9th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I should like to know whether a report upon the recent visit of the Minister for Works and Railways to Central Australia will be submitted to Parliament at an early date, and also whether there will be an announcement of the policy of the Government in respect to the construction of the NorthSouth Railway?
– I do not know that my colleague, the Minister for Works and Railways, intends to submit to Parliament a report upon his visit. He will certainly report to the Government upon the various matters into which he was asked to look, and arising out of that certain measures may be submitted to Parliament, but I am not yet in a position to say what they are likely to be.
– Is it a fact, Mr. President, that the Senate conducts its financial business with private banks, and if so cannot steps be taken to have the same transferred to the Commonwealth Bank?
– The Senate does no business with any bank except the Commonwealth Bank, but for the convenience mainly of honorable senators the Joint House Committee, does business with a private bank situated quite close to Parliament Housft. As a matter of fact it is a great convenience to honorable senators to have such an arrangement, because it enables change to be got when it is urgently required without it being necessary to send a messenger hurriedly down the city.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 7 of 1924 - Australian Postal Assistants’ Union.
No. 8 of 1924- Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
Audit Act -
Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 51, 65.
Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial Year 1923-24-
Dated 2nd April, 1924.
Dated 9th April, 1924.
Commerce (Trade Description) Act - Regula tions amended - Statutory Rules 1924. Nos. 30, 40, 48.
Customs Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 38, 47.
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 62, 03.
High Court Procedure Act - Rules of Court -Dated 25th May, 1923.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Postal purposes -
New South Wales - Barham; Hurlstone Park.
South Australia - Clarence Park; Unley. Victoria - East Brunswick.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1.924, Nos. 59, 60, 61.
New Guinea-Report on Forced Labour and Flogging of Natives, by A. S. Canning.
New Guinea - Ordinances of 1924 -
No.9 - Expropriation.
No. 10.- Supply (No. 8) 1923-1924.
No. 11. - Pharmacy . and Poisons.
No. 12. - Auctioneers.
No. 13. - Prisons.
Northern Territory - Ordinance No. 9 of 1924 - Debtors.
Patents Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1923, Nos. 79, 139.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1924. Nos. 53, 54, 64.
Public Service Act - Appointment of J. W. Fielding, Department of Health.
Territory for the Seat of -Government - Ordinances of 1924 -
No. 2 - Trespass on- Commonwealth Lands.
No. 4 - Provisional Government.
No. 5 - Fire Brigades.
Treaty of Peace (Gcmany) Act- Regula tions amended - Statutory Rules 1924, No. 58.
War Service Homes Act - Land acquired at Willoughby, New South Wales (two notifications).
Bill presented by Senator Pearce, and read a first time.
Bill presented by Senator Pearce, and read a first time.
– I have to announce to the Senate that I have received a letter from Mrs. Millen, widow of the late Senator E. D. Millen, conveying the thanks of herself and family to the members of the Senate for their expressions of sympathy and great appreciation of the resolutions passed by the Senate on the occasion of the death of the late honorable senator.
asked the Minister for
Home and Territories, upon notice–
– The replies are-
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Honorable senators will notice that it is proposed in the schedule to the Bill that the duty on brandy when not exceeding the strength of proof per gallon shall be - British Preferential Tariff 35s., Intermediate 35s., and General 36s. When exceeding the strength of proof per proof gallon the duty shall be - British Preferential Tariff 35s., Intermediate, 35s., and General Tariff 36s. Prior to the present amendment, the duty on brandy when not exceeding the strength of proof per gallon was - British Preferential 30s., Intermediate 30s., and General -31s. ; and when exceeding the strength of proof per proof gallon - British Preferential 30s., Intermediate S0s.) and General 31s. The present amendment raises these rates by 5s. As nearly all brandy is of foreign origin, and, therefore, dutiable under the General Tariff, the position resulting from the amendment is that the rate on imported brandy is, for practical purposes, 36s., as compared with 31s. previously. Australian standard brandy, which forms the bulk of the brandy made in Australia, pays an Excise duty of 26s. per proof gallon. The amendment, therefore, increases the margin between the import and Excise rates from os. to 10s. It is, of course, this margin which gives the Australian distiller of brandy his protection. In placing settlers in districts suitable for grape-growing, the Victorian and South Australian Governments advised and assisted the settlers to plant Doradilla vines. The grapes from these vines are suitable only for the production of spirit, which is used either for making brandy or for fortifying wines. The only purchasers of the Doradilla grapes are the distillers or winemakers who also have a distillery. This season there is a very abundant crop of this class of grape, but the growers find it impossible to get a payable price for their product. They assert that £6 per ton is necessary, but they are being offered in the districts about Mildura and in South Australia as low as £3 per ton and they cannot even get rid of their whole crop at this price. In many cases this is the first season in which the more recent settlers have had a crop to sell, and such men are threatened with ruin, and there is quite a possibility that the grapes will be left to rot on the vines. With a view to averting this serious result the Government have proposed an increase of duty on imported brandy. The importations of brandy, almost wholly of French origin, in 1922-23 were 117,000 gallons. While this.- quantity includes some high-quality brandies which would be imported under any cirsumstances, it also includes large quantities of poor-quality brandies which could with benefit to the community be replaced by the superior Australian brandies. There is a provision in the Bill that Australian brandy has to be kept in wood for two years. This also applies to imported brandy, but it is a provision which it is impossible to enforce. If the whole of the imported brandies were replaced by Australian varieties it would mean that nearly 4,000 tons of grapes would be required to produce the spirit, necessitating 700 to 800’ acres of vineyard to grow the necessary grapes. During the past four or five years there has been a rapid increase in the production of grapes in Australia. In 1917-18 there were 67,802 acres under vines, from which 6,S65,101. gallons of wine and 195,000 gallons of brandy were produced. In 1922-23 the acreage had increased to 105,476, with a wine production, in round figures, of 11,500,000 gallons. The value of the wine would approach £3,000,000. The Tariff Board in its report recommended that: - (1) The Excise duty on brandy distilled from the fermented juice of Doradilla grapes be reduced from 26s. per . proof gallon to 21s. per proof gallon; (2) The Excise duty on spirit distilled from Doradilla grapes and used in fortifying wine be reduced from 6s. per proof gallon to 5s. per proof gallon; (3) An export bounty of 4s. per gallon be provided on fortified wines. Instead of reducing the excise rate on brandy by 5s., as recommended by the Board, ,the Government considered it preferable to increase the Customs rate by 5s.
– I think that is a most remarkable- decision.
– I do not know whether Senator Ogden advocates the cheapening of alcoholic beverages.
– I want our own beverages to be used.
– The Bill will have that effect. The increase of the import duty on wines by 5s. per gallon will have exactly the same effect as- reducing the Excise duty on Australian wines by 5s.
– Not at all.
– The margin is just the same. There is a difference of 10s. per gallon between the Excise charged on Australian wines and the duty charged on imported wines, so that the net protection in either case would be exactly the same. Of course, a reduction in the Excise duty on brandy used in fortifying wine might have the effect of cheapening; wine, thus leading to an increased consumption; what is more, the increase in the price of imported brandy should, have the effect of preventing the importatiou of at least inferior foreign brandies. This would he a great advantage to brandy drinkers. The duty on brandy in Great Britain is: - In cask, preferential, 72s.10d. per gallon; general Tariff, 75s. 4d. per gallon; in bottle, preferential, 73s.10d. per gallon; general Tariff, 76s. 4d. per gallon. In New Zealand the duty on brandy is 36s. per gallon. Regarding the Board’s recommendation for the reduction of duty on fortifying spirit obtained from Doradilla grapes, it may be pointed out that the representatives of the wine industry ask that the present rate of 6s. per gallon on this class of spirit be not reduced, for the reason that they hold large stocks of fortified wine in respect of which this duty has been paid. A reduction of the duty would seriously reduce the value of their stocks. The representatives of the wine industry, however, ask that a part of this revenue duty be utilized to assist in opening an export market. They point out that a reduction on fortifying spirit would benefit only the local trade, and would be of little benefit to the export trade. The present duty on fortifying spirit is a revenue impost. During the war it was increased from 8d. to the present duty of 6s. per proof gallon. Originally the duty was- intended only to cover the cost of supervision, which amounts to about 8d’. per gallon of spirit distilled. The recommendation of the Tariff Board is that portion of the revenue obtained- from’ fortifying spirit be utilized to pay a bounty of 43. per gallon on fortified wine exported.. The- export trade in Australian wine has hitherto been limited’ almost wholly todry unfortified wines-, but a very large market exists- in Great Britain for fortified wines, and the bounty would enable’ Australia to get a share of thin market. One of the’ results would be to create an increased demand for grape wine- spirit for fortifying the wine, and this’ wouldi particularly benefit the growers cf Doradilla. grapes. The Government very carefully examined the- bounty proposal. As, however, the object in- view is to refove the present extremely unsatisfactory position of the growers of Doradilla. grapes, some assurance- was necessary that the buyers would pay to the growers a reasonable price for the grapes. The Federal Viticultural Counccil of Australia acted on behalf of the wine-makers, who are the buyers of the grapes; but. they were not able to get any general undertaking from the buyers as to the price they would agree to pay. The grape-buyers having failed to give an undertaking as to the prices to be paid for Doradilla grapes, which was a condition, precedent to the consideration of an export bounty on wine,, the question called for further investigation. Before making a further recommendation, the Tariff Board desired to have precise and reliable information as to the prices which were being offered or accepted by the growers, and the possibility or otherwise of the grapes being sold. For this purpose the Senior Inspector of Excise, South Australia, was instructed to visit immediately the Doradilla grape-growing districts of “Victoria and South Australia, to obtain the information desired by the Board, and to return to Melbourne as promptly as possible. The Senior Inspector left Adelaide on Tuesday, 29th April, and is expected to arrive in Melbourne within the next two or three day3. With the information which will then be available, the Tariff Board will at once make- its recommendation. In the meantime the increase of duty will operate, and I recommend the 7*ill for the sympathetic consideration of honorable senators.
