9th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Basic Wage in South Australia.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That the preamble, agreement, and schedules embodying the tariff agreement with Canada, as follows, be adopted: -
That whereas in pursuance of the provisions of paragraph (a) of sub-section (31 of section 9 of the Customs Tariff 1921- 1924, the Minister of State for Trade and Customs has referred to the Tariff Board the question whether, having regard to the reciprocal benefits which have been or will be granted to Australia by the Dominion of Canada, it is desirable, in the interests of the Commonwealth, that the British Preferential Tariff in the Customs Tariff 1021-1924 or the Intermediate Tariff in the Customs Tariff 1921-1924 (hereinafter respectively referred to as “ the British preferential tariff “ and “ the intermediate tariff”) should apply to the Dominion of Canada, and, if so, the extent to which it should so apply :
And whereas the Tariff Board has reported that it is desirable, in the interests of the Commonwealth, that the British preferential tariff and the intermediate tariff should apply to the Dominion of Canada to the extent specified in this resolution :
Now therefore this Senate agrees -
) That the application to the Dominion of Canada of the British preferential tariff and the intermediate tariff in the Customs Tariff 1021-1024, or in that tariff as subsequently amended, is, to the extent specified in this resolution, desirable in the interests of the Commonwealth ;
That the British preferential tariff and the intermediate tariff respectively shall apply to the Dominion of Canada to the extent that, in lieu of the duties of Customs imposed by the Customs Tariff1921-1924, or by that tariff as subsequently amended ongoods the produce or manufacture of the Dominion of Canada, imported direct from that Dominion, there shall be imposed, on and after a time and date to be proclaimed, duties of Customs, as hereinafter set out, on the undermentioned goods the produce or manufacture of the Dominion of Canada, imported direct from the said Dominion, namely: -
On goods described in the First Schedule to this resolution the rates of duty shall be the rates of duty for the time being applicable to goods to which the British preferential tariff in the Customs Tariff 1921-1924, or in that tariff as subsequently amended applies; and
) On the goods described in the
Second Schedule to this resolution the rates of dutyshall be the rates of duty for the time being applicable to goods to which the intermediate tariff in the Customs Tariff 1921-1924, or in that tariff as subsequently amended applies:
I am very pleased that we are at last reaching finality in this matter.. Last year I had the privilege of visiting Canada on behalf of the Commonwealth, and after many interviews with members
Of the Dominion Government I did not feel at all satisfied that we were likely to come to any agreement which would bring about a reciprocal arrangement between the Commonwealth and Canada. However, wiser counsels prevailed, and I believe that now an agreement has been reached which will prove of advantage to both Canada and Australia.
– Does the Minister really believe that?
– I do, although I cannot say definitely what value it will be to either country, because it is beyond the ability of any honorable senator to say what may develop in the future.
– The- advantage lie* with Canada.
– When the previous resolution was adopted by the Senate on 2nd October last, many honorable senators felt that Canada was getting all its own way. On the other hand, when the Canadian Parliament was considering the agreement it was claimed that Australia was getting too much advantage under it.
– That was merely a joke.
– The honorable senator knows that I am stating a fact. There was a great deal of anxiety in the commercial world in both countries as to whether any finality would be reached. This agreement, by itself, will not build up trade between Australia and Canada. It will merely open the door to the commercial world, and enable it to play its part by taking advantage of the opportunity afforded to it.. Australia has been looking for a wider field for the disposal of its products. This agreement will not impoverish any Australian producer ‘or manufacturer.. On the contrary, it will give Australians a wider scope for trade.
– It will not provide any Australian manufacturer with a wider opportunity foi” trade.
– At any rate, it “ will not prejudice the position of any Australian manufacturer.
– No; but,, on the other hand, it will give him nothing.
– That is because Australia’s manufactories are not as fully developed as we would like them to be.
– The agreement is more inclined to prove detrimental to the manufacturing industries of Australia.
– I am afraid, the honorable senator has not read it properly.
– Does it provide for a reduction of the duty on imported gloves and. rubber goods?
– Yea ; by 5 per cent. The agreement adopted by, the Senate, on 2nd October last, has been, altered very slightly. The preference given in that agreement has been maintained, except in respect of two unimportant items, namely, beeswax and eucalyptus oil, while two items - fruit pulp and sugar - have benn added to the schedule. This additional’ preference should prove valuable to Australia.
– The preference on sugar is worth absolutely no-thing to Australia.
– The Customs Department assures me that 13,000 tons of mw sugar were exported from Australia to Canada shortly after the close of the last financial year. If that quantity could be forwarded to Canada without any preferential advantage, our exportation of sugar to the Dominion is likely to increase with the preference afforded by this agreement. The preference on fruit pulp will be 2£ cents per lb., equal to £11 13s. 4d. a ton. The preference on refined sugar will be 80 cents per 100 lb., equal to 74s. a ton, and that on raw sugar will be S3 cents per 100 lb.., equal to 77s. a lon. The Canadian Government has made a provisional agreement with the British West Indies, under which raw sugar will receive a preference of $1 per 100 lb., equal to’ 92s. a ton, and on ratification, of the agreement now under consideration hy the respective Legislatures that preference of 92s. a ton will be extended to Australia. With the exception of the unimportant items of beeswax and eucalyptus oil precisely the same amount of preference is afforded in this agreement as! was provided for in the original proposaladopted by the Senate on 2nd October last, while the addition of fruit pulp* and: sugar to the schedule makes it a more favorable agreement to Australia.
– That would not be difficult.
-I do not think the honorable senator has made himself thoroughly conversant with the whole of the agreement, or with the circumstances leading up to its acceptance. At the outset we found that Canada’s trade with Australia was in the vicinity of £5,000,000 a year, while that of Australia with Canada was about £300,000. The trade position was desperately against Australia, and it was not a very easy task to bring about a reciprocal arrangement. Australia had to approach Canada in the position of clients approaching a principal. If anything was to be given away in order to build up trade between the two countries it was the duty of Canada to meet Australia.
– Is the Minister in a position to give particulars of the goods specified under a and b ?
– I have details of all items, but it would be inconvenient to dissect them at this stage. Canada offers a very large market for many commodities which we produce in the Commonwealth, and in 1923-4 it imported goods covered by the agreement of the value of £14,000,000. The value of Australian exports of the same commodities to all other countries was £11,250,000. Canada annually imports 20,000 tons of raisins and currants, and if the Commonwealth receives only a reasonable portion of that trade under this agreement Australian producers will benefit to a considerable extent.
SenatorGreene. - What opportunities have the Australian producers against the Californian combine?
– According to the information at my disposal our opportunities are exceedingly good, particularly in the case of sultanas.
– Can the Minister state the quantity of raisins exported lo Canada at present ?
– The quantity is negligible.
– And that state of affairs is likely to continue.
– If the honorable senator is right I shall be very disappointed. The agreement, whichI believe will be of great benefit to Australian pro ducers; may be cancelled by either party on giving six months’ notice.
– I unsuccessfully endeavoured to cancel a similar agreement a little while ago.
– Is there any possibility of Canada declining to accept this agreement, as she did in connexion with another similar one ?
– No; if it is agreed to by Parliament it can be regarded as final, but.it can be terminated, as I have stated, by either party giving six months’ notice.
– Can we delete any particular item in the schedule?
– Why was the Canadian Parliament allowed to do so ?
– Because it had not then been adopted.
– This Parliament should have rights equal to those of the Canadian Parliament.
– I find that we have the right at this stage, but if it were exercised it would only lead to further delays. The agreement has been given the closest possible attention in regard to detail, and as it is considered that it will ‘be of advantage to both countries it is hoped that no attempt will be made to amend it in any way.
– Would any cancellation be applied in part or to the whole of the agreement?
– The agreement can only be cancelled wholly.
– That has been our experience with South Africa. We desired to alter one item, but found we could not.
– That is so. There are one or two reciprocal agreements now in operation between different portions of the Empire, which at all times have been observed by the contracting parties.
– We have not had a fair deal withSouth Africa.
– That does not justify us in saying that this agreement will not be in the interests of both dominions.
– We ought to he very careful.
– We have been in this instance.
– Are the duties applicable to these items subject to any variation of the tariff?
– Any items embodied in this agreement subject to the British preferential tariff would, in the event of an amended tariff, be altered pro rata. As honorable senators are aware, it is somewhat difficult for me to give off hand all the information in detail which may be desired, but if any further particulars are required on any specific item I shall be pleased to supply them. I do not wish this motion to be rushed through the Senate, but I trust honorable senators will give it prompt attention to enable a decision to be reached.
Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 27th August (vide page 1734) on motion by Senator Wilson -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This is a simple machinery measure to govern the conditions under which proof spirit is handled. Section 40 of the Distillation Act reads -
No entry authorizing the- removal of spirits shall be passed in respect of spirits of a lower strength than 25 per centum underproof, nor in respect of a smaller quantity than 10 gallons.
When the principal act was passed, all the states had not passed legislation bearing on this particular subject, and although food and drugs acts have now been passed by the state governments they are not uniform. I understand it is desired to bring our provisions as to the supervision and strength of spirits into line with the pure food laws of the states. That being so, I see no reason why the passage of the bill should be delayed.
– I always take advantage of opportunities such as this to place upon record my strongest possible condemnation of the actions of those who at present are controlling the beer and spirit trade in the Commonwealth. Their action in systematically and continuously reducing the strength ,of beer and spirits should engage the attention of all those who consume these beverages. The beer once brewed by most of the breweries was an excellent product.
– There is no reference in the bill to brewing. The honorable senator will be quite in order in referring to the distillation of spirit.
– This is a measure which has a bearing on the drink traffic.
– Only on one phase of it.
– The beer-producing section of the trade is a particularly important one.
– I do not doubt its importance, but I cannot admit its relevance to the question before the chair.
– The practice <f some people is to commence with shandies, and later to take to beer, whisky, and then rum. Having got to that stage, they commence de novo-
– Order! The honorable senator is not in order in discussing that matter. .
– Very well, Mr. President, I shall deal with spirits. This is really a matter of vital importance. Year after year those who are directly concerned in the drink trade persistently advocate, ostensibly in the public interest, but actually in their own, a reduction in the strength of spirits, so that they may make a greater profit out of the unsuspecting public. When a person spends money on spirits he is entitled to get the genuine article. The quality may be good enough, but, unfortunately, the strength has been materially reduced.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that spirits are too weak or too scarce ?
