12th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. W. Kingsmill) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate any statement to make as to the negotiations between the Premier of the State of New South Wales and the Prime Minister in respect of the financial position of New South Wales?
– Yes. I ask leave to make a statement on the subject.
– The following is a telegram sent by the Prime Minister to all members of the Loan Council : -
Following is summary of letter dated 15th July received by Commonwealth Treasurer from Premier and Treasurer of New South Wales: -
During recent conference of Premiers, it was generally understood that providing governments reduced deficits from £40,000,000 to £15,000,000 banks would carry respective governments during current financial year. Assuming deficits are reduced to £15,000,000 leeway will begreater during first half of year and consequently greater accommodation than £15,000,000 will be required between July and December but accommodation so provided will be lessened during second half of year. I am enclosing estimate of receipts and expenditure of New South Wales for period 1st July to 30th September from which it will be seen that apart from non-payment of London exchange and interest and the amounts withheld by the Commonwealth from this State we will require approximately £500,000 during July, further £2,000,000 during August and further £1,000,000 during September. Amount for August includes local interest amounting to over £750,000 due on 10th August. In order to meet this it will be necessary to obtain substantial proportion of August requirements early during that month. Present position of this State is that unless £500,000 is provided immediately we will be unahle to pay salaries and wages next week. Salary pay-day falls 23rd July but wages have to be paid practically every day. I have approached general managers of Bank of New South Wales and Commercial Banking Company of Sydney but they point out that arrangement is that accommodation required by any government must be dealt with through Commonwealth Bank by issue of Commonwealth treasury-bills. In view of foregoing I shall be glad if. you could assist this State by arranging if possible for issue of treasury-bills to extent of £500,000 within next few days and further amount of £2,000,000 in August of which £1,000,000 will be required before 10th of that month. In regard to debt conversion over £4,000,000 matures in this State on 10th August. I am inclined to think many holders will seek repayment and this is a question which will require your earnest consideration as it is impossible for the State to pay off any portion of the loan.
To-day at consultation with Mr. Long I informed him Commonwealth itself has no moneys available for loan to any State but is itself borrowing from its bankers. I also pointed out that as set out in resolutions of Loan Council meeting of 20th February last, provision of funds for advances to any State is a matter for Loan Council and not for
Commonwealth Government; also that Loan Council had declared it could not arrange further borrowing on behalf of New South Wales until it is clearthe Stateis prepared to honour its interest obligations. I undertook to submit present request of New South Wales lor funds to Loan Council together with any informationlikely to assist members of Loan Council in coming to decision. In regard to plan adopted by Premiers Conference, Premier of New South Wales states he proposes introducing this week legislation covering conversion agreement, trustees and private interest and at earliest possible moment legislation providing for economies in expenditure. This latter would be on lines indicated at Premiers Conference, namely, reduction to £500 of all public service salaries above that amount and such further economies as are necessary to secure total economies of 20 per cent. Premier also advised he would submit to his Cabinet and party question of New South Wales rejoining Loan Council and question of New South Wales assuming responsibility for payment of interest overseas. I consider it essential that meeting of Loan Council be held at early date to consider questions arising out of Premier’s letter and my conference with him ; but pending that meeting early decision is desired whether Loan Council will approve issue of treasury-bills for £500,000 to cover immediate requirements of New South Wales. If Loan Council so approved Commonwealth Bank would be approached with view to seeing whether, in conjunction with other hanks, it would arrange sale of treasury-bills for £500,000 for Government of New South Wales. Immediately I receive advice from Premier of New South Wales regarding the two questions on which he is consulting Cabinet and party I will again communicate with you. This telegram has been seen by Mr. Lang.
Scullin for Chairman Loan Council, 20th , July, 1931.
– On the 15th July
asked the following question,upon notice: -
What was the total number of Commonwealth public servants, together with total salaries paid, and including all Commonwealth activities, in the years 1910, 1914, 1918, 1922 and 1926; and what are they at the present time?
The following table indicates the numbers of employees and the approximate amount paid for salaries and wages during the years in question to permanent employees under the Public Service Act. Only permanent employees are included, as it is not possible to obtain figures for temporary employees on a comparable basis for all the years mentioned. To obtain information with respect to employees not subject to the provisions of the Public Service Act would involve a great deal of time and labour: -
Final figures for the year ended 30th June, 1931 . are not available. An estimate of the total amount paid, however, is £8,350,000.
– Has the Government taken into consideration the disastrous effect on the business of vendors of books and magazines, and on their employees, if a sales tax is imposed without exempting these articles, and, if so, what is the decision of the Government?
– The matter is under consideration; but, in view of the fact that the purchaser of a book which costs 10s. pays only 6d. in sales tax, and the purchaser of a book which cost 2s. 6d. only1½d., it does not seem to me that the public is suffering any undue disability.
– Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware that the increased primage duty and sales tax on scientific apparatus and literature for the universities of Queensland and the other States are causing a good deal of concern to the authorities of such institutions, and, if so, will the Government consider a proposal to exempt scientific apparatus and literature?
– The matter mentioned by the honorable senator is engaging the attention of Cabinet, and the intention of the Government will be made known when the sales tax bills are before the Senate.
– Is the Leader of the Senate (Senator Barnes) aware that the Adelaide branch of the Australian Workers Union, of which, I understand, he is the general president, has, by a large majority, carried a resolution condemning the Premiers’ plan for the financial and economic rehabilitation of the Common- wealth; and, if so, will he- inform the Senate if he proposes to take action to discipline the union?
– I have no official knowledge of the circumstances mentioned by the honorable senator.
Five-day Week - Child Endowment.
In reference to the arrangements made in Commonwealth departments in Canberra in connexion with the five-day working week for public servants, are those public servants who will be required to attend on Saturdays at the branches of the service in which the fiveday week is to obtain, to be paid overtime rates for working on Saturdays?
-.- Wo. Approval was given to the scheme on the distinct understanding that no overtime would be paid by reason, of the change to the fiveday working week.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– These matters are being looked into at the present time. The right honorable senator will be advised when a decision has been arrived at.
– I move - That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a bill to ratify the trade agreement between Canada and Australia which has recently been negotiated. The primary basis of the discussions was that each country admitted the necessity to protect domestic industries. The agreement, therefore, relates to goods which the importing country either does not produce oi” produces in quantities insufficient to meet local demands. Previously these demands were to a large extent supplied by foreign countries. The agreement will, result in the diversion of trade intoCanadian and Australian channels to themutual advantage of both these countries. Its beneficial effects will, I feel sure, lead to further agreements for the promotion of inter-Empire trade which the Imperial Conference considered so desirable for thewellbeing of the British Commonwealth of Nations. It will give tremendous impetus to the realization of what a year ago was more or less an ideal to be consummated at some indefinite future time.
Turning now to the .details of the agreement the feature that immediately forces itself upon the attention is .the benefit which will accrue to our primary producers who, at the present time, are particularly in need of assistance. With respect to fresh meat we are to have our preference over the general tariff increased from 3 cents to 5 cents per lb. The value of Canadian imports of beef, mutton and lamb for the twelve months ended March, 1930, was £222,857. Australia’s share of this amounted to £140,795. With the increased rate of preference, it is expected that the balance of this trade, amounting to £82,062 will fall to our exporters.
With respect to Canadian imports of canned meats, the bulk is held by the Argentine - £143,220 worth out of a total of £186,498. As our rate of preference will be increased under the agreement from 12* per cent, to 20 per cent., Australian canners should be in an advantageous position to compete for this valuable market.
Frozen rabbits for feeding foxes will be admitted free. The former rate was 20 per cent, ad valorem. The rate on tallow will be reduced from 20 per cent, to 10 per cent.
The Australian egg trade is mainly interested in the Canadian market during the months of January and February. The agreement provides that eggs in the shell shall be admitted free during those months, and during the balance of the year shall come under the British preferential tariff of 2 cents, the general rate being 10 cents. Egg yolk and egg albumen are also to come under the. British preferential rate of 5 cents instead of 10 cents, less 10 per cent.
Australia lost her important butter trade with Canada owing to the imposition of dumping duties. These duties will be removed and the tariff rate will be 5 cents as against rates of 8, 12, and 14 cents under the British preferential, intermediate and general tariffs respectively. There is an undertaking that we will not undersell Canadian producers of butter. It is expected that Australia will supply the whole of Canada’s requirements, which are estimated to amount to £2,800,000 per annum.
A trial shipment of hops was sent to Canada and was favorably received. Australia will be given an opportunity to participate in this trade by the reduction of duty from 12 cents per lb., less 10 per cent., to 6 cents per lb. The British preferential rate is 8 cents, and the intermediate and general rates are each 16 cents.
Encouragement to our rice-growers is given by a provision that when Australia can supply Canadian requirements for rice, an ad valorem duty of 25 per cent, will be imposed on rice of other countries imported into Canada. As Canadian imports of rice in 1929-30 were valued at £379,000 there is an excellent market awaiting our development.
The duty of 25 cents per 100 lb. which at present applies to fresh apricots, pears, quinces and nectarines, is to be removed, while similar fruits from foreign countries will be subject to a 20 per cent, ad valorem duty. This is also a valuable market, as imports, all of which come from the United States, are valued at about £240,000 per annum. Fresh grapes, which were subject to a duty of 2 cents per -lb., are to be free of duty, and the 20 per cent, ad valorem duty on passion fruit is to be removed. Dried prunes, now subject to an ad valorem duty of 10 per cent., will be free, and, in addition, will receive a 1 cent per lb. preference against foreign countries.
Australia has already derived substantial .benefit from the past preference in relation to raisins and dried currants. As that preference will be extended from 3 cents to 4 cents per lb., or £18 13s. 4d. per ton, it is expected that Australia will be able to capture the whole market, the value of which is over £500,000. At present the value of our exports in currants and raisins is only half that amount.
Canadian imports of oranges amount to nearly £2,000,000 annually. They come mainly from the United States. It is proposed to admit Australian oranges free, and to subject oranges from foreign countries to a duty of 35 cents per cubic foot. As several trial shipments of Australian oranges were successfully made last year, a very valuable market is offered to us.. Fruit pulp other than grape pulp will now be admitted free for all purposes. Previously, there was a duty of half a cent, per lb., if imported for purposes other than jam or preserve making. It is proposed to increase the Australian preference over foreign countries with respect to canned fruits from 2) cents to 41 cents per lb. As practically the whole of our competition comes from California, Australia should soon, supply the whole of the Canadian requirements, valued at about £430,000 per annum.
Special provision has been made with respect to canned pineapples, as the British preferential rate will be increased to 3 cents instead of £ cent per lb. This will give Australia an advantage over the Malay States. The value of the Canadian pineapple trade is £250,000.
A provision similar to that proposed for rice is included in the agreement in respect of peanuts. When Australia is in a position to supply the market there will be a duty of 4 cents per lb. on foreign peanuts, and no duty on Australian peanuts.
While fruit juices, and brandy and champagne are to receive favorable treatment, a very valuable concession is offered in respect of Australian still wines, of which there are 2,000,000 gallons available for export. The duty at present applicable is at the rate of 79 cents per gallon ; the new rate suggested is 25 cents. We are also offered preferences on veneers, gelatine and eucalyptus oil. The position in regard to woollen piece goods is now being investigated, and there are prospects of an extensive trade in that direction being developed. The concessions I have enumerated equal or exceed, in the majority of cases, the desires of the particular trades concerned. We can., therefore, expect a vigorous stimulation of our export trade with Canada.
Considering now the benefits offered to our sister dominion in exchange for those conferred upon us, we find three items of outstanding importance. The first is canned salmon - a trade in which the United States of America is the chief competitor. The preference offered is an additional 1½d. per lb., and we have received an- assurance that the Canadian product will not be increased in price. The next item is timber, in respect of which we propose to give Canada a substantial preference against foreign competition. Another important item is newsprinting paper, which will receive the benefit of the reduction recently made in the British preferential tariff.
The motor industry of Canada is also given support by increasing the difference between the intermediate and general tariff rates from 5 per cent, to 17£ per cent, on unassembled chassis. It is considered that the increase will enable Canadian motor manufacturers to enter into successful competion with those of the United States of America. Finally, British preferential tariff rates are applied to a number of Canadian manufactures. I do not anticipate any opposition to the bill, and, therefore, shall not labour the question. I confidently commend the bill to the Senate.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [3.25]. - This measure constitutes such a good bargain that we should not do anything that might delay its passing. I, therefore, shall not ask for the adjournment of the debate. I congratulate the Government, the Minister for Markets (Mr. Parker Moloney), and1 the officers of the department on having concluded a trade agreement with Canada which, I feel sure, will confer a tremendous benefit on Australian, trade. This agreement represents a great advance; I believe that it will benefit both countries.
