10th Parliament · 1st Session
ThePresident (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I should like to know if the Minister representing the Prime Minister has any information with regard to the payment of the miners recently employed in the Protheroe Lead Mine, Northampton, Western Australia, whose wages, owing to some trouble, have not been paid?
– On the 6th October, Senator Needham discussed the position of certain employees in the Protheroe Lead Mine, Northampton, Western Australia, who had not received wages due to them owing to the Commonwealth Bank having taken steps to realize the company’s assets, which were placed under the control of the bank as security for advances made by the bank. The bank made advances to the Fremantle Trading Company Limited, against the security of their property in Western Australia, and the company obtained further advances on the representation that certain stocks of lead were held by them. The bank, finding that the stocks of lead were not so held, declined to make further advances, and the company closed down its mines. The AuditorGeneral, in his report for the financial year 1925-1926, stated that in connexion with theaudit of the Commonwealth Bank attention was drawn to the account of the Fremantle Trading Company Limited, which was granted advances up to £22,000, representing not more than 80 per cent. of the copper and lead contents of stocks on hand. Investigations by the bank showed that the statements of the quantities of stocks held by the bank had been falsified during the past two years. There are also two overdrawn accounts for £5,000 and £3,500 respectively, which are guaranteed by the State Government. Acting under its powers, the bank has ap pointed a receiver, and steps are being taken to realize on the company’s assets. The manager of the company has been charged with having made false statements. The suggestion that the payment of wages due should be made by the bank has been considered by the board of directors. The bank has already suffered loss to the extent of several thousand pounds, and to voluntarily assume the additional liability suggested would increase those losses by approximately £2,000. How ever much inclined the directors may have been to remove the loss sustained by the employees through the dishonesty of the manager of the company, they were prevented from so doing by the advice of their solicitors that such a payment would be a misuse of the bank’s funds. The incident is most regrettable, and is one in which the Commonwealth Government has no power to intervene. It is one of the many cases where the innocent suffer through the dishonesty of the guilty.
Layout ofcity: Sir John Sulmans Advice. - Alleged Faulty Construction.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.On the 14th October Senator Elliott asked me the following questions,- upon notice -
Has the Minister’s attention been directed to the article by Sir John Sulman which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of Tuesday last?
Are the facts therein stated correct, and, if so, why was the very important and valuable advice of Sir John Sulman not carried into effect ?
Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the extremely faulty drainage system of thu Kurrajong Hotel site. Who is the officer responsible, and will the Minister arrange for the matter to be fully investigated by the Commonwealth Health Authorities and the
Public Works Department, in view of the great danger to the health of members occupying rooms there?
Is the Minister aware that the roof structure enforced upon lessees of the Civic Centre business block provides for a large expanse of sheet iron, and that the excessive expansion and contraction of this material, owing to climatic conditions in Canberra, renders such design so faulty that it cannot be made waterproof?
Will the Minister have this matter thoroughly investigated by the Public Works Department, the health authorities, and representatives of the leaseholders, with a view to some remedy being devised and the payment of proper compensation to the lessees effected?
The Minister for Home and Territories has now furnished the following answers to these questions: -
This matterwas dealt with by a previous Government, but the files disclose that the Government of the day considered the advice of Sir John Sulman and of others, and decided not to adopt that of Sir John Sulman on the ground that it would have prejudiced the principles of the city plan.
No. The Federal Capital Commission has reported that the drainage system of the Hotel Kurrajong site is neither extremely faulty nor faulty.
No. The restrictions as to design imposed by the commission did not include any feature which introduced any special difficulty in the way of making the roofs watertight. “ Large expanses of sheet iron “ were not required, all materials other than tiles merely needing the approval of the commission, and the actual detail design and method of construction being strictly a matter for the lessees’ own architects.
No. Defects which may have revealed themselves in any of the roofs at Civic Centre are entirely a matter for the attention of the lessees themselves and their own architects.
Tenders fob Expropriated Properties.
What are the names and addresses of the successful tenderers for the third group of expropriated properties in New Guinea?
What was the upset price, and what price was realized for each property.
The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are: -
– On the 13th October Senator Chapman asked the following questions, upon notice: -
I am now able to supply the honorable Senator with the following answers : -
Senator REID presented the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, together with minutes of evidence, relating to the proposed establishment of an automatic telephone exchange at Oakleigh, Victoria.
– Has the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate yet received the information ordered by the Senate about a month ago in relation to the cost of the Development and Migration Commission?
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.The information has not yet been received.
The following papers were presented. -
International Economic Conference held at
Geneva, May, 1927 - Report of the Australian Delegation.
New Guinea - Expropriated Properties - List of Tenderers for Third Group, Upset Prices, and Prices realized.
Estimated Expenditure out of Revenue for 1927-28 as compared with actual expenditure in 1921-22; items included in Loan Estimates 1927-28, provided for out of Revenue in 1921-22; and other comparisons of expenditure.
Air Navigation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1927, No. 118.
Seat of Government Administration Act - Notice of intention to vary the Plan of Layout of the City of Canberra and its Environs, dated 15th September, 1927.
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1927, Nos. 112, 114, and 119.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act - Statement re Pensions for the twelve months ended 30th June, 1927.
National Debt Sinking Fund Act - National Debt Commission - Fourth Annual Report, year ended 30th June, 1927.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1927, No. 111.
New Guinea Act - Ordinances of 1927 -
No. 27. - Dangerous Drugs.
No. 28. - Coroners.
No. 29. - District Courts.
No. 30.- Supply (No. 2, 1927-28).
No. 31. - Expropriation.
No. 32. - Commissioner of Inquiry.
Norfolk Island Act - Ordinances of 1927 -
No. 3. - Coroners.
Northern Australia Act -
Central Australia - Ordinances of 1927 -
No.6. - Interpretation.
No. 7. - Mining.
No. 11. - Medical. North Australia - Ordinances of 1927 -
No. 6 - Interpretation.
No. 7. - Mining.
No. 11. - Medical.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Australia Act -
Central Australia - Ordinances of 1927 - No. 8. - Surveyors.
North Australia - Ordinances of 1927 - No. 8. - Surveyors.
Public Service Act - Appointments - Department of -
Health- M. E. Downer; K. B. Hope.
Postmaster-General. - F. G. Burton. Quarantine Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1927, No. 117.
Losses on Housing.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice: -
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.The answers are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers are as follow : -
In order to present an effective comparison of the expenditure for the two years, the expenditure for 1921-22 has been analysed on the basis of the accounts for1927-28, the result being as follows : -
In . 1921-22, Post Office works, including land, buildings, and construction and extension of telegraphs and telephones, &c, were provided for, partly from Loan Fund, and partly from revenue. The expenditure from Loan Fund was £847,792, and the expenditure from revenue was £934,221, making a total of £1,722,013. Since that year a programme of adequate development has been entered upon, and in 1927-28 there is provision in the loan estimates for an expenditure of £4.024,500.
Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What is the retail price of sugar delivered to householders in London?
– Fourpence per lb., according to latest advice dated 15th September, 1927.
Bill presented by Senator Sir William Glasgow and read a first time.
Bill presented by Senator McLachlan andread a first time.
Report from Joint Committee.
– As the subject matter of the report by the Joint Committee on Electoral Law and Procedure has been before the Senate in the form of a bill to amend the Electoral
Act and is now being considered by another place, I do not think any purpose would be served by continuing the debate on the motion standing in my name for the adoption of the report. I therefore move -
That Order of the Day, No. 3 Electoral Law and Procedure, be discharged from the notice paper.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Assent to the following bills re ported : -
Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill, 1927-28
Loan Bill (No. 2) 1927.
Bill received from the Houseof Representatives.
Suspension op Standing Orders.
[ 3.21]. - I move -
That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the bill being passed through all its 3tages without delay.
If this motion is agreed to, it is intended to take only my second-reading speech to-day, and to enable the Leader of the Opposition to continue the debate to-morrow.
Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia [3.22]. - I cannot agree to this motion, notwithstanding the intimation of the Minister that it is not proposed to-day to go beyond his secondreading speech. It is a travesty of parliamentary procedure for the Senate to adjourn for a fortnight, and then immediately on its reassembling, for a motion of this kind to be submitted. It is not right that we should be plunged into a second-reading debate on a highly contentious measure until we have had time to peruse it. In connexion with a bill of such first-rate importance, it is probable that there will be considerable discussion. That the measure has been before another place for two or three weeks is not a sufficient reason for departing from the ordinary procedure. There is no reason why the Minister’s secondreading speech should not be postponed until to-morrow. That would give honorable senators an opportunity to consider the bill and to come prepared to discuss it to-morrow. If this motion is agreed to, the Minister will probably desire to follow the same procedure in connexion with the Commonwealth Housing Bill, a measure closely allied to that now before us. It would be as well to abolish our Standing Orders entirely, as to do what the Minister proposes. What is the reason for the hurry? Even with the other measures which have been foreshadowed this afternoon the notice paper will not be crowded. We are still only at the beginning of the session, and it is not fair to the Senate that at this stage there should be any departure from the ordinary procedure. The measure with which we are asked to deal immediately was. not rushed through another place: its consideration there took at least a fortnight. The Minister should withdraw the motion and be content to deal with this measure in the usual way.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Defence) [3.25]. - One is amused at the assumed auger of the honorable senator. He is aware that in order to meet the convenience of honorable senators the Senate adjourned for a fortnight.
– We could not do otherwise; there was nothing for us to do.
– The honorable senator complains that a motion to enable this bill to be dealt with promptly has been moved, and also that he has not had an opportunity to consider its provisions. I remind him that this bill was before another place for three weeks.
– It was amended there.
– Its main provisions were not amended. The bill was fully discussed in another place, and no doubt the honorable senator is well aware of its provisions. I askthe Senate to agree to the motion. I repeat that it is intended to go no further to-day than my second-reading speech. That will give honorable senators the opportunity to consider the bill before discussion on it is resumed to-morrow.
