9th Parliament · 3rd Session
ThePresident (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m.,and read prayers.
– Can the Minister for Markets and Migration state when it is proposed to bring down a bill for the re-organization of the Institute of Science and Industry on the lines recommended by the conference appointed by the Government for that purpose?
SenatorWILSON- The matter is under consideration, and it is hoped that the bill will be introducedat an early date. .
The following papers were presented : -
Distillation Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1925, No.145.
Dried Fruits Export Control Act - Statement by the Minister for Markets and Migration regarding the operation of the Act, together with copy of the Report of the Dried Fruits Control Board.
Encouragement of Industries in the Commonwealth - Particulars of bounty paidto each industry for the period 1st January, 1901, to 31st August, 1925.
Navigation Act Royal Commission - Memorandum, supplementary to the Reports, by Mr. Frank Anstey, M.P.
Tariff Board’s Reports and Recommendations on - Gin; whisky; eggs, egg pulp and egg albumen; gelatine; matches, wooden safety; yarns, silk and silk mixtures; yarns, woollen; sewing threads and cottons; woollen piece goods; apparel, men’s, boys’ and youths’; apparel, women’s outer garments; apparel, knitted; socks and stockings; cotton piece goods, knitted, in tubular form; caps and sewn hats; engineering industry; electrical engineering industry; galvanized iron; screws for wood, screw hooks, eyes and rings; iron and steel scrap; anchors; zinc shavings; oils, mineral lubricating; oil, linseed; oil, olive; bromide salts; cyanide of potassium and cyanide of sodium; hydrosulphites; Derrisine (a spray for fruit trees) ; parchment, vegetable; pianos and player pianos; lamp ware, including lamp glasses and glassware, n.e.i.; vacuum cleaners ; flint stones.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
If he will make available to senators the Tariff Board’s report on the timber industry?
Delayed Message from s.s. “ Karamu.”
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster- Gen eral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
Brisbane Railway Act, which will meet in the next few days to consider tenders received. 2 and 3. See answer to No. 1.
– On Friday last Senator Lynch asked the following question : -
The Treasurer has now furnished the following information: -
The following were the amounts of bounty paid bythe Government to each industry in the Commonwealth for the purpose of its encouragement since the establishment of Federation to the 31st August. 1925 : -
The above amount is the total paid to all industries for thesame purpose during the same period, as there have been no payments by the Government made to encourage any industry outside the Commonwealth.
Payment of Royalties
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General,upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
– On the 3rd September Senator Gardiner asked the following questions: -
I now desire to inform, the honorable senator that the replies to his questions are as follow: -
– I ask the
Leader of the Senate -
When the Superannuation Bill was under discussion in Parliament, a promise was made by the Government that arrangements would be made to amend the act to provide for the special conditions of the defence service. . . .
Any new provision will date from the 1st July, 1024.”’
And again, on the same date(Hansard, page 5552), did he state,’ when the Superannuation Bill was being discussed - “ We propose to make an amendment which, we understand, will provide for the class referred to by Senator Gardiner?”
– I shall endeavour to get the information for the honorable senator during the afternoon. I have already given instructions for the necessary inquiries to be made, and will see that it is supplied to the honorable senator as soon as it has been obtained.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 9th September (vide page 2318), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– It is possible, under this motion, to discuss at length a variety of matters, but in view of the desire of the Government to have the bill passed as quickly as possible I shall make my remarks very brief.
I invite the attention of the Minister (Senator Pearce) to an article which recently appeared in the Melbourne Herald to the effect that the disease of cancer is making rapid and serious inroads on the health of the Australian people. I suggest that the Government should make provision in the Estimates for a very much larger expenditure on research work than is provided for the current year. The article in question makes the statement that approximately 750,000, or one in every nine, of the present population of . Australia will die of cancer. I have no means of verifying the statement, and I cannot vouch for its accuracy. None of the questions that confront the people of the Commonwealth or of the British Empire is worthy of more concentrated attention than is demanded by the- increase in the number of those who contract cancer. It is quite impossible for me to state the cause of the disease. It may be due to malnutrition, over-eating, the consumption of large quantities of tinned foods, or other causes. Both its cause and its cure have so far baffled the medical profession. I appreciate the work that is being done, and the money that is being spent by the Government in investigating the disease, but having regard to the supreme importance of protecting and conserving the health of our people, a substantially greater sum should be voted annually if it is possible to expend it judiciously. “We should not remain comparatively inactive year after year when such a large percentage of our people are swept away by this dread disease. It must be remembered that for many months, and sometimes years, its victims suffer excruciating agony, and once they contract the disease there is no possibility of their being cured.