– As usual, I shall oppose any increase of duties. I should like to know exactly the position of the Government. At the elections they posed as the friends of the Temperance party, and now, by means of this Bill, they intend to assist the brandy manufacturers. They do not hesitate to shake hands with both sides. It should be a Government making for the improvement of the country’s morals, but in this case they are evidently making for the improvement of spirits. I see in the introduction of the Bill the first indication of a bounty for somebody else. When will the Government seriously consider the question of assisting every one? They are quite unable to help themselves, but they are ever on the look out to extend a helping hand to some one else. Instead of introducing Bills of this kind the Government should appoint a Committee to inquire into the failure of the present high Tariff. I am not speaking either from a Protectionist or a Free Trade point of view. As honorable senators are aware, the Tariff this year is expected to bring in £36,000,000. This can by no means be considered a protection of local industries, and the Tariff, therefore, is a gross failure. The Government should seriously consider the injurious effects of the high Tariff. There is another iniquity concerning the Tariff.’ I am not referring to the personnel of the Board, but I contend that the principle of a Tariff Board is something that the Senate should not tolerate. This Parliament has handed over its functions to three or four men, who, I believe, are of high character. Personally I have nothing against them, but I enter my protest against the Parliament of Australia having its Tariff altered at the dictation of these men.
– In this case we do not accept their recommendation.
– I am quite aware that the Minister (Senator Crawford) must agree to this proposal. When the Board offers a sensible recommendation the Government turn ic down, but when it makes an iniquitous proposition they accept it. This supreme Tariff council, that can override Parliament, is more objectionable than the supreme economic council which Labour proposed to deal with socialized industries.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the Tariff Board can override Parliament?
– I say that it has done so. I challenge the honorable senator to say whether he would have consented to the enormous duty now imposed on wire netting. Has not the Tariff Board imposed that duty without Parliament having considered it?
– Let the honorable senator try to import wire.
– That is another matter.
– No, it is not. Here is a case where Parliament lias handed its functions over to a small Committee.
– I say that it has not.
– Instead of the Tariff Board being a means of saving the time of Parliament, we are continually having debates of this character. And this is only the beginning of the operations of the Board. I realize that on this occasion I should not attack the principle of having a Tariff Board ; but one might well ask the Government whether the time is not now opportune to wipe out the high duty on brandy, seeing that the Government are extracting at least £36,000,000 per annum from the pockets ofthe workers.
– I did not know that the workers were the brandy drinkers.
– Seeing that 99 out of every 100 members of the community are workers, they must therefore drink the most brandy. Individually, of course, the employer drinks more brandy than the worker.
– Brandy is only a medicine.
– Yes ; but the real point to consider is how long is this class of legislation to continue? I travel through Australia with my eyes and ears open, and I say, without hesitation, that the Tariff is affecting the people in a most serious way. In Western Australia, which I visited recently, the people are almost ready to revolt against Federation itself because they realize that they are carrying the heavy end of the log. In Tasmania we have a people impoverished by the Tariff. In New South Wales about two-thirds of the population desire to form separate States. We should not shut our eyes to the present unrest in Australia. The least-developed States, with their small populations, are undoubtedly gravely affected by our high Tariff. The northern portion of the great State of New South Wales is almost ready to revolt, and when those people succeed in forming a new State, and find that their lot is still harder, they will desire to be free from Federation. This is all due to the high Tariff that has not given protection, that has seriously assisted in the maintenance of monopolies, and, as far as I can see, has given no benefit whatever to the people. What was the reward oi Senator Greene, who introduced the Tariff, for his monumental work in that connexion ? The duty he put on bananas cost him his seat in the other branch of the Legislature. It also crippled the banana-growers in his electorate. As soon as the traders secured the business of the growers of bananas in Queensland, many growers went out of the trade. The same sad story is to be told in relation to other industries. When seeking the suffrages of the people the members of the Ministry pose as a temperance party. They now propose to make it easier for certain people to produce brandy, but the measure would not make it easier for the consumer. This proposal will not affect, me one iota. I shall pay no more under it than I have been paying already. The Government, commit themselves to a policy of this nature to-day, and tomorrow they will come down with something of a similar character, because they are compelled to do the bidding of the Tariff Board. Some honorable senators will say that it is quite right to have a Board of this description, because Parliament has not sufficient time to attend to Tariff matters. Quito so. Since October last I think Parliament has had a great deal too much to do, and it looks as though we shall have much more arduous labours in future, making it imperative that we should enlist the services of such a body as the Tariff Board. I am glad to see the- Minister standing up to assist the brandy producers, because if everybody is to he helped the brandy producers certainly should be aided. I can foresee just as clearly as if the Minister had told us so, that after the Tariff Board has made certain other investigations, he will come down to us with a proposal for a bounty on the export of wine. Of course, it will be on fortified wine, and the people who export it will be fortified by the fact that the workers will help them to pay for it.
– Any bounty on the wine would be paid out of the excise on the fortified spirit.
– Yes ; and the excise will be pa-id by the people who use the spirit. It all comes back to the starting point where the workers, who comprise 99 per cent, of the people, pay. Seeing that the Government are in close touch with the temperance organizations of this country, it is interesting to note that they are trying to make business easier and more profitable for those who manufacture brandy.
– The proposal is to assist the growers of Doradilla grapes.
– This measure can only assist those who grow the grapes that are converted into spirit. I feel quite sure that the Government will eventually give grape-growers generally a bounty. If Governmental affairs go on as they have proceeded in the last four or five years - that is, if the present Administration lasts for that length of time - every person in the community will bo in receipt of a bounty of some kind. I . fail to see where the money for all this is to be obtained. At present. New South Wales has to find the bulk of it.
– New South Wales pays only in proportion to population.
– Yes, and having been, for many years, under a Labour Administration, New South Wales is now rich in population. I shall not occupy the time of the Senate much longer, but I should like to say that it is as well that the Government should show their hand on the liquor question. It is something to know that they intend to make it easier for the distiller to produce brandy, and at the same time make the workers pay more. Prom the conflicting evidence that has come before me in recent years. I do not know whether or not brandy is a very desirable product. I have an unbiased mind upon the matter. I have not yet reached the age at which it is considered necessary by some people to imbibe a stimulant of this nature. This Bill would not have been presented to Parliament but for the existence of the Tariff Board. I am satisfied, also, that when the Tariff Board was created it was thought that the Board would relieve Parliament of some of its work. As a matter of fact, as has been our experience with all Boards,, by making the administration of the Customs Department more irksome, and by increasing the difficulties in the management of private businesses, it is finding work for Parliament. Importers do not know where they are. Since the Bill is based upon the report of the Tariff Board, which was created by Parliament, we, as a Parliament, must accept the responsibility for the present position. However, I take this opportunity of voicing my disapproval of the whole business. 1 protest against this attempt, by means of a Board, to interfere with the trading and commercial affairs of the Commonwealth. It is about time that something more serious than a protest was made against the Government for the persistent manner in which they are passing over the duties of administration to an irresponsible Board. I hope the Government will get the measure through. I trust that the brandy interests will be satisfied. I hope, also, that the temperance section of the community will note that this Government, which has always posed as the friend of temperance, is, in this Bill, behind the liquor interests.
– I am not sure whether the Government should feel flattered or otherwise for having been associated, by Senator Gardiner, with the Temperance party. I have never heard it claimed for the Government that they were the friends of the Temperance party on the one hand, or of the liquor interests on the other. This is a new charge levelled at them by the Leader of the Opposition. The Government claim to be the friends of all sections of the community, and, judged by their administrative acts, 1 am satisfied that they can justify the claim. They are anxious to do their best for all sections of the people. The Bill now before the Senate was not framed or introduced in the interests of the brandy or any other distillers. I hope to be able to show that it has not gone far enough ; it should protect not only the brandy distillers, but also the whisky, gin, and rum distillers, against the importation of inferior spirits from other parts of the world.
– Are not distillers everywhere of the same standard ?
– No. Australia is the dumping ground for inferior spirits manufactured in other countries.. The Australian distiller is compelled to manufacture true to label, and from the grape juice. Manufacturers in other countries distil from turnips, potatoes, and other products, and the inferior article is imported to compete with Australian brandy.
– Much of the imported stuff is rubbish.
