12th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. W. Kingsmill) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I propose to-day to lay on the table of the Senate the cable messages which passed between the British Government and the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth in relation to the matter mentioned by the right honorable gentleman. ‘
– I ask you, Mr. President, if a copy of “The People’s Patriotic Memorial,” which was presented to the Duke and Duchess of York in Western Australia in 1927, and which, inter alia, records the fact that “ conceived and advocated by him in 1887, Empire Day was publicly originated by an Australian citizen of British birth, lineage and diplomas (Mr. F. Lyon Wise) “ has been filed in the records of the Senate in .accordance with the resolution of the Senate carried on 22nd November last.?
– I have much pleasure in informing the honorable senator that that has been done.
The following papers were presented : -
Assisted Migration to Australia: Copy of Prime Minister’s cablegram to British Government, dated 4th November, 1929, and reply from British Government.
Public Service Act - Sixth Report on the Commonwealth Public Service by the Board of Commissioners, dated 2nd December, 1929.
Income Tax Assessment Act - Twelfth Report of the Commissioner of Taxation, covering the years 1925-26, 1926-27, 1927-28, and 1928-29.
Norfolk Island Act - Ordinance No. 8 of 1929 - Executive Council.
Northern Australia Act - Ordinances of 1929 -
Central Australia -
No. 15- Gaming (No. 2).
No. 16 - Public Service (No. 2).
No. 17 - Testator’s Family Maintenance.
North Australia -
No. 18 - Roads.
No. 19 - Gaming (No. 2).
No. 20- Public Service (No. 2).
No. 21 - Testator’s Family Maintenance.
Scat of Government Acceptance Act and Scat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinance No. 19 of 1929 - Registration of Births. Deaths and Marriages (No. 2).
Utilization of By-Products
– I ask the Leader of the Senate if it is a fact that the Coal Commission now taking evidence in Sydney, in addition to inquiring into the condition of the coal-mining industry in New South Wales, is investigating also the possibility of utilizing by-products of coal, and will the Government see that this subject is thoroughly studied during the recess, after the report of the commission is received?
– As to the first part of the honorable senator’s question, I understand that all aspects of the coal industry are being inquired into by the com mission. Certainly the terms of reference are wide enough to cover the subject mentioned by the honorable senator. As to the second part of his question, it will depend upon the nature of the report and the policy of the Government.
– Will the Government, during the recess, have a thorough investigation made into the possibility of utilizing the by-products of coal and cane sugar for the manufacture of power alcohol to be used in combination with petrol ?
– The Government has given very serious consideration to the subject, and it has authorized Dr. Rivet, the Director of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research who will be visiting Great Britain, to visit Germany to make the necessary investigations after he has attended the entomological conference to be held in London at an early date.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate whether, in view of the fact that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Fenton) is about to leave for London to attend the Naval Conference, the Government will instruct him to emphasize the importance of the Singapore Naval Base as a factor in the safety of this country?
– The Government will give to the Minister for Trade and Customs, all the instructions which it deems to be necessary.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Is the Government in possession of the necessary information to enable it to make an announcement regarding the establishing of an airplane service between the mainland and Tasmania?
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question : -
The question of establishing the service referred to by the honorable senator has had the earnest attention of the Defence Department, but it has not yet been found possible to allocate funds for a regular and efficient service with aircraft suitable for the work.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and a reply will be furnished to the honorable senator as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question : - 1, 2 and 3. Information on these points will be furnished when the tariff schedule is under discussion.
– On the llth December, Senator E. B. Johnston . asked the following question : -
What rentals are the various departments and Government instrumentalities, including the Federal Capital Commission, paying for premises occupied by them respectively in Canberra ?
I have ascertained from the Minister for Works that the rentals being paid for the accommodation of Commonwealth departments in leased premises situated at Canberra are as shown on the attached schedules : -
The rentals paid by the Commission for properties occupied in the capital are as follow: -
City Cafe - £48 1 5s. per calendar month: £585 per annum.
Kingston Cafe - £436s. 8d. per calendar month; £520 per annum.
The Commission rents window space in this latter cafe at 12s.6d. per week, i.e., £32 10s. per annum, therefore the net outlay by the Commission is £488 per annum. The Commission also leases portion 177,Uriarra, from the New South Wales Government at £1 per annum.
Statement by Senator Reid.
– A few days ago I made certain references in this chamber to the public career in Queensland of Mr. E. G. Theodore, the Treasurer. The charges which I then made were challenged by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Daly). Since then another long statement has been made, a report of which I hold, and in reply now, I shall be as brief as possible. At the outset I should explain that I was one of the founders of tha Labour movement in Queensland, and, like many others who were identified with it in its early days, I suffered a good deal : I was a member of the political executive from the inception of the party and for a number of years I was its chairman. In the course of time when I left the party of my own free will, I parted the best of friends with my colleagues in the movement. Some of them have been my life long friends. During the time that we were associated we rendered good service to the movement in that State. The work which we performed voluntarily called for a great deal of self denial, because Labour then had command of very little money, and if I were to tell honorable senators upon what slender resources we fought State and Federal elections they would be astonished. Because of my active association with the movement, I was thoroughly conversant with the avenues from which it obtained money to carry on. In 1915, the early closing of hotels was a burning question throughout Queensland. The Denham Government practically promised to introduce early closing, Queensland at that time being the only State where hotels were allowed to trade after 6 o’clock, and there was an agitation in favour of early closing. As the election campaign proceeded, a good deal was heard about the attitude of the licensed victuallers, and it was common talk that they were behind the Labour party. The party was hard up for money, as it always had been, but during the campaign it splashed money all over the place. It had its paid agents going about all the time. I knew some of them personally, and, as I wasmeeting them almost daily, I asked them where the money was coming from. Some said they did not know.
– What has all this to do with Mr. Theodore?
– I shall tell the honorable senator presently.
– I rise to a point of order. Senator Reid obtained leave to make a statement, as I understood, in connexion with certain charges which he had made against a member of another place. I do not think the honorable senatorshould abuse the privileges of the Senate by making an attack directly or by innuendoes on a political party that is not connected with thepresent controversy.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council has not raised a point of order. I hope, however, that Senator Reid will adhere strictly to the unsolicited promise which he made at the outset of his remarks and be as brief as possible. I may add that I very much’ regret that this Chamber should be made the battleground of a controversy of this kind. I had intended to say this at the close of the honorable gentleman’s remarks. What I propose to say now is that I do not consider the Senate the proper place to ventilate this matter. May I suggest to the parties that it might be made an interesting, if not an agreeable subject of correspondence between them, if necessary, in the press? I certainly object to the Senate being made the vehicle for a discussion of this nature.
– May I ask you, Mr. President, a question.
– I should prefer the honorable senator to defer his question until the termination of Senator Reid’? remarks. I do not wish the continuity of the honorable senator’s statement to be interrupted unnecessarily.
– During the 1915 elections one of. the vital questions before the electors was the closing of hotels at 6 o’clock. As I have said, a good deal of money appeared to be in the hands of the Labour party which hitherto had not any. I made inquiries as to its source from members of the executive whom I had known for a number of years, and who knew that I was aware of the fact that the party did not possess any funds. I probed the matter before several of them, and they informed me definitely and distinctly that the executive had appointed a small committee - you may term it a campaign or finance committee or whatever you like - consisting of Mr. Theodore, Mr. Fihelly, Mr. McCormack and the late Mr. Ryan, who. was then the Leader of the party in Queensland. In fairness to the late Mr. Ryan, I should say that at the time he was away campaigning and had very little to do with this matter, but the other three, whose names I have mentioned, were concerned. I wish to make it quite clear that the members of the executive were not involved. They did not know anything about the source from which the money was supplied, but finally I obtained the information from one who did know, and whose word I have not the slightest hesitation in accepting. I had known this man for many years, and he told me that this small committee had received the sum of £10,000 from the licensed victuallers, and that the balance remaining unexpended after the elections was never handed back to the executive. The Labour movement, as a movement, did not have anything to do with it. I am not making any accusation against the executive of the Labour party as a whole, but am referring to a small section that received money during the election campaign. At the time of which I am speaking, there was nothing to show that the money had been returned to the funds of the party, nor to whom it was given to help.
– This was after the honorable senator had left the executive.
– I had this information from men whom I can trust. One of them was a very old friend of mine, Mr. Dave Bowman, who is known to Senator Rae. He afterwards became a member of the Government formed by the late Mr. Ryan, of which Mr. Theodore was also a member. It was Mr. Dave Bowman who told me of what was going on, and it was, of course, quite contrary to his wishes. Later this matter became known. Mr. Bowman was a member of the cabinet, and some of those who had received the money laid a trap for him, and endeavoured to keep him out of the Ministry.
– Order! I remind the honorable senator that he is going a little further than a personal explanation.
– I merely wish to say that the information I received came from friends whose word I have no reason to doubt, and proof of my assertion is that although the movement had no money of its own, funds were available for this campaign. Although the great body of the people were in favour of 6 o’clock closing, effect was not given to their wishes until six years afterwards. That suggests that the licensed victuallers had a hand in delaying the carrying into effect of a policy which the people of Queensland were determined should be carried out.
– Hotels in Queensland do not close at 6 o’clock.
– No, the closing hour is 9 p.m. I should not have introduced this matter during the debate of the
Address-in-reply, had not the Minister (Senator Daly) stated in the course of it that the Labour party had never received anything from combines or similar organisations.
– I repeat it, and I challenge the honorable senator to repeat his statement outside. He is not game to do that.
– Although I had practically forgotten the incident the Minister’s remarks recalled to my mind what had occurred. I have not the slightestreason to doubt the information supplied to me by men with whom I have had a long association. I cannot withdraw one word of what I have said.
– Why not say it outside?
– Credence is given to the incident by the fact that Mr. Theodore has been mixed up with other shady transactions-
– Order ! The honorable senator is going too far.
– I was only endeavouring to prove my statement, and to give reasons why I cannot accept Mr. Theodore’s word, although it is painful for me to have to make such an admission concerning any public man. I made the statement on information given to me by personal friends of long standing whose word I have no reason to doubt, and whose authority should be sufficient to confirm what I have said. At a Labour convention in Sydney Mr. Theodore denied owning shares-
– Order !
– I do not wish to disregard your ruling, Mr. President, but I shall avail myself of some other opportunity to deal with this matter. In conclusion I should like to say that Mr. Theodore has made a violent attack upon me and has asked me to produce evidence. I have produced the evidence given to me by persons the name of one of whom I have actually mentioned. To accept the statement of Mr. Theodore, would be to make it appear that my friends are untruthful. I know them too long and too well to be prepared to accept Mr. Theodore’s word against theirs. I still hold the opinion that I have always entertained concerning this matter, notwithstanding Mr. Theodore’s denial. I thank the Senate for giving me this opportunity to make a personal explanation. I should like to say more, but by ruling of the Chair I am precluded from doing so now.
– The honorable senator sought the permission of the Senate to make a personal explanation. I cannot permit him to debate the matter.
– I should like to know, sir, if, at this stage, you will permit me to ask a question?
– I do not think that I am justified in permitting the honorable senator to ask a question at this stage, but in the special circumstances, I shall allow him to do so.
– In view of the Standing Orders which prevent an honorable senator quoting from Hansard reports of the debates in another place during the current session, I should like to know whether it is fair that the statements made by Senator Reid against Mr. Theodore should be placed on record while other honorable senators have no opportunity to make an effective reply by quoting Mr. Theodore’s remarks in another place yesterday.
– The honorable senator should have raised a point of order when Senator Reid was speaking. Did Senator Reid quote from Hansard? I have no evidence that he did.
– When Senator Dunn was speaking yesterday, he was precluded, under our Standing Orders, from quoting from Hansard of the current session the statement made by Mr. Theodore.
- Senator Dunn was good enough to inform me that he proposed to quote from a Hansard report of a debate in another place during the current session. Senator Reid, in discussing this matter, mentioned a statement made in another place, but so far as I am aware, did not quote from a speech delivered in another place during this session.
– Earlier in this discussion you, sir, suggested that the controversy between Mr. Theodore and Senator Reid could be continued in the public press, and might make interesting reading. I suggest that the discussion be continued at the Cotter dam, where Mr. Theodore would have an opportunity to drown Senator Reid.
– Order! It is distinctly out of order to make sarcastic, derisive or frivolous suggestions.
– I desire to make a personal explanation concerning an interjection I. made yesterday when the Minister (Senator Daly) was referring to the Arbitration (Public Service) Bill introduced by the Bruce-Page Government. It was to the effect that the Public Servants had robbed the taxpayers. As that interjection might be misconstrued, I should like to explain that the matter to which I referred was in connexion with the travelling allowances paid to postal linesmen who, during a period of nine months, had been paid, under an award of the Public Service Arbitrator, a travelling allowance of £4 4s., and which, at the end of nine months or so after the case had been re-heard, was reduced to 35s. a week. A sum of £80,000 represented the difference between an allowance of £4 4s. and 35s. a week. Of course these men were entitled to draw the extra money payable under the award, but it was quite clear that the decision of the Arbitrator was due to the fact that he had been misled by the evidence put before him in the first place.
– The honorable senator is now debating the matter. He should confine himself to a personal explanation.
– I rise to order. If Senator H. E. Elliott desires to inform the Senate that he did not mean that the Public Servants had robbed the taxpayers, I suggest that he should say so. That would be a sufficient explanation. There is no need to debate the matter.
– In making a personal explanation the honorable senator is in order in modifying, denying or explaining a statement previously made. Such an explanation, however, must not be lengthy or one in which new matter is introduced.
– I desire it to be understood that I used the word “ robbed “ in a colloquial sense, and was not, of course, charging Commonwealth Public Servants with criminal action.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and sessional orders suspended and bill (on motion by Senator Daly) read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill proposes to amend the Iron and Steel Products Bounty Act 1922-27, amendment being confined to clause 2. The schedule to the principal act is to be amended to make the bounty on galvanized sheets £4 10s. per ton instead of £3 12s. per ton. In dealing with this bill, the Senate must consider whether the industry is of such national importance as to justify its being protected; and, if so, what form that protection should take. Prior to the establishment in Australia of the galvanized iron manufacturing industry by Lysaghts Ltd., practically the whole of the galvanized iron used in Australia was imported from England, the Australian premises of Lysaghts Limited being really a clearing house for the British product. A previous Commonwealth Government prevailed upon the directorate of that company to establish the galvanized iron making industry in Australia.
– When was that?
