9th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
. - (Byleave.) - I take this opportunity to submit to honorable senators a brief report of the operations of the commission appointed to control Australia’s display at the Wembley Exhibition, London, in 1924, because I claim that the services rendered by the commission are worthy of some recognition. It will be admitted by all that the exhibition was an excel lent advertising mediumfor Australia, and that the results achieved were of immense value to us. Our display of primary products in particular served to educate the people on the other : side of the world ; it showed them that the Empire could feed itself . The personnelof thecommission was as follows: -
Ministerfor Trade and Customs.
Senator the Hon. R. V. Wilson.
Each State Premier.
New South Wales -
The Hon. E. H. Farrar
The Hon. R. B. Orchard.
The Hon. J. W. Pennington.
The Hon. A. J. Jones.
South Australia -
The Hon J. Jelly.
The Hon. Sir J. L. Bonython.
Western Australia -
The Hon. J. Scaddan.
The Hon. A. G. Ogilvie.
Mr. H. W. Gepp.
A board of control, consisting of the State Agents-General and the High Commissioner, functioned in London.
Mr. Swanton, who represented Victoria, took the place of Mr. Elder, who is now representing the Commonwealth in the United Statesof America. Mr. Jelly, of South Australia., wasappointed commissioner on the death of the lateSir John Bice.No man was more anxious to render service as commissioner than was the late Sir John Bice, and no man gave greaterhelp than he did. Theboardof control in London did excellent work. The commission held thirteen meetings, and passed 790 resolutions. Taking into account executive committee meetings, in all 63 meetings were held, and 1,156 resolutions were passed. As typifying the personal interest displayed by the commissioners in the advancement of the trade and commerce of the Commonwealth, I may say that eight of them travelled to the other side of the world at no expense to the commission, and were at all times ready and willing, even at personal inconvenience to themselves, to do everything possible to make the exhibition the success which 1 believe it was. The benefit to the trade and commerce of Australia was incalculable. The attendance at last year’s exhibition was 17,000,000 people, of whom at least 12,000,000 passed through the Australian pavilion. The return from sales in the pavilion was £163,000, which is a considerable sum, when it is realized that the articles sold were really samples, or something to be taken directly into British households. If we are to achieve success in Great Britain we must get our produce into the homes of the people, and have it labelled as the produce of Australia. We also distributed 3,000,000 pamphlets dealing wilh all phases’ of Australian industry and life. The method of distribution was so designed as1 to be of the greatest service”. We sold in the pavilion. 40, 000 cases of apples in small parcels. We’ also sold large quantities of. butter, cheese, wine, canned, fruits,, and. dried fruits. I think the Wembley Exhibition, has-been largely responsible for the improvement in our butter position in London. Previously Australian butter was mainly used in London for blending- purposes. It was frequently said by those who deal in large quantities of butter that they could not sell Australian butter. As a matter of fact, its price was always 10s. a cwt. less than that of New Zealand butter, which was probably due to the fact, that the Dominion’s marketing arrangements were better than ours. However, since the Wembley Exhibition we have had ieports to show that Australia’s butter is *on an equality with that of New Zealand, and that there is undoubtedly a demand for the Kangaroo brand - Australia’s own brand of butter. The Australian commissioners played a very active part in making the Wembley Exhibition a success. The restaurant in the Australian pavilion catered for 25,000 meals a week, and wherever practicable Australian produce was used in that restaurant. Honorable senators will realize that this created a most favorable impression on- the visitors to the exhibition, and. induced people to talk about and ask for Australian goods. I am pleased to say that the commission lived within its means. It was allotted £200,000, of which £115,000 was contributed by the Commonwealth, and £85,000 by the states. I have the balance- sheet with me. Notwithstanding all the difficulties to be overcome, such as those associated with a very wet winter, and the transporting of goods 12,000 miles overseas, the commission’s- expenditure was £2,129 less than the amount allotted.. I congratulate without stint Captain Sma-rt, the .manager of the Australian Pavilion-, and his staff, for the- excellent work . they did for Australia, and the results they obtained. Australia was exceedingly fortunate in having a staff, that laid itself out to achieve success commercially and financially. The Australian staff, of which Mr. Treloar is secretary, was’ always ready and- willing to do everything to ensure the success of the exhibition. The press in both England and Australia rendered a very great service to the Commonwealth by the publicity it gave to our efforts- in the world’s markets. Mr. Lee Neil is at present- in England in charge of the Australian portion of the 1925 Exhibition. He will be returning to Australia within a few weeks, and the Government will take action to carry to completion the work that has been so. successfully inaugurated. We are hopeful that similar results will accrue from the 1925 as from the 1924 Exhibition. As chairman, I can assure honorable senators that every party was represented on the commission., and all worked for the good of Australia. There was never any friction,, the ambition of every one being to render the best possible public service. I feel, very grateful towards the commission, and appreciate highly the assistance that was afforded to me. I am very thankful that such good, results were, obtained for Australia by the Exhibition.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Markets and Migration been drawn to a circular issued by those who are engaged in the dried fruits industry with reference to their position ? If it has, does the Government intend to take any steps in the matter
– I have had the circular before me. There are in it many matters that the Government a considerable time ago took in hand and is now looking after. There are others that art receiving attention, and as early as possible a reply will be forwarded to the association.
– Has the Leader of the Senate received replies to the following questions that, on the 12th June last, I asked on behalf of Senator Gardiner : -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following replies: -
– Can the Leader of the Senate yet supply the information I sought in the following question that I asked on the 12th June last:-
What are the number, sex, and nationality of all people who have entered Australia as immigrants since the 1st January, 1925?
– The following statement gives particulars regarding the number, nationality, and sex of all persons arriving in the Commonwealth from the 1st January, 1925, to the 30th April, 1925 : -
The following figures show the departures, as compared with the arrivals, of Greeks, Jugo-Slavs, and Maltese during the three months ended 30th April, 1925 : -
– Has the Minister for Home and Territories answers to the following questions that I asked on the 12th June, 1925:-
How many sites in Canberra have been leased for -
What are the total rentals for -
What is the total area of the sites leased?
– The answers are as follow: - 1. (a) One hundred and fifty-one.
– Has the Minister for Home and Territories an answer to the following question that I asked on the 12th June last: -
Is it a fact that visitors to Parliament House, Canberra, cannot gain admission to the diningroom of the hostel unless they are clothed in dress suits?
– The reply is- No.
The following papers were presented : -
Audit Act - Transfers of Amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - financial year 1924-25- Dated 10th June, 1925.
Canberra - Copies of communications received from the Chairman of the Federal Capital Commission regarding the effect of recent floods upon the progress of works.
Report of the Federal Capital Commission to the Minister for Home and Territories for the quarter ended 31st March, 1925.
Commonwealth Public Service Act- Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1925, Nos. 93, 94, 95, 96.
Department of Markets and Migration - List of Regulations and Proclamations issued under various Acts administered by the Department.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land Acquired - For Postal purposes - New South Wales - Yeoval; Western Australia - Bencubbin.
Agreement between the British and Commonwealth Governments regarding arrangements for the settlement in Australia of an increasing number of assisted immigrants.
Australian Passage Agreement made between the British and Commonwealth Governments.
Northern Territory - Ordinance of 1925 - No. 12 - Registration.
Papuan Oilfields - Report for month of April, 1925, by Commonwealth Representative.
Public Service Act -
Department of Trade and Customs -
R. A. Dunt; R. A. Patten; W. L. Whitehall; E. P. Vallentine.
Department of Works and Railways - H. C. Carrick.
Public Works Committee Act - Tenth General Report.
Statement showing the number of persons who arrived in Australia during the four months ended 30th April, 1925.
Loss of Money - New Guinea
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following reply : -
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The replies are-
Insurance Policies - Appointment of Draughtsman
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following reply : - 1 and 2. It was represented by a deputation which waited upon the Treasurer about two years ago that officers had suffered losses through forfeiture of insurance policies. 3, The Treasurer is still awaiting information, which the deputation undertook to give him, as to the number of officers affected and the losses sustained.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following reply: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The information will be prepared and laid upon the table of the Senate in the form of a return.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The replies are -
Report of the Commission.
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
In view of the answer given in another place that copies of the report of the Canberra Commission to 31st March could be made available to members on application, will the Minister for Home and Territories make copies available to members of the Senate; if so, when?
– Copies of the report referred to will be made available to-day.
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The replies are-
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
In view of the expressed determination of the Commonwealth Shipping’ Board not to agree to the inclusion of a clause in the articles of agreement with the seamen, guaranteeing the rates and conditions prior to deregistration, and in view of the consequent trouble that might ensue, will the Government instruct the board to do so?
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following reply : -
The Commonwealth Shipping Board is charged by Parliament with the responsibility of running the line, and the Government is not in a position to interfere in matters of internal management, and does not propose to do so.
Nationality oi? British Women.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following replies : -
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The replies are-
asked the Honorary Minister, upon notice-
Is it the intention of the Government to continue to maintain the hospital at Keswick, South Australia, for the use of returned soldiers, as at present, with a staff of doctors and nurses who served in the late war?
– Yes, at present. The buildings now being used will be required for defence purposes later, and consideration is being given to the question of making other satisfactory arrangements for the treatment of returned soldiers in South Australia suffering from war disabilities.
asked the Honorary Minister, upon notice -
– The replies are -
Speech bt Me. Ramsay MacDonald.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The replies are-
Notice of Motion No. 2 (by Senator Needham), relating to the number of employees engaged by the Commonwealth Government, by leave, withdrawn.
SUPPLY BILL .(N.o. 1) 1925-26.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
– I move-
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
The Senate has only two days in which to pass this bill if the money is to be made available before the end of the present financial year. I have no desire to curtail debate in any way, but if the ordinary formal procedure is followed, three days will be required to pass the bill. Honorable senators will, therefore, see that at some stage the suspension of the Standing Orders will be necessary.
– It is not the desire of honorable senators on this side of the chamber to impede the passage of the bill, but we consider it a strange procedure to move for the suspension of the standing and sessional orders at this stage. Although it is sometimes convenient to adopt such a course towards the end of a session, action such as is nowbeing taken should be unnecessary considering that Parliament has been in recess for over seven months. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber have not done anything to interfere with Government business. We remained silent during the debate on ,the AddressinReply, and have been waiting for the Government to introduce business for our consideration. Had Parliament been called together earlier than the 10th June there would have been no necessity to rush a Supply Bill through as is now intended. Personally I object to the procedure so early in the session, and wish to enter my protest against a bill authorizing the expenditure of over £4,000,000 being passed without honorable senators having sufficient time to discuss important items in -the schedule.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the bill be now read a first time.
– As the motion for the first reading of a Supply Bill gives honorable senators an opportunity to discuss important questions, it is my intention to bring forward two or three matters of public interest, one of which is the construction of two cruisers in Great Britain.
– Is not the honorable senator rather late?
– It is not too late to offer some criticism, and probably the Minister will .not smile after this matter has been reviewed by the people, and their opinions recorded through the ballot-box next year. As I have stated on previous occasions, I would rather assist in the building of national friendships than in the construction of battleships. If the good work of the ex-Prime Minister of Great Britain (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald), when he made a splendid attempt to lay the foundation of the world’s peace at the last meeting of the League of Nations, had been allowed to continue, we should not now have been discussing the construction of cruisers or battleships, but would have been engaged in the work of establishing international friendship. In March, 1924, the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) announced the intention of the Government to authorize the construction of two new cruisers and two submarines, and shortly after the right honorable gentleman, in speaking on the Defence Equipment Bill on the 27th June, 1924, said it was the intention of the Government to have one cruiser built in Great Britain. From the outset the members of the Labour party in both Houses of this Parliament opposed the construction of cruisers, but said that if Parliament decided that they should be built, their construction should be undertaken in Australia. At that time the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the President of the United States of America were endeavouring to convene another disarmament conference. When the question of the construction of cruisers was before the Senate I moved -
As efforts are being made by the President of the United States of America and the Prime Minister ‘of Great Britain to convene another conference to deal with the question of further disarmament, and in view of the early sitting of the League of Nations, it is the opinion of the Senate that expenditure upon naval construction should be deferred for the present.
That amendment was negatived. The Leader of the Opposition in this chamber (Senator Gardiner) when the Defence Equipment Bill was before us, moved an amendment to the effect that if money was to be spent on the construction of cruisers it should be spent in Australia. That amendment was also negatived. The whole matter was discussed in Parliament, and a good deal of publicity was given in the press to the question of whether the vessels were necessary for the defence of Australia, and if they were, where they should be built. So strong was the criticism levelled against the proposal to build even one cruiser in Great Britain that the Prime Minister in speaking in the House of Representatives said -
Upon this measure the House must come to a decision regarding the first cruiser, but no decision will be arrived at in regard to the second cruiser until the whole of the facts and circumstances have been again placed before the House, and the House has had an opportunity of expressing its views upon them.
Since Parliament re-assembled the Prime Minister has denied making that statement.
– Oh, no!
– At any rate, he now contends that he meant that an opportunity would be given for further discussion when the Defence Estimates were under consideration shortly afterwards.
– That promise was fulfilled.
– That is the Prime Minister’s interpretation of his promise, but it is not the interpretation that I place upon it. I invite honorable senators to closely study what he said -
No decision will be arrived at . . . until the whole of the facts and the circumstances have been again placed before the House.
Honorable senators will recall that at the time there was a discussion as to ihe probable cost of one or two cruisers, the length of time likely to be occupied m their construction, and whether or not the work could be undertaken in Australia. How can it be said that all the facts could be known until tenders had been called? When the Prime Minister made that statement, he himself was not in possession of all the information. Even Sir John Monash, who was called in 10 assist the Government, admits that he did not know all the facts. Therefore, I contend that, notwithstanding the explanations made by the Prime Minister and other members of his Cabinet, the promise which he gave to the people of Australia has not been fulfilled. The Prime Minister went on to say that when he was -in England he was informed that the cost of building a cruiser would be £1,900,000, and that it would take two years to construct. I mentioned, just now, that the services of Sir John Monash were enlisted to assist the Government in coming to a decision. I know of no man more fitted for that work than Sir John Monash, and I again emphasize that he admitted it was impossible to formulate any reliable estimate on the information placed at his disposal, although he had gone into the matter very thoroughly. The Prime Minister stated further that when he was in Great Britain he was pressed by Mie British Government to consent to thebuilding of a cruiser there. Unemployment was very acute, and the British Government was anxious to do all that was possible to relieve it. I remind the “enate that unemployment is still rife in Great Britain, and that it is also a problem in Australia, The Government, we are told, placed the contract for both cruisers in Great Britain because this meant a saving in cost as compared with the estimate furnished by Cockatoo Island Dockyard. Britain to-day has let contracts to European firms to build £1,000,000 worth of vessels, owing to the fact that they can be constructed more cheaply abroad. It was suggested, in newspaper reports, that when in Great Britain the Prime Minister agreed that both cruisers should be built in .the Mother Country. I do not suggest that the reports were true, but, undoubtedly, some influence was brought to bear on the Prime Minister in the matter. It is interesting to recall some of his promises. Here is one -
The question of where the second cruiser shall be built will be submitted to the determination of the House when the general defence policy is put before us.
The Prime Minister went on to say -
When the Defence Estimates were before the House I gave an explicit undertaking that whilst the passing of the bill would be regarded as an endorsement of the policy of the
Government to construct two 10,000- ton cruisers, no action would be taken to let the contract for the second cruiser until the House was afforded a further opportunity .of considering the matter.
That promise has not been fulfilled, either in the letter -or in the spirit. Further, the Prime Minister said, in regard to a statement made by the honorable -member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony), in another place -
I most certainly give the honorable member for Dalley my assurance that the fullest opportunity will be given to the House to discuss the question of where the second cruiser shall be built. When the Defence’ Equipment Bill was being considered I gave the undertaking that the Government would not take any action in regard to the second cruiser until the House had had a further opportunity to ‘discuss the matter.
So much for the Prime Minister. I come now to a statement made by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce). On 28th August, 1924, Senator Pearce, referring to the report furnished by Sir John Monash, said -
I said that the report would be placed before Parliament together with a statement as to the intention of the Government in time to enable Parliament to express an opinion thereon.
This Senate has not had an opportunity to discuss the building of the second cruiser.
– Yes. Sir John Monash’s report was presented long before the Defence Estimates came on for discussion.
– But since Sir John Monash admitted that he was not in a position to advise the Government, how could the Government advise Parliament S Instead of finalizing the matter by placing1 the contract for the two cruisers with John Brown and Company, of Clydebank, all the facts, as revealed by the tenders, should have been placed before Parliament. If that had been done, the Prime Minister would have fulfilled his promise in the letter and in the spirit. When speaking on this subject, Mr. Bowden who, until recently, was Minister for Defence, said -
I am fully conscious of the necessity for maintaining in Australia a first-class engineering yard, capable of effecting major repairs to ships in time of war. One of the strongest arguments for the building of the second cruiser in Australia is that it will maintain at Cockatoo Island an efficient -ship-building and repairing yard. The workmanship of the Adelaide compares most favorably with that in any ship of the same class in the British NAVY
I have visited Cockatoo Island Dockyard on many occasions, so I am well acquainted with that ship-building establishment. I also have a good ‘ knowledge of John Brown and Company’s shipyards at Clydebank, where, many years ago, I was employed for three years helping to build naval and merchant ships of various tonnage. I make no reflection upon the firm or its equipment. Although it- is twenty years since I worked there, I have kept in touch with people engaged in the shipbuilding industry in Great Britain ; and, with the actual working knowledge I possess, I claim that the plant at Cockatoo Island compares favorably with that which is in use in the yard that has been given the contract for these cruisers. It may be necessary to spend a little money to bring Cockatoo Island up to date.
– What does the honorable senator mean by a little money ? Senator NEEDHAM.- Say £250,000-, a. trifling, amount to a nation Seeking to establish such a great industry as shipbuilding. We have at Cockatoo Island not only the plant, but also the men, who are just as skilled and able as are the men working in the Clydebank shipyard.
– They are now being “thrown to the wolves.”
– It is true that there is. nothing but a skeleton staff at Cockatoo Island now. The plant is lying idle. It is a gross betrayal, of Australian sentiment and ideals to give these contracts to Great Britain when one of the cruisers could have been built here, just as the Adelaide and the Brisbane were built.
