11th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Federal Capital Commission - Fourth Annual Report for the year ended 30th June, 1928.
Ordered to be printed.
Audit Act - Finance - Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditure for the year ended 30th June, 1928, accompanied by the Report of the Auditor-General.
British Economic Mission - Report of the British Economic Mission nominated by His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain at the request of His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
Nos. 33, 34, 35 and 30 of 1928- Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia, Australian Postal Electricians’ Union, and Fourth Division Postmasters, Postal Clerks and Telegraphists’ Union.
Nos. 37, 38, 39 and 40 of 1928- Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia, Australian Postal Electricians’ Union, Australian Third Division Telegraphists and Postal Clerks’ Union, and Commonwealth Telegraph Traffic and Supervisory Officers’ Association.
No. 41 of 1928- Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association.
No. 42 of 1928 - Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
No. 43 of 1928 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 44 of 1928 - Postal Overseers’ Union of Australia.
No. 45 of 1928 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
Nos. 46 and 47 of 1928 - Fourth Division Postmasters, Postal Clerks and Telegraphists’ Union.
No. 48 of 1928 - Fourth Division Postmasters, Postal Clerks and Telegraphists’ Union.
Nos. 49 and 50 of 1928 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia.
No. 51 of 1928 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia.
No. 52 of 1928 - Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
No. 1 of 1929 - Commonwealth Temporary Clerks’ Association.
Nos. 2, 3 and 4 of 1929 - Australian Postal Electricians’ Union, Australian Third Division Telegraphists and Postal Clerks’ Union, and Commonwealth Telegraph Traffic and Supervisory Officers’ Association.
No. 5 of 1929 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association. Audit Act -
Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1928, No. 96.
Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial year’ 1927-28 - Dated 24th -January, 1929.
Commonwealth Bank Act -
Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1928. Nos. 101, 102, 127, 128; 1929, No. 10.
Treasurer’s Statement of the Combined Accounts of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and the Commonwealth Savings Bank at 30th June, 1928, certified to by the Auditor-General.
Air Force Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1928, No. 109.
Customs Act -
Proclamation, dated 7th December, 1928, prohibiting the exportation (except under certain conditions) of Cinematograph Films.
Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1928, No. 95- No. 132.
Excise Act Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1928, No. 131.
Export Guarantee Act- Returns showing assistance granted -
To 30th September, 1928.
To 31st December, 1928.
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1928, No. 103- No. 121- No. 125- No. 126; 1929, No. 4.
Electoral Act and Referendum (Constitution Alteration ) Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1928, No. 107 -No. 117.
Lands Acquisition Act- Land acquired at Ceduna, South Australia - For Defence purposes.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1928, No. 120- No. 122 -No. 138- No. 140- No. 141; 1929, No. 5- No. 6.
Navigation Act - Report of cases in which the Governor-General, during the year ended 31st December, 1928, exercised his powers under section 422a of the Act to exempt certain ships from compliance with specified requirements of the Act.
New Guinea Act - Ordinances of 1928 -
No. 19- Supply (No. 2), 1928-29.
No. 20 - Miners’ Homestead Leases.
No. 21 - Mineral Oil and Coal.
No. 22 - Currency Coinage and Tokens.
No. 23 - Laws Repeal and Adopting.
No. 24 - Expropriation.
No. 25 - Natives’ Contracts Protection.
No. 20 - Police Offences.
No. 27 - Loan
No. 28 - Native Labour.
No. 29 - Judiciary (No. 3).
No. 30 - Prisons.
No. 31- Appropriation 1928-1929.
No. 32 - Lands Registration.
No. 33 - Bounties.
No. 34 - Administrator’s Powers.
No. 35 - Superannuation.
Northern Australia . Act -
Central Australia -
Ordinances of 1928 -
No. 20- Service and Execution of Process.
No. 21 - Aboriginals (No. 2).
No. 22 - Nurses and Midwives Registration.
No. 23 - Income Tax.
No. 24 - Justices.
No. 25 - Government Resident.
No. 26 - Leprosy.
No. 27 - Poisons.
No. 28 - Printers and Newspapers.
No. 29 - Dangerous Drugs (No. 2).
No. 30 - Board of Inquiry.
Public Service Ordinance - Regulations.
North Australia -
Ordinances of 1928 -
No. 22 - Service and Execution of Process.
No. 23 - Aboriginals (No. 2).
No. 24 - Nurses and Midwives Registration.
No. 25 - Income Tax.
No. 26 - Justices.
No. 27 - Government Resident.
No. 28 - Leprosy.
No. 29 - Poisons.
No. 30 - Printers and Newspapers.
No. 31 - Dangerous Drugs (No. 2).
No. 32 - Roads.
Public Service Ordinance - Regulations.
Northern Territory Representation Act and Commonwealth Electoral Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1928, No. 108- No. 119.
Railways Act - By-laws - Nos. 49, 50, 51.
River Murray Waters Act - River Murray Commission - Report for the year 1927-28; together with Statements furnished on behalf of the Governments of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia in respect of Gaugings, &c.
Papua Act - Ordinances of 1928 -
No. 2 - Gaming.
No. 8 - Appropriation 1928-1929, together with Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1929.
No. 9 - Supplementary Appropriation 1927-1928 (No. 2), together with Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure (No. 2) for the year ended 30th June, 1928.
Public Service Act -
Appointments - Department of -
Home and Territories - H. S. Tregenza.
Treasury - G. Smith.
Works and Railways - J. P. Whyte. Public Service Board’s Fifth Report, dated 1st December, 1928.
Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1928, No. 104- No. 105; 1929, No. 1.
Science and Industry Endowment Act - Auditor General’s Report on the Science and Industry Endowment Fund, as at 30th June, 1928.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act-
Ordinances of 1928 -
No. 22 - Board of Inquiry.
No. 23- Public Parks.
No. 24 - Liquor.
Liquor Ordinance - Regulations.
Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Regulations Amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1928, No. 116- No. 136- No. 139. Shipping Act -
Australian Commonwealth Shipping Board - Profit and Loss Account for the year 1st April, 1927, to 31st March, 1928; and Balance-sheet as at 31st March, 1928.
Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers - Profit and Loss Account for the year 1st April, 1927, to 31st March, 1928; and Balance-sheet as at 31st March, 1928.
Cockatoo Island - Profit and Loss Account for the year 1st, April, 1927, to 31st March, 1928; and Balancesheet as at 31st March, 1928.
Spirits Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1928, No.106.
Transport Workers Act - Regulations Amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1928. Nos. 98, 111, 130.
Federal Capital - Report of the Federal Capital Commission for the quarter ended 30th September, 1928.
Treaty of Peace (Germany) Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1929, No. 8.
Killing of Natives by Police Party in Central Australia - Evidence and Finding of Board of Inquiry.
Assent to the following bills of 1928 reported : -
Transport Workers Bill.
Beer Excise Bill.
Seat of Government Railway Bill.
Commonwealth Public Service Bill.
Referendum ( Constitution Alteration ) Bill.
Tasmania Sinking Fluid Agreement Bill.
Seat of Government (Administration) Bill.
Income Tax Bill.
Income Tax Assessment Bill.
Estate Duty Assessment Bill.
Appropriation Bill, 1928-29.
– Pursuant to Standing Order No. 38, I hereby appoint the following senators to be the Committee of DisputedReturns and
Representation in the Senate.
[3.14]. - (By leave.) - I inf orm the Senate that Ministers in the House of Representatives will be represented in this chamber as follows: - The Prime Minister and the Treasurer by myself; the Minister for Home Affairs and the Minister for Health by Senator Sir William Glasgow; the AttorneyGeneral, the Postmaster-General, the Minister for Works and the Minister for Trade and Customs by Senator McLachlan; the Minister for Markets and Transport and the Minister in charge of Repatriation, in addition to the Department of Industry, by Senator Ogden.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
Will the Government place the Kellogg Peace Pact before the Senate for consideration before the Easter adjournment?
In compliance with the wish of the honorable senator, a copy of the Treaty for the Renunciation of War will be laid upon the table of the Senate, and an opportunity will be provided for a discussion of its provisions.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Committee of Public Accounts Act 1913- 1920, the following senators be appointed members of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, viz., Senator J. B. Hayes, Senator Hoare, and Senator Kingsmill.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1921, the following senators be appointed members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, viz., Senator Barnes, Senator Payne, and Senator Reid.
