12th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. W. Kingsmill) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Leader of the Senate aware that unemployment has increased since the introduction of the tariff? If so, what does the Government propose to do about it?
– Unfortunately, unemployment is increasing, but the Government is convinced that, but for the new tariff schedules, this evil would be much greater.
- by leave. - In reply to a question in another place the Prime Minister will today make the following statement in regard to the London Naval Treaty -
The only available copy of the London Naval Treaty hae been placed on the table of the library for the information of honorable members. Before the ‘treaty U ratified in respect of the Commonwealth Parliament will be given an opportunity to express its opinion in regard to it.
Aw asds by Film Appeal Board. Senator ‘ Sir HAL COLEBATCH asked the Minister representing the Min’ister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Regarding the recent competition for prizes offered by the Commonwealth Government for Australian-made picture films -
On what Basis were points allotted in determining the order of merit?
What was the maximum number of points obtainable under each heading?
What was the number of points secured under each heading by each of the two pictures placed respectively first and second by the adjudicators ?
– The information will he obtained.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs -
– The information will be obtained.
Attempted Assassination of Lord Strickland
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
Flight of Miss Amy Johnson
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
Does the Government propose to make a monetary grant to Miss Amy Johnson in recognition of her epic solo flight from England, to Australia?
– The Government has not considered the making of a monetary grant, and I refer the honorable senator to the Prime Minister’s statement on the subject yesterday in reply to a question in another place.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 21st May (vide page 1948), on motion by Senator Daly -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [10.7]. - The proposals embodied in the bill and the increasein the excise duty on spirits for the fortification of wine represent additional taxation. The proceeds of the extra impost on wine consumers will not be paid into the Treasury, but will be distributed amongst a small section of the community. The principle involved should be seriously considered by the Senate before it approves of this measure. Such is the state of the Commonwealth finances that heavier taxation is almost certain, and if the excise duty on spirit used for the fortification of wine is to be handed over to a section of the community, to that extent taxation for ordinary public purposes must be increased. The last Government originally offered a bounty of 4s. per gallon. Although I was a member of that Ministry, I freely admit that that bounty was a serious blunder, because it stimulated the export of wine to such an extent that the overseas market was glutted, and created for the industry in Australia an artificial and unhealthy prosperity. I am not convinced that in retracing our steps, in an endeavour to rectify the blunder, we went to the other extreme. The bounty of1s. was certainly a considerable reduction on that of 1924, but it is unwise artificially to stimulate industries above their normal capacity at such a depressed time as the present. Practically every industry is now on a bread-and-butter basis; and the bounty of1s. left the wine industry on that level. If the industry is to flourish it will not be because of a bounty, but because of the adoption of efficient methods of production and marketing. That cannot be done by an increased bounty. It must be remembered that in addition to the bounty .paid by the Commonwealth Government, our wine industry receives the benefit of preferential tariff treatment in the United Kingdom. I submit that the payment of a bounty of ls. 9d. would re-introduce the feverish and artificial conditions that resulted from the 1924 bounty, particularly as the British preferential tariff is superimposed upon any assistance granted by the Commonwealth.
The principle of British preferential tariff treatment to Empire goods has to be regarded from an Empire point of view. Nobody can be blind to the fact that it is in a somewhat precarious position. The views of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Philip Snowden, in regard to tariff matters are well known. I do not think that I am doing that gentleman an injustice when I say that he is anything but friendly to British preferential treatment being ex tended to the Dominions. Mr. Snowden has indicated in his budget speeches that if he were untrammelled by other considerations, he would willingly sweep away such preferential treatment. That being so, we should be doubly careful when proposing further to assist an industry that enjoys preference under the British tariff. South Africa is a producer of wines which come into competition with those of Australia on the British market, and are subject to similar preferential treatment in Great Britain. The attitude of South Africa in this matter must undoubtedly be affected by our policy of substantially assisting wine production vn Australia by generous bounties. I have here au extract from the Argus of the 10th of this month which is worthy of consideration. It reads -
Criticism of the bounty paid on Australian sweet wines exported, was made by the chairman of Vino Products Ltd. (Sir Reginald H. Blade) at the annual meeting of that company held in London. He referred to the trade in Dominion wines conducted by the company, and said that the South African interests of the company were developing satisfactorily. The progress made in the sale of Empire wines would have been greater had the market not been influenced by the surplus stock of Australian wines which had not been cleared up since the heavy inrush of supplies when the bounty on wine was first decreased in 1027. The heavy surplus had resulted in’ forced sales of Australian wines, which had depressed the market. “The export bounty given by the Australian Government,” said Sir Reginald Brade, “ changes with the wind or with the change of Government, I am not sure which. In any case, far from being beneficial to the Australian wine industry it has proved detrimental. It has had the effect of lowering the prestige of Australian fortified wines, so that, instead of competing in a profitable field against medium quality ports and other Continental fortified wines, they now rank with those of lower price and strength.” He pointed out that the vagaries in the export bounty had involved London merchants and companies in loss and had tended to discredit the whole trade in Empire wines. He suggested that the preference given to Empire wines was being lost to other Dominions by the action of Australia, which, in granting a bounty on exports, was practically cancelling the preference given by Great Britain to South Africa and Cyprus. Sir Reginald Brade praised the quality and . careful marketing of South African wines and predicted that eventually they would secure the foremost place among Dominion wines sold in Great Britain.
South African wines go on to the British market without the assistance of a bounty. I contend that the payment of a bounty specifically to assist our wines to be placed on the British market in competition with those from another Dominion, prejudices our claim for a continuance of preferential treatment under the United Kingdom tariff. We should be wary how we proceed, lest we add to the already appreciable number in Great Britain who are hostile to the policy of preferential treatment to Australian products. The Senate should carefully consider whether the proposal to increase the bounty by 9d. would not accentuate the glut of our wines on the British market brought about by the 1924 bounty. I was unable to find any reference in the speech of the
Vice-President of the Executive Council to that phase of the matter.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.It is not clear to me that the surplus of Australian wines in Great Britain has been disposed of.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.I have not seen any figures to indicate that they are less. It is extremely likely that we shall restore that glut if we again stimulate Australian export by the proposed bounty. I shall read a couple of extracts on the subject from the press, which is the only source of information at my disposal. Unlike the Minister, I have not access to departmental statistics. These extracts give rise to some doubts, in my mind. The. first is taken from the West Australian of the 12th February last, and reads -
A South Australian estimate places the
Australian vintage at 18,000,000 gallons in the current season. This compares with a yield of about 18,400,000last season, and the record production of 20,433,416 gallons in 1927. No prices for grapes in 1930 have yet been announced, and viticulturists are looking to the Federal Ministry to fix prices whichwill enable wine-makers to maintain trade with London. That will be difficult unless grape prices are fixed on a conservative basis. Australia is already overstocked with wine, as about 19,000,000 gallons were hold on.June 30 last, compared with a normal stock of about 9,000.000 gallons. So far the Wine Overseas Marketing Board has not been in active operation, but this has been due to some defect in the legislation under which it was constituted. Many growers and winemakers hold the opinion that the only solution of their difficulties is the limitation of production. The 1930 vintage, on present indications, will probably yield about 4,500,000 gallons of wine for export, and at present there are no overseas markets to take this quantity. Although the British market for Australian wines has improved somewhat in the last year, it is, nevertheless, at present incapable of taking more than about 2,500,000 gallons a year from Australia, while stocks in London amount to almost 2,225,000 gallons.
I cannot guarantee the correctness of those figures, but as they have appeared in the press and have not been contested, I think we can take it that they are correct.
Though the new arrangements for the export of Australian wines to London are approved there, it is pointed out that the glut of wines in Great Britain makes the marketing of our sweet varieties at satisfactory prices rather difficult.
Old stocks of Australian wines in London, however, have been reduced. The total in bond a month ago was 1,080,000 gallons less than in 1928, and 383,000 gallons below the 1929 figure.
I suggest to Senator McLachlan that that statement does not indicate that the February surplus of 2,225,000 gallons has been substantially reduced. The article continues -
Widely divergent estimates are being received in London. The Times Trade Supplement states, of this year’s vintage. Some time ago an estimate of 18,000,000 gallons was made, but lack of rain and extreme heat have since altered the outlook. The recent heat wave is said to have reduced by twenty per cent. the crop from the great vineyard area on the Murray River irrigation settlements. The non-irrigated areas of South Australia escaped this visitation. Latest estimates place the crop at 15,000,000 gallons, a decrease of about 3,000,000 gallons. Favorable rains, however, should reduce the decrease by 1,500,000 gallons.
Those figures arc sufficiently disturbing to raise a doubt as to whether, as a result of increased export brought about by the additional bounty, there will not bean accentuation of the glut that has existed in London ever since the bounty was fixed at 4s. a gallon. The position has had a detrimental effect upon Australian wine, and it is arousing resentment in South Africa by reason of the fact that our industry, which is assisted by way of a bounty, receives on the British market preferential treatment equal to that accorded to South African wine, which is produced without the aid of a bounty, and is thus at a disadvantage in competing with us. All the indications point to the assumption that it would have been safer and better, and more in accord with our economic conditions to-day, if the Government had allowed the bounty to remain at ls. a gallon. The secret of our economic difficulties is that we have been living on too high a plane, by reason of the high prices that we have been receiving from two of our staple products; that the State Governments have been borrowing extravagantly; and that the rest of the world has come down to a lower plane. Our rate of living must decrease in accordance with those economic facts. The wine industry and every other industry must be adjusted to meet the altered conditions. This is the wrong time to restore, by an additional bounty, the artificial conditions that were created by the excessive bounty given under the 1924 act.
Another point to which I wish to draw attention is the extraordinary proposal made by the bill with respect to labour conditions in the wine industry.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.That is so. It is a most extraordinary proposal. For the first time in our bounty legislation an applicant for a bounty is to be compelled to go right back to the genesis of the production of his manufacture. It is for the Senate to say whether it accepts or rejects that principle. I submit that if we attempt to do what is proposed we shall land ourselves in difficulties from which we shall not be able to extricate ourselves. The manufacturer of the wine is not the person who makes the fortifying spirit, or grows the grapes. Yet he is to be responsible for finding out whether those who planted the vines, or picked the grapes, or conveyed them to the winery, were paid fair and reasonable wages as determined by a judge of the Arbitration Court. He has, moreover, to accept the responsibility of ascertaining whether those who grew the grapes from which the fortifying spirit was made, or were engaged in any of the processes associated with the manufacture of that fortifying spirit, were paid reasonable wages. This is an attempt, under cover of a bounty on exported wine, to bring in a code of labour regulation, and to make it apply to rural industries. The tendency in Australia to-day, as has been made clear in New South Wales and Queensland, is to free rural industries from the burden of labour regulations. This legislation, if passed, will operate in Queensland and New South Wales, in which States it has been decided that rural awards which have been found to hamper the development of rural industries, shall be removed. While purporting to provide only a bounty on wine, this bill will restore those conditions. In addition to increasing the bounty to what I believe a dangerous extent, the Government is attempting to re-shackle those industries with conditions from which they have recently escaped.
Senator CHAPMAN (South Australia) fl0.36] . - The right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) has spoken of the effect which this bounty will have on industry in the various stages of wine production. It, therefore, seems necessary to recall what has happened in connexion with the industry. After the end of the war the several governments of Australia placed numbers of returned soldiers on fruit-growing blocks and compelled them to plant wine producing grapes. A large sum of Government money was expended in that direction. When the blocks came into production a glut occurred because the Australian market was not sufficiently large to consume all the wine that was produced. It was realized that, unless something was done, the soldiers and other settlers engaged in wine production would be ruined, the price of land would depreciate, and the governments would lose large sums of money. In order to meet that situation the Bruce-Page Government introduced legislation to provide for bounty on wine exported from Australia.
Originally, the bounty was 4s. a gallon. The granting of the bounty resulted not only in those settlers remaining solvent, but also in millions of pounds being brought to Australia as the proceeds of the wine which was exported. I am not concerned now whether or not the bounty has at times been too high or too low ; I believe that some exporters of wine did exceedingly well out of the bounty. I vigorously opposed the reduction of the bounty to1s. a gallon, and predicted that it would lead to trouble. Every member of the Labour party in this Parliament voted against that reduction, desiring that the bounty should remain at1s. 9d. During the election campaign before last I addressed a meeting at Clare, one of the main wine-growing districts of South Australia. The views that I then placed before the electors I still hold. I explained to them the Paterson butter scheme, and suggested that if the Government would not increase the bounty on wine to1s. 9d. a gallon in order that the surplus production could be exported, the industry itself should be subjected to a levy. I fully explained the Paterson butter scheme, and said that a levy on similar lines should be made in order to dispose of the surplus stocks of wine. My remarks were fully reported in the local press, and were circulated widely among the growers, who afterwards carried a resolution calling on the Government to put the scheme into operation. I regret that the last Government went out of office before it arrived at a decision on the matter. I went to Sydney to place the position before representatives of the Government, and it was still under consideration when the new Government assumed office. Representations were immediately made to the new Government for an increased bounty, and, later, it was announced that an increase of 6d. would be made. The wine-makers and grape-growers were very pleased indeed, and I congratulated the Labour Government upon its action, which would help materially in disposing of the export surplus. Honorable senators, however, can imagine my horror when a few days later it was announced that an extra excise charge of 5s. a gallon would be imposed upon the fortifying spirit. Grape- growers and wine-makers became immediately concerned, and there was a general outcry. It was evident that the Government proposed to take from the industry more than it was giving. The outcry was somewhat modified a few days later, however, by a further announcement that the bounty would be increased by 9d. a gallon, and that the money raised by the extra excise charge would be paid into a special fund. The increased excise has been a matter of grave concern, particularly to the wine-makers, because they fear it will have a prejudicial effect upon local consumption. Many representations, I believe, have been made to the Government on the matter, but time alone can show what the actual effect will be.
