13th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch) took the chair at 8 p.m., and read prayers.
– On the 26th May, Senator Dunn addressed to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral the following question, upon notice: -
Whether he will inform the Senate of the terms under which the trans-ocean broadcast news is supplied to Sydney newspapers, whether any charge is made, and whether the service is available to any morning or afternoonmetropolitan newspaper ?
I am nov in a position to inform the honorable senator that the reception and use in Sydney of the trans-ocean news service was arranged by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The publication of the news service is at present the subject of investigation by the department.
– I ask the Assistant Treasurer, as acting chairman of the Loan Council -
In view of the fact that all Australian State Governments are working under the terms of the Commonwealth Loan Council, will the Commonwealth Government -
Insist that every State Government shall institute a complete moratorium protecting tenants, mortgagors, and home purchasers from - (a) Eviction from their homes and the seizure of furniture and other worldly goods by bailiffs in satisfaction of rent due; (b) Goods being repossessed under the timepayment system because or failure to maintain due payments owing to unemployment?
Demand the repeal of any legislation requiring the unemployed to perform work in return for sustenance, except where a full week’s work is provided at award rates’ of pay?
Insist that full award rates of pay and conditions shall be observed on all works for the relief of unemployment financed by grants from the Loan Council?
-. - I am not aware of any provision in the Constitution that empowers the Commonwealth Government to insist upon the States passing legislation in reference to matters entirely under their own control.
– Is it not competent for the Loan Council, when allocating grants to the States, to prescribe the conditions under which moneys so granted shall be expended?
– The functions of the Loan Council are defined in the Financial Agreement Act, which does not confer upon the council the power suggested by the honorable senator.
– Will the Assistant Minister assure the Senate that he will recommend to the next conference of State Premiers and the Loan Council that award rates and conditions shall apply in connexion with all works to be undertaken with moneys granted by the Commonwealth to the State Governments, and to all sustenance and relief works ?
– The honorable senator is under a misapprehension. The Commonwealth Government does not make money available to the States. At the request of the Loan Council it raises money on behalf of the States, which are responsible for the payment of both interest and principal. The expenditure of the money is entirely within the control of the States.
Senator McLACHLAN laid on the table Customs Tariff memorandum showing rates of duty under items in Customs Tariff 1933, as compared with : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Has the Minister received from the Tariff Board itsreport dealing with the protective incidence of exchange and primage duties?
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Has the attention of the Minister been drawn to a paragraph in the West Australian of 23rd May last to the effect that the secretary of the Western Australian branch of the Australian Aero Club (Mr. J. H. Moore) had stated that he had been informed that a printed circular containing an article entitled “ The Air Mail Scandal “ had recently been circulated anonymously, but in such a manner as to lead the public to believe that it had been published by the club. Mr. Moore had also said that he had not seen the circular referred to, but the club had issued no circular dealing with the subject, and he wished ‘to dissociate the club from the circular and any views expressed in it?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
Yes. I might also mention that I have received the following letter, dated 23rd May, from the honorary secretary of the Australian
Aero Club (West Australian section) : –
It has been brought to the notice of the club that an article entitled “ The Air Mail Scandal “ has been circulated amongst members of the Commonwealth Parliament. I have not seen a copy of the circular, but I am informed that it is an extract from The Light Aeroplane, a local journal, which is the official organ of the club. I also understand that the circular gives the impression that it was published by this club.
The club wishes it to be understood that it was not responsible for the circular. Further, that the article of which it purports to be a copy, although it appears in the club’s official organ, does not necessarily express the club’s views. The club has no control over matter appearing in The Light Aeroplane other than under club notes.
A statement was published in the West Australian of to-day’s date dissociating the club from the circular.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
Has the Government come to any decision in regard to the request of the recent Wheat Conference that a committee should be appointed to inquire into the wheat industry in Australia?
– The matter is receiving the consideration of the Government.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
The Chancellor of the Exchequer wishes it to be understood that this is an exceptional measure and does not, in any way, imply the withdrawal of his request regarding optional conversions on trustee securities published in the press of 14th January last?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
There is no reason to suppose that as and when the Resident Minister in London is able to advise the Government that satisfactory arrangements have been made for the redemption of further portions of the outstanding indebtedness in London that similar arrangements cannot be made with the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
The following table shows the values of the total imports into the United Kingdom from all countries during the year 1932 of the products mentioned, and the values of the imports from Australia of those products: -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. I have been unable to trace any record of the Rhodesia loan, but further inquiries are being made. If it is found that Rhodesia is able to obtain better terms than Australia on the London money market, this is attributable to the fact that Australia’s credithas not yet fully recovered from the damage inflicted upon it by the foolish talk of repudiation by Mr. Lang, and others. 3 and 4. The Government is using every power at its command to obtain the best terms possible for its loan operations in London. During its term of office the indicator stock 5 per cent., due 1945, have risen from £76 18s. 9d. to £106 18s. 9d. on the 27th March last. Due to the disturbed conditions of world affairs there has since been a slight general fall in the value of all gilt-edged securities, but it is confidently anticipated that the general recognition of the soundness of the measures taken by Australia to grapple with the conditions arising out of the world economic depression will restore her credit to a point which will enable her to obtain from the money market as good terms as any British dominion. If Australia cannot obtain the best terms at the moment, it is solely due to the unfortunate nature of the propaganda in connexion with this matter, for which the honorable senator and his party are chiefly responsible.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - Honorable senators will remember that, during the course of yesterday’s proceedings, after the VicePresident of the Executive Council had moved the first reading of the Customs Tariff Bill, he was immediately followed by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes), who, in his speech, made some reference to the bill itself. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) took the point of order that, in discussing a money bill, which the Customs Tariff Bill avowedly is, it was not competent, having regard to the Standing Orders and usage of the Senate, to refer to the subject-‘ matter of the bill. It became necessary for the Chair to give a ruling, and I said that, in the absence of a fuller acquaintance with the subject, I would give a provisional ruling to the effect that honorable senators could address themselves to the subject before the Chair, but could make incidental reference to the subjectmatter of the bill. They could refer, according to their inclination, to subjects foreign to the bill. Since giving that ruling, I have looked closely into the matter, and am unable to come to any other conclusion than that which I expressed yesterday. According to my reading of the Standing Orders, and my knowledge of the usage of the Senate, I am convinced that, on the first reading of a Customs Tariff Bill, ‘honor.able senators would be in order in referring to irrelevant matters, as well as to the bill itself. I direct the attention of honorable senators to Standing Order 190, which reads -
In bills which the Senate may not amend, the question “ That this bill be now read a first time “ may be debated, and the debate need not be relevant to the subject-matter of such bill.
As all honorable senators know, this Standing Order varies the procedure with regard to the first reading stages of bills. No debate is allowed on the motion for the first reading of bills which the Senate, may amend, but with respect to bills such as that now under discussion, Standing Order 190 clearly lays down the rule that debate may take place on the motion for the first reading, and provides further that such debate need not be relevant to the subject-matter of the bill. I would specially emphasize the words “ need not be “relevant “. In my view, and according to their ordinary acceptation, those words mean that honorable senators may exercise the option clearly given to them by the Standing Order, and thus may discuss subjects not relevant to the subjectmatter of the bill, and deal also with the bill itself; that is to say, the Standing Order does not limit the exercise of free speech by any honorable senator in the discussion of bills which the Senate may not amend. If the Standing Order merely provided that the bill might be debated, obviously the debate would be confined to the subject-matter of the bill. But since it provides that the debate “ need not be rolevant “ to the subject-matter of the bill, honorable senators have the option of debating either the bill itself or subjects not relevant to it.
I regard the point of order taken yesterday by the right honorable the Leader of the Senate as a very important one, because it impinges on the right of honorable senators in this chamber, and, if upheld, would limit the exercise of that freedom, which, I submit, Standing Order 190 jealously secures to them. I find endorsement for this view in Standing Order 252, which reads -
Bequests to the House of Representatives may be made at all or any of the following stages of a bill which the Senate may not amend : -
Upon the motion for the first reading of any such bill; . . .
Since the Customs Tariff Bill now under discussion in this chamber is a measure which the Senate may not amend, Senator Johnston yesterday availed himself of the procedure laid down in Standing Order 252 to move that a request be made to the House of Representatives to amend the bill in a certain direction. As Standing Order 252 clearly lays down the procedure to be taken, I fail to see why an amendment requesting the House of Representatives to take certain action having been submitted, the bill itself cannot be debated. Obviously, an honorable senator moving such a motion must of necessity debate it. Otherwise, the discussion would be unintelligible. His intention, I presume, would be to persuade the Senate that his proposal was an improvement upon “ the bill itself. Therefore, Senator Johnston was in order in referring to the bill. Otherwise, his attempt to have it amended would have been unavailing. To elucidate the point I would ask: Is it required that the accident - I use that word advisedly - of moving an amendment, is necessary to secure to honorable senators that freedom of speech in debate which is provided for them under our Standing Orders? If the view expressed- yesterday by the right honorable the Leader of the Senate were upheld, it would follow that, if no amendment to this bill had been submitted, honorable senators, in the discussion on the motion for the first reading, would not have had. an opportunity to refer to the subject-matter of the bill. But, as I have shown, Standing Order 252 puts beyond dispute the claim that an honorable senator, on the motion for the first reading of a bill which the Senate may not amend, has an unchallengeable right to refer to the subject-matter of such bill.
I have precedent for my ruling on this important point. During the consideration of the motion for the first reading of the first Supply Bill, received in the Senate from the House of Representatives, a request was made to that House to amend the bill in a certain direction. In the very nature of things, the debate on such a question must have been relevant to the subject-matter of the bill. The late Sir Richard Chaffey Baker then occupied the chair which I am privileged to fill to-day. On that o’ccasion, the Senate was permitted to discuss the subjectmatter of the bill, which the right honorable the Leader of’ the Senate now contends should not be permitted.
– There is further precedent for the practice. During the debate on an appropriation bill in 1903, President Baker said - .
If he will refer to Standing Order 182, he will see that, on the first reading, he could have made any remarks which he liked.
On the same occasion the President said-
On the first reading of a bill, which it may not amend, the debate may extend to any matter.
I direct particular attention to the words “ any matter.” At a later date in. the history of this Parliament,’ a ruling on the subject was given by the late President Givens. During the debate on a supply bill in June, 1915, he ruled as- follows: -
I do not propose to rule the honorable senator out of order, because he is, no doubt, entitled to discuss details of the measure on the motion for the first reading, but I desired to indicate a more convenient course for the honorable senator, and for honorable senators generally.
In 1931, my immediate predecessor, Senator Kingsmill, was in the chair when this point was raised, and the ruling that he gave was clearly in favour of some power being reserved to any honorable senator who desired to request the House of Representatives to amend a money bill. The language that he employed was as follows: -
Without prejudice to the powers of requesting amendments to money bills on the first reading, as contained in Standing Order 252, matters of general interest not relevant to the bill shall be discussed during the debate on the first reading.
I direct attention to the care with which that language was chosen. The use of the words “without prejudice, to the powers of requesting amendments to money bills “ clearly proves that the President made the reservation that the subject-matter of ‘the bill could be referred to in the moving for requests such as the request moved for yesterday by Senator Johnston. It will be noticed that while he stated that “matters Hot relevant to the bill shall be discussed during the debate on the first reading “ he made no direct prohibition of the discussion of relevant subjects. He obviously realized that any honorable senator who wished to move for the amendment of a money bill should have reserved to him the power to refer to the subject-matter of the bill, so that he might argue in favour of the superiority of the amendment over the motion that he proposed to amend.
In conclusion, may I say that this is not a simple, but rather - an involved matter. The Standing Orders Committee is at present endeavouring to clarify the Standing Orders in many directions, and I would suggest that it give consideration to the wording of this standing order, so as to remove whatever doubts may exist in regard to its meaning, and also conserve the rights and privileges to which honorable senators are entitled.
– Listening to your ruling, Mr. President - which I have no desire to challenge in any way - I gathered that you appeared to be under the impression that in my point of order yesterday, I raised the question of the competency of Senator Johnston or any other honorable senator to move that a request for an amendment be sent to the House of Representatives. I beg to assure you that that was not embraced in my point of order, which simply asked whether an honorable senator could discuss the subjectmatter of the bill on the motion for its first reading.
[3.38]. - I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
This measure is non-contentious in character. Its object is to enable the Commonwealth to accept, in accordance with Section 122 of the Constitution, the administration of the Australian Antarctic Territory.
On the 7th February last, an order in council was made affirming that His Majesty the King has sovereign rights over the Antarctic Territory, other than Adelie Land, south of 60 degrees south, and between 160 degrees east and 45 degrees east, and placing that territory under the authority of the Commonwealth from the date when the necessary legislation was passed by the Commonwealth Parliament.
The area referred to is shown on the small map which has been prepared for the information of honorable senators, and is reproduced on page 1953 of the Debates. It will be seen that it includes the eastern part of Queen Maud Land, Enderby Land, Kemp Land, MacRobertson Land, Lars Christensen Land, Princess Elizabeth Land, Queen Mary Land, Knox Land, Banzare Land, Wilkes Land, King George V. Land, and Oates Land, and certain small islands lying off the coast. The name “ Banzare,” I point out, is not a variation of the Japanese word of acclamation, but is derived from the combination of the initial letters in “British and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition,” which found and named the piece of land to which it is attached. Enderby Land was discovered as long ago as 1831 by a British sealer named John Biscoe. Two years later, another British sealer named Kemp discovered the land which now bears his name. In 1902, the Australian Antarctic Expedition explored and named Wilkes Land, King George V. Land, and Queen Mary Land. The British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition of 1929- 30 and 1930-31 explored, during these two seasons, the greater part of the sector, including Ender by Land and Kemp Land, new areas which it named MacRobertson Land, Princess Elizabeth Land, and Queen Mary Land, a new land linking Knox and Wilkes Lands, which it named Banzare Land, and King George V. Land.
Foreign discoveries in the area have been that of Knox Land, in 1840, by Captain George Wilkes, of the United States Navy, and, in 1902, that of the Gaussberg in what is now Queen Mary Land, by the German Antarctic Expedition. In January, 1930, the Norwegian captain, Riiser Larsen, in the Norvegia, closely following the Discovery, visited the area west of Enderby Land, and gave it the name of Queen Maud’s Land, and in 1931; the captain of another Norwegian vessel, the Torlyn, gave the name Lars Christensen Land to an area between MacRobertson Land and Princess Elizabeth Land, which the Discovery had explored some days before. These names, it will be noted, we are retaining on our map.
The reason for asking the Senate to agree to this bill is that the whaling season is approaching, and, while the Government of New Zealand is providing for the administration of its area in the Antarctic, and the British Government has taken action for the administration of the area south of the Falkland Islands, Australia has no administration for the remaining area. There is an international agreement for the regulation of whaling in order to prevent the extinction of these valuable animals.
The growth of the whaling industry and the matter of its regulation, the presence of numbers ofvessels every season in Antarctic waters, and the need for some protection of other Antarctic fauna and birds, if they were not to be killed off indiscriminately for the sake of the fresh food their flesh and eggs provided for whalers, or for the oil that could be extracted from them, all emphasized the need for some administration of these areas. Accordingly, in 1908, the Antarctic territory south of the Falkland Islands was placed under the administration of that colony, and ordinances were issued for the regulation of whaling, and the licensing of whalers. In 1923, the Ross Dependency, comprising the area round the Boss Sea, was placed under the administration of New Zealand, and similar measures taken for the regulation of whaling there. In November, 1924, the French Government issued a decree placing Adelie Land under the administration of the French colony of Madagascar. This land had been discovered by a Frenchman, Captain Dumont d’Urville, in January, 1840. The British Government had tacitly recognized the French claim to Adelie Land in 1911 and 1913.
The annexation by France of Adelie Land called attention to the unsatisfactory position, from the Australian point of view, with regard to the Antarctic regions south of Australia, and in 1925 a deputation from the Australian National Research Council urged on the then Prime Minister, the Right Honorable S. M. Bruce, that sanction be sought for the administration by Australia of the Antarctic continent between 90 degrees E. and 160 degrees E. The matter was discussed at the Imperial Conference of 1926, and the report of the conference placed on record that there were certain areas to which a British title already existed by virtue of discovery, including Enderby Land, Kemp Land, Queen Mary Land, the area which lies to the west of Adelie Land, and which, on its discovery by the Australian Antarctic Expedition in 1912, was denominated Wilkes Land, King George V. Land, and Oates Land. Meanwhile, whaling enterprises, having to some extent, Hobart as a port of departure, were beginning to operate in the area, and that made the matter of its administration more and more urgent.