Motions (by Senator Sir George Peabce) agreed to -
That a Printing Committee be appointed, to consist of . Senators Carroll, Elliott, Findley, Graham, J. B. Hayes, Hoare, and Thompson, with power to confer or sit as a Joint Committee with a similar committee of the House of Representatives.
That a Library Committee be appointed, to consist of the President, Senators P. P. Abbott, Sampson, Graham, Kingsmill, Millen and Needham, with power to act during the recess, and to confer or sit as a Joint Committee with a similar committee of the House of Representatives.
That a Standing Orders Committee be appointed, to consist of the President, the Chairman of Committees, Senators Duncan, Findley, Foll, Herbert Hays, Hoare, Kingsmill, and Needham, with power to act during the recess, and to confer with a similar committee of the House of Representatives.
Motions (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, the sittings of the Senate, or of a committee of the whole Senate, be suspended on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 6.15 p.m. to 8 p.m., and on Fridays from 12.45 p.m. until 2.15 p.m.
That the days of meeting of the Senate, unless otherwise ordered, be Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of each week; and that the hour of meeting, unless otherwise ordered, be three o’clock in the afternoon of Wednesday and Thursday, and eleven o’clock in the forenoon of Friday.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, Government business shall take precedence of all other business on the noticepaper, except questions and formal motions, and except that private business take precedence of Government business on Thursday, after8 p.m.; and that, unless otherwise ordered, private orders of the duy take precedence of private notices of motion on alternate Thursdays.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, at 4 o’clock p.m. on Fridays the President shall put the question - That the Senate do now adjourn, which question shall not be open to debate; if the Senate be in committee at that hour, the Chairman shall in like manner put the question - That he do leave the Chair and report to the Senate; and upon such report being made the President shall forthwith put the question - That the Senate do now adjourn, which question shall not be open to debate: Provided that if the Senate, or the committee, be in division at the time named, the President or the Chairman shall not put the question referred to until the result of such division has been declared; and if the business under discussion shall not have been disposed of at such adjournment, it shall appear on the businesspaper for the next sitting day.
Motion (by Senator Sir William Glasgow) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to provide for the establishment of a Forestry Bureau.
Motion (by Senator McLachlan) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act relating to compensation to employees of the Commonwealth for injuries suffered in the course of their employment.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed -
That a House Committee be appointed, to consist of the President, the Chairman of Committees, Senators Cox, Graham, Guthrie, Hoare and Elliott, ‘with power to act during the recess, and to confer or sit as a Joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives.
– I am perfectly satisfied with, the proposed personnel of this committee, but I should like its powers to be amplified in order that two matters of considerable moment to honorable senators, and members of another place may be placed on a more satisfactory footing. First, I wish to refer to the accommodation provided for members of this Parliament at the Commonwealth Bank, Sydney. If the provision of accommodation there were entrusted to the House Committee I feel sure that the requirements of members would be more adequately met than is the case at present. It seems to be nobody’s business to provide for the comfort and convenience of the members of this Parliament when they are in Sydney. A number of government departments which now occupy rooms on the 8th floor of the Commonwealth Bank building, might well be housed elsewhere in order to provide more adequate accommodation for members. Moreover, such accommodation should be divided to suit the requirements of the several political parties. Under the existing conditions a few persons may each occupy a room while others have to take what they can get.
Another matter to which I desire to make reference is the inability of members of this Parliament to obtain books from the parliamentary library during the hours that Parliament is not sitting. Those of us who are compelled to live at Canberra during the session are unable to obtain books from the library when we most desire them. It should not be difficult for the librarian to arrange for one member of his staff to be on duty each evening to attend to the requirements of members. If necessary, that officer could be allowed time off the following day. If, as a prominent member of the House Committee informed me, the subject to which I first referred is not a matter for that committee, the necessary power to deal with it should be vested in that body. If the House Committee is to serve any useful purpose its powers should be extended.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands). - I am not aware who has control of the Federal members’ rooms in the Commonwealth Bank, Sydney; but I do not think that they are under the jurisdiction of the House Committee. Steps will, however, be taken to bring under the notice of the proper authorities the remarks of the honorable senator.
I have no doubt that the library committee will take into consideration the remarks of the honorable senator with reference to obtaining books from the library during hours other than those when Parliament is sitting.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
.- I move-
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech be agreed to -
To His Excellency the Governor-General -
May it Please Your Excellency:
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
The result of the recent election proves conclusively that the people of Australia are satisfied with the present Administration. That a Government which has been in office for over six years - the longest period that any Government has remained in power since the establishment of the Commonwealth - should still retain the confidence of the electors speaks well for the members comprising it. I feel sure that during the next three years there will be no change of Government for the people of Australia realize that the present Ministry is equal to any demand that may be made upon it. That fact was demonstrated recently when, in order to deal with the crisis which arose in connexion with the transport workers’ strike, the Government introduced regulations under the Transport Workers Act. Had honorable senators opposite, during the critical days when the strike was pending, given sound advice in the proper quarters much of the trouble which has arisen might have been prevented. Unfortunately, there was only one man among them who was prepared to do so. Honorable senators opposite would allow the whole of the transport of Australia to be thrown into a state of chaos, thereby countenancing the sacrifice of the year’s output of the primary producers of this country, which would be allowed to rot on our wharfs, vainly awaiting shipment to overseas markets. Honorable senators opposite refused to raise their voices in an effort to induce their followers to resume work.
– They did not even sneeze.
– No. They were afraid to take any action.
– Because the men were their masters.
– That may be, but surely they come here pledged to keep the wheels of industry turning. It was their duty to urge those men to return to work. Our primary producers toiled throughout the year to bring forth a satisfactory harvest, but their efforts were nullified merely to humour the whims of a few labour agitators. I have no doubt that a number of these individuals who continue to stir up industrial strife were also associated with the deplorable endeavour that was made during the Great War to bring about a general strike in Australia, and so starve our nurses and soldiers who had gone overseas to serve the Empire. It is scandalous that, as soon as the country has an opportunity to attain prosperity, these agitators introduce the poison of industrial strife. Fortunately the regulations under the Transport Workers’ Act, introduced by this Government, have temporarily steadied the extremists. Possibly they will try to circumvent those regulations, but I am confident that, eventually, they will be checkmated. This Government consists of men who are honest enough to say what they think and who perform the job which they were elected to do.
– Things were a bit wobbly at the last Nationalist party meeting.
– That little interlude was staged merely for our own amusement, and to give honorable senators opposite something to talk about. If they had not something of the kind to discuss I am afraid that they would go melancholy mad. It is significant that the recent referendum for the alteration of the Constitution to provide for the financial agreement between the Commonwealth and the States was carried by a tremendous majority in every State. That indicates that this Government is on the right track. Honorablesenators opposite raised a storm in a teacup when the proposed agreement was debated last year, and prophesied that it would not have the support of the people. The action of the Government has been vindicated, and it now remains for it to ratify the agreement. That ratification is assured, as the Government possesses a satisfactory majority in both Houses.
-Is the honorable senator sure about the other House?
– Certainly, it has a majority in both Houses.
– That state of affairs may exist to-day, but it is problematical as to to what may happen to-morrow.
– The only hope of honorable senators opposite is that some of our supporters may die, but there may be casualties on both sides. I regret very much that during the last election this party lost such excellent men as exSenators Abbott, Eobinson, Thomas, and Verran, who were very well known and respected in this chamber. Unfortunately, some have to fall by the way.
– But we gained more than we lost.
– That is so, and the Government now has a greater majority in the Senate than it had prior to the election. That is conclusive proof that the people of Australia are perfectly satisfied with the Government. It is gratifying to find that the present Ministry is composed mainly of young Australians in the prime of life; men with unblemished careers, who have done well in both private and public life. The majority are returned soldiers, who sacrificed everything they had in order to fight for the Empire in the Great War. Now they are here to fight for and help to keep this country fit for good Australians to live in. That is why the Government was returned for the third time in succession at the last general election. The people of Australia wanted to give them an opportunity to perfect the work which they had begun. To indicate how alert and up to date is our Government, I cite its action in scrapping our obsolete warships and submarines and substituting ships that are the latest in war machines.
