11th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands) took the chair at 8 p.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Senator Thomas) - By leave - agreed to -
That the Select Committee appointed to inquire into and report upon the desirability and commercial possibility of sending messages from Australia to England over the Beam wireless at1d. a word have leave to sit with a quorum of three.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Pearce) able to Bay when the Government will be able to make a pronouncement regarding the recommendations of the Development and Migration Commission in relation to the gold-mining industry of Australia?
– It is hoped to be able to make a statement in both Houses to-morrow.
Institute of Anatomy at Canberra.
Senator REID presented the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, together with minutes of evidence relating to the proposed construction of buildings for the Institute of Anatomy at Canberra.
Senator ELLIOTT presented the first report of the Printing Committee, and moved, by leave -
That the report of the Printing Committee, presented to the Senate on 19th March, be adopted.
Motion agreed to.
The following papers were presented : -
Child Endowment or Family Allowances - Report of the Royal Commission.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at Woodside, South Australia, for Defence purposes.
Defence Act, Naval Defence. Act, and Air Force Act - Defence Committee Regulations - Statutory Rules, 1929, No. 26.
SenatorFOLL. - Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Pearce) state when the report of the Tariff Board on the cotton industry will be presented, and when the action which the Government proposes to take in connexion with that industry will be announced?
North Australia - Queensland
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made and the honorable senator will be advised as soon as possible.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.On the 15th March Senator Guthrie asked the following questions : -
Who owns or controls the aviation ground at Canberra?
Is it a fact that the aerodrome is not provided with telephonic facilities?
Do telephone or telegraph lines cross the aerodrome?
Are adequate facilities for the provision of water for aeroplanes afforded, or has water to be secured from some miles distant?
Is it a fact that, whilst an aeroplane has taken one hour twenty minutes to come from Sydney, owing to lack of telephonic facilities, it sometimes takes one hour for visitors to reach Canberra from the aviation grounds?
Is there an air vane on the aerodrome; if not, why not?
Are live stock of any kind allowed to graze near the aerodrome?
I am now in a position to inform the honorable senator as follow: -
The aerodrome area at Canberra is under the control of the Federal Capital Commission, but negotiations are now proceeding between the Defence Department and the Commission for a suitable lease of this area.
Yes, but telegraph lines do not interfere with the landing of aircraft, owing to the size of the aerodrome area.
Water is laid on to the aerodrome area and the supply is adequate.
The aerodrome area is five (5) miles from Canberra and it may take one hour to reach Canberra from the landing ground.
A pole has been erected at the aerodrome for the purpose of carrying a wind vane and a wind vane has been fitted. If there is not one there at present, it has been destroyed by the wind and will be replaced immediately.
Live stock do graze on the aerodrome area.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Transport Workers Bill.
Financial Agreement Validation Bill.
Tariff Board Bill.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed -
That the bill be now read a first time.
– The inauguration of the discussion on this side of the chamber by me has been rendered necessary by the unfortunate indisposition of the Leader of the Opposition (“Senator Needham). I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later stage of the sitting.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives and (on motion by Senator Ogden) read a first time.
Debate resumed from 15th March (vide page 1270),on motion by Senator Ogden -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The wine industry, which this bill is to assist, is of great importance, not only to South Australia, but to certain other States, and any action which this Parliament can take to assist it should receive the support of honorable senators. Prior to the war, approximately 50,000 acres of land in Australia were planted with vines, the product of which was used in the manufacture of wine and kindred beverages, but owing to the activities of State Governments in placing returned soldiers upon land suitable for the cultivation of wine grapes, that area has now been more than doubled. According to the latest and most reliable figures that I can procure, there is now an area of approximately 112,000 acres under wine-grape cultivation in Australia. The increase in the acreage, with its consequent increase in the volume of wine and spirit produced, is the chief reason for the introduction of this bill, which is brought down in the endeavour to overcome existing marketing difficulties.
The following figures indicate how our wine production has increased in recent years : -
The production hadstill further increased in 1924, and it continued to do so until it reached its peak, in 1927, when the vintage for the season was 20,433,410 gallons. Due to the adverse climatic conditions which existed last year in some of the best viticultural districts of South Australia, the volume of production was reduced to 17,321,796 gallons. It is probable that this year, despite the dryness of last season, the vintage will be almost as great as that produced in the record year 1927. The Commonwealth Government secures a very substantial revenue from the wine industry, as is shown by the following figures as to the revenue derived from fortified spirit used for winemaking purposes, and from the excise on brandy for the period 1922- 23-1927-28.
That, of course, was not all net revenue, as there was a drawback on the spirit used for fortifying wines exported under the provisions of the Bounty Bill passed in 1924. Of all our primary industries, the wine-grape growing industry affords one of the most prolific sources of employment. This is apparent to one who travels through the various viticultural districts of Australia and observes the towns that have sprung up, the large number of homesteads that are concentrated in a small territory, and the number of people employed. The value of the industry must be appreciated, and we must be seized with the necessity to do all that is possible to assist it over the crisis through which it is at present passing, and to place it on a more stable footing.
It is my opinion that this bill is overdue. I regret that it was not introduced simultaneously with the original Wine Bounty Bill, in 1924. Had that been done a measure of control would have been exercised over the wine exported, to the great benefit of the industry. The application of the bounty principle brought about a great increase in the quantity of wine exported by Australia. For the year previous to the introduction of the bounty Australia exported over 800,000 gallons. That quantity has increased yearly as the result of the application of the bounty until in 1928 it reached a total of 3,770,000 gallons. A number of weaknesses existed in the original bounty provisions and the system of export that was then countenanced, one of the greatest of which was the absence of control over the quality of the article exported. We are told by those engaged in the industry, both in this country and abroad, that considerable harm was done to the Australian industry, and that the fair name of our product was blackened in no inconsiderable degree by the rapacity of some exporters, who sent out of Australia liquid masquerading as wine merely to secure the benefits of the bounty and the provisions of the legislation passed in 1924. Had a bill similar to that which we are now considering then been passed, and a measure of control exercised such as is proposed in this measure, those reprehensible practices would have been prevented, as it would have been the duty of the hoard to control the export of wine and to see that the proper standard wa3 maintained.
Another weakness shown to exist in the provisions of the bounty, is that growers do not in all cases reap the full benefit which the Government of the day sought to confer upon them. On the 4th January last, a conference was held in Adelaide of wine grape growers representative of all the districts of South Australia. The report of that conference, which appeared in -the Adelaide Register of the 5th January, discloses some startling facts as to the position of wine grape growers under the bounty system. Here is an extract: -
A delegate created surprise by saying that when the bounty rate had been 4s. a gallon, he knew of an instance where the maker received 3s. lOd. and the grower 2d. out of it. Another delegate remarked, in the presence of legislators, that he had heard of a company exporting 40,000 gallons of sweet wine. They received 4s. bounty, amounting to £8,000. The wine came back from London at a cost in freight of about Cd. a gallon, leaving over £7,000 in pocket. Then they undersold the other makers on the Australian market.
So far as J. know those statements have not been contradicted. One may therefore assume that they are substantially correct. They certainly bear out the contention that control is necessary in order to safeguard the interests of those engaged in the industry. The bounty principle has been subjected to very considerable criticism. Some aver that the Government was not sufficiently generous, and others that it was too generous. I venture to say that if the Government erred it was not on the side of generosity. That opinion is borne out by the fact that the Government has derived an ever increasing revenue from the industry, since it has been stimulated by the payment of a bounty. From the commencement of the bounty to the end of the last financial year, the net amount of bounty paid was £843,850. The drawback of excise on spirit used to fortify wine exported amounted to £415,955, so that the total amount returned to the industry by the Government in that period was £1,259,805. During the same period, as a result of the increase in production in Australia, the revenue derived from excise duties increased by £875,176, leaving a net debit balance of £3S4,629. That was the amount lost to the Government in respect of payment of bounty and the drawback of excise, as against the amount which it received from increased revenue, in the form of excise. As a set off against that expenditure we must consider the immense benefits that have been derived by the community as a whole. The payment of the bounty not only averted a crisis in the wine-making industry in 1924, but it increased the price per ton of Doradillo grapes, the class of grapes grown on ‘the repatriation areas, by as much as 120 per cent.
During the war, as honorable senators will remember the industry was in a floushing state, and this gave the established viticultural districts an opportunity to build up reserves against the slump which took place in 1923. The returned soldier settlers, the most deserving section of the industry, and others in the newer districts were not in this fortunate position. Their land was placed under vines at considerable expenditure in the boom period of land settlement following the war, and when their grapes came into bearing a few years later there was a slump in prices. Then came the wine bounty legislation of 1924, to relieve the position of those growers who had little or no market for their production. It has been stated authoritatively that taking the whole period from the inception of the bounty to 1928, the growers have benefited to the extent of £1,000,000, and in addition the bounty has benefited substantially the dried fruits industry. Because of the improved prices ruling for wine grapes the bounty diverted to the vats fruit which otherwise would have been processed and sold as dried fruits.
– Did not British preference have something to do with the improvement in the market?
– British preference came later, and as we know, it resulted in a reduction of the bounty paid by the Commonwealth Government with, I venture to say, rather disastrous results up to the present.
Consequent on the reduction in the bounty last year the viticultural industry is now in a serious state. This is borne out by information which I have received from growers in many districts in South Australia. At the conference to which I have referred Mr. Wakefield, a grower in one of the southern districts, stated that the wine makers were now ignoring the bounty, and were fixing their own prices for grapes in the open market.
– If they do that they cannot claim the bounty.
– That is so. Growers in districts north of Adelaide have advised me of the correctness of Mr. Wakefield’s statement, so that the winemakers in South Australia, at least, are ignoring the prices fixed by the Government under the Bounty Act. Apparently they do not propose to claim the bounty. They prefer to purchase grapes at their own price, which, of course, will be very much below the price necessary to put the industry on a profitable basis. I have received a number of circulars dealing with this matter, but as they are all couched in similar terms I shall quote only one, which was issued by one of the largest firms of wine-makers in South Australia to its customers. It is as follows : - 1st February, 1929.
A serious position has developed in the viticultural industry which makes it difficult to arrange the necessary finances to purchase the coming crop, but we have decided to protect those growers who have regularly delivered their grapes ito us.
We therefore enclose a form which please fill out and return to us immediately. It is essential, however_ to at once advise us of the quantity you have to offer, as no guarantee can be given to take delivery of any grapes not. included in the estimate.
Arrangements for payment of grapes pur. chased will have to be made at a later date.
Accompanying the circular is the usual form setting out, as in other years, the various types of grapes which the firm is prepared to purchase. It is a fac simile of the circular usually issued, with the exception that no price is quoted for the various types of grapes.
It will be seen, therefore, that the growers in South Australia and, I presume, in the wine-growing districts of other States also, will this year be at the tender mercy of the wine-makers. This is causing the growers in South Australia considerable concern. It is obvious that the Government has made up its mind not to increase the bounty, or to do anything that would overcome this temporary difficulty. It prefers to rely upon this measure. I suggest that the Government should increase the bounty by at least 9d. a gallon, the amount by which it was reduced last year, to cover the output of this season’s vintage. This would tide the growers over their present difficulties and give this measure an opportunity to function. Possibly, if that is done, the industry will be on a sound basis before the next season’s vintage is ready to be harvested. I hope that the Government will accede to this request, which I know has been made by the various growers’ organizations throughout Australia and by those with whom I have been in contact in South Australia.
Another serious effect of the reduction in the bounty is seen in the prices received by those engaged in the dried fruits section of the industry. Last year the price paid for currants was £35 or £36 a ton, according to quality. About a week ago I received information that the price this year will be about £11 a ton less than was realized for the same quality of currants last year. It will be seen, therefore, that the reduction in the bounty has affected, not only those growers who rely entirely on the processing of their grapes for wine purposes, but also those who turn their product into dried fruit. I trust that the requests of the growers for an increase in the bounty will receive sympathetic consideration at an early date.
I agree with the general principles of the bill. Honorable members of the party to which I belong may, I think, be regarded as pioneers in the advocacy of legislation along these lines. I remember the time, twelve or fifteen years ago, when Labour members first advocated pooling arrangements and co-operative schemes for our primary producers. The suggestions made then did not receive the measure of support and sympathy now accorded to them. I venture to say that as time goes on the efficacy of the principle which we are seeking to incorporate in this measure will be proved beyond the shadow of a doubt, and instead of restricting its operations, steps will be taken to extend them.
One of the weaknesses of the bill, in my opinion, is that it seeks to control only the product to be exported. One has only to consider the potentialities of the home market to realize that the local field might profitably be brought under control in the interests of the producer. I do not agree with those who declare that wine should not be drunk by our people. I contend that, in a climate such as we enjoy in Australia, there should be a greater consumption by our people of certain types of wine as a beverage, in preference to imported spirits and other concoctions. As one travels around Australia and partakes of hospitality in those places that cater for travellers, commercial and otherwise, one is forced to conclude, from the beverages that are available, that there is very little inducement to patronize the Australian viticultural industry. A person who goes into the average licensed house and asks for a glass of wine is generally offered the cheapest product obtainable, for which he has to pay the highest price the vendor dares to ask. That is an aspect of the industry with which this measure might well deal. There are great opportunities to increase the home market for wines and dried fruits. We should aim at reducing the margin between what the producer receives and the price paid by the consumer. How great that margin is “ will be seen from the following quotation from a speech made by Colonel Francis, a well-known vigneron of South Australia, who has taken a great interest in the wine industry, at a conference held in Adelaide on the 4th January last -
Tn the past it had been a great thought to exalt the position in respect to the export trade in comparison with the amount consumed in the home trade. The export trade was a mere fraction of what was produced and consumed in Australia, and wine makers had consistently drawn a red herring across the trail of export in relation to the bounty, covering up very systematically and successfully the huge profits they had made on the wines consumed by the “Dinkum Aussie.” A grower received approximately £7 10s. for a ton of grapes. The Government received £50 in excise. The maker got £20 for the same ton, while the poor consumer had to pay at the rate of £90. An industry that could support that was on the wrong lines.
There is something wrong when the producer receives only £7 10s. for a commodity for which the consumer is asked to pay £96.
The bill seeks to set up a marketing organization to deal with our exportable surplus of wine. It proposes the establishment of a board of eight - one to be representative of the Government, two representatives of South Australia, one representative each of the States of Western Australia and Victoria, one representative for New South Wales and Queensland, and two representatives of the co-operative processing organizations. The growers are entitled to more direct representation on a board which is to exercise such a vital influence upon the industry in which they are engaged. In his second-reading speech the Minister pointed out that the cooperative organizations had been given two representatives so that the growers would indirectly have some control. According to the best information I can obtain, the five recognized co-operative organizations in the Commonwealth represent approximately 1,000 grower members. There are, however, over 7,000 growers’ engaged in the industry in different parts of Australia. Assuming that the two representatives of the co-operative distilleries will effectively represent the growers connected with them, there will still be 6,000 growers not affiliated with co-operative distilleries who will be without representation on the board. It may be said that the interests of all growers are substantially the same, but it is not always so.
– Will this not be an incentive for them to join the cooperative organizations?
