10th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Quite recently Senator Herbert Hays asked the following question of the PostmasterGeneral -
Is the department doing anything to establish telephonic communication between Tasmania and the mainland?
The Postmaster-General has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question -
Yes. The matter, which is one of considerable magnitude, is still under consideration.
Connexion with Queensland.
– Some time ago I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories whether he could inform the Senate . what route was recommended by the North Australian Commission for a line to connect the Northern Territory railway system with that of Queensland. He replied that the information would soon be available in the report of the commission. That report has since been tabled, and as it contains nothing to indicate the route which the commission recommends, I now ask the Minister if he can make the information available.
– I shall direct the attention of the Minister for Home and Territories to the honorable senator’s question, and obtain an answer for him.
The following papers were presented -
Development and Migration Commission - Tasmania -
Investigation into Present Position of Tasmania - Second Interim Report, with Appendices.
Fat Lamb and Pig industries of Tasmania and the Utilization of the Somerset Freezing Works in connexion therewith - Report, with Appendix.
Berry Fruit Industry of Tasmania - Report.
Committee on Rural Credits in Australia. - Report; (Issued by the Dominions Office).
Public Service Act- Appointment - Department of Home and Territories - A. G. White:
Formal Motion fob Adjournment.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands). - I have received from Senator Duncan a letter dated the - 17th May informing me that it is his intention to move the adjournment of the Senate for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The proposed Pan-Pacific Trades Union Congress, to be held in Australiaearly next year, and some of the purposes of such congress.”
Four honorable senators having risen in their places in support of the motion.
– In accordance with theletter which I have forwarded to the President, I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till 10 a.m. to-morrow.
It is not without some hesitation that I have taken this unusual course for ‘ the purpose of calling . attention to the PanPacific Trades Union Congress to be. held in Australia in March next, but it is supremely important that we should have some indication of the attitude the Government proposes to take up in regard to this congress, and, that as far as it is possible to do so, we should let the people of Australia know the purposes, that lie behind the gathering. To some honorable senators it may seem -rather early to draw attention to this congress, and some of the subjects to be considered by it, but I feel that if we are to take a stand in regard to the matter, we should do so at once. I understand that arrangements for the congress are being made, and that delegates from all countries bordering on the Pacific are now being invited to attend. For what I am about to say I propose to quote an authority which I feel sure will be accepted by all honorable senators. My authority is the Labour Daily of the12th May, 1928. It is the official organ of the Labour party of New SouthWales, and is published in Sydney. The matter to which I refer is contained in an open letter to the Japanese trade unionists, written by Mr. J. Ryan, a gentleman who is ordinarily secretary or organizer, or, at any rate, a prominent official of the Sydney Labour Research and Information Bureau, and who is now representing the Australian Council of Trade Unions at a trade unions’ conference in Shanghai, China. By this conference he has been appointed to carry propaganda to the Japanese trade unions for the purpose of furthering the purposes of a Pan-Pacific secretariat set up by the Shanghai conference. In pursuance of his endeavours to persuade the Japanese trade unions to send delegates to the Pan-Pacific Trades Union Congress to be held in Australia, Mr. Ryan requested the Japanese Government to permit him to pay a visit to Japan, and address the trade unionists there. But the Japanese Government, knowing the purpose for which the Shanghai secretariat had been set up - knowing its objective - refused him permission to land in Japan. He thereupon adopted the extreme course of addressing the Japanese trade unions by means of a manifesto dated 26th February, 1928, and issued from Shanghai. This manifesto has been republished in theSydney Labour Daily. It is interesting to note that this gentleman, who represents a great Australian trade union organization which claims to be a strong advocate of the White Australia policy, addresses the Japanese trade unionists as “dear comrades.” He urges the importance of thecoming congress, and proceeds to make this most extraordinary declaration -
No Pan-Pacific trade union organization can properly begin the solution of its problems un less it places as a primary item on its programme the support of the struggles” of the oppressed peoples for freedom, the independence movement of China, India, Indonesia. Korea, the Philippine Islands, &c.
Ill Australia we have our own problems to solve. If we are to make our country what it ought to be we shall have sufficient to do without interfering with the problems of other countries, and perhaps involving ourselves. in a grave conflict with friendly nations.
– Does Mr.Ryan indicate that that is one of the subjects to be discussed at. this eongress?
– Yes, he indicates in the manifesto that it is one of the subjects the congress is to discuss. We must look at this matter with due regard to what is happening in other countries, and to the aspirations of certain people towards India, bearing in -mind always the importance of India to Australia, and what it would mean to us if Great Britan were to lose control of that country. India has often been described as the fairest jewel in the British Crown. One cannot conceive of the British Empire retaining any influence whatever in the East if the control of India is lost, and India secures independence. When we reflect on the damage to British prestige which the loss of India would mean, and on Britain’s proposals to more adequately defend Australia and New Zealand and her interests in the East by the construction of a naval base at Singapore, we must set our faces against any attempt to undermine British prestige in India. That the. British Government realizes the importance of maintaining friendly relations with Eastern nations was made clear during the recent visit to Britain of the King of Afghanistan. The British Government spared neither trouble nor expense in entertaining him and in endeavouring to win his friendship and that of the people of Afghanistan. From Britain the King went to Russia, where he was lavishly entertained. He was established in one of Russia’s greatest palaces, and every effort was made towards bringing Afghanistan practicaly under the suzerainty of Bussia, so that at an opportune time a deadly blow might be struck at India. The people of Russia know that the loss of India would mean the loss of British prestige in the EastHonorable senators may remember a photograph which was published not long ago showing a number of delegates to the last Pan-Pacific Trade Union Congress. The Australian representatives at that congress, among whom was Mr. “ Jock “ Garden, were the only white men present: all the others were Asiatics. Is it. the desire of the people of this country that in March, 1929, there shall meet in Australia a congress - representative of peoples with whom we have nothing in common, despite Mr. Ryan’s statement ns to the community of interest between Japanese and Australian trade unions - to consider, not problems affecting the workers generally, or matters which ordinarily are associated with trade unions, but the best means of securing the independence of India - matters inimical to tho best interests of Australia and the British Empire as a whole? After a number of statements made allegedly in the interests of peace, but actually in the interests of war - because Britain would not lightly lose India and her other possessions in the East and Australia would become involved in the struggle - Mr. Ryan makes a specious plea for peace in the following terms : -
Perhaps the most pressing problem which has moved the trade unions of the Pacific to establish the Pan-Pacific Trade Union Secretariat is danger of war, which grows more menacing every day. The quarrels involved are not between the workers of the various countries, however, but between the capitalists and imperialists, who quarrel over the division of the spoils of imperialism. The trade unions, as the widest and most representative organizations of the working classes, are faced with the foremost duty of organizing for struggle against such imperialistic war.
He says further -
The Australian trade unions whom I represent directly are especially desirous of establishing connexions with the Japanese workers, whose problems are closely connected with our Australian trade union problems.
I have no objection to the Government granting permission to bona fide trade unions to meet in congress in Australia to discuss matters relating to trade unionism generally; but when, in the name of trade unionism, interested individuals desire to act detrimentally to the interests of Australia and of the British Empire generally, and to assist the enemies of Britain, the people of this country should take a stand, and refuse to offer hospitality and protection to any conference which has such an object. The authority for my statements is Thu Labour Daily. I take it that that publication would not publish anything of the kind to which I have referred unless it was well authenticated. I ask the Government to give serious consideration to this matter, and to say definitely that no conference, which has for its object the independence of India, or of any other country now under British rule, shall be held in Australia. The Labour Daily is the official organ of the Labour party in New South Wales. If the purposes of trade unionism are to be prostituted in this way - if trade unionism is to be used as a cloak by men of this sort, anxious to manufacture ammunition to be used against the British Empire, it is time for the Government to take definite action.
– Are these people the same as those who appeared in the photograph with “ Jock “ Garden ?
– Y - Yes. Mr. Ryan whose remarks I have quoted, holds an official position in Sydney on the Labour Research and Information Bureau - an important and influential position. He claims to speak on behalf of the Australian trade unions. I ask honorable senators opposite whether great trade union organizations, such as the Australian Workers’ Union, have as their object the independence of India and China, and other countries with which Australia has little to do industrially. Certainly, from a trade union point of view, Australia has nothing in common with those countries; but if Mr. Ryan and his associates are successful in their efforts, the downfall of the British Empire is inevitable.
[3.20]. - I listened with interest to the speech of the honorable senator, because I had seen in recent issues of various Australian daily newspapers paragraphs stating that an international conference of some kind was to be held in Australia, but giving no indication of its character, or the subjects to be discussed by it. There can be no objection to bodies of trade unionists or any other organizations holding international conferences. It is perfectlyproper for them to confer on questions that may benefit the people generally, and tend to uplift humanity. The more such gatherings can be encouraged the better. But if the purpose pf the proposed PanPacific Congress is to be as indicated by Senator Duncan, then an entirely different position arises. I think it will come as a shock to trade unionists in Australia to know that the names of their organizations are being associated with such a movement. I am quite satisfied that the overwhelming majority of them have no ‘sympathy whatever with it, and will not willingly lend themselves to or knowingly countenance such a movement. Senator Duncan has Tendered a service to the public generally, and particularly to trade unionism, by bringing prominently before the country, through the medium of this motion, the statement made by Mr. Ryan as to the subjects to be dealt with by this congress. It is obvious that no country could allow itself to be used to promote a revolution in any other country. Apart altogether from the menace to the interests of the British Empire, I would point out that Indonesia, which was particularly mentioned in the statement read by Senator Duncan, is under French control. It would be grossly improper to allow any movement to be organized in Australia with the object of aiming a blow at a friendly Power, especially a Power which, in the recent war, was our ally.
– The Philippines which are under the control of the United States of America were also mentioned.
– That is so, but Indonesia, which covers French interests and possessions in Indo-China, was particularly mentioned in the open letter read by Senator Duncan. I agree with the honorable senator that it would be prostituting the principles of trade unionism to allow the movement to be associated with such a conference as that. No one who stands fdr what trade unionism really means could countenance anything of the kind. I feel sure that if the trade unionists of this country were aware that the name of their organizations, and possibly their funds, were being used for such a purpose, they would take immediate action to put themselves right in the eyes of the people. But if a statement by a Labour leader in New South Wales is correct, the funds for this propaganda are being furnished, not by trade union organizations in Australia, but by the Soviet of Russia.
– “Who said that?
– I cannot recall the man’s name; but I remember reading a statement to this effect in the columns of the Sydney press recently.
– I think that it was Mr. Higgins.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE Perhaps the honorable senator is right. He stated that there was evidence that money was floating about in Sydney for the promotion of the “ red “ movement in Australia, particularly for the red-anting of trade unionism, and that in his opinion it was coming from Moscow.
– The Australian “Workers Union has nothing to do with that.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.It is only right, I think, that the trade unionists in Australia should be informed if their funds and if their organizations are being used in the way suggested. Apart altogether from the position of trade unionism, I agree with Senator Duncan that the Government has a duty in this matter. I had not previously seen the statement which he has just quoted, but now that my attention has been directed to it, I shall certainly bring it before the Government for immediate consideration with a view to ascertain what action can be taken. Any citizen of this country who seeks to make Australia the cauldron of diabolical international revolutionary plots is no friend of Australia. Anything that the Government can do to prevent the Commonwealth from being used in the way indicated will be done. The statement made by Senator Duncan touches a very serious matter. He was fully justified in bringing it under the notice of the Government, and I shall certainly see that a report of his speech is submitted to the Prime Minister.
– I listened with interest to the passionate speech of Senator Duncan who, under cover of a motion for the adjournment of the Senate, directed attention to certain statements relating to the Pan-Pacific conference proposed to be held in Australia in March of next year.. To me it appeared as if the honorable senator had one eye on the British Empire and the other on the next election. He stated that the proposed Pan-Pacific conference was to be held for the sinister purpose of undermining the British Empire by endeavouring to persuade the people in a certain section of it to secede. The honorable senator quoted from a manifesto alleged to have been issued by Mr. Ryan setting out the purpose of the proposed conference. In order to correct any wrong impression that may have been made by the honorable senator’s speech, let me quote from an official statement of the proceedings of the interstate congress of the Australian Labour Party held in Canberra on the 11th May, 1927. The secretary of that gathering, Mr. McNamara, reported that in accordance with the decision of the federal executive at a meeting in September, 1925, he had written to a number of industrial and peace organizations in countries bordering on the Pacific, inviting them to send representatives to a conference proposed to be held in- Honolulu about the third week in November, 1926. That was the first proposal for a Pan-Pacific conference. The report continues -
The object of the proposed conference was to bring together the representatives of industrial and peace organizations from countries bordering on the Pacific Ocean, with a view to arriving at a better understanding in respect to the future peace of the Pacific.
Invitations were forwarded to the appropriate industrial and peace organizations in the following countries bordering on the Pacific: - Argentine, Australia, Brazilia, Canada, Chili, Colombo, Dominica, Sutch East Indies, Ecuador, Honolulu, India, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines,- Porto Rico, Russia, San Salvador, United States of America, Uraguay.
In addition to the American Federation of Labour, over 200 trades and labour councils and individual unions were communicated with in the United States of America, Canada and Mexico.
Dr. Sydney Strong, of Seattle, United States of America, who visited Australia a few years ago, rendered splendid service amongst the peace organizations in bringing under their notice the importance of the proposed PanPacific conference.
The object of that Pan-Pacific conference is the same to-day as it was then. It will be noticed that invitations were forwarded to countries that are part and parcel of the British Empire: for example, New Zealand and Canada.
– Does the honorable senator repudiate Mr. Ryan?
– May I interpolate that the reason why the Australian Labour party considered it a good thing to convene a Pan-Pacific conference was that Senator Pearce and other members of the Ministry had so frequently made the statement that the next war would be fought in the Pacific. While the last war was being waged their cry was that it was a war to end war; but no sooner had it terminated than we were told that there would be another one and the cockpit of the next world war would be the Pacific. The Australian Labour party acted wisely when it endeavoured to convene a conference to consider the means that should be employed to maintain the peace of the world, both industrially and in the wider sphere. Senator Duncan has fastened upon a statement in a manifesto issued by Mr. Ryan with regard to the independence of India. No honorable senator knows better than he does that all sorts of motions are moved at every representative gathering, and that in any fair-minded assembly judgment is always suspended until the final decisions of the congress are published. Apparently his object was to ridicule the proposal and to make it appear that the congress was being convened for the purpose of undermining the British Empire. That is false; but it is characteristic of the honorable senator, with whom it has become a habit to make such innuendoes. It will be time enough for him, or for any other honorable senator who holds similar views, to make definite allegations against the party to which I belong, and on whose behalf I hold a responsible position in this Senate, when that congress commits itself to action along the lines which he has suggested. The honorable senator went on to say, “ Are we to invite to our shores members of an enemy nation?” Has he forgotten that during the troublous years of war the very country to which he has referred was an ally of the British Empire ?
– I did not say that it was an enemy nation.
– The honorable senator objected to Mr. Ryan inviting representatives of Japanese trade unions to visit A.ustralia for the purpose of attending the Pan-Pacific congress. Was not Japan an ally of the British Empire in the last war; and is it not to-day a friendly nation ?
– Does the honorable senator believe in a White Australia?
– I do.
– This body, apparently, does not.
– There is nothing in the document I have read which indicates that the conference will evince a desire to sacrifice in the slightest degree the White Australia policy. I fling that assertion back in the teeth of Senator Duncan and Senator Ogden.
– The honorable senator is opposed to a few Italians coming to Australia. Was not Italy also an ally in the last war, and is it not still a friendly nation?
– We have witnessed the spectacle of the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) taking exception to the arrival of certain immigrants, and Sir Neville Howse calling him a liar. Does that mean that the Nationalist party is favorable to flooding this country with southern Europeans? Surely that inference cannot be drawn from the incident to which I have referred! And so with this case. Time and time again we have entertained Japanese naval and military officers and other foreigners. Why should we not continue to do so? Surely it is not a crime for a congress representative of all the nations bordering on the Pacific to assemble on Australia’s shores! If such a congress can help to stave off a recurrence of the shambles of 1914-1918, ought it not to be welcomed? Is there any harm in a congress meeting in Australia with the object of taking action which will tend to improve the working conditions of the workers of the world?
– I did not understand Senator Duncan to object to the congress being held here. What he objected to was that it should discuss the independence of India.
– I understood Senator Duncan to object to Mr. Ryan inviting representatives of the Japanese trade unions to come to Australia.