The Minister was fortunate in finding Canada in a most favorable frame of mind to enter into a trade agreement with Australia, because of the operation of the Smoot-Hawley tariff passed by the United States of America about a year ago. That tariff was directed against Canada in that it excluded from the markets of the United States of America a number of Canadian products. The people of Canada were in that frame of mind in which they were glad to avail themselves of the opportunity to hit back anyhow and anywhere. I can understand that when the Australian delegation reached Canada it was welcomed as a gift from the gods, because it gave the people of Canada an opportunity to treat the United States of America to some of its own medicine. In this agreement they have done that heartily, with great benefit to the Commonwealth. The agreement should stimulate our dried and fresh fruits industries, since it will provide for those products a market which Australia previously could not enter, because of the competition from California. Australia should be able to capture the whole of the Canadian market in dried fruits, so long as the quality of our product is maintained. In the past Australian producers have only too frequently been foolish in that after they have captured a market they have lost it, because inferior goods have been supplied. Generally, people are prepared to pay a higher price to obtain a superior article. We all know that the dried fruits of California are packed attractively and well, and that the goods themselves are of first-class quality. Unless Australian producers maintain the quality of their product, and the attractiveness of its get-up, they will lose the Canadian market as they have lost other markets in the past.
This bill constitutes a splendid bargain for Australia. It should give a great impetus to our fruit industry, particularly in respect of dried fruits and oranges. I hope that it will not injure the British motor industry. As I understand the agreement, the Canadian motor industry will get the benefit of the intermediate tariff, while the general tariff has been raised. That should make it harder for the United States of America to compete with Canada. I take it that the relative positions of Canada and Great Britain have not been altered. I should be sorry to see Australia enter into a trade agreement with any dominion that would injure the Mother
Country which provides a free market for so many of our goods.
Finally this trade agreement provides an object lesson of the benefit of lower tariffs. Australia will benefit from the lower tariff imposed by Canada, and vice versa.
I rose for the purpose of congratulating the Government on having brought this agreement to a successful conclusion, and to say that, in my opinion, it should confer a great benefit on Australia.
SenatorR. D. ELLIOTT (Victoria) [3.30]. - I join with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) in congratulating the Government upon having completed this trade agreement between the Commonwealth and the Dominion of Canada. Like the right honorable gentleman, I realize its great importance to our fruit-growers and those engaged in allied industries. I share with him the view that in the past we Australians have been careless in our packing and shipping methods, and that unless we concentrate upon uniformity of quality and packing, it is possible that we may lose the advantage which this agreement offers the fruit and dried fruits industries.
The Leader of the Opposition confined his attention to the effect of this trade agreement on our fruit-growing industry ; but what interests me, more perhaps than any other consideration, is the possibilities that it opens up in respect to the Australian production of butter. If I heard the Assistant Minister (Senator Dooley) correctly, I understand that under this agreement the way will be opened for Australia to export to Canada £2,800,000 worth of butter per annum. If that is so, it is,I think, one of the most important features of the agreement. A study of the figures relating to the dairying industry shows that it is really one of the most valuable, not only to Australia, but the Empire as a whole.
– It should be.
SenatorR. D. ELLIOTT.- It should be, and it is. It brings about a form of intensive settlement, and also provides unrivalled opportunities for the establishment of homes, and for keeping families together in those homes when once they are established. In addition it can be a material help in the redistribution of the population of not only Australia, but also the Empire. That is a feature of the industry which I hope it will be called upon to consider in the not distant future. The importance of the butter industry is apparent whether judged from the view-point of its magnitude, the quality of its product, the value of its exports, or its influence upon the social life of Australia. In magnitude I consider that it ranks as one of the first in Australia. No less than £125,000,000 has been expended in developing and equipping dairy farms and the dairying industry. Its production is valued at £45,000,000 per annum and of that amount £30,000,000 represents milk products. The butter and cheese section of the industry is responsible for a capital outlay of £5,000,000, and the average annual output of that section during the last four years alone runs into £50,000,000. The production of butter totals 120,000 tons per annum. Of that quantity, until the present year, twothirds has been consumed locally and one-third has been exported. During this year, however, the position has so changed that our exports have been in the vicinity of 50 per cent, of the total output. This has been due to the reduced local consumption consequent upon the depression, and also to a comparatively small, but none the less menacing element of the introduction of cocoa butter in at least one of the States. The most important feature of all is that this has been a record year for butter-production in Australia, so that the opening of this new door to a market for our butter, to the extent of £2,800,000 a year is particularly welcome at this juncture. It is interesting to note that no less than 140,000 persons are engaged on dairy farms in Australia, and that in the factory section associated with the dairying industry another 6,000 employees are employed.
– They are not all adults.
– The factory section of the dairying industry compares very favorably with the largest of Australia’s secondary industries. The number of people dependent upon this huge number employed in the industry runs into 500,000. It is no exaggeration to say that there are hundreds of towns in Australia dependent almost entirely upon the dairying industry. We are safe in assuming that 1,000,000 persons, or nearly one-sixth of the total population of Australia, are dependent upon its development and security. For those reasons if for no other I congratulate the Government upon having been able to complete this agreement. I hope that the Government will not rest here, and regard this as the end. Rather should it be regarded as but the beginning of an effort to achieve the still greater objective of Empire economic unity. Empire economic unity offers avenues of activity, employment and prosperity, not only to Australia, but also to every other portion ‘of the Empire, that are hardly dreamt of.
I welcome the agreement also because it removes the atmosphere of failure created at the Imperial Conference last year. It is well known that the press of America and the foreign press generally received the failure of the conference with unconcealed jubilation, contending that it meant the beginning of the end of the Empire. Happily the foreign press was wrong. It meant not the beginning of the end of the Empire; but rather the beginning of the end of the little Australians, the little Canadians, the little Englanders - the Snowdens and the cobdenites of the British Empire. This gives us heart. We all know what was the attitude taken up at the Imperial Conference by the Prime Minister of Australia (Mr. Scullin). It was one to bring about the closer unity of the Empire so that its purchasing power should be concentrated within the Empire.
– With Australia’s door closed against British manufacturers.
– At present that is so; but as indicated by the Leader of the Opposition this agreement, small as it is, is one of the ways of opening the doors which Senator Johnston says are closed.
– And which at present are not closed.
– I do not wish to enter into a discussion upon that phase of the question at this juncture; if I did I might be inclined to support the views of Senator Johnston.
– Senator Greene should have convinced the honorable senator some time ago that our doors are not closed to the British manufacturers - that the honorable senator is quite wrong.
– He did not. On. the wider issue we can take heart from the fact that within the last eighteen months, even in the United Kingdom as well as other portions of the Empire, a new Empire, consciousness has been aroused, and that the torch of Empire trade and development has been lit and cannot be extinguished. The humiliation of that wasted Economic Conference is the last victory of the enemies of Empire trade and development. The people of Great Britain will soon brush them aside with contempt. The Prime Ministers of the several dominions will then be summoned to another conference which will end in triumph and usher in a new era of Empire development and Empire prosperity.
– Despite the so-called “closed doors”.
– The honorable Minister is endeavouring to lead me into a discussion of a side issue which I am doing my best to avoid. The line of policy which underlies this agreement is not a new one in the world ; it has been successfully in force in the United States of America and France in connexion with their colonies. The trade which France did with her colonies in 1913 amounted to only £6,000,000; but, in 1929, as a result of having taken advantage of opportunities similar to those that presented themselves to this Government in the case of Canada, it amounted to £137,000,000.
– The French colonies are not self-governing communities.
– No. But, prior to 1913, France had not attempted to develop the economic resources of her empire. The realization of the possibilities underlying that development led to the trade between the parent body and the colonies being increased by £131,000,000 between 1913 and 1929.
– The colonies had no choice.
– I agree with that and am not contesting the point.
The Prime Minister of Australia, at the recent Imperial Conference, declared himself wholeheartedly in favour of developing Empire economic unity. I promise him the fullest measure of my support in anything that either he or the Government may do in that connexion.
– What about wholly supporting the Government?
SenatorR. D. ELLIOTT.- Instead of introducing side issues, the honorable senator should study the wonderful possibilities that are involved in this matter, and endeavour to awaken the people of South Australia to a realization of the tremendous opportunities that exist for the development within Australia of economic resources which, at the present time, are largely neglected.
– Senator O’Halloran merely pointed out the shortest route to the attainment of the objective which the honorable senator wishes to reach.
– I shall support, up to the hilt, anything that the Government may do in this connexion. Unfortunately, I do not see eye to eye with the honorable senator upon other matters. I shall have other opportunities of pointing out to him directions in which I do not agree with the honorable senator and his party. Let us mobilize the resources, not only of Australia, but also of the British Empire, and approach the task as business men anxious to obtain effective results, realizing that the world is entering upon a period of intense economic competition between large and highlyorganized units. That alone will force us, whether we wish it or not, to come face to face with this issue. I feel that the resources of the British Empire are being wasted. Is there anything more repugnant to a business man than the contemplation of economic possibilities or opportunities that are being neglected because of lack of organization ? Lack of system is synonymous with waste. There is, in the wider policy that I am advocating, nothing that would fail to develop the whole of the resources of the Empire, or that would endanger any section of the Empire. Our object should be to develop the whole of the resources of the Empire, without endangering or interfering with those of any section. Our
Empire should not be merely a counter for the display of the manufactured commodities of other countries. The exports of the United States of America, which will be the greatest sufferer from this particular treaty, are half as great again as are those of the United Kingdom. One might wonder where they find that huge market for their products. Strangely enough, it is within the British Empire itself, into one and another section of which 44 per cent, of the total exports of the United States of America go. Last year, the dominions and colonies of Great Britain purchased from the United States of America more than they did from the Mother Country. That is a startling and astounding position. Other countries are selling to and taking nothing from us. It is well known that the doors of the United States of America have been slammed against everything that Australia can produce which should find a place in that market. That country to-day imposes a duty of1s. 6½d. per lb. on Australian wool and of 8d. per lb. on Australian butter. A similar position exists in connexion with all the exportable commodities produced by this country. Yet our imports from the United States of America have been so substantial that, in a period of seven years, the trade balance in her. favour amounted to no less an amount than £201,000,000.
– That was the position ; but it is not so to-day.
– It has been altered since this Government came into power.
– At the present time, France imposes a duty of 10s. 6d. a bushel on Australian wheat.
– That is our own fault.
– It is due principally to the development by France of her own economic resources. To-day, we have a credit balance with France, because she is one of the large buyers of our wool. She comes to us for that commodity, not from choice but from necessity. For years, she has been spending hundreds of thousands of pounds in an endeavour to find a substitute for wool.
– Is Australia the only country whom France has thus hit?
SenatorR. D. ELLIOTT. - Although France is an importer of wheat, she subsidizes the export of grain, and those exports find their way to the United Kingdom, which is our natural market. The French grower of wheat receives more for the home-grown grain that is exported to the United Kingdom than for that which is consumed locally. France also imposes a duty of 98s. 3d. per cwt. on Australian butter.
– That has been done only recently.
SenatorR. D. ELLIOTT.-Recently a super tariff was imposed. Prior to that, the duty practically prohibited the export of Australian butter to that country. Germany imposes a duty of £90s. 6d. a ton on Australian wheat. It is our duty to ourselves, to the Mother Country, and to the Empire, to encourage and help either this or any other Government to advance this particular line of thought and action, and to endeavour to open up other markets within the British Empire.
I feel that there is a doubt in the minds of some honorable senators as to the attitude in Great Britain on this question. That doubt exists only in the minds of those honorable senators who have not of late studied the trend of events in the United Kingdom. The point is rapidly being reached when the motto of every elector of Great Britain shall be “ England demands that every foreigner shall this day pay his duty.” “Within a period of eighteen months or two years the United Kingdom will be ready to negotiate definitely and advantageously with either this or any other Australian Government.
-The present British Government will first have to be got out of the way.
SenatorR. D. ELLIOTT.- I agree that there is very little hope for success while the present Government is in power in the United Kingdom, but I regard the way in which the MacDonald Government turned this issue down at the last Imperial Conference as the second best thing that could have happened so far as this country is concerned. It served to consolidate the opposing forces and brought home to the working men of Great Britain the possibilities of this issue.
Furthermore, it served to discount assertions by foreign countries that the dominions, and particularly Australia, would have nothing to do with reciprocal Empire trade. As late as last year that argument was canvassed throughout. Britain prompted by foreign enemies of the cause. This hill, however, will bring it home to the United Kingdom that Australia is ready and waiting to enter into reciprocal arrangements with other parts of the Empire.
The right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) fears that this agreement may interfere with British trade. I agree that anything that menaces the economic position of Great Britain also menaces our future; but I feel that if the fear expressed by Senator Pearce is reflected in the motor industry of the United Kingdom, it will be a decided advantage, inasmuch as it will bring it home to the people of the United Kingdom that the dominions are waiting for the Mother Country to take the lead in this wonderful issue.
It is interesting to know that in 1928 Great Britain imported butter, cheese, and eggs worth £45,500,000.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. W. Kingsmill) . - Will the honorable senator please connect his remarks with the bill?
SenatorR. D. ELLIOTT.- The issue of Empire preference is very much wrapped up in the bill, and I am taking this opportunity to remind honorable senators that the Australian ship of freedom is moored to the British Empire. Politically, we are independent, but economically or internationally we are not. Australia is dependent for its markets and capital upon other countries, and increasingly so upon the Mother Country and other parts of the Empire.
