9th Parliament · 2nd Session
The Deputy President (Senator Newland) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Other war services,
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are - 1 and 2.
While the figures just quoted indicate considerable reduction in the expenditure on the services -mentioned, it may be stated that, in other directions, expenditure from revenue has been much increased. The following items may be mentioned: -
Comparing the total expenditure . from revenue in the two years referred to, the year 1924-25 shows a reduction of £750,000.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister. upon notice -
In view of the fact that Tasmania does not grow sufficient wheat for her requirements, will the Government see that, in the event of their entering into any arrangement connected with the marketing of the exportable surplus of wheat, sufficient stocks will be reserved for Tasmania’s needs?
– The Commonwealth Government does not propose to make any arrangement with regard to marketing the exportable surplus of the coming season’s wheat. The matter is being left entirely in the hands of -the states.
Compensation for Injuries Received Outside Australia
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
When will the Government bring down amending legislation which will enable citizens of Australia - who, while engaged in the service of the Commonwealth, but outside Australia, receive injuries which render them permanently incapacitated for employment-to participate in the benefits of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act?
– The matter will be considered in relation to any future amendment of the provisions of the Invalid and. Old-age Pensions Act.
Widows of Deceased Public Servants.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
When will the Governmentbring down an amending Superannuation Bill, to enable widows of deceased officers of the Commonwealth Public Service to participate in the benefits of the Superannuation Fund?
– The proposed amendment is being considered, together with other suggested amendments of the Superannuation Act, and it is hoped that it will be possible to introduce the necessary legislation at an early date.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
Does the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States of Queensland and . New South Wales relating to the construction of the railway from Kyogle to Beaudesert, and the reconstruction of the line from Grafton to Kyogle, provide for the construction of the bridge over the Clarence?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is - No.
Bill (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Gardiner) agreed to-
That leave be given to . bring in a bill for an act to amend the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act 1920-22, to provide a pension for widows of members who served with the forces.
Debate resumed from 7th August (vide page 2904), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– I secured the adjournment of the debate on this bill, not so much with the object of discussing it on the second reading, as for the reason that, seeing that it deals with works and buildings in the districts represented by most honorable senators, I did not desire -to accept the responsibility of allowing it to pass without giving them an opportunity to speak. The bill is essentially one for consideration in committee, and I shall not, therefore, enter into a lengthy discussion of it at this stage.
– Has the attention of the Minister been drawn recently to what appears to be a permanent eyesore in William-street, Sydney, where the Post Office-
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable senator has asked a question in relation to a matter con nected with the administration of the Postmaster-General’s Department. This bill contains no vote for that department. I ask whether it is in order, on the second reading of this bill, to discuss the administration of the Postmaster-General’s Department ?
– The Minister has stated that there is no provision in this bill for the construction, out of revenue, of works in the Postmaster-General’s Department. In the circumstances, are we not permitted to draw the attention of the Government to the fact that no such provision is made ?
– I should not raise a point of order on that.
– If, as the Minister admits, his point of order would not hold good in regard to my indicating in a general way that no such provision is made, it must be equally open to every honorable senator to draw attention to the fact that no provision is made for a particular work.’ On the ground that the greater includes the less, I consider that it is permissible in connexion with this bill for an honorable senator to . point out any omissions.
– Supposing provision is made in another bill?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newland). - I think that Senator Grant will be in order in raising the question of the general expenditure in connexion with the Postmaster-General’s Department under this bill, even though it is not specifically provided for in this bill. There are, of course, certain limi- , tations, but the honorable senator will be in order in asking a question.
– The post office building in ‘William-street, Sydney-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator -Newland). - The honorable senator must not enter into details concerning the particular building which he has mentioned. He will have an opportunity of discussing that matter more fully at a later date.
– I should like to know why provision has noi been made in this bill for the removal of the post office in William-street, Sydney, which is an eyesore. The Sydney City Council has incurred expense in widening the whole of the street, and made it one of the most up-to-date thoroughfares in the Commonwealth, equal almost in parts to St. Kildaroad, Melbourne. This building really stultifies the work done by the Sydney City Council. From information I gathered some time ago, it appeal’s that the Government have decided to remove the building, and a sum should, therefore, be provided for this purpose. There are also a number of other eyesores in Sydney, one in particular being the lamps outside the Sydney General Post Office.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newland). - The honorable senator must not evade my ruling by discussing items which are not mentioned in the bill.
– I thought I would be in order, Mr. Deputy President, in briefly referring to these matters. This post office cannot be removed until money is provided for the purpose.
– For the’first time in the history of the Commonwealth, no provision whatever has been made in an Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill for expenditure from revenue on the new postal works. It is obvious why the Treasurer has departed from the practice followed last year, when provision was made for an expenditure of £220,000 out of. revenue. I know that the Minister will say that, as special provision has since been made in regard to sinking fund arrangements there is no necessity to pay for any of these new works out of revenue. I join issue definitely with the Minister on that point. There is a reason why some of these works should be paid for out of revenue. I am not referring to the extension of telephone services, the undergrounding of wires, the building of post offices, or works of that description. Honorable senators who have had experience in these matters know that it does not matter how small a new work may be, whether it is simply a telephone box within or outside a post office, or even the erection of a new letter box, the expenditure will not be met out of revenue. That is going to the other extreme. It is carrying the loan policy in respect to this department too far to pay for small works of this character out of loan money. Last year the Treasurer found £220,000 for minor works. If he had acted similarly this year, the department would have shown a deficit, so everything has been placed under the Loan Estimates. I merely wish to utter a definite protest against the proposal. The principle is wrong in respect of the minor operations of this great business department, as works of a minor character should be paid for out of current revenue, and not charged to loan account.
– Yesterday I asked a question in connexion with a promise made by the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) that a postal institute would be established at the Perth General Post Office. The secretary to the’ postal assistants’ organization in Western Australia stated that he had been informed that £3,000 would be placed on the Estimates for the purpose of establishing such an institute. The answer I received was that no such promise had been made, and that funds were not available for the purpose. I should like to know if the Acting PostmasterGeneral (Senator Crawford) can recommend that sufficient money be provided to at least make a start with the establishment of such an institute. As there is a postal institute in Melbourne, and I believe one in Sydney, there does not appear to be any reason why a start should not be made in establishing one in Perth. Such institutes are of great assistance to the officers, as they provide facilities of a recreational as well as an educational character.
– In common with other honorable senators, I cannot understand why it is the policy of the Government to borrow money on which interest has to be paid for postal undertakings when the department is making a substantial profit. As Senator Greene has pointed out, the cost of all new works of a minor character will in future have to be paid out of loan money instead of out of revenue. . The’p’olicy is wrong, and I should like the Minister to explain why it is necessary to carry on the business in this way?
– The answer to the question raised by Senator Grant regarding the post office in William-street, Sydney, is that if the building to which he refers were demolished, there would not be a suitable office in which to carry on the postal work. A new building is in course of construction, and when it is completed and equipped, the work now undertaken at the William-street office will be transferred to the new building.
– It was estimated that that work would be completed in two years.
– To-day builders proceed with due deliberation. There is no such thing as a rush in the building trade. That is not clue to the policy of the Government.
– The difficulty has arisen in connexion with the equipment of . the building. The Government neglected to provide, in advance, for its requirements.
– The honorable senator must not forget that the war upset all our calculations, and Australia, in common with other countries, found it impossible to obtain material ordered well in advance. Orders were placed well in advance, but some were not filled for three years.
– The demand is, even now, very keen for certain equipment.
