price for what is left. We should give these necessary commodities to the people of this country at a fair price before exporting any of them.
– Who would be the judge of what is a fair price?
– There are in this Senate thirty-six judges, appointed by the people of Australia, and as one of them I am endeavouring to give my verdict. To give an export bounty, particularly upon meat, is to commence at the wrong end. Australia is importing beef on the hoof from New Zealand, and is at the same time paying a bounty to the producers of beef to assist them to export it. A commercial man in America, when asked what that country did with all its products, replied, “ We eat what we can, and what we cannot eat we can.” Australia might follow that example. It is because meat is too dear for the Australian consumers that I shall not give my vote ‘in favour of a bounty to assist in exporting it overseas.
Senator CRAWFORD (Queensland-
Honorary Minister) [4.23]. - It is not my intention to reply at. any great length to the debate, because practically all the arguments that have been advanced by opponents of the Bill have been most effectively answered by those honorable senators who have spoken in support of it. Many honorable senators failed to realize the position in the meat industry. The high price of beef in the southern centres of population is due very largely to temporary causes. It is not the result of a shortage of cattle in the Commonwealth. Owing to the recent drought, from which almost the whole of Australia suffered, there is . a temporary shortage of fat, marketable cattle within reasonable distance of the principal Australian markets. I have prepared some figures which will enable honorable senators to grasp the facts, and from which they will see that not only is there a surplus of stock in the Commonwealth, but that the surplus has considerably increased during recentyears. In the five years, from 1916-17 to 1920-21, Australia exported 843,000,000 lbs. of beef, which would be equal, assuming an average of 600 lbs. per bullock, after treatment at the meatworks, to 1,400,000 head of cattle. Notwithstanding these exports, Australian herds, in the same period, increased by over 3,000,000 head, of which a little over 300,000 were dairy cattle. The result was that at the beginning of last year there was practically no outlet for the large numbers of live stock in Australia, and particularly for those in remote parts. Some honorable senators who spoke against the Bill said they would have been prepared to support it if those engaged in the cattle industry in the other States would benefit to the same extent as those in Queensland.It is the industries carried on in the remote parts of the Commonwealth that it is most necessary, in the interests of the whole of Australia, to encourage in every possible way. One of the most important problems facing the people of this country at the present time is how to settle and develop the northern portion of Australia. Over one-third of the area of the Commonwealth lies within the tropics, and in that area the cattle are raised on which the bounty will be paid. The bounty will, in the first instance, be paid to the meatworks, under conditions which will insure that it will go to the producers. No com plaint- has been made that this object has not been achieved in the past. While it has been said that the greater part of the bounty last year was paid in Queensland, and some of it in Western . Australia, it must not be inferred that large numbers of cattle from the Northern Territory were not also treated for export. The cattle raised in the Northern Territory, especially on the Barkly Tablelands, find their principal market in Townsville, “ and large numbers of them are depastured for a time on Queensland stations before being slaughtered. Cattle raised in the western part of the Northern Territory are treated at Wyndham. At the beginning of last year, when the Government first gave bhis subject consideration, it was not profitable to treat cattle for export. The Government made the payment of the bounty conditional upon a reduction of the cost of treatment by the meatworks, and a reduction of steamer freights by the shipping companies. This year it has been arranged that there shall be a further reduction by the meatworks of¼d. , per lb., and by the shipping companies ofd. per lb., Unfortunately, these reductions in the cost of treatment and freight will be more than counterbalanced by the serious fall in the price of meat overseas. While it is estimated that pastoralists in the north of Australia realized under the bounty scheme£2 10s. per head for their cattle, it is not reasonable to expect that they will obtain quite as much this year. Any ohe who knows anything about the pastoral industry is aware that it is impossible to raise fat cattle in this country for 50s. per head. Complaint has been made about the high price of beef in the south, and it was suggested that the producers of fat stock in the north might arrange for the distribution of meat, and I presume the retailing of it, in the big centres of the south. If the consumers of the south are dissatisfied with the price of beef, and feel that those engaged in the business of distribution are making too large profits, I sug gest that they might, greatly to their own advantage, take in hand its distribution. The distribution of other foodstuffs might also be undertaken. It is impossible for those who are raising cattle in the western part of Queensland, in the Northern Territory, and in the north-west of Western Australia to do anything to control the southern retail markets for beef.
Neither can I see how the withholding of the bounty would cheapen the price of meat. A bounty of¼d. per lb, if it could be distributed over the meat consumed in Australia, would not reduce the price by one-sixteenth of a penny per lb., even if the whole of it were passed on to the consumer. It is not the pastoralists alone who will benefit by the payment of the bounty. If the Bill is passed by Parliament, at least £1,000,000 will come into Australia which would otherwise not find its way here. In reply to an interjection, I said that the value of the exports under this Bill would be between £600,000 and £700,000. At that time I was thinking of the amount the pastoralists would receive, assuming that the bullocks realized a net price of 50s’. a head. To that has to be added the cost of treatment, which is very considerable. I am inclined to dispute the statement that the amount of employment provided by the bounty is disproportionately small, because when that statement was made the number of men employed in meatworks was apparently not taken into consideration. I cannot state, precisely, how many meat works would need to operate to treat 250,000 head of cattle, but there are some half-dozen very large works in Queensland, and “some of them employ 1,000 men and upwards. I am quite safe in saying that three or four times the amount of the proposed bounty would be paid away in wages. The slaughter, treatment, and distribution of 250,000 head of bullocks, directly and indirectly gives employment to practically anarmy of men. If the Government had not brought forward a similar proposal last year thousands of men would have been thrown out of work for a considerable time.
– The works would not have opened at all.
– How many men would be idle if the proposal were rejected ?
– I should say that, directly and indirectly, 10,000 men would be affected. In large towns such as Townsville, which has a population of 25,000, business would be practically at a standstill. That large centre depends very largely upon the pastoral industry; particularly since the mining slump in North Queensland.
– The very fact of the men agreeing voluntarily to a reduction of wages speaks for itself.
– Yes; the acuteness of the position is evident, seeing that the men agreed to a wages reduction of 2s. a day, or 12s. a week, and a corresponding reduction for piece-work.
– The picture of threatened unemployment is somewhat overdrawn.
– Honorable senators opposite have a lot to say about unemployment, and I have not heard anybody on the Government side’ suggest that they indulge in fiction. Genuine sympathy for the unemployed evidently exists amongst those honorable senators who are supporting the bounty. Honorable senators opposite now have a chance to give practical effect to their sympathy, but they are prepared to neglect the opportunity.
– Honorable senators opposite want this bounty to go through the Treasury to the big companies. That is where their sympathy lies.
– There has been no complaint that the pastoralists have not received the bounty, or that the meat works have not dealt fairly with cattleowners since the granting of the bounty last year. In the northern portion of Australia thousands of workmen, with wives and families, are anxiously watching the passage of this Bill through the Senate, because it will mean a great deal to them, and to the industry upon which we have to depend for the development of a very large portion of the Commonwealth. I therefore hope that honorable senators opposite will, as some of them have professed to do, look at the matter from an Australian standpoint. I do not attach special significance to the attitude of Senator Gardiner in opposing the Bill, because he is a consistent Free Trader. In season and out of season, he objects to any proposal to assist an Australian industry, whether by a bounty or a Customs Tariff. If my memoryis not at fault, however, he did not raise his voice last year when the Senate considered a Bill for the payment of a bounty to the steel industry, which is carried on entirely in his own State.
– I certainly opposed it.
– I think that Senator McDougall remarked that it was very unreasonable that meat should be so dear in the southern States while cattle were so cheap in Queensland, only a few hundred miles away. I ‘point out that the bulk of the cattle to be affected by this Bill are located at least 2,000 miles ‘from Melbourne, and I am assured by a gentleman, who thoroughly understands the business that it would be impossible to drove the stock more than an average of 10 miles a day. To do that, and also to maintain the’ condition of the stock, it would be necessary to have favorable pasture and an adequate supply of water. It would take, therefore, the greater part of a year to travel stock from Northern Queensland, or the Northern Territory, to the Melbourne market, and meantime that market would be supplied with local cattle. The meat industry that has done so much for the Commonwealth has temporarily, at any rate, fallen upon evil days, and it requires this little assistance to help it out of the difficulty. In years past the industry has brought very large sums of money into the Commonwealth. It will continue to do so; and Australia will have to depend upon it for at least a number of years, for the development of our vast northern areas. I trust that honorable senators will consider the position that would be created if the Bill were not passed, and that they will give it the support that it undoubtedly deserves.
Question - That the Bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Glauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Appropriation for payment of bounties).
– The payment of the proposed bounty can be better discussed now than it could be on the second reading, when we were dealing with the general principle. The Minister (Senator Crawford) risked the opinion that there were about 10,000 employed in the industry.
– He said that that number would be affected directly and indirectly if the Bill were defeated.
– He said that 10,000 would be thrown out of work.
– I think the Minister wished to infer that the granting of the bounty would mean keeping about 10,000 people in employment. Of course, unemployment is a grave matter, and the Minister seemed to suggest that the attitude of honorable senators opposite proved them to be the real friends of the unemployed. The position is not as the Minister would have us believe, because there are only a little over 10,000 people engaged in the meat industry throughout Australia. According to the latest statistics available at the moment - those for 1919-20 - the number of employees in the meat, fish (preserved), ice. and refrigerating works is 4,899.
– There are also those employed on the pastoral areas.
– They will not be affected by this measure.
– I know that 1,200 are employed on the Lake’s Creek meatworks, near Rockhampton.
– A number are employed there; but how will this measure affect them if it is discovered that the rest of the people in Australia have to put their hands into their pockets to finance the rich Queensland meat companies? I use the term “rich Queensland meat companies” because there is unmistakable evidence that these companies are linked up with the “big four” controlling the meatworks all over the world.
– That is not true.
– In the limited time at my disposal, it is practically impossible to prove everything I may say, but I can substantiate beyond doubt, from official documents, that the American meat combine controls the export of meat from Australia. It is useless for Senator Reid to say that my statement is untrue, because such an assertion is not an answer. Publication after publication has been issued showing that the whole of the meat supplies of the world are controlled by four companies. The representatives of “ the big four “ have placed their party in power. I do not blame them for it. They have paid to get them there, and are now endeavouring to obtain interest on the electioneering expenses contributed by securing a bounty on meat exported from Australia. The people of Australia have to contribute this’ amount. Let me put this proposition to Senators Crawford, Lynch, and Reid-
– If the honorable member is insinuating that there is any tainted money on this side of the Chamber, his statement is totally incorrect.
– In my calm moments I realize that it is the companies’ gold which has placed honorable senators opposite in their present position.
– That is as far as the honorable senator can get.
– Does not Senator Lynch recall that when the sugar, inquiry was proceeding Mr. Knox was asked if £50,000 had been paid into the funds of the party which Senator Lynch supports?
– And what did Mr. Knox say?
– He would not deny it. He said, “£50,000 was not the amount.” He was on oath, and he could have made a clear statement in refutation of the charge. It might have been £100,000 or £200,000.
– And it might have been £1,000, or even less.
– Mr. Knox was cross-examined at considerable length, and had an excellent opportunity of stating the exact amount, but he refused to give a definite figure. A considerable amount was undoubtedly paid into the funds of the party represented by honorable senators opposite. If the amount had not been large he would have had no hesitation in stating the correct amount.
– The levies contributed by me to the funds of the party with which I am now associated are not greater than those paid to the old Labour party. That ‘is a definite statement, and is not based on any assumption.
– I know ‘that the comparatively insignificant office which’ Senator Lynch now occupies and from which he receives a few perquisites, has influenced the honorable senator’s outlook on matters discussed in this chamber. He was a fairly strong opponent of the Government until he became, in- a sense, one of its official members, and since then he has apparently been stripped of his independence. The erstwhile virile representative of the Western Australian miners is now a subservient supporter of the Government. As soon as private interests secure a grip of anything we produce, they immediately come to ‘the Government to help them to manage their, business, and in this Bill assistance is being sought. Whenever the Government are conducting a State enterprise - a woollen mill, for instance, which is showing a handsome profit - we are told that such undertakings can best be managed by private enterprise. We are informed that private business people are able to conduct affairs on a more satisfactory basis, and should not be subject to Government interference in any way. Here is an opportunity - why not give private enterprise a chance? It is frequently stated that if the Government enter .into competition with private business people, or interfere with their undertakings in any way, they fail miserably. If such is the case, why do not we leave it at that? If the export of meat can be handled more effectively by private enterprise, why should the Government offer assistance? Ships of the Commonwealth Government Line are trading between Australia and the markets of the world, and it would be an infinitely better proposition to permit these vessels to carry cargo at a cheaper rate’ than that charged by private companies rather than to, pay a bounty to the producers. By reducing the freights by £d. per lb., we could probably secure the whole of the trade for our ships. That would be better than throwing this money into the coffers of the v private companies. Probably within the course of a few days an amending shipping Bill will be submitted providing that the rates on frozen meat shall be reduced by a Id. per lb.