– They are also dependent upon us.
SenatorR. D. ELLIOTT.- But we are more dependent upon them than they are upon us. Sometimes we in Australia regard ourselves as supermen, capable of developing economic conditions without regard to those prevailing in other parts of the world. One definite result of our pursuance of that policy is the financial position in which we find ourselves to-day.
Unity is the theory of Empire, but sentiment alone is not sufficient to cement coherence. It is agreements such as the one before us to-day that matter. This bil] is of great historical importance. It is a definite step towards national wealth making, and towards binding the British Empire into closer economic unity with greater inter-Empire freedom of trade, and, at the same time, protection against studied dumping from outside. It can be made an instrument of persuasion for breaking down foreign tariff barriers, thus creating greater trade with the rest of the world; because, if we produce, we must distribute. Mass production is only possible with mass consumption. Trade agreements with the other parts of the British Empire, and particularly with the heart of the Empire itself, will create those new markets without which Australia cannot progress. I hope, therefore, that this arrangement is merely the forerunner of others, and that within the next few years we shall have such economic unity throughout the Empire that we shall have an opportunity, because of the markets it would create for the sale of our produce, to develop the resources awaiting development in this wonderful country of ours, Australia.
– In the first place, I congratulate those immediately concerned in the negotiations for this trade arrangement with Canada, which I believe will be of mutual benefit to both countries. It is certainly a triumph for the protectionist policy of Australia, because without protection we should not have been able to build up the industries which are supplying the produce to which Canada is affording preferential treatment.
– If we had not had a tariff we could not have made an agreement with Canada.
– We should not have been in a position to negotiate. That is one argument for having high duties. The bill is an important step towards the economic unity so - much desired, but that unity must be upon terms which are fair to all parties concerned. Whilst I am desirous of having a greater exchange of products with the Mother Country than we have at present, and am willing to extend to Great Britain a greater measure of preference than now exists, I think that that object can only be achieved by a satisfactory arrangement such as we find in this bill. There must be concession for concession. It is a matter for congratulation that in Great Britain there has been of recent years a noticeable change in public opinion upon fiscal questions. Two years ago Mr. Lloyd George declared that protection would come upon England like a thief in the night, and not long since Mr. Baldwin said that Great Britain must have not only a substantial protection, but also, absolute prohibition in the case of the importation of goods produced under unfair conditions in other countries. That statement was made, I think, particularly in regard to importations from Russia.
We are all too apt to regard as primary products what are to a large extent secondary products. Quite recently, at the request of the dairymen of Australia, the import duties upon butter and cheese were substantially increased in order to afford them protection from importations from New Zealand, whose conditions are comparable with our own. So-called primary producers are all too apt to forget the advantages they enjoy under Australia’s protection policy. Butter ceases to be a primary industry when the milk enters the factory.
– It is the same with wheat when it is converted into flour.
– Yes. The conversion of milk into butter or cheese is as much a secondary industry as is the manufacture of woollen goods ; and I can see no reason why the people engaged in these industries should object to protection being given to other industries. Complaint is made about the cost of farming machinery, but there again primary industries are concerned. The production of iron and steel gives employment to coal-miners in New South Wales, and to the men who mine iron ore in South Australia, or limestone in Tasmania.
– May I ask the honorable senator to connect his remarks with the bill?
– I am endeavouring to confine my remarks to matters relevant to the bill, which in a measure involves the fiscal policy of Australia. Reference has been made to the exports of the United States of America. Certainly they are large, but on a per capita basis the imports and exports of that country are small compared with those of other countries.- Reference has also been made to the so-called retaliatory duties imposed by France. We all regret that France has done this, but I do not think any fault lies with Australia.
– Or with the present Government.
– Or with the pres/nt Government. We know that high duties and embargoes were absolutely necessary in the interests of Australia. We had unfortunately drifted into a position which called for drastic remedies by way of correction, and if those remedies had not been applied the position would have rapidly become worse. Unemployment would have increased. We have also, to remember that nearly all our importations from France were of a luxury character
– The honorable senator is now very definitely straying from the subject of the bill.
– I have dealt only with matters referred to by previous speakers.
– Instead of following previous speakers the honorable senator is straying further.
– I do not propose to make any further reference to what France has done other than to say that our government was right in deciding that the poor of Australia should be fed before the rich should be perfumed.
Very much might be said about this reciprocal arrangement between Canada and Australia. Time only will show which country will derive the greater advantage from it, but I believe that mutual benefits will accrue. The bill certainly will have a most important effect in improving the fiscal arrangements between Australia and other parts of the Empire, including the Mother Country.
– This trade agreement seems to be giving absolute satisfaction to the public of both countries. The cable news reports that the Canadian Government is rejoicing over the advantages which will accrue to the people of thatcountry, and from the comments that have been made in Australia, apparently it is giving entire satisfaction to the people of this country also. It will, I believe, be mutually beneficial. But from my previous knowledge of a similar agreement which included many of the items embraced in this measure, though on a smaller scale, I should like to address some observations with regard to certain aspects of such trade arrangements. The time was opportune for the completion of this agreement. Mr. Bennett, Prime Minister of Canada, had returned to Canada from the Imperial Conference, stung, no doubt, by what he felt to be the failure of all his efforts to bring about inter-Empire reciprocity in trade, and there was much dissatisfaction in Canada concerning the tariff policy of the United States of America. Accordingly the time was ripe for the negotiations between our Minister for Markets (Mr. Parker Moloney) and the Canadian Ministry, which resulted in the completion of this agreement. I congratulate the Minister and his department for acting at the psychological moment, because while Canada hails this arrangement with satisfaction, we also have good reason to be gratified with the prospects of future trade made possible under this agreement. I believe that it will be of mutual benefit to both countries.
But I did not rise to make observations along these lines so much as to direct attention to the need for adequate precautions being taken to see that all produce exported under this trade agreement is properly handled. I had an opportunity, about six years ago when in Great Britain, to examine certain Australian products from the port of shipment in Great Britain to Carlisle in the north and Keswick in the lake district of England, and I regret to say that some of it was a disgrace to this country, and should not have been passed for export. I, therefore, join with the Leader of the Opposition in suggesting that proper provision be made to see that only goods of the right quality are shipped, and that some supervision is exercised over their sale in Canada. From personal observations I know that this is necessary. In London some years ago I saw exposed for sale some
Australian apples that would not be fed to pigs in this country. There was no doubt either that they were Australian apples, so obviously there is some screw loose somewhere in the business of supervision at this end. Another important matter is the need for continuity of supply. Under this agreement we must be prepared to supply to Canada the commodities she needs when she requires them, and we must be especially careful to see that the channels of communication are always kept open. On this point, some years ago, as the direct result of a strike in the shipping industry in Australia, we lost an important market in Colombo in such secondary products as jams, sauces, and condiments. Because of the failure of our transport facilities the merchants in Colombo were forced to obtain supplies from California, and to this day the products of that country are still going forward without hindrance. Some effort I know has been made lately to recover this market for Australia. As a matter of fact I had an opportunity to make certain investigations myself, and I know thatdepartmental inquiries are being made with a view to Australia making contact with that market again. We also must see that our transport facilities are such as to permit of our products arriving in the best possible . condition. I regret to say that I cannot find in the agreement any provision with regard to the inspection of Australian commodities at the port of entry. This is of the highest importance. Whilst I was in England, I saw, exposed for sale in butchers’ shop windows, so-called Australian mutton, which from my own personal experience I knew had been killed only a few days. One butcher was even displaying a number, of ragged ends of a beast which would be described in this country as a cull. Evidently it had been killed on a neighbouring farm only a few days earlier, and as the butcher did not care to offer it for sale as best British mutton, he tagged on a label, describing it as the product of Australia. I felt so strongly about the matter that I entered the shop and, I am afraid that in my interview with the butcher in question, I made myself somewhat offensive, because he became excited and produced a’ ticket which he endeavoured to persuade me had been supplied with the meat when he bought it in the Smithfield market. Of course he was merely endeavouring to “ bluff “ me. The ticket might have been attached to the meat sold in the Smithfield market a year earlier. He tried to persuade me that it was Australian mutton but I knew better. I know that sometimes, even under the most careful supervision, products that are not quite up to the standard are passed for export but it is regrettable that no provision is made in this agreement for the oversight of Australian products in Canada. The same criticism, I understand, may be applied to the disposal of our butter in England. Unless adequate safeguards against imposition are provided in these trade agreements, I am afraid that attainment of the ideal for which Senator R. D. Elliott stands, namely, inter-Empire trade reciprocity, will be delayed somewhat. There should be an arrangement for the policing of the produce up to the time of its sale to consumers in the respective countries. I make these observations in the hope that they will be helpful to the Minister and the department concerned, and may prevent a recurrence of what I know has happened in connexion with the sale overseas of a number of Australian export commodities.
I approve of the agreement, which I trust will be the forerunner of similar trade arrangements with other parts of the Empire, and the Mother Country itself. What will be its effect upon the motor trade I am not in a position to say, but I think we should endeavour to prevent those vast corporations in the United States of America from securing the full benefit of this arrangement by the extension of their operations into the sister dominion, because I take it that the basic principle underlying this agreement is the desire to assist the people of Canada, and not foreign trade corporations.
– How will it be possible to prevent huge corporations of the United States of America from securing benefits under this agreement, if they establish branch factories in Canada?’
– I realize the difficulty, but I sound this note of warning in the hope that it may be possible to prevent the abuse of this agreement.
– Although I have no doubt that both Australia and Canada will enjoy some advantages under this trade agreement, it will, I believe, be disadvantageous to certain of our industries.’ For example, the Canadian timber will, in future, come under the intermediate tariff of 10 s. 6d. instead of the former rate of 12s 6d. per 100 super, feet. This will seriously affect the Australian industry at a time when scientific investigations are being made with a view to utilizing our hardwoods for the manufacture of newsprint. This is but one phase of the subject. The geographical situation of the two countries suggests that trade agreements along these lines should have been entered into long ago. Canada, for the most part, is in the Arctic regions whereas a great portion of Australia is more suited to the growth of sub-tropical products. , There is no earthly reason why our products should not find a ready market in Canada, and similarly there is no reason why Canadian products should not find a ready sale in this country. The imposition of a high tariff on commodities which we cannot produce, merely enriches the Treasury at the expense of the consumer and industry generally.
This trade agreement is the first instalment of what I would term the application of commonsense principles to the fiscal relations of the two countries, and it might very well have included agricultural machinery in the intermediate schedule. It is strange that this Parliament has not attained to a higher degree of fiscal wisdom than to approve of the imposition of a heavy tariff on Canadian agricultural machinery. Although in the manufacture of agricultural machinery in Canada higher wages are paid and better conditions obtain than in Australia, there is a prohibition against the importation of agricultural machinery from that dominion.
– The price of Canadian agricultural implements in New Zealand is the same as the price in Australia for locally-made machines.
– Then the only object of the embargo is to reserve the market to the Australian manufacturers. If Canadian machinery were allowed to enter this country there would be com petition, and the primary producers would benefit. I was surprised that Senator Crawford should say that butter could scarcely be regarded as a primary product. According to the honorable senator’s definition of primary products, even wheat would cease to be a primary product because of the amount of labour associated with its production. On the same reasoning probably our only primary industry would be that of catching and exporting rabbits. Even Senator Crawford would scarcely suggest that Australia would thrive on that industry.
I hope that our experience in connexion with this agreement will lead to a wider application of the principle underlying it. I fail to see any reason for imposing high duties against the products of a sister dominion whose standard of living is at least as high as that of Australia. When reason prevails in fiscal matters, we may expect an extension of the principle underlying this agreement; but until then we shall have to be content with the measure of benefit which this agreement confers.
Australian producers must take greater care then they have shown in the past in displaying their products in other countries. Australians who attended the last Canadian Exposition have told me that they were thoroughly ashamed of the way in which Australian products were exposed to view. The exhibits, they said, were slovenly and untidy, and revealed a deplorable lack of business acumen on the part of the persons responsible for their display. These Australians were ashamed of the products of their own country. Whoever is responsible for the display of Australian products in other countries should be made to do his work properly or suffer the consequences.