– He concentrated his attack upon the statement alleged to have been made by Mr. Ryan, that that congress will seek to bring about the secession of certain parts of the British Empire. It would have been fairer and more manly if he had awaited the results of the deliberations of the congress.
– Wait until a man stabs you in the back?
– It says very little for the Government of which the honorable senator is a supporter if it is not able to. handle such a situation. The document that I have read sets out the object for which the congress has been called. Therefore, it would not be harmful; but, on the contrary, would be of assistance to the British Empire.
.- I listened very attentively to the speeches delivered by Senator Duncan, the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir George Pearce) and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham). The speech of the Leader of the Opposition has, no doubt, cleared the atmosphere considerably, since it has shown that the object of the proposed congress is very different from thatset out by Senator Duncan. It is essential that the Government should be very careful in anything it does in connexion with gatherings of an. international character which are held in Australia. I have too high an opinion of the working classes in Australia to think there is any likelihood of the representatives of bolshevism being able to interfere with industrial conditions which at present exist in the Commonwealth. I am as well aware as any one in the Senate that a few men have been endeavouring to “ red-ant “ industrial unionism in Australia ; but I also know that if any international gathering is held in Australia, the representatives attending it will readily realize the satisfactory conditions which the workmen here enjoy, and will leave Australia with a very favorable impression of it. Various kinds of resolutions, some of a startling nature, are brought forward by individuals at such conferences. Senator Duncan referred to a particular portion of the Empire in which I am specially interested, and to the conference discussing the self-government or independence of India. Why should it not do so? I do not know that the Indian people will be influenced by anything that is said, or by the resolutions that may be passed at this proposed gathering, but I can tell Senator Duncan and other honorable senators that references such as he has made are more likely to bring about trouble in India, than anything else. He said: “We must hold India.” Whom does he mean by “ we “ ? .
– The British Empire.
– The British Empire can hold India only with the consent of the Indian people. There we have a white population of only 80,000 in a total population of 230,000,000.
– Britain assumed control in India without the consent of the people of India.
– Control was secured by brute force, and Britain’s record in India is not altogether satisfactory. I know what the British race has done for India and I am also well acquainted with the views held by intelligent Indian people at the present day. I keep in close touch with Indian affairs, and I propose later to read to the Senate an extract from a newspaper which I received from India only to-day. This article will give to Senator Duncan and other honorable senators the views of the real leaders of Indian thought, who are of the opinion that India must remain within the Empire. Senator Duncan and others have said that- “we must hold India.” The British Government recently appointed a commission to inquire into the political conditions prevailing in India to see whether they were fitted for a further extension of the powers of selfgovernment, and foolishly neglected to place upon it representatives of the people of India. The commission, of which Sir John Simon is chairman, knew nothing about the country or the requirements of its people. Its personnel was regarded with such dissatisfaction by the people of India that it was practically ignored. It is true that a few Mohammedans from northern India placed their views before the commission, but they did so only for their own personal aggrandisement. The leaders of the Indian people are united, and are demanding self-government for India as soon as possible. They have drafted a constitution which they intend to submit to the British Parliament. Here is a quotation from a newspaper which, as
I have already said, I received to-day, and which sets out the views of leaders of Indian thought -
How then shall we fight for India’s freedom?
Let us fix our thoughts on our goal - a Free United India. It is less necessary now to lay stress on past cases of foreign misrule than to emphasize the need for unity among ourselves, and for the leaders to set the example, by forgetting all real or imagined wrongs, and by making that forgetfulness the path to unity. We must not exaggerate any past or present mistakes of our opponents, or allow our passionate love for India to distort our judgment, or to express itself in any undignified or ungenerous act. We must be firm, but not provocative. We must state facts, but with dispassionate judgment. Let us remember that which we too often forget, that the foreigner here under the great law, the law of equilibrium, imposing suffering for our past sins, making us untouchable as we have made those we conquered untouchable. It was necessary for the paying of the debt we owed to the good law, that the foreigner should be put in the place of apparent, though not real, superiority.
That is over. His work is done. Equal comradeship with him is to begin if he will; let that not be made impossible from our side by acts of enmity. We are claiming our rights. We shall have them. But as every wrong done to us is the outcome of our own past, as every blow we have suffered was the re-bound of our own weapon, let us claim the privilege that belongs alone to the injured, to close the long account of mutual revenges, by pronouncing the magic words, “ we forgive.”
New India has been revived to begin India’s future work, a work wide as the world, sublime as the star.-studded sky, universal as the brotherhood of all that lives. In this there can be no room for hatred; we cast it behind us into the ocean of forgetfulness. “The Power that makes for righteousness “ is behind us; we forgive as we ask for forgiveness. Shall we not say, “ Father, forgive us both, for we knew not what we did.” Let us meet intolerance with tolerance, injury with pardon, hatred with love. Unless all the lessons of our Rishis are false, we must prevail. The charioteer on Kurukshetra carried no weapon; but where he was, there was victory.
That is the latest information published on behalf of the leaders of Indian thought.
– From what paper is that taken?
– From a publication entitled New India.
– The governing princes in India express totally different views.
– Individual princes, of course, speak for themselves; but the views expressed in the article I have read are truly representative of the Indian people. The honorable senator is perhaps referring to those who do not belong to British India, and who enjoy selfgovernment, more or less, in their own districts, but are under British rule. There are only three or four princes behind the British Government. The way to hold India for the Empire, and to prevent any trouble in Asia, is for Australia and other portions of the Empire to recognize the rights and claims of India to self-government under the British flag.
– That is not what Mr. Ryan suggested.
– I am coming to that. It is true that there is a section of people in India who have been voicing bolshevik principles, and who endeavour to bulldose the people as they have been doing here.
– The honorable senator is now approaching the point which I raised.
– I admit the danger of the bolshevik element.
– What of the PanPacific conference?
– I am speaking of the Pan-Pacific conference, as Senator Ogden knows. India is to he represented at the. conference.
– And other countries, too.
– Yes; and the decisions of that conference should be of importance to Australia. The bolshevik element is to be found in all countries; and it is because of the neglect of governments, especially in the East and in India, where the poverty is indescribable, and where millions arc starved and down-trodden, that bolsheviks find productive ground for their work. They are working here amongst a certain section, and are more or less a danger to the country. They are, however, a greater danger to our friends opposite than they are to us. One of the best assets we have at election time is the bolshevik propaganda. What will happen if this conference does meet? It will he attended by the representatives of different countries. Have we in Australia anything to hide?
– No one is objecting to the conference being held.
– Then, why have objections been raised?
– Because of the subjects to be discussed.
– These subjects include the independence and liberty of certain nations.
– Including the independence of India. That does not mean self-government under the British flag.
– I know that; but the resolutions passed would not affect India in the least.
– But if effect were given to them they might affect Australia.
-No. There is no need for honorable senators to become scared. I know something concerning India’s trade union movement, and its leaders. With very few exceptions the Indian people are loyal to the Empire. There are only a few amongst the millions of India who can be regarded as disloyal; they are not sufficient in numbers to affect the position. Some of the leaders in India are as keen about keeping India . within the Empire as are the most ardent Britishers in this chamber. By recognizing these facts we can see where we stand. I think it a very good idea to hold this congress. We have already the example of the League of Nations, which is endeavouring to bring about an international labour conference at which all the nations may be represented, including those mentioned by Senator Needham, for the purpose of having one international body to better the conditions of all nations.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands). - The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- The discussion this afternoon is upon a rather interesting subject, to which honorable senators could with advantage devote a considerable amount of time. Senator Needham was rather unfortunate in his reference to the Easter Conference held in Canberra about twelve months ago. The honorable senator claimed that certain formulae were laid down at that conference for the conduct of the proposed Pan-Pacific congress, but he knows, as well as I do, that prominent members of the party have turned their backs on other decisions of the conference. For instance, the conference decided that the Seale executive “was bogus, and that the Conway executive was the constitutional labour authority in New South Wales; but under the guidance of Mr. Garden and his band of avowed communists, Labour in New South Wales has disobeyed that decision. Mr. Lang, Mr. Willis, Mr. Voight, and others of that ilk spoke with such loud voices that the great leaders of the Federal Labour movement of Australia, including Mr. Theodore and Mr. Charlton, scuttled away like whipped dogs from the decisions of their supreme authority, and fell in behind the others. It was a pitable spectacle to see some who had avowed allegiance to the Canberra conference, among them Mr. Theodore - who came into the Commonwealth Parliament by the back door, seeking the leadership of the great Labour movement - turning their backs on the .decisions of this conference. Senator Needham and others supported Mr. Theodore’s attitude.
– I support the Labour conference now.
– The honorable senator does not.
– In what way have I not done so.
– Ex-Senator “Jupp” Gardiner stood behind the decisions of the Canberra conference, but where is he to-day?
– Can the honorable senator tell me wherein I have not recognized the decisions of the Canberra conference ?
– The honorable senator as a leader in the Labour movement should have gone into the New South Wales State election campaign and supported the decisions of the conference. That is what “ Jupp “ Gardiner did, and he has now been left out in the cold.
– Mr. “Jupp” Gardiner was in his own State, and had a right to enter the State electoral fight.
– I fell out with the Labour party in the first place because it had bowed the knee in obedience to the revolutionary element which controls the Trades and Labour Councils in the States.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands). - The honorable senator will not be in order in proceeding on those lines.
– It is time the Chair pulled him up.
– It is well for Senator Barnes to remember that I permitted his leader to deal very fully with the conference held at Canberra. I have also permitted Senator Ogden to deal with it somewhat fully, but I cannot permit him to indulge in personalities. Senator OGDEN. - I intended to connect my remarks with the association of the Australian Labour party with the secretariat of the Pan-Pacific congress. Although Senator Needham and others treat the matter lightly there is not the slightest doubt that the men in control of the Pan-Pacific secretariat, which has its head-quarters in China, are closely associated with the Third Internationale of Russia. In fact the men who were associated with the Pan-Pacific conference held at Shanghai were the Marxian disciples who are today controlling the Third Internationale of Russia. I shall not use my own arguments to back my assertion. I shall use those of Mr. Higgins, a well-known unionist, who is, or was, an official of the Australian Workers Union, and is a journalist who contributes articles- to the Australian Workers Union journal. Dealing with the declarations of the Canberra conference, to which I have alluded, Mr. Higgins said -
This is no mere party wrangle, no mere bickering over a split of officials. Behind the appeal to the Federal body to take action lies the question of our future as a nation - the policy of a White Australia.
While it remains to be seen what action the Federal executive will take, it must be noted that if it does not act, it will not be giving effect to the decisions of the interstate conference at Canberra.
The Federal body, in terms of those decisions, definitely lays down the ruling that no Communist can be a member of the Australian Labour party.
Communists control the Pan-Pacific secretariat -
For the first time in history a State executive has openly rebelled against the ruling of the higher authority.
He goes on to deal with matters to which I have just alluded in the following way :-
I have no hesitation in declaring that behind this deliberate flouting of the governing body, lie the most sinister influences with which Australia has to contend.
But what is to be done by the Federal body to combat foreign influence is another matter.
It is an extraordinary thing that the A.L.P. officials in this State deliberately avoid making any reply to accusations regarding their opposition to a White Australia policy.
Then follows the extraordinary sentence -
The Australian Council of Trade Unions is affiliated, through the Pan-Pacific Secretriat, whose head-quarters are in China, with the Third Internationale.
The article proceeds -
The Conroy Executive makes the direct charge that an attempt is being made to superimpose the Pan-Pacific Secretariat as the supreme Labour body in Australia.
What has Senator Needham to say in regard to that? The real danger is this: To-day the Labour party is a great political force. It commands the support of a huge body of electors, and sometimes a majority of them. But we are told by Mr. Higgins - a stalwart member of the Labour movement - that there is a direct attempt by this Pan-Pacific secretariat to gain control of the Labour movement in Australia. Mr. Higgins goes on to say -
Here is some pretty plain evidence. The Australian Council of Trades Unions a few months ago sent Mr. L. Ryan, a well-known Communist and minute secretary to the Communist Christmas conference, to represent Australian trades unionism at a conference held in Shanghai.
It is because of these entangling alliances with Communists in foreign lands that the Conroy executive believes firmly that the White Australia policy is menaced.
Does Senator Needham agree to that, or does he claim that there is no menace to the White Australia policy, such as Mr. Higgins fears? The article proceeds -
The fourth statute of the Pan-Pacific Secretariat provides for the complete abolition of all racial and national barriers between the people of the Pacific.
We see that there is an attempt by the Pan-Pacific Trade Union Secretariat to gain control of the Labour movement. Is there no danger in this to the Labour movement or the people of Australia? To me there is imminent danger to Australia. There is a danger that the revolutionary element will gain control of a movement which ought to possess the confidence of the people of Australia. I do not like to speak in this manner for I am no enemy of the Labour movement. But when the leaders of that movement succumb to a few “Red” revolutionaries it is time for plain speaking. I am sorry that the leaders of the labour movement have so weakly surrendered to that element. Mr. Higgins continues - “ No one dare deny that Russian and Chinese money is being freely spent to further this end. “ The official organ of the Pan-Pacific Secretariat, published in Shanghai, has an Australian edition, of which Mr. Garden is editor, and its leading article in the last edition applauded the Chinese conference for its determined effort to remove racial barriers.”
Evidently that article was written by Mr. Garden. The other men who signed the certificate of Australian affiliation were Mr. Duggan, and Mr. Croft, the president and the secretary respectively of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. I shall not read more, although there are other passages of a like nature. I am glad that Australian Workers Union - one of the. largest and most influential of Australian trade unions - has taken up the cudgels against communism. Whether it will continue the fight remains to be seen; but so far it is the only union which has made any effort to prevent the communists from gaining control of the labour movement “in Australia. Realizing the danger from communists the federal executive of that union carried a resolution that they should not be admitted into the labour movement. But the New South Wales executive of the union recently decided to admit communists. Unfortunately the New South Wales executive to-day has a big influence in the control of the labour movement.
– There is no labour movement in New South Wales; it is in fragments.
– Senator Duncan has rendered a good service in bringing this matter forward. I hope that, when the time comes, whatever government is in power will be strong enough to prevent those persons whose influence would be so disrupting from associating with decent trade unionists in this country.
– I do not know why Senator Duncan should be so gravely concerned about the welfare of this country merely because an international conference of persons representing the workers of various countries proposes to meet in Australia to discuss matters of mutual interest. Only when bodies representing organized labour desire to meet in conference with the object of solving some of the problems which confront them, and of understanding each other’s point of view, do honorable senators opposite become concerned about the interests of the Empire ! Senator Needham has shown that the object of the proposed conference is to enable the representatives of those countries surrounding the Pacific ocean - in which we are told the next great war will be fought - to consider matters of interest to them in such an event. For them to confer with a view to . deciding what they will do to prevent war, or their action in the event of war, is a commonsense thing for them to do. I do not see why the people of Japan, or of any other country, should not meet in conference with me, or any other Australian, who follows a similar occupation.
– No one objects to that.
– Representatives of the commercial and financial interests of this country and of other portions of the British Empire have met at various times in conference with the representatives of other countries. They have discussed not only matters of commercial and industrial importance, but also what action they would take in the event of war. Knowing that, why do honorable senators opposite raise such a storm when representatives of the workers in various countries seek to meet in conference? Is it because their interests are with the commercial and “ boodling “ sections of the community?
– No one objects to trade union representatives meeting in conference to discuss trade union matters.
– Senator Duncan objects strongly to the proposed conference.
– -Then why did the honorable senator bring forward his motion? Has he done so only to provide a further opportunity for making cheap jibes at the expense of the organizations represented by honorable senators on this side? If the honorable senator’s object is not to gain some political advantage, what is his purpose? Senator Duncan knows that if the proposed conference met in this country and attempted to foment a revolution in Australia, or to injure some other country, the Government would have the power to deal with it, and would be expected to exercise that power. There is no fear of the things which honorable senators have mentioned taking place. I do not suppose that any section of the people of Australia would tolerate any conference starting out on a sort of Guy Fawkes movement. There may be communists in the Labour party, but, if so, I do not know who they are. It is said that Mr. Ryan is a communist. I do not know the gentleman. Nor do I know who the representatives of other countries at the conference will be. I do not think that there is any grave danger to this country from the communists in it. Senator Ogden said that Mr. Higgins accused the communists of getting money from Russia and China. The influence of the communists in Australia was shown at the last Senate election when, in one of the biggest industrial suburbs of Sydney, Mr. “ Jock “ Garden, an alleged communist, polled only 500 votes. Yet honorable senators opposite still raise the old bogy of “ Money from Russia.” Personally, I believe that the communists receive their funds, not from Russia, but from the capitalist interests in this country, who realize the value of communism as an election cry. At election time the Government has only to raise the cry “ ‘ Jock ‘ Garden “ and the electors become panic striken. They do not know that for ten years the Labour party has been trying to get rid of “ Jock “ Garden. The usefulness of that gentleman to the Government was made clear recently when it refused him a passport to leave Australia. It is a wonder that Mr. Ryan was granted a passport. If “ Jock “ Garden had wanted to attend the conference, he would not have been permitted to leave Australia.