– Yes; some of the orders placed during the war period have not yet been executed. The Acting PostmasterGeneral (Senator Crawford) has made a note of the point raised by Senator Needham, and will look into the matter. It is quite true, as Senator Greene states, that no provision is made in this bill for meeting out of revenue the expenditure on new postal works. Honorable senators knew that that was to be the policy, because, when the amending National Debt Sinking Fund Bill was recently before the Senate, it was explained that postal works of a capital nature were in future to be financed from loan funds. Paragraph cc of section 2 of the act of 1924 provides for the amendment of section 9 of the principal act so that the Treasurer shall be required to pay into the trust fund -
That provision was not in existence prior to this year; but it is now in operation. Senator Greene is somewhat astray in saying that a vote last year was for minor expenditure. If he refers to page 10 of the bill, he will find that the total expenditure last year was £240,026, of which £238,885 was for the construction and extension of telegraphs, telephones, conduits, and the undergrounding of wires. That is not a minor work. It is purely capital expenditure on a service which will be required to pay not only working expenses and interest on capital, but also substantial contributions towards the sinking fund.
– I have no doubt that the amount included a number of minor works.
– The total cost of the minor works paid out of revenue last year was £1,141.
– I believe they were all minor works:
– No ; if the honorable senator will peruse the schedule, he will find that provision was made for new works, the construction of new lines, and the undergrounding of already existing lines to render the service more efficient.
– Are the Government not adopting this policy in order to show a fictitious profit?
– No; for the first time, the Post and Telegraph Department is being placed upon a business basis, and is paying for its own works. Prior to this year, the balance-sheet could be regarded as fictitious, as we did not know whether the department was payingor not. It has to pay working expenses, interest on capital, and also contribute towards the sinking fund. It is a perfectly justifiable policy to pursue, and its non-adoptron would lead to a restriction of postal extensions.
– Yes, it would, if the progress of the construction of postal works were to be limited by the amount of revenue available.
– I did not suggest that.
– At any rate that would be the only alternative if the honorable senator’s advice were followed, and these works were not to be paid for out of loan.
– The Minister is deliberately misrepresenting me.
– I am not. I am taking the logical outcome of the honorable senator’s contention that this blank should not appear in the revenue expenditure opposite the items of postal expenditure for which £220,000 was voted last year. It would mean that the progress of postal work would slow down, and would depend upon the amount of revenue available. The view of the Government is that postal services should be extended to meet the legitimate demands of the community, and that at the same time they should be required to return working expenses, interest, and sinking fund on the capital outlay. That is a better policy, and a more business-like one than would be the policy of construction according to the amount of revenue available. I have no apologies to make for the course we have adopted. It is perfectly legitimate, and is distinctly in the interests of the community, who will greatly benefit by the more rapid extension of postal services.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. Senator Pearce has declared that the desire I expressed that minor postal works should be charged to revenue necessarily involved that all postal works essential to the development of Australia . should be charged to revenue. I did not intend to suggest that. I have always been a firm advocate of charging all postal extension works to loan funds, and 1 merely rose to point out that I did not think it right that minor postal works - small matters which did not affect the progress of Australia - should be charged to loan funds. I regret that the Minister should have gone out of his way to misrepresent entirely what I said.
– I did not misrepresent the honorable senator. At any rate, I did not intend to do so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Issue and application oi £403,789).
– As this clause covers the appropriation for the whole of the works included in the schedule, I take it that honorable senators are more or less free to discuss any proposal for expenditure upon new works and buildings. I avail myself, therefore, of the opportunity to lay before the Government the position in regard to the erection of Commonwealth offices ‘ in Brisbane, a work which has been contemplated for a considerable time. “When I was a member of the Public Works Committee a proposal to build Commonwealth offices in Brisbane was considered by that committee. Brisbane was visited and exhaustive evidence was taken. The committee was unanimous that the offices now occupied by the Commonwealth in Brisbane were not worthy of being used for Commonwealth activities. In many cases they are badly lighted and ventilated. They are overcrowded, and are spread all over the city. No two departments are housed in the same building. One of the worst sufferers was the taxation department, but because of the recent amalgamation with the state taxation department that position has been relieved. I understand, however, that the electoral department and the Treasury offices are housed in buildings badly lighted, badly ventilated, and sadly overcrowded. I think I am right in saying that one of the buildings occupied by the Commonwealth has recently been sold, and that it will be necessary for a new lease to be arranged or fresh premises secured, which will be a difficult matter because of the great progress of Brisbane and Queensland generally. In its report, the Public Works Committee emphasized the fact that it was desirable that the Commonwealth should have its own offices in Brisbane, and that the work of building those offices should be undertaken at the earliest possible moment. I know that the Minister, in reply, will’ tell me that the agitation which has taken place in Brisbane in regard to the erection of buildings on either side of what is known as Anzac Square has to a degree been responsible for the delay, but a considerable time has elapsed since arrangements were made to make a site available for the Commonwealth, and I see no reason why the work of construction should not be proceeded with at once. In view of the scattered nature of the Commonwealth departments in Brisbane, and of the desirability of having our officers housed under decent conditions, I urge the Government to expedite this work. The other day I drew the attention of Senator Crawford to the fact that the post office at Laidley, one of the oldest and most solid towns in Queensland, had been burnt down, and that the postmaster who -receives a rent allowance of £20 had been obliged to find other premises, for which he was required to pay £60 a year. “Unfortunately the building destroyed, by fire had only been taken over from the contractor three days previously, and the whole of the loss fell on the Government; but it is now six months since the fire occurred, and it is only reasonable to ask that the building should be replaced.
– The bill contains no mention of proposed expenditure for the- Postal Department.
– That is what I am complaining of.
– For the Laidley post office £5,000 is provided in the loan estimates.
– I am satisfied with that information, and I hope that immediately the money is made available the work of replacing; the post office will be commenced. The condition of post offices in Queensland is well worth investigating.. Senator Crawford, who is Acting Postmaster-General, is more conversant with these matters than I am, and he knows that many of the postal buildings in that state are not up to the standard, and do not compare with state buildings alongside them
– I regret to have again to call the attention of the - honorable senator to the fact that he is discussing a matter which is not contained in the bill.
– I have no wish to dispute your ruling, Senator Kingsmill, not only because I know that it is in accordance with the Standing Orders, but also because of my personal regard for you. However, I am sure you agree with me that it is a pity provision for these works is not made in the bill, thus avoiding the need for you to call me to order, and for me to draw attention to the omission.
– The honorable senator knows that1 the Government have been most ener getic in attending to the matter of providing Commonwealth offices in Brisbane, and that, accompanied by responsible officers, I paid a visit to Queensland, to reach finality in the matter. The result of the negotiations which then took place demonstrated how wise the Government were in not proceeding with the erection of Commonwealth offices as recommended by the Public Works Committee. In saying this, I have no desire to blame the Public Works Committee for their report. They could not be aware of what was subsequently to come about. The Government will be in a very much better position under the new agreement. It will enable us to save at least £100,000 on the building to be erected. However., as the matter had already been referred to the Public Works Committee, we thought it only right, and, as a matter of fact, it was in accordance with the requirements of the Public Works Committee Act that, when the fresh negotiations had reached finality, the work should be again referred to the committee. That has been done, and the Government are now awaiting a report from the committee. If the honorable senator has any complaints about the delay, I suggest that he should have a few words with some of the members of the Public Works Committee.
– I shall take an early opportunity to do so.
– It is only right that I should explain that the Public Works Committee has just had referred to it the proposal to build Commonwealth offices at Brisbane, and that it is impossible for the committee to visit Brisbane at the present timeAs honorable members are aware, quite a number of members of this Parliament are now from various causes absent, and if the Public Works Committee obtained permission to visit Brisbane, and take evidence, while Parliament was sitting, as would be necessary to hasten matters, it would very much deplete the number of members- of either House available to attend the sittings of Parliament.
– How long has the committee had the matter referred to it?
– For about a fortnight. As soon as Parliament adjourns the committee will visit Brisbane. In the meantime, preliminary evidence will be taken in Melbourne to facilitate proceedings in Brisbane. The committee has done everything it can in the matter.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Schedule - .