Within the British Empire the people are suffering from an excess of liberty. Strange though that may sound, it i» nevertheless true. Here in Australia we are using that liberty to raise barriers against the products of our kinsmen in Canada and New Zealand, who have descended from the same common stock. Why should we impose heavy duties on their products ? What reason is there for placing a duty of ls. 6d. a bushel on New Zealand wheat 1 It is like putting a fifth wheel on a coach. There is no need for it, because the wheat-growers df Australia are prepared to defy the world, with the possible exception of Russia. in which country wheat is produced under conditions which, although not fully known to us, are repugnant to Australians. The only reason I mention the wheat industry is to compare the treatment meted out to it with that shown to other primary industries. The growers of fruit in Australia will reap an advantage from this agreement; the Australian wheat-grower will not. The Australian wheat-grower does not ask for any advantage; he can hold his own in competition with the world, notwithstanding that much of the wheat he produces is grown in soils and in areas which, in other countries, would not be devoted to wheat. That the Australian wheatgrower has been able to meet the competition of the world, notwithstanding his many disadvantages, is marvellous. If the spirit he displays were the spirit of the whole of the Australian people, Australia would have’ no need to fear. Great Britain has a population of about 44,000,000 persons; Australia about 6,500,000, and Canada about 10,000,000. Combined, they do not equal one-half of the population of the United States of America. Because of the liberty which we, as Britishers, enjoy, we are putting up barriers against one another, instead of working in harmony. Consequently, we are handicapping ourselves in competition with a country like the United States of America. Strange though it may seem, our very liberty is our handicap. Let me again refer to the case of agricultural machinery. Because of the duties which we placed on , agricultural machinery made in Canada, and more recently, the prohibition of the importation of such machinery, Australian wheatgrowers are compelled to pay excessive prices for the implements they need. To that extent they are handicapped in the world race for success. Were the several parts of the British Empire not separated as they now are, these artificial barriers would not be raised, and, therefore, these handicaps would not exist.
This agreement is a step in the right direction. We should extend the principle underlying it, and allow the natural products of one portion of the Empire to enter free into other dominions where they cannot be easily and naturally produced. By so doing, all would be better equipped to meet the competition of other nations-.
I regret that the Australian timber industry will suffer because of this agreement. What other industries will gain from it, the timber industry will lose. That handicap will affect Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia, “the other States having insufficient natural timber resources to be adversely affected. I should like to alter that part of the agreement ; but, apparently, we must take it as a whole. If we attempt to alter it in any particular, the result might be less advantageous to Australia as a whole than it will be under the agreement, although it places a burden on the timber industry. With that exception, I support the bill, in the belief that it will pave the way to a better understanding of the problems confronting the two dominions.
We in this Parliament are privileged in that we are able to view these matters from a higher observation point than that which is possible to the average country settler or city-dweller, who has neither the time nor the opportunity to do much more than attend to his everyday duties. It is our duty and privilege to watch fiscal matters in order that Australia might not be placed at a disadvantage when compared with other countries. In the belief that this agreement will confer a benefit on Australia as a whole, I shall support the measure.
– I am sure that the Minister for Markets and Transport (Mr. Parker Moloney) will be gratified when he hears of the many encomiums passed by this chamber regarding his work in negotiating the trade agreement between the Commonwealth and the Government of the Dominion of Canada. I join with other honorable senators in congratulating the Minister upon his fine work. I cannot agree with Senator Lynch that fiscal policies should be based upon the standards of living operating in the countries concerned. A government in framing a tariff policy has to consider all competitors and to practically disregard any particular section. If this Government were to frame a tariff schedule just and equitable to Canada it would also have to be satisfied that Canada was framing a tariff policy just and equitable to the Commonwealth. I agree with the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) that it appears that at last Canada is awakening to the possibilities of closer unity between the dominions. This is a matter of keen satisfaction to any one who has the interests of Australia at heart, because it is only by developing close interdominion relationships that we shall have an opportunity to develop our resources, increase our absorptive capacity and by so doing solve our unemployment problem. I join with other honorable senators in expressing the hope that this is only the first step, and that it will lead to closer union between the dominions, which I feel confident will result in every British dominion reaping national and material benefit. I support the second reading of the bill.
.- In discussing a measure of this importance, one hardly likes to strike a discordant note. Every one realizes how essential it is to encourage trade within the Empire as far as possible; but in doing so we have to avoid imposing a lasting injury upon some of our primary industries. Division 10 of the schedule to this bill, which corresponds with division 10 of our tariff schedule, relates to wood, wicker, and cane. The duties in this division have been transferred from the general to the intermediate tariff, and, as Senator Lynch stated, the timber duties are to be reduced by approximately 2s. per 100 feet on most classes of timber mentioned in the schedule. The wretched condition of the timber industry in Australia to-day has been brought about, not because it cannot meet our own requirements, but in consequence of the enormous costs involved in shipping and marketing this product. Year after year the Federal Parliament has been giving the timber industry more tariff protection to enable it to overcome the awful handicap placed upon it by federal legislation. For instance, it costs at least 70 per cent, more to transport hardwoods of various kinds, which are produced in Tasmania in large quantities, across Bass
Straits to Victoria than it does to ship them from Scandinavian countries to Australia, a distance of many thousands of miles. That is entirely due to our arbitration legislation, and the extraordinary conditions imposed under the coastal clauses of the Navigation Act. Those conditions make trade between the States practically impossible. Notwithstanding the high duties imposed the timber millers in Australia find it impossible to obtain a fair share of the Australian trade. Possibly Canada will obtain more benefits from the preferential arrangements made in connexion with tinned fish and chassis than from any other. I do not wish to throw a spanner into the wheels of inter-dominion trade, which should run as smoothly as possible; but we must carefully consider the result, of the adoption of this agreement. We have to get down to bedrock, and eliminate many of those forces which at present are retarding the trade to which we are justly entitled. As the timber industry has been affected perhaps greater than any other by the legislation to which I have referred, we should not further increase the burdens of those engaged in that industry, which is already operating under adverse conditions, not only in Tasmania, but also in other timberproducing States. No other primary industry in Australia has been so depleted of its workmen through the artificial conditions imposed by Arbitration Court awards and the Navigation Act than the timber industry. The Navigation Act has been responsible for forcing up the freights and increasing the cost of handling timber at the port of shipment and the port of discharge. Fortunately, the industry is still alive ; but it is earnestly to be hoped that nothing will be done under this measure to make it more difficult for it to carry on than it has been during the last few years.
– I join with other honorable senators who have given their benediction to this measure. I associate myself with the congratulations that have been tendered to the Minister for Markets and Transport (Mr. Parker Moloney) and those departmental officers who assisted in. carrying these negotiations to a successful issue. There is no need to traverse the ground covered by the Assistant Minister (Senator Dooley) and other speakers; but I am glad to see that South Australia, which may rightly be termed the Cinderella State, is likely to derive some benefit from the preferences given under this measure. I refer more particularly to the advantages which will accrue to the great viticultural industry which has been hampered by the imposts made by the Commonwealth Parliament from time to time to obtain additional revenue, although a portion of that revenue has been returned in the form of bounties. Imposts in this and other directions have reduced the local market to a greater extent than the compensation granted. The agreement embodied in this measure will assist the wine export trade of South Australia, and enable some of the huge surplus which at present cannot be disposed of to be profitably marketed. I resent the sly attempt on the part of some honorable senators, who profess to believe in the policy embodied in this agreement, to sabotage those principles which we on this side of the chamber support. Senator Payne, in speaking of the alleged woes of Tasmania, referred to the alleged effect of Commonwealth legislation upon the Tasmanian timber industry. He would have us believe that one of the effects of this measure will be to impose a further burden on that industry.
– On the Australian timber industry.
– The honorable senator cannot mention one case in which Commonwealth legislation has had a detrimental effect upon the timber industry of Australia. I know more concerning this subject than does the honorable senator who talks so glibly about it. The effect of Commonwealth legislation upon Tasmanian trade has been inquired into from time to time. The honorable senator, who accuses us of dealing with production and distribution in an artificial way, said that we have to get back to economic principles. Under this bill we are not promulgating true economic principles. It provides for the giving of a certain amount of protection to Canadian industries, while Canada in return proposes to afford Australia a similar measure of protection. I resent the attempt that is always made when this and similar measures come before the Senate,, to sabotage the policy for which we on this side stand. Not one authentic case can be produced by those who speak in general terms, in substantiation of the statements that they make. It is idle to talk, about this being uneconomic and that being economic. If the relative actions associated with the measure that is now before us were traced, it would be found that at least 90 per cent, and possibly the full 100 per cent, are not based on true economic principles. If we were to follow the true economic principles that are advocated by honorable senators opposite when it suits their argument to do so, we would not sign this treaty giving Canada the measure of protection provided, because the goods that we shall purchase under this preferential arrangement can be bought more cheaply from countries that employ black labour, or in which the standard of living is lower than in Canada. We do not do such things, but on the contrary, act in conformity with the advice that has been tendered by Senator Elliott. That advice is that the different dominions of the British Empire should be kind to each other, that they should help and protect each other against the economic invasion of low-wage countries. Fortunately, Australia has been able to obtain that protection in this reciprocal treaty with Canada.
For the reasons that I have stated, I have very much pleasure in supporting the second reading of the bill.
.- I am pleased that the Government has adopted what I regard as the soundest principle of fiscalism; that is, to make trade treaties with different countries, instead of setting up a tariff barrier, irrespective of what the commodity might be, or of what country might be affected by it.
During the visit that I paid overseas last year, the fact that impressed me most Was that many countries that have found it desirable to build up their own industries are adopting the policy of entering into arrangements of a mutually satisfactory nature with other countries, rather than setting up a tariff against allcomers. The policy that has been adopted in Australia within recent years is well known. Under it, an individual or a corporation approaches the Government and says, “ We are satisfied that if you will only give us sufficient protection, we shall be able to supply local requirements.” Frequently it has been demonstrated after the protection has been afforded that such concerns have failed to fulfil the requirements of the local market, and the protection has had to be withdrawn because of its uneconomic effect. In this treaty, however, we have definitely come down to bedrock with a sister dominion that showed a readiness to take certain of our commodities if we in return would take some of hers. That is the basis upon which the fiscal policy of any country should be built up.
– Did not a change of government in Canada have something to do with the making of this treaty?
– Quite a lot. One of the prime factors was the desire of the Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Bennett, to give effect to a policy of empire preference. It is generally recognized that no man at the Imperial Conference held in London last year advocated more strongly than he did the system of preferential trade between the different parts of the British Empire. I have no wish to belittle in. the slightest degree the credit that is due to the Minister for Markets (Mr. Parker Moloney), or the officers of the Trade and Customs Department who were concerned in the making of this treaty; but it was made because the two nations desired to build up their trade. The Canadian Government has not signed the treaty merely because it confers some benefit upon Australia; nor has Australia acted in that spirit. Each of the parties recognized that this treaty provided a means of disposing of some of their surplus products.
I wish to refer to a question that has been raised by Senator Payne in connexion with the timber industry. I am pleased that provision has been made for the entry into Canada of some of our high-class furniture timbers, such as are produced almost exclusively in Queensland. 1 refer to walnut, maple, silky oak, and to a limited extent, cedar. One of our difficulties in- the past has been that we have very largely applied our timbers to wrong purposes, having used hardwood where softwoods were necessary, and vice versa. Australia is not a big softwoodproducing country, and we might as well face that fact. The timber that is indigenous to Australia is principally hardwood. It is useful for many purposes, and can be exported to other parts of the world. Had it not been for the importation of huge quantities of softwoods within recent years, there would have been a timber famine in Australia. Quite a considerable quantity of pine still remains in Queensland, but apart from that, there is little or no softwood in this country.
We should be far better off if, instead of grumbling at the importation of softwoods, we refrained from cutting down the few trees that are left, and went in more largely for reafforestation. The statistics prove that, with the exception of Great Britain, our area of forest land is less than that of any other country in the world. We have large quantities of ornamental timbers and hardwood. I am of the opinion that there is a tremendous market overseas for our hardwood timbers. An export trade in walnut timber from North Queensland was built up at one time. Prior to the last two or three years, the beauty and usefulness of walnut were practically unknown in the world ; but when the Americans went in very largely for ornamental cabinets for wireless sets, pianos, and player-pianos, shiploads ofwalnut were sent overseas from North Queensland, until the market became more or less over-supplied.
Last year, while in London, my attention was directed to the fact that the requirements of railway sleepers of one of the great railway systems in England, total something like 1,250,000 .per annum. At our present cost of production and with freights so high, we cannot put our sleepers on the overseas market at as low a cost as foreign countries ; but there is a comparatively small margin between the price -at which we can supply sleepers and that which the London and North-Eastern, and the Southern Railway companies are paying at the present time. We have unlimited quantities of hardwoods which are eminently suitable for sleepers.Thousands of our. men are unemployed, and large sums of money are expended annually in the payment of doles and the provision of rations. It would be a far sounder proposition were we to subsidize the export of sleepers, and, if instead of paying a dole, we engaged some of our unemployed at sleepercutting. That would enable us to secure contracts that are now available. A similar position exists in connexion with telegraph poles.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Plain). - The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the bill.