During the last financial year the expenditure on old-age and invalid pensions totalled the very respectable sum of £7,146,857. Despite the operation of our “ glorious “ policy of Protection, I find that the revenue from Customs duties especially, and also from excise duties, has considerably increased. Last year the revenue from all sources enabled the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), to close the year’s accounts with a very substantial credit balance. The cost of living has advanced appreciably, and is still rising, and every member of this Parliament favours the proposal to increase the old- age and invalid pensions. I, therefore, disagree with the attitude of the Government in refusing to make the increase applicable to the payments from the 1st July last. It would merely be doing justice to those who find it difficult to make ends meet if the Government made the payment of the increase retrospective.
Whenever additional Customs or excise duties are brought down they take effect immediately. Why should not that principle be applied to the remission of taxation ? It is intended at some future date, which is being kept a close secret by the Government, to remit the entertainments tax on tickets costing up to 2s. 6d.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.
– I suppose I am out of order. I notice that there is an amount of £16,830 for salaries and contingencies in connexion with invalid and old-age pensions.
– The honorable senator will be in order in discussing the administration of the Pensions Department, but when called to order he was dealing with certain remissions of the entertainments tax.
– As I was allowed to continue, I thought I was in order and would be able to make some further comments.
– The honorable senator must not trespass too much upon my ruling.
– I do not wish to do that. Shall I be in order in making a few remarks in regard to the proposal to pay bounties on shale oil and timber, or on bounties generally? If I am not permitted to do so, my remarks will have to be curtailed. It has now become such a common habit to pay bounties that we would be on dangerous ground if we opposed the payment of any bounty. If it is proposed later to pay bounties on practically everything produced, I suppose we shall be quite in order in giving our support.
– We shall at least be in order in voting, as the honorable senator suggests.
– I was particularly interested in the remarks of Senator H. Hays in regard to the Tasmanian timber industry.
– The question of protection does not arise in connexion with the administration of ordinary supply, and cannot be discussed on this motion. There will be opportunities later to discuss the items which the honorable senator has mentioned.
– I am not dealing with protection. I was merely directing attention to the fact that Senator H. Hays made certain comments concerning the timber industry. Do you rule, sir, that I cannot refer to the timber industry?
– I have not ruled in that way. If there is an item in this ‘ measure which has a direct bearing on the timber industry the honorable senator will be able to refer to it more effectively in committee.
– There is no such vote in this bill.
– In the absence of any specific item on which I can discuss the question, perhaps I had better not deal with it at this juncture.
I wish, however, to take advantage of the opportunity to say that I am opposed to the immigration agreement entered into between the Commonwealth and Great Britain. I cannot sec any necessity whatever for it. The agreement has been entered into with a view . to bring more people to this country. One half of the expense so incurred is borne by Great Britain and one half by the Commonwealth. There does not appear to be any reason for such an arrangement when we have in the Commonwealth to-day a considerable number of men who are quite unable to obtain employment. While such conditions exist we are not acting in the interests of the Commonwealth, or in the interests of the migrants who are really being brought here under false pretences.
A great deal of trouble is experienced by electors in New South Wales in ascertaining whether their names are on the Federal roll, and some thousands are fined every month because they have failed to enrol. In a large number of cases this misunderstanding has arisen because electors believe that as their names appear on the State roll they are also on the Federal roll. In some of the States an elector whose name appears on the State roll is also enrolled for Federal purposes, but that does not follow in New South Wales. I believe the New South Wales authorities are to blame to some extent.
– They are entirely to blame.
– Probably the Government has done all that it considers necessary, but if a reminder were sent to the Government of New South Wales, action would possibly be taken and the present inconvenience and annoyance to electors would be obviated.