In 1928, the Commonwealth Government decidedthat the time had come to make a more thorough exploration of the whole Australian sector. In conjunction with the Government of the United Kingdom and New Zealand, and generously assisted by certain private individuals, in particular Sir MacPherson Robertson, an expedition was fitted out which, under the leadership of Sir Douglas Mawson in the royal research ship Discovery, explored the greater portion of the sector between 160 degrees- east and 45 degrees east. In the course of those two seasons Sir Douglas Mawson proclaimed, on various occasions and at various points, British sovereignty over the whole area between 45 degrees and 160 degrees, except Adelie Land. One of the points at which this was done was at the Scullin Monolith, and another was at Capo Bruce, so associating the last two Prime Ministers with the history of the territory.
From the Australian point of view, there are good reasons for accepting the administration of the area. It has a considerable actual and potential economic importance. Parts of it have already been the scene of important whaling enterprises, and there is reason to believe that fur-bearing animals and some of the bird life could be developed economically. But, if such economic development is to take place without risking the total extinction of these creatures, there must be some regulation of the industries, and, obviously, there must be some authority charged with the enforcement of this and other regulations. In the area south of Australia this should be the duty of the Commonwealth Government. As the last three Commonwealth Governments have all been concerned in the stages preliminary to the present step, there should be general support for the bill. It may occur to honorable senators that the administration of this territory might involve Australia in considerable expense. I understand that that will not be so. The experience of the Government of New Zealand, upon which we shall largely base our methods, is that whaling vessels working in the New Zealand area make certain ports in New Zealand their base, and, as Hobart is the most convenient and economic point from which whaling ships can be operated in our area, it is expected that that port will be the base for this territory. Without great cost we shall be able to regulate, and subject to a certain amount of control, the whaling industry in the area, so fulfilling the international obligation into which we have entered, that of endeavouring to safeguard the native animals from extinction.
.- I have no opposition to offer to this bill. It would appear that this territory is another addition to the vast Empire of. which we form a part. I assume that the Government, like most of us, is more or less in .a state of ignorance concerning the potentialities of this territory. Certainly, honorable senators are placed at a disadvantage in discussing the subject, as they have not received very much information upon it. No doubt the Commonwealth Government will exact a certain amount of revenue from the area in the form of royalties. I should like the Minister to give some indication of what the attitude of the Government would be if a suggestion were made that the terms of the Navigation Act should be applied in the waters of this territory. Probably a good many people will be employed in the Antarctic in the whaling and shipping industries at certain seasons of the year, and it is desirable that we should safeguard “their interests, for they will necessarily be engaged in arduous and trying work. If an assurance could be given that the interests of these people will be adequately protected, and that they will not be called upon to suffer unnecessary hardships, I should feel somewhat more satisfied in mind.
– We are, as usual, beng asked to do something in a hurry, on totally inadequate information. No honorable senator, including the Leader of - the Senate (Senator Pearce), who introduced the bill, knows very much about the implications of this measure. When a bill of this description is submitted to us for approval, we should have set out for our ‘consideration the exact liabilities of Australia in respect of it. What are our functions in this territory to be? Who is to discharge those functions, and at what cost to the Commonwealth? What machinery is proposed to enable the work of administration to be performed there? Is there a likelihood of our acceptance of this territory bringing us into conflict with other interests ; and, if so, what developments are likely to follow? The statement that this is a machinery measure is not sufficient. We are told that our acceptance of this territory will add something to the great empire of which we form a part. Such words are positively meaningless to me. I want to know exactly what we are expected to do with this territory, and how we are expected to do it. I am not in a position to give an. intelligent vote on the measure, nor is any other honorable senator. I, therefore, ask the Minister to withdraw the bill until he is in a position to furnish the Senate with full and complete information in regard to it.
– I am in that position now.
– I am quite prepared to agree to the withdrawal of the bill for the time being, to enable the Minister to prepare for us .the information which he says he has available.
– I also protest against the submission of this bill to the Senate with so little information. We do not know where we am This is, apparently, an important bill. I suppose I read as many newspapers as any other honorable senator. Some little time ago I read several press articles regarding a difference of opinion as to who actually should own the Antarctic region. I believe that there was some difficulty in regard to Norway, and that representations were made because of Norwegian explorations and whaling interests. ‘ I have not a very clear recollection of the contents of the newspaper articles to which I have referred, but I remember .enough to realize that we are dealing with a very important subject. We should not be expected to pass this bill at a moment’s notice. I agree with the suggestion that the consideration of the measure should bc adjourned until additional information is provided for us.
– My objection to this bill is based upon other considerations than those mentioned by the three honorable senators who have preceded me in this discussion. While I shall not register strong disapproval of the method by which Australian sovereignty- over this land is to be implemented, I direct the attention of the Senate to the fact that we are once more being asked to do something which will increase the power of the Executive over Parliament. This bill contains, three clauses of which the really important one is clause 3, for it contains the provision that the Governor-General, acting on the advice of his Ministers, may make regulations for the control of this area. It will be competent, if this clause is agreed to, for this or any succeeding government to make regulations respecting subjects which may or may not be connected with the control of this territory. It is possible, as mentioned by the Leader of. the Opposition, that we may be brought into difficulties respecting the application of the Navigation Act. International complications, such as those referred to by Senator Collings and Senator MacDonald, may also arise. Very little is known definitely regarding the areawhich we are asked to possess, but we know that it is visited periodically by those engaged primarily in the whaling industry. It may not be practicable for the Government to introduce a comprehensive measure to deal with the control of this territory, but we should at least know what we are committing Australia to. I hope that the Minister, in his reply, will furnish us with much fuller information than he gave us in his second-reading speech.
– I also think that we should have more information on this subject, particularly as to whether the stated object of our acceptance of sovereignty over this part of the Antarctic circle, which is the protection of whales from extermination, is likely to be achieved.
– Whales have been exterminated from the Arctic region.
SenatorRAE. - It is very likely that they will also be exterminated from the Antarctic, and so, too, may the other animal and bird life there. Is there any guarantee that our acceptance of sovereignty over this area will do anything to protect the native fauna? Other nations have taken possession of certain portions of these regions. On glancing at the map supplied to honorable senators, I notice that a considerable area has been attached to the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic, and another large portion lies opposite the southern end of the African continent. Australia, as usual, has obtained the largest area. Its dependency extends from the 45th to the 160th lines of east longitude. We have had no statement from the Minister as to the area of our new possession. It is intersected by a narrow strip of territory which embraces Adelie Land, and this is a French dependency. Adjoining the Australian dependency is another huge area which has been attached to New Zealand. It was stated recently in the cable news, that Norway had a portion of these regions allocated to her. If so, quite a number of countries will have separate portions of these regions under their sway; but I desire to know how in these circumstances it will be possible to prevent the destruction of the -whaling industry. How can there be common agreement between the communities and nations interested in these regions, unless they confer with one another and makea joint arrangement? The French dependency is a narrow strip which extends to the South Pole. If that nation undertook whaling expeditions, how would it be possible to keep the French, or any one of the several nationals, within the boundaries of their own territories? What method would be adopted to prevent the regulations framed by the various nations from clashing? Our mere acceptance of sovereignty over a portion of the Antarctic regions will do nothing except, possibly, cause complicated relations with other nations in the future. With the addition of its Antarctic dependency, Australia’s territory will extend practically from the equator to the South Pole, and will be one of the largest areas under the control of any power. I suppose that not a single human inhabitant is to be found in our Antarctic dependency at the present time.
– If gold were discovered in that region, itwould soon be populated.
– No doubt ; but I wish to know how it is possible to control the operations of expeditions in search of whales and seals, and to confine their activities to their own areas.
– I should like to know under whose jurisdiction the regions indicated on the map by the uncoloured sectors come. Some time ago, I read certain statements about the Antarctic in the press of the United States of America, and it was said that the Government of that country should take action to obtain control of some of these regions. Has the Leader of the Government any information on that matter? The explorers of Norway have played an important part in discoveries in the Antarctic. What is the opinion of that country with regard to Australia assuming control of a portion of these regions ? “ It seems to me that the Governor-General will have complete control over the Australian dependency, because he will have power to make ordinances regarding it, and I am afraid that the present Government may antagonize the governments of other countries which are interested in these regions. More time should be allowed for the discussion of this matter, so that additional information upon it may be supplied by the Leader of the Government.
.- I agree with those honorable senators who contend that it is desirable to obtain additional information on this important matter. I happen to know a little about the exploitation of the Antarctic regions by the Norwegian whaling companies, and I can make a fair estimate of the amount of wealth that they have wrested from this portion of the globe during recent years. It appears that they have exploited this territory to such an extent that they have voluntarily decided to have a close season for a period, in order to prevent the destruction of the source of their enormous profit. No visit has been paid to these regions in the last year or two by the Norwegian whaling fleet. I recall that, a few years ago, this fleet was fitted out in the port of Hobart, and it comprised a large mother- or factory-ship and hosts of smaller craft known as chasers. It has been fitted out at Hobart on several occasions. I understand that the operations in the Antarctic seas were so profitable that the value of the oil taken over the last year or two runs into considerably over £1,000,000. It would be possible for the Minister to obtain more accurate information than can be supplied to-day with regard to the profits of this fleet.
– One company is said to have made a profit of nearly £500,000.
– In all probability that statement is correct. Many difficulties arise in connexion with the proposal that Australia should take control over a large area in the Antarctic regions,because very little revenue is obtainable by doing so.
– That is not demonstrated by New Zealand’s experience.
– The Minister gave us no information regarding the revenue obtained by New Zealand from these regions; but I agree with the Minister that some form of control should be exercised by Australia, in conjunction with New Zealand, to prevent the exploitation of the whaling industry. I suggest that the Minister should postpone the consideration of the bill for a period, to enable further information to be obtained ‘on the matter. I have not the slightest doubt that, subsequently, the bill will be agreed to. I suggest that the debate be adjourned in order that fuller information may be made available to honorable senators.
– There is no necessity for that.
– It would help us if the Minister were to give us further information.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for Defence) [4.11]. - I curtailed my remarks because I thought that the advantages to Australia from this legislation were so obvious. I could have given much more detailed information than I gave, had I thought that honorable senators desired it.
In reply to Senator Barnes, I have to say that the Navigation Act will not apply automatically to this territory any more than to other territories under the control of the Commonwealth. It could, however, be applied by the Commonwealth to any of these territories.
– Would that be done by ordinance?
– Yes. Senator Collings asked who would be responsible for the administration of the territory. The Commonwealth would be responsible. It will discharge its responsibilities in regard to this territory in exactly the same way that it does in relation to Norfolk Island and New Guinea. Legislation will be by means of ordinances, and, in the absence of any form of local government, the Commonwealth will administer the territory through the ordinary departments; matters under the head of external affairs will be dealt with by the External Affairs Department, and the regulation of whaling by the appropriate Commonwealth department. No new department will need to be set up.
– We cannot save the life of a whale by an ordinance made in Canberra, unless there is some one to supervise it.
– The pursuit of whales in the Ross Sea is regulated through a government department in New Zealand. Australia can act similarly.
At this juncture it is not possible to give any accurate estimate of the cost involved ; but I am informed that when the products of the whaling industry were more profitable than they are now, New Zealand covered all expenses, and, in addition, made a profit of about £10,000 a year. In view of the fall in the price of whaling products, it is probably that New Zealand is now doing little more than paying expenses.
– Was that accomplished by means of a levy of 2s. 6d. on every cask of oil?
– It was done by means of licences.
I now have the figures relating to the Falkland Islands administration. They show a revenue of £48,000, and an expenditure of £31,000 during 1931 - a clear profit of £17,000 in 1931 after spending a considerable sum in research.
– Those figures are of no value to us.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.They are of value. Australia will control a larger area of ocean than is controlled by the Falkland Islands, and, consequently, our revenue should be greater. It will be a matter for Parliament to decide how much, if any, of the revenue is to be spent on research. Legislation will be by means of ordinances, which will have to be laid on the table of Parliament. It will therefore be competent for either House of the Parliament to disallow any ordinance. No more power is vested in the Executive by this legislation than exists in existing legislation relating to other territories under the control of the Commonwealth.
I shall now explain how New Zealand collects the revenue and polices the whaling industry in the territory under its control. In modern whaling, it is the practice for what is known as a factory ship to be sent down to the area in which operations are being conducted. This ship is accompanied by a number of smaller vessels, which catch the whales, and bring them to the factory ship for treatment. Every ship has to be licensed. Any unlicensed vessel is subject to very heavy penalties. On every factory ship there is a government inspector, who remains on it for the whole of the whaling season, in order to ensure the due observance of the regulations.
– Then some expense is involved?
– Yes; but, so far, New Zealand has always had an excess of revenue over expenditure.
asked what regulations the Government had in view, and how effect would be given to them. Some time ago there was an international conference on the subject of the preservation of whales. A convention was drawn up, prescribing the conditions which each of the nations undertook to observe in order to regulate whaling.
– Were any spheres of influence prescribed; and is there any danger of conflict with other nations?
– There is no possibility of conflict. Each of the nations which accepted the convention, including New Zealand and the Falkland Islands, will apply the rules laid down at the international conference to the waters under its jurisdiction. Those rules prevent the killing of certain kinds of whales and young whales; they stipulate that all parts of a whale which are of any commercial value whatever shall be fully utilized, and also that all whalers must be licensed. All the nations which are interested in the Antarctic are in agreement regarding those conditions. A further condition is that the crew of a vessel may not be paid on the basis of the value of the products of the whales caught. It was found that that system led to the indiscriminate killing of whales, and to the use of only their most profitable parts, thereby causing great waste. France is observing that condition in regard to the waters off Adelie Land, and the Falkland Islands and New Zealand are also observing it. So far, no difficulty has arisen in that connexion, and it is not anticipated that Australia’s experience will be different from theirs. If honorable senators will study the map, they will see that the greater part of the territory in the region of the South Pole will be policed by countries which have pledged themselves to observe theseconditions in order to ensure the perpetuation of the whaling industry.
– Can the right honorable gentleman give us any idea of the area affected ?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE. No. Most of it is under snow and ice, and, although in the future minerals may be found there, its immediate value lies chiefly in its fish, birds, seals and whales.
– Who controls the two unshaded areas shown on the map?
– At present that is No Man’s Land.
– The names shown on the map seem to indicate that one. area belongs to the United States of America, and the other to Norway.
– At any rate, Great Britain is not laying claim to that part of the territory. I think that there is sufficient information before this Senate to show that Australia, by consenting to police the whaling industry in these waters, is doing a good service to the world in general. I ask honorable senators to pass the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Ordinances).
– In view of the fact that the policing of this territory and its waters will be undertaken by the Australian navy, I wish to know whether any provision is being made in the ordinances governing the territory for better conditions in respect of food, clothing and wages for the personnel, not only of the navy, but also of merchant ships that trade in these waters. Many Norwegian vessels engaged in the whaling industry have been manned by scab labour, and when they have been docked at Australian ports for overhaul and renovation, trade union officials, who have boarded them for the purpose of ensuring that they are manned under proper labour conditions, have been sent about their business. Are we to allow the whaling industry in the Antarctic waters to be exploited by foreign nations at the expense of our Australian seamen? A large number of Tasmanians have, at various times, shipped on whaling ships. They have had to work day and night throughout the whaling season, and their conditions have been bad indeed. I should like incorporated in this billa provision which would afford some protection to those seamen.
– Why not provide radiators ?
– This is a question, not of providing radiators, but of treating our seamen fairly. Of course, the honorable senator, who is a doctor of law, may want a radiator to warm his brains, which are, apparently, frigid.
– Order! The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the clause before the Chair.
– I appeal to you, Mr. Chairman, to protect me from the hostile attack of Senator Brennan, who is a member of the legal group headed by Mr. Menzies, K.C.
– The Chair will give the honorable senator the protection to which he is entitled as a member of this chamber.
– I shall be quite satisfied with an assurance from the Leader of the Government (Senator Pearce) that some provision will be inserted in the bill to compel foreign vessels employing Australian seamen to observe the union rates of wages and conditions.
.- I cannot allow the remarks of Senator Dunn to pass without some contradiction. He has made it appear that the conditions under which Australian seamen engage in the whaling industry in the Antarctic are so bad that the intervention of this Parliament is necessary. I happen to know some men who have shipped on whaling vessels, and they are quite prepared to re-ship when the opportunity offers. This is not a kid glove industry. The work is arduous, but that is well known to the men before they undertake it. The crews of the Norwegian vessels are perfectly satisfied with their conditions. Tasmanians who, from choice, have shipped on whaling vessels operating in the Antarctic, have told me that, although the life is hard, there is always plenty to eat. They have, invariably, enjoyed the best of health, and have been free from disease, and, unlike the residents of Canberra, have never known what it is to catch a cold. They were quite satisfied with the conditions, including the wages, and when employees are satisfied it is wrong to suggest that they have been badly treated by their employers.