Home and Territories Department.
Proposed vote, £20,000.
SenatorGRANT (New South Wales) [11.47]. - In view of the limited information available in . regard to the Northern Territory, will the . Minister (Senator Pearce) indicate to . the committee upon what works the vote is to be expended ?
– I shall be glad to supply that information. There is £1,000 provided for hospital additions. Most of ‘this money will be . used for hospital accommodation in the interior of the Northern Territory, but some of it will be devoted to the Port Darwin hospital. For water boring there is arre-vote^of £19,363 from last year, and . the estimatedexpenditure for 1924-25 on new services is as follow: -
I might mention, in reference to the item of £2,500 for Breardon’s Dam, that it is intended to give a practical test to a suggestion that in the country in the vicinity of the Macdonnell Ranges, where there is a rainfall of about 10 or 12 inches per annum, it would be possible to conserve water fairly cheaply by means of surface dams. The ex-Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Stewart), who has a practical knowledge ofthe Mallee country, is quite confident that that can be done, and will be cheaper than the present practice ofproviding wells and bores. This year, therefore, it is proposed to make an experiment on a site . selected by Mr. Keith Ward, !the Government Geologist of South Australia.
– -Is any portion of this vote to be used in prospecting ‘for oil ?
– No. Regarding the expenditure at Wave ‘Hill, let me remind honorable senators that at present there is a’ stock route running from Newcastle Waters to Queensland. It is well supplied with bores every 20 or 30 miles, but there is no similar provision on the stock route from Wave Hill towards Wyndham. Since a considerable number of cattle are sent to Wyndham for treatment, the Government now proposes to tackle the problem that that stock route presents.
– Is this expenditure for new wells, or for the maintenance of existing wells?
– For new wells, and in some cases for the deepening of existing wells and the maintenance of the machinery. The total expenditure on the new services, when completed, will, it is estimated, be £47,033. The works of which I have given particulars represent only part of that expenditure, for much of the work will take over twelve months to complete.
– What progress is being made at the present time?
– The work is progressing. A contractor is now engaged on the Wave Hill route, and the work is also proceeding at the Charlotte Waters bore. Dr. Stefansson told me yesterday that he saw the men at work at Charlotte Waters, and they hoped that when the bore had been sunk another 100 feet it would be finished. I desire to correct a false impression that has been created by a criticism in another place. In one of his articles in the Melbourne press, Dr. Stefansson related the tragedy of a drover proceeding with cattle in the direction of Adelaide. He got on well until he reached Charlotte Waters, but on going further south he found, to his dismay, that the machinery . at the next well had broken down. Since there was another well 20 miles further on, he continued his journey with the cattle, hoping that water would be obtainable there. On arrival, however, he found that this machinery, too, . was out of order, af act which he had no means of ascertaining beforehand. . Although his stock had already travelled 40 or 50 miles without water, he then had to take them another 30 miles. On this account the Home and Territories Department came in for some very severe criticism in the other branch of the legislature. Dr. Stefansson explained to me yesterday that the well to which he ‘referred was not in the Northern Territory, but was under the control of ‘the South Australian Government. I trust, therefore, that that criticism will not be repeated.
– Is supervision exercised over these wells to prevent them from falling into disrepair?
– Yes; one of the duties of the district police is to keep an eye on the wells. Dr. Stefansson intends to write a book on his travels. It will be of great educational value, and will be circulated in the United States of America and Canada. Tho Commonwealth Government provided facilities to enable him to accompany Mr. Keith Ward, who was asked to furnish the Government with a report on the progress of £he works at the places visited. In my opinion the Commonwealth has had good value for its money in the excellent articles that have been written by Dr. Stefansson. They are being published, not only in Australia, but they are appearing in newspapers in other parts of the world. I hope that they will help to dispel some of the false ideas that exist regarding the interior of Australia.
– Was any arrangement made for Dr. Stefansson to publish reports on his travels in Australia ?
– He will submit a report to the Government. He is now engaged in preparing it, and when it is completed’ I shall have much pleasure in presenting it to Parliament. The vote includes £1,400 for additions to buildings, and £7,961 for roads, culverts, and bridges. The Government is not attempting to make roads in the Northern Territory ; that would be far too vast a problem to tackle at the present time, but it is intended to make some provision to enable motor and other traffic to cross the numerous creeks which are periodically flooded. As a matter of fact, a great deal of the Northern Territory country is ideal for motor traffic. Tussocks are troublesome, but I have travelled up to 40 miles an hour over virgin country in a Ford car. The creeks, in which great quantities of silt are deposited, need to have temporary crossings, and, therefore, the Government has decided to make provision for them at the most difficult points. For the police station at Pine Creek £282 is provided. The present home for halfcastes at Alice Springs is quite unsuitable, and is close to an hotel. A good building is required, and the Government has asked for a preliminary vote of £2,500. Money is required for police stations in various parts of the Territory, for the present buildings are in a disgraceful condition. The sum set down for this purpose represents a continuation of the vote made last year. There is also £500 for the -erection of a magazine for the storage of explosives at Port Darwin. The total expenditure on works now contemplated in the Northern Territory will, it is estimated, amount to £62,626. The amount provided this year towards the cost of that programme is £20,000.
.- I congratulate the Minister (Senator Pearce) on the fact that money is to be provided for the necessary works which he has indicated. When certain members of the Public Works Committee visited the Territory over two years ago, practically all the works now contemplated were recommended as urgently necessary. I regret that it has taken two and a half years since members of the Public Works Committee reported on the matter for the Government to decide to establish a bungalow for half-castes in a suitable locality. The present building is certainly in a disgraceful condition. Why was £9,000 brought forward from last year’s vote for the improvement of wells and bores?
– The various contractors did not make the progress that was anticipated.
– At least 50 per cent, of the wells visited by members of the Public Works Committee were in a state of disrepair, the machinery being on the point of collapse and the timbers rotten. I hope that the Minister will push on with all possible speed with the work of placing these wells in a proper state of repair. I give Dr. Stefansson every credit for the good work that he has done in drawing attention to this matter, but it strikes one as rather peculiar that although the Public Works Committee and the party from the Department of Home and Territories have reported the lack of adequate watering facilities and recommended improvements, publicity was not given to the matter until attention was pointedly directed to it by a stranger from, another land.
– I am rather pleased that I asked the Minister (Senator Pearce) to give the committee some information regarding the Northern Territory. The Territory swallows up a considerable amount of the Consolidated Revenue of the Commonwealth. It is proposed to expend this year £96,610. That sum, together with the interest bill of £79,700, will make a total expenditure on the Territory for the current financial- year of £176,310. I listened with a good deal of attention to the statement of the Minister, because I am interested in the development of the Northern Territory. I have not yet had time to visit it, but I hope to do bo.
– We shall be pleased to give the honorable senator every “ facility to visit the Northern Territory.
– I understand that the Northern Territory comprises something like 500,000 square miles, yet it has a population of less than 3,000 persons. I am not at all satisfied with its development. Every effort that so far has been made to settle it has been thwarted in some way, and apparently the present conditions will continue for an indefinite period. The provision of a water supply for stock is a very valuable and permanent work, which must have excellent results. It is somewhat strange that it should be necessary to construct a stock route, and provide a water supply on that route, across to Wyndham, when there is a route to the Queensland railhead.
– Each of those routes will serve a different district.
– I understand that it would be very undesirable to drove stock from the western to the eastern side of the Territory, merely in order to reach the Queensland rail-head. Whilst I approve of the proposed expenditure, I should like to see a good deal more attention paid to the development of the Northern Territory. In particular, 1 should like to see the Territory represented in the Senate.
– The honorable senator is going beyond the provisions of the bill in discussing the representation of the Northern Territory in the Senate.