Question - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir William Glasgow), read a first time.
[3.33].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
In submitting the bill for the consideration of honorable senators, I desire to review shortly the action taken by the present Government to extend and improve the functions of the Commonwealth Bank. In 1924 the act was amended by placing the bank under the control of a board of directors, by giving the bank control of the note issue, and by enabling it to operate as a bank of reserve, discount and exchange. These amendments enabled the bank, in its altered form, to do valuable work for the people of Australia. Exchange and currency troubles have been removed and the sale of our surplus production has been facilitated. A further amendment in 1925 permitted the bank to establish a rural credits department to provide short-term credits to assist in the regular marketing of primary products, particularly those that are exported. The progress made by this department has been marked. There was a turnover of £8,000,000 for last year, being three times the amount for the previous year. Over twenty primary products have been brought within the provisions of the act, and there is no doubt that in future the usefulness of the rural credits department will increase. It is now proposed to use the savings bank founds to assist persons of small means to provide homes for themselves. The Government has, therefore, examined the whole of the functions of the Commonwealth Bank to see if the administration could be improved to give effect to this policy. The functions of a central bank are to act as a bank of reserve, and to stand behind the other financial institutions of the country. The bank’s funds should, therefore, be as liquid as possible so that they may be always available in times of need. Amongst other things, the Commonwealth Bank Act provides that the funds associated with the note issue can only be invested in certain securities. Trading bills of more than 120 days’ currency cannot be accepted. The trading banks which have to provide accommodation for business people must of necessity have their funds as liquid as possible. The rural credits department of the Commonwealth Bank has been established to allow shortperiod credits to be given to permit of the best methods of marketing our primary products being utilized. These credits are short-term investments, because the advances are limited to a year’s duration. Savings bank money, however, is used mostly for long-term investments. The receipt of a regular recurring income enables the bank to make advances at a lower rate of interest than is possible for the other branches of the Commonwealth Bank. It is considered, therefore, that there should be separate administration of the savings bank department, because of the difference between its operation and outlook and those of the other two departments of the bank. The proposed administration of the Federal housing scheme as part of the savings bank department of the Commonwealth Bank was discussed with the directors with. the result that the board passed the following resolution: -
This hoard feels that to accept the responsibility of the administration of the Federal Government’s bousing scheme as part of the functions of the savings bank department would be overweighting the work falling upon the institution : and further that such functions are in no way related to the general bunking business or to that of a note issue bank or a reserve bank, and the board is, therefore, of the opinion that, under the circumstances, it would be wiser to accept the proposal of the Government to separate the savings bank department from the bank for the purpose of enabling the currying out of the housing scheme. It is better, in the interests of the bank as a whole, that the Government should take the necessary steps to bring about the separation proposed, and the board will be glad to assist and advise the Government to the best of its ability as to the method of effecting the changes necessary to carry this out.
The Government, therefore, proposes in this bill to separate entirely the administration of the- two branches, but a liaison is to be established between the two by providing that one of the commissioners of the savings bank shall also be a member of the board of directors of the Commonwealth Bank. The bill provides that the savings bank is to be governed by a commission of three, of whom one will be a permanent full-time commissioner, and the executive officer of the institution, and two part-time members. As one of the commissioners will be a member of the board of directors of the Commonwealth Bank, co-operation and mutual understanding between the two institutions will be possible. No commissioner may be a director of other banks except the Commonwealth Bank. Further, the members of the commission may be removed from office at any time for bankruptcy, incapacity, or any other reason. Two commissioners will form a quorum. Power is given for the appointment of the Commonwealth Bank to act as agent for carrying out the savings bank work of the commission. Thus the existing facilities and machinery will be preserved and the economical working of the institution will be assured. In Queensland and Tasmania the State Government savings banks have been transferred, by agreement, to the Commonwealth Bank, and under this bill the rights of these States as set out in the agreements are preserved. The profits of the savings bank will be divided in the same manner as the profits of the Commonwealth Bank are divided at present, namely, half will be paid into the bank’s reserve funds, and half into the national debt sinking fund. About S5 per cent, of the deposits in the savings bank department of the Commonwealth Bank have been invested in Commonwealth, State Government and municipal securities. From twelve to thirteen per cent., represents cash, and practically nothing has been invested in other securities. The bill provides that the Commonwealth Savings Bank may invest one-half of all increases in deposit over the total amount of the deposits existing at the commencement of the Commonwealth Housing Act, and one-fourth of all repayments of loans from savings bank moneys, in making advances for the purchase or erection of dwelling houses and for the discharge of mortgages on dwelling houses. Moneys may also be advanced for the erection of warehouse or storage facilities intended for the warehousing or storage of primary products, including the erectionof plant for treatment to ensure their preservation and preparation for marketing. Further, the savings bank may invest its funds in debentures issued by the Commonwealth Bank for the purposes of its rural credits department, and may also place its funds on fixed deposit with the Commonwealth Bank. In the Commonwealth Bank Rural Credits Act 1925, provision was not made for the building of warehouses, &c, but under this bill it will be possible for the savings bank to invest its funds in this manner. The Commonwealth has received several requests that assistance should be given in this direction, and some time ago received the following resolution from a conference of State Ministers of Agriculture: -
That the Commonwealth Government be asked to give early consideration to the widening of the scope of the Commonwealth rural credits scheme to provide finances on terms and conditions more suitable to marketing boards and kindred associations.
This resolution was amplified by certain particulars which were furnished by the Premier of South Australia, and which included the following statement : -
Limitation of the advances to produce precludes the utilization of the rural credits scheme for storage and manufacturing plants. A maize pool may require grain silos. A cooperative dairying group may require to build a factory. Hay and chaff producers may need storage sheds. Very frequently these facilities are essential factors to successful marketing, yet the provisions of the rural credits scheme arc not available for these.
This bill and the Commonwealth Housing Bill are supplementary to each other. The Housing Bill provides that the Treasurer may borrow moneys in order to grant to the savings bank such a sum as. with the amount provided from other sources, will make available a total of £20.000.000 for housing.
Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.
Bill received from House of Representatives.
Suspension of Standing Orders.
Motion (by Senator Sir William Glasgow) proposed -
That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the bill being passed through all its stages -without delay.
– This measure is complementary to the Commonwealth Bank, Savings Bank, Bill. I can merely repeat the protest which I uttered when it was proposed to suspend the Standing and Sessional Orders to allow the Minister (Senator Glasgow) to move a motion for the second reading of that bill. This legislation is of vast importance to the Commonwealth. Even the brief statement which was made by the Minister on the bank bill indicated how far reaching would be the effect of that measure should it become law. A housing scheme is embodied in the policy which the Government enunciated at the last elections. Surely it is deserving of greater consideration than, apparently it is the intention of the Minister to give to it. Having embarked upon the second reading of one of these two complementary measures he could very well have allowed the consideration of the second to remain in abeyance until the next day of sitting. I shall oppose the motion.
– Probably no question to-day is of more pressing importance than that of housing. In asking us to suspend the Standing Orders to enable this bill, which proposes to give effect to the Government’s housing scheme, to be put through all its stages without delay, the Minister is not treating the Senate fairly. Iex pect that I shall be in order in dealing now to some extent; with the existing housing problem.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands). - The honorable senator will not be in order in doing so.
– I wish to point out in a general way that the question is so important that this measure ought not to be disposed of in the summary manner indicated by the Minister. Housing, not only in Australia, but also throughout the civilized world, is daily becoming of more and more importance. It is unfair that, at the end of a fortnight’s recess, the Senate should be asked to suspend its Standing Orders at least twice in an afternoon, when such a course is not essential. From my reading of the reports of the debates that already have taken place on this measure, I have come to the conclusion that it is not the intention of the Government to purchase one sheet of galvanized iron or one tile.
– The question before the Senate is the suspension of the Standing Orders. The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing housing.
– I am endeavouring to show that, although the question is of paramount importance, the Government does not propose to engage in any way inhouse building. The Minister has not advanced a single reason in justification of this proposal to suspend the Standing Orders. Had he proposed to abolish the time limit that now applies to the speeches which are made by honorable senators, such an action would have been worthy of both him and the Senate.
SenatorFindley. - We should have some information to guide us.
– We have been told that this bill is complementary to another, and that they are closely interwoven. One has as its object, the amendment of the Commonwealth Bank Act; whilst the other proposes in a vague, uncertain manner, to make provision for housing. Why does not the Minister explain the reason for the introduction of these measures? The Senate is entitled to a greater amount of respect than is being paid to it. This action constitutes a disparagement of this chamber and will strengthen the hands of those who favour its abolition. If we continue along these lines for even a limited period that agitation, which at present is not very strong, will increase in volume and the Senate will pass out of existence. It will have deserved such a fate if it is prepared to allow its Standing Orders to be swept on one side without reason. I trust that the Minister will withdraw the motion and afford us ample time and opportunity to discuss both bills.
[3.50] . - Honorable senators in the course of their remarks have said that the Government is hurrying this measure through the Senate. Nothing of the sort is being done. All that I intend to do is to move the second reading of the bill, after which honorable senators will have ample opportunity to discuss it for any length of time they choose. I point out, however, that as the Commonwealth Bank Savings Bank Bill and the Housing Bill are correlated, it is essential that they should be submitted to the Senate together.
– But that is no reason for asking for the suspension of the Standing Orders.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.Probably not in the case of this bill, but the Standing Orders having been suspended toenable me to move the second reading of the Savings Bank Bill, it is essential that the second reading of the Housing Bill should also be moved to-day. Honorable senators are fully aware that the Government has no desire to prevent discussion, or to hurry these bills through the Senate.
Question - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir William Glasgow), read a first time.