– How long did it take bo build the Adelaide and the * Brisbane ?*
– Probably a little longer than it would have taken to build them in a British yard, but for some months the work of construction was held up by the Shipping Board. The blame does not rest on the workmen. Theengineers, the boiler-makers, the carpenters, and all the other skilled, tradesmen required in the construction; of a vessel! are available in Australia., -and could do the work just as well and as speedily as workmen in any other part of the- world.
– But did it not take five years to build one cruiser ?
– I do not knowhow long it took; I am not bothering- about the past. But even if it took a little longer to build the vessels mentioned, it must be remembered that the Australian workman at that time was new to that, class of work. Having gained that experience, he is now far more efficient than he was then, and he has since been engaged also in building other vessels for the mercantile service. It would be money well spent to help to make him even more efficient or to give him an opportunity to prove his efficiency in the more important class of shipbuilding work. In August, 1924, the Government appointed Sir John Monash to- investigate what it would cost to build the second cruiser in Australia. Sir John Monash reported -
I am- therefore definitely of the opinion that we have no reliable figure of the price in Great Britain of a modern 10, 000-ton cruiser with which to compare any Australian cost. We cannot be certain,’ even approximately, that both amounts would- refer to one and: the same type of vessel.
No other man in. Australia was more capable of making this- inquiry, and the words of Sir John Monash are definite enough.
– Was there any reliable Australian figure available at ihe time ?
– No, because tenders had not been called. That .buttresses my contention that after the tenders were submitted, when the Government had the information, it should, have- hesitated to give a contract to a British firm until the figures, reliable or otherwise, had been submittedto Parliament, and Parliament had been given an opportunity to come to a decision on the matter. The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Pearce). may seek to camouflage the promise that was made, and declare that it was fulfilled, but the public of Australia are not satisfied with the interpretation placed by them on that promise. Tho.se who are. supporting the Ministry here and iu another place may be satisfied with the action of the Government, but their masters outside, to whom they will have shortly to appeal, will record their dissatisfaction at the ballot-box. As a result, of Sir John Monash’? report tenders were called. The British firms-‘ were invited to tender (a) for one shipto. be built’ in Great Britain,- (Z?) for two ships to be built in Great Britain, and (c) for one ship to be built in Great Britain and one in Australia. The Australian shipbuilders were requested to tender for one ship to be built in Australia. If the Australian shipbuilders could have tendered for two vessels it would have enabled them to reduce their overhead charges, and thus submit lower tenders, just as shipbuilders in Great Britain can do when they have more than one vessel of the same class to build.
– Providing they can build two at the same time, which we cannot do in Australia.
– I admit it cannot be done at Cockatoo Island, and that is a big factor in submitting tenders. I have worked in yards where four vessels of the same type have been under construction at the same time. The general practice is to build one vessel first, and to apply the experience thus gained in building the other three. They will turn three frames off one set from the furnace, and roll three plates ofl the same pattern, all of which saves time. The question of time was raised as an argument against having one of the cruisers built in Australia. Time was said to be of the essence of the contract, but seeing that the Government took over twelve months to decide, first, whether they should have these cruisers,, and then whether one should be built in Great Britain or here, it does not appear to have been a matter of any moment.-
– We had first to persuade the honorable senator and his party that cruisers should be built.
– I should be happier if they were not to be built, but Parliament having decided that cruisers were necessary, I now say that Australian workmen should have been given an opportunity to build at least one of them in order to show how well they could do the work.
– The honorable senator admits that he is opposed to the building of cruisers.
– I admit it quite honestly. But if they are to be built at all they should be built here and by our own men. In his first statement the Prime Minister estimated that the cost of building a cruiser in Great Britain would be £1,900,000. That estimate has already been exceeded by £450,000. The right honorable gentleman alleges- that the saving effected by building one of these cruisers in Britain instead of in Australia is £818,000. I am not questioning the reliability of that estimate, but if that additional £818,000 had been spent in building a cruiser in Australia the money would have been circulated in Australia, and Australian workmen, apart altogether from those actually engaged in the shipyard, would have been given employment.
– The £818,000 will be circulated in Australia in the building of a seaplane carrier.
– It is quite possible that when a decision is reached in regard to the seaplane carrier tenders will be called in Australia and Great Britain, and again we shall learn that because the vessel can be built in Clydebank, or at Belfast, or BarrowinFurness for less than it could be built in Australia, the contract must be let abroad.
– When the Ta9manian Labour Government wanted a small steamer built, it went to England for it.
– The Western Australian Government has bought a vessel built in England.
– If the circumstances in Tasmania are similar to those surrounding the action of the Commonwealth Government, I should blame the Tasmanian Labour Government just as I blame the Commonwealth Government.
– ‘Also the Western Australian Labour . Government.
– I am putting them all in the same category. No matter what Government is in power in the state or the federal arena, all this work should be done in Australia by Australian workmen.
– No matter what it costs ?
– I do not say that. The cost may be greater, but it is worth the difference to have the work done in Australia. I have worked under the industrial conditions of Great Britain, and, with all due respect to my native land, I should not like to work under them again.
– The honorable senator has not worked under the industrial conditions existing in Great Britain to-day.
– They are not much better than they were twenty years ago, when I was working there. But even admitting for the moment that they are a little better, they are a long way’ behind those obtaining in Australia. For that reason, I would give the contract r.o Australian workmen, working under Australian conditions. If cheapness is to be taken into consideration, why is £1,000,000 worth of work being sent out of Great Britain for vessels such as those to which we are referring, despite the unemployment there? Speaking in another place Sir Neville Howse, Minister for Defence, said that his departmentgave preference to articles manufactured in Australia to the extent of from 2 per cent, to 108 per cent. Why could not the Government have given to Australian workmen a preference of 108 per cent., or even 90 per cent, in respect of the construction of the cruisers? Whether it is a question of making boots or boats, let the preference be given to Australian workmen. Both can be well and efficiently made in Australia- by Australian workmen. Those who were responsible I:or letting the contract to a British firm without consulting Parliament may live to regret that- action. If cheapness were the only consideration, why was the contract not let in Japan or Germany, where the vessels could be much more cheaply constructed than in Great Britain 1
– Does the honorable senator place England in the same category as Germany and Japan?
– I do not. My argument ‘ is that if cheapness were the basic consideration of the Government, the logical attitude would have been to have the cruisers built in Japan or Germany. I have here criticisms of the action of the Government by the Melbourne Age. They read as follow: -
Buying ships abroad is not an Australian defence policy. Therefore, Mr. Brace’s pleading is empty and vain. His economics are false. Hia defence theories are Imperial rather than Australian.
From a Government that is squandering unproductive millions, and tacitly inviting each avaricious trading interest to come as mendicant for public largesse, the excuse is strange and detestably hollow.
The boasted saving is a sham and a delusion. Before there can .be real Australian defence this country must be able to make the things by which it is to be defended. The basis of defence is industry.
No Australian of Australian heart and mind will endorse the action of the Government in turning its back upon its own country. No authority on defence, unless he is a false one basely courting political favour, will deny that the capacity to produce the essentials of defence is the basis of real defence.
Australia will be loyal to Great Britain to the end. Her national hopes lie always within the Empire. Nevertheless she has national spirit enough to resent the action of her own Ministers in degrading her to the status of a helpless tribute-paying dependency.
I commend those criticisms to my honorable friend, Senator Guthrie, who last week very loudly professed his adherence to the principle of “ Australian goods for Australian people.” I admired his candour and his devotion to that principle. I hope that he will as zealously advocate the principle that the construction of Australian boats should be given to Australian workmen.
– Could those cruisers have been built and equipped in Australia 1
– They could have been constructed here, but not so cheaply as in Great Britain. The honorable senator knows that preference is given to the goods of those whose cause he advocates. Why not, then, give preference to Australian boats? To be consistent he should support the cry, “ Australian boats for Australian people “ to the same extent that he advocates that Australian boots should be worn by Australian people.
– The honorable senator must know that half of the total amount would be spent in equipment, which could not under any circumstances be provided in Australia.
– The firm that has received the contract cannot completely build the cruisers. A good deal of the assembling will have to be done outside its yards.
– The honorable senator must also know that only 15 per cent, of the material required for a cruiser could be provided in Australia.
– I takethe word of the honorable senator that that is so. My point is that we should have given the whole of the work to Australian workmen, and put into the vessels as much Australian material as could be provided. Those who understand naval shipbuilding are aware that certain of the equipment is provided by a firm that specializes in. that work. When I was employed in the Clydebank shipyard, the battleship Terrible - whose men took part in the relief of Ladysmith during the Boer War - and other vessels, had to be taken to Woolwich to obtain their full equipment. The armour plates were taken from the works of John Brown and Sons in Birmingham. At that time the firm of John Brown and Sons did not own the shipyard ; it was owned by J. G. Thompson’ and Company. The vessel left the dock with its hull complete, but the equipment had to be provided at Woolwich.
I pass for a moment from the. question of the construction of the cruisers to deal with the . important matter of immigration, with which is closely allied the question of unemployment. In every state in. the Commonwealth there are at present large numbers of unemployed. During the last few months there has bean a big influx of foreign migrants into Australia.. The census taken in 1921 showed that in that year there were 159,000 unemployed. If a census were taken to-day, it would be found that that number had been considerably augmented. Foreigners are coming to Australia and taking the places of our workmen. That fact cannotbe denied. The majority of these men go directly to employment in different parts of Australia.. Yet in the press, yesterday morning, appeared the statement thatin the city of Brunswick, that is within easy distance of this Parliament, there are 4,000 unemployed men and women.
-Would it be their positions that the immigrants are taking?
– That is not my contention: What I say is that the immigrants who are coming; to Australia are going directly into employment, whilst Australian workmen are walking the streetsof our cities and towns.
– How is it that the Australian workman does not get employment too ?
– The Australian, in a large number of cases, prefers to stay in the streets, whilst, on the contrary, the aliens go into the country.
– That is a reflection upon the Australian workmen, and it is not justified. In every country there is a percentage of men who will take only congenial employment.
– Can the honorable senator refer to one. case in which an Australian workman has been put off in order to give employment to a foreigner ?
– I cannot quote a specific instance, but I know that foreigners are obtaining work, and that that is not made possible because Australian workmen prefer to remain in the streets. The following figures show the number of persons who came to Australia during the first three months of this year : -
British, 20;870; average per month, 6,960.
– The honorable senator does not object to those ?
– Naturally, I do not object to our own kith and kin. I shall finish the quotation of these figures, and comment upon them subsequently -
Greeks, 408; average per month, 136.
Yugo Slavs, 636; average per month, 212
Italians, 2,385; average per month, 795.
With regard to the Italians, the exPremier of New South Wales, Sir George Fuller, on one occasion, read in the New South Wales Parliament a statementthat he had received from, the Prime. Minister (Mr. Bruce) to the effect that by an arrangement with Italy, only 100 immigrants a month were sent to Australia. Despite this statement, the average for the first three months of this year was approximately 800.
– That was before the agreement was entered into.
– During the last three months, more Greeks and Yugo slavs have left Australia than have come in.
– That may be so, but it does not alter the fact that these men came in. The number of Italians who entered Australia during the three months January to March, 1925, totalled 1,348, and Chinese, Malays, Papuans, and natives of East India to the number of 1,861, or an average of 553 a month, came to this country.
– How many came in under permit and went out again ?
– I am dealing with those who came in, and not those who went out. The grand total of migrants, both white and coloured, for the period January to March, 1925, was 27,334, or ?n average of 9,111 a month. Many of these foreigners cannot speak English.
– “Will the honorable member give the figures showing the number of departures from Australia
– The honorable senator himself may ascertain those figures and present them to the Senate. According to a statement in Smith’s Weekly. these migrants are entering Australia in such numbers that they cannot find employment with the mining companies, and consequently many of them at Broken Hill are unemployed and in a condition verging on starvation. I desire now to refer to Maltese migrants. Before 1922, the quota of Maltese allowed to enter Australia was 260 annually, but, in 1922, at the request of the Imperial Government, Mr.. H. Casolani, the Maltese Superintendent of Immigration, went to London in order to endeavour by direct negotiations to secure better conditions regarding the migration to Australia of Maltese subjects. The head of the Ministry of Malta, the Honorable TJ. P. Mifsud, in a report stated that the immediate result of this mission was the consent given by the Australian authorities for the admission of about 400 migrants in addition to the 260, while the main question was referred to Australia. Why was the question ‘of the entry of Maltese to the Commonwealth referred to Australia, and not the question of migrants from other countries. On the 17th October, 19,24, a cablegram was received by the Maltese Government stating that the Commonwealth Government did not see its way clear to allow of the quota being exceeded. On receipt of that reply, the Maltese Government got into touch with Mr. Amery, who at that time was Secretary of State for the Colonies. The Honorable U. P. Mifsud in his report to Parliament stated - 1 was convinced that, if Mr. Bruce were afforded an opportunity of examining the whole question .personally, he would have satisfied himself that, not only in the ‘best interests of Australia, but from the broader Imperial aspect, the Maltese question was open to reconsideration.
Mr. Mifsud continued ;
I, therefore, took the unorthodox course of unofficially requesting the personal help of Colonel Amery, who at once took up the matter on our behalf with Mr. Bruce.
The result of these negotiations was that the 260 quota was abolished, and practically the only restriction now - if it can be termed a restriction - is that not more than twenty migrants shall land from the same vessel or during the same month in any port. What change came over the Commonwealth Government after the 17t.h October, 1924?
– If the honorable senator inquires as to the number of ships by which these migrants may enter Australia, he will see that the quota was not increased.
– Did the British Government bring pressure to bear on Mr. Bruce when he was in England?
– The honorable senator has placed a wrong construction on these things.
– I have at least placed a logical construction on them, as, since the restrictions were removed, 500 Maltese entered Australia within eight months. The following extract from a report issued by the Maltese Government , shows what the Maltese Ministry is informing the people there : -
I have pointed out that the majority of presentday migrants to Australia are mainly going to assured work.
asked just now for a specific instance showing where foreigners had gone to work previously promised them.
– I asked the honorable senator if he could quote a case of a foreigner having been put on and an Australian put off to make way for him.
– Evidently there is” some guarantee that work will be found for Maltese migrants.
– One of the conditions “of the understanding is that work for them must be guaranteed by some one here.
– Australians should have work guaranteed to them before guarantees are provided in the- case of foreigners.
– The guarantees are provided by individuals, and not ‘by the Government.
– The Commonwealth Government has assisted in those guarantees.
– Our attitude is that indigents should not be allowed to enter Australia to swell the ranks of the unemployed.
– I shall now refer to the proposed new agreement between the governments of Great Britain, the Commonwealth, and the states. I do not know whether any of the states have yet ratified ‘the agreement, but I am of the opinion that it requires very careful consideration. The proposed agreement, a triangular one, will benefit two of the contracting parties much more than the third. If ratified, it will certainly be a benefit to . the Imperial Government, inasmuch as it will relieve unemployment in Great Britain. It will also benefit the Commonwealth, because of the revenue through the Customs which will result. It will not, however, be beneficial to the, states.
– Do they get no revenue from these new-comers? What about the per capita payments ?
– The per capita payments will not recompense the states for the expenditure incurred. The exPremier of New South Wales, Sir George Fuller, and his Ministers, according to the Sydney Morning Herald of the 17th April, 1925, expressed the opinion that there would have to be a considerable modification of the agreement before the New South Wales Government would consent to be bound by it. Sir George Fuller stated that the proposed agreement was very involved. The Sydney Evening News of the 16th April, 1925, in a leading article, stated -
Clause 2 of the proposed agreement clearly points out that for every principal sum of £75 issued to a State Government, an assisted migrant must be received into and satisfactorily settled.
That means that for each migrant land must be obtained, .and the migrant satisfactorily settled thereon, or permanent employment found for him. The latter condition is causing some concern in Western Australia at the present time, as to guarantee permanent employment 13 a big obligation to be cast upon the state. No Premier would be justified in giving that guarantee, and accepting the resultant responsibility, without first giving the matter very careful consideration. The article continues -
Under clause 7 the state must provide one farm for every £1.000 of principal sum issued to the state. Experience proves that the cost of providing a new settler with a farm is usually nearer £3,000, and that frequently actual ‘failure or heavy loss is recorded. The British Government, however, specifically limits responsibility in respect to such losses to £100.
– The State Government ‘has the land, which still remains.
– I am aware of that; but because the state has the land it should receive greater consideration than will »be the case under this agreement. Continuing, the article states -
How do the states propose to settle immigrants on the land? As everybody knows, and as. experience during the last decade proves up to the hilt, the state is the most inefficient organizer of settlement.
– Does the honorable senator subscribe to that?
– No. I have quoted the article to show that under the agreement the states will not get as good a deal as either the Commonwealth or the Imperial Government. Some states have more unalienated land than others.
– New South Wales has plenty.
– Then that ‘ state is, indeed, fortunate.
– Which states have all their land taken up?
– Western Australia has a large area of unalienated land, but Victoria has very little.
– Only 10 per cent, of the total area of Australia has been alienated.
– We all know the disasters connected with the settlement of ex-soldiers on the land. The fact that commission after commission has been appointed to make inquiries into the matter should make us very careful in connexion with this agreement. Tho article proceeds -
A state cannot purchase land with this cheap money, however, unless it reserves half of such land for migrants, and agrees to train them, the cost of the training not to be paid out of the cheap money.
Another clause entails a heavy responsibility. It provides -
That in any case assisted migrants shall be found suitable employment in Australia at the same rate of wages as Australians of similar experience.
– Honorable senators on the other side have often insinuated that migrants are being brought to Australia to lower wages.
– I am pointing out that the responsibility of the states is greater than that of either the Imperial or the Commonwealth Government. The article goes on to say -
In depressed periods, which must occur, the agreement binds the Commonwealth to guarantee employment to migrants.