– It is worse than rubbish ; it is poison. Knowing that this measure was to be brought before the Senate this week, I took advantage of the opportunity, last week, to visit some of the principal vine-growing districtsof South Australia. I spent a week at the various settlements on the River Murray. My inquiries satisfied me that although the distillers do not themselves particularly want this measure, if the business is handled in the right way the Bill will be of substantial benefit to the men who grow the grapes. Distillers need not be considered in this matter. In my opinion, they are influential and wealthy enough to look after their own interests. This Bill, then, is intended to assist the men who grow the grapes. During the last three or four years large numbers of returned soldiers have settled on irrigation areas in South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales. These men have not the financial hacking, which many of the older groVecs enjoy. They have to depend upon the labour of their rwn hands. It is essential, therefore, that their markets should be readily accessible to them. In my investigations at Renmark, Berri, Lyrup, and Cadell, as well as at other places along the River Murray, I found that practically all the new settlers were returned soldiers. Many men, through adverse circumstances, had been forced off their blocks. When they took up their land they were informed chat they had to plant a certain acreage of Doradilla vines. Through the ineffective operation of the Tariff Act the distilleries - I speak particularly of those in South Australia - now have their vats filled with spirit for which they can find no market, and, as a result, they are refusingto buy Doradilla grapes. At one distillery I saw 20 waggons loaded with grapes waiting to discharge. I understand that, in some cases, men have had to cairn) near a distillery all night in order to be first in next morning, so as to bc sure of getting rid of their grapes, and occasionally they have been turned away because the distiller would not take any more grapes. The co-operative distilleries at Renmark and Berri., I am informed, arc unable to get rid of the spirit, and they owe money to growers for as long as three years. There is an impression that their products are boycotted by the large distillers in other parts of the world. The spirit is in the vats and cannot bc disposed of, and until it is disposed of tho men will be kept waiting for their money, possibly for years.
– That is not brandy.
– It is not brandy, but it is the spirit which is used for fortifying wines. However, there arc several brandy distillers in the district in the same position. They cannot dispose of their reserves of spirit, and. consequently are not buying grapes. In addition to Doradilla grapes, the fruit that is rejected by the grading machines, and consequently cannot be exported, also goes to the distilleries. The growers in the Renmark district are in a very bad position. As they cannot afford to carry on many are leaving their blocks, and, therefore, I would like to see something done that will benefit them more than this Bill is likely to do. If tho Bill is passed there is no proof that tho distillers will pay a reasonable price for grapes. I was informed that the very lowest price at which the growers in the Renmark district can sell their green fruit and make a profit is X8 a ton, whereas they are now getting as low as, £3 a ton. At that price it does not pay to cultivate their grapes, and rather than accept it they are ‘simply allowing their fruit to rot on the vines. The position is very serious, and I. think something should be done to compel importers of spirit to keep it in wood under Customs supervision for two years, as is required in the case of Australian spirit.
– Can the honorable senator say why the South Australian Government forced these poor unfortunate men to plant Doradilla vines?
– I cannot say why they did so;, every thing would have been right but for the fact that the distillers’ vat3 are now full of spirit which they cannot sell.
– Is the position due to the importation of cheap spirits?
– Very largely. Spirit blenders in Australia are not using genuine Australian spirits made from grapes, but are using spirit from abroad.
– An increase in the duty should get over that trouble to some extent.
– Yes, but it will not get over the other difficulty of whether the distillers, in view of their huge reserves at the present time, will purchase grapes for a considerable time to come. It is questionable whether they can work off their surplus in three or four years. Therefore, while this Bill will do something in the desired direction, it will not go far enough. The growers must be assisted if many of them are to remain on their blocks. I suppose that scores of them will leave the irrigation areas this year unless something is done to tide them over their difficulties. Senator Crawford has referred to the fact that Mr. Gollan, Senior Inspector of Excise in South Australia, is now going through the various wine-growing districts in order to make a report to the Tariff Board. I had the privilege of meeting the gentleman in Renmark. A more competent officer could not be employed for the task he has been set. He knows the wine industry from A to Z, and has been in charge of the Excise Department in South Australia for many years. I am quite sure that when he furnishes his report, the Government, in order to keep the growers on their blocks, will be obliged to do something very much better than and different from what they have proposed in this Bill. I am entirely in agreement with the remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) in reference to the Tariff Board. No Government should push their responsibilities on to a Board of any description. I have always been opposed to the appointment of Boards, and there are very few that, if I had the opportunity, I would not wipe out in order to throw the responsibility on to Ministers and Parliament. However, in a case of this kind, only those persons actually engaged in an industry thoroughly understand how necessary it is that some outside person or body should be appointed to make an inquiry. No Minister could undertake the task, and, indeed, if he took upon himself the responsibility, he would not fully understand the ramifications of the spirit industry, not only inside Australia, but also abroad. In such circumstances an inquiry should be undertaken by the Tariff Board or some other authority with a knowledge of the industry. Mr. Gollan is travelling, not only through South Australia, but also through Victoria and New South Wales. I believe that the position of growers at Leeton on the Murrumbidgee is precisely the same, although perhaps not so aggravated, as that of the growers at Renmark. I hope that in administering the measure the Government will see that the distillers do not benefit unless there is some guarantee that an increased price will be secured from them for the grapes they use, or that they will take whatever grapes are offering in the various settlements. I support the Bill, not for any regard that I. have for the distilleries, but because I have seen the position of the nien who are growing the grapes; I have, seen their vacant homes and their vacant blocks. Most of them are married men with wives and families, and in order to earn some money so that they mav keep their families they have been compelled to go to places where employment is more easily found than it is in the river settlements. They are moving to the cities. It is a great loss to the States and also to the Commonwealth, and it is the duty of the Commonwealth Government to do as much as they possibly can to assist the States, and see that the benefits likely to accrue from this measure ultimately reach the men who are growing the fruit.
.- Although it is a matter of no importance to a great number of electors whether the brandy consumed is of Australian origin or imported, I can realize the difficulty of Australian grape-growers, and I am desirous of assisting them in some way. Therefore, I regard as extraordinary the action of the Government in ignoring the recommendation of the Tariff
Board that the Excise duty on brandy should be lowered and increasing the import duty. The best way in which “to assist local production is to encourage the consumption of the local product, and if the Government had been genuine in their desire to do so they would have reduced the Excise duty by 53. per gallon. By cheapening the local product local people would be encouraged to buy it in preference to the imported article, but instead of doing this the Government have adopted a course which will enable merchants or some one else to add 5s. per gallon to the cost of the local product. I would not be surprised if the price had not already been increased, penalizing the unfortunate consumer to that extent. Under the Government’s proposal the grape-growers will not benefit, because brandy consumers will continue to purchase the higher-priced imported article. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) has referred to the Tariff Board. I do not believe in the Tariff Board, but I certainly disagree with Ministers who shelter behind it when it suits them, and ignore it when it happens to make a sensible suggestion. I do not feel inclined to add another 5s. per gallon to the cost of the brandy consumed by the people of Australia, which would be the result of passing this Bill.
– It will merely add os. to the price of foreign brandy.
– When this Bill is passed the price of the local product will be increased by 5s. a gallon. That is the result of all Protectionist duties.
– The increase goes mainly into increased wages.
– I do not find people too willing to increase wages because chey have been granted a bonus. We should insist on the Excise duty being lowered.
– The grape-growers this Bill will help are working men on small areas
– I do not deny that; but could not the Minister have helped them just as well by reducing the Excise duty? If the opportunity comes I shall vote to reduce a good many items in the Tariff. The other day I noticed in the press that the market price of grapes in Melbourne was about £d. per lb., but if any one goes into a shop in the city he pays 6d. a lb. for grapes. Is it not possible to adopt some method of assisting the producers other than the crude, unscientific one of increasing protective duties ? There ought to be some means of bringing the consumer and producer closer together. I have seen two or three loads of grapes being dumped in Melbourne. Yet the consumer is obliged to pay 6d. a lb., and we are asked to give the distillers another 5s. a gallon in order to encourage the consumption or production of brandy in Australia.
– It is to benefit producers of Australian brandy as against foreign brandy.
– This Bill will not assist the grape-grower; it will merely assist the distiller or the man who handles brandy. On the other hand, if the Excise duty had been lowered the price of the local jjroduct would have been lowered, and a greater demand would have been created for the locally-produced brandy. If I can get any support in this Chamber, I shall make an effort to reduce the Excise duty instead of increasing the import duty.
– I do not wish to take up much time on this question, but it is desirable to reply to some of the issues raised during the debate, particularly by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner). I am well aware that this Bill has nothing to do with the Tariff Board, except in so far as the Minister (Senator Crawford), in moving the second reading, made reference to its report; but it is desirable that honorable senators should entirely clear their nfinds of the misapprehension under which the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) appears to labour. He seems to assume that the Tariff Board possesses some extraordinary power to alter or vary from time to time the decisions of Parliament. It has no such power. The Tariff Board has never assumed or exercised such authority, and the Tariff Board Act does not give it the power. The law relating to the amendment or modification of the Tariff remains exactly where it was before the creation of the Tariff Board. In the Tariff Board the Minister for Trade and Customs has an additional number of advisers to sift the evidence which comes before him and upon which evidence from time to time he is called upon to give determinations. That is all the Tariff Board has done.
– It has done more.
– It has no authority to do more.
– It has not done more, and, as the Minister states, it has no authority to do more. The law is exactly what it was before the Board was appointed, and has not been varied or altered one iota.
– Excepting that the Minister does not sift the evidence and come to a decision.
