11th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Communications from Public Service Association.
Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to extracts from BulletinNo. 8 of the Public Service Association of New Guinea, published in tlie Rabaul Times of Friday, 21st December, 1928, in which it is alleged that letters addressed to the Minister for Home Affairs, and forwarded to the administrator for transmission, have been forwarded, as far as the Association can ascertain ?
When (if at all) were certain letters, dated 24th September,1927: 5th June, 1928; 6th July, 1928, and 8th August, 1928, referred to in the above-mentioned publication as having been forwarded to the administrator, received by the Minister, and were any replies sent; if so, when?
What was the reply to the letter of the 8th August, 1928, in which the Association asked for a definite ruling from the Minister? 4.Is it a fact that this question was brought before Senator Crawford (then Minister) in 1923 during his visit to the Territory, by a memorandum handed him by the secretary of the association, and also before Mr. Marr, in the Territory in 1927; if so, what instructions (if any) were given to the administrator?
I am now in a position to furnish him with the following answers: -
The attention of the Prime Minister had not previously been directed to the press report in which the extracts referred to were published.
Copy of a letter from the Public Service Association to the administrator, dated6th July, 1928, was received by the Minister for Home and Territories on 21st August, 1928, under cover of a communication from the administrator dated 31st July, 1928. A reply to it had been sent by the administrator on 20th July, 1928. It has been ascertained from the administrator that, in addition, letters dated 26th September, 1927;5th June, 1928, and 8th August, 1928, were received by him from the Association but were not transmitted to the Minister. The letter of 26th September, 1927, was answered by the administrator on6th October, 1927, and 16th February, 1928; that of 5th June, 1928, on 28th
June. 1928; and that of 8th August, 1928. on 10th August and 19thNovember, 1928. Advice has been received from the administrator that copies of the correspondence are being despatched to the Prime Minister’s Department.
The association was informed by the administrator that it was not proposed to reopen the question unless new ground was broken.
A copy of a letter, dated 25th March, 1924, from the then Minister to the Civil Service Association of New Guinea, intimating that he was not prepared to accept communications from the association direct, and that such communications must be forwarded through the administrator, was transmitted to the administrator on the same date. In 1927, the administrator was informed of the decision disapproving of the request made on the occasion of the Minister’s visit to the Territoryin that year for direct access to the Minister.
Application for Registration under Arbitration Act.
– On the 14th March, Senator Foll asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General to inquire into the cause of the delay in the hearing, by the Industrial Registrar, of the application by the Australian Seamen’s Union for registration as an organization under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and I promised to do so. I have ascertained that the facts are as follow: -
The application of the Australian Seamen’s Union was lodged on the 7th November last. Before the application was dealt with the Seamen’s Union of Australia lodged an application for registration. In view of the provisions of section 59 of the Act, the Registrar informed the parties that he would deal with the two applications at the same time. The Commonwealth Shipowners’ Association obtained an extension of time to lodge objections until March 14th, and the applicants have 14 days in which to file answering affidavits. It is understood that the answering affidavits will be filed in time to enable the matter to be listed for hearing on 27th March.
The following papers were presented : -
British Phosphate Commission - Report and Accounts for year ended 30th June, 1928.
Postmaster-General’s Department - Eighteenth Annual Report, 1927-28.
Development and Migration Commission - Report relating to the Canned fruits Industry of Australia.
Contract Immigrants Act - Return for 1928.
Immigration Act - Return for 1928.
North Australia - Report on Administration.
Northern Australia Act - Ordinances of 1929 - Central Australia -
No. 2 - Dingo Destruction.
No. 3 - Crown Lands
North Australia -
No. 3 - Dingo Destruction.
No. 4 - Crown Lands.
Tariff Board - Report and Recommendation -
Fur Felt and Wool Felt Hats- Request for increased duty.
Customs Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1929, No. 25.
New Guinea Act - Ordinance No. 2 of 1929 - Lands Registration.
Royal Australian Naval College - Annual Report, year 1928.
– I direct the attention ofthe Leader of the Senate to the difficulties experienced by members of Parliament in getting in touch with officials of the various Commonwealth departments in Canberra. This morning, wishing to interview an officer of a department, I went first to No. 2 Secretariat, and then to No. 1 Secretariat; finally I discovered that the official I wished to see was in offices at Civic Centre. I hope that, during the recess, the Minister will see if some arrangements can be made to assist members of Parliament who wish to attend at the various departments in the discharge of their public duties. Perhaps it will be possible to place a car at their disposal.
– I shall see that the matter receives attention during the recess.
– In view of the present industrial unrest, and the prospect of a fairly long vacation, will the Leader of the Senate give honorable senators an assurance, that, during the recess the Government will refrain from mediation to bring about a settlement, and, also, will Ministers bear in mind that the gratuitious interference by a previous Commonwealth Government in an industrial dispute, was responsible for the resignation of the late Mr. Justice Higgins as the President of the Arbitration Court?
– It is not correct, anyhow.
– Mr. Justice Higgins said that he resented such interference. If the Government does propose to mediate in the present dispute, will it please remember that it was through similar action on the part of a previous Government that the late Mr. Justice Higgins resigned, and said so?
– The honorable senator must not make statements when asking a question.
– If the Government does mediate will it remember that it will be taking sides, and be helping a very small section of law-breaking unionists in this country against the great majority of law-abiding trade unionists?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The attitude of the Government was definitely indicated by the Prime Minister, when suggestions were made during the waterside workers’ strike, that the Government should constitute itself a conciliation committee. He then stated that it would do nothing of the kind. He also pointed out that there was a properly-constituted body for the settlement of industrial disputes, and said that the Government did not intend to intervene between the tribunal and the disputants.
-Will the Leader of the Senate indicate what properlyconstituted authority is in a position to mediate in the present industrial dispute, or could have acted as mediator in the waterside workers’ dispute?
– The Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration is the tribunal established by Parliament to deal with all such disputes.
– Is it not a fact that the court has laid it down that it will not mediate while industrial disputes are in progress?
– That is a fact.
– Then does the Leader of the Senate still say that the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration is the one constitued authority to mediate in the present industrial dispute?
– Yes; the court has authority as a conciliation body to deal with industrial disputes; but the court has properly laid it down as its policy that it will not deal w ith organizations that are acting in defiance of the law.
– On the 7th March, I. asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs if consideration had been given to the request of the Tasmania n Apple Evaporators’ Association for a bounty on evaporated apples exported, and, if so, with what results I further asked that if the matter had not been considered, would it receive attention at once, so that, if a bounty were granted, it would be available for this season’s export. Is the Minister in a position to give me a definite reply to-day?
– The matter has been brought under the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs, but he is not yet in a position to furnish a reply.
asked the Min ister representing the Minister for Works, u pon notice -
– The Minister for Works has advised that the information will be obtained and furnished to the honorable senator at the earliest possible date.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Markets and Transport, uponnotice -
November, 1928, to the effect that bread is being retailed in England at 7½d. per 4-lb. loaf?