– That was in 1920. when Mr. Hughes was Prime Minister. Realizing that this is an Australian industry which employs Australian workmen and uses Australian raw material, Parliament, on the recommendation of the Tariff Board, has given it a measure of protection. The present duty on galvanized iron is 20s. per ton British preferential, 55s. per ton intermediate, and 60s. per ton general. There is also a bounty of £3 12s. per ton on galvanized iron manufactured in Australia. In 1926 the Tariff Board recommended a bounty of £4 10s. per ton to operate with the existing duty of 20s. per ton. There is also a deferred duty of £5 10s. per ton
British preferential and £7 10s. per ton general. Great Britain is the only country which supplies any appreciable quantity of galvanized iron to Australia. The importations from Britain are valued at about £2,250,000 per annum. On a number of occasions the local manufacturers have asked that the deferred duty of £5 10s. per ton be made operative. After inquiry, the Tariff Board decided that if the deferred duty were to operate, a very heavy burden would be placed upon the consumer, and that it would be better to retain the then existing duties and grant a bounty on the production of iron in Australia, so that the burden would fall on the general taxpayers of the country.
– Let the two run together ?
– Not necessarily. As Senator Lynch can visualize the wide open spaces of Australia carrying a large population, so we on this side look forward to the time when our secondary industries will employ many more thousands of workers. The deferred duty was not embodied in the tariff schedule recently introduced, for it was felt that the time had not yet arrived when we could say that the tariff wall was a sufficient protection without creating a state of affairs which would make the price of galvanized iron almost prohibitive and would result in further unemployment in Australia. If the deferred duty of £5 10s. per ton were made operative, the bounty of £3 12s. per ton would, of course, cease. But that would mean the introduction of an amended tariff schedule. As, however, manufacturers have doubtless taken into account the amount of the bounty when calculating their selling price, it is practically certain that if the bounty were withdrawn and the duty increased, the price of galvanized iron in Australia would increase by at least £3 12s. per ton. The galvanized iron manufacturing plant at Newcastle is capable of producing between 25,000 tons and 30,000 tons of galvanized iron per annum, whereas between 120,000 tons and 130,000 tons of the material are used in Australia each year. The present production represents only about half the requirements of New South Wales.
– What is the actual production?
– Last year the firm produced 28,000 tons of galvanized iron. To increase the duty would be to levy a much greater burden on the whole of Australia than would have to be borne if the bounty were increased by 18s. per ton as asked for by the industry and recommended by the Tariff Board.
– What is the present duty?
– It is 20s. per ton British preferential tariff. The industry has asked that the duty be increased to £5 10s. per ton, but, as honorable senatorswill see, the imposition of that higher duty would impose too heavy a burden on the building trade in Australia, seeing that the Australian factory cannot supply the whole of our requirements. The company has spent over £500,000 at Newcastle, and plans are now in progress to extend the mill to enable it to produce 60,000 tons per annum by the end of 1930. Even that will be only about one half of Australia’s present requirements. It will be seen that this company has not merely collected the bounty and, as it were, rested on its oars. A further programme of extension is also contemplated to enable the Australian factory to supply the galvanized iron which is now imported from Britain. Those importations represent between 75 per cent. and 80 per cent. of our requirements. Since the bounty came into operation in 1923, the company has produced 139,628 tons of galvanized iron. In the first year of production, 16,000 tons of iron were produced, increasing to over 28,000 tons in 1928-29. The total paid to the company by way of bounty to the 4th December, 1929, was £404,816. It has been calculated that by increasing the bounty from £3 12s. to £4 10s. per ton from the 1st January, 1930, the date mentioned in the bill, the additional expenditure for this financial year will be about £9,000. I point out that, in order to qualify for the bounty, the Australian manufacturers, must use Australian materials and pay the wages set out in awards of the Federal Arbitration Court. There is, therefore, a guarantee that the industry in Tasmania, which supplies part of the materials used, will be assisted, and that the Australian standard of living will be maintained.
– What about the price to the consumer?
– That will depend upon a number of considerations; but even in that direction some protection is afforded. Legislation already passed provides that the profits must not exceed 15 per cent. The company has not taken advantage of the assistance granted to it to pay huge dividends to shareholders, for since this Parliament afforded the industry its protection the company has paid only one dividend of 5 per cent.
– Has it not increased its assets in the meantime.?
– That is what any company which is given the assistance of a bounty ought to do. I emphasize the desirability of increasing the bounty rather than imposing a higher duty.
– The company is both a manufacturer and an importer.
– Yes. Australia’s requirements over and above the capacity of the Australian plant are imported from the parent company in Great Britain. Nevertheless, the Tariff Board is convinced that the Australian company is making an honest attempt to establish the industry in Australia with the object of supplying the whole of Australia’s requirements.
– How many men did the company employ last year?
– It might assist the Senate if I were to give the figures for each year since 1923-1924. I have here a statement setting out the number of employees, the annual production, and the amount of bounty paid : -
I understand that the Tariff Board’s report has already been made available to honorable senators. I commend the bill to the Senate, and trust that honorable senators will see the wisdom of increasing the bounty as the best means of assisting this Australian industry.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [12.45]. - I view this proposal with grave misgiving. In an endeavour to get our secondary industries on a sound basis, we are sponsoring a policy of bounties and high protective duties. I believe that more effective help could be given to those industries by the employment of other methods. Statistics disclose that there has been a steady improvement in the galvanized iron industry of Australia. During the last four years the importations were as follows: -
The importations decreased by 20,000 tons in the last twelve months, which is equivalent to a reduction of 20 per cent. The particulars of local manufacture are -
or an increase of 10,000 tons since 1925-26.
– I should also have mentioned that since 1926 the Australian price fixed by Lysaghts has dropped from £29 to £24 10s. a ton, so that our consumers have reaped a considerable advantage.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Those figures indicate that the industry has made appreciable progress. It employs approximately 500 men, and it is now proposed to pay to it a bounty of £135,000, which “is equal to £270 per employee in the industry.
-I remind the honorable senator of the Tasmanian industry. They have to pay Australian prices for their raw material.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Honorable senators should seriously consider the proposal. It is extraordinary that we should be asked to pay such a bounty, which must come out of the pockets of the taxpayers, to an industry that has made excellent progress. That proposal should make us pause. What is preventing this industry from capturing the entire local market? I consider that we should relieve it of some of its burdens. It is suffering, primarily, from the excessive price charged for coal. The industry must consume great quantities of coal or coke. It is situated in our principal coalfield, Newcastle, yet it has to pay from 5s. to 6s. a ton more for coal than it would pay if it purchased that commodity overseas. I recall to the minds of honorable senators the undertaking of the Broken Hill Proprietary Steel Works, that if the price of coal were reduced by 5s. a ton it would employ an additional 600 men. That is the best kind of bounty that we can confer on any industry. What is the use of handicapping an industry on the . one hand and endeavouring to remove the handicap on the other. It has been pointed out that the sale of Lysaghts’ products is practically confined to the State of New South Wales. Yet the whole of the taxpayers of Australia are asked to subsidize an industry that cannot produce a ton of its product capable of competing with the outside market.
– The Nationalist Government spent nearly £500,000 in assisting the industry.
– I admit that it did, but I am now free to speak as an individual member on the subject. The great drawback is the operation of the coastal clauses of our Navigation Act. It is a fact that it would cost more in freight to ship a ton of galvanised iron from New South Wales to Western Australia, than it’ would to send a similar quantity of the same material from England to that State. That is one of the greatest hindrances to the industry. To give a monopoly to Australian shipping we have brought about an inordinate increase in freight rates on the Australian coastline, with the result that the Australian market is denied the advantages which should accrue from the establishment of such an industry as Lysaghts.
– The honorable senator piloted the Navigation Bill through the Senate.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.If the price of coal were brought down by 5s. a ton, which would still leave an adequate charge, the galvanised iron manufacturing industry would have a tremendous load lifted from its shoulders. If in addition the maritime industries of Australia were placed on the same basis as all other industries - and that is what the late Government was leading up to - this industry would be enabled to send its products to other states on a competitive basis. I believe that we are going the wrong way about assisting the industry. I cannot altogether blame the present Government; it is merely perpetuating the mistakes of past governments to some of which I belonged. We should inaugurate a new policy and endeavour to lighten the burden on the shoulders of the industry, so giving it greater buoyancy. At present we are merely loading it down at one end and endeavouring to prop it up at the other.
– I am amazed at the statement emanating from the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Sir George Pearce) in relation to one of our finest secondary industries. The time has come when there should be a showdown in regard to the development of both our primary and secondary industries. Such representative men as Mr. Sievers, the president of the New South Wales Chamber of Manufactures, and others, declare unequivocally that the introduction of the new Tariff Schedule by this Government will enable Australian manufacturers to effect a re-organization of their industries, which will give employment to 100,000 unfortunates who are at present walking our streets, as a result of the maladministration of Nationalist Governments. Senator Pearce would force our splendid galvanised iron industry to go into the open markets of the world against competitors in the black country of Great Britain, the Ruhr Valley, Germany, and elsewhere. T cannot understand his desire to imperil this splendid Australian industry.
The Leader of the Opposition also dealt with the price of coal. That is determined not by the workers engaged in the industry, but by a small coterie of colliery proprietors who specify what the rates shall be. It is a case of continuously milking the cow to their great advantage.
– The cow appears to be going dry.
– You are dry all the time.
– Order ! I have already pointed out to the honorable senator that all interjections are disorderly. I add that they are more particularly disorderly when directed personally to an honorable senator. If the honorable senator would restrain himself in his use of the second personal pronoun, he would not cause such a lot of trouble.
– A Royal Commission has been investigating the affairs of the coal industry for some time, but it has been unable to induce the coal owners to adopt a frank attitude and produce their account books, in order that a correct estimate of their profits may be formed.
Senator Pearce dealt with the operation of the coastal clauses of the Navigation Act. As Senator Rae aptly interjected, that measure was piloted through this Senate by Senator Pearce himself. Now that the honorable senator is the responsible Leader of His Majesty’s Opposition in this chamber, he desires a repeal of the legislation that he sponsored. He wishes to expose an Australian industry, conforming to Australian conditions and paying the rates of wages stipulated by our Arbitration Court, to the competition of those situated in countries where the standard of living is deplorably low. He would have our shipping companies compete with the P. & 0. Company Ltd., which employs black labour.
The party associated with Senator Pearce has often declared its adherence to the White Australia policy, yet the right honorable senator would repeal the Navigation Act and allow an Australian product manufactured by good. Australian trade unionists enjoying Australian conditions of work, and the Australian standard of living, to be carried on vessels manned by coolie labour. There is nothing to fear in regard to the industry to which this bounty is to be paid and I am pleased that the Government has the courage to stand by the secondary industries of Australia.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH (Wes know how it happens that in this very brief session, so brief that we are compelled to pass short emergency measures upon important matters of public policy that need to be dealt with as speedily as they can, time is found to make an additional present to just this one industry. Senator Dunn speaks of it as one which is of special importance because it has established itself. I deny that it has established itself. So far as it has gone in that direction, its progress is entirely due to gifts made to it at the expense of other industries, and that being so, I see no need for increasing the annual present. When a present is made to an industry is it not worth while asking ourselves who pays it, and whether it is just or wise that the people who do pay it should be compelled to do so? It is quite obvious that a present cannot be given to any person or industry unless it is provided by someone. It is very easy to discover who contributes this particular present. There was a time when in the cities of Australia galvanized iron was largely used for roofing purposes, but that time has gone; tiles and other roofing articles have taken the place of galvanized iron in the cities. It is not, therefore, in the largest extent, the city dweller who makes this contribution. It is the man in the country, the farmer, the miner, or any person engaged in primary production. Senator Dunn has talked about the “ Australian standard of living “ and “ good trade unionists.” Are the trade unionists in this particular industry any better than the good trade unionists working in the gold mines of Kalgoorlie? Is the honorable senator not aware that the latter have to work under harder conditions and for lower wages than are prescribed for the workers in the galvanized iron industry to whom they have to contribute presents? Is he not aware that the workers in country districts, mostly good trade unionists, are obliged to work longer hours and for lower wages than they ought to be receiving in order that money may be taken out of their pockets to make presents to people engaged in another industry? After all is said and done, it is the working man who pays; it is not in a general way the employer. We have a very strong indication, in this measure, that when a start ia made in giving presents to an industry it does not lead to the building up of a self-reliant industry. As a matter of fact, its self reliance is knocked out of it. An industry that is built up in this way. will keep coming to Parliament asking for more and more. Here we have one whose demand is apparently so insistent that even in this short session it is heard above the demands of the great industries of Australia whose position to-day is indeed perilous, and at whose expense this present is to bc made. There is no justice in that. It is a caricature of justice to compel employers and employees in suffering industries that are being developed without assistance and in the face of enormous difficulties to make gifts to urban industries in which both employers and employees fare much better than people in country areas. There is no suggestion that the users of. galvanized iron, the farmers and the miners, should be guaranteed a profit of 15 per cent. They do not make it ; they have very little opportunity to make it; their profits are dwindling and dwindling very rapidly. It is not only unjust to pay these bounties at the expense of those engaged in primary industries ; it is also unwise to do so. Every additional man placed in employment bv reason of subsidies provided for favoured industries, at the expense of others, means that two men are cast out of employment because of the intolerable burden placed on the industries that have to provide the money.
– This bill is only another example of the effort that has been continued for a long time in Australia to secure a big lump of public patronage for an industry which, we are told, is not in a good way and that is likely to fall on evil days or come to an untimely end if assistance is not given to it. We have heard these stories before in this Parliament, While I am not impugning in the slightest the story told about this particular industry, I am perfectly sure that this Parliament has, in the past, been told stories as to the conditions of particular industries which were entirely incorrect but succeeded in getting for them a big lump of protection, and en couragement far beyond that given to other industries. I was living at Lithgow some twenty odd years ago, when galvanized iron was being manufactured there. I cannot, for the moment, recollect the amount of protection it got, but it would appear that it must have had some, otherwise the industry would not have been established there. Mr. Sandford was then in control of the works. They subsequently came under the control of Mr. Hoskins, and he came to this Parliament and presented repeated claims for a stiff protective duty for his industry, which he led Parliament to believe was in a very bad condition. I well remember him appearing before successive commissions asking foi a rate of duty on every particular com modity he produced from the time the iron left the bloom until it assumed one of the manifold forms of manufacture. There was not a single classification of manufacture on which he did not ask for a duty, and he generally got it. Every one knows that he died a millionaire. I stood on the top. of the Commonwealth Bank building in Sydney one winter’s morning and there was a big building almost like a Mohammedan mosque standing up out of the mist, almost blotting out the landscape. I was told that it belonged to
– The Hoskins firm is nowbuilding works at Port. Kembla.
