12th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. W. Kingsmill) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I should like to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council a very simple question - whether the Government favours the principle of compulsory unionism?
– The honorable senator has been long enough in Parliament to know that matters of Government policy are not ordinarily stated in reply to questions.
– Is the Vice-President of the Executive Council in a position to make a statement as to the progress that has been made towards obtaining industrial peace in the coal industry?
– I know nothing beyond what I have read in the press.
– I should like to know if the Government has yet decided to prosecute John Brown ?
– If the honorable senator had been in the chamber yesterday he would have heard that question answered.
The following paper was presented : -
Quarantine Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1020, No. 120.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
Operation of New Tariff
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has answered the honorable senator’s questions as follows: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained and a reply will be furnished to the honorable senator as early as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether he is in a position to inform the Senate when effect will be given to the promise to provide a bounty for the production of newsprint?
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has informed me that this matter is at present, under considera tion.
Hobart-Melbourne Passenger SERVICE
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– This matter is at present receiving attention, and an announcement of the Government’s intentions will he made as soon as practicable.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained, and a reply will be furnished to the honorable senator as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Markets and Transport, upon notice -
– A proclamation has already been issued prohibiting the exportation of stud sheep, unless the consent in writing of the Minister for Trade and Customs has first been obtained.
asked the Minister representing the’ Treasurer, upon notice -
In view of the additional burdens imposed on the people of Western Australia by the new tariff, will the Government introduce legislation to increase the present disabilities grant to Western Australia to at least the sum of £450,000 per year, which was paid for the financial year 1925-20, and which was recommended as a permanent grant by a majority of the Royal Commission which inquired into the disabilities of Western Australia under federation ?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question : -
The Government will give due consideration to any claim made by Western Australia or any other State for special financial assistance.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– Full information on all these points will be afforded honorable senators when the schedule is being discussed.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice - .
Is it true that the Government is dismissing postal employees; if so, why is that action being taken?
– The Postmaster-General has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
Everything possible has been done to avoid dismissals. There are, however, certain cases in which temporary men had been employed in positions for which permanent staff was subsequently appointed, and it was obviously impracticable to retain these men on the duties they have hitherto performed. In certain instances it lias been possible to find alternative duties, but where this could not be done the department has been reluctantly compelled to let a few men go. Arrangements have been made to retain for some months ahead practically all the temporary men engaged on engineering construction work.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Will he lay on the Table of the Senate at an early date the report of the Development and Migration Commission on the proposal for a bounty on exported evaporated apples, on which report the recommendation of the Board of Trade was based?
– The report referred to by the honorable senator was recently received, and I shall be pleased to make a copy available to him and other honorable senators if desired.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he request the Public Accounts Committee to inquire, while in Tasmania, into the question of granting a bonus on evaporated apples for export overseas?
– The Prime Minister has informed me that consideration will be given to the suggestion of the honorable senator.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Has the Government yet received a report from the Tariff Board on the price of superphosphates, and if so, when will such report be made available to senators?
– The Minister for Trade and Customs informs me that the report has not been received.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Before dealing with the amendments now sought in the Migration Agreement with the British Government, will the Government consult the Western Australian Government, which is a signatory to the agreement, and guarantee to it that the amendments sought will not prejudice the progress of the 3,000 farms scheme in that State?
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question : -
When a basis for negotiation has been reached between the British and Commonwealth Governments, the States will be fully consulted in regard to any amendments of the Migration Agreement.
Debate resumed from 27th November (vide page 308), on motion by Senator Dooley -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech be agreed to: -
To His Excellency the Governor-General -
May it Please Your Excellency :
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– The second charge levelled against, the Government relates to the problems of migration. It is obvious to me that certain honorable senators are not fully acquainted with the provisions of what is termed the £34,000,000 agreement. This Government is not opposed to migration. As soon as it is possible to absorb them the Government will welcome and assist an influx of the descendants of British stock, but it is not prepared to advise and encourage people to come here under promises of advantages which we know we cannot fulfil when they arrive.
In order properly to understand the migration agreement, it is necessary to study the events which immediately preceded its execution by the British and Commonwealth Governments. There was then in operation between the British Government and three Australian States, Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia, an agreement which cast upon Great Britain a liability to secure advances to the three States concerned -of amounts up to £14,000,000. From that sura certain moneys were to be advanced for what is known as the group settlement scheme in Western Australia, and for the opening up of sections of the Mallee country and the wet districts of Victoria. The exPrime Minister, Mr. Bruce, in association with ex-Senator Sir Victor Wilson, visited Great Britain, and there discussed with the British Government Australia’s relationship to the Mother Country. A migration compact was considered and eventually signed. It must be remembered that at that time Australia was enjoying an era of prosperity, and that its normal migration figures were somewhere in the vicinity of 30,000 per annum. The agreement was entered into with the best of intentions, the parties concerned believing that they were justified in speeding up migration to Australia. They reasoned out that, with the expenditure of additional capital, migration to this country could be increased from 30,000 to 40,000 per annum. The old agreement was modified and merged into the new one, which involved Great Britain in an additional obligation of £20,000,000, and became known as the £34,000,000 agreement.
Profiting by its experience under the £14,000,000 agreement, Great Britain naturally insisted upon the insertion of certain clauses,, and it is to those clauses that I particularly desire to draw the attention of honorable senators. Under what I shall now speak of as the new agreement, the Commonwealth Government was to find the money in the same way as it would for ordinary loan purposes, and from the amounts so raised it was to finance the developmental requirements of the States. For a specified period Great Britain was to bear two-fifths, the Commonwealth Government two-fifths, and the State Government one-fifth of the interest. Advances were to be made either for farm development or for the construction of public works. . As the scheme developed, practically the whole expenditure under the new agreement was in respect of public works. The money advanced involved an absorption provision of one migrant for every £75 advanced to the States.
– What was the term of the loan?
– Australia was to absorb the quota of migrants specified by the year 1935.
– How many had we to absorb per annum ?
– Approximately 40,000. The absorption provision meant that for every £75 advanced for public works, the State concerned had, in addition to its natural increase, to add one migrant to its population. For this Great Britain was pledged to pay not the £75, but the equivalent of ten years’ interest, based on a two-fifths proportion of the interest paid by the Commonwealth in the raising of the £75 loan.
The desire of the Mother Country was to settle her people satisfactorily in Australia, while our idea was primarily to develop Australia’s natural resources. Here, I believe, the first mistake was made. Development was to run concurrently with migration. Let us assume that a reservoir would cost £1,500,000, and would take five years to complete. It will be appreciated that such a work could not, concurrent with payment, absorb migrants at the rate of one for every £75 expended, so that during the five years constructional period some other industry would have to absorb the migrants and so carry them over the interim. I am not condemning the Government for making such an error. lt is an error into which the parties concerned might easily fall at the time the agreement was signed. The Commonwealth Government was in duty bound to Great Britain to see, first that the money was wisely expended, and secondly that the absorption responsibilities were complied with. However, when this Government assumed office it discovered that some States had not absorbed their quota of migrants, and that they had drawn from the Commonwealth Treasury more money than they were entitled to claim. When the present Government assumed office South Australia had absorbed 2,281 migrants less than her quota; and at that time the Tod River reservoir had not been completed. “We had to study the absorptive capacity of the States. The Prime Minister having handed this matter over to me for attention, I had a conference with the members of the Development and Migration Commission. I asked them if they could supply any formula to guide the Government as to the absorptive capacity of the States. I realized that, although £1,500,000 might be spent on the construction of a dam, the determining factor was not necessarily the absorptive capacity of the surrounding country, but that of the State as a whole. The advice of an eminent authority - Professor Giblin - was sought, and he supplied a formula which, although necessarily only an approximation, was regarded as safe. He said that, in his opinion, if we spent on public works a sum which would result in an exportable surplus of £700, the absorptive capacity of that undertaking would be 21 persons.
– Does the honorable senator mean an overseas exportable surplus ?
– Yes. I then proceeded to examine some of the schemes which had been submitted. I wish to make it clear that I am not complaining that the Development and Migration Commission expended money unwisely from a developmental stand-point; but I do say that it spent money without due regard to the absorptive responsibilities of the Commonwealth. In considering one of the best schemes submitted - one involving the expenditure of £148,000 on road construction and other works in Gippsland with the object of opening up 48 new farms - I found that the expenditure worked out at slightly over £3,000 per farm. Under the agreement which provides that one migrant shall be absorbed for every £75 advanced, an expenditure of £3,000 requires the absorption of 40 migrants. That left us 37 migrants short per farm in that one instance alone. Applying Professor. Giblin’s formula, it will be seen that it would be necessary for each of those farms to produce exportable wealth to the extent of approximately £1,300 per annum to meet our absorptive responsibilities. The instance I have given is not an isolated one. In connexion with the Wyangala dam scheme, £1,521,000 was to be expended over a period of years, for the purpose of opening up 800 farms. An examination of those figures will reveal to honorable senators where we were drifting. When the day of reckoning came, Australia would have stood in a very bad light in the eyes of the British people - it would have been regarded as a country which could not be depended upon to keep its promise.
– Would it not have been better to provide one farm for every £1,000, instead of one migrant for every £75?
– Had the scheme been one providing for farm settlement, that would have been all right ; but this money was advanced under a public works scheme. A farm settlement scheme would have necessitated clearing the land and making it available to settlers. When the present Government assumed office, the Commonwealth was under an oblige^ tion, under the £34,000,000 agreement, to raise loans and to pay our proportion of interest in respect of State schemes already approved, but incomplete, to the extent of £2,186,802; and in respect of State schemes in course of investigation, in connexion with which there was a moral or implied commitment, to the extent of approximately £3,000,000. Those schemes included some in respect of which honorable senators opposite might suggest that we should not have interfered with the agreement, because of certain action already taken by the States. The schemes referred to represent an expenditure of approximately £5,000,000 of the £20,000,000 we were to obtain from Britain.
Seeing that before 1935 Australia had to absorb 50,473 migrants in respect to the schemes already referred to, what could the Government do in view of its knowledge of Australia’s absorption capacity? As a partner with Britain in the matter of providing cheap money for the States, the Government, when it realized the true position, was in. duty bound to take its partner into its confidence, and point out the true economic position. It is a matter for regret that this stop was not taken earlier, before the taxpayers of this country were saddled, as they undoubtedly are saddled to-day, with the added responsibility. Having discovered those facts, I again conferred with the members of the Development and Migration Commission. I asked the members of it, as man to man, within what period, if any, they thought the Government could inform Britain that Australia could absorb the migrants to be absorbed under the agreement. I was told that that depended on seasonal, and a number of other considerations.
– What was the date of that conference?
– I cannot now give the exact date; but conferences took place before and after the Government despatched the cable message to Britain. I have been investigating this matter ever since the new Ministry was formed. The members of the Development and Migration Commission were in the light of their experience unanimously of the opinion that Australia could not, absorb one migrant for every £75 spent on public works. Realizing these facts the only honorable course open to the Government was to ask the British Government not to accentuate our present difficulties or the position that had arisen under the £14,000,000 agreement. Under that arrangement 700 settlers were to be placed on the land in Victoria, but to-day only 200 arc on farms. We therefore, in these circumstances, asked the British Government to suspend the migration provisions until the Prime Minister could confer with the British authorities and lay down a new basis whereby the settlement of Australia by white people might be definitely assured. Such schemes as have been going on here are calculated to bring discredit upon Australia in the eyes of the people of Great Britain. The Government felt, therefore, that the only honest course to follow was to place the facts fairly before the British Government, and we did so through its representative in this country. Following a conference which the Prime Minister had with that official and the Development and Migration Commission, he despatched the cable to the British Government.
– Is it not a fact that Australia can absorb, over a lengthy period, a much greater number of people than have been brought to this country under the agreement?
– Of course it can. 1 admit that there are vast open spaces crying out for settlement, but we had to pay regard to our obligations under the agreement. The Commonwealth had pledged its word to do certain things, and we had to face the facts.
– Were not the States partners in the agreement and should not they have been consulted?
– The agreement between the Commonwealth and the British Government did not directly concern the States, but it provided that the Commonwealth should enter into an agreement with the States and advance the necessary money. The British and Commonwealth Governments were the two partners; the Commonwealth was to borrow the money and our partner was to assist us to meet the interest bill. We were to lend the money at a low rate of interest to the States; but we found that, as a partner, wc could not satisfactorily carry out our agreement, because some of the States were not standing up to their obligations.
– Did not the agreement contemplate the Commonwealth Government making an agreement with the States?
– Yes, but it was not anticipated that such a state of. affairs as had been disclosed would arise. The
Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senaror Glasgow) may be surprised to know that, at this moment, the Commonwealth Government is committed to advance to the Government of Victoria £1,228,725 without that State taking one solitary migrant. It is similarly committed to the Queensland Government to the extent of £221,625, and to the State of Tasmania to the amount of £53,625. These are our commitments and the taxpayers of those particular States are even now paying their proportion of the two-fifths of the interest charges for the development of Australia upon lines which are absolutely contrary to the provisions of the migration agreement.
– Has the Queensland Government refused to stand up to its quota in respect of that amount?
– No, but it now has before the Development and Migration Commission a scheme for ring-barking, involving an expenditure of £600,000. What we have to consider, however, is our agreement with Britain.
– But we contend that even if the States are not directly brought under that agreement they have a share in it.
– The States have an agreement with us, but if they broke it that would be no concern of the British Government, which would look to the Commonwealth to fulfill its part of the agreement. It is of no use for honorable senators to adopt an ostrich-like attitude. They should realize that at the end of ten years every penny advanced under this scheme will come back to the Commonwealth. We have lent the money to the States. The States become our debtors and Britain walks out.
– The States pay the interest.
– Yes. But if the position were allowed to drift as it has drifted for some considerable time, the Commonwealth Government would probably be called upon to write off an amount perhaps as large as has been written off in connexion with soldier settlement.
– Does the Minister suggest that the States would repudiate their financial obligations to the Commonwealth?
– No; but they might ask for relief or appeal for a grant in. aid.
– Does not the statement of the Minister amount to an admission that this country cannot absorb even 3,000 people in nine months?
– Not at all. Either the honorable senator has not been listening or I have not explained the position to his satisfaction. We are not worrying so much about the 3,000 people who have arrived in Australia during the last nine months, as we are in regard to our responsibility under the absorption provisions of the agreement with the British Government, and we have also in mind the fact that already there is in Australia an army of unemployed totalling 180,000. Even if only 3,000 people came to Australia in nine months, we could not at present expect to find employment for them unless we put public works in hand. There is no intention on the part of the Government to prevent the admission of migrants if they can afford to wait for work, but what we do say is that we should provide work for our own people before we encourage others to come to Australia and flood the labour market here.I do not think that even Senator Glasgow will dispute the wisdom of that course.
– Many migrants are nominated by their friends.
– Yes ; and the Government’s proposal contains a saving provision that dependants of migrants will be assisted. What we are suggesting to the British Government is that our obligation to assist migrants to come here in search of work while we have more unemployed than we can deal with, should be suspended.
– Can the honorable senator say how many migrants have come to Australia in the last nine months in search of work?
– No; but I should imagine that either they have displaced Australians or are out of work.
– It does not necessarily follow that they displace Australians. Farmers sometimes nominate friends and find employment for them on their farms.
– I doubt that many farmers to-day are seeking labour. On the contrary, many of them are looking for rain or asking for drought relief. My impression is that, at the moment, there is not much chance of migrants finding work on Australian farms ; but the Government, if it is allowed to remain in office will do something to remedy this state of affairs. Instead of experimenting with the settlement of migrants on areas with a doubtful rainfall, it will endeavour to settle them in States with potentialities like “Western Australia; it will put them on areas with an assured rainfall. It will endeavour to bring about, what the British Economic Mission declared to be the only thing to save Australia and that is intensified production.
This brings me to the complaint that was made that the Government proposes to interfere with the functions of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Development and Migration Commission. Confusion has arisen in consequence of a statement which appeared in the Governor-General’s Speech to the effect that the Government proposes to co-ordinate the departments. If honorable senators dispassionately consider the objects for which these two bodies were created, they will agree with me that the Development and Migration Commission and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research were both established in order to assist in the development of the Commonwealth. Scientists were employed not to study scientific problems which were of little or no interest to Australia, but to devote their attention to those subjects which were of vital importance to Australia’s development. The Development and Migration Commission was established to discover means whereby Australia’s great resources could be further developed. It was realized that in the course of its investigations it would be confronted with problems which the members of that commission or its officers could not solve, and that they would have to receive the assistance of scientific men. For instance, vast areas in Queensland and New South “Wales had been rendered valueless in. consequence of the spread of the prickly pear, which it was useless to at tempt to eradicate by manual labour. The scientific brain was applied to this particular problem, and after a time, a means, was discovered whereby large areas, which because of this pest, were waste land, could be rendered productive. It is appalling to note that production in Australia has been retarded to the extent of £20,000,000 owing to the prevalence of weed pests. Scientists have also been engaged in ascertaining the reason why Australian sheep have not been producing a maximum quantity of wool, and why Australian meat, on reaching the London market, is not equal to the Argentine product. The scientists of the council are assisting Australian development. “When the present Government suggested the co-ordination of these two bodies it was not its intention to amalgamate their activities; buonly to bring the work of both bodies under the one administration. I think if honorable senators will study the budgets of the last few years, they’ will realize that there is need for the most rigid economy. “While a measure relating to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was under consideration in this chamber some time ago, Senator Duncan uttered a word of warning when he was informed by the then Leader of the Government, that the measure provided for the appointment of only one officer. The honorable senator then said that he had heard of one man departments being created; he could recall similar instances where only one man was to be appointed, but it was not long before that officer discovered that he needed a secretary, the secretary a typist, the typist an office boy, and by and by the office boy found that he wanted to be a junior clerk. In this way departments grow and overhead expenses rapidly increase.
– Does the honors able senator agree with that contention ?
– I do. I assert that the progress of Australia depends upon its requirements being studied from a scientific and sane standpoint. We ought to eliminate waste in every form, and I trust that the Opposition will give the Government the assistance that it deserves in that regard.
– It depends on what the Minister calls waste.
– As I do not think there is one subject upon which Senator Ogden and I are likely to agree I suggest we had better agree to disagree.
– What does the Minister mean by co-ordination of departments?