– The Minister for Markets and Transport has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
SenatorP.P. ABBOTT asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
Is it a fact -
That artificial cotton plants - growing 7 feet in height - have lately been imported into England from South America?
That between 3,000,000 and 4,000,000 lb. of this cotton, grown on poor soil in Sussex and Essex, will be available in July for English cotton-spinners at a fixed price of 4d. per lb. below the price of real cotton?
That the new product meets every demand, and that Lancashire and Yorkshire cotton-mill owners readily agreed to accept it, and anticipate that in a few years it will be grown in sufficient quantity and quality to meet the demand of the whole of the British cotton industry?
That the existing cotton machinery can treat this artificial cotton: that its yarn can be blended with real cotton, silk, artificial silk, or wool, and will take the most delicate dyes, absorbing one-third less dye than real cotton.
Will the Minister bring the matter under the notice of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, with a view to having a report furnished; and, if the facts are as stated, of obtaining advice as to the desirability of importing some seeds and plants into Australia to allow of our cotton-growers being able to compete on equal terms in the world’s markets ?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Iam unable to say, but I have perused a press report on the subject which the honorable senator has been good enough to bring under my notice.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
[11.10]. - I move -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
There are one or two small measures to come from another place, but this is the only hill with which we can deal at the presenttime.ThisiswhyIproposeto suspendtheStandingOrders.
– I protest on behalf of the Oppositi on against the suspension of the Standing Orders to allow the Senate to proceed at once with the discussion on this important bill. Surely, honorable senators realize the difficult position in which I, as the Deputy-Leader of the Opposition, and all members on this side are placed. The bill is intended to give considerable relief to returned soldiers, and it is highly technical. It was only placed in my hands this morning. I have not had time to study it. At the moment my secretary is engaged in research work on the measure with the idea of preparing a numberof amendments which, in our view, will more fully give effect to the Government’s promises to the returned soldiers. If the second-reading debate is taken now, I shall have to remain in the chamber to listen to the speech of the Leader of the Senate and I shall not have an opportunity to consult with my colleagues concerning the many intricate provisions of the bill. This haste is unfair to the Opposition, and unfair to the returnedsoldiers. I sincerely hope that the motion will not be carried, even if it means that honorable senators will suffer a certain amount of inconvenience through having to return to Canberra next week to consider the bill.
Question - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir William Glasgow) read a first time.
[11.18] - I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
I am sure that honorable senators will give this bill their serious and sympathetic consideration. It was circulated some days ago, and if any honorable senator did not receive a copy of it, something must have gone wrong with his correspondence. Not only was the bill itself circulated, but also the amendments which honorable members in another place proposed to move. The bill before the Senate this morning is, of course, as amended in another place.
The object of the bill is to give effect to the promise of the Government to provide a means by which appeals may be made against the decisions of the Repatriation Commission, both in respect of entitlement to pensions and assessment of war disability. Seeing that the bill provides a new method of dealing with claims, or rather superimposes an additional procedure upon that now operating, perhaps it would be advisable that I should refer briefly to the course adopted under the existing legislation. The present act is administered by a Repatriation Commission, consisting of three ex-soldiers, one of whom is the nominee of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers League of Australia. A board similarly composed operates in each State. When a claim for a pension is made, all the relevant papers are referred to the State Repatriation Board, which may grant the claim, reject it, or refer it to the commission. If a claimant appeals against the rejection of his claim by the State board his case is submitted to the commission. The commission fully considers all claims submitted to it, and if in doubt after obtaining the advice of its own medical officers, submits the case to the Medical Advisory Board which consists of four of the most eminent medical practitioners in Australia who have the additional qualification that they have had military experience overseas. I should like here to pay a tribute to the excellent services rendered by the members of this advisory board; they are Sir George Syme, Sir Henry Maudsley, Dr. Stawell, and Dr. Webb. These gentlemen give up much of their valuable time twice a week going through the claims submitted, and advising the commission upon the evidence tendered. Since January, 1925, the soldier has in reality had a further appeal to the Minister in Charge of Repatriation (Sir Neville Howse, than whom there is probably no one in Australia better qualified to speak on matters concerning war pensions. Sir Neville Howse stands very high in the medical profession, and, in addition, occupied overseas during the war, the position of Director of Medical Service to the Australian Imperial Force, thus gaining a first-hand knowledge of the conditions under which the soldiers served.
It will, therefore, be seen that a very thorough system of dealing with pension claims is already in operation, and I might mention that Sir Neville Howse, when speaking in another place, stated definitely that although the Repatriation Commission had been charged with being harsh and unsympathetic, after a close association with its work for a period of over four years he had no hesitation in saying that the charge was absolutely unwarranted. This is borne out by the records of the department, which show that during the four years ended 30th June, 1928, the number of ex-soldier pensioners increased by 439, notwithstanding that during that period 2,866 ex-soldiers unfortunately had died. Last year - ten years after the cessation of hostilities - new pensions were granted to 891 exsoldiers. The total number of new pensions granted last year, including ;hose in respect of wives, children and other dependants, was 13,547. Although no amendment of the Australian Soldiers Repatriation Act, under which war pensions are paid, has been made for several years - in fact, not since 1922 - the War Pensions bill has increased considerably, to a great extent on acount of the liberal and sympathetic manner in which the act has been administered. For the year ended 30th June, 1924, war pensions cost £7,090,815; four years later the cost was £7,690,890, an increase of £600,075. That increase occurred despite the deaths of pensioners, the re-marriage of widows and the adolescence of dependent children.
The bill now before the Senate provides for the appointment of two types of tribunal - entitlement tribunals, and assessment tribunals. A new principle is established by this bill in that it provides for separate tribunals to deal with appeals in regard to (1) entitlement to pension and (2) assessment of the rate of pension. Canada has an entitlement appeal board but no assessment appeal board. In New Zealand and Great Britain and most other countries, the appeal boards which are in existence deal with both classes of cases. The entitlement tribunal will consist of three members, a chairman who may be a returned soldier, and two members who, it is provided, shall be returned soldiers. The chairman will be a person who has been admitted to practise as a barrister or solicitor of the High Court, or of the Supreme Court of a State. The chairman and one member will be Government nominees; the other member will be selected from nominations submited by organizations of returned soldiers.
The bill provides that if any new evidence having a substantial bearing on a claim is submitted to the entitlement tribunal, the case shall be referred back to the Repatriation Commission, and, if rejected by that body, it will later be determined by the tribunal. Moreover, should fresh evidence bc submitted within twelve months of the Entitlement Tribunals decision, the Repatriation Commission will reconsider the case. Should the claim be rejected by the Repatriation Commission, the appellant may again appeal to the tribunal. A claimant appearing before the tribunal may claim travelling expenses.
Complaint has frequently been made that soldiers have no knowledge of the contents of their files on which their claims have been decided. In that connexion, let me draw attention to proposed new clause 45z, which reads -
An appeal tribunal, and an assessment tribunal, shall, so far as it is consistent with the interests of the appellant, and with any obligation to respect information given to the commission upon a confidential basis, make available to the appellant or his representative information contained in the records relating to his case, provided that information given to the commission on a confidential basis may be disclosed to the appellant or his representative in any case, if the person who has provided the information consents in writing.