– Good luck to them. But what about the other fellows, upon whose wares this firm has levied such a heavy toll, by the aid of this Parliament f We have heard a lot of talk about the late
As for the bill itself, I should be loth to turn 500 men out of work if I felt that the mere trifle of £5,000 would prevent it, but the time has come when we should be very slow to believe all these stories we are told, and should jealously guard the interests of those people referred to by Senator Colebatch, the people who have to pay the piper, but who unfortunately have hitherto received very little consideration at our hands. Are we always to be giving benefits to those who line their pockets and become inordinately rich in a very short space of time at the expense of others? In 1913, Australia’s primary production sold on the markets of the world was valued at £72,000,000. By 1927, it had increased to £S7,000,000, an increase of 20 per cent., notwithstanding all the handicaps imposed on all our primary industries. But what has secondary industry done in the same period? In 1913, the products of our secondary industries sold outside Australia were valued at £2,300,000. In 1927, the value of the exported output of our secondary industries had fallen to £2,100,000, a decrease of 6 per cent, in fourteen years. Do those figures indicate that the people engaged in secondary production are standing up to their job? Why are they not imitating Canada ?
– Has not Canada a protective policy?
– Yes, but its tariff is lower than ours, and the Canadian worker is not always snarling at his employer, or looking at him with a jealous eye. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) put his finger on one of the vital causes of the present unwholesome and unhealthy condition of our industrial and economic life. The price of coal is the governing factor iu industry. Coal at n reasonable price is vital to all our industrial activities. Senator Dunn, I notice, is absent from the chamber; but doubtless there are others on his side who try to reason away economic facts, and declare that industry is languishing, because, so they say, the coal-mine owners in New South Wales are extracting inordinate profits from the industry. If that is so, why do not these industrial wizards apply the remedy? It is to their hand. If they want advice I will give it to them, and not charge for it. Some time ago I put a question on the notice-paper of the Senate relating to the coal position in New South Wales, and I was informed that scientific research had disclosed that with 1,000 square miles of the known coal-bearing area in that State, the estimated deposits of coal were something in the neighbourhood of 20,000,000,000 tons. In other words, the available coal at the present rate of consumption was enough to carry on Australian industries for the next 2,000 years. But that is by no means the whole of the story. I was further informed that there is a further area of 15,000 square miles in which, the potential coal deposits have not been surveyed. This Government proposes to save £150,000 by a cut in the defence vote. Very well. I can suggest a profitable avenue for the employment of that sum. Let the Government put it into a coal-mine and test its theories. Any consulting engineer in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth or any other capital city will supply the Ministry with reliable information about the cost of opening up a coal-mine in New South Wales. The Government could start producing governmentowned coal to-morrow morning, so to speak. Let these Labour Ministers show the people of Australia what they can do. We have heard altogether too much about coal-mine owners’ profits and exploitation of employees.
– Would the honorable senator vote for a bill of that nature?
– Then it shall be done.
—If the Government were really in earnest about this coal- mining problem it could wipe out John Brown or any other coal-mine owner almost in a twinkling of an eye. Let us hear no more of these yarns about John Brown. Labour members and industrial leaders remind me of the mechanical doll which, if pressed on the chest, says, “ Mamma,” and if pressed harder says “ Papa.” Press these latter-day Labour men on the stomach hard enough, and all you will get from them by way of exclamation is “ John Brown ! John Brown !” Now they have an opportunity to test their theory. Let them get moving and persuade this Ministry to start a government coal-mine to show the world what they can do.
The Government is asking the .Senate to agree to the payment of a bounty. Of course, the Senate will pass it. I suppose £9,000 is not very much. It is, however, a lot to some people. If the Government, is looking for, a remedy for our industrial ills, I can offer it free of charge. The Leader of the Senate has promised to bring in a bill to establish a Commonwealth coal mine to produce cheap coal for Australian industries. Let him do that. He will have my support, even if I have to get up in the middle of the night and walk barefooted over a heap of broken bottles to vote for the bill. But I am opposed to this proposal, because it is not the real remedy for our constantly recurring industrial troubles.
We do not hear these industrial leaders saying a word or two occasionally for our wheat-growers - fellow Australians who have to earn their living by much sweat, and live, so many of them, in lean-to shanties. Nor do we hear of them working to better the conditions of the women fo’lk of our pioneer producers; those women who stand so loyally by their mates and help them to produce from what so often proves to be little better than a barren wilderness. What bounties do they get from the Commonwealth Government? None at all. They have to labour under extraordinary hardships, and market their products overseas in competition with cheap labour countries, which are nearer to the world’s markets than we are. There is no 44-hour week for them. Their lot is vastly different from that of their fellow workers in our industrial centres. This bounty cannot be drawn from the vasty deep. This Government cannot strike a rock and draw from it a golden stream of wealth. The only way this sum can be produced is by taxation of the people of the Commonwealth, including our pioneer settlers, who have to earn their living under such terrible handicaps. This is not fair play, as I understand it. It may be the modern idea of fair play, but I shall never stand for that, and I shall never cease to condemn, and reprobate it, because it means the placing of an unfair burden on one section and that, by the way, the poorer section of our people. Why should we hobble ourselves in this way?
Unfortunately so many of these secondary industries have a habit of not growing up. For years we have heard the plea that these infantile secondary industries must be helped by means of tariff duties or bounties. We heard this cry more than twenty years ago, and we hear it to-day. How long must we continue to maintain industries which never seem to cast off their swaddling clothes ? It is time we asked them to stand on their own feet. That is the manly way and, indeed, the only way to real prosperity. Does any one suggest that it is fair to.be for ever coddling certain of our secondary industries, and at the same time neglecting the just claims of those pioneer settlers who are endeavouring to wrest a living from hostile nature in remote parts of the Commonwealth? This is not fair play. The time has come when these people should be told to stand up to their jobs. There should be more of that pioneer spirit that has inspired our land workers to produce £87,000,000 worth of exportable products upon which the solvency of the Commonwealth depends. Our primary industries, perhaps because they have not been coddled overmuch, have progressed whilst so many of our secondary industries have been dwindling.
I do not blame this Government for the introduction of this bill, but I do lay some blame upon the industrial leaders, who are the supporters of this Government, because they are not manly enough to search for the root causes of our industrial trouble. . They prefer to remain silent ; they know that if they spoke the truth they would lose votes. If Senator Rae were managing a fish shop to-morrow and if, among his employees, there was one man who was full of discontent and was engaged continuously in stirring up trouble among his fellow employees, would Senator Rae be able to make his fish shop pay? Of course not. Failure would be inevitable. Now that has peen the position in Australia for many years past. Although the Nationalist Government was nominally in charge of the affairs of this country for some years, it was powerless to control the industrial situation, and just as Senator Rae would be unable to make his fish shop pay whilst one of his employees acted the part of a disturber of the peace, so also was the Nationalist administration impotent without the loyal co-operation of industrial leaders to give this country a push along the road to prosperity.
I am not, and never have been, satisfied with this state of affairs. I have always protested against one section of the Australian people being the beasts of burden for the other and more fortunate section, and I intend to oppose this measure because it is not a remedy for the industrial evils from which the Commonwealth is suffering.
– Invariably when a bill of this nature is before us we are obliged to listen to observations about the relative merits of free trade and protection. I am afraid that the majority of honorable, senators are geographical free traders. I intend to support the bill because I believe that it is a step in the right direction. I have before me a statement prepared in August of last year by the managing director of Lysaghts, giving certain details which I feel sure will be of interest to honorable senators. When the firm in question commenced the manufacture of galvanized iron in Newcastle in 1920, the price of the manufactured article was between £25 and £40 per ton. Since then the price has been receding, and the industry is now in need of financial asistance. One reason why the bill should be supported is that the whole of the raw material is either manufactured or produced in the Commonwealth. I am advised that the duplication of the present plant will mean the employment of an additional 400 or 500 men, the use of an additional 35,000 tons of steel, an additional 5,000 tons of Tasmanian zinc, and an additional 200,000 tons of coal as well as a large number of fire bricks, large quantities of sulphuric acid, and a greatly increased demand for electric power. I also remind honorable senators that the large number of people employed in the industry must wear clothes and that they will provide an enlarged market for Australian commodities. The payment of this bounty will mean a larger field for employment of our people, and such are the ramifications of industry that we are all more or less living upon one another. I do not wish to discuss the measure at length. A definite promise of assistance was given to Lysaghts in 1920 by the then Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) and later by the late Mr. Pratten, and the Tariff Board reported favorably on the request for the bounty.
– I cannot allow the bill to pass without entering my protest. We have heard a good deal about the position of the Senate as the States house, and I propose to consider, this measure from the point of view of Western- Australia. I am not a free trader. If this were the first application for a bounty I should view the bill in an entirely different light. If, with the assistance of a duty on imported iron and the bounty that has been paid hitherto, these people cannot produce on a competitive basis, then God help every other industry in the Commonwealth. Under our present uneconomic policy industries have been loaded to such an extent that it is impossible for them to carry on without being spoon-fed from the public purse. The iron and steel industry has already received from the Commonwealth Government over £400,000 by way of bounties, and I contend that any industry that has received that amount should be well satisfied. Senator Colebatch correctly stated that comparatively little galvanised iron is used in the cities, and that the major portion of that produced in Australia is’ utilized in industries which are providing our exportable surplus of primary products. It is all very well for the Government to continue the payment of bounties to such an industry as this, but the time will come when there will be nothing left to give, and when we shall expect something in return. I cannot see any justification for more than is at present being paid. It has been mentioned that the increased bounty is equivalent to 18s. a ton, and that . the industry will be able to increase its output from 30,000 to 60,000 tons a year. The increased expenditure for the remainder of the present financial year will be £9,000, and it is against that expenditure that I am protesting.
I was glad to hear the Minister admit that the payment of a duty instead of a bounty would be a burden on the whole of the people, because we have often heard the protectionist element in this chamber, and another place, as well as those outside contending that high duties reduce the burden on the people, and result in cheaper production. That is a theory to which I cannot subscribe.
According to a report of the Tariff Board, Western Australia, in her present state of development, is bearing a very heavy burden in consequence of the high duties imposed on agricultural implements, as well as other commodities, such as fencing wire, wire netting, and galvanized iron. The Western Australian people are unable to use Australian galvanized iron. Whatever they contribute towards this bounty comes out of the general revenue, and they do not get any return at all. Yon, sir, as an authority on timbers and their by-products, know of the mistletoe that develops on growing timbers. I have come to the conclusion that industries such as the one under discussion, are as the mistletoe; they are living on the Commonwealth, and are sucking the life blood out of it.
.- I am not one of those who believe that any particular fiscal policy is, in itself, so much a matter of principle as an expedient according to the time and circumstances. Neither am I partiicularly concerned about the very amusing tirade of my one-time colleague, Senator Lynch, who stigmatized this measure as undue interference with industry. I should like to say a word or two concerning what the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) said against the further fostering of this industry, the price of coal, and the operation of the Navigation Act. Briefly referring to the last-mentioned subject, I may say that I was a member of this chamber when the present Leader of the Opposition was piloting the Navigation Bill through the Senate. That measure was not the product of one government. After its introduction it was several years before it was finally passed by Parliament. Senator Pearce then professed to be strongly in favour of the principle he was advocating, and I do not know why he now should be so bitterly opposed to ii.
– Experience shows what an evil monopoly it has been.
– It is peculiar how experience changes one’s opinions. I am not one of those who believe that one is bound to hold the same opinion all through life; but how is it that as a distinguished member of the_ previous Government, the right honorable gentleman took an active part in passing measures providing for payment of bounties on dried fruits, wool tops, wine and other products?
– The Bruce-Page Government notified its intention of suspending the coastal provisions of the Navigation Act.
– These political lightningchange artists are, according to their own political fortune, apparently, changing their opinions. The previous Government was noted for fostering the industries producing commodities such as those I have mentioned by way of bounties.
I wish to refer more particularly to the present price of coal which the Leader of the Opposition said was one of the main factors in retarding the progress and development of our secondary industries. It is not wages which primarily affect the price of coal, but the huge concealed profits of those engaged in the coal industry The profits of thi? industry are now being inquired into by a royal commission which is endeavouring to determine the cost of production and the use of by-products of coal and so forth. One has to admit that most of the facts given to the commission are being studiously and deliberately suppressed in order that the public shall not have a clear understanding of the actual position of the industry. The coal area of this country was referred to by Senator Lynch who mentioned the possible existence of some 20,000,000,000 tons, but that has very little bearing upon the cost of coal to the consumer. There are more coal-mines in Australia than we require, so that our present coal problem cannot be solved by opening up new deposits. We also have to remember that while there are millions of tons of coal in the bowels of the earth, the method of mining and marketing is cumbersome, and that its cost is excessive because of the wasteful methods employed. In the best seams less than onethird of the coal is obtained from the pit; the remainder being buried during mining operations in such a way that it will be impossible to ever profitably extract it. While this wasteful method goes on the cost to the public is more than treble what it would be under sane management. Senator Lynch suggested that the difficulty could possibly be overcome by the Commonwealth owning and conducting its own coal-mines ; but under our present Constitution that is impossible. I remind the honorable senator, however, that the State coal-mine at Lithgow, which is controlled by the New South Wales Railways Commissioners, has fewer industrial disputes than any other coal-mine, pays higher wages, and is the most profitable in the State. The gibes thrown out against State enterprise are, therefore, wholly undeserved.
The Leader of the Opposition said that the Navigation Act was to some extent responsible for the necessity of subsidizing secondary industries; but I should like to know what is the policy of the Leader of the Opposition in this respect. Does he wish to see our ships manned with lascars, such as are employed on the Peninsular and Oriental boats? Does the right honorable gentleman wish the labour conditions of the white seamen brought down to the level of those employed on ships owned by the Inchcape trust ? I should like to know where honorable senators opposite stand. They all indignantly deny that they wish to lower wages, and when we charge them with wishing to do so we are told that we are making slanderous statements. Every argument they adduce is in the direction of getting cheaper labour in order to make our industries pay.
– I do not wish to circumscribe the debate; but I suggest that the honorable senator now turn his attention to the bill.
– I should have to go a long way if I were to cover the same ground as was covered by Senator Lynch and some other senators. The irrelevant remarks of previous speakers have led me to diverge from the subject proper. Surely the Leader of the Opposition voices to . some extent the opinion of the party which he represents iri this chamber, and he has made a statement which I find it necessary to contradict. The right honorable gentleman suggested that the iron and steel, industry is materially retarded in its development by the price of coal. That is an unwarranted assertion. The price of coal to the ordinary consumer has very little bearing upon the price at which an industry such as that under consideration pays for its coal. It has been said that the cost of the products of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is increased owing to the high cost of coal; but that is totally unwarranted. The company has entered into big contracts with some of the coalproducing companies, under which it obtains supplies at a price very much below that at which coal is sold to the public. Furthermore, it owns a large coal lease, and is gradually developing a mine, from which it will be able to SUpplY its own requirements. There is nothing in the argument adduced by honorable senators opposite to justify any opposition to this measure.
Sitting suspended from 12. 1/S to 2.15 p.m.
