12th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. W. Kingsmill) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– In view of the verdict of the people of Tasmania upon the Federal Government’s financial proposals, is it the intention of the Federal Government to persist in those proposals ?
– The honorable senator is aware that it is not the practice to declare the Government’s policy in reply to questions.
The following papers were presented : -
Proposed Paper Industry of Tasmania -
Report by H. W. Gepp, Consultant on Development to Commonwealth Government, and I. H. Boas, Chief of Forests Products Division of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
Tariff Board - Reports and Recommendations -
Dredging and Excavating Machinery.
Dry Batteries and Dry Cells.
Electric Storage Batteries and Parts.
Fashion Plates and Books.
Furs and other Skins and Articles made thereof; Dressed Babbit Skins.
Malleable Iron Castings.
Pressed and Pressed Blown Glassware.
Telephone and Telegraph Apparatus.
Customs Act - Regulations amended - Statu tory Rules 1931, No. 42.
Excise Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1931, No. 43.
Public Service Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1931, No. 46.
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1931, No. 48- No. 49- No.50No. 51.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1931, No. 45.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1931, No. 47.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act- Building and Services Ordinance - Regulations amended.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Will he supply a statement showing the services of Mr. J. H. Vaughan, of South Australia, in the Australian Imperial forces, and subsequently, including - (a) period in Australia; (b) period in England; (c) period in France; (d) ranks and pay; (e) amount of gratuity paid?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
Mr. Vaughan enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces, at Adelaide,on 13th July, 1917. His appointment in the Australian Imperial Forces was terminated on 4th February, 1920.
Pay, &c., and ranks - 1st August, 1917, to 29th October, 1917, private, 5s. per diem; 30th October, 1917, to 22nd November, 1918, lance-corporal,6s. per diem; 23rd November, 1918, to 4th February, 1920, lieutenant, 17s. 6d. per diem. Field allowance - 23rd November, 1918, to 10th December, 1919, 3s. 6d. per diem.
asked the Minister representing the Minister forRepatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Debate resumed from the 1st May (vide page 1541), on motion by Senator Barnes -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [3.10]. - At present the total unfunded debt in London of all the Australian Governments is £38,075,000. Of this £5,000,000 is in respect of bills due on the 30th June next, a further £5,000,000 is due to the Westminster Bank, £2,950,000 to Australian banks, and £25,125,000 to the Commonwealth Bank. It will, therefore, be seen that the sum of about £28,000,000 has been found by the Commonwealth and other Australian banks to assist the Government’s finances in London, apart altogether from the huge sum that is owing in Australia. Yet we find the Government denouncing the banks for issuing a warning that the present system cannot continue, the allegation being that they are attempting to dictate the policy of the Government. The total amount of gold held in reserve in Australia against the note issue is £15,150,000. We are asked in this bill to give the Government authority to ship ‘all that gold out of Australia, to take away from the Commonwealth Bank Board the control of the gold reserve, and practically to place the issue of notes in the hands of the Treasurer. The Minister (Senator Barnes) said that it is proposed in the first place to send only £5,000,000 worth of gold to London, thus leaving only £10,150,000 worth in Australia. But we know that a further £5,000,000 will shortly become due to the Westminster Bank, and that the process will continue until the whole of our gold has been shipped away. When the whole of our gold reserve has been disposed of, our note issue will become a fiduciary issue. The Senate has already registered its objection to a fiduciary note issue, and I submit that in this bill the Senate is asked to stultify its previous decision. But would that process provide any real cure for the malady from which Australia is at present suffering? Is it not a mere palliative and a very ineffective one at that? Does it not mean that default is inevitable if this spendthrift course is continued? I invite the Senate to consider this question. The Government say that there is no alternative, and that if £5,000,000 worth of gold is not shipped. Australia must default. When the Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board (Sir Robert Gibson) was before the Senate last week, he said in answer to a question that there was another alternative, but it was not within his province to say what that alternative was since it involved a political question.
Unless tie Government oan assert both 1 and 2 and prove its assertions, the challenge to the Senate fails. If the Government asserts both 1 and 2 it is pertinent to ask why they obtain, and whether they would obtain, if the Government abandoned its other financial proposals including the Fiduciary Note Issue, special taxation ‘.of interest, &c, which with the gold shipping proposals form parts of its complete scheme. It is safe to say that the Senate cannot be blamed in any effective way for default if it takes place. The real cause of default, if it should occur, will be the entire failure of Australian credit in London and the blame for this must fall on the shoulders of the present Government.
The ultimate objective in ‘ any plan for the rehabilitation of Australian finance will be the restoration of the gold standard - -unless some other standard be adopted internationally - so that Australia can resume an honored place among the financially respectable nations of the world. This task will be very difficult in. any event, but will be made tremendously more so by depleting our present gold reserve, so that by allowing it the Senate would be aggravating the evil effects of the present Government’s continuance in office which it will be the next Government’s problem to counteract and repair. To allow the gold to be shipped would indeed be helping the enemy at the expense of the friend. It will not strengthen the credit of Australia to ship gold under the present conditions ; on the contrary, it will weaken it. Abundant evidence of this has appeared in the cables from London, where the exact nature and intention of the proposal is not at all misunderstood, and where its relationship to inflation is fully recognized. The London problem is entirely a matter of credit. “With one exception - the state of our credit - everything in London at the present time is favorable to the solution of our immediate financial difficulties. Money is plentiful and cheap. The next Government, if elected by a solid majority of the people to put sound measures into effect, will have no real difficulty in funding the floating debt, including outstanding treasury-bills and July interest, and the difficulty will not be increased, but rather to the contrary, if the gold is kept in Australia. Shipping of gold will mean that we have frankly given up the idea of maintaining a properly regulated note issue, and it will further mean that we have lost hope of restoring the value of the, Australian £1 in terms of the British £1.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.I say that inflation is a form of repudiation, and that another form of it is the special taxation of interest derived from bonds, which the Government proposes by a bill that is now before Parliament. Our credit, or lack of it, in London is a reflex of governmental actions in Australia. The actions of the two governments to which I have referred have brought the credit of Australia to such a state that it is lower than the credit of any country with the exception, perhaps, of Central American republics such as Costa Rica. It is a fact that, on the stock exchanges of the world, our credit to-day ranks about equal with that of Costa Rica
I ask the Senate to reject this bill, and to place upon the Government the responsibility either of adopting the obvious alternative or of defaulting. This is not the alternative to default, and it will not obviate default. There is only one alternative to default, and the Government knows what it is as well as we do.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Government cannot borrow abroad until it has taken the alternative course of proving that it is trying to live within its income.
I do not propose to go over the figures that I quoted the other day. They show that, of the sum of £24,000,000 which the associated banks have found to assist governments to carry on in Australia, £12,000,000 has been found for the Commonwealth Government and £8,000,000 for the Government of New South Wales, the other five States having borrowed in the aggregate only £4,000,000. How, then, can we expect our credit to be restored or even to remain stable? It is slipping downhill; and this Government is doing and will do nothing to check that slippery descent. Time after time we have appealed to the Government to apply what obviously is the only alternative to default. It will not do that, but, on the contrary, persists in announcing that it is proceeding with its financial policy. That policy is the fundamental cause of the loss of our credit. Therefore, I am forced to the conclusion that the only way in which Australia’s credit can be restored is by this Government being torn from the treasury bench. It has ceased to govern. It exists to-day only with the support of members who despise it, and who pour contempt upon it. It has ceased to legislate. The legislation to which it has committed itself the people of this country have never had an opportunity to express an opinion upon.
If the Government really believes in a. fiduciary note issue, the shipment of gold abroad, and the taxation of interest, why does it not go to the country immediately upon that issue? Why wait until the country is further involved? If it made that the issue of an immediate election, and secured a mandate from the people of Australia to put it into effect, it would be entitled to demand the passage of its legislation no matter what the consequences might be to Australia.
I hope that the Senate will reject the bill, and thus indicate to the Government that, in the opinion of honorable senators, it is not a measure that will save Australia from default or improve our credit, but that on the contrary they regard it as a measure that will still further depreciate our credit. Its rejection will be some evidence of their desire to make the Government face up to its duty and to take measures that will not only rehabilitate the credit of Australia, but also enable us to live within our income.
Question - That the bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from the 29th April (vide page 1365) on motion by Senator Barnes -
That the paper he printed.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH (Western Australia)[3.32]. - At the conclusion of my remarks, I propose to sub- mit an amendment which, I think, will appeal to every member of this chamber, namely, to add to the motion the following words: - and that after the 31st day of August, 1931, the date of the expiration of the agreement between the Government of the Commonwealth and the Government of the State of Queensland, no agreement between the Government of the Commonwealth and the Government of the State of Queensland, or between the Government of the Commonwealth and any other party relating to the sugar industry, and no duty, embargo or prohibition on the importation of sugar into Australia shall have any force or effect until approved by the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
If this amendment is carried, I shall move the following motion : -
That the resolution, as amended, be forwarded by message to the House of Representatives and its concurrence desired therein.
I can scarcely imagine that any honorable senator-
– I would point out to the honorable gentleman that I cannot give a ruling concerning the intention of another honorable senator. When the amendment is submitted, I shall be prepared to rule whether or not it is in order.
– I find it rather difficult to fathom the motive of an honorable senator professing to represent a democratic party in protesting against the Senate being given an opportunity to declare that a certain policy shall be subject to the approval of Parliament.
– I take exception to the remark of the honorable senator. My sole intention, in raising the point of order, was to submit, as I believe I was legitimately entitled to do, that his proposed amendment was not in order. I had no idea of endeavouring to prevent discussion.
– Senator Colebatch may proceed.