– That would mean carrying the meat for nothing.
– Is it down to a Id. a lb.
– I do not suggest it should be carried for nothing, but the freight should be reduced to one halfpenny. Even if the vessels of the Commonwealth Government Line carried the meat free it would be better than spending the money as is proposed. It cannot be said that the payment of a bounty will assist to stabilize the industry. The cost of shipping meat from Australia to England is only a Id. per, lb., and probably it will be sold in England for less than the price at which it is retailed in the southern States. I am an ardent supporter of public enterprise because I believe its encouragement will lift the people from their present unfortunate position. Nine-tenths of the population is struggling along on a meagre remuneration or none at all, whilst the other one-tenth is living in ease and luxury at the expense of their unfortunate brothers. Instead of subsidizing the wealthy and enabling them to become wealthier, the Government should engage in public enterprises and prevent the present waste which occurs from the rearing of the cattle until the meat is sold in the markets of the world. We should have some well-considered scheme under which waste would be dispensed with and” employment given to those who need it. The supporters of the Government were elected to assist to dispense with Government trading and to encourage - private enterprise.
– Some of them are personally interested in this proposal.
– (Senator Newland). - The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- Some honorable senators are treating .this measure as one of minor importance to the people of Australia, but it is of major consequence -to a large section of the community.
– Hear, hear! Ten thousand men will have employment if it is passed.
– That statement has already been refuted. When the payment of a bounty was proposed a year ago it was said that, it would be required for only a short period to enable the cattlemen of Queensland to overcome a temporary difficulty. Now they come along and say that they are still confronted with adversity, and the amount now sought from the people of the Commonwealth is approximately ,?30,000- more than was paid on a previous occasion. It will be a long time before the overseas markets will again be open to our beef producers, and I hesitate to support this clause, because I believe that by it we are establishing a precedent which a majority of the people of the Commonwealth will eventually oppose. Those whom it is proposed to assist are the best circumstanced of any in Australia. I have never heard any one speak of a poor pastoralist, although I freely admit that occasionally they have experienced bad seasons. They have exceptional periods of prosperity, but when a bad season strikes them they come along and ask the taxpayers of the Commonwealth to help them. Other sections of the community, however, have to take the good with the bad.
– We are assisting nearly every secondary it; dustry in the Commonwealth .
– I admit that during the -war this principle of Government assistance to industries was’ in operation, but the Government have since declared their intention to get out of business, and not to prop up any industry.
– How many of our secondary industries are protected under the Tariff?
– There is no analogy whatever between Tariff duties for the purpose of establishing home markets and a bounty for pastoralists to find markets overseas. If any other industry with the home market available to it0 came to the Government with a request for a bounty to assist it to dispose of its surplus products, the application would be turned down most unceremoniously. The honorable Minister (Senator Crawford) has said that the difficulty is only a temporary one and that, with the passing of time, the pastoralists will be able to look after them.sleves. Nothing but the re-opening of the overseas markets will give them security. The doors are closed to-day. Until they are opened again the pastoralists cannot hope for any substantial measure of relief.
-Does the honorable senator think that the overseas market is closed permanently ?
– I sincerely hope not, but I fear that it will remain closed to the pastoralist until the world’s credit is restored. It has been stated that if we do not agree to the Bill, about 10,000 men connected with the industry will be thrown out of employment. That statement, of course, has been made with the object of influencing votes on this side of the Committee. I do not want to see any one out of employment, but if there is a principle involved in this matter, we ought to be able to debate it without the introduction of unemployment as a side issue. Senator Gardiner was’ able to show, a little while ago, that the statement that the employment of about 10,000 men is involved is somewhat exaggerated.
– There are not more than 7,000 employed” in the industry in the Commonwealth .
– Even if that number were employed in 1920, it does not follow that the same number is engaged in the industry to-day, because, as everybody knows, theoverseas trade is not what it was a year or two ago. In any’ case the industry is seasonal, and the number of men engaged in it fluctuates. During the year mentioned everything was going well at all the works. None was closed down.
– Some were closed in 1920.
– Well, that was after the war, and at that time business was slackening off.
– The killing of 250,000 cattle would provide a good deal of employment.
– Of course it would. And the killing of 1,000,000 cattle would provide even more employment. I repeat that, until the markets of the” world are re-opened to the cattle men of Queensland and the north-west of Australia, the army of men referred to by the Minister is not likely to be fully employed. I am opposed to the bounty because it means an additional tax in the form of increased prices of meat upon the poorer section of the community. Why should we do anything to make meat dearer to thousands of consumers throughout Australia?
– How will this proposal make meat dearer?
– I am surprised that Senator Crawford should ask such a question. Beef is cheap in Queensland because there is an abundance of it. It is dear in Victoria because there is a scarcity of it here.
– A temporary scarcity.
– It is quite true that, owing to the tick pest in portions of Queensland, regulations against the introduction of live stock from Queensland are in force in Victoria, but there is nothing to prevent the Queensland cattle men supplying chilled beef to the consumers in the southern States. The home market is the best market, and the Victorian market is available to the Queensland cattle men. I can speak only for my own State. Other honorable senators may speak for the States which they represent. I am satisfied that there is a market here for Queensland chilled beef, which is good meat. It must be good, otherwise it could not be exported. Apparently those engaged in the industryhave not acted in a business-like way, with the result that, up to the present, this extensive market in Victoria has not been availed of. It has been urged that people will not take chilled beef. I say that they will; but they should not be expected, nor are they disposed, to pay as much for chilled beef as for fresh beef. If this business of catering for the home market is tackled in a business-like way, I am confident that, instead of having to ask for a bounty of £150,000, Queensland cattle men will be able to get from the southern consumers a much larger return.
– I should like to offer a few observations by way of reply to Senator Gardiner’s remarks concerning the number of employees in refrigerating works in Australia. According to the Year-book No. 14, for 1919-20, there were 10,412 employees in various meat works throughout the Commonwealth.
– What were the figures for Queensland?
– About 4,500.
– That was exactly the figure I quoted.
– Are they the latest figures ?
– They are the latest available. I point out, however, that, in addition to those actually employed in meat works, there are large numbers of drovers and others engaged in supplying the requirements of meat works. For instance, fuel is a very important item and is responsible for the employment of a considerable number. One meat works with which I am acquainted employed over 1,200 men in handling the meat and conveying it from the works to the ship. If any honorable senator visited Rockhampton or’ Townsville he- would be surprised to find such a large number of men employed on the wharfs in connexion with the meat trade.
– Does the Minister suggest that they would all be unemployed if this Bill were not passed?
– I can say that the period of unemployment will be shortened by the re-opening of the meat works. Last year, but for the bounty, many meatworks would have been closed and thousands of men unemployed. It has been suggested that the Commonwealth ships might be altered, and put on the run to North Queensland ports. On this point I can only say that the vessels engaged in this class of trade are usually about 10,000 tons register. I . suppose the ships that Senator Gardiner had in mind were the 6,000-ton vessels owned by the Commonwealth. The alteration of those vessels would involve a very heavy expenditure.. Insulation is specially expensive. I remember that, a few years ago, a contract for the insulating material alone in connexion with a certain meat works in Queensland, was no less than ?45,000. The cost, in the case of a vessel, would not be so heavy as that, but. it would be a considerable item. I am satisfied that it would cost a great deal of money to fit these vessels for the trade, and then they would be too small.
– That is a better reason.
– At the present time the position of the overseas market is very bad. The price in London has fallen nearly1d: per lb. during the last twelve months.
– And people in England get Australian meat -below the prices charged in Australia.
– Because people in England do not object to eat frozen meat. If there was the same demand in Australia for frozen meat it would be catered for.
– Thousands of people in Australia have had to eat frozen meat.
– When ?
– During the war our men at the Front had nothing else.
– There was almost a mutiny at Seymour Camp when during the shortage we tried to get the men to eat frozen meat.
– I know that at one time all the meat supplied to the State butchers’ shops in Queensland was frozen and the people ate it readily enough. However, in Sydney and Melbourne there is a strong prejudice against frozen meat. If there was in Australia the demand for frozen meat that exists overseas, a big trade could be opened up and meat could’ be sold much more cheaply. However, the prejudice that exists cannot be overcome in a day. The Bill has been submitted to meet an emergency. The bounty is to be paid to help to carry on the frozen meat trade and undoubtedly will give employment to . a very large number of men.
– I have been trying to follow the arguments of the Minister (Senator Crawford). He told us very dramatically that unless we passed the Bill we should be responsible for creating at least 10,000 unemployed. He told us that not only the men directly engaged in the meat industry, but also those employed in the transport of the meat from the works to the ships’ hold, would be deprived of employment. If he carriea his argument further he will say next week when Tasmania applies for a bounty on its apples, that the waterside workers of Tasmania will be deprived of employment unless the bounty is given.
– (Senator Newland). - The honorable senator must not travel outside the limits of this clause.It contains no reference to. Tasmania or unemployment.
– According to the Minister, we should give the bounty for two reasons, firstly in order to keep the industry going, and secondly, because if we do not keep the industry going unemployment will be created. One cannot discuss the bounty unless those two phases are kept in mind. In reply to the figures quoted by Senator Gardiner, the Minister quoted statistics relating to the year 1920. But he did not quote the latest figures. I quote from the Year Book No. 15, giving the figures for the 1920-21 period, when the number of meat and fish preserving and ice refrigerating works in Queensland was 61, the total number for the Commonwealth being 280. In the 1920-21 period the number of employees engaged in these factories was 3,677 in Queensland, and 6,903 in the’ whole Commonwealth. The pastoralists of Queensland must be wonderfully philanthropic. If the Minister is right in saying that unless this Bill is passed 10,000 workers will be deprived ‘of employment, it would appear that, since there are not more than 6,903 employees in the meat works of the Commonwealth, the pastoralists must be maintaining at least 3,000 workers for charity’s sake.
– It is estimated that the number of cattle put through the meat works last year will be doubled this year.
– We always hear optimistic expressions such as those from honorable senators who are members of a Government. If other honorable senators are led away by this sentimental cry of unemployment, I refuse to bel I suppose that if we decline to pay a bounty to the fruit growers around Sydney we shall be accused of ‘ creating unemployment on the waterside. As a matter of fact the waterside workers or employees engaged iri the transport trade do not depend upon any one product of Australia. They handle or carry all classes of products.
– They depend upon the number of ships calling to pick up products, and when the meat ships do not call the waterside workers are deprived of a certain amount of employment.
– If the waterside workers in many parts of Australia had to depend upon the meat brought from Queensland to various Australian ports, it would not be of much use to them.
– This bounty will mean a lot to the waterside workers of Townsville, Bowen, and Gladstone.
– We want thewaterside workers to handle more Australian meat for Australian consumers rather than for export. When the Minister next quotes figures, I hope that hewill quote them correctly.
.- I want to show my friends opposite the. importance of the bounty to the workers of Queensland.
-The honorable senator must not travel outside the scope of the clause-, which provides only for the appropriation of a sum of money for the payment of bounties.
