12th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. W. Kingsmill) took the chair at 3 p.m., and road prayers.
– The Government will take every step it considers necessary to maintain peace, order, and good government in this country, and to ensure the observance of thelaw irrespective of the person or the organization concerned.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.As I am not satisfied with that reply, I give notice of the question.
– As a matter of extreme urgency, I ask the following questions of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, without notice: (1) Is it a fact that many employees of the Commonwealth dockyard at Cockatoo Island are residents of the federal electorates of Dalley, Martin, North Sydney, Parkes, East Sydney, West Sydney, Reid. Lang, and Warringah? (2) Was the recent Common wealth unemployed relief grant made on an electoral basis? (3) What was the total amount set aside for the Commonwealth Cockatoo Island Dockyard grant? (4) Is it a fact that paid political organizers and canvassers have been, and are, still collecting names for employment at Cockatoo Island? (5) ls it a fact that these organizers and canvassers belong to a political party known as the Australian! Labour Party with headquarters in Hawson Chambers, Rawsonplace, Sydney? (6) Will the Prime Minister give an instruction that all persons seeking employment or unemployment relief at Cockatoo Island shall be placed on the roster on au electoral percentage basis? (7) Who is the federal representative for the Dalley electorate in the House of Representatives? (S) Will ho endeavour to see that the federal unemployed money grant to Cockatoo Island is not used for political purposes? (0) Is it a fact that the canvass for names for Cockatoo Island relief embraces Balmain, Rozelle, Leichhardt, Annandale, Forest Lodge, and Lilyfield? Are the above-mentioned suburbs in the Dalley electorate? (10) Are the Australian newspapers correct in stating that the sum of £5,000 was set aside for Cockatoo Island unemployed relief?
-! am afraid that there are many implications in the honorable senator’s questions. Unless he is particularly desirous of having them dealt with forthwith, I advise him to go through the questions with the Clerk of “the Senate.
– The questions arc so involved that I do not feel disposed to answer them offhand. I ask for notice.
– I ask you, Mr. President, for a ruling in this matter. On the back of the form on which the questions are written, is a note which reads -
Questions, unless they relate- to the course of public business or to matters of urgency, should not lie asked without notice, but should lie placed upon the notice-paper.
You will remember that I prefaced my questions with a statement that the matter was urgent.
– A Minister is quite at liberty to ask that notice be given of a question if he is not prepared to answer it immediately.
– Is the Minister aware that the leaders of the New Guard have appointed agents who are making an active personal canvass of ex-members of the Australian Imperial Force and other citizens to join the New Guard? Will the Government take the necessary steps to stop this illegal recruiting on the part of the leaders and agents of a semi-military organization? Will the Minister bring under the notice of tho officers of the Attorney-General’s Department the New Guard’s application form, with a view to deciding its legality or otherwise? Will the Minister bring under the notice of the Minister for Defence the possibility of a leakage of the contents of military documents to executive members or supporters of the New Guard?
– I rise to a point of order. Is not the honorable senators question subject to the same objection as applied to his previous questions?
– I was about to remind the honorable senator that the same procedure should be adopted in regard to this question that I advised in connexion with his previous questions.
– I submit, with the question, the recruiting form to which I referred.
– Is it the intention of the Government to submit proposals for amending the Constitution to a referendum simultaneously with the next general election? Is it intended that the questions submitted shall be identical with those which were rejected by the Senate last year, or are any modifications intended? If so, what is the nature of the modification? Will the Government sympathetically consider, as an alternative, the summoning of a special convention to redraft the whole Constitution for subsequent submission to the people?
– It is not usual to make statements relating to matters of public policy in reply to questions “without notice.
Has the Tariff Board report on the subject of the customs duty on pearl buttons been completed ?
If so, when will the report be made available for the information of honorable senators?
– The answers to the right honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [3.10]. - I move -
That Statutory Rules 1931, No. 126, Waterside Workers Regulations, and No. 127, Waterside Employment Regulations, be disallowed.
I do not intend to discuss the various aspects of the waterside employment dispute raised by this motion; such matters as the judgment of the High Court in regard to the dispute might more conveniently be dealt with at another time. But I make an appeal to the Government to show sympathetic consideration to those waterside workers who are unemployed, and whose only crime is that they obeyed the law of the land and enabled the transport industry of this country to be conducted. During a strike which was an offence against the Arbitration Act some thousands of men came to the rescue of the country, and made it possible to carry on the transport industry. As the result of the repeated reenactment of the regulations which I am now asking the Senate to disallow, these men, through the action of the Government, have been unable to follow their usual employment for many months, and unfortunately, they cannot obtain other employment. I believe that the Senate will carry the motion that I have submitted; but I ask the Government not to re-enact the regulations immediately. If they refrain from doing that, the volunteer workers on the waterside may obtain a few days’ work before Christmas. If the Government persists in again bringing in the regulations, those men will have to remain unemployed. I appeal to the Government, in the name of humanity, to treat these men as human beings, and to give them a chance of a little employment. Their only hope of obtaining work is in the Government refraining from re-enacting these regulations. The members of the Waterside Workers Federation who broke the law have, through the action of the Ministry, been given the whole of this work for some time past, and, therefore, I urge the Government to give the men who obeyed the law a chance to obtain a few days’ work.
. - I oppose the motion. This matterhas been considered by the Senate on many occasions, and has been worn threadbare. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) has appealed to the Government to act generously towards a certain section of the men on the waterfront in the matter of employment. I point out that a special grant has been made unconditionally for the purpose of providing work for the unemployed. The policy of the Government for a long time has been to give preference to returned soldiers and unionists; but that policy has been waived in the distribution of the special grant to the unemployed, so that they may have some sustenance over the Christmas season. Any man who is out of work and hungry can obtain a share of that grant.
– Except on the waterfront; there hunger is no qualification for the assistance being given by the Government.
– So far as I am aware, no such restriction applies. The Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) has already announced that the only qualification a man needs to entitle him to a share of that money is hunger and unemployment. It is difficult to justify the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition in repeatedly submitting motions for the disallowance of these regulations. It appears to me that the Government has acted strictly within its rights, and it is backed up by the verdict of the High Court. It is futile for honorable senators opposite to vote again for the disallowance of the regulations. Since they have been in operation, work on the waterfront has proceeded smoothly and continuously. Had there been any trouble, the public would have been made aware of it by means of press reports, and I have read nothing in the press to suggest that an industrial disturbance has occurred recently on the waterfront. Apparently, the shipowners, the wharf labourers, and everybody else concerned in that work are at peace, and why should we disturb the present conditions ? “ Let sleeping dogs lie “ is not a bad maxim, and it might well be acted upon by the Leader of the Opposition in regard to this matter.
Motion (by Senator Sir William Glasgow) - put -
That the Senate do now divide.
The Senate divided. (President - Senator Hon. W. Kingsmill.)
Majority . . 11
Majority . . 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The Senate” divided. (President - Senatok Hon. W. Kingsmill.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I ask leave to make a personal explanation.
– On what subject?
– The honorable senator should intimate the subject in respect of which he wishes to make an explanation.
– With all due respect to my friends of other political parties, I point out, as one of the representatives of theBeasley-Lang group, that my personal explanation relates to the vote on the motion for the disallowance of the waterside workers’ regulations.
– Is it the wish of the Senate that the honorable senator have leave to make a personal explanation?
– It was the intention of the members of the Beasley-Lang group in the Senate to discuss the motion for the disallowance of the waterside workers’ regulations. Last week, before I moved the closure on SenatorColebatch’s motion in relation to sugar, the representatives of all political parties in the chamber had had an opportunity to discuss the subject.
– Some of us had no opportunity to speak.
– I submit, therefore, that the representatives of the BeasleyLang group should have been allowed to speak on the motion to disallow the waterside workers’ regulations; but we were prevented from doing so. My political pride has been hurt.
– I gather that the honorable senator is objecting to the manner in which certain business of the Senate has been transacted. The motion referred to was dealt with a few minutes ago in accordance with the voting of a majority of the Senate, which is master of its own actions. The honorable sena tor may feel that he has a grievance,but I do not think that he is at liberty to air it now under cover of a personal explanation.
Debate resumed from the 11th Novem ber (vide page 1604), on motion by Senator Daly -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– When this debate was adjourned last night I was replying to some of the arguments that had been advanced by honorable senators, and particularly by Senator Crawford. I pointed out that although some honorable senators had made quotations from a book entitled, The Australian Tariff - An Economic Inquiry, by Professor Brigden and other well-known men of affairs in Australia, they had been careful to refrain from giving the considered conclusions of the writers of that work. We have listened to certain quotations which in nearly all cases were divorced from their context, and, therefore, conveyed an entirely wrong impression of the views of the writers of the book. These experts, who are admittedly protectionists, state, on page68 of this book, that their final conclusion is that 9 per cent. of the present price level is due to protection. I quote that in answer to the statement of Senator Crawford that no single individual had ever put his finger on anything to show that protection had in any shape or form increased the cost of living in this country. Turning to page 84 of the same book, we find that these experts, after having come to the conclusion that it is difficult for Australia to carry on without some measure of protection, say -
But the costs of the tariff in relation to the income produced and the population maintained varies from item to item. Some protection is relatively more costly than other. Instances of extravagant costs stand out Careful inquiry would be able to put each item of protected production in its place for cost in relation to benefits.
It is certain that the cost of some itemsis excessive. There is little doubt that such an inquiry would show thatan appreciable amountof protected production has been achieved at too great a cost, and that a somewhat larger national income would have been attained without it.
Honorable senators who seek arguments to support what we consider to be an altogether excessive tariff, quote only isolated portions of this book to bolster up their own case, disregarding the fact al together that these experts, having given careful consideration to this subject, state that there is little doubt that an inquiry would show that an appreciable amount of protected production has been achieved at too great a cost, and that a somewhat larger national income would have been attained without it. There is the point at which we join issue with our friends. We have never claimed to be freetraders, but what we do claim is that the protective policy of this Government is injuring the national income and development of Australia, as well as defeating its own end. In the words of these professors of economics, it hasbeen obtained at too great a cost.
The other night Senator O’Halloran quoted a long list of popular items that had previously been quoted by other speakers.
– Who quoted the list previously?
– Senator Dunn.
– He did not.
– It is a remarkable coincidence that the figures quoted are all based on the prices for the year 1920. I am now speaking more particularly of agricultural implements. As everybody knows, the peak of prices in respect of modern steel production was reached in 1920.
– That is not so.
– Since Sir Henry Bessemer laid down his first blast furnace, the price of steel had never been so high as it was in 1920. The price of every implement used for agriculture or in other industries was based on the price of raw material at that time, and any comparison will show that despite the tariff the price of machinery of all kinds began to decline steadily from that year. That decline had no relation whatever to the tariff, and took place as the natural result of the drop in the price of raw material.
– What about the decline of 10 per cent, which took place when prohibitions were imposed on certain oversea lines?
– When that decline took place, the decline in the outside world was between 40 per cent. and 50 per cent.
– Not at all.
– I happen to know that that is a fact. A few years ago the late Government established the Tariff Board to inquire particularly into the price of agricultural machinery, and it is rather remarkable that the board, in making its inquiry, also took the peak period of 1920 as its starting point, and drew attention to the decline in prices from that year to 1925 as evidence that the tariff had had no effect on the price of agricultural machinery. The board, in its report on agricultural implements, ordered to be printed on the 19th August, 1925, said-
The second phase Of thu question is, “ Would the removal of the duty on agricultural implements result in cheaper prices being charged to the user?” There is necessarily much speculation involved in a matter of this kind, and the reply is based more or less on the probabilitiesof the case. The first effect that the removal of duties would bring about would be a reduction in the landed cost of imported implements, and this would, of course, allow a reduction in the price to the farmer. The probabilities, in fact, are that the removal of the duties would result in an almost immediate reduction in the price of imported implements to the farmer.
– Did the Tariff Board recommended the removal of these duties?
– I am quoting from the report of the Tariff Board.
– Assoon as the local production was killed, the price of the imported article would have been increased.
– I admit that the board expressed that opinion.
– The overseas implement-makers would rush to increase prices.
– That is only an expression of opinion. The board was, of course, entitled to express an opinion, but the mere expression of it gets us nowhere. Every letter that honorable senators have received urging them to vote for still higher rates of duty - and there have beenquite a number of them - has contended that, the higher the duty, the cheaper the cost to the consumer in Australia. If that is so, it is extraordinary that the Australian manufacturers want protection; because they say their prices come down as protection goes up.
– The honorable senator has heard of dumping.
– The position in regard to dumping is adequately safeguarded by the Industries Preservation Act, and the honorable senator knows it. The board goes on to say -
It is impossible to imagine that any secondary industry can carry on without protection in a country where it is the policy to protect secondary industries.
That is a most extraordinary statement, and shows the extremity to which the board was driven in accounting for its subsequent recommendation. I should like the Minister to note carefully the following statement that appears on page 22 of the report: -
To be placed at the mercy of any combine or monopoly, whether it be overseas or local, is, at the best, undesirable.
– It is easier to deal with a local combine.
– That is beside the question; the considered opinion of the board is that it is undesirable to be placed at the mercy of any combine or monopoly. That is one of the few conclusions of the Tariff Board with which I agree. I say, without hesitation, that that result has been achieved by the present Government. Whenever a monopoly is created, trouble ensues.
– In what way has the Government created a monopoly?
– By placing an embargo upon importations, and giving the market entirely to the local manufacturer.
– He has to secure that market by charging competitive prices.
– He is not called upon to face competition, because the embargo excludes his competitors. That is self evident, and cannot be refuted. The contention of the board is, without the shadow of a doubt, unanswerable.
The other evening, Senator O’Halloran challenged the accuracy of certain figures relating to the cost of galvanized iron in this country, and quoted from evidence that had been given by a customs officer before the Committee of Public Accounts in an inquiry into the disabilities of South Australia under federation. I am surprised that the honorable senator should admit that South Australia has ever suffered any disabilities under federation. I agree with him that certain States labour under severe disabilities, but I contend that these are due chiefly to the operation of the tariff.
– They are chiefly natural disabilities.
– They are unnatural and artificial disabilities, which have been created by the central governing authority. The guiding principle has been : “ The greatest good for the greatest number “, with the result that the densely settled population along the eastern seaboard has benefited to the intense disadvantage of the outlying portions of the Commonwealth. Several honorable senators have said that, measured in terms of pence to the bushel of wheat grown, the tariff is a very small item. Senator. Kneebone fixed the figure at1¼d. a bushel.
– I referred to that as the price of agricultural implements made in Australia.
– I am endeavouring to deal with the matter from the same stand-point. The Tariff Board gives three examples, setting out in each case the cost of implements and their life, on average Australian wheat farms, and on the basis of the average yield of such farms purports to compute the burden, if any, imposed on the farmer by the duty on agricultural implements. Example A is of a farm of 640 acres, of which 260 acres are cropped each year - 245 acres of wheat and 15 acres of hay. The description of the district is “ good. “, and of the land “ thoroughly cleared “. The average yield is put down at 22 bushels of wheat to the acre. That is considerably above the average in Australia. A list of agricultural implements is then given, consisting of plough, harrows, combined drill and cultivator, header harvester, chaff cutter, engine, reaper and binder. Any one who is at all acquainted with a wheat farm knows that those implements comprise a very small proportion of itsequipment. The total cost is put down at £507 12s. 6d., and the average life of the machinery at twenty-years- plough twenty years, harrows twenty years, combined drill and cultivator fifteen years, header harvester fifteen years, chaff cutter twenty years, engine ten years, reaper and hinder twenty years. The board then divides the total cost of the machinery by the average number of years, and arrives at the figure £33 158. 4d. It multiplies the 260 acres of wheat by the 22 bushels, and arrives at a total production of 5,720 bushels per annum, upon which it bases its calculation that the cost of the machinery amounts to only 1.4d. per bushel. The other examples are on similar lines. This is stated as the considered opinion of a board one of the members of which was a customs officer. They make it appear that the figures given represent the total cost of the machinery.
– I believe they referred solely to dutiable items.
– I care not whether they were referring to dutiable items or not; what they say is that the average cost of the machinery works out at 1.4d. per bushel. A most important item of expenditure has been omitted; no allowance is made for depreciation or renewals during the stated period. One can only conclude that this agricultural machinery is like the deacon’s - . . wonderful one-boss shay,
That was built in such a logical way lt ran a hundred years to a day,
And then of a sudden . . .
All at once and nothing first,
Just as bubbles do when they burst.