.- In the discussion on this bill, the old controversy between freetrade and protection has been revived. I regard the iron and steel industry as one of great importance in the development of this country. Lysaghts Limited commenced the manufacture of galvanized iron in Australia under a policy of protection. Three years ago, the Tariff Board recommended a further measure of protection, whereupon the company arranged to install further plant to enable it to double its output. The factory is equipped with an up-to-date plant; it supplies a good article for which there is a constant demand; it uses Australian materials ; it operates under a system of piece-work; and, generally, it is a concern which merits assistance. During the whole term of its operations in Australia, the company has declared only one dividend of 5 per cent., so that it cannot be said that its shareholders are making huge profits out of the people of Australia. The industry deserves our assistance, and I shall, therefore, support the bill.
– In my speech on the Address-in-Reply, I said that the legislation foreshadowed in the Governor-General’s Speech was practically all directed to bettering the conditions of city dwellers. This bill comes within that category. Queensland uses a great deal of galvanized iron ; even in the cities and- larger towns of that State the roofs of dwellings and other buildings are almost entirely of galvanized iron, while in country districts, especially in the north and north-west, many of the buildings are wholly constructed of that material. Men who go into the out-back parts of the country in order to engage in primary pursuits should be given some consideration when matters affecting the price of galvanized iron are under consideration. I am not opposed to bounties which induce people to engage in undertakings which will benefit the Commonwealth, and which, without the assistance of bounties, could not be established. So far, the company’s output of galvanized iron is very far short of Australia’s requirement’s; but when, by extending its plant, it is able to supply the whole of the local market, we have no guarantee that it will be able to compete in the markets of the world. In considering bounties, we should have regard to the permanency of the enterprise. I shall, however, support the bill.
– I understand that when galvanized iron was selling in Australia at about £35 per ton, the then Government promised Lysaghts Limited that if it would undertake the manufacture of galvanized iron in this country, a full measure of protection would be afforded to the industry. On the strength of that promise the company established a factory in Australia. Later, when the promised protection was not forthcoming, the company appealed to the Tariff Board, which recommended increased duties. This bill has been .introduced in fulfilment of the promise made, to Lysaghts Limited. On’ receiving an assurance of further protection, the company decided to duplicate its plant. Three years have elapsed since then, and nothing has been done; I believe that the work of extending the plant is practically at a standstill. When in going order, that plant will employ an additional 500 or 600 men, and indirectly that will mean the employment of many others. While supporting the bill, I desire to make it clear that if it is true that this factory is an industrial hell, I reserve the right to refuse il my further assistance. An industry which can carry on at a profit should treat its employees decently. In my opinion, it should employ trade unionists. I support the bill, but the continuance of my support to the industry will depend on the manner in which it is conducted.
– The only argument urged against the bill has been advanced many times when the relative merits of freetrade and protection have been discussed.
– Protection, or more protection.
– I should have thought that the type of protection which this measure affords would appeal to Senator Chapman, for it places a burden on the whole community, not on a particular section of it. A bounty on the production of iron -and steel is not different in principle from a bounty on wine, which has the support of the honorable senator. It may be that from Senator Chapman’s standpoint bounties differ, as tariffs differ, according to whether or not a South Australian industry is affected. In considering the galvanized manufacturing industry, the Government necessarily had regard to the £400,000 already spent to assist it. The Government also has taken into account that 538 men are employed in the factory; that expensive plant had been installed, and that other industries which provide the raw material were concerned. Having considered the question from all angles, the Government decided on a bounty as the best means of granting assistance. Some honorable senators indulge in strange reasoning. In this case the Government acted on the recommendation of the Tariff Board, yet it would appear from the statements of some honorable senators that it ought not to have done so. Yesterday, the Government was taken to task by the same senators for having done something without first having consulted the Tariff Board. Are we to understand that the attitude of some honorable senators is that the Government is wrong, whatever it does? If the Senate is to be a house of review, honorable senators should direct their activities to advising and guiding the Government along right lines. Irrespective of whether honorable senators intend to condemn the Government, no matter what it does, it will continue to do what it thinks to be right.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
South Australia Grant Bill.
Grafton to South Brisbane Railway Bill. Arbitration (Public Service) Bill (No. 2), 1929.
Tasmania Grant Bill.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and sessional orders suspended, and bill (on motion by Senator Daly) read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is now submitted in order that Parliament may make the necessary appropriations to give effect to the proposals for loan works and services which were announced on the 22nd November when the Estimates were transmitted to this House. Works and services in progress at the 30th June last have been continued out of funds obtained in Supply under “ Advance to the Treasurer,” pending loan appropriation becoming available. Those funds are becoming exhausted, and it is desired that parliamentary appropriation to cover the programme should be made as early as possible.
The total of the loan programme announced with the Estimates is £5,520,345, made up as follows: -
This amount is the same as the total programme which was submitted by the ex- Treasurer in his budget proposals on the 22nd August last. The figure of £5,520,345 then submitted was arrived at in accordance with the decision of the Loan Council in August, that there should be a further all-round cut of 20 per cent. on the respective Commonwealth and States programmes submitted to, and approved by, the Loan Council earlier in the year. A comparison with last year is as follows: -
The following statement shows a comparison’ under the main items between the estimated expenditure for the current year and the actual expenditure last year : -
It will be noted that the total amount included in this bill is £6,045,795. The difference between this sum and the estimated expenditure of £5,520,345 is explained as follows: -
It is necessary to include in the bill the gross provisions of the various items set. out in the estimates without any deduction of estimated savings. This is the usual practice. The expenditure will be closely watched to see that the allotment of moneys by the Loan Council is not exceeded. With regard to the North Australia Commission an amount of £122,100 is included in the schedule. This covers the £50,000, being the requirements for the current year and also £72,100 being tho amount advanced to the commission up to 30th June, 1929, in anticipation of loan raisings.
It has been the usual practice for some years to. provide that the unexpended balances of appropriations made in loan acts of the preceding year shall lapse. That practice is being adhered to on this occasion with one exception. Loan Act No. 2, of 192S, contains an appropriation of £3,000,000 for “Loans to Federal Capital Commission.” This amount was intended to cover the repayment of advances that had been made in anticipation of the raising of loans. It is proposed that this appropriation be specially kept alive so that when loan moneys become available the necessary appropriations will be made in repayment of advances. On the 30th June, 1929, the amount of advances outstanding was £1,752,055. In the programme now submitted certain adjustments have been made within the total allotment compared with the estimates submitted by the late Government.
These adjustments are as follows: -
These alterations- provide for a net increase of £210,000, but it is proposed to keep within the total programme by making general savings. Clause 2 of the bill gives authority to the Treasurer to borrow moneys not exceeding in the whole the amount of £6,300,000. This amount is arrived at by adding to the amount of the bill a sum to cover discounts and the cost of raising the moneys to meet the expenditure authorized by the bill.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH (Western Australia) [2.46]. - I want to throw out a suggestion to the Government that, because of the influence it is able to exercise on the Loan Council, it should endeavour to induce the whole of the governments of Australia to deliberately trim their financial policy according to the prevailing breeze. Private industry is doing this. I can give a case in point, although it is a rather delicate one. Most of us remember that just before the recent dissolution honorable senators received from certain motion picture interests, a communication telling us of their anxiety to. assist in relieving the unemployed difficulty. We were told that if the proposed tax was imposed their industry would be so injured that they would not be able to do all they wished to do in regard to providing employment, and one company expressed its intention to build in Adelaide a new picture theatre costing £200,000. We all know the view which the public took, and that the proposed taxes were not imposed. But the picture company which announced its intention to build this picture theatre in Adelaide, has now announced that, because of the prevailing condition of affairs in Australia, it has decided to amalgamate its interests with those of another company, and there will be no need for the progressive and competitive programme it contemplated. The first work it is intending to abandon is the theatre in Adelaide. I am not suggesting that it has lost its interest in the welfare of the Adelaide unemployed. I prefer to believe that it takes the sounder economic view that the expenditure of £200,000 on an unwanted building would, in the end, increase rather than reduce unemployment. But I am suggesting to the Government, in all seriousness, that it would be a very good thing if the Australian Governments would, of their own volition, deliberately decrease their loan programmes. They are certainly decreasing them to-day, but only under duress. They say “Instead of spending £30,000,000 or £40,000,000 this year, we are spending only half of that amount because we can not get the full amount.” They still appear, in the eyes of the investor, as eager as ever to secure the full amount, and they are not spending the full amount only because they cannot get it. It would be a splendid gesture and have a wonderfully good effect if they said “ We will not take the full amount, even if it is available, because we recognize that we have been spending too much. We shall all cut down our policy by one half.” If they did that ; if they went on the London market with the complete programme cut down to between £15,000,000 and £20,000,000, spread over all the States and the Commonwealth, and raised in seven small loans in the names of the Commonwealth and the six States they would get a great deal more money and at a better rate than they ever will get by pursuing the. present policy of trying to secure all the loan money they can. What the London financier who takes a real interest in Australia desires to see is a reform of heart on the part of the people of Australia in the direction of spending less, not because they cannot get more, but because they say they can and will do with less. If we take up that attitude we shall be advantaged from every point of view. It is not well to cut down a loan policy from a large expenditure to nothing all at at once. Violent alterations of that character cannot be made without doing great injury; but if we could cut our loan expenditure down by half, I am sure we could get our money at a much more reasonable rate than by any other method.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [2.51]. - I did not intend to speak; but the remarks of Senator Colebatch make it necessary for me to say a few words in defence of the bill, which is practically on the lines framed by the last Government. What Senator Colebatch has said should be done is exactly what has been done. When the last loan estimates were submitted to the late Government, they were well over £10,000,000, and there were included in the schedule works all of which could be justified. The Commonwealth Government, knowing that it would have to approach the Loan Council, thought that it had better set a good example and immediately set to work to cut out every work that could be postponed, and in doing so cut out many that could well be justified. Let me give a few illustrations of some that were cut out. The transAustralian railway is not paying, partly because it is not linked in an effective manner with the broad-gauge system of South Australia. It only, needs a proper connexion between Port Augusta and Adelaide to make the trans-Australian line pay, and such a connexion could easily be regarded as an urgent work, or at any rate as one which would justify expenditure upon it. It would also help to increase the revenue on’ the Alice Springs railway, by providing a quick stock route to the Adelaide market. The work had already been recommended by the Public Works Committee; but the Government struck it out of the schedule. Furthermore, the transcontinental line has not yet been ballasted. Year after year the late Government cut out of the loan expenditure the money set down for making that railway more efficient by ballasting it. Money is also needed to provide additional rolling-stock on the trans-Australian line. At present there is not sufficient stock available to permit of the release of any for painting and repairing in the Port Augusta workshop. But the late Government came to the conclusion that the times did not justify au increase in rolling-stock on this railway. The conditions under which members of the police force in North Australia are obliged to live are disgraceful. Yet, because of the financial stringency, the late Government had to cut out of the loan schedule the money provided to build decent residences for these men, who are in some cases to-day living in whurlies like blackfellows.
It is not fair to Australia to make it appear that we are not practising self-denial. The bill itself represents selfdenial on the part of the Commonwealth before it met the State Treasurers at the Loan Council and asked them to cut down their loan proposals. The fact that this year the loan proposals of the Commonwealth and the States do not exceed £28,000,000, whereas two years ago they amounted to £44,000,000, shows that what Senator Colebatch requires has already been done. It ought to go out to the world that this year Commonwealth and State loan expenditure has been cut to the bone, and that everything that could possibly be postponed has been postponed, because the governments of Australia recognize that this is not a time for spending money if expenditure can possibly be avoided.
Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) [2.551. - It is recognized on all hands that we must get through the business of the Senate to-day. At the same time some consideration has to be given to tha manner in which we shall dispose of it. The late arrival of the Loan Bill, along with other important measures, makes it very difficult for us to do our work in a proper manner. We cannot do justice to ourselves or to the country. I suppose that there is an excuse for the present occasion, but in the past there has been very little excuse for the practice that has obtained of heaving a number of important bills at the Senate at the last moment and asking us to do the best we can by way of dealing with them in a proper fashion. A certain event which occurred last October, and considerably altered the political landscape, has again brought us into that position. We are pressed for time; but there are a fewthings we cannot escape noticing. It is recognized on all sides that the Commonwealth of which we are all so proud to form a part, has not as good a name in the money markets of the world as it should have. Many reasons could be assigned for this, but the naked fact stands out that this great Commonwealth with its immense natural resources, and a sturdy people is going back instead of improving. We have to ask ourselves why this should be. I do not want to be dragged into that seductive topic. I content myself with comparing the position of the Commonwealth with that of other dominions and the States. Instead of being in the front rank as a first-rate borrowing nation, the Commonwealth is in the second or even the third rank. We must have some introspection to ascertain why our credit is not as good as it should be with the consequential loss that has to be borne by the taxpayer. During the two years and three months prior to September last, according to figures I have been able to obtain from the Treasury, the Commonwealth has been borrowing in two markets: London and New York, and these figures indicate that our bond holders receive a very much higher rate of interest than do those who hold the stocks of almost every other British dominion. Those who held Commonwealth bonds received £5 3s. 5d. per centum in interest. Those who held bonds of the State of Victoria received £5 3s. 2d. per centum. In the case of Western Australia, the return to the bond-holders was £5 3s. 3d. Tasmania and New Zealand were also in a more favorable position. The Tasmanian bond-holders received £5 ls. Sd., and the holders of New Zealand bonds £4 17s. 9d. If we turn to South Africa, where there has been so much talk of late years about “cutting the painter,” we find that even that country is regarded in a more favourable light by the British investor, because he was content with the return of £4 19s. 8d. per cent., as against the return of £5 3s. 5d. per cent, on Commonwealth bonds. Canadian bond-holders- had to be content with a return of £4 13s. 6d. Stated in other terms, the financial standing of Canada, New Zealand and South Africa, our three sister dominions, is appreciably higher than that of the Commonwealth. If our credit in London stood as high as that of Canada, the interest bill on our total Commonwealth and State loan liability of £1,072,000,000 would be £5,360,000 per anum less than it is today. If our credit stood as high as that of New Zealand over the same period, the yearly interest bill would be £3,063,000 less than it is, and if it were even as high as that of South Africa, we should be saving £2,000,900 a year in interest. Surely it is about time that we applied the remedy, which is to maintain a more efficient control of industries and make them pay. What happens in connexion with most of our public works? The Murray Waters Scheme was estimated to cost £4,000,000. That undertaking has been so altered and enlarged that the expenditure to date is in the neighbourhood of £11,000,000. Increases due to higher wages and increased cost of material may be excusable, but something should be done to make the final cost of our public undertakings approximate more closely to their estimated cost. Australia is in much the same position’ as a private . mortgagor. If a mortgagee believes that a mortgagor is not standing up to his work, and is not in a position to pay 20s. in the £1, or a bit over, he either shortens his credit or calls upon the mortgagee to pay a higher rate of interest. That is what is happening in the Commonwealth. Our credit, instead of being higher than that of New Zealand or South Africa, and at least equal to that of Canada, lags far behind that of our sister dominions. I mention these cold facts, in the hope that they may be productive of some good, and in the belief that if the leaders of government and the leaders of industry, who surely are interested in these problems, face them honestly and squarely, our taxpayers will not be penalized by way of higher interest charges, as they have been hitherto. I shall not oppose the bill, which, by the way, provides for £1,000,000 less than the amount asked for in a similar measure last year. I should like information in regard to some of the items, but I believe that this Government is merely following the example of the previous Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 5 agreed to.