– The report presented by the Sugar Commission contains a number of recommendations upon which, I submit, it is the duty of the Senate to pass judgment. “Whatever may be your ruling, Mr. President, upon the amendment of which I have given notice, I take it that we shall be entirely within our rights in declaring that, in our judgment, agreements of this kind should not be made except by the will of Parliament. I do not intend to review exhaustively either the majority or minority report. Both are voluminous, and our difficulty in examining them is intensified by the fact that they are wrongly indexed. For this I do not blame the Government Printer. Doubtless, he followed the indexed pages given on the typewritten copies of the reports, with the result that the indexing system is hopelessly astray.
I have on many occasions directed the attention of the Senate to the prohibition in section 99 of the Constitution against any law which gives preference to one State of the Commonwealth over another. The sugar embargo and the agreement made with the Government of Queensland, more than any other arrangement between the Commonwealth Government and a State Government, gives undoubted preference to Queensland at the expense of the other States. Because of this and other similar laws, there is a growing, resentment throughout the Commonwealth which is injuring and which, I venture to predict, if not reasonably met,will ultimately wreck the federation altogether. There have been six independent and more or less expert investigations concerning these preferences. Every committee or commission has come to the same conclusion, namely, that certain features of the Australian policy extend great preference to certain States at the expense of other States. Futile expedients have been adopted to remedy this condition of affairs. Special grants made to certain of the States have, to some extent, compensated those States for the disabilities which they have suffered under federation, but have done nothing to help the industries that were being hampered by Commonwealth legislation. We have also had other schemes, such as the butter and rice embargoes, and the gold and cotton bounties. In each case the bounty only tends to spread the trouble, not to correct it. There is no correction in any one of them. It is admitted that the bounty on gold is a means of compensating Western Australia to some extent for the burden which protection has placed on that State. Instead of correcting the trouble at the source, these measures only make things worse.
Apart from the question of whether it is, or is not, economically sound to grow sugar in Australia under Australian conditions, there are at least four factors which make for quite unnecessary cost im the production of sugar. Not one of them can be justified. In normal times, the sugar embargo constitutes a monstrous injustice, in addition to its being nationally wasteful ; in the present condition of affairs, I do not hesitate to say that it is absolutely criminal. It is imposing on already seriously overtaxed industries a burden which they cannot bear. On page 81 of the minority report, which is treated as the main report, because it is signed by the chairman, there is a summary ©f the annual cost of the sugar industry to Australian consumers. The total is given at £5,490,052. That is the excess cost which the commission considers the embargo places on Australian consumers. I am not prepared to say that that is an impartial finding. Indeed, if the prices prevailing in the world to-day “were taken into account, it would be found that the excess cost is very much greater than that stated in the report. We are told that about 30,000 persons are engaged in the sugar industry in Australia. On that basis the excess cost referred to amounts to a subsidy at the rate of about £200 per annum to every person engaged in the industry. It is obvious that when we subsidize an industry to that extent we encourage an enormous economic waste. Such a subsidy must bring down the standard of living in this country; it can have no other effect. We cannot employ 30,000 persons, and grant each of them a bonus at the rate of £200 per annum, without decreasing the total productive value of the work done in Australia.
When a certain proposal was put forward in connexion with the wheat industry - a proposal known as the Perkins plan - we were told that it would mean an increase in the cost of living and a higher price for bread: That proposal would not have increased the price of. bread so much as the sugar embargo has increased the price of sugar. If it was unthinkable to put up the price of bread for one season in order to assist the wheat-farmers, who were in a position of very great difficulty, brought about largely because of the contributions they had been compelled to make to this and other industries, what a mons.trous thing it is to do it perpetually in the interests of another industry of far less importance to the country, an industry, moreover, which above all others has been flourishing for a .great many years past !
On page 43 of the report, the commission admits that one effect of the sugar embargo has been to reduce the consumption of jam in Australia. The report states -
A claim was made that the production of factory-made jam in 1928-29 had declined by 10,000,000 lb. compared with 1912, and that the per capita consumption for the same years declined from IS lb. to 11* lb., a decrease of 6i lb. “We cannot do things like that without lowering the standard of living of the poorest class of the Australian people. In addition to the effect of the embargo on factory-made jam, it is beyond question that home-made jam has almost disappeared from the homes of the people, whereas previously, jam was made in almost every home, particularly in country districts. People cannot make jam in their homes now because of the cost of sugar. Whatever way we look at it, we have to admit that the sugar embargo is a deliberate attack upon the standard of living of the poorer people in the community. An extra Id. for a tin of jam does not matter much to persons with comparatively high incomes ; but that it is a consideration with the poorer classes is shown by the reduced consumption of jam. They cannot afford to buy jam.
A study of pages 52, 54 and 55 of the report shows that one of the factors responsible for the high cost of producing sugar is that it has been grown on unsuitable land.
– That applies to New South Wales not to Queensland.
– Some of the unsuitable land is in Queensland, and some in New South Wales. But it does not matter where the attempt has been made to grow sugar on unsuitable land. The agreement which has been entered into covers sugar grown in New Wales as well as Queensland.
– The honorable senator said that the sugar embargo gave preference to one State.
Senate Sir HAL COLEBATCH.What difference does it make whether preference is given to one State, or to two States, as against the others ?
– It makes no difference at all.
–Of course not. Preference has been given to one or more States at the expense of the others. I am dealing with the unnecessary waste, and the excessive cost of producing sugar. The first factor is that of unsuitable land. The commission states on page 55 of its report -
It will be observed that the cost of the cane required to produce one ton or raw sugar in tlie years 1925-28 was far greater in the southern district than in the northern district, the difference being £1 18s. Id. per ton of sugar.
I take it thai; the southern district referred to is the southern district of Queensland, not New South Wales, although I do not know that that has any bearing on the argument. If we are growing sugar anywhere at unnecessary cost, and are, in consequence, increasing its price, it does not matter whether the sugar is grown in the north of Queensland or in the south or Tasmania; the unsuitable land is still an unjustified factor in increasing the price of sugar. If we grow sugar at all in Australia “we must confine our operations to those districts which are suited to it. We cannot afford to fix a price against the Australian people that will encourage others to grow sugar in localities which are utterly unsuitable.
The third factor is that of uneconomic milling. We are told that in 1926 the milling costs in the southern districts were £7 17s. 7d. a ton, compared with £5 ls. ltd. a ton in the case of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and that the respective costs for 1928 were £6 6s. 6d. and £4 14s. The difference is over 20 per cent. In making these estimates the Sugar Committee, as well as the Cane Prices Board, has allowed for these excessive costs both by using unsuitable land and by uneconomic milling. In other words, they have given a premium to inefficiency.
– Is the honorable senator quoting from the majority report ?
– I am quoting from portion of the report to which the whole of the members of the Sugar Committee agreed. I do not know whether there .is any contradiction in the minority report, signed by the chairman. There are several pages dealing with the question of milling costs.
The third factor is export. Supposing for the moment that we were to try to put all our secondary industries on the same basis as sugar by charging a sufficiently high price to the local consumer to enable them to export their surplus of boots, hats, and so forth, knowing as we do that duties ranging up to 100 per cent, are necessary to enable these industries to compete with imported articles even with freight, exchange and other items added. During the five years from 1925 to 1929 we exported 857,940 tons of sugar. The cost of producing that sugar was £17,158,S00, and it realized £9,657,719. There was a dead loss of £7,501,181. I do not know from what school the supporters of the sugar agreement take their economics, but I should like to meet any one they can produce who sets up the idea that a country can successfully maintain a high standard of living whilst selling its products at £7,500,000 less than it costs to produce them. We cannot spend £17,000,000 for a return of £9,657,000 without attacking the standard of living of our own people. It is childish nonsense to say that it helps to adjust the trade balance. I should like to see the principle applied to some of the other industries - to galvanized iron, for instance, on which there is a prohibitive duty, despite which it cannot compete with the imported article.
The fourth factor is the utterly unnecessary and unjustifiable profits and wages earned by those engaged in the industry. I shall deal with them under three headings - refineries, growers, and wage-earners. On pages 65 and 66 is a summary of the dividends earned by the Colonial Sugar Refinery Company. Throughout it has paid dividends of* from 15 to 12£ per cent. In the company there are 292,500 shares, of £20 each. In January, 1930, the market value of these shares was £49, but that £49 did not represent the value of a share which had cost the shareholder £20. The original owner had paid £20, but that £20 had been refunded to him, plus another £12. These generous dividends of from 15 per cent, to 12£ per cent, have been paid on shares which cost £12 less than nothing.
In the early part of 1930, when the values of all other securities were dropping, the market and the holders of the shares of the Colonial Sugar Refinery Company naturally expected that sugar would have to bear at least some small portion of the general trouble, and the market price of these shares steadily receded month by month. It dropped from £46 in February to £42 in March, £40 in June, £34 in August, £30 in September, and £29 2s. 6d. in October, at which figure the shares were still at a substantial premium. The drop, however, clearly indicated that the holders of the shares and the share market people generally expected that sugar would not be allowed to retain all its previous advantages in face of the difficulties confronting all other Australian industries. Then the Sugar Committee got to work, and by the end of March, 1931, the shares were up to £35. To-day they are quoted at £42. It is a nice commentary on the effect of governmental action.
In the face of what is confronting every other industry in Australia, the action of the Commonwealth Government in imposing upon the consumers of sugar a price which compels the poorer people to re-; strict the use of sugar, has caused shares, which the market and the shareholders fully expected to fall to something like par, to rise to £42 again. The people’s Governments - a democratic government - has made this great present to a monopoly. How do my friends opposite propose to justify an action which has the effect of prejudicing the poorer class in the community in order that still greater profits may be earned by people who have already benefited to an extent that is entirely without justification?