– The building of those ships was begun nearly two years ago, and they are not here yet.
– The honorable senator is behind the times, possibly having been in rustic seclusion in Victoria. Our new submarines and cruisers are in Australian waters, while the seaplane Albatross, which was built in Australia, has been commissioned. I hope that the Government will pursue the same progressive policy in the military arm of defence. I understand that it is giving favorable consideration to Sir John Salmond’s report on our air force.
– Sir John Salmond did not say that our aeroplanes are uptodate.
– No doubt our aeroplanes in common with other military equipment were becoming worn out. The Ministry, realizing this, secured a report upon our air force by the most up-to-date man in the world in regard to air defence, its idea being that when steps were taken to reorganize our air defence, the very latest equipment should be secured. The Minister for Defence (Senator Sir William Glasgow) is not the man to let members of our air force get into the air unless they have the very best planes under them. To my mind the Government was wise in securing this report from Sir John Salmond before taking steps to improve our air defence.
– It is a very valuable report.
– It is and I feel sure that the Government will carry it into effect.
I shall support it in whatever proposal it puts forward to bring our military forces up-to-date. Any form of defence is useless unless it is kept up-to-date. Our land forces have a staff that is second to none. The members of that staff are highly trained. They have had an experience thatvery few staffs, prior to the last war, had the opportunity of gaining. I trust that on the military side the Minister for Defence will put forward a steady programme of development for the next five years such as he has just carried through on the naval side.
Just when Australia is moving ahead, we find a lot of men attempting to bring about a widespread strike. I appeal to my friends opposite to use their best endeavours to get these men to cease bringing about industrial turmoil and abide by the award of the Arbitration Court, thus allowing the industries of Australia to work smoothly. The men get fairly good wages. Some of them do better than honorable Senators. If they will not work they are not playing the game. If care is not exercised the coal contracts of
Victoria and South Australia will be lost to New South Wales, and if that should come about it would be a national catastrophe. I ask my friends opposite fo get the men to come down to “ tin tacks “. Let them urge the men to obtain a regular living, not to make £20 by two or three days’ work and then knock off for a fortnight. If the men would only work on steadily it would be far better for them and for the whole country. I trust that common sense will prevail. If honorable senators opposite will endeavour to get the men to play the game, we shall be only too pleased to help them.
– I am conscious of the great honour the Government has conferred on me by asking me to second the motion for the address-in-reply to the speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General, Lord Stonehaven. The opening of this Parliament is a memorable one, because this is the first session of any Parliament opened at Canberra by the GovernorGeneral.
The speech delivered to us outlines a policy founded on a national spirit which finds expression in the Federal Capital itself. The Bruce-Page Government meets Parliament again after six years of intense legislative and administrative effort, and I congratulate it on the confidence and admiration it has earned from the people of the Commonwealth by reason of its past endeavours. The composite Government is returned once more to power with the blessing of the majority of the people of Australia. There is nothing in the life of any Parliament that tends to bring about success more than impartiality, fair dealing and a desire for fair play among all sections of the community.
During the past six years’ the present Government has aimed at removing the disadvantages which Australia has suffered through the neglect of past Parliaments to recognize the fact that primary production is the backbone of the country, and during the period to which I have referred a remarkable number of measures have been passed to restore the balance between the country and the city.
An outstanding feature of the legislation introduced during this period has been the Financial Agreement, which at the last election was accepted by the people by an overwhelming majority, and which will, . I understand, very shortly be submitted to this Parliament for ratification. This agreement will bring about a great saving in the amount of interest annually paid on our national debt. The establishment of the sinking fund provided for, which will wipe off the total indebtedness of the Commonwealth and States in a certain period of time, will put the credit of Australia on a far higher plane than it has hitherto reached.
I regret very much that during the past few years there has been a certain amount of industrial trouble which, no matter how we may view it, must bring about incalculable and irrecoverable loss to the community; because not only is the production which could have been achieved during the progress of a strike lost for all time, but also the wages that would have been circulated in the community. The citizens of the Commonwealth are to be congratulated that during this trying period there has been in office in the Commonwealth a Government, of which I am proud to be a supporter, capable of dealing with the difficult situations that have arisen both firmly and impartially. I stand for the principle of arbitration - for fair wages and general employment under fair conditions. I am convinced that during the past six years the Government has done all in its power to make the machinery of our arbitration courts run smoothly and to bring about that good will between employer and employee which, to my mind, is an essential factor in any form of production. At all times it has put forward its best efforts to bring industrial disputes to a final settlement by peaceful means, and where it has failed to do so, it has never allowed the dignity of the Government and constitutional authority to be dragged in the dust by those who desire disruption and strife. At the last and also the previous election, by an overwhelming majority of votes, the people indicated that they were in agreement with the sane and very necessary policy of the Government, that the Government’s view was their view also, and that they would support a continuation of its steady policy of development, notwithstanding the tactics of a few foreign extremists who have been trying to disrupt the industrial conditions of Australia. I have in mind the recent trouble along the water front. Our primary producers are already sufficiently handicapped by having to produce under Australian conditions, and to sell in the world’s market in competition with the produce of foreign countries where the standard of living and the rates of wages are very much lower, and the interference with their products at the clearing houses, the ports of Australia is not only aggravating, but also selfish and unpatriotic. In Queensland our wool has been hung up over two sales, that is to say, for a period of four months, with great loss to the primary producers, who have not been able to get their produce away.
As a primary producer, I should like to refer to the great benefits which have been conferred on the man on the land by the present Government. For instance, the Rural Credit Act enables’ the producer to spread the sale of his products over the whole year, whereas previously he was sometimes forced to sell at an inopportune time and take whatever price was ruling at the moment. The advancing of money upon produce before it is sold has had the great effect of stimulating greater production by men on the land. This is but one illustration of the legislation which has been introduced by the Bruce-Page Government for the benefit of the man on the land. Export Control Boards have been set up and have secured markets for the sale of Australian fruits and similar produce in Great Britain and other parts of the world. A special tax concession has been given to the man on the land, in relation to the improvements he effects. Those improvements are very expensive, especially in the pastoral industry. The practice now is to regard their value as a direct charge against capital, instead of to compel it to be returned as income and thus be taxable. The conferring of these benefits by this Government has gone a long way towards bringing about a more equitable balance between the country and the city. Primary and secondary industries must go forward hand in hand if the welfare of the individual, as well as of the nation as a whole, is to be conserved. The policy of the Government in the past can be aptly summed up by the use of the term “ development “ ; and I am pleased to note that that policy is to be continued. The appointment of the Development and Migration Commission and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research will assist materially to solve the problems of competitive production.
As a representative of Queensland, which covers a vast area and has many isolated outposts, I have been greatly impressed by the development that has taken place in connexion with our postal services, more especially in our country districts. I congratulate the PostmasterGeneral upon the splendid work that he has done and the consideration he has invariably shown to country districts during the past six years; and I hope that during the life of this Parliament we can look forward to an even greater improvement than that which has already been achieved. I trust that the time is not far distant when many country districts will have installed the rural automatic telephone. Such an innovation would be of considerable advantage not only to the primary producer himself but also to the family, because it would make far more attractive the lives they have to live, and bring into greater harmony the conditions of country and city life. I am proud to think that Australia now possesses the second longest telephone line in the world - that between Cairns and Adelaide, a distance of approximately 3,000 miles. I understand that, before very long, telephone communication will be established between Cairns and Perth and that that will be the longest telephone line in the world. Communication by means of the telephone, the telegraph, railways, roads and airways, is of vital importance to every citizen of the Commonwealth.
It is gratifying to learn from the Governor-General’s Speech that the Government intends to seek the cooperation of the States in dealing with the question of transport generally. That it is the function of the Commonwealth Government to take the initiative has already received recognition in the acceptance by the States of a grant from the Federal Government for the construction of main roads. It was possible to commence the work of unifying the railway gauges only because the States of New South Wales and Queensland agreed to co-operate with the Commonwealth Government in having constructed a new railway line of standard gauge between Kyogle and South Brisbane. That line, I understand, is to be opened for traffic very shortly. Already a transport commission has been appointed, in conjunction with the States, to go into the matter of internal freights and to coordinate the two great public utilities of roads and railways, and. the Government announces that it is prepared to discuss with the States further proposals for placing the railways on a firmer foundation. If the Government in conference with the States can formulate some scheme whereby the severe handicap placed on country districts by the lack of co-ordination in the matter of freights and the design of lines which have regard to State boundaries, can be overcome, then I venture to say that that alone will justify the confidence reposed in the Administration by the electors.