£3.57]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is complementary to the Commonwealth Bank Savings Bank Bill. That measure proposes to authorize the Commonwealth Savings Bank to advance moneys for the purchase or erection of dwelling houses, and for the discharge of mortgages on dwelling houses, while the bill now submitted defines the manner in which those powers are to be exercised. It is common knowledge that, as the result of the suspension of building operations during the war, there was a shortage of housing accommodation in all the belligerent countries at the end of the war. That shortage was so serious that in practically all cases steps were taken by the governments of the countries concerned to overcome it. Various Schemes were adopted by the British Government, and up to the end of September, 1926, 411,791 houses had been built under these schemes at a total cost of £300,000,000. Similar action was also taken in France, Belgium, and Germany. The State Governments of Australia have been alive to this shortage of housing accommodation, and have done a great deal in the direction of assisting individuals to acquire their own homes. Notwithstanding their efforts, however, the census of 1921 disclosed the fact that 48 per cent, of the homes in Australia were occupied by persons who paid rent and did not own their own homes. There are several reasons for this large percentage of tenants. In the first place, it is largely due to the fact that the provision made under existing schemes for the purchase of houses already erected is very limited, the main object apparently being to build new houses. Another reason is the fact that the maximum amount obtainable under the existing schemes is comparatively small, varying in the different States from £650 to £1,000. A third cause is due to the benefit of these schemes being limited to persons in receipt of a comparatively small income, usually under £400 per annum. It must be admitted, therefore, that, whilst the
States have done, and are doing, excellent work, their field of operations is somewhat limited. The Commonwealth Government considers that the Commonwealth can render valuable service to the community by providing the necessary funds and making the necessary arrangements for the extension of the benefits of these schemes to people who are unable, under present conditions, to purchase their own homes. Honorable senators will agree, I think, that there are many people in receipt of more than £400 per annum, who are nevertheless unable to purchase their own homes without assistance. The man in the worst position is the man earning from £400 to £700 per annum, the nature of whose occupation requires him to appear well dressed, and to live under more or less expensive social conditions. Such a man cannot avail himself of any of, the various State housing schemes whereby, on the payment of from 7 to 9 per cent, per annum, not only the interest on the house, but also the amortization of the whole debt is effected. If he attempts to borrow in the open market, he must pay a substantial deposit, and face heavy expenditure in the shape of commission on loans and legal fees for preparation and discharges of mortgages. The Government considers it desirable that the benefits of the various housing schemes should be extended to men in this position, and it is hoped that the effect of this measure will be to enable any person whose income does not exceed £12 per week to become the owner of his own home. Investigation discloses that 60 per cent, of the Commonwealth and States Savings Banks funds are invested in local government, State and Commonwealth securities, and only 11.38 per cent, in advances for homes and shops. So far as the amount of money made available for home building is concerned, the Commonwealth Savings Bank compares unfavorably with the State institutions, 85 per cent, of its funds being held in Government securities. As against this it must not be overlooked that in providing homes for soldiers the Commonwealth Government has given considerable assistance to the building efforts of the State authorities. Notwithstanding what has already been done, the Government considers that a much larger proportion of the funds of the Commonwealth Savings Bank, which represent the savings of the people, might reasonably be used in providing homes in town and countrv at low rates of interest. I propose now to give a brief description of the housing schemes in force in the various States.
The Government Savings Bank of New South Wales makes advances for homes under the following conditions: - Loans are granted for erecting homes or improving or enlarging dwellings. The dwelling must be occupied by the borrower. Advances are not made to purchase or pay off mortgages on houses ulrendv erected. No advance is made to any person who is already the owner of a dwelling house, or whose wife or husband owns such property, except to enlarge or improve the house. The maximum amount advanced is £750, and the advance must not exceed three-fourths of the value of the securitv. The maximum periods of advances are: - For brick, concrete, or stone, 30 years; for wooden buildings, 20 years.
The State Savings Bank of Victoria is operating the following schemes-: - Credit Foncier loans, Credit Foncier loans to ex-soldiers, advances under the- Housing Act, and ordinary mortgage loans. Credit Foncier loans are repayable by quarterly instalments of fixed amount, including interest at 6 per cent. per annum. The maximum period of the loan is 18i years. Loans are made for the purchase or erection of dwellings or to pay off liabilities. The loans must be not less than £50 nor more than £1,000. Not more than twothirds of the value of the property offered as security can be lent; but there is authority to lend an additional 10 per cent. where the applicant is not in receipt of an income of more than £400 a year, and does not own another dwelling house. The total advance at this higher percentage, however, must not exceed £650, and an advance of this nature is made only where the house has been erected within the preceding six months, or where a house is about to be erected. In the case of Credit Foncier loans to ex-soldiers, the rate of interest is 5¾ per cent., and the maximum period of each loan is22¼ years. Not more than three-fourths of the value of the property offered as security can be lent. This three-fourths, however, may be increased by 10 per cent. if the total sum advanced does not exceed £650. The other conditions are similar to those of the ordinary Credit Foncier loans. Dwelling houses, according to the bank’s standard plans and specifications, may be erected for applicants under the Housing Act. Each purchaser for whom a house is erected must personally occupy the house. The applicant must not own a dwelling house, and must not be in receipt of an income exceeding £400 a year. The commissioners may, however, build for any farmer, whether eligible or not under the above clause, a dwelling for the accommodation of farm labourers employed by him. The cost of the house and land, including drainage, sewerage, outbuildings, &c, and all other costs, must not exceed £850 for a wooden house, or £950 far a brick, stone, or concrete house. The applicant must make a deposit of at least £50, and the loan is repayable by fixed monthlv instalments.
In Queensland advances cannot be granted either under the system of Workers’ Dwellings or under the Workers’ Homes Act for the purchase of homes, the intention in both cases being to provide for the erection of new houses or for the extension of houses already erected. The following details apply to workers’ dwellings : - The applicant for a loan - (a) must own a piece of land; (b) must not already own a house;(c) must not have an income of more than £416 per annum, and must undertake that the proposed house, when erected, will be used as a home for himself. Loans may be granted up to80 per cent, of the value of the security. The maximum loan is £800; but, generally speaking a loan in excess of £600 will be approved only under exceptional circumstances. Interest is charged at the rate of 5 per cent. per annum. Loans are repayable in twenty years by monthly instalments, covering interest at 5 per cent. and an instalment towards reduction of principal. The following details relate to the Workers’ Homes Act: In suitable localities Crown land is provided by the Government. If suitable Crown land is not available, the Government will consider the purchase of an approved freehold and convert it into perpetual leasehold. The annual rent charged for the land is 3 per cent, of its capital value. Homes may be erected on such land ; but, as a general rule, an application for the erection of a home estimated to cost more than £600 will not be approved. An applicant must deposit
Tj per cent, of the capital cost. The balance of the purchase money is payable over a period not exceeding 25 years, and interest is charged at the rate of 5 per cent, per annum. The monthly instalment includes a sum sufficient to cover: - (1) purchase money and interest; (2) fire insurance: (3) external painting; (4) repairs, except as stated below; (5) a proportionate amount of general expenses; (6) rent of the land; and (7) life insurance. Repairs not exceeding £2, and repairs made necessary by neglect, &c, must be effected by the purchaser. The purchaser must insure his life for an amount to cover the unpaid balance of purchase money. An applicant must be one employed in work of any kind, who is not the owner of a house, whose income after making certain allowances, does not exceed £260 per annum, and who intends to use the house as a home for himself.
The State Bank of South Australia under the Advances for Homes Act is authorized to make advances to persons who are in receipt of incomes not exceeding £450 per annum. Advances are made up to sex-sevenths of the valuation of the security; but the margin between the advance and the valuation is reduced in the. case of n person having two children under the age of sixteen, who is required to make a deposit of only £25. The purpose of an advance is: - (1) to purchase land and build a dwelling house; (2) to build or enlarge a dwelling house on any land held; (3) to purchase a house and land; and (4) to discharge any mortgage. The maximum amount of advance is £700 on which interest is charged at 6^ per cent, per annum, subject to a rebate of onethirteenth, thereby reducing the amount of interest to 6 per cent., if the full amount is paid on or before the eighth of the month. The interest is payable monthly, together with a portion of the principal by uniform instalments. The terms of the loans are limited to : - Stone or brick, or stone and brick, 42 years; ordinary concrete, ferro concrete, reinforced concrete, or other similar material, 30 years, and ordinary wood and iron, or wood, 20 years. Until the expiration of ten years, a borrower is not entitled to a discharge of the mortgage over the security held by the board. The Savings Bank of South Australia arranges mortgage loans on the security of city and suburban homes or shops with dwellings. Loans may be not less than £100 nor more than £S00, and a loan representing not more than two-thirds of the value of property will be made. A borrower is required to make quarterly repayments in reduction of the loan until it is reduced to about one-half of the amount of valuation. These quarterly repayments must be at the rate of 12s. 6d. for each £100 borrowed, and interest on the amount outstanding must be paid quarterly at the rate of 7 per cent, per annum. When the balance of the loan has been reduced to about one-half of the valuation, the quarterly repayments of principal may cease> and the loan may be continued at the discretion of the trustees as an ordinary loan from the bank at the lowest current rate of interest, with right to repay the whole or part on any quarter day.