– When the Leader, of the Opposition was speaking he acknowledged with perfect, candour that it was impossible for the Minister for Trade and Customs to make himself acquainted with every detail of the administration of his Department and the thousand and one questions on which his decision is sought from day to day. I defy any man occupying the office of Minister for Trade and Customs - I do not care how industrious he may be - to undertake the investigations carried out by the Tariff Board. It is because I was aware of the hundred and one questions which the Minister was called upon to determine, where it was impossible for him to personally sift the evidence - aye, and very often impossible for the officers associated with him to find time to give it adequate consideration - that I decided to ask Parliament to give the Minister that additional assistance which I consider he desperately needs. I believe the Tariff Board has done good work. I do not say that its recommendations should always be followed. I have never suggested that Parliament should accept all the Board’s recommendations, but it is desirable that some one should have the Parliamentary authority to make these investigations and supply the information that this Parliament should possess. That is all that the Tariff Board does. It has not power to do anything else. It is a body which investigates, reports, and recommends, and the responsibility is still upon the Minister, who eventually recommends to Parliament what should be done, or takes such other action as the Parliament has empowered him to take. Tho. Leader of the Opposition also suggested that the proposed additional duties will be of some special assistance to the distillers of brandy, and that they will inci- dentally be detrimental to the people of Australia, because more brandy will be consumed. If I thought the . amendment was likely to have that effect I would not support it. I am ncft prepared to assist in making it easier for people to obtain large quantities of alcoholic liquor nor do I think the Leader of the Opposition is. I do not think the Leader of the Opposition understands the effect of the Government’s proposal. The real effect of the amendment is to increase the difference between the Excise duty and the import duty by 5s. per gallon, making the total difference between the Excise and import duty 10s. per gallon. I notice the distillers in submitting their case - as I have no doubt they have to every honorable senator- compare the relative effect of the protection which they have to-day and ‘the protection they would have under this proposal with the pre-war protection by working out the percentage as between the total Excise and import duty. I do not think that a fair presentation of the case. The real protective incidence of the relative duties, both import and Excise, is the difference between the two in relation to the manufacturing cost of ‘brandy. I do not know what the actual manufacturing cost is. I have not looked into the question recently, but I think the manufacturers’ total cost here amounts to about Ss. per gallon.; the figure depends, of course, to some extent, upon the price paid for grapes and various other items in relation to the manufacture of the spirit itself. But when we realize that the difference between the fortifying spirit, to which Senator New’land referred, and brandy so far as it relates to the spirit when it comes from the still, is practically negligible, except the strength at which it is distilled., and when one remembers the price of fortifying spirit in relation to the price of brandy to the consumer, one can readily see what is approximately the cost of making bisaudy. The only difference is that it has to be kept in wood for two years. I agree entirely with what Senator Newland has said that probably the best protection that we could gisne to the people in Australia who make the spirit would beto insist that the provisions of that law which compels the Australian distiller not only to make a pure spirit, but also to keep it in wood for two years, should apply also to imported spirit. I have taken a good deal of interest in this question, and I personally feel that the certificates which we obtain from foreign countries are in many instances not thoroughly reliable. We insist on imported spirit carrying with it a certificate from the country of origin, that it has been kept in wood for two years, and that it is a pure grape spirit. That certificate, we provide, must cover every gallon of spirit that is imported into Australia. Such certificates are received, and I have had inquiries made to ascertain whether these documents are worth anything at all. I am satisfied, from the investigations conducted, that, in many cases, the certificates are practically worthless.
– Are not the certificates supplied by the local mayor ?
SenatorGREENE. - Frequently the original certificates are given by the mayor in small provincial centres in the various countries from which the spirit is exported, and when I say that the mayor is often either the proprietor of a distillery, or deeply . interested in the ownership or operations of such >a business, honorable senators can easily assess a certificate at its true worth. The Government should go into the question of whether the law in relation to the locally-made brandyremaining in the wood for two . years should not be more rigidly enforced in regard ‘to . imported brandy.
– We have no Customs officer in Spain or France to ensure that being done.
– It could be kept in the wood in bond in Australia for two years. We would not, however, know whether it was pure spirit or not, as, unfortunately, there are no means known to the analyst by which it can be determined whether sj>irit is derived entirely from one substance.. Instead of making the spirit available to the public more easily, as the Leader of the Opposition suggests, we are, by making the Australian spirit, in cqmparison with imported spirit, cheaper, ensuring that mi-, mature, possibly adulterated, spirit, being relatively dearer, will . not be used to the same extent
– Would not a reduction in the excise be more effective?
– It would not make the slightest difference. We are providing for a difference of 10s. between the two, and that would be the effect whichever way we operated. Whether we reduce the excise or raise the import duty the Australian spirit, so far as the Government are concerned, is 10s. ner gallon cheaper, and consequently the use of Australian spirit is encouraged. The Australian brandy, with the exception of certain very well-known brands, is a far better spirit than any imported. We know the former is manufactured solely from the juice of the grape, and that it is kept in the wood for two years. The Customs regulations are such that it is impossible for any local spirit to be released from bond which has not been subject to the supervision of Customs officers, has been in the wood for two years, and is not absolutely pure grape spirit. Whilst I think that the action of the Government in increasing the duty on brandy will assist the growers of Doradilla grapes to some extent. I do not think it goes far enough. Speaking from memory, I think there is something like five times as much fortifying spirit produced as there is brandy. Both are the product of the Doradilla grape. In regard to fortifying spirit, it is true that they use a number of other commodities. For instance, the grapes, which would otherwise be dried and converted into sultanas, are, because they are not up to the standard, sent to the distillery, where they are manufactured into fortifying spirit. But the Doradilla grape is also used to a large extent in the production of fortifying spirit, and, as I have already mentioned, the statistics show that five times more fortifying spirit is made than Australian brandy. The use of fortifying spirit is necessary in the manufacture of sweet wines. I do not think it is possible for us to make sweet wine which will keep unless it is fortified. A large quantity of this spirit is made and used in that way every year. We have built up a considerable export trade in dry wines, but the excess in the manufacture of sweet wines in Australia over and above local consumption is considerable. We require, it seems to me, a larger export market to absorb all our sweet wines. The Government might very well consider the request that has been made for the application of the money raised by the duty on fortifying spirit to assist in opening up the export market for sweet wine. I am extremely sorry that the British Government of the present day has seen fit to turn down the preference proposals of the Economic Conference. Had they been passed and carried into eSect, they would have been of considerable assistance to our grape-growers and wine-producers.. We intensely regret that, temporarily at all events, whatever the future may hold, the present British Government has turned down those recommendations.
– The British electors turned them down.
– I do not feel nearly as satisfied about that as my honorable friend is. Had the British electors realized what would happen after the elections were over, and that a Government which does not represent one-third of the total electors of Britain so far as numbers are concerned would be the controlling body, I doubt very much that there would have been the same result.
– The honorable senator has a very poor opinion of the intelligence of the British electors.
– Not at all, because the British elector is not responsible for the action of the British Government. The Commonwealth Government might very well consider whether the sum collected by the imposition of the duty on fortifying spirit should not be used to extend the export market. I do not agree with the principle of the duty on fortifying spirit. But that was imposed some considerable time ago, and was unaltered when the Tariff was last revised because many difficulties surrounded the whole question. I certainly believe that the grower of Doradilla grapes requires further assistance, and that the export of our sweet wines is necessary in order. to keep the whole industry alive. The Government might very well consider the request which has been made.
– It is at present under consideration.
– I am very glad to hear that that is so, I hope the Government’s consideration will lead them to the conclusion, which I myself have formed, that, though this particular proposal will be of some assistance to the industry, the other recommendations of the Tariff Board which have not yet been adopted by the Government will be of greater assistance to the grape-grower.
– I shall not take up the time of the Senate very long, because Senator Greene has summarized the whole position in an exceedingly lucid and masterful way. He stated that this question vitally affected many hundreds of vine-growers settled along the Murray River, and in other districts of South Australia, and I hold that it is indeed a matter of vital importance to them. I congratulate the Government on having gone as far as they have in this Bill, although I wish they had gone further. I agree with Senator Greene that there should have been a reduction of the Excise as well as an increase of Customs duties. This would have been a much better course to adopt. Some time ago I had the honour of introducing a deputation of wine-growers and spirit and “ brandy producers to the Minister for Trade and Customs, Mr. Austin Chapman. He gave a satisfactory reply, ‘ practically prognosticating the alteration in the Tariff which is now proposed Uy the Government. As Senator Greene and Senator Newland pointed out, we are unjustly and improperly handicapped by the introduction from Spain and France of brandy that is alleged to have been two years in the wood, but which every one knows has not been. It is easy enough for a grower in France and Spain to obtain a certificate from the mayor ‘of his particular town. Our regulations provide that brandy from foreign countries must be certified to by a Customs House officer, or some other officer authorized by the Commonwealth Government, as having been two years in the wood. As we have no Customs House officer in Spain or France, the position is that we accept the certificate of the local mayor, who, as Senator Greene pointed out, might be interested in the industry itself. This places an improper handicap on our local vignerons, who produce the genuine article. It is very unjust of the Labour party to indulge in cheap jibes as to this being a. temperance Government. As a matter of fact, the Government have never pretended to be either temperate or intemperate. Honorable senators on the Government side are more temperate both in lau- guage and liquor than are honorable senators opposite, and I throw out that challenge to the Leader of the Opposi tion. The Government do not indulge any one section of the community at the expense of the rest; they try to deal fairly with every section of the community and to give fair play all round.