– This bounty is to be paid to help the pastoral industry of Queensland and all that is dependent upon that industry. The pastoralists, as individuals, will not make a halfpenny out of’ it. They will not lose anything, but it can be shown by a comparison of . the price of meat in Victoria and the price paid to the pastoralists- at the meatworks, that the bounty simply pays working expenses. Last year assistance came to Queensland very late - quite a long time after the meat season should have commenced - and the works were very late in starting. Without the bounty, they could not have opened at all. Not one meatworks in Queensland opened until the bounty was made available. Lake’s Creek works, the oldest in the State, had a caretaker in charge. When it was necessary to get a few cattle .processed, the companies had to combine to open the Gladstone works for the purpose. But when the -bounty was made available; works at Townsville,,” Stewart’s Creek, Bowen, Gladstone, Lake’s Creek, and other places such as Eagle Farm, at Brisbane, opened up and kept going until the bounty was exhausted. I do not say that the meatworks or the pastoralists lost money, but they earned only working expenses. The Queensland Government, being naturally interested in the State they are governing, instituted inquiries, and ascertained that the bounty had been divided, amongst the pastoralists, the workers, and the employees. The pastoralists sold their cattle at a definite price. The meatworks processed the meat at a definite figure which just paid expenses, and no more. The employees, through their union, decided to lower their .wages by 12s. a week. Why did they do so? Because it was a case of doing that .or having no work. To-day we are in exactly the same position. The bounty provided for in this clause will simply pay the cost of taking the cattle to the meatworks and help to keep the meatworks going. The only persons who will receive any real benefit from it are the men employed in the works. In plain language this bounty is simply going to the employees. It will provide their only means of subsistence. If there are 10,000 men thrown out of work-
– I must ask the honorable senator not to traverse that ground again.
– Taking the average worker’s family, one can estimate the number of people likely to be affected if this bounty is not paid.
– The further this debate proceeds the more I am convinced that it is not the pastoralists of Queensland who want this bounty. I can see in this proposal great political advantages for certain individuals. Representatives of Queensland comprise about one-fourth of the total strengthof the other side of this Chamber. Supporters of this Bill claim that it will do incalculable good to the producer, andwill also greatly benefit their great friend the worker. They assert that the benefit will be obtained “ both going and coming.” No sane man believes that £150,000 will save the beef industry of Queensland from ruin. I was impressed by a remark by Senator Crawford , that our, secondaryindustries are all being well looked after. I can see a great danger in granting bonuses. In the State that I represent we have some big mining concerns. Some of them were closed down for fifteen months, and from two or three mines about 1,500 or l,600 men were thrown out of employment. Is the Government prepared to go to the assistance of every industry that meets with bad times ? If it is, the fact should be announced. At the end of the present yearSouth Australian senators may ask for assistance for a South Australian industry, and if the Government is consistent, it will not be able to refuse the request. If we can prove that the 40,000,000 bushels of wheat which will be garnered -in South Australia this year will produce, for the farmers, a loss of6d. a bushel, because the price of wheat, accord ing to experts, will surely fall, will the Commonwealth Government go to the assistance of the South Australian farmers to the extent of 6d. a bushel ?
– That has already been done. We have guaranteed the farmers before to-day a certain price for their wheat.
– The Government has guaranteed only up to the point where it does not have to pay. The farmers of South Australia receive nothing from the meat-growers of Queensland, but Sir Sydney Kidman has made portion of his money from the people of South Australia. Cannot the pastoral industry go to him for a loan ? The people of South Australia have to help the pastoralists when times are bad, but the pastoralists do not help the people when times are good. This one man alone is worth millions of pounds, and- he has made his money out of the pastoral industry. He has made it, not by raising cattle, but by selling cattle raised by smaller men. He is ths type of man who will receive the benefit of the bounty, notwithstanding what the Minister (Senator Crawford) has said. I know some pastoralists in South Australia. I met ohe of them the other day, and he had just sold out for £54,000. We have some good country in South Australia, although we possibly do not parade our State as much as we should. I have learned a lot in that respect from Queensland and Tasmania since I came into the Senate, and I have arrived at a point where I shall advise my colleagues from South Australia to be a little bolder. We South Australians are too modest. We have to pay, but we never ask for anything for ourselves. I am beginning to believe in the old scriptural injunction, “ Ask and ye shall receive,” and if you do not get it the first time, do as Senator Reid does - ask again.
– Success would depend upon which side. of the Senate one belonged to.
– In three years we shall be on the other side. In the meantime we must make our requests to a Government opposed to us. I oppose the Bill because I can see grave danger in it. If I have a small business, and trade is bad, I have to go to a bank and arrange for an overdraft. I cannot go to a benevolent Government and say, “ Help me over the stile; times are bad.’’ If that argument is developed, it should apply to the people of Queensland. The Queensland Government is benevolent, and would /be willing to assist the people of that State. I do not think it fair to ask the taxpayers of the Commonwealth to maintain this industry, while the cattleraisers in the Northern State get the benefit. I have to pay from ls.1d. to ls. 5d. for a pound of steak. If the people of Queensland would find markets in Australia for their frozen meat - and they are to be found - there would be no necessity to beg for a bonus. Fruit is grown in parts of South Australia, and we have to send experts abroad to find markets for it; but I suppose that next year we shall merely ask for a bonus for the fruit-growers. If the wine crop fails, I presume we shall be granted a bonus upon wine, and be assisted similarly in regard to other primary products. The proposal is not in the best interests of Australia, and the Government is setting a very bad precedent which, in years to come, will have a boomerang effect.
– I am speaking upon this clause because I want to reply to something said in the course of the discussion. It appears that the clause will be contested. Some wide, wild, and furious allegations have been made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner), and members of the party supporting him. Honorable senators on this side are supposed to belong to a most soulless political party, that depends for its support and political life upon unworthy- sources.I do not know that that is so. I am one of those people who, unlike the Leader of the Opposition, do not profess to be a sample of undisputed perfection. ButI do say that, as a party, we are here for what we are worth, and are backed by a majority of the people of this country. I would remind honorable senators of the Labour party who are making a row about clause 3 of the Bill, that/ the whole Bill was passed through another place with the assistance of an important wing of the party to which they belong. When we, the Nationalists, do as they have done, we are wrong, and when we do as they do not do, we are wrong again.
– John Wren must have issued his orders.
– Who is John Wren?
SenatorDuncan. - He finances the Labour party in Victoria.
– That brings meto the reference of the Leader of the Opposition to party funds, and “‘it accounts, perhaps, for the fact that I am levied for more now than I was when I belonged to the Labour party. Moreover, we have had to resort to practices in Western Australia that were not necessary in the old days, because the Labour party was better financed. Why do members of the Opposition not read the Hansard reports of the debate in another place and settle their differences with their own colleagues before complaining of the Nationalists , in this Chamber? If the Bill is so iniquitious, if it will put money into the pockets of people who already have enough, why do they not tackle their own colleagues in another place, and ask why they were parties to such an act of corruption? The Government is proposing to do only what an overwhelming majority of the Labour party in another place has done. If there were six Labour senators from Queensland in this Chamber not a word would be heard in protest- from the. other . side. Not a word was said in the other place. The report of the debate there covers only a page of Hansard. What sense is there in wasting the time of the Senate and heaving charges broad cast? Let honorable senators opposite throw their charges at their own Leader, and their own colleagues in the other House who supported this Bill. The Labour Government in Queensland brought about the position which necessitates Government assistance, and now members of the Labour party propose to go on the public platform and denounce the bounty. They want to have the argument both ways. They are much like the American salesman in “Why Smith Left Home,” who sold Bibles from one end of a platform and playing cards from the other. Witnesses from their own ranks have testified that the position of the pastoralists is deplorable, that men are being “ sacked,” and that the only way to re-open the meat work3 is to* pass this Bill. Why do they not pillory Mr. Forde ? If I were permitted to refer to the speeches made in another place, T could ram one charge after another down the throats of the men who are wasting the time of the Senate and the country. It is about time we got down to the level of »sanity. When members of the Labour party go on to the public platform to denounce the “beef barons,” we shall be there also, and shall make some disclosures about their colleagues in another place.
.- The words of Senator Lynch call- for some explanation. I am as anxious as any man not to introduce uncalled-for personalities. He gave as a’ reason for voting for the Bill that -Queensland Labour legislation had so impoverished the beef barons -that it was necessary to give them a bounty. He complained about the criticism from this side. When I say something that hurts, and is meant to hurt, Senator Lynch squeaks. . It has been shown in practice that bounties do not work according +o the theory in regard to them. Recently Parliament passed an Iron and Steel Bounty Bill. Most people were in favour of it. Senator Crawford waa ungenerous to me when he alleged that I was silent when that Bill went through. I have always opposed bounties, whether granted for the benefit of New South Wales or not. I can base my present argument upon what happened’ when we gave a bounty to the New South Wales Iron Works. As. soon as the Broken Hill Proprietary obtained the bounty they threw their employees out of work.
– The firm of Hoskins also participated in the bounty.
– I do not say that the Broken Hill Proprietary received the whole of the bounty, but as they employed the largest staff of men, they had the greatest opportunity to earn the bounty. No sooner had they been granted a protective Tariff to stop iron coming from England, and a bounty on its production here, than they set to work to reduce wages. They threw all their hands . out of work for several months. That was the effect ‘of the iron bounty granted to New South Wales.
– Was it not the effect of the big fall in the price of steel ?
– I suppose it will be said that there will be a big drop in the price of beef. These people can regulate the rise and fall of prices. As soon as they have a bounty granted to them they say, “ Now we shall cut wages. We have the bounty, but we cannot keep going unless the men accept less wages.” That is what the Broken Hill Proprietary Company deliberately did. The amount of employment that is involved by the granting of the bounty is a trivial matter. The Minister (Senator Crawford) stated, that the bonus would be paid with respect to 250,000 head of cattle. I suppose that a good Queensland beast would weigh 720 lbs. ,
– They would not average that weight.
– I think that that would be a fair average. The bonus on 250,000 head of cattle would amount to a considerable sum, but, apart from the employment aspect, it should be remembered that, if “the Queensland pastoralists and the meat works so badly manage their business that it is necessary for the Commonwealth to come to their assistance, it is a very excellent reason why the Labour party’s platform in favour of State management should” be adopted. At Lake?s Creek there are magnificent works, but the present proposal will give very little real assistance to the’ industry. It is a mistake . to pauperise the pastoralists; they should be encouraged to stand on their own feet rather than lean on the State. I am afraid that they will be inclined to1 “ go slow,” and that, instead of relying on their own efforts, they will be inclined to say, “We had better not exhaust ourselves ,when returns come so easily by asking our representatives to get the Federal Parliament to subsidize us.” These people want the National Parliament to subsidize them, and the present Government asks Parliament to exceed its constitutional functions by “passing the hat around,” to help a particular industry. Senator McHugh put the case excellently when he pointed out that if Parliament granted a bonus on beef it could, just as consistently, be asked to subsidize the wheat farmers in South Australia if wheat-growing became an unprofitable industry in that State. Owing to the competitive system, under which “dog eats dog,” shipping rings compete with meat rings, and meat rings compete with the people, industry generally is not in a very happy position. I am glad to know that the Minister admits the failure of the system. He now tells us that the capitalists desire a bounty because they cannot carry on without it. I find, on the other hand, that the pastoral industry is a very profitable one. I suppose that the number of people in the pastoral industry who die rich is greater than in any other two industries combined. Bigger probate duties have been paid on the estates, of deceased pastoralists than on the estates of any others. One cannot think of this industry without recollecting the huge fortune left by the late Sir Samuel McCaughey. Sir Sydney Kid. man, of South Australia, is another very wealthy man. I do not say that such men do not deserve the wealth that they have accumulated, and I do not blame them for having taken full advantage of the present industrial system. Perhaps they have taken risks that others would not have cared to take, and have pioneered country where others would have hesitated to venture. I do not think’ that the position will be as bad as the Minister has suggested it will be if the Bill is not passed. The amount now asked for is not great; but if a mistaken public give the Government a greater majority on the next appeal to the people a bigger subsidy may be demanded. The Minister should not suggest that an honorable senator who opposes the Bill is an opponent of the interests . of the Labour party. If legislative action is needed at all it should be taken by the State Parliaments. This is certainly not a proper function of the Commonwealth Parliament. A bonus of this description should not be paid out of the hard-earned money of the workers. All the loss dim to the depression in the meat business has not been borne by those engaged in the industry. The greatest sufferers are the men who toil week in and week out. The lower purchasing power of money is felt most acutely by the working section. When times are not as prosperous as usual there is no less butter or sugar on the tables of the “rich, but the working class do feel t the “ pinch “ in that way. ( Two-thirds of the- revenue of the Commonwealth is col lected directly from the workers, and. the remaining third is contributed by them in an indirect way. If the party opposite stressed .one claim more than another for the support of the people at the last elections, it was that it was determined not to interfere with private business; yet it now proposes to break down the independence of the cattle-owners and those engaged in the meat industry by subsidizing them. There is really- not much, difference between the Minister (Senator Crawford) and myself in this matter. He is a Socialist, but only when Queensland interests are at stake, and when we are asked to consider bananas, sugar, .and beef.