– This measure will apply particularly to South Australia, where it would be difficult for the growers to organize a system of cooperative processing in face of the opposition which would be forthcoming from old established concerns. South Australia lias some of the oldest, as well as the largest, wineries and distilleries in the Southern Hemisphere. The owners of those establishments are not only processors; they are also very large growers; and because of the long period during which they have been in business they are now firmly established. Any co-operative organization seeking to compete with them would be faced with strong opposition. Indeed, the two cooperative distilleries at Renmark and Berri - the latter of which was established during the war period to deal principally with the doradillo grapes grown by returned soldiers - are in a much worse position because of the slump in the industry than are the older distilleries in South Australia, because they did not participate in the profits made during boom periods. While there may be difficulties in the way of amending the measure, some direct representation should be given to the growers, to ensure that they will receive fair treatment. The bill really provides for pooling the exportable surplus of wine. The whole of the wine to be exported, subject to certain provisions relating to existing contracts, and to meet contingencies, will be under the control of the board, which, I assume, will act as a selling agent on behalf of. those wine-makers who will export their wine through it, in much the same way that our wheat, wool and dried fruit pools have operated.
We have heard a good deal recently about licences. Under this bill the board will issue licences to exporters of wine. Those who operate without a licence will be liable to certain penalties. While I do not agree with the licensing system as applied to certain workers in a measure which was recently before us, I am in full accord with the system of licensing proposed in this measure, because it will establish an effective control and prevent the abuses which during recent years have crept into the wine export business and damaged, in the eyes of the world, the reputation of our excellent products. I emphasize that the power proposed to be vested in a board controlled by wine-makers is altogether too great. Even if we admit that the two representatives of the co-operative distilleries will effectively represent all the growers, the growers will still not have a- fair share of representation. I take it that the Government nominee will be strictly neutral, his duty being to maintain contact between the Government and the organization, and to see that the desire of Parliament in passing this legislation is carried out. The growers should have direct representation on the board, although there is something to be said in favour of the makers of wine having a preponderance of the representation. The industry has been built up as a result of years of experimenting and organizing on their part, and the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds of their capital. They have more at stake as individuals than have the growers. I think that the makers are entitled to control the board, because Ave are taking from them the responsibility they have hitherto exercised, that of marketing the product. We think that it will be in the best interests of all to have the control of marketing vested in an export control board representative of every interest concerned; but I repeat that the growers should have direct representation on that board. I support the bill because I believe it will prove beneficial to the viticultural industry of Australia, and make possible the proper organized marketing of our surplus product of wine. If the control board functions as I think it will, it will do away with the crisis through which the wine industry is now passing, enable the industry to expand, give more and more employment to the people of Australia, and add to the wealth of the Commonwealth.
– I support this bill because I recognize in it an effort on the part of the Government to stabilize the wine industry, which must have a beneficial effect on the wine-makers and winegrowers. Of course, I realize that it places the control of the industry in the hands of the wine-makers, whose first consideration will naturally be the interests of the makers of wine; but if it is found that the growers are not getting a fair deal, this Parliament can, at any time, review the position and take steps to properly safeguard their particular interests. When the Government reduced the bounty by 9d. a gallon, I spoke at length in this chamber, and said that our exportable surplus wines would not be got away. About the same time the Prime Minister told a deputation from South Australia that he had been advised that the surplus could be exported even under the reduced bounty, but events have proved that he was wrongly advised. Some of the largest wine-makers in South Australia tell me that they cannot buy grapes at the fixed price and export the wine made from them except at a loss. Most of the sweet wine that is now going away is being exported because the banks and financial institutions are forcing the wine-makers to dispose of their stocks in order that their overdrafts may be reduced. The reduction of 9d. a gallon in the bounty has made all the difference between success and failure. It will readily be seen that if Australian wine could be offered on the British market at 9d. a gallon less than has to be asked, a great deal more of it could be sold.
I do not altogether blame the Government for the position of the wine industry to-day. On the contrary I give it a great deal of credit for the amount of good it has done to the industry- The bounty -it paid saved the situation. The trouble was originally brought about by the determination of the State Governments to place returned soldiers on the land and force them to plant grape-vines. The effect of this was to so increase the production of wine that a surplus was created. The Federal Government came to the rescue of the growers with a bounty of 4s. a gallon on exported wine. I admit that when that bounty was first paid, exporters made handsome profits, and that when it was reduced by ls. they were still doing fairly well, but it was the last reduction by 9d. a gallon which caused all the trouble.
At this stage I should like to call attention to the fact that duty has to be paid on Australian-made wine casks when they are returned to Australia. A statement has appeared in the Viticultural Journal that this duty has been removed ; other statements have been made to the effect that the Government has promised to remove it. I should like the Minister when he replies to tell us what the exact position is in regard to this particular impost. Personally, I think the removal of the duty, which course I so strongly advocated in the Senate some time ago, would do something towards alleviating the position of the wine industry.
Like other Australian primary industries whose surplus has to be sold on the world’s markets, the wine industry is a affected by the economic position in Australia. The cost of production is so high that there is great difficulty in placing our exportable surplus on the world’s markets. The cost of production has been so increased by arbitration awards, tariff schedules, and other artificial means that our primary industries are in a tangle owing to high costs of production, and if we in turn do not bolster them up, the millions will not come to this country from purchasers of our produce in other parts of the world. Dealing with the high cost of production which is militating against the sale of our wine in London, the British Economic Commission reported : -
The report proceeds to say that these costs may be raised to a level which will bring disaster in respect to the export of our primary products. That is the position of the Australian wine industry to-day. A serious calamity awaits it unless something practical is done to prevent it. Not long ago I took a trip through the Tanunda district. I saw a vineyard here and an orchard there, where every acre could have been under fruit trees or grape vines. That country should be carrying tens of thousands of people, and the export of the produce grown upon it should be bringing millions of pounds into Australia; but owing to the high cost of production, instead of that valuable land being covered with orchards and vineyards, much of it is given over to bullocks. There should be a family on every 20 acres, and tens of thousands of workers should be employed upon it, while in Adelaide and the country towns tens of thousands of others should be engaged in sending them goods and marketing their produce.
Owing to the high and inflated cost of production it is exceedingly difficult to place Australian wine on the world’s market without Government assistance. The wine industry of Australia is the only industry competing with world’s products which has to pay an excise duty. The wine products of such countries as Spain and Portugal, where cheap labour is available do not have to bear an excise impost. Senator O’Halloran, who referred to the payment of excise did not give the total amounts collected and for the information of the Senate I shall give the figures supplied to me in answer to a question, as I should like them placed on record. They are: 1918-19, £188,634; 1919-20, £182,624, 1920-21, £211,180; 1921-22, £238,125; 1922-23, £255,302; 1923-24, £282,323; 1924-25, £333,729; 1925-26, £428,115; 1926-27, £435,135; 1927-28, £340,800. For the seven months of 1928-29, £83,112 has been collected.
– Is that paid on wine exported ?
– No, it is a charge on the whole production and in addition, as Senator O’Halloran said, excise amounting to £2,000,000 is paid on grape brandy. The amount of deferred excise due on the 30th June, 1928, amounted to £230,472. A total of £3,209,551 has been paid by this industry in the form of excise, on fortifying spirit for wine. At present about one-third of the Australian production of wine has to be exported to the London market. If it is not disposed of in that way the industry will be faced with disaster, as large quantities will be thrown upon the local market, where the demand is insufficient to cope with the supply. I have shown that the amount collected in the form of excise is approximately £3,209,551, whilst the amounts paid in bounties to assist the industry, totals only £1,210,188.
– That is a a very substantial sum.
– Yes, but not when we remember that over £3,200,000, in addition to charges similar to those borne by other industries which also have difficulty in placing their products on the world’s markets, is paid in excise. The amounts paid by way of wine bounty were in 1924-25, £28,417; 1925-26, £217,108; 1926-27, £442,410; 1927-28, £482,843; and to 9th February, 1929, £39,410, a total of £1,210,188.
The payment of a bounty on the export of wine has increased the production and consequently the amount of excise collected by the Government. For the four years prior to the payment of a bounty the revenue from excise on fortifying spirit was £986,929, and during the four years in which the bounty was paid it was £1,862,105, or an increase of £875,176. As the net amount of the bounty and drawback on “ bounty “ wine totalled £1,259,805, less the increase in revenue of £875,176, the bounty has actually cost the Government only £384,629.
– But wine is a luxury and should be subject to such taxation.
– This measure provides a system of organized marketing to enable grape-growers and wine-producers to dispose of their surplus stocks. As approximately £20,000,000 has been invested in bringing the viticultural industry to its present state in Australia, and it requires over £1,000,000 annually to maintain and develop it, whilst it contributes about £800,000 a year to the consolidated revenue in the form of excise it should be assisted. The working cost of the area under wine grapes amounts to between £600,000 to £700,000 a year of which labour is the most important item. The figures I have given represent only vineyard costs, and do not include those incurred in the wineries and distilleries. I have shown that allowing for the increase in excise the actual amount of bounty paid has been about £384,629 for the whole time the bounty system has been in operation. The manufacturing industries in the cities which receive substantial help in the form of customs duty are responsible for the imposition of an indirect tax upon the people of approximately £30,000,000 every year.
– That is not a fair comparison. The honorable senator should tell us the amount of duty collected on imports of spirituous liquor.
– Customs duties are certainly paid by the people on imported goods to help manufacturing interests. The bounties paid to other industries have been for cotton, for one year, £30,000; iron and steel products, for year ending 30th June, 1927, £256,853; and on sulphur, for one year, £34,339. The Government has also proposed the payment of an export bounty on coal which if given effect to will amount to some £400,000. In order to encourage the sugar industry an embargo has been placed upon the importation of foreign grown sugar and this is costing Australian consumers a very large sum. The butter stabilization scheme is also being contributed to by consumers of butter. Frequent reference has been made to the amounts that have been paid in wine bounties, but they are small when compared with the amount paid to other industries receiving Government assistance. Apart altogether from other considerations we have to remember that there are from 2,000 to 3,000 soldier settlers engaged in the grape growing and wine producing industries, many of whom have been financed up to the hilt by the State governments with money advanced by the Commonwealth Government. If the exportable surplus of our Australian wine becomes a drug on the Australian market, and prices collapse, those engaged in the industry will be compelled to leave their vineyards and wineries and the consequent financial burden will then be very much more than the amount of the bounty at present being paid.
– But this measure is only to assist in marketing their wines.
– I know that. I have told the Minister that I am afraid the assistance offered will not be sufficient. In 1927-28 Australia exported £829,799 worth of wine and in 1928 £1,062,408 worth, so that a large sum annually is brought to Australia by means of this industry. I think I have said sufficient to convince honorable senators that this is a vital industry to Australia, and one of some magnitude. If we allow the industry to get into such a state that it cannot dispose of the exportable surplus the situation will be difficult to overcome. Last year our receipts from wheat sales were considerably lower than in previous years and every one felt the pinch; but if the returns from other industries also diminish, the position will be still more serious. In 1915-16 our total exports were valued at £74,778,321 and in 1926-27 at £144,895,183, practically all of which consisted of primary products. The total exports of manufactures in 1915 were valued at £3,417,021 and in 1927 at £4,026,491, so that during that period our exports of manufactures were practically stationary. If the export of primary produce diminishes it will not be long before the position of Australia will become desperate.
Two factors are largely responsible for the reduction in the sale of Australian wine overseas. Some time ago Great Britain granted a preference of 4s. a gallon on Australian wine. The rates were -
Strength n.e. 42 per cent., p.s. Foreign, 8s. per gallon.
Strength n.e. 42 per cent., p.s. Empire 4s. per gallon.
Strength n.e. 25 per cent., p.s. Foreign 3s. per gallon.
Strength n.e. 27 per cent., p.s. Empire 2s. per gallon.
Strength n.e. 27 per cent., p.s. British ls. per gallon.
This helped the industry, but the effect of that preference has been destroyed by the blending of wines in Great Britain. When the reduction of the bounty was under consideration the Minister in charge of the measure said that the effect of blended wines upon the Australian product would be negligible. The Minister for Markets and Transport (Mr. Paterson) made a similar statement at a meeting of those engaged in the industry, but Mr. Gramp, who recently returned from overseas, said that blending is being undertaken in Great Britain to a large extent. Mr. Gramp states -
The cheap sweet wines from Spain and Portugal are also strong competitors, and they are being sold considerably cheaper than what our Australian sweet wines can he landed at in London. The Tarrogona and Lisbon wines are imported at two different strengths, the duty on foreign wine N.B. 25 per cent, is 3s. per gallon, and that on N.B. 42 per cent. Ss. A very large trade is done by blending three pipes of 25 per cent, together with one pipe of 42 per cent. This gives an average strength of 28-29 per cent., and the duty is only 4s. 3d. per gallon, which is only 3d. more than the duty on Australian, and the cost of these wines is only a few pence more than the cost of our casks and freight alone. Some shippers of Tarragona sweet wines have succeeded in keeping their wines by distributing them at a strength of N.E. 25 per cent., and the duty on same is only 3s. per gallon. The Douro Ports pay the full rate of duty of 8s. per gallon, as these are only shipped at a high strength.
Although the industry is supposed to receive an effective preference of 4s. it is really receiving a preference of only 3d.
– Are those blended wines not inferior and of less strength?
– They are not as good wines, but by blending in this way, traders are able to overcome the duty, to the prejudice of our wines.
The worst phase is that the British preference is being evaded by the sale of so-called British wines which are being made from foreign concentrated grape- juice. The grape-juice is imported from Spain, Portugal, Prance and Greece, An excise duty of only ls. 6d. per gallon is paid upon it as against the 4s. duty paid on Australian wine. The London Times of the 7 th March, 1928, contained the following very significant paragraph upon the operations of one of these British wine companies, taken from the chairman’s half-yearly report to the shareholders -
I hope you will consider that events have justified my optimism, and that our £170,000 profit for 1927 is more than satisfactory, especially if you will take into consideration THAT this profit has been effected with the contribution of a portion only of the profits we anticipated to derive from our Colonial business. …
The increase in stock from £75,G60 as at December 21, 192C, as against £138,993 at the close of the year under review, is caused by our very largely increased turnover, as u result of which it is necessary for us to hold much larger stocks, which may be still larger in the future. This extra trade is also responsible for the increase in our sundry debtors from £79,138 at December 31, 1926, to £143,355 at December, 1927. . . .
Our. trading profit, after charging all expenses, is £172,025, as against £102,850 last year.
Turning to the director’s report, you will observe that of the balance of profit available, after deducting the dividend on the preference shares and the interim dividend on the ordinary shares, there remains £125,174 13s. lid. The directors propose to pay a final dividend on the ordinary shares at a rate of 35 per cent, per annum, making a total dividend of 30 per cent, for the year, which will absorb £61,250.
That will make it clear what tremendous profits those companies are making. Since the report was published a number of other wine companies have been formed in Great Britain to market cheap foreign must under the guise of British wine. Australia grants Great Britain an annual preference of approximately £8,000,000, as against a reciprocal tariff of £1,000,000. It was the intention of Great Britain that our wine industry should benefit to the extent of a 4s. per gallon preference, but that is beingevaded by blending and by the importation of cheap foreign must.
This Government appears to be disinclined to press the British Government for an effective preference upon our wine, and I urge it to reconsider the matter. The Viticultural Council and grapegrowers join with me in making strong representations to the Government to urge the British Government to make the preference an effective one. The position of the growers is very serious indeed, as they are not being paid the fixed price for their grapes. It must be realized that a buyer is not compelled to pay that fixed price if the grapes are intended for wine for local consumption. At present the wine manufacturers are not paying the fixed price for grapes, as it would nor, now pay them to buy grapes at that rate to make wine for export purposes. Consequently, there is practically no export of
Australian wine, and the burden falls principally upon the grower, who has to accept much under the fixed prices for his product. I shall quote several letters and telegrams on the subject, the first of which is from the Adelaide Plains GrapeGrowers Association, as follows: -
After making careful inquiries both in our own district and from the Northern Growers’ Association (Mr. Gursansky) and the Southern Growers (Mr. Bruce), my association feels justified in stating definitely that prices arc being offered for grapes far below those fixed by Government, namely £3 for Doradillas at 12 degreesbeaume with penalty of 10s. per degree under 12 degrees; £4 for Muscatelles with same terms. Also it has been brought to the association’s notice that best varieties of grapes are not being purchased by some makers as such, but growers can deliver them and call them mixed for which they only receive £5 per ton as 12 degrees beaume. The wine-makers terms of purchase being mostly for four equal quarterly payments without interest. There are several growers who have been completely turned down, principally brought about by the fact that only a limited number of wine-makers are operating. Is the Government going to stand by and witness this disaster which some of the best sons of Australia are faced with. Or will the Government devise a scheme to enable the fixed prices to be received.