The Government proposes that there shall be a different constitution for the assessment tribunal. It is proposed that the chairman be selected from a list of returned soldiers who have been admitted to practise as barristers or solicitors of the High Court or of the Supreme Court of a State, submitted in the manner provided for the appointment of a nominee of returned soldiers’ organizations for membership of the Entitlement Tribunal. To assist him it is proposed to appoint two medical practitioners selected from lists of medical practitioners approved by the Minister. The medical members of this board will be selected on account of their special knowledge of the disabilities from which the appellant is suffering. This provision will be of great advantage to appellants, particularly in. cases of special diseases. Two members of the Entitlement Tribunal -will form a quorum, but the three members of the Assessment Tribunal must be present to give a decision. No medical man who is an officer of the Repatriation Depart- ment, or who has given a previous decision on the case, will be a member of the Assessment Board in respect of that case.
It is specially provided in the bill that the tribunals shall not be bound by any rules of evidence, but shall act in accordance with substantial justice, and the merits of the case, and that they shall give the appellant the benefit of the doubt. The appellant may appear in person before the tribunal, or may be represented by any person other than a legal practitioner. This bill has been drawn up as a result of experience gained in the administration of the Repatriation Department during the last ten years. Regard has also been given to the advice received from other countries where appeal courts are in being, and to that tendered, after long consideration of the matter, by the executive of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers League. It was dealt with at the last conference of the league, when there was drawn up a list of recommendations, all of which, with the exception of a few minor points, have been incorporated in this bill.
In conclusion, I should like to touch briefly on the subject of repatriation generally. Honorable senators who have been members of the Senate since the end of the v/ar, will remember the great difficulty which faced the Government in repatriating a large number of soldiers, and of honoring the promises made to the soldiers before they went away. The Minister who was charged with that duty was at that time the Leader of the Government in this chamber. All honorable senators who knew him will admit that he brought to the task confronting him all his energy and his great ability. If he were now alive no one would bc more pleased than he to see the manner in which the promises then made to the soldiers have been kept. It is true that many mistakes have been made, but it must be remembered that the difficulties were great, and the problems many. All will agree that a faithful effort has been made to fulfil the promises made. I feel sure that I am voicing the opinions of all honorable senators when I express appreciation of the great work done by the late Senator E. D. Millen in laying the foundation upon which has beer: built our repatriation and war pensions legislation. I confidently submit the bill to the Senate.
Senator DALY (South Australia) [11.32.J - Without entering into the highly controversial subject of the promises made to our soldiers when they enlisted and the extent to which they have been honored, I intimate i hat the Opposition is entirely in agreement with the Government on the main principles of this measure. That the bill is long overdue does not detract from our pleasure that at last it has been introduced. Anyone who has had experience of the treatment meted out to our returned soldiers will agree that an appeal tribunal is essential if they are to receive a substantial measure of justice. The Minister said that the bill, together with a number of proposed amendments, had been in the hands of honorable senators for some days. The amendments are the most important parts of the measure from the returned soldiers’ stand-point, because they are connected with the question of proof - what the soldier has to establish before he is entitled to the benefits which the bill purports to give to him. Only this morning was I shown an amendment made to the measure in another place late last night. In committee, I propose to ask the Senate to consider whether that amendment gives to the returned soldiers fair treatment in the matter of proving their right to the benefits conferred by the bill.
– The returned soldiers’ organization drafted a number of clauses, all of which have been incorporated in the bill.
– I accept the Minister’s assurance that the soldiers got all they asked for; but clauses dealing with the question of proof were left to the Government to draft. In committee, I propose to ask honorable senators to consider carefully proposed new section 45w together with the proviso thereto which was inserted in another place. I do not know what the proviso means. Subsection 2 of proposed new section 45v provides -
Subject to this act an appeal tribunal and an assessment appeal tribunal shall not, in the hen ring of appeals, be bound bv any rules of evidence, hut shall act according to substantial justice and the merits of the case and sim 11 give to an appellant the benefit of the doubt.
Then follows the proviso. What is the nature of the doubt of which the appellant shall be given the benefit? We know what a reasonable doubt is; but what is meant by giving the appellant the benefit of the doubt will be left to the tribunal to determine. The proviso inserted in another place reads -
Provided, too, that if the appellant or a representative of the appellant should make out a prima facie case in support of his claim that the incapacity from which lie is suffering or from which he has died was caused or aggravated by war service, the onus of proof that such incapacity was not in fact so caused or aggravated shall lie with the commission.
In the first place, there was no need to insert that proviso at all. Senator McLachlan will agree that, once a party makes out a prima facie case, the onus of proof automatically shifts. It would appear that in another place the Minister, placed in a predicament, saw an opportunity to “ pull somebody’s leg,” and therefore accepted an amendment which he knew was worth nothing.
– The amendment was drafted by an ex-Prime Minister.
– But the Minister accepted it. Even if an ex-Prime Minister drafted the amendment in good faith - and I do not doubt that he did - it should not be possible for any one to say that this Parliament is out to “pull the legs” of the returned soldiers. The Senate should endeavour to draft a better proviso. In the matter of proof, the bill is hyper-technical. Each man who went to the war was certified as fit. Some who returned developed various diseases, including tuberculosis, after their return. One doctor might be of the opinion that a returned soldier suffering from tuberculosis contracted the disease as a result of his having been gassed while on active service, while another might explain the man’s condition on some other hypothesis. A returned soldier whose present condition might have been caused either by his war service or otherwise will, in my opinion, be unable to establish his case. The Opposition proposes, later, to submit an amendment which, while protecting the Government against abuses, will give the soldier the benefit of the doubt in doubtful cases. If agreed to, it will enable a man, whose health was satisfactory on enlistment, more easily to establish his claim before the Entitlement Board; but it will not alter any of the rights created by the bill. Apart from a desire to alter the bill in the direction I have indicated, we on this side will offer no opposition to its passage.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Defence) [11.40]. - I am pleased that, generally, the bill meets with the approval of honorable senators. I have not yet had an opportunity to study the amendment proposed to be moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Daly) ; but no doubt he will explain it fully in committee. The proviso to proposed new section 45w to which the honorable senator referred was inserted in another place at the instigation of the ex-Prime Minister, Mr. Hughes. The honorable senator admitted thatthe proviso would not prevent a returned soldier from putting forward his claim.
– It might compel him to establish a prima facie case.
– The proviso appears to be harmless. It may not help the returned soldier; but it will not prevent him from making his claim.
– I am afraid that, when the claim is being decided,the soldier might be affected adversely.
– The proviso, as I understand it, appears to be harmless. In committee, however, that matter can be dealt with. I expected that the Opposition would give its general support to the measure, and am pleased that it has done so.