The more we study this problem the more we are impressed with the necessity of exercising the greatest care in connexion with the proposed agreement. “We should be very careful as to the class of migrants coming to Australia, and should also be sure that suitable land on which they can settle is available. I have had experience of the Western Australian scheme in operation under the Mitchell Government, when people were brought- from Great Britain ostensibly t& go on th© land. They went on the land for about a fortnight, but at the end of that period were to be found in Perth swelling the ranks of the unemployed. Before we commence to encourage people to migrate from Great Britain or from any other country with the object of settling on the land here, we should first endeavour to cope with our own unemployment trouble, which occurs winter after winter in every state in the Commonwealth. We are faced with an unemployment crisis to-day, and little is being done to relieve the hardships experienced by many deserving people. We are entirely overlooking the fact that it is our duty to find employment for our own people, and at the same time are asking thousands to come out here who will only accentuate the trouble. Speaking on this matter, the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes) on one occasion said, “ To cry for more men and to decline to employ those already here is folly, or worse.” The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), on the 17th September, 1924, said, “It is no use to increase our population unless every individual who enters the Commonwealth becomes a productive unit.” That is sane advice, but I jim afraid that under the proposed agreement the wish of the right honorable gentleman will not be realized. I presume the Prime Minister’s statement means that, if a person, is to become a productive unit, he must be in employment of some kind. The members of the Labour party have always advocated that people should not he brought to Australia unless work can be found for them, as every man out of work in any country is an economic danger and an economic loss. This aspect of our migration scheme should be reviewed very carefully before the agreement is signed. In a country such as Australia, with its great natural resources and possessing, as it does, everything necessary for the well-being of man, we should not have this awful curse of unemployment, and we would not, if we had the courage to tackle the problem in a proper way.
– Do the honorable senator’s remarks apply to the present shipping trouble?
-The origin of the present shipping dispute is to be found in the fact that the Commonwealth Government Shipping Line chartered vessels which were manned by black labour, and thus attempted to reduce wages and generally to interfere with the conditions under which the seamen had been working.
– It occurred long before that.
– No; the chartering of ships manned by black labour was responsible for the trouble.
– Job control was introduced twelve months before that.
– Senator Guthrie, in speaking on the Address-in-Reply, blamed the Australian seamen for all the unemployment.
– Not all of it.
– The honorable senator went even further, and invaded the private domain of an official of the Seamen’s Union. While the honorable senator has every right to criticize an organization of men, his sense of good taste should have suggested that his criticism should cease before he touched upon the private affairs of an individual.
– I think” the public should know all about Mr. Tom Walsh and Mr. ‘ Johannsen.
– The honorable senator referred to the private affairs of
Mr. Walsh, and could well have omitted any reference to that man’s child. For the information of the Senate, I quote a few figures which are of interest in the matter of unemployment -
That shows that since the influx of migrants in 1919 the number of unemployed hae increased, and the percentage of unemployed to the membership of unions has also increased.
– According to those figures the percentage of unemployed increased when immigration fell off.
– The percentage of unemployed increased during the big influx of migrants. Immigration and unemployment should be considered together. The Labour party has been taunted with not having a defence policy.
– Hear, hear ! Does the honorable senator’s party believe in compulsory training ?
– Whilst we believe in. peace, we are also prepared to assist in the defence of Australia should the occasion arise. Let us first consider what Nationalist Governments have done in the matter of the defence of Australia. The armistice was signed on the 11th of November, 1918, and, up to- June, 1925, Nationalist Governments have spent, approximately, £25,000,000 on defence. In comparing that sum with what was expended immediately before’ the- war, we find that there has been a vast increase in defence expenditure. We- were informed, on. many occasions, that the last war was to< be a war to end all wars, and that after it had terminated little expenditure on defence would be necessary. In these circumstances one would expect to find a material reduction-, but such has not been the case. Sir John. Monash, the. exMinister for Defence (Mr. Bowden),, and Senator Drake-Brockman- at. different times last year directed attention to tha deplorable condition of our defence system. Notwithstanding the expenditure on defence by this Government and its immediate predecessor, these gentlemen have said that the defence of Australia is in a deplorable condition. Senator DrakeBrockman, speaking in the Senate, said that at the present time we were not getting full value for the money we were spending, -and Sir John” Monash stated that, in his opinion, the position of Australia in 1924 was not as favorable as it was in 1914. The Labour party’s defence policy, as ratified by the Interstate Labour Conference, held in Melbourne in’ 1924, provides for adequate home defence against foreign aggression, the establishment of factories throughout Australia which in times of peace can be utilized for the manufacture of articles necessary for the development of Australia, but which can be converted into factories for the manufacture of everything necessary in the event of war. How much of the £25,000,000 mentioned has been used in establishing factories which can be converted into munition, works? The Labour party’s defence policy also provides for the establishment of an aerial fleet. We must have a fleet capable of rapid concentration, and one which could be of service to us in times of peace, as well as in the event of war. Provision is likewise made in our policy for the establishment of aerial depots throughout Australia, with aerial supplies.
– But men must he trained.
– We also advocate the construction of submarines and mines, with adequate above-water craft. Prominent naval authorities, such as Sir Percy Scott, Admiral. Kerr, Rear-Admiral Hall, Admiral Sims, Admiral Von Scheer and others, are of the opinion that a country such as Australia, with a huge coastline, should have an aerial force, submarines, mines, torpedo boats, ji,c. We also advocate land fortifications, the utilization of science and industry for the purpose of standardizing railways and rolling-stock, and the construction of roads and railways as a means of transport. Sir J ohn Monash,, who is, of course, closely acquainted with the mobilizing and transportation of forces, contends that, roads are o£ more consequence than railways. The Minister interjected that we had- made. no. provision in ©u-r- platform for compulsory military training. I am glad that such is not the case, and I put in the witness-box in support of our policy no less an authority than Sir John Monash himself, who declared that his success overseas was due to the fact that the men under his command during the war had practically no military training in Australia. They were trained in camp during the war. The great majority of the men of the Australian Imperial Force, before enlisting, had never held a rifle in their hands.
– The honorable senator is talking “ tripe.” Every commanding officer and every non-commissioned officer was a trained man.
– I repeat, on the authority of Sir John Monash, that the men under his command had no experience of our compulsory system of citizen training, but were trained in camp. If another war came, I have no doubt that we could do the same again.. What I have said is, I submit, a sufficient reply to the charge that the Labour party has no defence policy.
I have only one other matter to refer to before I .resume my seat. I have noticed that, since the appointment of the Commonwealth Bank Board, the rate of interest charged by the bank has increased. Up to the 31st December, 1923, the rate was 6 per -cent. ; up to the 31st December, 1924, it was 6 J per cent..; and from 1st. January of this year it has been 7 per cent.
– .So also has there been an increase in the deposit rate, and an increase in deposits.
– There may have been, but there was no justification for an increase in “the bank rate of interest, which is an additional tax on the people of Australia. When the Commonwealth Bank Bill was before the Senate, I described it as a measure designed to change *t«he character of the bank from a people’s bank into a bankers’ , bank and I think events have confirmed my statement. Under the regime of the late Sir Denison Miller, the -bank was really a people’s bank, but as the .result of recent legislation it has become a bankers’’ bank.
I thank honorable senators for their attentive and courteous hearing. I have mentioned one or two matters which, I think, are of importance to the people of Australia. I have shown conclusively (that in connexion with t’he ‘building ‘of the ‘two cruisers the Government has not honoured its promise to the Parliament and the people.. The time is not far distant when the Government will have to face a jury, -not of its peers,, but of its masters,, and I feel confident that when Ministers have given an account of their stewardship the verdict at the ballot-box will be that they have been guilty of a betrayal of Australian national senti- ment and Australian national ideals.
Senator GRANT (New South Wales) [4.551. - This bill gives me an opportunity to make a few remarks with regard to the Commonwealth Bank. Figures published in the Government Gazette show that the bank is retrogressing. As honorable senators are aware, the operations of the bank are conducted under two headings - ordinary banking business and savings bank business. The bank was established, in face of very strong opposition, at the in-‘ stance of a Labour government. Since the death of Sir Denison Miller, it has consistently failed to fulfil its original purpose as a people’s bank. I have no objection to the manner in which officers of the bank are carrying on under recent legislation, but I disagree with the provisions of the act; and I am satisfied that if the business of the savings bank branch is conducted as at present it will not long survive.” For reasons best known to itself, the board has continued the practice of paying merely a nominal rate of interest - a rate lower than is paid by any of the state savings banks - to depositors in ohe savings bank branch.
– That has .always been the policy of the Commonwealth Bank.
– I am under the impression that for a limited time the rate of interest paid by the New South Wales Savings Bank was the same as that paid by the ‘Commonwealth Bank.
– I doubt it.
– At all events, it is a. fact that for a number of years the Commonwealth Bank has been paying only 3 per cent, to its ‘savings bank depositors, while the New South Wales Savings Bank has been paying at least 4 per -cent.
– The savings bank branch of the Commonwealth Bank was inaugurated on those lines by the late Sir Denison Miller.
– I speak subject to correction on that point, but I fail to see why the bank should pay its deposi.fc.ar3 a least J per cent, less -than is paid by the state -savings bank in New South Wales, and a lower rate than is paid by the savings banks of the other states. If this policy is continued, depositors will undoubtedly withdraw from the Commonwealth Bank and lodge their deposits with the state banks ; because, whatever may be said to the contrary, the security offered by the latter is practically as good as that offered by the Commonwealth. It. would appear that the purpose of the board is to destroy the savings bank business of the bank.
– As a matter of fact, it has been built up under the present conditions.
– It is not being built up at all; it is being destroyed.
– The honorable senator is entirely mistaken.
– The business is increasing every year.
– A return published in the Commonwealth Gazette for the quarter ending 31st December, 1924, discloses that the savings bank business of the bank is decreasing substantially. The following decreases in deposits are shown : -
And yet we are told by Senators Duncan and Greene that the business of the bank is being built up. These figures show that it is being effectively destroyed. If the present trend of business continues, the savings bank branch of the bank’s business will eventually become a negligible quantity.
– The Commonwealth Bank has always paid a lower rate of interest to savings bank depositors than is paid by state savings banks.
– And Senator Grant has never objected.
– I have objected on more than one occasion. The rate of interest paid by the Commonwealth Bank to its savings bank depositors since its inception has been a little less than the rate paid by the State Savings Bank of New South Wales. The point 1 want to emphasize is that owing to the policy pursued by the Commonwealth Bank to-day as disclosed by the figures I have just quoted, the deposits in its savings bank branch are decreasing. If these withdrawals continue this branch of the bank will be completely destroyed.
– I always thought that the payment of interest was a capitalistic practice to which you were opposed.
– You are quite mistaken.
– The honorable senator must address the Chair.
– Surely I am permitted to reply to an interjection.
– Addressing honorable senators directly, instead of through the Chair, is always calculated to lead to disorder. The honorable senator has been sufficiently long in the Senate to say anything he requires to say just as well by addressing the Chair rs by directly addressing another honorable senator.
– I shall endeavour to abide absolutely by your ruling. We are assured by some honorable senators that the Commonwealth Bank is making progress. An examination of the figures for the quarter ending 3.1st March, 1925, will show what progress it is making. The increases and decreases in the savings banks deposits in the various states were as follows: -
Therefore, during the last six months the deposits in the savings bank branch of the Commonwealth Bank have decreased by over £800,000. During the next quarter ending -30th June, 1925, when the interest accruing is added to the various accounts, it will ‘ be claimed that the deposits have increased, whereas nothing of the kind will take place. It will merely be a swelling of the deposits by the addition of the interest earned.
– I thought that Labour Governments always brought prosperity to the states.
– The returns I have quoted refer to the work of the directors of the Commonwealth Bank, and not to the work of Labour Governments. T have no doubt that the returns of the state savings banks show substantial increases in their deposits, due possibly to the fact that there are Labour Governments in control in all the states except Victoria, but mostly to the fact that deposits are being transferred from the Commonwealth Bank to the state savings banks. My humble opinion is that the savings bank branch of the Commonwealth Bank under its present management is being slowly and persistently strangled, and that unless something is done to stay the steady decrease in deposits’, this branch of the Commonwealth Bank must in the not very distant future cease to exist. If the rate of interest were increased to the amount paid by the state savings banks the volume of deposits would at once increase, and if the rate were only per cent, above that paid by the state savings banks such a volume of . deposits would reach the Commonwealth Bank that it would have more money than it could comfortably handle.
– Why should the Commonwealth Bank compete in that sphere?
– Why should it not? I can understand some honorable senators objecting not only to the savings bank portion of the Commonwealth Bank’s business, but also to the very existence of the Bank itself. We were assured yesterday by the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) that recent legislation has almost transformed the Commonwealth Bank from what it was originally intended to be, and has made it a bankers’ bank. Therefore, it is quite possible to conceive that some day the savings bank portion of its work will be a thing of the past. Why are the directors of the Commonwealth Bank not opening new branches? So far as I know noi a single new branch has been opened since the board has come into existence. In scores of large towns in New South Wales other banks are doing business, but the Commonwealth Bank is conspicuous by its absence. I have no doubt its directors are acting in accordance with the legislation recently passed, and with the views of the present Government. But if the bank is to perform its duty properly, and fulfil the functions it was intended to fulfil when it was established, it will open branches in all large centres throughout the Commonwealth where any banking business is available. I shall be pleased when an opportunity is afforded to Parliament to make a radical alteration in the personnel and constitution of the board of directors of the Commonwealth Bank, so that the board will not be allowed to rest upon its oars, but will be compelled to open new branches in centres where banking business is available. It will then to some extent fulfil the objects of those who advocated and brought about its .establishment. The recent action of the board of directors in increasing the rate of interest on overdrafts to 7 per cent, was quite unjustifiable. Such a high rate operates very detrimentally to those enterprising men who are willing to borrow money for investment purposes, and afford employment and . develop the country. Very often a per cent, means all the difference between the success or failure of a venture. However, I shall take another opportunity of referring to the Commonwealth Bank in the hope that, in order that it may have a fair chance, some action will be taken to ensure that the rate of interest paid to its savings bank depositors is increased to that which is paid by other savings banks, and that the rate of interest on overdrafts is substantially reduced.
On the 15 ih December of this year war loan bonds amounting to £68,000,000 will become due. It is impossible to say what steps may be taken by the Government to deal with this matter, but it is of the utmost importance that something should be done to reduce, or, if possible, abolish the enormous amount of interest that has annually to be transferred from Australia to Great Britain. Publicly and privately, about £50,000,000 a year, or £1,000,000 a week, is extracted from Australia in the shape of payment of interest to London. It appears to me that it is within the province of the Government, in conjunction with the Commonwealth Bank, to take steps to do away with at least a portion of the interest that is now being paid upon these loans. I find, from the return from which I have just quoted, that there are £56,000,000 worth of notes, of which’ the public -holds approximately £22,000,000 and the Commonwealth Bank £24,000,000. When the east-west railway was ‘being constructed the Labour Government of the day, in defiance of the advice of the allegedly most prominent financiers, printed a considerable number of notes, of which ‘ about £3,000,000 worth were used to pay the expenses incurred in connexion with the construction of that line. Interest has not to be paid upon that sum. It has never had to be paid. I should like to know why the Commonwealth -should continue to pay interest upon the £68,000,000 that will fall due in December next, if by a similar arrangement it can be avoided.
– Does the honorable senator mean that the Government should print £68,000,000 worth of notes?
– I have not gone quite as far as that; I have not mentioned the number of notes that I would issue. I think that my suggestion is a practicable one. What would happen if the Government invited the bond-holders to take notes for their bonds?
– Not one of them would be so foolish .as to do so.
– I believe that they would adopt the suggestion.
– Such action would result in a considerable increase in prices.
– If half the number of bond-holders ‘ accepted payment in Commonwealth Bank notes they would then deposit those notes with the Commonwealth Bank. There would be an increase in the currency, but nothing detrimental would happen. The interest that the Commonwealth is at present paying on £68,000,000 would be reduced by, possibly, one-half. What is the Government now doing? We have a National Debt Sinking Fund. Provision was made - presumably with malice aforethought, in order to prevent the Commonwealth Bank from carrying out the functions it was originally intended it should carry out - -whereby half the profits of the bank, with other moneys, must be paid to tire credit of that fund. It is expected hat within the next 50 or 60 years the national debt will be liquidated. When the Fisher Government took the step to which I have referred in connexion with the construction of the east-west railway it was assured that chaos* would ensue. The parrot cry regarding the inflation of the currency that we hear uttered so flippantly in many discussions was sounded at that time, but nothing untoward happened. The notes went into circulation, half the cost of the east-west line was defrayed from that source, and the people of the Commonwealth are not now paying interest on that sum. A Nationalist Government would have borrowed the money in London. Had that been done the loss on the line to-day would probably be 100 per’ cent, .greater than it is.
– -Notes are not cash; they are only a promise to pay.
– They are as good as cash. One gets no more for a sovereign than for a £l-note. If the loans are refloated the interest rate will probably be 6 per cent., and that sum will have to be found by the workers and producers in Australia. If the payment of interest is to continue, as apparently some people intend it shall, it will be a millstone around the necks of the people for untold years.
– One does not get rid of a millstone by issuing ‘a promissory note.
– I know that my suggestion will jar upon those who have been in the habit of looking at this matter from the orthodox financial view-point, but to me it appears that it would absolutely wipe out the interest to the extent that the bonds were redeemed, and the only cost to the Commonwealth would be that involved in the paper used and in the printing of the notes. What happens to-day .? A loan is floated in London. All that comes to Australia is a wireless. Immediately it arrives - probably before - interest begins to accrue on the loan. The Commonwealth Government alone pays in interest £20,000,000 per annum, mostly to lenders in Great Britain. The time is opportune to obtain the best advice to see if it is possible to adopt the method used in connexion with the east-west railway, and thus wipe out for ever the huge interest bill which confronts us every year.