Keith L. Rainsford,
I wish to point out to honorable senators that these growers are offered £3 for doradillos, whereas the fixed price in 1927 was £6 10s., and in 1928 £5 15s. a ton.
I also have the following letter from the Grape-growers’ Association of South Australia, which represents the northern districts : -
I beg to advise you that the prices being offered for grapes this vintage are on various scales.
To-day I interviewed two wine-makers, who informedme that they intend paying for grapes the prices fixed by the Government. Then when I got to Penfolds’ Wines Limited, a list of which I enclose a copy, is seen posted up on their window. This for regular customers only, others will be obliged to accept loss again, and these are a few figures that were supplied to me - Frontignac, £6; Grenache, £4; Madeira, £4; Sercial, £3; Shiraz, £7; Sweetwater, £3.
The growers are being offered £6 for Frontignac, and the fixed price for 1928 is £9 10s., whilst the fixed price for 1927 was £10 10s. They are offered £4 for
Grenache, although the fixed price for 1928 is £8 5s. The letter continues -
Glancing over the whole list of prices one can see nothing but disaster staring at him, and if we ask who is to- blame for it we are fully convinced that the Government is not moving in order to assist the grower. After discussing the matter at length with several makers we are convinced that the only solution is the re-instatement of the bounty. We are fully aware of the fact that this request has time and again been refused us and the last time by the Minister of Markets at the Melbourne conference on9th January last. Notwithstanding all these rebuffs we again - both makers and growers - respectfully ask you ‘ to press the matter in the House. We have the definite promise from the Prime Minister himself that he would not let the grower go under, and we urge the Government to move in that direction if they are at all concerned about saving the industry.
I am also sending a copy of Penfolds’ price list to each the Prime Minister, the Minister for Markets and the Minister for Trade and Customs.
All of the prices mentioned are below those fixed by the Government. I have with me Penfold’s price list for the whole range of grapes, and not one quotation in the list comes up to the fixed price. The following telegram was received from the Southern growers: -
Sales have been made here as follow: - Grenache, four pounds; doradillo, three pounds; currants, six pounds five.
Bruce, Southern Grapegrowers.
The price fixed last year was Grenache £8 5s., and for the previous year £9 10s. a ton. Those fixed prices were regarded as being the lowest upon which the growers could exist. Consequently those growers, whose number includes some 2,000 to 3,000 returned soldiers, are in a deplorable plight, and it is imperative that something should be done to assist the industry. From the Clare district, an important area which has hundreds of vineyards, I received a communication indicating that the Stanley “Wine Company, in that district, was crushing only its own grapes for the present. It adds “ Whether they will take grapes from growers later, at the prices, is something for the future.” Lastly, I have a’ private letter, extracts from which read -
I hereby wish to draw your very urgent attention “to the position of the grape industry and to ask you to do your utmost to get the Government to help the growers. . . . One class is buying at the fixed price, but they are only buying about two-thirds of the estimate sent in by the growers, and one firm is only buying the white, or cheaper grape in particular. The other class are buying all they can get hold of at a reduction of £2 and over per ton, to customers, and a further reduction of £2 for all other grapes that are not taken by other wineries. The third class is not buying at all, as this is, in our area, a new establishment that could cope with a great portion of the crop, but owing to what I can understand, the reduction of the bounty and the unsatisfactory position of the export trade, they are crippled to such an extent that they cannot operate. The question is where is it going to end. We do not know yet if all our grapes will be taken. Who is going to help the growers meet their liabilities if this should be the case on top of the reduced price which is not in any way covering the cost of production.
Those communications indicate the seriousness of the position. The right honorable the Prime Minister recently received a deputation of South Australian grape-growers, and informed them that if it were found that our surplus wine could not be disposed of, and there was chaos in the industry, the Government would have to consider seriously what steps it should take to protect the growers. I believe that the Prime Minister at that. time was seriously concerned about the position of the growers, and I think I have said enough this afternoon to indicate that it is now most precarious. If the Government declines to reinstate the extra 9d. a gallon bounty, and refund some of the excise duty collected, and if it is impossible to induce the British Government to alter the incidence of its preferential duties, I fear that a considerable number of our growers will be forced off their holdings. The wine-makers are now buying wine grapes at several pounds a ton less than they paid for the same type of grapes last year. Doubtless they were making a fair profit on locallyconsumed wine at last year’s prices; but they are now buying at very reduced prices. If they sell their wine in Australia at previous prices they will make much larger profits, whilst the grapegrowers are faced with ruin. One suggested remedy is the introduction of a scheme on similar lines to the Paterson butter scheme, under which a levy could be imposed on wine produced for home consumption in order to create a fund for the export of the surplus.
– How will this bill alter the position of the industry?
– I appreciate all that the Government is doing, but I ask the Ministry to do more; I suggest that steps be taken to increase the bounty by 9d. a gallon until the position becomes normal. The reduction agreed to last year was, I believe, fatal to the industry. The Government should give careful consideration to the position of our growers.
– Why cannot they all co-operate and make their own wine?
– That is impossible at this juncture. Wine-making is a specialized industry, and 1 should be exceedingly sorry if any action were taken to interfere with it or impair its efficiency. I can assure the Government that country storekeepers, bankers, and commercial men are regarding the position of our growers with alarm. There are millions of pounds of public money invested in the various soldier settlement schemes, and I am afraid that much of it will be lost unless practical measures are taken to put the industry on a sound basis. The outlook in South Australia particularly is very grave, and demands immediate attention.
– I feel it is my duty to say a few words on this bill, for the reason that unless an honorable senator from a State other than South Australia takes part in the debate, the impression might be created that South Australia is the only wine-producing State in the Commonwealth. New South Wales grows large quantities of wine grapes and the wine industry in that State is an important one. I listened attentively to the remarks of Senators O’Halloran and Chapman. I congratulate Senator O’Halloran upon his speech, which was reasonable and fair. It is obvious that the honorable senator has made a thorough study of the industry. Senator Chapman has addressed himself frequently to this subject in the Senate, and while listening to him this afternoon, I could not help feeling that if Tom Hood were alive to-day and had heard Senator Chapman speaking about the state of the wine industry in South Australia, he could have written something infinitely more touching and effective about the troubles of the winegrowers, than he did about the seamstress whose calling he immortalized in “ The Song of the Shirt.” Three things seem to be clear from the speech given by Senator Chapman. The first is that nothing can be done to save the industry in South Australia.
– The second is that the wine-makers generally are scoundrels of the deepest dye!
– The honorable senator is not fair.
– I am afraid the honorable senator is taking my facetiousness rather seriously; but I can assure him that the impression which he gave me was that nothing could be done to save the industry. That was a fair deduction to make from his remarks. He clearly indicated that in his view the wine-makers were not dealing fairly and honestly by the growers, and he referred at great length to the fact that this year they were buying grapes at pounds a ton less than the price fixed by the Government.
– The third deduction I made from the honorable senator’s speech was that England was not playing the game with the Australian winemaker, because, so he told us, English wine-makers are importing must from Greece and other countries, and turning out a product which is being sold in the British market as British wine.
– They do the same thing with tomato sauce.
– Naturally manufacturers do that with all classes of commodities, and although the action of the British wine-makers may be disadvantageous to Australian growers of wine grapes, as a commercial proposition what they are doing is fair and reasonable enough. We have a similar experience in connexion with Australian wool, which British manufacturers make into woollen goods and sell as a British product. Senator Chapman has told us that the one thing necessary to save the industry is to restore the 9d. a gallon by which the bounty was reduced, and place the burden on the shoulders of the people of Australia.
– He believes in socializing the industry.
– That, too, is the view of the Government, if one may judge by the provisions of this bill, which goes * much further than any similar measure submitted to this chamber. The Government, realizing the seriousness of the position of the wine industry, and also its importance to Australia, has embodied in this measure certain provisions, which, in its opinion, will help the industry. I agree that it is of the greatest importance, not only to South Australia, but the Commonwealth as a whole. In 1926-27 we exported 3,077,588 gallons of wine, valued at £829,799. As we all know, the industry gives employment to a large number of persons apart altogether from the number of growers engaged in it, and to help the industry, the Government proposes to appoint a wine overseas marketing board. Speaking generally, I am reluctant to support proposals for the appointment of more boards. The Government has appointed many boards in recent years, and I think there is growing up among the people a feeling that the constitution of so many of these bodies is a negation of the principle of responsible government - of a government responsible to the people through its Ministers and heads of departments. It is true that the Minister in charge of the department under which the bill will be administered, will be responsible to Parliament; but the board will be vested Avith such wide powers that it will be almost impossible to fix responsibility on the Minister for its actions. It should be possible to attain the desired end without the appointment of a board. I suggest that what the board is to do might well be entrusted to a Government department already in existence, and, in England, to the High Commissioner’s office. Surely it should be possible to do through existing agencies, what is sought to be done by the appointment of this board, namely, to evolve a reasonable marketing scheme for Australian wine, both in Australia and in England. The Government, however, has decided upon the creation of a board. Let us consider what it will be called upon to do.
The particular powers to be vested in it are set out in clause 20 -
The board shall, with respect to any wine placed under its control, have full authority to make such arrangements and give such directions as it thinks fit for the following matters : -
Not only the wine to be placed under the control of the board, but the whole of the wine produced in Australia will be affected, because a board which controls the export of winewill also control the local market.
– The manner in which the board exercises its powers to sell the wine or to withhold it from sale, will determine the quantity to be placed on the Australian market, and, consequently, the price to be paid for grapes. That clause refers only to wine placed under the control of the board, but clause 28 goes further. It provides that -
Nothing in this act shall be construed to limit the power of the board to exercise, without the authority of the owner of any wine, any power with respect to such wine, which is expressly or by implication conferred on the board by or under this act.
Honorable senators will see how wide is the control which the board will exercise. I agree with the honorable senator opposite who described this measure as an instalment of socialism. If not actually socialism, it is as near to socialism as it is possible to get.
– The only thing which would make it socialism would be for its operations to be conducted at a loss.
SenatorDUNCAN. - That will probably be the result. It will not even be necessary for the board to have the authority of the owner of the wine to dispose of it. The board may take the wine at any time, and sell it to whom it pleases, and for whatever price it chooses to accept, without first obtaining the consent of the owner. It may be that that power is necessary. I take it that the Government has made inquiries, and that, on the information obtained, it has deemed it wise to vest in some body the authority to deal with the wine as it thinks best to meet the exigencies of the market and to obtain the best results. I do not say that the bill should not contain a provision giving the board these powers; I have referred to them merely to show the far-reaching nature of the measure and that it embodies a new principle. When it becomes law the growers of the grapes and the owners of the wine will no longer retain control of their own industry. Should the board consist of men of the best type, and function properly, no harm may come to the industry; but we have had experience of boards which have not functioned as Parliament expected they would. Should the board to be constituted under this measure not fulfil our expectations, the wine industry may be placed in an even worse position than it is in to-day. Nevertheless, I feel that some good may result from the establishment of the board, and that this measure will assist an industry which sadly needs assistance. In the hope that the bill will fulfil the Government’s expectations, I shall vote for the second reading.
– With most of the provisions of this measure I agree. The Government might have gone a step further and made it a. little more democratic by giving the grape-growers direct representation onthe board. It has been contended that the two members to represent the co-operative wineries and distilleries will, in fact, represent all the grape-growers. There are, however, not a great number of cooperative wineries and distilleries in Australia, so that there will be a great number of growers of grapes not represented on the board. Should the measure cause growers to organize to form cooperative distilleries it will accomplish some good, for then the growers, as in the case of the distillery at Berri, would export their own product, but until they so organize they should have some direct representation on the board. Those growers who are, as yet, unassociated with any co-operative wineries or distilleries can scarcely be other than disappointed with this measure. It is not too late for the Government, even now,, to rectify what I consider to be its chief defect and give them representation.
– Have they made representation in that direction?
– At a conference held in January last the growers asked for representation.
– It would appear cither that the Government has not heeded their representations or that it has not yet fully considered them. The large quantity of wine exported last year caused a glut of Australian wine on the London market. For that glut succeeding governments in South Australia have been largely responsible, for they forced returned soldier settlers to plant doradillo grapes on their holdings. The result was that whereas in 1919 grapes brought £19 a ton, in 1920 they were sold at £8 a ton; in 1921 at £5 a ton; with a further reduction to £3 in 1922. That, however, was not nearly as low as the price of grapes in 1904, when they were sold for as little as 30s. a ton. These low prices have meant that many growers have received less than the basic wage.
– There was a time when it was a profitable industry.
– That may be so, but the policy of forcing returned soldiers to plant doradillo vines inevitably led to overproduction, with the result that the price of grapes was so reduced as to make the industry unprofitable. When the Government decided to grant a bounty on wine exported many growers of grapes suitable for drying took them to the wineries and distilleries and had them made into wine, thus defeating the Government’s object. If in addition to a bounty on exported wine the Government had given a bounty of £10 a ton on exported dried fruits, that quantity of grapes which brought the present surplus of 3,000,000 gallons of Australian wine on the London market would not have gone to the distilleries.
– Is there any chance of the wine industry ever succeeding on its own basis?
– The grape growers recognize, as everyone does in Australia, that no government can continue paying a bounty for all time, and that there must come a time when it should stand on its own feet or be blotted out. Some of the growers I have questioned say, unhesitatingly, that they will be able to stand on their own feet in a few years.
– Under what circumstances do they say that they will be able to do so ?
– When they get a grip on the London market. They hope that within a few years they will be able to hold their own on that market. The immense good that has been done to the industry by the payment of the bounty is shown by some figures I shall quote as to our exports. Before the bounty was paid our export of wine was approximately 800,000 gallons a year, but thereafter the export for the respective years was -
There has been a decreased export since the bounty has been reduced. I think it would be a good policy to restore the 9d. a gallon for three years. If at the end of that time the industry was found to be unable to hold its own in the markets of the world, the Government would be justified in making a reduction of the bounty. Sooner or later there must come a time when a bounty has to be reduced. The idea of giving one is to help an industry for a few years until it has gained a footing.
I was speaking of the thousands of tons of grapes that were diverted from the dried fruits industry to the distilleries. In two years the quantity was 46,000 tons, which produced 3,680,000 gallons of fortified wine on which the bounty payable at the rate of 4s. a gallon was £736,000. If we deduct the excise collected which amounted to £230,000, it leaves a net Government payment of £506,000 on the product of that 46,000 tons of grapes. If the Government had given a bounty of £10 on the export of dried fruits, and if this 46,000 tons of grapes had not been diverted to the distilleries, it would have meant a saving of £130,000 to the taxpayers of Australia ; the grape growers would have continued producing grapes for dried fruits instead of taking this portion of their produce to the distilleries, and the enormous surplus of 3,000,000 gallons of Australian wine we have on the London market to-day would not exist.