– If the Northern Territory had conferred upon it some form of local government it might be able to dispense with a large amount of Commonwealth expenditure that is now found to be necessary. Apparently the belief is that the Northern Territory will require for a long time to be supported by the other states. I do not agree with those who look upon the interior of Australia as a desert. From articles I have read in various journals,- that is a misnomer, and it is well to have such an erroneous idea dispelled by visits similar to those that were made by the Public Works Committee and Dr. Stefansson The Northern Territory is large enough and wealthy enough to depend upon its own resources. The sooner it does that, the better for the Territory and the Commonwealth.
.- I am very glad that the Minister (Senator Pearce) has had this amount placed upon the Estimates for the provision of wells along stock routes in the Northern Territory. I urge him to have the- existing wells inspected, to see if they are in a proper state of repair. A great deal of trouble and expense can be saved if repairs are undertaken before the wells become completely blocked up. One must have had the experience of droving a mob of cattle along a dry track to realize the sufferings through which they pass, and the anxieties that beset those who are in charge of them It is extremely difficult to hold in check cattle that are nearly mad with thirst; especially when a well is reached thai is out of order, and the animals smell the water at the mouth of the bore. Apart from the anxiety of the men in charge of the herd, there is the loss sustained by the owner, because the condition of the beasts depreciates very rapidly when long dry stretches have to be negotiated, and when they reach their destination their quality is so poor that they are of very little use. I know what it is to be thirsty, and to Be compelled to go without water’ “for fairly lengthy periods. Therefore, my sympathies are always with the men who are battling against drought conditions. The only way to ensure the prosperity of the Northern Territory is to stock it with cattle, and the stock-owners t who are doing their best to improve the conditions, should not have their difficulties increased by neglect- on the part of the Government to do its duty in sinking wells along stock routes, and keeping them in a proper state of repair.
. -Like other honorable senators, I am deeply interested in the Northern Territory, and I know a little about it. Any information that I can obtain respecting the progress that is being made will be of assistance to me and to other honorable senators. We know that Parliament approved of the extension of the railway from the Katherine River southward. Does this proposed vote include a sum for work on that railway ?
– That” expenditure is provided for by a loan act.
– I shall be pleased if the Minister will indicate the progress that is being made with the construction of that line, because it is part and parcel of the developmental work of the Territory.
– The work of constructing tine railway is being proceeded with, but, as the honorable member knows, the difficulty that has to be faced is the Katherine River, which it is impossible to cross in the wet season. Realizing that, the railway authorities came to the conclusion that before they could push on with the railway on the opposite side of the- river it was necessary to have a bridge constructed across the river. Contracts have been let for the supply of bridge material, and.- the piers are being erected. I should say that in the early part of the coming year the bridge will be completed, and it will then be possible to take material across it, and continue the construction of the railway to Daly Waters, which has been approved by Parliament. A survey of that portion of the line is now being made, and’ as soon as the bridge has been constructed we shall be able to go right ahead with the work as far as Daly Waters.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £311,525.
– I should like to pay a tribute to the work that is being done at the aeroplane experimental station that was recently erected by the Defence Department at Randwick. New South Wales. A few days ago I visited that station with the Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden). It would be well worth the time of any honorable senator to go there and see the work that is being, done by the young officer in charge. A number of very, interesting experiments are being carried out. 1 hope that the department will’ not be niggardly in making funds available for extended operations.
, - I. think I should not be acting fairly to the committee’ if I did not give some information as to what is proposed in regard to munitions supply. Towards the cost of machinery and plant for the manufacture of munitions not now produced in Australia, there - is in this proposed vote a sum of £51,523. This vote is for the purchase of machinery for the manufacture of tools and gauges for shop equipment, cranes,, boilers, furnaces, and electrical’ plant, for the following factories, namely, high explosives and filling, cartridge cases and fuses, gun carriages and shells, and machine guns and pistol. The total estimated cost. of this programme is £452,350; of which amount £117,672 was spent to the 30th June, 1924. Item No. 2, £20,000, deals with preliminary and’ experimental work, raw material, and stores, wages* and other expenses in connexion with the initiation and’ maintenance of munitions production. This vote is to meet the cost of labour in the new factories, reserves of stores for the existing factories, and stores and supplies generally for the new factories.
– Is it proposed to meet out of’ revenue the whole of the estimated cost of £452,350, or is some proportion to be obtained from a special vote? The sum of £117,672 has already been spent, and it is proposed to spend £51,523 on new works. Is any further sum being spent out of special votes for these factories?
– Yes ; out of the special vote for munitions supply, to which I referred when dealing with the budget statement. That part of the expenditure is being met out of revenue only. In connexion with item 2, the expenditure last year was devoted to the overhaul and repair of the munitions plant purchased from the British Government, experimental work on the new types of munitions not previously made here, such as fuses, machine guns, pistol ammunition, &c, purchases of reserves of stores for the existing factories, and the materials required for starting the new factories, temporary assistance to staff engaged in developing the programme, as well as a number of .minor items, largely liabilities in connexion with work which was commenced during the previous year. That, together with the special vote to which I referred just now, has brought us within appreciable distance of the time when we shall be able to make shells for field and machine guns; as well as revolvers and fuses; and thus become independent so far as those most important munitions are concerned.
– Is there any proposal to manufacture Mills bombs?
– A factory in which fuses, high explosives, and machine gun parts are made, can make any kind of bomb. There is nothing intricate in connexion with the making of a bomb, apart from the time-setting fuse or the fuse that explodes the T.N.T.. We have facilities in Australia for making cordite, and included in the programme is provision for making T.N.T.
– Has it been decided to construct all the arsenals in the Federal Territory?.
– It is not proposed to concentrate all the munition factories in the Federal Territory. The Government proposes to continue the manufacture of munitions at the Lithgow factory, and at Maribyrnong, as well as in other parts of the Commonwealth.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Trade and Customs Department.
Proposed vote, £5,979.
– I am sorry that the Government still insists on interfering with the natural flow of trade. The interference with trade which has been brought about by the establishment of the Customs House is very aggravating. In addition, honorable senators no doubt recollect that the Tariff Board-
– Is the- honorable senator referring to any works item in the “.bill?
– I am referring to the item, £5,979, the total for division
No. 10. If there were no Customs House in existence, it would be much more difficult for the officers to prevent the free flow of commerce; but once they are housed in a building, they seem to become entrenched, and they get their victims one by one, and compel them to pay taxation. This policy of taxing the production of other countries still survives.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I cannot allow the honorable senator to discuss the policy of taxation in connexion with the Estimates for the provision of works for the Department of Trade and Customs.
– Then I shall not attempt to conflict with your ruling, but shall take a later opportunity to express my views.
.- I draw the attention of the Minister to the difficulties which are experienced. by the officers employed by the Customs Department in connexion with the taxation of motor cars which come to Australia from other countries. This is a matter-
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable senator is infringing the ruling which I have just given.
– I did not hear any reference to motor cars.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I point out to honorable senators that it is not competent for them on an item to provide facilities for the transaction of Customs business to discuss the general taxation policy. I ask them to confine their remarks to those items which are before us.
– I shall not attempt to evade your ruling, Mr. Temporary Chairman, but I point out that we are providing over £5,000 for the purpose of extending the Customs- Department.
– The general estimates will be before us presently.
– To spend money in that direction will aggravate the complaints of Senator Grant and myself.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN I do not desire to prevent Senator Grant or Senator Foll from making a complaint, but I insist that they shall make it in the proper place. This bill has no bearing on the subject-matter of their complaints.
.- Shall I be in order in inviting the attention of the committee to the delay which occurs in connexion with the transaction of business at the Sydney Customs House?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Does the honorable 6enator refer to delays due to the nature of the construction of the building?