– Would not the honorable senator like to get rid of him?
– Yes; and so would the whole Labour movement. Unfortunately he has been placed on the backs of the Labour movement by its political enemies, and, because he is such an asset to them, they keep him there.
– Who appointed Mr. Garden to the position of secretary of the New South Wales Trade and Labour Council?
– I am informed that the communists appointed him, but I am not well acquainted with the New SouthWales Trade and Labour Council. I know, however, that many strange things are done in that State. I have no objection to the representatives of trade unions in various countries assembling in Australia to discuss matters of mutual interest. If they attempt the dangerous things’ suggested by Senator Duncan, the Government should recognize its responsibility to the community, and deal with them. Those who would foster revolution should be dealt with summarily, but I can see no objection to an international conference being held to discuss trade union matters generally.
– Does the honorable senator think that if these representatives are like the men with whom “ Jock “ Garden was photographed, they should be permitted to enter Australia?
– At the conference which he attended “ Jock “ Garden represented Australia in much the same way that the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) represented this country at the League of Nations at Geneva. There must be in existence photographs showing Senator Pearce in the company of Chinese, Japanese, Hindoos, and men of other nationalities. Such photographs are no reflection on the Minister. Nor is it a reflection on “ Jock “ Garden that he met in conference with the representatives of coloured peoples, and was photographed with them. Honorable senators may remember that at the opening of this Parliament a native of India - a coloured man - was present, and that during his stay here numbers of photographs were taken showing him in the company of various honorable senators and members of another place. Senator Duncan and he were photographed in a group in the King’s Hall. Indeed, Senator Duncan looked well alongside his coloured friend; and it must be said that “ Jock “ Garden compared reasonably with those with whom he was associated on the occasion when the photograph to which reference has been made was taken. Honorable senators opposite profess to see in the proposed conference a possible danger to the preservation of a White Australia. I remind them that some years ago it took a lot of effort on the part of the Labour party to convince some of their party of the danger of a coloured invasion. Honorable senators supporting the Government were so concerned a few weeks ago about a White Australia that they agreed to sell the vessels belonging to the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers although they knew that there was no power to prevent Lord Kylsant from manning them with coloured crews ! I pass by the remarks of honorable senators regarding the Australian Workers Union. It is well known that that organization has been one of the greatest influences in this country for peace - not only industrial peace, but also peace in other directions. The Australian Workers Union is not supported by any foreign capital; its income is derived from the membership fees of its members. It has no other source of revenue.
– Is the Australian Workers Union affiliated with the Australian Council of Trade Unions?
– No. The Australian Council of Trade Unions comprises representatives of various trades hall councils in Australia. The Australian Workers Union is affiliated with the Trades Hall Council in Western Australia, and the Victorian branch is similarly associated with the Melbourne Trades Hall Council. That is the extent of our affiliation with the Australian Council of Trade Unions. We have no direct connexion with that body.
– r-Why did the Australian Workers Union decline to affiliate with the Australian Council of Trade Unions in New South Wales?
– There were various reasons for our refusal, which I do not wish to discuss just now. My union is not in any way associated with the Australian Council of Trade Unions in either New South Wales or Queensland.
– In his concluding remarks, Senator Barnes practically endorsed the statements made by Senator Duncan. At the outset the honorable senator cleverly endeavoured to convey the impression that the object of the mover of the motion and also of those who supported it, was to object to the holding of an international trade union conference in Australia. I drew no such inference from the remarks of either Senator Duncan or the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce). Both emphasized that there could be no objection to an international conference of trade unions in Australia provided the subjects dealt with at such a gathering were limited to matters directly affecting trade unionism. No one would have the slightest objection to a conference convened to deal with matters affecting the workers of the world generally.
– That was only a blind to obscure the real reasons for the holding of the conference.
– That is exactly the position. Senator Barnes knows very well that he was merely endeavouring to cloud the issue when he suggested that honorable senators on this side were opposed to the holding of an international trade union conference in Australia. Nothing of the sort has been suggested at any time during the debate. Senator Needham referred to the number of resolutions passed at the Federal Labour Conference in Canberra last year. Had Senator Ogden not exposed the fate of that conference, I had intended to do so myself. It is well known that, so far as the New South Wales Labour party is concerned at all events, the Canberra conference was the joke of the season. The resolutions passed by it were totally ignored by the New South Wales executive. Senator Needham invited Senator Ogden to explain to the Senate in what way he had gone back on the resolutions of the Canberra Federal Conference. Surely the Leader of the Opposition must know that if he had stood by those resolutions, he would not, at this moment, be sitting side by side with a single representative of the New South Wales Labour party in this chamber. The New South Wales executive declared the conference black. Although the Conroy executive expelled the Lang party, it was .impotent, and could not enforce its will on the recalcitrants. The present executive of the Labour party in New South Wales took no notice whatever of the Canberra resolutions, and if those who attended that gathering had attempted to stand by them, they would not now be in the New South Wales Labour party. Senator Needham’s references to the resolutions of the Canberra Conference, dealing with the proposed Pan-Pacific Conference, showed clearly that the matters proposed to be discussed were of a character totally different from those mentioned in the agenda drawn up by those who are now convening the congress. There was nothing objectionable in them. But the convening of the conference is now in different hands. It is being engineered by Mr. Ryan who went to Shanghai as the accredited representative of the Trades and Labour Council of New South Wales, which, as we know, exercises an important influence on the Labour movement in Australia. That Council has never been repudiated by any Labour members of the Federal or State Parliaments, notwithstanding that it committed the greatest sin in the calendar of the Labour movement by forming a “ scab “ organization to oppose the Conroy executive, and repudiated the resolutions of the Canberra conference. We can only assume, therefore, that the Trades and Labour Council in New South Wales bulks largely in the eyes of the Labour movement in Australia.
– Is Mr. Ryan the convener of the Pan-Pacific conference?
– If he is not the convener, he is the man who is taking the most prominent part in the matter.
– At Shanghai he was elected to the secretariat and was appointed as a delegate to Japanese trade unions.
– And in the eyes of the world he is a leader in the trade union movement in Australia.
– He sits cheek by jowl with men like “ Jock “ Garden and Donald Grant. The latter occupies a prominent position in the Labour preselection ballot for the Senate in New
South Wales. In the light of these facts what is the use of Senator Barnes or any other member of the Labour par r endeavouring to make us believe that these men are not leaders of the movement?
– I do not think that the rank and file of Labour in Australia approves of the attitude of the New South Wales executive, but the leaders will not speak their minds.
– They realize only too well how the New South Wales executive is damaging the movement in Australia by disclosing the true objective of Labour in this country. I wish again to emphasize that no honorable senator who has spoken in support of the motion has any objection to an international congress of trade unions to discuss matters legitimately connected with the trade union movement.
– But this is not a trade union conference at all.
– That is the point. The proposed Pan-Pacific conference is being convened to discuss such questions as the move for independence in China, India and the Philippines. In view of the turmoil that has existed in China for some time, it would be a very bad advertisement for Australia if resolutions bearing on such international questions emanated from a conference held in our largest capital city. And what would the people of America think of the Commonwealth Government if it permitted a conference to deal with matters affecting the administration of the Philippines?
– Particularly when the object of the conference is so openly avowed.
– That is so. In view of the fact that the Labour movement in this country has associated with it certain people of known communistic and bolshevik tendencies, it would be particularly unfortunate if the Government allowed such a conference to be convened by the crowd that is in control of the movement to-day. Senator Duncan has rendered a distinct service to Australia by directing attention to this matter. I hope that, as a result of this motion,, action will be taken by the Government to prevent the holding of such ah undesirable conference at which resolutions might be carried involving Australia in grave international complications.
– I think the course of the debate has fully justified my action in bringing this matter before the Senate. It has revealed one or two astonishing features. I was particularly careful, in submitting the motion, not to associate the Labour part; in this Parliament with those who are mainly responsible for the convening of the proposed Pan-Pacific conference. I made no reference to the Labour party as a political body. Nevertheless Senator Needham declared that the allegations contained in my speech were directly aimed at the party to which he belongs. I do not believe that any honorable senator who has spoken in this debate linked the political Labour party with the man who attended the Shanghai conference, and is connected with the Third Internationale. But, as I have stated, Senator Needham went to a great deal of trouble to prove that his party was responsible for the convening of the first Pan-Pacific trade union conference. He emphasized that it was the political Labour party - not the trade union movement, and not Garden and companythat was responsible for the conference. I remind Senator Needham, who evidently is not so familiar with the history of the Labour movement as he ought to be, in view of the position he holds in this chamber, that at the last federal elec tion an attempt was made to associate his party with the people who were responsible for the calling of the last PanPacific conference. A famous photograph of that gathering showed Mr. Garden in their midst. All Labour candidates declared, of course, that they had nothing whatever to do with Garden or the last Pan-Pacific congress. They said “ Their ways are not our ways, and ours are not theirs.” They dissociated themselves entirely from the congress. We were told, in effect, that we did not know what we were talking about when we said that there was an association between the two, slender though it might be. To-day, however, Senator Needham has declared openly that we were right in what we then said, that his party is responsible for the calling of this conference, and that it is prepared to stand behind it no matter what it might do. He has also claimed that no person has the right to challenge the bona fides of that conference.
– I asked the honorable senator to wait until the conference had been held and its decisions were reported.
– I expected that Senator Needham would support me not that he would associate himself with the enemies of Australia. I wanted to make sure that a conference which would have before it a proposition such as that to which I have already referred should not be held in Australia. We do not want that class of people in this country. Senator “Needham has said “Let us welcome these people from Asiatic countries.” During the’ course of my speech, I did not speak in derogatory terms of Japan. What I said was that Japan is one of the countries which ha3 been invited to send representatives to a conference to consider, not the betterment of international relations and the peace of the Pacific, but means whereby industrial, political and national ferment may be worked up, with the object of overthrowing existing institutions. This is not a trade union matter at all. I thank Senator Ogden for the speech which he delivered. I was already acquainted with the facts to which he referred. He supported up to the hilt everything that I said.
– What connexion is there between the congress and the political Labour movement?
– I ask Senator Hoare to remember that I did not refer to the political Labour movement. I challenge him to show where I made any reference to it. I did not believe that that movement had anything to do with the congress. Senator Needham, however, has shown that a link exists between the two, and he must take the responsibility before the electors. I had no political end in view when I brought this matter before the Senate. I did not think it would be possible to associate the Labour party with this business; but Senator Needham has done so.
I shall deal now with the remarkable speech of my friend, Senator Reid.
– Wherein was it remarkable ?
– One has only to mention India, even though it be in a complimentary way, in the presence of Senator Reid, and the effect is similar to that produced by a red rag on a bull. I realize, as every honorable senator must, that in this chamber Senator Reid is the authority par excellence upon India and Indian affairs. He has made a life-long study of them. He is acquainted with all the leaders, and knows what their opinons are upon the problems of not only India itself but also every other country. I have no desire to contest his claim that he is the champion of India in this chamber. When I used the expression “ We must hold India,” I was placing the matter on the highest plane. India to-day is a part of the British Empire. Senator Reid was at great pains to show that it is the most important part, because it is the largest centre of population. The inhabitants of India, being members, of the British Empire, must hold that country.
– We do not want Russia to hold it.
– During the course of the speech which I made earlier I pointed to an interesting fact in current history. I said that evidently there is one country which is determined to use every means in its power to withdraw India from the British Empire and the British Commonwealth of Nations. Today, Russia is making extravagant overtures to Afghanistan in order that the way may be opened for her to use India to suit her own purposes. Because I pointed out this fact, Senator Reid called me an enemy of India and said that I had made sneering remarks regarding her.
– The honorable senator did not point that out.
– I made no sneering remarks about either India or the Indians. I am aware that the Ghurkas, the Sikhs, and other members of the Indian race have done magnificent work for the Empire. I want to see them remain within the Empire, and to develop until they have obtained self-government under the British flag.
– That is what they themselves want.
– Senator Reid and I are now in the most perfect agreement, and I hope he will do me the justice of saying that he misunderstood the trend of my previous remarks. I feel confident that, underlying this proposal for the holding of a Pan-Pacific congress there is a covert attack upon India and the British Empire. Unless we take a firm stand we may find that, instead of Australia being one of the strong arms of the British Empire in time of trouble, the influences which have been at work in our midst have paralyzed our energies and made it impossible for us to take the stand we ought to take. I ask leave to withdraw the motion.
Leave granted ; motion withdrawn.
asked the Minister representing the Minister in charge of Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What is the number of cases of apples exported to all Eastern markets, including Singapore, Sourabaya, Hong Kong, Port Said, Batavia, Manila, Colombo, and Calcutta during the year ended 31st March, 1928?
– The information is being; obtained.
Motions (by Senator Foll) agreed to-
That Senator P. P. Abbott be granted one month’s leave of absence on account of urgent private business.
That Senator H. J. M. Payne be granted two months’ leave of absence on account of absence overseas.
Motion (by Senator McLachlan proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
– I move -
That all the words after “That” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ the bill be re-committed for the purpose of reconsidering clause 1, paragraph 6, of the first schedule.”
When I moved yesterday that the bill be recommitted for the purpose I have just indicated, I was under the impression that no objection would be offered by either the Minister in charge of the bill (Senator McLachlan) or the Leader of the Senate (Senator Sir George Pearce). I was somewhat surprised, therefore, in view of what had transpired when the bill was in committee, to find that they declined to meet my wishes. I was further surprised at the statement of the Minister that he did not know why I was asking for the recommittal of the measure. When we were in committee, I moved an amendment to increase the maximum weekly payment from £8 to £3 10s. That amendment was defeated. The question of child allowance was raised, and I intimated that I wished to move an amendment in that direction. A discussion ensued, and the schedule was postponed to allow the Minister to bring in a considered amendment to paragraph c. The committee agreed to that amendment. I then attempted to move an amendment of paragraph b, but the Chairman ruled that I could not do so at that stage. The Minister, however, indicated that he would have no objection to the recommital of the bill, so that I was amazed at the course which he adopted on
Friday last. According to Hansard, page 4783, he said yesterday -
Yesterday I gave Senator Needham the assurance that I would not oppose the recommittal of the bill to enable him to move in a certain direction. I see no reason why the bill should not be recommitted to enable him to move the amendment to paragraph (b) that he has indicated to-day.
Inview of that statement, and of the fact that the Leader of the Government (Senator Pearce) suggested to me the procedure to be adopted for the recommittal, I was astounded yesterday when both the Leader of the Senate and the Minister in charge of the measure opposed my motion. Apart from the importance of the subject, the Minister should, in view of his statement and as an act of fair play, have agreed to my proposal.
– When did the Minister make the statement which the honorable senator has quoted?
– On Friday last. During the time I have occupied my present position any arrangements made between Ministers and myself have always been honoured. It is essential at times for Ministers to enter into an arrangement with the Leader of the Opposition in order to facilitate business, and up to the present all such arrangements have been honoured. I cannot, however, understand why, in the circumstances I have mentioned, the Minister should have opposed the recommittal of the bill. Yesterday he stated that he . did not know the object of the amendment I desired to move; but I have already quoted his words. The support I received when I moved my motion is sufficient to show that a number of honorable senators were under the impression that the Minister had agreed to the recommittal. In view of the facts which I have placed before the Senate I trust the Minister will reconsider his decision.
– I regret exceedingly that there has been a misunderstanding between the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) and myself, because, however we may differ politically, I am sure he will accept my assurance when I say that I would not intentionally break a promise. The honorable senator will probably recollect that after the,. Chairman of Committees (Senator Plain) had given a ruling, I interposed. If . I had thought I left the impression, as the words which the honorable senator has quoted suggest, that I would not object to the recommittal, I should not have opposed his motion yesterday. I can assure the honorable senator, however, that it was not my intion to support the recommittal. At the time to which he has referred I believe there were two major points upon which the honorable senator wished to recommit the bill; one was in relation to occupational diseases, and the other the amendment of the second schedule. The Leader of the Opposition, prior to the statement which he has quoted, moved -
That the words “ not to exceed “, clause 1, sub-clause (b), be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “not to be less than “.