– When the Minister for Markets and Migration (Senator Wilson) wasabroad some time ago, we were informed that, as a result of his efforts, the marketing of Australian fresh fruit in London would be placed on a more business-like basis. If reports published in the newspapers are correct, that promise has not been realized, as recent cables indicate that some fruit has reached London in a very bad condition. Apparently the strictest supervision has not been exercised over the shipments sent overseas, with the result that low prices have been obtained and Australian fruit has obtained anything but a good advertisement. Knowing that we grow in Australia some of the best fruit on earth, we should see that it finds its way oversea, and, if possible, that it is sold in a good market, and that good prices are obtained for it. It would appear, further, that there is an oversea ring controlling the fruit business. I read recently that the authorities in Australia House had said that the fruit market was controlled by a ring, and a writ was served on them calling upon them to prove the statement. Up to the present, I have not heard whether the case has been proceeded with.
-The court held that the report was privileged.
– The marketing of Australian fruits, in my opinion, is not being controlled as it should he. A Mr. Arndt represented the fruit-growers of New South Wales at the Imperial Fruit-growers’ Conference in London in 1924, and I understand that on his return he presented the Government with a report in which he stated that he had traced the history of a consignment of apples from Tasmania, and that that consignment was not of the very best quality. He speaks of a consignment of Jonathan apples that were bought by a ring at lis. a case. They were resold for 17s. a case, and the buyer at 17s. resold them at 25s.. They were then retailed at lOd. a lb., or 34s. a case. Out of that the grower received ls. 6d. a case, 9s. 6d. being absorbed in middlemen’s charges. Mr. Arndt suggests that a portion of the floor-space of Australia House should be set apart for the storing and marketing of Australian fruit, which should be sold direct to the consumers. If there be space available at that institution, it would be well for. the Government to consider the suggestion seriously. Australia is extremely interested in primary production, and the Government has been approached, not once, but several times, by those engaged in the primary industries, for financial assistance, and different sections of primary producers have been assisted financially. Instead of assisting the fruitgrowers in that way, it would be better for the Government to place at their disposal space in- Australia House that is not being utilized to its full capacity at the present, time. .The disparity between the price the grower receives and the price the consumer pays is too great.
– That obtains in Melbourne.
– It does. Displayed on the railway stations in this city are very catchy and “ meaty “ slogans designed to increase the consumption of fruit. Although it is comforting to be told that if you eat more fruit you will be healthier, the man whose purse is so limited that he is not able to purchase the fruit at the prices charged for it cannot get much comfort out of it. I do not say that the grower receives too much; he receives too little, and the consumer pays too much. Every Government should strive to bring the- producer and the consumer closer together. In the export fruit trade there is an oppor tunity for the Government to do something to assist those men who, according to Mr. Arndt, . speaking in a representative capacity, .are being ex,ploited in both wholesale and retail markets. If anything can be done to prevent that exploitation, the Government should do it as soon as possible.
– In reply to the question raised by Senator J. Grant, the vote for cancer research is part of the annua] vote of £5,000. The Treasurer, in his budget speech, said of that vote-
The subsidy provided by Parliament for the investigation of cancer has been distributed to aid research work at the Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide Universities, and at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories.
We all agree with what Senator Grant has said about the serious ravages of this terrible disease, and anything the Government can do in the direction of finding a remedy will be done. Before the Government decided to make this money available, the best advice obtainable- was sought regarding what could be done in Australia, and the conclusion was reached that all we could do was by assisting research. The universities are the best equipped bodies for that purpose, and the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories can also undertake the work. The amount of money provided is sufficient to enable such research work as can be done in Australia to be done here. If the amount, proves insufficient, the Government will be only too willing tq increase it, if an increased sum can be usefully spent. If we can do anything to check the ravages of this disease we shall render a service, not merely to. Australia, but to humanity.
Regarding, the complaint- about fining people in New South Wales for not enrolling on the Commonwealth Electoral Roll, the Government has repeatedly urged, not the present, but previous New South Wales Governments to adopt an arrangement for a joint State and Commonwealth roll. I shall see that similar representations are made to the present Government in that State. A joint roil has already been adopted in some of the States. I am glad to say that the Western Australian Government has introduced a bill to provide for a joint roll, and when that is carried, the only States that will not have a joint roll will be New South Wales and Queensland.
The door isopen to New South Wales, and no blame in the , matter can be attached to the Commonwealth Government, which wishes to have a joint roll.