– Some time ago I endeavoured to obtain information respecting the introduction into Australia of some sample logs from New Guinea. I desired to be supplied with the papers necessary to enable me to get the logs from the wharf, and accordingly repaired to the Customs House. Notwithstanding the palatial building in which the department is housed in Sydney, the officers there did not seem able to find a crevice in which to place the forms for their prospective victims to fill in. At any rate, the forms were not available.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable senator is not in order.
– In that case, I shall take advantage of a subsequent occasion to air my complaint regarding the many devices resorted to by the Customs House authorities in Sydney for the fleecing of their victims.
.- I trust that I shall be in order in drawing attention at this stage to certain difficulties in connexion with the transaction of business at the Customs House, Sydney^ I refer to the out-of-date and slow-working lifts in use there. A young man like myself who has business to transact in that Customs House, instead of using the out-of-date elevators, prefers to walk up the steps. No one will use the lifts.
– A person desiring to transact business in that building, and proposing to use the lifts, should first bid farewell to his friends. The lifts travel so slowly that he will be away a long time.
– Something should be done to fit the lifts to do expeditiously the work required of them. No private firm in the country would tolerate the use of such out-of-date machinery.
.- The sum of £747 is set down for the Institute of Science and Industry. In view of the great interest that you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, have always taken in this institute, I consider that this is an appropriate occasion for ‘ you to leave the Chair in order that you may once again express your views. A severe handicap is placed upon you by your occupancy of the Chair when an item . of this nature is under discussion. Were I as conversant with this subject as you yourself are, I should endeavour to act as your deputy until a transfer of Chairman could be made, but I have not made such a study of the subject as you have done. I feel that you will be aggrieved if this item goes through without your having had an opportunity to express your dissatisfaction at the small sum of money made available for the establishment and equipment of the Institute of Science and Industry. I remind Senator Pearce that this matter was discussed recently. Not very long ago, as the result of a motion by Senator Kingsmill to lay on the table of the Senate the papers in connexion with the Forests Products Laboratory, a free discussion took place in this chamber. The Senate then showed itself to be dissatisfied with the existing position. Yet we find that the small sum of £747 only is to be provided. What is that amount for? Is it to help the work *of the Institute of Science and Industry? Is it an indication that the Government seriously intends to continue this department, or does it mean that it is to be dispensed with?
– The amount is only for the purchase of some equipment.
– The discussion on this small item may serve as a very useful prelude to the larger discussion which will follow, On behalf of Senator Kingsmill who, because of his occupancy of the Chair is prevented from speaking, I ask the reason for this item.
– The honorable senator may ask for the information on his own behalf.
– I trust that’ the information asked for will be supplied by the Minister.
– For the establishment and equipment of the Institute of Science and Industry the sum of £3,342 was voted by Parliament for 1923-24, but at the end of the year only £923 had been expended. If, when those Estimates were framed, it was considered by the Government that the sum of £3,342 was necessary to meet the demands of the position, why was so small a sum expended. It is impossible for the Institute of Science and Industry to function as it should unless it is properly equipped. Last year the Government evidently recognized that fact, and provided a sum of money sufficient to enable the Institute to procure a great deal of equipment necessary to its investigation of a number of matters then engaging its attention. For some unknown reason the Treasurer, after securing from Parliament the authority to vote this money for the institute, has failed to make it available. As only £923 of the £3,342 voted last year has been expended, it is not surprising that the director, in his annual report, has complained most bitterly of the Government keeping the institute painfully short of funds; indeed, to such an extent that it was almost impossible for it to perform any useful work. Although it was estimated that £3,342 was necessary last year, and only £923 was expended, it is now proposed to vote only £747. Is it seriously suggested that it is possible for the institute to carry on useful work with such limited funds?
– This is merely for equipment.
– I know that.
SenatorFoll. - The department spent only one-fourth of the money voted last financial year.
– The Treasurer would not make it available.
– The Treasurer cannot interfere when once the money has been voted.
– The complaint of the director of the institute is that the money is not made available, and because of that it is impossible to provide the essential equipment.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the director did not get the equipment for which he asked?
– That seems to be the case. Some explanation is necessary as to why the £3,342 voted was not expended. The director must have re ported that equipment to that value was necessary, otherwise the Government would not have made the money available. The Minister suggests that the institute can get all the equipment it desires. The statements are conflicting, and the Minister should give some information as to why the department is being starved. When the institute was created we had the highest hopes that it would be of great value to Australia in overcoming many of the pressing and important problems that confronted it, but as the amount voted has been whittled down from £3,342 last’ year to £747- heaven only knows what it will be next year - how can we expect beneficial results? Probably the department, will succumb to anaemia, or some similar malady. If the institute is of any value its operations should be allowed to extend, and if it is not performing a useful service for the community, the Government should have the courage to ask Parliament to repeal the act under which it was constituted.
– In the general Estimates for this year, there is an item’of £24,755 proposed to be voted for the Institute of Science and Industry. I understand that the small amount of £747 mentioned in this bill is for a distinct and specific object.
– It is stated in the bill that it is for establishment and equipment.
– Yes. The institute is one of the most important of our governmental activities, and has taken in hand the solution of problems which, up to the present, have defied the skill of the most expert scientists in the Commonwealth. Notwithstanding the work of the institute, the activities of the permanent board recently established by the Queensland Government, and the efforts of private enterprise in Queensland and New South Wales, the prickly pear pest is extending at the rate of 1,000,000 acres a year.
– It is the greatest land monopolist in the Commonwealth.
– Would an unimproved land values tax have any effect upon it?
SenatorGRANT. - The unimproved value of land upon which prickly pear is growing is very low. The work which the institute is attempting is -of a farreaching character.
– I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the item of proposed expenditure on additional equipment.
– I understand that the item refers to equipment for dealing with such pests as prickly pear, blow fly, and bunchy top. I believe that better results would be achieved in the destruction of prickly pear if the staff of the institute were to abandon their scientific methods and go into the country to assist to -eradicate the pest by using ordinary implements. The institute has not been responsible for the destruction of one prickly pear plant. I do not know if the proposed vote is sufficient to meet the requirements of the institute, but I am. satisfied, from the liberal manner in which it has been treated by Parliament, that if it required more it would be granted. I am looking forward to the time when, with the assistance of other organizations, it will be able to do something to eradicate the prickly pear,, which is unquestionably one of the greatest land monopolists -of the Commonwealth. I have no objection to the expenditure of £747 on new equipment if it will be a means of assisting in the destruction of pests which are prevalent throughout the Common wealth.
– In voting the . amount set out in the bill, we are not in -any way limiting the operations of the institute. I have heard Senator Kingsmill, : for instance, advocating the expenditureof large sums of money not on equipment and buildings, but on research work. That is provided for in the general estimates. The amount voted last year was within the control of the department, and as it was not all expended, it -would seem to indicate that there was no great demand for additional equipment.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote (Department of Health) £66,487, agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
.- I move-
That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the bill being passed throughits remaining stages without delay.
I have submitted this motion as it is desirable that the works mentioned in the bill should be proceeded with at the earliest possible date.
– The motion refers only to this bill ?
– Yes. As assent has been given to the proposed expenditure, I trust the Senate will agree to the motion.