– Would the honorable senator be surprised to learn that the men receive no wages, and have to work for a share of the profits?
– Men are no longer paid according to the catch; those conditions disappeared years ago. Regular wages are paid, and any one who suggests that the conditions of modern whaling are in any respect comparable with those prevailing in the old days displays his ignorance of the subject.
– We are concerned, not about foreigners, but about Australian nationals employed by foreign captains or agents to accompany whaling expeditions to the Antarctic, and we have evidence from trade union officials in Tasmania that the conditions obtaining on the floating sperm factories are not at all satisfactory. I am merely asking for an assurance by the Minister that action will be taken to protect the wages and conditions of men who may offer for service with foreign whaling expeditions.
[4.33]. - This bill does not purport to regulate conditions in the whaling industry. Those conditions will be the subject of an ordinance, and the time to discuss them will be when the ordinance is presented to the Senate.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 31st May (vide page 2011), on motion by Senator McLachlan -
That the bill be now read a first time.
Upon which Senator E. B. Johnston had moved, by way of amendment -
That all the words after “be” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “ returned to the House of Representatives with a request that the House will so amend the bill that the terms and the spirit of the Ottawa agreement shall be given effect to in so far as concerns the British preferential duties referred to in the bill, that is to say, will so amend the bill that the proposed duties against British goods shall be reduced to the level of the 1921-1930 tariff in all cases where they have been raised above that level without report by the Tariff Board.”
– Rarely is a bill submitted to Parliament which relates to the whole national economy and reveals the true policy of the Government, particularly towards the rural industries. This measure affects, not only the whole national economy, but also the structural costs, and it is peculiarly indicative of the attitude and intentions of the Government towards the export industries. A casual glance at the schedule is sufficient to show that the Government is attempting to perpetuate the tariff schedule introduced by the Scullin Government, and it is my duty, as the representative of rural interests, and as a party to the policy on which the United Australia and Country parties jointly appealed to the electors, to analyse the views expressed by leading members of the present Ministry regarding the fiscal policy of the Scullin Government. I am astounded to find the Leader of the Senate and the Minister in charge of the bill playing political leap-frog, or riding on a merrygoround, the tune of which changes nightly. Those honorable gentlemen indicted the Scullin Government for what they termed its crazy tariff. They proclaimed that the Scullin duties were uneconomic, and would increase unemployment, and they added that, if
Labour’s fiscal policywere allowed to continue to operate, the nation would crash in ruins. Although I was not a member of the Senate at that time, I endorsed the views expressed by the then Leader of the Opposition, and went on the hustings and employed all the oratory at my command to induce the people to throw the Scullin Government out of office. I did that because I held the opinion that the leaders of the then Opposition were sincere, and believed in the fiscal views they were expounding. But as I now find them introducing this bill, which violates all sound economic principles, and will prevent the export industries from regaining their feet, it is my duty to indict the Government without fear or favour. Speaking on the Address-in-Reply on the 21st November, 1929, Senator Sir George Pearce said -
I remind them that it will be a very bad introduction to the Imperial and Economic Conferences if they endorse the statement made by the present Minister for Trade and Customs ( Mr. Fenton ) the other day, that this Government intends to build up a tariff wall so high as to prevent the introduction into Australia of all goods that can be manufactured here - in other words, to prevent Britain from finding a market for any of her manufactures in the Commonwealth. I ask them to remember that the British preferential duties in regard to Australian sugar, wine and dried fruits, as well as many other primary products are of substantial benefit to Australia; they are helping to keep many people of this country in employment. If we expect Britain to grant concessions to Australia, we must, in return, be prepared to show some consideration for British manufactures.
Again, speaking on the Supply Bill on the 25th June, 1931, the right honorable gentleman said -
Another phase of economic reconstruction is the artificial protection of industry. This Parliament cannot deal with that matter. It can be settled only by the people themselves, and they should be consulted at the earliest opportunity. … It is, however, very important that in the economic reconstruction of this country, we should alter the present policy of proceeding in a vicious circle. That policy has been one of increasing the cost of production, and then raising the tariff. An increase in the tariff results in an increase in the cost of production.
There can be no misapprehension of those sentiments; the words speak for themselves.
– And they are correct.
– They are fundamentally correct; yet the present Government, by the introduction of this tariff, is throwing into the discard those sound economic principles which were expressed by present Ministers when in Opposition. Speaking on the Appropriation Bill on the 4th August, 1931, Senator Sir George Pearce said -
Australia has been trying to hop along on one leg, if I may use that expression. We have been trying to place the whole burden on the primary industries, but that cannot go on. Canada has no better resources than Australia, and yet, with more formidable competitors right alongside it, that dominion, with a lower tariff than ours, has managed to build up secondary industries which can not only compete in Canada against outside competitors, but also export 35 per cent. of their manufactured goods.
Further on he said - and this epitomizes his argument -
Our Himalayan tariff has no equal in any part of the world. We are not selling so many manufactured goods to-day as we were in 1914, when the tariff was about 30 per cent. lower than to-day. Therefore, the solution to the problem is not to be found in a continuance of the present fiscal policy.
Yet after that criticism of the Scullin tariff, the Leader of the Senate is to-day, because he is a member of the Government, advocating not only the perpetuation of the Scullin duties, which he condemned as economically unsound, but also the imposition of higher duties. I charge the Leader of the Government with having boxed the political compass. Apparently the evils of the Scullin Government’s régime - and they undoubtedly were evils - immediately the then Opposition became the Government, ceased to be evils, and became virtues. If we are to have such political somersaults, such fiscal acrobatics, what hope is there of sound government? The same somersaulting has been indulged in by the Minister in charge of the bill. He also has been able to change his fiscal ideas over night, to shed his opinions as easily as a snake sheds its skin in the spring.
– The honorable senator does not know my fiscal opinions.
– The opinions of the Minister in charge of the bill are as multi-coloured as was Joseph’s coat. I have on record here what the honorable senator said when the Scullin tariff was under discussion, and I ask him how he can reconcile those opinions with what he has said in defence of the present tariff. Let us see whether the principles he so effectively advocated when in Opposition bear any relation to those he defends to-day. Speaking on the financial statement on the 3rd of September, 1930, he said-
The statement expresses the pious hope, a hope not yet realized, that the tariff policy of the Government would cure all our ills. Higher tariffs, even to the extent of prohibitions, were imposed with a view to improving the position, but even the Government itself does not expect relief from that source. So far from assisting us, the higher duties and prohibitions have caused further unemployment and greater financial difficulties. The Government’s fiscal policy has had a boomerang effect.
Later, in a still more definite utterance, he wipes away the fogs of confusion, and leaves us with the stark truth. Speaking on the 5 th of November, the honorable senator said -
When at Geneva I found that, to say the least of it, there was a feeling abroad that we were unwilling to buy the goods of any other country, but desired to pour into Europe and other centres all the primary products which we are capable of exporting, taking nothing whatever in return. That point was stressed in the debate yesterday, and we should not lose sight of it because representations have been made to us from powerful quarters regarding the trade balances between various European countries and Australia. We must have regard to this matter in the interests, not only of our local industries, but our overseas trade.
Now, listen to this, honorable members of the Senate -
We should not take tariff action, even in regard to minor matters in connexion with our secondary industries, if it is likely to give offence to foreign countries. We certainly should not levy extreme duties that immediately give rise to resentment on the part of some European nations, which are not slow to show their annoyance by imposing retaliatory duties on the primary products which we have to export.
I ask honorable senators to keep that statement in mind, especially in view of the means adopted by the Government to implement the Ottawa agreement, by raising the duties against foreign countries. Let the honorable senator reconcile, if he can, that action of the Government with his previous statement. I do not wish to be constantly attacking the Government; but one is compelled to speak out when the Government reveals itself as utterly devoid of constructive statesmanship. To-day the rural industries are like Samson after he had lost his hair- they are without vigour and without enterprise. When we see the Opposition of a little while ago - now the Government - adopting, defending and glprifying the evil practices of its predecessors, we are justified in making a reasonable protest on behalf of those whom we represent.
– The only hope for Australia is to put the Country party in power !
– I agree; and there will be a Country party government in power before long.I propose now to refer to what the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) said when in opposition. It was not only in this chamber that pronounced fiscal opinions were expounded. Mr. Latham, as Leader of the Nationalist party, entered into an honorable agreement regarding the tariff with the Country party, and that agreement has been ditched. It has been trampled in the dust. The present tariff policy of the Government is a travesty of what was agreed upon. Speaking in the tariff debate during the regime of the Scullin Government, Mr. Latham said -
It must not be thought that every proposal for protecting an industry which is in existence in Australia is a desirable one. Each must be considered on its merits. There are some who say that no one can bea protectionist unless he supports every duty that happens to be proposed on a particular occasion. I do not adopt that attitude. By unwise protection we may do ourselves very great harm indeed. All honorable members are acquainted with the inquiry made into the Australian tariff in 1929. On page6 of that report the following summary of conclusions appears: -
We consider that further uneconomic increases in the tariff are probable, unless some action is taken to apply economic principles to the tariff. Our conclusions on effects indicate that the total burden of the tariff has probably reached the economic limits, and an increase in this burden might threaten the standard of living. It is important, therefore, that no further increase in, or extensions of, the tariff should be made without the most rigorous scrutiny ofthe costs involved.
That pronouncement was made as the result of the most complete inquiry from an economic point of view; in fact, the most complete that has ever been made in Australia,
It is evident that the report of the tariff committee of 1929 was known to the Attorney-General at that time, because he quoted one of its conclusions in the House of Representatives on the 21st April. Speaking in the same debate, Mr. Latham, continued -
The tariff lias gone so far in some directions as to invite retaliation by other countries. Although there may be no retaliation by a country as such, it may still be exercised by the merchants and the public of that country. Having regard to the dependence of Australia upon her export trade, and to the importance of finding, and not only finding and maintaining, but also extending markets for our primary products, we should be careful, indeed, before we do anything to antagonize without fully understanding the risks we are running.
First of all, we have the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Pearce) who, then in opposition, indicted the Scullin Government, without’ hesitation, for its tariff proposals. He described them as uneconomic, and calculated to bring the primary producers to ruin. The Minister, now in charge of the bill said practically the same thing, but enlarged upon the theme. He warned honorable senators that, if the tariff were raised any higher, other countries would retaliate. Mr. Latham also condemned the Scullin tariff proposals, and voiced opinions similar to those expressed at that time by the present Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Minister now in charge of the bill. Therefore, there is no excuse for the fiscal metamorphosis which we have witnessed. The Government is trying to impose on the people of Australia a tariff which, not only perpetuates the evils of the Scullin tariff, but. actually intensifies them. The possibility of retaliation by foreign countries has been increased. In -many cases it has come about.
It was interesting yesterday to hear the Minister in charge of the bill deny that any agreement had been entered into between the Country party and the United Australia Party regarding the tariff. I assert emphatically that there was such an agreement, and I expected that the Minister would* know all about it, because he is such a prominent member of the Government. I told the Minister, when he was speaking, that I would prove that the agreement had been made. I have the papers here, and I can show that the party I represent entered into the agreement, and that the agreement was jettisoned by the United Australia Party. It was an honorable agreement, whereby two great political parties entered into partnership, and two days before the final election count, on the 17th December, the Deputy Leader of the United Australia Party threw overboard every principle we had agreed upon. The Government has definitely betrayed the party to which I belong. Ve entered into the agreement, and we fought the election side by side, the Country party doing its best to secure the return of United Australia Party men as well as their own. Yet, two days before the election, the Country party was, as Senator Johnston said, “ sold a pup “.
– Was- that a written agreement ?
– The All For Australia Association and the Country movements were big forces in New South Wales before the last election, and they were co-operating with the Country party. We believed that the United Australia Party was a metropolitan party, and that it was time somebody came along to fight for the primary producers. The old cry went up, however, that we should achieve unity, irrespective of what principles we might have to sacrifice. The main thing, we were told, was that we should put up a united front against Labour. We entered into negotiations, and various conferences were held with the Nationalists and the All For Australia Association to see whether we could arrive at a basis which would give the primary producers aud exporting industries a fighting chance. After months of negotiation, a basis was agreed upon. The conferences were held in Sydney, in the private board room of one of the large companies. If honorable senators desire it, I shall name the company.
– I should like to know the name of it. ~
– At one of those conferences there were present the Deputy Leader of the Nationalist party (Mr. Latham), Mr. Bavin, then Leader of the Opposition in New South Wales, Mr. Stevens, his deputy, Sir Samuel Walder, Mr. Playfair, and
Mr. Stewart, now Minister for Commerce. In fact, we had all the high lights of the Nationalist party. On our side, I represented the Country movement in New South Wales, and there were also present Mr. Gibson, representing the All Eor Australia Association, Dr. Page, Leader of the Country party, Colonel Bruxner, and Mr. Drummond. Having been impressed by the fiscal views of the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Latham - views which were repeatedly endorsed by members of his party - we decided, at that conference, to evolve a constructive tariff policy, which would have the effect of lifting the burden from our export industries, and giving those engaged in them a reasonable chance to make ends meet.
Yesterday the Minister in charge of the bill denied that any definite agreement had been made. I repeat most emphatically that the parties concerned, at that Sydney conference entered into a partnership which, on our side, at all events, was one of mutual trust and confidence, fully prepared to share equally in political adversity or prosperity. We engaged, in that partnership, to devote the whole of our energies to the defeat of the Scullin Government, and, if successful, to share equally in the responsibility of Government. As evidence in support of my contention that an agreement was made, I quote the following from a report which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 14th October,1931: -
Unity at Federal Elections.
Representative Council tobe Created.
The points upon which finality has been reached include the following: -
Establishment of a council representative of rural, industrial, commercial and political interests.
The council to conduct the forthcoming federal elections, probably in May next.
City and country wings of the organization to be created.
A systematic revision of the tariff.
Improvements in the existing arbitration system.
Creation of new States, after referendums in the various districts.
State leadership to be settled subsequently by members of political parties in Parliament.
Later I shall have pleasure in making this newspaper report available for perusal by those honorable senators who wish to see it. And, lest any senator should question the right of the delegates at that conference to enter into an agreement, I remind them that the various organizations were represented as follows : -
National Party - The Deputy Leader of the Federal Opposition, Mr. Latham; the Leader of the State Opposition, Mr. Bavin ; the Deputy Leader of the State Opposition, Mr. Stevens; and Messrs. A. M. Helmsley and T. A. J. Playfair, M’s.L.C., S. Walder, and F. H. Stewart, now the Commonwealth Minister for Commerce.
United Country Party - Dr. Earle Page, M.P., and Messrs. A. Buttenshaw, M. F. Bruxner, and G. H. Drummond, M’s.L.A., A. K Trethowan, M.L.C., and myself.
Producers Advisory Council - Messrs. A. E. Heath, A. Howie, and C. L. A. Abbott, now the honorable member for Gwydir in the House of Representatives.
Mr. Abbott, I may add, was appointed secretary to the conference, and recorded the resolutions passed. These were the men who, without dissent, made an agreement not to perpetuate the Scullin Government’s tariff. Does any honorable senator believe that any member of the Country party would have approved the revalidation of that tariff? Does he believe that I would have taken the platform, side by side with candidates representing the United Australia Party,and fought for a policy that would place greater burdens on our primary producers? Of course not. It is only reasonable to assume that the agreement was made on the definite understanding that, if successful, the new Government, being representative of the organizations that were parties to the agreement, would refuse to revalidate the Scullin tariff, and would then revise the tariff in a downward direction. But what happened? That agreement, an honorable undertaking, as I have stated, was, without the slightest hesitation, thrown overboard two days prior to the day of the election. It was base treachery.
Further supporting my argument, the Sydney Morning Herald, on the 15th October, the day after the conference at which this agreement was made, made the following important announcement: -
After two days deliberation, a conference representative of the anti-extremist movement in New South Wales yesterday agreed upon a complete policy of unity for both the Federal and State elections. The activities of the Nationalist party, the United Country Movement, and the All For Australia League, have now been co-ordinated.
On Friday, the 10th November, the same newspaper published the following report : -
The various political parties in New South Wales opposed to the extreme elements in the Labour party will contest the forthcoming Federal and State elections as a unified force. It was announced yesterday afternoon that, following the recent unity conference in Sydney, agreement had been reached on all points.