We should continue to give encouragement to the grape-growers and winemakers until we can see clearly whether they are likely to succeed without the payment of a bounty. Of course, if they cannot do so, other means of helping them must be devised, or the industry must cease. It seems hard that people who have put their life’s work and all their savings into an industry, should be deprived of their means of existence. I do not know how long they expect the Commonwealth Government to continue paying a bounty. From what I can gather, many of them are under the impression that in three or four years’ time they will be able to get along without assistance. If they are correct in their forecast, I think the Government should put forth every effort to help them in the meantime.
Any one who wants to get an idea of what the grape-growing industry means to Australia, should take a trip through South Australia, which, I suppose, produces more grapes than all the other States put together. The people of South Australia anticipate a considerable development in the dried fruits industry. The late Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. H. E. Pratten) frequently told us that there was a market in Great Britain for all our dried fruits, but, in my opinion, we must advertise. I do not think we are doing sufficient in that direction. As a result of an advertising campaign the Victorian Railways Commissioners have succeeded in increasing the sale of fresh fruit by about £1,000,000 a year. The slogan “ Eat more fruit “ is seen everywhere in Victoria,. I think we should do something on the same lines to promote the sale of our wines and dried fruits in Great Britain. Until
Senator O’Halloran mentioned the fact, I did not know that unscrupulous exporters had sent inferior wines from Australia so that they might collect bounty on them. People who do that kind of thing ought to be prosecuted and compelled to pay the penalty of their dishonesty. The proposed control board should bring about more honesty in the export trade. I think the idea of having a control board is an excellent one. Senator Duncan has described it as a socialistic step. Whether it is or not I do not know, but it is certainly a democratic step which I commend. I hope the Government will make the control board more democratic by giving the well-deserving growers direct representation on it.
– I can inform Senator Chapman that the duty on returned casks has been removed. I thank honorable senators for the way in which they have received the measure. Most of the criticism of the bill has hinged upon the payment of the bounty on exported wine, but as that matter is not dealt with in this bill, I do not propose to refer to it. Senator O’Halloran says that the wine-makers are refusing to pay the fixed price for grapes bought under the bounty. When I was moving the second reading, I said, in reply to an interjection, that the levy imposed under clause 21 would be paid by the grape-growers. I should have said that the makers will be responsible’ for payment of it. If the makers do not wish to collect the bounty, the growers will have to take the best price offered for their grapes, and consequently cannot be protected; but if the wine-maker wishes to take advantage of the bounty he must pay the fixed price for grapes. I remind Senator O’Halloran, Senator Hoare, and some other honorable senators, who said that the growers should be represented on the board of control that the Government is giving them considerable representation through the co-operative wineries and distilleries, with which a good many of the growers are already associated.
– Some of the distilleries are over 100 miles away from their holdings.
– In any case it appears to me that the grape-grower is not interested to the same extent as the wine-maker, because after he has sold his grapes his responsibility ceases. The Government has gone as far as it should by giving representation to the growers through the co-operative wineries and distilleries.
The bill provides for the appointment of a board of control consisting of eight representatives and not seven, as I mentioned in my second-reading speech. The first draft of the bill provided that South Australia and Western Australia should share a representation of two but it has since been thought desirable to give Western Australia a special representative on the board, thus increasing the personnel to eight. Senator O’Halloran suggested that the board should control local sales, but that involves a constitutional question on which I am not prepared to express an opinion. The organization of the local market is a matter for the State governments to consider. The federal effort in the direction of controlling primary products has always been confined to exports; that is as far as the federal authority can go.
Senator Duncan rather deprecated the appointment of further boards and inferred that the appointment of this body would involve the Government in additional financial responsibility. That is not so. The board will be appointed by those directly concerned in the industry and the Government will not be involved in any expense. Senator Duncan also referred to clause 20 of the bill which provides that the board shall, with respect to any wine placed under its control, have full authority to make such arrangements and give such directions as it thinks fit in connexion with the matters set out in the clause. That clause merely gives the board control of wine voluntarily placed in its hands. If honorable senators refer to clause 17, they will see that the board may accept control of any wine placed in its hands for the purposes of this act. It is to deal with the organization of the overseas market and have power to appoint a London agency to conduct an advertising and sales campaign. Clause 17 gives it the power to become a marketing board. If a grower places a quantity of wine directly under the control of the board, it must have full power and authority to handle it.
This measure is an honest attempt to assist the industry. As the Minister for Markets and Transport (Mr. Paterson) said in another place, we believe that if such a board had been brought into operation some years ago, when it was offered, the wine industry would be in a better position than it is to-day. If by such an effort as this it is possible to establish the industry on a firm and satisfactory basis, it is much better than granting some form of artificial assistance. I trust that, as a result of this bill, which I hope the Senate will unanimously support, the grape-growing and wine-making industries will be placed on a more satisfactory basis, and that those concerned will experience a greater era of prosperity.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 -
– This clause provides for the constitution of a board of control. During my second-reading speech I said that there should not be any great difficulty in allowing the grape-growers to have at least one direct representative on the board. I, therefore, move -
That at the end of sub-clause 2 the following new paragraph be added: -
One member, appointed by the Governor-
General, who shall be nominated by the Wine Grape Growers’ Organization of Australia.
Such a member would represent all the grape-growers and would assist in protecting their interests. The grape-growers have recently formed a federal body, comprising the respective State organizations. In South Australia we have five district organizations; one representing the growers on the River Murray, another representing the growers in the south - the Southern Grape-growers Association, one in the midlands, which includes growers on the Adelaide plains and in the foothills, another in the
Barossa valley, and a northern organization which includes the growers at Clare and its environs. Some time ago these five organizations commenced an agitation for an Australian “Wine Grape-growers Council, and this was formed at a conference held in Melbourne in January of this year. If the Minister will agree to the amendment I have moved, that council will nominate a person to represent the growers on the board of control. As there is a good deal of suspicion in the minds of the growers, who do not think that they received a fair deal from the wine-makers prior to, and during the period in which the bounty was paid, I commend the amendment to the favorable consideration of the Minister. The growers will view with a good deal of suspicion the operations of a board upon which they have no representation. The Honorary Minister (Senator Ogden) urged that the co-operative organizations which he said embraced the growers, would be represented by two members on the board. lu South Australia there are two of the largest cooperative distilleries in Australia - one at Berri and another at Renmark. The Berri distillery is the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, but handles, almost entirely, doradillo grapes, and is engaged in the production of a spirit used in the manufacture of brandy and for fortifying purposes. The interests of the doradillo grape-growers, who control the Berri distillery, differ from those of the growers of other types of grapes, which number about 24, and which are used in the production of wines and kindred products. Further, it is impossible for the growers in the old-established districts at McLaren Yale or McLaren Flat, in the south ; in Adelaide or the foothills ; in tho Barossa Valley, or at Clare, to join up with the co-operative concerns at Renmark or Berri, because of the distance which separates them and the difference in the commodity which they are producing. I hope the amendment will be agreed to.
– I have much pleasure in seconding the amendment. The Minister in charge of the bill declares that the growers will have representation on the board by virtue of their being members of a cooperative distillery; but some of the South Australian growers are over 300 miles away from a co-operative distillery, and they would reap no benefit. Thousands of grape-growers will be left without representation on the board, so I urge the Minister to recognize the fairness of the amendment and to accept it. That would bring about general satisfaction to those interested in the industry. Coonawarra, in South Australia, produces some of the best grapes in the world - grapes which are peculiar in that they obviate the necessity for artificially blending brandy. With their aid that district manufactures as fine a brandy as can be produced anywhere. All the growers in that and other areas will be without representation if the Minister refuses to accept the amendment. Its acceptance would impose no hardship upon the wine-makers, but would lead the wine grape-growers of Australia to believe that the Government had dealt fairly by them. I fail to see any reason why the Government should withhold the privilege sought by these men.
– If honorable senators who support the amendment closely examined the position, they would realize that there is no justification for giving wine grape-growers representation other than that already provided in the bill. If it were a matter that concerned the marketing of grapes the claim would be unanswerable. As soon, however, as the grower sells his grapes to the wineries he is not further concerned as to their disposal, and it would be manifestly unfair to give him any voice in the control of the products of his grapes. There is every justification for giving representation to growers w ho are members of co-operative wineries, as they are concerned in the marketing of the wine. This bill is the result of a conference between the Minister and representatives of both growers and winemakers.
– At which conference the growers asked for representation on the board.
– All these points were discussed, and the bill as now drafted was the outcome of the deliberations. I am sorry that I cannot accept tLo amendment. The Government can go no further than to give representation ro co-operative institutions. I therefore urge honorable senators to vote against the amendment.
– I arn rather surprised at the arguments advanced by the Minister. He stated that the interests of the growers are not directly concerned.
– I did not say that.
– Their interests are directly and vitally concerned. I believe that the Government has introduced this bill to benefit the wine grape-growers and not the wine-makers. It is true that the grower’s interest in his grapes ceases when lie delivers them at the winery or distillery, but the whole purpose of the bill is to build up an organization whereby the grower Will re ceive a higher price for his grapes. It must be obvious that the wine-maker should pay to the grower a price in accordance with that which he receives for the product which he makes from the grapes. I fail to sec how the interests of the two sections engaged in the industry can bc separated. Senator Ogden stated that it should be to the interests of the wine-makers to obtain higher prices. Conversely, it should also be to their interests to pay the grower the lowest possible price for his grapes. Winemakers, like all others engaged in manufacturing, are not philanthropists.
– This board will have no control over the price of grapes.
– It seeks to control the export of our surplus wine production, and I can visualize circumstances arising when the interests of the wine-makers may be different from those of the wine-growers. I can see no objection to giving the growers one representative on the board. There would be no danger of the solitary representative outvoting the other representatives, but his presence on the board would give the growers that confidence in it which is so necessary if the bill is to succeed. It would also give greater stability to the board. It is because I wish to see the bill succeed, and because I believe that the board will operate in the interests of the industry generally, that I press my amendment.
, - The Minister appears to have regard only for the wine-makers. The grape-growers should also receive consideration. They are the stragglers. That wine-makers arc a wealthy section of the community is plainly evidenced by their palatial residences in South Australia. They have made an immense amount of profit out of the grape-growers, and that is why I am chiefly concerned about the latter. I am fighting for the bottom dog, the struggler who, as in this instance, frequently finds that he receives less than the basic wage when he balances at the end of the year. The growers are really entitled to two representatives, and there, can be no justification for a refusal to grunt them one representative. The presence of such a representative on the board would not imperil its operations. He could place before the board the grievances of the people whom he represents, who are the one3 really concerned. I believe that the bill is intended to help the grower, but the Government has not gone far enough. It should study the man who needs representation, the primary producer. If the primary producer is forced out of existence the wine industry, too. must go. The growers should receive more consideration than the winemakers, as they provide the material with which to make the wine.
– Senator O’Halloran’s amendment is so eminently sane that I cannot understand the objection raised by the Government. I take it that the purpose of the bill is to place the industry on a sound basis. If this is the desire of the Government surely it cannot ignore the foundation stone of the industry, the producer of the raw product? I am interested in the fruit industry of Australia to the extent that I have had to bring cases before our industrial courts on behalf of workers engaged in that industry. Invariably the plea of the growers to the court has been that they are compelled to fight the demands made upon them because they cannot obtain the price to which they are entitled. They always plead poverty. I believe there is some justification for their plea. But their position is largely the result of their own folly, as they do not organize as they should to get their fruit to the consumer - in this case the winemaker. I have personal knowledge of the fact that they, like growers of other fruits, are at the mercy of the middleman. Between the grower and the consumer there exists a gulf which can he bridged only by organization. I remember the time when an Arbitration Court judge, during the hearing of a case which I presented, went down the street to ascertain what was being done in regard to the marketing of fruit. He purchased apples, oranges and other fruit, and compared the price which he had to pay with that received by the grower. Afterwards he admitted that something should be done to relieve the grower of the disability under which he was suffering. The need of the grower is organization. The Government is now establishing a machine that will benefit the winegrowing industry of Australia, but it is neglecting the primary producer. Conflicting commercial interests are involved. We may be sure that the wine merchant will not display much sympathy for the growers. He will follow the universal practice of commercialism and, to increase his own profits, will force the grower to accept the lowest possible price. It is wrong to introduce legislation to protect only one wing of the industry. The Government proposes to give protection to the wine-maker by the appointment of a board, which will arrange for the marketing of the product in Great Britain, and yet it contemplates leaving the grower with absolutely no protection.
– This bill does not control the price of grapes.
– I am aware of that, but it does seek to secure the price for the wine-maker.
– The measure has nothing to do whatever with the purchasing of grapes.
– I know it has not, but the grape-grower is interested because the price obtained for the wine must indirectly, at all events, govern the price of the grapes. The wine-maker is to have an organization for the marketing of his product, but the grower is to be left at the mercy of the wine-maker. The amendment is so sane that I cannot understand why the Government is not prepared to accept it. The growers should have representation on a board that will control the destinies of a product in which they are interested.
– I suggest that the Minister should postpone consideration of the clause until after the dinner adjournment, during which he might consult with his colleagues and possibly see his way clear, when we resume, to accept the amendment moved by Senator O’Halloran.
– This measure has been fully discussed by all the parties interested. The object of the bill is to assist the growers.
– Why not give them representation on the board?
– When the grower has sold his produce to the winery it is then the business of the wine-maker to market his product. The provisions of the bill will assist to that end. The point raised by honorable senators opposite was not mentioned in another place, because it was realized that the bill had been drafted in accordance with resolutions agreed to at a conference of representatives of co-operative and privatelyowned distilleries, wine-makers and growers, who were unanimous concerning its provisions.
– They were not unanimous. The growers’ representatives pressed their claim for direct representation on the board.
– That is not so, as the recommendation of the conference was for only one representative of cooperative wineries and the Government is providing for two. I fail to see how the growers will suffer through not having direct representation. They will have representation through their co-operative institutions.
– It is not intended to give the grower representation as a grower, but as a member of a cooperative concern.
– As a member of a co-operative institution the grower is interested in following the wine to its destination, but the man who simply sells his produce to a winery disposes of his interest, and it is then the business of the maker to market the product. Senator Barnes seems to think that if growers had direct representation on the board they would have some control over the price to be paid for the grapes. That would not be the effect. The bill is designed to assist the growers, and I hope that the amendment will not be accepted.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Senator O’Halloran’s amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . 6
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to8 p.m.
Debate resumed (vide page 1379).
– All honorable senators must agree that the Government’s legislative programme is indeed disappointing. What do we find on a perusal of the GovernorGeneral’s speech? First, there is a reference to the Financial Agreement Validation Bill, a measure which, unfortunately, has been placed on the statute-book of the Commonwealth. I suggest that that measure should never have been passed by this Parliament, because in a few years it will result in serious financial embarrassment to the States. It will accentuate whatever financial difficulties the States now have to face; it will increase unemployment and render more complex the problems of development resulting in the Commonwealth being faced with greater problems because of the necessity of assisting the States. The Premier of South Australia now realizes that when he affixed his signature to the agreement he made a mistake.
– Is not that a reflection on a vote of the Senate?
– No. The Senate was asked to ratify an agreement which had been entered into between the Commonwealth and the States. It merely purported to give effect to the voice of the people expressed at the recent referendum. No blame is attachable to the Senate in the matter of the signing of the agreement. The fault, so far as South Australia is concerned, lies entirely with the Premier of that State in having consented to the terms of the agreement. In the Melbourne Age. of 18th March, the following appeared -
Surprise! was expressed by Mr. Butler, Premier, at the statement made by Senator Pearce that no provision had been made in the Federal Budget this year for a grant to South Australia, and that the Government would consider the matter in the Budget for 1930-31.