Question resolved inthe affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 5 agreed to -
After section forty-five of the Principal Act the following divisions and sections are inserted in part III.: - 45w -
Provided too that if the appellant or a representative of the appellant shall make out a prima facie case in support of his claim thatthe incapacity from which he is suffering or from which he has died was caused or aggravated by war service, the onus of proof thatsuch incapacity was not in fact so caused or aggravated shall lie with the commission.
.- I move-
That the proviso be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereofthe following proviso : -
Provided that without limitation of the rights in this act otherwise arising where it is proved by or on behalf of the appellant, or a dependant of the appellant, that the member of the forces had served as such member for such period and in such circumstances us might reasonably be expected to be injurious to health, and was on the date of the application for a pension either deceased or suffering such incapacity as would, if death or incapacity had in fact resulted from any occurrence happening during the period he was a member of the forces, have entitled such member or his dependant to a pension, the appellant or dependant of the appellant shall be deemed in the absence of evidence to the contrary to have established his claim to a pension.
A similar amendment was submittedin another place, and its object is to place beyond any shadow of doubt that, if a returned soldier is suffering from a disability which, had it affected him at the time that he was a member of the Australian Imperial Force, would have entitled him to a pension, he shall, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, have established his right to a pension.
– Does that not mean that he would not even have to make a claim?
– No. Suppose that on his return to Australia in 1918, an ex-member of the Australian Imperial Forces made an application for a pension. He would have to establish certain facts in order to entitle him to that pension. First of all he would have to prove that the disability from which he was suffering resulted from war service. This amendment seeks to provide that in circumstances where the tribunal is satisfied that he would be entitled to a pension, if a member of the Australian Imperial Force at the time, he shall receive that pension, unless the department can prove otherwise to the satisfaction of the tribunal.
– Which is impossible.
– I am unable to understand that interjection. Why is it impossible? Suppose that in 1918 a man returned from the war suffering from the effects of gas. Ten years later tuberculosis develops. One doctor might be prepared to connect the later disability with the man’s war service, while other doctors might expound contrary theories. Senator Ogden declares that if this amendment were incorporated in the bill it would be impossible for the tribunal to disprove liability. I submit that, in the converse case, it would be impossible for the soldier to establish his rights.
– In the circumstances mentioned by the honorable senator that man would already have been granted a pension.
– The point is that a man may be gassed, but not to an extent to incapacitate him at the time of his return. That would not entitle him to a pension. But supposing that ten years later tuberculosis manifested itself, while some medical practitioners, on examination, might declare that it was due to the effect of war service, it is probable that others would refute that diagnosis. They might claim that the man’s antecedents justified the opinion that the complaint was hereditary, and in no way connected with war service. It is our contention that if a man returns from the war suffering from tuberculosis, whether declared hereditary or not, he should receive a pension.
– Would not the very illustration given by the honorable senator be covered by the statute as it is?
– I do not think it would. Probably the pension would be granted if the case were decided in this chamber or if we could definitely ascertain the meaning of “substantial justice and the merits of the case.” My question is, what onus is to be placed on the soldier?
Senatorfoll. - The honorable senator is endeavouring to place on the soldier the onus of establishing a prima facie case.
– I am not trying to do anything of the sort. I throw on him the responsibility to prove certain facts, but I am not placing the onus of proof on him when he comes before a court of appeal. I submit that the best way in which we can mete out justice to our returned soldiers is by incorporating my amendment in the bill.
– Does not the amendment require that the appellant shall be examined after, and not before, he makes his appeal?
– I am not concerned whether the examination is made before or after the appeal.
– The amendment entitles a returned soldier to claim that he is suffering a disability as the result of war service, and that means an examination.
– It does; but an examination has to be made under the provision as it stands.
– It is merely a matter of when the examination is to take place.
– I believe that the proviso as it stands presses too heavily on the soldier. My amendment seeks to lighten his burden, and at the same time to protect the community. I hope that it will be accepted.
– I take the point of order that the amendment is not relevant to the subject-matter of the bill. Standing Order 201 provides -
Any amendment may be made to any part ofthe bill, provided the same be relevant to the subject-matter of the bill, and be otherwise in conformity with the rules and orders of the Senate.
To find the subject-matter of the bill, we must turn to its title. It reads -
A bill for an act relating to the establishment of appeal tribunals to deal with appeals relating to war pensions.
For a description of war pension, we must turn to section 23 of the Australian Soldiers Repatriation Act and that reads -
Upon the death or incapacity -
of any person, to whom paragraph (a) or (b) of the definition of “Member of the Forces “ applies, whose death or incapacity -
These are the important words -
does not arise from, or from any occurrence happening duringthe cessation of, any breach of discipline by the member, and
The provisos which follow are not pertinent. The important part is that the pension is payable to every pensioner or his dependants whose death or incapacity results or has resulted from his employment in connexion with naval or military preparations or operations. Leave was given in another place to amend the principal act only in that connexion, whereas the amendment contemplates the granting of pensions to persons who have not the right to them under the principal act. Some of Senator Daly’s replies to interjections would lead honorable senators to believe that his amendment deals only with the question of onus of proof. It has nothing to do with that. Its effect would be to establish a new class of pensions in respect of diseases, incapacity or death not arising from war service.
– Does the amendment say so?
– Yes. The amendment is to insert the following proviso : -
Provided that without limitation of the rights in this act otherwise arising where it is proved by or on behalf of the appellant, or a dependant of the appellant, that the member of the forces had served as such member for such period and in such circumstances-
I direct attention to the following words; they are most important : - as might reasonably be expected to bo injurious to health -
Those words embrace every member of the Australian Imperial Forces because every member of the Australian Imperial Forces served in circumstances that “might reasonably be expected to be injurious to health.” It does not follow that the health of everymember of the forces was injured by reason of his service, but every member of the forces who served either for one day or for the whole period of the war, served in circumstances which. “might reasonably be expected to be injurious to health.” That risk is not peculiar to members of the Australian
Imperial Forces. The ordinary citizen in his everyday life runs it; but because every member of the forces from the time he enlisted until he was discharged was liable to incapacity or injury to his health, the honorable senator’s amendment would cover every member of the Australian Imperial Forces. The proviso proceeds - and was on the date of the application for a pension either deceased or suffering such incapacity as would, if death or incapacity had in fact resulted from any occurrence happening during the periodhe was a member of the forces, have entitled such member or his dependant to a pension, the appellant or dependant of the appellant shall be deemed in the absence of evidence to the contrary to have established bis claim to a pension.
That is to say, if a soldier, after his discharge from the forces, has contracted a disease or has suffered some incapacity which would have entitled him to a pension if he had contracted the disease or suffered the incapacity either during his service with the forces or as a result of his war service he would be entitled to a pension although his disease or incapacity had no relation whatsoever to his service in the Australian Imperial Forces. The amendment would, therefore, establish a new class of pension benefits beyond that contemplated or made possible under the original act. That is my point of order. If the amendment were agreed to, provision would be made for two classes of pensioners - pensions granted in consequence of death, incapacity, or disease, resulting from service during the war and pensions granted because of some disease, incapacity or death occurring after discharge from the forces, but not resulting from war service. Every member of the Australian Imperial Forces would thus be entitled to a pension for any incapacity, disease or death, no matter whether it had relation to war service or not. The amendment is neither relevant to the bill nor to the act which the bill purports to amend, and it is certainly not covered by the title of the bill. The pension made available by it would not be a “ war pension “ since it would be payable to persons whose death, incapacity or disease had no relation whatever to the war beyond the fact that the pensioner served during the war. The parent act does not contemplate the payment of a pension on account of disease, incapacity or death, unless it has resulted from employment in connexion with naval or military preparations or operations, and I therefore take the point of order that the amendment is not relevant to the subject-matter of the bill.