– Some say that the charge will not be passed on, while others assert that the public will have to pay .
– There is no justification for passing it on.
– It has been said that unduly large amounts have been paid by way of bounty on wine exported, but it must be remembered that the excise charge on the industry has much more than paid the bounty. Bounty rates up to 1928 were as follow: -
The actual amounts paid away by way of bounty have been as follow: -
Thus, when the bounty was reduced to 1s. a gallon, only £76,454 was paid in one year on wine exported. From the 1st of July, 1929, to the 31st of January, 1930, the amount paid by way of bounty was £51,311. The quantity of wine cleared for home consumption in England has been given by the Minister as follows: -
Included in these yearly quantities was 500,000 gallons of dry wine, on which no export bounty is paid. During the three years imports exceeded clearances by 276,950 gallons. During the same period stocks of Australian wine in Britain fell from 3,000,000 gallons to 1,958,000 gallons, which represents practically one year’s normal consumption. These figures bear out the estimate that the average consumption of Australian wine in Britain is about 2,000,000 gallons. Most of the fortified sweet wine we export goes to Great Britain; the market for it elsewhere is negligible.
– It is not of much use exporting 4,500,000 gallons to Great Britain if the normal consumption there is only 2,000,000 gallons.
– It is not intended to export 4,500,000 gallons. The market had previously been glutted, because it had been announced that the bounty was to be reduced, and large stocks were rushed away.
– Is it not estimated that the exportable surplus will be 4,500,000 gallons?
– There is an export control board which will regulate the placing of Australian wines on the British market. The position as it stood before this bill was introduced, was, that if the average amount exported was 2,000,000 gallons, the bounty paid at ls. a gallon would be £100,000 per annum. If we compare that amount with other bounties paid it will be found that the amount is not large.
– Is not the industry paying the whole of the bounty?
– The excise collected is more than sufficient to pay the bounty, and the drawback on excise as well. As I have stated, on an exportable surplus of 2,000,000 gallons a bounty nf ls. a gallon amounts to £100,000, and a drawback on excise of ls. 3d. a gallon amounts to £125,000, making a total of drawback on excise and bounty £225,000. The average excise collected over a period of five years ‘ has been £354,994 per annum, and the Minister has said that during the next five years that amount will probably b<3 greater, because it is anticipated that the
Australian people will consume more wine and less spirit of high alcoholic strength such as whisky and brandy. A fairly large sum is represented in deferred excise which, although not included in the figures I have quoted, should be taken into account. We can therefore assume that the average excise annually collected is £354,000, and the drawback and bounty £225,000, thus leaving on the basis of an average exportable surplus of 2,000,000 gallons, £129,994 more than the drawback and the bounty.
The Leader of the Opposition referred to the position in South Africa. I understand that no other country imposes an excise duty on wine, and consequently the wine manufacturers in France, Spain and Portugal, where no such duty is imposed, have a great advantage over Australia in selling thenwines in Great Britain. In order to give honorable senators an idea of the excise charge on this industry I may state that Mr. Penfold Hyland, of South Australia, who is a recognized authority on this subject, has stated that one ton of grapes will produce 30 gallons of fortifying spirit, and as the proposed excise on such spirit is to be 10s. per gallon, the excise duty on the produce of that quantity of grapes will be £15. Speaking from memory, I think that the price fixed for doradillo grapes is £5 15s. a ton, so that the excise duty on the spirit produced from grapes worth £5 15s. would be about £15. In these circumstances it is difficult for this primary industry to satisfactorily dispose of its produce in the markets of the world. Owing to the high cost of production in Australia, primary producers are finding it very difficult to profitably market their product without assistance, but industries receiving assistance have not to bear the heavy excise impost which this industry is compelled to pay. I have already stated that during the five years period which ended in 1929 the average annual revenue received from excise imposts on spirit used for the fortifying of wine was £354,992. The acting Minister for Customs (Mr. Forde) in introducing this measure in another place stated that the increase in the bounty from ls. to ls. 9d. a gallon was to be provided by raising the excise duty on spirit used for the fortification of wines. In making that statement, I presume the Acting Minister was giving the considered opinion of the Government, and I cannot think that he intended to mislead the growers and those engaged in the industry. This bill provides for something totally different, as the whole of the ls. 9d. is to be paid from the proposed excise charge. The previous Government paid a bounty of ls. n gallon from Consolidated Revenue.
– “Which it should not have done.
– The industry contributed more than ls. in the way of excise.
– The consumers paid that.
– The Minister said that this charge would not be passed on to the consumers.
– But we know that it will be.
– “When the previous Government proposed to reduce the bounty from ls. 9d. to ls., which was paid from the revenue then collected, Senator Hoare and other honorable senators opposite protested, but now they have altogether changed their tune.
– The financial position has changed it.
– I have seen the light.
– If the ls. a gallon previously provided from the revenue were still provided from that source, there would be no need to impose such a heavy excise duty. I am disappointed that the Government has not followed the practice of the previous Government in this respect.
I propose to discuss for a few moments the new trust fund it is intended to create. We have been informed that the old rate of excise of 5s. a gallon on spirit made from doradillos and 6s. a gallon on spirit made from other grapes averaged a little more than 5s. a gallon, but, owing to the expected increase in production, it is estimated that the receipts from the new rate of 5s. will be about the same as the receipts under the previous arrangement. The average amount of excise duty collected on wine annually for the last five years was £354,000. A reasonable esti- mate of our export of wine for the coming year is 2,000,000 gallons. The drawback on this, at ls. Id. per gallon, will amount to £108,000, and the bounty, at ls. 9d a gallon, will amount to £175,000, making £283,000 in all. If this amount were deducted from the average annual excise collection of £354,000 an amount of £81,000 would be left in the fund to provide extra bounty. I urge, therefore, that the Government should pay ls. a gallon towards the bounty from the revenue previously charged as the previous Government did, and reduce the new excise duty from 5s. to 4s. a gallon. I object to the whole of the bounty being taken from the trust fund.
– Does the honorable senator propose to vote against the bill ?
– I wish it to be amended in the direction I have indicated.
One of the first actions of this Government upon assuming office was to increase tariff taxation by £1,250,000 per annum, and income taxation by nearly £800,000 per annum; and it is now proposing to relieve the general revenue of the expenditure of approximately £100,000 formerly incurred in connexion with the wine bounty. Honorable senators opposite accuse the previous Government of extravagance, but it seems to me that the Government which they are now supporting is even more extravagant, for it is making available for expenditure £2,000,000 per annum more than the previous Government had at its command.
In conclusion, I wish to make a few remarks in regard to the labour conditions a wine exporter must observe before he becomes eligible for the bounty. When this measure was introduced in another place it contained the following provision : -
Every person who claims the bounty payable on fortified wine under this Act shall undertake to observe any determinations as to the conditions of employment and the rates of wages paid to any labour employed by him, and shall, if required by the Minister, certify to the Minister as to the conditions of employment and the rates of wages paid to any labour employed by him in respect of any period, covered by this Act, which is specified by the Minister.
That was altered to read -
Every person who claims the bounty payable on fortified wine under this Act shall, in making such claims, furnish to the Minister such evidence as the Minister requires as to the conditions of employment observed, and the rates of wages paid, in respect of any labour employed in the manufacture of the fortified wine on which the bounty is claimed and in the production of grapes, and in the manufacture of fortifying spirit, used in the manufacture of that fortified wine.
In my opinion the new provision is im practicable, because it obliges the wine exporter to satisfy the Minister that not only the exporter, but the maker of fortifying spirit and the grape-grower have all paid reasonable rates of wage3 and observed reasonable conditions in their industries. How can the wine exporter possibly follow the grapes all the way through like that? The proposal is unfair, and I hope that the Government will at least agree to the restoration of the provision that was contained in the measure as it was introduced in another place, for undoubtedly it was the result of mature consideration, whereas the alteration that I have indicated was made on the motion of a private member.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH (Western Australia) [11.10]. - I have listened with great interest to the two informative speeches on this matter, but I confess that there is one point in regard to which I am left to guess. Both the previous speakers have denounced practically every feature of the bill, but I do not know whether they propose to vote for or against it. It is my intention to oppose the second reading, and to go to a division upon it, if I can induce sufficient honorable senators to support me. I invite the Senate for a few minutes to consider the principles underlying this proposal. This morning a question was submitted to the Leader of the Government as to what it proposed to do regarding unemployment, and I take it that it will not he unfair to assume that this bill is part of the Government’s policy for the relief of unemployment. I would be content to consider the measure solely on that ground, and to support or condemn it on a considered judgment as to whether or not it is likely to increase or decrease unemployment. I was glad to hear the admission of Senator Sir George Pearce that the late Government had made a blunder in regard to the previous wine bounty, and I venture to suggest that it will not be long before the present Government will be forced by economic facts t’o admit a number of similar blunders in this and other directions.
First of all let us consider for a moment the constitutional aspect of this matter. Paragraph iii. of section 51 of the Constitution, provides that the Parliament may legislate for “ bounties on the production or export of goods, but so that such bounties shall be uniform throughout the Commonwealth.” What I wish to stress are the words, “ uniform throughout the Commonwealth.” In regard to duties of customs and excise, which have a similar effect to that of bounties, there is general provision for equality. Section 99 of the Constitution provides -
The Commonwealth shall not, by any law or regulation of trade, commerce, or revenue, give preference to one State or any part thereof over another State or ally part thereof.
If the framers of the Constitution thought that by this provision they would make sure that public policy would affect the several States equally they made a great mistake. Without suggesting that the letter of the Constitution has been violated in this regard, there can be no question that its spirit has been ignored, and that the general policy of the Commonwealth in the matter of duties and bounties has been to give enormous preference to one or more States at the expense of other States. Last night we had a fine burst of simulated indignation from Senator Dunn concerning the actions of certain persons in Western Australia in advocating secession. The important question for the Parliament and the people to ask is, “Are there portions of the Commonwealth so unfairly treated by federal policy that their people are likely to be driven into agitations for secession?” “No less than four royal commissions have investigated the position of Western Australia. A Western Australian was connected with one of these commissions, but in no other instance was that State directly represented. I shall summarize the final conclusion of the committee of experts which was appointed by the Prime Minister a few months ago, and contained the best economic thought in Australia. Regard.ing protected and bounty-fed industries, they said that the amounts per head of the population to which each State had benefited as the result of this policy, sometimes by means of Customs protection, and sometimes by direct bounties or prohibition, were : - New South W ales, £5 5s.; Victoria, £7; Queensland, £S; South Australia, £3 7s.; Western Australia, £3 6s.; and Tasmania, £4. If we consider the populations of those States, we find that the amount Western Australia receives by way of assistance to industries is £4 per head less than that of Queensland, or a total of £.1,600,000 per annum. The committee pointed out that not only do the people of Western Australia, South Australia, and Tasmania receive so much less than those of the other States, but they have to pay so much more. The committee continued -
Without attempting to give a full distribution of costs on these lines, we may say that the result is to make the burden per head of Victoria and Queensland, which have relatively small exports, much below the general average, with the other States above the average, and Western Australia particularly high.
Is it any wonder that in .these circumstances there are movements for secession in States which find their industries crippled by the general policy of the Commonwealth? In the last paragraph of their report these expert economists, speaking of South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania, remarked -
Their taxable capacity is lowered, so that their rates of taxation have to bc increased; industry is further encouraged to concentrate in the more fortunate States, and the cumulative effects which follow intensify the inequalities created by the tariff itself.
I venture to say that in large measure the depression and difficulties under which Australia is now suffering are due to the manner in which the natural industries of those States have been destroyed, resulting in an incapacity to absorb an increased population and buy increasingly from the States of New South Wales and Victoria. I have already expressed the opinion, and I do not hesitate to repeat it, that it would be better for Victoria and South Australia that Western Australia should be a free dominion, and progressive, as it can be, with its enormous resources, gradually accumulating a big population, and buying extensively from the eastern States, than for it to remain a part of the Commonwealth hampered by the Federal policy to such an extent that its people are in danger of such impoverishment that they cannot assist the other States
– I think that the honorable senator is somewhat near the border of irrelevancy.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH.I submit that the whole purpose of the bill is to assist an industry, and that the Senate has been deprived of opportunities to discuss the matter on what may be considered larger issues. Sir George Pearce said that the trouble was that we in Australia had been living on too high a plane. I should like to know what is meant by that remark. If it suggested that we have been importing too many motor cars, or patronizing American films too extensively, perhaps he is right ; but that is not what I call living on too high a plane. My conviction is that in the housing, feeding, clothing and educating of the people we have been living on a lower plane than the resources of our country would make possible, if it were not for interfering legislation of this kind, which is gradually destroying industry after industry. Senator Chapman told us why the policy of granting a bounty on wine had been introduced. He said that it was because the Government had settled returned soldiers on the land. I ask him whether the policy of giving bounties has helped the States out of their difficulties? I invite him to consider the prosperous condition of the wine districts of South Australia a few years ago, to contrast them with the position in which the industry finds itself to-day. and then to find out the reason for it. Having done that he would probably suggest some other remedy than the proposal embodied in this bill.