The Workers’ Home Board is the only public authority operating in Western Australia under which persons can acquire or build homes. The Savings Bank funds were lent on mortgage, but this system, was discontinued several years ago. The Minister may acquire or purchase land or land and buildings, and may cause dwelling houses to be erected or convert any building into dwelling houses, provided that the cost does not in the case of any dwelling house, exceed £650. Land on which a dwelling house is erected is let under a perpetual lease subject to reappraisement every 20 years, and the rent “payable is 3 per cent, per annum on the appraisement. The Capital cost of the dwelling house, with interest at 5 per cent, per annum, or such other rate as is prescribed, must be paid by the lessees by instalments over a period of 30 years, or such other period a*s the Minister directs. Every applicant, who must “deposit £10, must be a worker, and must not own any dwelling house. The board may, with the approval of the Minister, make an advance to any worker to enable him to erect a dwelling house on his holding for himself; or purchase a dwelling house and land as a home for himself - but purchasing approvals are extremely rare - or discharge any mortgage. The maximum amount which may be advanced is £650, and advances may be for the following maximum periods : - Houses built of stone or brick, or stone and brick, 30 years; ordinary concrete, ferro concrete, reinforced concrete, or other similar material, 20 years; or ordinary wood and iron, or wood, 15 years. The percentage of the total value which may be advanced is descretionary, but. at present advances may be made up to 90 per cent, of the value of the property. Interest at the rate of 7 per cent, per annum is charged, subject to a rebate to 6£ per cent, if instalments are paid not later than the seventh day after due date. The interest on new advances may be at such rate per cent, as is prescribed for the time being. Advances can be made only to persons in receipt of not more than £400 per annum.
The Tasmanian State Government’s Agricultural Bank has in operation a scheme for home building. The Hobart Savings Bank also makes advances up to two-thirds for home building purposes, which are repayable by easy instalments, but there is no fixed scheme. Details of the Tasmanian Government’s Agricultural Bank scheme are as follow: - An eligible person is one who is married or has dependants, and whose income does not exceed £350 a year, of which not more than £20 represents income from property. In the case of a person who has three or more dependants, however, the limit of income is £400 a year. The advance must be for the erection of a dwelling-house, or enlarging or completing a dwelling-house. Under the act the trustees have power to erect and sell dwelling-houses up to a total value of £750 for wood and £850 for brick, including the value of the land; but an advance must not exceed nine-tenths of the total value of the dwelling-house and land. There is legal authority to make advances for purchasing a house and land or to discharge a mortgage or to build a house; but apparently this authority is in abeyance for the present. Every advance, together with interest, must be repaid in either quarterly or monthly equal instalments. The rate of interest is 7 per cent.
– In which State is that rate of interest charged?
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.In Tasmania. A borrower who pays his instalment on or before the 14th of the month in which it falls due, is entitled to a rebate of interest to the extent of $ per cent, per annum. The maximum periods for the repayment of advances are - (a) 42 years for stone, brick or concrete; (b) 30 years for Tasmanian hardwood; and (c) 20 years for other wood. The Hobart Savings Bank makes advances both for erection and purchase of homes. The maximum amount of the advance is not fixed; but the bank will not advance more than two-thirds of the value of the security. The maximum period of the advance is five years, and interest is charged at the rate of 6 per cent, per annum.
It will be seen from this summary that, generally speaking, tha maximum advance under the various State schemes has been fixed at less than £1,000, and that assistance is confined to persons whose incomes do not exceed £450. The Commonwealth Government considers that the assistance should, be extended to persons having incomes up to £600 per annum, and that the maximum amount of advance should be increased to £1,800. There is every reason why financial assistance should be granted on moderate terms to enable people receiving proportionately high incomes to acquire their own homes. Hitherto certain factors have militated against the granting of assistance for the acquirement of houses already built ; but as the necessity for this limitation no longer remains, the Government considers that much can be done to assist people to buy homes already erected. Under the Government’s proposals, a loan will not be made to any person already owning a house except for the purpose of discharging an existing mortgage. A loan will not be made to any person who has already received a loan, or whose wife or husband has received a loan. The granting of a loan for the erection of a house will be conditional upon the borrower residing in the home. Moneys will not be advanced to any authority for the purpose of homebuilding unless that authority extends the benefits of its existing schemes to persons in receipt of an income not exceeding £12 per week. Under the scheme the savings bank funds and the moneys borrowed by the Commonwealth for this purpose may also be used for the erection of warehouses or storage facilities intended for the warehousing or storage of primary produce. Local government bodies and other authorities who have hitherto received loans from the Commonwealth Savings Bank will not have this privilege withdrawn. It is proposed that up to 50 per cent, of the increase in deposits, and up to 25 per cent, of maturing investments when such investments are not renewed will be made available for housing. The right of the Governments of Queensland and Tasmania to share in the increase of the deposits will at the same time be preserved. The Commonwealth will raise loans so that with other funds a total of £20,000,000 will be available for housing. “The scheme, of course, includes in its scope the Federal Capital Territory. On all loans, made by the Treasury to the Commonwealth Savings Bank, the bank will be required to make a contribution to the National Debt Sinking Fund, of at least 10s. per cent, per annum of the amount of the loan. These contributions will continue for such a period as is necessary to redeem the loan, allowing compound interest at the rate of 5 per cent, per annum on the accumulated contributions. It is provided that the National Debt Commission shall apply the bank’s contributions to the redemption of the Commonwealth public debt, and, under the provisions of the National Debt Sinking Fund Act, that the Treasurer shall pay into the Sinking Fund 5 per cent, per annum on the amount of such debt redeemed. The bank’s sinking fund will thus have accumulating power at the rate of 5 per cent, per annum compound interest, and if the contributions are limited to 10s. per cent, per annum on the amount of the loan, the bank’s liability will be extinguished in 50 years. During this period the bank will continue to pay interest on the total amount of the loan at the appropriate rate, and the amount so received will be a set-off to the Commonwealth’s contribution of 5 per cent, per annum on debt redeemed.
– If the present Government remains in office much longer the Commonwealth Bank will cease to function.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.There is no doubt that the present Government will remain in office, and that in the future the operations of the Commonwealth Bank will extend as they have in the past under the present Administration. It is not proposed that the savings bank shall engage in house building, the intention being that it shall make the funds available through State or Territorial administrations, State savings banks, and municipalities. The additional funds thus provided will augment the money already available, and will be applicable, to existing housing schemes. Provision is made also for the building of a better class of house, and advances will be made up to 90 per cent, of the value of the property, with a maximum advance of £1,800. The success of the proposed scheme will depend upon the co-operation of the home-building authorities. It will be necessary for the States to amend their laws to enable those authorities to comply with the conditions laid down by the Commonwealth. Until the States take this action, the Commonwealth scheme cannot operate ; but there is every indication that the States will fall into line, and enable the Commonwealth proposals to operate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 5th October (vide page 199), on motion by Senator Sir William Glasgow -
That the papers be printed.
– In resuming the debate on this motion honorable senators find themselves in a most invidious position. Since the motion was submitted by the Minister (Senator Glasgow) some weeks ago the debate has been adjourned from time to time, until all public interest, and, indeed, the interest of Parliament in it has to a large extent been lost. It is unfortunate that it is not possible for Parliament wholeheartedly and enthusiastically to discuss the budget as soon as it is presented. It is of far greater importance than almost any bill that could be submitted. The budget statement contains a record of the Commonwealth’s financial transactions for the year; it reveals the public revenue and expenditure and also the manner in which the Government has looked after the financial interests of the country. The importance of the budget warrants its most careful consideration by this Parliament. Yet it is only now, after it has been discussed by the press of Australia and by various organizations, and public interest in it has waned, that we have the opportunity to discuss it. Those few honorable senators who have discussed the budget are to be congratulated ; but, for the most part, we are, as it were, on the tail of the hunt, and nothing that we may now say can have much effect. Although in view of what has been written and spoken about the budget by others, it is extremely difficult for honorable senators now to find anything new in it to discuss, it is their duty to express their views as to the manner in which the Government has handled the country’s finances during the last twelve months, and to bring forward matters of importance which may properly be discussed at this stage. While the Government is to be congratulated on what it has accomplished in certain directions and on some of its proposals, I cannot burst into raptures at the thought of a huge surplus. The existence of a big surplus at the end of a financial year is not so much a matter for congratulation as for consideration whether too much has not been taken from the taxpayers for the purposes of government.
– Is not the surplus largely due to people buying goods from overseas ?
– And largely luxuries at that.
– It is a moot point whether the country’s financial position is not the result of the policy of borrowing heavily from overseas indulged in by not only this Government, but also other governments.
– Does the honorable senator think that people purchase what they do not want?
– To a great extent they do. Had the financial year ended with only a small surplus we should have greater reason to be satisfied that only a sufficient sum had been taken from the taxpayers to meet legitimate governmental expenditure. It must be remembered that money taken from the public by means of taxes, and applied to the purposes of government, is money that might be used to develop our industries, thus providing further employment for our people and new avenues for making capital, resulting in an increase of the country’s prosperity.
– Is it not very difficult to estimate Customs revenue?
– It is. But the Treasurer in budgeting for a decrease in the revenue from Customs taxation acted in opposition to the advice of financial and economic authorities. That the Customs revenue, instead of decreasing, has expanded tremendously, indicates that the national policy of protection is not effective.
– It is effective, in that it protects the land-owners against further taxation. That is the purpose behind the policy.
– The object of the tariff is to give protection to Australian manufacturers. But while our Customs revenue is considerably on the increase it is evident either that the tariff is inadequate, or that some other reason exists for this country being flooded with imported goods.
– Our protective policy fails to protect.
– That is so. Taking all the circumstances into consideration, the existence of a huge surplus is not a matter for rejoicing.
– What would the honorable senator have said if the year’s transactions had resulted iu a deficit?
– A large surplus is almost as bad as a deficit. I should like to see a small surplus at the end of each year; but not the large surplus revealed in the Treasurer’s statement.
– The major portion of the increased revenue is from Customs - revenue which the honorable senatorhas admitted it is difficult to estimate.