.- I desire to voice my opposition to the Bill, not for reasons advanced by the Labour party, but for a totally different one. I take it that, if this Bill becomes law, the manufacture of intoxicating liquors, such as brandy, will be more firmly established in Australia than ever before, and consequently I must oppose any measure which has for its objective the bolstering up of an industry of this kind. The brandy industry is of little or no use to the Commonwealth. If the capital invested in the industry were invested in other industries contributing more to the welfare of the people, it would be better for the community as a whole. I realize as well as any other mau that we have to recognise our liability to those who have been placed on the land under the auspices of the State Governments, backed up by the Federal authorities. I was astounded .to hear to-day from one honorable senator representing the State of South Australia that the State authorities insisted upon a certain area of each allotment being planted with Doradilla grapes for the purpose of brandy-making, and that, after carrying out the instructions of the Department, the settlers found that there was a very limited market for these grapes. They should not be made to suffer for this mistake. Surely the State authorities should help, by financial aid, to repair the injury that was caused when these instructions were issued.
– It was an error of judgment.
– Certainly, and the settler should not be penalized because of that instruction. Everything should be done by the department to remedy that mistake. As long as I am a public man in Australia it is my intention to oppose, by my voice and vote, any effort made to strengthen the already strong liquor interests in Australia. It is no use mincing matters. Before many years pass, we in Australia will have to strengthen our position in this respect. America has led the way. and I am afraid that she will capture the trade of the world owing to her increased output and efficiency. We must recognise the necessity of doing all we can to diminish a product of this character, so that we may have more efficiency, and a better return for the capital invested. For that reason I intend to oppose the second reading of the Bill.
– I desire to offer a few words on an aspect of this question that has not been touched upon by other speakers - I refer to the position of the consumer and the trade. Honorable senators have referred principally to the benefits which will arise to the producer and the grower when this Bill becomes law. In the interests of the consumer the time is ripe for such action as is now proposed bv the Government. Spirits, other than brandy, have been mentioned by senators during the debate, but I venture to say that there are only two being produced in Australia^ - brandy and rum - that warrant such a step as is being taken by the Ministry to-day. For some time brandy has been produced in Australia, and has increased in quality to such an extent that we are perfectly safe, in the interests of the consumer, in passing a measure that will have the effect of reducing the importation of foreign brandy. I do not know that the certificates are of such a character as Senator Greene mentioned, but, from his special knowledge, he should speak with authority. My experience is that certificates are obtained from reputable firms; but I accept the statement of Senator Greene that brandies that- are really improperly certificated are imported into this country. The brandy we are producing is in every respect an excellent article; and, therefore, it does not matter whether we obtain any foreign brandy. The other spirit that we are producing in quantities is rum, and we are: all aware that the double-distilled and matured rum, produced in Australia, is equal to the best that Jamaica produces. It is only with regard to those two spirits that eixtra protection can be expected at present. Whisky of good quality has not yet been produced in Australia; nor has gi n. The whisky certificates must be aboveboard. They come from Scotland, and we know that the Scottish distillers are reputable people. We are also aware that no whisky comes into Australia unless it is at least two years old, and the bulk of it is over five years old. We can therefore let that matter rest for some years. As to imported gin. I would not be prepared to say that the certificates are as reliable as in the case of whisky. At any rate our gin is not of such a quality as to justify us in placing any heavier restriction than is at present imposed on the imported article. I do not find myself in sympathy with Senator Payne in this matter. I am surprised to hear from the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) that the Administration of which I am- a supporter is a prohibition Government. If that were so I should leave.it immediately, because I believe that a policy of moderation is the best for this country. I rose only to point out the aspect to which I have just referred. I intend to support the Bill.
Question - That the Bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 13
Question so resolved m the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from Committee without request.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 4th April, vide page 367) :
All rules made under this section shall be notified in the Gazette.
Amendment (by Senator Crawford) agreed to -
That, after the word “ Gazette “, the words “ shall take effect from the date of notification or from a later date specified in the rules “ he inserted.
Clause as amended agreed to.
Postponed clause 6 agreed to.
Postponed clause 18 -
The Courts having jurisdiction in bankruptcy shall be -
such Federal Courts (if any) as the Parliament creates to be Courts of Bankruptcy; and
Such State Courts or Courts of a 1st’ ritory as are specially authorized by the Governor-General by proclamation to exercise that jurisdiction.
The jurisdiction hi bankruptcy of a State Court or Court of a Territory shall be exercised by such one or more Judges of the Court as the Governor-General appoints for that purpose.
Amendment (by Senator Crawford) agreed to -
That the word *’ shall “ in sub-clause (2) be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “may”.
– I move -
That the words “ by such one or more Judges of the Court as the Governor-General appoints for that purpose,” sub-clause 2, be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following paragraphs : - “ (a) in the case of a State Court by such one or more Judges of. the Court as the Governor-General with the concurrence of the Governor of the State appoints for that purpose; and
in the case of the Court of a Territory by such one or more Judges of the Court as the Governor-General appoints for that purpose.”
The purpose of the amendment is to provide that when’ the services of a State Judge are required, the appointment may only be made with the concurrence of the Governor of the State concerned.
– I am not clear as to the effect of the amendment. At the moment I am afraid we shall make a mistake if we adopt it. In Federal matters our legislation ought to be entirely Federal in character, especially in regard to ?11 appointments made by the GovernorGeneral. We should not be dependent upon some other authority. I imagine the danger of a divided authority in the administration of this measure if the amendment proposed by the Minister is carried.
– The amendment provides merely for the concurrence of the State in the selection and appointment of a Judge whose services may be required.
– The Minister’s explanation convinces me that my view is correct. As a Federal authority we should be untrammelled in the selection of persons appointed to any position. The amendment requires the consent ‘ of the Governor of a State before certain appointments can be made. It is quite conceivable that a State Governmentmight refuse concurrence in the appointment of a Judge selected to carry out certain duties under this measure. I believe that the most effective administration can be secured only by working in harmony with the States, but to say that the Commonwealth cannot make appointments except with the concurrence of the States is ridiculous.
.- ‘The amendment is perfectly in order. Senator Gardiner’s objections are Unfounded. Circumstances might arise rendering the appointment of a particular Judge for the purpose of this Bill desirable. If the Federal Government wanted any particular Judge - one versed, say, in bankruptcy law - they would only be able to obtain his services with the consent of the Government of that State. The amendment provides the machinery for the purpose of obtaining a particular Judge if his services are required.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Postponed clause 19 -
Subject to section 6 of this Act, all bankruptcy matters pending in any State Court or Court of a Territory exercising bankruptcy jurisdiction at the commencement of this Act shall be transacted and disposed of by or under the direction of -
the Judge or Judges of the Court; or
such one or more of the Judges of the
Court as the Governor-General appoints for that pnrpose.
Amendment (by Senator Crawford) agreed to -
That all the words after the word “ Act,” line 4, be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ may - (a.) in the case of a State Court be transacted and disposed of by or under the direction of such one or more Judges of the Court as the GovernorGeneral with the concurrence of the Governor of the State appoints for that purpose; and
in the case of the Court of a Territory such one or more Judges of the Court as the Governor-General appoints for that purpose.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Postponed clause 88 (Relation back of trustee’s title).
Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia) 1 5.21 .-This clause was postponed at my request. During the second reading, and also in Committee, I criticised the doctrine of relation back, but I have since seen officers of the Crown Law Department, who have recast certain subsequent clauses, “particularly clauses 94 and 95, thus meeting my objection to this provision. I do not now propose to move any amendment.
Senator THOMPSON (Queensland) ‘ 5.3] -I supported Senator DrakeBrockman, but having discussed this matter with people in Rockhampton who are interested in it, I see no need now to alter the clause.
Clause agreed to.
Postponed clause 93 - (1.) Subject to the next succeeding section every conveyance or transfer of property, or charge thereon made, every payment made, every obligation incurred, and every judicial proceeding taken or suffered, by any person unable to pay his debts as they become due from his own money, in favour of any creditor or of any person in trust for any creditor, having the effect of giving that creditor, or any surety or guarantor for the debt due to that creditor, a preference over the other creditors, shall, if the debtor becomes bankrupt on a bankruptcy petition presented -within six months thereafter be deemed fraudulent and’ void as against the trustee in bankruptcy.
.- I wish to have inserted in this clause the provisions of sections 108 and 109 of the Queensland Act, which provide that the transfer of property by any debtor to any person except for a reasonable and sufficient consideration, the effect of which is to diminish the property to be divided amongst his creditors, shall be deemed fraudulent. These were an extension of the preference clauses inserted by Sir Samuel Griffith in the Queensland measure. They were not contained in the English Act, nor are they to be found in that Act at the present time. They have proved very effective in practice, and I move -
That after the word “ incurred,” line 4, the words “ not being for a reasonable consideration given at the time or which has the effect of defeating or delaying the creditors or of diminishing the property to be divided among them “ be inserted.