– I notice under the heading of defence an item of £31,000 towards the construction of buildings and works for the production of new munitions. I gather, from reports that have appeared in the press, that it is the intention of this Government to convert a number of defence factories to the manufacture of automatic telephones and similar articles. If that is so, the items should not be camouflaged in this way, but should appear under the department of the Postmaster-General.
– I presume that if the honorable senator has an opportunity to peruse the departmental file, he will be satisfied that there is some honesty in the Labour party.
– I am prepared to accept the Minister’s assurance that this is genuinely intended for munition works.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Daly) proposed -
That the bill be now read a third -time.
– I notice on page 6 of the financial statement in connexion with the budget, reference to a further temporary advance in London by the issue on 10th November of treasury-bills to the amount of £5,000,000. The bills were issued on the 20th November and are to mature on the 30th June, 1930. There is a discount rate of £5 7s. 6d. and an effective interest rate of £511s. I should like to know if these bills were issued at £94 12s. 6d.
– The point raised by the honorable senator is not in any way related to the subject matter of this bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Senator Hoare brought up the first report of the Printing Committee and (by leave) moved -
That the report from the Printing Committee, presented to the Senate this day, be adopted.
.-The report reads-
The joint committee, having considered the petition and papers presented to Parliament since the last meeting of the committee recommend the following be printed: -
Coal Industry - Interim Report of the Royal Commission - Constitution - Report with appendices of the Royal Commission on the Constitution - North Australia Commission - Second Annual Report for the period 1st July, 1927, to the 31st December, 1928 - Papua Annual Report for the year 1927-28.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and sessional orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator Daly) proposed.
That the bill be now read a first time.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [3.20]. - The motion for the first reading of this bill gives honorable senators an opportunity to discuss matters which are not contained in the measure. I have been waiting an opportunity to say a few words with reference to the communication sent by the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) to the British Government with regard to migration, and also the British Government’s reply thereto. Owing to the delay that has taken place in making the communications available, I have been unable to see this until to-day. Parliament has not had an opportunity to consider the reply of the Secretary of State for the Dominions, or to express an opinion upon it, but in the interests of the Commonwealth I think that its terms should be made known as it is very important and is not lengthy. I propose to read it.
My colleagues and I much regret your decision to suspend the operation of the Assisted Passages Agreement except for the reunion of families. But we recognize the difficulty with which you are faced and are anxious to assist you in every way in our power.
The suspension of the grant of assisted passages necessarily creates a new situation as to any further contributions under the £34,000;000 agreement, but in the circumstances set out in your telegram and in the sincere desire to assist you in the difficult situation with which you are for the time being confronted, we are prepared to co-operate with you in the completion of the schemes already approved under the agreement by making the contributions provided therein as and when they fall due, without consideration of the fact that assisted migration is temporarily suspended.
As regards schemes already submitted to us and not yet approved, and schemes which are now or may in the future be under the consideration of the Development and Migration Commission, with a view to their submission to us under the agreement, we must reserve complete discretion, but we can assure you that we shall give sympathetic consideration to any such schemes (especially any schemes for intensive development) submitted to us with the approval of the commission and of our representative, which would increase the absorptive capacity of Australia, and therefore permit the early resumption of assisted migration to a corresponding extent. We must make this proviso, because, as you will realize, there would be likely to be Parliamentary objections to the voting of expenditure on new schemes which lid not fulfil this condition.
We trust, however, that in view of the cooperation which we are ready to extend on the above lines, your Government will, on their part, be willing to take the following points into consideration: -
We hope that it will be found possible to keep the assisted migration machinery in being, both in this country and in Australia, by allowing some form of assisted migration, however small, to continue, so as to facilitate the early resumption of activities under the Assisted Passages Agreement;
In this connexion we should like to call special attention to the existing arrangements for the assisted migration of household workers. We do not understand whether it is your view that assisted migration of women from this conntry to undertake domestic work in Australia adversely affects the employment situation and it will, no doubt, be borne in mind that considerable expenditure has been incurred by both Governments in the establishment of a training centre at Market Harborough. We should greatly regret the necessity of closing down this centre, and we trust, therefore, that, in addition to the exception in favour of the reunion of families, you will feel able to make a further exception in favour of female domestic workers;
We have been, as I think you are aware, greatly disturbed as to the position of a number of settlers in Victoria, and we earnestly hope that your Government will be able, at an early date, to take such steps as may be necessaryto put these settlers in a satisfactory economic position. Crutchley is in possession of our views on this matter and on the whole subject of the after-care of the migrant and will, of course, be available to discuss these subjects with you at any time.
My colleagues and I have not thought it necessary in this telegram to say anything as to our general policy in regard to settlement within the Empire, as we have no doubt Crutchley has put our views fully before you, nor do I propose now to send the despatch referred to in my telegram 185 of the 26th October last.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.I trust that the Minister will see the wisdom of changing his views on one or two phases of this subject with which he dealt a few days ago. and upon which I can only assume that he has been misinformed. There is a striking reference in this communication from the British Government to domestic workers. It is a fact that there are no unemployed domestic workers in this country, at least among migrants. Every migrant domestic who has come to this country during the last two years has found employment within a week of her arrival, and in most cases they have gone straight off the boat to employment which was waiting for them. There is no necessity to discontinue that form of migration. I would suggest that the Government study this subject more closely in order to ascertain if migration is really the cause of unemployment, or whether the reverse is not the position, and that a falling off in migration causes unemployment. The following figures are interesting: In 1911, 39,796 assisted migrants cameto Australia, and in that year the percentage of employment was 4.7. In 1912 there were 46,712 assisted migrants - the highest figure for many years - and the percentage of unemployment was 5.5. In 1913 there were 37,445 assisted migrants and in that year the percentage of unemployment was 5.3. In 1927 the number of assisted migrants had fallen to 30,012 and in that year the percentage of unemployment was 7. This year the percentage of unemployment is said to be in the neighbourhood of 12 or 14, and the number of assisted migrants well under 20,000. In speaking in the Senate a short time ago, the
Minister submitted a view of this agreement that was altogether misleading. For instance, he seemed to think that Australia had undertaken a responsibility in regard to the absorption of migrants which we are unable to fulfill. The position is exactly the reverse of that stated by the Minister. The figures are influenced by the approval for expenditure under the migration agreement. A few days ago I asked the following questions : -
I received the following reply : -
If Australia does not bring in one additional migrant it has already fulfilled its responsibility in respect of the migrants to be brought in as represented by those sums of money. We must consider the period from the time of the commencement of the agreement until 1935, when it terminates. We have to consider not only the migrants who might come in this year, but also those who will come in right up to 1935. On that basis,Australia as a whole has already fulfilled its obligation in respect of the capital value of £8,979,236 referred to. So long as we do not borrow any more money in the meantime, we need not accept one more migrant until 1935. Actually, Australia at the present stage is in credit.
In another respect, also, Senator Daly appeared to be ill-informed. Taking the amount of expenditure recommended in developmental schemes by the Development and Migration Commission, and contrasting it with the administrative cost of the Commission, he arrived at the conclusion that the cost of the Commission represented 12 per cent, of the capital cost of the schemes it had recommended. He said that that cost was too high. The Development and Migration Commission does not merely deal with schemes under the £34,000,000 agreement. If honorable senators will look at its last report, dated the 31st December, 1928, they will find a list of inquiries conducted by the Commission which are not associated with schemes under the £34,000,000 agreement.
The list includes the dried fruits industry, the canned fruits industry, the Murray river basin, fishing and allied industries, tobacco, gold-mining, manufacture of paper, dried apple industry of Tasmania, Tasmanian investigations, report on unemployment and business stability in Australia, mechanical transport, geophysical prospecting, rural housing, rural credits, tourist traffic, investigation into continuance of mining operations, at Mount Morgan, Queensland, hydro-electric possibilities of Queensland, port at the mouth of the river Murray, and liaison work of the commission with other Empire bodies. None of those inquiries was in any way connected with the £34,000,000 agreement. It is not. fair, therefore, - to refer only to the schemes recommended by the Commission, and to say that its administrative expenses represented 12 per cent, of the expenditure involved.
The honorable senator also said that some of these schemes would bring Australia into disrepute in Great Britain. I hope that he will qualify that statement, otherwise it will result in misapprehension. Any one reading his speech would conclude that he was referring to schemes recommended by the Commission. I hope that he did not mean them, but his statement, as it appears in Hansard, is capable of that construction.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The honorable senator’s remarks gave me the impression that he was referring to schemes put forward by the Development and Migration Commission.
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.
Those are the schemes which I said would bring us into disrepute in Great Britain.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.I am glad to have that explanation, because it appeared to me that the honorable senator referred to schemes reported on by the Commission, and I wanted to say, in justice to the Commission, that the schemes they have recommended have proved to be sound.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The commission rejected a number of schemes that were -anything but sound. In connexion with one Victorian scheme, under the £14,000,000 agreement which it had not recommended, there has been some trouble; but I remind the Senate that more than one government in Victoria has been interested in it. When ] was in charge of the department, I had to deal with the Hogan Labour Government in Victoria. Mr. Bailey was its Minister for Lands, as I see he is again in the new Labour Ministry. Mr. Bailey adopted the same unbending attitude that the Minister in the Liberal Government, adopted; we could not get any redress from him. I think the trouble is due to one of the officials in the Lands Department of that State whose strong opinions in the matter have been backed up by the State Minister. I only wanted to make it clear that the Development and Migration Commission had nothing to do with the schemes concerning which we have heard from the Minister so much condemnation. In conclusion, I express the hope that when the Government takes definite action in relation to migration it will consider the question from all angles. The £34,000,000 agreement means a great deal to Western Australia, in which State there is a scheme to bring into being about 3,000 farms. The Western Australian Government is anxious that nothing shall be done to militate against the successful settlement of that area. For the most part it is sound country, andthe proposal is being thoroughly examined by the commission. I feel sure that any recommendation it makes in respect of that scheme will be on safe lines; and I trust the money under the £34,000,000 agreement will then be available to assist that State to develop that portion of its territory and, at the same time, provide employment for its people.
– Very briefly, I desire to ventilate a matter of paramount importance to my State - one which has been a burning question in Tasmania for many years. I refer to the operation of the Navigation Act. Early this week I was amazed to read in the press that the present Government proposed to repeal the coastal clauses of that act. I was the more amazed when I remembered that the present Prime Minister, when in Tasmania last October, stated emphatically that he stood for the Navigation Act, and that Tasmania could expect no relief from its operation if a Labour Government was returned. Many Tasmanians have for some years been agitating for relief from the coastal clauses of that act, and to secure a fair deal for the most spacious and magnificent harbour in the Commonwealth - that of Hobart. In view of the Prime Minister’s definite statement, I did not think that there was the slightest possibility of a Labour Government granting Tasmania relief from the Navigation Act. But yesterday, in reply to a question, the Leader of the Government in this chamber said that a Gazette notification had been issued, but had since been revoked, and that permits were to be issued to enable individual vessels to trade and carry passengers between Hobart and Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. One should not impute motives ; but I wondered at the time whether the announcement had anything to do with the Franklin by-election. I wondered why, having once issued the proclamation, the Government modified it so soon.
I should be glad if the Leader of the Government would explain whether the following news item, which appeared in the Melbourne Herald of the 11th instant, had anything to do with the Government’s action: -
Sydney. Wednesday. “ A gross betrayal of the seamen of Australia was how the general secretary of the Seamen’s Union (Mr. H. J. Brennan) to-day described the decision of the Federal Government to suspend section 286 of the Navigation Act, relating to the carrying of passengers and cargo by overseas vessels, between Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart.
To-day Mr. Brennan sent to the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) a telegram protesting against this decision, and stating it would accentuate the present acute unemployment in the Australian shipping industry. “Statements made by the Prime Minister himself in connexion with the possible resuscitation of the Commonwealth Line led us to expect something very different,” said Mr. Brennan. “In face of what Mr. Scullin said his Government has committed a traitorous act against the seamen of Australia. If this is a fair sample of what the seamen are to expect from a Federal Labour Government I can only say that they are sadly disappointed. “What we did hope for was an amendment of some of the obnoxious clauses of the Navigation Act and some attempt to bring the Seamen’s Compensation Act on a level with the New South Wales Acts.” “ Pressure “ Against Ministry. “ Instead, the Federal Government has made it possible for British ships to trade between Tasmania and interstate ports - a decision that is incomprehensible, seeing that British seamen are paid much lower wages and work under worse conditions than Australian seamen. “ So far as I can see, the Federal Government has made no discrimination against Lascar seamen participating in the benefits, although their wages and conditions are far worse even than those of British seamen.”
Mr. Brennan added that the Seamen’s Union would bring pressure to bear on the Labour. Government on the floor of the House, if necessary, to convince it of the enormity of its offence, and to secure an immediate remedy.
For many years Tasmania has been endeavouring to obtain some relief from the operations of the coastal provisions of the Navigation Act, so that people would have greater facilities available to them when travelling between mainland ports and Hobart on large steamers. Tasmania is peculiarly placed, inasmuch as she relies solely upon shipping as a. mode of transport between her coast and the mainland. I hope that the day will shortly come when we may have aviation as a second means of transport. I rejoiced a few days ago to learn that the island State was to be given some partial relief, but now I find that the suggestion was a practical joke, or something of the kind, and that it means nothing. I should be glad if Senator Daly would explain whether the extract that I have quoted had any bearing on the decision of the Government to withdraw its gazetted notice and revert to the system of individual licences, which forces each vessel to apply for a separate licence and does not help us one bit.
– I shall not make any apology for again speaking on the subject of defence. The aspect of the matter with which I intend to deal has developed since I last spoke in connexion with the budget. The Minister for Defence in another place became very animated in his references to Colonel White, the honorable member for Balaclava, who has an active command in the militia, for venturing to criticize the defence proposals of the Government. I sympathize entirely with the Minister iu his attitude. The position that arose should not exist in any army. I have, on other occasions, drawn attention to that fact in this chamber, and suggested that we should institute a system similar to that which prevails in regard to British Army officers when they are elected to the House of Commons. Such officers are, upon their election to Parliament, seconded from military duty. When a military officer is elected to this Parliament he is placed in a somewhat invidious position. He may consider it his duty to his electors to criticize the vote for his department, yet feel restraint because, possibly, he possesses information gained through his official position. It is very difficult for such an honorable member to divide his mind into two watertight compartments. During this debate I shall endeavour to rely upon information that I have gathered from the newspapers, and to disregard information obtained in my official capacity. If the Minister thinks that I have failed in my duty as a military officer, he has only to request me to resign, and I shall be happy to meet his wishes.