– Even so, there is no justification for such a gross error in estimating the Customs revenue as the Treasurer’s statement reveals. I hope that his estimate for the current financial year will be more accurate. Realizing the probability of the revenue from Customs increasing during the current financial year, the Government has budgeted accordingly. We must remember, however, that conditions throughout the world are changing rapidly. The existence of huge surpluses from time to time has caused a strong public agitation in favour of a reduction in taxation. The taxpayers of Australia feel that too much is taken from them for the purposes of government. At first, as was pointed out by Senator Needham, the Government was not enthusiastic about acceding to the public request that taxation be reduced. But the public clamour became so great that, finally, it recognized that it would be wise to yield. It was only because of the public clamour, and not. from any inherent desire to do so, that the Government finally consented to a reduction in taxation.
– That is a ridiculous statement.
– It is not. I could quote from the speeches of Ministers in which they have pointed out that the commitments of the country were so great that it would be impossible to carry on with a reduced income. Noav the Government announces a reduction in taxation. What has caused the change and enabled the Government to see the light? The reason is that it feels that it can no longer withstand the strong public opinion in favour of reduced taxation.
– There have been reductions in income tax almost every year.
– That is true; and I have always supported those reductions.
– Taxes relinquishedby the Commonwealth are reimposedby the States.
– That has nothing to do with us; it is a matter between the State Governments and their taxpayers. Our duty is to see that the taxpayers are relieved of every unnecesary burden. The Government has yielded to the popular demand, and has brought in proposals for a further reduction in taxation. I congratulate the Ministry on its action.
– Was there a public demand for a reduction in taxation?
– There was a demand from one end of Australia to the other, from chambers of manufactures, chambers of commerce, and other organizations.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the Government would not have reduced taxation but for that demand?
– Possibly the Government would have brought in proposals to lighten the burden. All I am emphasizing is that not long ago members of the Ministry protested that, because of the huge Government commitments, it would not be possible to accede to “the demand.
– Does the honorable senator say that Ministers made that statement?
– Yes. On one occasion the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) in reply to representations made by a deputation, expressed himself as not being entirely in sympathy with a request for a reduction in taxation.
– Was that prior to the end of the financial year?
– That makes all the difference.
– I agree to a certain extent with Senator Needham’s comments on certain phases of our public expenditure. But the honorable senator dealt only in generalities ; he made no suggestion as to the directionin which economies could be effected. If Senator Needham or any other honorable senator made a definite demand for reduced expenditure inrespect of any of the items in the budget, there would be a clamour from one end of Australia to the other. The honorable senator, being an old. parliamentarian, knew very well that it was much safer to suggest in a general way that public expenditure under this Government was abnormally heavy, and to follow it up with a plea for a substantial reduction. From an examination of the budget figures I cannot suggest any direction in which a reduction could have been effected. It might have been possible to do that had the finances been presented in a different form. Unfortunately, owing to the manner in which they are prepared, it is impossible to make a comparison between the expenditure in the last financial year and preceding years. Other honorable senators have also experienced that difficulty. Senator Millen found it necessary to ask certain questions in order to obtain more detailed information, with the object of making a comparison. The budget should have been presented in such a way as to make our financial position perfectly clear to every one. Under the present system of budgeting it is impossible to do that. I hope that this phase of the financial statement will be considered in the preparation of the next budget. Even if public expenditure has increased, as was suggested by Senator Needham, whilst the Government is taking credit for having reduced our outgoings, we should consider the financial position of the Commonwealth generally in relation to the position of the States. It is not difficult to imagine what would have been the state of our finances if in recent years Commonwealth administration had been in the hands of the Labour party.’
– We are dealing with federal finances. The honorable senator should confine his remarks to Commonwealth affairs.
– Commonwealth and State finance are so interwoven that it is almost impossible to consider the financial position of the Commonwealth without referring also to State finances. Recently the Commonwealth entered into an agreement with the States, because it was realized that the financial future of Australia is largely dependent upon the co-operation of the Commonwealth and the States.
– In Western Australia a Labour Government is now engaged in cleaning up the mess made by a Liberal Government.
– All I have to say, by way of reply to Senator Needham, is that if the position in Western Australia is one-fiftieth as bad as the position is in New South Wales, where a Labour Government has been in power for some considerable time, then God help Western Australia. I speak with some feeling on this matter, because New South Wales is the State which I have the honour, in company with other honorable senators, to represent in this chamber. Since 50 per cent, of the Commonwealth’s revenue comes from that State, if its finances are in a chaotic condition - and that certainly is the position to-day - it may be necessary for the Federal Government to go to its aid. New South Wales, so we understand, is now likely to become a party to the financial agreement between the Commonwealth and the States. Whilst this is a matter for congratulation, we must not forget that under this arrangement the Commonwealth is becoming responsible for additional heavy obligations, in that it is virtually in the position of a guarantor for moneys borrowed on behalf of the States. We are assuming, in the eyes of lending authorities overseas, a definite responsibility for the future financial stability of the States. There is no guarantee that even the financial arrangement at which we have been able to arrive will be observed in its entirety by all or any of the States. If a State should break away because of its inability to procure from the Commonwealth, or through its agency, the amount of loan money it required, and endeavoured to make its own arrangements, the Commonwealth would be at least morally bound to endorse whatever arrangements were made, just as to-day it is morally, if not actually, bound in that way. It would be quite impossible for the Commonwealth to stand by, should a State make default in its payments - we should have to come to its assistance. If, by failing to observe economy, the States should be unable to finance their operations, the- Commonwealth would be under a heavy obligation. I am not suggesting that that is an eventuality, either now or in the immediate future. But one must pay heed tothe position in which some of the States now find themselves. New South Wales for example, although it has had tha “blessing” of a Labour Government for only two years, is staggering almost on the brink of financial ruin.
– What about Queensland after twelve years of Labour rule?
– In view of the experience in Queensland, it is both amazing and amusing to be told by honorable senators opposite that this Government has tackled the problems of the nation in a wrong way, and that the Labour party would have done very much better if it had had the guidance of our destinies.
– The Labour party handled things well whilst it was in office.
– The Labour party then was altogether different from what it is now. There is no guarantee that it would act in a similar manner today. Senator Needham has condemned borrowing overseas.
– Extensive borrowing overseas.
– Evidently the honorable senator believes that there should be extensive borrowing within the Commonwealth. I point out to him that, locally, the financial resources are limited, and extensive borrowing here would interfere considerably with the internal development of the country. Money is not lying idle in the banks waiting for somebody to make use of it, as the honorable senator has suggested. Those institutions are merely clearing houses. That which enters them to-day leaves them to-morrow. It is possible to, pounce on large sums of idle money and apply them to governmental enterprises. What is borrowed from banks or other financial institutions, or individuals, for the purposes of government, is diverted from other avenues in which it might be used to much greater advantage for the benefit of the community generally. Senator Needham may have justification for his condemnation of extensive borrowing overseas. If he enlarged the scope of his indictment, and advocated a policy of living within our income so far as that was possible, I should probably be with him. But if, on the other hand, his denunciation of borrowing applies only to loan markets that are outside Australia, the remedy he wishes to apply would be worse than the evil he sets out to cure.
I come now to the remarks of my honorable friend, Senator Grant. Whenever he rises to speak in the Senate it is safe to assume that his attention will be directed to either one or both of two subjects. I refer to land value taxation and the tariff. Speaking to the motion for the printing of the budget papers my honorable friend dealt extensively with both of those subjects. He also supported his leader’s criticism of borrowing overseas, and condemned the Government for having borrowed in New York instead of in London. In the course of those remarks he pointed out that we on this side had criticized the Queensland Labour Government for having done exactly what this Government had done. The two cases are not parallel. The Queensland Government went on the New York market because the financial authorities in Great Britain felt that it had dishonoured an obligation and therefore was not entitled to further accommodation from them.
– In what way did it dishonour an obligation?
– By levying certain taxation. In New York that government paid an enormously high rate of interest. The Commonwealth Government, on the other hand, was advised by the financial authorities in Great Britain that the money it required was not available in that country and that, on account of the changing conditions in the world, it would be advisable to seek accommodation in New York.
– What is the difference between the American and the British money-lender?
– If my honorable friend cannot see any difference between them I am sorry for him. To me a debt to a citizen of Great Britain, and through him, to that country, is altogether different from a debt to a foreigner and a foreign country.
– Why did the Commonwealth Government go to America ?
– On account of the conditions that existed in Great Britain, the requirements of the Australian Government could not be met there.
– Money was not available there for the Queensland Government when it required it.
– When the Commonwealth Government applied it was advised by financial authorities to seek accommodation in New York because Great Britain needed all the money that was available in that country to meet its obligations and provide for its own requirements. When Theodore and Company went on the New York market plenty of money was available in Great Britain: but the financial authorities there refused to lend it because they considered that those gentlemen had refused to honour their obligations. Senator Grant believes that provision for all ordinary expenditure should be made by the imposition of land value taxation.
– That is a very good idea. The honorable senator thinks that all expenditure should be defrayed out of the revenue which is derived from Customs taxation.
– The honorable senator is always hunting the unfortunate land-owner, with the big gun of land value taxation. We on this side refuse to regard the land-owner as a public enemy. We look upon him as the backbone of the country and one who, generally speaking, does more than any other citizen to promote the advancement of Australia. We are certainly not likely to act upon the advice of the honorable senator, to derive all our public revenues from the taxation of farmers and other land-owners.
-We condemn, not the land-owner, but the land monopolist.
– The party that is represented in this chamber by the Leader of the Opposition, is opposed to the freehold system of land tenure and favours the leasehold system. It is a notorious fact, however, that it never avails itself of the opportunity to apply the principle to itself. Queensland has had a Labour Government for many years. The Government, and the whole of the labour organizations in that State, ostensibly pin their faith to the leasehold system. In reality, however, they have no time for it. I have in my hand a booklet which has been compiled and issued by the Queensland Intelligence and Tourist Bureau. It is entitled “ Terse Information about Queensland, the Queen State of the Australian Com monwealth “ : - “ Queries and Replies.” On page 40 we are given information respecting an official who is known as the State public curator. This is what we’ read : -
Who is the State public curator?