By the adoption of the principle of co-operation the matter of health has been placed upon a national basis. A health council has been appointed, comprising representatives of the States and the Commonwealth, to inquire into every aspect of national health. Very little attention has so far been devoted to the sanitation of our country districts. This is of the very greatest importance in relation not only to health, but also the population of our country centres. With proper sanitation and the provision of other conveniences, life in country districts could be made much more congenial, and manufacturers would have an incentive to establish large industrial undertakings, because they would know that the conveniences available were not less up to date than those obtainable in the cities. It is necessary that attention be given also to the question of water power. The Commonwealth cannot alone do effective work, and naturally it is too big a matter to be tackled by local bodies. The Governments of the States are confronted with a number of other domestic problems. Therefore there must be co-operation between the Commonwealth and the’ States if the desired result is to be achieved.
Another matter which closely affects country residents is that of electric power. If we are to avoid a repetition of our experience in connexion with the railway systems of Australia, we must immediately place this matter upon a proper basis, because many units have already sprung up. I understand that an electric power survey committee has been appointed to go into the question of the standardization of electrical machines throughout the Commonwealth. The provision of electric power and a proper system of sanitation will place our country districts in as advanced a state as the countryside of other nations, and also make more nearly equal the benefits enjoyed by the country and the city dweller.
I thank honorable senators for the indulgence they have shown me during this, my first, speech in the Senate, and trust that they will appreciate the importance of the subjects to which I have referred.
– May I, in the first place, congratulate my old friend, Senator Cox, upon the very entertaining speech he delivered in moving the Address-in-Reply to the speech of His Excellency the Governor-General. I commend him upon its brevity. I also extend congratulations to Senator Cooper upon his very fine maiden effort. Whether I agree with him or not, I admit that he said very well what he had to say. Prior to His Excellency the Governor-General advising this Parliament, and through it the Commonwealth of Australia, as to what was in the minds of the present Government, I thought I would devote some time to the consideration and discussion of the speech of His Excellency, as given to him by his ministerial advisers, but having perused the document very carefully and deliberately, I have come to the conclusion that I ought not to delay the Senate by discussing such a vague, and, with all due respect to the representative of His Majesty the King, such a futile document.
– That is what the honorable senator said last time.
– I remind my honorable friend that I said nothing of the sort. Reference to Hansard wilafford confirmation of that statement. The speech is full of generalities, it is vague, it is verbose, and, as I have already mentioned, it is futile. When recently reading a life of Burns, I noticed that at one time the great Scotchman was entertained by one of the lairds and wa3 not treated very well, and that in the course of a poem referring to the function he wrote that it was deeds, not words that make men loved. Australia’s great need to-day is not words but deeds. It is, therefore, my intention to permit the Government to proceed as quickly as possible with its legislative work. I find that the speech is simply a repetition of certain previous promises, many of which have not been fulfilled. The mover of the motion under consideration prided himself upon the fact that the present Government had had six years of office, but he failed to tell the Senate what the Government had done during that period for the advancement of the country’s interests. It would be impossible for me to supply that information, because the Government has done nothing that has in any way advanced the interests of Australia.
I notice on the Treasury bench to-day a gentleman who, in the last Parliament, was seated on my left. I refer to Senator Ogden. According to Hansard of the 10th August, 1926, the honorable senator said that the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) had ruined the Country party. ‘Now, as a member of the Ministry, the honorable senator is going to help the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) to ruin Australia. -
I am not concerned so much about what the speech of His Excellency the Governor-General contains as I am about what it does not contain. On the eve of the 1925 election the Prime Minister made a definite promise to the people that he would bring down a measure for the purpose of providing national insurance against unemployment. To this day that promise has not been fulfilled.
It is true that a measure was introduced in the other branch of the legislature providing, as the speech tells us, for national insurance against sickness, invalidity and death, but there is not one word in that measure, or in this document, indicating that the promise made by the Prime Minister will be fulfilled during the life of the present Parliament. No mention is made in the speech about the unemployment that is rampant in Australia to-day. There is no reference to the misery and privation being experienced by the wives and children of those men who are vainly searching for employment. The present Government poses as the friend of the workers, but it is silent regarding this serious economic position. The speech makes no reference whatever to the subject of national insurance against unemployment.
Another subject to which the Government gave prominence at the 1925 election was a great social reform that had been agreed to by the two big parties in this country, the so-called Nationalist party and the Labour party. I refer to childhood endowment. This subject was mentioned in the policy speech of the Prime Minister in 1925, and although he did not make a definite promise to institute the reform, he led the people to understand that the Government would take steps to do so.
There are other subjects of vast and vital importance to the people, who expect them to be brought before this Parliament for discussion by their duly elected representatives, but they have hoped and waited in vain. The business sheet before us indicates what the Ministry will do in the next week or two. If the notice-paper may be accepted as a guide to the business to be transacted, it will be of a very meagre character. I do not say that the Government has no business to bring before us, but if it has, I invite it to lose no time in doing so. For these reasons I have no intention to continue the debate on the document we are now discussing. I invite my honorable friend the Leader of the Senate to proceed with the business of the country.
– I congratulate Senator Cox on his breezy speech and Senator Cooper upon his clear and dignified exposition of the facts that face us to-day as he sees them. I wish briefly to commend the Government for its sane acts of administration in the last six years. The various departments have been well administered. The policy of the Government has not been spectacular, but it has been sound, sane and constructive, designed to benefit this great Commonwealth that we love and all sections of the people.
The Leader of the Opposition in this chamber spoke of the miserable conditions ruling in the country. There is, undoubtedly, much’ unemployment, and this we all deeply deplore. It is a great pity that means cannot be found for securing continuity of employment for all who desire to work. Unfortunately, however, unemployment is largely due to the fact that certain sections of the workers obey the dictates of their union leaders or agitators, and are not allowed to accept profitable work when it is offered to them. Although they all claim to believe in the principle of arbitration,, they do not obey the awards of the Arbitration Court. Hence, during the recent Waterside Workers’ trouble, not only did thousands throw themselves out of work, but they were also the cause of thousands of other men being deprived of employment, thus bringing misery and starvation to women and children, who in all industrial upheavals suffer first and most. No sooner was the Waterside Workers’ dispute settled than there was a threat of a terrible upheaval in the timber industry, owing to the members of that union desiring, apparently, to flout an award of the Arbitration Court. We also have trouble brewing in the coal mining industry, which is of vital importance to- our industrial enterprises. That coal should be procurable at a reasonable price is an essential requirement of our manufacturers. Owing to the high wages paid to them, some of the coal miners seem to be able to work for a couple of days a week and devote the rest of the week to fishing or pony racing.
– By how much could the price of coal be reduced?
– I understand it would be possible to reduce it by 4s. per ton, the Commonwealth, the State Government, the mine-owners, and the mine employees each to contribute ls. per ton to the reduction. If that it not done some of the State governments will be forced to buy their coal from abroad. I have always held the opinion that Australia should purchase as little as possible oversea. We should be enthusiastic in our support of local industries and their products. I am strongly of opinion that if the people of Australia were loyal to the products of their own country and insisted on giving their first preference to Australian goods, and their second preference to goods from other portions of the Empire, there would be very little genuine unemployment in the Commonwealth.
– Would the honorable senator give preference to Australian workers ?
– I take it that every worker in the Commonwealth is an Australian; otherwise he would not be here.
– Preference is being given to “dagoes.”
– I suppose that by the term “ dagoes “ the honorable senator refers to Italians, our allies in the Great War, who have been enthusiastically welcomed into the trade anions of Australia. Mr. Theodore, when Premier of Queensland, said that the Italian settlers in that State were splendid citizens and good unionists, and that he welcomed them into this country and into the unions. Surely honorable senators opposite are aware that the departures of Italians from Australia during the last twelve months, exceeded the number of arrivals from that country. They must know also that under the arrangement made by Mr. Bruce with the Prime Minister of Italy the only Italians who may now enter Australia are the parents of children already here, the children of parents already here, or the Wives or husbands of Italians settled here.