– He is a tropical Socialist.
– A very happy designation. The Minister desires the bounty to be paid in the sub-tropical part of Australia only, which is one-third the total area of this country.
– I believe New South Wales grows more bananas than Queensland.
– Yes, and better ones too. Since the Ministerial party has been “ helping “ producers by means of protective duties, it has almost driven the banana growers off the land. I can produce a newspaper statement to the effect that farms in New South Wales that were worth £4,000 can now be bought for £400.
– That is due, not to protection, but to “ bunchy top “.
– There is not much difference between bounties and duties. While protective duties are supposed to build up industries in Australia, the proposed, bounty will result in cheaper beef in Great Britain. I wonder the Minister did not wave the flag of loyalty. The “crimson thread” of Queensland beef would have been an excellent “ stunt.” If the Bill is passed the cattle people will get this money before they market their beef. If that is not going the whole distance with the beef trust, then I do not understand the position. n
Question - That the clause stand as printed - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 - .
The rates of bounty payable under this Act shall be -
Senator McDOUGALL (New South Wales [6.7]. - Paragraph b reads -
In the case , of canned beef, one farthing per lb., calculated upon the weight of the fresh beef, from which . the canned beef is produced.
Will the Honorary Minister (Senator Crawford) explain the difference between the weight of fresh beef and canned beef ?
– I am not surprised at such an admission. It is acrime to pay a bounty on the quantity of fresh meat used when the weight of canned beef is so much less. If the proposal were to pay , a bounty on beef consumed in Australia I would support it, but as it is not I intend to oppose it. I presume the weight of the cans will also be included, and the exporters will be paid a much larger amount than that to which they are entitled.
.- Do I understand that this Bill will commit the taxpayers, to the payment of a bounty’ on every 100 lbs. of fresh beef used to produce 40 lbs. of canned beef for export?
– 100 lbs. of fresh beef, when boned and cooked, is reduced to 40 lbs. of canned beef. The bounty is paid on the weight of the fresh beef so used.
– The Government propose to pay a bounty on canned beef on the basis of the weight of the fresh beef used in its production. There is less waste in the preparation of fresh meat purchased in butchers’ shops than in the process ofcanning for export purposes. Are we to pay for. this waste ?
– The bones are removed.
– Are we paying a bounty on the bones?
– I presume the boneswill remain the property of those who receive the bounty ?
– We do not pay on the waste, but on what is actually exported, and in making our calculations, 40 lbs. of canned beef is regarded as equal to 100 lbs. of fresh beef.
– We pay on the quantity actually exported ?
– That is not the explanation previously given.
– The paragraph is quite clear.
– The . Minister’s statement is contradictory.
– In calculating the bounty, 100 lbs. of fresh beef is estimated to produce 40 lbs. of canned beef. The bounty is paid on the quantity of fresh beef.
– A moment ago the Minister said it was paid on the quantity exported. Why does not the Minister say what he means ? Is the bounty to be paid on the quantity of fresh meat used in producing the canned beef?.
– We now understand that the bounty is to be paid on the quantity of fresh meat delivered, and not on the weight of the canned meat actually produced and exported.
– A few moments ago the Honorary Minister (Senator Crawford) informed the Committee that 100 lbs. of fresh beef were required to produce 40 lbs. of canned beef.
– The suppliers will receive a bounty on the quantity of fresh meat delivered, and not on the quantity of canned meat produced from it.
– That is so.
– Then they will be receiving more than they are entitled to.
– The paragraph does not appear to be at all clear. I move -
That the words “one farthing” be left out, with a viewto insert in lieu thereof the words “ one halfpenny,” and that all the words after “ lb.” in paragraph b be left out.
If my proposal is adopted the exporters willthen be paid on the weight of canned beef exported. Such an amendment may not meet with the approval of the canners and exporters ; but the Honorary Minister (Senator Crawford) may so adjust the details that the position will balance. It is a simple method of making the paragraph clear, and it is one which the Minister should accept.
– I thank Senator Gardiner for his suggestion, but I cannot accept it. The clause as it stands is. quite a clear and equitable arrangement.
.- I support the amendment submitted by Senator Gardiner, because I think an importantprinciple is involved, and, besides, a fairly large amount of money is at stake.
– What will be gained by it except that it will reduce the bounty?
– I want to move later that the bounty be¾d. per lb. on the canned meat for export. Under paragraph b the bounty payable will be calculated upon the weight of the fresh beef from which the canned beef is produced, not on the weight of the canned meat exported. The Senate is committed to the principle of the bounty,’ and as I believe in the rule of the majority, I submit to that decision, but we should clearly’ understand what is proposed to be done. The bounty payable under paragraph b should be onthe weight of the canned meat exported, and we now ask the Minister to agree to an alteration of the paragraph with a view to substituting ah amount which will be equivalent to that which will be paid under the paragraph as it stands. I hope the Minister will accept the amendment.
– I had intended to move to strike out the paragraph altogether, as in my judgment it will open the door to collusion and fraud. Senator Gardiner’s amendment is a straight-out, definite proposition. We contend that if the bounty is to be paid it should be on the actual product exported. I intend to support the amendment.
– I have no desire to force my amendment to a division. The Minister would be well advised to accept it. After all there is not much difference between my amendment’ and the Government proposal, but as I am doubtful about the correctness of his estimate that 40 lbs. of canned beef will represent 100 lbs. of fresh meat, I think it would be as well to make sure.
– What is to be gained by amending the paragraph ?
– We should be quite sure as to the manner in which the payments will work out. If we were’ handling our own money we would insist upon the position being clearly defined. In this case we are handling public money, and, therefore, we should be especially careful as to the terms under which the bounty may be paid. My suggestion is a reasonable one. It will simplify the position, and should commend itself to the Minister.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Gardiner’s amendment) be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 (To whom bounty payable).
– This clause provides -
The bounty, in the case of standard beef produced from cattle bought by the exporter by weight, shall be payable to the vendor of the cattle.
The intention is that the bounty must be paid to the grower, and not to the middlemen or speculators. But there is a proviso which reads as, follows: -
Provided that if the exporter satisfies the Department that he has paid to the vendor of the cattle a price which includes the amount of the bounty, the bounty shall be payable to the exporter.
That proviso, it seems to me, leaves a loophole for evading the intention of the clause. I should like to know how the Departments are to be satisfied that the amount paid to the vendor by the exporter actually includes the bounty. If extra prime meat brings 10s. per 100 lbs. over the average price, the exporter, or whoever buys it, may assert that the extra price includes the bounty, which should not, therefore, go to the vendor.
– As a rule, the meat works purchase cattle at so much per 100 lbs. weight, and advance the amount of the bounty to the vendor, recouping themselves afterwards when they collect the bounty. This provision was in the Bill passed last session, and I understand that there has been no complaint in regard to the way in which it has operated. The bounty is paid under the supervision of the Department. If the vendors had not got the benefit of the bounty numerous complaints would have been made.
– The honorable senator is certain that the vendors will get the benefit of the bounty?
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 (Bounties may be paid in advance of export).
– I want an explanation from the Minister on this clause. It provides that once meat is put into cold storage the bounty is payable, but I cannot see why the bounty should be paid before the meat is exported. In no other case where a bounty has been paid by the Commonwealth Government has money been advanced before the article has been made. The people engaged in the iron industry had to prove that they had produced so much iron before they could get the bounty on iron production. I realize that security must be ‘given that if the meat on which a bounty has been paid is not exported the money advanced as bounty shall be returned, but there are many ways of overcoming that difficulty. I must oppose this clause, because it would be a bad precedent to pay a bounty in advance of export.
– If the beef is not exported within a certain period no bounty is payable. In any case, it is not correct to say that the bounty is payable before the article is produced. The meat must be in cold storage, or in tins, and proper security must be given for a refund if the product on which bounty is paid is not exported. It is not possible to get the beef away as rapidly as it is treated at the meat works. If it were not for this provision owners of cattle might be obliged to wait several months for the bounty.
– Why could not the banks help them?
– They would have to pay interest to the banks.
– That is so; and already some of the pastoralists have as much accommodation as the banks are prepared to let them have.
– I do not approve of this clause, because it is so contrary to the way in which the wheat farmers were treated. Many wheat farmers who put their wheat into pools, controlled by Governments, Federal and State, five or six yearsago, have not yet been paid in full for their wheat.
– The wheat far- mers were given an immediate advance.
– They have waited years to receive payment for ‘their wheat. Yet when a wealthy meat trust declares that it is about to export meat, the present Government tell them that they need not wait to do so, but can have the bounty at once.
– Not for the full amount.
– It is bad business even to make an advance of portion of the money before the goods are delivered.
– The pastoralists will have delivered the goods; their cattle will be at the meat works when the bounty is payable.
– All I can say is that this “business Government” is transacting business in a way that is repugnant to my ideas of how business should be conducted.. . Would it give the fruit-growers of Tasmania an advance on their fruit when put on board ship? Would it pay an advance to wheatgrowers when their wheat was put on board ship?
– The wheatgrowers received an advance on delivery of their wheat at railway station.
– I am waiting to see it done during this season, but the Government will do very little for the wheat-growers. They have guaranteed a price which they know is well below what wheat will fetch in the world’s market, but if they follow the policy of paying cash for goods before they are delivered they will soon lose their claim to be regarded as a business Administration.
– I am satisfied with the Minister’s explanation. Apparently, the banks could advance money to the pastoralists, but as they would require interest on their advances the Government are to come in and, without payment, act as wet-nurse to the pastoralists.
– Do I understand that the Minister may please himself as to whether he shall give the bounty to all of the applicant’sor none of them?
– That is so. The clause says, “ if the Minister thinks fit.”
– Surely it is a very wide discretion to give the Minister. If the bounty is to be paid in one case why should it not be paid in all cases? We have been told that the bounty is to be granted to the industry, and to those engaged in it, for a specific purpose; but if the Minister so wills, it may be withheld.
– That provision is to meet specific cases.
– Can the Minister give any specific case in connexion with the bounty paid last year where such power was exercised? If not, why is it now intended that the Minister should have this power? The honorable senator should offer some justification for this provision. Did not the Act work as anticipated by the framers ? What is the real reason for such a clause?
– So that the pastoralists who are entitled to the bounty may not be unnecessarily deprived of payment.
– Is it to provide against delay in payment?
– A shipment might be delayed.
– If that is the sole reason why this discretionary power is to be vested in the Minister, T. have no objection to the clause.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 9 and 10 agreed to.
A return setting forth -
the names of all persons to whom bounty is paid under this Act;
the amounts of all such bounty;, and
such other particulars as are prescribed, shall be laid before both Houses of the Parliament within thirty days after the expiration of the present financial year, if the Parliament is then sitting, and, if not, then within thirty days after the next meeting of the Parliament.
.- I wish to ask the Minister (Senator Crawford) whether a return such as is prescribed in this clause was presented to
Parliament in connexion with the bounty paid last year? If not, what is the reason for this provision?
– The return prescribed will be presented to Parliament to-morrow.
– When application is made for an invalid or old-age pension. the applicant has to. supply very minute information in order to entitle him to the relief for which he asks. It appears to me that sub-clause a of this clause should be amended. I move -
That after the word “ persons,” in line 2, the words and the area and unimproved and improved value of the land owned or leased by them “ be inserted.
– The clause has no reference to land values or areas held, and I rule that the amendment is out of order.
– Theclause provides that any one who receives the bounty shall disclose his name, and I presume he will also be required to disclose his address. In my opinion an amendment to provide that applicants shall also disclose the area and the value of the land, both unimproved and improved, held by them, and whether it is owned or leased by them, should be in order.
– I rule that the amendment is foreign to the subjectmatter of the Bill, and, . therefore, is out of order.
– I desire to dissent from your ruling, Mr. Chairman.
– The honorable senator will submit his dissent in writing.
In the Senate:
– I have to report, Mr. President, that in Committee, Senator Grant moved to amend clause 11 of the Bill by adding after the word “ persons,” line 2, the words “ and the area and unimproved and improved value of the land owned or leased by them.” I ruled that the amendment was irrelevant to the subjectmatter of the Bill, and, therefore, out of order. The honorable senator has challenged my ruling on the grounds that “ it is desirable to have this information disclosed before the clause is agreed to.”