The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) has explained that he meant the year 1929-30. The statement in the Age continues -
The Premier said he was surprised in view of the fact that the special grant asked for was for this financial year, and was referred to in his budget. The statement made by Senator Pearce was extraordinary, in view of the fact that the report of the commission and its recommendations had not yet been received. Although no provision was made on the federal estimates for the payment of a special grant, he said, that did not prevent the Commonwealth Parliament by legislation making the payment retrospective, and if the commission recommended that a grant should be paid, that should certainly be done.
With those sentiments I agree. The commission was appointed to deal with the financial position of South Australia and to enable the Government to decide whether that State should receive assistance. If provision for some assistance has not been made on this year’s estimates, I suggest that attention be given to it next year and that it be made retrospective. The statement continues -
It should not be overlooked that no provision had been made for the payment of a bounty on coal, yet Mr. Bruce had agreed, subject to certain conditions, that money would be available to meet that liability.
South Australia was told that one of the reasons why financial assistance could not be given to that State was that provision had not been made in the estimates. Yet here we have the Premier of South Australia directing attention to a proposal of Mr. Bruce to grant a bounty on coal for which no provision had been made. The report continues -
The Premier added that it was no fault of the South Australian Government that the inquiries of the commission were not completed earlier. The report of the South Australian committee on the disabilities arising out of federation was completed on 12th December, .1927, and forwarded to the Prime Minister on 14th ‘December, 1927. It was not until approximately .six months later that the Commonwealth Government appointed a royal commission to inquire into the matter. That commission began its work in South Australia in August, 1928, and completed taking evidence at the end of November, 1928.
No report has yet been furnished by it, although nearly four months have passed. Although under the agreement South Australia transferred a good deal to the Commonwealth in the belief that the Commonwealth would render her financial assistance, that assistance will not be given this year, -and she only “ may :’ receive it next year.
– Who said that?
– The Disabilities Commission has not yet presented its report, and the people of South Australia are becoming suspicions. I hope that the Leader of the Senate will act upon thu suggestion of the Premier of South Australia and recommend that the payment to South Australia bc made retrospective.
Next in the Governor-General’s speech is a reference to the National Insurance Bill, to which I shall devote some remarks later. There is also a reference to the Government’s intention to repeal the coastal clauses of the Navigation Act. Apart from those proposals, and a few others of a minor character, the Speech contains nothing but vague statements regarding inquiries proposed to be made into various matters. A careful perusal of the speech reveals nothing definite in the way of assisting the progress and development of the Commonwealth. The people of this country want a government that will talk less and do more. Ever since the present Government has been in office, speech after speech has been made by its members as to what should be done to improve our financial position, increase production, develop our overseas trade, and bring about industrial peace. They have given expression to stereotyped phrases concerning maximum production, the elimination of waste, national efficiency, and increased production, but they have done little to bring about the results of which they have spoken.
Recently honorable senators listened to an illuminating address by Senator Lynch regarding the economic position of our rural industries. The Government never ceases to remind us that Australia is a primary producing country, whose prosperity depends on increased production. But what is the position in Australia to-day, compared with that of a few years ago ? In 1915- 16 the area under crop was 18,528,000 acres; in 1926-27, it was 17,772,000 acres. In 1915-16, the area under crop per 1,000 of the population was 3,16S acres; it had fallen to 2,908 acres in 1926-27. In 1915-16, 110,771 persons were engaged in rural occupations. Thar number increased later to 121,490, but the latest figures show a decrease to 5S,628, despite the fact that between 1915-16, and 1927-28 the population of Australia increased by 2,000,000.
– The Labour party has done a great deal to bring about the present unsatisfactory state of affairs.
– During that period the Labour party has been in a minority in the Senate.
– The same thing has happened in every country where conditions are comparable with those in Australia, because with improved machinery there is not the necessity for the same number of men as before.
– Now I can understand where the Government gets its support from. It is interesting to hear an honorable senator say that there is not the samo necessity to-day for large numbers of men on the laud as there was in 1915-16. We have better means of husbanding our products, but have we yet rilled the last acre upon which it is possible to grow wheat? Is it not possible to break up some of our large estates and settle, more people on the land?
– That is a matter f»r the States, not the Commonwealth.
– The Labour party adopted an effective method of breaking up large estates when it taxed them.
– The unimproved land values tax is still in operation.
– The Minister knows that Sir Sidney Kidman, one of the biggest landholders in Australia, received considerable taxation concession. If the Commonwealth Government decided that the big estates were to be subdivided, it could bring that about. It has the power to do so most effectively.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that Sir Sidney Kidman’s land is suitable for closer settlement?
– I suggest that sonic of the “ dummied “ land in the SouthEastern districts of South Australia is suitable for closer settlement.
– Sir Sidney Kidman’s land is mostly in the outback portions of the State, and is not suitable for closer settlement.
– He has 30 farms near Kapunda, inside Goyder’s line of rainfall.
– The 30 farms near Kapunda would support a large number of families; but they are not doing so. Sir Sidney Kidman also has farms in other parts of South Australia. If Senator Crawford would make himself acquainted with the conditions operating in the south-east of South Australia, where there is one of the richest agricultural belts in the State, he would find that a considerable area of land is locked up. He would be convinced that the Commonwealth should use its best endeavours, either by co-operation with the States, or by using its own powers of taxation, to have those lands unlocked. The States undoubtedly have the best means of breaking up large estates; but if they decline to become instruments for securing greater production within Australia, the Commonwealth Parliament, should not hesitate to make use of the means at its command to force their hands. But can honorable senators opposite point to one attempt which has been made by the Commonwealth Government to induce the States to break up these large holdings?
– There is a drastic land tax in Queensland, with a minimum of £300.
– And I understand that Queensland has made greater progress than any other State in the matter of production.
– That, is absolutely wrong. During the last fifteen years, while Labour has been in power in Queensland, there has been less secondary production and less closer settlement in the State than in any previous fifteen-year period.
– If Queensland is not playing its part in increasing production, what has the Commonwealth Government done to induce it to do so? As a matter of fact, it has done nothing practical, either by co-operation with the States, or by using its own powers to bring about greater production. What the States need is practical assistance, and not theoretical advice. It is useless to bring an economic mission from Great Britain to go all over Australia and give out high falutin’ phrases about something that we all knew beforehand, unless at the same time the Government is prepared to come down with a legislative programme of practical assistance to those who need it.
– Is the honorable senator suggesting an interference with State rights?
– If it is necessary to interfere with what the honorable senator regards as State rights in order to bring about greater production in our rural industries, I am prepared to do so. With me Australia always comes first. The time has come for deeds, and not words.
– What does the honorable senator suggest?
– I would suggest a general election if it were practicable. I remind honorable senators that the day of reckoning is coming when we shall all have to give an account of our stewardship.
The people outside are getting tired of the present Government. For some years it has had substantial majorities in both chambers. Three years ago it was returned on a false cry of law and order and made all sorts of promises ; and when it came before the people on the last occasion to give an account of its stewardship it raised the same cry. When the election was over we had the Treasurer saying that he was pleased that the people had “ so unmistakably endorsed again their confidence in the present Government. “ Let us see if it is an occasion for gratification or alarm on the part of honorable senators opposite. In 1925, on the Senate figures, the Labour forces were defeated by a majority of 279,000. In 1928 that majority was reduced to 27,000. There were 100,000 more formal votes cast in 1928 than in 1925, yet Labour reduced the anti-Labour majority by a quarter of a million votes in a poll of 2,905,000 formal votes. It increased its votes in 1928 by 181,000 over its 1925 poll, and at the same time the anti-Labour votes decreased by approximately 70,000. In New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia the Labour votes increased considerably. Furthermore, Labour gained eight seats in another place. It is true that after the 30th June next its ranks in this chamber will be depleted, but the seven honorable senators who will be in opposition will represent 49 per cent, of the electors of the Commonwealth.
For some considerable time past, we have read statements in the press, financial and otherwise, that the financial position of the Commonwealth is far from satisfactory. I shall have another opportunity of discussing this, but I propose now to refer briefly to the deficit, which was £2,628,743 last year, and this year promises to be augmented by another £1,000.000. The Treasurer was quite unperturbed by last year’s deficit and he stated that he would make it up out of the following year’s surplus. But so far this year we have the huge deficit of £1,000,000. The Treasurer has hopes of this being wiped out by increased customs revenue towards the end of the financial year and in the meantime makes no effort to curtail expenditure.
– Yet the honorable senator is suggesting that South Australia should have a special grant.
– I was expecting that interjection. Instead of treating a special grant to South Australia as Commonwealth expenditure, it should be regarded as a good investment. I do not complain about any expenditure which is incurred on productive work. My complaint is that the greater part of the deficit has been brought about by careless expenditure. The money has been poured down a sink. I contend that it is the Treasurer’s duty to endeavour to balance the ledger by the end of the financial year instead of trusting to luck and expecting it to automatically adjust itself. There are certain honorable senators opposite who regard themselves as capable business men; and who, if they had a man controlling their private affairs in the manner in which those of the Commonwealth are being controlled to-day, would sack him. Notwithstanding the way in which our finances are being handled we are asked to retain the services of a person who controls the finances of the Commonwealth as the Treasurer does.
– Labour governments have been budgeting for deficits for years.
– Yes, some of them have been compelled to do that in consequence of the muddled condition in which the States’ finances have been left by their predecessors. Labour was placed in power in Tasmania to right the affairs of that little island, and it did it most effectively.
– It did not.
– The anti-Labour forces in that State handed over the reins of government because they realized that there were only two means of salvation, one of which was the election of Senator Ogden to this Parliament and the other was to place a Labour government in power in that State.
The criticism of the policy of the present Treasurer is not confined to members of the Opposition, in both chambers. One supporter of the Government, in another place, was so outspoken in his denunciation of the way in which the Commonwealth finances had been controlled that the Prime Minister muzzled him by giving him a portfolio. The position is serious and the Treasurer must cease his extravagance. During the period he has been in office expenditure has increased by £16,500,000 and our overseas borrowing by over £80,000,000 sterling. If the Treasurer continues at that rate what will our position be in a few years ? For some years past we have enjoyed prosperity, due chiefly to our exports of wool, wheat and meat, and as a result of this the Government has gone on squandering millions without giving any thought to reverses which must eventually come. If, by any misfortune, our wool clip should decrease, or the prices of that commodity should decline to any considerable extent, our predicament would be too serious to contemplate. Prior to the Treasurer taking office he was a great advocate of economy, and time and again told the then Treasurer that he should cut his garment according to his cloth. That is the advice which we are tendering to the Treasurer to-day.
– In what direction should we economize?
– I shall, very shortly, deal with one important item in connexion with which economy could be effected. Recently the British Economic Delegation, in a long report, commented upon the general economic conditions in Australia. The delegation stated that whilst the financial position of Australia was sound, it was of the opinion that the Commonwealth was borrowing too freely, and that we would do well to restrict our loan expenditure to certain developmental works.
– The Labour Governments borrow very extensively; they are the greatest offenders.
– We all realize that a young country must borrow in order to carry out developmental works. This Government claims that the money it has borrowed has all been spent on reproductive works.
– Is the Oodnadatta to Alice Springs railway a reproductive work ?
– It will be when it is completed. Can the Government say that it has obtained satisfactory results from the money it has expended?
– What is the position in Queensland?
– The Queensland people are saying that a Commonwealth “sitting room” has been established in Canberra.
– The party to which the honorable member belongs strongly favored the establishment of the Federal Capital.
– I know that a majority of the Labour party at that time was in favour of a national capital, but some of them have since joined the party with which honorable senators opposite are now associated.
– Mr. Mahony, the ex-member for Dalley, who was a strong advocate of the Federal Capital, has not joined the Nationalist party.
– Some of those who strongly advocated the establishment of a national capital some years ago are not so keen about it to-day.
I now come to defence, in respect of which I suggest there is evidence of waste. It is not my intention to discuss the subject at length. No less than £58,000,000 has been spent on defence since this Government has been in power. What have we to show for that expenditure ?
– An uptodate fleet for one thing.
– We have two cruisers, two submarines and an aeroplane carrier. Is that an up-to-date fleet? We know where the Oodnadatta to Alice Springs railway will be, but we do not know where the submarines are.
– They are in Sydney Harbour.
– When speaking on the defence question in 1925, ex-Senator Drake-Brockman said that we were not getting full value for the money we were expending. During the period the present Treasurer has held office the revenue has increased annually until last year the receipts were £10,000,000 more than when he assumed office. Instead of adopting a sound financial policy under which the money would be spent in the best interests of the country, he has adopted a policy of drift.
– What of the increased expenditure on old-age pensions?
– The expenditure in that direction is not responsible for all the heavy increase.
– £2,000,000 has been spent on roads.
– A large portion of that amount has been collected in the form of a petrol tax. By adopting a foolhardy policy the Government is not deriving the best advantage from the. expenditure of money on road construction. As the result of one of the conditions imposed, South Australia has been compelled to sell portion of an up-to-date bituminous road construction plant. Under the present system the work has to be done by contract, instead of the Government competing with private contractors and giving the work to the lowest tenderer. The South Australian authorities know the local conditions better than the Federal Government. The Federal Government ought to be satisfied with mileage and construction details. The local authorities should be able to decide whether the work should be done by day labour or by contract.
In 1925, the Prime Minister definitely promised a scheme of national insurance against unemployment. By its failure to place this item on its legislative programme the Government has shown its hypocrisy and its indifference to the interests of the workers. The Prime Minister, in 1925, endeavoured to place himself upon a pedestal by saying in his policy speech that one of the main causes of industrial unrest was the ever-present dread that haunts the worker of the miseries that will be brought upon his dependants in the event of sickness or unemployment. He further said that there was no doubt that the economic conditions in most industries were such that they could not pay a wage that would enable the worker to make adequate provision against unemployment. The right honorable gentleman stated that as soon as the report of the Royal Commission on
National Insurance and Unemployment was received, the Government would legislate on such lines as to enable the workers to be insured against this deadly cause of anxiety and unrest. He made a definite promise which should have been honored. This subject was referred to on practically every election platform by supporters of the pact and used as a bait to secure the votes of the workers. The matter has, however, been left in abeyance.- The Government has always been seeking an excuse for dodging its obligations.
– The honorable senator, who has been condemning the Government for expending money, now suggests the expenditure of a huge sum.
– I have been suggesting that expenditure should be incurred in the right way. Nothing was heard of the national insurance scheme against unemployment until prior to the 1928 elections, when, as honorable senators know, the National Insurance Bill was introduced but it did not contain any provision for insurance against unemployment. In excusing his attitude, the Prime Minister, in his policy speech, in opening the 1928 election campaign pointed out that the royal commission which inquired into this subject found it impossible to prepare such a scheme owing to the absence of reliable statistics and data. It also found it impossible to make an accurate estimate of the cost of such a scheme. The right honorable gentleman further stated that the commission reported that a scheme of insurance against unemployment was impracticable until employment bureaux were established throughout Australia. As a further way out of the difficulty, the Prime Minister referred the matter to the Development and Migration Commission, which confirmed the views of the royal commission. After making further vague promise’s concerning unemployment insurance, the Prime Minister calmly placed the burden upon the shoulders of the States. It will be admitted by honorable senators opposite that if we are to have a scheme of insurance against unemployment it must be national in character. It can be legislated for only by the Commonwealth if it is to be effective. It must be ineffective if it is left to the States.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the States should abandon all their unemployment insurance legislation ?