The effect of that amendment would be to include in clause 93 the essence of the lengthy provisions of sections 108 and 109 of the Queensland Act. The opinion of one of the principal trustees of Queensland upon the working of sections 108 and 109 is as follows: -
The Queensland section 108, which is not in Hie new Bill, included every transaction which was not made for a reasonable and sufficient consideration given at the time. This has been availed of by trustees in many cases. The principal provision of the Queensland section 109 rendered voidable any transaction which diminished the property to be divided amongst the creditors. This also has been the means of recovering valuable assets for estates. It will be observed that clause 93 for the avoidance of preferences applies only to creditors, and any person who is not a creditor but is party to a fraudulent transfer of a property cannot be attacked. The Springall v. Lonsdale case affords on excellent illustration of the inefficiency of clause 03. In this case the insolvent, having obtained advances against bond warrants for fictitious butter, bought on credit and delivered to the defendants a large quantity of butter immediately before insolvency. This the trustees won, under the Queesland section 109, because it lessened the dividend payable to the creditors. There was certainly no intent to prefer Lonsdale. The insolvent’s motive was obviously very different. In another,’ the Tronson. case, the insolvent transferred property to his family to defraud- his creditors, the case coming within Queensland sections 108 and 109, but not 107.
Section 107 of the Queensland Act is equivalent to clause !)3 of the Bill. From personal experience I know that the provisions of sections 108 and 109 of the Queensland Act have proved particularly effective, and for that reason I urge the Minister to accept my amendment.
The amendment put forward by Senator Thompson has been carefully considered by the &w advisers of the Government, and their opinion is that the clause as it stands will be better than if it were amended as suggested by the honorable senator. It makes ample provision for the protection of creditors in every respect.
– It does not cover those matters to which I have drawn attention.
– The AttorneyGeneral and the Solicitor-General declare that it does so, and that it would not be strengthened by the insertion of the words which the honorable senator has proposed. If anything is done in the nature of what Senator Thompson seeks to guard against, the transaction becomes void as against a trustee in bankruptcy.
– This clause is practically the same as section 107 of the Queensland Act, which Sir Samuel Griffith in his wisdom saw the necessity of extending by inserting sections 108 and 109. I am merely asking that the essence of those added Queensland sections be included in clause 93, in order to improve it, and make it beyond all shadow of doubt cover those points which we are all so anxious to have included. The opinion of the law advisers of the Crown may be all very well, but in these matters I think some consideration should also be paid to experience. The commercial world has had a good deal more- experience in these matters than the legal advisers of the Crown have had.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Senator Crawford) agreed to -
That the words “ deemed fraudulent and “, line 14, be left out.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Postponed clause 94 -
– I move -
That at the end of sub-clause 1, the following words be inserted : - “ or the presentation of a petition, and that the transaction was in good faith, and in the ordinary course of business.”
This is a drafting amendment to make the clause have a wider . application, and embody in one provision what is now contained in this clause and in clause 95, which, later on, I shall ask the Committee to strike out.
Amendment agreed to.
– Clauses 94 and 95 were postponed at my instigation. I have had an opportunity of discussing these provisions with the Attorney-General (Sir Littleton Groom), but the amendment to’ clause 94 which has just been adopted does not go as far as I understood was intended. It does not cover the requirements I desire in connexion with an amendment of clause 95 which I intended to submit for tho protection of bankers. I desire an assurance from the Minister that a clause to that effect is to be submitted.
– That is so.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Postponed clause 95-
A payment of money or delivery of property to a bankrupt, or to a person claiming by assignment from him, shall, notwithstanding anything in this Act, be a good discharge to the person paying the money or delivering the property, if the payment or delivery is made before the actual date on which the sequestration order is made and without notice of the presentation of a bankruptcy petition, and is either pursuant to the ordinary course of business or otherwise bona fide.
– I ask the Committee to negative this clause.
.- I trust that will not be done, because some honest people who rush to pay a bankrupt will later find that as no allowance has been made by the Legislature, they will be compelled to pay again. Evidently the draftsman considered such a provision necessary, and we should be informed why it is now desired to delete the clause. The amendment which has just been adopted does not meet the position. The clause reads -
A paymont of money or delivery of property to a bankrupt, or to a person claiming by assignment fromhim, shall, notwithstanding anything in this Act, be a good discharge to the person paying the money or delivering the property . . “ . ..
If that provision is deleted, persons making such payments or deliveries will not be protected. The fact that such a clause was drafted conveys to my mmd the strong impression that such protection is necessary. I am satisfied that the amendment to a previous clause docs . not meet the position, and if the clause is struck out many people hearing that a person is on the verge of bankruptcy will pay their money to him, and will find later that they are without protection. This is the clause- that would assist them.
– Look afc paragraph b of clause 94.
– Clause 94, as amended by the Minister, covers clause 95. I am satisfied that it is all right.
– I am conversant with the amendment, and I am satisfied that if the draftsman considered clause 95 of sufficient importance to be embodied in the Bill it should be allowed to stand. I supported Senator Thompson on a previous occasion to make assurance doubly sure, and as we should be careful not to leave anything in doubt, the clause should be allowed to stand. What harm can be done if it i3 not in conflict with any other provision ?
– It is a repetition.
– I challenge the Minister to find anything in any preceding clause which so clearly’ defines what is expressed in clause 95.
– The proviso in clause 94 is practically the same. “
– Clause 95 is merely repetition.
– If such is the case, why was it drafted ? In order to ensure adequate protection to those concerned, I trust the Minister will allow the clause to remain in the Bill. If there is any repetition, ifc is only in the direction of further protecting the person who pays the money.
– In order to give clause 95 any meaning it would have to be amended by inserting after “bankrupt” in the first line, the words “or a person to bo subsequently adjudged bankrupt.” It is sufficiently obvious, on the face of ifc, that certain words lower down would have to be deleted to give the provision any proper meaning. In its present form it is absurd, and there is no reason why it should be retained. The Courts would be embarrassed in trying to interpret it, and what Senator Gardiner desires is already provided in clause 94 as amended.
– It is a debatable point.
– 1 do not wish to debate it if that can be avoided, but in its present form the clause has no meaning.
– I am sorry to disagree with my honorable and learned friend. With Senator Gardiner, I believe that we should keep the clause intact, as ifc appears to me that paragraph b of clatise 94 does not cover exactly what is covered by clause 95, which is more exhaustive, complete, and comprehensive. If Senator Gardiner calls for a. division, I shall support him.
– The Minister for Home and Territories referred, by interjection, to the proviso of clause 94, which reads -
– Certain words have since been added.
– I am well aware of that. An honest person might pay a bankrupt alter sequestration, and if this clause were deleted such a person would still bo liable.
Question - That the clause stand as printed - put. The Commitee divided.
Ayes . . . . 8
Noes . . . . . . 14
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Postponed clause 99 -
Subject to this Act, where a bankrupt is in receipt of pay, pension, salary, emoluments, profits, wages, earnings, or income, the trustee shall receive for distribution amongst the creditors so much thereof as the Court, on the application of the trustee, directs.:
Provided that this section shall not apply to any pay, pension, salary, or wages which by any Act or State Act is made exempt from attachment.
. - I move -
That after the word “attachment” at the end of the clause the words “ or incapable of being assigned or charged “ be added.
– Will the amendment apply to ordinary wages?
– Only where theyare made exempt from attachment by any Commonwealth Act or State Act.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Postponed clause 105, as amended, agreed to.
Postponed clause 133 -
Where ‘it appears to the satisfaction of the Court that any solicitation has been used by or on behalf or with -the consent of a trustee in obtaining proxies or in procuring the trus- ‘ teeship, the Court may, if it think fit, order that no remuneration shall ‘be allowed to the person by whom or on whose behalf such . solicitation has been exercised notwithstanding any resolution of the committee of inspection or of the creditors to the oontrary.
. - It has been said : that I am here to-day to assist certain experts in Queensland, but in urging the deletion of this clause I am certainly acting against their interests. It is only right that canvassing should be permitted. Every man who is seeking new business, or any accountant who has studied insolvency, should have the right to seek the trusteeship of an estate. I understand from the Crown Law officers that a registration list is to be kept of all men who are eligible for trusteeship, but this clause absolutely prevents any one from canvassing for an appointment as trustee.
– Quite right, too.
– It is absolutely wrong, as it imposes a bar against a young man who would handle an estate far better than an aged but inefficient accountant. We have always nad this right in Queensland, and it should be retained. It is very necessary that the clause should be deleted.
– Could not a creditor approach a young accountant instead of the young man approaching the creditor ?
– But creditors do not do that sort of thing. They are busy enough Avithaut chasing young men to ask them to accept trusteeships. A young man usually approaches the creditor, and this has been the practice in Queensland for years past.
– I do not see why soliciting should be prohibited.
– If the . clause is left out the creditors will be free to seek the young man or the young man or any other to offer his services to the creditors. The clause serves no good purpose, but rather, from my point of view, a very bad one, and if deleted it. will not interfere in any way with the Bill. I ask theCommittee to negative it.
SenatorCRAWFORD (QueenslandHonorary Minister) [5.39].-I cannot accept the honorable senator’s suggestion. . The object of the clause is to keep on a high level the status of the brustee, and to ensure, as far as possible, that creditors will choose a trustee by reason of their own knowledge of his capacity, and not because of ex parte representations by interested persons.