The Chairman then said -
I cannot accept the honorable senator’s amendment, seeing that the committee has already dealt with paragraph (b).
The reply of the Leader of the Opposition was -
In view of your ruling Mr. Chairman, I shall later move for the recommittal of the first schedule in order to enable me to move the amendment I have indicated.
When I used the words which the Leader of the Opposition has quoted, I was under a misapprehension concerning the finality of the discussion between the Leader of the Opposition and the Chairman of Committees. I trust the honorable senator will accept my assurance that I had no intention of breaking a promise. In the circumstances, I shall not oppose the recommittal.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
In committee (Recommittal) :
First schedule -
The amount of compensation under this act shall ‘be -
Provided that as respects the weekly payments during total incapacity of an employee who is under 21 years of age at the date of the injury, and whose weekly pay is less than 30s., one hundred per centum shall be substituted for two-thirds of his weekly pay, but the weekly payment shall in no case exceed one pound;
– I move -
That the word “exceed,” paragraph (6), be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ be less than “.
I take this opportunity of assuring the honorable Minister (Senator McLachlan) that I gladly accept his explanation; I feel confident he would, not intentionally break a promise. If my amendment is adopted paragraph b will read -
The amount of compensation under this act shall be -
where total or partial incapacity for work results from the injur)’, a weekly payment during the incapacity not exceeding two-thirds of the employee’s weekly pay at the time of the injury, such weekly payment not to be less than three pounds.
I attempted to secure an increase in the maximum weekly payment from £3 to £3 10s. and in doing so pointed out that when a bread winner was totally or partially incapacitated it would be exceedingly difficult for him to maintain his family on less than £3 10s. a week. In many cases the maximum of £3 could not be reached under the provision as it stands because in some of the States the basic wage does not exceed £4 5s., and two-thirds of that amount would not be £3. I venture to say that £3 a week is not ‘too much to ask for the sustenance of a married man with a family while he is incapacitated as the result of an accident. In my opinion, the same rate should apply to both married and single men. In many instances single men have serious responsibilities, such as widowed mothers, brothers, sisters, and possibly other relatives who are dependent on them. I seek now to insert this new feature in a bill which, speaking by and large, is certainly a good measure. I have already said that it is a vast improvement on the existing act, and that in many respects it is abreast of State legislation, but I still think that it needs improvement. The committee has already agreed to the payment of child endowment; but I think it would do something more effective if it would agree to my amendment, which fixes the standard amount that an injured employee will receive as his weekly income during the period of his incapacity, total or partial, resulting from an accident that has befallen him while following his occupation.
– As I have already indicated to honorable senators, the Government cannot see its way to agree to increase the weekly payment to £3 in all cases. The committee has supported the Government in its opposition to the honorable senator’s former proposal to fix the maximum at £3 10s. a week. But the amendment the honorable senator now seeks to make would place no limit on the amount of compensation to be paid to some injured employees. The proposal is that the injured employee should get two-thirds of his salary, and that the amount must not be less than £3 a week. Thus a worker with a salary of £6 a week would draw compensation amounting to £4 a week, and a man with a lower wage would not get less than £3. As a matter of fact, the compensation payable in some cases would be greater than the £3 10s. a week, which the committee has. already decided should not be paid. The honorable senator is thus asking the committee to reverse its previous decision, which fixed the maximum payment at £3 a week. The honorable senator wants the committee to make the minimum £3 a week. I think the matter has been approached by the Government in a spirit of generosity. The maximum provided for in the schedule is £3 a week, and to that with the consent of the committee the Government has added child endowment payments. I think the provision already made ought to be sufficient, and I therefore ask the committee to reject the amendment.
Question - That the word proposed t» be left out (Senator Needham’s amendment) be left out. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause of schedule agreed to.
Bill reported without further amendment; report adopted.
Standing and sessional orders suspended, and bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 16th May (vide page 4868), on motion by Senator Crawford -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– Although I do not think there will be much opposition to a measure like this, which is necessary for the protection of a very important Australian industry, it opens up one or two avenues for debate. The first consideration that occurs to one is whether it is within the power of this Parliament to enact this legislation. We are advised by the Attorney-General that he is satisfied that the bill is within the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth. Recently the High Court decided in the McArthur case that the true function of section 92 of the Constitution Act was to protect interstate trade against State interference, and was not to affect the legislative powers of the Commonwealth. The Attorney-General having drawn that deduction, I am compelled as an ordinary layman to accept his assurance that for the time being at any rate, the bill is within the four walls of the Constitution. We know that the decisions of the High Court are not like the laws of the Medes and Persians; they are not unalterable; they change as the personnel of the court is changed. But it is not my desire to anticipate any trouble in connexion with this legislation, and I shall content myself with a brief review of its provisions.
The first principle involved is an interference with private enterprise. A Government that has set up private enterprise as a fetish, and has proclaimed from the housetops that private enterprise must not be interfered with, gives to this bill a little Mussolini touch, inasmuch as the people engaged in the dried fruits business in Australia are told by it that they can go so far and no further, or be penalized. Not long ago we remember Senator McLachlan appealing to us not to criticize the Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, or say whether its charges for wireless messages were reasonable or unreasonable. Yet to-day the Government, is exercising the legislative machine to regulate, control, and interfere with private enterprise.
– There is no Government interference.
– On the contrary, there is both Government and parliamentary interference.
– There is a lot of difference between fruit and ships!
– In the fruit business there is no Lord Kylsant or shipping combine. The fruit-growers of Australia- are not so highly organized as is the shipping combine. The man on the land is now told what he must do with his fruit; he must contribute a certain quota to a pool for export. But what is the position in another primary industry? For a number of years the wheat-growers of Australia have been endeavouring to get a 100 per cent, compulsory pool, but the Government has advanced all sorts of reasons why there should not be such a pool. I wish it to be understood that while I criticize this measure, I am not opposed to it; I am merely pointing out the inconsistency of the Government. While the bill will grant some assistance to the fruit-growers, it does not go far enough. After the termination of the great war, the Government assisted to place a number of returned soldiers on the land to engage in fruit growing. As a result, the production of dried fruits increased considerably. I shall make but passing reference to the manner in which the land settlement policyin connexion with returned soldiers was put into operation - I realize that the object of the various Governments was a laudable one - but in many instances men were placed on land which was not suitable for fruit growing, but for which high prices were charged.
– Not for the fruit land.
– I am speaking generally. Many returned soldiers are still suffering because of the high prices charged for unsuitable land. In his second-reading speech the Minister said that some time ago Australia consumed 80 per cent, of its fruit production and exported the remainder. To-day the position is reversed. The latest figures I have been able to obtain relate to the year 1925-26, during which the production of raisins in Australia was 495,000 cwt.oand of currants, 244,000 cwt. Those figures show a vast increase on the production during 1918-19 when the figures were - raisins 170,000 cwt. and currants 132,000 cwt. About four years ago, as a result of legislation passed by this Parliament, a Dried Fruits Export Control Board was established. In four of the States dried fruits boards were formed. The duty of those hoards was to fix an export quota. Under the legislation of the States, dried fruits could be compulsorily acquired where considered necessary. That was done to ensure that every grower would place at the disposal of the central board a certain percentage of his crop for export. Naturally, the growers preferred to sell their products in the home market to shipping it overseas. I understand that one grower in South Australia was proceeded against and some of his fruit compulsorily acquired by the State board. His appeal to the High Court being upheld the then existing legislation was nullified. The bill before us is the outcome of that decision. In so far as this measure will assist to co-ordinate the activities of those engaged in the fruit industry, it is welcome, but it should go further, and give more practical assistance to them. When this bill was before another place an honorable member with considerable” experience in fruit growing, the accuracy of whose statement I have no reason to doubt, said that it cost £120 to produce fruit to the value of £100. That statement shows that the fruit-growers of Australia are indeed in an unenviable position. Seeing that for many years the Government has scattered bounties right and left, it would be justified in granting a bounty to the fruit-growers. That need not involve the scrapping of this measure ; the two could work together. The Australian Dried Fruits News of 15th February, 1927, contains the following statement relating to the payment of an export bounty on dried fruits : -
What we now ask is that an export bounty up to£10 per ton be granted on lexias and currants when the return from these fruits fails to give a net return to growers of £30 per ton; that is to say, that the amount of bounty in no case to exceed £10 per ton, but to be paid only when the average net return falls below £30. Then, if the average return is £20 or less the maximum bounty of £10 to be paid; if the average return is over £20 only sufficient bounty to be paid to bring the return up to £30 per ton.
It is claimed-
That such a measure would give equal assistance to growers of grapes suitable for drying as the wine bounty does.
That the too rapid expansion of the wine industry would be avoided and embarrassment both to the winemakers and Government avoided.
That the bounty could be paid direct to the grower, as the export of dried fruit is generally done by agents on behalf of growers.
I presume that the fruit-growing industry, like many other industries in Australia, has suffered considerably, and I dare say is suffering to-day, because of the rapacity of the middleman.
– What middleman has the honorable senator in mind? The whole of the export trade is in the hands of the Export Control Board.
– I am aware that this legislation seeks to protect the grower. I was speaking in a general sense. We are all aware that at some time or other growers have suffered at the hands of agents.
– One grower has stated that he sold his dried fruits for 9d. per packet, and later had to pay 2s. a. packet for some of his own product.
– The instance cited by Senator Hoare is but one of many that could be mentioned. Legislation of this nature will eliminate the influence of the middlemen; but it will not, of itself, give adequate protection to the producers. It has been shown that, under present’ conditions, it costs the grower £120 to produce £100 worth of fruit. Since the Government has been so lavish in granting bounties to many other industries, primary and secondary, it might well consider whether or not the producers of dried fruits should be similarly encouraged. As I stated in my opening remarks, I am not opposing the measure. My purpose in discussing it this afternoon was to refer to the constitutional aspects of the Government’s proposals and to express the hope that, if we pass this bill, we shall not have further litigation on the subject in the High Court.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 -
– I move -
That after the word “ Where sub-clause 5, the following words be inserted: - “the Minister, on report by:” and that the words “ prescribed authority “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ Minister.”
The object is to make the clause conform to similar provisions in the dried fruits, dairy produce, and canned fruits export control acts passed by this Parliament in recent years, in connexion with the issue of licences for the export of the respective products from Australia; It will enable one authority to decide the issue in regard to the cancellation of licences instead of several different authorities, who may differ in opinion as to what constitutes a contravention of the condition of licence.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 4 and 5 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 16th May (vide page 4867), on motion by Senator Crawford -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– I paid particular attention to the remarks of the Minister when moving the second reading of this measure and failed to discover in them. anything in the nature of a sound argument to support the Government’s proposal to reduce the bounty on the export of wine. In view of the far-reaching importance of the bill and the interest manifested in it, not only when it was being discussed in another place, but since then in fruit-growing districts, one would have expected the Minister to furnish the Senate with more precise information as to the reasons for its introduction. He simply said, in effect - “Here is the bill. The Government has decided to reduce the bounty. Take it or leave it.” This is in keeping with the arrogant spirit displayed by the Government on many occasions, and is typical of its disregard for the considered opinions of the people in the industry and their representatives in this Parliament. The Minister (Senator Crawford) is not treating the Senate fairly when he attempts to dispose summarily of a measure of such far-reaching importance to the grape-growers of Australia. South Australia will be affected to the greatest extent, and next in order will be the States of Victoria, Western Australia, and New South Wales. It will thus be seen that four of the States are keenly interested in the growing of grapes and the manufacture and export of wine. During the war the growing of doradillo grapes was a profitable occupation, and subsequently, the Commonwealth Government assisted a number of returned soldiers to go upon the land and engage in that occupation. In 1924, however, a slump occurred, and the- bottom fell out of the market. The price of doradillo grapes dropped substantially. If I have not been wrongly informed, the growers received approximately £3 a ton for their product.
– That is correct.
– Those who are acquainted with the production of grapes in Australia know that that price is about 50 per cent, below what the growers ought to receive. I understand that the doradillo grape is used mainly in the production of spirit, and that, apart from that aspect, it is not suitable for the manufacture of wine. With a view to finding a market for the spirit that was produced from the doradillo grape, the Commonwealth Government in 1924 passed the Wine Export Bounty Act, which provided for the payment of an export bounty of 4s. a gallon on wine of a strength of 34 degrees. The act further provided that the bounty should operate for a period of three years. In reality the bounty was equivalent to only 2s. 9d. a gallon, because there was a drawback of ls., 3d. a gallon, representing the duty which had to be paid on the fortifying spirit content of the wine as the Government charged an excise of 5s. a gallon on the spirit derived from doradillo grapes. To arrive at a complete understanding of the position, it is necessary to study the conditions that have operated in Great Britain. / The British, tar iff lays it down that wine with a spirit content of 30 per cent, or less is a dry wine, and that when the spirit content is greater than 30 per cent, it is a sweet wine.
– That is a new definition. .
– That is the definition in the British tariff as I understand it. Perhaps the Minister, ‘when he is replying, may be able to give information that he did not vouchsafe when he opened the debate. In 1924 the British duty on dry wine containing ‘30 per cent, or less of proof spirit, was 2s. 6d. a gallon, and on sweet wine containing more than 30 per cent, of proof spirit, it was 6s. a gallon. The preference given to Empire products was ls. a gallon in the case of dry wine, and 2s. a gallon in the case of sweet wine. Because of the distance that our wine has to travel, and the fact that it must pass through the tropics, it requires a greater amount of fortification than do wines that are made on the continent. It will be seen that the Australian wine had to pay a duty of 4s. a gallon, while continental wine, which contained less than 29 degrees of proof spirit, was charged a duty of only 2s. 6d. a gallon. In 1925 an additional preference of 2s. a gallon on sweet wine was given to Australia, which thus had to pay a duty of 2s. a gallon. As continental wines were dutiable at the rate of 2s. 6d. a gallon, Australia had a preference of 6d. a gallon. That preference, however, together with the bounty of 2s. 9d. a gallon, gave the industry a great impetus, with the result that the volume of wine exported increased considerably. In 1927 a bill was introduced into this Parliament to reduce the rate of bounty from 2s. 9d. to ls. 9d. a gallon, plus the drawback of ls. 3d. a gallon. A revision of the British tariff was made last year, and the duty was increased to 4s. a gallon in the case of Empire wine, and 8s. a gallon in the case of foreign wine. In addition to that tariff, the line of division between high and low strength was made 25 degrees in the case of foreign wine and 27 degrees in the case of Empire wine. That meant that Australia was. given the substantial preference of 4s. a gallon. I have no doubt that honorable senators will say that such a preference justifies the Government in reducing the rate of bounty. A close examination of the matter is necessary to ascertain whether that is .so. Another element has to be taken into consideration. It is of recent occurrence, and the Government has either. ignored it entirely or is determined to. overlook it. I refer to the manufacture of wine in Great. Britain.
– The Government is. not ignorant of that fact, nor has it been overlooked.
– Its determination to reduce the bounty suggests that it is ignoring it. Grape juice is being imported into Great Britain in an unfermented state, and in consequence no duty has to be paid upon it. I understand that a quantity of that grape juice is made from cheap currants imported from Greece. The British Government in the first place imposed an excise duty of only ls; a gallon on manufactured wines, but I understand that that has been increased lately to ls. 6d. a gallon. This wine will compete very largely with our wine on the British market.
– Because it is cheap. Senator NEEDHAM.- That is the reason.
– And it is a much inferior article. .
– Undoubtedly. I believe that that class of wine is described in Australia as “ pinkie.” When this bill was before another place, the Minister who had charge of it referred to exporters on the continent exporting to Britain certain proportions of low and high strength wines. Manufacturers in England blended three gallons of wine of 25 degrees strength, -on which they paid a duty of 3s. a gallon, with one gallon of wine of a strength of 42 degrees, on which they paid a duty of 8s. a gallon. They thus obtained a blended wine of approximately 29 degrees, which is about the strength of the wine with which we had formerly to compete, at an average duty rate of 4s. 3d. a gallon. As a result of this it will be seen that this blended wine which only paid 4s. 3d. a gallon practically nullified our preference of 4s. a gallon. The Minister did not attach much, importance to that phase of the question.
– I said that the project had not been very successful.
– The Minister said that the blending of certain wines in Britain had not damaged Australia’s trade in fortified wines.
– Those who have invested capital in the concern have received a dividend of 30 per cent.