– It is difficult to understand why the right honorable senator has raised this point of order, because the proviso I seek to have inserted would be an addendum to a particular section of the act and according to Craise, a most eminent authority on statute law -
Thu effect of an excepting or qualifying proviso, according to the ordinary rules of construction, is to except out of the preceding portion of the enactment, or to qualify something enacted therein, which but for the proviso would be within it; and such a proviso cannot be construed as enlarging the scope of an enactment when it cun bo fairly and properly construed without attributing to it that effect.
– Our procedure is governed by our Standing Orders.
– Our Standing Order says that an amendment must be relevant to the subject-matter of the bill which it is proposed to’ amend. The right honorable senator has suggested that by means of this amendment I am attempting to create a new class of pensions not authorized under the principal act, but the proviso does nothing of the sort. It simply does what I have just read to honorable senators - it qualifies the preceding provision. The right honorable senator has also claimed that the amendment has nothing whatever to do with onus of proof, but the provision to which the proviso would be attached deals with that, and if my amendment were carried, it would merely create an exception to that section. The purposes of the act are not enlarged by the amendment. The proviso simply qualifies the proposed new section and not the act itself. I submit, therefore, that my amendment is in order.
– What has happened is a striking illustration of the effect produced by the Senate not having sufficient time to consider measures. Copies of the amendment moved by Senator Daly have not been circulated, and it is, therefore, impossible for honorable senators to record an intelligent vote on the matter. It appears from what I can gather that Senator Daly proposes to enlarge the causes for which a pension shall be granted.
– Not exactly. In certain instances it would relieve men already covered by the act from having to furnish strict proof.
– But the consequences must be as Senator Lynch has pointed out.
– Possibly, but they do not go as far as Senator Pearce has said they go. For instance, the amendment would not include men who have not been on active service.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable senator said that it would include any member of the Australian Imperial Force. Nor could it extend the class of pensions covered by the principal act.
– The principal act provides for pensions for those whose death or incapacity has been due to war service. The amendment will provide pensions for those whose incapacity or death has not been due to the war.
– It will do nothing of the sort.
– If the amendment seeks to open the gate wider than is proposed in the original act it is quite clear that it is not in order. If we accept the amendment the bill will lose all semblance of its former self. The amendment is elastic to an extraordinary degree. It states that death or incapacity from any occurrence happening during the period an appellant was a member of the forces will entitle him or his dependants to a pension, and in the absence of evidence to the contrary, the appellant or dependant will be deemed to have established his claim to a pension. I am afraid the honorable senator is seeking to put too much india-rubber into the provision. The amendment is not fair or just. It would be much better to pass the bill as it stands. All honorable senators wish to deal fairly by the returned soldiers. Under the Government’s proposal an appellant is expected to make out a prima facie case, which, ox” course, is not a complete case; but in consideringthe appealthe tribunal will not be bound bythe rules of evidence, and in all cases it will give the appellant the benefit of any doubt.
– Nothing of the sort. If an appellant makes out a prima facie case, the department may discharge a certain onus and the tribunal will decide the appeal on the balance of probability.
– Let me put to Senator Daly a hypothetical case. Let us suppose that John Smith contracts an ailment which he says is due to war service. The mere “ say so”ofJohn Smith will not, however, entitle him to a pension.
– Of course not.
– The department will expect the appellant to appear before a medical authority, which will determine whether or not John Smith’s ailment is due to war service. In addition, the appellant will have the benefit of the doubt.
– Senator Daly’s amendment means that although an appellant might not be able to prove that his disability was due to war service, he would still be entitled to a pension.
– That, of course, is the important point. While we all desire to do justice to returned soldiers, we must not neglect the interests of the people generally. Theproposed new sections are so numerous - there are not sufficient letters in the alphabet to designate all of them - that I am sure the resources of the draftsmen must have been exhausted in framing provisions in the interests of the returned soldiers. Senator Daly, it would seem, wants a double alphabet to do justice to the returned soldiers.
– This is the Labour party’s proposal - not mine.
– The Government has dealt generously with the returned soldiers. Senator Daly would like to go one better. I prefer the bill. I remember that the taxpayers of this country are not unworthy of some thought from members of this chamber. It is not unreasonable to require an appellant to appear before a properly constituted medical board, before this country is committed to the payment of his pension. I can see nothing wrong with this, and so I intend to support the measure.
– The measure before the committee is entitled “A bill for an act relating to the establishment of Appeal Tribunals to deal with Appeals relating to War Pensions.” Because of the highly technical nature of the bill, it is extremely difficult for a layman to determine the degree of relevancy of the amendment; but, in my opinion, it would create a new class of pensions, not contemplated by the bill or the act which it amends. I therefore rule that the amendment is irrelevant to the subject-matter of the bill.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment ; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and bill (on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce) read a first time.
[12.32]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The object of this bill is to give the six States of the Commonwealth representation on the National Debt Commission. Until recently the sinking fund provisions dealt only with Commonwealth debts, but with the ratification of the financial agreement, the commission has now assumed control of sinking funds for State debts. The States naturally desire to have representation on the Sinking Fund Commission, and at the last meeting of the Loan Council, the following resolution was passed -
That the Commonwealth be asked to make provision for the appointment on the National Debt Commission of a representative of the States to be approved by a majority of the States, the appointment to continue so long as remaining approved by a majority of the States.
The financial agreement, having now been validated, the Commonwealth desires to meet the wishes of the States in this matter as soon as possible. The present members of the commission are the
Treasurer of the Commonwealth, the Chief Justice of the High Court, the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, the Secretary to the Treasury, and the Solicitor-General. The States will agree among themselves as to their nominee, and he will then be appointed a member of the commission.
– I suppose the State to which the right honorable Leader of the Senate and I belong, is likely to be most affected by this provision, as it is the only one which has kept intact a really good sinking fund. This fund, the management of which has for many years been in the hands of a committee, has served a useful purpose in keeping the credit of the State at a high level on the London market. I should like to know what will be the position of that committee, comprising able men who have wisely invested the accumulations of the sinking fund, when this provision becomes effective. Will the committee go out of existence, or will it continue to manage that portion of the sinking fund which was in existence before the signing of the Financial Agreement? This is an important point, and I should like the Leader of the Senate to clear it up.
– It is proposed to absorb the State sinking funds.
– That is so, but I do not know how the fund will stand in relation to past debts. If the National Debt Commission does its work as well as this committee has done in the past, it will be a good thing for Australia.