I should not be in any way out of order in referring to other bounties of a somewhat similar character. Take, for instance, the indirect bounty on sugar. In that case, the principle, although differently applied, is similar in operation. The local consumer pays the loss on the exported article. Enormous profits are being made by those handling the industry, and excessive prices are being paid by the Australian people, with the result that subsidiary industries like jam-making are falling off and the people and children of Australia are compelled to eat inferior substitutes because of the high price of sugar. The latest development in connexion with the sugar industry is the appearance of long protests in the newspapers to the effect that the industry is falling into the hands of Italians. I have no objection to that from one point of view, because any person who comes to Australia and resides here is entitled to the privileges of citizenship, and should be allowed to work so long as he obeys the laws of the country.
– Should he be allowed to work at less than trade union rates?
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH.Bother the trade union rates ! From another point of view it is tragic to think that the Australian public should be paying excessive prices for sugar, and that the industry should be drifting largely into the hands of persons, many of whom are taking advantage of the prohibition placed on imported sugar by sending the money that they earn to their country of origin, to which they intend to return so soon as they can afford to do so.
I come now to the bounty on butter. There has recently been complaint after complaint by the Commonwealth authorities about the deterioration of the quality of the butter on which the bounty has been paid, and it is suggested that because of this deterioration of quality, the price of our product as compared with prices generally on the London market, is gradually dropping. That means that because of this bounty, the free competition that at one time existed between Australia, New Zealand and Denmark, has been broken down. The Australian manufacturer is unconcerned when the price that he receives for his butter is below that of New Zealand or Danish butter, because he knows that he can recover any loss at the expense of the Australian consumer. As in the case of jam, substitutes are being used for butter, to the great detriment of the people, and the Australian butter manufacturer is becoming afraid of the competition of margarine, which is an utterly inferior substitute, and has a disastrous effect, principally upon the children who are forced to eat it.
– What inferior substitutes are used in place of jam?
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH.Marmite and all sorts of imported goods.
– Marmite is more expensive.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH.It is inferior as a food for children. The consumption of jam in Australia is falling because of the high ‘prices charged to the maker of jam for Australian sugar.
– The honorable senator would be wise to return to the subjectmatter of the bill.
Senator Sir HAI. COLEBATCH.I take it that when discussing a bounty on wine, I am in order in referring to what has happened to other industries similarly assisted. Surely it is a fair argument to say that if a bounty has failed in regard to the sugar industry, a similar bounty will fail in regard to the wine industry.
– I regret that I had temporarily lost the connexion of the honorable senator’s remarks.
– -In yesterday’s issue of the Sydney Morning Herald there appeared this paragraph from Melbourne -
Trade union officials to-day forecasted that an attempt will be made to have the bounty of 3d. a lb. on butter payable by local consumers under the Paterson plan abolished. This would result in a considerable saving to householders us butter is one of the chief portions of the food supply.
I should say that the additional amount paid for butter by the Australian consumer under the Paterson scheme is more than 3d’, per lb. Then we have a similar position in respect of the increased bounty on galvanized iron that the Senate passed towards the close of last session. The effect of that bounty was to give to the manufacturers of galvanized iron a subsidy equal to £4 10s. per man per week for every man employed in the industry. We are now receiving complaints about the quality of that product. According to newspaper reports, two tanks erected about two years ago are now riddled with rust. Another settler says that black wire on his property, which was bought in 1886, was still giving good service, while another brand would not give eight years service. He contended that there was something wrong with the wire that was being sold to-day and that it was the manufacturers’ duty to tell the settlers what it was. Another settler claimed that blacksmith’s iron became pitted with rust very quickly. Another said that wire that he had recently purchased would not stand the strain put on wire of the same brand that he had used previously. Then we received an intimation that the importers of galvanized iron had increased the price to the local consumer by 30s. a ton in order to compensate them for the difference in exchange between London and Australia. That shows what a tremendous bounty is now being given to the Australian manufacturers of galvanized iron. It is something over 6 per cent, on exchange alone. It must be remembered, when considering this bill, that sugar, butter, and galvanized iron are all necessaries, and people cannot do without them. The local consumers are being penalized to enable our surplus products to be exported at a loss; but I suggest to the growers of grapes and the makers of wine that wine is not so necessary to the Australian people as are sugar, butter and galvanized iron, and it is doubtful whether the people will buy wine in the event of the price being increased. In the wine-drinking countries on the Continent, where wine does make a substantial contribution to the public revenue, one can enter a restaurant and obtain a bottle of good wine for two or three lire or francs, as the case may be; but if one goes into any ordinary popular restaurant in Melbourne or Sydney and asks for a small bottle of Australian claret, one has to pay from 2s. to 2s. 6d. for it. It is even more expensive than an imported Scotch whisky and soda. Does the winemaker think that he will develop a taste for Australian wines among the people by carrying out a policy of that kind? It has always been admitted that the home market is the best market of all. Had this bill been introduced to discourage wine drinking, had members of the extreme temperance party had a hand in the framing of it, I would say they had done their work well, because this bill will have no other effect than to discourage the consumption of wine by the Australian people. But I believe that we can develop in this country a taste for good wine, which, to a large extent, would ultimately take the place of imported spirit, of which so much is consumed at the present time. I ask honorable senators supporting the Government, in considering this bill from the point of view of its probable effect on unemployment, to think for a moment how the wage fund of Australia will be affected by selling our foodstuffs abroad at less than it costs us to produce them. Let us assume that some one has a wage fund of 20s. with which to give employment for a single day. If the labour engaged for that day for the 20s. produces 22s. worth of value it means that the employer would have on the following day 22s. in his wage fund, representing a daily increase of 10 per cent. If in the course of time that daily increase continues, more and more men can be brought into the industry and its prosperity will gradually expand. Now let us assume, still starting off with the 20s. as the wage fund for a single day, that there is produced by the labour employed only 20s. worth of value. In that case the employer is not in a position to employ more labour on the next day. He must employ exactly the same amount of labour as on the previous day and his industry does not expand. The slightest calamity may bring it to an end at any time. What happens if the labour employed by the wage fund of 20s. a day produces only 18s. worth of value? The next day the employer has only 18s. in his wage fund. He has lost 10 per cent., anc! if he goes on losing 10 per cent, each clay it is not very long before his wage fund has gone. The biggest factor in our unemployed difficulty in Australia to-day is that there are too many people engaged in industry the result of whose work has been to diminish the wage fund. It is a state of affairs which honorable senators can see should not be allowed to continue.
Clause 14 of the bill, relating to industrial conditions, is, to my mind, contrary to the Constitution. I do not care if similar provision is to be found in other bounty measures: The fact of the matter is that it is an attempt by the Commonwealth to invade the rights of the States to determine industrial conditions within the States. The point was decided by the High Court in Barger’s case. In an Excise Act the Commonwealth had attempted to impose industrial conditions. The High Court held that the Commonwealth had no power over industrial matters except the power given under paragraph xxxv. of section 51 of the Commonwealth Constitution, and that the excise power did not authorize it to take to itself industrial power belonging to the States. What have we in this bill but an attempt to do the same thing under the bounty power? Clause 14 empowers the Minister to “ make application to the Chief Judge or a Judge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration or to any Commonwealth authority established for the purpose of determining wages and conditions of employment, for a declaration as to what wages and conditions of employment are fair and reasonable for labour employed “ in the wine industry. What can the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court do in the matter? Under the Constitution it is restricted to dealing with interstate disputes, and it has no power if the Minister chooses to go before it to set up wages and conditions of employment in an industry in regard, to which there is no dispute.
– He would be restrained anyhow.
– But what advantage is to be gained by inserting in the bill a clause which is ultra vires of the Constitution?
– Does the honorable senator suggest that .the Minister could not refer a case to the Federal Arbitration Court?
– I do, unless it be in regard to an industrial dispute extending beyond the limits of one State. But the clause makes no provision for the Minister approaching the court only in the case of a dispute extending beyond one State. It confers a power which is not given under the Constitution. Let me assume that in all the States participating in the wine bounty the employers and employees are agreed upon a scale of wages that the Minister and those behind the present Government regard as far too low or as below the general standard. Does Senator Daly suggest that under this clause the Minister could go to the Arbitration Court and say, “ Wc do not propose to pay this bounty unless you declare that these conditions are fair “.
– No. The Minister could not do that.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH.Then what is the meaning of the clause?
– It means that under proper conditions the Minister may approach the Arbitration Court,
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH.If there are two States engaged in making: wine, and there are high wages in one and: low wages in the other, and if the people engaged in the industry in the State iti which the low wages are paid are satisfied with them, realizing that the industry is not in a position to pay higher wages, does Senator Daly suggest that the Minister could refuse to pay the bounty in the case of the State in which the low wages are paid or could approach the court and ask whether the wage paid in that State was fair or not? If so, he would be asking the court to interfere in a dispute which was not of an interstate character, and to do something it had not the power to do. The clause as it stands suggests something entirely contrary to the Constitution.
Senator Pearce made an important reference to the probable effect of this legislation on Australia’s trade with other countries. Whilst we are loud in our protests against the dumping of goods in Australia by other countries we are ourselves doing nothing but dumping our surplus products in other countries. We are dumping butter and sugar, and it is now proposed to dump our wine. Other countries are bound to protest. Already France and Egypt have taken action detrimental to our interests.
– And Germany has done so in regard to our wheat.
– The Egyptian Government has not touched our wheat, but has touched our flour, with the result that there is imminent danger of large numbers of men engaged in our milling industry being thrown out of employment. Our milling capacity is far in excess of our ability to consume flour, and we are dependent upon export. Our old customer, Japan, is now making all its own flour, aud is also exporting it to many of our previous customers. Egypt has put a heavy duty on Australian flour. Italy and Japan are smarting under our prohibition of exports and our high tariff. These are countries that to-day are buying from Australia £4 worth of goods for every £1 worth they sell to us. Where shall we get if we continue doing things that are absolutely hostile to our own interests? At the same time we have nothing but vague threats of what the Government proposes to do in regard to luxury importations from America, in which case the trade balance is tremendously against us. To-day I asked Senator. Daly for a reply to a pertinent question on a matter affecting the encouragement of the moving picture industry in Australia, and the reply I got was that the facts would be ascertained. I do not blame Senator Daly. The answer must have been placed in his hands, but one would think that I had asked a most abstruse question, whereas the information I sought must have been in the hands of the Government for weeks past. I hope the Leader of the House will keep the matter in mind, because I do not think the Senate should be denied the information required. For the reasons I have given, I shall oppose the bill. It is utterly wrong in principle and, I am confident, will have a harmful effect on the wine industry. It will delay the development of a local market that in every respect would be very much more valuable to the producer than the overseas market which the Government is now attempting to cultivate.
.- This bill is of vital importance to a big section of the community and particularly to the people of South Australia. Because of climatic advantages and the fact that some of the pioneer settlers in that State had come from viticultural countries, South Australia is the principal wine producing State in the Commonwealth. Viticultural production ranks third in the primary industries of South Australia, giving place only to the two great staple products of wool and wheat. Approximately £18,000,000 is invested in the industry, and about 7,000 growers are engaged in the production of grapes for wine-mak ing. Applying the usual formula that each primary producer provides employment for six other persons in subsidiary industries, honorable senators will see that the wine industry provides, directly and indirectly, a livelihood for about 42,000 adults. ^ Allowing to each an average number of dependants, it is obvious that a considerable number of people throughout Australia are maintained by the wine industry. I sympathize with some of the objections to this bill. It is true that where possible the Government should not attempt to regulate and control primary production. But in regard to wine-making the present Commonwealth Government has no option. It has inherited from its predecessor a set of circumstances which make Commonwealth assistance imperative unless a great calamity is to befall a large number of those engaged in the industry. Prior to the repatriation activities by which the various governments sought to restore to civil life those who had participated gloriously in the defence of the empire, the viticultural industry was on a comparatively sound basis. But as a result of the extensive planting by soldier settlers of new areas with grapes suitable for the production of wine and fortifying spirit, difficulties commenced to develop. The statistics relating to the production of wine between 1922 and 1929 give a reliable indication of the influence of repatriation settlements on the total production. I quote the following table from a pamphlet issued by the Federal Viticultural Council -
In 1922, the areas that had been planted by the soldier settlers had not commenced to bear, but as they came into bearing in the following years, the total production showed a steady increase. That and the attendant difficulties of finding markets for the surplus were entirely due to the Government’s action in forcing planting as a repatriation activity.