SenatorFOLL. - I am glad that the Government has adopted the practice of seeking trade treaties with other countries. From the point of view of Empire unity it is encouraging to find the first treaty being entered into by two of the dominions of the British Empire. “We were all hopeful last year that the great conference which was held in London would be of some practical value to the whole of the Empire; but we know that to all intents and purposes the Empire would have been better off to the extent of the amount that would have been saved had that conference never been held. The gun was loaded before the conference met, and the attitude adopted by the British Government prevented satisfactory progress from being made. As I said a few days ago in this Senate, I hope that the Government - which, apparently, is flushed with what it regards as a victory in the signing of this treaty - will put forward still greater efforts in the direction of securing other trade treaties not only with dominions of the British Empire, but also with countries which are outside that Empire. I trust that this is only one step in the direction of reciprocal trade treaties with countries that are disposed to come to an arrangement that would be of mutual advantage, whether it be a European country or an American republic. We are all hopeful that the general principle will be preserved of trade flowing between the component parts of the British Empire; but as the Government of Great Britain apparently is not prepared to Come to a reciprocal trade arrangement with Australia, we should enter into treaties similar to this with any country whose products we can take, and at the same time benefit our own primary industries.
– Dear food means lower wages to the people of the Old Country.
– One of the great obstacles to having reciprocal trade between Great Britain and Australia is the standard of living in Great Britain, but when we talk about having a high standard of living in Australia we have also to remember that we have between 300,000 and 400,000 persons who, being unemployed, have no standard of living. In some countries where the standard of living is lower than the alleged standard we have in Australia, it is actually a high standard because the purchasing power of the wages paid in that country is very much greater than that of the wages earned in Australia. That is, however, a line of argument which I am not permitted to pursue on this bill. I trust that the arrangement with Canada will come up to the expectations of those who have entered into it; I trust also that it is merely the forerunner of other similar arrangements between Australia and other countries with a view to building up the industries of this country.
SenatorDOOLEY (New South WalesAssistant Minister) [5.8]. - The only honorable senator who has voiced any opposition to this bill is a Tasmanian senator who fears the possibilities of damage being done to the Australian timber industry. His fears, however, are groundless, because Canadian timber will pay rates which are higher than those imposed under the 1928-29 tariff. The present rate on timber has yet to be ratified by Parliament, but, under the arrangement with Canada, timber from the dominions will pay the rates of duty in the intermediate tariff in force on the date the goods are entered for home consumption. If Parliament reduces the intermediate tariff on timber, the reduced rate will apply to Canada. We have agreed to give Canada a preference of only 2s. per 100 super, feet, and so long as that margin is maintained the agreement is being observed. Under clause 9 of the bill provision is made to safeguard any Australian product likely to be injuriously affected by the arrangement with Canada.
– That applies both ways. The Canadian Government can take similar action.
– Exactly; there is, therefore, no need for anxiety on the part of the honorable senator for Tasmania.
– How is it that wool has been overlooked in the schedule?
– Canada buys most of its wool in the London market.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
The rates of duties imposed by this act shall be charged, collected and paid to the King for the purpose of the Commonwealth on all goods subject to those rates which are imported into Australia after the time and date fixed by proclamation, or which, having been imported into Australia before that time, are not entered for home consumption until after that time.
Request (by Senator Dooley) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the clause by inserting after the word “ proclamation “ the words “ under the last preceding section “.
The Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation, or proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government;
The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.
I doubt if clause 5 imposes any taxation or burden upon the people.
– This being a customs tariff measure which imposes taxation, amendments moved in the Senate must be submitted in the form of requests to the House of Representatives. No one provision of such a bill may be separated from the other provisions.
Request agreed to.
Clause agreed to subject to a request.
Clauses 6 to 9 agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with a request; report adopted.
Additions,. New Works, Buildings, Eto
Debate resumed from the 10th July (vide page 3749), on motion by Senator Dooley -
That the papers be printed.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [5.22]. - The motion for the printing of these papers gives honorable senators an opportunity to discuss matters affecting administration as well as the financial policy of the Government, and I take advantage of it to compare the figures contained in it with those in the previous budget, and to make some comments on the policy of this Government. Honorable senators will recall that when the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) introduced his first budget in 1929 he intimated that it had been inherited from the previous Government, but was submitted with certain notable alterations to which I shall allude. Ever since this Government assumed office, Ministers and their supporters have declared that the previous Administration, besides being extravagant, made no provision for the financial storm that was threatening Australia when it was defeated at the polls. If honorable senators will turn to page 111 of Hansard for that year they will find the Treasurer pointing out that the Bruce-Page Government had proposed to save approximately £140,000 in extraneous payments to the Public Service. That item, he informed honorable members of another place, had been cut out by this Government because it was determined not to economize at the expense of the Public Service. The Treasurer also remarked that the Bruce-Page Administration had contemplated saving £60,000 in connexion with maternity allowances. That also, he said, was cut out by this Government. The honorable gentleman then went on to criticize his predecessor in office (Dr. Earle Page) because his estimates of revenue were not realized by approximately £1,000,000. In this connexion it is fitting that I should remind the Senate that while the present Treasurer budgeted for a deficit of £7,000,000, the actual deficit was £10,750,000. This did not include £4,000,000 paid on behalf of the State of New South “Wales, which, of course, could not have been foreseen. But apart from that, the Treasurer was out in his estimates to the extent of £3,750,000.
This Government and its supporters indulged in much criticism of the previous Administration because it proposed to effect, in 1929, savings amounting to £140,000, increasing in the following year to £300,000, in extraneous payments to public servants. Although the Treasurer stoutly declared that this Government would not stand for that, it is now proposing to cut the Public Service to the extent of over £1,000,000, and as for the maternity allowance it intends to economize to the extent of £250,000 as compared with the contemplated saving by the Bruce-Page Government of £60,000. Another point to which I direct attention is the imposition, by this Government, of additional primage duties, and an increase in the sales tax. Of course, I recognize that if the budget is to be balanced an increase of taxation is inevitable, but this should only be resorted to after all economies in administration have been made. It is unfortunate that these taxation proposals will increase the cost of commodities to Australian consumers, and, to that extent, will still further intensify our troubles. If Australia is to get out of her present difficulties the cost of manufactured goods must come .down, but these taxes, I regret to say, will mean an increase in all costs.
The index figures relating to prices of farm products, as compared with prices of finished products, prepared by the Commonwealth Statistician, throw some light upon this aspect of our problem. If we take farm products and manufactured goods at the index number of 100 in 1911, we find that in the quinquennial period from 1925 to 1929 the figures for these two classes of commodities ran almost neck and neck. The index numbers are as follow: -
These show only slight variations until 1930, when the figure for farm products fell to 141, while that for finished products increased to 184. The latest figures for April of this year show that the index number for farm products had fallen to 119, while that for manufactured goods had actually increased to 193.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.They indicate that our primary producers, have to pay more for manufactured goods, in Australia. Consequently, their own. costs of production are increased to that extent.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Yes, I do. We know that the prices of some manufactured goods have fallen, but if the figures of the Statistician are correct, the prices of some of our manufactured goods have increased enormously. Why should our index figures for manufactured products increase from 174 in 1925, 1926 and 1927, to 193 in April of this year, when in every other part of the world there has been a tremendous fall in the price of all manufactured goods?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.I shall tell the Minister in good time. I wish first to deal with the evil as I see it, and will then suggest a remedy. In Great Britain, in the United States of America, and in practically every other country, a decline in the index figures for primary products has been accompanied by a fall in the index figures relating to manufactured goods; but, in _ Australia, which depends for its prosperity upon the profitable sale of its products overseas, there has been a catastrophic fall in prices of all farm products, and an increase in prices of manufactured goods.
I come now to remedies. That startling inequality in the relative prices of our primary and manufactured products would not have occurred if our secondary industries had not the shelter of a high tariff wall, which has been raised to an almost prohibitive height during the last eighteen months. “But for this high tariff the competition of manufacturers in other countries, where the prices of manufactured goods have fallen, would compel our manufacturers to follow the downward trend. It is significant that in those two years in which the tariff was raised, and in some cases prohibitions imposed, we had that remarkable increase in the price of manufactured goods. To-day the primary producer has to part with £1 12s. to purchase as much as £1 would have bought in 1911, or during the five years from 1925 to 1929 inclusive, when the two sets of figures showed little variation.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Wages were not decreased until about six months ago. I am, however, not talking about the rate of wages, but of the prohibitive tariff wall which, while conferring no benefit on the primary producers, has increased the price of all the goods they require, and prevented them from sharing in the benefits of the world-wide fall in the price of manufactured goods. To expect them to produce successfully under such conditions is to expect the impossible.
I desire to say a few words on the Government’s proposal regarding the inauguration of a five-day week in the Commonwealth Public Service. At a time like this the country cannot afford such a luxury. A five-day week will not make for efficiency, nor can it be urged that it is a good thing to have some Commonwealth public -servants working five days a week, and others five and a-half days a week. Moreover, the alteration must cause some inconvenience to the general public.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.I would not. I ask only a fair thing. No one can say that these employees were worked too hard or too long before.
– They still work the same number of hours each week.
– I am aware of that ; but they do it in. five days instead of five and a half. It is easy to foresee what will happen. Here we have two sets of conditions in the Public Service - some men working five and a half days and others working only five days a week. It would be unthinkable to go back to the “ horrible barbarism” of the past by asking those who now work five days a week, to work five and a half days; that would be too horrible even to contemplate ! The Government will, therefore, probably be asked to remedy this “ horrible injustice “ by providing that those who work five and a half days a week shall work shorter hours each day in order that all shall work the same number of hours each week. Then we shall have the anomaly of officers in the same department coming and going at different hours, and there will be an agitation for uniform hours. As it would be unthinkable to ask a man who is working, say, seven hours a day, to work eight hours a day, the proposal will be made that all should work only seven hours a day - for five days a week ! That is the way of advancement and reform; by such means we get nearer to the millennium ! I suggest that this country, which is unable to meet its obligations, and is carrying on by means of overdrafts obtained from the banks, cannot afford luxuries of that kind. Nor can it afford to create anomalies in the Service, which will inevitably give rise to a demand for shorter hours on the part of those who are called upon to work five and a half days a week, in order to place all on an equal footing. I suggest that it is this kind of thing, not only in government employ, but elsewhere, that is largely responsible for our present unsatisfactory position.
In the interests of economy, I object to the proposal that Australia shall be represented by a Minister at the forthcoming Disarmament Conference.- I know that I may be charged with inconsistency in. this connexion, because I had the honour to represent Australia at the Disarmament Conference held at Washington in 1922. At that time, however, there were sound reasons why this country should participate in the conference. We then had something to give up; but to-day we are in a position unlike that of any other civilized country. Why should Australia be represented at the Disarmament Conference ?
– To tell the rest of the world that we have practised what we preached.
– Is it necessary to send a Minister and his staff to tell other countries that we have already disarmed? Could not the High Commissioner attend the conference, and in a speech lasting not more than two minutes tell them what Australia has done. It would be sufficient for him to say, “ Gentlemen, we in Australia have practically no navy, army, or air force. We invite you to do the same. When you have done so, Australia will be glad to sign the treaty”. Now Australia has nothing with which to bargain. In this connexion I would rather trust the destiny of Australia to the British Labour Government than to the Australian Government. The British Labour Prime Minister, himself a pacifist, the Secretary of State for War, and the First Lord of the Admiralty, when dealing with the last British Estimates, said that Britain had so far disarmed that they would not sanction a single further reduction until other countries had done something definite in the same direction. They produced figures to show that whereas Britain had been disarming, the other major countries of the world had been increasing their expenditure on armaments.
– Senator Foll made a very sensible speech on this question.
– I am totally opposed to Senator Foil’s proposal that we should loaf on the Mother Country, and give up the last vestige of our navy. The people of Australia still have some pride in the Australian Navy, or what is left of it. I hope that they will never forget the service that the Australian Navy rendered to the Empire at the outbreak of war. Had it not been for that navy, Aus tralia would have known what a bombardment meant. It was the presence in Australian waters of the battle cruiser Australia that prevented a bombardment. The experience of other portions of the Empire is sufficient to show that, had we been dependent on the British Navy at that time, there would have been no battle cruiser in Australian waters. New Zealand, South Africa, and Canada, which rely for their naval defence on Britain, were not provided with battle cruisers.
– Were those countries bombarded?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE It was the battle cruiser Australia which kept the German . fleet from attacking New Zealand as well as Australia. For protection against attack by cruisers or submarines; Canada relied on the Australian cruisers, which patrolled her coasts for over two years. On this question the British Government could well represent Australian opinion. I believe that the people of Australia are opposed to any further disarmament on the part of the British Empire until those other countries which talk so much about disarmament do something practical in that direction. The British Labour Ministers have made their position clear in that connexion. As I have said, I would rather trust them to express the real opinion of the people of . Australia than any member of the Australian Government, which, apparently, is bent on destroying our defence force.