– I should like to know what would happen in the event of new States being created? We have passed a Financial Agreement Validation Bill which ratifies an agreement entered into between the Commonwealth and State Governments. Suppose new States were to be created in the Northern Territory, Western Australia or Queensland. Would there need to be an amendment, of this bill, or of the act ratifying the Financial Agreement, before provision could be made for them on the National Debt Commission ?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Vice-President of the point raised by Senator Lynch, no provision is made in this bill for dealing with the situation arising out of the creation of new States. Nor is there any provision in the Financial Agreement Validation Bill, except that the agreement may be varied by the consent of all the parties. If a new State were formed, and it had constituted part of an existing State, it would be necessary to arrive at some arrangement as to how the debts of that State should be shared between the parties to the agreement.
– Would that require an amendment of the Constitution?
– I do not think so; it would require only a supplementary financial agreement. Senator Kingsmill and I share a very natural pride regarding the activities of the Western Australian Sinking Fund Committee. We like to think that its work was an example to the world in the management of sinking funds. The position of that committee is not affected by this bill, but in the Financial Agreement Validation Bill it was dealt with in the schedule, page 15, subparagraph (m), which reads as follows -
Where the conditions relating to sinking funds, redemption funds, and funds of a like nature as aforesaid held by a State on trust or by trustees under statutory or contractual obligations preclude the transfer of those funds to the National Debt Commission, such funds shall remain under the control of the Slate or those trustees, and the National Debt Commission will cither directly or through the State concerned make all future payments to the State or to those trustees from the sinking fund.
– That is very satisfactory.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and bill (on motion by Senator Ogden) read a first time.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a purely formal measure and is similar in every respect to the Dried Fruits Export Charges Bill, which has already been passed by the Senate. It merely provides that the levies shall be collected by the Department of Markets and Transport, instead of by the Department of Trade and Customs.
– As the Honorary Minister has assured us that this measure is similar in every respect to the Dried Fruits Export Charges Bill, which merely provides for an alteration in connexion with the collection of levies, and as I understand that no alteration in principle is involved, I offer no objection to its passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages, without requests or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and bill (on motion by Senator Ogden) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
As this measure is similar to those relating to dairy produce and dried fruits, to which the Senate has already agreed, there is no necessity for me to explain its provisions.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Sitting suspended from 2.24 to 2.33 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Sir George
Pearce) - (by leave) - agreed to -
That leave of absence be granted to every member of the Senate from the determination of the sitting this day to the day on which the Senate next meets.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn till a day and hour to be fixed by the President, which time of meeting shall be notified to each senator by telegram or letter.
[2.35]. - In moving
That the Senate do now adjourn,
I desire on behalf of the Government to thank honorable senators for the consideration they have extended to the Government and for the assistance they have given it in passing the measures that have come before the Senate. I trust that the recess which is now before honorable senators will refresh them and enable them to come back to their labours well and fit.
It is not anticipated that the method of summoning members outlined in the motion to which the Senate agreed a few moments ago will be adopted on this occasion. It is anticipated that Parliament will be prorogued and called together in the ordinary way through the Governor-General.
.- I take this opportunity to voice my dissatisfaction and disappointment at the unnecessary delay on the part of the Government in dealing with the request made to it by the Tasmanian Evaporated Apples Association for some assistance in the shape of a bounty, in order that the evaporated apples industry may be carried on. Honorable senators will recollect that when I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs whether any decision had yet been reached in regard to this matter his reply was that no definite decision had been arrived at. I want to impress on the Government the effect its delay will have. The decision of the Government, even if it proved unsatisfactory, would have to be accepted, but it is extremely upsetting to the Evaporated Apples Association to realize that the Government has not yet arrived at a decision. It seems strange to those connected with the industry and to the people of Tasmania generally that the evaporated apples processers have not had extended to them the favorable treatment in the shape of a bounty that the canned fruits industry lias enjoyed for some years. It is some time since the attention of the Government was directed to the fact that if the evaporated apples industry was to carry on successfully some form of Government assistance must be given to it.
– Where is the output chiefly marketed?
– Unfortunately it cannot now be sold with success in Great Britain or on the continent because of competition from America, but everyone fays that Tasmanian evaporated apples are absolutely first class, and about the finest produced in the world. The industry is asking for a bounty of 2d. per lb. on evaporated apples. When I referred to this matter on the 7th inst., the Honorary Minister, Senator McLachlan, in the course of his remarks, said -
I understand from the honorable senator that a bounty of 2d. per lb. would yield a profit of Id. per lb. to the grower; but it strikes mc that it might be better to consider the advisability of giving the growers Id. per lb., and leave the apples where they are.
Apparently the Minister does not understand the position. As it takes 8 lb. of green apples to make 1 lb. of evaporated apples, the Minister’s suggested grant of Id. per lb. in the case of green apples would be equal to a bounty of 3s. 4d. a bushel on apples, whereas the Evaporated Apples Association is asking for a maximum of 2d. per lb. on evaporated apples, which is equal to only lOd. a bushel on green apples. Although the industry is small, approximately £70,000 has been invested in factories for evaporating apples. Last year the capacity of the existing plants was not utilized to the fullest. Another 100,000 bushels of apples could have been processed, which would have meant the distribution of an additional £10,000 to the orchardists and £6,000 to the factory operatives. Owing to the large crop of apples in Tasmania last year, the absence of a bounty and thu consequent impossibility of placing evaporated apples on the British market, over 1,000,000 bushels of apples went to waste. It seems to me that the payment of a bounty which, while not amounting to more than £4,000 a year, would prevent good foodstuffs from going to waste, is a policy that should commend itself to any government. I speak on this matter, knowing well that anything I say will have no effect on this year’s output, because, even if a bounty were made available, by the time Parliament next met the season would then be practically over. Nevertheless, I feel it my duty to call attention to this food now going to waste each year which could be evaporated and turned into a wholesome and readily marketable product, if only the Government would give this Tasmanian industry some small assistance. I am disappointed that Tasmania, which suffers so many disabilities on account of its geographical position, has not been able to keep this industry flourishing, so that it might be of real use to the community. I urge the Government to, even at this late hour, give the request favorable consideration. Although it may not be of much value to the industry this year, it certainly would encourage producers to carry on in the hope that their returns next year would be more satisfactory.
– Is there any export trade in evaporated apples ?
– There was for a time, but the exporters were unable without assistance to compete with the American evaporated apples. Consequently they have to rely on the Australian market almost entirely, though there might be an outlet for a certain quantity in Java and the Dutch East Indies. The apples used for the evaporation process are not commercially marketable in Australia because of defective shape or spotted skins; but they are quite as wholesome as the finest eating apples. If the Government can see its way clear to grant the request, the industry will provide a certain amount of employment, not only in the business of evaporation, but in the manufacture of export cases and in other directions. The industry is well worth encouraging.
– Should not the proposal be submitted to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research?