I desire to refer very briefly to the construction of the railway from Kyogle to Brisbane, During the discussion in this chamber of the measure authorizing the construction of that line, I spoke at some length, and listened carefully to the speech of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It did not then dawn upon me that a government in this age would contemplate providing for bridges and tunnels wide enough to carry only one set of rails. I understand that the surveys have been completed, and that they include something which, so far as Australia at least is concerned, is quite new - a spiral inside a tunnel through the mountains that separate New South Wales from Queensland. I believe that the tunnels and bridges, when built, will carry only one set of rails. If the work is to be done under contract, I suggest that before tenders are accepted the Government should carefully consider the advisability of making such provision that the bridges and tunnels will be capable of taking a double set of rails. The line from Sydney to Newcastle originally had tunnels that were capable of carrying, only one set of rails. The work ha’d subsequently to be duplicated at enormous cost. There was a. similar experience with the south coast line in New South Wales. In that case, also, duplication work had to be undertaken. There is no reason why the Commonwealth should make that mistake with the tunnels and bridges on the line from Kyogle to Brisbane. Other portions of the line will quite easily cope with the traffic when it is fully operating. I believe that it is impossible to increase the width of a tunnel while the line is in operation.
– Is there a double line across the Hawkesbury river?
– I think so. I understand that there are one or two single-line tunnels on the line from Newcastle to Kempsey, but that is no justification for the Commonwealth Government constructing a single-line tunnel in the mountains between Kyogle and Brisbane., Now, before a /tender is accepted,is the time to decide this matter. Almost regardless of cost, the Commonwealth Government should not allow a single-line tunnel to be constructed on any portion of the main lines of railway in Australia. I am a warm supporter of the proposal to unify the railway gauges throughout the Commonwealth. The question of- finance is undoubtedly a troublesome one, but that should not; prevent the work from being done. We should not now construct single-line tunnels, when, in the near future, if this country makes the progress which we all expect, double lines will be required. The country between Newcastle and Brisbane is probably the finest stretch of country in the world ; it is well watered, the climate is all that could be desired, and the soil could not bc better.
– lis there provision for a double line on the New South Wales side running north from Newcastle?1
– I know of none.
– Then why have it on the Kyogle-Brisbane section?
– Considering the nature of the country between Newcastle and Brisbane,, the construction of a single line in open country, or even where cuttings are required, would be a waste of public money. The construction of a single line of railway is not, in itself, a matter’ of great concern, but where tunnels are necessary it is a serious matter. Now is the time for this matter to be dealt with, as surveys have already been made for a single line of railway only.
I now desire to refer to the construction of the two cruisers required for the defence of Australia. When this matter was before the Son ate previously I stated. - and I think that I voiced the opinion, of large numbers of people in this country - that, so far as defence was concerned, all the equipment possible should be made in the Commonwealth regardless of cost. It is a matter not of a 30 per cent, or 40 per cent, preference, but of ma’king iu the Commonwealth the things that ‘ we require. Probably rifles and other small arms could be imported into Australia cheaper than they are made at Lithgow, but throughout Australia the opinion is practically unanimous that all the small arms which we require should be made in this country, and that the question of cost is a secondary consideration. These cruisers should, so far as possible, be made, in the Commonwealth. I do not believe that they will be constructed wholly in the shipyards of the successfultenderer. They will be assembled there, but much of the necessary equipment will be made at other centres. Why could not the assembling take place in the Commonwealth- as well as in Great! Britain ?’
– The cost of assembling them in Australia would be about £1,000,000 more than to assemble them in Great Britain.
– What is £1,000,000 when we are dealing with the defence of our country?
– A mere nothing when one has a good printing outfit !
– Already we are spending £7,000,000 a year on war pensions, and in other directions the war is costing us many more millions of pounds. It is far more important that we should be able to manufacture in the Commonwealth the vessels required for our defence than that we should make a- saving of approximately £800,000 on the cost of one.
– The honorable senator is assuming that there would be no increase on the estimate given by the Cockatoo Island authorities. He must remember that their price was only an estimate, and not a firm price. The Brisbane cost over £500,000 more than the estimate.
– I have it on good authority that the time of men employed at Cockatoo Island on other work wascharged against the Brisbane.
– I should have said the Adelaide, and not the Brisbane.
– The mere cost of building a ship at Cockatoo Island, Walsh Island, or somewhere else in the Commonwealth, is not a matter of great concern to me personally, but a country containing 6,000,000 or 7,000,000 people should be able to manufacture its own war equipment. If I had my way all the equipment possible would be manufactured in the Commonwealth… . It is humiliating to have to acknowledge that the vessels required for our defence have been ordered from abroad in order to save a few hundred thousand pounds. The annual revenue of the Commonwealth is, approximately, £56,000,000, and the expenditure of an additional £1,000,000 is not a matter of very great concern when it is for the defence of the country.
– The party to which the honorable senator belongs would spend nothing on defence.
– That is not so. Supporters of this party have, in common with the rest of the community, to bear their share of the cost, the pain, and the penalties of war, and we are very anxious to prevent wars altogether. We are prepared to go to great lengths to that end. This party holds the opinion that the materials required for our defence should be made in our own country, and that the question of cost is of secondary importance.
– Would the honorable senator be agreeable to installing, at a cost of £1,256,000, the machinery necessary for rolling armour plate when there would be only three weeks’ work for. it in respect of each cruiser ?
– Is the honorable senator quite certain that there is no rolling mill in Australia capable of doing the work?
– If the honorable senator will make further inquiries, he will find that Australia already possesses a plant capable of rolling the plates required for a modern cruiser. Mr. Delprat, the late manager of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, could tell him that we have machinery which, with a little alteration, is capable of making the plates required.
– Mr. Delprat said that the necessary plant did not exist in Australia. The honorable senator must know that he is talking rubbish.
– I saw Mr. Delprat’s statement. He said that to make the plates required in Australia the plant would be in operation for six weeks in each year, and not three weeks, as stated by the honorable senator. An honorable senator who can makeone such mistake is capable of making others, and his statements must be taken with a grain of salt.
– What was Mr. Delprat’s estimate of the cost of installing the rolling-plant?
– About £1,000,000.
– And how long did he say that it would take to roll the plates ?
– He said that a plant costing about £1,000,000 would take six weeks to roll the plates required by the Commonwealth in one year; but he did not take into account the future progress of the Commonwealth. It is possible that, instead of two cruisers, we may decide to build six, or even more.
– The honorable senator’s party, if it had its way, would build no cruisers.
– No. This party holds that, if cruisers are to be built, they should be built here; but honorable senators opposite say that if we are to have cruisers they should be built somewhere else, because of a paltry saving of £800,000.
– The saving is £800,000 each, which for two vessels represents £1,600,000.
– The point that I desire to emphasize is that in matters relating to its defence a country should be self-contained. These cruisers should be built here regardless of cost. Reference has been made to the fact that British shipbuilders are being ousted by Germans. I should like to throw -a little light on that subject, and shall, therefore, read a statement made by Mr. Walter Runciman, M.P., at Manchester, on the 28th March last, which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 18th June, 1925:-
One shipyard, which in the year ended September, 1913, paid £1,930 inlocal rates and £387 under schedule A of the income tax, paid out last year more than £10,000. The yard was of the same size with the same number of dry docks and building berths, but just at the conclusion of the war some soft ground was piled and made into solid ground. Imme- diately the Assessment Committee came along and increased its demand because the improvement had “ added tothe national wealth.” Old machinery was gradually replaced by new and better, and every time the equipment was improved the assessment went up, thus penalizing the owners for everything they did to improve the yard. This was no isolated instance. Another yard, on the Tyne, which was paying £2,700 in local rates and £500 under schedule A, was now paying more than £10,000 in local rates, and £3,000 under schedule A. In normal times that yard had produced four ships a year. Last year it produced three. On each of those ship’s £4,000 of the gross cost was due to taxation.
I should like to know how much of the estimated cost of constructing cruisers at Cockatoo Island was due to the piling on of overhead charges. I invite the attention of honorable senators to the extract I have just quoted, which gives one rea son why the German shipbuilders are able to undercut the shipbuilders in Great Britain, and incidentally I should like to know to what extent, if any, our shipyards are handicapped by taxation of a similar kind.
I desire to take advantage of this opportunity to briefly refer to our present system of national taxation. I presume that in the near future, when tariff measures are under discussion, we shall have an opportunity to deal with this question, although our comments will to some extent be curtailed. On this occasion, however, one can speak at some length upon the question of taxation. At present, the great bulk of our taxation is derived from Customs and excise duties. We are informed by our enthusiastic protectionist friends that under that great national policy all work can be undertaken in Australia, but when they got an opportunity to construct cruisers the work was sent abroad. During the last financial year we collected in the form of Customs and excise duties the very substantial sum of £36,000,000, which of itself should be a very clear indication to honorable senators of the large volume of goods manufactured in foreign low- wage countries which is finding its way into the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable senator advocate increased duties?
– If cruisers are to be built I am in favour of the work being undertaken in Australia. The honorable senator is supporting a Government which believes in building them abroad.
– The honorable senator does not wish any cruisers to be constructed.
– This party is in favour of the adequate defence of the Commonwealth, and it would be wise to place on record portions of our defence policy. On page 6 of the “Rules and Regulations of the Australian Labour Party,” we find, under the heading of “Defence,” the following: -
Amendment of Defence Act to secure -
In effect, we stand for the present Defence Act.
– -We stand for the present Defence Act, with the amendments T have suggested. It is utterly futile for honorable senators to say that the Labour party has no defence policy, as many of the regulations I have read are in effect now in operation.
– The policy of the Labour party consists of destroying what we have, and does not make provision for the future. What a delightful policy !
– -We provide for a limitation being placed on the number of professional soldiers necessary for purposes of instruction, administration, and a . working staff. This has been done so that in times of peace we shall have a nucleus staff with a knowledge of the work, and allow ordinary citizens to go about their business. When the services of additional men are required we would have a staff capable of training the necessary numbers.
– No one favours a large standing army.
– I do not think so. We stand for the creation and maintenance of a staff fu-l-lj equipped for training others should the occasion arise.
– Would such a staff be elected ?
– Perhaps that would be advisable. -.:
– What would be done in the event of an -invasion?
– I do not for a moment imagine that the present system is all that can be -desired. We favour the establishment and maintenance of a bodysuch as I have described, well equipped and fully conversant with the latest devices.
– Supposing the. persons elected knew nothing of the work they were to undertake?
– They would be replaced by others. In view of the interjections of honorable senators, Lt is most desirable that the defence policy of the Labour party should be placed before the Senate. We stand for the present Defence Act with the slight amendments I have mentioned, and, in particular, for an expert committee such ‘as I have attempted to describe. There are some persons, of course, who prefer to be always in military uniform, but a vast majority of Australia’s manhood prefer civilian attire. Prom information placed at my disposal I understand that men who understand the business would prefer to train men of the right age who have had no previous military experience, rather than endeavour to train boys who have been handled under very lax discipline.
– Was not the honorable senator a member of the Labour party when compulsory military training was introduced?
– Yes; I have always been a member of that party. . We tried compulsory military training as an experiment, and, in view of our experience, are now opposed to it. It is very peculiar that, if compulsory military training possesses all the good features which some honorable senators opposite believe it does, men are not trained instead of youths. Why is not every male of the military age compelled to attend drill on Saturday afternoons? Most men prefer to go to the races or football matches, and such a, thing would not be tolerated.
Reverting to the question o:f national taxation, I am very glad to see that the Western Australian Labour Government has dealt with this question in a way in which it has not been handled in any other state. It has imposed a straightout land values tax of 2d. in the ? on the unimproved value of the land in accordance with the principle laid down by the late Henry George in his notable work entitled Progress and Poverty. This policy will, no doubt, have a very excellent effect in making more land available for settlement in that state. I understand that all of the revenue, which must amount to a very substantial sum, is to be used for the reduction of freights on the Western Australian railways. Undoubtedly that will be a step in the right direction. It will be an immense boon to the users of the railways. I should very much like to see the same policy adopted throughout the Commonwealth. It will be within the recollection of honorable senators that when the Grafton-South Brisbane Railway Bill was being discussed in this chamber, I endeavoured to insert a clause providing for the imposition of a betterment tax upon the owners of land adjacent to the proposed railway. Unfortunately, that amendment was beyond the scope of the bill. Owing to the laxity of the Government, through its officers in the Land Tax Department, approximately ?2,000,000 in land taxation is outstanding. It is surprising how promptly the taxation authorities act in some cases and how promptly one set of citizens is mulct in fines while other people are allowed to escape. I noticed, in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 15th May, that Mr. Johnson, the assistant secretary of the Seamen’s Union, was before the court in Sydney and fined’ for having failed to furnish income tax returns.
– Did the honorable senator say his name was Johnson?
– Yes, I understand that is his name.
– His name is Jacob Johannsen.
– Whether his name is Johnson or Johannsen is beside the point. He failed to furnish income tax returns and was fined. The Sydney
Morning Herald report of the case is as follows : -
Jacob Johansen Fined.
Jacob Johansen assistant secretary of the Seamen’s Union, was proceeded against before Mr. Camphin, S.M., at the Central Summons Court yesterday, on information alleging that he failed to furnish Federal income tax returns for the years 1923 and 1924. He pleaded guilty, and was defended by Mr. Small.
Mr. Small asked that the information be altered from Johansen to Johnson, but no change was made in the information.
Alan Hardy Falconer, an officer of the Taxation Department, said that Johansen who was the assistant secretary of the Seamen’s Union, had never furnished a return under the Federal Income Tax Act. He should have furnished one for the past five years. His income would show a slightly taxable portion. The aggregate tax for two years would be about ?6, under both acts.
To the Bench: The Commissioner will enforce the tax payable. I do not doubt that the tax will be paid.
On each of the two charges Johansen was fined ?3, with 8s. costs, in default 21 days’ imprisonment.
I have also a report of another case. The Sydney Morning Herald of the 13th May states that Sir Sidney Kidman was fined ls. for what was described as a technical breach of the act.
– Does not that show the absurdity of some of the statements made about his case?
– I do not wish to read the whole of the report. The charge was -
That the taxpayer had failed to furnish, before the 31st August, 1924, a return under the Land Tax Assessment Act 1923 for the year ended 30th June, 1924, as and when required by the Commissioner of Land Tax.
The report goes on to state -
Thomas Owen Smith, officer in charge of land tax records in the department, submitted a return furnished on the 16th September, 1924, showing that the unimproved value of the freehold land of Sir Sidney Kidman on the 30th June, 1923, was ?13,504, irrespective of Crown leases and shares in companies.
The report, which is of some length, indicates that a fine of ls. was imposed, with costs amounting to ?4 6s. 6d. Mark the difference. Sir Sidney Kidman is one of the largest land-owners in the Commonwealth.
– If the honorable senator wished to be fair he should state that the report showed that Sir Sidney Kidman’s offence was a technical one, whereas J Johannsen’s was deliberate.
– -It is possible that Mr. Johannsen overlooked the fact that he was obliged to furnish a return. I have heard of many people who were under the impression for years that they were not obliged to make out income tax returns, so it is quite likely that Johannsen was not aware of his liability. Many’ people believe that members of Parliament escape the payment of income taxation. That”, of course, is a very great error. It is strange that Johannsen had to pay fines amounting to about £6, whilst Sir Sidney Kidman was fined only ls. for a similar offence. I have mad© this comparison in order again to expose the extreme difficulty of the department in collecting taxation under the present system.
– Does the honorable senator blame tho Government or the courts ?
– The courts, I suppose, are really to blame, but their decisions are not always sound. Some years ago, the late Mr. T. J. Ryan successfully challenged a decision of the High Court before tho Privy Council. Whatever respect most people may have for the courts, there is evidently a belief in the minds of some that, when courts deal so gently with men like Sir Sidney Kidman and so severely with men like Johannsen, they may be, to some extent, biased. I would welcome an alteration in the system for the collection of revenue. The present policy is unsound. The people who really own the Commonwealth are only called upon to make a nominal contribution to the revenue, whereas the enterprising’ people who do the work have to pay enormously in Customs, excise, and income taxation, as well as in many other directions. The time is opportune for the Government to bring down a measure calling upon the people who own Australia to contribute substantially towards the revenue. It was my intention to deliver a lengthy address upon -land values taxation*, but, as a number of other bills will come before the Senate during the ensuing few weeks, I shall take the opportunity then offered to enlarge upon this very important question and give honorable senators the benefit of my knowledge in regard to it.
– I have always been opposed to the construction of the cruisers abroad. In this matter I and thos© who think with me may be regarded as big Australians in the true sense of the word. We wish to have the vessels built in Australia. Senator Cox, this afternoon, stated by way of interjection, whilst Senator Needham was speaking, that he was talking “ tripe.” Those who object to the building of cruisers in Australia on the ground tha* it will be necessary, first, to establish special rolling mills, talk “ tripe.” Several estimates of the probable cost of those rolling mills have been submitted. One estimate was £1,000,000, another £500,000, and Senator DrakeBrockman has told us that, even if the rolling mills were established, they would only be used for about six weeks. That statement, too, in my opinion, is “ tripe.” I know nothing about shipbuilding, but I’ have been informed by men who are engaged in that industry that these mills can be altered to roll plates of any required size. If it is the intention of the Commonwealth to establish defence forces either on land or sea, it will not matter if it costs £1,000,000 or £1,500,000 to set up a rolling mill so long as we keep abreast of the times. Mr. Bruce, addressing the Chamber of Commerce of New South Wales recently, said -
Our greatest defence in Australia is the building up of our industries.
I quite agree with that statement, but
We find to-day that half of the industries we have built up are idle, while goods produced at less cost in other countries and under conditions of labour which do nOt compare with those in Australia are being brought her© to compete with those locally produced.
The Labour party has a defence policy. It stands for the development of factories which, while fulfilling a useful purpose in time of peace, may be applied, should the necessity arise, to the manufacture of implements of war. The Labour party advocates aerial defence, the establishment of aerial stations all over Australia, the setting up of adequate coastal defences, the building of submarines, and so forth. Honorable senators opposite are quite wrong when they declare that if Labour came into power there would be no defence policy for Australia. Every man in the Commonwealth is prepared to shoulder a gun to defend his country. Whatever may be the policy of the Labour party in other respects there must always be some form of defence. But these 10,000-ton cruisers which are being built at enormous expense will be about as effective as pop guns would be in the defence of Australia’s 12,000 miles of coast-line.
– How many cruisers would the honorable senator suggest are required for that purpose?
– If we are to build cruisers we should not build small vessels.
– The honorable senator is aware that the largest cruiser we can build under the terms of the Washington treaty must not exceed 10,000 tons.