Those circumstances should be seriously considered by honorable senators before they decide ‘ to vote against the bill. Approximately 1,000 returned soldiers are engaged in South Australia in growing grapes for wine-making, the majority of them in the irrigation areas of the river Murray valley. Their position is entirely different from that of the growers in the older districts. The latter had the benefit of the more lucrative market before and during the war, when the total production of Australian wine was not equal to the local consumption and there was no need to reach out for markets in other parts of the world. They were thus able to improve their holdings and establish themselves more or less securely in the industry. The returned soldiers’ blocks, which had been prepared by the State Government at great expense .came into bearing when prices had slumped, and the industry was carrying an increased burden of excise taxation; they had therefore no opportunity to establish themselves. Moreover, whilst the growers in the older settled districts were served by established wineries which had secured command of the Australian market as a result of many years of experience, the returned soldiers were obliged to build new processing establishments and reach out for other markets. In the river areas of South Australia there are three distilleries - a small one at Waikerie, a large one at Berri, and a fairly extensive one at Renmark. The huge establishment at Berri is a co-operative undertaking in which are about 640 shareholders, the majority of whom are returned soldiers, who have re-invested in the distillery such little profit as they have been able to make from their blocks. The South Australian Government, assisted by the provision of capital for the original building and plant and for extensions made necessary by the accumulated surplus in the vats. This assistance represents about £180,000. Therefore, the State Government is interested in the success of the Berri distillery and the growers served by it, first because of the money invested in buildings and plant, and secondly because over £2,000,000 was expended by the State in the preparation of the Berri lands for settlement. The majority of the settlers in that area are dependent upon the wine grape industry for their living. That section of the industry will suffer if this bill is rejected. It will be a case of last in, first out; the first out being the returned soldier growers. As those men engaged in the industry principally because of the promises made by honorable senators opposite, and particularly by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce), I contend that an obligation rests on this Senate in the matter. Members of the Opposition recently bad a good deal to say as to their desire to give preference to returned soldiers. Here is an opportunity for them to prove their bona fides. I urge them to give these returned soldier growers a reasonable opportunity to establish themselves in the industry, similar to those engaged in older wine-growing districts, who enjoyed the advantages extended to the industry in bygone years.
Senator Sir George Pearce referred to the need for efficient methods being employed in the industry. I believe that the producing and processing sections of the wine industry will stand any inquiry, and as the marketing side is under the direction of a board established by the late Government for the purpose, it also should be beyond criticism.
– Is anything being done to reduce the overseas surplus of Australian wines?
– This bill . provides for the complete control of the export of Australian wine. It insists upon an approved quality, and proposes to establish advertising organizations abroad in an endeavour to increase the overseas demand for Australian wines. The Leader of the Opposition also claimed that the proposed bounty might induce excessive production, and so bring about a greater glut than that which existed in 1924. Such a contingency is amply provided against in the bill, one section of which stipulates that the payment of the bounty shall not apply to new plantings, except where they are necessary to renew exhausted vineyards. Senator Sir Hal Colebatch referred to the Australian sugar industry. The people of Australia are obliged to pay a high price for their * own sugar in order to maintain the industry, but each year a surplus is produced which has to be shipped abroad and sold at world’s parity, which is considerably below the guaranteed price in Australia. So far as I know no restriction has been placed on cane planting. Each year the*re appears to be additional planting of sugar cane, and the exportable surplus is steadily increasing. As I have explained, the case is entirely different in regard to the proposed wine bounty.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) ventured the opinion that the contemplated action of the Government might jeopardize the preferential tariff treatment at present enjoyed by Australian wine-growers who export their products to Great Britain. That preferential treatment has, undoubtedly, stimulated the sale of our wines in the United Kingdom, and its continuance is assured for at least a term during which this bounty will operate. I have here a very interesting article which was taken from Harper’s Wine and Spirit Gazette of the 14th September, 1929, and reproduced in the Adelaide Advertiser of the 1st November last. About that time, following the accession to power of the Labour party in Great Britain, rumours were circulated that the preferential treatment extended to our wines would be eliminated, with consequent disadvantage to our exporters. This article sets out the position very clearly and indicates that there is no such danger for at least six years.
– Since then Mr. Philip Snowden has stated that he proposes to review all the preferential tariff items.
Senator- O’HALLORAN. - I shall quote sections df this article in proof that the contention of Messrs. Harper is correct. For instance -
Buyers who hold off Empire wines, fearing that Mr. Snowden’s budget will wipe out the tariff preference and spoil the market, are unnecessarily cautious. There is not the slightest chance that the existing scale of Empire preferences will be tampered with for another six years at least.
The article concludes with a reference to the vital clause of the Finance Act of 1926, and reads -
Where immediately before the first day of July, nineteen hundred and twenty six, the duty of customs chargeable in respect of any article was by virtue of section eight of the Finance Act, 1919 a as amended by any other enactment, chargeable at a preferential rate in the case of any such article being an Empire product, that article shall, during a period of ten years beginning on the said day, be charged, if an Empire product with a Customs duty at a preferential rate representing the full rate of the Customs duty for the time being in force reduced by an amount equal to the difference between the full rate of the duty in force on the said day and the preferential rate in force on the said day, or, where the Customs duty is chargeable at a rate representing a proportion of the value of the article, reduced by an amount representing the proportion of the value of the article by which the amount of the preferential rate in force on the said day was less than the amount of the full rate in force on the said day; provided that, if at any time during the period aforesaid the full rate of the Customs duty chargeable in respect of any article is decreased so as to be equal to or less than the amount of the reduction to be allowed as aforesaid, that article, if an Empire product, shall be free of duty.
– That is no guarantee.
– It indicates that that section of the act will operate for a period of ten years, from 1926 to 1936.
– And Mr. Philip Snowden himself said, while that bill was under discussion, that it would bind Parliament in the matter.
– I thank the honorable senator for his interjection. I was about to quote Mr. Snowden’s remarks. He said -
The House is committed in effect and in honour to maintain these duties for a period of ten years.
– So long as the duty obtains preference will be extended, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer could abolish the duty.
- Mr. Snowden made it clear that Great Britain is in honour committed to that, form of preference for at least ten years from 1926. There might be some justification for honorable senators looking askance at the measure if there were no hope of improvement in our wine industry. But there is a wonderful potential market waiting for us in the United Kingdom. Prior to 1925-26 there was practically no export of sweet wines from Australia to Great Britain. We now export to that country annually 2,000,000 gallons of sweet wine, which is. consumed in the
United Kingdom. That must be admitted to be a creditable record. Great Britain consumes approximately 10,000,000 gallons of sweet wine a year, which indicates the potential market awaiting Australian wines overseas. The bulk of that demand is met by France, Spain and Portugal. Eliminating the boom year brought about by the payment of a bounty of 4s. a gallon on our wine, which cannot usefully be used for comparative purposes, I shall take the figures for the last three years to show that there has been a steady increase in the volume and consumption of our wine export. According to the latest figures available the export of Australian wines to Great Britain is steadily growing and for the first nine months of the current financial year amounted to 1,707,481 gallons. The monthly shipments were as follows. -
These figures, taken in conjunction with the general trend of imports of wine into Great Britain, and the consumption in that country, show that, provided assistance is given to the industry in its pioneering stage there is a possibiliy of its capturing for Australia the whole of the sweet wine market in Great Britain. That would be of great benefit not only to the people who are engaged in the industry, but also to the Australian nation as a whole, because it would increase the volume of wealth that flows into this country.
The right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) has objected to the bill on the ground that it seeks to protect the interests of the workers who are engaged in the industry. Before the Senate gives serious consideration to any protests that may be made against that provision, it should have some indication of the attitude of those who will be affected by it. I have no knowledge of any protest having been made by a growers’ organization, or a wine-maker ; but in last Monday’s issue of the evening newspaper that is published in South Australia a full and frank statement was made by one of the largest wine-makers in that State, Mr. Penfold Hyland. He approved of the principle of safeguarding the rights of the employees in the industry. If one of the largest wine-makers in Australia is satisfied with this provision, and the growers’ organizations do not protest against it, why should the Senate endeavour to eliminate it? An added reason for examining closely the arguments that have been adduced by the Leader of the Opposition is furnished by a speech which he delivered in this chamber in 1905. When principles have been enunciated by any person, they must be adhered to. The right honorable gentleman at that time believed in the principle that the rights of employees in bounty-assisted industries should be safeguarded. If that principle was right then it must be right now. His support of it was direct, and not qualified in any way. In Hansard, at page 7240, his speech on the Sugar Bounty Bill of that year is reported. That measure was similar in its terms to the one that .we. are now discussing The honorable, senator moved . to insert a new -clause, reading as follows: - , .
Every grower of white-grown sugar who: claims the bounty payable under this act shall,, in making such claim, certify to the Minister the rate of wages paid to any labour employed by him, other than the labour of members of his family. If the Minister finds that such rate of wages is below the standard rate paid in the district in which the sugar is grown to similar white labour engaged in that industry, then the Minister may withhold the whole or any part of the bounty payable.
– I am prepared to accept now a similar provision in this bill; but that which it contains goes much further.
– This bill embodies the same principle, and I do not think the honorable senator will seriously contest it.
I hope that the Senate will agree to the bill because, apart from the specific points to which I have referred, viticulture has a great deal to commend it as a primary producing industry. I suppose that no primary industry in Australia carries as large a population on a given area, as does this industry.
– The bill seeks to prevent the planting of new areas.
– Th at is so.
– Then what is the use of talking about the expansion of the industry?
– “When the time arrives that the industry can be expanded with safety, action to that end will be taken. At the present time, as a result of the artificial expansion of the industry by Governments that introduced repatriation measures at the termination of the war, it is in difficulties. It is the duty of this Parliament to get it out of those difficulties, and the only way to do so is to provide a bounty and at the same time to ensure that there will not be additional planting. “When the existing difficulties have been surmounted, as they will be by the passage of this measure, the present restrictions can be removed; and the industry, having been placed on a normal basis, will be able to continue its operations in the manner that I have suggested.
Senator Sir JOHN NEWLANDS (South Australia) [12.21]. - This measure affects South Australia particularly, but to a considerable extent also the rest of Australia. The right honorable Sir George Pearce has delivered a speech in which he has mentioned the probability of addi- tional taxation being imposed upon the people of Australia if the bounty proposed by the bill is paid. Those who are engaged in the growing of vines in South Australia are not in a position to. meet additional taxation. They are now on the bread line, and have been for some years. Indeed, many of them are on the verge of starvation, and are looking to this bounty to give them an opportunity to get some return out of the industry, and thus make provision for themselves and their families.
The wine industry has grown rapidly in Australia as a result largely of the fact that, at the termination of the war, every effort was made to place returned soldiers on the land. It was recognized that this was an industry which, on a small area, would support a fairly large family. Returned soldiers were placed not only on the irrigable lands of South Australia, but also on land in the dry areas. An area of from 5 acres to 10 acres was sufficient to maintain a family under the conditions that then prevailed. Thus the wine industry developed tremendously. If it is handled carefully at the present time it will prosper, so long as the planting of vines is restricted. The Government of Queensland has announced that the acreage under sugar cane is not to be increased in that State. The result of restricting the planting of vines should be that all the wine available for export will be exported. Some years ago I visited Renmark to endeavour to settle a strike of -fruit-pickers. I did my best; but my efforts proved unsuccessful. The losses incurred as a result of that strike led the fruit-growers of the district to adopt a co-operative system of working. Now the members of a number of families combine to pick the grapes on their several properties. The result is that, instead of large numbers of men going to the irrigation areas from various parts of the State to pick the grapes, as was the case before the strike occurred, very little outside labour is now employed. The industry is not now a wage industry in the ordinary sense, and, therefore, the clause in the bill, which provides that certain rates of pay and conditions of labour shall apply before a bonus is granted, is not required. With the exception of the clause referred to, the bill meets with my approval. The grapepicking season generally coincides with the school holidays, so that the children of the fruit-growers are able to assist in the picking of the grapes. It is well that that is so, for most of the grape-growers would find it difficult, if not impossible, to engage labour at award rates. In most instances the whole of the work on their properties is done by the members of the family, with . the assistance of other families in the picking season. A few growers may have one or two employees whom they employ all the year round. Senator O’Halloran referred to the bounty on sugar. The sugar industry is entirely different from the grape-growing industry. It is right that there should be awards to determine the rates of pay for men who cut sugar cane; but the position is entirely different where a man has the assistance of the members of his family in harvesting his crop. The sugar cane industry is a wage industry; the grape-growing industry is not. It has been said that the people of South Africa object to wines grown in Australia with the assistance of a bounty competing in England with their wines. I am not aware of the conditions which operate in the wine industry in South Africa. I only know that South Africa, being nearer to England than Australia is, obtains the benefit of the shorter distance for which the wine has to be transported.
– Practically all their wine is grown with black labour.
Senator - Sir JOHN” NEWLANDS. - The grape-growing industry in Australia is one ‘ in which only whites are engaged. As a general rule T do not like bounties, but in the case of the grape-growing industry I believe a bounty is very necessary at the present time. I hope that the clause to which I have referred will be deleted from the bill, and the measure, as amended, passed without delay.
– I do not propose to deal with the general principles of the bill. All the wine I ever drank in my life would not be sufficient to intoxicate a cat. However, Senator Colebatch raised one or two points which, I think, require an answer. I do not wish to enter into a debate as to whether bounties in general are justifiable or not, but I cannot agree with Senator Colebatch that the payment of a. bounty in this case amounts almost to a violation of the Constitution in that it singles out one State for specially favorable treatment. South Australia produces more wine than any other State, and Tasmania practically all the hops grown in the Commonwealth. Other States predominate in the production of other commodities, and in this way the assistance given to various primary industries tends to be spread more or less evenly among the States.
– It will take a long time.