– Both too weak and too scarce. I object also to the enormous duty. I should like to see the bill extended to deal with this question. I suppose I am correct in saying that it costs only about 3s. to produce a gallon of ordinary Queensland rum, but. no doubt the producers add 100 per cent, for their profit, and when the excise duty is paid, 1 think the price is about 24s. a gallon. The purchaser does not get much for his money, but makes a substantial contribution to the Commonwealth revenue. The bill ought to be withdrawn and a comprehensive measure, dealing with the manufacture and sale of spirits, introduced. There would then be some chance of people who purchase spirits getting something like the real article.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a further instalment of legislation to widen the scope and influence of the Commonwealth Bank. Honorable senators will recall that last year the Government passed a bill to make the bank essentially a national institution and to convert it into a bank of issue, discount, reserve, and exchange. Criticism of that : measure by financial authorities, not only in Australia, but also in other countries, showed that the proposal was generally commended as an important step forward in the history of the bank. It is now proposed to further extend its usefulness to the community by establishing a rural credits department to assist the organized producers in the Commonwealth to control their produce until the time of its sale and distribution.. One of the greatest disabilities suffered by our producers hitherto has been the absence of this assistance. As a consequence, a large number of profit- takers have been permitted to interpose between the producer and the consumer and to levy toll upon both without conferring any material benefit on the community. The bill proposes to get over this difficulty. Under it consumers may, if they wish, build up a reservoir of the necessaries of life, and regulate their distribution at an even volume of pressure throughout the year, thus avoiding high prices on the one hand, and depression of values on the other. Another important feature of the bill is that the Government will not operate the machinery. It will be a matter entirely between the bank and its organized customers.. The time has arrived when the financing of our primary producers in respect of their wool, grain,. butter, cheese, fresh preserved or dried fruits, hops, cotton, sugar, and other products should be- placed on a definite basis. In this way wa may hope to avoid those frequent appeals to state and Commonwealth governments for assistance to tide producers over periods of stress. The important part which primary production plays in the economic life of the community is shown by figures which disclose that last year primary production amounted to nearly three-quarters of the total production of Australia, namely, £270,670,000, out of a total value of £382,208,000. In other words, primary products constituted 96 per cent. of the exports from Australia. The establishment of a rural credits department will make for the orderly marketing of Australian primary production, as is done in other countries which are Australia’s keenest competitors in the markets of the world. Failure to provide such assistance will seriously handicap our producers in. their competition with those countries. Last year Parliament passed certain measures introduced by the Government for the more orderly marketing of our primary products. I may be permitted’ to give the list. There was the Dairy Produce Export Control Act ; the Expert Guarantee Act, which provides for advances being made by the Commonwealth Bank up to 80 per cent. of the market value of butter and cheese under the control of the Dairy Produce Export Control Board; the Dried Fruits Export Control Act, and the Dried Fruits Advances Act. To ensure the permanent value of this legislation, and to extend its benefits to all primary industries, some changes are needed in our financial system to support the work which has been done. The need for the orderly regulation and marketing of our primary products should be frankly recognized, and every effort should be made to provide the necessary financial machinery. Existing banking facilities must be adjusted, if necessary, with that end in view. The Government does not propose to interfere with their legitimate work. On the other hand it will endeavour to give encouragement and bring about coordination, thus making it possible at all times for co-operative marketing associations to obtain funds adequate for their operation in the direction of orderly marketing; by providing: the necessary machinery to make financial assistance applicable to the essential requirements of agriculture. Under our existing lack of system, itisfrequently found that the productionof abumper croprenders its financing extremely difficult. Take ourexperience last year. There wasan exceedingly good wool clip and an expectation of big prices being realized; but that very fact tended to generate in thecommunity a condition offear and a lack of confidence, which was overcome eventually only by the prompt action of the directors of the Commonwealth Bank in making advances to the associated banks to enable them to finance the industry. Honorable senators will remember that numerous questions were asked in this chamber last year regarding the methods that were to be adopted to meet the situation that had arisen. They were prompted by the fear which existed outside that the ordinary financial institutions would not be able to provide meanswhereby advantage could be taken ofthe naturalblessings thathad been conferred upon the Commonwealth.
– If the brokers had not killed Bawra, that situation would not have arisen.
SenatorPEARCE.- Upon that question there is a difference of opinion. Every one must agree, however, that the importance of agriculture and other primary industries entitles them to financial facilitiesas great as those that are employed in connexion with any other industry orcalling. That primary production is not in such a positionat the present time is proved by the creation, from time to time, of pools for the marketing of different products, so that a certain degree of orderly and regular marketing will be brought about. Invariably, those poolshave found it necessary toapproach the Government for a guaranteebefore the financial institutions wouldundertake ihe responsibility of making available the necessary finance. By anorganized systemof production and finance, Denmark can supply her English customers throughoutthe year. Thatfact, in conjunction with a uniform standard of quality, makes it easierand cheaper for the merchant to handle Danish butter than butter from any other country. The result is seen in the difference between the price of Australian andDanish butter on theEnglish market. Last year, the Government acted on this definiteprinciple in itsexportcontrol legislation,whichplacedthecontrol of the exportable surplus inthe hands of the industry itself, ifit thought fit to organize. To enable this principletobe applied generallyto industry, it is necessary to make available machinery by which organized industry can automaticallysecure the necessary finance on a commercial basis. The Government believes that this can be done by an examination of the claims of the various industries on theirmerits, by an Imperial commercial institution thatwill not beguided by any political consideration. Ithas to be rememberedthat the general credit of the Commonwealth is behind the Commonwealth Bank, and will bebehind theoperations oftherural credits department, as it is behind that of every other department of theCommonwealthBank. Theoperation of this system is certain to stimulate thegrowth of co-operationamongst producers. The widely-spread benefitstothe community ofsuch co-operationhavealready been shown. The machinery provided in the bill, together with export control machinery similar to that provided last year in connexion with butter anddried fruits, will permit the producer to obtain all the advantages of a compulsory pool in relation to his exportable surplus, whilst at the sametime retaining complete control in his own hands. I shouldlike here to makea further reference toanindustry that I have already mentioned incidentally,and that I hopewill becomea great industry in Australia. It isthe cotton industry. That industryhasbeen thesubject of considerablecontroversy . It is being operated by a proprietary companyunder an agreement and in combinationwith the Stateauthorities. Wheneverdifferentinterests undertaketo dealwithone industry therearebound to bedivergencies of opinion. In this particular industry the State took certain action which it believed would be beneficial. The company which was concerned with the ginning of the cotton, and wnich assisted to financethe industry, took other action ; and an altogether different view was takenby the growers themselves. There was a great deal of controversyregarding tihe questionof ratoon cotton, the grading of cotton.,the amount of finance that was made available, and the way inwhichadvances. were forthcoming. Under this rural credit system, if the growers organize themselves on a sound financial basis they can secure financial backing to enable them to market their produce in their own way. But if a co-operative concern continues to market an inferior cotton it will have to take the responsibility of its action, and the necessities of the case will compel it to conform to the demands of the cotton markets of the world. That can be brought about much more rapidly if growers act in their own interests than if they are subjected to what they regard as foolish interference by any government. It will surely be better for the growers themselves to take action than to have it done by a government, action by which is generally misunderstood, often misinterpreted, and sometimes wrong. Instances such as that to which I have referred could be multiplied in respect of fruit and, indeed, all other produce. By the establishment of a rural credits department the Government hopes to give the producers an opportunity to cooperate and to provide the necessary financial assistance to enable them to do their own marketing. They will thus learn the lessons that must be learned in connexion with the marketing of their produce. Necessity is the mother of invention, but it is also a stern teacher. When these co-operative associations have to accept full responsibility for the marketing of their produce they will take good care that only the best methods are adopted. This will be to them a far more effective spur than any regulation or government inspection could provide. So it is hoped that whilst this proposal will confer a great benefit upon the producers it will also bring home to them in the most effective and direct way the necessity to properly market their produce. The bill provides -
– Losses are not anticipated ?
– If the act is operated with ordinary discretion I do not think that there should be any serious losses. I certainly think that the time has arrived when we should endeavour to remove these operations from the region of political action. I can think of no greater danger in our national life than that industries should be in a position to come to a government and, by political pressure, exerted perhaps at times of crises, extort from the government financial considerations that are denied to other industries. I do not say that that has been ‘done, hut, at the same time, there is always the danger of it whilst the government acts as a sort of fairy godmother in assisting industry from the funds of the taxpayers.
– Will this measure prevent the possibility of that occurring in future?
– I think that it will, because there will not be the same justification for government or parliament -to invade this area of finance. At any rate, that is the hope and the object of the Government in introducing the bill, which I commend to the consideration of honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 27th August (vide page 1754), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That the Estimates and budget-papers be printed.
– As a commercial man I should like to make a few remarks on the budget-papers. Possibly I may not submit my views in such an elaborate way as some honorable senators, but I trust that I shall make my meaning clear. The Treasurer deserves to be congratulated on having produced such a satisfactory statement of last year’s transactions. The revenue exceeded expectations, principally, of course, on account of the high Customs receipts. Some criticism has been offered on that very account, but men who move in commercial circles know of the many difficulties that surround the appraisement of Customs revenue. It will be within the knowledge of honorable senators that there was an unusual inflation of the Customs revenue during
July. Imports, generally, were said to be responsible for it, but I venture to say that it was caused principally by the anticipation of an increase in the duty on spirits. Happenings like that, which give the Customs revenue an unexpected fillip, make it very difficult for the Treasurer accurately to estimate the income. I am glad to notice that relief is proposed in indirect taxation to the extent of £750,000. The way in which that is to be done will, no doubt, be disclosed to us later.
Speaking as a member of the general public, it seems to me that three aspects of the budget will be particularly appreciated. The first is the proposed reduction in income taxation by 12£ per cent. That is highly desirable. I wish that the Queensland Government would follow the example of this Government in that respect. My private income last year was taxed three times as heavily by the Queensland Government as by the Commonwealth Government. I regret, however, that the Treasurer could not see his way clear to propose a reduction in taxation on companies. Our present companies tax is very high, and unsatisfactory. I know of one company which is paying 2s. 3d. in the £1 to the Federal Government and 3s. in the £1 to the state Government. A tax of 5s. 3d. in the £1 is altogether too heavy on this struggling company. Its profits are not sufficient, in these circumstances, to give the shareholders any return on their investment. The employees get a big cut out of the gross returns, the state and Federal Governments get a little more than 25 per cent., and the shareholders get nothing.