– Quite so, and under the terms of that treaty - the Labour party was not consulted in the matter - the Government has sunk the Australia, whose guns could fire a shot twice as far as those of the 10,000-ton cruisers will be able to do. It has got rid of a battleship and is expecting two baby vessels to take her place. Since the signing of the armistice the Commonwealth has spent £25,000,000 on defence. According to Sir John Monash and other experts there is nothing to show for this enormous expenditure; the defence forces of Australia are in a deplorable condition, there is not sufficient ammunition for heavy guns to last for 24 hours, and the system of compulsory training now in operation is farcical. It is not the fault of the Labour party, but these things must be taken into consideration. People cannot hold a country unless they are in a position to defend it. Like Senator Needham I abhor war. I believe that the generals we have in this chamber also abhor Avar. But, notwithstanding our abhorrence of war, we all claim that we must be prepared to face it. There are various ways of being prepared, and if we follow the advice of the Prime Minister and build up our industries, it will go a long way towards making Australia a self-contained country quite able to protect itself.- It is quite possible that the Commonwealth Government may embark upon a policy of building a mercantile fleet.
– Already there are vessels owned by the Commonwealth rotting in our harbours.
– Whose fault is. that? An honorable senator has asked why the Western Australian Government recently bought a vessel that wasbuilt abroad. It was forced to doso. For its north-west coastal trade it chartered a steamer belonging to the British Government, but was recently notified by the Imperial authorities that the boat must be sold. The Government was given an opportunity to purchase it.
Sitting suspended from (S.S0 to 8 p.m-
– Honorable senators are, doubtless, aware that in Western Australia at present we have a Labour administration. In common with all other Labour governments, it does not believe in purchasing abroad anything that can be manufactured iuAus tralia. The price that was asked for the vessel to which I have referred was prohibitive, and the time available for procuring another vessel to take its place- in the north-west trade was so short that it was not possible to have one built. Therefore, the Government was forced to purchase a vessel from Great Britain. Whether the Government of Great Britain was playing into the hands of the private shipping companies is a matter for conjecture.
A great deal has been said regarding: the influx of southern Europeans into Australia in large numbers. It is true that for some years many Italians have come to Australia. As the Minister for Homeand Territories (Senator Pearce) hasstated, there is some underlying force that makes possible the financing of the immigration of Italians. They do not land asordinary immigrants. As their fares are- apparently, paid for them, there must be a syndicate in charge of the financial arrangements. Nine-tenths of these people are unable to speak the English language.
– Do they come here under contract.
– They may, or they may not; I cannot say.
– They finance them selves under the group system in North Queensland.
– They do not have to pass a language test. That should be insisted upon. Some of these Italians are encountered on the Kalgoorlie gold-fields.. They can bid one “good day” in English; but that is about all they know of the English language. When they are employed in places that are likely to prove dangerous, it is necessary for the experienced miners in whose company they are working to see to their safety.
– Under the Mining Acr. of Western Australia the State Government has power to enforce the language test on miners. Why does it not do so?
– Very likely that to’ being done now, but it has not been the case, in past years. I speak with knowledge, because I have worked on the fields. Whilst the Labour party is not opposed to. immigration, it believes that the first duty of the Commonwealth Government is to see that its own people are employed before it permits large numbers of foreigners to be brought to Australia. I do not know whether those who come here accept less than the ruling rate of’ wages, but it is a significant fact that they can obtain employment whilst our own people are unable to- do so-. An honorable- senator asked, during this debate, how the Australians, could expect to get work if they would, not go out of town, but were content’ to lounge, about the streets. That may be so in Melbourne, Sydney, or Adelaide, but on the gold-fields such a spectacle- is not witnessed, and yet Australians there have for some time been displaced by foreign immigrants. If the Government desires to make Australia self-contained, and populate its vast vacant spaces, its. first duty is to see that the Australian-born at least gets a chance to: work some of his native soil. - Frequently he is not given the opportunity, preference being given to immigrants in different parts of Australia.
There is room in Australia for many more people than it is now carrying, and- there should be work for all. The trouble is that when industries are established in any state, but particularly in Victoria, a sufficient amount of protection ia not afforded to enable them to compete against the goods that are dumped here by foreign manufacturers. I should, like to- draw attention to the case of Bryant and May’s match factory in Richmond. Itis second tq none in Australia in the working conditions that it provides for its employees. It supplies its male and’ female workers individually with two sets of overalls, which it launders, repairs, and keeps in order. There is a big dining-room, in which the employees are supplied by the company, free of cost, with soup, two rolls, milk, butter, sugar, and tea daily at mid-day.
-brockman. - It is one of those “ capitalistic companies “ to which honorable senators opposite so often refer I
– I am endeavouring to show what can be done when employers act honorably towards their employees. That has not been my experience in every case. In this factory there are two big electric ice-cream churns. In the summer afternoons the employees are taken to the dining-room in groups of 40, 50, or 60, and are provided with icecream and cool drinks during a tenminutes’ spell from duty. The conditions for the employees are ideal. Their hours of labour are- 40 per cent, less than the company could insist upon. Yet it has to compete with wooden matches that are brought to Australia from foreign countries. The consequence is that during- the last three years 45 per cent, of its employees have had to be dismissed, and almost the same percentage of its machinery shut down. Wooden matches have been imported into Australia in the following quantities during the last three years : -
Considering the conditions that are provided by this company for its employees the Commonwealth Government will not be doing its duty if it does not so increase the tariff as to prevent the dumping of Swedish and other foreign matches into Australia. If we refrain from importing what it is possible to make in Australia a greater number of our people will be employed. When this factory is working full-handed it employs 200 men and 400 girls. If the whole of the plant were operated it’ could, employ 250 men and 500 girls. At the present time there are 150’ men and 300 girls employed.
– Has the larger number been employed at any time? ‘
– Yes. The company supplies one-fourth of the quantity of matches now used in Australia. With an adequate tariff it would be able to duplicate its plant and- supply the whole of the requirements of Australia.
– Why. did it increase tlie-price of its matches the other day?
– The company says that the price will not be increased.
– It did increase the price.
– Bryant and May did. not increase the price; it was increased by the retailers’ association.
– With a higher tariff it could duplicate its plant without increasing the price to the consumer. The raising of the tariff would force the foreign manufacturer to establish works in. Australia and employ Australians at the same rate of wages and under the same conditions as are being observed today by Bryant and May. No objection could be taken to that. The Lincoln Mills,, which manufacture all classes of woollen goods, are working 45 per cent, less time than they did three years ago. This is due to dumping. Goods that have been manufactured in foreign countries are sold here at prices lower than the- cost of manufacture in Australia; thus proving that the wages are lower in those countries than they are here, and that the conditions under which their employees work are not so good. Consider the case of a man abroad who is in a large way of business. At the commencement of the season he puts out his goods at a high price. When he has disposed of the biggest part of his stock, he finds that the demand for his goods has ceased, and he is left with a . certain quantity on hand. What does he do ? He sends it to New Zealand, or dumps it here in Australia. His profit has already been made. But Australia has to compete with his product.
– That does not apply to the commodity to which the honorable senator has referred.
– It does.
– The Australian Industries Preservation Act would apply if a man were selling in Australia at a price lower than the cost of production in the country of origin.
– Some time ago, Senator Guthrie pointed out that serge which cost 32s. 6d. to produce was being sold here for 2s. 6d. If we are to have a self-contained nation, and are to defend ourselves and keep Australia white, we must foster and encourage our indus tries. No tariff is too high if it is necessary to enable us to produce that which we are capable of making..
– Will the honorable senator enlighten us as to the defence policy of his party? I was out of the chamber during the earlier part of his speech.
– I hope that the honorable senator will hot attempt to repeat his speech, as I should have to refuse him permission to do so.
– In conclusion, I wish to make it clear that I am as good an Australian as any man in this chamber, and am prepared to go the “ whole hog “ as regards Australian sentiment, whether it be in relation to the construction of a warship or a tin tack. Whatever can be made here ought to. be made here. Any national government worthy of the’ name would do all within its power to foster Australian industries.
– The discussion on the first reading of this bill serves two purposes. First, it enables honorable senators., after the comparative quiet of recess, to direct attention to many matters of public importance; and, secondly, it gives the Opposition the opportunity to express their belated thoughts. Ordinarily, the AddressinReply is availed of; but honorable senators opposite, in a spirit of self-denial, decided that in connexion with the Address-in-Reply debate they would not utter a word on any public question. It was with the object of giving them every facility to express their views that I refrained from speaking until now. In the minds of some honorable senators opposite thought had become so pent up and explosive, that, like a burning mountain, an outlet was necessary. Two forces were at conflict within them. There was the burning desire to speak, and at. the same time the desire to exercise a little self-denial by not speaking. And they are such good talkers, too ! I welcome the discussion that has taken place to-day, because, while much of a purely destructive character has been said, much of it has been of a constructive nature. At a later stage I shall endeavour on some subjects to present a different version from that presented by preceding speakers. I am sorry that I was unable :to hear the whole of Senator Needham’s : speech, but I propose later to allude to some of his remarks that I did hear. At present, I desire to refer to the extraordinary statement of Senator Grant-*- that a vital reform is necessary in the defence organization of the Common- wealth in the direction of providing that the commanding officers shall, in future, be elected by the rank and file. That is a novel, if not a -revolutionary, proposal, which, I believe, is an «embryo plank in the platform of the latter-day Labour, party. It is an interesting proposal, no matter from what view-point one looks at it. It proposes to take away from any government which may be in power the right to appoint the leaders of its defence forces. So far as that is concerned, it does not matter to this latter-day Labour party whether the Government that is in power is or is not a Labour administration, but the signs of the times are that in the distant future - the very distant future - we shall have a Labour Government in the Commonwealth. The platform of this latter-day Labour party provides that the men who are . to take the leading part in directing whatever defence force we possess shall be elected by the rank and file of those who shall come forward. whether they like it or not, to defend their country. Such a proposal would be a rank act of treason against amy Labour Government that might be in power, because it would be taking from that government, which alone is responsible to the people, the power to make appointments which should be the subject of the most careful scrutiny and the soundest judgment. In the command of our defence forces is, to a great extent, vested the custody and care of the people of this land. This principle of the election of the officers of an army by the warrior proletariat who may choose to fight is a novel one.
– It was done in Russia.
– This proposal, if adopted, would lead us into curious paths, and being such a radical departure from the existing methods should be viewed very carefully. Parliament is a useful institution if for no other purpose than that it provides the opportunity for important matters to be discussed from «very angle. Within these walls various subjects are discussed both from the points of view of ardent supporters and strong opponents. A Parliament which represents the whole community is a useful and welcome institution, in that it enables the light of day to shine upon the most radical reforms. Closely associated with this policy of election - a kind of twin invention - are the reforms known as the initiative referendum and recall. A halfhearted introduction of the elective system will never satisfy, and its complement - the initiative and recall - must follow. Some honorable senators on the other side who are members of the great party which would bring about this reform have probably not considered certain possibilities. What are these possibilities ? The advocates of this reform would never think of taking half measures, and, therefore, must link up with the principle of election that of the initiative referendum and recall, with which it is rightly associated. To allow the rank and file merely to elect its officers would be to apply part only of the great principle - and the latter-day Labour party never does things by halves! As the whole principle would have to be applied, let us see how it would work out at a critical time for the nation. Let us suppose that the country was attacked, and that whatever power we possessed for defence was marshalled to defend our shores. While it is admitted that all ranks have their duties to perform, the chief responsibility must rest with the officers controlling the army - the commander-in-chief and his subordinates. In their custody practically rests the fate of the country. Under the principle we are discussing these men would be elected by the rankers themselves. Let us further suppose that, after having received the vote of his fellow warriors, mostly on the ground of his proclivities, the commander-in-chief discharged his duties in a manner that did not meet with the approbation of those serving under him. That would lead to the next stage of this novel principle, namely, the- recall. What would happen then? The army would hoist the flag of truce, and say to the .enemy, “ Halt ! Cease fire ! We are going to elect a new general, as the man we have got is going slow on the job.” Because of its -chivalrous nature the enemy would most certainly accede to such a request, and ‘ cease firing. That would be only natural. No enemy would be so despicable as to continue fighting while these doughty warriors elected a new commander-in-chief. It would be as natural for an enemy to do that as for a man to walk down the street on his head instead of on his feet. These natural things are so common that they are met with every day! While the army proceeded to elect a new commander-in-chief the safety of the country would be assured, because no enemy would take a mean advantage of an army about to perform so important a duty. The new commander-in-chief elected under this novel principle might prove no more satisfactory to his fellow warriors than his predecessor. A referendum, would “again bc necessary to ascertain the best man for the position of commanderinchief. Immediately the enemy would be communicated with, and asked to again cease firing, as the army was about to conduct a referendum.. And again the enemy would do so, because no enemy would take a mean advantage of an army performing such an important socialistic duty ! The ballot-box, therefore, has unlimited potentialities for the safeguarding of this country. These are possibilities which I have the extraordinary temerity to bring before Senator Grant. He may not have thought of them, but to me they are as clear as the noon-day sun.
Senator Needham, in a very comprehensive discourse, spoke of the unwisdom of the Government in ordering cruisers from the Old Country. We had heard of this subject before, but the arguments were not presented in the same way. Here again the usefulness of Parliament is exhibited, in that the most exalted among us, as well as the lowliest, may express our views. I am here in my lowly role to offer some comment upon Senator Needham’s speech, and other speeches of a like nature which have been delivered in another place. What is the position? Does it not amount to this : That in the first place, when the Government brought down a proposal for keeping the Australian-owned and controlled navy up to its strength, it received the general support of the Australian people. That phrase, “ an Australian-owned and controlled navy,”
I believe, still lingers in the minds of :he members of the latter-day Labour party. It is in their platform, although they have excised from their programme quite a number of the original clauses relating to our defence. The Australianowned and controlled navy is with us still, and I believe it is one of the boasts of the Labour party that it was responsible for the creation of that navy. What is meant by an Australian-owned and controlled navy ? Does it not mean that it is to be- an arm of our defence which must be maintained as an effective fighting unit? It is true that warships were ordered to be built in the Commonwealth by a Labour Government, and it is also true that some of them took a very long time to construct - some of them as long as Noah took to build the ark. The two cruisers now under construction are for the purpose of protecting the external trade of the Commonwealth, and our action in building them is also in accord with the decisions of the latest world effort to bring armaments at least within reasonable bounds. I refer to the Washington Conference. The members of the. latter-day Labour party say that we do not need any cruisers at all. I can quite understand such an expression of opinion coming from those who kneel at the altar of altruism, and who blind their eyes to the facts, even if such action maylead to their own extinction. If they weretrue worshippers at that altar, I would not mind. But have they been ? When a. certain motion was submitted in another place it waa decided by the members of the party opposite that on this greatquestion they would stand as firm as the rock of ages. In keeping with the principles of the Third Internationale at Moscow or some other centre, they decided’ that no warships should be built. They were resolved to stand firm and blaze thetrail on this important issue. And theThird Internationale, no doubt, said,. “Well done!” But when there wasa further development they decided that if cruisers were to be built, the work should be undertaken in Australia. A member of another place tabled a motion to test the feelings of honorable members on the subject. The motion was defeated. Then came the opportunity for these modern Ironsides. What did they do? They had stated on the previous day that, in keeping with the policy of the Third Internationale, they were opposed to warship construction, but they then became a mere semblance of their original heroic selves, and said that if -warships were to be built they should be constructed in Australia. The ‘ ‘ evil “ act of building ships for our protection has turned out to be quite harmless, so long as they are built here. Black is white, and wrong is right ! The members of the Labour party altered their view-point, and favoured the construction of warships in the Commonwealth. Senator Grant,, of. all men, has made some most astounding statements on the question of Australia’s defence. I used to pride myself on the privilege of following him in his support of Cobdenite principles, but even he, who has followed so faithfully in the steps of Cobden, John Bright, Henry George, and others of their exalted political cult, and has said on many occasions that those who proposed to manufacture anything in this country, and wanted a duty to help them, would not get a vote from him, has changed his course. When it comes to building ships, what becomes of this modern prophet ? He demands that- they shall be built here, whatever the cost. What can I do? My prophet has gone, and his feet are of clay. What will the Third Internationale say? I can imagine a telephone conversation between a representative of the latter-day Labour party and a person of corresponding dignity in the Third Internationale. The latter would probably say: ““What are you doing down there?” The representative df the latter-day Labour party would say : “ We are building warships.” The representative of the Third Internationale would then probably say : “ Oh ! you are, are you?” and the reply would be: “ Yes, we are in favour of warships so long as they are built in Australia.” The answer would be: “Confound you; what do you mean, you hypocrites? Is it because yon want to win popular favour that yon -violate and dishonour your word and principle of yesterday? Do you call yourselves men? You are not fit company for members of the Third Internationale. .Ring off.”
We Iia ve arrived at a peculiar staple of party discipline and party manoeuvring. Gone are the days when mcn adhered to their word, and when principles were regarded as sacred. We are living in a new agc, when -a man’s word is looked upon as of little value, and when, if our alleged principles -stand, in out way, Ave can bore a tunnel through them. Regard for principle no longer stands in theway of the members of the Labour party. They ought to say, “We have none;” Their vision is not so blurred that they cannot see the position in which they stand. The time is coming -when -out efforts, however feeble, will be used against those gentlemen who are behaving in such a peculiar manner at this juncture. Since it has some association with this question of constructing cruisers in Australia, I should like to draw honorable senators’ attention to the fact that when the construction of a vessel on a smaller scale was offered to the shipbuilders in this country - when a Labour Government, to which Senator Graham has referred, required a ship to be built which we know was within the capacity of the shipbuilders of this country - ‘not a single tender was received. The following appeared in the Argus of the 8th April, 3925:-
Perth, Tuesday, 17th April, 1925. - Tlie State Ministry intends to call tenders for a Deiselengined steamer to replace the Bambra at a cost of about £1.60,000 for tlie North-west Coast service. The Colonial Secretary (Mr. Drew) stated to-day that the Federal Ministry ‘had decided to admit the vessel ‘free df 25 per cent. duty.. No tender was received in Australia for the vessel to replace the Eucla on the South-east Coast. It will be built >« England, and will also be admitted free df duty.