– Perhaps; but that is not the fault of the Constitution or of the administration. It is not right, surely, that the Tasmanian hop-growing industry should be denied assistance because Queensland and Western Australia are geographically or climatically unsuitable for growing hops. I am assuming that the payment of bounties is conceded to be justifiable.
– The honorable senator is going a long way there.
– I presume that the honorable senator would not oppose the payment of a gold bonus which, while theoretically applying to all the States, would particularly benefit the State he represents.
– But the Government has not done it.
– No; because we have had no opportunity. We cannot introduce legislation in the same wholesale manner as it was despatched in this chamber yesterday when three bills were rejected at once. No doubt, before Australia has finished exporting wine, other industries will require and receive assistance. Queensland is going to benefit under the Cotton Bounty Bill, South Australia under the Wine Bounty Bill, and Western Australia may benefit by a gold bonus. What a State loses by one bounty it gains by another.
– My contention is that, so far, it has been all loss and no gain so far as Western Australia is concerned.
– That may be a reason for challenging the payment of any bounties at all, but it does not justify an argument that the payment of this particular bounty borders on the unconstitutional. After all, if the Government decides to assist an industry, it is inevitable that the greatest benefit will be received by the State or States in which that industry chiefly flourishes.
– No excise duty has been imposed on gold.
– My principle object in speaking on this measure was to refer to the labour conditions embodied in the bill. Senator Colebatch criticized clause 14, saying that it was ultra vires of the Constitution. I do not .know whether he claims to be a better lawyer than I am; I claim only to be a bush lawyer.
– We are on equal ground there.
– Clause 14 of the bill contains the following: -
The Minister may make application to the Chief Judge or a Judge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration or to any Commonwealth authority established for the purpose of determining wages and conditions of employment, for a declaration as to what wages and conditions of employment are fair and reasonable.
It would not be an award of the court, but simply a declaration of what wages, and conditions are fair and reasonable.
– The Government desires to give the court a new job.
– I understand that the court has always had power to make a declaration in regard to such matters. As to whether the Commonwealth Parliament has power’ to prescribe labour conditions, I understand that, while it was laid down by the High Court in the Harvester judgment that the Customs Department could not in an excise bill prescribe rates of wages or prices of goods chargeable to the consumer, there was nothing in the Constitution to prevent the Commonwealth Parliament making a bargain with any section of the community in regard to the production of any commodity by saying that it would not pay a bounty unless the persons concerned conformed with certain conditions.
– That, was exactly what was done in the Harvester case. The Commonwealth agreed to remit certain duties, providing the manufacturers complied with certain conditions:
– In order to meet the convenience of honorable senators who desire to attend the Governor-General’s garden party this afternoon, may I suggest, Mr. President, that, the luncheon adjournment hour having arrived, you suspend the sitting until 8 p.m. instead of 2.15 p.m.?
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 8 p.m.
Private business taking precedence after 8 p.m.,
That private business be postponed till after the consideration of Government business.
– When the Senate adjourned for lunch I was dealing with the opinions of Senator Pearce and Senator Colebatch in regard to this bill, opinions which did not, in my view, raise any valid objections to the measure. Take the statement that the proposed labour conditions to be associated with the granting of the bounty are ultra vires of the Constitution. In other matters of similar import, it has been the custom to lay down’ conditions under which bounties shall be granted. It may not be constitutional to do what was attempted in the Barger case where there was a distinct provision in an Excise Act that certain things, should be done, both as regards the price of the manufactured articles to the consumer and the wages to be paid to those working in the industry. But it has been held that there is nothing to prevent the Commonwealth Government granting bounties and laying down conditions under which they shall be paid, and I believe that that is all that this measure attempts. The point was particularly raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) that the bill goes further than laying down the conditions for the actual production of wine ; that it also provides that certain rates shall be paid to those working in the grape-growing industry. Growers of grapes would not receive the prices they do for their product were it not for the bounty paid on the wine produced from their grapes. There is nothing inconsistent in the bill which provides that the grape-growers shall be bound by conditions similar to those imposed on the manufacturers of wine. If there is any legal constitutional obstacle to be surmounted, it can be settled only by the High Court, and not by this Parliament.
The statement was made that this is largely a family industry. There is nothing in the bill to prevent families who would not employ wage labour from carrying on as they are at present. The Minister is not looking for trouble and he would no”t seek to interfere with family arrangements, unless those concerned approach the court. I do not see how it would be possible to appeal to the High Court to settle conditions already decided upon by those concerned in the family.
A fantastic idea was advanced that the wages paid by one grower or group of growers might be perfectly satisfactory to those engaged in the industry in that locality, but that very much higher rates might be paid in another district. It seems very clear to me that those engaged in the lower paid localities would not be satisfied and, in the circumstances, there would be reason for the Government appealing to the judge of the Arbitration Court for a declaration. It is rather strange that in every argument that has been adduced by honorable senators opposite, they lay down the condition that labour must be prepared to suffer; that all the sacrifices must come from the wage-earners, while all the advantages are to be reaped by those to whom the bounty is directly paid. There is no element of fairness in such a contention. The Commonwealth pays bounties to certain sections of the community with moneys drawn from the revenue provided by the citizens of Australia.
– That is not so in this case, as the industry itself has to bear the cost.
– It is so in a certain sense. It is impossible to carry on any industry without labour. The contention of honorable senators opposite seems to be founded on the idea that it is only those who have invested some capital in a concern who have a right to enjoy the protection afforded by the legislation of the Commonwealth. It is obviously the fair thing to provide that, when any advantage is received by the producing section of the community, those employed in that industry should not be degraded to the condition of mere serfs and have to accept the scraps that the employer chooses to throw to them. It is the. bounden duty of those who benefit to see that those who provide the essential factor of labour receive something approaching a fair return for their efforts. This Commonwealth Parliament would be directly lacking in its duty if it did not make some such provision in this legislation. I should be opposed to the granting of bounties unless provision were made that those selling their labour to the industry received a fair wage. It has been a contention thai some States benefit more than others from the granting of these bounties. Although South Australia is the chief producer of wines, other States gain correspondingly through the payment of bounties on the production cif other commodities which they are specially fitted to produce. In those circumstances I see no objection to the clauses which have been subjected to criticism during this debate.
– Hearing some of the speeches that have been made on this bill, I thought that we had embarked on that great economic conference which the Prime Minister suggested should take place in this country. I became so astounded by the vigour of the discussion and the examination of the principles that were enunciated that I almost imagined that there was sitting in your place, Mr. President, the wiry figure of the Prime Minister. I imagine that our friends have got this measure a little out of its true perspective. While, possibly, there is involved in it some of those principles to which reference has been made, it is, in reality, a salvage measure. In providing a bounty on the export of wine, the Government is following in the footsteps of the Government which preceded it. There is, however, this difference, that whereas previously the bounty was paid out of general revenue, in this instance the industry itself will pay it. Senator O’Halloran referred to the plight of those soldier settlers, who, at the instance of both Federal and State Governments, engaged in the grape-growing industry. The payment of a bounty is a recognition of the Government’s obligation to those men.
– The Federal Government had nothing to do with those land settlement schemes.
– Strictly speaking, that is so. The States undertook to settle numbers of returned soldiers on the land. “Wisely or unwisely, they engaged in grape-growing. If this measure proves beneficial to them, Parliament can lay the flattering unction to its soul that it is assisting some of the finest types of Australians to be found anywhere. Senator Hae referred to the rights of those persons who are employed in harvesting the grape crop. I remind him that many of these settlers receive much less than the basic wage paid to men working in the Federal Capital.
– They live in the hope of making profits.
– That is all they have enjoyed so far. Again and again both State and Federal Governments have had to write off considerable sums of money in connexion with soldier settlements. A bounty on the export of wine is in the nature of a salvage measure, so that in discussing it there is no need to deal with those larger principles which underlay the granting of bounties generally.
Reference has been made to the huge quantities of wine held in Great Britain and not disposed of. The position is .not so serious as has been suggested, for whereas on the 31st March, 1928, the quantity in stock amounted to 3,221,000 gallons, it was only 1,927,000 gallons on the 31st March, 1930 - a reduction in two years of 1,294,000 gallons. On the 31st March last they had only a little more than a year’s supply on hand. - It may be that there is an over production of wine in Australia; but, personally, I do not think that there is. All the wine manufactured for export will ultimately find its way overseas.
I desire to say a word about Imperial preference.
– Mr. Snowden wants to scrap it.
– The position is certainly “complicated. As I understand it, the position is that, so long as the duty continues the preference continues. Mr. Snowden has given no indication that he will abolish any of the duties on wine. The suggestion is that there should be a free breakfast table for the people of Britain. Our dried fruits industry, and perhaps some other industries, may suffer, but so long as the duty remains the preference will remain. In the matter of preference Australia has suffered because of the blending of “ British “ wines with foreign wines. That is the chief difficulty which confronts the wine industry. In the brochure from which Senator 0?Halloran quoted, I find a statement for the truth of which I can vouch. Under the heading “ ‘British ‘ “Wines and Foreign Blended. “Wines,” the following paragraphs appear: -
In connexion with the British market, there are two matters in particular which continue to cause much anxiety to Australian winemakers as making Imperial preference for Empire wines to a great extent ineffective. They are: -
Thu importation into Great Britain of large quantities of foreign must, which is converted into so-called “British” wines: and
The blending in Great Britain of foreign wines, n.e. 25 and n.e. 42, with a view to avoiding a large proportion of the duty, intended to apply to fortified wines of foreign origin.
As has been frequently pointed out, a very large proportion of these so-called “ British “ wines are made in Great Britain from imported concentrated grape juice, the basis of which is principally currants, the main source of supply being Greece. No duty is paid on the imported juice or must. These “ British “ wines had been paying only an excise duty of ls. a gallon, which was increased under the present tariff to ls. Cd. Empire sweet wines pay 4s. a gallon customs duty. The “ British “ wines are sold at 5s. a gallon, while the Australian sweet wine, duty paid, casks included; costs from 9s. to 9s. (id. a gallon. It is obvious, therefore, that Empire wines are heavily handicapped, and that the British tariff is much more beneficial to these “ British “ wines than those of the Empire.
By blending three gallons of foreign n.e. 25 per cent proof spirit, which pays a duty of 3s., with one gallon of foreign n.e. 42 per cent, proof spirit, which pays a duty of 8s., a saleable wine which is competitive with Australian wine can be produced at a cost in duty of 4s. 3d. per gallon. Australia, therefore, only has effective preference of 3d. per gallon on this blended wine, instead of 4s. per gallon, as was intended.
That is the position as it appears to the wine trade in Australia. I submit that the remarks of the chairman of Vine Products Limited, referred to by Senator Pearce, must be discounted, because that company is the biggest maker of the socalled “ British “ wines which compete with Empire wines. I suggest that any comments by the chairman of that company are the comments of an interested party.
I commend, this bill to the Senate. It really is this Parliament’s answer to the S.O.S. signal of the grape-growers. The industry, itself will provide the bounty. What we have before us is merely” an arrangement similar to the Paterson butter scheme, to which effect is to be given by legislative enactment. The amount of capital involved in the wine industry in Australia is enormous, while the type of settler engaged in the industry is good. If, by the payment of a bounty, those settlers will be able to overcome their difficulties, then it is our duty to provide it. A moral obligation rests on the parliaments of the Commonwealth to see these men through. They were encouraged to go in for grapegrowing. It is now the duty of the parliaments which gave them that encouragement to come to their assistance.
Reference has been made to clause 14. I am not greatly concerned with what it contains. The secretary of the Grape Growers Association of South Australia said in respect of it -
Clause 14 provides for awards to be paidto la.bour in production of grapes, but does not provide for the actual cost of the production of same to the grower. This is essential if the former is necessary, and grape prices must be fixed accordingly.
That is a shrewd point which has not escaped the notice of Mr. Gersch The grape-growing industry is in a most unsatisfactory condition, and any interference with it would bring about disaster. The very fact that the late Government had to subsidize the industry is an indication of its unsatisfactory condition. I have no doubt that from time to time we shall be asked to assist industries which, by reason of legislative action, have been brought into a somewhat similar unsatisfactory condition. Having regard to its moral obligations, Parliament would be doing only the right thing in passing this measure. At the same time, it would be assisting a most desirable class of settler, whose hours are long and whose returns are poor - a body of men who were induced by the governments of Australia to engage in this industry.
Some of the men who were placed on the land to engage in grape-growing were obliged to relinquish their blocks, owing to their unsuitability for the purpose, after the material date mentioned in the bill-. I understand that an amendment to meet their case is already in circulation.
– The honorable senator is anticipating the debate on that amendment.
– I hope that the provision which the Minister proposes to make will be ample to protect the interests of these men, who really were wineproducers within the meaning of this legislation. I shall support the second reading.