– Is that a mining company ?
– Yes ; a coalmining company. I have several times advocated in this chamber that our taxation forms should be simplified, but we still have the objectionable boomerang curve, which prevents any one but a taxation expert from checking the rate of his tax. We are, of course, able to check the extensions, but I submit that it ought to be within the province of any ordinary business man to check the rate of his tax.
– One would require to go to school for a long time to learn how to do it.
– That is so. It requires theapplication of higher mathematics. Iam an accountant, but I am not able to follow the mathematical methods used.
Wemust all agree that the increase in the old-age and invalid pensions is at matter for congratulation.. Many of us are reaching: the old-age limit. We do not know when the pension may become acceptable to us; My personal opinion is that we should encouragepeople to prepare for their own old age. If. the National. Insurance Commission is able to. present a proposal which will be acceptable to Parliament by which this. may be done, it will be an excellent thing. We ought to do our best to provide an old-age pension which can in no sense be regarded as a pauper dole; although, of course, if through stress of circumstances; a man is compelled to accept the present old-age pension, he has the satisfaction of knowing that throughout his life he has contributed to the revenue out of which the pension is now being paid.
– It. is a. good thing to make the young; people pay for the old people.
SenatorReid. - And also to make the young people prepare for their own old age.
– I know that in my young days I had to provide for the aged.
The next item for congratulation, speaking as a member of the general public, is the proposal to repeal those provisions of the Entertainments Tax Act by which tickets that cost less than 2s. 6d. are taxed. I appreciate this, although it must be borne in mind that a great many people at present make their sole contribution to the revenue through the entertainments tax. It must be clear that there is a. good deal to be said on both sides in connexion with this tax, but, personally, I welcome the relief that the Government’s proposal will afford. Entertainment is necessary in all ranks of life, and if the Government can make wholesome entertainment possible for the mass of the peonle at a cheap rate it will do well.
The reduction in the national debt isvery gratifying. I am afraid it is hardly practicable to provide that the debt shall not be allowed to increase. Our country is growing, of course, and its various public utilities must also grow. That means; the expenditure of more capital. We can hardly expect anything else, therefore; than that the national debt will increase, on account of the expenditure on public works, but Itrust that we shall do our utmost to reduce the old debts incurred for war expenditure, and other unproductive things.
The proposal to set aside £1,500,000 for defence is highly commendable. I am glad that a permanent scheme to be worked out over a number of years has been propounded. I hope later on to have something to say on defence details. The Leader of the Senate has, this morning explained to us the Government’s proposals in connexion with the establishment of a rural credits department of the Commonwealth Bank. The scheme ought to. be of great benefit to the man on the land. The proposal to spend a larger amount on post office services will also be welcomed, for it will benefit the whole community.
As a Central Queenslander I appreciate the remarks made by Senator Pearce, this morning on the cotton industry. I am glad that the Government intends to continue a guaranteed price for another season. In the meantime, I understand that it will consider sympathetically the paymentof a bounty on the production of cotton. That seems to me to be the preferable way to deal with the matter. It would. remove the industry from Government control to a greater extent than ia the case at present, and would be more beneficial to the individual grower. It is. difficult to determine the method by which the bounty shouldbe paid. A flat rate has been suggested. Against that it may be urged that a grower may produce great quantities of inferior cotton in order to collect as much bounty as possible, whereas the man who is careful to produce good cotton will be at a disadvantage in that respect. This is a matter which the Governments, with the advice of the Queensland Government, may be trusted to settle in the best way. I trust that before next season comes an appropriate bounty scheme will have been provided for by Parliament.
I notice in the Estimates that it is still proposed to set apart a considerable amount for the purchase of coal. I suppose that it will be expended on Welsh coal for the use of the auxiliary services of the Navy. In passing, I may say that
I tope the time is approaching -when we shall not need to go outside Australia to get a high-class coal of this nature. I submitted to the Government some little time ago a sample of coal sent to me by a party of tributers working a seam in Central Queensland. It was so satisfactory thatthe Government has expressed a desire that 25 tons of the coal may be tested to see whether the ash is non-clinker ing. The coal was said to be -very similar to Welsh coal. I have high hopes that it will prove to be so.
The representatives of a large state like Queensland .are naturally . very interested in the Government’s road grant proposals. It was anticipated that the grant for the ensuing year would be £1,000,000, but, .as I .said by interjection the other day, the various states were unable to expend the amount of last year’s grant -that was allocated to them. In these circumstances it could hardly be expected that the Government would earmark £1,0.00,000 for this year. As a matter of fact, the amount provided for in the Estimates, together with the sums at present unexpended by the states, will total about £1,000,000. It has been suggested that in -places where the bridging of creeks or rivers is necessary in connexion with roads that are being constructed by the expenditure of money from this fund, the cost of the bridges should also be chargeable to the grant. We, in Queensland., lean to that view, and we are hoping that the Minister will , make that concession. I ‘stress the necessity for making :a portion of the grant available for .the re-conditioning of roads which have long ‘been national highways, but which have got out of repair. It seems to me to be essential that ‘the Commonwealth should exercise a more thorough supervision of .the work that is being done. I have heard .of roads in my state which .have cost between £7,000 and £9,000 a mile. It may be that good work has been done, “but it seems to me that it is costing too much. Seeing that the Commonwealth Government is finding half of the money that is being spent, I think it ought to exercise some supervision.
A question has been brought under my notice by .peanut growers in Central Queensland. I believe ‘that there are great possibilties in the cultivation of pea nuts which can be -grown with great advantage in Queensland. Overtures have been made to the Minister for Trade and Customs for the imposition of a protective duty, and I understand that the matter will ‘receive consideration by ihe Tariff Board. Before I approached the Minister I asked the people concerned what .prospects there were of overtaking the importation, and I was assured by them that within twelve months Australia .could easily produce the whole of its peanut requirements. I trust therefore that the protection asked for will begiven.
I regret very much that the very valuable report on meteorology, prepared at great trouble by the Government Meteorologist, has not been, recommended by the Printing Committee to be printed . In previous’ years the reports of the Meteorological Department have “been printed, >but the Printing Committee considers that this year’s report is too bulky. No doubt it is bulky, and I think heads of departments would be well advised to condense their reports so that they will not be too costly to print. As I understand it would have cost £100 to print the report of the Meteorological Department, the Printing Committee was probably justified in pausing to consider whether it was worth while spending that amount of money ; but I think it is well worth the expenditure, because the report contains most valuable information to people on the land and those who travel by water.
– Could it have been cut down ?
– Some of the. matter might have been omitted, and 1 propose to ask the Printing Committee to reconsider its decision.
The Commonwealth Government has been asked to pay a bonus on the production of gold, and as I come from a district where the Mr Morgan mine is situated, I am strongly in ‘favour of that request. No doubt it is very difficult for :any government to consider the payment of a bounty on a wasting asset such as gold-mining undoubtedly is; but if it can be shown that by the use of most up-to-date machinery, ore residuals and tailings can be brought into commission as quite new factors, and made to produce revenue, I think the ‘Government would be justified in paying such a bounty. There is, I am afraid, no use in suggesting that copper-mining should be favoured in the same way, although at the present time it is in a very bad position in Queensland. The Mr Morgan Company lost £150,000 last year, and that was only one of three years in which the total losses were £350,000.
I am pleased to see that special provision is being made to enable the Institute of Science and Industry to make further investigations into means for eradicating the prickly pear. This is a matter of supreme importance to Queensland. I believe the experiments of the Queensland Prickly Pear Board have reached the stage at which there is every prospect of arresting the further progress of the pear, but some quicker and more effective method is necessary. The cochineal insect is de-‘ struct i ve to the pear,’ but is so slow in its operations that I think the pear will beat it in the long run. £b far poisoning has proved to be the only effective means of combating the pest, and I think it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the Institute of Science and Industry may devise some means of destroying the pear by spreading a poisonous gas over extensive areas. The suggestion that power alcohol should be made from, the pear is worthy of the keenest consideration. There are two schools of opinion on this subject. On the one hand, the Institute of Science and Industry considers that it is commercially out of the question to produce power alcohol from prickly pear ; on . the other hand a medical man in Sydney has declared that it can be done commercially. If there is so much doubt among scientists on the matter, it ought to be thoroughly investigated. I can conceive of nothing that would be of greater benefit to the community than the destruction of the prickly pear combined with the production of power alcohol.
Talking of power alcohol reminds me of the position of the sugar industry of Queensland. I think every one engaged in that industry should feel grateful for the recent decision of the Government to renew the embargo on the importation of sugar, and so keep the industry stabilized for a further period. The overproduction of sugar is a very serious matter, because the quantity that has to be exported must, be sold at a substantial loss. Of course, that loss is borne by those engaged in the industry. They have not come, cap in hand, to the Government for financial assistance to help them to bear it. Experts differ upon the possibility of producing power alcohol from sugar cane. Some declare that by itself’ the cane will not produce alcohol commercially. Another section in the north, led by Mr. Seymour Howe, claims on good grounds that it can be done. If it can be demonstrated that power alcohol can be produced advantageously from sugar cane, people can go ahead producing as much cane as possible, to the great advantage of Queensland, and Australia generally.
In regard to defence, I agree with the Inspector-General of the Forces, that he is very much hampered by lack of funds. It appears to me that he has been asked to make bricks without sufficient straw, but I think he will have to do his best with the funds available. I notice that his. report contains the usual talk about the unification of the railway gauges. The defence authorities must realize that this is a problem which, for financial reasons, must be tackled very gradually. It seems to me that, as well as continuing to remind the legislatures about the necessity for the unification of the railway gauges, they should work out the quickest and best means of transporting troops with the railways as they are to-day, or as they will .be in the near future, at the same time taking into consideration motor and other means of transport. There is plenty of scope- for their energies in this direction. In the meantime, they can still keep on impressing on the legislatures the need for that unification which will be brought about when sufficient funds are available.
I am aware that the vote for military camps is not what it ought to be. I am afraid that the military authorities in this regard will have to rely on a certain amount of voluntary effort. We used to do this in Queensland, and I cannot see why it could not be done in an Australian sense.
– There is no voluntary effort in that direction to-day.
– We used to have a great deal of it. I have taken part in voluntary camps, and they have proved very effective.
– I understand that there is a good deal of that done now.
