11th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Is it a fact that thousands of pounds have been spent to provide golf links in Canberra and to keep them in repair; if bo, will the Government erect swimming baths for the lower-paid servants of the Commonwealth who for financial reasons are unable to take up golf?
Will the Government have the work put in hand immediately?
I am now in . a position to advise the” honorable senator as follows: -
It is a fact that expenditure has been incurred in the provision of golf links in Canberra and on their maintenance. The Federal Capital Commission’s programme of recreational facilities includes the provision of modern swimming baths. The baths will be constructed as soon as money is made available for the’ purpose.
Development and Migration CommissionFifth Interim Report on present position of Tasmania (Internal Transport).
Tasmania Internal Transport Investigation Committee- Summary of report and recommendations prepared by officials of Development and Migration Commission.
Traffic Advisory Committee - Report, dated 2nd April, 1928, on legislation and efforts to obtain co-ordination of transport services in other countries and also in other States of Australia.
The reason for tabling the summary only of the report on Tasmanian Internal Transport is that copies of the complete report have not yet been printed, but will be made available as soon as possible. I move -
That the papers be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I have to inform the Senate that I have received advice from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral that the Senate’s resolution of sympathy in connexion with the illness of His Majesty the King had been duly transmitted to His Majesty, and that the following reply has been received from the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs : -
Your telegram of the. 8th February containing terms of resolution adopted by the Senate hae been laid before Her Majesty the Queen, who is much touched by this expression of sympathy, and desires on behalf of the King that an expression of her grateful appreciation may be conveyed to the President and members of the Senate.
– Pursuant to Standing Order ‘ 28a, I hereby nominate Senators W. L. Duncan, E. Findley, W. Kingsmill and B. Sampson, a panel to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees when requested so to do by the Chairman of Committees or when the Chairman of Committees is absent.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
. An area near Launceston has been selected as boing suitable for use as an aerodrome, after essential surface preparation and drainage. Further investigation of alternative possible areas has been necessitated, however, by: -
At the earliest possible moment, but no definite date can. as yet be stated.
Excise Duty -WineBounty.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as . follow : -
Motion (by Senator McLachlan) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to amend the Excise Act 1901-1923.
Motion (by Senator McLachlan) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to amend the Designs Act 1906-1912.
Motion (by Senator Sir William Glasgow) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill tor an act to amend the Northern Territory Representation Act 1922-1925.
The following papers were presented : -
Development and Migration Commission - Fifth Interim Report on present position of Tasmania (Internal Transport).
Tasmania Internal Transport Investigation Committee - Summary of Report and Recommendations prepared by officials of Development and Migration Commission.
Traffic Advisory Committee - Report, dated 2nd April, 1928, on Legislation and efforts to obtain co-ordination of Transport Services in other Countries and also in other States of Australia.
Ordered to he printed.
Public Service Act - Appointment - AttorneyGeneral’s Department - R. G. Osborne.
New Guinea Act - Ordinance No. 1 of 1929 - Explosives.
Treaty of Peace (Germany) Act - Regulations amended- Statutory Rules 1929, No. 7.
Commonwealth Housing Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1929, No. 11.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act- Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1929, No. 9.
Debate resumed from 8th Feburary (vide page 127), on motion by Senator Cox-
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech be agreed to-
To His Excellency the Governor-General - Mat 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.
– I do not agree with that portion of the report of the British Economic Mission dealing with hanking, in which the introduction of bills to cover credits is suggested. I strongly deprecate any move to revive the old method which was in existence in Australia many years ago. I speak from experience. At one time it waa customary to grant bills covering a period of four months. It then frequently happened that, by the time a customer met one hill he had got considerably further into debt. The mercantile community, realizing that in such circumstances many firms stood the risk of losing large sums of money, introduced a system of short-term settlements - usually for a period of one month. That gave a customer two months’ credit. As that system is giving satisfaction, we should not make any attempt to revert to the old pernicious system of long credits.
I am pleased that Australia has endorsed the Kellogg Pact; hut, like other honorable senators, I am somewhat suspicious of the sincerity of the United States in this matter, seeing that that country is clamouring for the construction of a greater number of cruisers than many of us think she requires. The motive underlying the clamour is to prevent Great Britain, in the event of war, from challenging neutrals as in the past. This matter is of vital importance to the British Empire. I cannot conceive of Britain relinquishing its right to search vessels belonging to neutral nations in time of war. Great Britain may or may not continue to build cruisers, but. the United States of America undoubtedly will do so. In course of time an acute position might arise ; but that time is not yet. Throughout the United States of America there is an undercurrent of antagonism to Great Britain, due largely to the mixed population of that country. The feeling of antagonism is being exploited by many newspapers. Thirty or 40 years ago probably 70 per cent, of the population of the United States of America was of Anglo-Saxon extraction; to-day, it is probably not more than 15 per cent. As a result of my visit to California, I formed the impression that the people there who are of British descent are still for the most part pro-British, but that among the majority of those who are of alien descent there is antagonism to the British Empire.
I congratulate the Government on having practically completed its five-year defence programme. “With other members of the delegation, I had the privilege of inspecting the cruiser Canberra at Portsmonth. The vessel is one of which Australia has. reason to be proud. I was also pleased to receive an invitation to inspect the world’s greatest battle cruiser, the Nelson. The members of the delegation left that vessel convinced that the British navy is thoroughly up-to-date. We were also shown over the Victory
Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar. We thus had an opportunity to compare a warship in use 100 years ago with those of to-day.
I sympathize with the InspectorGeneral of the Military Forces in having again to complain of lack of funds. In this connexion the Government is in a difficult position, for it is unthinkable, in view of the Kellogg Pact and other demonstrations in the direction of peace, that this country should launch out into heavy expenditure for defence purposes. I think that, in the circumstances, the report of the Inspector-General of Military Forces sounds an appreciable note of achievement. I notice that Lieutenant-General Sir H. G. Chauvel contemplates converting our mounted infantry to cavalry. That proposed innovation rather surprises me because, while I well know that the weakness of mounted infantry is that it can place only a 75 per cent, effective strength in the firing line, I consider that the difficulty, with such a force as ours, in obtaining the precision that is requisite with cavalry, constitutes a serious drawback. Again, so much mechanization of the army is now being introduced, resulting in a reduced personnel, that I should prefer our Director-General to give more attention to this phase of the matter.
My district, which is an important one, and includes the central city of Rockhampton, labours under the disadvantage of not having even one rifle range, and I regret that the Minister has again had to inform me that no funds will be available for some time for this purpose.
The Inspector-General of Military Forces refers to the problem of supplying horses for the service. That is purely an economical matter. Nowadays it does not pay to breed horses for our own use, much less for remount purposes in India and Japan. It has been suggested that the Government should subsidize the industry with a view to encouraging the breeding of suitable horses. I do not consider such a step to be sound, unless a satisfactory tax is imposed upon stallions to induce breeders to begin with the right class of horse. I am afraid that, for some time to come, the breeding of satisfactory remounts in Australia will be unsound economically.
The phases of the report with which I have dealt are confined to land defence. I consider that the Ministry will be well advised to make the best use of the money available for that purpose, but that it should concentrate its energies particularly upon the encouragement of aviation, civil and military. While in California I was granted and took advantage of an opportunity to see what was being done there in regard to aviation. The Oakland aerodrome is claimed to be one of the finest in the world, and I was particularly impressed with its arrangements for chronicling meteorological conditions. Meteorological reports are received every quarter of an hour, and are at once distributed around the country. Another feature which impressed me was the extensive use of night lighting, to encourage and facilitate night flying. The night lights at the Oakland aerodrome may be seen from any vantage point in the locality. The result is that night flying is extensively indulged in, with comparative safety. Australia is far behind in this matter. Civil aviation has assumed very considerable dimensions in the United States of America. I am not sure whether it is subsidized by the Government, but it has made remarkable progress, and the companies promoting- the services are doing well. There are regular passenger and mail aeroplane services between all the principal cities cif that country. I watched several such planes arriving, each carrying from twelve to fifteen passengers. I am aware that, in Australia, we are handicapped financially, but we are moving in the right direction. I hope that, in the immediate future, every effort will be made to increase our activities in this direction.
I am disappointed that the report of the Constitutional Royal Commission is not yet before us. There has been considerable delay in presenting it, and I do not know to whom the fault is attributable, but I urge the Government to expedite its presentation. I come from Central Queensland, and many electors there manifest a considerable interest in any proposal to subdivide the existing States; therefore, I am anxious to make the contents of the report in this respect available to my constituents.