– It would appear that the cause of the trouble in the grape-growing industry is a legacy from the war. Numbers of soldiers were placed on the land, in accordance with the policy of the governments of Australia, and encouraged to produce grapes. So many of them have engaged in the industry that there has been an over-production, creating a surplus of Australian wine in the London market. In a desire to assist these settlers, a previous Government introduced the Wine Export Bounty Bill which was passed in 1924. Up to that time the quantity of wine exported from Australia had been comparatively small ; but, in consequence of the payment of the bounty, a market was found overseas for the surplus which was then being produced. The following table shows the quantity of wine exported and the amount paid in bounties from 1925-26 to 1928-29:-
The importations of wine into Great Britain from 1926 to 1928 were as under : -
Of these quantities, foreign wines totalled 15,920,410 gallons in 1926, 13,884,690 gallons in 1927, and 11,463,567 in 1928. Australia’s share of the total importations in 1926 was 1,756,746, in 1927 4,224,502, and in 1928, 1,733,577 gallons. The beverage wine consumed in Australia totals approximately 5,000,000 gallons per annum, leaving an exportable surplus of 4,000,000 gallons in a normal year. As Great Britain is importing such large quantities of foreign wines we are justified in asking why Australian winemakers cannot dispose of larger quantities of their product in the British market.
SenatorRae. - We cannot compel the British people to consume more Australian wine.
– The British Government should encourage trade within the Empire.
– But one good turn deserves another.
– As Great Britain imports large quantities of foreign wine, greater preference should be given to the Australian product.
– In exchange for the very substantial preference given to Great Britain.
– Yes, and which is worth millions of pounds to that country. The object of a bounty is really to assist the grape-growers, many of whom are in financial difficulties, and not the wine manufacturers, who are quite capable of looking after themselves. The first Wine Export Bounty Bill introduced by the Bruce-Page Government in 1924 provided for the payment of a bounty out of revenue as the financial position at that time was much easier than it is to-day, but the Labour Government on assuming office inherited from its predecessors a deficit of £5,000,000, and consequently had to make some other arrangement. That is my reply to Senator Chapman’s statement on. this subject. Some time ago the grape-growers in South Australia invited the South Australian federal members to meet them at Tanunda so that they could place their grievances before them. At that gathering it was said that unless the bounty was increased the grape-growers would be compelled to root up their vines, and now in consequence of the serious position confronting the grape-growers the Government has decided to pay an increased bounty as provided in the bill. The grape-growers were, however, informed that if the bounty were to be increased, it would have to be from funds derived by the imposition of additional excise which would result in the consumers of wine actually contributing the increased amount. When that suggestion was made the grape-growers in South Australia, and probably in other wine-producing States, said that they would haveto pay the bounty. Two months ago I attended a meeting of grape-growers at Tanunda when the chairman and others who addressed the meeting said that the bounty would have to be paid by the grapegrowers. I asked to be permitted to place the actual position before the meeting, but I was not permitted to do so, which was an act of discourtesy to a representative of that State. Some of the speakers at that gathering must have known that their statements were misleading, as they were aware that the bounty was to be paid out of additional revenue received from an increase in the excise on spirit used in fortifying wine. In this case as in others the additional excise will be passed on eventually to the consumer, and the only grape-growers who will contribute towards the bounty will be those who consume wine. When the Bruce-Page Government introduced the first Wine Export Bounty Bill in 1924, another measure providing for the payment of a bounty on dried fruits should also have been submitted, as in consequence of the higher prices obtained for wine many growers of wine-grapes discontinued drying the fruit, but sent it to the distilleries. This was instrumental in increasing the surplus of Australian wine on the London market. In 1919, the price of grapes was £16 a ton ; in 1920, it fell to £8 a ton; in 1921, it further dropped to £5 a ton ; and in the following year it was as low as £3 a ton. This decline indicates over-production. The growers who took their grapes to the distilleries made a serious mistake. They should have come to an understanding with the producers of dried fruits, and had their produce converted into dried fruit instead of wine. It may be suggested that that would have caused a glut in dried fruits on the London market, but I think that that would not have been the result. When the late Mr. Pratten was Minister for Trade and Customs, he pointed out that the whole of the dried fruits exported from Australia had been purchased by the public of Great Britain. If we had followed the example of Mr. Clapp, of Melbourne, and adopted all over Australia the slogan, “Eat more dried fruit,” the industry would probably have been in a much better position than that in which it is now placed.
The provision in the bill requiring the observance of certain industrial conditions is not likely to lead to the difficulty anticipated toy some honorable senators opposite. I imagine that the Minister would recognize that those receiving the bounty should pay fair wages to the employees ; but, on the other hand, he would see they were not harassed unduly. Mr. Penfold Hyland, in writing to the press recently, said he thought that no hardship would be caused if this provision were left in the bill. Others interested in the measure have expressed a similar view. . The Federal Viticultural Council has not raised the slightest objection to the proposal, and, if that body objected to the clause to which I refer, it was its duty to make the fact known to those in charge of the bill.
We are all anxious to help the industry, and we hope that the bounty will not be required for a long period. I asked some of the grape-growers if they expected to be able to do without the bounty when the industry had become firmly established in the London market, and they replied in the affirmative. Let us hope that the granting of this slight preference will result in the whole of the surplus crop being sold on the London market. The building up of this industry will increase employment for Australian workers. Senator Colebatch referred to the butter bounty, and to proposals for bounties on gold and other commodities. We know that the bounty on butter means an increase of 4d. a lb. to local consumers, and there is also a duty of 6d. a lb. on New Zealand butter; but, if we are protectionists, let us be honest about it, and show that we intend to protect every industry, whether primary or secondary, that needs assistance. We must be either protectionists or freetraders.
– Let us all get into the trough !
– Yes; or all get out of it.
– Soon there will not be room for all.
– There is always room. My friend, . Senator Glasgow, recognizes the value of bounties to primary producers in Queensland. If it is right to protect the great sugar industry, why should we not protect other primary industries ?
– Does the honorable senator think that all primary industries that are not paying, such as the wool and meat industries, should receive a bounty?
– That depends on the circumstances in each case. This bill deals with grapes, not wool. I have no doubt that the bill will be passed, and will prove of immeasurable benefit to the growers. Certainly South Australia will benefit to the greatest extent; but the success of an industry, no matter in what part of the Commonwealth it is carried on, must result in general gain. This country may be said to be the vineyard of the British Empire, and it behoves us to do what .we can to bring success to this valuable industry. I agree with the Government that the bounty should not be paid with respect to grapes grown on vines being planted now, or on those that may ,be planted in the future. I do not know whether this is a Federal or State matter, but a law should be passed to prevent the further planting of vines at the present time.
– That is the greatest condemnation of the bill that the honorable member could give.
– I fail to agree with Senator Pearce. I think my argument is both sound and logical. Further planting should be prohibited until a market is assured for the present output.
– The object of the bill is to stabilize the industry.
– Yes. When that has been done, it may be advisable to extend planting throughout Australia; but, if the growers will not agree to that measure of safety, compulsion should be exercised in that direction.
– They should be told that further planting would be carried out at their own risk.
– Yes. I wish the industry every success.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 - ( 1 . ) For the purposes of this act there shall be a trust account, known as the Wine Export Encouragement Account, which shall be kept in the books of the Treasury. (3.) There shall be payable monthly out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, into the trust account established in pursuance of this section, a sum equal to five shillings upon every gallon of spirit for fortifying Australian wine upon which spirit duty of excise is paid, or lias, since the twelfth day of March, One thousand nine hundred and thirty, been paid.
– I move -
That after the word “paid” at the end of sub-clause 3 the words “ at a rate in excess of the rates of duty in force on the said 12th day of March “ be inserted.
This amendment rectifies an omission in the bill regarding the trust account. As the clause stands at present 5s. duty on every gallon of spirits duty paid since the 13th March has to be paid into the trust account. A considerable quantity of fortified wine in bond will be duty paid at the rates of duty on fortifying spirits operating before 13th March. These rates were in force when the wine was fortified, the duty then being 5s. or 6s. per gallon of spirit. It is the intention of this bill that 5s. on every gallon duty paid at the higher rates of 10s. and lis. only shall be paid into the trust account, and this amendment provides accordingly.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 -
The rate of bounty . . . shall be one shilling and ninepence per gallon.
Provided further that no bounty shall be payable in respect of wine which is not shown, to the satisfaction of the Minister, to be the product of areas planted with vines on or before the thirty-first day of March, One thousand nine hundred and twenty-eight.
– I move-
That the House of Representatives bc requested to make the following amendment: - “ After the words ‘ twenty-eight ‘ insert ‘ or in the case of an irrigation area planted with vines with the assistance of the Government of a State, before the commencement of this act.’ “
I explained this matter on the second reading. The purpose of the amendment is to rectify an omission in another place to cover soldiers whose blocks have been condemned under some State repatriation scheme and who have been transferred to other blocks, which have been planted with vines since the 31st March, 1928.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH (Western Australia) [9.4]. - This clause says that no bounty shall be paid in respect of wine which is not shown to the satisfaction of the Minister to be the product of areas planted with vines prior to the 31st March, 1928. I take it that the private individual who, at his own expense, has planted vines between 31st March, 1928, and the passage of this bill, is to be denied the advantage of this bounty, whereas any person who has, within tha same short period of a little over two years, planted vines with government assistance is to get the bounty. It is a most extraordinary and unfair discrimination.
– I could understand the honorable senator’s objection if this were an ordinary bill, but after a proviso had been inserted to guard against the payment of bounty on wines produced from vines planted since the 31st March, 1928, it was discovered that certain blocks on which, under State repatriation schemes, soldiers had been placed, had been condemned and that the soldiers had been transferred to other blocks. An amendment was, therefore, necessary to meet the particular cases of those soldiers. The difficulty was to arrive at a wording which would cover their cases, and at the same time exclude all planting after a certain date. These soldiers are morally entitled to the benefits of the bounty.
– They would be legally entitled to them if they had remained on their original blocks.
– I am obliged to the honorable senator for reminding anc of that.
– But why should people who planted vines since the 31st March, 1928, be penalized?
– With a view to stabilizing the wine export trade, all sections of the industry were consulted, and it was agreed by them that one way, among others, in which it could be done was to restrict planting. A date had to be fixed so that bounty would not be payable on wines the product of vines planted after that date. Experts fixed it as the 31st March, 1928, and Parliament is now asked to give legal sanction to the agreement between the Government and the experts in the industry in that respect. After the proviso was framed and passed by another place it was discovered that returned soldiers who had been transferred from their original blocks and had planted their new blocks, were not covered by it. The amendment I am now moving is to enable the bounty to be paid to those men. In fixing a date, the parties were no doubt influenced by the fact that a similar’ proviso was inserted in the 1927 amendment of the Wine Export Bounty Act.
– The words of the amendment certainly do not exclude other persons.
– I have already endeavoured to explain how difficult it is to employ language capable of restricting it to one class while not making it wide enough to include others not intended to be covered. The object the Government had in view was to meet the case of repatriated soldiers transferred to new blocks and the most suitable wording suggested to us is that which has been submitted to the committee. The only class of people likely to be covered by the amendment are the soldiers settled in irrigated areas in the River Murray valley.
– Why not include all present growers?
– Because in the matter of the payment of the bounty some date had to be fixed.
– Why not say straight out that it has been found necessary to limit production?
– It has been found necessary to do so in order to stabilize the industry.
– What is to happen to the mcn who, without Government assistance, have planted since the 31st March, 1928 ?
– The bill has been circulated through every wine-growing district, every wine-grower has been fully apprised of its provisions and the secretary of the Federal Viticultural Council, who is now in Canberra, has authorized me to say that not one objection has been raised by any grower on his council to any of the provisions of the measure.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [9.11]. - We can quite see the purpose of the amendment. It is to meet the case of men who were growing vines before the 31st of March, 1928, but because of their blocks having proved unsuitable have been obliged, with Government assistance, to plant other blocks since that date. It is, however, not the only form in which Government assistance is given. In Western Australia the Agricultural Bank, which has nothing to do with repatriation efforts, gives assistance to wine-growers.
– The amendment relates only to wine-growers in an irrigation area.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.That is certainly a limitation, but is the Government satisfied that there are no irrigation areas, except those on the river Murray, which have recently been planted with vines with Government assistance?
– There is no definition of “government assistance,” and it seems to me that any person who has taken up a block since the 31st March, 1928, and with Government assistance planted it with vines, would be eligible to receive the bounty.
– He would be, if he could be found, but we are satisfied that he cannot be found.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH (Western Australia) [9.13]. - If the.committee wishes to pass .the amendment in its present form, let it do so by all means, but I do not want to become a party to it without protest. Either people have planted vines between the 31st March, 1928, and the present time, or they have not. If they have not, there is no need for the provision. If they have we are favouring one individual at the expense of another, and the wine-grower so favoured has already received Government assistance. The proviso exposes the hollowness of the entire proposal, because apparently the export of wine cannot succeed unless production is restricted; unless the development of the industry is restricted, it must collapse. How foolish it is to stop the production of wine in order to prevent the industry from growing. I question very much the constitutional validity of a provision which gives preference to certain indivduals. It is all very well to say that a similar provision was in an earlier wine export bounty act. That is done with. This is a new bill and a bounty is now offered to all people who had their vines planted before 31st March, 1928, and to some who, with Government assistance, have planted vines between then and the passage of this bill.
– Put -in returned soldiers. That would suit the Government.
– What does it matter who are put there. The bounty must be equitable. It must be based on some principle or other. I do not think that this proviso would stand legal scrutiny. Why should not the whole thing apply from the passage of the measure? What harm is contemplated? Is it anticipated that a number of people have been planting vines in the interim ? ,
– They have.
– If they have been bona fide planters, using their own money and industry, what right has the Government to come along and say, “ You shall not receive the bounty “ ? It has not yet been made a crime to plant grape vines. What justification is there for saying that the men who have planted grape iiifs during the last couple of years shall be debarred from participating in the bounty?