– I believe that there is, but it is a practice which could very well be extended. I agree with the suggestion that permanent sites for camps should be chosen. To lay down a camp every year necessitates considerable expense in the provision of water supply and fuel, and with the population increasing the difficulty of obtaining suitable sites becomes greater each succeeding year. The same remarks apply, but in a greater degree, to the finding of areas in which big gun practice can be carried on. The time is ripe when efforts should be made to secure control of areas in which the necessary big gun practice can be carried out annually. A question of detail has been raised as to what can be done with the men in camps on Sundays. My idea is that they can go to church in the morning - that is a parade in itself - and in the afternoon turn to work again. We followed that practice in Queensland at one time, and there was no outcry from the religious denominations.
The question of providing sufficient remounts is a very grave one. To-day we are not breeding the class or the quantity of horses we should require if war unhappily broke out again. Despite the other means of transport at our disposal, the horse has not yet been eliminated. Horses can go where motors cannot. Therefore, in order to supply the requirements of cavalry and artillery, we must still keep our eyes on horse production, and every effort must be made to encourage the breeding of the right type. As horse-breeding is not a profitable, proposition, it is possible that some financial assistance will have to be given directly or indirectly to those who engage in it.
I regret that the Bankruptcy Act has not been brought into force, but I dare say a good deal of machinery has to be arranged before it can be proclaimed. I notice that the Attorney-General announced the other day that matters were well in hand for an early proclamation of the act.
Steps for consolidating the companies law have not made much progress. A suggestion has been made that the States should surrender their rights in respect to company legislation, and that the Commonwealth should pass a uniform Com panies Act, which seems to be the best way out of the difficulty. I trust tha? the necessary legislation will be put through this session, because the time is over-ripe for a uniform Federal Companies Act. I understand that a committee appointed by the Chambers of Commerce of “ Australia is conferring with the Federal Government in connexion with this question, and I hope that some effort will be made to reach finality in the matter.
As the question of a new States referendum is to be brought under the notice of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), I trust the matter will be given sympathetic consideration, and that the machinery necessary for creating new States will be simplified. An appeal would have to be made to the people by way of referendum, and that is all that is being asked for at present.
Queensland is indulging in a scheme of child endowment, in connexion with which, according to this morning’s newspapers, there is a possibility of some difficulties arising. I do not advocate the Commonwealth Government acting in the direction that Queensland is, because that would only have the effect of paralysing industry, as will be the case in that State. I believe in child endowment in a certain form. Pour or five years ago I brought under the notice of employers a child endowment scheme which I thought would be equitable to all concerned, but as it was not favorably considered, I did not proceed with the elaboration of the details. Briefly, the scheme was based on a basic wage for a single man, and had to be considered from the stand-point of the State and of the employers. As a rule it does not matter to the employer whether an employee is married or single, so long as he is efficient, although most employers take a sentimental interest in the conditions under which old and trusted employees are working. Strictly speaking, the employer’s interest is based on efficient service. The interest of the State lies in the man’s marriage and subsequent family. It seems to me that the basic wage of a single man should be built up from two angles. The employers should recognize efficiency, a margin of skill, and long ‘ service, and an understanding should be reached on these points by appointingsomething like the Whitley boards or councils to carry out the necessary investigations. From the stand-point of the State, it appears to me that thewage of a man should be increased when he marries, and further increased onthe arrival of each child, until they reach; say, fourteen years of age, when, in ordinary circumstances, they would be able to assist in supporting themselves. A fund established for that purpose should be contributed to by the Government, the employer, and the employee. I do not think it is the responsibility of the employer, but there would be more contentment amongst the workers, which would be useful, although agood deal could be said against the necessity of employers contributing at all. Such a fund is more the resfionsibility of the State and the employee than the employer.
What I have said will indicate liberal views towards employees, but it has been urged in some quarters that Iam an extremist. During a recent debate an honorable senator opposite desired to know where I was in 1891. Those who are conversant with the happenings of that period know that abush workers’ strike was in progress, and that a thousand men in camp were reported tobe drilling and sharpening shear-blades, and arming themselveswith Winchesterrifles with the assistance of which it was said they were going to “ collar “ the country.
– That wasnewspaper talk.
-It was not. The (Government of the daycalled out the troops, and as I was an officer in the mounted infantryat that time, I had to obey the call. Owingtothe action of theGovernment serious bloodshed was avoided, andthestrike terminated without anyserious injury to human beings.
– There was not much likelihood of that.
– It is idle to make such a statement. The honorablesenatormust remember that theprincipaltimbers in the Ebor Creek railway bridgewere sawn almost through, and a train was stopped just in time to prevent an accidentwhichwould have had very serious consequences, in which the workers’ friends as well as others would havebeen involved.
I have also been blamed in consequence of a garbled report of the proceedings at an employers’ meeting in Brisbane. The question under consideration was in relation to the machinery available when the lives of the people and property were endangered in consequence of riots arising out of strikes or revolution. I urged that in such circumstances it would be necessary to use force to protect the people, and indicated that trained forces were desirable in order to subdue the rabble. It was because I made that statement that I have been regarded as an extremist, and as the incident was recently mentioned in another place I thought it my duty to place the facts before honorable senators.
I express my extreme satisfaction with the budget, and I believe it will be very useful to submit its contents to the people prior to the forthcoming general election.
– It is only natural tofind honorable senators opposite pleased with the budget. It is onlywhat one could expect when it has been prepared by a government which theyare supporting. The Government intend to increase invalid and old-age pensions from 17s.6d to 20s. weekly,which, of course, will bea benefit to the poor; but at the same time we are informed that a reduction of12½ per cent. is to be made in income taxation, which, incomparison,, willbe of greaterbenefit to the wealthy people in our midst. The poor people are satisfied with an increase of 2s. 6d. per week,, which is equivalent to £6 10s. per year, but those whoare well able to contribute towards the revenue are tobe relieved of paying hundreds of thousandsof pounds in the aggregate. Why should there be any reduction in income taxation ?
– Whyshould there notbe?
– Why should we commence fey relieving the wealthy of their obligations, instead of removing the burden from the shoulders of those who are least able to bear it ? Those paying income taxation are ina position to do so.
SenatorGuthrie. - What taxation would the honorable senator relieve the workersof ?
– Ifrelief can be affordedto the rich, why should not a similar privilege be given to the poor!
– Will not the money thus: saved be expended in providing additional employment?
– The honorable senator is well aware that the income taxation imposed upon those who are able to pay is simply passed on.
– It cannot be passed on in most cases.
– Those who have been through the industrial mill recognize that the passing on of taxation and other responsibilities which the employers should bear has become a curse, not only in Australia, but wherever taxation is imposed.
– The workers will receive the benefit of this relief.
– I shall deal with that aspect of the question later. It is well’ known that business men meet their taxation by increasing the price of the commodities which they sell. Every increase is passed on to the people. Although there is to be reduced taxation there will be no reduction ins the price of commodities.
Sen ator Wilson. - How does Senator J. Grant pass on his income taxation?
– Senator Grant has given me the impression that there is something in the policy which he advocates. If the Government are, as they profess to be, the friends of the primary producers, they should exempt them from income taxation, and impose a halfpenny or a penny in the pound taxation on unimproved land values. They would not have the bother of making up returns, and in addition the department would catch the rich landholders in the capital cities of the Commonwealth.
– They are the men we want to catch.
– If this process of passing everything on is a good one, would not it be better to wipe out the exemption altogether ?
– I am contending that the exemption should be higher than it is.
– But the honorable senator just said that the tax can be passed on.
– The honorable senator knows quite well that I was referring to the man in business, who passes it on. The manon a regular salary cannot do that. The big financial men should be prevented from dodging: the taxation demands of the department. Senator Lynch knows that through the several stratas of human activity there is a. filtering process right down to the lower levels. In that way, taxation is passed on from the rich to the poor. I do not think it is right that there should be a reduction of 12½per cent. in income taxation when we are spending such vast sums of loan money on. public works. Speaking from memory, I think it, is proposed this year to spend £6,000 , 000 on postal works, and £300,000 on migration. Why should we reduce taxation on people who are well able to bear it, and at the same time spend loan money on public works? If possible, we should pay for all public works, not from loan, but out of revenue.
– Is the honorable senator opposed to the expenditure of loan money on public works.
– Not necessarily. My contention is that if we cannot pay for public works out of revenue, we have no right to reduce taxation to the extent of hundreds of thousands of pounds. Senator Payne had something to say about the people who, according to him, patriotically lent their money to the Government at 4½ per cent. during the war. He forgot, to mention that this money was, not forthcoming, until the Government had announced that interest on war loans would be free of Federal and State taxation. Then, of course, the money rolled in. As a matter of fact, the contribution by certain of the wealthier people in Australia to war loans was not so. much an act of patriotism as a shrewd business- move.
– I hope the honorable senator does not overlook the fact that many thousands who contributed to war loans had to arrange for overdrafts with their bankers.
– I am speaking particularly of the big men financially, who benefited from the income tax exemption on war loans. I agree that the smaller ment were patriotic, because their subscriptions to war loans involved a certain amount of sacrifice. Senator Payne, whilst applauding these people, forgot to mention that whilst they were contributing to war loans, many of them were making immense profits at the expense of returned soldier settlers by charging them £70, £80 or £100 a ton for galvanized iron which cost them from £17 to £18 a ton.
– The honorable senator is quite right.
– The honorable senator is hardly doing Senator Payne justice. He would not applaud the nian who did that.
– Senator .Payne was applauding the men who invested in war loans at 4-J per cent, at a time when they could have got 5 per cent, or 6 per cent, for their money. As he forgot to mention what enormous profits some of them were making out of returned soldier settlers, I am presenting that side of the picture. The proposed reductions in taxation, Federal and State, we are told, will amount to £1,712,500. This virtually is a gift to the wealthier sections of the community, who should have borne a fairer proportion of our war burdens. If it benefits the poorer sections of the people to the extent of 5 per cent., it benefits the rich to the extent of 95 per cent.
Members of the Government are supposed to be protectionists, but some of them appear to have a leaning towards freetrade.
– Is the Leader of the honorable senator’s party in this chamber a freetrader or a protectionist 2
– My Leader (Senator Gardiner) is a freetrader.
– Why, then, should the honorable senator condemn any members of the Ministry for freetrade tendencies ?
– Because the policy of the Government is supposed to bc protection.
– Our policy is protection, and we are protectionists. The policy of the honorable senator’s party is protection, too, but his Leader in the Senate is a freetrader.
– We stand for the new protection.
– With a freetrade Leader the honorable senator is in an awkward position.