– I hope that the Government will stick to the clause as it stands. I differ from Senator Thompson, as it is a painful sight to see these men scrambling like vultures over a body to approach an insolvent when the poor fellow is faced with wretchedness and ruin. It is part of the professional etiquette that no solicitor is allowed to apply or solicit forbusiness. The same practice should apply to accountants. It should be the duty of the creditors to select from reputable men the one who is best qualified to carry out the duties of a trustee.
– I know that some of the very best men in this community have sought creditors’ votes, and the crocodile tears of Senator Benny concerning the- debtor ought to be fully apipineciated by the Senate. The debtor has nothing to do with, and does not care about; the selection of the trustee. ‘ It is a matter affecting the creditors only.
– I shall support Senator Thompson’s request. To mymind, the clause is an attempt to interfere with the liberty of the individual. Senator Beany, as a member of the legal profession, very rightly foresees an inroad into professional etiquetitej but why should any restriction be j>laced upon canvassing or soliciting for business? The old-stager does it “under the lap,” and why should the new-comer be prevented from pushing his own business? The legal profession contend that they live up to certain standards, but in reality they have never done so. They want to incorporate their standards in every Act of Parliament. I am delighted to support Senator Thompson, because it is a step in the right direction to watch closely Acts of Parliament and to delete obstructive provisions which for years past have prevented any interference with the standards of the legal profession. To my mind there is nothing wrong with the liberty that will be given to young fellows if the clause is struck out altogether. There is no advantage to be gained from it except the maintenance of the standards of the legal profession.
– I hold a view quite different from that expressed by Senator Gardiner. It is not desirable to see swarms of “vultures” frequenting the Courts and harassing the unfortunate bankrupt. It is very necessary that men whose . affairs are before the Court should he protected by the inclusion of this clause in die Bill, thus making those soliciting husiness responsible to the Court for their actions. Senator Thompson has instanced the difficulty of young men in securing a position as trustee, but there are plenty of ways for them to prosper other than that of harassing an unfortunate bankrupt. I hope the Government will pass the clause as it stands.
Question - That the clause stand as printed - put.
The; Committee divided.
Ayes . . . ..11
Noes . . . . . . 9
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Postponed clause 220 (Penalty on trustee acting when deed of arrangement void).
– When the Bill was previously before the Committee this clause was postponed at my request. It is dealing with the subject of offences under the Act, but, as I inadvertently missed my opportunity at an earlier stage to submit a certain amendment, I . find that I cannot now object to anything contained in this clause.
First schedule (Meetings of creditors).
– I move -
That after the word “majority” the words “ in value “ be inserted.
– What is the purpose of the amendment ?
– It will make bhe schedule consistent with the rest of the ‘Bill. A question raised alt a meeting of creditors is not to be decided according to the number who vote one way or the other, but according to the amount they represent as creditors.
– I am astonished at this proposal. Suppose there was a bankrupt at a small place a couple of hundred miles west of Sydney. There might be a hundred small local creditors, but, simply because there happened to be two large creditors in Sydney, it might mean compelling the local people to journey all the way to the metropolis. The number of creditors voting, and not the amount owing to them, should be the determining factor.
– I differ from my honorable friend. The people most concerned should have the most to say. I intend to support the Government.
– The large creditors would protect the interests of the small ones.
– I am afraid not.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . 5
Question so resolved in the afhrniatrve.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Crawford) proposed -
That the following new paragraph be inserted after paragraph 8 : - “ 8a. The wife or husband of a ‘bankrupt shall not be entitled to rote at a meeting of creditors.”
– I cannot agree to this proposal. I have heard creditors objecting strenuously in cases of a perfectly bona fide nature. I remember an instance where an insolvent had lent his wife £2,000. The creditors objected most strongly to the wife, voting, although there was never a more honest or sincere transaction. The husband had the heel of his cheque to show that the money had been paid. In these days a man and a woman should be on an equality.
– The schedule goes further than this. It blocks husband or wife from participating in a dividend until all the other creditors have been satisfied.
– That should not be allowed.
Amendment agreed to.
Paragraph 18 -
A creditor may give a general proxy to his manager or clerk, or any other person in his regular employment, or to his barrister, solicitor, or attorney……
Amendment (by Senator Thompson) proposed -
That after the word “ attorney “ the words “ or to a public accountant “ be inserted.
– Why should the paragraph limit those to whom a proxy may be given? There would be nothing wrong in a proxy being placed in the hands of any reputable person.
– A creditor can give a proxy to any person on certain conditions set out in the next paragraph.
– A lawyer drafted thi3 Bill, and I notice that the barrister was not forgotten. Senator Thompson now desires to include another privileged class, namely, public accountants. There are other people who are equally entitled to consideration. Surely if a creditor wanted to appoint a person to do for him something which he could not do himself, he should be allowed to give that man a proxy ? Why should he not have the right to appoint any person ?
– Paragraph 19 gives a creditor full power to give a special proxy to any person to vote at any meeting, special or otherwise.
– I want the same power to be given for a general as for a special proxy. Why should barristers, solicitors, or, as Senator Thompson now proposes, public accountants, be singled out? I might even be persuaded to go so far as to deny the right of barristers to appear in our Courts. Our experience in Federal arbitration matters has shown that when it comes to a display of real ability and knowledge of essential facts, union secretaries can give legal men yards and a beating every time. If Senator Thompson will withdraw his amendment temporarily, I shall test the feeling of the Committee on the question of striking out all the words after “ proxy “ down to “ attorney.” The paragraph would then authorize a creditor to give a general proxy.
– I cannot go the whole distance with Senator Gardiner becausethe next clause covers what he has in view. It authorizes a creditor to give a special proxy to any person, and, therefore, it covers the ground that he is trying to safeguard. However, to meet the honorable senator’s wishes, I ask leave to withdraw my amendment temporarily.
Leave granted; amendment withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Gardiner) proposed -
That the words “ to his manager or clerk, or any other person in his regular employment, or to his barrister, solicitor, or attorney “ be leftout.
– I support the amendment submitted by Senator Gardiner, and indorse his remarks concerning the manner in which union secretaries have conducted the business of their organizations in our Arbitration Courts. I well remember, many years ago, fighting hard in this Senate for the principle of allowing union secretaries, or other persons appointed by unions, to represent them in the Federal Arbitration Court. It was urged then that chaos would result and that the Court would never be able to get on with the business.
-Brookman. -Thathas proved true, unfortunately.
– The honorable senator does not know what he is talking about. The union officials have proved most efficient advocates. In fact, quite a number have been able to give up secretarial work and confine themselves to arbitration matters to the disadvantage of barristers. They have been eminently successful. Why should we now add a public accountant to a list of persons to whom a creditor may give a general proxy? Experience has shown that men with trained minds have not always been the most successful. They rely too much upon the set questions and set answers to get through their examinations and to qualify for their particular professions. Quite recently, in Hobart, a professor told me of the achievement of a Sydney Grammar School student. This young man, he said, being fired with the ambition to get through a certain course in classics with honours, bought three text-books on a Saturday night, and having “ crammed “ his subject, passed with honours on the following Friday. He depended entirely upon” the setanswers to the subject-matter of the examination. These union secretaries to whom Senator Gardiner has referred have acquired their knowledge in a bitter school of experience, and, in spite of what Senator Drake-Brockman has said, they have proved essential to the smooth working of our Federal Arbitration Acts.
– I intend to support Senator Gardiner’s amendment, because I think that a creditor should have the right to give his proxy to the man who, in his judgment, will best look after his interests. We may safely leave this matter to the creditor himself.
– I should like to clear away a misconception which appears to be gaining ground that we are considering a general proxy held by a person for a firm week-in and week-out, and which may be effective for years. I agree with Senator Gardiner that, for a special meeting, a creditor should be able to exercise his right in the way suggested. A firm might send any one in whom it had confidence, and he would be appointed for that meeting. The next paragraph provides for that. I ask him, therefore, to consider whether ifc is proper to give any person a general proxy that would extend from week to- week. I am sure that Senator Foil would not like to give a general proxy to any person, as set out in paragraph 19.
Amendment (by Senator Thompson) again, proposed -
That after the word “ attorney “ the words “ or to a public accountant “ be inserted.
.- I move -
That the amendment be amended by adding the words “or to any reputable person.”
– The paragraph provides that- a creditor may give a general proxy to a manager or clerk, or any other person in. his regular employment, or to his barrister, solicitor, or attorney. I am anxious ten extend this paragraph so that a general proxy may be given to a public accountant, who may act for a firm in many ways, and very often is in its confidence.
– The paragraph would meet the case of a person leaving the country and leaving his prosy with a public accountant.
– Yes, and therefore Senator Gardiner would be well advised not to seek to amend lny amendment.
– A man leaving the country might wish to leave his proxy with his brother.
