13th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. P. J. lynch) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
.- by leave - Last night, after the division in connexion with the recommittal of the Customs Tariff for the further consideration of the duties on galvanized iron was taken, Senator Johnston and other honorable senators stated that the Government had refused to grant a pair to a sick member of the Country party. As Government Whip, I wish to make the position clear. Senator Hardy, the senator referred to, sent to me a telegramwhich I received on my arrival in Canberra on Wednesday, saying he would be glad if he could be paired against the Government on the tariff schedule.
– Senator Hardy is on leave of absence from the Senate.
– That is so. It is not usual to grant pairsto an honorable senator whohas been granted leave of absence; but I can find no precedent for not granting a pair in such circumstances. Senator Kingsmill is also on leave, but I arranged a pair for him because, when I was in Sydney last weekend, he saw me specially, and requested that, if possible, I would arrange to pair him against the Government on all items upon which the Senate had requested reductions of duty. In view of that definite request, I endeavoured to arrange a pair for him. Whenever an honorable senator, who is away from the chamber, asks me to arrange a pair for him, I try to meet his wishes ; but I do not think thatI, as Government Whip, should arrange a pair for an honorable senator who is absent on leave, if the withdrawal from the chamber of a supporter of the Government would mean the defeat of the Government. I regard it to be my first duty to ensure that the Government’s measures pass through the Senate. I do not feel obliged to arrange a pair if by so doing the Government would be defeated.
– The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) was away yesterday.
– Senator Pearce was called to Melbourne last night on urgent public business; but he would not have loft on his mission had he not secured a “ live “ pair before he went. The Leader of the Government would not have risked the defeat of a government measure by pairing with a “ dead “ senator. In view of the gibes which were hurled at me for refusing a pair to a sick senator, I point out that had Senator Reid not beencalled to the bedside of a sick friend, the schedule would not have been recommitted. Those honorable senators who were so ready to lay charges against the Government and myself last night did not come forward and offer to pair with Senator Reid in the special circumstances of his absence.
– We were not asked to do so.
– When the Senate divided on the item, the voting was equal - eighteen in favour and eighteen against. Had every vote been accounted for, the division on the original motion to reduce the duty on galvanized iron would have resolved the motion in the negative, in which case no request would have been sent to the House of Representatives and a motion to recommit the item would not have been necessary. The matter came up a second time, only because of the absence of Senator Reid. I claim the right to give effect to the wish of the Senate as expressed in the original vote, namely, that the request should not be made to the House of Representatives.
– by leave - Both Senator Kingsmill and Senator Hardy were away yesterday, because of illness, and they communicated with me, asking that I would endeavour to have them paired in favour of lower tariff duties. Senator Kingsmill was paired as desired. In looking through the pairs book, I find that, until the item relating to galvanized iron came up,Senator Hardy, who was ill and on leave, was given a pair for each division. At any rate, when we were considering galvanized iron on the 9th November, he was paired with Senator Brown. On the motion for the second reading of the Exchange Adjustment Bill, Senator Hardy was paired with Senator Dooley. Yesterday, on the division on tinned plates, Senator Hardy was paired with Senator Daly, and for the division on films, which was considered after galvanized iron was disposed of, he was given a pair with Senator O’Halloran.
– As Senator Johnston himself requested.
– That is so, and I thank the honorable senator for having given Senator Hardy a pair for the divisions mentioned. My complaint is that he was not paired on galvanized iron.
– There was no pair available then.
– The honorable senator must have realized that my request for pairs applied to galvanized iron as well as to the other items. I heard that Senator Pearce would be away last night, and I asked the Government Whip to pair him. with Senator Hardy. Senator Foll told me, with his usual courtesy, that Senator Pearce had made other arrangements for a pair, and would not be available for Senator Hardy. Senator Pearce was paired with SenatorCollett. I do not complain of the action of the Government. It has every right to get its legislation through the Senate by refusing a pair to a sick man if it chooses to do so; but it did refuse the pair, and, as a result, was able to have thebill recommitted, and to secure a majority of one for the retention of the high duties on galvanized iron.
– by leave - On the motion for the adjournment last night, the Government Whip, Senator Foll, referred to the premature publication in. the newspapers of the report on the tobacco industry, and I made certain observations in reply. This morning I received from one of the pressmen concerned a letter which I shall read to the Senate. I do not subscribe to all of its contents; but, in fairness to its writer, I place his explanation before honorable senators -
The Vice-President of the Executive Council,
Dear Senator McLachlan,
Last night, speaking on the adjournment in relation to the premature publication in certain newspapers of the tobacco report, you are reported in to-day’s Melbourne press as having said, inter alia -
AsI feel a serious injusticehas been done me, probably quite unwittingly, I should be grateful if, in fairness to me, as one of the men concerned, you would read this letter in the Senate to-day.
Your statement last night was made apparently upon information given you by some one not in full possession of the facts, because you had had no communication direct or indirect with mo on the subject. No breach of confidence occurred, as is shown by the statement I made to the Minister for Customs last night, copy of which attached herewith, sets out the facts.
The statement that an apology has been made, if intended to apply to me, is not correct. My statement to the Minister for Customs shows that I regret very much that a chain of unfortunate circumstances, over which I have no control, placed Colonel White in a false position. I have no apology to make for my own conduct.Regret was expressed that Colonel White should have been made the victim of circumstances, but I had no intention of conveying the impression that I was apologizing for my own part in the matter.
I would bring under your notice that other newspapers, in addition to the Herald, published the tobacco report prematurely. It is impossible to assume that the other pressmen concerned,as well as myself, joined in a conspiracy to break confidence with the Minister for Customs.
In view of the circumstances now brought under your notice for the first time, I consider that, in fairness to me, you should withdraw the charge of breach of confidence involving myself and my paper.
The pressman’s statement to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) is dated Parliament House, Canberra, 16th November, 1933, and reads -
There is absolutely no foundation for the suggestion that the Minister for Customs showed me, or any other pressman, any favoritism.
I take full responsibility for what occurred. It was not the fault of the Minister, and I regret very much that he has been placed in a false position.
Following the usual practice, I, with other pressmen, arranged for the report to be held in the newspaper offices, to be released at a time after the assembling of the House, when in all human probability the report must have been tabled, as I was informed that it was confidential until tabled. Unfortunately, by a most unusual mischance, from my point of view, the report was not tabled at that time, and when I found out that there was no possibility of its being tabled, I got in touch with Melbourne. It was too late then, as it was in print and being sold on the streets.
The Minister will agree there was not one chance in a thousand that this report would not have been tabled by 3 p.m. in ordinary circumstances, but the unusual proceedings in the House to-day, and the unexpected prolongation of the privilege debate, upset all normal calculations.
To show how abnormal the circumstances were, I must mention that Dr. Page’s adjournment speech, and also the questions on notice, unfortunately got into the evening papers for the same reason.
All I ask is that honorable senators will read the statement which I made yesterday, in conjunction with this letter and the accompanying statement.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister administering War Service Homes seen the following report in the Advocate, Tasmania, of Wednesday, the 15th November:-
” SCURVY : PALTRY.”
Sir Walter Lee, as Minister in charge of the Agricultural Bank, was particularly outspoken in the House of Assembly to-night when referring to the transfer of the War Service Homes Department from the State to the Commonwealth.
He said that, when the agreement between the Commonwealth and the State was cancelled, the Commonwealth refused to take over the officers who had been carrying out the federal duties attaching to that office. Eventually, they agreed to take over one officer only. He was a limbless soldier, whose home was in Hobart, and who had been paid £370 a year by the State.
The Commonwealth department would only promise this officer casual work at £189 a year, and stipulated that ho would have to go to Sydney and pay for the transport ofhis family there.
Sir Walter regarded that action as scurvy, paltry treatment, and was in keeping with the Commonwealth’s action towards the State.
Sir Walter’s remarks were endorsed byboth sides of the House.
If so, will he make a full and detailed statement to the Senate?
– I shall be only too glad to bring the statement before the notice of the Minister administering War Service Homes. I understand that a statement which is pertinent to this subject has already been made; but if necessary I shall see that it is amplified.