No one knows better than Senator O’Halloran that it is necessary to spend a fairly large sum of money annually on machinery and implements for renewals and repairs. When a person buys a header harvester, a reaper thrasher or any other similar implement, he receives from the agents a book containing details of the .various parts needed for renewals, all of which are carefully itemized, and can be ordered by quoting a number. However, if the whole of the parts in a machine were purchased singly, the completed article would cost three times more than if it were bought as a unit. I have read the considered report of Mr. George Hudson, chairman of the Tariff Board, Mr. Herbert Brookes, Mr. David Masterten and Mr. Walter Leitch. These gentlemen had all the facts before them, and possessed every facility to obtain what ever evidence they considered necessary to assist them in presenting their report. After careful investigation, they solemnly declared that the cost of a farmer’s machinery over a. twenty-year period works out at Id. per bushel of the price of his wheat. The statement is too ridiculous for words.
I now turn to the report of the Tariff Board for the year ended, the 30th June, 1931. One notices that a change has come over the scene. Here is an extract -
The heavy fall in the national dividend has caused the local market to contract so severely as to render impossible, for the present, at least, the re-employment of many of the operatives previously engaged in manu-‘ facture. It is essential, therefore, that export industries shall be stimulated wherever possible. A certain amount can be done in this regard by helping- to increase the efficiency of those industries engaged in export, and by improvement in marketing methods. Reciprocal trade treaties is another means . . . Export industries can chiefly be helped by making possible a reduction in operation costs.
That is not the opinion of a freetrade advocate in this chamber, but the considered opinion of the Tariff Board. I admit that the personnel of the board underwent a slight change during the interim, but the principal factor is that the members of the board had had an additional seven years’ experience to guide them. The last report continues -
The risk of increasing costs to the great primary industries has been constantly before the board, for it is obvious that Australia cannot regain her prosperity until export industries are able to produce and sell at a profit.
– Which report is right ?
– The last one, the result of a riper experience. It is impracticable to produce and sell upon the markets of the world, except at a profit. Last year’s wheat crop is an example. In response to an appeal by the Prime Minister our wheat-growers produced more and more wheat. They did that at enormous loss to themselves, with the result that many have been forced off their holdings. I notice from the statistical records of New South Wales that there are now 1,736 fewer wheat-growers in that State than there were twelve months ago. It will be found, if that decrease is averaged over the other wheat-growing States of
Australia, that there, has been a great shrinkage in the number of our wheatgrowers. This report continues -
Naturally any action that might he taken to reduce the more oppressive duties would assist, not only the primary industries, but also those secondary industries which are seeking an export market.
In answer to that opinion, which was given for the guidance of the Government, the administration has introduced an allround tariff increase! The only result can be a decrease in Australian manufactures, and a further reduced national income. I have cited the opinions upon which I rely to support my contention that Australia is suffering from over protection. What has been said with regard to the wheat-growing industry, and the price of agricultural machinery applies to everything else that is used by the farmers and graziers of this country. In that connexion I should like to read the following resolution, which emanates from the Primary Producers Association of Western Australia: -
That as all applications made by primary producers’ organizations for relief from excessive customs taxation have failed, and as the present Federal Government is apparently determined to maintain its present inequitable policy, thereby materially adding to the cost of development of farming and pastoral properties, all farmers, graziers, and pastoralists are urged to refrain from all further developmental work involving the purchase of (1) galvanized iron, (2) wire notting, (3) fencing wire, (4) galvanized iron piping, (5) farming and pastoral machinery, (0) implements and tools of trade.
– That is passive resistance.
– Admittedly it is, but it is preferable to the other sort. I impress upon the Government the fact that these men are not a handful of fanatics with bees in their bonnets. They are hard-headed business men. who have put the whole of their life’s savings into their particular callings, and have made a stupendous effort’ to succeed. Every effort by their representatives to secure the passage of legislation meting out justice to every section in the community having failed, the producers of Western Australia came to the conclusion that they have no alternative but to adopt the policy set forth in that resolution. It must be remembered that the pastoral and wheat-grow ing industries of Western Australia are still at the pioneering stage. They have been obliged to carry on their developmental work under conditions which are by no means so favorable as those which obtained when the great bulk of the developmental work in those industries was done in the Eastern States. Under this tariff schedule every householder and every man who clears his land has to pay 75 per cent, duty on such an indispensable article as the ordinary Collins axe. The cost of tools of trade which are required for the developmental work necessary to bring about the increased production repeatedly asked for by the Prime Minister has been considerably increased by this tariff.
Having just touched upon agricultural and pastoral matters, I pass to the mining industry. Senator Crawford said that if the gold mines to-day were as rich as they were when Kalgoorlie was first discovered, no complaints would be heard. The position would certainly not be so acute as it is; but I deny that there is any difference in principle. When supplies had to be conveyed by camels 125 miles from Coolgardie to Norseman, the Norseman Gold Mines Limited was paying its way on 6-dwt. ore. It is extremely doubtful if 9-dwt. ore is payable to-day, although there is- now rail connexion between Norseman and Coolgardie.
– It depends on the size of the lode.
– In Western Australia we have the largest gold-bearing lodes in Australia, but it is extremely doubtful if they can be treated at a profit where the yield is anything under 10 dwt. per ton. One of our troubles in Australia is that we are endeavouring to establish industries under unnatural conditions, and, therefore, find it necessary to provide bounties to enable them to carry on. The payment of a bounty on gold production is an admission by the Commonwealth Government that injury is being done to the gold-mining industry by the protective policy of Australia.
I do not despise the home market which is available to the primary producer. It is a good market, but is not sufficient. Australian producers are absolutely dependent on external markets. Honorable senators admit that the secondary industries of Australia cannot compete in outside markets because of the high cost of production in Australia; yet they expect the primary industries to meet in the world’s markets the competition of produce grown under conditions of labour such as do not prevail in Australia.
One honorable senator has mentioned that a little while ago there were 35,000 wheat-growers in the State of Montana, in the United States of America, whereas to-day the number is only 14,000, yet the smaller number is producing more wheat. l?b at is a. tribute to the progressiveness of the wheat-grower. For instance, in Australia the number of wheat-growers is gradually diminishing, yet the total production of wheat is increasing. On the other hand, according to the Commonwealth Statistician, although from 1924 to 1928 there was an increase of 5 per cent, in the number of the operatives engaged in secondary industries, their total production decreased by 11 per cent.
– Is the honorable senator speaking of values or quantities?
– I am speaking of quantities. The cause of this is a matter that should be investigated. The Australian manufacturers have the same opportunities that the farmers have to get up-to-date machinery to help them to increase production.
It has been said that no nian can be a moderate protectionist any more than he can be a moderate fire-fighter; that if a bush fire is burning no man will tackle it moderately. That all depends upon what is meant by moderate protection. Because there has been an overwhelming victory in Great Britain for those who stand for the the good of the Empire, some people think that the Mother Country will straight away adopt a protectionist policy. It is quite possible that she will impose customs duties on some articles for the protection of her own industries, and call them protective duties; but I am certain that in Australia they would not be regarded as such. We do not claim that we are putting forward a proposal for moderate protection. [Extension of time granted.] We claim to advocate full and adequate protection for the in’dustries of Australia. We say that, if an industry cannot carry on with a protection of 30 per cent, or 40 per cent., there is something wrong with it.
Protectionists tell us that agricultural machinery costs more in New Zealand than it does in Australia. Many of these comparisons are absolutely valueless, because not always are the prices computed on the same basis. .From inquiries which I have made, it appears that in New Zealand agricultural machinery is quoted free on rail at the railway station nearest the farm, whereas, in Australia, all quotations arc free on rail at the station nearest the warehouse of the distributors. Before it is possible to arrive at a proper comparison, we must know the cost of the rail freight from the headquarters of the distributors to the farm.
– - Who pays the freight on agricultural machinery in New Zealand ?
– It is paid by the farmer, and is charged in the price of the implement, whereas the Australian price is the price at the factory. If I desired, I could supply comparisons which would give an entirely different result from those which have been mentioned. In the Tariff Board’s report on agricultural machinery, issued in 1925, there is a letter from Sir James Elder, who at that time was Trade Commissioner for Australia at Washington, in the United States of America. The Tariff Board had cabled to him asking for price-lists showing the selling prices of agricultural machinery in the United States of America, and he replied that he was unable to obtain them. When I was in Canada three or four years ago, I had no difficulty whatever in obtaining from the agents the selling prices of agricultural implements sold to Canadian farmers. If I were to quote those prices without explanation, I could show that the implements used in Canada cost less than half the price charged for similar implements in Australia. For instance, the price of a drill in Canada appears to be about one-third of the price of a drill in Australia. But the two implements are not alike. Unless the conditions are exactly similar, these comparisons are valueless.
Yesterday, Senator Guthrie had a good deal to say about the textile industry. He lauded the Australian-made article, and said that he was extremely anxious that a high protection should be maintained on textiles. I have nothing to say against the textiles manufactured in this country. The suit which I am now wearing I obtained from a firm of tailors in Perth in 1926; the material was manufactured at the Albany woollen mills, in “Western Australia. I do not wish to wear a better suit. Yet I have never been asked by the Albany woollen mills to request a higher duty on textiles. The Mossgiel woollen mills, at Dunedin, New Zealand, under a 25 per cent, tariff, and with a local marketnot one-quarter the size of that open to Australian woollen mills, last year paid a 10 per cent, dividend to its shareholders, and carried forward to the reserve fund nearly £10,000. That company exports a great proportion of its product, most of it to Australia. The Government should cause an investigation to be made to ascertain why such things are .possible in New Zealand and not in Australia.
A good deal has been said regarding the necessity for creating a favorable trade balance with other countries. But every year, when an attempt is made to export those products which will help to adjust the trade balance, the efforts of the exporters are thwarted by a ruthless and unlawful gang. A little over twelve months ago, when the export lamb trade was in full swing, that trade was held up in Sydney. Instructions had been issued that action to hold up slaughtering at the abattoirs should not be taken until the export trade had started. A similar state of affairs existed this year in Victoria, and I suppose that when the beef export season starts in Queensland, there will be further trouble there. Notwithstanding that this gang does incalculable harm to Australia, it continues to adopt these tactics year after year, apparently unchallenged.
The trouble with our manufacturing industries is that our protective policy has been applied to the raw materials which are used in almost every trade that is carried on in this country. The great iron and steel industry, which Senator Hoare told us pays £30,000,000 a year in wages, is hampered, according to those engaged in it, not so much because of the inefficiency of its workmen, but because of the heavy duties on machinery. Every manufacturer, ardent protectionist as he is, will say to you, “ We could do very much better if we could get our machinery in free
– Senator Guthrie wants ties of Australian wool to be made in Australia with imported machinery.
– Unfortunately, there is not much principle in this matter. A man who imports cloth wants it to come in free of duty, whereas the textile millers want heavy duties on the imported material; a man who manufactures ready-made clothing wants the material from which it is made to come in free, and a heavy duty on ready-made clothing which competes with his own product. And so it goes on. Unfortunately, the burden falls chiefly on the primary producer.
– Is not the farmer protected ?
– He is protected against protection. If -we had no high protectionist policy for other industries the farmer would not need. any protection. He is being protected against a policy of protection run mad.
– The honorable senator’s remarks are tantamount to saying that if a man does not want to walk, he does not need legs.
– A thing cannot be fair unless all sections .of the community are treated alike. The trouble is that our policy of high protection benefits only one section of the community. We have only to look at the growth of our capital cities to see the result of the policy which we have followed. Why is it that more than half the population of Australia is congregated in its capital cities? Is it not because the policy which we have followed has made city life more attractive than life in the country?
– A good deal of the drift to the city has been caused by farmers not employing so many men as formerly.
– Yesterday, Senator Hoare mentioned a number of benefits which the producers of Australia had derived from the railways of Australia. I ask him whether the electrification of the suburban railway system or the underground railway of Sydney, or even the Sydney Harbour bridge, has benefited the farmers of New South Wales? I have here pictures of the Sydney Harbour bridge, and of asimilar bridge at New York. Notwithstanding that the American bridge is 25 feet longer, it cost only £3,600,000, whereas already the bridge at Sydney has cost £9,900,000; and it is not yet finished. The finest engineers in the world estimated the cost of the Sydney Harbour bridge at £4,500,000. The whole trouble arose through the contract providing that any increase in the cost of materials should be borne by the Government of New South Wales, not by the contractor. A large proportion of the interest on that bridge is charged against the railway system of New South Wales.
– Does the honorable senator know the relative quantities of materials used in the two structures?
– The great difference between the cost of the two bridges is difficult to explain, since the United States of America is also a country of high wages.
– How do the two bridges compare in width?
– I merely point out that the estimated cost of the Sydney bridge has been exceeded by more than 100 per cent., largely as the result of the policy which is pursued in this country. The primary producers in Western Australia, owing to their isolation, are heavily penalized under the tariff. A large proportion of their machinery and other supplies is obtained from the Eastern States, and owing to the heavy cost of freight, due to the coastal clause of the Navigation Act, the prices that they have to pay are much higher than those in the Eastern States. Western Australia suffers from the effects of a monopoly which is the creation of the Commonwealth Parliament. I am surprised that the people in my State are not more dissatisfied than they now are with their conditions. Like the late Lord Olive, we are surprised at our own moderation.
– I have been a protectionist all my life. Before I took an active interest in politics, I saw the advantages of the policy of protecting Australian industries, and my fiscal views were strengthened, largely, perhaps, by the splendid fight of the Melbourne Age in the interests of protection. I cannot see that any harm has been done to Australia through the adoption of that policy. It has certainly brought prosperity to Victoria, and, in my humble judgment, all the States have been benefited. When I was a young Australian, and able to do hard physical work, I could see no justification for importing goods into this country from abroad when Australians were out of work. I still hold that view; I am as strongly convinced as ever of the wisdom of the policy of protection.
Senator Sir Hal Colebatch, in the course of his speech last week, made reference to the value of the preferences accorded to British manufacturers by the Commonwealth. He said that the £10,000,000 estimate was a ridiculous figure, and that the report of the economists who conducted an inquiry into the operation of the tariff estimated the amount at £1,000,000. The honorable senator also asserted that the value. of the present preferences would not amount to £400,000. I am afraid that the honorable senator gleaned his information on the subject from a misleading statement issued by the Australian Association of British manufacturers, which was published in the press on the same day as that on which he made his assertion. It is surprising that the honorable senator, who is steeped in economics, did not take the trouble to verify his information before he spoke on the subject. The £1,000,000 referred to by the economists as representing the value of the Australian preferences to the United Kingdom related to British goods which came into competition with Australian-made goods, and did not take into account a vast range of goods imported from the United Kingdom which do not compete with Australian-made goods. Let me quote the final paragraph of the committee’s report on this subject -
The whole amount - the £1,000,000 on goods which compete with home products, together with the preference on non-competitive im- ports - is a cost to Australia which must be mct by other taxation to the same amount, n Inch will impose some cost 011 industry, (lui this is not a cost of protection but of preference, and therefore will not bc considered further in this report.
This clearly indicates that the £1,000,000 had reference to the value of the preferences on British goods imported into tho Commonwealth which compete with similar Australian-made goods, and the honorable senator failed to appreciate tho limited application of this section of the Tariff Committee’s report.
– The Minister is reading a statement made by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Forde), and published in to-day’s press.
– I wish to have it recorded in Hansard. The economists, in reporting upon the value of the preferences accorded to the United Kingdom by Australia, stated that the total value of such preferences was arrived at by assessing the amount of the duties which would have been paid if the goods had been imported from foreign countries, and that the benefit to British manufacturers could reach the figure of £8,000,000- the value of preference for the year under review - only if they obtained the foreign price plus an amount equal to the whole of the duty levied on competing foreign goods. This statement indicates that the economists did not understand the basis on which the total value of British preference, that is, £8,000,000, was arrived at. This figure was obtained by assessing the foreign duty on actual imports from the United Kingdom and ou the British values of such goods. The value of preference is certainly not assessed on foreign values; indeed, it would be practically impossible to make an assessment, on that basis.
The economists also stated that, where all the trade in any item of goods is preferential, the value of the preference is small, and may be neglected. This conclusion may be correct as regards cotton and other piece goods, but it certainly cannot be applied to a large variety of other British imports, particularly iron, and steel products, wire, pipes and tubes, telephones, &c. The imports of most of these goods into Australia are predominantly British, and foreign imports arenegligible. During the year 1929- 30. the value of the imports of certain of these goods of British, origin totalled £8,000,000, whilst foreign, imports amounted to £760,000. Manyother lines could be quoted, but J have confined myself to a review of certain iron and steel products. Surely it cannot bo contended that the preferenceson these goods have been negligible. If the foreign rates had been applicable tothese British imports, or, alternatively, if the foreign goods had been dutiable at the British rates, it is doubtful whether British manufacturers would haveretained more than 25 per cent, of their trade with Australia in these goods. The trade would have been lost to foreigncountries, as it is well known that thecontinental prices of iron and steel products are considerably lower than those of the British products. Yet, according to the conclusion arrived at by the Economic Committee, the value of the preferenceaccorded British manufacturers is negligible. This erroneous conclusion ifr based solely on the premises that, asforeign imports are negligible, British manufacturers are not taking advantage of the preferences accorded to them.