I come next to the position of the growers. It is clearly set out in the report of the committee that the value of their land has been put up to an exaggerated figure because of this govern- mental action. No government has a right to give a fictitious value to any individual’s land. It can only result in depressing the value of other people’s land. There is a curious point which has some little bearing upon this issue. One of the reasons advanced for the imposition of the federal land tax in 1910 was that certain States were not adequately taxing their lands. In this respect Queensland was held up as the chief offender, being the only State of the Commonwealth at that time which had no land tax. The following table shows the amount of land tax paid by the people of each State to the Commonwealth in 1911, the first year . of the operation of the act, in the last year before the war, in the first year after the close of the war, in the year 1924-25, and in the year 1928-29, which is the last year for which figures are available: -
The feature of this table is that it shows that the people who have received so much advantage from the sugar bounty have escaped paying their fair share of land tax. Whereas in 1925 the little State of South Australia paid £182,191 in federal land tax, Queensland paid only £114,874, about 50 per cent, less than South Australia. In the period intervening since then, South Australia has suffered adverse seasons, and has had to put up with all the disabilities that one can imagine. It has suffered more than any other State. On the other hand Queensland, largely through this sugar embargo and for other reasons, has enjoyed a higher standard of prosperity than any other State in the Commonwealth. While South Australia has found it extremely difficult to maintain its population, Queensland has increased its population more rapidly than any other State with the exception of Western Australia. There is very little to choose between the two. I think that Western Australia has shown a slightly greater increase than Queensland. An increase or decrease of population is always a dominant factor in land values. In the five years from 1925 to 1929, the federal land tax paid in South Australia has increased from £182,191 to £256,885- it has practically doubled, whereas in Queensland the land taxation revenue has decreased from £114,874 to £84,723. With all its difficulties, South Australia has to pay three times as much land tax as is paid in Queensland.
– What does that prove ?
– It proves that Queensland is getting everything and paying nothing.
– It proves, if it proves anything, that land values have fallen in Queensland.
– One thing it proves is that Queensland is sucking the life-blood of the other States and making no contribution in return.
I do not intend to say very much about the wages paid to the worker, but on page 33 of the minority report of the sugar committee I find the following : -
We agree that wages and conditions of employment in any industry receiving any direct benefit, cither as a result of an embargo or in the shape of rebates or other concessions resulting from the sugar agreement and the embargo, should be fixed by arbitration.
To my mind, that is one of the most iniquitous proposals that has ever been brought into common practice in any country. It means that you give a great advantage to an industry, placing it in a sheltered and protected position, and then immediately proceed to give every worker employed in that industry an advantage over all the workers in industries that have to shift for themselves.
– When the honorable member makes that statement he shows that he does not understand the system of arbitration.
– I think that I understand it as well as the honorable senator does. In 1925, when the hours of labour in Queensland were reduced to 44 a week, wages were increased by one-eleventh. I venture to say that the Mount Morgan Mine could have continued at work if the wages paid had been similar to those which were being paid in Kalgoorlie; but how could that be done when there was this pampered sugar industry alongside in which the conditions were so much better. We destroy one industry by pampering another. We close down a profitable industry to keep an unprofitable one going. A very suggestive paragraph appeared in a leading newspaper a few days ago which has a very direct bearing on this subject. The State secretary of .the central branch of the Australian Workers Union, Mr. G. H. Buckland is reported to have said that -
Under ordinary conditions rice harvesting began about the middle of this month. This year things may be different if the request of the Australian Workers Union is not met. The Australian Workers Union has asked the ricegrowers to meet them, to arrange wages and conditions, and if an agreement is not arrived at it is probable that the members will take matters into their own hands, and refuse to harvest the crop. There is a strong feeling amongst members urging the union to issue instructions on these lines. The award which operated for some years was abolished by the Bavin Government, as the work is classed rural. The Australian Workers Union claims that it is responsible- ;
This is the interesting point - to a large degree for the increased tariff protection which has enabled the industry to expand to such an extent. Immediately upon the Federal Labour Government assuming office, the Australian Workers Union Convention approached it, asking that a prohibitive tariff against all foreign-grown rice be imposed, to allow the Murrumbidgee area to supply Australian requirements. The Government revised the duty from 3s. 4d. to 8s. 4d. per 100 lb. uncleaned, and 6s. to 12s. 6d. for cleaned rice. If fair rates and conditions cannot be obtained for the employees in this industry, the Australian Workers Union will use its power with the Government to have the duty revised.
That is the state of affairs existing at present. The workers are urged to persuade the Government to impose a prohibitive duty, and they then tell the employers that they must either pay wages and provide conditions that are impossible in other industries or they will be driven out of business. The same practice has been adopted in connexion with the duties on Oregon.- A short time ago the associated country saw-millers of New South Wales - the employers - circularized their members telling them what the trade union officials had done to get high tariff duties imposed, and how, in consequence of the expense imposed upon union representatives in visiting Melbourne, Canberra, and other cities to persuade the Minister to increase the duties, the union funds were exhausted. This association directed its members - the employers - to urge their employees to join the union and to pay their fees so that the funds of the union could be rehabilitated. A week ago the president of the same employers’ union appeared before a select committee of the Legislative Council in New South Wales and declared that the Arbitration Bill introduced on the representation of some unions would have the result of throwing them completely out of business. That is what is happening. We have this conspiracy between a certain section of employers and employees to plunder the rest of the public, and, in many instances, such as in the case of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, the employers get the thick end of the stick, and are able to amass huge profits. In others where that is impossible, the employees tell the employers that if they do not comply with their demands they will use their influence with the Government to have the duty on the commodity which they are producing removed.
The final point which I wish to make has particular reference to the amendment, which I trust the Senate will consider and accept. What legislative power has the Government to make this agreement? What authority has Parliament ever given the Government to enter into any such undertaking ? Agreements have been made from time to time, but they have never on any occasion been submitted to Parliament. Senator Pearce suggested that such agreements have been submitted to Parliament, and if he can prove that such is the case I shall withdraw my statement. I have made careful inquiries and search, but cannot find any instance in which any of these agreements has been submitted to Parliament.
– That is my information.
– How does the Government manage to do a thing for which it has no legislative sanction? Only by an abuse - I use the word in the strongest possible sense - of the delegated power given to it by this Parliament. In the Customs Act provision is made under section 52 for the prohibition of imports, a list of which is given. It was thought when this provision was under consideration that it was impossible to include every article, the importation of which it might he desirable to prohibit, so a paragraph reading, “ All goods the importation of which may be prohibited by proclamation” was inserted. The remainder of the section refers to goods that for political purposes, or for reasons of health or decency, should be prohibited. The action of the Government in imposing prohibitions under this section has been tested only once, and that was many years ago in the case of Baxter versus some Chinaman, whose name I cannot at the moment recall. That case was in connexion with the importation of opium used for smoking, and the High Court ruled that that was quite a proper use of the Government’s power. That, I think, no one will dispute. But this power of prohibition is being used as a protective power - to protect an industry, not for the purpose for which it was given. If, in order to protect an industry, the Government wishes to impose a duty, that duty must be approved by Parliament. It is true that by all sorts of extraordinary subterfuges the Government may withhold from Parliament for a very long time the right to express its opinion, but eventually that duty has to be approved by Parliament. But by an extraordinary, utterly dishonest, and unscrupulous interpretation of this section, the Government is, for protective purposes, imposing a prohibition which Parliament has no opportunity to review. Surely the position is obvious! I doubt whether, in the history of any British country, one ‘could find so gross an abuse of delegated power as the use of a power framed to prohibit undesirable imports in order to give a protective advantage to a particular industry. Of course, the object is to put the Senate out of court. The Senate represents the interests of all the States, but particularly the less populous States, and in almost every instance it is those States that are prejudiced by prohibitions. A little while ago, when the prohibition of galvanized iron was under consideration, it was clearly shown that those who suffered most as the result of such prohibition were the people of Western Australia, South Australia, and Tasmania. In every case, this evasion of Parliament is done to put the Senate out of court, and to deprive the smaller States of the rights which they are entitled to under the federal system. No legislation affects the smaller States more vitally than the prohibition of certain imports.
We have now reached a stage with respect to tariffs when Parliament is deprived, as long as possible, of the right to discuss tariff schedules. The power of the Government to prohibit the importation of certain articles is twisted into a power to impose prohibitions instead of protective duties in order that such prohibitions may never be subject to review by Parliament. The Senate is entitled to assert its rights, and to say that prohibitions shall not be effective unless approved by Parliament. The Senate is entitled to say that the agreement entered into by the Government in this instance shall not be effective until it has been approved by Parliament. I cannot imagine any one questioning the right of Parliament in this matter. I am advised - I do not know whether my informant is correct, or that his opinion is authoritative - that the agreement has already been signed.
– I believe it has been.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH.That is what I have heard. If it has, that shows on the part of the Government a reckless disregard of the people and the people’s Parliament.
– It could have no effect.
– I do not know whether it could. Certain happenings within the last few days have made it clear that the highest authority in the land - the High Court - upholds the rights of Parliament. The High Court has ruled that Parliament is supreme, and, in fact, that the Government cannot defy Parliament. His Excellency the Governor-General representing His Majesty the King, the Senate and the House of Representatives constitute the Parliament. That is the institution upon which the people are entitled to rely.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the High Court said that this Government had defied Parliament?