.- Why should not a creditor be allowed to leave his proxy with his brother? Why should his choice be confined to persons in his employment, or to members of the legal profession ? Senator Thompson advises us to extend the select few by permitting public accountants to hold general proxies, but public accountants have no particular virtues over other reputable persons to whom I would allow general proxies to be given. I shall divide the Senate on the question of whether persons of good character and standing in the community are not entitled to all the privileges provided by our legislation. There is no need for distinctions to be drawn between members of the legal profession and ordinary persons. If I had any business to be done in the Supreme Court, . 1 would just as soon intrust it to an ordinary capable citizen, if I could secure one, as to a solicitor. The sole judge of who should represent him should be the creditor himself. He Would not appoint any one he did not. think fitted to look after his interests. The door should be open wide in this particular direction to all sections of the community. Lawyers and accountants should not be deemed superior to ordinary persons. In their professions they onjoy privileges not warranted by their abilities. If the legal profession were thrown open to the general public, not one man now practising would be practising in ten years. If it were a question of business following merit, and all honorable senators were permitted to transact legal business, how much business would be got by Senator Drake-Brockman and Senator Benny, who are now able to shut out competition and carry on successfully? At present, they need not rise to any great heights in their profession. They have merely to carry on.
– There are two essential qualifications for those who are in the legal profession, and those twoare capacity for work and brains. Any one who possesses those two qualifications can get into the prof(-ssioa.
– It is said that art is the concealing of art. and I suppose that brains are best shown when they are well concealed. I can conceive that brains may be one of the necessitiesfor entrance to the legal profession, but my association with Senator DrakeBrockman has not taught me that they are essential.
– I have not accused the honorable senator of having any brains.
– If the honorable senator had so accused me of having brains I would myself doubt that I had any, but I cannot imagine the honorable senator having the capacity to appreciate whether I possess brains or not. I have never thought that members of the legal profession are specially blessed with those brains which Senator Drake-Brockman assures me are one of the qualifications for admission to the profession, and I have always contended that if the privileges of their profession were removed, they would not hold their own in the open market with other business men. At least, that is the belief I have formed from my association with them, but perhaps that association has been unfortunate. My amendment is to leave it open to the creditor to appoint his own proxy, and not restrict his choice to lawyers, or people in his employ, or even to public accountants, as suggested by Senator Thompson.
– In supporting Senator Gardiner’s amendment rightly or wrongly I may be accused of deserting a union principle to keep business inside the union ranks, but if ever there has been a set of hard-hearted cold-blooded unionists, it has been the “ lawyers’ union.” Senator Drake-Brockman tells us that any one with brains and push can get into the legal profession, but there must be a good many brainy men out of work, because more men who have passed their examinations for law are walking about with nothing to do than there are. in other callings. There are other “ unions “ or branches of the professions who are always attempting to show that trade unionists are very arbitrary in their methods. However, in this Bill the Government are attempting to confine the creditor’s choice to a certain class of persons. I want to see the choice open so that many men who have been able to prove their worth in various Courts, and who are not members of the legal profession, may be chosen to make appearances in the Bankruptcy Court on behalf of creditors. The Employers Federation have taken up men who have proved useful in appearing before the Arbitration Court and have appointed them as their legal advisers. A creditor should be allowed to appoint some one to represent him who is not in the legal profession and may not be a public accountant, but yet knows his business better than the others could possibly do.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
Question - That the words proposed to be added to the amendment be so added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Amendment agreed to.
Senator Crawford. - Yes.
First schedule, as amended, agreed to.
Second schedule (Proof of Debts).
Amendment (by Senator Crawford) agreed to -
That the following words be added to paragraph 12 : - “ provided the creditor satisfies the Court or the trustee that the realization has been effected in a bona fide and proper manner.”
Second schedule, as amended, agreed to.
Third schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Debate resumed from 16th August, 1923 (vide page 2841, Vol. 105), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- The debate on this Bill was adjourned many months ago. I congratulate the Government upon giving the Senate so much time to consider it. This, with the Minister’s explanation, will, as far as I am concerned, expedite the passage of the Bill. I have attacked the administration of Nauru time after time, because, after our soldiers had captured it, the Nationalist Government, as soon as the opportunity arose, paid huge sums of money to the British shareholders. That incident is closed. I raised my voice frequently, and at length, against the agreement, but it is no use continuing to tilt against something which is inevitable. I confess that if the figures given to us are correct, Nauruis much better than I expected. Regarding its future, I have an open mind. When Australia paid £1,500,000 to rich British and also German shareholders - for even they did not get out for nothing - and took rich possessions from poor Germans without paying them a penny, it merited criticism. That part of the business will never be satisfactorily explained to me. The Bill is to give effect to an agreement entered into between Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand for the future management of the Island. The most important provision in it is that the rules, regulations, and laws initiated by the Administrator shall be submitted to this Parliament for approval.
– They will be circulated to the three Governments that are parties to the agreement.
-The Bill will remove from the Administrator the responsibility for those laws, and will place it upon the Minister, who will give Parliament an opportunity to express its opinion. That being the cage, I shall not say any moreabout the Bill, but will allow the Senate to pass it as expeditiously as it may wish.
, - It is several months since the Minister moved the second reading of this Bill. Until they saw the item on the notice-paper to-day. many honorable senators had forgotten it. With the general purposes of i.he Bill, I am in accord. It provides that Ordinance’s made by the Administrator shall be forwarded to each of the three contracting parties for them to approve or disapprove. We can all acquiesce in that provision. As one of the responsible contracting parties, we ought to be in a position to exercise some control over the Administrator. As the Administrator has very wide powers, I wish to bring under the notice of the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) a matter on which I desire information. There is provision in the Mandate for indenting coloured labour, and for an apportionment of the sexes of those introduced, so as to avoid sexual immorality. I have received a communication from the Women’s Non-party Association in South Australia, from which I shall read the following paragraph : -
On behalf of the above Association I am writing to know if you can tell us whether the Convention on the Traffic in Women and Children which Australia ratified in 1922 is being strictly adhered to in the Mandated areas held in trust by the Australian Government. We have heard” that in Nauru male Chinese labour alone is being indented, and would like to know if this is a fact.
If such is the case it is contrary to the convention agreed to in regard to the traffic in women and children. It was provided that a certain proportion of females should bo . introduced into the Pacific Islands, including Nauru, and if that policy is being departed from it is a distinct contravention of the convention. We have heard a good deal, particularly in regard to Fiji, from persons who have visited that island, concerning the deplorable conditions of imported labour there, particularly in regard tosexual immorality. I should be very glad if the Minister could give the Senate some information concerning the position in Nauru, as the question, I think, comes within the scope of the Bill. Otherwise I have no objection to the measure, as it is only proper to provide that the Administrator shall not have the power to do what he pleases in a distant Terri tory over which Australia, as one of the contracting parties, has no immediate supervision. I support the Bill.
– Senator O’Loghlin mentioned this matter to me this afternoon, but I had not an opportunity to refer it to the Department, as the office was then closed. He wishes to know whether the convention to which he alludes has been applied to the Mandated Territory of Nauru. The conventions adopted at the League of Nations, although ratified by the Commonwealth, are not thereby automatically applied to a Territory. They have to be specifically applied, and I am unable to sa)’ at the moment “whether that particular convention has been applied to Nauru. I shall, however, ascertain the exact position and let the honorable senator know. The letter incidentally raises the question of bringing Chinese women with Chinese labourers indented for work in Nauru. I would suggest that it is questionable whether it is in the best interests of the Nauruan people for that to be done. Our first duty is to the Nauruans. There is a large number of natives on the island, and very great care is taken to see that there is no intermingling of the Chinese labourers and the Nauruans. I am glad to say that up to the present there has been no intermingling. We have no desire to establish in Nauru or any other of the islands under our mandate, a permanent Asiatic colony, and i am sure that is the last thing that any honorable senator would wish. I know as a result of administering the Immigration Restriction Act that it is very dangerous to allow the introduction of Asiatic women into the Commonwealth under permits, as when once the wife of an Asiatic is admitted for a period under a permit, our experience has been that when the permit has expired, and the individual has been called upon to return, we have been informed that for family reasons the return at that particular time would create undue hardship. While there may be theoretical reasons why this convention, which is aimed at quite a different thing altogether, should apply in certain cases, we must not infer that it is necessarily right to apply it to all the islands under our mandate. Speaking from memory, I am inclined to think that it does not apply to Nauru. I shall, however, look into the matter, and advise the Senate of the exact position.
– Why is it necessary to indent Chinese labour?
– Because there are insufficient native labourers to meet the demand. The Jfauruau natives are the richest in the Pacific, because they have to be paid’ for the phosphatic rock taken from the island. The deposits belong to them, and they are, therefore, relieved of the necessity of working. It was the practice for Chinese labour to be indented long before the Commonwealth took over Nauru.
– Chinese labourers are brought to the island without their women folk. How long d,o they remain there?
– I think the term is at the longest two years, at the expiry of which period they return.
– The Government expect them to be chaste while there? -
– The Administrator has been able to protect the native races in that regard. I wish to emphasize a point I made when moving the second reading of this Bill, to the effect that the introduction of the measure is not in any sense a reflection upon the Administrator. It is not because the Government do not trust the Administrator, but because, as a matter of fact, he has asked that these particular provisions should be made. Previously he was solely responsible, and if a question of administration came before the League of Nations, the Government would not be responsible because the Administrator acted on his own authority. This Bill provides that every regulation which he brings into force shall’ be notified to the Governments concerned, which must then take the responsibility. It is only fair to make the position clear, because the work of the present Administrator is all that we desire, and he is an officer of which Australia has every reason to be proud.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from Committee without amendment.
Senate adjourned at8.28 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 May 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1924/19240507_senate_9_106/>.