– No. It is not necessary for them to do so. I suggest that national insurance against unemployment rests in the same category as child endowment, old-age and invalid pensions, and maternity allowances. None of those schemes could have been effective had they been mere State measures. It was realized that legislation was necessary to deal with big national problems, and this Commonwealth Government shouldered its responsibility so far as those matters were concerned. The only legislation which could give effect- to a scheme of national insurance against unemployment would be that passed by the Federal Parliament.
– It is a nation’s job.
– It is, and the Prime Minister regarded it as such in 1925. He did not for a moment suggest that it was a burden which should be borne by the States. He told the people of Austraila that the lack of it was one of the great causes of industrial unrest. It is also the reason why men rebel against the prevailing system of society.
– Would the honorable senator make the scheme a contributory one?
– Senator Ogden knows that the scheme would have to be a contributory one. I am endeavouring to find the reason for the changed attitude of the Prime Minister. In 1925 it was a national question. In 1928, when the right honorable gentleman was able to shelter behind the boards which he had appointed, he calmly told us that it was a matter which could not be dealt with effectively by the Commonwealth ; that it must be attended to by the States. Speaking in 1925, this self-same leader, behind whom honorable senators opposite range themselves, said -
For any national loader to-day to deceive the people by promises which either for financial or constitutional reasons, he could never redeem, would constitute a betrayal of the objectives and duties resting upon him which would never be forgotten.
In 1928, the right honorable gentleman made a similar statement, as follows: -
Any one who endeavoured to mislead the people to obtain a political or party advantage would be recreant to the great responsibilities of his position, and would be justly condemned as one who had failed in a great and sacred trust.
What lofty sentiments! Honorable senators opposite cheered the Prime Minister when he gave utterance to them. I wonder what they will say when they realize how he has failed to live up to them. No matter how honorable senators opposite twist those statements, the fact remains that, in 1925, the Prime Minister considered that unemployment insurance was a national and practicable question, and he told the people clearly and unequivocally that he would introduce legislation to deal with it.
Honorable senators must realize that unemployment is a very serious problem. It was originally the belief of this Government that it could be partially alleviated by the introduction of a scheme of this description. A commission was appointed which, in effect, declared that it was not competent to deal with the matter, as it could not obtain the necessary statistical data. Instead of the Government probing the matter further, it simply evaded the issue. It is unnecessary for me to remind honorable senators that thousands and thousands of unemployed are walking the streets of our various capital cities to-day.
– Many of whom would not be doing so had they not been interfered with.
– That section represents a very small minority, and plays a negligible part in the real unemployment trouble that is in our midst to-day. The honorable senator knows that the immigration policy of this Government affords one of the reasons why we have so much unemployment in Australia today.
– That is not so.
– The honorable senator cannot demonstrate that it is possible to take more out of a vessel than one can put into it.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that this country cannot absorb any more people!
– No, but there is a good deal of difference between the policy of the Labour party in regard to migration and that of the Government.
– The Labour party has no immigration policy, except that of keeping migrants out.
– The Labour party is not opposed to immigration. It would bring to Australia 5, 10, aye, 50 million migrants if we could provide work for them. But it is not prepared to bring migrants into this country merely to allow them to starve or to push a decent Australian out of his job and leave him and his family to starve.
– This Government has brought out migrants only at the request of the States.
– That is an inaccurate statement. The honorable senator realizes, too, that there are very few State Labour governments in power in Australia. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the States decided that immigrants should be brought to Australia, is not the Commonwealth Government charged with the duty of inquiring from the States what they intend to do with those immigrants when they arrive?
– All immigrants have a guarantee of employment.
– I can take the honorable senator to the city of Adelaide and show him many hundreds of migrants walking the streets looking for work, and the position is the same in other States. Until Australia is able to absorb immigrants it is a foolhardy policy, destined to create hardship and privation, to bring them here.
– That is not so, because immigration makes work.
– If the honorable senator were honest he would admit that ho believes in a policy of immigration merely because it tends to keep the supply of labour in excess of the demand, so that wages and conditions may be kept at a low standard.
– The honorable senator misrepresents me.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands). - Order! Senator Crawford will have an opportunity to talk upon the subject later.
– I cannot explain Senator Crawford’s attitude on any other hypothesis. Now we como to the vexed question of the board. This Government is controlling the country by appointing a board practically every month. Ever since the Bruce-Page Government has been in office it has had a mania for appointing boards and commissions, and by so doing has reduced administration by delegation to a fine art.
– That argument smells very stale.
– It may be so, but it will bear repetition.
– It does not smell nearly as strong as the policy itself.
– That is so. The Government still continues to appoint boards of inquiry, and it has a very happy knack of getting out of awkward positions. I should like the Leader of the Senate to justify the appointment during the six-year Bruce-Page regime of 58 boards, at a cost of more than £440,000.
– What about appointing a board to inquire into land dummying in South Australia?
– There is no need to do that. Honorable senators are paid £1,000 a year to do their job, and they should be prepared to do it. It is possible to pass legislation in this Parliament which would enable us to discover the existence of dummying. We have means whereby we could discover the extent of a man’s income and property, and could very soon find out what dummying existed. No doubt if a board were appointed to investigate the matter, it would be unable to present a report because of the lack of statistical data. Honorable senators on this side are not the only people who complain about such appointments and extravagance, and .we urge the Government to alter its policy. We appeal to the Country party section which is sitting behind the Government to repudiate its latest decision, in which it encourages the appointment of boards to inquire into all and sundry matters. It is the opinion of this party that such matters can be properly dealt with in this chamber. The necessary administrative staffs are available, and any data could be collected by them. After it was collected we could come to a decision on the matter just as easily as the boards to which the Government pays so much hard cash. [ understand that this is the last week of the session. I hope that honorable senators opposite will resume work with their minds refreshed, prepared to regard these problems not from a narrow party point of view, but with the knowledge that they are representing in this chamber 51 per cent, of the population, while honorable senators on this side are, temporarily, representing but 49 per cent. If the combined brains were applied to the task, I see no reason why we could not solve the grave problems which confront Australia. They will certainly never be solved by political bickerings and recriminations.
– The honorable senator had better take that advice to heart, as he is not setting a very good example.
– If I were guilty to the extent that the present Government is, I would admit that any censure was deserved. It cannot be claimed that, because a father castigates his son for doing something wrong, the father is out to create dissension in the home. He would merely be doing his duty. I am the Acting Leader of the Opposition, and it is my duty, when certain complaints are levelled against the Government, to ventilate them before this chamber to the best of my ability.
– Even if they are not right ?
– My party has never asked me to do anything wrong.
– The honorable senator has not been here long enough.
– I have been here long enough to know that if honorable senators who are supporting me had their just reward, they would to-day be sitting on the ministerial bench. If we were in power, and if the right honorable the Leader of the Senate, as Leader of the Opposition had castigated the Government for its shortcomings - if it had any - we should not treat his criticism as being personal or take umbrage at his remarks. I hope that after the recess honorable senators supporting the Government will be prepared to listen carefully to our representations and suggestions for the solution of the many problems that confront us.
– It would, I think, be a reflection upon the Senate if the debate on the first reading of this bill were allowed to pass with only two speeches, one by the Leader of the Senate in introducing it, and the other from Senator Daly, as Leader of the Opposition.
– It is not usual to debate details of the Supply Bill on its first reading.
– I understood, from the way in which the debate was going, that an arrangement had been arrived at between the Leader of the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition to debate the bill on the motion for the first reading.
– It is usual to debate the bill on the motion for the second reading.
– That being so, I shall reserve my remarks until that stage of the bill is reached.
.- There are one or two matters to which I desire to direct the attention of the Ministry and I consider this is an opportune time to do so. In the first place I “wish to complain of the delay that has taken place in considering the application for registration, made towards the end of last year by the Australian Seamen’s Union to the Registrar of the Arbitration Court. As honorable senators are aware the Seamen’s Union of Australia lost its registration as a result of its foolish action some years ago. Many members of that organization sincerely regretted the cancellation of registration. For some time there has been a cleavage in the ranks of the seamen serving on the Australian coast, but a substantial majority of the men are now in favour of again seeking registration with the court. This matter concerns all honorable senators, and especially Government supporters who are the real champions of arbitration in this branch of the legislature. One honorable senator who will take his seat on the 1st July next, I refer to Senator Rae, has expressed himself as definitely opposed to arbitration. All honorable senators on this side are sincerely anxious that the employees iu Australia should be encouraged to work contentedly under awards of the Federal or State Arbitration Courts.
– What is the reason for the delay in registering the Australian seamen ?
– Towards the end of last year an industrial organization known as the Australian Seamen’s Union, lodged an application for registration with Mr. Stewart, the registrar of the court. In the ordinary course the application should have been dealt with before the end of the year, but immediately it was made another section of seamen formed themselves into an organization and they, too, applied for registration, their object, apparently, being to frustrate the efforts of the seamen who had lodged the first application. 1 have no wish to criticize unduly the action of the Registrar, but for some reasons best known to himself, instead of dealing with the first application with reasonable promptitude, he waited for the expiration of the time allowed for objections in regard to the second application, his intention, probably, being to consider both at the same time. I know of no reason why the applications should be treated in that way. The Australian Seamen’s Union represents the majority, and comprises the very best elements of seamen serving on the Australian coast. They have furnished the court with the rules of their organization and have given an undertaking that, if granted registration, they will loyally abide by the court’s decisions. The delay in dealing with that application is doing serious harm, because opponents of arbitration will use it as an argument why the court should not be availed of to its fullest extent. They will be able to point out that although the Australian Seamen’s Union made application for registration as far back as November last, the application has not yet been dealt with. Some members of the organization have already been victimized by the “ red “ element of the old seamen’s union, who are opposed to arbitration, and whose application for registration was lodged for the purpose of delaying the registration of the bona fide organization. The extreme section of seamen is associated with the Australa sian Council of Trade Unions, which has definitely dissociated itself from all proceedings before the Arbitration Court and which body is also repudiated by the Australian Workers Union. All genuine industrial organizations that seek registration in the Arbitration Court should be encouraged, and in the case of this seamen’s union, the hearing of its application for registration should be expedited. As large numbers of plaints for variations of existing awards or for new awards are lodged with the court, it follows that, in fairness to all concerned, they should be considered in rotation ; but this application by the Austraiian Seamen’s Union for registration is in a different category, and it should not have been delayed. It is difficult for the Senate to inform the Registrar that he should expedite the hearing of the application, but I trust that the publicity which is now being given to the matter will result iu the machinery of the court being set in motion for the hearing of the application without further delay. The seamen belonging to the organization mentioned earnestly desire to carry on their industry in peace, and they are becoming restive at the delay.
There is one other matter to which I desire to direct attention. As honorable senators know, I asked recently a series of questions relating to the application of the Commonwealth housing scheme to Queensland. Almost every day I am in receipt of letters from people in that State inquiring when the Commonwealth scheme, which is being operated in every other State, will be available to the citizens of Queensland. I may add that Mr. McCormack, the State Premier, besides failing to take advantage of the Commonwealth’s scheme, has closed down on the State home building activities, with the result that the people of Queensland are unable to get assistance for home building. It is to be deplored that owing to an oversight, or because of the stupid action taken by the Premier, they should be the only people in Australia who are debarred from the benefits of the Commonwealth housing scheme. The ‘ War Service Homes Commission is working satisfactorily in Queensland and the Commonwealth Bank has branches throughout that State.
– Has the State a housing scheme also?
– Yes, but it has been suspended for want of funds. One would think that, in the circumstances, the Government of Queensland would be glad to take advantage of the Commonwealth housing scheme. I hope that before long the machinery of the War Service Homes Department or of the Commonwealth Bank, will be set in motion to operate the Commonwealth Housing Act so that the people of Queensland who desire homes may be able to get them. Fortunately, a State election will be held on the 11th May, when I predict that the Labour Government will be defeated. It would rake me all night to tell of the many misdeeds of that Government; but I feel that its reign is nearing the end, and that after the election, the new Premier, Mr. Moore, will not be so short-sighted as the present Premier, but will avail himself, on behalf of the people of this State of the generous offer of the Commonwealth to assist the people of Australia to obtain homes. Should the jerrymandering of electorates, or the sniffing of the rolls keep the present Labour Government in office in Queensland, I trust that efforts will nevertheless be made to make the Commonwealth housing scheme applicable to that State.
– A matter which has been discussed on many occasions, both in this chamber and in another place, is the necessity for improved shipping services between Tasmania and the mainland. In his policy speech, the Prime Minister announced the Government’s intention in this connexion. He said that the Government proposed to call for tenders for an improved service along the lines outlined by the Public Accounts Committee. That has been done, but I understand that the Government considers the tender price for the proposed services to be too high. I am unable to say whether or not that is so. I only know that some action should be taken to improve the services between Tasmania and the mainland. Within a few weeks passenger communication between Sydney and Hobart will cease, in which case, the only services will be those between Launceston and Melbourne and between North-
Western Tasmanian ports and Melbourne. There is a difference of opinion in relation to the shipping service between Launceston and Melbourne, because of the desire of the Postmaster-General’s Department that ships shall run to a timetable and that mails shall be delivered when the tide is unsuitable for vessels to negotiate the upper reaches of the river Tamar. The people of Tasmania are becoming impatient regarding the promise of a better shipping service. They appreciate what the Commonwealth Government has done to encourage development, but they realize that all its efforts will avail nothing unless proper communications are provided. It is essential to Tasmanian interests that these services be improved. I should like the Leader of the Senate when replying, to indicate the Government’s intention in this matter. When the vote for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department is before us, I hope to have an opportunity to refer to the proposed mail contract.
.- 1 listened with a great deal of attention to the criticisms levelled at the Government by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Daly). One statement he made, if not contradicted, might convey a false impression outside this chamber. The honorable senator said that during the present Treasurer’s term of office, the expenditure of the Commonwealth had increased by £16,500,000 per annum, and he asked what we had to show for that expenditure. I have obtained the financial papers for 1921-22, the first year of the present Treasurer’s term of office, and I find that the total expenditure from revenue in that year was £65,106,949. The estimate for 1927- 2S was £62,725,000, but the actual expenditure was a little over £63,000,000. Even then it was less than it was in 1921-22. I suggest that Senator Daly should be more careful in presenting figures to the Senate. I hold no brief for the Government, but I support it and in many directions it has done well by Australia. It is true that, like every other government, it has made mistakes, but, considering the extent of its operations, no honorable senator can blame himself for supporting it.
We Lave heard from Senator Daly a good deal about the failure of the Government to promote land settlement. I come from Tasmania, the smallest State in the Commonwealth, and I know what has been accomplished there in the way of closer settlement. The people of South Australia should look to their own affairs. If there are lands in that State which are not being put to their best use, it certainly is not to the credit of those in power that steps have not been taken to put them to better use. That is a matter for the State authorities, although I admit that the Commonwealth is indirectly concerned because the Commonwealth is interested in the development of all the States. Yet, if it attempted to interfere in the domestic policy of any State, all political parties would rightly resent its interference. I suggest that during the forthcoming recess Senator Daly and his colleagues should endeavour to awaken public opinion in matters of land settlement. If they do so, they may achieve their desire, and effect the sub-division of estates which are capable of maintaining a much larger population.
The Government has been criticized in connexion with its expenditure on defence. It has been asked what it has to show for the £58,000,000 spent. There is a good deal to show for that expenditure, although it must be remembered that defence equipment often speedily becomes obsolete. Honorable senators in discussing defence expenditure should not lose sight of that fact. Our expenditure on defence has been kept as low as possible consistent with our own security and our obligations to the rest of the Empire. We should be recreant to our trust if we did not do our fair share towards the defence of the Empire of which we form a part.