No one having knowledge of the objective of the Country party would, for a moment, believe that Dr. Earle Page, its leader, ormyself, as representing the United Country movement, would have’ made a compact with the United Australia Party if we had thought that the new Ministry would continue the Scullin Government’s tariff policy. There was a definite agreement that the tariff would be reduced ; that the new Government would, early in its career, immediately the existing validation lapsed, introduce tariff proposals giving relief to our export industries, thus reducing the wide disparity that exists between factory and farm prices.
On the 21st November, the Sydney Morning Herald published the details of what it described as the new policy of the United Australia Party. This was the policy of the Country party, but then claimed by the Nationalist party. Here it is that all may read -
To create employment and lower the cost of living, it is agreed that there must be a reduction in the cost of production and distribution in both primary and secondary industries. This can largely be achieved by a revision of the industrial situation, and a revision of the tariff, which must be carried out equitably.
Tariff. - (1) The scientific revision of the tariff for the economic rehabilitation of Australia, with a view to the encouragement and protection of efficient primary and secondary industries; (2) the expansion of the export of primary and secondary products; (3) encouragement of Empire trade; (4) negotiation of reciprocal trade treaties with other nations.
What happened then? At a conference on the 27th November, candidates to represent the several parties were selected. Prior to that conference, the United Country Party had definitely decided to contest several seats which had been held by representatives of the United Australia Party, including Eden-Monaro. Had we persisted, and nominated our candidates for those seats, our representation in this Parliament would have been stronger than it is to-day. But, in the sacred cause of unity, and in the sincere belief that, by united action, we should be able to defeat the Scullin Government, we abandoned our original intention, and agreed to contest only those seats which were essentially rural in character. As every one knows, I played a vital part in that election. I threw myself into the contest with all the energy at my command, in nineteen days addressing 51 meetings and travelling between 8,000 and 10,000 miles, by air, to keep my engagements. On many occasions, in United Australia Party electorates, I was on the platform side by side with candidates representing that party, including Mr. John Lawson, now the honorable member for Macquarie. I did all I possibly could to assure the rural population that the agreement made with regard to tariff revision between the various parties then in opposition to the Scullin Government, was really the first piece of constructive statesmanship that would be undertaken by the new Government.
But what happened? Two days before the election, Mr. Latham, now the Attorney-General, in a statement made, I believe, entirely at the behest of the manufacturing interests, indicated that the agreement had been thrown overboard. Thus the work of months was completely destroyed. The agreement was regarded simply as another scrap of paper. The statement made by Mr, Latham revealed him in his true colours. This is what he said -
Mr. Scullin labours heavily on the subject of the tariff. He has obviously been staggered by the complete endorsement of the United Australia Party tariff policy by the Victorian and New South Wales Chambers of Manufactures. The manufacturers should know the facts, and they are, through their chambers, entirely with us, and against Labour, in this campaign. Mr_ Scullin persists in the declaration that, if we’ are returned to office, we would fail to revalidate the present tariff schedule at the end of February.
Of course, this made impossible any further co-operation between the United Australia Party and the Country party. Mr. Latham’s announcement meant that an agreement, which had been entered into in all sincerity by Country party organizations, was thrust aside. I have no hesitation in saying that, on the occasion referred to, the Attorney-General deliberately stabbed the Country party in the back. The right honorable gentleman went on to say -
It will be remembered that the schedule was under consideration when the Government was defeated. Both Houses passed, without dissent, a series of bills which makes the tariff as it stands valid until the end of February, lj wish, on behalf of the United Australia Party, to make it quite clear that, if we are then in power, we shall introduce bills or resolutions for the further validation of the existing tariff schedule until such time as it can be fully dealt with by the new Parliament. The policy of protection will be as safe in our hands as it has always been in the past. The tariff under which our great manufacturing industries have developed and flourished has been the work of Liberals and Nationalists, and we are not going back on the policy now.
Since the statement was made only two days prior to the election, people living in the country districts had no chance of being informed of what had really happened. They had no opportunity to consider the terms of the agreement made in November in conjunction with the statement of the Attorney-General on the eve of the election. For this reason I have no hesitation in saying that the Country party and the people were betrayed. There is no question about that. There is a further ministerial statement that will astound the Senate; it clearly reveals the true policy of some of the leaders of the Government. The United Country Party sacrificed excellent chances of success in many electorates in order to adhere to the joint policy to which it .had agreed with the United Australia Party, because it believed that the policy was greater than the party. In the light of that agreement the bill that we now have before us is such as would make even the ghost of Sir Henry Morgan, the famous buccaneer, feel ashamed. For some time before the Ottawa agreement was entered into, there was a slight suspicion in the minds of Government supporters who were representatives of rural constituencies that the tariff policy of the Government was not the correct one, and that the agreement which had been entered into by the two parties was not being observed. A private deputation to the then Minister for Trade and Customs (Sir Henry Gullett) was therefore arranged, and here is the inner story of that deputation, startling as it is. Remember, at Ottawa that gentleman did not hesitate to expound the principles of Empire trade! He there said that it was necessary to knit closer the bonds of Empire, by the making of trade agreements. His was a wonderful performance, which I have no desire to discount; but I do challenge his sincerity, in view of the fact that, at a private deputation of honorable senators, he expressed views entirely contrary to those that he voiced at Ottawa. He was rewarded for his constructive and brilliant work at Ottawa by having a knighthood conferred on him. I do not begrudge him that ; but I do contend that the work that he did at Ottawa should have been perpetuated by this Government and by himself. But who can say that there has been constructive work in the implementing of the Ottawa agreement? The deputation to which I have referred was a purely private one, and I have a shrewd suspicion that Country party senators were not supposed to be present at it.
– If they were, the case against the Government is infinitely worse. The deputation was introduced by Senator Sampson. Replying to inquiries as to the manner in which the
Ottawa agreement would be implemented, and the intentions of the Government in regard to the tariff, Sir Henry Gullett said -
It is true we (the United Australia Party) had an agreement with the Country party prior to the elections to include in our programme the reduction of duties. However, as the campaign progressed we found that we could not win Maribyrnong and other “ halfway “ electorates on such a programme. So we decided to delete these words and substitute “ that we would go on Tariff Board reports “. That this new programme was justified, is shown by the fact that we won Maribyrnong and several other seats, but what was better, we were able to form a government by ourselves and leave the Country party out.
Yet I, a leader of the country movement, am expected to support the Government on the question of the tariff ! I definitely challenge the Minister in charge of the bill (Senator Mclachlan) to prove that I have not accurately given the reply of the Minister for Trade and Customs to the deputation. Other Country party senators were present, and are prepared to support my version of what was said. This man, who at Ottawa fought for the principles of Empire trade, who set out to show the world that he deserved to have placed on him the hallmark of constructive statesmanship, proved himself to be merely a two-by-four politician. Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage, and thereby forfeited the blessing of his father Isaac. We, of the United Country party, have not received even a mess of pottage, but the Government has certainly been given the blessing of the manufacturers, and I can guess it was, indeed, a substantial blessing. It is high time that the true position was revealed to the country people. Again I stress that Country party senators are- asked to support a bill which means the perpetuation of the Scullin duties, which, in many instances, have been increased.
Let us again consider what occurred at Ottawa, so as to see whether the principles there expounded by Sir Henry Gullett have been given effect by the Government. Let us compare the policy agreed upon by the United Country Party and the United Australia Party with that which is being put into operation to-day. In his opening speech at Ottawa, the right honorable member for
Flinders (Mr. Bruce) made the following statement: -
We will undertake, possibly with very slight exceptions, to remove the remaining prohibitions and surcharges imposed two years ago for financial reasons.
Referring to the trade balance, the right honorable gentleman said -
Subject to the maintenance of the trade balance, and since the delegation left Australia, I have been advised that our reverse trade balance in merchandise of £32,000,000 in 1029-30 has been turned into a favorable one of £31,000,000. The present Government is proceeding vigorously to bring the tariff back to a normal level.
I should like the -Minister in charge of the bill, when he is replying to the debate, to tell honorable senators, and, through the press, the people of this country, how the present Government is proceeding vigorously to bring the tariff back to the normal level. I am afraid that he will find that his case will be like that of the house built on sand ; it will crumble. Mr. Bruce went on so say -
At this moment the Tariff Board, an independent body, is engaged in a general revision of all main features of the tariff, and from the nature of the reports received, it is clear that the emergency tariff levels will be very substantially reduced.
When one endeavours to reconcile the statement of policy at Ottawa with that which Sir Henry Gullett made to the deputation of honorable senators, one is faced with a hopeless task. Consequently, I say that the Government is definitely insincere. I lay that charge against Sir Henry Gullett. I deliberately refrained from discussing the Ottawa agreement in detail when it was first placed before the Senate. I then said that it was nothing but an experiment, and that its success or otherwise depended entirely upon whether the Government was prepared to regard it in a broad and generous spirit, and by fiscal action would try to knit more closely the bonds of Empire. At the time, the Government claimed that that was its intention. Honorable senators who sit on the Opposition benches were afraid that the British manufacturers would have the way made easy for the export of their products to Australia, and that as a result Australian industries would be wiped out. Members of the Country party had not that fear ; I wish that there had been grounds for it. I knew instinctively that the Government had no intention of correctly interpreting the Ottawa principle. Speaking of the agreement in the House of Commons, Mr. Baldwin said -
What have wo put to the credit side of Ottawa? I do not mean in pounds, shillings and pence. What have we got out of all this? What does it mean in trade? I answer quite frankly; I do not know, no one knows. What we have done is to make the way a great deal easier, and it is up to the British business man to seize the opportunities which we believe we have made for him.
Dealing with the question of migration to the dominions, he said -
The only chance of increasing migration in the dominions is to see that they are more prosperous, and until the purchasing power of their great agricultural communities is restored, it will be impossible for them to open their doors any wider than they are open now, but in spite of what the honorable gentleman has said, we have as a net result of Ottawa, lower tariff barriers.
Can the Minister in charge of the bill give the assurance that our tariff barriers are being lowered? It must be remembered that this speech was made by Mr. Baldwin after his return from Ottawa. Why did he address the House of Commons in those terms? He must be given credit for sincerity. The reason is that he honestly believed that the effect of the agreement would be the lowering of our tariff barriers. He was reported further to say -
He must remember and the committee must remember that the whole tradition of Australia is very high protection, and I must say that to me it is a very wonderful thing that we have got this article in the Australian agreement - “ His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia undertake that during the currency of the agreement the tariff shall be based on the principle that protective duties shall not exceed such levels as will give the United Kingdom producers full opportunity of reasonable competition.”
He interpreted that provision in the following way: -
They give an undertaking in the next clause to review their tariff. It is quite true that these are benefits to us, but in regard to a country like that we have this advantage, or we should never have been able to make the progress that we did. There is a revulsion in Australia to-day in many sections of the community not against tariff but against the extreme tariff system. The stars in their courses have been, fighting for us, and we have got an opportunity if our manufacturers will utilize it to the full, an opportunity which I would not have believed possible twelve months ago, and which I certainly never expected to obtain when I left for Ottawa two months ago.
It is unquestionable that the arrangement entered into by the Australian delegation provided for the lowering of our tariff wall. Sir Henry Gullett must have had full knowledge of that arrangement. Mr. Baldwin would not indulge in political camouflage - he is a far bigger and broader man than that - yet Sir Henry Gullett, upon his return to Australia, made to honorable senators the statement that I have placed before them, and the Government is raising, instead of lowering, our tariff barriers, while claiming that everything possible is being done to lift the burden from the Australian people. In yesterday’s Melbourne Herald there is a cable which indicates that, according to English opinion, Australia is not observing the terms of her compact. It is headed, “ Is Australia playing fair?” “ Tariff questions in House of Commons “ ; “ Ottawa spirit “, and reads -
Australia’s attitude towards the Ottawa agreements formed the basis of questions in the House of Commons to-day. Mr. Perkins (Conservative, Stroud) asked the Secretary, for the Dominions (Mr. Thomas) whether he would make representations to Australia regarding the recently increased duty of 35 per cent, on elastic fabric. He said that taking duty, freight, taxes, and primage into account, it cost 92J per cent, to land the fabrics in Australia. Mr. Thomas pointed out that the Australian duty on foreign fabric was 55 per cent. He understood that the duties were fixed after the representations of British interests had been heard. He was not aware that the Tariff Board had failed to take account of the principles of the Ottawa agreements.
That is actually what was stated in the House of Commons, and Australia as a nation must stand arraigned for falling - down on its job. Personally, I do not hesitate to say that this Government has fallen down on its job. This report continues -
Mr. Perkins. Will you explain to Australia that it will be impossible for Great Britain to continue buying her agricultural products unless Australia buys British manufactures in exchange? (Hear, hears.)
Was that not what Senator McLachlan himself said when in opposition? Did not the present Attorney-General (Mr. Latham), when in opposition, point out the danger of retaliatory measures following if we further increased duties on foreign goods?
– The Government has not had a chance to reply to the statement referred to by the honorable senator.
– The Government had its chance when the re-validation of the tariff schedule was before it in March last. I have in my hand a handbook for speakers, entitled 2’he Record of the Lyons Government - January, 1982- January, 1988, which contains a detailed account of the activities of the Government.
– “Who printed it?
– That is a mystery. I recommend the honorable senator to peruse it if he can obtain a copy, which he will not be able to do, for soon after it was issued, the Government realized the trouble that would ensue, and now it is impossible to obtain a copy. I shall read an extract from this handbook, and ask honorable senators to keep in mind the agreement that there should be a reduction of the tariff. That the Country party was betrayed and sold, and that its confidence was misplaced, is made plain by the statement that was made by the present Attorney-General two days before the last election. Referring to the tariff the handbook says -
This was a completely new tariff incorporating the unaltered portion of the 1921-28 tariff and the tariff resolutions tabled in the House of Representatives during the course of 1932. The resolution gave effect to the formula margin of preference and other changes agreed to by the Australian Delegation at the Ottawa Conference. The application of the formula resulted in an increase in the general tariff over a large number of items.
That is contained in the official publication that the United Australia Party issued to young speakers to enable them to go upon the hustings and justify the action of the Lyons Government. How can this Government reconcile its action with its election pledges? The handbook goes on -
There were some 440 items and sub-items under which immediate increases were imposed.
The number of increases at the various margins were: -
1 ask honorable senators to recall the remarks that were made by Senator McLachlan when in opposition ; how vehemently and fluently he declared that danger would result if we further increased duties on goods from foreign countries. In effect, the honorable senator said “ I ‘ have been ‘ to Geneva, and I know the feeling that exists overseas. In all seriousness, I warn the Government to be careful what it does.” Did the Government increase duties on foreign goods? Of course it did; on just under 400 items. How can we expect the foreign countries which are taking a large proportion of our exports to continue to trade with us? When the Government perpetuates such a policy, it must inevitably raise the antagonism of foreign countries against our products. The handbook goes on to say -
The number of protective items of the tariff was maintained with one or two unimportant exceptions, and the Government adhered to its policy not to reduce the protective level without inquiry by the Tariff Board.
The agreement that was made was that the Government would not re-validate the Scullin duties, but would return to the 1928 schedule, submit it to the Tariff Board, and then operate only on the recommendations of that body. But the Chamber of Manufactures had a say ; and it does not trouble that organization tuppence that the rural industries are “ butchered to make a Roman holiday.” The Chamber of Manufactures exerted pressure. The result was that the AttorneyGeneral again changed his political spots, and made a statement two days before the last federal election. I say frankly that this tariff bill cannot in any shape or form be termed a constructive measure. That admission is here in the Government’s own hand-book for speakers, a record for everybody to see; a record of increased tariffs, of the Government having refused even to try to implement the Ottawa agreement in accordance with the principles laid down by Mr. Bruce and Sir Henry Gullett, principles “which were cast aside when the latter gentleman returned to Australia. There is no doubt that an agreement was made that there would be no increase of the tariff, and it has been broken just as one would break a rotton stick across his knee.
– Was that pamphlet issued before the elections?
– No; it covers the record of the Lyons Government from January, 1932, to January, 1933, and was designed to supply information to enthusiastic supporters of the United Australia Party, so that they might endeavour to re-assure the populace that the policy adopted by the Lyons Government was the correct one, and try to restore confidence in this Administration, which is so sadly lacking.
The Minister in charge of the bill has stated frankly that it is difficult to implement the Ottawa agreement. Why? I hope that, in his reply, the honorable senator will answer that question. It must be remembered that when he does so, he will be pitting his opinions against those of some of the foremost economists in Australia. In giving evidence before the Tariff Board, which was conducting an investigation into the protective incidence of primage and exchange, Professor Giblin said, on the 3rd February last -
It is not possible to make a general plan for the automatic reduction of old duties, but on the average the rate of duties was higher than necessary by -roughly the amount of exchange. . . . But in the vast proportion of cases British duties could be written down between 10 and 12$ per cent. “
How did the Government implement the Ottawa agreement? In spite of the fact that it had realized the appalling height of the Scullin tariff wall, and had denounced its evils to the people, when this Government had to deal with the problem it said, “ No ; we will leave the tariff wall as it is, and give the British manufacturers the desired preference by putting up the rates of duty against foreign countries on nearly 40.0 items I challenge the Government to justify that action as a piece of constructive statesmanship, either in this chamber or on the hustings.