– My Leader must stand to the policy of my party, which is protection - the new protection.
– Nevertheless, the honorable senator’s Leader is prepared to allow African maize, which is grown by black labour, to be imported free of duty.
– I do not stand for that policy.
– I know that, but the honorable senator’s Leader in the Senate does.
– The Government, which is supposed to be protectionist, has just sent orders oversea for £9,000,000 worth of work which should have been done in Australia. Evidently it stands for some bastard system of protection under which commodities are produced by sweated labour in other countries.
– Every one should stand for Australian goods, as I do.
– The honorable senator knows where I stand. I am Australian through and through. I believe in Australia every time and all the time. Unfortunately, the majority of our people, in this respect, are not good Australians.
– The honorable senator’s motor car i3 not Australian made.
– That is because we cannot get an Australian-made car. I hope, however, that before long we shall be able to buy Australian-made motor cars. When that time comes, I trust that the people of Australia will give the industry whole-hearted support.
Sitting suspended from, 1 to 2 p.m.
– Senator Payne last night said that those who paid income tax were responsible for finding the bulk of the taxation. I have here figures that will absolutely disprove that assertion. The total Customs revenue received in 1918-19 was £11,605,410, whilst in 1922-3 it was £22,597,306. The excise revenue received in the former year was £5,821,560, and in the latter year £10,274,823. The workers found the bulk of that excise revenue, which is derived principally from tobacco and beer.
– Surely the other fellow drinks beer.
– My reason for saying that is, not because the workers drink more individually, bub because they are greater in number than any other class of the community. In the same way they find the bulk of the revenue that is received by the Customs Department on wearing apparel. The Government should have provided out of revenue for £300,000 for immigration, because immigrants, immediately after their arrival, commence to contribute to the revenue. It is a fact that foreign goods are still entering Australia. I do not know how they can be shut out. Whilst we borrow abroad, we shall continue to receive the loan in the shape of goods, except on very rare occasions. Even apart from borrowing, that principle must apply if we expect to dispose of our surplus production in other countries. Those who take that surplus production will return its value in goods, not money. It is impossible to apply protection absolutely. At the same time we should give greater encouragement to Australian industries. The Government drops the policy of protection when it finds that it can purchase articles abroad more cheaply than they can be manufactured in Australia.
– Did not the South Australian Labour Government import locomotives ?
– That was done by the Barwell Government. The Labour Government took the opposite stand, and spent many thousands of pounds in giving contracts to South Australian manufacturers.
– What local firms in South Australia manufacture locomotives ?
– Perry and Company received the bulk of the work. This Government adopts the Protectionist policy when it suits it, and jettisons it on other occasions. If it claims to be a Protectionist Government, it should adhere, strictly to that policy. Last April about 300 battel’s were unemployed in Victoria alone. Yet 1,250,000 hats were imported from Italy, having been made there from fur taken from Australian rabbits.
– How can the Italian manufacturers compete with the Australians if they have to import Australian fur?
– There is a much cheaper labour market in Italy than there is in Australia. If the Australian industry were protected to the extent of 5s. on each hat the importer who, in many cases, is also the distributing agent for local manufacturers, would simply add that amount to the selling price of the Australian article, bringing it up almost to the price of the imported hat. The Commonwealth Government should put a stop to that practice. These importers are not actuated by Australian sentiments.
– Does the honorable senator believe in price fixing?
– I do, as far as possible. Only by that means will importers be prevented from acting in this way. There are S0.000 wool-growers in Australia, and we produce the best wool in the world. That is due principally to our climatic conditions. But I also give the Australian wool growers the credit of exercising more. care in wool production than is shown by those of any other country.
– That is the real reason for the excellence of our article.
– Material purchased from an Australian woollen mill could be taken to a first-class tailor and made into a’ suit for £5 10s., the completed article costing .only £6 10s. Yet if material of the same class passes through a warehouse the suit will cost from £10” 10s. to £12. Those huge profits are killing the Australian industry. There are shopkeepers who will never admit that they stock Australian goods. I once had that statement made to me, and it was not until I commenced to walk out of the shop that the article I required was produced. When an inspector on one occasion was appointed to inquire into the woollen industry, and asked in a warehouse to be shown rolls of material that had been made in Australia, he was told that there were none in stock. An examination of the material he saw there, however, disclosed the fact that it had been made in an Australian woollen mill.
– Manufacturers do not now stamp Australian hats “ Made in Australia.”
– Manufacturers should by law be compelled to state that an article has been made in Australia., so that purchasers will know what they are getting. If Australia- is to become the nation that it should be, and if we are to. become a. manufacturing people,, we shall, have to proceed along different lines. Importers and- others, should always be Australians first. The tendency is; for those persons- to. study their banking accounts rather than the interests of Australia1. If they will not use honest methods- the- law should compel them tedo’ so. Many of them are unscrupulous liars. I do not know whether: they are receiving a greater, pro-fit from the imported than from the Australian- article,, but I do not think that they are-.
I wish to make a few remarks on: immigration. Unemployment is prevalent in England, and the- British) Government is doing its- best to- relieve the position by sending unemployed’ Britishers to Australia- and the other. British, dominions-.. Tie- percentage of unemployed in. England and- Australia’ last April was 10i4 per cent., and’ 10:3 per cent respectively.- Australia-, therefere;, has almost as many unemployed proportionately as England. In the circumstances it certainly is not fair that British unemployed should be sent here. If the Australian- consumers were strongly Australian’ in- sentiment, we could cosily overcome our difficulties; for. they would- buy only Australian-made good’s. If that were done,, employment could lie found’ for’ all- the unemployed here; The problem would be solved surely and safely. The Leader of the Government in the Senate. (Senator Pearce) claimed not long ago that only a small percentage of Italians could come to Australia each month-. His statement appears to be incorrect, for figures have been supplied’ to us which show that T95 Italians arrived here each month in the first quarter of this year. That is far aBove the quota he mentioned. These Italians are finding their way to our industrial centres. A report in Smith’s Weekly stated that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company has so many southern Europeans on the Barrier that it does not know what to do with them, and they are almost starving. Senator Pearce also informed us that before an Italian could land here he had to show that he possessed a capital of £40. The Queensland commission which, recently inquired into the immigration, of Italians into
Australia obtained, conclusive evidence that many of. the; people- who> were supposed te have £40 on landing? really had not at penny.. . They weise destitute:. The Government professes that- it desires to prevent the. influx oi£ these; Italians, but, for* my part; I believe- that it really desires to encourage it. If it earnestly desired1 Vo restrict this- class of immigration, it could adopt- the- quota- system of the (government- of the United- States of America, under which-, I believe, in- respect of the- total’ number of immigrants per month-, only 2 per cent. of Italians- are- allowed1 to> laird”. When.ever this proposal is- ma’de to the?. Government, it says, “ We’ do not wish to- offend’ the Italian Government. The- Italians- were our allies’ during the war-.’” They were- our allies because it paid them to be so.
– The honorable senator is quite incorrect in saying that the Government has ever given that as s reason for not adopting the quota system.
– The statement has certainly been made on behalf, of the Government. A few years ago, when’ the White Australia policy was introduced by the Fisher Government, the same kind of thing was said in respect to the Japanese. Japan, we were told’, was’ an ally of Great Britain,, and we should not offend her. Labour was strong: and courageous’ enough to> reply,. Never- mind whether Japan is an ally of Great Britain or not ;. we ‘ intend fro- standi u-p- for the White Australia policy.” Those- who then opposed, that policy of the Fisher Government now profess to be supporters of it.
– The original immigration restriction law, which gave effect to the White Australia policy, was introduced by the Barton Government.
– I’- find that I was in error in ascribing it to the Fisher Government, but I have no doubt it was introduced by the Barton Government because it was afraid to go to the country without introducing it.
– Mr. Walsh would bring the Japanese here.
– My opinion, is that Mr. Walsh would bring, anybody here..
– Including, his Bolshevik friends.
– I wish it to be understood that I hold no brief for Mr. Walsh. The Italians have been allowed to get a strong hold of the sugar industry inQueensland.
– Mr. Theodore welcomes the Italians.
– I donot agree with him in that regard.
– Mr. Theodore cannotbring Italians here. They are brought in by the Commonwealth Government.
– But Mr. Theodore has said that they make good unionists.
– I appear to have disturbed a hornet’s nest. The following figures will show how the Italians and othernationals have displaced British employees inthe cane-growing industry in the Herbert River district in Queensland : -
The proportion of British and Italian cane-cutters employed during thesame period was as follows.: -
The people of Australia arecharged £38 a ton for thesugar produced here,and not oneounceof sugar is allowed to be imported.
– The people ofSouth Africa are paying exactly the same price as our consumers for sugar grown under black-labour conditions.
– I am surprised to hear that. I object, however, to the Italians displacing Australians.
– Are not the Italians membersof the unions ?
– Ido not care whetherthey are or not. They have no right to displace Australians.
– They are unionists, and are paid the union rates.
– That is no reason why they should be allowed to come here and force our Australian-born workers on the unemployed market.I am informed that while our people are obliged to pay £38 a ton for sugar, our exportable surplus is sold for £9 a ton.
– Sugar cannotbe bought in any part of the world for £9 a ton.
– Probably I have . as much right to believe the authoritythat supplied my figures as the honorable senator hasto believe the authority that supplied his.-
– Senator Crawford is an expert in sugar.
– If he is an expert in sugar, I am an expert in figures. We ought, as far as possible, to employ Australian workmen in this industry. If it were proved that there was more than sufficient employment for our Australian workers, I should not be averseto a few Italians coming here, but I hold that our own people have a perfect right topreference, seeing thatthe industry is so heavily protected. While I believe that the unification of our railway gauges should be carried out as expeditiously as possible, I agree with Senator Thompson that, because of the heavy cost involved, thework must be done slowly. However, it must be done sooner or later, not solely for defence purposes, but also in order to provide more efficient means of transport, and thereby permit of a reduction in freights.
If primary production is to make progress, we should have only one bank - the Commonwealth Bank - in Australia. Itwould be in a position to lendits money at cheaper rates of interest, and make advances much more f reely than is now possible. Australian industries would also expand. I trust that the Australian manufactured article will bear the stamp,” Made in Australia,” and that the people of the Commonwealth generally willgive honest support to the products of their own country. If they do so, our manufactures will expand, and we shall have no unemployed problem.
Debate (on motion by Senator
.- I move-
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until 11 a.m. to-morrow.