Senator Daly also criticized the immigration policy of the Government. I believe that an immigration policy is essential to the best interests of any community, provided that it is reasonably administered. I do not agree that the Government’s immigration policy has, to a great extent, been responsible for the present unemployment in Australia. My knowledge of the immigrants who have come to Australia leads me to the conclusion that their coming here has not con- tributed largely to the unemployment problem. Many things have contributed to Australia’s existing unemployment problem; but there are two primary causes. The first is the increased cost of production brought about by the imposition of high rates of duty. I am a protectionist; but I claim to be a sane protectionist. During the last few years we have sought to encourage the establishment of industries by the imposition of duties almost on the prohibitive line; but some of those industries have failed, and their failure has brought in its train a condition of unemployment. The other primary cause of unemployment here is the constant dislocation of trade brought about by the failure of those engaged in industry to observe the arbitration laws of the country. For example, the timber workers’ strike, which directly affects a comparatively few thousand of workers, has, unfortunately, caused loss of employment to a great many others. The ranks of the cabinet-makers, carpenters, polishers, and upholsterers in employment have been seriously depleted. Many of the men engaged in these callings arc walking about the streets anxiously awaits ing the day when they can be re-engaged. Last week-end in Sydney I met many of them in the streets. The staffs of furniture warehouses and retail establishments have been reduced, because supplies of materials cannot be obtained. Quite recently I heard some of the speeches in the Sydney Domain, and noted that an effort was being made to accentuate the present trouble by advocating that other trades which may have some connexion with the timber trade should be declared “black.” Dislocation of trade by industrial disputes has a great effect on our unemployment problem. Some time ago I said that I thought that our present difficulties would prove a lesson to the workers. To-day I express the belief that many of the men are ready to throw off the thraldom to which they have been subjected for so long in Australia.
– There is no hope of that.
– I trust * that the majority of them will realize the folly of bowing to the dictates of a few, whose chief purpose seems to be to bring about strife and trouble in industry. When we overcome that difficulty, we shall go a long way towards solving our unemployment problem. But, even with its present difficulties, there is no country in the world that gives its people such favor able conditions as Australia. I could understand dissatisfaction among the workers if they were living in a country where the conditions are intolerable; but any one who has visited other countries must know how blessed we Australians are in the comforts we enjoy.
– The trade union movement has made them possible.
– The trade union movement of years ago may have done so; but it has not the same objectives to-day. It has now abandoned most of its principles - the big things that lifted the workers to a higher level have been discarded and paltry things, calculated to bring the good workman down to the level of the inferior workman, have obtained pre-eminence.
I want to supplement the remarks made by Senator Herbert Hays about the absolute need for at once improving the unsatisfactory means of communication between the mainland and Tasmania. The people of Tasmania have suffered for many years a very unsuitable and inadequate means of communication. Although the State is a small one, it is capable of great development, and, as a matter of fact, is in a far better position to-day than might reasonably have been expected of it, handicapped as it has been during the last fifteen or twenty years. Last year the Public Accounts Committee, after a close and complete investigation of the means of communication with Tasmania, recommended an improved steamship service between the island and Melbourne, and the Government subsequently promised that that improved service would be provided. But many months have elapsed and the service is still the same. I say without hesitation that it is the duty of the Government to see that the improved service recommended by the Public Accounts Committee, and promised by the Prime Minister, is provided at the earliest possible moment. I know that the steamship company has demanded a very much increased subsidy for an improved service, but if in the opinion of the Government the subsidy asked for is too high, I trust that no stone will be left unturned to approach the company with a view to inducing it to accept a reasonable subsidy. Of course I am not in a position to say what the amount should be - that is a matter which rests with the Government - but I claim that Tasmania can no longer be permitted to be as heavily handicapped as it has been by the retention of a service which is inadequate, and particularly so in the case of one port. It is obsolete and unsuited for present day traffic. I am aware that the steamship company is doing the best it can with the vessels at its disposal, but the recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee was that a better type of steamer should be secured so that the public might travel between the mainland and the island in real comfort. Tasmania offers an opportunity to avoid the intense heat of the summer months in other parts of the Commonwealth, and if a reasonable service is provided the tourist traffic, which is very important to the people of the State, may easily be quadrupled within a few years.
.- I do not know whether the position of Australia in regard to unemployment is worse than it is in other countries, but it is certainly very bad. Hitherto we have been able to keep our people fairly well employed at decent rates of pay, and under decent conditions of labour. It has been left to the present Government to so mismanage affairs, that we are now practically in the position of older countries that have all the bad old traditions associated with legislation passed by those who are accustomed to dominating the real wealth producers. But that the Commonwealth Government has been influenced by elements outside Australia, we should not have had to face a similar condition of affairs which is being brought about here. It is useless for honorable senators opposite to interject, as they have done tonight, that no migrant is brought by the Commonwealth Government to Australia except at the request of a State Government. Even if that be the case the Commonwealth Government has the means of creating employment which were used by Labour when it was governing Australia. At that time there was a huge influx of migrants, but there was no unemployment. Australia could absorb the migrants as fast as they came. Avenues of employment were created in the only possible way. There are thousands of young trained Australians who are looking for land, and they have not had the means of getting it. Large areas of the valuable lauds of Australia have been taken up by persons who are holding them to the detriment of the progress and prosperity of the general community. I cannot see any justification for the policy under which a person is allowed to hold an area of, say, 5,000 acres and not put it to its full use when 1,000 acres are sufficient to enable him to make a really good living. Many land-holders, controlling areas largely in excess of what they are able to properly handle, expect men to be hanging over their gates during the few weeks of the year in which they employ labour and grumble if that labour is not available, lt is the duty of ihe Government to introduce a policy under which the land would be put to its best possible use. In that way it would assist to provide employment for thousands of deserving men who are walking the streets today.
– What power has the Federal Government to compel the subdivision of large estates?
– The Labour Government imposed a land tax which had the effect of breaking up many large estates; but the most effective provision in the act under which that tax was imposed, has been so amended by subsequent administrations that it is not now effective in that respect. The majority of migrants coming to Australia are not familiar with Australian methods of agriculture and so are not qualified to settle upon the land and work it with the best results to themselves and to the country. On the other hand, thousands of men in Australia, who have had considerable experience in rural pursuits are anxiously waiting for land on which to commence operations on their own account.
The Labour party’s attitude towards immigration has been misrepresented to the country. It has been said that the members of our party do not wish migrants to come to Australia; but I should not care twopence if the 2,000,000 Britishers alleged to be out of work in Great Britain were dumped in Australia to-morrow, provided that work was available for them. They are of the same stock as those who came here in the pioneering days, and if given similar opportunities would meet with the same success as our forefathers.
– The same objections as to want of employment were raised in the days of which the honorable senator is speaking.
– Surely Senator Thompson does not subscribe to a policy under which people are induced to come to a country under false conditions? I have seen pamphlets distributed by immigration agents containing absolutely false information concerning the opportunities for employment here. Many British migrants, on finding what the conditions actually are in Australia, prefer to return to the Old Country, where, we are told, there are 2,000,000 unemployed, rather than endeavour to establish themselves in a strange land. These arc facts which no one can truthfully deny.
It is said by supporters of the Government that the industrial unrest, which has been prevalent in Australia during recent months, has been caused by agitators. I suppose I have had as much training and experience in the industrial field as any man in Australia, and my opinion is that those who are alleged to be the cause of industrial unrest - I refer to the paid organizers - are really those who are most anxious to avoid it. Disputes in industry give the paid officials of trade union organizations a tremendous amount of worry, and it is not pleasing to them to realize that they are receiving their salaries whilst those whom they are advising are not drawing their pay. During industrial disputes it is the custom of paid officials to dip very deeply into their own pockets to assist their fellow workers ; whereas that is unnecessary when the men are at work.
– Why were the men ir the timber mills called out?
– Because the circumstance justified it. Are the workers expected to sit down and take the lash every time?
– Did they disobey an award of the court?
– Yes, and the circumstances justified it. I know why the timber workers went on strike.
– Because they were wooden-headed.
– No, they are stout-hearted nien, and can always put up a fight when the circumstances warrant, it. Notwithstanding my advocacy of and belief iri arbitration, there are times when, even under an arbitration system, men are justified in doing almost anything. lt is time honorable senators opposite realized the actual situation. An award of the Arbitration Court which is most unjust cannot be accepted by the mcn. Are the workers - the wealth producers of this country - always to be punished ?
– Even if the workers consider that an award is unjust should they disregard it?
– The award in the timber workers’ case is the most objectionable imaginable. Perhaps honorable senators opposite are not aware that, in addition to the hours of the timber workers being increased from 44 to 48 their wages were reduced by from 18s. to 20s. a week, and in the case of boys under 21, by 26s. a week. Men would be les3 than human if they accepted such conditions without a murmur.
– Why were the timber workers called out in Tasmania?
– I have said that circumstances justified it. Men whose wages have been reduced to the extent I have mentioned must be expected to strike. The Government is responsible for all the trouble by appointing utterly incompetent persons to positions of authority and of great power. Notwithstanding this, honorable senators opposite refrain from making any attempt to improve the situation.
– Are we to understand that, in the honorable senator’s opinion, a judge who makes an award which is not acceptable to the men, is incompetent 3
– No ; but the men cannot be expected to take all the kicks and cuffs. The Government possesses the power, but has not the courage to use it. There is not an honorable senator opposite who can justify the reduction in wages made in the Lukin award. Big business men and capitalists in other countries are endeavouring to influence the authorities in Australia to assist in a reduction of wages and to interfere with the standard of living here, which, they say, are too high, and are affecting the industrial position of other countries. It is interesting to note that in two different Arbitration Court awards made within a month of each other, the basic wage in one instance was fixed at £4 9s. 6d. and in another at £3 14s., or a difference of 15s. 6d. a week. Honorable members opposite are continuously complaining of the industrial unrest in Australia; but they do not consider the cause of all the trouble or endeavour to assist the men who have been unfairly treated. Notwithstanding my objections to the weapon of the strike, which in my opinion is the last weapon that workers should use, I am fully convinced that men should not submit to gross injustice such as many have had to do during recent months. It is the duty of the Government to remove the cause of the trouble and thus enable industry to carry on under peaceful conditions.
There are many troubles for which the Government is responsible. Considerable dissatisfaction has been expressed with the electoral laws of the Commonwealth. It would seem that they are capable of being gravely misused, to the hurt of the people. We have recently had some little trouble which has resulted in a great number of men and women of Australia being disfranchised. It would appear that certain persons in responsible positions have grossly misused their power to the detriment of people who have a right to be represented in this Parliament. A large number of electors clearly indicated the manner in which they desired to record their votes at the last election, but as the result of the decision of an individual, a large number of electors have been most unfairly treated.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of “ sacking “ the judge who heard that case, as well as certain Arbitration Court judges?
– I think that the circumstances suggest it. At any rate, I do not think that any lawyer in Australia could be found to agree with him, or that even honorable senators opposite agree with him.
– In the opinion of the honorable senator, a judge who disagrees with his view is always wrong.
– I do not think that. On one occasion this learned judge gave excellent information to Parliament, upon which it based an amendment of the law.
– Does not the honorable senator consider that it would be better to amend the act rather than to blame the judge?
– Some one must have the courage to drag these matters into the limelight. That would never be done if honorable senators on this side went about with their eyes shut, like Senator Payne.
– I do not-
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands). - Order! Senator Payne has already addressed the Senate, and I request him to allow Senator Barnes to make his speech in his own way. He must desist from interjecting.
– It is necessary for some one to drag these matters into the open and have them righted, if possible. I am not an aggressive person, and I dislike being nasty to anybody, but the time comes when even a worm will turn, and when this worm turns he is not very particular about whom he talks. A member of Parliament is granted immunity when speaking on the floor of the House, and the history of the British Empire shows the necessity for the practice, and the great advantages which have accrued from it. Parliament is a place where a man cannot be gagged or threatened with law proceedings by those who desire thathis mouth shall be kept closed. Some may, if they desire, call it a coward’s castle, but I do not view it in that light. Honorable senators are elected by the people of Australia, and are here to act in their welfare. Every time that we hear of what we believe to be an injury that has been done, whether by a judge of the Arbitration Court, a judge of the High Court, or anybody else, it is our duty to ventilate the matter, and expose the person responsible.
– Order ! The honorable senator is not in order in criticizing the judiciary.
– He has been doing that all through.
– I call upon Senator Payne to withdraw that observation.
– I am prepared to withdraw it, but I cannot close my ears to what I hear.
– I ask the honorable senator to withdraw his observation unconditionally.
– If you insist, sir, I must withdraw. But I would like to say a little more.
– Order ! The honorable member has not withdrawn his observation to my satisfaction, and I ask him to do so.
– Do you, sir, object to my statement that Senator Barnes has been criticizing our Arbitration Court judges throughout his speech?
– The honorable senator has reflected on me in my capacity as president by suggesting that I have allowed Senator Barnes to say something that is contrary to the Standing Orders, and I ask him to withdraw that observation.
– I withdraw anything that is considered to be a reflection on the Chair.
– I had no idea that I was casting a reflection upon any judge. I very much regret it if I did. I was merely referring to the privileges of Members of Parliament that, whether a person of whom complaint was made was a judge or anybody else his actions could be discussed in this Parliament, which has the necessary powers conferred upon it. Surely I, as a representative of the people, am entitled to say that. I did not specify any judge, but expressed my views in a general way, to record what I believe to be the opinions of the people who sent me here. It appears to me that a glaring injustice is being done. Had I the honour to be an honorable senator opposite, with the power at my disposal to remove the injustice to which I have referred,I should be wanting in my duty if I failed to see that that was done.
– Order ! I have already called the honorable senator’s attention to the fact that he is not permitted to criticize the judiciary. He has referred to an incident which occurred recently in Victoria and has reflected upon the judge or judges who heard the case. I ask him not to proceed further along those lines.
– I bow to your ruling, sir.
– The Government could amend the Electoral Act.
SenatorBARNES. - I have been leading up to what I believe to be a grave necessity, the amendment of the Electoral Act. It is at present capable of a construction that few people imagine to be possible. When it is found that the act has flaws in it, Parliament should get busy and pass the necessary amendments, in order to prevent a recurrence of recent happenings.
Reverting to the matter of unemployment, I believe that, even during the coming recess, the Government will have at its disposal the means whereby it can relieve the existing situation. Winter is approaching, and soon many thousands of people, particularly in the thicklypopulated centres, will be in a most serious position. This Government could use its influence at least with one instrument that it controls, the Development and Migration Commission, to perform a great service to Australia by relieving the distress that will exist. We know that during the summer months employment is usually plentiful and comparatively few are out of work. But the winter months are approaching and unemployment will then be greater than ever. Honorable senators realize what it is to be unemployed and I urge those who hold responsible positions to exhaust every possible avenue in the endeavour to relieve the distress that must almost inevitably prevail in Australia during the coming winter months.
.- While I appreciate the utterances of Senator Barnes, I believe that, on reflection, he will realize that his diagnosis of the present condition of industry in Australia is not exactly a correct one. So far as I can gather, he believes the reason for existing unemployment and loss of industry in this country to be that certain awards have gone, in his view, in the wrong direction.
– I do not contend that that is the whole of the trouble.