– The Commissioners have been long enough over the job.
– I understand that, for the past few months, the Commission has not been called together.
– Is there any assurance that we shall receive a report?
Senator- THOMPSON. - I think that there is. In passing, I should like to mention that a good deal of misapprehension exists in Canada regarding our Constitution. Time and again Canadian speakers claimed that Australia was indebted to Canada for its Constitution. As honorable senators are aware, that is not the case. Our Constitution is based on that of the United States of America, and is entirely different from that of Canada. At one time I thought that we were the gainers by that, but since my visit to Canada I have seriously reconsidered that opinion, because, apart from the disability that Canada has, under the BritishNorth America Act, to pass constitutional alterations through the British Parliament, its Constitution is infinitely more favorable than ours. Each of its provinces has set powers prescribed by the Constitution, the residue being in the hands of the Federal Parliament. It is the reverse with us. The powers of the Federal authority are expressly set out in the Constitution, the residue being held by the States. There have been numerous instances of the disabilities which exist under that system, and many of us long for similar conditions to those enjoyed by Canada.
– I do not agree with the honorable senator. Just fancy Western Australia being governed from this centre.
– I know that Queensland particularly lends itself to subdivision. I am pleased that the proposals of the Government with respect to New South Wales colleries were not proceeded with. As a Queensland representative and one interested in the coal industry of that State, I should have felt impelled to ask the Government to extend to the Queensland industry the bounty of ls. per ton that it proposed, according to press reports, to grant only to New South Wales.
– That grant was to apply to all Australian coal exported, not merely to coal exported from New South Wales.
– I am glad to hear that.
– Can the honorable senator explain why the State-controlled coal mines in Queensland are unable to compete successfully for the supply of coal to South Australia ?
– Chiefly because sea transport costs are prohibitive.
– Is not the cost of production also prohibitive?
– That has some bearing on the matter, but the coal mines of Central Queensland are producing coal at the pit’s mouth cheaper than those of any other state of Australia. Unfortunately, handling and freight charges militate against successful export. The rate for railway carriage from the mine to the coast is a very favorable one; but the cos,.t of sea carriage between Queensland and southern ports is prohibitive. I hope that wise counsels will prevail in the ranks of those who are concerned in the trouble in the coal and timber industries. It would appear that an attack is being made upon the principle of arbitration. I have never held a brief for arbitration as a means of settling industrial disputes. That can be vouched for by those who have followed my career, both private and public. But arbitration is at present the law of the land, and therefore must be observed by both sides in industry. I trust that the Government will act firmly, and see that the law is upheld. I make the following pertinent quotation from page 64 of the work of Sir Henry Maine, Popular Government, published in 1885 :-
If any government should be tempted to neglect, even for a moment, its functions of compelling obedience to law - if a democracy, for example, were to allow a portion of the multitude of which it consists to set at defiance some law which it happens to dislike, it would be guilty of a crime which hardly any virtue would redeem, and which century after century might fail to repair.
– An Arbitration Court award is not of itself a law, although it is made under the law.
– I decline to be drawn aside to discuss that aspect.
A great deal of cotton is being grown in Central Queensland at the present time. According to the report of the British Australian Cottongrowers’ Association for the year ended the 30th September, 1928, there was a gratifying increase in the quantity produced in Queensland last year, the figures being 12,221,525 lb. compared with 7,059,828 lb. in the previous year. That is a hopeful sign, because it indicates that the knowledge of the farmers is becoming greater, and that the industry is being placed upon a sounder basis.
– Why is it difficult to market the cotton in Australia?
– The manufacturers are not able to use all that is produced, and the surplus is being shipped abroad. So long as the price obtained is a satisfactory one, the Liverpool market will suit the growers just as well as the local market. The Tariff Board has under consideration certain aspects of the matter, and I trust that as a result the industry will be further encouraged to expand.
The question of migration was brought frequently to the notice of the parliamentary delegation that recently visited Canada. One member of the British delegation vigorously attacked the position taken up in Australia. He said it was criminal of us to have such big empty spaces and not to evince a desire to fill them. Such a statement of our position could not be, and was not, accepted by, us. We replied that Australia was quite prepared to take all the migrants that the Mother Country cared to send, up to the limit of our powers of absorption. At the last meeting which we held I pointed out that on the one hand the Mother Country appeared to have reached the peak of her population capacity, and that on the other hand many of the dominions required a greater population than they had. I expressed the opinion that the best way to overcome the difficulty was for the Mother Country to transfer to the dominions members of her intelligentsia - commercial men with capital; engineers, manufacturers and others who would be likely .to prove successful. I said that such persons would not require us to make any special efforts on their behalf, because they would have the necessary capital to establish themselves. If the matter were handled along these lines, the difficulty which is caused by the population in Great Britain having reached its peak and that of the the dominions being smaller, than is required, would be overcome.
The observations that I was able to make in California convinced me that the United States of America are able to enforce any tariff they care to impose. The reason is that they have the necessary population and are entirely self-contained. Australia does not occupy such a happy position ; therefore, in my opinion, it should adopt a moderate protective policy. I hope that that will tfe the objective of the Government during the present session. In the past there have been occasions when duties on too high a scale have been imposed.
While in California I was particularly struck with the irrigation scheme that is in operation in that State. It is probably the best of . its kind in the world. Although there had not been a drop of rain for several months, the whole country was prosperous and progressive; the crops were growing well, and droughts did not hold up the primary industries as, unfortunately, they do in Australia. They have a wonderful system of marketing, which enables the crops to be disposed of at regular intervals, thus ensuring a maximum output and reasonably good prices throughout the year.
I also had the opportunity to attend a number of moving picture theatres and to note the development that had been caused by the “ talkies “. The production of this class of film has been brought almost to a state of perfection. It is difficult to say what the effect upon the industry generally will be. I discussed the matter with a very intelligent American on the journey from Los Angeles to San Francisco. He agreed that the “ talkies “ had come to stay. I sought his opinion as to the likely effect upon the industry. He replied, “ We shall probably have to engage English artists in the future.” He realized that the English language as it is spoken in America - the American accent - would not prove acceptable in many of the Englishspeaking dominions. I expressed agreement with him. I saw and heard some of the “ talkies,” and I should be very sorry if they were reproduced in this country, because they would not have an educative influence upon our young people. I believe that this latest development will restore the legitimate drama to its rightful place. The only factor against that is the cheapness of the entertainment which is provided by the moving -pictures. If the price of admission were about the same, there is no doubt that the legitimate drama would prove the more attractive.
– The “ talkies “ open up interesting possibilities in connexion with election campaigns.
– They certainly do. As an illustration of the thoroughness of the Americans I may mention that before I left San Francisco, schools of instruction were being commenced in the colleges of Hollywood and the Los Angeles district for the training of the principal artists in enunciation, pronunciation and other matters, to enable them to meet the altered conditions brought about by the “ talkies “.
Until an improvement is brought about, I should not like some of the “talkies” that I saw there to be reproduced here.
I am pleased indeed that the Government has indicated its desire to hold the Parliamentary sessions at regular periods. I understand that we are to rise before Easter and resume probably some time in July, and that an arrangement something on those lines is to be carried out regularly. This will be of great convenience to honorable senators, because it will assist us in making our plans, and enable us to devote our attention to the work of Parliament in the best interests of the country.
.- The debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply presents rather unusual features. I am impressed in the first place, by the rather painful elocutionary hunger strike in which hon orable senators opposite are engaged. Hunger strikes in any circumstances must be extremely painful to those participating in them. Our friends on the Labour benches, ever since I have been a member of this Parliament, have been most ready to place before the Senate, and through it the people of Australia, the views of those whom they claim to represent, and they must find this selfimposed silence most distressing. I extend to them my heartfelt sympathy.
– Shall we not suffer for it later on?
– We may; but I hope that honorable senators opposite will not maintain the restraint for too long a period. I should like to know what they think of the Government’s proposals, as set out in the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General. Certainly the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Needham, has briefly addressed the Senate; but the silence of honorable senators behind him has robbed the debate of a good deal of interest that would otherwise attach to it.
I congratulate Senator Cooper, who, in his maiden speech in this chamber, seconded the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. His speech was a particularly able one in the circumstances. I know from my own experience that it is rather trying for an honorable senator to address this chamber for the first time, because he feels that he is speaking to not only the members of the Senate, but also to a far greater audience - the people as a whole. From that experience he has emerged with considerable success, and I look forward with interest to his future contributions, because the calm and thoughtful way in 1 which he addressed himself to the motion before the chamber leads one to expect that his remarks will always be both illuminating and interesting, and certainly a credit to the Senate and the State that he represents.