An important effect on the value of preferences which the economists did nol take into consideration relates to the 75 per cent, requirement with regard t» British labour and materials. This condition enables the legitimate British manufacturer to obtain the advantage of our British preferential tariff as against manufacturers in tho United Kingdom, who perform- a finishing-off process only in Great Britain. On galvanized iron, it was ascertained that the difference in cost under the 75 per cent, requirement and the old 25 per cent, requirement amounted to 17s. 6d. per ton. This 17s. 6d. increase is brought about by the employment of British labour, and by the use of British material which would otherwise have been diverted to foreign countries under the 25 per cent, requirement. On past importations of gal- vanized iron alone, a very substantial amount can be debited to British preference. No cognizance whatever was <taken of this aspect of the matter by the economists in making their report, and the total value of the preference under this heading alone must be considerable.
A perusal of the section of the economists’ report relating to British preferonce suggests that they have not gone very deeply into the subject, and have failed to apply a most important principle. What trade which British manufacturers have done with Australia would have been lost had foreign manufacturers been placed on an equal footing? That is the principle they should have applied. On certain goods, particularly iron and steel products, the margin of preference is so great that it definitely prohibits the importation of foreign goods into Australia, despite the fact that foreign manufacturers’ prices are much lower than British prices. It is absurd for the honorable senator to suggest that the value of our preference to the United Kingdom is only £400,000. Not only is this Government convinced that the value of British preferences in the past has been worth at least £10,000,000 per annum, but the late Mr. Pratten, when lie was Minister for Trade and Customs, also estimated that the figure of £10,000,000 represented the annual value of those preferences.
I believe in providing as much work as possible for Australians, and giving sympathetic consideration to proposals for the development of reciprocal trade with the Old Country. Having had a long experience of the battle of life, I realizehow important it is to do everything possible to provide employment for young Australians. The fathers of the present generation worked long and laboriously to make a living; but their sons have invented machinery which has made labour less arduous than formerly. In spite of this fact, there are people, some of them alleged economists, who advocate that longer hours should bc worked than at present. Surely it would be more logical to argue that the advent of machinery should lessen working hours and remove the necessity for so much arduous manual labour. Because our forefathers dug in the earth with a stick and grew their corn in the most primitive fashion, we should, not be expected to do so. Much water has run under the bridges since that time. Hard work and long hours may have been compulsory in those days ; but the education of the human race should surely result in more comfortable living conditions for the people.
– No one suggests that we should go back to the days referred to by the honorable senator.
– My honorable friend would revert to the troglodyte agc if he could. Some people hold the view that commerce should flow through the earth as freely as the blood flows through the human body. That would be a good thing if industry could be socialized in accordance with the views of the Labour party, so that the efforts of people in one country could be directed to the assistance of people in other countries; hut wo are not living under such conditions to-day. Australia must protect, herself so that she may maintain the good conditions which her workers enjoy. We know very well that goods are manufactured in some other countries under conditions which the men of Australia would not dream of accepting.
– Is the honorable senator referring to Great Britain?
– I am not. But the working conditions of Great Britain, generally speaking, are not so good as those of Australia. If working conditions were uniform in all countries, it would be reasonable for the goods which can be produced conveniently and economically in one country to have free access to other countries where they cannot be produced conveniently and economically; but, unfortunately, the conditions of all countries are not uniform. On this account Australia must protect, herself.
– The honorable senator desires to build a wall round Australia.
– It is extraordinary tha’t under existing conditions we send our raw materials 13,000 miles overseas to be manufactured, and pay heavy freights to bring the manufactured goods back to Australia. We should be manufacturing our raw material. If everybody thought as I do on this subject there would be no great difficulties to face. Much greater men than I am have expressed the opinion that there should be no need for mankind to work so hard for such long hours as they do at present.
– The farmers have to work long hours.
– The farmers have been fooled by the people who live on them. They have allowed themselves to get into the hands of the bankers, and the wheat, meat and other manipulators, and for this reason they are having a hard time.
– They have also allowed themselves to get into the hands of this Government.
– This Government went to the farmers with both hands full of succour for them. It had a great sympathetic heart for the farmers, and did not wait for them to come to it.
I wish now to refer to certain statements made by Senator Payne, who took the Government to task for not referring all the items in the schedule to this bill to the Tariff Board. »
– I took the Government to task for imposing duties without consulting the Tariff Board.
– The honorable senator criticized the Government for not awaiting reports from the Tariff Board before taking action to meet the situation which confronted the nation. “ Fiddling while Rome burns “ best describes that attitude. The number of Tariff Board reports submitted on tariff revision subjects during the last five years totalled 223, or an average of 45 per annum. Prior to this Government assuming office the yearly average was approximately 35. If the principle advocated by the honorable senator had been adopted by the Government we should have had to wait three or four years before action could be taken. In the meantime we would have defaulted in our overseas payments.
Apart from this aspect of the matter, the attitude adopted by the honorable senator is most inconsistent. For him to assert that no item of the tariff should be amended with out inquiry and report by the Tariff Board presupposes that every existing item, sub-item, clause and paragraph in the 1921-1928 Customs Tariff was inserted as the result of inquiry and report by the Tariff Board. As a matter of fact, the number of items, sub-items, paragraphs and clauses in the 1921- 1928 Customs Tariff - the’ tariff operating before the present Government assumed office - totalled 1,118, while the number of items, sub-items, paragraphs and clauses in respect of which reports and recommendations had been submitted by the Tariff Board totalled only 204. This leaves a balance of 914 items, sub-items, paragraphs and clauses, which have never been inquired into by the Tariff Board. If the honorable senator were consistent, he would have endeavoured to persuade the Government of which he was a supporter to refer to the Tariff Board all those items which had not been the subject of reports by the board. That Government was in office for a period long enough to enable that task to be performed.
To object to a government introducing tariff legislation on the ground that many of the items had not been reported upon by the Tariff Board when only 18 per cent, of the base tariff, that is the 1921- 1928 tariff, had been reported upon by the Tariff Board is most futile. Immediate and effective action was necessary to meet the situation confronting our country, and the Government would have been recreant to its trust if it had” sheltered behind a section of the Tariff Board Act. When- this section was put into the act, Parliament did not contemplate that circumstances might arise which would necessitate an immediate and comprehensive revision of the tariff.
I do not blame any one in particular for the difficulties of the present economic position, but I remind honorable senators that governments are sometimes faced with situations which call for emergency action. This Government had to meet circumstances which called for drastic and immediate action. After it . had assumed office it found that tens of thousands of our people were out of work. Unfortunately, they are still unemployed. One reason for this is that people who have money to invest in secon- dary industries are afraid to act, because they are uncertain whether the present protectionist policy of Australia will be maintained. Certain people may put £20,000 or £50,000 into an industry, only to find within a few months’ time that a party has been returned to power which believes in freetrade, or some other prehistoric economic principle. If the policy of the country were reversed because a new government had come into office, the people who had invested their money in secondary industries would, undoubtedly, lose it all. This Government has endeavoured to frame a tariff which will not only result in the provision of employment for our own people, but also give generous consideration to our kinsmen overseas.
– The honorable senator surely does not suggest that the first tariff schedule tabled in another place by this Government was carefully considered ?
– Speaking on behalf of the Government,” I say that that schedule was very carefully considered. The honorable senator is at liberty to believe otherwise if he so desires. Only to-day I received a telegram which informed me that the Western Australian Chamber of Manufactures has just published a small booklet on secondary industries for circulation among children, which contains the statement that last year 22,000 people were employed in the secondary industries of that State. It is most important for all the States that their people should be engaged in secondary industries, wherever possible.
The object of the Government in introducing this measure was to correct our adverse trade balance - the new duties have already bad that effect; and to provide work for our people. We could not pay our way by cutting one another’s hair. I remind honorable senators who have complained so much about the price the farmers have to pay for their agricultural implements that the best market that our primary producers can have is the home market. Before a large home market can be built up we must increase our population; but before we increase our population, we should provide work not only for the people who come here, and also for the sons and daughters of those who already live in Australia, who have the right to look to us to provide careers for their children. We have no objection to overseas people who are of a desirable class and character adopting this country as their own. This Government has never placed an obstacle in the way of those people coming here; but it has a large and sympathetic heart for our own people. It is natural, I suppose for Australian parents to give to their own progeny more consideration than they are prepared to give to the progeny of the people of other countries, and that attitude is reflected to some extent in the actions of the Australian governments. The Commoonwealth Government has acted wisely in introducing this tariff, although we expected it to have a more rapid effect on the establishment of new industries in this country. I am anxious that the ship of state should once more be placed on an even keel, and the only way to do that is to give more employment to our own people. This country cannot be prosperous while there are hundreds of thousands of its citizens out of work. They cannot buy beer oi’ tobacco; some of them cannot even buy bread.
– This tariff has been in operation for two years, and yet has not provided additional employment.
– I have already stated that the Government expected that the tariff would have a more rapid effect on the establishment of new industries in this country. It is unsafe for any country, and particularly a young country like Australia, to have an unemployed army of. 400,000 able-bodied men. What an enormous increase in every kind of production there would be if those men were absorbed in various industries. I am prepared to adopt this tariff, no matter how drastic, nor how offensive it may be to other countries, provided that it provides employment for our own people. What is the sense of buying goods from other countries, and particularly from countries in which the standard of living is much lower than that in Australia, and keeping their people in employment while at the same time our own people are out of work and suffering hunger. We hear a lot about a man looking for work and praying to God that he may not find it. Not many Australians cun be placed in that category. Most of them are only too anxious to find work, so as to be under no obligation to anybody. The previous Administration is mainly responsible for our acute financial position. The old gold digger who dug out many nuggets, thinking that the supply was everlasting, made no provision for the future. Similarly, the Bruce-Page Government had the idea that the fount from which it procured loan moneys was inexhaustible.
– Did not the members of this Government, when in Opposition, charge the late Administration with being niggardly with respect to the expenditure of loan money?
– I have no recollection of that. I remember that two years before this Government took office the credit of this country had vanished. That was due to the extravagance, not of this Government, but of the previous Government. I am not apologizing for any faults that may be found in the scheme which this Government has devised in an effort to overcome our financial difficulties. I urge honorable senators to give a quick passage to the tariff. I shall not blame them for expressing their opinions on the floor of this chamber, because that is their duty as representatives of the people, but I ask them not to waste so much time in discussing the .tariff as to embarrass the country and themselves. There has, in another place, been a long and exhaustive discussion on the tariff, and from what knowledge I have of the Constitution, I consider that a lengthy debate in this chamber would be futile, because we can do nothing with it. Honorable senators would therefore bc wise to curtail the discussion so as Co allow themselves to spend more time in their own homes.
– Wo have listened to a diversity of .views on the tariff, and at this stage it is difficult to contribute anything new to the discussion. But I desire to say something about the tariff, and I even go so far as to claim that the time spent in debating it is time well spent. We could not have a more important subject be fore’ us; indeed, no subject touches the welfare of the people more closely than this. Although it may be true that the Senate had occasion to discuss tariffs before I had the honour of being a member of this chamber, that does not alter the fact that wo are now engaged in the discussion of the most important tariff schedule that has ever been before honorable senators. It may be said that that cannot be so, that we have had tariffs of all varieties, but it is well to remember that on this occasion we are discussing not an isolated and independent tariff, but a tariff which is cumulative in its effect upon other tariffs already in operation.
One peculiarity of our tariffs is that their operation has been in one direction only. A few days ago, Senator Lynch recalled the fact that at an earlier stage in my short career in the Senate, I had referred to something as being a ratchet movement which operated only in one direction. That is the movement which has characterized our tariffs. No one can deny that the general tendency of our tariffs has been upwards. A summary of the tariff which was recently made by a representative body shows that in 1908, when a. general revision of the tariff took place, only eight items in the schedule provided for ad valorem duties of 40 per cent, and over, and only two of those were over 45 per cent. In the’ Bruce-Page tariff of 1928, 259 items and sub-items provided for ad valorem duties of 40 per cent, and over. The different tariff amendments which are now before us in a consolidated form have increased the number of those items by 323, so that now over 582 items and sub-items will provide for ad valorem duties of 40 per cent, and over. It is difficult to establish a negative and sometimes dangerous to affirm it but I think that I can safely say that no supporter of this tariff or of any other tariff can point to a single reduction in any item worth considering. It does not follow, because we have gone so far in’ tariff making without serious loss to our country, that wo can continue indefinitely the process of increasing tariffs, because the effects are cumulative and not independent. Let me take a simple and homely illustration of what has been described as a “ratchet movement”. A tennis net which is operated by ratchet movement can be raised and improved as it is raised, but once the ratchet is turned one fraction of an inch too much the whole structure is brought down in ruins. “What I fear is that in making this tariff, we may take one movement too much. Frankly, I fear that the enactment of this tariff may lead to disaster. I hope that my forebodings will not be realized, because it would be no consolation to rae, if disaster did occur, to be able to say, “ I told you so “. Whether that is likely or not to bc the result is the question that I now desire to discuss, and I shall discuss it, I hope, in a temperate and unbiased frame of mind. As other honorable senators have said, this is not a question of protection Or frectrade. I hope that wo shall hear no more of that, because we have already heard too much of it, and thai, we shall hear no more from honorable senators who say that those who object to the tariff because it goes too far, are opposed to the establishment of Australian industries. Senator Barnes has said that he does not care even if we appear to be offensive to other countries so long as we attain the end which he has in view. I shall not go so far as to say that I disregard the feelings of other countries, but I claim that wo, who think many duties much too high, have just as strong a desire as the Minister has to achieve the end in view. The only quarrel between us is as to the methods to be adopted. It is necessary that some of the well-known and indeed hackneyed arguments used in connexion with the tariff should be dropped. One of them is the story of sending money out of the country. A strong appeal is made to those who regard the matter superficially, by presenting to them the view that everything we import into this country has to be paid for with money that we send out of it. In the ordinary course of trade, no money leaves this country. It is only when we reach an abnormal condition, in which our ordinary trade has broken down, that we are compelled - as we were regrettably compelled this very year - to provide for the export of some of our money. Honorable senators will remember, however, that that had to be done by legislative action. Ordinarily, we do not send money out of the country. Whatever goods come here are by way of exchange, which lies at the basis of all trade. Nothing comes in that is not paid for with goods that have gone out.
During the course of this debate, many ninepins and strawmen have been set up so that they might be knocked down with considerable vigour. My close companion, Senator Duncan, and my friend Senator Crawford, have been particularly active in the scattering of the ninepins and the knocking over of the straw men. But no one has ventured to argue that in this matter we are discussing the question of protection or freetrade.
Perhaps at the outset I should put the view that a very special obligation to discuss this matter rests upon the Senate as the second chamber of our Parliament, because, as senators, we represent, not any particular parts of States, but the whole of the States. There may appear to be at times a conflict of interests between different parts ofa State. We know that the different States have their primary-producing interests, their industrial interests, and their other interests. None the less, however, the fact remains that, as St. Paul has told us, we are members one of another, and we share in the same prosperity when we are blessed with it. Our present condition shows how closely we are bound together; because, at the moment, we are all sunk in a common adversity. The grave complaint has been made by the primary-producing interests that they have not received a fair share of the favours which parliaments have had to bestow. They complain that, while everything which they find necessary for the production of what they have to sell has to be paid for at an artificial price, nothing can bo done to raise the prices of what they themselves have to sell. In spite of all that has been said about the protection that has been afforded to the farmer, that is an actual fact; whatever protection has been afforded to him has been merely legislative recognition of the fact that there is ground for his complaint that he does not share in the benefits that accrue from the tariff. There may be various answers to his complaint, but one of them certainly is not that which has so often been put forward, namely, that protection is of advantage to him in that it provides him with a home market. Hearing persons talk about the home market that is provided for the farmer, one might think that it is the duty of the wheat-grower to deliver his wheat where it has to be sold. That is no part of his duty. No two prices are obtained by either the wheat-grower or the wool-grower for the wheat or the wool that they produce; they sell the whole of their wool and wheat at the same price. It does not in the least matter whether it is consumed in Melbourne or Middlesex; a world’s price rules for it, and that is all that they can get.
Sen a tor Daly. - But in Middlesex they have bought Russian wheat, while in Australia only Australian wheat is purchased.
– That is irrelevant to anything that I am discussing at the moment.
– It is pertinent.
– I am not able to see. that it is either relevant or pertinent.