Somehow, the Ministry appears to think that by having no efficient defence force it can evade war. So long as the causes of war exist, war will always bt possible, and those who are responsible for the defence .organization of their country must at all times bear that hard fact in mind, however anxious they may be to preserve peace. I fear that the Government, in pursuance of the ideals which the members of the Labour party enunciated during the long years that it was in opposition, when it occupied an irresponsible position, has jeopardized the safety of Australia. I shall quote a reference in this connexion from -President Coolidge, delivered on Armistice day, 1928 :-
All human experience seems to demonstrate that a country which makes reasonable preparation for defence is less likely to be subject to a hostile attack and less .likely to suffer a violation of its rights which might lead to war. To be ready for defence is not to be guilty of aggression. We can have military preparation without assuming a military spirit. It is our duty to ourselves and the cause of civilization, to the preservation of domestic tranquility, and to our orderly and lawful relations with foreign peoples, to maintain an adequate army and navy.
I commend those wise and patriotic words to the present Government of Australia. Our military forces at present are dangerously inadequate. We have, nominally, what the Minister would term the nuclei of two. cavalry divisions. If the Minister were to mobilize those ‘ divisions tomorrow, he would be unable to find horses for the men. The Minister claimed, in another place-, that he would have at least six months warning of any hostile act on the part of an aggressor country. Even assuming that he got six months warning, how would it be possible for him to raise horses in that time to mount two full divisions Of cavalry?
– There were thousands of admirable remounts going to waste in the Northern Territory.
– The honorable senator is mistaken. Recently, an Indian officer came to Australia to purchase Indian remounts. He was unable to fulfil his quota here, and had to go to the Argentine. The qualities of the Australian “ waler “ are well known, and it was proved during the Palestine campaign that Australian horses were equal, if not superior, to any others. Our present deplorable position is therefore the more regrettable.
The other day, I noticed a statement in a Sydney newspaper to the effect that the 4th Infantry Battalion, which was one of the most famous Australian Imperial Force units, is to-day only 70 strong. Recruiting has failed to fill its ranks. Among those 70 men there are 30 officers, a similar number of non-commissioned officers, and only ten of the rank and file.
– Does the honorable senator think that speeches, such as he is making, will assist the volunteer system? I believe that he would be the most disappointed man in Australia if that system succeeded.
– The honor.orable senator is altogether wrong. I and my colleagues have done everything possible to stimulate recruiting, and the officers and non-commissioned officers of various units have done their utmost to help the new system to be a- success. The failure is attributable only to the Ministry, which has not given the movement the necessary stimulus. Municipal councils that are under Labour domination have not only discountenanced the compulsory system, but have expressed themselves as emphatically opposed to the voluntary system, so making recruiting a perfectly hopeless task. Is what I have described an adequate defence provision for Australia? The whole thing has become Gilbertian. Above the officers and men is a galaxy of brigadiers and their staffs, and then above them are the army staffs. The Ministry has failed altogether to give effect to its promise to maintain those staffs. It is ridiculous that the instructors should outnumber by two to three times the men that they have to instruct.
The Minister for Defence (Mr. A. Green) stated that aeroplanes from the Australian Air Force were to be utilized to perform useful jobs, such as the carrying of mails and (passengers. I presume, on the same reasoning, that General Sir Harry Chauvel and his staff will be employed to deliver letters. The one suggestion is as absurd as the other. It is ridiculous to use expensive, uneconomical aeroplanes, which simply eat up petrol, to carry mails and passengers. It only emphasizes that this change was entered upon by the Minister, as he now admits, without consulting one single officer, high or low, of his department. The answer given by the Minister in reply to a question on this subject was quite unworthy of him. He said, “ Of course I did not consult one of them on the subject, for he would not advise doing away with hia own job “. Quite apart from the fact that the Government had announced that the changes would not involve an officer in the loss of his employment, a promiseno doubt made with the tongue in the cheek, this is a most unworthy suggestion. It is obvious that the public will, not tolerate . a system of having twoofficers for every man to be trained. General Chauvel is so near to the retiring age that the- question of the loss of his job would not enter into the question. The Minister was also in a position to consult General Monash and General White, who are upon the Defence Council, but they are for the time being civilians, and no question of the loss of their jobs would arise. Why this want of confidence in the public and the Parliament? Why all this evasion ? In my opinion it is due to the people of the Commonwealth who permitted themselves to be fooled at the last election. They should insist upon ai straight out declaration from the Ministry whether it really desires to have any defence force at all. If it is really in earnest in establishing the voluntary system, let Ministers take an interest in the matter. Let the Minister for Defence (Mr. A. Green) conduct a campaign infavour of recruiting. So far as I can learn, no Minister has been sufficiently interested in the success of recruiting to. issue an appeal for volunteers. I have drawn attention to the action of various municipal councils controlled by the Labour party, who have not scrupled to proclaim their hostility to the militia, forces. In this they are only following, the lead of Mr. Brennan, and other mem-, bers of the Ministry. If Mr. Scullin, wished to make a gesture in favour of the voluntary system, I have no doubt that the military board would arrange for him to become honorary colonel of the regiment recruited in his own electorate, and to change its name to that of “ Scullin’s Scout’s “ . or “ Scullin’s Rangers “. The attitude of these municipal councils is such that the young men in ‘ their ‘districts feel that they will be regarded as “ scabs “ or outcasts if they join up. I have known- of cases in these districts where the parents have put pressure on their boys to prevent them from enlisting. One boy, an excellent shot who won a prize I offered at the last match, told his officer that his father had announced that if he joined up he would have to leave home. The Labour Daily of the 12th November last speaking of the Sydney University Rifles, said -
Every design is being used to capture volunteers. Even Professor Wallace has given his aid with fair words. Needless to say, few are responding.
I warn the Government that the success of the compulsory system was largely due to the voluntary efforts of officers and noncommissioned officers who did fur more than was legally required of them. But if they have no men to train they will not spend night after night and Saturday after Saturday in attending parades and rifle practice. Their enthusiasm will rapidly wane.
Another point is worthy of emphatic mention. The Minister for Defence caused Brigadier-General Dodds to announce to all officers that possible recruits should be informed that smart-coloured uniforms would be issued to make the service more attractive. .
– Was that statement actually issued?
– It was announced at a meeting of commanding officers held at Victoria Barracks. Samples of the uniforms were shown with green collars and green braid.
– What is wrong with the old Australian Imperial Force uniform a little better tailored?
– One of the arguments against the compulsory system was that the uniform was unattractive, and that something better should be provided.
– What about kilts ?
– As a matter of fact two or three hundred in one State enrolled on condition that they are supplied with kilts, as promised. A few days ago, however, in another place that promise was repudiated. The left-over uniforms of the Australian Imperial
Force are to be the only uniforms available. But why that was necessary is perfectly obvious. The Treasurer had announced far and wide that £150,000 would be saved by not holding the training camps this year. It was the solitary saving he was able to announce on the budget despite his previous allegations about the wanton extravagance of the late Government, and it could not be made if the promised brighter uniforms were provided. Enrolment under the voluntary system is expected to reach 35,000, and as each uniform costs £6 it would involve the country in an expenditure .of £210,000 to equip the volunteers with new uniforms of a smart type. That would be £60,000 more than the amount expected to be saved by not holding the training camps this year. It is clear that the Minister could not have been sincere in his promise about the smart uniforms.
It has been the fashion to disparage the compulsorily-trained force. In order to do so use, quite wrongly, has been made of the reports furnished by General Chauvel. That distinguished officer had in his mind as a basis of comparison the Australian Imperial Force or some other force ready to take its place in the field, and the purpose of his criticism was to show how far our present forces fell short of that ideal. One consolation I have about this change is that I can look forward to General Chauvel’s report upon the voluntary system. Last year we got a different point of view. Major Eddy came to Australia as a liaison officer for the War Office, and his report astonished everybody. It showed clearly how much superior the Australian compulsory system was to the voluntary territorial system of Great Britain. Under our compulsory system the work of training was done in camps by the noncommissioned officers and junior officers on the methods adopted in the Australian Imperial Force. If a man did not voluntarily attend additional schools of training it was our practice to get rid of him. Where .recruits are scarce all sorts of inducements have to be offered, and in the case of Great Britain, although men of social position are attracted to take the positions of officers in the Territorials, pressure cannot be brought to bear on them to spend time in study. The consequence is that when the Territorials go into camp the actual control of them is in the hands of the permanent noncommissioned officers and the adjutants and commanders who are regular soldiers. In action all of these may be destroyed in the first engagement, and the men may be rendered leaderless. In the Australian Imperial Force there were always reserve men .who had attended the training schools to take up the place of others who were killed. Major Eddy’s report showed that General Chauvel’s previous criticism was wrongly based. There is a marked difference between the voluntary system of training even in a closely-settled country, where it has every material advantage, and the system in operation in Australia. Major Eddy was in a position to speak of the voluntary system in operation in Great Britain, and his report was available to the Ministry at the time they made their decision.
– It was a question of putting into practice the Labour policy.
– Surely Labour would not carry out its policy at all hazards. The last Government provided Australia with a certain measure of protection, but I shudder when I think of what may happen under the voluntary system if any serious situation should arise.
I apologize for referring to a personal > matter, but Senator Dunn, in my absence the other day, took upon himself to claim that he was as good a soldier as I am. I withdraw all claims to any comparison of that nature. I am reminded of what happened to me in Egypt. A British staff officer called me up and said, “ Colonel, you are not obeying the King’s regulations which provide that no soldier must shave his upper lip.” I replied - “I am not a soldier; I am a solicitor, who has come over to help you put out a bush-fire that has been raging in the backyard of the Empire.” I assure Senator Dunn that I do not wish to enter into a competition with him as to our relative military qualifications. I am willing to accept him at his face value, and to agree that he is a better soldier than I am.
– I did not say that I was a better soldier than the honorable senator. But I do say that I was as good a soldier, though I only got 6s. a day.
– Let me repeat, I am prepared to take the honorable senator at his own valuation. I go even further. I will undertake to believe him, even should he allege that he is the reincarnation of that famous warrior, the ancient Pistol extolled by the immortal Shakespeare. I suggest that his statement in this Senate as to his war service merely errs on the side of modesty. By his own account, he appears to have served in New Guinea, where I believe he caught influenza, and in Egypt. In the latter country the only battle that I ever heard of was the battle of the Wazirs
– You dirty Wazir rat !
– Order! The honorable senator must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
– Again I remind honorable senators that the exchange of personalities is entirely out of order.
– I have no intention of challenging Senator Dunn by making any comparison of our war service.
– I think the honorable senator has already said that once.
– I do, however, on behalf of the Australian Imperial Force, challenge the honorable senator’s claim to the patent rights for the title of “Digger,” which was bestowed upon all members of our forces overseas.
– I am as much entitled to it as the honorable senator is to be called “Pompey.”
– At all events, I made no attempt to patent that and the honorable senator is at liberty to take it, too.
– The honorable senator is too much of a “ mug “.
– Order ! The honorable senator must withdraw that statement unreservedly.
– I withdraw it, Mr. President, but I object to the personal attack which Senator Elliott is making upon me.
– I ask the honorable senator to resume his seat. Senator
Elliott will, I believe, now see what follows from the exchange of personalities’ across the chamber. I ask him to desist.
– I understand that the policy of the Labour party is to provide for the adequate defence of Australia. I therefore appeal to that party to encourage voluntary enlistment, which is the next best thing to compulsory military training. Those who join up should not be regarded as outcasts. I suggest also that municipalities which pass resolutions denouncing military service are not helping the Government to provide for the adequate defence of this country. My purpose in rising was to point out that the chief reason for federation was to enable the Commonwealth to organize an adequate system of defence forces. That is really the only reason for the existence of the Commonwealth. Administration in regard to other matters is better left to the State Governments.
I wish now to say a few words about the Attorney-General’s Department. Through the courtesy of the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Brennan) I was permitted to inspect the file relating to the John Brown case, and I advise other honorable senators to follow my example if they wish to ascertain the facts for themselves. I may add that I have the permission of the Attorney-General to refer to information contained in the file in the same manner as if it had been laid upon the table and had become a public document. During the recent election Mr. Maxwell and many other candidates had a good deal , to say about what was termed the base behaviour of the Bruce-Page Government towards the suffering miners. I was anxious, therefore, to satisfy myself as to the facts, relating to the prosecution which had been withdrawn. The file discloses that Mr. Latham, in February or March last, soon after the cessation of work at the mines, sent an officer of his department to consult with Mr. Bondy Hoare, the president of the Miners Federation, and Mr. Davies, the secretary, upon the subject. Through these officials he met a union organizer named Ward, who put him in touch with five men who appear to have been employed by Mr. John Brown. In fact they were some of the men alleged to have been oppressed, and over whose alleged oppression Mr. Maxwell has wept. It is extraordinary that these oppressed people, instead of welcoming the opportunity of delivering Mr. Brown up to an outraged justice, demanded, through Mr. Ward, to be paid for the time during which they were engaged with the man who .was detailed to prepare their case - this official from the Attorney-General’s department - to be paid, moreover, at award rates and double time because it happened to be Easter Monday. Does this suggest that they considered they were oppressed, and really required deliverance from their oppressor? Surely if, as alleged, they were oppressed, they would have welcomed the appearance of the officer from the Attorney-General’s department.
But a further surprise awaits those honorable senators who may care to inspect the file. They will find that the basis of the evidence which these. men tendered on these terms was that some months before, Mr. Brown, or Mr. Brown’s manager had called a meeting of the men in the mine had pointed out to them that the output had fallen far below normal and begged them to restore it to normal, as he had a market for all the coal he could produce, at a profit. His request was refused. At no time, it was admitted, had Mr. Brown asked the nien to reduce the award rates, although the award had long since expired. Can honorable senators wonder then that when such evidence as that was relied upon to establish a prima facie case, the owners would be very chary about having anything to do with a conference? Would not they have good reason to believe that their words and actions would be noted to bolster up a charge against them? I should have thought that the very facts tendered as evidence against him would be regarded as proof of the innocence of Mr. Brown. It is shown that he was eager to increase his output, because of the grave risk that he would lose his business. If my clerks had a rule that a fair day’s work was done at 11 a.m’. or 12 noon, and that they would see no clients after that time, it would not be long before I had no clients at all, and I should have to go out of business. But, apparently, if my business were conducted under an award it would be prima facie evidence of my guilt and an offence against the act if, before closing, I interviewed my employees and begged them to change their practice to save me from ruin. Could the operation of any law be more absurd than that? It is no wonder that the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) now announces that he is not in favour of any prosecution under such an act. It would appear that he is now in full agreement with the action of the former Government that compulsory arbitration is an absolute failure. All this information was readily available to honorable members in another place, including Mr. Maxwell, and honorable senators who were then in opposition in this chamber, had any of them shown the slightest desire to get at the truth. I assume, therefore, that they knew all the facts perfectly, but for political purposes ignored them, and worked this confidence trick on the public by pretending to be in favour of an act in which they had no belief at all, and in abusing the Government for not proceeding with a prosecution which either must have failed for want of evidence or which would have been very unjust if, by a technicality, it had succeeded. To what a farce, then, has the administration of the industrial law been reduced ! I should say that, judging by the volume of unemployment in this country, the man who begs his employees to get out as much.coal as they can should be regarded as a benefactor rather than a man to be shot.