Apparently, it is quite right for a Labour Government to let a contract in England for the construction of a vessel which could be built here, but if. a Nationalist’. Government does the same thing the most unusual language is used by Labour members in condemning its action.
– The Tasmanian Labour Government is having a vessel built in Great Britain.
– Yes, and, in addition, the Tasmanian Labour Government sold vessels purchased by a previous Nationalist Government. But when, this Nationalist Government hints at selling the Commonwealth Fleet, on which there is an annual loss of £500,000, the dictionary is ransacked for epithets to hurl at them. A Labour Government can steal a whole mob of horses, but any other kind of Government must, not look over the fence. Pair play is bonny play. We must “play the game.” If we played such a game iu the football arena as honorable members of the Labour party are playing in this connexion in the political field, we would be kicked off the field, and rightly so, too. The sins of the members of one party, which are written in scarlet on their foreheads, are allowed to pass unnoticed, whereas the members of the other party, whose scarlet marking is comparatively insignificant, receive wholesale condemnation. How long we are to continue in this way I do not know, but I.. am reminded of a saying that I first heard in Queensland - a man cannot play all the time with a double-headed penny.
Of course, there are such things as majorities, and majorities are very often right. There are occasions, however, when they are wrong. That certain majorities have been obtained recently counts for nothing. Majorities can be secured by various and devious means. I wish to draw a clear distinction between the members of the latter-day Labour party and the old Labour party, in which sense prevailed and some semblance of consistency, honour, and honesty was observed. In the early days of the Labour party its members gave their word and stuck to it. Apparently, we have departed from the old morale of the Labour party. In those days its members made sacrifices in order to establish the movement on a firm footing. The “ cuckoos “ in the movement to-day are enjoying to the full the benefits obtained by the men who made sacrifices because they loved the cause for which they worked. Are sacrifices being made to-day? Not at all. In the years gone by men in the party walked hither and thither, over very many rocky paths, in an endeavour to promote and advance the cause they loved, but they do not do it now. You may count your majorities by five’s or tens of thousands, but I tell you that you cannot advance except by a strict adherence to those principles which are the cardinal points, if not the very milestones, in the evolution of human society. If you depart from them you only court a foredoomed failure. It has been well said by Ralph Waldo Emerson (hat every reform was once the opinion of one man. The truth of this has been fully demonstrated in the history of every well-ordered society, and when I am told about the opinion of majorities, it does not count very much with me, because while the opinions of majorities are mostly right, and therefore to be respected, they are often also wrong. I do not say that my remarks concerning the morality of the Labour party apply to the whole of the party. Far from it. There are in it men whom I respect very much, although some of them do not talk to me - or rather I do not want to talk to them - because I dare to-day to express opinions which I have always held. They put their noses in the air, some of these men when I pass them in the street, but conscious of tlie justice of my attitude I put my own nose just a little higher and pass them by. But let me discuss the morality of this party. It is disclosed by the opinion of one very important member of it. He controlled a newspaper, and in the course of one article dealing with the conduct of it he stated -
There will be only ink spilling and splash. . . . Truth will find a place, but not to the exclusion of more interesting matter. . .
No virtue will be seen in the enemy nor vice among friends.
I did not think it possible to come to such a pass as that. Neither do I think now that the glorious cause of Labour, to which all well-affected citizens are still wedded, will endorse that statement.
– Who is the editor?
– A leading member of the Labour party.
– Give us his name.
– I will; though. I wanted to shield him a little. It is Mr. Anstey. I tried, in all kindness, not to disclose the name, because I have some tender regard for that gentleman: If this represents the policy of honorable senators opposite they are welcome to it. I am convinced, however, that while it may be the policy of certain of its leaders, it is not the policy of an overwhelming majority of the party. If the party intends to conduct its political affairs without regard to individual relationships and ideas of right, it is foredoomed to failure. Who is the best friend of Labour? Who is the best friend of any one of us? Is he not the man who will tell the party or the individual of its faults as well as ite virtues 1 Have we reached that stage when the public life of this country can be conducted only -with abuse ? “ Audacity, audacity, and yet audacity,” was the counsel of a famous French political strategist. Do members of the latter-day Labour party hope to secure permanent victory by that means? I refuse to believe it. It is true that the party may achieve a temporary victory, but at what a cost. I still believe that truth will be vindicated. It cannot be buried permanently in the dust. It will live long, long after all these incidents are forgiven and forgotten. We shall have to get back to the time-honoured principle of justice to all. We cannot conduct our public affairs except by an observance of those truths upon which society has been founded. I intended to refer to several matters, but I permitted myself to enter these bypaths for the special purpose of evidencing my good- will towards honorable .senators opposite. They have it to the fullest extent, and I hope they will accept what I have said in the spirit in which it has been uttered. I have fulfilled my part of the contract.
We have heard something about a breach of faith bv the Nationalist Government in connexion with the cruiser contract. I have already dealt at some length with the breach of faith by members of the present-day Labour party, in regard to things that mattered in the past, and I am now tempted to ask, What have they done with the defence policy of the old Labour party ? I well remember being present at the 1907 Labour conference in Brisbane, when the defence policy of the party, since crystallized in the form of. the Defence Act, was laid down. What was the import of those deliberations. Clearly it was that if this country was worth protecting, it should be protected in some whole-hearted fashion, and not by a haphazard voluntary go-as-you-please, doasyoulike, system. Latter-day leaders of the Labour party have reverse^ that decision. They are doing their best to destroy the work of men who did something for the Labour movement - men who made sacrifices for principles in which they believed: men who were “sacked “ over and over again because they stood by the policy oof the old Labour party. Leaders of the latter-day Labour party, it, appears, do nothing except talk. They have broken faith with the people of Australia in a matter of the most vital importance, namely, the defence of this country. If a thing is of any value, surely it is worth protecting. If a man by thrift becomes possessed of’ a sunt of money to be used for a rainy day, is it likely that he will spill it about on the verandah of his dwelling ? Of course not. He takes steps to protect it, because it is of value to him, and because, if he fails to safeguard it, thieves may steal his hardwon savings over many years. Under the policy enunciated by the latter-day leaders of the Labour party, how do we stand in regard to the freedom which wo enjoy ? We have the last expression in the way of human freedom in the world, and yet we are told that this glorious heritage, handed down bo us by our grandsires, is to be entrusted to the tender mercies of thos© who take their orders from Moscow or sit on some other International Council. Australians will never submit to such a damnable and suicidal policy as that. They will take no chances. Just as Soviet leaders in Moscow are specially jealous of and prepared to defend that awful social system which has been fastened upon the benighted people of that unfortunate blood-bespattered -land, so are all true Australians prepared to (defend- freedom in this country. All this trouble is being wrought at the instigation of a miserable remnant who have come to this country from other lands; by men who have done nothing themselves for freedom, but who are now trying to destroy the glorious heritage which our forefathers fought for and won.
– Who are these people 1
– They are men who never fought for the principles of the old Labour party, which find an abiding place in our laws. The honorable senator knows them as well as I do. He sits cheek-by-jowl with men who are endeavouring to fasten their suicidal and destructive policy upon Australia. Did we not see Walsh, the representative of bolshevism, sitting side by side with accredited Labour delegates at the Victorian Labour Conference recently ? Do we not also see Garden in the company of Labour leaders in New South Wales? What has he ever done to advance the cause of liberty? What have others done who are now playing such a ruinous part in the affairs of the present-day Labour party 1 They are breeding trouble out of all proportion to their numerical or intellectual strength in the party ? Why are the members of the Labour party being led by the nose in this way ? Fortunately there are some who refuse to be so led any longer. It is high time they made then1 selves heard and stamped out these serpents that have come from abroad - these men who themselves never turned a hair to win freedom. The time has come for plain speaking. It is time that every well-affected citizen, every believer in democracy, rose in his wrath to drive these reptiles out of this garden of Eden - for in a sense Australia is a veritable garden of Eden. It is reassuring to know that there is still some freedom in this country. There have been attempts to close my mouth. That cannot be done. It is not liberty - it is only a bastard form of liberty - that would dare to close the mouth of any mau well disposed towards the social laws under which he lives. There is still opportunity for the expression of opinions such as I have just uttered, and if it is availed of we shall have a more wholesome state of public feeling in the future. We should expose the hollowness, the unwisdom, the impracticability as well as the ruinous effect, of the opposite doctrine. I challenge contradiction of what I am saying.
I spoke just now of an infraction by the. Labour party of its solemn trust. We all know what has happened with regard to arbitration - another Labour-made law. There were nien in the party - I was one of them - who went around the country making themselves unpopular at every turn, and who after a long uphill, strenuous effort at length succeeded in ripening public opinion to the point of accepting arbitration as the sole means of protecting the men and women of the country as they had never been protected before. What is the presentday Labour party doing now ? At the behest and direction, and by the express instruction of a contemptible element in this country, mostly a foreign, brainless, and ruthlessly inclined section, the Arbitration Act, which has been the bulwark of the workers in Australia, is to be trampled to the dust. And not a word is raised in protest, because it would have a repercussionary effect on the reactionaries, and in the end popular favour would be lost. That is the sum total of it. As Aristotle said, “ The demagogues are the bane of democracy,” which brings me again to the point of my argument. The trouble in all democracies is that there is always one section that will advocate its own cause at the expense of the whole, and thus bring about the downfall of the whole. History shouts contradiction to the assertion that democracy is a stable form of society. Democracy that does not trust itself is always unsafe, and unless we throw out of our body politic that poisonous element we have with us to-day we shall go the way of all democracies. Look at Greece to-day - Greece, that glorious land, which, as Byron said, was holding the light aloft for the enlightenment of mankind. How was it governed during the recent w.ar? By an imported sovereign aided and abetted by an imported consort. That country, which gave birth to Pericles and Demosthenes, was ruled by two such samples, who raised the sceptre of tyranny everywhere. The Aegean Isles, whose constitution was a pattern for that of the United States of America, were the prancing ground of a foreign prince. History has the knack of repeating itself. Lest it should do so in our case, let us make sure that those who are in our midst to-day are put in their proper place without much delay.
Another infraction of the spirit that obtained in the Labour party in days gone by is the feeling that has been engendered among two sections in our society - the employers and the employed. Did not those of the early days of the Labour movement always acknowledge that there were employers and employers - that there were good men in the employing classes just as there were among the employed? Did we not claim that by the passing of an Arbitration Act, that legislation which is now being trampled underfoot, a good and generous well-affected employer would be placed on as good a footing as the other fellow, and for the first time would be given a chance with an unfair competitor? That was one of the most powerful arguments used by us in the old Labour time. But now the good and the bad are herded together, and all employers are branded as outcast! of society. I am heartily sick and tired of all this nonsense, because the very men who indulge in it are availing themselves of all the arts and practices and devices that are usually adopted to get a share of what is condemned as capital. I exempt some of them from this charge, but I do blame those who at every “ red “ conference utter condemnations against capital, claiming that . there is nothing so detestable in the whole civilized scheme as capital, yet never lose an opportunity to get a little of its tainted proceeds. To such men I am prepared to say, “Well done. You have to get a living; but I should like a little more consistency on your part.” I have never met that type of latter-day Labour prophet who would feel insulted at being told that by putting a few pounds into certain capitalistic ventures he would have a certain percentage returned to him. As a “ matter of fact, he is the very class of man from whom I have often obtained advice that has proved profitable to me. If I wanted good advice as to how I could get more capital to help my bankrupt farm to get rid of the dead weight of debt upon it, I would get it from the very men who turn up at these “ red “ conferences, declaim against capitalism, and then make a bee-line to the nearest broker’s office to draw their dividends. Their outspoken, fervent cursing of capital in public is only equalled by their whole-souled blessing of it in private when drawing a dividend or the rent of a suburban villa. Yes, it is about time we talked over these things among ourselves. I want to be told my faults; I have so many that I do not know where they begin or end, but I want to be told of them, just as I propose to tell others of their faults, whilst having all good will for them. I hope they will tell me of mine, always provided they stick to the truth and do not follow the standard which has been set up for them by some of their leaders. If the doctrine now preached, that of creating bad feeling between employer and employee, is to be strictly and rigidly adhered to, no worker can rise from the ranks. By all the rules of the game the bootmaker who starts a boot-repairing business, and finds that his trade is sufficient to enable him to employ an assistant, at once becomes a capitalist. If a miner goes into the interior, and after years of plodding and hard struggling, and often starvation, eventually makes a find, unlocks some of nature’s treasure, and secures a rich and well-deserved reward, he at once becomes a detested capitalist as soon as he enlists the assistance of others to form a company. According to the rules of the game he becomes a social outcast, and one to be shunned. Senator Graham does not dissent from that statement.’ When I put it to him he has the wisdom and manliness to assent to it. The farm labourer becomes a capitalist when he reaches that degree of eminence at which he can farm his own land. Where can we draw the line? Capital is but congealed labour. Even the schoolboy who saves a few pennies, and puts them in. a savings box, is a capitalist. The man who saves his surplus earnings and puts them by for a rainy day is also a, capitalist. The man who subscribes to a co-operative establishment is also a capitalist. I recognize that there are abuses of capital, but they can always be held in check by this Parliament. If ever those abuses become rampant in this .country it is within the powers of the people to control them. This Parliament can always bring capital to its bearings, make it amenable to reason, and curb it in its predatory designs. If we only had- in this country a Labour party true to its own principles - a Labour party that would not hearken to the voice of ill advisers - there would be only one party in Australia for evermore. There is no leisured class in the Commonwealth. Ninety per cent, of the people are workers by hand or brain. I know it serves the purpose of some persons on the hustings to say that certain honorable senators are here to serve the interests of a mere 10 per cent, of the people, but the truth is that those honorable senators are here by the exercise of the free choice of the majority of the toilers by hand or brain. Therefore, they must be accorded every right to choose what is best in their own interests.
There are certain features of the Government policy to which I wish to draw attention, particularly the necessity for a better roads system in Australia. According to the Commonwealth Tear-Book this country is largely dependent on primary production. Out of £140,000,000 worth of goods exported from Australia last’ year, only 3 per cent, represented manufactured products. The other 97 per cent, consists of the direct produce of mother earth. Our imports are mounting up, showing that we have a greater consuming capacity, but we are not showing a corresponding increase in the export of those commodities upon which we depend to pay our debts and the interest upon the money that we borrow. The Commonwealth Government is. the dominant tax-collecting authority in Australia. I should like it to take steps that would enable it to increase the road grant to £1,000,000 a year and make it permanent, in order to make easier the lot of those who go into the interior, turning their backs upon the sea coast, so that they may develop the undeveloped portions of the continent, and increase the production of those things which are so valuable to us. Primary production is our breath of life, the main pillar of our national strength.
If I were the adviser of the Government I should suggest that it make available £100,000 annually for the purpose of testing old mining fields, whether they be fields of gold, silver, copper, or any other metal, and for prospecting generally. That would give hope and encouragement to prospectors to go into the uncharted places of Australia, and reveal to us the hidden wealth that they contain. It should be provided that the states should make available an equal amount. By such means attention would be directed to our mining resources, and those who are engaged in metalliferous mining would be given an opportunity to succeedto a greater extent than they have done in the past.
I hope that my suggestions will receive consideration when the Budget is being framed. In the meantime I shall avail myself of every opportunity to further their adoption.
– When Senator Guthrie addressed the Senate, on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, he referred to the good work that had been done by . the Government. We expected that eulogy from him, because we recognize that the Government isan advocate of the “ big-business interests.” He made certain references to Russia, and to its Bolshevik Government, with which I disagree. One of the quotations that he made was -
Near by stood a church with thewindows broken, the crucifix torn off, and the tower burned, a pitifully typical emblem of the Russia of to-day. The Bolsheviks are robbing the peasants, and killing every one who falls into their hands.
An intelligent man like Senator Guthrie should know that there is something radically wrong with, such a statement.. No government could continue along those lines; it would soon be deprived of the right to govern.
– The honorable senator forgets that Russia is not an educated and articulate community.
– I agree that the people of Russia are probably the most uneducated in the world, and that it is hard, therefore, to bring about reforms there. I recognize that every reform springs from knowledge. We cannot, therefore, expect, the people of Russia to progress until they are educated, and gain in knowledge. I have here a quotation that is the opposite of that which was read by Senator Guthrie. It is taken from the report of the British trade union delegation that was sent to Russia, and reads - “In SovietRussia every one must work to live.” In this terse phrase the report of the British Trade Union Delegation which -recently visitedRussia gives the keynote of the Soviet social system. It does not mean thereby that present-dayRussia offers a- perfect example of communism in practice. The system, it observes,, is in many cases “ still in its experimental stages.” It points out, however, that “ no conclusions as to its stability or value can be obtained from those who steadfastly refuse to accept what it offers.”
While it wouldbe misleading to state that the system, has permeated the whole country, “ it is undoubtedly being supported by the whole of the industrial workers, by many of the peasants, and by those of the former middle class who have joined the movement either from conviction or through force of circumstances.”
The peasants are, of course, less accessible to education in the principles of the new system than are the town workers, and the methods of propaganda adopted during the fierce period of war communism have now been modified. “ It is now generally recognized in communist circles,” says the report, “ that the peasantry can best be educated by giving them a larger representation in the Government and District Councils,and by teaching them to govern themselves locally. The communist attitude to the peasant is a curious combination of contempt and consideration. “ Sovictism as practised at present appears to be a compromise between communism and state socialism, with strong tendencies towards the latter. It is the result of practical experiment among largecommunities, and the success of the movement is undoubtedly due to the courage of its leaders in acknowledging mistakes when by practical demonstration their theories have proved to be impracticable. “ The fundamental principle of the system is the formation of a state and society which shall give tlie greatest possible benefits to the majority of the workers (by which is meant both hand workers and brain workers ) , and equal opportunities to all men and women.”
The report .puts briefly the main features of the system. Even more .briefly they are: Creation of the power of personal wealth, by destruction of the power of private wealth. To this end all real property, industry, and capital are owned by the state. The worker receives his pay, and, in addition, tho privileges of a citizen of the Soviet state. Under the latter head come recreation, medical service, education, housing, &c.
H is still necessary for the worker to pay a nominal fee for his privileges, but as the state becomes wealthier all these will be made free.