– If the honorable senator will study the figures which I am about to quote he will see that there is some necessity for co-ordination. In connexion with the Development and Migration Commission, I may state that the administrative expenses, including the Commissioners’ salaries, for 1926-27, were £109,745, while the amount it advanced to the States was £2,266,518. . When honorable senators remember that the principal work of the commission is to receive from the. Commonwealth-Treasury money to be advanced to the States for developmental work they will admit that the administrative expenses in that year were unnecessarily heavy.
– I do not think the Minister has put the position fairly. A portion of that sum was expended in connexion with migration ; it was not all for developmental purposes.
– Is the honorable senator referring to passage money?
– To administrative expenses.
– For instance, there is in London an officer who holds several posts, and is costing in all £5,000 a year.
– What is the officer’s name?
– Mr. MacDougall.
– The amount quoted by the Minister was not all new expenditure.
– Let us take the figures for the following year, and consider what was done in this happy-go-lucky style. In 1297-28 £2,507,096 was spent in connexion with development schemes, whilst the administrative costs, including commissioners’ salaries, were £124,000. In 1928-29 the expenditure for developmental purposes was £1,352,573, and the cost of administration £117,500. According to the estimates compiled by the late Government for 1929-30, £2,000,000, was to be expended, and the administrative costs were estimated at £112,000.
– That takes the cream off the cheap money.
– Yes. Including passage money, estimated to be spent, it represents 12.28 per cent, of the £2,000,000.; 1.4 per cent, is borne by the States, and the 12.28 per cent, by the Commonwealth, so that the Commonwealth has the most to lose. With these figures before the Government it was its duty to see if it was not practicable to remove some of this unnecessary burden from the shoulders of the taxpayers.
In connexion with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, I find that the administrative expenses in one year were £9,128, the members of the council receiving £2,762, and other administrative officers £6,366. For the year 1927-28 £2,500 was provided for the members of the council - the scientists - and the other administrative costs represented an amount of £S,865.
– The members of the council were only parttime officers.
– Yes. I could quote further figures to show that the administrative costs of the two departments under consideration are altogether out of proportion to the other expenditure. Administrative costs are approximately 13 per cent, and that is altogether too heavy. This is too heavy an expenditure but the explanation is easy. Honorable senators will realize the need for co-ordination when they learn that in one commission the commissioner has, in addition to the ordinary administrative staff, a secretary at £500 a year and a typist at £520. This has been going on for years. The administrative department of our Council for Scientific and Industrial Research comprises the chief executive officer, a very efficient and capable gentleman, one of the best we could possibly get for the job, a secretary, an assistant secretary, a chief clerk, an accountant and an assistant, all high salaried men. In addition, there are typists, messengers, office boys and caretakers. Finding this to be the state of affairs, my conscience compelled me to tell the Prime Minister that if we were to carry out the pledges we made to the electors we should have to make some endeavour to cut down overhead charges by co-ordinating some of the departments. There may be no need for co-ordination of the activities of the Development and Migration Commission and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, but it seems to mc that the secretary to one could also act as secretary to the other, and that one accountant and one chief clerk could answer for both. In that way we could save certain salaries. The individual savings might not be very large, but when a number of economies are effected the total savings amount to something which may go towards decreasing the enermous expenditure which is required at the present time to cany on the activities of the Development and Migration Commission and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. I trust, therefore, honorable senators will realize that when the Government took the step it did in respect to migration, it acted in the best interests of the people of Australia and Great Britain, and that its purpose in co-ordinating the administration of these two departments is not to stultify them but to make them, if possible, more efficient at the minimum cost to the taxpayers.
– What will be saved by this co-ordination?
– That is a matter which is now being inquired into by a more competent authority than I am. It is impossible for me to say just now what we can save, but I think I have said enough to convince honorable senators of the need for investigation in the matter of co-ordination. In the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, the Government announces that its purpose is to co-ordinate the departments wherever possible in order to save expenditure. All that is necessary, E submit, to satisfy honorable senators at this stage, is to quote sufficient data to convince them that the Government is justified in the action it is taking.
I thank Senator R. D. Elliott for the very graceful compliment he paid to the ministerial party in the Senate and for the very generous manner in which he defined his attitude towards the Government. I hope he will be emulated by other honorable senators. As a matter of fact, with one exception, honorable senators of the Opposition who have already spoken are evidently prepared to give the Minis ters a “go,” and I believe that so long as we follow the lines I have just outlined, and so long as we can put up as strong a defence against our. critics as I have put up this morning, the wishes of Senator Dunn for a double dissolution will not be satisfied.
I have said that there is one exception among those honorable senators who have spoken, and from that one exception we have had very serious charges against the party I have the honour to lead in the Senate. At a time like this it is essential to have co-operation, one party with the other, in order to minimize distress in Australia., and, if possible, grant adequate relief. It is necessary to apply the combined brains of the ministerial and opposition parties in the matter of development.
– Has that not always been necessary ?
– Of course, and perhaps more urgent to-day, but the point T wish to make is that, when there is every need for that co-operation, it is certainly not in the best interests of the country for an honorable senator to make serious charges, which he knows he cannot substantiate. I am referring to Senator Ogden, who said that the Labour party had sold itself to the picture interests. When I asked for proof of his assertion he said, “ You are against the taxation of gross profits, and yet you collect gross taxation from the hotelkeeper.” I think it is obvious to every honorable senator that the analogy that Senator Ogden drew was quite incorrect. It is true that the Labour party is opposed to any form of taxation on gross profits, but it does not tax the gross profits of the hotelkeeper. It taxes his whisky and beer.
– lt taxes the turnover of the distiller.
– The hotelkeepers beer and whisky are taxed before they go into the bar, where they are sold at a price which covers what is paid to the manufacturer, plus customs or excise duty. Neither does the Labour party tax the gross profits of the distiller. Has not the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Sir William Glasgow) heard of a distiller who may have in bond 2,000,000 gallons of proof spirit and has not sold the whole of it? We do not tax the gross profits.
– His production is taxed.
– Of course; but only up to a point. We do not tax his gross profits. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition knows as well as I do, that if an excise duty of ls. a gallon is placed on proof spirit the distiller calmly passes it on to the consumer.
– Just as the picture show proprietor would have passed on his taxation.
– On many occasions over the’ wireless, I heard the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) say that he brought in his tax on entertainments in o*rder to prevent picture theatre proprietors from passing it on. Whom am I to believe? The Leader of the late Government, or the Deputy Leader in the Senate to-day? Mr. Bruce said definitely that he would not put a penny piece upon the picture tickets, although the picture show proprietors showed him that he could get £700,000 increased revenue in that way. He declared that he would place the tax on the gross profits and compel the American interests, and not the Australians who attend the theatres, to pay the increased taxation.
– That reference was to the money which goes overseas.
– We were told by Mr. Bruce that this most ingenious method was hatched by himself to prevent the exploiter from exploiting the unfortunate public.
Senator Ogden said that we were seeking to decrease the price of beer, and suggested that the Labour party had always been in the pay of the liquor trade. The Labour party is no more in the pay of the liquor trade than is a man who is in favour of prohibition or the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. A certain party may think it is in its interests to spend money in securing the return to Parliament of Senator Ogden, because it knows that he is in favour of prohibition; but that does not suggest that he has sold his political soul to that party.
– The magazines of the picture theatre people are claiming that, the picture interests were responsible for the victory of the Labour party at the recent election.
– I have not heard it. said ; but it is like the old story of “ Who Killed Cock Robin?” Everybody put forward a claim to have had something to do with killing him, or making his shroud, or burying him.
– The honorable senator will admit that the picture theatre people supported the Labour party strongly.
– Of course, I admit it. There were other industries who feared the effect of the gross taxation proposed by the Bruce-Page Government, and also supported the Labour party. The last election was in the nature of an avalanche. It gave to thu Labour party the greatest vote it has ever received in Australia. The picture interests were not the only interests that were satisfied that thu Nationalists were becoming so desperate that there was every possibility of their becoming even more communistic than Senator Ogden suggests we are.
When the honorable senator spoke of whisky, he suggested that the Australian product was poison which the Government was anxious to have poured down the throats of Australian workers. . It was a distinct libel upon a big Australian industry. The honorable senator would not be prepared to make his statement outside the chamber.
– Is not the increased duty to afford protection to the Australian manufacturers?
– Yes; but the BrucePage Government had lowered the preference margin between Scotch and Australian whiskies.
– The preference remained the same, but there was a slight difference between the proportions.
– When we get down to proportions we get into difficulties. As I understand the position the Australian whisky was left at a considerable disadvantage by the Bruce-Page tariff, and all that the present Government has done has been to restore the position as closely as possible to what it formerly was. When the leader of the party to which the honorable senators opposite belong was speaking in Sydney on one occasion he said, “ If any Australian industry can prove to me that it is on its legs, and is in a position to supply Australia -with, commodities, I shall prohibit imports” of such commodities.
– We do not want the whisky industry established here.
– If Senator Ogden had his way he would put a prohibitive duty on Scotch whisky.
– I drink whisky; but what I am afraid of is that I shall be compelled to drink Australian whisky.
– The honorable senator might do worse. I do not know myself, because I do not drink whisky; but leading physicians tell me that pure malt whisky is a better product than the whisky we get from overseas. But the British manufacturers do not intend to allow the Australian distiller to collar the Australian market. They have already ‘ set about establishing their industries in Australia, giving employment to many people, and putting more money into circulation here.
– But did they ask for the duty that has been granted?
– They did not. There is an old philosophical saying that every man is as lazy as he dare be. These people are content with prevailing conditions provided that they can keep themselves in luxury in Scotland. It will be admitted that they have not been very much concerned about building up the industries of Australia. The Government, realizing that if the mountain would not come to Mahomet, Mahomet would have to go to the mountain, took the necessary preliminary steps to build up our local industry.
– Was the proposal put before the Tariff Board ?
– I am unable to answer that offhand.
– How are our manufacturers going to make Scotch whisky in Australia?
– I am informed that a great deal of Australia’s whisky is sent to Scotland, where it is labelled and returned to us as good Scotch whisky.
– No Scotch distiller will manufacture whisky in Australia on account of the absence of pot stills in this country.
– I see no reason why pot stills should not be established in Australia. I am informed that certain firms are making excellent whisky here.
– The Distilleries Co. Ltd. established . themselves at Geelong and manufactured satisfactorily under the old tariff.
– They saw the writing on the wall, and anticipated that a good Australian Government was about to assume office, which would practically prohibit the importation of products that could be satisfactorily manufactured in this country. I regret that these charges have been levelled against the Labour party.
– What about giving a lecture to the Government whip in the Senate?
– I suppose that in time we shall become accustomed to occupying the ministerial benches, and honorable senators opposite acclimatized in their new environment. Up to the present, neither party is quite at home in its new setting. Honorable senators opposite should set a good and not a bad example in the interim.
I assure the Opposition that this Government is not out to introduce any disruptive legislation. It has as its motto, “ The good of Australia.” I appeal to all parties to assist it in the troublous times through which Australia is passing, and am confident that if honorable senators opposite give their promised assistance the Government will do nothing which any senator need be ashamed to answer when next he faces his constituents.
– Although it is somewhat belated, I desire to join in the felicitations that have been offered to the Vice-President of the Executive Council, the Leader of this Government, and his stalwart colleague, Senator Barnes, on their elevation to ministerial rank. I do so with the greatest possible sincerity from the personal standpoint. From the political angle, holding the beliefs that I do, I can only regret their accession to office.
After the tempered observations which have just fallen from Senator Daly, and his assurances that no disruptive action will be taken by the Government, I feel a little more comfortable in sitting on this side of the chamber. I consider that when debating the Address-in-Reply we should pass in quick review, and deal in broad outlines with the policy of the Government as indicated in His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech. We should not indulge in that detail which occasionally characterizes some speeches. On examining the Governor-General’s Speech I observe that it contains eighteen paragraphs, in the main generalities and promises of conferences which, I assume, are to take the place of commissions. I trust that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Daly) will find those conferences less expensive that those to which he has referred. The Speech contains very little indication as to the lines of policy that the Government intends to pursue. Obviously, the Government is confining itself to “safety first “ methods. It has indicated to the people of Australia by a number of vague generalities, that it will inquire into various matters from time to time and the “meat,” if I may so term it, is contained in a very limited number of paragraphs indeed. Perhaps the Government is not altogether to blame . for not submitting a well-defined constructive policy at this stage. It has had a very limited tenure of office, and the session has been somewhat forced upon it; but the people of Australia and a certain section of their followers were “promised bread, and instead have been given a stone in the shape of a speech containing eighteen paragraphs, in which there is very little promise of political, economic, or financial benefit to the country.
Senator Dooley, for whom we have such a high regard personally, suggested that previous elections had been characterized by every conceivable act of political trickery. I can only assume that the honorable senator alluded to the methods employed by the late Government party, when conducting elections during the last fourteen or fifteen years. Judging by the skill with which honorable senators opposite indulged in political machinations during the last election, they have nothing to learn in the art. On more than one occasion I have seen the Labour party, which allegedly stands for high protection and boasts of its Australian principles, allying itself with a low tariff party for the purpose of securing political advantage. Some may claim that that is all in the political game, but it ill becomes our honorable friends opposite to accuse the Nationalist party of trickery, when they proved themselves such adepts at the business last year, and at the previous general election.
– Surely, the honorable senator does not suggest that we allied ourselves with the Country party?
– The Labour party did in two districts, that of Wakefield and that of Barker. By such tactics it almost defeated Mr. M. Cameron. However, that gentleman’s efforts were successful, and, with the assistance of our friends, we restored Wakefield to its old political fold.
Honorable senators opposite claimed that the last Government was endeavouring to put the clock back 25 years by attempting to destroy the principle of arbitration ; that it was trying to deprive the workers of their only means of receiving fair treatment. Those statements are on a par with many other false statements that were made during the last campaign. If Senator Dooley is going to describe our humble wiles as political trickery, it makes it difficult for me to find an apt term to describe the subtle methods adopted by him and his party. Every member of the late Government stood, and still stands, for the principle of arbitration. It made more than one effort to regulate and co-ordinate that principle, and in adhering to it and endeavouring to do something for the country, stood down at the last general election. But Ave stood down principally because of the gross misrepresentation emanating from honorable senators opposite, a misrepresentation broadcast throughout the electorates, My party’s desire is that our arbitration system should operate satisfactorily ; that it should be uniform. When I examine the speech of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, I find it difficult to determine exactly where this Government stands in that regard. It is not indicated whether it intends to proceed along existing lines; to allow the Commonwealth and State systems to operate side by side, or whether it will move in the direction followed by the late Government in 1926, and endeavour to secure a fuller measure of power to the Commonwealth, which would enable it, without constitutional limitation, to make binding any system of arbitration, and would prevent a section of our people being harassed by what I shall term a method of tossing with a double-headed penny.
We had some references from Senator O’Halloran to the inefficiency of State Governments in the matter of land settlement and certain other suggestions with regard to unemployment. The land settlement that has taken place in all the States on the advice of the Development and Migration Commission, is likely to have beneficial results. The establishment of the commission has provided the States with the means of conducting a full and free investigation from every point of view of the various schemes which have been propounded. The commission’s recommendations have been based on the evidence of experts. An effort has been made to avoid the mistakes of the past. Honorable senators have all seen, in the different States, public works of an absolutely nonproductive character. That has been possible because of the haphazard methods of the past. But to-day the economic development of the country necessitates the scrapping of such methods. We must now, as we ought always to have done, h ave regard to the productive character of the works upon which we propose to spend our money. Every scheme must be carefully examined from various angles, because it is only by so doing that we can hope to hold our own in the world race for production. While I do not quarrel with honorable senators opposite regarding the development of certain dry areas in South Australia and elsewhere, I remind them that all along the Labour party has been urging the greater development of this country. Adam Lindsay Gordon said much the same thing when he wrote -
The people are crying aloud for the land.
They’ve made it hot, but they’ll find it hotter
When they plough the limestoneandsow the sand.
In parts of Australia land, which once was good for pastoral purposes, has been spoiled by attempts to farm it. The un fortunate people who have been settled on that land will probably have to be provided with land elsewhere.
Honorable senators opposite’ are almost dumb with wonder that the Labour party won the recent election. When I consider the reasons for the verdict of the people, I am reminded of an occasion when I arrived by train in one of the capital cities of Australia and went into a hairdressing saloon for a shave. While in the barber’s chair, I listened to his dissertation on conditions in Australia. I asked him what he received as his weekly wage. I forget the amount now, but it was a satisfactory emolument with which he seemed well pleased. When I pointed out that the £1 notes which he received in his pay envelope were worth only about 14s. 6d. compared with their purchasing power some years before he propounded the extraordinary view that it was a good thing to have as many of them in the bank as possible, against a day when they would be worth 20s. That lad was fundamentally sound so far as he was personally concerned, but he was unsound economically.
For the moment Australia is caught in an economic trap. I have no doubt that we shall escape from it, but at present the experience is not pleasant. Throughout the country there are hundreds of small shopkeepers and others who, because of the prevailing unemployment, are unable to receive payment for goods supplied and services rendered. I have heard some of these people say that they would be glad to see the Labour party in power, for it would spend a few million pounds more than any other government would spend, and that as the money circulated their book debts would be wiped out, after which they would “ button up.” That is a hopeless outlook. Sooner or later we must face the position. Indeed, we are facing it now. For the first time in her political and economic history, Australia has to face facts. I was glad to hear the Leader of the Senate say that the Government was giving earnest consideration to Australia’s economic position. There is no royal road to wealth, either for an individual or a nation, except one of which most honorable senators are aware. The unemployment which prevails is due to the contraction of the loan market as well as to falling prices for our staple commodities. Seasonal conditions have, no doubt, contributed to present conditions; but he would be a bold man who would say that a return of favorable seasons would rectify matters within a year or two. We shall not get back to where we were as quickly as some people think we will. That we shall eventually regain our former satisfactory position I have no doubt, for I have abounding confidence in Australia’s recuperative powers. But we must walk warily in the meantime. One paragraph of the Governor-General’s Speech would lead us to think that next year conditions will be as satisfactory as ever. I can only express the fervent hope that they will be. But until that hope has been realized, I suggest to those who are in charge of the affairs of the country, that they will do well to walk in that prudent way which Senator Daly says the Government contemplates.