– Surely it was quite contrary to the spirit of Ottawa.
– It was; and the statements of Mr. Baldwin and other members of the House of Commons are quite justified. I shall refer honorable senators to the conclusions that were arrived at by a committee of economists in 1929, consisting of Professor Brigden, Professor Copland, Professor Giblin, Mr. Dyason, and Mr. Wickens. That committee did not hesitate to say that tariffs had gone sufficiently high. Incidentally, I remind honorable senators that the conclusions of the committee did not take into consideration the protective incidence of a 25 per cent, exchange. Those gentlemen said that the principal effect of the tariff on protection and employment has been to divert them from export industries to protective industries. In its conclusions, the committee stated -
The adoption of a considerable, but not unlimited amount of protection is justifiable on economic grounds in the circumstances of Australian industry.
I agree with that, for I am not a freetrader, and I hope that I never shall be. I believe in protecting any industry that is of potential value to Australia, provided that that does not put too great a handicap on our rural industries.
– Is that the policy of the Country party?
– It is; that the two sets of industries should grow side by side, not that one should grow at the expense of the other. The conclusion goes on -
But the extreme applications of the tariff have undoubtedly caused a net loss. Further extensions may involve a more than appropriately increased loss. . . . We estimate that Australian products which are protected cost £36,000,000 more than the same goods could be imported for, duty free. . . . Protected manufactured goods cost £20,000,000 more than free imports, and protected primary products cost £10.000,000. . . . The final effect is to raise the general price level by 10 per cent. . . . The tariff falls with the greatest weight on the export industries. “What has been the result of the policy of the Government ? The Scullin Government caine into power, and built up what was regarded as a crazy tariff, which very properly brought cries of derision from the Opposition. Those who were then in Opposition- became the Government; but, instead of proceeding to pull down the Scullin tariff wall, they increased it! The report of that economic committee proceeds -
Our conclusions on effects indicate that the total burden of the tariff has probably reached the economic limits, and an increase of this burden would probably threaten the standard of living.
For the information of honorable senators, let me tell them that the cost of tariff protection is as follows : -
Honorable senators must bear it in mind that two-thirds of our national wealth comes from primary production, and that, of our total exports, 96 ner cent, is represented by primary products.
How can we support the tariff the Government is determined to impose upon us? “We cannot possibly do so. The Government and its supporters are forcing us to the wall, while they are sheltering behind a political subterfuge. “Why are they not absolutely frank with us? Why do not they tell us that they have determined to retain the Scullin tariff? If they would do so we could go on the hustings, and tell the people the truth. I appeal to the Government not to repudiate the agreement which was entered into with the Country party.
I have taken out some figures showing the net value of out imports, the amount of duty collected, and the average ad valorem duty paid over the whole twenty divisions of the tariff. The table is as follows : -
It will be seen from the table that the critical period was 1927-28, when the Bruce-Page tariff schedule came into operation. Since 1928-29, many important political events have occurred. The Scullin Government came into power, and tabled a tariff schedule in the other place which was condemned by every sane thinking member of this Parliament.
– Not at all!
– The Scullin Government was thrown out of office because it would not adhere to what were, in the opinion of most members of this Parliament, sound economic principles; and the Lyons Government came into office in its place, because it made an agreement with the Country party that duties would be lowered. But the Lyons Government has broken that agreement. My table shows that the total value of our imports in 1931-32 was £54,566,537 ; the amount of duty collected, £19,713,256, and the average ad valorem duty 36.14 per cent.which was an increase of 41 per cent, since 1928.
Of course, when it comes to a division, the party whip will crack, and the supporters of the Government will stand solidly behind the Minister and the bill, in spite of my protest and my publication of the details of the agreement that was entered into. We have been betrayed, and our principles have been trodden in the dust, for it is quite safe to assume that the supporters of the Government will defend the fiscal policy which I am criticizing, and perpetuate the evils that I have revealed.
– The honorable senator is assuming a lot.
– Perhaps I am not right in assuming that Senator Payne and other honorable senators who have a deep interest in rural activities will do as I have said; but certainly those honorable senators who are chiefly interested in city industries will do so.
– The honorable senator is not entitled to prophesy what I will do.
– I hope that Senator Kingsmill, -by his actions, will confuse me in respect of himself. If he proves me to be wrong, I shall certainly congratulate him; but I do not expect to have the opportunity to do so. If the happenings in another place are any criterion, the supporters of the Government will stand solidly behind these duties. As a representative of those engaged in rural industries, I must declare my conviction that the present position cannot be maintained. I know that the agreement to which I have referred was made, because I was present at the’ time it was made. I regret that the Ottawa agreement, one of the finest ever conceived, is being pushed aside, and its principles prostituted. This Government is not implementing the agreement, as the leader of the delegation to Ottawa intended that it should be implemented, and in the circumstances it is high time that a most emphatic protest should be made against this.
In conclusion, I shall tell honorable senators a story of a little island in the Pacific, which produced commodities to the value of £100,000 per annum. To do this the people had to buy £20,000 worth of material. The other £80,000 was distributed among the islanders, for the maintenance of their standard of living. One day a prophet came among the islanders, and called a mass meeting. He showed them - or they thought he showed them - the efficiency of a policy of high tariffs, and the way to live in comfort without working. Tariff barriers were at once erected. In the course of time, the islanders came to sore economic straits. They thereupon called a mass meeting, and decided that their prophet had ruled too long, so they hanged him, and pulled their tariff barriers down. I do not suggest that the irate people of our rural districts will hang this Government; but unless the members of the Government show some . glimmerings of constructive statesmanship they will, figuratively speaking, be hanged by the neck at the next election. For the last eighteen months, the Country party has been prepared to support the Government on any reasonable measures, and it is still prepared to pull its weight; but it cannot be expected to continue doing so when it is asked to assent .to a measure of the kind now before the Senate.
– I have listened for the last 60 minutes to a story which should be preserved for all time in the records of con stitutional government in this country. It was a story of base coalition treachery by the members of the United Australia Party towards the members of the Country party. I believe that Senator Hardy has unfolded the true story of the negotiations which occurred prior to the last election with, the object of taking from the Labour party the treasury benchplums. I suppose honorable senators have, like, myself, frequently read on the “ aboriginalities “ page of the Bulletin, stories of how our alleged country cousins come to Sydney and buy the pigeons which fly around Darling Harbour railway goods yard, and the General Post Office in Martin-place. It has also been stated as truth that the Australian confidencetrick men have an international reputation. They take second place to none on the confidence-trick stage. I suppose this accounts for them having been able, at various times, to sell the sun dial in the Botanical Gardens, Sydney, to country visitors. But the Country party has been sold not only the pigeons of Darling Harbour and Martin-place and the sun dial of the Botanical Gardens, but also the whole box and dice of political reforms. The story which Senator Hardy has unfolded is sordid in the extreme. It appears that a meeting of financial gogetters, speculators, market riggers, share dealers, and foundation members of the British Empire was held. The right of entree to such political gatherings is usually held by those who move in the elite circles, where the hallmark of merit is an inflated idea of patriotism, and an inflated stomach. The official dress is, of course, the Union Jack. At such meetings, those present screech that they are the Simon Pures of British Imperialism and Australian patriotism. At all such meetings, the members of the Labour party and frequenters of the Trades Hall are excluded. It was at such a meeting that the agreement described by. Senator Hardy was made, and the stage set for the most outrageous act of political coalition treachery in the 32 years of the federal history in Australia.
While I have been sitting quietly in this chamber this afternoon, I have been watching the press birds on their press roost taking down the utterances of comrade Hardy. I shall be interested to see whether the mechanized press of Australia will convey to the general public a verbatim report of Senator Hardy’s condemnation of the United Australia Party for this act of political treachery. I also wonder whether we shall be treated to a display of press Hitlerism. This will be the case if the story which Senator Hardy has unfolded is suppressed.
– As it will be more or less !
– I am afraid that press sabotage will be committed. Senator Hardy is, of course, entitled to his views, just as I, and SenatorRae, and other members of the State Labour party who sit in this chamber, are entitled to ours; and we believe that our views should be given fair publicity. But I am afraid that the publicity which we will receive will be similar to that which will be given to Senator Hardy’s irrefutable story. At any rate, I shall watch the newspapers to-morrow to see whether the press spotlight is thrown upon the honorable senator. I venture to express the opinion that the press will not publish the honorable senator’s charge against vested interests, and political corruption and graft. Personally, I do not care a continental curse about the press. It can have more “ birds “ on their “ roosts “ in the Senate press galleries, so far as I am concerned. The honorable senator, in an open confession - and open confession is said to be good for the soul - remarked that he travelled more than 10,000 aerial miles in addressing the electors of New South Wales. He spoke in Sydney and the suburbs, and also in the cities and towns throughout the State, even addressing meetings in outlying districts adjoining the Queensland and Victorian borders. He was described in Smith’s Weekly as the Cromwell of the Ravenna. We were told that he was destined to lead the people of New South Wales, and of Australia generally, out of the depression. No doubt, those who flocked to his banner regarded him as a leader of men. I am sorry that the Assistant Minister (Senator Greene) was not in the chamber when Senator Hardy’s general criticism of the United Australia Party was offered. He spoke of one meeting of the Nationalist and Country parties that was held for the purpose of discussing the candidates to be nominated for seats in constituencies in which the two parties had a 50-50 chance.
When the Scullin Government was in office, Senator Greene and ex-Senator Duncan joined what was known as the Australian party, which was founded and bossed by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), who was formerly Prime Minister. I was waiting to hear from Senator Hardy why exSenator Duncan was “ ditched “, while Senator Greene was chosen, together with Senators Cox and Hardy, to contest the last Senate election in New South Wales on behalf of the Nationalist and Country parties. Was it because ex-Senator Duncan was notacceptable to the vested interests represented at the conference between the United Australia Party and the United Country Party? Was Senator Greene prepared to do everything that vested interests desired him to do as a prospective member of a new government ? The full story about that matter would make sensational reading, provided the editorial blue pencil was not put through the copy forwarded by the newspaper representatives. It will be interesting to honorable senators to read what is published in the press of Melbourne and Sydney to-morrow regarding Senator Hardy’s general indictment of the United Australia Party, and his account of what was said in the inner councils of vested interests at the pre-election conference between the Nationalist and Country parties. Considering that these financial vultures got together to determine the future policy of Australia, the bitterness of my criticism of them can well be understood, for 500,000 of my fellow-creatures are on the verge of starvation. Many thousands of them have been forced to accept work for the dole, before they have the right to eat.
When all the press renresentatives were on their “ roosts “ in the gallery yesterday, and when the stage was beautifully set for the occasion, the Assistant Minister made a speech in this chamber with regard to the success of the £5,000,000 loan that has just been floated in Australia. Perhaps his jubilant mien was due to political egotism - we all have more or less of that - but the fact remains that, only a few months ago, when the present
Government went on the market for £8,000,000, about 65 per cent, of the loan was left with the underwriters. That loan certainly “ flopped “. When proudly announcing the success of the latest financial effort of the Government, Senator Greene went out of his way to criticize the ex-Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Lang, who is not a member of any party in the federal arena. I may say that Mr. Lang does not worry much about any criticism offered by Senator Greene or the newspapers which habitually attack him. The Sydney Daily .Telegraph has featured a good many of the Minister’s criticisms of Mr. Lang; but that honorable gentleman may rest assured that members of the Lang group in this chamber are not much perturbed by such attacks.’ The Sydney Labor Daily has a larger circulation than the Daily Telegraph, which certainly consists of a good many pages of printed matter, and is appreciated mostly because of its usefulness . for the purpose of wrapping up sausages in the shops of suburban butchers. My party has no apology to offer to any politician in Australia. During the recent referendum campaign in New South Wales, the political dice was loaded against the Lang opposition. The press of the whole of Australia, and particularly of New South’ Wales, was arrayed against us. Page advertisements were inserted by the picture film interests. The wireless broadcasting stations even used their radio clowns as political “ Bimbos “, for the purpose of bringing about the defeat of the Lang opposition.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– Mr. John Thomas Lang, the Leader of the State Labour party in the New South Wales Parliament, and ex-Premier of that State - according to the press, by the grace of God - has been succeeded by Mr. CB. S. B. Stevens, who is known as the “ Christian “ Premier. An ex-soldier of the Australian Imperial Forces may be pardoned if he places Mr. Stevens in the same category as ex-Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, who boasted that, although the allied forces were opposed to him, he could still rejoice, because he had God on hig side. To-day, Senator Hardy laid a number of charges at the door of the
Government. He spoke of the political apostles of high finance seated around the table, and’ mentioned in particular Mr. Stevens, who was Treasurer in the Bavin Government in New South Wales. The swing of the political pendulum, aided, no doubt, by the oratory of the Assistant Treasurer (Senator Greene), caused the Lang Government to be turned out of office, and another Government composed of “ Christians “ to take its place. The Assistant Treasurer could not resist the temptation yesterday to refer in bitter Scotch accents to J. T. Lang. He spoke of repudiation, and said that the difficulties which had confronted Australia of late were due to the maladministration of the Lang Government in New South Wales. So obsessed was he by his dislike of Mr. Lang that, in . replying to a series of questions from Senator Bae, he again referred to that gentleman. Notwithstanding the opposition of a hostile press, of all the B class wireless broadcasting stations in New South Wales, with the exception of station 2KY, of all the advertisements on picture-theatre screens, and of the efforts of thousands of political urgers, canvassers and heelers; with the cards stacked against him, and no scrutineers permitted at the count, Mr. Lang convinced 675,000 of the electors of New South Wales of the wisdom of voting “ No “ on the issue placed before them at the recent referendum. That vote showed clearly that a number of districts, both metropolitan and country, have definitely swung back to Labour. Whenever he wants to flog his joss, the Assistant Treasurer calls up J. T. Lang; but Mr. Lang and his supporters, both industrial and political, are not greatly concerned with what he thinks.
The Assistant Treasurer was jubilant over the recent successful flotation of a loan of £5,000,000. I desire to read a few extracts from the 41st balance-sheet of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and from the 10th balance-sheet of the Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia, covering the period ended 31st December, 1932. The directors of those institutions - Sir Robert Gibson, G.B.E., and Messrs. R. S. Drummond; M. B’. Duffy; J. MacKenzie Lees; R. B. W.
McComas; C. H. Reading; E. C. Riddle; and H. J. Sheehan - report -
No improvement has taken place in the price of world’s commodities, and although it seems to be generally realized that in such improvement only can recovery be looked for, every community is so fearful of injury to its own trade, that collective effort still seems out of the reach of practical accomplishment.
The Bank Board undertook, last July, to endeavour to provide finance by means of discounting treasury-bills to meet the estimated deficit, and to provide an additional small amount for the purpose of public works to relieve unemployment. In doing this, however, the board clearly indicated that any further amounts required for public works would not be financed by the bank, but must be obtained from the market.
The Bank Board has told the Commonwealth and the States, through the Loan Council, that if does not wish to back any more treasury-bills. Evidently, it views with suspicion some Australian administrations. By the way, I do not know whether Senator -Greene’s criticism of the Lang Government was so much window-dressing in view of the forthcoming by-election in . the Bulli electorate of New South Wales. The report from which I have quoted goes on to say -
The domestic business of the Commonwealth has shown some slight improvement in the six months under review, but in view of the conditions before referred to, no special significance can’ be attached to this in the light of the general facts of the position and world conditions. There has been some improvement in employment, but this, unfortunately, must largely be attributed to the expenditure of public funds in relief works.
If the Assistant Treasurer were honest in his criticism, why did he not tell the press - which is fully represented in the gallery of the Senate - that the Stevens Government has taken thousands of men off the dole by placing them in storm-water channels, in sewers, in trenches, on the roads, and in other places, where they have to work hard in order to obtain sustenance ; and that for their work these men do not even receive the basic wage. In New South Wales, all award conditions are scrapped in connexion with relief work. Men are called up at the various unemployed depots and sent out to these jobs, with the result that the Sydney Sun, the Daily Telegraph, the Sydney Morning Herald, and other newspapers, laud Mr. Dunningham, the Minister for Labour and Industry in New South Wales, as one who has provided work for thousands of men. What Mr. Lang said in Canberra two years ago has come true; in New South Wales to-day, the slave code exists in industry. Men are forced to work hard merely for their sustenance. The same is true of Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, and probably also of Western Australia, unless the Collier Labour Government has altered things in that State since it came into power. Before it was defeated, the Moore Government in Queensland had the unemployed working for the dole; but, fortunately for the workers in that State, a Labour government was returned at the last election, and now award rates and conditions apply to all relief work in Queensland. In his general criticism of Queensland, Senator Greene was neither honest nor truthful.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - Order! The honorable senator must withdraw those terms.