The Government is alive to the importance of the question that has been raisedby Senator Findley - that of the marketingof fresh fruits. Legislation has been passed in regard to the marketing of (dried fruits, . and the Minister for Markets and Migration (Senator Wilson) has under consideration in his department at the present time the question of what . action can be taken along similar lines with respect -to fresh fruits. It is an unfortunate circumstance that our fresh fruits ; are not satisfactorily handled overseas, and some legislative action will need to be taken. . I shall bring . the remarks of the honorable (senator under the notice ofmy . honorable colleague. I can assure him that the Minister is . sympathetic, and hopes to’ bring forward a. proposal dealing with the ‘matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
SenatorFINDLEY (Victoria) [3.45].- Under the heading “Territories of the Commonwealth,”I notice, in relation to the Northern Territory, an item of £1,375 as “ subsidy for steamship service (passengers and cargo) between Melbourne and Darwin.” Does the Government subsidize steamships for the conveyance of passengers and cargo?
– Yes. There is a contract with Messrs. Burns Philp & Co.
SenatorFINDLEY.- Is it distinct from the mail subsidy?
– Yes. Nocompany would run a vessel to Darwin for the conveyance of passengers and goods if it were not subsidized. Tenders are invited each year, and the lowest is accepted.
– Is the subsidy to the Western Australian Government for the shipping service between Fremantle and Darwin granted for a similar reason ?
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble : and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
.- I move-
That thebill ; be now read a second time.
Honorable senators are, I think, con- . versant with the principle of thebill, which is one of the most popular measures that can ‘engage the attention of members of this Parliament. It is very short . and authorizes theGovornment to subsidize State Governments on the £1 for £1 basis up to £500,000 for the construction of main roads within the meaning of the act and regulations. But this measure,as compared with the two main roads development bills of previous years, introduces a new principle. Under it the Government proposes to set apart £250,000forallocation among the States,on the same proportional basis as in the case of the grant of . £500,000, but free of any condition in regard tocontributions of an equal amount by the State Governments. Grants from this additional £250, 00 will be made available for the reconditioning and strengthening of portions of ‘existing main roads. The. following statement sets out the position with regard to’ the allocations, commitments, and expenditure under the grants already authorized : -
It will be’ noted, that there is . still . available from the two. previous grants an amount of, approximately, £400,000. However,I invite attention to the fact that practically the . whole amount, namely, £918,540, has been either expended on or actually committed to works in hand. As a result of the grants, the Commonwealth hasbeen, provided -with the following lengths of new roads : - Length of roads cleared, 700 miles; length of roads still to be cleared, 250 miles; length of roads formed and metalled or gravelled, 1,050 miles; length, of roads still to be formed, metalled, or gravelled, 300 miles, representing in all about 2,000 miles of roads cleared, formed, or constructed.’ It. is unnecessary for me to enlarge upon the value of good roads to people living in outside districts. It is essential that they shouldbe provided with reasonable facilitiesThe works ita all t(he States are now being considerably accelerated, owing to a more complete understanding of the Commonwealth Government’s requirements. By the end of the present, financial year it is anticipated that the whole of the present unexpended balances, together with the amount of £1,000,000 to be made available by the Governments of the Commonwealth and the respective States during the current year, and the additional £250,000 which it is proposed to advance free of the condition as to an equal contribution by the States, will have been expended or commitments entered into in respect of it. The proposal to advance to the States this further sum of £250,000 for the reconditioning and strengthening of portions of existing main roads in the various States is, in the opinion of the Government, reasonable in view of the difficulties experienced by some of the States in providing funds for main roads as well as roads under the Federal scheme. This money is not to be used for filling up “pot holes” and the payment of casual labour work. The Government,, realizing the benefits derived from the works already carried out, will consider, at a later stage, the desirability of extending the operations and scope of the act, with the object of presenting to the Senate a more comprehensive scheme of road construction. I submit the bill for the favorable consideration of the Senate, in the interests especially of good roads in the outback districts.
.- The Minister stated that the bill was a popular measure. There is no doubt about that. The Government, embarrassed by its riches, is extremely anxious to placate its constituents by doing something that will meet with their approval. Whilst road construction is essential to the development of Australia, it is doubtful whether it is wise for the Commonwealth Government to enter this domain.