Instead of gaining a reputation for loading our produce quickly and effectively, Australia has received a bad advertisement because of the amount of pilfering which takes place on the wharfs. Our record in this connexion is the worst in the world. I deplore the fact that, in so many of our great industries, men are not allowed to work as they desire. The effective annual wages paid in Australia are the highest for any country in the world.
– Does the honorable senator refer to nominal or real wages?
– I refer to real wages, but not to daily or weekly wages. I repeat that the annual effective wage is higher in Australia than in Canada, the United States of America or elsewhere. I had not intended during this speech to deal with controversial matters.
– Honorable senators opposite have been instructed not to speak on this motion.
– I welcome their interjections. I hope that the workers of Australia will seize the opportunities they have for regular employment, short hours and high wages - opportunities, which no other country offers.
I am pleased with the report of the British Economic Mission, and consider it to be a masterful document, containing a splendid summary of the conditions prevailing in Australia. The report should be helpful to all who are entrusted with the destiny of this nation. I congratulate the Prime Minister on having induced these leaders of industry from the Old Country, at considerable selfsacrifice, to come out to help us. Whatever our political opinions, we must admit that the report is sane, able and helpful.
The Government is also to be congratulated on having brought to Australia the great aviation authority, Sir Johu Salmond. His report, which pointed out clearly that Australia was far behind other countries in aviation matters, should be helpful. More should be done to assist both civil and military aviation in this country. We are at the beginning of the air age. In the future aviation will bear an important part in the exploration and development of this country, the carrying of mails, the transport of people in the outback regions, as well as in defence. We are proud that our airmen are second to none in the world, and rejoice that an Australian airman - Bert Hinkler - has been acclaimed by the aviators of the world as the outstanding aviator during the past year. We should be proud also of the wonderful record of
Western Australian Airways Limited. One of its leading men, Mr. Brearley, a fellow townsman of mine, has established a wonderful organization. The distance flown by the company’s machines and the immunity from loss and accident constitute a wonderful record. In Queensland also good work has been done by our aviators in developing the country and safeguarding human life. The value of civil aviation was demonstrated recently when a well known Melbourne surgeon travelled by aeroplane to Mount Gambier, in South Australia, reaching there within three hours of the receipt of the message calling him to attend a woman whose life was despaired of by four doctors. The operation he performed was successful, and the woman’s life was saved. Many other instances could be given of the usefulness of aeroplanes in conveying injured or sick persons to hospital or in taking doctors or nurses to them. I trust that the Government will make better provision for the development of aviation in this country. We have not nearly sufficient aerodromes, while those we have are unsatisfactory. In all our capital cities and larger towns aerodromes should be provided, as well .as emergency landing places throughout the country. Australians are a sport-loving people; it is said that wherever a few Australians reside there is a race-course. The Government should see that these race-courses are cleared of trees, and made available as emergency landing grounds for our airmen, who daily take their lives in their hands, owing to the dangers of taking off and alighting. It must not be forgotten that in developing civil aviation we are providing for our own defence should it become necessary.
I applaud the decision of the Government to encourage scientific research into our primary and secondary industries, and for bringing to Australia probably the greatest animal pathologist the world has ever known, in the person of Sir Arnold Thieler. That South Africa is habitable by white people and is stocked with cattle and sheep in large numbers is largely due to his work. I urge the Government to make every effort to retain his services permanently for Australia. Although Australia is the most healthy continent for live stock, and probably also for human beings, our great sheep industry loses not less than £4,000,000 per annum because of the blowfly pest. Foot rot is responsible for a further loss of probably £2,000,000 per annum.
I rose particularly to draw attention to a ridiculous action contemplated by the Federal Capital Commission. According to the local press, the Commission intends to lease the water catchment area of the Federal Capital for the agistment of starving stock. To save a paltry 7,000 sheep - those who know my interest in the sheep industry will not misunderstand me - it is proposed to prejudice the purity of the city’s water supply. It is further reported that the Commission contemplates lopping all the willow trees in the city area - one of the few beautiful things in this isolated portion of the Commonwealth - to provide fodder for starving sheep.
– The trees will not be injured.
– The action said . to be contemplated is ridiculous and ill advised from every point of view. If these sheep are starving it can safely be assumed that 20 per cent, will die. Thus we shall have probably 1,400 carcasses on the catchment area to pollute the water supply of the Capital after the first rain. The idea of saving the starving stock of Australia by lopping all the willow trees in the city area to provide fodder for them is most absurd, and would be Gilbertian if it were not tragic. It is a tragedy, because it will be broadcast over the globe and will prove to be an extremely bad advertisement for Australia. We have the greatest stock country in the world and, although we are experiencing a temporary dry spell locally, there are millions of acres of splendid grass, and thousands of acres of good stubble available elsewhere. It would be much saner for the local authorities to lease some of those areas and move their stock to them rather than to endeavour to feed seven thousand starving stock in this territory in the manner suggested. Those lessees whose stock are starving have my sincere sympathy and perhaps should be assisted by the Federal Capital Commis sion or some other body. But it would be much wiser to take the stock elsewhere than to turn them adrift on the watershed reserve and allow them to pollute the water supply of the city.
– What has the Health Department to say on the subject?
– So far the health authorities have not made any move. I am ventilating the matter in the hope that somebody will indicate to the Federal Capital Commission the stupidity of the suggestion.
It is very serious indeed that scare headlines should be used to promulgate the fact that drought conditions prevail in the Federal Capital Territory and that it is necessary for the Commission to cut down the city’s willow trees in order to provide feed for starving stock. It is indeed a sad advertisement as to the barrenness of the Federal Capital City.
– It will be broadcast all over the world.
– Unfortunately, it will. It is inevitable that, in such a large continent as Australia, drought conditions should prevail occasionally in some of its areas. But it is remarkable that whenever any minor catastrophe occurs, whether it be a local drought or flood, a fire, a murder, or a strike it is immediately cabled to the press the world over. Apparently the British and foreign press is only too eager to feature any disabilities which may affect this country. When abroad, I noticed with much concern that, while even in the British press Australia receives no publicity as to its wonderful record of development, its , potential producing capacity, its wonderful war record, or even the excellence of its people in sport, its faults always receive prominence. Australia is a land of sunshine, opportunity, and achievement. We have the finest country in the world, one which should be brought strongly before the notice of other nations; but only its superficial drawbacks are published abroad. Australia is the worst advertised country in the world. . Wow we find the Federal Capital Commission making this blunder, and the local press giving it undue prominence.
– Are there sufficient willow trees here to feed seven thousand sheep ?
– It does not matter whether there are sufficient to feed 7,000 or 7,000,000 sheep. The wholeprocedure is unnecessary and ridiculous. When I first came to Canberra I was asked to express an opinion of the place and I said that I thought it was a good sheep station spoilt. It would seem that I was overpraising it, if, as we are told, the Territory is unable to feed the stock upon it without sacrificing its willow trees and depasturing starving sheep upon the water catchment area. I was correct, however, when I said that it was good sheep country, because last year it established a record for the highest-priced wool produced in Australia. This year Tasmania has that honour, and is likely to retain it for at least twelve months.
– Does the honorable senator refer to the average price for the whole clip?
– No, to the record price for an individual lot. However, the average price obtained for wool from the Yass-Canberra district must at present be about the highest in Australia, even higher than that for the Western district of Victoria from which I come, where the wool, although lighter and brighter, it not so fine in quality.
– Surely the Federal Capital Commission is not responsible for the statement that appeared in the Canberra Times?
– The Commission is responsible for having agreed to lease this particular part of the Territory, and for agreeing to cut down willow trees to feed starving stock. Although we have periodical droughts in Australia, our afflictions in this direction are not worse than those of any other country with the exception, perhaps, of Canada.
– Canada has a drought every year.