-Is the honorable senator prepared to contend that the cost of sending wheat abroad has not some influence on the average price?
– I do not know whether it has or has not. All that I know is that two different prices are not obtained by the Australian farmer for the wheat that he produces.
The view has been put by Senator Crawford that our capacity to purchase from overseas is very limited, and that the only way in which we can increase it is to find work for our people, which can be done only by protecting existing industries and making it possible to establish new ones. The Assistant Minister (Senator Dooley) last night expressed the same view; and the Leader of the Senate (Senator Barnes) a while ago repeated it, but in different language. The position that we have reached shows that each of those honorable senators is guilty of obscure thinking, to say the least. It is admitted - and, as Senator Glasgow has pointed out, this is a somewhat pessimistic admission to have to make - thatwe cannot export our secondary products. The very fact that it is necessary for us to have high protective duties in order to hold our home market, is in itself the strongest proof that it is impossible for us to compete in an outside market; that is to say, if the whole case for the protection of secondary industries is rightly founded.
– A high tariff does not prevent America from exporting.
– I am dealing with the admission that we cannot export our secondary products.
– After fourteen years of misrule.
– The position was the same before the commencement of that fourteen years to which the honorable senator refers, and it was’ not altered by anything that happened during that fourteen years. But if the position be as I have stated, it follows that our secondary products can only have as their market our Australian people. What then happens? Take theboot industry as an example. I understand that in Collingwood alone there is a sufficient number of factories, working not at anything like full time, to supply the whole of Australia with boots. There is no need for me to refer to the evidence of Mr. Eoletta concerning an industry of which we knew nothing a few years ago, the knitting industry. At the present time, knitting machines are lying idle throughout the country, the production having overtaken the con- sumption. Similar conditions exist in many other industries. It is beginning at the wrong end to seek to multiply the number of our factory hands without arranging for an increasein the number of our primary producers. Those who are so prone to brand as favourers of hewers of wood and drawers of water, any who consider that this tariff has gone to extremes, should bear that in mind. I do not know why those who are engaged in primary production should be sneered at as though they were merely hewers of wood and drawers of water, or why it should be considered that there is somethingmenial in their occupation. The honorable and gallant senator from Queensland (Senator Glasgow) is one of these hewers of wood and drawers of water. So also are my honorable friends, Senator Lynch, Senator Plain and Senator
Guthrie, who gave us such an interesting discourse yesterday. It is quite clear that the market for growing secondary industries must be provided by the man on the land; and it appears to me that Our policy should be to make it profitable for more and more men to go on the land. I can understand how, by that means, a market could be- provided for those who are carrying on our secondary industries.
I have said that it is the duty of the Senate, because it represents the States as a whole, to consider this tariff and its bearing on every part of every State. I do not reflect upon those who represent individual constituencies; doubtless they are trying to hold the balance fairly. But we, in a special sense, have the right to consider this matter from the viewpoint of the States as a whole. In addition, being the States’ House, we have the right to look even beyond the boundaries of our own States, and to bear in mind the effect upon Australia, as a whole, of any legislation that is placed before us for consideration. When we look at the effect of a. measure of this sort upon Australia a3 a whole, what do we find?
– That it was responsible for the maintenance of national solvency.
– That is an aspect of the matter that I had not in mind at the moment; I was thinking of the dangerous and growing movement in favour of secession in Western Australia. That State complains that it has been so misgoverned that it should be allowed to secede from this indissoluble federal union into which it entered. The primary producers in Tasmania and in the State from which the “ interjectergeneral ,’ (Senator O’Halloran) comes, are complaining in the same way. It may be true that they have other complaints apart from the tariff. The tariff, however, is the chief source of their complaint. It, the Arbitration Act, and the Navigation Act, are all branches of the same tree, that of too much governmental interference. As I have said, we are entitled, and indeed bound, to consider the effect upon the States of this union of any legislation that we are asked to pass. Let me return a little more closely to the subject that we are discussing. It is over twenty years since the late Alfred Deakin, the arch apostle of protection, raised his cry against the black flag of prohibition. That black flag has been raised in this tariff, not in isolated instances, but as- its general feature. So far as the general tariff is concerned, it may be said that the black flag takes all of the items under its fold, while the 70 or 80 embargoes are admittedly under it. Having regard, too, to the conditions under which we live, to the 30 per cent, exchange rate, the 10 per cent, primage duty, the 10 per cent, statutory addition, and to the ordinary landing costs, it will be found that the so-called British preferential tariff, with its wearisome repetition of items ranging from 45 per cent, to 60 per cent., also comes under the black flag of prohibition. The logical outcome of the views that have been put by certain honorable senators is prohibition, but no one has openly professed that he stands for prohibition.
– If we can produce the goods, all of us stand for prohibition.
– I can merely reply that the honorable senator desires to put Australia in the position of Tibet as it is to-day, or of China as it was in the days of the Great Wall. Any person who thinks that a country can live to itself in these modern times has a very poor conception of what are the responsibilities of a nation. While talking about the British preferential duties, over which flies the black flag of prohibition, I point out that very careful opinions compiled by those well competent to speak upon the subject indicate that the very items which, under our tariffs, come in free, really have to bear what amounts to a duty of 6-74 per cent., taking into account all the factors that have to be contended with when importing any commodity. 1
With regard to the embargo, I desire to join with those who have protested against the use of a power given under the Customs Act for one purpose for a totally different purpose from that intended. But, although what has been done is, as we think, misguided, and, to a certain extent, a misuse of power, it is at least done openly. I deprecate more strongly what I regard as the imposition under the honoured name of protection of duties which amount to prohibition.
Those who are responsible for this tariff must face one of two positions; either they knew the effect of these extraordinary duties but were afraid to proclaim it, or they put forward proposals without having, adequately considered what was likely to be the result. I submit that this tariff was meant to be prohibitive, and I turn to the Minister for Trade and Customs for a proof of that. Quite recently the honorable gentleman said -
The Inst Federal Ministry stood for revenue duties more than protective duties. The duties were just high enough to allow the foreigner to capture the market and to cause our secondary industries to languish.
You, sir,- are aware, in a general way, of the duties that were introduced in 1921 by Senator Massy Greene, whose absence to-day, in the special circumstances, we very much regret. You are also aware, sir, of the Bruce-Page tariff that was sponsored by the late Mr. Pratten. It will be remembered that the general view was that those tariffs were extremely high, an opinion that is borne out by a reference to the schedule. Yet the present Minister for Customs says that they were revenue and not protective tariffs. In other words, the honorable gentleman proclaims to the world that so long as goods come in under a tariff, it is a revenue tariff. It follows that the only tariff that he regards as a protective tariff is one that prohibits goods from coining in at all. When honorable senators regard some of the matters that have come before the Tariff Board, they will see how that view has permeated the whole position. It is reported by’ the board that in his evidence given in May, 1931, Mr. Crick, on behalf of Messrs. W. J. Plumb and Company, stated, when dealing with picks, shovels, forks, and agricultural implements -
As certain of the more important lines included in the tariff items are still being imported, particularly picks and mattocks, we find it necessary to ask for the. higher duties.
Honorable senators will have received, as f did, a circular from the Maize Products Company, in which it is stated -
When we applied for a duty on this ‘product, it was not intended to enable us to increase our prices, but to shut importations out and to enable us to increase our production.
There are two instances, taken haphazard, of persons who think that, so long as any goods are coming in, the protective policy is not operative.
It seems to me to be difficult to say what is the genesis of this tariff. It is quite clear that it could not have been prepared in detail by the Government. The general election took place on the 12th October, 1929, the Government was sworn in on the 22nd October, it met the House on the 20th November, and the schedule was brought down on the 21st. November ! Senator Colebatch offered a suggestion as to its preparation, but I can only arrive at the conclusion that the method adopted was not that suggested by Senator Colebatch; that the tariff owes its origin to methods resembling those of the unjust steward -
So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, “ How much 0west thou unto my lord?” And he said. “An hundred measures of oil.” And he said unto him, “ Take thy Mli and sit down quickly, and write fifty “. Then said he to another, “And how much 0” est thou?” And he said. “An hundred measures of wheat”. And he said unto him, “Take thy bill, and write four score “.
This Government reversed the process. It said to the applicant, “And how much per cent, of protection hast thou got?” and he answered, “Sixty per cent.” And the Government said unto him, “ Take thv bill and sit down quickly, and write 75 per cent.” It occurs to me that the method adopted by this Government was simply to say, “ Whatever the duty is, let us increase it”. That is not the manner in which it was intended that; the tariff should bc prepared. Parliament recognized the danger of that kind of thing happening, and in 1921 it passed the Tariff Board Act, which provides that the Minister shall refer a matter to the board, and that the Minister shall not take any action until he has a report from the board. It has been, submitted that the attitude taken by the Government in defiance of that provision amounts to a breach of the law. Speaking in strictly legal sense, there is something to be said on both sides about that. The view put in another place was, “ No, that is merely a political offence, and the only punishment that can follow is a political one. If we break that law, the people can eject us f rom office “. Frankly, I am not perfectly certain that that is right. It is a principle of the common law that disobedience of a statute is in itself an offence.When the Minister brings these duties before Parliament without having obtained any report upon the items from the Tariff Board, a great deal of argument could be put before a legal tribunal to support the view that, by that very act, he was committing an offence against the law.
– In those circumstances, there were 983 offences in connexion with the 1,068 odd items that were contained in the previous schedule.
– I do not follow the honorable senator. The Tariff Board has not been in existence from the beginning. Unless the honorable senator can show that there are items in this and the 1928 schedule which were not reported upon by the Tariff Board, his interjection is not to the point. The question is whether, in bringing down items without having a report made upon them, the Minister has been guiltyeither of a breach of parliamentary duty or of a legal offence.
– This Government has increased the average of inquiries by ten a year.
– That does not in the least matter. It would be futile for a person charged with stealing an article to plead that on several other occasions he had refrained from stealing other articles. The question is: Did the Government on this occasion break the law, what are consequences of that breaking of the law, and is there any subsequent legal or political punishment? Mr. Forde appears to have recognized that the position required defending, for he said -
The times were abnormal and to have waited until all the matters hadbeen inquired into would have meant unnecessary delay which would have been disastrous to Australia.
Who gave Mr. Forde, or any other individual, authority to set aside an act of Parliament merely because it was thought that by obeying it the Government would not be able to take the steps which it thought ought to bc taken? But, apparently, the Prime Minister and Mr. Forde have now begun to realize that that declaration was hardly sufficient, because now they say that these embargoes and surcharges have been imposed, not as part of the Government’s protective policy, but as part of ‘the policy for restoring our trade balance. I do not care which it was. I submit, that it was merely panic action on the part of the Government to step in with its embargoes and surcharges t.6 do something which the ordinary operations of trade would have done much better. Of course, the effect of a high rate of exchange is to stop imports, as the Prime Minister recognized when he declared that it might stop the importation of goods useful to Australia, while permitting luxuries to come in. Such an attitude is typical of the modern legislative democrat, who is confident’ that his knowledge is wider than that of the corporate knowledge of the whole community, and forgets that we are part of a social organization which has grown through hundreds, if not thousands, of years, and that the tendency of the modern inter-relation of trade and trade transactions is that trade relations right themselves by a natural and non-jolting process. The effect of what the Commonwealth Government has done has been to create evils not easily foreseen by those who do these things. The imposition of embargoes or surcharges is not a matter lightly to be considered, and has farreaching effects, such as no man, whether he be a Leonardo da Vinci, who is supposed to have been the most learned man in the world, or Francis Michael Forde, who is not, cau foresee.
The Tariff Board sets out certain facts that must be taken into account. They were dealt with at some length yesterday by Senator Guthrie, One is that under existing rates of duty some industries are earning substantial and, in some cases, abnormal profits, in one case as much as 100 per cent. Another is that the increased duties asked for represent, in some instances, a measure of protection out of all proportion to the employment given. The board cites cases in which the excess cost to the public has been more than the total outlay of Australian manufacturers on wages, coal, power anddepreciation. In one particular case mentioned, the total excess cost to the public is stated to have been £9,000, whilst the total wages paid by the industry amounted to only £2,000.
The board says that often the loss of revenue is out of proportion to the wages paid by the protected industry. In the case of petrol it says that the total gain would be £90,000, and the loss of revenue between £1,250,000 and £1,660,000. Several instances are given in which the duty has placed a serious burden on the users of the goods in a futile attempt to establish an industry. The board points out that some industries already hold practically the whole of the Australian market, and instances soap-making, pointing out that less than 1 per cent, of the total consumption of soap is now imported. It also deals with the risk of jeopardizing our export trade. By the way, the Minister for Trade and Customs is not unaware of this, because, when this subject was under discussion in another place, he referred to the risk of putting on certain duties against timber from British North Borneo lest it might imperil our trade relations with that dependency. Why British North Borneo should stand in a different position from’ any other part of the Empire I fail to understand. Another type of case the board has had to consider was whether requests were ill-considered, and it mentions in its report instances in which applicants for increased duties have not been willing to stand up to their requests, and, in fact, did not appear to give evidence before the board.
– A case of that sort is mentioned in to-day’s newspapers.
– Some of them are mentioned in the report of the board. Apparently, the applicants have been afraid of publicity.
– In some cases manufacturers have said that they did not want the duties proposed.
– Yes. Manufacturers have gone to the board and disclaimed any desire for increased duties. Did the Minister for Trade and Customs or the Government consider these things when this tariff was being framed ?
– Yes; every one of them.
– Ministers must be marvellously able men if, in the brief time at their disposal, they could do all this, and consider all the consequences; but, of course, I realize that Senator Daly does not desire his interjection to be taken seriously.
-. - That the people of Australia could not pay for the goods was the only consideration we could give in the case of a majority of the items affected by the embargoes.
– The honorable senator admits that the Government did not take into account the things which the Tariff Board was specially created to deal with, and which the act provides shall be taken into account before the proper duty to be imposed is arrived at.
– The board did not know the country’s financial position. The Government was not aware of the position of Australia until it assumed office.
– That is another of the matters for which I blame the Government. I shall never be a harsh critic of governments or individuals. I like to give people, whether as individuals or in a corporate sense, credit for acting honorably, but the position is that the Government, yielding to pressure, imposed these duties as protective duties, and is now afraid to stand up to them as such, and says, “We did this because we were forced to do it on account of the financial position of the country.”
– The fact that we balanced the trade of the country is sufficient to exonerate the Government from any blame.
– To suppose that trade would not have balanced itself by reason of the poverty of the people, and without the intervention of the Government, is another of those instances in which the omnipotence of Cabinet is assumed.
The next thing I should like to consider is whether the results which the Minister for Trade and Customs and his colleagues in general forecast as likely to be achieved have been achieved. Let me take the Minister first, because he was the most exuberant in his forecast of what was likely to happen. Two years ago he said that, as a result of the Federal Government’s two tariff, schedules, 50,000 jobs had been found immediately, and that 100,000 more would be wait- ing when additional plant was available. It may be that he ‘ said 50,000 more would be waiting. Has Mr. Forde’s forecast been fulfilled? Is it ever likely to be fulfilled? Not long ago Senator Lynch quoted Patrick Henry’s words, “ I have no light to guide my feet but the lamp of experience “. In trying to forecast the effect of this tariff we have no light to guide us but the lamp of experience. We cannot look into the future; we can best judge it by the past. Let us, therefore, look back a little at what has happened in the past. In 1921, Mr. Massy Greene brought forward a tariff containing 429 main items. After speaking highly of the officers of his department, he said -
I ask honorable members to give the tariff the same sort of unbiased consideration, and their assistance in making it as perfect an instrument as possible, to accomplish the object we all have in view, namely, the truest welfare of our country. We stand on the threshhold of great developments. The door of opportunity is open widely for us. The path beyond lies clear and plain if we have only the courage to tread it, and put our country’s interests before other considerations, bending to no influence, yielding to no pressure, and refusing to be diverted one hairsbreath from our purpose; pressing on in our endeavour to lead our country to the goal of national greatness. If we have only the courage to do this, besides rendering a great service to our country, we shall also buttress that Empire of which we form a part by building up in this great southernland a nation furnished with all that is needed to make it selfcontained and truly great.
Was that roseate promise realized? Ask Mr. Pratten. Introducing in 1927 a tariff which dealt with 135 main items, Mr. Pratten said -
The present resolution can best bc described as an adjustment of the tariff so designed that our national development shall bc assisted.
Se concluded by saying -
I feel sure that the Government’s proposals, so far as they go, will achieve their object- the further development of Australian industries, both primary and secondary, and the swinging over to Great Britain of a good volume of the present foreign import trade done with us in the items affected. We Australians own a vast heritage. Within the shores of our island continent there are natural advantages and wealth almost unequalled in the history of civilized races. Within our borders are to be found a variety of climates and most classes of raw materials. In these proposals we are making a distinct advance in the direction of giving added employment, and in providing remunerative in dustries to our own people, and we are also offering opportunities to our kinsmen in the Mother Country to increase their trade with us.