– The amendment is so obviously irrelevant to the- subject-matter of the Bill as to be entirely out of order. I uphold the Chairman’s ruling.
- Mr. President, I desire to dissent from your ruling.
– If the honorable senator desires to dissent from my ruling, he must submit his dissent in writing.
– I submit my dissent in writing as follows : - “ I dissent from the ruling of the Chair on the ground That it is desirable to have full and complete information before a decision is arrived at in regard to the lands held by the applicants ‘.” I wish to say-
– Order! The honorable senator is not entitled to discuss the matter now unless the . Senate so decides. The Standing Orders provide that, unless the Senate otherwise decides, a motion to dissent from the President’s ruling must stand over for discussion until the next day of sitting. The honorable senator will submit his motion, and unless the Senate otherwise determines it will be set down for consideration on the next day of sitting.
– I move -
That the ruling of the President be dissented from on the following ground - “ That it is desirable to have full and complete information before a decision is arrived at in regard to the lands held by the applicants.”
– In . accordance with Standing order 429, which provides that “ unless the Senate, decides on motion without debate that the question requires immediate attention’, the debate on a motion of this kind shall be adjourned to the next day of sitting. I move -
That the question of dissenting from the ruling of the President requires immediate consideration.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The names of all persons and the area and unimproved and improved value of the land owned or leased by them to whom the bounty is paid underthis Act.
We were informed during the debate-
Every amendment must be relevant to the question to which it is proposed to be made.
It does not matter whether the information which Senator Grant seeks to obtain is desirable. That is not the question. The question is whether such an amendment would be relevant to this Bill. The Bill does not deal with the land question. It does not deal with the unimproved values of land. It deals solely with the payment of a bounty on beef for export, and the particular clause that was under consideration provides only for a return setting forth certain particulars. It is obvious that any amendment must be relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill and that the return which Senator Grant seeks to obtain, however desirable it may be, is not relevant. There are plenty of opportunities for Senator Grant to move for such a return. The Standing Orders do not prevent him from moving in a proper way, but they say that he can only move an amendment where it is relevant. Even by the longest stretch of the imagination it is not relevant to the clause under consideration.
Any amendment may be made to any part of the Bill, provided the same be relevant to the subject-matter, of the Bill, and be otherwise in conformity with the -Rules and Orders of the Senate.
The subject-matter of the Bill we have been discussing is the payment of a bounty to those who deliver cattle to the exporter for export, and that is the whole of its subject-matter. Senator Gardiner, who is usually very lucid, has erred by stating the fact, as an argument in support of his contention that the ruling was not correct, that old-age pensioners have to furnish certain information. Under the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, only certain people are entitled to an oldage pension.
Original question resolved in the negative.
SenatorMcHUGH (South Australia) [8.49]. - I should like to give notice of a further amendment, as follows : -
That the following new paragraph be inserted : - .
the amount of income earned by all persons to whom this bounty is paid,
I think that such an amendment would come within the ambit of the Bill. The people of Australia are entitled to know the names of the people to whom the bounty is paid, and the amount of their income. We have no moral right to hand out gratuities to men who’ do not require them. The Government is parsimonious enough when paying out old-age pensions.
– I was about to rule the amendment out of order, but intended to give the honorable senator an opportunity to conclude his remarks. I rule that the amendment would be out of order.
– In view of your decision, Mr. Chairman, I do not intend to pursue the matter.
– Would it not be an improvement to insert, after the word “ persons,” the words “ or companies “ ?
– Under the Acts Interpretation Act, “ persons “ includes “ companies.”
Clause agreed to.
Clause 12 agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported, without amendment; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 25th July (vide page 1547), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That the papers (Imperial Conference and Economic Conference 1923 - Subjects listed for discussion) be printed.
– In addressing myself to this subject, which was dealt with most ably by the Minister (Senator Pearce) a few evenings ago, I am somewhat at a loss to know what advantage can accrue from a discussion of it; but as this branch of the Legislature has equal rights with the other Chamber in every matter that comes before Parliament it would, perhaps, be discourteous to the Minister, and discourteous also to the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), if the motion were not debated. I do not know whether it would be in order to make any lengthy reference to the views expressed by the Prime Minister, and, if not, I shall confine myself to what Senator Pearce has said. Knowing how closely the lines are drawn in regard to references to debates in another place, I am doubtful as to how far I may go with safety, although I have no intention of saying anything of an offensive nature concerning the Prime Minister. However, I had better wait until I reach that bridge before I attempt to cross it. The Prime Minister should have put the subject of the Imperial Conference before the Parliament in sucha way as to enable him to obtain from it an expression of opinion to guide him as to the attitude he should adopt at the Conference. I take it, however, that, no matter what discussion may ensue, the Prime Minister will act at the Conference in exactly the same way as he would have acted if there had been no discussion at all. I cannot imagine anybody in his position being in any -way influenced by what others may say. His views are the matured judgments of a gentleman who has risen to the high position of Prime Minister, and I assume that he will go to the Imperial Conference imbued with the idea that his special business is to put the best case for Australia that can be stated. He will naturally consider that the best case he can put is that which he, uninfluenced by the opinions’ of others, believes to be best. Therefore, I am somewhat at a loss to know why this discussion has been initiated. I realize that the Prime Minister is to* be the representative of Australia at the Conference, and that as we are the representatives of the people of Australia, he has placed the agenda of the Conference before us. Had it been submitted to us in such a way that we could offer suggestions as to what matters ought to be discussed, and add subjects for consideration, some good might have resulted from this debate. The forthcoming Conference is not by any means the first, and I hope that it will be by no means the last, because, no matter what our opinions may be regarding Britain, Australia, or the Empire, there cannot be any other view than that while Australia is part of the Empire, the more frequently these Conferences are called, and the more closely we get into touch with the other parts of the Empire, the better for all concerned. One sad aspect of the discussion so far is that, although on the 11th November next it will be five years since the Armistice that led to the peace between the Allied Powers and their enemies was signed, the Conference, if I am to judge by the speeches of the Prime Minister, Senator Pearce, and others, will give pride of place to the discussion of matters of war. Doubtless, these are very fascinating subjects. In the Prime Minister’s statement there was a remarkable expression of opinion, and I take this opportunity early in my remarks of saying that it’ should not have been uttered. We were told, so far as I remember, that Australia must be either in the Empire, and with Britain in her wars, or else we must be out of the Empire altogether. Statements of that nature are very pernicious. I could understand that view being enter- tained by a man imbued with the idea that Australia had grown, up. to nationhood, and had been admitted to full partnership in the British Empire, which possibly is the most warlike nation that has ever existed. The Prime Minister has told us that, as a component, part of the British Empire, we must participate in all its wars, and, I take it, play the man in them, or as an alternative we must get cut of the Empire. To me that is a most obnoxious proposition. I venture to say that the events leading up to the last” war and the war itself were not responsible for the remarkable display of loyalty on the part of Australia. The loyalty of the Commonwealth which offered 400,000 men voluntarily, and sent 350,000 of them to the various fighting fronts of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Europe, was a plant of slow growth, fostered by the selfgoverning privileges which we had enjoyed for so many years. The war wasmerely the occasion that made it articulate. It provided the opportunity for individuals in this community to take their stand side by side with the people of other nations that comprise our Empire.
– There must have been some reason for the loyalty of Australia in the war. -
– Of course there were very fine and good reasons for that remarkable display of loyalty, and I have no doubt that if Senator Payne were in my place he would attempt to set them out. “Unfortunately, my time is limited. It is not possible for me to «*& into an analysis concerning the exact reason for that marvellous display of loyalty and enthusiasm on the part of Australia. But I do want to say that that loyalty was not created by the war, nor was it necessarily the outcome of the war. As Australians, we abhor war and all that it means, and we would be better pleased if war problems were not to be discussed at the forthcoming Imperial Conference.
– How can we avoid doing so at the present time 1
– It would be better if the Imperial Conference set aside all discussions on past, or the possibility of future, wars, and Empire solidarity, especially if many of the delegates were in our Prime Minister’s frame of mind, and declared, in effect, that we must be with the Empire in all wars, or get out of the Empire altogether.
– Would not “ defence “ be a better word to use ?
– I want to say, and in my own way, that utterances of this kind are too narrow for the Australian people. It may be easy for gentlemen of the calibre of our Prime Minister, or of Mr. Baldwin, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, to mould the sentiment of people along lines which they direct. In my judgment, the spirit of loyalty must be encouraged naturally along lines of individual and national freedom. Artificial methods and flag-waving are at best doubtful expedients. “Already many of the prominent newspapers of the Commonwealth are endeavouring to read into the remarks of the Leader of my party in another place (Mr. Charlton) sentiments of disloyalty, based upon some chance word which he may have uttered. Imperial Conferences cannot mould public opinion in the Dominions in the direction of Empire loyalty. If a people are allowed to develop in their own way, and without coercion, they will when- occasion demands give freely of their very best in the common cause. When the call came, Australia gave very much more than was expected of her. , And now these moulders and fashioners of Empire loyalty on right lines come along in an endeavour to persuade us that they can make a better job of the business of Empire building than old Nature did. They are going to lay down hard-and-fast lines for the development of this spirit of patriotism which, when directed into the proper channels, according to their method of reasoning, may, when occasion warrants, be turned on just as we draw water from a tap. I am very much afraid, however, that they will make a very bad job of the business. I have no doubt whatever that those who attend the Imperial Conference will be imbued with a whole-hearted desire to do their best for the Empire; but I am afraid that the effects of their deliberations, spread over a term of years, will prove far from beneficial. I listened with a great deal of attention to Senator Pearce when he spoke on this subject about a fortnight ago. He told us of his experiences at the 1911 Conference; and when I asked him whether the British representatives were able to give the Conference a good tip as to when the then threatened war would commence, he ad mitted that they did. It seems that they were able to say exactly in what year the war would commence. I would not have thought much of them if they had not been able to give that information, and I know that Senator Pearce really believes that their calculations* were based on the time it would take Germany to get ready to strike. It has occurred to me that possibly they were really basing their calculations on the time it would take for the Empire to be ready.
– The unpreparedness of the Empire when the war broke out is an effective answer to the honorable senator’s suggestion.
– It is nonsense for the Minister to say that the Empire was not prepared for war. Britain was very well prepared. At all .events, her Navy was in just as efficient a condition as was the German Army at the outbreak of hostilities.
– Great Britain, at that time, did not have a single high explosive shell.
– But Britain muddled through, as she has muddled through all her wars. I am not saying this disparagingly of Great Britain. No one will deny that Britain under-estimated the magnitude of the task before her ; but, with that “ tenacity characteristic of Tommy Atkins, she hung on long enough to complete her preparations and win through. On this question of preparedness for war, I want to quote from a very high authority - no less, indeed, than Lord Fisher - to show that the British Navy, at all events, was ready for war, and anticipated when it was likely to occur. From 1904 to 1912, Lord Fisher was preparing the Navy on the basis of a two-power standard to defend Great Britain against all possible aggressors. He was a most outspoken gentleman. There was no “beg-pardon “ about Lord Fisher. He knew what he was doing, and when, during the war, he was recalled to the Admiralty, he was able to justify his programme for the provision of new vessels to uphold Britain’s supremacy. I venture to say that when all the details of his work become known, most people will be astounded at what that great man was able to accomplish.
– I think it is admitted that the Navy was ready. Thank God, it was.
– But the Navy is a defensive weapon.
– For the information of honorable senators, I quote an extract from a letter, written by Lord Fisher to his friend, Lord Esher, on the 2nd April, 1912. In that letter, he makes a remarkable statement - remarkable in the light of what we know now -
I owe more than I can say to McKenna. I owe nearly as much to Winston for scrapping a dozen admirals on 5th December last, so as to get Jellicoe second in command of the Home Fleet. If the war comes before 1914, then Jellicoe will be Nelson at the Battle of St. Vincent. If it comes in 1914, he will be Nelson at Trafalgar.
There is no mistaking the significance of that statement written in 1912 by a man who knew more about the British Navy and about what it was doing than any other person in Great .Britain, not excepting even the Minister in charge. That statement was more than prophecy. It showed clearly enough that Lord Fisher was not only ready but willing to strike. He wanted to “Copenhagen” the German fleet.