– I do not intend to oppose the motion. I have always taken a firm stand against any interference with the rights of the Senate. Our standing orders and -sessional orders are for a specific purpose and in this instance, no valid reason has been given for their suspension. I trust that in future the business of the Senate will be conducted without adopting this course. If it is found that ourstanding and sessional orders are not sufficiently elastic to render it unnecessary to move (for their suspension, they should be amended.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 6th August (vide page 2840)., on motion by Senator Wilson -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– I do not oppose the ; payment of this bounty, but I want to point ‘out the futility of it, and to indicate if I oan that the method of paying bounties has not improved the meat industry of Australia. Senator Wilson has told us that the . Government have ceased to pay -bounty on the . export of beef, and that it is intended to continue, for a time at least, a bounty on the export of live cattle. In 1922 a bill was passed through this Parliament which provided for the payment of a bounty on the export of meat and live cattle. The Minister who introduced the bill said -
I say, candidly, the Government did not want to interfere. They did so only at the urgent call of the industry. It is hoped that the beef industry of Australia will be able to re-adjust itself under ordinary trade conditions. . . . The Government, I repeat, do not wish to continue the subsidy for one hour beyond 31st October next.
Evidently pressure was brought to bear on the Government, because, despite this statement by the Minister, a similar bill was passed in 1923., and now we have another before us, the only alteration “being that the bounty is confined to the’ export of live cattle. Clause 5 of the bill provides, for the payment of the bounty to a person who -
And provided that the exporter satisfies the department that he : has purchased the cattle from a bona fide pastoralist for export for slaughter at a price which includes the amount of bounty, the bounty is payable to him. In the absence of a fixed price for thecattle exported, I am afraid -the small man will derive very little advantage from the payment of this bounty. The bounty will be drawn, as it has been in -the past, by large . pastoral companies operating in only two states. There is . no guarantee that the small man who sells his cattle to the companies will receive the . 10s. a head.
– The small men in the Northern Territory have been very keen to get this bounty after two years’ experience of it.
– I shall try to show that they get very . little out of it. According to the returnof : subsidies paid on . beef and live cattle exported . from the Commonwealth for the year 1922-23., the bounty paid on the’ export of live stock during that period was . as . follows : -
The whole of the bounty was” paid to three ‘companies. So far as . we . can . see, the small men did -not -benefit. There is no provision to compel the big speculating companies to pass the . bounty on to the small men who sell the cattle to them. It is true that the amount of bounty paid on meat exports does not exceed £4,307, but to 16th April, 1924, the total amount of bounties paid- by the Commonwealth on different goods amounted to £4,096,963. To my mind, the system of paying bounties is wrong. The following figures show the amount of bounty paid on the export of live cattle and the total number exported, and by whom, to date : -
When I was in the Northern Territory I met Mr. Byrne. He boasts that he went into the Territory years ago with a “ quid “ in his pocket and a butcher’s knife in his hand, and now he will not take £10,000 for his “ little ranch.” However, I suppose we can consider him as a. small man. The figures I have given indicate that three large companies exported 14,904 . head of cattle and received £7,452 in bounty; while small individuals exported 1,404 head of cattle and received £702 in bounty. Some other means* must be discovered to put life into the meat industry, which some of our greatest exporters declare is not worth keeping going. I do not propose to discuss that aspect of the question, but Australia should certainly produce sufficient meat for home consumption. If the working classes of Australia could get meat at a reasonable price, the producers would get . better prices and be more satisfied than they can be through the payment of a miserable bounty which may not last for more than , a year. Where . 1 live, I am obliged to pay ls. 6d. a lb. for rump steak. It is absolutely impossible for the working classes to pay that price. A man who does hard work needs a meat diet. The soft foods he is obliged to substitute for meat in order to keep him alive will not build up a virile nation, and will not impart that strength to the body or give to. the mind those ennobling sentiments that permit on© to soar high above his fellows. I know that the Government are not anxious to continue this policy of paying small bounties from one year to another. I have already shown that when the first Meat Export Bounty Bill was passed, the Minister in charge of the measure declared that the principle was obnoxious, and that the Government would not continue the payment of the bounty after the first year.
Sitting suspended from.1 to 2.30 p.m.
– The consumption of meat in Australia has fallen off by almost 50 per cent, owing to the inability of the poorer classes to purchase it. The high retail price of meat has resulted in many families having to be reared on inferior food. The bounty to be paid under the bill will assist a few capitalistic firms, but it will be of no benefit to the people generally. The overseas market for Australian meat seems to decrease every year. London importers declare that Australia will never be able to compete with the Argentine, for the simple reason that four weeks after a beast has been killed in the Argentine, the meat is placed upon the consumer’s table in Great Britain. I ask whether it is worth while bothering about the Australian cattle industry. Let us look to other industries for the purpose of developing this country. The large tracts now held as cattle runs could be more profitably utilized- for the production of wool and cotton. These industries would certainly result in increased employment in Australia. Generally speaking.’ the vast areas held by the pastoralists in northern Australia are badly cared for, and insufficiently fenced. By systematic effort the Government, could make artesian water supplies available for sheep-raising and cottongrowing in most of the areas now devoted to cattle. The large lessees are gradually abandoning the cattle industry, and it seems to me that it will eventually be necessary to use the land for the production of wool and cotton. Australian wool has already achieved a wonderful reputation, and this country is capable of producing the finest cotton in the world. Scarcely any benefit will be derived from the palliative of paying a bonus of 10s. per head on the export of live cattle. The real remedy is to be found in a substantial increase of the home consumption of beef. An effective system of” land tenure should be put into operation in the areas now devoted to cattle-raising. The present lessees do not trouble whether the land is productive or not. They merely hold it for the purpose of profit. If there were a good system of marketing the cattle, so that the consumers in Australia could obtain meat at a reasonable figure, the growers would receive a better price than they are likely to get even with the assistance of a government bounty. I should feal inclined to let the export cattle industry peter out.
– I disagree entirely with the last speaker, that the beef industry should be allowed to die. It will not be long before Australia will consume all the beef she is now producing. The percentage of our beef that is exported to-day is comparatively small, and since the population of Australia is on the increase - it is rapidly growing when compared with the rate of increase in some countries - we should not permit this great industry of the north to pass out of existence. Nor should we allow onr cattle country to be utilized for sheep-raising and cotton -gr owing: This generation may not live to see the day, but the next will certainly see it, when the southern part of Australia will depend almost entirely for its supplies of beef on our great northern lands, and it would be a thousand pities if that industry were allowed to disappear. I heartily support the bill, but I particularly rose to ask how the Government proposed to meet the expenditure incurred under the bill. As far as I am able to see, no provision for it is made on the Estimates.
– The bill specially appropriates the money.
– I am well aware of that fact, but the amount proposed to be appropriated does not appear on the annual Estimates. Possibly the bonus is provided for under the item of £500,000 for the marketing of products, but I claim that the item should appear in the ordinary way as a bounty expenditure.
.- I do not desire to appear hostile to the bill, but at the same time I am not in favour of granting a bounty as proposed under it. The payment of 10s. per head on the export of live cattle plays into the hands of the large stock-owners by enabling them to keep up the price of cattle.
– If the bounty keeps up the demand for cattle it will assist the small man.
– The working man has long been paying too high a price for beef.
– In all the states except Western Australia, beef is remarkably cheap at the present time.
– In my own state the people have to pay ls. 3d. and ls. 6d. per lb. for rump steak, and. in many parts of Australia the working classes cannot afford to purchase an adequate supply of meat. Some of the small owners in the north-west country have no chance of exporting their cattle because the whole of the space in the ships is secured by the large exporters. Consequently the owner of a small herd generally has to sell his cattle to a large owner rather than drive them back to his run. Thus it will be impossible foi: the small man to obtain a fair deal under the bill.
– But it may improve the position of the small holder if by this measure a demand is created for his stock.
– The small man may not receive the bounty.
– That is my point. I do not propose to vote against the bill-, but I object to the method of paying the bounty. Australia’s requirements should be met before any cattle are exported.
– Not a single head of these cattle would come south, even if they were not exported overseas, as they are tick infested.
– Does the Government propose to pay 10s. a head on the export of tick-infested cattle?
– Yes. The live stock in the countries to which these cattle will go are already infested with tick. In fact ticks were introduced to Australia from those countries.