The Speech contains .an almost pious reference to the trouble in the coalmining industry. The mover of the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply laid considerable stress on the straits to which the miners and their families had been reduced. Unfortunately, such suffering is inevitable so long as the mines remain closed. It might not be out of place to remind honorable senators opposite that had the trade unions with which the miners are associated been as prudent in the control of their funds as they ought to have been, there would not be such destitution on the coal-fields as now exists. Nor would there be any necessity to levy toll on the trade unionists of Australia to support the men at Newcastle. I notice that the Bill Posters Union stated recently that the unemployment problem of Australia could be solved by imposing a levy of Id. or 2d. a week on every fi received in wages by the workers of Australia. I invite honorable senators to consider the effect of such a policy.
The Governor-General’s Speech gives no indication of an early settlement of the coal trouble. The promises made by the Labour party on the hustings have yet to be fulfilled. It is true that conferences have been held; but so far they have not been very successful. The Labour party has had to resort, after all, to the course which the previous Government realized was the only possible one to adopt to get the coal mines working again. It is deplorable that fields containing probably the best coal south of the Equator are likely to remain idle unless something is done to reorganize the industry.
I invite honorable senators to read The Economics of Australian Coal, by F. E. E. Mauldon, senior lecturer in economics at the University of Melbourne. A study of that book will make clear to them the difficulties confronting any one who endeavours to arrange anything in the coal-fields of this country. There is a risk that, unless something is done promptly, vested interests in other coalfields which have been developed elsewhere, might prevent a settlement between the parties. I suggest to honorable senators opposite that they apply to have deleted from Hansard all their references to the inaction of the late Government in the matter of settling the coal- dispute. Metaphorically speaking, they have had to eat their words. The coal trouble is no nearer solution to-day than when the former Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) endeavoured to solve it in Sydney.
If ever there was an ill-considered action, a huge political blunder, it was the action of the Government in sending overseas a statement that Australia could not absorb any more migrants because of the prevailing unemployment. That cablegram can have only one effect.
– What has been its effect?
– The honorable senator will realize its effect when next the Government goes on the London loan market. Let us consider the action of the Government from the point of view of its economic effect. The people in Great Britain will know nothing of the carefully prepared statement of the Leader of the Senate. All they will be concerned with is the effect of the proposals. They will be told that, during the last nine months, our excess of .arrivals over departures totalled only 4,000, and that even this number is beyond the absorptive capacity of the Commonwealth. Not one person in 10,000 in the Mother Country has any knowledge of the migration agreement; but when the Prime Minister’s message is broadcast in the British press, when the people in England read that the absorptive powers of the Commonwealth are so limited, they will have a totally different idea of our potentialities. I cannot help thinking, therefore, that the Government’s action is a blunder of the first magnitude, and that it will be detrimental to the interests of Australia. Steps should be taken as speedily as possible to remove the impression that has been created in the minds of the people in the Mother Country. I understand that already representations have been made by cable, and that the Prime Minister has transmitted certain letters on the subject to the Prime Minister of Great Britain; but I deplore deeply, knowing as I do the light in which Australia is regarded in Great Britain and on the Continent, that the Government should have committed this blunder. Its effect in the United States .of America will be similarly prejudicial to the interests of Australia. By our tariff proposals we are inviting business houses to establish themselves in this country, and yet this Government, in asking for the suspension of the assisted passages provisions of the migration agreement, is creating an impression that the Commonwealth is incapable of expansion. From the business point of view the Government’s action is the worst advertisement that Australia has had for many years.
I do not deny that we have our difficulties in the development of this country. Senator Daly this afternoon referred to some of them; but surely a step of this character was unnecessary. Our friends on the ministerial bench have come back from an appeal to the people flushed with victory; but they must know that all the promises they made during the election were so much political “ eye-wash,” and now that they are in office they should have regard to the facts.. I join with Senator H. E. Elliott in his condemnation of the action of the Government. ‘ It is only one of several that have been taken by the Ministry that will be detrimental to our best interests.
Senator O’Halloran last week stated that we should discourage the introduction of foreign migrants until all our own people are in employment. That, I suggest, is a somewhat narrow point of view, though it may be a gesture indicating we should first do something for those Australians who are unfortunate enough to be out of work. I wish that our friends opposite, in some of their” financial proposals, had really been as solicitous for the welfare of Australia as Senator O’Halloran would have us believe they are. He went on to say that these foreign migrants send hundreds of thousands of pounds out of Australia every year. 1 can tell him of other foreign people who, while they do not come to Australia at all, extract several millions of pounds from the Commonwealth. And yet this Government, despite its protestations to legislate in the interests of Australia, allows them to escape, all taxation. I have heard the Scullin Administration referred to as a pro-Australian Government. To meet* its requirements it proposes to place an additional tax of £800,000, or it may be £1,200,000, upon the people of Australia. I suggest that, by taxing the foreign moving picture combine, it could relieve the Australian taxpayer of some portion of this added burden at all events. Obviously Ministers are not as good Australians as Mr. Lang was when he was Premier of New South Wales. Mr. Lang had no illusions concerning the people who are behind the American picture combine. In 1925, he introduced legislation which, unfortunately for the State of New South Wales, proved unconstitutional, designed to levy a tax upon the profits of the combine which levies such a heavy toll on the people of Australia. In introducing the Dill, which, I was glad to notice,” was regarded by all sections of the people in New South Wales as eminently proper, Mr. Lang said his intention was to extract something from these people who, up to the present, have avoided taxation by the simple device of earning all their profits in America. The debate on the bill disclosed the fact that altogether about £1,000,000 was sent out of Australia annually in payment for the hire of American films.
– The Bruce-Page Government proposed to tax the gross turnover.
– The proposal of the Bruce-Page Government followed the lines of the measure introduced in the New South “Wales Parliament by Mr. Lang. It was not intended to tax the proprietors of small picture houses, as was alleged by our opponents.
– The honorable senator does not believe that, surely!
– The honorable senator’s interjection is merely a clumsy way of suggesting that my statement is incorrect. For his information, I may say I handled the material dealing with the subject, and was responsible for placing the proposal before the BrucePage Cabinet. These people have evaded taxation for years, and it was our intention to require them to make some contribution to the revenues of the Commonwealth. If this Government were as loyal to Australia as Mr. Lang was when he introduced his measure, they would not hesitate now to impose a tax upon the moving picture combine. They prefer to tax industry. “We are to have a super income tax on incomes even as low as £200 per annum; but the great American moving picture interests, which extract such a huge sum from the Australian people every year, are to be allowed to escape. And this from a government which poses as pro-Australian - as a government which stands for the encouragement of Australian industry! It has been guilty of an act of craven treachery to the people of this country. The American combine conducts its business in Australia through incorporated companies, which, since they are unable to show a profit, are not called upon to pay taxation. The whole of their earnings are transmitted to America, and this Government tamely submits to the subterfuge, and allows them to escape. I leave the matter there, and ask honorable senators to draw their own conclusions as to the real character of the Government. Are we to understand that foreign interests are to be allowed to dominate the Commonwealth Government? I am aware that politics makes us acquainted with strange bed-fellows - that political exigencies sometimes require many strange things to be done; but for a party that boasts of its Australian spirit I know of no greater act of political treachery than the proposal of this Government to allow the American moving picture combine to escape taxation.
– The Government of which the honorable senator was a member was not “ game “ to tax the films.
– The films are taxed at present. The Minister cannot get out of his difficulty in that way. Mr. Lang was “ game “ enough to levy taxation, and we proposed to follow his lead; but the Scullin Government has neither the courage nor the inclination to tax the combine.
I am glad to learn that the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator Daly) is to be associated in his ministerial capacity with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, as he is a member of that profession, concerning which Edmund Burke, speaking of the late Lord Thurlow, said “He was bred to a profession. He was bred to the law - a science which, to my mind, does more to quicken and invigorate human understanding than all the other kinds of learning put together.”
I venture to suggest that when the Minister has made a closer study of the problems upon which the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is engaged, he will have an even higher regard for its work than he has to-day. It is pleasing to note that the Government realizes the importance of the work being undertaken by the council, and is endeavouring, in its own way, to improve the system under which it is operating. During the last Parliament it was my privilege to temporarily administer the two departments to which the Minister more particularly referred, and it is surprising to me to learn that Mr. McDougall, an officer in London, is in receipt of £5,000 a year. On closer investigation I believe the Minister will find that the information he supplied was incorrect.
– I did not mean that Mr. McDougall personally received £5,000 a year;, but that his work in London cost, that amount.
– The impression left upon the minds of honorable senators on this side of the chamber was that he was in receipt of that salary.
– That is not so.
- Mr. McDougall’s services are utilized in connexion with certain activities associated with economic questions, the importance of which cannot be overestimated. He has represented the Commonwealth at Geneva on several occasions when difficult economic problems have been under consideration. In the consideration of important problems of that nature Australia must proceed warily, and I am afraid the Minister’s statement this afternoon concerning this officer’s salary will be misunderstood. Perhaps the Minister was including his travelling expenses, which would necessarily be heavy.
– Travelling expenses were not included. I gave the cost of his office.
– I am very doubtful whether the policy of the Government to co-ordinate the administration of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the ‘Development and Migration Commission will meet with the success it expects. The council, which consists of the chairman, Sir George Julius, a man of exceptional ability, Professor Richardson, of South Australia, who is an unrivalled authority in the matter of agriculture and kindred subjects; Dr. Rivett, as well as a prominent entomologist from New -Zealand, and other eminent scientists, is doing wonderful work. After the announcement which appeared in the press concerning proposals of the Government, I was expecting to hear the Minister approach this subject from a totally different angle, and to denounce the work of the Development and Migration Commission and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. I am glad he has not done so, and I am sure that when he has an opportunity to further study the good work performed by these two organizations he will endeavour to increase their usefulness. Although the scientific officers associated with the council can at times be of great assistance to the Development and Migration Commission, there does not appear to be any reason why the administration of the two bodies should be co-ordinated.
– The Statistician’s Department is under .the control of the Prime Minister’s Department.
– That has always been so.
– There is no need for a duplication of officers in the matter of administration.
– If the Government can save expenditure in that direction honorable senators on this side of the chamber will be only too pleased to assist. It would be exceedingly unwise to curtail the functions of either body in any form, and I am sure that is not the Minister’s desire.
– I would prefer to see them extended.
– The Minister will find, as I did, that he has to deal with gentlemen possessing peculiar ideas, and that it will not be easy to save money in the direction he expects. One would think from the Minister’s utterance concerning the Development and Migration Commission that its only work consisted of giving effect to what is known as the £34,000,000 agreement, but it has other duties in connexion with the general developmental policy of Australia.
– If the agreement were not in existence we should not have four commissioners who are costing the country over £13,000 a year.
– Perhaps not. If the Minister examines the relationship between the Commonwealth and the States in connexion with developmental works he will find that there are many proposals which at first glance appear attractive, but which after investigation by the commission appear in their true perspective.. While we are all anxious to curtail expenditure wherever necessary, the Government should be careful not to impair .efficiency, particularly that of the two bodies mentioned.
The abolition of cumpulsory military training has been fully discussed by honorable senators on this side of the chamber, some of whom are more competent to deal with the subject than I am ; ;hut I venture to suggest that the Government is not displaying that democratic spirit which has characterized the Labour party in the past. In my callow days I was a contributor to The Call, a newspaper in New South Wales which now supports the Labour party, but which then supported the principle of compulsory military service. In those days I conscientiously believed, as I do today, that this country needs some such system to ensure that our young men shall have some training in the matter of discipline. Every one desires international peace, but I believe it can be obtained only by the mental inoculation of the people with the spirit of peace. Honorable senators opposite contend that compulsory military training has the effect of implanting a martial spirit in the young mind, but they should study this subject from another angle. By providing for voluntary training the Government is more likely to create a military caste than it would under a compulsory system. Before the Government proceeds further with its defence policy, it should consider whether a country which can absorb only 4,000 migrants in a few months will ever be able to provide adequate defence under a voluntary system. We must have the nucleus of an army in the event of international trouble, but that is something which I am sure no one wants. I trust that even now wiser councils will prevail, but in view of the promise which the Labour party gave to the electors to abolish compulsory military training, it is unlikely that it will retrace its steps.
Reference is made in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech to the introduction of a new tariff schedule. I do not think it can be denied that higher customs duties will have the effect of increasing the cost of living. Evidently the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) and the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Penton) have studied that aspect of the question, as the manufacturers have already been informed that if prices are raised unnecessarily certain duties at present in force may be lifted. If prices are raised the operatives will approach the Arbitration Court for an increase in wages, which, if granted, will cause the manufacturers to again increase prices.
– The duties imposed on imported motor bodies have not resulted in higher prices being charged for Australianmade bodies.
– That- Ministry guarantees that prices will remain stationary, and I am sure the Government has justification for saying that in some cases there will be a reduction in prices. It will be interesting to know what investigation the Tariff Board conducted before recommending the extraordinary heavy duty imposed upon imported whisky, a beverage so dear to the palate of some. The tariff schedule, however, can be fully discussed when it comes before this chamber.
When announcements are made iu regard to currency, gold reserve, migration and similar subjects, there should be nothing vague or indecisive about them. People overseas are watching Australia. They are financially interested. We owe £524,000,000 in. London and £50,000,000 in the United States of America, and I am aware that the perfectly innocuous statement in the Governor-General’s Speech, which I regarded as a gesture that steps were to be taken to allow the Commonwealth Bank to control the gold reserves of Australia, has created an unfortunate impression in America. I have seen cables from Australians in the United States of America urging that there ought to be some more definite pronouncement made immediately on the subject, because, as Senator R. D. Elliott said in his very excellent speech, credit is a very delicate pedestal.
Without fear of the threats that reverberated through the chamber last evening, without any regard for consequences, 1 shall be prepared to give fair and full consideration to all measures the Government submits. I do not concede the point which my Leader (Senator Sir George Pearce) put, that the Government has had the endorsement of the people in regard to the continuance of both systems of arbitration. I think that they have arrived at a fine balance on the subject, and I shall reserve to myself the right to take whatever line of action I think fit when the proposals of the Government come up after they are considered in the proposed conference, representing all sections of industry, to be held in the new year.
– I congratulate Senator Daly on his elevation to the high and important rank of Leader of the Government in the Senate. I was always under the impression that it was a plank of the platform of the Labour party that one man should hold one job, but on this occasion there has been a drastic departure from that principle. Senator Daly has been given a great many jobs. He and his party can rely upon getting a fair deal from me and, I am sure, from every other honorable senator.
I shall go a long way in support of any government that gives absolute preference to Australian goods. That has always been a plank in my platform. I invariably practise what I preach in that regard, which is a great deal more than some of my friends do. The other day I was addressing a gathering of very enthusiastic Australians at a luncheon, and they applauded to the echo my exhortations as regards preference for Australian goods. When leaving the luncheon room I took up a hat that looked very like mine; but found that it was not. It was made by people whom my friends designate as “dagoes.” It was a Borsalino. In the search for my own I took up nearly every- hat in the room, and found that most qf them were either Stetsons, made in America, or Borsalinos. made in Italy. Their owners were nearly all supporters of the Labour party. I eventually found my own hat, which, of course, is good Australian-made - good enough for an Australian or any one else to wear. I hope that the Government will be consistent in regard to preference to Australia and Australian goods, but later on I think I shall be able to show that it is not shaping too well in that direction.
Senator Dunn, whose very vigorous speech last night I quite enjoyed, blamed the Nationalist Government for permitting the export of wattle seeds and stud sheep from Australia to South Africa, They were exported from Australia long before the Nationalist Government came into power, and the trade went on with unabated pace during several periods when Labour was in power.
Senator Dunn also claimed that already Labour had achieved one great thing.
There had been splendid rains ! If it be true that Labour has control over the elements, I trust it will be in power for a long while, because, given a good general rainfall, Australia will be able to withstand for a time even the terrible batch of legislation Labour will produce - legislation which, in other circumstances, would prove very irksome to the taxpayers.
When Senator Dunn was speaking about the embargo on the export of stud sheep, I was rather amused to hear him refer to me as a very large wool-grower or squatter. As a matter of fact I am a fairly impecunious farmer. For the past 37 or 38 years I have followed the profession of sheep and wool expert and have endeavoured to eke out an existence by working very long hours, much longer hours than my friends opposite have worked. Although I support the Government in the step it has taken to place an embargo on the export of stud sheep, this decision will, perhaps, hit me harder than any other man in Australia, because I am a breeder of stud sheep. An embargo on the export of the few high-priced sheep which the wealthy squatters may seek to send away, will not hurt them very much, but I have built up a nation-wide - indeed an international - demand for my Corriedale sheep. This year I have exported my stock to South Africa, Japan, United States of America, Chile, the Argentine and New Zealand, and I consider that I have not been doing any injury to Australia by exporting the comparatively cheap class of sheep I send away, very different from high-class stud merinos which are the key sheep, and the only class the export of which really matters. That I am prepared to support the Government in putting a stop to my litte trade shows how genuine I am in my desire to maintain Australia’s predominance in the sheep and wool industry. The Government’s decision may be too late. It may be a case of bolting the stable door after the horse has bolted.
– The people of South Africa say that it is not too late.
– I am not quite sure. We shall have to find out by experience whether that is so or not. But this attempt, belated or otherwise, to maintain Australia’s pre-eminence in the wool industry, is worthy of a trial.