SenatorRAE. - Has the Government forgotten the repeated promises to the Senate, given during the consideration ofthe Financial Refief Bill, that legislation would be introduced this session to amend the law relating to claims by the Pensions Department on the property of deceased, old-age, and invalid pensioners ? In view of the near approach of the Christmas adjournment, will the Government give an assurance that it will introduce the measure without further delay ?
– I understand that this legislation is at present under consideration.
– Is the Minister representing the Prime Minister aware that the reports of the administrations of Papua and the Mandated Territory of New Guinea have been completed, and that, though honorable senators may, upon application, receive copies of the Papuan report, they will have to wait a further six months before that on the Mandated Territory will be available to them, because it must first be sent for perusalby a council of moth-eaten politicians sitting at Geneva, who style themselves the League of Nations ? Will the Minister take steps to see that the report is made available to honorable members without this unnecessary delay?
– The terms of the mandate require that the report shall be submitted to the League of Nations before it can be released. I shall have the matter inquired into, and, on some suitable occasion, will furnish the honorable member with additional information.
Sen ator DUNCAN-HUGHES.- Has my communication yet been received from the High Commissioner following his visit to Belgium in connexion with trade relations between Australia and that country ?
– I have not yet been informed by the Minister for Commerce whether any such communication has been received.
– Is the Canberra Times correct in stating that the Government has come to a decision to make the grant to the wheat industry not more than £2,500,000 ?
– It is not the practice for announcements of government policy to be made in answer to questions.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON. The honorable the Treasurer has furnished the following reply: -
asked the Minister administering the Development Branch, upon notice -
– The right honorable the Prime Minister has supplied the following reply: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister -
– The right honorable the Prime Minister has supplied the following reply : -
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has advised that, apart from the legal aspect of the matter, funds are not available to meet the cost of an investigation on the lines indicated by the honorable senator.
Any investigations aimed directly at the development of new uses of copra and coco-nut oils would probably have to extend over a considerable number of years, and would necessitate the employment of skilled investigators. Generally speaking, investigations of such a nature are not likely to lead to early results of industrial or commercial value, and it is considered that the discovery of new uses for raw material is likely to develop rather as a result of the general advance of scientific knowledge and improvements in technological processes.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has furnished the following reply : -
Chief of Police
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer : -
At the time of the European war the officer concerned volunteered for service abroad, but was retained in Australia on home service, and engaged on special duty in connexion with the Intelligence Corps. 3 and 4. The officer in question was, on 23rd August, 1933, placed, in accordance with the military regulations, upon the retired list with the honoraryrank of lieutenant-colonel. See Commonwealth Gazette, 31st August, 1933, page 1238.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister -
– The Prime Minister has furnished the following reply:- 1 and 2. Any action by the Commonwealth Government of the nature suggested should embrace the whole of the States and Territories of the Commonwealth, and it is considered that this would not be the best method of utilizing the amount of expenditure which would be involved. The Government is doing all that is possible to expedite the works programme provided for in the Estimates in order to afford all possible assistance tothe unemployed in this manner prior to the Christmas season.
B Class Stations - Static
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following reply:- 1 and 2. If it is decided to incur expenditure by advertising by wireless, all B class stations willbe givenan opportunity of quoting prices for the service.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Will the Postmaster-General take into consideration the complaints of inconvenience caused to residents of Port Moresby,Rabaul, Salamanuaand Wau inNew Guinea by static interfering with the broadcasting of Australian stations, by sending two Australian wireless experts toNew Guinea to carry out research work ?
– The PostmasterGeneral has furnished the following reply:-
Interference to broadcast reception caused by static, which is due to atmospherical conditions, is experienced in varying degrees of intensity throughout the world and has so far defied the efforts of research workers to effect any real remedy. Investigations on this subject can be satisfactorily continued without the additional expense of sending experts to New Guinea.
The following paper was presented : -
War Service Homes Act - Regulations amended- Statutory Rules 1933, No. 124.
Motion (by Senator McLachlan) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising this day, adjourn till Tuesday next at 3 p.m.
In committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ message) :
– I move -
That the modifications be agreed to.
Only two requests were made by the Senate and they were agreed to by the House of Representatives with modifications, which bring the rates into line with the budget proposals. A slight alteration was made to the request regarding fortifying spirit in order to make allowance for bond waste and evaporation, and for the purpose of placing the users of fortifying spirits in the same position as the users of other spirits.
Motion agreed to.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This measure covers the reduced excise duties provided for in the budget, and is part of the legislation which is required to give effect to the remission of taxes incorporated in thebudget. The items in the hill cover beer, spirit and benzol, and it is estimated that the loss of revenue, principally on beer, will approximate £325,000. The duties on beer and spirits are reduced to the level of the 1921-28 excise tariff, and the reductions in most cases, have been passed on to the public.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Amendment of tariff).
– I desire to secure a division on this clause, and shall take it as a test vote regarding the schedule. The Minister has explained that the schedule provides for a reduction of excise duties to such an extent that the revenue from these duties will fall this year by £325,000. Most of this loss of revenue will be caused by the reduction of the excise on beer. In my opinion, and I believe that it is the view of the majority of the people, a reduction of the consumption of beer and other alcoholic liquor is desirable. I move -
That the consideration of the clause be postponed.
Question put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator the Hon. Herbert Hays.)
Majority . . 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 3 to 5 agreed to.
Schedule and title agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
.- I move-
That thebillbe now read a second time.
Honorable senators will, I am sure, agree with me when I say that this bill should commend itself to the people of Australia as well as to the people of the sister Dominion of New Zealand. I have always felt that the relationship between this country and New Zealand should be much closer than it has been. The soldiers of the Commonwealth and the Dominion in association wrought the glorious name of Anzac, and all that it means to us in tradition and sentiment; yet, unfortunately, our trade relations with New Zealand have not been developed to the extent that all well-wishers of the Empire would desire.
The purpose of the bill is to ratify the customs agreement tentatively reached in New Zealand between representatives of the New Zealand Government and Senator Massy-Greene, acting on behalf of the Commonwealth Government.
It will be recalled that toward the end of last year Australian fruit-growers lost a very valuable external market through the action of the New Zealand Government in imposing an embargo on the importation of fresh fruits from Australia. Since then, the Commonwealth Government has directed its efforts towards ‘securing the withdrawal of the embargo, particularly in its application to Australian citrus fruits. Unfortunately, these efforts have not been successful, although since the details of the agreement were settled, New Zealand hits partially removed the prohibition, and is now admitting oranges from South Australia, and pineapples from Queensland.
It would not be fair to New Zealand if I did not mention that the restrictions of this nature are not one-sided, for Australia, under its quarantine laws, has for many years maintained an embargo against the importation of New Zealand potatoes. That embargo has been responsible for much resentment in New Zealand.
Notwithstanding the failure to reach a satisfactory solution of the difficulties due to the embargo, the agreement marks it further step in the development of closer trade relationships between the two dominions, and so far as it goes in that direction will, I feel sure, commend itself to honorable senators, although there will be many who would welcome an agreement to provide for a greater measure of freedom in our commercial intercourse with New Zealand.
As all agreements of this kind are in the nature of a compromise, naturally some disappointment will be felt by those interests in both countries which fail to discover in the arrangement all the benefits they desire, and by others which, for the general good, have been obliged to forgo some of their advantages.
Since the first agreement was made in 1922 the trade between Australia and New Zealand has always been strongly in our favour. An examination of the Australian import and export figures for the last three fiscal years reveals that the excess of exports to New Zealand over imports from the Dominion was £2,200,000 in 1929-30, £2,000,000in 1930-31, and £1,060,000 in 1931-32. In the face of a balance of trade so much in Australia’s favour we had, in our own interests, to he prepared to make reasonable concessions to New Zealand. However, when all aspects are considered, it must be conceded that the agreement is highly satisfactory and reflects great credit on Senator Massy-Greene, who so ably conducted the negotiations on behalf of the Commonwealth Government.
A memorandum comparing the new and old agreements in detail, has been circulated for the information of honorable senators. I do not propose to refer to the details of the new agreement, but will confine myself to comments on the chief classes of goods affected by it, and to a few brief references to its principal features.