He is a State trustee, who has been entrusted by Parliament with very wide powers, and is in a position to considerably simplify legal processes and reduce legal and other charges to a minimum.
Has the State public curator money to lend?
Yes, when there is a credit in his common fund, he can lend money on first mortgage on freehold property (town or country) at the lowest rates of interest, with liberal terms for the repayment of thu principal.
It will be noted that he is permitted to lend money, not on property which is held under the precious leasehold principle, but on freehold property. I shall cite another instance from the glorious State which for so long has been under the domination of the party to whom my honorable friend belongs. In the City of Brisbane there is a site which, for effectiveness, stands out above all others. It is that which is occupied by the Brisbane Trades Hall. It overlooks the city, and is one which any person would like to possess. Originally it was portion of a public park. The labour unions of Queensland felt that they must have their trades hall in a position from which they would be able to view the whole of the city, and on which everybody would be able to view them. They therefore made representations to the Government to have this site granted to them. The Government was willing to give the Trades Hall Council the site for the erection of a trades hall, but the council insisted upon having the freehold, and eventually got from the Queensland . nofreehold Government the freehold of this most valuable site in Brisbane.
– And it built its very fine hall by contract.
– Yes ; the hall was built under the contract system, which Labour also condemns. Our friends, opposite trenchantly condemn the Government for many things, but when we come to examine them we find that there is no consistency in them and that the things they strongly advocate here and urge the Government to adopt they will not themselves practice or adopt.
There is not an honorable senator opposite who would erect his own home on a leasehold lot. Even Senator Grant, who has talked so largely about the virtues of the leasehold system, sees to it that the land on which his houses are built is freehold. With these facts in our minds surely we are within the bounds of courtesy in pleading with honorable senators to be a little more honest and sincere in their criticisms of the Government and in the suggestions they make for the administration of the affairs of Australia.
In the course of his speech and, subsequently, in an interjection a little while ago, Senator Grant said that the landowners of Australia are not paying sufficient towards the public revenue, and that they should be made to pay more. He said also that the land-owners of New South Wales were not contributing anything in the shape of land tax. I find on reference to page 333 of the Commonwealth Tear-Book, No. 19, that the Commonwealth land tax collected in New South Wales in the year 1924-25 was £1,172,317. And on page 367 of the same Tear-Booh I find that the amount of land tax collected by the New South Wales State Government for the same period was £2,046,168. The total land tax thus paid by the land-owners of New South Wales to the Commonwealth and State authorities for the year 1924-25 was £3,218,485 - an immense amount of money; yet Senator Grant would try to make us believe that the land-owners in New South Wales are not paying anything for the opportunities they derive from the land they own. A statement like that is not fair. The main’ point for consideration is not whether the landowners of the Commonwealth or of the State of New South Wales are paying sufficient towards the revenue, but whether they are not paying too much considering the disadvantages under which they have to labour. I believe the time will come when it will be necessary for us to reconsider our attitude towards the Commonwealth land tax, leaving it to the States to work out their own salvation in that respect.
Other honorable senators opposite have made statements which they consider damaging to the Government and Government supporters. For instance, Senator
Graham attacked the Government because it had not already brought in a scheme for childhood endowment. He said that there .were over one million children in Australia under the age of fourteen years whose parents were in receipt of salaries under £300 a year. Had the honorable senator taken the trouble to make himself acquainted with the facts, he would have known that the Commonwealth Parliament has refrained from legislating upon this subject at the request of the Labour Governments of the States. The whole matter came up for consideration at a Premiers’ conference held not long ago in Sydney, at which all the State Premiers and State Treasurers, with the exception of Mr. Lang of New South Wales, asked the Commonwealth Government to appoint a royal commission to inquire into the whole question of childhood endowment. In accordance with that request a royal commission has been appointed, and I have no doubt that when its recommendations have been considered by the Government legislation will be introduced dealing with this very important subject. There is no reason whatever for Senator Graham or any one else to criticize the Government, alleging that it has failed to carry out its platform pledges in regard to childhood endowment.
I regret that because of the way in which the budget has been presented it has not been possible for me to consider it properly and compare it with past financial statements, so that I might show exactly what progress financially the Commonwealth has made. I trust that in the future wiser methods will be adopted. I should like to refer to other matters - defence is one of them - but I feel that I have already taken up too much of the time of the Seriate. The Government deserves congratulation for many things it has done, and where that congratulation is due I have had much pleasure in giving it. But in the exercise of the freedom which every honorable senator supporting this Government enjoys, and which is the envy of honorable senators opposite, who are not free to do as they like, I have’ levelled, a little criticism at the Government. If Ministers think over what I have said my remarks will not have been in vain. I feel that it is necessary to meet the demand that is constantly being made outside that wider information than is now available concerning our public affairs should be given in the budget.
– Senator Duncan declared that there was a vast difference between the action of the Queensland Labour Government in borrowing money in New York and that of the present Commonwealth ‘ Government in borrowing in the same market. The Commonwealth Government was advised by the British bankers to borrow money in New York, whereas because of the high taxation it had imposed on the wealthy land-owners of Queensland, the Queensland Labour Government was told that there was no money available for it in London, and was compelled to go elsewhere to borrow. In any case, what is the difference between the money-lenders of England and those of America ? As far as I can -see whenever a big loan is to be floated, whether in England or America, they confer and fix the rate of interest to be paid by the borrower. No one can deny that a huge amount of British money is invested in American banks.
When Senator J. B. Hayes was congratulating “the Government upon its proposal to reduce the income tax by 10 per cent, he said that the people would be benefited by such a reduction. In my opinion, if the Government is anxious to give some benefit to the people who are least able to bear the burden of taxation, it should go about it in a different way. It should reduce by 1 per cent, the taxation of persons with incomes exceeding £10,000 a year, by 2 per cent, that of persons with incomes of from £9,000 to £10.000, by 3 per cent, those with incomes of from £8,000 to £9,000 and so on, gradually increasing the rate of reduction with the reduction in the income of the taxpayer down to the amount of the exemption. In that way the Government would confer a benefit upon the people who are struggling against adversity and endeavouring to get up from the bottom rung of the ladder. But I want to know how the proposed reduction will benefit the wage earner, the struggling man with a big family who is receiving a small income? Will he get his clothing, his food or his house a farthing cheaper? Will he be better housed or better fed ? In my opinion the Government is paying no regard whatever to the interests of the man who has only his labour to sell. It is putting in practice the principle of “ Whosoever hath, to nim shall be given, and whosoever hath, not, from him shall be taken, even that which he seemeth to have.” Every time there has been an increasein the rate of the income tax the big employers of labour have” not paid any proportion of it. Every increase has been passed on through the strata of human activities. There is a processby which the income tax filters down, and down until it reaches bedrock, the wage earner, whose shoulders are the least able to bear the burden. I am afraid that the Government’s proposal to reduce the income tax will not help those people who are most deserving of help. Senator J. B. Hayes also congratulated the Government on its decision to float another loan abroad. He said that an attemptto raise a loan of £64,000,000 in Australia would mean the withdrawal of that amount from the industrial life of Australia. Apparently the honorable senator does not recognize that if we borrow £64,000,000 abroad the money must come to us in the shape of manufactured goods which are likely to compete with the industries of Australia. It means that £64,000,000 worth of goods less will be manufactured in Australia. Where are the honorable senator’s thinking powers?’ The honorable senator went on to say that if an attempt were made to rais*? £64,000,000 in Australia the result would be financial chaos. Similar statements were made during the early stages of the war when it was suggested that a loan should be floated in Australia. The right honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt), who was then a Minister, said that it was quite impossible to raise £20,000,000 in Australia without totally disorganizing industry. Honorable senators are well aware of what happened. The Government raised the first £20,000,000 required, and subsequent amounts, without any difficulty. A good old conservative newspaper in South Australia reported .at the time that as the first £20,000,000 had been raised, everything was all right. What was meant? The inference was that immediately after the first £20,000,000 had been raised the money would commence to. circulate amongst the people, and would again reach the banks and be available for further loans. One authority said that our war obligations could be financed on a loan of £20,000,000, and showed how in his opinion it could be done. The Government not only raised the first loan of £20,000,000, but eventually floated locally loans amounting in the aggregate to approximately £280,000,000. The raising of such a large sum did not interfere with industry in the slightest degree; the factories established during the war period are still in existence, and are extending their operations. A majority of the Australian people support a protectionist policy so that we may have our own industries, in which our people may be employed; but notwithstanding this policy the taxpayers are contributing over £43,000,000 annually in th,e form of Customs and excise duties. Protection is the policy of the Commonwealth, but we continue to borrow abroad with the result that large quantities of imported goods instead of money continue to reach Australia. We have established many important industries which are a credit to the people, but we persist in borrowing from Great Britain or from America. When a loan is floated in either of those countries, British or American goods are not always sent in lieu of the money loaned. The governments of those countries may have financial relations with other countries in which the labour conditions are of a lower standard, and instead of British or American products coming in, Japanese goods may perhaps flood the Australian markets. Credit and confidence comprise the main principles of banking, and credits may be handled in such a mysterious way that almost any result may be achieved. On the security of gold bullion in Australia during the war period, which was valued at approximately £53,771,126, approximately £2S0,000,000 was borrowed. Our assets are greater to-day than they were in 1914.
– Does the honorable ‘ senator suggest that we should go on borrowing indefinitely as we did then?