– Its pastures suffer from the ravages of black frosts, snow and ice. Australia is no worse off than Russia, South Africa and America in the matter of rainfall. Our great island continent may be divided into three almost equal sections. Section
A contains 1,000,000 square miles of land adjacent to the coast, with a rainfall of over 20 inches per annum. Section B is situated inside of A, and has a similar area of 1,000,000 square miles, with a rainfall of between 10 and 20 inches per annum, while section C, the interior of Australia, also containing approximately 1,000,000 square miles, has a rainfall of under 10 inches per annum. In A, the coastal area, there is plenty of room for closer settlement and intense cultivation, and it is there that we should at present concentrate closer settlement efforts That area is most suitable for other than merino sheep and for the production of a vast quantity of produce that would be used locally and exported. Fortunately for us section B is most suitable for the production of merino sheep and wheat. The interior, section C, so far as we have been able to ascertain, can as yet be only partially developed by the larger pastoralists, who should be encouraged, not discouraged as at present. We hope that eventually it will be freely used to depasture sheep of the hardy merino breed.
Notwithstanding its periodic droughts, Australia leads the world in the sheep industry. Our sheep are sought after by all other sheep-producing countries, and the record price of 5,000 guineas has been paid for one Australian ram. Australia holds every record appertaining to the sheep industry. It has the greatest number of sheep and produces far more, and wool of greater value, than does any other nation. We owe much to the great pioneers of the industry, John Macarthur, the Reverend Samuel Marsden and others, who initiated and developed the industry which has proved to be Australia’s backbone and salvation. The industry had a modest beginning. The first sheep were landed in 1788, and consisted of 29 mongrel ewes and lambs from Bengal. This number was reduced to one during the same year. In 1796 there were only 1,531 sheep in the whole of this great country, and it was not until 1803 that the number reached 10,000. The greatest advance in the industry occurred, probably, in the year 1815, when those splendid pioneers, Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth, with their flocks, crossed the ranges from Sydney to the hinterland and gave a tremendous impetus to our pastoral industry. We should be proud of the industry, reverence the memory of those pioneers, and teach the younger generation what Australia owes to them.
In 1820 there were 150,000 sheep in Australia. By 1860 the number had increased to 23,000,000. We reached our maximum, strange to say, as regards sheep in 1891, when we had 106,000,000. At the present time we have less than 100,000,000. It was John Macarthur who really pioneered the wool industry of Australia. He started his sheep station at Parramatta in 1793 with a modest flock of a few wretched ewes from Bengal and six or seven rams of mixed Spanish and English descent. He made his first great step forward in 1804 when he was represented at the sale of the merino flock of King George III. at Windsor, and purchased rams which were recorded as having given a clip of from 3 to 7 lbs. of wool per head. It will show honorable senators what Australia has done for the sheep industry, aided by the efforts of the pioneers and other pastoralists who have used their brains in the development of the industry, when I tell them that a good merino ram in Australia to-day produces anything from 20 to 30 lbs. I have seen many rams exceed 40 lbs. and some 50 lbs. per head. Because of the suitability of Australia for sheep, and the great energy and the amount of capital which the flockmasters employed in the development of the industry, the last half of last century was notable for a great increase in our flocks. As I have already said, we reached the maximum in 1891. But during the last third of a century, owing to careful selection and breeding, the increase in the quantity of wool produced per head of sheep has been the outstanding feature. In the year ended the 30th June, 1927, we had 103,000,000 sheep in Australia, which produced 2,712,000 bales of wool. It is anticipated that in the present year, ending the 30th June next, 98,000,000 sheep will produce over 2,800,000 bales, which will be a record. Let me compare those figures with the output of wool in 1891, when Australia had its maximum number of sheep. We had then 106,000,000 sheep, but they produced only 1,400,000 bales of wool, which, allowing for the greater weight of wool per bale in those days, would be equal to about 1,500,000 bales to-day. Thus, owing to the skill of our flockmasters, the quantity of wool per head of the sheep has been almost doubled during the last 37 years. In case that fact may be used as an argument in certain directions, I want to point out that, although the sheep in Australia to-day give twice the quantity of wool they gave 37 years ago, they are also easier to shear than they were in 1891. At that time the fashion was to have very wrinkley, short-woolled, greasy sheep. If we had that type of sheep in Australia to-day we could not get the shearers to deal with them. Thank goodness we saw the error of our ways, and that type of very wrinkley sheep has been entirely bred out. The sheep of Australia to-day produce a greater quantity of wool than previously; that is to say, wool for general utility purposes. It may not be so fine in diameter or fibre, but it gives a greater yield, has greater elasticity and has a greater commercial value per pound than it has ever previously had in the history of Australia.
– Does the shearer shear more sheep to-day than he could twenty years ago?
– That is because of the use of machinery.
– Not necessarily. Machinery was in use at the time I mention ; but in those days the sheep were so frightfully wrinkled that I have known an expert shearer to take three hours to shear one merino ram. That was when we had the craze for the Vermont merino type of sheep.
The figures that I shall now ask honorable senators to memorise demonstrate the superiority of the Australian sheep and wool over the sheep and wool of any other part of the world. These figures will be useful for combating the statements of people of other countries, for instance at delegations and at other gatherings overseas. Because of the suitability of Australia for the sheep industry and the perseverance and skill of our flock masters, this country last year depastured 16 per cent. of the world’s sheep and actually produced 27 per cent. of the world’s wool ; the Australian sheep produce practically twice as much wool as the average of the sheep in the rest of the world. It is ‘the actual quantity of clean, scoured wool that counts in the value of the wool produced by a beast. The Australian sheep gives a higher quantity of scoured wool per head for manufacturing purposes than is produced by sheep in any other country, and because this wool has a higher intrinsic value per pound than that of any sheep elsewhere the’ sheep of Australia in reality produces more than twice the value of wool per head than the sheep of any other nation. I am proud of this as an Australian. I think we should all be proud of it and also of the fact that Australia produces over 50 per cent, of the world’s supply of merino wool.
At this stage I desire to sound a note of warning. We are not gaining ground as regards merino wool. Possibly at the moment we are slipping behind a little and the cause is our closer settlement policy. I do not wish any honorable senator to think that I am not a keen advocate of closer settlement and the subdivision of estates which are suitable for subdivision or can be put to better service to the nation by being subdivided for closer settlement purposes. I am a keen advocate of the subdivision of land when the conditions justify it. As a result, however, of closer settlement a great many of the estates that previously grazed merinoes have been subdivided, cultivated and “supered” and that land is now too rich for the merino. Again, the advent of the frozen meat industry has had the -effect that in at least one third of Australia, that is to say, the coastal belt, it is possibly more profitable to breed for mutton and lamb purposes and also for larger lambing purposes. All sheep other than the merino forage for their food singly, whereas the merino works in one big mob and destroys a lot of food.. For these reasons it is probably more profitable1 for the graziers in the coastal belt to produce crossbreds or sheep other than the merino. This factor has thus been responsible for some retrogression in the production of fine wools. I am in favour of closer settlement. Many of my friends have said that closer settlement would tend to reduce the output of wool and destroy our prestige in the wool world, but that has not been my experience. It is true that occasionally estates that are not suitable for closer settlement are cut up, but with closer settlement, sheep husbandry, in conjunction with agriculture, has led to an increase in the quantity of wool produced. I admit that the wool is sometimes rather inferior, possibly because those who combine wool husbandry with agriculture are hampered in their means to buy very high class rams with which to keep up the standard of their flocks.
Many are inclined to think that this, the greatest of Australia’s industries, is confined to a few people. I remind them that there are S0,000 families dependent for their living on growing wool. It will show how far closer settlement has proceeded in Australia when we learn that 95 per cent, of our flocks are less than 5,000 head. There are only 3,000 flocks in Australia numbering over 5,000 head, the average flock in Australia being 1,250 head. Clearly, the industry is’ not in the hands of a few.