– I shall be as brief as possible in my defence of this Government against the charges made by Senator H. E. Elliott. It has given ample evidence that it intends to do the right thing as regards naval construction and the encouragement of the volunteer system of military service. The people applaud the Ministry for raising to the status of full generals two brilliant military leaders in ‘the persons of General Monash and General Chauvel. I understand that, when this matter was under consideration, the names of a number of other generals came up for review. Included in the number was one whose name I do not care to mention, but I can say that physically he is a big man, and he represents one of the southern States. He was, I gather, regarded as too bombastic, and I think also a very stupid man. I do not know what was in the mind of the Government, because I was merely a soldier who served not only in New Guinea and Egypt, but in Sinai, and in Prance and Flanders, as the army records will show. While I am not a tall man and perhaps not as gifted as others are, when I compare myself with some others whose names I could mention, I feel that I should be justified in throwing bouquets at myself, because I think I am just as great intellectually as some of the big men I meet in everyday life. Senator H. E. Elliott seems to have an obsession. Perhaps he regards himself as a modern Napoleon. He apparently holds the view that because we now have a Labour administration in the Commonwealth, the defence of Australia is to be thrown to the winds. As a portion of the British Empire we shall always be willing to do the right thing. There are other men in our midst who are quite as intelligent and as courageous as these so-called big fellows, who at last have fallen with a big thump.
There is no necessity for me to refer at length to the position in the northern coal-fields, but I feel it my duty to mention the action of the State Government of New South Wales in introducing a system of volunteer labour to work a certain colliery. Under this scheme volunteer labour will be asked to accept a lower rate of wages than would be- accepted by those unfortunate men who have Deen locked out of employment for so many months. It is a definite attempt on the part of the New South Wales Government to lower wages and bring down the condition of living of men engaged in the industry. As these volunteers will need protection and the police may possibly be called in to assist, there may be an opportunity for some of these so-called military experts and others who held high rank in the Australian Imperial Force to go to the coal-fields and display their big muscles in whatever direction they may consider necessary.
– Earlier in the day I raised a question concerning the issue of treasury-bills in London, when I was informed by the Minister that the subject could not be raised on the bill then under discussion. I now wish to direct attention to the fact that treasury-bills to the value of £5,000,000, issued in London on 20th November, are to mature on the 30th June, 1930. These bills, which have been discounted at an average rate of £5 7s. 6d. per cent., were quoted at £94 12s. 6d. If we are paying £5 7s. 6d. for a period of seven months, the interest rate will work out at approximately £9 8s. per cent, for twelve months. I raise this point, because, when these treasury-bills were issued, particular prominence was given in certain sections of the press to the floating of a loan of £5,000,000 in the early part of the year by the previous Government for a period of twelve months, at £6 3s. per cent. When these two flotations are compared it will be seen that £9 8s. was the rate of interest paid on the last occasion, whilst that paid by the previous Government was £6 3s. If that is the case the public of Australia should be told, so they will have an opportunity to decide whether the money recently raised was actually obtained at a cheaper rate than that previously obtained in London.
– Some time ago I understood the Minister (Senator Daly) to state that an opportunity would be afforded the Senate to discuss the Singapore Naval Base; but that opportunity up to the present has not been given us. The establishment of a naval base at Singapore was first mooted by the British Government, but the people of this country felt that something additional should be done in order to insure the safety of Australia. But how do we now stand? A previous British Government went about the work of establishing this base in a thorough fashion, but only up to a certain point. When the present British Government came into power we heard very little of the project, and later Mr. Ramsay MacDonald told the world that the Government, of which he is the leader, intended to slow down on the job. Some may be of the opinion that the Singapore Naval Base was not kept in mind during the proceedings of the Washington Disarmament. Conference.
– It was.
– Yes, as I am going to show for the benefit of the Minister.
– We are all satisfied on that point.
– Yes, but some may forget it. The attitude of the British Government in slowing down on that work is not in keeping with the attitude of the delegates who attended that conference. At that conference consideration was given to the position of certain possessions in the Pacific, and the delegates deliberately came to certain conclusions as honorable senators will find on page 39 of the report of the conference, some of which I shall quote. One paragraph reads -
The United States, the British Empire and Japan agree that the status quo at the time of the signing of the present treaty with regard to fortifications and naval bases, shall be maintained in their respective territories and possessions specified hereunder.
Then the report goes on to specify the territories. The report then states-
Hong Kong and the insular possessions which the British Empire now holds or may hereafter acquire in the Pacific Ocean, east of the meridian of 110° east longtitude, except (a) those adjacent to the coast of Canada; (6) the Commonwealth of Australia and its territories; and (c) New Zealand.
Another paragraph reads -
The maintenance of the status quo under the foregoing provisions implies that no new fortifications or naval bases shall be established in the territories and possessions specified.
A study of the situation clearly shows that the longtitude of 110° east excludes Singapore and a portion of Borneo. As the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) has said, the construction of the Singapore Naval Base was considered by the delegates representing the powers at Washington, and it was thought that the work would be proceeded with. Tt was felt that its construction would not in any way assist in disturbing the peace of the world. Construction work has almost ceased, and as a Four-power Naval Disarmament Conference is about to be held in London, I think it only right that our representative at that conference (Mr. Fenton) should make known to the other delegates our position with respect to the Singapore Naval Base. He should insist, on behalf of the Commonwealth, upon its speedy construction as a further factor in insuring the safety of this great country.
If our representative does not do so lie will not be complying with the wish of a’ vast majority ‘of the Australian people. Those who study the position of this naval base, and its relation to Australia, will realize that, apart from the protection of the British Navy, nothing could be of greater assistance in safeguarding Australia than the completion of this important work. There is nothing associated with the project that is likely to endanger the world’s peace, or to disturb the friendly relations that now exist. The delegates at the “Washington Disarmament Conference; as I have said, considered this matter and conceded that the base should be completed. There does not appear to be much anxiety on the part of honorable senators opposite regarding this vital question; but the people of the country take it seriously. My purpose is to ventilate the matter. We must impress on the Government the necessity for its mouth-piece, now on the way to London, taking a firm stand in this matter. The records of the Washington Conference show that the completion of the Singapore Naval Base is as important as are the naval bases of the countries whose representatives attended the Washington Disarmament Conference. I hope that a cable will be despatched to Mr. Fenton, instructing him to take a firm stand in relation to the Singapore Naval Base. I want honorable senators who agree with me to be brave enough to say so. [Quorum formed]. I remind Senator James Patrick Digger Dunn, by royal letters patent, who drew attention to the lack of a quorum, that that game can be played only a few times. I saw two honorable senators on the Ministerial side walk out of the chamber, and then Senator James Patrick Digger Dunn, by royal letters patent, who probably was digging post holes for bridges, well behind the lines-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Plain). - The honorable senator must not express himself in such language. I call upon him to withdraw.
– I withdraw the expression. I was delighted to hear the brave warrior opposite me talking about his bravery! A brave warrior always talks about his bravery !
-Why didn’t you fight for Ireland?
– So far as Digger Dunn is concerned- >
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - I ask! the honorable senator to address the Chair.
– I must look up my history and see what royal letters patent can do for me. Long before Senator Dunn inflicted his person on the Senate, I dived to save a life, not to take one. That incident took place in the distant past, but it earned for me the award of the Royal Humane Society. Why cannot I be called Diver Lynch, by royal letters patent? How does Digger Dunn like the sound of “Diver Lynch”?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- The honorable senator must address himself to the question before the Chair.
– Mr. Fenton is now on his way to London. He ought to be able to make out a good case for the Singapore Naval Base being proceeded with on the ground that its completion is a vital necessity to our national safety. Why is it that, when other naval bases are being equipped, work on the Singapore Naval Base is held up by the British Labour Government? Throughout the country the question echoes and re-echoes - Why? Are the naval bases in Britain no longer to be retained ? The right honorable Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) told us what the President of the United States of America is doing for the defence of that country. Australia is defenceless; and the very spot from which would radiate the only power upon which we can depend is that where work has been brought to a standstill by the British Labour Government. I want the Federal Government to stand up to its job and do its work, that work being to cable to Mr. Fenton and tell him how vital the completion of the Singapore Naval Base is to Australia.
– I should not have spoken had it not been for some remarks made by Senator Dunn. It is evident that the Government is not desirous of terminating the debate today.
– The Government does not wish to curtail free and full discussion.
– Senator Dunn referred to the high esteem in which the Government is held by the people. It would be easy to quote from Nationalist and Country party publications, views of an entirely different character; but I shall not do so. Nor shall I attempt to express my own opinion of the Government, for if I set out to do so, I fear that before long I should be at variance with the Standing Orders which govern parliamentary language. What is the opinion of the Labour party’s own supporters as to the Government they have placed in power? Senator Sampson read a report expressing the views of the seamen of Australia. That body of men says that the Government has grossly betrayed them. A Labour journal has described the betrayal of the coal-miners by this Government as “ cowardly and callous.” The Labour party kept the coal-miners on strike longer than was necessary, urging them to stand out until a Labour government was in power in the Commonwealth. There will be many this Christmas who will be hungry in the coal-mining districts, because of the contemptible and cowardly action of the present Ministry.
– The honorable senator must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw any unparliamentary expression which I have used.
– The honorable senator must withdraw the words “ contemptible and cowardly “.
– I withdraw them. There has never been a more base betrayal of any body of men in Australia than the failure of the Government to fulfil its promise to the coal-miners that if a Labour government was returned the mines would be opened within a fortnight. There is not a member of the Ministry who is game to poke his nose into Newcastle, Cessnock, or Maitland, because of the cowardly and contemptible way the men have been betrayed.
– I take exception to the words used by thehonorable senator. I have said nothing to justify the honorable senator using such offensive language. He should have some regard for the dignity of the Senate.
– I previously desired the honorable senator to withdraw the two adjectives “ cowardly “ and “ contemptible “ ; but he has offended again. I ask him to withdraw those expressions particularly as they have now been declared by the Minister to be offensive to him.
– The point of order raised by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Daly) is not well taken. I had only got as far as “cowardly” and “contemptible “, but I had not referred to the Minister.
– Order ! I heard the honorable memberspeak of “The cowardly and contemptible action of the present Ministry “ and later something about a “ base betrayal “. Probably the latter expression was a quotation.
– I did withdraw the remark, so far as the Ministry was concerned ; but I was in the middle of another sentence in which I was about to say that the coal-miners had been treated in a cowardly and contemptible way by some candidates at the recent election. I withdraw the remark so far as it applies to the Ministry. I do not wish them to be taken as applying to Senator Daly, for I believe that, as an individual, he would not stoop to the depths that some of the candidates for election did.
– If the honorable senator will accept my advice, he will tone down his remarks.
– I shall accept your advice, Mr. President, for I know that you will advise me only for my good. I was about to say that labour organizations throughout Australia feel that they have been betrayed by the Government which they placed in power. Resolution after resolution has been carried on the coalfields deploring the non-fulfilment of the Government’s promise that it would reopen the mines in fourteen days. Another attack on the present Government has recently been launched by a number of Broken Hill unionists. In this morning’s Sydney Morning Herald the following appears : -
By BrokenHill Unionists.
Broken Hill, Thursday. “Scorn and loathing” of the action of the Federal Labour party in the coal crisis was expressed at a meeting of the W.I.U. at the Trades Hall. The meeting passed a resolution charging the Government with having “ burgled their way into the House over the backs of the coal miners,” and with having “ played the part of servile and cringing cowards “ by refusing to honour their pledge to reopen the mines, though financially assisted out of the coffers of the Miners’ Federation.
Another resolution deprecated the action of the Sydney Labour Council in endeavouring to take the control of the fight away from the Miners Federation, especially in view of the recent failures of industrial fights handled by the council.
What would you say to me, Mr. President, if I used those words? In this chamber I should not be permitted to say that they had played the part of servile and cringing cowards; yet the resolution passed by a number of trade unionists at Broken Hill - men who supported the Government because they expected that it would fulfil its promises - contains those words. Those who now sit on the comfortable plush seats of the ministerial bench are willing to let those who supported them “go hang.” Senator Dunn would have us believe that the people who placed the Government in office hold it in high esteem. I have shown that they regard the Government as servile and cringing cowards. There is a reaction throughout the country against the Government because of its inactivity and the non-fulfilment of its promises. The Government has no intention of carrying them out. It is now rushing into the quiet of recess because it fears the wrath of the people. That sort of thing, however, is not going to save the Government from the wrath of the people, or from the justice that will be meted out to them by this Senate. I hope that it will not be very long before this Government, which has been described by its former supporters as servile and cringing cowards, will be brought to book by the people of Australia.
– I am rather sorry that the debate on this measure has deteriorated during the last hour. Prior to that, I was rather interested in certain advice tendered by the Opposition. I suppose that there is some excuse for people who are rather disappointed because the present Government has not been wrecked as quickly as they imagined that it would be. I suppose that that is the real reason behind Senator Foil’s attack on the Government. It is a most remarkable thing that Senator Foll should laud to the skies certain people who are criticizing this Government for adhering, as they say, too closely to the ideals of Nationalism. If what the Workers Industrial Union and other bodies have said is correct, one would naturally conclude that that furnished a reason why honorable senators opposite should compliment the Government.
– I would compliment the Government if there was any reason to do so.
– I should imagine that the honorable senator would be only too eager to offer congratulations to any government that got so near to his ideals of Nationalism.
– I do not wish to see the honorable senator and his Government betray the people who put them into office.
– The honorable senator need never be afraid of the Labour party betraying the people.
– It has already done so.
– The Labour party has not betrayed anybody. It was elected to power upon a definite pledge and platform.
– A pledge to open the coal-mines within a fortnight.
– At no stage of its existence did the Labour party promise to open the coal-mines. It attempted to open them, and did more than any previous Government did to bring about peace in that industry. Unfortunately, it did not secure the co-operation necessary to make its efforts effective. The dispute would have been settled at the first conference, had all parties concerned in the dispute been imbued with the same ideals and aspirations as the Labour party, and the men would have been working to-day.
– The Assistant Minister for Labour (Mr. Beasley) said that he favoured a general strike.