– I am coming to that. I emphasize the fact that this aspect of the question has been treated by the Government in a very casual manner. Can the Minister prove the statement he made when introducing the bill that the competition from the wine which is being blended in Great Britain is not injurious to the Australian wine trade ?
– If it is sold at cheap rates, it must be injurious to the trade. .
– Yes. The Minister has made a bald statement which he has not supported with a tittle of evidence. A Minister in another place said that a wine-maker who had returned from Great Britain had stated that as long as we produced wine of a good quality, at a reasonable price, we had nothing to fear from this source. Probably the Minister based his assertion on the opinion of one authority.
– That is not so. Similar statements have been made by others.
– The statement of the gentleman mentioned by the Minister in another place has not been corroborated.
– The Leader of the Opposition knows that the Commonwealth has its representatives in London.
– This gentleman on whose opinion’ the Minister bases his assertion has since written denying the truth of the statement. Can the Minister substantiate the statement that low-priced wine blended in Great Britain is not interfering with Australia’s wine trade? The Government should realize that this British blend which, as mentioned by Senator Hoare is cheap in comparison with Australian wines, is a dangerous rival. I have read a report published in Great Britain tq the effect that a firm handling the blended wine made a net profit last year of £172,000, and paid a dividend of 30 per cent. That confirms the statement .made by Senator Robinson. Notwithstanding that, the Minister says that the product of this company does not enter into competition with Australian wines. The Minister, in another place, practically admitted that it nullifies the preference we should receive.
– I have not admitted anything of the kind. The competition from this particular grade of wine is no greater than it was before the preference was increased.
– Does the Minister admit that it enters into competition with Australian wines?
– Yes, but no more than when the British preference was less than it is to-day.
– That is of no advantage to Australian producers. The sale of this cheap product is affecting the sale of Australian wines in Great Britain.
– No more than it did a year or two ago. No one suggests that we have the whole of the British market.
– No,but we should appreciate the danger resulting from this competition.
– How can we cutout such competition?
– Not by reducing the bounty. The dangers I have pointed out will not be minimized by the passage of this bill. The following telegram recently appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald: -
Wine Growers’ Losses
Referring to the reduction of the wine export bounty from1s. 9d. to1s. per gallon by the bill which has been passed by the House of Representatives, the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Cowan) said to-day that the reduction would have a serious effect on the wine industry of South Australia. The Commonwealth Government should have given at least twelve months’ notice of its intention to introduce such legislation, so as to enable merchants and growers to make their arrangements accordingly. The reduced bounty would lead to considerable disorganization of business. The distilleries had purchased grapes with a condition that the bounty would be continued at the old rates so that the loss would probably fall on the growers to whom the reductions would be a very serious thing.
– I agree with the honorable senator to the extent that the Commonwealth Government does not appreciate the importance of the wine industry to Australia. If it did, this measure, which amounts really to a breach of contract on the part of the Government, would not be before us.
– The bounty has been abused by wine speculators, who got busy while “ the going was good.”
– That is no reason why the Government should break its contract. It induced certain people to undertake grape production on the understanding that a bounty would be paid, and many who are struggling to make a success of their holdings are to be deprived of a large portion of their returns. The Government should have held its hand a few weeks ago when the measure met with such strong opposition in another place. The statement of the Minister of Agriculture in South Australia will be endorsed by the Ministers of Agriculture in Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. Contracts were entered into on the understanding that the bounty would continue at the old rate in the full- period of three years.
– They were told that if the British preference were increased it would not.
– How long ago?
– In March of last year when, the Minister introduced thebill under which the bounty was reduced to1s. 9d. per gallon.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– I understand that within the last 24 hours, representations have been made to the Prime Minister and the Minister for Markets by a deputation from a cooperative distillery at Berri in South Australia. In this concern there are 520’ shareholders, 80 per cent, of whom are returned soldiers, and they have invested approximately £130,000 in the business. The members of the deputation also waited on me yesterday afternoon and put before me what I consider to be a very good case for the payment of the old bounty beyond the date fixed in the bill. I understand that they were granted an interview by the Prime Minister, and, beyond stating that I am entirely in sympathy with the request of the deputation, I shall defer any comments I may have to offer until I have heard the decision of the Government with regard to the representations placed before him. If the Government wishes to assist the wine export trade, it will abandon this bill and revert to the status quo. The bill is a repudiation of a contract. No government should lend itself to anything in the nature of repudiation. It is true that since its introduction in another place the bill hasbeen slightly modified, but, nevertheless, it proposes a drastic reduction in thebounty without any direct evidence of that change of conditions in regard to the preferential duties imposed ?by Great Britain which has been put forward as justification for the reduction. No logical or reasonable argument has “been advanced to justify a reduction in the bounty. The Government has clearly broken faith with the wine-growers of Australia; it has repudiated its contract with them. Many people were induced to go into the business of wine-growing as a result of promises of government assistance, and just now when they are hopeful of getting this assistance, it is to be cut off. I regret the action of the Government in bringing forward this bill, and if the measure is not abandoned, I hope the Senate will reject it.
– I look upon it as a great privilege and indeed a great responsibility to be associated with you, Mr. President, in the representation of South Australia in the Senate, and I hope that no action of mine inside or outside the Chamber will be such as to cause me to forfeit the confidence reposed in me by the joint sitting of both Houses of the South Australian Parliament on Tuesday last when my appointment by the South Australian Executive to this Senate was ratified. I wish to express my gratitude for all the kindnesses extended to me- since my advent to this Chamber. I sincerely thank honorable senators on both sides for the right hand of fellowship held out to me, an utter stranger coming among them, and I wish also to acknowledge the courtesy and consideration shown to me by the highly organized staff in this Parliament, which reflects such great credit to you, Mr. President, as its head.
Having acknowledged these courtesies and having, I hope, to some extent toned down the atmosphere that has been created by the remarks of Senator Needham, I wish if possible to bring before the Senate the attitude of the State of South Australia towards the important bill now under consideration, and the vital effect the measure will have upon the wine-making industry. I hope that honorable senators representing Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia, as well as New South Wales, the wine-growers of which are affected by the bill but not to the same extent as those of South Australia, will approach the matter with an open mind. That I have been a good party man all my life my record, if investigated, will show. On the last occasion when I was selected by my district - for nine years I had had the pleasure of representing a rural community in the South Australian Assembly - I,retired from the election in order that the anti-socialist forces might be consolidated and present a united front to a common enemy.
– Do not spoil a good record now.
– I mention these facts because I hope not to be called upon to look at matters from a party aspect now that I am a member of a branch of the Commonwealth legislature which has been set up primarily as a States House, and .might well be expected to review measures not from any party aspect but from the point of view of how they are likely to affect Australia, and the welfare of the respective States.
I have had an opportunity to become intimately acquainted with the intricacies of the wine industry. As a student at the Roseworthy Agricultural College, I took a course of three years in viticulture under Professor Perkins. Later on, I had an opportunity to represent in the State Parliament my district of Wooroora, in which were situated two of the most renowned wineries of the Southern hemisphere, Seppeltsfield and Springfield. The latter is owned by Buring and Sobels, whose famous Quelthala wines have a world-wide reputation.
– Does the honorable senator recommend them?
– They need no recommendation. If all our Australian wines were of the same quality there would be no need for a bill of this sort. Later on, as chairman of the South Australian. Railways Standing Committee, it was my function to advise the Government on transport problems in connexion with soldier settlements on the irrigation areas in the Murray river valley. I have thus been able to follow with interest and to appreciate the great difficulties with which this colossal scheme of repatriation has been confronted. Seven years ago I predicted what would happen. The Railways Standing Committee was asked to advise the Government in regard to a proposed railway from Morgan to Renmark. The line was to cost £ 886,000, the idea being to provide transport facilities for the soldiers we were placing on the Murray irrigation areas. The committee was also asked to report upon the advisability of establishing a deep sea port at the mouth of the River Murray. It was estimated that that work was likely to involve an expenditure of about £1,000,000. The committee traversed the Murray and Murrumbidgee valleys, and visited the irrigation areas of New South Wales and Victoria. When it saw the gigantic attempt that the various governments were making to repatriate soldiers by establishing them in the dried fruits areas, it sent a memorandum to the Premier of South Australia. That was seven years ago, but I shall read that memorandum to honorable senators, because it will give them a more intelligent grip than they otherwise can get of the position which confronts them to-day. The memorandum was as follows : -=-
The Committee, therefore, in view of the very great expenditure which is proposed, namely, £6,000,000, to settle 9,500 families, respectfully suggest that the Government should take steps to ascertain definitely whether profitable markets are likely to be available for the produce of the settlements.
Australian dried fruits have to meet competition from low- wage countries such’ as Greece, Turkey, and Asia Minor - countries which before the war were able to place currants on the London market at 3d. per lb. It is true that the early pioneers of this industry in Australia - ‘ the Chaffey Brothers and others - were able to sell their products at remunerative prices. That was because they were sold in the ‘ home market and did not have to compete with the products of’ low-wage countries. But to-day the position is vastly different. Of the dried fruit produced in Australia, 80 per cent, is exported, and has to compete in the world’s markets. The returned soldiers who were forced to plant their holdings with certain kinds of fruit, are now faced with ruin. The only solution of their difficulties is to send their fruit to the wineries and distilleries instead of drying it.For that reason alone, if for no other, the wine bounty of1s. 9d. a gallon should be continued.
I am not greatly concerned with the wine speculators, whose actions have resulted in the British market being flooded, and who, ‘moreover, have not been willing to devote a share of their profits to the advertising of Australian wines in other parts of the world. My concern is for the returned soldiers who have formed themselves into cooperative societies in order to obtain a reasonable return for their industry. In South Australia,, co-operative wineries or distilleries are established at Waikerie, Renmark, and Berri, where about 1,000 returned soldier growers are established.’
Senator Needham referred to the Berri Co operative Distilling Company Limited. Honorable senators may not know that that distillery is the biggest pf its kind in the world. Its output in i?27 was greater than that of the whole of the distilleries in Victoria. During that year it contributed ?237,000 to the revenue of the Commonwealth in excise duty. These are astonishing facts. I remind honorable senators that the wine industry pays its own bonus. On account of the collapse of the dried fruits market, necessitating the sending of currants and lexias to the distilleries, the distillery at Berri had to enlarge its capacity. The returned soldier members obtained all -the outside financial assistance possible, and, in addition, because their faith in their own industry was so great, they raised ?18,000 among themselves last year to provide the necessary equipment to deal with their surplus lexias and currants. Whereas in 1923 the capacity of their plant was only 3,000 tons, last year it was 20,000 tons. I ask honorable senators to contemplate the position of these co-operative concerns should the reduction of the wine bounty result in the discontinuance of the export of wine. Already ?130,000, besides the ?18,000 provided by the returned soldiers themselves, has been expended in connexion with the Berri distillery.
– Does the honorable senator contemplate that that will be the result of the reduction of the wine bounty ?
– The experts connected with these co-operative concerns have exploded the theory that good wine cannot be made from grapes grown on irrigation areas. Mr. Rump, the expert connected with the Berri Distillery, recently sent to London six hogsheads of wine, made from grapes grown on irrigation areas. Favorable reports have since been received regarding that wine. The Berri Distillery, with which 530 returned soldier grape-growers are connected, has on hand 300,000 gallons of wine, but because the full bounty is payable only on wine in respect of which contracts were made before the 8th March last, not one gallon of that wine will enjoy the full bounty. The flooding of the London market by speculators in wine will do serious injury to the grape-growers. There being no incentive to export wine to England, wine makers will not need to buy grapes for export. There will, therefore, be no fixation of the price to be paid for the grapes, with the result that the growers will have to accept what they are given. One would think that these difficulties were, in themselves, sufficient for the growers to contend with, but in September last, disastrous frosts along the Murray Valley so affected the grapes that the growers there cannot possibly hope to receive more than 50 per cent, of the normal return for their grape crop. ‘ The Government of South Australia, with the limited funds at its disposal, has made them drought relief advances. But what the growers gain in that way they lose in another; because their liability in respect of water rates is as great as the amount of the advances.
At a later stage I propose to move that the House of Representatives be requested to add a new schedule to the bill. Having reviewed this measure carefully, I am of the opinion that the Government started well, but ended badly. Important though they may be, the British preference and the probable Commonwealth deficit at the end of the financial year should not decide the fate of so important an enterprise as the wine industry. I cannot understand why the Government does not state definitely that the wine bounty will be discontinued after a specified date. Ordinarily, I do not believe in bounties. Most of the troubles with which Australia is now confronted are due to legislators having placed political expediency before economic realities. The only two Australian industries which can hold their own against the competition of the world are the wool and the wheat-growing industries. Every other industry in Australia is assisted in some way - by bounties or bonuses, embargos or tariffs. I am not a freetrader, but a moderate tariffist. I should be prepared to assist any industry, whether primary or secondary, in its initial stages. That is all I ask for this industry.
– Surely wine production has passed its initial stages in Australia.
– The standard of living and the cost of production in Australia are so high that Australian wines cannot compete in markets in which wines grown in low wage countries such as South Africa, Portugal, and Spain are already established. They therefore need some protection until they have established a market for themselves.
– Does not that apply to every industry?
– Wo. The wine industry is providing its own bounty. It contributes a colossal sum to the revenue annually by way of excise duties.
– Not one penny is taken from the industry. The consumers pay every farthing of it.
– Australia is not the principal market for our wines, and it is impossible to protect the industry in other countries.
– The exporters get the full amount of the drawback.
– My suggestion is that a date should be fixed for the expiration of the wine bounty, and that the bounty payable should be on a sliding scale. Since the growers themselves have not organized to advertise Australian wines in Great Britain, I suggest that the Government should deduct a certain amount per gallon from ‘the bounty, and hand this sum to Mr. Hyland, the Commonwealth advertising agent in London, to be used in a special campaign to advertise Australian wines in the Mother Country. If we leave out the dry wines, such as burgundy and other similar types, and deal only with the sweet wines, on which the bounty is paid, a levy -of Id. a gallon of 2,400,000 gallons would create an advertising fund of £10,000; 2d. a gallon would realize £20,000, and 3d. a gallon £30,000. Expenditure for advertising during the first year might amount to £25,000.
Owing to the chaotic state of the industry the adoption of the Government’s proposal would be most disastrous. The reduction should be made, as I suggest, on a sliding scale, from vintage to vintage, and if the date were fixed’ to coincide with the close of the financial year,” no question as to contracts or vintages need arise. For example, the product of the 1928 vintage could not be shipped by the 30th June of the same year. I suggest that a bounty of ls. 9d. a gallon, less the suggested reduction of, say, Id. a gallon for advertising, should be paid in respect of all contracts to export made up to the 8th March of this year, on the understanding that the wine is shipped by the 30th? June ; that for the year 9th March, 1928, to 30th June, 1929, the bounty be ls. 6d, a gallon; that for the year 8th March, 1929, to 30th June, 1930, the bounty be ls. 3d. a gallon; and for the year 8th March, 1930, to 30th June, 1931, the bounty be ls. per gallon. By that time the position of the industry will have been ascertained, and it will then be possible to determine whether the bounty should be discontinued altogether, or renewed on conditions to be determined. This arrangement would place the; British wine merchant in a more satisfactory position. He would know definitely what to expect in the way of price alterations, and what is more important, speculation would be discouraged. The expenditure of a substantial amount on advertising would act as a wonderful stimulus to the industry. It would keep Australian wines prominently before the British public. It would also result in the adoption of a type name for Australian wines, such as “Austral Ruby,” or “ Austral Tawny,” and in this way familiarize the British public with the port type of Australian wines.
I hope that the proposal which I have indicated will be received favorably by honorable senators. There seems to be some difference of opinion between the Honorary Minister (Senator Crawford) and Senator Needham, as to the advice which the Government has received concerning the danger to the Australian wine industry from the competition of wines produced in low-wage countries. It is generally agreed that those who are exploiting the industry in London, to the detriment of the Australian exporters are in a strong position. It is therefore highly important that the bounty should be continued im order to strengthen our position in London. I urge Senator Crawford to give careful heed to the advice tendered by Mr. Cuthbert Burgoyne, the head of-a firm that has been a guardian angel to the Australian wine trade in England for the last half century. Mr. Burgoyne’s father was so much interested in the industry in Australia, that he made periodical visits to’ this country, so as to keep in touch with the situation here. Mr. Cuthbert Burgoyne is the same type of man. This is what he is reported to have said in a cable message published in today’s newspapers: -
London, 14th May
Mr. Cuthbert Burgoyne, referring to the speech by the Commonwealth Minister for Markets (Mr. Paterson) declared that the reduction ‘ of the wine bounty was like chopping chunks off the human body, which thus was soon useless. “ Australia,” he said, “ was our first love, and we are sorry to lose the trade. The reduction of the bounty will operate inevitably in South Africa’s favour.”