Passing on to the hurried observations of Senator Needham, in which he expressed withering contempt for the statements contained in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, and certain aspects of the matters mentioned in it, I recall that he characterized the Speech as both vague and futile.
– A rather damning indictment.
– Yes. The honorable senator may regard the Speech as being vague and futile. I agree with him that in certain respects it is vague, because the Government evidently has not arrived at conclusions regarding many features of its policy. The proposals are tentative, principally with the object of securing further consideration of them. Therefore, what the Government has to say is to a certain extent vague, but I cannot agree that there is anything approaching futility of the Speech. What there is of it is satisfactory. I share the view expressed by Senator Needham, who said he was more concerned about what the Speech did not contain than what was to be found in it.
There are other matters of which I should like to have seen mention. I should have liked the Government at this early stage in the history of this new Parliament to express its willingness and readiness to give immediate and thorough attention to many problems that are confronting Australia. I realize that the present session is intended to be a short one, and that there will not be time to give full consideration, from a legislative point of view, to many of the problems that demand attention and solution ; but there might have been reference to them in the Speech in greater detail than the Government has seen fit to give.
It is claimed by Senator Needham that national insurance, which was promised by the Prime Minister, has not been consummated. That is so, but the” Government has done a good deal in regard to the matter. At a very early stage after < the assembling of the last Parliament, the whole subject was referred to a royal commission, and this body found it so absorbing, and demanding such careful investigation, that only after lengthy consideration was it able to make a report to Parliament. Evidently, the Government did not consider the report satisfactory. The matter is now to be referred, so we are informed in the Speech, to the Premiers’ Conference, which, it is contemplated, will be summoned in the near future. I know that a promise was given by the Nationalist party and the Prime Minister during the election campaign of 1925 that some form of national insurance would be brought forward in this Parliament, and would be carried into effect. I supported the proposal, but I desire to say now that I am not too sure that I did a wise and proper thing in adopting that attitude. I found, particularly during the last election, when the people - and particularly those directly interested in any form of national insurance - had had more time to give serious consideration to the subject than they had had at the preceding election, that they had gone rather cold upon it. I am confident that, so far as New South Wales is concerned, this proposal of the Government did the Ministerial party and its supporters an infinite amount of harm during the last election campaign. When I say that no enthusiasm for national insurance was exhibited by any one I am putting the case very mildly. The friendly societies are at least critical of the whole position, and the insurance companies, those great, powerful and influential organizations whose ramifications extend from one end of Australia to the other, are opposed to the scheme, affecting as it would the daily life of almost every individual in the Commonwealth. The trade unions are not concerned about the matter, and the ordinary working man you meet in the street who, more than any one else, might be expected to benefit under a system of national insurance is afraid that a contributory scheme as suggested by the Commonwealth Government would not give him something for nothing, but something for which he would have to pay; and unfortunately that is not what our people have been led to expect. Honorable senators opposite are in the very happy position that they can promise the earth without feeling that they are likely to be called upon to “deliver the goods “. Seeing that they are almost devoid of responsibility they can advocate a form of national insurance without contributions from the employee, but the Government cannot make any such promise. The employees are just about as stone cold on the Government’s proposal as any one else. The feeling of the employers in New South Wales is well known to me.
They point out that if we have a contributory scheme of national insurance, under which each employee is forced to contribute a percentage of his wages each week or each month, very soon the employees will approach the Arbitration Court or some other tribunal responsible for assessing the cost of living, and these contributions will then be added to the cost of living, and in turn added to the weekly wage.
– There is a tremendous number of voluntary schemes which would be taken over by the Commonwealth scheme.
– Yes, but those schemes are not taken into consideration to any appreciable extent in estimating the cost of living. If employees in an industry are forced to contribute 6d. or ls. a week to a Commonwealth scheme, and the amount so contributed is taken into consideration when an Arbitration Court or a wages board is assessing the cost of living, the minimum wage will be increased to that extent so that in the end the employer will bear the whole cost. That is a form of contributory national insurance which the public do not welcome. They feel that there are already sufficient burdens on industry.; they do not welcome any addition to the difficulties with which industry is now beset. Employers generally, and all people of thoughtful mind fail to see that there is any justification for still further adding to the burdens of industry and to the cost of production, making it more difficult for those engaged in industries in Australia to compete successfully with those engaged in similar industries in other countries.
The Government’s national insurance scheme will, therefore, need very earnest and serious consideration, and that consideration will not have to be confined to the forthcoming Premiers’ Conference, to which, we are told, the whole matter is to be referred. Of course, the State Premiers, as is the case with most of these schemes, are quite in favour of such a proposal provided some one else carries the burden. We have a parallel in the matter referred to by Senator Needham. The honorable senator taxed the Government with not having done anything in the case of child hood endowment. We know that when Mr. Lang was Leader of the Labour Government in New South Wales, he was very much in favour of a childhood endowment scheme, but he wanted the Commonwealth to embark upon it. The Acting Leader of the Labour Government in Queensland at the time the proposal was first put before a Premiers’ Conference was not anxious that the Commonwealth Parliament should tackle the problem immediately. That is one of the reasons why nothing has been done in the matter,’ and it is a complete answer to Senator Needham’s charge that the Government has failed to carry out a pledge. The only pledge that the Government gave was that there would be an inquiry into the whole position. The matter was referred to a Premiers’ conference at which, on the motion of the Acting Leader of the Labour Government in Queensland, it was deferred for further’ investigation ami report. Apparently, the representative of the Queensland Government realized that a childhood endowment scheme was not something that could be brought into existence, in a piecemeal way, without proper investigation. He had already seen what had happened in New South Wales under the half-baked scheme introduced by Lang and company, and apparently he realized that if an additional burden was placed on industry, there was very grave danger of many of our industries being unable to square the ledger, if, indeed, they did not go under altogether. Considerably wiser than Mr. Lang, he therefore moved that the whole question be referred to a royal commission for investigation and report, and that is why no childhood endowment scheme has been brought forward by the Commonwealth Government. The Prime Minister has broken no pledge. All that he pledged his Government to do was to give the matter most serious consideration. I have not yet seen the report of the royal commission, but when it is available it will be time enough for us to consider what can be done in the matter of childhood endowment. It may be possible to do something on the lines of a childhood endowment scheme for the whole of Australia, but as far as a national insurance scheme is concerned, I advise the
Government to walk warily. It will have to show the Parliament clearly that a national insurance scheme is not only feasible but also sound before it can secure the assent of a majority of honorable members to its proposal. If the scheme is likely to cost more than we can afford any attempt to force it through Parliament and on the country will be farcical.
Senator Needham has also said that there is no reference in the Speech to Unemployment insurance. I am pleased at the omission. We are already saddled with enough without rushing into any general scheme of unemployment insurance in the absence of proper investigation and report.
– We have had the investigation.
– We have not had it. When this matter was “inquired into, the Government was informed by its statistical advisers that in this country there were no definite statistics in regard to unemployment upon which it would be possible to base an unemployment insurance scheme, even if it were deemed wise and practicable to have such a scheme. I understand that the Government proposes to make certain alterations in the Statistician’s Department to enable proper statistics relating to unemployment to be gathered in a regular way. It may then be possible to ascertain the real degree of unemployment in Australia. To my mind, there is no greater evil in any community than that of unemployment. Unless we can find some solution of the problem, unemployment threatens to be something that will overcome all of us quite irrespective of party. It breeds revolution and trouble of all kinds. Unfortunately, we have in Australia a very high degree of unemployment. That is a most serious menace. It is one of the most serious troubles confronting ail Parliaments both Commonwealth and States, in this country.
– Does the honorable senator, agree with Mr. Scullin’s statement that higher customs duties would do away with unemployment?
– I agree with Mr. Scullin that increased duties would have the effect of enabling many industries to extend their operations, which they are not in a position to d6 to-day, and that the extensions thus brought about would absorb quite a number of the unemployed. But unfortunately a bigger scheme than the mere raising of customs duties is necessary to avoid unemployment entirely. .1 am pleased to learn that the Government proposes to hold an inquiry that will enable us first of all to fix the degree of unemployment and then the reasons for it. When we get this information it will be time enough to discuss remedies for the evil.