Probably the most valuable concession granted to Australia by the New Zealand Government is the imposition of a duty of Id. per lb. on foreign sultanas and lexias thus giving- Australia a preference of that amount. New Zealand imports of these commodities in 1931. amounted to £249,000, of which £180,000 worth was supplied by Australia. With the aid of the preference now enjoyed, Australiashould be able to secure the whole of the trade.
As honorable senators will notice, this preference is subject to the Australian industry supplying all the reasonable requirements of Now Zealand, and to its not taking advantage of the duty on foreign raisins to increase prices to New Zealand purchasers. There is also a special proviso under which the continuance of the preference on seeded raisins for more than, one year is subject to the New Zealand Government being satisfied that the seeded raisins supplied by Australia meet the reasonable requirements of the New Zealand market.
The dried fruit industry also benefits substantially under an undertaking given by the New Zealand Government that, after the 1st January, 1934, Australian dried tree-fruits shall be admitted into Now Zealand at a rate of duty not exceeding the rate levied on similar fruit from other countries. This concession will place Australia in the same favorable position as South Africa, which is now the principal supplier of New Zealand’s requirements in dried tree-fruits, such as apricots and peaches.
Australian pineapple canners, whose goods are subject to an ad valorem duty of 35 per cent., while similar goods from
Malay States are dutiable at the lower rate of 25 per cent., will obtain the benefit of the lower rate, and should be enabled substantially to improve their trade with New Zealand.
Other concessions gained by Australia include a reduction of the duty on macaroni, cotton seed meal, refined linseed oil, canned prunes, cement and asbestos sheets and roofing slates, hats and caps, rubber soled canvas shoes, and various classes, of machinery. These are the principal lines of Australian goods benefiting under the agreement.
The concessions which Australia is making to New Zealand on specified goods include the free admission of linseed, lucerne seed, toheroa and other fish soups, whale oil, fish paste, woollen floor rugs, insecticides for agricultural use, liver extracts, pig iron, stilton cheese, garden seed peas, and shotgun cartridges.
I turn now to the most important general provisions of the agreement. Under Article 7, goods, the produce or manufacture of New Zealand will, on entry into Australia, be exempt from primage duty. At the present time, New Zealand goods are subject to primage at the same rates as goods from other countries. This means that a limited number of lines are exempt while others are liable to a primage duty of 4 per cent., 5 per cent., or 10 per cent, ad valorem.
In respect of Australian goods entering New Zealand, a primage of 3 per cent, is levied if the goods are otherwise free of duty. No primage is payable on goods which are subject to tariff duties. No immediate alteration will be made by the New Zealand Government, but it has given an undertaking to abolish primage on Australian goods as soon as financial conditions permit.
Under Article 9, insofar as goods not specifically mentioned in the schedules to the agreement are concerned, .either country may, if its British Preferential Tariff rate on a given product is lower than the British Preferential rate of the other country on that product, request admission of that product into the other country at the lower rate. If the country to which the request is made fails to comply, the other country will be at liberty to bring its duty into line by levying the same rate as is imposed by the country which fails to comply with the request.
Under article 11, if certain Australian goods are exempt from the Australian sales tax, similar goods imported from New Zealand will also he exempt. The provision is reciprocal. The agreement also provides for a modification of the preference conditions. At the present time, Australian goods entering New Zealand must contain 50 per cent, of Empire material and labour before they can qualify for admission under the preferential tariff rates. Under the new agreement, they will require to contain 50 per cent, of Australian material and labour. On the other hand, New Zealand goods entering Australia under existing conditions must contain 75 per cent, of New Zealand material and labour. The new agreement establishes uniformity in the requirements of both countries, and provides that New Zealand goods containing not less than 50 per cent, of New Zealand material and labour therein will in future qualify for preference.
Under the 1922 agreement, the granting of any rebate or bounty is not allowed on sugar contained in goods exported from one country to the other. It is now proposed to allow the grant of a rebate on sugar contained in manufactured goods exported from one country to the other, provided it does not reduce the cost of the sugar below the import parity. This concession, which will amount to from £6 to £S a ton on sugar, will be of considerable benefit to Australian exporters, and will materially assist the industries concerned to meet competition in the New Zealand market.
The agreement clears up the position of the islands attached to the two dominions by definitely expressing that the concessions granted by New Zealand will not apply to the products of Norfolk Island, and that the concessions granted by Australia will not be applicable to goods produced in the Cook Islands. The two islands produce somewhat similar goods, and compete against each other in regard to bananas.
The provision in the agreement covering cocoa beans from Western Samoa is included for the purpose of bringing Western Samoa into line with a large number of British non-self-governing colonies which received a preference under the Ottawa agreement. Western
Samoa was formerly a German territory. It is now administered by New Zealand under a mandate from the League of Nations.
There is also a provision in the new agreement for the free admission on a reciprocal basis of publicity films produced by the Government of New Zealand and the Commonwealth and State Governments of Australia.
Another matter having an important bearing on our trade with New Zealand is the diversion of New Zealand’s import trade from the United Kingdom to Australia. Under a favorable exchange rate, as compared with the United Kingdom, Australia has enjoyed an advantage in the New Zealand markets, and in spite of the great decline of the total import trade of New Zealand there have been numerous instances in which the imports from Australia have shown appreciable advances. This has been specially evident in the case of iron and steel products, including fencing and barbed wire, and wire netting, artificial silk piece goods, hosiery; apparel, and boots and shoes. The imports of Australian iron and steel products into New Zealand advanced from £12,000 in 1930 to £147,000 in 1932. The New Zealand Government has been greatly concerned at this diversion of trade from the United Kingdom which absorbs practically the whole of New Zealand’s exportable goods. So seriously did the New Zealand Government view the position that it contemplated imposing an exchange dumping duty on Australian goods to offset the advantage which Australia enjoyed over the United Kingdom. Fortunately, Senator Massy-Greene was able to induce the New Zealand Government to defer this action which would have placed a. very definite check on Australian trade. In an exchange of notes it has been arranged that if the diversion of the trade continues the New Zealand Government shall address the Australian Government on the matter, and the two Governments shall endeavour to devise a satisfactory method of checking the diversion, either by means of the regulation of trade in the goods affected, or by such other means as may be mutually acceptable. If the two Governments arc unable to devise a moans of checking the diversion, the New Zealand Government will be free to adopt such means as it thinks proper. The position is unfortunate for our export trade, but the compromise which has been made with New Zealand has a very real advantage in that it ensures that the New Zealand Government will discuss the matter with the Australian Government before taking any steps to erect barriers against our trade. During these discussions the Australian Government will have an opportunity to state a full case for the consideration of the New Zealand Government.
Having dealt briefly with the main features of the agreement, I commend, it to the support of honorable senators. It represents an earnest endeavour to promote trade on sound reciprocal lines between two dominions with common aspirations. The agreement affords every reasonable safeguard to our industries - both primary and secondary - and also ensures a continuation of the favorable treatment which Australia enjoys in the New Zealand market.
I cannot conclude without paying a further tribute to the efforts of Senator Massy-Greene. Had it not been for his tactful handling of the position, I doubt whether the agreement which is before us to-day would have been reached.
.- I have no opposition to offer to the passage of this measure. On the contrary, I believe that there are grounds for congratulating the Government on having come to an amicable arrangement with a sister dominion which is a close neighbour. In the past there has been a good deal of trade friction between Australia and New Zealand, but, apparently, this agreement removes many of the causes of previous disagreements. To that extent, the signing of the agreement is a matter on which both dominions may be congratulated. The negotiations necessary to bring an agreement of this nature to a successful conclusion require diplomatic handling. Senator Massy-Greene was well fitted to undertake the delicate mission with which he was entrusted, and he well deserves the praise of the Minister and the gratitude of the people. There was a time when Australia imposed a duty of 6d. per lb. on butter from New Zealand, and thereby caused the dominion some annoyance.
– Australia had to impose that duty.