– That charge has been formulated before. Whenever an Arbitration Court judge has given an award that provided for the reduction of the reward of labour, and the lengthening of the hours of labour, there has been a decided protest from the worker. Per contra, when the court has decreed a reduction of the hours of labour and an increase of the reward of labour it is declared to have done the right thing. It is certainly novel to me if arbitration is to be right only when it leans to one side at the expense of the other. Even if the head of the Australian Workers Union, Senator Barnes, referred a case to the Arbitration Court in which I was concerned, he would not expect the arbitrator to be biased in my favour, irrespective of the merits of the case. All that can be done by applicants to the court is to surrender their interest in the matter and allow the judge to decide it upon its merits, untrammelled and uninfluenced by either side.
– I should first want to be a party to the selection of the arbitrator.
– For ten years the awards went in one direction, and they met with the approval of the workers. I have no complaint to find with that. Now the trend of affairs has altered, and much perturbation exists amongst the unions. As one who pays his quota towards the increased burden which has been imposed on industry by improved working conditions, I reserve the right to express my opinion upon the subject.
– Has the honorable senator ever disobeyed an award?
– On one occasion I hazarded my political career by advising men to return to work and accept an award that was decidedly against them. As a result I was blamed by my coworkers and even by the editor of the Western Australian Labour Daily (Mr. Stewart), who called me a “ traitor “ to Labour. I was told that my political career was ruined, but my experience has been that I held my own, and eventually my attitude was commended by some of the very men who condemned it. I had ]11 V vindication.
I suggest that it is the duty of others to take a like attitude when dealing with the unions of Australia. That would make for a happier condition of affairs. When the timber workers were granted an award which was highly satisfactory to them everything was well, hut when the economic laws of the country necessitated a reduction of their wages, they protested and went out on strike. Many forget that other sections of the community arc entitled to consideration. The wheat-growers of Australia are this year suffering a reduction of 25 per cent, in their wages in the price realized for their product. They have to work, not 44 hours, but 54 hours and more each week, and they get no sympathy from Senator Barnes and his friends in the Labour movement. Let us consider, also, the position of our fruit-growers. Does Senator Barnes know that the grower of peaches in Victoria can get only £5 a ton, and out of that sum he has to pay £4 10s. a ton to the pickers, leaving only 10s. a ton to cover interest on his capital, the reward for his own labour, and the support of his family?
– I know all that. I know, also, that I have to pay 6d. a lb. for peaches in Melbourne.
– That is another matter altogether. Despite the influence which he wields in the trade union movement, Senator Barnes and his Labour friends should be given to understand that they are not the cream of society. They should be told plainly that their duty is to tighten up the discipline in the industrial movement in the direction of requiring obedience to awards of the Arbitration Court. Is it not about time that trade unionists were made to realize that fellow Australians not in the same political organizations are of the same flesh and blood, have the same feelings, the same common outlook and expect to share the same destiny, and that the industrialists should have some sympathy for less fortunate fellow Australians, particularly our primary producers, who have to labour long hours to wrest a grudging living from the soil? It is high time that the industrial organizations eased their pressure upon the other sections of society, and adopted a reasonable policy by means of which the wheels of industry might be kept going.
What is the position of our wheat-farmers? I say, advisedly, that in order to keep industry going in this country they have to make slaves of themselves. What of the dairyfarmer? We have the evidence of Mr. Mcinnes, an impartial witness in New South Wales, that the dairymen of Australia are broken financially, and, what is worse, broken in spirit. Can they make a living out of that industry on a 44- hour week? Not a bit of it. They are obliged to work 54 hours, or 64 hours a week. Indeed, in many cases they work all the hours that God sends. Clocks and watches were not made for them. Their chief consideration is not how long they must work, but how long their physical strength will stand the strain. Thus we find that fellow Australians, who a*re engaged in the three leading lines of primary production, are in. an infinitely worse position than are the men employed in industrial concerns. Surely it is time that some sympathy was extended to these people who have to battle against extraordinary, almost insuperable, difficulties in production, and have to sell their product in the world’s market, where there is no sympathy, sentiment or consideration of any kind. The buyer operating in that market takes no account of the costs of production, or whether wheat is produced by black, brown or brindle labour. His one concern is to buy in the cheapest market.
Those who give thought to the industrial outlook of Australia must be alarmed at recent happenings, particularly on our waterfront, where, in the last few years, there has been strike after strike. Because of this dislocation of trade, brought about by the tactics of less than 2 per cent, of the trade unionists of Australia no business nian, great or small, in this country knows whore he stands. He does not know what to do or what to expect. This miserable callous-hearted remnant of trade unionists - I refer to those 1S,000 wharf labourers who have been responsible for so much trouble lately - have been the cause of most of our industrial disturbances in the last ten years, and they have been directly responsible for untold privation and suffering on the part of thousands of innocent people. To see, as I have seen, or anybody else could have seen, the perishable products representing the sweat and toil of hard-working people rotting and streaming out of cases on the wharfs is enough to make one’s blood boil. They violate the arbitration laws of this country with impunity because they have behind them the solid support of the latter day Labour leaders. If only these so-called leaders would denounce the malcontents in real earnest they would serve some useful purpose. Why do not they take a definite stand in the interests of 98 pei’ cent, of trade unionists who are mostly law abiding citizens and who have no sympathy with the remnant of law breakers? Senator Barnes and his colleagues should open their eyes to what is happening. The honorable senator must know that there is something radically wrong with the industrial movement in the Commonwealth when these things happen.
Let honorable senators consider the unsatisfactory position of our State railway systems. Statistical returns show that they are going to the bad every year. But side by side with this record we should place the latest figures relating to the Midland Railway Company of Western Australia. That i3 only a small concern, but it is making ends meet. It is observing Arbitration Court awards and in addition it is clearing off some of its capital liabilities. The State-owned railways in the several States, on the other hand, are not by any means in that enviable position. They cannot hold their own against modern motor traffic. It has been demonstrated that an owner of a motor truck, notwithstanding its high price due to customs duties and the high cost of fuel, can transport wool by road up to 200 miles to the nearest port at a cost below the most favorable railway charges in every State of the Commonwealth. There must be something wrong with the management of our railways when it is nor possible to meet this road competition. Industrial leaders should make it plain to the rank and file that they must help to make those State enterprises pay. It stands to reason that the economic position must be adjusted or else an even heavier tribute will have to be levied upon the unlucky primary producer. Something also must be done to improve the relations between employer and employee, and action taken to check the lawlessness of wharf labourers and others rebelliously inclined, who have been the fruitful cause of so many of our troubles.
In the last tcn years, according to the labour report, the loss to trade unionism alone through the industrial disputes has been about £25,000,000. It is difficult to estimate the loss to the community, but it must have been considerably more than £25,000,000. Indeed, it has been estimated that the combined loss is in the neighbourhood of £100,000,000. Now, what country can stand this? There can only be either hopeless stagnation or national bankruptcy. This industrial turmoil, unhappily, is reflected in Australia’s position in the money markets of the world. An examination of the financial situation will show that Commonwealth stocks cannot compare with New Zealand issues, and, indeed, are regarded as inferior even to South African bonds. Our credit on the London marker is not what it should be. Remember how our loans have been left on the underwriters’ hands, when the money market would not touch them even on specially attractive terms. We should, therefore, submit our industrial relations to the searchlight of introspection and endeavour to find out what is wrong. We must get down to bedrock and sternly reprimand that miserable section of our industrialists which has been responsible for so much of our trouble in the past. Credit is governed by conduct. If I neglected my opportunities and otherwise misbehaved, would I have the same financial standing in the eyes of my banker? Would he not consider it to be his first duty to examine my character to see if I were doing my work, minding my own business, and worthy of his confidence? The same principles apply to the community as a whole. Australia for some years has not been behaving itself. It has not been displaying that industrial activity which is expected of every young nation and, as I have shown, its reputation is suffering. Both South Africa and New Zealand can get better terms on the London or other markets than we can. Recent quotations for our stock on Wall-street have been so unsatisfactory that every good Australian must have felt ashamed. Our troubles in the main have been due to the failure of our industrial leaders to tell the lawbreakers definitely that they must stick to work and loyally abide by the awards of the arbitration courts, so that there may be some semblance of amity in the relations of employer and employee. What we want in this country more than anything else is more honest work and less talk.
We hear a great deal about the capitalists and capitalism. We are told that capitalists, in making huge profits, are crushing the life out of the country. Yet what did the Queensland Labour Government do when it entered into the ranks of the “beef barons,” and bought station after station? Unlike the capitalists, it made a loss of about £1,250,000 on them. Again, let us see what happened in the Commonwealth sphere. The ship-owner is generally depicted as a man with a gold watch chain spanning his expansive chest. The Commonwealth Government, seeking to emulate him, made a loss of £8,000,000 on its line of steamers, and the taxpayers of the country had to make good that loss. When we consider the many directions in which governments have failed when they have entered into business, we should regard the capitalist, not as an enemy, but as one of the best friends of the country. If the Government were to enter into every line of business in which the capitalists are now engaged, this country would become insolvent almost immediately, judging by everyday experience.
[10.33]. - If I failed to reply to some of the remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Daly) I might be accused of discourtesy. The honorable senator referred to a remark alleged to have been made a day or two ago by Mr. Butler, the Premier of South Australia, in regard to financial assistance for that State. I am somewhat sceptical regarding the statement alleged to have been made by him, for I can scarcely conceive of Mr. Butler expressing surprise that there was no provision in this year’s federal budget to meet any claim by South Australia for financial assistance, seeing that that budget was presented to Parliament in August last, before the royal commission to inquire into South Australia’s disabilities had been appointed. Mr. Butler is the Treasurer of South Australia as well as its Premier, and he should know that it would be impossible for the Commonwealth Treasurer to see into the future, and to say that a commission would be appointed to inquire into the financial position of South Australia and that it would report along certain lines. In the circumstances, honorable senators will see that it would have been ridiculous to make provision in this year’s budget to meet South Australia’s claims.
– What about making the grant retrospective?
Senator Sir GEORGE’ PEARCE.The honorable senator attacked the Government for not having made provision in this year’s budget to meet the claim of South Australia, although the inquiry had not commenced when the budget was framed. I suggest that the honorable senator’s speech to-night is somewhat belated, for some time ago the AddressinReply debate terminated. In connexion with that debate, most of the items to which he has referred to-night were discussed. I have already replied to the questions then raised and I shall therefore not traverse the same ground tonight.
Reference has been made to the problem of unemployment confronting the Commonwealth. Honorable senators opposite know well that strikes are the chief cause of unemployment, but they have not the courage to say so. They remind me of a story that is told of a clergyman who went to a fashionable district in London to relieve a fellow clergyman who was about to go for a holiday. Before commencing his new duties he sought guidance from the departing clergyman as to various subjects to which he should or should not refer. He was informed that it would be just as well not to be too decisive on the temperance question, because there were several large brewers in the congregation who subscribed liberally to the church funds. It was also suggested that it would be somewhat unwise to condemn horse racing, because other prominent members of the congregation were keen racegoers. The advice continued in a similar strain until the relieving clergyman asked what, evils remained for him to denounce. He was told that he would be perfectly safe in denouncing the Turks for their treatment of the Armenians, for there were no Turks in the congregation. Honorable senators opposite are prepared to denounce the Government and every one else except the people, actually responsible for unemployment in Australia - the promoters of strikes, and that in a country in which strikes should not only be impossible, but unthinkable. I suggest that they should leave the “ Turks “ alone for a while and devote their attention to the “ brewers “ and “ racegoers “ in the community.
Since 1916 the Labour party has been opposed to immigration, even during periods when there has been practically no unemployment. In the hope that constant repetition will lead the people to believe the statement, they keep on repeating that the Commonwealth Government brings immigrants to this country. That is not so. Before he proceeds further with his duties as Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Senator Daly would do well to study the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, when he would find that it is therein provided that the Commonwealth shall not bring immigrants into this country without the approval of the States. The only immigrants who may come here are those either nominated by the States, or endorsed by the States if nominated by private persons. lt may also be news to Senator Daly that the only governments now nominating immigrants are the Labour Governments of Western Australia and Queensland. It is to their credit that they are doing so. Practically the only assisted immigrants coming to Australia are domestic servants and boys. Will any honorable senator say where in Australia, there are any domestic servants out of employment?
– There are plenty of them in Adelaide.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Or will honorable senators say that the Dreadnought boys or the Little Brothers who are coming here are throwing big men out of employment in the timber industry? I suggest that before Senator Daly speaks again on the immigration question, he takes the trouble to understand it.
– Who is responsible for allowing Southern Europeans to come here?
– The present Government has been responsible for checking the immigration of Southern Europeans. If the honorable senator has any doubt as to the accuracy of that statement, let him inquire from Mr. Wickens, the Commonwealth Statistician, who keeps a record of all migrants. Statistics show that the action taken by the present Government has had the effect of reducing by practically twothirds the number of Southern Europeans immigrants.
Senator Foll referred to the delay in hearing the application of the Seamen’s Union to the Arbitration Court for registration. I shall see that his remarks are brought under the notice of the AttorneyGeneral.
The honorable senator’s remarks as to the application of the Commonwealth housing scheme to Queensland is a matter for the people of that State. They will soon have the opportunity, subject to the difficulties caused by the jerrymandering of electorates, to put into office another government which will co-operate with the Commonwealth Government in providing homes for the people.
Senator Herbert Hays and Senator Payne referred to the necessity for improved steamer services to Tasmania. The Government is desirous of improving those services, and has done its best in that direction, but the taxpayers of Australia would have something to say if an altogether excessive tender were accepted. The Government is not prepared to improve the steamship services to Tasmania, irrespective of cost. I point out that an obligation rests on the Government of Tasmania in relation to the navigation of the river Tamar. In this connexion, I refer honorable senators to pages 52 and 53 of the report by the Development and Migration Commission on internal transport in Tasmania. The matter was also dealt with by the Public Accounts Committee.
– I spoke particularly of the service to the northwestern ports of Tasmania, in connexion with which there is no difficulty.
– The difficulty is that no steamship company will submit a tender which the Government is prepared to accept. Surely the honorable senator does not suggest that the tender of £96,000 should he accepted for work which previously cost only £36,000?
– That is not the offer for the north-west coast service alone.
– That is the price asked for the services to Tasmania. I imagine that if the Government provided a service only to the north-western ports of Tasmania, and did not include Launceston, the people of Tasmania would have something to say.
– The Government called for tenders for two separate services.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.In committee the Minister representing the Postmaster-General will be able to supplement what I have said, but from what I know of the matter the Government has done its best to secure tenders for an improved service. It has received one tender only, and the price demanded is one which it considers excessive, and which it would not be justified in accepting.
– The Government should cancel the contract with the shipping company.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.If that were done Tasmania would not have a service.
– Then the Government should take it in hand.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.If by that remark the honorable senator means a Government service should be established, I point out that he must be aware that the Tasmanian Government found such an experiment unsatisfactory. The Commonwealth has also found a State-owned steamship line unsatisfactory.
– Does the Minister suggest that things should remain as they are?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.No. The Government has explored other avenues, and will continue to do so. The repeal of the coasting trade provisions of the Navigation Act will probably bring about a condition of competition that does not exist to-day.
– Hear, hear ! That is the real solution of the difficulty.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.I was somewhat astounded to hear Senator Barnes’s cure for industrial trouble. It is a very simple one. What it amounts to is that if a judge gives an award that is displeasing to the unions, he should be discharged.
– Senator Barnes did not say that.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The honorable senator had better ask Senator Barnes for a proof of his speech and see what he did say. The remedy might be simple, and after applying it we might have industrial peace for a little while, but it would eventually lead to industrial death; it would mean a death blow to Australian industries.
– The honorable senator is a political Shylock.
– Order! The honorable senator must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Senate adjourned at 10.47 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 March 1929, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1929/19290319_senate_11_120/>.