I asked this afternoon whether it was intended to give the Senate an opportunity to discuss the Statute of Westminster, and I hoped to receive a reply from the Minister before this. It is an insult to this chamber that that resolution was not tabled here when it was tabled in another place. There was no need for the motion submitted in another place to be disposed of there before coming before this chamber, because it does not ask for the concurrence of the Senate in the resolution. On the 17 th July ‘the Attorney-General (Mr. Brennan), in the House of Representatives, moved a motion which had for its purpose the ratification of the report of the conference on the operation of dominion acts. For the information of the Senate, I shall read the motion moved by the Attorney-General -
Whereas the Imperial Conference held at London in the year 1930 by resolution approved the report of the Conference on the Operation of Dominion Legislation (which is to be regarded as forming part of the report of the said Imperial Conference) subject to the conclusions hereinafter recited:
And whereas the said Imperial Conference by resolution recommended -
Now therefore this House resolves that the Government of the Commonwealth be authorized to request and consent to the submission by the Government of the United Kingdom to the Parliament at Westminster of a bill for a statute containing the provisions set out in the following schedule, and the enactment of the said statute: -
I direct attention particularly to the words, “resolutions passed by both Houses of the Dominion Parliaments “. It is an insult to the Senate not to ask it to deal with this resolution at the same time as it is being considered in another place. It is, as the resolution of the Imperial Conference sets out, an arrangement to be agreed to by both Houses of the Parliament. Yet, when I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Barnes) to-day whether the Government proposed to ask the Senate to assent to a similar resolution, he, though presumably in Cabinet when this matter was discussed, said that he did not know whether the Senate was to be asked to agree to it. It shows a laxity on the part of the Minister in looking after the rights of this chamber, when he, as Leader of the Government in this chamber, does not know whether the Senate is to be asked to agree to the resolution. I have read the speeches delivered en this subject in another place, and there is no reference in that of the Minister who introduced it, or in those of honorable members supporting the Government to the Senate being asked to agree to the resolution. This is not a matter in which the House of Representatives is entitled to speak for the Commonwealth, but one which the Commonwealth Parliament must consider. I remind the Minister of a fact which he seems to forget. The Commonwealth Parliament consists of two chambers - the Senate and the House of Representatives - and that a resolution passed by the House of Representatives is not an expression of the opinion of this Parliament. In matters of this kind there is no reason why this chamber should not be asked to express its opinion simultaneously with that of another place. I trust that this aspect will not be lost sight of by Ministers. If the Senate - if I know it all - is not asked by the Government to express an opinion, it will, irrespective of the Government, express such an opinion upon its own motion. It is the duty of the Government to bring the resolution before the Senate. If the Government has not already determined to do so I trust that it will decide to introduce it at once and not wait until it has been disposed of in another place. There is no need to do that. This chamber is not inferior to another place. It is equal in every respect and should be treated as such. A resolution of this nature should be introduced simultaneously in both branches of the legislature.
– I agree with the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) that a matter of such vital importance to the Commonwealth as a motion relating to the Statute ofWestminster should be simultaneously introduced in both chambers. I feel sure that there is no need for the right honorable gentleman to put the whip on the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Barnes). His attention having been drawn to the fact, the mistake will be rectified and the resolution submitted to the Senate. Having regard to the multifarious duties to be performed by ‘the Prime Minister, and the very anxious moments spent by Cabinet in dealing with momentous questions affecting the welfare of the community, one can understand that actions which otherwise might be regarded as a slight on this chamber are unconsciously inflicted on it. I disagree with the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition regarding his comment on the Government’s attitude towards the Senate. I do not think that any government could have shown more consideration to any chamber than this Government has shown to the Senate.
– That was not the ase in connexion with the select committee on the Central Reserve Rank Rill.
– The original error was committed in this chamber. The Senate asked the Government to accept
Si committee to deal with an important part of its financial proposals upon which the Government’s nominees were in the minority.
– Why not? This chamber can speak as it likes.
– Exactly. This chamber, as at present constituted, is entitled to do what it likes, the Government notwithstanding. But this chamber should not complain because the Government refused to accept a select committee appointed upon principles hitherto unknown.
– Principles hitherto unknown ?
– Principles hitherto unknown in the parliamentary history of the Commonwealth. In the case mentioned the upper chamber attempted to dictate to the Government by foisting upon it the policy of the Opposition majority.
– It was done in 1913 and 1914 - during the war.
– I challenge the honorable senator to name one instance where such an important matter upon which the political parties of the Commonwealth were very much divided-
– In the case I have in mind the Government had one representative to four.
– On this occasion there was a wide diversity of opinion with respect to the principles of central reserve banking, on which the select committee was appointed to bring in a report, and the Government, in its wisdom, felt that the committee was so constituted that it was not one which it could support.
– The Government made a mistake.
– It behaved like a lot of kids.
– It did not do anything of the kind. If any childish trick was played it was by honorable senators opposite and not by the Government. I am answering the charge of the Leader of the Opposition, who said that the Government had meted out a studied insult to the Senate, and that it is not the first instance in which this had been done. In the case mentioned by Senator Sampson, the Government was perfectly justified in adopting the attitude it did.
– The only grievance I have is as to whether the resolution is to come to the Senate at all.
– My opinion is that the Government should simultaneously with the presentation of any paper in another place table that paper in this chamber and thus give honorable senators the same rights as are enjoyed by honorable members of another place.
– Or indicate that it is its intention to do so. Of course, there is the difficulty that the motion may be amended, and consequently we have to wait until it has passed another place.
– Yes. The attention of the Leader of the Government having been drawn to the matter, the mistake, if a mistake has been made, will be rectified.
I now wish to deal briefly with the points raised by the Leader of the Opposition concerning a five-day working week in the Public Service. This Government must be performing very good work indeed, if, in discussing the budget, the Leader of the Opposition can make no other charges than those which he levelled against the Government to-day. It must be known to the right honorable gentleman that under the new arrangement, the public servants are working the same number of hours as previously.
– Is the public being inconvenienced ?
– In Canberra, for instance, where the great bulk of the public servants are employed, it would be easier to count the lamp-posts than to find a member of the general public in the public offices on a Saturday morning.
– I hope the honorable senator is not associating politicians with lamp-posts.
– Politicians usually have sufficient good sense to leave Canberra on Friday night. The number of the public requiring attention at public offices on a Saturday morning is negligible. It is so small that I doubt whether it would pay to incur the cost of cleaning the offices for an extra day. The Government should save money over the new arrangement.
– Are the wages of office cleaners being reduced?
– No. But the brooms, scrubbing brushes, and general equipment of cleaners will be used on five days instead of six and an extra 52 days’ use in a year would not add to the life of such equipment. I do not think there is anything in the point raised concerning inconvenience to the public. I understand that the Government has not introduced a universal five-day week; the officers of the Taxation Department are working six days.
– Why penalize officers of one department?
– They are not penalized. Certain representations were made to the Government and the actual position is that it is left to the discretion of Ministers to grant a five-day week provided there is no loss in efficiency, and no additional expenditure, or inconvenience to the public. These three conditions must be satisfied before a five-day working week is brought into operation in any department.
– What of the Customs Department and the Postal Department ?
– A five-day week is worked wherever possible, but on the understanding that efficiency is not impaired, expenditure increased, or the general public inconvenienced. The Leader of the Opposition cannot by any stretch of imagination regard the new arrangement as a luxury, or a heavy burden upon the community.
I shall now deal with the tariff. The Government welcomes honest and candid criticism, but I ask the Leader of the Opposition where we should have obtained the money to pay for imports even if the tariff wall had not been raised?
– There would not have been any imports.
– If there were no importations the Australian manufacturers would have had a monopoly and could have charged the prices they are now charging. The present tariff was necessary to enable the Government to deal scientifically with a problem that otherwise could not have been scientifically handled. I agree with the honorable senator that, in the main, the exchange position would have prevented imports into this country; but had it prevented the importation from America of agricultural machinery, in what way would the farmer have benefited more than he is benefiting to-day?
– The competition would be present all the time.
– I fail to see how the honorable senator can show that the increase in the tariff wall was as great a hindrance as the 33 per cent, increase in the exchange rates is to-day.
– You placed an embargo on the importation of agricultural machinery.
– Of course we did! The exports of our wool, our wheat, and our other products have declined enormously in value. We had to establish overseas credits that would enable us to pay for the goods that it was absolutely necessary we should buy. This policy was formulated by the Government after it had given the fullest consideration to every aspect of the question.
In the course of another debate, reference was made to France. Certainly France purchased a small portion of Australia’s wheat to blend with its own grain; but she paid for it by sending to this country olive oil to the value of £45,000 annually, although South Australia makes the best olive oil in the world.
– It does not make sufficient for our requirements.
– It can make sufficient. Then, again, Australia imported almonds to the value of £160,000 a year, although from Gawler down to Reynella in South Australia there is soil the equal of any that is to be found on the choicest plains of Spain, where the almonds which came to this country were grown. When the value of our wheat and wool fell so greatly that we could not afford to pay for those almonds, and that olive oil, we had to increase the tariff and impose an embargo on certain imports. I know of no other action that could have been taken. The right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) has not been able to point to one item that has led to any dislocation of trade or has added to the burdens of the Australian people.
– I shall refer to a few items later.
– The honorable senator would impose the burden of a bounty on evaporated apples, but would not give similar protection to any other Australian industry.
– The tariff has brought about unemployment.
– Many reasons have been advanced for the present unemployment position. It is refreshing to hear now that the tariff has been responsible.
– The economists have said so all along.
– They have said nothing of the sort. What is the percentage of unemployment in freetrade England to-day?
-What about protectionist America?
– Whether it be in protectionist America of freetrade England, if similar conditions apply that operate in Australia the amount of unemployment must be as great. The tariff policy of this Government has not contributed in the slightest degree to the unemployment position. On the other hand, I venture to affirm that it has done more than any other policy which could have been enunciated to prevent additional unemployment. I am particularly proud of the fact that in my capital city - Adelaide - 160 persons are now employed, and a further 50 are to be engaged, in the manufacture of ladies’ handbags, which previously came from Germany and other parts of the world at a cost of £5 and £6 apiece. This manufacturer, who probably is known to Senator McLachlan, is able to turn out crocodile handbags at a cost to retail houses of £2 12s. each, the price paid by those houses prior to the imposition of the tariff having been £4 each. That is only one instance of the beneficial effect of the tariff. Within the next two years there will be under cultivation in South Australia 3,000 acres of almonds. We shall not be faced with the problem of finding a country to which we may export our almonds, but shall, simply supply our domestic requirements-
– The Government cannot compliment itself on its handling of that item of the tariff.
– There is no question of the Government complimenting itself. At the request of the almond-growers, it took a certain stand which has resulted in a move having been made that will directly increase the absorptive capacity of South Australia to the extent of many hundreds of persons; and some of the money that is now being paid for the commodities that are imported in exchange for our wool and wheat will be circulated in our own country.
I come now to the question of thematernity allowance and the old-age pension. It has been alleged that the members of the present Government rebelled against the suggestion of the BrucePageGovernment to reduce the amount spent, on those social services. Had the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce)’ desired to place before the Senate the full’, facts connected with that matter he would; have said that the policy which is now known as the financial emergency policy was arrived at at a meeting of Premiers,, which was attended by the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) and the Treasurer (Mr.. Theodore), and that it is a compromisebetween the political parties of this country with a view to righting the position, in which Australia finds herself. It isthe policy, not of the Labour party, but of all political parties. I have alreadyexpressed regret at the fact that the Labour party has ‘been obliged to desert. these particular trenches, to give up territory that it has taken years to gain. I have also expressed the hope - and I again express it - that when the position has been righted the Labour party will recover the territory that it has been forced temporarily to surrender. 1 was unable to follow the references of the Leader of the Opposition to the statistician’s figures and index numbers. It has to be recognized that, in drawing a comparison between two periods, the circumstances of each period must be taken into consideration. A comparison cannot be drawn in the way in which the right honorable senator attempted to draw it. He knows what the positionof Australia is to-day, and what it was in the years that he quoted. He is also aware that nothing can be proved merely by placing in juxtaposition the index number for that period and the index number to-day. Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– In regard to the statistics quoted by Senator Pearce, a study of the figures for England will show honorable senators that exactly the same result has been reached in that country. Farm products always slump quicker than manufactured goods. The disparity referred to by Senator Pearce is thus accounted for and cannot be attributed to the tariff.
Senator Johnston also referred to the tariff. During the dinner adjournment I have had an opportunity to peruse the figures for the year 1928-29, relating to the trade between Australia and certain other countries. I shall give first of all the figures relating to importations from the United Kingdom. They certainly disclose the real reason for Australia’s present position. For example, we produce wool and wheat and export it to Great Britain, but can any one justify the importation into Australia of meats - poultry, game, potted, concentrated, and preserved in tins? In 1928-29 Australia spent £122,000 on meats, £94,000 on confectionery and chocolates; £11,000 on edible nuts, £52,000 on pickles and sauces, and £30,000 on vinegar, all imported from the United Kingdom.
– It all provided a very handsome revenue for the Commonwealth Government.
– It may have provided a very handsome revenue for the Commonwealth Government, but at the same time it destroyed the capacity of the country to absorb a greater population. We were willing to build a North Shore bridge, a million-pound bank in Sydney, and million-pound theatres in Melbourne and Sydney, but we sent our wheat, wool, and meat overseas, and accepted in payment potted meat worth £122,000. There are excellent milk factories in Victoria and New South Wales, but in 1928-29, when the present Government took office, Australia was importing from the United Kingdom £81,000 worth of infants’ food. We were also importing from the same source cigarettes to the value of £501,000. Where was the need for it? The exchange position could not have righted that extravagance, and the present Government realized that the people must be brought up with a round turn by means of tariff embargoes and restrictions. Those who are urging on the Government the need for economy could not possibly justify Australia’s payment of £153,000 to Great Britain for blouses, skirts, and costumes, £212,000 for boots and shoes, or £322,000 for hats and caps.