– I agree that the action taken by Australia was reasonable. It would be ridiculous for Australia, which produces large quantities of butter, to import butter from any country. In 1921, Australia produced 276,000,000 lb. of butter, and in 1931-32 391,000,000 lb., an increase of 124,000,000 lb. in ten years. When we reflect that in. 1931-32 Australia exported 201,000,000 lb. of butter, we must conclude that it would be folly to allow butter to be imported. I regret that it was not possible to negotiate successfully for the sale in Nev/ Zealand of Australian fresh citrus fruit, for the citrus fruit industry has developed to considerable dimensions in Australia, particularly in Victoria. The potato-growers of Australia were greatly concerned about the risks associated with the importation of potatoes from New Zealand, because of the prevalence of disease in that dominion. One can understand their fear. I am glad that this difficulty did not prevent an agreement’ from being entered into.
Unfortunately, Senator O’Halloran had to leave Canberra last night. He wished to bring before the Minister a matter of considerable importance - the competition of wine from South Africa in the New Zealand market. I am not personally acquainted with the details of the case he wished to present, but, no doubt, he will bring the matter before the Minister and the Senate on a subsequent occasion.
In Victoria, there is a factory for the manufacture of ammunition for sporting shotguns. This factory, which employs about 50 operatives, fears the competition of New Zealand in this class of goods. The matter has been brought under the notice of the Minister privately, but I desire to have the facts included in Hansard for convenient reference in the future. I hope to obtain the sympathetic consideration of the Minister to the claims of this Australian factory when future negotiations between the two dominions are in progress.
– It is a matter of the adjustment of internal charges by the respective governments.
– I am sure that it was not intended that the Australian industry should he at a disadvantage in comparison with the New Zealand industry. The facts regarding this industry are set out in the following document : -
comparison with the New Zealand industry. The facts regarding this industry are set out in the following document : -
– I am sure that it was not intended that the Australian industry should he at a disadvantage in
comparison with the New Zealand industry. The facts regarding this industry are set out in the following document : -
– I am sure that it was not intended that the Australian industry should he at a disadvantage in
comparison with the New Zealand industry. The facts regarding this industry are set out in the following document : -
– I am sure that it was not intended that the Australian industry should he at a disadvantage in
– I am sure that it was not intended that the Australian industry should he at a disadvantage in
– I am sure that it was not intended that the Australian industry should he at a disadvantage in
I ask the Government to do what it can to remedy what, I am sure, was an unintentional error. I hope that this agreement will lead to greater reciprocity in the trade relations between New Zealand and Australia.
– It is a matter of congratulation that Australia and New Zealand have been able to conclude a trade agreement that is apparently satisfactory to both parties. I remember that the late Mr. H. E. Pratten, when Minister for Trade and Customs, went to New Zealand in 1928 for the purpose of conducting trade negotiations, and returned practically empty handed. So faT as I recollect, ho did not even make a report to Parliament on his trip. The present agreement represents a definite achievement, which is welcome to the people of Australia, most of whom desire to cooperate with a sister dominion which lies bo close to the Commonwealth. I have been told by people who have visited New Zealand in recent years that a pronounced feeling against Australia and Australians is noticeable throughout the dominion. This we should try to alleviate, even at the risk of a few potatogrowers in Victoria being detrimentally affected.
I congratulate Senator Massy-Greene upon having negotiated this agreement. On the occasion of his retirement from the Ministry recently, I did not have an opportunity to felicitate him on his fine record of public service. I do so sincerely now. That the honorable senator adorned the office which he has just vacated must be admitted by any fairminded man with even a superficial knowledge of the difficulties he faced and overcame during the last two years. The .country was exceedingly fortunate in having the great abilities of Senator Massy-Greene placed at its disposal, especially as, at the time of his association with the present Ministry, he was not in good health. Although I have not always agreed “with the honorable senator, I agree that his services to Australia have been noteworthy, and it is proper that Ave should make that acknowledgment while welcoming his successor to office. This agreement is perhaps the last of Senator Massy-Greene’s ministerial acts which will come before Parliament, and it is an appropriate moment to bear testimony to his outstanding abilities and service.
Senator Massy-Greene went to New Zealand to negotiate this agreement at a difficult time. There was then a movement in the dominion to impose an exchange dumping duty on Australian goods in order to assist the trade with the United Kingdom, which is New Zealand’s best market. Of exports of a total value of £37,000,000 in 1932, goods valued at £32,500,000 were bought by the United Kingdom.
– And Australia took less than £1,000,000 worth.
– Australian trade with New Zealand has been increasing while that with Great Britain has been decreasing. That was causing concern to the New Zealanders, because, naturally, they desired to buy from the country which bought most of their exports. Senator Massy-Greene was able to check the movement for the imposition of a dumping duty on Australian goods. The fact that the duty was not imposed is almost certainly due to the fact that he visited New Zealand. The Minister for Trade and Customs when introducing this bill in another place, said that the agreement provided substantial and increasing benefits for our secondary industries. New Zealand furnishes one of the few markets we have outside Australia for our manufactured goods.
Article 7 of this agreement exempts New Zealand goods from the payment of primage duty upon entering Australia. Is this altogether consonant with article 14 of the Ottawa agreement?. It seems to me that Great Britain might legitimately complain of this provision.
– I think thai where we make separate trade agreements, we are free from the provisions of the Ottawa agreement. However, I shall look into the matter.
– HUGHES.Article 14 of the Ottawa agreement is as follows : -
His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia undertakes in so far as concerns goods the produce or manufacture of the United Kingdom:
to reduce or remove primage duty as soon as the finances of Australia will allow.
The primage duty has been reduced in accordance with the recent budget, but the duties have not been entirely abolished. I question whether we are justified in making an agreement with another dominion to admit its goods free of primage duty while those of Great Britain are still subject to this impost. My own view is that if we cannot abolish the primage duty altogether, it should not be removed from the goods of one dominion while operating against those from the United Kingdom. There is a provision in the agreement that gun cartridges made in New Zealand may enter Australia without paying primage duty. If made in Great Britain, however, they would still be liable to primage, so that New Zealand goods will enjoy an advantage in this respect and also from the fact of being produced closer to their market.
Article 11 provides for a reciprocal arrangement in regard to sales tax. It says that where Australian goods are exempt in Australia from the payment of sales tax, similar New Zealand goods Shall also be exempt; and the same concession applies to Australian goods in New Zealand. I frankly confess that I was not aware until very recently that there has been foi- three years a list of goods produced in Australia which was exempt from sales tax, and which, therefore, enjoyed an additional advantage as compared with goods produced elsewhere. By the courtesy of a customs official of whom I made inquiries, I was directed to the relevant section, which is Section 21 of the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. 1) 1930, together with the schedule to that act. The section relates to primary goods derived directly from certain operations carried on in Australia. The list is fairly extensive, and covers goods relating to mining, cultivation of land, the maintenance of animals, poultry and bees, the fishing industry, and timber getting. For the last three years those goods have been enjoying an advantage over similar goods imported from overseas. If certain of our primary industries have in the past been receiving this advantage through not having to pay sales tax, they will now be in a worse position than formerly as compared with similar goods produced in New Zealand, because the latter, nearly all primary goods, will not have to pay sales tax either. The Minister for Trade and Customs said that the agreement gives substantial and increasing benefits to our secondary industries. I do not wish to revive, here the dispute between the champions of primary and secondary production, but I express the hope that the removal of the sales tax from these primary goods is not being done for the benefit of the secondary industries, largely, if not entirely, at the expense of primary production. So far as I am aware no attention has been drawn to this point either in Parliament or elsewhere >but it is clear that the placing of New Zealand goods on the same basis as Australian goods in regard to the- sales tax, withdraws from our chief primary industries certain advantages that they have enjoyed for tho last three years.
If we desire to bring about friendly relations with New Zealand, and every honorable senator will agree that that is most desirable, we should not leave the position in regard to potatoes as it now is.