– I am afraid that a little misapprehension has arisen with regard to this clause. I understand that the 31st March, 1928,was fixed as an arbitrary date, in compliance with the opinions ex pressed by the representatives of the States concerned, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia, New South Wales. Those States found that after the boom period of production occurred, many individuals planted vines which were bearing crops of an unmarketable character. I believe that it was in the September of 1927, that a warning was issued to the effect that any grapes planted after the 31st March, 1928, would not come under the provisions of the bounty. That was issued either by the late Mr. Pratten or by Mr. Paterson. I know that it was agreed to warn all the Governments of the States in which wine grapes were produced. The industry, so far as it can, be articulated, indicated by a deputation at which Senator O’Halloran, Senator Hoare and I were present, and over which Senator Newlands presided, that it was prepared to support the State Governments in the matter, because it was felt that a bounty could not justifiably be sought unless something was done to prevent excessive planting. Afterwards attention was called by the South Australian Government to a certain group which had been settled by the Government in a particular area and had planted grapes prior to the prescribed date. The commission presided over by Mr. Justice Pike found that it was impossible for those men to make a living on the poor class of land upon which they had been settled, and they were removed to another settlement, which was prepared for their reception, and were specifically included in the benefits of the bounty.
The conditions laid down by the Federal Government at the time were accepted by all concerned, the State Governments being anxious to prevent the further planting of an unmarketable type of grape. When an industry seeks assistance in the form of a bounty the proposal needs to be examined very narrowly. The very application for a bounty indicates that something is wrong. But I see no great objection to the clause in its present form. It has been suggested that the words are either too wide or too narrow in their application. They have been expressly limited to deal with the irrigation area planted with vines previously described by me.
– Why should not the conditions apply from the commencement of the act?
– It appears to me to be advisable to accept the date that was fixed upon by the representatives of the industry. It has been suggested that those people are in the majority, and naturally want to prevent anybody else from starting in the industry.
– They also will be prevented from further planting.
– I am obliged for that interjection. The provision also prevents those in the industry, and the big producers of wine for export, from expanding their own holdings.
– Who checks their plantings?
– That is very easily undertaken. In South Australia the particulars of plantings are supplied to the Customs Department. The winegrowers’ organization itself has represented to these men that they should not make any further plantings. If there is any slight discrepancy in the drafting of the bill I fail to see it, although I have not had much time thoroughly to examine it. It seems to me to meet the case that the Minister has in mind.
SenatorRAE (New South Wales) [9.24]. - I do not intend to criticize the clause, beyond pointing out that the very fact that such a provision as this is neces-. sary, should for all time deprive honorable senators opposite of their favourite slogan that only by increased production can we solve our economic difficulties.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH (Western Australia) [9.25]. - It is all very well to talk a,bout organizations. I am concerned with the rights of individuals. The amendment seeks to meet some special case that has been brought under the notice of the Government - a most dangerous method of legislation. How do we know that there are not many other special cases that have not been brought under the notice of the Government? Is it not probable that some individual, believing, as I believe, and as I am sure my honorable friend, SenatorRae believes, that our trouble is not that we are producing too much, but too little, has, without bothering about Government aid, planted a vineyard during the last couple of years with his own capital and his own industry? Is it not monstrously unfair to come along and say that a bonus shall be given to every one else but him, thus driving him out of the business by making it impossible for him to compete with the others? I shall vote not only against the amendment, but against the sub-clause.
Question - That the House ofRepresentatives be requested to insert the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Daly’s amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bequest agreed to.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH (Western Australia) [9.30]. - If some persons, who planted vines after the date mentioned in the bill, are to receive a bonus, while others who planted vines after that date are to be deprived of any bonus, I ask the committee to vote against the clause altogether, with a view to submitting a new clause. If honorable senators desire to prevent the industry from growing, then let us put in a clause limiting the operation of this bonus to vines planted up to the present time. It is wrong to go back and say that a person who, with his own money and his own enterprise, planted vines after a certain date shall be deprived of the bounty.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH.What right had Parliament to warn them? If a man has the pluck to go in for grape-growing, why should we come along and say that we will grant a bounty to others, but not to him? Why should we try to crush him out?
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH.That is monstrous. Every one should be treated on the same basis. But to r the bounty to some and not to others, is to act most unfairly. Are we to arrogate to ourselves the right to say that a man shall not be permitted . to cultivate his land, or produce this, or that? What harm would be done by inserting a clause to limit the operation of the act to vines planted up to the present date? That would be stupid; but it would not be unfair. This is not the old bounty provided by an act passed some time ago, but a new bounty with which this Parliament is dealing to-day.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH.But this bill provides an additional bounty.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH.Quite so; but the unfortunate man who has planted vines in the meantime, although contributing towards the bounty, will not benefit from it.
– Senator Colebatch is in error on two main points. In my secondreading speech, I made it clear that, instead of bringing in an amending bill, the Government, after a conference with the interested parties, thought that a better plan would be to repeal the old act and introduce a new measure. The bill before us is really an extension of the schemes instituted by our predecessors in office. Those who came under the old scheme asked the present Government to increase the assistance granted to the industry in order that they could export their products. After conferring with the parties, and giving the matter full consideration, the Government decided to give the necessary relief, and to impose the extra burden on the industry itself.
– Some who will share the burden will be denied a share in the bounty.
– Is the honorable senator aware that unless the grapes are purchased for wine for export there will bc no bounty ?
– I know that.
– And does he know that the only persons who pay for the bounty are those who drink wine in Australia ?
– The person who drinks the wine, not the wine-maker, paysthe bounty. I ask the committee to agree to the clause as it stands. It is in accordance with the wishes of a deputation from the wine interests. When a previous bill for the granting of a bounty was before Parliament, it was then underStood that planting was to cease. Because of our repatriation schemes, the wine industry and the dried fruits industry had got into such a position that unless pla nting was stopped the difficulties would never be overcome.
– Has much planting taken place since 1928?
– Not a great deal.
– Then why shut out those few people?
– The scheme is based on certain facts which are known to the Government. If the committee were to throw out the clause, it would mean calling the parties together again to consider whether the extra impost would be sufficient to meet the cases of those who planted vines after they were told not to do so. I hope that honorable senators will realize that this is an honest attempt to assist producers, and to stabilize the wine trade. I ask them not to impose any greater obligation on the Government by altering the clause. The clause as it stands will not give rise to many cases of hardship.
– Why should there be any ?
– I do not think that there will be any. It is significant that not one member of this Parliament has received a protest against the clause as printed. I am not aware that any vines have been planted since 1928. This bill is an extension of the 1928 bounty, with a provision for an increased bounty and increased obligations. No new principle is involved, nor is there any substance in the objections that have been raised.
Clause agreed to, subject to a request.
Clauses 7 to . 13 agreed to.
Clause 14 - (1.) The Minister may make application to the Chief Judge or a Judge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration or to any Commonwealth authority established for the purpose of determining wages and conditions of employment, for a declaration as to what wages and conditions of employment are fair and reasonable for labour employed in the manufacture of fortified wine, and in the production of grapes, and in the manufacture of fortifying spirit used in the manufacture of fortified wine.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia)) [9.41]. - I move -
That all the words after the word “ wine “ first occurring, sub-clause (1 ) , be left out.
The words “ and in the production of grapes “ would include clearing and fencing the land, erection of buildings, preparation of the ground, and the planting of the vines, while the words “in the manufacture of fortifying spirit used in the manufacture of fortifying wine” cover a number of operations. The clause in its present form means that we are to have an inquiry to ascertain whether fair wages have been paid in every phase of industry connected with the manufacture of wine. It is an entirely novel proposal. This Parliament has passed a number of acts providing for the payment of bounties and the observance of certain industrial conditions, but this is the first one that goes beyond the actual manufacture of the article on which the bounty is paid. I have here the Iron and Steel Products Bounty Act 1922, which provides for a declaration that the wages and labour conditions shall he fair and reasonable for the labour employed in the manufacture of fencing wire, galvanized sheets, traction engines or wire netting. Parliament never intended that manufacturers should go back and be required to declare that the wages paid in the mining of the ore and the coal, and their transport to the factories, were fair and reasonable. As I said in my second-reading speech, this is an attempt under cover of a bounty, to introduce a code of industrial regulation in a field already covered by State legislation. In the wine-making States of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, ‘there are industrial tribunals of some kind for the regulation of wages and conditions of labour. Those tribunals are capable ofregulating the conditions of employment in the winemaking industry. Nothing can be accomplished by this clause that cannot be accomplished by State legislation. Unless it is to be accompanied by the establishment of a costly inspectorial staff, the clause will be found to be unworkable. How can a man who exports, say 1,000 gallons of wine, make a declaration that the wages paid in all the stages of its manufacture right back to the cultivation of the ground, comply with the award of the court? This provision is simply placed in the bill as a placard by the Government to make it appear to its supporters that an attempt is being made to regulate the wages and conditions of labour right back to the initial stages of the industry. This measure should be framed on practically the same lines as other bounty acts. No one can say that, during the years they have been in operation, they have been detrimental or that any one has complained of the wages paid being unreasonable. The Government would accomplish all it desires if the words to which I have objected were omitted. If the committee agrees to my amendment, I shall move a consequential amendment to the same effect in sub-paragraphs 5 and 6.
– I do not desire to stress what I am sure must be obvious to honorable senators: that the wine industry of Australia is in a parlous position.
– It is not the only one.
– And this provision will not improve it.
– The Government has a special interest in this industry, and I shall endeavour to show that if this amendment is agreed to it will seriously affect the scheme which the industry, with the assistance of the Government, is assisting to carry out. The Government has a considerable interest and responsibility in the industry because of the expenditure incurred by the Commonwealth and State Governments in repatriating returned soldiers. It is an industry which the Government cannot, without losing millions of pounds and destroying the prospects of those who have been placed on the land, allow to go to the wall. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Sir George Pearce) said that this provision will not assist the industry, but I submit that it will, particu larly as experts in the business have deemed it essential to bring about, as far as possible, uniform conditions. Those concerned include the wine-makers who purchase grapes direct from the growers, and wine-makers who purchase the partially manufactured product from a distillery. This bounty is payable on wine exported. A distillery which is not bound to pay a fixed price for grapes can purchase the grapes from a grower at any price, partially manufacture them into wine and sell its product to a winemaker who will complete the process and export the wine, an awkward position at once arises. Senator Chapman was correct in saying that the words objected to by the Leader of the Opposition were not in the bill when presented in another place; but they were subsequently inserted by way of amendment. The Federal Viticultural Council, as well as the growers and the wine-makers, were advised of the amendment to be made.
– How long ago?
– The honorable senator should remember that it is the consumers of Australian wine who will pay the bounty, and, therefore, it would be the manufacturers, whose principal trade is in Australia, who would be affected by a provision of this nature. Mr. Penfold Hyland, according to an Adelaide newspaper, stated that he was in entire agreement with this proposal.
– Is he an exporter ?
– The exporter does not contribute towards the bounty; he merely collects it. The industry has to pay an increased duty on spirit used for fortifying wine, and in that respect the Leader of the Opposition appears to be astray. The manufacturer of wine sold in the home market together with those who consume it will have to bear the whole of the burden necessary to meet the bounty to be paid on wine exported. If the largest manufacturers of wine for local consumption are behind the Government in this connexion what is there to fear? I agree with the contention of the Leader of the Opposition that this is a novel provision in that it is not to be found in any other bounty bill. But the principle is not novel; it is contained in the Sugar Bounty Act.
– In that case the bounty goes to the actual producer.
– When the Sugar Bounty Bill was first introduced provision was made in it with respect to secondary production and the right honorable senator moved an amendment.
– Will the Minister accept a similar amendment?
– I accept the principle. The Leader of the Opposition, when the Sugar Bounty Bill was before the Senate, said that employees engaged in primary production are as much entitled to consideration as those engaged in secondary production, and he moved an amendment to apply the same principle to those engaged in primary production. The position is that a bounty is to be paid to one section, but we are attempting also to safeguard the rights of another section. If Parliament believes that in the granting of a bounty those engaged in the secondary industries should be protected as well as the grapegrowers who are receiving a fixed price for their grapes this clause will be agreed to. Two courses were open to the Government, one being to adopt the form of legislation to which Senator Colebatch has objected. The Government could have issued a proclamation fixing the price of grapes, and in that proclamation have imposed conditions similar to those embodied in this clause. To that the Leader of the Opposition, on the arguments advanced by him this evening, would not have objected; but because we make this provision in the bill itself he objects. As these proposals have been carefully considered by the Government and submitted to the industry and will ensure uniform wages and conditions throughout the industry, I trust the committee will reject the amendment.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [9.55]. - If the Minister (Senator Daly) is prepared to accept the principle embodied in the amendment which I moved on the Sugar Bounty Bill in 1905, he should also accept the amendment I have now moved. The bounty paid in 1905 was on the sugar cane delivered by the grower and not on manufactured sugar.
– That is not so.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The bounty was paid on the sugar contents of the cane, but to the growers and not to the manufacturers.
– It was on the sugar contents and not on the cane.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.But it was paid to the growers. My amendment was to the effect that the producers of white-grown sugar claiming a bounty payable under that act should in making such claims, submit to the Minister a certificate of what the rates of wages were, &c. That would be the effect of this clause if my amendment were carried. The bounty in this case is paid to the manufacturer of fortified wine.