The note of warning I want to sound is in regard to the unrestricted export of stud sheep. Our greatest competitor in the sheep and wool industry is South Africa. When I first went into the wool trade the quantity of wool produced in South Africa was only 200,000 bales. It was miserable, short, rubbishy wool, of comparatively little value; but owing to the unrestricted export of our stud rams from Australia, the South African wool clip in my time has increased to 800,000 bales. This year the clip will be nearly 900,000 bales of comparatively good and mostly fine quality merino wool. The splendid progress made by the industry in South Africa has been almost entirely due to the importation of a comparatively few highclass merino rams from Australia. I estimate that in a very short period it will be a very serious competitor with Australia, and will be producing over 1,000,000 bales of merino wool annually. We must give praise to the various South African governments for realizing the national importance of the sheep and wool industry. They have all given encouragement to the industry in almost every way. One instance will suffice. The man on the land in South Africa is taxed very lightly in comparison with the man on the land in Australia. The wages he has to pay arc very much less than they are in Australia, and his freight charges are very much less. On the whole, his production costs are very much lower than those of the Australian sheep and wool producer, but further than that, the man on the land in South Africa, who makes a profit and elects to invest it in the purchase of stud stock from other countries is exempt from income tax on money so expended. In every possible way the various South African governments are inducing the man on the land to import the very best stocksheep, cattle, horses or pigs. We in Australia have made a rod for our own backs. It is quite wrong to imagine that South Africa cannot grow good merino wool. As a matter of fact, wool tops made from South African fine wool are bringing a higher price than tops made from Australian wool. I fear the South Africans as competitors. Over a period of 25 years the total amount spent by them in the purchase of stud rams from Australia has not been greater than £500,000. Australia has benefited to only a small extent in this respect. A few flock masters probably have received a pound or two more for their rams when they have been offered for sale. We should give serious consideration to the position that is likely to arise if we continue to allow the unrestricted export of our stud sheep to South Africa, Russia and other countries. I have no wish to adopt a parochial attitude in relation to this matter. I realize that South Africa is a partner in the great commonwealth of free nations which comprises the British Empire. But let us consider what its attitude has been in the past. At one time it was suggested that Australia should import from South Africa ostriches and angora goats. Immediately a total embargo was placed upon their export, and not even an ostrich egg could be sent to Australia. South Africa has also placed heavy duties upon Australian products, such as wheat and flour, notwithstanding the fact that it is able to produce only one-third of its requirements of wheat. We gain practically nothing from the uncontrolled and unrestricted sale of our stud rams to
South Africa and Russia, yet we are probably undermining our greatest national, most natural and most stable industry.
– What about artificial wool?
– Honorable senators may hold the view that there is not an over-supply of sheep’s wool in the world to-day. I share that view. But the competition of rayon or so-called artificial silk, and to a less extent of snaifil or so-called artificial wool, both of which are vegetable products, being made from trees, is undoubtedly having a prejudicial effect upon the market for fine merino wool, which is in much less demand, and is bringing a relatively poorer price, than crossbred and other wools with which artificial silk is not competing so keenly. We shall merely accentuate the present position if we sell the best of our flocks to a competing nation like South Africa, which is growing wool equally as fine as ours. Should the volume of its output be considerably increased, it might become doubtful whether it would be profitable for Australia to produce fine merino wools in the years to come.
– If the Mother Country had adopted that attitude towards us in relation to the importation of blood stock, where should we have been?
– We do not compete against Great Britain with our blood stock; but when war occurs she calls upon us to supply our incomparable horses for service in Palestine and other countries. I know that any suggestion to bolt the door before it is too late would be unpopular with 50 or 100 big stud merino sheep-growers in Australia, as well as in South Africa; but I do not think that the little which they gain by the export of stud rams should be allowed to weigh against the welfare of the 80,000 families who are dependent upon woolgrowing for their livelihood. If any protest were made by South Africa, it would afford good grounds for negotiation with respect to her hostile tariff towards us. I -have given this matter a lot of thought, and have discussed it with sheep-breeders and experts. I suggest that a committee of members of the Commonwealth Parliament, assisted by outside experts, should make a thorough investigation of the whole question. No harm could possibly be done, and much good might accrue.
I wish to stress the preponderating importance of this industry to the Commonwealth. During the last seven years, sheep have been responsible for more than 50 per cent, of the total value of the exports from Australia. Last year, they were responsible for no less than 60 per cent., and it is probable that- the percentage will be about the same this year. In the five, years which preceded the war the average annual clip in Australia was 1,920,499 bales, which, on an average, brought into Australia £24,891,769 per annum. The average price was 9½d per lb. During the war years, and- the period when Bawra fortunately had control of the destinies of our wool clip, 7,153,956 bales were dealt with, the average annual clip each year being 1,995,053 bales, and the average annual value, £51,000,000. As honorable senators are aware, the price at which we sold our wool to the British Government was ls. 3½d. a pound, on a greasy basis. By the generosity of the Mother Country, we were allowed to sell upon the open market any of the wool that was not required for military purposes, with the result that the price received by the Australian grower for the 7,000,000 bales handled by Bawra worked out at ls. 7d. a pound. Since the appraisement period, and up to the end of last year, we sold over 20,000,000 bales of wool for a return of £470,000,000. The average clip was 2,137,423 bales, the average annual value £49,535,000, and the average price on a greasy basis ls. 6Jd. a pound. Unfortunately, there has been some decline in the market, and that may be accentuated if the outside competition to which I have referred becomes greater than it is at the present time. So far this year, we have sold 1,000,000 bales, at an average price of 17.13d. a pound, a decline of 1.64d. per pound, which represents a loss to Australia of over £5,000,000. That illustrates the tremendous influence of this industry upon the prosperity of the Commonwealth.
During the last four or five years, wool has been the means of bringing to Australia annually an average of £60,000,000.
Unfortunately there are still some people who decry this, the greatest of our industries.
Yet it is the very backbone of our prosperity, if not of our existence. Very few Australians appear to realize that 80,000 families are dependent upon sheep for their livelihood, and that during the last seven years sheep have been responsible for over 50 per cent, of the total value of our exports. “We must carefully safeguard the keystone of the industry - our stud flocks. It would be a very serious thing for Australia if any more of our great merino stud flocks were dispersed as a result of an unwise policy of taxation by either the Federal or State authorities, or a desire to accelerate closer settlement.
I know of valuable stud merino flocks that have been dispersed because of legislation passed by certain State Governments for the compulsory acquisition of estates. I am strongly in favour of closer settlement and intense culture in cases in which the land can be most suitably used in that way ; but there is a danger that, in our enthusiasm for closer settlement, we may do that which will compel a man to dispose of a stud flock which is of incalculable value to the people of Australia. A large amount of capital, an extensive knowledge, and a large area of suitable country are required to run a stud flock of merino sheep. It is the source from which the small farmer must obtain his supply of stud rams. Therefore, I urge all Governments to think well before they do anything, by way of taxation or compulsory acquisition of land, which will have the effect of crippling our great stud sheep industry.
It is a mistake for a few men to export the best of our stud sheep for what is merely a temporary gain. The question demands serious consideration, and should be reported upon by a committee of members of the Commonwealth Parliament, which could readily obtain outside expert advice and assistance at very little, if any, cost, so that we may safeguard in every way the greatest industry we have in Australia. The Federal Capital Commission for its action in giving out to the world through the press, that the pastoral industry in this territory is in such a serious condition that 7,000 sheep are starving and ought to be depastured on the catchment area of the Federal Capital Territory, should receive the ridicule that it deserves. These sheep should be removed to other areas where feed is plentiful, lest they die in numbers and pollute the city water supply. The world should be informed that the industry in Australia, far from being in a parlous condition, is in a very prosperous state.
[5.3S]. - I do not wish the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) to think that I have treated his remarks discourteously by not replying to the several matters raised by him. I congratulate the mover of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply and also Senator Cooper, to whose interesting speech we listened with great appreciation. I think also that we are indebted to Senator Guthrie for his informative address on the pastoral industry, and I hope that it will receive attention .beyond the confines of the Senate because he packed into his speech much data of value to the country generally.
I have sympathy with the Opposition to-day. Knowing Senator Needham and his- confreres, I realize how painful the silence imposed on them must be. One cannot imagine anything more distressing to those honorable senators than the passing of such a self-denying ordinance as that under which they undertake actually to listen to other people speaking. When I heard of it, I thought that it was beyond the bounds of possibility, but by means of interjections, at any rate, some members of the Opposition intend to have something to say in this chamber.