The wool and sheep industry is pretty well the life blood of Australia. At the present time it is passing through a very difficult time. I have no desire to weary honorable senators with a dissertation on the romantic history of the development of the industry in Australia, but it is of preponderating importance to this great island continent. For the last six years, sheep have been responsible for over 50 per cent, of the total value of the exports of the Commonwealth. It is wrong to think that the wealth derived from this great industry goes into the pockets of comparatively few people - in the first instance at all events. The true position is that there are 80,000 families in Australia directly dependent upon wool-growing for their living, and the industry is responsible for providing a greater amount of employment’ than any other, not excepting wheat-growing. A great deal of material is required to develop a sheep station or sheep farm, and much labour is also employed, not only on the station or farm, but in handling the wool in the stores and at the seaboard. I am pleased to see, of course, a great expansion in the manufacture of our wool in our own country. Although we have reached the very highest position in the sheep and wool world, we can go still further. We have, at the present time, 106,000,000 sheep, a few more than we had in 1891, but Australia can carry more. Some people outback will not agree with me, but I am a great believer in closer settlement, intense culture, the application of scientific methods, the use of superphosphates, the sowing of the right kinds of grasses, and the encouragement of irrigation; in fact the use of all that science teaches us it is advisable to employ in order to obtain from our rich soil the maximum amount of production. I am perfectly certain that Australia can carry a great many more than 106.000,0UO sheep, and that instead of only 80,000 families raising sheep in Australia we should have something like 160,000 families in the industry. We can vastly improve the general average of our flocks, provided that the facilities exist to market our product. There is no doubt that we should manufacture the whole of our clothing requirements in Australia. If that were done we should need additional woollen mills, and so the industry would employ more labour in Australia. ~ Honorable senators opposite, and their supporters, have claimed that Australia should manufacture the whole of its wool output. That is ridiculous. Last year, we produced a record clip of wool weighing 950,000,000 lb., and worth £65,000,000; but our industrial conditions are such that we cannot profitably manufacture for export, as our costs are greater than those obtaining in other countries.
– Could we not extend the wool tops industries?
– I do not think so, although I stand strongly against the importation into Australia of wool in any form.
– I mean for greater exportation.
– We are exporting wool tops to Canada and to Japan, but, generally speaking, we cannot manufacture woollens for export, with the exception of a few small specialities.
I want honorable senators to realize the importance of the wool industry to Australia, and to appreciate the proud position that we hold in regard to it. Last year, Australia depastured 16 per cent, of the sheep of the world, but those sheep were so superior that they produced 27 per cent, of the world’s wool and, on a value basis, one-third of the world’s wool. That indicates that on the average the sheep of Australia produce twice the wealth that is produced by the average of the sheep in the rest of the world. That is due to our climate, to our soil, to our herbage, and to the wonderful pioneering work by men like John Macarthur and his successors, who blazed the trail and did the spade work which made this country what it is to-day. I pay my tribute to our pioneers for their marvellous work of the past 150 years, and for the work that their successors are still doing.
I support a policy of closer settlement, always provided that the land chosen is suitable for the purpose, and has an ample rainfall. Too often properties have been cut up which were producing high-class stud sheep and their maximum wealth output for Australia. When satisfactory land is cut up for closer settlement our stud masters must go to the interior of Australia, as they did in bygone days. At present sheep stations are being pioneered away north of Leonora, in the dry part of Western Australia, and are producing good wool, but the price of the product is to-day below cost. I hope that that will change.
– The Government is going to show how that wool can be marketed profitably.
– That is to be roved. This great industry, which olds such a pre-eminent position in the world, has been built up without any government assistance. In fact, the governments of Australia have persistently penalized the man on the land. Primary producers should not be subjected to a land tax, which is essentially a class tax. They should be encouraged to develop the country. I believe in and support an income tax, but I hold that a land tax penalizes the very people who are producing the wealth of Australia, and who enable more than half of our population to live in the cities in luxury, to visit American picture palaces and to ride in American motor cars. The Government should give relief to the suffering and Struggling men who have been fighting for five years against drought, and who are now producing wool, at a cost which is greater than the price that they receive for it. A gentleman said to me to-day that wool is increasing in value ; that it is selling at 36d. per lb. I admit that two bales out of a total of 3,000,000 bales did bring that price; but the average price of all the wool sold in Australia to date this season is ll£d. per lb., which is pence per lb. below the actual cost of production.
– Can the honorable senator state whether, when wool is sold, the transaction is an absolutely honest one?
– I do not know of any other industry or business which is conducted more efficiently or more honestly. The people of Australia produce the best wool. Its get-up is better than that of any other country, whilst it is marketed more efficiently and more attractively than it is elsewhere, not excluding London. Buyers make their bids in open competition, and the business generally is remarkably well conducted.
– What about split lots ? Is not “ crook “ work done there ?
– I would not admit that. There’ may be a twenty-bale speciality of which one manufacturer requires only a proportion. He collaborates with another buyer, and they bid for the lot. But remember, they are merely two buyers, against whom are arrayed competitive buyers from other countries, and even from Australia. In addition, the wool firms employ experts to place a reserve value upon the different lots, whether the owner is present or not, and if that price is not reached the wool is passed in. While the average price of Australian wool is ll£d. to date this season, the average cost of production is between 14 and 15 pence per lb. It is a very serious matter that our great stable, national product is being sold in the markets of the world below the price of production. The high cost of labour and material is the reason for our high production cost.
Many imagine that the burden entailed by a protectionist policy is borne only by the people in our towns. Actually that policy compels our primary producers to pay through the nose for everything they use. Yet they have to sell their product in the competitive markets of the world. In addition to the excessively high cost of material and wages, our primary producers have to pay heavy railway and steamer freights. The Commonwealth Line of Steamers was not worth a snap of the fingers to our primary producers, as it did not reduce freight rates on butter, wheat, meat, or any other primary product by any fraction of one penny. That Line was one of the most expensive socialistic experiments that this country has ever indulged in, and it was responsible for a loss of no less than £15,000,000. Even though the Government wrote down the capital cost of those ships by many millions of pounds, they were, at the time it was so wisely decided to dispose of them, costing the taxpayers of Australia £600,000 per annum, which would have been perpetuated, and perhaps increased. I trust that the Labour party will never dream, except in a nightmare, of again committing the people of Australia to the expense of conducting a socialistic shipping line.
The reason why I am in favour of the Government’s embargo on the export of stud sheep is that our greatest competition in the wool industry comes from South Africa. During the time that I have been in the industry the South African wool clip has increased from a very inferior one of a little over 200,000 bales to one of fine quality, and mostly of merino wool, of 900,000 bales per annum. That was due almost entirely to the unrestricted export from Australia to South Africa of some of our best merino sheep. It is estimated that over ft period of 30 years South Africa has spent only a little over £500,000 in Australia in purchasing sheep to build up its flocks; but, as the result of this, it has become our most serious competitor. It will remain our most serious competitor, because the cost of producing wool in that country is vary much lower than it is in Australia. I am a believer in the maintenance of- our very high standard of living and wages, but I realize that under prevailing conditions we cannot compete successfully with South Africa in the wool industry. That country has no land tax, and if a man there is breeding stud stock he is immune from income tax. The freights charged primary producers are very low, and, on account of the geographical position of the country, South African primary producers are able to market their products for about half the amount that it costs Australians. The cost of farm labour is only one-eighth of what it is here. Where a man . in Australia might demand 16s. a day, his prototype in South Africa would receive 2s. a day. It costs between £17 and £19 to produce a bale of wool in Australia, whereas in South Africa, because of the low price of land, immunity from taxation and other causes, the cost is claimed to be only £6. The Government has acted wisely in placing an embargo on the export of stud sheep. It may be that the embargo has come too late; but I hope not.
In the light of the figures I have given, it might appear that Australia’s wool outlook is hopeless; but that, is [ici not the case. We have better country, and better sheep; our wool is softer, better spinning, and higher yielding. Nevertheless, the wool industry in South Africa is expanding tremendously. I have been in South Africa and am intimately acquainted with the conditions pertaining to the wool industry there. I have always feared the competition of South Africa, because of the cheap labour available and the sympathetic attitude of the Union Government to the man on the land. Australia has also made a serious mistake in exporting stud merino sheep to Russia. I have not been to Russia; but I know that that country contains vast areas of good soil, comprising the largest wheat belt in the world. Prior to the revolution and the establishment of the awful Soviet form of government, Russia was the greatest exporter of wheat in the world. Lately she has had to import wheat, and when the Soviet Government imported seed wheat from America last year, the starving peasants ate it. 3 hope that they also ate the stud sheep we sent there, for, otherwise, Russia, with our wonderful sheep as a foundation, might build up vast flocks to compete against us.
– Have not stud sheep also been exported to Central Africa ?
– Our greatest competitor in merino wool is South Africa, although there is also danger of serious competition from Russia.
– Is there no other source from which they can get the same strain of sheep that we produce?
– South Africa has some excellent studs, built up from Australian stock, which they value very highly. The stud masters of South Africa are now petitioning the South African Government to place an import duty on Australian rams. They want » monopoly of the business of stud raia breeders.
In addition to the competition of other wool-growing countries, the wool industry has to face very keen competition from artificial fibres, wrongly termed artificial silk and artificial wool. The seriousness of that competition is greater than most people realize. It is that competition which is the chief cause of the slump in wool values. No one can say when wool prices will recover. The so-called artificial silk is very attractive to women, although it is unhygienic. The consumption of that material last year was equal to the Australian wool clip, say 1,500,000 bales of scoured wool, or 3,000,000 bales of greasy wool. This so-called artificial silk comprises 80 per cent, wood, chiefly conifers, and 20 per cent, tin. The supply of pine trees is limitless, and one tree will make a very large quantity of artificial silk. Artificial wool also contains wood; but it contains no tin. These articles can be manufactured very cheaply. Artificial silk, sometimes known as rayon, can be produced for 5d. per lb. Even at the price manufacturers have been charging they have been able to produce attractive looking garments more cheaply than they could be made of wool, even at the low price of ll&d. per lb., which is below the cost of production.
Australia, whose staple product is wool, should lead a world-wide campaign to get the people to use more wool. Every Australian should set an example by wearing Australian woollen goods. We should preach the gospel of wool against the artificial products of other countries. Throughout the ages wool has been found to be the most healthful clothing for mankind ; and in the long run it is also the most economical. It is an animal product; a non-conductor of heat and cold, an absorber of moisture, and, in addition, it is non-inflammable. ‘ We have nature and right on our side. We have a good case for a “ Use more wool “ campaign. The right place to commence that campaign is among the creators of fashion in Paris, New York and London. We should cooperate with scientists, and designers and manufacturers of clothing to make woollen goods attractive to the women folk. We should show that wool is not only a more hygienic, but also a more economical covering than any other material. These artificial products are of vegetable origin; they are conductors of heat and cold, and are inflammable. Goods made of artificial silk and wool will not stretch ; or if they do stretch when wet, they have not that elasticity which wool possesses to enable them to regain their original shape. I exhort all Australians to do all that they can to safeguard our great natural and national industry.
I greatly regret the misrepresentation for which the Labour party was responsible during the recent election campaign. The people were told that .the abolition of the Federal Arbitration Court, which many felt to be an expensive and slow tribunal, overlapping and clashing with State tribunals, was the first step towards a reduction of wages. Nothing was further from the mind of the late Government than any desire to reduce the standard of living or the wages of the workers. I am not whining about the result of the election. The Labour party made many promises to the electors that it will find it impossible to honour. The Government is in for a bad time, particularly in relation to its promise to provide work for the unemployed. I doubt if there is one person less in the ranks of the unemployed than there was before the election. The Labour party promised a working week of 44 hours in all industries. If effect is given to that promise, how can Australia expect to compete with the rest of the world where the working hours are much longer ? The people were promised industrial peace if a Labour Government was returned, but there is not yet peace in the coal-mining industry. No one is hewing the coal so necessary to the industries of this country.
The Labour party had a great deal te say about the failure of the late Government to prosecute John Brown. The Scullin Government has been in office long enough to have instituted proceedings against him. Surely it has not made a beloved friend of the great coal magnate as it has the Yankee picture combine ! I should like to see John Brown prosecuted. I should also like to see the people of this country wake up and work. Work is the only thing which will bring success to Australia. Why do not the coal miners be more manly, and work for their women and children, instead of crying? They get higher wages than do miners anywhere else in the world and they have the best conditions. I believe in men working, not loafing.
– The miners are not loafing. I tell you they are not loafers.
– Order! I ask Senator Dunn not to adopt a heated manner in the Senate. If he desires to say anything, he must say it quietly, and at the right time.
– I bow to your ruling, Mr. President, but I maintain that the miners are not loafing.
– I am sorry if I Iia ve said anything to offend honorable senators opposite. Perhaps there are not many loafers among the miners; but if they are not loafing, I do not know what they are doing. They certainly are not working, although work is available for them at higher wages and on better conditions than elsewhere. It is not generally realized that effective wages in Australia are higher than in any other part of the world, not excepting Canada and the United States of America. They may not be higher per day, or per week, or even per month; but taking the year through effective wages in Australia are higher than elsewhere. They are high enough for Australian coal miners if they will get on with their job. Even if there was a slight deduction from their exorbitant wages - so high that many miners work only two days a week and spend the other five days fishing, attending pony races, or Yankee picture shows, - they would still be comparatively well off.
The victory of the Labour party was, in reality, a victory for the foreign film interests. Although the American picture combines are making huge fortunes out of Australia, they escape taxation They have friends here who also are making huge profits, and hiding them as well as they can, but they have not been so successful in that respect as the Yankees have been, for the Australian combines do pay some taxation, whereas the Yankee combines go scot free. The Bruce-Page Government prepared a scheme under which it proposed to obtain some contribution to the revenue from these foreign companies. Unfortunately for the Commonwealth, Labour was returned to power, largely because, during the election, it had the support and the financial assistance of the moving picture industry. Now, naturally enough, as a return for the wonderful propaganda launched by the picture interests, it has bowed down to the combines and is allowing them to escape taxation. A wonderfully effective propaganda was conducted by the combine in nearly all of the 1,200 picture theatres throughout Australia; and now the combine is to get its reward.
– It was a bargain.
– Evidently it was. And the Labour Government is keeping to its bargain. The Yankees are to be permitted to get away with the whole of their profits. There is to be no taxation on the profits which the American film combines” are extracting from the people of Australia. It is estimated that over 130,000,000 people pay for admission to picture theatres in the Commonwealth every year, and the whole of the profits from the hire of films is going to America. Of course, this is all wrong. If ever there was a just tax, it was the proposal of the Bruce-Page Government to tax the American and Australian picture combines. For years we have heard our Labour friends, in both the Federal and States Parliaments, declaring their hostility to any form of monopoly. Now, they are the close allies of both the foreign and Australian moving picture combines.
– The Labour party sold its soul to the combine.
– Yes; and to-day we have the spectacle of the combines being masters of the situation. The Labour party mortgaged its soul to the combines just as effectively as it has allowed itself to be dominated by the industrial organizations which have their headquarters at the various trades halls throughout the Commonwealth.
– That “ dope “’ was tried on the electors during the campaign, but it did not succeed.
– But what is the objection to the taxation of amusements? Nobody need attend a picture show. It is not compulsory to do so. Actually, a picture show may be regarded as a luxury.
– Why not impose a tax on diamond rings and other articles of jewellery ?
– Exactly. Why not tax all luxuries? I believe in the taxation of whisky, beer, tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes; and I would favour a high rate of tax on the higher incomes. T cannot understand .why the Labour Government should bow ‘ down to these wealthy American combines and allow them to escape taxation.
The Government, by refusing to follow the lead of the Bruce-Page administration in this matter, will lose £600,000 of revenue which it must obtain in some other way. It has brought in a revised tariff schedule, the effect of which must be to increase the cost of living to the workers. The Government appears to have piled on duties with a steam shovel and without regard to their effect upon the people. It totally ignored the Tariff Board, which, in other circumstances, would have made recommendations concerning certain of the duties. On some items the duty has been increased to over 2,000 per cent. I am a protectionist but not to that extent; and certainly I should not dream of allowing the big American combines to go scot free. The Government’s taxation proposals will hit heavily a considerable number of small shareholders in companies, and altogether they have been prepared in a ridiculous manner. I frankly admit that, in regard to many matters, the Labour party has always been disposed to give preference to articles of Australian manufacture, but this Government certainly cannot claim that it is giving encouragement to the Australian film industry, or that it is protecting Australian musicians. The heavy importations of foreign, chiefly American, films and “ talkies,” with their canned music, has had the effect of throwing many hundreds of Australian musicians out of employment.
– We want to assist the Australian musicians.
– And I will give the Government my heartiest support, for I consider the canned music which we are now getting is dreadful stuff. The most deplorable feature about the whole business is the way in which the English language is being mutilated in the “ talkies “. To me it is most obnoxious. I regret deeply that our young people are becoming Americanised in this way. [ hope, and I believe, that the Labour party will take steps in the near future to ensure preference to Australian musicians in all our theatres.
I wish now to say something concerning the migration proposals of the Government. I deplore deeply this policy of crying “ stinking fish “ concerning the potentialities of Australia. We are the worst advertised country in the world. I do not suggest that this Government is entirely responsible. Some blame must be laid on previous Governments. About the only news concerning Australia published in the newspapers of other countries deals with strikes, fires, floods, droughts, snakes, socialists and bad films. Some time ago we did produce an allAustralian film at a cost of about £40,000, but since it dealt with convict life in Tasmania - I refer to the film “ For the Term of His Natural Life “ - its only effect was to advertise to the world the extraordinarily cruel treatment meted out to British convicts in Tasmania over 100 years ago. It depicted an episode that is a blot on British history. Strange to relate, another book recently issued and edited by Lord Birkenhead deals with the first convict settlement of Sydney. It is a terribly sad story and will give a grossly inaccurate impression of this country. I am afraid the world at large will have an idea that many Australians are descended from convicts. Much rubbish also has been written about tasteless fruit, scentless flowers and sougless birds. As a matter of fact, our fruits are the best in the world, our flowers are second to none, and we have a greater variety of bird life in Australia than in any other country. Not only have we a greater variety, but the majority of our birds are beautiful songsters.
Surely we have had far too much of this inaccurate rubbish, this decrying of everything Australian, and we should resolve that for the future we must advetrise this wonderful country in a better way. But the Government has made a bad start. By its appeal to the British Government concerning the migration agreement, it has conveyed the impression to people in other countries that although Australia is a country with an area of over 3,000,000 square miles, it is not capable of absorbing a few thousand of our kith and kin, even with the assistance of a loan of £34,000,000 from the Mother Country at low rates of interest. Where would Senator
Dooley have been if this policy had been in force at an earlier stage in our history? He, like thousands of others, who have done well in this country, is a migrant. “What would have been his thought if, when he wished to come to Australia, he had been informed it was incapable of absorbing any more migrants? I say, therefore, that we should be exceedingly careful before we do anything that is likely to place Australia, in a false position in the eyes of the world.