– Or oranges
– The New Zealanders have shown their bona fides by exempting oranges from South Australia, because of their freedom from disease, but they do not give a similar exemption to oranges grown in other States. They take their stand on the suitability of the fruit to be imported, but I have always thought that the Australian embargo on New Zealand potatoes has a political flavour. I understand that the corky-scab disease, of which Australian growers profess to be afraid, is found in every part of the world. I am sure that .the embargo imposed on New Zealand potatoes is the outstanding factor which prevents the good trade relations between the Commonwealth and the Dominion from being further improved, and I urge the Government to persist in the endeavour to overcome the difficulties. So far as I know the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has never been asked to report on this disease, as to either its importance, prevalence or eradication, but I suggest that through that body we should bo able to become better informed a9 to whether our objection to New Zealand potatoes is well founded, and, if so, whether there is any possibility of preventing or eradicating the disease, and so removing an obstacle to closer relations with our sister dominion.
I notice that, tinder the agreement, produce from the Cook Islands is exempted, apparently as a special concession to Queensland. I believe that if a small and rigid quota of bananas from Cook Islands were admitted, similarly to the admissions from Fiji, the Queensland banana industry would not be substantially affected.
– - It would merely drive a. few more banana-growers in Queensland off the land.
– But it might lead to much better trade relations with New Zealand. Incidentally, I recall that on a recent visit to Queensland, I noticed that the bananas with which visitors are supplied are of better quality than those ordinarily despatched to markets in the southern States. I hesitate to suggest that Queensland deliberately retains the best bananas for its own people, and sends the inferior fruit to its southern neighbours. The difference that I have noticed is probably due to the fact that the fruit that is exported has to be picked green and, therefore, is not properly matured.
A week or two ago I asked Senator Collings why New Zealand and Australia, which have so much in common owing to their kinship and geographical contiguity, and must almost inevitably com e more closely together, should not have practically free trade between themselves. The people of New Zealand are from the same stock as Australians, their standards of living are similar to ours, their currency is at par with that of Australia, and their social services - for instance, the pensions system - are substantially the same as those in Australia. I know of no other two countries which are separated by only a four-days’ sea voyage, whose conditions so completely correspond. I should like to hear good reasons, if they can be advanced, why Australia and New Zealand should not have a form of reciprocal freetrade. I see no reason why the Commonwealth should not deal as freely with New Zealand as it does with Western Australia or Queensland; in fact, New Zealand is much closer to tha Commonwealth Seat of Government than is the north of Australia. Why should tariff walls be erected between two sister dominions, which, have common interests? Freetrade between them would not mean that the standard of living of either dominion need fall. I am glad that a step has been taken in the direction of improving trade relations between the Commonwealth and New Zealand, and I trust that this understanding will be extended in the near future.
– I was born in New Zealand, and lived there for about 25 years, so I know a good deal about the country. Although I differ from Senator DuncanHughes as to the value of freetrade generally, I agree with him that the fewer fiscal barriers there are between neighbouring dominions, the better it will be for them. Although the Labour party stands for protection, at heart it desires international peace. This cannot be obtained if high customs barriers are erected by one nation against another. Australia has, in a spirit of self defence, adopted the policy of protection. Before Senator Massy-Greene visited New Zealand recently that country had imposed practically an embargo against the importation of citrus fruits from Australia. It was said that a certain disease in New Zealand potatoes made necessary an embargo against their importation into Australia; but in international economic re1lations excuses are readily found, and the New Zealand embargo on Australian citrus fruits may have been merely r&>taliation for the Australian embargo on dominion produce, notably butter and potatoes. A friend of mine who lived in New Zealand 25 years ago, told me that he believed the time would come when war’ would occur between Australia and New Zealand.
– He must have meant a trade war.
– No, he meant real war. The Maoris were a militant race, and the people of New Zealand are not unfamiliar with actual warfare in their own country over a large area. When I was in London, I attended lectures on the economic history of the great powers, and alecturerat the London University stated positively that the wars of Great Britain with Spain, Holland andFrance were waged for commercial reasons. Spain being a Latin country in which Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion, there may have been reasons other than trade for its wars with England, but the people of Holland are Protestants, and of Teutonic origin, and there was every reason why peace and goodwill should have prevailed between Great Britain and Holland. Yet, because of trade rivalry, those countries fought a bloody war, which was recalled recently by the statement of one of the newspaper lords of Great Britain that Britain is as defenceless to-day as when the Dutch sailed up the Thames and burnt the British fleet.
Sitting suspended f rom 12.45 to 2.15p.m.
– In the past, there has been a certain amount of illfeeling between the two dominions. Senator. Duncan-Hughes told us this morning that when some friends of his were on a visit to New Zealand some time ago they noticed a bitter feeling against Australia. My experience in New Zealand convinced me that the people of that country have a very friendly feeling for the Commonwealth. This, I think, is borne out by the tradefigures which show that commercial intercourse between the two countries has reached considerable dimensions. It is only natural that communities of British peoples in proximity should have extensive trade relations. Australia is the main centre of British influence in the south Pacific. This country is charged with the guardianship, in this part of the world, of British interests, and the security of the white race. New Zealand is one of the outlying posts of the Empire. The Commonwealth is a popular holiday resort for a great many New Zealanders. I suppose that 49 out of 50 citizens of the dominion who travel visit Australia before going elsewhere, and naturally they spend a considerable portion of their time, while in this country, in the more populous cities of Sydney and Melbourne. So extensive is the business intercourse of the two countries that we are, in effect, a commercial federation, and I am sure that all wellwishers of both nations will welcome this agreement because of the facilities it will provide for even closer trading relations.
Until 1840, New Zealand was governed from Sydney. There is no reason why, under a wider constitution, it should not be governed from Canberra in the not distant future. Senator Duncan-Hughes referred to the removal of primage duty from New Zealand goods entering into Australia, and said he did not see why the product of the sister dominion should have more favoured treatment than other British goods. Since New Zealand is so much closer to Australia, than are other portions of the Empire, it is only natural that in our trade arrangements, we should give it special advantages in return for concessions granted to us. I have been in South Africa and Canada so I am more or less interested in the welfare of those self-governing units ofthe British Empire, but they are so far removed from Australia that it is impossible to have as deep an interest in their affairs as in the sister dominion of New Zealand. Its proximity to Australia makes the relationshipbetween the two peoples much move intimate.
I do not wish to raise trouble over bananas, which is a subject in regard to which the people of Queensland are sensitive. The application of the agreement to the products of Cook Islands, where bananas are produced, might result in some small trade in this commodity; but, while this trade alone might not do any injury to Australian growers, it might open the door to importations of bananas from other parts of the Empire, including East Africa. We should not do anything that might have the effect of driving banana-growers off their properties in northern New South Wales and in Queensland.
Article 11 of the agreement exempts from sales tax New Zealand goods which compete with Australian goods that are on the exempt list. This, I suggest, is a recognition of the fact that Australians and New Zealanders are really one people commercially, faced with the same difficulties and dangers, and destined to sink or swim together. I cannot conceive that an Australian would object to going to the assistance of New Zealand in time of danger, and I am fully convinced that, should the need arise, New Zealanders would hasten to our aid. For all these reasons, I am sure that the bill is welcomed by all sections of the people. It is to be regretted, of course, that the New Zealand Government has not given us more generous treatment in respect of citrus fruits, but I am glad to know that the growers of this class of fruit in South Australia havehad some concessions granted to them. I hope that similar treatment will be given to growers of citrus fruits in Queensland and the other States. Action taken some time ago by New Zealand to close its market to Australian citrus fruits was a severe blow to the Australian industry; but, happily, that incident has passed. Senator Massy-Greene is to be congratulated upon the general terms of the agreement. In his book, Manassas, Upton Sinclair traces the causes of the American civil war, and shows that, although people may be of the same race, and be bound together by the closest of ties, they can become so inflamed over trading and other domestic issues that they appeal to the sword to settle their differences. A similar situation is not likely to arise between Australia and New Zealand, and, as the result of a larger measure of reciprocal trading which this agreement will make possible, the people of the two countries will be drawn closer together.
The Minister has told us that the statis tics of trade between Australia and New Zealand show the balance to be largely in our favour, the amount being over £2,000,000 a year or two ago, and last year over £1,000,000. The decline, I believe, is due to the fact that New Zealand has suffered from the depression even more than Australia. I think it is likely that the refusal of the New Zealand banks to “peg” the exchange earlier, as was done in Australia, also, to some extent, accentuated the depression. But the rate of exchange between the two countries is now on the same level, and that in conjunction with this agreement will further improve the trading relations between the two countries. For that rea son it will be welcomed by the people generally.I conclude my reference to the agreement by giving to it the familiar Maori salutation “ kia ora “.