– The facts of the industry are so patent that the course suggested by the honorable senator is not necessary. The canned fruits industry has received substantial encouragement and, as the result, a fair export tradeis being developed. Why should there be any differentiation, if the Government is satisfied that there is a market for evaporated apples at a price that will give the grower and the evaporaters a reasonable return? I hope that we shall have a favorable reply from the Government before Parliament goes into recess.
– I rise to make a suggestion in connexion with a matter which I raised yesterday in relation to cotton. The Leader of the Senate, in reply, stated that he anticipated the Prime Minister would be able in the near future, to make an announcement as to the policy of the Government, short of a statement of the tariff policy. It seems to me that in view of the fact that Parliament may not he sitting when the Government is ready to make an announcement, it might be highly desirable once the Government has made up its mind what it proposes to do, to call together the various interests associated with the industry and tell them of the decision short of an announcement in regard to the tariff. I recognize that there are many difficulties associated with the industry, and it is quite possible that a decision which the Government might come to in all good faith would not fully meet the technical requirements of the industry. I think, therefore, that probably it would be wise if the Government paid heed to my suggestion. It is, I believe, one that will be approved of by those connected with the industry. I may add that I am making this suggestion entirely on my own responsibility. I have not had an opportunity to consultthe various interests concerned, but I throw out the suggestion in the best of good faith and with a genuine desire to help the Government in a matter which, I admit, is bristling with technical difficulties. I am quite sure it is the desire of the Government to help the industry, and I believe it would be well if, before finally committing itself to any scheme, the Ministry advised the people concerned. If they have any suggestions to meet the situation and at the same time give effect to the Government’s policy, I feel sure that they will be most happy to tell the Government.
– I direct attention to the unsatisfactory position of the wool industry in Australia in the hope that something may be done without unnecessary delay in the way of scientific research to place it on a more satisfactory basis. It has been said that Australia is carried on the sheep’s back. The truth of this is, I think, generally acknowledged, and I feel that unless something can be done to safeguard the industry, we may find it difficult to maintain the present standard of living in this country. I have here interesting figures, setting out the position, which I should like to place on record, and I hope that during the recess the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research will devote its energies to an investigation of the several problems which are exercizing the minds of the various graziers’ associations. The following figures relating to the production, value and average price of greasy wool, are, I think, impressive: -
It is estimated that for this year, there will be a 20 per cent. decline in price. This is practically 4d. a lb. reduction in greasy wool. Students of these figures will realize their significance. A drop of 4d. a lb. for greasy wool will bring the price this year to 16½d. a lb., compared with 20½d. in 1926-27.
– What can Parliament do about that?
– I admit that Parliament is powerless. It may, however, be helpful if we consider certain factors which have a certain bearing on the price realized for Australian wool. I refer particularly to the increasing competition of artificial wool and rayon. In 1924, the United States of America produced 36,000,000 lb. of rayon and artificial wool; in 1928 the production rose to 99,500,000 lb., and this year the estimated production is 135,000,000 lb. In Great Britain for the same years, the production was 24,500,000 lb., 50,000,000 lb. and 60,000,000 lb. respectively. The world’s production in 1924 was 137,000,000 lb. and in 1928 323,500,000 lb. The figures for 1929 are of course not available yet. I suggest that these figures are somewhat alarming. The world’s fashion seems to be in the direction of utilizing more and more of artificial wool and rayon.
As showing the influence of this comparatively new industry on development, I may inform honorable senators that in the United States of America, Elizabethtown, a town in Tennessee, two years ago had a population of 2,400, and to-day its population is 12,000. During these two years the price of land rose to 50 times its former value. The reason for this was the introduction of German capital into the South-Eastern States of America. The American tariff prohibited the introduction of German artificial silk goods, so the mountain went to Mohamet, and German capital, to the extent of many millions of pounds, was laid out on plant and factories for the manufacture of artificial silk and rayon. When cotton is harvested and taken to the ginneries, the cotton itself is extracted from the seed, attached to which is a waste product from which, in the past, such material as surgical lint was made. A method has now been devised by which that waste product is utilized and sold in the market at1d. a lb.
– It is worth more than that.
– I am quoting from a recognized publication, and if my authority is wrong, I shall be pleased to he corrected. My information is that the waste products treated at Elizabethtown, which is the centre of the cotton industry there, is sold at 2 cents a lb. From this waste product, by means of up-to-date German machinery, is being made rayon and artificial silk, which has taken the place of wool for many of our requirements.
Let me quote what has happened in connexion with the development of the cotton industry in England.
A new romance in British industry recalling the introduction of rubber plantations into Malasia, is contained inan announcement appearing in the Observer, that between three and four million pounds of “ artificial cotton “ are now being grown in England and will be available in July for English cotton-spinners at a fixed price of 12 cents a pound against 20 cents for real cotton.
This means a saving of8 cents on the present price of real cotton. Yet it is asserted that the new product meets everydemand of the “ coarse count “ required by the British cotton industry.
The secret of the new product was told to British research workers literally by a little bird. Eight years ago this feathered artisan was seen in British Guiana building its nest with material which appeared to be cotton. Investigation showed that the bird was picking a certain plant and stripping and treating it. The seeds and roots of this plant were brought to England and have been grown on soil in Essex and Sussex counties that is of little use for anything else. The plant reaches a height of seven feet.
Lancashire and Yorkshire cotton millowners, when shown the new product, readily agreed to accept it, and it is announced that in a few years it will be grown in sufficient quantity and quality to meet the demand for coarse count of the whole British cotton industry.
This artificial cotton, it is maintained, can be treated by existing cotton machinery.Its yarn can be blended like cotton, with silk, artificial silk or wool, it is said, and it will takethe most delicate dyes, absorbinga third less dye than real cotton requires.
I mention these matters in regard to wool and also to cotton, in which so many of our returned soldiers are interested, because we should be alive to the fact that science is being applied to them in other parts of the world.
Unless we are prepared to do our part our wool trade will be in jeopardy, and the cotton-growers in Queensland will be threatened with disaster. Our Council for Scentific and IndustrialResearch is making inquiries into certain branches of primary industry but not much has yet been done in the direction of conducting investigation on a scientific basis into the wool industry. There is, in Adelaide, a laboratory under the control of Professor Robertson, which investigates certain diseases in sheep, and the Commonwealth Government has given £1,000 to the British Research Association which has established in New South Wales a laboratory to deal with the blowfly pest; but I fail to see that any thing has been done in the direction of actual scientific research into such problems as the standardization of wool.
– Even the sheep men themselves have not done much.
– At any rate, the sheep men have given a lead to the Government in that they are endeavouring to raise a sum of £200,000 by means of a levy on wool, to enable them to investigate their problems scientifically. The wool industry in Australia is not in the sound position that many persons think. The wool producers have to combat such difficulties as rising land values, noxious weeds, increased taxation, high wages, the rabbit pest, parasites, blowflies, and, in some districts,the fluke.
– In South Africa the cost of producing wool is only about half what it is here.