Were those high hopes realized? Ask Mr. Fenton. On the 21st November, 1929, Mr. Fenton introduced a tariff schedule of about300 items, and said -
About 300 items are covered, and they are all designed to have a protective incidence. We trust, as the result of the tabling of these schedules, many of our languishing industries will be revived, and much additional employment provided for our people-
Was that fond hope realized? Ask Mr. Forde. On the 11th December, 1929, when introducing the second schedule, which was an amendment of Mr. Fenton’s schedule, Mr. Forde said -
I deem it my privilege to deal with the general principles that have guided the Ministry in giving the additional measure of protection that the manufacturers of this country will be afforded as a result of the Government’s action since it has assumed office. Those proposals arc submitted in accordance with a definite promise made by the Leader of the Government during the last election campaign. He stated in his policy speech that-
Labour stands for the fullest possible protection to all industries, primary and secondary.
The Prime Minister made that promise in accordance with the platform of the Federal Labour party which stands for the effective protection of Australian industries.
He added, incidentally, that 1,100 requests for higher duties had been made to the department, and that he himself had received 350 deputations on the subject.
– It seems to be a case of “ Tell us what you want, and it will be given to you “.
– The only advantage of the breach of the law by which tariff schedules are brought down and duties collected in violation of the spirit, if not of the letter, of the Constitution is that we can. see how the tariff is operating before we deal with it. We are now, in November, 1931, considering a tariff which has been in existence in fact, though not in law, for two years, and we know how it has worked. What do we find? The latest bulletin issued by the Commonwealth Statistician contains figures showing the number of unemployed, and the percentage of unemployed persons to the population, for the four quarters of 1930, and the first two quarters of 1931.
They are these -
Since the beginning of 1930, immediately after the imposition of this tariff in its amorphous state, the increase in the unemployment has been steady and large. There has been an upward trend in unemployment even in those sections of industry in which we would expect to find that the tariff had had beneficial results; I refer to our manufacturing industries. I f we compare the last quarter of 1930 with the first two quarters of 1931 in certain groups of manufacturing trades, we arrive at the following startling results : -
Figures are frequently wearying and hard to grasp; but those figures show clearly the steady rise in unemployment in the very industries in which we might have expected that the tariff would have operated beneficially. They are taken from official sources; I extracted them from the Argus of 17th October last.
It is sometimes claimed that although the number of factories shows a decrease, the number of operatives employed has actually increased. The latest report of the Inspector of Factories for Victoria reveals that for the year ended 31st December, 1930, there were 366 fewer factories registered in Victoria than for the preceding year - the first year of the operation of the new tariff. No matter how we test the figures, they show an increase in unemployment since this tariff has been in operation. Some honorable senators who advocate a policy of high protection have adopted a line of argument with which it is difficult to deal; they say that had it not been for the tariff, things would be a good deal worse than they are.
SenatorO’Halloran. - Undoubtedly that is the position.
SenatorBRENNAN. - It is so easy to say that and yet so difficult, to prove it. It is even more difficult, indeed impossible, to disprove it. The timberworkers said that if higher duties were imposed on timber 10,000 additional men would be employed by the end of the year. Although their anticipations were not realized,they were not dismayed, for they said that, had it not been for the higher duties, the 9,000 men who had been kept working would have been thrown out of employment.
The advocates of high protection claimed that Australia’s fiscal policy would neutralize the effects of the worldwide depression by making this country so self contained as to be unaffected by world conditions. [Extension of time granted.]I thank honorable senators for their courtesy in granting me an extension of time. I realize the necessity for compressing my remarks; but the subject with which we are dealing is so important, and covers so wide a field, that it is difficult to say all that I desire to say regarding it in the time ordinarily allotted under the Standing Orders. I am consoled by the knowledge that to many other honorable senators the same concession has been granted.
I now propose to carry the war, to some extent, into the camp of the enemy. We have been branded as freetraders, and as the harmers of Australian industry; but I adopt the view put forward by many lifelong protectionists in another place, that the greatest enemies of protection are those who are forcing on these high duties, which are creating a revolt in the minds of the people. Those who, in the past, have been strong advocates of protection are beginning to feel that the policy of the Government goes rather beyond the limits, if not, indeed, far be- youd them. The views of the Melbourne Ige in regard to protection are well known throughout. Australia. Whenever that journal takes snuff, the high tariffists throughout Australia prepare to sneeze, iud whatever the Age lias said in the matter of the tariff has usually “ gone “. But, on the loth October last, it had a leading article on the tariff, in which it said -
The nation’s fiscal policy and this tariff schedule have no common identity … Its basic purpose is not to protect local industry, but to correct a dangerously adverse trade balance . . . No protectionist would seek Co defend it … lt is futile to describe the schedule as protection run mad, when every intelligent observer knows that ninny items are no integral part of the protectionist’s creed . . Ass a permanent element in our fiscal arrangements, a. great deal of the schedule is unthinkable.
When that great journal remarked that this tariff was only part of the measures to be taken for correcting the trade balance, it did not express the view of those who introduced it, because, as I have already indicated, the ex-Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Fenton), the present Minister (Mr. Forde), and the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin), all declared that it was introduced as part of the protectionist policy of the Government. But many supporters of the tariff are now running to cover. Senator Dooley said yesterday that he hoped it would be a temporary measure, and he believed that it was designed to be a temporary measure. I do not know whether he thinks that the more temporary it is the better.
– I said that the Government would review the tariff policy during the next five or six years.
– It will be quite prepared to do that, no doubt, if it remains in power. I have quoted the opinion expressed by the newspaper which has been the greatest force for protection in Australian history. If the founders of the policy of protection, as it was originally instituted and advocated for many years by the Age, were now alive, they would be aghast at the extremes to which it has run throughout Australia.
We have been reminded of Mr. Foletta’s opinions on the tariff almost ad nauseam. Sir James Mitchell, the Premier of West ern Australia, when passing through Melbourne the other day, stated that he had been a protectionist all his life, but he would sooner have freetrade than this tariff. Mr. Herbert Brookes, whom I have already said was born and nurtured under protection, recently remarked -
I spent the best years of my life as chairman of the Tariff Board in an attempt to lick this abomination in thu Australian tariff into scientific shape, and I was thwarted by the action of the Minister, of Customs. Now the present Minister is doing the same thing. The Tariff Board should not be at the mercy of the Minister.
The tariff was intended not to be at the Minister’s mercy.
– The board entered a protest in that regard in. its last report.
– Yes. No Minister has treated the Tariff Board with the contempt that the present Minister has shown it. I do not propose to treat its reports with contempt. I stated, in almost my first speech iri this chamber, that I was prepared to walk by faith a little in regard to the first and most difficult problem that came before vis. The full difficulties to be met in compiling a tariff schedule which would operate fairly were not fully realized by me, I admit, until I caine to consider the items in it. I now see what is involved in this schedule, and I perceive the danger of attempting anything in .the nature of rash or ill-considered action.
The onus will rest on the Minister in charge of the tariff to show what mandate he has for the duties proposed, and if he cannot show that the increases provided in the tariff have been recommended by the Tariff Board, they will not have my support. Of course, I may make exceptions to tha t general rule, by reason of argument that the Minister or his associates may advance; but, broadly, that will be my attitude to the schedule. The Tariff Board was intended to act as a sort of clearing-house in regard to duties proposed, and it has opportunities of studying them. Each of its members, I suppose, has a strongly protectionist bias. I know that they have a full sense of responsibility. If they report either against or in favour of particular duties, they must have strong reasons for doing so, and I shall accept their guidance. I hope that in dealing with the schedule, it will not be merely a case of calling on the items and letting the Opposition, so to speak, show cause against particular duties. That is not the method that should be followed ; every item should be justified. The Minister should say why a particular duty has been imposed, whether the Tariff Board has reported in favour of it, and if not, what special circumstances actuated the Government in including it in the schedule. So far as I am concerned, the onus will always rest on those in charge of the schedule to show why we should alter the law.
Sitting suspended from6.13 to 8 p.m.
– I ask leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Private business talcing precedence after8 p.m.,
– I move -
That all papers and copies of testimonials, if any, relating to the application of William Patrick Foley, of 164 Belmore-road, Hurstville, near Sydney, New South Wales, for an hotel licence at the late Naval Station, Jervis Bay, Federal Territory, be laid on the table of the Senate.
As the Assistant Minister (Senator Dooley) has given me an assurance that he intends to lay on the table of the Senate the papers connected with the application referred to in my motion, my object in moving it has been achieved.
– I have obtained the file of papers relating to the application of Mr. W. P. Foley for the granting of a liquor licence in respect of certain premises leased by him at J ervis Bay, and it is available to any honorable senator who wishes to peruse it.
The file shows that there has been exact compliance with the requirements of the Liquor Ordinance. Mr. Foley’s application for a licence was supported by testimonials as to good character, fitness and capacity, from Messrs. P. A. W. Buckley, of Forest-road, Arncliffe; J. Buckley,- of Church-street, Willoughby; and J. Bailey, of Pitt-street, Sydney.
No other testimonials were given or necessary. In accordance with licensing practice the licensing inspector made searching inquiries into the character of the applicant, and caused the signature of the three gentlemen, to whom I have referred, to be verified. The inspector reported also on the suitability of the premises for the purposes of a hotel. The licensing magistrate refused the application on the ground that the reasonable requirements of the neighbourhood did not justify the granting of it.
I have received a letter from Mr. Foley, which I have been requested to read, because he feels that his position may have been misrepresented, and that some of his personal friends from Western Australia, who are members of the Senate, may think that his conduct in regard to this matter has not been all that it might have been. I am reluctant to read this letter, but in fairness to Mr. Foley, I think I ought to do so. It is as follows: - 174 Belmore-road, Hurstville, 9th November, 1931.
To the Assistant Minister for Works,
For several weeks past, Senator Dunn has been endeavouring to create an impression that I was favoured in my tender for a lease of certain, . property at Jervis Bay. As a matter of fact, I tendered in the open market, and my application was accepted. That being so, I now intend investing £1,000 to make the proposition worth while; it will also necessitate the employment of a staff of five, which under present conditions, is a step in assisting the unemployment problem. Senator Dunn’s outburst is no doubt actuated by the fact that some time ago he came to my home-
– The reference is being made, not by Senator Dooley, but by the writer of the letter.
– May I suggest that as Senator Dooley would not be allowed to make any remarks in regard to Senator Dunn which that honorable gentleman regarded as objectionable, he should not be allowed to read such remarks from a letter.
– I rise to a point of order. As the applicant for this licence is lodging an appeal against the magistrate’s decision, is not the matter sub judice and, if so, would it not be out of order for us to discuss it?
– Is the Assistant Minister able to tell me whether the matter is sub judice ?
– No, Mr. President.
– In view of the fact that Senator Dunn has not discussed the subject-matter of his motion, I think that the Assistant Minister could well afford to follow his example. As to Senator Foil’s point of order, I point out that the laying of the papers on the table of the Senate has nothing whatever to do with the court, even if the matter is sub judice. Senator DOOLEY.- I said that I was reluctant to read the letter, but I felt that I ought to do so in fairness to Mr. Foley; but in the circumstances, I will not read any more of it. The papers in regard to the application are available for inspection by honorable senators, and are in order in every respect. Senator Dunn’s references to the actions of the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr. Blakeley) and myself in regard to this application were entirely groundless.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 29th October (vide page 1321), on. motion by Senator Dunn -
That, in thu opinion of this Senate, an amendment of the Constitution to provide for the abolition of the Senate should be submitted by referendum to the electors at the next general election, and that the passage of this resolution bc an instruction to the Government to introduce the necessary legislation.
– As the subject with which my motion deals has received considerable publicity in the press of late, I do not desire to discuss it at length. I did intend to read a newspaper article in which the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) made a scathing attack upon the Senate, but I shall not now inflict it upon honorable senators. As a Labour man I am, of course, pledged to work for the abolition of the Senate.
– I second the motion. I am surprised that my colleague has not taken it more seriously. I have never been able to find either good sense or consistency in the bicameral legislative system. The mere fact that the Senate is supposed to function as the special representative of the States, all of which have equal representation here, is not sufficient to justify its existence. I ask honorable senatorsto consider the enormous amount of useless repetition that is necessary in legislative business because of the maintenance of two Houses of Parliament. We know very well that practically all the important bills are introduced in another place. I feel safe in saying that very few honorable senators read the .Hansard reports of the debates on these various measures in another place. It may be said that, as a rule, we merely serve up in our speeches attenuated scraps of arguments that have been worn threadbare elsewhere. Whatever intelligence there may be in one chamber is necessarily denied the possibility of functioning in the other. As politics have developed in modern times, we are elected not because we live in one State or another, but because we are members of certain political parties. We have party divisions in this chamber, just as they have them in the other; and it would he hypocrisy to deny it. That fact alone seems to me greatly to discount the value of a second chamber. We are divided absolutely on party lines on all matters of vital interest. It would, however, be better to abolish the House of Representatives than the Senate, and to increase the number of honorable senators. I hold that view because the members of this chamber are elected on a much broader basis than the members of the House of Representatives. Little factions in single electorates may sometimes drive a man out of public life; but that could not be so with State-wide constituencies, because one faction would, in most cases, counteract another. The choice of candidates would also be greater with wider constituencies. Intrigues which occur in connexion with the selection of candidates for the House of Representatives have the effect of lowering the moral standard of politicians, which, in the opinion of some people, is low enough already. Senate candidates cannot intrigue to the same extent as can candidates for the House of Representatives, who represent limited areas. Consequently, there is the possibility of a wider and wiser choice in the candidature for the Senate. I admit that in regard to the Senate publicity rather than, perhaps, real merit is the determining factor in the choice. There is no doubt that if a number of names are submitted to the elector and he has no opportunity of becoming personally acquainted with the persons possessing those names he will probably vote for the man who has received the most publicity. Publicity does not always denote merit, because .a candidate who iS, perhaps a champion prize fighter, aviator or athlete, and knows nothing at all about politics, might be elected in preference to another candidate who was really a statesman. But such a happening would be infrequent, and not likely to cause disaster. There seem to be very solid arguments in favour of the wider system of Senate election as against the limited system of election in respect of the other chamber. As the Constitution is at present framed, the House of Represent/atives has the greater power of originating legislation. The Government must have a majority in that chamber, but it is immaterial, from the constitutional point of view, whether it has a majority in the Senate. Therefore, one chamber has a much greater degree of importance in the public eye than the other. To that extent the Senate is largely neglected by the general public. I have had experience of the ignorance of the people as to the Constitution of this Parliament, because I have frequently received letters addressed to me as Senator Rae, M.H.R. I have been given so many fancy titles, such as “ honorable “ and “ right honorable “ that I have felt as if I were approaching the peerage. That shows that although federation has been in existence for 31 years, a large proportion of the people, not the most ignorant of them, do not know much about the Constitution under which they live. The general neglect on the part of the people to understand what the Senate- does, and why it exists, shows that it is more or less a superfluous wing of the Commonwealth legislature. We have now two Houses, but there is no better reason why there should not be three, four, or even five Houses to act as checks on, and balances against, each other. As a matter of fact, that is the position into which we are drifting. The interpretation of the Constitution has been so altered by legal decisions that we might almost set up the High Court as another legislature. Recently we have developed the Premiers Conference, the Loan Council, and other bodies, all of which have more or less dictatorial political powers. There is a tendency to subdivide the functions of this Parliament by the establishment of a number of small legislative bodies. That is derogatory of the true function’ of this Parliament, and it would be a distinct advantage if the responsibility for legislating rested solely on one House, so as to render it impossible for it to throw its responsibility for omissions or commissions upon another chamber. I recollect that many years ago, as a member of the New South Wales Parliament, which consists of two chambers - the Upper House being a nominee body - it was not uncommon for members of the lower chamber to promise the electors that they would vote for certain popular legislation, with the knowledge that they had arranged that when they had voted in favour of that legislation the members of the other chamber would mutilate or reject it altogether. In that way some members of the Assembly stooped to hypocrisy and humbug. That danger exists in regard to any double-barrelled legislature. Then again, the House which originates legislation has a tendency to use slipshod methods in the belief that the other chamber will rectify omissions or defects. But a legislature consisting of one chamber would have to be honest and virile. For that reason I favour the abolition of this chamber. I also object to the principle of the numerically smaller States having the same representation in the Senate as the larger States. The fact that federation had to be bought practically by the granting of this concession is no reason why it should be perpetuated.
– More repudiation !