That is one of the low-wage countries where black labour is employed in the snaking of wine– “Permission to execute contracts on the old rate is a useful concession, but the reduction should be graduated over a given period to enable the trade to adapt itself to the new conditions. As it is, production and markets will be disorganized, and so make the foundations on which the trade has been built up, unstable. I am sorry that there are so many little Australians in the Federal Parliament.”
– It does not bear upon the situation. Mr. Burgoyne merely says he questions whether the Government will be able to defy the dictatorship of - the Coopers’ Union by allowing casks to be used more than once. I do not believe that. I am confident that the Government has sufficient backbone to do the decent thing, and not take up an absurd attitude by making the wineproducers pay duty on returned casks.
– The inferenceis that the Government has not . done the decent thing in that respect.
– In my opinion it is unreasonable to levy duty on what is a second-hand commodity; I feel sure that the Government does not appreciate the position as regards returned casks. If the Minister were to offer Mr. Smith, of Yalumba, £1,000 for some of the casks which he is using, the offer would be refused. Some of the casks have been used in the business by his father and his grandfather before him. The wood is saturated with the type ofwine for which each particular cask is used. Prom the point of view of economy also, it is foolishness to use new casks, because they soak up the wine like a sponge.
I repeat that I am not very much concerned about the position of those who, up to the present, have been exploiting the wine industry in London. Many of them are merely speculators who have never produced a gallon of wine or grown a bunch of grapes in their lives. But I am perturbed about the position of large numbers of returned soldiers who have been placed on vine-growing lands in the irrigated areas, up and down the Murray at Redcliff, Renmark, Mildura;, Berri, Waikerie, Curlwaa, and Cadell. These young men responded to the call of Empire, and went overseas to fight for the preservation of the privileges which we enjoy as British citizens. A grateful country promised that on their return their interests would be amply safeguarded. I tell the Government in all seriousness that large numbers of these young men are in a perilous position - so perilous, indeed, that two of them, when they heard of the Government’s proposal to reduce the bounty, flew from Berri to Adelaide to join the express there, and came on to Canberra to interview the Prime Minister. ‘ The right honorable gentleman heard all they had to say, and, although he realized how the Government’s proposals would affect many of those engaged in the industry, he intimated that he was not in a position to comply with their request.
I urge members of this Chamber now to . carefully review the situation in the light of information which hitherto has not been available to them. The Senate should request the House of Representatives to review this measure, and see if it is not possible to do the right thing by these young men to whom Australia owes so much.
– The Government has no. information now which it did not possess when the bill was under discussion in another place.
. - I congratulate Senator Robinson upon the able manner in which he has stated the case for the vine-growers in South Australia. Probably honorable senators do not realize the magnitude of the industry, and what this bill means to the producers in South Australia, as well as in the other States. Approximately £20,000,000 has been expended in bringing the viticultural industry in Australia up to its present state, and it requires over £1,000,000 annually to maintain and develop it. It contributes over £800,000 a year to the Consolidated Revenue by way of excise. The working cost of the area under wine grapes amounts to between £600,000 and £700,000 per annum and of such cost labour is the biggest item. This great annual expenditure represents vineyard costs alone. In addition, many men are employed by the distilleries and the trade generally. Honorable senators will thus see the value of the industry to Australia. During the course of the debate the question has been raised as-to how much the wine bounty is costing Australia, and there has been an exchange of opinion between Senator Robinson and the Minister (Senator Crawford). On the 26th March last, a statement was issued by the Federal Viticultural Council of Australia. It showed that the gross bounty paid to the 12th March, 1928, was £1,150,385, and the drawback of excise totalled £326,929. Therefore, the net bounty paid was £823,456. The official estimate of the amount of the bounty at ls. 9d. a gallon between the 12th March -and the1 30th June, 1928, is £67,000. The total to the latter date on such a basis will, therefore, be £890,456. Let us now consider the additional amount of excise collected as a result of the payment of the bounty. The gross increase to the 30th June, 1928, if the rate of ls. 9d. is maintained, will be £826,000. If we deduct the drawback of excise, £326,929, we have a net increase of £499,071. It will thus be seen that, making allowance for the increase in the revenue, the net expenditure on the bounty up to the 30th June next will be £391,385 if the present rate of ls. 9d. is maintained. Assuming, however, that the rate is reduced to ls. a gallon, the estimated expenditure of £67,000 will not be incurred, and the revenue also will show a considerable falling off. Some honorable senators, and the public generally, have been under the impression that this bounty has cost Australia over £1,000,000.
I have shown conclusively that the” amount is less than £400,000 for tha, whole term of the bounty.
– The whole of the excise collected on the wine which is exported is given as a drawback. The honorable senator is counting it twice.
– I am not counting it twice. I have taken into my reckoning only exported wine. If we take into consideration the excise that has been collected on the whole of the wine produced we find that the total revenue on fortifying spirit derived between 1922 and 1927’ amounted to over £3,000,000.
– It was paid bythe consumers, not the producers.
– If the purchasers of our wine in other countries have had to pay it, they must have had to charge so much extra to their customers. Thus Australia has had to compete on unfair terms with other countries.
– The industry gets it as a drawback.
– I have given the amount of the drawback, and have shown that, after making allowance for it, the amount of bounty paid over a period of years has not exceeded £400,000.
– I cannot follow the honorable senator’s arithmetic.
– These figures have been worked out by the Federal Viticultural Council, and I think the honorable senator will find that they are correct. Surely the amount I have named is not a large sum to pay to keep the industry going and prevent our soldier settlers from being ruined! Let’ us compare the bounties that have been paid .to other industries. The cottonbounty for one year was £30,000. The amount paid under the Iron and Steel Products Bounty Act for the yearended the 30th June, 1927, was £256,853.. The production of sulphur was assisted tothe extent of £34,339 in one year.. Surely, then, the wine industry is not being given too much !
– I should support thehonorable senator if he would agree tothe bounty being paid only on wine which, is three years old and’ matured.
– I agree with the honorable senator that it is desirableto impose such a condition, but I do- not. see how that object can be achieved under this measure.
– I can. I would give a higher bounty on matured wine.
– The Minister has stated that when the bounty was reduced to ls. 9d. a gallon it was made clear that the Government reserved to itself the right to re-open the question of bounty payments in the event of the British Government giving an increased preference to Empire wine. I admit that the .responsible Minister at the time made that statement; but such a provision was not incorporated in the bill, and many of those who are engaged in the wine industry did not realize that there was a possibility of the bounty being reduced before the three years had expired. They cannot keep themselves closely in touch with the debates that take place in this and another chamber, and there is no doubt that many of them - both winemakers and exporters - believed that the bounty of ls. 9d. would continue to be paid to the end of the term specified in the act. Had they not thought so, they would have sold their stocks instead of holding them, and thus meeting the wish of the Government that a better and more matured wine should be sent to the London market. The consequence is that they still have certain stocks on hand, and will now have to be content with a lower bounty.
– They exported to the London market every gallon it could take.
– They could have exported a larger quantity. I understand that the Renmark Cooperative Distillery did not export any 1928 wine while others exported less than they would have done had they known that the bounty was to be reduced. After the original Wine Bounty Act had been passed by this Senate, the Baldwin Government came into power in Great Britain and granted an additional preference of 2s. -a gallon on sweet wine. Nominally £hat ;gave a preference of 4s. a gallon to Australian wine, the duty being 2s. on wine of a strength of 30 per cent., whereas the duty on foreign wines was 6s. a gallon. That preference, however, did not work out as well as it appeared to do. The effective preference was governed largely by the dividing line between low strength and high strength wine. It is absolutely necessary to fortify our wine up to a strength of 34 per cent., to carry it through the tropics. Our competitors in Portugal and Spain need not fortify above a strength of 29 per cent. Their wine thus came within the category of low strength wine, while ours had to pay the higher rate of duty. On paper the preference appeared to be 4s. a gallon, but actually it was only 6d. a gallon, because foreign wines of strength up to 30 per cent, were dutiable at 2s. 6d. a gallon compared with our rate of 2s. a gallon. It will thus be seen that the bounty was reduced to ls. 9d. a gallon and the effective preference which we enjoyed in Great Britain amounted to only 6d. a gallon. That alteration was made in March, 1927. In April of the same year the British budget fixed the duties at 2s. British and 3s. foreign for low strength wine, and 4s. British and 8s. foreign for high strength wine. A change was made in the dividing line, that for foreign wine being fixed at 25 per cent, and that for Empire wine at 27 per cent. Honorable senators will see that it is the dividing line that makes all the difference. There is a much bigger preference and a much higher duty on a high strength wine. The foreign wines with which we have been competing were formerly in the low strength class; but many of them now have to pay the higher rate of duty, on account of the alteration in the line of demarcation between high strength and low strength wines. The British duty on sweet wines of Empire production not exceeding 40 per cent, is 4s. a gallon, and on wines of foreign production, 8s. a gallon. On sweet wines of foreign production not exceeding 25 per cent., the rate is 3s. per gallon, and of Empire production not exceeding 27 per cent., the duty is 2s. a gallon. Wine manufactured in England is made from must, which is imported free of duty, but on which there is excise of ls. 6d. a gallon. To defeat the object of a British preferential rate, manufacturers in Britain are importing wine on which a high rate of duty is payable, and mixing it with wine on which a low rate is payable. It has been stated in another place that the operations of those engaged in this industry have not been very successful, but my information leads me to believe otherwise. The fact that there is such a large quantity of Australian wine on the market in Great Britain to-day, which cannot be profitably disposed of, bears out the contention that this blended product is a serious competitor of Australian wine. A cheap British wine is also manufactured from must on which no duty is payable, and on this also excise of ls. 6d. a gallon is imposed.
– Has not that been increased recently?
– Yes Yes, it was previously ls.
– That product is blended with other wines.
– And with the excise it has to pay 2s. a gallon.
– The excise is ls. 6d. a gallon.
– The duty paid on the wine used for blending purposes is 6d. a gallon.
– I understand there is no duty on the wine, but an excise duty of ls. 6d. on the must.
– If the information which the honorable senator possesses is of more value than the official advices which the Government has received, I have nothing further to say.
– It has been stated in another place that the competition which Australian wine exporters experience from this must product is negligible. This would not appear to be so, judging by the following extract from the report of the second ordinary general meeting of the Vine Products Limited, taken from the London Times of the 7th March of this year. At that meeting the chairman said -
I hope you will consider that events have justified my optimism, and that our £170,000 profit for 1927 is more than satisfactory, especially if you will take into consideration that this profit has been effected with the contribution of a portion only of the profits we anticipated to derive from our Colonial business. . .
On the right-hand side it will be noticed that the items preliminary expenses and underwriting commission of £32,322 are entirely eliminated, having been written off last year, and there is an increase of about £12,300 in the freehold land and buildings due to the extensions and additions made during the year under review. There is also an increase of £2,000 in our plant, vats, and furniture.
The increase in stock from £75,060 as at December 21, 1926, as against £138,993 at the close of the year under review, is caused by our very largely increased turnover, as a result of which it is necessary for us to hold much larger stocks, which may be still larger in the future. This extra trade is also responsible for the increase in our sundry debtors from £79,138 at December 31, 1926, to £143,355 at December, 1927. . . .
Our trading profit, after charging all expenses, is £172,025, as against £102,850 last year. . . .
Turning to the directors’ report, you will observe that of the balance of profit available, after deducting the dividend on the preference shares and the interim dividend on the ordinary shares, there remains £125,174 13s. lid. The directors propose to pay a final dividend on the ordinary shares at a rate of 35 per cent, per annum, making a total dividend of 30 per cent, for the year, which will absorb £61,250.
It will be seen from that statement that this . British company has been making tremendous .profits. There are also other companies operating on a similarly satisfactory basis which makes it difficult to understand why the Minister should say that this competition is negligible. The competition is such that the winegrowers in Australia will find it difficult to combat. The Prime Minister speaking in another place said: -
The problem now to be considered is whether the alteration in the British preference warrants a reduction of the bounty.
I agree with the right honorable gentleman that that is the crux of the position. He also stated that the Government reserved the right to reduce the bounty,, and that if the position at present did not warrant a reduction it would not be made. I remind honorable senators that the bounty is paid only on wines exported; but the fact that the bounty is paid compels other buyers to give the fixed price for grapes. If there is no export trade, no one is compelled to pay the fixed price for grapes sold for local manufacturing purposes. If the export trade is destroyed grapes will be sold in Australia at whatever price the buyers wish to offer I have also received a letter from the Waikerie Cooperative Distillery Containing the following cable advice: -
The Overseas Co-operative Farmers Limited has advised as follows: -
Wine position Australia, unsatisfactoy due accumulation stocks estimated 3,000,000 gallons London, due heavy shipments following reduction bounty last year, also severe competition from cheap wine produced in England manufactured from grape syrup imported from Spain and Portugal, now being marketed extensively. Duty on latter1s. 6d. per gallon, against 4s. Australian. Demand Australian negligible due nervousness operators. Values 3s. 9d., 4s., but difficult to clear. In view present situation would advise delay, shipping unless above prices profitable.
It will be noted that the wine shipped in November last has not yet been sold. That is the experience of only one cooperative company. I am also informed that up to last night the Berri Distillery had not sold any of its 1928 vintage which, at present is , in the vicinity of 300,000 gallons. The representative of this distillery states : -
In making out our case against the Wine Bounty Bill, as amended, we ask that the clause relating to export of wine for which sales have been made prior to 8th March, 1928, be deleted, and allow wines to be exported till 31st December, irrespective of when sales were made.
Our reasons for this request is that it will enable the Berri and other co-operative distilleries which have not exported wine in the past, and now desire to do so, to be placed on the same footing as other exporters of wine. The Berri distillery has been built to treat a vintage of 20,000 tons, which is the tonnage we had in 1927, at a cost of approximately £130,000, of which sum the grower in 1927 and 1928 has had to find £18,000. At the present time we have the whole of 1928 vintage on hand, with small prospects of selling same, and it appears that our only avenue of a market is to export, but not having made sales prior to 8th March, we are handicapped by losing the bounty of 9d. per gallon. This distillery is composed of 520 shareholders, all of whom are growers and 85 per cent, soldier settlers.
The 1928 crop was gathered in February, and prior to the commencement of the vintage a number of winemakers had contracted for the purchase of grapes at a price which was to be fixed by the Government. The price was published on 9th March after the bill had been introduced. These contracts were entered into when a bounty of1s. 9d. a gallon hadbeen operative for . six months, and it was believed it would be continued at the same rate for at least two years. As these buyers complied with the conditions laid down, the Government are morally bound to pay the1s. 9d. rate of bounty which was ruling when the contracts were entered into. The same can be said in connexion with the 1927 vintage. A number of wine makers paid the growers the fixed price laid down by the Government, believing that they would receive the benefit of the full amount of bounty. The- Government further made it clear that they wished’ the winemakers to mature their wines before placing them on the London market. Those who sold an immature product got the benefit of the full amount of bounty, whilst those who complied with the Government’s request and held their wines in the interest of the trade will lose 9d. a gallon. A good deal of Government money is at stake in this connexion. Honorable senators should realize that if our surplus wine is not exported it will be thrown on the Australian market. Grape buyers will get the fruit not at a fixed price, but at whatever price they like to offer. The Government, in connexion with the payment of the bounty, has fixed a minimum price for grapes for export wine. This was the minimum at which growers could make a living, and if, as the result of this change only a lower price is offered, settlers will be compelled to leave their blocks. They are not likely to remain when their operations are showing a loss. As the great majority of the soldier settlers have been financed up to the hilt by Government money, it will be the Governments that will have to bear the loss if these men are forced to throw up their holdings. Thus the amount involved is very much more than the annual cost of the wine bounty. I am told on fairly good authority that a few men want to see the wine bounty discontinued because it will enable them to buy grapes and sell wines at their own prices. I know that the Government is genuinely anxious to protect the growers, but I warn it of the danger of reducing the winebounty on the advice of men who are likely to benefit by its abolition.
– I agree with Senator Robinson that there should be a gradual reduction in the bounty over a period of years. Until one travels through the winegrowing areas of South Australia, from Tanunda to the Murray, one cannot get a proper idea of the magnitude of the industry in the State of South Australia. For all the difficulties in which the winegrowers find themselves to-day the Government is absolutely responsible. The growers have had no option as to what they should grow. The Government decided that their blocks were to be planted with doradilla grapes.