– He knew what we were told at the Conference, namely, that Germany would be ready to strike in 1914.
– And he wanted to do as Nelson did. He wanted to anticipate that event. I am not going to say that there was not a good deal of wisdom in that policy, but I would prefer even all the suffering that we have gone through to the loss of national honor, and of that reputation for fair dealing which Great Britain has enjoyed all through the centuries. Senator Pearce told us that the Conference of 1911 was advised that Germany would be ready to strike in 1914, and I have shown, by an extract from Lord Fisher’s letter to his friend Lord Esher, that “n December of 1911 the Admiralty had scrapped a dozen British admirals in order that Lord Admiral Jellicoe should be in the right place when the war broke out. In- view of these facts that have come to light since the war, I am beginning to wonder if, sometimes, wars are specially arranged for special purposes, and whether there ‘may not be something more in certain events than we poor uninformed individuals, living thousands of miles away, know of.
– But Lord Fisher did not say that Great Britain would be the aggressor.
– The honorable senator cannot get me into an argument as to who was the aggressor in the Great War. To my mind the Democracy of Germany and the Democracy of Britain were equally at fault. From 1909 to 1914 the British Democracy was growing most impatient at the existing order of things, and the Kaiser knew that if the pending elections in Germany followed the lines of the 1910 elections, the rule of the then governing classes in Germany would be at an end. Therefore, I jump ‘to the conclusion at. once that his policy was to feed the people on something that would take them away from home politics, and lead them off the track of benefiting the masses. And so it, came about that the classes provided a war for both nations, in which the best blood was poured out, enthusiasm was stirred to its utmost, both sides branded each other as the greatest criminals on earth - men cannot be got to fight for any length of time unless they are fed on falsehood and misrepresentation - and we saw manhood at its very worst. There is now to be another Conference, at which the chief subject for discussion will be preparation for war. Senator Pearce told us that at the 1911 Conference Mr. Asquith, in effect, asked Sir Joseph Ward, “Are you prepared to have an Imperial Army and an Imperial Navy? “’ At that time, the Dominions were not prepared for this, and no greater mistake could be made by Mr. Bruce than for him to think that the patriotism of the people of Australia will permit them to be led into an agreement to share in the maintenance and upkeep of an Imperial Navy. I know that some will say that Australia has grown in strength, wealth, and importance, and that, as a nation, we are too big to permit Great Britain to protect us. But, as a matter, of fact, Australia, in proportion to its population, is spending more money in developing the Empire than are the people of Great Britain. Senator Pearce- has told us that before the war we were spending on defence 19s. 5d. per head of the popula- tion, and that the figure has now been reduced to 17s. 3d. But what about the hundreds of millions of pounds the Commonwealth, and the self-governing States have spent, since Captain Phillip landed at Port Jackson, to help to make this continent a mighty strong outpost of the British Empire? We have paid honestly for every shilling we have borrowed from the people on the other side of the water to help in this great work of development. It is a charge that does not fall upon the people of Great Britain. The developmental burden which has now made Australia so strong that it can . be reckoned with when the Empire is in trouble is not included in the defence list quoted by Senator Pearce. What were the other parts of the Empire doing to defend themselves before 1913? The . Empire would have been in an infinitely better position had they been doing what Australia was doing. I can remember my tingle of pride when Senator Pearce told us how H.M.A.S. Melbourne and Sydney, paid for by the people of Australia, had been engaged, at one period of the war, in defending the coastline and shipping of Canada. I was proud of the fact, not only as an Australian, but also as a Briton. Australia has always been prepared to do its own share of defence preparations; no greater mistake could be made than for Empire builders to take a short cut in their construction work and declare that there shall be an Imperial Navy to which there should be pro rata contributions from the various portions of the Empire, and that a naval base must be established at Singapore, towards the cost of which, for its own protection, Australia should subscribe. When the Labour party were contemplating the building of an Australian Navy in 1909, our opponents were branding us as disloyal. “An Australian Navy!” they said scornfully, “ The Labour party only want to build it so that in time of trouble they may turn the guns of the fleet upon the Motherland.” That was ‘ the statement of a man who is still a member of another place.
– The men who made that statement are no longer in this Parliament.
– Sir Elliot Johnson, who is still a very prominent figure in public life, said, on the pub lic platform, that the Labour party wanted to build battleships so that in time of trouble they could turn their guns upon the Motherland. If I mistake not there is an idea that Australia must contribute towards an Imperial naval base at Singapore, just as when we talked of building ships, Sir Joseph Cook, the Leader of the old Liberal party, said, “ We nail our flag to the mast of a British subsidy.” But when the question was submitted to the people, the policy of the Australian Labour party to prepare for Australia’s defence, and build an Australian Navy, was indorsed, and its wisdom was proved a hundredfold when war came upon us. A contribution by Australia to the maintenance of a naval base at Singapore would be nothing more than a subsidy to the British Navy. Senator Pearce was quite right in saying that we cannot build battleships to defend our immense coast line, because they cost so much; but, looking at the problem from an Imperial point of view, shutting Australia out for the moment, now that Great Britain has limited the number of her battleships, and the other classes of vessels she can build, is there any wisdom in dividing the British Navy ? I think that, under the Washington Treaty, Great Britain is allowed five capital ships to France’s three, Italy’s three, and Japan’s three. If a naval base is established at Singapore, it must lead to a division of Britain’s naval strength, and the chances are that a weak Navy will be left to defend the base without a population, such as we have in Australia, behind it, to render any assistance. After the recent war, we are all experts in naval matters. We can all speak as men who know what ought to be done, and know exactly how it should be done! Therefore, I do not hesitate to give my view upon this question. I would not have much confidence in a military commander who, in an attempt to take a strong position, instead of using all the available forces he could send with safety into the attack, started off by attacking with one division to-day, another division to-morrow, and still another division on the third day, leaving important reserves uncalled upon. I should prefer a man who made use of the full strength at his disposal. Great Britain has to keep its agreement under the Washington Treaty, and I think we are all reasonably proud of the fact that it has led the way in scrapping what vessels, under the agreement, had to be scrapped. But, nevertheless, the fact remains that its naval power has been whittled down, and there is absolutely no opportunity for the British Navy. to divide itself at the present time. That is my judgment on the proposal to have a naval base at Singapore. One cannot work out at length the reasons on which one forms one’s judgment, but, briefly, the opinion that I put before Mr. Bruce in regard to the proposed naval base at Singapore is that the proposal is bad for two reasons. In the first place, it will serve to divide the Empire’s naval strength, and, in the second place, there will not be behind that base the population necessary to defend it, whereas such a population could be found . in Australia. The British Navy cleared the seas, and our Navy did its share in that work. Now I am told the Government propose to scrap the battle cruiser Australia. Great Britain is taking a lot of big risks at the present time, and were I a member of the present Australian Government, I would ask the British Admiralty to spare the Australia, and scrap a vessel similar to her, thus allowing us to maintain the sentiment responsible for her construction, and which will be lost the moment the Australia goes to the bottom or is broken up. By scrapping this vessel we may make our patriotism broader, but it cannot be anything but shallower. There is a strong Australian sentiment behind the idea of keeping intact our first battle cruiser that did so much for Australia.
– She is altogether out of date.
– But surely there are other British vessels out of dare that could be scrapped instead of her.
– All vessels that are of the age of the Australia and of an older date are now being scrapped.
– It only shows how useless it would be for 5,000,000 people to try to keep pace with naval shipbuilding. What was the very latest ‘ up-to-date battle cruiser in 1913 is of no use in 1923, and must be scrapped. If Great Britain has an even better cruiser unscrapped, cannot we ask the British Government to scrap it, rather than the Australia, because of the sentiment associated with the Australia in this country? I value sentiment among the people. It is something to be cultivated, and not thrust aside. It is a subtle something that we cannot see or lay a finger on; but, nevertheless, it is there, and if the Australia goes to the bottom of the sea, or if its plates are sold to various manufacturers, there will be nothing to replace in the hearts and minds of the people of Australia the sentiment that helped- to build the vessel. One gentleman has written to the press in a disparaging way, saying that the Australia never fired a shot; but, nevertheless, she was able to protect our cities because of the fact that her guns were bigger than those on the German vessels. The Premier of New Zealand has thanked the people of Australia for the protection afforded the Dominion by the Australia at the outbreak of the war. Suva was saved from attack by the German fleet because wireless messages made the German Admiral believe that the Australia was closer to him than she really was; and the track that the German squadron was obliged to take because the Australia had bigger guns than any on the German vessels threw them into the skilful hands of the British Admiral off the Falkland Islands. But all the sentiment attached to the Australia must vanish when that warship goes to the bottom of the sea. Hard-hearted men, with the military disposition, like Senator Pearce and Senator Drake-Brockman, may shake their heads at such a remark, but it is my sentiment, and I am speaking as I believe the average Australian would speak. This Conference will discuss naval matters, and if I can read between the lines, and perhaps, if the Conference is very foolish - we have only to read of the doings of the British Admiralty to realize that, although they had at their command a Navy sufficiently strong to clear the seas and protect Great Britain, they did not display any really great wisdom - it will probably adopt a programme in which Australia will be called upon, year in and year out, to contribute to a naval base at Singapore. Nothing could be worse for Australia, or for the Singapore Base itself. Its position would not be strategically sound. I venture to say that almost a permanent military force would be required to protect it.
– Such a force would be provided.
– I have no doubt that it will be there. No benefit could result from an arrangement with Britain to contribute year in and year out to the support of a Naval Base at Singapore, and its protection by a permanent military force. Australia would not be wise in entering into any such arrangement. It may be asked what can we do to protect our shores ‘? With my Leader, Mr. Charlton, I suggest that we can protect Australia by means of submarines and aeroplanes, but I still think the greatest protection for Australia is the establishment of factories for the manufacture of means of defence. Apart altogether from ties of kinship, and from the fact that we speak the same tongue, I contend that we have proved indisputably to Great Britain that . we are to be trusted in time of trouble. What a splendid asset to Great Britain is our trade connexion ! Senator Pearce stated that. we are_ Britain’s second-best customer, and soon, if allowed to properly develop, we shall be her best customer. But if we are to be t’ed to a naval agreement and to a permanent military arrangement, development will be retarded. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) stated - “If we are not with Great Britain in all her wars, we are not of the Empire.” Fallacies of that description should not be heard from Australian statesmen. We have not been in all Britain’s wars. We sent a few men to the Soudan scrimmage.
– Technically we were with Great Britain in all her -wars.
– It is to be regretted that men holding responsible positions, and expressing, as a hard and fast rule, the view that, if we are not with Great Britain in all her wars, we are better out of the Empire altogether, should represent Australia at the Imperial Conference. I object to that attitude. I venture to say chat Australia, self-reliant, self-contained, and developing with all the resources at her command, is by her trade assisting Great Britain more than she would do by contributing millions of money to a project such as the Naval Base at Singapore.
– If we are technically at war with Britain’s enemies, in the event of her defeat, where should we come in*
– I realize that we are technically at war with Britain’s enemies, and that in the event of her defeat we shall have to look out for squalls and prepare for defence. We did this during the war. It was Australia’s Fleet that kept our coast clear of the German South Pacific Fleet.
– Plus the British Navy.
– Plus the Australians who fought ‘ in the various theatres of war, and plus the British and Allied soldiers who joined together in one great cause. I do not believe for a moment that the Australian men- won the war, but measured by our strength, distance from the seat of war, and our wealth, even Britain herself could not claim to .have done more. This is proved by an analysis of the costs and losses occasioned by the war. At the Imperial. Conference the chief item for discussion will be war. This fascinating subject is always placed in the forefront. I am afraid, as the result of the Conference, that we shall be called upon to pay to Great Britain a subsidy which will fizzle out in ten years’ time, and leave us in a poorer and wiser condition . You can arouse the enthusiasm of the Australian people to build and man their own Fleet, and to prepare for battle, if need be, their own soldiers; but you cannot arouse any enthusiasm for the payment of a subsidy. It will be said that Australia wants all the advantages of the Empire without, paying for them. With a feeling of strong indignation, I reply that what Australia has received* from Great Britain has always been paid for handsomely .and well. Australians have developed this country. Whenever we build a railway of any magnitude the point is stressed that the money for it was loaned ‘by the Motherland; but it must be remembered that better interest for that loan was received than would have been obtained in Great Britain itself. It is quite a business deal . It would be very bad business, as bad as this ‘Government is capable of, to try to mix sentiment with business. - Either sentiment kills business, or business destroys sentiment.