– I did not say anything of the sort. I said that Parliament is supreme, and that a government cannot defy Parliament. I did not attribute to the High Court any remark that this Government had defied Parliament. I merely said that the High Court has declared that Parliament is supreme. If the Senate chooses to adopt this amendment, and transmits it to another place, we shall then have an opportunity to learn whether the members of that chamber are or are not prepared to defy parliamentary authority. It would be worth finding that out. In any case, I say without hesitation that the time must come when the right of a government to impose, under section 52 of the Customs Act, a prohibition for purposes entirely uncontemplated by that section will have to be tested. As a layman, but one who has some understanding of what words mean, I venture the opinion that, when the time comes, the High Court will hold, as it has previously held, that a delegated power is simply what it says, and nothing else; that a government cannot, under cover of a power like that, do something which was never contemplated. If this abuse of power is to be remedied, it must be remedied by Parliament. Subject to your approval, sir, I move -
That the following words be added to the motion: - “and that after the 31st day of August, 1931, the date of the expiration of the agreement between the Government of the Commonwealth and the Government of the State of Queensland, no agreement between the Government of the Commonwealth and the Government of the .State of Queensland, or between the Government of the Commonwealth and any other party, relating to the sugar industry, and no duty, embargo or prohibition on the importation of sugar into Australia shall have any force or effect until approved by the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
If that amendment is agreed to, I then propose to move -
That the resolution, as amended, be forwarded to the House of Representatives, and its concurrence desired therein.
– I request your ruling, Mr. President, as to whether the amendmen± is or is not in order. I submit that it is not. It seeks to introduce questions that do not affect the subject-matter of the motion before the Senate, which is, “ That the paper be printed “.
– I shall deal, from two points of view, with the question that the honorable senator has raised. First, as to relevancy; and, secondly, in relation to practice. These are closely allied with the consideration of any point of order.
As to relevancy, I may say that, if the honorable senator had raised this ques-tion between the years 1903 and 1906, and I had been in the Chair, I probably should have been obliged to rule that the amendment was out of order. Since that time, however, a convention, which doubtless honorable senators have noticed, has come into vogue, at all events in the Senate. It is that whenever a paper of importance is laid before another place, in order to give honorable senators an opportunity to express their views upon the question at issue, a motion is made in this Senate that the paper be printed. That has gradually grown into a most regular practice. Let me give an example. Honorable senators are aware that when the budget is brought down in another place, a paper that is a digest of that budget is laid before the Senate, and a motion is made “ That the paper be printed “. That motion generally comes to no conclusion, because the budget itself arrives in the Senate in time to take its place.
Now with regard to precedent. I quote from the rulings of Sir Richard Baker, as President of the Senate, from 1903 to 1906. At page 21 of Vol. 1, ruling No. 151 reads -
When a motion is submitted that a paper be printed, the arguments submitted ought to be directed to showing the desirability or otherwise of that course being followed.
That practice has long been discontinued.
I draw the attention of honorable senators to the wording of this Order of the Day. It reads. - “ Sugar Industry - Government Policy - Paper “. If it were intended that this paper should be looked upon only as one to be either printed or not printed, in the first place the question would be left to the determination of the Printing Committee, and in the second place the words “ Government Policy “ certainly would not be interpolated in it.
In the somewhat limited time at my disposal - and I thank the honorable senator for the fact that it was not more limited - I have been able to find two instances of the adoption by the Senate without question of the course that it is now proposed to follow. The first was on the 4th May, 1921. J. am unable to say whether that is the earliest date upon which this procedure was followed; but I can say that where the policy of the Government is laid open to criticism by the convention of the printing of a paper on the subject, there is also furnished to the Senate the opportunity of expressing its opinion, thereon, by amendment, should it so desire. On the date named, the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen), by leave, made to the Senate a statement with respect to the wool industry; and, having laid on the table the following paper, namely, “ “Wool Industry - Copy of letter dated the 28th April, 1921, from the Chairman of the B.A.W.R.A. Limited to the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, submitting certain particulars and suggestions regarding the industry he moved “ That the paper be printed”. Senator Guthrie moved an amendment to add certain words. The debate continued. Senator Gardiner, memory of whom is fresh in the minds of honorable senators, moved an amendment on the amendment. The debate was further continued. Senator Gardiner, by leave, withdrew his amendment. Senator Guthrie, by leave, withdrew his amendment. The debate continued. The question was then put, and passed. No point was raised touching the propriety or otherwise of moving au amendment; the correctness of the procedure adopted was accepted by the Senate.
Again, on Thursday the 10th November, 1927, there occurred an incident in which I was implicated. I may say that I then occupied very much the same position as that now occupied by my friend, Senator Daly. I moved that the report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts on the Commonwealth Government’s shipping activities, presented to the Senate, be printed. Senator Grant moved an amendment to leave out all the words after the word “ That,” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ the decision of the Government to sell the Commonwealth Line of Steamers is inimical to the best interests of the primary producers and the people of Australia, and, in the opinion of the Senate, the Line should be retained and re-organized.” The Senate divided, and the amendment was negatived.
That recital of occurrences in the history of the Senate, in my opinion, establishes the propriety of this procedure. The continuance of the convention to consider a motion for the printing of a paper, as a vehicle for an. important debate and the expression of views on the policy of the Government, confirms theopinion that T had already formed. I, therefore, rule that the amendment is quite in order.
Senator DALY (South Australia [4.28] . - I had not intended to speak upon this subject, and should not have done so but for the statements that were made by Senator Colebatch, in which a connexion was sought to be drawn between arbitration and this and other proposals of the Government.
Apparently, the honorable sena.tor holds the view that the policy of this” Government is to grant an embargo or to give a preference to a particular industry in order to bolster up the industrial conditions of the workers engaged in that industry. Had the honorable senator devoted as much time and thought to the preparation of that portion of his speech as he did to other portions, he would have discovered that that is not the policy of this Government. The policy of Australia is to give to every worker, in whatever industry he may be employed, the conditions which an arbitral tribunal is prepared to grant to him. “When the Government decides to afford shelter ‘ to an industry, it determines that that industry shall stand by the policy of the country. So with the sugar industry it is not a question of giving this protection in order that the awards of arbitral tribunals may be obeyed. A like safeguard was embodied in the gold bounty and other similar bills that have come before this chamber. It is idle to say that such a policy has just been introduced by this Government. The protection afforded to the sugar industry is not the creation of this Government. This Government came into power at a time when hundreds of thousands of pounds had been expended in building up the sugar industry in Australia, and when tens of thousands of men were employed in it. Other governments that preceded the present Government decided that it was in the best interests of Australia that certain advantages should be given to it. The present Government had to face the position as it found it, and it did so. Its action is identical with that taken by its predecessors in office. Of course, if the Parliament lays it down as a matter of policy that all agreements of this nature shall come before Parliament, I certainly shall have no complaint to make about it. I agree with the contentions of Senator Colebatch up to a point, and do not consider that any real objection could be offered to the course that he suggests. But I honestly believe that the Government felt that it would be a waste of time to place this agreement before the Senate. The honorable senator must admit that we have sitting opposite us to-day a united party. “ Surely there could be no difference of opinion in the ranks of that party on the question of a sugar bounty! Where, then, was the necessity to send this agreement to the Senate? Were the ranks of the party opposite divided on the question of the cotton bounty and the gold bounty?
– These were dealt with by Parliament.
– I had begun to believe that it was a convention of the Senate to grant bounties to industries. It agreed to the cotton bounty and the gold bounty. I know of no bounty proposed by me when I was leading the Government in the Senate that was turned down by the Opposition, except the sewing machine bounty, and that was confined to one particular town in Victoria. I cannot understand the objection of the honorable senator to the decision of the Government not to introduce this particular agreement to Parliament. How could Tasmania, while ‘ asking for a bounty on evaporated apples, oppose a sugar bounty? How could Western Australia, while asking for a bounty on the production of gold, oppose it?
– We will show the honorable senator if he gives us the chance.
– The honorable senator knows that he will have all the chances that he needs, because he is a member of the united party.
– I am very pleased to learn that. There is still some hope for the honorable senator. Had the course suggested by Senator Colebatch been followed every member of Parliament would have been inundated with letters and telegrams from the organizations interested, pleading, on the one hand, for his support to the agreement, or, on the other hand, asking him to oppose it.
– If we are not to have a discussion on. this subject, what is the object of moving that the paper be printed ?
– If the Leader of the Government had laid the report on the table, and had not submitted a motion that the paper be printed, nothing more would have been done about the matter. I say advisedly that the amendment is tantamount to an instruction to the Government with regard to future policy to be followed with respect to, not only the sugar industry, but also every other industry in the Commonwealth.
– So it should be.
– Can the honorable senator point to any other parallel industry?
– At the moment I cannot,- but there may be. I am simply directing attention to the fact that the amendment deals with a question of policy, and I submit that, in entering into the agreement with the sugar industry, the Government did not act in defiance of Parliament, as was suggested by Senator Colebatch. Previous governments have made similar agreements which Parliament, by its silence, has acquiesced in.
– But this agreement pays no regard to the altered economic circumstances.
– Senator Colebatch charged the Government with having acted in defiance of Parliament. In support of his charge he pointed out that the Government had made the agreement without consulting Parliament. My submission to that is that, as previous governments had entered into similar agreements without consulting Parliament, Parliament, by its inaction with respect to those agreements, is now estopped from setting up a charge of defiance by this Government. I agree that, if the amendment is carried, any government which subsequently enters into an agreement of this nature without consulting Parliament will be acting in defiance of Parliament. But that charge cannot be laid against this Government.
– I contend that all previous governments which made similar agreements acted in defiance of Parliament.
– If the honorable senator makes a general charge against all governments, there may be some force in his contention. This Government was entitled to believe that, since Parliament had on previous occasions given silent acquiescence to these agreements, it was empowered to enter into this agreement.