I know something of the difficulties that confront all governments in the development of land settlement schemes, and from experience can say definitely that the most economical and the most successful method is the share-farming system.. If I had the authority, I would compel every large land-owner in a suitable locality, if he declined voluntarily to encourage closer settlement, to make some portion of his land available for share farming. I am a firm believer in the share system, and I have had considerable experience in the business. I believe also that the great majority of the owners of large estates would come into line if the scheme were put up to them properly. They would be quite willing to allow, say, 10 per cent, of their properties to be developed under this system. If this Government really desires to bring about closer settlement, this is the most economical way to do it. In the Riverina, I have a property of 5,000 acres, the whole of which is now being developed’ under this system. When 1 bought the place it was giving employment to only four people. It has been divided into seven share farms, and now there are about 40 people living on it. What I am doing in the Riverina, can be done by thousands of other landowners throughout Australia. I supply the land, clear it, provide the whole of the seed wheat and superphosphate. The share farmer supplies the labour and the power to work it, and we share equally in the profits from the sale of the produce. There are thousands of experienced farmers who would be only too glad to get on the land under these conditions. The men who are farming on my Riverina property had nothing to start with, but 1 knew they were good workers. When they asked me to help them to provide machinery, I said that I could not finance them to that extent, but J agreed to guarantee their accounts at the bank. This is a much better arrangement than for share-farmers to huy the machinery on terms and allow the vendors to exact exorbitant rates for the renewal of their bills. Without boasting, I can say that, in my small way, I have done a great deal to make it possible for worthy and experienced men to get land of their own. In almost every instance, up to the present, I have eventually been bought out by my share farmers, and I am hoping that the men on my Riverina property will before long be able to buy me out. The method which I have .adopted might, with advantage, be followed by the Government.
– It is necessary first to find the farmers who are prepared to work under those terms.
– There are a great number of them. If I advertised for share farmers I would receive hundreds of applications from suitable men from whom I could make a selection. I have had some wonderful men working for me as share farmers - I have never had a waster - who, very often assisted by their women folk, have carried on farming operations from very early in the morning until late at night. Unlike the men on the waterfront, they are not afraid of work. The share farmers with whom I have been associated, have always been willing to do their very best. Some after working all day have even carried on ploughing operations at night with the aid of head lights. These are what 1 call the real workers of Australia, and it is my earnest hope that they will prosper.
– But the difficulty is in making land available.
– I believe that obstacle can be overcome. I would support this Government in any effort to compel certain large landholders to make available, for closer settlement, a portion of their properties which they are not utilizing, to the fullest extent. I do not suggest that they should be forced off their holdings by compulsory acquisition ; but there are many landowners who could make portion of their holdings available for closer settlement; that is, for share farming. I would not object to reasonable pressure being applied to such persons and would be willing to assist the
Government in the direction I have indicated. If some large landholders made available for share farming 10 per cent, or 20 per cent, of their holdings, the Government could settle thousands of families, practically without capital, and enable them to engage in productive work. It would be useless for the Government to purchase established farms as was done in connexion with soldier settlement schemes, when the price paid was too high and the blocks too small. Practical men knew from the outset that many of the exsoldiers, who were settled on the land, could not possibly succeed. When land was acquired for that purpose the Government rushed into the market and as the result of competition the prices paid were often too high. The consequence was that persons to whom the land was eventually allotted had to shoulder unnecessarily high charges. 1 should like to know the Government’s intention concerning the £1,200,000 now in the Treasury, representing the accumulated income arising from liquidations of ex-enemy properties. I trust that that amount, which has been handed down to this Administration by the BrucePage Government, will be put to some good use such as towards the reduction of our war debt or our national debt. As a patriotic and enthusiastic Australian, I trust the Government has no intention of utilizing this money on some socialistic scheme in connexion with dockyards or shipbuilding. The Australian people will always remember that already £15,000,000 has been lost in Commonwealth shipping ventures, and that after £8,000,000 was written off the Australian Commonwealth Lines of Steamers it was at the time of its disposal losing £600,000 a year. The Australian people do not want any more government enterprises of that kind. Socialistic schemes such as Labour government’s favour have been tried in other countries and found wanting. I sincerely trust that the amount which I have mentioned will not be utilized in any fantastic socialistic undertaking such as we have experienced from Labour administrations in the past.
– I congratulate Senator Daly upon his selection for the important office of Vice-
President of the Executive Council, and Senator Barnes upon his appointment as Assistant Minister for Works and Bailways. I shall, no doubt, disagree with them on many matters of policy; but I wish them well during the time they are in office.
I have closely followed the speeches during this debate, and particularly the remarks of the mover of the motion, Senator Dooley, and the seconder, Senator O’Halloran. The former referred to the higher Customs duties which the Government were imposing on imported goods. If the imposition of higher duties resulted in a reduction in the cost of production in Australia, the Government’s fiscal policy would doubtless have the support of every honorable senator. Our experience, however, is that higher’ prices, and an increase in the cost of living, have always followed the imposition of increased duties. Unfortunately, the Australian primary producer, who has to operate in one of the most highlyprotected countries in the world, has to sell his products in the open markets of the world in competition with producers in other countries where production costs and Customs tariffs are much lower than they are in Australia. I am afraid that the latest tariff schedule will have the effect of placing a further burden upon the shoulders of the primary producers. Senator O’Halloran did not mention the tariff; but gave the impression that the primary producers of Australia would derive lasting benefit from a Labour government. Since these speeches were delivered an amended tariff schedule has been introduced, from which it would appear that even higher duties than those originally intended are to be imposed.
Silting . suspended from 6.15 to S p.m.
– It appears to me that at the present time the Government is legislating solely for the benefit of the city dweller. The primary producer, upon whose efforts and work the prosperity of Australia is largely dependent, has been completely overlooked.
I deplore very much the unemployment at present prevalent in Australia. It is a great pity that continuity of work for all who desire to work, cannot be secured, but the present trouble is largely due to the obedience which the workers have to render to the dictates of the union leaders or agitators. These men prevent their followers from accepting profitable work when it is offering, and although they profess to believe in arbitration, when awards are given which are not to the liking of the unions they are disobeyed, with the result that unlimited suffering and distress have fallen upon those least able to bear them. This was particularly demonstrated in the timber workers strike which commenced at the beginning, of the present year and was greatly aggravated by inflammatory speeches delivered by gentlemen who are now occupying prominent positions in the present Government. Instead of inflaming the minds of the men and inciting them to disobey the awards given by the Arbitration Court, I consider it was the duty of those gentlemen to persuade them to obey the award and proceed with the work waiting to be done. We also have the distressing spectacle of the great coalmining industry of New South Wales standing idle for practically twelve months, although it is of vital importance to all industrial enterprises in Australia that as much coal as possible should be produced at a reasonable rate. As a result of the trouble in the coal industry, a large sum has been lost in wages to the workers, and a great deal of capital has been lost to Australia owing to the necessity to import thousands of tons of coal. If the men bad been in full work all this time enjoying full wages, unemployment in industries allied to coal mining would have been greatlyalleviated. It is essential that coal should be produced at a reasonable cost so that our secondary industries, which are so important to the success and prosperity of Australia, may be carried on profitably.
When dealing with migration, Senator O’Halloran accused the late Government of causing a certain amount of unemployment by bringing in migrants to Australia, but the honorable senator knows as well as I do that the Federal Government does not bring in any immigrants. It merely controls the entry of immigrants for whom the States have requisitioned. Senator O’Halloran and
Senator Dunn accused the late Government of having brought Southern Europeans into this country. As a matter of fact, these Southern Europeans, like all other immigrants, are requisitioned by the States. The greatest influx of Italians we have had took place in Queensland when the Honorable E. G. Theodore was Premier of the State. At that time Mr. Hunter was Agent-General for Queensland. Regarding immigration Mr. Hunter said that he “approved of a very large number of Italians being brought out by Queensland because they went into the north and engaged in the development of the sugar land, and because, as they got accustomed to the country, they become holders of small areas and developed into useful citizens.” “ They would,” he said, “ assist in solving the labour difficulty to a large degree because the large sugar estates would disappear in favour of smaller holdings which the Italian families themselves would work.” When Mr. Moore, the present Premier of Queensland, was Leader of the Opposition, and challenged the then Government with being responsible for the influx of Italians, Mr. Hunter, who was in the Parliament at the time, said : -
I thought then, and I still think, that the admission of a good class of northern Italians could and would prove advantageous to North Queensland, and particularly to the sugar industry, the’ future of which,’ because of the high cost of production, cannot be viewed with equanimity.
It is quite evident that the influx of Southern Europeans, so far as Queensland is concerned, was due to the deliberate policy of the Labour Government of the day. The Italians who were thus assisted to come to Queensland by the Theodore Government naturally informed their relatives and friends in their home country of their improved conditions; hence the heavy influx of Italians that took place in Queensland at the time. In any case the late Federal Government did not assist one Southern European to migrate to Australia. It could not prohibit the entry of these people for the obvious reasons I have already stated, but it took very definite action towards limiting their number.
It was a matter for regret to me to read in the Governor-General’s Speech that the Government proposes to curtail the work of the Development and Migration Commission. Honorable senators, who have spoken already have dealt exhaustively with this matter, and I do not intend to devote much time to it, but I should like to say that had this commission been functioning earlier, and had its advice been asked by the late Government of Queensland before it embarked upon its socialistic State trading schemes, which, until the defeat of the Labour government in May of this year had been in operation for a number of years, the taxpayers of the State would have avoided a capital expenditure of £5,000,000, and would not now be paying an annual interest bill of £250,000. ‘
I am sorry to learn that the Government proposes to interfere with the operation of the Transport Workers. Act by the suspension of licences on the waterfront. This will leave the way open for a recurrence of the trouble that we bad on the waterfront for many years prior to last November. For twelve months past work has proceeded on our wharves uninterruptedly and efficiently. In Queensland the loading and despatch of our primary products overseas has been done with continuity and without trouble.
– And at a reduced cost.
– Tha t is so. And the unloading of the goods used in the State has also been done without trouble and very efficiently. I, therefore, regret that the Government is running the risk of interfering with that continuity and efficiency by suspending the issue of licences to the transport workers.
– Is it not true that pillaging is .now very much less than it formerly was on the wharves?
– According to reports that have been given to me by various shipping, insurance and warehouse interests in Queensland, that is so.
– The peculiarity is that in the ports where the pillaging- was highest there has been no issue of licences.
– That continuity of work has greatly assisted the smoother running of industrial activities, and a far greater confidence in the State of Queensland is also evident.
The abolition of the system of compu sory military training has been dealt with very ably by several speakers, and I shall not labour the subject. I regret the action taken by the Government, as I think thai the practice of training the youth of h country to be prepared to defend their homeland and their rights of citizenship not only builds up character and gives to our young men an independent spirit, but also creates that feeling of fellowship which was such a noticeable feature in the Australian Imperial Force during the Great War. I feel that retrogression to a system of voluntary military training will imperil the future morale ,of our young manhood.
The sugar industry of Queensland is one of this country’s greatest bulwarks in the maintenance of its white Australian policy. That industry annually pays about £6,000,000 in wages and it has the support of all sections in Queensland. Unfortunately, the events of the past few months have had a rather disturbing effect on those concerned in the industry. The southern States have maintained a constant agitation for the removal of the embargo upon the importation of black-grown sugar. On the other hand, Queenslanders, as loyal Australians, are urged to support the highly protected products of the. southern manufacturers. The Town and Country Union has persistently disseminated propaganda, the object of which is to effect the removal of the embargo on the importation of blackgrown sugar. A short time ago that organization issued a remarkable manifesto which purported to disclose the enormous burden imposed upon the sou then - States by the maintenance of that embargo. It contained a number of misleading statements, and I am very glad that the Premier of Queensland publicly answered those allegations and proved that they were entirely wrong. I view with very grave concern the reported announcement by the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Snowden, that he hoped before he vacated office that all duties on food-stuffs, including sugar and dried fruits, would be swept away. The preference that Great Britain has given Australian-grown sugar has materially assisted Queensland sugargrowers to dispose of their surplus output at a price which although not showing a profit lias assisted them to carry on successfully. I am particularly apprehensive in this matter because since the new Federal Government has placed a further embargo on .British goods coming into Australia, we must expect retaliation from Great Britain. I sincerely trust that this Government will gee that at the next Imperial Conference the preferential claims of Queensland will- be kept well in the forefront by its representative.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the proposed tariff is an absolute embargo?
– No, but it will greatly affect British manufacturers who have been sending their products to Australia and accepting our goods in return.
– I should like to congratulate the Leader of the Government in the Senate on his appointment to that high office, and also Senator Barnes on his appointment as Assistant Minister. Although I shall endeavour occasionally to hit those honorable senators hard, I assure thom that I shall never hit below the belt, and that whenever their proposals have my approval they will receive my heartiest co-operation.
I should not have addressed the Senate on the Governor-General’s Speech, which is a somewhat vague and rather barren document, had it not contained some references to issues which vitally interest me, such as industry, migration, the grant to Tasmania, and defence. Honorable senators are assembled here after one of the most extraordinary elections in the history of the Commonwealth. It was an election that was fought on a clear issue. From the late Government’s point of view that, issue was the manner in which industrial power should be distributed between the Commonwealth and States. The Bruce-Page Government was opposed to dual control in industry. Labour alleged, quite incorrectly, that wage reduction and the abolition of industrial regulation by the Commonwealth were the objectives of the late Government. Apparently, the majority of the people of Australia believed those entirely false allegations. That is evident to any one who gazes upon another place and notes its present composition. I consider that I was an extraordinarily lucky individual, politically, that I was not up for election on the occasion of the recent appeal to the people. There is not the slightest ‘ doubt, that, with the wave that then swept over the whole of Australia, I should have been cast aside as were so many of my colleagues in another place. Undoubtedly the panic caused by the allegations that the BrucePage Government was out to reduce wages was the vital factor. The public was also deluded with a multiplicity of lavish promises of every conceivable kind, which were to be fulfilled if Labour were returned to power. The multitude will not, by a long chalk, receive what it was promised. But it has plenty to hope for, and I sincerely trust that it will keep on hoping. Otherwise, when it realizes that it has been duped, it may become “ hipped,” and the result will be a sticky business.
There was a time when the Labour party was content to fight its campaign solely on its ideals. On this occasion its high standard was scrapped, and the Labour party exploited every artifice and trick of low cunning in an endeavour to delude electors into voting for it. With the aid of its wealthy allies, whom it promises not to tax, it had ample funds to flood the country with a turgid stream of propaganda. Politics having degenerated into a vote-catching competition, it was inevitable that Labour should win at the last election, because it beat its opponents out of sight in the matter of promises. All those promises appealed, principally, to the meaner and more sordid traits of human nature. Let us examine some of those ante-polling-day baits for the unwary. I shall confine myself to only one or two instances, particularly one which hit me in “ my own State, when I was working on behalf of my colleagues in another place. The Sydney Morning Herald reported the present Treasurer, Mr. Theodore, as having said that if Labour were returned to power the coal-mines would he reopened within a fortnight. Again, speaking at Balmain on 24th September,
Labour’s campaign director used these words -
One of the first actions of a Labour Government will be to re-open the coal-mines. The John Browns of Australia must not be permitted to hold up the country to ransom. The coal-owners must open the mines, or the Labour Government will open them in the name of the people.
What wicked humbug! Mr. Theodore knew, when he made that vote-catching promise, that the Commonwealth had no power to re-open the mines.
The Governor-General’s Speech offers no solution of the unemployment problem, although hundreds of unemployed workers were deluded into believing that the Labour party possessed a cure for that evil. I sincerely hope that the Labour Government will be much more successful than the Labour party in Great Britain has been in dealing with this problem. Last May, a Labour Government was returned in Britain, largely because that party promised to solve the unemployment problem there. Six months have passed, and to-day there are 90,000 more persons in the ranks of the unemployed in Britain than when the Ramsay MacDonald Government assumed office. Speaking again at Balmain, Mr. Theodore, the campaign director of the Labour party, said that the Labour party believed that with suitable measures, the unemployment problem was capable of solution. What did he mean by “suitable measures”? What is the policy of the Government in relation to unemployment? One of the worst ways of relieving unemployment is to spend borrowed money on unproductive works.
– Increased taxation will not solve the problem.
– Nor will constantly recurring deficits.
– Another of the levers used by the Labour party in Tasmania was that returned soldiers temporarily employed in the Postal Service, on whom notices of dismissal had been served by the late Government, would be retained in the Service under a Labour Government. Many of these men voted for Labour candidates.’ But already their high hopes have been brushed,’ for the Sydney Morning Herald of a few days ago contained a paragraph stating that some of them had already complained that they would have got a better deal from Mr. Gibson than they have from Mr. Lyons. It is hard for any government to stand up to such promises. If a political party makes wild vote-catching promises it must take the consequences when it finds that it cannot honour them.
There was also a promise that a Labour Government would introduce a scheme of unemployment insurance. 3 suppose that we shall have to wait for that, for the Governor-General’s Speech makes no reference to it.
One would have thought that the Labour party had a sufficient grasp of the financial position of the country to refrain from promising any scheme of child endowment. But that promise was made although the party must have known that effect could not be given to it.
Another sop to the electors was a promise to abolish the increased excise duties on spirits and tobacco. That proposal was popular, for many men like a drop of grog at times, and the majority of them smoke. I had a long talk with a wine and spirit merchant in my home town. He said that he would not vote for any candidate supporting the Bruce-Page Government, because that government would raise the duties on whisky. He said that if the price of whisky went beyond ls. a nobbier it would affect his business, and that therefore he would vote for the Labour party candidate. That gentleman was, no doubt, exceedingly pleased to receive a postcard I sent him. informing him that the duty on whisky imposed by the Scullin Government was 8s. a gallon - more than the Bruce-Page Government proposed. There was no ambiguity about these promises. The campaign director said clearly that Labour would not impose higher excise duties on liquor or tobacco. The report of his address shows that that declaration was received with cheers. He went on to say that the Labour party would not impose customs duties for the sole purpose of raising revenue. That party has burned its boats; there are not many new avenues for raising revenue to carry on the services of the country.
But the promise that there would be no taxation of amusements was the most effective of all. Amusements were to be sacrosanct. I ask the Government, whose campaign director said that there would he no taxation on amusement, whether it intends to abolish the present amusement tax? The campaign director termed the proposal of the late Government with respect to the amusement tax, “ a paltry and inglorious attempt to extract money from the children’s entertainment.” How atrocious to tax the children’s amuse-: ments!