– I withdraw them, and say that the Assistant Treasurer was entirely wrong. In placing figures before the Senate, an Assistant Treasurer, of all men, should endeavour to get near the mark. Senator Collings has clearly shown that the Assistant Treasurer placed before this chamber inaccurate figures respecting the unemployed position in Queensland. In New South Wales single men have to work six hours a week in order to receive a payment of 9s. A married man with six or seven children has to work 22 hours for £1 17s. 4d. We have read in the Tory press of this country of the general rehabilitation plans of Europe and the United States of America. The United States of America, which has a population of 125,000,000, including its white and coloured peoples, is one of the most highly civilized countries, from both a scientific and an industrial viewpoint, in the world. Yet that nation, with its high tariff wall, its enormous production, both primary and secondary, has 16,000,000 people unemployed. Only a few months ago the people of the United States of America, by their votes, changed the political colour of their Government, and since then President Roosevelt has recommended to the Parliament of the United States of America, the adoption of a working week of 30 hours, with no reduction in rates of wages, and an inflation of currency to the extent of £1,650,000,000. As a result, the statesmen andfinancial experts of many European countries, including Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, the Prime Minister of Great Britain and M. Heriot, an exPremier of France, rushed away to meet him in conference at Washington. But what is the position in Australia? In this country the plans for general rehabilitation include the introduction of the slave system, a wage reduction of 22½ per cent. in respect of Federal Arbitration Court awards, the fixation of a basic wage of £3 8s. a week for those who are lucky enough to have a job, and the employment of thousands of men on spasmodic relief work to obviate the necessity for paying them the dole. Those things have come about as a result of the actions of our politicians - mug politicians in every sense of the word. The European nations and the United States of America are endeavouring to increase commodity prices as a cure for unemployment. About three years ago Mr. Lang, then Premier of New South Wales, placed before the Premiers Conference what was known as the Lang Plan. He never at any time said that the adoption of that plan would provide a complete cure for unemployment, but he contended that it would be a palliative for the time being. Senator Greene has been loud in his praise of the work of the Resident Minister in London, Mr. Stanley Melbourne Bruce. That gentleman should really be called the resident minister for hand-
– What is the meaning of that term?
– We read in the daily press of the fact that Mr. Bruce has attended this garden party, that tea party, and many other sorts of parties, and has careered along beside the Thames following a boat race. I have no wish to curtail any of his social functions, but I should have been more interested to read in the press that the Resident Minister in London was endeavouring to knock some common sense into the minds of British bondholders, so that they might realize the unfortunate position of Australia at the present time. What has the Resident Minister in London done for Australia? Up to the present there has been a con version of loans to the extent of £11,000,000 out of a total of over £500,000,000 owing by us to British bondholders. I am led to believe that we owe to those bondholders over £98,000,000 on which the interest rate is 6 per cent, or more, and that we have the option of converting only £90,000,000, provided that we have the money for that purpose. There is, therefore, a little over £400,000,000 worth of bonds held by the British bondholders which cannot be converted unless we practically go down on our hands and knees to them, asking for a little mercy by way of reduced interest rates. Mr. Lang, when Premier of New South Wales, said that until Britain agreed to fund Australia’s oversea indebtedness in the same manner as America dealt with Britain’s debt to her, no further payment of interest on overseas debts should be made by Australia. Is there anything wrong with that policy ? I contend that there is not, particularly in view of the fact that France, which holds 30 per cent. of the gold reserves of the world, has told the United States of America that it will make no further payments in respect of war debts. Mussolini, the Fascist dictator of Italy, has taken a similar stand. As a result, the United States of America has granted a general moratorium to Great Britain in respect of its war debts. Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, has notified the United States of America that the gold shipment from London, made only a few months ago, was to be the last, and that something would have to be done to relieve Great Britain of its indebtedness to the United States of America. But nothing is being done to relieve Australia of its war debt. The French politicians are prepared to fight for France, Mussolini is prepared to fight for Italy, and Mr. Ramsay MacDonald for England. But what is the Resident Minister in London doing for Australia ? He is, unfortunately, not prepared to fight for his country. The following criticism of this gentleman was made by a leading daily newspaper of Victoria: -
What is Being Done in London.
Necessity of Early Action Emphasized
Is the incompetence that defeated the aim of the Imperial Economic Conference in Ottawa to deprive Australia of the oppor of reducing the burden of her overseas indebtedness ?
The question might well be asked in view of the reiteration by the Commonwealth Minister resident in London of his belief in the impossibility of arranging a wide conversion at this stage.
Last week the suggestion was put forward by the London Daily Empress that British holders of Australian bonds should be directly approached, and invited to acquiesce in a lowering of interest charges.
On the following day, Mr. S. M. Bruce negatived the suggestion, and made an apparently emphatic declaration that Australia had no intention of approaching bondholders in direct manner.
So, it appears, in his few short months in London, Mr. Bruce considers he has established such contact with the financial nerves of the world as to justify him in summarily dismissing a concrete proposal’ put forward by nien who have life-long and intimate knowledge of the feelings and reactions of the British’ investing public.
Mr. Bruce pointed out that holders of Australian loans numbered a quarter of a million, and were scattered over the British Isles. He was probably appalled by the idea of undertaking the task of calling at 250,000 homes-
But he could find time to run alongside the Thames River to watch an interuniversity boat race- knocking at the door of each, presenting his card, and reciting how, although Australia has made a marvellous recovery, problematically balanced her budgets within a defined limit of deficits, reduced unemployment substantially, and is showing the world the way back to prosperity-
Prosperity represented by sustenance and doles !- she cannot afford to pay her debts.
One hundred years ago’ it might have been necessary to do that. But to-day the purpose can be achieved by writing the whole pitiful story and publishing it as an advertisement in one or more of the leading London papers. The cost would not be greater than the amount that is being spent in any one of the capital cities in Australia in the advertising of the current loan flotation. There would, in addition, be the aid of Australia’s newspaper friends, and the cost of that would be nothing.
But, in spite of Mr. Bruce’s disdainful dismissal of a proposal that was worth, at least, serious consideration, there are others who think that there is something in the idea.
The London Daily Chronicle, whose politics are diametrically opposed to those of the Daily Express, had this to say in its issue of Saturday - “ The British investors must realize what the conversion problem involves. If, through postponement from date to date, the conversion should miss the tide, Australia will have a legitimate grievance, and the Lang party will have a first-class subject for agitation.
Both the investors and those in charge of the conversion question here should, accordingly, bear in mind that failure to make a success of the conversion may not simply leave things as they are.
While wo are negotiating about one-quarter per cent, one way or the other, we must remember that the damage that would be suffered by the investors if the Lang party were to return to power on a wave of resentment would not bo measured by quarter points, but by something very much more sweeping.
If only as an insurance premium to encourage Australia in her new policy of financial soundness, and to dissuade her from a return to Langism, investors should be prepared now to take a generous view of the conversion problem, and the bankers who are arranging it should, as far as possible, settle the terms on the assumption that the stockholders will respond well.”
A London newspaper finds it necessary to warn the official ambassador of the Commonwealth in London that, if he does not carry through quickly the job he was sent to London to execute, he will be directly responsible for providing the Australian people with an excuse for once again submitting themselves to the domination of those influences that brought the State of New South Wales to the brink of ruin!
What must our friends in London - and we sorely need those friends - think of us? When they seek to aid us, they are snubbed by a politician. Statesmen, in the best sense of the term, are seemingly non-existent in active political life to-day.
Once again, it is necessary to remind those in momentary control of the nation that they have a bigger responsibility than merely to “ muddle through “. On their conduct of national affairs at the moment depends the answer to the question whether the electors will, at a later date, again entrust them with the custody of the welfare of the Commonwealth and its people, or, more or less, in desperation, transfer that responsibility to persons ill-equipped to assume it.
That statement appeared in The Mail, published in Castlemaine, Victoria on the 29th May. That journal is not a Labour organ by any means; yet it has stated definitely that Mr. Bruce has fallen down on the job. In reply to the Assistant Treasurer (Senator Greene), I quote the second proposal in the Lang plan - “ That the interest rate to Australian bondholders be reduced to 2 per cent., and that all interest rates in private finance be reduced by a relative amount.” A few months ago, when the present Government applied to the market for £8,000,000, the Commonwealth Bank had to take up about 65 per cent, of the loan. Its latest appeal for £5,000,000 has been more successful; the terms are favorable, indeed. But the
Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank, referring to the underwriting of the earlier loan, said -
In doing this, however, theboard clearly indicated that any further amounts required for public works would not be financed by the bank, and must be obtained from the market.
If the Lyons Government thinks it can get from the market £5,000,000 every few months, it will have to think again. In any case, Senator Rae and I are convinced that loans and tariffs will not remove the present economic evils. The only hope of salvation is the advent of a government, courageous and strong enough, and with sufficient political “ guts “, to nationalize banks and credit in the interests of the Australian people. At present we are merely patching here and patching there by tariffs and other expedients. The United States of America, rich in material wealth, possessing a big, proportion of the world’s supply of gold, and having a high tariff wall, has 16,000,000 unemployed, whilst France, the United Kingdom, and Germany, relatively freetrade countries, are facing the same problem. One of the planks of the Australian Labour Party’s platform is tariff reform, but the tariff is only a palliative. Although I support it as a temporary means of assuring a measure of comfort to the industrial workers, I know that it will take the people only a certain distance along the path of reform. Tariffs will not emancipate the workers.
– The heart of Senator J. B. Hayes bleeds for the farmers; but they will not be saved by a few cheap rabbit-traps, a few cheap sheets of galvanized iron for the barns, and a few strands of cheap barbed wire to fence the paddocks. Having been a responsible Minister in Tasmania, the honorable gentleman must understand economic facts and laws better than to believe that salvation will come to the rural producers in that way. The trouble with the world to-day is, not over-production, but under-consumption. When the great mass of industrial workers are on the bread-line, the farmers, too, must be on the bread-line. Senator Hardy spoke this afternoon of the political “ last supper “ attended by the apostles of vested in terests in Sydney; and,having regard to the treachery of come-and-go politicians, and the base betrayal of the Country party by the United Australia Party, can we wonder that the farmers are in a desperate state? The farmers of Canada are burning their surplus wheatto warm themselves. I amnot egotistical, but I am prepared to go to Tasmania, and, at the Gross-roads, argue with Senator J. B. Hayes before an audience of farmers regarding their relationship to the present world economic position. To-day there are 500,000 Australian men and women on the bread-line. Married men with six and seven children are working 22 hours for £1 17s. 4d. How much money have these people with which to buy the products of the farmers? Yet the overseas bondholder must be paid. He must get his cut first. I have no hesitation in saying that, if it were left to me, the overseas- bondholders, who to-day are raking off their 6 per cent. and more, would get nothing until they realized that they should make sacrifices, just as the people in Australia are doing.
– Some of the bondholders may be very poor people.
– Who was it subscribed the money for the last loan raised in Australia?Was it not the banks, the great insurance companies, and the financial houses, including the Baillieu group, for whom Senator Greene is a stool pigeon? The tories are concerned, not so much withdefeating the Labour party, as with keeping the great mass of the people from understanding the true signficance of surplus value, and who creates it. Once the 900,000 men and women, who are on the verge of starvation in Australia to-day, understand these things, it will be time for the tories to sit up and take notice.
Australia’stotal debt, external and internal, is approximately £1,111,000,000, the internal debt alone being about £600,000,000. The average rate of interest is 4 per cent., and all Mr. Lang asked for in his plan was that the average rate be reduced to 3 per cent., on both external and internal loans. This would save £20,000,000 a year. In two years, no less than £40,000,000 would be saved, and just imagine how much the circulation of that money would have done to relieve un employ ment. However, in the opinion of Senator Greene, everything is going on very nicely. Certainly it is going along nicely enough for the members of this Senate. We are here in the nice warm atmosphere of this chamber, with the press birds sitting in their roost on my right, prepared to broadcast the message throughout Australia that this Government has encompassed the political salvation of Australia. However, Senator Hardy tonight exposed the doings of the United Australia Party. What a fortunate position I shall be in at thenext election, when I am able to speak to the farmers at the crossroads - and my dear old friend,Senator Brennan, the doctor of laws from Melbourne, may come withme - and tell them how they havebeen betrayed. There isno doubt of the betrayal ; we have hadthe proof of it right from the horse’smouth. In future, when welisten to the radio messages delivered once a month by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), aided and abetted by his henchman, Senator Greene, we shall knowjust what value to place on them. The Government can not get away with it all the time.. At one time, the party opposite puts the blame on Lang; and at another, on communism. It is on the cards that, at some future election, they may raise the sectarian issue, but there must come a time when the people will realize the truth. We,the members of this Parliament, have been elected to govern the country, and it isour job to do it. We are very comfortably housed here, we have just had a good dinner, and we have a warm bed to look forward to. The peopleof Australia have been very tolerant up to date. There are hundreds of thousands out of work, and various State Governments are now demanding that they shall work for the mere sustenance they receive. Ifthe Government cannot do any better than it has been doing its administration is a sorry failure.
Ihave here a cutting from the Sydney Sun, which is not a Labour paper, and this is what it says -
Too Proudto Tell Them. “Many people in extremely distressed circumstances are tooproud to let their neighbours’ know. In one case at Hornsby, a woman was seen to go out and cut grass with which she made soup for her children,” said Councillor Rofe, of Hornsby, at the meeting of the executive of theLocal Government Association to-day. “ That case came under our notice purely by accident,” he added. “The woman had three children. She lost her position, and could not support them, but. it was not until she was watched that her plight was’ discovered, and help could be given her.”
Let honorable senators opposite, who enjoy every comfort in life, laugh that off if they can. Is it right that such things should be allowed to happen in this year of 1933 ? Are the conditions which make it possible to be tolerated under this Commonwealth Government, and that of Mr. Stevens, the self -professed Christian Premier of New South Wales? Mr. Sydney Pascall, who controls an important confectionery manufacturing business in Tasmania, is reported to have made the following statement: -
Newcastle, Wednesday. “Wages should be the last thingcut in industry,” declared Mr. Sydney Pascall, world president of the Rotary International, addressing the conference to-day. “If wages are first attacked,” he added, “how can you expect the confidence of your workmen?” He said that the employer should be a leader without being an autocrat, and that profits were morally and ethically wrong if obtained at the expense of the workers. “ In times of depression the burden should not be placed on the shoulders of those least able to bear it, the employees,” he concluded. ‘
Only 24 hours ago in this chamber, Senator Collings quoted a statement made by that great American industrial leader, Mr;Henry Ford, on the same subject. Now we have the good old Sydney Morning Herald publishing the following message from overseas:-
TheBritish Government takes so serious a view of the world economic situation that it fears a general break-down unless the nations make an immediate effort to solve the problems which are common to all.
It may be stated on the best authority that the position is regarded as alarming, particularly in Europe, where unless immediate steps are taken to stimulate trade, a crisis may be expected not later than the end of June.
The three principal obstacles to recovery are war debts, reparations, and restrictions on trade. Reparationsand war debts will bediscussed at the forthcoming World Economic Conference, but such is the importance attached to the speedy removal of artificial barriersagainsttrade and commerce that a special world economic conference may follow.
A few days ago we read in the Sydney Morning Herald a serious criticism from overseasof the Ottawa agreement. We
Lave been told by the Government, through the press, that the Ottawa agreement would be the means of restoring prosperity, but notwithstanding such assurances, the butter producers of New South Wales are now worse off than ever. We know it to be a f act that the Resident Minister in London cabled to the Commonwealth Government asking that the farmers be induced through their organizations, to reduce their butter exports by 12 per cent. I have myself seen in one of the principal dairying centres of New South Wales hundreds of store cows which have gone out of butter production. At Eltham, six or eight miles from Lismore, I saw an auctioneer, named Mr. Walker, offer store cows at 4s. 6d. a head without getting a bid. The farmers are in a bad way not only in New South Wales, but in every State of the Commonwealth.
– I suppose nobody wanted to buy them, because the industrial workers in that neighbourhood did not have the means to buy meat. Senator Rae and I can offer a solution for the difficulties confronting the Commonwealth, but I expect that Senator Payne and his friends would describe any proposal which we made as extreme socialism or communism. That would not cause us much concern, because we believe that our proposal would, if adop*ted, get the primary producers of this country out of a bad jamb, due to the fall in prices for primary products.