– What advantage was to be gained through making the agreement without consulting Parliament ?
– I do not know. I am quite confident that, had the Government produced the agreement and asked the Senate to ratify it, this chamber would not have raised any opposition.
Certainly the honorable senator, to bo consistent with his attitude towards other bounty proposals, would not have voted against it. The Government, in making this agreement, simply followed a precedent which had been established by previous governments.
– There have been six previous agreements.
– I suggest to Senator Colebatch that, having directed attention to the matter, and having made his protest against this procedure, he should withdraw his amendment. He will have an opportunity on some future occasion to submit a substantive motion which may be taken as a direction from the Senate to this or any future Government.
– My personal protest would be of no avail. I wish the Senate to protest against an agreement made in this way.
– I appreciate the honorable senator’s view-point. All I wish to emphasize is that the charge which he has made against this Government cannot be substantiated because, as I have show, it followed the procedure of previous governments.
– The procedure is wrong. I do not care how many precedents there may be for it.
– On that point I remind the honorable senator that only a few moments ago the President, in giving his ruling was bound by precedent, whether it was right or wrong. I again appeal to the honorable senator to withdraw his amendment. That would be the more equitable course to adopt so far as this Government is concerned. In its present form it may be regarded as a condemnation of the Government for having made the agreement without consulting Parliament.
– But does not the honorable gentleman admit that the general fall in price levels should be taken into account?
– Of course I do. But how does that affect the principle underlying the honorable senator’s amendment, namely, that agreements of this nature should come before Parliament for approval ? As a matter of fact his amendment goes further than that. It declares that no government should enter into agreements without the consent of Parliament, irrespective of what the price levels might be.
– Quite so.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that Parliament should never have an opportunity to discuss the sugar agreement?
– How can this matter be discussed if not on this motion ?
– I have no desire to stifle discussion of the agreement. On the contrary, I would welcome it. Up to the present I have confined my remarks to the defence of the Government for having made the agreement. I hope that Senator Colebatch will not press his amendment to a division and will allow the motion to pass. If, subsequently, “he submits a substantive motion in the same terms, probably the Leader of the Senate (Senator Barnes) and his supporters will be prepared to accept it.
– I desire to make a few observations upon the motion before the Senate, with particular reference to the speeches of the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) and Senator Colebatch. It is, in one respect, unfortunate that the sugar industry is carried on principally in the State of Queensland. If it were an industry of equal importance to the State of Western Australia, I am convinced that we should not have heard any speeches of protest concerning the agreement from either of the honorable senators mentioned. Twofifths of the area of Australia lies north of the tropic of Capricorn, and unless we are prepared to leave that portion of the Commonwealth practically unsettled and undeveloped, legislation must be passed to encourage tropical and sub-tropical industries. We should take a broader view of industry generally than to regard any particular industry as being beneficial only to the locality in which it is carried on. I say, without fear of successful contradiction, that any industry which produces wealth under reasonable conditions in Australia confers a benefit on every section of the community, and is, therefore, entitled to protection.
Senator Colebatch said that, in his opinion, the general economic situation should affect the price which sugar-producers receive for their product. It certainly is effecting the price. Whereas the price mentioned in the agreement is approximately £27 per ton, there are certain concessions which reduce the price bel that amount.
Owing chiefly to the low price received for the exportable surplus, the average price obtained by the sugar-producers is about £19 per ton. If we have regard to wages paid generally in Australia, as compared with those paid in other sugar-producing countries, it is indeed surprising that the sugar-producers of Australia are able to carry on at all at the price they are now receiving. No other country could pay anything like the wages prevailing here and sell sugar at an average of £19 pelton. The low price offering for our exportable surplus is due to the fact that there are, at the present time, visible stocks of sugar throughout the world amounting to 7,000,000 tons. For the most part, that sugar is being sold at prices far below cost. Workers on the sugar plantations of Cuba receive about half a dollar a day; in the West Indies the general wage is about 10s. a week; in Java, it is 5s. a week for men and abouthalf that rate for women. Despite those low rates, Java is to-day selling its sugar at below cost. In view of those facts, it is most unfair to compare the price of sugar in Australia with the price abroad.
– Of what use is it for us to grow more sugar than we can consume in Australia?
– The position is the same with respect to many of our primary products. For instance, threefourths of the dried fruit produced in Australia has to be sold abroad at prices very much lower than those charged for dried fruit in Australia. About two years ago, a complaint was made that dried fruit from other countries wa3 being sold in Australia at a price below that charged for the locally-grown product, notwithstanding that the imported article paid a duty of £28 a ton. An application for a dumping duty of £25 per ton was granted, thus raising the import duty on dried fruit to £53 a ton. Yet no complaint was made, the reason being that the dried fruit industry was- carried on in several of the Australian States. The sugar industry, however, is largely confined to Queensland, and consequently it is subjected to persistent attacks in Parliament, in the press, and elsewhere. It is impossible for the industry effectively to reply to the attacks made against it, because the channels that are open to its opponents are not open to it.
The headquarters of the opposition to the sugar embargo for a considerable time has been the Town and Country Union, whose offices are in Melbourne. Some months ago that union formed a Sugar Consumers Association, of which Mr. Hagelthorn, the president of the Town and Country Union, was made president, and Mr. Gates, the secretary of the Town and Country Union, was appointed secretary. The Sugar Consumers Association issued a circular which stated, inter alia -
The campaign will consist of newspaper propaganda work, the holding of meetings in the larger centres, so that resolutions can be carried condemning the embargo; lunch addresses to factory employees with resolutions carried at each meeting. The preparation of a case to bc submitted by counsel to the Sugar Inquiry Committee.
The arranging of a minority report from the Sugar Committee if those on our side cannot agree with the majority.
The Herald Newspaper Proprietary Limited have promised to print for us 30,000 pamphlets condemning the continuance of the embargo. These pamphlets will be available for distribution throughout the States.
If the public succeed in abolishing this embargo it will make other economic reforms much easier to accomplish.
The Town and Country Union is an organization whose funds are provided principally by importers and agents of overseas manufacturers. Its avowed object is the destruction, as far as possible, of the protectionist policy of Australia. Under the name of the Sugar Consumers Association it arranged what it advertised beforehand as a “monster meeting” in. the Melbourne Town Hall, which however, proved to be anything but a monster meeting. It is rather significant that at that meeting the principal speakers were Mr. Mann, who formerly represented Pert’h in this Parliament; the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) and Senator Colebatch.
– I have never been in the Melbourne Town Hall in my life.
– The honorable senator is reported to have spoken at that meeting.
– I have never spoken in the Melbourne Town Hall. I have never been in the building.
– The response to the advertisement was so small that the meeting was not held in the Town Hall, but elsewhere.
We have heard a great deal about the movement in Western Australia in favour of secession. Sometimes I think it is rather to be regretted that Western Australia agreed to join the federation, because of the sinister influence that it has upon the protectionist policy of Australia. Honorable members representing Western Australia laugh at that suggestion. I ask them how often a proposal for increased protection has received the support of a representative of that State?
– The increases are carried in spite of our opposition.
– That shows that the rest of Australia is not prepared to be dragged at the heels of the representatives of one State.
It has been said that the sugar industry has been protected for many years by means of an embargo on imports. The purpose of that embargo, in the first instance, was to provide cheap and abundant supplies of sugar_for the people of Australia during the war years. Australia was the only country in the world in which sugar was both cheap and abundant during the period of the war. As a consequence, Australian manufacturers using sugar as a so-called raw material, were able to export products valued at £17,000,000 and sell them in competition with the products of other countries. They were able to export jams and canned fruits even to the United States of America.
– The war did away for a time with the competition that previously existed.
– Yes, to some extent; but if it had not been for the Australian sugar industry, Australian fruit-canners, jam manufacturers, and others would not have been able to obtain the supplies they required for their overseas trade which amounted to many millions of pounds sterling, and out of which one firm alone made such huge profits that it was able to establish a large factory in California, which, however, it was unable to operate successfully.
Engaged in the sugar industry in Australia are S,000 farmers. The 35 sugar mills, which employ some thousands of Australian workers, have produced sugar valued at about £10,000,000 per annum for several years.
– How does the honorable senator assess that value?_
– On the value of the raw sugar.
– The world value?
– No. Last year the output of raw material was a little over half a million tons, for which the average price was about £19 a ton.
– -The world value of that sugar was about £4,500,000, not £10,000,000.
– It all depends on what we regard as world value. If world value is the price of sugar sold at below cost then the comparison is most unfair. I (10 not think that Australia is prepared to become the dumping ground of the world. Honorable senators may rest assured that if the sugar industry does not receive reasonable protection, a serious breach will be made in the tariff wall which at present protects so many industries.
– We have to assess our wool and wheat at world values.
– I am aware of that; but the time is not far distant when the wheat-growers of Australia will receive for the wheat consumed in Australia considerably more than they receive for the wheat they export. There can bc no doubt whatever about that. Whatever may have bee-1! thought a few months ago, there is no doubt that Australian opinion at the present time is very strongly in favour of tks wheat-growers receiving a payable price for wheat consumed in the country of production.
The destruction of the sugar industry would mean the loss of not only the capital directly invested in it and the livelihood of the persons directly engaged in it, but also a very large amount of capital indirectly invested in it, and the employment of many thousands of people indirectly employed as a result of its establishment. I should like to know what would happen to towns like Cairns, Innisfail, Ingham, Mackay, Townsville, and Bundaberg, which are to a very great extent dependent on this industry, if effect were given to the desires of certain persons. It must be remembered that the sugar-growing districts provide a lucrative market for many southern producers and manufacturers. In giving evidence before the Sugar Committee in Brisbane, Professor Brigden, who is as good an authority as any other professor of economics in Australia, said that in his opinion the people of Queensland paid just as much towards the support of protected industries in other States as the people in those States paid towards the support of protected industries in Queensland.