– For how many years did Great Britain patrol our coasts without return?
– I do not know. I do not wish to return to the old days when Great Britain made of Australia a prison; when she starved, not only her prisoners, but their keepers as well. The statesmen of Great Britain in those days thought so much of Australia . that they made of it a prison. The money they paid for its upkeep was grudgingly given, and supplies from England generally arrived too late. Even the Governor himself felt the pinch. In spite of Great Britain, this country outgrew the purpose for which British statesmen thought it. useful, and it developed in such a way that it is to-day the most far-flung outpost of the British Empire. As stated by one of our own Governors, we developed in a way never dreamed of by British statesmen. Does any one deny that the railways running throughout the length and breadth of Queensland, making for her development, are not as important to the Empire as would be the money spent on forts and naval bases? Does any one deny that South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and New South Wales, with their huge development, have not helped in the building up of the British Empire?
– We have developed in our own interests.
– Of course.
Every benefit conferred upon Australia by Great Britain has been in her own interests. That is only natural. A lot of people decry the efforts of our fathers to develop this country, by continually referring to what we owe to Great Britain. I say that all we have borrowed we have repaid . The millions we have borrowed to make Australia a strong outpost of the British Empire have been amply repaid, and this fact should be given greater weight than statements concerning naval defence, by people who are responsible for the Government of this country.
– If it is proved that the fortification of the Singapore Base will provide Australia with an effective means of defence, will not the honorable senator support the proposal?
-If it can be proved that the establishment of the Singapore Naval Base is a better system of defence for Australia than that which I suggest, my mind is open to conviction. But there is a very keen diversity of opinion in the Old Country at present among those high in authority. Colonel A’Court Repington is an outspoken authority who wrote many works on the war, some of which 1 have had the good fortune to read. Even such an authority on military and naval matters as he undoubtedly is, is keenly against this proposal. Australia should defend herself. She has shown in the past that she is prepared to do this more effectively than is any other part of the Empire. In the early days, when British ships patrolled our coasts, we paid in proportion to what we thought we could afford) a subsidy to the British Government, which was miserable and inadequate. The British fleet defended, not only Australia, but also her trade with Great Britain, which was most important. I set more store and value upon the trade of Great Britain than I do upon the attitude of those gentlemen who want to fight for that country. From the speeches of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and Senator Pearce, I take it that Great Britain will be asked to grant preference to our products. Earl Beauchamp has reminded the Prime Minister already that it will be no use going to Great Britain to interfere in her domestic affairs.
SenatorBenny.- The honorable senator should not quote Earl Reaucbamp, because he was the man who telegraphed from Perth, when on his way to assume office as Governor of New South Wales, that New South Welshmen had turned their birthstain to good.
– He was then quite fresh from college, but his judgment has so matured subsequently as to warrant my quoting his statements with effect. Referring in the House of Lords to Australia’s desire for preference on dried fruits, Earl Beauchamp declared that if the demand were granted, Great Britain must denounce the Greek Convention. He hoped that Mr. Bruce, when pressing the ‘ Commonwealth’s claims, would not follow his predecessor’s example of interfering with Great Britain’s domestic concerns. Australia did not want British manufactures, which she was anxious to ban in order to develop her own industries. Think what we like of Earl Beauchamp, that is the weakness in our demand for preference. We have put a very heavy bar against British trade in Australia, the motive being to develop our secondary industries.
– We have given Great Britain preference
– I am endeavouring to show honorable members the preference we have given to British goods. We produce amongst other things, wheat, fresh fruits, dried fruits,, beef, tallow, butter and hides. In the future we shall produce cotton. We supply Great Britain’s needs in these commodities. We say to Great Britain that she should make’ it possible for us, by giving us preference, to compete with other nations in her markets. By so doing, Great Britain would impose a percentage fine upon herself. Some one stated that we were giving preference to Great Britain. I point out that that country manufactures bar, rod, angle, and tee iron, and we say that they shall pay 44s. duty on every ton of that iron they send to Australia. Is that preference? Do we give any preference to the British manufacturer of iron when we say to him that one-third of the cost of his iron at the works shall be added to it before he is allowed to sell it in Australia? Plain plate sheet iron up to and including 1-16 inch in thickness, is subject to a duty of 65s. a ton. We say to the manufacturer in Great Britain, whose operatives are producing these things, “You cannot compete with us in Australia, loyal as we are, unless a fine of 65s. a ton is paid by your goods.” I am not deceiving myself into believing that the English manufacturer pays the duty. I realize that Australians pay it. No. 16 or finer gauges of wire are taxed 20 per cent.; other gauges, 52s. a ton ; hoop iron, 70s. a ton ; plates, sheets, pipes, &c, 30 per cent. ; barbed wire, 68s. ; agricultural, horticultural, and viticultural machinery and implements, 20 per cent.
– What duty does American machinery of the same character pay?
– It seems to give a certain amount of pleasure to some people to say, “ Because we hit the other fellow harder, we are not hurting you.” I go as far as to say that those disloyalists who will not trade with Great Britain ought not to be allowed to hold seats in this Chamber. Chaffcutters, cultivators, ploughs and harrows - surely these are articles which their immigrants will need - are taxed 20 per cent. I do not mind Australians doing that to protect their own markets; but, having done it, they have, in good plain Australian, a “ pretty fair cheek” if they ask Great Britain to give them preference. Most honorable senators say that this policy of Protection is sound for the development of Australia. I do not mind such statements; but Australia’s representative should not go cap in hand to ask Great Britain for preference on what we produce. Stripperharvesters have to pay a penalty of 22^ per cent. - a fine of 22-J per cent, upon any Britisher who sends a stripper-harvester to this country ! Yet we go almost on our knees to Great Britain, and say, “ Shut out Russia from coming into competition with us in your wheat market, and the Argentine from competing with us in the meat market. Give us preference; we have given it to you.” We have deliberately framed a Tariff to build up our own industries without recourse to Great Britain, if we can avoid it. That may be a sound policy- I am not discussing it at the present moment - but I am discussing the consistency of a nation which, having done that, has the effrontery to go to Great Britain and say, ‘ “ Having tried to cripple your population, we ask you to make your people pay more for food and clothing, so that we may still further develop our country.” I find in the Tariff schedule many useful things of British manufacture which Great Britain has made and exported for centuries. They are things which we want badly. There are mowers, 30 per cent.; weighing machines, weighbridges, &c, 27^ per cent.; locomotives, portable engines, and road rollers, 27$ per cent.
– What about varnish ?
– The honorable senator reminds me that we shut out Great Britain’s good varnish, and accept her bad varnish. I now come to something which most of our people use) - British - manufactured tobacco. The tobacco manufacturers of that country have to import their leaf, manufacture it, pay freight on it, and sell it in Australia, and yet it is alleged that we cannot compete with them unless we impose a tax of 5s. 7d. per lb. Cigarettes are taxed11s. 6d. per lb., and cigars 11s. per lb. British workmen are producing these things, just as Australians are producing butter, wheat, and meat, but we say to them, “ You cannot trade in our country unless you pay these fines, and now we are sending a representative to your country with proposals to load you with further fines if you buy from any other country than ours.” If the people of Australia say that this policy is best for them, I submit to it, but not without trying to impress on them my view of the matter. If that question is decided by numbers, I am wrong, but I am certainly not wrong in saying that it is beneath the-dignity of a representative of Australia to ask the people of Great Britain to tax themselves for our products when we shut their manufactures out of our market. The contention that it is better for us does not make any difference. I could quote almost everything that is successfully produced in Great Britain. There are woollens, for which we grow the wool. We have, I believe, smarter workmen here than are to be found in Gref:t Britain; they are more alert and more active; but we say to the men who manufacture woollen, goods in Great Britain, “ For every £100 worth of your goods that you sell to Australia you shall pay a tax of £30.” The British manufacturer has to buy our wool,’ pay freight upon it to Great Britain, make it up into textiles, and pay the freight back here, and even then we are so afraid to meet ‘our British brother in competition that we place an impost of 30 per cent, upon him.
– And last year our imports of textiles were greater than ever.
– That is so; and that is why the Tariff is not protective. If it were a Protective Tariff, it would not allow the goods to come in. Wool felt hats, in any stage of manufacture, pay 15s. a dozen; fur felt hats, in any stage of manufacture, 24s. a dozen; apparel for the human body, partly or wholly made up, 40 per cent. Great Britain, after centuries of development, can make these articles well, and wants to sell them in our markets, but we say, “ You must pay £40 for every £100 before we shall permit you to soil.” I do not object to Australians putting Australia first. I recognise that there is a great weight of public opinion behind the policy of Protection, but I can see the selfishness of it. Can the two positions be right? Can we refuse to accept the products of Great Britain and honestly and straightforwardly ask that country to give us preference? [Extension of time granted.]
I have tried to speak as an Australian who wants Australia to be represented at the Imperial Conference in a way that will not be beneath Australia’s dignity, and in a way of which Australians will be proud. I certainly do not want us to ask from Britishers what we are not prepared to give to them. We are not prepared to trade with Britain for goods which we can make ourselves. That is regarded as a sound Protectionist policy. Our British sentiment and brotherhood do not extend to trading, but only to fighting. We. say, “ Our men and our ships shall fight side by side with yours, and your flag shall wave over us, but we will not trade with you.” Some people are So loyal to Great Britain that they will not allow the Australian flag to wave over them. I prefer the Australian flag, because, as Senator Pearce has so aptly stated, it is more of an Empire flag than is the Union Jack. It consists of the Union Jack and the stars of Australia. Trade and war will be the chief matters discussed at the Conference, and it appears to me that war will have it. Trade will receive secondary consideration. Great Britain will’ be prepared to send quite a number of unemployed to this country, and that question will also be discussed. The unemployed problem is serious in Great Britain. I am inclined to think that it is serious in Australia, because, while we are prepared to pay untold millions to defend us from an invader who may come this way some day to kill our people, we are not prepared to pay a few thousands for a remedy for unemployment.
– Yes we are.
– The Minister may satisfy bis conscience by payinga few hundreds, or a few thousands, in the form of a charitable dole, to relieve the trouble for the present. He may think he has done sufficient by providing road works. The Labour policy is to promote world peace, and, consistently with Australia’s goodwill to her kindred over the seas, to declare her readiness to take the full responsibility, for Australia’s defence; but it is opposed to the raising of Forces “for service outside the Commonwealth or participation, or promise of participation, in any future overseas war except by a decision of the people.” Some of my friends seem to think that I am a bit of a rebel, but my view is that the words “ except by a decision of the people “ might well be left out. I think that before we use our money and men in fighting away from Australia we should employ them in making this place a happy and useful country for the employment of every one who comes here.
– The honorable senator would not allow any British Dominion to help us if we were attacked?
– I hope I have not said that, particularly after the strenuous fight I put up the other night when I contended that we should not draw any distinction between the poor and the rich immigrant.
– The argument cuts’ both ways.
– I know that. If ever the day comes when we have to defend ourselves, we shall have to do it, and the man who does not make provision now for the defence of Australia, does not look to the future. I want provision for Australia’s defence to be made in the most effective way. If the millions that we now spend in a year upon an utterly useless Force were spent in making munitions, quick firers, big guns, rolling-stock, transport waggons, and engines for flying machines, that would be providing for real defence. The Ministerhas boasted that Australia is spending on defence today less than she spent in 1913. I would remind him that all the money put into the defence of Australia when the Labour Government was in office was useful when the war came. The Melbourne, the Sydney, and the Australia were of immense use to us and the Empire, and the money spent on them gave us some tangible return for our outlay when the evil day overtook us. But the 19s. 3d. per head now spent on defence is filling themilitary staff office with generals who solemnly inspect an army that does not exist. I am told that we have some guns defending Sydney, but any modern fleet could lie 10 miles off Sydney Harbor, and “knock smoke” out of those guns, and Sydney too. There could not be a bigger mistake than to spend money on a so-called defence that, in reality, is of no value. My idea of proper expenditure for this purpose is to manufacture the means of defence, and to do it in such a way that the plant would be always at work. For three months of the year let it be used for the manufacture of the munitions of war, but for the remaining nine months that plant could be employed profitably in the construction of engines for motor cars and railways with which to carry our produce to the markets. Then we should always have a fully equipped plant, so that if Australia had to fight, she would not have to do it with sticks and boomerangs. Well defended as some people imagine we now are, that is about all we should have to fight with if war suddenly overtook us. I believe that the present defence system is wrong. When the last war broke out, it was necessary to establish a new system, and the Australian Imperial Force was quite different from the old organization. We did not place in command officers who had been trained at Duntroon. It was the old system that produced Sir Brudenell White, Sir John Monash, and other generals, some of whom are to be found in this chamber. The Force was administered, after the first two years, by the best men in our old organization, with the exception of a few high officers, who were called upon to show the way. Let us have the weapons of defence that Australia needs.