Till recently, I was under the impression that road construction was the responsibility of municipalities. We all know that at frequent intervals these local governing bodies in the various States approach State Governments seeking, and very often receiving, financial assistance to carry out road construction work, lt is only recently that a departure has been made from the established custom, and grants have been made available by the Commonwealth Government.
– Is the honorable senator in opposition to the platform of his party on this question ?
– I hope we shall not lose sight of the main principle in the discussion on this measure. I take it that every honorable senator, whether he be supporting the Government or opposed to it, believes in the construction and maintenance of good roads. We cannot expect to make progress unless we get away from the primitive conditions that obtain in many parts of this and the other States. Good roads are essential. We need not go very far to discover bad roads. Within a short distance of this building there are roads which a few years ago were considered good enough for vehicular traffic, but which are not now fit for present-day heavy traffic. They are really in a shocking state. In places not far distant from Melbourne the dust from the roads is so bad that persons in proximity to heavy wagons have either to submit to a more or less suffocating dust bath, or take shelter and wait until the dust clouds pass by. Health is paramount to wealth. We cannot expect to have a healthy community if, owing to faulty roads in our cities or inland towns, we make no attempt to get rid of this germ-laden dust that is constantly floating about whenever the north wind blows.
– I do not worry much about the dust, but I do about the mud.
– The honorable senator says that he does not worry much about germ-laden dust that contaminates our foodstuffs and is responsible for so much sickness. We should jealously guard the health and comfort of the people. No work is more important than the construction and maintenance nf roads. Within a short distance of Melbourne I have seen children going to school in the winter along roads on which there were pools of water and slush, and it was impossible for them to enter the school without getting their feet damp, and so endangering their health.
– Does the honorable senator contemplate the spending of this money in Melbourne?
– It is proposed to spend it in different States, and Melbourne is the capital city of VictoriaHow are we to know that some of it will not be spent within the metropolitan area? Are we to understand that .it must all be spent in country towns?
– Not in capital cities.
– Roads are just as important within a metropolitan area as they are in country districts.
– This grant is for country districts.
– If the Govern- . ment is interested in the health and comfort of the people it should not confine its assistance to roads in country towns. Apart from the £1 for £1 subsidy there is to be a grant of £250,000 without that condition attached. Clause 7 refers to the proposed reconditioning or strengthening of existing main roads. Some main roads run through many country towns. I am glad to see that provision in the bill, because there are roads in the country which are in a very bad state, and an opportunity will thus be afforded to municipalities to place them in good order. The expense of that work now is much greater than it was a few years ago. This policy marks a distinct departure by the Federal legislature, which is entering a domain that was not previously entered. Once we establish the precedent of distributing our surpluses in this way, we shall have similar applications from those who are engaged in other spheres of activity. I believe that the money which was voted in past years has been well spent, and that our roads are in a much better condition than they would have been without that assistance. This proposed vote will provide a greater opportunity for progress in main roads development, and will enable some municipalities to recondition roads that have got into a state of disrepair because of the lack of the finance necessary to place them in proper order.
– I was rather’ surprised to hear Senator
Findley disagree with the principle of the bill, in view of the emphasis that last’ night was laid upon the defence plank of the Labour platform, which provides for the construction and maintenance of main roads. I am well aware of the necessity for having good roads, but I do not think that we should surrender, as we appear to be doing, our power to control the expenditure of funds that are contributed by the taxpayers of the Commonwealth. If the Commonwealth Government desires to have money spent on roads it should, as quickly as possible, evacuate the field of direct taxa-. tion which was entered as a war measure, and should allow the States to make their own arrangements in regard to the construction of roads. My reason for adopting that view is that I am convinced that a great deal of this money is wasted, and that we do not get anything like value for the expenditure. We are departing from the safeguard which was provided at the initiation of this policy, and nothing but disaster can result. I doubt whether there is a single reliable authority on roads in Australia. The Melbourne City Engineer is one of the leading engineers in the Commonwealth. He has visited not only America, but also many of the cities in Great Britain and on the Continent, and no doubt he is very well grounded in the work of constructing roads.
– The City Engineer in Adelaide has not long returned from a world tour, and some of the best roads in Australia are now being constructed in South Australia.