– Where is that evidence.
– It was reported in the newspapers. I am not certain whether it is in the minority report., but the Australian Sugar Journal in its December issue published a verbatim report of Professor Brigden’s evidence.
– Before the Royal Commission on the Constitution, Professor Brigden said exactly the opposite.
– That may be. Evidently with experience he is becoming wiser.
– He has become a Queenslander.
– He is none the worse for that. I do not know of any one whose residence in Queensland has caused him to deteriorate, mentally, physically or otherwise. I advise those who are opposed to the sugar embargo or to affording reasonable protection to the sugar industry, to pay a visit to Queensland and spend some time investigating the conditions under which the industry is carried on there. It would lead them to change their opinions.
Senator Colebatch has quoted a portion of the report of the Sugar Committee dealing with the effect of the price of sugar upon, the consumption of jam. [ quote the following from the majority report of the committee: -
Evidence was given that the annual per capita consumption of factory jams in Australia had fallen from 18 lb. in 1912, to 11* lb. in 1928-29, and this was attributed to higher sugar costs. However, it was admitted that the consumption of canned fruit had more than doubled within recent years. With regard to factory jams, we consider that the cost of sugar is only one of several factors, and it was stated by several witnesses that the reduced consumption is due mainly to the intense competition from many new types of popular food products that have been put on the market during the last fifteen years, and which are commonly used with bread and butter, and, therefore, must tend to supplant jam. Other authorities concur with this view.
Declining jam consumption appears to be a world-wide tendency. At the last census in Great Britain, despite the low prices of sugar in that country, the consumption of jam had fallen to 8.00 lb. per capita. It is clear that if the people as a whole eat more of certain kinds of food, whether because of changing tastes or for any other reasons, they must as a whole eat less of other foods, particularly those of a similar type or class. Taking the fruit industry as a whole, i.e., jams and canned fruit combined, more fresh fruit per capita is now processed in Australia than in 1914.
An analysis of the relative costs and prices docs not bear out the contention that the increased cost of sugar is solely responsible for lower sales of factory jam. At the present price of £30 6s. 8d. per ton, the sugar in a standard 1* lb. tin of average jam manufactured in a capital city costs 2.9d. At the latest pro-war price of £18 per ton, the sugar content cost 1.8d. per tin. The increased cost of jam due to sugar is thus l.ld. per tin, but as the retail price, according to the Commonwealth Statistician, has increased from 6.03d. per )j lb. tin in 1914 to 10.4d. in December, 1930, sugar is responsible for only 25 per cent, of the total increase of 4.37d. in the retail price. The value of the sugar content has increased by 61 per cent., but the retail price charged to the public has increased by 72 per cent. The value of the fruit content is now practically the same as in 1914, but other items in the relative costs of manufacture or distribution of jam, which we have been unable to obtain for both years under comparison, evidently increased to a greater extent than sugar. As regards canned fruit, a standard 30 oz. can of average fruit now contains .62d. worth of sugar (if made in a capital city). In 1914, the cost of sugar was .37d. per can. The increased cost due to sugar is thus only Jd. per can.
Yet we are repeatedly told that the decline in the consumption of jam is entirely due to the higher cost of sugar. One jam-making firm which has been continually complaining that the people are unable to buy jam because of its high price, which it attributes to the increased cost of sugar, has been doing its own business and the fruit-growers a great disservice. In addition to the factor mentioned in the report of the Sugar Committee, other factors have led to a decline in the consumption of processed fruit. One of these is the better distribution of fresh fruit. In our cities and towns to-day more shops are engaged in the distribution of fresh fruit than are devoted to any other line of business. I wa3 rather surprised to read in a recent report of the Tariff Board that the consumption of fresh fruit, apart from fruit made into jam, canned, or dried, is no less than 194 lb. *per capita, or only 3 lb. per capita less than the consumption of flour. The same report also dealt with the consumption of fruit manufactured into jam and canned.
Senator Pearce said that he was of the opinion that the position might be met by a duty. That idea was entertained some years ago by people engaged in the sugar industry, and they accordingly made an application to the Minister for Trade and Customs for a duty. The matter was referred to the Tariff Board for inquiry and the report of the board will live in the history of the Trade and Customs Department, because of the mis-statements it contained. I shall read a couple of them. The report says -
The applicants state, “We have to remind /oU that there is an import duty of 3d. per lb. on jams and jellies, and all jams are half sugar, so that the jam manufacturing industry is protected to the extent of 100 per cent, more than what we are asking for sugar. Preserved and condensed milk also is protected to the extent of 2-)d. per lb. (General), and the sugar content thereof is something over 40 per cent. It will be seen that this product is protected to the extent of 60 per cent, more than what we are asking for sugar.” The board does not consider the sugar producers are taking up a fair attitude in these arguments. In seeking to forward their own claim it is only reasonable to remember that other great primary interests of immense value to the Commonwealth should not be prejudiced. In the manufacture of jam there are three industries to be considered, viz., sugar, fruit-growing, and jam-making. To give half of the protection to sugar would not in the opinion of the board be a wise division of the protection. The fruitgrowing industry in Australia is of great economic value, and for the disposal of its fruit is largely dependent on the sugar industry. The fruit-grower appears to be entitled to the same proportion of the 3d. as the sugar producer, whilst the jam manufacturer, who has to provide equipment, lay out his money in fruit, manufacture, case and distribute, seems fairly entitled to the remaining Id.
The striking error in that statement is that in one pound of jam there is only half a pound of sugar, and that if, as they recommend, sugar is protected to the extent of1d. per lb., then the sugar content of one pound of jam would receive a protection of only½d., whereas the fruit-grower and jam manufacturer would receive a protection of 2½d. lb. Notwithstanding that, the Tariff Board said that protection to the extent of1d. per lb., would mean an equal division of the 3d. lb. duty on jam. In the next paragraph they make a similar blunder when they say-
Similarly, the suggestion that sugar should receive l½d. out of the2½d. perlb. provided against imported condensed and preserved milk cannot be approved.
No such suggestion was made. A request was submitted for a duty of1½d. a lb. on sugar; but, as sweetened condensed milk contains only 40 per cent. of sugar, it follows that, with a protection of1d. per lb., the sugar industry would receive from the 2½d. duty on condensed milk only two-fifths of a penny. Those who signed the report included Mr. Herbert Brookes, who until recently was the Trade Commissioner for the Commonwealth in the United States of America, and Mr.Walter Leitch, who at present is Agent-General for Victoria in London. All I have to say is that if they were honest mistakes the gentlemen who made them did not know as much about simple arithmetic as the average boy or girl in the third grade of our primary schools.
I was surprised to hear the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) refer to the sugar industry as a parasitic industry. Of course, if that is true concerning the sugar industry, it is also true concerning other industries in the Commonwealth producing chiefly for local consumption. We are all living more or less upon each other. In these days no man can live unto himself. In this connexion we should remember that sugar is exchanged by Queensland for the products of the other States, most of which since the war have increased in price. In passing, I may say that the Atherton Tablelands, to which the Leader of the Opposition referred, comprise some 2,000,000 acres of the richest soil in Australia. I know the district, and am personally acquainted with many of the settlers in that locality. In visiting the Atherton Tablelands, as I have done on numerous occasions, I have failed to discover that the standard of living of the settlers there is lower than it is in the sugar districts.
– The wages are lower.
– I have never heard a single complaint from the dairymen and others engaged there concerning the price they pay for sugar. I am not surprised, because the northern sugar districts provide them with one of their best markets for their butter, bacon, ham, and other products. In a small pamphlet circulated under the authority of the Henry George League, in Melbourne, I noticed a statement to the effect that Queensland is a parasitic State, because of the conditions under which the sugar industry is conducted. That pamphlet also refers to the Atherton Tablelands in much the same way as it was referred to by the Leader of the Opposition. These statements will, I am sure, be strongly resented by the sugar-growers, because, if the sugar industry is parasitic, it naturally follows that all engaged in the industry are parasites. If the sugar industry lives upon the industries of the other States, then those engaged in it are living upon their fellow citizens - they are not giving them a quid pro quo.
The Leader of the Opposition and Senator Colebatch spoke of the flourishing state of those engaged in the Queensland sugar industry as compared with the position of the people in other industries in Australia; but I am sure that if those honorable senators made a personal investigation of the sugar industry they would find that the people engaged in it work as hard and live as frugally as do those engaged in other industries. I know quite a number of farmers who have been associated with the sugar industry for from 20 to 30 years, or even more, and it has taken them all their time to maintain themselves and their families in reasonable comfort. While I do not claim that those working in the tropics should receive more than those engaged in the more temperate parts of Australia, I can see no reason why they should be satisfied with less. I have never heard any exception taken to the practice under which Commonwealth employees working in tropical parts of Australia receive a special tropical allowance. Do those who speak of the standard of living in the sugar districts think that because these people are engaged in the production of a commodity which, in other countries is produced by coolie labour, our own good white Australians in Northern Queensland should come down to the coolie standard of living? I do not believe that that is what they desire, but their attitude towards the industry is capable of that construction.
– A very twisted construction.