– No. But I think the Government could “without difficulty raise £100,000,000 in Australia if that sum were required. In 1914 the value of our manufactured products was, approximately, £4,000,000 less than the value of our pastoral activities; but in 1924 the value of our manufactures was £30,000,000. In 1915 the number of cattle in the Commonwealth was 9,931,416, and in 1925 it was 13,279,7S5. In 1915 the number of sheep was 73,146,460; but in 1925 it had increased to 103,563,218, which figure was only exceeded in 1891, when the number was 106,421,068. For the information of the Senate, I submit the . following figures showing the value of the products of certain industries in 1914 and 1924: -
These figures show that during the period of ten years the value of the products of the industries I have enumerated greatly increased, and, therefore, our assets at the end of 1924 were of much greater value than -they were ten years previously. I believe Senator Grant said that the profits of the Commonwealth Bank excluding the Note Issue Department for the year ending 30th June, 1927, amounted to £5S0,987, a statement which met with the approval of Senator Thompson.
– A very fine record!
– Yes; but Senator Thompson would not approve of the nationalization of banking.
When Senator J. B. Hayes was speaking to this motion, an honorable senator on this side of the chamber interjected, “ Who introduced the Commonwealth land tax,” to which Senator J. B. Hayes replied, “ The Labour party, with the object of breaking up large estates; but it did not meet with the success anticipated.” I cannot agree with that opinion, because after the passing of the Commonwealth Land Tax Act the area under cultivation increased by approximately 1,000,000 acres.
– Can the honorable senator name one estate which was subdivided in consequence of the passing of the Commonwealth Land Tax Act?
– I cannot mention
One at the moment ; but I know that there were some in South Australia. When the area under cultivation was increased by a million acres, additional employment was provided on the farms, and in the manufacture of agricultural implements. The railways also benefited, owing to the additional traffic offering, and in numerous instances land which had been sparsely settled provided many deserving persons with profitable employment. Moorak Estate, near Mount Gambier, in South Australia, on which only about four men were employed prior to subdivision, is now carrying a population of 500 persons. The Booborowie, Hill River, and Yongala estates, were also subdivided, with benefit to the State.
– Every one was subdivided in consequence of State legislation.
– No. Many large properties were’ sold owing to the passing of the Commonwealth Land Tax Act.
I understand that paper currency was first introduced in Venice in 1156, and that city then became the financial centre of the world under a nationalized banking system which was successfully carried on for 600 years. But even the Bank of England temporarily closed its doors during -the war period, and according to the records private banking failures occurred in England in 1S44, 1847, 1856, 1890, and 1914. Senator Duncan spoke of the patriotism of British bankers; but I remind him that at the outbreak of the Great War they decided to close their doors because they were unable to go on. Later, they made overtures to the Lloyd George Government for financial assistance with the result that treasury notes to the value of many millions of round’s were advanced to them. That money enabled the private banks not only to keep open, but six months later to loan to the British Government £200,000,000 on which they charged interest. That is how they showed their patriotism. Australia has also had her banking failures. In 1840 and again in 1891, 1892 and 1893 numbers of banks in Australia were forced to close their doors. The directors of those private banking institutions had no thought for the people who had entrusted their money to them. They met in secret and decided to write off their obligations to one another, regardless of the fact that the money which they handled so lightly belonged to the people. Not only did they do that, but they were also successful in having legislation passed which made it an offence for any one to give publicity to their action. I leave it to honorable senators to imagine what interest would have been charged by private banks during the great war, had not the Commonwealth Bank been in existence. That the Fisher Government did not avail itself of the opportunity to wipe the private banking institutions out of existence at that time stands to its everlasting discredit. The profits of the Commonwealth Bank and of the Note Issue Board, amount to over £20,000,000. That money has been re-, turned to the people of Australia. If. instead of borrowing £64,000,000 abroad, the money had been borrowed in Australia, the annual interest payment of £3,200,000 in respect of it would remain here instead of having to be sent abroad. I disagree with the policy of borrowing outside Australia. If our protectionist policy is not effective, it should be made so; otherwise let us be honest, and have no more to do with it. It would be well if Australia had more industries like those of Bond and Company in Sydney, and Bryant and May, in Melbourne. Their factories are a credit to Australia. The workers employed in them work under almost ideal conditions. Instead of borrowing abroad, we should endeavour to build up more of such industries in this country. Australia should manufacture the whole of her woollen requirements instead of, as now, sending the wool abroad and later, importing the manufactured goods. Legislation should be passed making it compulsory for Australian woollen mills, instead of disposing of their products to middlemen, to sell it to retailers in this country. That would make it possible to obtain for £6 10s., a suit which now costs ten or twelve guineas.
– It is possible to get a suit in Australia for £6 10s. now.
– About the time of the armistice the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League purchased from the Commonwealth “Woollen Mills large quantities of woollen goods for 30s. a length. Later, it was made into suits and sold for about £5 10s. each.
– Wool could not be obtained at. the same price now.
– It was possible then to obtain from the league an excellent suit for £6 10s., whereas suits made of similar material, purchased from Flinderslane warehouses, cost from £10 10s. to £12 12s.
– The honorable senator’s figures are wrong.
– They are not ; I obtained them from the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League. If we could dispense with middlemen, it would be possible to save from 15 to 20 per cent, of the cost of every article manufactured in Australia. In South Australia there are two woollen mills - one within 30 miles of Adelaide, and the other at Mount Gambier. Yet a person desiring to purchase the product of those factories can do so only after it has passed through the Adelaide warehouses. The same is true of the two woollen mills at Ballarat, in Victoria. Retailers in that city can purchase articles manufactured locally only after they have been sent by rail 75 miles to Melbourne and back again to Ballarat. Until Australian manufacturers are compelled to deal with the retailers, the workers of this country will not get the benefit of their labours.
– To do what the honorable senator suggests would necessitate State legislation.
– Mr. Gilmore BrOwn, who had 20 years’ experience as a bank manager, said that the capitalistic banking system was a disgrace to civilized communities; that it placed in the hands of a small committee a power greater than that of governments; that the Bankers’ Association of Australia was a close corporation bound together by the cohesive power of plunder ; and that they levy direct taxation on the enterprise, industry, and production of the community greater by far than that levied by any government. He said that they control our resources, our rates of interest, our credit, and that they possess a more absolute jurisdiction over our livelihood, savings, and our future than the Government. That, he said., meant a currency monopoly, a corner in credit. In his report on the Bank of France, Maurice Patron said -
It is difficult to understand how any undertaking of such universal interest should be left to private enterprise….. A national bank, if it is to be a truly national institution, must control credit, or fail in its duty.
The Swiss Minister of Finance during the’ Great War said -
A national bank, supreme over, and ultimately absorbing all private institutions, represents the most powerful bulwark . for our credit, the security of our people, and the resources of our country.
That should be sufficient to show that we should not only extend the functions of the Commonwealth Bank, but also nationalize all banking institutions. Itwould then no longer be necessary to borrow money outside Australia.
– That is where we should borrow it.
– I disagree with the honorable senator. In twelve months -the private banking institutions of Australia paid £4,694,213 in dividends; their undivided profits amounted to £1,723,582; their dividends ranged from 8 per cent, to 15 per cent. If our financial institutions were nationalized the profits would be returned to the people, or expended in providing public works of a reproductive nature.
– How are those profits used now?
– The money is lent to us, and we have to pay interest on it.
– That is precisely what the Government would do with the profits.
– Money which belong/ i to the Government would belong to the people. The debts of the States are continually increasing. On the 30th June, 1926, the public debt in New South Wales amounted to £223,504,771 ; in Victoria it was £138,754,989; ‘ in Queensland. £102,316,866; in South Australia, £81,473,624; in Western Australia, £70,806,921; and in Tasmania, £24,477,590. The public debts of all the States amounted to £641,334,761. The gross debt of the Commonwealth at the 30th June, 1927, and State debts at 30th June, 1926, omitting debts which are included in both Commonwealth and State debts, totalled £1,016,632,752, as against £990,642,419, for the previous year, an increase of £25,981,333. The gross debt per head of population is £165. Where are we drifting? How much longer are we going to continue borrowing money and piling up debts overseas?
Already we have spent about £8,000,000 on the Federal Capital, and I suppose that we shall spend another £8,000,000 before it is completed. We could very well have continued the Seat of Government at Melbourne for another 25 or 50 years, by which time the population of the Commonwealth would have been much greater than it is to-day, and we should have been better able to meet the expenditure. It cannot be argued that any one suffered through the Commonwealth Government functioning from Melbourne for 27 years. And no one can say that inconvenience would have been caused if- the Seat of Government had remained in the city for another 27 years.
– What was the policy of the honorable senator’s party with regard to the transfer of the Seat of Government to Canberra?
– I am not discussing the policy of my party. I am now stating my personal views on the subject. Canberra is called a city. Its people are settled in widely separated suburbs. For this reason expenditure on sewerage, water supply and other essential services has been much greater than it would have been if development had been carried out from one centre. I regard the expenditure on Canberra to date as a wicked waste of public money. This city has been established 50 years before its time, and is properly regarded as a white elephant. It would have been much better if Albury had been chosen for the Federal Capital. That town is situated on the main railway line between Melbourne and Sydney, it is in New South Wales, and it has an ideal climate. I am aware, of course, that the Federal Capital had to be moved from Melbourne sooner or later.
– Why not shift it back to Melbourne?
– I would give my vote in favour of such a proposal” if it were brought forward. It is difficult to know who is really in control of the Federal Capital Territory. Apparently the commission is all-powerful. It would be interesting to know what revenue is being obtained from the rental of leaseholds in Canberra.
– Why did not the commission make more blocks available for settlement?
– I presume that the ‘ commission limited the number available in order to send up values. I disagree entirely with the policy of the Government in handing over the bus services in Canberra to a private company. The commission should have retained full control of all transportation services.