The peasant’s land and house represent, in his case, tlie worker’s wage. In addition, he has the .benefits of education, medical service, recreation, 4 c.
There remains the non-worker - he who, being .between tlie ages of 17 and 55, will not engage in work under the Soviet state. He lias no political or social status. He must pay high prices for everything. His lot is hard. “ But’ in Soviet Russia every one must work to live.”
– Is that a biased report?
– I do not think that it is half as biased as the quotations which were read by the honorable senator.
– I quoted from the report of a commission that was representative of every nation.
– The honorable senator quoted from many authorities. As I have previously stated, no government could continue along the lines described by him, because very soon no inhabitants would be left in the country.
– The honorable senator knows that Russia is a perfect hell to-day.
– These delegates do not say so.
– Because they do not tell the truth.
– I cannot see any greater reason for their lying than for those whom the honorable senator quoted. They were sent to Russia by the British trade unions to see what was happening in that country. They would not gain anything by telling lies.
– Does the honorable senator know that since the war nearly 20,000,000 people have perished in Russia from terrorism,- murder, and starvation?
– The honorable senator should recognize, that, the majority of the deaths in Russia were due to starva tion. Was not money raised in Australia for the relief of the starving Russian people ?
– That starvation was caused by misrule. Before the bolsheviks obtained power, Russia was one of the biggest exporters of wheat in the world. Now she cannot produce sufficient to feed her own people, and is compelled to import a large quantity.
– The honorable senator should recognize that starvation and destitution were caused in Russia by the failure of the crops. During the war crops were not sown. It will be necessary for Russia to import wheat until she places herself in the position that she occupied prior to the war.
– The bolsheviks steal al] the wheat that the peasants grow ; therefore, fresh seed Ls not sown.
– Both Senator Guthrie and Senator Lynch made references to extremists - men who call themselves communists and by other nones Senator Lynch contended that they weve part and parcel of the Labour movement. That is wrong. I recognize that there are extremists in every movement. They are to be found even amongst honorable senators opposite. There is also to be found in every movement a traitor, a Judas. There is the extreme conservative on the one hand and the extreme communist on the other. Both are a menace to progress. The extreme conservative says that the Labour movement is bolshevistic, socialistic, communistic, and everything that is bad. Those who make statements of that character- know as well as I do that no party can act in advance of the knowledge of the people, without soon losing caste and becoming a wreck of its former self. Conservative extremists should recognize that. The extremists of whom Senator Lynch complains say more bitter things concerning our party than do the most conservative of our opponents.
– They vote for the Labour party every time.
– In South Australia, at least, the communists have told the people not to vote at all, as political power is of no value.
– What did Mr. Garden do’?
– He opposed- the Labour party in New South Wales.
– Is he not a valued member of the Labour party ?
– No; the honorable senator is in error.
– What about Donald Grant?
– I hold no brief for Donald Grant or any extremist. The people whom Senator Lynch says are working in harmony with this party are fighting us most bitterly. They tell the people that our methods are obsolete, and that we shall never reach our goal by constitutional methods. We endeavour to win our way by constitutional means, because anything won otherwise, while it may mean a step forward to-day, means a dozen steps back to-morrow. Things won by unconstitutional methods cannot remain, because the will of the people is not behind them. Those people to whom Senator Lynch referred as working in harmony with this party are bitterly opposed to us.
– But the Labour party gets all their votes.
– It does not. These people are opposed to arbitration, whereas arbitration is still a plank of the Labour party’s platform; and while it remains so we must support it.
– What are Tom Walsh and Johannsen doing to-day ?
– They have nothing to do with the Labour movement. They have repudiated arbitration, whereas we stand for it.
– The honorable senator’s party has not repudiated Tom Walsh or the seamen’s strike.
– We shall repudiate him when the time comes.
– Why does the Government not administer its own act? It has the power to do so.
– It has been said that the Labour party is opposed to immigration. We are not opposed to immigration, provided that it is carried out on right lines. There are, it is said, 60,000 unemployed in Australia to-day, 25.000 of whom are in New South Wales and 1.6,000 in Victoria. If there is such a vast army of unemployed in our midst, we contend that it- is not right to bring in foreigners to swell their ranks or take the place of Australians.
– Does the honorable senator know that Mr. Garden is the secretary of the Trades and Labour Council in Sydney ?
– That body is independent of the Labour party.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.
– While the Labour party is not opposed to immigration, it is opposed to the indiscriminate importation of southern Europeans.
– The party is endeavouring to stop people from Britain from coming here.
– Recently the Premier of South Australia (Mr. Gunn) stated, if I remember rightly, that 7,000 southern Europeans had entered South Australia within three months. I am speaking only from memory, however, and am not sure of these figures.
– Mr. Gunn was wrong if he made that statement, as that number of Italians has not entered the whole Commonwealth within that period.
– I have riot the figures with me, but probably Mr. Gunn said 700. I know that he said that many of them were on the verge of starvation. The fact that they were unemployed showed either that work was not provided for them on arrival, or that they did not remain in employment long. We are sorry for the people who have been deluded into coming here under such conditions. Mr. Bruce opened the way for more of these migrants to enter Australia. He said that the Commonwealth was not in favour with other nations because of its White Australia policy, and that if we stood out against the entry of southern Europeans our position in that respect would become worse. Why is the Government of Australia afraid of offending the Italian or the Maltese Government? Years ago Australia adopted the policy of a White Australia, and ever since has stood by that policy. In a recent speech, Senator Guthrie said, when speaking of the southern Europeans who were entering Australia, that we must act diplomatically in this matter, and not offend other nations. He .referred to the Italians as our allies during the war. Has not Japan also been for many years an ally of Great Britain? Yet, in face of that, we have said to Japan that our policy is for a White Australia, and that we will stand by it whatever happens. We recognize that Australia needs a greater population, but if we are to have immigrants from other countries, let them be British immigrants, or, f aiding them, people from Scandanavia, as they are a better class generally than those from’ southern Europe.
– The honorable senator’s party will not even allow Britishers to come in.-
– That is not correct. We only ask that they should not come in to swell the ranks of the unemployed. Mr. Theodore said that the Labour party was not opposed to immigration if work was available for the migrants when they arrived. He stated, further, that Queensland could settle 2,000 fanners on the land each year for twenty years, and that there was no objection to Britishers.
– Then why did he not accept the agreement and permit them to be brought here ?
– Western Australia has done a great deal towards settling immigrants on the land, and the present government in that state is prepared to continue the policy of its predecessors. So far as South Australia is concerned, I do not think that any great number of immigrants can be placed on the land unless some of the big estates are subdivided for closer settlement. Recently, when speaking of immigration, Mr. Lloyd George quoted statistics to show that, in 1844, England was able to produce food for 21,000,000 people, but that, notwithstanding the advance which science had made since then, she was unable to produce food for more than 15,000,000 to-day. That is due to cultivable land not being cultivated. Thousands of acres which, prior to the war, were under cultivation, are now producing nothing. As a consequence, England’s wheat production, instead of increasing, has decreased. It would appear that England herself needs to practise what she is endeavouring to teach the dominions, namely, that there should be greater cultivation and that land should be opened up for the people. Mr. Sidney Webb was apparently correct when speaking in the House of Commons, he said that the Dominions required the services of men with a knowledge of agriculture, and that there was practically no unemployed experienced agriculturists in Great Britain. If that is so, there are no persons in England out of employment who could migrate to Australia and settle on the land with satisfactory results. Colonel McDonald, also speaking in the House of Commons, said that he believed it would be cheaper in the end for Great Britain to shoulder the whole of the financial responsibility of. immigration than to pay unemployment doles. In making that statement he disclosed the actual position, and showed that the authorities in Great Britain are merely anxious to move their unemployed to the Dominions and thus avoid the heavy expense which they are incurring in paying doles. Mr. Webb stated that it would cost £1,000 per family to place settlers on the land overseas, and suggested that it would be better to spend the money for the same purpose in England, and thus dispense with a huge unemployed army and retain the people on English soil. The advocates of an extensive immigration policy say that a larger population is necessary in order to obtain national security. No one disputes the fact that additional population is required if that objective is to be achieved, but the same argument would apply in the case of Great Britain, only with more force, because England is more likely than Australia to be near the seat of any future conflict. I believe it was Senator Thompson who stated last session that the increase of population’ in Australia led to a reduction in unemployment.
– I did not make that statement.
– In New Zealand, prior to the Seddon regime, soup kitchens were established in all parts of the country at which large numbers of unemployed were fed, but after the Seddon Government was returned to power poverty gradually disappeared, the people became prosperous, and the deposits in the savings bank increased by hundreds of thousands of pounds.
– Is not the honorable senator aware that New Zealand is bringing out migrants free of charge.
– That may be so. When Mr. Seddon passed away a Government led by Mr. Massey came into power.
– Was it not the Ward Government.
– I am referring to the Massey Government. During the war period a man named Urquhart, whin speaking in the street, took as his subject, “ On earth peace, goodwill towards men.” The Massey Government instructed those in authority to prosecute this man, and he was sentenced to imprisonment for twelve months, without the option of a fine, for. saying something that was regarded as prejudicial to recruiting. During the war, New Zealand was not called God’s own country, but a hell on earth. If as we have been told by an honorable senator opposite the conditions of the worker are better where the population is large, one would imagine that in England, where the population is much in excess of that of Australia, the workmen would be. better treated, housed, and fed, than they are here; but such is not the case.
– America has a population of 120,000,000.
– If that is so, the conditions of the people there, according to this theory, should be infinitely better than they are in England. One writer has stated that statistics show that there is always a standing army of 12,000,000 unemployed or unemployable people in the United States of America.
– Why are the wages so high ?
– I am speaking not of the wages, but of the conditions in the countries which have a large population. If there is anything at all in the argument that conditions are better in countries where the population is large, one would expect to find in countries such as India and China, where the population is numbered by hundreds of millions, unparalleled prosperity; but in India the conditions of the natives, particularly, are perhaps worse than any other part of the world.
Senator Lynch said that the Labour party had scrapped its defence policy. Our policy is to build up our defences on the basis of economic preparedness, to build up an air force, to establish aerial stations all over Australia, and to construct submarines to operate in conjunction with an air force. The policy of the Labour party is supported by many eminent naval authorities. I quote the following: - ‘
Admiral Kerr, of the British Navy, spoke of- . . the Australian line of defence obviously comprised of aeroplanes, submarines, and torpedo boats, against which no hostile fleet dare approach within 200 miles.
Bear-Admiral Hall said -
We had a grand fleet with a preponderance of nearly two to one over Germany alone. We had the assistance of the American, French, Italian, and Japanese navies, and yet our main naval purpose - the protection of our trade - could not be carried out.
Rear-Admiral Fullam, of the Navy of the United States of America -
Submarines, air forces, mines, and torpedoes are sufficient to defend a coast. Lord Sydenham -
Submarines, mine-fields, and the air have conferred new powers of home defence.
Admiral von Scheer, of the German navy -
The airplane and submarine furnish greater advantages to the defender than to the attacker. They make attack so difficult that the surface war vessel must now be denied official offensive power.
Lord Wester Wemyss, First Lord of the British Admiralty -
Had any enemy submarines been present at Gallipoli in April, 1915, the landing of the troops in the Peninsula would have been impossible.
Mr. Pembroke Billing, a former squadron commander ;
A battleship is as much use to Australia as a sick headache. I cannot emphasize too strongly that if Australia was prepared to devote the money she intends spending on cruisers to the development of a powerful naval air force, nobody in this country need ever fear an invasion.
Commodore Hyde, Acting First Naval Member of the Naval Board -
We have no stock of munitions, no means of manufacturing munitions, no oil or petrol for submarines or aircraft.
Lieutenant-Commander Rawson states that -
It needs little technical knowledge to see that Australia must concentrate on submarines, minelayers, fast torpedo boats, and aircraft. Sixteen submarines can be built for the price of one’ battleship. No expensive dry docks- are required. Flotilla warfare is a form of defence particularly suitable to our needs and our resources.
Australia cannot be retained as a white man’s country merely by moral effort, and something more than mere sentiment is required. It is incorrect to say that the Labour movement is opposed to the construction of cruisers or above-water craft. The Minister for Defence stated that an enormous expenditure would be required for the adequate defence of Australia. The sum mentioned by the Minister was quite beyond the resources of Australia, but the policy of the Labour party is to ensure adequate defence by submarines and aircraft. That is the policy we stand by. There is considerable unemployment in Australia owing to the heavy importation of goods which should be manufactured in this country. Senator Graham who touched upon this subject is apparently in favour of a prohibitive tariff. That would not furnish the remedy. There must be reciprocity in trade relationships. We must export our surplus primary products, and, therefore, we must import goods. Senator Grant, in his references to finance, has informed the Senate on more than one occasion that whenever we borrow money in England all we get is a wireless message to :hat effect. That is not so. If we borrow £20,000,000 abroad, we must import £20,000,000 worth of goods. There is no other way. This means, of course, that the Australian manufacturing industry must suffer to that extent, and unemployment in Australia results. It is a truism that, the more we borrow abroad the more we must import.
– Then Senator Grant’s economic doctrine is altogether wrong?
– Absolutely. If the Customs Department levies a duty of 10s. upon an imported article, the manufacturer of a similar article in Australia will naturally sell to the Australian consumer at a price up to the very limit allowed by the Customs duty instead of being satisfied with a reasonable profit. All this works against the development of the Australian secondary industries. And then there are certain Australians who are iahamed of Australian productions. These, too, retard development. The other day I went into a shop in Hindleystreet, Adelaide, and asked for some Australianmade underwear. The attendant at first informed me that they did not stock it, but he said they had something a trifle better. When I expressed determination not to take the imported product that was a trifle better, but wanted the Australian article, he pulled down bundles of underwear stamped “Made in Australia.” I purchased what I required, and then went to Lever’s hat stores in Rundle-street. Lever manufactures his own huts. I asked for a hat made in Australia, and was told that I could
Yet something better, namely, a hat made in South Australia. I bought a hat, but could find no indication anywhere that it was an Australian-made article. I asked why it was not stamped “Made in Australia,” and the attendant, while assuring me that he was positive it was one of Lever’s hats, said he did not know why it was not stamped as such. The prejudice against the Australian-made article is seriously affecting our manufacturing industries, and is responsible for much of the unemployment in this country. Manufacturers should be compelled by law to stamp their goods “Made in Australia.” According to the latest statistics our secondary industries employ 412,410 people, who receive in wages about £78,000,000 a year. If Australians insisted upon buying the Australianmade article instead of decrying it, we should have a much greater number employed in Australian secondary industries, and the development of this country would proceed rapidly. The wool industry has fallen upon evil times lately, largely because of this prejudice against Australian-made goods. There was a striking instance of this in NewSouth Wales recently. An inspector appointed by the State Government to investigate the condition of the industry, visited a number of warehouses, and again was faced with the same unwillingness to push the sale of Australian-made goods. At one Warehouse he asked if they had any Australian-made serges, and they taid, “No.” When he opened one parcel, however, he found that it bore the stamp of the Australian Woollen Mills. People who deliberately defame the Australian secondary industries should be punished. If ever we are to become a great nation we must give every encouragement to our secondary as well as our primary industries, and co-operate earnestly for the good of the Commonwealth.
Debate (on motion by Senator Duncan) adjourned.
Bill received from House of Representatives.
Standing and sessional orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a first time.
Senator DUNCAN (New South Wales) f] 0.14] . - All that I have to say upon this bill will take but a few minutes. I want to make my position quite clear upon one or two very important matters that are dealt with in the bill, and will leave until a later stage other subjects which I wish to discuss. I listened with very great interest to Senator Hoare, and I want to say at once that T admire his evident sincerity and the outspoken way in which he dared to criticize the utterances of honorable senators on his own side. He did not hesitate to take to task very strongly the honorable senator who, by the strangest twist of fortune that ever befel an honorable senator, finds himself in the exalted position of Deputy Leader of the. Labour party in the Senate. Ho told him quite plainly that he differed very materially from him. He also assailed Senator Graham, and made it quite clear that he had been saying things which were not in accordance with the general principles of the Labour movement. He also ventured in no measured terms to differ from the views expressed by two or three other honorable senators of his party. It makes me feel that Senator Hoare will not be tied up by the restrictions that bind other honorable senators of his party, and that he has the courage to express his own convictions. I do not think anything will happen to him. I feel sure that those honorable senators from whom he differs will find that hia outspokenness has increased their respect for him.
I rose principally to express my opinion in a few words upon the important question raised by Senator Needham at the outset of this debate, namely, the construction of cruisers in Great Britain. I have never hesitated, since the matter was first discussed in the Senate, to say that if possible the two cruisers should be built in Australia, and that if that were not possible, at least one of them should be built here. I still maintain that attitude. It was made quite clear to me that because of the condition into which certain of the cruisers in commission on our coast had fallen, it was absolutely essential that we should secure at least one new cruiser as speedily as possible. That being the case when the matter was previously before the Senate, I gave my assent to the construction of one vessel in Great Britain. It was made quite clear that it was possible to get one cruiser very quickly, and that it was urgently needed to replace another cruiser that was out of condition. In regard to the second vessel, I understood from the Government that we should have another opportunity in this chamber to express an opinion on the question. However, I accept the assurance given by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Pearce) that the Government did not intend the Senate to have that further opportunity which I thought we would have, to give specific attention to the matter of building the second cruiser. I regret it very much, because I believe that had we had the opportunity to do so it would have been possible to bring forward facts which would have caused the Government to hesitate a little longer before agreeing to give the contract for the second cruiser to an overseas firm, even though it might be a British firm. A great deal can be said from the standpoint of the Government to justify the step taken. Regarded only from a business stand-point it did the right thing in placing the contract for the construction of the two cruisers with a British firm ; but in national affairs sentiment must come before business. I believe that Australian sentiment was overwhelmingly in favour of the construction of the second cruiser in Australia, and that, even if it had involved an additional expenditure of £800,000, the Government would have been wise in building it here if only for the sake of extending Australian sentiment as we know it.
– The thing is done, and I am faced with the alternative of saying that the Government is no longer worthy of the confidence of those of us who believe that the contract for the second cruiser should have been given to Australia, and that our support should be transferred to another party which has made it quite clear, by Senator Needham’s own admission, that it does not believe in the construction of cruisers at all.