– I am surprised at the preparedness of the Government to pay a bounty of 10s. a head on the export of cattle that are tick-infested. I oppose generally the principle of granting boun ties, but particularly on the export of cattle, as I believe that we in Australia are paying too high a price for beef.
– The bounty of 10s. a head pans out at id. per lb.
– Iki addition to opposing this bounty I protest against the export of tick-infested cattle.
– The export of cattle on the hoof from Western Australia to overseas markets is practically confined to the Dutch East Indies and Singapore. That is a very useful export trade, because it is a peculiar fact that the natives in the Dutch East Indies will not buy prime beef. Therefore, the cattle that are designated by stockmen “ forward stores “ - and sometimes they are not very forward - are sent there. I should like to be informed of the number of cattle that is exported annually on the hoof from Australia.
– Between 8,000 and 9,000.
– Western Australia exports the greatest proportion of that number from the port of Broome to Sourabaya, Batavia, and Singapore. I can support this proposal with a clear conscience, in the first place, because it will not cost very much, and in the second place because it will confer a distinct benefit upon the people of Western Australia. It will also induce the export of cattle which would never become fat if they spent the whole of their lives in the richest pastures. Such animals, as a rule, are called “ pikers.”
– They are of no use to the Australian market-
– That is so; but they will be appreciated in the markets to which they are being sent. I therefore have very much pleasure in supporting the bill.
– Glancing hurriedly through the bill I have not been able to find a provision that will safeguard what I consider to be the best interests of Australia. When a bounty was paid on the export of frozen meat it was definitely laid down that there should be supervision prior to export and that no meat of- an inferior quality should be allowed to leave Australia.
– A quarantine inspection of all these cattle is made before they leave Australia. Captain Bishop,
Commonwealth Stock Inspector, inspects every shipment that leaves Darwin, and a Western Australian inspector inspects those that leave Wyndham.
– Butter that is exported must be of a certain standard and pass a severe test. This bill does not provide- that only those cattle that will advertise Australia well shall be allowed to be exported. Are we to understand that any- beast which a person engaged in the industry may feel disposed to export will be allowed to leave Australia ?
– Any beast that will meet the requirements of the market to which it is being sent.
– In the interests of Australia we should provide- definitely that beasts of an inferior type or quality shall not be allowed to leave Australia merely to benefit those who wish to collect the bounty of 10s. per head. If inferior beasts are sent abroad it will’ be a very bad advertisement for Australia.
– The inspection is carried out by one of the most competent stock inspectors in Australia, and he is careful to see that a bad impression against Australia is not created in the countries to which these cattle are sent.
– I do not doubt the Minister’s statement, but I cannot see any such provision in the bill’.
– The quarantine regulations make that provision.
– Those regulations provide- that the beasts exported shall be free from- disease, but they do not set a standard of quality. A- beast may be very poor in quality and yet be free from a disease which would prevent its exportation. We- should” make sure that the cattle exported are of good quality, because nothing damages the reputation of Australia abroad so much as the statements that are made from- time- to time that our exports are of poor grade or quality. Other exporting countries have gained- at our- expense, because there has not been rigid supervision of the goods that we have sent abroad.
– No such complaint has ever been made regarding the live . cattle that have- been- exported from Australia.
– I am glad to hear it. Are the officers mentioned1 by the Ministerpermanently stationed at Darwin and Wyndham respectively?
– It will be their duty to see that the cattle upon which 10s. per head is to be paid by the Commonwealth Government are free from disease, and of a quality, that will not be detrimental to the best interests of Australia.?
– Definite instructions have been issued to that effect.
– I oppose- the bill.. The main provision appears to be that contained in clause 4, which, reads -
The bounty, under this Act shall be at the rate of ten shillings per head payable in respect of the export from the Commonwealth, on or after the first day of July One thousand nine hundred and twenty-four, and. on or before the thirtieth day of June One thousand nine hundred and. twenty-five, of live cattle for slaughter.
At page 691 of the Commonwealth YearBook for 1923., there is a table setting out the number , of cattle in. . the different states of Australia in the year 1921. It is as follows: -
Queensland, apparently, will benefit most by the granting of this bounty. We have had furnished to us a return prepared under the Meat Export Bounties Act, which sets out the- subsidies that have been paid on beef and- live cattle- ex-ported from the Commonwealth, apparently during 1923. It shows that, in Queensland^ Willeroo, and Manbuloo Limited (Darwin) received £214; and in Western Australia, the Australian Investment Agency Company Limited received£2,790 10s., and McGlew, Monger and Company £1,517. It has” been stated with more or less assurance that during the coming year the amount of bounty that will be paid is not likely to exceed that paid last year, but there is. nothing in the- bill to prevent the payment of a very much greater- sum. If this applies to all stock that may be exported alive for slaughter, it would appear that Queensland, having more than 7,000,000 head of cattle-
– It does not apply to all stock.
– The bill says live cattle.
– There is nothing to prevent Queensland, New South Wales, or Tasmania tailing advantage of the provisions of the bill.. Apart fromi that, I do not believe that either the payment or the non-payment of this bounty’ will affect the production of cattle in the Commonwealth to any gneat extent. Last year, apparently,, the bounty applied’ only to the Northern Territory. I do not know who compose the Australian Investment Agenoy Company Limited., but that company received considerably more than onehalf of the amount paid.
– Would the honorable senator not help the Northern Territory?
– This is a bill to assist the Australian Investment Agency Company Limited. Surely that company is in a position to help, itself . Why should the people of the Commonwealth be compelled to come to its assistance ? . No information has been supplied to the Senate as to . the- constitution of this company . If we were supplied with the names of the shareholders, we should probably find that they are men who, both individually and collectively, would Be ashamed to plead for 10s. per head’ for each animal exported by them.. I do not know McGlew, Monger., and Company, but they received £1,371 for 2,742 cattle which they exr ported. In the absence of further information, the Senate should not pass the bill. Its. purpose is to hand over to these companies: a. portion of the revenue obtained from income and. land, taxation, Customs duties, and other sources. In view, of the number of years in which these companies have been engaged in this industry, they should be able to rely upon their own resources. I agree with previous speakers that, if we desire to assist the cattle producers of the Commonwealth, there are more effective ways of doing it than this bill proposes. An. effort should be - made by these companies to supply the local market. We do not exist only for the purpose of providing food and raiment for people abroad. The requirements of the Commonwealth should be our first consideration. But the Government is more concerned about assisting companies like the Australian” Investment Agency Company Limited than in securing an adequate supply of cheap and good meat for its people. On these grounds, and for other reasons which I could advance, I cannot see my way to support this bill. While bounties of all descriptions are of very doubtful’ value, this bill is particularly objectionable1. Only a small amount was. paid as bounty last year, but that i& no. guarantee that the sum will not- be larger this year. This is one of those measures which propose to subsidize, from the national revenue, people who are well able to look after their own interests. Imagine taxing the people who attend picture shows to pay men like Sir Sidney Kidman, who received in bounty the sum. of £143 8s. 9d. !
– Is the honorable senator opposed to the steel bounty ?
– Yes; I am opposed to all bounties..
– And- to the duty on iron and steel as well ?
– The honorable senator has been quoting from the wrong return. His list refers to frozen beef, and not to live cattle.
– There is not much difference between giving a bounty for frozen beef, and’ a bounty for beef on the hoof. The principle, in each case is wrong. This proposal should not receive our support until we know who are the shareholders of” these- companies. Who are the Australian Investment Agency Company Limited that we should pay them this huge amount?
– By paying 2s. 6d. at the registrar’s office the honorable senator can obtain a list ofthe shareholders.
– The Minister should have supplied their names before he asked the Senate to agree to their being given a donation. In future, whenever the Minister asks for a bounty, I shall ask for the name of each individual member of the companies proposed: to be favoured.