SenatorRAE. - The honorable senator knows that I am prepared to vote in favour of Western Australia having the right to secede. Secession on the part of that State would, of course, be repudiation ofa federal contract. Words have never had any terrors for me. In some instances, repudiation would be a good thing, but that depends upon what’ is to be repudiated. If the honorable senator is making any insinuations against my honour I certainly repudiate them. There is no real, solid justification for a State with a huge area and a small population having the same political weight, in this chamber as a State with many times the population of the other. With regard to all the, proposals for amending the Constitution, whether in the direction of abolishing the Senate or in other directions, I suggest that we call a convention, similar to the original constitutional convention, throwing the Constitution into the melting pot, and making another which would be up to date. The development which has taken place since federation has rendered obsolete or unsuitable many provisions of the Constitution which at the time of their framing seemed fair and just. Instead of making piece-meal alterations which may undo one wrong to inflict another, it would be better if a popular convention were called to consider amendments suggested by responsible bodies, whether State Parliaments or other. The Constitution could then be re-modelled in the light of our 31 years’ experience of federation. The provision of new States, the sub-division of existing States, and the question whether the Commonwealth Parliament should have greater powers and those of the States be correspondingly reduced, are things interwoven with, or dependent on, each other, and therefore a convention should be called to put the Constitution into the melting pot.
– We have no right to put the Constitution into the melting pot.
– I know that, but there should beno objection to calling a convention to consider proposed amendments of the Constitution. I suggest that it should not be possible for parliamentarians only to remodel the Consti tution. In the constitution of some of the States of America there is a provision which enables the Constitution itself to be periodically reviewed, and the representatives at the convention called for that purpose must, consist of double the number of State legislators so that there must be at least 50 per cent, of new blood at the convention. By that means an opportunity is given to persons possessing special abilities, . who, for some reason or other, are not devoted to political life, to place their views before the convention. If such a convention were called in Australia, any recommendations emanating from it could be adopted by the Federal Parliament, and submitted to the people by way of referendum. In that way, we could have a general review and recasting of the Constitution.
This subject should be handled at a fulldress debate. I did not come prepared for that, butI have givenhonorable senators a few of my ideas. I am strongly of the opinion that sooner or later the many difficulties with which we are now faced, and others, equally, if not more, serious, which loom ahead, will necessitate the recasting of the Constitution. I trust, therefore, that my views will not be ridiculed, but seriously considered by those who have been given the task of handling the affairs of this country.
– The thought has occurred to me how once more the mountain has been in labour and brought forth merely a mouse. This proposal was specially brought’ before the Senate as the result of the decision of the Labour party, which, as we know, has, for some years, been in charge of the affairs of this country, not only in the federal sphere, but also in at least five out of the six States, and enjoying an extraordinary political sovereignty and unlimited power, it decided that it would be good and wise to abolish the Senate. When we ponder over this proposition many curious things occur to us. In the first place, it is bad for any constitutional change to have a party flavour, and when we examine this proposal, we must conclude that it originated not so many years ago in the fact that when an appeal was made to the electors in respect of the Senate the Labour party was given a rough handling. So rough was it that their numbers in this chamber were reduced to the strength of a corporal’s guard. The party decided that, since it could not secure in this chamber representation worthy of the name, the Senate should be abolished. 1 remind the two gentlemen who have spoken on the subject to-night that, when the Constitution itself was framed, the political parties of the day, to their eternal credit, did not seek to give even to the minutest detail of it a party flavour or interest of any sort whatever. Apparently, we have descended from that lofty political plateau, on which stood political leaders who disregarded party interests for the time being, and gave the best that was in -them, with the result that we obtained a Constitution which, up to date, has satisfied the most exacting demands of our most critical citizens, and has evoked the admiration of the outside world. We are now in the morass of political manoeuvring, which has led to its being seriously proposed that, because of a bad drubbing which a political party received when an appeal was made to the electors, we should undo the work of the Constitution-makers, and destroy a chamber which it took so much of the thought and effort of leading statesmen to construct. This would be a retrograde step. I feel sure, however, that any impartial judge, listening to these gentlemen, would have been struck forcibly, not by their seriousness, but by the desperate attempt that they made to be serious. Their heart was not in the job. They knew that, in attempting to give effect to a prominent plank in the platform of their party, they were attempting the impossible. They felt in their hearts that that plank was only a shell; that it was honeycombed and white-anted with insincerity; that it was not a real plank at all. On other occasions these gentlemen have shown that they can thunder and smite with considerable effect; but when it came to advancing for our acceptance this plank in the platform of their party, they did not thunder or smite worth a cent. It is a good thing for them that the Senate still lives. And why should it not ? May I remind them that on at least two historic occasions this Senate has proved itself of infinite value to the party to which they belong. I refer particularly, first, to an occasion in 1913, when an appeal was made to the electors, and the party in power in the other chamber found itself with a majority of this chamber hostile to it. What was the result? I am afraid that it is too often forgotten by the shallow critics of this chamber. The Senate then proved itself to be the better interpreter of the public thought of this country, and the best exponent and mouthpiece of the people’s will. That statement cannot be challenged; because, when an appeal was made to the people, there was vindication ‘of, not only the Senate, but also of those who wished it to stand firm. I advise these gentlemen to ‘ keep religiously clear of any attempt to give a’ party complexion to great constitutional changes. They should remember that the Constitution is, or ought to be, above party influence. Under it, all parties take shelter, and try to achieve their puny objects. Constitution-making and, amending should, above all things, remain unaffected by paltry political influence. I hope that honorable senators will not lend their strength or their influence, which is by no means slight, to any attempt in the future to bring forward such a frivolous motion.
The other occasion upon which this chamber stood the Labour party in good stead was when the present Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) introduced what is known as the Premiers’ plan. It is well within the recollection of honorable senators that that plan passed the other chamber by a not very big majority. Had the Prime Minister been obliged to rely upon his supposedly loyal supporters in this chamber, he would never have been able to give legislative effect to it when the Senate was asked to pronounce upon it. He found himself compelled to depend for its passage through this chamber upon members of the Opposition, who on so many occasions have, without any fuss, carried through what the Government proposed, and he left the matter in their hands with the utmost confidence, and got his plan carried by his opponents.
Those are two occasions when this chamber, which is now sought to be abolished by a party of supposed democrats, took up the cudgels on their behalf, and, in the eyes of the world, proved itself to be, without exception, the best exponent of the people’s will in this country.
There are other aspects of this question that ought to appeal to these gentlemen. During the time that I have been a member of this chamber, very few of its members have come from the ranks of the privileged class. The Labour party thunders against nothing so much as that which savours of privilege or money power, or what emanates from anything except a pure democracy. Every honorable senator present this evening has sprung from the lower strata of society. Senators Dunn and Rae, who make valuable contributions to our debates, we are proud to say, have sprung from the lower layer in the social structure of this country. Ought not some tribute to be paid to a constitution, which makes it possible for men to rise from comparative obscurity to the front rank of the nation’s advisers? This fact should cause those two gentlemen to get outside themselves, walk round themselves, and ask themselves seriously whether they are asleep or awake.
Time is on the wing, and I should not have spoken had it not been that this proposal was in all seriousness placed on the notice-paper, and that it is a plank of the platform of the Labour party. As that party at present rules this country, and has a certain backing in this chamber, we must needs pay some respect to it.
– Hear, hear !
– If the Senate were abolished to-morrow, the honorable senator who says “ hear, hear “ would be the sorriest man in this country. He is one of those who whistle in a churchyard. It is about time that we had some honesty and candour in our public life. Make-believe and hypocrisy ought to be cut out at the tap root, because it does our public life no good. It causes decentminded men to shy clear of politics. This motion is a sample of it.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable senator has imputed hypocrisy to me, among others. I call attention to the fact that only the other day the same honorable senator spoke strongly in favour of a motion moved by Senator Colebatch, and then voted against it.
– The second portion of the honorable senator’s remarks has no connexion with his point of order. If the honorable senator is offended at remarks that have been made by Senator Lynch, I feel sure that they will be withdrawn.
– Certainly I withdraw them. They were prompted by the half-hearted way in which these gentlemen advocated what they knew in their heart of hearts was not justified.
– The honorable senator must not attribute make-believe support to other honorable senators.
– - Any impartial observer who could come to the conclusion that their heart was in the job, and that they wished the Senate to treat the proposal seriously, must be an optimist of the first water. I hope that honorable senators will not, in future, bring up such frivolous motions, and waste the time of the Senate upon them.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The Senate divided. (President - Senator Hon.w. Kingsmill.)
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from the 5th November (vide page 1498), on motion by Senator Sir Hal Colebatch -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– As a layman, 1 feel somewhat diffident about discussing a measure of this nature. However, I have endeavoured to apply what little common sense I possess to a study of the Rules Publication Act, to ascertain whether the proposal of Senator Colebatch is justified by the circumstances. In the course of his second-reading speech, the honorable senator suggested that the provision which he seeks to have incorporated in the act existed from the time that the principal act was passed in 1903 until the date of its amendment; that it was withdrawn during the war in 1916. Senator Colebatch did not really suggest that it was withdrawn because of circumstances born of thewar, but his reference to that upheaval might lead to such an inference being made. I have - taken the trouble to look up the debates which preceded the amendment of the act in May, 1916, and I find that the reason given by responsible Ministers of the day for the alteration was that, after thirteen years’ experience, it was found that the provisions were so cumbersome- that the amendment was necessary. At that time both Houses of the Parliament agreed to the amendment without much discussion, withno serious opposition, and without a division. SenatorColebatch suggests that we should re-enact those cumbersome provisions.
Provision was made in the principal act that notice should be given of any proposal to make regulations or statutory rules, and any representations by interested parties were to be taken into consideration before the proposal became law. Section 4 of the act specified that a rule could operate provisionally until rules were made in accordance with the provisions of section 3. The proposal now put forward by Senator Colebatch differs from that contained in the principal act in that he would limit the application of, the provisional rules to the period of one month; unless, in the interim, those rules had been approved by both Houses of Parliament. It was found in 1916 that the existing procedure was too cumbersome. The six months’ provision in the principal act was rarely, if ever, availed of. Practically all the statutory rules and regulations that were made prior to 1916, which came within the ambit of the act, were provisional, and they continued to apply because the rules provided for by section 3 were not brought into existence to supplant thorn. If the system were found to be too cumbersome at that time, how much more so would it be now. During the fifteen years that have elapsed since 1916, a considerable number of acts of Parliament have been placed upon the statute-book of the Commonwealth which contain provisions for the making of regulations. If we were to amend the act as suggested by Senator Colebatch, we should virtually cripple the administration of many important pieces of legislation.
What is the reason for the proposed change? It has been said that it is necessary because the present Government, in re-enacting certain regulations disallowed by this chamber, has abused the provisions of the Rules Publication Act 1903-16. To , work smoothly and properly, the regulation-making provisions entrusted by Parliament to the government of the day must be applied by that government, which must have some responsibility in the matter. A second chamber of a parliament that is not charged with the task of changing or destroying governments ought to be very-careful about disallowing regulations promulgated by the government of the day. It should be particularly careful in the case under review, as the fact that the Government was returned to power with a very large majority in another place makes if evident that its policy has the endorsement of the people. Had members of this chamber faced the electors simultaneouslywith members of another place, there is no doubt that its constitution would also have been changed, and that no difficulty would have arisen in connexion with this matter. It would be unwise for the Senate to attempt to amend an effective act because of a faultwhich lies, not in the measure, but’ in the contradictory constitution of the Parliament of the moment. I am reminded of an illustration which should bo very fresh in the minds of honorable senators. of something that occurred in this chamber today. Our Standing Orders provide that the closure may be applied- to limit discussion. On a matter of very grave public importance, particularly to Senator Dunn, and to myself - for the people of South Australia desire to hear my views upon it - the power to apply the closure was abused this afternoon. But nobody could regard that as a reason for the abolition of the standing order. 1 suggest that a like difficulty occurring in connexion with an act of Parliament under similar circumstances does not warrant the amendment of that act.
I think that it was Senator Daly who said, during the course of this debate last week, that if there is to be provision for the more careful use of rule and regulation making in certain important matters, it should be set out in. the act under which the power to make rules and regulations is conferred upon the government of the day. We find, in the act which this amendment seeks to alter, that the provisions relating to rules publication apply to rules of the High Court, and to regulations made by the various government departments. I ask Senator Brennan and Senator McLachlan, who understand the procedure of the High Court, if it would be possible for that tribunal to function smoothly under the provisions of tho Rules Publication Act, as sought to be amended by Senator Colebatch. It seems to me as a layman that the proposed amendment would lead to difficulty.
– lt would certainly increase tho cost of litigation.
– Yos, it would increase the COStS of the already cost-overburdened litigants who occasionally appear before the High Court for the determination of their grievances by tho most qualified tribunal in tho land. P. J. Port in his book, Administrative Law, deals with the power to make regu1lations which is conferred on the Government of the United Kingdom, and explains the various uses to which it is put. He upholds tho arguments used by Senator Daly, which I am trying to ad vance in my own humble way, against Senator Colebatchs proposal. He points out that -
Subordinate legislation enables experiments to be carried out in a way which would be impossible if the slow parliamentary methods had to be used on each occasion. It is often provided that the same body which makes a rule or order, may also revoke or amend it.
If the cumbersome procedure proposed by Senator Colebatch is included in the Rules Publication Act, it will not be possible for many simple orders or regulations to be amended to meet changing circumstances which could not be foreseen by the authority making them. Under the provisions of the principal act, it is an easy matter for an amending regulation to be passed to overcome a difficulty that has arisen. In any case, in the final analysis, Parliament is supreme. If Parliament is dissatisfied with the manner in which a government has made use of its regulation-making power, it has the remedy in its own hands; it can remove the Government from office. There is, therefore, no possibility of its will being flouted or of its intention being misrepresented by the Government of the day. For that reason I hope that the bill will not be carried.
– The bill now under consideration is a great deal more important than the fact that it has been introduced by a private member, however eminent, may suggest; but under the circumstances, no other means of altering the present la w is open to those who desire its alteration. It is conceded by almost all writers on administration, that the power of rule making however necessary it may be, has in recent years gone very much further than possibly was ever intended. It is, so to speak, one of those unconscious growths which increase day by day, each new advance being made the taking-off ground for the next new advance. This is not confined to Australia, and is by no means a monopoly of the Government in power to-day. Nevertheless, it has reached its utmost limit in this country. Whereas not many years ago, and within the lifetime of the Federal Parliament, the power to make rules was not an invariable adjunct of a law, it may be said that nowadays no law is passed which does not contain that power.
Senator Daly has taken up a remarkable attitude. He stands forth boldly as an opponent of government by regulation, yet when an effort is made to put some limit upon the power of the Government by regulation, he finds himself compelled to oppose that effort.
– I had not Senator Pearce’s amendments before me at that stage. Senator Colebatchs proposal is not a limitation of the law; it reduces it to an absurdity.
– No. All that the bill seeks to do is to act upon the foundation principle that the law lays it down that the legislative power of the Commonwealth is vested in the King and the two Houses of Parliament; that no bill for an act can become a law until it has been passed by both Houses and assented to by the Governor-General as the representative of His Majesty the King. A regulation is in all its effects a law. It is as binding upon every subject of the King as if it had been passed by both Houses of Parliament, and all that this bill proposes is that no regulation shall be passed which is not the work of both Houses of Parliament and the GovernorGeneral. At present regulations are not even the work of one House of Parliament; they are the work of the Government of the day. It would be very wise, I think, and desirable for honorable senators on the Government side, to realize that their party may not always be in a majority in another place. A time may come when they will be in a minority in both chambers. If they can visualize that possibility, they will probably see that it is not wise to entrust too much power to the government of the day.
This question has been mixed up a great deal with the trouble that has occurred over the repeated disallowance and repeated promulgation of waterside workers’ regulations, but should be considered altogether apart from it. Senator Rae claims that we are defying the House of Representatives, and he has ventured the opinion that the other chamber is fresher from the country than this chamber. There i8 no disputing a matter which can be so easily demonstrated, but the Constitution knows of no process by which, by any means we like to employ, we can determine which of the two chambers is the fresher. The Constitution provides for two chambers of equal powers, except in regard to matters in which there is a slight diminution of the power of the Senate.
– Should we not exercise our personal knowledge to modify our abstract powers?
– I do not think that we should do so in this case. I think it was Senator Rae who said that the High Court has ruled that the Government has the power to do what it has done in regard to the waterside workers’ regulations. That is true, but the High Court has not said that the Senate has. not the power to do what it has done. Furthermore, “the propriety of what the Government has done i3 entirely unaffected by the decision of the High Court. If the Government refuses to accept this bill, the Senate can exercise its power in one of two ways. It can decline to pass any provision in an act providing for the making of regulations, or qualify each regulation-making provision as it has already done in a bill which was recently before us. The fact that the Government accepted that qualification shows that Ministers realized the reasonableness of the attitude taken up by the Senate.