An extraordinary attitude has been taken up by the New South Wales State Government in refusing to allow its police to carry out and enforce a law of the Commonwealth. In view of this, the Commonwealth Government, charged as it is with the responsibility of enforcing such laws, has found it necessary to introduce legislation to deal, with this extraordinary situation. Therefore, I am asking the Senate to meet to-morrow, in order that if this legislation is passed by another place it can at once be dealt with by us.
– Can the Minister tell us the nature of this legislation?
– It is for the appointment of peace officers; that is to say, officers who are charged with the maintenance of peace and good order in the Commonwealth.
– Another police force !
– I shall certainly oppose this adjournment. I am surprised beyond imagination at the step taken by the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Hitherto in the Senate so much confidence has existed between both sides that honorable senators have been kept in touch -with everything that is happening. It has not been evident today. For instance, at lunch- time I paid my weekly account and made preparations for returning to Sydney. Now, I shall have to make fresh arrangements for accommodation. A word from the Minister would have been quite sufficient. He has known all the morning what is intended to be done, but he has kept it to himself. Why is the Government acting in this way ? Because it has found that the legislation so hurriedly passed a few weeks ago is proving ineffective. I suppose that if it finds any step it takes ineffective it will take another. It doles not mind what happens provided it .can make out a good electioneering cry. There is no earnestness about it. It has no intention of passing legislation to benefit the Commonwealth. Its sole intention is to work up an atmosphere suitable for the holding of an election. Desperate gambles may turn out either way. Ministers are like a “ Jubilee Plunger “ proceding from one desperate gambling plunge to another, in the hope that they will convince the people that there is some serious industrial trouble in the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable senator deny that there is ?
– Certainly. There is a bit of a dispute going on, but thousands of disputes of much greater importance have been in progress in Australia without it being necessary to alter the procedure of Parliament.
– The honorable senator evidently does not regard it as serious that the exports of the country , are hung up.
– I do not regard the situation as at all serious.
– The Government does.
– I know that Senator Pearce is naturally nervous. In fact, the whole of the Government is nervous.
– What about all the shipping that is tied up?
– It is true thai ships are tied up, but I should like Senator Reid to say whether the action of the Government is not calculated to increase industrial difficulties. Notwithstanding the furtiveness of the Government and its endeavour to drag the Commonwealth down to the level of some of those insignificant republics of which we have read, Ministers must realize that there is abroad in Australia a spirit of freedom and toleration. We have from time to .time been faced with difficulties infinitely more serious and threatening than those which face us at the present moment, but calm judgment and good and wise statesmanship have carried us over them. I do not feel at all confident to-day because of the nervous, impetuous, ill-considered conduct of the Government. It has passed a piece of legislation which is objectionable to every man who loves liberty. If makes interference in industrial matters a more serious offence than that of murder. It takes from those who -so offend the right of trial by jury, which even the worst criminal can demand. It has first prepared summonses, and then set about the appointment of a board to deal with them. It has had trouble in getting people to accept appointments on this board, because the only condition under which they could be accepted was that they would bind themselves to find any one brought before them guilty.
– That is not correct.
– If it is not correct, why has not the Government chosen men who have the confidence of the country? Why has it fallen back on a public servant to fill one of the positions ? I suppose he had no option but to accept the appointment.
– It is not correct to say that that public servant was obliged to accept the position.
– This sort of procedure is taking us back centuries, ut I am not surprised at it, because of the ineptitude of the incompetents who are now ‘ governing the Commonwealth.
– Why did not Mr. Lang allow a State judge to b~e appointed ?
– Senator Reid has evidently been in caucus, and thus is in possession of facts which have not come under my notice.
– No. I am merely stating what I have seen in the press.
– Instead of this information being made available at a caucus meeting it should have been given here. I asked for it yesterday, but Senator Pearce refused to give it, saying that he would give it in his own good time. He has not yet done so.
– I have done so today. That was my time.
– But according to Senator Reid the Minister has not made a full statement to the Senate.
– My information was obtained from the newspapers.
– It is evident that the blame is to be placed on some one else, and, so far as that is concerned, I think it was most praiseworthy of Mr. Lang, the Premier of New South Wales, to refuse to have anything to do with any Commonwealth law that cuts right across the grain of British liberty.
– Would the honorable senator make Mr. Lang superior to the Commonwealth Parliament?
– No. But Mr. Lang has a right to act for the State whose affairs he is responsible for administering. Even Senator Pearce, short-sighted and vindictive as he appears to be, will agree that Mr. Lang has his own responsibilities, and must act according to his own conscience.
– And according to the Constitution he is sworn to uphold.
– I am totally unacquainted with the part that Mr. Lang has played. I have only the information given by Senator Reid that he is somewhat to blame for this belated action on the part of the Commonwealth Government in calling on the Senate to alter its sitting day, so that a new police force, or something of that kind, may be constituted. The Government has found that the legislation it recently passed is not rigid enough to enable it to carry out iU intentions, seeing that those who are charged with the responsibility of governing the States will not enforce it. I shall not be surprised at other obstacles cropping up, even if this particular difficulty is overcome by the step now proposed to be taken. The Constitution provides that where a State law clashes with a Federal law the latter takes precedence, but I doubt very much whether that will permit of a citizen of New South Wales being removed by a board such as the one that has been appointed within the last day or two. At least there is no need for haste. I foresee years of legal proceedings before any one can be deported.
– Has the honorable senator read that part of the Constitution which lays a duty on State Governments ?
– I have read the Constitution from end to end, and am fairly well acquainted with it. It is based on the principles upon which the British people have been governed for centuries, and one of those principles is that nothing shall be done contrary, shall I say, to the intentions of British justice. No little clique or combination of men may override the liberties of British people.
– Is Mr. Lang to be the interpreter of the Constitution?
– The honorable senator need be in no hurry. The courts will interpret the Constitution. Before the Government can lay a hand on a British citizen in any part of Australia, it will have to overcome obstacles and difficulties raised in the courts of justice which safeguard the liberty of British citizens.
– Does the honorable senator say that Mr. Lang has a right to interpret the Constitution in his own way ?
– It is his duty to interpret the Constitution as far as .his responsibilities to his State arc concerned, and, ‘knowing him as I do, I know that he will do what he conscientiously believes to be right. He will not accept the word of pettifoggers who are merely engaged in creating an electioneering cry, and who think that all this will gain them some kudos. I do not know that Mr. Lang has not agreed to do everything the Commonwealth Government has asked him to do. ‘The Minister has not given us any information on the point. Instead, he is hurrying to alter the procedure of Parliament in order ‘to meet some petty difficulty. I-t is all being done with a view to working up feeling. I can imagine the headline in to-morrow’s newspapers - “‘Parliament Sits on Saturday.” Why is it -to meet? In order to revive Mr. Hughes’s long-forgotten police force without ‘even the .dramatic incident of first having an egg thrown at it. The Government have not created the proper .atmosphere. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and his colleagues -are endeavouring to imitate a gentleman -who .carried out a number of illegal .deportations, protected as he -was by the war sentiment -which then prevailed. The Prime Minister at the time (Mr. Hughes) was certain ‘he could have his own ‘way, because, .-as he said, the safety of the ‘Empire depended upon his actions. We have long since returned to peaceful times, and -the ordinary law courts, in which wrong-doers can be punished, are still .open. What has happened in this great -Commonweal bh -that the ‘existing laws and courts are insufficient to protect the .people? What is happening in Australia? Have we reached a position when wrong-doers who threaten the trade and commerce, the peace and good government of .this country, cannot be tried in the ordinary way under o.ur Australian laws ? Are not our judges capable of trying these men whom the Government wish to .deport ?
– Are not -the judges to be trusted ?
– The Government apparently’ think not. Certain people have formulated what they term a policy, but have managed the affairs of the Commonwealth so poorly, and have conducted its business so unsatisfactorily, that they are now looking for a means by which to smother up their misdeeds. I can imagine their supporters getting together and saying, “ This is ‘our last hope. This is our only opportunity of being saved before the elections.” All I can say is that I wish them well. I am sorry that the whole of the members of the Senate are not going to the country at- the next election, but am sure that for every Nationalist returned at least six supporters of the Labour party will be elected.
– Why not have a. double dissolution ?
– That would take three months. A double dissolution may, however, occur soon after the next elections. At 2.30 on a Friday afternoon we are asked by the Minister to adjourn until Saturday, merely because the Government desires to introduce legislation to give it power to deport those whom it considers are responsible for the promotion of strikes. That is the term used. The Minister has not even submitted to the Senate the names of any of the alleged offenders. The Government has not taken the country into its confidence, neither has it stated by whom the summonses were drawn up, or on whose sworn testimony .they have -been issued. Any person taking out a summons - -it is a serious process - has to make a declaration that .an -offence has been committed against him before -the law can commence to operate. I .should like to know -what has influenced the Government in .requesting its highest .official in -the Attorney-General’s Department to proceed ,to Sydney to serve summonses upon persons whose names are at present unknown to us. The Government has .not even had the decency to’ name the individuals; but it has allowed information, which has been regarded as secret, to be published in the press. Nothing can be more discreditable or calculated to .bring the .courts into -disrepute - and it is the duty of the -.Government to keep them on a high level - than . providing such a weapon as it is proposed to use against certain alleged offenders. If I we’re a member of the Government, and I thought any persons in this community were a menace to the peace, order and’ good government of the country, I would see that they were brought to justice in the old-fashioned British way. The offence they had committed would be dealt with under the laws relating- to such offences, and in the ordinary courts constituted: to. deal out justice to all. In effect, the- Government is saying’ that it has not the courage to approach the established tribunals, and is therefore creating a board before- which an inquiry can be conducted. The only justification for the action being taken is that the Government has received a distinct promise from the persons to be appointed’ to the boardthat the offenders- will be found’ guilty regardless of the evidence.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– How can it be otherwise? I can only surmise what is behind the. action of the Government..
– It is obvious.
Senator- GARDINER.- Yes, but the Minister has- declined’ to give any inform mation. One of the chief functions, of Parliament is to provide information to the people on matters of public importance.
– The honorable, senator will get all the information in time.
– Yes, when, the ulterior motives of this Government are known.. Why is it not available now?.
Senator- Pearce. - The honorable senator will be supplied- with full information when the bill is before the Senate.
– The bill is promised by Saturday, and the members of this Chamber will have to remain here cooling their heels until’ it has been disposed of in another place. I suppose it will be rushed’ through the other Chamber by the application of the- guillotine.