– What Government? That is an important point.
– It was the South Australian Government. .
– T - The Gunn Government of South Australia?
– Not necessarily; the Peake and Barwell Governments of South Australia in their endeavours to repatriate the “ boys “ were also’ responsible.
– The work they undertook should have been done by the Federal’ Government. The soldiers had no option as to what they should plant on their blocks. A good deal of the trouble was caused by the high price of grapes’ in 1919. The price in that year was £16 per ton.- In 1920 it- dropped to £8 ; in 1921, it fell to £5, and in the next year was as low as £3. The Federal Government then stepped in with its bounty and, of. course, the settlers began to extend their vineyards, thinking, quite reasonably, that the bounty would be continued until the end of the promised term. The decision of the Government to reduce the bounty will- now push them to the wall. It is misleading to describe the bounty as one -of 4s. a gallon. ‘It is really, a bounty of 2s. 9d. a gallon, with a drawback p’f ls. 3d. on excise duty pa;d. The Minister would have us believe that the growers do -not pay the excise duty. The amount of excise duty collected in 1926-27 was £435,000, and the amount paid in bounties was £442,000. Surely the Minister, can see that the grape-growers, to ,a very great extent, pay their own bounty.
– They do not pay it any more than the brewers pay the excise duty on beer.
– If they did not have to increase the price of the wine to cover the excise duty, wine-makers could sell their output much more cheaply. The consumption of wine is restricted by the higher price that has to be charged.
– When the first bounty was paid on the export of wine, it did a certain amount of injury to the growers, because it brought about the enormous surplus of Australian wines on the London market, which, according to Harpers’ Wine and Spirit Journal of Great Britain amounts to 3,386,000 gallons. That is the quantity in bond there. When the bounty began to operate the grape growers saw that they would get a better price for their grapes by carting them to distilleries than by converting them into dried fruits. That is where the Government made the blunder. If it had realized that it was useless to give a bounty on wine without, at the same time, ‘giving a bounty on the export’ of dried fruits, the people who engaged - in growing grapes for dried fruits would have continued utilizing them for that purpose and would not have sold them for the making of wine.
– Of what use is it to give a bounty on the export of a commodity for which there is no demand?
Senator-.HOARE. - It is our own fault that- the Australian consumption of dried fruits is not greater than” it is. Mr. Clapp, the Victorian Commissioner of Railways, has set a splendid example to the various Governments of .Australia. He- has done more than any other person in the Commonwealth to promote the sale of fruit. For the year ended the 30th June, 1926, the Victorian railways sold £21,250 worth of fresh fruit. In the following year they sold £52,849 worth, and in. 1928 £63,177 worth. Everywhere on the Victorian railways one can see advertisements, which are a credit to the State, advising people ,to “Eat more fruit,”. “ Eat more raisin bread,” and so forth. .By advertising in this way Mr. Clapp has brought . about in the State of- Victoria, the splendid results which the figures I have quoted indicate ; he- has shown what can he done by advertising. If the various Governments followed the example set by Mr. Clapp, the consumption of dried fruits would be enormously increased. In 1926, 21,000 tons of fresh grapes of drying varieties, and in 1927, 25,000 tons were diverted to wineries and distilleries, a total of 46,000 tons for the two years. That quantity of fresh fruit produced 3,680,000 gallons of fortified wine, and the bounty payable upon that, at 4s. per gallon, would amount to £736,000. Deducting the excise amounting to £230,000, there would be a net bounty of £506,000 payable on that 46,000 tons of grapes which, prior to the introduction of the wine bounty, were dried. It is estimated by the grape growers, as I have said, that the quantity of surplus Australian wine in bond in London at the present time is 3,000,000 gallons. Let us consider what would have been the position if the Government, when it brought in the wine bounty, had simultaneously introduced an export bounty of £10 a ton on dried fruits. That 46,000 tons of grapes would have been converted into dried fruit, and would have produced 13,000 tons of that commodity. A £10 a ton export bounty upon it would have cost the country £130>000; but, by the diversion of that fresh fruit to wineries and distilleries, the bounty cost the taxpayers £506,000, an increase of £376,000. Even if we take the reduced bounty provided for in’ this bill, that 46,000 tons would have produced 3,608,000 gallons of wine, the bounty on which would have amounted to £184,000 as against £130,000 on. dried fruit. That is, as I have previously said, where the Government blundered. Had it paid a bounty on the export of dried fruits, it would have saved the taxpayers’ money to the extent I have indicated, avoided a surplus of Australian wine on the London market, and done good to the growers in general. Those who were growing grapes for wine only would not have had to compete with growers of grapes originally intended for dried fruits, and consequently there would have been no over-production of wine. I am inclined to the belief that a bounty on dried fruits would have been most helpful, and it certainly would not have involved the Commonwealth in such a large expenditure as has been necessary in respect of the payment of a bounty on the export of wine. The Government should have been able to foresee the difficulty that would be brought about by its disinclination to pay a bounty on the export of dried fruits. But the question is - can we find a market for dried fruits if we revert to the position that obtained prior to the payment of a bounty on the export of wine? “When the late Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) was speaking last year, he showed that the quantity of unsold dried fruits on the overseas markets on the 10th November, 1926, was 4,413 tons of currants and 94 tons of lexias ; but that by the 30th April following, which was the end of the selling season, all that remained had been sold. He also showed that on the 10th November, 1927, the quantity of unsold currants was only 10 tons, and of lexias 75 tons, although but half the selling season had passed. Th08e figures indicate clearly enough that we can get rid of our surplus dried fruits overseas.’
– I should like to know where the honorable senator got those figures from, because, as a matter of fact, we could not give away lexias or currants in 1927.
– The figures I have given were supplied by the late Minister for Trade and Customs.
– When did he give them?
– In a speech in another place on the 10th November, 1927. I take it that the Minister was sure of his ground when he made that, statement. Seemingly there is a big market overseas for our dried fruits, if we are prepared to assist the industry by the payment of an export bounty of £10 a ton. That would be less expensive than the wine bounty.
– Then why is it that in the grape-growing districts one can see cartloads of currants being carted to the wineries?
– It pays the growers better to convert their currants into wine than to sell them as dried fruits.
– It is because there is no market for dried fruits.
– -They have not attempted to market them as dried fruits, because for the time being it has paid them better to dispose cf their fruit to the distilleries. In 1924 Great Britain imported 58,400 tons of sultanas, and lexias, of which 18,800 tons came from Australia. In the following year, of the 56.300 tons imported, 17,600 tons came from Australia. Out of 58,200 tons imported in 1926, only 11,000 tons came from Australia. That falling off was caused by the Australian producers of dried fruits sending their grapes to the distilleries, because it paid them better at the time to do that than to send them to London as dried fruits. In the long run it would have paid them better to continue to send their product to England as dried fruits, because in that way they would have shown the people in the Old Land that Australia could supply an abundance of dried fruits of good quality. The home market for dried fruits should also be developed. “We should consume more than 20 per cent, of our production.
– - The Australian Dried Fruits Association spent a lot of money in advertising dried fruits. The late Mr. C. J. De Garis flew all over Australia with that object.
– What can be done in that direction has been shown by the Railways Commissioners of Victoria.
– In that case the fruit was made into drinks. A man can drink more than he can eat.
– That may be so; but the Railways Commissioners of Victoria have also increased the consumption of dried fruits in that State. Speaking in another place, the Minister claimed that the exporters of wine were in a position to meet a reduction in the wine bounty. I cannot follow his reasoning. The reduction of the bounty, including the drawback, from 4s. to 3s. a gallon, and the increase in customs duties in Great Britain by 2s. a gallon, handicap Australian wines to the extent of 3s. a gallon, whereas British wine is handicapped to the extent of only ls. a gallon. If the Government of Great Britain wanted to give Australia absolute preference, why did it treat imported wines in that manner ?
– Surely 4s. a gallon is a reasonable preference.
– The preference is 4s. a gallon, plus the bounty.
– That is not sufficient. Senator Chapman showed the enormous profits that had been made out of the blending of cheap foreign wines in Great Britain. These blended wines are placed on the British market at prices lower than that at which good Australian wines can be sold. Although the Australian wines are superior, many people buy inferior wines because they are cheaper.
– Quality counts for a good deal among wine drinkers.
– That may be so in the case of those who can afford to pay for good wines; but it does not apply to the toilers of any nation. The cheap wines sold on the London market are probably made largely from chemicals, and are injurious to those who consume them. It is the duty of a government to protect its people from wines of that kind. Wine should be made to conform to a pure foods and drugs act. I am not so much concerned about the winemakers - they are more able to look after themselves - as I am for the growers of the grapes, many of whom, after struggling all the year, receive returns which are less than the basic wage. I hope that the Minister will see his way clear to accept the suggestion of Senator Robinson. The growers should know what is necessary. In my opinion the Government should introduce legislation to assist the dried fruits industry by means of an export bounty. We should then have scarcely any surplus production, and there would be no requests for increased bounties on wine. If assistance were given to the dried fruits industry in the direction I have indicated, most of the existing difficulties would soon come to an end, and the growers of fruit would receive a fair return. We should not legislate to drive people off the land. On the contrary, we should follow a policy of decentralization, and endeavour to settle more and yet more people on the land.
– I shall deal only with general principles, because so many figures have already been placed before the Senate that any addition to them would be likely to confuse the minds of honorable senators. When the war broke out, we made certain promises to the men who went overseas to defend us. They were promised that, on their return to Australia, they and their dependants would be looked after. That was a national obligation. In their efforts to honour their promises to the soldiers, the. various governments throughout Australia placed a number of them on the land, and instructed them to plant certain kinds of fruit trees, principally those whose fruits would be suitable for drying. Owing, however, to over-production, dried fruits became a glut on the market. Consequently these men found it necessary to grow other fruit, or swell the ranks of the unemployed. To assist them, the Government agreed to pay a bounty on wine exported. For a time that bounty accomplished the object for which it “was granted ; but its reduction now will have a disastrous effect on those engaged in the grape-growing industry. Some of their holdings will revert to the Crown.
– The time specified in the original contract to pay the bounty has not yet expired.
– The obligation of Australia to its soldiers was to provide them with an occupation which would return them a reasonable living. The time is. not yet opportune for a reduction of the wine bounty. Most of the soldier settlers have made good, and the export of their products -has brought new wealth to Australia. The Government’s policy is to grant bounties’ to deserving industries, and this proposal on behalf of the growers is worthy of favorable consideration. Secondary industries are assisted by means of the tariff, representing a taxation of between £7 and £8 per head of the population. Economic conditions in Australia are such that it is necessary to protect our secondary industries. The proposal submitted to the Government by those concerned in this case is a reasonable one, and it should receive sympathetic consideration. I urge the Ministry not to destroy- the. good work which it has done -in building up our primary industries. If the bounty must be reduced, the principle of a sliding scale should be adopted. This would give those engaged in the industry an opportunity to adjust themselves to the altered conditions. If, however, the bounty is suddenly reduced, as is proposed under this bill, there is a possibility that many producers will be obliged to give up and compete in the already overstocked labour market, and that land which at present is being put to a profitable use will become idle again. Our objective should be to safeguard the position of those men who took their lives in their hands when they went overseas to fight for this country. If the suggestion made by Senator Robinson is accepted by the Government, the obligation as regards the payment. of the bounty will, in the course, of a few years, disappear altogether and at the same time the industry will have been developed on sound lines.
– And the scheme will ensure the expenditure of a good advertising fund in England, to keep Australian wines before the British public.
– The scheme, as Senator Robinson has indicated, will also help this country in other directions. The wine export trade is exploiting a market with practically unlimited possibilities so far as Australian primary producers are concerned. If, however, by a stroke of the pen, the bounty is substantially reduced, a valuable trade will be lost, and, as I have stated, a considerable number of growers will become competitors in the labour market. I appeal, therefore, to the Ministry to give this proposal sympathetic consideration. If the Government adopts it I feel sure that the people of Australia will endorse its action, and that the men engaged in the industry will so. develop . it that in the course of a few years it will be of immense value to the Commonwealth.
– I am sorry that some of the speakers in opposition to the bill have assumed that the Government did not give this matter that sympathetic consideration to which it was entitled. It cannot be denied that the Ministry has done a great deal for our primary producers and that it has at all times and in every way, been most solicitous for the welfare of our returned soldiers. One of the arguments advanced in support of the continuance of the present rate of bounty has been that the industry, by means of the excise on spirits used in fortifying sweet -wines, contributes the amount of the bounty to the consolidated revenue. I am sure, however, that upon reflection those who hold this view will admit that the excise on fortifying spirits is paid by the consumer, in just . the same way as the consumer pays the excise on beer and on Australianmade spirits. Up to the present, no honorable senator who has advocated the retention of the existing rate of bounty has stated what the position would be in regard to the export trade in wine, taking into account both the reduced bounty proposed, and the increased preference which Australian wines exported to Great Britain at present enjoy.. Senator Chapman came very near to doing this, but realizing that he was on thin ice, he very quickly avoided it. When the first wine bounty bill was passed providing for a bounty of 4s. per gallon, or, if ‘ the excise be taken into account, a net bounty of 2s. 9d. per gallon, the preference enjoyed by Australian wine exported to Great Britain was only 6d. per gallon ; so that with the 2s. 9d. bounty and 6d. preference, the advantage which the Australian wine obtained amounted to 3s. 3d. per gallon. Last year when the bounty was reduced to ls. 9d., the British preference was still only 6d., so that the bounty and preference together amounted to 2s. 3d. per gallon. Under this bill it is proposed to further reduce the bounty from ls. 9d. to ls., because to-day the British preference amounts to ‘4s. per gallon, and if we combine preference and bounty, the advantage to Australian wine is 5s. per gallon, as against 2s. 3d. per gallon previously. It will be seen, therefore, that notwithstanding the proposed reduction in the bounty, the exporter of Australian wine to Great Britain is 2s. 9d. per gallon better off than he was twelve months ago. In spite of these figures, there are some who suggest that the Government is treating the industry unfairly, and that if its proposals are adopted a number of producers of grapes must inevitably be ruined. I say the position- is the reverse. Exporters, and those growing grapes for sale to the distilleries, will be infinitely better off under this bill than they were twelve months ago. The prosperity of the vignerons will be greatly increased.
– Why not continue the bounty for three years as promised?
– Such a promise was never made. The original bill certainly provided for bounties extending over three years, but it was distinctly stated by the Minister’ in charge of the amending bill introduced in March of last year that if there was any increase in the amount of British preference to Australian wines, the Government reserved to itself the right to review the position, and, if necessary, to reduce the bounty by the amount of increased preference granted. Since then, the preference has been increased by 3s. 6d. per gallon, and the Government now proposes to reduce the bounty by 9d. per gallon only. It must be admitted that, at the moment, the position of the wine export trade is somewhat chaotic. This is due largely to heavy exportations last year, the object being to send away as much wine as possible before the bounty was reduced. Unfortunately a great deal of that wine exported was not fit for consumption, because it had not been sufficiently -matured. I understand that there are now between 2,000,000 and 3,000,000 gallons of this wine in London. Wo doubt the position will right itself soon because, owing to the visitation of frost to which Senator Robinson referred, the vintage this year will be lighter than usual.
– Under the Government’s proposal the men who held back wine last year to mature, will be penalized because of the reduction in the bounty, whereas the men who exported their wine will enjoy the higher rate of bounty.
– Not at all. The men who held back their wine last year in order to mature it properly, will not be penalized, because they will obtain a much higher price for it than will those who rushed their unmatured wine on to the market before it was fit for consumption. ‘ It is, I think, about four years since the original act was passed providing for the payment of the bounty, including’ drawback, of 4s. per gallon.
It was then thought that those engaged in the industry would organize the export trade. Unfortunately, nothing has been done. Apparently they relied upon the bounty to make their overseas trade profitable. Recently we had a visit from a keen business man from Great Britain in the person of Mr. Morris, the wellknown manufacturer of motor cars. At a luncheon which was tendered to him in the Adelaide town hall, he made certain observations upon the position of the wine trade in Great Britain.
– He knows more about petrol than wine.
– This is what he said -
Australian wines were not properly marketed in Great Britain. The work waa carried out in such a manner that everybody supposed that it was cheap wine. It was impossible to ask at any big hotels in England for the best Australian wine, and get it. There must be something wrong with the organization. The wine-growers should get together and find out what was wrong. The Australian wines they were marketing had such dreadful labels that it was enough to put anybody off drinking the wine.
Surely there is an obligation upon the industry to put its house in order!
– That is the object of my proposal.