Then there was the promise to reestablish the Commonwealth shipping line, with special reference to Tasmania. I was born in Tasmania, and am a patriotic son of that State; but I should be very sorry indeed to see that line resuscitated, for we all know that it was a bottomless sink into which public moneys were poured. Should the line be resurrected it is not difficult to imagine who would control it. Again the tail would wag the dog. I had some firsthand knowledge of the running of the Commonwealth shipping line when it existed, and I can imagine the nature of the service Tasmania would get from a government-owned and governmentcontrolled line. The business of governments is to govern, not to trade. The world is full of instances of the failure of governmentcontrolled enterprises. There seems to be some curse or blight associated with them ; invariably they are wasteful, costly, and inefficient.
A newspaper paragraph informed us recently that the Government contemplates building ships at Cockatoo Island. Should it decide to do so, we can rest assured that they will take a long time to build, and be very expensive.
– Some of the finest cruisers ever built were constructed there.
– That may be; but how long did it take to build them and what did they cost? Not only is there the example of the Commonwealth shipping line to guide us, but the Stateowned shipping line of Tasmania provides another lesson in governmental enterprise. That line was primarily intended for trade between Tasmania, Victoria, and New South Wales, with a subsidiary line to King Island and Flinders Island in Bass Strait, two island dependencies of Tasmania. It is somewhat amusing to think that two of the gentle men who a few weeks ago were proclaiming from the housetops the benefits which Tasmania would derive from a Commonwealth line of steamers, were members of a Labour government - one its Premier, and the other its Chief Secretary - which, in the interests of Tasmania, sold its State-owned ships. How can they, in the light of their experience, now say that the establishment of a Commonwealth shipping line will solve Tasmania’s problems and give to that State a regular and frequent shipping service?
Some of the electioneering pamphlets distributed by the Labour party contained the most scandalous misrepresentation of facts. Those which came under my notice were authorized by E. G. Theodore, campaign director of the Australian Labour party, Trades Hall, Sydney. They were excellent specimens of the depth to which men can sink when seeking to secure votes from electors whom they are attempting to hoodwink. One of these pamphlets had reference to the late Government’s withdrawal of the prosecution of Mr. John Brown. Yet only yesterday the Leader of the Senate (Senator Daly) admitted, in reply to a question, that the present Government did not suggest, that there was any corruption whatsoever in the withdrawal of that prosecution. What I regarded as the worst of the lot was a green pamphlet entitled “ What Labour will do for the returned soldier.” On that pamphlet was the picture of a man - I presume he was a soldier in mufti - surrounded by a number of snakes, and on it there was a printed list of promises of what Labour would do for the “ diggers.” As an ex-State president of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia, I have been . intensely interested for many years in the welfare of my “ cobbers.” In my State we have been working earnestly in the interests of all returned men, and, I hope also, in the interests of the Commonwealth, to see that returned soldiers get a fair deal - no more and no less. This pamphlet, which was circulated, during the campaign, was a particularly oily sort of thing. Palpably- it was .intended as a bribe to any deluded fool who took it at its face value. One of the promises made was that if Labour wore returned to power, disabled diggers need not worry about the future, because they would be provided with suitable jobs in the Public Service. That, I submit, was particularly despicable. I do not see how the Labour Government can give effect to that promise. I do not mind a fair fight. I am prepared always to take and give hard knocks, but I abhore anything in the nature of dirty business.
Another particularly obnoxious pamphlet was headed “ Crisscross words. The latest puzzle.” I secured a number of these pamphlets and posted one each to the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and the ex-Attorney-General (Mi- Latham) because I thought it possible that legal action might be taken. It was the basest form of trickery that one could expect to find in any election contest. The pamphlet, which was deliberately designed to deceive the people, contained it number of quotations from Hansard, purporting to be extracts from the speeches of the ex-Prime Minister and ex-Attorney-General, and opposite each quotation was an extract, dated 1929, printed in quotation marks and purporting to contain statements by either the ex-Prime Minister or the exAttorneyGeneral in regard to arbitration. These extracts were wholly untrue, but they misled anyone who was not aware of the fact.. Opposite each statement were printed the words alleged to have been uttered by the ex-Prime Minister “ The job is too big for me - arbitration must go.” This was the most dastardly form of misrepresentation during an election campaign that has ever come under my notice, and I say, in all seriousness, it is ii pity that politicians cannot be prosecuted for obtaining votes by such dishonest practices.
A lost fight holds uo interest for me, but I am always interested in the next fight. It is no use to indulge in recriminations once a fight is over, but I do protest that in the last campaign our opponents so degraded themselves as to broadcast incorrect and misleading statements concerning the Governor-General - the representative in this country of His Majesty the King. “We had some inkling nf this matter in this chamber before we wont to the country, in the form of. references to the visit of the Governor-General to the Mandated Territory of New Guinea. That visit of His Excellency the Governor-General was made the text of an election pamphlet, and the impression was given that the Bruce-Page Government, as well as the Governor-General, had been guilty of unpardonable extravagance. The facts do not bear out this allegation. His Excellency visited’ the Mandated Territory in the aeroplane carrier Albatross. It was not a special trip to New Guinea at all, as the ship has to be maintained in commission and her crew have to receive their training. Every one knows it is advisable that, the officers and crew should have experience of cruising in tropical waters, and any one with the most rudimentary knowledge of aviation knows also that pilots should have flying experience in the tropics. The cruise was undertaken for that purpose solely. Had the Albatross remained in Sydney Harbour the cost of maintenance would not have been very much less than the trip to the Mandated Territory. Nevertheless statements were made that the visit of His Excellency the Governor-General had cost the Commonwealth £14,000, and as the campaign progressed, the figures rose, until the people were told that it had cost Australia £18,000, much of which, so it. was alleged, could have been saved if the Bruce-Page Government had ‘exercised reasonable economy. The facts are that the visit of the Governor-General to New Guinea did not cost the Commonwealth anything. His Excellency, following the usual custom, joined the officers’ mess and paid his own mess bills. This deliberate misrepresentation by our political opponents nauseates decent people. It is deplorable that His Excellency the Governor-General should have been dragged into the contest in this way.
I am particularly interested in the Government’s proposal to suspend assisted migration under the £34,000,000 migration agreement with the Imperial Government. For three and a half years, from 1922 to the beginning of 1925, T was State immigration officer in Tasmania, so I can speak with some knowledge on this subject. I have always maintained that we should not introduce more people than can be absorbed in Australia, but I question the wisdom of drastically and suddenly calling a halt. The broadcasting of a message that Australia cannot absorb any more migrants must re-act upon the Commonwealth in a most unfavorable manner. I listened with interest to the speech of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Daly) this afternoon, and I still think that the Government’s action was hasty and ill-advised. Had the responsibility to take action been mine, I should quietly have eased up on migration, but would not have advertised the fact.
– We did not advertise it.
– It was, in my opinion, a grave error of judgment. I know there had been a great deal of kite-flying in the press over the migration proposals of the Government, and it was from the press that I learned of the Government’s intention to suspend the assisted passages provisions of the agreement. I imagine also that the news was released for publication by some responsible authority.
– The news was first published in England.
– Another paragraph in the Speech of the GovernorGeneral that is of particular interest to me is the reference to the Government’s proposal to authorize the payment of special grants to the States of South Australia and Tasmania. The former Government, it will be remembered, decided to grant Tasmania the sum of £250,000 per annum for five years to recoup the State for its loss of revenue under federation. I was hoping, that the present Government would go one better, because, during the last election campaign, Labour candidates persistently alleged that the Bruce-Page Government had treated Tasmania is a shockingly niggardly manner. The following is a copy of an advertisement published in one of the Tasmanian newspapers in the interests of the gentleman, who is now the Postmaster-General, and also the honorable member for Bass : -
Messrs. J. A. Lyons for Wilmot and J. Guy for Bass are contesting seats in the Federal Parliament as a protest against the niggardly treatment of Tasmania by the Bruce-Page Government. The case for Tasmania, recently submitted to the Prime Minister, proved that a grant for £400,000 was necessary to enable the State to meet its obligations. Mr. Bruce calmly offered us £250,000 a year. The
Nationalist Government has failed to provide adequate shipping communication, has failed to give proper encouragement to our industries and, in a word, has failed Tasmania by their niggardly treatment in offering us £250,000.
I do not wish to rub this in too much, but I should like to know what the Government proposes to do. There have been many investigations into the financial position of Tasmania. In 1926 Sir Nicholas Lockyer conducted an exhaustive inquiry into the affairs of the State, and submitted certain recommendations, and, as I have stated, during the election the people were led to believe that if Labour were returned the State would get more generous treatment than it received from the Bruce-Page Government. We ‘‘find’ now that it is proposed to adopt the 1 policy of the Bruce-Page Government” in this respect, but. the Government, in order to save its face, is to refer the subject to the Public Accounts Committee for inquiry. There is no need for that committee to visit Tasmania; it is an absolute waste of money. The Government has all the evidence it requires at its disposal, and if it needs additional information surely the present Postmaster-General (Mr. Lyons), who was Premier and Treasurer of Tasmania for five years, can supply it. Mr. Lyons told the electors of Tasmania that the Bruce-Page Government was not giving them a fair deal, and that it was impossible for that State to meet its liabilities unless it received a grant of at least £400,000 a year from the Commonwealth. Why does not Mr. Lyons, who is now a member of the cabinet, fight for the State of which he is a representative?
– Was not the Public Accounts Committee appointed to inquire into such matters?
– There is no necessity for a further exhaustive examination when the fullest possible inquiries have already been made by other authorities, and the information obtained by them is at the immediate disposal of the Government. Surely the present PostmasterGeneral can enlighten the Government on any point that may arise concerning the disabilities which Tasmania is experiencing. When Mr. Lyons was. addressing the electors of Tasmania, he did not tell them that if a Labour Government was returned to power heavy additional taxation would be imposed.
– I have not heard the honorable senator complain of the grants made by the Government of which he was a supporter.
– We were always trying to get the best we could, and with the assistance of my colleagues, I have for 3£ years been endeavouring to obtain justice for Tasmania. The present Postmaster-General, when addressing the electors in Tasmania, said that the people should return Labour members who were men of ability, and not take any chances by sending back the “ mugs “ who were followers of Bruce, and who would do all he told them. The present Government has dishonoured its promise to the electors, quite a number of whom believed that if a Labour Government were returned Tasmania would receive at least a grant of £400,000.
I wish now to refer to the defence policy of the Labour party, which includes the abolition of compulsory military training. Section 119 of the Constitution reads -
The Commonwealth shall protect every State against invasion, and on the application of an executive Government of a State against domestic violence.-
During the 30 years I have been associated with the defence forces of Australia, I have held practically every rank from that of private to LieutenantColonel. The suspension of compulsory military training is a matter of profound regret to every good Australian. Ministers have declined to debate the subject on its merits, and find it preferable, politically, to connect their action in this respect with the depressed state of the public finances. This radical change is being brought about, not because of the need for economy - on those grounds it will not stand examination - but in order to obey the dictates of the political forces that push the Ministry from behind. I was quite relieved when I read in the Tasmanian newspapers, a statement by the Minister for Defence (Mr. A. Green) to the effect that the defence policy of the Government would be considered by Cabinet, and that apparently nothing was to be done in a hurry. The Minister said that responsible officers would be consulted, and suggested that perhaps a more economical and efficient system would be adopted. The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) who secured only a minor prize when the distribution occurred, put the Minister for Defence in his place, and said that there was no need for Cabinet to consider the subject as compulsory military training would be wiped out before Christmas. The honorable member for Ballarat, who is not a member of the Cabinet, proved a more reliable prophet than the Minister for Defence, because three days afterwards it was- officially notified that compulsory training and camps were to be suspended, and all prosecutions were to be withdrawn.
– The abolition of compulsory military training has been on the Labour party’s platform for years.
– -Possiby Cabinet did consider it, but with the result that if Cabinet had not suspended compulsory military training, caucus would have suspended the Cabinet. Prior to the last general election we heard a good deal concerning the late Government having received a mandate from the people to deal with the arbitration system. Has the present Government received a mandate from the people to abolish compulsory military training?
– Of course it has; it is on our platform.
– In the policy speech of the Leader of the Opposition as reported in the Labour Daily of Sydney, and what I may term the Labour Daily of Melbourne, the Age, the abolition of compulsory training was not mentioned. The then Leader of the Opposition emphatically intimated that his party was prepared to assume full responsibility for the defence of Australia. There are certain acts which a government must perform, the most important of which is the provision of adequate means’ for the defence of the country. It is also necessary to ensure continuity of policy, and the building up of reserves of partially trained men. The first camp held after the termination of war was in 1923 - I am speaking of the 12th Battalion, under my command. Since then we have progressed steadily, and have shown increased efficiency and enthusiasm. I was pleased to learn last year that our unit was 93 per cent, efficient. In connexion with that battalion, we have formed an athletic, a debating, and a very fine rifle club for members who have completed their training, and who are still more or less associated with the battalion. The results have been excellent, but there can be no continuity if there is a break in the elementary training. There are to be no more camps this year, and the position is becoming chaotic. It appears that all the excellent work undertaken during the last six or seven years is to be rendered valueless.
– Cannot the honorable senator join the voluteers?
– I am a volunteer.
– There is nothing to prevent the honorable senator from taking charge of volunteers.
– My personality does not come into the question. I am but a pawn, just as I was in the Great “War. It is the national aspect we must take into consideration, and I regard it as madness to make a break in our defence system because of temporary financial stringency, which is the ostensible reason we have been given for the change. In times of distress a man does not cut down his insurance policy; it is the last step he would dream of taking; and the last step Australia should dream of taking is to cut down its defence forces. The falseness of this plea, this fatuous excuse, becomes very evident because there is no promise that training will be renewed when times are better. There are to be no training camps this coming year, and, as every soldier knows, we cannot get on without camps. We cannot get the young fellows to give up their time to military training without a camp. With eight days of continuous training, more can be done than in the rest of the year.
Honorable senators of the Labour party talk about the suspension of compulsory military training. That is nonsense. What they really mean is abolition. 1 It is the beginning of the end of the prospects of the land forces of Australia becoming an efficient body which, if necessary, could’ he used in the fighting line at fairly short notice. Yes, I am a volunteer. I was a volunteer 30 years ago when as a boy of seventeen I went into my first camp. I was a volunteer in South Africa for seven years. I served in Southern Rhodesia as a volunteer.
All the talk we have heard about fancy uniforms is worth nothing. , A soldier’s business is to be master of his weapons. Everything else is merely frill. The plea that a voluntary system can be carried on at a smaller cost at once loses all force if the volunteers are to be rigged out in fancy uniforms. With all due respect to Senator Payne, the kilt is no part of the national garb of Australia. We want to maintain a national Australian spirit in our forces. The plea for a fancy uniform cuts no ice. A man is not trained by being made to look pretty. Men say, “ The good old volunteer.” Whatever a man’s reasons for volunteering may be, he must be a fairly decent chap, but under the voluntary system we allow the slacker, the shirker, and the waster to escape his obligation to fit himself to defend his country if necessary. As a matter of fact, we are going back to the “bad old volunteer days.” Every soldier knows that the phrase, “ One volunteer is better than half a dozen pressed men,” cuts no ice. Last night, when I was listening to my honorable -and very gallant friend, Senator Dunn, reading so eloquently the Marseillaise, the French national anthem, I could not help thinking how appropriate was the Une, which the honorable senator read with such dramatic effect -
To arms, to arms, ye brave!
That sums up Labour’s defence policy. We are now asking the brave to come along and take up arms. Universal training is such a democratic thing that I imagined it would appeal to honorable senators opposite. It does not make fish of one and flesh of another.
– It does, sometimes.
- Senator Rae is opposed to all systems of defence. He is perfectly honest about his attitude. He would abolish defence. His troubles about it.
– When did I ever say that?
– The honorable senator would wipe defence clean out.
– Senator Rae lost his two sons at the wai-. Was that not a big sacrifice?
– Of course, but it has no bearing on what I am saying at the moment. A voluntary system is a flabby sort of thing. Under it escape the very people we ought to train, so as to lead them to realize that, as citizens, they have responsibilities as well as those rights of which we are perhaps prone to talk over-much.
There is a factor in this business which, although small, has an important effect upon our national life. When universal training was first introduced in Tasmania we had a rather uphill fight in the first year or two because the trainees were all a bit collar-proud ; it was quite a novelty to a lot of them. But the people in the Tasmanian towns know that when the system got going well the larrikin or push element disappeared. The boys had something else to think about. They had discovered the true team spirit and that there was more in the business than they imagined.
Universal training was gradually approached from 1909 to 1910 and was eventually brought in by proclamation by the Fisher Government on the 1st January, 1911. But it was not done without seeking the best military advice obtainable. We had a visit from Lord Kitchener, who was, I believe, one of the greatest administrators and organizers the Empire has ever produced. He had a good look at what we had to offer him, the old militia system, which he regarded as a rather weak arm to be used should ever the occasion arise, and he recommended a system of universal training as being best fitted for a country like Australia, which did not desire and could not afford a professional army. Universal training was therefore proclaimed and it has been in operation for years and has not been a failure. On the contrary it has had a great measure of success. It stood the test of a long and bloody war. It was natural that, in 1918, and for a little time afterwards we should be rather war weary. We were licking our wounds, repatriating our men, and no one lad much enthusiasm to talk about defence. But that period had passed by 1923, when training was resumed and things, as Senator Glasgow well knows, have been steadily going on very well. We were getting splendid results and it is amazing that the present Ministry should have decided to abolish universal training apparently without consulting the Council for Defence or any other authority that would have advised it that a sudden suspension would mean chaos. Among the thirteen Ministers there is not one who has even the foggiest knowledge of war, and to abolish compulsory military training without consulting people who were in a position to know what would be the effect of such a step was most extraordinary. To my mind it is the most retrograde step Australia has vet taken. It is one thing to suspend compulsory military training by administrative act, and quite a. different matter to repeal the provision for it in the Defence Act. It is the inescapable responsibility of every citizen worthy of the name to be prepared if necessary to defend his country? We must hold our great island continent with our own hands.