– The honorable senator need not wait if he does not wish to.
– I do not think I shall. I can assure the Minister that I have no doubt as to- the- action the Government proposes to take. If I had my way I would give it all the rope I possibly could, knowing that in doing so the more- entangled it would-, become-. Meeting as- members of this composite Government do. in separate party rooms when matters of policy are. under- discussion, it is only natural that they shouldfind themselves in a tangle.
– It is a wonder the honorable, senator does not tire of prais- ing himself.
– I was not thinking of myself.
-In condemning the action of honorable senators on this side the- honorable senator is praising, himself.
– I cannot help thanking of the position Senator Lynch occupied a few years ago; when he supported those admirable- principles which we now advocate. I cannot recall, in. this: instance having, uttered one word in praiseof myself or my colleagues, but surely we have a record of honest government,, of high aspirations, and of an endeavour to improve the conditions of the people. I can remember the time - Senator Lynch has probably forgotten- it - when he wasa champion of Labour. He wasthenanupright,straightforward and conscientious man, and one upon whom the Labour party could depend for almost anything:
– And hewas kicked out of the Labour party for what he did in the interests of the Empire.
– He was not kicked out, but acted as he did because he thought he would make his position safe for at least one election. I give him credit for his astuteness.
Several honorable senators interjecting,
-(Senator- the Hon.. T. Givens). - Order! There are too many interjections.
– I was beginning to think that there was a good deal of interruption.,
– The honorable senator would not get on without interjections. He is waiting for one now to enable him to continue his speech.
– I was wondering if my speech would be continued by the honorable senator if I gave him the opportunity. I again ask the Minister if this last foolish mistake of the Government cannot be retrieved by adjourning until the ordinary day of meeting? What difference will it make to the affairs of the nation whether we meet on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, of next week? Is the legislation the Government intends to introduce likely. to remove the maritime dispute which now confronts lis? I am very much surprised to find the Government adopting such a course. Beyond the publicity ‘ stunt “ there is no reason for it. I can quite understand that there is dissension in the Cabinet, and that its members areendeavouring to put themselves right with the people by bringing these alleged offenders before the board which they have constituted. It can all be regarded as so much by-play to divert the attention of the people from their acts of omission. Whilst the fanners have to pay heavy duty on the implements they require-
– Discussion of the tariff is irrelevant to the question before the Chair.
– I was merely endeavouring to illustrate a point, and was about to show that the object of the Government in suddenly asking us to alter our days of sitting is due to a desir© to cover up its mistakes. One half of the members of the Government belong to the Country party, but although they have been in office for nearly three, years the farmers are still compelled to pay huge import duties on their agricultural machinery. That is one reason why an attempt is being made to placate the people. If that is out of order, Mr. President, I shall obey your ruling by refraining from discussing the subject further. I have not the slightest desire to depart from the ordinary procedure of the Senate, but that is my opinion. The Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) and his colleagues in the Cabinet, have for the past three years been loading the primary producers with Customs duties, ranging from 45 to 50 per cent., and now wish to have something with which to face the electors.
– Does the honorable senator favour maize grown by black labour in South Africa entering Australia free of duty?
– I desire to point out to the Senate, and to Senator Guthrie in particular, that interjections are disorderly. A reply to Senator Guthrie’s interjection would be irrelevant, would prolong the debate, and would be the means of drawing Senator Gardiner away from the question before the Chair, which relates solely to the day to which the Senate shall adjourn.
– Is there no relief from this ?
– My duty is to keep the debate relevant.
– I can quite understand that nothing but a serious operation would give any relief to a man like Senator Ogden. I am sorry, sir, your ruling will not permit me to reply to the question asked by Senator Guthrie. The reply is simple.
– Perhaps it is, but it would be irrelevant.
– Action is being taken by the Government in this direction because it is in a hopeless position. It has been unable to please the primary producers.
– The primary producers are satisfied.
– We shall see. If the Government thinks that the primary producers are satisfied, it would not have proposed another sitting day for the Senate with the object of passing a measure to constitute a Commonwealth Police Force in the hope of diverting public opinion from the consideration of their own misdeeds. In my opinion this is the real reason for their action. No sane supporter of the Government can persuade himself that there is a serious industrial trouble threatening the trade and commerce of this country. And no honorable senator can, without concern for the future, view the Government’s proposal to try certain people in this country under a strange law, because, if I judge the temper of the people aright, deportation of any industrial leader will cause more trouble than anything that has been done by industrial agitators.
– Are you all “Walsh” mad? Are there no sane men on your side?
- Mr. Walsh, as I know him, is an Australian citizen of 32 years’ standing. Those who want him to be tried by a board constituted for the purpose of convicting him, do not understand the foundations upon which British freedom rests. If Mr. Walsh is a wrongdoer, let him be tried in the regularly constituted courts of justice.
– The workers of Australia will be glad to see the last of him.
– I know who will be glad to see the last of Mr. Walsh.
I could be forgiven if I indulged the hope that the time would come - I know ‘itnever will - when I should have the power to constitute a board to try every member of this Parliament who voted for the Deportation Bill. Possibly they are within measurable distance of that time. I should not hurry about the business of repealing the measure, because, possibly, the next election will give Labour a majority, and if I wished I might have the opportunity to bring prominent supporters of the bill before me, and secure their conviction on the flimsy evidence which it is proposed to bring against certain industrial leaders shortly.
– An Australian citizen could not be deported, so I would be safe enough.
– That is one of the advantages of being an Australian. Senator Guthrie, and many of his type., would have nothing to fear from legislation of. this nature, and so I appeal to the honorable senator to consider the meanness of this action against a Britisher who has been living in Australia for 30 years. I remind him that one of the principles of British justice is that the scales shall be held evenly between the people.
– Walsh disowns Britain. He declares that he is a communist - a citizen of the world.
– I can understand Senator Elliott’s desire to support the Government in this matter.
– The honorable senator does not like the truth about men of the type of “ Jock “ Garden and Walsh. They are not Britishers. They are traitors and bolsheviks.
– Senator Guthrie’s interjection suggests that, during infancy, he had the misfortune to be in the care of a nurse who inspired in him the fear of the bogyman. He and others like him are merely grown-up children. First they frighten themselves about some bogy which they think is threatening the welfare of Australia, and then they try to frighten others. I have seen this country threatened with grave industrial trouble on other occasions. My memory carries me back to the great shipping strike of 1890. I. recall that certain members of the New South Wales Cabinet, constituted in much the same way as the present Commonwealth Government is, wished to land British marines to settle that strike by force of arms.
– In those days there was ample warrant for the strike.
– I remember also that the Minister who controlled the Cabinet, being indisposed, called Ministers to his bedside, and informed them that no action could be taken except upon his written authority. When the Bruce Smith-McMillan section of the Cabinet pressed for the landing of British marines, he replied that he was Chief Secretary and in charge of the police and the military, and that no orders should be issued except those signed by him. I refer to the late Sir Henry Parkes. And in the State Parliament, at that time, the late Mr. Crick voiced the sentiment: “ One British bullet, one dead Australian, and - an independent Australia.” At that critical period in the history of Australia we were nearer to the realization of the real sentiment of the people than we have ever been since. Bearing in mind the incidents and the temper of the people of that time, I feel justified in saying that the deportation of one industrialist under this law will unite the workers into an unbreakable force that, will sweep away those who are responsible for this puny effort. If, unhappily, deportations take place, those responsible for them will be brought to realize that they would have been wiser in their day had they moved with more circumspection. They must not think that by these puny efforts they can intimidate a democracy such as we have in Australia. The Government and their supporters have had their empire shibboleths, but they must not think they can take from determined men freedom that, has been won for them.
– Does the honorable senator really think that the Government welcomes the present situation ?
– I think that the Government are conspiring and planning for a situation. There is no real disturbance of the industrial conditions of the Commonwealth at .the present time. A few British ships lie idle in our ports.
– And Senator Guthrie is gloating over the situation politically.
– Honorable senators opposite know that without something of this sort they have not got a dog’s chance.
– Girder ! I remind honorable senators that there are altogether too many interjections.
– I welcome this opportunity of a ‘little preliminary run before -we are called upon to consider this hasty projected legislation, and I take this opportunity to remind honorable senators that this is supposed to be a sedate chamber of review and revision, in which no party feeling should be displayed.
– Or the imputation of base motives to an opposing party.
– There would bo nothing new about that. My party has thrived on the imputation of base motives by its opponents.
– And the honorable senator is now imputing base motives to his political opponents.
– After the recent ‘State elections in Tasmania I can readily understand Senator Payne’s concern about his political future. But I was directing attention to the constitution of this Chamber, which, as I have said, was designed to prevent the passage of hurried and hasty legislation. Although an elective chamber, by its constitution its members have not the same fear of the constituencies as have honorable members of another place. They are called upon to face their, masters, the electors, only once every six years. Consequently votes cast hi respect of measures which may give offence to electors ‘are not always visited by condign punishment because of the change in circumstances. Surely Senator Pearce has forgotten the purpose of this Senate rhen :he asks honorable senators at halfpast 2 o’clock on Friday afternoon to meet again at 1.1 o’clock to-morrow morning. The Government, I understand, advised its supporters from other Stares to cancel their berths, but Senator Pearce did not give me or any other honorable senator on this side the same intimation. It is an extraordinary action for the Government to take without .giving a definite reason. ‘ It is true that there has been some vague suggestion of the introduction of a certain measure to make effective previous legislation aimed .at a certain individual against whose name a black :spot has been placed by the authori ties. To get rid of .him the Government has constituted a board to find him guilty.
– Did he not damn himself 1
– The honorable senator’s interjection suggests that he is one of those members who have been responsible for placing the black spot against the man’s name.
– I should like to do something more tiran that.
– If this man and other industrial leaders have donenothing contrary to the laws of the Commonwealth they should be allowed toremain in peace. It appears, however, that a new law has to be made to punish them. All this is unnecessary, because already we have properly constituted courts to deal with wrong-doers. I warnthe Government that it is travelling a dangerous and slippery path when it seeks to adopt new -methods for the punishment of people in this country by appointing a board - 1 will not dignify it by calling it a court - of partisans to judge the offenders. Do honorable senators think that the people of Australia will stand’ this ? Is it .reasonable to suppose that thestarchamber proceedings of centuriesago can be introduced in Australia?
– A champion of liberty like the honorable senator should not support the limitation of the authority of the Commonwealth Parliament.