I was pleased to hear the disclosure by Senator Hardy this afternoon of the doings at -the inner council of the United Australia and Country parties prior to the last election. We are accustomed to misrepresentations in the capitalistic press of Sydney, Melbourne and other cities in the Commonwealth, of doings at meetings of the inner group of the Labour party ; but until to-day we had not heard in detail the sordid story of happenings at conferences of the inner group of the political parties which represent vested interests in this country. No honorable senator, and no Minister, can successfully challenge the allegations made by Senator Hardy this afternoon. Only a few days ago, in Martin-place, Sydney, I saw Sir Samuel Walder, Mr,
Playfair, and a few more of the delegates who attended the conference mentioned by Senator Hardy, taking part in the Empire Day celebrations, and, with others, declaring to the skies their unswerving loyalty to the Empire. That is all right. I have no particular objection to their parading their loyalty, but I think it is about time they and their friends did something for the workers of this country. Of course it is a futile hope, because there are too many political urgers inside the Government to permit of effective action being taken. Vested interests control the newspapers, finance, and the B class wireless stations, so the position of the worker is not placed before the public. But the time is coming when the great mass of the people will demand relief. Honorable senators opposite, I suppose, claim to be Christians. I presume many of them attend church services on Sundays, and implore our Heavenly Father to “ give us this day our daily bread “. What are they doing for the other fellow who is without a job? Has not he a right to his daily bread? Of course he has. In fancy I can see those twelve apostles of high finance, so ably described by Senator Hardy this afternoon, sitting at the conference table discussing the political future of this country. But, notwithstanding their agreement to do certain things following the defeat of the Scullin Government, there is still the same unemployment in this country. Despite bright messages broadcast from our wireless stations, and church pulpits, and press declarations that prosperity is at hand, the plight of the workers has not improved; they are now required to work for the dole and sustenance.
How long will this state of affairs last ? The Assistant Treasurer yesterday had something to say about Mr. J. T. Lang, who has been described by the tory press as Lenin’s disciple. The Minister was careful not to mention the fact that, during the regime of the Bruce-Page Government, our trade relations with Soviet Russia benefited us to the extent of £6,000,000 of “ red “ gold. Apparently “ red “ gold secured through the ordinary trade channels is all right, and no doubt those who profited individually from our trade relations with Soviet Russia had no compunction about putting “ red “ threepences, shillings or florins in collection plates at Christian church services on Sundays, though they would object to so-called “ red “ gold being used to disseminate knowledge of the communistic system of government in Russia. [Extension of time granted.]
There is in the Federal Capital area a reservation for industrial activities. Why should not a cordite factory and aeroplane works be established here? I understand that the Government’s proposal is to extend the existing cordite works at Maribyrnong, near Melbourne, Victoria.
Senator Collings mentioned, yesterday, that the Auditor General, Mr. Cerutty, had refused to transfer his department to Canberra, and the honorable senator suggested that the Government should require that gentleman to come into lino with other Commonwealth departments. I entirely agree with him. Senator Collings has been here for only twelve months. With my longer experience - I have been a member of this chamber for four years - I warn the honorable gentleman that, if he wishes to promote the interests of the Federal Capital City, he will have to fight against the full strength of vested interests in Melbourne. Until obstruction from that quarter is effectively checked, Canberra will never become what it should be - the national city of the Commonwealth.
– Yesterday, the Assistant Treasurer (Senator Greene) made certain statements about the registration of the unemployed in Queensland, which, he declared, was greater than in other States of the Commonwealth; and lest his figures convey a wrong impression, I wish to put the matter right at once. Following the honorable gentleman’s statement, yesterday I telegraphed to the Queensland Minister for Labour asking for information, and received the following telegram in reply : -
Increase in unemployed registration Queensland is mainly confined single men. This undoubtedly due increase and extension of relief benefits, together with widening of scope of eligibility married men for relief granted by Labour Government. These two factors responsible for increased unemployed registrations as compared with numbers under previous Government.
I may explain that, during the regime of the Moore Government, single men eligible for relief, were compelled to wander from one end of Queensland to the other in order to qualify for rations. Actually, they were required to travel at least fifteen miles a day. When the Labour Government came into power it provided that single men should be given one day’s work a fortnight at award rates, and should receive rations every other week. This was a Christian-like act, and did away with the stupid arrangement under which men were obliged to travel a certain distance before qualifying for rations. I suppose we need not be surprised that political enemies of the workers compelled them to travel a certain distance daily before receiving rations, but when Labour came into power it gave immediate relief to the workers. I admit that some of our political opponents would, perhaps, like to do their best for the working classes; but I agree with Tolstoi that those who are rich will do everything for the workers except get off their backs. That, unfortunately, is the position in Australia. We have too many people living on the backs of the workers. The Moore Government required unemployed single men to wander from one end of the country in search of the elusive job. The Labour Government changed all that. I make this explanation because of the misrepresentations of the Assistant Treasurer yesterday concerning the registrations of unemployed in Queensland.
Senator Greene also referred to the public debt of Australia, and said that the greater part of the money raised in the Old Country was spent on public works. I realize the difficulty of ascertaining the directions in which borrowed money is expended; but I nevertheless make the definite statement that the proportion of Australia’s public debt contracted in the Old Country would have been very substantially less had it not been for the war. The people of Australia shouldrealize that interest will have to be paid practically in perpetuity on loans that were raised to prosecute a war that allegedly was waged to save the world for democracy - an object that was not achieved. In 1905, the public debts of the Commonwealth and the States amounted to ?230,700,000. In 1910, the figure’ had reached ‘£257,000,000, in 1915 it had further increased to £343,000,000, ‘and ‘in 1931, it was no less than 1 £1,156,000,000. The tremendous addition to our indebtedness between 1915 and 1931’, I ‘claim, bears out my contention that expenditure on and arising out of the war -was the principal contributory cause. The people of Australia are in bondage to the bondholders, not only in this, country, but also overseas. Some years ago H. M. Hyndman wrote a book dealing with the economic drain on India,. in which he pointed out that year by. year; Great Britain was draining the substance of the Indian people. That book caused a furore from one end of the Empire to the other. The time is now ripe for .another H.. M. Hyndman to show that Australia : is : being economically drained year by year by the bondholders in the Old Country. The efforts of the Resident Minister in London have achieved little: Recently, the Financial Revieu** - whether in .sarcastic vein or not I do not know - said that Australia was a good borrower ; that she paid her way. The - people of the Old Country must smile when they think of how we -meet our interest payments year by year without squealing. An honorable senator pointed out yesterday that, although nominally the rate of interest has not altered/ actually we are paying more than we contracted’ to pay because of the drop that has occurred in price’s. I have extracted an article from the Sydney *Bulletin, which shows how Australia has been exploited. Senator Greene yesterday asked Senator Collings what action he would take. I say that, if Australia had been controlled by men possessing force and power, it would have’ been definitely laid down that the Old Country should give consideration to this country before foreigners, and that we should not.be called upon to pay the excessive rates of interest to- which we are to-day committed. The bondholders have been the gainers. The article in the Sydney Bulletin points out that on Board of Trade figures/ in regard to average commodities, what was costing the British householder £5 in 1924 cost him only £3 0s. 7d. in May of this year. By way of interjection to-night, an honorable senator said that many bondholders are poor.
Doubtless a number of them are poor. But we must look after the poor of Australia before we concern ourselves with those of other countries. This article goes ‘on to say-
In other words, a shade over 3 per cent, interest was worth as much to the British investor in Mav this year as 5 per cent, was in 1924.
What has the Government done to correct the position? The’ small amount of £11,000,000 owed in Great Britain is to be converted, while a total of over £500,000,000 is untouched. If governments of similar calibre to the present continue to administer the affairs of this country, many of them will’ have passed into the limbo of -forgotten- things before the -big conversion is effected. We who sit on this side- stand firmly for the reduction of the interest1 payable to the Old Country, because it’ is only fair and just that that reduction should be’ made. Why should Australia be treated differently from any other country? It is. the duty of the present Administration to see that the economic drain ‘on Australia is considerably diminished. The funding ‘ of ‘ the overseas debt at an interest rate of 3 per cent, would mean an annual saving to Australia of £13,803,000. If that were achieved-, we could do justice to the oldage -pensioners, whom the Government has treated with such disdain that many thousands of them are suffering mental torture. Members of the Labour party feel strongly on this matter. They believe that the old-age pensioners should not be robbed in order that Australia may meet her huge interest- commitments on the other side of the world. On a goods basis, we are paying -in some cases double and treble what- we should pay,, on account of the -fall -in prices, and there is no assurance that prices will not drop further. If they do, the overseas debt of this country will.be relatively increased.
Members “of the -Country .party claim to be the sole representatives of the primary producers. I have stated time and again, and I now repeat, that the members of the Labour ‘party also represent . the primary producer’s, and, I may. add, do not mislead them: Our friends of the Country party try to make the farmer* believe that if- only the tariff wall of Australia were lowered there would be- a secondEldorado, and they would live in the lap of luxury.
– A number of economists have recommended that the tariff should be lowered in order to assist the primary industries.
– I believe that the depression will have passed before the economists are in agreement in regard to the reasons for it and the means by which it may be overcome,
-the honorable senatorhas never heard of an economist advocating the raising of the tariff wall.
– I could name a number of them who realize that in the present state of world affairs it is essential that we should conserve the internal interests of ourpeople to the fullest extent ; and that cannot be done by breaking down the tariff wall.
I wish to quote the opinion of one of the first gentlemen in. the Empire, whom I have quoted previously ; I refer to the Prince of Wales.He has stated that the world-wide depression was caused by the maladjustment of distribution and consumption capacity to production. The Prince of Wales is, undoubtedly, an enlightened gentleman, who is capable of discussing these subjectswithout being primedby those who usually prime princes of the realm. He has also said that it cannot betoo strongly urged that no permanent recovery can be effected until consumption and production are brought into properrelationship, and that this ismore easily achieved inside areas protected from external interference than by international action. Althoughhe does not discard international action, he realizes, as we do, that if thepeople of Australia used the sameintelligence that they brought to bear in waging war in the past, and . as much enthusiasmas they display in connexion with the bowling of Larwood, they could achieve a largemeasure of . improvement in the internalsituation; and such a large number of farmers would not then be in the Bankruptcy Court. An honorablesenator told me the other day that in the district from which he comes, hundreds of farmers are on the verge of revolution - in a country that should be the, best in the world, and that should be able to provide all that is essential to the well-being of our people. In the midst of plenty, manypersons are starving. Yet we have had in this Senate the pitiable exhibition of members of the. Governmentexpressing the opinion that if all made an equal sacrifice the depression would be quickly ended. It is absurd to talk in that way. Senator Johnston has argued that if we wish to build up a home market we must get back to freer trade. I say that in the present state of the world’s production and distribution, if the tariff barriers of this country were removed the home market - the greatest market that any country could have - would in large measure be destroyed.
The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) wrote a book in answer to the proposals of Sir Otto Niemeyer, who came to this country to place our finances inorder. I should like to have the attention of the representatives of country areas, who hold a brief for. the primary; producers, and who in their selfsatisfaction imagine that we on this side cannot speak on behalf of the farmers. I wish to state theposition as plainly as possible, because I believe that it is essential to deal with these matters. in a general way so that we may know exactly where we stand. It is admitted that one may generalize, as well as particularize, too much. Listening to the debates in this chamber, I realize that there are some members of itwho are so obsessed with pettifogging details that they cannot see the forest for the trees. I especially ask Senator Hardy and Senator Johnston to listen to these remarks and then to show how,, even by breaking down tariff walls, they can overcome the economic development of this or any other country. Mr. Hughes, in his book,pointed out that, in 1911, 472,000 personswere engaged in pastoral, dairying, and farming pursuits in Australia, while in 1928 the number was only 423,000, a diminution of almost 50,000. Yet the fewer number produced from an area that was 9,000,000 acres less than in 1911, 14,000,000 gallons of wine, 200,000,000 lb. of wool, 77,000,000. lb. of butter, and 312tons of sugar more than had been produced in 1911.
A farmer said to me only recently that, whereas a few years ago he used to sit on the fence and watch his farm hands cultivating the soil, to-day his farm hands sit on the fence and watch him and his son doing the work with tractors. The development of machinery has made it possible to produce far more with less labour. Yet honorable senators of the Country party foolishly say “ If only we could put hack the economic clock and go back to the days of freetrade we should find employment for all “. That is sheer nonsense.
– Eighty per cent. of the farmers’ tractors are in their sheds, for they have no money to operate them.
– That is why a few more men have been put back into employment. My colleagues and I do not want to go back to the days of hand labour and wooden ploughs. We stand for organization, but of distribution as well as production. In 1927-28 Australia produced 51,074,493 centals of butter, flour, wheat, wool, mutton and lamb, and beef, while the output of the same commodities in 1930-31 was 102,326,725 centals. But the value of the smaller output in 1927-28 was £96,248,883, as against £70,015,168 for that of 1930-31. Even if honorable senators of the Country party created a hundred new States, or if Western Australia cut adrift fromthe Commonwealth, the position would not be improved even to an infinitesimal . extent. The fall in prices has meant a loss of millions of pounds to primary producers. Yet honorable senators of the Country party go about Australia telling the poor fanners : “ If we only had a few more States, or if we had secession in Western Australia, everything would be all right, for you would receive millions more with which to pay off your mortgages and do the right thing by the unfortunate financiers “. It is about time that the farmers woke up to the true position.
– We all know that the position is due to the fall of prices. Will the honorable senator advance a cure ?
– All do not know the reason for the trouble. I have listened to some honorable senators declaring that it is due to the fact that we have not another dozen senators representing as many additional country districts. Senator Johnston stated definitely, on the public platform and in this chamber, that the Commonwealth would be in a better position if Western Australia seceded.
– These are only little bubbles.
– I know that they are. The honorable senator went over to Western Australia to explain that to the people there, but they would not listen to him. Honorable senators of the Country party have misled the farmers. My colleagues and I definitely assert that there can be no imnrovement of the position of the primary producers until the purchasing power of the people is increased. The farming community will not improve its internal position by constantly attacking the industrial workers and demanding a decrease of their purchasing power.
According to Mr. Hughes, who knows his subject, in 1928, £447,000,000 represented the value of wealth produced in Australia, of which amount £350,000,000 worth was consumed or used locally. This shows the vital importance of the home market. By its constant insistence upon a decent standard of livelihood for its supporters, the Labour movement has been the means of increasing the effective demands of the home market. If we, as a Parliament, were prepared to exercise our undoubted powers, as was done during the war, we could increase the effective demands of the people in such a way that not one farmer in Australia would suffer privation or be in fear of his mortgagee foreclosing.
– How does the honorable senator propose to increase the purchasing power?
– If the honorable senator will bear with me for a short time I shall show him. We know that the wealth of Australia is in our production, not in what is contained in the vaults of our banks. If, because of some cataclysm, all of our banks were razed to the ground, the people of Australia would not suffer appreciably ; but if there were a drought, which greatly reduced our potential wealth, all would suffer. If the people and our legislators kept in mind the fact that the true wealth of the country takes the form of the food, clothing, and shelter and services rendered by the people, there would be a clearer understanding of matters, and we should not then be subjected to the illusions which now cloud our vision.
I know that Senator Hardy is intensely keen about increasing the rate of exchange. 1 have here a statement by Dr. A. C. V. Melbourne, who points out that the primary producer has to be helped, but is not being helped to any considerable extent by the maintenance of an artificial exchange rate. Dr. Melbourne believes in writing down capital. He says that it is on the capital, and not the interest, basis that the primary producer requires relief, and he suggests that the way out is by a general writing down of advances and mortgages by 331/3 per cent. Does Senator Hardy agree with that?
– I shall express my views on the writing down of capital at a later date.
-I believe that Senator Hardy does agree with Dr. Melbourne, who is reported as follows: -
It was reasonable to assume that the benefit by such action would be more widely distributed than the sacrifice. He did not deny, said Dr. Melbourne, that a number of people would be involved in suffering or hardship if his ideas were applied, for any such scheme of financial reconstruction must fall unequally on the people it affected. National policy, however, should take precedence to personal interests.
Unfortunately, it has been demonstrated, time and time again in debates in this chamber, that individual and class interests are paramount, to the detriment of the interests of the nation.