– I do not know where the honorable senator obtains his extraordinary information from. Mr. Beasley did not say that h’e favoured’ ;a general strike. The’ matter to which’ Senator Foll referred had nothing to do with a coal strike. ‘ It was a lockout; No matter from which angle one views the position, one must conclude that the miners were locked out.
– Then why did not the Government prosecute John Brown?
– Because the Labour party refuses to practise that which it does not preach. Its policy is against all penal provisions in an industrial code, and in the administration of that policy it does not discriminate as did the Bruce-Page Government in its administration of the law. That is one reason why John Brown has not been prosecuted.
– A very lame reason.
– It might have been considered a lame reason in the days when Senator Pearce was a member of the Labour party.
– Does the honorable senator say that the present Government is going to take all the penal clauses out of the Industrial Arbitration Act ?
– The policy on which this Government was returned to power favours a repeal of the penal provisions of the Arbitration Act.
– It is a pity that the Government did not bring down an amending bill for that purpose this session.
– Ever since it was elected to power the Government has been working at high pressure. It has no desire to tinker with this legislation, which needs serious consideration in order that the details of the scheme may be worked out. I assure Senator Foll it will be introduced in the near future. I hope that, with the assistance of himself and other honorable senators opposite, the Government will be able to introduce a better system of arbitration than that which now exists; a system which will not permit the occurrence of such a position as that now obtaining in New South Wales. I hope that Senator Foll will assist the Government to pass a bill which will prevent that which happened on the northern coal-fields.
– That matter did not come within the province of the Federal Arbitration Act.
– I trust that we sholl be able, to enact legislation that will pre-r vent an employer from engaging men at rates below those prescribed by the Arbitration Act, and that even the Premier of a State will not be permitted to open coal mines and work them at reduced rates.
– The present Prime Minister advised the men to follow their leaders.
– The Prime Minister advised an agreement, which was never arrived at. Se did not ask the Premier of New South Wales or anybody else to open up the Rothbury coal mine under the conditions proposed by Mr. Bavin, the Premier of New South Wales.
– I understood that the honorable senator was not in favour of compulsion.
– I would favour a compulsory time limit on the speeches of some honorable senators. I presume that Senator H. E. Elliott refers to the subject of compulsory military training.
– No, compulsory arbitration.
– The honorable senator has an unfortunate obsession, that of compulsory military training. I assure him that I will devote at least three minutes of my reply to that subject.
Evidently Senator. Foll has been misinformed. At all times it has been the policy of this Government to endeavour to effect a settlement of the coal-mining dispute. Nobody was more disappointed than the Government when negotiations broke down. The mines would have been opened in a fortnight, had the Prime Minister of this country received the support pf all concerned in the dispute.
Regarding the matter raised by Senator Cooper, I am able to inform him that the Treasury officials indicate that the announcement contained in the financial statement is quite correct, and that the effective rate of interest will be as described in that statement, namely, £5 lis.
– The Telegraph of the 22nd November last stated that the issue was quoted at £94 12s. 6d. in London.
– I am not concerned with that. The Treasury has confirmed what appears in the financial statement on the matter. That will be the actual cost to the Australian public.
I assure Senator Sampson that there was no gross betrayal in connexion with the Navigation Act. Unfortunately, some honorable senators appear always to fasten on to statements that detrimentally affect that Government, and neglect to read the other side of the case.
– Senator Sampson based his statement on the reply that the honorable senator gave to Senator E. B. Johnston.
– That reply was perfectly accurate and it does not amount to a gross betrayal of Tasmania by this Government. The policy of the Government has never altered in regard to the Navigation Act, and it has never been kept a secret. This party does not stow away its platform in a secret vault. It circulates it, also its pledges, and they are available to the public. Even the report of the proceedings of its annual conference is made public and may be seen by honorable senators in the parliamentary library.
Regarding Senator Pearce’s contentions about migration, I reiterate what I said on the Address-in-Reply, that our normal migration, when the Commonwealth Government entered into the £34,000,000 agreement with the British Government, was 30,000 migrants per annum. The then Prime Minister, Mr. Bruce, and Sir Victor Wilson agreed with the British Government to speed it up to something like 40,000. In return, Great Britain was to give us the equivalent of about £15 per migrant. It pays not the £75, but the equivalent of ten years’ interest based on a two-fifths proportion of the interest on the £75 loan. We, on our part, were to pay £12 passage money and guarantee that for every £75 advanced we. would absorb one migrant. It was really the intention of the British Government that the scheme should be used for the * purpose of land settlement and it is to be regretted that the Bruce-Page Government failed to co-operate with the States to compel the rich land-owners to unlock their lands. Honorable senators have complained that the fall in wool and wheat production is due to drought conditions. I could take them to the south-east of South Australia, which has had its usual rainfall, and prove that there are less sheep to the acre in that country than there were 25 years ago. Men have amassed wealth from those properties and are content to hold them incompletely stocked: The Bruce-Page Government should have co-operated with the State Governments and opened up those landlocked estates, in order to establish a proper system of land settlement. That Government was greeted with a fanfare of trumpets and lauded to the skies for having obtained £34,000,000 of cheap British money. Australia never got a penny from the British Government. We agreed to raise the £34,000,000, and to pay £12 passage money for each migrant. The British Government was to pay two-fifths of the interest on the £75 advance for each migrant over a period of ten years, and then the lot was to fall back on Australia. I made it quite clear that the Development and Migration Comission did some excellent developmental work, but that it failed to keep within the absorption responsibilities, for the reason that it was impossible to do so.
I now come to Senator H. E. Elliott’s obsession, compulsory military training. One minute the honorable senator tells the Government that he is anxious to help it in its defence policy; in the next he begins to malign, not only the Minister for Defence, but certain officials. I advise the honorable senator to read his own speeches in Hansard, and to ask himself whether he really would not be the most disappointed man in Australia if the voluntary system were to succeed. If he answered that question conscientiously he would feel compelled to resign from his present position, and make way for somebody more enthusiastic over Labour’s defence policy. I urge him to do his duty and cease criticizing the voluntary system of military training. Instead, lie should do what he can to make it a success. The Labour party has no fear so far as Australia is concerned. Labour had an adequate system of defence when it was previously in power. It has been blamed for not consulting generals and colonels. I point out that it told the people that if it were returned to power it did not intend to conscript youths who have not a vote. The Government said that it would repeal the compulsory clauses of the Defence Act. When it was returned to power the annual camps were just coming on, and it did the only thing possible under the circumstances. I trust that, within the next few months, the Senate will be able to pass a law which will render the compulsory system inoperative for the future. The honorable senator spoke of aviation and about the expense of providing bright uniforms. I ask him to note what it has cost Australia for defence since the war, and to read General Chauvel’s criticism of our forces, and then ask himself whether the results achieved are worth the £64,000,000 we have spent. The Government is determined to cut out a lot of the wilful waste which Senator H. E. Elliott would probably uphold. It will be time to criticize us when we have had time to bring the voluntary policy into operation.
Another statement made by the honorable senator was that the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) was in agreement with the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) that compulsory arbitration was an absolute failure. I was not aware that Mr. Bruce had said that compulsory arbitration was an absolute failure. He may have thought it, but he was not game to say it. Since the election some of his supporters in this chamber have produced documents and challenged the supporters of the Government with wilfully distorting the facts in saying that the ex-Prime Minister was opposed to compulsory arbitration, yet Senator H. E. Elliott would now have us believe that the present Prime Minister and the ex-Prime Minister have both stated that compulsory arbitration is an absolute failure. .
– Mr. Bruce said that he believed in something better than a compulsory arbitration system. /Senator Daly.
– That better system was apparently the round-table system by which the weaker party at the table is soundly kicked on the shins. The Labour party believes in a system which will make round-table conferences of more effect.
– Do the members of the Labour party take off their boots when they meet in conference so that they will not kick each other?
– They may have done so in the honorable senator’s day; but there is no need for it to-day. All those precautions are unnecessary now that we have a pure and wholesome party. However, I do not wish to hurt any one’s feelings, and I should not have said that at this late stage of our proceedings.
On an appropriation bill, Ministers are usually the cockshy for every charge that can conceivably be raked up, but the complaints that have been made to-day have been of a very mild character. I think that that was what Senator Lynch must have felt when he had to bring out an atlas in an endeavour to restore the Singapore Base.
– My complaint is that the Government is not doing anything.
– Not doing anything! Did not honorable senators opposite tell us yesterday that the Government had passed one of the most serious measures in the history of Australia? Was that nothing? That measure was so important that the Senate said it was not prepared to bring about a deadlock between the two houses and risk shelving it. It is a measure designed to put the finances of Australia on a proper and scientific basis.
– The amendments made by the Senate were responsible for that.
– The honorable senator is quite welcome to all the satisfaction he can get out of that. But he differs from his leader who threw On the Government the full responsibility for the measure, and disclaimed any credit for it. To make assurance doubly sure, I asked the right honorable gentleman to adhere to his attitude because in the past ether parties have taken credit for the best legislation that Labour has placed on the statute-book.
– We shall not claim credit for that bill.
– I intend to ask the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) to make the same statement before we put our imprimatur on any piece of legislation we introduce.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In committee :
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
First schedule agreed to.
Proposed vote, £23,258,064.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [5.27]. - I understand that the Government has announced its intention to consider the advisability of amalgamating the air forces with the civil aviation department, but I urge Ministers to hesitate before taking steps to do so. A pilot who is to be of any service in war must be trained to take risks; he has to do stunts and evolutions that are the very reverse of what a civilian pilot should attempt. The civilian pilot’s training is entirely different. He is trained not to take risks. He must follow the line of “ safety first “ in the carriage of mails and passengers. Those lines could not be followed by a man training to be a defence pilot. He must be prepared to take the air knowing that he is expected to take a risk. For that reason young men who do not see danger are chosen, whereas the men who are entrusted with the carriage of mails and passengers by air are those who can see danger and learn to avoid it.
.- I regret that the vote for Northern Australia has been reduced by £10,000. The attention of the previous Government was frequently drawn to the niggardly treatment of this part of Australia, better known as the Northern Territory. Little or nothing of a developmental nature has been done in North Australia, despite the criticism levelled at the previous Government by members of this Ministry, and its supporters. A considerable amount of pioneering work has been done by the North Australia Commis sion, which was appointed by the previous Government. Railway surveys and plans for other works, including wellsinking along stock routes, have been put in hand. All these works seem to be held up, because of the reduction in the vote, and people who would have been employed in that part of Australia will be obliged to return to the southern States to swell the ranks of our unemployed. I have no doubt that Senator Daly and his South Australian colleagues, Senators O’Halloran and Hoare, are better informed as to the position in Central and North Australia than are other honorable senators, and I am sure they will realize how necessary it is to proceed with a continuous policy of development. The previous Government closed down work on the railway extension from Katherine, and we gathered from the criticism then offered, that had Labour been in power the line would have been extended to Mataranka. I regret very much that expenditure on a number of important works is being curtailed, especially in view of the fact that within the last few years, improved administrative machinery has been devised for the development of North and Central Australia. I trust that the Government will, in the near future, take steps to carry out all those developmental proposals that have been planned to encourage settlement in that part of the Commonwealth.
Second schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and sessional orders suspended, and bill passed through all its stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Senator Daly) agreed to -
That leave of absence be granted to every member of the Senate from the determination of the sitting this day to the day on which the Senate next meets.
Motion (by Senator Daly) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till a day and hour to be fixed by the President, which time of meeting shall be notified to each senator by telegram or letter.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I take this opportunity, Mr. President, on behalf of the Senate to convey to you the season’s greetings. Political partisanship is overlooked and feuds forgotten, as we approach the Christmas season, and our thoughts turn to the ideal of the King of Kings - On earth peace, goodwill toward men. I am sure that I am voicing the sentiments of every honorable senator in extending to you, sir, our Christmas greetings. I trust that you may enjoy to the full all that the festive season means to us, and I hope that when we re-assemble in the New Year you will still be blessed with health and strength to preside over this chamber with that impartiality which has distinguished your occupancy of the chair. I also extend similar greetings to the members of the Hansard staff and the other staffs, as well as to the representatives of the press in this chamber. I can assure you, sir, that you will always have from the supporters and members of the Government in the Senate the assistance we have endeavoured to give you during the session, and I trust that the happy relations which have existed between you, sir, and all of us ever since you have occupied the presidential chair, will continue.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Westtern Australia) [5.46]. - I desire, Mr. President, to associate myself with the remarks of the Minister (Senator Daly) in regard to yourself. We also extend our best wishes to the Chairman of Committees, who I am sure the Minister intended to include-
– Hear, hear!
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.As well as to Hansard and other officers of the House. Although the VicePresident of the Executive Council may have thought honorable senators on this side of the chamber at times somewhat unreasonable in their attitude towards the Government, I can assure him that it was nothing to what it will be later on. I hope that during the Christmas vacation he will derive some comfort from the fact that in his new office he has had only a taste of what is likely to happen. On behalf of honorable senators on this side of the chamber, I wish, specially, to congratulate Senator Daly upon the manner in which he, as Leader of the Government in this chamber, has conducted the business of the Senate.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear!
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.We all recognize that he has had a very hard time, and that his task has been greater than ever during the last few days, owing to the illness of his colleague, Senator Barnes. Our hope is that the Assistant Minister (Senator Barnes) will soon be restored to normal health.
– I am sorry that Senator Foll, the Opposition Whip, is temporarily absent from the chamber, as, in view of the approaching Christmas season, I should like, as Government Whip, to intimate to him that a little incident which occurred a short time ago will, so far as I am concerned, be forgotten. I hope we shall still be friends.
– I thank the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator Daly), the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) and honorable senators generally, very heartily for the extremely kind expressions of good will which they have tendered to me. Permit me to say that it is not I who should be thanked but honorable senators generally who have borne with me during the sort of trial run that we so far have had.
– It has been only a preliminary.
– Exactly. I am treating it in that way and regarding it only as an earnest of what may come later on. I thank honorable senators generally for the kind wishes they have expressed concerning the approaching festive season, and desire heartily to reciprocate them. The relations which have existed between us all have been such that it will be a real delight and something to look forward to, for me to meet you all again. I wish honorable senators the compliments of the season, and thank them for their kind wishes.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Daly) if honorable senators are to be supplied with a complete schedule showing the items in which alterations in customs duties have been made?
– For several days I have had a question on the notice-paper relating to the removal of the embargo upon the importation of certain literature, but it has not yet been officially answered. I thought it would be of interest to some honorable senators to know that the Prime Minister personally has assured me that the embargo is to be removed, and that the people of Australia will now be free to read what they wish.
– I made inquiries from the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Fenton) concerning the point raised by Senator Carroll, and he informed me that the procedure usually followed in con.nexion with tariff schedules will be adhered to when the revised duties are under consideration in this chamber.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 5.51 p.m. till a day and hour to he’ fixed by the President.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 December 1929, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1929/19291213_senate_12_122/>.