The Development and Migration Commission has given consideration to this matter. It has furnished a very valuable report containing a number of sensible suggestions which, if carried out, would do something to mitigate the evil of unemployment. But the whole question must be tackled; because, as I have already said, if we do not get it down,” it will get us down. In this great country of ours where we are prepared to tackle many developmental propositions involving the expenditure of millions of pounds, surely if we tackle the unemployment trouble in a proper way it ought to be possible to evolve some scheme by which, if we cannot entirely remove the evil, we may at least mitigate it. I know that there are’ people for whom it is impossible to find employment because they are unemployable or do not want work, but, generally speaking, the man who is out of work wants work and it ought to be possible for us to find employment for him not only for his own sake, but also for the sake of his wife and family and for the good of the country at large.
There are people who feel that we ought to launch out on a big scheme of migration. They talk about peopling our unsettled and empty spaces. Senator Thompson, in his speech, referred to the remarks of a member of the Empire Parliamentary Delegation to Canada about our huge unpeopled areas that need population. But while we have an unemployment problem in Australia no Government would be justified in launching out on a big migration scheme. I do not believe the present Government has any proposition of that character in its mind. We are not ready for it. The British
Economic Mission went into the matter in a more or less thorough way in the very limited time during which it was in Australia, and its declaration was that under present conditions in Australia there is no room for any very considerable stream of migration. That is true.
– Does not the honorable senator think that under-population causes unemployment ?
– Of course it may do so, but on the other hand overpopulation, according to the opportunities we have to offer those who come here is the cause of considerably more unemployment. We have in Australia room for many more millions of people, but I am not foolish enough to believe that we have room here for unlimited numbers. I have heard people say that Australia could absorb and maintain 100,000,000 inhabitants. I do not believe it. I know this continent very well; I have travelled over most of it. I make due allowance for the possibilities of the application of science to industry - for inventions by which it may be possible to bring into profitable occupation many areas that to-day we regard as almost entirely useless - but under present conditions I believe that this country would 6e very fully populated if we had 40,000,000 people, and it will take us a great number of years to reach 20,000,000. We cannot afford to rush this problem; if we do it may lead to greater trouble, and I think the Government will be wise to pay very serious heed to the warning words of the Economic Mission. If what the mission says is true - and I believe that it is - we are not justified in incurring any considerable expense to obtain migrants. Bather should we strive to maintain a steady stream of young men and women with sufficient capital to establish themselves satisfactorily in this country. Any one who at this juncture advocates bringing millions of Britain’s unemployed to this country is an enemy of Australia. I am glad that the Prime Minister has refused to have anything to do with such a scheme.
– How is it that there was less unemployment in this country when the tide of migration waa greatest ?
– At that time conditions in Australia were peculiarly suited to the absorption of migrants. Fresh gold discoveries had just been made and land was easily obtainable. Those conditions do not exist to-day. We hear a great deal about our unpeopled lands, but where are they ? It is true that in Western Australia and Queensland land may still be obtained ; but where in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia or Tasmania is land available? For every block thrown open in New South Wales there are hundreds of applicants. Australians with farming experience have tried for years to get land, but without success. Yet there are people who talk of offering farms to migrants. We have no farms to offer to them. If we induce men to come to Australia in the belief that they will be able to start as farmers, we are bringing them here under- false pretences; and they should be entitled to recover damages for misrepresentation.
The Governor-General’s Speech contains the information that the Government proposes to introduce this session .legislation to deal with six matters, namely, the financial agreement with the States, the establishment of a Commonwealth Bureau of Economic Research, the amendment of the Tariff Act, the regulations made under the Transport Workers’ Act, the establishment of a War Pensions Appeal Board, and of a Wine Export Board. The Government has almost developed a mania for the creation of boards and commissions.
– That state of affairs is not peculiar to Australia.
– There seems to be a tendency for governments everywhere to throw upon others responsibilities which they themselves should assume. Two bills are to be introduced to create new boards; one will establish a bureau, which is merely another board, and one will affect a board already in existence. Only two matters of policy involving legislation in which the people generally are interested - I refer to the Financial Agreement and the regulations made under the Transport Workers’ Act - are to come before us; and they are matters which the Senate has already dealt with to some extent. Honorable senators know what the financial agreement is, and most of them expressed their views regarding the Transport Workers’ Act when the measure was before this chamber. There is really very little that is new in the legislative proposals of the Government for the session.
Two other matters are receiving’ the consideration of the Government - the granting of financial assistance to certain States and the recommendations of Air Chief Marshal Sir John Salmond on air defence. At this stage honorable senators do not know whether legislation will be brought forward during this session to deal with those matters; but in view of the feeling among the people regarding the granting of assistance to Western Australia and Tasmania, the Government will probably not delay in introducing legislation along those lines.
– What about South Australia ?
– South Australia may need some special consideration.
– Queensland’s claims for assistance should not be overlooked.
– With the exception of New South Wales and Victoria, all the States have already received or are asking for special consideration. In the case of New South Wales and Victoria successive Governments have merely asked “How much have we to pay?” Those States have, up to the present, met the demands made upon them without much complaint because of their sincere love for Australia. The Honorary Minister (Senator Ogden) laughs ; but I remind him that of every £109 granted by the Commonwealth to assist necessitous States, £50 comes from the taxpayers of New South Wales. When bills to grant assistance to necessitous States are before us I shall watch them closely. The people of New South Wales are beginning to wonder whether federation has been that great blessing that some people describe it.
– New South Wales and Victoria cannot complain of their position under federation.
– Their position would have been as good without federation. I emphasize that they cannot go on paying indefinitely. We must assist all the States* to become independent of financial assistance from the Government ; otherwise any Government which advocates the granting of assistance to them will become unpopular in the larger States. The people of New South Wales are looking for a reduction of taxation; but so long as financial assistance is granted so lavishly to the smaller States a reduction is impossible. I realize that the Commonwealth must assist the States, for should any of them become insolvent the Commonwealth would have to assume the responsibility for their debts, but I remind honorable senators that there is a limit beyond which we should not go. The results of the last election in New South Wales show that the people of that State are getting tired of a system of government by which they are called upon to pay more than they would have had to pay without federation. I say that New South Wales is Tasmania’s best market. If the Sydney market were closed to Tasmania’s produce, Tasmania would practically go out of business to-morrow.
The Government proposes to refer seven matters to conferences between the Commonwealth and the States. Included among them is the question of sea transport, a matter of serious moment to Australia. The decline of the Australian shipping services is of the utmost importance to this country. It is to be hoped that the conference will not comprise merely those who represent overseas shipping companies and Australian interests directly concerned in oversea trades. The interests of the people as a whole should be safeguarded.
They should be represented at the conference either by Ministers or other representatives appointed by the Government to watch their interests. The following matters are also to be referred to the next Premiers’ Conference: Transport, social legislation, unemployment, national health, the development of our power resources, and national insurance. Those are very important subjects, but unfortunately, will not come to this Parliament for attention this session. I protest against this sort of ultra legislative body being grafted upon the Commonwealth Constitution. I understood that this Parliament was brought into existence by the people of Australia to consider all such important matters. Occasionally, Premiers’ Conferences have debated matters which are quite outside the relationship of the State and Federal Parliaments, and which come strictly within the purview of the Commonwealth Parliament alone.
– Does the honorable senator know of any subject upon which a Premiers’ Conference has agreed ?
– I know that, as a general practice, they invariably agree that the Commonwealth should pay the bill. Any one of the subjects that I have enumerated is big enough to occupy the attention of a Premiers’ Conference, and I fail to see how so many important problems can be dealt with by a conference which lasts only a few days. The problem of the development of our power resources is not, in its initial stage, one for consideration by a Premiers’ Conference, It should first be referred to our highest qualified technical engineers, who should formulate plans. Those plans would be suitable subjects for discussion at a Premiers’ Conference and later could be given effect to in the different States. These conferences are composed of representatives from each State, and therefore usually embrace members of all parties. When considering the representation of the Commonwealth it would be a graceful and wise act on the part of the Government to include the Leader of the Opposition.
– The proceedings would not get very far.
– That is problematical. Such a practice would certainly have the advantage of removing many misunderstandings that at present exist, and would make for easier and wiser handling of many problems. The object of these conferences is to arrive at a common basis of understanding upon which legislation may be passed.
– I thought that the honorable senator was against such conferences.
– They will be held irrespective of what I say, and my suggestion is sound and would be well worth trying. Legislation based upon the recommendations made by Premiers’ Conferences has to run the gauntlet of representatives of both houses, and if all parties were represented at the conferences and therefore conversant with the reasons underlying the decisions arrived at, there would be a clearer understanding upon those determinations when they came up for discussion in this Parliament. The wider the understanding we have of such subjects the better for all. The Opposition has a recognized place in Parliamentary practice and constitutional history, and is entitled to some consideration when conferences are held between the States and the Commonwealth. I bring the suggestion forward for the consideration of the Government.