If any one’ is anxious to see the extent to which the regulation-making power has gone, an excellent illustration is to be found in the recent volumes of statutory rules and acts of Parliament, notably those for the year 1927.’ I venture to say that in that year there were ten times as many rules having the force of law as there were acts of Parliament. .
– That was when the Bruce-Page Government was in power. Parliament did not sit for more than eight and a half weeks in the year.
– I have seen nothing to indicate that the present Government is less fruitful in the matter of regulations than the previous Government was. The time which one learned gentleman described as a period when one man ruled Australia with a fountain pen has now gone by. Australia is now ruled by both Houses of the Parliament, and the bill we are now considering is an effort to get the control of law-making into the hands of both Houses of the Parliament exclusively. It is, therefore, deserving of acceptance by this chamber.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH (Western Australia) [9.12]. - I have only a few words to say in reply. My action in bringing this bill forward is not associated with the trouble over the waterside workers’ regulations. Long before that trouble arose it was my intention to introduce this bill. If honorable senators care to do so, they may see that intention on my part expressed in a portion of the report of the Royal Commission on the Constitution. The abuse’ of this regulation-making power was brought home to me long before the matter of the waterside workers’ regulations cropped up. At no time have I said that the amending bill of 1916 was due to war emergencies. I said that in 1916, during the war, the Commonwealth Parliament and other Parliaments of the Empire found it necessary to take certain steps to permit of the promulgation of regulations having the force of law; but the British Parliament followed the course of exempting certain sections of various acts from such provisions as those of the Rules Publication Act. Those provisions are still in force in Great Britain, and I propose to have them inserted in our act.
One portion of the bill is certainly based upon matters arising out of the waterside workers’ trouble, and the justification for taking special action in this respect is to be found in the remarks of the justices of the High Court, who said, in effect, “ The law as it stands empowers the Government to make a regulation, and, upon, either House of Parliament disallowing it, to make that regulation over again. That is the law as it stands, and we must give effect to it.” In so many words, they said, “If it is desired to alter the law, it is the business of the legislature to make the alteration.” That is the justification for including in this bill the particular provisions to which I have referred.
I should like to direct the attention of the Senate to a very curious matter which has been brought under my notice by Senator McLachlan The High Court has ruled that, although the Senate may disallow a regulation, it is competent for the Government immediately to re-impose the same regulation, and fo keep on doing so indefinitely. The High Court itself is empowered to make rules. Section 86 of the Judiciary Act gives the justices of the High Court, or a majority of them, power to make rules of court not inconsistent, with that act. Section S7 of that act reads -
Every rule of court made in pursuance of the last preceding section shall be laid before the Senate and the House of Representatives within forty days next after it is made if the Parliament is then sitting, or if the Parliament is then not sitting then within forty days after the next meeting of the Parliament; and if an address is presented to the Governor-General by either House of the Parliament within the’ next subsequent forty sitting days of the House praying that any such rule may be annulled the Governor-General may thereupon annul it; and the rule so annulled shall thenceforth become void a.nd of no effect but without prejudice to the validity of any proceedings which have in tho meantime been taken under it.
It follows that, as the law stands to-day, it is competent, udt only for the Government to re-enact regulations which either this chamber or another chamber has disallowed, but also for the High Court to re-enact rules which both Houses of Parliament have disallowed- a condition of affairs which I suggest could not be contemplated by us complacently, no matter how deep our respect for the High Court.
– We did not contemplate that that would be the position when we passed the legislation.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH.No; yet, as the law stands, it is competent for the Government to defy one House of Parliament, and for the High Court to act in defiance of both Houses of Parliament.
– Is that because it is competent for the court to do anything which is not specifically denied to it?
– No. It is because Parliament has delegated certain powers to the High Court. Under most acts, Parliament delegates to the Governor-General in Council the power to make regulations; under the Judiciary Act it has delegated to the High Court a law-making power. It is now held that that delegation of power has gone further than Parliament intended, and surely, in the circumstances, it is proper for Parliament to take hack that grant of power. “My main object in introducing this measure is to protect not the rights of Parliament so much as the rights of the people. They are entitled to know what is proposed to bc done by way of legislation. “When the laws ai-c made in Parliament they are made openly, and iiic people have the protection, not only of their own representatives in Parliament, but also of the press. It was against the abuse of the regulation making power that the Lord Chief Justice of England made such a strong protest. The quotations cited by Senator McLachlan also emphasized the right of the people to publicity in the matter of regulation making. I do not think that the point raised by Senator Pearce touches the case. In my opinion, the place for this legislation is not in the Acts Interpretation Act. I go further, and say that, in my opinion, section 10 of that act is out” of place; that provision should, I maintain, be in the Rules Publication Act instead.. The alternative to passing this legislation is for the Senate to attach to every act of Parliament in which it-gives a regulation-making power a special provision - a most cumbersome procedure which, moreover, would not meet the case of legislation which is already in existence. It may be, as has been suggested, that this bill does not go far enough. Personally, I think that the Government should have adequate powers for the making of emergency regulations, and I am prepared to accept any amendment, so long as it safeguards the rights and privileges of this chamber. It has also been contended that the Senate has no right to interfere with a decision acceptable to the House of Representatives, because’ the members of that chamber are fresher from the country. I take it that the Constitution- is based on the principle that that freshness may sometimes need chocking. Attention has frequently been drawn to the enormous majority with which the Government was returned in 1929. That majority has disappeared. The purpose of the framers of the Constitution in. arranging that the members of the Senate shall not all be elected at the one time was to protect the people against this freshness, and to allow time for thought. In another place that time for thought has resulted in the disappearance of the Government’s hugemajority, and a vindication of the claim, of the Senate to have the same right to protect the people as if it had been elected only yesterday.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
After section 2 of Uie principal act tin; following suctions are inserted: - “3. - (1) At least sixty days before making any statutory rules to which this section applies, notice of the proposal to make the rules and of the place where copies of the draft rules may be obtained shall bc published in the Gazette
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH (Western Australia) [9.22J. - I move -
That the word “ sixty “, proposed new subsection (1), be left out with a view to insert in lion thereof the word ‘‘thirty’‘1.
The original act provided for sixty days; the law in England allows forty days. Since the original act was passed, circumstances have so altered that even in a large territory like the Commonwealth of Australia a period of thirty days should be adequate.
– I suggest to the honorable senator that this is an opportune time to report progress. The Senate has affirmed tho principle which he desired it to affirm. In the course of his speech the honorable senator raised very important questions relating to High Court procedure. Moreover, Senator Pearce has circulated a number of amendments. There are several rulemaking bodies covered by this legislation. It is all very well to say that the High Court can do something to override Parliament; but, on the other hand, by driving in one nail we may loosen a dozen others. When laymen tinker with the law they inevitably assist lawyers. I give the Senate the assurance that its action will not be ignored. The proposals of Senator Colebatch and Senator Pearce will be referred to the authorities which will be affected by this legislation, and by next Thursday night we should be in a position to give full consideration to the various matters which have been mentioned.
Debate resumed from the 5th November (vide page 1500), on motion by Senator Colebatch -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH (Western Australia) [‘9.27].- On Thursday last I had addressed myself to the provisions of this measure so far as they affected section 52 of the Customs Act. I had explained that the. purpose of the bill was to substitute the word “ regulation “ for the word “ proclamation “ in paragraph g of that section with a view to making any prohibition of imports imposed by the Government subject to review by Parliament. Under the present law the Government may prohibit the importation of certain articles without the consent of Parliament. It is ridiculous that, while the Government is compelled at some time or other to bring before Parliament any provision which imposes even the most trifling increase in customs duties, it can, without consulting either House of the Parliament, impose a prohibition on imports, not because the article concerned is objectionable, but purely for protective purposes. It is an extraordinary abuse of the executive power that such a prohibition should be imposed at any time; but before the present Government came into office the power had never been abused to the extent that it has been abused during recent months. Many of the prohibitions that have been imposed by the present Government have, by one stroke of the pen, and without the slightest warning, taken away the livelihood of hundreds of law-abiding people in this country.- It would be a serious matter -even for Parliament to do that; but in these instances, it has been done without the consent of Parliament, and without Parliament having any opportunity to review the matter. If this bill is passed, the word “ proclamation “ will be struck out, and then any prohibition that the Government sees fit to impose will have to be done by regulation and be subject to review by Parliament.
The amendment that I propose to make to section 112 of the principal act relates to the same matter, except that it refers to the prohibition of exports. The power to prohibit exports should not lie with the Government without being subject to review by Parliament. It is now competent for the Government to prohibit’ any export, or to impose any condition it sees fit on exports, and it is not competent for either House of Parliament to interfere, excepting, of course, that the House of Representatives may, at any time, interfere by putting the Government out of office. It is not competent for the Senate to pass judgment on the action of the Government in prohibiting the export of any article, or in imposing such conditions on export as it sees fit.
The third purpose of the bill is to amend section 226 of the principal act. When the act was passed, there was a good deal of comment regarding this section. Attention was drawn to the fact that it went further than the corresponding provision of any other customs act in the world. The section provides -
No proceeding whether against an officer or otherwise for anything done for the protection of the revenue in relation to any tariff or tariff alteration proposed in Parliament shall except us mentioned in the next section be commenced before the close of the session in which such tariff or tariff alteration is proposed.
In the Imperial Parliament, when a tariff is introduced, it comes into effect at once, but no British Government has ever dared to take any other action than to have it considered by the Parliament at the earliest possible moment. In the United States of America, protection is very much higher than in any other country except Australia, yet no new tariff takes effect until Congress has approved. In several continental countries, the power reposes in the government to make temporary increases in the tariff within a limited percentage. Only in Australia is the wider power given, and when it’ was placed in the act it was undoubtedly intended to apply to a normal session of the Parliament. I have no doubt that the framers of the act were influenced, to some extent, by the provision in the Constitution that there should he a session of the Parliament at least once a year, and read that provision as meaning what at first glance it would seem to mean, and,
I think, does mean, that there shall be a separate session of the Parliament once in each year. It was never contemplated that any government would continue a session, year after year, for the sole purpose of depriving this section of the Parliament of the right of reviewing the tariff.
Reference was made this afternoon to the agitation for secession inWestern Australia. The granting of equal representation in the Senate to the smaller States, and the granting to the Senate of equal law-making power with the House of Representatives were two of the conditions’ without which none of the smaller States would have entered the federation, and remembering that no piece of legislation can so profoundly affect the interests of the smaller States as does the tariff, I have no hesitation in saying that any State which finds its rights in this matter filched from it is quite justified in agitating for secession, seeing that a condition under which the States entered federation has been most flagrantly violated. I propose to get over the difficulty by adding to section 226 those words: “ or until three months after such tariff or tariff alteration is proposed, whichever period is the shorter “. The effect of that will be that whenever a government decides that an alteration of the tariff schedule is necessary, it must table a motion, as now required, and have it confirmed by the Parliament within three months. That is by no means an unreasonable proposal. If anything, the period of three months is too long; it is certainly the longest period that should he permitted.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [9.36]. - I regard this bill as justifiable and absolutely necessary. The experience of the last two years, at any rate, has shown the necessity for it. Generally speaking, I am unaware that there has been any great abuse in the past of the power to make prohibitions by proclamation. In one instance, perhaps, proclamations were issued for the purpose of carrying out the policy of protection, but generally they were prohibitions of deleterious imports. There was a notable exception in the case of sugar. That was a prohibition to give effect to a fiscal policy, but in the last two years we have seen ‘that power exercised to a . tremendous extent, and the time has arrived when the power of the Government to issue proclamations for- the purpose of effecting tariff alterations should be limited. It is somewhat difficult, to decide the time within which tariff schedules should be dealt with; but if the period of three months proposed under this bill were fixed, governments would have to adjust themselves to that new condition. This matter was automatically dealt with before the war, at any rate, by the fact that a session of this Parliament generally extended over a period of about six months, although the first session of the first . Federal Parliament lasted eighteen months.
Nevertheless, it seems to me that in the light of what has happened, the limitation of three months is a fair one. We have to remember that we have a tariff on the statute book; the Government has not to introduce a new tariff. With the proposed limitation of three months, a government would have a greater incentive than now to proceed somewhat leisurely in the matter of tariff making. The probability is that itwould refer more matters to the Tariff Board, and wait until it received reports on those that were most- urgent, dealing with a few at a time. That would be all to the good in securing a proper consideration of tariff proposals, and the three months’ limitation would not be at all irksome.
– I intend to oppose this bill for the reason that the scheme outlined by the honorable senator would be unworkable from a tariff standpoint. It is difficult for me, without anticipating a debate on another subject to place before the Senate certain matters which I should like to mention, and which, I feel certain, would allay any fear that the Government has abused its powers. One of the first things that this Government had to deal with on assuming office was the financial position confronting Australia. It realized that there was no marshalling of credits in Loudon, and it had to give due consideration to the fact that certain goods were coming into Australia, having been purchased by persons who had credits in London, who were hindering others who wore desirous of exporting to Australia.
– This bill will not prevent that.
– I am pointing out my difficulty in discussing this matter without anticipating another debate, and, therefore, I ask leave to continue my remarks on another occasion.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
The following paper was presented: -
Nationality Act-Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1931, No. 124.
– by leave- On the 15th October, Senator E. B. Johnston asked the following questions, upon notice : -
I am now able to furnish the honorable senator with the following replies : -
Figures relating to rum and other spirits which are not subject to a differential rate when bottled in bond have not been included in the above.
– by leave- On the 15th October, Senator E. B. Johnston asked the following questions, upon notice -
I am now able to furnish the honorable senator with the following information: -
– by leave - Yesterday, Senator McLachlan referred to the case of a bondholder who holds Commonwealth securities for £200, and who was informed by the Treasury that it was most unlikely that the proposed assistance to bondholders could be extended to cases such as his. I have looked into this case, and find that the bondholder concerned is in permanent employment under the South Australian Government. His salary is not large - being slightly over £10 fortnightly, after certain deductions have been made for pension fund, and State tax. He had dissented from conversion as he needed some of his money for necessary expenses in March next. . The writer’s letter, it may be added, revealed him as a very worthy citizen.
Senator McLachlan’s remarks, however, implied that the letter sent to this man by the Treasury was somewhat harsh in tone. I shall therefore quote the letter, without giving the man’s name. It was as follows: -
I am directed to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 19th October in regard to Commonwealth Government inscribed stock for £200 which you hold, and which matures on 15th December next. In reply, I am to say that the Treasurer has noted your representations, and that it is realized that there are many cases of hardship under the conversion scheme, and which appear to be quite inevitable in the present state of the national finances. I am also to say that a plan is now under consideration for therelief of those bondholders who have little or no other means of support, but it appears most unlikely that it will be possible to extend this assistance to cases such as yours. I may remark, however, that your new bonds, on conversion, would mature on 15th December, 1938, and that the price of these bonds on the market has considerably improved. I mention this as . you may desire to consider the question of selling some of your holding if you are in particular need of money.
I am sure that no exception can be taken to the terms of this letter.
Whilst the details of the plan for the relief of hardship arising under the conversion have not yet been settled it must be recognized that only limited funds are available for the purpose. As already explained to the Senate, it is impracticable for the Government to cash the securities of all persons who dissented or who may be in need of ready money. It will, therefore, be necessary to give precedence to bondholders who require money for necessary maintenance purposes.
Motion (by Senator Dooley) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– This morning I sought some information from the Leader of the Government (Senator Barnes) by a series of questions on a subject which, as a representative of New South Wales, I re- gard as extremely urgent. Last week, we received from another place, and passed, a bill for the purpose of making available a sum of £250,000 for unemployment relief in preparation for the Christmas season. The money was to be distributed among the States on a population basis. The amount of £5,000 was allocated for renovation work at the naval dockyard on Cockatoo Island. I know something about Cockatoo Island, for, in 1912, when I left Queensland where I had followed mining occupations, I began work at my trade there. I left the dockyard in 1914, and spent five years in service overseas- with the Australian Imperial Force. I returned to Australia at the end of 1919, resumed my pre-war civic occupation at Cockatoo Island early in 1920, and remained there until I was elected to the Senate. My knowledge of affairs at Cockatoo Island entitles me to say that a good deal of the renovation work will be allotted, not to tradesmen, but to unskilled labourers in the iron and steel industry.
I take full responsibility for saying that unless we are careful in regard to what is done we shall permit one of the greatest political scandals in the 31 years’ history of federal politics to occur. I intend to put the facts before the Senate, and I feel sure that if my colleague, Senator Rae, thinks I have made out a case he will support me.