The statement attributed to the P#rime Minister is that the Australian Imperial Force demonstrated that we can take great hordes of untrained men, and, provided we have a nucleus of trained officers and instructors, turn them in a very short time into first-class battle troops. The Australian Imperial Force did not demonstrate it. As a matter of fact, its experience was quite the contrary. When the call came in August, 1914, universal training had been in existence for three years, and’ we also had quite a large number of officers and non-commissioned officers who had seen a certain amount of service in Africa and elsewhere. Nevertheless, despite the time spent in training in Australia, plus the training we had in the desert of Egypt for some six or seven months before we made the landing in April, 1915 - and it was very hard, intensive training, so hard that lots of fellows in the infantry cracked up in Egypt : it was a case of the survival of the fittest - we were far from ready to take our place in the line. We were not trained troops then. After the evacuation of Gallipoli we had more training in the desert, and more in France, and when our fellows hopped over at Fleurbaix in 1916 they were still a long way from the wonderful standard the Australian Imperial Force achieved in 1918, especially that of the artillery. It was not until then that we had that wonderful technique, war craft and mastery of the art that made the Australian Imperial Force famous. It is a most fallacious idea that in a short time we can take mcn without previous training, and with the best of instructors turn them into firstclass fighting units. It cannot be done, and I tremble to think what would happen if a rabble of men .not fully trained had to take the field. Its punishment would be dreadful. I have seen time after time what results from lack of training. I saw’ it years ago as a trooper in Africa. In South Africa I saw Imperial Yeomanry of the new order, hastily trained, rushed into the veldt, to get it badly in the neck. They had not a hope against the wily Dutchmen, who were inured to the veldt. I saw similar instances in France. The braver that untrained troops are the worse punishment they receive from the enemy. That was noticeable in connexion with our friends, the Americans. We took them into action on the 4th July, 1918, at the battle of Hamel, and those splendid fellows, of fine physique, but as green as a salad, and lacking a knowledge of war craft, suffered terribly. Again, in October of that year, two Yankee divisions went in with us, and their ranks later were like a shambles. They lacked the necessary training.
And how can we count on being granted time in which to train when the need arises? The Australian Imperial Force was extraordinarily fortunate in that it had time to train, and that was due only to the might and strength of that incomparable instrument of righteousness, the British Navy. I could dilate at great length upon the subject of lack of training, but why should I labour it? I know the experience of my own battalion, through which over 6,000 men went in four and a half years. One hundred and eleven officers, and something like 3,500 men became casualties. On Gallipoli alone we lost 36 officers and 1,060 men. We came out of Bullecourt with five officers and 121 men. It was like the Phoenix rising from its ashes. Time and again our strength was renewed by the influx of partially trained reinforcements, who were steadied and stiffened by a nucleus of veterans, who survived and coached the new drafts.
It is alarming to hear this fallacious reasoning from people who know nothing about wai-, and who have not been through the fiery furnace. It is impossible to take a rabble of untrained men, put them under a few instructors, and in a short time expect to have highly trained and seasoned warriors. That false reasoning has been disproved time and time again. Senator Daly said “ Oh, but the next war will be a scientific one.” The last was pretty scientific. I could talk for a long time about some of the scientific methods that were used. But machines do not fight. Tanks do not fight. Aeroplanes do not fight. It is the man who manipulate our tanks and our aeroplanes that count. It is the man who counts all the time, and if we in Australia are going to scrap our system of compulsory training, we shall become flabby. Are wo to be content to ask the old man, John Bull, to carry our burden ? Is that the sort of people we are?
asked the other night what good universal training had achieved. I shall tell the honorable senator. I have studied- it in Australia and abroad. I know what it means to the nation. Its moral effect alone is worth all the money that we have spent on it.
– And what about its immoral effect?
– I am unaware that it had any immoral effect. It teaches the youngsters time citizenship. It gives them some idea of their responsibilities as well as their rights. It teaches them honesty of purpose, steadfastness, loyalty to. comrades, and the value of order, of method. That is most important.^ It teaches them selfdiscipline; self-control. That again is most important. It teaches them team work, efficiency, and the stern necessity for physical fitness. To suppose that a boy who acquires the virtues of selfdiscipline, the value of organization, the ability to obey in order later on to command, and to face fatigue without shirking, becomes innoculated with the germ of aggressive militarism is much the same as to say that if a young fellow takes boxing lessons he will become a truculent individual, a bully, a hooligan.
We shall sadly miss the good effect of compulsory military training. And I do not think that a voluntary system will be cheaper. Actually, it will be more costly, and will not give the results, obtained under the old system. All sorts of difficulties will arise under a voluntary system. Under the compulsory training system we had the power to allot boys to the various arms of the service, and so were able to build up the different quotas satisfactorily. Under the new scheme there will be no difficulty in filling up the ranks of signallers and the wireless sections, as that appeals to the lads. Probably there will be no difficulty in enlisting gunners, as boys are fond of horses. But it will be extraordinarily difficult to obtain a quota for the infantry, although we shall all do our best. And the infantry is the backbone of all armies. Again, has the Government considered the attitude of the employer? Under the compulsory system difficulty was experienced with only a few employers, but I am apprehensive that under a voluntary system lads will be adversely affected in their civil vocations.
Because I have spoken in this strain some honorable senators may conclude, quite wrongly, that I am a believer in war, a militarist. .Having been through two wars, I assure them that I am not a militarist nor am I a pacifist. I loathe the very idea of war. I am a firm believer in the League of Nations, and am one of the vice-presidents .of the Tasmanian branch of the League of Nations Union. I wholeheartedly support the League and what it means. I pray for the day when nations will renounce . war as an instrument of national policy. But,” after all, the
League of Nations is only a piece of machinery designed to obviate war. There are two mighty powers outside that League that I should like to see affiliated with it, the United States of America and the Soviet Republic of Russia. We in Australia are in a difficult position. A White Australia is a matter of faith with us. A great many of us also believe in a high tariff. Further, we are a very sparsely populated country. All those are factors that might cause war. The League of Nations does not believe in a White Australia, nor do I think that our old father, John Bull, has very great faith in that ideal of ,ours. If we throw on him the onus of our defence he might very justifiably turn round and say. “ Well, you brought trouble on yourselves with your White Australia policy, in which I do not believe; why should 1 defend you ? “ We must be prepared to stand on our own feet. It was nothing short of a national calamity to scrap universal training, animated as it was by a truly democratic spirit. To build it up, to foster it, to make it efficient will be not only to create a national asset, but to provide a great and noble aid in the moulding of the character of our young Australians.
– My first duty is to congratulate the Leader of the Government in this chamber on his meteoric rise to prominence in this country. There are not many countries in which a young man can rise from comparative obscurity - I say that not offensively - to be one of the foremost counsellors in the land. We had the pleasure of sitting alongside Senator Daly in his capacity as Leader of the Opposition for only the short space of three months when he was suddenly transferred to the other side of -the chamber as Leader of the Senate. If the honorable senator were inclined to look about him for a judge who would treat him leniently, he could not do better than select me, for I should be kind to him, and would temper justice with mercy. I should say that, for every month he was in opposition, he should have a sentence of a full twelve months in .the seat .of authority. In three years’ time he would probably be ready to hand over the seals of office, and being then much tempered and improved as a result of his years of experience, and the sobering influence of responsibility, he would be a better citizen even than he is to-day. I give the honorable senator about three years in office before he makes room for a better man - I speak in a political sense. Having offered my congratulations to the Leader of the Senate I shall have pleasure in offering him advice from time to time, notwithstanding that my advice in the past has often been unheeded.
The present occasion offers an opportunity to review the past and look forward to the future. It is an opportunity for both retrospection and introspection; we can look around us as well as within. The more we look within and try to reconcile our actions with the monitor within us, the better we shall be able to justify our actions.
As a result of the election for members of another place, there has been a change of government, and with it a” change of policy in relation to ministerial representation in the Senate. As the days flit paSt, the folly of the Government in treating the Senate as it has done is becoming more and more apparent. This chamber is the true expression of the people of this country, yet in it the Government is represented to-day by only one Minister. Apparently for good reasons, his colleague, Senator Barnes, a man respected by all shades of opinion, is absent. It is a physical impossibility for one Minister to handle the business of the country in this chamber. In another place the Treasury bench is overmanned. What has the Senate done to deserve this treatment? Can any rational being say that it is justified? To leave the Senate with only two Ministers is not to play the game by the party itself, to say nothing of the undue burden thrown on the shoulders of one man by a party which professes to believe in fair play and equality of sacrifice. The Leader of the Senate has my sympathy. I protest against the affront which has been offered to this chamber. We do not want much consideration - a few small crumbs from the table of the party in’ power ‘ would satisfy us - but we do not even get those crumbs of consolation. No more despicable treatment of the chamber could be imagined. And a so-called democratic party is responsible for it! I enter my protest, futile though it be, against the discreditable treatment of this chamber by the Government.
I desire to correct an impression regarding this chamber which is altogether too prevalent. I have heard it said that the Senate has failed to fulfil its constitutional role, that it has not lived up to the expectations of the framers of the Constitution. Those who decry the Senate say that, instead of it being the custodian of State rights, it is merely an echo of another place. I remind those who speak in that manner of the old saying that, if you give a dog a bad name, it will stick to it. If in any community there is a man who is given credit rightly or wrongly for being wiser than his fellows, his remarks are repeated over and over again until they come to be regarded as almost a truism. The Senate has not failed. It is not merely the echo of another place. When a clash occurred between the two chambers some years ago, what was the result? The Senate was challenged, and had to appear before the bar of public opinion; but, notwithstanding the manner in which it had been abused, it came back triumphant. The government of the day and members of another place had to acknowledge the Senate as the standard expression of public opinion in this country.
The Senate is still the custodian of State rights. Whenever the interests of a State have been at stake, the representatives of that State in this chamber have sunk their political differences and have stood firmly for the State they represented. When the sugar industry of Queensland was in danger senators representing that State between whose political opinions there was a gulf so wide that there was no possibility of spanning it, forgot their differences and stood as one man in the interests of Queensland until their common object was achieved. On another occasion, when senators representing New South Wales felt that the interests of that State were at stake in connexion with the selection of a site for a federal capital, they, with the solitary and honorable exception of Senator Rae, stood solidly for New South Wales. Liberal and Labour pulled together on the same rope until their joint aim was secured. When the country’s fiscal policy of protection was being decided, was there any difference between the representatives of Victoria, who in other matters were keen rivals? Victorian senators knew that the policy of the people of that State was protection, and they pulled together to give effect to that policy. Again, when South Australia proposed to hand over the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth, the six representatives of that State in the Senate - men of warring political opinions - united until success crowned their efforts. The same thing happened in the case of the Western Australian senators in connexion with the transcontinental railway.
These facts stand out like Wilson’s Pro.monotory to show that senators holding different political views have sunk their differences when occasion has demanded it. The facts of current history refute the superficial criticism of those who say that the Senate has failed. If this chamber has at all failed to do what the framers of the Constitution expected - and I deny that it has - it has done so in obedience to a mandate from the people. Among those who took a prominent part in the framing of the Constitution was Sir Josiah Symon, who afterwards represented South Australia in the Senate. But the time came when, although he was an outstanding figure, he was, as it were, ground between the two party machines of the day. The electors of South Australia refused to return him as an independent candidate, notwithstanding that they fully appreciated his preeminence. Senator Cameron, from Tasmania, was one of the most respected members of the Senate; but the time came when he, too, suffered the same fate as Senator Sir Josiah Symon. What attitude did those journals which now criticize the Senate adopt in the past? They ranged themselves beside the party machine; they used their influence to send here men who were a part of that machine. The press of Australia sounded the political death knell of Senator Sir Josiah Symon and Senator Cameron. Yet those journals now condemn the Senate for doing what they themselves commenced. When I am told that the Senate has failed, I am reminded of the old exploded shibboleths about the “ teeming East “ and “an Englishman’s home being his castle”, and the like. There is no “ teeming East “ but there is a “ teeming West “. We have heard much about the overflowing population of the East; but, as a matter of fact, the “ teeming “ population of the world is to be found not within the Asiatic boundaries, but in the European countries. So it is a palpable absurdity, in these days, to talk about the “ teeming East “. That story is in the same category as the legend that “ an Englishman’s home is his castle.” It is certainly nothing of the kind, if he happens to owe money on it. Rather is it the other fellow’s castle then.
With regard to the recent election contest, all I can say is that we know the result and must accept the verdict. It is true that the result has not been reflected in this chamber, but undoubtedly it has in another place, and to a marked degree. I venture to say that, if the Labour party had been in possession of the Treasury bench, and had members of that party dared to express independent opinions on important issues as was done by certain Nationalists their fate would have been somewhat different from the fate of those members of the Nationalist party who were responsible for the downfall of the Bruce-Page Government. I tremble to think of what would have happened to them had they dared to take an independent stand on a vital issue. The iron discipline of the party would quickly have brought them to heel. Not so with members of the Nationalist party. But, after all, there are compensations in the thought that a member of this party may exercise liberty of thought and still live unmolested. Why should free-born men in this free and democratic country be penalized for the exercise of this privilege? Why should liberty of thought be denied . to any individual by a coterie of leaders, who arrogate to themselves that right? It passes my comprehension how men who claim that right should seek to withhold it from any of their fellow men. That is not freedom; it is only a base imitation of true liberty. The essence of liberty is the free exercise of the Godgiven right of every man to state his views fearlessly, and without fear of the consequences. I hope, therefore, that the Commonwealth will derive some benefit from the change, even though the party to which I belong is for the time in the cold shades of opposition.
The right of every man to the free expression of his views is the very salt of our social system. Particularly is this true when it is so intimately associated with the government of a country. “What right has any party, with freedom emblazoned on its banner, to debar any member of it from the free expression of his personal views? No wonder Danton, the soul and spirit of the French revolution, said, “ Better be a’ fisherman than meddle in the art of governing men.”
What happened to cause the people to reject the Nationalist party in view of the fact that barely twelve months previously they had returned it to power with a substantial majority? It is difficult to understand what one might term the mentality of democracy, and I am afraid that if we endeavour to ascertain the reason for the change we shall engage on a profitless enterprise. I recall that in 1913, the Fisher Government was defeated notwithstanding the fact that it had given legislative effect to all its pledges. Democracy on that occasion said to Labour, “Well done. You have done all that you undertook to do ; nevertheless you are not considered fit to enjoy a further lease of power, so for the time being you must surrender control of this country to others.” This cuts both ways. The party that is victorious to-day may, without any apparent reason, be vanquished to-morrow.
It is, as 1 have said, almost impossible to state definitely what caused the ignominious defeat of the Nationalist party, but I suggest that there were a few palpable contributory causes. In the first place we should keep in mind the general feeling that is abroad in regard to the relation of the government to the individual and, on the other hand, the relation of the individual to the government. The position is entirely different from what it was 25 to 30 years ago. May I remind honorable senators that in those days the average Australian citizen was not disposed to lean upon the Government to anything like the same extent that the average Australian to-day looks to a paternal Government for help in any and all circumstances. This, 1 suggest, indicates a very sad declension in moral standards. The average Australian of to-day does not stand so upright as did the average Australian of 30 years ago. The pioneering spirit of those days appears to be missing. There is less inclination, unaided by the Govern ment, to . face the dangers arrayed against us, and emerge triumphant from our troubles. Nowadays, if anything’ goes wrong we blame the Government. My advice to young Australians is that , they should stand upright and at all costs work out their own material salvation, without looking to the Government for so much direction and assistance.
This changed mental outlook is, I think, one reason why the Nationalists in this chamber are on your left, Mr. President. But there are other reasons. We have been told that at former elections the Nationalist party was successful because, as the result of some unholy alliance between the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and industrial leaders, disputes and strikes were fomented on the eve of those elections. These disturbances, we were informed, ensured the return of Nationalist candidates. The baseless allegation of our political opponents has always been that the party of which I am a member has been instrumental in engineering strikes on the eve of an election as a means of securing political advantage, or if we have not engineered them as alleged, that we get the benefit of those strikes when they occur. We have frequently been told that we were successful at the poll on two occasions, simply because an industrial disturbance was in progress. But what was the position during the last election? Was not a strike in progress? The waterside workers were on strike when we made a successful appeal to the people some time ago; but the timber workers were flagrantly defying an award of the Arbitration Court during the last election. If the Nationalist party depends upon a strike to carry it to political victory, how is it that the timber workers’ strike did not assist it on the last occasion, when an appeal was made to the people? The only answer is that the reasoning of honorable senators opposite, and those with whom they are associated is faulty, and that the party, of which I am a member, mounted to the peak of popularity, where it remained until quite recently, by the , inherent merits of its policy. If strikes were responsible for our success at the polls on two previous occasions, why did not the timber workers’ strike carry us to victory recently? Why did not the same cause produce the same result?
– But strikes are chronic in Australia.
– If they are not already chronic, we are rapidly reaching a position when we shall be able to say that, industrially, Australia is in a state of constant turmoil. The occurrence of strikes impinges upon the true welfare of this country; nothing can more seriously interfere with the prosperity of the nation than a disastrous strike. To-day strikes are illegal, but a few years ago they were justified, because the workers had not an arbitration court before which they could appear for a rectification of their grievances in the matter of wages and conditions. In days gone by the strike was the workers only effective weapon; it” was their only means of obtaining social justice. Years ago when men had no arbitration court, to which to appeal, strikers received the financial support and sympathy of the people, and the consequence was that a strike was of short duration. The public very often kept a strike going; that was the case in connexion with the strikes in which I was engaged. How is a strike maintained to-day? Does the public subscribe? I venture to say it does not_contribute a penny piece. The contributions made to-day are received from the trade unionists of Australia, who are now so opulent, that they can subscribe funds in a way that was impossible in the “nineties.” That is the main reason why industrial disputes are so prolonged, and so disastrous, as they are today. An observer at some of the political gatherings in the Sydney Domain, the Yarra Bank in Melbourne, or the Botanic Park in Adelaide, must admit that the contributions received from the public at such gatherings are insignificant. But during the big strikes of 1890 and 1893, as Senator Bae will remember, public money was subscribed in thousands. That is not the case to-day, because a strike is not only a deliberate violation of the law, but also disastrous to the whole community.