– Cannot people spend their money where they like ?
– I admit that they can, but as Senator Lynch pointed out. this afternoon a great deal of our present trouble is attributable to the fact that we have enjoyed too much liberty. We have had the freedom to spend our money outside Australia, and the primary producer has been obliged to produce wool and wheat in order to establish credits for us overseas. In the year I am mentioning we also imported socks and stockings valued at £526,000.
– Is it a crime to buy a pair of English stockings?
– No, but it is a matter of keen regret that when we can produce an article in Australia unparalleled anywhere else in the world, we must still go overseas to buy English stockings. I am not concerned whether the country can or cannot afford to buy these goods overseas, but I am now replying to Senator Johnston’s contention that the tariff policy of this Government has been responsible for accentuating the unemployment problem in Australia.
At Onkaparinga, in South Australia, there is one of the finest woollen factories in the world. Yet in 1928-29 we sent to Great Britain £50,000 for blankets and rugs. “We also sent £406,000 for towels and towelling, £437,000 for fancy goods, £146,000 for perfumery, and £108,000 for furniture - Jacobean furniture. Senator Pearce has twitted the Government for having taken steps to protect Australian industries and bring about the manufacture in this country of goods we need here. I contend that, if we can manufacture these goods here, we should increase the capacity of our country to absorb population.
I come now to the figures relating to our trade with France in 1928-29. While £2,000,000 was spent on repatriating Australian soldiers on fruit areas, we were importing £14,500 worth of preserved fruits and vegetables from France, and £13,750 .worth of nuts. In South . Australia a magnificent brandy is produced, yet in that year we went to France for £114,000 worth of brandy. We give a bounty on the export of wine - at one time it was in the neighbourhood of 4s. per gallon - to enable our wine-growers to export their surplus wine. We contended that we could not only supply the home market, but also export our surplus, and we taxed the Australian consumer of wine to provide a bounty on the export of wine. But, while we were doing so, we were importing wines from France to the value of £63,000. In the same connexion, while we were paying 4d. a lb. for the right to eat butter in Australia, we were importing butter valued at £414,000. To meet the tender vagaries of certain sections of the community, £171,000 had to be sent to France for blouses, skirts, &c, £13,000 for boots and shoes, and £48,000 for hats and caps. While this country grew the wool, we had to send to France for -flannels and other woollens valued at £121,000. South Australia produces an olive oil which will stand comparison with olive oil produced anywhere else in the world, yet we had to send to France for £45,000 worth of olive oil.
– What is wrong with Australian olive oil ?
– There is nothing wrong with it, but we had developed a psychology in this country that it was easier to buy than to produce. In 1928-29 we imported from France bags and purses worth £23,000. But I come now to the most ridiculous item of the lot. In 1928-29 France bought from Australia butter to the value of £10,960 and wheat to the value of £480,000, and what did we get from France in return? We bought cigar-holders worth £25,000. No wonder the investor of Great Britain lost confidence in Australia when he saw that its people had become too lazy to produce any of these commodities.
I come now to the figures dealing with the trade between Australia and the United States of America for the year 1928-29. In that year we imported fish to the value of £249,000, and preserved meat to the value of £21,000. Although
Ave have the cattle in Australia and send the carcasses overseas, they come back to us in tins. We have spent millions of pounds on the repatriation of soldiers on fruit areas, yet we imported from America preserved fruits valued at £159,000, and prunes and raisins valued at £23,000.
– At one time we imported from the United States of America £69,000 worth of grape fruit.
– That was the position when this Government assumed office, and realizing how serious was the drift in trade, it bent its energies to the task of applying the remedy. In the year preceding its. accession to office, we imported from the United States of America, nuts to the value of £9,000, pickles and sauces £24,000, cigarettes £12,000, and boots and shoes £124,000. Then, because some of our womenfolk felt that they must have American blouses and skirts, I presume to rival those obtained from France, our imports under that head totalled £30,000. Other items were, socks and stockings £47S,000, blankets and blanketing £12,000, and perhaps what is strangest of all, American furniture, £105,000. We also imported perfumery to the value of £117,000, and as if MacRobertson’s products were not good enough, we had to payAmerica £15,000 for confectionery.
I turn now to Italy. In 1928-29 we imported from that country among other things, £37,000 worth of nuts. We sold to Italy £416,000 worth of skins and bought back £110,000 worth of treated bides and skins as well as £230,000 worth of Italian hats because, of course, our people had to have the Borsalino as well as the French and American hat. Then, as if we were unable to supply our own requirements in olive oil, we also paid Italy £17,500 for the Italian product. Is it any wonder, in the light of these facts, that investors overseas lost confidence in this country? I could continue with this list of imports relating to commodities, 90 per cent, of which could be manufactured in Australia but which, owing possibly to our business inefficiency, we are content to import from overseas.
– The figures quoted surely imply that we were in a fairly prosperous condition, otherwise we should mot have been able to import those commodities.
– We were enjoying an era of so-called prosperity, but, as the honorable senator must know, a not inconsiderable proportion of our national income was in the form of overseas borrowings for the construction of public works of convenience which, when completed, offered no further scope for employment. I am attempting to show that immediately this Government came into power it embarked upon a tariff policy the object of which was to ensure the establishment in this country of industries which would provide permanent employment. This is the problem which the Government bad to face, and I suggest that if the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) had taken the trouble to study the statistics relating to imports for 1928-29, he would not have been so emphatic in his declaration that this Government’s tariff policy was in any way responsible for the present volume of unemployment in Australia.
– Does the Minister believe that the embargo on the introduction of agricultural machinery “has been of any assistance to the primary producers ?
– I do.
– Cheap agricultural machinery is our most pressing need.
– The honorable senator misinterprets the intention of the Government’s tariff policy. Evidently he overlooks the fact that the interest charge against primary production is greater than the wage cost; furthermore, it was left to this Government to persuade the Premiers of the different States to view the problem from that angle.
– Did they do it?
– Yes. As the honorable senator must know, the State Premiers at the conference in Melbourne a month or two ago agreed to introduce legislation having for its object the reduction of interest on private mortgages as part of the general plan for the rehabilitation of the Commonwealth, and I may also inform him that it has been statistically recorded that a reduction of 1 per cent, of the interest on overdrafts would mean a saving of £4,000,000 per annum to our secondary industries. It follows, therefore, that if our secondary industries were relieved of that burden, the benefit would percolate through to our primary industries.
– Would not thai, be likely to lead to an increase in the price of land?
– Not necessarily, because land, as well as other commodities, has been inflated in value for some years.
– We do not hear so much about inflation now.
– No, nor of deflation. That is because all political parties have agreed upon a common policy and no party wishes to offend any other party by unnecessary criticism of its particular financial policy.
I agree with Senator Carroll that the administration of the Customs Department is a matter that might, with advantage, be considered by the Minister, with a view to seeing that those industries which receive benefits in the way of bounties or tariff protection are not abusing their position. But of course all these things cannot be done in a day. I have pointed to the difficulties which confronted this Government when it came into power, and I contend that it is not quite fair to allege that the present high tariff wall is responsible in any way for our present difficult financial position. Very few will deny that if this Government had not acted promptly the Commonwealth would have defaulted in its overseas obligations. The Government took the only course that was open to it, and it is prepared to take full responsibility for its action. I invite its critics to study the figures which I have quoted tonight, and then ask themselves if we were getting a fair return from those countries.
I turn now to the observations of the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) concerning certain extraneous payments which the Bruce-Page Government proposed to save at the expense of the Public Service. On that point, all I need say is that had our overseas trade position been allowed to drift as it was drifting in 1928-29 the cut that would have been necessary in the Public Service and invalid and old-age pensions would have been considerably greater than that now proposed by this Government. As matters stand the Premiers of all the States, not all of whom subscribe to the platform and policy of the Commonwealth Government, have agreed to a common plan, which will be carried out by this Government on behalf of the Commonwealth. It is therefore idle for any one to suggest that had another government been in power the sacrifices demanded of our Public Service, our pensioners and wage-earners would have been less than it is. It is, however, reasonably certain that, had another ‘government been in power, the cut would have been made months ago.
– Nonsense !
– The honorable senator has affirmed, by way of interjection time after time, that this Government is months too late in its proposals.
– So it is.
– I admire Senator Sampson for his honesty, and I admit that this Government was driven to the last trench before it consented to effect these economies at the expense of the Public Service and our invalid and old-age pensioners. Had the drift been allowed. to continue at the rate recorded during the last year of the Bruce-Page Adminis tration, we should have been compelled to default. The Government wishes to balance its budget. Its proposals have been accepted by the Premiers of the various States, and as some of the State governments are representative of the party in Opposition in this chamber, 1 suggest that the general plan is as much theirs as ours, and that all political parties must accept full responsibility for it.
.- Senator Daly has delivered an extraordinary speech. Having read a list of goods which were imported from oversea countries during 1928-29, the honorable senator stated that Australia’s present difficulties were largely due to our heavy imports. It would appear that because we have imported a few thousand gallons of olive oil from Italy, some tinned meat from the United States of America, some almonds and raisins from the same country, and some blankets and other woollen goods from England, we have brought all these troubles upon our country. He went on to say that when the present Government assumed office it reversed that policy. Now no ling fish may enter Australia from abroad, nor may England send us blankets, or California raisins or almonds ! This changed fiscal policy was introduced in order to wipe out unemployment; but, instead, unemployment has increased fourfold since the present Government took charge of the treasury bench. Senator Daly has deceived himself. He has talked so much of the wisdom of shutting out silk stockings and other goods from countries outside Australia that he now believes that the salvation of the country rests on the prohibition of the importation of such goods. He believes that by rectifying the adverse trade balance by such drastic means all our difficulties will be overcome.
– The result of the operation of the Government’s policy is that many thousands of our people cannot afford to wear hosiery at all.
– We were led to expect wonderful things should a Labour government get into power. Large numbers of the people were firmly convinced by Labour candidates at the last election that with Labour in office the coal-mines would be opened within a fortnight, and prosperity would return almost immediately. But what is the spectacle confronting us to-day? Unemployment is the unhappy lot of thousands of our people; misery and distress are seen on every hand. For the present state of affairs the experimental legislation either introduced or foreshadowed by this Government is largely to blame. Its attempt to inflate the currency of the country has made business people- and investors nervous.
I congratulate the Government on having accepted Senator Daly back into its inner counsels, for he is undoubtedly an able spokesman on behalf of the Cabinet of which he is a member. The honorable senator should not, however, deceive himself, or attempt to deceive the country by saying that the prohibition of the importation of a few pickled walnuts from America or elsewhere will overcome our difficulties. What would he say if a cabinet Minister in another country were to complain of the dumping of Australian goods into that country during 1928-29? What would he say if such a person were to complain that his country imported wool or frozen meat from Australia, and asked why such things were not produced in his own country?
– They could not produce them.
– It is a new doctrine for a Minister of the Crown to make it appear to be almost a crime for a person to engage in the business of importing goods from other countries. Those persons who imported olive oil probably added considerably to the customs revenue, as did also those who imported the other goods of which the honorable senator complains. Senator Daly should ask himself why these other countries were able to sell their goods in Australia despite the natural advantages and high protective duties enjoyed by Australian manufacturers. The honorable senator complained that blankets, rugs, flannels, and other goods made overseas from Australian wool were allowed to compete with the Australian-made article.
– I said nothing of the kind.
– The honorable senator also referred to meat in the same way.
– I did refer to ‘meat, but not to wool.
– I take it that the honorable senator’s remarks would apply equally to wool as to meat, because many of the rugs and ‘blankets which were imported contained Australian wool. Australian wool is sent 14,000 miles to be manufactured into goods. That means that expenditure is incurred in transporting the wool from the station to the wharfs, and for wharfage insurance, and other charges. Similar charges have to be met in connexion with the manufactured goods which are manufactured from the wool, and in addition, those goods have to bear a heavy duty - in some cases as much as 45 per cent. - also 30 per cent, exchange and primage duty.
– What would sugar cost if there were ito embargo on its importation ?
– I am dealing with wool at the moment. Senator Daly complained of the importation of blankets and rugs. I point out that 90 per cent, of the work connected with the manufacture of those goods is done by machines. In Australia only one girl is required to look after two looms, while in some countries one girl looks after even more machines than that.
– In Japan one girl looks after fourteen machines.