– That is so; and since South Africa has been mentioned, it may be of interest to note the quantities of wool being produced in that and other countries. In 1927, the total number of sheep in the world was 627,000,000, while the wool production was 3,100,000,000 lb. Of this quantity, Australia produced855,000,000lb. from 103,000,000 sheep. New Zealand had 25,000,000, and produced 202,000,000 lb. weight of wool. China had 26,000,000 sheep, and produced 60,000,000 lb. of wool ; the Argentine had 36,000,000 sheep and produced 331,000,000 lb. of wool. The Union of South Africa to which Senator Thompson referred, had 18,000,000 sheep, and produced 251,000,000 lb. of wool. Russia, in spite of the unsettled conditions prevailing there, had 32,000,000 sheep, and produced 237,000,000 lb. of wool. Of the total quantity of wool produced in the world that year, more than half came from countries south of the Equator. Although wool production is carried on on a comparatively small scale in the United Statesof America, an enormous amount ofscientificresearchhas been made into matters relating to wool and sheep.
They do not produce wool of such fineness or density as we do, but they still consider it worth while to probe into matters relating to the standardization of wool, improvement of pastures, and increasing the length of the staple. That being so, it is surely the duty of the Government in Australia to encourage scientific work here. We should not allow things to drift until our wool trade has been lost ; the time to act is now. I admit that within the last few months the British Government, through the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, has sent out Dr. Arnold Theiler and Dr. Orr, who propose to visit all the dominions. Dr. Arnold Theiler is a professor from Leeds, England.
– He came out at the request of the Commonwealth Government.
– But according to what I read he was visiting all the British Dominions.
– Both have returned to England.
– I understand they visited New Zealand and South Africa.
– They went straight back to England from Australia.
– No doubt their reports will throw some light upon this most important subject. As we have a Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and expert advisors in this important branch we ought to do more than we are at present.
It may be asked why do we not introduce the rayon . business into Australia? I do not suggest that we should be able to successfully compete with other countries, but in these days it is useless to attempt to do so if we continue to pursue the course we have followed in recent years. If we are to get the best out of our production we should harness science to industry. I should like to quote what the Prime Minister of Great Britain (Mr. Baldwin) said in 1927. These were his words -
No one will assert that British industry can be saved by science alone; but it is none the less true that until scientific men and scientific methods can take their place in industry and an equal place with the administrator and financier, British trade will never be strong or resilient enough to meet the shocks which it is bound to meetas the years go by or to meet the sudden and unexpected changes which will always arise in international trade. . . .
– Is it not our problem to reduce the cost of production?
– That is one of the most important links in a most important economic chain.I admitthat if we are to successfully compete with other countries, economic production is a most important factor. But even if we can produce economically our production, both as regards quantity and quality, could he improved by scientific aid. As science is playing such an important part in the development of industry it isthe duty of the Commonwealth Government in this regard to keep abreast of other nations, otherwise we shall be left behind. Scientific aid to industry has very far reaching effects, but up to the present very little has been done by Australia. It has been asked why the graziers do not do more to assist themselves. They are prepared to render financial assistance; butI think it is the duty of the Government tosee that scientists and others get to work immediately so that we shall always be able to market products equal to the world’s requirements. Frequent reference is made to the quality of Australian wool. During the war period when the disposal of the product was controlled under the War Precautions Act or its regulations, the Australian clip comprised over 500 different classes, whilst the classifications in New Zealand totalled 700. We have been informed that by investigation and research Australia should and would be able to produce a standardized wool; that as the result of such investigation and research growers would know exactly what class to produce, and the buyers would know that they were getting the class they required.
– Buyers require a variety of classes.
– Certainly. During the war period 100 different classes of merino wool alone were handled by experts.
– The buyers do not want only fine merino.
– During the war period, manufacturers used principally coarse wool and crossbred - second or third grade - for the manufacture of soldiers’ blankets and tunics. At present the demand is for fine merino. There are so many classes and classifications that in order to standardize wool, an investigation should be undertaken by scientists to show the wool-growers of Australia how to produce an article which will meet the requirements of manufacturers.I leave it at that. I hope that in future more attention will be given to this important industry, and that during the next year or two, at least, greater support will be given by the Government, particularly to the pastoralists and sheep men generally. If an investigation were undertaken at once, I am sure the results would not only be of great assistance to our wool producers, but from a national viewpoint would have a wonderful effect upon the whole of the people of Australia.
– I assure Senator Greene that the suggestion which he has made in connexion with the cotton industry, and which appears to me to be reasonable, will be conveyed to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Gulletl) and will, I have no doubt, be acted upon. I am sure the honorable senator realizes the difficulties that may arise in one direction ; but apart from this, I see no reason why those engaged in the industry should not be consulted by the Minister. I shall convey the honorable senator’s suggestion to the Minister.
I endeavoured to make it plain to Senator Payne the other evening, when discussing the subject of evaporated apples, that, on his own statement, the payment of a bounty of 2d. a lb. would result in the factories making a profit of1d. a lb., and I ventured the personal opinion that it might be more profitable for those concerned to take someother action. I shall, however, see that the matter raised by the honorable senator is conveyed to the Minister for Trade and Customs. The work ofthe Tariff Board has been held in abeyance during the past fortnight owing to a change in its personnel, and it may therefore be some time before a definite report is obtained on the matter.
– I understood the Government had the matter before it, but had not come to a decision.
SenatorMcLACHLAN. - As far as I urn aware that is not the case. I understand that some preliminary inquiries have been conducted, but that no definite recommendation has been made. 1 shall convey the honorable senator’s remarks to the Minister, who will no doubt take them into consideration.
[3.25]. - We have all listened with great interest to the remarks of Senator P. P. Abbott in connexion withthe wool industry. I regret that he has not been altogether just to the Commonwealth, which through the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has done much more for the industry than he has mentioned to-day. Had time permitted, I could have set out in detail the valuable work which has been and is being undertaken; but as at the Sydney Show, next week, the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) will deliver a speech, which will be largely an exposition of what the Government is doing in this and other directions, I do not know that I ought to steal his thunder. If Senator P. P. Abbott hears or reads that speech I am sure he will realize that the Commonwealth is devoting a good deal of attention and scientific effort towards assisting the woolgrowing industry of Australia. I am glad be mentioned that it was the intention of the wool-growers to help themselves. That is a praiseworthy effort. I am sorry, however, that in their attempt to collect £200,000 they have up to the present raised only £35,000, which is not a very large amount for such a wealthy industry. It is hoped that they will continue in their praiseworthy effort and raise the full amount they require. Realizing the value of this industry to Australia, the Government is seized with the importance of utilizing all the scientific intelligence available in Australia and in other countries to assist the industry. It is not being dealt with merely as an Australian problem. We are linking up our efforts and ability with the best brains of the Empire, and through the Empire Marketing Board are obtaining valuable assistance. The visits of Sir Arnold Theiler, a leading veterinarian, and probablyone of the world’s leading scientists, and of Dr. Orr will establish co-operation between the Commonwealth and Great Britainin this regard. When honorable senators have read the speech which the Prime Minister is to deliver in Sydney next week, I am sure they will admit that the Government is endeavouring to do its duty in this regard.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.29.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 March 1929, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1929/19290322_senate_11_120/>.