- Senator Colebatch referred to sugar being grown upon unsuitable land. I admit that land upon which cane is grown in Queensland is not all of the same quality. Much of it is of about the same quality as land in the vicinity of the Snowy River, with which I am personally acquainted, that on the Hunter River in New South Wales, or land in Gippsland and other parts of the southern States, which brings from £80, £100, or £120 per acre in practically an unimproved condition. No exception is taken to payment of such high prices. Two or three years ago, when evidence was given before the Tariff Board in support of an application for an increased duty on butter, it was said that good dairying land was worth £40 an acre, and that it cost £100 to purchase sufficient land upon which to graze one dairy cow. That statement was not challenged in the Senate or elsewhere. I have never known unimproved cane lands to bring anything like £40 an acre ; but rich cleared land in my own district on which fair average crops of cane can be grown, was sold recently at £8 an acre.
– Without a permit ?
– With a permit. Land was sold at that figure in the Mosman district within two miles of my property.
– How long ago?
– Within the last six months. Senator Colebatch also said that the sugar contents of cane grown in some districts was not as great as in that produced in other localities. In estimating the return from sugar cane, one has to pay regard, not only to the sugar contents of the cane, but also to the yield of cane per acre. It often happens that a cane with a somewhat lower sugar content than others will give a higher yield of sugar per acre. In the absence of a full knowledge of the whole of the circumstances, it is impossible to determine whether cane with a high or low sugar content is the more profitable to grow.
Senator Colebatch is of the opinion that the sugar agreement is ultra vires the Constitution, on the ground that it gives to one State a preference over other States. I point out to him that the beet-sugar industry of Victoria is pro.tected by the embargo in exactly the same way as the cane-sugar industry of Queensland. If the people of other States consider that they are paying too much for their sugar, or that Queensland is benefiting too greatly, what is to prevent those States from producing beet sugar?
– Why raise the subject of the poor relation in that way?
– I do not consider that the Victorian beet-growers are any poorer than the Queensland canegrowers, many of whom, I can assure honorable senators, are not by any means receiving what would place them in the flourishing condition that some persons seem to imagine they enjoy. I suggest that honorable senators from Western Australia peruse last week’s Australasian, in which they will find photographs of bananas, pineapples and sugar cane that are now being grown on the Gascoyne river, near Carnarvon, in their State. That ought to convince them that they would do more service to their State if, instead of attacking the Queensland sugar industry, they induced it to follow the example set by Queensland, and thus make use of its tropical areas.
Considerable reference has been made to the position of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. It is not my function to champion that company in any way. I have had dealings with it over a fairly lengthy period. I was a member of a royal commission that inquired into the sugar industry some twenty years ago. I then said that the position occupied by the Colonial Sugar
Refining Company, and the profits that were made by it, were due entirely to its remarkable efficiency. I have since had no reason to alter that view. The pity of it is that all industries in Australia are not carried on in a similarly efficient manner. The Colonial Sugar Banning Company is not of mushroom growth, I know that the reports refer to it as having been established in the year 1885; but its history goes back much further than that year. In reality, it was established in 1843, with Mr. Edward Knox as manager. It was carried on as a company of unlimited liability until 1885,. when it was formed into a limited liability company. Its operations are extensive, not only in Australia, but also in Fiji and New Zealand. Its Australian and Fijian production of raw sugar is over 200,000 tons per annum, and its refining operations enable it to meet the requirements of 8,000,000 people. A large proportion of its profits is derived from its refineries. Those profits, however, represent considerably under £1 a ton of the raw sugar treated, and something in the neighbourhood of 9d. per capita of the consumers of refined sugar in Australia and New Zealand, which is less than Jd. a week. Were the company to refine sugar entirely without profit, that sugar could not be sold any more cheaply to the consumer. This part of the company’s business is, I believe, carried on more efficiently than are the majority of the refineries of the world, that are in any way comparable to it. It certainly works on a smaller margin of profit than either American or British refineries.
– It makes a profit of almost £1,000,000 a year.
– It makes a profit of about £400,000 every half-year. I admit that for some time it has been paying a dividend of 12£ per cent. But in the honorable senator’s State, a brewery and a bank recently paid a dividend of 20 per cent. This company has been in existence for nearly a century, and has not always distributed the whole of its profits. The accumulation of a very big capital in that period; therefore, can reasonably be expected.
No land industry in Australia is carried on. so efficiently as that of the growing of cane. There are few, if any, countries in the world in which, on the average,, the sugar mills are more efficient than the Queensland mills. They obtain a better recovery of sugar than the mills of either Java or Cuba, the largest cane sugars-producing countries in the world. Only recently, two gentlemen who are connected with the sugar industry, one in South Africa and the other in Hawaii, specially visited Queensland to learn how the industry there managed to pay the wages that it does, compared with those which they pay, and to sell at the fixed price. Both of those gentlemen prior to their departure publicly admitted that they had learned from the methods adopted in Queensland much that would be of great service to them when they returned to their respective countries.
– Particularly in regard to propaganda methods.
– The honorable senator must admit that, in view of the persistent - I could use stronger adjectives, but I shall not - attacks that are made upon the sugar industry, which is carried on in a remote part of the Commonwealth, it is necessary to indulge in counter propaganda. Those who are connected with the- industry are not given free advertisement by. the Melbourne Herald, or any other newspaper; they are not supplied free of charge, by the Herald, with 30,000 copies of a pamphlet stating their case ; they have to pay full rates for every line that they publish
– They can well afford to do so.
– They do not spend a great deal upon advertising.
– The honorable senator is the herald of the sugar industry.
– I do not claim to be that. I regret that I had not time to prepare a reply to the statements that have been made this afternoon. Unfortunately, I must leave Canberra for Sydney to-night and have, therefore, been obliged to speak practically without preparation; consequently, I feel that’ I have hardly done the subject justice. I am- confident, however, that honorable senators will admit that I am always sincere in my utterances regarding the sugar- industry, and that, considering my long experience of it, I should be in a position to speak with knowledge and authority.
Debate (on motion by Senator E. B. Johnston) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Barnes) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- On the 16th April, in reply to certain questions asked by Senator Greene, I stated, on behalf of the Minister for Home Affairs, that it was not a fact that the rates of pay prescribed for aboriginal drovers in North Australia exceeded those paid to white drovers in Queensland, and that the same rates are paid to .aboriginal drovers in Queensland as in North Australia, namely, £3 a week while droving and 30s. a week while with plant. These statements were correct according to the information at the disposal of the Minister at the time that the answers were made.
I have now been advised by the Minister for Home Affairs that shortly after the replies to the honorable senator’s questions had been given, he received from the Northern Territory Lessees Association a communication stating that the answers were not correct. The Minister immediately advised the honorable senator of this fact, and got into touch with the Queensland authorities with a view to ascertaining what was the present position in regard to the wages paid to drovers in that State.
According to the information received from the Queensland authorities, the station hands’ award, from which the departmental information in regard to white drovers was taken, was suspended in September last, and the rates of wages paid to drovers now vary. The present rates of wages paid to white drovers are from £2 to £2 10s. a week, while travelling with plant, and from £3 to £3 10s. a week while travelling with stock. In all cases, keep is provided.
The minimum rates of wages paid to aboriginal drovers in Queensland now are £2 a week if in charge, 30s. a week while with stock, and £1 a week while with plant. Pood, and camping and cooking gear are provided.
It will be observed from the foregoing that tie reply furnished to the honorable senator, to the effect that wages paid to aboriginal drovers in North Australia did not exceed those paid to white drovers in Queensland, was correct.
The statement made in the reply te the honorable senator, to the effect that the wages paid to aboriginal drovers in North Australia were the same as those paid to such drovers in Queensland, however, was not correct.
The Minister for Home Affairs desires me to convey to the honorable senator his regret that the latter information was not correct.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH (Western Australia) [5.50]. - In view of the statement which has just been made by the Minister, I would ask him if the Government will not reconsider this matter, particularly as the fixing of the rate of £3 per week for aboriginal drovers was an abuse of the power of the Chief Inspector of Aboriginals. He has authority to require any person removing an aboriginal from one place to another to lodge a certain deposit as a guarantee that the aboriginal will be returned. In construing this power, he went so far as to say that he would not give a permit to employ an aboriginal unless the employer paid him the rate of wage mentioned. This was clearly an abuse of the power given to the Chief Protector under the Aboriginals Ordinance. In view of the fact that the Minister was misinformed as to the rate of wages prevailing in Queensland, and also that the Chief Protector of Aboriginals has abused his power, I. suggest that the Government should give this matter further consideration.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [5.53]. - I associate myself with the remarks made by Senator Colebatch with regard to the action of the Chief Protector of Aboriginals in the Northern Territory. I, however, rose to direct the attention of the Senate to another matter. I should like the Leader of the Senate (Senator Barnes) to inform honorable senators of the Government’s intention with regard to certain regulations under the’ Transport Workers Act.