– The timber strikers in New South Wales gained more support from the public than has been the case during any other strike that has occurred in Australia.
– I cannot agree with the honorable senator.
In dealing with the result of the last election, I intend to refer to what I shall designate “ a few odd things.” An odd thing is something that is opposed to ordinary reasoning or common sense. During the recent contest, every Government candidate dealt very fully with the attitude of the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) towards arbitration. It was circulated throughout the whole Commonwealth that the Bruce-Page Government intended to smash arbitration; but a remarkable feature of the campaign was that others who had openly expressed their opposition to the principle of arbitration escaped unscathed. My respected friend, Senator Rae, has placed his opinion on- record in the Pan-Pacific Worker, the official organ of the PanPacific Trade Union Secretariat, concerning which I shall speak later. On page 16 of that publication Senator Rae, in the course of an article headed “ The Curse of Arbitration,” used these words -
It is impossible to estimate the moral harm done to the Australian working class by the ill-considered action in accepting arbitration as a solution of labour’s problems.
When an election for the Senate was held in New South Wales a few months ago Senator Rae, who thus denounced arbitration, was placed at the top of the poll, but at the recent election Mr. Bruce, whose opponents declared that he was out to smash arbitration, was placed at the bottom of the poll. How are we to account for this topsy-turvydom? Is it because we are at the Antipodes that principles thus work backwards and forwards, just as trees shed their bark instead of their leaves? If two men are guilty of the same offence, is one to be placed in prison and another to go scot free?
– - I was not a candidate when Mr. Bruce was.
– No; but the conditions prevailing on both occasions were similar. One candidate, who referred to arbitration as a “ curse “ escaped scot free, and another was hounded out of public life. Is that fair play? The same offence should warrant the same penalty the world over. Why was not Senator Rae put at the bottom of the poll, along with Mr. Bruce? I have not time, however, to deal with the idiosyncrasies of Senator Rae and the vagaries of democracy in the State that he represents.
Burning wi,th anxiety, the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Daly) directed . attention to industrial conditions in Australia, and referred to the intention of the Government to restrict the admission of foreign migrants into the Commonwealth. The clear inference is that the Australian workman is suffering as a result of the presence of so many foreign migrants in our midst. I shall not argue the point. Let the charge stand. We have a right, however, to consider the attitude of the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) towards migration when he was leading the Government in Queensland. When the workers in that State made certain representations to the Government concerning the presence of a large number of Southern Europeans, what was the attitude of Mr. Theodore and his lieutenant on that occasion? Mr. Hunter, a colleague of his, who had just returned from London, is reported in the Brisbane press of the 18th November, 1922, in this way -
Regarding migration, Mr. Hunter said that he had approved of a large number of Italians being brought out to Queensland because they went to the north and engaged in the direct development of the sugar -fields. As they became accustomed to the country they became land-holders, and had assisted in solving the labour difficulty to a large degree.
Not content with expressing that opinion and placing on record his belief in Italians coming to this country, “in large numbers,” he followed it up by saying, on the 16th April, 1925, that-
I thought then, and still think, that the admission of a good class of northern Italians would, and will, prove advantageous to Northern Queensland, and particularly to the sugar industry, which, because of the high cost of production, cannot be continued without adequate labour.
The opinion Mr. Hunter formed in 1922 was confirmed three years later. He believed that Southern Europeans were necessary to assist in the effective development of the cane fields. When he reported in favour of their introduction in large numbers, a pamphlet was circulated in the Italian language by the Queensland Government, of which Mr. Theodore was a member,, beseeching these men to come to this country. And they did. I do not find any fault with them. I am only trying the impossible - to square, in the case of those gentleman, precept with example. It is interesting, indeed, to compare the attitude of Mr. Theodore on that occasion with the policy of the Federal Government of which he is now a member.
– How many years have passed since that occurred?
– Do years make any difference in the nature of a principle?
– There was a shortage of labour then.
– Does time make any difference in the moral behaviour? Can a man who supports a principle 10-day be right in opposing it tomorrow? The last election was fought to a great extent on this issue. The Queensland Government of which Mr. Theodore was a member, was responsible for the issue and circulation of a pamphlet in the Italian language, a copy of which 1 saw when in Queensland. It was distributed amongst the southern Europeans so that it could be despatched to their friends in Italy, and was framed in such a way that they would regard Australia as a land of hope, promise and opportunity. The State Labour Government welcomed them with unfeigned pleasure, but. Mr. Theodore’s friends charge these nien with being foreign migrants, deliberately introduced by the Bruce-Page Government to break down wages. Those already here are here largely as a result of his own handiwork, yet he and those with whom he is associated, have the audacity to charge the Bruce-Page Government with having induced a large number of foreigners to this country. Mr. Theodore and his friends did this; the charge has been proved up to the hilt. Where do we stand? When Mr. Bruce says- “ We shall curtail foreign immigration, and not assist these people as Mr. Theodore has assisted them “ he is condemned, and Mr. Theodore gets a halo put on his brow for doing worse than the same thing. Is that fair play? Let the “ punishment fit the crime.” Why should Mr. Bruce be condemned for doing something for which the Theodore Government was extolled? Fair play is bonny play.
Latter-day Labour men have to earn a living, and they do it mostly by condemning capitalism, but they never miss an opportunity to get some of that which tarnishes one. When some gentlemen in this Federal Parliament set out in the commercial world to supplement the wherewithal by which they live, they bought a mining property and sold it again to the Government. That is to say, Jim Smart and Bill Boodle bought fl valueless mine in Queensland for a song, and when they wanted to get rid of it they could not find any customer more accommodating than themselves in their respective capacities as Premier and Treasurer of the State. They were Ministers of State, sworn to protect the taxpayers’ interests. Could there be anything more slimy than that? They sold the mine for £40,000 to the Queensland Government - these spotless Labour men. Yet nothing was said, nothing was done, except to put them higher in the popular favour. If that had been done by Nationalists I venture to say that if all the water in the River Murray were turned into ink, and red ink at that, it would not be sufficient to pen the objurgations of honorable senators opposite regarding their action. Yet a Labour man can boodle as long as he likes and nothing is said about him. Is that fair play? Yet this barefaced - I am stuck for adjectives for the moment - bit. of smart practice - because, after all, there are no rogues in this country, they are only smart men- * whereby the money of the taxpayers of Queensland was thrown into the coffers of Jim Smart and Bill Boodle, is forgotten because it was done by Labour men.
– The honorable” senator’s idea of fair play is to make these charges under the cover of privilege.
– My idea is to ask Senator Rae, or any one else, whether it is fair play that a man because he is labelled “ Labour “ should be able to play these tricks and escape scot free, whereas if any member of the other party did anything remotely approaching this sort of thing, he would be condemned to everlasting perdition. The honorable senator who should be the first to get up and denounce this smart practice, is, however, tongue-tied. He has not the courage to permit his sleeping instinct of justice to assert itself.
The party that is now temporarily in the ascendant has in the past, either as a whole or in part, done things for which it has condemned others and has escaped censure. It has had in its platform from the first a plank which it has kept carefully in a shed until the white ants have riddled it. It is known as the nonalienation of Crown lands. Is that plank brought out of the shed and used? No. It is good enough to tickle the ears of the groundlings for the purpose of obtaining votes, but not good enough to put into proper practice. “We have heard the Bruce-Page Government condemned for having sold the Australian Commonwealth line of steamers, a step which I . opposed, but what did the Tasmanian Labour Government do in similar circumstances? When it became necessary for the Tasmanian Government to buy ships for its intrastate trade and for trade with the mainland, ships were purchased, but when a Labour Government got hold of them they were sold. When the Bruce-Page Government sold a line of steamers which was losing money to the extent we have heard mentioned to-night, it was condemned from Dan to Beersheba, but when a Labour Government did exactly the same thing it escaped censure once more. Where is the justice in that?
What happened in connexion with the Western -Australian State implement works? They were established largely by my help to give the settlers of Western Australia a chance to secure implements at a reasonable cost, and at the same time to provide capable workmen with good wages. They were established by a Labour Government when Labour was Labour; when it kept its word; when it did not have time to sing the Red Flag - it was too busy doing good work for the people. But what did latter-day Labour do with those implement works? It passed an act in the Western Australian Parliament to enable it to share the control of the works with the Westralian Farmers Ltd. Was that not abandonment of duty on its part; a clear swinging away from the policy the party had openly declared its intention to uphold? Yet no punish? ment followed. If the Nationalist party had done the same the air would have resounded from North Cape to Cape Leeuwin, with Labour cries about the iniquity of a party that would sell a State-owned concern. But members of the Labour party can do this and nothing is done. Even in this chamber we have had the spectacle of ex-Senator Gardner voting consistently against protection, although I understand it is a leading plank in the Labour party’s platform. He voted freetrade on every occasion, but nothing was done to him.
But when a poor man like myself happens to do something that is not palatable to the Labour party, it says “ Off with his head.” I am vigorously attacked and hounded by the coterie that hangs out at the Trades Hall.
I have said before that, in order to bring out better conditions in this country, we must above all purify the ranks of trade unionism by sowing some seeds of wholesome thought, earnest praise and worthy desire amongst them. Latter-day Labour men are not condemned for their actions; they can, so to speak, steal a whole mob of horses, while we must not look over the fence. Bui if we step off the chalk-line, the full power and strength of their language is employed to take advantage of the credulity of the people in order to accomplish their miserable ends during election time, and so secure our condemnation.
It is no pleasure to me to refer to these things, but I do so in the hope of kindling a spark of remorse in their consciences so that they may say, “ How can we live any longer the false life that we have been, living? Let us follow the example of those who sit opposite us and speak from the bottom of our hearts and according to the dictates of our consciences.” But they will not do that for the simple reason that they have not the courage of honorable senators who sit on this side - men who care not for the consequences of their actions, believing that what they do is in the interests of the community. I ask the members of the Government to speak spontaneously and not as the other fellow dictates. They are preparing the way for an incoming tyrant; they are serving a demagogue who trades upon the susceptibilities and the gullibility of the people. The words of Aristotle ring true to the present day. that the essence of liberty in every country is the right of every man to express his true opinion without being punished for so doing - without being made to feel that he is an outcast, and without having his bread and butter snatched from him. That kind of treatment is not liberty at all. It is the love of liberty that has produced the great champions of the worker? in the public, life of this country to-day.
I have already commented on the fact that the late Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) was cast down for alleged interference with the Commonwealth Arbitration system, and Senator Rae was cast up for precisely the same reason. He has a halo, while Mr. Bruce has a pitch cap. Who among the Government supporters has not said that the Bruce-Page Government wanted to reduce wages? Let me remind honorable senators opposite that by reducing wages we destroy the product of the worker. What did the Nationalist Government do for the workers of Australia? It held office for some thirteen years, and during that time spent something like £100,000 in the appointment of commissions for the purpose of ascertaining in what way the worker was being ill-treated, and the best remedy to apply. From the Basic Wage Commission, which cost £20,000 in 1918, up to and including the child endowment scheme and the Coal Commission in New South Wales, there has been an earnest desire to give the bottom dog in our community a fair deal by bettering his conditions and removing the ills from which he is suffering. Is that an evidence of want of sympathy on the part of the Nationalists for the worker of this country?
What did the Nationalist Government do for the public servant? Let me tell the public servants of the Commonwealth that they need not expect successfully to play one political party against another for the purpose of extracting a larger share of patronage than that enjoyed by any other section of the community, because, if they do, the time will come when the community will ask itself seriously whether the public servant is to be any longer the whitehaired boy of society. The Public Service treated the late Government shamefully. I was in this Parliament when the subject of superannuation was under consideration, and the Government, which has now been rejected by the Public Service, then pledged this country to the expenditure of millions of pounds so that no public servant should be impoverished or uncared for when the time came for him to retire from the service. Then again, in addition to conferring upon the Public Service the benefits of arbitration the Government instituted a child endowment scheme. This party brought down a measure to give child endowment to our civil servants. I voted for that measure, and assisted to pa.ss it. As honorable senators know, that scheme has been a drain upon the resources of the country for the past ten years to the tune of about £250,000. That was because we desired to have a contented Service, which would give of its best, and also recognize its benefactors. Instead, during the last election, public servants broadcast resolution after resolution, openly declaring their intention to jettison their benefactors. I remind them that the spirit of gratitude does not run along such lines. If a good turn is done to any man, if he really is a man, he will harbour goodwill towards his benefactor and reciprocate when the occasion arises.
And what has the Labour party done with regard to old-age pensions? It smashed trade unionism, and it has reduced wages. It seeks to nationalize this, and to nationalize that. What is not nationalized is abolished, and what is not abolished is nationalized. It is much the same thing, because that which is nationalized is, if not abolished, at least brought to a dead end. I suggest that instead of using the term “ nationalized “ the Labour party should substitute that of “ abolished “ for most things, and the world would then know where it stood.
We have been told that the Nationalist party intended to abolish the old-age pension. On the contrary, it gave the highest rate of pension in the world. The Labour Government, under the late Mr. Andrew Fisher, was in power for four years, and did not add a brass farthing to old-age pensions. The Nationalist party, which does not parade its friendship to the poor and the needy, gave three increases in that pension in five years, involving an expenditure of £13,000,000. Yet it is claimed that this party would grind the faces of the poor. Assuredly when Ananias went to death and destruction he was not buried either personally or spiritually. His spirit still lives, and animates many of our opponents to-day. They treat the truth in a scandalous fashion. Actually
Senator Rae and his colleagues would smash arbitration as they said we had smashed unionism and would reduce wages.
SenatorRae. - That is just what the honorable senator would do.
– I am not supposed to reply to interjections, but fortunately everybody knows what Paddy Lynch is, and has been. That is more than can be said of the Labour party. Its followers have their own means of supplementing their incomes, whereas I run a farm in Western Australia and employ labour at top wages, wages far higher than the farm can afford to pay. Honorable senators opposite find it impossible to square example with precept. They are very accommodating when it suits them, but they charge the highest rates. If anybody asked me where the best rate of interest was paid, I would advise him to consult a Labour man. These gems of democracy, while indignantly declaring against the bloated capitalists, draw their own satisfactory dividends. I know of one poor devil of a timber company grinding out dividends for these latter-day saints, which has to bear their opprobrium when the occasion is fitting. They are like the Yankee on the railway station, who sold Bibles at one end and playing cards at the other end. They get it both coming and going. I know of one delightful member of the party, who renders “ The Red Flag “ with great relish. That gentleman has avaried constituency. When he is addressing the “red” section he clears his throat and calls them “ comrades,” telling them how the capitalists are grinding their faces. Herod was charity in comparison. Then he goes down to his farming constituency. Of course, he does not clear his throat there and call the electors “ comrades.” He tones down his voice nicely, and says, “fellow farmers.” Then he goes down to the shipping centre, where he is a big commercial magnate. There he does not clear his voice and address his constituents either as “ comrades “ or “ fellow comrades.” He terms them “ gentlemen,” and indicates when he is signing the dividend warrant for 10 per cent., that he is sorry, that but for Labour legislation that dividend might have been15 or 10 per cent. I say a thousand times, “ Good luck to him.” But I do envy the charming way he has of taking down the electors. I know another gentleman of the latter-day Labour party, who never voted Labour in his life until he voted for himself. Meeting him as a fellow railway passenger on the night of the elections, I fancied that there must have been a death in his family, he appeared to be so concerned; his face was so long. I asked him what he was concerned about, and consoled him, telling him, for heaven’s sake, to cheer up and havea whisky or a cup of tea. I told him that, as far as possible, I would see that his interests were not harmed. He was troubled about the elections.
And what about John Brown, of whom during the recent election we heard more than we have of Captain Cook, who discovered the country? Why was not the game played in this case? Every one knows that the subject has been threshed threadbare ; but it did a discreditable service. I refrain from using a harsher term. The John Brown episode was used throughout the Commonwealth to influence votes, and it did obtain votes by false pretences, through an unmanly repetition of this base allegation against the Bruce-Page Government. During the election campaign it was not possible to get a hearing from the people when one wished to tell them what was stated in the Labour Daily, of Sydney; that the prosecution against John Brown had been withdrawn so that the conference then sitting might have an opportunity of reaching a settlement and getting the mines open. The Labour Daily went further, and said that both sides to the dispute desired the prosecution to be dropped. Both sides included the miners. Nobody else was concerned but the mine-owners and the miners. The Labour Daily was fair enough to declare that both sides desired the withdrawal of the prosecution, as being the only course which Mr. Bruce could pursue if he desired to be regarded as a friend of the miners. Why did not any honorable senator opposite bear witness to that truth? Do they not realize that some time or other the truth may have to he told to save them? Are they incapable of playing the game? Can they not see that, if such conduct took place on an Australian football field, if a person engaged in the game indulged in such foul play, he would very quickly find himself outside the ring fence? But it is different with politics. In most enterprises there are rules of conduct laid dowu. There are rules for the athletic field. There are rules in the business world, which, if a man transgress, his fellows will no longer trade with him. There are rules for the bench, and for the bar; but, in the field of politics no rules can be applied for regulating the conduct of participants. The result is that those engaged in politics who are prepared to leave the demands of truth on one side have the best of the game all the time. That is why we on this side have only to wait for the turn of the tide, for the people to be properly disillusioned, when they will realize that the elaborate promises made by Labour at the elections cannot he fulfilled, and that the charges made for the purpose of lifting Labour representatives into’ place and power are utterly false.We are the victims of those false charges; but the day will come when those who made them may themselves be victims of the same conduct - I will not say in the political field ; but perhaps in private life. There isno reason why a person in public life should not adhere to the demands of truth, justice, honesty and uprightness as other persons do in private life. There is no reason why we should not have some honesty in the public life of the country, as in every other sphere. I ask leave, Mr. President, to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I wish to inform honorable senators that, owing to business coming forward from another place, I expect that I shall have to ask them to sit on Tuesday of next week. I shall confer with the Prime Minister during the adjournment, and inform honorable senators later.
.- Will the Leader of the Government inform honorable senators when we may expect the reprinted tariff schedule, showing the comparison between the old and new duties?
– It is available now.
– Is it the intentionof the Government to bring down the bill dealing with banking and the gold reserve this session, or after Christmas?
– I understand that the bill dealing with the gold reserve is now before another place.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.8 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 November 1929, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1929/19291128_senate_12_122/>.