There should be another object for such conferences, apart from those which I have enumerated, and that is to co-ordinate a policy for the general development of the country. One matter to be referred to the next conference ‘ is the development of our resources. How can the present degree of our development be measured?-‘ In the Sydney Bulletin last week there appeared some very interesting and illuminating figures on this subject. Unfortunately, they are not as satisfactory as they are illuminating. They deal with our great industries and the principal occupations of our people in and outside of those industries. Our great primary industries - agriculture, pastoral, dairying, and mining - are enumerated, while manufactures, which practically groups the whole of our secondary industries, are also dealt with. The following tabulation will prove interesting to honorable senators : -
Honorable senators will see that while the number of persons engaged in manufactures has increased satisfactorily, the number engaged in our primary industries has decreased alarmingly. Further,” they will notice that the number of those who are not engaged in any of the industries enumerated, but who are deemed by some to be living upon such industries, has steadily increased. That is a most deplorable position. Consideration of those figures makes it evident that, in the language so often employed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), we are not evolving a wellordered plan of development. Our manufacturing industries, it is true, are with a few exceptions progressing by leaps and bounds; but many of our great primary industries are declining. Senator Lynch wishes to know the reason for the decline. Some persons claim that it is caused by the rapid growth of our manufacturing industries. From the social point of view a great deal may perhaps be said in support of such an assertion. Man is a social animal, and is becoming more so as time goes on. The advance of science, the progress of invention, the development of the social sense that has followed a general uplift of the conditions of the masses, brought about by higher wages and a shortening of the hours of labour, and the extension and cheapening of pleasure, all tend to make city life particularly attractive. Country life, also, of course, has improved, but not nearly to the same extent. Consequently there has been a rush of population to the cities.
– Which is most unfortunate in a young country.
– I agree that it is most unfortunate; but how are we to stop it? Certainly not by action designed to lower the conditions of city life. Bather must we increase in every way the facilities and attractions of country life. It is not my intention to embark upon a consideration of how that is to be achieved. The ‘Government has extended the telephonic services ; it has commenced a vigorous policy of road construction, and in many other ways, it has endeavoured to improve the conditions of country life and add to its attractiveness, thus increasing its social advantages and helping the country to retain its population. But is there any basis economically for the assertion that the advance of our manufacturing industries reacts prejudicially upon our primary industries? The encouragement that is given to the former may for a time involve the latter in increased costs. The point has frequently been stressed by Senator Lynch, and it is sufficiently serious to compel our attention; but against it can be set the substantial advantages that are derivable from a home market, which in very many instances returns to the grower a better price than he can obtain overseas. I instance the primary products sugar, butter and maize, in the case of each of which the advantages of the home market are simply enormous. If the growers of those products were obliged to sell in the markets of the world the whole of their production, or even a considerably augmented proportion of it, they would not be able to carry on as they are doing today. As a result of what is known as the Paterson stabilization scheme, it has been possible to regulate the local butter market in such a way as to permit of the sale of the exportable surplus in Great Britain at a price considerably lower than that which is obtained in Australia. There is practically no exportable surplus of sugar; but whenever any is exported the price obtained for it is nothing like that which is realized on the Australian market. Senator Thompson will bear out that statement.
– The sugar growers bear the loss.
– What would be their position if they had not the local market? It is that which is enabling them to do so well. The local market is the only avenue open to those who produce potatoes, rice, bananas, and hops, and they realize fully the great advantage it is to them.
– A population of 6,000,000 persons provides a rather limited market.
– That is so. That is an argument not against the local market, but rather in favour of building up in every possible way that which gives a degree of stability to many of our primary industries. Supplies to the home market can be regulated, and prices fixed so as to ensure a fair return to the growers. But what is the position with the market overseas ? We have spent a fairly considerable sum in an endeavor to find overseas a market for the exportable surplus of many of our primary products, and it has frequently been our experience that those we have found have not been of much advantage to us, because we have had to compete with other countries which produce the same class of goods, very often better than those which we produce. Thus they have obtained fancy prices, and we have had to accept the tag end of the market. Our reputation in many cases has not been all that it should be. A realisation of the facts that I have placed before the Senate must lead to the conclusion that the advance of our manufacturing industries, instead of being prejudicial is actually of immense advantage to our primary producers. There is the additional advantage that our great secondary industries are able to supply quickly, and at a reasonable cost, the growing needs of our primary producers, who otherwise would be dependent upon overseas countries for many of the things that are absolutely necessary to their business.
– But at fancy prices.
– Not generally. I could give numbers of instances in which the establishment of manufacturing industries in Australia has led to prices being considerably lowered. I admit that, at the initial stage, some industries must be given an effective measure of protection, and possibly at the commencement of their operations it is not possible for them to produce at as low a rate as that at which similar goods can be imported. That phase, however, passes when the industry becomes established. Considering the cost of production, and the restrictions that have been placed upon industry generally by both the State and Commonwealth authorities, I do not think it can be said, that Australian manufacturers charge more than a fair price; on the contrary the primary producers and other consumers of Australian manufactured goods are obtaining their supplies at a reasonable rate. They at least have the satisfaction of knowing that the workers who are engaged in those industries are paid decent wages and work reasonable hours. The British Economic Mission, in its report, speaks of a well-balanced development, and is opposed to a protective policy as a means to achieve that end. But the members of that mission cannot and do not suggest anything better.
– They suggest calling a halt for a start.
– Naturally so. Where do they come from ? Who are they? They are the representatives of British manufacturing interests. They want a market overseas, and must have it. Of course if they could place their goodson this market without the payment of duty at all it would suit them to do so. I do not think that any country has had a better “spin” from another than Great
Britain has had from Australia in the matter of tariff preference. We have given the Mother Country a fair deal, but now the “Big Four” tells us that the time has come for us to call a halt in our protective policy. They suggest that we should not continue in our efforts to build up and foster Australian industries.
– They do not say that.
– That is in effect what they say. In Great Britain and other countries, where the costs of production are constantly falling, if they are not already at the lowest possible ebb, manufacturers are able to produce at a far lower cost than in Australia, where the workmen enjoy decent conditions. We have therefore erected a tariff barrier against manufacturers overseas with the one object of equalizing the conditions. Now the Economic Mission tells us in effect, that it is wrong for us to protect Australian industries in this way. In spite of the mission and its recommendations, Australia will go on as it has proceeded for years, maintaining its well-established policy of giving first consideration to Australian industry in all matters, after which it is prepared to give consideration to British industry. We now allow Great Britain a preference worth many millions of pounds a year as against foreign competitors who export their goods to Australia.
The chief factor operating against country development is the high cost and very often it is the initial cost.
– What is the cause of that cost?
– The honorable senator has just returned from a visit to Canada. Some of his fellow members of the delegation state that Canada pays higher wages than Australia, the rates for harvesting and general farm work being double there. The lack of rural development here, therefore, is not due to wages costs. Nor is it attributable to the cost of machinery and commodities of that kind. The man who desires to engage in primary production to-day finds that the stumbling block is the initial cost of the land required by him. Senator Lynch. - Here in Australia ?
– Yes. Of course, land can be purchased at a reasonable price in certain parts of Western Australia and Queensland, but in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia blocks suitable for primary production and convenient to a railway would cost from £10 to £15 an acre.
– And more.
– That is so. A farmer would need 500 acres for an agricultural and grazing proposition combined, and with land at £10 per acre, the initial outlay would be £5000. That is the reason for the decline in our primary industries, more particularly wheat growing. Until something is done in the direction of evolving a plan for making land available at a reasonable price little can be done to meet the situation. I know that the Labour party has a scheme for the solution of this problem, but it would cause a depression of land values by the imposition of unimproved value taxation. That party would impose such a stiff tax that land owners would be forced to sell their estates for subdivision. That would mean that large areas would be placed on the market, and tens of thousands of farmers who had bought their land at high prices and were paying interest on large mortgages would find their assets depreciating and ruin staring them in the face. That would bring about the ruin of about half those engaged in primary production to-day.
– Yet some of them are very prosperous.
– Yes; but if in addition to their present heavy costs they had to meet an almost unpayable land value tax, their prosperity would disappear.
– What does the honorable member suggest?
– I am not offering a suggestion, but pointing out that the proposal of the Labour party would bring ruin to the men on the land.