– With the object of giving vignerons a greater degree of security, the Government has decided that the bounty of ls. a gallon shall continue without alteration until the 31st August, 1930. Senator Robinson, this evening, delivered a speech which I am sure every honorable senator enjoyed, whether they were in agreement with him or not. I, for one, shall look forward with pleasurable anticipation to hearing the honorable senator on many future occasions.
– The Minister will not get the honorable senator’s vote in that way.
– I do not expect to get it, but I believe in giving credit where credit is due. Senator Needham, and other honorable senators, have referred to the visit which has been paid to Canberra by representatives of the vigernons at Berri, an irrigation settlemen on the Murray.
– The biggest thing of its kind in the world.
– Those men waited upon the Prime Minister (Mr.
Bruce) and the Minister for Markets (Mr. Paterson), and expressed the desire that there should be no reduction in the rate of bounty. That, however, is not their chief trouble. They had a more important and more urgent matter to discuss, but I do not think it would be in their interests that I should disclose it. Senator Robinson referred to the duty that is imposed on returned empty wine casks.
– Does the Minister intend to dismiss in such a summary fashion the representations of the Berri growers ?
– They have made their representations. The Government has given this matter very lengthy consideration. It has viewed it from every aspect, and has had very exhaustive investigations made in Great Britain. The manufacture of wine, so called, in Great Britain, from wine juice or must that is imported from Mediterranean countries, is not a new industry. It has been carried on in Great Britain for some years. The manufactured article was in competition with Australian wine when the latter enjoyed a preference of only 6d. a gallon. That competition cannot now be any more severe than it was two, three or four years ago. I understand that, in reality, it does not compete with Australian wine. Only those persons who are satisfied with something very cheap and nasty will buy it when they have the opportunity to purchase good Australian wine. Senator Chapman. - They drink it instead of our wine.
– They probably drink it instead of beer, with which it is more comparable. It has to pay an excise of ls. 6d. a gallon. I understand that it is blended with Australian wine, and that the quantity of our wine which is contained in a gallon of this British product represents a duty of about 6d. ‘
– The Minister started to say something about the duty on casks.
– The cost to bring them back, exclusive of the duty, is £1 9s. 9d. a cask.
– The first report of the Tariff Board upon the wine industry recommended the payment of a bounty of 4s. a gallon, which included the drawback of excise amounting to 1s. 3d. a gallon. It also stated that the cost of the casks represented1s. a gallon. That was the reason why the bounty was made so high in the first instance. Senator Greene . will know that there is in the Customs Act a provision which prevents the Minister from allowing Australian goods to be re-imported duty free unless he is satisfied that their re-introduction will not disorganize an Australian industry. Very strong representations were made to the effect that if these casks were allowed to come in duty free, they would disorganize, to a very material extent, the coopering industry in this country. I believe that if they had been allowed to come in duty free at the time referred to, a good deal of unrest would have been caused among the coopers, and probably the export of wine would have been held up for a considerable time. The duty on these casks is not very great. It is computed not on the cost of new casks in Australia, but on the value of secondhand casks in London.
– Is it proposed to give the wine exporters any relief in the direction of remitting the duty on secondhand casks?
– That matter is under consideration at the present time. I think that I have dealt with practically every point that was raised during the debate. I merely wish to repeat that the Government has given this matter very careful consideration, and has had due regard to the position of the wine industry, and also the interests of the taxpayers, who have to find the money to pay the bounty.
Question - -That the bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Section five of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead - “ 5. The rate of bounty payable under this Act on fortified wine exported on or after the ninth day of March, One thousand nine hundred and twenty-eight shall be One shilling per gallon :
Provided that no bounty shall be payable in respect of wine which is not shown, to the satisfaction of the Minister, to he the product of areas planted with vines on or before the thirty-first day of March, One thousand nine hundred and twenty-eight.”.
Section proposed to he amended -
The rate of bounty payable wider this Act shall be -
SenatorROBINSON (South Australia) [10.17]. - I do not appreciate the express pace at which the Government is endeavouring to rush this measure through. I have endeavoured in the short time at my disposal to have copies typed of an amendment I propose moving in connexion with this clause, so that honorable senators may have an opportunity to intelligently study it ; but owing to the rate at which the bill is being hurried through, I have not been able to do so. I suppose we shall have to bow to the will of the Government, but I earnestly ask the Minister to report progress, so that honorable senators may have an opportunity to closely study the position.
[10.19].- The hour is not yet late, and, as honorable senators are aware, it is the general desire that we should not meet next week, I ask the committee to sit a little longer.
– I intend to submit an amendment to this clause, and, if it is accepted, to move -
That the rate of bounty payable on fortified wines exported on or after the 9th day of March, One thousand nine hundred and twenty-eight shall be in accordance with the following schedule: -
It will be seen that this embodies the views I expressed during my secondreading speech, when I stated that if ,*i sliding scale of bounty were adopted an arrangement would be entered into between the Government and those who would benefit from the bounty, under which a portion of the money paid over would be earmarked and used in advertising Australian wines on the London market. The Minister, in reply to the criticisms levelled at the Government’s action, emphasized the point that the bounty had been abused. In order to prove the bona fides of those vitally interested in this matter, they voluntarily propose to allow the Government to spend a portion of the money they would receive in popularizing Australian wines. I am afraid that whatever is said will have little effect upon the Government; but I seriously ask honorable senators representing States which will not be affected by this measure, to take into consideration the unfortunate position in which repatriated men in South Australia, Victoria, and, to a less extent, in New South Wales, will be placed, if the Government’s proposal is adopted.
– I intend to support Senator Robinson in his effort to amend this clause,- which provides for a reduction in the bounty, and to substitute a provision for the payment of the bounty on a sliding scale: The new schedule which the honorable senator desires to add to the bill provides for a sliding scale, under which the rate of bounty shall during a period of six years be decreased each year by 3d. a gallon. This scheme has been suggested by those engaged in the industry, who will be most severely affected if the bounty is reduced as set out in the bill. Surely we should be guided by the opinions and experience of those engaged in the industry, who will suffer severe hardship as a result of a premature reduction in the bounty.
– What is the effective preference to-day?
– I will answer the Minister’s question by asking him what is the effect upon Australian production of the cheap British blended wines now on the London market? The preference of which the Minister has spoken is simply on paper, and the- sale of cheap “pinkie” is operating to the disadvantage of Australian wines. According to the Wine Trade Review, a British company known as Vine Products Limited commenced operations a few years ago with a capital of £300,000, but to-day its capital is. £585,000, “practically two-thirds of which is watered. Last year its profits represented 48 per cent, of its earnings, and its output was 2,500,000 gallons. The Minister has treated this aspect of the question too lightly; competition from this source is detrimental to the wine-export trade of Australia. It is not yet too late for the Government to reconsider this matter. It would not be placing itself in ari invidious position by accepting the amendment suggested by Senator Robinson. I trust the committee will support the proposal, and thus prevent an injustice being done to a large number of deserving men engaged in the industry.
.- The Government cannot accept the amendment foreshadowed by Senator Robinson, which provides for a reduction in the bounty of 3d. in each succeeding year for the next five years, because it will affect the period of the bounty and delete a proviso inserted in the clause in another place and accepted by the Government. That proviso is as follows: -
Provided that no bounty shall be payable in respect of wine which is not shown, to the satisfaction of the Minister, to be the product of areas planted with vines on or before the thirty-first day of March, One thousand nine hundred and twenty-eight.
I do not intend to make a speech at this stage. I should like to hear something in support of the amendment in addition to what has already been said on the second reading.
Amendment (by Senator ROBINSON proposed -
That the words “ One shilling per gallon,” proposed new section 5, be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ in accordance with the schedule to this act.”
– The Minister in charge of the bill says that the Government cannot accept the amendment because it means too serious an alteration of the bill, but that is no justification for hesitating to alter the bill if honorable senators agree to the case that has been put up by Senator Robinson, and others. “We know that there are in this industry people who are struggling to get on their feet. They were induced by different governments in the States to settle on the land. Areas were cleared for them, and they were promised that they would get a fair deal and an adequate return for their labours. But just when they are likely to get on their feet the Government proposes .drastic, alterations in regard to the rate of bounty to be . paid to them. What is to become of these men if they are treated- in this way? . The market overseas is not as good as it was. There is acute competition from continental producers.
– There always has been.
– But it is more acute to-day than it was a few years ago.
– The worst competition comes from British production.
– That is so. All these things make the position very much worse for the growers and others engaged in the wine industry in Australia. The figures quoted by Senator Needham should receive the serious consideration of the Government. This Parliament does not hesitate to give the fullest measure of protection to established industries in Australia. Sugar would be much cheaper for the consumers here if it were not for the almost prohibitive protective duty that has to be paid on sugar brought from outside Australia. We impose that heavy duty because we want to encourage the sugar industry. I want to see the same consideration extended to other industries. Would people engaged in the wine-making business be making special trips to Canberra at great cost and inconvenience to themselves if they had not a good case, and did not feel that they had justice on their side?
– I have known freer traders to come to Canberra, but the honorable senator has not supported their cause on that account.
– The Minister in charge of the bill may laugh at the honorable senator’s interjection, but he would be more serious-minded if he were in the unfortunate position of some of these, grape-growers. As for honorable senators on this side of the chamber -
– They are “ agin “ the Government every time.
– No. They are not against the Government on this measure.
– But why make this a party question ?
– It is not a party question. I daresay that among the growers there are supporters of the Labour party, supporters’ of the Country party, and supporters of the Nationalist party. ‘ We’ are not here to discuss this bill from a party viewpoint.
– We have not done so. ‘
– I do not think any honorable senator has done so, and I hope that Government supporters who regard themselves as loyal party men will not look at the bill from a party viewpoint. Although it affects a small section numerically, it should affect every man in :the community, because the whole community ‘owes a duty to these men on the land. I want to see them kept on the land and engaged in this industry, with profit to themselves. They are not engaged in a profitable industry to-day. Fellow feeling makes us wondrous kind, particularly in times of adversity, and these men are going through a time of adversity.
– They have put their all into the business.
– After having risked their lives for the citizens of this country they put . their all into this industry in the belief that the Government would stand by them. We heard it said after their return, “ We cannot do enough for . these boys ; we must see them well placed ; we shall never see them in want.” Yet now, when these boys are asking for a fair deal from the Government, the Government treats their request in a halfhearted way. So far as we on this side of the chamber are concerned, we shall do our level best for them, and if those honorable senators who helped directly or indirectly to place them on the land do their duty, they will help Senator Robinson in his efforts to get his amendment carried. I do not wish to say any more just now, but there is a great principle involved in this matter.
– No doubt!
– The more fully it is discussed the greater will be the support given to it. Senator Reid knows of the trials and troubles inseparable from those engaged in the work-a-day world. If he had been induced by the State Government to engage iti this industry, told what he must plant and what he could expect when his vines came in to full bearing - told, moreover, that a profitable market would be found for his products ; loud would be his protests when he found that the Government had not honoured its promise, and his opposition to the proposal to reduce by 9d. a gallon the bounty on wine exported would be most vigorous.
– The Minister showed clearly that the exporters of wine will now be better off by 2s. 9d. a gallon than they were when the original act was passed.
– The Government should give practical evidence of the sincerity of its professed desire to help these men, and it can do so by accepting Senator Robinson’s proposal.
– Several attempts have been made to show that this reduction in the wine bounty is a breach of contract on the part of the Government
– Undoubtedly it is.
– Anyone who, having been placed in possession of the facts, says that the Government’s action is a breach of contract, is guilty of deliberate misrepresentation
– I rise to a point of order. The Minister has accused honorable senators of having indulged in deliberate misrepresentation. I regard the term as offensive and ask that it be withdrawn.
– During the course of the debate I have said nothing whatever regarding the protection enjoyed by the wine industry.
– Mr. Chairman, T ask that the Minister be called upon to withdraw the remark to which I take exception. I consider that it was meant amongst others, to apply to me, and as I regard it as being personally offensive to me, I ask that it be withdrawn.
– I said that any one in full possession of the facts, who accused the Government of having committed a breach of contract, made a deliberate mis-statement. If Senator Needham considers that the remark applied to him and that it was offensive, I withdraw it; but I ask you, Mr. Chairman, to call upon Senator Needham to withdraw the charge that the Government has committed a breach of contract. Such a charge is offensive to me personally and I am sure it is equally offensive to my colleagues.
– If the Minister considers the remark offensive I withdraw it.
– Senator Findley said that the wine industry is as much entitled to protection as is any other Australian industry. With that I agree; but I point out that it enjoys a greater measure of protection than any other Australian industry. The duty on wine is 14s. a gallon. Assuming, that the value of wine is 4s. a gallon, that duty represents a protection of 350 per cent. Wine imported in bottles bears a duty of 18s. a gallon.
– That duty is about as effective as an import duty on wheat or coal would be.
– It is sufficient to keep out all wines excepting small quantities of special wines from France, Spain, and Portugal. It enables Australian wine producers to obtain a satisfactory price for so much of their wines as are consumed in Australia. I remind honorable senators that in my second-reading speech I quoted the remarks made- in another place by the late Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), in March of last year, in which he stated definitely that the Government reserved to itself the right to reduce the wine bounty by an amount equivalent to any increase of British preference. That preference has been increased by 3s. 6d. per gallon; and seeing that the Government proposes to reduce the bounty by only Od. a gallon, honorable senators will see that the effective preference is 2s. 9d. a gallon more than it was twelve months ago.
– I shall show presently that that is not so, because of the blending of wines in England.
– Wines have been blended from time immemorial. Ever since a bounty on wine exported from this country has been paid, wine has been made in Great Britain from imported must. Prom the remarks of honorable senators one would imagine that only Australian wines are affected by the blending of wines in Great Britain. That is not so. Wines from other countries entering . England are also affected. Had there been a provision in the’ original bill, or the amending legislation introduced last year, to the effect that the bounty should be reduced in the same ratio as British preference was increased, honorable senators representing constituencies in which wine is produced would have accepted it. But the Government’s proposals do not go so far as that. The reduction of the bounty is less than one-fourth of the amount by which the British preference has been increased. Yet honorable senators allege that an injustice is being done to those engaged in the industry, particularly to those returned soldiers who were placed on the land by the States by means of money advanced by the Commonwealth, and were instructed by the States what they should plant on their holdings. That argument has been advanced chiefly by honorable senators opposite. If any unbiassed person were asked his opinion whether the members of the Opposition or those supporting the Government have rendered the most practical assistance to our soldiers, either while they were abroad or since their return, his verdict would be given in favour of the Government and its supporters.
– Do something practical for them now.
– Those engaged in the wine industry will be better off with the higher British preference and this lower bounty than they were twelve months ago.
– I had not long been a member of the Senate before I realized that one of my cherished ideals had been shattered. I had hoped that the debates in this chamber would not be conducted in the atmosphere in which we have to-day considered this bill - each party endeavouring to make political capital out of its efforts on behalf of our returned soldiers.
– I am defending the Government from attacks made by the Opposition.’
– I am not . blaming the Minister. I do not for one moment believe that either party in this Parliament is more zealous than the other for the welfare of our returned soldiers. I am charitable enough to believe that whatever our political opinionsmay be, or whatever may be our views as to the merits or demerits of this bill, we are at one in our desire to do the fair thing by the men who went overseas to fight for Australia. The difficulty appears to be to agree upon the method by which this should be done. I can assure the Minister that all the growers on the Murray river irrigation areas regard the Government’s proposals as a’ repudiation of a definite promise that the bounty would be continued for three years. I. admit that a statement was made last year by the late Minister for Trade and Customs in the terms set out by Senator Crawford; but it was probably a merely .casual observation made in much the same way as statementshave been made during this debate.
– Then why was not the intention to further reduce the bounty by 9d. a gallon this year included in the bill of 1927. The growers were clearly under the impression that the bounty would be paid for three years. Accordingly they look upon this measure as a repudiation of a promise. In the circumstances I urge the Government to stay its hand. The Minister in charge of the bill has repeatedly stated that even under the reduced bounty the grape-growers will be better off than .they were under the original proposals. I challenge that statement. The excise on spirit amounts to £9 per ton of grapes crushed, whereas the grower gets only £6 10s, This, surely, is conclusive proof that our returned soldier settlers, for whose welfare I am particularly concerned, are .contributing a considerable portion of the bounty. The hour is now late. It is 11 o’clock. We have had a strenuous day, and as I am a man on the land accustomed to going to bed at an early hour, I suggest that the Minister report progress.
Senate adjourned at 11.6 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 May 1928, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1928/19280517_senate_10_118/>.