I had an opportunity this afternoon to read the High Court judgment in the test case which has been argued before that tribunal. It clearly and explicitly restores to Parliament - if there was ever any doubt about the matter - full control over this regulation-making power of the Government. I would, therefore, suggest to the Leader of the Senate that, if the Executive intends to try to defy this branch of the legislature, there is no doubt that, in the long run, it will fail in its purpose. The course which, we are given to understand, the Government proposes to take is not in keeping with the principles of a democracy. The High Court judgment clearly shows that, in disallowing the regulations previously laid on the table, the Senate acted within its undoubted rights. Its action was legally and constitutionally correct. The Government should accept the High Court judgment. To do so could not be interpreted so much as a climb down on its part as a recognition by the Executive of what has been declared to be the law of the land. What is the alternative? The Government has had ample time within which to lay another regulation on the table of the Senate, but it has not done so. Apparently, it is waiting for the expiration of the fifteen sitting days. It is now clear from the state of the Senate notice-paper that there is very little business for this chamber to transact at the moment. If we may judge by public statements made by at least two Ministers, the Senate will be asked shortly to disperse, and the Government, following the course which it adopted on a previous occasion, will then gazette another regulation. In the light of one of the judgments, I doubt whether such a regulation would stand a legal test. But, apart from this aspect of the matter, I ask the Government if the action which, apparently, is contemplated, is a dignified way in which to deal with this question. It would appear to me to be somewhat childish if the Government so arranged the business of the Senate as to render necessary an adjournment of this chamber and then, as soon as honorable senators had dispersed to their homes, promulgated another regulation. If this is the Government’s intention, I can assure Minister’s and their supporters that we are not going to be dealt with in that way. We are prepared to sit every day for the next fortnight if necessary to consider .any regulations that may be made. Why cannot the Government be perfectly open about this matter? If it intends to gazette another regulation, why does it not do so tomorrow, and test its legality? Ministers seem to be acting like a number of schoolboys. Apparently they refuse to do what they threaten to do until the Senate has adjourned, so as to prevent this chamber from exercising it3 undoubted legislative power over the Executive. I have read the judgment of the High Court carefully. I invite Ministers also to study it. It certainly establishes the right of this chamber to lay these regulations upon the table. In one part of the judgment reference is made to the power of the House of Commons from which the powers of the Senate are derived. It is laid down in May, pages 507, 511, and 512, that the House of Commons can order papers and regulations to be laid on the table of the House of Commons. Thus it will be seen that the action of the Senate recently in ordering the tabling of the last regulations made by this Government under the Transport Workers Act, followed the precedent of the House of Commons. If the Govern.ment declines to come out into the open, we shall have to stay here from day to day, and when the regulations are gazetted we shall proceed to disallow them. The High Court’s decision indicates that we need not wait for the regulations to be laid on the table of the Senate. We shall be able to act immediately they are gazetted. What good purpose is served by this attitude on the part of the Ministry? Why does not the Government admit that Parliament is greater than the Executive, and that the Senate, as one branch of the legislature, is legitimately using the power which it possesses? The authority of the Executive in these matters is limited. Why should the Government, in this matter, set itself up in opposition to the legislature? Why should it assume an authority which it does not possess? The High Court tells us plainly that the Government does not possess an unlimited regulation-making gower. I, therefore, appeal to the Government to adopt a more reasonable attitude; to recognize that the law is against it; that it cannot do what we are given, to understand is contemplated in connexion with these regulations. I urge Ministers to bow to the law as interpreted by the High Court. If they disagree with the law, there is a constitutional method to alter it. If the Government is not satisfied with the position, let it bring in a bill to repeal the act. If it failed, Ministers could not be held responsible by their supporters outside. The responsibility would be on the Senate, if it declined to pass legislation which the Government might consider necessary. The present method is not a dignified nor a proper one for the settlement of this difficulty.
– I hope that the Government will insist upon exercising its full regulative power. I am not contending for a moment that the Government should not disclose its intentions. I believe that, if it has power to make regulations, and if it feels that they should be made, it should not hesitate to make them. I assume that the Loader of the Senate (Senator Barnes) has not yet had an opportunity to read the High Court judgment in the recent test case. I certainly have not seen it, and I doubt whether any other honorable senator has had the privilege which apparently has been enjoyed by the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce). I have read a newspaper digest of the judgment, and I advise the Leader of the Senate to be very careful in his reply to the Leader of the Opposition, because, in my opinion, the exposition of the law by the right honorable gentleman is not consistent with what appeared in the press as a digest of this particular judgment. We in South Australia have seen the effect of the Government’s action. We know that all persons on both sides of political thought in Port Adelaide are absolutely in favour of the Government’s policy in this matter. The action of the Opposition in really intimidating some sections of the mercantile public in Port Adelaide, and preventing them from employing certain waterside workers, is calculated to cause a great deal of industrial unrest on the waterfront there. With us this is more or less a personal matter. Port Adelaide is unlike any other seaport in the Commonwealth. There the waterside industry is the principal occupation, in connexion with which a considerable volume of business has been established.’ Large numbers of shopkeepers and others depended for their livelihood on the maintenance of the industry. The waterside workers in Port Adelaide were not responsible for the trouble which led up to the passage of the Transport Workers Act. On the question of culpability, men in other ports of the Commonwealth were just as guilty as were men at Port Adelaide, and yet they were allowed to escape the consequences of their action, whereas the full force of the trouble has been felt at Port Adelaide. St. Vincentstreet, Port Adelaide, once a flourishing shopping centre, is now in a serious plight. Many of the shops have been closed because work, which formerly was given to men living in Port Adelaide, is now distributed among men living in distant suburbs. The appeal to this Government comes not so much from the waterside workers of Port Adelaide as from the tradespeople in that city. I attended a number of conferences in connexion with this matter before I entered the Senate, and I know that, if settlement of the dispute on the waterfront had rested with the people of Port Adelaide, or even with the shipowners of Australia, all the trouble would have been ended long ago. But there is evidence of intimidation, and reprisals on the part of British shipowners for what happened during the strike of British seamen in Australian ports some years ago. The right honorable the Leader of the Opposition has just told us that the Senate would continue to disallow the Government’s regulations, right or wrong. Two sets of regulations have already been disallowed. Work was proceeding smoothly on the waterfront when word came over that the volunteers had to be re-employed on the wharves at Port Adelaide and Port Melbourne. I hope that the Government will have the courage to bring the regulation before Parliament again. Even though the Leader of the Opposition without hearing one word from honorable senators on this side of the chamber concerning the new regulation which might be promulgated, said that the Senate would disallow it, I hope that the Opposition will give to all regulations that consideration which the statutory powers conferred on the Senate permit.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland) [6.6]. - I waB surprised to hear Senator Daly say that he hoped that the Government would continue to use its regulative power in connexion with the Transport Workers Act. He suggested that the Executive is superior to Parliament.
– I suggested nothing of the kind.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW If the Government intends to use its regulative power, the Senate will also use its power of disallowance.
– I do not complain about that.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.The honorable senator described what has taken place on the waterfront in South Australia. Where were honorable gentlemen opposite during the repeated dislocations of work on the waterfront before the Transport Workers Act was passed? Although they knew that the waterside workers were acting wrongly, not one of them thought it his duty to advise them to act differently. Transport was held up day by day, and year after year, without honorable senators opposite making any protest. Although the conditions at Port Adelaide may be as stated by the honorable senator, the opposite is true in respect of Queensland ports. Immediately the new regulation giving preference to members of the Waterside Workers Federation was promulgated, waterside workers at Bowen assaulted their fellows, and at Rockhampton one of them assaulted the wharf superintendent. The gazetting of those regulations caused them to go back to their old tricks. The passing of the Transport Workers Act enabled the handling of cargo at Queensland ports to be carried out much more efficiently, and reduced almost to vanishing point the pilfering and short landings which took place previously. Moreover, it was possible to run vessels to a schedule.
– Pilfering decreased because there was a policeman for every volunteer.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.Nothing of the sort. There was no necessity for any policemen on the wharfs, excepting to ensure that the volunteers would be permitted to continue their lawful occupation without interference. It is regrettable that honorable senators opposite desire a continuance of the conditions which existed prior to the enactment of the Transport Workers Act. I was surprised to hear Senator Daly, who, in this, chamber at least, should stand up for the rights of Parliament, urge that . the Executive should defy Parliament.
– I said nothing of the kind.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.The honorable senator did not say so in so many words, but he suggested it.
– I take exception to the remarks of Senator Glasgow. I did not say, nor did I suggest, that the executive should defy Parliament. Indeed, I said exactly the opposite. I said that the Government should make the regulation and notify the Opposition of its intention.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.The honorable senator knows that on two occasions regulations under the Transport Workers Act have been disallowed ; yet he urged the Government to persist in making other regulations.
– There is always a hope that even the honorable senator will be converted.
– There is no hope of converting the honorable senator. I ask him whether he desires to see peace and efficiency on the waterfront?
– I do.
– Work on the waterfront has been more’ efficiently and peacefully carried out since the passing of the Transport Workers Act than at any time previously.
– Why disturb those peaceful conditions?
– I hope that the Government will not persist in attempting to defy Parliament.
– I endorse the observations made by Senator Daly and suggest that before the Leader of the Government (Senator Barnes) replies to . what has been said he should read the judgment of the High Court. There is one point which should not be overlooked ; it is that the Senate, having previously disallowed a regulation, any attempt by the Executive to pass a regulation couchedin similar terms may be ineffective without any further disallowance. I feel sure that the Leader of the Government will appreciate that point; if he does not, I suggest that- he consult the law officers of the Crown. There are other points to which I should like to refer, but at this stage I merely suggest (hat the Minister should not attempt to reply this evening to the arguments which have been put forward.
– In all probability the Government will support the Protector of Aborigines in the stand that he has taken in connexion with the rate of pay for aboriginal drovers in the Northern Territory.
With regard to the matter raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce), I have not yet had an opportunity of studying the judgment to which he referred, and, therefore, I do not propose to make any comment upon it. As to the rights of this chamber, honorable senators may rest assured that at all times I shall endeavour to guard them jealously. But they should not forget that the Labour party went to the country with the repeal of the Transport Workers Act as part of its policy.
– Why not repeal it?
– The Labour party won the election on the policy placed before the electors. This chamber does not reflect the views of the .electors. Having tho people behind it, the Government is justified in exhausting every means in its power to give effect to its policy. If it cannot get its measures passed through both Houses of Parliament, it is justified in giving effect to its policy by other means. I am not prepared to say that the Government will give up the making of regulations. With regard to the threat of the Leader of the Opposition that, by a process of attrition and exhaustion, it will intimidate those on this side of the chamber, I inform the Senate that the challenge is accepted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 6.14 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 May 1931, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1931/19310513_senate_12_129/>.