Until we solve this . problem it is idle to talk of any great scheme of immigration. Western Australia and Queensland, as I have said, have certain areas of land available at a reasonable price, but whether it is suitable for the absorption of migrants is another matter. If it is fit for closer settlement it ought to attract those Australians who are looking for land at the present time. Perhaps that fact has led the Economic Mission practically to condemn migration under certain conditions.
Another matter to which we should devote attention is the serious industrial trouble with which we are confronted. On every hand the walls of the industrial building seem to be crumbling. Various suggestions are being made as to what action should be taken. It is said that owing to the industrial disputes now experienced in Australia the whole arbitration system should be scrapped, and we should go back to the law of tooth and claw. I cannot subscribe to that doctrine. I feel that even though our arbitration system might fail in one, six, or even a dozen disputes, that would not be sufficient reason for its abolition.
– California gets on well without compulsory arbitration.
– It has not been tried there. The conditions in that country are vastly different from those in Australia. California- has an almost unlimited free labour market, which can be called upon without thought as to the cost of smashing industrial organizations. We desire to carry on our industrial affairs in a reasonable way, giving justice to all sections of industry, and imposing hardship upon none. At the present time we have an instance of a decision of an industrial court having been rejected by the employees - a most unfortunate offence which, cannot under any circumstances be condoned. But I do not contend that this furnishes sufficient justification for the scrapping of our arbitration system entirely. I remember that tens of thousands of trade unionists are working under awards of the Arbitration Court without any conflict at all, employers and employees meeting in a perfectly amicable way under all conditions. I contend that it is possible for employers generally to follow the example of manufacturers, and adjust the conditions in their industries to enable them to meet industrial awards. I feel sure that the Government will deal with the present difficulty in the right spirit, remembering that, whatever is done, when peace is restored, employers and employees have to work and live together as Australians. If any lasting bitterness is created by the action of any party or government, it will cause trouble that will react on the industrial and political life of the country for years. [ hope that wisdom will prevail at this late stage and that some way will be found out of the very serious difficulties and dangers confronting us.
I differ from the suggestion made in certain sections of the press and by certain organizations that because of recent happenings the time has come when arbitration will have to be removed from our statute-book. I want to warn the Labour organizations that if this kind of talk continues, those who really value arbitration, and realize the benefits it gives to the workers, will find themselves in the minority ; arbitration will be removed from the statute-book and the workers will occupy a position they never contemplated when they took the course of action on which they now seem to have embarked.
I trust that when the Government brings forward the legislation it is now considering, the Senate will receive a little fairer treatment than it has had in the past. Honorable senators get very little consideration. When a bill is brought forward we are expected to deal with it at a few hours’ notice and in a few hours. Now that the Government proposes to hold regular sessions, I hope that it will also regulate a little better the business it brings before the Senate so that it will be possible for honorable senators to give more adequate consideration to the legislation presented to us. Wc usually have a great many bills hurled at us at the tail end of a session, when it is impossible to give them anything like the consideration they deserve. I have often felt that this chamber has been belittled and its prestige materially damaged by the practice that has been observed in the past. I look forward with pleasurable anticipation to a great many of the measures the Government proposes to introduce, believing that whatever is done will be entirely in the best interests of the people, of Australia.
– This is the first occasion since my return to the Senate as a representative of the State of Western Australia that I have had the pleasure of participating in a debate on a motion for the adoption of an AddressinReply to a speech delivered by Hia Excellency the Governor-General at the opening of Parliament, because when I entered the chamber about two and a half years ago, the tenth Parliament had already been opened. Unlike some honorable senators who have preceded me in this discussion. I am not perturbed at the little there is to be found in His Excellency’s Speech, because I feel that if we deal properly with all the legislation it foreshadows we shall have quite a large volume of work to get through before we rise, and 1 am very much afraid that we shall not complete by Easter that allotted to the present session. The speech delivered by His Majesty the King at the opening of the British Parliament on the last occasion was just about a quarter of the length .of that delivered to us the other day by the Governor-General.
One of the first matters to attract my attention in the Speech was the statemeat that because of the unfavorable seasons the finances of Australia are not quite as good as they ought to be, but that nevertheless the financial position of Australia is sound. It was my privilege quite recently to be in. London, where I met several leading financial men and I also perused some of the financial papers published there. I did not hear any man of standing in, the financial world of London utter one word against the credit of Australia nor did I see in any of the English financial papers a single article or sentence derogatory to Australia. But what the London financial press do is to publish what Australians have to say about their own country. If the chairman of a Chamber of Commerce in Hobart, Melbourne or Adelaide takes it upon himself to play the role of a modern Jeremiah and declare that he sees nothing ahead but woe and desolation unless something is done that coincides with his view, his remarks are reported in the London financial press. The editors of these journals rightly claim that a man on the spot should’ surely know more about the finances of his own country than is known abroad and that some little notice must be taken of what he says. That is the whole trouble so far as our financial position and Australia’s credit in the world’s market are concerned. One of the latest reports in the London press is that of a recent speech delivered by the Chairman of Directors of the Bank of New South Wales at the annual meeting of its shareholders. That gentleman had a doleful tale to tell and predicted in so many words that unless Australia called a halt and did several things that he thought desirable, it would rapidly go down to destruction.
– But he expressed great confidence in Australia’s future.
– Quite so, but while statements which have the effect of depreciating the credit of Australia are reprinted in London, what is said here about confidence in the future of the country may not be published. According to the Stock Exchange records the shares of the Bank of New South Wales, issued at £20, are paid up to £20 making the total capital of the bank £7,500,000. The bank has £6,068,654 in reserves and undivided profits, and its shares are saleable on the stock exchange at £50 10s. I have seen them quoted at £51 15s. sellers, but even at £50 they stand at a premium at 150 per cent. I want to know if the Bank of New South Wales whose profits form the basis of the value of these shares, is part and parcel of the assets of Australia or if it is a separate concern altogether; because if one institution can show this return on its investments in Australia surely this country is not in such a rotten financial position as some would have us believe. To my mind if Australia is suffering financially it is not because of what any one outside is saying about it, but rather because of what Australians themselves are saying concerning it. It is an unfortunate practice of the people of this country to belittle it instead of standing up for it on every possible occasion. You never hear a Canadian running down his own country; yet on many occasions I have heard Australians decry Australia and then marvel at other people believing what they themselves have really declared to be the position. If our credit overseas is affected we have only ourselves to thank for it.
While I was in Canada as a member of the Australian Parliamentary Delegation I had an opportunity to study the Canadian Constitution. There are in Canada nine provinces which are akin to our States, but are by no means on the same footing. I have no desire to say anything that may be interpreted as an intrusion into the domestic affairs of another dominion, but I wish to compare the position of the Canadian provinces nath that of the Australian States, more particularly because the GovernorGeneral’s Speech makes reference to the financial agreement between the Commonwealth and the States. In spite of what Senator Duncan has had to say to the contrary, two States in the Commonwealth, New South Wales and Victoria, occupy a predominant position and have had the lion’s share of the benefits that have accrued from federation. Likewise the Canadian dominion is dominated by Quebec and Ontario, more particularly by the former. It has been frequently said in Australia that our Federal Constitution is about the worst that the mind of man has ever conceived, but I think it is a little ahead of that of the Dominion of Canada. Quebec is the only province in Canada that has a fixed representation in the Dominion House of Commons. The Constitution provides that the population of Quebec must be divided by 65 in order to ascertain the quota that fixes the representation of the other provinces. The quota has varied from 18,000 to 36,000. For a population of about 9,500,000 people there are 245 members in the House of Commons and 96 senaters. On .the same basis our House of Representatives would contain about 160 or 170 members, and in this chamber there would be over 70. The representation of the other provinces is varied. Ontario, the most densely populated province, had her representation increased at one time from 82 to 96. It has again receded to 82. No province knows before the publication of the census statistics what its representation will be. The Canadian House of Commons has the right to veto any act passed by a provin cial parliament. It will, therefore, be seen that there is less need in the provinces of Canada for houses of second thought or review than there is in the case of the Australian States. Indeed, Quebec is the only province which still retains . a Legislative Council. Nova Scotia had a second chamber until about three years ago. The differences which arise between the provincial and the dominion parliaments are mainly in connexion with financial matters. The Canadian Year-Booh says that under section 118 of the British-North America Act the provincial governments are assured of a certain income from the dominion treasury in the form of subsidies, the total grant from that source during 1927 being 12,516,740 dollars or about £2,600,000, approximately 5/6 per capita.