– Few engineers of shires have had the opportunity to gain experience in the construction of roads that are suited to present-day traffic needs. If honorable senators will study the reports of Mr. Morton and others who have had that opportunity they will find that even in America, where for a long time experiments have been made in an endeavour to construct roads that will resist modern traffic, they have not reached the stage when they can say with certainty that any particular class of road will bear the strain that is likely to be imposed upon it. If experts are still wrestling with the problem, of what use is it for us to hand over very large sums to municipal engineers who have had no experience and no opportunity to gain a knowledge- of the requirements of a modern road? I should rather see a larger sum made available to then Institute of Science and Industry, or some similar body, to enable it to experiment and distribute its results for the benefit of. engineers who are confronted . with this problem.
.- The Treasurer (Dr. Earl Page) would have acted wisely had he proposed to reduce the income tax to the extent of £1,000,000, rather than collect that sum. and then hand . it ‘back for use in a way that will increase the. value of the land that is held . by wealthy land-owners of the Commonwealth. In New South. Wales there is in operation an excellent system that follows strictly the canons of taxation laid down by Henry George. The city of Sydney iscalled upon to pay¼d. in the £1, and the shires and municipalities½d. in the £1 on, the unimproved’ capital value of the. land in., their areas., the revenue thus derived being utilized in the construction, of roads,. In addition, the shires and municipalities levy rates of 5d., 6d,, and even higher amounts, to raise the revenue necessary to keep their roads in a passable condition. Why should the Treasurer . of the Commonwealth, . impose taxation by means of Customs duties, -excise duties, probate duties,’ entertainments tax and income tax, and.’ collect . at enormous expense revenue that in many cases is handed back” to the.very people who should in the first instance have paid the taxation locally? It is undoubtedly an extremely objectionable method of financing the construction of roadways. One of the main reasons why. many of our main roads are in a deplorable . condition is the exceptionally high ‘.cost, of cement, . which makes the use of- that material, . almost prohibitive. In the. vicinity of Melbourne there is- an ample supply of blue metal almost alongside the roads, but in other parts of the Commonwealth, good- stone cannot be. obtained’ ‘within many miles of where it is required. In such circumstances there is no opportunity, of constructing a permanent roadway unless concrete is used, which is . entirely beyond the financial resources, of. many local governing bodies. Instead’of voting from the Consolidated Revenue the amount it is now proposed to grant to” the States, it would be better to carry’, it forward to next year and to reduce the income tax.
SenatorJ. B.. Hayes.- Why not reduce thelandtax?
– Commonwealth land taxation is. imposed only on estates the unimproved value of which exceeds £5,000.
– Would the honorable senator be in favour of amending that?
– That is one’ of the legacies handed down to us by gentlemen who once occupied seats at Labour conferences,, but- who are now on the opposite side of the chamber. That is the present policy of the Government, but it is . a wonder Federal income taxation has not been, entirely abolished.
– How are the roads in New South Wales maintained?
– Money is obtained by the municipalities, almost exclusively by a -straight-out land values tax of 6d. or 7dL in the £1. The main roads in New South Wales are under the control of a roads board, which derives its revenue from½d. in the £1 tax imposed by the municipalities, and possibly with the assistance of a State subsidy.
– There would not be any good roads in New South Wales unless’ the Government had constructed them.
– No. There is always a great reluctance on the part of people to tax themselves. Some of the wealthiest shires in New South Wales are the most persistent beggars, and are’ always approaching the Treasurer for subsidies, whilst shires whose finances, are not in such a buoyant state are honorable enough to raise nearly all the revenue they require. Instead of taking the amount now proposed from the Consolidated Revenue, the Government ought to inform the States that the work of road construction and maintenance is no part of its duty. At the inception of Federation it was never contemplated that the Federal Parliament would be asked to collect money and hand it over to the States in this form. It is a matter of one authority collecting the money and another spending it.
– Is not the honorable’ senator in favour of the proposal embodied in the bill?
– No; I’ am strongly opposed to it. The principle is entirely wrong. The proper course would be to retain all the revenue received from the Customs and to remit the Federal income tax, and allow . the States to collect a similar amount.
– And abolish the. per capita payments?
– Yes. We should dispense with the Federal income tax. The State should collect taxation upon incomes. If we were to do that it would show clearly and conclusively what arrant humbugs’ these gentlemen are who never tire of proclaiming themselves as being in favour of local industries, because it would then be clearly shown that while we derive the bulk of our revenue through the Customs House:, goods made in lowwage foreign protectionist countries are still coming to Australia. Instead of paying this money to the. States we should inform them that the proper course for them to adopt is to impose a straightout land values tax of1d. in the £1, as is being done in some instances. Such an impost on the land values shown in 1914 would produce about £2,000,000 per year.