– We merely wish to help the Ministry to carry on the government of the country.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.- I hope, at any rate, that honorable senators opposite will not observe this self-imposed ordinance so absolutely as to deny themselves even the privilege of interjecting, because if they deprive themselves of the right to criticize and attack the Government as well as forego the right to interject there will probably be serious physical consequences, since we know that nothing is more dangerous than the pre sence of pent-up gases! One can only assume that the Labour party have been having such a voluble time in the constituencies lately that they have talked themselves to a standstill. That may be the reason for their lack of loquacity on this occasion.
The Leader of the Opposition in his brief speech made one or two statements to which I think I should reply. The honorable gentleman elected to deal with one subject of government policy in the speech of the Governor-General in respect of which, above all others he would have been wise to remain silent. I refer to the problem of unemployment. That is the last matter on which he should have had anything to say; but he thought fit to break his self-imposed rule of silence by criticizing the Government’s attitude in respect to it. The honorable senator went back to the policy speech of the Prime Minister at the general election of 1925 and said that Mr. Bruce had then made certain promises about unemployment insurance. Let me point out that Mr. Bruce went before the electors at the last general election and frankly told them what had happened. He said -
The question of unemployment has been receiving the serious consideration of the Government. In my last policy speech I anticipated that the royal commission on national insurance would recommend the institution of a general scheme of insurance against unemployment, and would indicate a practicable basis upon which such a scheme could be established.
That was a perfectly honest statement. The Prime Minister made no secret of it. He went out of his way to point out what he had said at the previous election. He continued -
The report of the commission when received, however, showed that as a result of their investigations they had found it impossible to prepare such a scheme, owing to the absence of reliable statistics and data. They also found it impossible to make an accurate estimate of the cost of such a scheme. In addition, they pointed out that the administration of any scheme of unemployment insurance was impracticable until employment bureaux were established throughout Australia.
The Prime Minister then proceeded to elaborate the subject, and concluded in this way: -
The best and most useful service that . can be rendered to the unemployed worker is to find him a job. The object of the conference with the States is to endeavour to bring this about by a better organization of public employment by utilizing the agencies under the control of the governments. The next step is the establishment of a network of employment bureaux which can organize the distribution of labour for all classes of employment. It is reasonably clear that this function can best be performed by the States, which have a more direct relation to industry by reason of their wider industrial powers, and which also have control of lands, mines and railways. Any system of unemployment insurance to provide for the residuum of unemployed must be administered in close conjunction with the employment bureaux, and it is the view of this Government that this is a function which can most effectively be undertaken by the States.
That is the policy which Mr. Bruce put to the people aud which the electors endorsed by returning him to power again. Senator Needham was most unfortunate in the selection of this subject for discussion. I remind the Senate of the statement made by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) on the same question, as reported at page .15 of the leaflet distributed by the Labour party, entitled, “ Labour Policy for the Commonwealth : Enunciated at Richmond, Victoria, on 4th October, 1928, by J. H. Scullin, M.H.R. (Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party).” He said on that occasion -
Earnest efforts will be made by a Labour Government to grapple with the problem of unemployment. Encouragement and protection will be given to primary and secondary industries. This will apply particularly to industries using raw material produced in Australia. We will co-operate with State governments and other public bodies to regulate public works to the demands of labour. To alleviate the sufferings of the unemployed, early action will be taken to establish a system of unemployment insurance, the fund created to be distributed, as far as practicable, in providing work.
If any unemployed man could gather any crumb of comfort from that vague statement of policy by the Leader of the Labour party- if by the wildest stretch of the imagination he could accept that series of platitudes as a solution of the unemployment problem he would be a blissful optimist. I point out that this statement of policy was made at a meeting of Mr. Scullin’s own constituents, who were, of course, not critical. The meeting at which it was enunciated took place in his own constituency, and his audience was prepared to accept as gospel anything said by the leader or any Other member of the Labour party. But the electors of the country generally are critical. As soon as Mr. Scullin made that statement they examined it and compared it with the policy enunciated by the Prime Minister, and they said, “ We accept the statement of Mr. Bruce.” They declared that the shadowy and vague promises contained in Mr. Scullin’s policy speech did not convince them. ‘ There was a clear statement by Mr. Brace as to how unemployment could be dealt with.
What a hollow mockery it is to say to an unemployed man, as Mr. Scullin did, that he is to be benefited by “ a system of unemployment insurance, the fund created to be distributed, as far as practicable, in providing work “ ? First of all the man out of work wants to know what the amount of the fund will be, and what measure of employment it will provide. I think the honorable member for Yarra said that 100,000 trade unionists were out of work ; at any rate, the number given by him was very large. If those figures were not used by him they were mentioned time and again by honorable senators opposite. Let us accept the statement that there are 100,000 trade unionists out of work, and let us suppose that a fund is to be created to find work for them. I understand that the basic wage would have to be paid for the work. That, I believe, ;s a fixed principle of the Labour party. I do not think that they “would be prepared to agree to the payment of less than the basic wage, which is £4 5s. per week. That would mean that for a total of 100,000 unemployed it would be necessary to provide over £400,000 per week, or well over £20,000,000 a year. How would such a fund be created? The honorable member for Yarra did not enlighten his audience on that point. Would it be raised by taxation ? The honorable member devoted one-fourth of his speech to a denunciation of the Bruce-Page Government for imposing excessive taxation. Probably that is why he did npt suggest that it would be necessary to raise the fund by means of more taxation !
– At one time the party opposite said, “Use the printing press.”
– It may be that they would print the money; but they did not say so. The policy speech of the Labour party was silent on that essential point of how this giant fund was to be created.
The man who is out of work requires something definite. He has no use for vague promises and mere generalities; but alter Messrs. Scullin, Theodore, Blakeley, and Needham had put their heads together and produced Labour’s policy speech,filled with all sorts of glittering promises, all they had to say to that section of their ranks to whom they must particularly appeal - the unemployed workers - was that they intended to do something for them by means of a fund to be created. No wonder the intelligent electors did not accept that policy. No wonder they preferred the more definite and clear statement of policy set out by Mr. Bruce.
– The South Australian electors were intelligent. They accepted Labour’s policy.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that he was returned to this chamber by reason of the Labour policy?
– Yes; the people of South Australia understand it, and the Minister does not.
– The honorable senator will have difficulty in convincing me of the truth of his statement. I have some knowledge of South Australians, and regard them as fairly shrewd people. I am convinced that the question of unemployment insurance did not determine the election result in South Australia. If we were to read the speeches made by Senator Daly during the election campaign we should probably find that 75 per cent. of them dealt with the sins of Mr. Butler, the Premier of South Australia, and 25 per cent. with the virtues of the Labour party. Senator Daly knows that his presence in the Senate is due more to what he told the people of South Australia about Mr.
Butler and his Government than to any references he made to the policy-speech of Mr. Scullin.
I again express to honorable senators opposite my sincere sympathy because of the painful period before them. While honorable senators on this side of the chamber are free from all control, by the Government or any one else, and may criticize the Government where they believe it has done wrong, as Senator Guthrie has just done, honorable senators opposite have to sit and listen. Senator Daly, although an obedient and docile member of the Labour party, found difficulty in obeying instructions. He was not allowed to make a speech; but he could not refrain from making interjections. A speech by the honorable senator would have been worth listening to; but, perforce, he was confined to interjections.
I also congratulate Senator Needham on his fine example of camouflage this afternoon. The honorable senator has always been interesting when he has referred to defence matters. This afternoon, when I looked across the chamber, I could scarcely see him because of the huge pile of Hansard volumes in front of him. I thought that we were to have a kind of resurrection, that things we had said in the past would again be brought to our notice; but I found that it was all an attempt to mislead us. The honorable senator sought to convey the impression that he was going to make a lengthy speech. He knows that on this side of the chamber there are not many honorable senators who speak, without preparation, for half an hour on any subject. . That qualification is peculiar to honorable senators opposite. For the most part, we on this side repair to the library, and with wet towels round our heads seek there information to put before the Senate. I realize, however, that the silence of honorable senators opposite is only temporary. I conclude by expressing the hope that they will not expect honorable senators on this side to observe the silence to which they have voluntarily subjected themselves.
Debate (on motion by Senator Sampson) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 6.57 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 February 1929, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1929/19290207_senate_11_120/>.