– That should end the opposition of Western Australia to the withdrawal of the per capita payments.
– The opposition of Western Australia is not so easily stifled. If anything could have destroyed that State the blows she has received under federation would have done so long ago; but the spirit of her people remains unconquered. In addition to the subsidy from the federal treasury the Canadian provinces are supposed to receive any revenue derived from the land, such as mining and timber royalties, but in Alberta and Saskatchewan, which until as recently as 1905 were included in the North- Western Territory of Canada, the control of the land is still with the dominion government. As a set-off against 12,516,740 dollars which the nine provinces receive from the federal treasury, we must place the revenue retained by the dominion government from the land in those two States. Saskatchewan is the most rapidly developing wheat-growing province of the dominion, and its land revenues are considerable. Taking these matters into consideration, we can safely say that the Australian Constitution is far ahead of that of Canada.
– In some things Canada is ahead, while in others Australia leads.
– Canada has the great advantage of being nearer the world’s markets.
– There is no denying that Canada is a great wheatproducing country. Nevertheless, Australian wheat is of better quality. It is simply a matter of arithmetic to arrive at the value of Australia’s wheat crop. The wheat yield multiplied by the price per bushel will give the exact value; but it is not so in Canada. The Canadian farmer does not know until the whole of his crop has been garnered and graded how much wheat of various qualities he will obtain. The quality of the grain there depends more on weather conditions than is the case in Australia. There is no doubt as to the richness of the soil in Canada ; it is, so to speak, as rich as sin and as deep as the bottomless pit. When the Parliament House at Winnipeg was being built it was necessary to go down 65 feet to get a satisfactory foundation, and the excavation for the whole of that 65 feet passed through rich black soil. When motoring with the president of the Manitoba Wheatgrowers’ Association, who was kind enough to drive us out to see some of the farms, I was surprised to learn that for land around Winnipeg - practically suburban blocks - the highest pricep aid did not exceed 80 dollars, or about £16 an acre. Similar land in Australia would cost double that amount. In the Wimmera district, Victoria, as much as £30 an acre has been paid for farming land
– What is the average yield per acre in Canada?
– For the whole of Canada last year it was over 20 bushels to the acre. The total crop was over 500,000,000 bushels.
– Are not the Canadian farmers contemplating the use of fertilizers ?
– So far, artificial fertilizers have not been used in Canada, although the land has been cropped continuously since about 1870. The farmers there are, however, considering their use.
– The honorable senator will admit that land in the Wimmera district costing £30 an acre gives a good yield.
– Yes; but not better than the return from the land around Winnipeg. The reason for the lower price of land in Canada is not that the farmers there are unaware of its value, but that wheat cannot be produced in Canada as cheaply as in Australia. Wheat grown around Winnipeg has to travel by rail to Fort William, a journey which took us 13 or 14 hours in an express train. From Fort William it is conveyed by lake steamers 1,500 miles to Montreal, where it is loaded into oceangoing vessels. Canadian wheat has to bear an average handling charge of1s. 3d. per bushel, of which1s. represents freight and 3d. elevator charges, whereas in Australia the average freight paid is only about 4d. per bushel. Moreover, one man in Australia with modern machinery can, without assistance, harvest a fair-sized crop.
The credit1 for our modern farming machinery is frequently given to our manufacturers, whereas both the harvester and stripper were invented by men on the land. It is true that the manufacturers have improved on the somewhat primitive machines first made, but they did. not invent them. In Canada they have tried machines known as combinations - corresponding to our harvesters - but owing to the uneven ripening of the grain, they have not proved a success. There is always a proportion of immature grain in a Canadian crop, and this renders the grading of wheat in Canada more necessary than in Australia. I do not wish it to be inferred from my remarks, however, that I am opposed to the grading of wheat. In Canada the wheat has first to be reaped, then placed in stooks, and later carted to the thresher, whereas in Australia the separating of the grain from the husks is carried out in one operation by the harvester. On one Canadian farm we saw a thresher in the field which, being equipped with every labor saving device, necessitated the attention of only two men. There were, however, six other men with six teams of horses carting the wheat in waggons from the stooks to the thresher, and in addition two more men with teams and waggons carting the grain from the thresher to the elevator, a distance of about l£ miles. The chief difficulty experienced’ by those following out of doors occupations in Canada is the inability to work at their callings for more than seven months in the year, and consequently, they must in that time earn sufficient to carry them through the whole year.
While practically every farm house and barn in Canada is made of wood, I saw only three in the whole of the portion of the dominion which we visited that were satisfactorily painted. The rest were sadly neglected, and extremely woebegone in appearance.
Honorable senators questioned Senator Sampson with regard to the output of the Hollinger gold mine, to which the delegation paid a visit. The general manager of that mine supplied us with some information regarding it. The mine began operations in 1912, and since then has treated 15,000,000 tons of ore - roughly 1,000,000 tons a year -for a gross return of 113,000,000 dollars, or at a little over 31s. per ton. He told us that there were 2,900 men employed on the mine, but he did not say whether that was the average number employed. Dividing the number of employees into the total yield, it will be found that the output of each employee is approximately 275 tons per annum. In our own mines at Kalgoorlie the underground men have an output of 442 tons per annum, but, if the complete output for 1926 is divided by the total number of men employed, it is shown that each man turned out 242 tons for the year. It must be remembered that our mines are down to a depth equivalent to that of the Hollinger mine, but that the Canadian figures dealt with operations from the surface downwards. I know a little about mining, as I spent eight years working on the surface of Kalgoorlie mines, and I point out that, whereas very nearly 50 per cent, of the men employed by them work on the surface, comparatively few are on the surface in the Hollinger. mine, the percentage being approximately 75 per cent. underground and 25 per cent, on the surface. I also observed that, although the Hollinger mine has treated 15,000,000 tons of dirt, it has no dump in the ordinary sense of the word, indicating that there is no overburden to remove, and therefore no labour to be employed for that purpose. It also has an unlimited supply of water, practically free of cost. No men are engaged in removing tailings, these being swept downstream by the water supply available. Again, whereas in Kalgoorlie, where our mining industry still survives, it costs somewhere about £42 to £43 per horse power per annum for the generation of power, I am confident that power does not cost one-quarter of that amount in the Canadian mine. Nature has bountifully endowed Canada with water, and electricity generated by water power is one of the cheapest commodities to be had there. Whatever their costs of production may be, the cost of providing power is negligible. I did not go down the Hollinger mine, but on inquiry from those who worked below, I learnt that the lodes were on such an underlay that they lent themselves to very easy working. The ore is broken away and runs down the slopes at small cost, and very little timbering is necessary. All those factors make it possible to work a mine at a very much lower cost than is the case in Australia.
– How is it that they are able to carry on with fewer surface men than we are?
– Every mine in Kalgoorlie has an immense roasting plant. All the ore has to be roasted. This necessitates the supply of tremendous quantities of firewood which has to be cut, brought in, stacked, and later carted to the furnaces. Our cyanidation and filtration methods, too, are infinitely more extensive and costly than are those of Canada, all of which means the employment of fewer surface men in that country. However, they have their own problems. One man told me quite frankly that if any person who was not a believer in cremation died during winter in the particular township in which we were in, his body would be set aside in a box until it was possible to dig a grave, because the ground is frozen hard during winter.
However well versed a man may be in the affairs of his own land, if he visits another country and, after a transitory stay, begins to dilate upon the correct method of running it, his opinion is not worth the breath that utters it. The delegation from the Empire Parliamentary Association was a very fine body of men who, with one exception, were reasonably minded and could appreciate one another’s difficulties. The exception was a delegate from England, who must have been a true lineal descendant of the men who lost Great Britain the American continent during the reign of George III. He never learnt anything, never could learn anything and never forgot anything and, if he has any sons, I have an infinite compassion for them. He told us quite plainly, though it had absolutely nothing to do with him or with the visit of the delegation to Canada, that Australia had been most solemnly warned by the late Lord Northcliffe, after he had paid a flying visit to Australia, that Australians could not hope to retain their vast continent in its present unpeopled state. At the same time, he was perfectly satisfied with what he regarded the immense progress made by Canada. He went so far as to say that he could foresee the day when Canada would be the centre of the British Empire, when the Mother Country would be quite content to come under Canada’s wing and receive from her a continuance of that far-famed treatment that it has meted out to her in the past! I have, at considerable trouble, tested his allegations. I find that, even taking the Canadian Year-Booh as a guide, it is admitted in that publication that for the second decade of this century Canada increased her population at a greater rate than did any other part of the British Dominions - with the exception of Australia. The relative population increase of the two countries from 1911 to 1921 was, Canada 21.95 per cent., and Australia 22.4 per cent. I hesitate to accept the statistics of the Canadian Year-Book on the subject of migration, because I find that, while it records all arrivals, it makes no mention of any de- partures. One can only infer that all those who go to Canada stay there until they die.