– Provision is made in this bill for the payment of a fixed price for grapes.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Not in this clause.
– But it is in the bill.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.In a clause that has been passed. Provision is made for the payment of a bounty on fortified wine, and if my amendment i3 carried the manufacturer of wine will have to certify that the wages paid are those which the Minuter is satisfied are in accordance with Arbitration Court awards. That is a similar amendment to that which I moved in 1905, and which the Minister said he was prepared to accept.
– No; I said I accepted the principle.
– The principle is the same. The Minister referred to repatriated soldiers and suggested that they would benefit by the bounty. They will not be prejudiced if my amendment is carried.
– But the scheme might collapse.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE”.How can it? Is it contended that the labour employed in the industry is poorly paid and that the South Australian Parliament in particular is not competent or willing to protect those engaged in the industry?
– It seems to me that Senator Pearce is entirely overlooking the comprehensive nature of this bill. In every case where a bounty has been given in the past, we have provided that the wages and conditions of the employees in the industry shall be safeguarded.
– Not in the previous Wine Bounty Bill.
– With that exception, that has been the practice, and the honorable senator was the first member of this Parliament to introduce that principle into the legislation which shows that he regards it as sound.
– I am not departing from it, in submitting my amendment.
– I do not suppose for a moment that he wishes to do so; but, if honorable senators will examine the bill closely, they will see that the granting of the bounty is dependent, not only upon the payment of certain wages, but also upon the price paid for grapes and fortifying spirit. Having protected, first of all, the manufacturer of the wine, and then the grower, and the manufacturer of fortifying spirit, what is wrong with covering the whole industry by protecting wages? That is the most logical thing we could possibly do.
– But this measure might cover wages paid in planting vines ten years ago.
– In every case, so far as I know - Senator Pearce said that there was an exception in the case of the last Wine Bounty Bill - Parliament, in providing for a bounty, has protected the wages of the workers, and what could be more logical than that? I assume that Parliament will always protect the workers. In this bill we are going a step further, and, while protecting the manufacturer, we are also protecting the grower of the grapes and the manufacturer of fortifying spirit. We say that no bounty shall be paid unless the grower receives a proper price, so why not declare that the labourer shall receive a proper remuneration for his work? The proposal is no departure from the principle laid down by Senator Pearce in the amendment brought down by him in 1925.
– The language used in this clause is very difficult. What is the meaning of labour employed “in the production of grapes”?
– I am not criticizing or defending the precise wording of the clause; but the principle is one that Parliament has invariably adopted in the past. Every party represented in Parliament to-day has, by its own legislation, maintained that principle, and I can see no objection to the clause under consideration, though I must confess that 1 sincerely sympathize with the officers of the department, who will be called upon to police the provisions of the bill. I do not know whether that can be done effectively; but, at all events, Parliament discharges its duties in trying to see that the conditions laid down are carried out.
– I point out to Senator Greene that the bill provides for the policing of labour performed ten, or, perhaps, twenty years ago, in the clearing of the land for the growing of the grapes.
– Nothing of the kind.
– We have just laid it down that bounty is to be paid only with respect to wine produced from grapes grown on areas planted, with one exception, on or before the 31st March, 1928. It seems to me to be quite impossible to observe such conditions. I agree with the amendment submitted by Senator Pearce.
– There is one point on which I wish to be quite clear. We are dealing with a bill for the purpose of paying a bounty on export wine. The clause provides that the Minister may make application to the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration for a declaration as to what wages and conditions of employment are fair and reasonable for labour employed in the manufacture of fortified wine. It appears to me that that provision would apply to the manufacturer of, not only export wines, but all fortified wines. We know that a large quantity of fortified wine is consumed in Australia.
– Look at sub-clause 5.
– The sub-clause states that every person who claims the bounty shall furnish to the Minister evidence as to the conditions of employment observed.
– Sub-clause 1 gives the court power to make a declaration as to what are fair wages and conditions. It does not confer on an employee the right to claim those wages and conditions, but it gives the Minister power to refuse the bounty unless the declaration is obeyed with respect to the limited class referred to in sub-clause 4, that is, the manufacturers of fortified wines on which the bounty is claimed.
– Sub-section 6 makes the position clear.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [10.8]. - I do not accept the contention of Senator Greene. This bounty is to be payable on the export of fortfied wine, and it is to be paid to the manufacturer who exports it. The bill provides that the grower of the grapes shall receive for them the price that the Minister thinks fair and reasonable. To that extent the grower is an employee of the manufacturer of the wine.
– He is a participator in the bounty.
– No. The grape grower does not get the bounty as in the case of the sugar-grower. The wage of the grower is the price he gets for his grapes, because he is not a wage-earner in the same sense as the man whose wages are fixed by the Arbitration Court. I point out that there is another class whose wages are to be fair and reasonable, that is the manufacturer of fortified spirit. Will Senator Greene say that he, too, falls within the same category as the grower?
– Of course, he does.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE. There is no stipulation in the bill that he should receive a fair price for his fortified spirit; but he has to certify that the wages paid in the manufacture of that spirit are fair and reasonable. I certainly urge the committee to accept my amendment. If the vicious principle contained in the clause is accepted, it will no doubt be embodied in every measure of a similar nature.
SenatorRAE (New South Wales) [10.11]. - It seems to me that, in proposing his amendment, Senator Pearce has been blind to a previous clause. Clause 11 provides that the grape-grower shall receive a fair and reasonable price for his grapes. Consequently, the proposed labour conditions are not confined to the exporter of wine. First of all, the grapegrower is to have a fair and reasonable price, and those who manufacture fortified spirit are to be similarly safeguarded. Sub-clause 1 of clause 11 provides -
Nobounty shall be payable unlessthe Minister is satisfied that -
the grower of any grapes used in the production of the wine, or in the production of the fortifying spirit contained in the wine, in respect of which bounty is claimed, has received or will receive a price or an amount for those grapes which in the opinion of the Minister is a reasonable price or amount; and
the distiller of any fortifying spirit contained in the wine, in respect of which bounty has been claimed, has received or will receive a price for that spirit which in the opinion of the Minister is a reasonable price, and that no arrangement or understanding affecting the price of the spirit has been or will be made or entered into between the buyer and the seller or by any one on behalf of either of them by way of discount, rebate, compensation or in any manner whatever other than as fully shown in the contract for the sale of the spirit.
That preserves the pecuniary rights of all concerned in the production of wine,or the spirit used in the fortification of wine, other than the labourer. If it is wrong to make the provision which Senator Pearce is seeking to eliminate, he should have the bill recommitted to enable him to move an amendment to clause 11. If every other party to the production of wine for export is to be protected, why should the wage-earners, if any are employed, be denied similar protection ? Where the work is carried on by members of a grower’s family, there will be no reason for interference on the part of the Minister, or for any declaration by a judge. Only in cases where sweating conditions were alleged to obtain would the Minister be likely to intervene. No government would go out of its way to look for trouble by trying to dictate what wages should be paid unless there was a reasonable complaint from a section of the workers that they were being subjected to sweating conditions.
– Each State has its own industrial court.
SenatorRAE- In Queensland, and in New South Wales, rural workers have recently been deprived of the opportunity to go to the State arbitration courts for the settlement of their claims.
– In South Australia they are also precluded from approaching the court.
SenatorRAE- The New South Wales Government is threatening to skittle all legislation that protects the workers, and I suppose that the other States will not be far behind in following the example of New South Wales. It would, therefore, be a flagrant injustice to deprive the rural workers of anopportunity possessed by all other parties to the production of wine to seek the protection of some tribunal against those who would try to compel them to work under sweating conditions.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out (Senator Sir George Pearce’s amendment) - put.
The committee divided.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).There being thirteen “ ayes “ and thirteen “ noes,” I therefore declare the question resolved in the negative.
Amendment negatived. Clause agreed to.
Clauses 15 to 17 agreed to.
Preamble agreed to.
.- I move-
That the word “ Bounty “ be left out with the view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ Encouragement.”
It seems to me that it would be more in harmony with the spirit of the measure to call it the Wine Export Encouragement Act. It is not a bounty measure, seeing that the industry itself is providing all the money required to pay a bounty on the export of fortified wines.
– Why not call it the Wine Export Stabilization Act?
– I prefer the word “ encouragement.”
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [9.25]. - I was almost rising to a point of order as to whether the amendment is not frivolous. How can this bill be called an encouragement bill when certain of its provisions discourage the further planting of vines? If the honorable senator would substitute the word, “ discouragement,” for “ encouragement,” in his amendment, I should support it. I shall certainly not support the amendment as it now stands.
SenatorRAE (New South Wales [10.26]. - The bill provides that if the amount paid into the trust fund is not sufficient to meet the payment of bounties, the necessary sum is to be taken from the ConsolidatedRevenue. The probability of the Government giving direct assistance in that way undoubtedly- justifies the title of the bill.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment and a request.
Standing Orders suspended; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Daly) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till to-morrow at 10.30 a.m.
Federations Secession Movement in Western Australia.
Motion (by Senator Daly) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
SenatorRAE (New South Wales) [10.30]. - Last evening Senator Dunn referred to the threatened secession of Western Australia from the Commonwealth. The matter was treated with a certain amount of levity as if it were really a joke. I, myself, have no objection to any State seceding from the Commonwealth if it thinks it has sufficient reasons for so doing. It may be in the same position as a boy who is not satisfied with the treatment he receives at home. The best way to teach him the value of the advantages of his home, -which he is scorning, is to allow him to go adrift for a while, and like the prodigal son, it may not be long before he returns to the household. But the views of Western Australia on the subject of secession must be taken seriously, because the position to-day is vastly different from that which obtained when mere references to, or threats of, secession were being made. A meeting reported to have been held recently in Perth, was attended by the Lord Mayor, by Ministers of the Crown, by the Premier himself, who was in thechair, and by at least one senator. This matter is, therefore, beyond a joke and has reached a serious stage. I think that the Senate is, therefore, entitled to know whether you, Mr. President, holding as you do one of the highest and most responsible positions in the Commonwealth, and other honorable senators who represent Western Australia, are supporting the secession movement. The Senate has a right to know where honorable senators representing Western Australia stand on this question. The Constitution of the Commonwealth provides that the Commonwealth shall be an indissoluble union under the Crown.
Constitution provides for a federal union and the Labour party is out to destroy the federal feature of that union.
SenatorRAE. - The honorable senator’s interjection is irrelevant because he and other honorable senators on that side last night succeeded in rejecting the constitutional bills, which, if carried, might have affected the position of the Commonwealth.
SenatorRAE. - The position to-day is the same as it has always been. The Senate, by a majority decision, washed its hands of those measures, therefore they cannot constitute a ground for the action being taken by Western Australia, So far as the Senate is concerned that legislation is dead.
SenatorRAE. - Honorable senators indicated from the beginning that they would vote against the proposals, and they did so. Do they mean that the defeat of those bills has deprived them of their case? If so, they should make the admission in a formal speech, and not by interjection. We should know where they stand. I do not think that it would be advisable for the Commonwealth, as a whole, to offer resistance of any kind to a State that thought fit to secede from the Commonwealth, provided that that State arranged to discharge any joint obligations that it had incurred.
SenatorRAE. - I do not know; but I take it that there would have to be an alteration of the Imperial Act.
– No determination can be arrived at on this or any other matter on the motion for the adjournment. The discussion that takes place on this motion is’ simply for the purpose of bringing before the notice of the Minister events that have come within the knowledge of honorable senators, in order that he may remedy them or suggest a remedy. SenatorRae is not out of order, but I suggest to him that he should put his views in a more effective form by means of a motion, of which he would have to give notice.
SenatorRAE. - I am not oblivious of the fact that, insofar as this . matter is concerned, no determination can be arrived at on a motion for the adjournment of the Senate, but it has been the custom, ever since I have had knowledge of parliamentary institutions, for honorable senators to be granted the opportunity to ventilate subjects which they deem to be of sufficient importance, on the motion for the adjournment. I therefore believe that I have a perfect right to ventilate this important matter. I realize that if I made it the subject of a motion it would be just as far off as the Greek Kalends. This is not a matter for levity. The gentlemen to whomI have referred occupy important positions, and it is my opinion that the time has arrived for them to declare exactly where they stand.
Sentaor CARROLL (Western Australia) [10.39]. - I submit that, in bringing . this matter before the Senate, SenatorRae and Senator Dunn have succeeded in discovering a mare’s nest of first-class magnitude. I suggest that, following the procedure in regard to papers, they should ask the Leader of the Government inthe Senate (Senator Daly) to allow that mare’s nest to lay on the table of the chamber. .
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH (Western Australia) [10.40]. - I draw the attention of SenatorRae and Senator Dunn to the fact that the only suggestion made at the conference to which they refer, was that a referendum shouldbe taken of the people of Western Australia in order to allow them to express an opinion on the subject. Is that what the honorable senators object to?
– I raise no objection; I merely wanted to know where honorable senators stood in the matter.
. - SenatorRae and I, as representatives of the State of New South Wales, have a legitimate right to ventilate this subject on a motion for the adjournment of the Senate. We say, without fear of contradication, that there would be no talk of secession if the Bruce-Page Government were in power to-day.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.42 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 May 1930, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1930/19300529_senate_12_124/>.