SenatorRAE (New South Wales) [2.29]. - I agree very largely with the fraternal sentiments uttered by the other honorable senators who have spoken concerning the steps taken to bring the Commonwealth and the Dominion of New Zealand closer together. While the agreement is based on trade considerations, there is no doubt that, in operation, it will very greatly improve the social relations between the people of both countries. Senator Duncan-Hughes has referred to a feeling of hostility on the part of New Zealanders towards Australia. I think I can. account for that. Although I am a native of New Zealand, I have spent the greater part of my life in Australia. I have occasionally revisited that dominion. If there is any general feeling of hostility between New Zealanders and Australians it is due to the fact that, politically, New Zealanders are the most tory and reactionary persons I have ever met. Some 40 or 50 years ago, New Zealanders were right on the other tack; they were most militant and progressive democrats. They were led by extremely advanced politicians who were miles in advance of the political vanguard in Australia. A famous Governor of the dominion, Sir George Grey, was a most radical politician, whole whole life was spent in imbuing the people with what he considered valuable democratic reforms. Whenhe vacated the governorship, he became a member of the New Zealand Parliament, and later the Premier. In that capacity ho introduced the taxation of improved land values, a bill for the abolition of plural voting, and other progressive measures. Prior to the time that I left New Zealand, there was a strong republican feeling there. It is interesting to note that a widespread and distinct change has come over the Now Zealand people. In the main, Australians who visit that country are more free and easy in their manner than are the New Zealanders. Australians have a totally different view of life. I have known instances of Australians being refused work if they said that they wore
Australians. The prejudice was greater on the part of New Zealanders than it was on the part of Australians.
– They have an insular outlook.
– It is only natural that the people of islands situated far from other centres should develop an insularity in excess of that which prevails in this continent. I am glad to see that a definite attempt has been made by the two countries to come closer together commercially, and I should say to those who think that we may suffer as a result of this agreement that strong protectionists base their arguments on the fact that wo who have raised our standard of living to its present level could not compete with a country in which cheap labour is available. It seems only natural that there should be some measure of reciprocal trade between the two dominions. I cannot’ see that any permanent disadvantage would result if absolute freetrade were established between New Zealand and Australia. There must, however, be planned production to obviate the difficulties that would arise from glutting the market’s of one country with the surplus products of another. I have known New Zealand potatoes to be purchased at ls. a bag of 1 cwt. 3 qrs., but if we tried to open up trade on that basis we would interfere with the potato-growing areas of Tasmania and Victoria. Those persons specially interested in one industry would look with alarm upon their markets being invaded by cheaper products. Such matters could be settled only by a system of planned production. When I last visited New Zealand a few years ago, with one of my daughters, we experienced difficulty in buying Australian fruit at railway stations, fruit shops or similar places. It was not because other British dominions were getting the trade because most of the fruit was of the “Sunkist” brand from California. The same difficulty was found in connexion with raisins and other dried fruits. Tho country was flooded with products, not from other dominions, but principally from America. On numerous occasions we tried to purchase Australian goods ‘but found that they were not being stocked. The adoption of this agreement should alter the position, and I trust that as time goes on arrangements will be made to increase the number of articles in which we trade. It is regrettable that there is no reference to Australian wine, and that our delegate was unsuccessful in persuading the New Zealand Government to lift completely the embargo on Australian citrus fruits. The diseases with which these fruits may be affected are not likely to do any damage in New Zealand because citrus fruits are not grown there. The pests which infest citrus fruits do not affect other varieties. The considerations which dictated the embargo against Australian citrus fruits are mainly political. I am not one of those who believe that we should attempt to induce New Zealand to join the Australian federation. We should have a complete understanding on certain matters.’ -
– The subject of New Zealand joining the federation was discussed.
– Yes. I think that the friendship of the two countries is more likely to be increased without, rather than within, a political union. That sentiment was well expressed many years ago at the first allAustralian Convention to draft the Federal Constitution. Included in the New Zealand delegates who attended were Sir George Grey, Major Sir Henry Aitkinson and others. In referring to the distance which separates Sydney and Wellington, one of the delegates remarked at the completion of the convention that the 1,200 miles furnished 1,200 reasons why New Zealand should not enter the federation. Notwithstanding the fact that New Ze’aland is our nearest neighbour of any magnitude, a political union between countries so wide apart and with a different outlook is impracticable.
– Look how well Western Australia gets on with the othemembers of the federation.
– Western Australia does not get on very happily. The overwhelming vote in that State in favour of secession, suggests that Western Australia is not at all satisfied with the terms o the union. When it comes down to t practical application of the principlthe difficulties are insurmountable Trouble and complications would arise ii trying to reconcile the varying interests of the Australian States and the dominion, and there is naturally greater affinity between communities of the same race occupying the same territory without any ocean between them than there is between similar countries separated by great distances. The fact that the sea divides Ireland and Great Britain is one reason for the differences of opinion between the peoples of the two islands. The nearest point of New Zealand is 1,200 miles from Australia, and, in my opinion, it would not be a good partnership to unite the two countries by political ties, which would be no~ sooner forged than they would prove irksome, particularly to the weaker member. I do not believe that it is desirable to attempt to form any political union with New Zealand. We can secure practically all the advantages which political union would give us without the dangers and disabilities associated with it. The distance between the two countries would render the meeting of a joint parliament both an expensive and a time-wasting project, but we should do all we possibly can to foster the bonds of friendship between the two dominions, and lay ourselves out to act fairly and squarely with the people of New Zealand. There should be an honest attempt to build up those commercial relations which go a long way towards fostering a friendly sentiment. Although, to a great extent, the two countries produce similar products, as, for instance, dairy produce and meat, the fact that New Zealand does the bulk of its trade with the Mother Country makes it extremely difficult for the Government of New Zealand to encourage the importation of manufactured goods from Australia to the extent that ‘ would otherwise be the natural outcome of our proximity. That problem will require careful handling in the future. Every year Great Britain imports enormous quantities of primary produce from New Zealand, and, naturally, the people of Britain expect New Zealand to buy their manufactured goods. That state of affairs forms a barrier to the extension of trade between New Zealand and this country in manufactured goods. Eventually, as Australia progresses as a manufacturing country, its comparative nearness to New Zealand will enable its manufacturers to obtain a fair share of that market. I cordially agree that good work was done by Senator Massy-Greene, and I trust that the fruit of his labours will be not only to our commercial, advantage, but will also promote the development of good feeling between the two dominions.
– I welcome as a step in the right direction thi3 new trade agreement with our sister dominion of New Zealand, as a result of the negotiations so ably carried out by Senator Massy-Greene. I have a great affection and admiration for our beautiful and wonderful sister, New Zealand, which has been, aptly described as “ the jewel of the Southern seas “. The inhabitants of those islands are a wonderful people - more British than even the people of the British Isles. Moreover, they are loyal to the core. I always think of New Zealand as a wonderful example of true democracy. Twenty or 30 years ago the people of Australia were inclined to regard New Zealand as a radical country; but time has proved that its people were right. They went a certain distance off the’ beaten track, but not too far. They adopted adult suffrage, and were foremost in following a policy of decentralization and closer settlement. Generally, their legislation has been wise and for the betterment of the majority of the citizens of the country. During the Great War the proportion of the adult males who volunteered for active service was greater in New Zealand than in any other part of the British Empire.
– That was because New Zealand had conscription.
– The proportion of volunteers to the male population waa greater than in England itself, where also there was conscription. New Zealand” is a country of great beauty and wonderful productivity. It has led the Empire in closer settlement, pasture improvement, lamb production, and rotational grazing and dairying, and it has conferred on the pastoral industry a benefit of incalculable worth by evolving the Corriedale breed of sheep. New Zealand has an advantage over Australia in that its population is much more evenly distributed. Christchurch, Wellington, Dunedin, and Auckland are practically of equal size. The islands possess a number of useful ports, and the adoption of a policy of decentralization has led to the development of the country generally.