– The honorable senator is now talking war. There can be no mistake about that.
– If trouble ever comes again, nobody will be able to accuse me of unwillingness to prepare for war.
– Is it not the policy of your party to abolish all military training ?
– I have already stated the policy of my party, and I have tried to put the position candidly. There are certain people who imagine that loyalty to the Empire consists in waving flags, and making speeches on Empire Day.
– What is your policy regarding military training ?
– I have just read what my party advocates.
– That is rather general.
– Yes, very. I do not think that honorable senators would be very much impressed by a detailed statement as to how the system should be carried out; but if they are willing to remove the obnoxious time limit on speeches in this Chamber, 1 shall be prepared to give them full details. Under present circumstances, however, one can only deal in generalities.
Another subject to be discussed at the Imperial Conference is that of immigration. Let the Prime Minister tell the Home authorities that, as the industrial system in Australia is the same as it has been in Britain for centuries, where thousands of the best of the population have been kept on the bread line, and many on starvation rations, there is no hope for immigrants in Australia any more than there is hope for them if they remain in Great Britain. Every State in Australia has 10 per cent, of its population - men who are willing to work - unemployed. Can the Prime Minister induce Britain’s statesmen to turn their best brains to the solution of the problem of how good Britishers in all countries could have the dread of want removed?
– He could tell them that they would have a 150 per cent, better chance in Australia than in the Old Country.
– But he should also point out that the industrial system here is conducted on exactly the same lines as in Great Britain.
– It is far better here.
– No provision has yet been made in Australia for the employment of all men who are prepared to work.
– I do not admit that.
– The Minister never admits anything that I say, but the facts are against him. There is no difference “between Great Britain andAustralia in this respect, because both countries have no system, and there is no certainty of employment for the man who is willing to work. I do not object to the Prime Minister pointing to the large percentage of the population that has been able to find work in Australia, but he should also tell Britain that the struggle to be endured by immigrants will be intensely hard for them. I venture to say that the chief anxiety in Britain at present is to remove the unemployed, because they are becoming a serious problem. It is quite a dangerous thing, even to the British Empire, to have 1,500,000 unemployed in England. They are beginning to make Themselves heard, and they are already organizing to take possession of the constitutional machine - Parliament itself. In one bound the small Labour party in the House of Commons has made a great advance, and there is reason for grave concern on the part of British statesmen lest at the next bound it secures control. It will not end the unemployed problem merely to remove the unemployed people from one country to another. The proper way to approach the task is to see that the Empire adopts a sound system, so that anybody in the Empire willing to work may have it, or. Tailing employment, may receive sufficient to maintain him and his family in such a condition as is considered necessary for the development of a great nation. When Ramsay Macdonald is Prime Minister of Great Britain, and he meets Matthew Charlton as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, in conjunction with Mr. Cresswell as Prime Minister of South Africa, I have no doubt that, instead of discussing naval arrangements, they will be found trying to solve a problem that takes toll of more lives and causes more misery than war itself - the problem of improving the conditions of the poor.
– There will be preference within the Empire then !
– The Minister and his party will then want to get out of the Empire.
– Will there be an Empire then ?
– It rests with my honorable friends opposite. I am not afraid of the future. I face the position, not as a man who believes that everything he says. is right, but as one who has always been optimistic enough to say what he thinks, and chance whether it is right or not. I speak as I feel. . I regret that the matter of naval defence is to take the chief place at the Conference. There are some folk who imagine that the causes of unemployment cannot be removed. That is the main reason why a solution has not been found.
– Britain has a scheme of insurance against unemployment.
– I realize that. There never will be a lack of expedients. We shall always be led to believe that the chief problems are being solved. I do not have a great deal of time to look around Melbourne, because when I am not speaking in this chamber I. am engaged downstairs preparing to speak; but on my way to and from Parliament House I pass the Unemployed Bureau, in Bourke-street, and it is the saddest sight imaginable. I have seen men standing there - often in the rain - waiting hopefully, and sometimes hopelessly, for work. The unemployment problem should take first place at the Conference. Seeing that the Empire can spend thousands of millions on war, surely a few millions might well be spared for the people of the Empire who are in need. If Britain wishes to send its unemployed to Australia, let it be given an ample area of land, and let it be assisted with money to develop that area and form a separate colony. If necessary, let Australia and Britain, acting together., keep those people for, say, ten years. Let anything be done, provided that the problem is faced seriously, and the workers are not antagonized.
– It is possible that something like that may be discussed at the Conference.
– I am very glad to think that something to which I have directed attention may be the subject of discussion at that important gathering. I have put before the Senate my views concerning the approaching Conference. I hope that Australia’s representative will exceed all our expectations, and in spite of the bitterness engendered in party political conflicts in Australia, I shall be generous enough to give the Prime Minister a full measure of praise if he comes out of the Conference as a good Australian. The idea that only those who are prepared to talk war are loyal to the Empire must be discarded for ever. Australia has had enough of wars. It wants now some constructive statesmanship that will make the Empire a place worth living in for the humblest of its people.
Debate (on motion by Senator Lynch) adjourned.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The measure provides for the extension of the railway system in the Northern Territory by the construction of a railway from the terminus at Emungalan as far as Daly . Waters, a distance of 160 miles. The extension will commence from a point about 1 mile distant from the north bank of the Katherine River, will cross the river by a high-level bridge, and terminate some 360 miles south of Darwin. The question of the construction of this railway has been before the Parliamentary Standing Committee- on Public Works. It -was considered by the Committee on two distinct references. The first reference was in 1915, and related to the construction of a line from the left or southerly bank of the Katherine River for a distance of 63 miles 65 chains in a south-easterly direction to Mataranka, at one time called Bitter Springs. This section was inspected and reported upon in 1916. The second reference was regarding the construction of a line from Mataranka to Daly Waters, a distance of approximately 95 miles. This section was inspected in 1921, and reported upon in 1922. The recommendation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works on both references is that the railway be constructed. A permanent survey has been completed for a distance of approximately 77 miles, and a trial survey for the remaining 83 miles of the extension. The permanent survey for the 83 miles will be put in hand by the Commissioner in due course. The estimated cost, for which provision is made in the Bill, is £1,545,000. This is in excess of the amounts named by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works in their reports, their estimates showing the costs as -
The estimate now submitted is enhanced by higher costs generally, and the heavy expense of the transport of rails, fastenings, and sleepers, all these having to be shipped to Darwin, and then transported over the existing railway from Darwin to Emungalan. Dealing with the first section, it might be explained that the estimate submitted by the Committee in 1916 was much below the cost at which the line could now be constructed.’ The lower estimate was prepared in 1915, and since then costs have been much affected by prices of materials, such as rails, fastenings, cement, timbers, &c, increased shipping freights, and landing and railway freight charges. Further, the estimate submitted by the Public Works Committee in 1916 provided for the construction of a railway commencing on the south side of the Katherine River, it being anticipated at that time that the terminus of the railway from Pine Creek to Katherine River would be on that side. The terminus, however, is on the north side, and some 75 chains of railway have still to be constructed from the present terminus to the river, and a bridge is required over the river. The Katherine River drains a large area of country and carries a great volume of water during the wet season, hence a highlevel bridge of several spans must be provided. This bridge alone, it is estimated, will cost £95,000, which item was not included in the estimate prepared in 1915. The Bill gives particulars of the railway, and the schedule outlines the route, which is also shown on the plans now before the House. The book of reference submitted in terms of the Railways Act gives a list of names of owners or lessees of the land: A great deal of the land passed’ through is unoccupied Crown land ; the remainder is included in pastoral leases. The area used for the railway will comprise approximately three chains on either side of the centre line of the railway. This will allow for public roadways where such may be required. The railway will be to gauge of 3 ft. 6 in., but the bridges will be so constructed as to admit of conversion to a railway of the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge, which has now been accepted as the standard gauge for the railways of Australia. , The line will be constructed of 60-lb. per manent way material. Steel sleepers will probably be used, as white ants are prevalent over a considerable portion of the route.
– Can the Minister say if the sleepers to be used will be suitable for a 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge line?
– No. They will be designed for the 3-ft. 6-in. line. Steel sleepers in use on certain of the Queensland railways have proved their suitability in that class of country.
– Have the Government considered the question of using powellised jarrah sleepers?
– I have not heard of powellised jarrah sleepers being used in any other State except Western Australia.
– Why have the Government adopted the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge?
– Because the rest of the line is on that gauge?
– Could we not alter it?
– Only at very great expense, and, in addition, the whole of the existing rolling-stock would be unsuitable. To commence with, the railway will not be a paying proposition; but assuming that Vestey Brothers will be operating the freezing works at Darwin, the estimated revenue will be £24,000 annually, and working expenses £26,700, resulting in a loss, not including interest, of £2,700 per annum. The interest charge of 5 per cent, will be, approximately, £77,250; so the loss, including interest charges, may be set down at £77,950. The extension of the railway beyond Daly Waters, which extension will have to be considered later, will bring the line nearer to the better pastoral country, and with that extension there is every hope that the revenue from the railway will exceed the working expenses.
– Which direction will the extension take?
-It will be towards the Queensland border, and nearer to the Barkly Tablelands which comprise the better class of land in the Territory. The railway will form a link of the main overland line connecting the Northern Territory with the southern portion of Australia. It will aid in the development of pastoral country and bring railway facilities nearer to the pastoral areas east, south-east ‘and south of Mataranka and Daly Waters.
– There is the Queensland influence again.
– The route was suggested many years ago and there has been no deviation. I can assure honorable senators that Queensland is not taking any interest in theroute which the NorthSouth Line is to follow.. That State is in a position to build its own railway lines, and at the present time has a greater length of line than any other State in the Commonwealth. Queensland is prepared to go on building lines wherever they may be necessary.
– And Queensland has a greater length of non-paying lines than any other State.
– They have all been necessary for developmental purposes.
– Can the Minister say what the earnings would be if the length of line now proposed were constructed from the South Australian end, instead of from tho terminus of the existing line from Darwin ?
– I am not in a position to give the honorable senator that information. This proposal will not delay any work in connexion with the line north from Oodnadatta, but nothing can be done immediately there, because there has been no survey of the suggested route, whereas there has been a permanent survey from the Katherine River to Mataranka, and the work on that section may be commenced without delay. The line will assist. ‘ in the development of tie Roper River lands. This river empties into the Gulf of Carpentaria, and traverses the country right to and beyond the location of the railway. It will bring nearer to railway connexion the rich pastoral areas of the Barkly Tablelands, and as mentioned in the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, it will, in all probability, link up with an eventual’ line through tie Barkly Tablelands. It will help, also, in tho development of the Marranboy tinfields, as it will pass within 12 miles of the field, which is 45 miles distant from the present terminus. A considerable area of the Marranboy country is said to be tinbearing.
– And the gauge ls to be the same as that of the Queensland railways ?
– And the same as that of the South Australian lines.
– I think the Western Australian railways are also on the same gauge. There is no doubt that the line will assist materially in the development of the Northern Territory.
– A very small piece of it.
– And the same length of line built north from Oodnadatta would develop very little country.
– That is quite a different proposition.
– It is, and it is one that is to receive very early consideration from the Government, The two projects do not confl ict with one another. There is no reason why both lines should not be built.
– But it is always wise to start at the right end.
– This country must be developed just as every other part of Australia has been developed by building railways to the nearest port.
– The best way is to tap the best country first.
– If there are two areas of good country, there is no reason why both should not be tapped. I commend the Bill to honorable senators, believing that the line proposed to be built will prove of inestimable value to the country through which it passes.
Debate (on motion by Senator Mcdougall) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10.34 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 31 July 1923, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1923/19230731_senate_9_104/>.