– A great many go to the United States of America.
– That is not mentioned in the Canadian YearBooh, and, in view .of that omission, I am rather dubious about its statistics. However, I have no other figures available. According to their own figures, from 1921 to 1927 inclusive, the births exceeded .the deaths by 659,288. In the same period, the migrants numbered 811,340, making a total of 1,470,628. Yet the net increase was only 731,000. despite their tremendous efforts to people their country. That is my reply to those one-eyed gentlemen who continually praise Canada and hold up Australia as a nation which is failing in its duty to fill its empty spaces. Since 1911 we have been filling those spaces much more rapidly than Canada. Yet she has at her door the great centres of population and the big markets of the world, while Australia suffers the disadvantage of being geographically at the far end of the world. It is comparatively easy for people of the most moderate means to go from Great Britain to Canada.
– Was the honorable senator shown the Canadian Navy?
– I was not. I have an intense sympathy for that section of the Canadians which is extremely desirous of doing as well as Australia or any other British dominion in regard to a navy and militia; but unfortunately it is in the minority. I believe that Quebec is the stumbling block. It is stated quite candidly that the feeling in Canada is that the Monroe doctrine is just as effective an instrument for the defence of Canada as a navy, an army, and an air force combined.
Under the immigration laws of the United States of America, only a certain quota of the nationals of other countries is allowed to enter that country each year. I was astonished to find that such a stipulation did not apply to the entrance of Canadians into the United States of America. The only conclusion to which one can come is that Canada is being used as a means of admission to the United States of America by a large number who otherwise would be turned back. This can readily be imagined when one considers the figures I have already quoted, which show that the net increase in the population of Canada during the period from 1921 to 1927 was considerably less than the number of migrants who entered that country, despite the fact that there was a large excess of births over deaths.
Canada deserves a word of praise for her liquor laws, which are far in advance of those that have been enacted in Australia. As is the case here, they are administered by the provinces; but there is a certain similarity in them all. Speaking generally, a person is not allowed to breast a bar and have a glass of spirits; he has to go to a Government store and buy a bottle. But before he can do even that, he is required to take out a licence.
– “What is the price of a bottle of whisky?
– It is dearer than in Australia. The authorities collect customs duty of 10 dollars a gallon on spirits.
– What is the fee for the license?
– It varies in different provinces, the lowest being 1 dollar.
– Is there a limit to the quantity which one can buy ?
– The power exists to impose a limitation. The name, address, occupation and amount of earnings of the applicant have to be endorsed on the license. Therefore, if a man who earns a small salary is found to be buying a very large quantity it can be assumed that he is either buying what he cannot afford or purchasing on behalf of some person who is not entitled to it. In such a case it is within the power of the authorities to refuse to sell. Ales and similar beverages can be bought in saloons that are similar to the continental beer gardens.
– The main question is, where can a person drink it?
– He would be a simple individual who could not solve that problem when he had obtained possession of the liquor.
– He cannot, drink it in the street.
– My stay in Canada was not sufficiently long to enable me to unravel all these points; but I believe that their liquor system is a considerable advance upon ours. I did not see a drunken man in the streets of any city.
– The honorable Bena-, tor must have been a very busy man.
– I did not go into some of the places that apparently were visited by Senator Payne. All I say is that I did not see a drunken man on the streets. My colleagues upon the delegation, I feel sure, will support me in that statement.
– I saw more drunken men on the streets of Toronto in an hour than I saw in New York in a week.
– The honorable senator’s vision must have been wobbly, and he imagined that those he saw were afflicted in that way. The Government of Ontario claims to have made out of the liquor control system last year a profit of $7,000,000, the whole of which was expended in the construction of good roads.
I had the pleasure of meeting at Winnipeg, a gentleman who was connected with the Manitoba educational department. When he learned that I was from Western Australia he sought me out to inform me that his department had adopted the correspondence system of education that is in force in Western Australia, under which children in sparsely settled districts can obtain the benefits of a sound education. He informed me that very fine results had been achieved.
According to the literature published by the Canadian authorities, and the opinions expressed by “the man in the street “ over there, everything in Canada is done to perfection. Very little notice should be taken of the view. of the man in the street. In the town of Timmins, Senator Sampson and I asked a man whom we met in the street what depth the Hollinger mine had reached, and he replied “10,000 feet”. As a matter of fact the deepest point reached was only 3,800 feet.
Canada is fortunate in the possession of a very extensive fishing industry.
– The reason is that they spend money on it.
– Quite so. But the point I wish to make is that the present apparent prosperity of Canada is to a large extent due to the fact that the people are living on their capital and not on their income. The fishing industry is an example. I had the good fortune to meet a gentleman who represents in the Canadian Parliament, a district in British Columbia. He told me that there are five commercial varieties of salmon; whereas I thought that all canned salmon was merely salmon. He said that the best variety was what is called “ Sockeye “ and then went on to say “ “When first we started canning salmon we would not can anything else but sockeye. We were able to can 2,000,000 cases a year. To-day, although our total pack amounts to over 3.000,000 cases, we are not able to get 200,000 cases of sockeye. We have worked it to death, and the federal government now has to establish hatcheries for the purpose of restocking the rivers with that particular variety of salmon.”
– The private canners do not rely upon the government; they have their own hatcheries.
– As a rule, the principal concern of the private people is to obtain dividends, and not to spend too much upon hatcheries so long as the federal government will do the work for them.
– They should look to the future.
– They should.
Some of our own people are fond of telling us- that we are the most wasteful people in the world, and that others manage very much better than we do. Such assertions cannot be substantiated; in many cases other countries do not manage very much better than we do. Unquestionably the forest wealth of Canada is enormous. The paper pulp industry is one of the biggest in the dominion. Persons whom I met informed me that they have unlimited quantities of pulp wood; but a different story is told by the Canadian Year-Boole, which says the annual cuts have generally exceeded the new growth, and considerable losses have been caused by fire and other de structive agencies ; but the extent of uncut forest ensures an adequate supply for many years to come. There is an admission that their forests are being decimated at a faster rate than that at which they are being recruited. The report goes on to say that the annual consumption is 2,900,000,000 cubic feet, and that destruction by fire, insects, &c, brings the total depletion of the forest areas up to 5,000,000,000 cubic feet. It is certain that the new growth is not nearly equal to the destruction that is. being caused. It cannot be denied that at the present time the dominion is obtaining a tremendous amount of wealth from the pulp wood industry, which is run principally by companies that have their headquarters in the United States of America. There is not the shadow of a doubt that those companies are living on Canada’s timber capital rather than on her timber income.
A considerable quantity of apples is grown in British Columbia and Nova Scotia. In the former province some attention has been paid to grading for markets. For the benefit of those who represent districts which produce onions, I may mention that in the Okanagan valley, in British Columbia, during our visit, a tremendous consignment of onions was being made ready for shipment to New Zealand. If British Columbians can send them across the Pacific to New Zealand, there should be a possibility of Australian growers finding a market for them in that dominion.
Considerable attention was paid to the grading and packing of apples in British Columbia, but in Nova Scotia the fruit was simply placed in barrels and sent to the London market exactly as it was taken from the trees. I had the good fortune to meet the wife and daughter of the High Commissioner for Canada at an afternoon reception given by the Lieutenant-Governor at Toronto, and they told me that the Canadians greatly admired the way in which Australian apples were graded, packed and marketed. They said that Canadian apples could not compare with them in general appearance. This unsolicited eulogy should be encouraging to our fruit-growers, and should inspire them to do every thing possible to maintain the high standard of our export apples.
– “Was anything said about the flavour of the Australian fruit ?
– No, but in my opinion their apples were not equal in flavour to the fruit grown in Australia. In the Okanagan Valley on the Pacific side of the Rocky Mountains - a small valley hidden between the Rookies and the Selkirksthe apple-growers have to resort to irrigation. The average rainfall of this district, though so close to the coast and so far north, is only eight inches. A variety of apple known as Red Macintosh grows well there, “and although it has good colour it lacks the fine flavour of Australian apples which are grown under natural conditions. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 6.10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 February 1929, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1929/19290213_senate_11_120/>.