– That is the result of geographical conditions.
– Yes, and also to climatic conditions and other things. In my opinion, the people of New Zealand were wise not to enter the Australian federation. It was proposed that they should do so, and able men advocated that course. Among them was Sir John Roberts of Dunedin, one of the foremost delegates to the federal conventions, who is still an active man. The greater the reciprocity between Australia and New Zealand the better. The people of the two dominions are of the same . stock, they speak the same language, they . have practically the same laws, the same judiciary, and the same sports, and their ideals and aspirations are identical. The two countries have so much in common, and are so friendly, that I would welcome freetrade between them. New Zealand has always treated Australia fairly. The balance of trade between the two countries has always been in Australia’s favour by about £2,000,000 per annum. There is still a great market for our citrus and dried fruits, wines, and other products in New Zealand. I am pleased that Senator Massy-Greene visited New Zealand and arranged an agreement for a greater exchange of commodities between the two dominions. I have pleasure in supporting the bill.
– Judging by the speeches made here this afternoon, honorable senators, generally, regard favorably the action of the Government in entering into this agreement. All honorable senators who have spoken have given it their blessing. I add mine, but for different reasons. This measure is evidence that we are coming nearer to a proper understanding of the limitations of the present system of production and distribution. By entering into this agreement, we shall force the people of New Zealand and Australia to realize that there cannot be freetrade between the two countries, that as time passes the limitations of trade will grow, and that they cannot hope to overcome their economic disabilities merely by fostering trade. That may appear to be a somewhat unorthodox statement, but the fact remains that, in many ways, Australia and New Zealand are alike. We cannot hope that those who are interested in the production of certain commodities in Australia will be willing to do anything to jeopardize their interests. It is all very well to be sentimental, and to speak of the days when, as Morris said, “All shall be better than well “, bur, even between two dominions such as Australia and. New Zealand, there can be the keenest economic rivalry. It is admitted that there has been friction between the two dominions. Any bad feeling will be overcome more by a common understanding of the economic situation than by flattering the people and trying to establish friendly relations by increasing the volume of trade between the two countries. According to the Commonwealth Year-Book, No. 25, the total value of the goods imported from New Zealand in the year 1931-32 was £988,000. New Zealand was granted a. preference of £144,000, or 14 per cent. Australia, has treated New Zealand generously.
– In the same year, Australia sent to New Zealand goods valued at £2,300,000.
– My point is that we can bring about a better understanding between the people of the two dominions by having a clearer conception of what international and interdominion trade means, than by creating a greater volume of trade. The agreement which has been entered into may create a better understanding for a while; but as time passes, difficulties will arise because of the fact that both countries produce the same commodities. There will ‘have to be a revision of the agreement. Australia has a favorable trade balance with New Zealand, and this favorable trade balance is trotted out on nearly every occasion. We are told that we have sold to New Zealand £2,000,000 worth of goods more than we have bought from that dominion. On several occasions 1 have pointed out that we must necessarily be paid, for those exports, if not in goods from New Zealand, then in goods from some other country. If that principle were more clearly understood, honorable senators would not be so much tempted to make false assumptions. If the implication in the Minister’s statement were correct, New Zealand would be buying from Australia £2,000,000 worth of goods for which she is not paying. If we induce New Zealand to buy certain goods from us which formerly she bought from Great Britain, how does that advance the cause of Empire trade? The Minister quoted figures to show that, in 1931-32, New Zealand imported from Australia iron and steel goods to the value of £47,000, as against £10,000 a year ago. Previously, however, these goods were imported by New Zealand from Great Britain, and now Great Britain is concerned over the growing improvement of Australia’s trade with New Zealand. I ask the sentimentalists in what way the principle of Empire trade is furthered by Now Zealand transferring her custom from Great Britain to Australia? “With the development of the means of production in all parts of the Empire, it is becoming possible for all those parts to produce more of certain goods than they themselves require. The freetrade sentimentalists say that if we break down tradebarriers, we shall solve our economic problems and improve Imperial relations. That contention is absurd.. At the same time I appreciate the efforts of the Government to promote better feeling between this and other countries. The Labour party is in favour of such attempts. It was opposed to the Ottawa agreement, because that was an attempt to make an agreement which would fit the Empire as a whole, but we are strongly infavour of the making of agreements betweenone country and another. Natural factors must, before long, limit the trade which can be done between any two countries. Trade between Australia and New Zealand will eventually be carriedon only in those commodities which we produce and New Zealand does not, and those which New Zealand produces and we do not. The amount of trade must necessarily be small, and, as time goes on, will become relatively smaller and smaller. If there is bad feeling in New Zealand now because we will not take her primary produce, that feeling will not be allayed by attempts to negotiate trade agreements of this kind. It is time that the people of Australia and New Zealand came to understand the actual economic position; otherwise their disappointment, when this agreement fails to producethe results anticipated, may cause bitterness. Before very long it is quite likely that Australia will have to send an emissary to New Zealand because Great Britain will be pressing the dominion in regard to iron and steel goods. The Minister has admitted that he is worried over that very situation. It is necessary to dissipate the illusion thatwe can bring about a better economic position merely by fostering overseas trade.
– No one person is responsible for whatever ill feeling may haveexisted over trade matters between Australia and New Zealand, but we should not be backward in giving what credit is due to Senator Massy-Greene for his work in negotiating this agreement. He was handicapped in his work by the fact that both Australia and New Zealand have settled fiscal policies from which they are not prepared to depart. I am unable to see how New Zealand could be expected to be enthusiastic about Australia’s fiscal policy which, in the past, has excluded her products from the Australian market. The representatives of Tasmania in this Parliament have been successful in inducing the Commonwealth Government , to prohibit the importation of potatoes and vegetables from New Zealand, and the New Zealand Government has not been slow to retaliate. Australia maintains a palatial building in London, and spends much money in Great Britain and Europe advertising her produce, but the fact remains that, whereas our trade with New Zealand was worth £10,000,000 in 1920, to-day it is worth only £2,000,000. There is a market in New Zealand for us to exploit, and in order to obtain admission to it, it should not have been necessary for us to send there a Cabinet Minister, cap in hand, as a sort of political mendicant. It may bo claimed that Tasmania, as a part ofthe Commonwealth, has a right to have its primary industries protected. Of course it has, but Tasmania has received more than its share of Commonwealth Consolidated Revenue. The Tasmanian representatives in this chamber have done their best by their action in regard to galvanized iron, to destroy the Electrolytic Zinc Works at Risdon. In 1931, New Zealand imported from the United States of America fresh and dried fruits to the value of £139,686, and from other foreign countries it obtained similar products to the value of £45,840. The total value of the goods of this class imported from all countries was £632,636. Senator Guthrie opened his remarks in support of this measure by referring to the loyalty of New Zealanders to the Motherland, but I do not approve of that dominion’s action in giving trade preferences to the United States of America. Australian ships trading to the United States of America either have to place Australian fruits under lock and key, or dump it overboard before they enter the three-mile limit. It seems farcical for Australia and New Zealand to claim close kinship with one another when the latter accords trade preference to the United States of America. In 1931, New Zealand imported sugar from the United States of America to the value of £6,320, and from other foreign countries to the value of £487,851; but New Zealand is only 1,200 miles from Australia. In the same year, iron and steel products to the value of £115,039 were imported into New Zealand from the United States of America, and the value of those obtained from other foreign countries was £96,245. The imports of these goods from all countries, including Great Britain, was £1,317,626. The New Zealand Official Year-Book, 1933, states -
The import trade of the dominion, though spread over more countries than the export trade, is yet eon fined mainly to the United Kingdom, Australia, the United States and Canada. In the days of the first settlement, Australia was the source from which the young colony drew most of its supplies, and for a long period imports from Australia overshadowed imports from the United Kingdom. The proportion of imports from Australia, however, tended to decrease steadily, till from 60 per cent. in 1862 it fell to between 10 and 12 per cent., a figure which remained fairly constant until 1925, after which there was a progressive decline to less than 7per cent. in 1929, since when the trendhas been upwards.