-brockman. - What is the difference in principle between a bounty and a Customs duty ?
– They are equally objectionable.
– The- steel workers at Newcastle will be informed’ of the honorable senator’s- remarks.
– The steel works were started under a completely freetrade policy, as the honorable senator is aware.
– Does the honorable senator think that they can carry on now ?
– Certainly, I do.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newland1). - I ask Senator Grant not to discuss that matter.
– I realize that a majority of senators is determined to still further enrich the Australian Investment Agency Company Limited by extracting from those who attend picture shows taxes to be handed over as bounties to these wealthy people.
– For the information of Senators M cDougall, Grant, and Graham, who suggest that this bill is in the interests of the big men, I shall give a list of those to whom payment of bounty has been made. Those honorable senators have been quoting from a return which has no application whatever to this bill.
– The figures I gave were all right.
– The figures I shall quote show the bounty actually paid on the live cattle exported from Australia during 1923. To Burnside and Narrakai Limited, of Darwin, the owners of the Burnside station, the sum of £6 10s. was paid for thirteen cattle. Mr. W. J. Byrne, the owner of Tipperary station, exported 348 cattle, and received in bounty £174. This gentleman was on the boat when I left Darwin. He is known locally as “ Billy “ Byrne, and if he heard Senator Grant refer to him as a big squatter he would be highly amused.
– Will the Minister give the names of those who comprise the Australian Investment Agency Company Limited ?
– Mr. Byrne is a struggling pastoralist, who, I venture to say, does not make as much in five years as Senator Grant receives in salary in one year. Mr. George Chardon, the owner of Florina station, for 75 cattle which he exported, received in bounty £37 10s. The owner of the Roper Valley station, Mr. J. W. Rogers, received £174 10s. in respect of 349 cattle. Mr. George Stevens, the owner of Esmeralda station, exported 138 cattle and received £69, while Willeroo and Manbuloo Limited, the owners of Manbuloo station, received a bounty of £805 10s. in respect of 1,611 cattle. With the exception of the lastmentioned station, all those stations are north of the Katherine River. That represents a total of 2,534 live cattle in respect of which £1,267 was paid in bounty direct to the growers. In addition, bounty was paid to a number of exporters who satisfied the Collector of Customs that they had purchased the cattle from bona fide pastoralists, at a price which included the amount of the bounty, as provided for in section 6 (3) of the Meat Exports Bounty Act 1923, or that they were the agents of the pastoralists. Mr. H. C. Sleigh, of Melbourne, who exported the cattle for Thonemann and Sons, owners of the Elsey and Hodgeson stations, received in bounty £240 10s. in respect of 481 cattle. The Australian Investment Agency Company Limited, of Perth - this mysterious company referred to by Senator Grant - exported 1,508 cattle, for which the sum of £754 was paid. This company acted as agents for the Ord River and Waterloo stations in Western Australia. McGlew, Monger and Company, of Derby, exported 2,742 cattle, and were paid £1,371. They are stock agents, and collected the bounty under the written authority of the pastoralists for whom they acted. There can be no doubt about their bona “fides, seeing that the pastoralists themselves satisfied the Customs Department that they had actually received from the firm the amount of the bounty.
– It would be interesting to know the destination of these cattle.
– The figures I have given represent a total bounty of £1,267 paid on 2,534 live cattle exported by the growers of the cattle, and, in the case of agents, the sum of £2,365 10s. was paid for 4,731 cattle. The grand total is £3,632 10s. for 7,265 live cattle exported. Before paying the bounty to the exporters who purchased the cattle from the pastoralists, the Collector of Customs satisfied himself, from an examination of the books and documents, of the exporters, that the growers of the cattle had received a price not lower than the ordinary market price prevailing at the time of sale, plus the bounty. This course has been followed for two years, and has not led to any complaint from the owners or the exporters of cattle. If it can be shown that more rigid control is necessary in connexion with the payment of the bounty this year, steps will be taken to that end in the regulations which will be framed when the bill becomes law. Senator Graham seems to be under the impression that the payment of a bounty on live cattle for export will be a means of assisting to keep up the price of meat, but as I stated by interjection, the cattle on which a bounty is to be paid would not, in any case, come to, say, Perth, or Melbourne, as they are in the Northern Territory or the extreme north-west of Western Australia.
– It would not pay to shift cattle south from those places.
– No, and unless they are handled in this way, they will have to remain on the runs. Owing to the closing of the meat-works at Darwin, a number of cattle have had to remain on the runs so long that they are now too old to be slaughtered except for boilingdown purposes, and to secure the hides.
– Are they culls ?
– No. There is no market for them. Vestey Bros, are proposing next year to open up their works for boiling-down purposes in order to clear off the present surplus, and if this is done, the carcasses can be boiled down and the hides marketed. There is no market in Australia for live cattle from the areas mentioned. Even if the price of meat were to be increased threefold, not a single head of these cattle would come south. Apart from that, there is the question of tick and the quarantine regulations in force in- Victoria and Western Australia, which would not allow cattle to come south. Senator Greene pointed out that Australia is going, out of the export cattle trade, and said that the timet will undoubtedly arrive when we shall not be able to do more than supply the local demand. In speaking to Dr. Stefansson, who has studied the food supplies of the world - he is one of our best authorities on this’ subject - he drew my attention to the interesting fact that that has been the oxperience of the United States of America. He pointed out that in the United States of America, up to the time the population reached 60,000,000, the number of cattle equalled the population. When the population was 60,000,000 there were 60,000,000 cattle in the country, and up to that time meat was being exported to Europe. Prom that period, the number of cattle remained stationary, whilst the population in- creased. and, to-day, he informed me that the approximate population is 110,000,000 and the number of cattle 60,000,000. The United States of America has, therefore, ceased to be a factor in the European . meat market. Dr. Stefansson also informed me that his investigations had convinced him that a similar position was shaping itself in the Argentine, but from a somewhat different cause. The situation in the Argentine is due not merely to increased population, but to an increase in the production of cereals, as much land that . was previously used for cattle-raising is now under cultivation.
– Dairying is also being carried on more extensively in the Argentine.
– Yes, that country will cease to be an exporter of meat and cattle. Senator Greene also asked where provison was made for the payment of this money. It is true- that there is no special provisions in the Estimates. It has either to be taken from the Treasurer’s advance or from the £500,000 provided in the Estimates for the marketing of products. I point out that when the Estimates were brought down, this bill had not been passed, and there was, therefore, no statutory authority to find the money. That is why it has not been included. In reply to the question asked by Senator Kingsmill, as to the destination of the cattle exported, the figures are: -
The statement does not show from which ports the cattle were shipped, but I think we can safely say that those which were shipped to Manilla went from Port Darwin, and those which went to Java were shipped from Wyndham. Contracts have been signed for 10,656 head to be shipped from Darwin to Manilla, consisting of 8,000 on a weight basis, which will realize approximately, with the bounty, £4 10s. f.o.b. Darwin, and 2,656, which will realize £5 f.o.b. Darwin with the bounty. When the embargo is lifted, it is expected to ship from 3,000 to 4,000 to Java.
– What is the total liability under the bill?
– The estimated number to be shipped is 15,000 head, which will involve an expenditure of £7,500. Proper landing facilities at Singapore are necessary, and the Government are urging the authorities concerned to make the proper arrangements in that direction. An endeavour is also being made to open up trade with Hong Kong.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time-.
Clauses 1 to 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 (Regulations.)
– -Is it intended that .the regulations shall be laid upon the table of both Houses, or will they become effective on the recommendation of the GovernorGeneral ?
– That is : provided for in the Acts Interpretation -Act.
Clause agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment., Standing and Sessional Orders suspended and report adopted. -Bill read a third time.
Senate adjourned at 3.27 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 August 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1924/19240808_senate_9_108/>.