To-day I asked the Leader of the Government (Senator Barnes) the following questions: -
The electorates mentioned in my first question are all adjacent to Cockatoo Island Dockyard; but, as the foreshores of the dockyard are so near to “White Bay Park, Balmain, it has always been regarded as the prerogative of the member for Dalley to look after the interests of the workers at Cockatoo Island. Honorable senators who have been connected with federal politics for a number of years will know that the former member for Dalley, Mr. W. G. Mahony, was. often referred to as “ the member for Cockatoo Island.” The Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) is now the member for Dalley. The constituency of Martin is represented by Mr. Eldridge, North Sydney by the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes, Parkes by Major Marr, East Sydney by Mr. Ward, West Sydney by Mr. Beasley, Reid by Mr. Coleman, Lang by Mr. Long, and Warringah by Mr. Archdale Parkhill.
It was intended that this unemployment relief should be provided for hungry men. The slump in the ship-building industry has had a very serious effect upon the residents of the Balmain peninsula, many of whom have had an exceedingly hard time. But, when the members of other electorates than Dalley made representations to obtain relief for twelve or twenty men,, they found that no relief was available, for the lists had been filled weeks ago. These honorable gentlemen have been inundated with applications for relief; but no relief is available. As a typical instance of what has happened, I mention the case of a man named George Bennett, a distant relative of Mr. Beasley, M.H.R. As Mr. Bennett lives in the Warringah electorate, Mr. Beasley thought it was only right that he should pass the application on to Mr. Parkhill. He asked me, in the federal members’ room, at the Commonwealth Bank, Sydney, to communicate with Mr. Parkhill by telephone, and request him to take up the case of Mr. Bennett. Mr. Parkhill has agreed to do so.
I should like to know, also, whether this relief is to be granted on an electoral basis. I direct the attention of honorable senators to the following urgent telegram sent by the Prime Minister (Mr.
Scullin) to Mr. James, member for Hunter; -
Regarding your representations th is morning employment not being distributed on electoral basis. Money is being expended on moat important Commonwealth works. Your suggestion regarding Cessnock aerodrome being rof erred to Works Department.
The Prime Minister himself has stated definitely that the unemployed relief money is not being granted on an electoral basis. That proves right up to the hilt that some sinister force is at work, and to that I shall refer later. Question No. 3 reads -
What was the total amount set aside for the Commonwealth Cockatoo Island Dockyard grant ?
I know that the amount set aside was £5,000, but I wish to place the onus on the Minister of stating the exact sum. Question No. 4 reads -
Is it a fact that paid political organizers and canvassers have been, and are still, COllecting names for employment on Cockatoo Island > 1 say emphatically that the paid political organizers of a body known as the Australian Labour Party, with its headquarters at Rawson-place, Sydney, situated about 300 or 400 yards from the Trades Hall, in Goulburn-street, are collecting names in connexion with employment at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, and that one of the prime movers, or at least the guiding spirit, of the federal section of the Australian Labour Party in New South Wales is the Federal Treasurer, Mr. Theodore. Question No. 5 reads -
If so, is it a fact that those organizers and canvassers belong to a political party known as the Federal Labour Party, with headquarters in Rawson Chambers, Rawsonplace, Sydney’/
It is a fact that the organizers who have been canvassing for names belong to the Federal Labour Party, with headquarters in Rawson Chambers, Sydney. Question No. 6 reads -
Will the Prime Minister give an instruction that all employees, in whatever district they reside, obtain employment on the Cockatoo Island relief roster, or at least on an electoral percentage basis’/
Naturally, the representatives of a big industrial electorate, and other elec- torates surrounding Cockatoo Island Dockyard, want the right to nominate as many as possible of their constituents who in the past have worked at Cockatoo Island. The position to-day is that the lists are full. Question No. 7 reads -
Who is the federal representative for the Dalley electorate in the House of Representatives ? ,
– The honorable senator need only look at Hansard to ascertain that.
– I am not afraid to lock horns with the honorable member for Dalley. I have done it before in caucus, and I am prepared to do it here and on the hustings. I was asked to give notice of my question, but let me state that I am aware that the Federal Treasurer is Mr. E. G. Theodore, M.H.R. He is the man who is using £5,000 of the people’s money, supposed to be expended at Cockatoo Island on relief work, to make easier his path in the Dalley electorate at the next federal election. In view of my allegation, the Treasurer should make a satisfactory explanation on the floor of another place, or retire from public life altogether. I have said before that, whether I remain in this Parliament for 6 or for 26 years, I shall expose any political intrigue on the part of Mr. Scullin, Mr. Theodore, or anybody else.
– Or Jock Garden?
– Or Jock Garden. Question No. 8 reads -
Will he endeavour to see that tho federal unemployed money grant to Cockatoo Island is not used for political purposes?
The lists collected by the paid organizers and canvassers of the Federal Australian Labour Party have been sent to the management of Cockatoo Island Dockyard, with the instruction that only men whose names appear thereon are to be employed on relief works. That has been done to assist the Federal Treasurer in his appeal to the electors of Dalley next year. Question No. 9 reads -
Is it a fact that the canvass for names for Cockatoo Island relief embraces Balmain, Rozelle, Leichhardt, Annandale, Forest Lodge, and Lilyfield; if so. are tho above-mentioned suburbs in the Dalley electorate?
I f ihe Government does- not wish to answer that question, let me inform honorable senators that all these suburbs are in the Dalley electorate. I lived for years in Dalley, and I know its suburbs, and all of them were canvassed for the purpose of making easier the political path of the Federal Treasurer at the elections in May next. Question No. 10 reads -
Are the Australian newspapers correct in stating that the sum of £5,000 was set aside for Cockatoo Island unemployed relief?
I have no doubt that the representatives of the press in this chamber correctly reported the Assistant Minister for Works (Senator Dooley). Let me tell him, and he can pass on the information to his political urger, that everything that I have stated is correct.
– I take exception to the remark “political urger” if it has reference to the honorable member for Dalley.
– I have considerable doubt as to what “ urger “ means, but I think, that it is an expression which should not bc used in the Senate. No doubt it. has given considerable offence to the Assistant Minister for Works, and I must, therefore, ask Senator Dunn to withdraw it.
– I withdraw the remark to which objection has been taken. There are thousands of unemployed throughout New South Wales, yet, because of the political importance of the Federal Treasurer, lists of men obtained by organizers and canvassers of the Federal Australian Labour Party have been sent to the management of Cockatoo Island Dockyard, no doubt with an instruction that the men whose names appear on those lists must obtain employment relief. Doubtless, when constituents of the honorable members for Martin (Mr. Eldridge), North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), Parkes (Mr. Marr), East Sydney (Mr. Ward), West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), Reid (Mr. Coleman), Lang (Mr. Long), Warringah (Mr. Parkhill), and Cook (Mr. C. Riley) approach those gentleman with the object of securing a piece of “ Red Ned’s “
Christmas pudding, and are told that the lists are full, they will come to the conclusion that their representatives are not desirous of doing anything on their behalf. I trust that the press of this country will take up this matter, which I regard as one of the greatest political scandals in the history of federation. In the name of the unemployed, and especially of those who worked with me at Cockatoo in the past, and are now clamouring for a fair go, I protest vehemently against the utilization of this allocation in such a way as to make the road easy for the great political joss from Queensland.
– I sincerely regret that Senator Dunn has seen fit to vent his spleen on the Federal Treasurer in the name of the unemployed. The Cabinet, and not Mr. Theodore, decided how this money should be spent. The Assistant Minister for Works and Railways (Senator Dooley) will bear me out in saying that every member of the Cabinet must accept his full share of the responsibility for its distribution. When the honorable senator has heard what Senator Dooley has to say he will realize that the attack which he has launched against the Treasurer was not justified.
It is impossible for me to reconcile the honorable senator’s present attitude in relation to Cockatoo Island Dockyard with the motion that appears in his name on the business-paper. Why was that motion brought forward? The reason was that the honorable senator felt that more work should be undertaken at that dockyard, including the building of a vessel for the Tasmanian service. I have always agreed with him that if the dock was to be held by the Government for defence purposes it should not be allowed to remain idle. Any vote that I cast in Cabinet would’ be in the direction of providing money for work at places in connexion with which the Government has to bear the burden of overhead costs. 1 assure the press of Australia that if the investigation suggested by the honorable senator is made, it will be found that Mr. Theodore has done nothing of which he should feel ashamed. Everybody admits and understands the reason for the bitterness that exists politically between
Mr. Theodore and the group to which Senator Dunn belongs. I assure the Senate that in this particular matter Mr. Theodore has not acted differently from any one else. I did my best to secure the maximum amount of the sum appropriated for work in my State, and I was not actuated by a desire to make my position in the Senate secure. I did only what any person in similar circumstances would do.
– What Senator Dunn has complained of is the way in which the money is being distributed.
– He may have grounds for that complaint. No member of the Cabinet can divest himself of any responsibility with respect to the allocation. The matter of distribution was left by the Cabinet entirely in the hands of Senator Dooley and the Works Department.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [“10.17].- What I gathered from Senator Dunn’s remarks was that he was attacking the Treasurer not because of the amount allocated to New South Wales, or, indeed, to Cockatoo Island Dockyard, but on the ground that, in the selection of the men who were to benefit from the expenditure of this money only those could get employment whose names appeared on a list collected by an organizer of the political organization to which Mr. Theodore belongs.
– That is absolutely correct.
– I draw attention to an incident that certainly appears to lend colour to the charge which the honorable senator has made. In the Senate to-day Senator Duncan asked the Minister for Defence the following question : -
Has his attention been drawn to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 11th November, page 12, column 4, of a meeting of unemployed addressed by Mr. Rowe, M.P., at the Works Office, Liverpool Camp, in which Mr. Rowe is reported as saying that if the 200 men present registered their names with him a fortnight’s work would be provided in road repair and renovation in the military camp area; that about £3,000 would be spent; and also, in reply to a question from one of the unemployed as to the reason why the work was not going through the State Labour Exchange, that the grant was for the Defence Department, and that the State Labour Exchange would not have anything to do with the matter.
I suggest that it is peculiar that a member of Parliament; - who, by the way, happens to be’ a supporter of the particular party to which Mr. Theodore belongs - should inform the unemployed that they should register their names with him. In this particular case, I understand, the work is to be done on a reserve that is under the control of the Defence Department. I should imagine that, in the ordinary course of events, officers of either the Works- or the Defence Department would have the task of compiling the roll, and that the unemployed would be invited to register with the department concerned.
– They register with the Directors of Works.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Why should Mr. Rowe announce that they should register their names with him? I do not know what authority Mr. Rowe has for making such a statement; hut, in the light of Senator Dunn’s statement, I regard the circumstances as peculiar. The Senate seems- to have been entirely ignored in this matter. I certainly have had no communication from the Commonwealth Government asking that I should enrol unemployed from Western Australia for this grant.
– Nor has any other member of this Parliament. All I can say is that Mr. Rowe was courting disaster when he made such an announcement.
– I suggest that the Minister should reply to the matter to which I have drawn attention.
.- I wish to ask one question. If the answer is in the affirmative, the matter needs investigation. Is the Senate to understand from the remarks of Senator Dunn that the expenditure of the £5)000 allocated for relief work at Cockatoo Island is to be confined to unemployed who live in the. Dalley electorate, and are members of the Federal Labour Party?
– The majority of the lists sent to Cockatoo Island Dockyard are collected by paid organizers and canvassers of the Federal Labour Party, of which Mr. Theodore is a member. Men whose names appear on those lists will receive preference.
– Does the honorable senator definitely state that, unless these men are members of the Federal Labour Party, and are living in the Dalley electorate, they will not receive any of the work ?
– No; but every sympathy will be extended to such persons.
– If my inference is correct, the matter is serious. Senator Dunn should be prepared to substantiate his remarks by citing specific instances where preference has been shown to individuals. It is extraordinary that men who have been working at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, and, in ordinary circumstances, would be entitled to some of this relief work, are to be denied employment unless they live in the Dalley electorate.
– That is what will happen.
– Relief works are to be carried out in other parts of Australia, and, in the interests of the unemployed generally, I hope that this matter will be cleared up.
– The allegation amounts to the charge that the Federal Treasurer is endeavouring, by influencing the allocation of this relief work to residents in his own electorate, to gain future supporters. Lists will be handed in by paid organizers which will have some bearing on the allocation of unemployment. As the amount of money is not sufficient to employ all those who are seeking work at Cockatoo Island, it is manifest that, if those in authority are given lists prepared by paid organizers of the Federal Labour Party pressure will be brought to bear to ensure that those of the right political colour are chosen for tho work. It would be very easy for the Minister in charge to say that the actual selection of tho men shall be in the hands of the dock officials. Ostensibly, that will be so ; but, in reality, those named on the specially prepared l’5S] lists will be chosen. The whole matter constitutes a scandal sufficiently grave to warrant an inquiry. I realize that the information which has been given to me and to my colleague requires to be proved. It is only by adducing further facts that the matter can be sheeted home. If the allegation is true, what is happening amounts to political corruption, a misuse of the public funds to induce voters to render a quid pro quo when the time arrives.
– It is of no interest to me, politically, who receives this employment, because the whole of the money is to be expended in New South Wales, of which I am a representative. I, therefore, have no axe to grind. I have merely instructed the Directors of Works that the money is available. No one who knows Mr. Todd and Mr. MacKennal would entertain any doubt as to their integrity. I do not believe that there is any truth in the allegations.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) asked me to explain the position with regard to Mr. Rowe. I did not tell that gentleman that if he collected a list of men those individuals would receive preference of employment. His need of work is the only consideration that governs the selection of a person for employment.
– But are there not more applicants than jobs?
– Unfortunately, that is the trouble. The men are taken in the order that they are listed. I have many political friends, yet it is quite likely that my political opponents may receive work before they do. The whole thing is decided by the Directors of Works. I am sure that I do not know why Mr. Rowe made such a statement. Of course we have merely the press report. I saw it in the World. I can understand why such a statement would be made. I have received many applications for employment from persons whom I have known for a number of years. In every case, I have referred the request to the Director of Works, without any special comment.
– Will the Minister state whether the selection of men for Cockatoo Island Dockyard is under the direction of Mr. MacKennal t
– Cockatoo Island is under Mr. Payne, the manager, who will have the making of the list, and I do not think that Mr. Payne would lend himself to such a thing as Senator Dunn has alleged.
– “Nor do I. I know him very well.
– I do not believe that there is any truth in the charge made by Senator Dunn. It is possible that Mr. Rowe has made certain statements. I know that the matter has been discussed by many members of the Parliament. Many nien have written to me, complaining of the distance from Liverpool to the Customs House in Sydney, and suggesting that another means of registering should be provided, and even asking if I could effect registration for them. Many of these men have approached their representatives in Parliament. If Mr. Rowe has received more applications that he can deal with, he may regret having encouraged men to send their applications through him. However, I can assure honorable senators that there is nothing in the contentions of Senator Dunn.
– I shall make you eat your words.
– The honorable senator must not use threats.
– I am not worrying. The aerodrome at Cessnock referred to by Senator Dunn is not Commonwealth property. The money that has been voted is to be devoted to the renovation of Commonwealth property, and the department has sought to allocate the funds to districts and works where the most employment can be provided. It has particularly aimed at avoiding the purchase of material, and has even gone to the trouble of borrowing ladders and other, building plant so that more money may be available for labour. To get employment no man needs a reference from “a member of Parliament; his only qualification will be that he is out of work.
– Can the Minister explain about the organizer?
– I know of no organizer being employed by the Australian Labour Party. Mr. Foley was an organizer; but I do not know that any organizer has been employed as such in this connexion. Senator Dunn might give the names of these individuals instead of leaving us in the clouds knowing nothing. People very often find mare’s nests.
– May I ask the Minister a question?
– Not now. If tho question is in order, it may be asked in the morning. Apparently the discussion that we have just had was due to my action in ruling that a series of questions which Senator Dunn wished to have placed on the notice-paper was not in order. To conform with the Standing Orders, a question should seek information, it should not convey it, a-nd it may not contain imputations. But an honorable senator who cannot achieve his ends by asking a question may take some other course, such as that afforded by the right to bring up a matter on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, when he may make such observations upon it as he pleases.
– Before you put the question, Mr. President, may I be allowed to reply to what you have said?
– I submit that your ruling was not correct. You said that the questions were entirely out of order. I think that you took too much upon yourself in so declaring.
– The honorable senator is not at liberty to question my ruling except on a motion to dissent from it.
– I admit that you, sir, are the Mussolini of .. Senate, and that I must bow to your “ruling.
– The honorable senator will resume his seat. He may not make any remark derogatory of the President unless on a distinct motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.36 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 November 1931, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1931/19311112_senate_12_132/>.