– Never mind about ice ; what is the honorable senator’s attitude ?
– My attitude is that the present Government can satisfactorily meet the opinions of honorable senators supporting it more easily than it will be possible for the honorable senator who interjects to satisfactorily meet th03e of his. supporters. The difference between honorable senators on this side and honorable senators opposite is that we are free to express our opinions openly and frankly. If we differ from the Government, we are free to say that in this or that matter the Government is wrong Having done so, we continue bo support the Government, which we believe is the best we can have, in the circumstances. One mistake on its part does not justify us in refusing any longer to support a Ministry that has done so much for the defence of Australia, and replace it by one which will do nothing, adequate to defend Australia. Honorable senators opposite did their utmost to block these cruisers being constructed, but when it was determined, despite their efforts, that they should be built, they said, “ All right, but construct them in Australia.” Their attitude is not honest. They are either in favour of the adequate naval defence of Australia or they are not. On their own admission, they are not, and they have no right to criticize the Government or its supporters for doing what they deem best to provide that adequate naval defence.
I wish to say just a few words about immigration. I do not believe in indiscriminate immigration. I believe that we should tighten up our immigration laws to keep out the people we do not want, and that our Immigration Restriction Act is inadequate to meet the situation now existing. But I also believe that the Government can be trusted to bring forward the necessary amendments to that legislation to enable us to preserve our purity of race, and those opportunities which our people enjoy to develop adequately, not only their own personal characteristics, but also the future of this great country of ours. That being so, honorable members on this side of the chamber cannot take very much notice cf much that has been said by honorable senators opposite during this debate. Th.ay object, not only to the immigration of Italians and others to Australia, whom they have specially mentioned, but also to all immigrants. They say that no man shall come here as an immigrant, assisted or otherwise, unless the moment he steps off the boat it is possible for him to go to a job, or in some other way provide for himself and those who are dependent on him. That is a very worthy ideal, but although they say it is essential for any government to provide adequate employment for those who come to Australia, there would be a howl, of rage from the Labour party if this or any other government attempted to make provision for the employment of those who caine here from overseas whilst there were already in Australia persons walking about seeking, or allegedly seeking, for work. Honorable senators opposite object to the immigration of Italians, yet they belong to a party which has as one of its members sitting in another Chamber the son of an Italian. They object to the iaimigration of southern Europeans, and in the next breath talk proudly of Mr. Theodore, who is the son of a southern European. They object to immigrants generally, yet they- give to immigrants from Heaven knows where some of the most important positions in the gift of the Labour movement in Australia. When we remember such things as these, we recognize that honorable senators opposite are talking with their tongues in their cheeks. It is not to them we must look for the preservation of the racial purity of this country, or for the preservation of our ideals, or for the upholding of our industrial rights and conditions. We must look to the party supporting the Government, which is all the time fully cognizant of the real facts of the position and determined to maintain all those things which are worth preserving in the national life of Australia.
– On the first reading of the Supply Bill one has, if so disposed, an opportunity to cover a wide area. However, at this hour, and in view of the fact that the Government desires to pass the bill as speedily as possible, it is not my intention to make a lengthy speech. I shall content myself by briefly replying to some of the statements made by honorable senators on the other side of the chamber. We have had a characteristic speech from Senator Lynch. He indulged in a good deal of shadow-sparring. He said - and probably he spoke the truth - that in bygone years he made sacrifices to build up the Labour movement in Australia. He is not the only man who has done so. Now, apparently, because he is not associated with that movement, he is prepared to make sacrifices in an endeavour to damage it. Any effort he might make iw that direction would be as futile as would be the effort of one who attempted to stop the incoming tide with a broom. The honorable senator also endeavoured to link up with the Labour party in Australia what he called the remnants from foreign countries. He mentioned the name of a gentleman who is well able to look after himself, and who will probably defend himself against the honorable senator’s charges when he has had an opportunity to peruse the columns . of Hansard. I inform Senator Lynch that those to whom he referred are not associated in a political sense with the Labour party in Australia, and have nothing in common with it. No one should know that better than the honorable senator himself if he reads the newspapers that are published in the various states. Recently an election ‘was held in New South Wales. Some of the gentlemen mentioned by the honorable senator stood for election, not as Labour candidates, but in opposition to Labour, and in every case the deposit had to be forfeited. The total number of votes polled by those three candidates was, I think, about 810. When the people of New South Wales had the opportunity to express their opinion regarding the party which the honorable senator said is different from what it was when he belonged to it, the intelligent democracy of that state returned a majority of its members to the Parliament, and to-day there is a Labour Government in power there. There is no difference between the -party now and when Senator Lynch was associated with it. There is, it is true, a difference in its opinion regarding the means by. which Australia should be defended. The whirligig of time brings many changes in every sphere of human activity. In matters of defence events are taking on a different aspect every day, and those means of defence that yesterday, figuratively speaking, were considered up to date, are to-day out of date. To say that the Labour party is not keenly anxious to defend Australia and its people is incorrect. Our policy of defence is distinct from that which is favoured by the Government. Senator Drake-Brockman, who is considered to be an authority on matters of defence, has made the damaging statement that the millions of pounds that have been expended by the Government upon defence would not safeguard Australia or the lives and liberties of its people for more than 48 hours. If -the Labour party had not a better programme than that, it would deserve the treatment that I hope will be meted out to this Government at the next general election. Senator Lynch insidiously endeavoured to link up with the Labour party what .he considered to be a dangerous element. He would make the readers of Hansard believe that those men had played a part in formulating a policy for the political Labour party in Australia. They have not played such a part, because in the . main they do not believe in political action. They are opposed to political action because they believe that better results can be obtained by direct action. The Labour party has always favoured constitutional action. It has progressed because it has been a constitutional party. When, a few years ago, it was ..confronted with difficulties in its effort to bring about greater reform, it appealed to the people to grant to the Commonwealth Parliament the additional powers that were thought to be necessary. The electors, however, rejected those proposals. If the opportunity again presents itself - and it probably will - another attempt, will be made to secure for this Parliament the constitutional powers that are enjoyed by almost every State Parliament in Australia.
Senator Guthrie recently made an extraordinary statement that should not ‘be allowed to go unchallenged in this chamber. In his eulogy of the Government he said that never in the history of -the Commonwealth were the finances in a more . satisfactory state, and never were the masses in a more prosperous condition. That, he contended, was due to the present Government. Such an opinion surely could not have been seriously considered before it was. uttered. Every observant man knows that at the present time a cloud of depression overhangs Australia. It is my belief that the longer the present Government is in power the darker and heavier will that cloud become. There is to-day financial stringency. There is a slump in our staple products. Many of the men on the land are in a precarious condition. Industries are struggling. For the moment, at any rate, the bottom has ‘fallen out of the building trade, and there are more houses to let in Melbourne and suburbs than there have been for many years. There is a bigger army of unemployed than there has been for a very long time. When Senator Guthrie said that we had never been in a more satisfactory financial position he surely overlooked the fact that, in playing its part in the world Avar, Australia became saddled with a debt of about £350,000,000 that it did not have anterior to the Avar, and that it is necessary to provide for the payment of £19,000,000 annually as interest on that sum, in addition to £2,000,000 to a sinking fund. The honorable senator must have a very short memory. What happened during last session and the session before it ? The Government passed through Parliament bills providing for the payment of bounties. For what reason ? The canned fruit bounty represented approximately £27,000, the wine export bounty £26,000, and the meat export bounty more than £120,000. Why were those amounts paid? Because it Avas known that the people who were engaged in those industries were unable to find markets for their commodities. I said then, and I say again now, that until the credit of Europe is restored, until the sun of prosperity again shines in Europe, Australia will always be confronted Avith financial difficulties. Our prosperity is but a reflection of Europe’s prosperity. It is true that Ave produce in abundance commodities for which the world is hungering, but which it cannot purchase because of the destruction of its credit.
Senator Guthrie also stated that Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, ex-Prime Minister of Great Britain, and the members of the British Labour party associated Avith him, had condemned the White Australia policy. Inferentially, the Leader of the Senate said to-day that he had read the statement that Mr. Ramsay MacDonald had made in opposition to the .White Australia policy. I ask the Leader of the Senate to quote his proof of that statement. Pains have been taken to peruse the Hansard of the House of Commons, and other official documents that are in our library, and no speech of the ex-Prime Minister of Great Britain can be quoted in which such a statement was made. In justice to himself and his Government, the Leader of the Senate should furnish the proof.
– I did not say that I had read the statement. The reply that I gave to-day was on behalf of the Prime Minister,- to whom the question was directed. The Prime Minister has been challenged in another place in regard to that statement, and has dealt with it.
– Apparently, the Prime Minister is unable to bring forward any proof in confirmation of his statement. Senator Guthrie said that the Ramsay MacDonald Government Avas, to use his own expression, “kicked out,” because it was opposed to the White Australia policy, find for other reasons. That which more than anything else helped to defeat the Ramsay MacDonald Government was not a question of policy, but a letter, or a supposed letter. The British Trades Union delegates who went to Russia specially to investigate the matter found that tho letter Avas not written by one Zinovieff. After making exhaustive inquiries into the matter, they found that the letter that turned the tide of political affairs in England Avas a fake.
– Why did Mr. Ramsay MacDonald make a studied reply to the Russian Government about it?
– I do not know I desire also to reply to Senator Duncan’s statement that the Labour party is opposed to any form of immigration. That :s not sO; but the Labour party is opposed to the policy of the present Government in sending work out of Australia, ?.nd at the same time bringing workers here to add to the already huge army of unemployed. There are in the different states of the Commonwealth skilled tradesmen of every description out of work. Many of them have been our of work for some time. 4.
– We have worked our eight hours to-day. What about knocking off?
– In connexion with such an important matter a3 unemployment we should be prepared to work overtime. No question is of more importance. Those Who have been unemployed, and know the suffering consequent thereon, can have nothing but the greatest sympathy for the men who are out of work. Unemployment shatters many a home, and it casts a shadow over many that it does not shatter. We must not forget that the employed man to-day may be the unemployed man of tomorrow. Many men in Government departments, both Federal and state, who anticipated having constant work through the winter have been thrown out of employment. This party holds that when, ns at present, there is a large army of unemployed, it is unfair and inhuman to ask men and women from other countries to come here. If the Government had a policy for Australians as good as lhat which it adopts in regard to Maltese, I should have no fault to find with it. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) said that the Government would not admit Maltese unless a guarantee was given that employment would be available for them on arrival. Why are these people singled out for special treatment? The Government has not been prepared to assist the Australian workmen to the same extent. Some time ago there was a building boom in most of the states of the Commonwealth, but now, owing to financial stringency, there is a lull in house-building At the time I said that it would not last; that things would eventually find their own level, and that, instead of a shortage of men there would be plenty of labour offering for any work available. The Government, in cooperation with the Governments of certain states, agreed to import carpenters, bricklayers, and other artisans connected with the building trade. I said then that there was no justification for such action. What has been the result? Recently, in response to an advertisement in one of our newspapers for two carpenters, 200 men presented themselves at the Melbourne Town Hall in the hope of finding employment. A friend of mine who is engaged in the building trade told me that on one day recently 60 men applied to him for employment.
– Why do they not go on the land ?
– If Senator Lynch had been here a few moments ago he would have heard my statement that the men on the land were having a difficult time. The honorable senator probably received recently a circular from persons engaged in the dried fruit industry pointing out that, although they had received financial assistance, some of (hem had had to abandon their holdings, while others would have to take similar action unless further assistance were granted. It is easy to talk of settling men on the land. .Victoria resumed land at a cost of £20,000,000 for the settlement of soldiers. Those men, being Australians, understood Australian conditions, and if any section of the , community was qualified to make a success of that undertaking they were. But what has been the net result of that effort to place them on the land t Those soldiers are nearly £3,000,000 in arrear with their payments. Altogether 10,565 soldiers were placed on the land; but no less than 1,285, or over 12 per cent, of them, have given up their blocks. Prior to the advent of the present Labour government in Western Australia an arrangement was entered into with the Imperial authorities in regard to immigration. Family groups of immigrants were arranged for. Since the advent of the Labour government the Agent-General has been advised that the policy has not been a success, as many of those who had been placed on the land under the group system had abandoned their holdings. The Minister pointed out in a public statement that the state would have been better off to the extent of £4,000,000 if the scheme had not been adopted. I agree with a recent editorial in the Age in regard to immigration -
When we can show that there is a real demand here for workers we shall soon get them. Thus far the immigration schemes have been hot air, followed by a speedy and unnatural change to a nipping frost.
That sums up the position in a nutshell. The Government’s scheme has been a frost. If the Government introduced a proper system of land settlement, and endeavoured to find work at reasonable wages, and under proper conditions, for those out of employment, the country would develop, and there would be no need to spend millions of money to induce people to come here. The Government has shown no sympathy with the unemployed and the workers generally, and is continuing its policy of negation. It will not make an effort to undertake works already authorized by Parliament, many of which are urgently needed. Work could be found in many directions, even in this building, which some say we will vacate before very long. There is also a reserve adjoining this structure which has been an eyesore for some time, and which, by the employment of a little labour, could’ be made an attractive spot. If the Government exercised as much time m protecting the interests of Australians- as it does in safeguarding those of people outside Australia, its actions would to some extent be justified.
– With a Labour Government in power, we would not have a hungry army of good men.
– A Labour Government displays a sympathetic feeling towards those who desire assistance, and does all that is humanly possible to alleviate distress. This Government has not made an honest effort to relieve the distress which, exists in Australia at present.
– Although I do not desire to delay the Senate at this hour, one or two matters raised during the debate call for a reply. There is, for instance, a statement made by Senator Findley, in a most doleful speech, concerning immigration in Western Australia, which is absolutely incorrect. The honorable senator said that Mr. Angwin, the present Acting Premier of Western Australia, has condemned the group settlement system. Mr. Angwin has not done anything of the kind, and there is no more fervent supporter and admirer of the group settlement system in Western Australia than Mr. Angwin. When the late Government was in office, and Sir James Mitchell ‘was carrying out this policy, if there was one member in the Parliament who, although in opposition, gave him support, it was Mr. Angwin. Mr. Angwin did temporarily cancel an order going forward for more families to be brought out, because he found that the rate at which blocks were being made available was not sufficiently rapid to enable these people to be absorbed. It was, however, only a temporary stoppage, and he announced his intention of resuming the group settlement as soon as blocks were available.
– Mr. Collier also made a similar statement.
– Yes; and, in justice to Mr. Angwin, Senator Find-ley’s statements should be contradicted.
An- attempt has been made . by certain honorable senators t© make it appear that Australia is being flooded by alien, immigrants, but a return which has been supplied to me shows that such is not the case. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) endeavoured to show that Asiatic immigration was increasing. The honorable senator quoted the arrivals, but did not mention the departures, and if one quotes only the arrivals the impression is created that there has been, an increase. The arrivals of Chinese for the quarter ended 31st December, 1924, were 768, and the departures for the same quarter 720. For the quarter ended 31st March, 1.92.5, the arrivals were 650, and the departures during the same quarter 846, so that nearly 200 more left Australia than entered it. The arrivals of Japanese for the quarter ended 31st December, 1924, were 93, and for. the quarter ended 31st March, 1925, 239. Th© departures during the same periods were 69 and 202 respectively. Taking the net Asiatic immigration returns for (he quarter ended 31st December, 1924, the arrivals of coloured people of various nationalities numbered 1,337, and the departures for the same quarter 1,365. For the quarter- ended 31st March, 1925, the arrivals were 1,650 and the departures 1,369. The honorable senator might also have mentioned that for the last quarterly period for which we have the figures the number of Greeks whoarrived: was 305 and the departures 143. The number of Jugo-Slav arrivals during the same period was 103 and the departures 253, while there were 193 Maltese arrivals and 87 departures. There is no cause for alarm in these figures.
– Is the Minister quoting from the return supplied- to- me ?
– I am quoting from a footnote to the return supplied to the honorable senator.
– Am I to assume that the Maltese who came here are returning like scalded cats to their own country, because of the party in power?
– I have given the figures, arid the honorable senator may draw from them whatever inference he. pleases. I propose also to quote some figures which are an answer to the argument as to the association of unemployment with increased immigration, and are especially interesting in the light of the figures quoted by Senator Needham. Ithas been said that when a large number of immigrants is allowed to come into the country, unemployment is increased. But facts speak louder than words. For the information of the Senate I submit the following table : -
In 1923 immigration was about equal to the previous year, and the number of unemployed continued to fall. In 1924 the excess of arrivals over departures was 43,749, or about three times the excess in 1921; and the percentage of unemployment during the first quarter was only 7.6, as compared with 11.4 in the first quarter of 1921. In the second quarter it was 8.3, as compared with 12.7 ; in the third quarter it was 9.5, as against 11.4; and in the fourth quarter 10.3, as against 9.9: If there is any moral to be drawn from these figures it is that the greater the increase in immigration, the smaller is the number of unemployed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Delegates to the Assembly of the League op Nations.
.- I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I wish to take this opportunity of informing the Senate that the Government has invited the following gentlemen to represent the Commonwealth at the Assembly of the League of Nations to be held at Geneva in September next: - Senator Drake-Brockman, the High Commissioner for Australia (Sir Joseph Cook), and the Hon. George Swinburne. A lady delegate has yet to be appointed. I feel I shall be voicing the opinion of honorable senators in extending to Senator Drake-Brockman our congratulations upon his selection for this very important duty, because we know that the forthcoming meeting of the
Assembly will be of the utmost importance not only to Australia, but to the civilized world. We feel sure that Senator DrakeBrockman is well qualified to represent the Commonwealth, and. will carry out his duties there with credit to himself and to Australia.
HonorableSenators. - Hear, hear!
– I also wish to state that, during the absence of Senator Drake-Brockman, Senator Duncan will act as Government Whip.
– I should like to know if it is the intention of the Government to appoint a Labour delegate to the forthcoming Assembly of the League of Nations.
– Not on this occasion.
– A Labour representative was sent on the last occasion. I feel sure that the honorable senator mentioned will carry out his duties with satisfaction.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.14 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 June 1925, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1925/19250625_senate_9_110/>.