Honorable senators supporting the Government have charged members of the Labour party with being opposed to the policy of immigration. If the policy is to go on, the Government should first of all provide avenues of employment. We take the stand that employment should be found for our own people before any attempt is made to bring thousands of migrants from overseas. All honorable senators are aware that the position, from the point of view of unemployment, is serious in many of the States. In September, 1926, there were 15,500 men employed in the South Australian Railways Department. In October of this year the number had dropped to 11,000, a reduction of 4,500 in twelve months. It is understood that the commissioner intends to bring the number of employees down to 8,250, or a decrease of over 7,000 compared to the total number of employees last year. The South Australian labour exchange reports that there are 1,755 civilians and 399 returned soldiers registered as unemployed in that State. It is not too much to say that one could find 1,700 men out of work in Port Adelaide alone. So desperate is the position in that seaport that the State Government has been requested to erect sheltersheds for the men. It is difficult to understand whatis actuating theRailways Commissioner. If there was sufficient work for over 15,000 men in the Railways Department last year there should he employment for more than 8,250, which will be the number employed when the retrenchment scheme is completed.
– Has not an adverse harvest been responsible for such of the unemployment?
– Perhaps it has, but it could not have been responsible for the displacement of such a large number of men. I am aware, of course, that an unfavourable harvest season in South Australia seriously affects the railway avenue, and employment in the State generally; but I understand that already certain sections of the Railway De- partment are shorthanded, and that, as a result, they are working overtime, although the commissioner states that the department is overstaffed. The Pre- mier of the State, who was approached by a deputation recently, stated that the cabinet had not decided the policy of the department. Several business men to whom I have spoken have admitted that retrenchment” in the Railway Department is a calamity. It is more than that. It is a tragedy to have thousands of men suddenly thrown into the ranks of unemployed. Since they have only their iabour to sell, every effort should be made vo provide them with an opportunty to secure a return. In any case, they must be fed. If they are not provided with work to obtain money for food, they will he forced to beg or to steal. Under the law of the land they are liable to be arrested if they beg or steal, though possibly that may be the only course left to some of them. It is disgraceful that in a young country like Australia there should be so many thousands of unemployed men. In the winter before last there were 60,000 men out of work in the Commonwealth, In the circumstances, is it to be wondered at that the Labour Party is opposed to a policy of indiscriminate migration? Clearly our duty is to provide employment for our own people. If we can find work for all who are in Australia to-day, and if more people are wanted, we should seek to get them from Britain. If we cannot get all the Britishers we need, then we should encourage the immigration of Scandinavians. Such people will make better settlers than migrants from southern Europe. Hollanders also make good settlers. They are hardworking, law-abiding people, and would be in every respect desirable immigrants.
– The Commonwealth does not go to any other country but Britain for its migrants.
– What about the southern Europeans who are coming to Australia ?
– We are not responsible for them.
– But the Government is not placing any obstacle in the way. SenatorFoll has stated that if any attempt is made to interfere with the migration of southern Europeans to Australia international complications are likely to arise. Signor Mussolini does not favour the migration of Italians from their own country. Recently he is reported to have said : -
Let us speak quite clearly. What are 40,000,000 Italians compared to 90,000,000 Germans, and 200,000,000 Slavs. Let us turn towards the west. What are 40,000,000 Italians compared to 40,000,000 Frenchmen, plus the 90,000,000 inhabitants of France’s colonies, or compared to 46,000,000 Englishmen, plus 450,000,000 who live in England’s colonies. If Italy is to amount to anything it must enter into the second half of this century with a population of at least 60,000,000 inhabitants. (Cries of assent.) You will say: But how can they live in our territory? This same argument very probably was used in 1815, when in Italy there lived only 16,000,000 inhabitants. Perhaps it then seemed most absurd that in the same territory it was possible to find, with an infinitely higher standard of life, food and homes for the 40,000,000 Italians of the present day.
That does not signify that he desires to get rid of one Italian; on the contrary, he wishes to increase the population of Italy from 40,000,000 to 60,000,000.
– His policy should be the policy of Australia; we want more population.
– Yes, but not of that kind. . We know what is happening in different parts of Australia. I can see rising above the horizon a serious industrial disturbance. There have been evidences of it in Western Australia, Broken Hill and Queensland. They are just the beginnings. We cannot blame good honest Australian people who find themselves superseded in their employment by southern Europeans, and their wives and families lacking sustenance, if they adopt stern measures to insist upon their rights. Any man who would accept without protest such a condition of affairs would not be a true Australian. If the Italian migration is not restricted the Government of the Commonwealth will be blameable.
– There will be a war if it is.
– I do not know whether the honorable senator means a war with Italy. We were not prevented by fear from shutting our doors against -J apan. We should again have the courage of our convictions, and say to the Italians “ Out you go, war or no war.” Is Italy to be allowed to send to Australia an ultimatum “ Admit Italians or we shall declare war on you?” Mussolini has distinctly stated that he wishes to increase the population of Italy from 40,000,000 to 60,000,000 persons. What, then, have we to fear? The honorable senator has raised a bogey.
– We did not shut our doors against Japan; the restriction was made general.
– In the language of an act of Parliament we told Japan that the migration of its nationals to Australia was to be restricted. It accepted that decision. I have here a letter from the general secretary of the South Australian board of directors of the Australian Natives’ Association, to the Premier of South Australia. It reads as follows: -
I am directed to advise you that at the last meeting of the above board, reference was made to the large number of unemployed in this State. It was pointed out that an arrangement which had been in existence at the Government Labour Bureau whereby preference had been given to Australians had been cancelled. After due consideration, the following motion was carried: -
That the State Government be approached to give preference to Australianborn in place of persons from foreign parts in obtaining employment through the Government Labour Bureau, and to ascertain the reason why this preference was recently abolished.
It is unnecessary to point out to you that this association believes in the policy of “ Australia First.” Therefore, we favour the employment of native born. You are, of course, aware of the amount of distress that existsin this State, and we feel that where Australians have homes they should receive preference to foreigners. Numbers of foreigners are engaged in this city, who, on account of not being able to read nor write the English language are unable to conform to the educational requirements of the Industrial Code. The foreign element in Australiahas reached an alarming stage. The recent riots in Queensland has been the outcome of foreigners working to the detriment of Australians. According to the reports, notices have been posted by foreigners holding cane plantations directing that no Austraiian need apply -
– Foreigners had nothing to do with that trouble.
– The letter proceeds -
If the position in this State is allowed to continue, the time will come when the foreign element will endeavour to monopolize our industries, as they are endeavouring to do in Queensland. To place the foreigner on a level (so far as employment is concerned) with Australians, is decidedly anti-Australian, and certainly vital to racial purity.
The directors, therefore, trust you willgive the question your earnest consideration,and join us in our slogan - “Australia First.” I am, Dear Sir.
Your obedient servant, (Signed) Geo. Waterford,
– Would not the encouragement of our own people to come here be the remedy?
– Yes. We should cease the policy ‘of borrowing abroad and build up Australian industries.
– If we are to maintain the existing proportion of Britishers in the Commonwealth is it not necessary toencourage Britishers to come here?
– Certainly. I believe in migration, but not indiscriminately whilst there are thousands of unemployed persons in Australia.
– Migrants do not add to the ranks of the unemployed.
– They do. The following is a letter which has been addressed to me by the South Australian board of directors of the Australian Natives’ Association : -
I am directed to inform you that this board views with alarm the large number of foreign migrants that have recently, and are continuing, to arrive in the Commonwealth.
I desire to call your attention to report of the deputation of the Australian Natives Association to the Honorable the Prime Minister, appearing on page 4 of Our Australia, of 21st September, 1927, forwarded herewith. You will note that Mr. A. Byrne, the Vice-President of the Victorian Board of the Australian Xalives Association, stated that during 192C the proportion of aliens arriving in Australia was 1-1 Oth (one-tenth), while in the first five mouths of this year, 1927, the proportion had increased to i (one-quarter). This is a very serious position.
I also enclose a copy of a letter forwarded to the Honorable Premier of our State in respect of the same matter.
The importance of the matter now that we have such a large number of unemployed in the various Status is urgent, and it is necessary that immediate steps should be taken, by thu Commonwealth Parliament in the forthcoming session, to check immigration from countries bordering the Mediterranean, and if immigration is to continue it shall be from the British Isles.
Senator Duncan has referred to the site on which the Trades Hall stands in Brisbane. Originally the Trades Hall stood upon a site in Turbot-street. That site was required for railway purposes, and was resumed by the Railway department. The question of compensation was left to the determination of the Land Court, which decided that the Trades Hall trustees should be given the site on which its building now stands.
Bond & Co., of Sydney, employ 2,600 skilled Australian workmen. Their operations add to the value of production to the extent of over a million pounds. If every person in Australia could be induced to purchase woollen goods of Australian manufacture that firm would he enabled to increase its output and give employment to a much greater number of workers. If it were possible to turn into manufactured articles the whole of the wool that is produced in Australia, and to export it instead of sending away bc raw material, employment would be found for 250,000 persons. That estimate was arrived at by a commission which sat in South Australia. I recognize the impossibility of doing so. The standard of living in Australia is so high that we would not be able to compete successfully in foreign markets; and that Standard must be maintained.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
Debate (on motion by Senator Chapsi an) adjourned.
Order of BUSINESS - -COMMUNICATION With TASMAN ISLAND Lighthouse.
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I ask honorable senators to come tomorrow prepared to discuss the Commonwealth Bank Savings Bank Bill and the Housing Bill. Prior to their consideration I shall move motions for the second reading of two small measures.
– Has the Minister a reply to a question that I asked on the 14th October last in relation to communication with Tasman Island lighthouse?
– (Queensland - Minister for Defence) [6.16]. - The honorable senator asked whether any arrangement was being made to provide adequate means of communication with Tasman Island lighthouse in Tasmania. I promised that inquiry would be made. I” am now able to inform the honorable senator that no immediate action is being taken to alter the existing method of communication with Tasman Island lighthouse, but that wireless is being installed at. lighthouses in order of urgency, and Tasman Island will receive due consideration.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 6.17 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 November 1927, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1927/19271102_senate_10_116/>.