– Ourland tax in Queensland is already too high.
– But the land tax can be passed on.
– It can not.
– I am glad to have that admission. I have foundit very difficult- tomake some people understand that it cannot be passed on. On the land values shown in 1914, a straightout tax of1d’, in the £1 would produce about £2,000,000’. I supposethat the value of the land in the Commonwealth could now be set down at £1,000,000,000, and if the Commonwealth or the States were to impose a tax of1d. in the £1. such a tax would produce at least £4,000,000. The total amount spent on roads- in the Commonwealth does not exceed £15,000,000 to £20,000,000 a year. Whenever the construction of a road, is commenced the land in the vicinity immediately increases in value to aremarkable extent ; but- those who benefit by increased land values do not contribute to the extent they should. Instead, of those who derive the benefit contributing persons’ who attend picture: shows are taxed. The only proper method to adopt is to: discontinue the- imposition of a Federal income tax, abolish the per capita payments, and allow the States which needthe money to raise it for themselves.
– Idid notanticipate any opposition being offered to the bill, and I am sur prised that one honorable senator should suggest that the Commonwealth should not interest itself in the construction or maintenance of our national- highways. The departure made by the Government two years ago has met with the general approval of the wholeof the people. The assistance given to the States’ by means of a Federal road grant has been very much appreciated,, and. the proposal under this bill to increasethe amount from. £500,000, which was paid last year, to £750,000, I am. sure will meet with, general approval. It is now proposed to allow £250,000 of this amount to be used, for reconditioning and strengthening main, roads, and that money thus made available will be of great assistance to- Tasmania. With other’ honorable senators, I have maderepresentations to the Minister controlling the- department in regard to the urgency of recognizing how essential it is that a portion of the grant should be made available for reconstruction purposes in order that roads- may be capable of carrying traffic which is now much heavier than when they were firstconstructed. Senator Findley and Senator J.. Grant have suggested that municipalities in rural areas should bear the whole of the cost of maintaining the roads under their control, but apparently they have no knowledge of the actual conditions existing in many parts of- Australia.. In. the municipality in Tasmania in which I live a local rate of1s. 8d. in the £1 on the annual value is imposed, which is spent solely on the maintenance of our roads.
– How much is it on the unimproved value ?
– I have not worked it out on that basis.
– It is equivalent to only1d. in the £1.
-I have not.an opportunity to test the accuracy of the honorable- senator’s figures at this juncture, but I know a rate of1s. 8d. in the £1 on. the annual value would, considerably exceed the amount he mentions. For some time we have been asking the Minister for Works’ and Railways (Mr.Hill) to- reduce> by one half the minimum amount to be spent on one road, so that States such as Tasmania may obtain the utmost benefit. I trust the Minister will; confer with the Minister for Works and Railways with a view to seeing if the regulations- madeunder this- measure cannot be amended in order to give effect to our wishes. If that is done, one of the greatest difficulties we have in Tasmania in obtaining the best results from the expenditure cf this money will be removed.
– This matter was so thoroughly threshed out a few nights ago that I do not purpose to deal with it at any great length now, but I wish to register my disagreement with Senator J. Grant and Senator Elliott, who said that they did not think that the Government should provide this assistance. I have said before; and I repeat now, that the Government could not have evolved a better scheme for distributing its surplus revenue than by employing it to build better roads for the people of Australia. When Senator Elliott said that he did not think there ‘ was a reliable road-builder in Australia, his opinion was endorsed by some honorable senators.
– The statement was not quite so broad as that. He said there was not a road expert in Australia who knew everything about road construction.