– The history .of the struggle for liberty warns us that even Parliaments must >e careful not to allow power to rest entirely in the lands of a Government composed of weak .men. That is the danger as I -see it. I am .a stickler for the established methods of procedure. I know, of course, that many Government supporters, including Senator Guthrie, .are always trying to make the people believe that I am ait companion for “ Jock “ Garden and Tom Walsh. As .a matter of fact, I would rather be in their .company than in the company of, say, Senator Guthrie or Senator Lynch.
– No, you would not.
– I can see that Senator Reid wishes me to bracket him with Senators Guthrie and Lynch. I do so. When I see Senators Lynch and Reid out-heroding Herod : .when I see them outtorying the biggest tory, in their invectives against Labour men, and when I remember that at one time “ Matt.” Reid and “ Pat.” Lynch were as strongly Bolshevik in their sympathies as are Tom Walsh and Johannsen to-day, although the term “ Bolshevik” had not then been coined, the thought comes to me whether in a few years I shall have altered my mental outlook, and have become one of them.
– We do not think so.
– It is always well for a man to- measure himself by other men. When I see such old-time Labour stalwarts as Senators Reid and Lynch sitting where they are to-day ; when I hear them speak as they speak today; when I find that they have not one kindly word for the men who are carrying on the leadership of our industrial organizations -
– Are the men to whom the honorable senator has- referred the- leaders?
– Any man who has been brought into close touch with the industrial struggle must know that the leaders have to bear the whole of the criticism for what the movement does. The men who stand up to that duty, and perform it without flinching, putting up with the sneers and jeers of the thoughtless who do not understand their responsibilities or their difficulties-, who do not know how heavy is the load they have to carry–
– Bathos !
- Senator Pearce wants to be included amongst those who do- know.
– Senator Pearce made more sacrifices than the honorable senator ever made.
– Senator Pearce took care to “ hop in “ for himself at the first chance. He was always one who took jolly fine care to- slip in early, and get a good comfortable position for himself. I think he managed to secure the chairmanship of committees in this Senate in the first Parliament.
– All this has nothing whatever to do with: the question.
– I do not wish, sir, to enter into a controversy with you on that aspect of the matter; but, to my mind, that is the basis of the problem. The question really is, whether this Parliament is to be used to single out and punish two individuals against whom an act has already been passed. These individuals have been “ spotted “ by the conspirators and are to be singled out for punishment by a board on which no man of standing or repute could be found to sit. I believe that one of the members is a public servant, and there are two others from outside the Service. Their records may show them to be very estimable gentlemen. It is my misfortune that I do- not know them. Although I have been in the public life of this country for a considerable time, I had not heard of them before I saw their names mentioned in. connexion with this board. The whole essence of this debate is that that is the intention of the Government-
– The question is whether Parliament should have greater or less power than these men.
– Order ! Senator Gardiner is entitled to be heard in silence.
– I have heard that ruling given so frequently that I am beginning to believe that it is a right which I possess, even though I am. never allowed to exercise it. If you, sir, were to control the proceedings of the Senate in such a way that I could exercise it, I doubt whether I should be able to speak for longer than three minutes. I have stated the position as it appears to me. Three of the men who participated in the struggles of the nineties are Senators Pearce, Lynch, and Reid. Now, they are anxious- that the Senate shall meet on Saturday in order that they may hurry by a day, an hour, or even a shorter period-, the time when they will be able to visit punishment upon men whose one fault is that they are leading unions.
– They are smashing bhe unions.
– I do not care how objectionable their leadership may be to Senators Pearce, Lynch or Reid, to the Age, the- Argus, the Herald, the Daily Telegraph, or any other tory newspaper; they hold their positions in the unions by reason of the operationof democratic principles- that have- no equal anywhere in the world - the votes of the men whom they are leading. They are the mouthpieces of the unions.
– How is Mr. Havelock Wilson elected ?
– He is never elected ; he elects himself.
– Order ! Senator Gardiner is entitled to be heard in silence. I ask honorable senators not to continue their interjections.
– Senator Guthrie wants me to hurry across the seas to find out what Mr. Havelock Wilson is doing. I do not know what section cf thi community he is representing. All I know regarding this struggle is that the Inchcape Shipping Combine is taking i’A a month from the seamen’s earnings.
– And giving a British seaman j£8 10s. a month. Honorable senators opposite stand for that
– What are the sailors on the German ships that come here getting ?
– Honorable senator* opposite want to bring the Australian seamen down to their level.
– Order ! There are too many interjections, and they are likely to lead to disorder. I remind Senator McHugh that it is entirely disorderly to attribute improper motives to any honorable senator.
– They attribute motives to me very frequently.
– I shall protect the honorable senator if statements of that nature are made in reference to him.
– I am sorry if my hasty remarks have created a high feeling. This is merely preliminary ;,o what will happen to-morrow. We shall not mind it then. I hope that we shall have a real test of strength if the Government persists with its desire to deport men merely because they lead unions. It has always struck me that the easiest way to deal with industrial disturbances and disputes with which large bodies of men are concerned is to be quite open, quite candid, and quite fair. If you create in the minds of the seamen the impression that the Government will give them a fair deal, and that it is not out to assist the Inchcape crowd, you will find that they or thf members of any other union will be ns amenable to reason as even the majority of honorable senators. But if, on the other hand, you create in the minds of any body of men the idea that they fire not going to get a fair deal ; if you, in effect, say to them - “ Not only will we not give you a fair deal, bub the men whom you have selected to lead you shall lead you no longer, because we shall pass legislation making us dictators, and enabling us to compel you to appoint Australians as your leaders,” trouble is bound to occur. Imaginary evils are more difficult to deal with than real ones.
– Are not Australians good enough for the honorable senator?
– They are good enough for me, but I prefer to allow men to have the right to elect from their own ranks those whom they consider best fitted to lead them, whether the leaders chosen be Germans, or of any other nationality. If you create in the minds of men, perhaps contrary to your real intention, the impression that the Government is a partisan, that it is out to assist to reduce wages, you do a most unwise thing, which will injure every one. These are considerations that I want to impress upon the Government. Before going any further with this stupidity I want the ‘ Government to realize that we are living in an atmosphere that is entirely different from the atmosphere of ten years ago. We are practically in the atmosphere of 1890, when foolish governments wanted to use force to put unionists out of action. In that atmosphere, anything of an arbitrary nature, anything that looks like coercion or tyranny, is calculated to do an immense amount of injury to this country. Honorable senators may shelter themselves behind shibboleths of Empire, and talk about men being sent back to their own country. To me it is most degrading that the Commonwealth Parliament should attempt, to pass legislation directed against a man who has been domiciled in this country for 32 years, who has married and had children in this country, saying to him, “You’ must in future live in exile, and your Australianborn children must leave Australia’s shores or be without the protection and care of a father.” In the annals of brutality nothing could be much worse than that. Let honorable senators who are perhaps not viewing the matter in other than a party light imagine what a wrench it would be to them if their Australianborn children had to remain in Australia while they were deported and had to eke out an existence in some of the older countries of the world, com- mencing life anew 30 years after they had settled in this country. Men who have worked in Australia for 30 years must have done something to deserve well of it. There is a feeling abroad that these men are disturbers of the peace. Why ? Because their names have appeared in the newspapers ‘ as the mouthpieces of the unions. Supposing, instead of Walsh, it had been Guthrie? At one time there wasin the Seamen’s Union a man named Guthrie. He was a really good fighting man, a man of strong principles, a man who on many occasions took the risk of coming up against the law.
– His namesake in the Senate would have shot him in 1890.
– That is not true.
– Have honorable senators forgotten that whenever coercion has been attempted in this country by any government it has failed 1 Not very long ago the Wade Government in New South Wales leg-ironed strike leaders and sent them to prison. What happened ? There was really a political revolution. Just as the waters of the Red Sea passed over the chariots of . the Egyptians, so did the rising tide of public opinion sweep the Wade Government out of existence politically. For what reason ? Because it had offended against the liberties of the New South Wales people; it had leg-ironed men for the offence of standing up for their principles and their unions. Is this Government proceeding in a similar direction ?
– The New South Wales Government at present is standing up very solidly for the freedom of its citizens.
– Yes, and it is voicing the opinions of the New South Wales people, because it is fresh from the constituencies. It is the New South Wales Government which is responsible for this Government’s change of tactics. Instead of a pliable, tory, subservient, lick-spittling form of government, that will do the bidding of the employing tyrants, there is in New South Wales a government that wants to be furnished with good, sound constitutional reasons before it will help to enforce any objectionable legislation.
– Under the sessional orders it now becomes my duty to put the question, which must be put without debate, “ That the Senate do now adjourn.”
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Mr. President-
– Senator Gardiner.
– I do not propose to continue.
Motion (by Senator Duncan) proposed -
That the Senate do now divide.
– I was on my feet, Mr. President, when you called on Senator Duncan. I desired to exercise my right-
– Order! When I called Senator Gardiner, and he intimated that he did not desire to continue, I followed the practice I have always observed of calling honorable senators alternatively from each side. I called Senator Duncan, who was also on his feet, and I have taken his motion.
– But I desired to speak, and I was on my feet before Senator Duncan.
– The honorable senator must resume his seat. He is out of order.
– But I was on my feet before Senator Duncan was called.
– The honorable senator must respect my ruling. When the President is on his feet it is not in order for the- honorable senator to remain standing. I called the Senate to order, and then called on Senator Gardiner, who intimated that he did not desire to speak. I then called on Senator Duncan. It. is immaterial if a dozen honorable senators rise in their places at the same time. It is the right of the Chair to decide who has the call.
– But I had a right to speak.
– The honorable senator had no right to speak when 1 called on Senator Duncan. He must resume his seat.
– I have my rights as well as you.
– The honorable senator will have every rightto which he is entitled. Unless he resumes his seat, however, he will compel me to take a more severe course.
– I have my rights to protect, and I intend to do so.
– I shall name Senator. Needham for ‘disobeying the Chair.
– I. resume my seat.
– The honorable senator, sir, has resumed his seat.
-In that case I shall not name him. But he ought not to act in this manner.
– Well, you ought to give us a fair go.
– I ask Senator McHugh to withdraw that reflection on the Chair, and to apologise for having made it.
– I withdraw it.
Question - That the Senate do now divide - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . 11
Question so. resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the Senate at its rising adjourn until 11 a.m. to-morrow - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 11
Question, so resolved in. the affirmative.
Senate adjournedat 3.45 . p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 August 1925, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1925/19250828_senate_9_111/>.