– Australia possesses some of the most up-to-date looms, carding machines and combers in any part of the world. The installation of this highclass, up-to-date machinery, should have enabled Australia at least to compete favorably with imported woollen goods. In spite of the natural protection afforded the woollen industry, and the high duties imposed, large quantities of woollen goods have entered this country from overseas. Does not that show that there is something wrong? Notwithstanding that some of the first woollen mills which were established in Australia made huge profits, the protection afforded to the industry was increased from time to time. Is it a crime to import goods from overseas? Only to-day we had before us a trade agreement with Canada.- We are to import more goods from that dominion than previously. It is rather amusing that after eighteen months of office the only claim made by Senator Daly, on behalf of the Government, is that it has shut out of Australia olive oil valued at about £80,000 and also some fish. The point we have to consider is why other countries are able to send goods to Australia which can compete successfully with the locallymade article. All that the Assistant Minister has been able to show in justification of the Government’s budget is that money has been saved by preventing the importation of olive oil, walnuts and a few other such commodities.
I should also like to refer to the Government’s action in the matter of reducing costs. It has been strongly urged by those Supporting what is now known as the Melbourne Conference Plan, that in order to regain financial stability and prosperity, production costs and governmental expenditure generally must be reduced. But what is the Government doing to assist in reducing the cost of production and of living? It has urged the banks to reduce the rates of interest all loans granted to companies and individuals, and has expressed its intention to reduce its own costs wherever possible. But instead of doing so, it has increased costs to the people in many directions. For instance, postal, telegraphic and telephone subscribers’ rates have actually been increased. While the salaries of public servants and the pensions of invalids, the aged and returned soldiers have been reduced, the primage duty and the sales tax are being increased, thus making every commodity required by those who have to subsist on a lower income actually dearer. The Government’s contribution towards the general economic rehabilitation of the Commonwealth is an increase in the costs of those who, in the circumstances I have outlined, are less able to bear them than they were some time ago.
I wish now to refer to the heavy reduction ‘being made in our defence costs, particularly with respect to naval expenditure. On a previous occasion I referred to the necessity to revert to a system in vogue at the inception of federation oi subsidizing the British Navy instead of endeavouring to maintain our own naval unit. I do not want it to be thought that I am hostile to an Australian navy, but we have to consider the actual position. At present we have three ships which spend most of their time in Sydney harbour with the exception of the time they are in Melbourne during Cup week.
– They put in many weeks of training in Tasmanian waters.
– In the summer time. They are now on a cruise in northern waters, because the conditions in the south at this time of the year are, perhaps, too rigid. When our naval expenditure is reduced to the extent it has been, an Australian navy is simply a farce. As the reduction in our military and naval expenditure during recent years makes -it impossible for those services to be efficiently conducted, it would be more economical to revert to the system of paying a subsidy to the British Navy, as by so doing we could obtain a better service than is possible under the present system. When I made that suggestion to some officers of the Royal Australian Navy a few days ago, I expected it to be received in a hostile ‘ manner. Under the present system ratings joining the Australian navy are limited in the matter of training to the Canberra, the Australia, the seaplanecarrier, Albatross, or to the one destroyer now in commission. Under this system Australian lads are debarred the right to obtain the necessary training to enable them to qualify for a naval career. If a subsidy were paid to the British Government it could be made a condition that a certain proportion of the personnel of the British Navy should be recruited from Australia every year, so that lads entering the British Navy would have an opportunity of serving on the Atlantic, Mediterranean, or China stations.
– And allow Australians to run the British Navy.
– The honorable senator is deliberately misinterpreting my remarks. In the event of war the vessels of the Australian Fleet would, under the present system, have to comply with orders from the British Admiralty and report possibly at Singapore.
– With the consent of the Australian Government.
– At present officers and ratings in the Australian Fleet feel that their positions are insecure in that they may be retrenched at any time owing to the policy of this Government to further reduce naval expenditure. The Assistant Minister (Senator Daly) is reported as having stated in Adelaide a few days ago that a prominent naval officer informed him that the Australian Navy is neither fish, fowl nor good red her ring-
– RearAdmiral Evans said that the Australian Navy is as efficient as any unit of the British Navy.
– I am not questioning its efficiency, but am merely repeating what Senator Daly said.
– What meaning does the honorable senator attach to that statement?
– I am showing that in the opinion of naval officers the Australian Navy is endeavouring to operate is an independent unit when it could render more efficient service if attached to the British Fleet.
– There are a number of British naval stations on which there are only three ships.
– That may be so; but the scope of young Australians wishing to join up with the navy is limited. There are only three ships on which they can receive their training, and their activities are confined to cruises in Australian waters.
– Australian seamen receive instruction in gunnery and torpedo schools in Great Britain.
– The amount we spend on defence can be regarded as a premium to ensure national safety. We have to determine whether the amount which the Government, has provided under its cheese-paring method is sufficient to adequately protect this country. During the last financial year heavy reductions were made in the defence vote, below the .point to which it had been reduced by the Bruce-Page Government. A further cut has now been made which will make a farce of the naval defence of Australia. The position of our navy is, as stated by the Assistant Minister (‘Senator Daly) in Adelaide.
– That statement was made and ifr is true.
– RearAdmiral Evans said that the Australian. Navy is as efficient as any branch of theBritish Navy.
– Only the other day the submarines Otway and Oxley were handed over to the Imperial authorities. I believe that the Prime Minister explained the reason for that action; probably it was on the ground of expense. Under a system such as I am advocating, it is quite likely that those two modern sea-going submarines would have been retained in Australia, and that for an equal expenditure three instead of two vessels could have been built. According to an interjection by an honorable senator who, at one time, administered the Defence Department, the adoption of such a system would result in a saving of £2,000,000 per annum. For what we are spending now, we would have twice as many vessels.
– At the expense of Great Britain.
– I do not wish my remarks to convey that impression. 1 am not asking Great Britain to “foot the bill “ for Australia’s defence. Senator Daly. - I based my figures on the premium charged to New Zealand. I believe that equally good treatment could be obtained by Australia. »
– That would be the case at British rates of pay, but not at Australian rates.
– Australian rates could not be paid on that premium. It may be argued in opposition to the scheme that the British Government do not pay their ratings as much as is paid by the Australian Government. But when a man joins the Royal Navy, he enjoys security in his position. What has been the position in Australia? The Naval College at Jervis Bay and the Military College at Duntroon have been wiped out of existence as a result of the continual reductions that have been made in the expenditure upon defence.
If there is one branch of defence in which a cheese-paring policy should find no place, it is that of aerial defence. In this branch, a tremendous amount of defence can be obtained for a fairly low premium compared with the heavy cost involved in the construction and maintenance of capital ships. I am not one of those who would say that the time has arrived when more capital ships should be scrapped; it would be impudence on my part to express such an opinion in opposition to that of qualified persons who claim that capital ships are still necessary for the defence of the nation. I am privileged to receive a weekly bulletin from the Society of British Aircraft Construction. It is interesting to read of the rapid developments that have taken place in connexion with aerial defence in other parts of the world. It is because of the rapid development of aircraft construction in overseas countries that I am anxious that nothing shall be done by way of tariff . duties to prevent the importation into Australia of the very latest machines at the lowest possible cost. There has been invented and attached to the Royal Air Force a new biplane, which is known as the Fury. The report that I have received of that machine reads -
Consider this twentieth-century weapon of defence. It is a graceful, small biplane, clean and lovely of line. The streamlined nose carries within it a supercharged engine from which power is obtained sufficient to drive the aeroplane at a speed of no less than 214 miles an hour, even with full load on board, and to take it to a height of 20,000 feet, or nearly four miles above the earth, in nine minutes. One man, armed with machine guns, and provided with elaborate oxygen-breathing apparatus for his ascents into the rarefied air of the great heights, controls this winged projectile. He is the modem counterpart of the armoured knight of old, backed by a tradition of, single combat no less glorious than Roland’s or Bayard’s, equipped at all points to do battle with the invader.
I quote this merely to show how powerful a fleet of modern aeroplanes of that description would be in repelling a raid on the Australian coast.
I regret keenly the decision of the Government to reduce in the Estimates for the current financial year not only the expenditure upon the royal Australian Air Force, but also the subsidy to flying clubs. This will prove to be a “ penny-wise and pound- foolish “ policy for Australia. It is regrettable that we have not been able to give even greater encouragement than has been given to our flyers, because, undoubtedly, Australia has produced some of the greatest flying men that the world has seen. I am particularly sorry that Australian National Airways has been compelled by force of financial circumstances to discontinue its services. I am given to understand that it is quite possible that the greatest pilot the world has ever produced - Kingsford Smith - may leave Australia unless encouragement is given to him and his company to carry on their operations in this country. It would be a national disaster if a man of his accomplishments were lost to Australia. The Government has acted unwisely in reducing what, after all, was only a small subsidy to civil aviation, in addition to the amount made available to the Australian Air Force. I trust that, even at this late hour, it will see fit so to amend the Estimates as to make it unnecessary to adopt a cheese-paring policy towards air services.
The only other matter to which I desire to refer is the action of the Government in reducing the maternity allowance from £5 to £4. The basis of that allowance is entirely wrong. As a result of the war, memorial hospitals have sprung up in practically every country town in Australia. Because of the existing financial depression, many of our largest and most up-to-date hospitals have been compelled to close down a portion of their institutions on account of lack of funds. ‘ The amount expended by way of maternity allowance would be spent to far greater advantage if it were made available to these institutions for the purpose of giving assistance to mothers at childbirth. They would then be certain to receive proper care and nourishment. This system could be adopted with advantage even now, and I submit it for consideration in conjunction with the general economy plan.
I was not able to be present in the Senate while the economy proposals of the Government were under discussion in a general way; but I agree with other honorable senators who have stated that it would not have been necessary to make anything like the drastic cuts in governmental expenditure that have been made had the Government, twelve months ago, taken the steps that were urged upon it by the Senate. The Senate can justifiably feel proud of the manner in which it stood out against the fiduciary note issue and the central reserve bank proposal of the Government. There is not the slightest doubt that it was the Nationalist and Country party majority in this chamber which stood between Australia and inflation. It was due to the fact that a majority of honorable senators believe in sane and sound finance, and are opposed to experimental legislation of the type proposed by the Government, that this country was saved from the horrors of such a policy. By its adoption, subsequently, of the plan of the Melbourne conference of Premiers, for which it deserves credit, the Government has admitted that its fiduciary note issue proposal was fallacious, and would have done more harm than good to this country. Had it not been convinced that its previous proposals were wrong, it would have adhered to them instead of bringing down the economy measures that were dealt with last week. I have no desire to “ rub it in “ ; but it is gratifying to those honorable senators who sit on this side to know that the policy which they preached in season and out was eventually adopted by the Government. The Opposition has shown its consistency by accepting the fullest measure of responsibility for the unpleasant things that the Government is doing. But what would have been the attitude of government members had they been in Opposition, when proposals of this description were brought down? Would they have stood shoulder to shoulder with the Government, and shared equally the burden of responsibility for such unpleasant legislation? Instead of doing so, they would have adopted the attitude Which they took up during the last federal elections, when they promised to open the coalmines in a fortnight, increase wages, and refrain from taxing beer; tobacco, and other luxuries. I am proud of having been associated with the Nationalist and Country parties, which stood four square and prevented inflation from being foisted on to this country.
– -The many matters that have been touched upon by various speakers would take a considerable time to review. I propose to confine my attention, for the moment, to the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) regarding what is known as the Statute of Westminster.
The honorable senator appeared to me to depart from his usual courteous treatment of me, and, to some extent, to slight me because I was not able to give him the information that he sought. Admittedly, many things happen in another place of which I am not aware until they come before this chamber for consideration. Had the honorable senator been watching the matter as carefully as his concern would warrant, he would have known that it had reached a stage in the other branch of the legislature at which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) had moved an amendment, upon which the discussion had been adjourned. That is the state of affairs at the present juncture. The Government has no desire to flout this chamber or treat it with disrespect. The matter referred to by the right honorable senator is one that, in the ordinary course of events, is first considered in one chamber, which has the right to amend it, and, subsequently, in the other chamber, which has an equal right to amend it. I am, naturally, not in a position to say when it will be under consideration by the Senate, but it certainly will be here after it has been dealt with in another place, and the Senate will, I hope, assert its full right to discuss and, if necessary, amend it.
Many other matters have been referred to by honorable senators, but I do not propose to reply to them at this stage. .1 ask leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
The following paper was presented:Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Health Ordinance - Regulations amended.
Motion (by Senator Barnes) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [9.17]. - I have no desire to do an injustice to the Leader of the
Senate (Senator Barnes), but I draw attention to the fact that when motions are submitted in one House with the intention of afterwards obtaining the concurrence of the other chamber they always conclude with the words “ That this resolution be transmitted to the Senate, and its concurrence desired therein “. But the motion submitted by the Government in another place relating to the Statute of Westminster did not conclude with those words, nor did the speech of the Attorney-General (Mr. Brennan), who moved the motion, contain any reference to an intention to refer it to the Senate. When the Leader of the Government in the Senate to-day was unable to give me any assurance on the point, I, naturally, came to the conclusion that it was not the intention of the Government to ask the concurrence of the Senate in that matter. However, I did not intend in my remarks to be unfair to Senator Barnes, and I ask him to accept my assurance in that regard.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 9.19 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 July 1931, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1931/19310721_senate_12_131/>.