I shall deal briefly with the menace of other countries to Australia, because it is essential that our farmers should understand the position. We, as a nation, should concentrate more and more upon the development of Australia, and study contemporary world conditions in order to cultivate a statesmanlike vision, which should enable us to adopt a policy in consonance with what is happening in the outside world. If we do that instead of pottering about, as we are doing, we shall be much better off in a few years than we now are. Only a few months ago, a report was laid on the table of the Senate concerning trade in the East; and the opinion was expressed that, if we only concentrated our endeavours in that direction, our trade with eastern nations would be greatly increased, and the business depression from which we are suffering would be relieved. We have been told that we could do a greater trade with China and Japan ; but I point out that Mr. T. B. Hooper, who has recently returned from Japan, emphasized in a press statement a few weeks ago that “more and more Japan was manufacturing the articles which Australia was endeavouring to sell, and was beginning to look for foreign markets herself.” Honorable senators should pay some attention to that statement. Japan as a result of the growth of intense economic nationalism is doing what Germany is doing. We know that Hitler has determined to concentrate upon the internal development of his country. In Italy Mussolini is doing the same thing. The result of this must be that the overseas market for our goods must relatively diminish. I do not suggest that we should disregard foreign trade ; but I believe that we should concentrate upon the development of Australia. If we would adopt a policy of organizing and appealing to the social instincts of our people, as was done in wartime, we should build up in the youth of this country a real hope for the future. I believe our young men would rally round thebanner of Australia if it were raised if only we could organize our economic forces to provide a place in industry for them. We should then be able, in time, to receive thousands of people from the other side of the world under conditions which would make it worth while for them to come here.
– Japan bought goods to the value of about £9,500,000 from us last year, and we bought goods to the value of only about £2,300,000 from her.
– Does the honorable senator think that the other £7,000,000 worth was a gift to us? A great deal of stupidity is shown in the use of figures. If Japan takes £9,000,000 worth of goods from us and we take less than £3,000,000 worth from her, the balance must be placed by Japan in other countries of which Australia is a customer. Goods must balance goods. Nonsense was talked in days gone by about our trade with the United States of America. It was said that we were buying motor cars, petrol and other goods to the value of £30,000,000 from the United States of America, while that country was buying goods to the value of only £3,000,000 from Australia. But it must be apparent to everybody that goods were produced by us to balance the account, and if not sent directly by -us to America, went to that country indirectly through some other country which purchased from us. It is to be deplored that many stupid statements on these subjects are made from the public - platforms of this country. If we send out of this country so many million pounds worth of exports - I am not dealing with debts at the moment - there must be some return for them. It appears to me that some honorable senators enjoy pulling* the legs of other honorable senators.
– We cannot live by taking in one another’s washing.
– That is very true. We cannot succeed by bull-dozing ourselves. Japan, situated in the north Pacific, is in much the same position as the United Kingdom was in many years ago. I do not blame Japan for endeavouring to develop her resources. We know very well that she has extended her field of operation to Manchuria, now called Manchukuo, a territory which, in the opinion of many people, is as rich as North America. One .American writer has described it as a “second middlewest America “, and has told us that Japan has control of a coal-field in that area which has a seam 420 feet thick. He was referring, doubtless, to the Fusar coal-fields, which Japan is developing with cheap Chinese labour. Every year, nearly 1,000,000 Chinese are being absorbed in Manchukuo. The Japanese are also doing intensive agricultural work there. Agricultural produce of Manchukuo is now valued at about £100,000,000 annually. We know very well that Japan is also engaged in wool production. Before many years are over, she will be able to tell Australia that she does not need so much Australian wool as formerly.
– The honorable senator must realize that Japan cannot produce very much wool from 26,000 square miles, which is the total area of her Empire.
– That may be so; but she is nevertheless making great strides in that direction and is assuming control of greater territories. I admit that Australia is in a favorable positionin regard to wool production, but the point I am trying to make is that Japan, is being developed on national lines. Only recently, Mr. Roy Miller, the Sydney representative of the Carborundum Company, returned from Japan, and in the course of a press interview, he said -
Representatives of foreign firms that have been doing a profitable business for many years in Japan, were packing up and leaving the country, said Mr. Miller, and those who remained were hoping that something would turn up to enable them to regain their lost customers, but what that something might be they had not the faintest idea.
Mr. Miller produced a small silver watch chain, delicately worked, the value of which in Sydney would be at least £1 ls., but which he bought in Tokyo for 2s. 6d. in Australian currency. Mr. Hooper, to whom I referred a few minutes ago, bought in Japan for 1 yen, about, ls. 8d., a woollen singlet which would have cost anything from 10s. 6d. to 15s. 6d. in Brisbane. How can we, in such circumstances, compete against the Japanese? If we were to break down our tariff barriers and flood this country with cheap goods from Japan or any other country, we should lower the standard of living in Australia, reduce the purchasing power of our people, and deprive the primary producers of a part of the home market which they at present supply. That should be fully understood. The Japanese are intense patriots. They believe in, and fight and struggle for, Japan. The Japanese Government gives good backing to all Japanese enterprises, and believes that the thing of first importance is that the internal industries of the country shall be developed. We, in Australia, seem to be intent on frittering away our opportunities, and selling our birthright for a mess of pottage. We should be devoting all our attention to the organization of national production and distribution. If we did so, we should be able to put our unemployed people back to work, and provide employment for the workless young people of this country. The Government, however, seems to be engaged in asham fight. When it should be concentrating on the establishment of a communal organization for production and distribution, it is pursuing the Micawber-like policy of waiting for something to turn up. We have been told that economic conditions are improving, and that we areturning the corner. But we have been turning corners for the last two or three years. It looks as though we would need to turn a few more corners before reaching prosperity.
I was pleased a few days ago to receive a copy of one of the pamphlets issued by the Bank of New South Wales. I congratulate the writer of the articles that have appeared in these periodical issues. Some of the statements in the pamphlet of the 17th May are revolutionary. The writer shows clearly that we have now entered into another sphere of action. He points out that for many years we have been following a policy of deflation, which has reduced the purchasing power of the people to a very great extent. He says that the time has now come when the policy of deflation should be discontinued, for it has gone too far. This is what the members of the Labour party have been saying for a long time. It is gratifying to them to know that, at last, their point of view is being endorsed. The writer of the pamphlet says that money must be circulated, and that the amount of liquidation in Australia has gone too far. He considers that if the money available here were circulated, the purchasing power of the people would be increased, and confidence would be restored in many directions. Yesterday, some honorable senators sneered at my leader, Senator Barnes, because he said that a large amount of money was lying idle in Australia. I have had a little to do with banking. I do not imagine that the banks have millions of sovereigns hidden away in their vaults. But the increase that has occurred infixed deposits is undoubtedly significant. Some of the money that is now lying idle should be used to improve the economic conditions of the country. Mr. Davidson, the general manager of the Bank of New South Wales - if he is the writer of the article to which I have already referred - says that we must release this credit for industry. He adds that it would be easy to find the money, but more difficult to get it circulated. His view is that money should be made available for governmental investment. That is exactly what the Labour party has said time and time again. It will be impossible to find employment for our people under the present capitalistic system unless there is a constant development of public works, or an increasing demand for capital goods! The amount of money that is spent on public works helps to increase effective demand for consumption goods. Goods for consumption are produced so readily by a diminishing number of workers that unemployment ensues. Unless money is spent on building roads, railways, dams, irrigation works, or on other capital needs, such as factories and the like, it will be utterly impossible to find employment for our people.
I feel that honorable senators should get down to bedrock in dealing with these problems, and not devote their attention to pettifogging matters which will carry us nowhere, and which have no economic significance. It is necessary that we, as legislators, should face the facts; otherwise, we shall not overcome the depression. To my mind, there are no definite signs of commercial improvement. Yet, if we can providemoney for the supply of capital goods, the absorptive capacity of the people would be developed. We must use the resources that are available to us if we are to increase the spending power of the people. Money spent on reproductive works and capital goods is well spent. We need a change in our economic policy, and I sincerely trust that we shall have it. The Labour party believes that a sound financial policy is the handmaid of development in this country. If our policy were put into operation, the available money would be circulated, and the purchasing power of the people increased to the distinct advantage of the whole community. Mr. Davidson quotes the following remarks by Mr. Keynes, the noted British economist, which are well worthy of attention : -
The costs of production of the entrepreneurs are equal to the incomes of the public. Now the incomes of the public are, obviously, equal to the sum of what they spend and what they save. On the other hand, the sale proceeds of the entrepreneurs are equal to the sum of what the public spend on current consumption and what the financial machine is causing to be spent on current investment.
That is to say, it is essential, in order that the entrepreneurs shall receive profits, that there shall be constant investment. Otherwise, the financial system languishes, business is depressed, and the people suffer as the result of unemployment. That is a simple statement of fact, and it will be interesting to Country party leaders and to the farmers to know what is necessary, if the foodstuffs and other commodities which are produced by the men on the land are to be taken off the market. I am not so simple as not to know that, although primary production represents wealth, if we produce more than is required for our own purposes; if we cannot dispose of our surplus production, and it becomes a burden on the community, it does not constitute wealth. But the greater portion of the commodities that are produced in this country actually represent wealth, and more of them could be distributed and consumed in Australia if we had ‘ a rational system for financing wealth production and distribution. We require intense organization of the financial machine for the purpose of national development and the control of production, and, above all, for the distribution of the wealth that is produced.
Unfortunately, the people are too frequently led away by the doctrines of the political opponents of the Labour party. The Lyons Government, even betraying the group of which Senator Hardy is a leader, in doing so, misled the people at the last election into the belief that it intended to bring about a big improvement in the conditions of the people of Australia. It has already been pointed out by Senator Dunn that, although the Government has been in office for a year or two, hundreds of thousands of our people are suffering from lack of food in this land of plenty.
At some future date I hope to discuss in greater detail than I have to-night, the subject of national finance. We, on this side of the chamber, expect soon to be in control of the governmental machine, and to implement our financial policy. If we fail in that mission, the people generally will lose all faith in both tory and Labour parties, and they will place their hope in some form of dictatorship, as have the people of Italy, Germany, and other European countries. If the present political parties cannot legislate in such a way as to organize effectively the forces of production and distribution, so that every member , of the community may obtain a decent livelihood, they will be swept out of existence. Labour senators feel sure that with the backing of the people, and particularly the farmers, their party can utilize the governmental machine in such a way as to bring happiness to the people. This cannot be done either by destroying or by raising tariffs. All that can be achieved bv increasing duties is to compel firms on, the other side of .the world to erect factories in Australia, and thus provide employment for our own people, increasing to a certain extent, it is true, the purchasing power of the workers; but the real solution of the problem lies in national organization for national purposes, control of the finances by the people, and the utilization of credit in such a way that the commodities produced in this country can be readily distributed and consumed..
– I had not intended to speak on the first reading of this bill, but I desire to reply to one or two remarks made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator McLachlan). I shall speak at- greater length on the motion for the second reading of the bill. I take the opportunity briefly to define my attitude to the amendment which has been submitted by Senator Johnston. I welcome this amendment, and I shall vote for it with the greatest pleasure. In my opinion, the 1921-30 tariff was quite high enough. I expressed that view at the time when it was introduced. I was a member in another place for a considerable portion of the period during which the Pratten schedules were submitted. I opposed most of the tariff increases then made, on the ground that the duties were already sufficiently high. I am still of that opinion, particularly because in recent years the tariff has been tremendously reinforced by exchange and primage duties, so that it is now from 30 per cent, to 35 per cent, higher than it was then. I shall support the amendment also because, during the last few years, the manufacturers and their employees have had the advantages of very high tariffs - higher, in some respects, than they are now - while the primary producers, on the other hand, have had several years of desperately bad seasons and miserably low prices, so that the great majority of them are either unable to carry on, or are doing so only by reason of the tolerance of other individuals dr institutions.
During the last election campaign, 1 did not commit myself to the view thai the Government should bc rigidly bound by decisions of the Tariff Board. The Government, however, has adopted that view, and 1 suggest that the principle should operate both ways. The Govern ment, if it refuses to reduce duties downwards without recommendations of the Tariff Board, should not insist on retaining duties which have been increased without such recommendations. I now wish particularly to refer to the statement of the Vice-President of the Executive Connell (Senator McLachlan), that he and his colleagues were elected on the Government policy. I must contradict that statement if, by his use of the words “government policy” -.the honorable senator meant the present tariff schedule, for 1 was not elected on any such policy at all- The Minister might have been elected on that policy, and be is, of course, entitled to speak for himself. In South Australia, as probably in the other States also, it is the custom for a candidate to produce what might be called a policy speech, which is inserted in the newspapers so that the general public may know his views.- At the last election the Vice-President of the Executive Council and I each produced such a policy speech. When I heard the honorable gentleman’s claim to which I have just referred, I obtained from the Library the newspapers of that time, in order to find out what each of us had said in our policy speeches. It will not take long to quote the bulk of what I said in regard to the tariff. My speechwas reported in the Adelaide. Advertiser of the 15th December, 1931, as follows: -
He urged electors to read the last report of the Tariff Board, gloomy as it was; and to note the. ludicrous applications, successful or otherwise, for duties on such items as cornsacks, telephones,, ‘timber ( and especially Oregon used for house building), household soap, and the short-sighted imposition even on educational books. An overhaul of the tariff was inevitable. At present it constituted a grossly unfair levy in favour of one section of the people; it was still as true as ever, and was more widely recognized that the. primary producers, especially ‘of wool and wheat, selling at world’s parity, were carrying the whole community, and the great fall in prices last season - which, although improved, were still low-had hit most primary ‘ producers heavily, and had ruined many of them.
If any honorable senator says that the policy contained in that speech’ would be carried into effect by this tariff schedule, I must disagree with him.
The pronouncement of the VicePresident of the Executive Council was probably a better . literary effort than mine, and, to a certain extent, it may justify the Minister’s attitude with respect to the tariff ; but that is for the general public - not for me - to. say. The honorable gentleman’s speech, as reported in the Adelaide Advertiser of the 4th December, 1931, read - “ As a lifelong protectionist, I have been amazed at the tariff of the Scullin Administration “ Senator McLachlan said. “Its result has been to increase unemployment, and it has, in many cases, endangered the Australian manufacturer, has brought into Australia some who are sure to build up monopolies after crushing the local industry, and the profits that Will be wrung from the people of Australia will, in due course, be sent outside Australia. “ “ An evenly balanced tariff could be obtained only by reference to an expert body, such as the Tariff Board,” he said, “ and every expert body, including the Tariff Board itself, realized the unscientific nature and the unjust incidence of the tariff as it stood at present. It was claimed that the increase in duties had brought about a favorable trade balance, but the favorable trade balance was due to the enlivened export trade, and the lack of purchasing power on the part of the Australian people.” “ The primary producers are the pivot of our national prosperity”, Senator McLachlan said, “ and the policy of the Scullin Administration has proved injurious to the nation and to the wheat-producers. . . To-day a wheat bounty was being paid, which might afford -a certain amount of assistance to the man who had been able to. produce, but could afford no assistance to the suffering farmers who had been deprived by nature of any return from the soil.”
It is for the Vice-President of the Executive Council to satisfy himself, and others, whether his statement and this tariff schedule can be reconciled. By no stretch of the imagination can I reconcile the schedule with the speeches which I delivered in South Australia. I cannot say that I travelled from one end of the State to the other expressing my views, for that would not be strictly accurate; but I spoke at a number of centres, and I always said- that, in my opinion, this Parliament could best assist the primary producers by tariff reductions. We cannot get away from the fact that we are taking something from one section of the community - and that the section on which this country depends - and giving it to others. I am sorry that last week I had not come across the following further statement in the policy speech of the Vice-President of tho Executive Council-
He added that the Interstate Commission should be reconstituted to deal ‘out justice upon some settled principle between the States which were labouring under tremendous disabilities, because of the fiscal policy of Australia.
– That is quite all right. With an amended constitution, the interstate commission would be a good thing; but at would be useless to reconstitute it under the existing federal powers.
– Last week when some of us advocated that the interstate commission should be reconstituted, Senator McLachlan’s colleague, the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) said that the interstate commission had departed “unwept, unhonour’d, and unsung “.
– Because of its limited powers.
– I do not think that last week the VicePresident of the Executive Council could .be regarded aB voting to reconstitute the interstate commission.
That is all I desire to Bay on this occasion. As I have said, I should probably not have spoken had it not been that the Minister said that I was of his’ way of thinking in regard to the tariff. I think .that I have shown clearly that I was elected on my own policy, which, although it might’ not have been worth much, wa3, after all, my policy, und not that of any one else. Senator Badman, »ho also contested the last election, is not with us to-night, but he has assured me that he will speak on this subject next week, when he will express views substantially the same as mine.
Debate (on motion by Senator J. B. Hayes) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 1 June 1933, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1933/19330601_senate_13_140/>.