New Zealand has been caught in a net by big financial interests. Reports received from Ottawa and London show that, because vested interests in the Motherland and other European countries have a stranglehold on primary production in New Zealand, they can wield a big stick over that country. The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr. Coates, when in London recently, was feted and placed on exhibit as an ardent Imperialist, and the Prime Ministers of Australia, Canada and South Africa have been similarly lauded. The New Zealand Official Year-Book further states -
India captured the New Zealand jute market in the early “ eighties, “ and since then there has been a regular import of cornsacks, wool-packs, &c. In former times the colony imported its sugar from Fiji, hut in late years Fijihas been largely supplanted by the Dutch East Indies and Cuba.
New Zealand might well have imported sugar from Queensland and New South Wales instead of from Fiji. Should not inter-dominion trade be encouraged ? In 1920, New Zealand’s total imports from Australia were valued at £10,555,667. In 1924 the amount had dropped to £6,303,073, and in 1931 to £2,685,808. There must be some cause for this decline in trade. Possibly, as has been contended, the New Zealand Government is excluding goods from countries which make its trading conditions difficult. Obviously, something is wrong in the trade relations between Australia and the dominion. The Year-Book states -
Although imports of Australian origin in 1931 were £870,960 less than in 1930, Australia’s share, on a percentage basis, of the total imports in 1931 was the greatestsince 1925. Notwithstanding a decline of 42 per cent. in the total dominion imports for 1931, Australia recorded actual increases in a number of items, notably in dried fruits and oranges. Hardwood timber, the principal import in 1930, fell away in 1931 to less than one-quarter of the previous year’s figure.
Of confectionery, Australian exports to New Zealand in 1927 were valued at £146,137, but in 1931 the value was only £41,432.The figures for the intervening years show that export trade in this commodity to New Zealand had been gradually declining. Australia exported to the dominion in 1927 sugar valued at only £9,569, and in 1931 £8,467, whilst imports of sugar from the
Dutch East Indies to New Zealand increased from £262,924 in 1927 to £487,824 in 1931. From Cuba in 1928 New Zealand imported sugar valued at £322,684. The same position is revealed in the figures relating to New Zealand imports of miscellaneous apparel and ready-made clothing. Every one admits that the well-equipped clothing factories in Melbourne and Sydney produce a very fine article, although the trade union movements in both States have to force employers to observe arbitration court awards as regards wages and conditions of labour. I heard Senator Brennan claim to represent all sections of the people in Victoria, ‘but I have never heard him protest in this chamber against the sweated-labour conditions of a number of ready-made clothing factories in the industrial suburbs of Melbourne. In 1931 Australia exported to New Zealand ready-made clothing and miscellaneous apparel to the value of only £12,581. Contrast that trade with imports from Germany, valued at £46,711. The manufacturers of ready-made clothing in Hitler’s country are evidently doing a’ much better trade with New Zealand than are Australian manufacturers. In 1927 we exported to New Zealand boots and shoes valued at £6,647. In 1931 the trade had increased, to £27,466, notwithstanding the fact that Canada in that year exported to New Zealand boots and shoes valued at £77,998. We also do some trade with New Zealand in paints and varnishes. I think Senator Brennan will agree with me when I say that this, country is rich in the pigments and other materials for the manufacture of these commodities, and that’ we produce good articles. Nevertheless, our trade with Now Zealand in 1931 amounted to only £28,747. We do no trade at all with New Zealand in woollen piece goods, but I notice that Germany’s exports to that dominion in these lines in 1931 reached a value of £18,598. New Zealand manufactures largely of these lines, there being excellent woollen mills at Petonie, Christchurch, and Dunedin, and we may assume that, under the capitalistic system of supply and demand, the local mills cater adequately for the New Zealand market. In leather and leather goods, excluding boots and shoes, Australia’s trade with
New Zealand in 1931 amounted to £27,7.34, compared with imports from the United States of America valued at £47,61-9. We exported to the dominion in 1927 timber valued at £424,347, but in 1931 it had dropped to £124,244. For several years I was working in New Zealand, so I have some knowledge of the timber industry in that country. I saw on several occasions at the different ports - ‘Auckland, One.hunga, Gisborne, Napier, Wellington, Port Lyttleton, and Dunedin - great cargo carriers of the Union Steamship Company unloading hardwood from Tasmania. I should add that New Zealand has a limited supply of hardwoods, the principal being totari and rimu. I am satisfied that the Australian timber industry will reap no advantage from this agreement. Notwithstanding the fact that South Australia and New South Wales produce wines of a quality equal to any in the world, South Africa is to receive a preference of 6d. a gallon on still wines, and ls. a gallon on sparkling wines. Instead of the Government sending a Minister cap-in-hand, as it were, to cringe before the New Zealand Parliament, or a New Zealand Minister, in an endeavour to procure a satisfactory reciprocal trade agreement between the two countries, itwould appear, as suggested .by Senator Brown when discussing this measure, that it is all a matter of economics between various countries, including Great Britain. New Zealand is not a manufacturing country, her products consisting mainly of primary commodities. This agreement has been framed largely in the interests of commercial development, and for the benefit of capitalism. When commercialism and vested interests crack the whip, some one has to jump. Senator Massy-Greene had a very difficult task to perform, but if the Government appointed a permanent representative in New Zealand, we would have a better opportunity to get back to more satisfactory trading conditions such as existed in 1920 when, the value of our exports to New Zealand was £10,500,000, as compared with £2,000,000 to-day. Instead of giving relief to its wealthy friends by remitting taxes to wealthy land-owners who will contribute to Nationalist party funds at the next federal election, the Government should get on with the job of increasing our export trade to the dominion of New Zealand.
Debate (on motion by Senator Sampson) adjourned.
– In moving -
That the Senate do now adjourn,
I wish to inform Senator Dun can -Hughes, who addressed a question to me this morning regarding the export of barley to Belgium, that no advice has yet been received on the subject. The High Commissioner in London has proceeded to Belgium, and is, I understand, at present in consultation with the Belgian authorities.
– I wish to bring under the notice of the Vice-President of the Executive Council a matter of such urgency that, if there is any further delay in dealing with it, difficulty and dissatisfaction will immediately arise. On the 25th of last month I addressed a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior in. the following terms : -
The answer I received on the 15th of this month was to the f ollowing effect : -
Soon it will be too late for consideration of the matter to be of use to anybody. To-day I received the following lettergram : -
Advice from Administration read as follows. Leave of Absence for recreation for officers of the Northern Territory Public Service is governed by the Public Service Ordinance and the regulations thereunder. School teachers are officers of the Public Service and from this date they will not be eligible for six weeks leave when the schools are in vacation at Christinas time. In consequence they will be required to undertake other duties as directed during the Christmas vacation.
Yet I am told by the Minister that no report has been received from Mr. Brown on the subject of the Christmas vacation. The lettergram continues -
Teachers were then detailed off to various branches for the period of the Christmas vacation. Minister should have complete copy of Administrator’s letter which was dated 16th October. At interview 17th Administrator supervisor seconded teachers. The Administrator stressed departmental point that teachers were subject to the Public Service Ordinance and regulations in regard to leave and that there was nothing to state teachers were entitled toany school holidays. Administrator’s letter definitely cancelled Christmas vacation for teachers. Scholars of course still get vacation. Suggest you ask for copy of letter sent by Administrator to Secretary Brown by air mail leaving here 18th October. This may be responsible for change of front. No copy this letter available anybody here.
Honorable senators will realize that this matter is serious. It is not sufficient to say that Mr. Brown has not submitted a report. He ought to have done so. The position is that the leave of the teachers has been stopped and they are to be given other work. I ask the Minister to bring this matter before the Minister for the Interior.
– I listened withinterest to the statement of the honorable senator and the lettergram which he read. As I understand the position, this matter is governed by ordinance ; if so, it is not one for decision by Mr. Brown. It would have to go to the Minister himself, who would submit a draft ordinance to Cabinet if he proposed to make the alteration. I shall bring the honorable senator’s remarks under the notice of the Minister for the Interior and furnish a reply next week.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.57 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 November 1933, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1933/19331117_senate_13_142/>.