– At least, he said there were not many of them, and he gave me to understand that our engineers were not so up-to-date in road-making its the engineers in other parts of the world. Owing to the more extensive use during the past few years of petrol-driven vehicles for transporting goods, . a new system of road-making has come into use all over the world. I am distinctly of opinion that our road engineers know as much about road-making as any one else; but their trouble at the present time is not want of knowledge, but want of cash. Many of the States, in the matter of roadmaking, have tried to make bricks without straw. We have built roads in Tasmania for from £800 to £1,000 a mile, and an engineer employed in road-making in England spoke to me of a road that cost £42,000 a mile. When the difference in the two amounts is considered, it ~s easy to realize that there must be a difference in the quality of the roads. If we can get the money, we can build the roads, and the more money we spend the better will be the roads we build. I welcome, as Senator Payne did, the Government’s intention of complying with our joint request to apply portion of this grant to reconditioning and strengthening the main roads. The Government has provided £250,000 this year for that pur pose, and I am sorry that it was not able to increase the amount to £500,000. Notwithstanding all that has been said on the subject, the conditions applying to the old grant of £500.000 are unaltered. I realize that they can be altered under the regulations. If I thought they could be altered in the bill, I should take steps to test the opinion of the Senate on the subject. I believe the Government is sympathetic, and I hope that when it frames the regulations under which the money will be spent, it will try to meet the views of honorable senators. In allocating this money, the Government should take into consideration the different conditions existing in the different States. It is impossible to give satisfaction by sitting down in Melbourne and formulating a road policy for the whole of Australia. In some States a road may run for 100 miles through dry country, with a poor rainfall; but the conditions are quite different in Victoria or Tasmania. A man accustomed to making roads in a dry State would be lost in Tasmania. The road engineers and Ministers for Works m the different States should have a louder voice in determining how the money should be spent. The local authorities, by their long experience, know what suits their States best, and the Government will get better value for the money if it will take more notice of them. After all, what we want is to get the best value for the money, and to render the best service to the people. I am quite satisfied that if the Government will confer with the road engineers of each of the States the money will be spent to much better advantage. The larger States, when they spend money on roads, want to do an appreciable amount of work, and open up new country, and it may seem absurd to them to suggest that less than £1,000 should be spent on one road. They look upon such work as belonging to a shire council. There is something in their point of view, but in a small State a large amount of good work can be done “by an expenditure of even less than £500 on a road. The other night I cited roads with dangerous curves and other disabilities that could be removed for less than £500. I hope that the Minister will instruct his engineers to confer more frequently with the engineers of the States. I accompanied a deputation to the Minister the other day, and when I referred to two parallel metalled roads 3 or 4 miles apart, the engineers said that one of them was not necessary. But owing to the nature of the country we are compelled to have those two roads. We have hundreds of miles of metalled roads running parallel to one another . I know places where one could stand on a metalled road and fire a rifle bullet to another metalled road, but owing to the mountainous nature of the country and the ravines lying between, it would be necessary to travel many miles to get. from one road to the other. The contour of the country has compelled Tasmania to spend huge sums on its roads. We have 7,000 or 8,000 miles of metalled roads, and surely with all our experience wo know better than the Federal authorities where to spend the money most advantageously.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 (Additional payments for reconditioning or strengthening).
– If in reconditioning or reconstructing a road a bridge in a bad state of repair is met with, will the replacement of the bridge be paid for out of the amount provided? I understand that it probably would, and I should like an assurance from the Minister to that effect.
– That is so.
– What does the Government mean by main roads, and who decides what is. or is not, a main road ?
– The main roads are usually gazetted.
– By the States, or the Commonwealth?
-By the States.
Senator C. W. GRANT (Tasmania) (4.49]. - I should like to know whether the request of Senator , T. B. Hayes, for the reduction of the minimum amount permitted to be spent, on one road from £1,000 to £500, will be complied with.
– I am informed that the reduction is made in every State in special cases.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 7 and 8 agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
.- I move-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till 3. p.m. on a’ date to be fixed by the President, which date shall be notified to each senator by telegram or letter.
On present appearances, it looks as if the Senate could safely adjourn for four or five weeks. Of the fourteen measures before another place, nine or ten have already passed this chamber, and the others are of such a character that it will be some time before they are ready for presentation here. But in these times of stress it may be necessary for honorable senators to be called together at any time, and, therefore, I am submitting the motion in this form. I trust, however, that it will not be necessary for the President to summon the Senate to meet at an earlier date than at least a month from to-day.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– (By leave.) - I move -
That leave of absence be granted to every member of the Senate from the determination of the sitting this day to the day on which the Senate next meats.
This motion is necessary to. safeguard the position of absent senators.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.54 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 September 1925, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1925/19250910_senate_9_111/>.